Author has written 6 stories for Spyro the Dragon, and Pokémon.
Hi, I'm Darkness Oversoul, or DO for short, and before you lose time out of your life reading my profile, I think I can sum up my entire life for you in one simple badly-punctuated sentence:
I heart drama.
Don't look at me! ಠ_ಠ
July 15, 2015
I don't know if I'll ever be right again... college isn't supposed to be like this... life isn't supposed to be like this... I shouldn't only be able to write my stories after I've become too tired to deeply focus on anything and therefore be unable to focus on the depression that steals my attention every waking moment. I miss the days when I could focus on other things, things that I actually enjoyed. =(
Well, my story building skills are pretty terrible... but I do know a thing or two about the actual writing process.
So... who am I... well what I wanna know, is who is this "I" you speak of? They sure seem important if you want to know about them, because they sure couldn't be me! XD
Well, to start out, I won't tell you my name... some of you already know it though. It starts with a J, and it's not too hard to guess, it is a common name, and one could guess it if they truly wanted to. I don't like being addressed by my name though, kind of ruins the whole "anonymity" thing about the internet. Sooo other than that, I'm currently 19 in body, 22 in mind, and 8 in heart =) I am American, of the female species and hail from the beautiful smoky mountains of the southeast. I was born and raised on bluegrass and classical piano music, and I hope to finish with a degree in human trafficking when I graduate college. Argh, psychology! Not human trafficking!
So one day, someone asked me what my passion is, and I responded to them: Music is my passion, writing is my obsession. It's a pretty funny story. Back in the good old days of 04 when you could still pack the family bikes onto the back of the old Chevy and go on cycling road trips without worrying about making ends meet, my dad used to play in a small folk/bluegrass band. One of the members was a classically trained violist, and I guess I was fascinated by the instrument because I had never seen one before, and before I knew it, I had a tiny 3/4s size viola in my hands, and was taking private lessons from the band's violist. At first, I didn't even know that the instrument was called a viola (I thought it was a fiddle) and it wasn't until three years and two instrument upgrades later when I joined the middle school orchestra that I learned that I wasn't playing a fiddle, and was indeed playing a viola.
I felt kind of gypped that I had been learning to play a "fake" fiddle (as I had called it at the time XD). I grew really bored with the low supportive parts that the viola section got in the songs we played during the first year, so I switched to violin for the second one. It was quite the summer, getting used to a new clef in time for school to start, but I already had the technique (since violin and viola are almost identical, the viola just has a low C-string instead of a high E-string), so I picked it up fast.I stayed on violin through the second and third years of middle school, but when I got to high school, I switched back to viola, occasionally auditioning for various honors orchestras as a violin player, but primarily as a violist. My viola's name is Sir Chester, and my violin's name is Sir Robinson by the way ;)
I always say that I didn't get into writing fanfiction, I got into Spyro. This grave story starts at my beginning. When my family got a gamecube for my little brother to play back in 04 (I miss that year :'( ), Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly was among them. My parents asked me to play along with my brother in the games so that he would have someone to play with, and I found them really fun, occasionally playing by myself. I must say that Enter the Dragonfly was not a standout game among our collection: it was just a mediocre game that we happened to own and play from time to time, eventually losing it and never seeing it again. I didn't really consider it a significant loss: I had drifted away from the game, and for about six years, Spyro was among the least common things on my mind. For a while, the purple dragon just... disappeared from my life altogether. It wasn't until late 2010 that the purple dragon resurfaced in my mind.
I can't recall when exactly, but at some point during that year, I had seen the cover for The Legend of Spyro: The Eternal Night in stores. I didn't think much of it, if anything "Huh, Spyro, haven't heard of him in a while" but that was about it. That was about the time that I began to receive visits in the night: very distinctive dreams. There was something mystically beautiful about these dreams: Spyro was in them, and there was some kind of suggestion of a plot, but there was something so just... breathtaking about this dragon living and breathing in his world. On a whim, I included "A Spyro game for the Wii" on my Christmas list that year, and lo and behold, what do I find under the tree on Christmas morning? The Legend of Spyro: Dawn of The Dragon.
I didn't play the game right away, it was a far too personal experience for me to just execute in front of other people, especially my family (who I see every day). Since we traveled to my grandmother's house for the Christmas, I didn't have time to play the game, but I brought it along with me and looked at the cover during the car ride amidst listening to Beethoven and texting. I saw Spyro, but I also noticed another dragon, this one seeming darker and edgier than Spyro. At first, I thought it might be Spyro's little brother (Yes, I thought Cynder was a boy XD) and I also noticed that Spyro seemed older than in the past games (it hadn't occurred to me that this was a separate series from Enter the Dragonfly altogether).
So our Christmas day party went very nicely, and we stayed down at my grandmother's for a couple of days. On the last day when we drove back, we arrived early in the evening, around 7, and I put my plan in motion. I went to bed early, and took out my "night exploration kit" that, among other things, contained a small digital alarm clock, which I set to go off at midnight. Well, I fell asleep with it next to my ear, and sure enough, I woke up right at midnight, the rest of my family fortunately asleep. Sneaking as quietly as I could downstairs, I opened the seal on the LoS: Dawn of the Dragon game disc, put it in the Wii, turned the sound really low, and prepared my Wii remote.
I was really impressed with what I got: the soundtrack was lush, the graphics were highly detailed, and the intro was very cinematic with the hawk flying overhead and Ignitus's narration. I immediately got sucked in, and at first was a little lost as to what was happening in the plot. I saw the grublins break Spyro out of the crystal, and then I heard Cynder's voice, and realized that she was a girl. Well, I played through the first few scenes, through the catacombs, the enchanted forest, and all the way up to the Valley of Avalar, where I got completely lost and had to stop around 3 in the morning. It was a slightly frustrating gameplay experience, but that didn't matter to me. The cinematics, the feel of the game pulled me in, and something grew in my heart. (as a point of interest, this profoundly influenced how I perceive and write fiction today)
I repeated this for every night through that week, setting my alarm clock for midnight, playing Dawn of the Dragon, stopping at 3 AM, all by myself with no one else to take my attention away from the game, and before I knew it, a few nights later, I was at the floating islands. I played through the level, eventually reaching Malefor. At first I was like "What? The game is this short?" but by the time I got to the scene in the core of the Earth, it didn't really matter... I had completely broken down. A powerful wave of emotion flooded through my heart, stronger than any other I had felt before. The closest thing I had felt in equivalence was the feeling that I got from my first (and only to date, for a VERY good reason) boyfriend who I was seeing at the time.
I grew haunted, obsessed even. The whole prospect of Spyro having (what I thought of at the time) a mate was so... wonderful. For the days that followed, I could think of nothing else. I became quiet and distant, not really remembering much from my winter break after that. It was like I was in a true daydream that I was unable to escape or stop thinking about... and I didn't want to. Even when the thought burned out in my mind, I desperately clung onto it, thinking about it as much as I could but eventually, my mind, as a defense mechanism, forced me to stop. For the next week when school was back in, I would search relentlessly for something to satisfy my thoughts: Googling about Spyro, Cynder, and the Legend saga. It wasn't long before I had found fanfiction.net's Spyro section. It was then that I very conveniently came down with the flu, and got out of school for a full week.
Thankful for the extra time on my hands, I started reading stories in the section. I did read quite a few fanfics over the next several weeks, but the major ones were Kendell's A New Dawn, marinus18's The Legend of the Black Dragon, and Riverstyxx's Tears of an Oracle. I loved these stories, and as time went on, I inevitably wanted to create a story of my own. It was right after school let out freshman year that the darkest time period of my life began: Summer of 2011. Anything that could've gone wrong went wrong that year: money was tight, we couldn't go anywhere for vacation, family deaths happened almost every other week, a heatwave had hit our town, the power went out a lot, homeless people were dying out in the dangerously high temperatures, yet there I was, in my own little world, completely happy. I had a boyfriend and an endless supply of fanfiction to keep myself entertained and sedated from the chaos that was happening around me.
In a way, I think that my first story that I ever wrote: The Legend of Purple and Black was a perfect manifestation of the detachment, emotional bliss and unawareness that I was going through at the time. My beta reader, Lithos Maitreya kept pointing out the melodrama and out-of-characterness that was prevalent throughout the story, as well as the bubbly overblown nature of the romance, but I paid my beta reader no heed. The ticking time-bomb that was real life just didn't matter to me. Nothing could infiltrate the bubble of Elysium that I had encased myself in... and before I knew what was happening, right at the end of the summer, I found my boyfriend with another girl over at his house when I was coming over for an impromptu visit telling me that I was dumped.
I couldn't believe it. This didn't happen to people. This was what you might see in a nightmare or a really bad drama movie, not in real life. After he shut the door, I just stood on his front porch, baking in the heat as I silently cried. At first, I thought it was over a broken heart... but now that I look back on it, I wasn't sad over losing him, (we were kind of drifting apart to begin with) I cried because for the first time that summer, I realized how hot it was outside. I realized that my great grandma had passed away, and uncle Jerry had succumbed to leukemia. I realized that the economy was failing, and we were eating peanut butter and bread sandwiches every day just to make ends meet. It was that sudden rush of reality that My Heart Must Go On was born, and after a while, the reason I deleted The Legend of Purple and Black. Once I had gotten myself back together, I went back home that day and cleaned my house until there wasn't a single extraneous object sitting out, and everything was in its right place. The last few days of summer of 2011 were spent in a quiet and regretful reflection.
So that's my story. Lol, I didn't intend for it to turn into such an autobiography, but, that's essentially how I became a writer.
Despite the humble happiness I've found in this life, I don't fear death. I welcome it, but not necessarily the means to acquire it. (I do fear the act of dying itself. Such is innate for mortal creatures like humans) but something in the back of my mind gives me assurance that we do go on after we die. I have 100% faith in this. The very essence of the world I hope to visit in death can be heard in these two instrumentals:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M6sz9f3HKjQ ('till about 1 minute in where it just becomes morbid)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CkBMCPzZne0 (All the way)
I'm very romantic in my beliefs. Not romance itself, but rather emotion. 19th century romanticism. Our emotions are what make us human, and our art is a manifestation of this. This is why I love Romantic period classical music. Some of the greatest and most emotional/loving/tear inducing human achievements I've ever heard come from that time period, specifically from the works of Beethoven and Tchaikovsky, but my motto is that music and human art is meant to be enjoyed, not analyzed. We as authors are entertainers, so let's try to keep it that way :)
Ah, probably best not to get me started on music... I could go on for hours about it, but I guess I'll just stick with the bare basics XP
I don't restrict myself to one specific genre, I just kind of like anything catchy. To name more than a few: Kate Nash, Vanessa Carlton, Fleetwood Mac, The Beatles, Lana Del Rey, Enya, Bjork, Ellie Goulding, Kanye West, Linkin Park, Arcade Fire, Neutral Milk Hotel, Avril Lavigne (Childhood Favorite), Ashlee Simpson, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Green Day, Sum 41 Paramore, My Chemical Romance, Evanescence, Coldplay, The All-American Rejects, Wicked, Avenue Q, Les Miserables, Franz Liszt, Tchaikovsky, Beethoven, Chopin, Michelle Branch, Ingrid Michaelson, and Cee Lo Green.
I know that this is mostly "mainstream" but my philosophy is: if you find music you like, listen to it. The whole elitism aspect in the music society is really tragic. I love music very very very much. It's an important part of me, and seeing others turn it into a cold and cut-throat sport just makes it not fun at all anymore... and that kind of defeats the purpose of music itself... so I make it a point to bring expression and cheer whenever I get directly involved with the production of music in an attempt to make the atmosphere joyful, warm, and welcoming for everyone! =D
The golden way to get better at writing? Not "practice" necessarily but rather reflection or contemplation. The best way to do this is to read stories, but not just any stories, only read the best. What makes a story "The Best?" Well, that comes from you. If you find yourself almost passionate about a story, like how we all were by the time we got to the end of Dawn of The Dragon, then you know your good. While reading a story, constantly ask yourself "What makes this good?" Really look into the deeper aspects of the story structure itself to find your own personal examples to this question, and once you find those, just roll with it =)
My personal examples of this are Dark Legacy by Dardarax, (which I am a proud cult-follower of
For a few more direct tips:
-Try to do longer chapters, about 3000-10,000 words in length (but this is purely marginal. It's okay to go over a little bit).
-Come up with some kind of main plot figured out in your head before you start writing.
-Always look to yourself and your personal good judgement when you find yourself in question of what to do. In other words, proof-read
-Engage the reader with your characters. Easier said than done, but at the very least, develop your characters individually. (This is done by involving them in scenes that really "show their colors" in terms of their personality.)
Also, never add too many characters at one time, and when you do add them, make sure that they aren't instantly forgettable.
Most importantly as far as characters go, make them likeable. One of my favorite ways to do this is...
-Use immaturity and stupidity to your advantage. Sound weird? I thought so! XP What I mean is having characters knowingly do the wrong thing in the name of love. Not necessarily romance, although this does work well in romance if you want to try it, but rather devotion and compassion towards others, especially friends that are the age of the character themselves.
-ALWAYS take advice in moderation. Never be extreme or do too much of anything that someone reccommends for you to do. Especially with specific examples
-Another thing that writers tell you to do is "show, don't tell." I personally disagree with this slightly. My philosophy is more of "show and tell" so that the writer both knows what's happening and experiences it at the same time, but use good judgement when doing so.
-The most important tip of all is to acquire a sense of what's good or bad in a story. This is done by opinion-based critical reading. None of that looking for "Author's purpose" or "Climax of The Story" BS, but rather reading a story, and constantly asking yourself "Did I like this story, and why did I like it?"
-Stemming from this concept, when writing parts of your story that involve your characters, use your judgement that you WILL ACQUIRE OVER TIME from reading stories that you like to try to keep your characters realistic, in character, and (when writing fanfiction) as close to the factual correctness of the original work as possible
-The other most important tip is to never give up. Never look at yourself not measuring up to a certain criteria as a defeat, look at it as a lesson, and ask yourself "What do I need to do at the moment to meet or exceed said criteria?"
Once you adopt that mentality,
And remember, anyone can write. Don't let things like a mental handicap or low self-esteem hold you down. The reason that anyone can write is because we as humans are naturally hard-wired to create. Our ancestors' very survival depended on this ability: we evolutionarily needed to be innovative so that we would be able to come up with or "create" solutions to complex problems such as obtaining food and maintaining a family. Dating back to the Cro-Magnons who perfected this, our DNA has stayed virtually the same all the way through.
Don't let yourself believe for a second that you're not up-to-par in mind with the rest of us. We all have the ability to succeed. The only difference between those who succeed and those who fail is that those who succeeded never gave up. Never let yourself fall into that trap. You're built for success. It's in your very genes ;)
Every person is psychologically different, and the way their mind works projects itself in their writing. Of course, since humans tend to be like each other, certain patterns appear in writers. Every author has a main attribute, each with a different standout ability. This attribute comes naturally to us, and is often most pronounced in our earliest writing. Of course, we naturally get better at writing, and all of these skills are honed as we go along, but in the end everyone has one strength in an area in writing that far outshines all of their others. It's good to identify which kind of writer you are so you can focus on developing that specific skill because in the end, your greatest skill is what people are reading your stories to see in action ;)
The Action Seeker
This person thrives on exactly what the name implies: action scenes, scenes where things are happening. They find it natural to tell what the characters are doing at any given moment. These people are masters of suspense, and as they get better, their suspenseful endeavors become more elaborate and emotionally wracking. These people are good at writing darker fiction. Author examples: Tallonran
The Character Puppeteer
These people are gifted with keen intuition on creating vivid characters that act very naturally and lovably in their respective story. Master puppeteers can cause the reader to completely lose awareness of themleves, walking with the characters in the story, and feeling every emotion and experience that the characters feel. This is a useful author attribute, because it can cause the reader to experience vivid emotions. These people are ideal at writing dramatic fiction, often with lots of emotional turns. Author examples: Dardarax, Unit Omicron
The Sensory Empath
These people are all about vibe: creating feelings within their stories that truly play through in the mind of the reader. These people find it natural to paint the world in their stories, which are often rife with depiction of scenery, character interaction with environment, and inventiveness of the culture of the world in their stories. A good Sensory Empath can, at will, conjure up scenes that not only play vividly in the mind of the reader and also control the vibe and feel that these scenes possess. A good practice for this technique is imagining a visual image, and then "translating it" into a string of words that produce the same image in your mind. These people are ideal at writing fantasy and world stories (world meaning stories with a particular setting in mind such as an Arabian village or a Medieval setting). Author examples: Me =) Kendell
The Plot Weaver
The plot weaver is all about plot-craft, carefully plotting out the main path their story will take, often with many twists and turns and surprises along the way. A good plot weaver keeps the reader on their toes with a constant sense of forward motion and plenty of rewarding payoffs for the main characters' sacrifices. These people are good at writing mystery as well as adventure stories. Author examples:
The Variety Performer
A variety performer can be thought of as someone who has mastered all of the above main areas in writing, and their writing contains a healthy mix of all of these characteristics, each discretely displayed at different times in their story. A good variety performer simply has substance in their stories, and lots of it. Very well-written plot, vibrant imagery, charming characters, and plenty of suspense. These people can make anything work for them, and could technically write any kind of story. Author examples: Riverstyxx
If you have any other author types that you think should be on here, tell me if you would =)
Exploration on advanced "truly good" writing.
Reading is a subjective experience in that it's unique to the reader, and any statement of what makes a piece of writing good or bad from a general perspective would be just inaccurate... right? However, there is one thing that makes humans special in this case: we all think very similarly to one another with some minor differences, and if the general public agrees that something is good/high quality, then the creator of that something can be pretty sure that whatever they made is good, right?
Reading fiction is like dreaming in that it's partaking in a reality separate from the one we all call "real life." A good dream is where something good happens right? And a bad one is where something bad happens, couldn't you agree? Of course, good and bad in that sense are simply referring to the emotions that you, as the protagonist of your dream feels. If we wanted to think of dreams as good quality or not, I would argue that vividness is the most important aspect. How much you really "experienced" the dream and felt all of the emotions inside of it.
In literature, this phenomena of experiencing the feelings of what's happening in a book is known psychologically as "experience taking." Using my dream model that I mentioned earlier, we can boil the quality of a book down to how much the reader "experience took" while reading it. How does one make the reader "experience take" in their novel? Well, you could just stick to general elaboration/storytelling, since that's all storytelling is: the expansion or elaboration of a summary of what happens. Take "Little Red Riding Hood" for example. I could sum up the entire story (albiet, quite inaccurately) in the following sentence:
"A little girl dressed in red travels through the woods to meet her grandma, but when she finally arrives at her grandma's house, she finds out that her grandma was eaten by a wolf."
Yeah, so that happened, and all is good... but that's not actually what happened. What you just saw was someone's account of what happened. If you wanted to know what really happened, you would have to be there observing it at the same elaboration level as reality itself. No, not even true reality, a human's perspective of reality. This here is the key. If you want to create an imaginary scenario, you have to play it like human reality.
So you write your little book at the human elaboration level, and it's perfect, everything's elaborated at the human reality level, and it's all believable, except that there's one problem: people don't care about what happens in your book! How do you fix that? Write what people care about. What do people care about? Themselves! This may sound kind of weird, but it's a consistent pattern in every book that YOU personally have ever read and enjoyed. You felt empathy for something in the story. Regrettably, this is what people mean when they say to make your characters "relatable." Many people misinterpret "relatable" to mean "like the reader" but it actually means something a bit more in depth: "emotions that the reader has felt before and/or understands." If you can tie this familiarity into stories all in a realistic medium, that is all you need to have a good story.
The sad truth is that things like interesting villains, original ideas, perfect grammar, and having a plot altogether (LOL) don't even matter. It's all in your characters and their emotions and experiences creating emotions that the reader understands/relates to. Now, having these embellishments in a story is nice, it can "fool" readers into thinking that your story is good by looking pretty, but unless the reader is actively feeling empathy for characters in your story, understanding what's going on in the story, and feeling the effect of every (or at least nearly every) experience your characters go through, your story will be, for lack of a nicer word, bad.
Funfact: having a story that bombs everything but the oh-so-important experience taking is called an "ugly story." These are both loved and despised in the critical community, and I happen to belong to the group that loves these kinds of stories. I personally think they're genius. If you want a few examples, take the Twilight saga by Stephanie Meyer, or Give Into the Night, a Spyro fanfiction by Given Inside. So many flaws are present in these stories that I consider creating a successful ugly story an art form altogether.
Ugly stories also have an inverse: "pretty stories." These are stories that manage to get everything right EXCEPT for the experience taking. It's hard to find examples of these without looking like a jerk, so I'll field the answer from you, the reader ;). Have you ever read a story that makes you think "gosh, this is so good and well-written," but in the end, you didn't feel a single other emotion from the story other than that? Main character die and you didn't even feel sad? Other character reunites with their long lost parent (okay, that would make anyone happy, bad example XD) but anyway, you get it.
There's also mixed stories that don't lean too much in the direction of either "ugly" or "pretty" (if you think about it, every story is a mix in some parts) or have the best elements of both kinds of story. These stories are undeniably good. "Dark Legacy" (which I keep mentioning a bajillion times) is somewhat of an example of a mixed story (although it leans noticeably on the ugly side, which not a bad thing, remember that!). The opposite of a good mixed story, is a story that has no redeeming qualities about it and is undeniably bad. Look in the Pokemon section if you need a few dozen examples X)
Then there's novelty stories, which are by far the most fun kind. These stories have such a strong singularly significant quality about them that they become classics, even if their quality is bad writing itself. Just look at "My Immortal," the illeged "worst fanfic ever written" for a wonderful example. Crack fics are a cheap way to make a novelty story, and are doable... if you have the insanity and creativity to actually come up with a good one! My own story, "The Legend of Jewel..." is a crack fic, but I'll let you guys be the judge of whether it's good or not, because remember: the only true opinion is your own!
To All Beta Readers:
The best way to beta read, and the essential core of beta-reading in general is to read someone's story, and as you go along, make annotations or comments detailing what you thought about parts you read. Make sure to emphasize on how you felt throughout the story, and when you find that you're not feeling emotionally engaged, or the emotional engagement gets weak, SAY SOMETHING! Engaging the hearts of the reader is the most important thing a writer can do. It keeps the reader reading. Only mention little nit-picky flaws in the story if they significantly disrupt emotional engagement.
Darkness Oversoul's favorite writing conventions: a rapid-fire list
-The circle of friends - group of main characters that interact with each other. Very good way to show off character's individual personalities.
-True art is angsty - making terrible things happen to my characters *evilness* >:) Helps make the reader feel empathy for characters the story
-The moving box in the front room - Imagery involves the contents of an area, and having a character interact with their environment is a great way to develop the image of the area in the mind of the reader
-Dragon in a Dragon World - essentially "Spyrofying" the story, and putting it in the context of the dragon world. Essentially, getting inventive with how dragons do things differently than humans do in some cases.
-Humor/use of laughter/happy times - The inverse of true art is angsty. Still helps establish empathy like its sister convention
-Extended suspense - suspense over a long period of time REALLY helps keep people glued to reading your story. Suspense is uncertainty over the outcome of something significant: e.g. it could go really bad/really good
-Dramatic Irony - Oh, I love this one. You'll be seeing it a lot in Uncharted ;). It's essentially where the audience knows something that the characters do not... often right when they're walking into a trap
-Main characters can get hurt - essentially not just making fights one-sided, also commonly giving characters significant injuries that cause problems for them later/in the long term.
-Chinese water torture - don't be afraid to make some really freaky things happen to your characters. Why not have them get kidnapped and tortured, injected with a virus that infects/torments them for life, made infertile. Something that really bothers the reader. Just be careful not to be TOO graphic, otherwise you might cause squick (where a reader grows disgusted with a story and stops reading.)
And most fundamental rule about narratives is (!!!):
Empathy is not shared in direct experiences. It's shared in emotions, the direct feeling of being in those experiences. Good stories evoke these emotions. Bad stories do not.