NaNoWriMo Day 15 (content warning: Violence)

I’ve not written a lot, obviously. I’ve been working (full-time), playing Pokemon Go, and revising what I’ve written more that producing new stuff, but I just thought I’d share this snippet. Some folks think that because I write about non-human characters – cute furry animals, lemurs, for example – that my stories are fluffy and light, filled with charming characters and delightful picnics.

They’re wrong.

Also, it should be noted that we are working our way through Game of Thrones season 5 at an average of an episode a night. This may be having an influence on my writing…

Charming characters, perhaps. Delightful picnics, no.

Here’s a snippet from what I’ve written today:

She turned her head, just as a dark shape erupted from the bushes and struck her in the chest, throwing her backwards. Her head struck the hard ground in a flare of bright white pain. She gasped for air, struggling to catch her breath, as heavy weight pressed down on her chest.

There you are.” Mijifajifa leaned over her, exposing his fangs in a feral grin. His breath held the sweet and sour stench of fermented fruit.

Aurelia felt small fragments of rock tumbled away beneath her fingers. She flailed, managed to wrap one hand about the rope that bound the candle-lantern. Clutched it. “What … want?” she gasped.

You took what was mine,” Mijifajifa growled. “Look.” He pressed his fist against her muzzle.

Aurelia saw that the back of his hand had been shaved. A symbol charred into his flesh. Her vision wavered and blurred, unable to focus. She blinked. It didn’t help.

Do you know what this means?”

Aurelia tried to shake her head, but his knuckles ground against her nose. He twisted his wrist. Something crunched and pain flared out from her nose, across her cheeks. Her eyes watered hot, agonised tears.

I am told it means ‘Worthless.’ Do you know how I got it?”

No,” Aurelia whispered. She could taste blood in the back of her throat.

Because you got away. But you’re not going to get away this time.”

She felt something cold and hard, and very, very sharp, press against her.

I’m going to gut you with your own knife.”

Pokemon Go

Pokemon Go hit the “store” a couple of days ago, and it has been taken up, with great enthusiasm, by many of my (equally “grown up”) peers. Even my husband, who never watched the show and never shared my enthusiasm, has taken up the ranks of Pokemon Trainer. I’ve even purchased a data plan on my phone (there’s only so many Pokemon you can lure to your house using incense, after all). We’ve a gym at our corner, two Pokestops within easy walking distance and a shopping mall filled with rattata, zubat and pidgey at our disposal.

Anyway, in line with this recent resurgence of the little pocket monsters, I thought it might be fun to dig out some of my illustrations from my “draw ’em all” phase in 2008 (I didn’t draw them all, but did get through an awful lot) and one from 2011. You can probably spot the latter one!

Missing that I captured today are Slowpoke, Koffing, Weedle and Zubat, whom I appear not to have drawn. Maybe I should remedy that!

Here is also a clear example of how art improves with practice! Who thinks I should draw all my Pokemon again? Comment below (suggestions welcome)!

(Note: The sheep is a fan-pokemon, I think his name was Lambert. He was drawn for a trade. I should draw Pidgey again, shouldn’t I?)

Now, off to charge my phone, so I can catch some more!

CampNaNoWriMo: Day 8

notebook

So, can anyone read my handwriting?

 

As you’ve noticed, I’ve not been doing many writing updates. This is because, of course, I’ve not been doing much writing. It’s fairly typical with me to have a good first few days to Nano, followed by a terrible week or so of “I hate my novel, it’s useless, I’m useless”. This month I’ve skipped the initial “good start” phase and gone straight to the “I suck at writing” stage.

So, how can I get over this?

There is something very restrictive about working on the computer. Not only does it feel kind of permanent, especially since I’ve written the beginning already, but there’s also a lot of distractions.

Here’s my typical morning of writing:

*bing* You’ve got mail.

Oooh, could be something exciting, let’s see.

Oh, it’s spam. Well, let’s see who’s updated on Facebook in the last ten minutes.

No one. Well, what about the Camp Nano-thread? I wonder what everyone is up to.

Oh, that’s pretty quiet. Must either be at work or work writing. Hrmmm, maybe, I’ll write a blog post instead.

Okay, finally back to the story. Oops, not sure if that’s physically possible. Let’s google it.

*Thirty minutes of random google-link following later*

*bing* You’ve got mail.

So, as you can see, it is sometimes advantageous to step away from the computer (and also shut the telephone off). When I’m at this stage of my writing, the only way to get myself actually doing it is by trickery. And the easiest way to doing that is to write something that doesn’t matter. And, to keep myself free of distractions, to write something that doesn’t matter, and to write it on paper. The “on paper” bit is the important bit because I’m not committing that portion to the story, I’m merely committing it to paper. If it’s good, and relevant, and I can read my handwriting, then I might transfer it across into the main manuscript. If not, well, who cares – it’s not like anyone is ever going to read it anyway.

The best way to do this is in small snippets. Waiting for the kettle to boil? Might as well dash out a few quickly scrawled words. Dinner’s on the stove, so I can’t responsibly walk away to do something else, well, might as well put pen to paper. What’s that sound? The smoke alarm? Oh s**t.

Wolverine

wolverineThe Wolverine is one of the largest mustelid species, and has a wicked reputation. Despite his relatively small size, he has a fierce appetite and vicious nature. Wolverine are known to attack reindeer, and are a bane to the herders in the Lapland and other Arctic regions. He will pounce on the deer as it slogs through snow, ripping out a chunk from its shoulders, a chunk which crushes the spinal column and paralyses the deer. In this manner, the food remains fresh and warm as long as the deer survives, and the wolverine can feed on it. More commonly, his prey consists of smaller animals and carrion.

Second Book Sag

The “Lemur Saga” is my first real effort at a fantasy series, discounting my first “epic” novel, penned in my University days (and that was more like a single book in 5 parts, and I only ever did a first – or second – draft).  Single books are fairly easy: you’ve got characters, you’ve got an adventure idea, and, if you’re lucky, you’ll be able to complete a first, and possibly even second or third, draft without drastic plot changes. Certainly, I’ve had my failures – the re-written-six-times-and-never-good “Quest for Lemuria” and the never-got-around-to-quite-finishing “Scavengers of the Deadlands” (but I know why that is – because I’d written the climax and was stuck on how many loose ends I had to tie up).

Book two’s are hard – and I can only imagine that book three’s are more difficult still. I’m not a plotter, I’m what they call a discovery writer; I start at the beginning with a rough idea of how the ending is going to be and sort of strike out blindly for it on a weaving, winding path. When I stray from that path I stop, retrace my steps, and try to take a new route. Once I’ve finished, I might then be able to come up with a vague synopsis, but what I’ll generally find then is my synopsis is too convoluted, too random.

It’s even harder when you’re trying to juggle two characters. And probably ten billion times worse if you’ve got people itching for our second draft, constantly asking you when it’ll be finished, offering threats or bribes. Treating you if your one purpose in life is to produce this damned book. A book you want to get perfect, but just doesn’t feel “right”.

Patrick Rothfuss, I have a new appreciation of you. No longer will I wait impatiently for your final installment – I’ll simply look forward to the time when the date is released and I can begin reading the forerunners again.

Brandon Sanderson, I wish I had your dedication and your ability to plot, because if I could plot this book out properly, then perhaps I could avoid this re-writing mess.

Sometimes I’m glad that there’s only maybe a tiny handful of people anxious to read “Tail of Two Scions”.

And the book, when it is written, will be for them. And for myself.

Camp NaNoWriMo day 2

No writing done today, instead I attended three workshops hosted by the esteemed James George. I’ve never read his books, but he teaches writing up in Auckland and is a font of knowledge, whilst also being extremely personable.

The main problems with my WIP, Tail of Two Scions, is the balancing of the two protagonists: Aurelia and Rakoto. Now, Rakoto is more of a potential antagonist – or possibly an anti-hero (but I hate that term) – than a protagonist, at least in this book. And this IS his book. The first showed Aurelia’s upbringing, and the effect that being raised by the gentle fisher-maky, away from the politics  and conflict of the capital, affected her. The second shows how being raised in the capital, being manipulated and moulded, transforms Rakoto. And how the two will be brought into conflict, both shattering the peace that Aurelia has made for herself and shattering Rakoto as he realises what he has become.

Rakoto’s thread is written, more or less. It does need some refining: he is quite a passive character, and I need to have him playing a more active role in the shaping of his life (more than just that decision he made in the extract I submitted to the Bloody Quill). I need to show, somehow, that he has a mind for tactics and puzzles – which I think will result in a, failed, attempt to escape from Noir’s captivity and rescue Mephistopheles. In his interactions with the other Hunter-apprentices, I need for Noir’s training to have had a profound effect on how he relates to them – and how they relate to him. So, whilst it is written, it does need more drama and Rakoto needs to take more of a role in mastering his own destiny.

Aurelia’s is the quandry. She’s in a safe place, for the moment, but stories in safe places are never particularly exciting. I have some mild conflict organised for her: her rivalry with Simone, her internal conflict of having to quell her adventurous spirit. But this is more Establishing phase, and does not really hold up to the level of conflict required in the Development phase. What I think I need to do, instead, is having the external events set up as the Turning Points for each act.

Whilst the Inciting Incident is different for both characters (and I’ve yet to determine Aurelia’s), the II for the “ghost narrative”, the chronological one that the other two relate to, is probably set up in the Prologue: it’s the Queen beginning to establish her army, by forced recruitment. Why she needs an army I have never entirely clarified, obviously there is some dissent about her usurping of the throne, so there are likely pockets of rebels springing up all over the kingdom, and not just in Bemaraha.

The effect this has on Rakoto is subtle, but the flow on effects leads to him being attacked in the marketplace by a dissenter, and beginning to realise that his mother is perhaps not the nicest of people.

The effect it has on Aurelia is restrictive: she cannot risk leaving the safety of the stone citadel, lest she be found and hunted down.

So…. Instead of having Aurelia’s Establishing phase after Rakoto’s, I think I need to start setting it up before, and keep it brief. I have decided for this to expand on the one chapter I’ve currently got, giving Aurelia (and the reader) a glimpse of Bemaraha. Then I can spend her second Act focusing more on showing her the effects of the Queen’s regiment. There is a six-month gap between Aurelia’s Act I and Rakoto’s Act I (as Rakoto is basically born in the Prologue). Potentially, I could use a series of interconnected events to “fill in” these six months. But they need to relate to the main plot, and keep the tension rising. What parts of Aurelia’s Act II can I appropriate? (May need to change some characters for others to make the narrative work). Can I lose any of the characters?

So many quandries! So much to puzzle out!

Camp NaNoWriMo, Day 1

silky-header

Those of you who have followed my previous blog, http://lemurkat.blogspot.com, will know that I used to regularly participate in the monthly writing challenges. What you may also know is that I haven’t written more than a short story in the last two-three years. Partly this was due to my time-consuming Animal-a-day project (now, thankfully, complete). So, this year I have signed up for Camp NaNoWriMo. But it’s a bit of an odd one – because I’m not starting a new manuscript. I’m actually scavenging fragments of my old manuscript, preserving what is important to the plot (with a few character/name changes) and then intending to stitch it together with new material to create a better overall story line. This is hopefully going to come up with a more streamlined final product. That hopefully makes sense.

So, my pirated word-count by 2.11 pm on July 1st: 6141 words

# of new words written: around 1000

 

 

Xenops

XenopsThe Xenops are a Genus of ovenbirds, not to be confused with the ovenbird I drew earlier, which was actually a warbler. Anyway, these Xenops are true ovenbirds and there are three species. This fellow is the Plain Xenops. All three species are found in South America and,although their ovenbird kin  build clay nests into which to lay their eggs, the Xenops  instead fills a tree hole with shredded wood and calls that a nest. Into this she lays her eggs, and both parents help raise their offspring. Xenops are insectivores and scurry up and down tree trunks, prodding into crevices for dinner.