Camp NaNoWriMo 2021: Week 4 – Omfg, Plot Your Fight Scenes

Hi. Oh man, it’s me, your favorite chronic late-poster.

I’m keeping it pre-e-e-etty short this week.

Because I am . . .

. . . exhausted.

If you don’t know, I have a bad leg that’s been acting up for the past few days. That coupled with a much needed reset to the diet I’m on (now totally cutting sugar) has me absolutely wiped out.

And so does Memory.

I’m still writing it, of course, and my protagonists are on the cusp of entering the third act / endgame.

But man, some of the sessions this week were like pulling teeth.

In particular, there was one encounter Memory and Kole had with a bad guy. An encounter I thought would be a breeze to discovery write.

And I. Was. So wrong.

Full Disclosure: I spent at least three days on that one encounter.

Which wound up being about five pages long?

It was terrible. One of those instances where I wrote the encounter one way, then realized it wasn’t working, wrote it again, realized there was a whole other angle I could take it in and finally settled into an “okay for now” version that I know is gonna get heavy edits.

Just the worst.

I don’t know why I thought this wouldn’t be a problem for me, but the real tragedy here is that this encounter was the second out of three encounters I didn’t outline! The next one is the very end of the second act, which I’m going to get to by the weekend.

In my defense, I was convinced Future Louis would love writing these fight scenes. Unfortunately, it turned out Past Louis was an idiot.

On the plus side, another huge lesson learned: it’s not just okay to detail fight scenes in my outline, it’s kind of essential.

Setting descriptions? I can handle ’em on the MS.

Dialogue? I can discovery write it all day.

Fight scenes? No.

I am not the cartoon-loving cherub I once was, who collected video game boss music and wrote twenty-page-long fight scenes. That just isn’t me anymore (except for the collecting-boss-fight-music part) and I’m grateful.

But I also have to remember going forward that fights need to be plotted out every single time or I just get lost in the possibilities.

That said, please, wish me all of the luck for this weekend.

Because that last fight scene I didn’t outline has a pretty extreme power imbalance between characters, so I just know it’s going to be an absolute nightmare to write.

Godspeed, Future Louis!

~~~

That’s all for this week. If you want to find out how incredibly hung up I get on that last fight scene–or if you want to find out how long it takes me to finish this NaNoWriMo novel, Memory–you could always give my blog a Follow. And if you liked this post, I’d appreciate it if you gave me a Like because it’s the only means I have to gauge the content people like to read on here.

Until next time, take care, stay safe, and you should think about what you’re gonna Mandela Effect. I know it’s a long shot, but if you ever get godlike powers, you gotta Mandela Effect something. For me, it’s “bunana.” If I get god powers, the first thing I’m going to do is make it so half of the world thinks it was always spelled “bunana” while the other half remembers “banana” . . . So, long story short, don’t give me god powers. Things would get real annoying real fast.

Bye! Have a good weekend!

Camp NaNoWriMo 2021: Week 3 – A Time to Chill

Fun fact: I did not remember that A Time to Kill was a movie until I wrote the title for this post.

Was not a pun, is not a pun: I have just come to terms with the fact . . . that I really need to relax.

Week 3 was fine. In fact, Week 3 was wildly productive–I have been averaging 2000-3000 words a day for the past few days, and my protagonists are halfway through the second act of their adventure.

However . . . I have come to some super important realizations in the past few days.

Thing the First: I Am Not Going to Win
Camp NaNoWriMo 2021

I know that sounds terrible, but I am in no way saying that I’m giving up on Memory.

Seriously, I’m going to finish the novel–in part because my process works so well for me that I now find it harder not to write for the day? It’s a weird feeling, but I just naturally think of how I’ll start the next scene and then–with the same energy I used to have when opening Twitter–I just pop open my MS like, “Man, I wonder what Memory and Kole are up to?”

That said . . . I am definitely not reaching 50,000 words by the end of the month.

It’s absolutely because of those days off I took earlier in the month. Lesson learned: if I didn’t take days off and just stuck to the 1,666 daily word goal, I definitely could’ve hit 50,000. But, I did take those days off on the first two weeks, and the result was a quota that kept getting steeper and steeper.

Until today, the first day where I needed to write at least 3000 words. Which would be followed by six additional days, in a row, where I also needed to write 3000.

And, full disclosure: I tried to hit that 3000. That’s why I’m posting so late.

But I ultimately realized . . .

Thing the Second: I Don’t . . .
. . . Need to Win NaNoWriMo?

I’m laughing as I write this because, when I wrote the first version of Memory, this same thing happened.

I took days off, fell behind, “lost” NaNoWriMo 2014, and then finished the book anyway a week later.

But here we are, seven years later, and it’s going to happen again.

The important part being: yeah, just like last time, you bet your ass I’m finishing Memory regardless.

It’s just going to take an extra week or so.

And.

That’s.

Fine.

If it’s happened twice now that I just needed days off and taking them didn’t stop me from finishing a WIP, then I guess the occasional day off is just part of my process now. The same way belting out a novel in (roughly) a month after outlining it for (roughly) a year is my process, so are the days when I wake up, look at the ceiling, and just say, “No.”

I don’t know why it took me so long to accept this. I guess I got caught up in the gaminess of National Novel Writing Month. But I just don’t need to satisfy the win condition of Camp NaNoWriMo 2021. Especially because I knew from the start that Memory was going to run longer than 50,000, as I said in Week 1 post. I guess I just wanted to be able to say that I won?

But I think being able to say, “I tried to win NaNoWriMo twice with the same story and I failed both times the same exact way,” is significantly funnier and more on brand for me. It’s a story and I like those.

And also, I like being able to breathe. This whole air-in-out thing is oddly comforting.

~~~

That said, yes, I’m going to keep these posts running until I finish Memory, because I’m staying honest about it.

If you’d like to find out if it’ll take me one or two extra weeks to finish this WIP, you can give me a Follow via the button on the left sidebar on PC or the upper right drop down menu on mobile. Likes are also always appreciated as a way to gauge what posts you guys enjoy and what content I should focus on.

Until next time, stay safe, stay hydrated, and if you’re struggling to do something in a way you think it needs to be done, accept that maybe it’s okay to do it the way you want to.

Camp NaNoWriMo 2021: Week 2 – Oh Yeah, I Jinxed It

I’m still writing.

That’s the important thing.

But . . . man did I take a few hits this week.

Hit #1 – Saturday

I smacked right into another logistics question about a location. Basically, once again, I didn’t thoroughly plot out the floor plan for one setting. Not because I didn’t realize I should, but because Past Louis thought that Present Louis would have fun designing that setting in prose.

. . . Nope.

Dear Past Me,

Never again with that shit, please.

Seriously, any logistical worldbuilding I have to do while writing the novel absolutely destroys my flow.

I got back on track by Sunday, but spending Saturday fumbling with set design sapped an entire day’s worth of Write Energy.

Lesson learned.

Hit #2 – Tuesday

I have to set this up by admitting that, on Monday, I made the total, honest mistake of just taking a day off. That was my bad; I had a rule in week one that I’d save days off for when something really, really wasn’t working, not for leisure.

But I was exhausted from Saturday and Sunday’s bullshit, so I took Monday off.

And then Tuesday hit amazingly hard.

Not writer’s block, but pure, genuine depression stemming from my personal life.

And, of course, I am aware that personal drama can significantly influence my writing–in fact, my entire writing career is about five years behind because of how often depression dominates my time. I have experience with it–I’m almost used to it–but something that had been building all weekend hit extremely hard on Tuesday and I spent . . . about 98% of the day in bed, staring at the ceiling. If you’ve dealt with genuine depression, you know what I mean.

Here’s the good thing though: I still wrote on Tuesday. 1000 words, belted out in the remaining 2% of the day. Which is as good a test as any for my process; if I wrote on Tuesday, I can write on pretty much any day.

And that’s going to be my approach going forward: I’m upping my daily quota to 2,000 words (because I can get to 2,000 pretty easily and 1,666 isn’t going to cut it with the way I’ve wound up writing this draft) and I’m writing every day unless I am genuinely unable.

I have a lot of catching up to do, but even if I finish 50,000 words by July 31st, the stone cold truth is Memory won’t be done by the end of Camp NaNoWriMo regardless. At 18,323 words, I only just got to Chapter 6 out of 21.

That means–with some quick, terrible math–that from here, there’s roughly 50,000 left to go.

I’m going to do my best to keep at it, and hope that nothing terrible happens in the next few weeks.

And I’m also going to end this post here.

If you want to follow my progress, feel free to give this blog a Follow.

But either way, take care, and stay hydrated, especially if you’re drinking tonight–like I am.

Camp NaNoWriMo 2021: Week 1 – I Can’t Believe It’s Working

Hi.

And also, seriously, I can’t believe the Promises Outline approach is working as well as it is.

If you’re new here, I’m Louis Santiago, a writer from New York who’s been trying to perfect his writing process for sixteen years. Before that, I was in the Post-Its phase of writing (all worldbuilding, no actual writing–outside of a few embarrassing short stories).

But in 2005, I started my first novel, which was extensively worldbuilt and very heavily outlined. It didn’t work; the outline was so detailed that it fell apart the moment I veered off course in prose (the terrible ripple effect of, “Well, let me alter the rest of the outline so it works with this change I just made–and now that I’ve taken 2 days to do that, let me go back to the novel and . . . what scene was I writing again??”). The end result was bad, even after a bunch of edits and a 2010 rewrite.

In 2014, I went the total opposite direction and tried discovery writing a novel. Which was a lot of fun . . . but ultimately very, very messy. I felt like I was getting somewhere, and even submitted that 2014 novel after a few edits, but after a handful of tries, I stopped, because something was still off.

Now, on July 8th, 2021, you’re joining me right at the point where I actually think I’ve figured out my process. It took listening to class sessions that a highly successful, published author posted on his YouTube (Brandon Sanderon is a saint), and a bunch of sessions with my private writing group, but I think I’ve finally got it.

And it’s such a positive, optimistic moment in my life that it’s actually scary.

The answer appears to be both pantsing and plotting. Kind of.

The pantsing part of my brain is sated by worldbuilding and (I know this is going to sound weird but) outlining; I still write detailed outlines so I can hit all of the same dopamine highs, but I also leave those outlines wide open to change.

So the plotting side of my brain can follow a roadmap of possibilities to a finished product (although I’ve discovered that part of my brain loves to just have details cleanly laid out so he can just knock out scenes).

And that is the part that I cannot believe is true, because I was so sure it would be a massive hurdle.

I thought I would get to the first scene and be like, “No. I want this to be completely different,” thus falling into the trap from my first, 2005 novel.

But, even though that has happened . . . I still managed to make the outline loose enough to totally allow for it.

As of right now, I am 11,278 words into Memory, a really heavy rewrite of my 2014 novel. And, yes, the fact that it’s a rewrite makes it easier to belt out–totally.

But whatever. Let me have the giddy disbelief that my excitement from last week’s post didn’t die 20 minutes into July 1st.

Especially considering there have been those tough moments:

On Day 2, I got crazy over-zealous and wrote two day’s worth, absolutely burning myself out for a day, which has made me hyper aware of and respectful to my internal reserves of Write Energy (it sounds less weird than “Write Juice”).

On Day 4, after a break, I struggled with a scene that had a strange flow in outline; I assumed I would be able to use some elements from the original novel, but they really didn’t fit the tone of the rewrite, so I had to make a bunch of tweaks.

Day 6, was an absolute nightmare because I didn’t clarify the location where a scene took place (to specify, not the immediate setting, but where that setting was located in a city). I spent the entire day contemplating extremely esoteric details of a scene that amounted to two pages.

I cannot believe that went through that gauntlet of momentum killers, and I’m still in it. That I have a functional process. I didn’t just give up on Day 6 and turn on video games. I didn’t convince myself I needed a week away just to come back having forgotten every last plot thread.

Sixteen years and I finally found a way to reliably write something whole–in roughly 2 years.

I am so goddamn excited for the next steps. The goal is going to be making that 2 years canon (with worldbuilding, outlining, writing, and editing).

But I’m also going to have to work out an outline for the rest of the Memory series. And then Aixa. Hand and the Tempest.

Just naming those projects made me starry-eyed.

I’m going to end this post here.

And hope that the next time I write to you, it won’t be to report that the other shoe dropped.

Camp NaNoWriMo, July 2021, Feels Like Fate

I know that’s a little dramatic . . .

. . . but I just finished editing my outline. Not rushing or stressing. Just at my normal pace, I just so happened to finish editing my outline an hour before July 1st–giving me exactly enough time to write this post.

And that outline didn’t need massive changes–the finale was just good.

And the tweak I made to an earlier scene yielded a significantly better scene.

And there was a thunderstorm as I edited the last bit (and, seriously, if you don’t know, rain and thunderstorms are my ideal setting for writing because of Jurassic Park [a major inspiration for me as a baby writer]).

And a heat wave just ended–on the eve of Camp NaNo.

I don’t know if that’s the requisite amount of things to qualify for auspicious, but it sure feels like it to me.

I would have nerves . . .

. . . if I wasn’t so goddamn pumped to write this novel.

My Camp NaNo 2021 Info

My name on nanowrimo.org is “LouisSantiago.” Feel free to add me if you’ll also be toiling away on a project this July.

My project for this Camp is Memory, a rewrite of a novel I originally completed in 2014. I spent the interim seven years working on other projects, learning more about my novel-writing-process, and outlining the rewrite.

My word goal is 50,000, the lowest total you can select because, at this phase of my writing career, I am extremely concise. There is a chance I won’t write a full 50,000, but we’ll see.

My daily goal is going to be 1,666 words, which would be a bad omen but, ha ha! Fuck you, world! I was a Goth in high school! Your supposedly evil numbers mean fuck all to me! Ha ha!

My weekly total is going to be roughly 5 chapters (the outline tops off at 19), which is probably less lenient than it feels. But, hey, I will at least accept the shoulder-tension-release I’m getting from that potential wiggle room.

~~~

That said, I’m ending this post here, because my ritual lately has been waking up super early and getting to work right away, and I refuse to break that–especially tomorrow.

This will be my post for this week because I want to give Camp NaNo and Memory all of my attention. I figure for this month, I’ll switch to Thursdays, and then go back to business as usual in August.

Until next time, stay safe, stay hydrated, and, please, no matter what happens, don’t let other people slow you down. I don’t mean that in a weird, lone wolf way. I just mean that if there’s anyone in your life who’s constantly telling you not to do the things you want to do, or manipulating you into second guessing yourself, fuck them. Your dreams don’t have to conform to what they want–ever. Be yourself. Live your truth.

And let’s fucking do this.

I Finished the Outline for Memory

Finally.

I can’t explain how good it feels to finally get over that hurdle. To finally be one step closer to writing anything else.

I love Memory, and I’m excited that I have ideas for its sequels, but man am I ready for the next steps in my process: making a few tweaks to the outline, and then using it to write Memory next month for Camp NaNoWriMo.

And, after that, moving on to a new project for the first time in six years.

There’s some additional tweaking and retallying I need to do between now and July—in particular, I need to bolster the one plotline and add additional stakes to the finale—but I am still in what I’m now calling “forced celebration mode.”

Which means I’m continually loading up my outline, staring at it, and realizing that I can’t work on it because I’m knee deep in what I call Recovery Mode, which is when I’ve just written a bunch and I know from years of experience that, if I push myself to do more, I’ll just be writing nonsense that I’ll have to delete later (no shame if you can push yourself, and I’m not advising anyone else to do this, but I have a finite amount of Write Juice [or whatever you want to call it] and I know to respect when it runs out session). Usually, that dearth of Write Juice (I like it) just means I stop writing for the day, but when I hit a milestone, I usually like some breathing room for a few days.

Which mean I keep telling myself that it’s okay—that I don’t have to work this weekend—and then I just kind of . . . wallow? No—wrong word. It’s not a sad thing.

“Not-work!”

Not-working is what I’ll call it.

Never in my life have I experienced it, but yes, I am in a perpetual state of not-working, where I just kind of roll around my apartment, lying and sitting in different places, thinking about the outline, excited to get back to it, but also accepting that I need a break.

Things I have done in my determined quest to just fucking relax for a minute:

Watched Escape from L.A. for the first time.

Played through Superliminal for the first time—in one sitting.

Read a ton of Ultimate Spider-Man, which I’m trying to catch up on after finishing Spider-Man: Miles Morales. There’s something addicting about experiencing all of the different iterations of Miles in succession (I just finished Spider-Man: Miles Morales recently and I watch Spider-Verse all the time). Every version of Miles’ story does some things better than others. For example, the video game version of his mother, Rio, is the only version with an actual personality. Video game Uncle Aaron is also the best. The comics have the best version of Ganke (the video game version of him is such an over-the-top, app saavy genius, that the moment he suggested monetizing the app he made–so people could contact Miles and ask him for help–I couldn’t get over the idea that he’s a silicon valley monster waiting to happen). When it comes to Miles himself though, there is no beating Shameik Moore’s smooth, reluctant-nerd Miles from Spider-Verse; I love comic book Miles’ reluctance to be Spider-Man, and I appreciate video game Miles consistently speaking Spanish (the only one who actually feels Afro-Latino), but cool, confident (eventually) Spider-Verse Miles is such a departure from Peter Parker’s routinely-beaten-down-little-guy, that he’s definitely my favorite of the now many, many Spider-People out there.

Anyway, I also suffered through Tenet (which I might rewatch to do A Writer Watching—I have so much to say).

I tried Goat Simulator, which I played for longer than I thought I would, but got tired of pre-e-e-e-etty quickly. The weird thing about being me and taking forever to play / watch / read anything is experiencing trends out of sequence. So, to me, Goat Simulator is just bad Untitled Goose Game. I know Goat Simulator came first—I know it birthed both the trend of wacky animal games and the trend of intentionally bad sims, but it is impossible to divorce myself from Untitled Goose Game.

I started Rime, which is absolutely beautiful so far. Having just finished Superliminal and intending to move on to Okami (which, yes, I’m playing for the first time), Rime turned out to be the perfect transition.

But the thing that I’ve done most recently to celebrate is ending this post here. Just keeping it light, possibly going back to sleep for a bit while it’s still cool. I have this last day to relax before rolling into edits and Camp NaNoWriMo, so I’m just gonna kick back.

And, yes, I will be posting here about my Camp NaNoWriMo run. I’m not going to write a series like I have in previous years, but, at the very least, I’ll share my profile name here so anyone else who’s doing Camp can friend me. We can cheer each other on!

Anyway, if you enjoyed this post and want to know when I’ll be posting an absolutely fierce, needlessly brutal takedown of Tenet, you can give this blog a follow on the left side bar (on PC) or the top right drop down menu (on mobile).

Until next time, stay safe, and I’ve been saying it for a while, but seriously, stay hydrated for the Summer. You can absolutely do that however you choose to, but I’ve found that, since going full Summer Mode (no coffee, just ice water and caffeine-free iced tea) I’m so much better at dealing with high temperatures that it’s insane. Seriously, I feel like an idiot: for two years, I lived in AC that facilitated me chugging iced coffee, not realizing that doing that made me a Grass type Pokémon; anything over 80 degrees was super effective against me. Kicking caffeine takes some work, but I’m so much more functional in hot weather now that I’m like, “Ah. ‘Summer Mode’ is going to be a rest-of-my-life type thing, huh? Got it. Cool.”

Anyway, bye!

Gallery of Strangers – Actual, Normal Latinx Who Exist in the Bronx

I ran into a former coworker the other day.

It was a super short encounter. Basically a “Hello,” and, “Do you still work there?” and, “No, they were reopening in the middle of COVID,” and an extremely validating, “Pssh. Yeah, fuck that. I didn’t go back either.”

There was a little bit more to it, but that isn’t the point; the point is, I saw that coworker, and then, 10 minutes later, I thought I saw her coming out of a building on my block. Same height, same thin build, same hair, but totally different clothes and, I ultimately realized, different eyes above her mask.

Why am I talking about this?

Because it reminded me of something I’ve wanted to talk about for a while: some of the specific personalities you will actually encounter here in the Bronx.

Which I’m throwing out there because I’m A) sick of Hollywood’s bullshit. Sure, I’m totally glad we’re getting more diverse characters these days, but that diversity is taking its sweet time getting to the Latinx community. And for that same reason, I wanted to write this post because In the Heights just came out, and I need to eternally chisel in digital stone that WE’RE NOT A FUCKING MUSICAL. It seriously feels like the billionth time a new movie about Latinx turned out to be a street-level musical where everyone’s dancing and singing. And I just hate it.

But also, B) there are a ton of diverse Latinx personalities here in the Bronx that I’ve always wanted to highlight–in particular, the personalities of other former coworkers, brought to mind by that run-in. And, hey, if anyone is writing a story with Latinx characters, there’s a lot of personality to choose from. Hopefully, this will make that a little more clear.

How I’m Going to Handle This:

I’m just showcasing two Latinx personalities. Because I know this is borderline saucy and I don’t want to throw a ton of highly specific information at people.

I’ll start with the standard, bullshit Hollywood staple for Latinos and Latinas, and then I’ll give an example of one of the many types of personalities that exist for each–one that I’d like to see represented more often in Hollywood.

Full disclosure, I’m just making up throwaway names for these personalities (which will be very obvious once you see them), and, I feel like I can’t say enough that these are just a two of the personality types real Latinx people have. Please don’t read this as me saying, “All Latinos are [whatever niche personality I highlight].”

Also, even though I am Afro-Latino, I was raised in a Puetro Rican household. So, even though I really wanted to talk about the one coworker I love, who has a kind of personality I absolutely adore, I don’t feel comfortable talking about the Black experience or personalities that exist in Black communities. It just isn’t my place. So, today, we’re strictly talking Latinx.

Okay. That said, let’s begin.

Hollywood’s Latino Drug Dealer
VS
The Latino Goth Nerd

On one hand, we have Hollywood’s old standard–the Latino gang member that deals drugs. Eternal fodder for the exposition of a cop drama. I don’t even need to explain because you already know the stereotype I’m talking about–you’ve seen it a million times.

What I’d like to offer in contrast to that . . . is the Latino Nerd. In my mind, this will always be “Goth Nerd” because I was a Latino Goth Nerd when I was in high school.

But the point here is, any Latino who’s super into A) rock music and B) something nerdy. Pro-o-o-o-obably anime–specifically Dragonball Z. They definitely play a ton of video games. If they have straight hair, it’s probably super long. If they don’t . . . well, it’s probably still super long but put in a poofy ponytail or braided. They almost exclusively wear band t-shirts; 50/50 chance they are currently or were once in a metal band.

Also, they’re probably a bit hard to talk to because they get shit from everywhere for not fitting in. Seriously, imagine the usual social incongruity of a Goth, but in a society that is even more traditionalist than the white society Goths usually call home. Like, they don’t necessarily have bad family drama, but, for example, abuela doesn’t understand why he dresses so dark and / or can’t speak Spanish. Even if he can dance to Salsa, “Why does he have his hair like that???” Pretty much everyone he knows has, at one point, asked the same goddamn questions to the point that he is understandably loyal to the friends and family who just accept him.

I would love to see more of this personality type in pop culture because, obviously, it’s close to heart for me. But also, I still hate the ongoing drug dealer/criminal stereotype.

From what I’ve seen, the only example of this type of character is “Cisco” Ramon from The Flash. If you saw that character on that show and asked, “Is that a real person that even exists?” the answer is yes! You were looking at me the whole time! Only I recently cut my hair and I’m nerdy about writing, not science.

Anyway, moving on.

Hollywood’s Sassy Latina
VS
The Smart, Incredibly Focused Latina
Who’s Really Good at Everything

Yeah, the sassy Latina is Hollywood’s go-to Latina. She wears hoop earrings. She has her hair in ponytail. She has a ton of makeup on. And she don’t take shit from nobody. Also, that last bit is her entire personality.

What I’m suggesting instead: the smart, focused Latina who is great at everything and can achieve whatever she wants.

For this one, ha! I have an example now! AOC! Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a fantastic example of this kind of personality.

But to explain a bit more, I’ll tell you about a chat I had with a coworker who had the same kind of personality. We were talking about a trip she was planning. At one point, she said that she was reading all of the legal fine print related to her plane tickets. And her hotel booking. And I don’t remember if she said she was renting a car, but if she was, she read the fine print for that too.

All of this came up because she brought up extremely specific return policy on airline tickets; I asked how she knew that and she told me–while adjusting her glasses.

Again, she that’s all of the fine print she came across while planning that trip. As amazing as it is scary. To this day, if you listen closely to the wind, you can still hear me ask, “What?”

And that reflex to be super prepared and on the ball is the main feature of this personality. These women are smart, usually great at their jobs, watch what they eat, don’t start drama with anyone because they’re too busy working on their own goals, dress well–they basically do everything right. They’re fluent in Spanish and English and maybe a third language–fuck I don’t know.

And, yeah, I’d love to see more of that personality represented in pop culture. Currently, the only example I’ve seen in nerddom is Spider-Man: Miles Morales’ version of Rio Morales, who was probably inspired by AOC (but still, I’ll take her over the comic version of Rio, who gets Fridged after having barely any dialogue, and Spider-Verse Rio, who was so firmly in the background that I can’t even conjure up her face).

And with that, we stop. Short and sweet. To the point. Hopefully indicative of the range of personalities that exist in Latinx communities. Personalities Hollywood almost always ignores.

And, if you’ve never thought about the personality of a Latinx character before, hopefully this post will inspire you to do so–particularly if you’re writing one. No need to feel guilty if you haven’t–Hollywood is great at teaching us to see tropes and nothing more.

But that doesn’t mean we have to let that happen.

~~~

Again, keeping it short and sweet this week. I know it’s a bit niche, but eh.

If you enjoyed this post and you’re down for reading more of my sometimes highly esoteric thoughts, please consider giving me a Like or a Follow. Also, I updated the site a bit so it’ll be easier to browse popular series. Most importantly though, I updated my “About Me” with a picture of me as a young lad. Fun!

I am currently outlining the finale of Memory. I wound up having to rework the one chapter leading up to the endgame (the finale has changed so much), but I am actually working out what happens now and it’s a crazy rush. I will keep you posted, but there’s really no way I’m not going to have a finished outline by the end of the week.

Until next time, take care, stay hydrated, and don’t preorder games!

Which I say because it was just E3 and, seriously, we all need that reminder.

No Man’s Sky.

Fallout 76.

Cyberpunk 2077.

We live in the age of games being released broken and incomplete.

If you’re really hyped for something, that’s more of a reason to not preorder it. And yes, I’m looking at you, Elden Ring. We are primed for a From Software bad launch. Stay vigilant, my friends.

Also, bye!

Let’s  Talk About – Loki & The Potential Birth of the “Megapremise”

Loki came out this week.

And, as a man who fully expected to hate that show, I was genuinely surprised by how much I enjoyed the first episode.

Will I enjoy all six episodes? Who knows. Can I emphatically say that its theme song is one of the best OST themes I’ve heard in a long, long time? Yes. Natalie Holt is my new hero.

But this isn’t a post about Natalie Holt. It’s a post about what I think Loki and shows like it might bring to the fiction table.

And, again, to clarify, that’s a might; I am not Publishers Weekly, nor am I an agent keen on trends.

All I want to do here today, with you, is wonder . . . if Loki is the beginning of what I’m labeling “the megapremise.”

What Is the Megapremise?

The best way to explain is to start with Loki.

Loki is a TV show about the Norse god, Loki. A version of him who invaded modern-day Earth, was defeated by superheroes, and stole back a magical cube that teleported him backward in time. Because of this, he’s arrested by a bunch of time police who proceed to show him his life, (light spoilers) including his own death. (/light spoilers)

(not so light spoilers) As a result, he decides to join the time police to help capture . . . another, presumably evil version of himself. (/not so light spoilers)

With or without spoilers, that premise is just wild.

And so is the premise that (seriously, get this) a super-powered witch, whose husband—an android—died, is inexplicably living in a sitcom where her android husband is alive again.

These premises are ridiculous—in the best way. They are, in my opinion, when Marvel is at their best these days.

And they’re also what I think of as megapremises; story ideas that are so weirdly specific and bizarre that there is nothing else like them. Premises so strange and unique to certain characters that it isn’t even possible to duplicate them (i.e. Loki would not be the same show without Marvel’s Loki, and—even worse—WandaVision would not be the same show without MCU Wanda and Vision).

And these megapremises . . . might be the future?

Because They Aren’t An Inherently Marvel Thing

It seems like they are (especially with how I defined them).

It seems like you just couldn’t write a story like Loki without ten years of build-up.

But I don’t think that’s actually true.

Creating a megapremise is easy for Marvel because they have well established characters with that decade of continuity. Every new story builds on that, so something like Guardians of the Galaxy isn’t just a movie about a space-faring team of misfits—it’s a movie about a space-faring team of misfits that ties into the special rocks a big purple man is after so he can kill half of the universe.

But—and if I’m saying anything with this post, it’s this—you can just create a megapremise. With totally new characters you made up, put into as bizarre and specific of a situation as you can possibly imagine. Everything can be explained in-story, and none of it actually requires the excess foundation new Marvel movies have (i.e. if you write a story about literal aliens pretending to be human in a small town, learning comparatively intense human emotions while slowly getting enveloped in the town’s mania [because I’ve decided they unwittingly landed in a cult town and this is a horror story now], you don’t need it to take place in the same continuity with any of your other stories).

What I’m saying here is, seriously, we can just write crazy shit like Loki.

And, I mean . . . am I weird, or is that the most exciting fucking thing ever?

You don’t have to write a normal procedural cop drama with a twist—that your partner is a demon or whatever. You can write a story about—I dunno—a law enforcement group that’s just been newly established at the center of the Earth, which humanity has only just discovered.

You don’t have to write a fantasy adventure about a group of adventurers on a quest to save the king. You can write about a—whoa-a-a-a-a-a I’m not sharing the idea I just thought of. It’s too cool. I’m actually writing that one.

Fuck—now I have to make up another example.

You can write a story about a group of aliens questing through a dangerous planet full of weird, thin, green trees and giant insects. A planet that is obviously Earth, where they search for their dying king, who fled here—I dunno.

Essentially, you can make your stories all-the-way weird and unique.

To reel myself in a bit here, yes, I am totally aware that some writers already do this. You, who’s reading this, possibly already live and breathe premises that would blow the minds of us normies.

But if you don’t . . . maybe try to make a weird, totally-out-there story just to see if it’s a good fit?

Because even if this isn’t going to become a real trend . . .

. . . it’s still incredibly fun to try to make up the weirdest, least standard premise you possibly can.

And, besides . . . I think I want the future where a new movie is like, “Meet Gary, a sentient planet who’s looking for love!” or whatever.

And, real talk, I am definitely writing that story idea I got in the middle of this post. Seriously, if anything, know that I am amazingly pumped for that, and maybe you will be too if you settle on a beyond-strange idea you really like.

And I hope you do. Because we all deserve to have at least one really bizarre idea that we’re working on for nobody but ourselves.

~~~

Okay. I am calling it here because it’s 4AM and I am about to pass out.

If you enjoyed this post, I try to get posts out every Sunday. Today, this post came out late because my weekend was weirdly busy. I will admit that part of it was a long D&D session, but you can’t be mad, because I played a Warforged Fighter who was a mix between Robocop and a Terminator. His name was Silver and I accidentally min-maxed the shit out of him, so he was an absolute monster that didn’t get scratched once. Anyway, if you liked this post, please drop a Like or consider giving my blog a follow.

Last update here: I am at the end of my outline for Memory, my current WIP. I finished my Tally Run and I’m outlining the finale now. I just wanted to stay honest about that on here. Which I will continue to do next week.

Until then, take care, and always remember that ice tea that you brew yourself, with tea bags, is infinitely better than powder mix ice teas. Seriously, there’s no contest; brew those bags, put them in water with a little sugar, pour them over ice—so good.

Stay hydrated—bye!

Process in Progress #4 – The “Promises Tally” Run

Hello!

It’s been a crazy week for me writing-wise.

The last time I talked about my outlining process specifically, I explained that I had a hyper detailed system for laying out my stories before writing them.

This post is about how I tweaked that outlining system this week. And how it was super satisfying.

If you’re new here, yes, I am a writer. But also, I am the most bureaucratic writer that exists. Seriously, from what I’ve seen (and I’m just realizing it as I write this—holy shit), I weirdly break my stories down into data–on clean, literal spreadsheets–more than any other writer I know. I seriously use Excel.

But whatever–the point is, today, we’re talking about how I decided to do a “Promises Tally” editing run on my outline. And how that is going super well.

Because My Original Outlining Approach Was Too Much

If you remember “Process in Progress #1,” I detailed the actual outline I use, with pictures, explaining how it works and focuses heavily on a part of the novel writing process I didn’t take into account before–promises.

In that post, I also made a quick point about how the Promises Outline was pared down, because when I first devised it, I also color-coded each and underlined parts of every beat that met the promise (which I rightly stopped doing because that was too much, even for me.)

Whelp, here I am admitting that assigning promises to every beat while I was writing those beats, was also too much. That approach just destroyed my flow.

So I stopped noting promises for each beat as I wrote, just like I’d stopped color-coding and underlining significant parts of each beat.

But the key phrase there is, “as I wrote.” The idea was always to go back and fill in the promises above each part of my outline, but I would only do that after writing the majority of it first (so more of a review process that I could use to fix an easily tweakable story skeleton).

Well, this week, after having 97% of the outline finished (basically everything but the finale), I went back for that run, intending to add all of the story’s promises to each beat, hoping it would be easy.

And I discovered that not only was it easy–it was massively gratifying.

And it turned into an amazing, data-generating QA pass.

The Promises Tally Run

I’m a big sarcasm guy, but I am not being sarcastic about this.

Maybe it’s because assigning promises while writing was such a slog, but doing it as part of my final edit before writing prose was fast and weirdly satisfying.

Such that I thought, “Wait. I can get more data from this.”

And thus was born the Promises Tally Run.

Essentially (and it feels like I’m being the most opaque rollercoaster admitting this but) . . . . I decided to color-code my promises. And tally them.

I don’t know why WordPress crushes these images so hard, even at their preferred resolution, but if you’d like to read a slightly more legible version of this screenshot, click on the image and it will open in a new tab. Also, my apologies.

I know. Just hear me out.

This color-coding is really just a way to make this outline a heat map. At a glance, I can tell that a beat, scene, or chapter heavily focuses on a particular character or certain aspects of the plot.

And the tally makes that effort practical for me as a writer. The goal of this run was, as mentioned, to manage my arcs, which I’ve tied to promises—at least for this novel. A tally of ‘promises advanced’ by the end of each chapter makes it unavoidably clear how much I’ve advanced each promise and arc per chapter. And an additional “MS Total” tally makes it clear what progress I’ve made with them in the outline overall.

Again, click the image if you’d like to see a larger, slightly less garbage version.

I know that this looks like a bit much–and trust me, this is not one of those times where I’m suggesting you try this out yourself. What I will say, however, is that it’s yielded interesting data that’s already made me consider how to write future projects.

For example, Memory has a solid spread between the progression of its main characters’ arcs, which is awesome. I’ve done some smoothing on those numbers, of course, but regardless, I’m very excited, because it confirmed that, yes, the pace-crushing dream sequences I was going to put in were as unnecessary as they felt.

Also, the final arcs for the protagonist intertwine in ways I didn’t realize until I had to choose which arcs were advanced by certain scenes.

Also, Memory has a lot of action, which is fine—it is an Action Adventure Fantasy novel. But I definitely want to bring that tally down in my next projects. And probably make separate tallies for things like “Action,” “Drama,” and “Intrigue,” so I can tell which specific avenue is lacking in the subgenre I’m trying to write.

At this point, I’m up to Chapter 10 of this run because I’m taking my time with it (not rushing for this one aspect of my process at the very least), but I’m definitely going to be outlining the end of the novel by next weekend, and moving onto prose shortly after.

If I can combine the speedy approach to prose from my NaNoWriMo runs with this process, streamlining as I go . . .

. . . then I think I can actually become a novelist.

But I’m not going to jinx that.

I’m just going to post this.

And get back to my outline.

Wish me luck.

~~~

My name is Louis Santiago and I’m in a hurry, so no crazy closing remarks this time.

If you liked this post, you can give me a follow on the Sidebar on the left side of the screen (if you’re on PC) or the drop down menu on the top right (if you’re on mobile). I don’t write for algorithms, but Likes and Follows are the only way I can tell what people like and what they don’t, so consider dropping one of those if you liked this post.

That said, take are, stay safe, and stay cool—it’s pretty hot in New York already and Summer hasn’t even started. Hooray.

Drink water!

Let’s Talk About – SWOGing, A Star Wars Phenomenon That Just Made It To Resident Evil: Village

I finished Resident Evil: Village.

And I have two things to say.

First, in case you’ve heard different from certain websites or YouTube personalities, I will be the completely honest party and say, man, that game is not good.

I can seriously go on an entire rant about conflicting game mechanics; bugs; bad conveyance; manipulative, time-wasting game design; false advertising (like, a very obviously, intentionally misleading ad campaign [Chris doesn’t turn into an evil werewolf even though this is the goddamn box art]) and all the other things Village does wrong, but that’s not what this post is about. Just take my word for it: don’t buy it. Just watch a playthrough of it

So what is this post about? Why am I bringing up Village at all?

Because of its stupid, obviously rushed, plot twist-dependent story.

Specifically, the way that it does what I now call the “SWOG Cameo.”

That’s short for the “Star Wars OG Cameo.” Or I guess maybe I can call it the “Rogue One Cameo,” since that’s where this weird, weird practice started.

What is a SWOG Cameo?

TL;DR: It’s when a franchise does an extremely masturbatory cameo for one of its classic characters in the 11th hour of its latest installment. These cameos can be a little longer—with them having a small stake in the plot—or they can be as short as one scene, but either way, the plot would’ve been fine (or significantly better) without their involvement. And their involvement is always over-the-top flattering for them, with the story falling over itself to make them look as awesome as possible. Why?

For fan service.

The SWOG Cameo is purely fan-service. Put in a fan favorite character, have them be a badass and do awesome stuff, and then sit back and watch the internet go absolutely crazy for it even though it took zero effort.

And it is absolutely a Star Wars staple at this point.

It started with Rogue One, where the climax of the film includes a super masturbatory scene of Darth Vader chopping up some Rebels. People always point to that Darth Vader Scene as the best part of the entire film . . . which I feel really says something about the rest of the movie, but man-oh-man am I tired of having that argument.

It continued in the new trilogy when Disney SWOG’d the entire last Rey film by throwing in the Emperor with paper thin narrative justifications. Remember when he created a storm with Force Lightning to destroy a bunch of ships? J. J. Abrams was really hoping you’d love that.

A little under the radar, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order also got SWOG’d. (Spoilers) for that game, but you spend the last 2 minutes running from Darth Vader, who shows up out of narrative thin air, murders the last boss, and then starts pulling apart the walls and machinery of the base you’re trying to escape from, metal swirling around him like he’s a literal god. True story: the friend I played it with thought it was awesome that he showed up and wasn’t at all upset about all the emotional storytelling getting sucked out the airlock immediately (/spoilers).

And, also a true story, that same friend (and all of my other friends [save the one writer]) also loved it when—(spoilers) for The Mandalorian—in the last two minutes of the final episode of season 2, Luke Skywalker showed up and easily took apart 30 Death Trooper robots who were conveyed as invincible (/spoilers).

Yeah, it’s called SWOGing because it is 100% a Star Wars thing.

At least it was until now.

Chris Redfield is listed as “Alpha” in Ethan’s phone?
Are you fucking kidding me??

The SWOGing in Resident Evil: Village is so bizarre.

To be totally fair, Chris was also in Resident Evil VII, but it was not the same. For starters it wasn’t a flattering cameo at all.

But in Village, it’s downright unhealthy.

And, look, spoilers ahead for Village, but, again—seriously—don’t play it. It’s just a waste. Lady Dimitrescu and her cool castle are part of the false advertising; she’s seriously in it for 3 hours and then dies (seriously, she’s the first boss).

To establish a framework here, the game starts with Chris Redfield apparently killing your wife for some reason. He takes you into custody, but the route to whatever detention facility passes through a village full of mutated monster people.  Oops! The van you’re in gets attacked, you wind up in the village, and you don’t see Chris again until hours later, at which point he doesn’t explain a plot twist because a giant fish destroys the house you’re in mid-conversation (it’s as stupid as it sounds). You don’t see him again until the end of the game, when he explains the game’s plot twist to you. He gives you a tank, you fight the second to last boss, get killed (in plot), and then perspective switches to Chris, who, in classic SWOG fashion, is tooled out the ass with insanely powerful weapons that you use to cut through monsters like butter.

And, yes, this is the point where it starts to get weird. As Chris, you stroll through the titular village, that it took Ethan hours to get through, in 3 minutes, turning monsters that Ethan struggled with into swiss cheese. At one point, you have to fight two of a monster that Ethan had to run from and find a special gun to kill; with Chris, it took about 12 seconds to kill them both without even getting scratched. When I had to fight an invincible giant as Chris, I called down a literal air strike to kill it. Easy peasy.

All of this while Chris’ team of soldiers call him “Cap” and “Alpha” over the radio. And I’m aware it’s because he’s a captain and I guess his code name is “Alpha,” but it just feels like the equivalent of people calling him “Supes” and “Big Dick.” “This quadrant is all clear, Commander Best-Ever Example of Masculinity. What are your orders??”

Holy shit. Resident Evil . . . please calm down . . . with the goddamn fan service. Seriously.

Why Exactly Is This a Bad Thing?

Aside from the obvious—that fan service is lazy and it sucks—there’s the fact that it usually ruins newer characters’ plotlines and arcs.

For example, Rey, Finn, Poe, and Kylo all lost a ton of story potential when Palpatine stepped in. Whatever their narrative could’ve been was lost the moment their villain became fan service. Because, without Palpatine showing up, the obvious answer is that there could have been some kind of intense, emotional finale with Kylo Ren (who would have stayed evil if I was writing things).

In The Mandalorian, the characters could’ve had an awesome scene where they devise some way to make it past the Death Troopers (spoilers) instead of standing in place and watching Luke cut his way through them (/spoilers).

In Rogue One, the 2 minutes spent on Vader could’ve been divvied up among the protagonists in scenes or beats that make us actually care about them. Or scenes that, at the very least, helped the audience remember their names.

In Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, (spoilers) the arrival of Vader genuinely and completely ruins the finale; right as that game’s uniquely complex (for Star Wars) villain, the Second Sister, is about to decide if she’s going to be redeemed, Vader steps in and literally kills any chances we had of complex storytelling. Because either our protagonist, Cal, was going to have to kill her and go back to tell her former Jedi Master about it, or the Sister was going to decide to be redeemed, and we would potentially get to see her go through that in the sequel (/spoilers).

But it’s actually even worse in Resident Evil: Village.

Because, in Village, although the Chris cameo doesn’t necessarily pull time away from Ethan (spoilers) –he’s already dead at that point—(/spoilers), it does oddly recontextualize our feelings for our protagonist, Ethan.

By which I mean it helps us absolutely hate him.

If you were to look through reviews of this game, pretty much every review you find will mention how stupid and unlikeable Ethan is. He’s extremely dense, really bad at action one-liners, and unbelievably gullible (at one point in the game, you have to frustratingly watch from his perspective as a villain very obviously stalls for time and Ethan falls for it). And all of those realizations get that much worse the moment you’re allowed to play as ultra-badass Chris Redfield. By the time (spoilers) you’re back in control of Ethan, who it turns out is one of the monsters from the previous game (it’s not as interesting as it sounds), you just want to be playing as Chris again. The entire time you’re fighting the last boss, you’re thinking, “I could just air strike her and be done with it if I was playing Chris.” And when Ethan ultimately decides to sacrifice himself even though he does not need to in any way, for any reason whatsoever, and it’s totally hollow because he’s dying anyway, all I could manage to think was, “Thank God.” Like, “I’m so glad I’ll never have to be in Ethan’s shoes ever again” (/spoilers).

But Chris’s role in Village also takes SWOGing to a whole other level.  Because the problem isn’t just that his presence made us dislike Ethan even more . . .

. . . it also made Chris himself less malleable as a protagonist.

Because now, he’s not just a man. By the end of Resident Evil: Village, he’s more like a myth; a super hero with massive connections behind the scenes, allowing him to achieve insane feats (like leveling an entire village in 5 minutes). I can’t imagine him having relatable, human drama anymore. Or, rather, I can’t imagine the writers at Capcom giving him relatable, human drama anymore. It feels like he will always be the untouchable badass in the background now.

And that is the real problem with this growing trend. SWOGing ruins the tension of a story and usurps focus from that story’s characters, sure. But it also elevates the OG to legend status, setting a new bar of awesomeness for them. They become untouchable, very, very unlikely to die, make mistakes, or do anything beyond dropping into a story and being perfect for a little while. Village ensures that if we ever get to play Chris in another Resident Evil game, it’s going to be a tacticool run-and-gun experience where he kills armies of monsters without breaking a sweat. Because now, it kind of has to be.

Vader, Luke, they’re all already legendary; they wouldn’t be appearing as protagonists in anything anyway.

But other SWOG characters totally might . . . until they’re used for an over-the-top, fan service cameo.

Which sucks because I’ve recently seen an OG character appear in a sequel with new characters and it worked well. There’s a lot wrong with Terminator: Dark Fate, but probably the best thing about it was Linda Hamilton returning as Sarah Connor, because Sarah had new drama, and it was really cool watching Hamilton sell that drama . . . It definitely wasn’t as cool when they tried to sell us on a Terminator raising a family and becoming a good guy, but whatever.

My point is, I hope SWOGing stops so characters can continue being human.

Instead of becoming caricatures, designed to make us clap like nostalgia-drunk seals.

~~~

Man, I almost didn’t get this one out at all because I’m weirdly sick. I don’t know why or how, but I slept 12 hours last night and then woke up exhausted and (still to this point) light-headed. I’m seriously off to just drink cold water and sit in front of a fan (and hope that I just overheated [yes, I am Grass Type, btw]).

If you’re new here, I post every Sunday. You can always stop by next week or give this blog a follow if you want to hear the opinions of an aspiring writer on the internet.

Until next time, take care, stay safe, and seriously, stay hydrated.