Tag: Outline

Salons and Binge Watching

This might be an unpopular opinion here on the old Internet, but haircuts are nice.

Yeah, I said it. Don’t @ me.

Alright well for real, I got a haircut this morning and it feels nice. Everything is just a bit smoother, lighter. Both figuratively and literally.

I’ve already done the whole ‘check out this sweet haircut’ post in the past so I don’t really want to go down that road again. Though I suppose it was productive to go back and see that post again, because it made me realize I really like to use the mad ramblings cliché.

Not sure realizing that is going to change anything, though. I do really like to use that cliché, after all.

In fact I probably could name this post something about rambling too. Because that’s basically what I’m about to do.

See after getting said haircut this morning I haven’t exactly done a whole lot. I came home, plopped down on the couch, and (in no particular order) played some video games, did some work for my Senior Honors Project and watched Rick and Morty.

That’s right, Rick and Morty.

It’s a show I’ve been meaning to watch for a long time. In fact I have watched it in bits and pieces, mostly the episodes which are famous for how clever or meme-worthy they are. But up until now I’ve never taken the time to go through the full three-season catalog.

I got through all of season one last night straight through 1 a.m. and haven’t been able to stop watching the rest today. Everyone always talks about how great the show is, but I never realized how truly brilliant it was until I started to watch it in its entirety.

All of the seemingly random, disconnected plots each simultaneously come into their own with the full context of a subtle overarching story. Yet, at the same time, it’s all totally made pointless by the same sarcastic, casual and horrid sense of humor that pervades the entire experience.

Plus it’s dope watching different characters like Summer evolve over the course of the show.

It’s as awesome to think and theorize about as it is to watch just from the merits of its production value.

Seriously if you’re like me and know you’ll enjoy the show but find reasons to put it off, just stop putting it off.

In fact, binging Rick and Morty made me realize that I should have spent more time this summer binging more shows. Like the different anime I talked about that one time.

Maybe I’ll do it some more over these last two weeks.

It could be a good way to pass some time while I work on outlining my story. Which, by the way, I would argue is going well. I may or may not have finally come up with the connecting thread I need to get my characters from their starting point to the climax I was imagining.

I don’t want to spoil the surprise if it winds up being what I actually implement, since it’s a pretty cool idea in my head.

Just know that my trope-fest involves a prophet who bestows information on how to move the plot of the game along. One who has a secret, meta way of learning the information they need to pass along.

With that said, I’ve hit the 500 word count I was hoping to get to with these blindly fluctuating topics. So I think I’m going to jump off and… You know… Watch more Rick and Morty.

Watch it, losers.

What’s in a name?

While I can think of very few distractions better suited to the title than a video game where I’m able to kill a gun-themed dragon with bees, Enter the Gungeon cannot keep me from doing some work I need to do forever.

Mostly because the Switch battery doesn’t last forever. Otherwise it most definitely could keep me from my work for forever.

But that being said it doesn’t, and thus I have broken away from the addiction of roguelikes to work some more on my Senior Honors Project.

I’ve taken a bit of a turn in my approach to the project as the summer starts to wind down. Originally I had been simply starting to write the novel I’m working on while using a separate outline to keep track of things (as I pointed out in a previous blog post). However, I’ve found that hasn’t worked out phenomenally well.

It mostly left me in a place where I had a basic idea of some key plot points and the main characters, but no real sense of progression to build upon. Just figuring out things as I went along.

So I’ve decided to step back from the actual physical writing and focus more on the finer details of outlining this puppy.

Notably:

  • Fleshing out a more complete plot line
  • Coming up with the characters I want my heroes to encounter in their journey, with all the relationships those entail
  • Actually imagining more of the world they’re in, different names for locations included

With those in place I think writing a novel should actually be a sensible pursuit.

The thing that I’ve found most difficult about all this is naming everything. Who would have guessed that when you’re building a world from scratch you have to name all of the things?

All the characters, all the locales, all of the lore bits. So on and so forth.

Luckily I’ve made the task easier for myself by not establishing my world as one that has very strict hard-and-fast rules. I’m not Tolkien creating a crazy immersive, new fantasy world full of completely novel interactions amongst different races.

If anything… I’m kind of piggybacking off of the work he already did years ago.

See, for those who aren’t aware, my novel is a parody of sorts. It started as something meant to emulate the ideas of a book called ‘Redshirts’ but in the fantasy genre rather than science fiction.

Then I decided to narrow my focus even further. While I don’t necessarily read a ton of fantasy novels, I do play a lot of fantasy-themed video games. Zelda, Fire Emblem, Final Fantasy. So on and so forth.

This my novel evolved into one where the focus is on NPCs in a video game who gain some semblance of sentience, realizing they are caught up in the tropes of a world created by game developers who, like me, love fantasy themes.

As well as tropes of the video game medium as a whole, of course.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m hoping not to create a boring environment seeped in tropes for the sake of it. Hopefully by the end I’ll have an interesting world inspired by and utilizing said tropes.

Because of this I’ve felt free to come up with names for things in a number of ways without having to worry about standardizing too heavily.

Looking up name generators is a good general practice for character names especially, an idea bestowed by my friend Sam who does similar things for her Dungeons and Dragons campaigns.

However, I’m also trying to look to some real life inspirations. For example, the holy order of royal guards in the kingdom which presides over the land (currently unnamed since, like I said, names are hard) is based on my mom’s name.

Or in a more fun example, one character I have is named after this glorious little thing I found at Ikea the other day.

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Seriously how could I not make Eldig Black a semi-significant character in my story.

It’s just too perfect.

In fact, just perfect for the grizzled, Old veteran in charge of watching over the prince of the kingdom. The Gunter to my Corrin in Fire Emblem Fates, or the Jagen to my Marth in the original Fire Emblem.

Because at least one faction of characters in my story is not-so-vaguely inspired by the archetypical group of traveling adventurers in the early stages of a Fire Emblem game.

Those are just a few of the ideas I’m juggling right now, trying to create a cohesive world with a web of relationships among its inhabitants.

If you’re a creative-type, I’d love to hear what kind of means you tend to use for inspiration when it comes to things like character creation. Let me know somewhere on the Internet.

A Novel Writing Tool

If there’s one thing I haven’t talked about nearly enough around here, it’s Fire Emblem.

Nah, just kidding. I talk about that way too much.

But I don’t talk about my Senior Honors Project as much as I probably should. Doing so would probably encourage me to make more progress than I have been.

Though that said, I’m here today to talk about the progress I have made, because I have honestly done a good bit outside of hunting for a mentor to approach once the semester kicks off. Like I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, I wanted to ensure I had some sort of basic product to approach my future mentor with as a showing of faith.

That’s meant interacting with some writers to know exactly what a fictional novel’s book proposal might look like so I can emulate it.

But that’s also meant working on actually starting to lay out and write my novel. Characters were the most difficult hurdle for me to get over, as I had a general idea what kind of plot line I wanted to go with but no serious image for who would be going through it.

Since passing that hurdle I’ve made it a good chunk of the way through my book’s first chapter. I’m hoping to at have at least two done as an example of the eventual overall product.

Outlining has been rather important to me on this current venture. I’ve attempted to write books before you see, but most of them falter when I get less than a chapter in because I don’t actually have a clear idea where I’m going with it. Usually my outings have begun with a vague idea of something that sounds cool with no substance around it.

Also they’ve usually started with the amnesiac protagonist cliché.

I’ve come to see the error of my ways. This book does not start that way, I assure you.

To help avoid a faltering in my progress and keep my thoughts better organized, I’ve turned to a new tool that mom introduced me to after using it for her editing work.

She actually wrote her own blog post about this ‘Master Outlining and Tracking Tool,’ but I wanted to give it my own separate endorsement because it has been a really great thing for me personally and I figure it might be for some of you out there too.

The full, in-depth explanation of how the tool works (and a place to download it) is here on the creator’s website. It undoubtedly does a far better job explaining all the intricacies than I could right now in my Hollow Knight-ed daze, so it’s worth going right to the source.

But I figured I shouldn’t cop-out entirely on this blog post by just pointing to other blog posts. After all, there are many different things in this outlining tool, and I’ve primarily been using only a few of them.

Most notably, like I mentioned, is the story outlining stuff.

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Surprise, an actual sort of sneak peek of part of what I’m planning. Don’t tell nobody, though!

It’s honestly hard to explain how invaluable this kind of section is for someone like me. Out of all the words of advice that the Daily Titan’s advisor Bonnie has given out for improving writing in the three years I’ve known her, the one nailed into my head the hardest would have to be the idea that a story should be able to distill down into a sentence.

There are so many stories for the newspaper I’ve written that have been far better once I knew how I wanted to focus them down.

Thus I’ve been approaching my basic outline here with the same mindset. If I’m able to distill the story down into just a sentence, both for the overall product and the individual chunks of that product, then I can more easily stick to one idea and run with it.

Then there’s the characters, both keeping track of how many are floating throughout the story as a whole and accounting for individual details of the characters in question.

This tool offers both:

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I haven’t personally written out the details for my characters yet since I’ve been focused on the outline. Consider this a secret surprise for later!

There are lots of other things that are helpful in this tool as well.

Tabs to keep track of what different plots are intersecting when.

Tabs to track word count per chapter.

Tabs to organize what chapter hosts what information.

It’s just… Really good stuff. I don’t know what else to tell you guys.

Check it out, use it if you need help keeping organized like me, support the creator… And thank my mom. Because she’s great and finds some cool writing/editing stuff in her free time.