I’ve been keeping a “writing journal” since Nano 2017, when I picked up the idea from one of the pep-talks. It’s a fairly irregular affair, with entry titles often going along the lines of “Three Months Later” and “The Mother of All Breaks”, but I don’t sweat it. I use it when I need to talk to myself about writerly troubles and it makes for incredibly entertaining and occasionally educational reading after a few years of maturing in a cellar. It’s nice to look back at problems that I have managed to overcome. And identify those that I have not!
Reading through some old entries related to the interminable efforts to rewrite my Nano 2017 novel, Under Her Wing, I came across this paragraph that made me laugh out of frustration that has moved nowhere in the three and a half years since I wrote it. I’m going to redact the hell out of the specifics to avoid spoilers, but I think everyone who’s tried their hand at writing will find something to relate to here despite the vagueness:
I still don’t know the answers to a great many questions. Do I want [X] as a character? What might be the content for, and more importantly, the point of the planned chapter with [X] and [Y], that’s supposed to illustrate their relationship? Am I OK with portraying [A]’s relationship with [B] as a troubled one? How do I infuse the story with the love between them [if it’s mostly about their problems]? Are [A’s reactions to the problems] enough to depict it? Does [Game] really have a role in the story? If not, should it be cut out? Are only things with a role allowed? If not, what else should be cut out?
That’s all I’ve got. Sorry, but I don’t actually have answers. Just questions.
While excavating the drawers of my former desk, I came across a bunch of developments sketches for Thinker Traitor Soldier Spectre (TTSS), my Mass Effect novel from 2019. It’s mostly maps and scenography plans.
It’s been a while! I regretfully admit that I’ve all but forgotten about this website and my self-imposed obligation to post monthly. Ah, well. It’s happened before, and it will surely happen again. At least this time, I have a decent excuse.
I’ve been working on a story — an original piece — that’s been on my mind a long time now, but lacked a setting till recently. I know that sounds weird — how can you even conceptualize a story without a setting? Well, I totally can! I had some vague ideas but the vagueness was so vast that it was barely discernible from void. And then, pretty much out of nowhere, I knew how to fill that void; this in turn allowed me to start getting things from my head and onto the page.
The usual method is to look at the first 250 words and examine/edit that excerpt in detail. But today I’ll do something different. I want to talk about some of the material that I cut from Thinker Traitor Soldier Spectre, the Mass Effect fanfiction novel I finished last year, and explain why it never made it into the final version.
This is a very old version of chapter 1 of Thinker Traitor Soldier Spectre, the Mass Effect fanfiction novel I finished in 2019, posted here as part of An Exercise in Self-Critique 4. Compare it to the official final version here.
A bright morning in Har Triste on Palaven. He’s standing on the edge of a crater, ankle-deep in the rubble. Where the Subourus Plaza used to be. The buildings around still stand. At angles. Burnt and punctured, shattered windows and naked armature. He can’t remember which war he’s fighting in, but war it is. His planet is under attack, his people suffering. Yet as he looks up at two winding missile tails in the serene yellow sky, he only thinks, it’s beautiful.