Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Jolene, the Tsundere Hot Mess

I did it again. I focused too much on prep work, and not anything on actual execution. So, yet again, I have nothing to show for this week's writing.

While trying to figure out Jolene's many past loves and paramours, I started up a timeline of her life. I'm still tweaking it, but I think I have it more-or-less figured out. Thing is, I spent so much time creating and altering this timeline, that I didn't get any actual writing done.

That is, aside from another couple of Jolene's journal entries for the sessions I did this past week.

Boy, is she going down a spiral.... She's also increasingly Tsundere. For those who don't know the Japanese loan word, I'm going to swipe from TV Tropes for a simplified definition: "The Japanese term tsundere refers to a character who "runs hot and cold", alternating between two distinct moods: tsuntsun (aloof or irritable) and deredere (lovestruck)." Sometimes, this alternating happens within a sentence of each other. For instance, a mother scared to death about a potentially hurt child. She'll rush up to him, look him over, cry about how worried she was while asking if the child is ok. Once she knows her child is fine, she might smack him across the back of the head for making her worry so much. It's kind of a reverse Tsundere, but that's the basic idea.

And, boy howdy, is Jolene becoming almost destructively Tsundere!

The more that she falls for Rensin, the more terrified she becomes. Both of her emotions, and of the thought that she could lose him. She doesn't have a constructive way of dealing with her feelings, and so chaos spews from her. I guess it's a self-destructive, self-fulfilling prophecy. She is terrified of losing Rensin, and so she'll unintentionally push him away in order to prove that she's been right all along: he'll leave her.

Rensin's even talking about exactly that in his journal: he can't stand the constant fighting, and her tearing him down; not wanting him to be himself. He might have to give her up emotionally.

Oh, Jolene! And the worst part is, I can obviously empathize because she's my character, but Bear has no sympathy at all: "*shrugs* By her own doing. Really can't feel bad for someone that knowingly does it."

She doesn't though! Not really! She believes this is normal behavior. No one taught her how messed up she is! That's why it's such a struggle for her to change. But, since most are seeing her from the outside in, they are judgmental of her; just like in the real world.

True, I wouldn't want any of my friends or family dating someone like Jolene, because I want to protect them from the vortex of chaos that would spew forth, but I wouldn't necessarily judge said chaos-bomb without knowing the facts. I know. This has actually happened in the past year a couple of times....

So... an example of Jolene's Tsundere-ness being misinterpreted; although, it's an understandable misinterpretation due to no one else being in her head....

Jolene went on a solo-quest this week to go pick paralyzing mushrooms for a local business, and while on said quest, nearly got mauled to death by a pair of bears. With a little help of an elf ranger that Jolene hired to come along, she managed to take down both bears essentially by herself. A feat she should have been proud of, and one she probably would have been if her quest was "successful," by her standards.

She volunteered to pick mushrooms - something she knew NOTHING about; couldn't even pick out which mushrooms were the right ones to pick - because she figured it would be a simple way to make some coin. Plus, she had heard rumors that the shop that wanted the mushrooms also does black-market dealings on the side. She wanted to use the mushroom request as a means to "get in good" with the store, and then possibly use that connection to find out about the demon-blood drug ring that the party had been tracking.

Diddly squat. The blacksmith that paid her for the mushrooms had no clue what Jolene was talking about, and was offended at the implication that the store sold more than honest wares. Plus, Jolene now had to share her loot with someone that wasn't with the party. She got no info, and only half the gold she could have brought back to the group. So, killing those bears felt like a waste. They didn't have to die, because the whole quest was a flop.

Had she been able to get information, she'd proudly proclaim to the group how she got the lead, and gloat about taking down the bears. Oh, the highs and lows....

Instead, she hid that she even had an interaction with bears - aside from Mahtab, whom she went to for healing - and didn't mention the quest at all. However, the fear of those two bears attacking her stuck with her, and Rensin - while he took two others with him, and Dunina was the one who nearly died this time - went off to kill a wyvern in order to save a town. A noble quest that ended up being TWO wyverns. Well, Jolene found out about this, and it terrified her.

Rensin was nearly killed THE DAY BEFORE by the main drug runner they were looking for. Instead of resting, he was determined to train and become stronger, so he took on one of the most dangerous quests they came across. One that was a noble quest that seemed perfect for him. He would be able to save/help the most people through this quest, it required strength - his main contribution to the party - he had allies to help him, and his father became famous for taking down a dragon on his own. Surely his spawn Rensin could take on smaller wyverns with a group with him!

Rensin was proud that he took the two wyverns down, and lived to tell the tale; something not many could do. He was proud that he helped save a town. He was also proud of the craftsmanship he put into making Jolene a rapier to help her become stronger in battle; something she constantly whined about.

Does Jolene praise him for helping the village? Does she stand in awe at his bravery and strength in taking down not one, but two wyverns? Does she thank him for putting in the time to make her a gift?

NOPE! Tsundere Jolene just feels the rush of fear from the bear attack, imagines the danger increased tri-fold in regards to two wyverns, remembers the terror she felt as Rensin's breath was slowly leaving him after the drug runner's attack, and she can't handle the fear. She starts shaking as she yells at him for being an idiot. For not resting up to make sure he's fully healed. For going after a dangerous quest where he could have been killed. For seeing his father's tale as an honorable love story - as it was intended - instead of a cautionary tale - as Jolene sees it.

She doesn't see Balthazar slaying a dragon literally single handed - his other arm was bitten off - while on a hunt to prove his worthiness to Rensin's mother as a story of Balthazar's endless love for his intended wife and their son. Instead, Jolene saw it as selfish; trying to bolster his own pride to "prove" himself, instead of doing so by simply being there for the family he loved, and providing for them.

Jolene just doesn't get the Northerners' ways or their strict devotion to their pride. Because of this, she sees these acts of great deeds as selfish, foolhardy, and suicidal. Why risk your life for the sake of pride, when you could live a long, quiet, safe life with the people you love?

So.... she went off on him. She loved the sword he made her, and was instantly overwhelmed by the gesture, but her fear of losing Rensin on that mountain to two wyverns took precedence. She screamed at him and belittled his quest. Even her ignoring his gift wounded him.

Once again, much like when she flirted in front of Rensin in order to try to find info to regain the sentimental trinket stolen from him, she showed her relentless love for Rensin in the most self-destructive way possible. The more she loves him, the more she unintentionally pushes him away. And in the end, when he does finally leave, she still won't realize it was because of her. She'll find him stupid for not understanding her, and consider it "typical": everyone she loves ends up leaving her.

It is entirely her own fault. I do not excuse her of her actions, but it's still a bit of a bummer that I can't even get sympathy from my DM.... Maybe because he's been burned by people like Jolene....

To be fair, though, his quote about her doing it to herself was actually in reference to a curve ball he just threw at me.

I was joking with Mouse that maybe Jolene was being so overly emotional because she was pregnant with Rensin's kid, and no one knows this yet since it's only been about 20 days or so since they slept together. This then led to the realization that Jolene was a prostitute.... for the better part of three years.... and had very frequent income.... which means a WHOLE BUNCH of customers. Especially since she kept moving from town to town to town, I guesstimated around 500 men over the course of her career. Shear volume alone called for Bear to do some rolling. There was just NO way - unless she was sterile or purposely avoided clients while ovulating - that she didn't get pregnant at least once.

I never even took this into consideration when I built her. I just waved the magical "fantasy world" wand that decreed: unless I wanted it in my backstory; pregnancies aren't a thing....

Well... the Dice Have Spoken, and apparently Jolene got pregnant within the first year of prostitution, but miscarried. Got pregnant again the second year, carried it to term, but it died shortly after birth. The third time around, though, she gave birth, and it survived. So..... why doesn't she have this kid? What did she do the two times she carried a child to term? How did she handle the one child dying? How'd she handle the miscarriage?

Her backstory got a hell of a lot more interesting, but these are all questions that I didn't even consider. I now have to figure them out, as well as work the answers into her psyche. As well as figure out why she didn't confess about her motherhood during the great Expelling of Deceit scenes....

And, frankly, given what I know of Jolene's psyche, I really don't see her giving up the second child. I see her attempting to settle down and raise the kid. All she really wants is that unconditional love; a family; a deeper connection. Why give that up? Was it forcefully taken from her? Did she go for the "I want what's best for my child" approach? Also, WHEN were these pregnancies? Because that's about 5 months or so each late-term pregnancy, where she'd be showing, and most likely not getting customers....

I sent Bear my timeline of Jolene's life - minus the pregnancies curve ball - in hopes of him helping me sort this out. We'll see how it goes.

So.... yeah.... that's what I've been doing this week instead of writing my 1000-word story for Ronoxym's challenge....

But, hey, maybe it's still good NaNo prep?

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

All Aboard the Jolene Train!

Yup. Full-on obsession with Jolene. I literally can't focus on any other character right now. I guess it's a good thing that the X-Future boards have been dead since June - more or less - because I don't know if I could even play as any of those girls right now.

Probably doesn't help that I'm playing Jolene multiple times a week now. We have our normal weekly game, and then a "side quest" day of your choosing.

Bear started creating bounty posters - the one for Jolene is awesome! - as well as quest requests that are posted on the "community boards." In-game, these are boards in a central location of any given town so that everyone can see and possibly respond to the quests/bounties. In the real world, these are side-quests posted on the forum Mouse made at the beginning of the month. You choose what quest you want, a good time for everyone is coordinated, and the questing begins!

Jolene had a solo quest that was both a success and complete fail last night, Mahtab had an epically successful solo quest yesterday afternoon, and Rensin, Corlmitz, and Dunina are all doing a quest tomorrow night. It's a fun added element that not many DMs utilize.

Now, again, aside from explaining why I'm obsessed with Jolene, what does any of this have to do with my writing? Well, for one, the more sessions we have, the more journal entries Jolene will write. I still need to write up the one for last night, but with the other game sessions we've had, I added nearly another 1700 words to her journal this past week. I'm probably going to add at least a couple hundred more today once I write up the next journal entry.

I've also done some brainstorming with Shadow. I wanted to find a picture for the now infamous Jacob Highwin; Jolene's first true love. In the process of trying to track down something that both matched the picture in my head, and match the hype I've written about him thus far in-game, I stumbled upon a bunch of other pictures I liked.

Soon I had a collection of pictures of beautiful men drawn in High-Fantasy style. I decided to add them to the roster of Jolene's past loves. I've named Jacob, as well as the other four men who swore to be with her forever, only to dump her. I started matching up pictures with these names, and when I was done, I still had a few extra. So I gave them some backstory connecting them to Jolene as well.

I then passed the pictures over to Shadow, along with complete improv storytelling of each man, his love affair with Jolene, and why it didn't work out. It just flowed from me, and I only felt the need to slightly tweak a couple of elements.

In the end, I had about a dozen named lovers - ignoring the countless nameless clients Jolene had taken up over the years. I also had a small story involving each of them.

I think I have my new NaNo concept for this year. One that can help me stay with Jolene, and maybe get me to the winning 50,000 words this year. I think I'm going to write about Jolene's love affairs. A chapter or two for each beau. As it is, I'm looking at about 4,000 words per love(r). I'm also assuming that Jacob would get either a lengthy chapter or two, given Jolene was in love with him for about seven years.

This will probably turn into a 70,000 word novel once done....

I've even unofficially started NaNo prep for this story already. A little less than a week ago, after I came up with the skeleton of Jolene's past with these men, I decided to get her actual life timeline - as it were - down on paper. Coincidentally, Bear asked for exactly that about an hour after I started.

Anyway, so, I'm still painstakingly working on this timeline, but I am up to four pages; bulleted. I'm essentially going Year by Year with different major factors of any given season listed on the timeline. As of right now, these "main points" include things like her mother's many miscarriages, and when Jolene fell in love with the next man in her life.

I'll have to come up with a better visual aid for her 21-yrs before I post it officially anywhere, because it's a jumbled mess right now. At least I can understand it, though, and that's what matters.

It will be exciting to have something to read at group again once I actually START this project. Last week I ended up reading the first six entries for Jolene's journal; in other words: first four game sessions, more-or-less. As predicted, the group got a bit lost without the context of the game that lead to that entry. However, they did say that there was ENOUGH in the journals to intrigue them; make them wonder what DID happen. They also enjoy Jolene's personality, which is fun.

They'd love for me to turn the journal into a novel. This means I'd have to find a way to add more detail to a journal-entry-based story so people can actually see the story unfold; not just Jolene's reaction to the events. It's a fun concept, but I don't know if I could re-do Jolene's present. It wouldn't be Jolene if she didn't have this battle about her love for Rensin, this sibling-like respect for Corlmitz, distrust of the cleric Mahtab, or struggle to keep the corruption of the Prime Evil Deceit under control. I couldn't write a story about all of that though, without just transcribing an already transcribed game. It wouldn't be original. It wouldn't "count."

However, there IS something that could be said about converting a good game into a novelization for others to read. I feel like this either hasn't been done before, or only done very rarely before. Then again, just about every geek/nerd has had that ONE game or ONE character that was just so epic it is ALWAYS the fall-to story among your friends.

Hubby has that with his elf character Zalic. Even if you weren't part of the game that Zalic was in, he is still infamous within our group. There is another campaign where Shadow consistently rolled so high for a random NPC that the character not only got a name - Mandito Atarme - but he got his own CHURCH dedicated to him. Then there are tales like this comic I recently found, and now proceed to read whenever I need to weep with laughter:
Read the full comic "Fated"
Written by Jasmine Walls, Illustrated by Amy Phillips
My point being, there might actually be a demand for fun games getting narrated for other geeks to consume. I'd obviously get the OK from all the players first, and count them as co-authors since there wouldn't be a story without them.... Heck, this might also be a "thing." I mean, I've been trying to do the same thing with X-Future via Glitches, but this time I really can't make this story original. This D&D game is just too good as-is.

There's action, drama, intrigue, mystery, danger, angst, and humor - although, I do kind of wish the humor would be a bit higher. We're so serious in this game!


Sorry. Obsessing again. I guess that's my cue to wrap this up.

To recap: I have written this past week, about 1700 words, but it's for Jolene's journal, which my writing group wishes I could add more to so it could be a stand-alone story. However, there's a possibility that I might just get permissions from Bear and the group to novel-ize the transcripts of our games instead of trying to come up with an original story for Jolene, since it won't be the same without the people surrounding her. In the meantime, I'm going to focus on Jolene's backstory, and finish working on the timeline of her past. This will help me with my new NaNo concept of writing about Jolene's many love affairs throughout the course of her young life.

Mixed into all of this is my struggle to think of something NOT relating to Jolene that I could write a flash fiction about, in order to keep up with Ronoxym's challenge for me. As it is, I've missed two weeks.

So, in order to not miss any more weeks, I'm bending the rules a little bit again.

I wrote a story from the perspective of one of Jolene's slighted lovers. It's not necessarily Fanfiction, since it doesn't have a well-publicised "source material" such as a novel, movie/TV show, or game. I mean, there IS D&D, but you could just claim that as generic high fantasy. So, skirting around rule 1. Rule 2 is that it cannot relate or continue previous entries, and it does not since none of the other three have anything to do with Jolene. Rule 3 is that I cannot write about a character I've already created, and I didn't create the character of Orick until after I wrote this story. It's another bend of the rules, but it works, right?

Anyway, cheating a bit or no, this story still - more-or-less - has the spirit of the challenge, so I'm counting it.

"Lost Love"

Now, to write Jolene's history, come up with details about these men so I can write about them next month, as well as figure out what to do for my flash fiction this week. Busy, busy, busy!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Jolene Obsessed

I really hate the last quarter of the year. My writing always seems to get away from me at the last quarter of the year.

Sorry about missing last week's post, folks. I guess I owe you two catch-up weeks now.

An old college friend of mine that I haven't seen since graduation was on a week-long getaway with her husband to celebrate their first year anniversary. On their way home, they swung by to visit us. So, that's what I was doing last Tuesday instead of working on this post. I should have done so ahead of time, but Sunday and Monday Night football has been killing me with that.

Anyway, I want to give a shout out to Massachusetts and Boston, as well as Mouse and Bear - whose anniversary was yesterday - Happy One Year, you guys!

Now, as for my writing..... it's both good and bad. My freetime at home seems to be getting smaller and smaller, and so I have to really work on breaking down my time there to try to get more organized. In the meantime, my only time for writing and reading is at work. With Holiday Season creeping up quick, the store has actually been moderately busy, so not terribly too much writing there either.

So, sadly, I have nothing to show for these two weeks. Not to say I haven't written, just not anything that holds well on its own.

I'm still obsessing over Jolene, to be blunt.

A few weeks back Mouse started up a forum for the D&D game Bear runs. It's kind of an unofficial Wikia page for the game and the world it's played in. She's slowly posting about locations, the religions, and legends that the bards would sing about. That way we know more of the world and the stuff our characters should know being raised there.

The big thing, though, are the sections for our characters. Each of us has one with three sub-threads: life goals; profile/backstory; journal.

I posted Jolene's backstory, but it doesn't seem nearly as in-depth as some of the others. Both Mouse and Corlmitz's player have a multi-post thread of their characters' backstories. I have to say, I'm a bit entranced by Corlmitz's writing. Leave it to me to role play with a bunch of writers that are so good I again feel pathetically inferior!

As I said, I didn't really focus much on Jolene's past. I gave the broad strokes: She was a lonely child, trusted/fell in love with the wrong person, did the same thing four more times, gave up on love, became a prostitute, was nearly killed by a client, gave up on humanity and trust, became a thief as a side-business to prostitution, met up with the group. Obviously my backstory post is a bit more detailed than THAT, but it's not multi-chaptered like Corlmitz or Mahtab.

My main focus was that journal section. The big thing with Jolene is that her trust issues prevent her from really speaking her mind and feelings about what has happened each game. The journal section now allows her to do so. Granted, this is all Out-of-Character knowledge for any of the players that may read it, so it won't really help Jolene in the long run, but I'm hoping this helps the other players at least get a better understanding of why Jolene is the way she is. Poor, closed off, misunderstood thing....

So, my main task since Mouse created the forum, has been to reread the entire game log session by session, and write out Jolene's journal reaction to them. No one else seems to be utilizing the Journal threads as much as I am, but it really helps me get into Jolene's head. It's kind of moot since any grand discoveries I have with her on past sessions can't translate INTO the sessions that have already past, but it helps me build up to the next one. And from now on I can update the journal right after sessions to keep her emotions fresh.

I like watching her feelings for Rensin grow, and with them, her denial that they're real; her need to rebuke her attachment, and her desire to cut him off. I also knew that Mahtab annoyed her, but I didn't realize to what degree she actually DISTRUSTED the cleric. Poor Mouse. It's okay, I the player understands Mahtab! Jolene just isn't a trusting person.....

Which brings me to the biggest surprise of them all when I was journaling. The person Jolene trusts the most out of the whole group - including Rensin - is Corlmitz. There's a connection there that she can't quite figure out. It would be fun if she was emotionally torn between the two men, but it's not even that. There's no attraction there - sorry, Half-Orc... she's a bit shallow... - but respect. She kind of thinks of Corlmitz as an older brother she'd hate to disappoint. So she hates herself for doing exactly that. Especially since it seems to be him that rescues her all the time; speaks up for her all the time.

Well, as I said, it might not be something that I can share with you guys - without the context of the game play, I don't know if any of her journaling would make sense and/or be enjoyable to read. Still, I wrote over 3400 words the first week the forum was up, and this past week I wrote a little over 3200 more. It's something, but I don't know if it's really helping anything.

I haven't been working on Ronoxym's weekly flash-fiction challenge because I can't think of anything aside from Jolene. The best I had was an 800-word start to a psuedo-backstory tale for Jolene. An explanation as to why telling the truth is so hard for her; namely, because she thinks she IS telling the truth when she tells the lies she believes or when she tells half-truths. She doesn't know HOW to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. The snaffu - aside from breaking the "no fanfiction" rule for the challenge - is that the concept of the story is Deceit, one of the Prime Evils, is telling the story of how he's "raised" Jolene since conception. However, the story is told by Deceit, so naturally the reader is going to go into it taking the story with a grain of salt; never trusting that what Deceit is telling them is true.

I thought of flipping the script and having the Virtue of Wisdom telling the story instead, but the joy of Jolene's slip into deception and living on lies would have to be reworked. I'm still not sure what to do with this tale, but at least it's more words....

All the word count; none of the content to show. I don't even know what to read at group tonight. Plus, I'm not prepping at all for NaNo. I may have to shelve the Gyateara story rework until next year and just figure out how to write a Jolene story next month. Especially if I'm so obsessed with her.

I don't even really know anymore. I'm hoping to get some clarity this week so I know what the heck I'm doing next month!