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I now have to sit on the floor…

Published November 23, 2019 by Iphis of Scyros

…if I want to write at home.

It could be a lot worse, so I’m counting my blessings, but it’s also really frustrating in a lot of ways. Especially since I have to sit on the floor to do pretty much everything other than my resin work. (I mean, unless I get my act together and clean out one of the other wooden chairs…)

I need to swallow my pride and use the warranty/replacement program to get the chair fixed/replaced…but first I have to have time to clean up some of the crap in here.

*sigh*

Anyway, today’s writing went okay (except for my backside starting to ache after sitting on the floor too long), except that I did something really dumb. I needed this alien world to be a paradise to my werewolf character because there was no such thing as a full moon there, so she’d never transform (she’s the Wolfman type of werewolf, only without losing control of her actions), and after I spent a fair chunk of time trying to male my heroine explain full moons to people who live on a planet where the moon has no phases, I sat down to think about how that would even work…

…and I came to the sudden realization that it made much more sense if the world in question simply had no moon.

I don’t know why I didn’t think of that right off the bat! Would’ve saved a lot of time.

Still, at least I thought of it eventually! :p

My word count for today was 1,727, giving me a total for the month of 44,773.

Getting close!

(Though it’s plain the new (i.e. main) project won’t hit 50k by itself.)

Tried a chart today…

Published November 20, 2019 by Iphis of Scyros

…let’s see how it looks shrunk down to fit.

Uh…not great.

Plus I’ll have to re-input the data every single day.  😦  Not the greatest solution.

Annoyingly, it turns out there actually is a plugin for charts on WordPress…but you have to be a on a paid plan to use it.  :<

Maybe I should just buy some graph paper and make the graphs myself by hand. ;P

In case you can’t read the chart, my word total today was a measly 1,310, and my total is 41,429.

My word count today was really stymied by the fact that I meandered down a dead end and was temporarily stopped at a bit over 300 words.  The problem with being a pantser — the problem with being mentally hardwired to change things on the fly as I go — is that sometimes you make a wrong turn.  I mean, I was still following the minor outline I had earlier.  Specifically, this part:

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.

So, the thing is about this nobleman.  I had them arrive in a strange new location, and they had to meet the local lord, who was going to tell them about something that could help them do whatever they need to do (I have an idea about that part, but it’s still nebulous), but also tempt them with offers to stay and work for him.

I’m not sure why, but the first time around —

Okay, no, let me back up.  See, I decided that I was going to make the planet a paradise, especially in that it wasn’t simply a matriarchy in name while still reflecting the male-dominated cultural attitudes we see on this planet.  (I’m looking at you, Alexandria in Final Fantasy IX.)  That, however, made it rather awkward for the noble to be male instead of female, though.  So I figured a teenage king who had inherited the throne when his mother died in childbirth.

Only he ended up being shallow, boring and…I don’t even know what he was.  I couldn’t find a way to work with him.

No, I couldn’t find a way to work with the attitude he injected into his entire atmosphere.

If that makes sense.

Anyway, after thinking about it for a while, I decided the teenage version had to go.  But I liked the inherited at birth thing, so now the king is four, and it’s his father, the Prince Regent, who’s asking them to stay.  He can be more like a proper nobleman than the teenage version of his son could, without sacrificing what I wanted for that world’s civilization.

Of course, that delayed me.  And also life happened.  Because, you know, life does that.

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.)

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.

OMG, IWSG again?

Published December 5, 2018 by Iphis of Scyros

Where did November go?

Oh, right, it went to NaNo and my final paper.  Bummer.

Well, anyway, NaNo was good.  I had a lot of fun writing out three sets of mythology, loosely inspired by Greek, Roman and Celtic, in that order.  When I finished up with the Celtic (and a very abbreviated inspired-by-Arthurian-legends saga) I contemplated going on to one inspired by Norse/Teutonic myth, since the country based on 19th century Prussia/Bavaria is going to be in the next book and I actually know Norse myths (unlike whatever the heck I’m gonna base the mythic traditions of the France-like country on) but ended up not doing so because I didn’t have any names ready.

And why would that have stopped me, when I once very giddily wrote a sentence containing a character named “Derek Imtootiredtobethinkingupnames”?  Well, because the naming process turned out to be super-important to the other three.  I totally let the meaning of the names dictate how I used the associated characters, and I think that’s going to be really useful when I rewrite the first book (again) to work in all these new cultural details, because it’s let me separate the fictional countries from the real ones that inspired them.  (Of course the France-like country’s revolution is still way too much like the French Revolution for comfort, but…yeah, I’ll figure that out later.)

A few things really stand out that I’m most proud of in writing these mythic structures, particularly for the Greece- and Rome-like countries:

  1. Unlike in reality, where there’s almost no difference between Greek and Roman myths other than the names of the gods, there’s almost nothing the same between the two sets of myths in my fictional world.
  2. Though for the most part I based the personalities of the gods on my perception of their real world counterparts (there are exceptions to that), their relationships to each other are different, to the extent that, for example, the equivalent of Apollo and Hermes are twins, instead of Apollo and Artemis.  (Actually, though, Artemis still ended up having a twin, only it was Athene.  That culture ended up with like three sets of twins among the gods.)  The generational order is radically different from the real Greek and Roman one, which will help to let the reader see the countries as more than just Sparta and Rome under other names.  (Especially important in the latter case, since the previous Imperator is very obviously Hadrian.  Well, insofar as the whole Antinoos thing goes, anyway.)
  3. There are way more goddesses than gods.  Like, to the extent that in the one based on classical Sparta, the equivalent of Hera thought she had given birth to a monster when she gave birth to the equivalent of Ares, because after so many daughters, she didn’t understand that a son was a possibility.
  4. There’s so much less sleeping around, particularly by the Zeus/Jupiter equivalents.  (Although the lack of sleeping around is also kind of a problem, because the Aphrodite/Venus equivalents don’t do much of it, either.  To the extent that there had to be a footnote explaining that the Venus-type was the goddess of love, despite that she pretty much only has the one lover.  Who’s actually her sister.  Sometimes in the form of a man.  Because I thought Hermes/Mercury didn’t get to be enough of a trickster in the real myths, so I let the Mercury-type have transformation powers.)

Anyway, after I finished with the myths, I focused more on my paper (not that I wasn’t already working on it, mind you!), and in my off-minutes, I went back to a fanfic project I’d been working on in October…and ended up gutting and overhauling it mid-writing.  Which is kind of a first for me, but the old version was so much a repeat of another fic I’d written before, so…it’s working out better now.

However, overall, I’ve become aware of a stagnation in my writing.  I’m not sure if it’s because the fandom I’m currently obsessive over doesn’t allow much variety, or if there’s something else wrong, but I have a plan to fix it, which will coincidentally also fix my near-dead blog.  (Hey, two for one special!)

I’ve backed a few games on Kickstarter that are supposed to be party games where everyone sort of improvs a story or parts of one or whatever, but I’m going to use them as writing prompts.  This is especially the case for a game called “Pitchstorm” that arrived during November.  The actual rules of the game are that you draw three cards, one for a character, one for a “plot” and one for really bad notes from studio executives, and then you pitch the movie they would add up to.  What I’m going to do is to pull one of each of those types of cards, and then write a piece of brief fiction that answers those conditions as best I can.  Possibly in some cases it would still be more of a summary than proper fiction, but…the idea’s to get the creative juices flowing, yeah?  And I’m going to post the resulting stories to the blog.

And when will I start this creative new endeavor?

Not sure, actually.  The pinched nerve in my shoulder has come back, along with what feels like a pulled muscle in my right arm, so now that NaNo and class are over, I need to try and let them rest.  I’m trying to find time around work to go get a recliner I can sleep in, which should relieve some of the strain on the shoulder (I hope!) but I won’t even have an opportunity to go shopping for one until next week.

I’m also trying to hurry my way through a cheap-and-dirty finishing of this year’s goals on the Read Harder Challenge, and I’ll be posting capsule reviews for the rest of those books (or as many of them as I actually get through) at some point this month.

As soon as I post this (since it’s after midnight, I may as well just hit “publish” instead of scheduling it for a few hours from now, right?) I’m also going to see if I can change the title of my blog, because I don’t feel like it’s quite right for me anymore.  I mean, yeah, I’m still a graduate student, but only for one more semester.  (Finally, the end is in sight!)  And, well, I dunno.  It just doesn’t quite feel like “me” anymore.

 

Oh, but before I do!  I mentioned my NaNo novel having footnotes without explaining.  See, I was writing out those myths as part of a “book” on world mythology being written by a scholar who’s a character in the first novel in a series I’m working on.  (Said first novel’s first draft having been last year’s NaNo project.  Which I’ve probably said several times over the last few IWSG posts, but…)  So said scholar turned out to be the type to write extensive informational footnotes.  Because that let me add in all sorts of fun little details that weren’t part of the “symplified myth” narrative.  (Things like how there’s an archaeological site purporting to be where a particular myth took place.  Or historical details, especially the vast changes in the world situation between the first and second editions of the book.  Stuff like that.)

I had quite the shock when I went to validate my win, though.  My 57,575 word novel (yeah, I finished almost every day with a palindrome, because weird) went through the validation process and came out at about 49,500!  My mind boggled at the idea that I had so many words connected by a double-dash that it would have dropped by 8k words.  Until I suddenly realized that it wasn’t counting my footnotes.  (Which, I should admit, were also the footnotes to the first draft of my paper, because I suck like that.)  So I had to re-copy it into the validation box and then go in and manually copy every single footnote.  Then it came out at like 57,300.  And I then edited the total to what Word had told me it was.

I am, however, a bit shocked and appalled that I ended up with 8,000 words of footnotes.

IWSG – Twas the Month Before NaNo…

Published October 3, 2018 by Iphis of Scyros

Ack, I forgot to pre-write this!  *cough*

I find myself in pretty much the same place I was last month, with not getting much done on my re-write and desperately hoping I’ll finish it before NaNoWriMo starts.  Only it’s not just slow going because I’m having trouble motivating myself to get working on it.  It’s also slow because my class work picked up.  It’s been a while since I was in a really heavy-duty class (doesn’t help that I didn’t take a class last semester), and this one is turning out to be particularly intensive.  Like, one week the professor assigned us a thousand pages of reading and didn’t see what was wrong with that.  Even though she knows most of the students are either working full time or are taking multiple other graduate level courses.  Argh.

Speaking of “argh,” I had a strange dilemma come up a few days ago as I was working on the re-write.  The way this level of the re-write is going, I’m tending to copy-and-paste anything that doesn’t need to be changed to accommodate the new version of one of my leads, right?  (Because further refining those scenes can wait until the next draft.)  So in pursuing one of the radically, radically, radically different sequences, I had been so eager to move ahead (because it was just fresh composition, rather than trying to tell the same basic sequence of events with a different character) that I had skipped over a “cut-away” scene to show what some of the less prominent characters were up to.  After I realized that, and went in and put it in place, I remembered that at the last Camp NaNo session, I had written another “cut-away” scene to show what one of the antagonists was up to, and it had to go sometime in front of the previous one.  Then….

…..okay, let me start over with a few more details so it won’t get too confusing.  The main antagonist of this book is the prince of the country it takes place in, who is also the ex-boyfriend of one of the main leads.  However, the main antagonist of the series (yes, this is book one of a series) is the king, not the prince.  And although I talked a lot about the king in all the earlier drafts, he never once showed up.  So I had written a scene where the king is having a fit and orders his son to go hunt down that pernicious ex-boyfriend of his.  This was to lead into the “cut-away” scene I already had, where the prince goes to the bad-ass lady sky pirate and asks her help in approaching his ex-boyfriend.  So what happened the other day is that after putting in the scene with the lady pirate, I remembered the other scene, went to read it and figure out where best to insert it into the draft…and found out that I had written it in such a way that it was required to go after a battle against the Royal Navy that hadn’t happened yet.

*sigh*

Honestly, the worst part about that is that it meant that the entire writing session (most days I only manage to write in the interim between breakfast and leaving for work) turned out to be wasted, because everything I had done had to be undone because it was in the wrong place.

Delays like that are one of the main reasons I’m worried I won’t get the re-write done before November.  My class is the other reason, because I’m supposed to be spending October doing research for my final paper…not that she’s letting up with the heavy assigned reading for a second.  Ugh.  I am so ready to graduate that I can’t stand it.  (But I definitely need to take one more class after this, which really sucks.)

I’ve had some thoughts about my NaNo project, too.

My plan is to write out some of the myths of the world of this novel, because I keep having characters refer to their gods without my having a very firm idea of who those gods are or how they function in their societies.  One of the characters in the novel (in the new draft, anyway) is a scholar, so I just decided to set him up as more of a folklorist/mythologist instead of a historian, so he’s going to be the “author” of this book in-world, and that way I don’t have to worry about trying to change narrative voices between cultures.  And I think I may have said all that last month?  Well, anyway, my plans have narrowed and focused a bit since then.  Originally, I wanted to write every culture’s main myths, but since I want them all inspired by real cultures, that would require a lot more research than I have time for.  Instead, I’m going to just do the three cultures my three leads come from.  (If I finish all that and still have time, I might address the two cultures that are going to come up in the next book, one based on Nordic/Teutonic myth, and the other…uh…I have no idea what to base it on.  I need to research what little we know about Gaulish myth…but I fear it was not much different from the Celtic myths of the British Isles…)

So I’m going to write the main myths of three cultures, one inspired by Celtic, one inspired by Greek and one inspired by Roman myths.  Once I’ve done the basic mythic background material, then I’m going to do that character’s “paraphrases” of the major mythic cycles.  And that’s where it’s going to get tricky, because a large part of the plot of the series is that a thousand years before the action of the books, a mystical doodad was used to erase all knowledge and memory of war from the minds of the human race.  It began to wear off after about nine hundred years, so there’s war again in the present, but there can’t be any wars or knowledge of war left in their myths…

…and that means I have to write myths that have obvious places where there used to be war, but it’s been removed and/or replaced.  The Celtic mythic cycle will be easiest in that respect:  I plan on it being about a character who’s basically a fusion of Cu Chulainn and King Arthur, so I can replace wars with jousts and tournaments.  (And it’s not like personal violence between individuals went away along with wars…)  But the Greek and Roman mythic cycles?  How do you tell a “based on the Trojan War” story in a world without the concept of war?  Actually, the Roman one will be easier, since the major mythic cycle that the Romans don’t share with the Greeks is the journey of Aeneas (only important post-Vergil, of course) and the foundation of Rome, and I can always have their culture hero fleeing his distant home because of a natural disaster instead of it being destroyed in war.  But for the Greeks, it’ll be trickier.  All the more so because I’m flouting the typical thing and my based-on-ancient-Greece culture isn’t based on our modern idealized vision of Athens (because let’s face it, the real thing was not such a pretty, erudite democracy) but instead based on the horrible, slave-powered reality of ancient Sparta.  Which means their favorite god wasn’t the noble Athene but the brutal Ares.  Athene can be reworked easily without the war part (some people probably forget she’s a goddess of war as well as of wisdom) but Ares?  Without war, all he’s got is sleeping with Aphrodite and hiding in bronze jars when Olympos is invaded by giants.  It’s going to be a real challenge to reinvent him both without war and yet while making it clear that he’s supposed to be a god of war.  (I may have to make him a god of martial arts, as it were, but even that doesn’t work because “martial” is still a reference to war…)

Anyway, strangely, despite that it sounds like I’m filled with worries for my writing, my main writing worry is…okay, actually, I have two.  One, I feel like I’m gonna flip out if I can’t write some fanfic soon and let out all my crazy new fantasies about my current OTP, but I don’t want to do that before I finish my rewrite, because I don’t want to contaminate the characters, and my brain is slow to change over between sets of characters in my writing.  The second — and bigger — thing is that I seem to have totally lost my blogging habit.  (I don’t even want to think about how far behind I am in reading blogs, either…)  I think it’s because I started work on the review of a book I really didn’t like, and the idea of finishing it feels oppressive.  Maybe I should just write a preface and post it as an “abandoned” review…?

I did actually have a good idea for how to start blogging again, though.  One that should help with my writing, even.  I just can’t act on it yet.  Among the altogether too many things I’ve backed on Kickstarter have been some card-based party games that I plan to use as writing prompts rather than games.  For example, one of them is called “Pitch Storm” (I think), and you get a set of cards suggesting ridiculous movie premises, complete with asinine notes from an incompetent executive, and you’re supposed to pitch the movie that would result.  So, what I plan to do instead is to write a brief story (or possibly detailed summary) based on the cards.  And I thought I’d post that to my blog.  But the game hasn’t been produced and shipped yet, so I can’t do that yet.  (There’s one or two others I plan on using for writing prompts, too.  I actually have one of them already, but it’s going to be the hardest to use for the purpose, it turns out, and I haven’t had a chance to try yet.)

IWSG – It’s almost April…

Published March 7, 2018 by Iphis of Scyros

…and that means Camp.

Not camp like “cheesy, over-the-top” but camp like CampNaNo.  (But you knew that.)

Actually, I’ve never done the April session of CampNaNo before, just the July session.  But I’m not taking a class this semester, not doing April A-to-Z (or maybe I should, just to try and jumpstart my pathetic blog), so there’s no reason not to.  Plus I haven’t been very motivated lately (getting addicted to a couple of video games in a row has definitely not helped, of course), so I’m hoping this will get me back into a good writing habit again.

I’ll be re-working my NaNo novel from this November, which is a first:  I’ve never done a rewrite as a NaNo project.  I’m also doing a first for me and have set my goal as 30 hours instead of a number of words.  I generally get about half an hour’s writing time before I leave for work in the morning…though I don’t always use it to write.  In fact, lately I’ve loaded up my current project (essentially an RPG in fiction form), written about two sentences (if even that much), and then opened a file of one of my past projects that needs editing.  Not that I actually edited the past projects when I opened them; I just read over bits I liked and made mental notes about the parts that needed fixing.  (Yeah, not the least bit productive, I know.  That’s part of my worry.)

Of course, I have new worries about doing this revision for camp.  Like, for starters, I haven’t even opened the file since early December.

I should probably read it over before April gets here.  Especially since the idea is to start out by writing the long dead guy’s journal in order to use it as chapter-openers throughout the book.  I need to remember what he was writing about before I can actually write it.  And refreshing my memory about the world I created would probably be a good idea, too.  (I mean, I could look at my notes file, but it’s a freakin’ mess, so I’m not sure that would actually be helpful.)

Part of me thinks I should see if anyone in my Cabin (once I’m in a Cabin, anyhow) wants to look over my first draft and see if they have any suggestions, and the rest of me thinks that wouldn’t be at all fair to them (I know it’s a convoluted mess with ghastly pacing and a tendency to take back doors to avoid anything actually, you know, happening) and might serve no function but to make them hate me.

….so, I just re-read my IWSG post from December, where I was talking about NaNo, and there was a lot there I’d already forgotten.  Am I getting senile in my early 40s?  That’s a terrifying thought…but either way, at least I have that post to help me remember what I wanted to do in the re-write.

But I think I definitely need to re-read the original draft before April 1st.  I guess, since my current project isn’t grabbing me, I’ll set it aside for now and use my mornings before work to re-read my NaNo novel and get some planning done about how I want to proceed through April…

…and maybe make some plans to do April A-to-Z after all…

IWSG – This year’s NaNo

Published December 6, 2017 by Iphis of Scyros

As I said last month, this year’s NaNo project started out as an AU (alternate universe, for those not acquainted with fanfic terms) fanfic of my favorite movie, Velvet Goldmine.  But this wasn’t going to be one of those “serial numbers just barely filed off” projects; I did so little planning before it became an original project that almost nothing about it ever had a connection to the movie.  (The movie’s main three male characters were imported, but none of them have much connection to the originals.  Cal is the most like his inspiration, Curt Wild, but even he has a lot of differences, given his knowledge of steam-powered airship design, affinity with giant birds of prey and his tragic first love, who is the person he loved most in the world, and who was always totally original.  Except that he kind of looks like Ichabod Crane.  (From the Disney animated version.)  I’m not sure why he looks like that.  It just sort of happened.)

So, my reflections on finishing the project:  first and foremost, it’s a mess.  The point of this first book (in a series of eight, as currently planned) was to get them to learn about the MacGuffin (it doesn’t have a name yet) and get their hands on the book of clues as to where to find the pieces of it.  Well, okay, that’s not the whole point, but that’s its role in the bigger story.  So part of the process of finding out about it was to find the journal of the dead fiance of one of the main characters.  He had been researching the MacGuffin (and was killed over it), and had in turn learned a lot of his information from the journal of a man who lived a thousand years earlier.  (Very sturdy paper!)  So I kind of had this huge info dump as one of the characters was reading the dead fiance’s journal.  I mean, I broke it up over a few days, with other things happening in between, but…not good storytelling.  I’m thinking that my first task in a re-write will be to write the entire journal of the man from a thousand years earlier, divide it up into neat little chunks, and stick them at the beginning of each chapter.

But that’s barely scratching the surface of what needs to be done.

Read the rest of this entry →

Missing Letter Monday No “V” – Another Author’s Oracle Tag

Published October 30, 2017 by Iphis of Scyros

So, in trying to decide what to post for my last Missing Letter Monday until December (yeah, it’s going away for NaNo), I looked through to see what I’d done in the past with this letter, and found this post with a series of questions for an author to answer about their current WIP.  And I decided that hey, I could just answer the questions again, only this time for the project I’m going to work on next month.  These questions were initially encountered on Sara Letourneau’s blog, in an open-ended “consider yourself tagged if you’re reading this” kind of thing.  So I guess that means I’m re-self-tagging?

Er….anyway…on to the questions, though (as before) I used some * in the questions when this week’s forbidden letter came up.


The Author’s Oracle Questions

The answers this time are going to be NaNo prep, for next month’s project, which I am planning as the first in a series.  (Who knows what I’ll actually end up writing, but…)  I keep putting off filling out the cool character sheet I found on the NaNo forums, so maybe this will help me with that.  It’s a genre-ignoring project with elements of the fantastic, elements of steampunk, and an LGBT romance.  And giant eagles.  Because all things are better with giant eagles.

0. The Fool: Which of your characters is the most intuiti*e?  The worst decision-maker?

The best decision-maker would be Ouden, the 12 year old girl on the crew of the airship.  She considers herself the one who keeps Cal, the captain, from dying all the time, and she’s pretty much right about that.  As to the worst…hmm.  That’s a tie between Cal and Elliot (the romantic leads), but for different reasons.  Cal is extremely passionate, and short-tempered.  He acts on impulse, but he’s also slow to trust, so he’ll do dumb things because he doesn’t trust someone yet, only then once he does trust them, he’d bend the fabric of reality if he could for someone important to him.  He was hurt horribly not too long before the book starts, so he’s become more slow to trust than before.  Elliot, on the other hand, is the ultimate naïf.  I mean, the guy took a madam’s word for it that she was just sheltering him out of the goodness of her heart, and had no idea she was charging the men who were also just taking shelter in the same room with him and who just happened to want to sleep with him.  (In his defense, he is quite young (about nineteen) and recently ran away from his sheltered home on the family farm.)

I. The Magician: What character, location, or object has the most positi*e influence in your story?

(OMG, I skipped this one last time!)  Probably Cal’s airship, the Audacity.  The cast would be utterly lost without it.  Although Cal wouldn’t be hunted without it, so maybe it’s not all good. Read the rest of this entry →

IWSG – Not Missin’ THIS Month!

Published October 4, 2017 by Iphis of Scyros

Yup, pre-writing this two weeks ago, to make sure I don’t miss it!  (Because of course nothing will change between then and now, right?)

I’ll probably tack on an actual post at the end of this, but in the mean time, I’ll just real quick answer the question of the month for October (which oddly has nothing to do with Halloween!):

Have you ever slipped any of your personal information into your characters, either by accident or on purpose?

Hmm.  I have surprisingly little personal information.  (LOL, that sounds crazy!)  But, really, by nature I’d spend all day hiding at home and doing whatever I pleased (reading, writing, gaming, toy collecting, shopping for more toys), and that means that’s what I tend to do when I have free time, so I have very little that’s the sort of thing they probably mean in this question:  no romantic ties, no children, etc.

On the other hand, the main character of my July CampNaNo work was essentially a self-insert into my current fandom obsession, so there’s a lot there that’s me:  total lack of social skills, asexual/aromantic, doll collector, museum employee, easily compelled into strange obsessions (but not in a creepy way), gamer, anime fan, Vocaloid fan, totally ignorant of 90% of popular music past and present, resident of this city, and 42 years old.  So, yeah, I guess I’ve slipped a lot of my personal information into a character on purpose!  But I doubt the work will ever be read.  I’m going to admit that she’s a self-insert in the (likely to be copious) author’s notes at the beginning, and probably in the summary, too, and self-insert characters are the Kryptonite of most fanfic readers.  (I find it highly amusing, possibly even ironic, that as I write these words, I am listening to a song “performed” by three Vocaloids produced by a company called Crypton Future Media.)  Of course, those notes will also explain that she’s just the vessel through which the readers are taking a tour of the 2017 edition of the slightly dystopian 1984 in the movie (and just like in reality, 2017 is infinitely worse than 1984) and hunting for clues as to what’s happened to the characters we know and love in the intervening decades, so maybe a few open minded fans will read it, but…heck, my stuff is only read by a few people anyway. Read the rest of this entry →

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