May 21, 2020

Who Are You?

Image by Lisa Runnels

I am constantly working to improve my craft, spending hours reading books and listening to classes and podcasts on storytelling (and everything that involves publishing). Although, I admit that, due to my short attention span (I spend all my "concentration units" on actually writing, and the day job), I'm pretty far behind... 😋

Anywho, I've been working on two projects at the same time (technically three if you count the Arthur-based short story I'm also writing to give out via my newsletter), the writing of the Morgana Trilogy prequel, and the planning of my next book (hint: it's another fantasy story! ^^).

And, while doing so, I'd fallen on a video chat between authors Veronica Roth and Seanan McGuire about planning a series, where they mention at some point the book Story Genius (even swearing by it).

So, of course, I just had to get my hands on it! And immediately used it to plan my next book, as well as to make notes for my revision of the Morgana Trilogy prequel.

Because what's really intriguing about Story Genius, is that it doesn't focus on the what (what happens when to keep things exciting--more explosions and gore everyone!), but on the Who. Because only by knowing who the hero(ine) is, can one truly feel and root for him (her).

This has really turned into a fascinating exercise for me, because we're talking about discovering who your protag is truly--what drives him to act/think the way he does? What caused her to think that way in the first place (the origin of the protag's misbelief that shattered her previous world vision and makes her react the way she does now).

By following the exercises in the book, I've gotten to truly delve into my main characters' pasts and understand, in detail, what shattering moment affected them, and is still coloring everything they do now. And I'm still not even 50% of the way through!
Image by Alexandra Haynak

I'm even more amazed at this, because to be quite frank, I've never been very good at expressing my feelings, whether vocally or on paper (even when through my own characters). It's like every time that I try to, there's this rock blocking my airway, and I have to push painfully past it to do so (psychological aside, I wonder if this isn't because I have a hard time explaining why I feel the way I do...or why my characters do).

But by following the process in Story Genius, I'm actually being gently pushed into discovering my protagonists' inner depths, which, incidentally, also means I'm finding new scenes to incorporate into my story.

I'm very much looking forward to reading the rest of Story Genius and discovering more of my main characters this way!

May 12, 2020

The Ogham Alphabet

Those of you who have read the Morgana Trilogy know that I've been inspired by the Ogham Alphabet a lot (as well as Norse Runes), combining it with a key Fey feature to make it a central plot point in my stories.

So here's a little more on what the Ogham Alphabet is, historically-speaking:

  • The word "Ogham" derives from the Irish god Ogman, the god of poetry and learning (who, like the god Thot in Ancient Egypt, was said to have created the alphabet)
  • The alphabet is sometimes referred to as Beth Luis Nuin, after the original (Gaelic) first three letters of the Ogham Alphabet.
  • They were carved singly, or in groups of up to five --> 20 different characters could be created.
  • The basis of each letter is a vertical line and characters are lines branching to the left and right from it --> like a tree (the Ogham Tree)
    • Because of this, letters were named after trees: Beth is birch, Luis is roan; and Nuin is ash.
    • The whole alphabet is therefore considered like a forest.
  • "Individual trees held high symbolic significance, so the forest alphabet was deemed to be a repository of wisdom. The word for 'knowledge' also means 'wood'."
  • Inscriptions are read from the bottom up, the way a tree grows.

Of course, I used what I wanted from this (mostly using the term "ogham" along with Norse runes--the horror!), and then grouped each into different elemental categories. These, in turn, became the basis for calling out the basic Fey powers for the knights to use. My intention was to keep historical oghams for more complexe Fey beings, but that just didn't happen in this series...

The Element Encyclopedia of the Celts, by Rodney Castleden

May 10, 2020

The Leader of Heaven Has Left the Nation Without a Roof

The Death of King Arthur, by James Archer

Here is a translation from the funeral ode Marwnad Uthyr Pendragon which can be found in Rodney Castleden's The Element Encyclopedia of the Celts

The entry tells us that, although this was at one time thought to be instead an ode to King Arthur's father, Uther Pendragon, the word "uter" can actually be an adjective that can mean either "Terrible" or "Wonderful."

"Pendragon," on the other hand, was a Celtic title for the dux bellorum or High King (the titles are also mentioned in my previous post on King Arthur).

Which means that the following excerpt of the funeral ode could be for none other than King Arthur instead:

They crave with longing for a portion of your cause
And for refuge in the manliness of Arthur.
They long for your coming in a hundred fortresses.
A hundred manors long for your assurances.
They long for your coming in a hundred schools.
A hundred chieftains long for your coming:
The great and mighty sword that supported them. 
They look for your best judgments of merit,
The restoration of principalities.
Your sayings are remembered, soothing the aggressive.
The Leader of Heaven has left the nation without a roof.

May 1, 2020

May 1913 - Chronicles Of The Year Before The Great War

In May 1913, Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring is played and danced for the first time, at the newly-opened Théâthre des Champs-Elysées. The cream of the crop of the artistic world is there to witness it: Gabriele d'Annunzio, Claude Debussy, Nijinski, Maurice Ravel, André Gide, Diaghilev, Marcel Duchamp, and Coco Chanel.

"From the first note of the extremely high solo bassoon, roars of laughter can be heard--is that music, or a spring storm, or the noise of hell the outraged audience wants to know. Drumming everywhere, up on stage the dancers are in ecstatic motion--there's laughter, then, when the Parisians realize it is meant seriously, shouting. The devotees of the Modern, on the other hand, applaud from the cheap seats, the music rages on and the dancers get tangled up; they can no longer hear the music for all the noise."

It got so rowdy that the theater manager had to momentarily turn off the lights in the middle of the performance. This didn't stop the musicians from playing (despite getting things thrown at them), nor the dancers from dancing, despite the 'shouting and screeching.'

And thus was first received The Rite of Spring on May 29, 1913.

Source: Florian Illies's 1913 - The Year Before The Storm