Tag: Redshirts

A pre-preparation of rites

A pre-preparation of rites

Like I mentioned in my post showing off the character sketches from my novel-in-progress, this Friday I will be presenting my Senior Honors Project at the Honors Project Interdisciplinary Conference.

We got the official email with the final schedule brochure and everything. It’s happening.

Not only is it happening, it’s coming up at full speed.

So most of my day has been spent preparing the Powerpoint I’ll be using. A few weeks back the Honors Program Director Sandra Perez asked me to help another student who wanted to do a creative writing project, as she said the pre-preparation I’d done was impressive.

That experience wound up being my lightbulb of inspiration. I realized that my project was better grounded in a Pre-Preparation of Rites than “I wrote part of a book.”

By the end, I’ve come to find that a whole lot of preparation was involved in my novel.

Most of it is stuff I’ve discussed on the blog before. The character sketches, map-making, research into Dungeons and Dragons and plotting out the story among them.

But then there are more exotic elements to the process as an overarching narrative — Such as my inspirational material, John Scalzi’s Redshirts and the prep work on earlier creative writing pieces.

And let’s not forget the elements I have yet to talk about.

Notably backend research into creating believable cultures for my fantasy world. I asked my old professor Paulo Simoes for some advice because a lot of his background involves researching ancient societies, figuring out how they tick.

He recommended trying to model my fictional cultures and the events that characterize my world off of real-world societies.

After all, he says it’s a successful strategy for shows like Game of Thrones, which modeled its famous Red Wedding scene after massacres in Scotland.

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Image courtesy of Game of Thrones Memes and Quotes Blogspot

Game of Thrones is in vogue to reference right now, yeah?

I’d hope so. Because I’m more than happy to capitalize on that, even though I haven’t personally watched the show.

For my project, however, I am not utilizing Game of Thrones in any capacity. Rather, I’m using “The Story of Civilization” collection of historical novels to base parts of my book on periods of history. As suggested by Dr. Simoes.

Along the way, I’ve been trying to craft the oral part of the presentation:

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I have 15 minutes to present, and then I’ll have to be ready for five minutes of audience questions. I’m hoping I’ll be all put together and confident by then.

While getting prepared, I took some time off with my Mom to go out and put something sweet together with the drawings from Elizabeth:

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Just a little something to help remember the project by. Doesn’t it look nice?

I think it looks really nice, personally.

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.

‘Redshirts’: My latest spark of inspiration

‘Redshirts’: My latest spark of inspiration

This isn’t exactly something I’ve done before on my blog, but it has admittedly been a long time since I’ve personally done anything like this so I figured it would be worth a mention.

Today I read an entire book in one sitting.

One sitting minus a lunch break, but disregarding that I’ve been enveloped in John Scalzi‘s Redshirts from about 10:30 a.m. to 8:15 p.m. or so when I started writing this.

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I have become intimately familiar with this novel in the last 12 or so hours.

It’s been forever since I’ve gotten to just focus on reading a good book, and I thank Spring Break for giving me the free time.

If you’re a fan of science fiction television, or interested in metanarrative fiction in general, this is a story for you.

Redshirts posits a very specific, interesting question and runs with it fast and hard: What if the “redshirt” characters, those who are the ill-fated attractors of death on shows like Star Trek, become cognizant of the fact that their lives and their fate are inexplicably woven by forces beyond their control?

In essence this is a simple concept, but it goes way deeper within the novel and has certain unexpected twists that make it a truly worthwhile read. It’s hilarious throughout and described as a piss-take at science fiction television tropes, but there are also very emotional moments that extrapolate the experiences of the characters into serious and inevitably positive messages for the human experience.

It’s an uplifting piss-take in the end, even if you may shed a few tears along the way.

I learned about the book from the podcast “Still Untitled: The Adam Savage Project,” which if you can’t tell from the title stars former Mythbuster’s star Adam Savage alongside Will Smith (not that Will Smith) and Norman Chan.

That podcast is also worth a listen I might add, as I’m still currently working through the backlog in my morning commutes.

With all this said, I’m obviously burying the lede a little. If I were just reading this book off of a podcast recommendation, why is it worth annotating the hell out of like you can clearly see I did above? In fact, why is it worth talking about on my blog beyond just the slight humble brag of having read all 300 pages in one glorious sitting?

To make a long story short, I’ve been working on my Senior Honors Project at Cal State Fullerton. The project is a multi-year long undergraduate thesis of sorts within the University Honors Program, and one of many distractions I have this semester.

The project I’ve decided to work on is based on Redshirts, in that I’m hoping to write a subversive genre trope novel with an underlying message of sorts about humanity. Except I’m imagining a story based in medieval-esque fantasy genre tropes along the lines of what you’d see in Dungeons and Dragons, Lord of the Rings, the Legend of Zelda and so on.

Part of my self-driven work in the class preparing to start this project has been to read through the book and annotate it up so I can have a good idea of how to base things when I approach a potential mentor to oversee my writing.

I haven’t exactly had a lot of time to read it until now, and boy do I regret waiting so long.

Thus, if you take anything from this suddenly weird and indulgent life-update post of sorts: Go read Redshirts. I promise you’ll thank me for it.

Oh, and stay tuned for that honors project hopefully getting worked out eventually. Once I begin the actual writing process for my novel, I might start putting out chunks of it here on the blog to garner feedback and log my progress.