Tuesday, December 2, 2014

NaNoWriBlo: There Went Nothing

It's almost the end of November and, thus, NaNoWriMo. I can't say I didn't try, but trying doesn't equal succeeding. I could say I didn't make it because I didn't have the time, but I did. I could have used the breaks at work, or the weekends... there's tons of opportunities I could have used.

The truth is, I got sick of the plot and my writing in this. I'm going to keep the setting and the characters, but I'm most likely going to ditch the plot, or at least rewrite it. The general setting stays, but it needs some tweaking to make it actually look like something other than generic somethingsomething.

To Drop

I'm definitely not going to keep every aspect of the plot. It might just be me, but it feels too safe and cozy. I don't feel like anyone's life was actually at stake at any point. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it, though.
The writing itself, aside from a few parts, has to go, too. It's horrible, full of padding and drips with clichés. I think that mostly happened because I was trying to :words: my way through the whole thing without knowing what I should really do.

To Keep

I feel like keeping Betsev-4 as part of the setting, but I should expand more on the main character's home planet. Damn, it doesn't even have a name, yet. I should also expand more on the characters there before actually going to Betsev-4. Maybe I'll introduce a few new locations.
I'll also keep the general aesthetics, but I'll change some things. Flying traffic in the city might be cool, but doesn't work if you don't have protection for the buildings. Suburbs are most likely not full of two digit floor skyscrapers. There's going to be a difference between inner city traffic (it's still going to be hover cars, though) and things that go off planet. These are all just examples of things I realized I should change. But the setting itself is okay.
I'll try to keep the characters, too. I'm not sure I can give all of them a role, because that largely depends on where I go with the plot. But Zackory and Ron, as well as Zackory's brother and his girlfriend stay. Yuka stays too, and her presence is one reason why I think the home planet deserves more screentime. She just drops off the screen when the story goes to Betsev-4.
And I'm definitely keeping the vampires, because vampires need to be cool again.

And Finally...

I thought I had enough of a plot, but I don't think I actually did. I made things up as I went, but I made the mistake of rushing through my existing ideas too fast. That left me with meandering scenes of people talking about the same thing over and over again, basically moving in circles. But well, lessons learned, setting gained, characters gained. In a way, it's still a win, even though it's around 25k words short.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

NaNoWriBlo: Oh God, Not The Backstory!

Also known as "this thing happened, but I don't want the plot to revolve around it." Also known as balancing story, setting and backstory. Yes, I talked about this before.

But first, time for some NaNoWriMo history on my end:

For my first NaNo, I didn't actually plan that much. I had a setting and some characters and I knew the specific plot twist I wanted. Then again, it was set in a world I had already established years ago, so no big deal there. This is actually the one I like the most, even though it gets weird.

My second NaNo was set in a whole new world (insert reference here). I did lots of planning for the setting, and I had that huge list of things I didn't want to turn into huge plot points because that's been done and I felt it was kinda ugh. I struggled to get my 50k and padded with all main characters watching the key scene of the ending.

My third NaNo was me trying to write by the seat of my pants and I failed horribly. I restarted after ~5 days, but couldn't catch up any more.

So I had varying degrees of story, backstory and setting, and I'm still not sure what the right combination is. But I have learned from my past mistakes, so, in order of the NaNos that taught me that, here's my list of things I'm trying not to do this time:

I won't let specific aspects of the setting take over everything.
I won't try to desperately exclude facets of the setting/parts of the backstory.
I won't drop all story planning because I think I can pants this.

Let's see how fast everything derails this time.

The Big Event

Right now, there's basically one big event that's defined in the setting's history, and that's the attack on the mining colony town Betsev-4. People died, people were injured, the town was damaged, but most importantly, it was an incredibly bold move. Even twenty years after it happened, this event is still present in the minds of people. You could say it changed the world. Not just Betsev itself, but the whole network it's part of.

My first idea was to go "but this is not what the novel is about". Problem is that it is. The main character was present when it happened, so of course there's got to be an influence.

That doesn't mean it's the main plot. Twenty years is a long time. Just because something influences a character, that doesn't mean it's all there is to them. In this case, sure, Betsev-4 is going to come up, and it's going to play a role, but it's just that. I wish I could draw landscapes, because then you'd get concept art.


Words: 0 (Still not november.)
Current status: I'm fighting the urge to make Yuka more popular. Also, I think I worked out how Betsev-4 fits into the plot, but it's still kinda vague. I'm also not sure what Yuka's and Ron common backstory will be. If there is any. (And I still fail to draw Yuka.) There's also going to be a space pirate clan leader, maybe the one who lead the clan when the attack happened, or her heir. I think I have to think about space pirates more.

Monday, September 15, 2014

NaNoWriBlo: The Lead Guys

I promised a blog post, so here it is. Since I talked about the veeery basics of my novel last time, this time I'll start throwing around details. Character details. There'll be some general blah about the setting, too, but that's unavoidable because characters can't always stand alone. Also, be warned, here there be bad art.

Who Are You?

So far, I have two main characters, and a few minor ones.

This is Zackory. He's in his early to mid twenties, but not always feeling his age. When he was five, pirates attacked his home town (more on that in another post), which cost him both his parents and his eyes. Zackory was adopted by a lower/middle class family, who cared for him, but did not have the money to provide the high tech prostetics required to still follow his dream to become a pilot.

Despite all that happened, Zackory's not supposed to be a dark and gritty serious business character. Sure, the attack left its mark on him, but he's not defined by it. Also, he did not have a shitty orphanage childhood. That trope can die in a fire, along with "you're not my real dad!" and its annoying relatives.

This is Ron. He's ~35-40 years old and used to work as a cargo pilot for a delivery company. They went bankrupt and, among many others, Ron was let go. He's generally a nice guy, but he wouldn't shy away from saying his opinion, even if that means he has to be rude.

Ron's supposed to be a foil to Zackory, but I have no idea how their dynamic will really play out. I don't have much set for him, as I feel that his personality will change and adapt a lot to what the story needs.

Aside from these two, I do have a few vague ideas about my supporting cast.

Yuka: Yuka runs a small bar near Zackory's home. She's a wiry woman who looks like she's constantly hungover. Most of that comes from being a vampire, but running a bar takes its toll on her too. She's got long, black hair, which mostly hangs down over half her face, giving people the idea that she can't see them properly. Spoiler: She can. The hair's basically her version of sunglasses.
She's always got an open ear for drunk and desperate patrons, and even though she sounds bored and disinterested, her advice is helpful after all.

Zackory's Brother: Here things are getting vague. I only know he's two years older, stayed in contact with his brother and joined the military. But he exists, he will probably show up and... I don't know... he exists? Ask me later.

And that's it for characters so far. It's not much, but I'm not someone who can plan characters. They happen while I write.


Words: 0 (Blog posts don't count.)
Current status: It's basically the same amount of stuff as last time, plus a huge even in the story's past, which will have an influence on the plot. I even mentioned it here.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

NaNoWriBlo: So I'm doing this, and I'm planning on winning.

Yes, I'm still alive, I'm just working a lot.

Also, in ~2 months November is coming up and with that comes NaNoWriMo. I've already talked about how novels conceived during NaNoWriMo are first/zeroth drafts at best, and how you really shouldn't think you wrote a novel you can publish.

This year, I decided to also write about me writing. How meta. But yeah, I think this will help me focus/stay on track, and if you people like to read rants/ramblings anyways, I'm happy to provide some more.

But it's September!

I know. But if I look at last year, I also know that I'm not one to write by the seat of my pants. I need a certain amount of planning and a certain amount of pre-NaNo time to make up my mind about what I want to write and where I want to go with it.


Words: 0 (Duh.)
Current status: I've got my two main characters set up, as well as a side character. I've got a very general idea what the setting is, and no, I'm not going to reveal that yet. Also, I think I have a general idea for where the plot should go. And I'm getting a wallpaper for motivation. I'll link that one too.

That's it so far. More on November 1st. Whee~

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Scribblings: The Man in the Dungeon

So I decided I'd also put some semi- to unrelated writing stuff on the blog. Spoileriffic things follow after the story.

The Man in the Dungeon

 Eliza bit her lower lip and stared at the short straw in her hand. She was sure that the other maids had rigged something so she, too, would have to go down into the dungeons and feed the prisoners. Sure, they were behind bars, unarmed and, after years of being fed yesterday's leftovers, not exactly in their best condition. But still, Eliza thought, there was a reason why they were locked up.
 Followed by everyone's looks, Eliza picked up the basket full of bread and heaved it up.
 One of the older maids smiled at her. "Just stay out of spitting range. And don't show them any fear."
 Eliza nodded. "I'll do my best," she mumbled and walked out of the kitchen onto one of the side corridors.

 When she reached the entrance to the dungeons, Eliza dropped the basked and shook her wrists.
 "Who're you, miss?" the guard at the door asked. "I've never seen you here before."
 "I-I'm new." Eliza nodded. "I'm here to feed the prisoners."
 The guard nodded. "So we got another one... let me check your basket. I can't let some girl I've never seen before walk in with a basket full of god knows what."
 Eliza stepped back and let the guard search the basket. "Are they dangerous?"
 "Yeah, that's why they're here... nah, I know what you're asking. Just don't get too close to the bars." The guard resumed his original position next to the door. "Have fun, miss," he said, smirked and pointed at the door.
 Eliza grumbled, picked the basket back up and leant against the door to open it.

 The dungeons had their own, disturbing atmosphere. The air was a bit thicker than usual and smelled exactly like you'd expect a bunch of unwashed mostly male prisoners expected to smell. Most of them were male, ranging from young and lanky to tall and bulky. Some looked downtrodden, some angry and some agressive and some even upbeat, but most of had their own brand of threatening aura.
 "They're behind bars, and there's a guard right here. No need to worry," Eliza muttered and bit her lip. Slowly, she stepped forwards, continuously looking around for anyone who might jump at her from a dark corner.
 A mere moment after she entered the corridor, the first prisoners noticed her presence and, more important to them, the presence of food. One after the other, they lunged for the bars and stretched out their hands. Even in cells with more than one prisoner in them, they managed to arrange things so everyone had his place.

 Carefully, one loaf at a time, Eliza handed over the old bread. Occasionally, someone tried to get a second one, only to be pulled from the bars by another prisoner.
 Eliza tried not to think about the amount of violence she had, so far, only heard about.
 After a while, Eliza came across a section with no prisoners at all. Having been told to go through the whole corridor nonetheless, she picked up a loaf and walked on.

 Eliza almost overlooked him, mostly because he didn't bother to stretch his arms in desperation at the sight of food. Instead, he just sat in the darkest corner of his cell. His hair, a rather shining tone of blue, hung over half his face in greasy strands.
 "Uhm... excuse me?" Eliza peeped and held up the loaf.
 Slowly, the man pushed himself up, patted some dirt from his whide, black coat and, finally, looked up, right into Eliza's eyes.
 "So it's time again, miss." He walked over to the bars in a slow and deliberate way and held out his hand like a civilized human being. There was no hint of desperation in his clear eyes. Yet, from the look of his hair and clothes, he'd had to have been in that cell for a rather long time.
 "I've never seen you before, miss. Are you new?"
 Eliza nodded, while at the same time wondering if it was a good idea to talk to a prisoner. "You're not like the others."
 "I know," he said, and looked in the direction of the noisier cells. "Because I ain't. I'm as far from them as you could imagine." He let out a dry laugh. "Not just literally."
 Eliza handed him the loaf, which he took and held, instead of gulping it down like the others.
 "You're interested in who I am. I can see that in your eyes."
 Before Eliza realized her own actions, she nodded excitedly.
 "I'll tell you, since I think you might believe me. I'm the queen's younger brother."
 Eliza blinked. "Really?" She then laid her chin into her hand and squinted. "Now that you say it, you could really be."
 The man's face lightened up a bit. "So you're willing to believe me."
 "Maybe. Is this about the throne?"
 He shook his head. "I never wanted to be king. No, I believe this is some conspiracy my dear sister doesn't even know about."
 "I see why people wouldn't believe you."
 "You're distributing food. So you will meet her. If you do, ask her about her brother."
 "She's the queen!"
 "I'm sure she'll listen if you mention me."
 Slowly, Eliza nodded. "I'll try. But I have to go now, the others are waiting back upstairs."
 "And don't tell anyone else. You never know if they're in on it."
 Eliza nodded again, turned around and hurried out of the dungeon, back to the kitchen with the almost empty basket.

 It took three days until Eliza was deemed ready to serve a meal to the queen without another maid to accompany and watch over her. Carefully, Eliza knocked on the door.
 "I bring your meal, your majesty."
 "Come in."
 Eliza opened the door and peeked inside. The queen sat at her desk, brooding over a few pieces of paper. Her hair, which was a similar shade of blue as the prisoner's, was done up in a not entirely perfect bun so it wouldn't fall onto the paper and smear everything.
 Carefully, Eliza entered the room and closed the door behind herself. "Where shall I put it?" She looked at the desk and found no spot to put the meal.
 The queen realized that and stacked some of the papers on top of each other, so Eliza could place the meal in the resulting free spot.
 "Your majesty... may I ask you something?"
 The queen looked up with raised eyebrows. "Yes, but don't expect a long-winded answer. I'm busy."
 Eliza bit her lip. "D-do you have a... a brother?"
 Had the queen been holding something, she would have dropped it. "Why would you ask this?"
 Eliza froze.
 "What gave you the reason to ask this?"
 Eliza could barely breathe. "T-there's a man in the dungeons. He claimed he was your brother, and that there was a conspiracy so you wouldn't find out he was there."
 The queen sighed. "The paperwork can wait for a moment. Sit down." She pointed at a stool next to her.
 Eliza nodded and sat.
 "Yes, I have a brother, and yes, you met him in the dungeons. I had him put there."
 "B-b-but wh-"
 "What he did?" The queen let out a barely audible snort. Then she proceeded to eye Eliza closely. "You might be too young, but do you remember the Beheader?"
 Eliza frowned. "The Beheader? I... I think I heard about him, from my parents."
 "That's him."
 "What?!" Eliza clamped her hands in front of her mouth. "I'm sorry, your majesty."
 "This reaction is the reason why no one knows who he is. It just doesn't befit a queen that her brother is a mass murderer. You have no idea how difficult it is to have proper diplomatical conversations with people if your brother's known for beheading people." The queen looked out of the window. "You know, I think you deserve to know the story behind this, even if it's just to stop you from freeing him or telling others."
 Eliza nodded. "Yes, your majesty."
 "You know, he doesn't feel like he did anything wrong. He feels like he's some kind of hero, just because he only killed criminals."
 Eliza frowned. "But wouldn't that be... good?"
 The queen shook her head. "When I say criminals, you're thinking of murderers and traitors, of abductors and rapists. But he didn't care how minor the crime was. Once, he killed a poor woman who had been stealing bread for her family. Or a petty gambler who conned people on the street. But he felt they should be punished. He even had supporters, but that was only before someone they knew was killed for almost nothing."
 "That sounds terrible. Was he always like that?"
 "I think it started when his wife was killed by a thief. But that does not excuse his behavior. He's still a murderer. Remember that, should you go down to the dungeons again."
 Eliza gave the queen a firm nod. "Yes, your majesty, I will."
 "You're dismissed. I have paperwork to do." With these words, the queen picked her quill back up.
 Slowly, Eliza walked out into the corridors again. She thought back to the dungeons and to the queen's brother. He had seemed perfectly civil. Who knew, she thought, maybe he had given up already. Maybe he tried the same thing with every new maid. And maybe he really believed that his sister knew nothing. But Eliza would never know. And, so she thought, maybe that was for the best.

This one's inspired by the designated hero, who'd be way better off with being a villain. If only their creator realized it and wrote the story accordingly. Unfortunately, this seems to happen quite often in RM games. For the German-speaking people among you, go read this.