I kinda wish I were better at keeping track of what I work on, because in future years I like to look back at my thoughts on my progress on various projects. So here’s an attempt at documenting what I’m doing artistically this weekend. I hope to make this a regular thing.
This weekend’s working playlist consists of Coheed and Cambria, Ambrosia, and in color (Until Further Notice). Eventually added all the Greatest Hits albums I possess to this lineup. This weekend’s working snacks are Crio Beans, Special K Pastry Crisps (Chocolatey Delight), and Nature Valley chewy protein bars (Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate). Chocolate, apparently, is the thing.
Seeing Red audio recording — The way I make them, there are five parts to audio recordings: recording, gross editing, rerecording, fine editing, and effects. Recording is, obviously, reading the story aloud into my crappy headset microphone. Gross editing involves removing all repetitive failed attempts at sentences, random interjections about the story or characters, loud breathing, snorts, sneezes, cat meows, doors opening, and other nonsense sounds. Then I rerecord all the lines I inexplicably read wrong and didn’t catch at the time, most especially when I said “Sano” instead of “Saitou,” a type of mistake I seem to make every sixth time or so a proper noun comes up. Then I work through the file to make sure the pauses between clauses and sentences are the right length and the overall flow sounds good. Lastly, I normalize everything, remove hiss, and boost the overall volume.
I usually work on whichever story I happen to want or need to reread at the moment, doing whichever stage of the process that recording happens to be on at that point. I’m in the gross editing stage for Seeing Red right now. I’ve gotten up through part 19, and damn! I freaking love this story! Why are all my personal favorite Rurouni Kenshin stories coming out now that my audience is gone??
Anyway, the thing is, I’d really like to do Saitou’s dialogue with the Japanese accent he’s supposed to have in the HoHniverse, but at this time I cannot do a Japanese accent. Over the last few days, though, I’ve been thinking about trying to learn one just for the sake of recordings set in this world. I’ve never really tried to do accents before, though I do make some attempt at differentiating voices, but I’d really like to add that level of verisimilitude to my recordings; I love accents. And when I get to recording the New Orleans parts of Confrérie, I’m going to want do to some Yat anyway, so I might as well get started, right? Speaking of Confrérie…
La Confrérie de la Lune Révéré — The order in which story events are described, of course, makes a huge difference to the flow and feeling of that story. I’m annoyed that I’ve gotten so far behind in my Confrérie progress, because I’ve been waffling over which events should be described first at the point we’re at, but I don’t have time to give the decision the time it deserves. Right now I’ve got the Heero/Duo discussion scene in parts 52 and 53, and the more or less simultaneous Trowa/Quatre/Saitou/Sano exorcism scenes in parts 54 and 55, and if I were farther along in writing the story I would have had longer to decide whether I like it that way or whether I want to switch it around.
Of course, if I feel it’s better, I can switch it around later, but the initial presentation suffers when I don’t have time to decide with finality before I post, and my faithful reader may get an inferior experience the first time through if I decide wrong.
See, here’s the thing: there are three major parts to this diffuse story. The business with Quatre’s artifact possession (and the eponymous Confrérie, even though they aren’t mentioned until halfway through) is #1. Heero’s awakening magical talent and its effect on his relationship with Duo is #2. Trowa’s personal/psychological progress (including his growing friendship/bonding with Heero) is #3. The Trowa/Quatre/Saitou/Sano exorcism scene is part of #1, and the Heero/Duo discussion scene is part of #2.
I feel like putting the #1 scene first is a natural continuation and sort of resolution (or beginning of resolution) to the #1 scenario that we’ve been working on for the last several parts. But I feel like putting the #2 scene first instead is a good way to keep up the tension of waiting for that resolution (or beginning of resolution), and also an inclusive way to reiterate the #2 storyline and prevent it from feeling like an afterthought. Plus it’s an immediate continuation of and conclusion to the New Orleans scenes, whereas the other way goes back to California for one scene and then returns to New Orleans for two more parts, which is less smooth. So at this point we have this #2 scene first because I feel like there are more good reasons to have it first. But I may change my mind eventually, and then I’ll be annoyed!!
(I’m writing this part of the post on Saturday, but I’m going to be posting this log on Monday, after what I’m discussing here has already been posted. Whatevs.)
Sano’s Badass Adventure — I haven’t mentioned this project around here yet, so here’s some information before I start updating about it. It’s a game I’m making with RPG Maker, directly inspired by Super Lesbian Horse RPG. I wanted to make the same kind of awesome fanfiction game with characters from something I love having old-school top-down RPG times in an alternate universe where they could engage in humorous character-based antics, conversations, and battles. Yes, there’s already a Rurouni Kenshin top-down RPG, but whatevs. This is different.
You play Sano, an unemployed badass that lives in a village called Sanotown in the kingdom of Romantan and wanders around having badass adventures. During the course of your adventures you can recruit Megumi, Yahiko, Saitou, Soujirou, Aoshi, Misao, Kamatari, Gein, and Kenshin to accompany you (though your party is limited to four members at a time), and each of these characters has a separate quest for you to complete (in some cases before he or she is willing to join you in other endeavors).
At this time, Megumi’s quest and Yahiko’s quest are fully playable, and I am currently working on Saitou’s quest. Government employee Saitou has been assigned to the police force in Keikan in an attempt at dealing with the huge amount of smuggling that’s been going on lately in this crucially placed city at the juncture of two major trade rivers. After you’ve done enough volunteer night patrols for Saitou that he trusts you sufficiently to handle a more important assignment, he recruits you to try to weed out double agents in the police force.
You seek out the six suspects one at a time and, posing as someone new in town interested in joining the police, request that they take you on their night patrols so you can see whether or not a job as a policeman is for you. During those patrols, you try to get information from them that may indicate whether they’re working for or accepting bribes from the smugglers or whether they have some other secret.
I made the mistake of starting with the really chatty suspect. This guy’s got so much damn dialogue that this part of the game has been taking freaking forever to write. Sometimes it gets a little tedious, in fact, and I keep breaking off to do something else, like work on the camping system or design a desert or something.
So right now I’m working on some of that guy’s dialogue. His default name is Ikkinzome, though at one point in the game you have the option to choose names for all six suspects. Here are a few screenshots from the part of this quest that I’ve been working on this weekend:
As you can see, Ikkinzome still has a portrait created in the portrait-builder that comes with the program, whereas Sano has one that I’ve drawn. So far I’ve only drawn portraits for Sano (two emotions), Megumi (one emotion), and Yahiko (one emotion), and I’m halfway through Saitou’s default expression portrait. All the other RK characters have screenshots from the anime, while OC’s have portraits from the RPG Maker portrait-builder (this is VX Ace, in case anyone’s curious).
Substantiated — Another thing I haven’t mentioned around here will make this post even longer as I type up an intro to yet one more project so I can talk about it properly. Future productivity logs won’t require so much exposition and will therefore undoubtedly be shorter. Anyway, remember how, recently, I had a happy little fit about new/previously unnoticed Saitou and Sano content appearing/existing? I was so excited and ecstatic about that, I decided I needed to get back into the habit of regularly writing short stories about Saitou and Sano. I set a goal to post a new short story about them on a monthly basis, and First Kiss was (appropriately) the first.
I have this whole collection of stories about Saitou and Sano that I’ve started and not finished, and another collection of ideas I haven’t even started yet. So I figured that, with so much to work with (in addition to new stuff I think up, which happens all the freaking time), it shouldn’t be too difficult to get a little story done every month. I didn’t mention the goal, however, because I hate trumpeting a project when I fear it may not actually work out. I am pretty busy these days, and the falling-off of RK audience (all audience, really) has discouraged vigorous work in this area, so I’m not entirely confident in my ability to meet even this easygoing goal. But I had to mention it here for productivity log purposes, so there you go.
Substantiated is next month’s story. The plan is to post it on my birthday a week from tomorrow. We’ll see whether I have it ready that soon, though. See, the thing is, these started-but-unfinished ideas are in that state for a reason, and that reason is often that the idea was somewhat directionless at inception, making for a weak story at best or a discrete scene at worst. That was the case for First Kiss, and it’s even more the case for Substantiated.
I don’t mind its having become more a Katsu-Sano friendship story with the Saitou/Sano romance as a secondary or even tertiary focus, but I am afraid that the entire piece and every theme therein is watered down, and the whole uninteresting. And with a posting schedule of any kind — especially one that suggests posting the story next week — I don’t have time to step back, leave it alone for a while, and return to it later less saturated by it in order to determine what I really think of it overall.
This is obviously the same problem I’ve been having with the narrative sequence in Confrérie; NEED MORE TIME. And once again, it’s not difficult to edit or even rewrite later.. but the initial presentation may suffer.
I feel like I’m out of practice writing short stories about Saitou and Sano. Excluding the one vignette Saitology, and not counting the shorter HoH pieces since they go along with the lengthier Seeing Red, I’ve only written long stuff or chapters of long stuff about them for the last few years. And, while I don’t feel like I’m out of practice writing the characters, necessarily, or finding new ways to mess around with them and their interaction, wrapping things up in a tight little package is something I haven’t really done for a while. So it may be a few months (assuming I manage this monthly thing) before I’m really back in the groove. And in the meantime, Substantiated may, in fact, be Substandard. But what can you do?
Actually, during the work I’ve done on it today, I’ve become more confident. It still may be a bit watered down, but I think it will be somewhat cute and enjoyable. I suppose we’ll see. I’ll be editing it all week in preparation for my birthday, and hopefully by next weekend I’ll have my voice back (I’ve seriously been sick for a month, yo) and can make an audio recording, which is one of the best ways of editing something I’m saturated in.
Well, this weekend has been extremely productive, which is really the point of weekends, and I am pleased to have made this productivity log. We’ll see if I can keep it up!