Month: August 2017
Writing Log 1: Start With A Bang, End With A…Whimper?
Day One—Aug 20,2017
Last night I finished my seven-page outline in under three hours. I was so excited about this project. I thought that when I woke up the next morning I would still be excited and ready to write but I wasn’t. I guess I realized I no longer had my lack of an outline to hide behind. Suddenly I realized that this was the first book I was going to actively write with the intent of publication. I guess that frightened me a little bit. So I put off writing until after I watched Game of Thrones. I also had some problems with tense. I thought I was going to write in third person past tense limited and then I kept slipping back into third person present tense limited. I know a lot of people don’t like it but I’m used to writing in present tense. I’ve been writing films in present tense for four years. I guess it’s a little harder to shake than I thought. Prologue complete.
Total Word Count: 1,116
Day Two—Aug 21, 2017
I didn’t get a lot of writing done today although I can say it was much easier to write today than it was yesterday. I guess I was just rusty. The last time I wrote something in a narrative style, it was back in May so I can see how that happened. The Solar Eclipse happened today. That stopped me from writing earlier in the day and then after the eclipse passed, I got a headache and ended up taking a nap. I woke up from the nap a little later than I expected but the headache was gone and I was ready to write. Or so I thought. I ended up having to sit and think about what the city and certain rooms in the story looked like. I ended up looking at lots of pictures to try to match the vagueness in my mind with some real images to help me narrow down what things actually look like because I’m a visual person. But after that, I started writing and really loved it and then I started playing with Scrivener’s compile setting because…why not? I love wasting time. It’s midnight. I’m going to sleep.
Total Word Count: 2,142.
Day Three—Aug 22, 2017
So I thought I was going to get up and write but it was raining and my mom is so paranoid about the rain that I ended up pushing my writing time back. We did laundry today and that took longer than usual but overall today was a pretty good writing day. I also washed my hair today, so that’s a plus. 👍🏾 I think the hardest thing I had to do in regards to writing today was trying to figure out how to describe racial/ethnic markers on people without sounding racist. I never realized how much I relied on generalizations or cultural understanding until I tried to describe a diverse group of people in a world without our established countries and racial categories. I didn’t do as much writing as I wanted to but there is always tomorrow.
Total Word Count: 3,583
Day Four—Aug 23, 2017
Today I actually got up and wrote when I was supposed to. I only wrote for about 45 minutes before I took a break and went to the gym for an hour. When I got back, a laid around for a bit and watched a few YouTube videos before getting back to writing. Things were going well until I spent four hours on Netflix. Chapter 1 complete.
Total Word Count: 4,972.
Day Five—Aug 24, 2017
It was a good writing day, I just didn’t write for very long.
Total Word Count: 6,747.
Day Six—Aug 25, 2017
I picked greens, baked cupcakes, styled my hair and worked on a physical map of my fantasy world. I put off writing because my sister was supposed to bring my nephews and niece over, but in her typical fashion, she broke her promise. I’m going to bed three hours early because I’m irritated and I might have plans tomorrow that requires me to wake up before 8 a.m.
Total Word Count: 6,747
Day Seven—Aug 26, 2017
Oops. Not writing for the second day in a row, huh? I’m not trying to justify this, I’m just stating what happened. I had a really busy day. I actually got out of the house and had some fun. My sister also brought the kids over for a few hours and then I got drunk by myself and went to sleep early. It’ll be better next week. I swear.
Total Word Count: 6,747
I Finally Got My Diploma!!!!
<Breaks into happy old lady dance!>
Yes. It finally arrived. I’m so happy. If I’m being honest with myself, I actually got it about a week ago but I was still in Texas, so I actually couldn’t see it until I got home. And when I made it home and held it for the first time, I thought something was wrong with it. But I just got off the phone with a representative of my school and they basically told me that minors don’t normally go on the diploma unless they were part of an emphasis area. As long as it says I completed my minor on my official transcripts, it’s fine.
Now it’s time to go frame shopping.
The Total Solar Eclipse Was Totally Amazing!!!
I didn’t go to any of the events for the solar eclipse but I did go outside during the event. I went outside with my mom just to know what it felt like. I’m in St. Louis so it was super sunny and hot but then, as the eclipse grew closer and closer to totality, the sun seemed to set. And then, instead of the sky becoming orange (like a sunset), it stayed a weird reddish color, fading into a stale blue hue. Then it got even darker and the street lights came on and the temperature dropped a few degrees and the wind picked up a bit.
One of the owners of a shop near us, saw us standing outside but not looking at the sky, so he offered us his glasses. When I saw the eclipse, I nearly cried. It was beautiful. It was like looking at a dark hole and then seeing a tiny orange sliver of light just on the outside. Because we were sharing the glasses, I was not able to take any pictures but I will forever remember.
The image used for this post was taken from Nasa’s official website.
Crafting The Look And Feel Of My World
If you haven’t noticed already, I took a little hiatus earlier in the month so my posting slowed down a bit but never fear, I’m back and in popular demand. I actually stopped posting because I was down in Texas for two weeks being a live-in nanny and I thought that the child I was taking care of deserved my undivided attention. I’ll do a post about that soon because it was actually a pretty cool and enlightening experience.
I would also like to note that any posts I do about the book I’m writing would be tagged as TWE. It’s the shortened title of the book I’m working on, so just in case you’re not subscribed to/following my blog or Facebook page but still want to check in on the progress of the book, you can always come to this website, go to my tag cloud, and click on TWE.
Today I’m going to explain how I came up with the environmental concepts for the book I’m working on and you’ll get to see how I worldbuild.
What I Did Wrong
For the book I’m working on now, the idea for my story started nearly four years ago when I was a freshman and college and was too overwhelmed with my school-related writing projects to even think about working on something for fun. So I just let it sit on the back burner of my brain until I had the free time, which wasn’t until I graduated from college. Over the years, the idea of the story shifted and with each new shift, the world changed a little bit. But it wasn’t until I sat down to write out the story that the world truly started to form. That’s how I worldbuild. I build the world around the story that I have in mind and if the story changes, the world changes.
That happened to me while I was in Texas. Earlier in this month or at the end of last month, I announced that I was writing a book. I knew I was going to write the book way back in January but the announcement was a way to force myself to start writing. I wanted the Internet to hold me accountable if I didn’t deliver the goods. I was struggling with my outline and I knew I couldn’t write without my outline because I had no idea where the story was headed. I didn’t have a middle or an end. I just had a killer start and some basic (and somewhat vague) plots/storylines for my three central characters which I have now fixed. That’s part of the reason that the summary of my book that I posted read so poorly (in my opinion). It’s because I still hadn’t figured out what I was doing.
I’d spent so much time world building that I’d lost my actual story. Yes, world building is that addictive to me. It’s crazy how wrapped up I get in it. So while the child that I was taking care of was napping, I would sit and try to think up ways to fix my problem. Eventually, I came to the conclusion that I wasn’t having problems with my outline. I was having problems with my world. I’d designed a beautiful world that had one huge flaw. It was set in the future but it had no guns. I omitted guns from my world because guns could solve so many problems so quickly and I just didn’t want to have gigantic plot holes. Sorry, not sorry. But by doing that, the story couldn’t function because it just didn’t make sense. Why didn’t they have guns? And if they didn’t have guns, what type of weapons did they have? Once I started looking at older weapons, the idea of them running around with swords (even if they were fancy futuristic swords) just seemed so wrong in a world that also had hover cars. So I scrapped it all.
How I Fixed It
I stopped fighting the enviable—I changed my genres. My story went from science fiction to fantasy. I set my world in a more pseudo-medieval world. Why was I fighting this so much? Because I’m tired of reading the same thing over and over again. When people talk about fantasy worlds, they’re normally talking about pseudo-medieval Europe and once they start talking like that, it opens the doors to arguments against people of color being in stories. This in its self just doesn’t make sense. People really try to act like trading wasn’t a thing back then. Or that Europeans were the only people who were exploring other countries/continents back then.
Following that same train of thought, I was suddenly hit with the best idea ever: when coming up with the look of the world, look at what the rest of the world looked like during the medieval period. So I did and it was amazing. The rest of the world was just as developed as the Roman Empire had been before its fall. Some places were even more developed. The reason why the medieval period/dark ages looked so dreary for Europeans was because they didn’t take care of all the infrastructure and architecture that the Romans had already laid out. As things fell apart, nature reclaimed most of what humans didn’t fight for. That combined with western Europe’s climate, religious superstitions and the dumbing down of forward-thinking lead to a lot of the darker parts of Medieval Europe. The rest of the world wasn’t dealing with that, so the medieval period looked very different for them.
When coming up with ideas to help shape my fantasy world I looked at what medieval life and architecture looked like in Africa and Asia. I can’t post any of the pictures because I don’t own them and don’t want to get hit with anything copyright related so I’ve linked some in the post.
While looking at some of these places, I tried to envision what the inside of my world would look like. Game of Thrones came to mind. It’s one of my favorite shows and I love how they blend modern touches of fashion and décor within medieval settings. So looking at the color pallets for their Southern settings (which are filmed in Spain and some other country that escapes my mind) I was able to locate a style that fits my story and the world I was building around it. I discovered Moroccan style/décor. Moroccan décor is a beautiful blend of bold and vibrant colors such as gold, brown, orange, blue, and green. The colors are linked to the environment. Moroccan décor also incorporates a lot of elaborate patterns stitched into textiles and carved into wooden furniture. There is a lot of fabric and metal that gives the sense of lushness and excess that fits well with my story. And the architectural style is beautiful because it is a fusion of Arab and Moor history.
Weapons and Clothing
When coming up with the weapons and transportation for the story I did return to Europe although I’m trying to incorporate more medieval weapons from Asia such as the sai. We have the standard long-swords, rapiers, crossbows, javelins, and so much more. When coming up with the clothing style for the world I wanted it to be something that was different but functional. As much as I love the steampunk aesthetic, I’ve never tried to write a steampunk novel because I don’t feel like it would be functional in the actual situations that I like to write about. So I went with something that is considered high fashion right now. I looked for the tattered and layered look. Earth-toned fabric with lots of belts to hold up clothing or to hold weapons. Since the first book takes place in a warmer climate, I haven’t played with what furs would look like in this world but a lot of the clothing is asymmetrical and extremely functional. I wanted the people to look almost nomadic—a fusion of past and future. I wanted to create something that was different. When coming up with ideas for how the people would dress, I looked at clothing that had been tagged: post-apocalyptic clothing, dystopian future clothing, dystopian future nomad, costumes from the show Vikings, and the Dorne costumes from Game of Thrones.
Religion and Political Systems
Here comes the fun part: politics and religion. I created my own religion for this project because religion and religious superstition were so important to the story that I decided to just create my own instead of perverting an already established religion to suit my needs. In my world, Church (I call it the Cloth) and State are separated but not by much. It’s one of those situations that if the Cloth pushed hard enough, the state would become a theocracy. Speaking of the State, the State in my story is a weird blend of an Absolute Monarchy and Authoritarianism and there is no feudalism. So although this story will probably fall into the genre of dark fantasy, it has plenty of dystopian appeals as well.
This is how my mind works. This is how I world build: one connection at a time until the world and the story work. And this version of my world works. The other day, I sat down and started a new outline and finished it within three hours. It felt great. The storylines for the three central characters changed a little bit, but the core is still there and I’m finally writing. Words have actually been typed into my document. The world is right again.
I Am The Monster You Made
I have anger issues. Few people know that about me. Most people see me as a loving, caring, nice (to a fault) person—motherly even. But the very few people who have truly hurt me and made me angry know the truth. I’m the silent one. The calm one until I ignite and destroy the bonds you thought I wouldn’t. And once I’m truly angry with you, you’re just about as good as dead to me.
That sounds cold. I know. I’ve been trying to work on it because you can’t cut everyone who hurts or enrages you out of your life, or so I thought, until recently. I finally found my line in the sand. The line I will not let someone drag me across. I will not allow someone to use the people I love to hurt me. I’d rather be the monster you made than to be the one hurting. Life is too short to let people try to destroy the little happiness we can find. It’s been months now; I’m not fine but I’m not broken either.
Stay safe and find light in this dim world of turmoil.