Remarkable Journey of Sebastian Starling · Writing Prompts

#wildwoodprompt #amwriting Avoidance

My friend Serena is the most awesomely creative person I know! She has weekly writing prompts and this one just struck a chord. What is life like after the grand adventure is over?

This scene will be part of the epilogue of The Remarkable Journey of Sebastian Starling. She’s done in Avalon fighting elves and saving magic but what does this mean for herself and her relationships?

(Rough unedited draft)

Sebastian stood at her mirror staring at the new person looking back. It had been three weeks since the return from her adventures in Avalon and the rigors of those battles hung off her more ragged than she might have liked. In the stories Gran used to read her the hero returned in a blast of glory and pomp–not sliding into her old life quietly as if nothing were different. Everything was different. Her father was returned to them–married even, to her mother in a truly beautiful ceremony. They were a family now. Perhaps that was what felt so strange. All her life she had been accustomed to making her own family of her friends, colleagues… Nicholas…

“Oh, Nicholas.” The extra heavy pang caused the words to whisper out of a rueful smile. This was perhaps the biggest difference–something that she could not pinpoint and it made her heart heavier for that. Their dance at the Raven Queen’s Victory Ball created more questions than it answered.

“Tap tap?”

Sebastian whirled around to see an all too familiar face grinning at the window. While still impish as always, Nicholas too bore a weight on his features of everything he had seen and endured.

“You startled me!” She slid open the casement. “And one of these days you will have to use the door like a proper gentleman”

“But should I do that what will we banter about every time I visit.” The words so often repeated with every visit, for the first time ever, made her feel less comfortable than it should have. She turned back to her dressing table and began gathering her books in her bag.

“I must get going. I am to show Father all the new sights of the City. ”

“Aye.” Nicholas sat on the edge of the window and swung his legs in a charmingly childish way.

Sebastian’s hand reached for the door knob. “Bas, I’ll wait for ye as long as ye need. And I don’t take offense to ye avoiding me!” Those words swept across her and she felt the ragged weight of everything lift ever so slightly. She turned and gave a smile still heavy but a little lighter around the edges.

Nicholas grinned, and saluted as she slipped out the door.

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Reminiscing · Writing

#amwriting Why I Don’t Nano Anymore

So I missed Writing Wednesday–oops! But I wanted to write this article because it’s very important to me as a writer, an artist, and general human being. I’ve been asked a lot why I am not doing NaNoWriMo anymore and while children is a part of the reason it is not wholly the reason. So here goes!

NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month takes place during November and encourages anyone and everyone to throw inhibitions to the wind and put words on paper. It has been embraced by writers of all kinds, ages, and backgrounds and in many ways is a brilliant program. Schools have adopted it as a way to get students excited about creative writing which is probably my favorite thing about this idea. It builds communities of writers where they didn’t exist before and gives people courage to try something new. These are all spectacular things about NanoWrimo!

However, like everything, there are downsides to this idea and viewpoint about writing which it has taken me some time to realize. For many, myself included when I participated, November became a month of pure anxiety to meet that 1667 words a day to meet the 50,000 word quota. I know there is a lot of wisdom out there about how any words are better than no words at all but for a selectively competitive perfectionist it was a nightmare on my mental health that I masked with a veneer of “this is fun”. Granted, there were parts that were fun–the year I met empresscats three times a week to Nano and we ultimately won!

But looking back these months were filled with anxiety that hurt work, personal relationships and ultimately didn’t result in work I was overly proud of as a whole piece. For a lot of people deadlines like these work beautifully for getting the work done. For me it’s mostly word salad with a few good plots and characters that I then never touch again. I just don’t work that way.

It is also the WORST timing for me personally. November is our month for finessing craft goods for Christmas sales. That leaves little room for–you know, laundry and eating food let alone writing. And really The Fall as a whole is just bad for me. All that to say, if it works for you–that is wonderful! If it doesn’t I’m happy to talk through your process to find what might work better! I know for me I am a long distance runner as opposed to sprinter when it comes to writing.

To all, happy writing and creating however that takes shape!

Writing

#WritingWednesday : Writing and Boredom

I just haven’t felt in the mood to write lately, and I suspect it is a mixture of things: general life craziness, working on more visual art projects (my brain just can’t seem to do art AND writing at the same time!) and boredom with my writing projects.

I was listening to The Nightmare Before Christmas Soundtrack with my Littles last night after trick or treating and the song What’s This came on. Hearing Jack’s wonder and enthusiasm for something that happens every year and can feel a bit mundane was exhilarating. That’s when it hit me. Writing is hard because you are working on this project for the long haul–and, at least for me, it is very easy to grow bored with a project. This would explain why I have at least a dozen works in progress that I flit back and forth between and very few finished products. If you the writer don’t have joy in your work how will the readers? I am sure that most of the time when I get bored with a book it’s because the author has too–it bleeds through into your writing and your work.

I’ve lost the joy in my writing projects, and according to Marie Kondo (a lifestyle and decluttering wizardess!) If something doesn’t bring you joy you shouldn’t keep it. Granted she is mostly talking about material possessions but I think this idea of joy can be, and should be, applied to creative projects as well. So that being said, I need to revisit my projects and just like Jack, discover what makes me joyous about each of them or let them go as something I am not going to spend precious energy on.

I think that will be my goal for November so that in December I can start planning out 2018 with a fresh wave of enthusiasm and joy!

 

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Writing

#WritingWednesday Lists

I love lists!

Which is good because my brain has always been going in six different directions all at once. (Hashtag Scattered. Hashtag MajorMomBrain). I have the typical to-do lists, books to read lists, movies to watch, colors to taste etc. But today I want to focus on list making for my writing process.

I like lists because seeing a task in writing helps make a task concrete, and therefore I am more likely to accomplish it. It also makes something that seems insanely out of reach more tangible and achievable–it takes the fear out of getting started. But Lainey, I hear you ask, shouldn’t you just write instead of taking up valuable time making a list of what to write about? I point you to above Hashtags–haha!

For short stories and small scripts I can definitely pants* with the best of them, however, for longer more involved projects I often feel myself getting lost and just circling around one writing task and never quite getting anything done. When working on a big project I like to both write the story AND work on world building sort of bouncing back and forth. It keeps my scattered self interested in the project and I feel that one usually informs the other and vice versa.  This is where lists come in handy. I like to make a list of world building elements/questions I need to address for the sake of the story that way when I get stuck on a scene I can go straight to my list without wasting much time, and more. importantly brain power.

Obviously, this system works best for me. Will it work for you? I don’t know–try it and see?

What sort of things do you use lists for? I’m always up for hearing new ideas!

 

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*pantser = a term coined by NaNoWriMo writers that refers to “flying by the seat of your pants” in regards to just following where the story goes as opposed to meticulous planning

Writing

My Little Green Notebook

“Always carry a notebook.”

That’s the number one writing advice I see out on the inter webs and it makes a lot of sense. You don’t want to lose an idea while going about your Mundane Life*

This notebook was gifted to me by a dear friend and has been a life saver for a lot of my writing projects. And while The Literati isn’t really active this notebook is a verdant reminder to stay creative and that no idea is too crazy not to write down!

 

 

 

 

*Mundane Life just refers to my life outside my creative pursuits. The name is meant to be ironic in that my outside life is ANYTHING but mundane!

Inspiration · Writing

Character Description: Spencer Montaire

History

Spencer Montaire is from Achelon City: City of Hope formerly Children of Destiny (I will never not cringe at that title!) and I am going to reference THIS post as to the history of the writing project itself. Basically Spencer was my token boy in the group and foil for Luna–sort of. Looking back on things he really wasn’t developed at all. I mean, in 8th grade I was barely able to understand myself let alone boys so how would I know how to write male characters and make them interesting?

He represented fire and I knew I wanted him to be thoughtful and moody as opposed to the hotheaded stereotype of most fire Elementals but that was about as sophisticated as it got!
Evolution
Not much changed with him until this most recent incarnation of my story and really the changes in his character are what set off this new interest in the story. At one point I had Luna and Spencer hook up but that never felt right–too forced and formulaic. They always worked better as friends and partners. It wasn’t until a few months ago when I was pondering why I didn’t like any of the romantic pairings I had for him it dawned on me: it’s because they are women and he isn’t attracted to women. It was as if after all these years I had finally hit the right set of tumblers on the lock and Spencer’s entire character came flooding out in a way that finally made sense.

Of course I have some trepidation at writing a gay character: will I make his character believable? Will I accidentally make fun of gay people somehow? I feel mostly confident enough–don’t focus on the fact he is gay. It is part of who he is but not the defining attribute. Focus on his relationships male and female and hopefully he won’t become a caricature of anything. We will see. That is obviously what revisions will be for! And lots of talking to others–something I am always for! I want to be more inclusive in my writing; it can be awful vanilla, I think, and this will help me start.

What I like best about him:

He is a painter–using the rich colors to work through his grief, or try to work through his grief as well as capture how he sees the city around him. In this incarnation he comes to Achelon City to start over following the death of his last partner and is really struggling to overcome guilt and grief. It is through his partnership and ultimately friendship with Luna that he starts to heal.  I want to show this process within the larger story develops.

Visual inspiration

 

This is the first piece of artwork I saw that REALLY inspired me for this version of Spencer’s character. Not only are the physical characteristics spot on but the intensity of this person matches Spencer perfectly.
Mmm, shoulder harnesses. Hehe! littleulvar.deviantart.com is a fantastic artist!
This piece of artwork was what really inspired me for Spencer’s past and his relationship with his partner. I just like the closeness of these two.
It is such a WEIRD coincidence that the man on the left looks SO much like Spencer and the man on the right looks JUST like how I pictured Xir, god of fate–down to the eyepatch! I am not kidding! I want there to be several scenes with Spencer in a bar and this strange fellow shows up they talk and Xir subtly influences Spencer and the direction of the case.
Give him sandy blond hair and Sebastian Stan could TOTALLY be Spencer!
I’m not really sure what the eye shadow is for but I liked the expressions
Writing

Character Description: Luna Wells

History

Luna Wells was created in 1997 as my online alter ego in my Yahoo Chat days, hehe. She slowly started to morph into something more and eventually joined three other characters as part of my Elemental story I was working on. By Elemental I mean Earth, Air, Fire, Water–because every writer worth their salt has that story in some form, right? Haha!

She was water and was even part of a race of aliens (this was a science fiction story so of course aliens) that had electric blue hair just like my favorite pair of electric blue… parachute cargo pants (I’m not sure what they were exactly–but I do miss them!). Can you guess which element she represented? Yeah, my powers of symbology were it very subtle at fourteen. She represented water. But she also represented the aspects of my teenage personality that had only just started to emerge. She was loud, a little crazy, loved music–was a DJ in fact (a career I very much aspired to at the time) and was very passionate about doing the right thing.

She joined Willow, Rennes, and Spencer (a boy this time) in what was a very anime-esque plot that involved them discovering their powers and saving the world from imminent doom (there may have even been a transformation sequence!). This is not a surprise given the amount of anime I was consuming at the time! HAHA!

I held onto these guys through high school–even completing a 4x6ft painting of Xir, the god of fate who was a big character in the story!

Evolution

Over the years I would occasionally revisit this story and these characters.  They were sort of like a security blanket of sorts connecting me to my youth–and I couldn’t let go.

As I grew older, Luna became a little more serious–not much, I still liked her crazy edge. She became a police detective who was partnered with Spencer. It was a very Riggs and Murtaugh sort of relationship that I still dig to this day. The overall sci fi plot became a little less hokey and more Bladerunner-street-noir-punk which I am very happy with and am currently working with.  The story has shifted somewhat away from the characters and more about the city–Achelon City and their places within a cosmic crime story of sorts. There are god like beings vying for control of the city and Luna and Spencer uncover this plot.  There are still super powers and recently added giant elemental mech suits that the original four characters pilot to defeat evil space dragons–ok, maybe it still sounds a little like an anime but now it’s more Gundam Wing than magical girl.

I like the idea of mashing up genres and Luna works well as a good cop who just wants to do her job but gets pulled into these extraordinary circumstances. I love a good buddy cop story and she and Spencer are really starting to have some chemistry–not in the romantic way, I really hate that, but in the intense friendship and trust that come about from being partners.

Here are some visual references for the latest version of Luna that I hope I get to start writing soon!

Luna is a tomboy but knows how to dress well. Achelon City has a vague dieselpunk feel to it so I totally see her wearing something like this when she’s not out in the field kicking butt.
Because Luna is half Nethrim she has incredible strength (in addition to supremely dense bones and a gigantic appetite) and gets called in a lot for special SWAT assignments. This is just an idea for her tactical gear. Also Emily Blunt totally has Luna’s attitude even if the hair color isn’t right!
I love this shot again for the attitude.
This is very close to how I see Luna. Blonde crazy hair with some streaks of blue.
This is another expression that works for Luna. Vacant and a little goofy.

 

What I like best about Her

Obviously Luna is partly me, or rather me as I might want to be…sort of. She has certainly started out that way but now I really like her for other reasons. I like her because I want to show that physically strong “superhero” types can be completely emotionally weak and I want to show her journey to overcome that. Wow, as I reread that sentence that sounds more like me than I might be comfortable with–haha. But aren’t all characters a reflection of the writer who creates them? It makes them more genuine.

All of that to say I cannot wait to sit down and have coffee–wait, you never give a Nethrim coffee–steak au gratin for her and coffee for me! Anyways, I can’t wait to get to know her all over again!