Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Today's writing notes:

Working on: Revising "Worth Searching For" for FanFiction.net

This thing is a behemoth at about 92,000 words, the longest thing I've ever written for the Neopian Times. (The second longest is "Return to Lynwood" at 60,000 words, if you were curious.) I'm really curious as to how many chapters it's going to end up being, since I had to lump it together into 12 parts for the NT. Not sure how long it's going to take me to revise it, especially since I am still working on that kids' book, but I know I can get it done if I just whittle away at it when I can.

Let's play "count the homages"! :) The very beginning of this story is definitely a homage to Merry's and Pippin's fireworks escapade at Bilbo's birthday party. I slip in a lot of homages just because it amuses me.

Also, the reason this story starts off in Shenkuu is because when I wrote it, I'd just finished a wonderful college course on pre-modern East Asian history (up until 1900 or thereabouts), and we spent the bulk of our time studying China. It was the first time I'd really gotten to know Chinese history and I fell in love with it, so I decided to pay tribute to it by playing around in Shenkuu for a while. I think I was able to bring that Neopian world to life better because I now had a more thorough understanding of the history and culture behind Shenkuu's inspiration. And, of course, I was able to throw in a bunch of real-world historical references that history geeks like me could enjoy. :) I'll talk about some of them here!

I deliberately modeled the Shenkuuvian Imperial City after the old Japanese capital of Heian-kyō, which was itself modeled after the Tang Chinese capital of Chang'an. Reference within a reference! It's referenception! *cough* Anyway, I admit I did a bit of canonical fudging here, because the Imperial City is usually thought of as a collection of buildings on karst outcrops, connected by bridges (see: the on-site map of Shenkuu), but in all honesty I just don't think that's logistically feasible for a capital city... and I really, really wanted to write Shenkuu as resembling early-Middle-Ages East Asia and throw in a bunch of fun historical references.

So here's my rationale: maybe what we see on the site map isn't the heart of the city, but the outskirts, allowing the rest of the capital to have a more traditional city layout.The Imperial Palace is notably not pictured on the map, and it seems to be built on a large, flat space, so I think it's reasonable to assume that there may be more of the city clustered around it on that same plateau, Machu Picchu style. Anyway, Naleap Avenue refers to Heian-kyō's Suzaku Avenue and "okashi" (or, more accurately, "okashii") is Japanese for "tasty".

Also, so many prose tweaks. This story was written four years ago, so it's not as bad as, say, "Worth Fighting For", but I seemed to have disregarded the need for dialogue tags a lot.

Pharazon's character arc in this story was really fun to write. It's kind of funny, when I wrote him, I meant for him to be exasperating and an example of how to handle a situation completely the wrong way and why it doesn't work, but apparently some readers ended up sympathizing with and identifying with him. I hope there are also readers out there who identify with Hyren's grit, Terra's compassion, Blynn's positive attitude, and Isengrim's courage.

Everybody's fortunes in the restaurant actually are connected to the rest of the story. Pharazon's is the most obvious, but Blynn's, Hyren's, and Terra's all have to do with things they go through as well. Terra learns that her compassion can have a profound effect on the most unlikely of Neopets with far-reaching positive consequences; Hyren learns that everything he goes through makes him the strong Neopet he strives to be; Blynn's upbeat personality brings a breath of fresh air to a dire situation; and Pharazon steadfastly refuses to learn his lesson until it's very nearly too late. Of course, fortune cookies in real life don't really mean anything, but in Neopia, where magic is abundant, it's best to pay attention to such things. :)

I do feel bad pretty much killing Hyren's feels throughout this entire story... but honestly I think it's a good lesson to be learned, that sometimes our worst fears do happen, and when they do, we've got to be strong enough to hold on and keep going, and never give up hope. Sometimes, we may look back and realize that what we thought was so horrible was really a blessing in disguise. In this case, Hyren dreaded losing his family, but when he did, he ended up not only getting them back, but making a new ally out of an old enemy, and helping save Brightvale and probably all Neopia.

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