Day -6: A Few Choice Hors D'Oeuvres Of Observation

I don't have a 'real' blog post today. I just have several tidbits -- things I realized over the past few days.

No, I didn't make this.

  • Interestingly enough, I find that whenever I start a novel, I automatically default to third person past, omniscient, even if it changes later. However, whenever I start a short story, I automatically default to first person present. Both are written equally badly, but I wonder what that means. 
  • My stories keep blending together. Maybe it's because I'm working on different things, as they bite me, so inspiration leaks. Maybe I'm just being paranoid, and it's really just that you can't avoid some cliches, which are so general that they're common to all, and it'll sort itself out as I keep writing; the devil is, as they say, in the details. Maybe it has nothing to do with working on separate projects or not, and the characters/worlds really are the same; maybe I just tend to create characters along certain repeated tropes. MAYBE it's all three! At this point, I don't know whether I'm just worrying too much (I mean, everything is still really abstract at this point, not much than thematic at best), or whether there really is something to worry about. It's all a big fat 'I don't know!' At the same time, I can't simply focus on one project, even though it's what I'd prefer, because once I do, that story starts taking me for granted, and promptly sulks in a corner, and refuses to cooperate.
  • I'm shamelessly ripping this off of a forum post I wrote earlier, regarding something I noticed lately: Adequate characters are holograms (seeming real but fizzling out when you poke them) because they reflect the trope. Good characters are 3D because they show reality. Compelling characters go beyond the semblance of reality, and actively create the world around them. My point is, in order to make a character seem real to the reader, the character can't just be real, but has to be more than real. Part of that is due to the limitation of the written word, or non-auditory/non-visual sensory deprivation of film/television. How many real people do we know who would make good characters, exactly as they are, life and all? Story logic doesn't work like real life logic. The most human characters are superhuman. The most lifelike characters are larger than life. The most realistic story is larger than life. How or why this works, I can't say. I wish I knew. All I can say is, the beauty in it lies in the creator's ability to project not The reality, but to project a lie -- warped perceptions, misunderstandings, lying narrators, perceptions shaped by biases, and all. I wish I knew how to do this. How do you break through the wall of the trope? I don't want trope. I don't necessarily want to be a George R.R. Martin -- I mean, after all, I'm not him -- but I do want to similarly break the walls, in my own way. I want them to define themselves, and not be defined by any of my mental restrictions. The strongest characters, the ones that leap off the page, not only build the world for us, but they build the world as they see it. 
  • And as they don't see it. We all know that moment when we see through a character's eyes, and we, the consumers, know a moment when we know something is wrong, but the character doesn't. Wrong boyfriend. Wrong door. Wrong career choice. Wrong path in a moral dilemma. This most especially hits home in an opening scene -- ever see the opening for something, and you just know that the character is in the wrong place, but doesn't know it? It basically sets the tone for the entire story. I wish I knew how to do this. So far, when I've read books, or watched openers in film/TV, I was never able to figure out how they did it.
  • I am my own worst enemy. My fear of failure is so potent that it's woven into me like one of those choking vines around an old tree. It's gotten so bad that it literally stops me every other sentence. Even if I find myself writing randomly, under the heady throes of muse bite, the fever cuts me down before I can even eke out a sentence of the burgeoning brilliance bullshit. Then I slog on, writing on autopilot, never hitting the heights, because after every other sentence thereafter, my own inner editor tells me I'm not a good writer, and that I should just quit. This voice is so insidious that I thought I'd defeated it already when I got into a daily writing habit -- and only today realized that I'm still crippling myself. How do you defeat something like that?
There. I think that wall of text counts as a post, right?


Camp Countdown: Day -12, Or, A Skeptical Muse And The Terror of the Lapine Glomp

I'm insane.

12 days until Camp NaNoWriMo, and I decide to do a blogging challenge?

After I said I would never again do one of these things?

And then I go and create one myself?

As usual, I'm going to skip straight past what's been going on in The Tree of Life, because most of you already know, and for those that don't...*sigh* It's mostly me having nervous breakdowns in the Chasm of Despair.

Anyway, what I plan to do this Camp is to work on the second draft of Dark Arcana: The Amber of Time.

Henry: Writing a second draft requires that you sort of write a first draft.

Quiet, Henry. You know nothing of such matters.

*Henry opens her mouth*

It's true. Muses don't.

Muses get to lounge about on comfortable chairs, chuck out ideas, and criticize as and when they please. It is their minions we who get the unenviable task of finding plot holes (an experience akin to stepping in a land mine, except when you step in a land mine you get to go to the hospital), and filling out said plot holes.

In writer words, something I'd much rather not do.

That's why I went straight for the second draft. I have with me a plot pile, which is sort of wandering mental prose doodling, and which I suppose could be called a Zeroth draft. It can't be the first draft, because there's really no defined start and end point. I just started writing, and stopped when I got so deep in the Chasm of Despair that I started running out of dental floss.

And, in so many, many words, that's my plan for Camp: treat it like a first draft. Go through, make notes, and write down every single mental leap I make. Hopefully the end result will be something resembling enough of an outline, or an outright draft, that I can finally admit I've finished something.

*Henry starts laughing*

I have a special gif that shows how much my dear muse believes in me.

But I have a plan! That's P-L-N plan!

*Watches a giant plot bunny walking out of a field*

*Without moving its legs*


I'm a believer in taking advantage of the Lapine Glomp. Ray Bradbury never worked on an idea until it came and bit him, and I find that the same strategy is working for me. This is quite different from not writing and waiting around for the muse. Muses never just show up. They need bait.

Henry: That's quite untrue! I show up all the time, and no beckoning needed!

Me: *raises eyebrow and puts out a heap of autopilot writing*

Henry: Something smells really good. I...must...follow...

I'll be writing. I'll be writing every day. I just won't force myself to work on Dark Arcana if it doesn't want to cooperate. I swear, writing is like trying to feed a running two year old. You don't run after the two year old. You let them come to you. (According to my mother, this really works. >_>)


Maybe I should get off this neverending blog post and go write actual story instead, before I resort to finding yet another silly gif to fill the big empty space.

At least it's not a silly gif. AND this album totally gets me in the mood for Dark Arcana. Shut up, Henry! This totally counts as homework!