Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Ex-Nay on the Wishing for [Infinite] Wishes

Thinking about the stack of stories I'd written throughout high school and college, the sad realization that none of them are ready for publication...
makes me wish I had a magical genie.

But as everyone knows, you can't wish for--

1) someone to get the axe

... unless of course you happen to live in a mob family, in which case, they'll have whoever you wanna whack sleeping with the fishes in no time.

2) so-and-so to fall in love with you or someone else

...perhaps because love can't happen spontaneously outside the realm of "love at first sight" and it's a tight race to figure out what'll be solved first: how to create true, everlasting love or finding the meaning of life

3) someone to be brought back from the dead

...anyone who's watched Adult Swim in the past decade knows of the series "FullMetal Alchemist" where part of the plot is exploring what happens when people ARE brought back from the dead. You can gather all the elements that make up the human body, but the soul cannot be recreated. As a result, the product of the transmutation is an incomplete humanoid creature known as a homunculus, most of which have infinite life and unstoppable power

With genies (unless you count Barbara Eden's Jeanie), you only get three wishes. No substitutions, exchanges or refunds, and you can't wish for more wishes.

Right now I wouldn't wish for more wishes... I'd wish for infinite writing time :-P
the Earth stops spinning and life everywhere else but in my own realm of infinity pauses entirely...

It'd be helluva lot more helpful (not to mention REALISTIC) to find someone willing to read through my old work and give me advice on how to proceed.
Earlier, I started to consider what I'd do with my stories if I had the time... where would I focus my attention? What would I adjust? 

In doing so, I'll rustle up five examples:

  • Jonas's Story
  • Orion's Story
  • Rebel Diana
  • White Tiger Princess
  • Hope in Alaska


No matter how many times I edit this story I'm dying to be published to begin my writing career... I just can't seem to hack it. Deep down, I know all of its pieces don't quite fit.
I'd love to get someone to look at him, someone to tell me that his story is worth telling. Because I'd invested a lot of time and effort (and I'm not just talking blog entries here), I want to see it through to the end with him. I want to do it right- getting an agent to sponsor him and get me to the best possible publishing house so his book cover will be everywhere books are sold. Putting him on Amazon as a CreateSpace publication just doesn't feel good enough to get the word out... and I'd hate to make a mistake of putting him in a place where he doesn't get the attention he deserves.

Methods include:

  • writing character sketches (done some of that already)
  • in a rewrite, list all of the key events that happen in sentences
  • start the story on Nina's first day of school, thereby skipping the prologue (that I've heard agents pass on in general) and the possible comparisons to the beginning of "Spirited Away"... which was a key part of the inspiration
  • too many that I can't narrow down anymore to list

I wrote his story a couple months after finishing Jonas. He was intended as a "companion piece" or a "distant cousin" because he was a reincarnation as well... went through several, actually... but the logic isn't quite sound, seeming as I have a key plot point where he's lost at sea on a snorkeling excursion when I describe him as being wheel-chair bound... like, how negligent can people be? Then again, this trip is in Cancun, Mexico

Methods include:

  • ex-nay on the lengthy prologue (I wanted to do a Greek mythology theme to it, but it seems inaccurate that Zeus could mistakenly create Orion as the wrong species... not just once, but twice...)
  • double-check my logic and do more research
  • cut down on some of the melodrama... gets rather repetitive
Rebel Diana

I'd give a lot of thought to what I could do with this story, which has a lot of ME in there. She's a high school senior whose insecurities have lead to the creation of another personality... not quite as malevolent as something from "One life to live"... but ultimately becomes detrimental to whatever social life she procures in taking over... 

Methods include:
  • staying truer to the source of inspiration, going so far as to include song lyrics in the story itself (I'd begun that process, but haven't been back to it in ages)
  • new angle- she's giving a concert at a small intimate venue (kinda like a coffee shop, but not as laid-back) where her songs draw back to the high school experiences, and it ending when she reunites with the guy, who came to see her set
  • ...I had a third thing and forgot it
White Tiger

Probably the second most talked about project on this blog (although "Te Busque" is slowly catching up).
I had a break through a few months ago, but haven't pursued it much since then.

Methods include:
  • breaking the story into three part, the first being all in flashback, the second with the training and the third part as the climax
  • putting as much as distance from the source material as I can manage without losing direction entirely (to spare copyright battles later)
Hope in Alaska

Not sure if I mentioned this that often. I wrote this story all by long-hand... over two and a half note pads... the last thing I did was start a "track changes" version where I question how much I need to say, what to length and what to shorten... 
  • Continue that process before doing anything else, also;
  • Make things a little more cohesive and fewer "surprises"-- points I suddenly raise out of nowhere just for the sake of one dramatic moment

meanwhile, I'm continuing my brainstorming sessions with "Te Busque" where I'm getting new ideas all the time... but I'd like to have all of my pieces ready before I actually write... what I'd most like to do is write at least 20 pages for each girl about their backstories and such so I can refer to that later.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Imagin[ing] Dragons: The Most Versatile Creature of Myth

I'm writing this right now with the Imagine Dragon's song "It's Time" stuck in my head, but that's not why I'm making this post.

The other day when we were at Michael's, I came across a book chock full of dragons, different stories of mythology behind them, and also how to draw them.
There's always such a lure about "how to draw" books for me, especially when it comes to what I'd like to know more about.
I would have picked it up if not for the fact the sucker cost almost $30... very tempting, but I'm trying to be frugal... this year, it seems like I can't walk into Wal-Mart or Target without picking up something.

In response to that, I have yet to read several books I'd picked up recently. Among them are "The Lost Hero" and "The Serpent's Shadow" by Rick Riordan (of Percy Jackson fan), the latest "House of Night" novella telling the backstory of the evil Neferet... and I'm maybe 100 pages away from finishing Mindy Kaling's book.
So far it's been great. I'd just been getting so distracted between this and that :-P

So much about the dragon book intrigued me, but nothing more than the back stories about the different kinds. The mythologies of dragons are always changing and they vary by region. That's the part that fascinates me the most: everyone has their own story.
But I think I might have a place for the "Temple Dragon"... derived from Asian mythology, that is very reclusive and would be a lot more dangerous if they didn't go out of their way to avoid humanity.
And it's for a story I started writing months ago, but have stalled in my inspiration since then. Not that it's my greatest priority right now.
My desire to return was fueled by the thing that inspired me to begin it in the first place.

"Bleach" has gotten to the point of being extremely hopeless... as much as I love Japanese animation, there's nothing I can't stand more than an invincible villain that you literally spend the whole series trying to defeat.
What sucked about InuYasha was that the animé ended before the defeat of Naraku, but thankfully, one of my college friends who read the manga told me how it was resolved.

But with "Bleach," they have gone back and forth between several different story arcs... almost to the point where I'm begging "enough already, let's defeat this guy first"...
that's the thing about the series that last for AGES.

Everything else I'd watched only lasted for so long.

FullMetal Alchemist, both versions, ended about 50 or so...
Kekkaishi, which I watched because it starred Vic Mignona (Edward Elric) from FullMetal. barely lasted 20...
then there's Samurai 7, which only lasted 24... that's why I decided to get the boxset. Plus it feels so authentically Japanese that I geek out to it all the time.

so anyway...
I started a story about this female warrior named Cassandra, which began with her failing to defeat this invincible foe... an endeavor that almost resulted in her death...
I write up somewhat of a back story and a motive behind her quest... but have had little inspiration since then. Not that I'd worried about never finding resolution.
I got to thinking that a dragon could be the key to her emerging victorious- the trick is getting it to become her ally.
This "temple dragon" is mysterious, only appeared to a chosen few, and is extremely hard to read. 

That's all I got so far.

Supposing I go forward, this will be my 3rd time working with dragons in my work.

Jonas's story had two: one as his ally and another as his foe.

Orion, who I penned as a "distant cousin" to Jonas because they're both reincarnations of people who originated in an earlier time, had two: again, an ally and a foe... this time they were sea dragons because he is changed into a merman by a mermaid who saved him from drowning... who happened to know him in his former life.


All this got me thinking... are dragons really the most versatile mythical creatures? 
Every culture has a different story. Different writers have their different stories, whether you're Artemis Fowl or J.K. Rowling.

I don't believe there is any other that can fill this many roles and positions in fiction... whether it's in books, film or TV.
Everything else is either one or the other... all unicorns and pegasuses are deemed as pure, rare creatures... elves, dwarfs, and gnomes can play both sides, but it depends on how you ask and not many people work with them... right now I can only think of J.R.R. Tolkien, George Lucas ("Willow") and Jim Henson :-P goes to show what I know

Dragons come in all shapes and sizes... heck, there's a dragon that even had his own video game franchise...
Spyro not only got me into platform games, but his worlds are probably responsible for helping me see that not all dragons are dark creatures...
sadly, the games haven't been quite as good since Playstation... I got the first two on the PS2 and stopped after that... because the gaming was harder, longer... and maybe the fact they couldn't pick a single actor to his voice...
not that I should be complaining that much because I didn't mind the change between the first and second games... both actors happened to work together in "Rocko's Modern Life"... pretty cool... the latest actor to take over was Elijah Wood in a trilogy of games said to tell Spyro's origin and explain why he was the only dragon immune to the magic of Gnasty Gnorc in the first game.

I never got to play any of them... maybe because I rather spent my money on books, DVD'S and CD's.

I'd seen Dragonheart and DragonSlayer... neither of which I have a great memory about...
and most recently, I'd gotten to know the dragon featured in BBC's series "Merlin"...
I'm still kinda working on getting past that one.
The ending was such a cop-out and the worst of it was that the dragon showed up, as he always had before, and despite that, he told Merlin he couldn't do anything to change how things ended. Just bad writing on that part. They wanted to end the series with the 5th season, but the finale was incredibly rushed. It deserved better.
[part of me is considering putting some Arthurian mythology in my story as well... but I gotta do it  just right... otherwise it'll feel very disjointed to have Japanese influences mixed with English]

I saw Eragon and was very disappointed with it... the dragon in that was awesome, but it was clearly geared towards the people who'd read the books... the transition from the first storyline to the actual plot itself... just felt disconnected to me.
Then there's Harry Potter, where you'd seen everything from Hagrid's baby dragon Norbert to the Horntail Harry had to get past in the first TriWizard tournament task to the dragon guarding the Gringott vaults.

Some breath fire, some don't... some talk and some don't... 
and their loyalty can be with anyone or no one... it's to the writer's discretion how to use them.

So, supposing anyone who read this got to this far... any thoughts on dragons? Likes? Dislikes? Favorite interpretation?

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Hypothetically Speaking of Ruby and Amber

While listening to some Lady Gaga on Thursday, I had an idea.
Now it has me wondering whether or not "Te Busque" can manage to remain Talia's story. As I brainstorm about Amber and her motivation as the story's antagonist, I'm finding her becoming more and more complex.

Is my story evolving into a multiple character story where I'll be writing about Amber, Ruby, Scarlet and Vanessa in great length instead of just Talia?

Vanessa is the only wild card I have because I'm having trouble coming up with any sort of back story for her. Do I have enough in my head to keep her where she is in Talia's social circle? Compared to Scarlet, she's more reserved, less emotionally charged, a "I'll give you the bottom line" kind of girl and practically her polar opposite.
The only difference is, regardless of that, they are close friends with Talia and each other.

Amber and Ruby on the other hand... not so much...

From a physical standpoint, Scarlet and Ruby are twin sisters, so they have the same build. Vanessa and Amber, on the other hand, are voluptuous, have curses and rely on sensuality rather than dance skill to impress.

I played around with the idea that Amber tried out for the dance troupe more than once and she was denied her shot because she didn't have quite what they were looking for. She met Alejandro at the try-outs and he encourages her to not give up because he sees potential in her. She takes it as a compliment and is smitten, but learns later on that he's involved with Talia.

While listening to "Just Dance," I thought of Amber auditioning with two male back-up dancers that I've imagined at her flank during Karmin's "I'm just sayin' "
Where these back-up dancers came from, I have no idea... that's just what comes to mind.

Her routine with them is very tame and that's the reason why it doesn't make the cut.
Then to show what they're looking for, whoever's running the try-outs asks Ruby to do the routine from her own audition.
To "Love Game"... the lyric "I wanna take a ride on your disco stick" invokes an image of pole dancing.

Not surprisingly, Amber is frustrated by this... this leads her to believe that Ruby is a very smug, self-assured individual... but she never openly admits this. I just know that to be true.

From there, the ideas just kept building and building.

I also considered Amber being a waitress at the club. She had a rough past that she's trying to get away from, but she's admired the dancers and the attention they get, she just couldn't resist. But her dancing is very unrefined and not quite sensual enough to be at the level of the others.
She loathes the fact that she'll have to lower herself to that, but is willing to do whatever it takes to come out on top.
In doing this, she quits her waitress position, changes her appearance and goes to her next audition under a new name... supposing I go through with that, that's where the name change comes in. Carmen was Amber's previous identity.

When she becomes part of the organization, she's thrilled when it seems like Ruby has lost her edge and her material easily trumps hers. Something that continues to go on until the night of the "Heavy Metal Lover" performance... which reopens old wounds and leads to a mental breakdown... potentially.

That'd be an interesting scene to write, but it most likely won't make it into the actual novel because it's an internal thing... the only way it'd work is if the story were told in multiple first person POVs.

Amber's motivation is ever changing. She has that vendetta against Ruby that's always kinda there in the back of her mind, but most of the time, she feels she's superior.

Then while bringing Alejandro back into the picture as a potential source of conflict... Amber discovers Talia is the girl he's interested in and that she's at the center of the organization, the dancing was her idea. For these reasons, she plans to take Talia down so she can control how the business runs... she really wants the focus to be on skill and look of the dance rather than the "sex on a stick" image.

But she plays along with the act for as long as it takes to figure out how to bring it down... an inside job. Hmm... that seems a little extreme... putting herself through all the things the girls go through in their business to prove a point...
i still have a lot of kinks to work out.

In the third act after the performance of "Alejandro" where Talia stages a proverbial "break-up" with him, she and Amber have it out...
They exchange a few words and Talia finally says that she knows that Amber was behind what happened, not Alejandro, and she asks why she did it.
She consents to explain herself because Talia threatens to fire her, not only for what she got Emilia into, but because she broke the code of conduct... the girls have to get along and more importantly, there can't be that kind of bad blood between them.
Amber confesses everything, even her previous identity. While she has every right to be mad at her, Talia reassures her that she understands where she came from, goes into her own back story.

The most sacred piece of the code of conduct is the rule that the girls will bring up their pasts at their own discretion... there's no pressure to explain anything or volunteer any personal information. So in most cases, the girls don't know each other's back stories unless they open up about it on their own.

In addition to her ongoing romance with Juan Paulo, this conversation opens a dialogue between the girls and Talia asks them if they still want to go the whole 9 yards about their business... the outcome of that meeting, I'm not quite sure yet, but I don't think Talia will be part of it no matter what the future holds.

What I'd ultimately like to do is try to write a 20 page back story for all the girls... get to know them as well as I can before start the actual story. But first, I'm going to devote a page in my spiral notebook to each of them, their songs, adjectives to describe, their varying styles.