Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Today's writing notes

So guess what--I am updating "Draik Expectations" and putting it on FFN. :) Thinking about the story more, even though it's pretty weak technically, I feel that it does represent a big turning point in my approach to writing for the Neopian Times. Unlike its predecessor "The Zafara Who Would Be Mayor", "Draik Expectations" actually involves lessons learned and characters developed. It was during this story that I think I began to move away from seeing my NT fiction as off-the-cuff tales of hilarious hijinks, and more as tales of my Neopets having ambitions and acting on them, going through experiences that change them, and of the family dynamic acting as something besides comic fodder--this is a family that goes through both challenges and wacky randomness together.

Unfortunately for the story, this kinda happened as I was halfway through writing it, so as it reads in the Neopian Times it's very disjointed in tone, starting off as comedic and random and ending on a rather somber note, as both Pharazon and Celice learn important things about the nature of friendship.

I think the main turning point was that I realized that while comedy-hijinks-style writing sounds good on paper, in practice it tends to be unsustainable if that's all you ever write. While it's good to be funny, and there's a time and a place for funny (as I think I have established), if all you ever write about characters is situational comedy, they don't really develop much depth. Stories become much too formulaic if it's just the same "she does random things and he gets exasperated and Pharazon is there because I don't want to leave him out I guess" every time. My writing process seems to go a lot better if I think in terms of "what do I want my characters to get out of what they go through" rather than "random fun with [insert topic here]!".

Plus, I think in writing "The Zafara Who Would Be Mayor" I realized that I did not have a good handle at all on Pharazon's character. Blynn and Hyren had really well-established characters, but I'd never put much thought into Pharazon. (In the original version of "Draik Expectations" he reads a lot differently than how I write him now, simply because I hadn't figured out his personality yet, so in this revision I'm doing some rewrites to make him read more like his usual self.) So I wanted to write a story where he was the main character, and see if I could figure out more about him from there. Comedy does not really lend itself well to in-depth character development--I realized I needed to have him go through a conflict and learn something from it.

In this revision I'm also making that conflict clearer. In the original, Celice just embarrasses Pharazon by using him as a demonstration subject for her presentation on faerie Draiks, but in the revision she outright lies to him about helping him get into Brightvale University, tricking him into attending a presentation where he's looked upon with disdain by Brightvale's snobbish intellectuals. I felt that was a clearer source of conflict than in the original, where motivations are kind of muddled because I didn't quite know what I was doing.

Also, while most of the edits either have to do with tightening the plot or fixing old prose, I couldn't help but throw a few little extra things in there. For example, it's now established that faerie-colored pets bleed magic. Poor Pharazon--he's hopelessly sparkly.

Another major edit is a few mentions of Terra where the original had no mention of her at all, as though the three siblings were ownerless. The reason I did this in my first two post-hiatus stories is because I didn't want to be seen as an author who used her Neopian Times writing as thinly-veiled self-aggrandizement, with a few Neopets as minor characters so it would get published. By "Worth Fighting For", though, I'd ditched that idea--Terra is an integral part of her own Neopian family, and her relationship with her Neopets is just as important as their relationship with each other.

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