Storytelling thoughts: Signature ability

Even though characters might have a wide array of abilities in their arsenal, in the key moments, some might ten to use something they know well, even more if it helped them out of sticky situations in a while. It can also say more about their characters as bad guys usually tend to use ‘instakill’ attacks, showing no emotion or remorse when using them (hello, Voldemort!).

For the good guys, the choice can be telling more about them, especially if they are forced to fight someone they don’t want to kill for any reason. Here, I could even mention the reprogrammed T-800 from Terminator 2 movie who, after being commanded to not kill anyone, was shooting people in the leg to cause non-lethal injury that would reliably prevent pursuit. Of course, this case is heavily seasoned with the cold approach of computers and finding the most efficient solution.

Now, I’ll move to my own experience. These days, it’s around 15 years since my first ideas and as it was not until 2015 I started to put the pieces together, the story went through several iterations in the early concept phases. The main hero and everything about him – skill set, personality, role, friends and family – went through at least four stages before I started writing, each having their own pluses and minuses.

In the early stages, the main hero – who still lacked even placeholder name, fact made easier by the fact I looked at the story through his eyes – was a warrior that somehow learned a few magic tricks, which allowed him to surprise his opponents and enemies. How many and how powerful these skills were changed a lot over time.

Due to his lower age, I wanted to show both the willing to risk by toying with magic (something very rare for a warrior) and unwillingness to kill. The risk element was even more in the fast that his signature move at that time was lightning strike that he learned to use on power that would stun or knock out the enemy, but without fatal damage.

It was much later when I decided to take slightly different approach to his skills (I guess maybe around 2012) and turned him into a paladin instead. Since then to maybe some late 2016, I was solidifying what I wanted his approach and skills to be.

In one of the iterations, he had a skill I later gave working name ‘final judgement’. The effect was that the victim was frozen in time for a split second during which he was judged by higher powers. If he was found evil, his soul was sent straight to hell and the body died while on (mostly) innocent person the effect was only short-term confusion. The reason I eventually scrapped that idea was that with powerful spells like that, it kills variety. When you have something that can destroy demon with a single incantation, why know more?

I’ll still not mention all his skills, but for now only one. It is my take on the iconic World of Warcraft skill, Hammer of Justice/Fist of Justice. The spell creates a spectral fist that he aims for the chest, the result being that the person’s breath is knocked out, leaving him temporarily unable to fight, which is great tool for capturing targets.

If the victim needs to die? Well, paladin is still a warrior, even if empowered by divine power, and he can still use his sword to lethal damage. As time passes, he learns more abilities for both offense and defense, but it’s not the time to mention them yet.

Back at writing, for a while

I did not do much when it comes to writing since some late October. The reasons were mixed, ranging from lack of inspiration through lack of time to problems with computer. Even my thoughts aimed at the story were utterly unproductive.

That finally changed in the last days. I wrote a bit – a page or so – the last week in a short while. What helped me more was the last Saturday, the walk through the misty and gloomy November forests and visiting a museum when reaching the destination. I had some ideas during the walk, which I wrote down shortly after I returned home, just in case.

Today, I hit it hard. After a month of pretty much nothing, I finished the chapter I started writing in late October and two more right after totaling almost 7000 words in some 6 hours. I guess it’ll be a pain when I get to revising it as I tend to make typos in these situations, but I can deal with that. With a bit of luck, I should be able to write a chapter or two tomorrow and have a bit of time for it two days in the next week. It gives me good feeling, and hope that I’ll be with it where I’d like to be at the end of the year.

And if someone would think that my thoughts were organized and focused only on the part of the story I am just writing… NOPE. Some of them (fortunately, most) were, but as it tends to be, some were about what happens much later and some regarding the backstory that happens much earlier and is classified as ‘potential prequel material’. Curse me, right?

Placeholder: blessing or curse?

This is a thought that returned to me today: is using placeholders (mostly for names) when writing a blessing or a curse? Can it get out of hand or backfire?

When I started working on my fantasy story, even before writing, I knew that naming the characters will be probably the hardest part. I always had troubles with coming up with names, even for my game characters, especially in World of Warcraft, Diablo 3 or even The Sims…

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Setback or chance for improvement?

It’s a bit over two years since I started working on my story. I hoped to have the first book done in summer 2018 and in a way, I am on track with that. Yet, there’s one big trouble: the intro as I call it, or prologue if I used real book terms.

The amount of information I need to put in the early part to set up the world is just too large for something like a prologue, if it had the size of one chapter. In that way, it feels too dense on information yet does not say enough. It’s something I suspected since the start and was not sure how to deal with it. Now that a friend who is one of my alpha testers pointed out this problem even more, I realized it’ll need serious revision. Truth that I tried to ignore, curse me…

At this point, I consider my initial plan for Summer 2018 release pretty much scrapped, no matter what approach I take. Once again, my working title ‘Project Eternity’ is becoming the harsh truth. So, what are my possibilities at this point?

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Writing thoughts: prejudices

So, it’s a bit over two years since I started working on my story, and well over five years since I went from “maybe one day” to “seriously thinking about it”. I still don’t feel ready to talk about it much, and I do here because of the partial internet anonymity. Even that took time.

Truth is, I am still afraid what people around me might think when they learn the truth, which is the reason that I am still quite picky about those who truly know what I am up to (including that it is me, and by that I mean knowing me at least somewhat). Being gamer and generally shy person who sticks to himself most of the time, I was often considered a bit strange. How worse could that be if those around me knew the truth?

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Writing thoughts: Downsides of creative surge

In the days after returning from my holiday (which I am describing day by day in my posts), I was back to writing after two weeks of break where I did not even touch it, though I was thinking about it. Even though I found myself having very little time to think about it when I was busy hiking, what time I had… well, I made it count really well.

After my return, I hit it hard. From Monday to Friday, I busted out 8 chapters at incredible 27700 words! Sometimes it went far too easy and I struggled to keep writing fast enough to not forget the details of my thoughts. But this writing rush brings some downsides to it…

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