?

Log in

No account? Create an account
 
 
26 February 2007 @ 09:41 pm
Progress Report  

A new poster at WAS IF is asking about how to deal with a long dry spell and with getting frustrated when your plots don't go anywhere. I can relate. I have outlined, in very broad strokes, a series that at this point comprises 10 novels.

This is scary for a number of reasons.

 First, and most importantly, there is the fact that in the 4 years or so since I decided to get serious about writing this I've managed to write something like 3 completed chapters, each in need of revising, and a detailed outline for half of book one. At this rate I will need to live well past 100 to get what is already planned out done. There are a lot of reasons for this, some better than others, and I'm actively working at reorganizing my life to remove as many of the barriers as I can.

 A very big barrier has been the low grade depression I've suffered since my parents died and my home was destroyed. I was able to keep functioning but not to do a whole lot more than the bare minimum to survive and move on. Living in a new place, without any attached memories is helping but just getting to the point where I committed to buying it was a big step too.
 
I'm starting to have in interest in actively creating again instead of just passively consuming other's work and studying theory. It's only a little spark, but I'm looking for ways to fan it.

 The series features characters that my friends and I created for a long running RPG over a decade ago. I did so much background development for my main player character that I started thinking about telling stories about her. I got permission to use characters created by 3 of my friends and I started designing an original world for these characters. I've actually gotten a lot of the world building done and I've been using it in the RPG I run for a few years now.

 What I've done is take the real world and recreate each area as it might have been if the ancient culture it is best known for hadn't faded. With a few fantasy additions. I haven't decided on a name for the world as a whole. I'm leaning towards finding out what Earth was called in the various ancient languages and having everyone use their own name for it.

 The characters I'm taking from the game are:

 Ranuel (my creation and the source of my on line name. She came first, I used to be The Hobbit back in the eighties in the BBS days but then I was away from on line stuff for a few years and when I came back the name was taken everywhere so in a moment of impatience when my other 2 attempts were also taken at an RPG forum I went with Ranuel.): She is an elven bard from a region of the Iberian peninsula that would be in the North West of Spain today. She is very young, only 120 when we first meet her, which makes her the equivalent of a human 15 year old.

The stock fantasy elf is a serene creature who is in tune with nature and makes profound statements. He or she is usually an expert archer.

Ranuel is a ditz who loves ogling men, shopping, and luxury. Given the choice between going on a dungeon crawl to recover the holy spittoon of McGuffin and having her nails done she'll happily wave goodbye to the other party members before returning her hand to the presoak. She enjoys getting on adult nerves. She is halfway decent with a bow if she has time to aim but she isn't going to be winning any tournaments.

 She also has a deeper side but that doesn't come out for a while. Her good qualities are loyalty to the point of stupidity and an ability to figure out puzzles. She does have pretty good basic survival skills or she wouldn't have lived as long as she did in her home region but she much prefers filet mignon on silver plates to a haunch of venison that she's had to butcher herself.

The name is a tip of the hat to my best friend Katje who gave herself the elvish name Ranueul as a teen and was wearing a shirt with that embroidered in elvish letters the first time I met her.

 Heneter (created by Mary Cajigal): Heneter is human and about 24. She is a warrior priestess in the service of Horus and a very low ranking member of the Egyptian Royal family being the daughter of the Pharaoh by one of his concubines. She was turned over to the temple as soon as she was weaned because of a prophecy that she is unaware of that said that doing so would one day ensure the survival of the family. She is very serious and disciplined.  Despite the fact that Ranuel is over 5 times her age Heneter comes to regard her as something of a pesky little sister and feels responsible for keeping Ranuel out of trouble. Ranuel loves pushing her buttons. She is the main character of the first book.

Her home base is the Temple of Horus in Thebes where she commands the temple guard. She has been sent on missions for the pharaoh in the past and is a skilled negotiator. When we meet her she is being sent to attend the coronation of the new Emperor of the Western Empire (analogous to Spain with some key differences) with an expectation that she find out the juicy details of what happened with the recent palace coup.

 Kamiko (created by Edward MacAllister): A special forces type soldier from an advanced civilization who comes to this world via a dimensional gate in pursuit of agents of the race that her people have been fighting for hundreds of years. Her world is not an alternate Earth but her culture is based on Feudal Japan for reasons that would take a very long post to explain. Gods are involved, let's leave it at that.

She is a mutt but she has a nice dollop of kitsune blood which so far translates into a latent healing ability and a strong sex drive. She is also the product of a military breeding program that tweaked developing fetuses so that the result would be people who are stronger, faster, and more intelligent than the average. They also mature faster so even though her race normally ages at a rate similar to that of an elf she hit full physical maturity at 15. No one is sure how this will affect her life span but so far at 100 she is equivalent to a 18 – 20 year old. She was raised in a military facility where she underwent extensive daily training from the time she was old enough to possess the needed motor skills.

Heneter and Ranuel don't trust her at first but agree to work with her both because they need the knowledge of the enemy she has and because they can keep an eye on her that way. Ranuel and Kamiko don't get along because Kamiko has a low tolerance for idiots.

Korokos (Created by Lynn Brown): Is A.K.A. Sir Not Appearing in This Story due to a series of misunderstandings and weirdness encouraged by a third party that resulted in Lynn no longer being on friendly terms with me. I'd love to keep Korokos but given how her creator seems to feel about me I'm pretty sure the permission I was given to use her has been revoked. The role her character inhabited will be given to a new character that I've got to design and that's currently the creative bone I'm chewing on.

 I'm keeping her relationship with Kamiko and her ultimate betrayal of the group since that is central to the plot of the second book and a little beyond. I'm also keeping the fact that she was in prison when she first appeared and was released into the custody of Henetor. Other than that it's all changing and I have to come up with a believable character with a new name, country of origin, etc. who will fit in the hole left by Korokos and yet be original enough that Lynn doesn't feel ripped off.  So far I've worked out that she is from Carthage, which in my world is the capitol of a matriarchal culture who are based on a blending of the Phoenician and Tuareg peoples. The Tuareg are matrilineal and Carthage was founded by a Phoenician queen so it's not too far a stretch. I haven't worked out just when and how things diverged from the real world for them though. The Taureg are a Berber people. Berbers call themselves the Amazigh. Close enough for them to be my world's Amazons.

 I don't really need to work out the new character yet since she won't be introduced until late in the first book so why am I working on that now? Procrastination has many forms. What I actually need to be working on is to figure out how they get from where they are at the beginning of book 1 to where they are in book 2. I haven't worked out the middle yet. This is because I can't use what happened to the characters when they first met in the game since it wasn't my story and I'm finding it hard to ignore that history and do an AU. 

 Once I overcome that I've got most of the rest pretty well plotted since it all flows from what happens in book 2 which is based on the very first module I ever wrote so the plot is all mine. A few of the walk on characters were lifted from common domain sources but I'm going to be cutting them or reworking them into original characters when the time comes.

I've got a real plot up until the chapter where Henetor and Ranuel meet and then nothing. I start working on it and I get frustrated and then think about stuff later in the series an then I start doing stuff that looks like productive work, like working on the new character, or whether or not this world had an Alexander of Macedonia and if so was he all that great, and get totally side tracked.

Oh, and I've got a sex scene written from somewhere around book 5 or 6.

I'm doomed.

 
 
 
(Anonymous) on February 28th, 2007 12:09 am (UTC)
Doomed? Nah.
You can always bounce ideas off me.

Exactly at what point do you get frustrated. What is happening?

-Spelunker
ranuelranuel on February 28th, 2007 01:26 am (UTC)
Re: Doomed? Nah.
Not sure if I should reply here or at WAS IF. Since you don't have an account here you won't get an email notice of a reply like you would there. Let me know which you prefer.

Just attempting to organize my thoughts to type this out is giving me ideas so maybe posting about the process is productive.

One frustration is that I know the plot that they uncover is big and they will end up traveling around a good bit of the Mediterranean before it's over but I want to keep it more character focused. I don't want some sort of international espionage triller but that's pretty much what it wants to be.

I also have no idea how they will defeat the big bads here. I know how they are ultimately defeated in the sequel but not how they are driven from this planet. Only that our heroes play a key role.

I need a name for the aliens that isn't lame.

I'll try to get together an outline of the plot thus far and post it at WAS IF this week. I'll also be posting some more character stuff here.
(Anonymous) on February 28th, 2007 03:25 pm (UTC)
Re: Your reply
Oh, goody! I'm glad you're finding that posting about the process is productive. That's one of the reasons I keep emphasizing "write it down."

Some suggestions: You can put the travelling in the background and focus on the characters. Picture one of those old 30s movies where characters are "travelling" in a car and what you see is scenery passing in the background while the focus is on the two characters and the dialogue between them. If the story is leaning towards and international espionage thriller, let it go that way. It will make more sense to bring in the-soon-to-be-renamed-Kokoros who is an espionage expert because of that. I'm sure that as our heroines advance around the sea that they will discover more about the big bads, and ways to defeat them can be debated around the campfire or on the trail. You may find your characters providing you with the solution.

A name for the aliens: Leunar. Sorry, I just took one of the oldest tricks - spelling a name backwards. (seriously other people use this; we own a board game where the aliens are named Regnad Kcin - Nick Danger; obviously the builders of this game were fans of Firesign Theater)

I found a great name for a god in the Cthulhu pantheon in a word puzzle - Snugobbotho. Just reverse the letters to see what it was supposed to be. I recommend "Word Find" puzzle books as an excellant source of weird words.

If you want feedback from others as well, post at WAS IF most definitely. Otherwise, here or sending me info via email works too. I have your blog bookmarked so I can check it even without setting up an account.

-Spelunker
ranuelranuel on March 1st, 2007 12:14 am (UTC)
Re: Your reply
Snugobbotho sounds cute. Maybe that's really the Hello Cthulhu's name.

I think I can come up with something random but I get hung up on names and even if I were to decide on something today I might change it several times before I'm done.
(Deleted comment)
ranuelranuel on March 1st, 2007 12:11 am (UTC)
Awww, thanks. You don't even know if it will be readable and I know the huge odds against selling it but when it's done I will let you read it. You'll probably get a chance to see fragments between now and then as I will be posting stuff from time to time.