Writing Echoes

Delijah's Writing Blog

Tag Archives: musings

Watch me having an ‘aha’ moment

For a long time I have struggled with a story and a set of characters which eventually took the name of Shourai (meaning `Prospect’ or ‘Future’). For many who know me, ‘the bunny’ has been a recurring character in conversation and writing.

bunny‘The bunny’ is Iwase Tadashi, a 19 year old Japanese boy who moves into the big city to attend university. Originally he was a side character from my harder fanfiction times, but for some reason I developed a huge soft spot for him, and he started taking a central part in the stories I was writing. Eventually – as I was drifting away from that fandom in particular – I decided that I liked him too much to let go.

Thus I tried to rewrite him and his verse. Four times. I may have discarded around 100,000 words on failed attempts to rebuild that universe from scratch. People changed names, degree of importance, appearances, and sometimes sexual orientation (hello Haru, I mean Heizo…)

I think the problem I have writing Shourai is that everything is clear in my head, but at the same time, it is fuzzy. I know what happened in that verse, but it is vague. I know certain things which are very clear in my mind, but those are scenes, lost in their daily lives all through three years. That is what makes hard actually writing the story out.

This year, I had half a mind on working on Shourai for NaNoWriMo 2014, but in the end I went with Hoursitsu because a) it feels like NaNo is kinda yakuza territory b) I felt that I would be getting very stuck in Shourai and thus it would not be a good NaNoproject and a) I would have to ‘rebel up’ and work on an already-finished story.

Then I went and did something crazy, and finished Houritsu in a weekend. Yeah. Talk about sanity being gone. I was poked about continuing writing but what to do? There was still Sourai there, waiting, and a bit on the stuck area halfway through Tadashi’s first university year…

I had another crazy idea – start a new ‘school year’ with another ‘book’, and make Shourai semi-officially a universe. Thus, the first year would be ‘Build up’, stuck as it was, and I would start with the second year, ‘Crisis’.

shouraikanji During the first year, Tadashi gets to know Tokyo and those around him. His relationships develop in the friendship and love territories, and we get to know most of the characters that will be important later on. I was stuck at the end of summer, and I still needed to get to March… So I let that one stuck and moved on the first actual conflict that I had in mind – Tadashi’s first lover’s fight with his boyfriend Asou Shota. A number of misunderstandings lead up to a huge crisis and the two young men have to deal with it.

Yesterday I reached the conclusion of that crisis, and that felt… like an ending. That was the problem I had in the first part, which caused me to be stuck…

So I took a page out the philosopher Didactylos’ book and used his alternative hypothesis: ‘what the hell?’. It is an ending. The conflict in the book was presented, developed, and resolved. So it is a story in its own, inside a bigger scheme. Actually, both of them are. Thus I made a new re-structuring. Not three books, but six. I have the first one – the build-up – and the third one – the first crisis. Two completed stories. I need to fill up the second one, and I already have a few ideas about what has to be placed in the fourth one, and suddenly it all makes sense.

Yes, there has been a lot of work in this universe that has been discarded but finally I feel that I am getting somewhere.


Endings and Disappointments

Some weeks ago, there was a big episode in Game of Thrones that had fans freaking out and George R.R. Martin having a blast regarding them. I own up not to have read the books as I was too hooked on Dragonlance when they came out, and later on too disappointed on Dragonlance – Fifth Era to want to go into more fantasy sagas. I am a bit of an unfaithful fan, if someone drags too long I tend to end up edging away from it.

Anyway, the guy made a few points here:

While I can somehow relate to the fans, a couple of those epic and not-so-epic deaths in, once again, Dragonlance lead me to believe that no, you can’t manage to write fantasy without a good death or two. However you need the epicness factor. Fantasy, after all, many times orbits around war and casualties happen in war. The point is that the reader gets to feel something relating to the death of that character, which sometimes becomes hate for the writer. Not only that “sick bastard” on the video really sounded heart-felt, I recall Margaret Weiss mentioning getting hatemail for Xxxxx’s glorious death in battle (sorry, no spoilers policy). It is good that characters manage to inspire deep feelings, and even better that the story itself is captivating enough to create those reactions.

Tom Clancy said that “the difference between fiction and reality? Fiction has to make sense”. Not only that, it needs to connect with the receptor somehow, to arise feelings. Else, what’s the point?

However, what about a feeling of disappointment? Agatha Christie would not stop writing Poirot, no matter how much she hated him, in fear of disappointing her fans (and losing their money, one guesses). Conan Doyle brought Sherlock back from the death too, upon he alleged hatemail (so it is said). No, Ian Malcon’s return from the death for Jurassic Park does not have anything to do with disappointment, more with $$ and movie royalties.

Life is tough and disappointing, but can we deal with fiction being so? Sometimes we see it in shows, especially police ones, that the character suffers a disappointment – they like the murderer, or they can’t save the victim, and the episode leaves you with a bitter taste, but that is usually gone the next week with the new episode, because there is not an ending there, there is continuity.

I am always in fear of writing anticlimatic endings, as I always feel they are disappointing, too much like real life. I desperately try to avoid what would make my reader self disappointed, which sometimes… yeah, makes wrapping up a story hard. Also, in the back of my mind, I seem to think that a disappointing ending is the excuse for a follow-up XD

This is something I am considering at the moment, the whole storyline in a few words, so I’m giving away the ending:

Nantoka-sensei (Mr. Whatever) is a fairly young and enthusiastic teacher in a private school in Tokyo. He gets involved in a sex-scandal and accused of rape. Although his is innocent, he loses his job and reputation, so he can’t work in education any more. He takes a temporary job as a host in a disreputable bar, and eventually he is cleared out. However, due to the seediness of his last job and the acquaintances he has made, nobody will take him back in education. Eventually he lands as a tour guide, which allows him to pay his bills, but he is not happy at it, and no major incident in his life makes him achieve realisation, just… day-to-day going on.

For me, the unwrapped, anticlimatic ending, is what makes Nantoka-sensei a good supporting character, but not a main character. If I were to read his story, I would be terribly disappointed, because for me, the story needs a wrap-up.

Blog posts do too, apparently, because I always feel the need to end up with a point or something.