Stopping to Ask for Directions

It’s becoming clear that I’m using the story, characters, and relationship dynamics in Jackal as a way to work things out in my personal life. I’ve gotten too close to this project, which is preventing me from getting any farther. I don’t wish to file Jackal away in my ever-growing story file. At the same time, I’m learning about works that deal with a similar premise of seeing the dead or interacting with the dead (I recently started watching Dead Like Me, which is an excellent show thus far). Sure, my story is different but I don’t want to wear out a premise that already has quite a bit of treatment lately in recent print, TV and movies because heaven knows, that if I wished to do so, I’d begin crafting a story about vampires. If I’m going to carry on with Jackal, it better be able to offer something different.

I’m considering utilizing the aid of a plot generator, much as Star has previously mentioned using (Star, if you’re reading this, do you still have that link handy? I muddled around your archives but couldn’t find it). It’s a rather backwards way to do things (ideally, you use a plot generator FIRST) and I don’t know if I’ll be able to let certain plot specifics go in order to accommodate new ones. On the other hand, using such a tool may help give me some direction. Even if it only acts as a spring board, it will be well worth trying.

Unfortunately, writing will have to wait for the moment, as I focus on moving the Starrynight website off of a CMS.

Details, Details

Found this rotting in my Drafts folder:

A self-sequestered night at Owen Valley Flooring while Russell worked at the drive-in a few months ago proved to be productive. I did some more exploring of Ramona’s character. I’m good about getting character traits but not always good about translating those into physical choices. Car or public transit? If a car, is this car fun? Fuel efficient? Merely operational? Sometimes, details help paint a better picture of the character. If I tell you that she loves funky hats, you may already have an idea of who she is or even what she looks like. Incidentally, Ramona doesn’t like hats at all and she rarely bothers with accessories, much to her best friend’s chagrin. Sketching out such details helped me discover who Ramona is. She’s not fussy. She prefers to keep things simple. She’s a little lazy. She’s unhappy because she’s static. She isn’t growing as a person and her friends aren’t helping her in this matter.

It was a little bizarre figuring out when she was born and what kind of culture she grew up in. She would have been roughly 5 or 6 when Pinky and the Brain first aired. She is of generation that always had cell phones (and her mom insisted that she have one when she was quite young, even though Ramona didn’t use it much until later in high school). I also found out more about her family dynamic and how this might affect relationships in the future.

Note to self: don’t ignore the details.

How to Break a Heart

I realized it as I talked out the relationship between characters with Tim yesterday: Ramona has to hurt Ciarán. Badly. That will not be fun to write. Not sure of the when or how yet. Ro just doesn’t have the life experience or maturity that Ciarán has, especially in the romantic relationship department.

I’m trying to ignore the love interest for the moment and focus on what Ro will be going through physically and psychologically. Will Ro be willing to entertain a relationship when she is spending so much of her energy focusing on not turning into a giant black jackal and eating* half the town? She isolates herself to protect those around her from the monster that she feels she is.

Also, Ro has to relearn her body. She looks taller (she’s already about 5’9) when in fact she has grown more wiry, even though she’s eating like crazy. Her senses are altered, her hormones and cycle get out of normal sync. She’s restless and she is often disoriented by sudden, unpredictable flashes of the veil. Romance isn’t the first thing on her mind and Ciarán is fully aware of this and gives her space- but Eamon may not…

Still working on really reasoning out the practicals of being a human/jackal/quasi-mythical creature. Not sure about a lot of the laws of this universe yet.

*Ro’s imagination gets away with her- Jackals don’t eat people!


Lately, the only chatter on this blog has been housekeeping-related or private (only because those posts were more very specific notes-to-self and incoherent). So I thought I’d update.

I haven’t done any writing although I did some more character sketching over the holiday break (although sadly, I did this on paper so I will have to get that onto the wiki at some point). I fleshed out Ciarán’s background and pondered over relationships some more. I think it will be a challenge getting Ramona’s family dynamic just right, especially if I decide to go with the ‘stolen child’ plot line, à la Irish (and other cultures’) tales of children being spirited away.

I’ve also found that the tone is evolving. At first, there was a strictly fantasy/adventure feel, then horror, and, most recently, a fairytale-like quality. This isn’t necessarily a problem, especially since practically nothing has been written yet. Up until now tone wasn’t something I was even thinking about.

In an attempt to find some inspiration, I’ve been referring to books from Russell’s library as well as IU library to do some research on ancient Egyptian ideas about the afterlife. I have lots of flagged chapters to skim through when I have a free moment.

No NaNo

I decided not to tackle NaNoWriMo. I was secretly considering participating this year but, with most of my evenings in the month of October being eaten up by Rocky Horror Show, I didn’t have time to prepare an outline for Jackal. I’ve made the mistake before of writing without an outline. Some people may work fine without one but not me! Also, Russell and I recently decided that we will be vacationing at the end of the month, which would eat up 10 days- a quarter of the time allotted to reach 50K words.  Meh, maybe next year.

Good luck and happy writing to those who are participating!