Monday, July 28, 2014

It's Like a Simile

One of the reasons I'm not much for poetry is that I'm terrible with figurative language. No matter how much Douglas Adams I read,  I can't seem to figure out just what to compare with what else. I'm a bit lacking in description altogether—although I've been told that's not always a bad thing—and my metaphors and similes in particular are no exception.

For me, at least, they're a part of writing that are difficult to practise. I've read to never use a simile you've seen in writing, and it seems like reasonable advice to me. If it's that unique a simile, you're just copying someone outright; if it's not, why bother using it? As such, my only choice seems to be either trying to change another writer's exact wording—which doesn't seem right—or coming up with new ones outright.

The process seems to be
  1. Find something that could be compared to something else without it obstructing the flow of the story.
  2. Figure out something interesting with the quality to be emphasised.
  3. Make sure the compared thing doesn't conflict with the narrator's knowledge or setting (e.g. a comparison to something that doesn't exist in the time period).
And there you have it. The problem is that I can't come up with anything good off the top of my head. It buzzed like... a bee? No, that's too simple. What else buzzes? Uh... Well...

That's about how it goes with me.  Recently, I had the idea to start a "Simile Bank" on the phone I carry around, so that when a good one hits me out in the field, I can save it right then. Unfortunately, it's rather rare that that happens, but it's a better bet than trying to puzzle it out in the midst of writing. I have about four right now, but you'll have to wait until they make it into my stories before you can read them. If I posted them here, after all, somebody else might put it into writing, and then I can't use it.

How are you with similes and metaphors? Other figurative language? What methods do you use to keep your comparisons fresh?

Thursday, July 24, 2014

New Fan Fiction Idea #29

I would really rather see this as a fan game, but since it includes both 2D and 3D characters and at least one OC, that's probably not reasonable.

A silly attempt to rectify the fact that, of all the main characters, only those of Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney seem to have not been accused of murder.

Working Title: Turnabout Sacrifices

Fandom: Phoenix Wright/Ace Attorney

Genre Tags: Mystery/Suspense

Length: Multichapter

Protagonists: Apollo Justice; later, Athena Cykes.

Other Main Characters: For the prosecution, we have Simon Blackquill and Klavier Gavin. For the detectives, we have Gumshoe and Ema. For the assistants, we have Trucy and later Phoenix. Lamiroir also plays an important part.

Antagonist: Spoiler, of course.

Setting: Post-Dual Destinies, with the crime scene just outside Kurain village.

Plot: Vera Misham is stabbed to death and Lamiroir injured, and Klavier is arrested as the prime suspect. Apollo takes the case and, in the process of proving his client innocent, ends up implicating himself. Athena vows to set him free even when a guilty verdict seems inevitable.

Point of View: First person, corresponding the the appropriate attorney.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

A Story-Making Game

This requires some technology, so not everyone may be able to do it easily, but...

Start up your method for listening to music. Put it on shuffle. Play (or at least start and write down) the next two songs it gives you.

Make a story out of them.

The story must get elements from both songs, but it doesn't matter what part of which song—the chorus, the title, the music video, even just the feel of the tune. The story can be as simple or as detailed as you feel the need to write down.

Of course, I can't demand you do something I haven't myself done, so here's a few from me.

1. "Youth Gone Wild" and "Don't Stop Believing"

A small-town girl gets more than she had bargained for when her aimless train ride is hijacked by a group of punks. But when she manages to escape into the heart of the dreary, superficially bustling city, she finds herself drawn back to the car. Between one of the young men who might not be as dastardly as he seems and the hope of negotiating the train to greener pastures, she might stay awhile.

2. "In the Air Tonight" and "Still They Ride"

Before The Generic Momentous Event, the town had been calm and Jesse a good man. But with the streets in shambles, half the population dead, and pyrokinetic gangs seizing power, quiet safety is impossible. The former nurse would have left altogether had it not been for one other man—an influential fire-thrower who killed Jesse's son in the chaos. Jesse wants his revenge before he dares flee the boundaries of the town, even if he has to team up with some unsavory characters to do so.

3. "Share the Land" and "Juke Box Hero"

The manager of a rising rock star struggles to keep up with her job and the world around her while hiding her drug addiction, which is only worsened by her occasional visions of her loving but deceased fiancé.

4. "Dead or Alive" and "Psycho Killer"

A charming professional spy with a lot of kills in his résumé has to secure information from a young woman. It seems simple enough until he finds that she is unwilling to communicate with a human like him, and her own history of killings spells its own kind of trouble.

Fun enough, right? Tell me if you come up with anything interesting. Maybe you can even pair your results with a character from an earlier little game and get a fuller story.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Prompt Writing #9

Prompt [veiledinspiration]:

"I’ve had the dish ten or twelve times, but this time it tasted sort of funny."

Randomly Selected Story and Character: Dead Man's Hand, Helen


"I'm eating, I'm eating!" Helen shoved a forkful of rice and General Tso's chicken into her mouth. "Gaw."

Her brother tightened his lips and checked the front door again. No one hovering outside. No one coming in, either, not without triggering the chiming bells tied to the inside handle. Inside the buffet, it was just them and the usual staff. Two-o-clock wasn't the busiest hour after all.

Helen paused in her chewing, squinting at her plate of food. She swallowed and said—something that was lost to Chinese shouts from the kitchen area.

"What?" Adrian frowned, rapping his knuckles against the table until he realised he was doing it.

Helen sighed into her straw, one bubble of Coca-Cola popping under her nose. "Nothing, nothing. I'll keep eating, don't worry." She swallowed another bite of chicken and rice. "It just tastes a little different today. Maybe not as many peppers or something." She used her fork to flick one aforementioned pepper away from her next bite.

"Whoa, whoa, whoa!" Her brother grabbed her wrist. "Stop."

Glaring, she sniffed. "One or the other would have worked. Gaw, you're so bossy."

"Bossy? I—" He trailed off into grunts between gritted teeth before shaking his head. "Helen, there are people trying to kill you. Don't eat food that tastes funny!"

She rolled her eyes. "It's not that funny. I promise if I taste poison I'll stop." She shook her wrist out of his grip. "Besides, you're the one that decided this place was safe."

As he eyed a worker girl restocking the crab rangoon, Adrian steepled his fingers in front of his nose and let out a tense breath. "Well, that was a few minutes ago. What you're telling me now is that it might not be that safe."

"No, what I'm telling you now is—Augh!" She slammed her fork down. "Fine, I'll just starve! Let's get out of here." Pushing herself up with her palms, she stood.

"Helen—Helen!" Her brother leaped after her as she charged for the door. "We haven't even paid."

She snorted, snaking around one of the steaming buffet lines. "I'm not paying them if they're trying to poison me."

"At least—"

He cut off as the worker girl charged for his sister. Swearing, he put his hand to his gun as yellow light glinted off a knife in the Asian woman's hands. Before he could get a good shot, Helen screamed, grabbing a plate or two off the stack and slamming it onto her attacker's head. With a porcelain crash, shards slammed into the sneeze guards as the worker staggered back. Adrian took his chance and fired. The woman with the knife stumbled backward from the impact and hit the floor.

 Panting, Helen pulled a lock of hair out of her mouth and looked at her brother. "You still want to pay them?"

"Nope." Stashing his gun, he grabbed her wrist and ran for the door before any shouting from the kitchen could come closer. 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Lee's Island, Part 10

(The beginning of the madness can be found here.)

Here is Part 10, in which winter is coming and TenTen is the boss.


 TenTen was working out some rough edges on the supperware very carefully when a freezing wind blew across. She shivered.
"That's right, winter's coming up fast." Then the idea struck her.
"Hey, everyone! Back to camp on the double!" she yelled, hoping everyone would hear her. Soon, the others had assembled before her.
"What is it, TenTen?"
"Well, guys, you know, winter's coming. And fast."
"So, since we probably won't be able to get much in the winter, I want us to start collecting as much food, water, and firewood as possible. We okay with that?"
"Yeah. How about I get water, you catch fish, Lee catches animals, and Naruto gets firewood?"
"Sounds good to me. Everyone okay with that?" Three heads bobbed up and down.
"Then that's what we'll do. Okay, Sakura, you'll need something like a bucket to collect the water in."
"I can make one, TenTen."
"Okay, Lee. Make Sakura a bucket, but wait just a second. Okay, so Sakura should be covered there. Oh, Lee did show you where the stream is, right?"
"Okay. Naruto, you have enough kunai to cut down branches, and they shouldn't be too heavy for you to carry. Everything taken care of for you?"
"Yeah, I guess."
"Okay, Lee, you'll need the spear," she threw it at Lee, who caught it, and continued, "and you don't have any kunai, do you? Do you think the spear will be enough?"
"Yes, ma'am."
"Okay, good. I have enough kunai to catch fish. I might have to wade in a little further, but I'll be fine. All right, everyone, get to your jobs!" The ninja dispersed.
"I have to hurry. I should not keep Sakura waiting!" Lee sped up his carving. He was almost finished, but major chunks of the wood still had to be cut out.
"There, done!" He sped over to Sakura.
"You finished already? Great! Thanks for your help, Lee." Sakura took the bucket and walked into the forest. She shivered. TenTen was right. Winter was definitely coming on fast. Sakura sped up and later arrived at the stream, which had a frosty covering. It didn't take long to dispel it and gather a bucketful of water. She walked back to camp, slowed by the extra weight. By the time she arrived, the sun was high in the sky. She walked up to TenTen.
"Where should I dump it?"
"Oh, gosh, I didn't think about that." TenTen sighed. "I guess we'll have to get Lee to make more. But then that would interfere with his food gathering..."
"Well, I could probably make some buckets myself."
"Okay, if you're up to it. Here's a kunai for you. Go ask Naruto if he can spare some of the wood he's gotten." Sakura walked through the forest and found Naruto walking to the cabin with an armful of vine-covered branches in tow.
"Hey, Naruto!" She ran towards him.
"Can I use some wood?"
"Um, sure." Naruto attempted to remove a single thick branch, but all of the wood tumbled down. He groaned.
"Oh, I'll help take it to camp. Here, give me some." Sakura held her arms out.
"Mmm-kay." Naruto stacked some of the wood in her arms, then picked the rest up. "Let's go."
Sakura and Naruto arrived at the cabin short after and dumped the branches on the ground.
"Whew. Well, the worst is over. Now we just have to peel off the vines."
"Okay, go ahead. I'll..." he paused, "help with your bucket."
"Oh, no, don't think you'll get away with that! You do your job, and I'll do mine. Got it?"
"Okay, okay, fine." Sakura heard Naruto grumble something before she picked a branch and walked away. She saw Lee arrive from the forest with a gargantuan pile of rabbits, birds, and other animals stacked up on his outstretched arms.
"Hello, Sakura," he said, storing the animals. "Oh, did you need more buckets? You can always ask me to make one."
"No, but then you couldn't do your hunting as much. It's best that we all stick to our own jobs."
"No, really Sakura. It does not take long for me to make a bucket, so it would not interfere very much. Here, give me the wood." He held an arm out.
"Okay, go ahead." Lee took the branch and started carving.
"I guess I'll have to go farther in." TenTen waded farther into the ocean. Still no fish. She sighed. It's past time for lunch, and she'd hardly caught anything. Oh, well. Let's head back and get some food ready. TenTen walked over to the pile of snow and stored the four fish that she had caught. She looked over the pile and withdrew a large rabbit. TenTen hated preparing these guys, hated it. But someone had to do it. She gutted it and skinned it and put it on a skewer. Soon the fire was set up and the rabbit was roasting. Luckily, everyone was already at camp, so she didn't have to call them for lunch.
"All right, guys, it's ready!" They gathered around the fire and ate their food. Suddenly, they heard a groaning.
"What the heck was that?"
"I don't know. What do you think?"
"Probably another person."
"I will go see." Lee darted off in the direction of the moaning. It took a while, but he finally found the source: Sasuke Uchiha. Without hesitation, Lee rushed him to the others.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014


I've recently come across advice that editing a piece should require completely retyping it. Supposedly, merely rereading a story and editing in the process allows the writer to pass over various errors. Only typing out every word a second time allows the proper amount of attention to be given to every aspect of the work.

I'm not sure about that myself.

Of course, the time difference is unappealing, but it shouldn't be a problem if it really helps the writer catch all of the details, right? I just doubt that it does everything it's supposed to. I've been using this method for Tributes and Tribulations, and it does do some good, don't get me wrong. I've made several changes in word choice, and I've caught a few other errors.

One big advantage it gives me is that, since I'm retyping previous paragraphs before I write the next ones, it gets me into a rhythm. Staring at a blank page is one thing, but if I've already typed several paragraphs—even if you haven't actually "done" anything in the process—it feels like I've already started.

The thing is, this really just works for line-editing... and it's not too good at that. It takes so much mroe time that the writer is given a more limited view of the piece each session, so some plot details or long-ago-mention character qualities have more opportunities to slip through. Furthermore, retyping doubles the odds of making typographical errors. I've caught some in the first draft, but I've also made several new ones during retyping.

Maybe those less prone to typing mistakes will find this method more effective. It is, of course, only one round of editing, and I personally would advise to use it last, for the line-edits.

Have you tried rewriting a work, word for word? How well has it worked for you?

Friday, July 4, 2014

New Fiction Idea #52

Based on an excellent dream that I decided not to write down because I was half-asleep and not yet making good decisions.

Working Title: Twenty Minutes

Genre: Sci-Fi

Protagonist: Gordan, an energetic young man whose job is at a doughnut shop. He holds family in high regards but still appreciates alone time on a regular basis. He dreams of swimming in the Olympics but hasn't done much about it outside of regular training.

Other Main Characters: Celeste, a 33-year-old woman with long hair and an average figure. She's serious by default but can lighten up in appropriate situations. She's very goal-oriented but a bit of a doormat at times.

Antagonist: A small but well-funded agency that deals with technology.

Setting: A luxury cruise ship. The trip is a 5-day one in the Caribbean with some island stops. Modern day or near future.

Plot: A rather secretive organisation selects Gordan, a former affiliate, as a tester for a prototype watch. The gadget has the ability to send the consciousness of the user back in time at minute increments up to twenty minutes. Gordan goes along with the trial and its rules despite being on vacation during the time they want him to try it out. At first, he's only doing small tasks and experiments, but when Celeste is killed at one of the starboard bars, he sets out to save her and digs up a sinister plot in the process.

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