I could do art, but while I've had art ideas in my head I don't actually feel like bringing them out. And I'm feeling things out and I'm not in the mood to continue working on my webcomic. I mean. Were I to start working. I wouldn't stop for a few hours--meaning I'd get work done there. But I don't feel like doing the work there and even if I did...
...I know myself well enough to know just how hilariously stupidly naive and idealistic it'd be to think I could actually continue making my comic on a regular basis. Especially with all the real-life stuff I have on my plate. So I'm probably not arting today. If not art, then what? There's only so much cleaning of my email inbox I can do. So not that. There's only so much tweaking of my professional profile on LinkedIn I can do and I already have an All-Star profile. (Still there are a few things here and there I may tweak, but I honestly want to wait there until I get feedback from my college classes on my resume, since applying resume skills to my profile makes things easier.)
There's only so many job searches I can do before it becomes tedious. So I really don't feel like doing that. I don't feel like gaming. I don't feel like working. And there's not much to do in either of those anyway. I don't feel like arting, and that's too much an obligation anyway aside from random drawings which I wouldn't be able to settle down on.
Kinda sorta limits my options, doesn't it?
And one of the reasons I feel like doing some writing is in part my recent blogs thinking about all of the things I could write about (yesterday's entry, my story idea about the angel, the old idea of mine where I'd write trashy romance stories revolving around an interesting concept, or maybe Heroes of Gistou the story I'm supposed to be working on or if not that, my prior novel), and also in part because I had a discussion with someone which reinvigorated my passion there.
I mean, pretty much the only alternative available for me today aside from stories would be reading, be it manga or webcomics. (Though I suppose I've fallen WAY behind on anime, but I kinda want to tackle that tomorrow, not today.) So I wanted to talk a little about my work.
I started writing when I was either 12 or 13--I forget when. The first story I began writing was based largely on SaGa III (AKA, Final Fantasy Legends III) mixed with Chrono Trigger mixed with my own imagination to create an epic involving time travel, magic, and sci-fi, where the heroes fought monsters who were trying to alter the path of human history, and allowing them to meet great figures in time.
That story, Rabrian the Adventurer (hey I was 12 or 13, give me some credit here I could do far worse than that at that age), set me on the path I took. I remember quite vividly the reason I started writing was as an attempt to impress my Literature teacher, who was (and still is) my favorite teacher.
I was the first to recognize just how bad my stories were, so after starting and not finishing about seven or eight or so (in hindsight, this was probably one of the first hints I am bipolar, but it wasn't until a solid eight or so years later I got an inkling of that), I decided to start a story specifically for the aim of improving my writing, the first story I posted to the battleon forums. This story, originally meant for improvement, quickly became my signature story on there, Disease. And to this day, it remains one of the stories I have most frequently revisited, rewritten, and expanded.
I've outlined a tower defense game which was loosely based on the concept of Disease. (Never made it, because I utterly lacked the program to make it and even if I did, had zero capacity to program it and would need to make the art for it which I at the time lacked the skills for.) Some of the concepts (and names) from that game then recursively influence the original book, in that they weren't part of it originally, but I loved them enough where I put them into it.
I know the plot start to finish. I saw the need to break the book into two halves, keeping the name Disease for the original with the second half (purely conceptual) being named Infection, with the whole book series named Epidemic. The books expanded from there further. One alternative history, slightly tweaking the end of the books and then projecting a future off of that. One 'canonically optional' "direct sequel", offering what was essentially fanfiction in the distant future, just written by the original author, me. (Plague.) A third "what if?" story outlining the bad guys winning at the half-way point through Infection. Two prequel stories. One story from the viewpoint of the antagonists.
And I can, start to finish, name basically every plot development in there. I can outline the characters (well I never named over half of them but I know their basic personalities, their roles in the plot, their powers, even most of the characters they hook up with. I know how their powers work, I know how they increase their powers over the story, I know how they fight, when they fight, and the results of those fights.
I just never actually finished it.
Then there's a myriad of other stories I started. I've started over a hundred. Aside from one-shots (stories which were self-contained), I never finished any. With one exception, which I finished a first draft of for NaNoWriMo, the story I've spent the most time trying to seriously publish, yet which I've never managed to get quite right. The details are there, it's just that my technical writing skills haven't quite been up to par to convey the difficult concept my book wished to accomplish.
The book is written almost entirely in present-tense with only a few notable exceptions. That, itself, is not the problem. The problem is that it is written half in first person perspective from various viewpoint characters, and half in third person perspective. The first person narrative in present tense necessitates attempting to give thoughts as they happen and that's incredibly hard to make natural.
The third person narrative necessitates a divorced perspective, meaning I can't use biased language when describing occurrences...yet I still have to both convey thoughts of characters during some third person scenes, and in addition to that, I have to make the third person segments not be thoroughly utterly boring and bland. While still not using biased language. When two characters are having a conversation in first person, you can use colorful descriptors constantly, and never face repetition. When two characters are having a conversation in third person, your colorful descriptors either bias the narrative...or exist in only limited amount. There's only so many non-biased ways you can write,
That's the story which I was working on prior to Heroes of Gistou, and the story with the second-highest level of potential to be awesome. With Heroes of Gistou--if I could actually write the darn thing--being the most awesome. Heroes of Gistou is the end result of ten years' of writing and real-life experience. It has interesting, unique characters. It has an awesome, original setting I spent hours worldbuilding for. The history of the land is vast. It has a wide variety in cast. Different races, different ethnicities (as many as that setting has at least since that setting has different ethnicities from real life), different sexual and gender orientations. (Especially the latter.)
The writing is good. What writing I've done I know is very high quality. It's basically the best book I will ever write, because it has everything I specialize in as a writer. A solid plot. Character-driven. Very strong, natural, organic interactions. A narrative which is incredibly smooth. Basically, every mistake I've made in my writing was fixed. Every strength I've had in my writing was utilized. It's just that for some frustrating reason, I can't put words to paper. What I have put is awesome. What I WANT to put is just as awesome. But I'm having trouble actually putting the words down for some inexplicable reason.
With that being said.
I could of course reference every power novel I've ever written.
But instead, I actually started this to open up as to my writing.
As I said. I essentially started my writing life on the battleon forums with Disease. It was there that what I was doing essentially between homework assignments morphed from something I wasn't committed to into the passion it has become. As part of a reorganization, all stories prior to 2008 were purged...but I put almost all of mine back after the purge, so they are still available to read.
They were written ten years ago, you must understand.
By a thirteen-year-old. (Actually by 2008 I was getting close to 14, butstill.)
A lot of things, I didn't understand. (Most painfully, why we have multiple speakers in a conversation each start a new paragraph when they begin speaking. And relatedly, why we don't have big freakin' huge walls of text which are solid blocks of stuff.)
I misused words. (Among them, 'yea' instead of 'yeah'.) I had terrible formatting. I had painfully-awkward interactions. Learning to make character-driven stories was honestly one of the last skills I mastered. The first was plot (easy enough), the second was technical writing skills (these took me a few years to hone and refine), with making characters be natural the last thing I learned.
I forget exactly how it happened, but I think the divide can be traced back to when I started writing, me having watched kids shows: cartoons, Digimon, Pokemon, early Power Rangers, the like. So I wrote a lot like they did. Then when I got older, my writing started taking cues from shows like, say...Firefly. In particular, the introduction of snark revolutionized my writing skills, but that took me time to develop.
So! Go in with that knowledge. Most of the stories I'm about to link to were circa pre-2008: as a 13, maybe 14-year-old. The exact chronology of the stories is difficult for me to trace down, as my offline files are chaotic and lack clear signs, and the online versions were reuploaded at around the same time.
They then slowly improve.
But! I wanted to share in a blog post what I was. Maze of Survival (later renamed Maze of Insanity, with Maze of Survival being the name of the sequel) was honestly a bit of a fluke of mine: it was started as part of a school project, where I was playing around in a 3D program (Maya, I think?) my school had, I made a maze, and as was/still is my wont, I made a story of it.
...And much to my surprise.
It was really good.
At the time I made it, it was hands-down the best quality I had to offer. (Not so much anymore, butstill.) So it went from an easily-forgotten story to one of my top ten stories of all time. This was actually somewhere in the middle of my storywriting chronology if memory serves me. The basics of that story was that there was an endless maze underground--within, there were all the necessities to live, from different forms of food (even live game!) to water. The maze had artificially-controlled lights, with some areas always lit, some areas always dark, some areas dimly lit, and most areas having a cycle between them, mirroring that of a day.
One of the main features of that setting was that every person within was, quite literally, being driven insane: something had messed with their brains and turned them psychotic. The worst part being they are fully aware of this, and can do nothing to stop it, merely resist the more "primal" urges. It was an early technical breakthrough and also potentially early character-driven, since it was one of the first stories that...well I honestly didn't know the plot of too well, I just had in my head a direction I wanted it to go.
Master of Blood and Darkness was one of the two settings where I introduced the concept of Blood Masters. (A concept which the Rubyverse imported later.) Godawful writing, but it was the fantasy version, set in my hodgepodge fantasy land I for lack of a better term dubbed Mythe. That particular story revolved around the origins of the seventh grandmaster, with his half-vampire companion.
Specifically, he was a prodigy who was a master of many weapons and was slowly developing a style independent from any of the six established schools of blood masters (each school originating from one of the six grandmasters). In that setting, the blood masters as an established order primarily fought against their evil counterpart, creatures who were once blood masters but used their powers to manipulate the blood of others instead of their own, up to and including in a vampire-like fashion draining their victims dry to mend wounds and extend their own lifespan.
Blood masters had existed prior to the grandmasters, but the first grandmaster slowly gathered an army, comprised not only of bloodmasters, but also of normal humans, and he led this army against any threats to the world, especially those controlled by the evil creature-bloodmasters. And that force slowly expanded to include the other grandmasters. That happened about 10 years before the kid-introduction and 20 or so odd years before the story proper, where he was ordered by one of the grandmasters to investigate a problem within the lands where light never touched (I forget what I named them), and it is over the course of the novel that he honed his techniques and even began teaching others.
So while the story never got far and was of terrible quality, it holds significant historical value as being one of the stories with a long-lasting influence on my work.
The Fight for the Land of Purate is a story I have a soft-spot for. All the names in the story were meant to be taken from the names of things at the table essentially. (In fact, Purate is a butchered form of Plate, changed from two syllables with an 'ay' to three syllables, 'oo', 'aw', and 'ay'.) More than that, it was one of countless settings where the heroes were basically a band of mercenaries hired for some job...yet. What made this story stick out is that at the beginning of the story, they were already retired.
This setting was therefore a bit of a meta one: it was one where the heroes had already gone through the hero journey that so many of my stories focused around, and then years later shown what was happening to them. (One of the principle characters, for instance, was getting married with intention of starting a family, and she only came back at her brother's urging.)
Prime adventuring age is typically seen as late-teens through early-30s; these people were in that upper bound, early to late 30s. Some of them still wanted to adventure for the thrill, some wanted to settle down and use their accumulated riches to live comfortably, some of them just lost interest in the job since they felt they had seen it all. Yet they took on one job anyway, and got to fight one last evil.
Unfortunately, most of the details for the story (I named something like 20 characters and gave them all different specialties and personalities and whatnot) were lost, so I'd have to essentially start over from scratch if I ever wanted to resume writing it.
Gem of Hope, another story set in my Mythe universe (a lot of which got imported into the Rubyverse with modifications), if you actually went through the effort of reading what I have posted there, contains some familiar faces--namely, the characters from Masters of Blood and Darkness, a few years later, when they have already risen to their higher ranks. This story basically featured the climax of the Mythe universe, featuring every modern character in the setting in some fashion.
The protagonist of the story is basically a "rule the world" villain, specifically a necromancer skilled enough in general magical arts to fake being a generic mage, attending a conference (kinda sorta LotR council of Rivendel style) where it is revealed that an evil set out to destroy the world is now at large and recruiting some of the biggest-name villains in essentially a league of ultimate evil.
The protagonist, not being a moron and also being rather fond of the world (wanting to conquer it and all), is very much opposed to that destroy-the-world concept (after all, he lives on it and doesn't want to die because the world went kablooey), and so, incognito, aligns himself with the greatest heroes of the land on their quest to stop the ultimate evil, by claiming the ultimate artifact, the titular Gem of Hope, which requires a very complicated process to obtain.
Of course, writing a story with over 30 (I think the total may have been over 50 actually) characters in it was at the time well beyond my capacity, so I didn't get very far. Still, this was pretty much the first time I had dabbled into Villain Protagonist territory, something which I have always harbored a wish to do more of. (Writing from the viewpoint of a villain is just fun. Which is one reason my prior webcomic had a Villain Protagonist, mind you.)
Tales of a Caster was also within the Mythe universe (eventually anyway). Casters were, in a sense, an in-universe "bastardized" version of necromancy. Necromancy is considered a bad thing, and for good reason, given the whole perversion of life and raising the dead and binding souls business--and basically every necromancer is if not evil, at least "selfish". Now, necromancy if done right will do no permanent harm: when an animated body is dispatched, the soul attached is released and no permanent damage is done. A properly-risen corpse will have the soul used to power it be unable to feel any suffering.
But necromancers still have a taboo: raising a corpse with their original soul within their body, aside from self-resurrection as a liches. Controlling their own corpse, obviously something they will do. But when raising a corpse with their own soul, they have essentially created a fully conscious slave, imparting great suffering, pain, insanity, and even if not, severe danger because if the animated body breaks free (which would normally be impossible but being the same soul in the same body means they essentially have automatic free will), the now-resurrected individual is a severe risk to the whole world.
So essentially, Necromancy is considered a bad thing. It can be used productively, but is generally rightly thought of as being based around dark, evil concepts. Yet even necromancers don't cross certain lines, both because of the risks involved and because even they are appalled at the concept.
...Now. A Caster is basically a modified necromancer, whose magic is based in the light element rather than darkness element. And they? They break the taboo...once. Once, and once only. As in. Instead of raising multiple individuals. A caster will bring back from the dead a single individual. With their original soul. In their original body. And yet have it be a modified link between the two, where essentially they are inter-linked.
The first Caster did this as an innocent accident. He was an innocent enough man, who accidentally discovered this process, and decided to make the most of it. His partner was, fortunately enough, a strong warrior, so the two formed a partnership and the early tales followed their adventures.
The second series of protagonists in the series were later-on, after the casters became an order. It followed a necromancer who, in the heat of battle against an army of paladins, desperately in a bid to save his own life accidentally did this to a recently-deceased paladin he had only just slain. Their partnership was understandably rocky at the beginning, as they were forced to work together in spite of neither wanting it. Eventually, the magical half of the duo learned to accept that he was a caster now, not a necromancer, and the fighting half learned to accept he could still be a paladin even after being risen; the two eventually became the right-hand men of the casters, seconds in command to the founders.
The third series of protagonists (also featured in Gem of Hope) were a caster-fighter pair that had their troubles not because of being casters (because by this point, the casters were established), but rather, because of their background beyond being casters. (Namely, the caster half was the son of a werewolf warlord and one of the strongest evil sorceresses in the land. The fighter half had his demons, too, but I don't remember what they were.)
Basically I worked out that casters, in performing the rising process, shut off their ability to ever perform necromancy aside from the one act of rising someone with their soul in their own body. They are left with the ability to perform light-based magic even if that was not their element before, but at the cost of essentially all other magical potential and most of their physical prowess. The person they resurrect is imbued with innate fighting abilities (though most had this already), augmenting their ability to be a combatant, yet they cannot perform any magic anymore. The process essentially ties their souls together, rather than having them be a master-servant relationship as in necromancy, and this is something which can obviously only be done once and which by its very nature innately requires some level of empathy. (If your soul is literally linked to someone else's, you have a strong ability to understand them.)
So they're not quite "good" necromancers. Just, "bastardized" necromancers. It would be fair to say they are a counterpart to necromancy, in that necromancy is not pure evil just like casters are not pure good. But they are a different concept from good-necromancy altogether I spent a significant amount of time fleshing out (haha) and defining, as to create a unique concept I've never quite seen anywhere else.
The Band of 77 and the League of Mercenaries was...exactly what it sounded like. I created, one by one, literally seventy-seven characters within the band. (No, seriously. One by one I created them all, and their powers, and their backstories, and their personalities.) Their rivals, the League of Mercenaries, were featured prominently as well. They were essentially on opposite ends of conflicts, hired by different sides. The band in its early days formed largely to combat one evil, then when they won over it, turned it into a progressively-expanding mercenary company until they reached 77 members. (Each member more powerful than the last--some of the members in the 50s and 60s, in particular, could solo-fight 20-30 of the earlier members at once and still end up winning. Which is why most of the earlier members ended up retiring from active combat, preferring the more administrative roles: they let the youngers do the actual fighting, and the youngsters let the oldies take care of the boring administration.)
The story would have dealt with them at their prime, with all members active, going into how they were formed, a bit about all the characters, how they joined, their role on the team, their current role on the team if changed, and how they were banding together to fight an evil greater than anything they had fought before, which is how they ultimately ended up working side-by-side with the League. (They ended up merging, leaving a legacy down the line. I believe they too were in the Mythe setting, though I forget what their merged name was--The Band of Mercenaries, maybe?)
Obviously, given the number of characters...it was beyond my ability to make. And the knowledge to make it has since been lost.
Flight of the Golden Firelance was basically my sendoff to about ten years of accumulated things. It was meant as the final plotline story-wise in one of my megaverses. (As in, universes that contain dozens if not literally hundreds of stories written over a course of MANY real-life years. I had at least three; the one this story was a part of was my second-largest.)
Basically, the setting of this story had been built since I was six or seven years old, slowly and progressively added on layer by layer. It started with dragons-versus-dragons, men-versus-men, mages-versus-mages fights, over gems of power and legendary weapons of increasingly-strong strengths. This escalated year after year after year, with several times a near-villain victory, setting nearly reset, setting entirely reset with vague pieces left, ACTUAL villain victory, and the like.
In my mind, I wrote hundreds of stories there. Yet ultimately, a shift happened in the land. Something caused people to not want to fight. Settings began to come together, as sci-fi ships got introduced. Friendships were formed from the most unusual of places. And three individuals obtained literal godhood when they just learned...they. They were just miles above everyone else. (Well technically, one of said individuals was actually a hive mind of about fifteen different people, merged together thanks to the efforts of the most antagonistic dragon in the setting who was nigh-immortal and one of the longest-lasting villains.) Said individuals literally ascended to a higher plane of existence, transcending both time and space, and when a fourth entity joined them, they started dueling each other just for kicks. As in, they had literally no equals and nothing better to do than just fight each other for all of eternity, because each other are the only opponents providing a challenge.
But back on the more mortal levels. Some of the stronger fighters discovered a second plane of existence, which they could go to in order to further their powers above the levels allowed in the physical world. This second plane of existence was formless, in that it had no defined geometry. Large swathes of the land ended up being shadow versions of the physical world, but that was basically the will of the residents.
This realm began to break down boundaries, as entities from other physical realms slowly began to immigrate in as well. When this happened, a third realm, even more distanced from the first, was discovered, and yet again, the strongest of the strong entered. This realm provided even more flexibility in the forms the world would take: the geometry was entirely separate from the first world, forming freely. And even more immigrated.
This was repeated one final time. The fourth realm had zero physical elements to it whatsoever. It was basically a black void. In it, residents were essentially demigods: not quite having the power of the four gods, but being strong enough where they could will almost anything to happen. They spent their time fighting one another because, similar to the four gods...
...That's all they had left. They were too weak to become a god. Yet too strong to do anything else. Once in the fourth realm, there was no returning to the other realms. You could move freely between the physical realm and the second realm. But all who traversed into the third realm were there to stay, except for those who went into the fourth realm, who were then there to stay.
It was a final home, and many began to realize just how empty that existence was. At this stage I had written literally hundreds upon hundreds of stories in that setting (albeit mostly stored in my mind), and this was the end result: the victors had nothing left. They were strong. They were very strong. They had no equals in strength, except each other.
But they were living empty lives--and they couldn't really call it lives. It was the natural consequence of a power creep. They had originally been fighting one another for causes: good, evil. Yet somewhere along the line, concepts of morality had vanished. Instead of fighting for a reason, somewhere, they began fighting to fight. And when that happened, when they sought power for the sake of seeking more power for better fights, for stronger opponents, to face enemies they could never face before...they lost a huge part of their identity, and they knew they had.
(I basically invented a concept similar to One Punch Man a full year before it was a thing, and I've got the timestamp to prove it!)
...But a new realm, Dragojina, was discovered, and this realm allowed them to reset. The realm of Dragojina was structured differently from the realms all these various fighters had come from. It was also populated by civilians, something all of their realms had lacked. (Where they came from, everyone was a fighter for something, or a wizard that helped fighting, or a mythic beast, involved in fighting, or a sentient weapon, which was part of fighting......)
It, in essence, gave them a chance to live. And to rediscover their reason for existing. Flight of the Golden Firelance covered one such individual. His signature weapon was a Fire Lance (hence the name), and yet he gave that up to enter Dragojina. Dragojina was a world populated also by dragons...but not the same dragons which had existed before. Dragons in the first physical realm were physical beings, innately tied to magical objects. Dragons in Dragojina existed more as spiritual, aether beings. They could take physical form, and they could be killed, but they were mostly mystical in nature.
Of course. All immigrants to Dragojina retained some of their latent powers, but we're talking basically the level of reset power-wise that Hiei suffered in YuYuHakusho when he had the jagan eye implanted. Some of the immigrants who retained the most strength were those who had dragon-related powers, as in the new realm of Dragojina, dragons held a heightened level of power. As a result, their latent trace remnants of their previous power placed them at the top of the pecking order among immigrants in raw power. (Albeit still inferior to that of a natural resident.)
Which is why they form many of the early antagonists in the book.
The book was quite ambitious. It featured all of my signature weapons, this being one of my multiverses. The twisted weapons, both as sword, spear/staff, and bow. The hairpin weapon. A few others, too. The main power though lied in the dragons, essentially the ultimate power of the land. (The name Dragojina? Not for nothing!) So the main characters of the main characters were those that bonded with dragons, who decided to take physical form in the form of weapons for their users to wield.
I unfortunately lost most of my notes on the setting, so many of the original characters were lost. I remember the overarching concept well enough; you just saw me outline it. I could recite it by heart, even, because this being one of the multiverses I formed, it is a realm I spent literally half my life crafting. That's not something you forget. It's just the specifics that form the specific story have largely been forgotten. I remember a few key characters, but I had something like 20; I can remember...maybe five? And that's including the final antagonist.
Code of the Mercenary Hitmen was another setting similar to Purate, in that it was actually bringing an end to fighting. That is. The goal of the plot was to bring conflict to an end. Mercenaries had been fighting for years--this was part of the inherent setting, my normal cliche of superpowered individuals fighting each other not quite to the death but within inches of their lives, over and over and over again, in an endless cycle, until something forces them to work together, and band together.
In this case: that cycle was intended to be broken for good. And the mercenaries who end up as the protagonists over the course of the story would slowly become sick of the fighting and more and more invested in the belief they could actually fight for something greater than themselves: instead of it being a necessity, or a convenience, or a contract, because it is for something worth fighting for.
It doesn't look like much, I know it doesn't. But this story was actually one of my earliest philosophical stories. Because it delved into the politics of things, it had worldbuilding done, and the characters involved were basically real people with complex motives who were honestly, genuinely, questioning the structure of their lives and their world as the plot progressed...and that's something I had never done before.
If you want to find the version of Disease which progressed furthest in plot, the most I have posted is this version here. However, I deliberately sacrificed quality for quantity to progress the plot to that point; it contains elements which are not canonical anymore. The most recent rewrite isn't online, but I do have one posted here.
Speaking of rewrites, Darkness Reign was a story with incredible potential I wanted to write more of, but never got around to. This was one of many stories to feature a villain victory and the fallout thereafter (I wrote a lot of those, huh, never realized it until now), but the interesting fact about this story is that the protagonist is actually middle-aged: in his late 40s.
While thanks to cybernetics combined with magical entities (he essentially has gods living inside of him in multiple different forms depending on which god it is), he doesn't look the age, he's got scars both physically and emotionally. The guy's been traumatized very thoroughly.
Everything he had came crashing down around him--and yet, in spite of it all, he ended up living even when everyone he loved died. And he was left with nothing. No army to fight back with. No resolve. He was left a bitter, broken man. And this is our protagonist, because he's being called back into action. He's not the young hero typical of my work. He's the jaded guy who thinks he's entering into a hopeless fight...because he has entered the same fight already and lost.
Basically, this was a story with the incredible potential to show character growth and evolution of a person. I think it needed a complete reformat though: I had the right idea by first introducing us to the character who is trying to recruit him...but I think I made the wrong decision in having her lay out his life story all at once, that this should've been gradually revealed, piece by piece, as we saw how he lived his life, how it was destroyed, and how he is currently handling things: three interwoven periods of time.
The Hunters was one of my earliest strongest stories, being basically the story I was working on just before I started Disease. Notably, at the time I made the story, vampires were a big thing everywhere yet werewolves were basically unheard of. (Yes I know that has since changed but at the time werewolves were quite under-exposed compared to vampires in terms of supernatural beasts. A lot changes in 9 years.)
My werewolves in there came in a variety of different forms, actually. And this setting featured among its quirks: werewolf hunters and elemental magic. The protagonist of the series basically inherited a lineage--his ancestor was a distant relative of one of the first werewolves who attempted to hunt werewolves, yet eventually he went berserk and nearly destroyed everyone he loved in the process. (But a side-effect of this is that those who survived became immune to being turned, among other aspects, forming the foundation of an even stronger group of werewolf hunters.)
The organization in question was somewhat-inspired by Hellsing (I had read the entire manga by that point), but it later was shown that the conflict was more complicated. There was in fact a formal group of werewolves organized and banded together...but they weren't evil. Far from it. (This actually is an element VERY similar to a plot element I used in one of my other major stories which I don't know if I've namedropped but is the one where Brigand is the name of the protagonist.)
Also notable? I believe this was the first story of many to feature a voice within the head of the protagonist--in this case, named David. (Because by that point in time, I was beginning to identify that I had a voice inside my head which wasn't really...well, me. And the name David stuck, so he's still called that, years later.) As a reasonably dark figure, yet having elements of my lighter figure (currently called Ace but back then known just as "my imaginary friend") as well, in a sense a hybridization of the two in the story, for the sake of simplifying my complex brain.
Hunted (not to be confused with The Hunters) I distinctly recall was made around the time my life was going south, fast--it is, to this day, one of the only stories I've written which ends on a downer ending. Namely, every character except the protagonist is dead as he narrates how he got to that point. And he ends the transmission by killing himself, because he's lost all reason to live--he's given up on his cause, and the people he loved are all dead, so he lacked a reason to live, and thought all of the terrible things he did meant he had no right to live.
It is noteworthy for that very fact, though. I've never written a story which got that dark except for this one story. I've had stories which start with the villains winning. But they started with the villains winning, with the protagonist having to deal with the fallout of the post-apocalyptic world resulting from the villain winning. Yet in this story. Everyone died. Except the villain. Who doesn't get away with his atrocities, but ends up locked away for life in a rather luxurious prison...meaning, not exactly a bad end for him.
I think at the time I wrote it, I was basically in the process of giving up on life, and I was deliberately distancing myself from friends. Part of the story dealt with forming connections, in idealism...and then, out of fear, severing them, or watching the consequences of having not done so.
Dragon Mark was made around the time the Inheritance Cycle was still called the Inheritance Trilogy, maybe around the time of the second book's release or shortly before then, even. Or maybe at the time of the film? I forget when. But dragons were on the media's mind about that time. And I was sitting there, reading, thinking, "You know what? I bet I could write better than that." Christopher Paolini was a little older than me when he started writing those books, but if memory serves, I was slightly older than he was when he began writing those books, and I thought, "I could do what he did at that age, only better".
If I had put work into being more creative, I'm sure I would have! But I wasted a lot of potential there.
United Hope is one of my largest stories, which has ultimately been divided into three stories. The first story (basically the prologue of the original story) covers the birth of the protagonist as a hero. It goes into how he developed his nature powers, expanding them gradually over the first third of the book. After the first third of the book, he begins to develop the four elements rather than just the one, as an avatar of all the elements, united in one.
He continues the fight, and by the last third of the book, he has his powers mastered...but he's fighting a losing battle. In spite of having the power of the four elements at his disposal, and in spite of efforts to fight back, in spite of him even teaching others charms (basically how to channel elements even without being an avatar of an element), and all the work they do to fight back, they end up at the end of the book losing.
The bad guy wins. The first book, anyway. This is being recounted by a survivor, almost a hundred years after events had first begun. The world is post-apocalyptic, but legend of this amazing person who fought against the villain and almost won have spread thanks to the efforts of this storyteller, a direct survivor.
The second book picks up where the first left off, shifting to present tense rather than past tense, and follows the protagonist as he returns to life, and now sees the fractured world his failure produced. In his absence, the world is slowly dieing: each of the four elements is slowly losing consciousness, and when all fall asleep, the world will have died. They weren't even aware that they had each produced a new avatar. They had slipped so far out of touch with consciousness that they were unaware that they had each imbued a human with the powers of the protagonist, except just the one element rather than all four. (The first book featured another earth avatar, but he died before the end of the book.)
The third and final book in the series, which is the book to actually inherit the name United Hope (back when I made the thread I didn't have plans for three books like I do now), was the protagonist with his gathered allies basically confronting a force who wanted to put the world out of its misery, believing we were better off with the world blown up.
Memories of the Truth was a breakthrough in my writing ability. To this day, I will not be ashamed to link to it. All of the above? All of them. Literally every single one of the stories I linked to above, I do so facepalming at just how godawful I was back then. For Memories of the Truth, I don't do that. Seriously. Read it. Then you'll understand why I say that.
Years later, and my writing hasn't improved much from back then. (Maybe even atrophying from the skill level I showed there.) Maybe I could tweak little details here and there to make it better. (There's some technical formatting involving bad uses of ellipses and double-dashes, '--', which don't interact well.) But that is basically the story which brought me to my current level of technical writing skill. And it happened literally overnight. I was actually struggling big time to come up with a way to present the story.
I had a good setting idea. Invisible, ethereal beings exist, corresponding to certain elements and being able to influence the environment of their element. Some humans have the ability to see these beings and interact with them--even bond to them. The humans with this special sight also see the world in an entirely different way: they can understand any written language, since their eyes see a universal language instead of whatever is written, so once they learn the universal language which all written words get translated into, they're essentially halfway fluent in all languages. Furthermore, they see all spectrums of light.
I described it at the time as essentially being like imagining the color wheel: think of how the world would be broken into combinations of three colors. Then imagine if there was a fourth color, and literally all colors in the world were changed because of that extra color in the mix. It'd be comparable to thinking the color wheel had only red and blue, then discovering it has yellow on it as well, with yellow introducing colors like orange and green which were otherwise foreign concepts.
This gifted sight is a massively recessive gene: it can be naturally activated by incredibly rare instances, but mostly lays dormant. That dormant gene can be activated, however, by someone who has it passing it on to another when they are about to die, so long as the person they pass it onto has the dormant gene.
Essentially, some people have it naturally, and this natural development can happen to anyone who has the gene on any generation, yet it can be artificially brought forward in anyone who has the dormant gene, at the cost of the life of the person passing it on.
So overall, the population who has this gifted sight remains about the same number. Some people die without passing the sight on to another. Others develop the sight inexplicably. (It can happen at any time, usually some time prior to adulthood but not necessarily so.) A fair amount receive the sight from someone who dies. But the important thing is, there are people who have this sight.
And they can interact with these ethereal beings, Elementals as they are called. Elementals exist in just as many numbers as humans do. They are frequently the source of unexplained aspects of our world: freak accidents. Freak miracles. Freak occurrences. Sightings of the supernatural. Ghosts. The like. That is what humans not in the know would think of the actions of elementals. (Elementals, not being good or evil, just like humans aren't good or evil, have complicated lives.)
The story opens with the death of the protagonist, after his climactic battle with the story's antagonist. This took me a long time to figure out, but I think I managed it well. The whole rest of the book is therefore an extended flashback, essentially his life flashing before his eyes. Starting with him receiving the gift from a girl who was similarly lethally wounded by the story's antagonist.
Honestly the main reason why I didn't continue it is that it was a story that was simply put...too technically demanding on me. It DEMANDED, commanded, a level of quality from me. I produced it in small amounts at the beginning. I didn't have the ability to consistently write at that level at the time.
It also didn't help that the plot wasn't filled out fully. I knew the end result of the story. I knew the beginning of the story. I knew the worldbuilding which would be necessary in the story. I also knew that I wanted it to mostly be slice-of-life...yet still contain elements of action, progressively more and more until the climax. Yet I wasn't sure how to get from point A (introducing to the world with worldbuilding and characters interacting on a daily point) to point B (the need for the characters to actually move forward with a goal as plot stuff happened).
I think I could do both if I tried now, to be honest. But it's a story that I honestly don't give enough love.
A contemporary to that story, and one of a similar skill level:
Art of Flame. The story opens with the villain essentially gloating about how he has won...and he's basically right! You know how in V for Vendetta (at least the film version), there's the whole plot about unleashing a disease on the world which you and you alone hold the cure for because you developed the disease in the first place and as a result you use your cure to rise to power?
...Thaaaaaaat's basically what he does. The setting of Art of Flame involved classes you might see in a roleplaying game: Archers, Rangers, Mages, Martial Artists, Priests, Clerics, Doctors, Fighters, Warriors, Berserkers, Knights, you name it. The key class in question, however, were Healers. Healers, unlike most classes, are not a class you can become; they are a class you are born as.
There are specific properties to genetic classes--namely, if you take the class full-time and honor the class's rules, you receive some bonuses for being a pure, true Healer. However, if you are not a Healer by class (either because you pursued a different path, or in the case of the villain, were expelled from the order), you still inherit some Healer powers. And the villain wiped out every single other Healer, while also developing a disease only a Healer could cure. A disease a Healer-by-genetics could cure, that didn't require the healer to be a healer-by-class.
The prologue is him finishing the process, by killing his closest friends, the last ones standing in his way. It's another one of the stories which I will proudly link to with no shame and say was written well especially for the time and needs more love. This one I actually did more on the plot for, but I never quite worked out all the characters, which is one of the reasons I didn't make more, meaning it had the opposite problem of Memories of the Truth.
The viewpoint past the prologue, if you're wondering, shifts to the son, the protagonist for the rest of the book. He was raised by a martial artist, and develops a fighting style specifically relying on the quirks of his survival (he is scarred by black marks across his whole body, leaving him resistant to heat and vulnerable to cold), and that's the titular Art of Flame's beginnings.
The villain has already put into motion the plan...but the protagonist, as a healer-by-genetics, is quite literally the only one who can screw up the plan. Of course, he has no clue about this--everyone thinks healers are extinct and think the villain is some kind of miracle-worker. He doesn't know about his own lineage. But eventually, he does discover his gift, essentially multiclassing, hybridizing his martial arts with healing to form a 'rising phoenix' style, which is the refined version of his art, the final form his Art of Flame takes.
I know more about the story than that, of course, but I don't want to reveal too much. Basically all of this is pretty much either explicitly stated early-on, or is so obviously the case from early-on that I see no reason to hide it.
Time Light was an ambitious project of mine, simply thanks to the self-imposed challenge: as a story about time travel, I wanted to really emphasize the weirdness factor. So my chosen tense and perspective? Second person future tense. As in, literally everything, "You will". This also had the effect of allowing details to be vague: the protagonist didn't need to have features defined, or even a name, or even a gender. Literally anyone could be the 'you', because the story could be you at any point in time thanks to it being an event which has not happened yet.
I thought it was an absolutely genius mechanic.
Too bad I didn't put in the foresight to actually think up a plot! Well, aside from a couple of interactions. (Namely, one character you the protagonist will encounter is a reasonably experienced time traveler and then you at a later point will be the one who sets that guy off on his time traveling adventures.)
I mean, the characters I thought up were defined well enough. But the plot aside from that was nonexistent, which is why I never got far. I don't even have an antagonist! So if I were to ever resume writing this, I'd need to go back and give it an actual plot.
Hunters Slain (not to be confused with The Hunters, not to be confused with Hunted) was essentially me actively challenging myself to write at a high technical skill. I developed an interesting world, a little on the darker side, but where vampires exist openly yet subserviently. I build some strong characterization, but I just had no clue where the plot was headed. It's up there with Memories of the Truth and Art of Flame in quality (and is a contemporary of them), but I just couldn't continue it.
Descend Into Madness was a short story I wrote. I feel I did it very sloppily, but with some refinement, this might actually be a nice, good, easily-published short story showing how a person can slowly fall apart. I'd have to give it some serious rewrites though.
Just Another Soldier was a really, really strong philosophical effort on my end, and another short story I wrote. With only a little bit of polishing in writing quality, I'd probably publish it. It would need those writing touch-ups to make it be better than it is right now, but I still rather like it.
On a similar vein, Spoils of War needs quite a lot of touching up in terms of writing quality, but is a self-contained dark story covering the philosophies behind war, and more specifically, the losses it can invoke. The title is at first meant to be invoked literally: looting goods. And yet at the end, it is reflected bitterly, as the soldier reflects upon what he has in terms of spoils from war.
Interestingly enough, it was a cointoss between this and another novel for me when it came time to choose a short story I wanted to turn into a full-length novel. The other short story won. That short story is the one I finished my first draft of. That short story turned novel is the only novel I've completed a first draft of, albeit not yet published because it still hasn't had the next draft finished years later.
Still. I thought about continuing the story past the point shown, in this case, dealing with life after the war, and how broken the individual was from it...yet also showing how life would go on. I didn't want to write some stereotypical war drama that I would hate to watch. (You know. Like the Hollywood Drama Films which are produced literally every single year and are nominated for all those fancy academy awards which for the most part I see as utter pieces of trash because if I wanted drama I'd look at my life and a whole film about it is just depressing with no reward. That, I wanted to avoid having the book be. So basically, if I had done this, it would be another instance of me going, "This is how you do it, and do it right.")
I have personal reasons for finding the names I chose for Eternal Darkness be amusing (how the heck did I end up having those two names be used in a different novel in a completely different context? It's the kind of thing which I literally have no clue if it's cosmic coincidence, deliberate usage, or just small name reference pools at the time), but all the same it's a short story I wrote where the villain won.
Unlike most instances, it wasn't at the beginning of a longer book (though I was quite tempted to do exactly that!), but the villain victory here wasn't really depressing. It just seemed like...it was the natural outcome of the events, and not something which was all doom and gloom. It simply was the villain being in a better position than the heroes. They fought, the heroes lost, and that's why I tend to like it. I didn't make it some dramafest as Hunted was. It was just simply, the villain won, nothing fancy to it.
The writing was absolutely abysmal, but another short story I wrote was A True Ruler. I feel like with the right refinement, I could turn it into something interesting to read. It'd still be a slightly-depressing story, but the message of hope would maybe be better conveyed.
Another story I found interesting to write was Two Kings. No, the name of one king was not lifted from Harry Potter. That was just a bad coincidence on my part. The obvious thing I was going for here was a chess motif. So I chose names which sounded appropriate. The idea was essentially a bloody, continuous battle between two kings, locked in an endless war against one another, and showing a glimpse of their struggle. It was practice for battle-writing. I quite liked the concept and think that with some refinement (and probably a name change just to get rid of the annoyance) it would be another one worth publishing.
The series of short stories I most wanted to publish were The Elements of Death. Each story revolved around a person who was, almost certainly (yet often ambiguously), set to die, soon. The first, falling, was loosely "Air". Drowning, "Water". Avalanche, "Ice". A cave-in, "Earth". Desert, either "Fire" or "Light". And so on. And so fourth. There were going to be nine, I believe, in total. Each more descriptive than the last. Each going into more and more detail, covering more and more thoughts, being more and more philosophical, with the last of the nine being the most blunt of them all.
I think that if I ever got around to writing them all, they'd be one of the absolute best things I could publish. But I would in fact need to write them all.
Incidentally, I had a story ramble thread. One of the (many, many, many) numerous predecessors to this blog that even I had forgotten about. It contains a few interesting pieces of trivia, lots of which I imagine is no longer canonical but some of which may be and lots of which contains spoilers. Admittedly for stories I'm likely to never actually finish, butstill.
And my cat's decided now's a perfect time to be on me, so hitting submit now.