Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Can I Get a Reboot?

I'm going back to the drawing board. Well, writing board. I'm starting fresh.

I mean this not only in regards of climbing out the the gutter, but also referencing an old story. "Some Like It Flame Broiled" is still in the works - I added a small bit and polished some parts that were really bugging me and Ronoxym - but I've also started prep work for NaNoWriMo.

Ron and Cyhyr popped in on Sunday with their baby girl. Sadly, I was in the middle of running a D&D game still, so we didn't really socialize with them for the fifteen-or-so minutes that they visited. Feeling guilty, I sent them both messages once we were done. Cyhyr and I started chatting and it shifted into writing stuff. We discussed that we both wanted to give NaNo another try this year, and we debated what we wanted to write about. As per Cyhyr's suggestion, I'm shaking the dust off of "The Race for Destiny," and boy does it ever need some shaking!

I understand that it was my first NaNo attempt, and one of the key "rules" is "No Editing"; you just write and post and polish later. My problem is that I PUBLICLY posted, not just shared to the NaNo word-count-bots. This story is so raw and rough, it's a joke. There are typos all over the place, I apparently couldn't stand the thought of combining "in" and "to" to form "into" even though every time I use "in to" I really meant "into." And the characters, even though I had been developing them for YEARS on end, seemed so flat. Their emotions were like teenagers still getting use to their hormones. They're hot. They're cold. They fly off the handle about nothing at all. They're overly trusting with no real bases on why. It's a mess.

So, I'm going back to the drawing board.

I'm using September and October as prep time, starting with really TRULY figuring out my characters. I have the amazing Character Questionnaire up again; the one I used to create Jolene. We'll see what shakes loose about these guys in the process. I already know that I knew what I wanted Natalie to BECOME, but I don't really know much about how she is when she starts the story.

Then there's the over-all plot. It's a hodge-podge of three different main "quests" from video games and anime; all three of which were my favorite entertainment in college. Wonder why I picked them, huh?

The overall story is to gather up jewel fragments in order to make the jewel whole again in order to stop an evil villain from conquering the country, and possibly the world. Add in that Connor is a "half-demon" - not really, but as far as the people in the Sister Isles are concerned; yes - who goes "feral" and only Natalie can calm him back down, and you have "InuYasha."

Connor's main backstory is that his village was burnt and slaughtered by raiders, all because the villain was looking for him, his sister, and his mother. Connor's main goal and drive in life is to seek revenge for the desolation of his home town, and his being orphaned; a normal life forever out of his reach. Then add that the entire layout of the world Connor and Natalie are running around in - as well as the secondary villain Jack of Blades - are literally based on a fictitious Albion, and you have "Fable."

Finally, there's all the "little elements" sprinkled throughout the story. Connor has blonde hair that falls in front of his pointed ears. He wears two blue hoop earrings in each ear. His outfit is white tights and a form-fitting long-sleeve shirt under a green tunic. His main weapons are a one-handed sword and bow. Basically, he's InuYasha/Fable's Hero running around in Link cosplay; minus the hat. Then there's the creation of the country via four sister goddesses - instead of three golden goddesses - and they left a powerful sword behind along with treasures that each symbolize a different power needed for leadership. Anyone could possess these treasures, and have their wish granted if they possess all of them. Last, but not least, the main villain is very obviously Ganondorf. So, yeah, equally heavy-handed on the Legend of Zelda references. Specifically, Twilight Princess art stylings.

There's also a large inconsistency in the way people obtain the treasures from the Sister Goddesses. I have that the Goddesses bless someone of their choosing, and the gem is sort of "fused" with them - like the Triforce in Legend of Zelda - but they can focus on it to have it materialize. For that, I think I was imagining the Heart Crystals from a season of Sailor Moon. Anyway, when the bearer dies, the gem disappears into the ether - presumably, it returns to the Divine Plane where the goddesses reside - until the Goddess that owns the gem blesses another with it. Problem is, Ganondorf is forcefully collecting the gems, and has been for a century. Which is why Natalie has a fragment of one, and they have to do an InuYasha-like search for the other pieces to make the gem whole again. How could Ganondorf forcefully be gathering gemstones that are divinely gifted by goddesses? Wouldn't the goddess just be like "NOPE. Mine now"? So, there must be some sort of loophole or clause that Ganondorf can manipulate to try to gather the gems.

My over-all point is that my first attempt at this story was completely unoriginal, not thought through, and rife with typos, poor grammar, and flat characters.

Here's hoping Take Two goes better. I'll be more intelligent about it, though. I'll wait to publish online until it's at least polished; or completed, whichever comes first.

Of course, while changing gears like this DOES mean that I'll eventually have something non-smutty to read at group, it also means I don't have anything TONIGHT to read, since I've been polishing up "Rensin's Conquest" as well as tweaking/continuing "Some Like It Flame Broiled."

With Shadow's encouragement, I ended up biting the bullet, and sending "Rensin's Conquest" over to Carson from writing group. It kept Carson about four or five passes to really make sure he caught everything, but I had a good set of comments when he was done. Mostly, he caught grammar or structure errors, as well as gave a few word change suggestions, and two or three content questions. I was a bit too vague on Jolene's garb descriptions, apparently. All-in-all, not too bad, and not much changed, so I'm guessing it was good? Carson also reassured me that it was less "smut" and more "nice story with a sex scene in the middle." We both agreed that in its current form, it's more "R-Rated" than "NC-17", but if I cut one little scene out where Jolene first introduces Rensin to.... we'll go with "pleasure".... I'm falling more into the "suggestive scenes" realm and could probably call it rated "PG-13" or "T for Teen" depending on your rating preference.

So, if I'm encouraged enough, I MIGHT attempt to finish reading "Rensin's Conquest" at group, but I think I'll probably just stick with "HEY! I'm prepping for NaNo, anyone want to help me figure things out before November starts?"

The final piece of writing work I did this week was actually beta-read for someone. I believe I mentioned that writing group has a semi-new gentleman about my age, maybe a touch older. We're kind of two peas in that group. We both love sci-fi, modern fantasy, and traditional/high fantasy genres. We're gamers as well. So, his was really the feedback I was looking for whenever I presented something from "Glitches," although figuring out if it's still entertaining to people that normally don't read comics was a nice bonus to reading at group.

Anyway, he sent me his prologue-turned-first-chapter to his fantasy story. Sadly, it kept me over a week to get to it, but I finally did this week. There was a good skeleton there that I wanted to know more about, but that was the bittersweet problem: I wanted to know more! Nearly every sentence I wrote something to the extent of: "expand this" or "tell me more" or "show; don't tell" or "describe this for me..." You get the gist. His story definitely needs MORE added to it, but the skeleton is there. He said that Carson sent him some notes too, so I guess Carson's been a bit of a busy Beta-reader lately. I feel like he's betaed for other people at group too. His office hours must have as much downtime as mine. Either way, the guy who wrote the fantasy story doesn't think he'd be able to polish Chapter 1 in time for group tonight, but I hope he'll have something else to present anyway.

As for my reading challenge, I'm SO CLOSE to being done with "Ready Player One." I have like 100 pages to go, if that. I'll most likely have it done before September, but I just didn't quite finish it for this post. I'm in the final act, though, so there's that. Can I just add real quick that I love that Ernest Cline actually put IN act breaks? There was the prologue, and then "Level One" for the first act, "Level Two" for the second, and obviously "Level Three" for the final act. LOVE THAT! Each "level" also has a quote from a book called "Anorak's Almanac"; basically, the protagonist's equivalence to the Bible.

The story is getting SOOOOOO good. You know it is when I go "I should be writing now" and instead I pick up the book again because I can't get the plot out of my head! I cannot wait to talk about this next week! Be prepared!

In the meantime, can I make a shout out to Ronoxym? Can I yell at him? Because after I posted last week's blog update he messaged me to tell me how much he loved "Ready Player One" and I'm like "YOU KNEW THIS AWESOME BOOK EXISTED AND YOU DIDN'T SUGGEST IT TO ME!?"

*Ahem* Now that I've gotten that out of my system....

My only real irk about this book is that Cline seems to keep forgetting the "calendar" for this story. The protagonist accomplishes something, comments about how he did so on a Thursday. Then comments on how a new friend of his did the same accomplishment every following day for the next four days: Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday. He then says that the Friday a week after he accomplished his goal was "the next day" after the friends completed the goal. But.... that means he totally jumped over Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Ripped me out of the story.

Then he comments about living in an apartment for five months, except we know he moved into the apartment sometime before he graduated in June, and a few paragraphs before the "five months" comment it was stated that it was December 31st. So.... how is it five months between the beginning of June and end of December? Ripped me out again.

He's done this "lost track of time" thing at least five times throughout the book. How did no one else notice this!? Did they just accept it as the narrator can't keep track of time?

Cline also repeats himself a bit much in the start of the book. I must have read how The OASIS is free about three or four times within the first handful of chapters. The reader gets it. It's currently free so any shmuck - including the protagonist - can use it, but billions will be left out in the cold if there were ever a monthly charge put on it. Why Cline (or the narrator; however you want to look at it) felt the need to repeat this so much is beyond me. I couldn't tell if he lost track of what he already said, or if he wasn't sure the readers were quick enough to get the point.

Aside from those "pulled me out of the story" moments, I'm in love with this book. Like I said, be prepared for a discussion next week! In the meantime, I'm back to reworking "The Race for Destiny" - including that god-awful title - possibly polishing and working more on "Some Like It Flame Broiled," and most definitely finishing off "Ready Player One."

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