Progress this week:
Progress this week:
Progress this week:
Progress this week:
The reason I love flash fiction so much is for the same reason I like working on daily vignettes, they give me these seeds for a story I can choose to come back to and work with at a later date. Often, I start out with a thought and find out as I’m writing that it escalates quickly.
This latest one came to me while I was sitting in my car during a downpour. I had gotten to a meeting early and had just visited a monastery earlier in the week.
So, this came about:
Nights like this suck up the light. Even the flickering lamplight is gone quickly as if some dark monster is out there eating it all up and leaving only the darkness. The rain is pouring, its icy fingers soaking through these black robes. Everywhere the air smells of wet plants and stone.
The weather couldn’t be more fitting. A coup shouldn’t be marked by sunshine, the dramatic mood of the weather matches the occasion. The overthrowing of a king should have some flair.
I tuck the book back into my robes, the note there memorized, but the feel of paper, even wet, is oddly soothing. It’s a concrete form of an idea, something I can hold to in the calm before the chaos.
I make a brief sign, I may only be masquerading as a monk, but the prayer I just said was genuine.
The rain masks my footsteps, whether the shivering is from the cold or the nerves I can’t tell, probably both. I come to the door, a great oaken door, sturdy and designed to hold off attacks, not assassins.
I nod to the knight stationed there. He looks miserable, he too is shivering. He only briefly looks at me and gestures toward the door. Wet, miserable fool.
I open the door and step in.
If you have spent any amount of time on this blog you’ll pick up on the fact I’m a geek and I won’t deny it.
I grew up watching imported anime on Saturday mornings, playing video games, reading fantasy novels, and getting into intense discussions concerning all these with my friends. But, for a while I was not able to watch anime, either due to general busyness or lack of access.
Finally, in the last two years, I have been able to watch these shows again and I have been loving it (sometimes a little too much). And while it is an indulgence, I have used this interest to better my own stories. I use my observations of the animes to hone in on my own characters and worldbuilding. It is a practice that allows me to enjoy entertainment while also utilizing it.
This leads me to Full Metal Alchemist. Earlier, I discussed Qrow from RWBY on this blog, and well, the RWBY community constantly brings up Fullmetal Alchemist (FMA) references in video comments because his voice actor plays Ed in FMA. So after about a year of hearing how great it was by people with similar tastes, I finally decided to check it out.
The only version I was able to find was FMA: Brotherhood, and while I was hesitant at first because I knew it wasn’t the original anime, after some research I discovered that it is closer to the story of the manga and jumped right into watching it.
I am currently in the middle of the series (so no spoilers in the comments please) and here are the five reasons I am loving it and three things I wish were better. I’m going to keep this somewhat vague as I hate to give away too many spoilers.
Children are back in school, pumpkin spice lattes are making a reappearance, and I’m getting back to a more normalized schedule. Fall is here and I have one last link to share as a part of the summer series of YouTube videos (and podcasts) I have found helpful for writing.
I was able to spend a lot of time this summer listening to writing podcasts and an assortment of audio books at work, all of which I believe have helped to strengthen my craft. I’ve also developed a taste for Yoga and I’m hoping the introduction of a new discipline will also aid in getting back into the regularity of a writing routine (though bribing myself with pumpkin spice lattes are also likely to help).
That said, here’s the video of the week. Brandon Sanderson, in addition to hosting “Writing Excuses”, also teaches a creative writing class over at BYU wherein the assignment of the semester is to create a novella. I believe one of the stipulations of him teaching the class is that his lectures must be allowed to be available online.
What that means for the rest of us is a free workshop on writing fiction with one of the great high fantasy authors of our time.
I like the idea of doing a character analysis on here every now and then. In a way, it makes me work a little harder at studying story crafting while I’m enjoying shows and books I like.
So I’ve been spending a lot of time over the last month since the finale mulling over volume 4 of RWBY. It’s a web anime series produced by RoosterTeeth and you can catch Volumes 1 – 4 for free on both their website and YouTube. If you haven’t seen it, please do – it’s fantastic, but be warned there will be spoilers in this post.
RWBY takes place in the world of Remnant where a society with modern technology coexists with typical fantasy tropes, like big bad monsters (grimm) in the wilds that threaten to destroy humanity without the protection of cities guarded by hunters and huntresses. There are four universities that specialize in training these individuals which is where we first meet our main characters: Ruby, Blake, Yang, and Weiss. Each is associated with a color: red, black, yellow, and white respectively.
A note on the color schematics, I think it is fascinating that color is so integral to the characters and their names. The idea in the story is that during the great war art was disregarded, so a tradition of naming children in a way associated with colors was an homage to art. Also, many of the characters are nods to real life legends and fairy tales such as : Joan of Arc, The Wizard of Oz, Thor, Odin, Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, and Beauty and the Beast, among others.
The first two volumes can be a bit rough to watch as the episodes were short and the animation was not yet polished, but the story is good. There is a significant turn in volume 3 as the animation gets better and the story really starts to deepen.
Now, I love the characters but I didn’t have a true favorite until recently.
Qrow on the other hand intrigues me a lot. He is only referenced in Volumes 1-2 and immediately the viewer gets the impression he’s an important character. This is especially true when a short message from him is seen at the end of Volume 1.
The viewer does not actually meet Qrow until Volume 3 when we see him in a bar, right before he picks a fight with Weiss’ sister, Winter.
He’s introduced in a bar. Glynda later states he’s always drunk, though that’s debatable. He’s extremely coherent in the majority of scenes he’s in, the only one he’s swaying in is his introduction. So, I’m not entirely sure how useful this is as a plot device except for comedic relief when necessary.
In the world of RWBY there are unique weapons everywhere and Qrow’s is no exception (really, the only exception in this world to unique weapons is android James Ironwood who favors hand to hand combat and a pistol). Qrow is a sword-scythe-gun user. It’s a huge sword that transforms to a scythe that is also a gun.
Regarding his personality, he’s on the blunt and gruff side. He trained his niece Ruby and was around to keep an eye on both her and her half sister Yang. He’s very much like a second father to Ruby.
In terms of his other relationships, he’s in Ozpin’s inner circle and seems to know a good deal more about the bad guys than he’s revealing. Being Raven’s twin brother, he also knows where to find Yang’s mother (who had previously abandoned her husband and daughter).
In volume 3 we see him as Ozpin’s loyal agent and one of his best fighters. In volume 4, we get to see him as far more vulnerable with a broader range of reactions. The turning point for me was when he rushed in to Ruby’s aid in team RNJR’s fight with Tyrian, one of Salem’s minions. The way he flew in (it’s heavily implied, if not outright confirmed he can shapeshift into a crow) and ran to her aid, blocking Tyrian’s stinger and giving Ruby a self confident smug grin.
That was a fantastic piece of characterization, in some ways, the fight with Tyrian summed up the character of Qrow beautifully:confidant, vulnerable, loyal, family oriented, and a skilled fighter. Ultimately he got hit with Tyrian’s poison and slipped in and out of consciousness for the rest of the volume (leaving the fans with bated breath each week until the finale). But we did get some interesting tidbits of potential backstory from what one could assume were his hallucinations.
To date, I think he is by far the most complex of the characters represented. Don’t get me wrong, the main characters are all great if a bit angsty – but they’re allowed to be, they’re still teenagers. Qrow on the other hand is old enough to have experienced a great deal.
I suspect he doesn’t drink just because he likes to. I think it’s deeper and that there’s a pain there we haven’t seen yet.
So, here’s my own personal takeaway: Qrow is a representative of the complex characters I love to write. Those who are driven by many and sometimes competing motivations. He’s a reminder that I need to craft a believable and thorough backstory for each of my own characters.
I’m looking forward to seeing where RoosterTeeth goes with his story and can’t wait for volume 5.