Random writing (7)

Prompt used:

“Until my eyesight becomes blessed      until I cannot breathe

Let us be insightful in body and shadow”

I never thought that I would be blessed with receiving the Sight, the gift of divining from dancing shadows. Shadows don’t dance, you say? But they do. They dance out of the corner of your eyes. They dance when not observed. They dance in the dark of the night. They always dance in groups. They chase each other, ensnare each other, enmesh together and dance to the same rhythm. It’s a spectacle to behold, a true spectacle, if only you learn how to look. Oh yes, they are not only visible to those with the Sight. I’ve always been able to see that before I receive this gift. You just have to know how to look.

Moonlake’s Lyrics (3)

A little change of pace for today’s lyrics post. Instead of liking it for delving into life philosophies and themes, this one drew me because of it told a tale, a somewhat wistful tale of love and reincarnation. It’s also a relatively new song, in Mandarin and its title is “the Love of a Thousand years”, sung by a male and female Taiwanese singer together.

(F): Who made a pot of tea on a cliff       warming the longing from the previous life?

Whilst I’m adjusting for the “jet lag” of a thousand years               drinking in all the loves and hatreds

(M): Years are hammering at the rocks  I’m leaving my hair long again

Waiting patiently for changes in the coastline                     a heavy rain is about to fall

(F): The Wind is blowing fiercely

(M): Who is afraid at this moment?

(F): The sea breeze had always been yearning for the sands        yet you’ve missed the best years of my life

Missed the branches and shoots that I’ve newly grown                 and my white hair

(M): Butterflies are still wildly in love with flowers            yet you’ve missed the best years of my life

Missed my reincarnated face     do you still love me         I’m waiting for an answer from you

(F): I’ve been always been looking at the cliffs that broke up the sky whenever I walked,

the farthest sight I’ve seen is merely the sunsets

I’m wondering into which family you were born into this life       my tears fall before I can utter a word

(M): The vanished sprays on the beach                 makes me think of home in a gradual way

Where is the forever that has been promised    I can never put it down

(F&M): Oh          The memories from reincarnations are dwindling in the winds

Yet I will be remembering them deeply

(F&M): The sea breeze had always been yearning for the sands                yet you’ve missed the best years of my life

Missed the branches and shoots that I’ve newly grown                 and my white hair

*Butterflies are still wildly in love with flowers  yet you’ve missed the best years of my life

Missed my reincarnated face     do you still love me         I’m waiting for an answer from you

Repeat *

By the way, I saw that my followers had finally reached the two digits recently. And I would like to say a big thank you to all of my followers given that I post but sparsely and is quite a shy person whether in person or online.

Random writing (6)

Prompt used:

“Half ludicrous within my dreams, I suddenly realise it’s so collateral.

What is love? Merely being among movable winds and bizonal rain.

Blind, redolent…”

I had a dream. I can only remember the barest outline of it, the vaguest outlines of the emotions it contained. Within the dream, I was half ludicrous. I cannot remember what exact actions I did but I felt half ludicrous. And then I realized that everything is only secondary, inconsequential, within the dream. I think I experienced love within it but it was a kind of love whereby one gets buffeted by winds that change direction wholly unexpectedly and bizonal rain that flit in and out of one’s vision, soaking oneself again and then again. I was blind in the dream, blind and reeking. I don’t know of what I was reeking but oh yes, I was reeking.

Moonlake’s Novel Planning Method

I haven’t shared any writing insights lately because my novel is stagnating a little. But today I’m in the mood to post about writing again. In particular, I would like to share my particular method of novel planning. My current method is actually derived from the following two articles:

The Snow Flake method by Randy (www.advancedfictionwriting.com/articles/snowflake-method)

The Novel Formula by Kat (http://thenovelfactory.blogspot.com.au/2012/01/novel-formula-novel-writing-method-step.html)

 

My particular method actually follows the Snowflake Method quite closely but have small deviations that are either self-devised or ideas that I’ve taken from other sources in one or two places. As for the second article, I personally found it to be an overkill in terms of novel planning but that is just me, who’s always impatient to get on with the actual writing. In terms of being comprehensive, it wins hands down compared to either my method or the Snowflake Method. At any rate, I found the second article to have value in that it does add other insights.

So basically, my method proceeds in the following stages:

  • 1st stage- Condensed Back cover blurb: first one-liner to summarise the story and then expansion to a single paragraph with 5 lines.
  • 2nd stage- Character synopsises: this stage is done for each of the major characters in the book. I usually start with the protagonists and move downwards. It has 2 steps. The first is creating a one-page summary of each character’s experience in the story detailing a one-liner of his/her storyline, his/her motivations, goals, conflicts, ephiphanies/growth and a one paragraph summary of his/her storyline. The next step is to write a one-page synopsis from the point of view of each of the protagonists and ½ page or other major characters. I personally really enjoy this stage because it gives me the chance with work with the voice of all these different characters although sometimes changing between voices is a problem. My habit has been to group the products from this stage together by characters and save by separate characters, each named cs_(character name).
  • 2nd stage a- This actually cycles back to the 1st stage and I usually keep what I had produced at the 1st stage and this stage together in one Word doc titled synopsis. Basically, in this stage, I use the character synopsises to expand the one paragraph condensed back-cover blurb written at the end of stage 1 into first roughly one A4 page (don’t feel restricted by the one page limit though, all these are for brainstorming after all) and then into 4 pages by expanding each paragraph of the one-page synopsis into a full page (this is again on a rough speaking basis. Again, don’t restrict yourself at all by length but from my personal experience the 4 pages thing tends to fit a conventional length novel, that is, about 40000- 50000 words).
  • 3rd stage- Character filling: self-explanatory, basically just a stage that you go through to suss out each of the major characters in your book. In both of the articles I cited in this post, they suggested a character profile approach which I’ve already mentioned that I have a personal aversion to. So I’ve substituted for the 10 by 10 character grid method that I’ve already talked about in a previous post. Also, I should point out that what I talked about so far before this stage was strictly following the Snowflake Method from step 1 to 6. I usually do a full grid for all of my protagonists, companions on their adventures and a selected number of notable characters. Then, I take much more discretion with the other characters who might be important to the main characters but not to the story itself- what I call background characters. I will usually brainstorm somewhere from 15 to 70 facts about them.
  • 4th stage- Plot filling: I usually make a Chapter by Chapter event skeleton as the first step. This is not in the Snowflake Method. I just ran across this structure when I do a Google search on how to create a synopsis for a book. I usually give each Chapter a name that based upon the main event happening in the Chapter. Then I would list under each Chapter 2 sub-events that happen in indentation form. For a long plot arc, the Chapter names do run into a series. To be honest, I don’t think I’m good with clever naming and such so the Chapter naming is really just for my own reference. Step 2 was suggested by the Snowflake Method where you go across to spreadsheet and make the following columns: Physical Setting of scene, Sub-scene number, Event arc, Point of view character (i.e. whose eyes you want scene to be told through, might be slightly redundant if you are using the all-seeing perspective in writing or first person), purpose (I personally have 3 categories: plot development (PD), character development (CD) and world revelation (WR) and then I would put in some other notes in brackets within the cell eg. for PD, I would put whether it advances the plot or presents a setback; for CD, I would jote down whose character I’m development in the scene/sub-scene; for WR, I would jote down which aspects of the underlying world I’m revealing), Chapter Number, Scene Number and finally Themes touched in each scene/sub-scene. The last column I tend to leave blank a lot of the times but I just added it in for reference and also because I’m personally into life philosophies delved/reflected by fiction a lot. To me, that is one of the many important reasons for why I’m drawn to fantasy. This spreadsheet I would label as scenemanager.

Then I just move onto my Chapter by Chapter writing. But I also have the habit of doing some pre-writing as well. That is, I usually take the event sequence from the scenemanager and then expand them into a Chapter skeleton of what goes into each paragraph or sub-section of a scene. This method of writing is also mentioned in the Snowflake Method. I find it quite useful in combating writer’s block.

So that’s pretty much it. Feel free to leave comments of any aspects you would like to discuss. Also, I just released that I’ve just written my first long read. So thanks for any of the dedicated readers who actually read and finished this post.

Moonlake’s Writer Home

Since I mentioned it in my last post, I might as well write up where I frequent as a hobby writer, a place that I think of as my virtual home. It might come as a surprise to some but it is neither a writers’ site as people think of it nor someone like Wattpad or Booksie where you can upload or read novels for free. It is called the Strolen’s Citadel (http://strolen.com/main), a resource site for gamers, those who play RPGs of the dice rolling variety. Despite this, though, it functions equally well for me as a pure writer as I get to post up submissions about odd ideas that an avid fantasy reader such as me has (even before I had decided to join into the novel writing business although that had always been a vague goal that I was saving for my old age/retirement but obviously things change). So, yes, even more surprise, I was a non-gamer when I joined and in my 9th year as a Strolenati, I am still a non-gamer just recently turned into would-be gamer.

I am not a salesperson normally but it truly is a great site for writers and gamers alike. As a community, we have both great writers and great commenters. Occasionally, we tend towards the brutal honest side in commenting on each other’s work but when it comes down to it, the majority of comments are insightful, constructive and major helps to writers who want to improve their crafts. Personally, that’s what I love about the site so much. Even better, the Citadel now has a consensus to go light on newbies so if what I’ve outlined above interests you, don’t be shy to jump in. Also, I have the same alias there as I do here. So if anyone found the Citadel through me, let me know in the forums. *wink*

Moonlake’s Reading List (1)

This is not an actual new serial that I’m not starting, merely a teaser/foreshadowing thread for the Moonlake’s Book Discoveries series that I had promised to do every three months.

I had just finished a non-fiction about falconry and Mongolia. It was really research for the fantasy novel based upon the Mongolians that I’m trying to write. It turned out differently from what I expected of the title but is a decent read.

I am currently reading:

  • Moby Dick, recommended by my beta-reader, for the way it is able to incorporate snippets about details of the underlying world into the story (that I just love to add in my story)
  • The Tower and Knife trilogy by Marzarkis Williams
  • Giant Thief by David Tallerman

I also have my eyes on:

  • A series by Ian Irvine starting with a book titled Vengeance. I’m not sure whether I’ll end up reading it or not since it is substantially longer than conventional novels- I’m waiting for feedback from my fellow Strolenati (if anyone interested in what that is, stay tuned for the 2nd post that will come up today)
  • Brandon Sandersen’s Mistborn trilogy, saw a copy in my local library and it was highly recommended by a Strolenati
  • Jacqueline Carey’s Imriel trilogy. To be honest, I think I had picked up one of her books on a windowshopping trip I made to a book shop and decided that it’s not my cup of tea from reading the back cover blurb. However, I chanced across the review of book 2 of this series from the following blog: http://nikihawkes.com/category/fantasy-books/ and what drew me was how apparently it “involved a lot of travel, with immersion into many different cultures”.

I won’t be able to finish all of the books listed here but just want to tell my readers roughly what they could be expected to hear about in terms of my book discoveries.

Moonlake’s Lyrics (2)

Another making-up-for-word-count post. This one is a little morose but I love it because it contains one-liners that touches on the human truism about choice and again, the theme of gain and loss. It’s another Chinese old song (truth be told, the lyrics of old songs appeal to me more. 90% of new songs are love/break up songs and I much prefer songs that are just about life in general).

 

*How could the interchange of coldness and warmth stop?

How many autumns have passed when I turn back?

Losing something that I’ve search over,

Having something in hand that I never expected.

Have I gained or not? There’s no way to explain gains, losses and missing things by mistake.

A change occurs after I’ve just seen and heard something for certain,

I do not know where I should go to seek the cause.

 

What is it that you desire throughout your life?

Always making judgements about giving up and possessing.

Using up the whole of my life, it already ran past me before I could lay hands on it.

What is it that you desire throughout your life?

Never been able to see through in my confusion.

I have not expected that what I lost

Is actually already all that I have.

 

Repeat *

 

What is it that you desire throughout your life?

I have made compromises as well as struggled hard.

When every single points of brilliancy in the dreams fades,

How can they be captured and stored?

What is it that you desire throughout your life?

Who is parsimonious over praises and curses?

I have not expected that what I lost

Is actually already all that I have.

Moonlake’s Lyrics (1)

I have quite a fetish for good song lyrics, so much so that I sometimes am taken with a song not because of the tune but purely because of the lyrics. For that matter, I actually prefer instrumentals to a song with meaningless/bad lyrics.

So I am starting a new series of posts titled Moonlake’s Lyrics.  These are lyrics I feel are inspiring, touching or just draw me with the language it uses. And today, I will be sharing the lyrics of an old Chinese song that I like, that talks about dealing with the ups and downs in life. The translation is done by me alone and while I’ve lived in Australia for a long time I can’t promise that they will have the same effect in English as in their original form but here goes:

I do not know whether there is an end to the sky,

All I know is that the time that went past will never turn back its head.

Unbeknownst to me, every inch of tears,

accompanied with each of the dreams, all slipped away.

Unconsciously passing through so many years in this circle,

I am only aware that I have gone through tides both for and against me within this circle.

I silently and stoicaly tolerate

Every one of the accompaniement of cruel gazes as well as friendly laughter.

Backs in those days I silently accept all the hardships,

not letting go despite all of the bitterness and acridness.

Today I do not care about intentional nit-picking,

just follow the wishes from within my own heart.

I do not believe that I can gain possession without first making sacrifices,

I only believe that I have gained what I desire through my own hands.

Every string of sweat in exchange for every one of my achievements

I have always seen through gaining and losing.

Random writing (5)

Same as last time, two posts for today to compensate for lack of length. After the conflicting emotion/facial expression series, I started using lyrics from Chinese songs as prompts. I would take a single passage at a time and then play the S+7 game on it, which basically replaces either all the verbs/nouns/adjectives with a word that located seven places before or after it in the Chinese version of the Oxford Dictionary (it just happens that that’s the copy I have at home). This basically gives me three other versions of this passage. Not every version makes sense but I would choose whichever one inspires and do impromptu writing based off it. Below is the first of the series.

 

Prompt used:

“Half lucid within my dress, I suddenly realise it’s so cold.

What is loyalty? Merely being among mourning winkles and bitter rakes.”

 

Half lucid within my dress, I suddenly realise it’s so cold. I sneer. What is the meaning of loyalty? You ask. I can tell you, oh yes, I can tell you all about it. It means being carried off by so-called loyal servants sworn to protect you with their lives and entrusted with all of your family’s massive wealth and in the blink of an eye, sold to a place where you get to keep the company of mourning winkles and bitter rakes. It means being told that you would forever be a protected jewel embedded in his heart and just when you have thrown away all in a headlong rush into bliss, you are told that all is but a lie, leaving you stranded, wandering listlessly in a desert.

Random writing (4)

Another 30+ degree day over in Australia so I’m going to be slack and re-cycle previous efforts i.e. share the products of my previous writing exercises. This is the last of my series of my conflicting facial expressions with emotions.

Topic: I have to cry whenever I feel angry….

I have to cry whenever I feel angry. It’s a way for me to work off the anguish in my system. As tears flow out of me, I can feel a tangible decrease in the weight nesting in my chest. Yes, my tears are heavy then, heavy with the intense anger suffusing my blood, choking me.

I have to cry whenever I feel angry else I will physically explode. I feel lava coursing through my veins at moments like that and I need an outlet. Yes, an outlet. That’s why I cry. Crying is my outlet….

I have to cry whenever I feel angry. It’s therapy to me, it soothes me like a lullaby soothes a baby.