Archive for category Areopagus

NaNo 2010 reflections

In case you missed it, November’s over, and so is National Novel Writing Month. Before the clock hit midnight on December 1st, I managed to write 47,877 words… this close to the 50K I needed in order to win.  Oops.

Don’t feel too sorry for me, though, because so far as I’m concerned, I won. I may not have made the requisite word count, but I did finish the rough drafts of “Areopagus“, “Spyder, Spyder“, and “Strength of the Fallen“. Each of the three projects now has an ending, if a sucky one.

I’m not too concerned about suckiness. The goal of NaNo is not to be perfect, it’s to be prolific – to suck, but to suck impressively. At this point, the hard part – the “getting words down” part – is over. What is left is the perfectionist’s dream. When editing, I can be as detail-oriented as I please, from the perspective of a writer, a world-builder, a reader, and a feminist. Revision brings out a polished shine to my impressively sucky words, and adds depth and thoughtfulness to an otherwise-flat world. Yes, revision is definitely my favorite part of the writing process.

But first, I get a break. I had homework to do December 1st, but on the 2nd I had my first taste of freedom. I got more than 6 hours of sleep (during the entire month of November I only managed this once), and when I woke up, I did whatever I wanted. So I really just played Pokemon in bed all day, but hey, that’s what I wanted!

The days to come will be slightly less fun, as I have one more week before finals. Still, I will be without a long-term creative project for at least a few weeks. Maybe I’ll do some art. I have a short autobio/journal comic planned for Winter Break. Nothing epic in scope, thank god.  I’m even too pooped to start thinking about Multiversed again. The goal for now is simply to recover. When I return to the drafts of the three projects, they will be new to me again, and more importantly, as exciting as they were when new. 😛

So that’s the interesting stuff. What follows is a rundown of my NaNo 2010 experiences. If you like stats or listening to me blathering on about process, feel free to read below the cut.

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Twelve characters, three stories, one kick-ass month

NaNoWriMo goes well so far.  I had a very stressful time last week, and I’m still recovering from that.  So I’m behind in my word count, but the last two days I’ve managed to pull off 2,000+ words.

This NaNo seems to be oddly easier, even with the setbacks.  It helps having established stories to work off of, I suppose, and the fact that I can switch between stories once my steam runs out.  I’ve written 5,744 words so far, about half in Spyder, Spyder, and half in Areopagus.

I found this awesome 12 Characters meme on the NaNo forums, but they’re down at the moment, so I thought I’d post mine here.  It’s crossover-tastic, as one might expect.  Later in the month I’ll probably be writing crossover-fic due to NaNo desperation, but for now, this scratches the itch pretty well.

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Sitting judgment on Areopagus

NaNo’ll be here tomorrow! I’m so excited and nervous. But not too flighty to talk about Areopagus.

The premise: A mild-mannered secretary named Kyle Newman falls asleep on the train one day and wakes up to find that he can see the sins of all those he locks eyes with.

Reading this draft wasn’t nearly as painful as I thought it would be. True, it’s the least polished of the three projects. It meanders and only starts building towards a climax at page 50 (of 87). And even then, there are half a dozen obvious Chekov’s guns, and god knows if I meant them all to go off at once.

But while I remembered the meandering and uncertainty about where the plot would go, I didn’t count on the meandering feeling… kinda worth leaving in. I won’t pretend that the characters are particularly creative. The main characters can be (mostly) summed up by the titles “shy English major”, “blunt feminist”, and “Crazy Asian Man” (the latter is actually used in-story, but it’s apt (okay, maybe not as apt as “Crazy Nerdy Type”)). They’re over the top in some ways, embarrassingly me in others… but the meandering plot gives them a bit of subtlety. Not a lot, but enough.

Speaking of, I clearly had a lot of fun writing from Kyle’s point of view. He, uh, narrates like an English major. Lots of metaphors and such, not to mention introspection and a flair for the dramatic. It’s kind of hilarious.

As for where to continue – like I said, the plot doesn’t pick up until late in the draft. I’ll take those cues, and one or two of the Chekov’s guns, and just write. I still don’t know how to end the story, unfortunately. But I think I can meander a little more on this one if I need to.

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Tossing and turning the page

I’ve been having trouble sleeping recently. I go to bed and I toss and I turn, and I think about Multiversed. As a result, I’ve made a lot of progress in figuring out the chapter storylines. The prologue and chapter 1 still need some work, but chapters 2, 3, n-1, and n are more-or-less planned out in my head (where n is the magical chapter when shit goes down, yo). I even have chapter titles for some of them. It’s an exhilarating feeling, having solid plot to work with.

And, if you check my Multiversed references page, you’ll see that I’ve posted an update with Damien’s character sheet. I’d hoped to have Valerie’s revised character sheet done by today as well, but… see for yourself :

Heh heh. To misquote “Bend It Like Beckham,” when drawing, I tend to make even mosquito bites look like juicy juicy mangoes. ^^;;

Sleeplessness led to another awesome turn of events besides Multiversed progress. One night I stumbled back out of bed, and went back to my computer. I was looking for a couple of documents in which I keep spare ideas (for incorporating into a Multiversed storyline, say). But instead I ended up reading the beginning of Strength of the Fallen. Then, amazed, I read bits of Areopagus. Then Spyder, Spyder.

They were actually good.

It’s been long enough since I wrote these projects that I don’t remember anything but the barest details of them. It was as though someone else had written them, some writer who knew what she was doing.

For the first time in my life, I agree with my mother that I should try to get these things published. …Which means I should probably finish writing them. 😛

Therefore I’m proud to announce that I will be doing National Novel Writing Month again this year. This time, I will be writing the ends to the drafts from my previous three NaNo’s. This month, my prep reading will be the drafts; my homework to brainstorm endings. I’m incredibly excited for this. NaNo is the most hectic but brilliant time. I feel so alive (if tired) during it, and I’m sure this time won’t be an exception.

(And look at those pep talk guests! Holly Black, Dave Eggers and Lemony Snicket. SQUEE. :3 )

Last but not least, I’m including an excerpt of Strength of the Fallen. There are a few things I’ll change in a later draft, of course, but it reminded me of all the intrigue that’s at the heart of this story. Click to read the excerpt.

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My heart feels like it’s going to burst out of my chest at any moment; there’s just so much to do and so much to remember to do right now. I’m excited and anxious and thoughtful all at the same time. My first class of the semester is in three hours or so, and the beginning of a new semester is just as bad as New Year’s for regrets and hopeful glances at the future. It’s a good time for backing up documents, for cleaning my room, for hurriedly completing unfinished work. It’s also a good time to take stock of current projects.

That the school year is a poor time for creative projects has been proven to me over and over again. I can promise that I will dutifully work on a project, but between homework and last-minute get-togethers, my own work tends to suffer. This semester is going to be especially tough, as I’ll be working on my CS capstone on top of the usual craziness.

It’s a safe bet that I will not be trying NaNoWriMo this year.

Here’s where I’m at with my open projects:

Areopagus, Strength of the Fallen, & Spyder, SpyderAll are awaiting revision of first drafts. These are on hold.

Cathy, Queen of Evil Never made it out of embryonic stage. This project is effectively dead. World-building and character development from this project will be incorporated into Multiversed.

Past, Present and Probable FutureAlso awaiting revision of (second?) draft. It is on hold. The main characters are being used in Multiversed. Multiversed occurs after the events of this novel, and thus will have spoilers, so I might discontinue work on this project.

MultiversedNow has its own project page! Work continues on concept art.

Mark Two – My CS capstone project? TBA.


This semester I will be working on Multiversed concept art; Mark Two planning and execution; and The Mad Scientist Wars. Unfortunately, work on Multiversed may lag, since keeping up on the other two is especially important. Finishing homework, getting a job, and retaining sanity is also important. I make no promises in regard to the last item, though. 😉

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NaNo Confession

I’m still behind on my word count, but I’m writing everyday and getting those words out. I think I know how to reach 50,000 words now – go into my characters’ future, and create a subplot in which their future selves save the world.  Or try to anyway, I’m not sure yet if they succeed. But thanks are largely due to Write or Die!, which has really been forcing me to get those words out. I had no idea that I average 700 words per half-hour! By that estimation, I can easily reach about 2,000 words by simply devoting an hour and a half to writing.

Things are happy and rosy again. Probably not for much longer, though. The Graphics assignment’s due tomorrow, and I’ll probably pull an all-nighter to complete it. Then the ACM contest on Saturday… *shudders* I don’t want to think about that yet.

Since I’m just about out of quick sketches, I was going through my folders looking for other things I could possibly post here. There was a surprising amount, including this gem from my first NaNoWriMo (2006, year of “Areopagus“). Click on the link for a full view, please:

You can tell I still wasn’t comfortable with one style or another, and I had problems with everything. Head shape, consistency, proportions, hands… Ick. 2006 was a bad year for drawing. But 2006 was also the year I started really trying to develop consistency and style, so I can’t help but be a little relieved knowing that this was just an intro to the cartoons I’m now capable of.

Mmm… grande caramel macchiatos. Apparently 2006 was also the year before I switched from ordering cappuccinos to ordering caramel macchiatos.

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Breaking the fourth wall 2006 & 2007 (belated)

These should have been posted last year. As in 2007. Why? Because these are pictures for the project “Breaking the Fourth Wall,” a supposedly annual undertaking in which I draw my characters all together, interacting. It’s supposed to help me visualize my characters, as well as judge how my artwork has changed within a year.

Here’s the first one, made in 2006:
Breaking the Fourth Wall 2006

From right to left, the characters are:

  • my avatar & evil side; an evil spider (from an unnamed, scrapped story)
  • Character-Ashley (from “3PF“)
  • a minotaur (from the same unnamed, scrapped story as the spider)
  • Mr. Scotese (from “Sing a Song of Scotese” and real life)
  • Dominick (from “the Four Friends” and not a stick figure in real life)
  • Mr. C (from “Adventures in Spanish 2 with Mr. C” and real life)
  • Jessica (from “3PF” and not a fan of Scotese in real life)
  • Cathy and the Gatekeeper (from “Cathy Queen of Evil,” though currently in different forms)
  • Annabelle (from “My Homeland Chicago“)
  • Janet (from “My Homeland Chicago“)

Here’s the “4th Wall” for last year, 2007.  Half of the characters were drawn during the summer; the other half weren’t drawn until 2007 had just expired.  Even though I was drawing them this year (effectively cheating, I feel), I decided to ink them the old way, with the regular Micron pens instead of the brush pens.  So I wasn’t cheating too much.
Breaking the Fourth Wall 2007

The characters from right to left are:

  • Stick Figure Dominick (“the Four Friends”)
  • Annabelle (“My Homeland Chicago,” another early story that got scrapped [that’s why she’s so sad!])
  • Good Cathy/’Angel’ (“Cathy Queen of Evil“)
  • Jessica (“3PF“)
  • Ashley/my avatar (“3PF“)
  • Mr. Scotese (“Sing a Song of Scotese“)
  • Evil Spider (unnamed, scrapped story)
  • Mr. C (“Adventures in Spanish 2 with Mr. C”)
  • Erica (“Areopagus“)
  • Kyle (“Areopagus” [he’s not blind, but is blindfolded so he won’t accidentally see anyone’s sins in their eyes])
  • Minrei (“Strength of the Fallen“)

Huge difference in art styles, huh?  I can’t wait to see what I come up with later this year!

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