parallax23: (reading)
Alter the Ending is my take on what happened when the characters left Laguna Negra, primarily Marcos, Julia and Ivan as they wrap up their final year and a half of education in public school.  It's a serial of 'one-shots' since it skips around to random events until the finale - Ivan and Julia's wedding.  Other major characters make appearances.

There's a few major arcs:

  • The kids adjust to life in a new setting, but they're hounded by the press - this is the subplot that runs through the fics, as Julia's mother will unwittingly date a reporter, Sergio, who is looking to know more about the events at the school.  Eventually, they find out and never speak to him again, especially when he chooses to continue writing about Laguna Negra instead of being with Julia's mother.

  • Each of the students meets with the school guidance counselor, and they have to decide what career paths they want to take.  This is a difficult process for each of them, particularly Ivan.

  • Marcos meets a new girl, but he's not sure if he's ready to move on.

  • Ivan's cousin Manuela attends school with them, and manages to cause trouble for him and Julia.

  • OTTOX is under investigation, but Ivan is still a shareholder.  When the charges against OTTOX go to trial, Ivan is accused of supporting them, which impacts his interactions with everyone who doesn't know him.  Sergio writes an article proclaiming his innocence and presenting the public with some of Ivan's videos.  When Ivan tries to reach out to him, Sergio explains that he was just writing the truth.  He tells Ivan there have been too many secrets for too long without a voice, and this will be the story that he will leave his legacy with, telling the truth about Laguna Negra, but he cannot have a personal connection to the story because it would ruin his credibility.

  • Hector and Maria start dating a year later, getting married two years afterwards.

  • There will be a moment when everyone is watching the World Cup in 2010, and Spain wins.

  • The closing story will be about Ivan and Julia's wedding, where they come across a box of old photos, and close off some dark memories to move on completely with their lives.

parallax23: (sweet)
The Shortest Distance

The Full Story Rundown: Four years after getting married, Kris and Junior are having a few problems, causing a rift between them.  They arrive at Raintree hoping to regain what they've lost over the course of time and travel, leading to several revelations about Kris - 1) her brother Jace wants to reunite the family for a long lost half-sister's wedding and 2) after an accident during training, Kris found out that she was going to have a baby, which effectively would end her career as a jockey.  Along with a few other mishaps, Kris's world is shifted off its axis, leading her to want some space from Junior and going back to Raintree for its familiarity, hoping to find herself again.  Eventually, she realizes that she can't go back to the way things were, she has to move forward.

Chapter 1 - "Distance" by Christina Perri
Chapter 2 - "Spaces" by One Direction
Chapter 3 - "Wild Heart" & "The World We Knew" by Daughtry
Chapter 4 - "Let It All Go" by Birdy & Rhodes
Chapter 5 - "Lego House" by Ed Sheeran

I don't think this story will be broken up any differently at this point.  Chapter 1 is when Kris and Junior return to Raintree, Chapter 2 is their interactions with Matt and Dani, Chapter 3 is the party, Chapter 4 is when Kris finally spills what's on her mind, and Chapter 5 is when Kris and Junior make up.

When I started this story, it was supposed to be about Kris finally meeting her father.  The reference to Kris's half-sister comes from the webisodes, when Jace wonders out loud if they have more siblings by their father that they don't know about.  Jace's story with Kris never got completed during the series' run for whatever reason, as he appears for most of the webisodes detailing Kris's life before Raintree (ending with a cliffhanger about the guys from the chop shop) and the third to last episode of Season 3, leaving on an ominous note that he would be there to pick up the pieces for Kris if/when something went wrong at the ranch.  (Considering how much went wrong in the Season 3 finale, it seemed like he was being set up as a main character in Season 4.) Kris would attend the wedding, confront her father, and reconcile with Jace that both of them were wrong in how they dealt with each other.  At the wedding, Junior would find out that the groom was a relative of Dani's, leading to Dani finally meeting her mother.  Then that would be a wrap for this fandom.  But as seen above, I felt like this fic was getting too out of hand (it was supposed to be a one-shot, but the momentum to get to these scenes was more than anticipated), and I left the ending open to interpretation.

If I was going to invest time into a Wildfire fic, I would have done it with rewriting the Season 3 finale and all of Season 4.  Season 3 wouldn't have the illegal match race, but a deal going south between Dani and Sheik Omar, bringing Junior back into the Davis fold, and an another event causing Matt and Kris to put their relationship on pause, all of it subtly tying back to the Raintree/Davis rivalry hitting a new peak with Raintree back in a steady economic position.  Season 4 would involve Junior turning into his father, Dani trying to find herself outside of the horse business, Matt looking at whether he thinks the farm should become more like Davis to compete or remain solely a family endeavor, and Kris managing her family's tumultuous re-entry into her life.  Gillian's exit would be more played out, in like the first or second chapter.  Then Kris and Junior would hook up in secret a couple of times, but then get caught via pictures published on the internet.  It would lead to the industry questioning if Kris and Junior had an agreement about what races were won and lost, because he's owner of a horse farm and she's the jockey for the rival farm, eventually causing problems with their families.  The situation would be particularly ugly with their private lives getting dragged out in public, which is hard on them because they're both trying to be taken seriously.  Junior realizes that he doesn't want to be his father.  Kris learns how to set boundaries with her family, and to recognize that she needs to reform her decision making process.  While Kris and Junior would remain apart for some time to defer the fallout, they come to a moment when they are forced to decide whether they're friends, rivals or lovers.  It won't be an easy decision for them, but they finally choose each other.  Junior proposes but Kris turns him down, saying that if they're together for one year and one day (their relationship was always on and off again, Kris wanted to see if they could make it work long term), he can ask again and she'll say yes.  In the meantime, Matt would get a new love interest more suited to him, but he'll have to work hard to not screw it up.  The show would end with Matt's wedding at Raintree, and Junior quietly proposing to Kris at the reception in the barn with Wildfire.  She tells him that it's been one year and six days, so she's not required to say yes, but she will anyway.
parallax23: (sweet)
While I was working on Alter the Ending, I stumbled onto the Wildfire TV series again.  (Seriously, what is my deal with dead fandoms?  This is the second one revolving around 2008, the year the show ended.  El Internado Seasons 3 to 7 took place in 2008.  I started writing Dark Angel fanfic in 2008.  I graduated from college in 2008.  Clearly, I have a subconscious problem.)  After watching the show all over again, I wrote a random post-series fic for the show, The Shortest Distance,  that was supposed to be a 'one-shot.'  Now that I'm typing it up, it's actually longer than I realized...  I'm somehow up to a third chapter now, and that's the midpoint!  When I wrote it, it was just a free flow into a notebook that I had, which ran a couple of pages because I thought it would be one chapter.  I blame the long commute, but this is a good thing / bad thing situation - it's good because this is shows that I've got the stride to build an entire novel again, but it's bad because it takes a lot of time to work on.  It just needs to be edited and posted, then I'll have more of Alter the Ending typed and also another few one/two-shots for El Internado (Ivan and Julia's wedding, Noiret's funeral, Christmas post-finale, another S4 'Roque finds out about Ivan and Julia' fic, and a fic about between S4 and S5 about how Ivan and Julia began dating, summer scenes), then it's lights out on the fandom.  Okay, I'm looking at that list, and I'm not sure how I wrote that much...  Or how in the world I can edit all of that in a timely manner...

Everything for these fics was pre-written, unlike Dark Angel's series, which I eventually fell behind with over time.  Managing a long running series rather than one-shots is definitely different and more difficult because of the momentum that has to be maintained.  El Internado fics came about by a sheer fluke, and I had no idea that I'd write so much for the fandom.  It's especially ironic because the show isn't in English, not all of fans are Spanish (the show was big in several international markets around the world) and no one reviews.  Sometimes I don't know if that means that I'm a good writer or not.  I thought it would be a waste for these stories to never have anyone read them, so I'm excited that at least I can imagine that someone else in the wide world is deriving some amusement from them.
parallax23: (sweet)


Everything Has Changed
"Everything Has Changed" -- Taylor Swift ft. Ed Sheeran
"Broken" -- Seether featuring Amy Lee
"Little Do You Know" -- Alex & Sierra
"Sledgehammer" -- Fifth Harmony

The Diplomat
"Who I Am Hates Who I've Been" -- Relient K
"I So Hate Consequences" -- Relient K

Things That Go Bump in the Night
"Last to Know" -- Three Days Grace
"You Didn't Tell Me" -- Lawson
"Over My Head" -- The Fray

Get Over It
"When the Heartache Ends" -- Rob Thomas

The Invisible Girl
"Invisible" -- Taylor Swift
"Misery Business" -- Paramore

What Do You Want
"Everything You Want" -- Vertical Horizon
"Honest" -- Kodaline

The Summer of Our Discontent
"One Phone Call"-- Backstreet Boys
"Lead the Fight On" -- He Is We

Ask Me How
"Monster" -- Imagine Dragons

Good Boys
"Team" -- Lorde

Emergency Faculty Meeting
"Crashed" -- Daughtry

Alter the Ending
"Alter the Ending" -- Dashboard Confessional
"We Remain" -- Christina Aguilera
"Grow Up and Be Kids" --- The Cab

This Is How A Heart Breaks
"Unraveling" -- Tyler Kyte
"You Don't See Me" -- Safetysuit

When the Morning Comes
"Point of No Return" -- Starset

Rumour Has It
"Rumour Has It" -- Adele
"Girlfriend" -- Avril Lavigne
parallax23: (sweet)
Back in December, I wasn't in the office much because of the way the holidays occurred this year.  I was also missing my best friend who was in China for the break, and I had just finished all the classic movies on my Netflix queue when the site recommended the show Gran Hotel (which is infinitely awesome and I highly recommend), a pre-WWI mystery set in Spain.   I studied Spanish on and off from 6th grade through college, and while I've never been fully fluent, I know enough to get by and I can gauge some of the regional accents, so the subtitles helped when I couldn't recall.  The show was so amazing that I powered through all 3 seasons (considering that 1 episode is about 70 minutes long, that wasn't easy), and I wanted more.  But the show ended neatly after Season 3, so I went through the IMDb pages of the lead actors Amaia Salmanca and Yon Gonzalez hoping to find something else.

Under Yon Gonzalez's page was the listing for 'The Boarding School', and it reminded me of 'Strange Days at Blake Holsey High', which gobsmacked me with nostalgia.  A quick YouTube search showed that someone was translating the series into English for fun.  I needed the subtitles for this one terribly, because it was full of modern slang and a less formal way of speaking, plus Spanish from Spain is quite different than Latin American Spanish that we typically get in NYC.  The show was like Lost, if it took place at a boarding school.  It ran from 2007 to 2010, while the story only moved from 2007 to 2008 (two big years for me, so I'm completely in tune with the time that it takes place).  Right now I'm up to the tail end of Season 6, and while the show has taken a turn for the worse (it seems to have gotten renewed more than expected, so it dragged out a lot of the plot lines), I really enjoyed Seasons 1-4.

The hardest thing about this show is that while it was quite a popular series, it was still quite a few years ago.  Also, Spanish fandoms aren't as hardcore as English and Asian fandoms (that means that there aren't as many wikis, fan sites, etc. that Americans are used to), and I haven't been able to locate any decent fanfics because all of the main hosting sites folded and took the stories with them (and it seems that may not have been hosting the show at the time).  I don't really expect any sort of reaction to the fics that will go into this fandom, since 1) I'm writing them in English since writing them in Spanish would take too long, 2) the fandom is mostly outdated and dead, and 3) they're mostly one-shots or two-shots.  I'm posting them because I ended up with so many sketches that it would be a waste not to share them.

Not sure how or why, but the show took me back to a place where I could write again. When some tumultuous things happened this year, I threw myself into the story and wrote a couple of short fics for it.  I'm going to post them on here and under my account.
parallax23: (stagger)
I've gotten into another show, El Internado Laguna Negra, (Black Lagoon Boarding School), which is the Spanish boarding school version of Lost, and fits as a muse for a few older YA stories I have.   Max/Alec fans might enjoy it since Julia/Ivan have a similar dynamic.  Personally, Fermin is my favorite character.  Since I might be posting some El Internado fics in the future, I wanted to close the curtain for Dark Angel. The reason I decided to put the writing version of training wheels back on is because I really need to rebuild my ability to write. While I don't think it's going to be as prolific as Dark Angel for my writing, I don't want it to be. I stumbled upon El Internado because I was watching Gran Hotel on Netflix, and went through the IMDb list of previous shows the lead characters starred it.  For some reason, EILN caught my eye and reminded me of a show I loved when I was younger, and I happened to find someone posting the series subbed in English (oddly fortuitous timing? how can I say no?).  Since then, Julia and Ivan have replaced Max and Alec as my muses for scribbling.  The show has its faults, but for some reason it's got my imagination in gear because it needs so much "fixing" that I can work with it.

I've always had a thing for TV shows with glaring logistical errors that I could fix through writing, and so I've spent more time writing for myself and making sure I kept up the momentum to write with this new gust of minor inspiration.  DA fanfic a few years ago was to keep my writing limber, but I need to feel confident in my writing again.  I once read that if a writer restarts too much, it means that she doesn't have faith in the story and lacks the confidence to see it through.  Based on what I've lived through, I think this is true.  I haven't been able to see my stories clearly, and I keep circling the writing drain of too many cold openings that go nowhere.

In my experience writing, it's clarity of vision that comes through in writing.  Scenes that I wrote clearest were always the ones that I could see the clearest.  It was obvious when I got stuck writing, the words dragged or got tangled.  But clarity comes with confidence.  If I can't confidently see what's in front of me, then there's no hope for writing.  If I don't believe in what I see, then I can't write it.  Watching the show kicked off my muse again, and I had started writing original plots again.  I was about to hit a stride when I got some disruptive news that almost stopped my writing again.  Instead of giving in, I pushed through to keep writing since my day to day activities hadn't changed.  This incident also gave some insight into why I had problems writing over the last few years, which had to do with bouncing around between jobs and going to grad school.  My mental energy was getting sucked into finding and learning new jobs so often, my brain couldn't find space for writing.

I'm using the scenes coming to me from the show I'm watching to rebuild my ability to see a scene from start to finish.  The first one I wrote, I wrote 3 different versions with different set ups and dialog and events.  At first, I felt like I had failed because the first one didn't come out the way I had wanted, but I realized that I could rewrite it as many times as I wanted.  I keep small notebooks with me for short scenes and ideas, and I've almost filled up one I bought last November.  Usually, it takes 2 years to fill a small notebook, because I'm not supposed to write stories with multiple scenes in them since they can eat an entire small notebook.  I changed the rules a bit to keep my writing momentum going and to vent about how things were going.  I've made some progress.  I'm crossing my fingers for more and bought an extra notebook.
parallax23: (on your own)
Freedom!  Summer is finally officially here for me - no classes and no exams until the fall starts!  I'm crossing my fingers about a new job opening, and I'm finally free to write again. 

First on my agenda is finishing up Between the Lines.  There's only a few chapters left and I already have the ending worked out, all I have to do is write it.  Other DA fics are currently on hold, I'm sorry to say.  I really want to get back to my original writing.  I have this new story in the works - steampunk/urban fantasy that involves a girl with a curse.  Since my inspiration lies there, I'm going to set my focus on that one.

I'll also be posting some of my original unfinished stuff on TWA, since maybe some feedback will kick-start my motivation to finish them.  I have changed career fields and I'm still in grad school (which are two very big goals I had set for myself last year and am proud to say I accomplished), so things will be erratic for a long while.  That doesn't mean I will give up though.
parallax23: (traffic)
Being in grad school, having a boss who impersonates Pol Pot and all that other life stuff in between really wreaks havoc on trying to write.  I can't even believe that November is over and I didn't get the chance to write anything.

Ironically, this is the month when there was an episode of Being Erica where the lead character realizes she's gotten far away from her dream of writing fiction.  Then the entire episode of The Simpsons featuring Neil Gaiman and the entire publishing industry.  Then someone said that it figured that I couldn't keep writing because I've never been the sort of person who could finish what I started, which I found insulting.  That kind of got my gears in motion that I had fallen out of my writing habits, and writing is a habit and perpetual process no matter what.  Then I got a kick in the pants when I saw that someone reviewed Wake... and I felt floored. 

How did I let myself fall off the wagon like that?  I put my fanfic aside for original writing and I ended up accomplishing very little in either.  I keep starting stories but then scrapping them, I remember reading that when a writer did that too often, it signaled a lack of belief in herself and therefore the story.  I've gotten stronger resolve to finish Between the Lines since its the closest story to being done. I even worked past an inconsistency that I didn't like just two days ago.  Once that's done, it's on to Wake... and eventually Long December.
parallax23: (hands of time)

It's half an hour before the end of Day 1 into NaNo and I decided to post here instead of going to bed.

I thought I would use this month to start another novel or maybe even get some fanfic writing done.  The truth is I haven't been connecting with any of my story ideas, so I have trouble seeing them through.  I had hit a really good stride back in 2009, but now I'm running on empty again.  When I'm really in tune with a story, it comes alive on the page.  I can feel that my work is dragging but I don't know what to do to grease the wheels.

Hopefully inspiration will come...

parallax23: (sit alone)
Thanks to everyone who sent me birthday wishes.  I had a wonderful time turning a quarter of a century old.

I'm also more and more freaked out by how coincidental the shows Once Upon a Time and Being Erica are with my life.  Sometimes I feel more like a character than a writer.

I know I haven't been updating or writing much in general, but I still have goals to finish.  I'm happier now than I was this time last year.  I've made peace with things I can't control and I feel like I'm building momentum to something great.

Cheers to another birthday gone by and many more to come!
parallax23: (Default)
It's been almost a year since I last updated a fic.  It's hard to imagine that time has gone by so fast, another year will be over soon.  I haven't quite given up on the series, I just don't have time these days.  I'm especially guilty after I was hanging out with some old friends and Dark Angel came up and the general consensus of loss over it.

I also can't seem to get any writing done for my other stories.  I have tons of ideas, but none of them are quite panning out.  I'm waiting in the wings for a few other opportunities to come through as well.  Bouncing around is making me crazy.

I just don't want to end up as one of those writers who writes tons of stuff that doesn't become anything but wood pulp for Staples memo pads.  But I've also seen that life sometimes takes you to strange places.  Maybe it'll take me to a place where I can finish a story again, instead of living a life that seems story worthy.  I'm saving all of these experiences up and someday, somehow I'm going to use all of them in my tales.

There have been wild postulations that the world is going to end on May 21st this year.  Lucky me, I get to be a bridesmaid and when fire and brimstone come down, I will be dashing around in a poofy pink/fuchsia/magenta dress.  You can totally tell I didn't pick this color, but it was all we could get on short notice.  Also, I nearly fell over laughing when I saw that the new Bridesmaids movie posters had similar dresses to ours. 

Who needs fiction when you're me?
parallax23: (hands of time)
I'm in total awe of it being 2011.

It's a whole new year.  While sitting on the train to my friend's house party, I wrote in my mini-notebook how ironic it was that I was going to be spending the New Year with two friends that I knew in 2000, then lost contact with until 2007 and we're closer now than when we started.

The decade from 2000-2009 had to be the most insane decade of my life, now and probably forever.  It was my teen years, high school dramedy, writing my days away and going to college and having my entire world turned upside down.  It's hard to imagine that another entire ten years of my life is complete.  The decade was off to a rough start in 2010, but I'm hopeful that this year will turn things around.

There are a lot of things that didn't turn out the way that I planned.  There are lots of things I wish I could change and lots of things I wouldn't change for the world, which would be a really weird Venn diagram.

So here's to a Whole New Year of falling in love, singing in the streets during ungodly hours of the morning, laughing until my face hurts while strangers stare, writing in quiet corners, old acquaintances not forgot and all the new things that I'll look back on in 2021 and shake my head at.

Welcome to 2011!
parallax23: (Default)
Instructions: Copy this into your NOTES. Bold those books you've read in their entirety, italicize the ones you started but didn't finish or read an excerpt. Tag other book nerds. Tag me as well so I can see your responses!

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings -- Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte (x2)
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte

8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare (I think I've read all of them...?)
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger (high school flashbacks)
19 The Time Traveler’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald (x2)
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky

28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens  (okay, weird fact, I never read this book but my dad did and I can mysteriously answer all Jeopardy questions that are What is David Copperfield?)
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma -Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe - CS Lewis  (Wait, why is this separate from The Chronicles?)
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini (seriously?  pop fiction? not that it isn't a good book but it's not canon or that widely read)
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - A.A. Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell (why did they make us read this in 8th grade and never explain the connection to the Russian Revolution?)
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown (how did this get on the list?)
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood (Awesome book, definite must read except the ending sucks)
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov

63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold (this shouldn't be on this list!)
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville (Oh god, never again.)
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Inferno - Dante
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - E.B. White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad (The horror!  The horror!)
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

Total Score: 26/100.   Edit 12/20/2010: New Total Score 27/100!  (I finished reading A Christmas Carol, which I'd downloaded on Kindle and started before I got this list.  It's a good story, but it was frustrating because there was nothing new about it that hadn't been done on TV or Broadway or movies.  That's probably because it's a short story at 110 pages.  That's not a full novel like this list claims.)

Huh, I've noticed from this list that I'm not particularly good at finishing all the books I read.  I think there were some books that deserved to be on this list that weren't included, and several that didn't deserve to be on here. 
parallax23: (max/alec)
Hard to imagine it's been over 2 years since I officially joined the Dark Angel fandom.  It was a different show for its time, the first show that mentioned the Taliban and to use the ticker tape at the bottom of the screen that we're so used to seeing now.  It was also the first mainstream primetime show to actually have real diversity.  But it was hardly one of the truly epic TV series of all time.  Too many plot inconsistencies and fraying at the end are what did the show in. 

Still, it was one of the best worlds to play in.  If it wasn't, it wouldn't still be a pretty active fandom being written for, since the show has been off the air for almost 10 years.  Dark Angel and Firefly are two shows FOX canceled in succession and whose fanfics became in essence greater than the shows themselves in some ways.

When I joined in 2008, there was a lot more activity going on than its had recently.  Sure, when a fandom is new there's tons to discover and nothing will compare to that, but 2008 was a busy fandom year.  The Alphabet Games were going on and there were a lot more creative risks being taken with Max/Alec shipping, along with more M/A fics in general.  Several great serial stories were in full swing and it was an exciting time to be a reader -- where would Max and Alec be in their next adventure?  There were lots of different AU, Manticore, and S2 Redux stories.

Nowadays, it feels like  there's not much going on.  There are a few interesting stories, but nothing that's really grabbed me.  There are fewer M/A overall, which is pretty sad.  I've been thinking about posting that long awaited (and bemoaned) Chapter 6 of Wake... which is why I'm thinking about the series as of late.

FYI -- I use the Max/Alec ship as a litmus test for how much I'll get into someone's work.  Not that I'm hating on M/Ls, but from my experience I've been keener on the writing style of other M/A shippers.  It probably has something to do with liking snarky heroines and morally ambivalent bad boys.
parallax23: (we roll)

This is the best news I've had in a long time.  Avatar: The Last Airbender, which has to have been one of the coolest TV shows in the history of TV shows will be getting a follow-up mini-series known as Avatar: Legend of Korra.  Below is the first image released for the show.

Legend of Korra

The official Wikipedia Series Overview entry is:

Korra is a female Waterbender native to the Southern Water Tribe, as Water succeeds Air in the Avatar Cycle. Korra has already mastered Waterbending, Earthbending and Firebending, but has yet to master Airbending. She will learn Airbending from Aang and Katara's son, Tenzin, an Airbending Master. Unlike the previous series, Avatar: The Legend of Korra is rooted in only one place. This location is called Republic City, a place where people of all nations, benders and non-benders, live together. The city is ridden with crime and is rattled by an anti-bender revolt, which serve as challenges for the characters in the show.

The bad news...  How could there possibly bad news?  Right, the series won't start until November 2011 and it's only going to be 12 episodes.  Still, I'm psyched to see it.
parallax23: (not the hammer)
After deciding to hit reverse and shift gears, I ended writing almost 2k words for Aerie last night, which was twice what I'd written for The Destroyers on the first day.  I should have some extra free time next week to make up for the ground I lost, but plowing through a story that doesn't want to be written was bogging me down even worse.

I've figured out how to do the word count for my notebook as well. 

1 line = 11 words
1 page = 26 lines

I might just finish this!

Now if all my problems could be solved so easily...
parallax23: (not again)
Blah blah blah, I choked on The Destroyers.  I just couldn't get into the characters' heads and the story wasn't flowing.  Also, I had a disaster with Google Docs and am now trying to salvage Chapter 2.  FYI, Google Docs doesn't compare to MS Word.  Don't even think it.  It's like using WordPad.  It actually might be worse than WordPad because it has a higher crash rate.

Anyway, I'm switching to my back-up story Aerie.  I'm also writing it by hand after that whole mess.  At least it's early enough for me to salvage.
parallax23: (not again)
Writers live and die by inspiration.  There’s no telling when or how much inspiration will hit you.  Sometimes it’s hard to tell which is worse, a surplus or a deficit.

Too much inspiration and a writer can feel like she’s being pulled in too many directions.  Too many ideas, too many characters and too much clutter can damage the direction of a story.  It can also be aggravating if there are too many story ideas and it’s unclear which one to flesh out, because a writer can really only pick one story to throw her soul into.  Maybe a second one to off-set the emotional demands of the first (like if a story is too dark or too light, writers will have a second story they’re working on to air out emotions and ideas they can’t use).  After that point, the work starts to suffer.

Too little inspiration and a writer feels like she’s dead and it’s the end of the line for her writing, period.  Uninspired writing isn’t always horrible, but that exception only rings true for a handful of writers (e.g., Charles Dickens but he channels that disgruntled-ness into his writing rather than it permeating around the prose).  Writer’s malaise can seep into a story quite quickly and the reader will feel how exasperated the whole scenario is.  It’s sort of like cooking, when the person can taste the cook’s passion and other emotions in the food.

Suffice to say, I’m suffering a little from Category A and a lot from Category B.  I’ve had several (what seem to me at the moment) very good story ideas.  I’ve got them sketched and scratched all over the place (I’m working on getting my scanner up and running to declutter those).  Anaxarete, Elara, Prufrock, Confessions of A Fairy Godmother, and Aerie are all really good stories, perfectly delineated and waiting to be written.  Then there’s my fanfic, which I’m sure I’m disappointing someone somewhere with because I know that Wake is beyond awesome but it won’t actually be awesome until it’s done. 

I have a surplus of inspirational ideas, but for some reason I can’t get any of the stories off the ground.  I can’t find the right place to start telling from.  There are huge holes that weren’t obvious in the outline.  Maybe the characters didn’t turn out quite the way they were planned.

Basically, I’ve got writer’s block in the worst of ways.

I’ve been trying different coping methods. 

1) Stepping away from writing.  --  Sometimes when you’re just too close to a story, it can get claustrophobic.  No room to breathe.  The problem with this method is that it can ruin writing stamina and encourage a writer to quit out of sheer lack of motivation.  Needless to say, it’s like falling off a horse, not getting back on and deciding to go on the rest of your life without riding.

2) Doing more: Read, Watch, Listen, Learn. 
--  You don’t have to wait for inspiration to come, you can hunt it down. 

A) Reading books similar to the one you’re trying to write can help by showing how others did it, what ideas are out there, and shaping your own to be unique or even reference something you thought was brilliant.  Or read something completely different and find a really cool new angle that you can use in your story, like in a dark, post-apocalyptic story give the dark character an oddball sense of humor. 

B) Watching movies and TV shows has pretty much the same effect, but it’s more visual which you might need as a push when trying to put together a fight scene or game scene that need to be visual. 

C) Listening to songs that remind you of your story can is another route.  I know lots of authors (myself included) who put together soundtracks to keep them motivated while writing, and it can help keep you in your writing frame of mind without having to write. 

D) And finally, we arrive at the learning curve.  Even if you’re having trouble writing, research and learn as much as you can about the topic you’re interested in writing about (writing about dragons, research every dragon myth or story you can).  Or improve on your skills as a writer by learning as much as you can about grammar and punctuation and how to type properly (a lot of people who post things don’t realize they make tons of small errors with spacing, etc.).  Or learn how to query and get into the industry, so that way when you are done you won't lose as much time looking for info about how to get in.

3) Fighting fire with fire.  --  Or in this case, if you can’t write, force yourself to write.  Maybe you’re just missing momentum to get your story where it needs to go.  Take part in NaNoWriMo or host your own.  Sometimes the hardest part of the journey is Chapter 1.  No matter how good or bad it is, just do it.  It helps to set goals for yourself as motivation, like you need to get to Chapter 7 in two months, otherwise you’ll waste time putting it off.  Right now, I’m writing as many author notes on anything and everything, even stuff that won’t be a part of the story in its prose form -- motivations, inspirations, background notes.  At least this way if I put the story on the shelf, I won’t be scratching my head later over details when I pick it back up.  I have been writing for a while and know that this happens after you put a story away and return to it later. 

As always, I’ll let you know when the block has been chiseled.
parallax23: (traffic)
If you're reading my fanfic and my LJ, you'd know that I've been uninspired and having a hard time writing. *coughs* see previous entry from last week *coughs*  Nothing was coming -- not Prufrock, not DA, not Confessions of a Fairy Godmother...  Then yesterday I stumbled onto a song and got inspired again.

Well, if you're following the Against Time Series, chapter 6 is done!  That's right.  Only to edit and hopefully it'll be up by next week.  Trust me, I'm probably more excited than you are to finally get it out.  I've started chapter 7 and things really start heating up.  Fortunately, I do have all the main events plotted out and hopefully it's back on track.

I didn't think I had it in me to keep going, then I heard Hedley's "Perfect."  It totally reminded me of Alec and it fits perfectly with Against Time.  Then suddenly I wanted to write for Wake... because all these images came flooding back.  And there we have it.  So simple?  Yeah right.  I wish.

I'm not an audiophile like some of my friends, but music does play a big part in my writing process.  It helps set the tone and pushes me to keep going.  I've had whole stories inspired by a single song.  I also have a knack for picking songs that will be big on TV show and movie soundtracks, so I think I'm pretty good at choosing music for atmosphere.  And that I spent way way way too much time in front of the TV as a kid.

parallax23: (Default)
In my absence, I've been contemplating the importance of bad writing.  Yeah, there's nothing more important when it comes to bad writing is to avoid it like the plague, but alas both still exist and exposure is a learning experience...  at least bad writing isn't a death sentence.

Bad writing you teaches you what not to do, and what mistakes you can easily fall into while in the writing zone.

1) Repetition:
Constantly repeating the same scenes or dialog or details is quite possibly one of the most aggravating things I've seen.  If I can turn the number of times a dialog occurs or a detail is repeated into a drinking game that will give me blood alcohol poisoning before Chapter 10, that means you're doing it wrong.

2) Lack of clarity:
Someone pointed out that some of my transitions made her have to read the sentences over to figure out what's going on.  I totally hate reading a story that I have to read the same few sentences and still scratch my head going 'What the fuck is going on here?'  So I've put that on my list of patch-ups, ironic since it's a pet peeve of mine.  (EDIT 6/5/2010: I am not bad with transitions after all!  I used to use underscores to break up the sections, and I've just discovered that has now removed the underscores for all of the stories I have posted!  Huh, so it wasn't me...  But now I have to fix those chapters :P)

3) Lack of character: 
Sure you have characters, but I have a saying -- Characters are people, not props.  Characters that lack agency, proper motivations, or just seem like dei ex machina (I looked up the plural of deus ex machina) are not meant to be main characters.  I've lost count of the number of characters I've read that don't seem to think and the story seems to happen to them.  Also, on a side note, please stop with the short heroines with fiery red-hair and fiesty personalities, it's like a damn little orphan Annie convention.  Cardboard cut-out characters and villains are also signs of poor writing.

4) Nothing happens: Ever open a story that sounds great on the back cover, the dialog is interesting and the characters have potential, then to all of a sudden find yourself periodically wondering when something will actually happen, only to find yourself reading in circles?  The story hasn't really progressed anywhere, the characters haven't done anything worth noting.  This situation ends in one of two ways: a) the end is pretty much null or b) the author seems to remember that there was a plot and crams it into the last three or four chapters, out of like twenty-seven.  Either way, it was a crap reading.

5) Contrived plot: Everyone knows a story has a plot.  But it doesn't have to be something that blatantly points to there being a plot.  Writers are supposed to be weaving an illusion.  Overly contrived plot lines are like pulling back the curtains on a stage play to expose the crew members heaving harnesses and pulling trapdoor leavers.

6) Dry writing: So the writer has a plot, slick characters, and the execution is flawless except for one thing... the narration is rather dry.  The sentences and dialog don't grab you, it's a struggle to keep from skimming and praying for some oasis in the desert.  This is one of the saddest examples of bad writing, because you can see the potential for greatness if the writer's style wasn't holding it back.

7) Writing men wrong:
 Too many female writers mess up when writing men, and make them sound more like women.  I'm odd and can spot this like there's no tomorrow (after a couple of pages I figured out that writer Rob Thurman was a woman before looking it up online).  It's quite annoying because it's such a blatantly feminine thought process, guys don't think the way women do.  Their system is a bit more direct than ours, they don't tend to think themselves into as many circles because they're usually looking to act or react.  (Please see The Ladder Theory.)  Another thing is the token gay best friend that gets written so cliche, as if he's some magical fairy godmother there to help the heroine with no personality other than his obvious attraction to men.  I have a gay best friend and we talk about more than guys, that's why we're friends.  Not because he's gay.

8) Writing what you don't know: The old adage to "Write what you know..." is often misinterpreted.  It's not that you can't write about something you don't know about, it's using what you know to write well.  I write DA fanfic, I don't live in Seattle or 2019.  What do I know though?  I know there's Max, Alec, and the gang.  I know they live in Seattle.  I know their likes, dislikes, tones, trials and tribulations.  If you asked someone who never saw the show, they'd have no idea what to write, would they?  The point of "writing what you know" is simply focusing on what you know has to sync up to something else.  Just like if you're writing a Victorian novel, you're not going to have your characters hopping on a plane to Cancun.  You know there weren't planes during that period.  Focus on what you know rather than troubleshooting details that you don't have and can easily slip into a trip-up.

9) It feels like something's missing:
Writers know their stories inside out.  We know what happens, when it happens, and why it happens.  We also know birthdays, what color socks they wear and what their favorite sex position is.  The problem is that the audience doesn't.  An effective writer conveys all the information needed at the proper pace to keep the audience in the know.  Too many times there have been details left out that would explain a character's actions or behaviors, either completely or dropped in at a moment that makes that information moot.

10) Logic FAIL:  There are certain things that make me lose respect for a story, and one of which is spotting failure in common sense on behalf of the writer.  I was reading a book where the characters met at a "post-wedding engagement party."  That's right, they met at a wedding "reception" but the author just couldn't call it that...  Heck, I'm Indian and we don't even have a something called a "post-wedding engagement party."   In the same book, a main character's friend reassures her that a strange guy hanging out in her apartment all weekend until she gets home to have sex with him is perfectly harmless.  Okay, in what world wouldn't a woman call the police on that?

11) Background FAIL: Next on our list is background fail.  This is what I refer to when reading a light fantasy/sci-fi that doesn't establish what kind of world the story takes place in.  Is it known that vampires exist by the general public? Are they born or made?  Can they be in sunlight?  Sometimes one and not the other, but you don't find out until you spend the whole novel piecing it together yourself and it's all around confusing while reading.  It's back to the whole Writing 101 for you.  (See #9.)  Another form of background fail is when there's too much insulation with the two main characters that it seems like nothing else is going on outside of them.

12) Not enough layers:
Every novel has a main plot, but to fill the rest of the story there needs to be subplots.  How the heck an author writes a single layer novel is beyond my comprehension, and falls deep below expectations.  A truly amazing story is the sum of all its parts working in cohesion, and without layers and fine tuning it looks like a home ec project gone wrong.

13) Bad characterization: Characters are like our own children.  We're bound to parental praise, but watching other characters crooning the merits of the lead characters is just too much.  "No one is more suited," "he's the perfect man," and "no other woman could ever compare to her" are just a sampling of this insipidness.  Your characters are cool.  According to you, not what they do...  Another thing I've picked up on and find more disturbing is when describing characters is correlating evil to black hair and dark eyes, and the characters having to prove that people with black hair aren't sinister, which is a recurring theme I've found in romance novels where a "sweet and humble white" girl has to fight an "evil and conniving [insert non-white ethnicity here]" girl.  What kind of Mormon commune does the author live on that black hair and dark eyes are so rare to be considered "exotic" and "sinister" while redheads are always fiery with hearts of gold?  Last time I checked, the most dominant genes were for dark hair and brown eyes, and red hair defines nothing about personality.

14) Poor intonation: Maybe the word isn't "poor" but it's the only adjective coming to mind right now.  The moment I start reading a story, I can hear the writer/narrator's voice in my head.  Sometimes I like it and sometimes it's like nails on a chalkboard, but it's very personal and isn't necessarily indicative of the quality of writing.  I don't know if anyone else can pick up on it, but I can spot right away if a writer was frustrated while writing a piece or if her head wasn't all there, and it comes off in the tone of the story and I get frustrated while reading.  A lot of times people neglect that the voice of the story is just as important as the other parts.  Some narrator/author's voices are more versatile than others, it's kind of what separates Michael Jackson from a lounge singer in Atlantic City.

15) The name game:
Naming a character is one of the hardest things for me to do.  I don't know if anyone else keeps paper lists and Excel files full of names, origins, what languages they're used in, affiliations or whatever I use to catalog for that particular list.  For a character, the name has to sound right.  I also make it a point to never repeat main characters names in other stories, but that's to keep things straight in my head.  Over the years I've discovered a few things about good names: a) don't use anything too long or too strange sounding because the reader can end up tripping over the name too much and it looks unappealing; b) don't use a name you can't pronounce in real life, it might look nice on paper but your eyes and ears might disagree; c) make sure the name is appropriate for the story genre, frou frou strange names are great for sci-fi or fantasy not for a coming of age story, and not using names that don't fit the atmosphere (e.g. naming an ancient Oriental princess Gwenevere).  There are certain names that are pretty common and now come often feel like default characters, like Bella/Isabella/Isabel/Belle/Isabelle (clumsy waif) or Logan (spoiled rich white guy) or Kane/Cain (the cliche bad boy whose soul the author seems to connect with).  The minute I see these names I feel like I've got them figured out.

16) Too Much Information aka TMI: It's nice to share as much of the story as possible with the reader, but plenty of times there are things that should just be left out.  I can't stand when a writer goes on for pages and pages with information that doesn't give a new depth to the characters or push some part of the main or subplots forward.  Sometimes you earn a pass if it's a sort of thing to be savored, like a love scene or just a witty exchange that makes the experience feel fun.  Bogging the story down with extra information should have a reward of some sort.  Something I really REALLY hate is when a writer uses racial barriers as a selling point for a plot description, yet the story has nothing to do with overcoming cultural differences.  A person's race is often a menial detail, and can be addressed in the text but never in the summary unless the story is about specifically about race relations.

January 2017

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