24 Feb 2017

The Soul Blade - Chapter 22

"Somewhere else not guaranteed."
"A ritual to put a man completely at your control."
"Lead, absinthe, and laudanum."
"I've just had too many ups and downs this past week."
The impromptu barbecue was enjoyed by all, even Gary, who arrived late in the afternoon.  Brenna caught Piper watching her and Krista at times, though the younger girl always turned away.  To let Grace spend time with her friends and to catch up on old times, Brenna and Krista took over the clean up.  As ten o'clock approached, Gary offered to let his daughters' guests stay the evening.

Before Brenna retired upstairs for the night, Grace pulled her aside.  "Okay, Bren, just what the hell did you do to Piper?" the younger Halliday sister asked once both were in the kitchen.

"Nothing, Grace."

"Yeah, right, Bren.  I saw her glancing at you and Krista all night."

"I didn't do a thing."

Grace parked in front of the kitchen door to prevent her sister from escaping.  "And what about Krista?"

"Neither of us did a thing to her, Grace."  Brenna sat down on a stool.  "Why?  Did she say anything?"

"No, but she looks all weirded out, Bren."  Grace approached her sister.  "Are you sure you didn't do anything to her?  What about when I had her ask you about the tongs?"

"She looked weirded out then, too."

Grace picked up an orange from the basket of fruit.  She tossed it in the air a few times, getting a feel for its heft.  "That's a really nice shirt.  I'm sure you can get citrus stains out of it with some effort."  She squeezed the orange.

19 Feb 2017

Unruly: Conversion to Audio

After listening to a number of fan audio works for Lost in Translation and working on a Star Trek audio play to see how the mechanics work, I decided to see if I could adapt Unruly to the format.  I started with A New Girl Chapter 1, seeing that it is the first chapter of the series and wound up adapting the entire arc.

The first thing I had to deal with was the narrator.  Audio books use one to read the story.  Audio plays are native to the medium, so having a narrator read the stage directions would break the feel.  But the nature of the school needs to get out there.  Elspeth Stone is the perfect character to set things up; she's the headmistress and the first person Laura deals with.  Laura's arrival had to change; instead of following her in from the road in the back seat of a car, I started in Ms Stone's office, cutting to the chase.

Introducing the rest of the cast got awkward.  Something that could be dealt with in a paragraph now has each girl speaking up when her name is mentioned.  The editing of the dialogue will have to make the scene flow smooth.  All the action has to be conveyed by sound, even minor details like walking.  The bit at the beginning where the car Laura came in gets destroyed by a flock of Jennifers, while easy to slip in with prose, now becomes a series of sound effects that can't overshadow the dialogue.

There are still details to work out, like music, but I do have a few ideas.  The main idea is something original, to avoid dealing with clearances.  However, I did run into a song by Kid Creole and the Coconuts, "I'm a Wonderful Thing, Baby" which could work for the closing music.  The closing credits are based on what I've heard in other audio plays; Starship Excelsior has each actor announce him/herself at the beginning.  I've moved the the actor list to the end, in case there are spoilers just by announcing who is in an episode.

After the break, the script for "Arrival".  This link to the original chapter should open in a new tab if you want to compare.  Enjoy!

17 Feb 2017

The Soul Blade - Chapter 21

"Interview with Unnamed Source One, San Diego, Sunday morning, at nine forty-five."
"One of the rituals bound a piece of the soul to the body so it could walk around."
"I want to see your cousin's email."
"You should have your offering before the end of Monday."

Brenna backed her lavender Savana back beside where her father's Dodge had been but currently wasn't, much to Krista's amusement.  "Nice job," Krista remarked.

"Grace told me to not park in front of the house."  Brenna shut down the van.  "Did you want to check out my pimped out van now or later?"

Krista craned her head to check out the back.  "Now's good.  It's not like the email is going to disappear on us."

Brenna crawled out of her seat and into the cargo area.  She spread her arms wide.  "This, as you can see, is the spacious living area."  She backed up a bit, then unlatched her bunk.  "And it converts into a one-bedroom with a flick of the fingers."

"Awesome, Bren."  Krista scrambled into the back.  "The ceiling's a little low, though."

16 Feb 2017

The Soul Blade Chapter 20 - Commentary

Tricia prepped for a road trip and Brenna made a connection in the clues, in The Soul Blade Chapter 20.

By the time this part of the story came up, I realized that the driving force of the plot was Tricia.  If Tricia went to ground, Brenna would have to take courses in investigation to keep going.  Fortunately, Tricia's scheme needs more victims.  By giving her a number of needed victims to get her ultimate plot completed, Tricia will keep the plot going until Brenna can make the connection needed.

Speaking of the connection, Brenna finally made a critical link.  Summer's notes from Chapter 19 and Brenna talking it out with Krista let her figure out the missing info she needed.  She now knows Tricia is collecting skeletons, and may have an idea why.  Now, a plan to stop the evil witch.

During NaNo, there's always doldrums somewhere around the second or third week as an idea reaches the end of its tether and there are still more words and story to go.  Getting Brenna on the right path was never planned when I started; I was hoping that I could get her to the needed scene somehow.  Sometimes, the doldrums result in filler material as I try to keep the momentum going while still trying to figure out what happens next.  I had Tricia here to help, but her part was something that came later when I realized I needed to show the villain at work.  Brenna's still pretending she's in a cozy mystery, spending time with friends.

The situation does improve, though there were a few dangling plot lines that didn't want to wrap up when the main plot started coming to a close.  I pulled one plot thread out without the story unravelling, but there are a few others, including the Brenna/Matt relationship which was going where I wanted Digital Magic to end up.

Tomorrow, Tricia begins her road trip, in The Soul Blade Chapter 21.
Also tomorrow, over at Psycho Drive-In, Starship Excelsior.
Saturday, over at The Seventh Sanctum, Star Trek: Outpost.

12 Feb 2017

Delving Into a New Style - the Commentary

Wasn't expecting to do this, but I have a few final thoughts on the process and what I wrote.

First, the script was written without much planning on where I was going.  I admit it, I'm a pantser.  But, something on this scale does need planning.  Adapting Unruly won't have the issues of planning; I'm converting existing storylines into a new format.  Mechanically, the biggest challenge is making sure that there's the correct background effects and having the action conveyed through dialogue and sounds.  Still, getting the experience of writing a script like this does help, even if I don't have the format correct.  The change in format required me to think about the scenes in a different way.

Second, there's background information missing from the script.  Most of it would be brought over by either off-hand remarks or by the actors themselves.  Lieutenant Lev is a Tellarite, but there's no mention of it in the script.  That'd be a director's note.  The ships' presence will only be from sound effects, so each one should have a different sound, reflecting their size, age, and location.  Likewise, the station will needs its own sounds, though some effects should be standard, like comm badge chirping.  Each set should be recognizable by its background effects; the Main Drag should sound different from Central Ops.

Third, I have started the second episode.  I managed to introduce a plot element that will recur.  That needs a bit more planning on my part; where did the element come from, where is it going, and how would the physics work, all questions to be answered.  How does one trace a moving spatial anomaly when it gets affected by the gravitational pull of a planet or star?  The math isn't pretty at this point.  At the same time, the characters should have the knowledge and expertise to run the math.

Finally, the things I mentioned to watch out for.  The Reboot character is Cecil, the maitre'd of the Taproom, with his name pronounced the same way.  The Nebula-class starship is the USS Mutara, named after the nebula in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.  Captain Sistonen of the USS Dauntless was named after Cory O'Kelly's character Urho Sistonen, from a local CBC series long gone.  Captain Belinda Nogura, Administrator Hans Baris, and the transport vessel Mudd share names with characters from Trek past.  Admiral Nogura gets mentioned in Star Trek: The Motion Picture while Administrator Baris is named after Nilz Baris of the episode "The Trouble With Tribbles".  The Mudd is named after Harcourt Fenton Mudd, from the epsiodes "Mudd's Women" and "I, Mudd".

I'm still playing with the idea of an audio play, be it stand alone or a series.  No casting call yet, but once the idea has finally worked itself out, who knows?

10 Feb 2017

The Soul Blade - Chapter 20

"It was a stupid idea!"
"Spells /might/ exist."
"What about the killer, though?"
"Summer, could this be a ritual instead?"
"Brenna, sweetie, wake up."  Her father's warm voice penetrated through her sleep.  She rolled on to her side.  "Brenna, you can't sleep here, sweetie."

"Don't wan' wake up," Brenna murmured.

"I know, dear, but you have your own bed upstairs.  You should really use it."

"But I'm comfy here."

A note of sternness crept into Gary's tone.  "Bren, come on.  Let's go upstairs."

With great reluctance, Brenna forced herself up.  She blinked the sleep out of her eyes.  "Daddy?"

9 Feb 2017

The Soul Blade Chapter 19 - Commentary

For a change of pace, I'm providing what got removed/rewritten in Chapters 16 and 19.  Originally, Brenna took a dislike to Amy on meeting her, a complete flip from when she defended her to Joni way back in Chapter 1.  For some reason, during the typing frenzy that is NaNoWriMo, I flipped Brenna's feelings around, with no reason for it.  It was jarring, as Greg Taylor, of Mathtans fame, pointed out on a beta read.  Analysis after the jump.

3 Feb 2017

The Soul Blade - Chapter 19

"We're just a happy family, aren't we, Gracie?"
"Okay, what do we do about this killer?"
"You're going to be okay."
"I love you, Gracie."
Brenna woke up with a horrid taste in her mouth.  She blinked several times, trying to get her eyes to focus properly.  Her head ached until she closed one eye.  It took her several minutes to realize that she wasn't in her bedroom.  With a groan, she sat up on her bunk.  She noticed a small stool holding a stack of her clothes, still folded, with a sheet of paper held down by her reading glasses.

Once the van stopped spinning for her, Brenna reached over and picked up the paper, sliding it out from under her reading glasses.  Grace had written the first past of the note large enough for Brenna to read without the glasses:  "Bren, aspirin, water, and breath mints under your clothes."  The rest of the letter was in small print Brenna couldn't make out.

Brenna folded the letter up and set it on the bunk.  She lifted up the clothes from the stool and found the promised painkillers.  She swallowed two tablets, washing them with the bottle of water Grace had been kind enough to leave her.  Making sure her curtains were all closed, Brenna then got changed out of yesterday's clothes and into something fresh.  She sat back down on her bunk, waiting for the headache to start fading.

Joni entered the van's cargo area from the front.  "Brenna, how are you feeling, honey?"

"Hi, Mom.  My head's okay, starting to get better."

"Good, because we need to talk."

2 Feb 2017

The Soul Blade Chapter 18 - Commentary

Brenna may need an intervention about her drinking.  Welcome to the commentary for The Soul Blade Chapter 18.

Brenna and Grace do love each other.  They're not above embarrassing each other, though.  That's why Brenna and her friends picked on Grace.  The gathering is also a reunion of high school friends.  Krista, as she mentions, is working in Needles for a news outlet.  She's from the area, so she gets to do the digging.  Krista also gets a nice scoop; she knows the one victim Tricia couldn't kill.  Brenna gets a bit of a morale boost, too.

Grace seldom drives Brenna's van.  She has her own car, which allows her to get places with more than one friend.  The van is also bigger than what she's used to.  I've had the experience of being a passenger in a car being driven by someone more used to a bigger vehicle.  Someone used to a van will continue to use that experience, and van's have a far shorter nose and longer braking distance than most cars.  Likewise, someone used to a smaller car, like a VW Beetle, old or new, will be used to having a lower view and a longer nose, giving more space to the cars in front.  Grace is taking into account the differences, but she's also driving slower than she should.

The time of writing does affect the details.  NaNo 2009 was a time of economic upheaval, following Crash 2.0 and oil prices going insane.  While today's gas prices are still high, they're not as bad as 2009, where, locally, $1.40/litre was a regular thing.  Now, the price varies from $0.90 to $1.15 per litre, depending on demand and location in the city.*  It's an artifact, but gas prices will always be a reason for people to complain, so it doesn't quite age as much.

Once again, I'm in the action-reaction cycle.  Chapter 17 placed Brenna into danger, Chapter 18 lets her process what happened.  I am working on breaking that cycle, more action, less reaction, at least until the reader needs the breather, not the writer.  By the Numbers is far better about not letting the characters sit on their laurels.  I do treat NaNoWriMo as a learning experience, and I'm learning what my weaknesses are so I can correct them.

Tomorrow, Brenna gets a break in the investigation and an eyeful, in The Soul Blade Chapter 19.
Also tomorrow, over at Psycho Drive-In, Mad Max: Fury Road.
Saturday, over at The Seventh Sanctum, fan adaptations.

* There is a price difference of five to ten cents per litre between the east end and west end of Ottawa.  There doesn't appear to be a reason, either, except that in most cities, the west end is the pricier part of town.  Ottawa isn't most cities, with the priciest areas in the east - Rockcliffe and Sandy Hill.

1 Feb 2017

Delving Into a New Style

Over the past few weeks, I've been listening to fan-made Star Trek audio plays, specifically Starship Excelsior and Star Trek: Outpost.  I will right now recommend Starship Excelsior's episode, "Tomorrow's Excelsior", the series' celebration of Star Trek's 50th anniversary.  Listening to the episodes had me wondering if I could write a script.  I've been toying with the idea for some time; my writing tends to be dialogue heavy as it is, so an audio play is the next step.

I wound up spending a few days writing an episode and a bit of a possible Trek series.  While I should do something original, using an existing setting allows me to bypass most of the world building to get to the mechanics of writing.  The result, a beginning of understanding and an idea of what I need to find out.  I do need to figure out how to estimate running time of a script.  But that's just the first bit.  A script is just the start of an audio play.  There's also casting, editing, directing, scoring, and engineering.  I know I don't know how to edit, nor do I have software to create an audio file that sounds half-decent.  But, the audio plays I've been listening to have been team efforts.

With the script, I indulged myself a few times.  There are obscure references, character ideas for RPGs that were never played, and some general fumbling about.  And lots of ship names, which gets interesting when trying to keep things moving.  So, a few things to keep an eye out for - a character named after one from Reboot, a Nebula-class starship with what I hope is an obvious name once pointed out, an obscure reference to a character created by Cory O'Kelly, and names from Star Trek past including a few that were originally unintentional.  The next part, currently unfinished, let me add a pair of characters named from minor ones in the original Battlestar Galactica.  Like I said, I indulged myself.  The script follows after the break, in a raw format.  No infringement on trademarks owned by Paramount or CBS is intended and this is not a commercial work.