Tuesday, February 20, 2018

2018: Year of the Writer

It's that time of year again! When I use any excuse to try to hit the reset button. To be fair, though, in regards to my writing, I haven't been doing so bad. I haven't been doing as good as I would have liked, but I haven't been doing bad either.

This past week was probably one of my worst weeks, actually. Ironically. Between a day or two of being in a deep, angry funk for no apparent reason, Hubby trying to cheer me up, Valentine's Day at-home date-night followed by an actual date-night late in the week, and ironically Writers' Group, taking up all of my evenings, I didn't get much writing done. I also had no time at work, even during lunch. Mostly because lunch was the only time I had to get any reading done to not fall behind there.

So, I'm on par with where I want to be with my reading challenge at least.

Writing time, on the other hand, took a back seat this past week. Instead, Hubby and I had a "bad movie night" and watched a couple of movies on Netflix with some terrible reviews. We then watched "Black Panther" at the local theater on Saturday. Yesterday we watched the live action Fullmetal Alchemist movie on Netflix. Backtrack to Friday, Hubby had us watch "Z-O-M-B-I-E-S" on Disney Channel. It was cute for what it was, a Disney Channel Original movie. It did give me a new song addiction, which I happen to be listening to now:
Quick explanation. In Z-O-M-B-I-E-S a lime-soda induced explosion at the power plant created zombism. For me, the lime-soda is important for explaining why the zombies all look like Batman's Joker cosplayers. Anyway, the point is, in this movie, zombism is more a mutation than the reanimation of corpses. They still have superhuman strength, are aggressive, and crave flesh - more specifically, "braaaaaaaaiiiiiins". However, the government was able to design Z-Bands, wristbands every zombie wears that calms their flesh-eating urges and their aggression while also dropping their strength to average for humans. Now that zombies are "normal" they can live side-by-side with humans, sorta, they're stuck in the zombie slums called Zombietown. The story then follows the attempt to integrate zombie teens into the "normal" high school.

Again, it's cute. A bit heavy handed in putting exposition in dialog, and late in the movie, during a song the main character Addison sings, they visually recap the movie YOU JUST SAW in a flashback montage, which Disney seems to be big on lately. Those were the two main flaws I saw, but otherwise I'd recommend the movie if you have Disney Channel.

Back to my writing though.

I didn't give myself a lot of time to just write. Instead, this week was more "self maintenance" week, trying to spend time with my hunny, figure out why I was so randomly angry all the time for two days, taking long showers, and watching non-serious movies as pick-me-ups. It was important to do this maintenance, because I definitely feel much better this week.

I did manage to still keep my chapter-a-week pacing, though. At this rate I will never have all of "Peeping Tomcat" set to send to my betas by mid-March. However, most fanfiction writers only have a detailed outline, will write a chapter a week, edit THAT chapter, and post for weekly updates. So, I'll be sort of ahead of the game because I'm trying to have the whole story done first and edited as a whole entity. That way, if something later in the story adjusts something earlier in the story, I can do so instead of trying to dance around plot holes.

You know, like what I did with What Is Truly Meant To Be. I knew what I wanted for this story. I had a fairly detailed outline for it. I knew what would happen in each chapter. I did what most other fanfiction writers do: write a chapter, polish it, post it, work on the next chapter. Then I discovered the devil is in the details. Once I got into the actual nitty gritty of dialog and inner monologues, I stumbled upon plotholes I had to fill. It would have been a lot easier to have written the whole thing out, found those plotholes, and changed the earlier chapters to avoid them, instead of trying to pull a solution out of a hat later on, after I couldn't change things. Lastly, writing chapters took me way longer back then, so updates weren't nearly regular enough. And I eventually fell away from the story.

I want to avoid "Peeping Tomcat" falling into the same pattern as this last major project I was working on. Which is why I want to have it completely done before I started my weekly update postings. However, it looks like I'm going to fall into a sort of half-way between the two. I should have the first ten chapters done by the end of the Winter Challenge, which means I'll have all but the last five chapters edited. I might even get as far as the eleventh chapter, actually, since chapter ten is already pretty close to the best I can do without beta notes. That's over 60% of the story re-written/edited and ready for my betas. I also have a fairly firm grip on what I want for the tail end of the story, complete with the chapters already having a first draft written thanks to NaNo.

I could send the girls the first two-thirds of the story as edited as I can get it on my own, and then a detailed synopsis of the final third so they know where I'm going with the story. They should be able to give me notes on each chapter and the story overall based on that. I'll start posting the finalized chapters on time, and I'll have about two months to finish the last four or five chapters, get them beta'd and then polished, before I would fall behind. I should be more than capable if I stick with my current pace. In fact, I should have a month leeway to start working on "One and the Same." I probably won't be able to start posting it the week after I complete "Peeping Tomcat" though, unless I lock myself away for a weekend or something and just write the whole first draft in one go.

We'll see how everything goes. I do need to work at a faster pace, but for right now, I like the rhythm I have, and it is an improvement over the past. I'm happy, and I can work to increase my productivity for "One and the Same."

I might even have something to read at group again.

I've been avoiding it for a couple of reasons. First is that my betas haven't read any of the story yet, so I don't know what their input will be, and I don't want to read the same chapter multiple times to the group. Second reason is that my chapters are LOOOOOONG and I'll probably take up at least 45mins of the two hours we meet up every other week. It could even be as much as a full hour, and I feel like that is taking too much of everyone's time. Especially if I do that fifteen times. Third is because no one is into the fandom. They seem to enjoy the story anyway, but they also seem kind of hesitant to critique. Mostly they just have questions on how x-y-z works, which I guess does help because it means I need to explain things a bit more so non-fans could enjoy it. I just need to figure out the happy balance between non-fans enjoying the story, and possibly be tempted to watch the show based off the story, and not putting in so much explanation that the fans get bored, since they knew all of it already. My final reason is that it's 15 chapters, read every other week. I won't be done reading the story to them until around September. I should be done posting the chapters online by then. Any critique they would give me would be moot unless I wanted to go back and update chapters already posted and read. So it would just be me reading for the sake of having a captive audience for my story.

On the flipside, though, I'll be doing a second Miraculous fanfic right after this one, am I truly not reading anything at group for a year?

I mean, I still want to post something new every month, so maybe every other writing group I'll read that? I need to write something for this month still....

I dunno. Thankfully, we ran out of time last group, so I didn't have to worry about whether or not I wanted to read something. Instead, I tried to pass the turn over to Omnibladestrike.

YEAH! Haven't seen that name for a little bit, huh? Well, he's writing again! Check the above link to see his latest. He's been coming to writing group too. This past Sunday was supposed to be the first week of our writer's dates, but it was mostly me reading his latest edits and then five hours of us watching YouTube.... we're good at this.

But he's writing again, and regularly! So exciting! And I'm not doing too shabby either. ChibiSunnie has been working really hard on her first children's story, and she should have at least the bare bones, if not the whole thing ready to publish, by the end of the college semester.

Over at Writers’ Huddle, last year's winter challenge was basically week after week of all of us going "yeah, I wasn't able to do much :(". This year's winter challenge has more people, and most of us are commenting about our progress. Even those who were sick, taking care of sick family members, were on vacation, or were otherwise distracted from their writing - much like me this past week - are commenting about getting SOMETHING written at least.

So, perhaps 2018 will be a good writer's year.

I guess I need to get started on chapter 8 to find out.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Shoving That Boulder Along

I'm a day early, but Happy Valentine's Day to you all. Romantic, platonic, familial, communal, or otherwise, I hope you're feeling some extra love this week.

I would appreciate a little extra love from my Muse this week in order to help me catch up with "Peeping Tomcat".

My second week of the Writers’ Huddle Winter Writing Challenge went about as well as the first one. Prior to the challenge starting, I had the following break down:
  1. Chapters 6 and 7 redone and ready for my beta readers by the close of the first week: February 4th
  2. Chapters 8 and 9 set for my betas by close of the week: February 11th
  3. Finish chapter 9 if need be, touch up on the mostly fine chapter 10, and start chapter 11 by close of the week: February 18th
  4. Catch up week if I need it, but still have chapters 11 and 12 done by close of week: February 25th.
  5. Chapters 13 and 14 by the end of the week: March 4th
  6. Chapter 15 before I need to head to my mom's to visit my sister: March 9th
After the challenge started and I knew I had to work chapter 5 in as well, my new goals look like this:
  1. Chapters 5 and 6
  2. Ooooh kaaaay.... how about 6 and 7?
  3. Chapters 7, 8, and start 9?
  4. Here's hoping I can finish 9 and just quickly polish a few words here and there in chapter 10.
  5. Shoot! I need to get chapters 11, 12, and 13 taken care of!
  6. Race through chapters 14 and 15; taking no more than 2 days each. @_@
I have a feeling that come March 12th, instead of sending a completed manuscript to my betas, I'm going to just send the first half of the fanfic along with a detailed outline for the second half. That way they can at least start giving me notes so I can still have my story posted "on time."

Oh! That's right! I shared on DeviantArt, but not here. I have a tentative publication date of Friday, April 6th, or even late Thursday night so it's available all of Friday. With the help of my two betas Cyhyr and ChibiSunnie, I should have the first chapter polished and ready to go by that April publication date. Then I'll polish a new chapter each week, and post said chapter every consecutive Friday... or Thursday night, whichever one I decide on. If I can at least be far enough ahead in my edits/writing to keep up with this schedule, then I'll finish off "Peeping Tomcat" about mid-July. I'll then start posting "One and the Same" on a weekly schedule as well.

That means I not only need to be ahead of the game in my weekly posts for PT, but I also need to have at least the first few chapters of OatS ready to go. I have no clue how large that story is going to be, but, if it doesn't carry me to the end of the year, then it should at least carry me long enough for me to polish up that Devon/Trish battle fanfic. Then THAT will be my final post of the year. Given the plan of FINALLY doing the Varekai fan-novelization over this year's NaNo, since I pushed it aside last year, I should get that polished and set to go March/April 2019. That's quite a ways away, though, so let's focus on PT, shall we?

As I mentioned, Cy and Chibi both offered to beta for me. Cy is actually a Miraculer as well, so she's going to be my main beta reader for this project. Chibi hasn't had time to get into the show, and she's also pretty booked with her own writing and schoolwork. However, she's always been a beta reader for me, so she's keeping that hat on, as it were. Since she knows my writing style and voice, she'll help assist me with that. Plus, she's my gauge on how well people outside the fandom might understand and/or enjoy the story.

So, can we take a brief time out to thank these two ladies for taking what will probably be massive amount of time helping me figure out this story? Likewise, can we thank my writing group for dealing with my kooky fanfiction I bring every meeting? No one is ever in the fandoms I write for, but they are good spirits and let me read anyway. So, thanks, everyone, for indulging me.

Hacker Girl Facebook Sticker
by Birdman, Inc
Oh, speaking of thanks and indulgences, I actually co-won the raffle for the first week of the writing challenge. I've got an Amazon $10 gift card, and I'm itching for a book to spend it on. Anyone know if I can use Adobe Reader to read e-books I purchase off of Amazon? I don't have an e-reader, and there are a few people over at Writers' Huddle that have digital-only books up on Amazon. Although, it might be cheating a bit, using my winnings to support them....

Anyway, I joked that, thanks to the raffle accepting anyone who checks in, even if they don't hit their weekly goal, I got rewarded for not figuring out my story.

I guess that was the encouragement I needed, though, because I DID figure out the rest of chapter 5 shortly after. Actually, once I published last week's post, I hopped in the shower. I was barely in there three minutes when I figured out the Lucky Charm I needed to finish the chapter. Bam, just like that. It almost felt obvious. The rest of the chapter fell into place quickly after.

Problem was, I still had to work on chapters 6 and 7 this past week, and I didn't even start them until Wednesday since I wanted to get chapter 5 done first. I wasn't worried though, because chapters 6 through 8 were already written. I assumed I only needed to clean them up a bit. Much easier and faster than the "writing from scratch" chapters I had just completed.

I even stated in this blog a few weeks back, "at least chapter 6 is a fun one of Cat spying on Marinette yet again, so that one should be quick to revise/edit."

I then READ the chapter!

Good lord, it was bad.

It was obvious that I had written it about half-way through NaNo, and after the emotional and mental drain of losing the first half of my story. I was rambling; trying to get words on the page in a frantic attempt to catch up. I spilled everything from my head onto the paper. Adrien was trying to figure things out, and so I was too. It wasn't pretty. And it was long!

I.... uh.... I don't know if I improved it at all.

See, the problem with chapter 6 is that it would be a lot easier in a visual medium than a solely written one.

Chapter 3 starts five days after chapter 1; five days after Chat Noir accidentally spies on Marinette. Chapters 3 and 4 show Adrien's dynamic with Marinette. I try to keep it about par with the show in regards with Adrien's contradictory crush on Marinette. On the one hand, it's super subtle: more than willing to kiss her during a film their friends are taping, the constant need to call out her name to get her attention whenever he sees her, the constant touching of her shoulders, the glances he gives her later in season 1, the friggen SLOW DANCE in season 2, and even how he looks at the lucky bracelet Marinette gave him. It's easy to just look over everything as "he's just really friendly/comfortable with her" or even "he knows she likes him, so he's subconsciously flirting back." It's so subtle, it's kind of obvious that he doesn't realize he likes her. On the other hand, while the crush IS super subtle, it's just as much BLATANTLY OBVIOUS to anyone who's looking for signs of him crushing on Marinette. I point out the same reasons.

Anyway, my point is, chapters 3 and 4 of PT are supposed to set up that subconscious crush on Mari, so that late in the story, when he finds out she's Ladybug, the reader doesn't feel cheated that he realizes he likes her. The reader already knows this, it's ADRIEN who didn't, and struggles as he wonders if he likes her for her, or does he just like her because she's LB.

Chapter 5 is the akuma attack, which sets up the next chapter.

Chapter 6 takes everything that Adrien, and therefore the reader, learned from that day - chapters 3 through 5 - and applies it to what Adrien discovered throughout the week of spying on Marinette. These things combine to give Adrien the epiphany that Marinette and Ladybug are two sides to the same coin; Adrien not realizing how close to correct he really is.

It wouldn't work if he had this epiphany before chapter 3, and he wouldn't get it in chapter 6 if he hadn't watched Mari for 5 days already. Likewise, I can't really show the days in chronological order between chapters 2 and 3, because by themselves, the observations CN makes don't really move the story along; therefore, they aren't justifiable as their own chapter.

Which leaves revealing CN's week-long spying observations to chapter 6; making it a "recap chapter" as CN flashes back and "montages" the previous three nights. Because he's recapping each night, I can't really add any dialog without slowing the recaps down too much. Instead, each night is restricted to three or four short paragraphs. After the recaps, Adrien needs to have the epiphany that makes the chapter worth keeping in. He does this by using the information he gathered from the five nights of spying, and comparing his new view of Mari to how he views LB. This is more internal dialog since he can't talk to anyone about it, aside from Plagg, who is currently in the Cat Miraculous giving Adrien the power to be CN.

All-in-all, it was almost all show, virtually no tell, and there was no dialog, which just makes the whole thing jumbled and feel like it's rambling. I needed dialog, and I needed a better feel for the whole scene I was cutting down in the recaps. A way to know EXACTLY what would stick out.

So, I spent the week actually doing a LOT of writing. I wrote out the whole scene - from both Adrien's POV and Marinette's - for Adrien and Mari finding Alya and Nino after the akuma attack. I wrote the scene where they decide to forego the rest of their outing, and instead head home, complete with Adrien walking Mari home. I made sure to set the scene of Adrien asking Nathalie about showing Marinette's portfolio to Gabriel. I then wrote out what fully happened each night CN peeked on Marinette.

Once all that was figured out, I then cut every scene down to the aforementioned three or so paragraphs to recap. I also added some dialog this go, which helped a little. The whole thing still feels like a rambling, god awful, jumbled mess. However, it IS better than the original go. I'm sure I can cut down 6800 words to something more manageable....

Poor Cy and Chibi....

Even though I spent the whole week writing pretty much every moment I could steal away, I STILL couldn't catch up on my challenge goal. All because I'm writing a bunch of stuff that does help me better understand my story, like when I wrote The Birth of the Mimicker, but it doesn't add a single word to my actual story.

I did manage to finish chapter 6 by the close of the week, so yay to that. I just need to work on chapter 7.... and 8.... and create a second akuma attack for chapter 9... all before Monday. I can totally do this....

It's not like it kept me almost two full weeks to figure out an akuma, their powers, the Lucky Charm, and how the villain was going to be defeated... Simple.....

Eh, at least I'm keeping pace in my reread of "Lycopolis."

I should probably get back to working on my novel, though. But first, one last group hug with all of you.

I love each and every one of my readers, so thank you all lots for showing me love back! Happy Valentine's Day!
Hacker Girl Facebook Sticker
by Birdman Inc

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Darn These Lucky Charms!

My posts are surpassing 100 hits again. I think the Miraculers are back. So.... Hi again, fellow Miraculers. You won't really find any new info on Miraculous Ladybug here, but you're welcome to stay.

Since I'm talking Miraculous anyway, I have to talk about "Peeping Tomcat." It's..... a slow process. Last week was the official first week of Writers’ Huddle's Winter Writing Challenge. By the end of the first week I wanted to have chapters 6 and 7 edited, revamped, rewritten, whatever I needed to do to have it set for my beta readers in March.

I'm STILL not done with chapter 5 though. I wanted that done before even starting the challenge.

It's the darn Lucky Charm! I just cannot figure out what I want to do for it! I mean, granted, it also kept me a while to figure out my akumatized supervillain, but once I figured that out last Monday I was on a roll. The rest of the chapter worked out fairly well. I was able to salvage some descriptions from the first go at this story I did over NaNo. I'm just stuck on what to do for a Lucky Charm.

For those unfamiliar with the show, Ladybug's main power that she uses to stop every akuma is called Lucky Charm. She's gifted an item that is used to stop the villain long enough for her and Cat Noir to retrieve and break the akumatized item; releasing the person from Hawk Moth's hold and returning them to their civilian form.

These Lucky Charms always force Ladybug to think outside the box. For example, she used a towel Lucky Charm as a makeshift hang-glider; a large packing box to trick a Santa Claus themed villain into thinking he was getting a present, which allowed LB to be close enough to snatch the akumatized item; a spoon as a makeshift fishing hook to tangle the villain and lift him off the ground; an oven mitt as homemade handcuffs; a shoe box as a projector promoting a show the akumatized villain wanted to stop; a power strip as a second yo-yo as she fought five attackers at once; and the foil inner lining of an ice cream bar wrapper as a reflective surface to see through illusions.

More often than not, she has to MacGyver her Lucky Charm into something useful, such as the aforementioned spoon being duct taped to her yo-yo which in turn was attached to Cat Noir's baton in order to make a fishing pole. The shoe box was combined with someone's glasses, a promotional poster for the show the akuma was trying to stop, and the headlights from a nearby bus. The oven mitt was combined with an already existing oven mitt, a belt, and a bracelet.

That's part of the power. Once Ladybug has her charm, she scans the area for clues, which flash in red with black polka dots. Once her vision gives her clues on what other objects she'll need to combine with her charm, she has to mentally put it all together herself.

The combinations she has to come up with in the second season are even more involved. She has to combine a unicycle, multiple rake heads, and Cat Noir's baton for the most recent episode. The one before that she simply gets a motorcycle helmet, and, thanks to her Ladybug Vision, is able to figure out that Cat's baton, three directional street signs, a bus, a bench, a tipped over motorcycle, and two light posts are all needed to stop the villain.

So, in order to stay true to canon, I need to think of something presumably useless for her to get as a Lucky Charm, and then figure out how it's obviously the only way to stop the akuma.

I CAN'T THINK THAT FAR OUT OF THE BOX!

So I've been stalled for two days now. I have a lot of the post-Lucky Charm Use chapter done, but I can only do so much. The way the akuma is stopped could affect small bits of the back end of the chapter. Plus, I'm missing a huge chunk if I don't have her using the Lucky Charm.

And this is just the first akuma attack. I have a second one planned in a few weeks, and at least two more for the sequel. How am I going to do this!? How can my brain not be this creative?

HOW DOES ASTRUC AND HIS TEAM FIGURE THIS OUT 26 TIMES PER SEASON!?

It's no wonder that just about every other Miraculous Ladybug fanfic I've come across has avoided akuma attacks. If they do have them in, they're fought "off screen" with the characters just reflecting back on them. Or, they do fight the akuma, but the fight "fades out" with a simple "Ladybug got her Lucky Charm, figured out how to use it, and saved the day" sort of thing. OOOOOR the even rarer, Ladybug doesn't even use the Lucky Charm to defeat the akuma.... which isn't really accurate at all, because without the charm she can't use her ultimate power of Miraculous Ladybug, where she restores everything to how it was prior to the akuma attack.

I have yet to come across a fanfic or fancomic writer who has attempted to actually think of a Lucky Charm and how Ladybug uses it. Am I the only one brave enough to try? Or have others tried, but failed so miserably that their stories aren't all that well known?

If you are in the fandom and have either read - fic or comic - a story where a Lucky Charm is shown and used, or if you yourself have written one, could you link me in the comments section? I won't steal the idea, but it might help to see how others accomplished this herculean task.

I wracked my brain so much that I actually had quite the interesting dream last night. Sadly, I've been up for a few hours now, so it's not as vivid as when I first woke up, but I was still too groggy to write it down then.

It started off as a Miraculous dream, with Adrien/Cat Noir and Marinette/Ladybug as the main characters, but as the dream went on they morphed into mutants. I think "Glitches" is feeling a bit left out that I haven't worked on anything original since July.

I just have patches now, but the dream started with the heroine being abandoned on a small and remote island. I'm talking super small, like only a couple miles long. Like if Manhattan was still uninhabited. It's a bit blurry now, but either she was abandoned there in an attempt to find an important artifact, or she was left there as bait for the hero who had the artifact, or she was left there in order to ransom the artifact from the hero. One of those three.... Somehow she gets off the island and back home, which looked a lot like Main Street of my home town. I'm sure my mother will have a field day knowing that..... Anyway, apparently before being left on an island, the heroine had roomed with someone else. Again, it's vague since the heroine started as Marinette, but she's living on her own with a roommate, so she's somewhere between 14 and 20.... Really narrowed things down, huh?

Either she made it home and was captured again, or she was "rescued" from the island by the villain, who, along with the hero, resembled Adrien? Either my mind couldn't decide what it wanted, or I'm dealing with an evil twin.... The villain is the same rich boy that Adrien is, but instead of being humbled and isolated by it, the villain uses it to give himself power and entitlement. So.... Chloe.... The villain is "gifted" the heroine by his mother, who is the true villain of the dream. The boy is also given a short sword, which I guess was the artifact the heroine was abandoned on the island for. The son used the sword to mildly sexually assault the heroine. Doing things like threatening to cut her clothes off - he doesn't - and sliding the blade across her exposed skin, which is quite a bit since the mother first forced the heroine to dress in a bare-back dress with long slits up the sides to help expose her legs. At some point, the villain falls asleep, but does so without attempting to first restrain the heroine. This is the part of the dream where I, as the dreamer, thought that maybe the kid was only doing idle threats to seem tough in front of his mom, but in truth, he's not bad. Perhaps he purposely "fell asleep" with the heroine free so she could escape without his mother realizing he let her go.

She steals the sword and races home, but the front door is sealed shut by the police. Yes, I know the police don't actually do this, but I dreampt that they bolted her front door closed along with posting a police notice. Anyway, she breaks in and sees that her house has been ransacked, and her roommate is missing, as is the stray dog they had taken in just before the heroine was brought to the island. Distraught, she wanders her house to try to find any way to contact help and figure out why the police think she's some dangerous criminal on the lam - as indicated by the police notice on the front door.

She finds her cellphone - don't know why it was left behind; dream logic - and tries to call her roommate to see where she disappeared to, is she safe? Before her roommate could answer, there is a whimper at the front door. It's the stray lab they had taken in prior to the start of the dream. Except, he has a couple of people with him. One is the heroine's roommate. Despite the rain, they look dry and pristine. The roommate, who greatly resembles Scarlet Witch from the X-Men comics, admits that she's a mutant and a telepath. They talk about how the heroine - who doesn't really resemble Marinette anymore at this point - is actually a mutant as well, and the roommate was originally there to try to watch over her like a secret guardian. She apologized for failing at her job of protector..... and that's about where I woke up.

I'm not sure what I can grab from this, but it was interesting enough that I might have to tap back into this dream in the future for story ideas.

Now, if my mind could help me figure out a Lucky Charm, that would be great. Either that, or it did, and now I have to figure out how Ladybug uses a short sword to stop a clone army and get visors off the villain..... and she has less than four minutes to MacGyver it all together before Cat Noir transforms back.


On the reading front, I'm nine chapters in my "Lycopolis" re-read, and I'm happy to be reading about Brandon again. I don't know why, but he's my favorite. He's just so quirky, and such an oddball. Maybe he vaguely reminds me of my husband in college? Hubby doesn't have the number thing that Brandon has, though.... Either way, I still say "more Brandon" and hope there is plenty more in the other two books.

I've figured out that if I read at least two chapters each day - an easy task since they seem to average at about five pages; quick read - I can finish the book with a week to spare in the month. Might be able to get a jump start on "Oblivion."
NuaNia Facebook Sticker
by PRANEAT
Alright, this is going to be dangerous, but back to Tumblr and Pintrest to see if other Miraculers have ANYTHING that might inspire me with this Lucky Charm thing so I don't fall even farther behind than I already am!

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Starting the Winter Writing Challenge

Well, my writing schedule is already shot. I wanted to finish up chapter four of "Peeping Tomcat" by the close of last Tuesday, that way I could spend the rest of the week reworking my original akuma idea and have chapter five re-written. I would then be all set to start Ali's winter writing challenge over on Writers’ Huddle. Granted, I'm still ready and participating, but now I'm already a week behind where I want my goals to be. It's a good thing I foresaw this and worked in a "catch-up" week...

Chapter four IS done, but it kept me until Friday to do so. I then spent the weekend wracking my brain to try to rework my first akuma of the story. Originally, it was going to be Ms. Popular, a villain with an evening gown over the signature bodysuit. Her akumatized item would be her copy of Chloe's sunglasses, and in raising the sunglasses to expose her eyes, Ms. Popular would have a Medusa-like affect. She would have three "settings", as it were, where she could either freeze a person like Medusa, or she could project cattiness on women to make them fight each other, or she could make mindlessly faithful protectors out of men.
I still like the character design, even if I don't
like the character build....
All-in-all, I was never all that excited about this build. It seemed too complicated, too convoluted, and I had no idea how her powers actually worked. Plus, catty women and male protectors seemed a bit archaic thinking....

After tearing the build of this akuma down and starting from scratch, not liking where that went either, and repeating the process, I think I FINALLY have something I like. It kept about four different reworks, and about five days of constant ponderings in the back of my mind. I rewatched episodes, I listened to music, I tried looking up some akuma OCs others have created, I read Miraculous fancomics, and I tried to find a way to create something that felt like it fit in the Miraculous universe.

Finally, last night I decided to just take it slow step by slow step. All of the akuma supervillains got their powers and name based on why they had negative emotions. Hawk Moth uses the last few moments and reflects them back in his verbal contract. I needed that. Perhaps then I'd know the akuma better.

This worked wonders! Why didn't I think of this months ago!?

I still used my OC Louise Fabron, and she was still obsessed with Chloe. So, I started where Marinette and crew met up with Louise in the mall and told the story through Louise's POV. In "Peeping Tomcat" Louise gets irritated with Marinette and runs off. The next time we see her, she's already in her akumatized form with no true knowledge as to what happened.

So, I instead I used this writing practice to follow Louise to figure out what caused her to become so upset, what the akumatized item was, and what Hawk Moth said to her. The whole thing more-or-less took the path I was expecting, but also gave me more insight than I could figure out just trying to play everything out in my head.

As with Ms. Popular, Chloe is still the catalyst with cruel words causing the negative emotions that attracted Hawk Moth's attention. The copy of Chloe's sunglasses was still the akumatized item. However, now Louise has a villain name that sounds better and feels more at home in the Miraculous universe: The Mimicker.

Her powers are pretty neat too. I still need to figure out the other main components, though. Such as how Ladybug and Chat Noir figure out that the akumatized item is the sunglasses when they aren't being used as the main villain weapon. I also need to figure out what Chat Noir is going to use his Cataclysm power on, as well as what Ladybug's Lucky Charm is going to be, and how it's going to be used to stop Mimicker. So I still have quite a bit of work ahead of me.

In the meantime, though, the hardest part of coming up with the villain in the first place is done! Added bonus is that I liked it enough as a second teaser for PT that I posted it, which achieved my goal of at least one new thing posted each month! I also could potentially read it at group tonight. Whoo!

"The Birth of the Mimicker"
On DeviantArt           On FanFiction

I'm going to have to adjust my weekly goals for the writing challenge, but I'm still aiming for about one chapter a week, if I can't sneak in two. So my goal is to have this akuma attack chapter re-written by the time I head out to watch the Super Bowl at my friends' new place.

While I was wrestling with what to do with this akuma-attack chapter, even debating skipping over it and writing it last, after the rest of the story was figured out, I decided to fill my free time with my frantic reading of "Ender's Game" in order to finish in time.

It kept me the better part of six hours on Friday to do it, but I managed to finish re-reading in time to both get a book read in January, as well as return the book without having to renew it.
One down, about eleven to go....

I'm still taking issue with Card's timing inconsistencies.

According to "Ender's Shadow", between point A of Bean's arrival at Battle School and point B of the Bugger War ending, Bean aged from five to seven, possibly eight, there was a little confusion. So it kept around three years.

According to "Ender's Game", between points A and B of Bean's estimated arrival based on context clues, and the definite end of the Bugger War, Ender aged from seven to eleven, going on twelve. Which means the same span of time took four or five years.....

GAAAAAH!
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by Yanare Ku
H-how!? There is a scene in "Ender's Game" between Ender and Bean that is copied over into "Ender's Shadow" almost verbatim. Which means Card HAD to have re-read "Ender's Game" in order to get it nearly exact. It's obvious that he also wrote down notes of key points in "Ender's Game" to reference in "Ender's Shadow", so how is it that neither Card nor his editor noticed that there are two years that just disappear in "Ender's Shadow"!?

I mean, I get it, in writing "Ender's Shadow" Card could have realized that things are more realistic or more dramatic if they happen in a slightly different timeline than he originally wrote. He had been writing for an extra decade by the time he penned "Ender's Shadow" and honed his craft more. It makes sense that he'd want to tweak some things.

BUT THE TIME FRAME OF ENDER'S GAME WAS ALREADY ESTABLISHED, AND FOR A DECADE!!!! No. Sorry, you deal with the holes you created or the slow pacing you had! You don't retcon everything! No!
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On top of the time inconsistencies that were bugging me, Card completely messed with me when, during the last two chapters of "Ender's Shadow", he IGNORED WHERE A CHARACTER WAS! The character of Colonel Graff, in two different chapters, ends up being in two places at once if you compare "Ender's Game" to "Ender's Shadow".

NOOOOOOOOOO!
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Created by by Dan Mandel and Chris Pearson
All-in-all, both books are quite enjoyable. Just.... never do what I did. Never try to fit them both in the same timeline. It just doesn't work. PARADOXES!

*ahem*

Okay, I'm all better now. Sorry.

I have Ali's book Lycopolis at the ready to start on Thursday. I could always start today, or even two days ago, but I figured I could use the week down-time from reading to help me figure out my own story.

Reading is important to writers. It helps us grow and helps our minds wander and explore. However, it's not much help if it's used as a procrastination tool....

I just need to continue with the flow I created last night when I wrote "The Birth of the Mimicker" so I can stay on track with everything: avoiding zero-days, keeping up with the winter challenge, have "Peeping Tomcat" done by mid-March, have a new story posted every month, and keep up with my reading.

Wish me luck. Or, more accurately, discipline.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Prepping for the Winter Challenge

I was so close, guys! I almost had two chapters re-written and edited within a week!

Well.... technically it is two chapters. However, it WAS one chapter before this week..... I don't know if that's a win or a fail.....

After last week's post, I attempted to finish chapter 3 of  Peeping Tomcat. The problem is that in Ali's attempt to rescue my corrupted NaNo file, she, sadly, couldn't do anything for chapters two and three. I had completely lost them when I lost my novel half-way through November. I did manage to remember enough of what I had written to quickly bullet the plot points I wanted to hit again, but the magic was gone.

So, while the majority of the rest of the story will be revisions and edits, chapters two and three had to be from scratch. I did manage to get chapter two done last week. I think it works, but I also don't think it had the same draw of the original. I feel the same way with chapter three. I'm hoping any who never read my original version - which is everyone but me - will really like the chapter, and that I'm just a debbie downer for no reason.

Aside from the magic not quite being there the second go, chapter three created another hurtle.

Originally, the chapter had Adrien, Marinette, Alya, and Nino taking the subway to the mall in order to watch a movie. On the subway, Adrien attempts a conversation with Marinette, which results in him offering to show her drawings to his father to see if he had any advice for a promising novice designer. The chapter originally concluded with the group at the movie theater, a few fluffy Adrienette moments, and a big Adrienette moment interrupted by an akuma attack.

Chapter four was then the attack itself, and Ladybug and Cat Noir taking the akuma down.

Well, in my attempt to add in more action and dialog the second go, chapter three went on for quite some time. Just passing 3000 words, I decided to end the chapter with Adrien's offer to show Marinette's drawings to his father.

This meant that all the Adrienette movie watching scenes and the lead into the akuma attack didn't make the cut.

So, I realized I needed one more chapter between three and four. My full project is now set at fifteen chapters instead of fourteen, but who knows if I'll have to split more chapters like I did to three? This thing could be twenty chapters when I'm done....

Well, I decided that if the Adrienette movie moments were going to be their own chapter, I had better make sure the chapter was properly filled out. My first run at this story introduced an original character - Louise Fabron - as an original akuma design. Problem was, she was an OC. No one knows who Louise is, what she looks like, how old she is, what her deal is, etc. Plus, the way she gets akumatized is that Chloe teases her about copying Chloe's style in a vain attempt to try to be popular. There was no way of Adrien knowing this without witnessing it, and if he witnessed it, why would he then just go about his day to watch the movie with his friends?

I had to find a way to set up Louise, introduce her to the reader, set up what Chloe was about to do, and hint at why Louise was going to be akumatized without it being obvious to the characters. I think I did it alright. We'll see if my betas will have any advice once I pass it over to them.

Either way, it introduced the new character, established a potential reason why she goes after Chloe once akumatized, didn't throw up any real red flags telling the characters they should be ready for an akuma attack, and filled out the chapter a bit.

And yet, perhaps it filled a bit too much. I tried, I really did. I hid in my room from about 9pm until a little after 1am, but I just couldn't finish the chapter. Mostly it was because I was looking up reference pics and reading the Miraculous Wiki to make sure my facts lined up with canon. I also stopped for a half-hour to watch the new episode that aired on Sunday. The rest of the time was spent writing, and editing as I went. I wrote out a sentence, didn't like how it worked, went back and rewrote the action. I then went about a paragraph in, didn't like the direction it was going, and started that paragraph over. Rinse and repeat.

I'm now at the tail end of the chapter. If I really pushed, I probably could have finished it last night. However, it WAS after 1am, and my eyes were burning. I haven't even looked at what I wrote yet. Who knows if it's even comprehensible? So, that's my task for today: finish chapter four, and start my rework of Ms. Popular so I can get through chapter five.

Yeaaaaah, that chapter is probably going to be a complete rewrite, but we'll see how much of it I can keep.

To try to help me motivate myself to stay on top of my edits, I joined Ali's winter challenge over at Writers’ Huddle. For those unfamiliar, it's a six-week personal challenge. You set up your own six-week goal to try to hit, and then check in each week with your progress. As a reward for continuously striving for that goal - succeed or fail - any who check in go into a drawing for an Amazon gift card. The reward is nice and all, but the accountability of people knowing what I'm trying to do, and watching for me to check in with progress does really help push me to keep on top of things.

So, my challenge is to have "Peeping Tomcat" done and sent to my beautiful beta volunteers by the end of the six weeks, which happens to be my sister's birthday. So technically I have to finish before that weekend so I can have time to visit her, and also peek in on my godson to wish him a happy birthday as well.

Yes, this also means that my betas get PT mid-March instead of mid/end of February like I wanted. However, it's clear that I'm taking longer with this project than I anticipated. Plus, if they can get me notes by the end of March, and I can get revisions/edits done for at least the first chapter in a week or so, I could start posting at the beginning of April, which is still within my predicted schedule. I could do this. Hopefully.

Right now my break down is like this:
  • Finish up chapter 4 today
  • Get the akuma attack figured out so I could get chapter 5 done by the end of the week.
  • Monday is the start of the challenge. I'm aiming to have chapters 6 and 7 done by the close of the first challenge week: February 4th. At least chapter 6 is a fun one of Cat spying on Marinette yet again, so that one should be quick to revise/edit.
  • Week 2 of the challenge will be chapters 8 and 9. The problem there is that chapter 9 is a second akuma attack. During NaNo I had nothing planned for the akuma, so I skipped over the chapter, only jotting down bulleted notes on key things that needed to happen. Which means the hardest part of writing Miraculous fanfics still needs to be figured out and written. I might not be able to complete that the same week I edit another chapter.
  • Week 3 I want to make sure chapter 9 is done, if I couldn't complete it the week before. Thankfully, chapter 10 is what I used as the teaser preview chapter of this whole project, so that shouldn't need too much editing. I aimed to also have chapter 11 edited, and possibly started on chapter 12.
  • Week 4 needs chapter 12 done, and then chapter 13. This should be my "catch-up" week if I haven't made it to chapter 13 by then.
  • Week 5 will be when I edit the last two chapters of Peeping Tomcat, assuming I haven't had to split any other chapters in the rewrite process. Then it's off to the betas!
  • Week 6 will be "catch-up week" to make sure PT makes it to the betas if I hadn't sent it yet. I'm assuming I'll fall a bit behind. Mainly because I'm a slacker despite my best efforts, but also because my re-write projects always seem to be bigger than I give them credit for. Finally, I do have that resolution to post something new at least once a month, and I haven't even THOUGHT of writing anything but PT this month. I need to pause and work on a nice prompt or something this month, and again next month. That will probably slow my editing progress down a bit.
So that's my challenge. What do you think? Is it challenging enough? Is it too daunting? Do you think I'll make it? I'm really hoping to push so that I can. Deadlines. I have such a love-hate with them. At least I'm better at them now than I was in school. Trying to write a 50,000+ word novel the night before wouldn't go well.....

The other thing that might slow my writing progress, though, is the fact that I still have to finish up Ender's Game. This week I've kind of put the book on pause. In part it was so I could spend the time writing to try to catch up. In part it was because I got to the point where Ender and Bean interact, and I want to sit with both books and read the same scenes twice - once in Ender's Game, and once in Ender's Shadow - in order to see in real-time the differences a POV change makes.

I have to admit, though, that part of the reason I stepped away from the book is because it was annoying me. Ender's Game annoyed me the first time I read it too, but for a different reason. Originally, it was because, in order to make sure Ender was at his peak when they most needed him, the adult military used as teachers at Battle School and Command School did cruel things to Ender that no kid should have to endure. I was pissed for Ender and wanted to smack the teachers, even if I understood why they had to do what they did.

This go, though, I'm annoyed because of a pet peeve of mine: chronology. I'm huge on timelines and timing; making sure things line up like they would if it were real life. Not so much anachronisms. I don't pay enough attention to when things came about, unless it's glaringly obvious like a digital watch in the 1920s. For me it's literal timing.

Does a story claim that a trip took way longer than it should without explanation as to why? Did a character reference something that happened months ago as if it was only a week or two? Does it take one character longer to do something than another character claimed it took? Can the characters not agree on what day of the week it was? That sort of thing.

You may have noticed me complaining about stuff like this in the past.

In "Ready Player One," I was pulled from the story a couple of times when the narrator stated that it was a different day of the week than it should have based on context clues. Something like Wednesday being only three days after Friday if you put the in between events in order.

In an episode of "The Office," which takes place in Scranton, PA, a pregnant character comments about driving to Allentown, PA for a Lamaze class. However, if anyone has ever driven from Scranton to Allentown, they would know that even on the turnpike it's at least a forty-five minute drive. Was there really no closer Lamaze classes? Did the writers just go "the only PA cities people know of are Scranton, Philly, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, and Allentown"?

In Miraculous Ladybug, the heroes only have five minutes after using their powers before they are forced to transform back into their civilian selves. And yet it seems to be five minutes real time instead of show time. For instance, in one episode, Ladybug is on the roof of a hotel that's about twenty stories tall, and she has one minute left before she transforms. She somehow manages to race down the stairs to the ground floor and still have time to briefly talk to Cat Noir before hiding in a closet so he wouldn't see who she really was. This is possible because in real time there's a cut between Ladybug running through the roof exit door and her running out of the ground floor stairwell. From her realizing she had a minute left and the actual transformation change it was almost exactly one minute real time. There is no way, even with her super powers, she was able to get down the stairs in the split-second needed for her to also hold a conversation with Cat before her minute was up, in her time.

In Ender's Game, things seemed fine for the most part. The only real hiccup thus far is that at the beginning of a chapter two of the teachers are discussing the fact that Ender had been in the program for a year and a half. Later that same chapter, presumably within days of the earlier conversation, Ender's older sister Valentine mentions that Ender had been in the program for two years. It's easy enough to explain that away though, since Valentine is ten or eleven at the time, and even though she has the mind of an adult, it's easy for a child to just roll the years over; if it's past the half-way mark it's closer to two years than one, so he's been gone two years.

The snaffu comes from Card's inability to properly link Ender's Game and Ender's Shadow within the same timeline.

I specifically took longer to read Ender's Shadow so I could take notes on the main elements from Ender's Game that were referenced. That way I could know where Bean was in relation to Ender when I re-read Ender's Game. Going back through my notes, Bean was placed in Battle School just before an attack on Ender. In Ender's Game, the attack referenced happened a day or two after his seventh birthday. Then it jumps to Valentine celebrating Ender's eighth birthday, which meant clearly nothing of any note happened to Ender for a solid year, even though the first six chapters or so covered only a year in Battle School. Cut back to Ender and he's now about nine and a half and is getting control of Dragon Army. Again, it's odd that nothing of note happened to the kid now for 30 months when something major happened to him nearly daily the first year he was in Battle School....

Anyway, if Bean did arrive just before the attack on Ender, as it's implied, then Bean turned five right around the same time Ender turned seven, making them only two years apart. Yet, Bean is only six, having been at Battle School barely a year, when he was asked to put together the roster that eventually became Dragon Army. It's strongly implied in Ender's Shadow that Dragon Army was then formed, and Ender given control, within weeks - at the longest - after Bean created the roster, which he gave to the teachers only a day or so after being given the assignment.

This means Bean is six when he joins Dragon Army.... but Ender's nine and a half.... which means there's now a three-plus year difference between the two. Not only that, but Bean being asked to create Dragon happened about a year after he started Battle School. If he joined right around Ender's seventh birthday, then when Valentine was celebrating Ender's eighth birthday it would roughly be Bean's year anniversary with the school, and he'd be asked to create Dragon. What happened to the other year between Valentine's celebration and Ender being nine and a half and given command?

The whole thing makes my head hurt. How did Card miss this!? He obviously went back through Ender's Game in order to pick out the scenes where Ender and Bean interacted in order to get the dialog and actions right. It would make sense that he just re-read Ender's Game in order to take notes on what he wanted to include in Ender's Shadow. So how did he lose a year in the process!?

While I calculated that Bean was pushing eight by the end of Ender's Shadow, even the teachers called him six, to which Bean responded "I think I'm seven..." So, Ender's Shadow covered two, maybe three years. And yet it covers three, possibly four, years in Ender's Game for the same points: the attack on Ender through the end of the Bugger war.

HELP!!!! I can't seem to push past this and get back into the story. However, the month is drawing to a close, and I need to get this story done in order to still try to get a book a month read. Plus, it's due back at the library on the 27th, so either I have to renew it or I have to be done by Saturday. Technically, I have to have it done by Friday since I won't be able to get it to the library on Saturday, and I don't know if it will be considered late if it's in the overnight box the evening it's due....

Oh, and in other news, it seems I'm back to my "normal" readership of about 20-some hits per post. The previous couple of months of 500+ hits per post was most likely people looking for Miraculous season 2 info. They probably realized I don't have it and gave up. I haven't had more than 30 hits per post all month. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted, and I know that the 20-30 of you who do keep popping in genuinely want to know what I have to say.

So thank you.
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by Birdman, Inc.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

January Slump is Strong

Well, I didn't finish my goal this week to write and edit both chapters two and three in order to quicken my pace with "Peeping Tomcat." I did manage to get chapter two done, however, so I didn't slack off completely. I've also worked on bits of other chapters scattered around, basically following whatever I was motivated to work on in order to keep from doing nothing. I did finally start re-writing chapter three last night, though, so there's that.

Oh, and I also started coming up with chapter titles! Simple one-word ones. Yay, naming things! I can do it! Thus far I have chapter one "Mistake" and chapter two "Itch". I think I have a title for chapter three, but I want to finish the chapter re-write first to make sure it still applies. As of right now it's "Contrast", but I don't like that title as much as I like the others.

Also, I have a title for the pinnacle chapter of this thing, but I'm not sure if I'm going to keep it. I'll have to wait until I get to editing that chapter and see if it still fits. As of right now, though, the title of the chapter I posted as a teaser preview is "Truth."

Whoot, look at me go with this titling thing! Ironically, this was the week that this writing meme made another circuit around my end of the internet, both on my wall and in the fanfiction group I'm a part of.
Me and Irony are such friends. I think if I ever write an autobiography my title will be something to that effect: "Me and Irony are Buds (When It Doesn't Want to Kick My Butt)"

That's it. That's all the writing progress I have to tell you. I have the second chapter done as far as it's going to be without outside help, I edited a bit here and there throughout the rest of the story, and I started re-writing the third chapter last night. And I'm apparently good at titles now....

Such a great week.

I guess it's better than no progress, though, so there's that.

Most of the week was spent finishing up "Ender's Shadow" finally. Can mark that one off of last year's reading challenge. I then had two days of doing virtually nothing. I'm a bit burnt out in January, so I spent the time playing some simple online flash games or watching TV.

I need the sun to come back and the cold to go away. I'll be more likely to come out of hiding from under my blankets then. Might be productive.

The reason I didn't even read during those two days is that Hubby apparently lent out his copy of "Ender's Game" and we never got it back. So I needed time to steal away to the library. Now that I have the library's copy, which is split in the middle and feels like it's going to fall apart any minute now, I've been breezing through it. Orson Scott Card was a faster-paced writer back when he wrote "Ender's Game," considering the story was originally a short that he was convinced to expand into a full novel. I'm already six chapters in, which probably doesn't sound like a lot.

Only getting six chapters into a quick-read book when I've had it since Saturday afternoon is probably why I'm amazed that others can read 100 books a year when I can barely get in a dozen. To be fair, though, I tend to read slow to fully absorb, and flip back to re-read something that was purposely vague at first, but is cleared up later, and I mostly read only during lunch breaks at work. Add in the fact that I'm also both taking notes on "Ender's Game" as well as comparing to my notes on "Ender's Shadow" in order to get the full picture of the story Card is trying to tell, and it bogs the whole thing down.

Still, all of this note taking and immersion into the story just reminds me why, when Hubby had me read "Ender's Game" my senior year of college, I added writing a film adaptation of it to my bucket list. I had to later cross that off simply because Card himself wrote an adaptation of his own story, and who can really do better than the author himself? Granted, the movie was tweaked after he submitted his script, so it still had more inaccuracies than it probably already did, and now I would want to tell the story kind of straddling both "Ender's Game" and "Ender's Shadow" to tell Ender's and Bean's story at the same time. Still, I don't think people would really want a remake of a movie when the original author's adaptation wasn't as beloved and renowned as it probably should be.

I'm going to have to re-watch the movie once I'm done with the book to remind myself what was good and what went wrong with it....

Finally, after a long hiatus to try to catch up on production, the latest Miraculous Ladybug episode was released this weekend, and it was already posted to YouTube. I do feel guilty about watching it there, but I also plan on re-watching everything multiple times once it comes to Netflix, and I already know I'm going to be buying the season DVDs at some point. So this small indiscretion of not waiting for the official American release is fine, right?

Anyway, this whole episode was pretty much all MariChat.

Quick refresher. In the show Miraculous Ladybug the two main characters are Marinette and Adrien. Marinette is secretly the superheroine Ladybug, and Adrien is secretly her partner Cat Noir, or Chat Noir if you want to be authentic. Ladybug and Cat Noir don't know who the other truly is. Because of this, there's a love-square between the two of them.

Marinette loves Adrien who loves Ladybug. However, since Ladybug is Marinette and in love with Adrien, but she doesn't know that Adrien is Cat Noir, Ladybug dismisses Cat's advances. Meanwhile, since Adrien doesn't realize his shy and clumsy classmate Marinette is actually his love Ladybug, he just thinks of her as a good friend.

HOWEVER, the second season is definitely stressing the fact that Adrien DOES have a crush on Marinette, but is blinded to his own crush by his love for Ladybug, having that consume him so much that he doesn't even realize his other feelings.

Okay, another quick refresher on the ship names now that the love-square is explained.
LadyNoir shippers want romantic scenes between Ladybug and Cat Noir specifically. Keep in mind that both Adrien and Marinette showcase a completely different side of themselves when they're superheroes, so there is a distinct difference between Ladybug and Marinette, as with Cat Noir and Adrien. Anyway, this season there has been at least two episodes where there were potential LadyNoir elements.

Ladrien shippers want Ladybug with Adrien. It's minimal, since Ladybug tries to stay professional, especially around citizens, but there were some scenes in the first season, and another partial episode in the second season. While this seems to be the "win-win" ship - Adrien gets his love Ladybug, and Marinette gets her love Adrien while being her confident Ladybug self - it also gets the fewest screen time because of Ladybug's professionalism would mean she wouldn't do anything.

MariChat shippers actually want the two versions that have no interest in each other to change their mind. Since neither realizes that they're with the one they love, neither would be nervous around the other, and so a true romance could bloom. Also, people think this is the most "sinful" ship, so it tends to get the most love. There were a few scenes in the first season for this ship, but the episode I watched this past weekend was pretty much full of MariChat potential. More on that in a moment.

Finally, there's good old Adrienette, where the shippers want those two crazy kids to just hook up in their civilian forms already so they could actually do things like go on dates. If I had to chose, I'd say I'm an Adrienette shipper, but I see the other three leading to this end result. I'm cool if any of the other ships "win" and become canon first, because in the end the two will realize who each other is, and Adrienette will be the end result.

Now, that being said, I'm not the only one who realizes that if one ship is achieved then they're all achieved, since it's the same two people. Every shipper understands this, but it's not that simple. First of all, just because one ship showcases mutual romantic interest doesn't mean they realize the secret identities of each other, and/or it doesn't mean that all four scenarios will have mutual romantic interest shown. In fact, one ship getting steam may mean the death, or near death, of others. If Ladybug starts falling for Cat Noir, she may start giving up on Adrien, and the Ladrien and Adrienette ships will tank until she finds out that Cat and Adrien are the same guy. Same if Adrien finally realizes his crush on Marinette. He might give up on Ladybug after constantly getting rejected, and thus LadyNoir and Ladrien will die off.

It's a delicate balance to keep all four ships going, and the showrunners are doing a great job at it.

But this ninth episode this season! So much MariChat potential, but it also has some LadyNoir, complete with Ladybug blushing a bit at Cat Noir's sincerity about his feelings. This is where the infamous "balcony scene" shot originates from. The one that MariChat fans have been waiting for since the shot was teased months ago.
There's more, but I don't want to spoil.

It does give me a lot to work with, though. I got to see how Cat Noir and Marinette would interact without an Akuma attack to worry about. It shows me what Adrien does as Cat when he's not battling. It lets me see how Cat can keep missing Tikki floating around Marinette. It also gives me more brooding Cat.

I mean, look at this face!
Who wouldn't want to hug this kid just to make him smile again!?

Now to use this new info to motivate me to write. I was able to get more inside info on Cat. I can work with this. I just need the discipline to do so.

Also, there is an interesting conundrum that came up with this season. Thus far, there hasn't been anything in the new season that has really countered what I had in my story already, which means I could have it be considered "season 2 compliant" even though I wrote it before watching the second season. HOWEVER, there is ONE key thing that would make it non-season 2 compliant. In one of the second season episodes Tikki and Plagg get to see each other, which means they know who Ladybug and Cat Noir truly are! They're not saying anything, though.

Problem is that Plagg not knowing that Tikki was with Marinette is kind of a big thing in my story. So, do I go non-second-season compliant even though it could still fit? Or do I just ignore that one episode so I could include things like Adrien and Marinette's dance at Chloe's party, or Adrien's gift to Marinette for her birthday, or even anything from this past episode. However, I don't know how compliant I'd be with this either since both Marinette and Ladybug admit to Cat Noir that she likes someone else, but didn't tell him who, obviously.

How about partially compliant? Adrien remembers the dance at Chloe's, but hasn't finished making Marinette's birthday gift yet? Slide it in before episode 4 and go AU from there? Thoughts?

How about this for a thought: stop procrastinating and go write! I like that one....

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Never Judge A Character By The Narrator

Today is kind of a melancholy day for me. It's the 20-yr anniversary of my father passing away, ending his fight against cancer. While this is indeed sad, it also happened over half of my lifetime ago. I'm at peace, but it's still.... melancholy. I mean, how can it not be?

Anyway, I'm not here to depress anyone. I'm here to talk about my writing.

One week into 2018 and I almost failed one of my resolutions already: no more than three Zero-Days in one week.

I was in a reading mood this week. I'm nearing the end of "Ender's Shadow" and I probably would be done by now if I didn't stop to take notes on each chapter as I went.

For those who don't know, "Ender's Shadow" is a parallel story to Orson Scott Card's flagship novel "Ender's Game." The book I'm reading now is the same time frame as "Ender's Game" except told with Bean as the main character, instead of him being a little snot of a secondary character that shows up about half-way through "Ender's Game." Once done with "Ender's Shadow" I want to go back and re-read "Ender's Game" with a new perspective on the events, and see how they compare or contrast with Ender's view of the same events. Also, through Bean, I was able to get insight on a lot of the background stuff, and it will be interesting to see things unfold in "Ender's Game" and now have the background information as to how that came about.

My memory is kind of pathetic though, and so I'm taking notes on where the parallel stories connect or might influence each other, that way when I'm re-reading "Ender's Game" I can reflect back on my notes to get the full picture of the story.

Also, I didn't read "Ender's Shadow" right after finishing "Ender's Game" over a decade ago, mainly because I knew that the parallel story was about Bean, and I could not STAND the character as I went through "Ender's Game." Also, the adults are just so cruel and manipulative to these child soldiers that I couldn't emotionally handle that a second time so soon.

Well, my husband is right, as he often is. Don't let him know I said that.

I couldn't stand Bean because he was portrayed as an uncaring, calculated, egotistical little snot who didn't believe his poop stank and couldn't believe that he wasn't the one in command.

Then I read "Ender's Shadow"....

If nothing else, this story proved two things to me:
   1) Much like with people, never judge a character too harshly; you don't know what's been going on in their life. Also, especially with a character, the narrator's view may paint the wrong picture of a character.
   2) Everyone is the hero of their own story. Bean kind of had to be the hero of his, otherwise, what's the point? However, reading what he had to conquer, and how he actually HELPED Ender, really made me rethink my view of a lot of side characters. As well as reminded me that I needed to mentally plot out my own parallel stories for all of my side characters. Make sure that if I retold the story through their eyes that they are more than simple support; they are the hero of their version of the story.

Another thing came to mind as I got further and further into "Ender's Shadow".... Jolene was basically Bean. Not in personality, age, intelligence, or gender, but in her inability to properly communicate. The reason I couldn't stand Bean before reading his story was because Ender wasn't the biggest fan at first. Ender's interpretation of the kid was what I wrote above: uncaring, calculated, egotistical little snot who didn't believe his poop stank and couldn't believe that he wasn't the one in command. Now that I'm reading Bean's side of the story, Ender's cold snarkiness does seem overly harsh, and it's derived from Ender not understanding Bean's words or motives.
"Just saw your message," said Bean.
"Fine."
"It's near lights-out."
"I'll help you find your way in the dark."
The sarcasm surprised Bean. As usual, Wiggin had completely misunderstood the purpose of Bean's comment. "I just didn't know if you knew what time it was-"
"I always know what time it is."
Bean sighed inwardly. It never failed. Whenever he had any conversation with Wiggin, it turned into some kind of pissing contest, which Bean always lost even when it was Wiggin whose deliberate misunderstanding caused the whole thing. Bean hated it. He recognized Wiggin's genius and honored him for it. Why couldn't he see anything good in Bean?

-
Ender's Shadow, Part 4: Soldier, Chapter 16: Companion, page 243; written by Orson Scott Card
That's basically Jolene's interaction with the party in a nutshell. More specifically, her interaction with Mahtab, and in part, Rensin. Much like Bean, Jolene led a life where she didn't learn the same social interactions as the rest of the party. For Bean, it's because he's basically Sheldon from "The Big Bang Theory": a brilliant mind; a genius that makes him have the mindset of a 20-something at the age of 7, but also a social disconnect because he's more logical than feeling. Numbers and logic make sense to Bean, the chaos of humanity and emotions does not. The higher one's factual intelligence, the lower one's emotional intelligence.

Jolene, on the other hand, simply learned, after being constantly hurt by keeping her heart on her sleeve, to not get emotionally attached to anyone. So, when she WAS getting emotionally attached yet again - namely to the two Northerners and a certain half-orc - she could no longer interpret her feelings, and so she lashed out. She may not have realized what she did, but the harsher she lashed out, the more she was subconsciously saying "I love you; don't leave me." It's that weird mental protective shield that "If I push them away then when they finally do leave me it's because I was a jerk, not because they truly hate the real me."

I mean, the tactic worked. They did hate her, they didn't see the real her, and Jolene is moving on with her life with yet another chip on her shoulder. Ignore that she put there herself simply because she wanted people to decode her actions, without them realizing there was something that needed interpretation. No one knew to not take her at face value, although I'm sure Corlmitz suspected.

It's not an exact parallel between the two, Bean didn't subconsciously act like a snot in some veiled attempt to protect himself from rejection. Bean simply spoke facts and kept knowledge of himself close to the vest because those two things were what kept him alive. Ender, a much more emotional person, misinterpreted those features as cold and conniving. Therefore, the reader, or at least me, thought the same way.

Now that I have that connection with Bean, Jolene's pain being spelled out in Bean's laments, the kid is WAY more sympathetic for me. It also helps that Bean is finally showing the reader more emotions, which is another great way to finally connect with the character. I'm now actually nervous for the part of the story I'm at now.

I don't want to put out any spoilers, however, if you've read the book already or never intend to, I'll go ahead and drop a spoiler box. Just click to expand it and read the spoiler, or scroll past to stay spoiler free:


Stopping to write notes on "Ender's Shadow" might also help me with my own writing. The main reason why writers are advised to read as well. As I mentioned above, starting to like Bean and understand this character has taught me valuable things that I can use with my own character and plot developments. There was also a beautifully subtle but profound transition with Bean that escaped my notice at first. Going back and finding this moment in the story gives me a new life goal: becoming a good enough author to know how to do a similar transition.
    So Wiggin did understand how his army had been selected, even if he didn't know who had done the selecting. Or maybe he knew everything, and this was all that he cared to show Bean at this time. It was hard to guess how much of what Wiggin did was calculated and how much merely intuitive. "They can't break you."
    "You'd be surprised." Wiggin breathed sharply, suddenly, as if there were a stab of pain, or he had to catch a sudden breath in the wind; Bean looked at him and realized that the impossible was happening. Far from baiting him, Ender Wiggin was actually confiding in him. Not much. But a little. Ender was letting Bean see that he was human. Bringing him into the inner circle. Making him...what? A counselor? A confidant?
...
    Bean wondered what Ender imagined the consequences would be. Merely that the legend of Ender Wiggin, perfect soldier, would be lost?... Or was this about the larger war, and losing a game here in Battle School might shake the confidence of the teachers that Ender was the commander of the future, the one who lead the fleet, if he could be made ready before the Bugger invasion arrived?
...
    "I need you to be clever, Bean," said Ender.

- Condensed passages from pg 245 of
Ender's Shadow
Do you see that transition? It's subtle, right?

From the moment Bean heard Ender's name, on page 93, until that moment on page 245, Bean was determined to distance himself as much as he could from Ender; determined to only ever refer to him by his last name of Wiggin. When he talked about Ender, when he thought about Ender, when the narration was with Bean, Ender was ALWAYS Wiggin. THAT was the character's name. But then, there, Bean thought of Ender by his full name - Ender Wiggin - and that was the switch. That was when this kid was finally just Ender, and Bean's idol. That point where Bean realized that Ender was a kid, like him, who is going through trials way harsher than any child should endure, and this kid needed a confidant. He needed something that resembled a friend. Bean realized the vulnerability Ender was showing him, and in that instant, Bean couldn't distance himself anymore.

Beautiful. Simply beautiful. I am so mad that I had missed it at first. It wasn't until about 70 pages later, when Bean had to say goodbye to Ender, did I remember that Bean used to only refer to him as Wiggin. I needed to know when that switch was, and found it in the passage above. So good.

And moments like that every writer should note and keep in a journal somewhere. It's great to have these writing goals and these examples of how to do these amazing bits of writing that say so much with so little.

Anyway, while I think I've more than proved that it is important for writers to also be avid readers, I also went on for far too long over why I was reading instead of writing. My long-winded point is that this was mainly why I nearly missed so much writing. I have become engrossed in Bean's story, and I do want to get this book done soon so I can get through "Ender's Game" before the end of the month.

I didn't completely fall off the horse, though. I may have only spent about 20minutes or so on a few days, and may have mostly just edited, but I DID work on "Peeping Tomcat" throughout this week.

I added a lot of dialogue to the first chapter to better set up Adrien's terrible day without it just being endless "telling" versus "showing". I still have a huge chunk of Exposition Monster while Chat Noir is running around Paris, setting up the world for any who may not be in the fandom, and his reflection on Marinette, and why he lingered at her window. I tried to find ways to add more dialogue and action, but there really isn't anything more I could do with that.

As it is, I think the first chapter is as polished as it's going to get without any outside advice. We'll see what my beta duo of ChibiSunnie and Cyhyr say once I get them the story: one outside the fandom and one within, respectively. I'm still at least a month out from sending them the whole thing, though. I'm still aiming to get it to them by the end of the month; mid-February at the latest. I need to pick up the pace though if I'm editing one chapter a week, and I not only have 14 total planned chapters, but I still have to write/re-write about half of them!

My goal this week is to let you fine folks know next week that I have the next two chapters re-written and edited, and that I have a fix for the Akuma-Attack chapter after. But in order to be that on top of things I should probably get this post up and work on that second chapter!