Hello,

I hope you all are well. I’m finally getting back into a good working groove again for my art projects and my novel, which reminded me about how much I miss blogging about my progress/research.

Starting with the progress with my novel series, what really helped was using a cork board and sticky notes to jot out the main plot. My first draft was written with more of a pantser mentality. I kept beating myself up for it before, but now that I’ve accepted that I’m at where I’m at and there’s no changing that, I can lean more into my plotter side.

Using a cork board and sticky notes to track the plot/character arc of one of my protagonists has helped tremendously. I think seeing the story’s progression through one character’s point of view and having more of a visual/tangible mode of seeing my work brought it more to life. Specifically, I was able to pinpoint how many other characters cross the path of this protagonist along with what areas and events they come to interact with whether they expect it or not. It’s an interesting process because initially I was down on myself for not plotting more for my first draft, but it was pointless to think that way. I’m learning to trust my creative process more and I’ve accepted how chaotic it is, but it’s also has a natural order to it. In other words, there’s an order to my chaos and I should never have compared myself to other authors/writers to begin with. It does help to learn about the creative process of others, but at the end of the day, just do your own thing.

As for the Russian/Slavic witchcraft venture, I previously posted of a podcast I listen to where author Natasha Helvin describes her own experiences. I’ve been reading both of her books Russian Black Magic and Slavic Witchcraft. Both are intriguing reads and are very inspiring for a specific character of my novel, which I hope I can capture well with the utmost respect of the craft.

Here’s the Instagram of one fellow writer I follow who reminded me of cork board plotting.

Now, for my art projects. I focused on my poetry collection for most of the winter season. While working, I kept having these visual ideas being paired with my poems. I’ve done photography with poetry before when I was younger (like a teenager), but looking back on my creations in the past, it’s not really up to my standard of quality today, although I love that I tried my best back then. So what’s the next level? Photomanipulation. I’ve been taking lessons with photoshop, photography, and digital art to see if I can bring my dark fantasy vision and poetry to life through a darker medium. The surrealists and dark self-portraiture artists of the photoshop composite world are amazing.

Danny Bittencourt is a Brazilian visual poet whose work I’ve fallen in love with.

Another is Flóra Borsi, whose fine art self-portraits are surreal and captivating.

I hope to enter this world one day, so I’m working hard. Diving into the world of photoshop and photography was very unexpected while working on my poetry. At first it felt like I was distracting myself from the main goal of the project. Quite the opposite; this is exactly what I’ve been wanting to do since I was a teenager. I don’t want the poetry collection to just be in a book. I want each work to be a masterpiece.

Here’s to ambition and the crazy chaos of creativity.

Be well.

  • Leliel

Featured Image: © Danny Bittencourt

moral criticism:

“A type of literary criticism that evaluates a work on the basis of the moral elements it contains and their correspondence to the accepted moral standards of the time or to those ethical principles that the critic feels should govern human life. Ideally, the moral critic, in judging a literary work, applies only those moral standards presented in the work itself or, failing that, makes his or her own beliefs clear to the reader.” – The NTC’s Dictionary of Literary Terms

I’m currently writing an psychoanalysis on the horror/thriller film The Platform directed by Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia currently on Netflix. It’s almost impossible to avoid doing a kind of moral criticism not only trying to interpret the morals addressed in the work itself, but also express your own feelings about the events throughout the story (especially that ending!). Doing my best to stay within the realm of psychoanalysis, I inevitably ran into psychological terms that framed my view of the many facets of morality portrayed in this film. I have no desire to push my views on the audience, but the subjectivity that comes with psychoanalysis and the unreachable idealism of a moral critique makes it difficult to not address my views, which hasn’t been as optimistic as most analyses and reviews.

I’ll definitely share my analysis of The Platform on my Vocal profile when it’s finished.

Do you think being the ideal moral critic, where you’re focusing on the moral standards or ethics of the work itself, is possible?

Writing Advice

Are You A Planner or a Pantser? I’m a Plantser

Genre Study: On Horror and Magical Realism

To The Writer Ashamed of Resting

Kill Your Darlings (Or Torture Them)

Three Essential Writing Techniques from Stoker’s Dracula and The Epistolary Narrative


photo of woman carrying a cardboard

No Justice, No Peace – [News/Website Update]

The page that was once “Stand Up – BLM/LGBTQ+” is now No Justice, No Peace, which provides resources, volunteer/donation opportunities, and more regarding the institutional and system prejudices being perpetuated in the USA. The page has been updated to include the Stop Asian Hate movement. I will soon be adding sources regarding how you can […]

In this entry, I apply advice from screenwriter John Truby to the first draft struggles I’ve been dealing with. Additionally, I run into a helpful plot structure from Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat and create my own character profile template!

Slavic Witchcraft ft. Natasha Helvin [Research/Video]

Doing some research on Russian and Slavic witchcraft led me to this wonderful and informative podcast by Magick and Mediums. Just wanted to share and hope you enjoy. Also, I’m currently reading Natasha Helvin’s two books Slavic Witchcraft and Russian Black Magic.

Photo by Elina Krima on Pexels.com

Genre Study: Horror and Magical Realism

Horror and magical realism are my favorite genres to blend. My first published attempt at doing this is my horror short “Autonomy Bleeds Black” where pain and power manifested into elemental forces. One of my favorite magical realism works is Pan’s Labyrinth directed by Guillermo Del Toro. I’m a huge fan of Del Toro’s and am grateful that Pan’s Labyrinth was my introduction to him. In interviews, he’s described this film to be very personal as someone who lived under strict and religious conditions, but used fantasy works and other genres to escape. Often our escapes become reflections of our inner world and help us interpret what’s going on within us subconsciously and consciously.

…These genres are mirrors, but for their effectiveness to withstand any resistance to our personal revelations, we writers have to hook the audience in with familiarity and give them the illusion of control.

Photo by Eric Tompkins on Unsplash

The Fun of Writing Environments

One author I was thinking about after my writing session today was F. Scott Fitzgerald. I think I may have blogged or written about his vivid writing style before. One night I decided to listen to The Beautiful and Damned on audiobook hoping it would help me go to sleep. It was impossible. The diction and rhythm of his writing kept me awake and invested in Anthony’s life, family, grandfather, and the girl in the tub. The narration is omnipotent third-person. There isn’t a lot of dialogue, but every scene has ambience, the internal conflicts and emotions of the protagonist are interdependent on the atmosphere of every scene. Of course why wouldn’t it? The American 1920s was a very lively time where your status and progress in life determined whether you were all the rage or not. Although there’s a looseness or almost carefree façade to the high class life of that time, there’s also a stress and competitiveness digging inside their guts. Fitzgerald wasn’t just narrating (and parodying, I think) about a time and characters he meticulously understood, but…

Second Draft Drama (With Questionnaire)

For my “fantasy” side of my dark fantasy novel series, I created a World Immersion checklist for myself to make sure I have continuity from chapter to chapter. Here’s how it goes:

  • Setting descriptions
  • Lore Continuity
  • Magic System Rule Review
  • Character Placement
  • Character Dialogue/Dialect Accuracy
  • Story Flow

Not bad right? I think that’ll be solid enough. I also created a review questionnaire for myself to reflect on how I’m doing as a writer. Here are my answers for the prologue:

I Want To Tease My Readers The Right Way

For a good page turner, you have to do more than a cliffhanger. Cliffhangers are our scapegoat for suspense. Avid readers catch on to that real quick. To paraphrase one of my favorite authors on suspense, Donna Tartt, “Suspense is when two people are having a conversation and there’s a bomb counting down to explode under their table.” Oh the many factors to consider… Do the characters talk about the bomb? Are they oblivious? Is one character beating around the bush about the bomb? Does the other character understand the other’s subtext? Is the bomb noticeable? Is the bomb ticking loudly or silently? Is the timer for the bomb a good amount of time or minutes away from going off? Who planted the bomb? Considering the factors needed for a suspenseful page turner is all about context. If it isn’t rich enough, the audience will assume the predictable: the bomb will go off, the characters will die and that means the characters weren’t important in the first place. In other words, lack of context makes the audience apathetic and cliches make them cynical. All interest dies. So, while I was thinking about the resolution for the first part of my novel hoping to make sure I don’t emotionally shutdown my audience, I did my best to keep it like a chess game and maintain the captivation through a series of power plays.

My Side Characters Kinda Suck, But I Can Fix Them

Oh god, they’re horrible.

My first draft rendition of introducing this new group of characters reminded me how sinful it is to write cringy dialogue and that my characters should have purpose or just not exist at all. I don’t mean to be too hard on myself considering it’s the first draft, but I was disappointed to read this scene of diverse characters introducing themselves with a silly/comedic camaraderie and then turning out to be kind of overpowered later. I already know my anime-brain took the lead on this. Now current me has to deal with characters whose purpose is poorly translated. While keeping my focus on making sure the voices of these characters were definitive and believable with their personality, I thought more critically about the development of side characters.

To The Writer Ashamed of Resting

It doesn’t matter how old you are, fellow writer. You are in charge of your life and one of the ways you take charge is through writing, self-expression, analysis, arguments, or storytelling. You are the one who decided that writing is an essential part of your lifestyle, so why aren’t you living in a way to ensure that writing remains a priority? Beating yourself up over a rest day during an entire week of work is preventing you from living like a writer. Like I said, you’re in charge, so when you decide to overwork yourself, you’re also deciding to sabotage yourself. You do this because you’re ashamed, afraid, and guilty, but I want you to remember that when you’re in those flow moments, where you’re just inspired to write and the words just come, that is when you’re dignified, fearless, creating without regret.

Character Design and Conspiracy

I was talking with a friend the other day about needing to watch more or read more crime and mystery pieces and study how the “clues” lead the audience and the characters from one thing to another. I know my novel has a lot of conspiracy innuendo, but conspiracy can be really obvious real quick. We’re used to seeing a government organization, a religious organization, a secret organization, or an academic organization have players scheming in the shadows or plotting in broad daylight. Though obvious, I think the intrigue maintains itself if the end goal of the conspiracy isn’t so obvious and who immediately comes to mind is Lovecraft.