Tuesday, September 19, 2017

All the Reveal Stories!

It's.... been a trying week. I only managed 1800 words last week; only two writing days. I squeezed in a short burst before writing group, although I didn't end up reading anything. I then finished put-off errands on Wednesday, followed by a mad-dash on Thursday to try to clean my apartment at least a LITTLE before my mother's arrival.

She came up Friday, and we spent it going over her business. Saturday was a long, and I mean LONG, day organizing my dining room/secondary room. We have a few more last-minute things to do to finish, but it's mostly dropping off trash and donations. I should have it done by the end of today, so I'll be sure to post pictures next week. Anyway, after putting in my eight-plus hours of near-straight work, I finished the night trying to get more than 600 words in for the week.

Where I'm at, Adrien is wrestling with his feelings: does he love Marinette for Marinette, or does he only have feelings for Ladybug that spills over to Marinette? If he only has feelings for Marinette because she's Ladybug, does that mean he doesn't truly have feelings for Ladybug after all? The poor kid is so confused, but I couldn't get into the right mindset. Thankfully, a song that played at work gave me the spark of inspiration I needed.
Because of "Crush" by David Archuleta, I was able to knock out almost 1200 words before I had to call it quits Saturday night. It was a nice mini-spurt of writing, but I wasn't able to get any more in on Sunday.

While I was at work yesterday I did take some downtime to write some more, just to avoid all of these zero days piling up on me. I didn't continue telling the story, and I didn't really add all that much to the parts that I already wrote. All-in-all, my writing at work wasn't even 400 words, but it still was something. It wasn't a zero.

What I did accomplish was the start of editing the first half of the story. I decided that will be my goal while at work. It takes a little less effort, so it's easier to jump in and out of the process, depending on when I'm needed. It also really helps, as editing tends to be, because it allots me time to clean up some of the paragraphs that were clunky when I originally wrote them during the summer challenge; leaving my out-of-work writing time available for continuing the story. I'm also adding a bit more depth with these edits, now that I know this story needs it. I'm probably going to go over the story yet again to slow the pace further in order to add even more meat to the tale, and then break it into chapters.

For now, though, I'm just working on getting the main body of the story fleshed out. I'll chapter it later, once I have the first draft fully written.

While at work, I'm also cleaning up characterization. There have already been a few paragraphs scrapped and rewritten so Adrien and Marinette stay more in-character. I'll have to find time for another rewatch to solidify that I have them written right. That's the main issue of watching all these fancomic dubs: I'm being flooded by how others interpret the characters and the character's voices; which is overshadowing the canonical portrayals.

On the plus side, though, I'm really picking up on a lot of patterns that the fandom has thought of in regards to the Big Reveal of Chat Noir and Ladybug's true identities. There are some that I love and want to try to include - such as Adrien's confusion about his feelings, since us fans believes he has started to have a crush on Marinette anyway - as well as some I know I want to avoid - such as Marinette freaking out that Chat Noir is disappointed that she's Ladybug because she feels that she's a loser.

I kind of want to do something similar to "You've Got Mail" I think. Adrien will use Marinette's crush on him to convince her how great Chat Noir is so that she falls for the "true" version of him. I'm not 100% sold on this idea, and I still have to get past Adrien's shock over who Ladybug is, but it could be fun.

On the flipside, while messing with Adrien's head over his crush for Marinette is fun, the "You've Got Mail" thing works better if Marinette knew first. Mainly because Marinette already likes the civilian form, so him showing her he's Chat Noir by powering up, and her giving the iconic "I hoped it was you" line just seems odd and reversed. Meanwhile, since Adrien has been actively looking for Ladybug, having her de-power to her civilian form is a lot more analogous of the anonymity of a pen pal being revealed when meeting in person for the first time. "I hoped it was you" works so much better when the mask is REMOVED instead of added.

On the other hand, I also really liked the reveal in "Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman." Spoilers for anyone who hasn't watched the series, but wants to: skip to the next paragraph if you want to avoid them. Anyway, Lois volunteers to let Superman flash-freeze her so she appears dead, under the assumption that Superman could then use his heat vision to revive her once the villain is thwarted. Lois is dating Clark at this point, so when Superman lovingly brushes her cheek before freezing her Lois recognizes it as the same move Clark does all the time. Then, when Superman revives her Lois hears his voice and recognizes it as Clark before she opens her eyes and realizes it's Superman.

I kind of want to do something like that. Marinette and Ladybug are so similar to each other that the personality Marinette showcases as Ladybug seems to be the main thing throwing the world off; kind of like original Superman with his glasses. Clark is too meek to possibly be Superman, which, along with something "covering his eyes," is his only real "mask" to hide who he really is. This is nearly an exact parallel for Marinette and Ladybug. Therefore, I kind of like the idea of something traumatic triggering Adrien "hearing" Marinette when Ladybug talks, and then realizing who she is.

On the flipside, Adrien changes up his personality, his hair shags into a mildly different style, and he does change up his vocal inflections a touch as well - a trick both superheros do unintentionally, I'm sure, but it CAN be enough to also fool people. Between the two of them, Adrien to Chat Noir is a much more drastic change, and so I could see how it would be harder for Marinette to figure out who he is. Plus, it's a lot easier to believe there are multiple teen males with shaggy blonde hair, since Adrien's eyes are also changed completely green to match the cat-look. It's a lot harder to rationalize that in Paris there are tons of teen girls wearing their black-hair in pigtails, while also having blue eyes. So, this might get us back to the original "You've Got Mail" situation of Chat Noir using his Adrien half to convince Marinette to love both sides of him.

I might have to write multiple Reveal fanfics and see which one the fans prefer.

Thanks to a college friend, I'm now part of a fanfiction group on Facebook, so I might have to see if any of them are into Miraculous. It is an 18+ group, but who knows? Maybe some wholesome child's cartoon fanfiction is just the palate cleanser they need.

Either way, with the second season coming out in November, I might have the readers regardless. I just hope they don't actually do a Big Reveal scene this upcoming season, because there's no way I'll have any of these stories done before November, and it's more fun to write these fanfics when it's still a mystery as to how the show will do it.

I mean, after how "Lois and Clark" did their reveal, it just seemed too perfect to mess with it. It wouldn't be fun to rewrite that story. It's much like the "Hey, Arnold!" fanscript I want to try to finish before November; it's a race to get my own vision out before the canonical version is revealed.

Who knows, though? I might win the race!

Thanks to the massive hard work my mother put in over the weekend, I now have my library back, so I have my writing hide-away again. I also have much easier access to my journals for all my notes. On top of that, I can now get to the binders I have set up for Gyateara's world creation, and the outline for What Is Truly Meant To Be. So I might be able to get back to working on each of those starting in January, after the projects I already have planned are completed.

It is WORLDS easier to find what I need, and know where everything should go, after my mother re-arranged and re-organized this place, which also means I SHOULD need to dedicate less time in cleaning every week. Want to guess what I might do with that new free time? Anyone guess more writing? Okay, maybe some video game playing again.... but mainly MORE WRITING AVAILABILITY!

2017 may have been a slow-start/sucky year, but 2018 already is shaping up to be promising. It's always the even years....

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Get Even the Trash on Paper

We all know what this means for my writing, right?

It will go straight into the toilet....
Hacker Girl Facebook Sticker
by Birdman Inc
It already started this week. Sorta. Thursdays, Sundays, and Mondays are all going to be trash writing days, because I'm going to more-or-less go straight from work to watching a football game. I thought that maybe I'd put in my headphones and write while the game is on in the background; peeking every once in a while to keep on top of what's going on, but who am I kidding?

My writing and any nutritional eating just fall off a cliff the first week of football season, and it takes me a little while for them to heal and return strong.

I did try my darnedest to push myself to write the rest of the week, though. Didn't always work, and I didn't write nearly as much on the days I did write, but it's better than no writing.
My mantra this week.
You can always edit later. You don't have a story if it stays in your head, though. I mean, you DO, but what if you lose it? What if you wait to find the perfect words the first go and never find them? What if you need the whole story first before you can find the perfect words?

Just write. Get that story out of your head. Go from there. It may be a painful read through when you're done, but no one but you has to do that read. Then you polish until you're excited to share it.

Anyway, back to this week. I was coming off an awesome high. I had plowed through nearly 7000 words in one week, I wrote six out of the seven days of the week, and I wrote over 1000 words nearly every writing session.

Without the added drive of the challenges, though, I kind of went back into "research mode"... kinda.

OK, I spent the week more-or-less watching dubs of Miraculous fancomics on YouTube. I wanted to see how others dealt with the "big reveal" vs "one knows about the other, but both don't" and other such tricky plots. Mainly because I was stuck as to what everyone's reaction would be.

The last 1284 words I wrote in a desperate sprint to finish the Summer Challenge weren't terrible, but they weren't exactly good either. I saved them all in a separate document in case I want to revisit the feelings there, but then started over with that whole scene. It went in a semi-different direction that stayed more with Adrien than my original version did. I'm still not 100% happy with it, but it's better. It still needs more tweaking, but I think I just really need to lengthen this whole story into chapters. I feel like the story is getting way long, but moving at a breakneck pace at the same time.

Well, as I tripped my way through this scene in an attempt to move back into the ones that more-or-less wrote themselves, I managed a whopping 1347 words for the week. Whooo.....

I feel like I wrote more. I feel like I did something aside from this blog last Tuesday, but I forgot to log the words, and with all the editing I've been doing with my story, I couldn't confirm nor deny that I had advanced it at all on Tuesday.

I know for a fact that I wrote on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday... so there's that at least. Each session was under 1000 words, and nearly all three were less than 800 words. Still, I hid myself away, determined to write, and I did, at least for a little bit. I may not be excited by the scene I'm writing - which doesn't bode well for people reading it - but I'm at least getting it on paper. I'm pushing through.

I'm pretty positive that this month will just be a bunch of bouncing back and forth between working my way through this fanfic and redoing the fight scene for the STILL untitled Trish/Devon showdown story.

To help me out with the latter, I actually ordered a couple of things. Meet Body Kun and Body Chan.

They're flimsier plastic than I expected; aren't as easy to pose as I'd like; the stands fall apart easily, so you have to have a gentle touch; switching out the multiple different hands is harder than depicted due to the wrist joint moving abruptly while trying to snap on the hand you want; I had to pop Body Chan's shoulder back into socket when I first opened her up from the packaging; I couldn't find a proper hand to keep the pencil accessory from slipping to the table as soon as I let go; and I can't seem to get them to stand on their own like the pictures on the website suggests. All that being said, they are well articulated, have multiple hands to choose from, and you can do a fair amount with those stands, which double as storage for the accessories.

All-in-all, I'd give these guys a 7 out of 10. Not worth the $89.99 they are originally listed as, and may not even be worth the $39.99 they're currently on sale for as of this writing. However, they are worth the $45 package deal I got for them, I think. For nothing else, they're probably worth that much due to the accessories included. Whatever their value, I don't know how good they'll be for actual posing references for artists, but they should be posable enough for my purposes: visually "watching" fight scenes play out so they seem more realistic. We'll see if it helps.

Sadly, the one member of my local writing group who really pointed out my flaws is now studying abroad, so I probably won't see her again for a year or more. Maybe I can still convince her to give it a read-over via Google Docs or something.

On top of the new narrative projects I've got going on this month, I'm now on week three or four - I think - of a major work project. I'm apparently in charge of writing an orientation handbook for my job.

Technically, it wasn't an official order. It was more of the owner of the company asking my manager if I would mind writing one in between the other projects I have to take care of at work. I feel so over my head, and yet again I'm following the mantra of
I'm up to something like 40pgs - including the cover page, index, and about 10 pgs of appendices - and I'm just now getting to the meat of the handbook. I have everything else related to the job described and explained, but now I have to figure out what bits of sales itself I need to include.
Bun Facebook Sticker
by David Lanham
As of right now I'm dumping everything I can think of onto the page so I make sure I don't forget anything. I'll condense later. Might even gain some faith in potential future co-workers and assume they have some common sense. We'll see.

Either way, it's a tedious job that I kind of dread doing. I don't write non-fiction. I'm terrible at knowing what people need to know and what is overkill. I mean, even without the appendices and intro pages, it's still something like 25pgs of information, and I'm not done yet! Help!

At least I have my fiction writing to escape to over lunch breaks. As well as the book I picked for September's Book of the Month for the 2017 Reading Books Like A Boss challenge. Years ago for a birthday gift, my one friend got me the book "The Legend of Zelda and Philosophy: I Link Therefore I Am" edited by Luke Cuddy. I haven't made it to the meat 'n' potatoes of the book, so I can't really say one way or the other what my thoughts are, but it's at least interesting thus far. I did get pulled out at one point because the author of a particular segment wrongly, and repetitively, called Link's home island in "The Wind Waker" Outcast Island instead of Outset Island. It made me wonder how much they really played the game before trying to philosophize, but aside from that....

I'm going to use it for the "outside comfort zone" category because I almost exclusively read fiction. The last time I read non-fiction that isn't a writing related was in college. Plus, I'm not enough of a "thinker" to really get into philosophy, but it's about Zelda, and I do have an open mind, or at least try to, so I'm intrigued. I'll keep you posted, and I hope this also gets me back on track for finishing up the year with all 12 books for the challenge read. I already know I have more than that read as well, between the mangas, fanfictions, and novels that don't fall into any of the categories.

Oh, and I might be going back to "Ready, Set, Novel!" soon to try to figure out my Varekai fannovelization. I even have a fancy new orange notebook to jot my thoughts down in. I blame my first job out of college, but I equate blue, orange, and white to Icarus: blue for the sky, orange for the sun, and white for the wings. But also because of our mascot: a blue-skinned ginger Icarus with attached angel-like wings so he wouldn't fall.
Logo designed by our then art director Julie Fox Moyer
Icarus design and commercial animation by Thomas Pollock
So I have three projects! Four if you count the work one.... Five if I find the time to finish the "Hey, Arnold!" fanscript of "The Jungle Movie" with ChibiSunnie before the official movie airs in November!

Um... I might be overdoing it with the WIPs....
Tanuki Facebook Sticker
by Yanare Ku
Mom is also coming back up at the end of this week to tackle two more of my chaotic rooms. I may have an organized apartment yet! It will also mean I might not get much writing done this weekend, or the start of next week. We'll see.

I did just state last week that I seem to do well with my writing when my time is limited. We'll see if I strike oil again.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Knowing Your Characters: Better Writing Through Empathy

I DID IT! Barely. I squeaked by, but I did it. I completed my Summer Challenge goal. The last 1284 words I wrote are probably completely nonsensical because I was literally passing out as I was writing them, but I did it. I pushed!

As I've mentioned a few times on this blog, Quarthix's wedding to The Captain happened on Sunday, so it was a busy week, a jam packed weekend, and a full Sunday. We did get home from the wedding at about 7:30 though, so I was excited to have time to write. But I was sore and tired, so I just slumped on the couch and snuggled the husband for a while. And then a while longer. And then it was about 10pm and I was like “Shoot! I still have 1200 words to write before going to bed!”

Now, let's take this back a step.

Last week I noted the irony that as soon as I acknowledge that Mondays are my “writing wash” day I ended up writing on a Monday. Well, I fell back into “Mondays are a wash” yesterday, but we'll ignore that for a moment. The reason I brought up the irony of me writing last Monday, aside from further proof that irony follows me everywhere, was that it was the start of one of the most productive weeks outside of NaNo that I've had.

I wrote on Monday. I made sure to get at least 200 words down on Tuesday before my writing group, in order to state that I DID write a narrative that day. I then wrote 1100 words on Wednesday. And then 1300 words on Thursday. And then 1400 words on Friday! I just kept increasing! I just kept writing in more and more of a fury the further into my fanfic I got. I didn't even know where I was going with it. I sat down, scared that I had no direction, and then the story unfolded for me. It's been a little while since I tried on my fanfic writer hat, and I'm glad it still fits.

I wrote every day of the work week. Every day! I wrote for five days out of the seven Monday-through-Sunday week. I surpassed my 5000 words per week goal. I didn't manage to write at least 1000 words per session – stupid Tuesday – but I did manage to write more than enough the other days of the week to make up for it. I was done. I completed my week's challenge. I even surpassed it by about 600 words. I could check in Friday morning to say I completed the week.

Then I saw my overall word count. I was 1275 words from hitting my overall challenge goal of 22,000 words by the end of the 6-week challenge.

“It should be easy,” I thought when I set up my goal. “It's not even a half-NaNo, and I have an extra fortnight to do it in.”

HA! Here I was, now at the end of the six weeks, with nearly an extra 1300 words that needed to be written. It was now 10pm on Sunday. I managed my goal for the week. Do I bother trying to play the catch-up game?

Darn right I do! I set a word goal for myself, and 1275 words is so tauntingly close. I could do that in one writing session. I've proved that week that I could do it in one writing session. I've been in the zone with this story. I could do this.

I kissed the husband. I hid in my bedroom. I made a grave mistake.

I started off halfway decently, but I wasn't really sure where I wanted to go with the story at this point. So what, though? The other scenes and writing sessions started the same way, and, as I mentioned, they all turned out fairly decent. The story just unfolds and surprises even me. I trusted that the story would just keep blossoming on its own.

Besides, I knew more-or-less where I wanted to go with the scene. I wanted to talk about the relationship between the two kwamis – guardian creatures that give the main characters their powers – but I also knew that Plagg would not be the type to openly talk about it. I had to break him so he'd confess to Adrien, but what would he confess? A lot of fan headcanon - shorthanded as Fannon - seems to have the two kwamis, who unofficially represent Yin and Yang, as not only partners, but lovers. I loved this thought and how heartbreaking of an idea that was, considering how infrequently they could interact with each other. However, it just doesn't seem in Plagg's character. He is constantly mocking Adrien about love, keeps pointing out how it's more lucrative to love objects, such as cheese, and doesn't seem to care about Adrien's desire to find out who Ladybug is. If Plagg was in love with Tikki, you'd think he'd be full-throttle on-board with finding Ladybug, because that would mean Plagg could see Tikki again.

Granted, Plagg could also be filling the void left by the realization that he'd rarely ever see his love. He could be displacing his love for Tikki; which would then totally explain his near obsession with Camembert, if that's actually all his love for Tikki that he can't show otherwise it would hurt him too much. His mocking Adrien might also be because the kid can't go five minutes without pining for his love, while Plagg and Tikki might go centuries without interacting with each other. He might also be bitter about their fate as kwamis, and want to spit in Love's face because his life's purpose keeps him from his love.

There could be a lot of complex thoughts and emotions put upon Plagg if you keep to the fannon theory of Plagg and Tikki being lovers. I'd love to explore it, too! So much depth could be added to this otherwise lackadaisical character.

The snaffu is Tikki herself, though. She's bubbly, wise, and seems to help Marinette with her love of Adrien; trying to convince Marinette to confess and helps her find ways to do so. Tikki seems a strong believer of love, but also doesn't seem to care to look for Plagg. She doesn't seem embittered by separation. She doesn't seem lost or lonely. She only seemed sorrowful when thinking about the other Ladybugs she has empowered over the centuries. She was even the one to stress to Marinette the importance that no one should know about the kwamis or who Ladybug and Chat Noir are, even each other. Why? If Plagg is her lover, why wouldn't Tikki want to let Marinette know that it's okay to let Chat Noir know who Ladybug is? If she did that, it would mean Tikki and Plagg could be with each other whenever Adrien and Marinette were together outside of their superhero personas.

I'm sure one could argue that Tikki's reasoning is because Tikki knows how much Chat Noir loves Ladybug, and doesn't want to break the guy's heart since Marinette only has feelings for Adrien. One could also argue that Tikki knows that Chat Noir is Adrien and wants to make sure the model loves Marinette for Marinette, and not for her Ladybug persona. One could argue that the more mature Tikki understands the bitter fate of her and Plagg being starcrossed lovers, and has accepted it. She knows that the two of them will find each other eventually, but is alright not pushing it. They have a priority of powering up their Chosen, and keeping the world safe from villains. The emotions of the kwamis are secondary.

Again, a lot of depth, emotion, and complexity if I wanted to keep these two within the fannon of “lovers.” I don't know if I want to, though, at least for this story. It may deter from the Adrien/Marinette love story if I brought the complexity of Plagg/Tikki to light.

Also, as bittersweet as it is to think of Plagg and Tikki yearning for each other right alongside Adrien and Marinette, unknowingly, pining for the other, the characterization presented of these two kwamis makes me think of a different dynamic: Siblings.

It still sort of has that pang of separation, especially if they are “twins,” as it were. Think of your siblings, if you have any. Under most circumstances, even if you are polar opposite personalities, and you don't get along all that well, you still love and miss each other if you go a long time not seeing each other. You may even joke about how your sibling no longer exists if you haven't had much contact in a while. You may even live your life as if you didn't have said sibling. Yet, the moment you see that sibling, it all goes away. Love comes back. You realize how much you missed them.

I think THAT is Tikki and Plagg. They are content in knowing that the other exists and is fine – showcased by Ladybug and Chat Noir existing – but don't feel a true need to track down their sibling. At the same time, though, seeing the other will fill them with a sense of love and relief, I'd wager. There would be a warm reunion, or a longing for one, if one spotted the other.

I may change my mind in other fanfics, or when more is revealed during the next season, but for the current fanfic I'm writing, I'm pretty sure I'm going with they're “twins,” or, at least, as “twins” as two cosmic beings can be...

We'll ignore the Wonder Twins...
Although it would be equally fun to picture Ronoxym as Plagg
and myself as Tikki! XD
Besides, if I stuck with them being "twins" it might keep me from running into a possible roadblock: would Marinette and/or Adrien think that their "love" was little more than the influence of Tikki and Plagg's love for each other? It would take forever to try to "prove" to the teens that their love is their own, and not them somehow acting out the love that Tikki and Plagg can't ever really showcase to the other.

Siblings just makes everything a lot less complicated, and it works well with what we've been presented thus far in the show. I could even see one being exasperated with the other because of how polar-opposite they are to each other, and yet it works.

So, I ran with the sibling idea. I went back a little to make sure Plagg's reaction was appropriate for a twin vs a long-lost lover. I may have to tweak some more, but it seems to work.

I still had the "how to make Plagg confess this, though" question.

I had no direction, and I was getting exhausted. It was late, I was tired, I hid the only place I could with my writing nest in the library buried under..... well.... we'll just leave it at "buried"....

Putting a sleepy person in bed with the gentle heat of a laptop is not the best idea, though.

I started drifting. My mind was jumbled. I would start a sentence, lose where I was going with it, and tag on the ending of a completely different sentence. I would have to stop every three sentences or so, re-read what I wrote, try to remember where I wanted to go with it, rewrite, and then try another couple of sentences before I had to stop and rewrite so it was comprehensible.

I dozed. I woke up. I strained to stare at the computer with no luck at translating the weird squiggles into coherent thought. I attempted to edit. I dozed again. I stood up. I stretched. My back hurt. I laid back down again. I dozed once more. I put on upbeat music. I smacked my cheeks. I still dozed again. I wrote. I checked my word count. I was still about 600 words behind.

I had written about half of what I needed to in order to "win" the summer challenge I put on myself. I could barely see the screen. It was almost 11. I knew I should have called it quits, but if 1275 was tauntingly close to meeting my goal, what was 600 words? I could do that in a single page if I wanted to! I was so close. I had about an hour, close to eight if I had gone to the actual deadline of noon on a Monday, London-time. I could do this.

I typed. I fell asleep. I woke up. I typed some more. I stopped and reread. I wondered what I had just read. I reread again. I still couldn't follow where my sleep-addled brain was trying to lead me. I reread one last time. I deleted everything. I rewrote. I was awake enough to write a handful of coherent sentences before my lids locked closed. I dozed. I woke. I went through the whole five-minute-long process again. And again. And again. And again. At 11:15ish, I checked my word count again: 200 left.

I was close enough. I could close my laptop, wake up early, and punch it out in a couple minutes.

No! I was close. I was going to do it! I felt wide awake now anyway. I got a sentence or two in and dozed. I woke up, wrote a few more sentences. Dozed. Edited. Wrote. Dozed. Wrote. Edited. Dozed. It was now 11:30. I still had about 100 words left!

I tried again: 40 words left. Once more: 20. One last time. I could barely see my screen. I was more-or-less typing with my eyes closed. It was six minutes to midnight. I checked my word count. I was at 1284 words. My grand total was 22,009 words within 6 weeks. I had surpassed what I wanted to write! I had done it!

I wrote for six out of seven days. I wrote seven out of eight days! I wrote 22 out of 42 days! I wrote at least half the time throughout the challenge.

I managed to write 12,974 words in two weeks, when it took me nearly the entirety of July to write 10,000 words!

Am I the only one excited about this? I mean, I know it's small peanuts compared to professional novelists, but that's still pretty cool, right?

Celebrate the small victories, people! It keeps you happy, appreciative, motivated, and well-grounded.

In contrast to that thought, I read Icarus' Descent to the writing group on Tuesday. I think I got a couple of people intrigued with the Cirque de Soliel show "Varekai" as I talked more about the whole story I was planning on working on for NaNo. We also chatted about the Icarus myth itself for a little while.

As for the story I read? I received such good reviews. There were small tweak suggestions here and there, and without first meeting The Guide, Icarus' description of the man was a bit confusing, but I hope that gets ironed out once I put more chapters before this one.

One of the things that people seemed to like the most was how Icarus felt like he literally fell through the stages of grief.

I have a bit of a confession to make, one I probably shouldn't. I should probably let people think I'm some genius, but the odd thing is, I didn't do the stages of grief thing intentionally. I didn't break it down and try to find an image to represent Icarus shifting from one stage to the next. I just pictured what it would be like to be Icarus as he plummeted from the sky; knowing there was no saving him. I didn't think he'd be terrified the whole fall. I didn't think he'd die - or in this case, fall into Varekai - still pleading with the gods to spare him. I just pictured him accepting his fate, and the natural progression from terror to acceptance just lines up with the stages of grief. Probably why they are in the order they're in.

No. I didn't think much about the actual stages. I didn't analyze anything. I just used my empathy to put myself in Icarus' skin, and wrote exactly what he felt. I channeled my character the same way I always do, and he legitimately went through the stages. It made the whole thing feel real, probably because, for him, it was. And if it was for him, it was for me, which then brings it full-circle back to being real for the reader, or... listener, in the case of us reading it aloud to the writing group.

It's the same way I've been working on my fanfic. I go in not really knowing what is going to happen next. I just try to keep Adrien and Plagg in character, and follow what they naturally do. It's real to them, therefore real to me, which translates as real in the story.

It's a strange phenomenon, perhaps. I don't know how many writers truly are "pantsers" to the degree of "channeling" the characters as they tell their story. I may be part of a fifty-fifty split. I may be in the majority, which is why stories feel real and draw people into their world. I may be a minority, which is why there are even more stories that fall flat because there isn't enough empathy for the reader to care. I could be a rare breed, and all other authors do have to put the time and thought into the empathy that draws people in. Regardless, it works, and I'm going to ride the wave.

Now, last week I did talk about a story that is right on the fence-post with the empathy issue. For me, "Atlas Shrugged" has a great character in Dagny, and another great character in Hank. There's an interesting character in Francisco, but he's more intrigue than empathetic. There's also a potentially interesting character in Eddie, but he's not utilized nearly as much as you'd expect as the first person introduced in the novel. I want to know so much more about these four characters, which is why I want to keep reading. Yet, the overall plot just feels so bogged down that it's almost painful for me to push through the bog of words in order to get past the plot and to the actual story involving Dagny, Hank, and Francisco.

I do want to finish the story. I do. It's a classic. There are pop-culture references. My father-in-law loves it. The characters call for me to finish their tale. I- I just can't this year. It's taking too long.

So I officially gave up on "Atlas Shrugged" until 2018. I'll just have "finish this darn novel" as my 2018 challenge!

Which means I need a new book for this month, and possibly a shorter one so I could get another story in as well. Especially since I can't get the Miraculous fanfic I read last month to fit any of the book categories listed in the challenge.

I still haven't picked a replacement book, but I have been going through the thick "Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time" manga to still get my reading in each day. That counts, right? No. Not towards the challenge. It does count as general reading just as much as the fanfic did though....

Well, this post is late enough as it is, and pretty hardy, so I just want to say one last congratulations to The Captain and her First Mate. Enjoy your honeymoon, Quarthix and Wifey.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Keep That Song On Repeat

I did it!

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by Birdman Inc
I surpassed my word-count goal this past week! Not by much, and the over-all weekly goal is kind of small by "writing standards," but it was a lot for me, and not only did I meet it, but I surpassed it. That's big for me. That spring-time writing slump is completely behind me now!

I still can't seem to write at least five times a week, at least, not if you exclude writing my blog or anything for work. I did write four out of seven days, though, more frequently if you do count non-narrative writings.

My grand total for the week was 6055 words out of my 5000 word aim. Like I said, I didn't surpass by that much in the grand scheme of things, but it did also catch me up a little bit. I'm now only about 1400 words behind where I should be this far into the challenge. I have the rest of the week to write the last 5400 words needed to hit my challenge goal of 22,000 words. That does mean I have more than my intended weekly goal of 5000 words, but I think I can make it.

I know this because I actually wrote yesterday! Yeah! So much for Mondays being a complete wash for me. I can't even recall the last time I wrote on a Monday, but I made time for it last night. Wrote 1400+ words too. If I write about 1500 words per day for four more days, I'll not only hit my five-days-a-week goal, but I'll also hit my overall word goal for the challenge.

My only possible snafu is that Quarthix's wedding is this weekend, so I probably won't get any writing done on Sunday, unless it's late-night writing after coming home from the wedding. At least Game of Thrones is over for the season, so I won't have that distraction. I also probably won't have much writing time on Saturday, unless I sneak some time in while at work. Once I clock out I'll be zipping over for the rehearsal and setting the venue up for the wedding the next day. Friday I have the day off, but it will also be a "spa day" for the bridal party, as well as last-minute wedding prep. We'll see if I can get writing done before we all meet up in the afternoon.

So, that leaves today - which is already pretty jam packed, which is why this post is a bit late - as well as tomorrow and Thursday, which I'll be working the full day. Maybe I'll write something at work, or right after work on Thursday. Hubby and a few of our friends are going to be doing a game-night, but maybe I'll stay home. We'll see how good I'm doing with the challenge by then.

I was doing really well with Jolene. I managed to crank out a few more chapters. Her over-all story is now over 56,000 words. By the time I'm done, it will probably be closer to 80,000, at the rate I'm writing. I'll have a lot of editing and cutting to do!

Shadow seems a bit overwhelmed at the massiveness of Jolene's "back story" but might possibly be interested in reading it still. Even if he isn't, I now have Cyhyr enthusiastically flailing her arms to signal me as a potential beta-reader. I don't know if she comprehends what she's getting herself into. hehe. I appreciate the enthusiasm, though, especially since this story is completely NOT ChibiSunnie-friendly, so I know she won't be able to beta.

Here's hoping Cy clears out her calendar next year, because it will take me a while to finish, and a while for her to read through it. I'm already envisioning all the red ink! As Omnibladestrike would put it: "looks like a chicken was sacraficed on it."

OOOOH! Speaking of Omni! He's written something new! He even shared it! Go check it out and give him both love and pointers! Yay, Omni!!!!!


Anyway, so I've really been cranking out the writing, thanks to Jolene. It's not 10,000 words a day, like some writers. It's not even 4000 words a day, which seems to be the average goal. However, somewhere between 1200 and 2200 words per session seems impressive enough for me. I'll eventually get to those thousands-a-day points.

I hit a wall the other day, though. I'm at the point in Jolene's past where one of her johns nearly kills her as a means of avoiding paying her. I just haven't been in the proper head-space for a chapter that dark quite yet. With all the hate and violence going on in the US lately, I wanted to sort of retreat from that for now.

I still needed to write, however, so I caved. I started writing Miraculous fanfiction. I recently stumbled upon a song off of a copyright-free site, and it's been my "get pumped" music the past week. Being royalty-free, I was able to download it, which proved super helpful when our internet went down yesterday. I could still pop the song on repeat, and just write.
I don't know what it is about this song, but I just pictured Chat Noir spying on Marinette, but not in a sensual manner, more a protective or curious one. I just wrote from Adrien's POV. I ended up rambling a bit during my stream-of-consciousness writing. I saved the 600 words I wrote, then grabbed a paragraph or two that seemed to have an actual plot embedded in them, and started over. I got about 1000 words in that time before I did the same: save in case I want to use the material for something later, salvage what I could, and start again in an attempt to keep a coherent plot.

I'm now 3300 words into the story, and I feel it's going to have another scrap-job coming up. All-in-all, I think these practices are doing exactly what they should: sharpening my skills and letting me really feel out my character. Or, in this case, feel out someone else's character to make sure I understand him well enough.

When all is said and done, I probably won't actually share what I've been working on the past two days. I'll probably end up chopping it up, slowing it down a bit, and using it for my "Identities Revealed" fanfic I want to write. It's a shame that it means yet again I won't have something for you guys to read, but it may also mean the end-result will be worth the wait.

In the meantime, I have something to talk about at group tonight: the WIPs I have going on, and my progress with them, as well as my progress with the writing challenges. I also have something to read still. Since I missed last writing group due to organizing my apartment, coupled with a flash flood that probably kept most of the other members away anyway, I still have my Icarus falling into Varekai short to read.

Speaking of reading, I'm still chugging along with Atlas Shrugged. After reading it for at least a half-hour nearly every day for the better part of 6 weeks, I'm still only about 15% of the way through the book. I have to make a decision: keep going and ignore the rest of the 2017 reading challenge I have been doing, or put the book down and try it again in 2018.

I honestly don't know which I'd prefer. I'm now determined to finish this book, especially since my Father-in-Law loves it so much. Plus, it does have an intriguing plot, as well as character dynamics that make me squeal a bit. The problem is that the book is nearly 1100 PAGES long, I've barely made a dent in it after a month, and it takes FOREVER to unbury the interesting plot. I think I need to watch the movie instead; it should weed out most of the extra stuff that bogs the plot down for me.

Now, the flipside is the fact that when I go a day or two without reading the book I forget what ends up being key characters or plot elements, characters and elements that seemed minor when I first read them, so I didn't really retain them. Then they become kind of key for the plot, and I have to flip back through the story to try to refind and reread the parts where the element is introduced. If I stop and try again next year instead of taking on a challenge, I might have to re-read the 200 pages I've already read. For a lot of more modern stories, that's close to an entire novel in and of itself, and I might have to go through them a second time if I put this book down.

I'll have to figure out what I'm doing before the end of the month, though, because I'm now two months behind on the challenge, and I'll have to kick into overdrive if I decide to finish the challenge.

I'll let you guys know next week what I decide, as well as how I finished the last leg of this writing challenge. Catch you guys next Tuesday.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

My Muse Apparently Has Purple Hair

I'm not sure if I should be proud or disappointed in my efforts....

On the one hand, I only managed two writing sessions this past week: one I wrote only 626 words, then the second was a last-ditch effort to make up my word count, but even that ended with only 1592 words. Within the middle third of the Writers’ Huddle Summer Challenge, I was aiming for five writing sessions at 700 words each, at least. That means I should be writing about 3500 words per week. I managed 2218. This far into the challenge I should have written 12,000 words overall. I have managed 9035 - excluding what I write for this blog - over the course of four weeks. That means I'm 2965 words behind where I feel I should be.

Yesterday started the final third of the challenge; the point where I wanted to be able to write 1000 words per session; five times a week. Anyone want to guess how many words have been written thus far? Give yourself a gold star if you picked zero!
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Yeah, no... don't give anyone any gold stars! This is getting pretty bad!
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by Birdman Inc
I did manage to write SOMETHING though. So.... yay? Gold stars after all? Having nearly 10,000 words by the end of a month is still exciting, right? I mean, that was my whole goal for July's Camp NaNo. Plus, it's still 9000 words more than I had before. It got me something to post here last week. It allowed me to finish up my Camp NaNo project. It made sure I didn't completely slack off after a writing fury. Also, writing 2200 words this past week can be mildly impressive when taking into consideration that I was focused on organizing with my mom all last week.

So, yeah, I didn't get as much writing as I would have liked, but I did accomplish this:

I mean, I accomplished a LOT this past week. It just wasn't really in the writing department.

Still, as I keep saying, considering the limited time I had this week, I'm still increasingly impressed at the amount of writing I did do. Especially since I also had a party to attend right after work on Saturday, and Friday, when I meant to catch up on writing, I ended up passing out on the couch instead.

Ya know what? Give me that gold star after all! I could have dropped writing completely this week, and instead I put in the effort of writing at least SOMETHING.

OK, that may have been a bit much, but... eh.... encourage good behavior, I guess.

My short-blip of a writing session I managed on Friday before I passed out isn't really much to read, but it's writing practice. It's not supposed to be my magnum opus. It's mostly stream-of-consciousness and inspired by the agonizingly boring Thursday evening I had, followed by an equally mind-numbing Friday; probably why I passed out in the first place.

So, if you want a quick read about my thoughts on days seeming unbearably long, you can check it out below.
"Time Must Be A Toddler"
On DeviantArt            On FictionPress

As for my last-ditch writing session? Well, it was Sunday, I needed to check in with Writers' Huddle, and I didn't even have 700 words under my belt. I needed to try to get something else down on paper.

I had finished the Devon/Trish story aside from editing. Granted, once I get the fight scene figured out I'll probably add words there, but at the stage I currently am I know I'd be subtracting words; not adding them. Plus, Mouse is in a writing flow and didn't want to disrupt it by stopping to edit her July project. I can't fault her that. So we pushed back our writing exchange. Helps me too, because I can now focus the last two weeks on prepping for Quarthix's wedding as well as going full-throttle on this writing challenge. This does mean, though, that I'll have to back down from my original promise to have the edited Devon/Trish story up by the end of the month. Unrealistic thoughts, that.

However, I'm not doing another writing challenge next month. So, by the end of SEPTEMBER I will have it up. Poke me relentlessly if I delay again.

Anyway, my point is that I didn't have any more writing to add to the Devon/Trish story right now. I'm still largely inspired to work on my fan-novelization of Varekai, but I want to save it for my NaNo this year, and I already "cheated" a bit by writing one of the chapters. I have to resist writing more before November. I need to spend my time writing notes on what I want the narrative to be. THAT is what I can do before November, but no more chapter attempts. No "cheating."

So that's two projects I'm interested in, but I'm trying to avoid right now. The next big project I want to try to work on is the "Hey, Arnold!" fan-script for "The Jungle Movie" before the actual one premiers on Nickelodeon in November. The problem there is that I don't really remember what ChibiSunnie and I have thus far, which means I have to take the time to read through it first. I didn't have time to do that and still get my writing in. What other writing project could I work on?

With the excitement of TJM, I've actually been feeling What Is Truly Meant To Be again. The problem there is that it's been so long since I've touched that story that I would desperately need my notes to remember where I was headed next, and they're buried somewhere under all the other notes I've made for more recent stories.

Perhaps I could finally get to my Miraculous fanfic. Problem with THAT, though, is that it's been a few weeks since I last saw the show, which means not having the characters predominantly in my head anymore. It also means that all of the "reveal moments" I thought up while watching the show are overpowered by all the "reveal moments" I've seen in fancomics or read in fanfiction. A lot of them are really good, and I kind of want to incorporate a lot of elements from each of them. However, there's a lot of elements that I also wasn't the biggest fan of; giving me the challenge of "I can do better."

Being so determined to get it "juuuuust right" means planning. Planning means time. I didn't have that. I spent an hour trying to get it mapped out in my head, and it ended up with me wasting my writing time doing anything but writing.

No. It was about 10pm on Sunday, I only had 600-some words for the week, and I didn't have time to search for notes or reread anything or rewatch any shows or plot anything out. I needed to write. Now!

I went back to "A Writer's Book of Days." I'd write three writing prompts if I needed to! Except I wasn't inspired. I already struggled for a day to work on "The Longest Day" which is why I missed writing anything after work on Thursday. I saw the next prompt was "Write about a shade tree" and nothing came to me. Nothing. No inspiration in the slightest. I didn't have time for this! I needed to write!

I racked my brain. I needed my Muse to talk to me, and quickly. There must be SOME story I wanted to tell that didn't need prep-work. There must be SOME tale that I didn't need to wait on. There must be SOME inspiration waiting for me to find it.

And there was.

Jolene! Glorious, beautiful, broken Jolene! I haven't touched her story since, what, January? Mostly because I couldn't handle the heartache of writing more of her story. But now was the time. I needed her. I had her story planned out. I knew what needed to be written for the next chapter. I had her in my head a lot lately due to some of the music I've been listening to the past few weeks. I missed her. Now was the time.

And I wrote.

I wrote nearly 1600 words before Hubby knocked on our bedroom door. It was midnight, and we should be going to bed. Mildly defeated that I only wrote about a third of the words I wanted to this past week, I submitted and put the laptop away.

Still, I'm back on track with Jolene. The next time I need to write and inspiration alludes me I will again turn to her. In fact, until I can think of something worth writing about a "shade tree," Jolene will probably be my focus for the last two weeks of this challenge.

Slowly but surely, I will have all my WIPs completed.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Fall Into the World of Varekai

I wrote more words last week than I have the previous two weeks of the Writers’ Huddle Summer Writing Challenge. However, I have also increased my weekly goal from 2500 to 3500, so even with more words last week I still ended up missing my writing goal.

I wanted to increase my challenge during the over-all six weeks, but I may have broken too soon. As a reminder, I was trying to write at least 500 words per day for five days a week. This would result in a weekly word goal of 2500 words. However, after two weeks of the challenge, I just barely squeaked out the 2500 the first week, and I was one writing session behind the second week. In both cases I also neglected to write for five days out of the week.

Yet my self-challenge dictated that last week was time to push harder: 700 words per day for five days a week; totaling in 3500 words. Since I hadn't mastered five days a week, or even at least 500 words per day, adding another 200 words per session, 1000 over all, didn't work out well.

It's like Life knows I have this challenge set in front of me, and purposely hands me other things I must do so that my writing time vaporizes. I really need to get back into tracking my hourly time spent so I know what trials pop up and prevent me from writing.

I'm sure they're not valid distractions.

This week would be the week of valid distractions. My mother came to visit in order to help me re-arrange and organize my apartment before I snap and just burn the thing to the ground. Well, in truth, it isn't so much a "visit" as it's a promotion for her organizational business; a work in trade. She does what she does, organizing wise, and I help her figure out how to promote herself on social media. Since we're talking about her new-found career, I can't treat this as a social visit. She has a job to do, and I have a great need for that job. No messing around. Only small breaks - mostly for eating - during her work day. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like her work day ever ends.

I had to really put my foot down to have this time to blog. Much like my paying job, I WILL NOT miss this blog update if I can help it. I might have to do the same thing with an hour of writing each day to make sure I don't fall further behind. Thankfully, my mother is super supportive of my writing, usually resulting in her yelling at me for not making it a career yet, so she was fine with the delayed start. Mom used my blog-time to exercise and other such morning routines, so it worked out. Still, I don't want to waste anyone's time by stealing more than a couple hours to write per day, and I feel I've already done that with this post.

We'll see if I make enough progress throughout the day that she'll allot me more time for writing without me feeling guilty about it.

As it is, I managed to sneak in time on Sunday to write. It wasn't enough to catch up on my over-all weekly word count, but it was enough to satisfy my daily goal of at least 700 words. Plus, it wasn't a Zero Day, so there's that. I just didn't want to take up any more time to play catch-up, especially after killing a couple hours when Cyhyr and Ronoxym dropped Hubby off after a day outing together. They stuck around so I could get some socializing in as well; especially with their baby girl.

Whoops. Sorry, Mom.
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by Funnyeve.com
Anyway, back to my Sunday writing. I know I should have waited for NaNoWriMo to start, but I figured I'd bend the rules for two reasons: one, to create a teaser to keep my readers and myself excited for this project, and two, because I was inspired and sometimes you can't ignore the Muse poking at you. Especially when said Muse is poking at you to write about another Ancient Greek myth. The added bonus is that I now have something for you fine folks to read, and it also can be another short to add to Ronoxym's Flash Fiction Challenge. Yes, I'm still periodically doing this, although not really actively trying.

The important thing though, is that my Sunday writing also means that I have something for writing group tonight. However, I already explained that the trick is to push myself hard enough to warrant a two-hour break in order to go to the meeting. I may have to miss a week and work extra hard on having something good and edited by the next group on the 29th. With time and dedication, I should have the Trish/Devon story critiqued by Mouse and edited - possibly critiqued again just to be sure - in time for that group. I sure hope I can accomplish this side-goal in order to keep my promise that I'll have it posted for you fine folks to read by the end of the month.

In the meantime, enjoy my teaser for my Varekai fan-novelization.

"Icarus' Descent"

Fun side note, in case anyone was wondering. I have been obsessively listening to the song "Vocea" while writing this post, as well as while writing the above story. It is the song sung during the act "Flight of Icarus" where the acrobat playing Icarus descends from the sky with his wings before doing a performance in an aerial net. As the press release for Varekai likes to describe it: "With agility, deftness and sensitivity, a young man performs astounding dives and contortions in the net that holds him captive."

It's just such a bittersweet, soothing song, and really does set the perfect mood. Feel free to listen to it as well while reading my above short.

To REALLY get the feeling, you can also see the performance, as filmed with the original cast for the DVD:

Now I'm off to see if I can weasel my way to going to actually SEE Varekai in person during November as a NaNo motivational pick-me-up....

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Plotbunnies Bogging Down My Challenge

Well, I won Camp NaNo, and then quickly dive bombed. After writing last week's post I made sure to finish the fight scene before my group meeting. Nearly 1700 words in one sitting. I only needed to write 500 for my challenge. I then wrote nothing. I barely made time to write on Thursday either, not even managing 200 words! At least I made the time to write SOMETHING, so I guess there's that. Then I was away for the weekend, so Friday and Saturday were both a wash. I needed to sit down and play catch-up to finish the week with at least 2500 words of narrative written, even if I didn't write 500 words per sitting or for five days of the week.

I wrote 182 words before I picked my husband up from work. Go me....

Still, in the end I have a completed fight scene and 2016 more words than I started the week with. Not the best, but still better than nothing, right?

As for the fight scene? Ug....

It was rough. Super rough. I HATE fight scenes, have I told you guys this? Well, thankfully, one woman in particular in my writing group has been writing at least one play a year since.... I don't recall.... high school? It's been a while with many projects under her belt, regardless of when she started. She kind of specializes in fight scenes for her plays, so she knows how to get the choreography down. It was rough to hear HOW MUCH I got wrong, but at least now I know where I'm aiming.

We've been chatting off and on throughout the week, and she's given me quite a few other things to think about.

One of the main ones is the realistic nature of Trish trying to do a knife duel with her butterfly. This had me super concerned for DAYS because no matter what other knife I tried to use instead, it just didn't seem to fit. It wasn't "her" knife. Trish unequivocally wields a butterfly knife. Thankfully, Hubby came to the rescue on that one. He used to have a butterfly comb back in his punk-youth, and demonstrated how a five-inch butterfly blade could still be enough to do some damage. Besides, Trish wouldn't want to give Devon a swift death, so having something that could be long enough to pierce his heart or other organs just isn't her style.

Knife flipping for boredom, punk persona, and intimidation? That's Trish's style.
That's when I realized that my real mistake was not having her use her finger work more frequently. She should have flipped the knife at the last second in order to come at Devon at an angle he wasn't preparing for. She should have changed hands frequently so he couldn't keep track of her blade. She should have snapped the knife closed and flipped it back out in a second when Devon's guard was down. She should have smacked his knuckles or his blade away with her handles as she flipped them. She has this knife because it fits her personality so perfectly, and yet I didn't have her utilize it. Yes, it's a small blade, but her skill would have made up for it.

Another reason she NEEDS to have a butterfly: it's small and seemingly nonthreatening even though it's illegal, but that doesn't mean it can't mess you up real quick and prove why it's still dangerous. Ya know, just like her.

Trish: the butterfly knife of the Brotherhood.

Hubby wasn't too thrilled with Devon's knife either. For whatever reason, I always pictured Devon as trying to pull off that James Dean, Rebel Without A Cause, 1950s street punk look. Maybe it was the jeans, tight plain t-shirt, and denim jacket outfit Ronoxym dressed Devon in when he first described his character. Either way, I just pictured Devon having a Stiletto switchblade knife.
Much like Trish and her butterfly knife, this knife, while impractical,
seems to match Devon's character the best.
It's not practical. It's not utilitarian. It would be something a kid on the streets would have in the '50s, but not in the 2000's. Still, there's just something about Devon's character that tells me that he tries, even subconsciously, to emulate that 1950's street punk persona.

The much more practical and realistic knife option though, the one I might go with if Ron gives me the A-OK, is a standard switchblade.
It's simple, sleek, and the same intimidation factor as a stiletto. The main thing, though, is that it's more modern, you can easily attack and quickly hide the blade like a butterfly knife, and it has a slicing blade that can also be used to stab, as opposed to the stiletto which is essentially only designed for deep stabs.

The one that Hubby always pictured, and believes is the most realistic option due to the utilitarian nature of it, is a simple flip-blade knife.
There's still the intimidation in flicking this baby open with a thumb or a flick of a wrist. Yet this one is the most practical to also use to cut non-organic things, such as wires or boxes or cloth. It just seems the most practical for someone who used to live on the streets.

Unfortunately, Ron simply said that Devon had a "pocket knife" which could also just as easily be a Swiss Army knife. I'm patiently waiting for Ron to let me know what knife style he was picturing for Devon. In the meantime, I'm working on the choreography of the fight yet again.
Knives from the Scott Pilgrim comic books
by Bryan Lee O'Malley
(Had to, I'm exasperated and talking about knives...)
At least this time Hubby offered to spar with me to get the choreography down. I don't know why, but I was afraid he'd find me weird asking for him to help me with this. The man is my muse and my rock in all things, but especially in writing. I should have trusted that he'd help me out.

I'm still hoping to have it ready enough to trade with Mouse on the 15th, and fully edited for posting by the end of the month. I'm also hoping that Ron will have a few moments to read through what I have and get back to me about anything he'd like me to change. This story does involve two of his characters: Nyssa, and of course Devon. I want to do them justice.

In the meantime, though, I still have to get Devon and Nyssa to the room where they are going to do battle. It's a slow go with awkward pacing. I'll have a lot of work to do once I get the words down, but I have to focus on that first. Get the words out of my head, then worry about editing.

I was such a procrastinator as a child, and never quite shook it. However the procrastination when I was in school lead to another bad habit of editing as I went. I didn't have time to write a first draft, go through and edit it, and possibly revise it once more. I needed to edit as I wrote so that my first draft was as perfect as it was going to be. Since I consistently did a good enough job that I always got A's, and sometimes 100%, on all of these written projects, the practice stuck. Even in college I almost always turned in my first draft. I just grew accustomed to this bit of myself: the perfect first drafter.

Now that my tastes have improved, and at a much faster rate than my writing has improved, I'm starting to realize my first drafts are far from golden. It's a bit of a bedrock shake. Sure, it's generally not the largest rewrites: usually pacing and removing some repetition. My largest editing pattern is just streamlining what I have on paper so it ends up being about 20% less when I'm done.

Then there's this fight scene, which may be a complete rewrite now that I have my flaws pointed out. I know where to go from there.

Still, it's weird to me that I have to do rewrites and major edits. It started with Please, Let Me Explain, and has become more and more frequent in my longer works. It stings a little bit, but I have to remind myself that it's part of writing. I'm not becoming worse because I have to do rewrites. I'm becoming BETTER. I'm noticing that the first go through my head isn't always the best go. I'm becoming more professional. I'm letting arrogance over my "perfect first drafts" slip away. I'm evolving.

Speaking of, I have another story idea. A couple, actually, but I'll focus on one.

After fifteen years of just remembering this amazing show, I finally managed to track down an affordable copy of Cirque de Soleil's show Varekai; my favorite performance the troupe has done.
I saw it when it aired on Bravo in 2003.
The story of Varekai is a retelling of the Greek myth about Icarus. In Varekai, when Icarus fell from the sky after flying too close to the sun, he didn't actually land in the ocean and drown. Instead, he fell onto the summit of a volcano, into a bamboo forest called Varekai: Romani for "Wherever." There, Icarus falls for one of the inhabitants. He must acclimate himself to this strange new world and it's strange inhabitants while also struggling to save his new love from a tribe of water-people who kidnapped her. Well, actually, it's never stated who they are, they could be lizards since they keep creeping ABOVE the stage, but their costumes look like scale leotards and seaweed wigs, so.... I'm going with water-people?
 So, I really don't know what these creatures are supposed to be. Lizard? Water nymphs? Personified rain pouring onto the volcano summit? Then again, the main character is also a bit perplexing.
This is Icarus' love interest La Promise, or Betrothed. She's sometimes known as The Caterpillar since her love for Icarus causes a metamorphosis that completes after she's whisked away by the above water-people, or whatever they are. She moves and has fins and a crown like she's a fish, or maybe a reptile of some sort. Yet, when she's captured, it's within a giant bird cage where she cries out to Icarus with avian-like chirps and dolphin-like squeals. Still, she's referred to by fans as a caterpillar because of the drastic metamorphosis.
Even the official press release about this character says: "An exotic creature who enraptures Icarus with her sensual beauty. She will be his guiding light and he, in turn, will be the catalyst for her metamorphosis."

It's a mythical bamboo forest at the summit of a volcano during Greek mythology, so.... run with it?

Anyway, my point is that Cirque de Soleil shows are very much like ballets. There is a central theme and story that the director wants to portray, but then that story is only vaguely told through the dance, acts, songs, and costume. The audience is given a little blip of the story with their program, or, in my case, the DVD back cover, and the rest of the story must be interpreted.

This kind of annoys me, which is why I'm not the biggest fan of ballets or operas, due to my not knowing what is being sung. It annoys me a bit with Varekai as well, but the gymnastic skill the performers have, and the hilarious antics of the clowns, makes up for it.

Still, I wish there was a comprehensive play-by-play of the story and how each act fits in that story.

That's when it hit me. I should write that story! It would be a different take on the traditional fanfiction.

It already started forming in my head. It would be told from at least La Promise's and Icarus' points of view, but I may include the other named characters.
Left to Right: The Guide wearing Icarus' wings, La Promise, The Limping Angel, Icarus,
and The Skywatcher
Technically, Icarus, La Promise, The Guide, and The Skywatcher are the only ones listed as named "main cast" in the press releases, but in the description of the act the "cripple" performs - Solo on Crutches - the performer is described as The Limping Angel.

The Guide, as described by the press release, is weathered by the sun of many centuries, and is like a kindly, fragile great-grandfather—a wise old man whose mission is to inspire and bring about change. Personally, my interpretation of the show is that he's a cranky old man who is untrusting of the man who fell from the sky.
The injured Icarus is hurt and scared. His only peace and consolement is La Promise, and yet they keep getting chased away from each other. The Guide doesn't seem to want to bring them together, but he does seem to test Icarus to see if he's worthy of La Promise, eventually marrying the two once both are healed and reborn.
The Skywatcher, again, according to the press release, is described as "a mad scientist and ingenious inventor, collector of the world’s memories and interpreter of signs. This is a man who receives signals, transforms sounds and forewarns of trials and tribulations. He lives perched on the edge of his laboratory-nest." He senses Icarus' coming and gathers the other inhabitants of Varekai to watch the youth's fall. According to the description of another act, the Skywatcher is "always on the lookout for new inventive ways to mess or interfere in the life of the inhabitants of the forest" and seems to favor picking on The Guide.
He doesn't necessarily prevent Icarus and La Promise from getting together, but he seems to have his own trials to make sure this is the right boy.

We don't get much about the Limping Angel, but he seems a sorrowful man crippled by some tragedy. He watches on from the distance in most cases. I imagine he sees himself in Icarus and is maybe warning the boy as to how to overcome the trials of Varekai in order to become strong and worthy of La Promise.

The beauty of this show is the story potential built behind it. For the plot that keeps popping into my head, La Promise would wonder about her metamorphosis and why it hasn't occurred yet. Perhaps it is tied to a prophecy about Icarus, or perhaps it only occurs when she finds her soulmate. Meanwhile, Icarus laments not listening to his father, and becomes cautious and timid after his fall, for fear of injuring himself again, or worse, killing himself with his impulsiveness. The Guide, Skywatcher, and Limping Angel each try to bring Icarus' self confidence back up as he heals. Eventually, Icarus becomes reborn as an inhabitant of Varekai; one of its people now.


Yet I have been telling my other writing friends lately that they need to focus on finishing their existing project and just write notes of their plot bunnies in journals to look back upon later. I need to practice what I preach. So, the Varekai fan-novelization will have to wait, as does my Miraculous Ladybug fanfiction idea(s).

I'm hoping this spark and added assistance will help carry me through the rest of this summer challenge. Keep me excited to write consistently. Then, perhaps the Varekai novelization can be my NaNo story this year.