Wednesday, February 1, 2023

IWSG: Where did January go?


    Seriously, was January shorter this month than usual?  It feels like it shouldn't be over yet, not at all.

    Uh, okay, not relevant.

    So...I kinda feel like I do at the end of November, actually, sort of worn out by writing.  This is, of course, because I've written over 100k since January 5th.  πŸ˜…  I wasn't really trying to, mind you; I just wanted to start on the work in question (fan fiction, sadly, but hey, it's more likely to be read than my regular fiction, so...🀷) and I wanted to get it done before the game jam I've committed to entering in March.

    And March sounds a long way off, but...enh.

    February's a short month, after all, and this thing turned out to be a lot longer than I was expecting it to be, so I'm glad I've put so much time into it in January!  Fortunately, I'm closing in on the end now (the remaining scenes are:  hero continues reconnecting with his brother, hero gets a tip from an old friend, we get a scene filling us in on what the bad guys have been up to lately, the good guys have a mass meeting to discuss the bad guys, the final confrontation with the bad guys, and then the epilogue) so I hope I can finish it within another week or so.  Preferably within the week, though.

    Because I had hoped to do another draft of Book 3 of my semi-YA series and maybe even get it released before I have to start on the game jam VN.  (Thankfully, the current draft is close enough to ready that it doesn't need a full-on new draft, just some piecemeal work.)

    On the other hand, I do feel like this new fandom I'm working in has pushed me in a few directions that might actually help my overall writing quality (esp. in terms of characterization), so that's a win?


    This has been a terrible post.


    Brain is fried, y'know?

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

IWSG: Word of 2023


        So, for once I'm answering the monthly question, because it coincides with what I wanted to talk about anyway. πŸ˜„

January 4 question - Do you have a word of the year? Is there one word that sums up what you need to work on or change in the coming year? [snip] What is your word for 2023? Why?

     My word for 2023 is "Improve" because that's something I need desperately to do.  (Obviously, or why else would I pick it as my word, right?)

    Though there's a lot of stuff I need to work on, I plan to start with characterization.  Usually when I'm writing, I have a very firm idea in my head of who a character is and what they're like, but that doesn't always come through on the page.  I once had a beta reader tell me that all three of the lead characters of the novel they'd read over seemed to have the same personality.  I thought I'd made them radically different, because they were so different in my head, but when I looked over his comments about how they were behaving, I could see that yeah, I really hadn't made them reflect my perception of them.

    So, that's where I want to start.  Though I'll be working on other projects in the meantime--I just finished up with a redraft of a novel on New Year's Day, which still needs a bit more work, so I might get back to that around the end of the month, and in the meantime I'll probably work on fanfic to keep my juices flowing--I've joined a game jam that's going to run for two months, starting in March.  I've already started planning what the characters are going to be like, and I want to get them really well defined before I start, then focus on making sure their personalities are properly expressed.  Also I want to make sure they have distinct voices; failing to give characters their own voices has been one of my biggest stumbling blocks as a writer.  (I have to admit, that's one of the things I like in the novel series I've been rewriting:  one of the characters actually has a distinct voice!  Also something I like about the fandom I've been obsessed with lately, because one of the two leads has a voice so distinctive that even I can more or less replicate it.)

    I'd also like to improve my pacing and plotting.  (Which sounds like I mean something else entirely when I say it like that. 🀣)  I often feel like not much actually happens in the stuff I write.  Like the characters spend so long talking about whatever's happening that there's no time for anything to actually happen.  If that makes any sense.

    It's a weird problem, really, for my characters to always turn out so chatty, considering that I practically never speak.  (That's why I'm really grateful to shows like Komi Can't Communicate and Bocchi the Rock; even though my social anxiety is nowhere near that bad, it still makes me feel seen and acknowledged, you know?  Now if someone would just do an anime about aroace people, or about overweight people who aren't offensive stereotypes...)  I suppose it means I should only write super-light slice-of-life stories where people talking is literally the only thing that's supposed to happen, but somehow I never really manage that...?

    (Although, honestly, on the characterization front, I think I did kinda manage to write a unique character in my latest game.  I can't really brag about the two characters having different voices, of course, since I decided to make one of them only speak in emojis, but the one who did speak was really pretty different from any other character I've written.  I'm kind of proud of it, even though it's not much of a muchness.)

    If possible, I'd also like to improve the speed of my writing.  At this rate, it's going to take me another four or five years to finish rewriting those novels--the one I just finished a draft of is book 3 of 7!--and I really don't want to have to wait that long before moving on to try and rehabilitate some of my other unfinished/abandoned novel projects.  (Admittedly, book three was rather stymied by me spending some six months or so working on researching and then writing someone else's visual novel, but...that's still no excuse!  (Besides, I want to write the sequel to that visual novel, because a lot of what we originally planned ended up being left for the sequel, and I'm really attached to some of the characters that ended up not showing up yet!))  I'm not sure if that's possible, though.  I already write pretty fast--though not as fast as I used to, I'm sorry to say--so it's like...ugh, I don't know.

    I probably shouldn't be trying to write this post at like one in the morning... 😴

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

I forgot a major point!

         Okay, so in my previous post, looking at only the spoiler-free changes between the novel Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation (Mo Dao Zu Shi) and its live-action adaptation, The Untamed, I mentioned that I felt like I had more to say on the subject, but I couldn't remember what it was.  Well, I've remembered what it was now.  πŸ˜…

           So, as I mentioned before, both novel and show begin with the death of the lead, Wei Wuxian (WWX), and then immediately jump to his revival 13 years later (or 16 years in the Netflix subtitles).  His revival is actually rather grim:  a mentally disturbed young man, Mo Xuanyu (MXY), sacrifices his own life to bring WWX back from the dead, in order to have WWX kill the people who have made MXY's life a living hell.  In the novel, MXY specifically extinguishes his own soul in order that WWX's soul can inhabit his body:  an early part of the experience for WWX is finding a mirror so he can see what his new face looks like.  (Fortunately for him, MXY is very pretty, even if he's a bit more petite than WWX was.)  In the show, it's a little less clear what happened (though some of the dialog about MXY sacrificing his soul remains in place), because WWX wakes up in the Mo household, on the floor inside a spell circle drawn in blood, and then he's suddenly confronted by this ragged figure with his face wrapped in bandages, saying that WWX has to kill his enemies, then the figure just sort of vanishes, because it was MXY, but the implication is that MXY had sacrificed not just his soul but also his body in order to restore WWX's entire body, not just his soul.  Since they obviously didn't want to replace their gorgeous leading actor, this seems like a change that makes sense, right?

          Unfortunately, wrong.

           I mean, okay, yes, not replacing the lead actor 100% makes sense.  But the way they did it is inconsistent, and kind of feels like they changed their minds a few times in filming and then forgot to fix things in post, or something.

           Obviously, the simplest way to film the story of the novel live action would require Quantum Leap-ing it:  periodically show the revived WWX's reflection, and it's not his reflection but that of MXY, and we're just seeing WWX because the show is still largely in his POV (we do sometimes hear his thoughts), and at first it seems like maybe that's what's happening, since MXY's aunt sees WWX and recognizes him as MXY.

           But then later on there are scenes where WWX has to wear a mask to hide his face to prevent people from recognizing him.  And it's not as MXY that they'd be recognizing him (most of said people wouldn't know MXY and/or wouldn't care about his presence) but as WWX.  So, as the show stands, it's like people who knew MXY see MXY when they look at WWX, but people who knew WWX see WWX.  (Not sure who they see if they knew both parties.  Still WWX, I guess?)  Which wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing if there was at least some kind of explanation for that, but there really isn't:  it kinda feels like they expect that by the time you're done with the flashback, you'll have forgotten that Madam Mo still saw MXY when she looked at WWX.

             Like the river of lava thing I talked about last time and the dialog proving that at the time of filming there had been no lava planned to be there, this feels like an error that was made late enough in production that they didn't have the time to fix it, or something.  Really, the problem is mostly just the others in the Mo household (and maybe Jin Ling?) recognizing him as MXY:  the idea of the spell having the ability to restore his original body is fine, it's just not handled consistently, which is frustrating to someone like me who sometimes gets hung up on the little details.  And, of course, it's compounded by the fact that there's no attempt to reflect the characters aging, so everyone looks the same after WWX's revival as they did before his death more than a decade earlier.  (Even worse, they're all much too old in the flashback sequence:  at the start of the flashback, WWX and many of the other characters are supposed to be only 15 years old!  Some other characters who are actually supposed to be early 20s are played by actors who seem to be in their 30s, too.  (Though I should admit that I am not good at guessing people's ages by looking at them...))  For that matter, the flashback sequence does not feel like it takes 6-7 years, and yet it does.  (In fact, the subtitles on Netflix specifically negate that reality:  they say "16 years later" between WWX's death and his revival and then they say "16 years earlier" as the flashback begins.  Not sure if that problem is on Netflix' end or if that was on the production itself.)

        So...yeah, I think now I've gotten most of the non-spoiler stuff said.  I'll probably want to do a spoiler-heavy post later on, but only after rereading the novel (which I can't do until the last volume comes out, which last time I checked was scheduled for early May) and rewatching the show.

Friday, December 30, 2022

MDZS vs The Untamed

    Since I've finally finished reading The Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation (Mo Dao Zu Shi)*, I thought I'd make the first of two posts comparing and contrasting the novel with its live-action adaptation, which was given the English title The Untamed, which I suspect is not an accurate translation of its Chinese title, Chen Qing Ling, but I don't know that for sure.  There's also an animated adaptation, but I haven't gone looking for a place to watch that yet, so I can't make any comparisons at this time.  I do plan on doing so in the future, though!  I say "the first of two posts" because this post is meant to be if not fully spoiler-free at least spoiler-light, while I want to make a more detailed post later that will have heavier spoilers.  (That second post may wait until I've reread the novel and/or rewatched the show, however.)

    * I should admit that "finished" may be something of a relative term here, and that there are some issues with how I finished reading it at the moment.  You see, I've been reading the official translations of all three of Mo Xiang Tong Xiu's novels, the editions printed for the American market by Seven Seas.  But I was growing very annoyed at how long I was having to wait to get to the one thing that The Untamed denied me:  seeing the two leads get together romantically.  So, after reading volume 4 (of 5), I went ahead and read the contents of the fifth volume on WebNovel.  (My plan remains as it always was, to reread the first four volumes leading into the publication of the final volume, of course.  So yes, I will still be buying that one.  In case you were curious/worried.)  When I first learned that there was a translation on WebNovel, I looked up a little bit about the site (service?) to see if it was legit.  And the basic info I found--which was largely geared at writers contemplating publish their work there--said that it was, so I assumed that meant the version on there was also "official," and that the author would be getting a share of any profits that translation garnered.  This was stupidly naΓ―ve of me, as it turned out.  There were at least three full translations on the site, plus some others that hadn't finished.  Of those three, one only had the novel and none of the bonus content, while the others had differing amounts of the bonus content.  (I suspect there's at least one more bonus chapter, as there's an awful lot of official merch of the two leads in wedding clothes, but there wasn't a chapter with a wedding in either translation, so...either there's another bonus chapter neither included, or maybe the animated version had a wedding at the end?)  Both of the full versions with bonus chapters turned out to have copy-pasted the text from the same fan translation site.  πŸ€¬  So, as unofficial as you can get!  πŸ˜–  I don't like anything about that being the case, but at least it was only one volume I read that way.  (Though I am now in quite a conundrum regarding Heaven Official's Blessing, which I had hoped to do the same thing with so I won't have to wait until September to find out how the story ends!  But I'm reluctant to even start reading any translations of it that might be on WebNovel now that I know they'd be unauthorized translations (and almost undoubtedly posted there by someone other than the translator!), so I don't know what to do about that. 😭  Fan translation sites are no good for that, though, because they pretty much always take down their translations once someone's licensed the property to do an official translation, meaning that any fan translations that are still available for Heaven Official's Blessing are likely ones that have been copy-pasted like those MDZS translations.)

    Okay, so the real post starts from here!  (If you haven't read or watched any of it and don't want to risk even light spoilers, leave now! 😁)

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

IWSG: I had something I wanted to say, but...


    Frustratingly, over the past week I came up with two or three things I wanted to say in this month's post.  Then I had a little health kerfuffle on Monday morning (slept on my arm wrong and cut off all the flow of blood to my hand for long enough that until I massaged the blood back into it I literally couldn't move my fingers 😱) and that kinda drove most of the thoughts right out of my head.

    I do remember one of the topics, though:

    I've been concerned lately about how one-dimensional and shallow the characters turn out when I try to write a villain, particularly of the grandiose "I'm going to conquer/destroy the world" variety that some of my fantasy plots require.  Admittedly, the absurdly over-the-top goals of such a villain are already rather far removed from any sense of realism, but doesn't that just make it more important to make their characterization less absurd?

    I came up with an idea to write a fairly simple game where you're actually playing such a villain (well, a villain-to-be, really), but I'm not sure if I'm actually going to get it off the ground.  It's at that planning stage where I know the basic elements of the story, but haven't defined any of the other characters beyond the fact that they have to exist.  😰  Sometimes I never manage to get plots past that point, because I just can't come up with any interesting characters who work in those particular story slots.


    Now that I think about it, I've picked up some various character creation aids over the years.  Maybe I should use one of those to flesh out those ideas...not that they've ever worked before, but maybe there's a first time for everything...

    Overall, though, I really do have trouble making villains--and even non-villain jerks--into real, believable, breathing characters, rather than simple caricatures.  I need to work on that, but it's hard to know where to start.  (I mean, if you look at real-world villains and extreme jerks, the majority of them really do seem to be nothing but flat caricatures rather than fully rounded actual people...)

    Maybe what I need to do is write something that's sort of a mystery, where you know that one person out of a group is secretly doing this, that or the other terrible thing, but they all act like nice, sweet people, so you have to piece together the clues and find the one who's actually evil.  Except that doesn't really feel like it would accomplish the goal?  Maybe a mystery where they're all jerks, but one of them  is also evil, and you have to figure out which one.


Wednesday, November 30, 2022

NaNo Rebel '22, Day 30: Big Finish!

        (Also, a phone-submitted blog post.  'Cause lazy.)

         So, I really wanted to pull out all the stops today!

         I had hoped to rewrite a full 20k of The Martial Maenads today, but alas, I only got through a bit over 15k of it.  Still, that put me at 33,599 words rewritten in three days, so I think that's a pretty strong finish!  (The draft I'm rewriting is a bit over 100k, so I'm almost a third of the way through the draft!)

         I also came up with yet another MDZS AU fanfic idea, which it took me another 1,769 words to describe, so that's a few more words for the NotNaNo pile!  πŸ˜†  (And this time it's truly something I can't write yet, 'cause it crosses over with both of MXTX's other novels, so until I've read the rest of Heaven Official's Blessing, I really won't be able to write it.  There's probably whole characters who haven't even been introduced yet where I am now...)

          Anyway!  Final NotNaNo totals:
          Today's word count:  17,392!

           And....drumroll please....
            Final word count for November...


       Maybe I should go back and write another 932 words to get that to an even 100k.  (Or 933 to get it to the perfect palindrome 100,001...)
        That next scene in the book was about 775 words...



           I went back in to do a little more.

           Added 933 words, so now my word count for the month is a perfect 100,001!  πŸ˜†

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

NaNo Rebel '22, Day 29: Big Day, Late Post

     Today turned out to be a surprisingly huge writing day!

    Admittedly, the writing on The Martial Maenads is rewriting in a third draft, so there's large chunks that I'm just retyping rather than properly rewriting, but most paragraphs get at least a tweak, if not major changes, so...hopefully it counts?  ("Counts" I say, as if there was anyone who even could make rules for what "counts" in my totally unofficial personal NaNoWriMo that doesn't use their new, ugly site.)

    Got 11,518 words rewritten of The Martial Maenads today!  That may well be a personal best!  (Even for rewriting, I mean.  I'm pretty sure it far tops my best day for actual writing...though there was one day in an official NaNo where I got about 10k words written, so it doesn't win by very much.  That was probably the year that I broke 200k...)

    I also wrote down another MDZS AU fanfic plot after my bath, for an additional 1,251 words.

    Thus, my total for the day is a whopping 12,769!

    That brings my total for this November up to 81,676!

    I'm hoping that I can dedicate all day tomorrow to writing, so I can really beef up my numbers.  XD  (The fact that tomorrow is going to be totally freezing (after today was so warm I didn't even need a jacket) may help me stay in and just write write write write...)