28 Sept 2018

dba LTV Paranormalists - Hauntings Anonymous - Chapter 11

Back Into the Warehouse

"I has a buzz."
"Happy Ginger is happy."
"I is a magicks!"
"You.  Are.  Not.  Needed!  Go.  AWAY!"
Saturday night
At the coffee shop, Ayel sat down, giving her feet a brief respite after the after-dinner rush.  She massaged the her calves, working out a tenseness she could feel growing.  Tabbie set down a tub of dishes and sat beside the blonde woman.  Ayel managed a smile for her co-worker.  "I'll get those," she offered.

"Sit.  Take your break already.  I've got these."

Ayel's smile grew genuine.  "Thanks, Tabbie."

"No problem.  Hey, where did your friends go clubbing last night?"

"Glamour Blue.  Why?  Want to head there after work and enjoy the rest of the evening?"

"You hadn't heard?

27 Sept 2018

dba LTV Paranormalists - Hauntings Anonymous - Commentary 10

Ginger banished dark spirits, in dba LTV Paranormalists Chapter 10.

And now the problem of reality interfering with a desired narrative appears.  Ayel and Kieu don't have PI licenses.  Kristi shouldn't, but she's surprised me before.  Aidan does, and that's why he's on retainer.  But if there's no evil magic or annoying spirit around, LTV Paranormalists can't investigate without risking fines from the province.  There is something in the warehouse; Ginger confirmed it.  Just not the source of the Phantom of the Warehouse.

As mentioned last week, Ginger has been to I Can Has Cheezburger.  This wasn't planned.  Ginger needed a presence in the scene.  If she was a cat, she'd be climbing over everyone to be the centre of attention.  NaNoWriMo encourages word count, not necessarily coherence, so anything that adds to the number of words is fair game as long as the words are words.  Given the two and that this was probably written during week three, when sanity has long fled, Ginger became a LOLfae.  Yet, I still wanted a reason for the new behaviour.  Zaina introduced Ginger to the Internet.  That might have been the wrong thing to do.

The material Ayel brought for Ginger is so that she can have a proper wardrobe.  A bit of research - mostly verifying tales like "The Shoemaker and the Elves" and seeing similar stories - let me realize that Ginger could make her own clothes, provided she has the cloth and thread to do so.  The catch in most of the tales is that if the human takes the elves for granted, the elves get revenge.  Here, not too much a problem; Kristi makes sure that Ginger has what she needs and some of what she wants.

Why did I pick Aztec carvings for the shipment with the "awful magicks"?  Shadowrun, mostly.  The game does go into some detail about what's known about Aztec culture, enough to give me a base to start with in researching and hand-waving.  I didn't get deep into details here; the characters don't know much so thus they are researching.  Zaina has taken some classes, first year comparitive religion and such, to give some detail.  Kieu, being slightly detatched from reality, found the Shadowrun details and didn't have the knowledge to separate those from actual history.

The new break-and-enter let me get a new detail about Kristi out.  Ayel and Kieu have family in town; Kristi doesn't, so her supporting cast tends towards roommates and classmates.  Now, she has a sister.  And since the sister has been mentioned, an appearance in a future arc isn't a sudden surprise.

The same scene let me show off Ginger.  Just how powerful is the little LOLfae?  Strong enough to unlock a garbage can and banish spirits.  I went with a skunk instead of a raccoon; both are common enough in areas around Ottawa.  However, raccoons have another role to play, one that needs to appear in the first arc.  Again, things work here without the first arc, but expand on ideas from there.  Augh!

One idea I do have for a future arc, now that Ginger has material to makes clothes, is a supernatural problem at a convention, one that includes dolls.  Not a dolls-only con, but along the lines of Doll North, part of Anime North.  Just because such a con doesn't exist in Ottawa (yet) doesn't mean one can't exist in fiction.  That way, Ginger doesn't have to be carried in a backpack, under a jacket, or in a sports bag.  She gets to be disguised as a doll herself.

What Ayel did while Ginger exorcised spirits, in Hauntings Anonymous Chapter 11, "Back into the Warehouse".
Also Friday, over at Psycho Drive-In, hiatus week because life
Saturday, over at The Seventh Sanctum, animated adaptations.

21 Sept 2018

dba LTV Paranormalists - Hauntings Anonymous - Chapter 10

Contract's Over

"Flee, or suffer my wrath!"
"The Phantom of the Warehouse made an appearance."
"There's awful magicks in there."
"Can I help it that Alex is an ass man?"
Late afternoon
Kristi led the way into her shared duplex.  "Hello?  Anyone else here?"

"I'm upstairs," Zaina called back.



Kristi stepped aside to usher in Ayel.  The tawny-haired woman opened her jacket to let Ginger jump down.  The tiny woman dashed towards the kitchen.  Kristi hung up both her jacket and Ayel's coat before going further.  Ayel took the shopping bag she carried into the living room, setting it down on the faded couch.  "There's gratitude for you," the blonde woman said.

"Try not to upset the capricious fae, Ayel."  Kristi dropped down on the couch.  "I can almost hear normally again."

Ayel sat beside Kristi.  "This is getting dangerous.  We need to tell Morton to get real security."

"But we're close, Ayel.  The Phantom wouldn't have shown up if we weren't."

"We're getting close?  Kristi, what if the next time, the Phantom decides to blow up the warehouse?"

20 Sept 2018

dba LTV Paranormalists - Hauntings Anonymous - Commentary 9

Kieu isn't quite in the pink, in dba LTV Paranormalists Chapter 9.

The problem with putting the second arc first is that some little details that set up later ones are lost.  In this case, Kieu and colours.  In the first arc, Kieu tasted the colour purple, which got a reference in Chapter 3 of this arc.  This time around, it's pink.  Of the core cast, Kristi is the one who knows Kieu the best and is well aware of her colour sensations.

Kristi is also not a ditz, despite her earlier incarnation.  She was ready in case a drink was unattended long enough to be drugged.  Aidan is being thorough, though.  Kieu is behaving as if she'd been drugged, and the prime suspects are the guys from the .warehouse.  In truth, there is something more going on.

Tim Horton's comes up a lot in the story.  While Ayel does work at a barista, her cafĂ© is based on a Bridgehead in town.  The problem with using a coffee shop like Bridgehead or Starbuck's* is that they close early, between eight and ten o'clock.  There are 24 hour Tim's all over Ottawa, and not just drive-throughs.  There's a Tim's near me that is busier after 9pm than before noon.  It makes for an easy gathering area for the characters.

Kieu got to deliver a clue.  She's reviewed the tapes sent.  She's watched the comings and goings.  Sean and Jared are now off the suspect list, for now.  Antony is looking good for being the Phantom of the Warehouse now.  Will the meddling kids catch him?  Back to the warehouse!  It's the scene of the crime, so why not?  Ayel got to be the distraction.  What the Paranormalists are doing is letting their magic expert check for magic, and it's easier to not have to explain a knee-high half-naked woman to everyone they meet.  Ginger is still a company secret.

This is the chapter where I figured out who was behind the haunting.  Confirmation is coming, but I set up a few pointers already.  Some of it was retrofitted; the who didn't include the how or why just yet.  The problem with pantsing a mystery is that I need to know whodunit before I start, but often, I haven't been able to figure that part out until the midway point.

And yes, Ginger has been to I Can Has Cheezburger.

Friday, giving spirits an exorcise, in Hauntings Anonymous Chapter 10, "Contract's Over".
Also Friday, over at Psycho Drive-In, the pros and cons of different sources.
Saturday, over at The Seventh Sanctum, hiatus week due to life.

* Starbuck's has fewer locations in downtown Ottawa than Tim's or Bridgehead.  *Tim Horton's* is the one that keeps popping up all around downtown.  Something to keep in mind if you write a coffee shop scene in Ottawa.

15 Sept 2018

NaNo 2018 - Six Weeks to Go!

It's September.  Mid-September.  NaNoWriMo is coming.  A while back, I listed some potential projects.  What have I done with them?

Nothing!  Absolutely nothing!


This isn't good.  This leads to what I did in 2015, where I wound up creating a fantasy world from scratch on the fly.  That wasn't pretty - there are plot threads still dangling all over from that year.  Let's see what I do have, though.

The time-travelling giant kaiju hunters serial needs me to research a few eras where I want a giant monster rampaging.  I don't want it all to be myth and legend, but St. George and the Dragon is tempting to recreate.  Characters are mostly worked out.  The organization is in flux, but should solidify once writing starts.  The method of time travel is a known item, though the characters aren't sure how it works.  Put this as a moderate chance of being written.

The Subject 13 time travel tale also needs research, though not as broad as the kaiju hunters.  Nasty's going to one time period.  The villain's been worked out, which will explain why Nasty and the Youth Brigade are being sent to the past.  Nasty also gets a curse placed on her because of her swearing.  The catch is that I really need to figure out what happens in 1956.  I'll have a group of teenaged heroes trapped in a town with no money and going through culture shock.  Again, this has a moderate chance of being written.

Heaven's Rejects, the story with Demona, Nadia, and Ian has had some development, including getting a working title.  I have an idea of who Nadia and Ian work for, why they're in the business of hunting demons, and a rough idea of the relationships between the cast.  Ian even now has a vehicle, a five-door Mini Cooper S.  I just need to figure out a few plotlines that happen after Nadia and Demona meet.  I'm still considering writing the serial as a reality series spoof, but that will depend on how things go.  This has a moderate-to-high chance of being written.

The two Shadowun story ideas I had, one featuring a group of runners tossed together for the first time and one that would have me try writing horror, are stalled.  I have casts, I have a start, and that's it.  They need more work.  I also want to focus on original works for now, even if the Shadowrun stories would give me an idea of how things get adapted.  Low to nil chance of being written.

That leaves Mecha Academy and Unruly continuations.  These are going to be held off in case I run into a brick wall with what I do write.  /Mecha Academy/ is slowly coming along, and I have been working out a few storylines for Unruly, including Laura's testimony.

I have six weeks to figure this out.  I've succeeded with less time, but it wasn't easy.

14 Sept 2018

dba LTV Paranormalists - Hauntings Anonymous - Chapter 9

The Phantom of the Warehouse

"I don't like this, Kristi,."
"I feel like a spotlight."
"Something about Kieu."
"We'll be right there."
Friday night
Ayel brought her van to a screeching halt outside Glamour Blue.  Aidan jumped out from the passenger's side.  After a quick look, he saw Kristi just outside the door.  The tawny-haired woman held up Kieu with help from a blond man.  Kieu's head dropped, her hair spilling over her shoulder.  Aidan waved to get Kristi's attention, then opened the sliding door.

Kristi stepped aside to let the two men get Kieu into the back.  "I've seen this happen to her before," she said.  "Sean, I'll call you later, okay?  Kieu really needs to get home to rest."

"Are you sure?"  Sean gave a worried glance at Kieu.  "I could call an ambulance."

"It's nothing.  Kieu just pushes herself past her limits all the time.  She's just exhausted."  Kristi pulled Sean away from the van.  "Trust me, okay?"  She stood on the tips of her toes and kissed the blond man on the cheek.  "Maybe we can test your endurance another night."  Before Sean could say anything, Kristi jumped into the back of the van and closed the door.

Aidan returned to the front passenger seat.  "She's buckled up.  Hospital, now."

Ayel put the van in gear.  "What happened?"

"No hospital," Kristi said.  "Kieu was dancing then just stopped."

"Pink," Kieu mumbled.  She tried to raise her head.

13 Sept 2018

dba LTV Paranormalists - Hauntings Anonymous - Commentary 8

Kristi and Kieu double date to further the investigation, in dba LTV Paranormalists Chapter 8.

If I had known the investigation would lead to a nightclub, I'd have sent it elsewhere.  I don't go to nightclubs - too many people.  So, I did what writers do; I researched the crap out of the setting, added details from personal experience, then turned everything into a fictional setting so that no one would be the wiser.  Then gloss over things so that readers only see what the characters do.  It's a useful skill to hone and have in a writer's toolbox.

Kieu's bias against blondes came up in Chapter 3.  She's getting better, but it all depends on her sleep cycle.  Ayel being reasonable with her is helping Kieu realize that it wasn't every blonde out to get her.  But, Ayel does have a point.  Kieu isn't completely tethered to reality.  Still, I needed Kieu and Ayel to start getting along.  Having that brief chat starts to mend the rift.

If I have a double date going on, then I should show at least some of it.  Kristi gets to interrogate while hitting on a buff warehouse dude.  Whether she's completely into him will be left for the reader.  She is using a few techniques I've heard of, mainly through discussions with real people, to keep Sean's interest.  I know I am dialogue heavy.  What I've developed is working out what everyone is doing along with talking.  Thus, Kristi is flirting, Sean has a drink, Kieu takes to dancing like she's done it from birth.

Ayel and Aiden get to play cavalry.  If something goes wrong, they get to rush over and save the day.  It gives me time to show more of Aidan, the lone male of the team.  He gets a proper intro in the missing first arc, but since that's not there...  The goal I had with Aidan was to have someone who didn't look like a PI be the PI.  He's not hard boiled.

Aidan does have a license to carry a pistol, related to his security and private investigation license.  Kristi, though, has a Possession and Acquisition License completely unrelated to the business.  She's from Northern Ontario, as mentioned two weeks ago.  When she goes out into the wilderness, she has a rifle handy just in case.  She keeps up with shooting as a way to let off steam   The idea came out while writing the first arc; in that moment, Kristi went from hippy-dippy to complex in my head.

Naturally, the end of the chapter is a cliffhanger.  It's an old standard in serials of all types.  How else do creators make sure the audience returns?  The key is making sure the payoff meets up with expectations.

Friday, in dreams he came, in Hauntings Anonymous Chapter 9, "The Phantom of the Warehouse".
Also Friday, over at Psycho Drive-In, a bonus /Bond/ Project entry with Octopussy.
Saturday, over at The Seventh Sanctum, the pros and cons of different adaptation sources.

7 Sept 2018

dba LTV Paranormalists - Hauntings Anonymous - Chapter 8

Sacrificial Virgin

"I met these two guys who want to go meet up with me and a friend."
"What are you doing Friday night?"
"I'm just going dancing.  I think."
"I want proof your went, though."
Friday night
"I don't like this, Kristi," Ayel said.  She sat down across the table from her business partner.  "First of all, we don't know if these two are involved.  Second, I'm not going to be done here until well after ten tonight.  If you run into trouble before then, I won't be able to do anything."

Kristi sipped her tea.  "Done?"

Ayel crossed her arms.  "Yeah, done."

"Good.  It's out of your system."  Kristi reached out to pat Ayel's arm.  "And I won't be alone.  I'll have Kieu with me."

"I feel oh so much more reassured now."  Ayel tapped the table.  "Kristi, you know Kieu better than I do, but she doesn't strike me as being all that tethered to reality.  You'd be better off with Ginger there."

"You just don't like Kieu."

Ayel stared at the tawny-haired woman.  "Kieu doesn't like me.  Because of my hair."  She held out a lock of her blonde tresses.  "Remember?" 

"We'll be fine."  Kristi looked at the time on her phone.  "If she shows up.  Where is that girl."

6 Sept 2018

dba LTV Paranormalists - Hauntings Anonymous - Commentary 7

Movie night, in dba LTV Paranormalists Chapter 7.

Ever wonder where characters get the money for everything they do?  It's not so bad if a character with a decent job with benefits has an odd luxury here and there.  Students, though, typically don't have much money to spare after tuition and text books.  Kristi should have a summer job, though some of her background hasn't been fully explored yet.  How she's earning money over the summer to pay for her rent, tuition, and books hasn't been part of the story like Ayel's barista job has.  Kieu, too, should have a summer job, to pay for all the electronic gadgets she has and creates.  The problem she has is that she gets hyperfocused on her studies to the point of sleep deprivation, making it difficult to get past the interview stage.  Kieu doesn't need rent money, just tuition and text books, and while student loans will cover some of the costs, they don't cover the full needs of someone in Computer Science, like a fully functional computer or two.  How does she get around that?  Patents on things she's created while sleep deprived.  It works for her.

Ginger's personality is like a playful cat.  She isn't based on any one cat I've had, but I've used some of their behaviours in her personality.  Being one of the Wee Folk, modern technology is magical to her.  She knows what movies are, in part thanks to Kristi for trying to keep her occupied.  Video recordings are another level of understanding.  I haven't defined her magic.  It's unlikely that Ginger could explain how she performs her magic; she just does it.  From the author's view, though, that's not helpful on knowing her limitations.  Research into faerie magic didn't help; myth and legend tend to not give absolutes.  Turning a few people invisible is within the realm, though.

This chapter didn't originally follow the previous one.  I removed an entire chapter.  It didn't fit here; it works best as the third or fourth chapter of the previous, unpublished, arc.  It's essentially a dream sequence, except that it wasn't just a dream.  That chapter also got me to realize what the main drive of the series would be.  In short, when North American got colonized by Europeans, it wasn't just colonists that came over, but also their myths and legends.  Same thing with Asians and Africans, their myths and legends came over along with the people.  However, some legendary creatures aren't friendly.  The fae are trying to dominate, and the local legends are fighting back.  This led to a few questions I couldn't answer properly, so some changes, none of which affects the current arc, but still had to be addressed.

Friday, Friday night is for dancing, in Hauntings Anonymous Chapter 8, "Sacrificial Virgin".
Also Friday, over at Psycho Drive-In, a bonus Bond Project entry with Octopussy.
Saturday, over at The Seventh Sanctum[http://codex.seventhsanctum.com], Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within.

5 Sept 2018

Does Reading Fiction Help Writing Fiction?

One common piece of advice given to writers is to read.  Read widely.  See how published authors craft words.  However, Steve Savage has a differing view:
The best way to write fiction is to read, watch, and listen to anything but fiction.
Emphasis is his.  As he explains, by reading, you're learning how to write - how to show emotions, how to plot a story, and so on.  The catch here, though, is that reading doesn't necessarily lead to new ideas.  By reading non-fiction, the potential writer is open to new ideas that may spark an original work.  Steve is a little tired of adapations being the order of the day.  I have some disagreement, seeing I study adaptions[http://psychodrivein.com/category/columns/lost-in-translation/], but he has a point.  Original works have to come from somewhere.

Serdar Yegulalp of Genji Press took Steve's challenge to write down inspirations that don't come from existing fiction and, well, not listed his inspirations but explained where they came from.  So, I figured, why not take up the challenge myself.

I don't think I can come with a list like Steve did, but I have a rough idea where my ideas come from.  I can pinpoint specific influences on several stories, but in general, I have a lot filed in my head under I, for "It Might Be Useful Someday".  NFB videos, various odd jobs I've had, tabletop RPGs (I'll come back to this), discussions with friends and co-workers, discussions on online fora, classes from high school and university, commentary tracks on DVDs, and random Internet searches, watching cats, all little tidbits that get placed away.  At some point two tidbits collide and /poof/ inspiration happens.  Except it's never that simple.

Inspiration is just the first step.  I have notes in a folder of ideas and concepts that still need to be fleshed out.  Characters need creating.  Settings need building.  Plots need plotting.  No amount of reading someone else's story will get that done.  Reading about how they did it is another matter.  Even if that author's approach doesn't mesh with mine, I do have to consider why the approach doesn't work for me, giving me more insight on how I write.  The tidbits I know get expanded during the research stage before writing.  I might be a pantser, but I still need to know details before I can even get started.

I mentioned tabletop RPGs as an influence.  Aren't RPGs a type of fiction?  Yes and no.  The settings are fictional, but the game needs to quantify the elements within to work with the mechanics.  Several games don't come with a pre-made setting in the core.  Several more do, but also give GMs a way to create their own.  I both of these cases, there are chapters on how to build a world.  Between those chapters and classes I took in Geography in high school and university, I have a better idea of how a world comes together.

Not quite a list.  Hard to make a list when so much comes from diverse beginnings.  I could break it down by story, but, even then, I could miss a tidbit or two.  What I will say is, Steve has a point.  Breadth of knowledge is useful when writing.  Reading, watching, and listening to fiction helps in the presentation; reading, watching, and listening to non-fiction gets the details.

Now go forth and take up Steve's challenge.  Write down your inspirations for written fiction that aren't fictional or aren't written, post them, and link to Steve, then challenge others to do the same.  Have fun!