WIP Potential Cover Design

Here’s another quick update, showing off a work-in-progress potential-cover design. Exciting!

Volume 1_03

I rather want to avoid the potential infamy of getting featured here D:

Meanwhile, writing continues. I’ve had to write some difficult stuff recently, so I’ll have to find some comedy highlights to lighten the mood…

Mid-March update

Kinda weirded out that it’s almost two weeks since I made that last post. Maybe I should post a PROJECT UPDATE?

I finished the second draft of the second episode yesterday. It turned out longer than expected – almost 30k words, when the target I set was 15-20k per episode – so I’ll have to do some editing. You might think “but, if it’s almost two episodes long, why not make it two episodes?”, but I very much want to cut down on my narrative meanderings, and there is a core theme running through the episode that I would rather remained contained in a single instalment.

If only I took my writing so seriously a few years back, I might not have been forced into this whole massive revision process XD

Apologies for not having much interesting to blog about – presently there just isn’t the time in the day for me to do much else :S

Extract: The First Crack in the Wall

I figured it was about time for another extract, so here’s what I was just working on. Presently, it’s scheduled for the second episode, though I can’t say for certain how much of it will remain because it might drag on too much… this extract is 1,600 words (only half the scene), while the previous draft was half that (first drafts are almost always rough, broad strokes, and I fill in the details later – very much as I would approach a piece of artwork, in fact), and my aim is to bring in each episode under 20k (so I’m not overworked). But we shall see. Is there too much detail? Too much meandering about? Not enough actual plot? Let me know what you think!

Read the rest of this entry

This Week, in Artwork

UPDATE: I’ve added further stages, and the ‘finished’ piece :)

Turns out that I’ve been using a graphics tablet for a whole year now! Can’t say I’ve advanced as far as I would have liked, but that’s life for you! Here’s what I’ve scraped together this week.

shelley 5_01

shelley 5_02

shelley 5_03

shelley 5_04

shelley 5_05

shelley 5_06

shelley 5_07

shelley 5

I ought to be working on Proper Final Pieces – I actually need to finish something one day! – but I’m not yet confident enough in my abilities. I really need to devote more time to actual arting too, though where I’ll find that time, I don’t know! Has anyone invented a time-expanding machine yet?

More Writers talking about Writing

Here’s a bunch of televisual writers talking about their job to a misanthropic frog-faced journalist.

Top 5 Tips for Writing Top 5 Lists of Top 5 Tips

Yo, Dawg!

In all seriousness, it seems every writer’s blog I’ve come across in my travels/research is stuffed with these ‘Top X Tips’ lists, and more often than not they don’t tell you anything new. “Don’t use adverbs!”, “Don’t use adjectives!”, “Always use ‘said’!”, “Write every day!”, etcetera. And if they’re not doing that, they’re linking to articles doing the same thing. I guess it’s all part of the social-networking-blogging sphere I can’t get my head around. Write a post, get ‘likes’ and ‘shares’, grow popular! Or something to that effect.

I should probably look up some Top Ten Blogging Tips.

…okay, that just reaffirmed my belief it’s all a bit dull and far too Serious Business for my liking. KEYWORD RICH? Sod that. And far, far too many portraits of smiley smiley people. I don’t trust those people. They look like someone off camera is threatening to shoot a kitten if they don’t show the whites of their teeth. And everything – everything – is about search engines and ad revenue and driving figures to achieve you goals. Or, in other words, MONEY, and that talk just makes me think of salesmen with furious, cocaine-wide eyes, punctuating every exuberant sentence with hand gestures that would make even the hammiest of Shakespearean actors blush. No, I don’t trust those people either.

So, I believe it fair to conclude that I will never gain entry to this frightful club of overjoyed bloggerati and their plentiful top tips. However, just so you don’t feel short-changed by the lack of advertised tips, here are some to tide you over.

1. DODONGO DISLIKES SMOKE
2. SHOOT THE CYBERDEMON UNTIL IT DIES
3. GET UP ON THE HYDRA’S BACK!
4. UP UP DOWN DOWN LEFT RIGHT LEFT RIGHT B A START

Lunacy

Posting to see if attempts to connect this blog to associated Twitter and Farcebook accounts works. This social-network-integration business is a major pain, but it’s something I should possibly get used to! Maybe I ought to dig out my abandoned tumblr account too…

So this isn’t a complete waste of time, here’s some more work-in-progress!

Episode 1v2 02c

Will be working on the third episode of Phantasia next week. It involves a casino, depraved businessmen, and a talking octopus.

Where Dary babbles about writing Phantasia again.

Word count for the current draft sits at around 40,000, about a quarter of the way through everything I want to have finished before I start publishing. That sounds scarier than it is. It’s also about as much as it sounds: a quick estimate puts it equal to around 42 chapters – almost half – of the previous version of Phantasia. A lot of it is coming from increased focus on character, rather than plot, which is a good thing in my eyes, though I’m aware not everyone will agree with me! Which leads me to ask: what do you prefer? A character focus, or a plot focus?

Phantasia, in its original 2005 form, was certainly plot-driven, and the second version – the 2009 one I serialised on this here internet – began that way too, until the characters themselves began to demand more and more attention and development. This, the 2012, Final Version (because I’m not going to do a Tolkien and spend my whole life revising and rewriting, only to have all my drafts published after I’m dead!), has swung all the way over to character. Well, to a degree. It very much depends on the viewpoint – Dante’s story is character-focused, Phantasia’s is more plot. It’s a a duality I can imagine playing out over the long term, and one I’m quite happy to embrace as the story is all about duality.

As for my own, personal taste? Character-driven, which feels an odd thing to say given the genre I write, but there you go. That’s probably why I was just able to blaze through a 4,500 word section that mostly consisted of two people, in a room, discussing their repressed fears, but hit a block the moment I have to plough through some action XD

(I should try and write a post about something other than my own writing…eh…suggestions?)

A View with a Moon

Just (3.30am!) reached the end of the first episode. At 25,000 words it’s a bit more than planned, but I’m letting it slide as it’s effectively the ‘hook’/’pilot’. Although how well it will work, given that the central character’s name isn’t even mentioned until the last page, is debatable XD

I had hoped to have it written and edited, so I could get some people to test it out, but the aforementioned length had put paid to that. I’ll be putting it aside for a few weeks now, while I concentrate on redrafting the next batch of episodes (some chapters of which haven’t been touched in at least six months).

In between enforced writing periods, I’ve started putting together some kind of image. It’s an evolution of one I posted a few weeks ago, though I haven’t added any characters to it yet. As you can see, our Moon isn’t looking too healthy.

Episode 1v2 02

…I tried posting that to Farcebook earlier. The compression was hideous. ‘High quality’ my arse.

A view with a moon? A moon with a view! A room with a view! Geddit?
…ah sod it, I need a Random Post Title Generator.

Names

One of the overarching themes of Phantasia – which is far more apparent now than it was before – is the power, and meaning, of names. Naming characters is a pretty long-winded process at times, since I’m not the sort of writer who can just make something up.

” …you must understand that names have power. A name gives you influence. A name shatters illusions. A name…is a bond of trust.”

So, with that in mind, I thought I’d delve into the meanings of some character names. For the sake of the uninitiated, I’ll be sticking to the main characters introduced in the first episode (or else we’ll be here all day), in order of appearance. I believe I’ve covered some (possibly all) of these before in the past, but never mind!

1) Dante Orpheus
I’m sure I’ve delved into this one many times before: named for the poet, Dante Alighieri, and the mythical figure Orpheus. Dante translates to ‘enduring’, while Orpheus…oh boy, where do we begin?! ‘Darkness’, ‘Night’, ‘Separation’, ‘Father-less’, also has connections to ‘Oracle’ and ‘Oracular’. And, if you want to bastardise classical Greek a little, you could even say it was a combination of ‘orphe‘ and ‘theos‘, ‘darkness’ and ‘god’ respectively. It is fair to say that Dante certainly ‘endures’ all of these things. I haven’t even touched upon the symbolic means of using ‘Dante’ and ‘Orpheus’ – but a read of their Wikipedia articles alone should provide plenty of fuel for those who love their speculation.

2) Emily Fomalhaut
And in contrast to the above, there’s very little symbolic about ‘Emily’, but ‘Fomalhaut’ is Arabic and means ‘Mouth of the Fish’. It’s a star in Pisces. There’s a reason for this, but spoilers.

3) Katrina Ritches
Katrina also has a fairly innocuous name: her favourite animal is the cat, and her family is fairly rich (owning, as they do, an estate-turned-orphanage). Actually, it goes a bit deeper than that: Katrina is derived from Katherine, which in turn is associated with the Greek ‘katharos’, meaning ‘pure’.

4) Joel Gibson
Joel’s an old character, dating back to the mid-nineties, when I half-named him for a similarly-ginger goth fellow I was friends with. When I recycled the character into Phantasia, I kept the name for old time’s sake. It turns out to be rather appropriate, though, since ‘Gibson’ is a rather famous guitar manufacturer, and Joel is rather fond of his guitar! ‘Joel’ itself has no meaning. I guess it’s kind of generic? He’s a pretty down-to-earth guy. When he doesn’t think he’s a rock star.

5) Byron d’Arcadie
I’m presuming people know who Lord Byron is. You may also have heard of the ‘Byronic Hero’, so what better name for a poetic anti-hero? Meanwhile, d’Arcadie means ‘from Arcadia‘, or to look at it another way, ‘from Utopia’. Pretty self-explanatory, methinks.

6) Kaori Shimomura
Like her boyfriend Joel, Kaori is something of a legacy character from my work in the nineties, when I thought giving a character a random Japanese name was cool. I kept it, because it meant I could name her after Yoko Shimomura to balance out all these highbrow literary references like ‘Dante’ and ‘Byron’ with a terribly uncultured video game one (and because Kaori is herself a musician). Also, thanks to the Japanese language having some scary depths of hidden meanings, ‘Kaori’ can mean ‘excellent/beautiful weaver’. Given that Kaori’s primary artistic pursuit is fashion design, this seems appropriate.

Bonus Number Seven) Phantasia Caelestis
Are you ready? ‘Phantasia’ is Latin for ‘fantasy’, ‘idea’, and ‘imagination’, as well as ‘phantom’ and ‘apparition’. It comes from the Greek ‘phantazo’, which means ‘make visible’, which itself comes from ‘phaino’, which translate as ‘to shine’, ‘give light’, and ‘to appear’. Note also ‘fantasia’, which refers to a style of musical composition that is considered ‘irregular’ and not fitting in with excepted structures/standards. ‘Caelestis’ (I changed it from ‘Celeste’ for consistency’s sake, but they mean the same thing) is Latin for ‘heaven’ or ‘sky’. It can also mean ‘of the heavens’, ‘divine’ or ‘god-like’. You can put the pieces together. You might also note how the name in general stands in opposition to Dante’s: his is about enduring darkness, Phantasia’s is all about light and sudden appearances.

It scares me how much of my life I have possibly wasted trying to name characters. It also scares me how much time I’ve spent writing this post…