30 Nov 2017

The Devil You Know - Commentary 19

The spy thriller becomes an urban fantasy, in The Devil You Know Chapter 19.

Jack's nature revealed!  Finally!  And the biggest problem with labelling The Devil You Know as urban fantasy was the nature of the spoiler.  Until now, there's nothing explicit about the supernatural.  Sure, there were some odd happenings, but I didn't call attention to them.  Ione calls out Gemma having car problems at the end of Chapter 8, but even then, there's nothing said about how the car was disabled.

I did leave a few hints, though.  Some were just turns of phrases, but others were done with purpose.
Chapter 10:
"Speak of the devil."  I wanted to put the idea out there that Jack is a devil.  At this point, there's no reason to assume that Jack is one, just roguish.
Jack learned to fly in Gander.  This was to hint at his age.  Gander was used for training pilots during the First World War, and was also a refuelling point for trans-Atlantic flights.  Jack learned to fly in a biplane during WWI.

Chapter 12:
"No one has ever accused me of not having wealth and taste."  The Rolling Stones song, "Sympathy for the Devil" opens with the line, "Please allow me to introduce myself/I'm a man of wealth and taste."  Jack does have wealth, as seen with his private jet and the kopi luwak coffee.  He also prefers refinement, as seen in his hotel choices.  Again, the line was meant to place the idea of Jack being a devil in readers' heads.

Chapter 13:
The decadent coffee.  Jack chose that blend on purpose to tempt Ione.

Chapter 14:
Jack tempted Ione into having a one night stand against her better judgement.  That's what Jack does for a living, tempts people.

Ben's nature was hinted at, too, but since he and Karen were offscreen for most of the story, there's not much to go on.  Gemma did bash Karen over the head with her pistol.  That act should have left Karen with a concussion and in the hospital.  Ben healed her.

Given the reveal, it might be worth going back and checking out some of Mara's scenes.  There's a reason why she turned into Ms Fanservice.  Temptation demons are always on the job, though Mara is moonlighting a little.  The worst she did was tempt Ione with chocolate.

I didn't work out the theology.  I am using handwavium to distract readers.  Angels, devils, and demons exist.  Gemma has a Valkyrie in her family tree somewhere.  Some of the ideas were inspired by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman's Good Omens, a comedy about the Apocalypse.  Other ideas came from Linda Poitevin's The Grigori Legacy series.  The main takeaways from both is that angels are frightening, humanity has potential, and the Final War between Heaven and Hell isn't a sure thing.  With the latter, if the War was a given for either side, it'd have been fought by now.  Expanding from just Christian beliefs into myths was me, though, and something I would explore again with dba LTV Paranormalists in 2016.

So, did the reveal work?  That's up to the readers to decide.  Let me know in the comments, please.

Friday, meeting the other players, in the The Devil You Know Chapter 20.
Also Friday, over at Psycho Drive-In, going for broke with remaking Manos: The Hands of Fate.
Saturday, over at The Seventh Sanctum, wrapping up the MST3K remakes.

29 Nov 2017

The Devil You Know - Commentary 18

Gemma killed Jack, but it didn't take, in The Devil You Know Chapter 18.

It's not that Ione's corset is transforming her into being more assertive; her assertiveness is starting by wearing the corset.  Ione's reached a point where she's tired of being the passenger.  She's pushed back somewhat against Jack, but her sense of duty and her desire to find out what happened in Chapter 1 has been her main drive.  Now, she's becoming more active.

Ione's Google-fu is stronger than mine.  I haven't been able to find anything official for the song "Smuggler's Blues", let alone a video.  The lyric Ione quotes, "No matter if it's cocaine, heroine, or hash/You've got to carry weapons 'cause you always carry cash," was written in the 80s and is still a bit of advice drug dealers follow.  Jack's getting involved in a dangerous business, and he's bringing a small sword to a potential gunfight.  However, as seen later, Jack doesn't have much worry too much about that sort of thing.

Gemma was always meant to be one of the key characters, along with Ione and Karen.  I spent time working out a few details for them, ultimately creating a look for each of them in The Sims 2.  Somehow, getting the personalities worked out in the game managed to a good sequence that seemed to set up the antagonism Gemma has for Ione.  I didn't work out Mara; remember, she was a late addition because of crew requirements for Jack's jet.  The work in the game did let me get an idea of what the characters looked like for descriptions in the text.

Gemma left, Ione middle, Karen right.
Gemma: "Are you two seriously going along with this ridiculous plotline?"
(Photo capture from The Sims 2)

Ione: "Do you have anything better to do?  I don't see you going out there and auditioning for other stories."
(Photo capture from The Sims 2)

Gemma: "You can do that?"
(Photo capture from The Sims 2)
That leaves Jack.  Gemma shot him.  Jack should be dead.  And yet, there he is.  He's a little angry; getting shot tends to do that to a person.  The big reveal is in Chapter 19, but should be confirmation that Jack is far more than he appears.  I'm hoping that there was a bit of a surprise to what happened with him, but I also started to lay down a few clues ahead of time.

While writing this chapter, I was wondering if Gemma should have Karen stashed somewhere.  The problem with that is Karen's not alone, and I know Ben's true nature.  Not helping matters is that a rescue mission distracts from the main plot at this point.  So, Gemma lied.  She's a spy; it comes with the job.  Gemma lied to Ione and kept our heroine from being able to spend much time thinking about how Karen could have been caught.  No need to have a real damsel in distress to make Ione think there is one.

Since I had no idea where the story was going most of the time, I wound up doing quick research just before I needed details.  One of the things I was wondering about was the border between Monaco and France, especially around Monte Carlo.  Turned out, the border is a street, with no real passport control.  To get to Monte Carlo, travellers have to go through France or travel by boat, both of which will involve customs.  Border hopping is possible, but the two countries probably have treaties to deal with that sort of thing.  This was helpful.  I didn't want to deal with customs just to get Ione to see Karen and then go off to help Jack.

The cliffhanger leads to the reveal in Chapter 19.  Jack and Ben have met before.  Many times.  But, that's for the next commentary.

Friday, meeting the other players, in the The Devil You Know Chapter 20.
Also Friday, over at Psycho Drive-In, going for broke with remaking Manos: The Hands of Fate.
Saturday, over at The Seventh Sanctum, wrapping up the MST3K remakes.

26 Nov 2017

NaNoWriMo 2017 Week 4 Update

Total Words: 60 302
Words Since Last Update: 13 215
Completed Chapters: Episode 2 chapters 4, 5; Episode 3 chapter 1

The big news, I've crossed the 50 000 word threshold.  The push is over.  Now, the goal is to get more chapters done so that I have a buffer.  As it stands, I have fifteen completed chapters, one in an incomplete episode.  So, it'd be nice to get a little more done before November 30.

My supporting cast grew over the past week, to the point where I took the time to work out some potential names.  With the new names, I have new antagonists to be introduced.  So far, the conflict has been kept within the main cast.  At some point, I need them to deal with external problems.  I'm not ready for the invasion yet - a murder is needed before that happens - so a new source of conflict has to come up.  That conflict has been introduced and just needs to have the first main incident written, a scene that I had in mind before NaNo started.

I've finally got my cast into the mecha of the title, and even that is just in simulations.  I've adjusted the size of the mecha for the series.  When Mecha Academy was first conceived, the mecha were going to be around 20 metres tall, minimum.  As I've worked on the story's background, I've reduced the size.  Now, there's an evolution in how mecha are used in the settings, starting from exoskeletons meant for moving cargo to powered armour to oversized powered armour standing about two to three metres tall.  Mecha aren't walking tanks but force multipliers for infantry.

Mecha Academy is an older idea that had some work done to it already.  I'm not able to just dump what I've done already into the work, though.  Mecha Academy is so far off script that many of the later ideas are no longer valid.  The relationships have developed in a different direction.  There is still hostility, but not the full out physical assaults of the original idea, not this far in.  Some ideas can stay, they're not dependent on the characters' actions.  This is why I prefer iterative editing instead of full on re-writes.  Details get changed.  An edit pass will find problems and let me correct for what I want.  A re-write will result in something completely different.

Coming in the final days of NaNo - adding more words.  I have a scene to aim for and, if I run into a roadblock, Subject 13 and The Devil You Know to work on.

24 Nov 2017

The Devil You Know - Chapter 19

Gemma had a talk with Ione.
Karen came out of the bathroom, drying her hands with a towel.  "Ben, what's going on?"

Jack stood behind Ione.  "You're going by Ben now?"

"You have no power here!"  Ben tried to push past Ione.  "Begone!"

Ione pushed back against Ben.  "Hey, wait!"

"Ben, what are you doing?"  Karen grabbed one of Ben's arms and tried pulling him back in.  "Ione?  What's going on?"

23 Nov 2017

The Devil You Know - Commentary 18 - Delay

Despite crossing the 50 000 word mark on Tuesday, I wasn't able to write the commentary this week.  The events in Chapter 18 deserve more than dashed off remarks.  The commentary will be up when it gets done.

Friday, confession is good for a soul, in the The Devil You Know Chapter 19.
Also Friday, over at Psycho Drive-In, remaking another MST3K featured movie, Manhunt in Space.
Saturday, over at The Seventh Sanctum, going for broke with remaking Manos: The Hands of Fate.

21 Nov 2017

NaNoWriMo 2017 Mid-Week Update

I've hit 50 000 words.

This isn't the earliest I've hit 50k. The Soul Blade reached that mark, barely, on the 16th back in 2009, followed by 2008's Crossover.  However, what Mecha Academy has in common with those both seems to be a desire to be written.  I have had some amazing days without trying this year.  And the story's not done yet.  It has barely begun.  I'll need a few more episodes and an editing session before I think about posting it here, but the series is starting to shape up.  I did what I wanted to do, and this year, the writing just flew.

19 Nov 2017

NaNoWriMo 2017 Week 3 Update

Total Words: 47 087
Words Since Last Update: 20 307
Completed Chapters: Episode 1 chapters 7, 8, 9; Episode 2 chapters 1, 2, 3

The end's in sight.  The chapters keep coming.  I have no idea where I'm going.  Yay, NaNo!

The third week is when the doldrums traditionally hit.  Somehow, I'm still going despite them.  This is possibly my best year at this point in November.  And yet, when the first arc wrapped up, I had no idea what would happen next.  The original idea was an early map, but I'm now off where I had marked "Here be dragons."  Much of the original plan is obsolete.  Ideas that can return aren't due yet, so now what?

Fortunately, in the first arc, I kept mentioning an event in Lars' hometown.  Ric wanted to check it out, though I didn't know why at the time.  So, off four-fifths of the main cast went, with new character Susanna tagging along.  Meanwhile, Dusty has stayed behind and was more or less ordered to go have fun in Shelter Cove, where the main spaceport is.  This, I hope, lets me contrast the groups.  The fair-going group is having a good time together and learning about each other while Dusty is coming to terms with being herself.  However, I need some excitement.  Two men with guns are going to break through a door somewhere.

The first arc finally wrapped up.  Again, I used the event I kept mentioning, the obstacle course, as the end piece.  This time, though, all of the main cast showed up.  I also set up a few other conflicts.  Miyami has a secret which Dusty is aware of.  Rhiannon wants her title to be kept quiet.  Lars and Ric, though, they haven't said anything about having a secret.  Either they don't have one, which would be a pain for me, or they haven't revealed anything.  Lars will get a bye here; he's dealing with Susanna.  Ric, though...

Coming up, a bit of excitement for the split party, some insight on Dusty who has been a bit of a black box for readers so far, and, possibly, 50 000 words.

17 Nov 2017

The Devil You Know - Chapter 18

Ione scrounged up money for Jack's trip to the casino.
Ione's dream of a chocolate warehouse exploding was cut off by the ringing of the phone.  She groaned as she tried to remember through the fog of sleep where she was.  The phone blared again, getting cut off by Mara answering it, her voice raspy.  Ione pushed herself up, willing herself to get moving.  "Ione, are you up?" Mara asked.


"That was Jack.  He's waiting in the lobby for you."

"Good for him."  Ione heard Mara's sharp bark of laughter.  "I'm up."  The brunette rolled out of bed.  "Do you need the bathroom?"

Mara threw off her covers.  "You go ahead."

Ione opened her sports bag.  She stared at her jeans for a moment, then passed over them for her new  cream skirt.  Ione reached for her new shirt, then stopped as she spied her corset under her jeans.  Even though Jack asked her to bring the corset, she had decided to pack it.  When she bought it, she had made sure that it would match her jacket, just in case.  Ione grabbed the corset and a fresh pair of underwear, the padded to the bathroom.

When Ione came back out, Mara was up and out of bed.  The redhead turned to look.  "Looking sharp, Ione."

"Thanks."  Ione sat down on the edge of the bed to pull on her boots.  "Are you coming down with me?"

"Jack said he was waiting for you.  He never mentioned me."

16 Nov 2017

The Devil You Know - Commentary 17

Getting Jack his money, in The Devil You Know Chapter 17.

The Hôtel de Paris is another real location.  Monte Carlo isn't that big and shoehorning another luxury hotel in the city wasn't something I was up for at this point in writing.  I didn't even know Jack was going to bring Ione here when I started.  Pantsing, bringing excitement to writing!

My French got another work out this chapter.  I think most of the dialogue is just me exercising my own knowledge, without having to touch a translation site.  I did check an online menu locally to check how "club sandwich" translated.  Here's what was said, if you don't want to bother translating yourself:
"Oui.  C'est le club sandwich?" -> "Yes.  That's the club sandwich."
"Oui, madelle." -> "Yes, miss."  (Madelle is the equivalent to Ms, really, but translation also includes gist, not just word-for-word.)
"Sur le bureau, merci." -> "On the desk, thanks,"
"Non, non madelle.  Monsieur Jack a arrangé pour tout.  Merci." -> "No, no miss.  Mister Jack arranged for everything."
"Oui, ici chambre trois quartoirse.  Nous voulons deux tortes chocolates et deux Cokes, s'il vous plait." -> "Yes, this is room three fourteen. We want two chocolate tortes and two Cokes, please."
"Oui, parfait.  Merci!" -> "Yes, perfect.  Thanks!"
Ione is fluent in French, probably way more than I am.  However, her accent, which I didn't describe properly, is Montrealais, which tends to be nasal.  Oui, normally sounding like "oo-wee" with the first syllable cut short, comes out as "oo-way", and imagine that pronounced by Fran Drescher.  To get the full effect, I recommend the film Bon Cop, Bad Cop, which uses French Canadian accents for humour and as a clue to why the villain is on a killing spree.  Hint: I recognized the villain's French accent from being from Western Canada.  I had a French instructor in university from Saskatchewan one semester, than a Montrealais instructor the following semester.  They pointed out the differences in accents in class.

Mara is a very sensual woman and very comfortable with her body.  She may be the one character I've written who has no issues with her appearance across all the stories I've worked on.  Get undressed in the middle of a crowded room?  It's not a big deal for her, and, as seen in Chapter 12, she doesn't believe in underwear.  There is a reason and it will be revealed in Chapter 19.  Meanwhile, enjoy the idea that she has a cleavage of holding.

The idea of computer work, like hacking a government database or selling Dunning-Krugerrands sounds exciting.  Visually, it's just someone staring at a screen and possibly typing.  These days, hacking can be done at a push of a button provided that all the coding and compiling is already complete.  So, how did Ione cash in her BitCoins?  With a few clicks.  It's a key moment for her, demonstrating that she is top notch in her field.  Her field just doesn't make for exciting action.  And to earn my place on some NSA agent's watch list, I researched crypto-currency including then-current exchange rates and how to turn BitCoins into real money.  Later in The Devil You Know, I cement my place on the list.  Writing and research, perfect for raising suspicions in intel agents everywhere.

Friday, Gemma catches up, in the The Devil You Know Chapter 18.
Also Friday, over at Psycho Drive-In, continuing the remakes MST3K featured movies, with Robot Holocaust.
Saturday, over at The Seventh Sanctum, remaking another MST3K featured movie, Manhunt in Space.

12 Nov 2017

NaNoWriMo 2017 Week 2 Update

Total Words: 26 780
Words Since Last Update: 15 170
Completed Chapters: 4, 5, 6

Mecha Academy progresses!  Many more words have been written since the end of Week 1.  Chapters are completed!  Conflicts are happening!  Let's see where things stand.

First as mentioned last week, Mecha Academy is an older project that I'm redoing from scratch.  I have some scenes in mind, but they're starting to look less and less likely to happen.  That's why I try not to do full rewrites - I go off on new tangents.  So, that leaves iterative edits.

Second, when I get into a groove when writing, I tend to forget details, mostly names.  I've spelled Lars' last name two different ways and a rifle model had a number changed from its introduction to its next mention in the next paragraph.  Oops.  Fortunately, all this is fixable during a break from writing.  Repairs are easier than creation.

Third, I was able to get ahead of pace far faster than I expected.  I've only had two days where I didn't reach even the minimum word count, 1667, to maintain a good NaNo pace.  I'm still a few days ahead of pace despite that.

That covered, the story is still coming along.  Conflicts are building up.  The conflict between Rhiannon and Dusty escalated to physical violence.  Miyami has taken Rhiannon's side, leaving Dusty sleeping on a couch for now.  Ric is trying to keep the squad together despite the history Dusty and Rhiannon share.  Lars, alas, hasn't gotten his own conflict yet.  Instead, he's getting the romance, so far one sided.  A few new characters have appeared, ones not mentioned in the original work, including a sergeant handling the training regimen for the cadets and Susanna, who has her sights on Lars.

The chapters are running longer than they did in Unruly.  I'm letting them go as long as needed for now, but I did have to cut Chapter 5 off.before it took over.  It was starting to look more like my earlier works, where I hadn't figured out chaptering.  I did have a good place to end it, letting me change the point of view and the tone in Chapter 6.

I'm building up to the first major event, an obstacle course that will determine who stays and who leaves.  One of the points I keep returning to is that the squad has to act together, even if they can't stand each other.  This needs to pay off.  I also need to get Miyami to be willing to tolerate Dusty.  One of the changes from the original idea has Miyami be far more a royalist than before.  Miyami knows the history between Dusty and Rhiannon and isn't afraid to show where her loyalties are.  I need her to start wondering about Dusty.  I did slip that in, but it's subtle.

Part of my goals during NaNoWriMo is to maintain my life and not become a hermit.  Some of that is done by getting out to write-ins, a social occasion where everyone writes.  It is surprisingly productive.  I also still get out to most of my gaming, though the missed session isn`t because of NaNo.  My life now, though, also includes this blog and Lost in Translation.  While the Friday fiction posts are usually written well in advance, the commentaries aren't.  Likewise, Lost in Translation is typically done a few days before the day it goes live.  In the past, I've dropped the commentary near the end of November because I couldn't think of what to say.  This year, I'm trying a new approach that I thought would be easier - taking a Mystery Science Theatre 3000 episode and writing on how the featured movie could be remade better.  Easier, right.  Danger!! Death Ray ran over 2000 words, over a day's worth of work in NaNo alone.  I may have to rethink this approach.

Coming up, the obstacle course to wrap up the first arc.  After that, I need to get the cast into their mecha and let slip Dusty's past to the rest of her class.  I need this to work out well and leave some questions with the audience so that the legal drama coming much, much later can call back to it.

10 Nov 2017

The Devil You Know - Chapter 17

Ione explained how she tracked Babbage.
The limousine passed through the border between France and Monaco without Ione noticing the change.  To her, the road continued with just a sign indicating the border.  She did notice a few agents, but the agents did not seem to see the limo.  Not that it mattered to her.  Ione just wanted to stretch for a bit.  Mara managed to avoid a few traffic snarls, but a collision lost them some time.

Mara brought the limo to a stop outside l'Hôtel de Paris.  Valets walked over and opened the passenger doors while the red haired driver got out to open the trunk.  Ione stepped out, then stretched.  She heard her spine crack.  Groaning, she followed Jack inside.  The lobby took Ione's breath away with its marble floors, crystal chandelier, and arched ceiling.  Jack brought the brunette to a chair.  "Wait here.  Try not to call attention to yourself."

Ione looked around at the people in the lobby.  "How?  I think they might be calling the police to take me away for vagrancy."

9 Nov 2017

The Devil You Know - Commentary 16

On the road to Monte Carlo, in The Devil You Know Chapter 16.

Modern technology really helps writers working on contemporary novels.  There is so much available a search engine inquiry away.  Need a hotel?  Ta-daa!  Need to know what bistros are around?  Ta-daa!  Need to know the flight speed of an unladen swallow?  Ta-daa!  Directions, flight schedules, maps, photos, anything that may be needed but difficult to get out to obtain is easy to find.  When I needed to figure out how long it would take for Mara to get from Paris to Monte Carlo, I chose two landmarks in both locations, then checked Google Maps for directions.  Much easier than the method I was taught in high school geography, which was to measure the length of a road with a sheet of paper, turning it and marking the sheet when the road curved, then figuring out the total distance on the paper and multiplying that by the map's scale.  Google Maps even helpfully calculates driving time and points out where traffic is backed up.  All I had to do was apply the Mara factor, where she would ignore speed limits and possibly physics and add in time spent at pit stops.

The full quote Ione refers to is, "The avalanche has already started.  It is too late for the pebbles to vote."  Ambassador Kosh was well known for such adages.  In essence, events are in motion, it's too late to bail now.  Ione is finding herself swept up in what's happening, whether she wants to be there or not.  She did have a chance to say no, back in Chapter 7; she just didn't.

Ione's explanation of crypto-currency came from a brief but intense bit of research.  I knew of BitCoins prior to starting the story; they were the reason why Ione got involved.  However, details were needed to make it look like Ione knew what she was talking about.  BitCoins are the best known crypto-currency, but they're useless for the purpose of being money.  Few places take them as currency; there's no going into a store to purchase groceries with BitCoins.  They've been treated more as a stock investment, but even there, there is no stability.  The main use has been in two fields, for criminal endeavors and as Dunning-Krugerrands.  Not all crypto-currency shares the same fate; DogeCoins became a way for an online forum to reward members when they did something positive.

If you think Chapter 16 is shorter than Chapter 15, you'd be right.  I've mentioned it before, but it doesn't hurt to repeat it now - The Devil You Know was written as a novel, not a serial.  Chapters will take up the size they need instead of being planned to be similar sizes.  Chapter 16 is about a third the length of the previous chapter.  Ione's travelling to Monte Carlo and Jack is starting to get his ducks lined up for what he has planned there.  Other than that, not much happens, but key information is given.

Friday, hello Monte Carlo, in the The Devil You Know Chapter 17.
Also Friday, over at Psycho Drive-In, beginning a short series of remaking movies featured on MST3K, starting with Danger!!  Death Ray.
Saturday, over at The Seventh Sanctum, continuing remaking MST3K featured movies, with Robot Holocaust.

5 Nov 2017

NaNoWriMo 2017 Week 1 Update

Total Words: 11 610
Words Since Last Update: 11 610
Completed Chapters: 1, 2, 3

NaNoWriMo has begun!  This time, I'm re-creating an old project from scratch, using what I've written previously as a scaffold for this year's project.  So far, I've discovered a few new things that I hadn't realized before.  Let me introduce the characters first, though.

Rhiannon: Originally meant to be the sheltered daughter of a noble, she's not as sheltered, despite her parents best efforts.  She's taking charge early, though she is stepping up as the new heir to her father's duchy.

Lars: The local boy, big and brawny.  He's naive compared to Ric, below, but he's got a good head on his shoulders.  Lars is also now the squad's medic with first aid training, go fig.  He also already understands the basics of the Centurion training mecha, since his father's heavy farm machines have similar controls.

Ric:  He was meant originally to be the anime-style ace pilot.  Now, he's chatting up most girls his age, having hit on a barista in his first scene.  Successfully.  He's also planning on help Lars in that area.  But before pegging Ric as an MRA-type, his big asset is that he /listens/ to the women he talks to, and he's doing the same with Lars.  He's not bi, but if /Mecha Academy/ ever gets a visual treatment (TV, film, live action or animated), I do expect Ric and Lars to be shipped.

Miyami:  The underaged student and hacker of the group.  She still has that element, but she also wants to puch people.  In the junk.  Who am I to disappoint her?

Dusty:  The atoner, returning to the Empire after her parents defected.  She and Rhiannon have a history, which has come out already.  Some of the details I need for later scenes came out as well, so go me?

The big changes are that Ric and Lars have a proper intro and that Miyami wants to punch someone in the junk.  It's not that Miyami is a nasty person.  She just doesn't believe in a fair fight.

Chapter 1 is complete and was longer than expected.  I gave each of the main cast a scene of their own before bringing them together.  The cliffhanger I figured out about halfway through writing the chapter.  Chapter 2 is complete, though I had to end it before I wanted because of how long it got.  Chapter 3 focused on the big inter-character conflict, but let me sort of explore the main location; emotionally, it's not a happy chapter.  Chapter 4 got started and features the first slap.  It looks like Rhiannon and Dusty are going to have a rougher relationship than in the original plans.  Speaking of, I think I've veered off those, with only the general gist remaining.  The fun of being a pantser.

The writing process feels more natural now.  Okay, /my/ writing process feels more natural now.  I don't recommend my process to anyone, but it works for me.  The flow feels better, I'm not stopped for long for a direction, and I can get far more output than I could in 2006.  What has changed?  This is my twelvth NaNo, so I have a writing method that works for me.  I'm also writing more over the year, thanks to blogging here and to Lost in Translation.  Even the latter's 1000 words a week, typically done in one sitting, means I get regular writing done.  Fiction or metafiction, it's still writing.  Add in the commentaries for the weekly fiction posts and having to write an ending to The Soul Blade; the act of writing feels more natural now.  Not quite second nature, but I feel like I know what I'm doing now.  An added bonus, I'm not wincing at what I write anymore.  Sure, I find a few clunky lines, but overall, the writing is far more solid than with Lethal Ladies from 2006.

My goal for the coming week is to just keep adding to my word count.  NaNo is a marathon, not a sprint, and the more I can get done now, the more buffer I have if I stumble on the way.

3 Nov 2017

The Devil You Know - Chapter 16

Mara helped Ione get ready for Monte Carlo and Gemma tried to get ahead.
Ione and Mara met Jack at city hall.  If he noticed Ione's new outfit, he never said.  Instead, he told Mara to start driving.  He settled back in his seat.  Ione looked over at him.  "Where are we going?"

"Monte Carlo.  I haven't changed my mind since I left the hotel."

"I know that, but how are we getting there?"

Jack turned to look at Ione.  "We're driving.  Technically, Mara's driving and we're riding in the back."

"Driving?  How far is it?"

"For most people, ten hours."  He faced the front again.  "Mara, how long?"

"Eight hours, non-stop, depending on the traffic at the tolls."

Ione raised an eyebrow.  "Eight hours?  And what if I need to use the facilities?  What about eating?"

"I already put lunch in the car," Mara said.

"And when we stop for gas, you can use the facilities at the station.  Haven't you been on long rides before?"

Ione nodded.  "To get home from school for long weekends.  But I planned out the trip, especially when I had passengers with me."

Jack patted Ione's leather-clad leg.  "This trip is planned, other than being a last minute idea."

"So much for what the pebble wants."  Ione sat back in her seat.

2 Nov 2017

The Devil You Know - Commentary 15

Oh, Mara, in The Devil You Know Chapter 15.

As mentioned in the commentary for Chapter 12, Le Bristol is a real location.  I chose it because it was a luxury hotel and it had photos of its suites for visitors to see.  The tub is real and became the point that sealed the decision to use the hotel as the setting.  I haven't been there because the hotel is expensive, but I have an imagination.  No one pays top Euro for a tub that doesn't have hot water on demand.

If you're wondering why Ione didn't just lock the bathroom door, you're thinking ahead more than I was while I was writing.  However, who is to say that it wasn't locked?  Yes, that means there is something more to Mara than the surface, but I've been trying to hint at that with bother her and Jack anyway.  And while it is true that Mara and Ione are both women, Mara is far more comfortable in her skin than Ione is in her own.  Most people, whether they admit it publicly or not, have something about them that they wish was different, men and women alike.  Since most of The Devil You Know is written from Ione's point-of-view, even though the story is third person, the bias reflects how she feels, even about herself.  It would be a completely different story from Mara's view*.

Would the bathroom scene have happened if Ione was Ian?  It's something that I hadn't considered at the time, but with the increased sensitivity about diversity and respect of late, it's something to ask.  The answer is "maybe."  I was writing by the seat of my pants at this point, with an unplanned character who loves attention.  Mara would have walked on Ian in the tub, but I don't know if Ian would have been taking a bath or taking a shower.  There might have been some sexual tension, at least on Ian's side, which might have killed an upcoming twist.  The scene would have had a different feel, as would the shopping trip.  Mara wouldn't be looking at a possible friend like she does Ione.

The shopping trip could have been glossed over.  "With Mara's advice, Ione bought a light green blouse, a cream skirt, a backless black dress, and a pair of soft leather pants."  Done.  Except, that wasn't the goal, not that I had one when I started writing the scene.  The shopping gave Ione and Mara time together where the latter wasn't trying to flash everyone else in the scene.  Mara can be decent.  Her sense of appropriateness is completely different from Ione's, though.  However, she does want to help Ione, in her own way.  Complimenting Ione's legs was more to encourage the woman to display them more.

The return of Gemma came up when I realized that, much like The Soul Blade in 2009, the plot was happening elsewhere.  Jack was keeping his cards close to his vest, Ione was waiting for messages from Karen, and Mara was more likely to go to a strip club and put on her own show than do anything to advance the plot.  That mean switching to Karen's subplot.  Since Gemma was the mover and shaker for that element, she got to headline the scene.  When the warehouse exploded in Chapter 1, Gemma was outside.  Like Ione, she wasn't in the blast.  Gemma was one of the few planned characters for the story and I always intended for her to be involved.  With the focus on Ione, I didn't get a chance to jump back to Gemma.  But she did appear; in Chapter 3 in the silver car following Ione, in Chapter 8 waiting outside the nightclub for Ione, in Chapter 10 following Ione in a new car, and in Chapter 14 described by Karen as the intruder.  Sometimes, pantsing does allow for planning, but only if the idea comes early enough.

Gemma's reappearance was the point where I realized that I never gave Karen a last name.  With the magic of after-the-fact editing, Karen's last name is now Dietzman.  The name just never came up.  Ione may be the only character to have a first, middle, and last name.  Her sister Amy only has a last name because she's related.  Most of the time, I try to find a way to work in a last name as soon as possible.  The longer a story goes without the name drop, the more apparent the drop becomes.  Yet, the only last name that came up naturally was Ione's, thanks to Jack impersonating a police officer.  Ione doesn't use her roomie's last name in general, though she does know it, and would only use her sister's full name when upset, like how Amy did with Ione's.  It's a tough call at times; when does it make sense to include a full name?  And I'll have had to figure that out for this year's NaNoWriMo, made more interesting by having an ensemble main cast of five characters.  Whee!

Friday, on the road to Monte Carlo, in the The Devil You Know Chapter 16.
Also Friday, over at Psycho Drive-In, how the adaptation sausage is made.
Saturday, over at The Seventh Sanctum, beginning a short series of remaking movies featured on MST3K, starting with Danger!  Death Ray!!

* Mara is petitioning for her own story.  She might even get one if I can figure out a plot for her.

1 Nov 2017

NaNoWriMo 2017 Starts Now!

NaNoWriMo is go!

This summer got away from me.  Other worries were on my mind, ending with the passing of Mischief.  This ate at brain processing cycles that should have been used for working out details for November.

Thus, the project for NaNoWriMo 2017 is Mecha Academy.

I've done some work on Mecha Academy in the past, but the goal will be a rewrite, to properly introduce the characters, and give all the characters an arc, not just a certain two.  The end goal will be a serial, with three academic years worked out, at least in rough.  However, I still expect the story to take its own path.  I write by the seat of my pants, and even with what I have now, I will have to create new content which may affect the course of the story.

Let's get it on!