Friday, January 31, 2014

A Character Comparison

After recently getting the impression that a certain Phoenix Wright character was a lot like one of mine, I got the idea to try matching the characters from that game to others I created myself. I'm not sure precisely when I started playing Phoenix Wright, but the majority of my characters were created before I had ever heard of it. So this is just a compilation of interesting coincidences, I suppose.

1. The One Who Started It All: Jake Marshall

While his Wild West persona is the most obvious thing about him, for some reason he seriously reminds me of Smith. While I don't think the blues guitarist carries a flask with him or references Texas often, their basic behaviour and tone really seem to be the same. Low-key, a little snide... It's a little hard to say precisely, but there's definitely an eerie similarity there. Their expressions seem to be the same as well. Now here's hoping I don't start writing Smith and suddenly find him calling everyone "bambina" or "hombre"...

2: Kicking Rear with a Loveable Smile: Desirée DeLite

Although I don't imagine her being quite as devoted to her man as the lady above, I think Cayman might be a good match in this case. Both are thrill-seekers, get (and spend) a lot of money because of their husband/boyfriend (who is notably less strong), and give off the impression that they can more than hold their own despite their sweet smiles. They're both pretty determined and active as well, and I could really imagine Cayman using the same poses and gestures as Desirée. I'm not so sure that Cayman drives a motorbike, but anything's possible.

3: The Big-Hearted Big Guy with Not-Such-a-Big Brain: Dick Gumshoe

I didn't think I had any major characters in this, but then I realised a certain scruffy detective is actually a lot like Edwin. Neither could ever be called the brains of the group (of, if they can, the circumstances are pretty dire), but they're still good for a lot more than comic relief. They have their own useful skill sets, both of which include being the imposing one who'll take a hit if it will help the rest of the group keep going. Interestingly, Gumshoe is my favourite character in the series, and Edwin, while not quite up with the competition among all of my other characters, was good enough to receive one of my favourite names for a boy.

4: We Take Our Crimes Seriously: Lana Skye

While there may be an "Adrian" in the game, Lana is the one who reminds me of my own Adrian. Rather cold, rather outspoken when angry, and not terribly much range of facial expression overall. Both have more or less been criminals for a span not entirely voluntarily, but, more importantly, both defend their little sisters fiercely. They may not seem all that similar in, say, the severity of their crimes, but there's definitely a connection.

5: Arrogant Within Reason: Maximilian Galactica

While I still get the feeling that this is a little contrived, somehow I quickly identified Max with Harold. Although both have rather wild hair—Harold's is neon green and spiked—Harold isn't nearly as "fabulous" (nor does he overuse, or probably even use the word), he doesn't call anyone "sweetie," and he doesn't have any interest in magic tricks. Yet both are ambitious and competitive, with rivals in their own group (both of which end up losing their romantic interest battles to the formers). As far as I've gathered, both also come from large families that they don't talk about because they're busy with their current occupations and don't really want to talk about it, as non-traumatic as it may have been. I can't imagine Harold using any of the same poses as Max, and the former has a much more casual speech pattern overall, but somehow they seem alike. Oh, and both of them do their best to not go by their given names.

That's all I can think up for now, but, with the number of characters I have, I could have missed some really good ones. I could try for a second instalment of this if anyone's interested.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Lee's Island, Part 6

[The madness begins here.]

Part 6, in which the orphaned dialogue epidemic continues and readers can *probably* deduce who my least favourite character was.


"TenTen? Are you awake?" Sakura bent down into the tent. "Uh-huh," TenTen replied. She was staring out into one of the cracks in the tent. "I think it's going to rain today," she said. "Huh. I didn't notice all of those clouds," Sakura said. "If it is going to rain," she continued, "we'll need to cover up these gaps in the tent."
"Hey, guys?" TenTen responded. "Where did you find these giant leaves? We could use some more." Lee pondered for a moment. "Somewhere on the edge of the forest."
"Okay, everyone, let's go find some more."
"So, should we stay together or split up?" TenTen asked. "Definitely stay together," Sakura said. "If something attacks one of us, we'll need each other's help. Especially since TenTen is low on chakra."
"Are we agreed?"
"Then let's go." The four Leaf Village ninja walked to the forest.
"Found them yet?" TenTen said.
"I didn't find them, but these might do!" Everyone rushed over to where Sakura was standing. She was holding up some long strips of peeled bark. "They seem pretty waterproof," said Sakura. TenTen walked up and felt the bark. "Works for me. Let's head back." A boom split the air. "Uh-oh, everybody hurry! The storm is starting!" The ninja ran with shares of the bark. They reached their hut in no time. "Okay, come on, everybody! We need to secure the bark now!"
"Oh, no! We need some kelp to fasten it!"
"I got it!" Lee darted towards the shore. He returned in an instant with strands of kelp hanging from his fingertips. "You go ahead and secure it. I think I saw someone, so I will be right back," he said. "Okay, hurry, before the storm reaches us!" Sakura replied. Lee sprinted back to the shore.
He reached it shortly and realized his glimpse was correct: a boy was lying on the beach. Rock Lee gasped. It was Neji, and he wasn't breathing. "Neji? Neji? Neji!" No response, not even a breath. Then TenTen came over. "Oh my gosh, is that Neji?" Lee nodded. "And he is not breathing!"
"Have you checked his pulse?" Lee swallowed. "I am afraid to," he said.
"Here, I'll do it." TenTen placed her hand on Neji's neck. She drew back quickly. "He has no pulse!"
"No," Lee said. "I never got the chance to defeat him." TenTen sighed. "Well, I guess there's nothing we can do."
"Guys? You okay?" Sakura had joined the lineup. "Yeah," TenTen said, "but we can't say the same for Neji." Sakura looked at the Hyuga lying still on the ground. "Oh, no," she said. Lee looked up at her. "He is not breathing and he has no pulse. There's no way he will make it through the storm." There was a moment of silence. "Wait," Sakura said, "I have an idea."
"Remember that one girl? The one that helped TenTen? Maybe she could help."
"Oh, yeah! What was her name now?"
"It was Kikesu. Kikesu! Kikesu! Kikesu!" Sakura yelled into the air. "Yes?" called a voice from the rain. "Kikesu! We need your help. Can you revive Neji?" Kikesu appeared suddenly and examined the boy. "I'm sorry, I can't help him."
"What?!" yelled the three Leaf Village ninja. "Why not?"
"Do you remember when I said that I had to leave and save someone worthy?" Sakura replied, "Yes. Why?"
"Here's the thing: My abilities in the healing area are great, but to revive someone takes much energy. I can draw chakra from various places, but with the great amount of people that need saving," she inhaled,"My twin and I can't possibly revive them all. So my sister and I decided on rules for whom to save. Only the purest of heart, with no hint of evil in them, can be saved."
"You mean, Neji..." Sakura trailed off.
"Yes. He has far too much evil residing in him. If I use my chakra to revive him, I will not be able to revive the next person in need. And if it turns out that that person could have saved the world and Neji destroys it, everything will be in vain."
"Neji's not that bad!" TenTen yelled angrily.
"You can never tell when that much darkness is there as a child. Even if he is on the right side now, there's no way to tell where he will be later on."
"Please, can't you bend the rules just this once?" Tears brimmed in TenTen's eyes.
"I'm sorry, there's no way I can. So I must bid you farewell. May luck be with you." And just like that, Kikesu disappeared into the rain. "It is getting a lot harder; maybe we should go back in." Sakura sniffled. "Okay, let's go. Naruto's probably going nuts by now!" They ran back to their makeshift hut.
"Finally! It took you forever! What happened, anyway?" Naruto said. "It was Neji. And he..." Sakura paused.
"Died." Naruto jumped straight up. "What?! You mean Neji-"
"Shut up! All of you!" TenTen's voice was shaking. "Don't say anything else about it! Just let the rain wash him away and let us be rid of the memory."
"Sheesh," Naruto muttered. "Hey, will someone get something to eat?"
"Naruto, I am as hungry as you are."
"Fat chance!" Rock Lee and Naruto were snarling at each other. "Hey, quit it, both of you! Can't you see TenTen needs a little peace right now?!" TenTen rolled over on her leaf. "Thank you. Now, if you don't mind, I'm going to rest for a minute. Not much we can do when it's raining."
"Mmm-k. Hey Sakura, want to-"
"Don't want to hear it, Naruto! Besides, TenTen's right. We should all rest while we can."
"Okay, fine," Naruto grumbled. "Aw, man, not you, too, Bushy Brow?!"
"Naruto, just shut up so we can all sleep," Sakura said. Naruto mumbled continuously under his breath.
"Fine! I'll be quiet! See if I care!" Naruto crossed his arms, facing away from the others. A couple of moments passed.
"What?! You mean this was your plan all along?!"
"Naruto!" Sakura jumped up and whacked him upside the head.
"Come on, Naruto, you probably need rest whether you think so or not."
"Okay, whatever. Just don't snore this time."
"All of you just shut up," TenTen said. Eventually, all of the Leaf ninja were asleep in their makeshift hut.
Lee was the first to wake up. By then it had stopped raining. He yawned and walked out of the tent. The sand was wet, and the night had come. "I guess I will do my shift first," he said. "I sure could use something to eat, though. I wonder if there is any more of that purple ivy? No, I shouldn't. They could be poisonous. Maybe I could catch some fish?" He sighed. "I couldn't get anything to spark if I catch one. Is there anything to eat around here?!" His stomach grumbled loudly, and he groaned. "There has to be something to eat. Maybe I could sneak in and look at Sakura's scroll to find something that isn't poisonous. Yeah, I'll try that." He walked quietly into the hut and looked around for the survival scroll. He grabbed it and walked into the forest."Okay, I shall find something to eat," he said, opening up the scroll. He walked around the grove looking at the plants in the scroll and the ones in front of him. "Yes!" he said, coming across a tree that had red leaves with pointed tips, three on each leaf, and bore small yellow fruits. "And only the fruits are edible," he read. "Well, I will try them out." He plucked one of the fruits from the tree and bit into it. "This tastes horrible!" he said."Who cares? I am starving!" He ate fruit after fruit until he was satisfied. "Blech! That tasted awful, but it was worth it!" He walked back to the shack and took watch.
As anyone could predict, Naruto's stomach woke him up next. "Man, I'm hungry," he grumbled. Naruto walked outside where Lee was doing squats. Naruto crept up behind Lee, so close he could hear Lee saying One-thirty-one. One-thirty-two.
"Hey, Bushy Brow, what are you doing out here?" Lee jumped at Naruto's arrival. "Oh, nothing, really. I woke up, so I thought I would take first watch."
"Is there anything to eat around here?"
"Uh-huh. I found these fruits that taste-" He stopped and smiled. "Really great! You want some?"
"Yeah! Where are they?"
"Follow me!" Lee led Naruto to the spot where he had found the awful tasting fruit. "Here they are!" he said with a grin.
"All right!" Naruto grabbed a bunch of them and crammed them into his mouth. He instantly spat them out. "Hey! I thought you said these tasted good!" Lee was laughing hard.
"Sorry, Naruto, I could not help it. By the way, they were the only edible ones I could find. Enjoy!" he said with a snicker. Lee walked back to the natural house. Naruto walked back and went to sleep.
"I have an idea," Lee said to himself. He then labored away at a secret project.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

New Fiction Idea #44

Basically Eat Your Heart Out with a big step away from the fandom, combined with a dream of which I remember frustratingly little.

Working Title: Eat Your Heart Out

Genre: Horror/Suspense/Fantasy/Dystopian (still sorting that out)

Protagonist: Emilee, an Other who's new to the regenerative immortality thing. She's a little shy but doesn't have much trouble trusting people within reason.

Other Main Characters: Jason, who believes that they were given their powers in order to stop the war.
Ian, Alexandra's former boyfriend and much less of a pleasant optimist than Jason. He keeps most of his bitter thoughts to himself, though.

Antagonist: Alexandra, a former member of the group who was generally the kindest and most optimistic of the lot. Once the plot gets going, though, she's a maniac literally after the hearts of her comrades and others of their kind.

Setting: A war-torn, near-future America, somewhere in the Midwest. Emilee and her friends are Others, humans who have at some point in their lives gained the ability to regenerate quickly after injuries, including lethal ones. They hide out in a nice/large but run-down and utility-less house.

Plot: After her younger brother is killed by one of the Others, Alexandra cracks. Drawing on a legend concerning eating the hearts of one of her kind being the only way to kill them, she commands Ian to secure the heart of the one most closely responsible for her brother's death. Upon eating the heart, however, she gains the Other's power and becomes a bit unhinged. By the time she's eliminated everyone at the scene of her brother's death, she's too mad and power-hungry to stop. The Others and her old friends alike try to stay alive, and Emilee's group also tries to find a way to bring her back.

Point of View: Third person, limited to Emilee.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Yet Another Compilation of Interesting Words

These posts may not be the most interesting to read (or, too consuming of dictionary-page-flipping time to fully enjoy), but, well, there's still more to the series, and I might as well keep it going.

rectitudinous                                quittance                                  pollywog
elytron                                          xeric                                        droll
gormless                                       haberdashery                           spang
phosphene                                    shilly-shally                             whangdoodle
inveigh                                         preterition                                 melliferous
invective                                       daven                                       quacksalver
nimiety                                          swivet                                      allochthonous
glom                                             gaumless                                  darg
eupeptic                                        impawn                                    pasquinade
imbricate                                       splenetic                                   mordacious
pococurante                                  percipient                                  wuther
abecedarian                                   chuffed                                     lunker
wangle                                          verisimilitude                            wonk
obnubilate                                     hellion                                       codger

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Failure is Always an Option

While I've already talked about abandoning stories, there are more ways to fall short of the goal than that.

Take this blog, for instance. It was created to expand my audience, but it seems to have done just the opposite. I get relatively consistent feedback from two people, both of whom I knew before starting this blog. I haven't had a comment from another passerby in months. My overall hits have more or less increased since the blog started, but the vast majority of these hits/referrals come from spam sites that hope to make me click their links in the Stats page so they can give me a computer virus. Not exactly what I would call popularity.

So, in all honesty, this blog is a failure. I was going to give it time, but it's been a year, and my monthly hits aren't even increasing. If anything, they've gone down due to the slower update pace—but I'm too busy to do much about that. I've already eaten through my three-post buffer, and I'm running low on post ideas, too.

That's not to say I intend to shut this down. I'm just trying to figure out what I'm doing here. If at first you don't succeed, redefine success, right? Maybe I can't get any new readers with this. I'm still letting a few that I have know what's going on, and I'm still keeping track of ideas. Writing prompts are a nice challenge sometimes (in fact, it took the last post for me to write anything after I finished Phoenix Wright: Ace Tribute). And rambling about writing has its advantages, too. I'm not entirely sure what, but I've never been one for a lot of introspection, and at least I'm writing something instead of playing video games or other such things that aren't productive in a straightforward way. Perhaps this blog itself isn't really that productive, but... It's still worth something, right?

Really, I'm not sure. I just hope that the few of us involved in this enjoy it enough to justify its other failures. I'm sure we can figure something out.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Prompt Writing #5

Here, have a little emo excerpt. It's about the only interesting thing Cora has going for her before she was in circumstances where she wouldn't be able to show up at her house for this prompt.

Prompt [Yeah Writers blog]:

"Your character opens the door to their house to a stranger claiming that they are siblings. What happens next? You decide."

Randomly Selected Story and Character: Chemists, Cora


Cora had only just dumped her bookbags on the living room floor when she saw the boy on the couch. With bowl-cut hair a little lighter a brown than hers, he gripped the bottom edge of the cushion and kicked his short legs, making himself bob on the springs.

"Oh, hey, Cora!" he chimed, waving with his left hand. The orange cloth of his oversized jacket slunk down to his elbow. "How was your day?"

The worst one I've ever had.

"Get out of my house, punk. No idea how you got in or what you think you're doing here, but—"

"Hey!" He pouted. "That's no way to speak to your little brother! I'm gonna tell on you."

"Excuse me?" She let her cold stare rest on him. "You're the one trespassing. If anybody's 'gonna tell on' someone else, it sure isn't going to be you. Now get out before I kick you out."

The boy leapt to his feet. "But, Cora!"

"Shut up!" She ground her teeth, hunching and forcing her fists into the front pocket of her black hoodie. She hadn't taken it off since she'd found it that afternoon, so she knew well enough there wasn't anything in there. "I have had it with everyone today, and I am not going to be whined at by some psychotic little boy, too!"

Still snarling, she took a step towards him. "Now, get out."

He shrank back. "A-are you okay?"

"No, I'm not okay! And you're not going to be, either, if you don't beat it!"

It took a second of glaring at the boy before she registered the tears running down her face. Swearing, she pulled up her hood a little more and looked down.

"C-Cora?" He timidly tugged at the wrist of her hoodie. When she didn't respond, he choked. "I-I'm sorry! I'm Vash's little brother—I-I was just joking around... Don't cry!" He wrapped both hands around her wrist. "I-I wasn't trying to be mean or anything..."

Taking a deep breath, Cora shook her hand out of his grasp and wiped her face. "Good for you. Don't try to be mean when you grow up and get a girlfriend, too, huh?"

She folded her arms, frowning down at him. Vash's brother, was it? Why had she thought he'd only had a sister...? Well. It was hardly important. 

"Run back home, all right?" She kept her voice stiff. "I have homework, and I don't need anybody's little brother distracting me."

Now, a certain someone's older brother distracting her... was unavoidable. 

No—no, it was. He was done with her. She would be done with him. The end. No more Moe. No more stupid bull**** about her looks and getting jealous and—right. No more of it. Homework. She had homework. Some pretty nasty thermochemistry junk, to boot...


She didn't drag her gaze away from her backpack. "What?"

He was hugging her from behind before she knew he was even approaching.

"Do you want a little brother?" His voice was muffled in her hoodie, the dummy. "Just for today? You look lonely."

She stiffened, shutting her eyes and letting out a long breath. "I don't need anyone. Go back home before it gets dark."

He let go. "Okay..." Trudging along in front of her, he went to the still-open front door and stopped. He looked over his shoulder at her and then turned back towards the outside.

"...Can you make tea?"

"Huh?" He whipped around.

Cora lowered herself onto the couch, dragging her bookbag with her. "You can stay long enough to make me some tea if you really feel the burning need to do so."

"Okay! I can do that!" He ran up behind the couch and leaned over it, putting his face near hers. "Where's the kitchen?"

She sighed and pointed him to the right door. "Don't break anything."

"Yes, ma'am!" He scurried towards the entryway. "I mean, no, ma'am. I won't break anything!"

"Okay." Setting her book in her lap, she paused. "What was your name?"

Already in the kitchen, he peeked around the doorframe. "Noah."

She grunted in response. "Well, the less you say to me, the longer you get to stay, Noah." She pulled out a pencil and twirled it between her fingers. "If I'm going to have a little brother, he's going to be well-trained."

"Okay!" He stepped back in the doorway. "I—" He suddenly froze up, wide-eyed. Cora checked the door—it was still open, but it hung open all the time without anyone barging it—before looking back at Noah. He made a motion to zip up his lips, smiled, and hurried for the kettle sitting by the stove.

Ah. If only all boys would do that.

Monday, January 13, 2014

New Fiction Idea #43

You know they're good names when spellcheck doesn't know any of them.

Working Title: They That Swim

Genre: Fantasy

Protagonist: Chlodovech, A young man who is undergoing some training to be a a metalworker. He's prone to pick fights, though only with those he deems to be at a similar level of prowess.

Other Main Characters: Folcher, Chlodovech's constant companion. More impressive in stature than the protagonist, he's meek, easily embarrassed, and loyal. He's a tanner by trade.
Hulderic, the mentor figure. He's going grey and looks older than he is, but he's still strong and a strategist. A refugee from a war with the neighbouring nation (from which most people have moved on), he has a personal grudge against They That Swim and is, coincidentally, a widower.
Hildegard, the object of Chlodovech's affections. She's pretty but heavyset, and, since she comes from a richer family, he doesn't have much hope in pursuing her. She's a talented seamstress and witty but not terribly good at anything else.

Antagonist: Braith, a TTS with a serious (and typical) grudge against humans. She is behind a recent string of disappearances, and, while she doesn't do a lot of her work personally, she'll never just sit back and manage the TTSs under her.

Setting: Standard fantasy-type medieval Europe such and such. The main magical creatures are They That Swim (mermaid-like), They That Fly (human-like with feathers for hair and winged arms), and They That Dig (like anthropomorphised moles). Humans have serious issues with all of them, but TTF mostly keep to themselves, and TTD are actually quite helpful when given the chance. But, due to the extraordinary powers of TTS (such as fountain-of-youth type effects that can be harnessed), humans have had a long history of exploiting them, and they have become quite an enemy, few as they are by now.

Plot: A recent string of disappearances along the coastal area is finally linked to TTS, but Chlodovech doesn't see sufficient reason to involve himself until Hildegard and her family go missing. He sets off to find the TTSs responsible and save her (and the others, too, if he has to).

Point of View: Third person, either omniscient or limited to Chlodovech.

Also, happy 200th post!

Friday, January 10, 2014

The World of Man in the Blade

While it's more or less an abandoned idea at this point, Man in the Blade has really entertained me in its run, and I'd like to share a bit of the worldbuilding with you.

As far as basic location goes, the story takes place in The Territories, an area similar to the American "Wild West." Overall, population is sparse, but most settlers are in small towns. A bounty system is maintained by the head government off in the east, and Hora's town is basically taken care of justice-wise by an organised group with Arck at its head and The Gentleman as his second-in-command (although they're prone to inventing a few murderers and such to meet their quotas when crime drops). Gangs are an issue, but they're not particularly big on recruitment in Hora's town.

And now for the fun stuff.

The word "Blade" technically refers to an inhabited weapon and its inhabitant, but it's often casually used to refer to the spirit alone. In order to be inhabited, a weapon must be at least 75% iron, sharp enough to draw blood from the average human forearm, and a volume of at least 8 cubic centimetres. (They've been well-studied, in part due to the cooperation of Blades like Cahokia.) Aside from that, it can be in any form—sword, dagger, sickle, something sharp but not typically thought of as a weapon. The weapon does not have to be under any particular circumstances of location, blessing, or any other things in order to become a host for a spirit.

When a weapon is inhabited, humans may communicate with the Blade by assuming a "Blade Stance" (feet spread a bit, back straight, Blade held horizontally at eye level). After entering this stance (if the Blade is willing to let others in), the weapon user will be transported into the Blade World. Blade World are different according to the different style of the weapon—Ur's is desert-like, while Cahokia's is forest-like—and a larger weapon corresponds to a Blade World with a greater area. The Blade spirit takes up residence here, although it can still view the outside world.

In battle, each combination of Blade and weapon (if a weapon is shattered or somehow made to longer be able to house a spirit, the spirit will flee to another weapon) can use a unique Veneficus spell. The usefulness of more typical spells varies depending on the style of weapon and strength of the Blade.

Blade and wielder can also undergo a process called Internalisation. While the Blade technically remains attached to its weapon, it also fuses with the wielder. The wielder gains access to any physical (chi) or magical (aura) strength that the Blade had as a human. The two also gain the ability to communicate in all situations, and the wielder often experiences appropriate hallucinations of the Blade standing/sitting nearby as they converse.

That's at least a good outline, but, if there's anything else you'd like to know, go ahead and ask.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Fragments VII

And so the many instalments continue.

  • A short story based on a ticket giver at the front of a pay-to-park car park, focusing on the glimpses into lives he sees
  • A fantasy world where the main magical creatures are (appropriately) deemed They That Swim, They That Burrow, and They That Fly
  • Time travel
  • "Wicked prophets kill by speaking his name" (from "One More" by Journey)
  • An underground/cave setting
  • A character named Billy Rubin
  • "Boy, that was fun, being left in the trunk." (overhead in my area of residence)
  • A character named Cupric
  • Something mystical or whimsical dealing with the timbre skeletons of houses under construction
  • A fantastical equivalent of a dog show
  • "Death moves in with you as your roommate. You can ask Death to kill anyone. But Death will rarely do any work. He is very eccentric. He will listen to heavy metal extremely loud at the most random of times." (seen on a website)

Saturday, January 4, 2014

He Said, She Said

Speech tags are quite the troublesome creatures. Some people say not to use them at all; some say to only use "say"; some say to use whatever as long as you don't add adverbs.

I'm still a little conflicted on this point myself. I would do a study of books I read to see what techniques they use, but... I've never actually noticed. I don't know whether that means it's the right way of doing it or it just doesn't matter to me as a reader, though.

Although I do admit I have somewhat of a stance. I don't remember what story it was, but some time ago I decided to never use the word "said." Not by replacing speech tags with more sideways attributes, but by using "growled," "muttered," and so on. That did not go well. I agree with the idea that these sorts of tags should be used sparingly, and only if the tone of the speaker isn't obvious in the words themselves. Sometimes I have to debate between using such speech tags or using italics, exclamation points, etc. in the quote. I'm still not sure how to resolve those.

I don't like the idea of never using speech tags, though. I do try to avoid them sometimes, when I'd rather break up some dialogue ("I don't know." He leaned back, his head thumping against the wall. "I've just about had it, myself."), but I don't think this needs to be a golden rule. It's nice to have "beats" like that, as I've heard them called, but sometimes it leads to noting every time someone rearranges his legs or something, and it's just a lot of words without meaning. I'd rather throw a few "say"s in there than put out such boring beats all of the time.

How about you? Do you take much notice of speech tags in your reading or writing?

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Fiction Idea #42

Although the character was floating in my head for a while after hearing a waitress say "I'm [name], and I'll be taking care of you today," her first line didn't show up until a while later: "I sign things Jennifer, I go by Jenny, and everyone calls me Dinah. Take your pick."

Working Title: Midnight at the Iston Diner

Genre: Mystery/Fantasy

Protagonist: Jenny, a 27-year-old woman with frizzy red hair she keeps in a loose bun. She smokes—although never during work hours—and is a little haggish in a sweet way, if that makes any sense. She runs and works at the bar of the Iston Diner, and she takes her responsibility to her customers and her staff very seriously. She has some ice-manipulating powers, although she keeps them well-hidden.

Other Main Characters: Charlie, the chef. He's a pretty big guy, both because of fat and muscle, and he's not very sociable. He does stick by his friends, though, and he makes a mean chicken fry. He has the ability to thoroughly disguise one person for about eight hours at a time.
Les, a waiter who will occasionally help with food preparation if there's a lot going on. He's sweet but has a guilt complex and spends a lot of time daydreaming about a certain girl back home. He doesn't really have any "powers," but he isn't quite human and relies on Charlie to keep him undercover.
There are a few more on the staff and some customers to be noted, although they haven't shown themselves yet.

Antagonist: Unknown, but assumed to be one of the customers.

Setting: A particular night at the Iston Diner, a small restaurant in a small town that gets a little business from agritourism but not much else. It's modern day, though, so there's plenty of communication if, say,  someone who doesn't fit in with the humans needs to get a job.

Plot: The late evening/early night patrons of the Iston Diner—residents and passersby alike—have been inside the building for a while when one tourist wanders off to the restroom area. A few minutes later, Les discovers him dead from a stab wound. The local police being somewhat of a joke, Jenny decides to freeze the occupants inside until she and her friends can find the culprit and keep him or her from harming any more customers. But it won't be easy for them to do so without blowing their covers...

Point of View: Third person, limited to Jenny.

I'm still a little unsure—it seems like this won't be long enough for a whole novel—but we'll see what happens when I get to it.

I'm also starting to think a version of M might sneak in, and maybe a character or two from Suture.