AniNaNo 2012, Day 1: My Title Can’t Possibly Be This Bad!

Ah, it has started, NaNoWriMo 2012. We’re on the first day of November, and the adrenaline of those first few days have unsurprisingly started kicking in. By joining NaNoWriMo, you’ve convinced yourself that writing every day was a challenge that’s worth taking and bragging about. As such, you’ve taken on this journey of fifty thousand words (which begins with an innocent 1,667 on the first day), and if you’ve literally started from scratch like I have this year (that is, no prior planning, nothing), it starts with a title and first sentence.

Don’t think too hard about this step. It’s not that important in the context of the entire body of work. In fact, make it as awkward as you can. Let yourself go. Let go of that nagging part of your brain that tells you that your writing needs to be fixed in certain (if not all) parts of your story. The tool that you’ve used to critically break down fiction and anime in particular, is now a weapon that will hold you hostage from finishing the story that you want to tell. That voice in the back of your mind can help you later, but for now, you need to keep it locked up somewhere, keep it distracted. Do it by taking a tongue and cheek approach to the very beginning of your novel, knowing very well that you’ll fix it later. Reach into your bag of rejected light novel titles and use one of them. Take a page from one Chuunibyou’s titular localization attempts:

Regardless of My Adolescent Delusions of Grandeur, I Want a Date!

That just sounds attrocious. It’s perfect. 11 words down, 1,656 to go for today’s quota. Let’s do it! FIGHT-OH

Kick-Heart and the Kickstarter Approach to Writing Fiction

I recently backed Maasaki Yuasa’s Kickstarter for a 10-minute animated short called Kick-Heart. In short, Kickstarter is a fundraising platform in which creative projects are realized through the financial support of people who want to see interesting ideas come to fruition. In Maasaki Yuasa’s case, his idea is a story of two pro-wrestlers, one a sadistic nun and the other a closeted masochist, in an almost-literal Romeo and Juliet style of romance. Combined with Production I.G., Yuasa seeks to bring the work to life in uniquely animated, vividly stylistic world.

Continue reading Kick-Heart and the Kickstarter Approach to Writing Fiction

Taking the Critique-al Approach to Reviewing Anime

As a writer, I’ve been through the process of receiving feedback from other individuals who read my works in progress. Likewise, I’ve had my fair share of experiences with giving feedback to other writers as well, particularly those who I know fairly well (or at least, as well as one could know on the Internet). Reviewing other people’s works requires a particular brand of constructive criticism. For works in progress, the whole point of editing and critiquing is to provide input for the purpose of making a work better than it currently is. Explaining to a writer what works and what requires more work is a fickle process; if the feedback is too overwhelming in pointing out faults, then it might be detrimental to a writer’s motivation going forward, but if the feedback is too positive, it doesn’t give the writer much to work and improve upon.

Continue reading Taking the Critique-al Approach to Reviewing Anime

Friday Fiction: Finding Your Voice Through Fanfiction

Komachi (Yes! PreCure 5) probably started off as a fanfiction writer before moving on to her own original ideas.

Writing, like every other active hobby, is an activity in which one can improve, often due to experience, passion, and appropriate work ethic. For writing specifically, there lies a lofty goal of honing one’s craft, as well as finding one’s writing voice. Conceptually, the writing voice is a particular style and tone in one’s writing that stands out; it’s the unique voice that pops into people’s head when they read those particular words on a page, computer monitor, or tablet display.

While it might take quite a bit of time to establish a writing style that reflects that singular tone in writing, it’s a lot easier to notice than you would think. It comes up in the tweets you make, in the comments that you write in blogs and messageboards, and even in text messages that you send to people that you know in real life. The challenge, then, is to harness those natural occurrences into a controlled narrative environment, and to stretch that voice from 140 characters to thousands of words.

Continue reading Friday Fiction: Finding Your Voice Through Fanfiction

The Right Stuff, Part II: Novels and Light Novels

In which I spend money on books and more books, and thus become spent for the year.

I didn’t spend as much as the other purchase, but considering how much cheaper print items are compared to disc, there was a plenty of opportunity to look into the first volumes of particular books that are unavailable at my local Indigo. Due to the sheer number of different titles on that list, I’ll only mention a particular number of them.

Continue reading The Right Stuff, Part II: Novels and Light Novels

December Update: 50k and no posts to show for it ;_;

My apologies for what turned out to be a completely empty November, post-wise. Celebrating a one-year blog anniversary and following it up with a complete lack of posts sends a very strange message about my posting habits out of context. However, as most of you know, the reason for my annual November silence is due to NaNoWriMo, which I managed to complete this year!

Digital Girl And the Azure Conspiracy is my yearly attempt at mixing and matching a bunch of genres that I like to read and write about. Last year and the year before was Steampunk + Edo Japan = Steampanku, and this year is Cyberpunk + Magical Girl = Shojoupunk, although as I wrote it, it turned out to lean heavily towards Magical Girlfriend due to using a male observer as a first-person main point of view character for a more Light Novel approach. Never using that perspective again. Ever.

The product that I ended up writing was a little bit different from the concept I had pitched for in that original Shojopunk post, and it ended up being less Madoka-esque, but more like Dennou Coil, which is pretty heavy on its own. I’d love to share my ideas with you about the subject, but I’ll leave it for another day and another post.

There were a number of factors that kept me from being able to write posts on top of writing a novel in a month, particularly coming from events happening in real life. My grandmother passed away at the most inopportune time, which made writing much more difficult. I persevered, and managed to win anyway, using her passing as a form of motivation to keep writing, mostly introspectively. Expect a post on that as well.

December is well underway, and with the end of the year, there are a few things that I would like to address before the year is over.

Episodic Blogging: Chihayafuru Dropped

With my deepest regret, I have to drop blogging Chihayafuru. Falling behind on blogging a series is one thing, but falling behind on two series, Chihayafuru and Last Exile, is another. I intended to keep up with both shows, but due to NaNoWriMo taking up the bulk of November, as well as my intention to fit in other blog content in the coming weeks, there doesn’t seem to be room or time to write for both.

Choosing between blogging Last Exile and Chihayafuru, I definitely choose to keep Last Exile. Chihayafuru is an excellent series so far, and its combination of competition and romance is an interesting genre blend that effectively takes the best of both worlds to create something incredibly unique and captivating. I will definitely continue watching it to the end. As for Last Exile, I’ve been keeping up with watching the episodes, and it’s only gotten better since November started, so expect me to write a relatively larger post regarding the episodes that I have missed so far.

Episodic Blogging: Smile PreCure Picked the FUCK Up

Fuck yes son. If there’s any show that gets me riled up to the point of swearing like a burly sailor, it’s a franchise that is primarily aimed at little girls. Suite PreCure has been a fantastic ride throughout the year, and having missed out on the weekly experience (and magical girl masterpiece) that is Heartcatch PreCure, I feel that there’s enough interest coming from me as a fan to blog about next year’s entry into the series.

Each year, the cast usually has one or two standout seiyuu that . In Fresh, it was Eri Kitamura as Cure Berry. In Heartcatch, it was Nana Mizuki as Cure Blossom. In Suite, it was Ami Koshimizu as Cure Melody. For Smile, there are heavy rumors circulating about Aoi Yuuki starring as the main cure. No other information has been confirmed or set in stone yet, but regardless of who gets casted, I’m sure to follow closely. Being PreCure fan is suffering.

Secret Santa and 12 Days post series

I’m currently participating in Reverse Thieves’ anime Blogging Secret Santa event, which involves bloggers anonymously exchanging anime suggestions with each other for Christmas. I had to mulligan my first choice of series, since two of the suggested titles were ones that I already watched, but forgot to add to my MAL list, and the third show was unavailable. To make up for it, I’ve taken up the challenge of watching all three shows that were suggested to me in the second pass: Dennou Coil, Gosick, and Zettai Shonen.

I already finsihed watching Dennou Coil during NaNoWriMo (excellent writing inspiration!), watched the first few episodes of Gosick back when it first aired, and obtained a batch for Zettai Shonen, which is a show that is so low-key that it doesn’t even have its own tvtropes page. We’ll see if I can entry pimp that.

As for the 12 Days post series, I’ve already started writing a few posts ahead of time. It’s not too hard to find 12 moments of Anime and Manga that defined 2011 for me. I don’t want to spoil it, but I already have all 12 planned out in my head. Now it’s just a matter of putting my heart into it. 2011 was an amazing year of anime, and I can’t wait to share my year with my readers, all three five of them.

Light Novels, and More

At some point in November, while attempting to write a Light Novel for NaNoWriMo, I googled up the term, and found my blog on the first page. Mysteriously, doing the same search again at work resulted in my blog completely disappearing from the first page. Whether or not this is some wordpress-related wizardry, it became apparent after NaNoWriMo that I really do have a fondness for reading and writing, and my goal for publishing a novel has become even more refined into publishing a light novel in the Original English Language vein. I’ve said this plenty times before, but it’s soemthing that I feel that needs to be iterated over and over again. Setting a goal is the first step, and following through on that goal by actually writing a draft is another.

I look forward to writing more about Light Novels. Perhaps outside of weekly PreCure posts, I might not even talk about anime at all other than small storytelling-related tidbits from stuff I watch throughout the year. But when it comes to writing, nothing counts more than the actual books themselves. Expect more Haruhi, more Book Girl, and Spice and Wolf, among others. Kieli is pretty good too, so far at least.

So that’s about it for now. Again, I truly apologize for being absent during November. I’ll make up for it with a fantastically packed December filled with writing about writing, as well as a bunch of fond memories of 2011. I just can’t wait for 2012!

NaNoWriMo, Writing, and Remembering Love

How's that novel coming along?

No single piece of work is truly original. Anything that aspires to stand out on its own does so by borrowing familiar elements from other works, and it is only through the sum of these familiar elements that something unfamiliar can be created. Tropes are tools, after all.

For a writer just starting out, it can be really frustrating to be working on something, only to realize that it’s a rip-off to Code Geass, or that he or she is just trying to write another Rei Ayanami character instead of the next Rei Ayanami character. Sudden realization of uncreativity is a huge hindrance to the development of creativity itself, but it does not necessarily have to be as such.

If anything, there’s some degree of validity in trying to aim for these new and novel concepts. Instead of putting down ourselves for being unoriginal, why not embrace it? Instead of trying to avoid the classic archetypes, why not pay homage to them? This is what Remembering Love is about, and it does not only enhance the enjoyment of those who take in media, but also those who try to create as well.

NaNoWriMo is only a week away, and the planning process for many who wish to participate is already in full swing. With not a lot of time remaining, the opportunities to fully prepare for the event itself are few. There are limits to the brain, and for something as monumental as writing 50,000 words in at least a half-coherent manner, the rest of the effort here comes down to heart. The fondness for stories past is what will drive writers to create stories for the future. If you still want to join NaNoWriMo, then there’s no better time to decide than now. Your enthusiasm will carry you in more ways a muse ever could.

Write What You Love

Without love and passion, there is nothing. Why bother writing something, fanfiction or otherwise, if you don’t even enjoy the subject matter the subject matter that you are referencing? It is only through enthusiasm that one can attempt to see beyond the concepts presented in previous works. It is only through curiosity that one can dare to ask questions that no one else would dare to answer. It is only through love that one can foster and nourish knowledge for those concepts, creating something that truly reflects one’s love for things.

As a group of people who share in common a love for anime, there’s no better resource to find out what we truly love than myanimelist, or similarly, any other anime database. Sort the list out by the rating that you gave it, and go through all of the 10’s, 9’s, and 8’s on that list. For each title, think of one or two things that you absolutely loved about it. Do it again, but this time only go through your 10’s and 9’s, and think of more things that you loved about those shows in particular. Lastly, do it again, but only with your 10’s, and try to think of the things that made these titles stand out among the rest. These are the things that you love watching and/or reading about, and most likely, they’ll be the things you’ll love to write about.

When November comes around, look at that list again, and the things you love about those shows will come out at you instantly. Those things will always be there. Those things have always been there. So why not write about them?

The best and most individualistic works are the kinds that clearly come from something else, but put a whole new spin on the subject matter altogether. It sounds like a highly thought-out process, but really, it’s just a result of bringing out one’s own individuality through the work they make. Each person loves different things and in different ways.

If you really love something, you don’t just let it go. You make it your own.

Remember Remember, the Month of November

For this year’s NaNoWriMo, I’ll be putting my Edo period Steampunk series aside, and writing something a bit more magical. I am going to write about a magical girl, and I’m going to do it in a futuristic setting. I still stand by my review of Madoka Magica. I didn’t think it was perfect, or even as good as most people thought it to be, but there were things that I just loved about it, and it put a new spin on a genre that I’ve only come to acknowledge as something that I truly love. Magical Girls are my in-thing, almost just as much as my love for steampunk literature, and it feels like an intruiging challenge for me to try to take something that is mostly depicted through manga and animation and put it into words.

Sailor Moon meets Ghost in the Shell. Pretty Cure meets Serial Experiments Lain. Madoka Magica Meets Steins;Gate. This is the seed that I will take with me into November, and in spite of my lack of preparation, I can only hope that my love will be enough to make it grow into something special.

Will you be doing NaNoWriMo? Will you be doing something that you love? Even if not, let me know!

No Plot? No Problem, Desu! NaNoWriMo and My Foray Into Original English Light Novels

I’m somewhat excited that in less than a month, Baka Laureate will celebrate its first birthday. Truth be told, I’m actually more excited by the onset of National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for short. As much as I’d like to prepare a wonderful post reflecting on the past 12 months as an anime blogger, I have to remind myself that, at my very core, I’m a writer, heavily influenced by the storytelling style of anime. 

Whether or not you like to write fan fiction or original fiction, National Novel Writing Month is a wonderful event that gets people writing. And if you’re a long-time writer that hasn’t found time to write as of late (such as myself), or a first-time writer suffering from One Day syndrome (“One day, I will eventually write a novel,”) this event is the perfect opportunity to throw all excuses out the door and just start writing.

Continue reading No Plot? No Problem, Desu! NaNoWriMo and My Foray Into Original English Light Novels

Endless Summer: Final Thoughts

At 7,000 words on the dot, The Wish of Haruhi Suzumiya is the final product born from the series of fan fiction posts that I wrote at the end of August. The series itself was a neat little project that I came up with, tying to the theme of Endless Summer, a two-week event correlating to the events of the Haruhi series’ Endless Eight. 

Looking back now, despite my seemingly spontaneous planning of the posts themselves (ironic considering the series itself dealt with the planning process in the first place), I stuck to those outlined principles and ended up with the final product that I posted yesterday. Let’s take a look at each step again and see how each part impacted the story that I eventually wrote.

Continue reading Endless Summer: Final Thoughts

Fanfiction: The Wish of Haruhi Suzumiya

Disclaimer: This story is not intended to be used for profit. All creative rights belong to the original author, Nagaru Tanigawa.

Something was wrong.

Something was off about the way I went about my lazy summer morning. It was already halfway through August, and given the amount of time I spent at home, the days leading up to today felt like a single blur.

Continue reading Fanfiction: The Wish of Haruhi Suzumiya