Habitual July: A Return to Writing (Hopefully)

I'm a little disappointed in myself -- this disappointment comes in bouts. Even with school, I'm not a busy person. I have so much time on my hands, and I'm not making use of it. If I can't do it now, how will I do it when I barely have any time to spare?

But the gist of it is, in three words: I miss writing. The more time you spend away from your world, the farther from it you are, and the harder it is to get back into it next time. I won't let Válkia get away from me. Sometimes it may take a holiday, and I can't stop it. I'll accept that.

But when I saw the clock tick over to 12:01am, I was inspired to start up my habituals again, something to get me writing something every day, and I feel like accountability is the only thing I've got going for me.

So I'm here with a somewhat ambitious monthly goal: 7,000 words. But being on holidays, I'm sure I can take one or two days off doing nothing in order to get a thousand words in.

The focus this month isn't writing lots or to a goal each day, but to write something. If I feel like I want to challenge myself some days, then that's great.

Reading a blog post today, I was also inspired to try something different with my writing if I felt it would get me writing. That is, if you have a scene that you are excited to write and the one you're writing isn't exactly getting you pumped, charge ahead and write that scene! You can come back to the current scene later. I'm hoping that having written that later scene might in turn inspire me to finish off the first one. Even if, by some crazy circumstance, I didn't finish it, I have time to go back near the end or at the end of the first draft. I won't have a choice, really. But knowing me, I'll want to get it done.

I probably won't update every day -- I think that would be tedious for all of us. I might update twice or thrice a week. That way we won't get clogged amongst my other posts.

Wish me luck! (I may need it.)

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The Válkia Chronicles: Maechre Aura [Concept One]

After having made edits to the concept of the remainder of Aundes Aura, there is a lot I'll be missing out on writing that I feel really summed up the Chronicles, bringing peace back to Válkia. These novels are fairly plot-driven so far, and I think they work well that way. But the characters and their motivations should be consistent and meaningful. The Aundes Aura cast didn't really fit the concept of shiny epically epic Part Two, so I stripped Part Two back so that it's significant to the characters, and they help the world in their own way.

So it seems like Aundes Aura may not be the very last book chronologically. As part of Válkia's history, the conquering of the Church is something I really want to explore, and just now I feel like I've come up with a decent way to approach it. Sure to change and develop profusely, this is the first concept for Maechre Aura.

(In order to facilitate this idea, I have swapped two gods between countries. Maechre is now attributed to Meira and Taemus is now attributed to Duthonne.)

Maechre Aura


Six years after the events of Aundes Aura, a new character of fifteen years living in Robarre, Duthonne, is forced by Duthonian soldiers to watch as they drive a blade through his father’s chest. They leave him with a scar across his cheek, and his mother a mental wreck.

Seven days later he is kneeling, mourning at his father’s gravestone. He places a hand on the gravestone and then he feels something growing inside him – the earth rumbles and shakes. He feels empowered. He runs home, the wind stinging his eyes. He tells his mother excitedly that Father has given him a gift – but it’s as though he isn’t even there. Trying to get her attention, he grabs her hand and, to his success, she looks at him. But her eyes are wide and teary. Slowly she lowers her head to the table, and then she stops – freezes. Her grip loosens. She stares up at him with unseeing eyes. Dead.

With this strange and terrible affliction, this boy will avenge his parents. He will take it all the way to the dictatorship of the Church and overthrow those power-hungry bastards, instating the true heir, signing a treaty with Meira and returning peace to Válkia.

Outlining: Chapter One (revised outline)

While writing today I was struck by the desire to write out the revised outline for Chapter One. I don't know why. Lately I've had a great sense of needing a good idea of how things are going to pan out. I can only attribute it to that. Well, I'd like to see what you guys think of it.

For those who have read the first chapter, does this look like an improvement? For those who haven't, how do you think this could be improved?

Chapter One (revised outline)
·      Eoin is sneaking around Old Hanne’s house. He’s about to steal a few pieces of bread. There’s a flash of light and he hears stairs creaking. He runs outside. Saera’s kneeling on the ground. He helps her up and they run. She tells him she saw Hanne get up, and she can’t explain what happened next.
·      They get back to their tree, where they’ve been sheltering inside a huge hollow in the trunk. A month ago their father had been conscripted into the army. He’d refused to fight and they took him away. Eoin knows from the stories that he would have been thrown into the dungeons. Since then they have taught themselves to steal food and pilfer coin as they try to save up enough to take the carts to the city, where Eoin can become an apprentice and they can live in the quarters provided.
·      That morning they head to the market. On the noticeboard they see pinned: Wanted: Descendant of Aundes, the Blinding Goddess. 1,000 gold.
·      Eoin and Saera decide the only way they can resolve this is to get rid of the Aura. They go to the church to pray in hopes that the gods will take the Aura back. Saera says it didn’t work, and Eoin asks how she knows. She tells him she just knows.
·      The reverend enters the church. He speaks to them, with a sense of suspicion on his tongue. “Is it you they’re looking for?” he says, off-handedly. Saera and Eoin go to run but he catches them. “Don’t be alarmed, now. I’m here to help.” He explains that as a reverend he is expected to know about the gods, and he knows no god is evil. Of course, he can’t go around saying that or he’ll be thrown into an insane asylum. But he knows someone who can help them. He gives them a pouch of coins and a letter to his master in the city. They will have to leave now, though, for he is compelled to inform authorities lest he be thrown into the dungeons like their father.
(After the Master Ecclesiarch completes his ritual with them, he will tell them “Something is wrong.” The reason is a secret for now.)

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Procrasti-Nation: Rock 'n' Roll Nerd (More Tim Minchin)

Update, "Progress" and Excerpt, aka: The Ridiculously Long Sorry Post

I don't know if you've noticed my little word count meter trickling along lately. Well, I've been writing.

It's not much. Only last night and tonight I wrote, to a total of roughly 200 words. Sad? I don't think so. I feel great. After such a long time sitting at an almost stand-still, getting the ball rolling again is an amazing feeling. To have gotten the characters through just two rooms after a month-long break . . . it's freeing.

I mean, I can't say it's phenomenal. It's no ten thousand words. But I feel like I'm getting somewhere again -- getting to that point where I'm inspired by my own somewhere-getting to somewhere-get even more. Yeah, that was articulate.

I think I understand now why I stopped for such a long time (and it broke my heart every time I was reminded that my novel wasn't going anywhere!). It's because I'm now past that midway point.

Passing the midway point you should speed up, right? I figure that's logical. The problem was that I had created too much in my mind. I knew I had another two thirds at least to write, and if the first draft was ever going to be 120,000 words, I'm sure I would never finish it. I'm very comfortable with my 75,000 - 100,000 word goal.

I was very insecure about my ability to make it even to 60,000 words -- even less again, to be honest. I created an epic Part Two where the main characters end up the world's saviours. I fell in love with it. But now I see that it's unnecessary.

In discussing my concerns with my friend about my ability to fit it all in and finish the novel, I had concluded that I would have to cut down on Part Two. But I loved it! I didn't want to cut it out! He made a very useful remark here: "Well just think: what's the story about? It's about Eoin and his quest to save his sister, isn't it?"

Well, yes, but . . . shining epically epic Part Two is shiny!

Well, it's taken me this long to come to terms with what must be done. I believe this will result in a stronger novel with more direction than I had in my original plan.

I've removed a major section from the story (and here I'm talking about the prospective story -- none of this was written. I only make the smallest of edits while I'm still working on the first draft) where I can tell you now that Faine actually procured Maechre Aura (of the God of Death/the God of the Passing) -- something that won't happen in the new version.

There was a part where Saera was stuck in a world in-between, neither alive nor dead, because of a sacrifice she made. The plan was for Faine to bring her back with his new power, but at a price. He wouldn't be able to touch her, as Maechre's touch kills any person. And he only did all that because of his love for her.

I will still have two parts. I've now moved the end of Part One to earlier. It will now end in the next one or two chapters. I like how it clearly marks the increase in danger found in Part Two.

The main things that I've removed entirely are the wandering around, collecting people with Auras, and the totally epic overthrowing of the Church which I really wish I could throw in but I just don't have enough time and it's really not that relevant to the characters. Maybe I can write it in the appendices?

Bits and pieces of that original plan might fall into place, or I'll fit them in if they complement the action of the story. But the focus is on the characters now, and I have a great sense of direction that I think will help me finish sooner.

I was reading blogs two nights ago, and I read one from Nathan Bransford discussing the up and down contour that shapes a good novel -- sort of action, reaction. A positive that gives hope, then something that pulls that hope away from us, the a triumph over that obstacle makes us feel even better -- this is what keeps us reading.

Seeing his outline example of the Star Wars film, as well as reading so much about writing on blogs that night, inspired me to sort out what I was going to do with the rest of this book. And I did.

I've now got a 400-word outline from where I am until the end of the novel, and it's very pretty. What's exciting is I can mark the various dot-points with "up" and "down". I can see what Bransford was talking about. I think this contour can be applied to scenes as well in order to keep them interesting, but if I want to talk about that it will be in another post.

So I may not be writing much at the moment, but I am writing, and that is the best thing of all. Whether I move forward incrementally or in leaps and bounds, anything is always better than nothing -- especially if you do it daily, or just regularly.

With one day left until the holidays, I think I've made a good start. But these holidays I will push myself harder. If not 500 words daily, I'd like to write 300 words daily. If I miss a day, I won't try to make up for it, but continue on as if I'd never missed that day.

That's it for now. I'll leave you with this excerpt -- the last thing I wrote. (I'm so dash-happy today!)

The first guard looked Eoin and the others up and down. Eoin shifted uncomfortably under his gaze. “Right, follow me.” He led them through one of the great doors – doors so huge that they could have fit three across and still have room to spare – and into the opening hall. The floor was adorned with a beautiful red carpet, covered in abstract yet formulaic white patterns. A stone stair tapered inwards as it crawled up to the first floor. Eoin ran his hands along the intricate designs carved into the balustrade as they climbed the steps.

“My name is Sir Halbaer, by the by. So many people pass me every day and I can’t keep up with all their names. The least I can do is provide others with my own.”

The same red and white carpet covered the floors of the castle halls, which were otherwise decorated with portraits of kings and queens past. Nearly all the stone of the walls was covered with red wall-hangings, a golden vase sitting on a table, a heraldic shield, anything to hide the sombre grey of the walls that instilled that depressing sense of nothingness. In a place so devoid of colour, anyone could go insane.

I actually have a question for you lovely people: Do you find the word verandah in common usage? I'm actually looking for a word to describe the . . . um . . . area one walks out onto when they go outside on a multiple-storey building and they are above the ground floor. Balcony? What would be appropriate in a castle setting?

Procrasti-Nation: Delita's Theme

Just here to say I'm still alive and give you a little proof while I'm at it. The truth is that I find my inspiration for blog posts when I'm writing, and I haven't written much at all this month. The holidays are coming soon, in one week actually, so I should take full advantage of that free time.

Here's a little piano piece from the game Final Fantasy Tactics. I play Final Fantasy pieces almost exclusively to be honest. If I find any other games with music that is as amazing as that of the Final Fantasy series, I may consider adding those pieces to my repertoire (which is ever-expanding and currently spans three full plastic slip folders -- not so surprising since there are fourteen main games in the Final Fantasy series at the moment and many, many more non-main games).

Departure from Falii: Original Composition

In my extended absense from blogging, for which I apologise, I offer you this piece of music I composed today. Enjoy!

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Welcome to The Dark Corner of the Mind. My name is Ryan Sullivan and my aim with this blog is to help others with their own writing, as well as to make note of some of my own writing endeavours.

Here at The Dark Corner, Real Life is both our best friend and our worst enemy. Look to him for inspiration, but don't let him get in the way too much.

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