Thursday, February 25, 2016

A Glimpse into My Creative Process

First of all--WHOA! Sorry about the lack of updates lately. I woke up Monday morning and sort of had an emotional breakdown out of nowhere (I'm better now, though). Then Wednesday came along, and my sister/roommate decided to take a last-minute personal day due to inclement weather. And as we both have a propensity for video games, I had a feeling Wednesday was not going to be particularly productive, either.

But I knew I had to at least try to get something out today, since you've been waiting so patiently. And I thought: what better to talk about than my current writing process!


You know, that thing that I haven't been doing this entire past week. Sighhhh...



A typical work day starts with me doing my duty as a responsible adult and scrounging around for jobs (month two of the new place and I'm still looking).

But as soon as that obligation's out of the way, it's off to Google Drive to work on my current project, The Victor's Blade.

Here she is: the entirety of The Victor's Blade and its associated universe. Remember when I said I was an Over-Planner?

Lately with The Victor's Blade, I've been in planning mode rather than actually writing. This is due to a few reasons, mostly because I started writing the trilogy when I was eleven. I'm currently twenty-six, so there's plenty of plot items that I've realized simply don't work.

Most of my plot notes are in a single Excel-style document. Here's a glimpse at what it looks like (Uh... spoilers if you'd rather not know early Elven history for this universe):


As you can see, there's a whooooole lot of tabs.


As you also can (or can't) see, the color code is:
  • Red - Concrete plan; will definitely be going with this concept
  • Salmon Pink - Idea, possibility
  • Yellow - Idea or plan that contains a plot hole or raises a question I haven't figured out yet
Currently, I've been working on compiling all the notes in this document to a single doc that lays everything out in chronological order. (No screencap of that one, though. Too many sensitive spoilers!)

But here's a picture of the timeline instead!
If you're curious:
  • Lime Green - Elven (elf) history
  • Black - Maddokar's ancestry
  • Dark Red - Misc. history
  • Orange - Human history
  • Purple - Zelmeon (fairy) history
  • Red - Thoranan/Jaranin's history
  • Green - Emarella's history
  • Dark Blue - Temanim/Zaelor's history

Lately, working on that chronological document has meant me going through the lineage of Jaranin, the protagonist--which means I'm mostly going through copy/pasting the story of each one of his ancestors, the dates they married and had kids, etc.

I've had Jaranin's lineage about 99% complete since around 2002. So since his lineage is basically finished, there's not much "actual" work I've been doing on it. Currently, it's just a matter of tweaking some stories I wrote when I was eleven and adjusting the overall flow so it better corresponds to the antagonist's plans.

As for the actual writing of the writing process...

I'll let you know when I get there. =P

---
Anything in particular catch your eye? Are there some other documents you'd like to see more of? Let me know in the comments!

Keyboard photo courtesy of Neuneu and definitely not my own keyboard, which is filthy and disgusting and otherwise not photo-worthy. Originally posted on Pixabay.com.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Insecurity

 Insecurity. Self-doubt. Inner fears. The voices in your head telling you you'll never make it. The voices outside telling you you have nothing worth making.

I wonder how many people struggle with insecurity? I'm guessing about everyone. It amazes me how crippling it is to artistic people especially, however.

I believe art to be something that comes straight out of someone's heart--or soul--or however you want to phrase it. I think everyone can agree it comes from a place deep inside us, out of a piece of who we are as an individual. So maybe I shouldn't be so surprised that insecurity, something that by definition attacks who a person is on a deep level, is so debilitating.

I'm speaking from an artist's perspective, but I'm sure it's just as devastating to anyone who wants to do or be something. And I guess deep down, we all want to at least be somebody who matters.

Insecurity tells us we're not.

Man, that voice is so easy to listen to when you're already afraid that everything you've worked for is going to fall like a house of cards. Then the voice comes in and... poof. In a gust of wind, your blood, sweat, and tears is useless. Like it never even happened.

Yes, I deal with--

No, that's not strong enough.

I drown in insecurity.

The strange thing is, I've had a pretty great life. I wasn't bullied as a kid like so many I know have been. I didn't have abusive parents or family members that ripped apart what I'd made or told me I shouldn't pursue what I cared about. Quite the opposite. I'm blessed beyond belief to have a family who are my biggest fans (and cheerleaders).

So I can't really blame my insecurity on any physical outside force. No traumatic childhood event that sparked my inner turmoil of--

"Is what I'm doing worth noticing? Am I worth it?"

But it's there all the same. And a lot of times, there's more that goes with it. Another voice. Not constructive criticism, but the really sinister kinds of criticisms. The destructive ones. The ones that harmonize with the voice inside my head:

"You'll never be able to do it.

"And the worst part isn't even that you can't--you just won't.

"You won't put in the time it takes. You won't devote the energy it takes. You're too lazy. You're too inconsistent. You're too undisciplined. You will never choose to be good enough, so you'll never be good enough.

"You might as well just give up."

If you're wondering how I handle it, you might not want to.

I'll just say, plug your ears if you're offended by spiritual/religious stuff.

You still reading? Okay then...

I'm a Christ-Follower. I also (try to be) a Bible-Follower. So what that means is, I believe that stuff like God and the devil and angels and demons are real.

No, not the devil like the one you're thinking, with the cutesy red onesie and horns and a pitchfork.

Think more like cancer. Think more like abusive parents. Think 9/11. Think all the senseless violence you see plastered all over the news, the kind that makes you stop and wonder, "Where is all this coming from?"

Think like those voices inside that scream you're worthless.

I believe that a lot of times, more often than I even feel comfortable admitting, it's demons that are stirring those voices in your head. But sure, sometimes it may just be me. Or other people. I'm frankly not very good at sorting out who's who and what's what and where everything's coming from. I just know there's senseless evil in this world, and I don't think it comes without an instigator.

But I also believe there's someone out there who creates, not destroys. Who designed things to be different. Who's going to make sure this world ends in victory and good. Who lets bad things happen for reasons I don't get, but who I trust anyway because I know he may not be "safe," but he's good.

And He's the only one I've found who can really shut up those voices of insecurity--even a little.

When the voices are almost literally drowning out any other thoughts, I've only got God to turn to. I beg him for some help. I'm literally in tears as I ask him to save me, because I pretty much feel like I'm the damsel who stumbled into the wrong story, and now I'm being tortured by an enemy I have absolutely no strength to face.

Yeah, there's been a couple times I haven't felt anything. Where all I've been met with was silence. They're the kind of times that make you think, "See, that proves there is no God."
But I can't deny that way more often, out of nowhere, I'll be given something. A thought. Once or twice, it's been a whole poem. Sometimes, it'll be a song--on the radio, or in a music video I'll stumble across on Youtube, or on my iPod--something that speaks to me in a way I've never heard it speak before. Something that makes me feel like something outside of me is cupping my face in their hands, looking me straight in the eye, and saying,

"Those voices in your head? They're wrong.

"You are priceless."

Yeah, call me crazy. Maybe it's just me comforting myself. I don't deny that it could be. I certainly don't deny that I'm crazy.

But I think it really is God. Especially considering I'm the first person to rip myself apart, not to make myself feel better (picking at emotional scabs is my forte). And also considering I only ever get these messages of affirmation when I stop what I'm doing and realize I'm sunk. Realize I'm hurting. Realize I need somebody other than myself to tell me I'm worth something.

That message doesn't sink in if I repeat a mantra to myself.

It doesn't sink in no matter how many times my family or friends tell it to me.

It only ever sinks in, a little bit, when I'm bawling my eyes out, asking God to save me.

Try it sometime.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Excerpt - TVB: "Zaelor and the Inn"



The air was thick and humid at the inn tonight. Stale ale and staler patrons left the tavern swimming in stench.

As much as he’d prefer to be able to breathe out in the cool summer breeze, no one was chugging alcohol under the stars.

He’d opted to leave all his messenger paraphernalia behind this time. He’d been tracking his prey for the better half of a week now, and the last thing he wanted was attention as he got in to get a closer look. He’d learned the hard way that nothing garnered a crowd like an official guild cloak pin and messenger bag. Everyone wanted to know if your messages were for them.

No, tonight he was a simple traveler, thin and wiry and a bit haggard from his travels—just another patron supping and sipping at the tavern bar. Years of observation and practice made it rather easy to blend in with a crowd.

Well, there were still some practices even he wouldn’t care to stoop to. He noted, out of the corner of his eye, that he was one of the few not to hassle the harried serving girls. The poor things were frantically scurrying from table to table, taking orders and trying not to get too close to drunk fingers. He clapped his hand around his mug, swirling the golden brew within. Had to do something quick to keep himself distracted from the cat-calls.

You’ve got bigger skulls to crack later, Zaelor. Don’t spoil it all now.

He took another mock swig at the brew he’d actually hardly drunk. No room for error tonight, after all. The mug, like most everything else about this harmless traveler, was just for show.

Although it didn’t take much effort to look as exhausted as he felt. With a sigh, he rubbed his chin, hearing the familiar scrape of leather glove against his golden-brown stubble.

Got to find a new occupation, he thought to himself, concealing a grim smile.

Some of the cat-callers had apparently become bored of trying to nab their limber quarry. The traveler barely lifted his head as a group of four dark-cloaked brutes stalked toward the bar.

“All’s Ah’m sayin’ is, it’s bloody well time we go’ a job,” grumbled a husky baritone, continuing a conversation he and his gang had apparently been engaged in—when they weren’t trying to coax the serving-girls closer with their beer breath. “Ah was told we’d be rollin’ in riches n’ fun. ‘Aven’t ‘ad a fair share o’ neither in a dirty long while.”

There were a couple of half-hearted agreements between two of Baritone’s companions, but the third just chuckled icily. Baritone was easily the largest of the four black-cloaks, and he looked very much like a bear: all muscle and shoulders and fur. But it was fairly clear that of the four, the tall but thin man, Ice, was in charge. His gait was firm, confident in an intellectual way that the others’ were not. As if that weren’t enough, the red rim on his black cloak further differentiated him from his companions.

The group of four approached the bar. There was currently one other patron seated at the bar, now between Zaelor and the dark-cloaked band. But the patron was inconveniently taking up one of a set of what would be four empty stools at the bar.

Baritone Bear gave the patron a sneer as he pointed to his stool. “We’re settin’ here.” It was all he had to growl before the hapless patron slipped off the stool and scampered to a more remote corner of the tavern.

The four black-cloaks took a seat. The one sitting to Zaelor’s left didn’t even acknowledge him. He turned his back to Zaelor so he could better view the exchange between Bear and Ice.

“And you’ll do well t’ thank the Captain for it once we return,” Ice coolly replied to Baritone’s bellows.

“Pah.” Baritone clearly wasn’t convinced. “Ah’ll thank ‘im when Ah get what was promised me. Ah mean, what sort o’ job is this? Scout a coupla ruins…”

“And w-why now?” the dark-cloak next to Zaelor whispered—barely audible over the hum of the bar, if he hadn’t been seated so close. “I mean, nobody’s been sent there in ages…”

“Ehhhh? ‘E’s scared o’ th’ ghosties, is ‘e!” Baritone was more than eager to guffaw at his companion’s expense.

“Sh-shut it! You’re all scared of the D—!”

It was unfortunate that the only silent member of their band had chosen to sit beside Baritone, because Ice suddenly shifted in his seat, knocking their two heads together with a dull thump. The two injured cloaks howled and began nursing their wounds.

“You all had better shut it,” Ice hissed, apparently more than finished with his lackeys’ behavior. “or I’m the only one who’s going to be coming back to report to the Captain.”

It was enough to shut even Baritone up for the rest of the night. They lounged at the bar the rest of the night, boots on the counter, barking at the serving-girls and the bar-keep, slurping their food and drink.

It was a good deal later that Baritone finally passed out from all the alcohol. The other three were dozing and picking at the chicken bones still on their plates. None of them noticed the other patrons paying and leaving for the night.

* * *

Maybe I could be a florist, Zaelor thought as he left the inn and ducked into the underbrush out back. He rummaged around in the bushes, dusting away a thick carpet of leaves to expose a small, hand-dug divot in the dirt. His messenger bag and pin sat neatly atop the pile of his left-behind belongings. He grabbed those first.

...But then I'd miss the exceptional dinner talk.He dug out the last of his belongings from the hole and slung them over his shoulder: his unstrung bow and a quiver of black-fletched arrows.

Nothing but a hunter's life for me.

His piercing brown eyes glinted in the darkness as he slipped between the trees, disappearing into the night.

---
[Excerpt from The Victor's Blade; all content subject to change.]

Okay, disclaimer: any of these excerpts I post may or may not make it in the book. I apologize in advance if you see something you like that doesn't make it in. I try to post the most up-to-date excerpts I can, but keep in mind, we're working with a WIP. Never know what that Butterfly Effect will change!

But there's always been something I've loved about starting Zaelor off at an inn. Reminds me of a certain Strider I adore. He's a bit of a mystery man, isn't he? Let me know what you think of him down in the comments.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Confessions of a Planner

I've always heard novelists preach that you have to find a balance between planning and ad libbing. Some of your story needs to be thought out ahead of time. Some of it needs to just happen naturally while you write.

In fact, many authors warn about getting stuck in the planning phase, because it can turn into a black hole from which you'll never be able to escape. The thought is that there's always something you'll find to improve in your story, so you'll never go from the planning to the production phase. So in order to prevent that, the idea is to find the balance, find the right place to stop planning, and you'll just have to settle for your book not being 100% perfect.

Oh, I despise this so much. I'm pretty sure every fiber of my being screams against this philosophy.

You see, I have a confession:

I'm a dirty over-planner to the bitter end.

The problem with this philosophy is it is incredibly true. I'm terrified it's true of The Victor's Blade. What if I'm never satisfied with it, so it never gets published? What if I'm never satisfied with it, but it does get published? I don't want to pull it out of the oven too early! I don't want to smile at the dinner guests and present them with a half-baked, doughy book that could have been golden-brown and delicious!

(Mmm... Can you tell it's lunch time?)

As I mentioned in my "Plot Holes" post, I want my stories to be as cohesive as possible. Plot holes and logic-gaps are unacceptable! If an entire story arc could have been resolved easily with a little common sense, it's got to be changed! And, also as mentioned in the "Plot Holes" post, that's so much easier said than done.

And because it's so difficult, I find that I can't write a really good story--the kind that ties up all its loose ends and doesn't resort to cheap tricks at the end--without planning the thing from start to end.

Do all the details need to be in place? Probably not, but I'm also a firm believer in the Butterfly Effect. One small change in the plot could possibly create a big issue later on. One item of information Zaelor may choose not to tell Jaranin could affect every one of Jaranin's decisions, which create rippling consequences on every character he interacts with, which could result in Maddokar having more or fewer guards in front of his personal quarters, which could completely alter the outcome of the final duel.

So I use that as an excuse to meticulously plan my stories. Or at least The Victor's Blade.

It doesn't help that my experience with plot holes has only cemented the Butterfly Effect in my mind. Just take yesterday, for example. One smalllll discovery fixed one plot hole... but it altered the actions of three different characters, changed two different story arcs, and opened up a totally different plot hole later down the road... all because one character gained a single piece of information he had never had in my previous draft.

This is worse than I thought. I'm not just an over-planner. I'm an enabled over-planner.

Maybe I should just take a step back from the planning for a while. Maybe I just need to get an objective, big-picture sense of how ridiculous my over-planning is.


That'll do.

---
Holler if you're an over-planner! Over-planners, unite! We're not monsters, we're just misunderstood!

(I clearly need psychological help...)

 Photo by nuzree. Originally posted on--you guessed it--Pixabay.com.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

An Interview with Isalaina


Thanks for taking the time to talk with us today, Isalaina!

The pleasure’s mine! After all, Jaranin said it wasn’t so bad, so I thought if he was going to be brave, I’d have to give it a try, too. (Laughs)

So, let me get the quick and boring questions out of the way for the readers: tell me all the basics. What’s your full name, age, race, hair color, eye color?

Oh! That’s quite a bit there. (Laughs) Well, my name’s Isalaina Carpenter. I’m fourteen, on the cusp of my fifteenth birthday.

Really! When’s your birthday?

The fourth of Dralmey.

[June 3rd this year, by our calendar]

Ah… but as for your first question, let’s see… I have blondish hair. I suppose it’s a bit golden colored? And… eye color. Hm. Well, my eye color is a bit hard to describe. It tends to look a bit different depending on the light. I just like to say it’s grayish-green. Did I get them all? Oh! Race. Right. I am a Faer.

[Faer are winged beings who appear similar to humans, but many often have a wide variety of natural hair and eye colors, including normal colors such as browns, blondes, and blacks but also including those such as blues, purples, and even greens. Our closest equivalent would be a fairy.]

And where are you from?

I’m living in Sinoa with my family.

But you also spend a lot of time at the nearby city of Wilyan, correct? Tell us about that.

Well, that’s where I work. I’m an apprentice weaver.

[She usually works on a loom similar to this one]
Is it much different from Sinoa?

Oh, night and day. Sinoa’s just a small village. Hardly anyone lives there now. It’s just a few families. But Wilyan, Wilyan’s one of the larger towns in the area. It’s a bustling city. Lots of people coming and going each day—mostly from Embraeth, the other large town, but that’s a good bit south. Wilyan has lots of shops. There’s lots to do there.

So, as a weaver, what sort of fabrics (or clothes) do you like to design—or wear?

Anything with rich colors. We don’t get a lot of deep dyes, so any time someone brings in a dark dye, I have to use it.

And your favorite color would be…?

Green shades, most definitely.

What’s your family like? You mentioned your last name is Carpenter, and I know in that area it’s customary for the surname to describe what the family occupation is, so I can imagine I know what your father does for a living…

Yes, my father is indeed a carpenter! My mother’s quite sweet, but she and I have our hands full with my two brothers, Will Jr. and Reevus. Will’s older, Reevus is the younger one.

Two brothers, huh? I bet that’s a handful.

They are. (Laughs) But we get by.

So, Isalaina, what kinds of things make you happy?

Oh. By Orien. Well… I suppose spending time with Jaranin and Elun, my two best friends. And I love exploring the woods and the creeks around Sinoa when I’m not working. It’s simply beautiful country.

What kinds of things frustrate you, and why?

Nothing’s worse than when the loom breaks! I have to move to a different loom I’m not used to working with, and I can never get as much done while I’m waiting for Father to come over and fix mine. And… I suppose getting poor marks when I’m practicing archery is frustrating, too. I know I can do better.

Do you have any irrational fears?

(Very seriously) All of my fears are quite rational. (Laughs) I strongly dislike any crowds of any kind. People, insects, swarms of birds. There’s just too much at once and it’s… disgusting.

Do other people think of you as a trustworthy person? Why or why not?

I certainly hope they do. You can know a secret’s safe with me. I take things to the grave. But I’m also a good listener. I like learning more about others; you can’t do that if you go blabbing it to people who have no right nor need to know.

All right, here comes the deep question. Are you ready?

You’re making me nervous! (Laughs) But I suppose I’d better be.

Do you believe in soul-mates and/or true love?

Welllll…

I get the feeling you’re thinking of someone in particular right now…

(Laughs) Well, I certainly believe there is true love. I’m certain it’s quite difficult to build up—you have to earn one another’s trust and form a bond that neither one is willing to break. That’s difficult to do, but I don’t think it’s impossible. Just… time-consuming. (Laughs) I suppose that doesn’t sound nearly as romantic as soul-mates, does it?

But yes, I suppose I believe soul-mates are made—forged, I guess you could say? That sounds rather un-romantic, too, though. I don’t necessarily think love works in the way it does in stories sometimes, where they gaze into one another’s eyes and instantly, they’re in love. I mean, they don’t know one another. How could they truly love each other, then?

What would you say is the mark of true love, then? What does it look like?

Two people who… “have each other’s backs,” I guess you could say. They work well together. They know each other well enough that they know what to expect from the other person. They’ve passed the tests, they’ve remained true throughout the years. They’re honest with each other.

I think that’s the most important part. They don’t hold things back.

Thanks for withstanding my barrage of questions, Isalaina. You’re free to go now.

Oh, that wasn’t so bad at all. (Laughs) Thank you for having me.


---
Well, she certainly was concerned at first, but I think I might be able to get Isalaina to come back for another interview sometime. Leave a comment with any questions you have for her (or Jaranin too! He's much easier with the information than Isalaina is.)

Want to read more character interviews? Check out this one with the irrepressible elf Elun here or with the soft-spoken protagonist Jaranin here.

Questions based on Interview Your Character by FifteenthApostle on DeviantArt

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com


Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Pronunciations

First off, sorry for the delay in updates! Adult things got in the way of my posting for a couple days, so I'll try to make it up to you this week!


Now, you may or may not know this, but I'm a perfectionist. I'm also super self-conscious. Annnd I'm also terrified of being judged. It's a terrible combination, one which I hope none of you suffer from.

Needless to say, I'm hyper-sensitive to being wrong. I want to be correct! I like to get things right the first time (living life is very difficult for a perfectionist, as you can already tell).

This goes for just about everything, but for me, it goes double for anything related to words. I mean, words are my life. I devoted fifteen years of my glory days in order to study them!

So I'm very conscientious of spelling and pronunciation. I want to get it right. Mostly to avoid those awkward situations when you've been saying a name a certain way for literally years--only for that one person to start scoffing. Oh, you know the one. Obnoxiously-nasally voice. Grating lack of tact. Raised index finger gesticulating in the air as they proceed to "correct" you:

"It's not DEE-koo seed! It's DAY-koo!"

Everybody's a critic.

And were I the one-liner queen that I wish I was, that is the moment when I'd put my Communication Arts education to work as never before. I'd coolly explain to them how any living language transforms over time. I'd point out that this is why the current pronunciation of "Deku" is almost certainly not the original pronunciation (and thus even their "correct" pronunciation is, by their standards, wrong). In addition, I'd assert that the pronunciation of "Deku" has probably changed multiple times over the course of history, so there's probably a long history of people, like our Scoffer, trying to correct others only for history to have made all their "corrections" moot. And were the Scoffer a fellow American, I'd also point out that both our pronunciations are more than likely terribly mutated Americanized pronunciations of a foreign word, and that our American English probably doesn't even use the phones (word-sounds) required to pronounce it correctly. And that's not even touching on dialectal pronunciations, none of which can truly be considered "right" or "wrong" in a technical sense, only "more accepted" by the overarching social structures--and who cares about what they think, anyway?--

Of course, I'd never dream of being that nasally scoffer (psh, what's projection?), but I do have certain ways I pronounce the names of the people and places in my books. Would I say those are the "correct" pronunciations? Well... I would have before, yes.

But you know what? I think writing this post has altered my perception. You go ahead and pronounce those names however your little heart desires.

But for heaven's sake, it's JAR-uh-nin, not juh-RA-nin.


Hee. Just for funsies, here's how I pronounce my main cast from The Victor's Blade:

Jaranin - JAR-uh-nin (like a jar)
Isalaina - iz-uh-LAY-nuh
Elun - EE-lun
Zaelor - ZAY-lor
Emarella - em-uh-REH-luh

...There's a lot of schwas.

Oh, and here's some other miscellaneous ones:

Amboron - AHM-boh-rahn
Thoranan - THOR-ah-nahn
Maddokar - MAD-doh-kar (yes, like a car... beep beep.)

---
I can't be the only one who's met those Scoffers, right? Or have you--like me! Gasp!--been one of them sometimes? Do certain pronunciations just drive you up a wall? Which ones really grate on your nerves?

Photo posted by JanDix, courtesy of Pixabay.com

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Falling Into Plot Holes


Plot holes.

It's what I'm encountering the most right now during the planning process of The Victor's Blade, and let me tell you, they are a killer. For me as the writer and you as the reader.

Sure, parodies like YouTube channels How It Should Have Ended and CinemaSins get a laugh (and a viewership) out of logical missteps that a story takes, but is there much besides a flat-out bad ending that more roughly rips you out of a storyline? I mean, in Batman: The Dark Knight Rises, why DID the Gotham police force send about 99% of their guys underground at once? Or why DIDN'T Lucius put an emergency override on that nuclear reactor?

How It Should Have Ended would say it's "because he's Batman."

Plot holes tear apart the whole "suspension of disbelief" because, usually, they just mean nobody in your story is using common sense. There's no better way to remind us that "Hey, this is a story. A fictional construct of my mind!" than if the characters are running around doing things "just because" that's how it needs to work for the story to play out.

And nobody likes that. We like our stories to make sense. But I think most people also like being lost in a story. Plot holes ruin that.

But plot holes are also a bear to fix. A big, angry mama grizzly bear, to be exact.

I want The Victor's Blade to make sense. So it follows cause and effect quite carefully. For example, I realized that, realistically, if Maddokar the Dark kept hunting down and killing Jaranin's ancestors, not only would they move frequently to try to avoid pursuit, but they'd also take every precaution they could to not being found: namely, changing their last name. Repeatedly. So I had to (actually, still have to) come up with a list of last names they've used over the centuries. And Jaranin couldn't start the tale out going by his real last name of THORANAN. That's like wearing a giant sign that says, "Come kill me now, please!"

But I also have other items in my story I have pre-planned: certain events to raise suspense or drama or develop characters. Aaaaand sometimes they conflict with other ideas. Or sometimes there's just no reason for things being that way. Like, why is Jaranin's hometown so isolated from the rest of the world? Well, I want it to be that way so he grows up in a naive state about the outside world... But what isolates Sinoa in the first place? Mountains? Is it an island? Perilous magical forest populated by killer unicorns?

Oh, but the real doozy is when you discover a plot hole that literally sinks your entire story. Like how there's no way a bookworm turned swashbuckler could manage to sneak past an entire army single-handed in order to get the big bad alone for a duel to the death. Or why the big bad wouldn't just summon said army into the room if the bookworm even got that far.

Ughhhhh.

Plot holes.

---
What're your thoughts on plot holes? Do they wreck a movie for you, or do you not usually notice them until someone else points them out? What are some of your favorite (or least favorite) plot holes?

Photos courtesy of Pixabay.com

Monday, February 1, 2016

An Interview with Jaranin


All right. Let's start out with the easy questions. What is your full name?

Jaranin Riel. Or, well, actually, Jaranin Thoranan. Sorry. The last name sure takes some getting used to! (Laughs)
 
Do you have a nickname, pseudonym, or alternate identity?
 
Oh, well maybe I should’ve saved the “Thoranan” bit for this question? I only found out recently myself. Apparently my family has been changing their surname for some time in order to hide the fact that we’re Thoranans, descendants of the Faer Feris Thoranan—Oh, but you probably don’t know him, not being from Amboron and all… He was a war hero and, well, my hero, I suppose you could say.

And how old are you exactly?

Fifteen!

What is your ethnicity?

Eth… what is that, exactly? I’m a human, if that’s what you mean.

Right... Remind me to strike that one from the interview checklist. Let's see... Tell us about your hair (oh, that's a good one)! Color, style, length, all of that.

Oh, my hair. By Orien it’s atrocious. Well, you can see--but I suppose those readers of yours won’t. It’s brown. And it never manages to do anything that I want it to. Looks like I got up out of bed with it like this and never bothered to comb it through. Now Elun—Elun has a fine head of hair. I’d jump on the ocean rocks for that hair of his.
 
"Jump on the ocean rocks"?

Sorry! That's a Sinoan sort of thing to say, isn't it? It means I'd do anything for it. As in I'd even jump onto all those deadly, jagged rocks on the shores of the Xagimn Ocean.

Well don't do any rock-jumping until we're done here, okay? (Laughs) And what color are your eyes?

Brown!

Do other people think you look attractive?

Oh, well… I-I’m not… You’d have to—I’m really not the one to be asking for something like that…
 
Where were you born?
 
Sinoa. Tiny little—well, can’t even quite call it a hamlet. Just a handful of families that lives on the outskirts of Wilyan and Embraeth territory. More countryside and farmland fields than actual dwellings. But I love it there. The trees are tall and green and the breezes blow through the hills. Smells like flowers and grass nine out of twelve months o’th’ year. It’s lovely. You should visit sometime; I’m sure you’d like it.
 
Tell me about your parents.

My parents… (Sighs) Their names were Arenen and Elaine. I don’t… I don’t recall my father. He passed when I was a babe. And I don’t remember much more of my real mum. She was… beautiful. But the only memories I have of her was when she was very, very sick, so I remember her being quite pale. She looked like if you held her too tightly, she’d break into pieces like an expensive plate you dropped on the floor. She passed when I was three.

But I remember she’d hold me close, and I’d hold onto her neck to try and keep her warm. And she whispered all sorts of stories in my ear until she’d drift to sleep.

It sounds like your mom especially was really special to you. Are there any other people in your life you consider precious, and if so, why?

Naomi’d be the main one. She’s raised me since my real mum passed. Oh, she’s a peach. You have to meet her. She’s just one of those people that makes the room she’s in as warm as a fireplace. She’s always looking on the bright side of things even when things are bad, and she always has a way of finding a way to cheer you up.

And she makes the best scoff this side of the mountains.

 All right, Jaranin. Now come the hard questions. What sort of things make you feel happy, and why?

Whenever I’m feeling gray, I head out into the woods. There’s something about the trees that helps me calm down. Maybe it’s the quiet sounds of the creatures and the crisp of the leaves… or the way the light looks all soft and yellow when the sun peeks through the green leaves… I dunno. It’s pretty. Being anywhere pretty cheers me up quick!

And what kind of things make you feel angry?

I… don’t like to be angry much. But… if I had to pick one thing, I suppose, it’s the way people sometimes look at Isalaina. It’s not the fear I hate so much as when they give her that sneer as soon as she turns her back. I think she tries to pretend she doesn’t notice, but she knows. She’s too smart not to. And that look they give her—the way they talk to her and treat her—it makes me sick. Makes me want to reach out and hit ‘em square in the nose.

They don’t know her. They don’t know her at all, but they treat her like she’s less than dirt, and I—

Maybe we should go on to the next question, please?

Of course.

Thanks, Jeannette.

I'd like to know, what do you consider to be "the greatest sin"? In other words, what's the most evil thing a person could do?

Hurt another being, whether it’s by beating them or hurting their soul. And a whole lot of ‘em are guilty of the second even if they’ve never done the first.
 
Sounds like you feel pretty strongly about that.

I do. There’s nothing worse you can do than hurt another soul. And I don’t mean to duck the blame--I’m guilty of the same sort of thing. But you’ve got to try not to do it as much as you can. Otherwise, well... the world gets to be a dark place.

And lastly, do you have any enemies? I'm guessing an enemy of yours would be someone who didn't care who they hurt.

That’s right.

His name… His name’s Maddokar the Dark. You… may not have heard of him before. Honestly, not a lot of people have, even where I come from. But… he’s not good news. ‘The Dark’ is a good moniker for him, ‘cause he’s dark and wicked and… I don’t want to think about what might happen if he ends up getting his way.

I’ve only spoken to him once. But that’s the worst part—he doesn’t strike you as that way when you meet him, eh? He seems all prim and proper an’ cultured… Almost seems like he’d make a good ally. Like he knows all these things that’d be useful for solving the world’s problems. Like he really cares. But he’s not like that at all when it comes down to it. It’s just a sham.

That’s why I’ve got to stop him. I have to find the Victor’s Blade and… end his life. Or else he’s going to destroy Amboron. Maybe the whole world.

I can’t let that happen.
 

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[Questions based on Interview Your Character by FifteenthApostle on DeviantArt]

Do you have any questions for Jaranin? Drop them in the comments and I'll have him answer next time! (If I can convince him to come back for a second interview...)

Want to read more character interviews? Check out this one with Isalaina here or Elun here.