Another Level!!!

I rode a chocobo.

As usual, this doesn’t feel obviously writing-related. But it is. It’s an extension of Fantastic Inspiration and Where to Find it! that I wrote back in December.  

For those of you who don’t know, a chocobo is a large bird from Final Fantasy, and characters can ride one at specific points in the games. But it has meaning beyond a simple video game quirk. I can play the chocobo tune on my flute, and as a duet to boot. It’s not great, but it’s satisfactory to me. And last night, I got to ride a digital chocobo with the quirky music playing in the background.  

It’s also freaking fun to ride about on an imaginary giant bird. How cool is that? It took my mind off my daily problems and transported me to another world. This is exactly how I want my readers to feel when in my writing.

Mechanical Beast is one such example. But I have various moments throughout my work with moments like these. One character gets to drive a Jaguar, another flies a dragon for the first time in nine years, and others have moments where they just lose themselves in something fun. I have two characters from separate WIPs who play the violin and have fun doing it. I hope readers feel that sense of joy and elevation in mood in these moments.

This made me happy and inspired and just full of feelgoods thanks to a writing buddy who encouraged me to play, not that I needed much. 🤦‍♂️

Here’s a happy tune from a happy little chocobo. No, it’s not mine. That needs more work before I share with the big wide world. So here’s one I found on YouTube plus a fun walkthrough of training a chocobo.

So next time you lose yourself in a book, a game, or music, remember that feeling and use it. It’s what makes us all fantasists in a way. We can turn reality into fantasy. Here’s a little secret, Mechanical Beast was about me test-driving a car. But in my imagination, I was flying.

Random Thought about Cats and Dogs!

Animals, Fantasy, Composing, Books, Book Stack, Cat
Image by Blende 12 at Pixabay

Have you ever noticed how different the various breeds of dogs are compared to the various breeds of cats? 

What does this have to do with writing, you ask? 

Many pets, especially felines and canines, are in our everyday lives. So it makes sense they’d be in books too. But can you write any animal or creature into your novel? Whether real, mythological or completely invented by your own mind, animals need to exist to give more dimensions to a story or world. It could be the pet of a key character, a random interaction, or part of the story itself. 

Meet Tigerlily, my 5-year-old kitty.
She likes to join my online classes.
She likes to sit on my mouse pad and meow when I try to move my mouse.

Lily inspired a pet cat that features in one of my novel series. But I have many animals and creatures, both wild and domesticated, who show up in my novels on realistic worlds as well as the fantastical ones. It helps with realism to make sure you understand the animals you’re writing about. I’ve had dogs and cats all my life, so I know their behaviour well. However, my feline and canine are not the domesticated kinds, so I did a little research on the fundamental differences between domesticated animals, and wild ones. 

I have two characters who can shapeshift who display common traits of their respective animals. Feline and canine being the more dominant. It got me questioning what traits they should have. For example, some species of big cats don’t have the ability to purr like domesticated cats. Wolves and domestic dogs are highly family orientated, but wolves are significantly less accepting of newcomers and will stay away from humans unless they feel threatened. Most dogs will let anyone pet them or take them for a walk. At least most of the dogs I know will. 

From lions, tigers, and forest cats to tabbies, short hairs, and Persians, all these cats have amazingly common traits, both physical and behavioural. Canines, however, vary massively, especially in physical traits. Jack Russels, collies, chihuahuas, and Great Danes, to coyotes, foxes, and wolves, dogs are incredibly different in instincts, builds, and general behaviour.

Here’s a couple of interesting mini-documentaries I found that confirm my point on cats and dogs. 

Found this after writng this post and couldn’t help but add it in here.

Animals also feature in mythology and folklore. As far back as ancient Egypt, cats have interacted with humans. They even worshipped them as guardians on the Underworld and protectors. Foxes feature in many folklore as cunning tricksters or shapeshifters. 

Of course, you have a multitude of purely mythological creatures who pop up in fantasy fiction all the time. Unicorns, gryphons, sirens, phoenixes, and my favourite, dragons. There are many more creatures that would take me all day to detail and talk about. These animals are an incredibly important part of worldbuilding for fantasy realms. They can also be part of the story in holding magic or guarding treasure or protecting the hero or villain from harm. Each one has key elements to consider when incorporating them into your literature.

Pisces OC - 12 Zodiac Ladies
Alicanto [Mythological Creatures]

Check out Deviantart for more…

Don’t forget a furry, scaly, feathery, leathery, animal friends. They might just prove useful to the plot as well as enriching the reading experience.

Spring Clean your Writing!

It’s that time of year when many of us clear out things we haven’t used for a while and spruce up the place. Why not do the same with your writing? 

The recent coronavirus outbreak has forced many of us into quarantine. Some are holding up better than others depending on personal circumstances, but you’re probably tired of all the negativity. So I’m going to offer some positivity. 

With so much more time and nowhere to go, it’s great for some writers to say “I’m going to use this time to write.” But creativity isn’t an on-demand thing. So for those of you struggling with writing in these difficult times, why not organise it instead? 

I’ve been using Scrivener for about a year now thanks to a recommendation. I got straight to updating detailed outlines, inserting links for research, compiling character sheets as well as uploading images and music links for inspiration. I organised my old drafts and copied them in so I can see them all in one place while copying the Word documents into an archive folder.

I logged the names and character traits changes along with listing plot and sub-plot variations for continuity referencing. Rather than sifting through multiple folders and documents to combine all these, they’re now nicely organised in one document.

If you’re reluctant to spend money on Scrivener, which includes updates in the software, you can use OneNotes. You’ll have to spend a little more time on setting up the file, but you can easily simulate the organisational system in Scrivener. 

If you’re concerned about syncing Scrivener, you can save it to a cloud folder just like all your other files. There is also a way to access the individual notes though Gdrive on your Android phone. Just open the pages as txt files and save with your updated notes. It might take a few tries to work out which file you need to open as they’re not named so clearly, but you can add notes and ideas on the go. 

This also works for collections of short stories or keeping themes of flash fiction together along with tables for tracking submissions to publications. 

I also recommend creating a section for feedback or critiques if you’ve shared your work with others. It makes accessing that much easier than opening emails or checking the various critique websites. Also, any advice you find that’s useful to a particular issue you were having can also go in there. 

Towns, cities, jobs, pets, locations and backstories all count to make up your fiction whether real or invented. For sci-fi/fantasy writers, include your worldbuilding notes and inspirational images. For real-world writers, you can describe any organisations or businesses involved if they have a complex part in the plot. Just about anything you open on your computer that relates to your writing should go in there. 

This can also fill a ton of time and be fun if you’re that way inclined. Compiling information, thoughts, and inspiration is my idea of fun. It also prompts me to lookup more things I might find useful in the writing process from advice to fun images. 

So spring clean your writing and make the most of the quarantine if you’re on lockdown like I am.

Gifts in the Pages!

As a writer, I leave many pieces of myself in my work. It’s what connects me to my writing as an expression of myself rather than writing to a formula. As a reader, I like to find pieces of authors in books. It makes it far more personal if I believe writers leave these as little gifts for others. There’s no better gift than giving yourself. 

It’s what us artists do. We throw ourselves into our work and give it to the world to experience pieces of our creativity and imagination and emotions. Visual art, literature, music are all ways of expressing this. One is no less expressive than the other to the right audience. But all move us one way or the other.

My bookshelf probably says more about me than my clothes do. Modern and classic books. New and old from my childhood. Even educational books from when I was studying. These pages all sparked knowledge and imagination. Each one says something about me or left something with me as I read it. They are literary gifts to be cherished and looked after unless the cat decides to scratch the cover. Meh, nothing I couldn’t stick back, and luckily not my more cherished books. 

I’m still discovering my musical emotions and pouring them into the amazing pieces that inspire me to play my own renditions. 

The above videos incorporate many amazing art forms like music, animation, and a fantastic story behind the images. It’s one of my many inspirations that combine my favourite things. 

Dancing is one of the most physical forms of expression. You use every muscle to convey any emotion you want, and when you dance to the right music, there’s no limit to what you can express.

I could go on all day about the many gifts I receive every time I read a book, listen to my favourite music, and watch a beautiful dance. And I want to give gifts through my own writing and music. My point is that the gifts in art stay with us, immortalizing ideas and imagination for others now and in the future. That’s a big gift to give to the world.  

What gifts will you give?