Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Plotbunnies Bogging Down My Challenge

Well, I won Camp NaNo, and then quickly dive bombed. After writing last week's post I made sure to finish the fight scene before my group meeting. Nearly 1700 words in one sitting. I only needed to write 500 for my challenge. I then wrote nothing. I barely made time to write on Thursday either, not even managing 200 words! At least I made the time to write SOMETHING, so I guess there's that. Then I was away for the weekend, so Friday and Saturday were both a wash. I needed to sit down and play catch-up to finish the week with at least 2500 words of narrative written, even if I didn't write 500 words per sitting or for five days of the week.

I wrote 182 words before I picked my husband up from work. Go me....

Still, in the end I have a completed fight scene and 2016 more words than I started the week with. Not the best, but still better than nothing, right?

As for the fight scene? Ug....

It was rough. Super rough. I HATE fight scenes, have I told you guys this? Well, thankfully, one woman in particular in my writing group has been writing at least one play a year since.... I don't recall.... high school? It's been a while with many projects under her belt, regardless of when she started. She kind of specializes in fight scenes for her plays, so she knows how to get the choreography down. It was rough to hear HOW MUCH I got wrong, but at least now I know where I'm aiming.

We've been chatting off and on throughout the week, and she's given me quite a few other things to think about.

One of the main ones is the realistic nature of Trish trying to do a knife duel with her butterfly. This had me super concerned for DAYS because no matter what other knife I tried to use instead, it just didn't seem to fit. It wasn't "her" knife. Trish unequivocally wields a butterfly knife. Thankfully, Hubby came to the rescue on that one. He used to have a butterfly comb back in his punk-youth, and demonstrated how a five-inch butterfly blade could still be enough to do some damage. Besides, Trish wouldn't want to give Devon a swift death, so having something that could be long enough to pierce his heart or other organs just isn't her style.

Knife flipping for boredom, punk persona, and intimidation? That's Trish's style.
That's when I realized that my real mistake was not having her use her finger work more frequently. She should have flipped the knife at the last second in order to come at Devon at an angle he wasn't preparing for. She should have changed hands frequently so he couldn't keep track of her blade. She should have snapped the knife closed and flipped it back out in a second when Devon's guard was down. She should have smacked his knuckles or his blade away with her handles as she flipped them. She has this knife because it fits her personality so perfectly, and yet I didn't have her utilize it. Yes, it's a small blade, but her skill would have made up for it.

Another reason she NEEDS to have a butterfly: it's small and seemingly nonthreatening even though it's illegal, but that doesn't mean it can't mess you up real quick and prove why it's still dangerous. Ya know, just like her.

Trish: the butterfly knife of the Brotherhood.

Hubby wasn't too thrilled with Devon's knife either. For whatever reason, I always pictured Devon as trying to pull off that James Dean, Rebel Without A Cause, 1950s street punk look. Maybe it was the jeans, tight plain t-shirt, and denim jacket outfit Ronoxym dressed Devon in when he first described his character. Either way, I just pictured Devon having a Stiletto switchblade knife.
Much like Trish and her butterfly knife, this knife, while impractical,
seems to match Devon's character the best.
It's not practical. It's not utilitarian. It would be something a kid on the streets would have in the '50s, but not in the 2000's. Still, there's just something about Devon's character that tells me that he tries, even subconsciously, to emulate that 1950's street punk persona.

The much more practical and realistic knife option though, the one I might go with if Ron gives me the A-OK, is a standard switchblade.
It's simple, sleek, and the same intimidation factor as a stiletto. The main thing, though, is that it's more modern, you can easily attack and quickly hide the blade like a butterfly knife, and it has a slicing blade that can also be used to stab, as opposed to the stiletto which is essentially only designed for deep stabs.

The one that Hubby always pictured, and believes is the most realistic option due to the utilitarian nature of it, is a simple flip-blade knife.
There's still the intimidation in flicking this baby open with a thumb or a flick of a wrist. Yet this one is the most practical to also use to cut non-organic things, such as wires or boxes or cloth. It just seems the most practical for someone who used to live on the streets.

Unfortunately, Ron simply said that Devon had a "pocket knife" which could also just as easily be a Swiss Army knife. I'm patiently waiting for Ron to let me know what knife style he was picturing for Devon. In the meantime, I'm working on the choreography of the fight yet again.
Knives from the Scott Pilgrim comic books
by Bryan Lee O'Malley
(Had to, I'm exasperated and talking about knives...)
At least this time Hubby offered to spar with me to get the choreography down. I don't know why, but I was afraid he'd find me weird asking for him to help me with this. The man is my muse and my rock in all things, but especially in writing. I should have trusted that he'd help me out.

I'm still hoping to have it ready enough to trade with Mouse on the 15th, and fully edited for posting by the end of the month. I'm also hoping that Ron will have a few moments to read through what I have and get back to me about anything he'd like me to change. This story does involve two of his characters: Nyssa, and of course Devon. I want to do them justice.

In the meantime, though, I still have to get Devon and Nyssa to the room where they are going to do battle. It's a slow go with awkward pacing. I'll have a lot of work to do once I get the words down, but I have to focus on that first. Get the words out of my head, then worry about editing.

I was such a procrastinator as a child, and never quite shook it. However the procrastination when I was in school lead to another bad habit of editing as I went. I didn't have time to write a first draft, go through and edit it, and possibly revise it once more. I needed to edit as I wrote so that my first draft was as perfect as it was going to be. Since I consistently did a good enough job that I always got A's, and sometimes 100%, on all of these written projects, the practice stuck. Even in college I almost always turned in my first draft. I just grew accustomed to this bit of myself: the perfect first drafter.

Now that my tastes have improved, and at a much faster rate than my writing has improved, I'm starting to realize my first drafts are far from golden. It's a bit of a bedrock shake. Sure, it's generally not the largest rewrites: usually pacing and removing some repetition. My largest editing pattern is just streamlining what I have on paper so it ends up being about 20% less when I'm done.

Then there's this fight scene, which may be a complete rewrite now that I have my flaws pointed out. I know where to go from there.

Still, it's weird to me that I have to do rewrites and major edits. It started with Please, Let Me Explain, and has become more and more frequent in my longer works. It stings a little bit, but I have to remind myself that it's part of writing. I'm not becoming worse because I have to do rewrites. I'm becoming BETTER. I'm noticing that the first go through my head isn't always the best go. I'm becoming more professional. I'm letting arrogance over my "perfect first drafts" slip away. I'm evolving.

Speaking of, I have another story idea. A couple, actually, but I'll focus on one.

After fifteen years of just remembering this amazing show, I finally managed to track down an affordable copy of Cirque de Soleil's show Varekai; my favorite performance the troupe has done.
I saw it when it aired on Bravo in 2003.
The story of Varekai is a retelling of the Greek myth about Icarus. In Varekai, when Icarus fell from the sky after flying too close to the sun, he didn't actually land in the ocean and drown. Instead, he fell onto the summit of a volcano, into a bamboo forest called Varekai: Romani for "Wherever." There, Icarus falls for one of the inhabitants. He must acclimate himself to this strange new world and it's strange inhabitants while also struggling to save his new love from a tribe of water-people who kidnapped her. Well, actually, it's never stated who they are, they could be lizards since they keep creeping ABOVE the stage, but their costumes look like scale leotards and seaweed wigs, so.... I'm going with water-people?
 So, I really don't know what these creatures are supposed to be. Lizard? Water nymphs? Personified rain pouring onto the volcano summit? Then again, the main character is also a bit perplexing.
This is Icarus' love interest La Promise, or Betrothed. She's sometimes known as The Caterpillar since her love for Icarus causes a metamorphosis that completes after she's whisked away by the above water-people, or whatever they are. She moves and has fins and a crown like she's a fish, or maybe a reptile of some sort. Yet, when she's captured, it's within a giant bird cage where she cries out to Icarus with avian-like chirps and dolphin-like squeals. Still, she's referred to by fans as a caterpillar because of the drastic metamorphosis.
Even the official press release about this character says: "An exotic creature who enraptures Icarus with her sensual beauty. She will be his guiding light and he, in turn, will be the catalyst for her metamorphosis."

It's a mythical bamboo forest at the summit of a volcano during Greek mythology, so.... run with it?

Anyway, my point is that Cirque de Soleil shows are very much like ballets. There is a central theme and story that the director wants to portray, but then that story is only vaguely told through the dance, acts, songs, and costume. The audience is given a little blip of the story with their program, or, in my case, the DVD back cover, and the rest of the story must be interpreted.

This kind of annoys me, which is why I'm not the biggest fan of ballets or operas, due to my not knowing what is being sung. It annoys me a bit with Varekai as well, but the gymnastic skill the performers have, and the hilarious antics of the clowns, makes up for it.

Still, I wish there was a comprehensive play-by-play of the story and how each act fits in that story.

That's when it hit me. I should write that story! It would be a different take on the traditional fanfiction.

It already started forming in my head. It would be told from at least La Promise's and Icarus' points of view, but I may include the other named characters.
Left to Right: The Guide wearing Icarus' wings, La Promise, The Limping Angel, Icarus,
and The Skywatcher
Technically, Icarus, La Promise, The Guide, and The Skywatcher are the only ones listed as named "main cast" in the press releases, but in the description of the act the "cripple" performs - Solo on Crutches - the performer is described as The Limping Angel.

The Guide, as described by the press release, is weathered by the sun of many centuries, and is like a kindly, fragile great-grandfather—a wise old man whose mission is to inspire and bring about change. Personally, my interpretation of the show is that he's a cranky old man who is untrusting of the man who fell from the sky.
The injured Icarus is hurt and scared. His only peace and consolement is La Promise, and yet they keep getting chased away from each other. The Guide doesn't seem to want to bring them together, but he does seem to test Icarus to see if he's worthy of La Promise, eventually marrying the two once both are healed and reborn.
The Skywatcher, again, according to the press release, is described as "a mad scientist and ingenious inventor, collector of the world’s memories and interpreter of signs. This is a man who receives signals, transforms sounds and forewarns of trials and tribulations. He lives perched on the edge of his laboratory-nest." He senses Icarus' coming and gathers the other inhabitants of Varekai to watch the youth's fall. According to the description of another act, the Skywatcher is "always on the lookout for new inventive ways to mess or interfere in the life of the inhabitants of the forest" and seems to favor picking on The Guide.
He doesn't necessarily prevent Icarus and La Promise from getting together, but he seems to have his own trials to make sure this is the right boy.

We don't get much about the Limping Angel, but he seems a sorrowful man crippled by some tragedy. He watches on from the distance in most cases. I imagine he sees himself in Icarus and is maybe warning the boy as to how to overcome the trials of Varekai in order to become strong and worthy of La Promise.

The beauty of this show is the story potential built behind it. For the plot that keeps popping into my head, La Promise would wonder about her metamorphosis and why it hasn't occurred yet. Perhaps it is tied to a prophecy about Icarus, or perhaps it only occurs when she finds her soulmate. Meanwhile, Icarus laments not listening to his father, and becomes cautious and timid after his fall, for fear of injuring himself again, or worse, killing himself with his impulsiveness. The Guide, Skywatcher, and Limping Angel each try to bring Icarus' self confidence back up as he heals. Eventually, Icarus becomes reborn as an inhabitant of Varekai; one of its people now.


Yet I have been telling my other writing friends lately that they need to focus on finishing their existing project and just write notes of their plot bunnies in journals to look back upon later. I need to practice what I preach. So, the Varekai fan-novelization will have to wait, as does my Miraculous Ladybug fanfiction idea(s).

I'm hoping this spark and added assistance will help carry me through the rest of this summer challenge. Keep me excited to write consistently. Then, perhaps the Varekai novelization can be my NaNo story this year.

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