Stories · writing

Methinks the Stories I Want Are Risky Territory

Reading this post by E. Darwin Hartshorn I got to musing about my own conflict with storytelling/art vs. money and how that all goes.

On the face of it, I tend to feel my most Presentable or debut-able stories that would likely be good options to draw readers are also the ones I have the least interest in. Certainly, there are times I enjoy them, but they don’t constantly draw me in. They are light, comedic, and fun, and one or two have room to be a series. All good things for drawing loyal readers to you to have the potential of making a living.

But they simply don’t intrigue me.

The stories that do draw me back again and again, that cling to my soul and wish to be told, instead feel like they will only ever be for a very tiny, niche audience. And unless that audience contains millionaires I won’t be making a living off of that.

But of course, I do not know how my stories will be received. I just think it’s a rather logical deduction to make. The stories that matter most to me involve the darkest of topics, from the personal to the societal scale. Suicidal despair in the face of a world (or galactic) system bent towards evil, destruction, and even genocide. Well, that is how a lot of us feel about the world today, but you know, it’s still pretty heavy to dive into as a story. But then, it’s the only thing I see as valuable enough to work on.

A lot of people view stories as simply entertainment. Often meant for mindless enjoyment. And while that’s probably just as well a lot of the time, I think stories are really meant to be a way to communicate the full human experience. Some stories need to be sad, heavy, tragic, and not particularly entertaining in that light, fun way, because stories are often the first time someone going through something realizes they aren’t alone, or gives them a way to open up about something hard. While it will undoubtedly have a level of entertainment from an intrigue and drama aspect, I think these sorts of stories are meant to be a tragic sort of comfort. As though sitting with someone in a desolate, ashen wasteland. It’s not pleasant, but there’s an undeniable sense of meaning within it.

Such stories are meant to be a gateway towards somber reflection and deep contemplation. That’s not to say they should be so tragic and harsh that they are utter misery to read through. They shouldn’t be tiresome, and it may only take the right balance of pacing to manage that.

Some stories are meant to entertain. Others are there to help you cry.

Some stories are meant to be a total escape. Others help you reckon with the world.

Some stories are all fun. Others let you say that God feels very far away in this messed up world.

That last one, I’ve lately realized, may in fact be the thematic thread through all of Spectra.

It is certainly Dale’s theme through the story.

Which is why I’m starting with him as I develop my art skill in preparation for Spectra.

I guess there’s only one way to find out the answer to the money question, draw this story and find out just how many people care about it.


All The Words Written

Recently I looked over all my various drafts I’ve written and created a list with all the word counts. These are all stories I have on my current computer, arranged by word count as of November 21st.

I obscured a few names because I wanted to list the word counts but don’t plan on continuing them.

So, that’s 159k words written…I’m thinking each month I’ll post a new chart showing improved word counts. I’m not sure if it will motivate me to write more, but it would be nice to keep track of things.

It would be nice if I could manage to write a novel series able to compete with Spectra.

Spectra · Stories · Uncategorized · writing

Camp NaNo Complete – Spectra Coming Along

My April camp goal was 15,000 words and I ended it with 16,210 written.

Because of that I added 8,704 words to Spectra 1, filling in scenes I’d put off writing for ages and filling in all the holes remaining with notes for future revision.  It made me realize that Spectra 1 is enormously depressing and it’s going to be tough to balance so it’s not a slog, however there’s not much I can add to increase purely fun action.

There is also I have to decide how a deadly plot point will unfold, I have options for it, but nothing’s felt striking yet.  Likewise there’s a worldbuilding aspect I still have to nail down regarding religion and spirituality.  Can’t decide what people in Spectran society generally believe about it, what the truth is for them, etc.  It’s much easier figuring out aliens in that contest, because they can go high fantasy without it breaking realism/verisimilitude.

So I have that to figure out next.  But with the depressing aspects it feels harder to form it into a novel, whereas as a webcomic it would at least have nice visuals to uplift the mood.  I really can’t decide how to approach it.

Stories · Uncategorized · writing

Writing Block: Apparently I Need an Antagonist

I’m reading a book called Write Like a Beast by Adam Lane Smith, and the first part covers character creation, with emphasis on creating the antagonist first and then the protagonist, as the antagonist drives the plot while the protagonist first reacts to trouble before getting proactive about it.

And therein lies the problem for Sheyla in book 1, probably for half the book she has no direct antagonist, no direct conflict.  Before the war there is only some tension, unease, and sadness about future changes, but there’s no direct, decisive conflict the way there is for the rest of the series where she always is fighting against something in some way.

But what kind of real, concrete antagonist can I give an 11-year-old girl that fits with a peacetime to wartime switch?  I can’t do something boring like a school bully, it would be dumb and out of place for the type of story it is (not to mention a mage bully would not be tolerated in their society).

I guess this is why dystopian stories usually start inside the dystopia, rather than before it’s taken over.

The only direct antagonist I can think of is a mage hunter, but again, that only works once it’s in the war part of the story, and at that point it doesn’t matter because there’s already trouble in her face.  But before?  I legit have no idea right now.  Maybe I could give her paranoia about aliens, or something a bit supernatural, but those seem too close to abstractions, which there are enough of already.  I can’t really have a dangerous antagonist, but it can’t be too normal…It still needs to point to danger.

Spectra · Uncategorized

2020 Goals: Figure Out How to Get Spectra Going

I feel a bit late writing this since it’s a couple weeks into the new year, but whatever, I want to join the fun since my friends wrote goal posts on writing.  Initially I thought I would only plan: “Get real life sorted out so I can do any sort of writing/storytelling again,” which still has to happen.  But…I’ve been thinking about how much I want to work on Spectra and get it going, so there is my writing goal for 2020.

Now I have two ideas about how to move forward with Spectra.  One is to complete a novel or two of the beginning with only Sheyla’s POV, to keep it simple and less intimidating.  And the other is to start drawing the comic as a whole and accept that it will likely be drawn in a way that will require redrawing later.  I’m still pretty scared to get it out into the world, I still feel like I’m not ready (but I’ll probably never feel ready so I should probably start already…) and it’s so big I don’t know how to break it down and persevere through drawing it all.

I really want to see it in comic form, but I have no patience for drawing these days given the aforementioned real life issues taking up most of my mental energy.  Meanwhile, I could work on the novel, but I never feel like I’m writing it how it’s meant to be, or that there’s too much left to vagueness.  For instance, I gloss over Sheyla’s parents without trying to develop them, but I don’t think that makes sense given that Sheyla would care about them and be affected by them but wow, I don’t want to bother, I want to get to the explosions already.

That’s the problem with kid Sheyla and the beginning of the story, there’s no action or explosions, which is not at all representative of the rest of the story.

The very beginning always feels flat, like it’s colorless and muted.  Maybe I’d be better off skipping all of it in the novel.  Except I need to answer my own questions about certain events that happen at that point, and I don’t want to leave them all vague.  So I still have to do the work of figuring it out even if I don’t novelize it.

Probably I’m just overthinking and being too anxious over it all and it’d be better to just get started rather than worrying about polishing every single facet of the story, but ARGH! Things still bother me!

Skipping ahead isn’t really possible, but maybe condensing down the backstory elements would help…See it all flows nicely in my head, it would make for a nice movie or tv series beginning.  I don’t think it’s innately boring, it’s just frustrating to write.  It’s missing those sorts of scenes I’m really excited to get to, the kind the middle is usually full of.

I think I’ve rambled enough on this post, it was supposed to be about setting goals, not venting story problems.  Anyway, so that’s all on my mind and I’ll see what can come of Spectra if I keep focusing on it.