Writing Echoes

Delijah's Writing Blog

Tag Archives: Shourai

Milestone

Although this is a little bit of cheating, yesterday I wrote ~end~ on the last page of Shourai. Why is this cheating? Because about three chapters around the middle are unwritten and as many need to be completed. And I’m also ignoring the fact that there is a chapter that is three times longer than it should be, and another about twice.

But I wrote ~end~ and it felt good because in a way it brings the story I wanted to tell to a closure. To bulk figure, we are talking about… ah, scratch about, I’ll copy paste the figure from the tracking spreadsheet (have I ever mentioned about my OCD? No? Ooookay.)

At the moment, counting “end”, there are 319,938 words on version 6. That does not count the original development nor the five previous versions that have been scratched and rewritten. Part of the problem, I’ve always thought, was that it was not clear to me where to end the story, so it kept stretching and twisting to infinity and back. But while it is not done yet, it is finished. It has found the moment that I can stop, and that is a relief. To be honest, it’s a strange feeling.

It is finished, but not done. I know I’ve written it before, but it feels the right way to put it: I know that it will not scratch into infinity anymore, there is an ending now. I know where the story goes and now I only have to smooth the path to get there. It has become significantly easier to write some points of view, but at the same time, it’s more difficult to write in so many different points at the same time, without killing consistency. I think I have the same “revelation” in three different chapters now, but that is part of editing. I’ve built a story and that is good. It feels good.

On the other hand, it’s hard, as I have mentioned, to keep up. It is a very long and complicated story, so there are many angles to take into account, especially when moving around different time spots. The characters evolve and change throughout the story (yay) so they don’t react in the same way to the same stimuli and situations. This is specially true about Shota, whose personality shifts most dramatically.

That’s it. I wrote “end” and it feels good, but at the same time, I kinda feel “urgh, so much work left”.

My board and a (quite late) mid-year update

There are a bunch of things on the board in front of my writing station, behind my computer screen. Some postcards, seals, visiting cards and the so-called Japan kit, which includes member and discount cards for several places in Tokyo, along with my passport and the commuter’s pass. There is my organ donor card, and the postcard I wrote to myself from Tokyo Tower.

There are also some notes to myself, my screen resolution for making walpapers, a fosilissed shark tooth, and a silly pictures with friends at a concert line. And things related to writing.

There is a rusty Welsh pound that I found on a dry streambed in Tokyo, and I’m waiting for it to tell me its story (not its history, which was probably a random British person throwing a coin into a body of water for luck, which they do sometimes). But there is a story there, and sometimes I look at the coin and wonder. It will come.

There is a Tengu ex machina note, just because. The term ocurred to me while working through The Last Yōkai War of Edo. It’s like the Deus ex machina, but… with tengu. I went back and corrected the whole thing, but I left the note, as a reminder.

There is also a reference to Setsubun, a Japanese festival for luck. It conjures luck and chases the oni away. But I don’t mind the oni. As a matter of fact, I like writing yōkai, so my note reads は外!も内、 福は内! Oni wa soto mo uchi! Fuku wa uchi! It means, let the oni in too, not only the good luck.

Finally there is a small note, right in my line of sight, that reminds me that in 2016 I have to focus on writing Shourai, the Hyakki Yagyō verse and the Shikigami verse. There is a tick mark next to the Hyakki Yagyō line. That is because I have worked a lot on that this year. The original idea was only writing these three verses, along with the blog articles and finishing Atlantis in January for the climate fiction contest (Atlantis did not get anywhere in there though, unfortunately). The note has little laughing signs around as I deviated from this plan…

A little over a fourth of what I’ve written this year till now has been Hyakki Yagyō. Not only the main work I had to do, also a few short stories that will need some revision to fit in to the main timeline. That makes about 66,700 words on this verse.

Shourai has taken almost 33,000 words, which does not feel that much, but it almost 13% of the written material this year and 10.5% of the written total. I’m nearly done with the arc, I’ve decided. I’ve chosen an ending point, and now I have to backtrack and fill in the gaps (and actually write the last chapter), break down chapters and so on. there is a lot of green in the planning now. But editing this is going to require a lot of effort. I’m kind of toying with the idea of finishing all the writing before the year is over… but we’ll get to how I can’t keep to decisions later…

There are around 24,000 new words on the final Shikigami book. All the main points are planned and addressed, but the small, driving story is what I’m lacking. Although the character is important and I like him bunches, it is difficult to factor his POV in to have him drive the story. I need around 25,000 words more on this book, and again, it’s difficult to juggle how, even if I do want this finished this year.

So this is what I was supposed to write this year, fiction wise. Blogging and articles are factored in, as I need to improve non-fiction writing skills. All in all, there is 61% of planned writing actually being done. The problem thus lies on the 39% that I was not supposed to have been writing, mainly Body and Soul, weird urban fantasy, The Studio, which tried to be a gothic ghost story, and One shot kill, a retake on the story my writer from Untitled was working on. These and a couple of short stories almost account for 100,000 words! And there is still NaNoWriMo to come, which probably will be something completely random decided on a whim in October anyway… At the moment I’m pushing to lock down One shot kill after it got slumped for two months and hope to be done within the month.

That’s it, I’m officially declaring 2017 an editing and rewriting year. I should have done it this year, but then on a whim I decided to go for 366,000 words in total I’m on track for that goal, too – generally with new material, except for the revision of The Last Yōkai War of Edo, which was quite a rewrite of most of it anyway.

Have some pretty graphs to look at:

aug162016_stats

aug162016_stats (1)

P.S.: I’ve taken down the Archives page, because I was not keeping up with it anyway. You may now search using tags and / or categories and I’ll make sure to keep a good tag system current.

Shourai Writing during NaNo [December 1, 2015]

NaNo-2015-Winner-Badge-Large-Square This that time of the year when I usually decide that this was my last NaNoWriMo because I’m usually in the creative slump after the month. This year however has been a bit different from usual.

For starters, I did not create a project from scratch. This gave me a sense of familiarity with the story I don’t usually carry – let’s ignore how last year I worked on Shourai after finishing Houritsu, too. That was not planned, not originally, so it was hard. This time I really wanted to give Shourai a push, because it has been stuck forever and a day. I am not completely sure that worked, judge yourself. The left side of the picture shows the original timeline, with what was planned for NaNo marked in bright blue, and what was actually done for NaNo in dark green to the sides of the column. Generally, red means not written, yellow means “written fragment, unconnected”, orange has to be redone, and light green means done. Purple is “whoooops I forgot that this should have happened, do I insert here or do I flashback to it later?”

nano15_shourai_done

As you can see, the right column, which shows what is currently done, shows some more light green. Still not enough, I’d say, and some more has to be added to the timeline in order to reach the ending. Because for the first time I have an ending in sight.
Let’s talk Shourai numbers:

  • Written this NaNo: 150,009 words
    • Average NaNo Daily wordcount: 5167 words
    • Best NaNo Day: November 1st (Sunday): 33,001 words
    • Worst NaNo Day: November 25 (Wednesday): 2,284 words
  • Written this year: 170,209 words
  • Current total: 278,171 words
  • Number of chapters: 84

This year I took upon myself the challenge of documenting the writing process, so I ended up with tables and writing time graphs:

nano15_1201_calendars_table

nano15_1201_calendars_graph

I should do some numbers (or ask someone to do numbers for me xD), because maybe they tell me interesting stuff. Who knows. For now let me show you graphs:

Here’s what I did compared to the NaNo daily count:

nano15_1201_daily_comparison_theoretical

And here is what I did this year compared to the previous years. Notice how last year’s count was ridiculously straight XD The graph shows the cumulated daily wordcount for each day, every year in a different colour.

nano15_1201_comparison_peryear

But I have more graphs! Here you can compare how much I wrote each day for every NaNo I have attempted, including zeroes because I am honest:
nano15_1201_comparison_daily

Something I’ve noticed was that apparently I… fluctuate during NaNo, daily wordcount wise. The following graph shows the daily wordcount, stacked yearly, one on top of the other (so total wordcount for November 1st, 2nd, etc…). As this is my seventh NaNo, there should not be a deviation regarding the day of the week, and yet, the results are confusing. I’m open to theories, what do you think? What bites me on day 20?

nano15_1201_comparisons_daily_cumulative

What have I learnt this NaNo? That if I want to aim for high wordcounts, I need to stories to work on. Or at least different points of the story to work on? Switching back and forth in Shourai, as well as adding the flashbacks has worked, but at some points I have lost drive, which was not the best way to work around.

The Timeline + Planning scheme, worked really well though. This means I had the timeline as I have shown you, and a notebook with a description of everything that had to happen, which basically translates into bad grammar, arrows instead of verbs, bizarre and obscure colour-coding, asterisks and other strange symbols. I think I’ll adopt it when I tackle working on the Shikigami verse again, which I hope is summer 2016.

Thus, 2015 was a good, productive NaNo. I gave Shourai a good push and even though I felt like stopping a couple of times, I managed to go through. I considered a new story when I was on day 15th, but I know that I need to push towards finishing the three big verses I have open – never mind that I am starting a short story today. That is a short story. Under 5000 words, because the rules say so 😉

Also, I need coffee, apparently. So please excuse any grammar horrors you might encounter in this post.

Shourai Writing during NaNo [November 22, 2015]

This is how things look at the moment. I’ve had to limit my writing sessions to three per day, separated in time by a couple of hours at least because I screwed my wrist the other day in an unrelated deed. I would like to get to the tie in before NaNo ends but I am getting a bit sidetracked – maybe demotivated? Or maybe distracted by wanting to work on other stuff?

This is how things look at the moment, with a little over 130,500 words, which is already more than the roughly 122,000 on the original story. And thus, Shourai is 252,700 words. I’ll leave the report here for now as I want to save wrist power.

nano15_1122_graph

nano15_1122_plan

Shourai Writing during NaNo [November 15, 2015]

Even if yesterday’s news were unsettling and I probably refreshed the BBC livefeed more than is healthy, I decided to write (and to delete the whole philosophical explanation on why I wrote). Thus I hit and passed 100,000 words during this NaNo, which takes the whole Shourai count to 223,690. On top of that, I have now a new colour for one-liners, which represent things that popped up as I was writing, tying the story together.

I’m surprised about how well Hayato’s point of view is coming together, as he did not have a POV before, and for a long time he was barely a supporting character. He has quite definitely raised up the pyramid of importance. That’s good. On the other hand Ryu remains emotionally important but his subplot is hard to write.

I finally got Sawamura in! And damn I fear this is going to be the beginning of another macro-crossover. Bugger. Anyway. Here you have the most recent graphs:

shourai_chara_triangle_prov

nano15_1411_plan

nano15_1411_graph

Shourai Writing during NaNo [November 7, 2015]

I have been asked how fast I type. My typing speed in English averages to 64 wpm, and during NaNo on a good spurt I can write 3000 words per hour, though I usually do about 1000 in 25 minutes and take five. that of course only works when I know what I am going to write. I don’t know whether it would be faster if I were to be listening to what to write. I may have to do the experiment some day.

Also, you can see that I don’t have a standard way of typing. This is because even if I did learn the “proper” way to do it, when I was young my hands were way too small do use it, and I got used to type like this.

I shabby-recorded this video with my phone. It was taken yesterday the scene was a phone conversation between Shota and Heizo during the summer of second year, and the subsequent meeting afterwards. It was only roughly planned – then again, Heizo is half nuts so he improvises a lot and says weird things.

While you don’t hear it there is music playing in the background. In this case X Japan’s Born to be Free and GACKT’s Graffiti. Music is there to make me have something different to focus on when my neighbours start screaming at each other or car alarms go out in the middle of the night, but not loud enough so I can sing along. Although I have to admit that yesterday I might have been abusing Golden Bomber’s 女々しくて a tiiiiny little bit. But it kind of fit. In a weird way. Ah, hell, it’s NaNo, it happens….

And here is how things are going at the moment:

nano15_71115_plan

nano15_71115_graph

NaNoFinish 2015

I finished NaNoWrimo 2015 this morning. That’s it, I reached 50000 words, after a very frustrating hours of blackouts and outages because my neighbours suck. This year I had decided to push Shourai through, after changing my mind from what I told you here. Once again I have decided to work on it as a whole item, and as an open project is not “nanorebeling” any more, well, I tried to push it forward in the part that I’ve given the working title of “Phoenix”.

In preparation, I summarised and organised everything I had written – in a bunch of different files – and made a rough timeline, with “one-liners”, very short descriptions of what had happened in every scene / chapter, and colour-coded them. I chose a part to develop linearly within NaNo and ended up with about 9 pages of handwritten notes on an A5 notebook, developing those one-liners…

I’ve done two pages of that, and to make it even worse, out of order, because when I was planning I really felt like I wanted to write one of the scenes towards the end. Thus I decided that I would push that one, and then go to the beginning and develop from one point to the other. Let me show you how well that worked:

shourai_oneliners2
Codes:

  • Yellow – pasted in the file, unconnected, needs to be tied in.
  • Light green – written in main file, and working
  • Red – to be written
  • Orange – to be rewritten / paid attention to
  • Purple – to be considered?
  • Bright blue (left) – planned for Nano’15
  • Dark green (right) – written Nano’15

 

 

 
Fine, the last ‘light green’ is about 45,000 all on its own but… seriously? That blind-sided even me, I’d really hoped to have at least dented the planning before reaching 50000 this November. All in all, Shourai has around 172000 words.

Regarding the writing progress: I had wanted to reach 40000 on the first as it was a Sunday and a free day. Saturday sucked though, with a car accident included and that kind of hampered my concentration – I guess I’ll have to try again some other time. This year around I’ve been documenting the writing progress per half-hour (aprox.)

nano_15_win_graph

Finally, here’s a screenshot of the ‘finishing line’, typos and all. For kicks and giggles, let me tell you that ‘in’ is not the 50000th word any more as I added more stuff:

nano_15_win_file

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.

NaNoWriMo 2014: Final Report

nano14_winner

As NaNoWriMo 2014 approaches its end (or in the first hour of December, does not really matter), I want to review the challenges I set for myself this year:

  • Challenge 1: 50,000 the first weekend.
  • Challenge 2: managing to reach another 50,000 words in the rest of the month, mankind it a total of 100,000.
  • Challenge 3: write the minimum quota of 1667 words every day and not stop half away.
  • Challenge 4: beat 2011 NaNo count.

Score:

  • Challenge 1: achieved.
  • Challenge 2: achieved.
  • Challenge 3: achieved.
  • Challenge 4: not achieved.

I could have made a sprint, I think, to unlock challenge 4, but I decided that it was not really worth it. With a lot going on in my life right now this last weekend I decided to just take it easy and write a bit in order to try and reduce the amount of stress I’ve been suffering. I just decided that adding pressure in order to write the 3,000 extra words I would require did not really pay, so I took it easy this weekend.

At first I had just taken doing the whole thing in a weekend as a half joke, but when I was halfway through Saturday, and thought that I could do it, I started pushing towards reaching the goal. Maybe it was worth it, maybe not. I can not be objective about it, because for me it was. The story kept a fast pace and that was something that made me feel great, because I had been angsting about wanting to write something fast-paced. So it worked and that was good. Houritsu does need a lot of work, but the pace holds throughout the story. Maybe it might even need a bit of slowing down, which is even better.

After finishing Houritsu, I decided to work on Shourai, which is one of my eternal projects. It is divided into four parts, so never mind that the first one is not finished, I decided ot write the second one. Leaving the first one unfinished, go me XD

This places Shourai around 100k, and with two halfwritten stories. Now the question is whether I go back to working on Secrets or not. I am considering going on with Shourai until I run out of steam and then head back to finish Secrets. After all I have as much as I did before November – scribbled notes, as I learnt my lesson last year with what happened to Kokeshi (I kinda forgot the idea throughout November)… So I think tomorrow I shall be writing Shourai again. Or maybe not, but I will probably write something.

Anyway, have some graphs of this year’s NaNo! Some of them become bigger if you click on them too XD

After the first crazy couple of days – I can not keep the rhythm up, I decided to stick to the minimum wordcount and add up on weekends so I could reach 100,000 words.

nano14_daily

nano14_dailycumulative

In the end, the final wordcount has been 104,522 words, an average of 3,484 words per day. Of course statistics don’t tell you much reality in this case though, considering that… yeah… almost 50% in two days…

In comparison with other years, yes, I did not reach the maximum I have done before, but it does not really matter. Here are the comparisons with other years:

nano14_comparisonsday

nano14_comparisonscum

You can see how 2014 might be the steadiest line, and how it was not that far away from 2011. Considering how life panned out this November, good enough.

You also may or may not have noticed that I am boycotting the Knight-slaying-the-dragon icon. Stop dragon discrimination now!!

nano14_cert

Universe Weaving

You might have noticed on the last post that there was a blank day in 2013 when I did not write. That day I was in Tokyo, more precisely in Hikawa Jinja, and I decided that I wanted to delve deeper into the Hyakki Yagyō universe. To be honest, I had not really let go of that verse and last year I wrote about 7500 words in related stories. However, what I felt like doing that day was adding to the main book, to the original story. I took notes for two new chapters, and when I came back I filed those notes with all the writing material, and sort of forgot about them.


Hikawa Jinja, Akasaka, Tokyo, with awful lighting, I know.
 

I did not really forget about them, if I am completely honest. I just put them aside because I was somewhat scared of picking up the main book again and finding that I could not add to it. To my surprise, it was not that hard – as a matter of fact it has almost been ridiculously easy. The two chapters have been written, and they have flowed rather well – aside from not feeling like writing sometimes due to personal issues. Both chapters have been written, one set in Hikawa Jinja, as planned, the other one set in Ueno Zoo, also as planned, adding about 11,000 words to a 51,000 word story. Right now, I am considering though writing some more within that verse, another marginally-related story, set a few years after the first (and main) one, but I am scared that it’ll get out of hand XD”

On another note, I have been noticing lately my little obsession for weaving universes into each other. I knew that Lifequake and Axis 95/11 belonged to the same universe, but during a recent edit I found myself linking both to Blood Moon. While it makes sense, well, it is strange that the chance was so open and it was such an easy thing to do. In the same way, I am now absolutely sure that The Barman and Shorai are likewise joined – by the dogs, if you want details. Apparently Tamon will be Tadashi’s obedience instructor when he gets his dog Taki in a few years (yes, Shorai should last a few years. And I’m on its sixth month. Urgh.). Then there is also the Retriever universe, which in my mind still lacks a closing with the secondary characters. And well, of course, the Osaka Guardians series…

While I don’t think this is something ‘new’ for me, it suddenly hit me as I wrote the edit into Axis 95/11 that I really like those little insiders. They are fun. I like weaving.