Sunday, December 29, 2013

Lee's Island, Part 5

(Part 1 is here.)

Part 5: in which passage of time just kind of happens and Lee is the only one who can save the day.


Rock Lee walked through the forest. "Hmm, I need some sort of container. Maybe a leaf? No, that might absorb the water. Hmm, what could I use? Maybe tree bark? Yes, that will work." Lee said, beginning to search for the right shape of tree bark. A little later, he found the perfect one.
"Yes! This will definitely work! Now all I need to do is get some seawater!" Lee, with a sturdy hold on the bark, ran towards the shoreline. He scooped some water into it and walked to the others, who were not far away.
"Here it is!"
"Great! That'll work perfectly! Just set it on this little grid of sticks. Do it gently, though. We don't want it to break."
"Yes, Ma'am!" Lee set the bark bowl down on the sticks and TenTen placed three of the fish she and Sakura had caught. A loud sizzling sound came from the bowl as the fish broiled. "It smells really good," Naruto said.
"Sure does!" The sizzling sound quieted. "Okay, guys, these are ready! Go ahead and take your pick and I'll cook the next three." Naruto and Rock Lee quickly grabbed two of them. "TenTen, you go ahead. I'll cook the next ones for you," Sakura said. "Thanks," TenTen said, fetching the third fish. Later, the four were finished. "Man, I'm bushed," Sakura said. "I'm going to sleep. Who takes first shift?"
"I'll do it."
"Okay, TenTen, go ahead." Sakura yawned. "See you in a couple of hours."
"See ya," the others said in unison. Sakura walked into the tent. "Okay, there's nothing left to do. I shall go ahead and sleep, too. See you later!" Lee followed Sakura into the leafshod tent. "Okay, this is boring. See ya, TenTen." Naruto ran into the tent.
"Night, guys."
"Naruto!" Sakura yelled. It was her shift, and she was being attacked.
Naruto groaned, rubbing his eyes. "What?" he mumbled, obviously aggravated from being waken up so early. "Naruto!" This time Sakura added a scream. "Sakura? Are you okay?" He ran out into the morning. Sakura wasn't there. "Sakura!" Naruto ran into the trees nearby, hoping to find her. He did.
Sakura was crouched against a tree, trying desperately to defend herself. She looked incredibly beaten up. In front of her was the ninja she had encountered earlier. "Now I can have a little sweet revenge! Where is she for the last time?!"
"I won't tell you!"
"You'd better tell me!" The boy held his Demon Wind shuriken at her neck. "Now talk!" Suddenly a kunai whizzed by him. "Looks like I came just in time! Believe it!" Naruto said.
"You annoying little brat!" yelled the other boy. "If you think you can save her, you're wrong! Besides," he said, holding his giant shuriken a little closer to Sakura's neck, "I have the upper hand here! One move and the girl dies!" Sakura gave a little whimper. "You'd better back away from Sakura!"
"Or what?"
"Or you'll take a beating, that's what!" The other ninja grinned. "Why don't you try?"
"Glad to! Believe it!" Naruto drew another kunai and ran towards the kidnapper. "Your weapons won't work! Metal Repel Jutsu!" he said, making a couple of hand signs. Naruto immediately fell back. "What the?" The ninja chuckled. "Since you're holding something made of metal, you can't touch me! You can't throw anything at me either!"
"And you didn't do this before because..."
"Um, heh?" Naruto groaned. What kind of idiot is this guy? he thought. "Well, whatever! I don't need kunai! Believe it!" He rushed at the ninja, his arm back and ready for a punch. The grass ninja jumped up just barely enough to dodge his attack. Suddenly, when the ninja made his descent, Naruto started to move back, nudged by invisible hands.
"What the? I don't have any kunai! How is it still working?!" The grass ninja cackled a bit. "It appears you have a zipper on your clothes; that's enough to not let you touch me!" All of a sudden, a whoosh came from behind them. "Huh? What was that?" Then a figure came, its outlines blurred by its speed, and knocked the grass ninja fifteen feet away.
"Lee!" Sakura yelled, relieved. The grass ninja quickly got up. "What? You have your headband on! How could you get to me?!" Lee replied, "It was really not that hard. All I had to do was build up enough speed and I got through your defenses." Is he really THAT fast?! thought the grass ninja. He backed away, stunned. "Sakura, could you hold this for a minute?" said Rock Lee, who had taken his headband off of his waist and extended it towards Sakura. "This way I will not have to waste any time building up speed."
"Sure." Sakura took Lee's headband, an instant before Lee darted towards the grass ninja. When he got there--in a matter of seconds--he kicked the ninja in the stomach, knocking him out of sight. "Go, Lee!" Sakura yelled. Rock Lee now stood before her. "May I have my headband back now, Sakura?"
"Okay, sure," she said, returning it to Lee. "Thanks," he said, wrapping it once again around his waist. "Can we get something to eat? I am starved!" Sakura giggled. "Alright, we'll get some food! Let's go find TenTen. She'll be able to catch some fish for us." The three ninja set off.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Just Look Here

It comes to my attention during revision that I overuse quite a few words. Ignoring articles and conjunctions, which shouldn't be an issue if I don't keep repeating the same sentence structure, the worst offenders are "just" and "look."

"Just" is tricky—it sort of adds a vague limit to the sentence, and it's hard to get rid of without getting an uncomfortable twinge. The best trick seems to be unanimously deleting them in editing without paying attention to the context and then adding it back in if I notice it missing. "Quite" and "a bit" are in the same boat.

"Look" gets overused because it's more vague than some other verbs. If I try to plug in synonyms, it doesn't always work for me. It doesn't help that I use it as a verb and a noun all of the time.

This isn't exactly a comprehensive list. It's hard to figure out how much each kind of word should be used. The "glue" that's necessary for correct usage of the English language in general can't be skipped, but exactly how "invisible" is each word? "Said" can be used often and is indeed recommended more than its relatives, but is it the only non-copula verb of its type? How invisible is "look"? "Just"? Others?

Monday, December 23, 2013

More Words To Use and Love

Since the first post didn't quite cover all of my pretty words, I've decided to make a second. The list still isn't comprehensive, but here's more of it.

pelagic                                   versicolor                                    exordium
simper                                    fulgurant                                    violescent
velleity                                   assoil                                          couthie
fabulist                                   parturient                                    hypnopompic
vigorish                                 splendiferous                               kibitzer
ramose                                   quid                                            brabble
rollick                                    troth                                            intemerate
spleenful                                balsamaceous                             word-hoard
celadon                                  erinaceous                                  plotz
Tartuffery                              mulligrubs                                  wellaway
sententious                             cruciverbalist                              jackanapes
austral                                    adiaphorous                                atavistic
tardigrade                               apopemptic                                irrefrangible
draggle                                   fastigiate                                     lollapalooza

Friday, December 20, 2013

Sharing is Caring

Some of you may have noticed that, on a quite a few of my fiction and fan fiction ideas, I've put up a notice that someone else is free to try it out. My father is staunch in his belief that such a thing will inevitably lead to someone taking my idea and making millions off it. (If they can, power to them. It's better than I would do, anyway.)

Yet I've also heard that posting ideas publicly helps to enforce that they belong to me. With all of the other posts I put out here, it would be hard to argue that a posted story idea was actually posted after someone else started writing that story—even if I can change one timestamp, it's obvious whenabouts I posted that idea.

At the same time, I'm posting all of my Fragments, which are so little and vague anyone could take one and slip it in without drawing suspicion. And that's okay. I've already taken an idea from a friend and then given it back to her. I don't mind. Just because these thoughts entered my brain doesn't mean I have irrefutable claims to them, or responsibilities to write them. It just means I had an idea that I can treat however I please.

As I just mentioned, I take ideas from others. Of course I do! There aren't really any new ideas; it's just the combinations. And if I use ideas from others, why shouldn't others get to use ideas from me? Half of them they'd find elsewhere, anyway; I just thought it would be nice to get them all in one place.

Basically, writing is more of a social occupation that it seems like it should be. I could probably lock myself in my room and just ideas from other books—and indeed I will do this—but that's not enough. I have to get a few ideas from living my life, and, still, that's not quite interesting enough to get me all the material I need for an original piece, anyway (considering I do, in fact, prefer to lock myself in my room all of the time). So I get a few ideas from others' lives and the stories they've read. We bounce all of our ideas off each other, and both of us can come out of it with stories that never would have occurred to us otherwise. Maybe there is some competition when it comes to publishing and such, but writing to me just seems like a team sport.

What do you think? Enjoy sharing your ideas? Enjoy seeing others'?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

New Fiction Idea #41

This was just a vague setting based off a dinner conversation until Lola suddenly showed up, casually hanging upside-down via a bungee cord tied around one ankle and slicing open her hand, commenting on how warm the blood was.

Working Title: Bad Blood

Genre: Dystopian

Protagonists: Greg, an AB+ 16-year-old with dark, curly hair. Born and raised in the underbelly of his city, he's quite relaxed about robbery and such since society made him do it. He's muscular but underfed, short for his age, and has a thing scar along the left side of his jaw.
Lola, an A- 16-year-old of mixed European, Indian, and Chinese heritage. She's slender but toned and dresses in a punk lolita style that exposes a lot more skin than would be considered modest or prudent (given that robbing her of blood would be a lot easier).

Other Main Characters: Metra, Greg's (AB+) drug-addicted mother. She's kind when she's aware of anything, but she either can't or won't work.
Vincent (O+) and Abbey (O-), Lola's best friends. A gang of punks, they don't do much that would harm others, but they're political outcriers as well as adrenaline junkies. They have a pact to bury each other blood and all if anything happens, and they've already done this to Matt (B-), a former member of the pack who died in a group cliff-jumping escapade.

Antagonist: Basically everyone else, to varying degrees.

Setting: A dystopia where blood is currency, O- being the most valuable. Other types have begun to dwindle but still make up a good third of the population, and AB types are generally avoided or born in poverty.

Plot: Greg tries hard to survive no matter what it takes; Lola somewhat tries to survive but is more interested in sabotaging "the system" and daredevilling with her friends. Both find themselves caught up in a very illegal black market system and, deciding it's much better than what the government deems legal tender, seek to make it the real market. Their paths will cross at a few points, but, for the most part, they're followed independently.

Point of View: Third-person, limited to Greg and Lola at different times/chapters.

Still very hazy, especially plot-wise, and the twin protagonists bit may be difficult to pull off, but it interests me.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Unemployment Line

Just because I don't write a certain story doesn't mean the characters will never see the light of day. In fact, a lot of the time I come up with a setting long before I know who's in it, and in times like this, I take a look at some of my "abandoned" characters to fill the void.

For example, the current cast of New Fiction Idea #40 consists of Cahokia and Axum from Man in the Blade and Dobson and Crick from Mount. Given the totally different universe, they're not precisely their old selves, but what fun would it be if they were?

In another vein, I've taken fan characters for fan fictions and turned them into fantastic creatures for OCTs. How would this character react to having powers? What powers would fit this one? What powers would be the worst for this other one?

It's really quite similar to writing Alternate Universe fan fiction—take a character from one place, put them in another, and see how much changes or stays the same. It may seem a bit like cheating or copying, but there are only so many character traits out there. Why try to put together an entirely new set every time when you can just take an old friend or archetype and tweak it?

And some of my characters are just too dear to me to be left behind altogether. If I can't write them in their original setting, why shouldn't I pick them up and put them somewhere else? I think they deserve a place in my stories outside of my head, and I'll try not to make them wait in line too long.

How about you? Copy-pasting any characters of your own?

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Mayflies, Chapter Six

Well, not the whole chapter, but at least a bit of it. This is still only an unrevised version, but I thought it might be nice to leave a little update on this story for you. It's coming along at about 170 words a day, so, not that quickly, but that only means I don't have to feel like I need a lot of energy to work on it.

Anyway! Enjoy this bit from Matthew's POV.

(Also, I'm sure Julian will soften up eventually, but he's awfully fun to write.)


We manage to collapse in Julian’s main room before our wings burst from our backs. As I’m spread out face-down, the extra weight seems to crush in on my panting lungs, but a cold tingle of relief passes through me. How did I ever hold these in?
I can’t hear the footfalls over my breathing, but Julian steps in and peers down at us. He checks the doorway for pursuers before sighing and sitting down nearby. 
“Did you make it?” he asks.
“Barely,” I croak.
My brother pushes himself up, although his breathing is no more quiet than mine. “Three fish,” he says, pushing the purchase towards the scribe. “We were going to get some avocados, too, but we couldn’t stay long enough to haggle.”
Julian frowns a bit more. “So that’s all you got?”
Jonathan nods, sitting up straighter. “We didn’t spend all of the beads—”
“You spent too many,” the scribe snaps, although neither of us has shown him our change yet. My brother and I stare at him blankly as we catch our breath.
“What?” Jonathan finally starts.
“Why on earth did you get something you have to cook?” Julian squints at the wrapped fish, scuffing his foot as if to kick dirt over them. “Were you really so confident you’d be able to hide those wings long enough to stay outside and tend to a fire?”
My brother and I exchange a look. I had not thought that far ahead. We haven’t bought or otherwise taken fish in a long time. On occasion we’ve caught them ourselves, but we were always far enough in the wilderness we didn’t worry any more than usual about being caught. I hadn’t thought about how we would cook these. We certainly won’t be starting a fire inside the house—I’m sure we could keep it contained, but I don’t want to risk burning Julian’s house down, especially with all of his books—and there could easily be people passing by outside.
With an exasperated grunt, the scribe swoops down and scoops the fish off the floor. “I don’t know how much presence of mind it takes to operate those wings, but do try to catch up with the rest of us in the way of common sense.” He stomps towards the doorway. “I’ll go out and cook the stupid things so I didn’t waste my money on you. Idiots!”
Without another look back at us, he flits outside and beyond our range of vision. My brother and I sit for a minute, finally breathing normally but speechless nevertheless.
“Is it too late to apologize?” I eventually start, stretching out my wings. They feel awfully cramped. Where exactly have they been jammed this whole time?
“I doubt he’ll think any better of us if we do.” Jonathan sighs, pulling in a wing to lie on his side. “We can definitely thank him, though.”

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Must Stop Fangirling over my Own Characters

Since I seem to have issues when it comes to being a fangirl of characters that I created myself (which may not be the best thing when I'm trying to write stories that don't necessarily revolve around them), I decided to make a list of the victims of my affection. It's not ordered.

  • Cahokia: The cutest Britt (man from the nation of Brittack, as it were) on the list by far. He's rather weak and not that determined a character, but he's so much of a literature nerd and overall eccentric that I can't bear to leave him behind, even if Man in the Blade is never drawn up.
  • The Gentleman: No, he has nothing to do with certain other characters who qualify themselves as gentlemen. He's just quite the chivalrous character, but hardly in a way that patronises the females. He's also a calm psychopath. And he kills people using a rapier, an umbrella, or most often his hat. That is all.
  • English (of my silly little webcomic of personified language): I don't know; he just turned out really cute. And he's sort of the lonely type (since he beats up other languages so much according to the old joke), so he's a bit of a woobie.
  • Master Fire: He would be more on the hot side than cute, I suppose (no pun intended). I'm not entirely sure why I fangirl over him, because he's more of the bad-boy type and a devoted drunk, but I guess he has enough snark to keep his character afloat. And I like his hair.
  • Clyde: Oh, Clyde. Who would have known that I would turn out fangirling over someone based off a Pac-Man ghost? He's just kind of cute and sassy, and, to avoid spoilers, I'll just say he's been through an awful lot to be as cheerful as he is.
  • Francisco: He's just so eccentric; I don't know. He certainly has the joy of life about him, and the ease with which he puts on his air of self-confidence is pretty cool when, outside the cruise ship he's really nothing special.
  • Dobson and Crick: They're not even really characterised. Yet here they are. Cute accompaniment, I guess...
  • Macbay: He's kind of grimy, but in more of a way that makes you smile and shake your head than frown at him. Although that happens, too. He's not very attractive, but his powers are quite excellent, and, oh, I don't know. He has enough of a sarcastic streak for me.

Friday, December 6, 2013

New Fiction Idea #40

This is all very tentative, but I do like the magic system.

Working Title: Rock and Roll Fantasy

Genre: Fantasy

Protagonist: Chuck, a 20-year-old man with shoulder-length blonde hair he keeps in a ponytail. He's rather unimposing, cheerful, and nerdy when it comes to literature. He can get serious, though, when it comes to patriotism and protecting his loved ones.

Other Main Characters: Donna, a 20-year-old Tarrer with curly, black hair about the same length as her fiance Chuck's. She looks like a bit more of a threat than Chuck, but she's still notmuch above average in stature. She's generally gentle and feminine, but she'll beat the tar out of people when she needs to.
Taylor, a 22-year-old man who is very tall and on the scrawnier side. He dresses well and is the insufferable genius type. Aside from the arrogance, he's a good person.
Nathan, a 23-year-old Devver who is shorter and stockier than his "adoptive big brother" Taylor. He's generally quiet but a very good problem-solver, and he doesn't have a great tendency to use his powers more for the common good than for his personal amusement.

Antagonist: Mel Kougre, a tall but short-haired man with an always-present evil grin. Though he can be amiable and caring, he's ruthless for power and already has quite a bit of it.

Setting: In general, a standard medieval-type fantasy kingdom, although a bit more casual than is typical. There are several varieties of magic that all the public (with the exception of those who don't practise magic, of course) can access. There are also some special types of people with extra abilities sort of in exchange for only having access to one species of typical magic. There are the Twisters—limited to sound-based magic but with the ability to shapeshift into animate objects—the Durers—limited to perception-based magic but with the ability to manipulate romantic attraction—the Devvers—limited to fire-based magic but with the ability to incite or dispel fits of madness—the Cinders—limited to water-based magic but with the ability to teleport—the Hailers—limited to flight-based magic but with extreme acrobatic abilities—and the Tarrers—limited to strength-based magic but to a greater degree than normals; they're also all female. At a glance, a person's magical prowess can be estimated by the volume of his or her hair.

Plot: Mel has most of the royal court under his finger and is plotting to overthrow King Neal II. Chuck, a sometime tutor for the royal sons, is one of the few to suspect the plot and decides to overthrow it, but it won't be as diplomatic as he would have hoped.

Point of View: Third person, limited to Chuck.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Genre Schmenre

I've never been good at figuring out precisely what genres I write. In fact, when a professor asked me what kind of stories I write, I took a moment and replied, "Anything that could never happen in real life."

Of course, that mostly puts me in science fiction and fantasy, but now there are so many subgenres of those that I still don't know where I fit. Steampunk is more of a cosy niche, but those I label with that genre can be questionable because most of them really aren't that "punk." Macbay, of course, would have to count because he goes against the government basically his whole life and for the whole story, but Mount? I think it only follows the steampunk aesthetic without really being a steampunk story. So what on earth does that make it?

Then there are the handful of story ideas that don't even fall into one of those broader categories. Generally, I'll label them horror because, being myself, I usually end up killing or otherwise harming everyone. But is that really what constitutes a horror novel? What about thriller? Where's the line? Four Walls is trying to be literary—can that even work hand-in-hand with the horror genre? Or is it horror at all?

And what difference does it really make? I'll judge a book by its cover and synopsis before I ever see what genre it's assigned, but I suppose those in turn are based on the genre. But what if it's more of a general feel of the book? Is that or genre more important? And how does genre affect audiences on ebook sites, like Smashwords, where I'll be publishing? If I label my books incorrectly, will those interested not be able to find it? How specific a genre/subgenre does the average reader prefer?

Basically, genres confuse me, but they're necessary. Do tell me about them, if you like.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Fragments VI

The madness will never stop.

  • A dystopia where everyone chooses to be bound to a certain mode of transport (skateboard, rollerblades, etc.) for life and is inducted into a faction for that vehicle and trained to hate all other factions
  • A world where magic can bring one corpse (in good condition) back to life in exchange for killing someone else, and vise versa
  • "in a flash, he backhanded Ace across the jaw." (Mac dictionary entry: backhand)
  • A character with sporadic fatal insomnia
  • A "bad guy" protagonist
  • "We just had a 15-Watt laser delivered to us, but they didn't give us any instructions." (overheard during my physics lab)
  • Cities that look like giant circuit boards
  • Powers based off famous paradoxes (i.e., an archer whose arrows behave similarly to the Doctor Who statue-things for Zeno's paradox)
  • A car park echoing with the sound of scrapers getting ice off the various windshields
  • A "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids" type of Hetalia fan fiction