First Day in the Trenches and My Desk is Covered in Sticky Notes

In case if it wasn’t readily apparent, prequel week turned into “four bits of varying quality” until I won the gold prize for feeling both sick and realizing that, if these pre-story events could be easily summed up in a sentence, trying to stretch them into a three-four page one-off that doesn’t completely suck is an incredible challenge. In fact, I can pretty much tell the stories that were missing Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Hold onto your butts because these were major doozies.

Wednesday: Rilke, with Ava’s support, challenged Uriel for the Emperor job. Rilke won. The denizens of the Court of the Moon barely reacted because they are pretty much a bunch of blank-faced apathetic jerkoffs with unspecified magic and awesome clothes. Seriously, that drabble was all about talking about how awesome the Court of the Moon dresses. I want black dresses with shifting rune symbols on them.

Thursday: Queen Artemis of the Court of Summer and Helena, High Druid of the Triune, bum out on some ramparts at Summerdawn Keep. They’re observing a patch of the Wald shifting about while also talking about Princess Lorraine and Lysander, Helena’s student. The Great Eclipse happens. We know from the letters on previous days that Queen Artemis is going to die during this, so this bit had all the narrative tension of cottage cheese. Next.

Friday: Lysander is running around the Dawn’s Rest while Wald rips it apart because, spoilers, the Great Eclipse made the Wald and Wastes extra pervasive and extra nasty. He finds Princess Lorraine, they spat out a bit, ends on a hang with them trying to evacuate the Dawn’s Rest while also getting their asses kicked. Of course, a previous day revealed that Lorraine survived the Great Eclipse. Not much of a cliffhanger when someone can just scroll back and go “Oh, yeah, she survived because she’s getting letters from Natanael.”

Basically I was unhappy with Monday and Tuesday’s entries, especially compared to Saturday and Sunday, because I was trying to stretch out little sentence summaries into actual stories. If there’s anything the spectators of the Internet can learn from my past week of flailing, it’s that trying to put a lot of extra wheels on a unicycle, especially if you want to keep it a unicycle, doesn’t really work.

On the plus side, Shadows in Summer is turning out to be a delightful romp and I’m sure I won’t keep to that thought past the end of this week. National Novel Writing Month is really just my self-loathing writing process in full-out overdrive where there are days where I can kick out thousands of words and they’re all as awesome as brownie lava cakes, and then there are the days where I stare at the screen while my eyes roll upward and I go, “Holy fuck this is really awful” and I find someplace to curl up and hide from Microsoft Word lest it decide that I really need to pay for the transgression of being awful by making my computer explode.

But I’m finding, in the craziness of these first dozen or so hours, that post-it notes are beautiful and miraculous things. Seriously, due to the amount of beloved relatives who decided to have birthdays on the first day of November, I have spent more time dotting out little snippets of dialogue (either overheard or happening in my own head) and little ideas to be tossed into the storm of nonsense as I work.

So I guess my newfound NaNoWriMo knowledge is to invest in a butt-ton of sticky notes. No joke, there’s a pad by my computer, a pad by my bed, a pad in the car, and a pad in the purse. The desk is all ready more pale-yellow than oak now.

Anyway, best of luck to all the other crazies out there and…I might get back to posting daily, now that I’m feeling less sick and less hatey towards stuff that I don’t have to force myself to write.

Hoorah.

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The Great Winter Eclipse

To Princess Lorraine of the Summer Court, does King Natanael of the Winter give his most respectful of greetings.

I extend my deepest condolences for the losses you’ve suffered during the Great Eclipse. Know that your steadfast neighbors to the north share in your time of mourning. Queen Artemis was an inspiration to us all and the world is certainly darker having lost her.

As for the Council of the Courts, I accept your invitation to Emberstone Keep. Please be certain that the mirror in the northern antechamber is uncovered on that day, as I will be traveling by the usual method.

I also, with your grace, would bring to this meeting a most intriguing individual. It is no falsehood that we suffered less losses in the Great Eclipse, but it is equally true that it was not by our tenacity alone that won us the day. Without their intervention, this letter would have gone unwritten.

Their present leader has expressed interest in speaking with the Courts of Season. Please do me the honor of introducing him to you, as well as to the Emissary of the Eight Winds.

May the summer’s sun bring you comfort.

King Natanael Continue reading

Exodus of the Court of Autumn

Speaking of those who chase winds instead of the ladies, I have a matter of great comedy to share. Think of it as the matter I regard with my half-smiles, this millennia-long temper tantrum from a indignant, unlucky queen and, more to the point, the temper tantrum the Luminary and Emissary keep pinned to their office walls! If you cannot find the breath to laugh at that, Rilke, then I daresay you can hardly draw breath at all.

Have you noticed, that the vultures gather at our walls? The middle will challenge at the next full moon and, by saying that, the future shifts in your favor. Foresight is so grand a gift that I would be tempted to invite destruction just to spread it, except I will not, for I am no fool long given to dust.

And neither are you.

Ava Continue reading

Concordance of the Seasons

I have gathered, less for the name of history and more for the name of amusement, what records there are of the earliest pieces concerning the ladies of season. The Court of Spring recorded their primitive art, bless their futile efforts, for they are much unlike their cousins to the east, and especially unlike those who have denounced their lady in favor of far more frivolous and far, far more nonexistent entities. Perhaps you could consider the irony, that those who preserved so much of history were the first to fall. I would not consider it myself, but if I were, it would be with the manner of half-smile in which I regard the antics of our favorite joke.

Still, my dear, I do hope you find some measure of delight in the words of long-dusted artists.

Rilke
Continue reading

Prequel Week

I’ve been super excited for this year’s NaNoWriMo, in case if that wasn’t evident in the week of worldbuilding and the little bits of the idea taking form. Given this is the week leading up to the first of November, I decided to take my ridiculous file of notes and images and start writing. Not the Shadows in Summer story itself, but of the events that lead to it. In essence, seven days of prequel freewriting.

I’m also giving myself the rule that I am not going to edit them at this time. I will sit down with the little bit of information and just write like the wind, like, you know, you’re supposed to be doing in November. The impulse to go back and edit is a powerful one for me and, in much of daily life, I’m encouraged to do so. So it’s getting the same treatment as the entries.

As such, they probably won’t be the best writing to ever drip from my fingers. But damn it, if I am not excited for this.

So excuse the mess, and excuse the meaningful entries until about, oh, December. I have not been as excited for NaNoWriMo since my first year in 2005 and it is showing.

Idle Thoughts on Naming

So, as I continue drawing the notes together for Shadows in Summer, I find myself reflecting further on worldbuilding.  Though I’ve written the most crucial points to the subject, or the points I name the most crucial, I still find myself examining the process upon which I give names to characters.  The trap of worldbuilding is realizing when you need to stop, for if you think too much on all the things that can be uniquely designed for your fictional culture, you drown yourself in the sheer weight of details.

Such as I am where gathering name pools for this story.  Typically I default to foreign names stemming from a superficial comparison drawn between the real-world entity and the fictional “sort-of but not really” counterpoint.  Or else I tap into the great portfolio of names assembled by authors who are resonant with a larger culture; the aesthetically-oriented Court of Spring taps into Shakespeare, with certain groups deriving from the same play (specifically, a trio named for Othello and a pair from Midsummer’s Night Dream).  Sometimes I break out my d10 and tables (such as this one) to try and create distinctive, unique names.  The majority of times, the names I create on my own sound like utter garbage.  I think Olmoro has the only name I’ve created that I actually enjoy; that stemmed from a lot of odd mouth movements while playing with the om utilized in meditation.

But is it laziness in worldbuilding to default to given names, rather than styling each process of naming individually into its culture?  Such that some may only have a syllable at birth, with others added through their life to reflect their accomplishments and deeds, or perhaps one where all children born in a certain year share the same name, where individual names are unofficial and traded between friends and family?

The hardest thing to do with fantasy worldbuilding is realizing that your humans do not, necessarily, need to be the same humans found in reality and, in fact, that they have the same naming schemes, the same marriage traditions, the same familiar structures, seems rather distracting in its laziness.

On the other end of the scale, of course, is overcomplication for the sake of overcomplication.  And there is the fact that humans in a fantasy setting are often a baseline, the bridge to connect the reader with the strange and otherworldly of the narrative.  Where would A New Hope be without Luke Skywalker, someone framed as so ordinary and human, to ease the movie viewers into a galaxy distinctly not our own?

So I will bite my tongue and fight the urge to scatter more deck chairs upon this ship.  I will have my queen named Artemis who, yes, should be connected to the real-world Greek goddess with her associations to women and the sport of hunting.  And she will have her daughter Lorraine, for the name is frivolous and sweet and prone to obnoxious nicknaming, which is certainly at the crux of Artemis’s motives for naming her child thus.

If a name works, a name works.  Don’t sweat the devil loitering in the details.