Writing Excuses Homework 10.4

Writing Excuses Season 10, Episode 4: (http://www.writingexcuses.com/2015/01/25/writing-excuses-10-4-qa-on-ideas/)

Take one of the ideas you’re excited about, and then audition five different characters for the lead role in that story. Make sure they’re all different from each other.

For this exercise I didn’t pick one of the story ideas from the previous exercises, rather a short story idea that I am trying to write. I had a conversation with my sibling yesterday, and decided that my main character, Garret, would need a mage traveling with him for part of the journey. I am using this exercise to audition mages for him, and each brings something different to the table, I think.

What I was really interested in exploring was the different motivations that the mage would have for coming along with Garret – so mostly backstory. My next pass would be to explore more the ROAARS traits I learned about in the Writing The Other book and workshop.

ONE: Young male who is just out of an apprenticeship with an older mage. He doesn’t have much power, but has a few areas he is good at (communication, blocking gods), but he would really rather work with creating magic imbued items. He doesn’t like people/ dealing with them, and would rather work with things. He agrees to accompany Garret because of the lure of an opportunity to study the medallion in the hopes of seeing how it works, and maybe reverse engineering it, and kicking off his career that way.

TWO: Middle-aged woman, a refuge of Kendar. In Kendar, all women with the magic spark are required to be clerics, and the men mages. She left Kendar at an early age when she decided she didn’t want to be a cleric. She snuck across the border with the aid of a beloved mage Uncle, who helped her to train. Uncle recently died, and left her alone. She has decided to travel the kingdoms now that she is not tied to her Uncle’s whims, and this job seems like it could be interesting.

THREE: Middle-aged man, who was one of the apprentices / young mages who helped the elder mage to create the medallion. He has second thoughts about leaving something like that with a child (there are better uses for such a powerful object), and is trying to get it back. He found out Garret is a mercenary now, and has been trying to find him. He just found the mercenary camp, and had planned on following the group Garret was leading on their next mission, but Garret bailed.

FOUR: Young female mage who hates the gods. She has twin siblings (brother and sister) and their life was hell as people distrusted them. It impacted the entire family. When she was found to have the spark, she went mage, not cleric, because it was the gods and clerics who made life difficult for her siblings/ family. She wants prestige and power so she can counter the negative impact the twins have had on the family name. She is trying to get practice blocking the gods, so this is a great job for her. She is a mediocre magic level.

FIVE: Older mage who believes the gods shouldn’t be controlled. Dislikes the fact that the priest are collecting artifacts, and once she hears that Garret thinks the medallion was stolen to take it to the priests, she’s in. Her aim is to take it, and destroy it.

Writing Excuses Homework 10.2

For the exercises from season 10, episode 2,(http://www.writingexcuses.com/2015/01/11/writing-excuses-10-2-i-have-an-idea-what-do-i-do-now). I am using the story ideas from both my first and second pass at the 10.1 homework.

The short-hand titles for my ideas are here:

  • Hologram playdates
  • Adopting for Status
  • AIs seeking base code
  • Animal religion
  • Judgemental coyotes
  • Celestial custodian
  • Stardust
  • Binary life
  • The good evil
  • Church for sale

Exercise: Using last week’s five story ideas (or five new ones):

Take one and change the genre underneath it.

The Good Evil — From Fantasy to Contemporary.  Large corporation (& wealth / greedy CEO) aims to make money, and devil may care of the consequences. Its actions, unpopular and highly criticized, and selfish, end up saving thousands of lives and the CEO is touted as a genius.

Take one and change the ages and genders of everybody you had in mind for it

Stardust — Had imagined as middle age man and maybe a 20 something first mate / son. Change to old woman running the Stardust ship, and is doing so with a young girl / stowaway / orphan.

Take one and have a character make the opposite choice.

Celestial Custodian — Woman deity loves a man, and had set him to an impossible task to keep him. She admits she’s in love with him, and sets him free. Her admitting her feelings makes him respect her. Does he leave – she go with him? Does he stay – but it is uncomfortable – what is the consequence of her admitting it? If he stops cleaning the stars – do the stars go out? The universe die? Make the custodian a woman.

Take two of them and combine them into one story.

The Good Evil + Church for Sale — The evil corporation buys a church, and gets all the followers. The corporation tries to use them for its own ends, but it ends up being loved by the parishioners who go out and change the world.

Celestial Custodian + Hologram Playdates — Woman knows her love is dying, and inserts him in holograms where there is a version of her; she gives him an unfinishable task because it is the time out of the hologram that would kill him. But she cannot interact with him, so he lives, but she’s alone.

Could combine the AI stories Binary Life and AIs Seeking Base Code

Could combine the Celestial Custodian and Stardust story


So as you can see, these are still works in progress/ still some stuff to work out on them. So they are not complete ideas, but a place to pick up. And I think some of them have potential with a little more thought.

Writing Excuses Homework 10.1 take 2

So last year I started the Master Class that was season 10 of Writing Excuses, with the intent of posting my homework here. I got as far as the first exercise (Writing Excuses Homework 10.1). I have picked up listening to that season again from the beginning, and am starting the assignments again. Because I already completed and posted the first exercise, I did not do it as thoroughly this time, though I didn’t skip it either. That is, I came up with some new story ideas via some of the methods they suggested, but didn’t do all the methods, and didn’t flesh out the ideas quite as much. My plan is to use a combination of these new idea nuggets and the ones from my previous attempt at tackling this season for exercise 2, which is where I was stymied last time.

So a quick recap of the story ideas from my previous attempt, using handy short-hand titles that I will use in my next post:

  • Hologram playdates
  • Adopting for Status
  • AIs seeking base code
  • Animal religion
  • Judgemental coyotes
  • Celestial custodian

And my new story ideas, with their short-hand titles. These are more in their “gee-whiz” idea stage, rather than full thumbnail that the last ones were, but I am happy with where I am, and happy to be moving on to the next exercise.

Stardust: SciFi story where the main character collects stardust – the particles that are expelled from dying stars – because it is used as fuel (or building materials, etc). It is a lonely job, but necessary for the type of life that now exists. Possible spins: 1) created stardust is potential to create new universe from, complete with it’s own big bang; so a new opportunity for a dying universe 2) “stardust” is the energy created when the magnetic field on the planet is impacted (what would create aurora) – that has been harvested for centuries, but people moving off planet. As people leave, aurora reappear; MC is watching the transition, the beauty of a dying planet.

Binary Life: AIs are doomed to fail because they are based on a binary system – either one thing, or not, built out on itself. They can emulate pretty close, but humans are more complex (eg. brunette, blond, red-head, all in various shades vs: brunette Yes/no; if no Blond yes/no) Getting to the subtleties is much harder. One AI figures this out, and tries to get beyond the base ones and zeroes, and manages to evolve beyond humans who are still stuck in a binary system, essentially alive/not alive.

The Good Evil: Evil saves the world (a la Villains by Necessity), only it does so by being evil. The saving of the world is an accidental consequence of the evil plot it employed to serve it’s own nefarious purposes. Hailed as hero, much to its chagrin. (Fantasy)

Church for Sale: A church is for sale, and someone/ entity buys it to make it into something else, like a bookstore, or medical clinic. The unexpected twist is that the person/entity that purchased the church also inherited all the parishioners who had attended that church.

State of the Christy

There have been many things keeping me occupied of late. Most notably is the time I’ve been putting into watching the TV show Elementary. I had been slowed, at first, by the time it took to get discs from Netflix, limited to only 4 episodes at a time, but  when I first started with the show, I also put my DVR to record all new and rerun episodes. Now I have most of the show that way – but finally, today (after watching about 10 episodes this weekend) finally hit a dry spell where I missed episodes, and must once again wait for discs (though only 2) from Netflix.

I also have resumed reading fiction lately. I re-read the first three books in the Glamourist Histories, by Mary Robinette Kowal. I just got the fifth/ final book in the series, Of Noble Family, and felt I wanted a refresher. I’m currently taking a break from that world to read another new acquisition, Magic Shifts by Ilona Andrews. Prior to these, I was mostly emerged in non-fiction this year, including Moody Bitches, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up (the “KonMari” or Spark Joy method), Clean Cuisine, and The 3-Day Reset.

Today I took a break from both indulgences in media, an begin to apply the KonMari method to go through my clothes. So far I have made it through my tops, pants, and skirts (though really I deferred on these, because I found I didn’t really connect with any of them, but was not feeling in a skirt kind of day, and didn’t want that to impact things). There are some articles of clothing that I’ve been holding on to because I remember why I liked them when I bought them. Taking that extra step to hold each item and thank it for it’s service, for the joy it has given me over the years, has made letting go of things that have survived other such culling efforts easier.

After a Month of Letters, I have done my best to keep up correspondence with those who had written me. I am a little slower with turn-around, but have been increasing my stock of pretty stationary, and one other letter writer even sent me my very own fountain pen.

At work, well, I’m exhausted of April, and have been since Monday.

“But Christy, it was still March this past Monday.”


My focus this month is preparing for the upcoming IR Day at the University of Southern Mississippi, where I am presenting a poster and a 1-hour session. Other recent progress has been made in my policy review, and in my outreach to get new materials (mostly from Undergraduate students – who are poorly represented in the Institutional repository) into the IR@UF

Excited to see Ask Me Another

Excited to see Ask Me Another

Last week I went with a friend, Karen, to see a live recording of Ask Me Another. I geeked out over this. It was a fun show, and it was cool to have faces to go with the disembodied voices I normally get on the podcasts of the show that I download.

Finally, I have  recently have gotten excited about writing again. In fact, I am writing this blog post as an warm-up to a story I want to write. I am participating in a writing session with other writers via google hangouts.

So overall the state is mostly positive, if tired. I am finding my way back to my word for the year, intentionality, though that is something I would like to be more aware of on a day-to-day basis.
And I know this post is a bit rambly, but that’s how my mind is right now, and rather than put off posting yet again, I figured an unpolished/ unfocused post might be what I need to be able to move past the guilt I associate with not posting in a while.

wallpaper of PPG Christy with a cat

A Power Puff Girls avatar created at www.powerpuffyourself.com