1. X Equestris

    X Equestris Contributor Contributor

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    Project Journal: The Silver Shrike

    Discussion in 'Progress Journals' started by X Equestris, May 30, 2018.

    Here's the progress journal for my first stab at a novel. For nearly the past two weeks, I've been so wrapped up writing it that I procrastinated creating this thread.

    Set in one of the only surviving cities in a post-apocalyptic secondary world, The Silver Shrike is essentially a superhero story mixed with Renaissance-inspired fantasy. It will involve two rotating POV characters (my first experience with shifting POVs in one work), with very short interludes involving letters, newspaper clippings, and excerpts between each chapter.

    I'm aiming to avert or toy with common superhero fiction pitfalls, clichés, and tropes, such as origins involving the death of a loved one, villains who are evil for the sake of being evil, no-kill codes, and the whole "Dating Catwoman" trope. Fingers crossed this all works out.
     
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  2. X Equestris

    X Equestris Contributor Contributor

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    To date, I've got 16,546 words, spread across a prologue, three chapters, and four interludes.

    Compared to yesterday's 2236 words, today was fairly slow. I got in a few hundred words between Interlude #4 and revisions on Chapter 3, and edited Chapter 3. I had intended to write Chapter 4 today, but I'm reconsidering its first scene, so I need some time to plan.
     
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  3. X Equestris

    X Equestris Contributor Contributor

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    Started and finished Chapter 4 today. That works out to 2284 words. I'm now sitting at 18,831 total.

    With this done, both my main POV characters have donned their heroic identities for the first time. With most of the groundwork laid, things should move at a bit faster pace now.
     
  4. X Equestris

    X Equestris Contributor Contributor

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    Finished Interlude #5 and the first scene of Chapter 5 today. About 1,420 words, give or take.
     
  5. X Equestris

    X Equestris Contributor Contributor

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    Started and finished Scene 2 of Chapter 5. That was 2296 words.

    This was a pretty big fight scene, my MC's first big challenge, and leaves him badly wounded. Not to be sadistic, but there's something enjoyable about throwing obstacles at your characters.
     
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  6. X Equestris

    X Equestris Contributor Contributor

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    Finished Chapter 5 and Interlude #6 today. 1280 words today.

    The next chapter will see the first meeting of my POV characters.
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2018
  7. X Equestris

    X Equestris Contributor Contributor

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    Wrote all of Chapter 6. 3335 words.

    If I'm lucky, I'll wrap up Act 1 this weekend. We'll see how things go.
     
  8. Stormburn

    Stormburn Contributor Contributor

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    Looks like an interesting project. I'm looking forward to your updates.
     
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  9. X Equestris

    X Equestris Contributor Contributor

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    Started and finished Interlude #7 today, then edited. Only a few hundred words, but the weather was the sort that's so dreary it sucks the life out of you.

    Aiming to start and finish Chapter 7 tomorrow. Shouldn't be too long. Chapter 8 will be harder, especially since I'm merging the ideas I had outlined for 8 and 9. Once the merged 8 is done, I'll be finished with the first act.
     
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  10. X Equestris

    X Equestris Contributor Contributor

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    Started and finished Chapter 7. 2736 words today. Currently sitting at about 30,500 words total.
     
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  11. X Equestris

    X Equestris Contributor Contributor

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    A busy weekend kept me from getting much writing done, but I did complete Interlude #8 today. Only 216 words, but progress is progress.
     
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  12. X Equestris

    X Equestris Contributor Contributor

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    Started and finished scene 1 of Chapter 8, and got a little ways into scene 2. 1809 words today.
     
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  13. X Equestris

    X Equestris Contributor Contributor

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    Finished Scenes 2,3, and 4 of Chapter 8. 2741 words today.

    Only one more scene left in Chapter 8, and Act 1 as a whole. This one will introduce the true antagonist for the first time.
     
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  14. X Equestris

    X Equestris Contributor Contributor

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    Started and finished the last scene of Chapter 8. Just shy of 2300 words today. That rounds out Act 1. My manuscript is standing at almost 38000 words so far.

    I tweaked the story a little from my outline, having one of my heroes formally join the main antagonist's group (a sort of rebel/neighborhood watch/ violent vigilante movement) out of fear of retaliation if she declined, when I previously had her declining but collaborating with one of its members. So she'll be acting as something of a mole until the midpoint, when her supposed allies (one of whom will be a lover) betray her.
     
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  15. X Equestris

    X Equestris Contributor Contributor

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    I mostly focused on editing today, though I did finish Interlude 9. That was 236 words.

    I also reworked my outline to fit the tweaks I've made so far. 28 chapters remain, plus an epilogue.
     
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  16. X Equestris

    X Equestris Contributor Contributor

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    More editing today. No original writing.

    I think I might take this break between acts to post about some influences and inspirations for this project.
     
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  17. X Equestris

    X Equestris Contributor Contributor

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    Since I didn't really do anything today, I'll post about some inspirations.

    The post-apocalyptic elements aren't going to be getting a ton of focus with this particular novel, since it's set in one of the few cities still standing, but they're still pretty important.

    The apocalypse itself is almost a magic version of a reactor meltdown, mixed with nuclear war. At the end of a six year, continent spanning war, desperate occultists from the losing nation conduct a ritual intended to turn the tide. It ends up breaking a key part of the world's metaphysics and releasing waves of energy that devastate the whole planet.

    All life is scoured from the occultists' homeland. Weaker waves flatten almost all human structures in Eurasia-equivalent landmass, and wipe out lots of plant and land animal life. The equivalent of the Americas gets off considerably lighter, but is still pretty disrupted.

    The planet itself has some pretty major alterations. For one, bands of light cover the night sky, almost blotting out the stars. These are are called shatterlights (after what happened to the sky) and are inspired by aurorae.

    image.jpeg

    Every night, between one and five inches of tiny gray crystals falls, even when there aren't any clouds in the sky. The locals call it skydust, but I might introduce other names in any later books I write. This stuff is inspired by volcanic ash, though it's nowhere near as dense and it rapidly breaks down in sunlight. Some rumors and one of the interludes suggest that it's slowly killing off land-based plant life, and may cause a food shortage soon.

    The Cataclysm's survivors also have to deal with the Affliction, a sort of allergic reaction to the return of magic. 40% of people recover after a week of flu-like symptoms. 50% linger a month or more before dying. 9% are left permanently, horrifically disfigured (their treatment is inspired by that of lepers in the medieval era). The remaining 1% emerge intact, with some sort of useful ability.

    If I get around to writing a sequel for this book, I aim to take one of my POV characters out into the wilderness, to see how the parts of the world that weren't shielded by mountains are currently faring. That'll be influenced by Fallout, a bit, with small communities trying to eke out a living while dealing with human brigands and a radically altered ecosystem (with some creatures thought to be legends wandering the world again).
     
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  18. X Equestris

    X Equestris Contributor Contributor

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    Wrapped editing today. Between a few revisions and outlining my interludes, I wrote about 500 words today. I'll be back to writing new chapters tomorrow. 9 will be pretty big, shaking up the main conflict and introducing the antagonist who will be my main character's love interest.

    I might post about character influences and inspiration later.
     
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  19. X Equestris

    X Equestris Contributor Contributor

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    There are a fair number of characters in this book, so I'll just focus on the major protagonists and antagonists, probably strung out over a few days.

    My main character is Zeno Citrelli, the Silver Shrike. He's the youngest son of the city's most powerful crime family. He fought in the previously mentioned continent spanning war, and given his sheltered upbringing it was a wake up call about the plight of the vulnerable. After witnessing the suffering his family is inflicting on an already troubled world, he decides to use nightly transformation forced upon him by the Affliction to do something about it.

    With Shrike, I took influence from a lot of street level comic books vigilantes. In use of fear tactics and reluctance to trust others, he resembles Batman. In commitment to social justice he has touches of Green Arrow. Took inspiration from Daredevil in crafting a powered hero that's not too strong to combat street-level threats.

    I'm partly using him to examine no-kill codes. He starts off with a rigid, Batman-esque one that gradually becomes more like Wonder Woman's. Shrike strives to avoid intentionally killing, but will do it if an enemy poses enough of a threat.

    However, The Godfather's Michael Corleone may be the single biggest influence, especially in terms of origin story. I was striving to avoid the "dead relative" motivating factor common from Batman and Nightwing to Daredevil and Punisher. Zeno's character arc is in some ways an inversion of Michael's.

    Visually, Shrike takes some cues from Lady Vivienne de Tabris (of The Witcher 3's "Warble of a Smitten Knight" quest), with more feather coverage, silver and black instead of green and yellow, and the addition of feathered wings. A picture, for the unfamiliar:

    image.jpeg

    Of course, the loggerhead shrike was itself another visual influence.

    I think I'll alternate between my heroes, their allies, and the villains with these little influences posts. Main antagonist will probably be tomorrow.
     
  20. X Equestris

    X Equestris Contributor Contributor

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    Knocked out Scene 1 of Chapter 9. 1134 words.

    I should be able to do Scene 2 and 3 tomorrow. Neither is very big. That will carry me halfway through the chapter.
     
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  21. X Equestris

    X Equestris Contributor Contributor

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    Time for my second character inspiration post.

    My main antagonist is known as the Heart and leads an extreme neighborhood watch/rebel group (the Lost Souls) that deeply hates the city's crime families. His civilian identity is Brother Nestor Sienna, a popular priest of a foreign cult who runs a network of clinics, soup kitchens, and shelters in the roughest part of town. As the Heart, he's orchestrating a low intensity war against the allied crime families and the officials in their pocket. As Brother Nestor, he's campaigning to become the city's next Doge (a position open thanks to his orders as the Heart).

    Overall, his goals are quite sympathetic, but his means are dangerously disruptive for a city teetering on the brink of collapse, and he's perfectly willing to let the city fall if that means his opponent (Shrike's twin sister and the Chair of the allied crime families) doesn't get to rule it. The Heart feels that freedom, even in the squalid chaos of the outside world, is preferable to living under a Doge who's part of the crime families.

    Influences on the Heart's creation include V, of V for Vendetta, (especially in end goals), Deacon Blackfyre (in terms of leading a powerful religious movement), and Anarky (influencing some of the visual aspects).

    One of the biggest inspirations was actually Jesus. Many of the Heart's followers view him in a messianic light. Less obviously, the Feeding of the Five Thousand inspired the Heart's powers. He can create a dozen perfect copies of one non-living object every three hours, and it's mostly used for food. In a world where food is short and getting shorter thanks to the aftermath of the Cataclysm, this ability has some pretty interesting implications. It's already let him ease one food crisis.

    image.jpeg

    He's what I was talking about in the OP when I said I wanted to avert villains who were evil for evil's sake. The Heart doesn't like all of the measures he takes, such as using leverage to coerce allies, but he does consider them necessary. Hopefully audiences enjoy this moral ambiguity and find him a compelling opponent.
     
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  22. X Equestris

    X Equestris Contributor Contributor

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    As planned, I took care of Scenes 2 and 3 of Ch. 9 today. 1943 words.
     
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  23. X Equestris

    X Equestris Contributor Contributor

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    Continuing the influence posts, I'll bring up my other major antagonist.

    Galatea Bacco née Citrelli is Shrike's twin sister, and heads up the alliance of crime families know as the Committee after their mother dies of old age. She ends up running for Doge to expand the Committee's influence, using connections to the guilds, vast wealth, and some actually decent policy proposals to build an electoral base. Like the Heart, Gal is more a plotter than a physical threat, though she has far greater physical skills than the Heart.

    She's a relatively standard crime boss, with influences ranging from Kingpin to Carmine and Alberto Falcone, as well as some touches of Michael Corleone's post-fall characterization. In an effort to add depth, I made a desire to build something herself (instead of being given or inheriting it) a big part of Galatea's motivation.

    The family connection created some interesting internal conflict, as Shrike struggles to reconcile the sister he loves with the crime boss grinding Izar underneath her heel.

    Galatea's plans end up taking a back seat after the midpoint or so, as Shrike's arc is about realizing there are threats other than them, but in a way she ends up achieving her goals. I hope to let her be a bigger force in a second novel, when the Lost Souls aren't seizing everyone's attention.
     
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  24. X Equestris

    X Equestris Contributor Contributor

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    Took care of Ch. 9 Scene 4 today. 1731 words.
     
  25. X Equestris

    X Equestris Contributor Contributor

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    Today's inspirations and influences post will cover my second POV hero.

    The Augur, Isa Mori, provides a pretty stark contrast with the Silver Shrike. Poor where he's rich, make it up as she goes along whereas he's a meticulous planner, trusting whereas he's suspicious, very religious whereas he's atheist, comedic to his uptight seriousness, untrained while he's a veteran. Their dynamic is one of the things I've enjoyed most so far.

    A former slave, she took over her master's forge following his death due to the Affliction. After the Swordsmiths' Guild threatens to muscle her out of the trade, Mori is inspired by hearing about Shrike's first appearance, and uses her newly discovered powers of foresight to take apart the crime family acting as the Guild's muscle.

    I'm using Augur to examine no kill codes from a different angle than Shrike. After learning that the Committee's muscle is mostly slaves and the desperate poor, her violence is tempered quite a bit. Like Shrike, she ends up settling on a "kill only when absolutely necessary" type code.

    Her relationship with one of my grayer characters will take a look at the "Dating Catwoman" trope, mainly showing how difficult such a relationship would be while its members are working at cross purposes. It'll also fit into her main character arc, with Mori beginning to wonder whether her lover is capable of redemption.

    The Punisher provided the inspiration for the early days of Augur's career (as she initially has no problem killing everyone she fights). Her precognition is based on one of the basic abilities of Force users in Star Wars. Like Shrike, Daredevil influenced how I employed her powers against street level threats. As the hammer she initially uses isn't the greatest tool for non-lethal combat, I'm looking at adding some gadgetry inspired by Batman and the Dishonored franchise.

    Visually, I took some cues from Green Arrow, the newer Robin costumes, and Anarky. Since she doesn't have a transformation that hides her identity like Shrike, she uses a scavenged theater mask.

    image.jpeg
     

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