One of those things that you've wished for since the dawn of
A Beautiful People post!
*insert some stereotypical cricket chirping here*
Oh, c'mon! You know you have. Sadly, I've barely talked about any of my stories here, or even writing in general. Sure, it's one of my most-used labels, but I feel like I've barely scratched the surface of what I could post on the subject. That's why I have chosen today to share with you more juicy details on my Rooglewood contest entry, titled Digital Pulse. (Some credit goes to Tracey for helping me come up with that title.)
Though, there is a second reason why I decided to do this now, and it's not a good one. I've been feeling stumped with this story. Whereas I had loads of inspiration for Of Beauties and Beasts and even more for Darkened Slumber, Digital Pulse has been severely lacking ideas. Actually, let me correct myself. It's not necessarily a lack of ideas; it's more of a difficulty to get into the flow of the story. I can count on one hand how many times I've written, and what I have penned just feels so rough.
Now, I know you need to give yourself permission to have a cruddy first draft, but I still hate the feeling. At this point, it's not something I'd even want to turn in, because--in my mind--it looks like I'm still a novice writer. Which is probably true, but whatever. And time is running out. I have to attack this story with all the speed and fury I can muster if I even hope to send it in.
I'm getting sidetracked. For those of you who don't know what Beautiful People is, it's a blog series created by Cait from Paper Fury and Sky from Further Up and Further In where you get to share your stories and characters with other people. It's actually a great way for people to brainstorm and encourage one another, so kudos to them for starting it in the first place! Normally, you answer questions about a character of yours, but around this time of year, you get to talk about whatever project you're working on.
This is, like I said, my first entry in the post series, or whatever you wanna call it. I'ma just gonna copy Tracey's idea by answering the questions from last month as well as this month, just for hoots (and inspiration). So it's like I'm playing Twenty Questions, except not!
. . . I'll just stop the intro right about now.
What inspired the idea for your novel, and how long have you had the idea?
If you know me, you know that music--soundtrack music in particular--often inspires my story before I've even written the thing. Digital Pulse was no different. "Blackout" by Two Steps From Hell gave me an image of an epic battle between a superhero and a cyborg, and things just kind of took off from there. You may think that's totally random or weird, but that's how my brain works. I've had the idea for a while; I'm going to say it's been floating around in my brain at least a year, maybe two. Crazy, right? It shouldn't be hard for me to write this thing, but it is somehow. It doesn't make sense.
Describe what your novel is about!
You may recall I briefly shared a description of it back when I posted about my juggle of all my ongoing stories. Allow me to share with you a more detailed synopsis.
People have certain ideas about what the future and superheroes look like. But the future is bleak and unkind to most, and Ryder would not call himself a hero. He has no special powers, only the gear that is available to him in the world's capital of technology. Most days, he just feels like a garbage collector, hunting down rogue A.I. constantly.
The one person he can truly relate to is an android named Ceinwen, who is more human than the others. They are both products of a lab, and so their understanding of one another goes deep. Ryder knows if he lost his only true friend, he'd lose everything good in his life.
Then everything goes wrong. Ryder is called to deal with more rotten A.I., but what he discovers is a gang of crafty cyborgs and androids, led by a man who calls himself a figure of the past. And during the ensuing fight, Ceinwen is kidnapped. Ryder will stop at nothing to find her and get her back, but there's just one major problem.
He has what is called the bjorn strain, a disease that cripples him physically and emotionally. If he cannot bring it under control somehow, either it or his enemy will surely be the death of him.
Well, I may rambled a bit there, but that's basically it! Having this all here helps me to remember all the cool stuff I have planned for Digital Pulse. I really do think this post is going to help me get my fire back.
What is your book's aesthetic? Use words or photos or whatever you like!
I actually just started a Pinterest account so I could find pictures to use for this. Nothing fits perfectly, or at least how I'm envisioning things in my mind. But I'm finding better pictures than I would on Google Images. So here's just a few to give you an idea of what I'm going for.
Introduce us to each of your characters!
Ryder (the prince): A tough-as-nails, no-nonsense hero armed with gear from his home, Titanium Research Facilities. He is the first in their line of enhanced human warriors. He suffers under the horror of the bjorn strain, a side effect of the experiments performed on him. A bitter past lies underneath the surface, but he hides it away under his uncaring veneer.
Ceinwen (Snow White): An android created with a perfect body and powered by a unique source. She is more human than others, but speaks very matter-of-factly. She is Ryder's only friend and has loved him since she first saw him. She has to put up with many tests and experiments at Titanium.
Jasper (the huntsman): The leader of a gang of cyborgs and androids known as the Metal-Shadow Gang. He hails from a historical time period, and he serves the Master with the utmost loyalty. A brute before, his strength has only increased, and he is more machine than he is man. Time will tell just what he wants with Ceinwen, but by then, it might be too late.
Selah (the mirror): A sentient computer program with an added sense of humor. She is like a much more sophisticated version of Siri or Cortana. Under Ryder's use, it is her duty to help him locate Ceinwen as fast as possible.
Doctor Neville: The head of the seven scientists who created Ceinwen. He's one of the kindest facility members to both Ryder and Ceinwen, but is forced to perform tests everyday on the latter.
Director Colby: The leader of Titanium, who takes a high interest in Ryder, though not in a good way. He wants to continue developing enhanced warriors and sell them to other countries. He sees Ryder as a weak specimen for suffering under the bjorn strain.
It's not a huge cast of characters, but you can't afford one in a story with a 20,000 word limit. And also, thanks to this post, Selah is now an official character! That alone makes doing Beautiful Books worthwhile.
How do you prepare to write? (Outline, research, stocking up on chocolate, howling, etc.?)
I like going for walks and listening to music as a pre-writing ritual. It helps me clear my mind of other things, then focus solely on the story and all my ideas I have for it so far. Some of my best ideas come from my walks. After that? Well, I must reuse an old meme, because Shia LeBeouf sums it up well:
What are you most looking forward to about this novel?
I'd have to say simply writing Ryder and Ceinwen. They are so different from my other couples. Takeshi was an honor-bound samurai prince, and Emiko a sweet princess. Byron was a pirate scarred by the past; Bella was a headstrong young lady who broke down his walls. While Ryder could be most compared to Byron, this story isn't about a beast transformed by love. It's about a hardened man struggling with his demons and wanting to save the one good thing in his life. Ceinwen is A.I. for crying out loud! That alone makes her fun to write. And the fact that she's more human also makes her more relatable as a character.
I'm also looking forward to tying in this story with my previous two. If anyone's read Of Beauties and Beasts, they'll probably have recognized some references already. (You guys don't know how excited I am to extend all these retellings into a seven-book series. It's gonna be epic!)
List 3 things about your novel's setting.
1. I felt like not many stories take place in Canada, so I decided that the location would be Prince Edward Island, or PEI for short. #LifeLessonsForYouNon-Canadians
2. I also felt that if a story takes place in Canada, it's not necessarily an important place or anything. Therefore, PEI became the world's leading center for new technology.
3. While I wanted Digital Pulse to take place in the future, I didn't want to make it so extravagant that it seemed impossible. Thus, the year is 2107, but technology for most people is limited to autonomous cars. The government keeps the best A.I. and leaves the rest for various jobs. These units are much susceptible to going rogue, as they are of a poorer quality.
What's your character's goal and who (or what) stands in the way?
Ryder's main goal is to rescue Ceinwen. That much is obvious. But many things stand in his way. He has to actually hunt her down, for one thing, which is a big enough problem. There's also the minor issue of the Metal-Shadow Gang, who have some dastardly scheme up their metaphorical sleeves. And if that's not enough, he has to deal with the bjorn strain. It gives him a "high," if you will, causing him to go into berserker mode. But the hangover comes, and it leaves him unable to move and heightens emotional pain. So yeah, there are a lot of obstacles.
How does your protagonist change by the end of the book?
To be honest, this part isn't totally clear in my mind at this point. That may sound crazy, but it's true nevertheless. What I do know is that I don't want Ryder to become a softie by the end. He's still going to be no-nonsense most of the time. But I think he'll come to the realization that he has to accept the horrid things that happened to him in order to move on, hoping that those things will end in some kind of good somewhere along the line. Does that make sense? I think whatever transformation he goes through will feel more organic when I just write the story.
What are your book's themes? How do you want readers to feel when the story is over?
No life is without tragedy. We are all the same in that way. What makes some people different is that they come to terms with those hardships. They let themselves become refined and grow stronger in the storms, and they cling to the belief that all things will work together for good in the end. They may not see it in the present, but they can look back one day and know that they did not believe in vain.
So when the last chapter is finished, I want readers to be challenged to look at their own lives and recognize that maybe they've let past adversities get the best of them. They've become crippled to the emotional, or maybe even physical, pain and scars those tragedies left. I sincerely hope they can find a way to move on and not be held back by bitterness or resentment.
Overall, how is your mental state, and how is your novel going?
You know, before I started writing this post, I was just really not feeling Digital Pulse. But I think I'm getting my fire back. It had better be a pretty big fire, though, because my story is sitting at 1,181 words. Yeah, it's pretty sad. I've only got a little over a month to finish it, so here's to hoping! *raises a glass of chocolate milk*
What's your first sentence (or paragraph)?
I'm copying Tracey again and doing the first three paragraphs.
The world was cold and dark.
That was her initial perception. Light began to flood her corneas, and she sensed the temperature rising to twenty-three degrees Celsius. There were voices--four male and three female, all within a proximity of five and a half yards. What felt like a hanging frame kept her stiff, feet flat on the smooth floor.
It is though I have just been born. It was a peculiar thought, since newborns tended to not recognize the moment their life began.
That's a little glimpse into Ceinwen's POV. Like I said, she's going to be fun to write.
Who's your current favorite character in your novel?
I can't just pick one! My four major characters--Ryder, Ceinwen, Jasper, and Selah--are all great because they're all so very different from each other, as well as many other characters I've written. That's my answer, and I'm sticking with it.
What do you love about your novel so far?
With the Rooglewood contests, I've always tried to use different genres, or even genre combinations, that I have never done before. So I love that this story is a sci-fi superhero mystery tale. I also love my unique main characters, and how I'm going to tie my fairy tale retellings together. So . . . I guess pretty much everything?
Have you made any hilarious typos or other mistakes?
Not that I'm aware of. If I do, you'll be the first to know. (No promises, though, so don't hold your breath.)
What is your favorite to write: beginning, middle, or end--and why?
I'd probably have to say the end. Tying everything together is just something I enjoy doing. Then there's the detail about having the final battle, which is always fun because you can go big and extravagant . . . if it fits the story, anyway. But one of my top reasons for liking the end the best is because that's usually where things get the most emotional. And I'm one of those cruel authors who likes to give his readers emotional pain. Anyone who's read my past two entries would most likely agree.
What are your writing habits? Is there a specific snack you eat? Do you listen to music? What time of day do you write best? Feel free to show us a picture of your writing space!
Well, this question is a mouthful and a half. Lemme see . . . I don't really eat snacks when writing. If I need brain food, I'll grab a candy, but that's it.
And of course I listen to music! I usually go for either a new album that I want to listen to in one sitting (if at all possible), or something that fits the mood of the story. Last time I wrote, I looked up a YouTube playlist of sci-fi battle music. But I've also found that listening to Antti Martikainen's album Synthesia is a really good choice.
I usually just write whenever, but I tend to write later in the day, especially in the evening. As for my writing space, it's not really anything to write home about. So I won't bother showing it.
How private are you about your novel while you're writing? Do you need a cheer squad or do you work alone (like, ahem, Batman)?
I need to work better at being like Batman, because you can't always rely on other people to give you a boost, if you know what I mean. I definitely love having a cheer squad to encourage. That's probably due to me doing the majority of my writing on the former LEGO Message Boards, where I often had users complimenting me. That, and words are one of my top two love languages, so . . . *shrugs*
What keeps you writing even when it's hard?
Multiple things, actually: a playlist for the story, other people encouraging me, the thought of someone being able to read and enjoy my story, long walks with just me, my music, and God . . . that sort of thing.
What are your top 3 pieces of writing advice?
Oh boy, that's a tough question. I don't know if I can say that these are my top three tips, but they're three tips nonetheless.
1. Give your characters conflicting values. If you have a guy who says, "My family is everything to me," but also says, "Power is everything to me," you're going to get some serious conflicts. He'll have to choose between the two at least once, and it won't be an easy decision. Doing this creates a lot of suspense of the readers, because they don't know which value will win out in the end. *suddenly wonders if any of my characters in this story have conflicting values*
2. Try your hand at writing different kinds of characters. It's what I have strived to in each of my stories. Kayne in The Tournament of Convicts is an over-exaggerated version of me that I relate to very well. Brixton in Maelstrom is more of an opposite of me, yet I still really like him. Verak from a co-authored project I'm working on called The Darkest Dawn is a good brother who gets really dark, so in some aspects, I relate to him and would fear being in his position. I could go on, but what I'm saying is never write just one type of character. Readers will get bored of that.
3. Don't be afraid to kill off your characters. I do that all the time, and I think it's one of the most effective methods to give your reader an emotional experience--so long as you do it right. There are things that need to be avoided when it comes to character deaths, but I won't go into it now. (I eventually want to do a post just about this topic.) Suffice it to say that you need to
And that is finally it! No more questions to answer. Before I close off this post, I just want to give a big thanks to Cait and Sky for creating Beautiful Books. I came into this kinda despising my story, and came out wanting to write like a hardcore maniac . . . or something. Basically, you two have helped put the fire back in my writing spirit, and I cannot thank you enough.
Are any of you guys entering (or have entered) this last Rooglewood contest? If you're doing NaNo, how's that coming for ya? Have you participated in Beautiful Books? Should you need a second wind, you have to give it a whirl! I'm definitely doing this more often.