brightwanderer: Guardian Sol from Celestial Chronicle (Guardian Sol)
Second part. Very different. Slowed things down a lot, and then in some ways, sped them right up.

Celestial Chronicle - E02: The Flame )

Also, I made a cover. I may post that too.
brightwanderer: Guardian Sol from Celestial Chronicle (Guardian Sol)
Okay, let's try this again! I took down the previous version of the first chapter of this story. Then I renamed the story. Then I chopped the end off the previous version and wrote a second chapter instead. And now I am posting those two chapters. This first one is much the same as the original draft, it just stops a few lines before the end of one scene. The second one is totally different. Now with bonus Luna cameo!

Celestial Chronicle - E01: The Spark )

Old draft

Sep. 20th, 2014 02:00 pm
brightwanderer: Guardian Sol from Celestial Chronicle (Default)
Semi-final draft of episode 1 of what I think is now titled "The Maze and the Mirror" (possibly with a subtitle like 'tales of the celestial guardians') Celestial Chronicle. I'm 99% sure it's done except there is a tiny part of me that wonders if it needs one more scene on the end or something.

[NOTE 21/11/14 - I've taken this down because I decided to rewrite the second half and split it into two. New version will be up shortly. :)]

Now I need to figure out where to put it so that people will actually find it...
brightwanderer: Guardian Luna from Celestial Chronicle (Guardian Luna)
Luna is not convinced by whatever Sol is suggesting, but he's too polite to say so. That won't last.


Unconvinced Luna is Unconvinced
brightwanderer: Chikane and Himeko from Kannazuki no Miko (Kannazuki no Miko)
I'm almost done with the first chapter/episode of the Celestial Guardians thing. Not quite sure what I'm going to do with it then. My vague long-term intention is to post it serially on the web and then collect it into volumes (hopefully with manga style illustrations!) and sell them as ebooks if people are reading it/interested. However I'm not quite sure right now what the best venue is for posting it initially... I can put it up here, but I'd like it to have a slightly more formal feel.

I'm also trying to get a title sorted as well. There's a part of me that wants to call it "SOMETHING SOMETHING CELESTIAL GUARDIANS" (where SOMETHING SOMETHING is along the lines of MAGICAL DESTINY or DEMON FORCE etc) but it's juuuuuust a bit too cheesy. Even though this is the definition of cheese.

I'm about 90% settled on "No Sleep for Dreamers". The only problem with that is that it makes sense thematically but not immediately. If that makes sense. Which it may not.

Anyway, you know I mentioned illustrations? Since I am not skilled enough to draw to the standard I want, I've been experimenting for a while with ways to cheat, using 3D software and effects, so have an an in-progress picture of Guardian Sol (Akemi). She still needs a belt and her transformation medallion, and I think I might need to remodel the tunic to fit better, but I'm pleased with the gloves and boots so far.


brightwanderer: "In a different world we might be lovers." (Alterniverse)


THIS IS THE BEST DAY OF MY LIFE
brightwanderer: Guardian Sol from Celestial Chronicle (Default)
This sheds a whole new light on Ami-chan's afterschool activities.

brightwanderer: Guardian Sol from Celestial Chronicle (Guardian Sol)
Edit: This is an old draft - ongoing story can now be found under Celestial Chronicle


So a while ago I wrote this Shousetsu Bang Bang story about a mixed-gender magical girl team and it was basically just a vehicle for yaoi porn except I kind of wanted to turn it into an actual series and since everything else I've tried in the last year has stalled I thought I'd give it a try.

*

Following a mysterious albino cat down a tangled forest path was supposed to lead to adventure in a magical kingdom, not getting stuck halfway up a tree and losing a shoe. It would be less embarrassing if Hana wasn't laughing quite so hard.

"This was your idea," said Akemi, leaning over to see where her shoe had ended up. "So how come I'm the one in the tree?"

"You're always the one in the tree," Hana managed between giggles. "'Cos you're better at it and I'm scared of heights."

"This hardly counts as a height." Akemi was barely two metres off the ground at this point, though it had taken a lot of effort to get there through the tree's dense branches. "Can you find my shoe?"

Hana began scuffling around in the bushes, still laughing. At the edge of the small clearing, the mysterious albino cat was watching them with suspicion, punctuated by the occasional growl. Its considerably less mysterious, less albino kitten mewed pitifully from the branch where it had apparently become stuck, still some way above Akemi's head.

"Maybe she didn't need our help at all," Hana was saying as she searched. "Maybe she was just going to go get it herself and now we're in the way."

"You couldn't have said that before I got up here?"

"Oh, here's your shoe! No, wait, this is someone else's. It's got moss on it, ew! Why would there be more than one shoe here?"

"It's a shoe-eating tree, obviously. Tricks people into climbing it and then steals their shoes."

"Okay, this one's definitely yours."

Hana passed the shoe up to Akemi, who checked it for moss before putting it on. Then she resumed the slow climb upwards, weaving her way through the thinner branches and testing her weight on the bigger ones before moving.

The kitten hissed at her.

"It's going to scratch you as soon as you're in reach," Hana said. She sounded less concerned than Akemi felt was strictly fair. "Just so you know."

"Thanks..."

She was almost within grabbing reach of the kitten, but paused to assess the best way to grab it. Unfortunately it was facing her, which meant that teeth and claws were both ready to take on her hand. There wasn't any good way to get around behind it, though, so Akemi attempted to distract it by rustling the leaves over to one side and then, when its head whipped round, made to grab it around the middle...

The kitten sank its teeth into her hand before falling sideways off the branch.

"Oh no, kitty, don't--!" Hana shouted, but the kitten had already hit the ground - feet first, with no apparent harm. It spun in a frenzied circle, hissed at Hana, spotted its mother, and ran towards her. Both cats vanished into the bushes before Akemi even had time to say, "Ow!"

"Are you okay?" asked Hana. She was still fighting giggles, but at least she sounded like she meant it. "Are you going to need stitches?"

"Hardly." The kitten's small teeth hadn't even broken the skin. "Great, now I have to get down..."

"You could just jump. It's not that far."

"Too many branches in the way." Akemi started edging back down the way she'd come. "It should be quicker to get down than it was getting up..."

A glint of something caught her eye and she paused. Now she was facing the trunk of the tree, she could see a little hollow where two branches came out and curved straight upward, and something in the hollow was shiny enough to catch the light even within the dim enclosure of the tree's leaves.

"Hang on," she said. "There's some sort of--" she laughed to herself, remembering the conversation leading up to their diversion into the woods. "--mysterious glittering object up here."

"Ooh!" Hana circled around, trying to see it from the ground. "What is it? What is it? Magic ring? Magic wand?" She paused thoughtfully. "Magic piece of gum wrapper?"

"I can't see from here, wait a sec..."

Akemi stood up on the branch, balancing so she could reach as far as her arm would go. She could just get her fingers over the edge of the hollow. She hoped there wasn't anything nasty in there. Just as she got a grip on something metallic, her foot slipped... and she discovered that it was, in fact, quicker going down than getting up.

"Oh my gosh are you okay?" This time Hana wasn't laughing as she rushed over to where Akemi had landed. "Akemi?"

"Owww..."

"Is anything broken?" Hana knelt beside her and started prodding her arms and legs. "Can you sit up?"

"Yes, and no, in reverse order." Akemi sat up carefully. She hadn't hit her head or anything, but her arms were scratched up and she was going to have a massive bruise on her hip. "Ow." Then she brightened, bringing her hand up to show Hana. "But I got it!"

"What is it? A watch?" Hana tilted her head to look at the disc of metal, almost completely darkened with age and dirt, lying in Akemi's palm. The only shiny part was a bit of coloured orange glass in the centre. "Like an old pocket watch on a chain?"

There was indeed a chain, hanging broken from a loop on one side of the circular object. Akemi turned the disc over, looking for a catch that would open it, but if there was one, it was jammed shut and hidden under the dirt. She tried rubbing the grime off the surface, but she mostly just left smears on the metal and turned her fingertips black.

"Needs a good clean, whatever it is. Think it'll grant us three wishes if I polish it hard enough?"

"Or give you the power of time travel." Hana took the disc and held it up in a patch of sunlight. The glass glittered in the way that had caught Akemi's attention originally. "It's too thin to be a watch, I think. There's no room for the gears."

"It's probably just a really fancy button. Or a charm off someone's school bag."

"Yeah, probably." Hana offered her the disc with a smile. "But if it does something cool, we're coming back to find me one too."

Akemi laughed, and put the disc in her bag, and they followed the twisting path back through the dense trees until they reached the less neglected part of the shrine grounds. Out in the full daylight, the state of Akemi's hair and clothes made them decide to skip their usual after-school stop for sodas, and go straight back to Hana's house, where they'd do what they could to repair the damage before Akemi had to head home to face the music.

Behind them, in the now-empty clearing, the albino cat reappeared from the bushes and went sniffing around the base of the tree to see if they'd left anything to eat. The leaves rustled as if in a breeze, although there was no air stirring anywhere else, and a few of the branches settled into more comfortable positions.

The tree said, "She climbed me."

The cat startled at the voice from nowhere, and bolted back to the bushes with her tail puffed out to twice its normal size.

"She actually climbed me. How undignified." A pause, then laughter like bamboo chimes on the breeze. "Oh well, it's a start."

[Cue Intro!]
brightwanderer: Ariel from The Little Mermaid (Ariel)
I expect there are other names for this behaviour, but I call it "optimising". I think it's distinct from general perfectionism; it manifests in a specific way.

It's when you look at a task or goal and think that there must be one "correct" way to do it - one "optimal" solution, like fitting all the pieces correctly into a jigsaw puzzle.

It is not, in itself, a problem, necessarily, if you are someone who follows through on that thought, finding the optimal solution even if it takes a bit more time and energy than normal. It might be irritating for other people who just want a solution, any solution, and are, for example, quite happy to just buy that TV there rather than exhaustively compare all available TVs to find the "right" one, but for the optimiser, it's not particularly a handicap.

Where it becomes problematic is if you are someone like me, who has the first half of the behavioural pattern - wanting to optimise a solution - but not the second half - the ability/desire to actually do it.

It's a problem then because the process becomes:

1. A Task needs completing / A Solution needs finding.
2. There must be an OPTIMISED SOLUTION for this!
3. Finding the optimised solution requires more effort, time, money, or a better sense of spatial awareness than I possess. (Or - spoiler - there may not in fact BE an optimised solution.)
4. ........ so I can't start this task, ever, because if I do it WRONG and NOT OPTIMISED then something something something DISASTER CATASTROPHE RAIN OF FROGS.

One of several things I have had to consciously train myself to do as an adult is to identify that pattern and short circuit it by just picking a solution, any solution. Sometimes I lie to myself by saying this solution is "just temporary" and I'll find the OPTIMISED SOLUTION later.

For me, the things that tend to trigger it are often things that involve literal space. Tidying up the house, for example (which is why I'm thinking about this today, as I unpack after moving); I feel like there should be a RIGHT way for me to put things away in the bathroom (should I use that drawer for soap and so on? Or is there a MORE OPTIMAL USE for that drawer?!?). Should I divide my important documents this way, or that way? Is one of them MORE OPTIMAL? Packing to go on holiday - I can't put anything in the suitcase! I don't know what the BEST WAY is to put things in! RAIN OF FROGS!

I notice it as well when trying to draw out plans, diagrams etc on paper - timelines, tables, floorplans, maps. I hesitate to put a mark to the paper because WHAT IF IT TURNS OUT THAT MARK SHOULD HAVE BEEN MADE THREE MILIMETERS TO THE LEFT?! And in writing lyrics and poetry; sure, that line rhymes and fits, but what if there is a MORE OPTIMAL LINE that could be there?! What makes one line better than another? And in planning and plotting fiction (not in the actual writing of it; I don't agonise over which configuraton of sentences to use) when I'm trying to decide exactly where and when things should happen: I become paralysed by the conviction that there's an optimal solution to my plot elements, and that committing to any one part of the whole will invalidate everything else or break it or something something something RAIN OF FROGS.

For me, the solution is the same whether I'm putting things in drawers or plotting fiction: just shove it in there, for heaven's sake, and if it turns out there is a MORE OPTIMAL thing you could be putting there, guess what? You can take those things out of the drawers again later! And put them somewhere else! Or move that plot element over by a couple of chapters!

And the interesting thing is how rarely, really, those things do get moved later; how rarely it turns out that there truly is some sort of optimised solution that would be better than "just put it where you think it would be okay to go", how rarely it is necessary to repack the suitcase or rewrite the plot arc. And even when those changes do happen, it's usually not because of some overarching optimised solution; it's usually the result of small-scale, organic alterations that make it obvious, suddenly, that your life will be slightly improved if you put something else in that drawer, or the story will flow better if you move that plot element back by a day.
brightwanderer: Ariel from The Little Mermaid (Ariel)
... write an urban fantasy story where the "four elements" that make up the most powerful magic are gravity, electromagnetism, and the strong and weak nuclear forces.

Because -

brightwanderer: Ariel from The Little Mermaid (Ariel)
Today for some reason I find myself thinking about Avatar (the one with the blue cat people, not Airbender). Possibly because at the cinema last night (where we saw Iron Man 3, which was AWESOME) there was a trailer for what appeared to be Fern Gully 3D (actually called Epic I believe).

I didn't really think much of Avatar. I saw it at the IMAX and in 3D (though that was actually the experience that convinced me I did not want to watch films in 3D) and yes, it was very pretty and the CGI was impressive, but it was just so shallow in terms of storytelling. But one particular thing bugged me, and felt like a thoroughly wasted opportunity, and it's interesting, because I think it's a classic example of a story being forced to follow a pre-determined path instead of the creator stopping and thinking about what the factors they've got so far could add up to.

(This is something I think about a lot. I once read an article that quoted a writer lamenting the advent of modern technology as ruining all stories FOREVER. He said you couldn't write Romeo and Juliet now, because they'd just be texting each other and there'd be no tension. I have spent a not inconsiderable fraction of my life since working out several dozen ways you could tell the exact story of Romeo and Juliet in the modern era, just to spite him. I actually think that the mobile phone age is a gift to writers who want to use that sort of communication blackout in a moment of crisis. Fifteen years ago, I knew the numbers of my family and friends by heart. Right now the only numbers I have memorised are my mother's landline and my own mobile. If I lost my phone I couldn't even call my partner or sisters from memory.)

So back to Avatar. There was a lot of entirely justified criticism that it suffered from White Man Syndrome - the main character (white dude) enters the world of a group of native non-white people (in this case blue cat aliens) and proceeds to totally save their culture and home by being waaaaaaaay better than any of them at the customs and skills they have spent generations perfecting. It's insulting as hell, of course, but it specifically pissed me off about halfway through the film, when the Evil Colonel Dude takes away the avatars and leaves the main character and allies stranded in their totally-not-as-cool human bodies.

If you absolutely had to have the White Dude save the Natives singlehanded? This was the perfect moment for him to do it using the skills he had and they didn't. He was inside the human base. He had access to their technology. He and the others could have gone on an awesome sabotage spree, assisting the people of Pandora by getting into the systems they didn't know about, using all their Human Traits (tm) to overturn the operation from within. It still would have been iffy in terms of Big White Hero Saves Less Advanced People, but at least it would have been specifically using his skillset.

Instead, they grab their avatars, bust out of the base, go set up in a mobile home in the mountains, and proceed to fight the human threat by riding dragon-birds and throwing spears - but way, way better than the people who've been doing it all their lives, of course. Somehow, one extra White Dude on a dragon-bird just made all the difference.

Yay.

The film was lazy and shallow and problematic on many levels, but that moment was the one that just lost me as a writer. There was so much they could have done with the human protagonists in their own bodies at that point. And they were right there! In the HQ! And instead of doing something with it, they just leave.

(And let's not even get into the "it's totally better to euthanize yourself and transfer your mind into a swanky new alien body than to have to live with a disability, lol" ending...)
brightwanderer: Guardian Sol from Celestial Chronicle (Default)
Summary: Kestrien is a world imbued with magic - except in the city of Thari, where the great Shield cocoons its inhabitants in a haven of logic and science. Jenna de'Sorres can think of nowhere she would hate to go more - but she may have no choice.

The Calm Before
1. Low Tide // Jenna
2. Cracked Glass // Alla
3. Missing Wings // Mikhal
4. Box of Secrets // Aethe
5. Spectator Sport // Kerne
6. Locks and Keys // Viridian
7. Waiting for the Rain // Rhinn
8. High Tide // Jenna

Notes: A sequence of short stories touching on the viewpoint of each of the major characters in the "City of Glass" series.
brightwanderer: Guardian Sol from Celestial Chronicle (Default)
I went back and forth for a long time on whether to include Rhinn in these stories. The actual novel is written from Jenna's viewpoint, and Rhinn is something of a mystery to start with, so I didn't want to get too deep into her head. I think I've managed it...

The Calm Before - 7. Waiting for the Rain )
brightwanderer: Guardian Sol from Celestial Chronicle (Default)
Finished the last three parts, so I might as well throw them all up here now. I'm keen to get going on the novel proper - which was half the point of writing them, so, success? :)

The Calm Before - 6. Locks and Keys )
brightwanderer: Guardian Sol from Celestial Chronicle (Default)
Interestingly, this has turned out to be less about Kerne than about the people Kerne is interacting with, but that doesn't entirely surprise me for various reasons.

(Also, my new icon is because I have a music video in my head that WILL NOT GO AWAY. It is from this universe, but from the Big Important Backstory stuff that comes in later, and thus I cannot particularly elaborate on it. Except to say that Arellia needs hugs.)

The Calm Before - 5. Spectator Sport )

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brightwanderer: Guardian Sol from Celestial Chronicle (Default)
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