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May 24, 2017

Willowbrook Progress in May

So, recently I started my draft of The Willow's Tear, it was going quite well for several pages.  However, the flow stopped because I don't know what conflict comes next and there is a distinct lack of a nearby antagonist.  So far the characters have mostly been polite and kept to themselves.  Not a single snob has decided to show up just to look down her nose at poor middle class Elvyla who is only going to such a prestigious school after winning a scholarship.

Further events would revolve around the school and the start of classes.  I have no idea how to organize all the classes for them and make up good introductions for all the teachers and staff who will be present.  (I should mention that writing introductions is one of the banes of my writing existence.)

Mercifully, this was all sidelined by a new idea I must meander about with.  Namely that I had planned on one school year being one novel, but that risks stuffing too much into it and having to tell more than show.  And it was pointed out to me that mysteries are usually on the short side of novels.

Thus I came to the conclusion that the school year must be full of mysteries, each its own novel.  Then there will be no risk of having to gloss over fun parts about the school.  I will just have to figure out how they fit with the Plot du Jour and the overall plot of the series.

That will be so easy, won't it?

If you'll excuse me, I must now return to Murder at Hazelmoor by Agatha Christie so I can figure out how in the world to write murder mysteries.
Diandra will at least expect some solid murder attempts.  That aren't just random arcane water dragons and shadow dancer attacking without giving any clues or leads.  Bother.

May 18, 2017

The Deathmatch Ends

The test hour was up.  MoonStar swept up all the papers with one wave of her horn.
"Your results will be announced at the farewell banquet tonight.  While these are being graded you may take the ferry to Arbia and explore at your leisure.  It should provide a useful distraction.  It leaves at 9:30," MoonStar said.  She then vanished with the sheets that held their destiny.  Trixsy floated up and unlocked the door for them.
"I hear there's a fair in town, so you best be off!" She said, shooing them out.

Eldakiah immediately rushed ahead of all of them, she was not in the mood to talk.  She would have to wait hours to hear the results and that would only fill her with dread if she hung around to hear others talk about it.

"I think I did rather well," Diandra said, still smiling as they walked slowly towards the entry.
"Swell," Sheyla said, her arms crossed and her brows furrowed in anger.
"I also did well!" Tari said.  Sheyla looked at him in shock.
"You doodled on your paper the whole time, I saw you!"
"And it went quite well, disn't it?" Tari replied.
"That's only because you got novella, you've already won enough, haven't you?" Sheyla said.
"Trouble is, I haven't the faintest idea of what to do with it..."
Sheyla rolled her eyes.  What did it matter anyway?  She hadn't expected to win.

They came to the front doors where their teammates and losing contenders were waiting.  Most of them decided to head out immediately with one look at the forlorn faces of the finalists and Diandra's confident countenance.
"Who would want to read about a school, anyway?" Elsida muttered under her breath as she exited with her little dragon who looked quite excited at the prospect of tasting all the Arbian cupcakes.

"So, how did you do?" Lady Ladakar asked her two friends.
"I expect to be taking even more tests soon," Diandra said serenely.
"I'm not sure I would win even if you weren't here," Tristan said.
Dhelran looked terribly disappointed, as though he thought he should have taken the test.
"No matter," Lady Ladakar said, taking Dhelran's arm to go out. "I think it will turn out splendidly whatever happens."
"Yes, I suppose it's like keeping the win within the family," Tristan said.
"I am sure you will be most intrigued by Elvyla's adventures when much younger," Diandra said.
A twitch of annoyance crossed Lady Ladakar's face.
"We had best get onto the ferry," she said to end the discussion.


The ferry ride was quick and comfortable.  Their time in Arbia presented a lovely distraction.  Most notable was Elda's discovery that angry stabbing pumpkins and smashing them could yield many a shiny gem, even a green stone, worth fifty blue stones, the basic currency of Arbia.  It cheered her up quite a bit.

They returned to the ferry in the evening and discovered Dale there as well.  He held up a collection of large fish he had caught.
"What do you think, a great haul or not?" Dale said.
"You missed the test," Sheyla said
"And got an F," Tristan said.
"I got a bunch of F's," he said cheerily, and then strolled away from their attention, humming something.
"Weirdo," Sheyla said.
"I'm just glad that Earth place has never been encountered by our galaxy," Rob said.
"Yeah."
"Well, who would want to self-invade their country?" Kitallia said, walking past them to get a good seat.

They arrived back at the Great Castle, and everyone's nerves were on edge again.  Elda's stomach was churning, how was she supposed to enjoy dinner?  She stared at the sparkling crystal goblet rimmed with gold, at the boquets of red and purple roses accented with grapes and tiny yellow flowers arranged all along the length of the table.

Who was going to win?

I arrived at the head table with the judges, a stack of papers were floating by me, courtesy of MoonStar.
"Welcome back everybody, the Deathmatch Tournament is now coming to a close!" I said dramatically.  Everyone stared back at me.  I took the papers and shuffled them a bit.

"Okay, I see what you want, no tension," I muttered.  "The winner IS...Princess Diandra of Caskora...and her secret teammate, Lady Elvyla Ladakar.  Done."

"Finally, can we all go home now?" Kitallia said, breaking any possibility for dramatic silence.
"There is still dinner and dessert," I told her emphatically.  "Anyway, the results, second place is Damien, the Elda, Tristan, Sheyla, and then Tari and Dale, who didn't care."
All the papers flew off to their respective owners.  Elda crumpled hers up.

"Oh, I'm so sorry that I don't know the technical details of my age at the most traumatic moment of my life!" Tristan shouted.

"What do you mean you don't know if I'll live or die?" Sheyla yelled, staring at the mournful red ink.

Oh well, at least she got to eat the special rose strawberry cake she had won with in the dessert competition.

Elda consoled herself with being first place amongst the webcomics.

They managed to enjoy dinner anyway and were relieved to finally go home.  Except for Sheyla, her home is lame.

The End.

Diandra's Test

Her pen was the most elegant among them.

Name: Diandra Vanroven
Story: The Willow's Tear
Points: 26/30

Please answer the questions.  Each one is worth 3 points.

1. Does your story require a glorious, cinematic art style to capture it?

Not at all, merely an elegant and refined arrangement of words.  [3]

2. Can your story be written with long delays between parts?

Certainly, that is what novels are for.  [3]

3. Is it easy to become immersed in your atmosphere?  To stay there?

My dear, it only takes a lovely cup of tea and a new notebook to come to Willowbrook.  [I find it has been slow going... 2]

4. Is your beginning clear?

Quite, it is the beginning of the school year and that gives you a lovely set of parameters to work with.   [2]

5. Do you have an antagonist who is a challenge, is alive, and whose motive makes sense?

We have a latent villain, and possibly a mad ax-man, you will show him in sometime, won't you?  We combat students can become so dull without a real fight.  [2]

6. What is your preferred method for roughdrafting?

An elegant, gilt notebook, finely ruled with gray ink.  Beautiful quills and multiple colors of ink would fix all your dull word processor blues.  Or grays, as the case may be. [Those aren't handy... 1]

7. What is your preferred final medium?

A novel.  I can't decide between creme or white paper.  [3]

8. What is your story's tone?

Light as sponge cake, rich as a custard pudding, darkly mysterious, but never without beauty.  Full of magic and intrigue.  And ultimately, a lovely parlor with a warm cup of tea.   [2]

9. What are your story's ideal writing conditions?

In a tea parlor, or a garden terrace.  A closed in space with beautiful details and comfortable seating is a must.  [2]

10. What is your best writing advice?

Talk to me any time you need some.  But for now I would say: The dragons have things to say.  Especially the little silver one.  Oh, and don't worry too much about the Houses until you have explored the traveling beforehand.  Focus on the characters interacting and they will tell the story.  [3]

Bonus Question: What is a spiffy, secret tidbit of your story?

Many will show up, won't they?  But the silver tin with candies much like Turkish delights just so happens to be poisoned.

[Never trust a box of chocolates in a mystery.  Sigh...all those goodies and they'll end up poisoned.  But no known villain.  Actually, now I know.  3]

26/30. You are indeed the winner.  Now you will be locked in the library for three days to write a complete outline.
And to avoid being killed by Elda.

May 16, 2017

Sheyla's Test

Sheyla droopily began the test, her stomach clenched.  She hated school.

Name: Sheyla Klark
Story:  A Pack of Doom >:(
Points: 6/30

Please answer the questions.  Each one is worth 3 points.

1. Does your story require a glorious, cinematic art style to capture it?

YES!  [0]

2. Can your story be written with long delays between parts?

NO!  [0]

3. Is it easy to become immersed in your atmosphere?  To stay there?

Yes and no.  It's easy to think about it, but you're too much of a perfectionist to make it.  [Fab.  0]

4. Is your beginning clear?

It's improved lately.  A lot of material is available.  [1. Who are we kidding?  It is massively complicated and long.]

5. Do you have an antagonist who is a challenge, is alive, and whose motive makes sense?

THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE!!  THERE ARE NO ALLIES, ONLY ENEMIES.  You're going to kill me at the end of this thing, aren't you??!!
 [Um...I don't know HOW you survive, but it's still my preference.  And for crying out loud!  It's only HALF the galaxy that wants you dead!  3]

6. What is your preferred method for roughdrafting?

Lined notebooks seem to work best.  Or maybe it's just that they're bound and tidy.  [2]

7. What is your preferred final medium?

Realistic animated movie.  Or maybe an impossibly perfect live action movie.  No.  No.  2D animation of ultra-realistic glory, right.  [You are a webcomic. 0]

8. What is your story's tone?

Dark as a black hole.  (I am surprised you haven't thrown in a black hole as a threat to our existence.  But it's my idea now and I will be able to sue you if you try to stick one in.  So don't!)
[Sounds hard. 0]

9. What are your story's ideal writing conditions?

Ones you don't have.  [True.  0]

10. What is your best writing advice?

Is there a color for writing?  Add it to your admin powers.  [No.  0]

Bonus Question: What is a spiffy, secret tidbit of your story?

>:P
[0]

6/30. Congratulations, Elda is your biggest fan.  Enjoy your story hibernation.  Just pretend you are traveling through space, I'm sure you won't go mad from waiting. >:D

May 15, 2017

Tristan's Test

Tristan began work immediately.  At least it was only one sheet.  But each question counted for a lot... Not that he was sure how much he wanted to win.  He disapproved of the whole ordeal.

Name: Tristan Denemer
Story: Sons of Adawine
Points: 14/30

Please answer the questions.  Each one is worth 3 points.

1. Does your story require a glorious, cinematic art style to capture it?

No, not to begin with.  It's more character-driven than about visuals.   [1]

2. Can your story be written with long delays between parts?

Maybe?  At least the first volume can be standalone.  [1]

3. Is it easy to become immersed in your atmosphere?  To stay there?

Yes, and yes.  There's a lot of different moods to work with.  [3]

4. Is your beginning clear?

You killed my mother in front of my four-year-old eyes, you monster!
[Are you sure you weren't six?  It's slightly unclear, especially, well, all of it since there are contradictory ideas.  1]

5. Do you have an antagonist who is a challenge, is alive, and whose motive makes sense?

Yes, a great many of them.  They come out of the woodwork just as easily as the sewers, the stupid lot of them!  [They can feel rather too similar though.  2]

6. What is your preferred method for roughdrafting?

Maybe pencil on yellow notepads at night with warm lamplight?  That's how it all started years ago...  [3]

7. What is your preferred final medium?

A fancy website and printed books.  [0]

8. What is your story's tone?

It's dark, sad, violent, suddenly humorous and full of a rich, real world.  Just...the dark parts of that real world.  But hope is hidden in it anyway.  [It will be super complicated.  1]

9. What are your story's ideal writing conditions?

Drawing should be done during golden hours or dark, rainy days.  And dusk.  With a mug of herbal tea and a savory snack at a spacious desk.
[Summer's coming and my desk ain't spacious.  1]

10. What is your best writing advice?

Always write clearly!  [I hope that was a joke, I'm not talking penmanship.  0]

Bonus Question: What is a spiffy, secret tidbit of your story?

It would probably be a spoiler.  [Yeah, probably.  Something about a pewter tankard and a sinister rainy night.  And a murderer.  Have at it Elvyla.... 1]

14/30, you did worse than Elda and that's good, because she won't try to stabbify us and distract me from your story cuz she will be FIRST!

May 13, 2017

Damien's Test

Damien flipped over the paper and hesitantly lifted his pen.  He didn't know what to expect, and a sinking feeling dimmed his outlook.  What if he was only a brief glimmer of a protagonist and would be melded into other ideas to form a full story?  And yet he had made me cry when he was only a few days old....

Name: Damien of Dolheim
Story: Mine
Points: 17/30

Please answer the questions.  Each one is worth 3 points.

1. Does your story require a glorious, cinematic art style to capture it?

No.  [3]

2. Can your story be written with long delays between parts?

Yes.  [3]

3. Is it easy to become immersed in your atmosphere?  To stay there?

Melancholy heroes are a dime a dozen here, so yes.  The other flavors of the story are unclear.  [1]

4. Is your beginning clear?

I run away.  Things happen.  [So, no. 0]

5. Do you have an antagonist who is a challenge, is alive, and whose motive makes sense?

Their motives make sense, but they are not alive.  Just fancy-looking.  [1 for the challenge]

6. What is your preferred method for roughdrafting?

On a notebook with thin-lined paper that gets crinkly with teardrops.  [Jerk.  1]

7. What is your preferred final medium?

A novel.  White paper.  [3]

8. What is your story's tone?

Sad, gloomy, tragic, yet brilliantly golden and magical at times.  More literary than light.  [2]

9. What are your story's ideal writing conditions?

Write at a desk on a partly sunny, windy day.  Afternoon.  [2]

10. What is your best writing advice?

Try...?  [AND FAIL.  0]

Bonus Question: What is a spiffy, secret tidbit of your story?

We pass by some Brigonan ruins.  Unless the geography is severely messed up.  But it shouldn't be.   [That would be cool, but it doesn't help your vague plot.  1]

17/30 C- I should think.  Your plot and villains are too unknown.  Also, avoid Elda.

May 12, 2017

Elda's Test

Elda flipped over the sheet of paper as soon as the clock began ticking.  She dipped the pen in ink and stared at the test.  She had never taken one before in her life.  She scrawled out her answers and this is the result...

Name: Eldakiah
Story: Eldakiah
Points: 15/30
[Brackets=red ink]

Please answer the questions.  Each one is worth 3 points.

1. Does your story require a glorious, cinematic art style to capture it?

Yes.    [0]

2. Can your story be written with long delays between parts?

>:( NO.   [0]

3. Is it easy to become immersed in your atmosphere?  To stay there?

Yes, very easy.  Too bad you can't hangout in the magic wilds.  I guess it's not easy to stay in it then.   [1]

4. Is your beginning clear?

Clearer than the waters where I find my sword.  [3]

5. Do you have an antagonist who is a challenge, is alive, and whose motive makes sense?

He is very challenging, and is real emough to cause spin-off variants.  His goal is still vaguely murky.  [2]

6. What is your preferred method for roughdrafting?

You draw stuff on paper with graphite. Duh.  [1]

7. What is your preferred final medium?

A realistic, handrawn animated series.  And a video game.  A webcomic isn't enough...  [0]

8. What is your story's tone?

Mysterious, intense, emotional, and just plain cool.  [3]

9. What are your story's ideal writing conditions?

When you bother to do it.  [Thanks, that wasn't the point. 1]

10. What is your best writing advice?

Do it, punk!  [2]

Bonus Question: What is a spiffy, secret tidbit of your story?

I eat strawberries.  With my pet hummingbird.  [2]

Her final grade: C-.  Or possibly P for Poor.  Poor, poor Elda.  And poor me, she will be so angry.