Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Sentimental value

I've been having the most fun ever - and I never thought it would be, which is why it hasn't been done until now.

I'm cleaning up.

Not at home, even though I should; no, far more interesting. I'm collecting everything I've ever written from the fantasy world I've built. It's a lot, I've been obsessed with this place since I was fourteen, so all the really crappy stories, the very limited conlangs I made in high school during my Latin classes, all those old characters (some of them are still the same, believe it or not) and the strange backstories; they are all about to find their way into the pile of research in my Scrivener file. Not all of it, but some of it can actually be of use.

What made me really sentimental was the old map I had drawn, where some of the place names saw daylight for the first time. I still have a Cliff of No Return just for the shits and giggles, a vast backstory to that name, but the Doomed Forest isn't around anymore. There are some historical places added to that map, and I remembered how much fun it was to come up with both the names and the backstories to these little spots on the map. An old bridge over a waterefall which seperated two countries at war, for example. Two ancient kings met on this bridge to sign a peace treaty.

Then I found something that I hadn't thought of at all. 
A calendar. I made a calendar some time during high school, made up important holidays in different cultures and countries. Why this find was such a surprise to me was that I totally had forgotten about it. I still use the same names on months and deities, but the holidays? I had forgotten about those. Of course I had to fix that right away. 

So, cleaning up. 
Couldn't get rid of the old maps, but lots of other papers just lying around. Filled a grocery bag with discarded papers, post-its and so on, and there's still a lot to go through. 

Found my old journals too, and they are really in bad shape. I had them with me everywhere. Full of scribbles, illustrations, ideas for stories and short dialogues between characters. My head was as strange back then as it is now...

So, sentimental value - yes. That's probably all it is, the only reason why I've saved these things for such a long time. Some of it for almost twenty years. This time I'll save the little nuggets of gold, and in another ten years I'll probably look at it all again with the same facial expression as I had today. I felt almost like I was looking at baby pictures of my daughter. 

Oh, and here's some Skyrim fanart I doodled the other day. Seldom save doodles nowadays ;)

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Feeling relieved

Maybe this is not what it's all about - NaNoWriMo, that is - but I've decided to work with my research during November. For the time being, everything is chaos. I have some of the work written in really old Office documents, post-its and scribbles in journals, other things are found in Google docs. Some of it have been moved to Scrivener but are in such a complete mess that I can't find it.

So, a while back I was talking about making a wiki for the story, making it easier to find the information when I'm working. I realized that most of the features I needed in a wiki is actually found within Scrivener, so I can get what I want without adding new programs.

So, yeah. This is probably a little like cheating; I won't start anything new and I won't be writing a first draft. I still have to add a whole lot of information to make the threads between places, characters and timelines work, and there's a whole lot of information that have been lost on the way and has to be rewritten. I haven't taken the time to do this earlier because... well, it's boring, really. Pretty much like cleaning. It's much more fun to write, but a structure would make that part much easier.

So, hopefully I have some of the maps ready at the end of November. I have said for years that I should make maps of the cities and their suroundings, make sure the world map is up to date and so on. Make sure I have all the information on all the places ready and make sure I haven't used different sources in the novel itself. I doubt that last part, but I'll have to take a look at it anywway.

I also want to make a timeline of the world history, which at the moment doesn't exist. stuff happened, but when?

And all those illustrations lying around... They should really be scanned and placed where they are easier to find. Like in the character sheets for example.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The voice of a character

I was wondering... 

How many of you hear your character with an accent and all when you picture them? I noticed that I do when I write in English, but not when I write in Swedish. Maybe because there is such a diversity of accents in the English language. Swedish - well we have some, but it's not really the same.

I noticed this, because I've been writing in Englsh all summer - still reading and writing in English just t practice the language. The main character I've been writing about has a British accent, sounds a bit like a thespian playing Hamlet. He's a drunkard, has several children in every port and can't talk about anything without finding a double entendre. I've had lots of fun, laughing hysterically to the voice I hear him speak with inside my head.

And he falls in love. Of course he does. With a tall, blond, muscular health freak who's sent to kill him. Yeah, she's an assassin. She's also a werewolf, talks with that adorable Savannah-accent, but is a bit too forward to be comfortable to be around. The thing is, she is bruatlly honest all the time, but everything she ways is said with that adorable voice, which makes her murders utterly amusing to write about.

The big thing about this is, that you use words that fit better with that accent you've chosen, which gives the character even more personality.

And then I come back to Swedish, and every male character sounds like my husband, every female character sounds like me, and there's no diversity at all. The voices aren't as amusing to write about. I'll ether have to find some accents that fit the characters quickly, or I'll have to think in English while writing in Swedish.

Man, I wish I had all your accents in Swedish too.

Friday, October 9, 2015

The Song Challenge!

Yeah, I like challenges. Have been stuck on that video game challenge for a while now, written a whole bunch of short stories based on video games. Lots of fun, but now it's time for something new.

The Song Challenge!

Grab a song, read the lyrics and try to write a short story based on it.

What to remember:
  • The song has a hidden meaning - DON'T use that. Pretend you've misunderstood the entire text and twist it until it's hardly recognizeable. Example: Boogie Wonderland by Earth, Wind and Fire. Write it as if it was a fighting scene with zombies. Perfect for practicing double entendres - if you know what I mean *wink-wink, nudge-nudge*
  • Add rather than remove things to the story to create the right feeling.
  • Keep everything in order. If the lyrics starts with "Midnight creeps so slowly into hearts of men who want more than they get...", then that is where you'll begin your story. Maybe you're describing how it feels to turn into a zombie, I don't know, but keep the order of the song.
  • If anybody is going to say anything, try to use lines from the song. like "Baby, uh, uh, it don't work" (even though I'd probably do something about the grammar).
And by that, here's my example. It's not supposed to be serious, so there's no need for false politeness ;)

The song is, as mentioned, Boogie Wonderland by Earth, Wind and Fire.

The Sanctum. What was it with some people, preserving their dead? She could have asked John, but he would probably have laughed her in the face. It didn’t matter how silent she was, behind every door there was another mummy waiting, ready with a weapon and a spell, just a shout away from turning her into dust. As if it was guarding something. Marsha knew she was good at what she did, but for some reason the annoying little man behind her knew what to say to make her feel insecure. Muttered curses between his teeth as Marsha opened a wooden door with a squeak. Called her unprofessional. A squeaking door was of course out of her hands, but John’s words hit her right in the stomach like a hard fist. At first she felt guilty, was just about to give him an excusing smile.
That was before she noticed that there were no mummies on the other side of that last door and that the chest on the platform in the middle of the round chamber already had been looted.
The lid stood wide open.
That little thieving bastard. John hadn’t just reconnoitered the area while waiting for her, he’d emptied the place from everything of interest.
So, why did he need her around at all? It was nothing but a dance in Boogie Wonderland; a dance he knew all too well on his own.
He needed her as a shield. The chill running down her spine at that moment was enough for her to get her act together. He was up to something, and he thought she’d be a pawn in his game.
Marsha frowned and gave John a mean glance and a crooked smile over her shoulder.
“Midnight creeps so slowly into hearts of men who need more than they get”, she whispered, giving the new blade in his hand a glance. He knew how to handle a sword, and this wasn’t the one he usually carried. It wouldn’t be balanced the same in his hand.
John met her gaze, and as if he knew what she was thinking he replied her with a wolfish grin.
“Daylight deals a bad hand to a woman who has laid too many bets.”
His face, a mirror of her own expression staring back at her. Then he shook his head, still with that grin; he didn’t even say it loud. She understood what he meant: “Baby, uh-uh. It won’t work.”
Marsha didn’t even bother to draw her sword. It would be her death sentence. That sly bastard, he knew she wouldn’t fight him face to face. He’d keep his eyes on her, preferably her back.

Marsha wouldn’t call herself a religious person. She’d kept the old silver cross that her father gave her, but she didn’t have it with her. Left it by the shrine in her home, kept it more of tradition than belief, prayed because she had gotten used to it. She said her prayers though she didn't care.
At least not until now. When she turned her back against John to walk through that door, she prayed. Asked her ancestors to protect her from whatever that deceitful rat would decide to do behind her back, asked God for wisdom, even sent a thought to grandma.
Why wouldn’t she - this mission, this tomb; it was madness, and for once her crazy old grandma might be able to see things from the right perspective. Marsha knew this wasn’t life, but she didn’t want to go like this, not without a fair fight where there at least was a chance that she didn’t reach the end of her line.

On the other side of the chamber was another wooden door, this one locked. So, either John hadn’t gone further than this, or he’d locked the door when he returned to the surface. The latter rather improbable. Whatever met her on the other side, he hadn’t sneaked past it before. A slight flutter in her stomach as she bent down to pick the lock, thinking that this was ridiculous. Why was she doing this, really? He apparently managed to unlock doors that wasn’t supposed to be unlocked; why was he standing there behind her, instead of doing what he did best? She didn’t have to think that thought through; Marsha remembered that she already had the answer to that question. And still that short little man had the stomach to taunt her when she broke her lockpick. Marsha took a deep breath, tried to pretend she didn’t hear him, grabbed one of her hairpins and got back to the lock.
The door flung open, a narrow and dimly lit corridor in front of them. The stench of decay, sound of feet over stone and rubble further in.
“Dance and shake the hurt”, Marsha murmured, took a deep breath and walked slowly on light feet into the corridor. John followed just behind her, stopped when she stopped at the edge of a platform. On the ground floor, several feet below them, three mummies were walking back and forth. One of them wearing a crown on top of the linen wraps, the two others holding staves.
“Dance” John agreed, and for the first time since their paths crossed, Marsha understood him. In this boogie wonderland, they talked the same language.
So she giggled. “Yeah, dance.”
The sounds flew through the night; her screams, his taunts, metal clashing against metal or rotting and peeling flesh. They were both on the ground floor in a whirlwind. Back against back, spells making the floor crumble under their feet, her sword glowing of the fire within. For a short moment they were equals, chasing the same dreams in this land of undead.
The noise woke others; like sleepwalkers they left their sarcophaguses to join in the fight only to meet their end at a sword. Limbs scattered around them, a severed head flew across the hall and bumped over a table in the middle of the room with a thud, and when the last of the undead was lying on the floor, twitching before leaving to the eternal stillness, John and Marsha turned around, face to face, a split second of understanding before he grabbed her face in his calloused hands and kissed her. Hard, demanding and with the same desperation as herself.
And they both knew that soon they’d be dancing again, and one of them would reach that dream at the end of the other’s blade.

Have fun!