Writing Echoes

Delijah's Writing Blog

A few thoughts on how the trip to Japan has influenced my writing

Osaka: ShintennojiI am really surprised at how this trip has affected my writing, because it was not the way I was fearing.

Expectation: Myriad of established and new characters roaring to be written. Plotbunnies eating me alive. Continuous headache.

Reality:

  • Heat
  • One untitled short story inspired by an amazing evening in Swallowtails’ Butler Café
  • A complete trigger of Hyakki Yagyō (formerly Youkai), a story that has been for long in the back of my mind about an onmyōji / paranormal detective. Youkai was originaly devised as a background “drama script” for a fanfiction, but somehow it rooted. Later on I used it in a short story, were one of the main characters, a writer, was the creator of a story with the same background.
  • Sense of place and better understanding of the day-to-day Japanese culture, which includes:
    • Appreciating face towels
    • Realising the ratio of see-through umbrellas vs. regular umbrellas
    • Learning about money trays when you pay somewhere
    • Realising the amount of power transmission lines
    • The (usually) disposable humid napkin you’re given in every restaurant when you sit down to clean your hands before food
  • Glimpses of the not-daily Japanese culture observing a Matsuri
  • Lots of wondering about spirituality due to the behaviour of people in temples / shrines.
  • Anchorage of a great deal of Osaka Shikigami scenarios.

Osaka: Namba
This last point has been especially important, since after all the Osaka Shikigami is my biggest project at the moment, and also very obvious since I spent most of the 11.5 hours on the plane ride back editing The Shikigami of Life (Osaka Guardians, Book 1).

You may or may not know that I originally wrote Life as a standalone for NaNoWriMo 2009. It was not until March 2010 that the background boomed into a whole series. Thus, the first draft of Life needed a lot of retouching to (I seem to be in a list-mood today. Fun):

  • Fix the timeline. The general Shikigami timeline was built after writing Life, so some details don’t fit
  • Fix the Korean in the room, a blaring continuity error [link]
  • Fix smaller continutity errors or details that got amended in later books
  • Introduce background characters
  • Erase or rewrite most of the scenes from Shirota’s point of view to move them to The Shikigami of Blood
  • Add the scenes from Nao and Takuma’s points of view from The Shikigami of Power
  • Polish the writing style, getting rid of the brutal abuse of one-line paragraphs.

However, as I was editing the scenes (I got about 150 pages done) I realised that I was placing the actions in my mind. One striking example came when Nao went to buy a phone to call Osaka. Before he went to “a shop” and looked for “a quite spot” to talk. Now he headed towards Akihabara, and settled to talk by the stone bridge to the south. As promised, there will be pics soon. For now, this how the edit looks. I am sure my future self will hate her past self for the whole lot of smartass comments:

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6 responses to “A few thoughts on how the trip to Japan has influenced my writing

  1. Denise July 26, 2012 at 14:28

    I like the four-points list of everyday things that you noticed. I think inserting those into your writing (where appropriate) will give it a much more grounded feeling. I guess those things are what I meant when I thought (said?) that your writing reads like Japan in a bit… watered down.