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Writing Anime: An Interview

  • Posted on August 21, 2016 at 11:35 pm

Today, instead of lecturing you on what to cherry-pick from certain animes, I’ve met with and interviewed an individual who knows his stuff. Cuchallain has a long career of analysing and reviewing anime, manga and video games. So much so in fact that I greatly respect his opinions on most of the review videos I’ve watched. He also happens to have my favorite Let’s Play of Tales of Zestiria on the entirety of the internet, so let’s put that out there too.

As the first interview I ever conducted, Cu and I started with just a few questions, and while he didn’t exactly consider himself an expert to start with, it quickly became apparent to me that he was, in fact, quite knowledgeable. An avid anime fan since the age of ten years old, a convention-goer on the regular, and now the personality behind a youtube channel with over five thousand subscribers, Cu is also incredibly humble.

When asked what goes into his writing for his typical reviews, he explained that he’s actually very unscripted with them. At most, he takes a few notes, generally about the speech of the characters and the themes behind the videos. He in fact, doesn’t even script his theory videos. Then, unfortunately, we devolved into a discussion about his online name, and then that devolved into a conversation on fanfiction and the wonders of Inuyasha as a gateway drug.

Writing Anime: Pokemon Go

  • Posted on July 23, 2016 at 5:13 pm

So, like most others, my life has been taken over by Pokemon Go, an altered reality game where you catch cute as hell pokemon and run around like a crazy person. Altered Reality Games are defined as ” an interactive networked narrative that uses the real world as a platform and uses transmedia storytelling to deliver a story that may be altered by players’ ideas or actions.” What this means is, it’s interactive and fully user-based. In this case, it involves walking and jogging around town to different landmarks, collecting items from those landmarks, and catching cute pokemon that spawn through out town.

Now, what does this have to do with Writing? Well, it explains a lot about fandom and how interacting with it works. We’ve seen a lot of examples of fandom interactions between those of us who create, and those who consume. Often times, those that interact with their fans generally make more sales, and also have more material with which to work. After all, what better engine of creation than several hundred rabid fans all coming up with theories like breathing?

In fact, some artists interact with their fandoms solely for this reason. Others, however, have fun with it, and generally just interact with their fans for entertainment. Then there are those who fuck it up royally while interacting, and somehow get accused of being predatory towards their fanbase (here’s looking at you, John Greene).

One of my favorite examples of an author who interacts with their fanbase is Andrew Hussie, creator of modern day Illiad Homestuck and Problem Sleuth. This is a man whose work has garnered him a fanbase capable of pulling together 1.2 million dollars in TWO. WEEKS. I saw the kickstarter (and donated to it myself) go from 0 dollars to $500,000 in 24 hours, all in anticipation of a videogame.

How did he do it? In-jokes. Good writing. MASSIVE character base. He opened his twitter and several other places for questions to his fanbase. He allowed them to interact with him, and they did. It was massive. In fact, there’s an entire in-joke within the fandom (Fat Vriska, for anyone who knows it) that was started when someone on Formspring asked him about the weight of one of his characters. Eventually, he was asked about Vriska. Which concluded in this glorious manner:

In one of the most glorious fuck-you’s I’ve ever seen, he declared this, and the fandom ran with it.

For more of these absolutely hilarious happenings, you can, of course go to Knowyourmeme.com, and read up on all of them. Or, you can attempt to track them all down. That could be a fun scavenger hunt!

Speaking of scavenger hunts, have you heard of CipherHunt? Well, the fandom of Gravity Falls has. You see, Gravity Falls is a disney show that made it’s fandom massive through the use of ciphers, mysteries and the sorts of things that make those particular fans go crazy. That is, an omniscient Dorito demon who makes bad deals. CipherHunt is creator Alex Hirsch‘s way of making his fans happy one last time. Even though the series has ended, he’s provided them a series of clues, and told them, go on, get hunting.

At the end of each clue is a souvenir/next clue. Now, this isn’t possible for ALL authors, obviously, especially if you don’t have DISNEY backing you. But the fact that he allows it, even though his series is over, shows you what kind of person ends up with a fandom that large. Playful people who love what they’re doing.

Rebecca Sugar, creator of Steven Universe, is another playful person who loves what she’s doing, and in so doing, interacts with her fandom. But she does it quite a bit less than the others on this list. Honestly, she just keeps an eye on what her fandom creates and says, and then sometimes makes nods to it in her show. This is the bare minimum, but because of the way her show works, it does wonders.

So, you might be asking, how can I become this sort of creator? What do I need to do to woo my fandom beast? Well, first of all, find the fans. If you have work out already, look at who bought it, and who likes it. Encourage these people to talk to you. Encourage them to create, whether fanfiction, fanart, or fanmusic. Encourage creation, and it’ll create itself around you.

Then, remember, no matter what you do, it’s not going to be perfect. Laugh about your mistakes with those who point them out. Or, like Hussie does, make them into injokes. Have a sense of humour, and openly enjoy the community growing around your works. Even if it’s only a few people.

And finally, be accessible. Don’t hide yourself away, because while that may work for people like Steven King, or George R.R. Martin, when you’re writing for the sort of demographic that likes Anime and Manga, you really can’t afford to.

Who knows, if you succeed, you just might end up like Ishida-sensei, the creator of Tokyo Ghoul, who got to share his joy at his new Pokemon with the fans of his work.

 

Writing Process Blog Hop

  • Posted on July 8, 2016 at 9:29 pm

Natasha Duncan-Drake has an interesting blog-hop going on which Chris Votey tagged me in. His most recent (and best, if I do say so myself) work, the Daygar Legacy, is an amazingly well-researched and well-written vampire romp through medieval europe. Definitely take a look. This is an interesting prompt as it is geared towards the how and why of the writing process, as individuals find it. The worst part of it, I think, is going to be finding two to three people to tag! Wish me luck!

Rules:

  1. Introduce who referred the blog tour to you
  2. Answer the following 4 questions:
    1. What am I working on?
    2. How does my work differ from others in its genre?
    3. Why do I write what I do?
    4. How does my writing process work?
  3. Introduce the people you’re passing this on to (3 – 4 people if possible who will then post a week later)

Well, let’s get started.

  1. As I stated above, I was referred by Chris Votey, who runs the wonderful blog Madness of a Modern Writer. He and I met via twitter, after I finished my first ever NaNoWriMo and got full of myself, thinking I could be a professional writer! He’s become a mentor and a very good friend to me, although our politics differ quite a bit. He’s pushed me to great heights in my writing and in the way I look at the world, and I honestly adore him. Check out his books Terran Psychosis and Scraping By, if you really want a good can’t-put-this-down read!
  2. Four questions
    1. I’m working on a lot right now, but with my current creativity block, it’s all a bit on pause. But the major projects are:
      1. The Kurylian Saga, an epic fantasy series with a male poc main character who has to learn how to forgive his most hated foe when they’re forced to work together;
      2. A Greater Love, a regency-era-set asexual romance novel that takes a lot of it’s plot from tribulations from my own life.
      3. an unnamed short story set in the victorian era, which so far is a romance between a human serial killer and a rakshasa.
    2. To answer this question, i have to explain the very first actual story I ever wrote. You see, when I wrote it, there wasn’t really a genre for ‘the villain is the protagonist’. It just hadn’t been invented yet, really. So the fact that the first story I ever wrote featured an all powerful witch brought down to the power of a child and forced to relive her life so that she might learn the error of her ways means that I was already thinking ahead of the bell curve. I have always tried to be different, to understand other’s minds, to think outside of my own. So I think my work is different only in that I MAKE it different. I make it more inclusive, more daring, more open than others that I could name.
    3. The why of it is closely tied into who I am as a person. I’ve never really liked being me. Even in my earliest fantasies, my earliest daydreams, I was always someone else. So of course, when I get the chance, I’m going to make the main characters as different from myself as possible. Beyond that, however, is the fact that I’m always seeking the ways to see how others are JUST LIKE ME too. Perspective has always been a driving force in my life. Everyone has their own perspective, and I think that’s why I write what I do.
    4. My writing process is a bit hit and miss. Most of the time I start writing just before I have to go to bed. Procrastination at it’s finest. Of course, there’s a fine tradition of authors writing while laying down in bed, but I don’t usually lay down when I’m writing. I sit up, in my bed, on my computer, and open Scrivener. In scrivener, I pick up where I left off and start writing the next scene. I always do this, too, I always write linearly, despite having a program that lets me pick and choose. It makes it fit better in my head. I usually manage anywhere from 25 words to an entire 5000 in one sitting. During NaNoWriMo it can be even more.
  3. I tag Tunafax, who writes some of the most amazing fanfiction I’ve ever read! She’s writing a story right now called Witcher that makes some old fairy tales look tame. It’s a beautiful, gothic tale of wishes made and lives saved, and it’s absolutely gorgeous.
    1. Kudalyn was recommended to me by Tunafax, and she’s got an amazing repertoire of stories! Not only that, she’s adept at writing a drabble from a picture source. One of her favorite stories, Summoning Slifer, is a very nice look into a very not-human mind.
    2. Another amazing writer, Ashe, does an amazing job with description, levels even I aim to achieve. Her story The Living Daylights is amazing.
    3. And then there’s Ariasune (Alias for short) who should absolutely join us! Her work Akhet has that lovely touch of humor and tenacity that made me love Good Omens so very, very much. Definitely give her a read!
    4. And not tagged, specifically, but in a post that I took real interest in, Nana posted her writing process in EPIC detail.
    5. The person who tagged Nana made some good points in theirs as well. Empress, as she calls herself, has some lovely insights into the writerly mind.

I hope the three I’ve tagged have as much fun writing this out as I did, and will spread the love! You can read Ashe’s response to the tag here.

Researching Mystery

  • Posted on August 11, 2014 at 2:35 pm

Today, I have a guest blog published over on Cindy Grigg’s website. We’ve swapped guestblogs, and her post, 9 ways to fix your Stereotyped Character is informative and fun to read! Go take a look at it! Also, take a look at the article, Researching mystery which you can find here:

If you’re curious, here’s the first two paragraphs of the article, for your perusal.

To begin with, I’m not normally a mystery author. To be specific, when I was younger, I only ever wrote fantasy novels, or romance. Now, however, I’m trying my hand at mystery novels, which means quite a bit of strife. I have a natural instinct when it comes to fantasy, so I find it easy to fall into. With Romance, I have my years as a fanfiction writer and fandom roleplayer to fall back on, which can both enhance and detract from my writing. (No one likes reading author’s notes, I’ve since learned.)

I came to mystery as a genre because I love the tense atmosphere. Maybe it’s less mystery and more suspense that I enjoy. But recently, I’ve found that I want a challenge. And the best way to challenge yourself is to write something you’ve never in a million years written before. But how can you write something you’ve never written before? How can you make sure that you don’t slip back into writing what you know? And worst of all, how do you manage to make it a GOOD manuscript when you know nothing about your genre?

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The Lost Art of the Mary Sue

  • Posted on July 19, 2014 at 1:12 am

In case you do not know what a Mary Sue is, think immediately of Bella Swan from Twilight. Think of the main character from 50 shades of gray. Think of all those odd characters that everyone loves for no reason, and who gets what she wants, no matter what. The Mary Sue is a staple of bad fiction, and worse, bad fan-fiction, and have always been so.

But why? What is it about a Mary Sue that attracts preteen girls like flies? Why do they so desperately cling to her coattails the way everyone in her universe does? What is it about her sparkling opalescent eyes that draws in those who are just on the cusp of puberty?

Wish. Fulfillment.

Pure and simple, we flock to Mary Sues because they offer us something that we will never, ever see in real life. Absolute. Total. Acceptance. Even the Mary Sue’s faults are celebrated in-universe, in such a way that she is essentially a GOD. Even the bad things that happen to her eventually lead to amazing, wonderful things. Like the main love interest losing his shirt while comforting her. Y’know. Typical.

So, what makes us grow out of this entirely selfish wish fulfillment stage and seek out more realistic muses with which to satisfy our need to be someone else? Why, as adults, do we find it absolutely irreprehensible to admit that we ever liked bad fanfiction like My Immortal, that we ever read all of the twilight books cover to cover and wanted so badly to be Bella Swan? (I’d like it on the record I only read one and a HALF of the books, thank you.)

Perhaps it’s a case of I’m-to-old-for-this. Perhaps it’s a case of residual embarrassment. Perhaps we no longer want to admit that we have basic wants. We WANT people to like us unconditionally. We WANT to have the attractive mate of our dreams. We WANT the universe to revolve around us. No one can deny this. Humans are selfish creatures.

So, I say, there is no shame in the residual guilty pleasure we all receive from the pinnacle Mary Sue. Embrace it. Love it. And just remember, no one is EVER going to be as AMAZING as she is. EVER.

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