Thursday, February 27, 2014

Fragments VIII

Insert a witty seven word phrase here
  • A character with Redd White's speech pattern (it's ridiculously fun to write, although it takes a lot of thesaurus time)
  • A character with a severed corpus collosum
  • An REM behaviour disorder episode or two being a major plot point
  • Someone trying to repay a large, literal debt in an interesting fashion
  • A video game storyline
  • The one fellow from school who is always wearing headphones and singing along loudly to music regardless of where he is or who else is present (he also has a girlfriend who isn't much taller than her guitar)
  • The protagonist has actually set up the entire injustice behind his/her quest just for the chance to actually save someone in a significant way
  • The phrase "sugar and brain juice" in reference to what's being burned in a mental effort (said by a test prep speaker at the health sciences club)
  • More butlers
  • A magic user who has to permanently fuse one of his joints with every spell

Monday, February 24, 2014

Dream Journal #18

Been a while, eh?

14 Feb—15 Feb

I had driven myself out to a shopping centre type of building. First I went to dinner at an excessively British restaurant with waiters that would hover over me and even sit at the empty chair across from me. They had some sort of fried cheese curd appetiser that I ordered and, after finding nothing satisfactory on the menu, I ordered fish and chips. I ended up eating the appetiser with the nosy waiter, who vehemently corrected me when I tried to refer to it as anything other than "curds of cheese."

After that, I went next door to a nail salon. The lobby was a wide open space with a large, three-sided counter behind which the receptionists stood. No nail stations were in sight, but there were a few chairs for waiting in the lobby, and two female, Asian employees were talking to me. I was in a bit of a rush so I wouldn't have to drive back in the dark, but whatever we were doing took an extremely long time. At one point, one of the girls held up a very shiny, large, golden key that was attached via a sparkling rope to something that looked like a square pocket. She said it brought up memories and guessed which movie it was in (a movie in which both I and the other worker had starred), but in fact it was from a different movie with us in it.

When I was finally finished, it was 10:00 at night, and I was extremely distressed about this. But when I stepped outside, it was still bright as day. I was extremely confused. Getting in my car, I backed up into another parking spot (I had been in one at the curb).

I came back to the parking lot a bit later to find some adults leading quite a few costumed children through the parking lot. I hurried to a large, black pickup with heavily tinted windows that was apparently my car and got inside. In my haste, I had entered the left backseat, and Emily*, who was in the passenger seat waiting, gave me a look. We watched the children as they made their way across the concrete and laughed at some of the clumsy ones.

At that moment, Kasey** was in the driver's seat, and she rolled down her window to holler at the kids. She joked about running them down and got enough of a response to decide to go through with it. Everyone in the car was laughing as the children continued to run, making it to the edge of the concrete, where grass curved up in a bit of a hill. Worried, I yelled at Kasey to not crest the hill, and, once we had made it almost to the top, she let the pickup start sliding back down the hill.

Then I was driving, and suddenly we were on a dirt road. On either side of us were rows of deep green crops in dark soil. We were utterly lost. I came to the abrupt ending of the dirt road before asking the others if they had any idea what direction we were going. I then looked up at my car's compass, which was indeed that of my real car, to find that it read "Y." Knowing that this somehow meant "west" and we wanted to go east, I turned around and drove for a minute before we were back to the car park, at one of the small street-like exits to the main street.

At this point we were clearly no longer in a car, although we still behaved as if we were. As we came up to the intersection with the larger road, I quickly asked the others in the "car" if we were supposed to turn right or not, and I was told that we were. I stopped just before turning and looked over the main road, which was covered in a layer of slush. Just ahead of us were two very tiny traffic cones and a crumpled water bottle in the near lane. A small white electric car drove on by before it got to the spot just ahead of us, at which point the car promptly flipped onto its left side and skidded to the next-nearest lane, where it stayed. Katya***, one of the two girls with me at that point, told me that this was because the stuff in the road was hazardous. Another car crashed in the same spot in a similar fashion before I checked the oncoming traffic and quickly swung my foot out ahead. I kicked the bottle and a good scoop of slush out onto the grass. After quite a few more cars passed, we finally turned right and headed home.

*My roommate. I drive her to church, so it's not unheard of for her to be in my passenger seat.

**An old friend from church and the neighbourhood.

***One of the girls who went to Japan and China with me last summer.

Friday, February 21, 2014

New Fan Fiction Idea #24

While it's a little hard to imagine doing a more traditional Phoenix Wright case in fan fiction form, it's still something I'd like to try.

Of course, I can't stray too far from my usual type of writing...

Working Title: The Tortured Turnabout

Fandom: Phoenix Wright/Ace Attorney

Genre Tags: Mystery/Horror?

Length: Multichapter

Protagonist: I'm not entirely sure yet if it's really Phoenix or Gumshoe. It might turn out to be pretty equally split between the two.

Other Main Characters: Maya, Maggey, and Edgeworth.

Antagonist: Spoiler! (The murderer. Edgeworth could also be considered an antagonist for at least part of it, I suppose, although he certainly wouldn't be "the bad guy.")

Setting: In the general Phoenix Wright-verse. The body is found in a botanical park in July. It always seems weird to try to squeeze fan fiction cases between those of canon, but this probably takes place in the middle of the third game or shortly after it (I think it may also have to be after Ace Attorney Investigations, but I haven't played that yet, so...). I might not make it that explicit, honestly.

Plot: A month after Gumshoe manages to escape a torture situation (location unrecorded in the haste; culprit masked but male and interested in utterly destroying Edgeworth's reputation), a corpse is found in the park. Maggey, who had recently gained employment at the park and appears to have been the only one there that night, is arrested before the corpse is found to have the exact same scars that Gumshoe obtained a month prior. Phoenix does his best to defend Maggey as the true location of death is found and the real culprit appears to be the torturer himself. Gumshoe does his best to be of assistance without breaking down from all of it.

Point of View: Alternating between first person (Phoenix) and third person, limited to Gumshoe.

I was pretty surprised that, unlike many of my other mini-ideas for Phoenix Wright cases, I actually got past the initial murder in my head-plotting... and then got all the way to the end. I still don't know all of the details, but this is an idea that could eventually happen if I want it to.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

This Month's Vocabulary

A continuation of my interesting word posts.

pratfall                                          rutilant                                   logy
malversation                                 effulgence                             snood
scrum                                            blighter                                 yawp
edacity                                          fribble                                   scabrous
poetaster                                       bushwa                                 clangor
quillet                                           dreck                                     waif
finagle                                          gibbous                                 doggerel
auspicate                                      serotinal                                 habiliment
peplum                                         anfractuous                            dissilient
orrery                                           fleer                                       pilose
albedo                                          gangle                                    loblolly
bluestocking                                picaro                                     tittup
snollygoster                                  trepan                                    blowzy

Saturday, February 15, 2014

At a Tremendous Pace

What's a better idea—taking a story at 2,500 words per day or 175?

Those were/are my average statistics for Phoenix Wright: Ace Tribute and Mayflies.

In some ways, it doesn't seem like I really had a choice. Ace Tribute absolutely demanded to be written to an extent I've honestly never experienced before. While my first NaNoWriMo novel (1,667 words per day) was rambling, inefficient, and confused, somehow this fan fiction turned out to be my pride and joy despite the frantic pace. Perhaps that's not the right way to phrase it. Is the pace really the independent variable here, or is it just a reliable measure of how darn inspired I was? I didn't set out to go at any particular pace at all. It just turned out to be over 7,000 words in the first three days, and it never slowed down that much until the very end. I honestly still don't understand how that story happened, and how it turned out all right. I may need an entire other post to try to work it out.

On the other end of the daily word count spectrum is Mayflies. Upon the start of the writing period in the 2YN class, I assumed an 80,000-word story and carefully calculated the rate I needed. My main error was assuming that I would take it up for NaNoWriMo last November, which I did not (in order to finish The Long and Winding Road instead, although that in turn ended up taking a backseat to Ace Tribute). I bumped up the word count from 160 or so to 175, and I may keep nudging it up. Usually I hit about 190 a day, anyway. The tiny goal, like most things, has both good and bad points. On the positive side, it's barely enough work to seem like a formidable obstacle when I'm not so inspired, so I'm able to go at it pretty steadily. On the other hand, my progress is slow. I don't mind terribly much, though. The charm of the story disappeared somewhere in the extensive world-building section of the 2YN class, so I find I'm not taking it that seriously as something I fully intend to publish. I'm just going to keep hacking away at it and seeing if it turns out all right.

It seems like inspiration is really the controlling factor when it comes to writing pace, but, at the same time, I can't always refuse to write when I don't feel like it. Admittedly, I haven't been dedicating much time to my stories lately because I've been busy with life-related things, but I still need some sense of discipline. How much can I make myself write before it seems like a chore? What do I consider a reasonable pace? How can I get motivated to write at that pace?

It's different for every story. Ace Tribute didn't require any outside motivation. Some of my other fan fictions just needed a few reviews to keep me chugging along. Mayflies just keeps going for the sake of all the time I've spent on it, and the idea that somewhere there's a worthwhile story to tell. I can't hope to be inspired every moment, but I can't just write 1,000 words of a story and kick it to the curb forever. I seem to have done that with Chasers and Piracy Cruise Lines, but I'm hoping to bring them back to the surface when I have few enough projects going that I can actually focus on them instead of just experimenting with the general idea.

What's your usual writing pace, if you have one? How heavily does it reply on discipline, or inspiration?

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

New Fiction Idea #45

Partially inspired by my recent obsession with Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective, and a strange recurring daydream where a girl cuts her hand in the middle of slicing her throat open coolly but dubiously.

Working Title: Ghost Brigade

Genre: Fantasy, or maybe Supernatural?

Protagonist: Becky, an 18-year-old woman with blue eyes and dark, curly hair. She's a little too big to be considered slim, and she's below average height. She has a general depressive aura about her, is very prone to snarking, and has few friends outside the Internet. She's exceptionally talented in the detection of ghosts, although she tends not to pay much more attention to them than she does living people (that's not much, by the way), and it turns out she also has significant powers within the ghost world.

Other Main Character: George, a 21-year-old (30 years dead) ghost who is a total dweeb. He would have quite an impressive stature if he had the muscle to go with his bone structure, but, as it is, he just comes off as barrel-chested but lanky. He's very well-intentioned and determined but generally inept and not very intelligent. He doesn't have any unusual abilities in either the normal or ghost planes.

Antagonist: A serial killer, although not because of mental instability (at least, not that kind).

Setting: A modern-day urban area. Becky lives in an apartment with her parents (it isn't typically haunted). There are both ghost and normal planes, but they're technically the same world, just inhabited by ghosts and the living, respectively. The ghost world's appearance is sort of a negative of the normal world. Some ghosts can manipulate objects or people, but most can't. All can be seen by living humans at some occasions, mostly depending on the human.

Plot: George is determined to stop an upcoming chain of murders, but he's all but powerless. He manages, after some time, to establish a connection with Becky and, knowing her powers, convinces her to join him in the ghost world. Under the impression that her life is going nowhere, anyway, she takes the chance, and George manages to pull her spirit into the ghost world before it can get any farther. She retains the ability to reanimate her body (although she has to do herself in if she wants to go back to the ghost world) and can also influence quite a few things as a ghost. George does his best to lay out the situation he's discovered, and they work together (okay, Becky does most of the actual work) to save the lives in danger and avoid those in the ghost world trying to stop them.

Point of View: First person (Becky).

And I will conclude with a brief spurt of dialogue that hit me (starting with Becky):

"Hang on, can ghosts hurt each other?"
"Well, no, not normally. You're different, though, so you might be able to."
"Oh, so if I did this..."
"Owowow! What—Th-that wasn't very nice!"
"Well, you've been dead for 30 years, right? Isn't pain supposed to help you feel like you're alive again or something?"
"Pain hurts, though..."

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Stepping Into the Diner

Somehow, I found myself starting on my Iston Diner mystery the other day. I know I had decided it would be third-person, but it turned out first-person instead. That's nothing too odd for a mystery, right?

So here, have some of my initial exploration of the story.


I slap a hand on the kitchen sill. “Draw one in the dark, and get me an Eve with a lid on.”

A netted mass of blonde curls pops up on the other side of the wall, dragging a frowning, angular face with it. “The coffeemaker is broken, Jennifer.”

“You kidding me?” I check over my shoulder for any set-down menus or impatient faces before I turn back to Charlie. “It’s starting to get late, you know.”
“What do you expect me to do? I’m a cook, not a mechanic.”
“You coulda called somebody to fix it.” No sooner are the words out of my mouth than I realize the folly. Charlie, talking to somebody he doesn’t absolutely have to. His home television was broken for months because he never tried to get a technician. It’d probably still be broken if I hadn’t visited him.
He gives me a look with the appropriate amount of disbelief before I turn back around. We have all of three booths full and nobody at the bar, so I shouldn’t be missed terribly.
“Les!” I holler.
In the middle of swabbing a table that hasn’t been used recently, the waiter pauses and perks up. The kid of the place, Les is as tall as Charlie but not nearly as stocky. He’s a cute thing, too, but he’s taken.
“I’m gonna take care of something,” I tell him while his huge eyes are on me. “Cover for me.”
He nods quickly. “Yes, ma’am.”
He buffs the rest of the table at record speed before tucking the rag away and hurrying to check on the customers. I don’t have to watch him for long before I decide to give fixing the coffeemaker myself a shot. If Charlie hasn’t fixed it, it’s nothing simple, but I bet I can figure it out. If not, I’ll have to dial up Rick at his house, since he’ll be back from work by now. He wouldn’t mind a quick job after-hours, though, if it comes down to it. 
Whatever way this goes, this thing had better get fixed quick. I’m not keeping Jerry waiting on his coffee for long. If there’s anybody I’m not going to keep waiting, it’s him. Won’t get a lick of a tip otherwise. As frequent a customer as he is, he still hasn’t really come to like any of us. He doesn’t stand for any small talk. On that note, he might secretly be a pal of Charlie’s. I wouldn’t be surprised.
Slipping through the low saloon doors of the bar area, I ram my shoulder into the swinging door of the kitchen and charge in. Charlie doesn’t pay me much mind as I head straight for the white contraption at his right. Sure enough, it’s plugged in but doing nothing. Poor, abused old thing. Although if it would work a little better, we wouldn’t be slapping it so much.
I roll up my sleeves and start taking the machine apart. Nothing seems dented any more than usual, so I might just have to clean the parts.
"Crap dang!" I nearly scrape my wrist on some wiring before I look up at the kitchen window. Les is peeking through.
“Somebody calling for me?”
“Sorry.” If he had cat ears, they’d be drooping. “Dessie wants her Dr. Pepper, but—” his voice drops to a whisper—“the ice machine is jammed.”
I pull my hands away from the disarticulated coffeemaker and wipe them on my apron. “I’ll fix it when I’m done here, I guess. Throw me a cup.”
Les slips a tumbler across the sill just as Charlie puts a slice of apple pie up there. The waiter checks over his shoulder before reaching for the plate.
“Ah, ah, ah!” I flick my left hand at him, although I can’t really reach him from here. It’s still enough to make him jump. “You’re not taking that over yet. Jerry’ll throw a fit if he ‘has’ to eat before he gets his joe.”
“Now.” I wrap my right hand around the tumbler and gaze at the inside until ice crystals start to appear. I do my best to get them roughly ice-cube-shaped, but they’re still a little spiky. They’ll be fine once the soda hits, though.
I offer the cup to Les. “Get the kid her M.D.”
He takes it with a nod of thanks and scurries off.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

New Fan Fiction Idea #23

It seems like I haven't been so full of ideas recently, especially pertaining to fan fiction. It's probably a combination of switching main fandoms and the general lack of inspiration after writing an 80,000-word fan fiction in a month.

Working Title: Turnabout Escape

Fandom: Phoenix Wright/Ace Attorney

Genre Tags: Mystery/Horror or Suspense

Length: Multichapter, probably under 50k

Protagonist: Phoenix Wright.

Other Main Characters: Maya Fey, Miles Edgeworth, and Detective Gumshoe.

Antagonist: So far unknown. They're very mean, though.

Setting: Timewise, somewhere in the vicinity of the original trilogy. As far as place, most of the initial trouble and later investigation takes place in a small complex. At its centre is a heavily fortified room, square in layout (aside from the opening into the sink-and-toilet bathroom) and empty of all furniture but an ordinary domed ceiling light. The door is thick metal and opens by sliding when an appropriate signal comes from outside the room. Outside of the room is a labyrinthine, concentric series of empty hallways that lead to a thick-glass-lined exterior wall with no visible doors. The building is hidden in the woods but not far from a few villages.

Plot: The main characters are all more or less assaulted while going about their daily lives, and they all awake to find themselves trapped in the inner room. In the centre of the square is a knife and a piece of paper informing them that no one will be able to leave until one of them is dead. One way or the other, some of them make it out and set out to discover the one behind it all.

Point of View: First person (Phoenix).

The summary here isn't that great, but I'd hate to spoil the story.

I've been toying with the idea for a while without really considering it valid; first, they found a way out much too quickly; in the second version, they took far too much time doing nothing. At this point, I think I have a good idea for the timing and who gets out.

Monday, February 3, 2014

In an Inking Mood

As sort of a companion to my blabbering about writing and other art forms, I wanted to point out one idea in particular. If writing is like drawing, then I believe it follows:

Editing is like inking.

I don't find myself drawing as much as I used to, but, for finished drawings, I basically go through three steps: sketching, inking, and colouring. I would usually have several sketches and ideas floating around at the same time, so I could either go sketch or ink when I felt like drawing. I inherently enjoyed making the sketches more, because it was undeniably a creative process.

At the same time, I didn't want to just keep a bunch of pencil sketches rotting in a drawer, so inking was still a necessary thing to do. Usually I would still put it off until I was in the right mood—usually a little less excited but still artistic enough to have an interest in the drawings. This was also when I wasn't terribly inspired to create anything new, so why not go over the old stuff?

Writing is the same way. The actual writing is the exciting and creative part, but I'm not always in the mood for that, and the first draft isn't complete (as much as I love posting serially). So I still have to go back over what I've made, strengthening the needed points and erasing the errors and irrelevant strokes. It's not as amusing, but it's a good pursuit for those times I'm not inspired enough to churn out new material, and it's a necessary step in creating a polished, finished project.

Does anyone else think the same? Are there any other comparisons you'd like to draw (haha) between the two forms?