Count the Ways to Count the Story

With NaNo right around the corner–less than two weeks to go now–one of the key points that comes up again and again is, “How do I track my word count?”  It’s an important thing with NaNo, because you gotta run that 1,667 words a day count every day, or you’ll fall behind quickly.  The reality it, however, that when you write you usually have a need to know about how much you’re writing every day, and how big your story is becoming–or how many more words you need to write to turn a novelette into a novella.

Keeping track of your word count in easy in Scrivener, and there is a great deal of flexibility when it come to knowing the counts of scenes, chapters, parts, and even the whole novel. I do that to track my current novel, and I’ve used it with all my other works.

Let’s take a look, shall we?

The easiest way to keep track of your progress come from using your Project Targets.  This is done from the menu, using Project>Project Target, or by selecting Ctrl-,.  I show these all the time on my screen shots, and here is my current view.

I know, it feels like I'm bragging.

I know, it feels like I’m bragging.

Project Targets allow you to set the size of your story–the Manuscript Target–and how much you want to write while Scrivener is running–the Session Target.  Something to keep in mind here:  a session is the time that Scrivener is up and running.  If you bring the program up, type in 800 words, then close it and bring it up again later, the session bar resets:  it doesn’t track what you type in a day.

You can see that the pop-up window allows you to define your targets for both the full manuscript and how much you want to write.  Now, there is a bit of a cheat with the Manuscript Target:  notice the check box, “Documents Included in Compile Only”?  Yeah, that’s an important item.

Let’s first look at this screen, which is of one of my chapters in the recently concluded Part Seven:

I don't miss you, you monster.

I don’t miss you, you monster.

Over on the right you’ll see the column, “Include in Compile.”  Compile is the function that Scrivener uses to take all the stuff I have on the screen in front of me and turns it into a document of your choosing.  Such as–

I take all of Part Seven--

I take all of Part Seven–

Press the “Compile” button . . .

To 149 pages of awesome.

And turn it into 149 pages of awesome.

Whatever you have ticked off as “Include in Compile” will be converted into whatever you like by Scrivener.  It’s a great way to not only control what you print and create, but track your wordage.

But if you’ll notice, that’s a check box under your Manuscript Target.  With my story I have everything in Act Two–the part of my novel I’m currently developing–checked for Include in Compile, but everything in Act One is turned off.  Why?  Because I want to check my progress for Act Two only.  However, if I uncheck that box–

Now it really feels like bragging--

Now it really feels like bragging–

Everything in the manuscript–see the very top left of the Binder–is included.  And you can see how my progress bar jumped from the orange of Act Two–which is only about half way to the three hundred thousand total of the manuscript–to the bright green of “I’m almost to the end.”  Numbers and colors help you visualize where you are in the writing process.

You can see that even better when you are tracking the progress of your document.  Let’s look at the last scene I completed and check out the lower right hand corner of the screen.

Right down here.  See?

Right down here. See?

Click on that little dot and you’ll get another pop-up that allows you to set the total wordage for the document you’re working upon at the moment.

Three thousand seems like a good number.

Three thousand seems like a good number.

Hit Ok and you’ll see the following pop up at the bottom of your screen:

Look--new stuff!

Look–new stuff!

That first number–the 2,152–that number id always there–just look at the picture above.  Now you have your target number to the right of what you’ve written, and there is a progress bar next to the button, which is now red to indicate you haven’t reached your goal.  Once you do, that dot turns green:  trust me, it does.

This is also a great thing for keeping track of your progress if you’re bring up Scrivener and closing it several times during a day.  You can either keep everything in one document that you’re working on for the day, or adjust the target number as you go from document to document.  Easy Peasy.

Last of all, we can look at our Project Statistics, which you can find on the menu under Project>Project Statistics, or by selecting Ctrl-..  Scrivener will give you a snapshot of your identified manuscript–using your Compile and how you set up things under your Option tab–and what you may have selected in your Binder.  Here I’m identifying Act Two as the manuscript, and I’ve selected Part Eight.  So I bring up my stats, and . . .

Act Two seems quite the page turner.

Act Two seems quite the page turner.

Just so you know, I have my pages set up on my Option tab as three hundred and fifty words per page, so that’s how Scrivener figures that my Act Two is 370 pages long once you figure in the page breaks for Act, Part, and Chapter headings.  Not quite A Dance With Dragons, but I’m getting there–with fewer deaths, too.

There you have it:  so many ways to watch your counts.  Now all you gotta do is write.

Good News Day

Monday–yesterday–was another of my long, “I’m on the road and can’t really get anything done” days.  I had to visit my HRT doctor, and it’s a nearly two-and-a-half hour drive to her office–I’m in The Burg and she’s off in the Swamps of Jersey–so there’s a bit of driving.  A lot of driving, actually, and it’s pretty much heavy traffic the whole way there and back, not including the rain I was in last night.  Needless to say, by the time I returned to my hovel at seven-thirty PM, it was hard to get worked up for anything in the way of writing.

That doesn’t mean I didn’t have a good day yesterday . . .

See, my visit was to go over my labs, which I’d taken a couple of weeks before.  Lab work is important, because you don’t want to worry that what you’re doing to your body is killing you.  And it can . . . Bit of full disclosure here:  back in April and May of 2014, this year, I was on a DIY hormone regiment for about six weeks.  I did it because I wanted to get on them, and as I always do, I dug into my research and figured out just how much I could handle without hurting myself.

Wrong thing to do.  I stopped taking the hormones right before I started my lab work, and didn’t get back on them until I started my injections.  One of the thing my lab work discovered was my iron and some of my liver functions were way the hell off.  The liver function was due to taking oral hormones (after you’re fifty they break down in your system differently and are metabolized by your liver as well), and the iron came from mistakenly taking a women’s vitamin, which are full of iron that I don’t need.

The moral of that story is don’t do meds on your own.  The other moral of the story is that in April I was pretty much an emotional basket case because of lady hormones taking over my body, and let me tell you, it wasn’t fun.  It also makes me understand far better the sort of hell women go through from time-to-time, and makes me want to slap guys with large, smelly tunas every time I hear them say, “Wow, you’re moody today.”  Hey, try this stuff for three months, dude, and tell me how you feel.

But the news yesterday was good.  Hormone levels are where they should be; liver function is good save for a slightly elevated bilirubin, which may or may not be genetic and/or affected by my lack of a gall bladder, my weight is continuing to drop, and even my blood pressure was down a bit–and while still high, it wasn’t up in the hypertension range.  It was all great news.

That's why I look so happy here--glowing even, as some people say.  I'll take that.

That’s why I look so happy here–glowing even, as some people told me yesterday. I’ll take that.

It’s back to the writing tonight.  Today I’ll ponder over some of the comments I’ve received concerning Annie’s and Kerry’s relationship.  It seems as if there are a few people who thing something bad is going to happen to them.  Since I already know everything that’s going to happen to them, I’m sort of sitting here smiling and thinking, “How are they gonna feel when I get to this scene?”

But really:  nothing bad happens.

Well . . . nothing too bad.

Aid Time, Angry Annie Aftermath

I’ve been rocking out on David Bowie this morning, writing to Station to Station, and now blogging to Scary Monsters and Super Creeps.  Both brilliant works, and standing up to what passes for music today.  Maybe it’s because I grew up in this time that I love the work so much, but the truth is I wasn’t a huge Bowie fan as a teen, and it’s only been in the last few years that I’ve been able to revisit his catalog and revel in his brilliance.

Why am I bringing up Bowie?  No reason.  Just into the music this morning as I grow closer to the end of Chapter Twenty-Two.  The penultimate scene is finished, and all that remains is the last scene, Intervention, then I can move on to the end of this long and dangerous day for my kids.  As for now, Annie’s part in this chapter is over, but Chapter Twenty-Three is almost all her observations of ongoing events inside the Great Hall as night falls.

Until then, she has to resolve these issues she is having–like whether or not to rip Emma’s lungs out and squeeze them . . .

 

All excerpts, this page, from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

Annie never let her emotions rule her; she never allowed them to driver her impulses. She’d told Kerry that she never cried, and it was also true that she was never angry in the ways that people understood anger. She wouldn’t scream or shout, but rather turn cold and keep her fury contained.

But now . . .

She’d never been in the position of having someone she loved put in a position of danger that could lead to injury or death. Kerry was out there, on the school grounds, perhaps with an Abomination after him—or maybe it had caught him and he was lying in the forest dead and . . .

Either way, alive or dead, whatever was happening to Kerry was due to this girl . . .

Annie pull Emma’s jacket tight around her throat. Her eyes never left those of the frightened and now-drugged girl, and Annie resisted the urge to shake and scream at her for being such a silly, stupid, ignorant girl, but she kept the words she wanted to yell at the top of her voice within her thoughts. How could you do this to Kerry? How could you not listen to him? How could you leave a safe place and lead him to his death

A hand tightened around the back of Annie’s neck and she was ripped away from Emma. She was pulled away from the triage area and towards the West Transept; a few seconds later Coraline spun her around and shook her roughly. “The hell is wrong with you?”

Annie quickly gathered her wits about her and realized what was happening. “I—”

“I said you could use that shit against the Deconstructors if they got in here.” She pointed back at the triage area a few meters away. “I didn’t mean you could use it on our patients.”

Annie’s vision followed Coraline’s outstretched arm. Emma was still in her examination chair; Nurse Gretchen hovered over the girl, swabbing away the rivets of blood emanating from Emma’s nose and tear ducts . . .

“Get her up to the ward: Bed Fourteen.” As soon as she received an acknowledgment from Gretchen, Coraline returned her attention to Annie. “You better have a damn good reason for what just happened, or I’m gonna lock you up in my office for the rest of this situation, Annie.” She folded her hands in front of her, trying not to come off as too domineering. “Well?”

 

The question came up yesterday, “Is Annie the only one who knows death spells?” and the answer to that is, out of all the A Levels, yes, she’s the only one who knows death spells–in particular, she knows one, Exsanguination, which is a D Level spell if one must know.  Both of Annie’s parents were pretty good with Sorcery, and while they didn’t go that route, they have books about the house, and little Annie found those books and read through them.  Ergo, that’s how she learn a death spell.

And what is Exsanguination?  Here is the definition:  “The action or process of draining or losing blood.”  In laymen’s terms it means you bleed a lot, and if you bleed enough, you’ll bleed to death.  Those rivets of blood coming from Emma’s nose and eyes?  Yep.  Annie was laying a little death spell on her, and if she’d actually put her mind to it, Emma would have had blood spurting from her nose faster than a teenage Japanese boy in a hentai animation.

That’s what she was being tasked to use on the “bad guys” if they got into the Great Hall.  Annie was gonna bleed them out–and not slowly.  Someone who knows what they’re doing, like Professor Lovecraft, could make a person bleed from every pore and opening in their body, which means you could put a person down in a mater of seconds.  Yes, it’s a messy way to go–but in my world it’s them or you, right?

There are other students who know how to do this sort of thing.  Do they used them against other students?  No.  Why?  For one, most students at the level where death spells are taught are also taught how to block them.  But also because if someone starts slinging that sort of magic, they’d vanish.  It’s that simple.  Kill a student while you’re a student and that’s it, you no longer exist.  Remember how Isis thought The Foundation might have to do something with Kerry and Emma’s parents if something happened to them?  They’d have basically made them vanish from existence, and anyone who’d come in contact with them would forget them–forever.  Same thing happens to wacky students going around trying to kill people:  they vanish.  Usually into Cloudland.  But that’s another story . . .

There was another question as well:  is that the only death spell?  Nope.  There’s no Avada Karvada in this world:  there are many ways to kick someone off this physical plain in a permanent fashion.  I know this because I have a list:

Spell List:  a work in progress you never leave home without.

Spell List: a work in progress you never leave home without.

Anything listed as “Sorcery (Morte)” is a spell designed to kill.  Yes, it can be used for other things:  Lovecraft used Electrify on Kerry the first day of Sorcery class because she wanted to see if she could get Annie to react, and her skill with the spell is such that she can shock you a little, or she could flat-out fry a person where they sat and they’d be dead before they knew they were dying.

Really, though:  any kind of magic could be used to off someone if you’re inventive enough.  During The Scouring–the other time The Deconstructors came and tried to destroy the school–Wednesday, while a student, killed a Deconstructor by creating a little tornado around his body and flaying him to death with dust and stone particles.  As she’s been known to say, Visualization, Energy, and Willpower:  if you can imagine it, you can make it happen.  If you can see how to do it, and you can channel that magical mojo into your Craft, all you need is the will to make it happen.

Annie’s had it drilled into her that using a death spell just to use it against someone is bad.  She had a slip-up, and . . . yeah, she explained to Coraline that she lose control for a moment because of what happened with Emma and Kerry, and it was her bad, don’t worry, it won’t happen again.  And Coraline, knowing how magic can go sideways when you’re upset, understands . . .

 

“Okay.” Coraline put a finger across Annie’s lips. “Don’t say that. Don’t think the worst.” She began slowly running her hands over Annie’s shoulders, trying to comfort her. “I’ll make this one up as a loss of control—” She leaned closer and eyed Annie hard. “But it’s not going to happen again—is it?”

“No.” Annie shook her head. “It won’t. I’m sorry, Nurse Coraline.”

“Yeah, well . . .” She looked back at the now-empty examination chair. “Emma’s the one you should apologize to, not me.” Coraline tapped Annie’s shoulders. “Let’s get back to work; I have a feeling more are coming.”

They’d taken no more than three steps when Coraline touched Annie’s arm and stopped her. “Hey. Kerry’s a smart boy.” She gave the worried girl a smile that she hoped would put her at ease, though she knew it likely wouldn’t. “If there’s anyone who can get away from an Abomination, it’s him.”

 

See?  All is forgiven–more or less.

As for that last statement, Coraline–

I may have something to say about that . . .

Though intervention usually means help is on the way . . .

Though intervention usually means help is on the way . . .

Talks Among the Ins and Outs

The new day is here, and there is a feeling of getting things done today.  Don’t know why–maybe I just woke up in a good mood.  It’s always a plus to have that happen.

But there was also writing last night.  Lots of writing.  You want proof?  Here:

See?  I wouldn't lie.  Much.

See? I wouldn’t lie. Much.

Almost twelve hundred words to finish up the last scene in Chapter Twenty-One.  Not only that, but the novel is over ninety thousand words, and I’m creeping up on another milestone here, which I’ll discuss in a moment.

But first, the writing . . .

There’s a five-way conversation going on in this scene.  Isis and Wednesday in the Security Center, Ramona Chai and Fitzsimon Spratt, the Practical Super Science instructor, on the ground at the scene of the break-in, speaking through a couple of magical floating cameras/monitors, and the Headmistress in her lair in Sanctuary.  Question of the hour is:  how did they break in?  Answer . . .

 

(All excerpts, this page, from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

The Headmistress glared at all through the video display. “You have an explanation for what happened, Isis?”

“I do.” She’d seen this demeanor many times before: she called it the “Mean Headmistress Look” and it only appeared when the Mathilde didn’t want to leave any doubt as to who was in control of the conversation.

“And?”

“The computer analysis shows the Deconstructors threw a number of people as a small spot on the screen, one right after another, in an attempt to hammer through a breach.”

“When you mean ‘one right after another’—”

“I mean they teleported people into the same spot on the screen in a matter of about ten second. As soon as one person hit the screen, another was right behind them, doing the same.” She turned and indicated Wednesday. “Wends has looked at the data as well, and agrees with that analysis.”

On the Monitor Two Fitzsimon—who was sending and receiving images from a Spy-Eye, one of several that the Rapid Response kept on hand for this sort of thing—raised his hand. “If I may something, Headmistress.”

Mathilde softened her glare a little. “Go ahead, Fitz.”

“Ramona and I have had a chance to examine both bodies.” The Self Defense and Weapons Instructor nodded from Monitor Three, watching and recording about six meters from Fitzsimon. “It looks like the body I’m standing over—the one that wasn’t retrieved by our stone friends—”

Isis spoke up. “That would be Gahooley.”

This gave the opportunity for the Headmistress to sigh loud enough for all to hear. “Is it actually necessary to give all the gargoyles names?”

“I find it necessary.”

 

Leave it to Isis to name “her” gargoyles.  And should we ask how it is she’s come into command of gargoyles in the walls, because if she’s giving one a name, there are probably more out there.  In a way it’s kind of scary.

But they get back to the matte at hand:

 

“Thank you.” He glanced at the body lying on the ground but didn’t kneel, knowing the Spy-Eye would follow if he did. “Of the two who made it through, this one appears in the worst shape: burnt by the energies in the screen, and missing part of his right arm.”

“He’s the one that was DOA coming through.” Isis wanted the Headmistress to know that even with a breach, the effort wasn’t a complete success.

“Yes. But . . .” Fitzsimon’s turned back to the camera. “He was wearing a device, and it’s obvious it was imbued with an enchantment.”

This was of interest to both the Headmistress and Wednesday, though the Mathilde was the first to speak. “What sort of enchantment?”

“It’s difficult to say right now; there’s only the lingering presence of an enchantment.” Fitzsimon shrugged. “Isis, Wednesday: did you see anything in your data that indicated a drain spell was used?”

Wednesday was slow to respond, as if she was going over what she’d viewed from the computers trying to see if she missed a key bit of evidence. “I didn’t see anything that stood out as a drain spell, but . . .” She turned to Isis and shrugged. “If they were throwing themselves against the screen trying to hammer it down, the energy flares could have covered it up. Particularly if it wasn’t a large spell.”

“It wouldn’t have to be large. If it was formed correctly, it’d end up being like a shape charge.”

“Yeah.” Isis shrugged. “But you couldn’t use a lot of them; too much of a chance you’d waste them before you hit the screen.”

Fitzsimon nodded. “Absolutely correct.”

 

There you see magic being used for practical effects–magical shape charges, if you will.  And now coming the whys and wherefores of how they got in, plus a little digging from the Headmistress.

 

The Headmistress wanted to get back to the point which originally brought this conversation together. “What I see here is the outer screens were breached and intruders entered the grounds. Isis, you said this wasn’t possible.”

“Headmistress, I said the screens as they are now would make nearly impossible to get into the grounds—” She wasn’t about the let Mathilde put words in her mouth and then hold her to something that was never said. “There is no such thing as a perfect defense, and I’ve said this more than once, if you’ll recall.”

“What does this mean, then?” Mathilde didn’t want more bad news.

“It means the Deconstructors have noticed a weakness and tested it to see if it was viable.” She pointed at a spot on the hologram of the school grounds behind her. “The entered near The Narrows, so my guess is someone was over in the observation tower in Halibut Point trying to see how it all played out.”

 

Is there really an observation tower over at Halibut Point State Park, at the northern most point of Cape Ann?  Do you really have to ask?

 

“Which means they know they can get in—”

“Maybe.” Isis shook her head. “They’ll also know it’s not worth their time.”

“Explain.”

Isis was glad she’d taken the time to memorize the data before having this conversation. “The data indicates thirty-three people hit the screen in the same place trying to hammer it down. Two made it through, and one of those was dead on arrival.” She looked up at Monitor Three. “Ramona, the guy who made it through alive—how was he when you got there?”

“Once your—” She was loath to the name given to the gargoyle by Isis. “—’pet’ returned the individual, he remained alive about fifteen seconds. And he wasn’t in much better shape than the individual Fritz is standing over.”

Mathilde didn’t bother hiding her surprise. “He died?”

“Yes.”

“What if you’d arrived before the gargoyle had gotten to him? Would you consider him a threat?”

Ramona looked off to the side for about five seconds before staring back into the Spy-Eye. “No, Headmistress. Given the extend of his injuries, any one of the Rapid Response team could have handled him without requiring magic. He wasn’t in any shape to put up a fight.” She glanced in the direction of the wall. “I believe he would have died, gargoyle or not.”

 

Gargoyle or not, you’re gonna die.  It’s all a matter when you’re trying to bust into the school of if you want to die sooner, or later.

What is the response to this?  Isis isn’t too worried, and Wednesday, the Second Witch in the Security Center, has got her ideas down:

 

“And we could act against them instantly.” Isis felt she’d covered all her points and was ready to move on to the end of this conference. “The one good thing to come out of this is Wends thinks she can modify the existing enchantment to make the screens harder to breach.”

With this news Mathilde no longer felt the need to seem the stern administrator. “What will you do?”

“I can make a slight adjustment to the enchantment so that if it detects as massive pin-point assault against a single area, more energy will get rushed to that spot.”

“How long will this take?”

“I’ll need about ninety minutes to work up the spell and test it. After that I just need to go down to the master node and rework the enchantment—that’ll take five minutes, no more.” Wednesday smile was friendly and relaxed. “Easy peasy.”

 

Just as long as you didn’t say “okely dokely”.  That might have been too much.

The high point too all this is I’m heading into Chapter Twenty-Two, where things get bad.  That’s where this second graphic comes into play:

Just look at the numbers, Lizzy.  Look at the number . . .

Just look at the numbers, Lizzy. Look at the number.

I’ve come within striking distance of 241,450 thousand word.  The longest thing I’ve ever written, Transporting, topped out at around 245,000 words.  That means sometime during Chapter Twenty-Two I’m not only going to pass that novel, but I’ll hit a quarter of a million words.

More importantly, the end of this Act is in sight.

Then . . . we’ll see.

History on a Math Shell

There are times when I’m writing my stories that I have to get all geeky for real.  The Foundation Chronicles actually takes place against the backdrop of our world of 2011, so there are times when things are referenced as being something real in my world.  Which is why, during the little time I had to write–driving a few hundred miles in the day tends to make you tired by the time night rolls around–I was able to come up with a short history of Professor Elenore Karasek, one of the school’s former flight instructors, and how she used her love of the city of Chicago to rename the school’s race courses after three mass transit lines.

You can't tell your race circuits without a map, right?

You can’t tell your race circuits without a map, right?

What you have in the picture above are two of the three school race course:  the Green Line (which is the solid line closest to the wall) and the Blue Line (the inner solid line).  I don’t have the third course up, the Red Line, only because designing it will be insane, and no one’s racing the Red Line right now.

(Oh, and in the picture above you’ll see, off to the right, that light green mat is Selena’s Meadow and, right below that, the Flight School.  Doesn’t look like much of a walk, but it is.)

Why go through all this?  Because I knew there would be a part in the current novel where racing was going to come into play, and that time is now.  Which means I have to do my prep to set everything up so I can write about what’s going to happen in the Great Illegal A Level Race of 2011.  And not only do I have a course, but I know the names of  the different sections of the course.

Always good to have a nice little cheat sheet of the neat racing names for your course.

Always good to have a nice little cheat sheet of the neat racing names for your course.

Just like an auto race track has its names for their straights and turns, the Green Line has the same, and the notes I have above show the areas that’ll get passed during the scene.  Most of those names are pretty literal, though you may wonder why there’s a section of the track named Graves . . .

"Don't worry, kids.  It's not like a turn called 'Graves' could mean anything bad . . ."

“Don’t worry, kids. It’s not like a turn called ‘Graves’ could mean anything bad . . .”

Like I said, some are very literal.

There is one part of the upcoming scene where a couple of my kids will race down a long, semi-straight stretch known as West End.  Why?  Because it’s on the west end of the school, that’s why?  It’s two kilometers long–that’s one and a quarter miles for you metricly challenged–and it’s the section of the course where one will get the most speed out of their PAV.  If they are of a mind, that is.

There it is, the West End, Girls.  Sorry:  bad 80's music pun.

There it is, the West End, Girls. Sorry: bad 80’s music pun.

How much speed are we talking?  In what I’ve already written for the scene, Annie recalls when Kerry and she were trying out the course a few weeks before, and they managed to reach about one hundred and seventy kilometers and hour without even working up a sweat.  She mentioned that she knows enough Imperial Units to know they were flying along at about one hundred miles an hour (one hundred and five, to be exact) and that probably would have gotten them in trouble if they’d been caught.

For this scene I want to know how long it would take Kerry to get up to a much higher speed, and how long he could fly down West End at that speed.  For that I head over to the Tutor 4 Physics site, which has a lot of nice calculations that I’ve used in my science fiction writing.  How will I used this?  Let’s look at what Annie said:

If they came out of Northwest Passage (that bend at the very top right of the above picture) as a speed of sixty kilometers an hour, and accelerated at forty-five kilometers an hour, it’ll take them seventy-eight meters, or two hundred and fifty-five feet, to get up to 170 kph.  That’s just under the length of a football field, so that’s some good acceleration.  And with those numbers, it’s easy to calculate they could cover the entire distance of West End in about forty-three seconds.

Of course Kerry will be going a lot faster, which is why I need to know just how much time he’ll have to think about what he’d going to do next.  Ergo, calculations are needed.  Which is why . . .

You tell 'em, Jessie.

You tell ‘em, Jessie.

All to get a few thousand words into a story.

Yeah, I’m like that.

The Return of the Fictional Faces

This is the part of the blog post where I usually say, “Last night I started writing–“, but that’s not going to happen this morning, because there was no writing last night due to injury.  And by “injury,” I mean while I was walking home from work I, while waiting for a crossing light to change, somehow tripped over my own feet and stumbled right into the intersection.  I did a very good Shuffle Off to Buffalo imitation for about ten feet (or three meters for everyone else outside the US) before going right over and tumbling.  The fortunate part involved no cars happening by at the exact moment I performed this pratfall, though one car did enter the turning lane where this happened about five second after I hit the ground.

I was very lucky indeed.

The downside to this adventure was getting both elbows scrapped up badly, getting a dime-sized hunk of skin torn out of my right thigh due to having a set of keys in my pocket, and bruising the hell out of my ribs to the point where taking a deep breath hurts a lot.  My head hurts a little this morning, making me wonder if slamming down onto hard pavement has given me a slight concussion, because if their is anything the 2001 Daytona 500 taught us, it’s that you don’t have to hit the wall to cause brain damage, you just gotta come to a real sudden stop.

This means I didn’t write much at all last night while I went “Ooh” and “Ouch” every time I moved.  I did make notes for a scene I’m going to rewrite, but that was about the extent of my work.

See?  Notes.  I wasn't lying.

See? Notes. I wasn’t lying.

Since I like to be Chatty Cathy on the weekends, I needed something to talk about.  And then it hit me about 4:30 this morning–yeah, my sleep cycle sucks–remember that time I talked about who I imagined my characters looking like when I put them together?  That was for a story involving people who were at my School of Salem eleven years before–what about the characters now?

Ha!  I got you covered.  Lets go through what I’ve written so far and meet the folks.

 

The Kids and their Families.

First, we have Annie’s family, as they are the first we meet.  Annie is an easy one, because the person who first created her did so for a role play, and she knew how she wanted Annie to look.  Annie looks like Jodelle Ferland, better known as Bree the Soon to be Dead Undead in Twilight: Eclipse.

As for Victor and Pavlina, her mother and father, we have Stanislav Ianevski, the original Bulgarian Bon-Bon, and Eve Myles.

Now over to Wales where we meet Kerry’s family.  Since I was in Cardiff I went on a real Torchwood kick, and came up with the following:

Davyn Malibey — Gareth David-Lloyd

Louise Malibey — Indira Varma

As for Kerry . . . I’ve never based his look off anyone.  He’s kind of short, though no shorter than Annie. with an angular face, green eyes, red hair, lots of freckles around his nose, light complexion inherited from his Irish mother.  Since he doesn’t get out much, he has little muscle tone, and his chest is pretty shallow.  When we first meet him he’s wearing rectangular titanium frame glasses, but by the time he reaches his C Levels he ditches the glasses because one, he’s good with transformation magic, and two, unlike the Harry Potter universe–where transformation magic seems to be used only for changing rats into cups–if you’re good at transformation magic, you can fix your freakin’ eyes.

There are two Foundation people who come to visit Kerry.  I kept with my Torchwood roots and have as Burn Gorman as Mr. Mayhew and Yasmin Bannerman as Ms. Rutherford.  In fact, it’s Yasmin’s appearance in the Torchwood episode, They Keep Killing Suzie, that I pretty much used for Ms. Rutherford’s appearance in my story.

"Escort this new witch to Amsterdam?  Beats getting hit on by this omnisexual bloke."

“Escort these new witches to Amsterdam? Beats getting hit on by this omnisexual bloke.”

The Kids on the Train.

We have Collin and Alica.  They are Jamie Bell, from the movie Billy Elliot, and Kelly Macdonald, best known as the voice of Merida from Brave, and as Ewan McGregor’s “I didn’t tell you I’m fifteen before we had sex?” girlfriend from Trainspotting.

The Plane, The Plane.

Deanna, Erwin, and Helena we’ve already met.  That leaves Headmistress Mathilde Laventure and instructor Adric Lewiston.  They are Audrey Tautou and Matthew Waterhouse.  I mean, Adric?  Come on.  You know I went there.

Cernunnos Coven.

We know Isis and Coraline.  That leaves our kid’s new coven leader.  Professor Holoč Semplen is David Nykl, better known as Dr. Radek Zelenka from Stargate:  Atlantis.

Instructors at School.

We know Wednesday, Jessica, Ramona, and Mathias.

Madeline Palmescoff — Mary-Louise Parker.

Victoria Salomon — Vanessa Angel, who I remember as the Tok’ra Anise from Stargate:  SG-1.

Harpreet Bashagwani — here I have to hang my head in shame, because I’d based her upon the picture of a woman from Hyderabad I’d found on a dating site.  Sure, I could have went with a Bollyword actress, but I didn’t.  So–shame, shame.   I know.

What About Our Librarian?

Trevor Parkman is based upon Anthony Head because it should be obvious, no?

And What About Those Other Meddlesome Kids?

Emmalynne Neilson — There’s only been a few glimpse of her so far, but Kerry and she get a big adventure in Act Two, one that doesn’t leave Annie all that pleased.  She’s modeled after Kirsten Dunst.

Lisa Glissandi — Pain in the Ass Mean Girl is modeled after Taylor Swift, only with a lot less talent due to not having a dumped boyfriend to write songs about.  Give her time, though:  there’s still six years to go.

Anna Laskar — Spooky German Girl was a mystery for a bit until I made the following connection–

Mix this:

"No, really, I'm not dangerous--trust me."

“No, really, I’m not dangerous–trust me.”

With her more grown up psycho bitch hairdo:

"I kept verevolve in basement for years; is normal, no, sestra?"

“I keep verevolve in basement for years; is normal, sestra, no?”

And you have Tatiana Maslany in the part.  Anna probably was a young Helena, full of spooky looks and constantly ampped up on sugar.  Check her for severed tails before letting  her into the Samhain Dance.

There you have it:  pretty much all the bases covered as far as characters go.  That leaves just one thing:

Writing.

Yeah, I should get to that today.

Shadow Collections

There comes into every writing life where you need to take a break and work on something that isn’t your story.  The break I was working on last night was my nails, and . . . they didn’t turn out the way I wanted.  Boo, hiss, the hell with it.  I stripped them down and brought up the story.

You know, sometimes your instincts are always the best for figuring out what you need to do at any given time.  Sometimes you should just write, even when you don’t feel like it.  Maybe you’ll end up making something crazy and wonderful, or wonderfully crazy, and before you know it, you’re the next big thing.  Or still struggling.  Who know?

Since it was a little late to be writing, I played with the story.  Not in the way you may think:  no, this was writer’s playing–

One of the things I’ve always wanted to try in Scrivener is to set up collections.  To understand Scrivener Collections, you need to understand the Binder.  It’s that thing on the left side of the program when you have it displayed.  Here:

Hey, over here!

Hey, over here!

If you need a better way of imagining the Binder, go to your local store, buy a three-ring binder, return home, find your story, put it in your binder.  There you go:  Scrivener Binder in physical form.  You have all your parts and chapters laid out so you know where everything is located, and you can lay things out in whatever order you like.  Each folder represents whatever you want it to represent:  headings, page markers, whatever it is you put into a binder to keep things neat and orderly.

Then what is a Collection?  Let’s say you have sections of your story that you want to return to from time-to-time, but you don’t want to go looking through your binder for that part.  Maybe it’s some historical information you dug up a while back and you need to review now and then.  Maybe it’s a new scene you’re working on and you don’t know where it should go inside your story.  Maybe it’s an old novel you wrote prior to the mess you’re working on now, and you want to be able to pull it up and check something without it being right there in your face.

If so, you set up a colored tab for that section–in Scrivener that becomes your collection.

Color tabs, just like I said.

Color tabs, just like I said.

And when you want to look at that section of your story, click on the tab and start looking.

You can even get fancy and look at it two different ways if you're of a mind--or even without one, like me.

You can even get fancy and look at it two different ways if you’re of a mind–or even without one, like me.

Working on your story here in the collection is just like working on it inside the main binder, because you’re still in the binder, only you don’t see the rest of it because you’ve pulled this part off by its lonesome.  If you need some additonal research, you can add that to the collection as well–

Or maybe you can give it a home of its own; it might like that.

Or maybe you can give it a home of its own; it might like that.

Collections aren’t forever:  you can keep them as long as you like, then remove them when you’re finished.  It won’t remove the original information–or the changes you made to it–since you were really working in the binder, only . . . not.  Software is funny that way.

There was something else I did as well:  I added a chapter.  What?  Are you insane, Cassie?  Well, yeah, a little, but that’s beside the point.  I’d come up with another set of scenes a few weeks back, and I wanted to incorporate them into the story.  The scene comes at the end of Part Eight, which I call Holidays There and Back, and this happens a few weeks after a somewhat traumatic point in the lives of Annie and Kerry.  Chapter Twenty-Five, Continuations, is meant to show that life not only goes on in this strange world, but sometimes you start learning unusual things and pass that knowledge on to people close to you.

Shadows?  Like the ones trying to take over the galaxy?  Guess again.

Shadows? Like the ones trying to take over the galaxy? Wrong story.

Three interesting scenes, with the last being a tender, maybe a somewhat creepy moment, but more tender in the long run, because it ends with dancing before a fireplace.  And maybe a couple of shadow ribbons.

Yeah, those are gonna be nasty.