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.

Stories · Uncategorized

NaNo Dare Squad Story: The Magic Gingerbread Cookie

For last year’s NaNo Dare Squad result, I picked the dare to write a short Christmas eve story with three characters from any of my WIPs, one to be the child waiting for Santa, one to be Santa, and one to be a gingerbread cookie trying to survive the night.  Naturally I started it halfway through the year and am finishing it off at the last minute. Whoops! xD

[Unfortunately the story is presently incomplete as I cannot finish it before November with my hectic schedule, so here’s the first part.]

The Magic Gingerbread Cookie

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all was quiet as the young boy Desmond awaited Old Saint Nick…

Desmond sat on the couch in the living room and all was dimly lit by the lights of the Christmas tree and an electric candle or two atop the mantle. He wore space rocket pajamas, which made perfect sense for a boy of his age–

“No, I’m from the space age, get it right,” Des rebuked the narrator with a surprisingly deep voice. Never the matter–mind? Beside the point! It was Christmas Eve! Ahem!

Des waited in the living room. It wouldn’t be long till midnight, he couldn’t wait to finally spy out Santa. He admired the tree, checked the fireplace that it was quite cool, and made sure the stockings were all to one side so they wouldn’t flap in Santa’s way too much. Then he checked the cookies, bringing out the milk only then.

It was a lovely assortment of cookies, star-shaped sugar cookies, little cookies pressed with a chocolate, and…gingerbread men.

Des recoiled. What kind of sick freak makes cookies in the shape of people?! He picked up the plate and brought it to the kitchen. No one would eat those cookies! It was barbaric! Someone may as well go all the way and dress up as a xytar before eating a gingerbread man!

He pressed the can’s lever down with his foot, and the lid opened. He brushed the cookies down it, till one last gingerbread woman with dark frosting started to slide.

Do not throw me away.  A sharp voice filled his mind.

Des jolted back, and the lid fell shut because of the lighting of his foot.

“Who’s here?” he asked looking around, glad that Santa would be here soon if some trouble maker entered the house.

No voice sounded, so he pressed the trash can open again.

Do not drop me in there, you wretched creature!

Des looked down at the gingerbread cookie. Her face was partially covered by a black icing mask, but her frosted eyes were narrowed. There was nothing about her that was fitting for a Christmas cookie, no jolly red, no snowy white, nothing but black! Maybe a little green…

“What?!” Des said, shocked. Had some Christmas magic enchanted the cookie.

I will not be discarded by such a lowly being as you.  She hissed in his mind.

He was perturbed, but also angered. He stretched his foot out and opened the trashcan once more, and lifted his hand to pick up the cookie so he could throw her away.

But her eyes flashed with green and blue light.

I WILL NOT ORDER YOU AGAIN, CREATURE! DO NOT DARE SEND ME TO THE TRASH OR I WILL DESTROY YOU AND ALL YOU HOLD DEAR!

Desmond’s eyes grew wide,  so he moved to the island counter and opted to slide the cookie off onto it.

“Fine! Just sit there and turn to crumbs then! What kind of Christmas magic is this?!”

She hissed something again as he left to return the proper cookies to the coffee table.   Then he moved towards the couch and glanced at the clock.  It was only three minutes till midnight now! Des hid behind the couch with a blanket wrapped around him. There was no way Santa would sneak by this year!  His heart beat quickly as he waited.

The little mantle clock struck midnight with a lovely chime.

Des couldn’t believe his excitement, he was still awake, and he would see Santa!

A shiver in the air swept out from the chimney, the walls creaked as though something suddenly weighed down on the house from the rooftop. The silvery chill of winter air seemed to strike down to the fireplace, and there a figure clad in velvet of red trimmed with white fur straightened out from the fireplace, a red sack in hand. Des was shocked. This was not the Santa he knew.

“Merry Christmas!” the woman spoke directly to Des with good cheer.

“You’re Santa?” he asked in disbelief.

“For the evening, yes!” she said.

Des stood up, letting the blanket fall away from him. He stepped closer to get a better look at her.

The fluffy santa hat was fitted around a golden crown, only the rim of it shone on her forehead. Her hair was brown and curly, and her form was that of tall, solid adventurer. No fat santa, no beard, no white hair. What a mess!

“Why.” Des said flatly.

“Why are you complaining?” she asked. “I brought presents, I’m Santa as far as you’re concerned.” she began stuffing the stockings full of surprises made with splendor.

“But–” Des said.

“Dude, you’re as tall as me, you ain’t a kid. Get over it.”

Well, that’s a point. Des considered.

Then she turned to the tree, swinging the sack.

“Ooh, what nice cookies!” “Santa” said.

Des remembered his plight just then, as Santa picked up a normal Christmas cookie.

“Did you send any Christmas magic ahead of you?” Des asked.

She turned to him, confused, “What? No. I only bring the presents.”

“Well, I think, I think one of the Christmas cookies came alive–It’s in the kitchen,” Des added quickly as Kitallia glanced down at the plate of cookies.

“Well, that’s interesting…” Santa Kitallia said with a bit of a grin. “Did it tap dance or something.” She dropped the red sack of gifts next to the tree.

“No, it threatened me when I tried to throw it away.”

“Why’d you throw away a cookie?” she said, as he showed her into the kitchen.

“Because some moron baked cookies in the shape of PEOPLE!”

“Why’s that weird?”

Des stared at her like she was a…heathen except he doesn’t know that term. He gaped at her with an open mouth.

“What?” she said, taken aback.

“You don’t eat things in the shape of PEOPLE!” Des said heatedly.

“I can’t say I’ve encountered it much, but people decorate pies with fluffy bunnies, so…”

“Um, hello, the xytari eat people, and people don’t want to be reminded of that.”

Kitallia looked confused.

“The magic cookie is there,” he said, pointing to the counter. “I threw all the other cookies away.”

Kitallia stepped before the counter, examining the questionable confection.

“That’s a Christmas cookie?” Kitallia said in disbelief. “It looks like a funeral cookie. An angry funeral cookie.”

(Your funeral)

“No one has gingerbread men at funerals, that’s awful!” Des said.

“Well, it ain’t a festive cookie, bub!” Kitallia replied.

“Like I said, it was threatening me.”

“Maybe it wants to be eaten, that’s the purpose of cookies…”

Des did not have a chance to voice his outrage.

Perhaps you wish to be crushed in my jaws, foul creature!

Kitallia stared down at the cookie as faint blue lines glowed from its eyes.

“You don’t even have a mouth frosted on yourself, dummy!” Kitallia shouted back.

So Des wasn’t crazy, the fake Santa could hear it too.

I am no cookie! The voice screeched in their minds.

“Okay, baked good enchanted with delusions of grandeur, where’d you come from? Arbia? Or are you one of Miss Isle’s failed experiments?” Kitallia demanded.

Confusion flitted across Desmond’s face, he recognized no such places.

I AM THE QUEEN! The voice raged in their minds, and the cookie levitated up, little lines of magic flowing around her.

Des began to shake, but apparently Santa Kitallia was not perturbed by the arcane.

“Oh, wow, what of? The Queen of Candy Land?” Kitallia said, a hand on her hip. “I gotta say, monarch to monarch, you’re really no monarch.”

Santa isn’t a king! Des glowered at her.

ENOUGH OF YOUR INSULTS, I SHALL CALL MY SERVANTS AND YOU SHALL BOTH BE DEVOURED FOR YOUR HEEDLESSNESS!

Kitallia thrust out a fist, and flash of pink light blasted against the floating cookie, pushing it back.

YOU CANNOT DESTROY ME!

More magic surged through the cookie, rumblings began to sound, the house seemed to shake, and little flames began to swirl around her.

Kitallia let loose another blast of magic, getting angry at her tiny target. Des backed up, realizing he was not suited to be near a battle of mages. Even if one was a cookie.

I AM NOT A COOKIE! The voice shrieked in his head.

“Yeah, yeah, cuz people can totally be turned into cookies…” Kitallia said.

“Maybe they can?” Des said.

I AM NO HUMAN, I AM NOT LIKE YOU!

“What do you think she’s calling to have us eaten by?” Des said, worried that aliens would attack. He wasn’t sure if there was a weapon in the house.

Kitallia battled against the cookie flinging explosive spell after explosive spell at her, breaking cabinet fronts and toppling dishes to the floor.

“You’re destroying the kitchen!” Des shouted.

“Well this kinda seems to be dangerous magic!” Kitallia shouted back as the evil cookie shot tiny flames at her.

“It’s not even working!” Des said as Kitallia sent a crackle of energy into the the center of the cookie and nary a crumb fell off it.

You will both fall before me!

“Well punk, if you want to be useful, get your Christmas present out of that sack! You’ll certainly need it if this thing does call its friends against us!” Kitallia shouted.

SERVANTS! THERE IS NO EQUAL TO ME!

“Okay, I see you’re really fun at parties…” Kitallia snarled under her breath.

Des dashed into the living room and knelt down by the red sack and opened it up.

He found a large, oblong package labeled for him, and he tore open the paper, trying to ignore the sound of crashing and shattering emanating from the kitchen. Santa would need to reimburse them for damages, surely. But he gasped, then grinned.  Inside was none other than a fully functional plasma rifle. Not a toy gun, a real gun. Des decided right then and there, this strange Santa was better than Real Santa and nothing would change his mind on that.

Unless she blew up his house.

And got them killed.

That maybe was about to happen.

He stood up and stared at what could be seen of the kitchen, fire and flashes of dangerous magic zooming this way and that, shattering plates and vases, cracking cabinets, chipping the granite counters.

He had been a good boy all year and this was the reward for it?

“Die already!” Kitallia shouted at the cookie as another crackle of arcane energy cut through the air. Even though the cookie was dead center, it was only ever pushed around.

 

Spectra · Stories · Uncategorized · writing

October: NaNoWriMo Is Coming!

The writing hype is in full swing, making me internally squee in excitement even as my external being maintains firm silence.  It is the NaNo season!  And there are some things I need to do in preparation for it.

1 – Refine the story idea I have

Can’t tell if realistic futurism/sci-fi, or a dab of allegorical fantasy.  But it will be set in the real world, with a bit of dystopic, thriller flair, and all about the spiritual battlefield.  I want to depict the reality of carnage. I HAVE NO CHARACTERS EXCEPT VAGUE ONES THAT ARE BASICALLY COPIES OF SPECTRA CHARACTERS OR RECYCLED CHARACTERS FROM older things and bleh!

It is vague incoherence so far.  Oh well.  Still some time to fix that.

2 – Finish the  NaNo Dare Squad Story

I need to post a short story before November according to the dare prompt I picked last year.

3 – Get back into writing Spectra

Which I inadvertently did after word sprinting with a friend, with over 1,800 words and two scenes of Spectra drafted. I want to get more done, but so far I’ve been looking at my outline and thinking, “There’s so many scenes I haven’t written yet, this is overwhelming.” So there’s still a need for me to regularly write it again, on my own.

Right now I’m trying to refine the ending, because it’s not clear how to wrap it all up.  The main characters don’t really win, they just have to prepare themselves for future fights.  It’s definitely a tragic tone, but it doesn’t follow the typical tragedy plot structure, because that involves a flawed “hero” running to his doom.  Whereas these are characters stuck at the end of book 1 of a big series, so there’s no way things are gonna be neat and tidy at that point.

I guess I feel like I need some sort of culminating image or moment at the end to make it cohesive, but I don’t have any ideas.  The main POV characters’ climax seems generally anti-climatic, simply because they’re tired out from all the previous action and now face a dreary future.

This is further complicated by the likelihood of splitting off some of the plot points I originally had in Book 1 but need to move to a new book.  So I’m not sure where the cut-off mark is and if it would feel too abrupt or whatever.

I guess feeling like the ending will be gray and dreary does little to motivate me to finish up this book.  Perhaps I will need to have Dale and his team do some cool stuff and set off further explosions, to mark that they aren’t defeated yet, they will still fight furiously and increase the energy of the story.  Yeah, that’s a good idea.