edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
For [profile] jjunter, for the Fic DVD Commentary Meme (which is still open, fyi!)

The Guardian in Spite of Herself: Ayakawa Yukiko retired from being a ninja, and she's come to terms with that. Then the Third Hokage summons her for an assignment that will change her life. AU story, set six years pre-manga. (72,000 words)

Chapter 16: Chapter the Sixteenth, in which Naga and Suisen demonstrate how not to dance with a partner, Yukiko and Seichi discuss assassination and dead relatives, and, to the author's relief, Kakashi's interrogation skills end up irrelevant to the plot. (4,450 words)

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As reading your latest DVD commentary (chapter 11 of the Way of the Apartment Manager) led me to reread the whole series again (with pleasure!), I'd love a commentary on chapter 16 of the Guardian in Spite of Herself.

In the former fic, it's basically all from Yukiko's POV; in the latter, you've got multiple POVs you switch between, and in the latter chapters you're often switching between them 2-3 times within any given chapter. What are some of the challenges and opportunities having so many POVs and subgroups of people in various locations to keep moving simultaneously? Describing it like this sounds like it shouldn't work, but the effect as a reader is this sense of escalating tension, wondering if every group including a POV character will ultimately end up in the same location (and if yes, what will happen next).

To answer quickly: the main challenge is timing/pacing. I want to use each POV at least every other chapter, so they don't feel like they've fallen out of the story (this is slightly less urgent for Yukiko and Sasuke, since they're currently in the same place and thus appear in each other's POV sections), but I also don't want to drag the story out. That means I have to make sure stuff happens in every POV thread, because I can't just drop one of them for extended periods while someone else has exciting adventures.

This is why Iruka is not a POV character, incidentally, though my first tentative outline -- created way back when this story was three tiny scenelets and a vague idea -- did include a plot thread about him and a Yamanaka OC investigating the Uchiha massacre back in the village. I still think that could have interesting thematic resonance with the current plot threads, but he wound up spending a lot of time sitting and waiting (or reading archives) which was not conducive to maintaining momentum. So I cut him, though I still kind of want to write a sidefic about what he's up to during the main story.

Anyway, the advantage to multiple POVs is that I can show more events and therefore create a more intricate story, and also show different perspectives on the same events and issues -- because even though Sasuke and Yukiko are currently sharing a plot strand, the things they notice and care about are radically different, and their emotional arcs are likewise dissimilar. This is also useful for creating thematic resonance. The main theme of "Guardian" is the cost in lives and in other factors (political, economic, psychological, ethical, etc.) that the hidden village/ninja clan system imposes on the people of the Elemental Countries, as seen by both civilians and shinobi, so the more perspectives I can bring to bear, the more rounded the picture.

(The other advantage to multiple POVs, of course, is that it's easier to do cliffhangers. *wry*)


The Guardian in Spite of Herself - Chapter 16, with commentary )

And that is that. :)
edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
The pit of voles is being its usual link-eating self, so I am posting these here for reference and so I can make a single link pointing at this post instead of trying to make this whole damn list appear on my ff.net profile. :/

(Note: I am not sure all of these links are still live. I'll check them some other day.)

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Stuff various wonderful people have drawn for my stories! (Plus two of my own doodles.)

from "The Way of the Apartment Manager" and "The Guardian in Spite of Herself"
--mug shot of Ayakawa Yukiko, by me
--mug shot of Tonoike Naga, by me

--Yukiko as a chuunin, by gabriel_chaos
--Naga as a chuunin, by gabriel_chaos
--Uchiha Tsukihime, by gabriel_chaos
--Fuuma Seichi, by gabriel_chaos

--Naga with kimono, before the celebratory dinner in "Apartment Manager," by iponly (ETA 3/6/11 - I am told that this link may download viruses onto your computer. I can't reproduce the problem, but it seems polite to provide warning.)

--Yukiko, Iruka, and Naga, by toki_usagi

--Naga and Nagoyaka Kafunnokaze, by kazeko

--Yukiko and Naruto, by ellenlome
--Naga as a chuunin, by ellenlome

loosely related crack
--Uchiha Crystal Power, Make-up! i.e., Tsukihime cosplaying as her namesake, by gabriel_chaos
--Moon Scroll no Jutsu, Activate! i.e., Tsukihime summons a unicorn, by gabriel_chaos
--Sasuke the magical ninja, from "Lemonade," by gabriel_chaos

from "Secrets"
--Sir Vladislav, by iponly

from "Fixation, and Other Stories"
--the princess and the dragon, from 'Fairy Tales' in chapter VI: Something Completely Different, by iponly
edenfalling: headshot of a raccoon, looking left (raccoon)
The slightly revised final version is now up on AO3!

Chapter Sixteen: In which Naga and Suisen demonstrate how not to dance with a partner, Yukiko and Seichi discuss assassination and dead relatives, and, to the author's relief, Kakashi's interrogation skills end up irrelevant to the plot. (4,450 words)

I realize it's been over three and a half years since ch. 15, and I apologize for that extended hiatus. As a quick reminder, "The Guardian in Spite of Herself" is a sequel to The Way of the Apartment Manager, an AU novel in which, when Naruto moves into an apartment at far too young an age, he doesn't wind up completely alone but instead forms a family of choice with Ayakawa Yukiko, the mostly-retired ninja who owns and managers the building; in the process, he inspires her to reclaim her old dreams and change her life.

"Guardian" begins about a year after the end of "Apartment Manager," when Yukiko gets saddled with another problem child in the immediate aftermath of the Uchiha Massacre. Then things get complicated -- not least by the introduction of three other POV characters, two separate missions, an attempted social revolution in a neighboring country, and Akatsuki.

Chapter 15 left off with Naga, Kakashi, and their traveling companions about to be ambushed in Volcano Country. Chapter 16 picks up directly from that cliffhanger.
edenfalling: headshot of a raccoon, looking left (raccoon)
"The Guardian in Spite of Herself" is the sequel to "The Way of the Apartment Manager," which can be found in final form on AO3, or in beta draft with comments on my journal. It also has fanart.

Summary: Chapter the Sixteenth, in which Naga and Suisen demonstrate how not to dance with a partner, Yukiko and Seichi discuss assassination and dead relatives, and, to the author's relief, Kakashi's interrogation skills end up irrelevant to the plot. (4,425 words)

Note: Well, that took far too long! Even if you only count from July 2015, which is when I got serious about returning to this story, that's still six months and that's ridiculous. I will try to do better with chapter 17, but seeing as I always say that, I completely understand any skepticism on your part. *wry*

[ETA: The slightly revised final version is now up on AO3! (ff.net mirror)]

The Guardian in Spite of Herself, chapter 16 )

...

Anyway, all feedback is pounced upon with great appreciation! Seriously, if you see anything that looks weird or unclear, or that could otherwise stand improvement, please tell me.
edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
I am continuing to edit my way through "The Guardian in Spite of Herself," and am posting one chapter a day over on AO3 until I catch up to myself. So that version is now complete through ch. 11, and I am in the process of overhauling ch. 13.

Ah, ch. 13.

I confess, there is a brief moment in ch. 13 that is the main reason I wanted to do an overhaul in the first place, because I got an ff.net review pointing out the problem with that moment back in March 2014, whereupon I looked at the paragraph in question and said, "Oh shit, you're right. What the actual fuck was I thinking?" Then I figured as long as that needed fixing, I might as well fix some other things that had been bugging me slightly (aka, all the punctuation), and then I figured I might as well roll all that into a 'rework the whole story en route to finishing the next chapter' project, and you can see how quickly THAT happened. *sigh*

There have been a few other lines and paragraphs that I looked at seriously askance upon rereading, which I have duly altered or removed altogether, but this one is the biggie. And I'm not quite sure what to replace it with. I can't simply yank it out and be done, because there's a narrative and character beat that has to hit at that point. But it cannot be that particular beat, because ugh, no.

Seriously, what the fuck was I thinking? Or actually, was I thinking at all? I suspect I wasn't especially, and that's what caused the problem.

It's creepy how cultural conditioning seeps into people's subconscious minds and then seeps back out into our own stories when we're not paying attention, you know?

-----

ETA: It looked much more solvable in the morning, as such things often do. :-)
edenfalling: headshot of a raccoon, looking left (raccoon)
And on that note, Chapter 7 of "The Guardian in Spite of Herself" is now up on AO3. :D
edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
As seen in various places:

*pokes around hard drive* Hmm. I'm only actively writing two things at the moment -- as in, there are actual story-words on a page and I have made changes to the files within the past week. There are other things I'm 'writing' in the sense of doing brainstorming and outlining work, and a whole sheaf of unfinished stories I pull out and poke at occasionally, but like I said, only two things in active production.

So you get those two, and then one of the 'poke it with a stick every six months' stories chosen almost completely at random. (I am applying my usual approach to the 'three sentence' aspect. *wry*)

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1. As Suisen pulled leaf-attenuated sunlight into her mirrors, the Volcano-nin drew a pair of short metal sticks from a thigh holster. Naga tensed, but instead of throwing them the Volcano-nin flicked her left hand through a rapid chain of seals, then settled the sticks solidly into each hand. Thin streams of sandy earth poured upward and latched onto their rounded ends as if magnetized.

Naga didn't wait to see the end result of the jutsu. Strike fast and hard and it wouldn't matter; a fist to the jaw disrupted anybody's focus. But the Volcano-nin dodged her attack -- tucked and rolled and came up still holding those sticks and their trails of sand -- and Naga lost a precious second avoiding Suisen and catching her balance with a ricochet off a handy tree.

The sand began to glow red-hot, then flashed into nearly transparent whips of molten glass. Naga felt the heat on her face and arms from a good three body-lengths away.

Ah. That explained the insulation.

-----

2. Matt opened rifts to the surface sometimes. Wilson disapproved, but Vanessa ensured that he was technically allowed. Justice dispensed only after mortals died was hardly justice at all, she told Wilson every time he suggested changing the rules, and it would be unwise to divert sentries from watching outward for the Devourers to watching inward for more transient problems. But it would be equally unwise not to remind mortals that they were watching, and that kind of message needed a personal touch. Matt was very practiced at personal touches.

She'd meant those words as a teasing compliment, once upon a time. These days they were a calculated barb. But she was still willing to say them, still willing to take Matt's side on this one point even after the way he ended his relationship with her and Wilson. He could bear much heavier burdens than Vanessa's cold anger in return for this one small slice of freedom.

And if some of Matt's rifts weren't precisely calibrated to swallow and crush mortals sorely in need of retribution, well, he was blind. It was really more surprising that he ever aimed them correctly than that he occasionally missed and found himself standing alone in a mountain meadow, spring sunlight warm on his back and the subtle perfume of a thousand flowers drifting through the air on a tender breeze.

-----

3. "There was no need for claws. You could simply have told me," Telemain grumbled as he stood.

"I did," Morwen said, handing him a bowl of stew. "You weren't listening, as usual."

"I always listen when you have something to say about magic," Telemain said. He lifted a spoonful of stew halfway to his mouth, then paused. "That summoning spell is fascinating, by the way. It's the most open-ended piece of magical construction I've ever seen. Nearly all the parameters are left up to the summoner's own mental focus rather than delineated by the ingredients, the ritual, or the schematics. The spell itself hardly deserves the name, though it does just barely tip over the invocational border that allows a caster access to stored magic rather than depending on his or her own inborn power, which in our cases is merely hypothetical insofar as all living creatures interact with the ambient magical fields and therefore--"

"--are still made of flesh and blood and need food to remain living creatures instead of turning into corpses, which, I regret to inform you, cannot think. Lunch first, theory later," Morwen said.

Telemain glanced down at his hovering spoon, stuck it into his mouth, and swallowed. He made an indistinct noise of surprise. "This is good. When did you learn to cook?"

"Before I went to the Academy," Morwen said dryly. "Besides, it's a logical extension of potion brewing skills. I needed some practice to manage multiple dishes at a time, but following a recipe is easy."

-----

Number one is "Guardian" ch. 16, of course. Number two is a Daredevil kinkmeme thing that got a little out of hand in at least three directions at once and now I have no idea if I'll be able to wrangle it back under control. Number three is a pre-canon Enchanted Forest Chronicles fic that I swear I will finish one of these years. (No really, I will. I mean it!)
edenfalling: headshot of a raccoon, looking left (raccoon)
Here are the results of my latest mini-ficlet prompt meme, in case you missed any of them. :D

1. Kiss the Bride: Corin proposes to Susan. Prompt: Susan Pevensie as Queen of Narnia, coping with marriage proposals. 425 words, for [tumblr.com profile] madamehardy. [Tumblr; journal]

2. In Sure and Certain Hope: Does a funeral really count if you know the person it's for will resurrect tomorrow? Beta kid friendship. Prompt: Dave, John, Jade: somber but hopeful. 275 words, for [tumblr.com profile] shinyrock6498. [Tumblr; journal]

3. Under Pressure: Sakura will survive until her teammates dig her out. Part of the Tides AU. Prompt: How about some Naruto: Sakura, building pressure. 400 words, for [tumblr.com profile] branch-and-root. [Tumblr; journal]

4. Literal Interpretation: John has some questions about the repercussions of going God Tier. Davesprite and Jade are less than helpful. Tales from the Yellow Yard. Prompt: Jade, John, Davesprite, god worship. 675 words, for [tumblr.com profile] asukaskerian. [Tumblr; journal]

5. Freedom Ride: Aradia and Kanaya, in the moments before a guerrilla raid on Battleship Condescension. Prompt: Kanaya, Aradia, Prompt word: whoops. 425 words, for [tumblr.com profile] gracefularchitect. [Tumblr; journal]

6. Tall Ship of War: Shezan and Ilgamuth discuss types of watercraft as the Narnian delegation arrives in Tashbaan. Prompt: How about Shezan and/or Ilgamuth, and boats? 225 words, for [livejournal.com profile] autumnia. [Tumblr; journal]

7. My Sorrow's Share: Arwen's view of her uncle's choice changed over time. Prompt: Arwen and the pro/con of choosing humanity. (I'm on a Silmarillion kick.) 125 words, for [tumblr.com profile] mmarycontrary. [Tumblr; journal]

8. Crowning Glory: Edmund combs Susan's hair. Prompt: How about Susan Pevensie, combs or haircombing? 625 words, for [livejournal.com profile] cat_i_th_adage. (Also a Cotton Candy Bingo fill!) [Tumblr; journal]

9. Picture Perfect: Davepetasprite takes up an old hobby in a new medium. Prompt: Karkat, Dave, Davepetasprite, likeness. 150 words, for [tumblr.com profile] primtheamazing. [Tumblr; journal]

10. Pay It Forward: Yukiko and Iruka discuss educational opportunities and the lack thereof. Part of the Apartment Manager AU. Prompt: Ayakawa Yukiko and educating the next generation, please. :) 1,150 words, for [livejournal.com profile] wistfulmemory. (Also a Cotton Candy Bingo fill!) [Tumblr; journal]

11. Mischief Night: The night before they return to Konoha for real, Team 7 blow off some steam by reversing their old genin missions. Part of the Tides AU. Prompt: Naruto, Sakura, Sasuke; "strangely satisfying". 550 words, for [personal profile] eos_joy. (Also a Cotton Candy Bingo fill!) [Tumblr; journal]

12. Necessary Measures: Kanaya takes steps to end a recurring argument. Prompt: Rose, Jasprose, and Kanaya, bickering. 200 words, for [tumblr.com profile] primtheamazing. [Tumblr; journal]

13. In Abeyance, In Arrears: If Bro had smiled, even once... Prompt: Bro, Dave, dour. 150 words, for anonymous on Tumblr. [Tumblr; journal]

14. Broken If Revealed: Karen discovers Foggy's catastrophe contingency plans, and a number of secrets come out in the process. Prompt: Daredevil: awkward reveal, "This is- it's not what it looks like...?" 2,150 words, for [tumblr.com profile] shinyrock6498. [Tumblr; journal]

15. An Unorthodox Pedagogical Approach: Naga and Kakashi take their genin teams on a joint D-rank mission. There is no way this can possibly go wrong. Part of the Apartment Manager AU. Prompt: If you’re willing (and can without spoilers), I would love a future fic showing Naruto, Shinnin, and Sakura working together as a team while on a mission. 300 words, for [livejournal.com profile] wistfulmemory. [Tumblr; journal]

16. Part of Your World: Rose asks Jade to move in with her. Jade/Rose, sequel to New Roots. Prompt: Jade, Rose, prompt word: adventure. 675 words, for [tumblr.com profile] gracefularchitect. (Also a Cotton Candy Bingo fill!) [Tumblr; journal]
edenfalling: headshot of a raccoon, looking left (raccoon)
I am having serious trouble working up motivation to write, which is frustrating. Like, I will open a document, check where I was in the story, type maybe five words, and... nothing. Blank. It's particularly annoying if I've been mentally juggling and arranging ideas earlier in the day so I know roughly where I want to go and just can't quite get there once I am actually trying to type letters on a keyboard.

One thing that I've found helpful in the past when I've had trouble writing is to switch gears and write something completely different, and also -- this is the key part -- something with an external rather than internal pressure/reward system. Like prompt!fic.

So.

Give me one to three characters plus a mood, a scenario, or a prompt word, and I will write you a ficlet that is at least three sentences or 100 words long.

Help me out, please?

---------------

1 ) Kiss the Bride: Susan Pevensie as Queen of Narnia, coping with marriage proposals. 425 words, for [tumblr.com profile] madamehardy. [Tumblr crosspost; AO3 version]

2 ) In Sure and Certain Hope: Dave, John, Jade: somber but hopeful. 275 words, for [tumblr.com profile] shinyrock6498. [Tumblr crosspost; AO3 version]

3 ) Under Pressure: Lessee. How about some Naruto: Sakura, building pressure. 400 words, for [tumblr.com profile] branch-and-root. [Tumblr crosspost; AO3 version]

4 ) Literal Interpretation: Jade, John, Davesprite, god worship. 675 words, for [tumblr.com profile] asukaskerian. [Tumblr crosspost; AO3 version]

5 ) Freedom Ride: Kanaya, Aradia, Prompt word: whoops. 425 words, for [tumblr.com profile] gracefularchitect. [Tumblr crosspost; AO3 version]

6 ) Tall Ship of War: How about Shezan and/or Ilgamuth, and boats? 225 words, for [livejournal.com profile] autumnia. [Tumblr crosspost; AO3 version]

7 ) My Sorrow's Share: Arwen and the pro/con of choosing humanity. (I'm on a Silmarillion kick.) 125 words, for [tumblr.com profile] mmarycontrary. [Tumblr crosspost; AO3 version]

8 ) Crowning Glory: How about Susan Pevensie, combs or haircombing? 625 words, for [livejournal.com profile] cat_i_th_adage. (Also a [community profile] cottoncandy_bingo fill, because why not!) [Tumblr crosspost; AO3 version]

9 ) Picture Perfect: Karkat, Dave, Davepetasprite, likeness. 150 words, for [tumblr.com profile] primtheamazing. [Tumblr crosspost; AO3 version]

10 ) Pay It Forward: Ayakawa Yukiko and educating the next generation, please. :) 1,150 words, for [livejournal.com profile] wistfulmemory. (Also a [community profile] cottoncandy_bingo fill!) [Tumblr crosspost; AO3 version]

11 ) Mischief Night: Naruto, Sakura, Sasuke; "strangely satisfying". 550 words, for [personal profile] eos_joy. (Also a [community profile] cottoncandy_bingo fill!) [Tumblr crosspost; AO3 version]

12 ) Necessary Measures: Rose, Jasprose, and Kanaya, bickering. 200 words, for [tumblr.com profile] primtheamazing. [Tumblr crosspost; AO3 version]

13 ) In Abeyance, In Arrears: Bro, Dave, dour. 150 words, for anonymous on Tumblr. [Tumblr crosspost; AO3 version]

14 ) Broken If Revealed: Daredevil: awkward reveal, "This is- it's not what it looks like...?" 2,150 words, for [tumblr.com profile] shinyrock6498. [Tumblr crosspost; AO3 version]

15 ) An Unorthodox Pedagogical Approach: If you’re willing (and can without spoilers), I would love a future fic showing Naruto, Shinnin, and Sakura working together as a team while on a mission. 300 words, for [livejournal.com profile] wistfulmemory. [Tumblr crosspost; AO3 version]

16 ) Part of Your World: Jade, Rose, prompt word: adventure. 675 words, for [tumblr.com profile] gracefularchitect. (Also a [community profile] cottoncandy_bingo fill!) [Tumblr crosspost; AO3 version]
edenfalling: headshot of a raccoon, looking left (raccoon)
Sorry, this is not a new chapter. It's just internet housekeeping time again.

...

Okay, and it's an announcement that I have moved "Guardian" to the top of my to-do list and am actively working on it once more. I am not sure if anyone still cares at this late date, but hey, I want to finish the story for myself as much as for any hypothetical readers. I mean, I still don't know the ending! Not in any great detail, at least. And I really want to know what happens.

So cross your fingers for me, and we'll go find out together. :D

---------------

The Guardian in Spite of Herself: WIP, 68,000 words so far, started Dec. 2005. The reward for a job well done is a bigger job. In this case, Ayakawa Yukiko's new job is a lot more complicated than anyone expected. The Uchiha massacre and its aftermath, in the world of The Way of the Apartment Manager. Post-traumatic stress, extreme familial dysfunction, attempted social/political/military revolution, dubious ethical choices and discussion thereof.

"Guardian" is a darker story than "Apartment Manager," partly because of the subject matter, and partly because I decided to unpick the implications of the socio-cultural and economic system of the ninja villages rather than accept them as the status quo. Also, I structured it the way I would structure an original novel, which may have been a mistake from a fanfiction perspective. In other words, three of my four POV characters are OCs, only two of whom were introduced in the previous story, and the new OC is also meant to be a semi-sympathetic antagonist whose worldview challenges the moral principles of career ninjas.

In contrast to "Apartment Manager," this story has taken (and is still taking, so help me) forever and a day to write. I think that's partly because I wrote most of "Apartment Manager" in the throes of madly passionate new-fandom love, which is not sustainable, and partly because stories with multiple POVs and plot arcs are inherently more complicated than stories that have only one of each.

But I will win eventually. *resolve face*

[Note, 1/3/16: Read the story on AO3 or ff.net. The journal version is a beta draft with all the attendant glitches, though it may be of some minor interest as a historical artifact.]

The Guardian in Spite of Herself - Table of Contents )

I suspect "Guardian" will be 30-35 chapters when complete. My current outline lists 28, but my outlines inevitably expand in the writing.

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Elizabeth Culmer

September 2017

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