Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Is there such thing as reader's block?

My writing is going all right, if slowly because so many other things are going on. But my reading - that is most definitely stalled.

There's less than a week left in January and how many books have I finished? Zero. Rereading nearly all of the Harry Potter books doesn't count, though I like them very much. I'm on book three of the Illiad and already the "classic book fatigue" has set in. I will not pretend to being a cultured young lady whose favorite books were highly academic treatises on the human soul written by dead people. No.

But the majority of the books I got for cheap at library book sales have been in that vein, or nonfiction. Thus, I'd feel guilty going to check out something with lots of fighting/action scenes and people running around with weapons that I became a fan of in sixth grade (what up, Alex Rider?) when I have more "intellectual" fare waiting in that bookshelf at home.

Also, reading the intellectual stuff doesn't feel as though it can be construed as a waste of time, whereas if I got Scorpia Rising from the library I'd probably start thinking, Damn, this kid doesn't need to worry about school. But I've got A, B, and C tests to study for...so why am I reading this? Honestly though, if the question was whose writing is easier to read, Horowitz or Homer, I'd have to go with the first choice.

Time for a compromise a la Henry Clay (just kidding. That was a piece of pretention as bad as saying I'm excited about reading that one finance book I got for 50 cents): read the more contemporary books I bought and work through the drier stuff with some library choices as supplement.

Why does this matter to me in the first place? Reading and writing are two sides of the same coin, and I have the nasty superstition that if one side is neglected the other will start to suffer, and I'll begin to use cliche sayings. Like "two sides of the same coin."

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Friendship is not a Boat

It’s a train, and we have ridden it together for years now, pointing out the sights just outside the window to one another. But I have seen things that you have not, and when I show them to you, you never understand. And you draw my attention to things you have seen and I have too, but that repulse me, and then I will never understand how you can consider them worth your time. And just when I think you’ve become something foul, you prove that you are instead childish, and you point out the same old things that were new when we were still unaware of the dark shape just barely visible in the distance, a black smudge against the sky that is no longer blue.

I don’t show you what it is, because I’m curious, and I want to see if you will discover it for yourself. But you don’t, you just keep laughing at the things that have long since ceased to be funny, and the things that have never been and never will be, and you laugh so hard that you cry. And that disgusts me as much as your new sights do, so I turn my eyes to the hope written in brick and plastic on the horizon, because now that I know how you’re rotting from the inside out I don’t feel the need to watch it happening.

We slow, and then we stop. I stand up and you look at me, and you can’t understand why I am carrying all my bags with me, and then you look out the window and finally see what I’ve been seeing and anticipating for what seems like an eternity. I am prepared, and you are not.

Wait, you say. What is that? Why are you standing?

And I tell you:

Friendship is a train.

This is my stop.

-----

From Melusine to Adelaide. These are two of my storyless characters, and their friendship has not quite progressed to this point at the start of the nonexistent story, but it will get there.

Honestly, I have no idea what sort of setting they're going to end up in. I have a few more characters from the same world - Amedea Lewis, Konrad Lancaster, Thaddeus MacGregor - and the character relationships could work in a world mundane or magical, modern or medieval. So really, I'm facing choice paralysis.

Maybe I'll write short stories testing out the different waters. I have most of one in which Amedea (Amy) confronts Thaddeus about his recklessness in a world in which they are monsters and thus distrusted by the general population...but this is a path I will go down only reluctantly, because "special people oppressed by society" is not the premise I want for my story.

We shall see.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Revising ProjU, part VI + ProjU Art, part III

When I say revising, I mean straightening out some seriously annoying timeline issues. Yes, there were more of them. And now I realize that I need to move up the entire timeline by twenty-eight days, which is going to cause...issues. Unless I move the entire [spoiler] part back and have them meet in the middle...yeah, I think I'll do that...

Anyways: writing advice. If it's not going to interfere with your writing output, keep track of your timeline as you're writing. It'll save you a lot of effort. At least this gives me the perfect excuse to put off writing a Chinese school essay for another few days.

But today was rather productive anyways, as should be expected from a day off. I painted a picture of a storyless character today, but instead of showing that I'll have the last of the ProjU art:

Yeah. It's the steering device, which lets me not know anything about boats and still write a lot of scenes on the ocean. And yes, that was a spoiler, but since it's built right into the premise I don't feel guilty about giving it away.
Silviu Mesui. He's a skeptic, and he's not that important.Shira Nezumi. She got sent to NW with several other people. Really, she's not that important, but I wanted to draw her. In the "manga" I tried drawing in fourth grade, she was Rat's enemy. Now they never meet.



This is my "Crazy Genius Trinity" series. From top down, Conflagra, Jodet, and Sashok. In descending order of preference (picture), Jodet, Sashok, and Connie. I can't choose which of the three I like the most as characters, though, since they are after all crazy genii and thus excellent. Their craziness varies, though - for Connie, it's a flat-out god complex. Jodet is the least crazy - mostly, she's just hypocritical and arrogant behind a mask of niceness. Sashok likes control and causing/witnessing pain. None of them can deal with emotions. Sashok again. This picture is really recent, from yesterday. It actually is in the ProjU world, though his clothes are kind of ambiguous. Radu, one of seven elite members of the Ursa Major gang in Ulja (if there's an Ursa Major gang in real life, I'm not talking about you guys). He and Sashok are in a group for the main story arc, but Radu trusts Sashok about as far as you can throw a flat piece of paper. Not even that far, actually.
Terrence Chiyham and Saline last-name-pending. They start out as enemies but are grudging allies. Terrence, the one in front, is all about honor. Saline is insecure and has an abrasive exterior.
Saline again. His hair was really fun to color.

And that's the last of it.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Something I Just Found

...even though I should be working on my English essay. But this list of common plots is just too good not to share, even though I'm really not sharing it with anyone.

Glad to see that ProjU's basic premise isn't on there, but given the proliferation of future-dystopia world-gone-to-seed books it may well be on its way to being common...

Friday, January 7, 2011

6 Ways to Make Writing Essays Easier

1. Don't be afraid to transplant sentences. Sometimes I'll come up with a killer line that I know would have better effect at the end/beginning/someplace other than where it originated.

2. Start in media res. I usually write [introduction goes here] in front of my thesis, then go straight to the body paragraphs. You can always go back and write in a real introduction.

3. Listen to music that you like, but that won't distract you, while writing. This is also helpful while studying.

4. Use a thesaurus, but be careful about slight changes in meaning, and avoid colloquial words.

5. Take a break every now and then.

And one that I really need to learn:

6. Do not fear splitting up long, unwieldy sentences.

See the guide for in-class essays here.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Revising ProjU, part V + ProjU Art, part II

[insert keyboard smash here]

TIMELINE ISSUES. Like you would not believe. It's a good thing that I kept my ProjU stuff on an excel spreadsheet. You need a place to keep track of in-story logistics or you will go insane.

Total, I've deleted 15 scenes, though some of those were just combining two similar scenes. Since I started off with, I don't know, 220k words (approx.), I can afford to do this. I'll be happy with anywhere from 150,000-200,000 (which is what I have now).  Unless you've got a contract, forget wordcount and cut anything that sucks.

I still have 25 chapters, but when I'm all finished I'll probably go in and partition them off more equally, which would probably result in fewer chapters.

*knocks on wood* Hopefully, with the major logistical stuff behind me, I can actually focus on the writing.

So then, have some art. This is all my art of the Bayre people (most of it is them in another setting where I use their characters), except for one picture that I'm batching with the last of the art because it was part of a series.
Sheena Swiss. In reality, she is a Pikachu pillow I got when I was, uh, five? In every other setting I have her in, she's a fine-upstanding-young-American whose Texan grandmother makes some good cookies. In ProjU, she is a Bayerisch girl who manages to keep her chin up in some pretty bad situations.
Sheena is here again with Madge Lobolinskaya and Jodet Sienna. This was drawn a few years ago, so please don't look at it for too long. They're shown in their main setting (do I have anything of them in the world of ProjU?) Katalina last-name-pending. In the main setting that the Bayerisch and Alpine people are in, she's a lively, stylish, and warm-hearted girl who can usually be found hanging out with her childhood sweetheart Giovanni. In ProjU, she's an extra. Sorry, Kitty.
Could this be my first digital thing ever? Well, it was one of the first. I did not realize how bad it was. Madge and Sheena standing around looking lame cool.
Jodet, as it says. Probably the only one of this bunch actually set in the world of ProjU. She's without her glasses because there are no optometrists in the world of ProjU. She looks older than she's supposed to be.
Madge being herself. She looks like she's having fun.
Madge again, with a scarf and ushanka because she's...er...visiting her relatives in Russia. Since she's Russian. In case you couldn't tell from the "Lobolinskaya."

Forgot to mention it before, but many of the pictures were already shown in an earlier post here.