Writing

A New Process Has Come for My Writing: It Involves More Outlining and Fewer Drafts

I wish I had come up with this technique earlier. I don’t know if it’ll work, but I suppose it is worth trying.

Why am I choosing this process, you might ask? It’s because I want to write my novels a little more quickly, but also keep the quality high. Okay, okay, I get what you’re probably thinking. Writing a good book takes time, and sometimes, that can mean several years.

I agree with that. There have even been authors who worked on their novels for at least ten years. But for me, writing my third installment of my fantasy book series for nearly four and a half years, and still not being finished with it, is now tiring. Of course, I will keep at it until it’s the best it can be.

However, for my next installment, the fourth book (no title yet), I don’t want it to lag. So, I’ve decided on a new way of producing the following story and all future books. Here is the plan:

1: Write a super-sloppy and short first draft (I’ve done that already).

2: Write and revise synopses for the WIP until I am satisfied with one and think it’ll work.

3: Write the story using the best synopsis at the moment, but let the writing be sloppy and weak, if necessary, just so the words can get on the page.

4: Strengthen the writing to a good-quality kind, and once it feels right, submit it to an editor.

5: Repeat steps 2 to 4 until the story is completely great and is ready to be published.

If you want to try this process, it’s better if you already know the writing craft rules and have excellent skills at it. And that can (and almost always) take several years.

I started learning the writing craft when I was about eighteen and it took me over seven years to produce great-quality stories with great writing.

Now when I say great, I mean it. Books with just good or decent writing didn’t satisfy me when I published them. They were good, but not excellent. I ended up removing them from the market. The experience was not as satisfying as I’d predicted. It may be different for others, but it wasn’t for me.

Anyway, if you are a writer with great writing abilities, it is probably okay to find a shortcut with getting your story down and ready for publication more quickly.

I’m actually teaching myself to work on two projects at once. In the past, I’d only work on one at a time. But I’m changing my mind about that. I don’t want to keep readers waiting too long for the next installments of my series or any other books I may write. So, I’m working on both my third and fourth installments at the same time.

Writing

Why Names Rarely Have Purposes in My Writing

Many authors choose names for their characters based on their personalities. The names often have meanings for each character based on their behaviors and backstories.

I, however, am not normally like that. I usually choose names for my characters simply by how much they appeal to me. Of course, I take into consideration the characters’ races, religions, ethnicities, and generations when I name them.

While I never name characters based on their personalities, there are a few times my characters’ names had purposes.

For example, in book 1 of my “Magical Missions” series, the main antagonist is Beau Duchamp. I chose Beau so that kids could pronounce his name more easily for a French man.

Another example is Errol, the villain in book 2 of my series. He was inspired by the Grim Reaper. He was also originally named Peril and was eviler in early drafts of the story. However, editors have said that he wasn’t wicked enough to be called “Peril.” So, I changed his name to something that rhymed with his original name.

In my third installment, the main villain has a made-up name: Boo-Champ Corey. The name represents a combination of two other bad guys from my series world.

The final character is a wizard mentor called Mr. Reuber. He was inspired by Hagrid from “Harry Potter”, so his last name sounds similar to Hagrid’s first name, Rubeus. Of course, he isn’t a representation of J.K. Rowling’s creation and he does differ from Hagrid, as well.

However, since book 3 hasn’t been published yet, I don’t know if those characters will make it to the final draft. Hopefully, they will.

Other than these examples, my characters’ names were chosen purely based on what I liked.

fiction

7 is a Magic Number in “Harry Potter” and I Have 7 Unique Questions About it

I am not making up the fact that the number 7 plays an important part in the “Harry Potter” series. People have said it many times. There are 7 books in the main series, 7 Weasley siblings, 7 years at Hogwarts, 7 players per Quidditch team, and 7 horcruxes.

Anyway, here are 7 unique questions I have about the franchise.

1: Do Ilvermorny Students learn French and Spanish?

It was great to learn that there is an American wizard school. Everyone even got to learn about it in the 2016 film, “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them.” However, it serves not only wizard children in the US, but also all of North America. That means Canada, Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean.

I did research on this school on a Wikia site and saw that they learn the same subjects British and Irish children learn at Hogwarts, like transfiguration, potions, and so forth. But if it’s all of North America, where some people speak Spanish or French, how do students and staff communicate with everybody?

2: Why aren’t national anthems sung before Quidditch games?

In real life, the country’s national anthem is always sung at sporting events before the games start. But in “Harry Potter”, no national anthem has been sung before Quidditch games. Obviously, muggle-borns know their country’s national anthems, but do kids who grew up in the wizarding world know them? Could the International Statue of Secrecy have gotten in the way?

3: Does Dumbledore know Harry’s handwriting?

When Harry’s name comes out of the goblet of fire in the fourth installment, everyone accuses him of cheating. But he didn’t enter. Someone else entered for him.

Although Dumbledore has a ton of responsibilities, and can’t keep track of every student’s information (such as their dates of birth), he seems to think Harry put his name in the goblet of fire right after it comes out.

I don’t remember if Harry’s handwriting was described. But does it really mimic or resemble similarities to the actual person who entered Harry into the Triwizard Tournament? At the very least, Harry would have recognized his own handwriting and may have convinced Dumbledore and everybody else that he didn’t recognize the handwriting on the parchment if it differed from the person who entered him.

4: Could Harry have forged Uncle Vernon’s handwriting for his Hogsmeade Permission Slip?

In “Prisoner of Azkaban”, Harry has his third year at Hogwarts. Third year students can visit the local village, Hogsmeade, as long as they have a parent or guardian’s permission. Harry convinces Uncle Vernon to sign his permission form, but he refuses unless Harry behaves. But Harry gets angry at Uncle Vernon’s sister, Marge, and he unintentionally causes her to blow up like a balloon and fly away. So, there went his chance of getting his form signed.

However, what if Harry forged Uncle Vernon’s signature? Yes, it’s dishonest. Maybe magic has a way of detecting forgery, but I could be wrong. While the trace detects underage wizardry, I can’t imagine that it or any other magic that monitors wizards tracks every action a magician takes.

5: Why is the age of consent 17 in the wizarding world?

Authors usually have reasons behind details in their stories, especially J.K. Rowling. She chooses names and other elements carefully and with meanings. But it seems to be a mystery to why wizards are legally adults when they turn 17.

6: Who takes care of the students’ animals when they’re in classes?

For some odd reason, students are allowed to bring animals. They have owls for delivering mail. They can also bring a cat or a toad (and a rat in Ron’s case until something about that changes). But where do the animals go when students can’t be with them? How do they act? When do they get their food, relieving breaks, and so forth?

While Hagrid is the gamekeeper, he can’t possibly take care of every single animal, especially cats since they make him sneeze. Hmmm…

7: What happens if a wizard child moves to another country?

When a wizard kid is born, his or her name is added to the respected wizarding school list of their nation. Obviously, they have to grow up and be 11 by September 1st before they can attend. But schools, like Hogwarts, are only available to children in the UK and Ireland.

So, my guess is that if a magician kid moves to another country, his or her name is crossed off the old school’s list and added to the new one. For instance, if a child moves from England to France, maybe their name is removed from the Hogwarts’ list and added to the Beaubaxtons list.

That’s it for all the questions I have about “Harry Potter” that I can’t find elsewhere.

TV show

Get into “Dexter’s Laboratory” and Check Out These Top 4 Memorable Moments

Ah, the early 2000’s Cartoon Network ruled. For me, those were the golden days. And one of those golden-era shows was “Dexter’s Laboratory”.

If you recall the premise, it focused on a young boy genius who had a secret lab with so many high-tech gadgets, machines, and more. But his annoying older sister, Deedee, enters and plays around with things. I love her famous line, “Ooh, what does this button do?” Bad Deedee!

Anyway, I am going to share the top moments that stand out to me from the show. Here it goes.

4: When Dexter is in Deedee’s body

When a woman asks “Deedee” how she’s doing, it turns out that Dexter’s in her body and is being annoying by going, “Deedee dumb, Deedee dumb.” Deedee, meanwhile, is stuck in her and Dexter’s mom’s body, and a dog is in Dexter’s body, panting. Lol.

3: Mandark’s unrealistic sobs

There is a dialogue-free short where Mandark, a mean kid Dexter dislikes, sounds his signature laugh. But eventually, he cries, and it sounds exactly like his evil laugh, except that the ha’s become wahs. It went “Wah-huh-huh, wah-huh-huh-huh-huh-huh!”

2: When Deedee wants to be a pony

In some episode (I don’t remember the name), Deedee and her friends are fantasizing about being ponies. Deedee breaks down into tears and runs home, wanting to become a pony. Dexter turns her into one, however, he tries to ride her when she wants to be free. She even rejects the saddle Dexter almost puts on her.

1: The events in the episode, “Don’t Be a Baby”

In order to see a mature movie, Dexter and Deedee go into a machine to make themselves older. However, thanks to Deedee tripping over a wire, the machine turns everybody in the world into babies, including Dexter’s monkey and computer. Deedee and Dexter end up taking care of their parents, who have become infants.

This episode cracked me up. Even though I haven’t seen it in years, I still recall it very well. I loved when the computer made baby babbles. Could you imagine your computer doing that? It would be quite impractical.

And the part when Deedee sings for her baby parents a lullaby was hilarious. It went, “Go to sleep, go to sleep, go to sleep, Mommy and Daddy.” It followed the tune of “Lullaby and Goodnight”. Ha ha ha, although this wouldn’t be funny in real life.

So, there you have it.

movie, TV show

Have You Noticed These Differences Between the “Jimmy Neutron” Movie and TV Series?

It all began in 2001 when a young boy genius was introduced to us and the famous line he often says will never leave our minds:

“3… 2… 1… Gotta Blast!”

That’s right, I’m talking about the one and only…Jimmy Neutron. The theatrical release started it all. Then came the TV show, “The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius”.

All right, I guess that’s enough introduction. This post is meant to point out the differences between the movie and television series.

So, without further ado, let’s get started.

1: Jimmy’s voice is slightly higher in the film

This is something I noticed when I watched the movie recently after seeing many episodes of the TV show. Could this be an inconsistency, or did Jimmy start puberty in between and his voice is changing? Not sure about the latter, but maybe the voice actress (yup, Jimmy is voiced by a woman) chose to or was instructed to sound more masculine.

2: Jimmy and his friends’ outfits change in the TV series

Once the show premiered on Nickelodeon, Jimmy had long pants instead of shorts, Carl had no straps on his pants, Cindy had a ponytail instead of pigtails, khaki pants, and a halter top (which, by the way, would be forbidden at school in real life). Sheen and Libby’s clothes remain the same until after the Egyptian episode for Libby. Not only does she wear her hair in several braids, but she also has a shirt and jeans instead of a dress. Who knows why the characters’ outfits changed?

3: Jimmy’s brain blast is out loud in the TV show while the opposite in the film

If you’ve seen the movie, do you notice how when Jimmy tries to get a brain blast, his mouth doesn’t move? That’s probably because it’s his internal thought.

However, in the series, he starts saying his brain blasts out loud. Another mystery to why the creators made that update for the TV show.

4: There are a bunch of extras in the film that don’t make it to the series

One detail I noticed about the show is that they always show the same extras and there are likely only up to twenty or so, excluding the main and major characters. And Retroville is a suburb and city, not a small town.

When I viewed the movie, I noticed a lot more extras, many which never appeared again. They could have all moved away. Or the TV show had a lower budget. The second one is possible, especially since the series only had three seasons, regardless of its popularity.

Do you notice any details about “Jimmy Neutron” that I didn’t?

Writing

Developing Protagonists and How I Did it

Every writer develops his or her protagonist his or her own way. Some are inspired by real people, which is how I think Lewis Carroll developed the character, Alice, for “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”. According to a magazine, His heroine shared the same name with a real girl, also called Alice.

While many of us know that J.K. Rowling came up with the basic idea of “Harry Potter” on a delayed train, she used some of her own life experiences to build Harry.

As for my protagonist, Alyssa McCarthy, the development of her goes back further than anyone could imagine. In fact, the inspiration for the character dates back to when I was in 2nd grade, and it came from a source that nobody would have expected: An early reader book.

That was “Morris Goes to School”. After reading it, I got inspired to do my own version of that story, but with an upright polar bear named Spike. I evolved Spike into a child polar bear who went to school with human children. One of those extras was a girl with long blonde hair, who got her own spinoff in my mind, where she lived in a house in a jungle and had animal friends. The girl could talk to those creatures, too. I envisioned that creation from maybe third grade and all through fourth grade, but abandoned the idea in fifth grade. Like my MC today, her name was also Alyssa.

For the next several years, I lost interest in creative writing since everything I thought of sounded no good after. However, that changed in early eleventh grade.

While in the shower, the same idea of what I daydreamed about in fourth grade of a girl called Alyssa with long blonde hair who had a supernatural ability hit my mind. After that, I brainstormed ideas and wrote a story similar to my childhood imagination. Sadly, no one else liked it.

Fast forward to my freshman year of college and I scrapped the original idea and turned it into something more appealing. It took a while to create another tale of a girl named Alyssa with long blonde tresses, but with better ideas from me.

While she does have a few similarities to me, such as her sense of style and some food tastes, Alyssa, my current protagonist, is also quite different from me. I developed her personality with a combination of some of the Disney princesses. I also got a ton of inspiration from the “Harry Potter” series for Alyssa’s life and the events that happened to her as well as what goes on in the stories. In fact, readers have constantly compared my “Magical Missions” series to the “Harry Potter” franchise since they share a lot of similarities, but not enough to be exact.

That is the true history of how I developed my main character.

Writing

Don’t be Shy and Give it a Try: Research by Asking Real People

With research, you look for more than just the craft rules. Those include the setting your story takes place, the laws of that society, and much more.

While I have researched common things like how detention works in schools, one thing I needed to learn more about involved a minor backstory error in both the first and second installments of my novels.

However, I am resolving it by adding a twist to that mistake in the third book. It will reveal how that incorrect statement had been false the whole time.

If you can’t find anything relevant to the research needed for your project, sometimes it is best to ask someone who is an expertise in that specific field. Just give him or her enough information about your project as well as your question. I did that for the little error I made in my books due to not performing careful research on it.

You can also join writing forums for help, as well. The one I participate in when I have questions has a research section. That is where I asked about things I had to know, and would be harder to seek through Google.

That is also where I found out how detention works in schools, since in my series’ second installment, my main character lands in it. However, I never got detention in school, which is obviously a good thing. But I still received useful answers.

Another topic I needed to learn more about was how much stress it would take for somebody to end up in shock. Unlike the detention subject, though, this element did not make it into my first book, where it was intended to go.

While the Internet may be there 24/7 (for the most part), you can always ask real people for research questions whether it’s one person or on a forum.

Writing

Coming Up with a Terrific Title

Image from Pixabay

Ah, titles, you’ve got to love them—or dislike them. Titles matter a lot for a book to sell, whether it’s commercially or self-published.

In traditional publishing, the publisher comes up with the titles for books. But in self-publishing, the author is responsible for his or her book title. And that can be a big challenge.

If you don’t know, authors who take the commercial route have to give up control (if they even get accepted, which is super-difficult) for their manuscript. The publishing house decides everything. But if a writer chooses to self-publish, he or she gets to retain full control.

That being said, he or she needs to do homework and research on what would work for getting his or her book to sell. While self-publishing is receiving a better reputation that before, unfortunately, it still has a kind-of weak one. Too many indie authors don’t take careful consideration for their products and will decide on ideas that just appeal to them.

That was an issue with me when I first published the beginning installment of my “Magical Missions” series in 2013. I wanted to use alliteration, so I titled the story, “From Frights to Flaws.” Little did I know that it was a weak title and people said that it hadn’t made sense. When I revised and re-published the new version in 2018, I kept the original title, but added 2nd edition to it. Sales improved, but not to my satisfaction. Once again, I was told that my title made no sense.

So, I did a poll somewhere and came up with an alternate title, “The Frights of Fiji”. The new title pleased people more and got the most votes. I then changed the title, as well as made a few minor updates to the cover, blurb, opening chapter, and even got to have the story be perma-free.

Titles can be difficult to brainstorm. So, now I come up with a few ideas and have people vote for which they think is the strongest. This can be a good idea for when you need to title your book(s).

TV show

Hold on Your Diapees, Babies, We’re Going to Analyze “Rugrats”

Anyone born in the 90’s probably watched, or at least heard of “Rugrats”, the show about talking-babies. Well—they also speak to each other, but never the adults, except Angelica and her peers, Susie and Edwin, and possibly a third kid. I can’t recall.

Anyway, there are many memorable moments. One is where Chuckie dreamt about what life would be like if he was never born and he had a guardian angel, which he called a garden angel. It was pretty sad since Tommy was stuck in the garage, his parents were slaves to Angelica, who was obese and would force Dee and Stew, the parents and aunt and uncle to her, to bring her cookies.

Speaking of which, there is a Passover episode, since one family is Jewish, and Angelica is told that she couldn’t have cookies during that time since bread isn’t allowed during that holiday range. Angelica pointed out that cookies didn’t have bread in them, but then learned and understood why she couldn’t eat them during Passover. Regardless of her lesson, that’s pretty mature for a 3-year-old. Most real children that age would unlikely understand that and throw a tantrum to get what they want.

In the episode where Angelica gets in trouble for playing in her dad’s study, she sneaks out, takes her little jeep around town, and then orders the babies to get her some cookies. Sadly, the box is too high for them to reach. So, instead, they give her dog biscuits, which she enjoys until she finds out what they are.

There was also an episode where the family goes somewhere where Reptar the dinosaur is, but the group goes to Goober, another character. What I found cruel, and would definitely result in penalties in real life, is that some staff grabbed Tommy’s Reptar toy from him, made him cry, and gave him a Goober doll instead. Not cool.

Another aspect that would usually be too mature in a children’s show is death. Chuckie had lost his mother before the events of the series began. In “Rugrats in Paris”, while on the plane, Chuckie looks out the window and envisions memories of his mother. Now here comes some spoilers***

Chuckie’s dad marries Kira, who becomes Chuckie’s stepmother, and Kimmy becomes his stepsister. From that point on, the intro theme updates and includes Kira and Kimmy. Then there’s the sequel show, “All Grown Up”, where the babies are older and in junior high. I’ve seen a little bit of it, but not enough to discuss my thoughts on the show.

Speaking of older, there was an episode about Tommy liking to be naked and Phil and Lil undressed themselves. Now that I’m older, I realize that that’s too inappropriate for kids.

Anyhow, I could go on and on about more memorable moments. But I’ve seen so many episodes, as well the specials and movies, that I feel it’s too much to list here.

While I watched “Rugrats” when I was younger, I have lost strong feelings about much of the premise and moments. However, the ones I discussed still stand out to me.

fiction

Harry Potter Mystery: Why Don’t We Hear About Wizards with Disabilities?

While J.K. Rowling has addressed and revealed different elements of the “Harry Potter” franchise, including sexual orientations (Dumbledore was gay), there are topics she discussed little to nothing on. Those include vampires, because she claims they’re cliched, religion, even though she mentioned that there were Jewish wizards, such as Anthony Goldstein, and what this post is about: disabilities. Disabilities are never mentioned in “Harry Potter”, except for a blind wizard that didn’t make it to the books and the possibility of Professor McGonagall being in a wheelchair temporarily. But we never hear about wizards and witches who are deaf, mute, or have other physical or neurological disabilities. There have been no clues to special ed at Hogwarts or handicapped pathways or restrooms in the wizarding world.

Although there have not been big discussions about this from major sources, I’m not the first to notice the lack of possible neurodiversity in the “Harry Potter” series. For instance, I saw a comment on YouTube where someone said that they wanted to ask J.K. Rowling if there were autistic wizards, but they couldn’t find a way to contact her. I was thinking, I don’t know. Maybe. We do know there are Jewish, gay, and Transgender wizards. Another person asked on Quora if Hermione had Asperger’s (which I highly doubt), and another YouTuber came up with a theory that Newt Scamander from the spinoff “Fantastic Beasts” franchise had Autism (which I also think is highly unlikely as he didn’t seem that way to me).

Speaking of theories, I have come up with a guess on why neurodiversity is never discussed in “Harry Potter”. Maybe when J.K. Rowling was planning the series in the 90’s, she might not have thought about disabilities at the time. Think about it—the only option for magical education in her books’ world is going to the designated boarding schools. If a child doesn’t learn to control his or her wizardry and suppresses it, he or she becomes an obscurial, where he or she turns into smoke. In fact, many obscurial children don’t live past age 10.

I don’t know the real reason why Rowling never address disabilities in the wizarding world, but the only guesses I have are best to be avoided here. Have you noticed this detail as well?