Writing Echoes

Delijah's Writing Blog

Tag Archives: excerpt

Blood Moon first edit

Blood Moon is a relatively short yakuza story that takes place a lesser-known ward of Tokyo, Ota-ku, where Haneda airport is located.

Originally the story had two parts, a 6,000 words prologue setting the main character’s background, and the main one, 20,000 words, which are the story itself. Soon after I started the editing, I began wondering if all the background was actually necessary to get to know the characters, and after a couple of pages, I decided that it wasn’t. Thus, I cut it all out. It was good having written it, as it gave me a feeling of knowing the characters, but the content itself was not necessary. I did not have to go into Kojiro’s eye surgery procedure to convey that he had had sight problems when he was younger.

I think that after undergoing the editing, Blood Moon has improved a great deal, although still needs double checking and more work. However, now I think that it is a consistent story.

The main character, Kojiro, has settled down in my mind, and his inner struggle makes sense enough so he can be a coherent guy all throughout the plot, and his actions – that at first looked whimsical and random – make sense now. Takemura has started to get a bit of a third dimension, and the secondaries are rounder, and can actually be told apart!

If you are curious, you can have a first sneak peak at the WIP here (around 1,500 words):

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Retriever Feedback from the Adventure Writer’s Competition Panels

The Adventure Writer’s competition [link], for which I wrote Retriever sent a critique of the book, rather uplifting one:

Panel # 1: The prologue left me a little flat, but once I got into the story proper I was swept along. I really like where the story is headed – just needs polishing.
Panel # 2: Your opening paragraph is fantastic, except for the one part of the first sentence. I’ve never heard of someone snapping his tongue, and I’m not sure what that means. I stopped in the middle of reading to try and picture what that might look like. As a general rule, don’t force the reader to stop while they try to puzzle out something you have written. Maybe Aaron Yen could show his distaste with a different gesture.
Competition director: Look – this has great potential. Unfortunately, you scored in the middle of the pack technically and that kept you out of the Top 5. This is good – polish it and move forward.

When I wrote to the Adventure Writer’s Competition & Panel Director to thank him for his time, he replied this:

You have great potential – know that and move forward!!

While probably he was just being polite, I also got “scores” on several topics:

  • Opening/Prologue / Chapter One: Does the story start at the correct place, with an interesting,intriguing hook? Is there a good introduction of characters and plot? Has the writer revealed enough information, or too much too soon?
  • Setting: Is it clearly defined without extraneous detail? Is there a sense of time and place?
  • Characterization: Are they skillfully developed, multi-dimensional, and believable? Can you emphathize with the hero/heroine? Is the villian evil? Are their actions motivated?
  • Plot Line: Is the plot line interesting, unique, skillfully developed?
  • Dialogue: Is it natural? Does it move the story? Is it distinctive to each character? Is it appropriate to the genre? Is dialogue well- balanced with the narrative?
  • Narrative: Is it necessary, interesting? Does it progress the story? Is it the character viewpoint rather than the author-intrusive?
  • Pacing Does the story flow smoothly? Is every scene essential to the story? Are there highs and lows of conflict?
  • Motivation: Is the motivation genuine and not contrived? Is it compelling?
  • Point of View: Is it clear and concise? Are transitions smooth and the changes logical?
  • Style / Voice: Is the writing vivid and evocative? Is it special, unique?
  • Relationship: Can you feel the tension, magic, excitement? Does the relationship progress at a satisfactory rate?
  • Mechanics: Grammar, punctuation, and spelling
  • Format: The format follows generally accepted guidelines

Each topic was rated on a 1-10 scale and my “score” was a 6 for all of them except for the “Relationship” bit (5/10), which was supposed to be awkward anyway, giving me a total of 83 points out of 150… which is not bad for a novel written in three months. The general “grade” was:

Good – some structure needed

I shall keep trying, and doing it harder ^^

Check out the excerpt for Retriever here if you don’t know what I am talking about:

ETA: And so my dear beta feels vindicated, the highest score was 108/150, and I would be fourth if these had been the only factors at hand – which they were not, obviously XD

“Serial Killer” Ngram Search

I was doublechecking some information offered by the book I am reading (Malicious Intent: A Writer’s Guide to How Murderers, Robbers, Rapists and Other Criminals Think), and went to play in Google Ngrams. The results were interesting. The little bump in “serial killer” just before 1900 might be related to 1888, when Jack the Ripper was roaming the streets of London, and the first big peak of “mass murder” seems to be around the World War II and its aftermath. 1980 brought the boom of the serial killer book, both in fiction and true-crime literature.


(Click for bigger and details)
Source: Google Ngram Viewer [link]


(Click for bigger and details)
Source: Google Ngram Viewer [link]

I hope to add up to that not-so-little fiction pile sometime ^^

Procrastination post a.k.a. My Characters Hijacked My Food

[Note: This was written last night but only posted now due to lack of internet at the new flat]

Okay, so I am procrastinating from NaNo, but I can afford it, I’m about to hit 12k. Today I had to take half a day off for immigration paperwork, after having moved countries and all. I had to go to the main town around here, which is rather bigger and more international that the little village in the middle of nowhere in which I currently live.

Back on track, I had to do my immigration interview to prove that I am me – well, my non-writer persona anyway, and I decided to have some Japanese food afterwards, because I’m worth it, and there is this cool geeky Japanese bar I like, because it’s cheap and because the food is reasonably good and because they got katsukare and I wanted katsukare.

After having a look at the menu, because the waiter was a bit busy and I was not going to continue typing on the phone as I had on the train, I ordered miso soup (Sorry for the low-quality pictures, taken with my cell in bad light):

Gyôza:

And yakitori:

Neither of which, as you’ll notice, is katsukaere

Only when I backtracked for a second, I realized that one of my characters had hijacked my food. Okonogi Hisaki, a.k.a. Senior, a.k.a. Okonogi Kazuki’s father. Here I leave you two excerpts of The Shikigami of Night and of The Shikigami of Power so you understand what I mean (both are draft-stage, but still readable, I hope).

*shakes head* Okonogis. They are everywhere. Now back to writing… another Okonogi XD

The Shikigami of Chance Excerpt

Chance sneaked up on me. One second I think Life is over and the next I am being bombarded by second- and tertiary plots and baam I got Chance and Power and Night. For a long time I’ve wanted to write about twins, and pairs of twins have always pranced around the inner drawers of the part of my brain where plots live.

Seishirou and Shojirou completely hijacked a pair of twins I had in mind a while back. However, they were on the other side of the law. Then again, I really did not think that a twin brothers would be allowed to work in the same law enforcement team. Originally they were Germans of all things XD so I am not completely sure of how the change happened.

Why a Casino? Why not? XD It is after all a good way to move humongous amounts of money in milliseconds, and the twins would actually be in contact with all those dollars. Looking back, and with the current economic situation, it would probably have made more sense to make it a Casino in Bali but… oh well, call it artistic license?

Title: The Shikigami of Chance, Osaka Guardians, Book 2

Synopsis: What is luck? It is not only chance, it is also creating the opportunity, recognizing it when it is there, and taking it when it comes (Natasha Josefowitz). It was luck that made Nagai Seishirou and Nagai Shojirou be born identical twins. It was chance that made them become members of the Osaka Shikigami yakuza clan. Now they have the opportunity to prove themselves, in Las Vegas, half a world away from the place they call home.

Written: NaNoWriMo 2010

Draft 0 Length: 71141 words

Available: Prologue and Chapter 1

The Shikigami of Life Excerpt

Shikigami (式神) are a kind of spirit, found in Japanese Mythology summoned to serve a practitioner of onmyōdō, much like a western familiar. Shikigami cannot be seen by most people, but according to the Heian period onmyōji who were said to control them, shikigami often looked something like a child-sized oni demon. Although invisible, shikigami supposedly could, at the onmyōji’s command, take a variety of human or animal forms, possess or bewitch people, and even cause bodily harm or death. (from Wikipedia [link]).

I am not completely sure where the whole idea for Life came from. I think the yakuza idea was hanging out in my brain since I read 絆 KIZUNA~恋のから騒ぎ~ (Kizuna: Koi no Kara Sawagi / Kizuna: Bonds of Love [link]). Even if they’re not the main focus, the relationship between Masa and Kai is… interesting XD. I do know that the main spark came from a fanfic I wrote, my brain wrapping itself around the backstory of the unimportant supporting characters, which were only there to… make that one fic rounder. And then the ball started rolling. Life was the longest story I wrote in one go, ever XD At that time it was not even supposed to be a series either… Oh, and about why “Shikigami” of all things… I can’t tell for the life of me… and I cannot even blame it on an Okonogi, since none of them were planned at this stage!

Title: The Shikigami of Life, Osaka Guardians, Book 1

Synopsis: Any fool can tell the truth, but it requires a man of some sense to know how to lie well (Samuel Butler). Ohmura Naoe is a man of sense, a yakuza in a yakuza building. He lives the biggest of all lies: Raised and trained by the Osaka Shikigami, he was sent to Tokyo to undermine the Sun Alliance’s foundations, and not even death is going to stop him.

Written: NaNoWriMo 2009

Draft 0 Length: 63507 words

Available: Prologue and Chapter 1

Retriever Excerpt

Synopsis: Gabriel Clark resigned from his post as a CIA agent in 2001. He changed his name and became a lecturer on Asian Studies at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Ten years later, his past and an old enemy caught up with him, and now he has 6 weeks to save his own life. Unfortunately, someone else is trapped in this race: Akira Kellers is a computer tech who only wanted a peaceful vacation in Honolulu and ended up in the wrong place at the wrong moment, sharing a beer with the wrong person, and does not really want to die either…

Version: 2011 September 21st (second edit)