My journey through the world of writing and everything that lies in between…

Posts tagged ‘Lady of the Snow’

New Directions

You may have noticed my word count widget changed. It says “second draft” although technically it’s my second time through the story.

The story essentially went in a completely different direction than what I wrote during NaNo, complete with new supernatural creatures and a different setup. The first draft hardly had any cohesion as the story veered in all sorts of directions from chapter to chapter as I changed my mind. It was too convoluted for me to actually go back and edit since most of the stuff was irrelevant to the new direction. I didn’t scrap it entirely; there’s parts I’ll probably use in this new “first draft” “(for all purposes, my second draft), but I have to start nearly from the beginning, with a fresh look and scope for the book.

It slightly pains me to see that I have to do this, but sometimes that’s what happens. Stories evolve and take different roads from what you initially planned. It’s never easy but it’s necessary.

Such is life. 😛

Another Revelation

Another aspect of Lady of the Snow has changed. I’m adding more mythological creatures 🙂

Initially, the only creature of legend in my book was going to be my MC, but I’ve decided that since this is a fantasy and since I am heavily relying upon myth with her, why not add a few more otherworldy aspects? Traditional Japanese culture was very superstitious with the amount of creatures and beings that were thought to inhabit the world. I’m just going to make it real in my story’s world. At least, more real than it had been in the book initially.

I’m even thinking of transforming one of my secondary characters into a shapeshifting kitsune or fox. She’ll be a sort of guardian or messenger to Miyuki. Maybe.

I’m also thinking of adding some other less than pleasant creatures, at least in passing, like the oni, which are similar to trolls or ogres, and tengu which are monstrous bird-like spirits of the mountains and forests that sometimes are said to possess people.

I wonder–how different is this book going to look once it’s completely finished? 😛

My Cast of Characters

I’m a very visual person. It’s hard for me to picture characters in my head unless I have some sort of guide–a guide being a photo of an actual person who I think looks as close to my character(s) as possible.

I realized I never actually set aside time to do this for Lady of the Snow. Guess where two hours of my Saturday afternoon went 😛

And in that two hours I really only found four or five character “look-alikes”. Better than none, right?

Anyway, are you curious? I’ll post the three main ones that I have: Miyuki/Yuki-onna, her love interest, Kazuhiro, his f and her rival, Hatsuyo. Oh and another important player in the story, Daisuke (a friend of Kazihiro’s). I’ve got others too, but I can’t remember the names of the actors and actresses right now and all the pictures are currently on my home computer.

So, without further ado, my “main”  cast:

"Hatsuyo" : Sachi Tainaka

First, the rival, Hatsuyo. She’s the “town beauty” before Miyuki’s arrival. She’s often called “The Flower of Gokayama” (since that’s the current name of my village…although it will probably change later).  She and Kazuhiro were planned for one another at a young age, although it’s never been made official. She’s vain and thinks herself higher than many of the villagers since her family is one of the few farmers of the valley that actually own their land (along with Kazuhiro’s family). She immediately despises Miyuki because she sees how beautiful she is and she notices Kazuhiro’s obvious attraction to her. She’s also determined to figure out who Miyuki truly is, for she’s fairly certain she’s more than she seems. However, Hatsuyo’s not truly evil. If anything, she’s just insecure and comes from a family who only sees the value in her beauty as a bargaining chip. While she cares for Kazuhiro, she truly loves his friend, Daisuke (who is also part of one of the few land-owning farming families, although not as prosperous).

"Daisuke": Satoshi Tsumabuki

Daisuke is Kazuhiro’s good friend. He’s a known as the town flirt 😛 He can be a little on the overbearing side and a has a bit of a temper. He’s a little self-centered, but not to the extent of Hatsuyo. He’s loud and boisterous and loves to have fun, almost bordering on irresponsible.  He’s easily influenced by a pretty face though, and Miyuki uses this weakness of his–as well as his feelings for Hatsuyo–to her own advantage.

"Kazuhiro": Jun Kaname

And we can’t forget Kazuhiro, Miyuki’s love interest. He’s incredibly handsome, with dark and distinctive eyes (which is one of the factors that led to Miyuki transforming from her Yuki-onna self to a human). Despite his good looks, he’s one of those that doesn’t really think of himself that way (often he thinks he’s quite plain).

He is kind hearted and easily taken advantage of because of his loyalty and his willingness to help anyone who asks. He’s contemplative and generally likes to keep to himself. Though quiet, he’s not nearly as silent as his cousin Seitaro (who I don’t have a picture for yet and who’s really just a minor character).  However, he tends to be consumed with all the responsibility placed upon him and often lets it out by an occassional intense outburst.

And last but certainly not least, my main character, Miyuki.

"Miyuki/Yuki-onna": Hikaru Utada

Obviously beautiful, she definitely uses this to her advantage. She can be vain as well, but is pretty good about hiding it. As she’s been hired by Kazuhiro as a servant–and looked upon with some trepidation by the other villagers because of Kazuhiro finding her alone on a remote mountain road–people tend to avoid her. Many think she’s some supernatural demon come to curse the village. Even though they aren’t that far off on this assumption, Miyuki tries her best to appear as human as possible and eventually manages to gain the villagers’ respect, while slowly succumbing to the “mortal” aspect of life herself.

I think this one captures the "Yuki-onna" side of Miyuki...

Though she starts off as cunning and evil, it’s quickly revealed that there’s much more to her than originally thought, especially as she realizes what she was before her transformation into the Yuki-onna.

Anyway, my characters don’t look exactly like these J-Pop singers and actors–all of them are in modern clothes here, so use your imagination and make the guys’ hair longer and more unkept, tied back in a pony tail, as well as the girls’ hair being a little more on the untidy side too. Remember, they’re farmers, so they won’t have all the beauty techniques we have today, nor will they have beautiful kimonos like those of the samurai class. They’d be dressed in pretty drab garments, like grays and browns, and possibly made out of cotton and/or hemp material.

But this is a rough estimate of what they’d look like. 🙂

Now, if only I could draw, then I’d be able to really show you what my characters look like. Alas, I’m not that talented.

The Death of a Character

Yesterday I was pretty frustrated with my NaNo project. That generally occurs at least once during the month of November, and the second week is right around the time it hits me.

So I took a step back, wrote a little over 700 words, and let my mind just rest. And when I didn’t concern myself with all the book’s issues, the ideas for the rest of the book were born.

I have to kill off one of my characters.

As in the case of most of my mini-writing epiphanies, the idea came to me while in the shower. Perhaps it’s the hot water or the steam stimulating the creative juices.

The others I just systematically got rid of as they were adding nothing to the story; this one however will actually die in the course of the story. It’s heartbreaking I have to do this, especially since I know how hard it’s going to be on my one character, but the story advances better. If anything, it’ll also help make Miyuki more human after she witnesses how a family is affected when a loved one dies–something she never gave any thought to before.

This will be, oh, probably the third or fourth person that will end up dying over the course of the book. I don’t like killing off my characters like that but if that’s where the story is taking me, then that’s what needs to be done.

I Want to Pull My Hair Out…

Warning: Massive rant ahead about my rough draft. If you should continue reading, consider yourself sufficiently warned.

As I get farther and farther along in my first draft, more and more questions around the storyline keep popping up as I’m writing.

And I’m beginning to feel a great deal like this woman below…hairpull23

I’ve been assaulted by so many questions that I’ve had to make a running list of them. I keep changing things so that the story really doesn’t flow at all from the beginning to the current chapter (most important one being the fact the entire village and family that my MC is staying with is highly hesitant towards her, thinking she may be some sort of supernatural creature–which she is. Of course she has to try and convince them that she isn’t in order to be trusted).

That’s going to be an editing nightmare.

I had to add a minor subplot because I had to give the antagonist some more depth to her character.  I use “antagonist” loosely because while she’s a threat, she’s not a significant one–the main one is my MC’s own nature–you know the whole, man vs. self thing. Still, she’s a thorn in Miyuki’s side.

I’m also shifting around some village hierarchy and may be putting Miyuki in the village headman’s family–the village headman currently being her love interest (and still rather new in the position since his father was killed by her that winter before). If that’s the case I need to see if that meant they had servants and whatnot.

Considering this is a small (like less than 200 people small) village, they probably wouldn’t have been much higher than the surrounding countrymen; they also would’ve still been in the same caste, even if they were “higher end” farmers. Caste system in feudal Japan was very strict and to limit my research woes, that’s why I’m placing all the characters in the farmer’s caste as well as setting it in a small enough village where I don’t really have to worry about samurai and any other higher castes.

Of course that’s the plan now; the way this book is going, it could be completely different by the end.

I know, I know, I shouldn’t worry about it–just keep writing through it. But sometimes all the changes are hard to keep up with! And it’s scaring me to think about what I’ll have to deal with after the first draft is all done…

Mock Book Trailer–Limited Time Only!

I’ve really wanted others to see this but couldn’t figure out a way to email it or post it privately with password protection.

So, I’ve made it “public” on YouTube. It won’t stay this way for long since I don’t know about the whole “copyright” thing. Hence the LIMITED TIME ONLY. I’ll post it here, but it will only be viewable for maybe a day or two before I make it private again 🙂 Remember, it’s a mock trailer–most of my book hasn’t even been written yet! So this is just for fun.

Without further ado, here is my beloved mock book trailer 🙂

Music is from an anime called Bakumatsu Kikansetsu Irohanihoheto (say that three times fast!); much of the images come from incredibly talented artists on DeviantArt, many from the talented photographer Zemotion. (Be aware that some of her pictures can be a bit um, risque :P)  Anyway, enjoy for the time being 🙂

NaNo Banner!

I wanted to create a banner for Lady of the Snow to put in my signature line on the NaNo site. Initially I went to a website where you can make banners for free, but there were ads on it. I was in the middle of making it when hubby came home and asked what I was doing. Within five minutes he was on my computer, helping me put together one in Paint.Net (free program similar to Photoshop).

He pretty much put it together while I gave him input as to what image to use, the font, the colors, etc. It was done within a half hour. Hubby, being the great man that he is, said he was only there as technical support and that he doesn’t have an eye for the “artsy stuff” (which I think is a lie since I’ve seen some of the photos he’s taken and they’re definitely artsier than what I could do :P)

Anyway, I’m determined now to play around with that program so I can do it on my own next time.  I should’ve been able to do that on my own from the beginning since I had a few courses in college where we had to use Photoshop (and this program is pretty similar). But I was lost 😛 Although, some of what he was doing looked familiar; perhaps I ought to play with it a little before NaNo starts or else I’ll forget what I did learn tonight 😛

Here’s the finished result. I must say I’m beyond happy with it–it’s so much better than the one I was making!

NaNo banner for Lady of the Snow

Haunting Melodies

I know I posted about this months ago, but I wanted to post again. Do you have novel “theme songs” or music that helps inspire your story?

I sometimes lose track of all the songs I have. 😛 I haven’t found too many for Lady of the Snow yet, but one that I simply love comes from the popular anime movie by Miyazaki called Princess Mononoke. Both versions are short but the lyrics are so powerful and really make me think of Miyuki, even though the song was written for a completely different fictional character.

Here’s the English version of the song. It’s only about a minute and I encourage you to give it a listen. To me it’s one of the most haunting melodies I’ve heard:

Here’s the Japanese version. It’s a little longer and I’m not sure the lyrics are quite correct, but it’s haunting just the same:

Each version nearly moves me to tears every time (of course I’m uber sensitive :)).

Do you have songs that make you think of your story? Or do you have any songs that are just simply haunting and stay in your mind forever?

Oh, Happy Day! For a History Geek Anyway

As many of you know (especially those of you writing historicals), finding information for the time and place for our novel’s setting can be quite a challenge. This can be even more difficult if you choose a more obscure culture and the language barrier can often be a factor.

I don’t know how many books I’ve found on Amazon or other sites that I get excited over because of the immense amount of answers that could possibly be found between the pages. And then I find out that the libraries around here don’t supply it–even through interlibrary loan. 😦

Well that’s not so bad, right? I could always purchase it from Amazon since it’s there.

Wrong! Especially when the book is out of print and rare and the only sellers that have it charge a ridiculous amount ($200 or more seems to be the norm…).

Well, for once, one of the books that I longed for, I managed to find on interlibrary loan. I didn’t get my hopes too high because there have been times where the book is available but for some odd reason the library doesn’t send it or it’s “not supplied” (despite being shown available).

This book was actually sent. 😀

What book is it? It’s called Japan’s Folk Architecture and it has tons of info on the minka or traditional farm houses of the Japanese country side–including the unique gassho-zurkuri from the Takayama region (which is what the setting of my book is based upon). On Amazon the book sells for nearly $400. And I’ve gotten it for free, thanks to the library 🙂

While describing the houses of the region isn’t an incredibly important aspect of the book itself, it’s always good to have that info if needed.

 Now I don’t have to try and imagine what it looks like by piecing together images, videos and descriptions from elsewhere in my head.

I realize this shows my geeky side–how excited I get over a book used for research purposes 😛 But I’m incredibly happy–this definitely made my day!

Historical Fantasy

It’s funny it’s taken me this long to figure it out. Obviously my WiP, with its supernatural elements (i.e. my MC Miyuki  being the mystical Snow Woman) puts it in the fantasy genre. Since I’m setting it in 18th century Japan, that classifies it further as historical fantasy.

But I realized something: since this is historical fantasy, I don’t have to be as stringent in the historical accuracy.

I went searching to see some definitions of historical fantasy. Mine seem to follow one of these two (courtesy of Wikipedia article):

  • magic, mythical creatures or other supernatural elements co-exist invisibly with the mundane world, with the majority of people none the wiser.
  • The story takes place in a secondary world with specific and recognizable parallels to a known place (or places) and a definite historical period, rather than taking the geographic and historical “mix and match” favored by other works of secondary world fantasy. However, many if not most, works by fantasy authors derive ideas and inspiration from real events, making the borders of this approach history.

I’m not really sure where exactly Lady of the Snow falls; I’m thinking it’s going to be more along the lines of historcial fiction with fantasy elements and the whole “mythical creatures” co-existing with the mundane. But, I feel like I’m a little more free to not be as strict with all the rules of society of the time. I’m toying with the idea doing what Lian Hearn did for Tales of the Otori: an obviously Japanese type world, yet not this world as it follows a completely different timeline.

Perhaps I won’t define it at all and let the reader figure out where it’s set. 😛 I already know my village is going to be fictional, but it’ll be based off the region where the villages of Shirakawa-go are located.  (I still have to come up with a nifty sounding name for the village too).

Anyway, for some reason, a lot of this puts a huge burden off my shoulders. I don’t feel like I’ll need to do months and months of research. But I still have to write it and do all the editing for it and we’ll see where it all goes. 🙂

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