“Do your best to maintain your chastity and become a respectable wizard” does not seem like a high hurdle to clear if you’re at a place called Brainerd Magic Science Academy, right? Well, we’ll see about that. (Picture is actually totally unrelated, it is from the anime 3D Girlfriend which I did not even complete watching for free. It has some funny quotes though.)
As usual I have joined the National Novel Writing Month stampede. This year is somewhat disappointing in that they took their remarkably useful and easy-to-use website and changed it to a dysfunctional labyrinth. There was probably some reason for this, but they paid a high price. The community is the whole point of this movement, and making it hard for us to communicate with each other will cost them for each year they keep it up.
That said, I’m along for the ride as usual. This time I was a day or two late getting started, as I had forgotten my original story idea and waited in vain for it to come back. Eventually I got a new one. It is a variant of dicewriting, based on my latest parameters but expanded and changed for faster power progression. It is also set in a new setting.
Basically the story takes an immature 19-year old boy and puts him in an alternate version of Earth, set in 1975, after a science of magic was discovered in the late 1950es, unifying magic, psychic powers and superpowers into a common Magic Science that is available to all who can understand the Laws of Magic as described by Master Storelv. Yes, after the passing of the founder, it has taken on some trappings of religion, with people referring to the founder as Master and treating his books more or less as holy scripture. But as long as people understand the principles he describes and meditate on them, they have a fairly high chance of manifesting some kind of supernatural ability, varying from increased health to the ability to be two places at once. The more spectacular powers – or “Abilities” as they are called – are quite rare. Of course there is also now a political movement, the Right to Rule Party, who push for greater privileges for magic users and influence on political decisions.
Unlike last year’s story, this one is not combat-centered at all. It takes place in a boarding school, the fictional Brainerd Magic Science Academy, in the non-fictional small town of Brainerd, central Minnesota. (As such there is a fair share of stereotypical Nordic and German names, because Minnesota!) There is almost no description of how the school looks (apart from its basic floor plan), or the people, or the town. (This may change if I run out of ideas and start padding the book. I’d rather not others do that unto me, though, so probably not.)
Most of the content so far is dialogue and internal monologue of the main character. Constantly watching over him is Crystal, the voice of the mysterious crystal artifact that transferred his consciousness from Earth to this lower world. She occasionally provides useful information, but mostly seems to regard this as an experiment. Because he comes from a higher world, or perhaps because he is this world’s only hyperlexic, he starts racking up magic Strengths faster than anyone else. This thrusts him into the spotlight and forces him to choose sides in a world he does not understand at all. Religious fundamentalists want to expel or kill all magic users. The Right to Rule Party wants the magic users to rule society. In between are various more normal factions. Government agencies that seek to use them as pawns, for the greater glory of America and the Agency. That kind of stuff. The first 50 000 words will likely only be enough to set up the story. Whatever tension there is, is the usual high school drama. (The main character is aged down to 16 by Crystal and starts over as a freshman.) Girls abound, but the main character is as bad at reading humans as he is good at reading books. (Apart from that he is not autobiographic in the least.)
On a magic system note, I have run with my fine-tuned list of psychic powers, but divided more of them into branches. For instance Psychokinesis now has a Levitation branch which lets you fly, and a Telekinesis branch that lets you move other objects. You can absolutely have both, and they share a Power stat (which determines how much, how fast and for how long) but have separate Skill stats (which determines your chance of success and your accuracy). Pyrokinesis and Cryokinesis are now skills of a single Thermokinesis Power, while ESP has been divided into Clairvoyance, Clairaudience, Psychometry, Precognition and Aura Sight.
My writing tool of choice is still yWroter 5, free from Spacejock Software. (You can give him money if you want.) As a former programmer, I find this a near ideal tool, with menus that let me bring up all the important features with a couple clicks or keypresses. For instance creating a new scene is Alt-S-S-Enter, and there is no need to memorize this as the menus are right there on the screen.
I have Dragon NaturallySpeaking 15 now, and it is better than ever. But I don’t use it, because it feels super embarrassing to tell a history in first person about being in high school and having magic powers and not understanding girls, when the landlord’s daughter lives upstairs and the house is rather poorly soundproofed. Well, it would probably not get me evicted, but it would still be embarrassing. Luckily my wrists are in excellent shape these days, better so than my throat, so I mostly have Dragon around because I love living in the future, and try to be the consumer I wish to see in the world, buying the stuff I want there to be more of (when I can afford it).
I considered writing in my native Nynorsk (New Norwegian) this year, right up until my English-speaking muse came on board. But the lack of a Nynorsk spell check in yWriter (or any other novel-writing tool) held me back. (That and the tiny possibility that it might end up good enough for someone to want to read it. There is more chance that one in 2 billion people might be interested, than one in 5 million.)
That’s it, I think?