kaigou: Happy typing on mac. (1 Hyperbole and a half)
This summer I attended a writing retreat, and the critique I got back from the instructor made a number of corrections in capitalization. I was kinda like, hunh? because no one else has ever noted an issue with the same, until nagasvoice's comment in another post.

(I don't recall ever being taught the rules of punctuation/grammer/capitalizing in school -- fiction-writing wasn't ever a major focus, as I recall -- so I've mostly gone by what I read in books, and using that style. I guess you could say osmosis and a bit of logical guesswork taught me things like that punctuation goes inside the quotes (at least in US-based publications), etc.)

Normally, I'd write a sentence with dialogue like this.

"Hello," they said.

The entire sentence is hello-they-said. First word is 'hello', so it's capitalized. Since 'they' is not the first word and not a proper-name, it's not capitalized. Thus, it made sense to me that when the order is rearranged, the capitalizing is also rearranged:

They said, "hello."

I'm pretty sure this is a pattern I've read plenty, 'cause I had to have gotten the impression from somewhere that this is alright. It's also why/how I learned that when you've got a tag in the middle, capitalizing is still applied as an overall:

"Yesterday," she said, "it was sunny."

First, 'yesterday' is the first word. Second, the actual sentence -- 'yesterday it was sunny' is an entire sentence and the tag 'she said' is just inserted. Similar to the way if I had [ed: hi there] in the middle, it inserts, not halts the sentence and forces a new one. It's like a paren.

In my mind, if I've got a sentence like the following:

"Yesterday it was sunny," she said. "We napped."

...then the "we" gets capitalized because it's a new sentence; if it hadn't been, then it'd be a comma after 'said', not a period, and there'd need to be some kind of a tag -- ie, 'and', 'but', etc -- before 'we' to indicate there was more to the first sentence.

I'm not sure whether this is a house-style thing or just something I've completely misread/ignored all these years.

kaigou: winter castle (6 winter castle)
For those of you who'd read before and were sitting on the urge to critique, you can get your chance now. I'm working my way through revising the first story. Formerly known as Tsiu 1, now (working title, at least) Weaving Girl's Orchard.

If you want to get on the filter, shoot me a reply. Since I'll be posting again from the beginning, you don't have to have read it already.

current teaser-draft:

Kini has always abided by her family's rule: work hard and keep your head down. It's the only way to survive when your mountain village straddles the border between hostile provinces. When an injured mountain-spirit is threatened, Kini is the only one willing to protect it. She'll have to navigate between treacherous monks and suspicious nobles, in a province on the brink of war, if she's to save a lost mountain-spirit who may not even be what it seems.

First chapter is here.
kaigou: have some tea with your round cake (3 tea and cake)
Welp, I took a break and read/listened to some really good advice about structuring and pacing things, and realized that tackling the first story changed things so much that the impact would filter down. So, rather than continue on with the 3rd story, I'm going back to the beginning and doing a major revision on the 1st story.

First chapter, y'all, hot off the keyboard.

The lion-dogs were playing in the clearing when Kini arrived at the shrine. The two rock-gray puppies tumbled through the drifts of early autumn leaves, more intent on chasing a red-winged flit than paying Kini any mind. Their thick curly manes were tangled with sticks and bits of leaves, and their pink tongues lolled. They weren’t much higher than her knees, about the size of small stone guardians.

That seemed fitting. It was a rather small shrine, after all.

Well, then. Her sister had said if the dogs were around, then the huokei would be, too. Kini shuffled through the rain-damp leaves, kicking them aside to find the stepping stones that marked the proper path. The shrine itself wasn't much bigger than the moss-eaten idol it housed, and it listed precariously to one side. Its roof-shingles were green from weeds taken root, and the carved doors hung askew on their rotting wooden hinges.

Behind and to one side lay the monk-house, now a jumble of rotting wood and broken roof-tiles. In the clearing's other corner stood the mountain-god’s home, a fancy term for little more than a hut on stilts. In Sizija, it was a mansion in its own right, three rooms only ever seen by the mountain-god and its attendants. Here, it was one room, maybe not even big enough for one person to sleep. No wonder the mountain-god had been so happy to move to the big shrine.

Huokei were shy, preferred solitude, and would play nasty tricks if they felt disrespected, but this huokei had been injured. The big shrine at Sizija would've given it proper hospitality, but that was two miles away. The two rooms in their house were already crammed with five children and three adults, so that wasn't an option, either. The only choice left was this forgotten shrine-yard, with the benefit that it was closer to where Sozu found the huokei. To Kini's mind, though, the shrine's solitude lay solely in being abandoned. She wasn't sure it qualified as being respectful to offer what no one else wanted.

Kini sighed. Now she was stuck delivering the offerings. )

kaigou: Roy Mustang, pondering mid-read. (1 pondering)
Was thinking I'd go with titles based on constellations*, which in turn have legends (in the story's world) that relate to a story's themes. So far I've got the following + the constellation's basic theme. Some of these have also already been referenced in drafts, though I was still solidifying what was where and the references/uses.

Short pondering behind the cut. )

I used to come up with names so much easier than I do now. I have no idea why it's gotten so hard.
kaigou: (6 Yuon)
Back from the writing retreat, and did get a bunch written (but did a lot more talking than writing, which was fine and very informative and whatnot). Here's one snippet written as 'homework', because our crit-leader was mean teacherly like that.

Khuojeung eased himself into the cushioned seat while Yuon's guard tested the tea. With a slight bow, the man backed away: not poisoned.

"Khuo, you've no decent reason to haul your ass out of that sick bed." Yuon poured tea for both of them and set the pot aside. "I could order you back to bed, you know."

"And I would have to go, of course, but then you'd miss the pleasure of my company."

"I'd also miss the guilt of knowing you weren't resting."

Khuojeung smiled and tried the tea. Dark, with hints of nutmeg and cardamon, the latest fashion in Huulqulku spiced tea. "I'm here for a reason."

"I didn't think you were here to discuss the tides." Yuon picked up her own cup and sat back, pushing her thick braid over her shoulder. Her hair held a few more strands of silver than she'd had the last time the cousins had seen each other, almost a year before. "You'd better not be here to discuss my littlest--" She halted at Khuojeung's smile, and set her cup down on the table hard enough to splash tea. "Oh, don't even. I've wasted enough time on him already."

Really? From what I've seen, you've done your best to forget he exists. )
kaigou: have some tea with your round cake (3 tea and cake)
Over on Dribble of Ink, there's an essay that had me pondering the way we write fantasy, in the modern world. “Broader Fantasy Foundations Pt IV: The Tale of Genji, and Building the World of the Shining Prince”, in which Gladstone comments:
[Demonic possession and ghosts in Tale of Genji] are unexplained, but they’re not treated as explicitly supernatural within the narrative, since we’re talking about a time before Enlightenment nature-supernature distinctions arose. Ghosts and demons and gods are edge cases of Genji’s reality, but they’re not any less real than the people he encounters on a day to day basis.

[The] fantastical does not seem fantastical to locals. Genji’s reaction to a ghost, or to a demonic possession, is not the Lovecraftian narrator’s “THAT IS UNPOSSIBLE” followed by a prolonged paragraph on circles of firelight, mad dancing beyond the edges of reality, etc., so much as “HOLY SHIT, GHOST!” He—and the other people in his world—are afraid of ghosts because they are dangerous and terrifying, not because they represent a hole in a world system that does not incorporate them.
I didn't even need to add that emphasis; Gladstone did it already for me.

In a sidebar, Gladstone also notes:
Notably, the reaction to a hole in one’s world system varies widely even within the modern age. Folks who just live in the modern world system tend to have the Lovecraft reaction to the holes they discover; scientists, though—and philosophers—respond, or should respond, by examining the edges of the hole and trying to peer through. I can think of two great examples of this in modern fantasy: in Elizabeth Bear’s Eternal Sky novels, the wizards of Tsarepeth are presented as scientists and scholars with a near-modern understanding of the spread of disease. When they discover a demon plague that spreads through miasma, they’re initially flummoxed—since they’ve long known miasma theory to be false. Facts force them to revise their theory, in proper fashion. The Myth of the Man-Mother in Pat Rothfuss’s The Wise Man’s Fear is another example, played for humor—hyper-rational Kvothe fails to convince a friend of his that men have any role in the conception of children, since his arguments all devolve to an appeal to authority. The best part about this: it’s entirely possible that pregnancy just works differently in the Four Corners universe—or works differently among different peoples there.
A day or so later, Katherine Addison (Sarah Monette) wrote The Emperor and the Scullery Boy: Quests and Coming-of-Age Stories, in which she remarked that
...there are female protagonists in fantasy who quest. Mary Brown’s The Unlikely Ones, to pick a random example, is as straightforward a plot coupon fantasy quest as you can ask for (and it still ends in marriage). But they’re swimming valiantly against an undertow, which is the great preponderance of young men who come of age in fantasy by questing. I’m thinking particularly of the trope of the Scullery Boy Who Would Be King, and I can reel off examples by the cartload, from Lloyd Alexander’s Taran to Robert Jordan’s Rand Al’Thor. (Scullery Girls Who Would Be Queen are so rare as to be nearly nonexistent.) Fairy tales, too, are full of these young men, scullery boys or woodcutters’ youngest sons or vagrants, and there’s even a version of the motif in The Lord of the Rings: although Aragorn is not a child, his path through the trilogy is very distinctly from undervalued outsider to King of Gondor. All of them are the protagonists of bildungsromans, of quests, and the pattern they trace inexorably has shaped and continues to shape the way we think about fantasy as a genre and what we think it can do.

I don’t want to argue against bildungsromans in fantasy—far from it. I don’t want to argue against quests, or even against scullery boys. But I want to argue for awareness of the patterns that we have inherited—the grooves in the record of the genre, if you don’t mind a pun—and for awareness that patterns are all that they are. There’s no reason that scullery boys have to turn out to be kings. There’s no reason that women’s bildungsromans have to end in marriage. There’s no reason that fantasy novels have to be quests. It’s just the pattern, and it’s always easier to follow the pattern than to disrupt it.
Both essays are (obviously) worth reading, but that single line -- "Scullery Girls Who Would Be Queen are so rare as to be nearly nonexistent" -- started me thinking. There must be at least one out there, somewhere. Isn't there?

Hello? Hello? Don't tell me those are crickets I'm hearing.
kaigou: please hold. all muses are busy, but your inspiration is important to us. (3 all muses are busy)
"No one else came to serve us, and I didn't even see any sign of someone listening from the corridor," Nakayari said. "Why did you test the staff, then?"

"Oh, the staff certainly understood enough," Tsiu said. "Little grandmother taught me that people will always find something to talk about. Since I didn't want people talking about who we'd met for tea, or wondering why, then I needed to give them something of greater interest."

"That you might buy a tea house?"

"That'd I'd buy it for you," Tsiu corrected. "It's the kind of thing my mother would've done." And did, a few times, which was why Tsiu hadn't led Nakayari -- and the trailing Ozolekh and his wife -- to the more popular tea hall at the other end of the financial street. "Also, that you were less than enthused about the idea."

"I'd hardly know what to do with such a place," Nakayari muttered. "I don't even know how to make the tea you have here. It comes in little bricks. What do I do with that?"

"Steep it." Tsiu considered several other things to say, and settled for honesty. "You're from Nasoyunukona. You may be more subtle than most, with your short-sword under your robe instead of over it, but the reputation of your fellow countrymen precedes you. The last thing anyone would expect you to want, or care about, would be some tea hall. It's not a Nasoyunukona kind of business."

Nakayari looked mystified. "Then what is?"

"War." Tsiu looked down the street to the financial hall, where Sozu and Sindhu waited, trailed by Kini and the under-consorts. "Business is complete, I see. Let's see if anyone wants to eat now, before we head back to the palace."
kaigou: Happy typing on mac. (1 Hyperbole and a half)
Times like this, I'm reminded of one of the earliest non-fiction books my parents gave me. The Weaker Vessel was authored by Antonia Fraser, better known (at the time, at least, from what I gathered) as a romance writer. One with intense research skills, though, who in the course of doing some historical digging on a new novel, ended up with enough data to write a serious doorstop tome about women's roles before, during, and after the English Civil War.

Sometimes I feel like I'm on a similar track, myself. Except my instinct is: I should take all this info and put it into a searchable database.

Saving notes here, collected from various academic articles/essays. This will probably interest exactly zero people, other than me. )
kaigou: (1 olivia is not impressed)
For those unfamiliar, the culture I've been writing about is one with five genders. The first four are male or female gender-types; the fifth gender is neither all-male nor all-female. The neutral pronoun is used for agender, all-gender, and children until puberty. The awkwardness rests in the fact that I'm contrasting one language -- that lacks a neutral -- with another language that has a neutral... and all of it's written in English, which (duh) lacks an official/widespread neutral. Ugh. Not sure how it reads.

"Afakh wants to end the consort-alliance," Tsiu said, in quiet Nasoyunukona-yen, layered with a Ujira accent. "Afakh's talked this over plenty with Afakh's Second Brother. That's Ozolekh," Tsiu added. Nakayari wondered if Tsiu intended to make it harder for Ozolekh to understand; the man's head was up, eyes sharp, the look of a man who understood at least some of what was being said. "Afakh is third-soul, and wants to enter the temple." Before Nakayari or Kini could reply, Tsiu straightened up and switched to Heichunha. "Thoughts?"

Sindhu brought her hands to her waist, then dropped them to her lap again. "We can't, Tsiu-jhayu," she murmured. "The consort agreement has been sealed---" The rest of what she said got lost, too many unfamiliar words. Tsiu flicked the end of his fan, glancing Nakayari's way. Sindhu nodded, turned to Nakayari, and held out her hand. With a too-ticklish fingertip, she sketched the words she'd just spoken on Nakayari's palm.

"It's a breach of contract," Nakayari told Kini.

"You'll need to translate better than that," Kini retorted, under her breath.

Read more... )
kaigou: The two things that matter most to me: emotional resonance and rocket launchers. (3 whedon wisdom)
Someday, I'll find a story with a scene like this, and I'll be very happy. Don't tell me I'm gonna have to write it myself. I have enough on my plate. (Also, it was supposed to be much shorter, but tonight I didn't just have Good Sushi, I had Okonomiyaki, and thus is bliss.)

A short scene. SFW, snark, some cussing. )
kaigou: this is what I do, darling (tanuki in thought)
Name of the big bad: Sibylla Tzanavaras.


(Yes, I do think it sounds like the name of a leggy beauty who cloaks her brilliant mind with a bedroom smile, which in turn fits the first name's inspiration, so, hey, works for me.)
kaigou: this is what I do, darling (all muses are busy)
I couldn't remember the word-limit on the meme, so I went for "about 1K words characters" or something. (What is that, like 150 words?) Anyway. All current works in progress, mostly, with some on the back burner longer than others.

genderbender urban fantasy )

futuristic with d/s themes* )

futuristic paranormal )

urban fantasy )

historical urban fantasy )

mythic (non)urban fantasy )

alt-history fantasy* )

sub/urban fantasy )

Asterisk indicates a derivative work.


15 Jan 2009 01:17 pm
kaigou: this is what I do, darling (W] organizing)
I know a lot of fantasy writers like to make up names for stuff, and ignoring the fact that I could do without ever seeing another apostrophe in a name ever again, I sometimes think, man, but there's all this good stuff already out there that's absolutely wild to native-English speakers. I mean, just the names that already exist are exotic enough! The addresses alone make me just squee.

Tjärhovsgatan 8, Södermalm

Drottninggatan 74, Norrmalm

Gåsgränd 2, Gamla Stan

Riksjarlskap, Österlånggatan 5, Gamla Stan

Södersjukhuset, Södermalm

Skeppsbrokajen, Gamla Stan

Katarinakyrka, Kapellgränd, Södermalm

Nybrokajen 10, Östermalm

[to the Stockholm readers, yes, I'm almost positive there's no Nybrokajen 10, because that would put the address several meters into the Baltic Sea. It'll have to be a joke only ya'll get.]
kaigou: this is what I do, darling (W] life is a banquet)
I think I've mentioned this before, but I think I need the reverse of what I've seen requested by other writers (or maybe writers similar to me just don't go around saying this where I can hear/read them): I need someone not to say, "expand here, explain this," but to say, "this, this, this, and this, can go."

Not saying I would automatically then delete (as in: not saying the idea is to allow someone else to fully edit on my behalf) but because I can always see a valid argument for retaining this section of a scene, that bit of exchange, and think, okay, this is information the reader needs. It would be good to have someone else willing to be brutal, and give me a kind of lesson-plan for teasing how their justification/reaction, and start to develop a process of my own. Kind of like saying I know what gets scenes to the semi-finalists' round, but not to the finalists' round, so if I could watch someone else do the judging and compare it to how I would have judged, I might learn something useful.

I've never really managed that well, I think, and I suspect that's part of the reason I can hit such a high word count so easily, so fast.

Of course, the other reason for a high word count is because I have real trouble reeling myself in against intricate plots driven by significant interpersonal tensions. I like 'em best when not fully explained but hinting at a whole past that motivates the present. Like having two characters who appear like they should get along fine, but there's always a subtle unexplained tension.

I imagine it doesn't help, either, that I also adore and use business regularly, but that's for another post.
kaigou: this is what I do, darling (W] thank you captain obvious)
The goal was supposed to be 80K. Not 170K-and-let's-hope-enough-edits-will-get-it-to-120K.

Maybe if I just get rid of the plot.

That might work. Would that work? It'd sure make the story a lot shorter. Possibly rather boring as well, but at least it would be a manageable-sized boring.
kaigou: this is what I do, darling (W] know and not-know)
I was going through the current draft and realized I had somehow managed to end up with a conversation between two characters, Ranulf and Marna, discussing a third character... Muna. Which sounds a little off but doubly so when you see "That's Muna," Marna said -- and go, DOH.

Back to the drawing board, right around the same time that I decided I couldn't keep dealing with misspelling Dyfri as Dryfi damn it, so let's give him a new name, as well... which got me to thinking about a discussion I recall having a few years ago about character naming... and therein ensues meandering thoughts on meanings of names, connotations, parental values and impact on the named character as backlash... )

However, now that I've resorted all the names, corrected the ones in which meaning is of value, made sure I didn't end up with sixteen names all starting with T- and another nine starting with Ma- ... guess it's time to get back to writing. But first, I think I need COOKIES. Woo.
kaigou: this is what I do, darling (A2] bang)
Rereading draft, and realized I'd typed:

discovered the boy writing in agony



I feel that way myself, quite often.
kaigou: this is what I do, darling (tell a story)
...and I discover that the DEA's hiring freeze continues. (It's been two years, folks, if you're going to make them part of the Fatherland Motherland Homeland Security division, do it already.) Seems to me that writing a story about agents, the least you could do is make it about agents in a division that's actually, y'know, existing.

Time to rewrite, but time to rip apart instead. I think the special agents in question just became part of the Diplomatic Security Service (DSS). Or maybe part of the Department of State's Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS). I'm not sure yet. I'm not even sure which is which.

Research time...
kaigou: this is what I do, darling (Default)
I'm trying really hard to get this DONE, okay? Bear with me. (This segment's not long enough to print out and enjoy -- or gnash -- over tea, sorry, RS.)

I still don't know what chapter this should be. )
kaigou: this is what I do, darling (doubt sometimes)
X is the main guy; Y is the bad guy;
they meet at Z and all L breaks loose.
If they don't solve Q, then R starts,
and if R starts, it's Lsquared.


kaigou: this is what I do, darling (Default)
锴 angry fishtrap 狗

to remember

"When you make the finding yourself— even if you're the last person on Earth to see the light— you'll never forget it." —Carl Sagan

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