Tag Archives: Progress

The Intensity Of Head-Space

Today is Star Wars Day, so of course I have to write about it. There’s so much I could write about. Realistically, it’s an absolutely amazing story. It has so much longevity, and as far as I know, it’s the closest we’ve got to a parallel universe. What I mean by that is, for one thing, it exists in several genres. Regardless of the quality, one can read, watch, and play Star Wars. This has been true since the very beginning. The universe exploded with A New Hope, and it’s still expanding. What is also significant is that is the amount of contributions from fans. The people who love this story shape what happens in its future and in the parts of the galaxy we wouldn’t otherwise see.

The latest RPG I’ve been a part of is a Star Wars rendition of Dark Heresy. We decided to go this route because we understood and cared about that universe. The time period our game takes place in is the height of the Empire (between Revenge of the Sith, and A New Hope), far away from where the “main story” is taking place. Before this, I had been part of two Dungeons and Dragons campaigns. I hastily threw together my characters, not thinking too much about who they really were, what they cared about, or where they came from. This time I took time.

My character’s name is Sky Turin. Before becoming a Jedi padawan she lived with her father on the lowest level of a planet similar to Coruscant, though this was not where she was originally from. Her parents were from the Sky, which was the wealthiest part of the planet. Think of Cloud City. The Surface, where she lived for most of her early life was the poorest. Her parents were what would probably be the Star Wars version of missionaries, working to empower the poorest people on the planet. When Sky was nineteen she rescued a Jedi, not much older than herself, who crash-landed in her neighborhood while in pursuit of a Dark Jedi. Dark Jedi, if you don’t know, were force-users who were not directly allied with the Jedi or the Sith. They generally minded their own business, but the few Jedi who remained after the Empire took most of them out pursued them, either to bring them over to their side or detain them if they could.

While Sky was helping Val escape, Val discovered that Sky could use the Force, though she didn’t know what she was doing at the time. Sky went with Val to the remaining Jedi–none of them officially masters–and was permitted to learn the Force and become a Jedi herself, as the Jedi were desperate for recruits. After some preliminary training with a light saber, Sky and Val went to a planet similar to Earth to investigate a possible meeting of Dark Jedi in a mountainous area, similar to the Rocky Mountains. While they were there they were ambushed and captured. Their captivity didn’t last long, however, because Val was extremely powerful with the Force. They were able to escape, but had to leave in separate ships. When Sky returned to the Jedi council, she discovered that Val had not returned. The council would not permit her to look for Val, so she left and began searching against their will. This is where I entered our campaign. While I don’t know the specifics of where the story is going, I do know that Sky is assertive, hates the Dark Jedi, hates the Empire, and mistrusts the Jedi themselves. She has been taught that the Dark Side is evil, and will lead to her own destruction, but she’s so obsessed with finding Val that she will most likely not always stick to the Code entirely. She’s also impulsive and will probably make some stupid decisions.

I considered writing Sky’s story in full detail. In fact, I tried, but she’s too distant from me, for lack of a better way to say it. Ironically, I think I have trouble creating a story in an already existent universe. My novel takes place in a future version of the U.S., but almost everything about that world is my own. It feels awkward to me to write about a universe that someone else made, even if I’m inventing most of the details of a story that is otherwise original. It feels weird to talk about the Force and the Empire and the Jedi as if they were my own. It feels invasive in a way, like I’m invading someone else’s creative space. At the same time, the Star Wars universe has always seemed very inviting when it comes to original ideas. I think what this ultimately comes back to is that I’m much better at coming up with characters than I am at coming up with plot. I’m great at writing their past, but when it comes to writing their present, I often get stuck.

I’ve written two hundred pages of my novel thus far, and I’m about fifty pages into Part 2. Part 1 was a lot easier to write. So far I’ve had to write two battle scenes. I think they were both okay, but they both need work. I have trouble with timing and intensity. Right now I’m working on a captivity situation. I have to deal with the head-space of a character who has just been captured and is about to be interrogated by an evil government. This kind of scene is slower, but I think, just as intense, and I’m much better at writing this kind of thing. I think Star Wars is a very action-oriented story, and maybe this is why I have trouble writing in that universe.

One of the greatest stories I’ve ever read is Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky. Most of that story takes place in dialogue and internal thoughts, which one might assume would be boring, but it’s anything but. Solitude, in particular, can make for some seriously intense character and plot development. Head-space, while mostly metaphorical, is still space, and in that space, anything can happen. In that space, a character can go insane or overcome impossible odds. A person’s psychology makes them who they are, and plot can’t exist without characters. A world without people in it doesn’t matter.

I’ve seen some great and some terrible post-apocalyptic movies. I’ve noticed two things regarding these, and regarding my story. First, the movies that are good have more people in them. It’s hard for a story to maintain its momentum when no one is around to keep things going. Second, what I’ve noticed, and sometimes want to smack myself for, is that I keep creating more characters. My story takes place over a very large area–basically the entire United States. I’ve noticed that the space in which a story takes place tends to correspond with the number of characters that are needed to keep the story going. Sometimes great movies or great stories take place in one house, or even one room. Sometimes there are only two or three characters involved, and these stories can be great. Some of the most intense scenes in my story are conversations or even internal monologues.

Interestingly, in the case of Star Wars, we really don’t get to see too much of the characters’ head-space, at least not directly. Their personalities come out in how they react and adapt to various situations. This is clearly effective because we know and love characters like R2D2 and Chewbacca, who never even speak a word of English. However, I think to get to know characters in this way, there needs to be constant action. There isn’t a lot of time, or even good reason to slow down. Finding a happy medium is definitely difficult. I think the few exceptions are the exchanges between Luke and Vader in Return of the Jedi, but even these are short and almost invariably turn into light saber fights. The thing about dialogue is that it has to be executed well. There are far more longer exchanges in The Phantom Menace-Revenge of the Sith, but they’re often not well written. They’re either boring or cheesey. If there had been less talk and more action, I think they would have been better movies.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

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Today And Tonight

This morning I went to the studio to work on “Missing You.” I played djembe on this one, which was pretty cool. As of right now it has acoustic and lead guitar and percussion (djembe and shaker) on it. Next time we might actually finish it up depending on how long bass takes. I don’t think vocals will take too long unless I decide I want harmony.

Earlier this afternoon Ken’s friend called me to ask some questions about how long a set I could play, etc. He said he was going to shoot me an email with some more specific questions. I gave him the link to my blog and my soundcloud, so I guess he’s going to check that stuff out first and get back to me. I told him I could comfortably play an hour to an hour and a half set. That might actually be pushing it, but I can get a few more songs written between now and the date of the show. 🙂

Tonight is The Sad Cafe shindig. I’m planning on playing around 5 songs; 3 electric and 2 acoustic. It’s going to end on a super mellow note. All 5 are already recorded and are just waiting for their baby brothers and sisters to be done!

Here’s my set:

You Answered
Stuck In My Head
Nostalgia
Understand
Passenger

Album Cover Part 7: The Decision & General Update

Well guys, I posted the version of my latest album cover idea with the larger circle in the middle on Facebook  and a bunch of people gave me some super positive feedback, so I think I’m going to go with it. Ladies and gentlemen,  Replace My Empty Spaces has an official cover.

School has kept me absurdly busy, but I sent another message to the Sad Cafe because they were looking for people to play this summer. Hopefully I’ll hear back on that soon. I’m finally getting back to the studio on the 17th to work on “Missing You” (song #7 out of 10). My dad’s been working with Kue, my old voice teacher so he can sing harmony on “Nostalgia.” My friend Nate should be home from college soon and I’m going to see if he can play strings or piano on a few things.

I still have to talk to Ken’s friend about getting a date for the CD release party but in the mean time I’m hoping to hit up a few open mics. I’ve written one new song that isn’t going to go on this album and I started another today. The first is about how I’m kind of crazy about not being cliche. I don’t quite know what my new one is about yet. I’ll probably have to leave it alone until school is over with.

So that’s that. It’s going slow, but I’m making progress. Things should go a little faster this summer.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly! 🙂

Album Cover Part 3: Prototype

Well guys, I finally found Paint.NET. Rather, my brother found it, and of course it was right there in front of me. It runs in the family– my dad can never find the ketchup in the fridge even if it’s staring right at him.

Anyway, These are my first attempts to create my idea for the album cover. I actually did them fairly quickly, so it’s really just the basic idea. I definitely like the blue better at the moment. I’m not sure if the dark background and the white light is too much of a contrast or what, but I’ll try and figure it out when I have more time. I think it just needs another element, but I’m not sure exactly what that would be. I’m still not sure how I would do the silhouette that I mentioned in an earlier post, but maybe I don’t need it.

RMES Cover V1

RMES Cover V2

RMES Cover V3

It’s a little hard to read in the pic, but the text says “Replace My Empty Spaces.”

Comments would be great!

Thanks, guys! ❤

I Will Play

Well, there was some interest in my last post, so I thought I’d give y’all an update. Today I spammed emails out to a few venues. I’m going to try and get the “feature” at a couple open mics. If that works out I’ll try and get my own gigs there. I know I will be playing at The Sad Cafe in Plaistow NH, but I’m waiting to hear back from them with the exact date. I also sent an email out to Cafe 939 in Boston. I’d say it’s pretty unlikely that I’ll get in there since I’ve never played a paying gig before, but I think I might have just enough experience for them to at least consider me. I’m shooting for Saturday June 8th. I also may or may not send something out to The Middle East in Cambridge. my Friend played there and I don’t recall if there was a feasible way to get a wheelchair on stage (that little detail should make gigging super fun). I’ll probably send something anyway. Life is an adventure!

I also had another excellent idea today. Once the CD is out I’m going to give 50% of sales to a charity (I have some ideas, I just haven’t picked one yet). I’m going to wait until I make my first hundred and start there. I seriously think this could go places. Prayers are appreciated. Wish me luck everybody!