auronlu: (Plot Device)
I just added up all my main characters, trying to make sure I didn't forget anyone. And I am BOGGLED. How did this happen? When I first wrote the drabble-that-turned-into-a-oneshot that was the seed-idea for this saga, it was a cast of FOUR, with one more right at the end. Now?

Love Her and Despair CAST: (scale of 1-10 for minor to major character): 
  1. Auron   --  10
  2. Lulu      -- 6-10
  3. Isaaru   -- 7-9
  4. Pacce   -- 5
  5. Rikku    -- 6-8
  6. Wakka   -- 4-6
  7. Yuna Jr. -- 4-8
  8. Elma   -- 5-7
  9. Cid    -- 4-5
  10. Lucil   -- 4-6
  11. Baralai   -- 4-6
  12. Paine    -- 3-5
  13. Nooj     -- 3-5
  14. Gippal   -- 3-5
  15. Maroda    -5-7
  16. Zuke   -- 3-6
  17. Vidina   -- 2-3
  18. Shinra    -- 2-3
  19. Brother -- 1
  20. Mbela -- 1
  21. Etta   -- 1-2
  22. Shelinda -- 1
  23. Buddy   -- 1 
  24. Anima, Bahamut   -- 2 
  25. Luzzu -- 2-3
  26. (Dona, Barthello, Maechen, Kiyuri, Wedge -- 0.5 -- yes, Maechen already had a cameo, but it was "teeny-weenie")
Some characters are minor walk-ons and cameos (16-25). However, that's 15 characters with character development and plot arcs that I need to wrap up. Which would be fine, except that most are interconnected. I wrote out a rough "character arc chart" a few years ago treating the first 15 as individual timelines, but I never attempted a flowchart dealing with all the relationships which need to be resolved in tandem. (Cid seems to be determined to be mixed up with everybody's business, even though he doesn't develop/evolve at all. Well, it's a Final Fantasy story...there Has To Be a Cid. *punts Cid*) 

So, when I tried to start wrapping up and jettisoning nonessential personnel befor the Scouring of the Shire / Last Battle chunk of the story, I got stuck, like hitting two handfuls of typewriter keys and jamming them against the ribbon. That's no excuse for posting only two chapters in the last year, but the moral of the story is: keep your main cast to 7 or less, or be prepared to juggle a LOT OF BALLS.

Okay. I can now cross off Cid, Brother, Buddy, and...dangit, Zuke, why did you have to walk back into the story?! Go away! 

In other news, I just updated LHAD's Sticky Post / Table of Contents for my Dreamwidth account so that the navigation is functional, which it wasn't before. You can now navigate from chapter to chapter on DW, instead of having to go to LJ for easy reading.  

Also, I lost a year, so it's not as bad as I thought. I looked back and see I started it on December 14, 2007, not 2006. Think I'll finish in five years? Just in time for Final Fantasy X (HD) to come out. No, I don't have selfish reasons for being happy about that release...nope nope. ;) 
auronlu: (Lady)
I have been working on Love Her and Despair -- no, really! -- and keep coming across discarded ficbits. Here. All you really need to know, if you haven't read or have forgotten the epic, is that in this alternate universe, Yuna chose the Final Summoning and "the cycle continued."

Words: 300
Summary: Paine and Baralai, then lovers, each realize that the other's heart is taken.
When: ~3 years prior to LHAD
Backstory: Baralai discovers Vegnagun and studies it in secret, trying to learn to control it so that he can keep it out of the wrong hands. He confides in Paine and asks her help.

Discord... )

Words: 500
Summary: Isaaru's backstory for LHAD.

Backstory: All the way back in chapter 2, [personal profile] owlmoose asked me in a reader's comment, "What happened to Mika?" The question unearthed a gaping plot hole. I hastily wrote this out to do some backfilling. It unleashed a bucket o' plot threads that turned LHAD from a half-assed ten-chapter jaunt to a Tolkienian epic. Oops. 

Grand Maester Isaaru's confession... )

Words: 600
Summary: 1000 years after Love Her and Despair, the church publishes a pamphlet to discredit LHAD's story of Isaaru's pilgrimage as apocryphal.
Note: I was going to use these as chapter headers for LHAD. Their real goal was to provide context for a friend who wanted to read LHAD but hadn't played FFX.

Excerpts from Spiran Scripture... )

Word Count: 460
Summary: Gratuitous Auron/Lulu flashback is gratuitous.
Notes: It's not obvious here, but the blue sphere seems to have been an "occupied" sign agreed upon by Besaid's young people hiding midnight exploits from the clergy.

Besaid Temple memories.... )

Okay, I STILL haven't found the piece I was looking for. There's a chunk of a chapter I'm writing now that I first wrote over a year ago. Where'd it go? Why isn't it in my outline? ARGH!
auronlu: (Faris)
I haven't ever joined NaNoMo, because I've never had the time and immediately explode when I have deadlines. However, I've been pecking at writing again in November. It's as difficult as ever— how I miss being a young, naive writer who never saw my flaws, who just wrote for writing's sake— but at least it's happening. Unfortunately, the mundane writing I've been doing for the last year seems to drive my creative muse out of my skull. So it's one or the other, and I cannot afford to play for too long.

Yes, I'm still pecking away at LHAD. I believe that story is the best thing I have written, and I want it finished, for me, and for mugs, and for everyone who's ever given me good fic or feedback and might enjoy it, although it's taken much too long. 

Right now, however, I'm being self-indulgent, letting a lightweight FF5 story take me wherever it wills.  After LHAD's ten thousand plot threads and original character arcs, I feel a twinge of embarrassment in falling back on a "replay a game from one character's POV and throw in a romance."  However, FF5 is such a delightfully simple and undeveloped story that it begs for all kinds of embellishment.  Alas, "romance" isn't exactly the term for a disaster waiting to happen. I'm waiting to find out whether it remains a farce or turns into a Greek tragedy.

Unfortunately, I set myself an impossible task by writing the first chapter in an idiom which is foreign to my nature. It's one part Dorothy Sayers and one part ellnyx's "They Call This Progress," an FFXII western Victorian AU. (Sorry, link is flocked, but anyone who's read ellnyx's more mannered Balthier stories will have some idea what I'm mimicking, clumsily.) Final Fantasy has its own recurring archetypes, and Faris is obviously some distant and Fangish antecedent of Balthier.

Also, as this is relevant: George Lucas. Luke/Leia. Did he intend them to be siblings from the start, or did he tweak their relationship and execute a 3-point-turn halfway through writing Empire? And was it bungled, or a brilliant way to invoke a classic tragic-mythic archetype without letting it go too far? (cf: Splinter of the Mind's Eye; Lucas really should've warned that author what was coming in the third film.) As I tiptoe gingerly along the same hoary archetype, I can't help pondering. Also, how might that saga have ended if Han had turned out to be the long-lost sibling? 

WIP Meme

Oct. 12th, 2011 01:27 am
auronlu: (Plot Device)

Ganked from [personal profile] owlmoose , [personal profile] lassarina and others:

I will post the names of all the files in my WIP folder(s), regardless of how non-descriptive or ridiculous. Choose one [or more], and I will post a random line or two.
  • Auron Operator's Manual
  • Born for Blasphemy [not as interesting as it sounds] 
  • Faris Galuf
  • Faris (The princess and the pirate)
  • Kalypso/Elizabeth
  • loveher46
  • Loyalty Only to Me 
  • Lulu's Journal
  • Lulu/Fran fragment
  • Manifesto
  • Mrs. Peel, You're Needed
  • Paine Baralai
  • Paine and Baralai
  • Quis/Xu
  • Resurrection iv
  • Preview of pilgrimage
  • Snowmobile
  • Sometimes Venus Orbits the Moon 
  • So Together
  • Spira Claus
  • Starry Desert Night Lulu Rikku
  • "What the heart sees" Fran/Pen




auronlu: (Default)
So, mad Russians finally drive me to Dreamwidth. I've always felt favorably about it, since most of the FF gang has migrated. I'm just bummed because I had my LJ set up exactly the way I like it, and it's a permanent account, so, all the icons forever. But usericons are minor.

I shall of course cross-post, and keep checking LJ -- in fact I'm still checking LJ first, before DW, because my brain is hard-wired to think of LJ as "home base." But I don't trust its stability. From now on I shall treat DW as the primary account and LJ as the mirror.

So there's that.

Second thing is that I'm playing my way through FFXIII, finally. I meant to keep a game journal, but, well, I didn't. It is such a curate's egg of a game, but for the most part I'm enjoying it. I want to tell [personal profile] heavenscalyx to play it, except portions of it would make her and Rose scream. But there is a canon lesbian relationship in the party, at least as canon as Sailor Moon (original, not English dub). It's a pity one of the pair is a bit of a sap, but I am happily focusing on their ship and not the parts of the game that work less well for me. I am relieved that several of the characters have turned out to be less annoying than they were for the first hour of playing time.

And, oh, Fang. Square finally gave me the female character I have been waiting for. Except I wish she had magic, too, but I guess that would be too much Mary Sue in one package.

Also, is it my imagination, or was someone dressing Lightning in Utena clothes? Plus roses and rose petals.

I'm up to, uh, the Palamecia, Luck Be a Lady bit. Trying to figure out which combinations of characters are useful and failing miserably...I keep running around in the first spot where you're allowed to mix and match teams, and dying because I've screwed up. I did too much level-grinding with Lightning + Fang + Hope and learned every way to use them, and now it seems like trying any other party, I'm missing all my favorite tools.

LHAD is jammed like 20 keys of a typewriter smacked there by an exuberant 6-year-old. I'm half regretting posting the last chapter: I loved the first half of it, with the gang gathered on the bridge of the airship decompressing, and that was fresh, new, scene so easy to write. The second half was difficult because I'd written Lulu Post-Sin 4 years ago, almost the first thing I ever wrote, and I've had years and years to build up various alternate versions of that moment, each of which had some emotional punch, but trying to pick and choose and stitch together all of them, I feel like I lost something. I'm almost tempted to retcon and post the original version of that scene, if it would let me move forward. So frustrating. I fear it may be that way all the way to the end. I wrote early drafts of the concluding chapters first, and I find the part of a story i've written and visualized and imagined the longest is the hardest to write when I get to it, because I wind up trying to connect all the patchwork pieces, favorite moments and cool lines of dialog like a quilt, instead of blazing a path forward.
auronlu: (phear da crack)
Trying to decide between one of several drafts of the next chapter of LHaD, I have a dilemma.[Poll #1590537]
I donno. I like the description of the floating-in-the-Farplane sequence better. There's a few details that please my "grand finales should be grand" instinct. But the second option seems a little more believable, as much as any endgame battle in Final Fantasy is ever believable (in fact, every one I can remember takes place floating through space on a platform, or nothing at all).

And on the third hand, most Final Fantasy games conclude with 3-4 big boss battles, and this is only #2, not the traditional flying-through-space-on-a-WTF-magic-carpet battle.
auronlu: (Writer's Block)
And augh, it is hell. And I must make it work. I MUST.

I just rewrote an entire outline for all the parts that were jammed, and realized I had to throw out most of what I've written. Topic. Too broad. Too brilliant. Too all-expansive. Start over with something small and simple and obvious. FINISH, and humble thy pride. Even though it should be done by now, starting over may be the best option. Glugh.

But in brighter news, LHAD finally unstuck. I'd written a big chunk of the next chapter 3 months ago, but it was flaccid. So I set it aside.

Only now I have chapter 41 at 4,000 words, and it doesn't really have a great stopping place. and chapter 42 at 2300 words, and it's a PERFECT stopping place. Oh, there. Yes, rub that a little harder, angst cliffhanger CLIMAX. And chapter 43 started, and I know just where it's going, although I've said that before.

And oh yeah.

Best two quotes from today's (noticeable, but not damaging) earthquake:

(Paraphrasing some news article which sadly I forgot to save I'm too lazy to hunt up again):
"Petco park [San Diego's baseball stadium] swayed noticeably for several seconds. The public address announcer asked everyone to remain calm. The fans cheered."

and on Twitter,
"The worst part about a 5.7 earthquake? I'm afraid to go to bed without jammies on."

*says, sans jammies*
auronlu: (Wakka)
I've gotten one bit of feedback noting that a reader was jarred out of the story by one line in which I spelled out some of Wakka's dialect.

I am preoccupied with capturing the sounds of voices, and will occasionally use spelling to emphasize the contrast between Cid's and Wakka's down-to-earth speech patterns and the more formal speech of those around them. However, I've been doing this all my life, so what looks normal to me may be driving my readers bonkers. Is this a bad habit I need to chuck?

[Poll #1546702]


Mar. 29th, 2010 10:35 pm
auronlu: (Writer's Block)
I'm finally finished chores and have time for creative writing. However, I'm so brain dead now that I'm not able to make the pretty. Our Heroes are heading into Sin, and that means Endgame Epic Weird Dream Sequence With a Side Helping of Crack. It's something I can often write, but I have to be in the zone.

For three years, I've had this endgame vaguely in my head. I've got  a file of "The Story Foreseen" (© JRRT) with a chapter outline, scraps and snippets (mostly dialog), and tons of alternate ideas. Alas, when I sit down to flesh out the bones and select from all the scraps, the result is never as beautiful and dramatic and moving as I had envisioned. I'm trying to write The Fall of Gondolin, and it keeps sounding like The Silmarillion.

Related tangent: Does Diane Duane have a hallucinogenic WTF-sequence during the climax of every novel, or just The Wounded Sky and My Enemy, My Ally, my favorite two installments from the early days of published Star Trek novels?) 

Other related tangent: After reading the latest chapter of [ profile] owlmoose 's Aftermath, I'm vaguely thinking I really should start using a beta reader for my polished work. Except (a) I am too much of a flake to offer a commitment like that in exchange, and (b) when I do finish a chapter, I just want to frickin' post it. This will forever make my writing less than it could be. Just think what LHaD would've been if I could've had the patience/fortitude for a beta reader instead of letting you folks beta for me in comments/critique/feedback?! I do go back and edit based on feedback/comments, but by that time everyone's read it! 

Okay, Rikku-babes, let's give you a bit of cool before I call it a night.
auronlu: (Default)
*writer gets ready to write after din din*

Three things are bugging me.

1. Crusaders/warrior monks

"Crusaders" are capitalized, but "warrior monks" aren't. Capitalization is very consistent in FFX: summoners, maesters, aeons, fayth, pyreflies; Chamber of the Fayth; Four Maesters of Yevon. All of those adhere to the standard practice of treating a thing or vocational designation as a regular noun, but official organizations as a proper noun. I think that's why warrior monks are not capitalized; it's a term like engineers or sailors. Whereas The Crusaders are an official entity, like The Marines.

It drives me nuts, though. I write a sentence referring to the Crusader and warrior monk (Elma, Pacce), and it looks like I've screwed up.

2. 'Lai

Did I screw up? Does canon ever use 'Lai for Baralai's nickname? I have the feeling I need to go back through the last 10 chapters and replace Bar, but I'm not sure whether 'Lai is fanon or canon. I'm seeing it a lot in other writers' stories (to the point that it now sounds more natural to me, but I hate retconning.)

3. Baralai, I'm sorry!

He's one of my favorite characters, and I fear I've made him rather darker than he is in canon. He's such a sweet, noble, almost naive young man in canon. I had good reasons for tarnishing his squeaky-clean wholesomeness, but I feel bad about it. 

Okay, if I'm going to spend tonight writing, I'd better WRITE.

auronlu: (reckoned with)
Okay, while I'm banging away on the Epic Battle chapter of LHaD (coming along nicely) -- stats time!
Chapters: 40 (40 is sitting on my HD being polished)
Words: ~90,000 (ack!)
Started: Dec. 14, 2007
One-shot that started it all: "Alternate Universe" posted on [ profile] pyre_flies in Apr 2006. 1030 words.

FF.Net Stats: 11,300 hits; after initial die-off ~150 read to the end; 116 comments.
LJ Stats: 425 comments since Dec '07, of which about a third are my replies.

MUCHO thanks to all my reviewers/critics! Your feedback has made it 500% the story it would've been. Especial gratitude to my diehard commenters: [ profile] trekqueen, [ profile] cumuluscastle, [ profile] muggy_mountain, [ profile] owlmoose, [ profile] melchar, [ profile] jlsigman, [ profile] vandevere

Now. Shameless Plug and/or PSA!

The Genesis Awards keeps postponing the final awards for Final Fantasy X, and I'm guessing it's because not enough fics have been nominated in some categories. Partly for selfish reasons (LHaD was nominated, but can't compete if there's no contest), and partly because I absolutely want more of the fabulous Final Fantasy writers out there to get the credit they deserve, I am encouraging everybody to nominate one Final Fantasy X Fanfiction story that they think deserves some notice!

This is the first year the Genesis Awards has recognized any fandom besides FFVII, so I am eager to see FFX fic well-represented. (Apologies for sounding like a broken record.)

auronlu: (Blah)
1. Fanfics with excellent action sequences.
I'm looking for (a) skilled writing and (b) vivid writing that puts the reader on the edge of her seat.
Example: "No Tragedy Today" by [ profile] ellnyx.

2. Fanfics which write FFX character dialogue well, capturing their in-game voices.
Many of you know that I am obsessed with voices, from voice acting (Dwight Schultz doing anything, Fran & Balthier) to fanfiction which catches mannerisms so perfectly that I can hear canonical characters' voices in my head.
Example: "Grieve" by [ profile] lynnxlady, which I've read until I've got the danged thing memorized.

I need to find more fics like these, both to enjoy and admire, and to help my chameleon muse rise to the task before it.

I'm working on LHAD again, and I'm struggling to accomplish four things in one chapter without getting bogged down: choreograph a epic battle sequence, juggle several character and plot arcs which all hit major beats, and give several different characters a moment to shine. Authentic voices and an adrenaline pace will sell or break this chapter. I need to remind myself how it's done when it's done right!
auronlu: (plot device)
... I will pay for it tomorrow, but the muse seems to loosen up about now. Alas, I must sleep rather than taking advantage of it, as I am still recovering from surgery.

First, I would like to share with you the "mood/theme" headers in my outline for the next chapter, wherein I have choreographed the beats of a battle sequence.

I. FAST/ EXHILARATING! THE SPACE GIANTS!!  (music theme starting at 1:40)

Hopefully I'll be able to fit all that into a chapter. :D

[[ETA: Now I want to do a Goldar vs. Sin fanvid. Oh gods.]]
auronlu: (Yuna's Final Aeon)
I have done a major edit-sweep of LHAD, to help me get all the canon back in my head before I embark on the big battle sequence.

Most edits were cosmetic. However, in response to reader-questions during the Shuyin-confrontation, I've revamped the Via Purifico chapter to make Lenne's cameo somewhat more clear (while still leaving an intentional ambiguity) as well as, "what happened to Maroda?" Hopefully that part of the story is now easier to follow, without losing the subtlety that [ profile] cumuluscastle likes in some of my writing.

I'm still waffling over the use of Otherworld lyrics during the Shuyin fight. It was an experiment. I'm curious how many readers liked vs. were distracted by it.

I renamed the "Unraveling" chapter (viewing Yuna's sphere) to "Love Her and Despair". So many other plot-threads have developed that the meaning of the story's original title has been obscured. In that chapter, when Auron faces love and despair while viewing Yuna's sphere, the deepest kernel of the story pops out.

I love reader feedback -- it's amazing how much y'all have helped me refine and solve plot issues, even though the basic story and chapter outline have remained almost unchanged since chapter 14! [ profile] mandyiam gets the prize for killing off a character I hadn't planned on killing: addition by subtraction. [ profile] owlmoose, [profile] muggy_mountain and [ profile] trekqueen are the Backstory Consultants. [ profile] cumuluscastle is critic extraordinaire and post-production beta reader, since I'm too danged stubborn to have one.

I am still struggling to reconcile two sets of reader tastes: those who like subtlety versus those who want things spelled out more explicitly; and the readers who prefer 1200-1400 word chapters versus those who prefer 2000-4000. I keep waffling!

So, anyway. With apologies for the self-plug, let me wave the "Readers! Come and get it!" flag for a few of you who were clever enough to hold off until I'd polished the last few chapters.

Far Too Much Meta-babble about LHAD )
auronlu: (lulu)
Hey, you two. I decided to give you your own scene, in order to give one of the ten jillion secondary story arcs justice (and as a treat for [ profile] owlmoose, perhaps).

STOP sitting around with that sort of flat, tense "there needs to be a climax and resolution to this scene sooner or later, and yet there isn't, and it's all grim and gray and patches of dirty snow" conversation that reminds me of an artsy Soviet-era Polish film.

I was planning on doing more with this chapter, covering a bit of plot-advancement in the other 2 parts of the triptych, but you two and your stupid Unresolved Tension of an Ill-Defined Nature keep EATING ALL THE WORD COUNT.

And in other news, sinuses suck. (I'm better, but still headachy and ook.)

Uh oh.

Sep. 29th, 2009 12:56 am
auronlu: (Default)
1800 Words in rough draft of next LHAD at 10:30pm, when I sat down to polish, work on beats, fill in a few small transition parts of scenes I'd left for later.

4400 Words in rough draft at midnight.
And it still needs a lot more polish.

Why am I writing scenes with 11 characters?!

I have so much more respect for Tolkien now. Cast scenes are hard.
auronlu: (lucil)
Apart from the Lulu-as-Scary-Galadriel conceit, I generally keep my old and deep-seated LOTR fandom separate from my FF fanwork.

However, this particular stretch of the story is batting around a few Tolkienian motifs like a catnip mouse.

So I can't resist batting around a few analogies, even though they don't always map with very close matches.

Lucil - Elrond
Auron - Gandalf
Isaaru - Frodo
Pacce - Pippin
Nooj - Aragorn
Baralai - Boromir
Paine - Glorfindel
Shelinda - Galdor of the Havens
Cid - Gimli
Rikku - Legolas
Elma - Sam

I flipflopped Nooj and Baralai back and forth for a while: each has certain elements of both characters. (But Isaaru is really, in my mind, Tolkien!Faramir.)

Ack. Does this make Lulu Gollum?!

The chapter is nearly all dialog right now. Alas, I didn't get as far as I'd hoped this weekend.
auronlu: (Default)
I've been pecking at an intense scene with the Crimson Squad members and need to jot down some thoughts before I forget.

Meta chatter )
auronlu: (Undies)

Exciting chapter is exciting, but also clocking in at 3500 words.
Damn you, Muse, for sucking me in again!
Is 3500 words too much for a chapter? Should I break it into pieces?

Angst, character study, derring do, unexpected twists, random carnage and chaos, and just about every character has a Moment. I think it's the best chapter yet, although I will probably see all sorts of flaws about 2 hours after posting.

Going off to be productive with real stuff  for a while. Editing tonight. I want it to be perfect.

I want to drive you all mad with Dr. Who style melodrama and cliffhangers, and we are rapidly coming to the part of the story where every single scene is a cliffhanger.

Where did all this Plottage come from?

May I please have my Poetic Muse back? She's so skilled with verbiage and characterization, sucks at plot. The Plot Muse knows how to juggle sixteen Plot Balls at once, but can't roll out a well-turned, apt phrase to save her life. I would like her and Poetic Muse to get married and produce offspring, instead of visiting me on alternate months.

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