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Hilene Wants To Write Light Novels!

Hilene

Loves "Friendly Girls"
(She/Her)
Those who know me on Discord should be aware that I read a lot of "light novels", the term which is used in Japan to denote what we would normally describe as "young adult" novels. It does not actually mean anything about the size of the book (though a lot do tend to be on the shorter side; 200~300 pages). That said, though, there's some themes that I personally want to see, either at all or more of, which don't tend to show up in writing aimed at these markets. As a result, I've decided to try my hand at writing them myself.

That said, I have a really slow writing pace because I have a self-confidence issue, but I've been plugging away at it and have started to feel pretty good about what I've got. It's still early on, but I'd like to start putting it out there for commentary.

Right now there's a few projects I want to write, and I'll put their descriptions and link to any drafts below.


The Sword In The Darkness Came From Another World

I picked up a LN called A Wild Last Boss Appears!, which is about a MMO player waking up as their overpowered character, one of the "isekai" (lit. "Another World") sub-genres. In this one, the twist that really grabbed me is that the player (a guy) plays a girl character. However, the book doesn't seem to be interested in talking much about a transgender experience. So, wanting to be the representation I want to see in the world, I'm looking to do just that.

Draft (6 Sept 20)


Untitled Magical Girl Story

I'm still early on planning this one, but I've wanted to make a magical girl story for a while with an eye towards queer representation. I've always found magical girl stories to be "soothing", so I want to give back, so to speak. The rough concept I have going is that the girls get their power from accepting an aspect of themselves that they are repressing. Examples that I've been workshopping include one being gay, one being trans, and one dealing with being torn over expectations of "girlishness".


Matey Match

A while back I started planning out a Super Robot Wars-like setting for a game I wanted to make, plus for an old play-by-post SRW fangame I used to be a part of. The story was one of a small galactic nation finding an abandoned prototype mech and it turning the tides of the war against a large and powerful empire that's aggressively expanding. I don't think I'm capable of making the game anymore, but writing the story out as a LN seems more my speed instead.
 
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Kishi

Little Waves
(They/Them)
Staff member
Moderator
I read the Sword in the Darkness draft. I don't have many insights to offer, but I like what's there and am interested to see where it leads, especially as it relates to the stated theme. The concepts for the other stories sound promising, too. How do you plan to publish these once you complete one?
 

Hilene

Loves "Friendly Girls"
(She/Her)
That's actually a good question, and one I haven't really been considering yet. That said, I'm working so slowly that I can look into it much later on, and if I remember right Kindle actually is relatively easy to self-publish on. I have time to weigh options, even if I get mired in the mental trap of not thinking my work is good enough to warrant it.
 

JaikuRirishii

Worthless Physicist
(He/Him)
I, uh, don't really know how to introduce myself on a place like this, but because I'm sorta here because I'm Hilene's friend, I figure this is as good a place as any.
Hi, I'm Jaiku.
I'm also writing light novels, and I asked Hilene to be my editor because we read a lot of the same Japanese Light Novels.
 

Ixo

"This is not my beautiful forum!" - David Byrne
(Hi Guy)
Hey, good to have you here Jaiku. Don't be shy; make yourself at home.

What've you been working on?
 

JaikuRirishii

Worthless Physicist
(He/Him)
I have four works in progress and tend to dart between them whenever I get ideas. I like to list them in the order that I started them in, even if it's not at all the order of how much progress has been made.

Princess Carry:
I've got a story about a guy and an Amazons falling in lust with each other, realizing that their cultures won't let them be in love, and then falling in love anyway. 34 pages so far.

Fire Besties:
Fantasy setting, an adventurer awakens an avatar of the god of fire who falls in love with him. The feeling is not mutual. Not knowing rejection, the avatar decides that they're gonna be best friends. So it's like a fantasy buddy cop adventure? 45 pages.

Void Familiar:
Fantasy magic academy. A spoiled girl summons a terrible avatar of the end to be her familiar. They're going to ruin lives. 14 pages

Conscripted Queens:
Just, everything I want to see in an outer-space future scifi work. Mostly based off of Nadesico/Tylor but the main characters are badass lady space pirates who are in a loving relationship, forced to work with a ship of losers due to bombs in their skulls. 27 pages with a 9 page appendix because there's too many Proper Nouns for one of my beta readers.
 

Ixo

"This is not my beautiful forum!" - David Byrne
(Hi Guy)
Conscripted Queens reminds me of an old webcomic from years ago...that got nuked from the artist's site thanks to her less than ideal publisher. Worth reading if you can find it though! That and anything inspired by Captain Tylor's gotta be a laugh riot, right?
 

Hilene

Loves "Friendly Girls"
(She/Her)
I sat down today to finally do some writing after being so drained after work this week, and ended up writing a whole scene that made me incredibly emotional the whole way through but I also started believing nearly right from the start that I didn't think it would be appropriate for the story I wanted to tell. I just... I got in my head some of the bits I remembered about other isekais I've liked, and thought about what it would mean to some of the characters involved. Especially my own characters. And so I just... ended up crying my way through 900 words of what it would mean for Lalalie to have been 20, and already have relationships, when this all hits.

I'm not convinced that I'll keep it, but I am at least leaving this passage written for a while while I ruminate on it.
Sword In The Darkness Draft 29 Aug 2020 - Chapter 4 Part 1: That Night
 

Shadax

The Chimera Brain
(He/Him)
I have only read the first draft of Sword in the Darkness, but I have to say that it has bothered me that the trans and genderfluid perspectives that are key to understanding MMOs as a societal phenomenon are never gracefully handled (if at all) in the limited exposure I've seen to this idea (basically some dot hack games).
I think you have a very solid start to this and am excited to keep reading and provide (constructive) feedback as you carry on. I am also very interested in the third prompt and also the game that inspired it, should you revisit either!

One last piece I have is that the editing is immaculate for your first drafts. Kudos to you or your editor on that.
 

Hilene

Loves "Friendly Girls"
(She/Her)
Thank you very much! I hope I can pull off what I'm aiming for, but also at the end of the day I'm writing my own fantasy, as a friend has put it to me. I don't want to be hurtful, but also I've written a bunch of stuff that made me very emotional in the process. That must mean that I'm getting at something about myself, right????

Regarding editing, one thing that I actually want to do when I eventually retire from the Canadian Forces is to become a copy editor, because I just get so frustrated seeing localized games and books with terrible editing. So frustrated. And I've always been fairly meticulous with my writing because of my self-esteem issues, so it works out, I guess??? As a result, I've actually been practicing by editing for Jaiku's work, while slowly plugging away at my own story. At some point I should make use of the Forces' post-secondary education grants to officially get the education necessary.


Also, regarding the Chapter 4 draft, after sleeping on it I think I will go with this setup, because it answers a number of things I didn't want to feel uncomfortable about not addressing, but also it gives me a vector for additional stories (after all, if what happened is a body swap, then how fun would it be to see how the OG Lalalie interacts with modern Earth life? Lets me have a second trans story in the background). I'm still wary because I don't know if this is being hurtful or not, but it did still clearly give me strong feels so I must be on to something.
 

Shadax

The Chimera Brain
(He/Him)
Thank you very much! I hope I can pull off what I'm aiming for, but also at the end of the day I'm writing my own fantasy, as a friend has put it to me. I don't want to be hurtful, but also I've written a bunch of stuff that made me very emotional in the process. That must mean that I'm getting at something about myself, right????

I am about 95% sure that means you are writing good material that means something to you, so I sincerely hope you carry on!
 

Hilene

Loves "Friendly Girls"
(She/Her)
I have uploaded a new Sword in the Darkness draft, which starts to incorporate the prototype draft I had linked previously. There's still a gap between the sequential flow and that scene, which is going to be one of my focuses for the next push, but for now I just felt like I needed to make a new draft to help clear my head.
 

Hilene

Loves "Friendly Girls"
(She/Her)
Writing is a heck of a trip. Sometimes I can get in a funk for a week and not do anything. Sometimes I get an idea and bang out a whole page that will define an entire arc just so I can make a dumb joke.

This is the later.

“Well, I guess that since the missing person has come back, this case is closed?” Chrom asked.

Adelais looked unhappy. “I don’t feel great about leaving it like this. Something stinks.”

“But what do you think we can do about it?” replied Adelwin. “The missing person came back and says they just got lost. Even a passive lie detecting script can’t find fault with that statement.”

Meanwhile, I was deep in thought. This scenario was very similar to a main story quest chain that the player has early on, but we shouldn’t have seen it just yet, nor was it involving this person. But the similarities were so striking that it had to be the same.

“… That [person] is under a goose.” I finally said.

Everyone looked at me with a blank expression for a moment.

“What did you just say?” asked Adelais.

“I said that [pronoun] is under a goose.” I crossed my arms and looked at her.

“A what.” She now tilted her head at me, like I was crazy.

“A goose?” Having a suspicion that I knew what the problem was, I started to flail a little. “A geese? A gee ass? How do you pronounce it? That thing where a person must act in accordance with a magically imposed condition?”

“Oh, you mean a geas,” Adelwin said.

“Wait, is that how it’s pronounced?” I kind of had never really heard anyone actually pronounce it. I just remember it being the name of a popular show, and even then I think it wasn’t spelt correctly. So as a joke I just always used goose instead. The twins were shaking their heads at me.
 

Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)
Wait, okay, this made me look it up and... it's pronounced "gesh"? I literally had no idea.
 

Hilene

Loves "Friendly Girls"
(She/Her)
I know, right? I like that joke because I don't even need to know how it's actually pronounced, either, as long as I know that I'm wrong.


Anyway, recently I got reminded of a manga called May I Please Ask You Just One Last Thing?, and it is not what you think it actually is. Today at work, I ended up having some free time at the end, and just... banged out a short story of what that name instead evokes. I don't think it's very good, but I'm trying to both improve in general and also try to lessen my rejection sensitivity, so I'm just gonna put it up anyway.

And like, there's no way someone hasn't already done this, and did it better, but whatever.

Just One More Thing
 

Hilene

Loves "Friendly Girls"
(She/Her)
I've been reading In The Land of Leadale lately (I'll have a writeup when I'm finished), and though a lot of this was probably me having a bad mental health weekend, it made me think two things. First: I'm just a fool for trying to write. And second: Huh, there's a part in here that actually really interests me and I'd like to explore it more.

That second part got me into a spiral where I ran into choice paralysis about how I even wanted to frame that, so I... ended up writing a short story to personify that dilemma and try to work out my thoughts on the matter.

Choosing a Protagonist
 

Hilene

Loves "Friendly Girls"
(She/Her)
I did kind of poorly at NaNoWriMo, but also better then I ever have, so it's actually a net positive. That said, I got something in my head towards the end of the day at work, and ended up just writing a really short story about some stuff I think about with the kinds of books I read lately, and why I read them. It's on the heavy side, so be aware.

It Was A Quiet Night
 

Hilene

Loves "Friendly Girls"
(She/Her)
Yeah, of course I get ideas and drive after the challenge is over. Why wouldn't I.

In seriousness, I wrote this short story as a proof of concept for a thought I was having about It Was a Quiet Night, specifically conceptualizing what these kinds of romance stories could look like with a protag that was ace/aro/demi like me, instead of the stereotypical "dense".

Also I feel really good about the dumb name I came up with for it.

Ace of Hearts
 

Büge

Arm Candy
(she/her)
More like NoNoWriMo for me, unfortunately

I mean, I was getting married, but still
 

Vidfamne

Banned
What I thought about "...Quiet Night" and "Ace of Hearts"
I thought "...Quiet Night" had a good structure of concise, pointed scenes in engaging (and "circular") sequence, but with too little particular imagery; and I thought "Ace of Hearts" had an inspired special image (the rose with thorns and blossoms switched), but it felt disconnected with the rest of the story, which seemed stagnant, or unfinished. -- That may have been part of the proof-of-concept, of course, but I still think the scene would not work well even in the context of a larger work. Too drawn-out, too "predictable" that William will get nowhere, and the asides either feel rushed-in "to make sure" ("I'm not on Earth btw"), or are more promising than the scene itself!

I'd advise you to try and merge the two approaches you've been exploring: e.g. describe Maria and the characters around her through a succession of tightly-sketched encounters just as "Quiet Night" goes through its scenes; give each such scene the voice/feeling of a distant observer (you, playing "the author" as magic lantern operator as well as amateur psychologist, to taste) while characters are interacting. -- But change towards an "involved", close-to-the-character, "Ace of Hearts"-like voice/feeling while examining such details as that rose (which I think is already an apt emblem for one view of love that I think is yet more nuanced than a simple "aro" etc.: many side-blossoms where others get thorns, but the principal feature is a thorn where others get a blossom). With this interplay of styles and vantage points, and if you (continue to) pick your imagery well, I think you'll impress the desired effect through motivic development already.

My other piece of advice is that while you did succeed in making Maria not sound "dense", I think you overdid the "oh btw" self-aware / seven-layers-of-irony alt-rock aloofness, 'scuse the cliché. It doesn't make her sound believably confident, and it doesn't make her sound believably flawed (by aloofness / arrogance), either. That said, I still found myself interested in finding out more about her vis-à-vis Yen and Robert in particular, which means you've managed to make their "mysteries" (and demeanour) the relatively most resistant to her character as I understood it: good potential.
 
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Hilene

Loves "Friendly Girls"
(She/Her)
Thank you very much for the comments! They gave me some stuff to think about, for sure.

One thing I do want to say is that just about every aside came from me feeling like I didn't have the "space" to cover something I wanted to have already had established if this scene was part of a larger work. The first one there was the worst one, and I hate how it turns out. It just feels so wrong, but when I was just bashing out the scene I felt like I needed something. I was wrong. After doing a bunch of these, I'm pretty sure that one of my greatest strengths is being able to just make scenes from whole cloth, being able to state something with confidence as a truth without strictly needing to go into detail. Here I tried too hard to explain something that wasn't relevant to the story I was telling.

I think that the other asides are much "softer" and flowed better, but in a second go at this I'd probably leave them out or cut them down significantly. To be honest, my actual aim with all of the ones part the isekei aside was to specifically call out a bunch of people who have degrees of romance tropes for me to bounce my own observations and feelings off of. The intent, which may not have been clear for very understandable reasons, was that every single named person is interested in Maria, but it's a range from "Is obviously in her face about it" to "Actually comes across as opposed to the idea instead", with most of the field I would have played in being the people who simply parse to someone like me as a friend. William and Clarisse are supposed to parse as obvious, and Robert is supposed to parse as a likely (to, like... normal people?), but all the others are examples where I legitimately could not parse attraction at all, from real life examples. In a longer form version of this, most of those asides would have been brought up much more naturally before this scene.

It sounds like I have a ways to go still before I have the "chops" to handle something like this.
 

Vidfamne

Banned
I thought the intent of writing a character study about attraction was clear, thus the "magic lantern / amateur psychologist" comment. I specifically had the closing sections to the His Dark Materials trilogy in mind (entitled "Lantern Pictures", I think -- only read them in German), which I last read at twelve years old and thus probably remember as better-executed than they were (it's more difficult to judge form and content separately when you are young, I believe). But I think the form could be worth imitating for you, yeah -- taking care to unite "still lives" with "emotional introspection".

It sounds like I have a ways to go still before I have the "chops" to handle something like this.
Don't get discouraged! That is not what I meant. For an analogy, imagine you were studying music and had written a formally stringent minuet whose harmonic structure was very solid, but its melodies a bit perfunctory; but also a fantasia with some beautiful melodies that didn't quite develop in the grand scheme of things, or where the harmony didn't quite work, or whatever. I had wanted to alert you that different approaches / styles bring out different strengths in you, which calls for mixing them (and learning which strength is most relevant to what you want to express at any given point). I'd expect that, as with spices, discovering the right balance between them for the given "dish" will make their respective detriments effectively disappear, and the mixture may well be perceived as indivisible to boot. It's not like you lack the tools or techniques as such, it's only about advancing to the next step.

(It might be useful to keep in mind, too, that Rameau pointed out that melody and harmony are really only two different lenses to view the same matter through... but I'm not sure if this is helpful or harmful in the analogy. This could be framed as him anticipating Hegel, or it could be framed as Hegel cribbing from Rameau, or it might be convergent evolution.)

Where do you believe would "the chops" come from, if not from writing more right now? Not a rhetorical question -- I'm sure there are justifiable answers e.g. "unnameable epiphanies" or "psychology textbooks" that can be treated as clear and verifiable goals. But just in case this is only a diffuse feeling partially based on what someone with a Pokemon avatar wrote on the Internet, I wouldn't want you shelving ideas needlessly until The Day finally comes, or it doesn't and you'd find months or years later that all you thought necessary had only ever been within yourself.

I say this because I myself have wasted enough time in my life on thinking myself not prepared enough to approach "that door" when, to bring more Kafka Content into this, "nobody else could gain access here, because this entrance had only ever been meant for you". ("Before The Law")
 

Hilene

Loves "Friendly Girls"
(She/Her)
Oh, sorry! I meant that more in a "I need to get more practice/experience" kind of way. I don't know, on one hand I do actually think I want to try to extend that out into its own thing, but on the other I haven't really made progress on the two other major projects I have. But the friend I edit for has like 5 projects, and only 2~3 are ones he works on regularly, so maybe it's a good thing for me to have very different ideas on hand that I can bounce between.

Now, do I want to try to reframe this idea entirely, though... I'm kind of getting an idea for something I might want to do, but hm.
 

Mightyblue

aggro table, shmaggro table
(He/Him/His)
There's no harm in seeking out other authors and seeing how they write different scenes too; not just for ideas for yourself but also to parse the logic behind why the author wrote this dialogue exchange that way and so on.
 
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