Friday, April 18, 2014

This still haunts me

It's Good Friday and I'm sick. My church had a special event set up today with several stations set up throughout the building taking you from the garden up to the crucifixion of Christ, and I had to miss it. I was told it was amazingly powerful and I'm sure it was.

A few years back I listened to a sermon that had to do with the last moments of Christ, and it's a sermon that stays fresh on my mind because of how impacting it was. I'd like to share it all with you now as you go into your Easter weekend.

What you're looking at is an ancient public toilet area in Ephesus. There were no doors, no stalls, not even toilet paper. That little culvert or trough on the ground in front of the toilets was filled with running water. Men using these toilets (apparently women weren't allowed to use them) would have to scoop up water and clean themselves that way before they were done. Well, after a time, some guys came up with a great idea. They decided to put a sea sponge on the end of a long stick, dip it into the water, and clean people that way.

Some people started getting infections from these cleanings, so the men began to use vinegar or wine to disinfect the sponges between cleanings. This is where a revelation comes in. I have to tell you, it's disturbing, and it hurt my heart. I hope it will always hurt my heart.

Luke 23: 36-37 says this: "The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”

Think about that for a second. This man was hanging on a cross high above the reach of an arm offering a flask. Jesus was offered wine from a sponge. There's nothing in the bible about this sponge or where it came from, but what do you think the likelihood is that this was some random clean sponge on a stick? This man, who was beaten, mocked, hated by so many...I have a hard time believing they would, in a moment of kindness, want him to have anything clean. So he had this dirty, filth-ridden sponge shoved to his lips to relieve his thirst. He had that taste in his mouth when he died, that smell in his nose. And yet, even as this last cruelty was being done to him, he was loving the ones holding the sponge to his mouth, forgiving them and praying for them.

I don't know why, but out of all the images of the crucifixion, this one is the most haunting to me. It angers me more than the beatings and the ridicule. And it makes me love Jesus with such a fresh wave of emotions that it almost brings me to tears. He did that for me. He endured that for me. How many "modern day saviors" would drink from a sponge that was used to clean people after they went to the bathroom? I could see some taking the beatings and dealing with the harsh words. But this? I can't see anyone willing to do that for anyone else.

I think we take the gift of Jesus' sacrifice too casually on most days. At least I know I do. I hope this image reminds you of how much you are loved, and how much Jesus would take to assure you were forgiven and had an eternal place with him in Heaven.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Answering some questions

Someone over on Tumblr sent me a bunch of questions about writing and I decided to answer them here because it's such a long answer. To see the post in which these questions originate, click here.

Harbinger is still being made into an audio drama, yes. We have about fifteen different amazingly talented VA's doing voices, music,'s going to be amazing and our first episode should be out next month! I'll definitely be dropping by FimFiction to let people know. As far as giving any of my other stories the same treatment? Probably not. And that answer goes for fanfic as well. I'm still half a season behind in the show and I've kind of fallen out of the fandom for the most part. While it's still good entertainment I think they're playing to the fans too much now. Slendermane, the moment of severely obvious fanservice with Applejack that I've heard about, something about LyraBon? I'm kind of over it. I know I promised a Harbinger sequel but I don't think that's actually going to happen, much to the sadness of my actors. Fanfic sucks away all my desire to work on my own stuff and that is not good, so I'm trying to stay away from writing any sort of fanfic all together now.

I am definitely working on getting published. Actually, in the next week or two I will have the final draft of my manuscript complete and I'll be diving into the world of literary agents and publishers. I'll be sure to keep everyone posted on that as well! It's the first book in a series, Christian Fantasy but more Fantasy than Christian. I hope people will love it!

Writing original fiction is very different from fanfic in a lot of ways. You don't have established characters, settings, relationships, etc. that you know well. It's all coming from you so you have to get to know them. Sometimes I write little one-shots to flesh them out a bit, see how they interact with others and such. Don't be surprised if you have one thing in mind for a character and they turn out to be something else. One of the characters in my series, Cavalon, was meant to be quiet, reserved, wise and very much in the background. He decided he was going to be annoying, snarcastic, narcissistic, and very much not in the background. I had to reel him in so he didn't steal the spotlight from the main character too much. Which sounds funny but it's true. They take on lives of their own.

For this particular book I just wrote with very little plan in mind. In the end it worked out but I wish I had done it differently. I am now a big advocate of planning out things because it leaves less room for plot holes. Here is what I did for a project I am working on right now.

Once I know what I want to write about, I write down what I know. Names, relationships, anything about setting and scenes. It doesn't have to be in order and it doesn't have to be complete. Just get down what you know so you don't lose it. Trust me, you'll be glad you did. Also make use of a recorder when driving. A lot of stuff comes to me when I'm driving alone and I record it on my phone so I don't lose it. These are the things that are inspiring you to write in the first place so it's so important that you don't lose any of it.

Make a list of characters: Protagonists, Antagonists, and Power Players. The Power Players are important characters to the plot who neither lean too much to good or bad. But they are integral and their absence would disrupt things. Think Discord in MLP after his reformation, or even Kristoff in Frozen who is neither expressly good or bad. Dumbledor is another good example of what a Power Player can be. He is mostly good, definitely not a main character, but important none the less.

Just jot down what you know about them for now, find detailed character sheets online to fill out about them when you get stuck in the planning. Which will happen. Trust me.

Now for the plot. Believe it or not, ending is more important than beginning. If it's just a one story deal, write down where it will end and what is happening, how everything comes together for the great resolve. If it is part of a larger series, now write down these very same things for the overall series. Now figure out the beginning of just that first book. Once that is done, you have a nice shell to work within, But you still need a setting and genre to make things complete.

Are you writing a love story? An adventure? Mystery? It can be more than one but it should focus more toward one than another. That is what will drive your story and keep it from being swept up in needless scenes.

Your setting involves a lot more than landscape, especially if you're writing sci-fi or fantasy. You need to know your magical system, your political system, relations between countries - if there are grudges being held, alliances - who is in power. What is the level of technology, currency, things like this. This part is fun because you're building a world!

Now you start asking yourself "What comes next?" a lot. Look at the basic shell you've created and start filling in scenes. Start at the beginning and ask yourself that question. Write down the answer. Ask again. Rinse and repeat. If you get stuck, find a different scene and ask, "How did it get here?" meaning, what happened just prior to this that made it end up here? If you get really stuck, work on some character sheets for awhile. Spend time with them. Get to know the people whose lives you're playing with. Things will begin to come to you, I promise.

Eventually you will have a brilliant list of scenes and a hefty file full of character sheets. Now it's time to break things down into chapters. A chapter can consist of anywhere from 2-5 scenes, depending on dramatic tension and action. Do this until all of the important scenes you wanted are mapped out and in order of plot progression. Keep going until you have your entire book mapped out from beginning to end, then read it through a couple of times to make sure it flows right. Can you picture it all happening naturally? Does something stick out as not really belonging? Are there moments that drag and have no real importance? There are need to know things.

Once you are comfortable with that, get writing! You already have a map, now it's time to get behind the wheel and drive. It's a fantastic journey that will make you laugh, maybe make you cry, definitely make you want to kill someone (fictional or not) at least twice. And when you reach the end you'll feel like you're saying goodbye to friends you've known your entire life, even if there is another book with them coming.

Really long answer to your question but I hope it helps. I learned this method from another writer (don't ask me who -_-) awhile ago and it has been my formula since. Other writers probably have very different methods. It all comes down to what works for you. If this doesn't I encourage you to seek out other writers whose work inspires you and pick their brains. We're all a little narcissistic and love talking about this to an extent anyway.

There is no place online where my original works can be read since I want to publish them someday, sorry.

I wish you luck on this exciting new venture. Please don't hesitate to ask any more questions, I'd love to help when I can. And also keep me posted! I'd love to see what you come up with!

Diana Does Stuff Copyright © 2012 Design by Ipietoon Blogger Template