Friday, August 17, 2018

Digital Storytelling: Final Reflection Selfie

Hey guys! This is my final video for my Digital Storytelling class, where I talk about what I learned through the course. Hope you enjoy!




Transcript Below

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Digital Storytelling: Collaborative Story

Hey guys! For the last assignment I did in my college class, some of my classmates and I did a group project we called "Landmarks for Life"! I hope you enjoy it!





Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Digital Storytelling: Is Writing Fiction Harder than Nonfiction?

I was talking with a coworker today, and he said the following, which caught my interest:

I heard that writing fiction is harder than nonfiction, because you have to make it believable. Like, when you hear something unbelievable in fiction, you’re just like ‘that wouldn’t happen’ - but when you hear something in nonfiction, you’re like ‘damn, I can’t believe that happened’.

At first, I thought this was kind of funny - it reminded me of situations where people would criticise a work of fiction for having POC in a European medieval setting… where there are also dragons. On the first count, it’s incorrect to say there were not POC in medieval Europe - as medievalpoc on Twitter has been excellently documenting - and second, you’re alright with a giant, fire breathing lizard (that might even talk) but you draw the line at a perceived historical inaccuracy?

Look, I’m no historian, and I might wish it otherwise, but I’m pretty sure there were not real dragons running around medieval Europe.

But then I started reading Joe Lambert’s Digital Storytelling: Capturing Lives, Creating Community and came across the following passage:

When I am explaining an idea to you, I want to be clearly understood. I want very little distance between my intended meaning, and your perceived meaning. To accomplish this, I need to be precise. I need the ideas to be substantiated by argument, where each example, each concept, builds upon the other, toward a coherent conclusion.
But when I tell a story, reflecting on moment in time, and reflecting on that reflection, I am not so concerned about interpretation. Perhaps I imagine my meaning is evident. While I might hope you would read something similar to me about what this story tells about the source of my political views, I am not trying to convince you to share them. I want you to relate my experience to your own.

It suddenly clicked for me that fiction does have an extra layer of difficulty compared to nonfiction - cultivating authenticity.

It is by no means easy to write a nonfiction story - there is definitely an art to writing these kinds of stories, such as narrative histories, memorial stories, and biographies - but these stories do not have to convince you that they’re real because, well, they are. They actually happened to someone or something at some point in time. Even if the execution is inexpert, the story itself can still be powerful and relatable simply due to the fact that it has the face of a real person or people.

On the other hand, a fictional story has a lot of catching up to do - the author needs to create a believable setting, relatable characters, relatable characters that make sense within the believable setting, relationships between the characters that readers can understand - a character that exists in a vacuum without friends, family, a job, hobbies, etc, does not feel like a “real” person. Many fictional settings get criticised for not having rules - because without rules, things just happen and the reader doesn’t understand why and it breaks their suspension of disbelief. Or when a story contradicts its own rules without explanation - if it is equally unbelievable to the characters, the impact of the break can be mitigated, but readers will often still want an explanation later on.

As Lambert says, a fiction author has to explain an idea - their fictional world - but at the same time, they need to capture the voice of someone telling a story - “reflecting on a moment in time”. This is a balancing act that nonfiction stories can circumvent - the world we live in does not need to be explained for context, and when we tell stories of real people, we don’t need to fabricate the connections they have to other people and things.

Trying to find the balance between these two concepts is very difficult - it’s the root of arguments such as “show, don’t tell”, a common adage used by writers to prevent walls of text just vomiting exposition at a reader with no explanation. On the flip-side, there are author that can “tell” rather than “show” in a way that is engaging and catches the reader’s attention rather than losing it in textbook style definitions.

There are, of course, several ways for fiction writers to cultivate authenticity - relatable characters, clear rules for how their setting works, etc - and there are certainly ways for nonfiction writers to lose authenticity - lacking sources, telling stories too unbelievable to have happened, having an unreliable narrator, etc.

So, between cultivating authenticity and telling a (nonfiction) story, which do you think is more difficult?








Lambert, J. (2013) Digital Storytelling: Capturing Lives, Creating Community (4th ed.). Routledge, New York:NY.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Digital Storytelling: Allaha of the Mountain Abridged

Ok, so before I share the video... I meant to have real people acting out everything, as I said in an earlier post. But then life happened to all my actors, so at the last minute I switched to.... sock puppets. 

Guys.

I made twenty sock puppets for this. And I could only find one more puppeteer (who asked to be known as "annoying hair flip") to help me out. It's.... it's rough. But I still had a lot of fun making it, and I hope you have a lot of fun watching it. Anyways, here it is: Allaha of the Mountain Abridged. 

(Script Below)








Allaha of the Mountain Abridged 
written by
Aurora Lee Thornton




FADE IN:
TESTIMONY - TITLE CARD READS "TESTIMONY I"
Writing appears on the screen, matching what the voice over is saying. 
ALLAHA (V.O.)
I am Allaha. I am giving my final testimony before my sentence, death, is carried out. This should in no way be taken as the author giving readers insight into the thought process and emotional state of an otherwise stoic and emotionally unavailable character. Especially not by starting with the death of my mother, a very emotional place that shaped the rest of my life. 
FOREST - TITLE CARD READS "THE SEER OF HASTAPUT"
ALEC, ALLAHA, TAMARA, HIBU, and KAREJAKAL are standing around. 
ALEC
Hullo, I'm Alec and I'm here to kick start some forced exposition that introduces all the main characters.
ALLAHA
I'm Allaha, a Knight of the Mountain. As you can see, I am very stoic by my stern expression and formal speech. 
TAMARA
I'm Tamara, and I'm a Menori, a people that are loosely inspired by the Romani people. I'm an empath, but because I'm a teenager, I can get confused about why people are feeling the emotions they do. My main character traits are being wise for my years, but still being a teenager so sometimes I'm not. 
HIBU
I'm Hibu, a Journeyman Sorcerer of the Zho, the royal family of a country called Jeongwon that will be hinted at until we get to my emotional character arc about the abuses I suffered and how I'm still dealing with them. My main character traits are being curious and socially awkward. 
KAREJAKAL
Karej is Karej. Karej is a Tibu, and a child. Karej can summon ghosts to help Mama. 
ALEC
By the way Allaha, do you remember how we grew up together as children and how it is painfully obvious that I have an unrequited crush on you?
ALLAHA
I do remember that.
ALEC
Also, I'm going to bring up local superstitions about monsters in the forest that I'm going to scoff at as if they aren't true, because they surely aren't. 
ALLAHA
It's fine, it was prompted by plot. 
GORIC appears.
GORIC
Allaha has a past? Please tell me, Goric the demon whose main character traits are being annoying and perverted, all about it!
ALLAHA
Do not do that. 
ALEC
Then I won't.
GORIC
Drat. 
NARRATOR
So the group goes the Keep of Timerbrand, where they find out Alec's father, the Lord of Timerbrand, is dying. We get to see the group interact with each other, including giving Allaha a hard time about her mysterious relationship with Alec after the lordling asks her to meet him alone after dinner. They meet on the rooftop at night, because Alec is brooding, and literary convention requires that brooding occurs on a rooftop at night. 
EXT. ROOFTOP
ALEC
My father is dying. 
ALLAHA
I noticed.
ALEC
Your mother died - that gives us emotional solidarity while I go through a difficult time. 
ALLAHA
You are correct. 
ALEC
Also I'm marrying your sister.
ALLAHA
This does not surprise me. 
ALEC
Remember when I proposed to you when we were like eight?
ALLAHA
Yes. But we're adults now that have gone on different paths in our lives and that will clearly not work out. 
ALEC
Yeah, that sucks, cause I'm still totally in love with you despite not knowing anything about who you are now and even calling you a completely different person. 
ALLAHA
Well good luck with your father dying. 
ALEC
Oh right. I'm sad.
EXT. TOWN
NARRATOR
So the next morning they go into town and surprisingly, the people implied to be vaguely British are racist against the character implied to be vaguely Romani. Allaha finds a guide to take her to meet the local seer, a witch named Alistair, who is very obviously a not good person by the way he looks, smells, and acts.
DASBUL
A woman doing something I don't like! Whore!
ALLAHA
I'm going to get you to do what I want by threatening to turn you in for breaking the law. Also threatening to hurt you if you insult my charges again. 
DASBUL
I am supringly cowardly and easy to convince. 
NARRATOR
But Dasbul is also really fast, and abandons Allaha in the forest. Goric joins her to make fun of her, but it's alright, because a rooster guides her to the witch she's looking for, leading to this conversation the author is very proud of:
On screen flashes the words "ACTUAL DIALOGUE".
ALISTAIR
Asvorian?
ALLAHA
Are you Alistair?
ALISTAIR
Who would like to know?
ALLAHA
Allaha of the Mountain.
GORIC
Did you REALLY name your chicken after the Angel of Fertility?
ALISTAIR
He’s my familiar. My most common requests are for childbirth and fertility.
GORIC
So you use your cock for-
ALLAHA
Peace, demon.
GORIC
What? I was just going to say it made sense...
Flashing text ends.
NARRATOR
Anyways, it starts to rain, so Alistair lets the knight stay in his cabin for the night - this will in no way lead to a giant misunderstanding the next day. Back in the village, character development is being set up. 
KAREJAKAL
Whey are you angry at Hibu?
TAMARA
Because he did something I'm going to leave vaguely explained that caused me to get get hurt by being arrogant. 
KAREJAKAL
But he said sorry. 
TAMARA
I know. 
KAREJAKAL
And he was just trying to help. 
TAMARA
I know. 
KAREJAKAL
And mama said it wasn't his fault.
TAMARA
I know! Gods, can't you just let me be an emotionally immature teenager for five minutes? I'm going to go dance in the rain because I'm emotionally distraught and no one understands me!
KAREJAKAL
Ok, have fun. 
NARRATOR
Back at Alistair's cabin, howling wakes up Allaha. To everyone's absolute surprise in a fantasy novel, there are actual werewolves living in the forest. They bring an injured wolf to Alistair for treatment after being shot by Dasbul, and Alistair leaves them naked in his back shed to heal, which will surely not lead to a future misunderstanding. The werewolf leader, Brisbane, is also suspicious of Allaha. 
BRISBANE
Why is there an outsider here? 
ALISTAIR
She's here to see me.
BRISBANE
Why?
ALISTAIR
Doesn't matter. 
BRISBANE
Well I don't trust her. She could be lying. 
ALISTAIR
Knights of the Mountain can't lie, so that's impossible.
ALLAHA
I'm here for a vision. 
BRISBANE
A vision? No, no, no - a vision killed our mother, I won't allow it!
ALISTAIR
You aren't the boss of me! (To ALLAHA) Also, I'm a werewolf. 
BRISBANE
Well don't come crying to me when this ends poorly.
ALISTAIR
It won't.
BRISBANE walks out of frame.
ALISTAIR (CONT'D)
So want to have an emotional talk about our dead mothers and messy sibling relationships?
ALLAHA
Sounds good. 
NARRATOR
The next day, things end poorly. 
DASBUL
I'm angry because the witch is a werewolf and it scares me!
ALISTAIR
I have literally done nothing wrong.
ALLAHA
Yeah, he really hasn't.
DASBUL
Look! The knight stayed in his house! They must have frick-fracked, which knights don't do, which means he used magic to seduce her!
ALLAHA
That makes no sense.
DASBUL
Having a naked woman in his shed makes no sense either!
ALISTAIR
She's a patient.
DASBUL
Naked!
NARRATOR
And then the other wolf left to guard the naked woman attacked and a mob ties up Alistair and Allaha and takes them into town to burn Alistair at the stake and end his evil witch magic. On the way, Allaha sees Brisbane and tells him to go to the nearby Sanctum for help. 
Tied up ALLAHA and wolf BRISBANE nod at each other. 
NARRATOR (CONT'D)
In town, the stake is set up and Allaha is secured nearby. Tamara, Karejakal, and Hibu come to talk to Allaha. 
TAMARA
Well this is bad. 
ALLAHA
Yes. 
HIBU
Should I use magic to help?
Text flashes on the bottom saying "ACTUAL DIALOGUE". 
ALLAHA
No. They intend to burn Alistair for being a witch. Magic like that will only add fuel to the fire.
GORIC
Literally. 
Flashing text ends. 

DASBUL
What? Children!? We can't have this!
ALLAHA
That's a bad idea. 
KAREJAKAL
I want mama! 
NARRATOR
So Karejakal summoned a bunch of spooky ghosts that chased everyone away, breaking the hysteria. A bunch of priests show up from the Sanctum, admonish the townspeople for hurting innocents, and banish Alistair because of vaguely discussed politics. Brisbane declares the Pack sticks together, so thanks Allaha for saving his brother's life before they leave.
BRISBANE and ALLAHA shake hands and BRISBANE and ALISTAIR walk off frame. 
NARRATOR (CONT'D)
Then Alec shows up to let Allaha know his father has died. She gives him a hug as a gesture of comfort, and he awkwardly kisses her for closure on his childhood crush. And so ends chapter one. 
TESTIMONY - TITLE CARD READS "TESTIMONY II"
ALLAHA (V.O.)
It's now time to talk about my rocky relationship with my father due to him not paying me enough attention after my mother's death. This includes a healthy dose of self reflection, and surely none of the background I'm giving has anything to do with a later part of the story. 
OUTSIDE - TITLE CARD READS "THE WISEWOMAN OF BADEREAD"
ALLAHA, HIBU, KAREJAKAL, and TAMARA pretend to ride horses. 
NARRATOR
After a lot of boring walking that helps establish the setting and passage of time, our heroes come across a giant graveyard, and Karejakal breaks off to go play with ghost children. 
HIBU
H-h-h-hey guys, s-s-shouldn't we m-move on?
TAMARA
Don't tell me you're scared?

HIBU
W-whaaat? N-no way!
GORIC
Yeah, that's really convincing. 
NARRATOR
After a brief rest, the group continues on to find a spooooky abandoned town. Allaha doesn't trust it, but does trust the spooky abandoned Sanctum overlooking the town. The group decides to spend the night there, but Allaha wants to investigate the town. 
ALLAHA
I'm going to investigate the town. 
GORIC
Guess I'll just stay here then, pookiebear. 
ALLAHA
You do realize I've caught onto the fact that you're just trying to make me angry, right?
GORIC
You have?
ALLAHA
Yup. You'll just have to find new ways to annoy me. Farewell.
NARRATOR
After showing how their relationship is progressing, Allaha goes into town and ends up finding a bunch of spooooky ghosts who aren't very helpful. Then she runs into a random old woman and they head to her home. Meanwhile, Karejakal runs away, and Tamara and Hibu find him in the middle of a giant GHOST PARTY. 
Flashing lights, sirens, etc.
NARRATOR (CONT'D)
While they're out having fun, the old woman tells Allaha the story of what happened to the village because honestly the author forgot what she had planned when she got to this part and made some stuff up but she's pretty happy with how it turned out overall. At the end of the night, Tamara and Hibu have a fight because while Tamara's powers of empathy give her insight into how people are feeling, she's still a teenager and isn't actually all the great at the why part. Allaha gets back to the group after the old woman dies, freeing all the ghosts and causing the village to melt away like morning mist. 
TESTIMONY - TITLE CARD READS "TESTIMONY III"
ALLAHA (V.O.)
By the way, the way knights are trained includes both physical and psychological torture, which is why I'm so emotionally unavailable. 
TITLE CARD READS "THE HERMIT OF DANABANE"
NARRATOR
After some more boring walking and character development - who needs that? - we find out heroes scaling a mountainside. 
HIBU
I still hate bad weather, and it is very cold and snowy here. 
GORIC
Don't be a baby.
NARRATOR
But they soon enter an in built into the side of the mountain, where some 9 foot tall dwarves greet them because the author thought if Tolkein got away with making elves tall, why not make tall dwarves? Anyways, they have a weird accent and their entire city is built inside the mountain. The group travels to a Sanctum inside the mountain, where they get to enjoy some natural hot springs for bathing. Allaha and Tamara discuss differences in their personal beliefs, and soon Allaha goes out into a magical blizzard because it's preventing her from seeing the oracle outside the town. After some struggle, she meets a man named Karaby. 
GORIC
Or Estalvo. 
ALLAHA
The Angel of Death in my religion?
KARABY
It's Karaby. I'm not an angel and I hate you religion and your god. 
ALLAHA
But you are Estalvo?
KARABY
Yes. 
ALLAHA
I really don't know how to react to this. 
KARABY
Well since you're not here for me I guess you can see Rhyodacite, the hermit you came to see. 
ALLAHA
Thanks?
NARRATOR
On the way Allaha slips on some ice and Karaby catches her, but then acts like touching her physically hurt her and never explains why - though it is heavily implied that Goric knows why. Naturally, he shares nothing, so Allaha gets her vision from Rhyodacite - it only took 130 some pages OT get to the first one - and returns to the Sanctum so they can get ready to go to the next place. 
TESTIMONY - TITLE CARD READS "TESTIMONY IV"
ALLAHA (V.O.)
Hey remember how I have a bad relationship with my father? I'm here to remind you of that again. 
TITLE CARD READS "THE ORACLE OF BAKHAA"
NARRATOR
Once again we're going to skip all the travel time and possible character development therein (such as Tamara realizing she's been acting like an immature teenager, reconciling with Hibu, and both forming a deeper bond as surrogate siblings) and go right to the heart of the chapter. After indulging in the author's old style military uniform fetish for a few paragraphs, we meet Commander Scorun, a Jaspernian who seems nice as he explains the tensions between his people and the Irikish and Carboneans at Hibu's request. The fact that his description is almost as long as the character descriptions form the beginning of the book means absolutely nothing, and certainly does not indicate favoritism on the author's part. Anyways, some Irikish and Carboneans arrive and the Commander flees, which seems suspicious to Allaha and Goric. That night, Tamara can't sleep and goes exploring the hotel. She comes across a secret meeting where the Carboneans and Irikish are being made a deal to help get a Jaspernian out of the way. On her way back to the room, she gets waylaid by the Commander, who reveals he's the target of the deal. He insists Tamara not get involved, but she wakes up Hibu to try and do otherwise.
TAMARA
Look he was super nice and also people plan to kill him, we should help!
HIBU
I don't think that's a good idea...
GORIC
He's also a liar. 
TAMARA
What? He wasn't lying! I can tell with my magic!
GORIC
Ok, he didn't lie per se, but he did manipulate your perception of the truth. 
NARRATOR
So Goric explains the slightly convoluted way that the Commander tricked her using the help of another Jaspernian named Desrae, and they all go to bed afterwards with no harm done. The next afternoon, they head into the desert to get to their next destination, when a bunch of naked snake women kidnap Allaha and drag her off. The children race back to the inn, and Tamara confronts the Commander to blackmail him into helping them. 
TAMARA
Wow that is a lot of scars. 
SCORUN
What do you want?
TAMARA
You tried to trick me, and if you don't help, I'll expose you!
SCORUN
... damn it all to hell. Des! I'm blaming you for this!
DESRAE
I don't think it's my fault, but I'm going along with this anyways.
NARRATOR
So after the Jaspernian rogues get dressed, they go to rescue Allaha. She's being held by a demon named Malia.
Blank screen reading "Explicit Content Not Shown".
NARRATOR (CONT'D)
But on the way, they realize that the Carboneans are following them. The Commander shows Tamara how to use Insight - a power they both have - to trick the Carboneans into fighting the snake women for them. Goric appears in corporeal form for the first time to egt into a big fight with Malia. They rescue Allaha, but there's only one hitch... 
SCORUN
(Dragging Desrae)
You're coming with me.
DESRAE
Isn't this a weird time to want to frick-frack?
SCORUN
I agree, unfortunately, being in a room full of aphrodisiac tends to change things. 
DESRAE
Well can we at least make things interesting?
SCORUN
... you want to invite the demon, don't you?
DESRAE
Duh.
SCORUN
Fine, but be quick.
NARRATOR
So off they go to play patty cake, and all is well for the rest of the night. Allaha wakes up, they learn that the oracle they had come to see was a fake, and at the end Allaha calls Goric by his name for the first time due to a promise in the last chapter the author forgot to put in the script and you probably forgot about while reading the book, showing more character progression between the two of them. 
TESTIMONY - TITLE CARD READS "TESTIMONY V"
ALLAHA (V.O.)
Here I tell you about the magical process used in becoming a knight, the part that makes us immune to magic and could not possibly have an explanation the author intends to reveal later. 
TITLE CARD READS "THE MAIDEN OF THORNS"
Scene is the author at her kitchen table. 
AUTHOR
Okay, guys, look - this is the longest chapter in the book. The next longest chapter is only half the length of this one. This is because the way the chapters are structured in the book are based on the length of time they spend in the location where a prophet of some kind resides - in the other chapters, it was only a day at most. In this chapter, they spend two weeks in one location, which is why this chapter is so SO long. So to save time and my patience, I'm just going to summarize it myself instead of in a skit. 
The author pulls out a script and begins reading. 
AUTHOR (CONT'D)
The group is riding through the Forrest in Ruruak when they learn that the next prophet they're going to see is in Allaha's home town. They then run into a hunting party, which it turns out is being led by Allaha's older brother, Aubin. Her other brother, Dorian, is a bit of an ass and acts like it. They start riding back while the siblings sibling, revealing the Allaha was a bit of a wild child. But then Dorian brings back their father who - you'll never guess - Allaha has a bad relationship with. Also, he's a Duc and the King's Champion. They get to the Duc's keep and get rooms, and Allaha immediately goes off to talk to her bother about seeing the prophet. Tamara, Hibu, and Karejakal are left to the Stewart, Winoc, who tells them a really long story that is definitely not foreshadowing. Along the way they meet a page named Michel who tells Tamara she's pretty and Hibu and Goric recognize trouble because he said it in a pretty racist way. Allaha meets up with Aubin and his boyfriend and girlfriend and they tell her about the attempted coup her sister, the prophet, staged while she was away. Allaha goes OT her mother's cabin, where her sister is banished, and after they talk she goes to take care of her grandmother's garden and visit her mother's grave. Hibu, Tamara, and Karejakal get dressed up for a birthday ball for Allaha's other sister, Sylvianne. Because the Ruruach druids see demons as spirits, they help Goric take corporeal form again and he goes to retrieve Allaha for the celebration. They have a bit of a tiff - 
Text on screen reads "The author apologizes for writing this while watching a British crime show. Not Sherlock - the Midsomer Murders."
AUTHOR (CONT'D)
And Allaha runs into her sister Sylvianne on the way and her sister's fiance, Theimo, at the head of their mercenary band. Sylvianne convinces Allaha to wear a dress to everyone's surprise, and at the ball we meet the King - a crotchety old man - and the Dauphin - 
Text on screen reads "French word for crown prince"
AUTHOR (CONT'D)
And then they wait because Lucette, Allaha's traitorous sister, said she needed the full moon to give a vision. Tamara and Hibu are invited to noble parties, where Tamara gets caught up playing noblewoman and Hibu plays some shell games to try and keep her from getting hurt. Marcellin, the Dauphin, notices and starts flirting with Hibu because of it. Tamara finds out what hibu did and they have a big blow out fight and stop speaking to each other. Meanwhile, Allaha is off doing other things and leaving them to their own devices for once. Goric comes to ask her and she imparts the wisdom of siblings and letting them sort out their own fight to him. They have a quiet moment and soon after Karejakal becomes concerned with Allaha's absence. He goes and yells at Tamara and Hibu for being dumb teenagers, and the pair make up and all three go to look for Allaha. They run into Marcellin, who takes Hibu to see griffons hatch after he noticed Hibu seemed interested in them. Hibu ends up being gifted an albino griffon and talks about his difficult past. This causes him and Marcellin to have a sweet moment together where Marcellin reveals he likes Hibu for being a good person. Tamara and Karejakal go to see Winoc the Stewart -
Text reads "Bet you forgot him"
AUTHOR (CONT'D)
Who is married to a man name Taulb, the stablemaster, and they share some insight on the relationship between Allaha and her father. For the second week of their stay, Tamara and Hibu act like themselves, with Hibu taking care of a grifflet. Allaha doesn't really seem to care about Marcellin's involvement, and the King gives her a book with her mother's portrait in it. They finally get a prophecy out of Lucette and SHOCKINGLY Allaha is the actual person who is going to save the world. She really didn't expect this, she kind of just thought she'd help. Even though the vision was triggered by her and everything. Also - foreshadowing. 
AUTHOR pauses to shrug.
AUTHOR (CONT'D)
So they go back to the keep to pack and say their goodbyes, including Allaha's father seeing them off to show the way they've made a little progress towards repairing their relationship. And we're done.
AUTHOR throws the script away and lays down. 
TESTIMONY - TITLE CARD READS "TESTIMONY VI"
ALLAHA (V.O.)
Just the vow of the Knights of the Mountain. 
TITLE CARD READS "THE SOOTHSAYER OF MEYAYA"
NARRATOR
After a brief variation of "The Landlady" meets "The Most Dangerous Game" which scars Tamara for life, the trio head to Tibu to meet their next prophet. On the way they see a trio including a Derovon, a Jaspernian, and a Demoroki woman who are in a relationship and will be more relevant in later books. Anyways, they get to the village of Meyaya and Karejakal decides to stay with the chieftain and learn with other Tibu. Hibu and Goric decide to stay as well and look after him. Allaha and Tamara go on to the Sanctum, which they learn is full of only female knights. While there, Allaha meets with their Knight Captain, a Carbonean named Dalti, and the High Priestess, a Korinwanese woman named Akoni. 
Text on screen flashes "ACTUAL DIALOGUE"
DALTI
So you travel with a demon? Has that caused you any trouble?
ALLAHA
It has on occasion, ma’am. But nothing I could not handle.
DALTI
I like that answer. You know nothing in our laws actually says we have to kill them, right?
ALLAHA
Captain?
AKONI
She’s right, we checked. Strange, though, isn’t it? Lord Devera was the first Head of the Order to start hunting them in force the way we have.
DALTI
Odd how long he’s lived, too, don’t you think?
AKONI
There is something I do not understand. Why did Lord Devera send you to find those with the Sight? Especially with your charges?
DALTI
She means it would have made more sense to have them come to you. If you all are supposed to play important roles in this, why risk you by having you traipse all over Magdra?
NARRATOR
Allaha has no answers for these questions which are not plot holes because the author does have answers she's not going to tell you right now. In the village, Hibu gets hit on by the girls and this almost starts a brawl that they manage to turn into a dance party instead. You know, how you do. Goric is corporeal some more, and then Allaha comes to ask Hibu to do magic. The prophet they're looking for is Genoarian, making him a merman who lives underwater. Hibu, who has been very nervous about using magic ever since that vaguely explained accident at the beginning you probably forgot about, very nervously agrees to magic himself and Tamara to breath underwater the next day. They all have some good bonding moments the night before that would be much sweeter if this had included all that character development from the rest of the book, but that's why this is abridged. Anwyays, they go to see the prophet, K'Div, the next day after Hibu gives them gills.
NARRATOR (CONT'D)
They go through an underwater city and find a giant glowing pearl. K'Div turns out to be a giant sharkmerman, and Hibu touches the pearl. K'Div tells him it is a source of Old Magic, and after touching it Hibu gets some new powers. K'Div then gives them a vision, which Hibu's new powers let him see as well. K'Div then helps them get to the surface, and they all return to the cabin near the Sanctum they were staying in. While Hibu and Tamara recount their journey, Alistair shows up. You know, the werewolf witch from the first chapter? He brings his rooster, too. The other knights warn Allaha both to stay and to run away, worried something bad is going to happen. She decides to continue her quest anyways.
TESTIMONY - TITLE CARD READS "TESTIMONY VII"
ALLAHA (V.O.)
Here I finally talk about the death of the Oracle of Jourmaju and the broken prophecy that started this whole thing. 
TITLE CARD READS "SEER OF THE PARK"
NARRATOR
So the werewolves are with Alistair and Allaha and the kids start traveling with the pack. It's super obvious that they're really nervous about something, which leads to a confrontation that would be much more rewarding with more character development like the kind you'll find in the actual book. Anyways, they end up having to tie up Allaha and travel to the abandoned Sanctum in Baderead to hide out from spoilers. Hibu doesn't agree with tying Allaha up, and ends up summoning an army of skeletons to rescue her and spirit her away to spoilerville. There's a small section at the end full of spoilers, and then spoilers happen. 
TESTIMONY - TITLE CARD READS "TESTIMONY VIII"
ALLAHA (V.O.)
Uh, foreshadowing?
TITLE CARD READS "EPILOGUE"
NARRATOR
So it turns out that spoiler is spoiler, and the spoiler he spoiled spoiler away was in spoils that spoiler would get spoiled along the spoiler. Spoiler had spoiler spoiled because spoiler thought spoiler spoiler spoiler's spoiler spoiler, but spoiler didn’t. Spoiler doesn’t spoil because spoiler’s still spoiling spoiler. Spoiler also spoils spoilself so spoiler can spoil spoiler, and the spoiler spoils spoiler from spoiler.
TITLE CARD READS "END"
Sound of a book shutting. 

Monday, July 9, 2018

Digital Storytelling: Learning the Anatomy of a Story, Part I - Technique

“The first obstacle is the terminology most writers use to think about story. Terms like “rising action,” “climax,” “progressive complication,” and “denouement,” terms that go as far back as Aristotle, are so broad and theoretical as to be almost meaningless. Let’s be honest: they have no practical value for storytellers.

I quite like the way John Truby phrases this in his book, The Anatomy of Story. It reminds me of my favorite rule of writing: “Everything is a rule… until it isn’t.” 

I think the thing I enjoy the most about Truby’s book so far is the way he breaks down the problems with traditional schools of thought when it comes to writing, and how, as he puts it, “a mechanical view of a story… inevitably leads to episodic storytelling. An episodic story is a collection of pieces, like parts stored in a box. Events in the story stand out as discrete elements and don’t connect or build steadily from beginning to end. The result is a story that moves the audience sporadically, if at all.”

Truby goes on to state that “just as many writers have a mechanical view of what a story is, they use a mechanical process for creating one… the result: a hopelessly generic, formulaic story devoid of originality.” 

Enough quoting (for now) - let’s discuss what Truby is saying here. While Truby used a screenplay for his example, I’ll dive into my favorite genre of literature: fantasy. 

I’m sure all the fans of fantasy have seen the lists. What lists, you ask? Well, the list of “Ways to Tell you Are in a High Fantasy Novel”1, “The Eight Character Archetypes of the Hero’s Journey”2, or even “6 Signs You’re Not the Main Character”3. These often humorous lists are ways in which fans acknowledge tropes in their favorite genre. When Truby talks about a mechanical process, these are the kind of things he’s speaking of. 

For example, what makes a book a fantasy book? Well, in general:
  • There is magic and/or magical creatures

That’s it. There are a lot of subgenres, though, so once again I’ll stick to what I know. So, what makes a book a “high” fantasy? What “defines” the genre?
  • There is magic 
  • There are magical races (usually elves, dwarves, orcs, etc)
  • It takes place in an alternate (typically medieval) realm
  • The protagonist is a hero
  • The protagonist is on a great quest to defeat an evil

The high fantasy genre was established back with Tolkien and the Lord of the Rings series, which is why most of the “qualifiers” are from his books. So say that you decide you want to create a high fantasy novel, and you decide you need to follow all the rules of the genre. You make a hero who is on a quest to defeat a great evil, in a fantasy realm where magic and magical races abound. 

How many stories can you name with that plot?

(Here’s a hint - mine’s one of them. Hey - I’m honest.)

None of these things are bad on their own - something I like to say is that cliches are cliches for a reason - they work. But the problem comes in when a story relies solely on cliches and adds nothing original. Cliches are not a story - they’re parts of a story. A “collection of pieces”, if you will. Things such as “the hero gets the girl” - there have long been criticisms of this trope, usually because no time is devoted to developing the relationship between the protagonist and their love interest. No one minds that “the hero gets the girl” - they just want it to mean something. 

As Truby stated, having the hero get the girl just because he’s supposed to won’t move an audience - not without proper build up from the beginning of the story. 

So how do you write a high fantasy novel without following convention? It’s a genre because of the similarities in the stories in it, and if that’s the kind of story you want to write, how do you write a specific genre without falling back on a set of rules? 

Well, I’ll tell you what I did, and then we’ll go back to Truby for his advice. I’ll also throw in a breakdown of another author in the same genre, Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn, as I and many other would consider him, as Truby phrases it, a “master storyteller”.
  • There is magic
    • Ok, well how does it work? By setting up unique rules for how the magic in your fantasy setting works, rather than leaving it vague - even if it isn’t explained to the reader - you’re differentiating your magic from the magic someone throws in who just adds magic because it’s supposed to be there. I actually have an entire document breaking down how magic works in Magdra, and it does follow a specific set of rules to work the way it does. There is a little explanation in the books so far, but I don’t (at the moment) have any time when I pause to go into a long complicated discussion on how magic works. You can tell there are rules just by how the characters interact, though. 
    • Brandon Sanderson - in Mistborn (I’m only going to discuss the first novel as far as I remember it), magic also has a particular set of rules. Characters that have magic need to eat metal to “fuel” their powers - alternatively, another set of characters can store power in metal (usually jewelry), but the fact remains that a component is needed for magic to work. It is also shown that only particular individuals can use magic - which is not explained in the first book, but the reader can tell there is an explanation. By setting up these unique rules (and the puzzles they add to the story), Sanderson creates something unique out of a convention. 
  • There are magical races
    • Well, I tried to stay away from “traditional” fantasy races - elves, dwarves, orcs, etc - but they did in some form end up in the story. Where they do exist, so also do other, nontraditional (though not entirely unique) races exist. I tried to create societies around these races that differed from normal fantasy races - I put the elves in a swamp and made them anthropomorphic frogs, I made “dwarves” extremely tall, I have harpies that are obsessed with love, and deertaurs as opposed to centaurs. 
    • Brandon Sanderson - Mistborn is a lackluster example of magical races, but in Sanderson’s other works he includes entirely original races not found in other fantasy stories. 
  • It takes place in an alternate realm
    • I tried to include cultures that were inspired by non-Western medieval countries, which is what many fantasy stories do. I have entire pages on each country as well, while still not detracting to tell the reader all about every single on in detail. Many of the countries are inspired by real world places, which is something I hope to move away from in the future, but others are their own creation devoid of such inspiration. 
    • Brandon Sanderson - the world of Mistborn is wholly different from the “standard” high fantasy world. It contains few countries, and is not based on any real world location. It is still not our own world, but it not a world based on convention, either. 
  • The protagonist is a hero
    • Allaha is the protagonist of my story, and throughout she follows a strict moral code and is, in fact, a hero. However, throughout the story, she runs into more morally gray situations, and sometimes has to make hard decisions that may not necessarily be “right”. She also has to deal with more personal issues, such as her relationship with her family and her faith - complications that help separate her from other heroes in the same genre. 
    • Brandon Sanderson - Vin is the protagonist of Mistborn, and is a bit more of a classic hero story. She is a street urchin that is blessed with great power,  brought under the wing of a wise mentor. However, Sanderson takes the time to develop Vin’s personality, her likes and dislikes, and also has her run into morally gray situations and have to make tough decisions. Flaws are often the saving graces of fantasy heroes - when they have them, they feel more relatable. 
  • The protagonist is on a quest to defeat a great evil
    • My “twist” on this is that unlike other stories, my hero has no idea what evil she faces or how to stop it. In fact, the first book is all her and her companions trying to find answers to these questions. Usually the quest a hero undergoes in a story is straightforward - go get this evil-stopping weapon, go to this place for evil-stopping power, stop the evil before it happens by sealing it with this ritual which requires etc etc etc. Making the quest more complicated, or the path to victory harder to visualize, the quest becomes less by the numbers. 
    • Brandon Sanderson - ok, this man is a master of foreshadowing, so I can’t really explain without giving away spoilers. If you’ve read the books, however, you likely know that you will not see the endings of his books coming. 

So using my own work and the work of a celebrated author, I’ve shown how you can write for a specific genre without making your story exactly like every other story in the same genre. So let’s see what Truby has to say on the subject of writing stories without following a mechanical process. 

Truby’s goals to his readers are that he will:
  • Show that a great story is organic - not a machine but a living body that develops
  • Treat storytelling as an exacting craft with precise techniques that will help you be successful, regardless of the medium or genre you choose
  • Work through a writing process that is also organic, meaning that we will develop characters and plot that grow naturally out of your original story idea

One of my personal favorite phrases that Truby uses here is that “your characters seem to be acting on their own, as they must, even though you are the one making them act that way”. I like this phrase because as many writers and avid readers know, many great authors will tell you that their characters do act on their own. I myself have changed parts of my stories because my characters derailed my intentions, and oftentimes to authors their characters feel like real people, just as they do to the readers. 

In the next part of this series, I’ll get more into the processes Truby discusses - well, as much as I can without giving the book away. 




Truby, J. (2007) The Anatomy of Story. Farrar, Straus and Giroux: New York, NY.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Beautiful People #7

(Series by Cait @ Paper Fury and Sky @ Further Up and Further In)
Since Dandy comes out this week, I'm going to slow down on the series. I'm going to switch to once every other week instead of every week, and switch to upcoming characters or just whoever I feel like at the time, ha ha.

1. What is their secret desire?

Dandy - to feel safe again.

Toru - to wake up and find that everything that happened was just a dream.

2. What is the best and brightest moment they experience during the story?

Dandy - waking up with her lover and being completely comfortable in her own skin for a few minutes.

Toru - finally letting go of his past and moving forward.

3. What are the emotional places your characters are afraid to go to?

Dandy - literally anywhere emotional - but in particular, about her past; even more specifically, about her family.

Toru - admitting that he doesn't really want revenge anymore.

4. Is there a place/city/room where they will never go? Why?

Dandy - no only because she would have to admit weakness if she didn't.

Toru - his family estate, because he feels he cannot return until he has reclaimed his honor.

5. If they were permanently leaving town, what would they easily throw out? What would they refuse to part with? (Why?)

Dandy - she would literally leave with the shirt on her back and nothing else. She doesn't keep anything particularly sentimental, and considers everything else replaceable.

Toru - His sword is the only thing he'd make sure to take with him, since it's a sign of his station and was given to him by his father.

6. What do they want (consciously and tangibly)?

Dandy - to get paid and get laid.

Toru - to fulfill his mission and return home.

7. On the other hand: what do they need (on the emotional, subconscious level)?

Dandy - to accept the support of her friends and move on from her past, and to realize she deserves nice things.

Toru - to realize his own shortcomings and work on improving them.

8. If they could change one thing about themselves, what would it be?

Dandy - she would never run away from home.

Toru - to be more suspicious (as he sees himself as too trusting).

9. What is the most humiliating event of their life?

Dandy - when she was the slave of Choi Shuon.

Toru - the first time he met Dandy, and was a sleep-deprived, half drunk mess in the gutter.

10. What things do they turn to when they need a bit of hope?

Dandy - opium.

Toru - poetry.


”PAPERFURY”

Digital Storytelling: The Importance of Context and Understanding What Your Story is Really Saying

Today I watched Hannah Gadsby’s hour comedy special “Nanette” on Netflix and it was so heartfelt, and a lot of the act spoke to me. One of the things she spoke on was the current romanticism of mental illness, and as someone that has ADHD, anxiety, and depression, this related to me a lot. She also spoke on her experience on coming out as a lesbian, and one phrase really spoke out to me: “You learn from the part of the story you focus on. I need to tell my story properly”. What she was discussing, was coming from a conservative Christian area in Tasmania, where she says “70% of the people who raised me, loved me, who I trusted -  believed that homosexuality was a sin, that homosexuals were heinous sub-human pedophiles” and how this affected her view of her self-worth. She goes on to speak about how she turned her coming out story into a comedy routine - as many young gay comedians do - and how it caused her to compartmentalize and minimize the pain she’d felt, instead of dealing with it the way she should have - the way she wished she had. While this is a very deeply personal story, and a very personal analysis, it made me start thinking on my stories and what I focus on.

My latest book, Dandy, had a very challenging main character for me. When I wrote the rough draft of my first book - Allaha of the Mountain - it was from a very depressed place. My cat, Zane - my first pet that had been my pet and not a family pet - died. And I largely felt that it was my fault for being a young, inexperienced owner. (You’ll also notice that the dedication is to him, and one of the main characters - Karejakal - is based on him.) I know now that that did play a part of it, but the larger problem was that Zane had somehow contracted feline leukemia (despite having been vaccinated) and so when one thing went wrong, everything did. The same thing happened to his brother, Ramses, whom Dandy is dedicated to. So at the time I wrote Allaha of the Mountain for the first time, I was in a depressive state. And while my ex thought that the title character, Allaha, was based on me, I would say it would be more accurate to say that she is my depression personified. It shows in her emotional detachment, the way she seems to have a hard time connecting to actual feeling - good or bad.

So my goal with Allaha has become accurately portraying someone with depression, and in her story it’s the support of her friends and her responsibility for other people that helps her to reclaim herself. Because initially she turned to religion as her support system, and I don’t mean to discredit anyone whose faith has helped them - but I was raised in a Christian household, and I needed more than faith. Faith itself is not wrong; but oftentimes, and usually well-meaningly and unconsciously, it is postulated as a cureall - anything can be fixed with enough faith. So when your problems - when your pain, your feelings of isolation, your feelings of being not quite right - when they don’t go away, it’s because you don’t have enough faith. And you don’t seek outside support, because you’ve been taught that all you need is faith, and maybe you’re ashamed that you don’t have the faith you’re supposed to have. Because how can you, when your problems still exist?

Allaha focuses on a woman who buried her pain in blind religious faith, and found that if she just made herself enough of the perfect model of the ideal practitioner of this faith, she could pretend that the hurt wasn’t there. In reality, she was suffering from a prolonged depressive state, and it made her emotionally unavailable. Not because she relied on faith, but because she only relied on faith. Throughout the series, I want to be able to depict her journey back to herself through confronting her pain, rather than burying it. Through relying on the people who love her, rather than blindly following doctrine. And it’s a personal battle that I’ve experienced - the fight between faith and personal beliefs, and what to do when the two stop matching up the way you thought they used to, and how sometimes faith can isolate you instead of give you a place to belong.

Circling back, if Allaha is a representation of my depression, Dandy is a representation of my anxiety. From the outset I knew Dandy would be a complicated character to portray. I wanted to accurately portray someone who was using extremely unhealthy coping mechanisms for their mental illness (PTSD) without making her entirely unsympathetic. Dandy is crass, and mean - sometimes it’s clever, but most of the time it’s just mean. There’s one particular scene where she crosses a line with a friend because she’s in pain and wants to push them away so that they don’t recognize she is (even though they already have) because she has come to believe that she is the only person she can rely on. There are other times that she can really be outright vicious.

Now, I have never gotten to the point where I have crossed that line - but I have been more cutting than I meant to, and I can sometimes be mean. Especially to myself, if I’m being completely honest. And while I have never abused any illicit substances, I have wondered what it would be like to use them. Fortunately for Dandy, she also has a support system of friends that are there and ready to catch her when she falls. They forgive her - now, they don’t brush it off like what she said wasn’t legitamitely hurtful, because it was - but they know it was coming from a place of pain and make the deliberate decision to forgive her because they know she needs help.

Coming back to Hannah Gadsby - “You learn from the part of the story you focus on. I need to tell my story properly.” What do I focus on in my stories? I focus on people who bury their feelings in different ways instead of confronting them, and how it negatively affects them. I focus on the pain - but I also focus on relationships. I focus on people in dark places getting help from the people who care about them, and eventually how confronting their feelings helps them to be better people. More confident people who are more accepting of themselves. The kind of person I am and I strive to be more.

Gadsby, in the beginning of her show, talks about a man who almost beat her up because he had mistaken her for a man and thought she was flirting with his girlfriend (she was). But because he realized she was a woman he apologized and left. It was funny, lighthearted delivery, and a comical situation in general.

At the end of her show, she reveals that he realized she was a lesbian and came back to “beat the shit out of” her. She discusses how ending the story where she did was on purpose, because she knew it was funny at that point - and that her getting beat up was not. You can see the emotion on her face - you can see how much it hurts her that she didn’t report the incident, or go to the hospital because, in her words, “I thought that was all I was worth”.

I really had wondered why I wrote such dark themes into my stories. Why did I feel the need to focus on terrible things happening, instead of happy endings and fun adventures? And it was watching this special, and seeing someone who had felt some of the same things I had - hearing them articulate some of the things I had done in different ways - that made me realize it. I needed to tell my story properly.

My characters start in dark places and find bad ways to cope with them. I fight for education on mental illness because when I tried to articulate my depression to my mother as a teenager, she didn’t realize what the problem was and didn’t get me the help I needed. That is not a denigration on her - it’s a side effect of a society that stigmatizes mental illness. I had realized that I did not feel things the same way as other people early on - and I hid it, because the few times I had been myself, I was told things like “you shouldn’t feel that way”. So subconsciously I just started shutting down the feelings I wasn’t supposed to have and “played normal”. I didn’t make plans for the future, because I didn’t know what I was supposed to want, and I had stopped trying to figure out what I actually wanted.

“I need you to know what I know - to be rendered powerless does not destroy your humanity,” Gadsby says, “Your resilience is your humanity. The only people who lose their humanity are those who believe they have the right to render another human being powerless - they are the weak. To yield and not break - that is incredible strength.”

One of the things I thought of when writing Dandy was how much I did not want it to be about a bounty hunter “with a heart of gold”.  Dandy is just a person - a woman who has been through hell and hasn’t quite left it yet, and while she can be kind and decent that doesn’t make her better than anyone else. The “heart of gold” trope is always used to make it seem like suffering makes you a better person - it doesn’t. You can suffer and turn into a giant asshole. It romanticizes suffering as a prerequisite for sainthood, and normalizes the thought that if you are a good person while suffering you will eventually get good things because you deserve them for being a good person.

You learn from the part of the story you focus on. Where is the part of these stories that focuses on how the other characters, the ones around the “heart of gold” character, living in the same terrible conditions with the same sad backstories, are just as deserving of kindness and human decency? Dandy and another character, Gurujhal, are not “good” people. They both have dark pasts, and both of them have done bad things in order to survive. Both of them were broken and needed to rebuild themselves. Their stories focus on their resilience - but they don’t shy away from the dark places. Because I need to tell my story properly.

I realized that I write from these dark places because I focus on getting out of them. I focus on building a support network of people who love you and are willing to help - even, no, especially on your bad days. You learn from the part of the story you focus on. How powerful is that statement? I could just write happy stories about people with superficial problems going on adventures and being victorious - but what does anyone learn from that? Nothing.

Sometimes you need an emotional rest, and happy stories provide that, and there is nothing wrong with that. But that is providing you exactly what I said it was - an emotional rest, not a lesson. Happily ever afters are wonderful - but the kind I write are earned. Because the kind of stories I want to tell - the kind of characters I want to build - are people who went to dark places and came out to make their own happy endings. Happy endings they had to fight for, because I had to fight all the negative feelings I had internalized. Because I had to fight to stop “playing normal” and realize what I wanted, and stop caring about what I was supposed to want. I write characters who buried emotions instead of confronting them, because I buried my emotions and needed to confront them later.

“What I would have done to have heard a story like mine; not for blame, not for reputation, not for money, not for power… but to feel less alone. To feel connected.” Like Gadsby talks about here, I am writing the stories I wanted to read when I was younger. These are love letters to myself, and anyone else who has felt the way I have.

Throughout her show, Gadsby talks about the real history of Van Gogh and why we misrepresent him, and why he was not successful, and she ends on a note that resonated with me: “Do you know why we have the sunflowers? It’s not because Vincent Van Gogh suffered; it’s because Vincent Van Gogh had a brother who loved him. Through all the pain, he had a tether - a connection to the world.”

My stories have dark themes, and trauma - but they focus on how making connections, and finding people to support you can help you through those dark times. I focus on moving on from the past - not forgetting it, but not letting it turn you into someone you don’t want to be. And I couldn’t tell those stories - at least not as well - without the dark places. So remember when you write your stories, that you need to tell them properly. That you learn from the part of the story you focus on.

I’m sharing all of this because it’s made me reconsider how and why I tell stories, and why both of these things are very important considerations. When people used to ask me what I wanted them to take away from my stories, I used to say I didn’t have anything in mind. After watching this special, I realize that I just didn’t realize how much of myself I really had poured into these stories. And I want to share this revelation so that when others are making stories, they’ll take the time to also consider what their stories are focusing on, and what others are going to learn from it.

So thank you, Hannah Gadsby, for sharing your story - you helped me to realize some things about myself and the stories I tell, and if it makes any difference, you’ve helped me to feel a little less alone.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Digital Storytelling: Preparing for Video #2

So I think for my next video I’m going to create an abridged video for my first book, Allaha of the Mountain. I like doing in person skits, but I also have low access to resources (money). So, rather than try to create something that looks like it was professionally produced, I plan to embrace my low budget madness and - even though my book isn’t a comedy - making the skits more humorous than serious. This way, I want to draw more interest to the story while still entertaining an audience with a shorter, less accurate version.

It’s kind of ironic, to me, to make an abridged version of the story because the abridged version would consist of a series of interconnected skits that skip through time. The reason I find this ironic is that the rough draft for Allaha of the Mountain started as a series of “episodic” chapters that focused on what became the climax of each chapter, but lacking the character development and time spent in between each high points. Now, creating an abridged video, I need to use a script that would focus on the climax of each chapter and leave out the character development and time spent in between… each… climax…

Anyways, the scripts I’ve written so far have been written in Google Docs, but I think for this video I’m going to use an actual script writing software called YouMeScript, which automatically formats scripts. I already wrote a movie script using it, so I think it will make it easier to create a video like this. I also think I’m going to call in my friends to help out, instead of doing all the parts myself as I’ve done in videos in the past. While playing the parts myself could be funny, it would be difficult at my level of editing to include multiples of myself in the same shot.

Speaking of parts, it will also be difficult since I lack the resources (money) to hire professional actors to play the parts of the characters. So I’ll have to do the best I can, or look into using a cartoon video making service. This is still somewhat limited, since it would depend on the options available for creating avatars.

Either way, this is going to be a big project, and I think it’ll be a lot of fun. One of the “abridged” influences I’ll be looking at pretty heavily is Team Four Star, since I love their comedic style and way you can tell they love the source material, even when they acknowledge its faults.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Beautiful People #6 - Lovers in Love

(Series by Cait @ Paper Fury and Sky @ Further Up and Further In)
These questions were originally posted in February of 2015, so they are Valentine's themed. While Dandy is not a romance book, the main characters each have a romance, so maybe skip this one if you want to experience the growth of their romances through the story?

1. How long have they been a couple?

Toru & Gurujhal - Two years at the beginning of the book, about two and a half by the end.

Dandy & Azuka - They meet for the first time in the second chapter (Kazu the Hand), and are more or less together through the end of the story, so about ten months.

2. How did they first meet?

Toru & Gurujhal - Through Dandy. When Toru first started working with her in a bounty hunting capacity, Toru met Gur when they went to get information from him for a job.

Dandy & Azuka - At a noblewoman's coming of age party during a bounty hunting job.

3. What were their first thoughts of each other? (Love at first sight or “you’re freakishly annoying”?)

Toru & Gurujhal:
Toru - Thought Gur was annoying and crass.
Gurujhal - Thought Toru was uptight and fun to tease.

Dandy & Azuka:
Dandy - Thought Azuka was interesting.
Azuka - Thought Dandy was mildly entertaining.

4. What do they do that most annoys each other?

Toru & Gurujhal:
Toru - Gur instigating public displays of affection.
Gurujhal - Initially, he doesn't really think anything Toru does it annoying - later, though, I'd say it's Toru's way of cutting to the heart of things.

Dandy & Azuka:
Dandy - Azuka's way of always calling her bluff.
Azuka - Well, not exactly something Dandy does, so much as his own tendency to underestimate her.

5. Are their personalities opposite or similar?

I honestly didn't even realize that both couples had opposite personalities until my editor pointed it out. In his words:
I love the dichotomy of your romantic pairings. Dandy, the crass, sexually open woman paired with the prim and proper noble in Azuka. Tough, badass, stoic Toru paired with fidgety, nervous, unsure of himself Gurujhal.

6. How would their lives be different without each other?

Toru has a arc involving a lot of self-reflection, and I feel like he'd take longer to realize some things about himself without his relationship with Gur. Gurujhal would likely never get into a really emotionally fulfilling and intimate relationship without Toru, and because of his past and why he wouldn't get into that kind of relationship, his self-esteem would suffer for it.

Dandy also goes though a growth arc, and having someone that is mature and laid-back and doesn't expect anymore of her than she's willing to give  really helps her keep her head. Getting into a relationship with a partner she comes to deeply trust is also part of her growth. Azuka never planned to have a long term partner, but is beginning to change his mind.

7. Are they ever embarrassed of each other?

I think the only one who gets embarrassed is Gurujhal, who sometimes gets embarrassed by how straight forward Toru can be.

8. Does anyone disapprove of their relationship?

Toru & Gurujhal - Nobles in general disapprove of Gurujhal, but the only person close to Toru would be Lt. Urataro of the militia, who grew up as a ward of the Katowaro family. Zueng - Gur's dad, doesn't approve of Toru because he's convinced Toru will end up hurting Gur.

Dandy & Azuka - Rin, Dandy's friend and half-owner of the Mountain's Beard Inn with Dandy, doesn't approve of Azuka because of past experiences with Azuka's family. Azuka has the same societal disapproval as Toru, but no one close to him that disapproves.

9. Do they see their relationship as long-term/leading to marriage?

Toru & Gurujhal - They're just seeing where this leads.

Dandy & Azuka - Azuka is starting to make long term plans, but Dandy is more nebulous in her plans of the future.

10. If they could plan the “perfect outing” together, where would they go?

Toru & Gurujhal - Honestly a picnic with their family (Gur's dad, Toru's mom and kids) and friends somewhere quiet.

Dandy & Azuka - They wouldn't really go "out" - more like staying in bed all day.


”PAPERFURY”

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Digital Storytelling M1 Story: My Book is Not YA



Scene:
Kitchen table, cloth background

Script:

So, I want to talk about something that keeps coming up and why it’s very frustrating. My book is not a Young Adult book. (Add in a YA book on the side.) Look, I have nothing against YA novels. (Add another YA book.) In fact, there are a lot (add another book) of YA books (add another book) that I greatly enjoy. (Add all of the YA books I own.) YA is a great genre that helps its target age group deal with the problems unique to the point in their lives they’re going through, and when it comes to diverse YA, it’s even more important in showing young adults that they aren’t alone in their more specialized experiences. There are a lot of very talented, very hard working creators that are making brilliant YA fiction that inspires confidence and positive change in young adults. (Take out all the YA books) I am not one of them.

Now that we’ve established that YA is great, let’s talk about some of the comments I keep seeing on my work. I’m not going to say who said what, because this is not meant to attack or discredit any individual, but to address certain arguments I keep running into. There are two big ones I see - that I shoehorned in adult content, and that my writing style is too much like a YA novel.

Let’s start with adult content. At no point in my writing process, did I stop and think (Cut to typing at a computer desk and stop to gasp “Oh no, if I don’t add in some violence, bad language, and sexual content, this will be…. Young Adult.”) First, because none of these topics are outside the realm of YA - it’s the combination of the degree of graphicness and the way the material is handled that makes the difference between whether these are the themes of a YA or an adult novel. My novel is pretty graphic in some regards, and implied in others - but I write about these themes from the point of view of an adult, as my main character is one. A more recent critique I received was that my adult content made the book inaccessible to children even though there were childlike characters.

The first way I’ll address this is that my characters that are children are just… children. Not childlike. It’s an important distinction because you can have childlike characters that are not children. And in the same way that I didn’t stop to think about whether or not my book would be YA, I never went to my author lair like (Cut to “evil author” persona “Oh, yes, by adding this, I can ensure that no children get a hold of my story). I also don’t have a problem with young readers - I was a young reader. But just because a story has children in it doesn’t make it a book for children - A Song of Ice and Fire (Cut to Game of Thrones) has characters that are children, but you wouldn’t assume it was a children’s book because of it.

Moving on the the second argument - I know I write in a simplistic manner. This is on purpose. (Cut to finely dressed and sipping tea “Because while ostentatious, esoteric, superfluous words and long strings of poetic philosophical prattering may make me appear erudite…”) ...if I do it only to sound smart, I also come off as really pretentious. No one cares what you have to say if they don’t know what you’re saying. I want my stories to accessible to the widest audience possible - and shutting people out because they have a smaller vocabulary than I choose to employ is silly. So I wasn’t writing simplistically to appeal to a younger audience, but a wider one, which accounts for people who may not have had the same academic advantages I have. 

In conclusion, I don’t have a problem with YA novels (Cut to all the YA novels back) but my book is not one (Cut out YA novels and leave my book) and this was not done purposefully, as I honestly put no thought whatsoever into whether or not my book was YA when I wrote it.
I like talking to people so leave me a comment or question if you have one. And oh yeah - in the words of the venerable Varric Tethras… “Buy my book.”

(Credits)

(Post credits scene) By the way my new background is a tablecloth I got for going to cons in the future, with a map of Magdra, the fantasy world of my book, printed on it.

Beautiful People #8 - Siblings

(Series by  Cait @ Paper Fury  and  Sky @ Further Up and Further In ) Alright! Getting back into the swing of things! So my plan is to ...