Seeing the Final Scene

More than a few times in the past I’ve discussed the programs I’ve used to help define a story, lay out a time line, or even help design a local so I have a better idea of what it looks like when I’m trying to develop the description.  And in the course of his novel I’ve used them all to make each of those things more or less come alive–

All save one.

If you were paying attention at the end of the excerpt yesterday–and I know you were–you saw the kids welcomed to the Sea Sprite Inn.  What is it?  It’s a fictional bed and breakfast just a half a block south of a real bed and breakfast on the same street.  It’s location is right on shore of Salem Harbor, and though there’s a residence there now I’m sure they won’t mind that I’m uprooting them.  It should also be pointed out that they’re directly across the street from The House of the Seven Gables, which makes it even easier to find.

Oh, and it’s owned by The Foundation and run by an alumnus of my magical school.  That sort of thing happens, you know.  Hiding in plain sight and all.

One of the things about the Sea Sprite Inn is that it becomes a focal point for Annie and Kerry in this novel, and while I’ve known so much about the school itself and some of the other locations they’ve visited, I’ve considered the Sea Sprite for a while but had no idea what their room was like.  (Oh, and if you hadn’t figure out that their “special accommodations” involved them sharing a room, you haven’t been paying attention.)

I was pretty much exhausted last night after coming home from work; I ended up nodding off in a chair about six-thirty, and wasn’t functioning at peak performance for most of the evening.  But I still had enough hand-eye coordination to be able to put things together visually, so I thought, “Why not design their room?”  And I did.

Here’s the program I used:  Sweet Home 3D, which is an open source program that you can get free with a few bare bones items that you use for furniture, or you pay fifteen dollars from Amazon and get it with a whole lot of items to make your design look like a real place.  I’ve had the free version for a while, but last night I sprung for the Amazon copy and set it up on my machine.

Here’s the interface, by the way, with the finished room and some . . . additions.

Pay no attention to those kids on the bed.  They could be anyone.

Pay no attention to those kids on the bed. They could be anyone.

You design the room or rooms in the top right, you get a 3D scene of it below, and to the left you have your furniture and items along with a list of what you have and if you want it visible.  You can change the size and proportions of everything and then save it off to your hard drive.

The room is good sized:  twenty feet by thirty.  There’s a large bay window to the south, giving them a great view of the harbor.  The bed is actually a canopy bed:  I’m going to hunt for a download tonight and see if I can find one to stick in the room in place of the one there.  Because this floor of the B & B is reserved for Foundation people, there’s enough room to conjure up just about anything you want in the room, which explains all the space there.  I mean, why leave things laying about when you can magically bring them up when you need them.

The nicest function is the 3D view, which allows you to see what you’ve created.  You can even use the program to get a snap shot of your view and store it on your hard drive, if you were of a mind–

I am of that mind.

I am of that mind.

And since you can rotate the view around to just about any point, you can get a lot of different shots.

Like looking into the room from the outside.

Like looking into the room from the outside.

One of the things I played with last night, though, was a video walk through.  Pretty much it’s a movie of what it might look like if you were to entered the room and look about from the inside, and one of the last things I did before going to bed was make one and upload it to my account on YouTube.  The picture quality isn’t that great, because my machine won’t handle the massive rendering needed for a near perfect look, but it’s good enough that you’ll get the idea.

So there you have it:  the final location designed.  And that’s a pretty neat thing when you think about it, because this really all began with me designing Annie’s Lake House, which became the first scene in the novel.  Now we’ve come full-circle and I’ve designed the last new location for the last scene in the book.

Time to go in and finish this off.

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:


Yeah, I should get to that today.

Too Low for Zero

With only today and tomorrow remaining before Camp is brought to order, there remain only a few things to do before I stay up until midnight and whip off a few hundred words to start the Madness on Monday.  I’m in a cabin with a friend, and she commented about how quiet the other people seemed.  Yep, par for the course, I believe.  They have their fifty thousand goal, they’re doing something–and that may be all.

I’ve observed this with NaNoWriMo.  During the month of October you have so many people who are pumped up and ready to roll, talking about what they’re going to write, then about a week into the venture there is a massive silence, as if a thousand budding writers suddenly realized just want it means to pen a couple of thousand words a day, and to do it for thirty days straight.  Many make it:  many more are left in the dust of their dreams.

And for a few, they NaNo Rainbow Dash Naprealize that it’s more of a social experiment, as in, “I’m going to spend all my time being sociable and talking about writing, and begging people to sprint with me . . .”  Yeah, more than a few of those people out there, and I’ll at least say I haven’t seen too many of them out there this month.  Probably because Camp NaNo is a bit more laid back, and there seems to be less preparing that normally happens, so that mean fewer social butterflies out and about the forums and groups.

For me, my main building is pretty much finished.  I started the third floor of my Great Hall yesterday, and there’s not a lot to it, save for setting up rooms and throwing in doorways.  Since most of those spaces won’t need a name for a few months, I don’t have to worry about them now, I just know they’re there.  In time they will become real places:  for now they are but spaces on a layout.

Hey, just wait until I start laying out the basement on this sucker.  That’s coming up next–I think.

That’s the thing with this project:  there is so much I can do, so much that can be done, that I could probably spend the rest of the year laying out this world.  I have to set up a series of tunnels for the school, because some of the locations for classes are way far apart, and given their location in New England, that means a lot of snow for many months out of the year.  Will I have my students walking from place to place?  Yes.  Will they do that when they’re knee deep in snow?  No.  Hence the tunnels.

I have to draw them up, however.  Then I have to imagine them linking into the basements under each building, or just coming up into the buildings themselves, because not every place is going to have, or need, a basement.  My Astro-Sciences building is one such place, because it’s sitting in a pedestal, and there’s no need for a basement.

Maybe I should just write.  It seems it would be so much easier to take off and worry about my worlds later.

Designing the Unseen Imagined

Though the book is up, there are issues–things I should have seen, but didn’t take care of before hitting the “Upload” button.  Never fear; I’ll have everything sorted out this week.  I hope.

In the meantime I’m playing with other things:  concepts, story setups, that sort of thing.  I need to get a Scrivener project set up for my next story, but as one person told me, I should take it easy least I burn out.  Ha!  I laugh at burning out–don’t I?  Already I’m starting to feel like a lazy git because I’m not really working on anything.  That’s a bad habit to get into, because you end up beating yourself up for the silliest things, and before you know it you’re obsessing over every damn thing that comes your way.

One of the things I’ve been on about is trying to imagine a school I built for one story–a story that could be called fan fiction of a sort–and how I can bring it over into a new world that it completely mine.  There will be a number of changes to the layout and functionality of the joint, but the one thing I want to keep is a huge, grand building that sits somewhere between small castle and grand edifice.  For now we’ll call it the Grand Hall, and when it was originally conceived, it was part cathedral, part meeting place, part protected school.

It’s really big, is what I want to say.

I’ve always had this image in my head about the building, and the layout.  Entryway; central hall in the middle; Hospital on the second, third, and fourth floors on the left, administration on the right; library to the far end; basements below.  It’s a huge building, though probably not much bigger that most modern buildings.  It’s just that in my mind’s eye, I can see it being a very shadowy place, full of darkness and light beams, and during the evening, enduring silence.  (Not to be confused with The Silence, who may be there anyway.)

As much as I’ve seen this place in my head, I should be able to lay out the floor place, right?  Guess again, Gilbert.

I started a layout last night, starting with the central meeting hall.  That place it meant to be huge, about one hundred fifty feet by fifty. Then I moved outside that point of reference, and . . .


I got as far as laying out where the staircases are–and, now that I think about it, shouldn’t be–and then I looked at the plan on the screen before me and thought, “Shit, man, this place is huge.”  That was as true as anything gets, because it is a big building.  With all sorts of things hidden in its black corners.

And I’ve not even thought of what the basements look like.

Everyone gets those moments when they realize they have hold of something that might be a bit too much for them to control, and this is one of those moments.  It’s not that I won’t figure out the design, it’s just that it’s going to be something that takes a bit of time–just like when I was doing three dimensional designs of spaceships.  Or writing a huge novel.

Don’t rush the scale.  Like a mountain, you climb it slowly.

You’ll get to the summit eventually.