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Dream ideas into reality.

  • Posted on March 15, 2016 at 2:35 pm

A question I don’t get asked very often is how I get my ideas for my various books and short stories. In this case, I’m going to walk you through the process, as I just had a strike of inspiration. You see, I get my ideas from Dreams. My dreams, often, are more creative than the ideas I come up with in reality. Then, I take a bit of real life intuition, awake logic, and turn it into something worth putting to page.

The dream I just had was a bit of a mess. It started out with me interviewing for a job, failing to get that job, demanding that I actually SEE the supervisor who wasn’t going to hire me, despite it being very late at night and the children needing sleep. Then, I wandered around the mall in which the job was located, and found a huge gym that wasn’t there before, and stairs leading up. The mall in my area is only one floor, so I was confused, and followed the stairs up, and they led to a room in which a famous band was playing.

Beyond the band, I could see a massive stadium filled with people. It was like reality had decided to fold in on itself, creating pockets of reality inside this mall. I wanted to find out why, but I was so very lost. Then, a bald man with dark skin found me, security, and I apologized so much, and he lead me in the direction that I had came. I saw a boy walk by, reading a book that I had read before, and I told him he was going to love it.

The dream then segwayed into what I assume was a scene from that book. A man was standing in a circle of people, facing off against a God, the god of his world. The God sneered, and gave him a chance to win. He would grant one single wish. The man used this wish to bind the God away “Until I have been loved enough.” The god sneered again, and did something that turned the people of the world odd shades of green and brown and yellow (I assume this indicated various shades of disgust, hate and disillusionment.), and it was like resetting the emotional counter on characters in a massive game.

In fact, with the god gone, the whole world was like a game. He separated an entire continent (in my dream there was this lovely sort of effect where a blue fire fox swirled around a peninsula/island chain that connected the two continents, and it was absolutely amazing.), and started putting the world the way he wanted. But the only people who cared for his works were his parents and the woman he loved.

Now the whole thing ended when the new god started getting credit cards in the mail. He realized it was a trap, that the God had been planning this all along. Had enjoyed his freedom for a while, messing up the world, and then passed off the mess and debt to another. It had ALL been a TRAP!

And that was my dream. Fragmented and disjointed, isn’t it? A little bit odd too. BUT! With the proper logic, it can be turned into a pretty good short story. Let’s break it down into parts.

  1. The job – Clearly this is anxiety about my status as jobless. So for now, we’re going to cast it aside. We might use it as some kind of motivation for the main character later.
  2. The mall being weird – This we can use, but from the perspective, rather than mine, of the main character, I.E. The one who takes over for God. Let’s call him Bruce for now (in tribute to Bruce Almighty, a really good movie.)
  3. The God handing over his powers – This scene is important. It’s going to be the actual meat of our story, and the conflict the main character will face.
  4. The scenes where Bruce parts the sea-I MEAN- gets rid of the continent – These are clearly filler, the perks of the job, so to speak. It’s just basically the fun things
  5. The Trap – Now here’s where it gets exsistential. Because I woke up before the dream could really finish, I have to kind of mentally elaborate. The credit cards mean that there is in fact a higher power than the god that he’d bound away. These powers, in fact, are the worst sort. CREDITORS. So now he has to find a way out of this situation.

With those points, we now have an actual outline. After that, it’s a pretty simple thing to write the first draft, edit and edit and edit some more, and then have a workable short story. Now I’m going to do the SMART thing, post this up and then wait a few days to see if the idea still seems viable. A lot of people tell you to wait weeks, or even months, but honestly, I never know what my life is going to be like a few months down the road, so I rarely wait that long.

And that, ladies and gentlemen is how I take one of my dreams, and turn it into a work of fiction. I did the same with the dream that spawned the Kurylian Saga. Now go out and make your dreams come true! On paper, that is.

Writing Anime: Land of Gods and Monsters

  • Posted on January 31, 2016 at 10:50 am

Noragami is a sensational series that gives whole new definition to Gods and Demons. Or rather, in this case, Kami and Ayakashi (Phantoms). The series follows Yato, a down-on-his-luck god, who in general seems to have no real power. In fact, he’s honestly a god-for-hire, who will “Grant any wish for just 5 yen!” as he so cheerfully exclaims all over media networks. Seriously, this guy has a TWITTER.

Poor guy only has two followers though.

Along with him are Yukine, a spirit that he has allowed second life to serve him as a Regalia (a system that will be explained later), and Yatori, a human girl whom made a wish, and Yato is having trouble granting it. All in all a beautiful story with great characters and a lovely, multi-faceted protagonist.

So why is it so interesting? Well, because of the fact that the WORLD in which it is built is so very interesting. As normal humans, this world isn’t something WE would be able to see, but none the less, might exist along side us anyway.

Today, we’ll be exploring that world in detail, as well as the various ways we could use these details in our own writing.

In the world of Noragami, there are approximately four types of spirits. Gods known as Kami, Humans from the Near Shore, which are just regular people like you and me, Spirits which can be either human shaped or corrupted into Ayakashi, and Regalia (or Shinki) which are used by gods to cleanse and purify Ayakashi.

Of the various classes, Kami are perhaps the oddly vulnerable powerhouses of the series. One of the major arc-words of the series is “A god can do no wrong.” An article by Martin Wisse explains why this might not be such a good thing. Gods are unchangeable, eternal beings. So much so in fact that when one dies, if they have followers, they are immediately reborn, sans memories and in a childlike form. If they do not have followers… Well.

To that end, Gods are tasked with removing Ayakashi from existence, cleansing them sometimes, or destroying them others. Ayakashi are what happens when a soul stays too long on the Near Side (I.E. Our world) and gets corrupted by negative emotion, fear, doubt, or by other Ayakashi. These spirits turn into giant monstrous beasts that cause misfortune, unrest, and negative emotions in humans. If one were strong enough, it might even cause a human to fall into such deep depression that they could decide to kill themselves, thus feeding the Ayakashi following them.

Before an Ayakashi forms, however, it is most likely a Near Side Soul, or basically, a ghost. These are spirits that linger, and these are the spirits that can be turned into Shinki, or Regalia. Regalia are the most important thing for a god to have, when dealing with Ayakashi. As gods will become corrupted and suffer blight if they touch or get near an Ayakashi for too long, Shinki allow the gods to combat and purify the phantoms. Shinki act as weapons, or sometimes objects, that are intermediaries between the gods and the world around them. In fact, Regalia are so important that THEY themselves choose what their god can strike at.

If a god can get to a Near-Side Soul before it turns into Ayakashi, they can choose to send it on to the next life, or take it on as a Regalia. Shinki, however, are not easy to maintain. They are essentially human, and so each negative emotion they have affects their God. Lying, stealing, cheating, all of it physically HURTS the god they are tied to. In fact, if it goes on long enough and the human doesn’t repent, it can actually cause the god so much illness that the god has to die to be set arights. But again, a god with followers has nothing to fear from being killed, except that they would lose their current selves and start over as a child.

What we, as writers, can take from this is that magic systems are sometimes extremely complex. If your magic system is as complex as this, it MUST impact not just the plot, but the characters entirely! Yato is entirely absorbed in his role as a God. In fact, it’s what DRIVES him as the main character, and what drives him to change. The problem is, as a Kami, Yato CANNOT change on his own. He requires external forces to enact change in him. There comes in Yukine and Hiyori. But it is the Magic System that requires such measures.

To enact this sort of magic system, however, you have to think of it as a sort of ecosystem. If there is one section of the ecosystem, it must serve another, as the Kami serve the humans to get prayers and worship, and the shinki serve the Kami as a way to gain a second life. Generally, however, your story won’t work unless this ecosystem IS the central plot, when tied into the characters. A few tips for implementing it:

  • Have one character from each section of the ecosystem, so as to show how they interact.
  • Make sure that each section has drawbacks as well as gains from the other sections.
  • Clearly delineate how this ecosystem would fall apart if one part were removed.
    • For example, if the Kami are removed, the Ayakashi overrun humanity, and if the Shinki are removed, the Gods would fall to blight.
  • Show how the ecosystem works even when one or more of the pieces is missing. Don’t just leave it to chance, work it into your plot.
  • Make it a part of the characters. Don’t SAY the character is in this part of the ecosystem, SHOW it in their actions.

If you were to adapt this to another culture, say, norse gods, it could still work on the fundamental basis. Change ‘Shinki’ to Valkyries. Change gods to Aesir. Change Ayakashi to Giants, or Aelfs, or any other number of norse nasties. You could easily tell the story of Noragami with Loki instead of Yato. Just be careful, because that could be copyright infringement.

 

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