Monday, September 30, 2013

World-Building... in Space

For this update on my world-building activities, I will be detailing some aspects of the world of New Fiction Idea #17 (not Macbay Transportation Services this time).


Tevyne is the home planet of Liutas. Our lion-man is of the planet's dominant species. Due to the general environment, most groups are nomadic. There is a long history of warring tribes/clans, and the society is collective and honour-based. By the advent of the Human Empire (which, incidentally, branched off from Earth's "lost" colony and doesn't actually involve Earth), most of the planet's technological level was similar to ours today. By now they've caught up to the rest of the Empire and usually work with the military (although only if they're accepted with the rest of their family or friend group).


Salynas is the home planet of Kaliause. It is mainly water, with most land masses being archipelagos. As a result, many different genotypes, cultures, and languages are isolated; they adopted English as a planetary language because the Human Empire found them before any native language spread significantly. Around Kaliause's part of town, the culture is individualist, although family units are a very close second in importance culturally. The language is primarily based on a musical scale, but different vocalisations with the same "tune" have started to come up, especially in slang. They were at about medieval-era technology before the Empire found them, and they've (some archipelagos more than others, mind you) pretty much caught up with the high technology of the time.


Domus is the home planet of Stannum. First colonised by humans, it has been terraformed and contains a mostly human population, although some smaller, "uninhabitable" areas have been taken up by other intelligent species, and some species more physiologically compatible with Earth conditions live in the cities. As such, it's very similar to Earth of the same time period, plus the extra diversity. Stannum was once an average businessman with a small household he didn't particularly like, but he died of heart-related issues. As is common in highly-populated areas in the same galaxy as Valka, his body was kidnapped and "reclaimed" to work endlessly in the haunted graves.


Valka is the main setting of the story. It's been war-torn for some time due to outsiders trying to secure its natural resources (by blowing a lot of it up, but let's not question the ones with the guns...). Even before battles started breaking out, it wasn't a particularly pleasant place. Some sale of resources has led to a very corrupted upper class and government, and its cities are nearly entirely underbelly. Its original dominant species was pterodactyl-like, but it hosts a large diversity now.

This is a very vague summary, but let me know if there's anything in particular you'd like to hear. I'm still in the process of fleshing these places out a bit, so I'll be glad for an appropriate challenge.

Saturday, September 28, 2013


I have a soft spot for crossover stories. Of course, a lot of this is because of the fan fiction series that I loved writing even if I cringe to actually read it, but the appeal goes farther than that. It even goes farther than the general concept of throwing beloved characters from a generally bright and sunshiny series into various death traps and other trauma.

Really, all writing is crossover writing. I don't mean we're all really fan fiction writers (although an argument could probably be made for that), but we're too far along in time for any work to be wholly its own thing. Brutal is a crossover between Hetalia and The Hunger Games; The Long and Winding Road is a crossover between Hetalia and the zombie apocalypse; the story of Max in prison is a crossover between Macbay Transportation Services and a writing prompt; Portalmancy is a crossover between the ideas of a more literal photogate and the power to telepathically switch door hinges.

Whether it be an entire pre-made universe (such as the real world, if not a published story), a system of magic, a character trait, or or a time period, everything in a story is from somewhere else. The only real creation is crossing things over, finding a complex combination that hasn't quite been laid out in words (or pictures, or maybe notes) before.

That's my take on it, at least. What do you think?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Dream Journal #15

I had gone so long without remembering a whole dream that I scribbled this down in the dark before I fell back asleep.

11 Sept12 Sept

I was at some sort of band camp, sitting in an auditorium-type area with a planetarium feel to it. Everything was a bit dark and bluish. Becky* and I had done some kind of musical performance, culminating in playing a video game together that was something like a dating sim. Now I was sitting next to her, among many others at the camp.

Dr. F** was presenting something to us, resting his hands on a cheap, one-legged podium. He concluded his little speech by grinning and informing us he was a dork about it before zombies became "a thing." He then readied his flute and played a few halting bars of a song before awkwardly trailing off. Telling us he was trying to play a certain song (which I can only remember ended with the word "Power"), he chuckled and lowered the flute. I didn't know the song, but I recognised that it was some sort of classic hard rock song. Since I had a huge book of hard rock sheet music, I volunteered to go get it. Dr. F was pleased and waved we me out to find it.

I had walked to a far room full of bunk beds before I realised my sheet music was in my locker, along with my oboe and a spare pair of jeans. I turned to leave the room, but a Hispanic mother was in the way, sitting in a chair that blocked the space between beds as she helped her daughter get her bedding set up on the top bunk. They kept chattering in Spanish, and I tried to catch the mother's attention so she would get out of my way, but she didn't look at me. I contemplated climbing up and over one of the unoccupied beds, but there were little, dead bugs all over the mattress covers, and, even though the bunk bed I had been eyeing had a little metal ladder extending over the top of the upper mattress, I didn't want to risk it. Suddenly the daughter asked her mother something in English pertaining to the move-in, and she answered. Turning to me, the mother said she asked her child to ask questions in English because I was there.

Somehow I escaped those two, but I wasn't out of the bunk bed room before I ran into a familiar-looking girl with straight, shoulder-length blonde hair. I told her I thought I knew her, but I couldn't think of how. She shook my hand and reintroduced herself as Allie (her real name being Alpha). Recognition finally dawned on my face, but she continued to tell me we had been to the same church camp since before my congregation moved to a different campsite.

I said goodbye and hurried back to the locker room. The floors were black like lab tables, and the lockers were cubby holes with swinging wooden doors. The door to mine had been closed while I was gone, and I started to panic because I didn't know the combination. When I pulled at the handle-less door, though, it swung right open. Finally I saw my things and started to pull out the book of sheet music. Apparently the cubby was at some sort of slope, because everything kept trying to slide out onto me. Eventually I managed to get out the hard rock music book, along with my Journey sheet music book and an extremely thin volume of Schoolhouse Rock! sheet music.

Closing my locker, I backed up, arranged the books in my arms, and started back towards the hallway. Before I was out of the room, one of the band kids, a rather large male who had been standing casually by a wall perpendicular to me, puffed out his chest so that he thumped into my side. This threw me off a little, but I kept walking because I was sure he was just joking around despite the frown on his face. I gave up that theory when he and a male friend, who had been a bit behind me, shoved me hard in the back. I stumbled but managed to hurry out of the room.

* Becky is a family friend/mother of my long-time best friend. I think I've seen her play a keyboard, so maybe we did a duet with that?
**Dr. F (he often goes by that because very few people can spell his last name) is my physics teacher. He tries way too hard to be funny, but he still is funny sometimes. He was quite in-character here, although I have no idea why my subconscious decided he plays flute.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Fragments IV

(I, II, and III found here)

  • A fan fiction for The Kill Order concerning the pair near the beginning with the boat
  • Someone with the ability to remember/know things the moment someone else forgets them
  • Hetalia-style personification of religions (although maybe with a higher proportion of serious scenes)
  • Personifications of languages
  • Some novel in a Douglas Adams type of voice (if I should prove to be so capable)
  • An addictive pill that utilises stress hormones for weight loss purposes
  • A glove with a watch embedded in the palm
  • A world where fs = μsFs
  • The secret lives of instruments left in the band room between rehearsals
  • Fantasy with a romantic element, where the heroine chooses the ordinary human over the magical/whatever love interest
  • A fantasy with an African setting

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Updates Left, Right, and Centre

Is my update pace reasonable?

Most mini-guides I've seen in articles recommend updating at least once a week. That's certainly too slow for meeven when I wait three days for an update, readership drops dramatically.

That being said, I'd hate to feel like I'm pummelling you all with my ideas. I realise you have things to do other than read my ramblings, so let me know if you want me to cut the pace to, say, every other day by default (and, as always, a bit longer if the latest post receives no comments).

Or, if you don't mind either way, let me know that. Are the updates at good times of day? I always schedule them, so I can post anytime. I'm not going to try posting twice a day or anything, but I'll keep up a post-a-day pace if you'd like me to do so.

Friday, September 20, 2013

O Thou Font of Every Blessing

While it seems most published stories need to meet certain font requirements, especially in digital publishing, I can't help but search for exactly the font in which I would like to read and write my stories.

A lot of my writing is done in 12-pt Verdana because that's what the FanFiction.Net Document Editor uses. That, of course, only applies to my fan fictions (although it should be noted that that's how I get to see the first and second drafts of The Long and Winding Road). I also use the plain horizontal lines for section breaks.

Along the Winding Road, however, currently appears in 13-pt Bell MT. I'm not sure exactly what about it seems just right for the story—as is the case for most of my fonts—but I do like the number styling in the chapter number-titles (which appear in centred 25-pt). Section breaks are currently formatted with a centred "~*~".

Mayflies is in 11-pt Georgia. This seems like a rather average font, but maybe I'd just like some tinge of normalcy in a story about ancient Mayan bird men and their sorcerer friend. Chapter headings are currently left-aligned, 12-pt, bolded letters (a "J" if Jonathan narrates, or an "M" if Matthew narrates).

Piracy Cruise Lines requires some pretty huge margins for some reason. Text is in 15-pt Garamond. Section breaks have yet to appear, but chapter number-titles are right-aligned, 18-pt, and formatted "---1---."

Dreadful Valley (my NaNoWriMo novel) was written in 12-pt Andalus, with section breaks formatted as plain horizontal lines. There were no chapter titles. I may have just needed a font that worked whether I was writing with my computer in Mac or Windows mode, although I still wouldn't put up with anything too typical, it seems.

Figments is in 12-pt Constantia with right-aligned chapter number-titles at the top of the page.

Chasers appears in 12-pt Candara. Section breaks (modelled somewhat after the Pac-Man dots) are a centred arrangement of three ""s. No chapter titles appear.

This blog (when it behaves) is in 12-px Copse, with the title "Novelling with Journey" in 60-px Consolas.

What kind of fonts do you like to us? Do they influence your writing at all?

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Prompt Writing #2

This is the first official instalment, but my earlier prompt writing exercise will function as Prompt Writing #1.

Prompt: [Forward Motion Writers generator]

After a sham trial, your character has been thrown in prison, no chance of parole, less of a chance of survival. It's only a matter of time before an attempt is made on their life. They have to escape and soon. The question is, how?

Randomly Selected Story and Character: Macbay Transportation Services, Max Webb


That Macbay.

That demon Macbay.

Max could have easily scribbled such thoughts all over the walls of his cell if he'd had a pen. That could have upset the other residents, though, and they seemed upset enough. A man with military tattoos stretched across military muscles sat on his bunk sending death glares through the door of bars. An older man quarreled with a young redheaded woman who already bore a black eye. The rest seemed to think that the plump man with no more than the politically necessary amount of army service was worthy of their attention.

Max wondered briefly if any of them were the magic users he had been so eager to push into the army. Although, after the harsh ridicule he had gotten for even believing in such powers, he may have had more to fear if they didn't. Revenge for unfinished deeds, even delivered by these characters, was nothing compared to being shipped to a madhouse. At least here he could die quickly, of a broken neck or some such thing.

Although if that demon Macbay got him killed here, Max would still not be particularly happy. He would only be particularly dead, and that would hardly be good for anyone. Who could be a better and more effective Manager of Conscription? His sons were far too young, and his nearest brown-nosing underling was far too pathetic. The Empire needed him alive, and in a position of power that only he could wield effectively. 

Of course, even if he made it out of here, there was no guarantee of his restoration. The newspapers already screamed lies of embezzlement, much more than he had ever taken for the magic-user project, and that devil truck driver was undoubtedly frolicking about the mainland scot-free and spreading worse. He'd have to charade as someone else to get his position back—although that would hardly be an issue if he were capable of it. As long as he was back in power, where he deserved to be—where his Empire needed him.

"Yer the crazy conscripter, ain't ye?"

Leaping off the mildewed floor, Max adjusted his hat and composed himself before meeting the speaker's gaze. A wiry man with skin stretched over his muscles like extremely shrunken clothing, he stooped over to view Max and squinted to do a better job of it.

"I," Max began, lifting his chin, "am the Manager of Conscription for The Empire. Undue rumours have been spread about me, and so I must bide my time here until sense returns to the men of justice."

The inquirer stood straight as he laughed. "Yeh, an' I'll bide my time 'til they see me wife jump back ta life."

Max frowned, although in a quite civilized way, as the wiry man wore himself out laughing and retired to another corner of the room, shaking his head.

More jeers than punches hit Max as the days passed, but the grimy, unidentifiable food alone would have been enough to wear him down. Between the derisions, scuffles, and general atmosphere, Max was starting to truly lose hope. If the men of justice could fix their eyes so firmly away from this place, if his entire case was naught but yellowed news to them now, how could they redeem him?

How could anyone? He had already broken ribs, cheekbones, and pride, and it was only a matter of time before things got really dire. If it weren't for new hoodlums coming in, his cellmates would be nearing extinction. He was only a politician, with no real crime to his name, but, among so many true villains, that was more of a disability than a virtue. He doubted he would last long enough for anyone to see the truth and purpose in his actions and come to free him.

Wrapping his fingers around the only decently clean thing in the cell, Max was looking over the dark blotches on the door when it suddenly rattled in his grip. Quickly he withdrew his hands, but this only served to amuse the culprit on the other side of the bar.

"You awake there, crazy old man?"

Max's limbs stiffened to the point of paralysis as he turned his eyes upon the outsider. Baring his disgusting, crooked-toothed grin, Macbay stuffed his hands in his back pockets and leaned in to get a better look of Max's bedraggled face.

"Taking good care of yourself, I see," the trucker commented, straightening back up.

Frowning sharply, Max opened his mouth to make reply but could not determine which insult to throw first.

"I've been doing fine, too; thanks for asking," Macbay continued, thumbing the front of his hat upwards, although it didn't improve his fringe-obstructed view much. "Still at my old business. Just got a big job the other day. This lady by the name of Viola asked me to deliver a special package for her."

At his wife's name, Max's enraged thoughts stuttered to a bewildered stop.

Macbay grinned widely as he fingered the bars that would so easily bend for him if he put his mind to it.

"Think I ought to take the order?" he finished.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

New Fiction Idea #35

A combination of the (never posted) Fragments "an alternate sci-fi interpretation of the word "photogate" (still taking "photo" to mean light)" and "someone with the ability to control doors (limited to locking/unlocking and switching hinges so that a pull door becomes a push door or vice versa)." Still needs a lot of work.

Working Title: Portalmancy

Genre: Fantasy/Steampunk

Protagonist: Daniel Jacobson, a 16-year-old with hazel eyes and dark brown hair that's a bit shaggy and covers his ears. Although he was raised in a fairly rich family, he considers it more of a handicap than a blessing as he wants to make a name for himself through something he accomplishes rather than inherits. He's serious but has a dry sense of humour, and he's a bit of a nerd.

Other Main Characters: Elizabeth, Daniel's smiley, 17-year-old sister. She's on her way to becoming a proper lady, but she's extremely curious about portalmancy and protective of her brother.
Hannah ("Hannes"), a 16-year-old disguising herself as a male to join the portalmancers. Her blonde hair is cut short, and her frame isn't large, but she's physically quite strong. She's a bit paranoid about her disguise failing, but she's naturally rather talkative and usually bears a wry smile.

Antagonist: The soldiers and portalmancers of enemy nations, as well as fellow soldiers-in-training who look down on Daniel and/or suspect Hannes's real identity.

Setting: The steampunk world of portalmancers, mid-war. Magic is like physical prowess: everyone has a bit, it takes training to go anywhere (and portalmancy is a strictly-guarded secret outside of the military), and different people have different knacks. All magic is based on doors, with a door being any framed structure capable of opening and closing without being damaged (so it includes sash windows and such). There is, of course, classic doorway magic, where the door opens into a completely difference place (and occassionally time if something goes wrong). There are also photogates, doors that open to an image of another place; their frames go undetected by those on the other side, but if anything blocks even a part of the doorway, the image disappears. People can walk through other doors to don perfect disguises or armour, or do quite a few other things.

Plot: Starting his training at 16 to go into the fields at 18, Daniel struggles to master portalmancy when his only talent seems to be switching door hinges. Hannes struggles to maintain her disguise, although her training is going well. The army struggles with the other nations involved, and to keep portalmancy secret as traitors attempt to leak techniques to the enemy and the more oppressed parts of the nation. Et cetera.

Point of View: Third-person, limited to Daniel.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Lee's Island, Part 1

This, my dear readers, is the beginning of the first fan fiction I ever wrote. Turn back while yet ye may, unless you really have the urge to be horrified.

Based on Naruto, Lee's Island was written entirely in Notepad and saved on disc. This was written while I was still watching the first series or so of Naruto and is not particularly accurate to the source material. I am not sure what age I was when I wrote this, but it was long before I had any idea I needed to give quotes their own paragraphs (I have been merciful and edited them to at least be readable).

Enjoy, should you find yourself brave enough to witness this madness.

The high waves were gently rolling, but it didn't seem that way to Rock Lee. It seemed as if there was a great storm, causing the waves to crash violently. I guess that's what it feels like when you are trapped inside one of them.
After a harsh hour on the seas, he felt himself fall down onto hard rocks. If there wasn't a huge net of kelp around his head, his skull would have cracked open. All he could taste was sea grime and sand. That and all of the things that used to be in his stomach. He felt like he was about to die. Then he heard a strange noise that seemed to come from the bushes. He looked and saw something that made him open his eyes wide.
It was a leopard, its blood-colored eyes staring at the boy with a vengeant look. As hard as Lee tried, he couldn't get up. The leopard started to run towards him. With all of his effort he tried to get up. Just as the leopard almost got to him, he finally jumped up and sprinted as far as his legs would take him.
The leopard quickly changed direction, which could only be bad news for Lee. He kept running to who knows where while the big cat gained on him. He spotted a patch of trees and ran for it, hoping to lose the leopard inside. He started to slow, his legs tiring. He only had one choice. He stopped for a split second and flipped up his leg warmers. He removed the weights inside as fast as he could. He ran off again, much faster than the first time. The leopard froze, seeming confused. It stopped and ran off in another direction. Lee panted heavily, happy at another victory. Then he heard someone scream. Lee grabbed his weights, strapped them back on and ran towards the sound.
 The leopard was after someone else. He strained to see who it was, and gasped. Running from the deadly leopard was Sakura Haruno, a girl he was afraid he would never see again. He ran as fast as he could. She probably didn't notice him, as she was running for her life from the cat. She would normally attack with her kunai, but her kunai pack was not on her. So it was up to Rock Lee to save her.
He had almost caught up with the leopard when Sakura headed for the same trees that he had been to earlier. Then he knew what she would do. But he followed anyway, in case her jutsu were to fail. Sakura climbed up one of the trees and made three hand symbols. "Clone Jutsu!" she yelled. Instantly, three more Sakuras appeared. All four jumped down from the tree and ran towards the leopard. Lee watched silently as the big cat took a beating and ran away. All of the clones fused to make one Sakura. She was leaning on her knees panting. Sakura looked up and saw the boy. "Lee? You're here, too?"         
    "Uh-huh. How did you get here?"
    "I was on my mission. We were on our way to the Sand Village when we were ambushed by some really strong Jonin that sent us into the water. Next thing I know, I'm in this weird place and some freaky leopard tries to kill me. How about you?"
    "I am not really sure."
    "Well, if anyone else on your team shows up, they could probably tell us." 
    "Where are we anyway?" They looked around. "It looks like an island to me. We should probably find enough food to last us until we can figure out a way to get out of here," Sakura said. "I think I see someone!" Lee said. And when Sakura looked, she also saw it. It was a figure of a person, but neither Lee nor Sakura knew who it was. "I will see who it is." Lee said. He ran, fast as lightning, to the figure. When he got there, he saw a girl, about his age. She appeared to be a ninja, mostly because of the kunai pack on her leg. Lee picked her up and ran her over to Sakura. 
    "Well, what do you know? It is one of your teammates!" 
TenTen woke up. "Lee? Is that you?" she asked, mumbling her words.
    "Well, it's good to see a familiar face. Where are we?"
    "I am not sure. I think we are on an island."
    "Is that Sakura with you?" She said, slowly sitting up.
    "Oh, man, I bet my scrolls are all wet." TenTen opened a pack on one of her legs and took out two thouroughly soaked scrolls. "Darn it! And that's my main jutsu." "Wow. Your main jutsu was ruined? Yikes!" Sakura said. "I'd hate for that to happen to me."
    "You said it."
    "Hey, TenTen, what happened, anyway? I do not really remember."
    "Hmm, oh, yeah. We were on a mission at the shore of the Waterfall Village. It was a brutal battle against about five Jonin. We eventually got pushed into the water, but it was only knee-deep and we kept fighting. Neji had just finished off one of the Jonin, and you had taken down another two, when one of the remaining ones did a complicated jutsu with a lot of hand signs," she said, getting up on her knees. "All of a sudden, the water was over our heads and weird currents were choking us. You managed to drag us out, but the tide followed, and we were sucked in forcibly. All three of us. Guy Sensei probably took them down afterwards, but he apparently didn't find us and so here we are. I wonder if Neji will show up, too?"
    "Huh. I wonder why I do not remember any of this?"
    "You don't? Maybe you got hit on the head on the way here. So what do we do now?"  Everyone thought silently for a moment until Sakura said, "We should probably build some shelter and find food."
    "So how do we do it?"
    "Lee, you see if you can find some big leaves."
    "Yes, Sir! Er, I mean Ma'am!" and with that, he ran off into the forest.
    "TenTen, do you think you could kunai some fish for us to eat?" TenTen pulled out a kunai and said, "Sure thing." She went out to the shore and started throwing kunai at fish. An instant later, Rock Lee appeared with twelve leaves as big as him.
    "Are these okay, Sakura?" Sakura looked at them for a second before saying, "Yeah, those will do. While TenTen gets some fish for us, how about we get some logs and build some sort of a hut?" 
    "Sounds good to me." And with that, Rock Lee and Sakura Haruno ran into the forest looking for some quality trees. 
"Found one!" Lee called to Sakura. She ran to where he was standing, next to a thick tree. "But how will we cut it down?" Sakura asked. 
    "Do not worry about a thing. I have got it. Watch this." He backed up a little ways and flipped up one of his leg warmers. He removed a weight and threw it at the tree. It sliced clear through and also through the thin tree behind it. Sakura stood, dumbfounded, with her jaw dropped wide when she said, "Wow."
    "Be right back." Lee ran to where his weight was and strapped it back onto his leg. He then picked up the two fallen trees and ran back to Sakura. "Do you think this could cover it?" he said. 
    "Yeah, if we could chop it up. I know! Let's ask TenTen if we can use some kunai for it. Let's go!" Lee and Sakura walked back to the shore where they last left TenTen. 
When they got there, TenTen was crouched over a fire, a grid of sticks above it holding nine fish. "Hey guys!" she said. "I'm just cooking the fish I caught. They're almost ready!" Hearing his stomach growl, Lee said, "Does not sound bad to me..." Sakura laughed.
    "You said it!"
    "Hey, Sakura? Can you help we with skinning them?"
    "Sure." TenTen and Sakura skinned the fish while Lee started to prepare their shack while there was some firelight to guide him. 
    "Alright, Lee! The fish are ready!" TenTen called. 
    "All right!!" Lee said in response, running to the spot where the fire was. 
    "Just keep in mind,"TenTen said, "that we don't have any spices or anything, so it might not taste-" She stopped, seeing Lee finishing his second fish and laughed. "I guess you're pretty hungry, huh, Lee?" She laughed again. 
    "Just be sure you leave some for us!" Sakura chimed. Lee bore a wide grin before starting on his third fish. When the three were almost finished, they heard a loud groan. 
    "What was that?" Sakura asked. 
    "I do not know," Lee said. "Would you like me to check?" 
    "Go ahead. We'll be right here." And so Lee sprinted to the source of the sound. When he got there, he was astonished. Another ninja from the Leaf Village lay on the shore. It was Naruto Uzumaki. 
He let out another pained groan. 
    "Naruto?" Lee said. 
    "Bushy Brow?" Naruto muttered. 
    "One second," Lee said. "I will run you over to the others."
    "Wha?" And Lee took off.

Monday, September 16, 2013

You Can Almost Taste It

I have a tendency to neglect a lot of senses in my detail writing. That's not to say I do a lot of detail writingI've even been described as "minimalist" (although not in an insulting way)—but it seems like I really have a tendency to leave out things that aren't seen.

I've read a lot of warnings to this tune in writing blogs, so I don't think it's a unique problem. The vocab most people seem to get in English class is "imagery," which (surprise) concerns detailed images. I've heard alternate definitions where it's expanded to include more sensations, and, while I don't think this is particularly wrong, it doesn't quite fit the word.

In whatever case, I don't think I include enough senses in my stories. I already have a "detail edit" planned for The Long and Winding Road (which I increasingly believe is going to be retitled Along the Winding Road) because, even when I set a goal to include more imagery/soundery/smellery/what have you, I don't do it. I get too involved with writing the plot or dialogue to think about such things. When the characters are eating or, in one case so far, kissing, I'll include smells and such, but aside from that I can't be bothered with it much. I do think that it's an issue, though, thus the plan to work on it in editing.

What kind of sensory details do you put in your stories? What kind do you like to read? How much is too much, or too little?

Also, Post #150! Hooray!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

New Short Film Idea #2

I never thought this post would happen, but I suppose inspiration just shows itself however it pleases. This is a bit odd, but still nothing compared to some of the short films I've seen.

Working Title: Clear

Genre: Mainstream/Spiritual, I guess

Characters: No more of the main character (a female in her late teens or early twenties) is shown than her hand.

Setting: The camera remains locked on a graphing calculator (probably a TI-84 or some such thing) that rests on a desk. It's an overhead shot so that all of the buttons and symbols on the screen can be made out.

Plot: The film opens with a shot of the calculator, its screen blank aside from a blinking cursor in the upper left. A female hand appears and begins to punch the proper buttons so that words appear on the screen (a time lapse would probably need to be used for these parts, because this takes forever). Each line ends with a press of the Enter button. After a few lines of positive/neutral words ("JOY," "WORK," etc.), some negative words start to creep in concerning bad acts of hers. The hand types out these words with increasing agitation until it finally hits the Clear button. After a moment's hesitation, the hand presses 2nd+Enter to find the negative words are still in the calculator, and she quickly presses Clear again. This process repeats, with a varying number of 2nd+Enter presses to bring up every line of the bad words, and then ends with her frantically and hopeless pushing the Clear button after it has taken everything off the screen. Timidly, she tries 2nd+Enter again, but the last line of negative words comes up again, and her hand drops to the side of the calculator in despair.
At that point, a masculine hand with stigmata reaches over and presses the proper buttons to clear the calculator's memory. Guiding the woman's hand back to the calculator, he has her try pressing 2nd+Enter again. Nothing comes up.

Friday, September 13, 2013

New Fan Fiction Idea #18

One day I read a fan fiction with this concept, but I was iffy about how it was executed. The idea also intrigued me enough to want more than a oneshot, so why not write it myself? If I can get permission from the original author, of course. And if I can find the time.

Working Title: Eat Your Heart Out or, if I really feel like it, Can't Escape from Italy

Fandom: Hetalia: Axis Powers

Length: Multichapter

Genre Tags: Horror, and either Drama or General

Protagonist: Undecided. Could be England, Japan, Cuba, or someone completely different.

Other Main Characters: See Protagonist. There may not even be any one "good guy" of focus; in my head, I've only seen movie-type clips starring different characters.

Antagonist: Insane!Italy. By the time the story starts, both his madness and his power have risen to the point he's only recognisable by appearance. Even then, it's a bit hard to see the resemblance with a bloodstained grin perhaps permanently on his face.

Plot: Completely broken after an extremely devastating war and the death of his brother, Italy turns to an old legend to prevent himself and his people from being decimated again. As the legend goes, a nation who eats the heart of another nation gains the victim's land and power. Italy, with Germany's help, first takes the heart of the nation most closely responsible for his brother's death and learns that the legend skipped over the imbalance of mind such an act caused. He continues his feast, eventually taking Germany's heart when Italy no longer needs his help, and the other nations remaining struggle to counter the new threat. With their own lives very much at stake and many wounds from the war not yet healed, it won't be an easy task.

Setting: Post-apocalyptic (or at any rate severely war-damaged) Earth, not terribly far in the future.

Point of View: Third-person of some variety.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

What Would You Do (NFFI#13) Excerpt

While I may not have many solid ideas for the rest of the story, I might as well hack out the first chapter I have imagined.


Liechtenstein wasn't sure how she had gotten into this room. She couldn't remember the last time she was awake, and her current headache could have meant anything.

Clues weren't readily available around the room, either. A cavern that bellowed echoes when she scraped her feet across the tile floor, the room was made of curved metal walls that twisted to meet each other far above her head. Thin lights lined the corner where the floor met the walls, lighting the room with a harsh fluorescence that reflected weakly off everything but the dark ceiling. 

It took another moment of orienting herself for Liechtenstein to realize the walls weren't entirely bare. A thin, black screen was embedded in the wall opposite where she sat, and after a moment of her peering at it it leapt into a flash of life.

At first, she didn't even understand what she was seeing. Blonde hair matted with rough rivulets of blood filled the screen in high-definition. Her hand went to her head, but her own hair was still clean, her ribbon tied neatly in its place.

A human growl boomed from the screen, and the bloodied hair shot upwards in a blur. The camera zoomed out a bit, revealing a man's head, which was streaked with blood, and his shoulders, which were tightly bound to a chair back. His teeth were clenched and his eyes squeezed shut. It looked like he was wearing Switzerland's usual outfit, although with a few rips and a lot more rumples. 

The man certainly looked like Switzerland, but it couldn't have been him. Liechtenstein had somehow been captured, but Switzerland wouldn't... He wouldn't have let her be captured in the first place, but... Maybe it was Switzerland...

Someone with a dark brown glove had a fistful of Switzerland's hair, pulling his head back to face the camera, but the rest of the person was offscreen. His voice was still perfectly intelligible.

"You are the only other person who has been admitted to this complex. You will be provided with some supplies and allowed to roam the guarded hallways. We are at the end. You will not be forced to leave the room in which you now sit; however, I will reiterate that you are the only other person in this complex."

With that, the gleam of a blade flashed across the corner of the screen toward's Switzerland's midsection, and the nation let out a strangled cry, the cords in his neck bulging as every muscle visible strained. Liechtenstein didn't quite cover her mouth before a shrill gasp escaped her lips.

Grunting with every exhale, Switzerland started to relax, but shining sweat was running down his forehead, following the tracks of dried blood.

"So," the attacker finished, "try to find your big brother, if you'd like."

At "big brother," Switzerland's eyes finally flew open. Alarmed, he looked around panting until he found the camera lens.

"L-Liechtenstein?" His voice was faint, so he cleared his throat. "Stay where you are! I will get out of this, a-and I will get you out before anyone—" He cut off with a scream, and a moment later a bloodier knife flicked back across the corner of the screen. Before Switzerland could begin to recover, the television flicked off.

Liechtenstein wasn't sure how long she sat there quivering, hands clamped over her mouth like she was about to vomit. It certainly seemed like hours before a thud shook the floor, sending one of the large tiles beside her rattling loosely. She glanced at the ground to find that the tile was sinking. It only made six inches of progress before another dull thud sent the tile behind it down at the same rate. The process continued until a stair set cut across the room, descending into darkness just beyond where she sat.

Slowly getting to her feet, she peered into the gap, but she still saw nothing beyond more stairs. Switzerland must have been down there somewhere. There were no other exits, and she could see no reason the man would have lied about her being in the same complex. It could easily be a trap, but she was already trapped.

What obstacles stood between her and her brother? What were they trying to put her through? Could it possibly be worse than sitting there knowing her protector was being sliced apart? 

Why would anyone do this? What could they hope to get from her? They already had Switzerland; what more could they expect from her?

Her fingers tightened around the hem of her dress.

They didn't expect anything from her. They only wanted Switzerland to give in, help them with something only a strong nation could. She was just there as a threat to him. Whoever was behind this had her captured and could do whatever they liked if Switzerland didn't agree to something. The broadcast was a jest. They knew little Liechtenstein wasn't about to plow through a war zone—she wouldn't be capable of it. She would just wait for her brother to save her like she always did, and, in the meantime, they could do whatever they wanted with her.

But they were mistaken.

Trembling silently, she pushed herself up and got to her feet. The room wobbled a bit, but she was able to straighten herself out after a minute of standing. Shoes clacking softly on the hard floor, she approached the top of the staircase and came to a stop peering down its length. From here she could see where the floor flattened out far below her, but nothing other than the same tile seemed to be down there. Anything could have been waiting. 

Of course, anything could have been waiting in her current dwelling. There was no real reason not to continue forwards. A threat. But it couldn't be that terrible, could it? She had no way to tell without stepping down there. And if it was too scary—there was no guarantee she would be able to come back here, but... but she would just have to stomach it and keep going. Switzerland had been trapped long enough to take a lot of damage, so he must have needed help, and she was his only hope. Maybe not that much of one, but she had to take on that responsibility. She was the only one here—and, after everything he had done for her, she finally had a chance to save him.

She took a deep breath and stepped onto the first stair.

"You are the only other person who has been admitted to this complex."

Monaco watched with wide eyes as the man jerked at France's hair, which was tangled and matted so much France couldn't have had his hands free in some time.

"You will be provided with some supplies and allowed to roam the guarded hallways. We are at the end. You will not be forced to leave the room in which you now sit; however, I will reiterate that you are the only other person in this complex."

France's eyes went wider than her own when a blade thumped into his side. A few moments of struggle passed before he was able to tone his shrill scream down to halting choking sounds.

"So, try to find your brother, if you'd like."

Still struggling for breath, France eyed the camera. He mouthed something, cleared his throat with a ragged sound, and swallowed.

"It's okay," he started, smiling shakily. "Big Brother France has everything taken care of!"

Monaco frowned. He said that, but everything on his face was screaming, "Help me!"

The hostage-taker suddenly withdrew his knife, and France fell forward, his dirty hair taking up the whole screen as he wailed. The broadcast cut out.

Monaco sat still, taking deep breaths. It appeared her big brother was in a dire situation, and she was his only hope of escape. How exactly that happened when he was responsible for her protection, and her national army was smaller than her national band, she wasn't certain. But that was how it panned out, and she hardly had anything to gain from sitting in this drab room.

Walking steadily towards the stairs when they showed themselves, she hesitated, sighed, and started downwards.

Germany wasn't even conscious enough to tell Italy anything.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

New Fiction Idea #34

This was an idea from some time ago, when I was wondering if I could basically write more Hunger Games fan fiction without it actually being the Hunger Games. Better title suggestions are welcome.

Working Title: Tournament of the World

Genre: Horror/Sci-Fi

Protagonist: Corey, a 17-year-old Canadian and one of Region 4's randomly-chosen athletes for the year. He's not actually particularly athletic, although he does pride himself on being a very good swimmer. His hair is a medium brown and kept short. His eyebrows have a solid look to them. He's a bit of a people-pleaser, although he can loose his cool if someone's a bit too irritating.

Other Main Characters: Pierce, a 21-year-old American and another of Region 4's athletes. He's a star wrestler on his university team and looks the part. Reasonably handsome, he has blue eyes and dark, cropped hair. He's more annoying than kind verbally, but he's not opposed to helping people out every once in a while.
Aiko (愛子), an 18-year-old Japanese (Region 3). She's quite small and not much of an actual athlete, although she's determined. She's also quite the doormat about anything she's not so devoted to.
"Rin" (Екатерина), an 18-year-old Russian and athlete from Region 17. Slender but toned, she's tall and keeps her dark hair in a low ponytail. She's fierce and not very friendly, although she's a team player when she sees strength in numbers.

Antagonists: The other athletes in the 16-23 bracket, as well as those in other age groups if the protagonists get that far. More trouble will usually come from within their group and the elements.

Setting: Future Earth, with a much-too-large population that has already started many wars just to reduce itself. The council of civilised nations has condemned such activities but opened up a life-or-death international competition. Nations compete to host as they would the Olympics, but the competition is once a year. The world is divided into regions for the purpose of the competition, and a certain proportion of "athletes" of reproductive age are randomly chosen (although some nations send out a suspiciously high proportion of actual athletes) from each region. Each competitive bracket is thrown into a vast arena with each other until few (or, in the final competition, one) remain alive. Competitors are given a meal and a pack of supplies before each round and helped no more. Around-the-clock footage is provided so regions can cheer for their athletes, although the cheering is more often by country.

Plot: Corey and company struggle to stay alive, particularly in the way of food, in the outdoor arena. They also struggle to stay together when certain revelations (say, Corey having a real-life girlfriend despite keeping up an online relationship with an anonymous young woman who may also be in the competition) come to light.

Point of View: First person (Corey).

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Abandonment Issues

Sometimes ideas go places. Sometimes they go places I don't want them to. And sometimes they just don't go anywhere.

In any case, a lot of stories just aren't going to see the light of day. That's part of the reason I'm sharing so many of my novel ideas—I have little interest in some of them, and some I may just never get to, but I feel like they all deserve a little bit of limelight time just for being nice enough to tap on my shoulder and amuse me for a while.

That being said, not every idea needs to be written. I've yet to find a story that beckons me to write it every moment of every day, but I still need to feel some sort of pull to do any actual writing. Ideas that are just a world without much of a story (as in the first draft of Wanderers), or characters without much of a story (as in Suture), or some such thing just can't draw me much. Even if I like the basic idea, I can't see anything happening in my head if, well, nothing's happening in it. I'm guilty of doing very little plotting before I actually start a story, but I'm fine with winging it if I've at least identified a few points along the journey.

Even if an idea comes with enough of a plot for me to get started, that's still no guarantee the book will be finished. If, for any number of reasons, I lose interest along the way, there's no promise I'm getting it back. I may not find the characters interesting enough to play with, and I would have to go back and change too many things (i.e., do too much work) to get another chapter out. I may start the fic without realising the scope of the story and what I'm getting myself into. I may start a story for the sake of fans rather than my own interest only to crash and burn halfway through. I may just stop caring because of life and time constraints. I have indeed finished a few fan fictions, and I completed NaNoWriMo last year, so I'm not always doomed to give up on my stories. I am somewhat scared by the number of those left incomplete, but I know I'm capable of finishing the writing of a story.

Of course, once the last chapter comes to a close, the story still isn't really finished. I hacked out 50,109 words for my NaNo novel and reached the concluding sentence, so it is in one way complete, but I haven't looked back at the thing since I uploaded my final word count. I don't know if I ever will. I have a certain writer friend who says I should look it over and try to publish it, and another who has browsed it and found it doable, but I'm still not sure. To be honest, I don't even know how I was able to stick with my one awkward idea for an entire fifty thousand words, let alone how I can summon the verve to revise the monster. It is certainly in no condition to be published at present, and I feel it's probably less than half the length it should be for its genre. I don't feel the pull to put that much effort into it. I proved I could finish writing a novel, but I want to go elsewhere to prove I can finish revising a novel. I don't know whether I'll get The Long and Winding Road or Mayflies into publishing condition first, but I am certain that both of them will beat out Dreadful Valley (the NaNo novel).

So, out of some 33 novel ideas to date, only five (The Long and Winding RoadMayflies, ChasersPiracy Cruise Lines, and Figments) have made it to the writing phase. Only The Long and Winding Road, Mayflies, and Piracy Cruise Lines are being written currently. Will they all be finished? Will they all be revised and sent off to be published one way or another? I can't say for sure until I've reached that point, but at least The Long and Winding Road and Mayflies are looking pretty good right now. I'll just keep working at it and hoping the muse will hang around where she ought to until I'm done.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Dream Journal #14

I woke up early, tried to repeat this to myself, and went back to sleep. The details suffered, but oh well.

3 Aug—4 Aug

I was in a large arena, probably a basketball one, although not one I knew. The halls were all empty, blank, and dark-walled, and few of the lights on since the arena was closed. I had snuck in to steal a petri dish from one room in the arena that looked my Genetics lab room. I got into the lab, but in the Histology room just behind it was Dr. Phelps*, working on some sort of experiment. He was very excited about what he was doing and didn't see me, but I still lay down behind one of the lab tables for a while. I could somehow see his reflection in the wood, although the Histology lab was on the other side of the room. Finally he looked away long enough, so I swiped the petri dish from the counter and hurried back out. I had to go upstairs to get out, but luckily there was roof construction, so I could get in a lift.

In another, similar room, I met up with another teacher. He was bald, wore a white lab coat, and was someone I apparently knew from school. He was preparing for some sort of party/exhibition, so he pointed me to a few piles of pinky-size action figures and asked me to link them together. All of the figures had magnetic hands, so I started putting them in a line for each group. The first group was all superheroes. I got overly excited when I saw he had some Ben 10 figures.

At some point, I had to use the bathroom, so I snuck out of the room. A three-stalled bathroom was right outside, with two more closed doors leading outside. All of the walls were a plain white, and everything was clean. I settled down in one of the stalls, but, when I came out, Molly** and two others were standing in the open area of the bathroom chatting. For some reason I had stepped out without covering myself, so the girls immediately took out their phones and started taking pictures of my rear end. I chased them out, though not without finding out this was actually the bathroom that connected to their shared dorm room.

I went back to the second teacher's room, where I realised I had accidentally started putting the action figures down the sink. I started pulling them out carefully and, knowing that if I pull out the wrong one the rest would all fall in, I started picking out the unique figures (there were a lot of copies of the more popular superheroes). Then I realised I could just use their hands to link them, so I tried that and pulled out a long chain of them.

Later, I had finally escaped the arena, but someone had found out that I had killed one of the three girls with a weapon that looked like a giant, blue, disposable flosser. For this I was on the run.

* My Cell Biology teacher. He's not typically deadpan, but he was still a bit too cheerful in this dream.
**The residence assistant, she was one year older and lived in my dorm to keep an eye on us.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

The Action Girls

Somehow I got it into my head that I should rank my fighter girls in order of badbuttery. So here we are.

(Spot number one should probably belong to Rin, but her story hasn't been posted yet, so we'll skip over her for now. Ena should also be on here, but she has so little characterisation at this point it's hard to rank her.)
  1. Michelle (The Long and Winding Road): She's not a part of the main story, and, at this point, I'm not entirely sure if she'll actually come up in discussions, but I would really like her to. My head-image of her is some sort of cross between Joan Jett and Pat Benatar. While she would qualify as "Most Likely to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse," she somehow seems to have, um, died in it a lot sooner than 5 or 6 on this list. Anyway, she was Emile's fiancee and kicked some serious rear in her time. She has the survival skills and combat skills necessary to get up this high on the list, and the calm and faithful way she handled her upcoming death (although she kind of got burnt alive by paranoid villagers before she could be zombie-fied as she expected) gets her the top spot.
  2. Kaliause: Scatterbrained is certainly her normal mode, but thankfully her muscle memory doesn't seem to have been hit by her brain injury. Surviving on her own on a wartorn planet certainly isn't easy, nor is trying to keep Tommy alive when he stumbles across her path, but she handles it with the kind of ease that cements her spot in second place.
  3. Loretta May: She may be a city girl, so she's not so experienced with wilderness survival, but she still hasn't had it easy. Surviving an abusive father and a bunch of other experiences with misogynists (although she does tend to think of all men as women-haters), she can handle herself just fine, whether she's executing a flawless robbery or striking and knifing her way out of a dark alleyway.
  4. Cerise: A dark mistress of magic, she has to "mask" herself just to prevent her aura from attracting everyone's attention. She may not have skill with weapons, but when she can detonate an area in a snap, why bother tossing knives?
  5. Rachel: Up against zombies and vampires alike and still having a blast with it, she plows herself across America with nothing but an RV and a good attitude. And a gun (which is why she's a bit lower than some of the close-combat users) and some friends, of course.
  6. Charlotte: While her older brother and a few kindhearted villagers may be how she got through the worst part of the apocalypse, by the beginning of her story, she can hold her own against zombies and humans alike. A bit handicapped in total wilderness survival but an expert in scrounging through the remains of civilized areas, she's been through a lot but has come out rather bright and cheery. She's also very goal-driven, and not too terrible a shot.
  7. Andromache: Although she could easily be called a pampered princess, that hasn't stopped her from getting a feel for the soldier's life. She may not be that tough physically, but she's got a good handle on magic and more than enough heart and loyalty to make up for it. She will be knocked down, but she will get back up.
  8. Darla: Fearless in battle (perhaps not so much with real life), she can take a hit and deal one, too. She's not so hot once she's swordless, but she'll find a way to get her (or her opponent's) weapon back, and she's not afraid to take a few wounds in the meantime.
  9. Pink: With a determination that can rip up mountains and cast them into the sea, she will not stop or take a detour. She's an average fighter and hasn't much experience with weapons, but she can run like nobody's business and, in her story, that's the only physical strength she really needs.
  10. Scarlet: Fierce and proud, she'll whatever she has to to help her loved ones, even if that means bristling under the enemy's control until she can find a way out. She's not very tough physically, but she can figure out how to put a Cyber suit to good use, and she's not afraid to do so, either.
  11. Michelle (Crime or Punishment): She may be quiet and a drug addict, but she's still a trained policewoman in an urban area, and she will kick rear by hand, gun, or nightstick. Only her fluctuating mental status keeps her down on the list.
  12. Danielle: She's been trained as an assassin from a young age and can handle her job. Unfortunately, her story gets around to breaking her down more than 11.
  13. Vanessa: She may be young and untrained, but she has a killer instinct and a pretty good trigger finger. Beware all who challenge her.
  14. Athena: Being cast out from civilization, she's tough and knows how to survive. She's combative to a fault, but she'll still expend some of her strength to lend a hand.
  15. Kori: A bit paranoid and bewildered, but she can use her brain, and she has excellent endurance. The whole bit about launching her corrosive blood at others or at inhuman barriers doesn't hurt her status.
  16. M: She really has no idea what's going on, and she's not in terribly good condition physically. She does, however, have an astounding magical ability that only continues to grow stronger, along with her will, in the course of her story.
  17. Josephine: She's rather frail and too lost to be very determined, but she's a swift runner and can be surprisingly strong when it comes to helping her allies. 
  18. Helen: More stubborn than determined, she still has guts and isn't afraid to chuck a stiletto heel hard at somebody.
  19. Sophia: Although she's a bit timid at the beginning of her story, she still develops and is fiercely devoted to her friends and getting them out of the cage alongside her.

Friday, September 6, 2013

A Very Good Place To Start

Story beginnings are an art form all their own. They have to ensnare the reader, set the tone, make promises about the whole story, and start building connections between the reader and the characters. Tall order, right?

Well, since one of the worst things in the world is a blank document with a line blinking mockingly at me, I have to get something out to start, whether it's the best line/spot to open or not. The perfect opening can wait until revision.

That's not to say I don't try to make the opening interesting and relevant in the first draft. In my serially-published fan fictions, I don't even have the chance to write the entire story and then edit it before posting. I just start.

Here are a few of my beginnings to compare:

"Holding her breath, Charlotte carefully aimed her rifle. The surest shot was right through the sorry creature's brain. That way, it couldn't even survive long enough to notice and attack her. So, she stayed quiet, watched the motion of its head, and...

With a sharp bang, her gun spat out its bullet, and the bit of metal buried itself in the creature's grey-green forehead. The monster fell to the ground dead long before the buzz faded from Charlotte's ears." 

— The Long and Winding Road (original version)

"I just manage to get the door closed behind me before I can be impaled by a rapier."

Piracy Cruise Lines

"She awoke with asphalt grating her back. No warm light touched her face, and a look straight ahead to the sky confirmed the sun wasn’t out. Nor were any clouds, nor were stars. Only a vast black canvas hung above her.

Something seemed off about that."


"'Can you see anyone over there?' my brother starts, voice even more hushed than usual.

Taking a step onto the white path, I cringe as gravel scratches the blisters on my feet. As if standing on a sign of civilization wasn’t bad enough in itself. I do get a better view of the field from here, though. Maize in neat rows, dipping in the breeze, beckoning poor, starving souls towards them."


As far as Dead Man's Hand goes, I felt like starting with the quote "Adrian had come to the conclusion that Nietzsche must have been a complete sociopath." But that would open the story with nothing but a while of reflection, and I know that I'm prone to putting the book down after a few paragraphs of that. Instead, I think I may start with Adrian procuring one of his cards for the round.

What kind of openings do you like? How long will you go on reading before you decide whether the book is worth continuing or not?