Red Whale: Quick Update

On Reddit Fantasy a topic about National Novel Writing Month emerged. Writers everywhere started posting stuff about their work-in-progress. I’m still waiting what exactly comes out of the blender out of all the random stuff I put in the Red Whale. Yet, I gave in, and posted something real quick about the “Year of the Red Whale.” Might as well update it here too for the world to see.

Tyrant emperor turned beggar turned criminal thug, burns empire that starts a world war but he doesn’t give a damn cause he’s busy squaring off against necromancers, witches, and basically everyone else he pissed off while he was the emperor.

That’s a mouthful. I probably could have come up with something better, but I didn’t want to write a sales pitch, just to bring out an idea into the open. My original thought for this novel was to set it at 120K words, then it got reduced to 80K. Having recently scraped much of the material, I feel the sweet spot is going to be between 90-100K. This is, if the plot went out of its way again to complicate things. I could revert back to 80K if I manage to control everything and keep the plot simple.

Now, with this shenanigans over, I’m off back to writing.

By the way, this is Ryukahr, my favorite Super Mario YouTuber/Twitch streamer. Give him some love, will yah?

On a side note, here’s Hayley Williams of Paramore doing a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Everywhere”


Red Whale: Year One Draft

I started writing “Year of the Red Whale” around October, to participate in NaNoWriMo. I made it to 40K words before the month ended, progress that I’m proud of. Since then I barely made it past the 50K-mark, getting stuck on multiple dead ends. The plot thickened to a messy pile of goo. Then all sorts of ugly things started spawning from said goo after trying to patch things up.

I didn’t think much of it until January. The Red Whale was a NaNoWriMo project, not the main WIP, but still it had ended up as my top priority novel to work on. I kept putting deadlines for myself to complete the draft, after all as a journalist I’m trained to submit on time, but I keep letting myself down. The solution was to get back to the main WIP, Project Ashes, but I couldn’t just let go of the Red Whale and busied myself over it.

Now, a year later, I’m still stuck, making no decent progress whatsoever. I had renovated a lot of scenes and redone several chapters. Nothing helped.

Finally, the nuclear option: Change the entire plot. Keep some scenes, some chapters, some characters, but turn things around. It worked. The pace changed, a lot, and I had to remodel my writing style. I had to cut down some action scenes and then add more action scenes. It feels like a brand new work-in-progress at this point, really. My only issue is, should I add more POV characters? There’s a lot going on, but the only thing that matters comes from the protagonists. So there is that to consider.

My final deadline, I hope, is on December.

Since it’s November and it’s a season for Stranger Things, here’s a Alice Cooper “No More Mr. Nice Guy.” I’d put “The Man Behind the Mask” instead, but, meh.

Now, this is my type of galaxy

One of my bosses in my day job was invited to an event in Singapore to learn more about Samsung’s newest tablet, the Galaxy Book.

It’s a device that’s designed to go head-to-head against the Apple’s iPad Pro and Microsoft’s Surface Pro.

I got my hands on it for a little while and the first thing I noticed was how heavy it is for a tablet. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good portable device and lighter than laptops. And, according to my boss, comes with its own stylus and keyboard, unlike Apple where you need to get the Pencil and the Smart Keyboard separately. 

The keyboard that ships with the Galaxy Book is without its flaws. But it’s something you can really type with on the get-go. From my experience, the early moments of the Surface Pro and the iPad Pro’s keyboards were a little jarring and I needed to get used to it, much more than other foreign keyboards I’ve worked with. It also has those satisfying clicks whenever you punch them down.

It also runs on a Windows 10 platform, something I’m familiar with. Though it’s likely 1000x susceptible to malware infection, depending on your online activities. But that’s more of a cybersecurity matter. 

In Philippine peso it’s priced around 40K, about a little more than $1,000. It’s almost carries the same price tag as an aged Apple MacBook Air, which I still consider a really damn good typing machine.

In any case, I like the Galaxy Book. Consider this Certified DAMN!

Press release follows:

The Galaxy Book is Samsung’s latest offering in the workbook segment boasting of combined power and mobility for the go-getters. Working on the go will be a breeze as this workbook is powered by Windows 10 Operating System, pre-installed with a Microsoft Office Suite, and comes with a full-keyboard cover case.

If you’re one who loves taking notes down old-school style, you will surely love the S-Pen. The Galaxy Book’s Advanced S-Pen has a fine 0.7mm pen tip for precise note-taking and drawing. Its high-pressure sensitivity provides a realistic writing experience that will surely delight he writers out there.

The Galaxy Book also helps you keep that corporate style on point. No need to lug around your bulky laptop in that extra bag. This new innovation comes in an elegant all-metal body–only at 8.99mm thin, and lightweight at 648g.

The Simple Advice

I’ve been writing stories since I was in the third grade, I think. I started with horror stories and the following year I ventured to my first fantasy story, which was a bland ripoff of some science-fantasy anime I used to watch.

Anime and film had been my inspirations. Books were never a thing for me until I was much older. So in my younger years, I basically skipped the basics, and did a bunch of experiments I thought at that time were brilliant.

In the end, there were not at all that great. Fast forward a few years later, my first books were Harry Potter one to the “Order of the Phoenix.” I had, at that time, also read “A Game of Thrones” and “The Gunslinger.” And I thought I’ve learned a lot from those.

The first ever epic I’ve written was called “Dragon Wars,” I was in my third year high school, and I’ve gone halfway through it before deciding to show chapters to some friends and to my grandma. Of course my friends liked it, of course they did. Grandma liked it too, so, of course she would give me a pat on the back. However, she added, “You should explore more on writing simpler sentences.”

I refused. I wanted to be eloquent and dramatic! I was thinking, she didn’t get it. She hadn’t read the books I’ve read, which were, what exactly? Harry Potter, Thrones, and Gunslinger. Nah. I wanted to write shit sentences like, “The susurrus of thousands of leaves rustling in the cold and violent night allowed him to see through the prestidigitation and blahblah.”

In short, I was a thesaurus whore, thinking the more complicated words I used, the more lyrical and more poetic my words would sound. I only realized I’d look like an asshole. I looked at Rowling’s books and King’s, and found that all they ever used in their stories were simple words. Words that paint images as soon as you read them. George RR Martin’s prose is just as easy to read, he never used words that would make you flip through a dictionary, or make you pause to wonder what the fuck did that word mean.

As my readings expanded, I learned that most authors just use words so simple, the story moves on in a fluid and comprehensive pace. And it’s a wonderful experience to go through that phase. The problem is this, it’s how you construct the sentences, how you piece together these simple words to bring out readers’ imaginations.

Later I started reading a bunch of books about writing. There’s a lot of useful advice out there that can inspire writers. But I found that “The Elements of Style” by Strunk and White to be the best source for writers, because they teach you the most basic form of writing from which you can build upon your own voice.

It’s a lesson I’ve learned the hard way as works I’ve been so proud of were crushed or dismantled by beta readers and critics. It’s an experience worth going through and I like to think that my voice has grown over the years. But I’ll never forget that aspect, where you need to write with simple words to build a story that every reader can understand.

Innards #14: The Vault

A new and big idea has decided to settle in my head. This intrusive idea arrived this morning, knocking politely in my hollowed skull, and what did I do? I let it in. I entertained it. I gave it a glass of water, fed it, and before I knew, I had accidentally nurtured it. 

Oh Cthulu… 

It’s something to be proud of and yet, something you shouldn’t. Oh wow, you got a fun new idea, neato! Yes, it is neat. But what’s not neat is me unable to finish a single manuscript.

This new idea is a reminder that I’m dragging behind while all the cool stuff is piling up. And quite frankly, the more I hold off those ideas the more they become stale. And I do not want stale bread and I certainly do not want my cheese all moldy. 

I forgot how many “Projects” I already have out there. “Ashes” and “Dark” are definitely going after Red Whale. Then there’s the matter of “Tunnel Crow Town” and Project Ghosts, which is going to be really big. There’s also Project Sherlock that needs to be written after “Ashes” and between “Dark” because the latter two are so damn depressing. Oh, there’s also Project Hunter, my planned YA books, and then well, there’s the new idea that happens to be YA. Oh, I’m not done yet. There are multiple horror anthologies being written and then Project Starkiller, which is as big as Ghosts. Oh, I forgot my 2010 baby, “The Conductor” and my 2005 sweetheart, Shards. 

There’s a few more, like projects Apples and Valentine, and my nose is itchy to write a classic High Fantasy with a bit of twist. Then ther are a bunch of novellas. So yeah. In short, I’m screwed. I need to catch up or else the world will roll all over me.

A friend of mine said I may have writing ADHD and from exhausting all my projects like that, I can see why. 

In the meantime, the Red Whale is cruising along, almost done but with a lot of holes that need more than a few patches to fix.

Now I stop this and onwards to writing!

Halfway there

Yup. I am halfway there. Almost passed that massive brick wall that had been staggering my progress. Just need to smooth a few things and production speed should soar.

On top of that I’ve been writing something I shouldn’t even be bothering about. I still have Projects Ashes and Sherlock under development, but like I said, I just can never learn. My friend has been pushing me back and stick into completing the Red Whale. I did not make it to my personal deadline so I’m setting another one in April.

Second week of April should be my deadline with a completed manuscript.

The roadblock had been my unconscious way of making things too complicated. The Red Whale story should be straightforward with just enough twists to keep things interesting. It took me almost two months to finally get those chapters right and no amount of rewrite felt good enough. So I removed them. Six long chapters goes to the trash bin. Nope, not shelved to be used later, trashed them. They just weren’t going to work no matter what. The new characters I introduced in the chapters and some backgrounds will be recycled in another form though. After that bloody ordeal, progress started working again and things finally made sense.

I think I owe it to Marie Lu, author of “Legend.” I started reading last week “Young Elites” and was immediately hooked to finish “Rose Society” and “Midnight Star.” Those stories were, pretty much like Pierce Brown’s “Red Rising” trilogy. The stories were straightforward with just enough twists. Not too complicated. Designed for awesomeness. After reading “Midnight Star” and soaked through all the emotion there, I did a quick reread of “Morning Star” and those paved the way.

Now that this mess has been cleared up, as mentioned multiple times already, the Red Whale is on the go!

Light Up the Night

My wife once told me how envious she was on my life. That at a young age I knew exactly what to do with it. She wasn’t alone. We had a mutual friend, who said the same thing to me. I have friends who feel the same.

I couldn’t have been more than 11-years-old when I thought I’d set sail, determined to become a journalist. Somehow after staying tuned on National Geographic than at Cartoon Network had some sort of influence on me. Because it just hit me that the world is a massive place and there many fantastical and absurd things to see. And there was it. I wanted to travel and see the world. Not the Carpe Diem, penny-less, reckless, pursuit-of-life bullshit. Something more as a passion-driven profession, where I’d get to travel and write all about it, and get paid.

The truth is, being able to work on videogames is the first thing I really wanted to do. But my brain couldn’t comprehend coding and I keep feeling stupid whenever I try to study it as hard as I could, plus the severe lack of resources back then. (It is only recently that gaming industry is gaming traction from where I live.)

So I set out to become a journalist. Because it involved writing and I’ve been writing short stories and games stories ever since I’ve played “Super Mario World” and writing about games was the closest thing I could do to make them.

In my past five years as a journalist, I have been to Thailand, Malaysia, China, Taiwan, Singapore, India, and Indonesia, for numerous times, each exploring another part of the country where I haven’t been before. I think, it’s a little hard to tell which one had been the best. There was that one trip to Singapore, where all 12 of us media friends sat at dinner, being loud and obnoxious, singing the theme song of Captain Planet. Holy shit, right? Then there was my first visit to China, to Beijing specifically. I scaled a tiny fraction of the Great Wall, sailed along the Yellow River, saw the faces carved from mountains – two emperors, whose names I forgot, and then, the best of all, Kung Fu training where the tour guides made us dress up. The twist here, had been the bus drop out was in a massive tourist location, and there were people all over the world, looking at us, taking our pictures. We had to walk over an hour, to get some basic training, and then, a little more walking, we got to watch actual martial artists practicing Kung Fu in its full glory.

The stuff you see in films where dozens upon dozens of rows and columns of children going “Hiya! Hiya! Hiya!” are true. It was a thrill.

Then of course there is that first travel, to Bangkok, Thailand. Where the gracious phone maker company treated us to a very sketchy massage place. At first we all though, ah, okay…. All the people that will be doing the massages are all dudes, so, for half of us guys, are like, okay that’s a little better. For a moment there we all thought we were being forced to do something illegal.

Then each of us were ushered to our separate rooms, a blank, boring room, with a lone mattress on the floor, and a bright red light on the ceiling. Holy fuck, what have we gotten ourselves into?

It all turned out well. We’d hear the occasional scream from the other room, and someone from the other room would shout, “Hey you okay?”

It was a legit massage place, long story short and the most amusing tale that night was this really hot girl that were with us, got a little bit of unwanted extra attention. Nothing terrible happened to her. She just managed to laugh it off. This is a tale best saved for another time.

Later that night, we were on a cruise ship along, from what I recall, is called the River of Kings. We passed by underneath a bridge, with a couple of Thai people waving at us, shouting something. It could have been “Hi!” or “Fuck you!” I don’t know. It was nice and sweet and tourists waved back at them.

I started a blog before going to bed. A travel blog, because, this was it, my moment to write about the places I see. I don’t know what happened to be honest. The blog died before it even took off. I started a second one for book reviews and that went nowhere as well. A few months after that, the Visceral Writings WordPress blog came to life, originally designed to document my writing progress.

I think I realized too late, no one really gives a shit about reading the behind-the-scenes of how a novel came to be. Especially from a no one such as myself. I thought about spicing it up by putting in writing advice. Then I realized, that was stupid. Who am I, to give proud advice to other writers? We’re all equal and on the same boat. Inspiration and motivation? Maybe. Yeah. I suppose that’s alright. But it’s not enough of a reason though. It only made me look arrogant.

Look, I’m not saying I will start handing out advice if I become a better writer. There are tons of writers out there that are doing a better job. My work pales in comparison in mostly everyone else that I know and anything I put on paper continues to be criticized to no-end. But it’s cool. I’ll keep on writing.

I suppose the purpose of this post is simply to make it formal. I’d like to jump start the travel writing thing while I still can. So this blog of an aspiring author will now write about random travels every now and then. I’ll try to recall some of my past visits and write about them too. Keep on trying new stuff and all those ridiculous stuff.

All I’m saying is, most of my life has been in the dark, wandering out alone and shit. I guess it’s time to put on a little lights here and there.

Hell, I might even try to do food writing. Uh, maybe not.

Now Listening: Light up the Night, by The Protomen