Wandering Fortunes Chapter 24 is up!

Wandering Fortunes Chapter 24: I Love a Parade!

Wait. There’s a love plot?

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Now up, Wandering Fortunes Chapter 23: Friends Don’t Let Friends Rot in a Basement

The new chapter of Wandering Fortunes is up! A new forest! New friends! New eats! Fashion? And something only seen before in previous novels. Chapter 23: Friends Don’t Let Friends Rot in a Basement features Top and his friends meeting some new friends in the Salenth Kingdom, and in the process help a new friend make something of their life. It also features a song by Top!

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Character Recurrence in Novels

Something I’ve noticed when reading old Charles Dickens novels is that many stories of his have some character who appears early but is gone after a few chapters. They’re named but they’re not really important, and they disappear and are forgotten soon after.

And then 80% of the way through the story they return, out of nowhere, and it’s mentioned they knew this one character from the beginning of the story. Does this happen in stories anymore? I’m particularly thinking of Dickens stories that take place over a character’s whole life, which is actually probably most of them, but this is something I tend to notice a lot in Dickens books but not so much in more modern tales.

It’s an interesting part of stories. I’m holding things like this in reserve for the Cloudy Cuckoo Cosmos as a series, though that’s over multiple books where a character who appeared in one might appear unexpectedly in another, and that’s more notable for full-series readers than having a character return in a single book.

What started me thinking on characters returning within a single book was a chapter I was editing recently. My original draft had the main character meeting with some unnamed characters for a conversation just for a bit of world building, but there really wasn’t anything to it. As I’ve been working on a lot of story notes regarding characters related to where this meeting took place, I realized a couple characters who’d appeared earlier could easily appear instead, connecting the world and time in the story more. These don’t appear at the beginning–not until more than halfway through, in fact–but it’s still a bit of an “oh yeah, them!” moment.

The weird thing about Wandering Fortunes as you can see with what chapters I’ve put up is the second half is a different planet. With an entirely different setting, there’s not much call for characters from the first half coming back. My fourth book will be a little like that too, in fact. But in future books this happenstancing of old character return meetings is something I might experiment with. It’s probably easier both to do and make significant if it’s planned from the outset, and I do write outlines before I write stories, but in the case of Wandering Fortunes the meeting was both added in the editing phase and spur of the moment.

Character Creation: Random Element and Character Interaction

(what am i actually doing this okay here we go)

CHARACTER CREATION! For most, this is no mere hypothetical. The Latin Alphabet is composed of 27 characters… or is it 26? 14?? I don’t know. But this is irrelevant. I am referring to characters in a story. Most stories have them. Stories that don’t exist may even have them. Stories that don’t exist as well. These two sentences are saying different things. Where am I going with this? WELL. Even the shortest, saddest story has characters, even if some of them are dead. Do baby shoes count as characters? Well, that depends on what kind of story you’re writing. Has anyone ever written from the POV of the baby shoes?

Longer, more involved stories, novels particularly, have a lot more characters, some of them even named! These characters are usually dealt with for so long that some backstory is in order. Sometimes it’s as simple as where they were raised; other times it’s a dark and brooding history of death and loss and that’s why they have this scar and this edgy haircut and wear a mask.

But in my case, I don’t just don’t have involved stories, I have an involved figgin universe. Lord of the Rings had a lot of history and only a few books. Discworld had over 40 novels and quite a bit of backstory, but I’m not sure how much. I forget if Rincewind’s parents are ever mentioned. But many writers, especially of a series with multiple books, write more backstory than ever gets mentioned in books. Having all this solidified lets the writing be more consistent; you won’t have a character mention their childhood on the farm and then in a later book we meet their high-profile business consultant parents. No, you decide early on their parents are owners of a taco stand, and you stick to that. Well, unless you come up with something better later, but then you have to make sure it doesn’t contradict what you have written into books, unless you just don’t care, because honestly, are we sure most readers are gonna care?

Anyhoo, how does character creation work? Well, you start out with a setting and generally have an idea of what kind of character you need. Meek accountant? Beefy accountant? Clownish accountant? Someone who’s not an accountant?? Maybe a small business owner who shows kindness to the protagonist, or a small business owner whose churlish attitude just shows them further how dismal the city they’ve arrived at is. A military general to fight in a war, or a cool kid friend to balance the nerdy friend. There’s lots of characters to choose from, and the general idea isn’t that hard to start from. Then you do a whole bunch of stuff like names and design that I don’t want to talk about today. I am going to touch on it, though. Because:

RANDOM DECISIONS: So the thing is that in real life a lot of peoples’ information is arbitrary. Not always–names might change based on who their parents are, date of birth might make when events in their life happen different, gender probably changes stuff. But for the most part a character can have any number of these things and still basically be the same. How do you decide? Um I just pull up a random number generator and let it decide for me. Names I’ll usually look at a list of names and choose one at random but like, date of birth? Random number. Gender? Random number (and yes, that’s on a spectrum–depending on the number, this character may be trans!) Do you need glasses? WELL YOU DON’T GET TO CHOOSE IN LIFE IF YOU NEED GLASSES, SO I WON’T CHOOSE FOR THESE CHARACTERS. Maybe. I have different species and some have naturally better eyesight. Maybe better eyecare is available for the affluent? You know, I use random number generation but still pull things in various directions.

And then there’s character interactions. Characters interact with other characters, usually, and having a backstory means they meet other characters. Once again I use a random number generator to go through my list of existing characters and find out–have they met in the past? If so, when? From this I get a clearer idea of a character’s history. (And in one case got a potential short story idea for the future!) Once I know who they’ve met I determine who they’ve met long enough to get an opinion or history with, and then–you guessed it–RANDOM NUMBER GENERATION. I get a random number, and the better the number, the better their relationship.

So for example, a group of senior generals for a kingdom’s military. Get a variety of personalities, some good, some bad. Maybe use RNG for this, maybe not. One of the generals is a nice guy, very jovial, everyone loves them and they’re one of the most personable generals. They have a family, they’re well-known and respected, and then as you’re grabbing random numbers to determine their relationship to characters they’ve met their spouse rolls a ONE. This loved character has the worst possible relationship with their spouse.

And so that’s how a well-respected, noble, adored general is secretly beating their spouse.

Not all is well in random number generation land. Sometimes it makes characters and settings harder–harder to figure out, harder to write. But realistically? I think adding the random element makes it more real. And it adds another dimension to a character and their history that wasn’t there before.

I mentioned characters meeting other characters in their past, and I’m actually going to talk about that more next week. After all, once you’ve put all this work into a character, why only use them once?

Wikify the Encyclopedia

I’ve spoken before about the creation of an encyclopedia to keep track of your novel or novel series’ world. I had an entire series about it on some website, Obscure Authors Alliance I think, the website itself is even more obscure than the authors now so whatever. My own encyclopedia for the Cloudy Cuckoo Cosmos was all put in a Word document. I started with a rather random assortment of information, moved on to entries for species, organizations, characters, and locations, then ended with some random lists. The document became like 200 pages long or something and it was nigh-impossible to efficiently look through it.

I needed a better way to do it.

What about a wiki?

I mentioned I was putting everything on a private wiki earlier and that I would make this post so now I am. I actually have some weird wiki experience, having made one with some friends a while ago for our fan universe. This new one is private and not for a fan universe. It’s for my universe. And it helps immensely with organization. I fully recommend anyone creating their own universe put it all into a private wiki for easy access and organization of information. You might even find it easier to come up with new details when it’s so easy to find existing ones.

When I was trying to find a good program to use I checked Wikipedia’s personal wiki article. I probably should’ve tried all of them before going with one for sure but I didn’t feel like it and am always too busy so I just went with Dokuwiki on a Stick which is apparently its real name. It’s worked fine so far. Some of the syntax is different than what I’m used to (but apparently it’s the syntax MediaWiki uses so whatever) and it needs some extensions added for things that should be pretty obvious like categories, and also it has a bit of the problem of public programs made by coders which is that it can be obtuse to anyone who doesn’t code (like me) but it’s not too bad. I mean, I figured it out! See?

Okay. Okay. Okay. So on the Word document I just basically had one chunk of text with a few paragraphs smushed together with each paragraph being a different section (history, appearance, etc.) This was terrible, and for longer things, such as species with an actually notable history, it was terrible to look at because it was just one paragraph per section. It was… you know how dinosaur is like “terrible lizard” or something? What would be the name for “terrible paragraph”?

Anyway, having actual sections sectioned off for each section means I can use actual paragraphs now. It’s readable. And whereas before I could really see no more than one or two entries at a time and had to scroll the giant document to find them, now related articles can be reached right from a link. I know this is basic wiki information but I mean come on it’s really figgin useful!

So far the most time-consuming thing in transferring all this information onto the wiki is the formatting, but as I go I’m finding there are things that I never really detailed on, things that are easier to notice I never wrote down now that I can easily look at it all. Species culture, including any possible common religion, is but one of these. Eating habits is another. There is also a lot of information that I would put in lists, such as blood color, that I probably should have mentioned in the species entries. So now I do. Characters of a certain species is another example.

Honestly the Word document also got incredibly disorganized. At the start was a lot of information that should have gone elsewhere, such as planet histories, and for some reason I tucked a list of planet flora off near the bottom instead of actually in the entries for those planets.

With all this information in the wiki, I’ll be able to see a list of everyone who lives somewhere and simply click their name to see who they are. Before I’d have to like, put their name and then probably what species they are or some other identifying characteristic because honestly I just wouldn’t know, that’s why I write this stuff down so I can look it up, but I couldn’t effectively look stuff up in that document!

AAA

The character articles are probably the biggest relief of these. There was a lot of information I packed into places that it didn’t really fit in an effort to reduce the size of those terrible paragraphs on the Word document. Now they get their own section! I also never was really able to detail a character’s family in their sections because it was about them, but again, now a specific section for that can exist.

Being able to have specific sections also helps in looking up those specific things—before I’d have to scour their history for where they lived, but now I can just check the actual section for it. I’ve also started work on a properly-organized timeline article, which set me into determining just what the birthdates for all the characters are, so I’m not sure I can stress enough that having this be organized goads me to actually get more information made. Now I can tell when Ropak’s birthday is in Wandering Fortunes! Er, not that he can.

There is actually something of a timeline for a couple kingdoms in the CCC that haven’t appeared yet in the old Word document. They’re both too long to look through well and have a giant line of the kings and queens that is confusing to look at. This will, again, now only be vastly improved in the wiki format, but I can make the names of all these rulers link to pages that don’t exist, and when I find I don’t have anything important to make articles for, I can start really detailing that history. The red links to nowhere significantly help me see what parts of the CCC I still need expand on.

So I reiterate at this point in this post that I recommend organizing any world you’re creating for something into a wiki, especially if it spans for more than one something. Especially do it before you have more than 100,000 words worth of information to transfer over to it like I do…

Wandering Fortunes update Chapter 5: Wonder of Fortune

Wonderful! The fifth chapter of Wandering Fortunes is here, and it introduces our third main character, Ropak! It is he who sets off the story’s main events, and it is he who introduces us to the story’s second species, the wrallot. I’m excited to finally get Ropak into the open so we now have our three main characters for Wondering Fortunes. Let the good times roll! For us, anyway. For our characters, ehhh…

Don’t forget that patrons of $3+ get to read chapters early. Chapter 6 will be available for them in mid-May!

I also should have some Darmenzi news soon. For reals this time!

I’m also working one everything oh gourd I’m so busy what if I just play video games for several hours instead

Darmenzi Chapter 12 is up!

Whoops, completely slipped my mind yesterday. Didn’t help that my sleep schedule got a bit wonky. Here’s chapter 12 of Darmenzi, A Slight Change in Plans. Some explanations are given, some guys are checked up on, and, well, there’s a slight change in plans.

Those who pledge to my Patreon get to read the next chapter half a month early, plus they can get copies of my novels, something that can actually happen in about a week when Slubes finally rereleases on the 10th. That madness is soon coming!

Creature Profile: Slube

I think it’s about time I get down to dedicating a blog post to explaining just what a slube is. So, just what a slube is? Quoted from the species appendix in Slubes:

“Slubes are a species related to the banana slug with bright yellow skin, two big eyes resting on their heads, and snouts like two stacked baguettes. They have long bodies that end in tails that are difficult to distinguish from the torso. They live almost exclusively on islands in the southern hemisphere of Mintop and are largely ignored by most of the planet. Their average lifespan is about 80 years.”

Physical Characteristics

Slubes are gastropods. Like how humans can see our relatives in chimpanzees and gorillas, slubes are relatives of the banana slug. Slubes are bigger and more athletic than slugs though, rather like how humans are with gorillas, except the opposite of that. Then again, it’s no contest with slugs, but gorillas? Oh geeze.

The outward appearance of the slube, as quoted from my personal encyclopedia: “Slubes have an oval head with two big eyes resting on top and a snout that extends outward like two baguettes. They have no teeth and no visible nose. Their bodies are rather long and end in a tail that’s about half as long as their torsos. They have two arms and no legs, and it is almost impossible to tell where the torso ends and tail begins when a slube is lying down, as the tail is more of an extension of the torso. Most slube clothing (consisting of a single item that looks like a shirt) ends just before the tail begins. Slube skin color is a bright yellow.”

Now let’s go into the inward characteristics. It may start getting gross, oh boy!! As mentioned, slubes have no teeth, but their throats have a layer of slime that slides most things ingested easily. Yes, that’s right, slubes don’t have to chew their food. And they have slimy throats. Yay! They have no bones, but instead a more cartilage-like substance throughout their body makes them flexible and squishy.

So far we’ve used the terms slimy and squishy* and established slubes don’t chew their food. WHO WANTS TO HEAR ABOUT SEXUAL CHARACTERISTICS!! Wow nobody?? I can wait ten years. This is the internet. In a decade someone will read this and then send me an email asking for intricate details.

Okay but seriously, I’ll just briefly go over the egg cycle or something. Slube eggs actually remain in the female’s tail for most of the cycle; this would be equivalent (wait, that’s how you spell equivalent?? really?? seriously, english, what is wrong with you. I hereby declare equivilant to be the new spelling. No wait, equivilent. No, equivelint. No, pineapple.) to human fetuses being in the legs/feet, so not surprisingly, during this time the slube has difficulty moving. In the final stage, the egg usually pops out and hatches within a few hours.

Fun fact: None of that appears in my novel, nor does it appear in my next novel. In fact, I currently have no plans for it to appear in any novel. It’s in my encyclopedia just in case I need it! Because you never know—maybe it will appear in a novel!

… Whoops. This was supposed to be a brief overview. Uhh. Next time I’ll try not to go so in-depth. I mean, next time I probably won’t really have as many details, since the slube is one of the more fleshed-out species in my encyclopedia. Well, it’s about in the middle, really. I know. There’s some with far, faaaaar more than you see here.

Slubes reach maturity around age 20 and have an average lifespan of about 80 years, with deterioration of the body beginning rapidly around 70.

History and Culture

As is mentioned in Slubes, slubes come from an island called Flaeneath that was ravaged in a war thousands of years ago. They left the island and arrived on Hackney, where they formed a settlement, Nottle, which remained small by many slubes going to live in nearby, more diverse settlements.

Regarding the planet Mintop as a whole, the slube is almost completely ignored. Outside of Hackney and the nearby Interp, slubes are not even a footnote in the history and culture of the planet. Even on Interp they are few and far between, and there they have a reputation for being simple and primitive.

So that’s the slube. Related to an animal we humans use to name insignificants, considered by some to be simple, and completely unnoticed by the rest. So who else was I gonna focus on? Anyway, I’ll try to keep doing one of these each week on Sundays; next week, the main area of Slubes.

*Oh, yeah, and slubes aren’t slimy on the outside like slugs. They’re really quite smooth! Look, I’m just trying to say that they’re not gross on the outside. They’re gross on the inside, sure, but so is every living creature. EVERY. LIVING. CREATURE.