Tuesday, August 22, 2017

In Space, No One Can Hear You Mispronounce Their Name

I'm going to talk about names. Weird names, specifically.

I have a lot of opinions on weird names. They tend to crop up in sci-fi and fantasy, and sometimes, they're terrible. If I'm considering reading a book, I will turn right around if the characters have stupid names. I get a newsletter or whatever for free or cheap e-books, and I have seen some awful names. As in, they took a perfectly normal name threw it in a blender and hit puree. They were trying to make something exotic, probably, but you can still tell what name they started with.

Also, names that are unpronounceable. I narrate everything in my head, so it's important that my brain can articulate a name. And if everyone in a story has weird, unpronounceable names, especially if any of them are similar to each other, I'm going to continually forget who is who. That's why I haven't read The Kalevala yet. It's Finnish mythology, which I'd like to know more about, but Lemminkäinen is the only name I can ever seem to remember.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Tiny Steps in the Right Direction

Well, here we are again. I haven’t made much (or any) progress on my character creation. What have I been doing instead of working on that? That's a great question. Real life has been happening a bit and that's taking a lot of my attention, but I feel like that's not a good enough excuse to be slacking off. I've always tried to make a point to not talk about real life here, because that's not what we're here for. We're here to see me turn myself into a real writer.

I'm not sure if I'm going to use this space story for November's NaNoWriMo, or if some other idea is going to come along in mid-October. I don't know if I'll have enough space-story-hijinks to fill 50,000 words. Maybe if I outlined…

I'm honestly not sure if I'm going to write the space story or if this is just going to be an exercise in character creation. I mean, it might be a waste of a perfectly good character if I don't write it, but… I don't know if that bothers me.

Truth be told, I haven't been feeling super creative lately. I'm hoping that's going to change soon, real life stuff and all. I even have a long weekend right now to get myself back to… me. It's pretty exciting. I'm hoping to actually take a day and get back to the character creation process. I've never been very good at villains or female characters, and I'm hoping I can kill two birds with one stone and create this well rounded female villain character.

Because if I can do that, I can do anything.

Except write this post, apparently. It's taken me over two hours to get this far. So I'm going to call it a day and hopefully have something more interesting on Tuesday.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The World is My Discarded Oyster

I'm going to continue getting distracted from my assigned task. It's just who I am as a person. I keep finding other things to talk about. And in a way, that's what today's post is about.

How I let myself down all the time.

It's not as pathetic as it sounds, not really. I just build up all these great ideas with such potential and then… meh. I focus on something else entirely.

I'm going to tell you a story. About a story. I wrote this last spring. You can see all the posts about it here. It was the adventures of a small town sheriff when faced with a larger and modernizing world. Okay, fine.

But the world, man, the world.

Friday, August 11, 2017

It Took Everything to Get Me Here

I keep finding myself getting distracted from my task of creating a complete character. "What about the world-building?" I ask myself. "What about the soundtrack?" I mean really, what kind of music does a future space faring society listen to? Probably something electronic and computer generated. Which is unfortunate for me, as I have a longstanding hatred of electronic music. Except this, for some reason.

Anyway, I have all these questions I'm supposed to be answering for this character. Here's a few as an example:

  • What are their biggest secrets?
  • What makes them laugh out loud?
  • What is their best childhood memory?
  • Do they have a natural talent for something?

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

No Hourglasses in Zero G

I've started fitting out an extensive character sheet for Elsbeth Zogg, sci-fi villain. I'm not going to share all the answers here, because frankly, I don't want to. Describing characters makes me uncomfortable. Extensively describing them, even more so.

Now, I thought that this was just going to be an exercise in character creation, and a plot and everything would come later. World building and all that tiresome nonsense. But I realized something right off the bat when I started the character questionnaire. Something I need to think about in this story. Something I need to figure out.

How do you tell time in space?

Friday, August 4, 2017

For the Evulz: A Reason For Villainy

Remember last time when I said the bad guys can't just do it "for the evulz"? I stand by that. I mean, sure, you can have your Jokers who just want to watch the world burn, but usually there is some underlying reason.

So I started making a list. I'm sure I'll add to it as I go, but I'm off to a decent start. I'm trying to list all the reasons a villain might do his villainous things. Some of them may overlap. Things are rarely cut-and-dried, 100% one thing, so that's to be expected.

The list of why people do bad things, as it stands:

  • Money/greed
  • Love/lust
  • Revenge
  • Hatred (be it racism, prejudice, etc.)
  • Loyalty (to a cause, leader, etc.)
  • Grief/Loss
  • Power

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Building Character

I finished my Camp NaNo story on Saturday. Well, technically Sunday at 1am, but whatever. It's done. I wouldn't call it "successful" but it also wasn't a total loss. If nothing else, I learned a lot about the things I still need to improve on.

So where do we go next?

The next thing I'll probably work on is the in-depth character creation I mentioned last time. Essentially, my characters tend to be flat and lacking a little thing called personality. I always see these questionnaires for character creation, and I never manage to fill the whole thing out. So I'm going to try. I'm going to figure out everything about a character, until they're damn near a real person.

Then the question becomes: What kind of character should I create?

The obvious first choice for a character is the hero. They're the main character. We're paying the most attention to them. But then I thought, maybe I should create a villain. I don't know that I've ever had a good, strong, well-developed villain. And I should. A hero is only as good as his villain. And a villain is, after all, the hero of their own story. They have their reasons for what they're doing, and it's probably not "for the evulz."

I need a vague sort of setting to put this character in, just because parts of their history and personality are going to be influenced by the world they live in. Is this a modern story? Or a high fantasy with elves and shit? Or some kind of galactic space thing?

The trick is going to be creating a good, solid character with motivations and whatnot that the reader won't be rooting for. Sure, there are some villains that you kind of want to win, but I don't know if I'm prepared for that.

The overall plan here is to create a villain, and a hero, and then a plot for them to live in. I don't know how long this is going to take. It seems like a big project that would take months, but if I actually sit down and get my shit together, it could take a lot less.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Cardboard Cutout Characters

So we're down to the final conflict against the Low Dwellers in this Camp NaNo story. It still doesn't have a name. I'm open to suggestions. At the moment, it's not super exciting, I guess. They've managed to take out two Low Dwellers, but Catherine is just sort of running through there, getting rescued.

Now, this is a romance story. She's supposed to be the main character. So at this point she needs to woman up and be the heroine of her own damn story. She needs to take a level in badass.

Upon realizing this last night, my first thought was "Kill Nick." See, then she'd have to step up. But we can't do that. Because, again, this is ostensibly a romance story, and it's supposed to have a happy ending. Meaning I can't kill off one half of the couple before they even get together.

As for her being the main character, well, you couldn't tell from the story. She's not even introduced first. It's like… imagine the story's focus to be your actual, physical field of view. The main character is the one you're looking directly at. The natural thing for me to do is focus on Nick, for whatever reason. He's more interesting. So I attempted to not do that, and instead of shifting my focus to Catherine, I ended up staring awkwardly at nothing, watching the whole thing unfold in my peripheral. Now nobody's the main character. This is a problem.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Nothing Left to Say

When I set out on this quest to combine three genres into a single frankensteined project, I thought that it would be equal parts of each. One third subterranean fiction, one third occult detective, and one third romance. All equally represented.

But what it's turning out to be is 70% subterranean (they are underground, after all), 25% occult detective, and 5% romance. Is that bad? I don't know. Probably.

I've reached the point where they're about to go up against the Low Dwellers (carnivorous beasties), and the romantic arc has progressed… barely. They're maybe starting to grow closer, but sparks aren't exactly flying here.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Interpersonal Relationships

I meant to spend the morning writing, but I got distracted by a genealogy search. All because I wanted to know how old the little desk in my living room is. Answer: about a hundred years old. Maybe a hundred and ten, depending on what age boys start carving their names in things.

I saw an episode of Pawn Stars yesterday, and now I'm on a history kick. Of course, if you know me, you'd know my whole life is a history kick.

Anyway, then I got distracted and traced my family back 1,000 years. What does that have to do with today's post? Not a damn thing, probably, but it's part of the reason it's up so late.