Sunday, May 19, 2013

Starting up on Flash Fiction and progress in the X-Men RPG

I'm not entirely sure how or why, but according to Blogger's stats graph I received 179 hits yesterday alone! All the days leading up to yesterday, the highest hit count I've ever received was maybe 30. Most days I have 8 hits an hour, tops. Yet, at about 2am yesterday morning I had a mind-boggling 144 hits within the same hour!

I doubt that was all readers. I most likely got bombarded by bots/spyware/whatever. But still..... if you are one of those people that stumbled upon my blog yesterday and came back again today.... I thank you! That was quite a surprise and it made me smile.

Now for a shocker for you guys. I started reading again! Whoot!

It started off with me FINALLY reading Devious.Editor's latest chapter after the thing sat in my inbox for a month!

So, sorry to DE and to all of her readers. She would have had the chapter up a month earlier if I wasn't being so lazy. Anyway, go check out her story/latest chapter.

Beyond beta-reading, I got back in to reading some Rick Riordan! Whoot again!
I was going to finally start up the Heroes of Olympus saga so that Hubby and Devon's player could FINALLY talk about it in front of me. Sadly, I have yet to unpack the library since our move this past winter; resulting in me rummaging through boxes only to find every book in that series except the first one: The Lost Hero.

I did find the first book in the Kane Chronicles saga, however, and so I started reading that last night. I'm enjoying it. I've always been a huge fan of Egyptian mythology, so I'm getting a kick out of the book. Already six chapters in to it. If I wasn't so exhausted I'd probably be further, but alas I ended up falling asleep on the couch with the book on my lap....

So I feel a touch accomplished since - as I have been mentioning frequently as of late - the one thing every author repeats is the importance of daily reading. As an author, you may only write on the weekends, or every other day, or some other non-daily routine. Reading, on the other hand, should be done just about daily. Absorb in as much as you possibly can with this daily reading; even if it's just half-hour a day.

I somehow fell out of this "taking time to read" routine, and I'm attempting to rectify that.

I also signed up for Holly Lisle's online course that I told you about last week: How to Write Flash Fiction That Doesn't Suck.
I'm proud to announce that both DarkAngel1326 and Cyhyr also signed up, and we're doing the course together! YAY! Sadly, I don't know how active either lady shall be. DA is in the home stretch of her college courses and won't have any time to concentrate on anything else until mid-June. Cyhyr still doesn't have reliable internet at home, and so she can only be online when she goes to the library or hangs out at my place.

Thankfully, the course isn't as "intense" as I had feared. I received an email on Tuesday to start off the course. The email had links to the first week's worksheets as well as links to the "classroom" forum threads. I don't know about DA or Cyhyr, but for some reason I can't log in to the forums; so I'm doing this on my own. I'm not getting everything I should be out of this course this way, but it's still better than not doing anything at all. I'll just catch up once the whole "I can't log in" issue is figured out.

I'm also cheating a touch on the "assignment" anyway. I obviously won't state exactly what the exercises and worksheets talk about because it's Holly's course, not mine. I do strongly suggest the course if/when she opens it up again.
Anyway, I will give you the broad strokes so that you know what I'm working on. Plus, maybe it can help you out a little too if you're struggling.

For the first "assignment" we're supposed to come up with a list of desires, such as "financial security" or "a long-term romantic commitment" or "Save a life", etc. We are to also come up with two-word character descriptions: one adjective, one noun. Examples here include "heartbroken boy" or "hungry dragon" or "desperate mother" or "crafty dog", etc. Once you have the lists made up, we're supposed to match the character descriptions to the desire. Next was coming up with a problem that would stop the character from achieving their desire. Things such as "Unknowingly befriending a serial killer" or "Being abducted by aliens" or "Framed in an armed bank robbery", etc. Our top five groupings of character description, desire, and problem became the core elements of the five flash fiction stories we'll write throughout the course. The next two steps were to come up with a "Problem Sentence" - almost like the tagline of a movie - using a dozen or fewer words, and then write the opening of our stories using 150 words or less.

So how did I cheat? Well, the worksheet obviously went in to more depth than I described above. We were supposed to start clean with these ideas and just let them grow and develop. Really let our imaginations go free. Holly is writing flash fiction right along side us for the course and shared two of her stories.

The first one is about a boy who found a dying fairy in the modern world.
The second story is about a dragon who befriended a princess who feeds him her would-be suitors.

I'm cheating because I'm purposely not starting from scratch. Maybe some time in the future when I want to work on original fiction I'll go back through these worksheets and do them as intended. In the meantime I just jumped over all of the opening exercises and went straight to the character description, desire, and problem groupings.

I'm using the course to help me with my current stories; namely, the X-Men RPG and the Gyateara story I was working on for NaNo. So, instead of five completely original and unique flash fiction stories, I will end up with five flash fiction snippets of my characters; much like the scenes I've already been working on for that X-Men anthology.

Instead of the intended 10 two-word character descriptions, and then grabbing the most interesting five I came up with, I decided to come up with 2 two-word descriptions for each of my five characters. Didn't work out too well, I only have Trish, Willow, and Lia as definite characters I'm going to use for the course; still not sure who the last two will be. Even then, only Trish has both character descriptions figured out.

Trish: Psychotic Pyrokinetic & Patient Strategist
Willow: Imaginative Trickster
Lia: Motherly Teenager
Yeah, Willow and Lia's descriptions are so lame. I guess Trish is so much easier to give a description to.

Now that Hubby officially handed over the reins of the one NPC Crystal over to me, I'm debating having her as my fourth character. If so, who would my fifth be? Amara? I already know so much about her, but at the same time I don't have any of her stories written down. Perhaps this would be a great excuse to do so.

My other option is to use this course to figure out Natalie and Connor some more so I can get back to my Gyateara story. In the end I'll be sure to post my flash fiction for you guys to read, so please let me know what you'd prefer.

You know you'll be getting a 500-word story about Trish, another about Willow, and a third about Lia. Question is, who do you want the last two stories to be about? Crystal the 14-yr-old mutant with the ability to turn off other mutants' powers, and is beyond elated that she's going to the Xavier Institute with her pop idol Tyler? Amara the half-elf/half-gypsy disowned by her people who is struggling to find a way to win enough honor to finally be accepted? Connor the half-demon whose family was slaughtered in a bandit raid and was raised by the Heroes Guild, only to discover he alone holds the key to save his country? Natalie the Earthling magically transported to Gyateara who discovers she's some sort of prophesied "goddess" who has the ability to help Connor in his destiny?

Keep in mind, I'm trying to keep Connor and Natalie as a package deal, which means Crystal and Amara are also a package. Choose wisely. This isn't to say I won't go back through and attempt to do two more flash fiction stories with the "unpicked" character couple. I'll just be doing so after I'm done with my original five for the course.

Anyway, while working with the known three of Trish, Lia, and Willow I discovered that Lia is insanely boring! Now, that's not entirely true. Lia is dealing with the normal problems that plague teenagers: heartbreak. It's a problem everyone can relate to, and I already have a scene between her and Hubby's character Ripley that feels compelling. It's just, her "Problem Sentence" seems so boring compared to the other two.

Lia: "A heartbroken teenager struggles choosing between her ex and two others."
The others being the love triangle between her, Ripley, and Lincoln; all while she's still attempting to get over Chayse. See? A bit more compelling when I can use more than a dozen words, right?

Willow: "A playful trickster turns serious to get both answers and revenge."
Answers on why Devon betrayed them. Answers on who blew up the Xavier Institute and why. Answers about who Screw Driver truly is, and how he became a member of the Brotherhood. Answers on who the Challengers of Heaven are. Answers about what happened to Nix, Lucas, Idie, and Brianne - all missing persons from the institute. Finally, revenge on those responsible for the explosion that killed six students. Revenge on those who took Nix and the others. Revenge on Devon for the betrayal. Revenge on Pyro and the Brotherhood for turning Devon against the X-Men. Revenge on Screw Driver for scarring Chayse.

Trish: "A psychotic pyrokinetic attempts to secretly destroy the life of her rival."
She can't out right kill Devon now that he's proven to be a rival for Pyro's time and affection. If she killed Devon in cold blood her plan would completely backfire; causing her to be hated and hunted down by the very man she would kill Devon to be with. Her jealousy of Devon's connection with Pyro drives her homicidal thoughts, but that same desire to have what Devon has keeps her at bay - for fear of forever losing her opportunity. She must now strategize how to get rid of Devon while becoming the favored in Pyro's eyes. Unfortunately for Devon's traveling companion Nys, no one but Devon seems to care what happens to her.

So there you have it, the basics of the flash fiction stories you should be receiving by the conclusion of the course. Which one are you most excited to read about? Does anyone care about poor Lia's story?

In the meantime, Hubby had another mini time skip over on the forum. This time only a month time jump. However, one of the players suggested we start up a new topic thread folder specifically designed as character journals. This way we can let everyone know what our character did over the course of that month. A brilliant idea so we can see the character growth that happened, plus it gives us a springboard for what to do now that the time jump occurred - instead of our normal "duuuuuuuuh, I'm not sure what my character is doing now..."

They've been quite interesting reads. However, they are far from complete.
- So far Tyler has been working on his latest album, which includes a song dedicated to Crystal. It reads like a boy band love letter. It's so cute!
- Crystal has just been fangirl-ing it up; enjoying every waking moment she gets to follow Tyler around like a puppy.
- Lia is trying to get over the break up with Chayse, and is doing so by going full Mama Bear Mode; being overly protective of Tyler, Crystal, and Lincoln - the three youngest/most skiddish new recruits. I even have a scene going with her interacting with Lincoln to see how he's coping with the new disappearances. Eventually, I'll have to also work in more interactions with Ripley to set the ground work for that. Hubby and I already discussed that Lia helped Ripley study for his college finals - which he aced.
- Lincoln's journal is amusing to read as the poor thing completely freaks out over the chaos that has ensued in just the first week that he has lived at the mansion. I'm curious as to how the journal will reflect his interactions with Lia....
- Chayse and Willow each have journals set up, but neither of us have anything written in them yet. Neither of us really know what these two have been doing over that month time skip.

As for Trish? Well, we're still 2yrs back with her, Devon, and Nys. She just finished having the new recruits run the Brotherhood's obstacle course to gauge if they're "Brotherhood Material". Quicksilver - one of the two heads of the organization, the other being Pyro - declares all four recruits - Devon, Nys, Screw Driver, and a lunk named Warbash - passed and are now probationary members. Trish was already a bit upset about that, especially since she didn't see anything special in Devon or Nys. Then Quicksilver slipped Trish a note letting her know that the Brotherhood officially knows that Devon is indeed Pyro's son. Devon still doesn't know this, but Trish is beyond pissed off at this realization. She stormed out and we're all waiting for Hubby to make a move as one of the Brotherhood members before we can do any further interactions.

So that's where I am with all of my writing. Yes, it's still exclusively X-Men related. Yes, I'm still WAY behind in working on my Hey Arnold chapter. Yes, even though the chapter has been scripted out for MONTHS now I'm still uninspired to actually write the darn thing. Yes, I am still working on the introductory chapter(s) of my X-Men anthology, but I am hoping to finish that up soonish.

Don't forget to let me know in the comments which character(s) you want me to use for my final two slots for this course, and/or whose story you're most excited to read when everything is completed.


  1. Replies
    1. How have you not yet realized how wordy I am?

  2. I love how I am still just listed as."Devon's player" even though we did have an extended conversation about my online identity... :P

    1. Eh, I never wrote down how it's spelled. XD But now I know and now I'll use this. ^_^

      BTW... is Devon in the Emo Corner still?