So, LUCIDITY has run its course. Only one member of my main cast died this time. Kind of low on the body count for one of my stories. I'd like to talk about a few things I learned from writing this, how I plan to use that knowledge and hear anyone and everyone's opinion on the story itself.
Let's start with things I learned:
1. Outlines are very tentative creatures and rarely last a whole story. That being said, they help form the story and most of the ideas in the outline really help. For my next story, the third standalone in my urban fantasy world (no title for the world yet) I've decided to follow up this style with one character/scene per chapter. While I'm still using the one paragraph outline style for the final draft of the outline, I've added several more pieces to the process.
-Step 1: Create the magic system and discover the starting point. (This was difficult considering I had to tie it into the other two novels as far as timeline goes.)
-Step 2: Brainstorm some conflicts, characters and ideas.
-Step 3: Reverse event outline. I got this idea from Brandon Sanderson from one of the episodes of Writing Excuses. The basics of it are simple. From your starting point and your brainstormed events, think of the coolest ending you can then work your way backwards from that event back to the starting point, event by event.
-Step 4: Pulling out all the key events from the reverse outline. From LUCIDITY, I learned that having the events jumbled together really doesn't help. Sometimes they will bend or fall apart depending on what the character wants to do. Thus, I went through my reverse event outline and made a list in order from start to finish of things that happened.
-Step 5: One-page synopsis. This is a great tool, especially early on when you don't have all the side events in your head, mucking up your ideas. With all the events in mind, this gives you the chance to see the story as a whole and correct some of the ideas in it.
-Step 6: Scene sequel outline. I'm still not 100% on using this format in the writing itself since I like to let my characters do what they will, but for outlining, it seems to be a great format. I had each chapter go from scene to sequel while going through each of the events on my list. The synopsis helped me put some scenes in perspective while doing this. For each chapter, I would write either scene (goal>conflict>disaster) and fill out those three boxes or sequel (reaction>dilemma>decision) and fill out those three boxes. When switching POVs, I stuck to the format, so some characters had nothing but scene, scene scene before getting a sequel, but the format of chapters was still scene>sequel>scene>sequel>etc.
-Step 7: The one paragraph outline. Now that I had a solid idea for what each chapter entailed, I created chapter files with the chapter numbers, names and POV character typed into the first line. Then I hit enter a few times and typed three points based on the scene sequel outline. Starting point for that character. (Just one sentence) The meat of the chapter. (The things that happen in the chapter. This is the paragraph.) And the ending point for that character. (Just one sentence.) I did this for all 52 chapters and have all of the individual files ready for NaNo this year. Should be very efficient, I hope.
I'm sure my outline will stray based on what my characters want, but this gave me a good idea of what the characters will do before hand.
2: Know the characters. This is something that has really troubled my writing for a while. I've never done character interviews and only used sample scenes to really feel out the characters. This mostly leads to the character's not getting much of a face till about 5 or 10 chapters into the story. So, being able to step back from LUCIDITY, I can see this better.
-For this year's NaNo, I've decided to 'get to know my characters better.' I used the 'Who am I?' character sheets to write out my three POVs. Then I 'interviewed each character' (I'll post the interview questions later.) before writing a 'sample shopping scene' (I'll also do a post on this later) where each of the characters went into the same grocery store under the exact same setup to see what they did and how they reacted. This gives me a good feel for the characters and a good reference to look back on when I begin writing in November.
3: Focus and enjoy. This is the last point I'm going to discuss today, but it's probably the most important. Due to some issues in my life, writing — while still being fun — has become somewhat of a chore, and this makes me drag my feet to get into the mood. The writing itself is fun. Even the editing to a degree can be fun. But the groundwork for writing adds that extra weight that makes it unbearable. Being able to tune out the groundwork and some issues in my life really helped me focus on the writing itself. And while focusing, I was able to enjoy the piece, and the words flowed onto the page much easier.
-This does not mean to ignore the groundwork which you have to do. Or isolate yourself from your life which will bring a whole slew of mental issues. All the time at least. For me, this meant 'isolation days' and 'isolation hours' where everything else would disappear, and I could only see the work in front of me. These can be random whenever you get the time, but for me, it was best to set up schedule so friends, (family not really an issue since I live alone in a foreign country) and loved ones can have an idea of when you will be busy. Sometimes skipping these times/days are necessary for sanity/the sanity of your loved ones. For me: Monday to Friday, 5pm to 6:30 pm/Saturday, 10am to 12pm/Every other Sunday. Those were my isolation times where only the writing was seen or done. Sometimes, I'd have write-ins with other writers rather than isolation, despite it being less productive for me. It does help flesh out ideas though.
Anyway, I hope these things help you with your writing and give you an idea of how to move forward.
As far as reader comments, I'd like to hear your opinions on the characters? Which character from LUCIDITY did you like the most? The least? Why?
-What was your favorite scene?
-Did anything surprise you or jump out of the blue?
-How was the foreshadowing?
-Any general comments on the story as a whole?
Currently, the plan is to just leave LUCIDITY as it is, a first-draft blog story. Though, if there is enough interest, I may put it through two more drafts and put it up on Kindle for 99cents.
I hope you enjoyed this drunken tale!
Until the next blog story (I was thinking about a 20k ish mystery in the guise of an epic fantasy before Nano if I get the second draft of BURNING done in time), work hard and enjoy yourself.
Back to the beginning: LUCIDITY brainstorming plus outline
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Thursday, August 14, 2014
Chapter 43 (A dying request)
Roffor slipped into the palace’s west entrance — the servants’ entrance. If any way into the palace would be overlooked by this Seed organization, it would be this one. She needed to reach Kkaj before it was too late. She couldn’t let him die.
Jekor followed behind her, and the door slammed shut behind behind him. Crack! The jarring sound echoed down the empty hallway.
She turned and slapped him in the side of the head. “Are you stupid?” The throbbing headache scratched at her nerves. “We’re trying to sneak in, not alert every Seed member to our presence.”
He glared at his feet. “Sorry.”
A grunt tightened her jaw, and she drew the Surefire Kkaj had bought her after the incident. This pistol was the finest gun on the market, even after so long. “Get ready in case anyone heard you.”
Jekor nodded before pulling two pistols from his Drunkzard vest. “Which way?”
“Knowing that pompous piece of crocobear shit that calls himself a king, they’ll probably be in the throne room.”
“Are you sure?”
“Then … .”
Jekor licked his dry lips. He needed som water. “Then shouldn’t we search the entire palace?”
“It’ll take too long.”
“I … guess you’re right.”
“Of course, I’m —”
Heavy footsteps clicked across the hard tile floor.
“Moo—” Roffor gritted her teeth and cut off the foul word. “Sounds like a lot of them.”
“Yeah.” An audible gulp sounded in his throat. “But where?”
She pointed to a door just before the intersection ahead. “Hurry.” She took off in a run, his soft footfalls padding the tiles behind her.
Seven guards skidded to a stop in the intersection and gaped at Roffor. Their hands shot towards the pistols at their waists.
Roffor leveled her gun towards the man in the lead. The spikes of pain from the headache made her aim unsteady. “You Seed bastards have gotten in our way for the last time!”
Jekor’s pistols raised into the air.
Her finger brushed across the trigger. The muscles in her arm twitched.
The lead guard’s eyes lit up, and his hands zipped into the air above his head. “Wait!”
The other guards froze half way to their guns.
Too late. Despite her best effort to stop herself, she pulled the trigger. Her shaking grip jerked the handle down, and the bullet slammed into the roof. Why didn’t I just shoot him? She gritted her teeth. “Get out of our way.”
“Wait.” The lead guard’s voice trembled. He licked his lips. “We’re loyal to the king.”
A growl climbed up Roffor’s throat. “That’s not much better.”
“Listen, we’re trying to get to the throne room.” He swallowed. “Seed has taken over all the main corridors.”
Jekor tapped her on the shoulder. “If we had their help, we could probably move through these hallways quicker. Plus … .” Using the barrel of one of his pistols, he pointed to his forehead.
“You’re … right.” She pulled out a powder charge, and a bullet then reloaded her Surefire. “Fine.” Roffor nodded to the left pathway. “Let’s go.”
“Do you know which way to go?” the lead guard asked.
“Do you know how to shut your mouth?” She fell into a run with Jekor behind her.
“Who is she?” the lead guard asked.
“No idea,” one of the other guards said.
“Roffor.” Jekor continued laughing.
She peered over her shoulder before turning the corner.
The lead guard’s jaw gaped open. “Is Kkaj here?”
“That’s who we’re going to find.” Each of her steps pounded against the stone in time with the hangover.
Several voices shouted ahead.
She held up a hand and lowered her voice. “Slow down.”
Her group slid to a stop. Jekor stepped up beside her. “What is it?”
“Someone’s just ahead.” She glanced to the left.
A large stairwell to the second floor sat between two broken sets of armor. Paintings lined the floor like carpet along with a sticky, near-black substance. Was it blood? The metallic stink in the air suggested it was, but the faint smell carried little substance.
“The throne room is just around that corner, but it may be better to just go around the group ahead of us.” She moved towards the stairwell, feet crunching across the crusty substance. “I think —”
“Just kill them and get it over with,” one of the voices ahead said.
She froze in place. What?
“Why don’t you kill them!” another voice said with a high-pitch. Was it a woman?
Roffor swallowed. I have a bad feeling about this. She turned around and edged to the corner, group in tow. Slowly, she peeked into the stretch of hallway outside the throne room’s back entrance.
Three guards stood in front of the four foreign monarchs, including Roffor’s Foi-Refejung. The bastard King Koi-Jankorest was nowhere to be seen. The female guard lifted a pistol and placed it against Queen Foi-Refejung’s forehead. She cocked her gun.
“Move!” Roffor burst around the corner.
The three Seed guards started.
Roffor aimed and pulled the trigger.
Her bullet ripped through the female guard’s head, covering Queen Foi-Refejung in blood and brain matter.
The other two Seed guards turned their guns towards Roffor. Their fingers inched towards the triggers.
Jekor rolled into the long hallway and fired both his pistols. Bang-bang! His bullets caught the two Seed guards in the gut and Dropped them to the ground. The loyal guards raced into the hallway and helped the monarchs to their feet.
Roffor gasped, sucking in air. Had she been holding her breath? She stumbled through the hallway and bowed her head before her queen. “Where is Kkaj?”
Queen Foi-Refejung pointed towards the throne room. “He’s fighting with some woman in the throne room. King Koi-Jankorest said he went to help.”
For a long moment, Roffor’s heart stopped beating. “What did you just said?” Without hearing Queen Foi-Refejung’s words, Roffor shambled forward.
“Are you alright?” Jekor placed a hand on her shoulder.
“Here.” He handed her the Surefire Kkaj had given her. Had she dropped it? He pointed down the hallway. “Look. Is that the king?”
King Koi-Jankorest stood in the doorway of the throne room, holding a pistol in both hands. Bang! He pulled the trigger, and a laugh squeaked from his mouth before a bullet ripped through his head, splattering his brain across the carpeted hallway.
“Kkaj!” She fell into an all-out run, leaping over the bastard king’s corpse. She should have spat on it. Her head jerked left then right.
Ikiffar held Kkaj in her arms as he lay out across the floor. Her nose was broken, and blood matted her face. “Jekor … .” She sat Kkaj down and stood.
Roffor bolted around her and fell to her knees beside Kkaj. “Please … wake up.” Tears blurred her vision and pelted Kkaj on the cheeks.
He coughed, and a grin split his perfect face. “Not. Dead. Yet.” He coughed again, and his bloody spittle pelted Roffor in the face.
She sniffled. “Why?”
“To save. The world.”
Jekor raced across the room and wrapped Ikiffar in a hug. “I’m so glad you’re safe.”
Ikiffar swallowed. “I’m sorry.”
He kissed her. “Don’t be. You’re safe now. We’re together.”
“But — “
He kissed her again then glanced around the room. “You wouldn’t happen to have any Lucidity left, would you?”
She shook her head.
Kkaj coughed again. “Jekor.”
Roffor brushed her finger’s through Kkaj’s hair. “Save your —”
Kkaj shook his head. “My time is short.” He reached into his Drunkzard vest and pulled out a small shot. He held it towards Jekor. “This is a shot of Lucidity. Take it.”
Jekor’s eyes lit up. “Really?” He trudged forward as if his broken dreams had risen from the dead. “Are you sure?”
“You.” A spasm rippled through Kkaj’s muscles. “Saved the world by sacrificing. Your dreams. Of course. Take it.”
“Kkaj … .” Roffor buried her face in his chest.
“Thank you,” Jekor said, moving closer.
“Just promise to take care of Roffor and help Ikiffar protect the crown prince.” Kkaj’s voice began to fade.
Roffor’s lips quivered. “Kkaj!”
Kkaj reached up placed a hand on the back of her head. “I love you. I’m sorry that. It took. Me so long to. Open up. To you.”
“I love you so much. Please don’t leave me.”
“Not my choice anymore.” He lifted her chin from his chest and pressed his lips against hers.
Fire raced from the connection down between her legs. Why was this happening? Why did he have to die?
After brushing his tongue across hers, he pulled away. His eyes stared at nothing. “Protect the world from the seventh spirit, Sloth.”
Jekor gasped. “Seventh spirit?”
“Eternal Sleep is produced in the mountains of … . Invasion. Makes. Stronger.” Kkaj’s body went limp.
Roffor sprawled atop Kkaj’s lifeless body. “No. No! NO!” Her entire body convulsed as she cried over the loss of the man she loved more than life.
Next: Post-Lucidity discussion
Tuesday, August 12, 2014
Chapter 42 (Unlimited power)
Ikiffar gaped at Kkaj as the color drained from his beautiful eyes. She swallowed. What did he just do?
Kkaj took a step forward, his foot touching a flask of vodka. Had he drunk a fifth type of liquor? Was that even possible? The vodka flask shot across the room and embedded itself in the far wall.
She pulled out her last bottle of Lucidity and drained it. A fire burned in her chest, and her skin stretched. The spirit of Gluttony fed on the last of her youth, pushing her body into its middle years. “I don’t know what you just did, but you don’t have to die protecting that bastard.” He shouldn’t be able to match my strength and speed with this much Lucidity coursing through my body, but — She warped the white energy around her body and magnified her armor ten-fold.
“Did you not hear me?” Kkaj’s now melodious voice carried five echoes, yet he didn’t seem possessed. “I am already dead. But I cannot allow the wars your revenge would cause.”
Ikiffar shook her head. “Then I’ll have to destroy —”
Kkaj appeared in front of her. So fast. “I am sorry.” His fist shot forward and slammed into her gut.
Air raced from her lungs, and she doubled over. What. Power. How? Her mind reeled. She dropped to a knee. Her muscles twitched. Her chest heaved, and she sucked in a breath.
Kkaj cocked his foot back.
She pushed the last of her white energy into her armor.
His foot shot forward.
Her armor intensified.
His foot slammed into her chest.
Her armor expanded. She pushed off of his strike and flipped back into the air, landing on her feet. She slid backwards to regain her balance and bumped into a stand of some sort. The enhanced strength and speed provided by the armor made the stand’s fall to the ground seem like a slow crawl.
Kkaj bolted forward.
She could follow his movements. A grin split her face as she moved into Mountain form and sidestepped his formless strike.
He blinked. “Oh?”
She twisted her shoulders and grabbed onto his left forearm.
His rough, steel-like skin bristled against her fingers. Was that because she was wearing the white armor? Or his technique? He snapped her grip and shoved her away from him.
Shouldn’t have hesitated. She gritted her teeth and reset her form.
Kkaj transitioned into Plains form.
“How do you know there will be war?”
“I have talked with the other nobility.” He edged forward. “All want a piece of the throne.” His left fist shot forward.
She batted his strike away.
He jabbed again, catching her in the forearm.
The pressure ripped through the armor and cracked her aging bone. She bit off a scream and gritted her teeth. “Just because they want it, doesn’t mean they will fight a war for it!” She kicked low.
He turned his knee towards her strike. “Did you not notice the little uprising going on as we speak?”
Her foot popped against his hardened bone, and pain shot up her leg. How is his body so hard? She stumbled backwards and reset herself in River form to evade his next attack. “Uprising?”
A sigh deflated Kkaj’s shoulders, and he slapped himself in the forehead. “Were you not even paying attention when you came in here?”
“And the guards attacking you?”
“They’re just guards.”
He shook his head.
“I figured you had gotten to them and set off the alarm.” She circled around him, inching towards the back exit of the throne room.
“Did you hear an alarm?”
“That’s because those guards are trying to kill off the monarchs. There are fourteen different groups in the country alone plotting against the throne, each keeping the other in check.” Kkaj held up a finger. “This group here, Seed or something, is not backed by the nobility. Thus, I didn’t plan for this.”
Ikiffar froze in place. “So, because every part of the nobility fights for the throne in secret, if the throne was open, they would take their struggle to the streets?”
“Wow. You understand quite easily.”
“But with this Seed group out to kill the monarch, even if I fail, war will still happen.”
“Not if we help the monarchs escape.”
“I-I-I have to do this. For my family. For the future of the nation. We can deal with the war later.” She spun and bolted for the door.
Kkaj zipped across the room.
She juked to the left.
His fist slammed into the wall beside the door, crushing the stone.
After springing backwards, she turned into Forest form and struck for Kkaj’s throat.
His elbow shot upwards, and he barreled through the air like a wheel.
She caught his elbow and punched him in the ribs. He jabbed him in the ribs again then twisted her hips, pulling his left arm over her shoulder. Using his arm like a lever, she whipped him over her body and slammed him into the ground.
He grunted as the floor tiles cracked under his weight. Like a bullet, his foot shot forward.
She jerked backwards.
He gripped her arm tight. His foot smacked her in the jaw and sent her flying across the room.
The back of her head hit the floor, and she skidded backwards. She placed her hands behind her and pushed herself up.
Kkaj appeared above her and stomped her into the floor.
Blackness closed in around her. No! Power seeped from her armor, filling the air around her.
He stomped on her chest again.
The power around her dissipated. “Please.” Tears filled her eyes, and her grasp on the white energy loosened.
“Sorry.” Kkaj brought his fist down into her gut.
Screams burst from her lungs. Were they hers? Exhaustion overran her old muscles. The last of her white energy evaporated. Warmth washed over her body, and she closed her eyes. It was over. I’m sorry … mom. Dad. Jekor. She bit into her lower-lip, the coppery taste of defeat filling her mouth. I failed to avenge my family, and I isolated the man I love. Her hands trembled. Time to face death.
Something reached under her neck and her lower back.
She rose into the air.
Something pulled at her chest. A moment later, icy heat filled her body.
A gasp leaped from her mouth and rang in her ears. The pain vanished. Her eyes shot open.
Kkaj cradled her in his arms, rocking her back and forth. “I am sorry I am not better with healing.” He wobbled to the left, but regained his feet before falling over.
“Why?” Her voice cracked. “Why are you letting me live?”
“That’s what I want to know.” King Koi-Jankorest’s voice echoed through the throne room.
“I told you to get out of the palace!” Kkaj gritted his teeth and growled. “Your worthless life is in danger the longer you remain here.”
“I’ll leave soon.” King Koi-Jankorest pulled out a pistol and pointed it at Ikiffar. “Once I kill the little crocobear who defiled the royal liquor.”
“Get! Out!” Kkaj’s muscles tensed. “Of! Here! Now!”
King Koi-Jankorest cocked his gold-plated pistol. “As I have proven to you before with your little slut of a servant, I’m the one who gives orders here.”
Kkaj lowered his head. “Please use your power to hold JemKej together.” His voice rasped in a near-silent whisper. “Protect the crown prince.”
“What?” Tears welled up in Ikiffar’s eyes. “Isn’t that what your job is?”
“I will be the one to kill that bastard.”
Bang! King Koi-Jankorest fired.
Kkaj dropped her and snatched the bullet from the air. In one swift motion, he flicked his wrist and threw the bullet back across the room.
King Koi-Jankorest’s jaw dropped.
The bullet ripped through his head and splattered his brains across the broken floor tiles by the back exit.
King Koi-Jankorest fell backwards into his own puddle of blood. His arms twitched once. Twice. Three times. He went still.
Ikiffar leaped to her feet and caught him before he hit the ground. Her tears pelted his face. “What are you doing?” She shook his shoulders. “Get up.”
He reached up and wiped the tears from her eyes. “I told you before. I was dead as soon as I drank the fifth liquor. I just wish I had the chance to say goodbye to Roffor. I —”
“Kkaj!” Roffor’s voice echoed through the throne room.
Ikiffar looked up.
Jekor and Roffor scrambled over the king’s corpse and into the throne room.
“Jekor … .” Ikiffar released Kkaj and rose to her feet, staring at the ground.
Next: Chapter 42