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Sunday, May 25, 2014

Fanfiction Notes: A Song for a Starlight Miracle

One of the things that dropped off the radar last year when my interest in blogging waned was the announcement that I actually do have a complete (albeit very short) piece of creative writing posted on the Internet: one of my fanfiction pieces, set in the web novel City of Angles. It's called A Song for a Starlight Miracle. In addition to using my blog to announce that, I was going to post author's notes, so that I could explain how I came up with the story, what I liked about it, and what I didn't.

I briefly considered trying to write those author's notes now that I'm back, but with a year's separation in between me and writing that story, I didn't think I remembered enough about the writing process to capture everything I'd wanted to. Then I found a file on my hard drive... I'd thought that I hadn't written anything since there wasn't anything in my draft post list, but apparently I did. I touched it up a bit to reflect the time that's passed between when it was written and now, but it really didn't need that much editing. So:

First off, a couple quick acknowledgements for the songs I quoted in the story (all of them are real songs, but all of them are also originally in Japanese; I’m fairly certain I didn’t screw up too badly but I can’t vouch 100% for the accuracy of my translations)
Kimi no Shiranai Monogatari (anime: Bakemonogatari, artist: supercell)
Kitto Koi wo Shite'iru (anime: Dog Days. artist: Yui Horie)
Philosophyz (game: Rewrite, artist: Runa Mizutani)
Shinkai Shoujo (Vocaloids, artist: yuuyu )
Hidamari Basket (game: Hidamari Basket, artist: Yoshino Nanjo)
telepath ~hikari no tou~ (movie: A Certain Magical Index, artist: Sachika Misawa)
With that said. The rest can be read now or after you read the story, depending on whether you want to see the story or my thoughts about it first. Also, there will be unmarked spoilers for details from chapters of City of Angles through //008: Heart of the City below, so you might want to read that first if you care about spoilers.

The plot is heavily inspired by the old computer game Planetarian – a kinetic novel created by the Japanese game company Key. Essentially, I took the plot of that game – repairing a damaged projector in a planetarium – and put it in the dream world of the City of Angles, where what was a metaphor for the change in the main character can have a very strong impact on the world. Not that I really needed to give that particular metaphor more strength… I just wanted to play a little with the notion of a world so strongly affected by the thoughts of its inhabitants.

Of course, my main character has her own major change, and where my story differs from that inspiration is that I spend much more time than Planetarian did describing how my character specifically got to the point where she needed a positive change. (Planetarian did describe the apocalypse that makes it a post-apocalyptic game in some detail, but spends little time on the Junker’s personal history.)

I’m not quite sure why I started using songs as a framing device for all of this and/or how well it works. Mostly, I wanted to write a music-based story – and to capture and pass along the emotions that some of my favorite songs make me feel. Which isn’t always happy, obviously, but there it is. (For that matter, I may have misrepresented some of them – I don’t actually know the plot of Bakemonogatari or the themes of Kimi no Shiranai Monogatari that well. I know I partly misrepresented Philosophyz; that’s part of the reason why I skipped some parts of it.) In the end, I’m not sure if trying to get an insert song (or songs) of sorts into a written story really works all that well. And in my case, since I was trying to fit a new story to established music, I had to adjust my own plot to compensate. (Not that I necessarily mind that.)

Also, a note on point of view: The third person POV is something which just sort of happened; it’s the POV I’m most comfortable writing, so I never really even considered trying anything else. It may make my descriptions of Melody’s feelings a little more awkward, but I think it still works anyway.

On that note, I’m actually fairly proud of Melody’s character. I think it turned out… about like an average teenager, perhaps, but with enough edges to put her a little past your typical teenage angst. I certainly hope it turned out that way, since that’s what I was aiming for. I’m not sure if I really managed the grief and loss in part three that well, but... I guess I have no choice but to trust the judgment of the people I had review it.

As usual when I start trying fanfic, I’m not sure about how well I use previously established characters. My representations of Bedlam, Echo, and Lucid are fairly one dimensional… which may be fine, given that their role in the story is to represent the choice that Melody goes through (and is fairly brief, as well), but I’m still not sure if I really should demote them like that. It certainly doesn’t make sense as I look back a year later; Bedlam and Echo now have much more characterization in the canon. (Although I suppose I can always say that my story is set before Penelope’s involvement forced them to change and grow.)

Of course, I kind of wish I could bring myself to read the story again. I went back to look at it in preparation to edit/publish this, but somehow I felt too embarrassed to read it. Not quite sure why.


  1. The 'songfic' aspect of it wasn't the strongest point (I don't know the songs in question, myself) but I don't think it takes away from the strength of the overall story. I was outright floored by the idea that the stars in the City were 'broken' in this way, and fascinated by the 'fix' for them and how it connects back to the nature of the City.

    I actually tried to think of ways to make this canon within the stories themselves, as a side mention or something similar, but I think the impact of the change in the sky would be too great to be a small plot point. Still, it's safe to assume this happens sometime before the first book.

  2. Thanks!

    I think it'll be a while before I try to do another songfic, if ever. It was worth trying but I don't like that part of it enough to feel like trying again.