Writing Week • antagonists & outlines (11/12/17-11/19/17)

So, there’s two ideas this week. One, I was just thinking about (although my NaNo story probably helped), and the other is something I’ve learned doing NaNo.

First: I like to distinguish between “antagonist” and “villain”. The former is just what opposes the protagonist of a story. The latter is someone defined as “bad”, who may act cruelly, callously, selfishly, and manipulatively. I know villains can be nuanced, from backstory and dissecting whose POV the story comes from (a la monsters), but like… I think that’s why it’s taken me this long to start seeing the appeal of villains, rather than just antagonists.

Before, if I asked, I think I would have divided villains into: 1. transformed destructiveness which may be be resolved through commonality or compassion or understanding and 2. purposely cruel, manipulative, abusive, and possessive individual (usually male).

The first appears in Disney’s Moana, Williams’ Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, and Novak’s Uprooted; these are some of my favorite and strongest influences. This is also one of my favorite types of stories. That, and the unexpected twist (all these do that, as does Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings).

The second appears in Revolutionary Girl Utena as Akio and my NaNo story.

There were a lot of villains in my childhood that didn’t fit either category, and therefore, didn’t really register. Or if I had a third category, it was: mean for the sake of being mean. (A lesser form of category 2.)

But I’ve come to see how writing about villains — and I mean actually not nice characters — can be kind of interesting. Case in point: a short story I finished right before November features essentially only villain characters, but it still has a protagonist(s) and an antagonist. Like, the characters are kind of terrible people, but it’s still about them.

The other point is that I think having an outline is really useful for me — as long as I don’t numerically break down scenes. Once I have a number value, say 10 scenes, it becomes like an equation. I have to hit the quota of scenes, say 1-5, rather than focusing on the story or how characters feel. My current solution? Outline. But use bullet points, not numbers.

How do other people outline? Does anyone have anything similar to what I’m talking about? Let me know, if you like. (As it’s NaNo, I might not respond until December, but I wanted to extend the question.)

Best wishes and writing!

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Writing Week • NaNo 2017 (11/4/17-11/11/17)

The most prominent writing I did was NaNoWriMo. It’s kind of surreal writing a story that I have (and know) so much backstory about. Like whoa. There’s reasons and stories and such that probably won’t appear explicitly in it, but which have significance to the plot and characters. 

Also, since I’ve been writing a lot by hand, I haven’t posted as much as I’d planned to. The first story (Tale of the Princess) is finished, as of yesterday, and the next two stories should be relatively short. And then I can get on writing the second part. 

I’ll be the first to say that my NaNo story is, perhaps, not the most universal (I’ve never been good with understanding experiences deemed universal for humans), nor the most diverse. But it contains themes and ideas that have, apparently, been congealing inside me for over a decade. (Admittedly, I have other stories and ideas that are much older…)

Some of these include:

  • A fractured being and the consequences; having been fractured and having fractures stitched or impaled onto one’s essence or soul
  • A shining prince and/or hero who saves the world (but doesn’t) and has a sister (but doesn’t), who turns him into his shining self through her love (which she doesn’t); tales that build up blame on a woman for being wicked, as a witch or the prince’s sister or from curiosity or being selfish and vain 
  • The layered accusatory tales against monsters and demons; the difference between belief in the dichotomy of good & evil and creatures whose lifestyles and functions can be coded as “bad” or are incongruent with human life and development; also the difference between creatures that live incongruous to human welfare and controlled self-righteous possession/manipulation 
  • The woman who has suffered forever and lives in unending pain; can she be free? can she be healed? also that she deserves it for being wicked or corrupt

Will all these be equally prominent? Probably not. Do some of these (especially the monsters and demons) appear in nearly everything I write. Oh, yes!

Best wishes and writing!

Writing Week • story v. plot (10/21/17–10/28/17)

It’s wild; I haven’t written a post on my demons (or demons in general) this month. I feel like October is usually when I start thinking about that type of content. But nope, it’s been more backstory, story chronology, plot pulses, and better character definitions in an entirely different project. That and prepping for NaNoWriMo, which I’ll go into more when November arrives. 

So. The biggest thing(s) which have been on my mind is short stories. More specially, how stories (and plot) are constructed. This extends to novels too. For a long time, I could never quite distinguish between a story and a plot. I knew there was a difference. But I’ve finally, I think, gotten it through my head what the difference is. One is the chronological order of events. The other is the causality between events, which is strongly tied to character motivation and desire. 

The other result is that I really want to write short stories: old ones I want to rework, due to character history changes, and new ones, based on content, characters, and what I’ve been reading. These will probably plug along slowly, being of a lower priority than other objectives.

That’s all for now, I think.

Best wishes and writing!

Writing Week • recalibration

I still like the idea of, at least, ruminating weekly on my writing — what I’ve done, what I’ve discovered, what I’ve focused on, what’s on my mind — but whenever it comes to the day to post (usually) Sunday, I feel rushed. 

So, I may try a different day (Monday? Tuesday?) And I’ll see if that feels less “gotta get it done, rush, rush, rush”.

BUT…

As long as I’m here, I will say that I had deep character building moment this morning. Not just flaws and wants and interests, but the core cog of who this character is. And I’m just, I’m just so pleased. 

Writing Week • 10/8/17 — 10/14/17

This was a much better week.

Let’s see…

I delimited the contours of story variants. I’m not sure how to explain this other than…having a multitude of ideas all crammed together and having to sift them apart. 

I reflected back on my earliest writing that featured any content related to my demons. Re-reading that (along with reading LotR currently) has reminded me of where part of the impetus of my demons, as a created species, arose from. 

I also realized (or remembered) that the initial emotional crux wasn’t only related to the Moon. Which explains why the story was ordered the way it was in my first draft. I also will have to delete a huge hunch of material, because 1. It doesn’t fit historically, and 2. I felt it put too much of the conflict’s weight on the gods rather than the demons and that’s been a sore spot on me for awhile. 

I continue to work my way through the Nights of Heroes 100+ character compilation, finalizing names, years of birth, and rudimentary backstory.

I feel like I’m forgetting something, but this will have to do. I hope for one of these recaps’ I’ll be able to dig in a little more about what I’m talking about. More details and more personal reflection. Or maybe I should pick a stand out point and focus on that. That’s an idea. I’ll see how I feel about it.

Best wishes and writing!

Writing Week • 10/1/17 — 10/7/17

It’s been an odd week. 

Also, I have a mild headache, probably from getting distracted on the Internet (tumblr specifically, so it wasn’t like an info-inspiration hole, just the imprint of others’ thoughts and creative projects into my active consciousness) when I had wanted to revel in the sense of openness and work on a few odds and ends, but …nope. Internet. As one does.

Anyway. 

I HAVE discovered that a technique used in an old (and now moot) revision may be what I need for Nights of Heroes. I’d been trying to figure out to parcel out the plot via characters. But it’s soooo much easier to:

  1. break into plot categories 
  2. categorize characters into plots 
  3. work out how their wants interact and effect the plot

Also did some fine-tuning on types of magical imprisonments: 

  • types of magical being
  • type of imprisonment
  • type most likely to be sought be different antagonists

But it does bring out how odd it (still) is to me that Disney’s Aladdin operates in a world where jinn are automatically enslaved. (Unless that’s some quirk of it being a wish…)
Sadly, I’ve only made minimal progress on “White Tree.” 

Did a lot of drawings for Inktober. That’s been taking up my writing attention. Cause deadlines! Bleh. Though to be fair, I did enjoy the load of Dreams drawings I did. Also love drawing those characters. But I have missed writing. I’ve just been off, I guess. A bit tired and a sense of feeling over-ambitious but only getting a bare minimum done. (And being me, I have had medical-inspired anxiety about it!)

Sorry for the downer post. I guess there isn’t much to say.

Oh! I forgot. I tweaked a bunch of chronological info and got a better sense of when events happened in lieu of each other. Yay

Toothiana Queen of the Tooth Fairy Armies

The Guardians: Book Three

by William Joyce

“If you have them under your pillow as you sleep, or hold it tightly, you will remember that which you need — a memory of happy days, or of deepest hopes, or even of us in better times” (Joyce, 93).

Chapter Twelve

Last week Mr. Qwerty told Katherine and the other Guardians about how Toothiana’s parents, Haroom and Rashmi, met. Because there are no children in Pujam Hy Loo, the family moves to live among mortals. Their lives are peaceful for a while, until Toothiana turns twelve and loses her last baby tooth.

Then she sprouts wings, much to the delight of the other children.  But their parents, the grown-ups “were bewildered… [and] [s]ome thought she was an evil spirit and should be killed; others saw ways to use her, as either a freak to be caged and paraded about, or to force her to fly to the palace of the new maharaja and steal his jewels” (86).

I don’t have the words to express how angry this makes me. She’s a child and all the adults can think of is how to use to her to increase their fortune or to kill she defies what is normal. It just…it makes me furious. As the text sums up concisely: “The grown-ups of the village had gone mad with fear and greed” (87). Basically, they’re jerks. And it won’t get any better.

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