iwsg

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IWSG: A Strange Self-Realization

Published March 4, 2020 by Iphis of Scyros

So, not long ago, someone who had been an intern under my supervision asked me for a letter of recommendation. As I was writing said letter, I came to a sudden and actually somewhat alarming realization about myself and the way I process the world around me.

You know how some people are said to miss the forest for the trees? Well, I realized that I have no trouble seeing the forest or the leaves, but I miss the trees altogether.

I know that sounds nuts, but…it is what it is, you know? I have no trouble with the big, broad, sweeping ideas, but the basics elude me, even as I get bogged down in the minutiae.

And this applies to my fiction writing in all kinds of ways. When I’m approaching a new project, I always have this broad strokes idea of roughly what I want it to be or where I want it to go, and I know little things I want to have happen here and there, but I have a great deal of difficulty scraping together the connecting tissue like the actual events of the plot, and sometimes even the characters.

Unfortunately, as this is a very basic “how my brain works” kind of thing, I’m not sure what, if anything, I can hope to do about it. I mean, it does, at least, give me a clue as to how to approach my problem areas, but…

Amusingly, I’m kind of living it right now. I had this big idea, and some little details, and now I’m floundering with everything else.

I’m going to have to spend a while just trying to think of a way to work around this, I guess.

IWSG: Sort of Stalled?

Published February 5, 2020 by Iphis of Scyros

So, I’m in a weird place with my writing, a place which is not easy to define.

Okay, technically, part of where I am is easy to define:  I’m 170ish hours into the throes of “omg, how can I do anything else when I still haven’t scaled every single obstacle in Hyrule looking for Koruks? or, like, you know, defeated Ganon or some junk.”  I may be a couple years late, but having finally gotten a Switch, I have finally gotten to experience the ultimate gaming freedom that is The Legend of Zelda:  Breath of the Wild.  Because it’s hard to put down a game that lets you get from point A to point B in a straight line, even if that means scaling two mountains, a sheer cliff face, and traversing a couple of rivers.  And which has little spirits hiding under almost every rock.  It’s kind of a waste that there’s, you know, a story and stuff.  Takes away from the exploring.

Um, *ahem*, sorry.  That was not what I’m supposed to be posting about.  (In my defense, one of the reasons I started playing it when I did was that I sprained my ankle really badly on New Year’s Eve (I can’t remember, did I mention that in last month’s post?) and so I was facing a very long period of having to just sit around with my foot up trying to let it rest.)

So, my writing.  Although I’m still trying to get some original fiction written (just did another editing pass through the one I actually plan on releasing (for free) via LeanPub, in fact, though it still needs more work), I’m also still enjoying playing around with fanfiction, because why shouldn’t I?  But I’ve hit a point where I feel like…maybe there’s not much point in posting it online.

Oddly, I’m at this point because the last thing I posted was actually well received.  I mean, for me.  For a fandom that’s a bit over twenty years old and was never all that huge to begin with (what with being about ’70s (male) glam rock stars in love with each other).  I think I mentioned it at some point, a story I wrote for the fanfic Yuletide exchange, fusing my fandom with the Branagh Henry V, because Christian Bale was in both of them.  It’s a very unusual story for me in a lot of ways (not just because of the whole Shakespeare thing, though that is of course part of it), and it was largely the product of a momentary burst of inspiration (I guess I should watch more Shakespeare), and I ended up producing something much better than my usual works, which is of course why it was better received.

But I can’t replicate the process that led to the story, because inspiration doesn’t work like that.  Especially since even when you are inspired, it’s not always going to bleed over into the final product.  I tried a couple of times to do a similar fusion for the version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream that Bale was in ten years later, and it completely didn’t work, to an appalling degree.  (Partially because he was playing one of the least likable characters out of a play that featured quite a bumpercrop of unpleasant people, whereas his character in Velvet Goldmine is a shy sweetie.  Those just don’t mesh well.)

I always have a backlog of unposted fics, because I don’t like having two of my works next to each other on the list when the works are sorted by date edited, and new fics in that fandom don’t go up very often.  But in this case, I could have started posting something right away, because there was something that went up only a few days later.  There have been several more since.  But I haven’t posted anything.

I don’t even know if I want to.

I had thought I’d be different and post the cross-over I wrote with Doctor Who.  Only I was feeling unsure about it, and then the new season started, and unlike last season, it’s been terrible so far.  (I am at least one episode behind, though.  Um, the last one I saw was the one with The Jidoon. That’s where I am.)  So after that, I’m much less tempted to post it, especially since it’s the new Doctor in the fic.  (But with my favorite companion from the original show.  Because reasons.)  I did write a fix-it fic for one of the episodes of the new season that was particularly awful and yet also particularly easy to fix, but I’m reluctant to post that, too, even though it’s a different fandom and so none of the Velvet Goldmine readers are likely to see it.  Which may not even really have anything to do with my hesitation anyway.

I kind of want to post a different one, because I’ve already written its sequel, which crosses over with another favorite movie of mine, Hail, Caesar!, which gets even less fanfiction love (I think the most recent post was in 2018?) even though it’s so much more recent, but…I don’t know.

I don’t know about anything.

It’s not like I’d stop writing them, even if I stop posting them, so…I just sort of have to sit back and figure out if there’s really any point to posting them, and if it’s actually what I want to do or not.

Tragically, not the kind of question that can have an easy answer.

Also, I find myself in a mood lately to write stories where love is rejected (or simply not present), which is not what anyone wants to see with in fiction for this fandom (not even me), but…I dunno.

Serious case of listlessness. That would be part of it.

IWSG: A New Writing Year

Published January 1, 2020 by Iphis of Scyros

Happy New Year, all!

My 2019, from a writing perspective, was all over the map.  I had a lot of struggles getting back into the writing habit after being unable to write for a long time due to the final semesters of my Master’s Degree.  And a lot of my plans just sort of fizzled out and got left on the wayside.  And of course there was the whole surreal issue of not officially taking part in NaNoWriMo for the first time since 2011.

On the other hand, I’ve had some successes with my writing since graduation.  Well, “successes” may be overstating it.  But I’ve written some stuff that I felt was pretty good.  It’s just fanfic, but…hey, writing is writing, right?

Towards the end of November, I wrote a short piece fusing my favorite movie, Velvet Goldmine, with the Branagh version of Henry V, since Christian Bale was in both.  It was a simple piece, just adding in another Velvet Goldmine character as a minstrel-turned-soldier, setting up that they knew each other, and then having him intervene as the French troops are slaughtering the boys with the baggage, allowing a happy(ish) ending for the VG boys, and forcing King Hal to carry a less attractive corpse during Non Nobis.  It was a treat for a fanfic exchange called Yuletide.  (Treat meaning that I wasn’t signed up, and therefore wasn’t assigned a request to write for and didn’t receive a story from someone else, just that I answered someone else’s request just because I felt like it.)  The stories went up on Christmas, and since then this one has gotten the kind of response, numerically, that it would normally take three to six months to get, if it would get that response at all.  Part of that may just be because the stories remain anonymous for a week, so no one knows yet that I wrote it, so anyone who normally avoids my fics because they know my writing sucks wouldn’t know to avoid it.  Or maybe people just decided to read it because they were intrigued to see the bizarre combination of characters from a movie about 1970s glam rock being inserted into the Hundred Year War.

The recipient of the treat left a long gushing comment about how much they loved it, which really drove home something else:  the fact that I not only am not used to receiving compliments/praise, but that it actually makes me deeply uncomfortable.  That may actually be part of the reason I decided a long time ago that I didn’t want to try to publish anything:  no matter what happened, if I published something, I’d lose, because if everyone hated it then I’d be crushed by all the negative comments, but if people loved it I’d be mortified by their praise, too.  There’s not really anything I can do about it, but at least I understand myself a bit better now.

Another thing I understand due to all the stuff I’ve written this past year (but especially in the last six months or so) is that I’m actually really bad at long form fiction, particularly things with a big, epic plot, but I can do pretty well with shorter, less ambitious works.  Unfortunately for me, a lot of the ideas that come to me are for long things with big, epic plots.  About all I can do with that knowledge is to try and come up with smaller ideas in the future, but I don’t really have control over what kind of ideas come to me.

My plans for 2020 are nebulous right now, in part because it’s hard for me to concentrate on anything because I seriously twisted my ankle earlier today.  (Well, yesterday by the time this is posted.  Pre-writing and all.)  Hopefully it’s just a heavy sprain, but if I tore a ligament or something…ugh, I don’t even want to think about it.  I’ll go to a doctor with it on Thursday or Friday if it’s not a bit better by then.  (Though I spent a lot of today with it on ice, and I’ve been keeping it elevated, so hopefully…well, we’ll just see.)

At least at first, I’ll be sticking with the fan fiction, but I’m still hoping to get back to that low fantasy with steampunk elements.  As long as I basically maintain my writing habit, I’ll be content.  On the writing score, anyway.

IWSG – Looking Back on NotNaNo

Published December 4, 2019 by Iphis of Scyros

Obviously, it was surreal not to be officially taking part in NaNoWriMo.  This is the first time since 2011 that I haven’t done it.

And yet I was still doing it, just not officially.  I still wrote 50,000+ words over the course of November.  A lot more than the 55k I counted, in fact, since I was also posting daily to this blog in order to leave an “official” tally.  (Though technically there was one day that had no post and one that had two, because I took so long one particular day that the post didn’t go up until after midnight.)

Of course, I didn’t do things the normal way in any other regard, either.  I didn’t drop what I had been writing to go straight on to my brand new project.  I didn’t get to the new project until almost halfway through the month.   I don’t know if that was why the new project didn’t really work out for me, or if it was just the exceptionally half-baked way I had planned it out.

I think a little of both, probably.

After giving up on it and letting the failure percolate for a while, I think I’ve nailed down why it didn’t work.  It wasn’t just that it didn’t gel with me, or that I didn’t have any idea who the villain was or even what they were trying to do; I’m such a pantser that I tend to proceed more on momentum than anything else, after all.   And I think that’s what killed it.  I was adhering too closely to the plot that I had generated via Querent (see this post for details), and it mentioned that the thing that almost stops the heroes from setting out on their journey has a wish-fulfillment aspect to it.  So I had them escape the destruction of the pub where they met by passing through the space-time fluctuation that was destroying it (long story) and end up in the very distant past, on a rather paradisaical world, so the wish-fulfillment was just going to be them getting to stay there.  The werewolf secondary heroine was going to be protected from her transformation because there aren’t any moons orbiting that planet, and the main heroine was…um…actually, nothing I came up with even seemed like an adequate wish to fulfill, which is (most likely) part of the reason I was getting derailed.  I was planning on having the king there offer her a major court position, which was to take the place of whatever she would have accomplished if she hadn’t dropped out of what amounts to a magical PhD program, but…she hadn’t really been seeking her degree out of a sense of ambition, so it didn’t really hit that wish-fulfillment goal.

More importantly, because they emerged out of a tense situation into one that was blissful and safe, they had no reason to get closer to each other, and instead their differing personalities (to say nothing of the heroine’s anti-social tendencies) drove them apart, making it completely unlikely that they would ever want to set out on a journey together.

I should have had them emerge into a terrible place, and if I wanted to follow the generated plot by having a nobleman try to stop them going on their quest, it should have been by imprisoning them, not by offering them plush jobs at his court.

I plan to return to it eventually and do it right, with them coming out into a terrible place that forces a bond of friendship to grow between them, but I’m not going to bother until I have at least some idea of who the villain is or at least what the villain wants to do and why they want to stop them.

Meanwhile, I’m just going to keep writing whatever floats around in my crazy brain.

For example…

…I went to see a movie today.  Knives Out, which was absolutely fantastic.  (And I don’t like murder mysteries as a genre, so the fact that I completely loved it is really saying something.  Especially considering how likable the victim was, unlike in Murder on the Orient Express, where the victim was an utter monster and you were glad he’d been horribly and repeatedly stabbed.)  I now have two stories I want to write.

The first, obviously, is a murder mystery (though how I’d write one when I don’t like the genre and never read them is beyond me), but also a fanfiction and slightly…not exactly a fusion with Knives Out, but close, in that the reason I want to write it is because Toni Colette was in Knives Out, as well as in the movie that is my obsession, Velvet Goldmine.  So now I want to write a story wherein Mandy Slade remarries and then her new father-in-law is killed at a party in his enormous, isolated manor house filled with his suspicious family.  It’ll require a lot more planning than I usually do (being almost incapable of writing anything that isn’t sheer pants (in the British sense as well as the “writing by the seat of my pants” sense)) but I should be able to write it, even if it may not turn out very good.

The other…I don’t even know how to describe what it would be.  So, there was this trailer for a movie called Antebellum.  For the life of me, I have no idea what the movie is about.  It looked like they were editing together pieces of three different movies.  It’s probably a horror flick, given the creepy little girl.  (Or rather, it looked like they were taking a Civil War/antebellum South movie, a modern drama and an evil-little-girl horror flick and editing them together (with the occasional literal overlap, like a horse-drawn carriage on a modern city street), so that probably means it’s the latter with trappings of the former two.)  But as my brother and I were discussing the trailers on the way home, we were talking about that one and trying to figure out just what the heck it actually is, and he came to the conclusion I just described, about it being a horror movie, but with, like, time travel or something, and I said how it could be something more novel, like it had a Megazone 23-style setting (wait, is it 23 or 32?), so that the whole thing is actually on a space ship or space station or whatever, and the little girl is patching between different zones of it.  We both agreed that would be much more interesting than whatever likely is actually going on.  I went one further by saying how it could look like it was an evil-creepy-child situation, only then it turns out the creepy little girl is actually the heroine, because she’s able to go into these zones and rescue the clueless inhabitants from their Matrix-like imprisonment.  We both agreed that was definitely not what’s going on in that movie…but now I want to write a story where that is what’s going on.  Dunno if I’ll ever get to that one.  It would be dipping into a lot of genres I don’t read or watch (though obviously I would pick a different past era than the antebellum South, picking instead one I actually like and know a bit about) and again I’d have to do a lot of planning first.  Still, I intend to let it percolate around in my broken brain and see if anything useful dribbles out later on down the line.

.

..

Ew, that sounded really gross.

Um, anyway, rather than either of those things, my next writing projects are likely to be two very odd fanfiction pieces I now have ideas for.  Probably my favorite thing I wrote this past month — and certainly the most unexpected thing I wrote — was a fanfiction fusion combining Velvet Goldmine and Henry V.  (A fusion being different from a cross-over in that it’s literally reworking the world so — wait, let me give examples instead.  Mickey’s Christmas Carol, in which Mickey Mouse & co. actually were the characters from Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is an example of a fusion, while the comic book stories that have universes collide, people or ships pop across dimensions, etc., would be examples of cross-overs.  (Crossovers are apparently very common in comic books, to hear my brother tell it.  And I’m not talking about two books by the same company happening to converge; I’m talking about things like DC and Marvel cooperating to have their heroes meet each other, or things that let the crew of the Enterprise meet the Doctor.  (And yes, both of those have happened in comic books.  Published, official ones.))

Anyway, I had thought about doing fusions for a few other literary films those actors made (specifically Midsummer Night’s Dream and Emma) only it seemed a bit too complicated.  But I just worked out how to do both of them, so I’m going to see if I can get those done in time to turn in at least one more of them for the Yuletide event.  Emma may be too complex to get done in time, but the other I think there’s a good chance of.

IWSG: No, No, NaNo!

Published November 6, 2019 by Iphis of Scyros

So…I held off on the negativity last month, but I had to let it out this time.

I went to the NaNo site about a week before the first, and I couldn’t take it.

What were they thinking?  The colors are ugly, the design is chaotic, the forum doesn’t work properly, and the project page is insane.

The old site, each project’s page was nicely laid out.  When you clicked on the name of a project, you were taken to the description of the project that you had written, and the entire focus was on the words.  Because, you know, it’s about writing.

You know what you get on the new project pages?  A big old picture!  Of the project’s “cover.”

Because of course!  What else would you want to see?

AAARRRRRGGGGHHH!!

And if you didn’t upload a cover for your project (which most people do not, because we’re writers, not graphic artists) then you see their &%$%^$#ing randomly assigned, ugly-ass genre “cover.”

Now, yes, if you click on it, it flips over (because they are apparently five years old to be impressed by that) and then you can see the text you inputted.  Which has to be squished into a teeny, tiny little box that has to have double scroll bars because it’s not big enough to hold a sonnet, let alone the description of a novel or its excerpt!

Why?

Just why?

Why would anyone think that was a good idea?

All I can think is that they actively wanted to drive us away.

Oh, and guess what?  Every project has a little ribbon on it that gives its current “status”.  On these past projects that defaults to “Drafted” but you can change it to all sorts of things like “Completed” and even “Published.”  Because of course that’s everyone’s sole goal in writing, right, to publish it?

UGH!

But you know what you can’t do regarding the project’s status?  Make any indication of whether you won or lost that year’s NaNo.

And you may be saying “but they can see for themselves if you broke 50k words.”  But 50,000 words is not the only requirement to win!  You also have to validate your win.  And some of us have other goals for NaNo, and if we don’t meet those goals, we don’t validate.

Only now they’re saying “nope, your personal goals are irrelevant, only the number of words you wrote count.”

So that time that I didn’t validate because I didn’t finish the novel?  They’ve decided that it’s totally meaningless!  Because evidently theirs is the only opinion that they think is worth a damn!

Well, guess what?

THEY ARE WRONG!

If they don’t value my opinions, if they write off my values as irrelevant, then I am not going to support them and take part in their now meaningless exercise.

But I enjoy the idea of NaNo, so I’m being a true NaNo rebel.  I’m writing 50,000 words in November (not, at present, counting my blog entries, but if I get desperate I might add them in), and I’m using the blog to post my results.  Only I haven’t started a project with them and I’m not going to, because I refuse to support that garbage they’re trying to push on us.

Since I’m being a rebel anyway, I’m being a double rebel and not starting my new project I had been planning for NaNo until I finish the project I’ve been working on for some time.  I figure it’ll probably only take me a three or four more days to finish it, with luck.  There’s not a heck of a lot left, and I’m not going to need to write any more scenes with the character with the cowboy dialect, so that will speed things up.  Although there is the slick-talking guy…he’ll be hard to write for, but he’s only got about half a scene, so that shouldn’t be too much of a problem.  Once I finish it I may write a very brief side-story about a first date before I forget it, but I should be into my new project hopefully early next week.   (And this time my goal really is 50k rather than “a full novel” so I’m not going to view it as a failure if I don’t complete it.)

*sigh*

Okay, sorry to unload all that negativity on you, but…sometimes you just have to vent.  And this was the logical time and place to do so.


[Towards the end of the day, I’ll come back on and edit on the day’s word count here.  But right now I’m writing this at 1:16 in the morning because I stupidly decided to watch Netflix while trying to blog only it was something I’d never seen before (good life advice:  never get into a show when it’s already five seasons long) so it kept distracting me.]

EDIT:  Today’s word count was 2,536, making for a total of 15,369 words so far in November.  I’m pretty sure that puts me ahead of the curve.  (Okay, just calculated it:  at 1,667 words per day, the official goal for today would be 10,002, so I’m good.)  Oh, and I got through the scene with the slick-talking guy successfully…though I did go down a blind alley and have to get rid of a couple hundred words of it because the conversation went in a completely wrong direction.  (I just moved them to the end of the file and put them into strike-through so they’d still count, though.  Because I suck like that.)  Only then I decided to let one of my leads catch up with his ex the rock band (well, he was sleeping with the whole band, you know?), so that’s going to extend things a little, but not too long.  I don’t think my schedule will be too much disturbed by it.

IWSG – Untitled

Published October 2, 2019 by Iphis of Scyros

So, I had this post planned out where I was going to spend the whole time bitching about how the new NaNoWriMo site is broken and hideous and it’s completely killed my desire even to participate, and…

…but I’m not gonna write that post, because I don’t want to just sit here soaking in negativity.

Then I thought I’d write about the monthly question (which I haven’t even looked at in ages, lol) only it turns out I really don’t have anything to say about this month’s optional question.  So instead I shall flounder about for something to say.

I haven’t really been doing much writing lately.  I mean, I try, but I keep failing to get much done.  Not because I have no drive to write and not because I’ve hit a wall in what I’m writing, but because it’s just too freakin’ hot.  I mean, today’s October 1st (pre-writing) and it was over 90° today!  (Which is over 32° for those of you living in civilized countries where you learned metric everything instead of this backwards place.  Are we, like, the only country in the world that hasn’t gone metric yet?  (Although, I have to say, “90” sounds a lot more impressively awful as a temperature than “32” does.  So that’s one small something to be said for Fahrenheit…))

And no, I don’t live in a tropical area where that’s normal.  When I was a kid, October would have been in the 50s or 60s.  Maybe 70s if I was a particularly warm fall.  But those days are long gone.  And yet some people still deny climate change.  Ugh.

Anyway, my body has basically overloaded on hot weather, as far as I can tell, and is violently insisting that any, say, contact between two parts of my body (arm and side, for example) is being interrupted by a frying pan just pulled out of the fire.  Makes it very hard to find a position to sit in to write that doesn’t end up being brutally uncomfortable.  In consequence of which, I haven’t been able to get much writing done.  But a cold front is supposed to move through Wednesday night (or was it Thursday morning) and the rest of the ten day forecast is much more seasonal, so maybe I’ll be able to start writing again.  And sleeping through the night without being woken up by feeling like I’m lying on top of a stove.

It’s a pity that I can’t write for such annoyingly external reasons, because my current story is going pretty well.  My half-pantser/half-plotter method sometimes means I end up with a convoluted mess with an entirely unstable tone, but sometimes it means that as I’m going along I have a terrific idea that ties everything together and fills in holes I had in my plan up until that moment.  I had one of those “aha!” moments just the other day; the main plot of the piece is about a journalist writing a story about the disappearance of a fellow journalist, who the police won’t go looking for, and having no other way to go about it, he ends up investigating the story she had been working on, about the thirty year anniversary of an actor’s defection.  (This is set in 1984, btw.)  So, I knew all along that it was in some way because of that story that she disappeared, but I didn’t know quite why, but then a random little detail I threw in about some of the other research the journalist was doing into the defection told me exactly what the cover-up was that the first journalist had stumbled onto (or that someone at least thought she had stumbled onto) that made her a target.

I’m still left with the nagging question of “so did they get her, or is she in hiding somewhere, and if they got her, is she still alive, or did they kill her?”  It’s a hard question to answer.  I tend to write light, fluffy stuff, so part of me just wants to say “yeah, it was a narrow shave, but she managed to get somewhere safe” but part of me is saying “the journalist’s story is going to have more impact if she was captured and/or killed, so that the exposé can get the crooked politician behind the cover-up impeached.”  See, it’s not set in the real 1984, but an alternate, slightly dystopian one.  Like, in the previous story that this is a sequel to, I had an editor tell the journalist that unlike the man who owned the magazine, he wasn’t a “rabid” liberal, because “if it weren’t for the censorship and the martial law, I’d quite like President Reynolds.”  It’s that kind of a dystopia, you know?  Not so far removed from reality that it’s unimaginable for it to happen (the martial law having first been declared after the attempted assassination in 1981, which I figure would have happened regardless of who was president, since it wasn’t in the slightest bit about Reagan’s politics) but still just off enough that we get jarring statements like that from someone who claims to be at least somewhat politically opposed to the administration.

I might do a halfway between them solution, where she was captured by whichever government agency was stalking her, but a whistleblower-type inside the agency had protected her from any serious negative consequences.  Dunno.  I’ll have to see how it feels when I get there, I guess…

…only who knows when I’ll be able to get there if things don’t cool off first.

IWSG – Querent

Published September 4, 2019 by Iphis of Scyros

Ack, totally forgot about IWSG this month!  But it’s still Wednesday, so I’m not completely late!

*cough*

Anyway, my writing has hit an odd snag this month in that I’m still trying to be going strong — wanting to be going strong — on my current project, only it’s near impossible to get comfortable while writing.  It’s the summer weather building up on me over time or something.  😦  I hate it.  I cannot wait for the cold weather to move in!

So…besides that…um…well, I have an idea of my project for this year’s NaNo novel.

It’s not fleshed out yet (well, it is only September, after all), but it’s going to be space fantasy.  The main way I came to this decision is that I’ve been watching the Netflix seasons of Mystery Science Theater 3000 lately, and there’s a line from one of the bots during Starcrash about how it would have seemed amazing if it had come out before Star Wars instead of after it.  (Which is not true, of course, because that was an awful movie and would have seemed like an awful movie regardless, but…)  It made me think about how there really has been a trend (more in visual media than print media, of course) to make any fusion of science fiction and the mystical into a Star Wars rip-off, or at least heavily influenced by same.

So, I thought “I want to write a space fantasy that has no Star Wars influence at all.”  (Admittedly, Star Wars is properly more of a science fantasy than a space fantasy, but…same diff to most people.)

From there, I quickly came up with the most core concept of my heroine.  Which is to say her name, and the fact that she’s a wizard in the traditional Earth sense, who happens to operate in space.

Then, from a comment my brother made this Monday, just joking around, I came up with a slight aspect of the story, just a funky species with an absurd power.  (And I’m not actually going to use it quite the way he intended.  Sorry, bro.)

But the question is, where do I get the rest?  Since, after all, things like deeply developed characters, plot beyond the most basic premise, and the more basic aspects of setting are all my weaknesses.  (OMG, do I have anything I’m not weak on?  Other than sometimes enthusiasm?)

Well, one thing I thought of in terms of world-building is that to really distinguish my space fantasy from Star Wars, I need to use a very well defined magic system, and to make it easier, I’m probably going to crib off of Dungeons & Dragons (though I’ll have to look up its rules first, lol) and create a system very similar to that one.

From there, I realized what I wanted to do to help me create the missing preparatory elements of my story.

A while back (like long enough ago that it’s been fulfilled already), I backed a Kickstarter to create a book called Querent, which is a tool to create story elements using tarot cards.  The intended purpose of the tool is to help people create new scenarios, characters, etc., for their tabletop RPG sessions, but they did say that it should work just as well for people just plain writing stories.  (I feel like I may have mentioned it here before, but I can’t be sure…)

So, I’m gonna use it to work up the rest of the basic plot, characters and world-building for my NaNo novel and see what happens.

Worst case scenario, either I don’t come up with anything workable by November and just utterly wing it, or I write garbage and then ignore it once November is over.  (Both of these have, after all, happened in the past.)  And if it’s just not working during November, I have various fan fiction plots waiting that I could write instead.  It’s not cheating to change projects mid-month, right?

IWSG – Still Floundering A Bit

Published August 7, 2019 by Iphis of Scyros

So, July Camp NaNo has come and gone.  And in order to “win,” I actually had to scale down my goal from 60 minutes of writing a day to 45 minutes of writing a day.  And it was still really close; I only finished on the last day (though I only had ten minutes left at that point, because I’d had a real burst the day before).  I didn’t finish the main project I ended up working on most of the month, but since that project wasn’t the point of the month, I don’t consider that part a failure.

I’ve continued working on that project a bit, but I’ve gotten to a point where it’s feeling kind of boring, which is odd, considering that the next thing to happen is that a time-traveling humanoid alien woman is going to save several hundred thousand bug-like-but-very-sweet alien beings from being killed by an asteroid and then is going to take them to an uninhabited planet off in the depths of space where they can live out their lives in blissful happiness watched over by a computer that used to be the size of a building but is now in a new, mobile shell built out of spare tin dog parts.  I mean, that sounds like it could be really exciting, but…it’s such a minor part of the denouement of the story that it’s probably going to be summed up in a few paragraphs.  And even there it’s like “how do I make this not boring?”

*sigh*

This is, of course, why I don’t usually write stories on that kind of grand scale.  My brain does not process them correctly to know how to tell them without making them mind-bogglingly boring.

On the other hand, I had something huge hit me yesterday.  I was just sitting there and this really rather awful story hit me in the face (well, an awful start to a story, involving many innocent people dying for no reason) and I ended up spending most of the morning writing it down, and today I came up with how to tie it in with another story I’ve been planning, so I feel like maybe July really did serve its purpose, and maybe my writing brain is starting to rouse itself from its unnatural slumber.

Now if only the weather would cool off enough that I could find a good position to write in that wouldn’t be uncomfortable due to the excessive heat. 😦

……….

Yeah, I feel like I should be saying something more than this, but I just had an emergency tooth extraction this morning (Tuesday, as I’m pre-writing this, like usual), so I’m a little out of it.  (Not a big deal, actually.  It’s just I was having pain in a tooth I’d already had a root canal on, and what little of the tooth was left had split and was splitting further every time I chewed with it, and it just had to go.  Fortunately, it was the upper back molar, so it’s not entirely necessary.  Except that now I have a hole back there slowly oozing blood and I can’t eat solid food for 2-3 days.  Plus…well, other stuff.  It’s just not been a good day.  Let’s say that and leave it at that.)

IWSG – Campin’

Published July 3, 2019 by Iphis of Scyros

Camp NaNo is here again, and I’m really hoping it’s going to jumpstart me back into regular writing habits.  I’m pre-writing this last night, so two days into camp.  The first day was sort of “ehhh” in that while I did get something written that I’d really been meaning to (specifically, the dream sequence intro to a fanfic that’s been awaiting editing for about six months) it wasn’t anything long or important or even, you know, particularly good.  (Though in my own defense, it wasn’t precisely bad, either.)

Today was better.  I started work on the crossover fanfic I’ve been wanting to get to for…I don’t even know how long.  Months.  (I could check the NaNo forums to find out, as I posted about it pretty soon after coming up with the idea.)  And it’s starting out pretty well; in fact, one of the characters I’ve loved for years but never written for is behaving differently than I had planned, and what I wrote is actually much more in character for her than what I had planned, so that’s good.

What’s not good is that I kind of wanted to use this time to work on the first-in-a-series novel that I’ve worked on for the past two proper NaNos, and both of last year’s camp sessions.  (Ooh, that looks weird when I write it out.)  So November 2017, I wrote the first draft.  April camp, I worked on revising the first draft, mostly just replacing some stuff that really didn’t work.  Between April and July, I got it in the hands of a beta reader, and started July doing basic work on the draft until I heard back from the beta.  It was one of those good news/bad news kind of reports.  Good news was he liked the basic story and the world.  Bad news was the characters weren’t very distinct from each other (even though they were like night and day in my head), and one of them was utterly useless.  It was the “total lack of agency” point that really made me step back and see that he was totally right, my character was just this utterly passive shell tagging along after the other two characters.  So I spent the rest of July ripping him out and replacing him with a different character who shared a few of his traits, and also trying to make the other two characters’ on-paper versions match the versions in my head better.  A long and laborious process, but the new version is infinitely superior to the old one.  However, I felt like I wasn’t doing enough to differentiate the cultures in the book from the ones in reality that had inspired them, so for November of last year I decided to write up a book of that world’s mythology, complete with introductions and footnotes by one of the minor characters from the novel, who happens to study that sort of thing.  And then after that I integrated the myths into the book where I could (I’ll probably have to do a full new draft for a complete integration), but I realized I had left out a major one who had been directly referenced in the novel, a mortal hero comparable to Cu Chulainn.  (Fortunately, I have total freedom as to what to have the hero’s myth contain, because the novel’s reference was just to his birthplace.)

Anyway, long story short (too late!), I was really hoping to get that finished up so I could polish up the other few major rough spots in this draft and send to to another beta reader.  Because I promised myself that I would eventually release this novel to the public, and I don’t want to do that until it’s actually ready for it.

Of course, there’s other complications.  I don’t write descriptions because my brain can’t really process them, so people always have trouble visualizing what I’m writing about.  And the majority of that mythological world building from the second year’s NaNo can’t be comfortably included into the novel without distracting from the story.  For that matter, there’s already extraneous stuff tacked onto the front of every chapter (largely the diary of an important historical figure which the heroes find and read late in the book) which already probably distracts from the story.

So what I kind of want to do with it is instead of just releasing it as a free ebook on LeanPub or wherever, work it up into a particular kind of “game,” the name of which I’ve forgotten.  “Dynamic novel” or something like that, I think.  There’s this kind of game called a “visual novel,” which is like a choose-your-own-adventure novel with constant pictures.  (Large sprites of the characters in a scene, backgrounds, the occasional full-screen splash illustration of a major event, that kind of stuff.)  The thing about a visual novel is, of course, that you make choices that alter what happens, usually heading you towards one of multiple endings, and sometimes (maybe even often) giving you the possibility of getting yourself horribly killed.  But there’s another kind that’s the visual novel format without any of the choices, and that’s what I’m thinking would be good for this novel.  Because as the player (reader?) went along, they could unlock diary entries, myths, and other flavor text which they could then read from a menu whenever they wanted.  The flavor text would still interrupt the flow, but less so, and could be omitted entirely if the reader (player?) didn’t care enough to bother with it.  Of course, to do that I’d have to get it all polished up and find an artist or five to create illustrations to go along with it.  And find some way to pay for said artist(s) and their work.  (A Kickstarter campaign would probably be required, sadly.)  So this is whole “dynamic novel” (or whatever it’s called) thing may just be me spinning my mental wheels fruitlessly, but it’s at least interesting to contemplate.

But I can’t even think about working towards that eventuality without first finishing up this draft to the point that I feel it’s read for another beta reader.  And I can’t do that while I’m writing fan fiction instead.  But I just feel so much more motivation for the fan fiction right now.

And it’s the right thing to do to just get writing first, right?  And worry about what I’m writing later.  Right?

IWSG – Trying to get back in the habit

Published June 5, 2019 by Iphis of Scyros

The good news is I am finally through with graduate school.  (I don’t officially know that I graduated yet (obviously, I skipped the ceremony, because it was attend graduation or go to work, and I would rather be paid for a day’s work than pay money for a graduation robe and waste all morning sitting in a gym full of strangers.)  A side effect of this good news is that I am slowly getting back in the blogging habit.

The bad news is that it’s been so long since I had time to write that I have completely fallen out of the habit.  Lost the knack, even.  I have so many plots sitting around waiting to be expanded upon in full fiction form, but every time I turn my computer on to write, I end up re-reading my rough outline for a plot and then going “hmmm” until I say “nah, not feeling it today” and do something else.  Or I look over one of my drafts that need revision, with a thought to fixing it up, and still end up saying “nah, not feeling it.”

I’m trying my hand at writing prompts to get back in the groove again.  I’ve written (and posted to this blog) a couple (oddly, both turned out as sci-fi, though I usually don’t write sci-fi), and will probably write some more before I get myself back into the same writing headspace I used to be in.

It’s very frustrating, though, knowing that I’m no longer able to just sit down and start writing the way I used to be.  This has never really happened to me before, and I’m not sure how to deal with it.  It’s not that I’m out of ideas — I have lots of them.  Part of it may be the feeling that I need to fix up those old drafts before I start on anything new, but I don’t think that’s all of it.  I don’t know what it is.  (Though finally being free to tackle my backlog of unplayed video games is not helping, I don’t want to lay all the blame at the feet of gaming.  Especially since Persona 5 has been annoying the heck out of me, and is therefore not proving terribly addictive.)

Anyway, I’m gonna keep plugging along.  And I’ll be signing up for July’s CampNaNo, with a time-based goal rather than a word-based one, and no specific project.  (I do love the flexibility of Camp!)  Hopefully by August, I’ll be more myself again, in terms of writing.

Has anyone else ever had to deal with this?  Being jarred out of the writing habit so badly that it’s hard to get back in it?

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