Writing Echoes

Delijah's Writing Blog

Tag Archives: Kuraokami

111,111 Words

I hit a fun number (which is mostly approximate anyway) of words written this year and I thought I’d do a small update of what I have been up to lately. I built a little graphic (click the image for bigger), but part of it is retroactive, and thus the dates vs. words per day might be a bit whoozy before February 15th, as I grabbed the creation date of the file, the final wordcount and divided accordingly. It still can give a general idea of what I’ve been doing.

I’ve talked about Kuraokami already so I won’t go into that. Tokyo Shadows and Shorai are unfinished and will be revisited in another post. Also, the red bars reading “blog” are pretty self-explanatory, I’d say.

The Yuki Onna’s Prey is a short-story follow-up to Hyakki Yagyō set ten years after the original story. While I was writing it, I had a list of yōkai I wanted to use, but I never got an idea to bring the Yuki Onna up, until this. It’s a fun short story.

Some of the short stories can be found around the blog, you can visit the “Read” page for them. This year, I have written eight short stories / flash fiction under 5000 words. It seems that I have been focusing more on medium-length plots.

Blood Moon is a yakuza story (big surprise, I know) short of 30,000 words and that I believe it should be cut at least in 10,000. The real plot length is around 18,000, but was done sort of free-writing and has lots of repetition and awful narrative. However, I believe it can become something good with the appropriate tailoring.

The Gadir Gates, which I aim to finish soon, is about 22,500 and I don’t think it will surpass 25,000-26,000 words. I started this story to write out some frustration about science [geekery]. I think the teaching side became a bit too overboard so I will have to revise that before it is readable too. After I am done, however, I plan to go back to Tokyo Shadows, fix the structure and write the two-and-a-half chapters that I need to wrap it up.

I plan to tackle The Shikigami of Blood this Novembers, let’s see how that works as it still needs a lot of work. I would also try to get somewhere with Shorai, which I’ve started about five times by now XD

ETA: Never mind. My spreadsheet was wrong XD I forgot to add up The Yuki Onna’s Prey to the final count, so the actual number is closer to 117680, and if you count the blog entries (which I don’t, I just graph them XD), the number is 122999. Unless I forgot something else…

Kuraokami Writing Report

I finished Kuraokami today, with a total of 38950 words. It’s been 41 days since I started, so that averages 951 words a day, although the range goes from 200 to 2000. Yeah, talk about statistics XD

For the first couple of chapters Kuraokami sets in a Japanese medieval world, semi-historical but rather time-and-place-indeterminate (yes, I’m cool like that). The amount of fantasy grows rather drastically as the story advances though, I guess. Just imagine living in a normal place and suddenly finding yourself in the middle of an enchanted forest. More or less like that I guess, as it is more or less what happens to Hachirou and Souji, the main characters.

Aside from the actual Kuraokami, the mystical dragon of rain and snow, and the otoroshi [link], there is an onibaba around. Onibaba (鬼婆) is a kind of Oni or demon that has the appearance of an old woman but is a yōkai that feasts on humans. Legend says that she was a nanny who was commissioned to find the liver of a living fetus to feed to her charge, who was ill. The woman eventually went mad and became a demon.

The name “Kuraokami” combines kura 闇 “dark; darkness; closed” and okami 龗 “dragon tutelary of water”. The form of 龗 has been borrowed from the Chinese rei, and is written as a combination of the “rain” radical 雨, 3 口 “mouths”, and a phonetic of long 龍 “dragon”.

In Japanese, the word for wolf is ōkami, 狼, which if written 大神 means “great god” or “great spirit”. Wolves are now extinct in Japan, but they were considered magical creatures, and lo and behold, you can read an okami in “Kuraokami”. So much pun I can’t help myself, but yes, there are wolves too. You could say that they are the dragon’s servants. If you ask me, they are the only ones with some common sense in the whole story.

The plot threw a couple of curve balls at me, and the final result was not exactly as expected. I don’t know, I’m not completely satisfied with it, and at the same time I am. It came out very different of the first idea that I had in mind, but I also think is not a bad idea. Then again, I think I’d kill the author if I ran into that ending – I was mean, I can’t deny it XD

Well, that was Kuraokami for now ^^


References: The ever-faithful Wikipeda [link] [link]
I found some nice info on Kuraokami no kami in a Shinto Encyclopaedia, but they did not allow reusing their information, so I did not post anything from there.

Otoroshi

Otoroshi (おとろし) are also called Odoro-odoro (おどろ〱) or Ke-ippai (毛一杯). Otoroshi vaguely means ‘frightening’ or ‘creepy’. They are described as hairy creature that perches on the torii that lead to shrines and temples. They pounce on the evil or impious humans when they walk underneath to scare them away or eat them, depending on the story. Not much is known about it except for the hairiness. Sometimes it is shown with a bird in its paw.

References: [link] [link] [link]

Slowly building up

I keep a calendar where I mark down with a green dot if I’ve written or no, as part of my ‘do something related to writing everyday’ project. Back in January I decided that I would not be keeping a spreadsheet about writing progress, as I though it would distract me from my actual goal – writing. For some reason I decided to build one the other day. Honestly the daily figures are off, and a couple of hundred words might have been written on December 31st. What surprised me is that not even counting the blog, I’ll be hitting 45,000 words in 2013 tomorrow. I feel I’m slowly getting back in the habit and writing becomes flowy again, even if of course mood influences everything.

Kuraokami is panning out rather different from the original sketch, which was written… 2007 or 2008 I think. A couple of driving scenes might be recycled – even if rewritten – but that story is a complete different one.

On another set of news, I had an ‘issue’ with the server I used to keep my images at, so I spent a whole weekend downloading them, reuploading them here and relinking all of them. It helped fix a couple of problems with some posts too. Unfortunately, the amount of spam one gets in WP seems to be related with the “weight” of the blog, so my spam-rate has increased. That made me make a few changes in comment policy, and I locked old posts. I also disabled commenting on pages and it seems to have been working (fingers crossed). Since I was at it I hid the wordpress likes, as I was getting more than a few likes from commercial blogs that seemed to be looking for visibility.

Also, randomly, I like writing while riding public transport. Not sure why.

Speculative fiction

I’ve decided. My no-so-little-anymore (at over 15,500 words) samurai story is not historical but a fantasy. It also has a title: Kuraokami. Kuraokami (闇龗) is a legendary Japanese dragon and Shinto deity of rain and snow (oh, I need to tell you one of these days about the Shinto book I got myself).

I’ve noticed that in the last eight months or so I’ve been turning a bit towards speculative fiction. I’ve written a short fantasy (Wren), a full-blown Japanese Urban Fantasy (Hyakki Yagyō) and a sci-fi (Erika). I’m even sure that if I try hard enough T could count as fantasy. Now Kuraokami adds to the list.

Until I tackled Wren back in July, I had not written fantasy for years, but I’ve enjoyed it for long. The DragonLance Originals (Chronicles and Legends) were one hell of a drug, devoured more than read during my teenage summers. A bunch of them I used to have in both Spanish and English, though I eventually donated the Spanish ones to a local library. As you can see in the picture, I can almost claim to have a vintage edition, back from when TSR still existed.

Most of my early years’ writing material is – some thankfully, some regretfully – lost due to a misplaced box during a moving across the country, but I used to write much more fantasy than I write now. I guess it is a bit of a cycle for me, coming back to it. I’m cool with it, if my story needs the extra fantasy touch, then it shall have it.

The character who is in fact responsible for everything that happens in Kuraokami is Hisoka, a daimyo’s (Japanese lord) second son. Hisoka is married to the daughter of his father’s general, and is basically… a whuss. He is in love with Hachirou, one of the castle samurai, but he won’t make a move on him at all. As a matter of fact, he completely refuses to let Hachirou even touch him.

Hachirou’s only real friend is Souji, a healer, without any magic power who just trusts his books and his herbs. After becoming the castle “doctor”, Souji ends up exposed to some of the fortress’ darkest secrets, including that the daimyo is sleeping with one of his daughters, Jun, who has a secret herself. Soon, Hachirou starts having dreams about a mysterious woman who talks to him in a cloud of cold and snow.

Hachirou needs to choose now between the path he has sworn to follow, and staying with the man he loves, or leaving behind everything he has born to in order to protect an innocent life and his own soul.

… or something. I mean, I’m still working on it, and boy it needs work. But hey, I am writing it and I’m feeling good about it, and only for that, Kuraokami is worth it ^^

“From Historical to Fictional”

The title is borrowed from the all-awesome Errol Elmuir, as sung in this parody-song:




For a couple of weeks now I’ve been working on something that has been gathering dust in one of my notebooks for a while. The problem with it, as mentioned in this post, is that the basis of it is flawed – it actually involves a samurai power struggle and actually one of them willing to go against his lord. Which… yeah, presents a problem.

I wanted to try something different this time, so I picked up a bunch of samurai books and movies I had on the to-read and to-watch pile and used them as inspiration. I’ve started reading The Courtesan and the Samurai and I got The dusk of of the samurai for after that, and I’ve been doing movie sessions with Hara-kiri, death of a samurai, Gohatto and Ran,as well as a couple of Japanese dramas like Byakkotai. But you see, among the stuff Im watching, I’ve found Dororo and Satomi Hakkenden, which also deal with fantasy elements.

Thus, I am toying with the idea that since my story has a base problem anyway, it might be improved with sprinkling it with some fantasy elements anyway. What I wonder is if chapter 4 is not too late to introduce fantasy elements after presenting something sort of historical until then.

For now, the story is following the original outline, but I am going to reduce the original main cast from four to three. The fourth character, whose plan sounded endearing, is just a coward in the end, and I have decided he does not deserve the attention. That leaves me with a soon-to-go-rogue samurai who has an unlikely friendship with a healer, and a pleasure girl who won’t speak and holds a secret, whom the healer loves to hate. And it should be winter, but it’s summer, so in the end it’s the same thing but completely different, or so it would seem XD


On another topic, WP tells me it’s Writingechoes’ second birthday. Since it took so much effort to send me a message about it I thought I would mention it XD

Whoops

I have a pretty bad cold, as a matter of fact is a head cold. Unfortunately it has me pretty much out of it, making me thick-headed and clumsier than usual.

Yesterday, while backupping my current writing file, I screwed up and replaced the new file with the old one, losing a whopping 3000 words in the process. Fortunately, after some geeky magic I was able to recover a file from yesterday mid-section and the amount of lost words is less than 350 words.

That was a big whoops XD

Today I am feeling a little less sick, so hopefully I don’t screw up again.

I’ve been thinking lately that it seems that my creativity has diminished, which makes me upset, I guess. It is not only that I don’t feel like writing anymore, is that stuff which would usually send my brain on overdrive has been lacking – some would say that muses are on vacation or unpaid leave.

Also, for the first time I am writing something blotched from the beginning. I know it is flawed. It is not that I am not doing my research, is that I am consciously going a route that does not really work, but at least I am writing something, even if I screw backupping it up…

( ×m×)オエェ…ハキソウ