The Blog:

Writing my universes into the stone of the internet, one blog post at a time.

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Five: Interconnecting a book with the Internet

I'm currently working on a self imposed deadline to get arc one into draft three by next Thursday, so blog posts will be a bit light, thankfully I'm not exactly popular... yet.

This topic is basically about the Internet. Ah yes, Internet, getting your minds out of the gutter for the moment consider just how powerful a tool it is for the modern writer.
Spellchecker, Sure we've got word for that, but sometimes it fails, and Google is a great trick to double check meanings. Also works as a backup Synonym's finder. Research, Wikipedia and a social networking will help you fill every possible blank spot of your personal understanding, naturally its stuff that should be taken with a grain of salt, but shouldn't that be true for all information from any source?  Idea Bouncer, I have made a number of people my reoccurring victims to pitch ideas, from book concepts to dialog flow to sequences to realistic storytelling and it really helps to iron out the unbelievable or the just plain bad. Self Advertising, You could say it's a double sided sword, but been able to interconnect with said social networking means you are advertising to as wide an audience as possible, you're not limiting yourself.

It's not just limited to this however, the internet is space to throw up interesting facts, concepts, abandoned thought processes, rejected characters, interesting titbits about the setting. Personally I don't really see myself as the exclusive "end of all discussion" source where it comes to the deeper meaning of my writings, in this sense, I'd say my opinion carries as much weight as a diehard fan does.
Is this a story of a woman's struggles against society, her own fears about going power mad, while fighting off the extraterrestrial, supernatural and terrestrial threats to the human race? Or is this a tale of action, adventure and good old fashioned kicking of arse by a female protagonist who can electrify at a touch? Is it both? Personally I'd say that's not for me to decide, and a website lets me put my own thoughts on the matter up for discussion and counter point.

I'm hardly the first person to come across this, of the top of my head I know Brandon Sanderson's website fits what I'm saying to a T.  A place for the author to write up his inputs about chapters, deleted segments and more. On that vein the internet has another use, interconnectivity between writers. A chance to speak to authors whom have caught your attention. Assuming they want to reply, of course.
Shame the internet comes with its drawbacks. So many delightful drawbacks all offering small distractions that will only take up a reasonable amount of time, small bits of information to be had, "oh how interesting I didn't know that was related to that."

... And then you realise its 21:58, you've been wikiwalking all day and there's still another chapter to edit before calling it quits for today.


Saturday, 28 May 2011

Four: Stories that write themselves

I was shocked to discover Alexandria writing herself, but this goes further, the entire setting has sometimes shifted place to show me depths of it I had never considered. They happen in two ways, through the story itself, much like watching a program, I see the universe unfold in my mind's eye, I watch it from many perspectives and I absorb what's happening. Then there is the 3am "Oh god I must write this down!" moments, flashes of inspiration as pieces interlock together to show me a glimpse of the completed picture.

Don't misunderstand me, I do know where my story is going and it's still going the way I set it to do so. It has its direction I demand, the setting I have created, the characters I've tossed in, yet it's strangely exciting to see the people write themselves, their relationships, their loves, their aspirations, it really surprised me to see my universe, what I created, almost begin to flower on its own without me there to influence absolutely everything.

I do wonder, just how much control should a writer have on such impulses? Certainly I'm going through the refining process now, sorting out from what is basically a storm of creative hunger put to paper to organise, refine and tune up what I feel is bad, mis-communicated or badly displayed, but what I'm asking at the key is, should I ride this wave of letting my universe write itself all the way to the end, or is there points that I should stubbornly reign back the beast and demand it to comply with my vision?

Currently the wave has yet to clash with the purpose, so I can't see it been an issue either way, but I would love for anyone whom has written before to drop any thoughts they have about this.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Three: The Devourer's Story

As I said earlier, Alexandria's back-story stems from an irritation, and a desire to conceptualise how I would do it instead. This is an old habit of mine, I have a tendency to create characters biased upon what I feel a show lacks, its disgustingly fan fictiony of me. Regardless I have found it to be a useful trick as it has provided a few templates that I am now finding updated incarnations of.

Alexandria herself has gone through a few re-creations, originally I had toyed with the virtues and sins to help frame my characters, and I'll go into more detail on the results of that in another post, but sufficed to say I dropped that concept when I found it unwieldy. Following this was the incarnation of her that almost directly ported across the Dragon Ball Z fan fiction character, that too was quickly abandoned, her personality was shaped to adapt to the setting, this was not the same setting.
Following this was an attempt instead to take the more absolutely sure character. A confident leader, certain of herself and cocky about her prowess, absolutely convinced that her own powers made her a walking god. Funnily enough when I went to write this, I discovered something interesting about writing that I had been previously made aware of by someone over on Campaign Creations.

The concept that a character writes herself.

I was not quiet expecting how far that actually went. Alexandria went from this cocky character to what I think is a fully fleshed out human being, whom at this time I don't want to dive too deeply into for fear of spoiling my work before its even done, has completely subverted that cocky personality in favour of something more tempered, much darker then I originally intended and perhaps more believable because of that. Certainly more entertaining and understandable than another 'perfect action heroine' I hope.

What really surprised me was hearing her tell me, not in a literal "Voice in your head" way of course, how her relationship with what I originally intended for a minor character was deeper then I planned. When I went back to read how the two of them interacted before, I discovered much to my shock that it made sense to me. To elaborate on how it feels, think back to a favoured person telling you some interesting morsel of information that you've forgotten. Now you remember that and it's a connection to both the information and the person. That's how this feels when I'm writing, like I'm remembering old conversations with a good friend.

It makes me wonder now, in creating a person in my mind, am I simply putting their personality traits, history, life style and choices into a cooking pot, seasoned with the setting and story and then sampled to see how it tastes?
Certainly explains how I find myself sometimes subconsciously doing it for my flavour of the month entertainment when I hit that point of irritation with a setting.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Two: The Setting.

As I said in my first post the original concept for this book was slightly strange, fish men, government agents and lightning weaponry. I could go into detail as to what cocktail of different sources blended together to originally cause that spark but for now I'd rather focus not on the past but the present, the actual telling of this universe.

This setting is an alternative reality, breaking away from our own in the 1950's, the simplest idea was that in this reality, the occultism that became popular was actually real. Not all of it of course, but some of the organisations, some of the summoning and some of the cultural threats were very much true.
I picked the 1950's because it served as a point for me to start writing how the universe differs, it is in this decade that the FBI begin to take the occult seriously after a few key events, this is all back-story however.

Instead of mimicking this story with my own spin on it in the 1950's, I decided to push the era forward a hundred years, 2050, the date is not entirely set but im fairly happy with 2050 for the moment.
The main reasons for this been a preference of the modern era, the chance to play around with some technologies that are in development currently, and put my own ideas to paper as to what I could foresee happening in 30 years time. Certainly I have the excuse that as an alternative reality they could just be a technological variant of our world, but I want to play this as close to believable as I can.

The end product is a setting that has had a number of genuine occult threats interwoven with all of the "stupid teenagers dressing up in black and drinking blackcurrant juice from chalices" and different cultural phenomenon been mistaken as something worse than it is by a worried US government.
To give you a real life example, think of the various misunderstood stories on the Emo culture, now expand that and add the real threat that some of these exaggerated stories could be true, that there really is a bunch of people who drink the blood of others due to the fact they are possessed by some kind of parasitical creature that drinks the blood of humans for some such reason (and bursts into flames in daylight, hey this is kinda origi-... wait a sec). 
Couple this with a government that since the 1950's  has been aware and actively working against this, has been using the FBI and occasionally special forces to stomp these hotspots down whenever they emerged, but were concerned for causing general panic so never revealed too much, just a few crackpot tabloids more in their world then ours? This is the very bare bones concept of my universe.

The Occult is real, and there really are monsters in the dark. Thankfully we have our own monsters to fight it, they are called ingenuity and perseverance.

More on this later, thanks for reading.

One: Introductions.

Hi, my names Harley Davis, no, really it is. I'm 26 years old as of writing this, out of a job and with a whole slew of problems that really don't need to be dissected here. Long story short, I appear to be the poster boy for the hopeless shut in, but you should not let that stop you from trying. In that spirit, I found ways to alleviate my problems and writing has become one of them, something that has mercilessly grabbed me and refuses to let go, and I'm enjoying it immensely. 

Most of my life I had flirted with the idea of writing, putting down concepts, silly things like MMO boss mechanics. From that I spent a few lazy afternoons talking with a friend about it, bouncing ideas off each other and at the time I was watching an old anime show that I have long lost interest in, but nostalgia had grabbed me after hearing one of its musical scores again and I decided to revisit my favourite part of it.
One thing began to niggle at me, Why does this show have all of its strong female figures drop off from scaling with the men as the show progressed. The setting had a focus point on inner power, why not just have a woman who overflows with that, and not physical strength?

I refer to Dragon Ball Z, something that I found extremely enjoyable as a teenager. I decided to pursue a line of imagination on it, I am aware that Akira Toriyama created three women to fill different rolls, Bulma's the smart girl, Chi-chi the tough yet loving motherly figure and 18 was a brawler in her own timeframe. I think he created the three of them extremely well.

So what did I come up with? Well, a few reasoning's as to how this character could scale well within the constraints of the universe.
One: She had the power to absorb energy attacks and store it.
Two: That power increased her maximum "pool" as well, not equal to the absorbed amount.
Three: She had a pair of gauntlets that could be empowered to give her matching physical strength at the cost of burning off her energy pool.
Four: As she developed as a character, following the show's plotline, her ability to absorb power expanded, from been pure melee to been able to absorb everything around her in small amounts.
Five: She was cast in my mind as a darker character due to her vampiric nature, a anti-hero much like Piccolo.
Six: She was a technical, strategic fighter, not a brute force one.
This last attribute sort of made her slightly overpowered for the setting, someone who could drain the power of her attackers, who could fight smartly and use the arrogance of her opponents "cat and mouse" games against them? She was perfectly set to curb stomp almost every villain in that setting, not a good thing. I'd like to believe that I gave her a fitting reason for been set to dominate, not just "I'm great at everything I do" as justification. 

I gave these ideas to a friend, whom looked past the obvious fan fiction nature of it, and said that this is too interesting a concept to just waste away as idle fancy, and at the time I had pitched a very silly concept for a book to him as well.
Fish men fought by government agents with lightning cannons. Yeah, let's not go there.
Anyway, what was his suggestion? Try it, and so I did, and here we are, two years later with a concept that has grown, evolved and completely moved away from its original inception, Fan fiction cast addition meets fish demons and fries them with Tesla rifles. Ught.

So, here we are. Welcome to my blog and my world, and thank you for reading, I'll try to keep it shorter in the future so I don't keep you here for too long each time you return.