Monday, December 14, 2009


I've been writing a lot of non-fiction lately, whether for school or for myself, and I've found that I like it in a lot of ways. It's different from my usual fare of fiction with the odd smatterings of poetry.

Sometimes it feels rather limiting though. I tend to write stream-of-conscious, so I have to go back and make sure my points all add up in the beginning the same way they do in the end. Also, it feels as though I am stuck with only a sliver of real-life, rather than a whole expanse of fiction-life.

I don't know how exactly to explain it, but there is a difference and it is both liberating and limiting.

It's nice to be writing, in any case.

Monday, December 7, 2009


Frustrated the other day, I asked one of the great questions faced by fiction writers everywhere: How do you make a girl an action hero without a) turning her into a Faux Action Girl or b) wussing up the guys. Basically I want a girl who can stand on her own two feet and be awesome in her own right, but do so in a way that doesn't make the guys look weak when she opens up her can of whup-ass. Both of these things must be avoided, while all the while keeping her femininity without turning her into a sex object.

Trinity from the Matrix films was a fairly good example of solving this problem, though even she pandered to the fanservice-rabid demographic a bit. Koukou Debut had a wonderful example. The main character was innocent, yet very determined and loyal. She could hold her own when she wanted to (she was stronger than some of the guys - sometimes leading to wussing up the guys... can there be no perfect example? gah...), yet she really liked being a girl. Sure, it was a romance rather than an action piece, but the elements were there. Now to figure out how to emulate that in a more extreme setting.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Been NaNoing...

Yeah, haven't been writing here because I've been writing here.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Tweeting for your characters...

Twitter can be a cool tool for writers. I actually got this idea from Twitter (inkyelbows tweeted it).

Basically, you tweet for your characters. It can actually be helpful, in that it makes you a) get into your character's head and b) concisely illustrate who they are.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

A picture is worth...

...four pieces of chocolate and a kitten's spleen.

Seriously though, I find pictures to be so inspirational. Which is weird, because I usually have a hard time writing off of picture prompts (say for contests or whatever). Instead, I tend to just see pictures that inspire me and sort of try to emulate them in my writing. And very often, it's the caption to the picture that inspires me as much as the picture.

For instance, one of my rare bouts of poetry (and even an attempt at a series  of poems) was inspired by this photo and this photo in tandem. (Along with many of this user's other photos. Beautiful things they are.)

I was reading blog archives of mine from years ago and I did a lot of writing back then. Like, practically essays on things that were bothering me at the time or whatever. I want to do that some more. I was inspired by some videos lately that were pretty much random, but were just somehow so inspiring. It was like flash fiction in video form. That and vloggers. Something about vloggers inspired me. Maybe bloggers would too. I don't read many blogs outside of YWS. *ashamed*

Anyway, I want to try and go back to that idea of writing essays quite frequently, along with more flash fiction and whatnot. I think it would be good for me to write more (outside of blogging) and experiment a lot, rather than worrying about a long project. Maybe even allow myself to be a little random.

Call it "personal growth".

There are still days I want to take up photography and portrait shooting though. Too bad I don't know any friends who would model for me... All of my friends feign fear of the camera unless they are in the stupidest pose possible.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Revelations about musicals and houses...

*spoilers for early seasons of House M.D. and A Very Potter Musical are contained within*

It's been a while since I've been here, no?

I was thinking about plots and the revelation of plots recently, and was prompted to write based on my recent discovery of House M.D. and the wonderful website known as TV Tropes (specifically this entry).

House has the most wonderful way of setting up its episodes: giving us just enough information to get us hooked, then doing something to make us question, then slowly giving us information in less-than-obvious ways that nonetheless add up to one screaming avalanche of revelation by the end. It's so beautiful. (My favorite episode from Season 1, "Histories", is a prime example of this.)

I loves me the foreshadowing and vague references, but I really hate it when writers just shove it in your face. Audiences are savvy enough to know when something is going to be important later if you make it too obvious. It gives away the ending. (A lampshaded example: If you've ever seen A Very Potter Musical, when Snape gives the pop quiz, he mentions anything that will every be important as a MacGuffin, then asks "Does anyone know what Foreshadowing is?" They lampshade many other things that will become important later also. 'Tis humorously done, but the audience is completely prepared for what comes.)

This is not to say don't foreshadow ever, and don't tell anyone anything so that they are always completely in the dark, but don't make your intentions so blatantly obvious.

House does it where they give you enough information to speculate on, but in a way that you don't realize it's important until it is. For example: in "Mistakes", when you see the patient come to see Chase when he is distracted, he is on the phone. He hangs up and that is it. Later, he mentions that his father died without telling him. Well, wait a minute. A viewer who has watched the seasons all the way through knows that his father is going to die, but we haven't seen anyone tell Chase. Instantly, our antennae are up. Chase was distracted by this phone call... He knows that his father is dead, but we haven't seen him receive this revelation... Therefore... And we are all beautifully rewarded for our speculation when the scene plays out in its entirety when Chase gets the call that his father has passed away.

It's wonderful. It really is. It gets the viewer thinking, they come to a realization and then the realization is played out. Sometimes there is a twist, but when the end is finally revealed, the viewer can look back and see all the hints that were given. And none of it was in-your-face "Look! Look! A clue!"

The TV Tropes entry takes this and expands it to the idea of "plans" in fiction. You notice that when the heroes/villains make plans, the ones that they completely outline usually fail or are interrupted in some way. It is only those that are unspoken to the audience that manage to succeed. This is because the writer wants you to know what the plan is so that when the plan goes wrong, you know it. It's no fun if you don't know what the plan is and then it goes wrong, because you don't know that it's gone wrong. (Similar to goof-ups in theatre - I recall being told to just keep going even if you flub a line or say it in the wrong place. After all,  the audience doesn't know that you've messed up.)


So give the reader/viewer a little to chew on, maybe throw in some easy-to-notice-but-not-blatantly-obvious things to reference later and then cash in on it all later. Don't give away the twist in the beginning, please.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

A picture is worth...

1000 Words

This is an amazing little flash comic that I found on another writer's blog on YWS. It's so sweet and beautifully handled. Very inspiring.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Beginning at the beginning...

Looking for a place to begin a story? A member of the online community "Young Writers Society" summed up your options perfectly.

"1) The source of the conflict (ex: if the conflict is about a war, you might want to start by going back to the moment war was declared, revealing the reasons why it's happening)
2) The day the MCs life changes. It will start off a bit slow, so you want to be careful not to bore people.
3) A point later in the plot where the MC is drawn to reflect on how they got into this situation (setting things up for you to go back to a less interesting but still relevant point earlier in the plot)
4) Character history. Pick a moment in either the protagonist's (MC) or the villains life that was significant to their development and share that. Then skip forward to the 'present' so people can see how they're changed. (Works kind of the same as a flash back). "

Yup. It's pretty awesome.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Pastry in a cavern...

Free-writing. They tell you to do it in many writing "how-to" books. So this is me, free-writing.

On "writing how-to" books: I'm of mixed opinions. Usually, I already know what they are telling me and I am just sort of reading them to assuage my ego. By reading something I already know, I am assuring myself that I know what I am doing. I'm not actually really getting anything out of it. I'm pretty happy in my writing technique.

Right now, while reading "how-to" books, I am mainly skimming the editing sections, since that is what I am doing currently in my novel. And yet I always come away dissatisfied in what I have read. I think it is because I am looking for an instant fix, rather than the involved process that I inevitably resort to and that is necessary. It's kind of frustrating.

At the same time though, I enjoy reading "how-to" books that are sort of quasi-memoirs. I enjoy reading about other's writing lives, especially when they can write about their lives in an interesting manner. Which is pretty much why I am afraid of trying to impress with my writing about my writing life, seeing as I'm sure I make it all incredibly boring.

Anyway, continuing on another thought, I have been looking over band titles for work and that, combined with recent phase I have been going through with song lyrics (especially foreign song lyrics translated into English), has just made me uber inspired to write free-form poetry and short pithy prose. It's not even related some of the time, just sort of disjointed thoughts sort of kicking around in my head. I'm thinking of getting a Twitter, just to write down those things. But sometimes they grow longer. But they really don't mean anything. Think of them as just writing knick-knacks: they don't really do anything practical, but we keep them around anyway.

I wonder how many things are actually like that and then other things are read into them. For instance, I am currently watching "Neon Genesis Evangelion" and there is so much that happens that doesn't seem to make much sense. Is it because we are trying to read sense into it? Can it just be artistic? Does it have to have meaning behind it? Obviously you can read meaning into it, but if it wasn't intended that way, are you wrong? Or are you discovering something about the author's work that they didn't even know?

Haiku is like that. People read meaning into it, but I wonder sometimes if it isn't just something that someone thinks is pretty. Haiku is really the only kind of poetry I dabble in (apart from my random free-verse spurts) and sometimes it's just because it looks pretty. There is no higher meaning to what I am writing sometimes. Or, if there is, I'm not intending for to be that way.

But back to band titles: In my drama class, we once had to make a radio show, in the tradition of the old radio programs with a cast and everything. We had to do sound effects and voices and write a script and everything. We also had to come up with group name. Well, we brainstormed and finally resorted to writing random words on slips of paper and then choosing two at random until we found a good name.

The result? Underground Strudel.

Yes, sheer brilliancy. Does it have a higher meaning? Nope. It just sounds awesome.

At the same time though, I do enjoy a title (be it bandname, novel title, or whatever) that actually does make you think. Just two or three words and it contains so much meaning.


Sunday, May 31, 2009

I know writers who actively go searching for pictures of people who look like their characters. I know writers who have songs that are their character’s theme song, or a playlist that is their story’s soundtrack.

I’ve never been into that. I’m not putting down people who do that. I think it’s actually kind of cool sometimes. Some people like to “cast” their stories and give them a soundtrack and that’s cool. It’s just not the way I work. I very rarely know exactly what my characters look like. I know them intimately, I have basic features worked out, but the image is flexible. I like to leave that up to the reader. And I don’t listen to enough music to pick out a soundtrack (though I think that is pretty friggin’ cool and having had a bit of experience, I almost want to try).

Now, having said that it’s not really my thing, I recently heard two songs that just plain screamed certain characters at me. I wasn’t looking for them; they found me.

1) “ Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy” by Queen. Seriously, this song describes my new treatment of Meirzen,
my boy king in a currently sidelined project, like no other. I’m not even writing him or thinking about him currently, and this song demanded to be about him.

2) “When You Say Nothing at All” by Alison Krauss. Really, the thing that clinched this as a song describing Red and Quina’s relationship was “the touch of your hand”. The tone of this song is a little too cutesy for them, but it works pretty well.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


In reading my archives from past drafts of my novel, I tend to look back and wonder just what I was thinking, or marvel at how much things have changed, even if I did like what was written before.

For example (and this is what got me thinking on it), in my older drafts, Red seemed almost abusive. Seriously, he was constantly beating up on Quina (tough love was the thought behind that) and making her into a killing machine through rough handling. Then there were moments of tenderness, like after he had finished beating her up with her own weapon, he would call for a break and then check her over to make sure she wasn’t injured. Stuff like that. And also, he was the one who first started making romantic advances. He was the one who kissed her first, who showed his affection physically first. I liked it then, but looking back on it, it seems like he was pressuring her into liking him, like he wasn’t leaving her a chance. It was like she didn’t reciprocate his feelings, but was frustrated by his attentions at first because she didn’t understand them entirely (being a bit crazy and very simple in her understanding).Red came off as a pushy, fluctuating jerk. Me no likies it so much anymore.

In contrast, in this draft, Red is the first one to realize that he loves Quina, but she is the first one to initiate any kind of fond physical contact. He doesn’t touch her for the simple reason that he doesn’t want to pressure her. Quina, on the other hand, takes a longer time to realize intellectually that she loves Red (being the crazy bat that she is, it takes her a while to think things through… she just feels, usually) but she is dependent on him first, takes comfort in him first. She is the first to initiate contact by touching his face. This way, it is more like Red is in love, but trying to remain distant for her sake, and then it turns out happily that she is in love with him too and has to assure him of it. It’s rather nice actually.

Of course, saying that now, I’ll probably look back in about a year and have the same reaction as to my older work now: “What the flapjacks was I thinking?”

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Double double, beginning trouble...

So I have a little dilemma right? In bumping back the beginning of my novel, I’ve cut out a lot of tedious and unnecessary exposition and whatnot, but I’m not sure how to pull off my proposed alternative beginning.

One of my main characters is a gladiator who has amnesia. Basically she was beat up pretty badly by her cellmates and ended up with a fever that leaves her a bit muddled. But since she doesn’t remember that, there’s really no point in showing it, since it is explained later on by another character.

The basic idea was to have her still fevered at the beginning of the story. She:

-wakes up

-is confused

-is put in training ring with trainer

-ends up passing out

So that’s the first chapter essentially. She is very confused and her POV bits reflect that. However, there are other character POVs that help explain things, so the reader has a bit more of an idea of what’s going on than her.

Cut to a few weeks later, after she has been treated and is on the mend. My plan was to have her POV bits be almost identical to those of the first chapter, to reflect that she doesn’t remember anything of the events in the first chapter. So pretty much, she:

-wakes up

-is confused

-is put in training ring with trainer

She doesn’t pass out this time and this is when the story really begins where she remembers it. But I’m wondering if this double beginning (for her) is actually worth it. What really makes me want to keep it is because of an event that I really want to have happen, but that she can’t remember.

Her trainer tries to kill her the first time he meets her. Basically he sees how sick she is and figures that killing her now would put her out of her misery faster. If he were to try and teach her to fight, she’d live longer, but end up dying more painfully, if she didn’t succumb to her fever first. He ends up not succeeding and so decides to give her a second chance.

Thing is, she cannot remember this. She and her trainer end up being the romantic couple in the story and if she were to remember that he tried to kill her, she would never trust him. Ever. He has a hard enough time bringing her around to trusting him after he grabs her arm trying to make her understand him. It’s not like he can just explain things to her rationally, because they don’t speak the same language. They end up communicating mostly through body language, which doesn’t lend itself to involved explanations like about why he would try to kill her.


I am a writer.

This blog is the ongoing saga of my writing experiences and thoughts, most centrally focused at the moment on my novel-in-the-works: Scorpion and Sandman.

Scorpion and Sandman
's two main characters, Quina and Red, actually started out as two of many characters in another novel project, Ocean of Fire, that I had started when I was around 14. That project, which I labored over for several years, has finally been put to rest, at least in that incarnation. But I loved the characters so much that I didn't want to let them die. I just didn't have a place for them.

Then National Novel Writing Month, 2009, rolled around. I wanted to join, but I didn't know what to write about. Then I remembered Quina and Red, my two favorite characters from the doomed Ocean of Fire, and decided to write their story as a full-length novel for NaNoWriMo.

30 days and 69,000+ words later, I had a manuscript in my hand. It was beautiful, but it was also horrible. Editing was the order of the day.

And so I began editing and have been editing since. It's not as steady an effort as I would like, but it is coming along nicely, despite competing with other projects in the works as well.

Welcome to the blog of a writer.