Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Jolene, the Tsundere Hot Mess

I did it again. I focused too much on prep work, and not anything on actual execution. So, yet again, I have nothing to show for this week's writing.

While trying to figure out Jolene's many past loves and paramours, I started up a timeline of her life. I'm still tweaking it, but I think I have it more-or-less figured out. Thing is, I spent so much time creating and altering this timeline, that I didn't get any actual writing done.

That is, aside from another couple of Jolene's journal entries for the sessions I did this past week.

Boy, is she going down a spiral.... She's also increasingly Tsundere. For those who don't know the Japanese loan word, I'm going to swipe from TV Tropes for a simplified definition: "The Japanese term tsundere refers to a character who "runs hot and cold", alternating between two distinct moods: tsuntsun (aloof or irritable) and deredere (lovestruck)." Sometimes, this alternating happens within a sentence of each other. For instance, a mother scared to death about a potentially hurt child. She'll rush up to him, look him over, cry about how worried she was while asking if the child is ok. Once she knows her child is fine, she might smack him across the back of the head for making her worry so much. It's kind of a reverse Tsundere, but that's the basic idea.

And, boy howdy, is Jolene becoming almost destructively Tsundere!

The more that she falls for Rensin, the more terrified she becomes. Both of her emotions, and of the thought that she could lose him. She doesn't have a constructive way of dealing with her feelings, and so chaos spews from her. I guess it's a self-destructive, self-fulfilling prophecy. She is terrified of losing Rensin, and so she'll unintentionally push him away in order to prove that she's been right all along: he'll leave her.

Rensin's even talking about exactly that in his journal: he can't stand the constant fighting, and her tearing him down; not wanting him to be himself. He might have to give her up emotionally.

Oh, Jolene! And the worst part is, I can obviously empathize because she's my character, but Bear has no sympathy at all: "*shrugs* By her own doing. Really can't feel bad for someone that knowingly does it."

She doesn't though! Not really! She believes this is normal behavior. No one taught her how messed up she is! That's why it's such a struggle for her to change. But, since most are seeing her from the outside in, they are judgmental of her; just like in the real world.

True, I wouldn't want any of my friends or family dating someone like Jolene, because I want to protect them from the vortex of chaos that would spew forth, but I wouldn't necessarily judge said chaos-bomb without knowing the facts. I know. This has actually happened in the past year a couple of times....

So... an example of Jolene's Tsundere-ness being misinterpreted; although, it's an understandable misinterpretation due to no one else being in her head....

Jolene went on a solo-quest this week to go pick paralyzing mushrooms for a local business, and while on said quest, nearly got mauled to death by a pair of bears. With a little help of an elf ranger that Jolene hired to come along, she managed to take down both bears essentially by herself. A feat she should have been proud of, and one she probably would have been if her quest was "successful," by her standards.

She volunteered to pick mushrooms - something she knew NOTHING about; couldn't even pick out which mushrooms were the right ones to pick - because she figured it would be a simple way to make some coin. Plus, she had heard rumors that the shop that wanted the mushrooms also does black-market dealings on the side. She wanted to use the mushroom request as a means to "get in good" with the store, and then possibly use that connection to find out about the demon-blood drug ring that the party had been tracking.

Diddly squat. The blacksmith that paid her for the mushrooms had no clue what Jolene was talking about, and was offended at the implication that the store sold more than honest wares. Plus, Jolene now had to share her loot with someone that wasn't with the party. She got no info, and only half the gold she could have brought back to the group. So, killing those bears felt like a waste. They didn't have to die, because the whole quest was a flop.

Had she been able to get information, she'd proudly proclaim to the group how she got the lead, and gloat about taking down the bears. Oh, the highs and lows....

Instead, she hid that she even had an interaction with bears - aside from Mahtab, whom she went to for healing - and didn't mention the quest at all. However, the fear of those two bears attacking her stuck with her, and Rensin - while he took two others with him, and Dunina was the one who nearly died this time - went off to kill a wyvern in order to save a town. A noble quest that ended up being TWO wyverns. Well, Jolene found out about this, and it terrified her.

Rensin was nearly killed THE DAY BEFORE by the main drug runner they were looking for. Instead of resting, he was determined to train and become stronger, so he took on one of the most dangerous quests they came across. One that was a noble quest that seemed perfect for him. He would be able to save/help the most people through this quest, it required strength - his main contribution to the party - he had allies to help him, and his father became famous for taking down a dragon on his own. Surely his spawn Rensin could take on smaller wyverns with a group with him!

Rensin was proud that he took the two wyverns down, and lived to tell the tale; something not many could do. He was proud that he helped save a town. He was also proud of the craftsmanship he put into making Jolene a rapier to help her become stronger in battle; something she constantly whined about.

Does Jolene praise him for helping the village? Does she stand in awe at his bravery and strength in taking down not one, but two wyverns? Does she thank him for putting in the time to make her a gift?

NOPE! Tsundere Jolene just feels the rush of fear from the bear attack, imagines the danger increased tri-fold in regards to two wyverns, remembers the terror she felt as Rensin's breath was slowly leaving him after the drug runner's attack, and she can't handle the fear. She starts shaking as she yells at him for being an idiot. For not resting up to make sure he's fully healed. For going after a dangerous quest where he could have been killed. For seeing his father's tale as an honorable love story - as it was intended - instead of a cautionary tale - as Jolene sees it.

She doesn't see Balthazar slaying a dragon literally single handed - his other arm was bitten off - while on a hunt to prove his worthiness to Rensin's mother as a story of Balthazar's endless love for his intended wife and their son. Instead, Jolene saw it as selfish; trying to bolster his own pride to "prove" himself, instead of doing so by simply being there for the family he loved, and providing for them.

Jolene just doesn't get the Northerners' ways or their strict devotion to their pride. Because of this, she sees these acts of great deeds as selfish, foolhardy, and suicidal. Why risk your life for the sake of pride, when you could live a long, quiet, safe life with the people you love?

So.... she went off on him. She loved the sword he made her, and was instantly overwhelmed by the gesture, but her fear of losing Rensin on that mountain to two wyverns took precedence. She screamed at him and belittled his quest. Even her ignoring his gift wounded him.

Once again, much like when she flirted in front of Rensin in order to try to find info to regain the sentimental trinket stolen from him, she showed her relentless love for Rensin in the most self-destructive way possible. The more she loves him, the more she unintentionally pushes him away. And in the end, when he does finally leave, she still won't realize it was because of her. She'll find him stupid for not understanding her, and consider it "typical": everyone she loves ends up leaving her.

It is entirely her own fault. I do not excuse her of her actions, but it's still a bit of a bummer that I can't even get sympathy from my DM.... Maybe because he's been burned by people like Jolene....

To be fair, though, his quote about her doing it to herself was actually in reference to a curve ball he just threw at me.

I was joking with Mouse that maybe Jolene was being so overly emotional because she was pregnant with Rensin's kid, and no one knows this yet since it's only been about 20 days or so since they slept together. This then led to the realization that Jolene was a prostitute.... for the better part of three years.... and had very frequent income.... which means a WHOLE BUNCH of customers. Especially since she kept moving from town to town to town, I guesstimated around 500 men over the course of her career. Shear volume alone called for Bear to do some rolling. There was just NO way - unless she was sterile or purposely avoided clients while ovulating - that she didn't get pregnant at least once.

I never even took this into consideration when I built her. I just waved the magical "fantasy world" wand that decreed: unless I wanted it in my backstory; pregnancies aren't a thing....

Well... the Dice Have Spoken, and apparently Jolene got pregnant within the first year of prostitution, but miscarried. Got pregnant again the second year, carried it to term, but it died shortly after birth. The third time around, though, she gave birth, and it survived. So..... why doesn't she have this kid? What did she do the two times she carried a child to term? How did she handle the one child dying? How'd she handle the miscarriage?

Her backstory got a hell of a lot more interesting, but these are all questions that I didn't even consider. I now have to figure them out, as well as work the answers into her psyche. As well as figure out why she didn't confess about her motherhood during the great Expelling of Deceit scenes....

And, frankly, given what I know of Jolene's psyche, I really don't see her giving up the second child. I see her attempting to settle down and raise the kid. All she really wants is that unconditional love; a family; a deeper connection. Why give that up? Was it forcefully taken from her? Did she go for the "I want what's best for my child" approach? Also, WHEN were these pregnancies? Because that's about 5 months or so each late-term pregnancy, where she'd be showing, and most likely not getting customers....

I sent Bear my timeline of Jolene's life - minus the pregnancies curve ball - in hopes of him helping me sort this out. We'll see how it goes.

So.... yeah.... that's what I've been doing this week instead of writing my 1000-word story for Ronoxym's challenge....

But, hey, maybe it's still good NaNo prep?

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

All Aboard the Jolene Train!

Yup. Full-on obsession with Jolene. I literally can't focus on any other character right now. I guess it's a good thing that the X-Future boards have been dead since June - more or less - because I don't know if I could even play as any of those girls right now.

Probably doesn't help that I'm playing Jolene multiple times a week now. We have our normal weekly game, and then a "side quest" day of your choosing.

Bear started creating bounty posters - the one for Jolene is awesome! - as well as quest requests that are posted on the "community boards." In-game, these are boards in a central location of any given town so that everyone can see and possibly respond to the quests/bounties. In the real world, these are side-quests posted on the forum Mouse made at the beginning of the month. You choose what quest you want, a good time for everyone is coordinated, and the questing begins!

Jolene had a solo quest that was both a success and complete fail last night, Mahtab had an epically successful solo quest yesterday afternoon, and Rensin, Corlmitz, and Dunina are all doing a quest tomorrow night. It's a fun added element that not many DMs utilize.

Now, again, aside from explaining why I'm obsessed with Jolene, what does any of this have to do with my writing? Well, for one, the more sessions we have, the more journal entries Jolene will write. I still need to write up the one for last night, but with the other game sessions we've had, I added nearly another 1700 words to her journal this past week. I'm probably going to add at least a couple hundred more today once I write up the next journal entry.

I've also done some brainstorming with Shadow. I wanted to find a picture for the now infamous Jacob Highwin; Jolene's first true love. In the process of trying to track down something that both matched the picture in my head, and match the hype I've written about him thus far in-game, I stumbled upon a bunch of other pictures I liked.

Soon I had a collection of pictures of beautiful men drawn in High-Fantasy style. I decided to add them to the roster of Jolene's past loves. I've named Jacob, as well as the other four men who swore to be with her forever, only to dump her. I started matching up pictures with these names, and when I was done, I still had a few extra. So I gave them some backstory connecting them to Jolene as well.

I then passed the pictures over to Shadow, along with complete improv storytelling of each man, his love affair with Jolene, and why it didn't work out. It just flowed from me, and I only felt the need to slightly tweak a couple of elements.

In the end, I had about a dozen named lovers - ignoring the countless nameless clients Jolene had taken up over the years. I also had a small story involving each of them.

I think I have my new NaNo concept for this year. One that can help me stay with Jolene, and maybe get me to the winning 50,000 words this year. I think I'm going to write about Jolene's love affairs. A chapter or two for each beau. As it is, I'm looking at about 4,000 words per love(r). I'm also assuming that Jacob would get either a lengthy chapter or two, given Jolene was in love with him for about seven years.

This will probably turn into a 70,000 word novel once done....

I've even unofficially started NaNo prep for this story already. A little less than a week ago, after I came up with the skeleton of Jolene's past with these men, I decided to get her actual life timeline - as it were - down on paper. Coincidentally, Bear asked for exactly that about an hour after I started.

Anyway, so, I'm still painstakingly working on this timeline, but I am up to four pages; bulleted. I'm essentially going Year by Year with different major factors of any given season listed on the timeline. As of right now, these "main points" include things like her mother's many miscarriages, and when Jolene fell in love with the next man in her life.

I'll have to come up with a better visual aid for her 21-yrs before I post it officially anywhere, because it's a jumbled mess right now. At least I can understand it, though, and that's what matters.

It will be exciting to have something to read at group again once I actually START this project. Last week I ended up reading the first six entries for Jolene's journal; in other words: first four game sessions, more-or-less. As predicted, the group got a bit lost without the context of the game that lead to that entry. However, they did say that there was ENOUGH in the journals to intrigue them; make them wonder what DID happen. They also enjoy Jolene's personality, which is fun.

They'd love for me to turn the journal into a novel. This means I'd have to find a way to add more detail to a journal-entry-based story so people can actually see the story unfold; not just Jolene's reaction to the events. It's a fun concept, but I don't know if I could re-do Jolene's present. It wouldn't be Jolene if she didn't have this battle about her love for Rensin, this sibling-like respect for Corlmitz, distrust of the cleric Mahtab, or struggle to keep the corruption of the Prime Evil Deceit under control. I couldn't write a story about all of that though, without just transcribing an already transcribed game. It wouldn't be original. It wouldn't "count."

However, there IS something that could be said about converting a good game into a novelization for others to read. I feel like this either hasn't been done before, or only done very rarely before. Then again, just about every geek/nerd has had that ONE game or ONE character that was just so epic it is ALWAYS the fall-to story among your friends.

Hubby has that with his elf character Zalic. Even if you weren't part of the game that Zalic was in, he is still infamous within our group. There is another campaign where Shadow consistently rolled so high for a random NPC that the character not only got a name - Mandito Atarme - but he got his own CHURCH dedicated to him. Then there are tales like this comic I recently found, and now proceed to read whenever I need to weep with laughter:
Read the full comic "Fated"
Written by Jasmine Walls, Illustrated by Amy Phillips
My point being, there might actually be a demand for fun games getting narrated for other geeks to consume. I'd obviously get the OK from all the players first, and count them as co-authors since there wouldn't be a story without them.... Heck, this might also be a "thing." I mean, I've been trying to do the same thing with X-Future via Glitches, but this time I really can't make this story original. This D&D game is just too good as-is.

There's action, drama, intrigue, mystery, danger, angst, and humor - although, I do kind of wish the humor would be a bit higher. We're so serious in this game!


Sorry. Obsessing again. I guess that's my cue to wrap this up.

To recap: I have written this past week, about 1700 words, but it's for Jolene's journal, which my writing group wishes I could add more to so it could be a stand-alone story. However, there's a possibility that I might just get permissions from Bear and the group to novel-ize the transcripts of our games instead of trying to come up with an original story for Jolene, since it won't be the same without the people surrounding her. In the meantime, I'm going to focus on Jolene's backstory, and finish working on the timeline of her past. This will help me with my new NaNo concept of writing about Jolene's many love affairs throughout the course of her young life.

Mixed into all of this is my struggle to think of something NOT relating to Jolene that I could write a flash fiction about, in order to keep up with Ronoxym's challenge for me. As it is, I've missed two weeks.

So, in order to not miss any more weeks, I'm bending the rules a little bit again.

I wrote a story from the perspective of one of Jolene's slighted lovers. It's not necessarily Fanfiction, since it doesn't have a well-publicised "source material" such as a novel, movie/TV show, or game. I mean, there IS D&D, but you could just claim that as generic high fantasy. So, skirting around rule 1. Rule 2 is that it cannot relate or continue previous entries, and it does not since none of the other three have anything to do with Jolene. Rule 3 is that I cannot write about a character I've already created, and I didn't create the character of Orick until after I wrote this story. It's another bend of the rules, but it works, right?

Anyway, cheating a bit or no, this story still - more-or-less - has the spirit of the challenge, so I'm counting it.

"Lost Love"

Now, to write Jolene's history, come up with details about these men so I can write about them next month, as well as figure out what to do for my flash fiction this week. Busy, busy, busy!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Jolene Obsessed

I really hate the last quarter of the year. My writing always seems to get away from me at the last quarter of the year.

Sorry about missing last week's post, folks. I guess I owe you two catch-up weeks now.

An old college friend of mine that I haven't seen since graduation was on a week-long getaway with her husband to celebrate their first year anniversary. On their way home, they swung by to visit us. So, that's what I was doing last Tuesday instead of working on this post. I should have done so ahead of time, but Sunday and Monday Night football has been killing me with that.

Anyway, I want to give a shout out to Massachusetts and Boston, as well as Mouse and Bear - whose anniversary was yesterday - Happy One Year, you guys!

Now, as for my writing..... it's both good and bad. My freetime at home seems to be getting smaller and smaller, and so I have to really work on breaking down my time there to try to get more organized. In the meantime, my only time for writing and reading is at work. With Holiday Season creeping up quick, the store has actually been moderately busy, so not terribly too much writing there either.

So, sadly, I have nothing to show for these two weeks. Not to say I haven't written, just not anything that holds well on its own.

I'm still obsessing over Jolene, to be blunt.

A few weeks back Mouse started up a forum for the D&D game Bear runs. It's kind of an unofficial Wikia page for the game and the world it's played in. She's slowly posting about locations, the religions, and legends that the bards would sing about. That way we know more of the world and the stuff our characters should know being raised there.

The big thing, though, are the sections for our characters. Each of us has one with three sub-threads: life goals; profile/backstory; journal.

I posted Jolene's backstory, but it doesn't seem nearly as in-depth as some of the others. Both Mouse and Corlmitz's player have a multi-post thread of their characters' backstories. I have to say, I'm a bit entranced by Corlmitz's writing. Leave it to me to role play with a bunch of writers that are so good I again feel pathetically inferior!

As I said, I didn't really focus much on Jolene's past. I gave the broad strokes: She was a lonely child, trusted/fell in love with the wrong person, did the same thing four more times, gave up on love, became a prostitute, was nearly killed by a client, gave up on humanity and trust, became a thief as a side-business to prostitution, met up with the group. Obviously my backstory post is a bit more detailed than THAT, but it's not multi-chaptered like Corlmitz or Mahtab.

My main focus was that journal section. The big thing with Jolene is that her trust issues prevent her from really speaking her mind and feelings about what has happened each game. The journal section now allows her to do so. Granted, this is all Out-of-Character knowledge for any of the players that may read it, so it won't really help Jolene in the long run, but I'm hoping this helps the other players at least get a better understanding of why Jolene is the way she is. Poor, closed off, misunderstood thing....

So, my main task since Mouse created the forum, has been to reread the entire game log session by session, and write out Jolene's journal reaction to them. No one else seems to be utilizing the Journal threads as much as I am, but it really helps me get into Jolene's head. It's kind of moot since any grand discoveries I have with her on past sessions can't translate INTO the sessions that have already past, but it helps me build up to the next one. And from now on I can update the journal right after sessions to keep her emotions fresh.

I like watching her feelings for Rensin grow, and with them, her denial that they're real; her need to rebuke her attachment, and her desire to cut him off. I also knew that Mahtab annoyed her, but I didn't realize to what degree she actually DISTRUSTED the cleric. Poor Mouse. It's okay, I the player understands Mahtab! Jolene just isn't a trusting person.....

Which brings me to the biggest surprise of them all when I was journaling. The person Jolene trusts the most out of the whole group - including Rensin - is Corlmitz. There's a connection there that she can't quite figure out. It would be fun if she was emotionally torn between the two men, but it's not even that. There's no attraction there - sorry, Half-Orc... she's a bit shallow... - but respect. She kind of thinks of Corlmitz as an older brother she'd hate to disappoint. So she hates herself for doing exactly that. Especially since it seems to be him that rescues her all the time; speaks up for her all the time.

Well, as I said, it might not be something that I can share with you guys - without the context of the game play, I don't know if any of her journaling would make sense and/or be enjoyable to read. Still, I wrote over 3400 words the first week the forum was up, and this past week I wrote a little over 3200 more. It's something, but I don't know if it's really helping anything.

I haven't been working on Ronoxym's weekly flash-fiction challenge because I can't think of anything aside from Jolene. The best I had was an 800-word start to a psuedo-backstory tale for Jolene. An explanation as to why telling the truth is so hard for her; namely, because she thinks she IS telling the truth when she tells the lies she believes or when she tells half-truths. She doesn't know HOW to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. The snaffu - aside from breaking the "no fanfiction" rule for the challenge - is that the concept of the story is Deceit, one of the Prime Evils, is telling the story of how he's "raised" Jolene since conception. However, the story is told by Deceit, so naturally the reader is going to go into it taking the story with a grain of salt; never trusting that what Deceit is telling them is true.

I thought of flipping the script and having the Virtue of Wisdom telling the story instead, but the joy of Jolene's slip into deception and living on lies would have to be reworked. I'm still not sure what to do with this tale, but at least it's more words....

All the word count; none of the content to show. I don't even know what to read at group tonight. Plus, I'm not prepping at all for NaNo. I may have to shelve the Gyateara story rework until next year and just figure out how to write a Jolene story next month. Especially if I'm so obsessed with her.

I don't even really know anymore. I'm hoping to get some clarity this week so I know what the heck I'm doing next month!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Running a Little Shallow This Week

OK, so I missed my "double post" last week. My Thursday got away from me. I do still intend on having one in the near future to talk about the reading challenge again.

As for my writing challenge, though, eh, I'm a bit sunk. I think I have a cold coming on, because I can't think of anything new. It is just complete blank up there. Either that, or I'm obsessively "Jolene" up in there.

She managed to survive the Wednesday session last week, but it stirred up a bunch of drama. Drama that continued on Saturday. She's trying so hard to be good, but she's really bad at it....

So, trying to think of a story that doesn't involve her or Rensin is super tough right now. I tried all week. I tried all weekend. I tried again yesterday. Nothing.

The best that I had was an anecdote I told a couple of friends the other day. I don't recall why I brought it up; must have been SOMETHING dealing with putting your foot in your mouth. A subject I know far too well, sadly.

Since I end up telling just about everyone this story anyway, as a means to make them feel better about their own temporary stupidity, I figured "Eh, might as well." It was a super quick write on Saturday. Mostly due to the fact that I've told the story so frequently. Plus, it's only about 500-words long.

My issue is that it is only 500-some words when I'm allotted up to 1000, and it's not a story I "created". It's an anecdote.

Still, it was better than no story at all this past week, so I typed that sucker up. I then tried to come up with an actual story to use for the challenge, but that only resulted in a small Jolene/Rensin scene that also was about 500-words long.

I'm hoping I can get back on my game this week.

In the meantime, enjoy my greatest idiotic moment, and keep this sucker bookmarked for the next time you feel like an idiot:

"Did I Just Say That?"

My biggest issue is that it's not exactly easy for a laser-focused person to come up with something new on the fly every week like this. As opposed to ADHD Ronoxym who is constantly thinking of something new. I guess that's kind of the irony of our challenges to each other: I want him to be more focused, while he wants me to be able to have creative inspiration constantly.

It kinda works, though, because we're helping each other with our weaknesses. Intending to, at least.

The only real problem is that while I'm struggling to think of something new each week, and I'm obsessing about Jolene's next weekly session, I am completely dropping my NaNo prep. I don't even know the last time I at least THOUGHT about that story. Maybe that should be my focus today. Who knows, perhaps in my prepping for that I can think of something for Ron's challenge.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Playing Massive Catchup

Alright, well, I definitely didn't intend on completely skipping last week! I was doing so good, too.

I don't have a real valid excuse. My excuse is simply that I had to work last Tuesday, and also...
Here's the quick play-by-play of the past two weeks:
  • Wednesday 9/7 - On death's door; crashed after work
  • Thursday - Work until 8pm, and then OPENING GAME OF REGULAR SEASON FOOTBALL! We were up until midnightish.
  • Friday - Work followed by me zoning out on the couch for hours on end trying to figure out how to level up my character in Bear's campaign.... It was bad....
  • Saturday - Work again, half-hour break, and then straight into the weekly D&D session. Things are starting to look bad for Jolene. Me and Bear decided I need to do a solo-session with her to figure out background stuff. I stayed up until it's time to take Hubby into work.
  • Sunday - Drop Hubby off; couple hours of sleep; pick him up; work; and then straight into the Giant's rival game! Sunday night football - minus a half-hour between the afternoon and evening games - kept us up until midnightish again.
  • Monday - My coworker convinced me to join her in Aerial Yoga. So, right after work, instead of working on this post - knowing full well that I couldn't write it Tuesday due to working - I went to yoga with her, and then straight into the Monday Night Football double-header. By the time the games were over and I was back home it was around 1am.
  • Tuesday - Work, and at that point I had been up for so many days in a row that I just zoned out instead of writing this post AFTER work, so that it could go up Wednesday.
  • Wednesday - More work, and then straight into laundry. I was going to work on this post there, but it was the only free time Bear had for my solo play. It kept nearly the full two hours I was at the laundromat, and then another hour or so after I got home. Then quick folding/hanging of my clothes before bed.
  • Thursday - My 10hr day at work, leading directly into football again. Another late nighter.
  • Friday - While this was yet another day that I had every intention of writing my late post, it turned into me cleaning week-long neglected dishes, as well as working on a new weekly challenge Ronoxym gave me; something I'll talk about more in this post.
  • Saturday - Work yet again, then about half-hour down time for food, followed by the D&D session leading straight from the Wednesday solo-session. Jolene is REALLY in trouble now, but Bear had to crash early for work, so we had to kind of stop right in the body of the drama! We're continuing with a short session tomorrow night, and I've been antsy about it since Saturday night! More on this in the blog too.
  • Sunday - Hubby drop off; Hubby pick up; work; football. I was going to use the much more mellow atmosphere of football watching this week to FINALLY get to my blog, but at that point I figured I'd just write last week off and wait until today.
  • Monday - Home stretch. Last day of work before my day off; FINALLY. Aerial Yoga was cancelled, so I left work and just vegged all night; enjoying my freedom.
I feel so bad. Not only did I miss my blog post, but I also haven't had contact with my email pen-pal in nearly two weeks. My brain has been so burnt out that every time I open the email to respond to her my eyes cross and drop focus. So, I guess I know what I'm doing when I'm done with this post.

I've been slacking a bit on my prep for NaNo, and my writing has died down a bit with my brain being all fuzzy, but I haven't stopped completely.

On Friday the 9th I was able to get a hold of Ronoxym via FB messenger. Generic "how's things" talk for a little bit. I then tried to strong-arm him into doing NaNoWriMo with me and Cyhyr. I think I MIIIIGHT have convinced him, but he's a busy boy, so who knows? Between work, new-fatherhood, and going back to school, I have no clue where he'll find the time. Still, I'll be evil and poke him during November to ask how his writing is going.

Anyway, as we were talking "shop" I reminded him that he never gave me the writing challenge he said he made up for me back in January/February. After a brief moment of "Uh... let me remember what it was...." he gave me my challenge: write a new 1000-words or less flash fiction each week!

I'm now REALLY glad that he had forgotten about exchanging challenges until just now. Finishing up the last quarter of the year with this challenge will be interesting enough. A full 52 weeks of it might have killed me....

So, writing a complete story/scene/whatever in 1000-words or less is already super hard for long-winded me, but Ron wasn't done yet. Not only did I have to write flash fiction each week for the remainder of 2016, but I also had restrictions:
  1. None of the stories could relate to each other. They couldn't continue off each other. I couldn't thread a bunch of 1000-word scenes into a full story. Each flash fiction had to be a one-shot.
  2. I couldn't write about characters I already created. No X-Future girls, no D&D characters "behind the scenes" stories, no characters from original stories I already wrote. Each new, flash fiction had to be about completely different characters.
  3. No. Fan. Fiction. None. No playing in someone else's sandbox. Not only could I not use my own characters, but I definitely can't use someone else's. Each week. New characters. Completely original.
I'd call him mean - and I think I actually did in our conversation - but I wasn't exactly kind to him either when I gave him his challenge at the beginning of the year; not that it matters, he had forgotten about it with all the chaos of Baby-Prepping.

OH! And speaking of Ron, he and ChibiSunnie just celebrated their birthdays! Happy birthday to probably my two writing besties!
Aaaaand we're back....

So anyway, my nervousness about Ron's challenge quickly turned into excitement. An adorable elder couple came into the store a few days prior, and they inspired me. I had my first story done within 24-hrs of getting my challenge.

When I was done I was actually at like 1013 words, though, so I had to grumble and cut until I was at EXACTLY 1000 words; still counts! Also, I cheated slightly. What I wrote wasn't a scene per se. There was no action. There was no dialogue. There was no true movement of character. Instead, it was a snapshot of a man dealing with his wife dying from cancer; what is known as a vignette.

A story is still told, but at the same time the elements of a "scene" are missing: the action; the growth.
"Screw 'Til Death"

I read this story at writing group last week. I think I have stronger faith that the lack of critiques each week is due to my skill; not their neglect.

When I finished reading there was just this profound silence, and then this group exhale. I had comments like "Wait, you're HOW OLD again, and can write so poignantly about a couple in their late sixties?" and "I've been through this, and let me tell you, you've nailed it." Just about everyone at the table said similar: I captured the pain of losing someone you've loved your whole life; the loss of self along with your partner. Granted, after seeing my mother go through it, it wasn't a hard stretch to be empathetic towards those in that situation.

That's when Carson nervously pitched in a cautious "I don't mean to insult you, but... why do you write fanfiction when you can write like THAT!?" The room echoed his sentiment. He always seems to be able to put words to what everyone else seems to think.

I was probably blushing nearly as bad as when I read "Rensin's Conquest" to them. I had to admit to them what I've already admitted here: I know full well that I use fanfiction as a crutch to get past the "hard bits" of writing; namely creating the world and characters. Yet, I still fall back into the crutch because it was what always got me writing in the past, and writing fanfiction is better than no writing at all, right?

Still. It's SUPER encouraging to hear them all astonished at how well I wrote that tale. I don't know how they'll feel about the next one I wrote this past Friday, though. Not nearly as emotional, and in the realm of fantasy; which most of the group isn't really into.

As I stated in my weekly recap above, Jolene isn't really doing very well. The session tomorrow night might actually see her untimely demise.

While I'm of course fighting to prevent that, I also must let the character make her own decisions and let the chips fall where they may. I already have her swan song written up should it go that far.

Since Jolene may not last much longer, I've started trying to find inspiration for my next character. I flipped though about twenty or so pictures people have drawn of characters created for fantasy games. Among them was this amazing picture.
Bard Ariane by Lapis-Razuri
Isn't she adorable!? I instantly knew that she was going to be the basis of my next character. Right off the bat I figured I'd make her a gnome. She also looks playful, like she doesn't really take anything seriously. She looked spunky, like she had a lot of "moxie." So I needed to figure out a good name for that.

With some playing, I figured "why not a name that - in theory - people could shorten to 'Moxie'?" Some more playing around, and I came up with the name Elymoxa. I personally shorten it to just Mox, but I'm assuming the group would shorten it to Ellie. However, the potential for "Moxie" is there, and that's all that matters to me.

Anyway, since she's not officially a character yet, I stretched the restrictions of Ron's challenge a bit, and I used her for my second flash fiction. Consider it a way to get to know her. Time-order-wise, since I haven't opened the Players Handbook even once to start officially creating her, you could say she's an original character I liked enough to make into a D&D character to play.... That makes this past week's story count for the challenge, right?

If you want a nice intro to Mox - who will probably change while I play her, because that's how it ALWAYS happens with my characters - then you can check out my flash fiction for week 2 of the challenge:
"No Time for Playing"

If you want to follow along before I post in my weekly blogs for the remainder of the year, you can watch the anthology I've pieced together for these one-shots. It's called "Ronoxym's Flash Fiction Challenge." And, yes, it does occur to me that perhaps the name is a bit confusing. I'm LycoRogue, and it says Ronoxym's, but I was tired last Friday when I set it up. Besides, Ron was the one who challenged me. It made sense at the time. I might have to go back and change it though at some point....

The trick is to figure out what to write for this week's challenge....

The other trick is to get back on track with NaNo prep while dealing with the drama of Jolene's doom, and let me tell you, she has NOT shut up since the solo session last Wednesday! It's snippets and mini-speeches, but I have a couple pages worth over the course of the past week.

I'm really liking Jolene and her relationship - strained as it is - with the clueless Rensin. Even the setting of the campaign is awesome. I just wish I understood it a bit better so that Jolene could have played around in it a bit more. Perhaps Jolene and Rensin will be revived - as it were - in another story concept down the road.

I can't keep stealing other people's roleplay characters though, like I did with Phfylburt's Lincoln or Ron's Devon. I'll have to find a way of recreating Rensin as an original character to pit up against Jolene. I did have a similar concept for Amara's love interest for her story - which I had mentally "in the works" back in like 2005/2006, but never actually written down. I don't know if I can make Rensin as adorable as his player does, though. I'll need practice over the years of polishing.

Alright, well, since I'm now down a week for my blog posts, I might work on a catch-up one for a double-post week. Most likely focused solely on my reading challenge progress since I haven't talked about that in a little while. So, keep your eyes open for that.

In the meantime, I'm off to play massive catch-up to make up for the crazy-long work week I had.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Sorry for the Delay

I'm sorry, but this blog post is going to be a bit late this week due to lack of free time. I'm working overtime at work, have my writing group, and started up exercising after work. This should only be a temporary setback.

I apologize for the delay and will get everything cleaned up here as soon as possible.

In the meantime, enjoy some complimentary coffee and donuts while you wait.

Also, feel free to take some of this newly-found free time to sign up for my email updates, or my RSS feed if you haven't already. That way you can be quickly contacted once everything is finished up here. 

You can find the links to the right.

Alternatively, you can follow me on Twitter (@LycoRogue). I generally only tweet about my blog updates, so you don't have to worry about being flooded by me. 

Thank you again for your patience. We should have everything up and running again by Thursday, Sept 15 at the latest.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

What Can I Salvage From This?

I had some self restraint last week. I didn't offer to read more of "Rensin's Conquest," and no one asked if I wanted to read more of it, so I left it be. Instead, I talked about how I was prepping for NaNoWriMo already, and then read them the 40-question Dread Character Questionnaire. As I predicted, they all loved the concept of those hard-hitting questions. One comment was actually that it's great that "there's no 'out' for those questions. It's not 'do you have...' it's 'which one do you have...'." I ended up passing the questionnaire to everyone via email.

I also let them know that I was shaking off the dust on "The Race for Destiny" for NaNo. As well as let them know what a disaster the original story was. So, they know the uphill battle I have for reworking it to be more original. Boy, is it ever going to be a battle.

For the original go of the story, I was taking elements from about five different characters each, in order to create my main characters of Natalie and Connor. I assumed that if I did this, then they would Voltron into a new, original character, not quite recognizable as the sum of the fanfiction parts. It didn't quite work out that way because the "stolen" elements were too much in the forefront. Connor's description, for instance, if one were paying even the vaguest of attention, would definitely be Link from the Legend of Zelda series; minus the trademark hat. Natalie's pink-stone pendent heirloom she's never without - that has mysterious powers and great importance in Albion - is clearly Hitomi's necklace from Visions of Escaflowne. Although it never got to that point in the story, Connor's transformation into a feral demon-like beast that only Natalie could calm is pretty much just straight up Kagome and InuYasha when he goes demonic.

I'm trying to figure out how many of those elements do I need to keep for my story. How many SHOULD I keep for my story? Do I just start completely from fresh? It's a bit of a struggle to figure it out. So, I started with filling out more of the questionnaires for Natalie and Connor.

I'm getting further with Connor because he was the one that actually had a bit of a personality the first go. I chose characters with some fire and tragedy to them when I first made Connor, so now I'm trying to figure out how to better meld them together into one personality instead of a patchwork of like-personalities from existing characters.

Connor's overall drive to become a strong hero so he can track down the raiding bandits that slaughtered his hometown, and get his vengeance on them, is full-on Hero from Fable. His transformation into Demon-Form, and why he transforms, is taken from InuYasha, but, unlike InuYasha, Connor fears the transformation and wishes to remain human. His brashness and slight elitism are hand-me-downs from Van from Visions of Escaflowne, but he also has Van's moments of tenderness, compassion, and protectiveness. His looks were Link's, but I think I also originally gave him Link's penchant for minimal talking. Granted, Connor wasn't nearly as "mute" as Link is in the games, but he was a man of few words - except when he was angry, apparently. I'm still not sure if I'm going to keep that trait since it will be just him and Natalie for a large majority of the story. Who knows?

As for the less-developed Natalie? Her main influence was Hitomi from Visions of Escaflowne; a girl who has a mysterious necklace heirloom that teleports her onto a different planet. She is then told that her coming was foreseen via prophecy, and it is her duty to help rid the land of corruption in order to bring peace. Hitomi - and therefore Natalie - is a bit of a loner who isn't terribly happy with her life, anyway, and so a "vacation" from Earth, while scary, doesn't seem that big of a deal. However, she quickly yearns to return to a world she knows, and this tears at her since the love of her life - Van for Hitomi; Connor for Natalie - is on the strange planet she's currently on. Does she stay with him or go back home? Can she survive long enough for that decision to matter?

The second main influence was Kagome from InuYasha, who also got teleported out of her normal life - this time via a time warp into Feudal Japan - and has the same dilemma: only she can help cleanse the land of evil while struggling between returning home and staying with the man she loves. Sensing a theme in Anime? Kagome also lead me to have Natalie be the only one to see the other pieces of the goddess Alrea's magical gemstone, just as only Kagome can see the fragments of the Shikon Jewel. Another Kagome trait is that she shoots cleansing "spirit arrows" to help defeat demons, so naturally, Natalie can only use Albion's magic by using a bow and arrow as conduits. Last Kagome trait: as mentioned above, Natalie is the only one who can calm Connor down when he's in a feral rage. Their connection, and his growing love for her, are the only things reminding him of his humanity.

Natalie, along with a bunch of other anime heroine archetype traits, also has a sprinkling of Miaka from the anime Fushigi Yuugi. Just like Hitomi and Kagome, Miaka was teleported from the modern world to a different one - again in the past, like with Kagome. Once again, the trope of falling in love with a man, and therefore being torn between staying and going home, plays out. The added is that Miaka is believed to be a speaker for one of the four gods due to her coming from a different world/time, and that in completing a quest that would allow Miaka to summon the god, she would be granted a wish. Natalie gets the same treatment: she's speaker for Alrea, and in completing her quest, she can have a wish granted; this is the main reason she goes on the quest in hopes of using the wish to get home.

So, as you can see, Connor's character is a lot more developed; a lot more complex. The elements I grabbed for him were more personality-based with a central drive attached to it. Natalie's character build was more about the similar archetype/trope I was seeing in anime: a girl teleported from her home due to some sort of magic/mysticism about her is told that she's the only one who can complete a task that would bring peace to the land; she begrudgingly does the dangerous quest in hopes of having the power to return home once it's complete; as the quest goes on she becomes more competent and more of an equal to her male counterpart, whom she falls in love with; once the quest is done and the world is saved, she's torn between staying with the man she loves or going home to the life she knows.

Natalie is the plot. Connor is the characterization. I need to balance that out a bit more. And get a bit off the tropey-ness. That's the challenge because while I know I need to completely rework everything, I'm also trying to figure out what parts are alright to keep so that it's still a reboot of my original story instead of stealing Connor and Natalie's names and starting completely fresh.

I'm definitely going to need help with this.....

On a different train of thought.... I completed "Ready Player One" by the close of September. Easily completed it, in fact. Had time to spare.

The ending was both awesome, and a bit aggravating. Much like "Island of the Blue Dolphins," I wanted just ONE more chapter. Just one!

Don't get me wrong, both books had good endings that wrapped things up enough that you could sort of connect the dots a bit to mentally figure out what happened next. No need for the author to spell it out. Still, I wanted like an epilogue or something. Especially with "Ready Player One," I wanted to see the aftermath of everything. Crisis was adverted, social loose ends were quickly tied up, and then that's it! No aftermath info. Nothing about what happened to the world after the crisis ended. No explanation as to what the main characters did once they were able to take a breather, especially since their entire life for the past 5yrs was preventing the crisis presented at the conclusion of the book. Now that they never again have to worry about that, what do they do with their lives that was previously consumed by that quest? How do they handle the world now? Are they now celebrities? Still outcasts? Do they fade into society? Do they help improve society? Do they remain tight friends, especially after everything they've been through? Do they part ways now that they don't have a common goal? Does a new crisis arise to fill the vacuum of the old one?

GAAAAH! Ernest Cline needs to write a sequel! He reportedly has a third book currently in the works, so maybe even though his second novel "Armada" doesn't seem to have anything to do with "Ready Player One," perhaps this third one will? Probably not. So again I proclaim: ERNEST CLINE NEEDS TO WRITE A SEQUEL TO "READY PLAYER ONE"!

In the meantime, I'll have to track down "Armada" and wait for the film adaptation for "Ready Player One" to be complete. It should be good, since Cline apparently sold the film rights literally the day after a bidding war to publish the novel. Cline also made sure that he kept enough creative rights so that he was in charge of the screenplay. THAT'S how you do it! You don't just scoop up the first check written for you for fear that your story will never be a movie if you pass. You wait until a studio will let you write the screenplay so that you KNOW the adaptation will do the book justice. Otherwise both you and your fans just become bitter and grumbly about how inaccurate the movie is.

Anyway, if you haven't noticed from me ranting about it the past couple of weeks, I. LOVED. "READY PLAYER ONE." Definitely one of my top faves. Don't know if it surpassed ALL of the Percy Jackson novels, but it's definitely nestled among the series. I think I'm just a fan of first-person stories because the narrator is allowed to be a snarky smart-ass.

Regardless, if you are a fan of gamer-culture, distopian sci-fi, and/or 80s pop-culture and obscure Atari games, then this book is definitely a must-read for you! I'd actually strongly encourage everyone to read it, but the gaming and 80s culture references are so forefront that if you're not into them it might diminish your interest in the book overall. I mean, Cline has Wade - the narrator/protagonist - explain these movies and games so well that you don't need to know them in order to enjoy the story. I know I never heard of half the stuff referenced. I mean, I watched "Ladyhawke" for the first time on Friday because it was one of Wade's guilty-pleasure favorites, I never heard of it before reading "Ready Player One," and Spink just HAPPENED to have a copy of it. I have to agree with the character Aech, though, it's DEFINITELY reserved for "guilty pleasure" status along with the likes of "Howard the Duck."

My point is, that you don't need to KNOW early video games or 80s culture to like the book, but a penchant for them will help. I know I squeed a bit at work - bouncing up and down in my chair, and giggling like a loon - whenever they got to bits I did know. I nearly lost it when there was a "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" reference.

The characterization was so good, too! My only disappointment was that I thought more shady things were going on with Art3mis, and I was able to quickly figure out why Aech was nervous about meeting Wade in real life. Add those to the calendar confusion that annoyed me; which also continues with the fact that the blurb on the book cover itself stated "in the year 2044..." even though the book - post prologue - actually starts in February of 2045...
Knives from the comic book series Scott Pilgrim
by Bryan Lee O'Malley
Anyway, my point is, that Cline losing track of his in-story calendar, and some missed opportunities with character were the only real parts that I didn't like about the book. Those, and a few times where he needlessly repeated himself, but they were few and far between.

All-in-all, I'd give the book an 8.5 out of 10. Go read it! Go! Now!

It will give you something to do while I figure out my own writing....