Oct 30, 2014

Fun with character avatar making (again!)

Surprising absolutely no one, I've been playing with that avatar generator again. (Hey, I can't help it- I love having a visual for my characters and I can't draw for beans.) Most of the cast of my November NaNo novel Unexpected Inspiration: Sentinel was in the first book, but I have one new main character I'm introducing this time and needed a good idea of what she looks like.

This is Sapphire:


Yeah, she's gimmicky, but look at the rest of my characters for the series- she fits right in. When you're a carnival performer, you're going to be somewhat ridiculous in appearance. ;) Sapphire is one of the band of carny-thieves my other characters join up with in Sentinel. I'm still working out her history and personality, but when I start writing more "Dear Characters" posts in November, she'll be one of the ones mentioned, so I'm sure I'll learn more about her then. I think her carnival act could be tightrope walking and I know she comes from the same country as the twins. Otherwise I don't know much about her yet. (I'm aware the avatar's book looks like a Bible, but it was the only book option.)

Here's a bit of info about how Sapphire fits in with the plot:
Most of the carnies are members of one of several roving carnival troupes, but some of them live on a semi-permanent basis in specific cities. This is partly to give the roving troupes better insight into what's going on in various locations, but the city-carnies have another purpose: they're infiltrating society. The Merchant class has members who have banded together into a kind of mob or syndicate and they're putting the Artisan class in a difficult situation where their art is no longer worth as much as it was. (The Artisan class makes the art, the Merchant class is in charge of moving/dealing and selling the art.) Since the country's entire basis of economy is art, this is definitely bad.

The city-carnies purpose in this respect is to sneak into the homes and businesses of the Merchants to find records of which Merchants are involved in this syndicate. The city-carnies also steal back the art that had been bought for very little, find out who had made it, and sneak it back into the home of the Artisan who originally created it. This isn't just altruism on the part of the city-carnies, though- they're also helping themselves to a small amount of the Merchants' money since those Merchants can afford to lose it.


I'm still working out a name for what the city-carnies call themselves. "Carny-thieves" doesn't really have the oomph I'm looking for.

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I also fiddled with the generator a bit to update Drake's avatar to be a little closer to how I picture him. (Them? Still working on a pronoun for Drake.) Drake's not in Sentinel for longer than about five minutes, but he's a main character throughout the series.

The shortcomings of that avatar generator is that the female ones always look too busty and the male ones look too muscular, so an androgynous male is difficult to make. His tattoo dragon scale sleeves leave something to be desired, too. I really need to get my cartoonist husband to draw these characters for me. ;)

I'm super excited to start book two this weekend! I've finally worked out what my plot is going to be and have a fairly decent outline prepared, so I should be able to dive right in on the first.

~Meri

Oct 20, 2014

Outlining Time!

I've been starting to work on planning out my '14 NaNoWriMo novel Unexpected Inspiration: Sentinel, the second book in the series, and so far I have ideas for characters, a title, and a synopsis.

Here's the summary so far: The actions of Adair and his cohorts have earned them the notice of the Artisan council. After Adair is unexpectedly advanced to master creator rank, Etri Travellarri, a former thief and carnival performer, steps up to serve as his guard. Etri soon discovers that there are those who are unhappy with Adair's promotion ahead of older, more experienced creators- and some who are particularly outraged by his choice of Sentinel. When the other guards decide to do something about this, Etri is forced to use his magic and his wits to prove his worth, gaining himself an enemy who will stop at nothing in his quest for retribution.

Today I started my outline. I'm really glad I did this because... well, look:

I have no plot. Cue panic time. I have the entire first arc planned out complete with tiny details, but only because it directly connects to the events at the end of Colorweaver. Once the main story starts up, I have almost nothing. I'm very much a planner and can't finish anything if I don't have a full outline of at least major events, so this is something I will definitely have to sort out over the next two weeks.

It probably won't make much sense to anyone else, but right now my notes look like this:
-What is Etri's antagonist doing throughout the story? How is he trying to get revenge after he loses his rank, his psychic link, and his coordination?
-These mysterious beings who approve Etri into the role of Sentinel after giving him a strange test. Do the characters learn more about them? Do they find their crypt and figure out that they're essentially ghosts? How do these ghosts get their seeing-stone onto the cat's collar?
-What is it that the carny-thieves do that makes them different from regular thieves? What's their greater purpose? What does Sapphire do once she joins the cast?
-There's a fire elemental pulling the strings of all of my antagonists so far. How much do the characters learn about him/them/it in this book?

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And book one? Colorweaver got a lot more complicated, so that's where my attention has been this month when I should have been planning out the aforementioned sequel. I'd said in my previous post that I was going to remove some characters. That lasted all of about a month before I realized I needed my musician back. Cue scrambling to rebuild her plot and come up with a story and personality for her sister, one of the antagonists.

At least the redone outline for draft #2 is mostly complete. I still have to work out some kinks with the plot, but I think it's almost all there. So far I've done about 20k words in the rewrite.

I used different color post-it notes with this because it's a second draft. This time around I know which of the characters is narrating a specific scene, so I have those color coded by character. Multiple post-its in one spot mean I have multiple things going on at the same time. The plot runs from left to right, so the top row is the first arc, the first post-it is the prologue and the last is the epilogue. Keeping things color coded means I can see at a glance how many scenes/chapters each main character has and how spread out the scenes are. Adair's my main-main, so he has nine or ten, Blythe has eight or nine, and Drake (who comes into the story a bit later) has seven or eight. Post-its are great because you can easily move them around or remove them if you change the plot.

My main problem with this rewrite is fiddling with ages and genders. One of my main characters is agender, which I need to elaborate more on since Drake will be getting more scenes narrated from his/their (still working out a pronoun) point of view. I'm on the fence about changing Grandeau's gender since it really has no bearing on the story whatsoever and it would be nice to have another female character. Chantrell is staying the same gender, but I'm going to try aging her up a few years so she's about sixteen.

This update has been mostly to keep track of where I am with my writing. The next one will probably make more sense. I'm due for another "Dear Characters" post anyway. I haven't ranted at those dingbats in a while. ;)

~Meri