Desolace Update #1

So this is my first “official” Desolace update post. I don’t expect this to be a regular thing because Desolace is going very slowly, but I figured since I’m happy with where I’m at, I may as well talk a bit about what I’ve done with it, talk about it, stuff like that.

I mentioned a couple times in previous posts that I worked on Desolace as one of my projects for one of my creative writing classes last semester. By “worked on” I mean I wrote an analysis on some of my plans for the novel in the future, and wrote, re-wrote and extensively edited the first two chapters. I also wrote (not fully edited yet) the third chapter after classes ended and I plan on writing another two of three over the summer in preparation for my next intermediate creative writing class.

My final grade on my writing submission (the two full chapters) was a solid A, which was my goal, so I’m pretty happy with that and hope I can keep it up.

Desolace has always been in a weird spot in the grand scheme of things. Sure I’ve had a good idea of where I wanted to go with it since the beginning, but writing a book is so much more complicated than knowing your characters and plot. Things tend to happen without your consent because your characters do as they damn will please and your world evolves behind the scenes. It gets frustrating, but part of all that is learning how to control the reins and keep things from diverting too far from your original purpose (or knowing when it is appropriate to let it continue).

A couple things I’ve determined from writing these first few chapters is that without an outline (as I prefer) I’m being really particular about the details I add in, and how scenes transition from one to another. Usually, I leave it choppy or whatever and go back and fix it later, but for some reason, with this project, it’s been really hard to move on to the next part if the previous scenes don’t set up everything right. The result has been three good chapters that transition really well from one to the next, but that also makes it slow as hell.

Even without an outline, though, I’ve got the help of the novel analysis that I wrote on Desolace. It helped me solidify some plot points that I’d been thinking about, fleshed out some traits for my main characters and helped me figure out a lot of the why for the novel. So I think the difficulties of writing the chapters so they transition well aside, I’m in a pretty good place to continue writing a good chunk of the story.

I’m considering writing a brief outline just to organize some of the events I’ve got in my head. I’ve had a couple instances already (I’ve got to go change the ending to the third chapter so it leads into something else first) where I’ve rearranged the order of plot points because it made more sense to do it in a certain order. But it’s a pain in the ass to write it out and then realize it’s too early for that, so I figure it would be worth it to write out all the events I have planned and properly organize them in correlation to each other. I don’t want to do anything too fancy, just some bullet points that I can rearrange things visually rather than in my head.

Anyway, I think that’s it for now. Next time I might go into more detail on the characters and what the story is about, but I need to work on accurately summing it all up before I can write anything about that.

~Erynn

 

 

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February and March Anime!

I missed my post for February because I was lazy/ busy/ whatever, so I’m just gonna throw in what I watched from then in this post as well.

So let’s see… I watched the rest of Fate/Zero, Fantasia Doll, started Cowboy Bebop, and watched the available Nyanbo episodes. I’ve let Trickster episodes pile up so I can watch them all at once, I’ll get around to that once I finish Cowboy Bebop.

Fate/Zero was pretty amazing. I watched it kind of a while ago now so I can’t recall all of the details, but the animation was gorgeous, the magic was really cool, the characters were great, and the story was pretty good. It’s basically about some preset magical war that begins between a couple magical houses. They get to summon these cool “avatars” based off of historical figures that fight on their behalf. It ended a lot differently than I expected, but looking back on it, I think that may have been because I was so caught up in the story that I didn’t see the hints.

Fantasia Doll was alright, but it was a little too cutesy and cliche for my tastes. It reminded me of Cardcaptor Sakura (in a good way) and though they kind of used the card aspect a little differently than most card game animes, it still feels weird to watch an anime about people playing a card game.

Cowboy Bebop is great so far, but I’m only a couple episodes in so I’ll talk about that once I’m done or at least further through.

I’ve saved talking about Nyanbo for last because I love, love, love this show. It is most definitely a kids cartoon and the episodes are only five minutes long, but it’s just so loveable. From what I can tell, the actual plot is very minimal. The characters are these box-looking “alien” not-cats that act like cats and have strange powers. They don’t know why or how they came to Earth, but one of the main characters is set on them rebuilding their UFO so they can get back into space. And they actually do find UFO pieces throughout the show. I don’t know, it’s just adorable and funny and super easy to get into, so I guess that’s why I like it. 🙂

Well, that’s all I’ve watched for now!

~Erynn

Nevernight

Nevernight by Jay Kristoff was such a good book that I ended up writing an essay on it for my second-year creative writing class. A quick look at the blurb and you immediately think “super cliche” (female assassin bent on vengeance, school of assassins, etc) and I thought this too when I first saw it, but I picked it up anyway because I loved the cover.

Honestly, my essay was probably garbage (it hasn’t been graded yet…) but I went into a lot of detail about the characterization of Mia Corvere, the protagonist, and her experiences. I thought the detail that went into her development was astounding (even more so that I was able to identify a lot of it) and that’s what sparked the idea for my essay.

I’d suggest the book to anyone who likes fantasy, specifically in the young adult/ grimdark subgenre. For most advanced readers you might see a lot of the plot mechanics clicking about as the story progresses, but I found the writing itself very good, so it’s still worth the read.

I hope someone else decides to pick it up. It’s definitely one of my new favourites. 🙂

~Erynn

My DnD Character

It’s been a while since I’ve talked about dnd, and since it’s something I do pretty regularly now, I suppose that’s kind of strange. So I thought that I’d talk a bit about the DnD that’s gone on since I started university, then from here on out write semi-frequent updates on my campaigns.

I’m currently playing in two campaigns -one at the university, the other not, but I’m only going to talk about the former in this post.

As a part of games club, we do dnd and other tabletop roleplaying games every week. There’s lots of people who participate so there’s a bunch of different groups, but my current game is run by a newer dungeon master with four players, including myself. The group used to be bigger, but just before winter break a different group finished their campaign and lost a couple players. So when the new semester started, they didn’t have enough to start a new session, but my group gave up two players so they could.

It kinda sucked for us, but we’ve managed so far. Anyway, for this campaign, I’ve been playing a female human cleric. If you’ve never played dnd before, you might see the world ‘cleric’ and go “ugh support so lame” but with that, you’d be completely wrong.

Wyvia Louv is a war cleric. She slices shit in half with her battle axe, blows people to smithereens with thunder waves, and only heals teammates when they’re one turn from dead.

She’s not a bitch or a badass. She just doesn’t give a shit about anyone or anything. I guess that’s what happens when you decide to roll a neutral/neutral character, instead of someone with the tendency to do good or evil. At first glance, you might think that makes a boring character, but it’s actually been quite fun to play.

See, just because she doesn’t care about other people, doesn’t mean she doesn’t care about herself. So when someone tries to fuck with her, she’s not gonna tolerate that shit. At first, I spent most of my time observing the other people in my group, our NPC companions, and our surroundings, but I eventually moved from that to keeping an eye on the troublemaker of our group.

It’s been interesting playing a neutral character mostly for the developing characterization. Going from not caring about anything to caring about the group of travelers I’ve been paired with has been a slow, thought-provoking experience. I don’t know how much longer I have to see this character grow, but every session is extremely helpful for learning bits about the nuances of characterization that really make the characters real.

Maybe I’ll go into more detail on that another time.

~Erynn

Writing Non-Heterosexual Characters

I’ve never really set out to write a character specifically to be diverse or to fill a certain status quo or whatever. I exclusively write characters who “come” to me in one way or another, I really hate forcing characters who I can’t picture clearly in my head onto paper. They never come off as real that way.

Anyway, 99% of my characters end up being heterosexual. Not for any specific reason, because I definitely don’t consciously choose their preference, that’s just who the characters are. I might be the writer, but anyone who writes knows that characters tend to have minds of their own. They choose for themselves. But, every so often, I think about characters who aren’t heterosexual, and writing them always ends up being a curious process. 

Let me back up a bit.

In high school sexuality didn’t matter to me. It still doesn’t, but back then I had the habit of seeing things as male or female because that’s just how things are divided. It’s like that in most cases. Hence, when I started writing back then, I tended to write my characters as heterosexual without really realizing it. And in some instances, it ended up being that the reason some of my characters weren’t working the way I wanted was because I was forcing them into an identity that they weren’t. But now I see things differently and am able to let my characters be who they actually are.

An example of this would be Arianne from Desolace. I originally wrote her as a straight female, in a relationship with a male. However, while this worked for some parts of the story, it was not satisfying several plot points that I planned. Of course, I never realized that this was the problem, and me being unable to resolve these plot issues was part of the reason I put the project on hold. 

But now, having looked at it from a different perspective, I’ve realized that the problems in these plot points have arisen because Arianna’s motives weren’t in line with her true character. So once I figured that out, her real character came to light, and since then a lot of these plot points have made so much more sense. 
I don’t think that writing non-heterosexual characters is much different from those who are. The essence of creating a character remains the same across the board, and the desires of characters are almost always different from person to person in the first place. It’s just a different kind of difference. 

~Erynn

January Animes!

I’ve been trying to make time to watch a lot of anime lately because I think it’s pretty useful for learning mannerisms, and it’s good listening practice. I’m starting to recognize a decent amount of words (even if it sometimes takes me a little while to figure out what they are, once I’ve recognized them) which feels pretty good.

Anyway, since January is just about done, I figured I’d just quickly mentioned what anime I made it through this month.

I finished Yuri on Ice, Izetta the Last Witch, Mob Psycho 100, and made it through all the available Trickster episodes.

Yuri on Ice was pretty cute. It’s a short anime focused on figure skating and stuff, but I thought the characters were pretty great, even though they don’t do much more than skate and hang out sometimes.

Izetta the Last Witch is probably one of my current favourites. It’s a fantastical, alternate history that takes place during WW2. I loved the characters in this as well, and I thought the magic was pretty sweet.

Mob Psycho 100 was super confusing and funny. Like I mean it wasn’t confusing in a bad way, things made sense most of the time, but sometimes things just happened and they seemed completely random at first but they eventually mostly make sense. It was strange, but I liked the premise a lot.

Trickster was alright. I thought this was especially helpful for helping with my listening since it was a lot closer to slice-of-life than any of the others I watched (even though this is technically sci-fi) as it followed the lives of some students and their detective shenanigans. I honestly thought it was done at 13 episodes but it seems to be continuing on, so I guess I’ll see where that goes.

I also started Fate/Zero and made it through the first two episodes, but I was doing homework and not really watching so I think I need to go back and start again. It looked cool, though. I just need to pay more attention because there seems to be a lot going on, haha. 🙂

Gonna keep trying to get through as much anime as possible. Not only for the practice but because there’s a lot of stuff that I need to catch up on since I haven’t been watching all that much over the last couple of years.

~Erynn

Avatar: The Last Airbender

Maybe I’m a terrible person, but I never actually watched the whole Avatar cartoon until last year. I’d seen a couple episodes here and there, and I’d always wanted to watch the whole thing, but I guess I didn’t have the motivation to sit down and go through it.

At some point when I was self-teaching myself about writing, I read somewhere on Reddit that the plot and characterization in Avatar were top notch and that it was an excellent source to study. So I took that and made it my reason to finally watch it. I didn’t do it right away, of course, but I did eventually start it and make it through the whole series.

It was amazing. If you haven’t watched it yet, and like lighthearted fantasy, you should give it a shot. I still have to find time to watch the legend of Korra (a spin-off series that’s supposed to be just as good), but I’m looking to start that sometime in the next couple months. I’ve just got some other shows to watch first.

~Erynn

Desolace’s First Workshop!

So as I’ve mentioned before, Desolace has been one of my projects for like, ever. It’s a science fiction, kind of dystopia but not really, with some fantasy elements thrown in. Lots of fun.

I wrote out a draft of it when I was in high school, but ultimately I ended up setting it aside. I’ve tried to go back to it multiple times, but there were some big issues with it that I wasn’t sure how to address, and so there were many times where I’d get back into it, encounter one of these problems, and then because I didn’t want to figure out how to fix it, I’d drop it again.

The last time I picked it up was around October last year. I had a solid idea for the new first chapter, so I sat down and wrote all 2300 words in one sitting. I was exhausted after, closed it, didn’t look at it again for a couple days because I got the idea out of my head and then more or less forgot about it. But when I went back and looked at it… I wowed myself. It was most definitely the best first draft of anything that I’ve ever written. I was super happy with it. And so I made plans to start the next chapter.

I had a dozen ideas, of course. From the original draft I wrote, there were two other characters whose perspectives I introduced in the first few chapters of the book, so naturally, I wanted to start chapters for them and get their stories going. So that’s what I tried. It didn’t work, and I ended up getting frustrated and stopped writing Desolace again.

I’m gonna outline some of the problems I had, now, before I go into more detail about the writing of the second chapter (which I’ve more or less decided how it’s going to go, it’s just a matter of playing around with words to get it how I want it to sound).

First of all, the story was initially written with multiple characters who had their own point of view, because that’s how I usually write. But my protagonist, Arianne, has one of the most unique voices I’ve ever written before, and so it felt wrong to write it in the third person. It had to be re-written in third person. There was no other way.

The problem that stemmed from this, though, was that I’m vehemently against novels who have multiple first-person characters. Maybe I’m just retarded when it comes to reading them, but I just can’t stand it, I tend to get confused and forget whose perspective I’m supposed to be reading the story from. So I wanted to avoid that problem with this book by having one clear protagonist who maintains the first person perspective. Now, here’s the real problem. I’d planned the book to be written in the perspective of three different characters, and since I refused to make them all first person, that left me with two options.

  1. I write them as third person perspectives and keep Arianne as the only character in the first person.
  2. I cut them altogether and keep the story completely though Arianne’s eyes

I’ll be honest– the first option is what appeals the most to me because I love these other characters and want to give them times in the spotlight. But I’ve never read a book that’s written in first person and third person, although I know they exist. I’ve added a couple that I know about to my to-read list so I can see how they flow, see if I can make it work. I honestly think this is the right way to tell the story, but writing it like that makes me worried that I’d have trouble finding a publisher for it once it’s done. So I’m not sure what to do.

For now, I’m just writing the story in Arianne’s perspective. I don’t plan on keeping it this way, but for the sake of continuing with the story and keeping up the writing, I’ve decided it’s my best option for now. It’s not like I can’t go back and add the other two perspectives once I read one of those novels and think they read well. And maybe even before I get the chance to do that I’ll break down and write one of these perspectives and just see how well the chapters tie in together. That’s what beta readers are for, right?

ANYWAY, onto the actual topic of this post. That first chapter that I wrote, I ended up cleaning it up a little bit and submitting it to one of my creative writing workshops at school. Everyone seemed to love it and wanted to read more. There were a couple problems with it, of course, but it was mostly stuff that I knew about and didn’t really have time to fix before submitting. Things like lack of definite setting, not enough context (two things I’ve yet to get right in the first draft) and some weird descriptions that were just really confusing.

But I’m really happy with that. I’m super excited to edit this piece and try again, and even better, I’m motivated to keep up with the writing and get the next chapter drafted up. So that’s what I’ve been working on. 🙂

~Erynn

The Crown

I really hate it when I like a mediocre book or series and then it ends up letting me down. The crown is the final book in the second part of The Selection series, where the protagonist’s daughter from the original series is kind of put in her mother’s position– she’s gotta pick a husband to quell the masses (somehow that’s a thing).

There was one character I was rooting for from the start, one who seemed really unlikely to win, but seemed to be having some good luck due to some circumstances in the story. It’s possible that there was some foreshadowing in the book before The Crown that I missed (or couldn’t remember because I read it so long ago), but the guy I was rooting for ended up not getting picked, and some other character that seemed to jump through the rankings out of the blue ended up winning instead.

Feels pretty unsatisfying to me. I don’t know, I guess maybe it was the right ending for the book, but the way it played out seemed cheap and ill-thought out. Sometimes I wish I wasn’t dedicated to keeping these posts spoiler-free because for a book like this I’d really like to rant on and on about what I think should have been done instead, but alas, that can’t really be done without mentioning details… and besides, I didn’t write it, so I feel pretty silly to want to actually go through the process of explaining how I think it should have been done.

Anyway, I was pretty disappointed, because the only thing worth reading the series for was the romance, and I liked how two characters had it going. Just didn’t work out how I wanted it, I guess. Oh well. Shit happens.

~Erynn

My Progress Toward Publishing a Short Story

I’ve got a short story written and I think it’s pretty good– maybe another round or two of tweaking and tightening the prose and it’ll be ready to submit. It’s a darker story, but I guess that’s not really a surprise considering it was me who wrote it. I’ve got a couple places in mind that I want to submit to, I’ve just been dragging my feet on finishing the story and writing up a query letter to go submit.

I’m almost there and I don’t really feel the need to rush and get it done with. It’s not that I’m afraid of rejection or anything like that– I think, unfortunately, that’s just a natural part of writing– and it’s not even that I changed my mind on wanting to get one of my short stories published… It’s just… I don’t know, I guess at the moment, I’m just not willing to force the time I need to finish it into my schedule.

I feel like I’m doing a million things every day. I’m trying to learn a dozen new skills (trying to actually figure out how to draw, Japanese, I’ve been looking at a few other languages, trying to figure out poetry, learning how to actually cook, etc.) on top of all my other daily responsibilities (homework, class, friends, sleeping, boyfriend, work). I mean I COULD make the time to do it if I really wanted to, but I guess right now I just don’t really want to, I’ve got my priorities set up in other places. Hopefully, once I’ve cleared a couple other things off my plate, I’ll have the motivation to put the next step of this adventure to a close…

It feels pretty good to have it about 90% done, though, even if I don’t plan on finishing that last 10% just yet. I’m looking forward to completing it and submitting, I think I’ll just wait until my head is in the right place to do that.

~Erynn