Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Writing Nonsense

I've recently kind of taken a lackluster stab at trying to re-write my story about the Nel and Keroen Skathos. There isn't a real strong purpose or intent to this post, it'll kind of just be me meandering and wondering and talking to myself about my story.

One of the things that frustrates me the most about my writing is that it is so haphazardly done. The one truly complete story I've written was written in essentially three parts with one or more years separating each chunk of the work. I wrote the earliest beginnings almost right out of high school, the middle chunk perhaps five years ago, and the final I'd say third of it maybe three years ago or so. I'm bad with the passage of time, so these times may be off. The writing fluctuates a bit not only in quality, but in intent. As I get older, like we all do, things change in importance to us and our mental state changes with it. We have different values and goals and likes and dislikes. We're constantly evolving. Sometimes when I reread earlier and middle sections of the book it seems almost as if another person wrote it and not me. I just run into these phases where I feel the urge to write and create all the time, and then I get these phases where I just don't give a fuck, which leads to big gaps in working on the story. These phases are what tell me that I could likely never make it as any sort of "professional" writer with deadlines and such. 

Additionally, the earlier sections of the story are based very lightly on the mythology of faeries and the Tuatha De Danann. Loria was once called Danu, Braldenon was once called Balor, Aubernach used to be Oberon, Grenaldeen used to be Avalon, and so on. So there are chunks of it where all the names have been changed but it still has that facet of the myths and legends to it. Back when Keroen was Cromm and Braldenon was Balor, it made a lot of sense (sort of) for Balor to have the Evil Eye. In folklore and myth Balor was called Balor Evil Eye or some such and he was a giant that had two dudes riding his back that had a crane that opened up his eye and laid waste to everything before him. With Braldenon, it's just some power he has. Now that I think of it, I'm not even sure he has an evil eye power in the context of the story's mythology anymore. I kind of went into a slash and burn phase when I decided to change all the names and places to stuff of my own devising to throw it into Hekinoe. 

I like the name changes and the place changes and making the story my own. It's a good thing. So many tales have been told and recorded and written and whatnot through the various media available to us that is hard not to step on anyone's toes these days. The story isn't by any means unique, but I like that it is now mine and not some mish mash of stuff from Jim Butcher's version of the Fey and some helpings of my own take on folklore. It's mine, I made it. Aubernach isn't the version of Oberon from Gargoyles anymore, he's mine. I made him the self-centered, tricksie little shit he is. Nostathon isn't some Fey version of Death anymore, he is the caretaker of The White Halls of Oblivion and the shepherd of all fallen Nel ensuring that they find peace and rest in his halls when they are cut down. 

As much as I like the story, I feel it is weak and inconsistent. The title makes little sense, The Last Blade. It made sort of sense when the Feronel were still called The Court of Blades and Keroen was the last of them at the end of the story. That's not as much of a spoiler as you'd think. I didn't think it was a particularly witty or descriptive title in the first place when I came up with it, it was meant to be there as a placeholder that kind of fit until I could think of something better and I just never seemed to get around to it or devote any mental energy to that idea because it kind of worked. After the revision though, it made absolutely no sense and Shawn said so many a time. 

The prologue has Nostathon sitting beneath the red sun of The Nightmare Lands trying to see the future because it whispers to him of death for his people. He stares at the sun and suffers and bleeds, only gaining a vague idea of what is coming. So he retreats to a timeless place only he can go (wtf?) to sit and plot and ponder. Over the course of the book, his plotting and pondering never amount to anything. He didn't plot anything or plan anything that occurred in the story. All he does is wander around behind the scenes verbally sparring with Aubernach and Contuck and periodically crossing paths with Keroen so Keroen has someone to talk at when I need to give him a monologue. 

The prologue and first chapter are kind of irritating because they kind of information overload a reader. There is no skillful presentation of knowledge. They just spam a bunch of names and kingdoms and different kinds of Nel so you know all the players and races with explanations of relationship and physical appearance and capabilities in just a few paragraphs. It is a snarled mess of information. There's no finesse to the process, just a sledgehammer of information. I mean, this isn't a normal fantasy story where you have elves and dwarves and orcs and the reader has a bunch of preconceived notions of those races and how to relate that information to the context they are spoken of in the book or to fill in the gaps when they are just spoken of by name. This is a book where the main characters are a dead immortal that can turn into a crow thing with insect eyes and feathers of insect chitin (I won't lie, there is a possibility I based this on the deep crow), a sleepy immortal that regularly culls the entire race for shits and giggles, a drunk immortal made of fire and light clothed in flesh, and an immortal made of clay that uses a club. There isn't the ability to say the word Nel or lastborn and have an unspoken agreement between writer and reader that says something like, "We're both nerds, we've heard of Lord of the Rings, this is an elf and you and I both know elves are foresty, have pointy ears, and are usually good with bows."

Although, to be fair, I haven't read a fantasy book that actually had an elf or dwarf or orc in it in...shit, over a year at least, and I read a lot of fucking fantasy novels. Though, I did just read a sci-fi novel series a month or so ago that had the Tuatha De Danann in it. Hmm, the A Land Fit For Heroes series did kind of have elves in them, but not elf elves, more like dimension hopping aliens that had elfy aspects to them and weren't called elves. I dunno, fuck elves. They had "dwarves" too, but they were more like a race that used geothermal energy to hop from planet to planet and made really tough metalwork. They were also black, so we're not channeling much more than "we live underground and mine shit" if we want to say they were kind of dwarves. 

Now, this meandering monologue about my writing brings me to a frequent question. I don't intend to try and get the book published or self publish, so what is the point of rewriting any portion of it for shits and giggles? I honestly can't say why, beyond I feel like it. I've thought about it for over two months now, since well before I wrote out that little Inconsistencies Continued thing on here. I feel like creating something, so I do. It's the same reason I act on some harebrained idea like making a castle fortress thing out of lava in Minecraft and spend an hour digging and plotting out the dimensions of the ground floor and spend a good forty-five minutes setting up the perfect lever controlled redstone circuit to operate the pistons that open up the floor above a pit of lava to drop enemies into before starting on the walls of the place. I'm fucking nuts and when I really truly get the urge to create something, I get all fucking autistic focused and ocd obsessive about it and do it, even if I can't come up with a reason why I should. 

So it has been a few days since I wrote the above portion there. I've rewritten the prologue and the first little bit of the first chapter of the story. I renamed it The Fading King, which while more appropriate than The Last Blade, I'm still not sure it fits or I really truly like it. Like The Last Blade once did, The Fading King works for now as a placeholder. 

The prologue is fundamentally the same, Nostathon attempts to get a glimmer of the future because he feels prophecy scratching at the rotted remains of his brain. So, with the power of his sleeping brothers, he goes and stares at the red sun of The Nightmare Lands and tries to perceive the future. Just like the original, he gets a few hints at what the future holds for the Nel but no clear data, so he resolves to be vigilant, rather than retreating somewhere to plot and plan like he does in the original. 

That's another flaw with the original story, there are way too many convoluted deaths for the Nel. The don't age or anything, but they can be killed. They can also Fade. When killed, they can opt to be reincarnated as the undead Sokarnel and lose all memories of life. If they refuse that option, they can rest in peaceful slumber in The White Halls of Oblivion. Ok, that's not really that many, but in the original prologue Nostathon does a lot of muttering to himself about fleeing beyond life and death and occupying some timeless realm of death that only he can access, and I have no idea what that is. The Nightmare Lands are kind of the underworld of the Nel, at least it is where the Sokarnel reside. But Nostathon states there is some other realm he can travel to beyond that, a realm that is outside of space, time, life, and death. This other realm is sort of intermittently hinted at and used once or twice, but never really defined, explained, or fleshed out beyond "I can do this because I'm dead and stuff."

I dunno, like I've said, I like the story. I've edited and re-edited it quite a few times but it just seems like there are so many flaws and quirks that need to be fixed and altered to make it decent. I don't know if my rewriting represents an actual dedicated effort, but we'll see I guess. 

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