Monday, October 8, 2012

For The Greatest Good -- Newsflash and Behind The Scenes


Just a heads up to all those who are following the story Dana and I are writing on this blog. I was very busy last week editing a short story -- the fourth draft of which I have completed now -- and am going to be busy this week reading various stories that several friends and aquaintances of mine have written. I'm not very good at balancing both writing and reading, which is a deficiency on my part that I'm attempting to work on. All writers really should be avid readers, as well.

So the next installment of For The Greatest Good may not come out for a little while. Certainly not this week; I'll have to see about next week.

For those who may be interested, I'll explain the process FtGG goes through before it's finally posted on my blog.

Behind the Scenes

First of all, you must understand that Dana and I are storytellers at heart. It takes only the slightest nudge to get us off on tangent involving story. And not only story, but storytelling. Dana's much better at verbal storytelling than I am, but when both of us are IMing over skype, all it takes is the right cue, and we'll begin a completely unplanned little skit. Back and forth we'll weave a tiny adventure that can last anywhere from a few minutes to several hours, depending.

Such was the case with FtGG. What began as a casual story tangent, turned into an adventure far too intriguing to abandon. And that was even before the creation of Set, which is a story in and of itself. Beleive it or not, Set came about completely by accident, and his existance as a character -- outside of the story, mind you -- is mostly my fault.

But I digress.

One of my personality quirks, I guess you could call it, is that I have a tendency to want to share everything. Especially things I find fun or interesting, and especially with those close to me. So once FtGG started shaping into something more than just a passing tale created by two incorrigable storytellers, I ran through the skype history and copied down all the sections where Dana and I had 'told' FtGG, and printed them out for my siblings to read through. They found it just as interesting as we did. So we continued.

However, at that point, FtGG was just the copied and pasted skype transcript, far from the prose that it is here on the blog. After Dana and I had done a few sections, I got the idea of turning the whole adventure into a book someday. Later on, I started this blog, and then the idea of putting it on here came to me, and stuck. Dana liked the idea, so I went for it.

Now, taking skype transcripts and turning them into prose... It is an interesting challenge.

I had to take this...

[5/12/2012 9:58:45 PM] Sir PenSage: So sorry to have kept Rex here, I kind of bumped into his patrol.
[5/12/2012 9:59:05 PM] Lady PenWarrior: But.... We thought you.... After the battle, when....Not that we blamed you, we couldn't....
[5/12/2012 10:00:02 PM] Sir PenSage: *I raise an eyebrow* I gave the order to run for it, didn't I? I certainly hope the others payed attention, that was a nasty blow over the head I got. The other fellow got worse, though, so it's fine.
[5/12/2012 10:00:29 PM] Lady PenWarrior: We thought they'd imprisoned you.
[5/12/2012 10:01:07 PM] Sir PenSage: *I smile slightly, slightly humored as well, but serious* there is always a path, even when one cannot see it.
[5/12/2012 10:01:27 PM] Lady PenWarrior: Dana, that ENTIRE valley was overrun, how could you POSSIBLY have gotten out?
[5/12/2012 10:02:32 PM] Sir PenSage: As I said, there is always a way.

[5/12/2012 10:02:47 PM] Sir PenSage: Let's just say we ought not to overestimate their patrol patterns.
[5/12/2012 10:03:14 PM] Sir PenSage: Besides, I'm one of the order, aren't I?
[5/12/2012 10:04:48 PM] Lady PenWarrior: *I smile, and then laugh slightly* Yes... yes you are.
...And turn it into this.
It couldn’t be.
“So sorry to have kept Rex,” Dana continued. “I sort of bumped into his patrol.”
I stared, I admit, if only to convince myself this was really him.  “But… we thought you… after the battle, when… not that we blamed you, we couldn’t…”
He raised an eyebrow, his hand resting easy on the hilt of the sword hanging at his side. “I gave the order to run for it, didn’t? I certainly hoped the others paid attention, that was a nasty blow over the head I got before I was captured. The other fellow got worse, though, so it’s not so bad.”
“We thought they’d imprisoned you.”
At this he smiled, that curious mixture of soberness and humor quirking his mouth. “There is always a path, even when one cannot see it.”
  “Dana, that entire valley was overrun, how could you possibly have gotten out?”
  He merely shrugged. “As I said, there is always a way. Let’s just say… we ought not to overestimate their patrol patterns. Besides, I’m one of The Order, aren’t I?”
  “Yes…” I couldn’t help but smile, and a short laugh escaped me. He had no idea what a relief it was that he had turned up.
Dana has to do the same thing for the sections that are written from his perspective.
As I said before, it is an interesting challenge. The skype transcripts are very succinct, and not very descriptive when it comes to thoughts and feelings. It's very action based, showing the external far more than the internal. Prose, on the other hand, leaves open for thoughts, emotions, and also sensations.

On the technical side, I open both the document containing the transcript and leave it open on one side of my computer screen, then open the document containing all of my transcribed segments and place that on the other side of the screen. In this way I can write the prose version of whatever section I'm working on without having to switch back and forth between document windows constantly. I can see both of them at the same time and reference each as I need to.

One of the difficulties with transcribing is filling in the gaps while staying true to the pace of the original transcript.  I have a natural tendency to jump straight to the abstract and forget the concrete. I go to the meaning without writing the symbol, as it were. This isn't as much of a problem as it has been in the past, but it does rear its ugly head more often than I'd like. It's a conscious effort to remember the facts as well as the meanings. So when I fill in the gaps, I must keep myself from rambling on explaining emotions. At the same time, however, the goal of turning FtGG into prose is to have the freedom to present the facts in a better, more descriptive manner, not create a replica of what was in the transcript to begin with. It's a balance, and like all balances, it must be continually strived for.

I would have to ask Dana what he finds to be the most challenging aspect of trancsribing, and add onto this post later.

Not surprisingly, the prose sections are much longer than the transcript sections. As such, there have been close to eight prose parts posted on here, while there were only about five parts to begin with. Words add up. As with my other writing, I use my Writer Sense -- an author's super power -- to guess where I should cut off each prose segment. I can invariably tell where to cut a segment off just by knowing it when I come to it. However, I do attempt to keep the segments restricted to a certain length so that they'll be longer than a regular blog post, but not so long that readers will get bored before it's over. I'm not sure if I've succeeded, but I do try.

Once the prose section has been finished, I send it to Dana for him to look over. He checks it for reaction mistakes on the part of his characters. (More on character control later.) Once the proper edits have been made, viola! I post it on my blog for all to see.

Even onces it's posted, however, my wonderful best friend Siani Delaney will read through the latest section and point out any glaring errors I have inevitably missed. Most of the time its a spelling, tense, or grammar error. She's a lifesaver when it comes to the technical stuff, because that is not my area of expertise at all, but it is very much hers.

And that's how it works! The thing, I think, that makes FtGG a little more unique is that it's being written without any prior knowledge to how it's going to turn out. Neither Dana nor I know what is going to happen next until it happens. But both being storytellers, we are able to pull it all together without it becoming a chaotic, aimless mess.

I know this post is getting rather long by now, but I thought it would be interesting to list the characters in conjunction with which of us is writing him/her. Obviously, Dana and I play ourselves within the story, but here are the others.

Characters Written by Dana
Captain Wesley

Characters Written by Penny

Those are all the characters featured at the moment. I'm sure more will come in later on, but for now these have been sufficient. And now I will end this exeedingly rambling post. Hopefully it's been interesting, at least, or even helpful for those who would like to do a blog story of their own.

Dia duit,

1 comment:

  1. This is _almost_ as good as a FtGG addition. And very interesting. My friend and I did something very similar to this once, but it only lasted a day.


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