I-suck

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IWSG – Always Second-Guessing Myself

Published August 5, 2020 by Iphis of Scyros

So, following July’s Camp NotNaNo, I find I have new problems and complications.

A couple of months back, I posted about my plan to make a video game set in the world of my low-fantasy-with-a-few-steampunk-elements novel series.  (I call it a series, but I’ve only written the first novel, and it’s still in the rewriting phase.  Although the current draft is light years better than the first draft.)  A lot of July was spent working on developing and filling out a template containing all the information I would need for each country.  I only got through the first five…and technically didn’t actually get through any of them, because I added a bunch more questions so late in the month that I never answered any of the new questions.

Thing is, it took me that long to do that much world-building prep for the countries where I didn’t need to do a lot of research first.  Meaning, of course, that the other countries will take even longer to complete.  But that’s only a minor complication, not a problem.

The problem is that my plan was to have 26 countries in this fictional world.  (Although after putting together a really bad attempt at a map, I have been toying with the idea of reducing that to about 23 or 24, because one of the continents turned out much smaller on that map, which made me just stop and think about how hard it would be to create really distinct countries for a continent based on pre-European-contact South America, since most of the cultures we only know about archaeologically, leaving a lot of gaps in what we know, particularly since none of those cultures had writing.  Anyway, whether I end up making 23 countries or 26, if I made the international trade and travel game, that would mean a minimum of 23 cities to visit, yeah?  A bit large for a traditional RPG (I think most of the JRPGs I play tend to max out around 15 towns), but these wouldn’t be full towns for personal exploration, so on the surface that doesn’t sound too bad.

Only it would actually be a lot more than that.  The plan for the game, so far, is that you start out in the Britain-like country, working for an international trading conglomerate, and doing trade runs within the country.  Then after an event involving sky pirates, you end up moving up in the company, and get to do trade runs with the rest of the world.

If the home country has 5-8 towns and all the rest of the world has only one town per country, that’s going to be really lame.  But if all 23-26 countries also have 5-8 towns…!  That’s a minimum of 115 towns and a maximum of 208.

Even 115 towns is way more than I would be able to create, I’m fairly certain.  Not by myself.

I haven’t entirely given up on the idea, because I think it really would make a kick-ass game, but I’ve put it on the back burner, as an “after I’ve finished the novels” type thing.  And fortunately, I don’t have to do as much of the world-building in order to work on the novels.  They won’t be visiting every single country in the world in the novels, so for any country they don’t go to, I don’t need the nitty-gritty details, just the big picture, particularly about how the country relates to the other countries around it.  And some of it is not really relevant even for countries they do go to.  For example, the care of the elderly never came up in the first novel, so if I failed to answer that question on the Britain-equivalent, then that’s all right.  And it isn’t likely to come up in the brief time they’re in the France-like country at the beginning of the second book (they end up leaving pretty quickly, escorting the deposed-queen-in-hiding to her brother, the king of the next country over) either, so if I have proven unable to answer that question there, too, it’s not important.  On the other countries where I don’t know yet what the plot of the book will entail (technically, I don’t even know how many books there will be total or how many countries they’ll end up visiting, though I have definite plans for the ones based on Rome, Greece, Egypt, Japan and the Incan Empire), for the most part as long as I can answer the bigger questions, I can fill in the smaller details later if I realize the novel in question will require it.  But there’s still a massive amount of work to be done, in both research and world-building question-answering, and it’s still feeling quite overwhelming.

Meanwhile, a brief burst of renewed love for ancient Greek mythology had me spend a few days rereading large chunks of my quasi-Young Adult novels about the daughters of Achilles and Odysseus and the son of Aias, and I’m feeling like maybe they’re worth polishing up and releasing (for free via LeanPub and itch.io, of course) after all.  And although when I first realized that I said “no, after the world-building and its related novels,” wouldn’t it make more sense to do the rewrites on a completed novel series first, as that’s a shorter process than all that research and world-building and rewriting and writing?

Or am I just trying to make excuses to get out of so much tedious, low-level research?

Part of me fears it’s just excuses, in all honesty.

Right now, I’m still trying to finish the fanfiction piece I started in the final days of July, but after that…well, I want to start rereading Emma to be able to polish up the fusion piece I wrote based on it (since I kind of promised (well, strongly implied, anyway) I would start posting it in the fall) at the end of this month/beginning of next month, but after I’m done with that….I’m not sure.  I might go back to Atalanta and Ariadne for a while instead of keeping going with this tedious world-building.  Between what I’m working on right now and Emma, I want to keep working on the myths associated with the world-building; there are a lot of myths still to write for pretty much all the cultures I’ve already got myths for (I stupidly forgot to include tales of heroes (outside of the epics) in the ones based on Greece and Rome!), and I haven’t even started the myths inspired by the Scandinavian/Teutonic myths.

Ultimately, I’m feeling really torn about what to do.  Especially because now that I’m unemployed, I want to be spending my time working on something that I could somehow make some money at, which means I absolutely should not be writing, because my writing is garbage and will never get me paid.  (Yeah, I could try to make money off it, self-publishing my novels and asking money in exchange for them, but it’s not like anyone would actually cough up said money.  They’d look at the preview chapters and nope right on out of there.  If it’s free, there’s at least a tiny chance one or two people might think the story sounded interesting enough to put up with my crappy writing to get at it.)  Unfortunately, there’s not really much I can do that people would pay me for.  There are all sorts of roadblocks cropping up in between me and getting paid to proofread others’ works, and there’s nothing else I’m good at.  (Okay, technically, I was pretty okay at my job, but no museums are going to be hiring for a couple of years at the rate things are going, so that’s not really relevant.)

Maybe I should try writing non-fiction.  I did have an idea to get together with a former co-worker and put out a book about a particularly underdocumented doll line, but that would depend on her still having her notes on the subject and on our being able to convince the director of the museum to give us copies of all the photos that were taken a few years back of the museum’s large collection of that kind of doll.  It would also depend on getting photos from other museums and from private collectors.  The private collectors part would probably be a lot easier to accomplish than the museum photos.  Still, I should call her at some point and see if she’s interested.  It would at least be something slightly productive to do…

The morning was okay, but…

Published July 24, 2020 by Iphis of Scyros

…the afternoon got ugly.  (Like, I’m not gonna be able to renew my plates until fall ugly.  Which means no driving after the end of this month.  Because this state is evil.)

Uh, anyway.  I got some random little stuff done today.  A few notes here and there on various things in the world-building template, and a little bit of work on the myths for the France-like country.  And I proof-read the Wonder Woman fix-it fic.

And then because the afternoon was so horrible, I ended up posting two more chapters to the Velvet Goldmine fanfic I’m in the middle of posting, and the entirety of the Wonder Woman fic.  (I have to admit to a certain amount of curiosity if anyone’s even going to read it, let alone like it.  Literally everything else in that fandom that had “fix-it” as one of it tags seemed to be about stupid Steve Trevor.  Ugh.  The entire Greek pantheon is infinitely more important than one annoying dude who’d be dead by the present anyway!)

So…yeah, not really the greatest day ever, as far as my Camp NotNaNo experience goes, but I’ve had worse!

Time today:  59 minutes

Total time in July to date: 24:06:18.26

Oops

Published July 8, 2020 by Iphis of Scyros

Forgot to post yesterday’s progress on the Camp NotNaNo front.

Yesterday’s total was 7:00:43.73, which made yesterday’s minutes ~35.

Today’s time: ~30 minutes

Total time in July to date: 7:30:07.09

And I’m still not done with filling out that template just for one country!! The frustrating thing is that most of that info is stuff I’m going to need to know, between books and game, but dang is it boring just trying to assemble the bare info!!

I may have to let myself do some regular old writing if I’m gonna meet my goal of 31 hours spent working on my writing over the course of July.

*sigh*

This game thing started out sounding like an awesome idea (and I think the end result has the potential to be really cool) but it’s been really boring so far trying to work on it. Maybe I should let myself do some of the writing for the events before I finish the world-building. (It does start out with a section where you’re not allowed to leave the starter country, after all…)

It was just not on today

Published July 6, 2020 by Iphis of Scyros

I slept badly, which makes my body acutely aware of everything all day, so the first time I sat down to write, I literally gave up again without even doing a thing. (I’m not positive I even opened the word processor!)

Eventually got over it a bit and did a little, but not much.

And I’m not even sure how much, because at one point I stopped the timer to go get a glass of water and then forgot to restart it right away when I got back.

Today’s time: ~24 minutes

Time in July’s Camp NotNaNo to date: ~6:25:15.04

IWSG: What happened?

Published June 3, 2020 by Iphis of Scyros

I can’t believe it’s June already.  So little is happening in my life. 😦

I have at least accomplished one thing during this lockdown, writing-wise, and that’s to have written a 63k Regency-era gay romance.  Uh, okay, calling it a “gay romance” is going too far, especially since it’s only fanfiction.  (And there’s a pretty heavy emphasis on a straight romantic relationship as well as the gay one, though the straight relationship was supposed to be more of a side thing.)  Still, apart from the language starting to modernize towards the end and one reference to the Epic of Gilgamesh, I don’t think I did too much that was anachronistic, so that at least is a win, right?  (I’m going to have to replace the Gilgamesh reference in editing, probably with either the Illiad or the Aeneid, but neither of them fits as perfectly as Gilgamesh, sadly.)

Anyway, I tried to go back to my usual fare (in fact, to something I had left unfinished in order to write the Emma fusion) but it simply has not been working.  I kept dithering and trying to get out of writing the next scene because it was a confrontation with a character I don’t really “get” and thus don’t write well.  But said scene is one of the ones I’ve been planning the longest, and I have some very concrete plans for it, even with a little bit of dialog prepared.  And yet I could not motivate myself to write it.

So, I took that as a sign that I needed to do something else for a while, and decided to do another revision/rewrite on my low-fantasy-with-a-slight-element-of-steampunk.  And I get to the first page, a recruiting poster for an international trading company, and realize that no, before I can properly work on this dang thing, I need to actually finish my worldbuilding, rather than just going blithely along only making up what it feels like I’ll need for this book.  (It’s the first in a series, y’see.)

But the more I’m thinking about it while staring at that first page, the more I’m thinking it feels like a video game’s intro text.  See, a while back, I backed a game on Kickstarter called Silk (now available on Steam and Switch), which is a retro-style game in which you’re a trader on the Silk Road in the later Roman Empire.  (Not super-late, mind you.  But not the early heights, either.)  That was one of the main things I was thinking about in this decision, along with the trading mini-game in my favorite ever RPG series, Suikoden.

So, my current project is not to write fiction, but to write the text of a video game.  There are a number of programs that don’t require too much programming knowledge in order to actually make a game (I’m currently thinking of using RPG Maker, specifically), but I’m going to lay out the basic text and stuff before I even look into the idea of assembling the game itself.  It’s going to force me to do a lot of the stuff that I normally leave for the end or even side-step around, like hammering out names and trying to figure out what the world map looks like.  (Of course, I can’t draw worth a darn, so I’m going to try and use a site that I found ages ago that lets you design maps online.  It’s intended more for the use of DMs of D&D sessions, but it should work fine for my purposes, too.  Naturally, if I end up actually making the game (never a sure thing that I’ll follow through on anything), I’d have to redesign the map in-engine, but at least I’d know what it looked like.  And more importantly, I’ll know what it looks like as I move forward in writing the other books, so I know how possible or impossible it is for my characters to want to go from place A to place B, and how many places need to be in between.)

I put together a list already of the nations of the world of the books/game, starting with just the ones I already had defined or planned, which really forced me to confront just how Eurocentric the original plan was:  it started out with a whopping five countries based on European cultures (though it’s a fantasy world, each culture is inspired by/based on a real one), whereas Africa only had three (of which I had only specified two), and South America only had one.  (North America had four…unless you decide to split off Central America as its own continent.  I can’t help it; I spent several semesters studying the cultures of Mexico pre- and immediately post-European contact, so of course I had to include both the Mexica (aka Aztecs) and the Maya.  And unlike so many other people, I am absolutely not going to combine them.)  So I’ve evened it out now, with five countries on each of the major continents, though I have to research before I can even decide what some of the other cultures I’m being inspired by even are (especially in terms of African cultures, which I am sadly less knowledgeable about than any other continent), and still only the one country on the smaller continent, though depending how big I make it, I may put several “tribes” in that country to allow more varied influence from the Oceanic cultures.  Of course, this kind of research would be a lot easier if the world wasn’t still in COVID lockdown (though my area is starting to reopen, which is not necessarily a good thing, in my opinion, as I think it’s too early and is going to lead to a renewed outbreak, to say nothing of the spiraling descent of this country into a police state) and I could go to the library or even the bookstore.  Though at least bookstores deliver. 😉  (Technically, libraries also have curbside pick-up and stuff in some areas, but realistically for this kind of stuff I’d rather get books from the university library than a regular one anyway, and I don’t think I get to check out books from the university library anymore, given that I graduated some time ago. 😛  )

Overall, it should be fun to work with the nitty-gritty of developing the whole world, advancing various cultures along their relative historical paths until they all match up to the same level of technology (mid- to late 19th century) with various extra factors added to world development and certain other factors removed.  The added factors are primarily the giant animals (the oceans are too dangerous due to the giant sea monsters, so all international travel is by means of animal-powered airships, many pulled/carried by giant birds, bats and even insects, though of course the standard winged horses are also present) and the magic-like effects of various alchemical potions.  It’s the removed factors that make it especially fun, though.  Due to a mystical event (central to the overarching story of the series), one thousand years before the action of the novels, the world was made to forget that war had ever existed.  On top of that, there is no colonialism (in part because everyone is at a common technological level since every nation has access to various flying animals for airships, and in part due to magically-repressed race memory of the entire human species having been forced to serve the fae for many thousands of years) and no religious strife, as no religions ever developed that sought out converts.  However, the effects of the mystical event are beginning to wear off, so while very few people realize that there used to be wars in the distant past, war has been returning over the last century, leading to the novels taking place in such chaotic times that many people were beginning to think they were living in the end times.  (Ack, that reminds me:  I need to figure out what each culture thinks the afterlife is like.)

So, yeah, bottom line is it’s very different from anything I’ve tried to write before (while still being directly related to something I’ve already written) so hopefully it will help to rejuvenate my writing brain.  Or re-energize it, or whatever it is it needs.

IWSG – Everyone’s Talking About It…

Published April 1, 2020 by Iphis of Scyros

…and probably for a lot of writers (who don’t have children to deal with) it’s been beneficial, being forced to stay in the house all day, giving so much extra time to write.

I feel like I’m actually spending a lot less time writing since my area went into lockdown.    Partially that’s due to lack of momentum on my current project, but it’s also partially because one of my chief writing times was in the morning before going to work.  I always set my alarm for 6:00, but I don’t have to get ready to go until 8:30, so I have lots of time to wake my brain up, which I usually do by writing.

Only now I don’t have that time, because no way I’m getting up at 6:00 when I don’t have to.  Admittedly, I’m actually one of the lucky ones whose job is considered at least partially essential, so I’m still going in to work a bit; for the first week of the lockdown, I had hours as normal, and this week I’ll be working one day, and next week as well.  Dunno about after that.  (The current lockdown order in my area is until April 22, but there’s no way the COVID threat will have passed by then, so I expect it will be extended.  Or even if it isn’t, that work will not proceed as usual.)

Of course, I could and should spend some of that new free time writing.  But I have a backlog of books to read and video games to play, and my house is in desperate need of a thorough cleaning (and when I say cleaning, I mean junk-clearing, not deep-scrubbing…though it actually needs that, too), and I just suddenly developed this new desperate desire to create a really elaborate boxed room of an artist’s loft, complete with a small walk-out balcony with a small garden box.  I don’t even know why, but it’s practically a mania.  (Seriously, I spent half the afternoon trying to figure the best (and most cost-effective) method of getting two fully poseable 1/12 scale dolls to be the artist and her model.  Even went ahead and ordered them…though I don’t think I’ll end up using both of them for the artist and her model because I ordered two different types of dolls and they’re really, really, really incompatible.  Like, one of them is super-real and the other is anime-style.)  I don’t even have a place to put said box room at the moment, until I clean the house, for crying out loud!

Um…

Sorry, that’s not what I’m supposed to be talking about.  Although I do hope that having ordered the dolls (and their clothes and their wigs) will have satiated the urge enough to put the rest of it on the back burner at least until I can actually, you know, clear up the space where I’d put the dang thing.  Anyway, I’m hoping that my new writing project will energize me back into writing.

I know I mentioned a couple of times in past IWSG posts (which have sadly become almost the entirety of this blog at the moment) that I had written a fusion fan-fiction combining my favorite movie, Velvet Goldmine, with Kenneth Branagh’s 1989 film of Henry V, because Christian Bale was in both of them, and I was combining his roles in the fusion.  (Well, more like sticking his Velvet Goldmine character into the life of his Henry V character, but…same diff, right?)  Well, as I might have also mentioned (I’d check, but I spent so long on stupid online shopping for needless toys that it’s now dinner time and I promised myself I wouldn’t have dinner until I got this post written up for tomorrow morning), one of the other fusion ideas I had at the same time was to combine Velvet Goldmine with the 1996 film of Emma, because Ewan McGregor was in both of them.  And, honestly, the character of Frank Churchill combines pretty well with Curt Wild…aside from the one’s extreme heterosexuality and exceptionally privileged upbringing.  They even both sing. 😛

Anyway, because Emma also featured Toni Colette (who played the wife of the fellow rock star Curt Wild was having his passionate love affair with in Velvet Goldmine) as Harriet Smith, I felt I needed to read the book first to really get an understanding of the situation and characters and how to add not just one Velvet Goldmine character, but two.  (The original fusion story was in response to a prompt requesting one of the Velvet Goldmine romances be transferred into another film in one of the two actors’ massive and diverse filmographies.)  Because you can’t have a Jane Austen novel where one of the primary characters is left without a romance, right?  Although technically I could just leave Harriet as Harriet despite her sharing Mandy’s actress, but that would be weird and no fun — but there is absolutely no way Mandy Slade would settle for Robert Martin.  Mandy can only marry Brian Slade.  (The fact that we don’t know Mandy’s maiden name will suit my story well; she’ll just become Amanda Smith.  (I figure the Regency era would probably not be terribly keen on the nickname “Mandy.”))

So, I’ve been reading the book — and quite astonished at just how much the movie left out (no wonder they decided to make a new film adaptation of it!) — and am now almost finished with it.  Scratch that, by the time you’re reading this, I will be finished with it.  And I’ve made a lot of notes about where to add Arthur (Christian Bale’s character) — as the apprentice to Mr. Perry, Highbury’s apothecary — and of course Brian will become Brian, Lord Slade, famous (or infamous) for the poem “Childe Maxwell,” a decision I came to as soon as I realized I was going to add Brian to the mix, because there is no more suitable Regency equivalent for Brian Slade than Lord Byron.  (In fact, Lord Byron is pretty much the perfect comparison for Brian Slade, period.)  Such a poet — who can go anywhere and do whatever he pleases — is easy to insert, especially when the original story already has a flighty, wealthy young man of just the sort who might associate with a Byronic poet.  (Uh, except that Frank Churchill is not really intelligent enough for the real Lord Byron to have wanted to consort with him…)  I came to my decision about Arthur’s role pretty early on the course of reading the book (when I realized just how much of a fixture Mr. Perry would be at the Woodhouse home not necessarily during the action of the book, but in the day-to-day life outside the story), because it would give him good access to important events and characters without his being somewhere he would seem to be inappropriate, and also because it would make him someone so unimportant — insignificant, in fact! — that the characters from the book would pay him no heed, and go right on with their own lives whether he was there or not, because he would be to their mind barely more than a servant, and therefore invisible.  I was glad to see, as the book progressed, that it was going to be a really ideal position for him throughout, with the bonus that this way I could even include the drug addiction plot thread from the movie, because as an apprentice apothecary, Arthur could get laudanum for them without it seeming the least bit suspicious, which would give him some internal conflict as he began to realize that no, they weren’t suffering from terrible headaches, but were taking the opium in order to seek pleasure.

All in all, I’m pretty excited about the project, it should be a lot of fun, and yet I also feel like a total freaking hypocrite.  For two reasons, actually.  The first is pretty simple; quite some time ago, I posted a “free plot idea” on this blog, suggesting an Austen-like romance where it turned out that one or more of the handsome young gallants was secretly gay, and was having to lead a double life as he tried to find a love that would make him happy without exposing himself to the harsh punishments his era would have doled out.  I posted it because I felt there was no way I could write it myself, lacking both the subtlety and understanding of the human mind to write it well, and lacking the time to research it properly.  I haven’t increased dramatically in human understanding (if anything I might have gotten worse), and although I now have time to do research, I’m not likely to actually do so.  And actually I couldn’t really do very good research even if I wanted to, what with all the libraries in the area being closed for the duration.

The second reason I feel like a hypocrite is that sometime after I posted that plot idea, I went looking to see if there already was anything like that out there.  All I found (with a search which was probably not very thorough) was a book where someone had re-written Pride and Prejudice to make it a gay romance.  I didn’t even look very closely to see if they had changed the sexuality of one or more characters, or their sex.  I was too outraged that someone would wreak such changes on one of my favorite books to find out the particulars of how they had done it.  (Alas, if only I had known what someone was going to do to said book so soon after that!  Making it gay is at least a change for a good reason, and happy same-sex romances are always nice to have.)  But here I am, about to mutilate a different one of Jane Austen’s novels to make it gay.  (And while it’s not my favorite, I’m sure it’s someone’s favorite.)  Admittedly, I’m doing it in a weird and round-about way, and technically I’m actually trying to turn the movie gay, not the book, but I’ll be borrowing a lot of events from the book that didn’t make it into the movie, because if I stick to just what’s in the movie, I’ll be limiting myself too much; the book’s events lend themselves to my ideas better.  (Though I will be watching the movie again before I start, to refresh my memory as to just which events were actually in it.  Also to revisit the entirely invented first introduction of Frank Churchill, because that was a freakin’ awesome character introduction.)

Of course, even as excited as I am about the project, it may not kickstart me back into writing properly again.  The weather’s getting warmer again, which means I can’t sit in my nice comfy leather chair for any length of time before the leather starts heating up and I get unbearably uncomfortable and have to sit on the floor, which is bad for my back and not particularly conducive to writing.  (Last summer I eventually got to the point of sitting in a nearby wooden chair with my computer on a folding table, and that worked pretty well.  But ironically it’s not warm enough for that yet, because my legs and especially my feet are as sensitive to cold as my back has become sensitive to the heat of the leather.)  And I might quickly find myself overwhelmed by trying to write for the period and the setting.  I don’t know.  There are so many question marks and uncertainties.

But these days, there are question marks and uncertainties about pretty much everything.

andiamtotallynotintothis

Published November 24, 2019 by Iphis of Scyros

When you find yourself writing the above word, you know something’s wrong.

I know I’ve been delayed by a lot of stupid stuff on this year’s (unofficial) NaNo project, and much of it’s actually, you know, valid stuff that would get in the way of any writing project. Like the chair thing.

But this is…I don’t even know what this is.

I’m not gelling with this project, for whatever reason. I love the idea behind the world of it, but I just don’t have any feel (or feeling) for the characters, and I don’t even know who the baddie is or what his/her agenda is or anything.

So for tonight I’m calling it quits at a measly 201 words written (for 44,974 total so far) and doing something I should have done on Thursday, since the universe was clearly telling me I should.

That, of course, is to watch Velvet Goldmine.

See, on Thursday, I went to see Ford v. Ferrari. Which stars Christian Bale. And there was a trailer in front of it for a new movie directed by Todd Haynes. The only way the universe could have been more obvious about it would be if there had also been a trailer for Birds of Prey in front of it, too. (I wish there had been; I don’t go looking for trailers online, so I haven’t seen any trailers for it yet. Not that I want to see Ewan as a bad guy (like, ever), but I do hope the movie will be good, ’cause Harley’s a great character I’m really fond of…when she’s written well…)

If everything I just said sounds like nonsense, then click on the Velvet Goldmine tag on this post (I’m on the phone app right now and can’t figure out how to do links to old posts) and find my Netflix review of it, and then all will make sense. 😉

Anyway, I hope watching my favorite movie will reenergize my writing juices (ew, that sounds gross), and that tomorrow I’ll get plenty of writing done. Even if it’s on some other project.

So, I’m an idiot…

Published November 16, 2019 by Iphis of Scyros

Yup, all that stuff in yesterday’s post about the sound on my computer being dead?

I…um…didn’t notice my music player had its own volume control set to zero.

*cough*

I mean, it explains a lot; I had been listening to it and my hand accidentally rubbed against the touchpad in such a way as to count as a click of the mouse button (I hate that it can do that!) and then the music had suddenly stopped, but…

In my own defense, that does not explain why the volume adjust sound didn’t play, but at least it turned out to be something I could fix myself!

At least that let me get writing done today. I finished the first chapter and moved on to the second one, with a word count of 1,472, for a total of 33,429.

Which is still under the daily recommended word count, but…well, it’s ’cause I wasn’t able to write in the morning again. (My breakfast keeps disagreeing with me.) Once I can get some writing done in the morning again, I should be fine.

Finally, first day on the actual project!

Published November 11, 2019 by Iphis of Scyros

LOL, only took me ten days of other stuff before getting to what I would have started on the first if the NaNo site hadn’t been such a train wreck!

Anyway, so today I’m gonna get to the word count first, and then the actual talking about things.  I wrote 1,886 words of the first chapter of the official November novel, making my word count for the month 26,340.  Or possibly 359 words more than that, because that’s how many words I wrote finalizing some plot details.  (Actually, I wrote a few more than that in other parts of the document, but I forgot to count those.  And technically I also wrote down a couple of plots for things I want to write later, but I don’t want to just count every single word I write without any rhyme or reason, y’know?)

The annoying thing about today’s word count is how small it is.

You may be thinking that it doesn’t seem all that small.  I mean, it’s over the official “how many words you have to write a day to reach 50k” after all.  But the thing is…between one thing and another, I didn’t actually start writing until almost 4:30 this afternoon.

Which’d be fine if I’d, say, had to go to work today.  Or had to leave the house to go to lunch with my parents.  Or had a doctor’s appointment.  But no, I didn’t leave the house all day.  Didn’t even get out of my pjs.  (Yes, I’m that lazy.)

It’s just that I slept late, and then I’m reading this really interesting book, and I had a couple of figurines I wanted to finally debox but then I had trouble getting them correctly assembled with each other, and…just all sorts of little stuff kept happening.

Aaaaaanyway…about that plot summary.

I think I mentioned before that I had bought this book called Querent, which has a system to use tarot cards to help DMs for tabletop RPGs come up with storylines.  And that I was going to use it to help out with coming up with the story for this project.

Using it was actually slightly derailed because although I’ve been collecting tarot decks lately, they’re all actually really hard to shuffle because the cards are too big.  (I have no idea how people do it!  Maybe I should look up a how-to video on shuffling tarot cards…)  But then I remembered those cheap little racks of square book-and-bonus things at the checkout at Barnes & Noble and how one had a deck of small tarot cards, and I picked that up.  (Formerly, they had had one with a smaller version of the standard Rider-Waite-Smith deck, but they one they have now is new art only inspired by that deck.  But the important thing is that it’s the same size as standard playing cards, so I can successfully shuffle it without hurting my hands.)

It’s kind of interesting how it turned out.  Some of the results really played beautifully off each other.  Trying to write down the results as they come in is actually really hard (the Querent book is huge) so instead of doing that this time, I just took phone pictures of everything.  I don’t want to bog down my blog with all those pictures, so I’m putting them in a Google album if anyone’s interested.

I’m going to go ahead and retype the plot summary, though.  It’s kind of entertaining how vague it is.  Also I like how it’s both clearly inspired by the results I got and yet also totally my own thing.  So here it is:

At the start of the main story (ie after “Before the Flood”), Merlynne has just dropped off the career path she embarked on after being accepted to the wizarding academy (as it were) she’s writing the application for in class in “Before the Flood.”  Most likely, she’s done the equivalent of dropping out late in a PhD program.  Wolfgirl will also have just given up on something, but I’m not sure what yet.  They meet at rock bottom in a pub.  Something terrible and tragic happens in that pub, and they get swept up in events together because of it.  Probably what happens is that the pub gets flooded, destroying that section of town, causing untold harm to thousands, but because they were in exactly the right place when it happened, they not only survived but gained new abilities.  They’re hoping they can somehow trade away these new abilities to undo the flood, or at least reverse it a bit.  They will eventually learn that they could, in theory, undo the entire flood, but that would wipe out dozens of sentient species and destroy the economies of pretty much every civilization the flood has touched, and they know they can’t do that.  Before they set out, though, it’s a local nobleman who tells them about the way they might be able to undo some of the flood’s effects, though he begs them to stay on at his court, offering such great rewards that they’re sorely tempted to stay.  The proferred rewards include things they’ve secretly wished for.  By the time they learn that they can’t undo part of the flood without undoing all of it (perhaps by visiting the equivalent of the Southern Oracle), they should have learned about the villain and the threat he poses to…um…whatever he poses a threat to.

It went on slightly longer as I theorized about what he posed a threat to, but I’ve omitted that part because a) I’ve decided what it was and b) it would sound really weird.  I mean, like, more so than usual with me.  (Like weirder than what I said yesterday about drunk velociraptors.)  “Before the Flood,” obviously, is the first chapter.  Or possibly prologue.  Or maybe it’s the first of a series of short stories if this doesn’t really turn out to be novel length.  Dunno.  (Oh, and as you may have guessed, the flooding in question in the plot summary does not involve water.  It’s a more magical type of flooding.)

Oh, and no, the secondary character’s not actually named Wolfgirl.  It’s her nickname.  Because…um…actually, I forgot why.  I came up with something really fun on that, but…I thought I was going to remember it so I didn’t write it down only then I didn’t remember it.  I think maybe she’s part werewolf.  Or something.  I really don’t remember.  I’ll figure it out when I get to her introduction.  (I know, I’m such a pantser, even when I plot.)

A couple of other things about today’s writing session.  So, this was the scene I mentioned in the summary, because it was always how I planned to start this chapter, wherein Merlynne is applying to a magical university (no, it’s nothing like Hogwarts) and working on her application in the middle of a history lesson that gives the reader a bit of background information about how our world became her world.  (I won’t go into full details but I will say that elves from outer space play a part in it.)  I was getting a giggle out of writing the history lesson, because it’s a full-on Ben Stein in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off type of thing.  ;P  Because why not?

I agonized briefly over what to name the university she went to, because as soon as I got two words into it, I realized I wanted it to have a stupidly generic acronym.  I thought about trying to contort the English language to give it an acronym that was pronounced (even if not quite spelled) “school” but eventually I settled on CAMPUS:  Centauri Academy of Magical, Pseudomagical and Unknown Sciences.  Because ridiculousness is its own reward.  (In fiction.)

I also had to invent the name of an alien, magical, or future animal of some sort.  (I haven’t decided any details about it yet, only I wanted to have her say something less sweary and more creative than “bullsh*t”.)  I’m terrible at making up names.  Which is why I used this:

This is a Dice Coin, which spins like a top, and you stop it with your finger then use whatever’s to the side of your finger.  This one has the alphabet on it (and sometimes it has given me brilliant, almost Adamsy results, and other times it’s given me gibberish), but most of them have numbers and function as ordinary dice.  Today, it gave me only consonants, so I inserted a couple of vowels and got “wigvadh.”

I’m not 100% satisfied with that, to be honest.

But I’ve come up with worse in the past, so for the moment it’s staying.  (It did, at least, serve its purpose of letting me keep moving with the scene instead of sitting there agonizing over what to name the beings whose tripe the rumor of Merlynne being part-elf was a load of.)

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