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Topics - NO1SY

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General Manga writer discussions / Dune... confused me...
« on: March 30, 2021, 06:57:44 PM »

I have just finished the second book of Frank Herbert's "The Dune Sequence". The first book was a longer read (about 2 weeks of casual reading), while the second was a shorter book that I finished in an afternoon, and I have been left feeling a little upside down about my experience with them.

Published in 1965, Dune is one of the older Sci-Fi Fantasy stories that I have read, preceded in the genre basically by Tolkien's, C. S. Lewis's, and H. P. Lovecraft's works in the genre, and I guess classics like Dracula, Frankenstein and Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde. There was definitely a aged feel to the work, but also a timelessness to it that has me hesitant to call it dated. I think this is mainly a contrast of the language and narrative choices, with the exemplory exploration of themes ([xeno]ecology, galactic (but familiar) politics, engineered religion and mysticism, philosophy and determinism) and wonderfully deep characters and worldbuilding.

The narrative style is what kind of bugged me the entire time. Initially, I thought that Dune was written in 3rd person Omniscient, which is a narrative perspective that has kind of fallen out of favour in the genre and my lack of exposure to it encourages me to lean towards other perspectives. However, I think I was wrong... I think that The Dune Sequence is written in 3rd person limited, but is constantly switching the narrative between perspective characters, in some instances as often as line by line. The effect felt annoying to me, or at least didn't sit right, and I think not for the reason I expected. Part of why I like 3rd person limited is that it retains that depth of character that you get from a 1st person narrative; seeing how the character interprets their experiences and the world, seeing the flaws or genius in their thinking; forming empathic links. This is fantastic when the focus in on one or a few characters. The expectation when you increase the number of characters the reader sees the story through is that the experience will be lessened or more shallow because the time share for each is stretched so thin; less opportunity to see the character manifest and develop, and to form those empathic bonds. The effect in Dune however, where every character is a perspective character, was, to me, almost the opposite: it was near overwhelming. I suppose this is a testament to how well realised almost each and every character is that they don't feel particularly shallow, but the constant character swapping felt a bit too much at times to the point of discomfort. It might be akin to sensory overload - just too much information from too many angles to effectively process (It also didn't help that the kindle edition of the SF Masterworks publication of the 1st book was edited so poorly that it was a challenge just to read the sentences on the page...).

While the characters remain fairly well realised, some really significant story beats feel almost glossed over... I don't know if the perspective swapping is to blame for this, or if this was a result of just narrative and pacing choices, but in certain instances there are events that really do not get their due in my opinion. That all said, and in stark contrast, there are some other moments in these books so far that are masterfully executed, ranging from beautiful and thrilling, to harrowing and hollowing. Moreover, the exerpts from in-universe sources that precede each chapter are absolutely wonderful; more engaging and immersive than even the multitude of tolkein-esque poems and songs that feature througout the story adding depth to characters and cultures (maybe a little too often though...). Writing all this out I'm beginning to see that Dune is a real dichotomy to me...

Moreover, now I can't even imagine if the book would be able to tell the same story to the same effect in a different narrative style. Would what could be gained from focusing on just a few character perspectives without switching so often outweigh what is lost in terms of a wider understanding of such an intense and grand narrative?

I was going to put the series down after Book 2, which seemed to end at a natural stopping point and considering my reservations about the books. But already I feel an inexplicable pull back to the series. Maybe it's the incredibly rich universe and grand narrative that Herbert has constructed, or maybe it's just my OCD not allowing me to leave a series such as this unfinished...

P.S. Really interested and cautiously excited to see how Denis Villeneuve pulls the first book off in film.

Hello everyone!

So I've recently been returning to some of my old writing projects in preparation for a Writers' Workshop, and let's just say that... well, a lot of it is pretty cringe... Not just from a conceptual standpoint, but on actual literary and language levels too...

So I wanted to begin a thread that, for one, outlines the real, practical things that I think have led to me becoming a much better writer since I initially posted those pieces back around 2014. This is not to say that I'm on a level with professional writers, or even editors and reviewers, but I still think that there is valuable information here.

I think I will focus on just one aspect at a time in my posts, and hopefully it will spark some useful discussion and bring other people in to share what has worked for them too. Although my recent endeavours have been much less graphic novel focused, I believe a lot of the points will still transfer across the related mediums. Maybe other members can help bridge that gap with their advice.

Manga Creations / MR War Arc: MR Sentai Revival!
« on: January 20, 2021, 07:56:32 PM »
Hello everybody!

I wanted my first post of 2021 to be a piece of writing, so here we go, continuing with some MR Canon side stories - this time about the revival of the Sentai. I promise that this will not be a long series.

Many thanks to Lego and Coryn for all the help in getting my head around all the Sentai related Canon, started by Litt all those years ago, so that I can build on it going forwards. I hope you all enjoy. :biggrin:


Deal with the Beast

The night was young but the sky was always dark in this part of the Net. It was the kind of place that, no matter the gait of one’s step, forced you to feel as though you were skulking. It was enough to make a man’s skin crawl. But Major Narcissus was not above such places. After all, he was a man of practicality, and sometimes it was practical to wade through the filth if it meant that you won in the end. Muck or no muck, he marched with perfect military precision, and if someone dared accuse him of skulking then he’d rip out their throat, because he was and it would not do to leave witnesses.
      The location was unassuming; a gaudy neon light show framing the large open doors, belching out the tumbling digital chimes of rolling slots. Specifically, this was the one-hundred and first best casino on the Net. Just competitive enough to draw in semi-noteworthy clientele, but not breaking into any “Top 100” lists. Just comfortable enough whilst still maintaining an air of sleaze. Cooking the odds and programming the dopamine just enough to look legitimate. They even went so far as to stage a pay-dispute class action lawsuit against themselves so as not to be left out among their peers. No doubt, their forward operating base in MangaRaiders City would be equally innocuous, easily escaping any notice by patrols. Major Narcissus was almost impressed. The average 4Kids acolyte, bless them, lacked the imagination required to see through an illusion so overtly on the nose as this.
      It was all a front of course. Whilst more successful casino sites were counting the pennies made from their high-rollers, the Clan were raking in the real credit through the one thing that really sells on the Net: Information. But, as much as Major Narcissus appreciated such a commodity (primarily in the form of the most convincing blackmail leverage or devastating military counter-intelligence), tonight he sought the Net-wide crime syndicate to procure the other thing that they were known for: Their army.
      Major Narcissus strode forth into the hazy warren of the gamblers’ den with purpose. It was designed, as any casino worth its salt, to always lead you to another machine or table if you took a turn away from the one you were at, to always point you inwards away from the exit, to swallow you up and feed you through a digestive tract for your wallet; but if you just walked straight… He stood at ease with his hands clasped behind his back as the concierge pressed the button to the elevator in the lobby at the back.
      An annoyingly pleasant jingle played as he ascended, first past the conference room floors, then past the general office floors, then into the many layers of hotel suites. There was nothing particularly discerning about the 18th floor; it was packed with perfectly serviceable suites just as any of the others were. Major Narcissus looked down to the small leaflet containing the room keycard he had been provided. It had “359” engraved in gold into the matte-black paper. He ambled through the plushly carpeted corridor, admiring the large, polished mirror framed ornately in real gold at the passage’s end, and running his fingers along the coarse quality of the chic wallpaper. The façade was so good because it was real, and the audacity of it he found marvelous. He toppled a perfectly arranged vase off of its stand, half hoping that it would be the thing to cause such a robust house of cards to collapse. It thudded mutely on the carpet without even a crack.
      With a singular, swift stomp it shattered into pieces anyway.
      The door was roughly two-thirds of the way to the end of the corridor, one amongst many. Not positioned at the back of the building, or in a corner, or particularly central either. Major Narcissus presented his keycard to the lock and was rewarded with a little green light and the satisfying sound of the automatic latch releasing. But what greeted him on the other side was not a fresh hotel room. The stainless steel of an elevator door slid open unceremoniously and he stepped inside. He stood, centred, and ignored the lurch of his insides as the elevator began its descent. There was no music this time.
      The journey down took almost twice as long as the journey up, for it brought him as deep once again as he had risen. No doubt that the operation The Clan ran here spanned many layers below the surface; the real offices for their call centres, message designers, data analysts, brokers; the offices of their infamous Phishing Trip Agent; and the barracks for their army of field agents, the Spam Ninjas. If he was lucky he may even lay eyes on one of the “nests”. The strange creatures grew in and hatched fully formed, clothing and all, from large, metallic eggs fed by grotesque blue roots. The breeding facility here was sure to be vast; a sight that was sure to be as stomach turning as it would be inspirational for the military mind. However, disappointingly, as Major Narcissus alighted the elevator, all that was on display for him was a vast and dark warehouse space, in the centre of which a spotlight shone down upon an ornately carved wooden desk flanked either side by two red velvet, armless chairs with legs to match the desk. It was still a good two-hundred paces away.
      The clip of his boots rang like gunshots across the space as he casually, but purposefully, made his way. When he reached within ten paces, a shadow stirred from the dark on the other side of the desk, materialising into a woman as she stepped into the light at precisely the moment that Major Narcissus did, so that they both took their seats synchronously. She was dressed elegantly in a fitted, high-collared, black dress and matching buttoned blazer. The dress split to reveal her well-toned left thigh, which she had subsequently crossed. Her dark hair was expertly and pristinely pinned into a bun. Only a few very well covered lines on her face, and at the corners of her dispassionate eyes, betrayed age on the she-dragon. She was indeed fierce, one of the twelve leaders of the notorious crime syndicate, holding, quite deservedly, the title of Dragon. To anyone outside of the Clan, she was known as Auntie or “Oba-san”. She presided over clan territory in a sector of the Net that encompassed MangaRaiders, and thus was Major Narcissus’ target for parley.
      “The Lost Chorus is grateful for your hospitality Oba-san.” After a slight bow of the head he motioned at the surrounding gloom with his eyes, “love what you’ve done with the place.” He let a well practiced smile veil his face.
      The matriarch of the Clan put on a smile of her own, but she couldn’t hide the edge of genuine pride within it from him. She evidently felt quite confident in this space, proud of her operation. After a few more boring moments, she decided to grace him with a response. “What place?” Major Narcissus could only grin at that. The moment he stepped foot within the building above, her peons had probably begun packing and clearing away every modicum of evidence that there was ever a base hidden here to begin with; ready to cast off such a perfectly constructed cover without shedding a tear. Shame. It would take some small amount of effort to locate their new hive. “Shall we dispense with the pleasantries, Major? I hear that you are a man of action, and business, no?”
      “Of course, esteemed matriarch. No doubt you are aware that the Lost Chorus, in the name of 4Kids, has conquered the once deviant city of MangaRaiders.” A microscopic twitch of her eyebrow let slip her thinly masked envy. “All but a few of the miscreants have been forced into submission, but therein lies the problem. The rebels are like tiny spiders, scuttling around and weaving fragile webs in a commendable, yet futile, fight to hold back our tightening fist.” He waved the notion away, “they will ultimately not be able to divert our... righteous path. However, that does not mean that they should be ignored. Among them, there are a small number that have succeeded in taking something most important. Something that could become quite the problem for all if left unrecovered. I believe you are quite familiar with the group? These so-called ‘Sentai Raiders’?” At this the Dragon could not contain her sneer..
      He continued, “What... concerns us is that, with all efforts focused on securing the site and ensuring the productive obedience of the populace, the Lost Chorus just does not have the time nor man-power to spare on pinning these vexatious varmints down. Their movements appear impossible, seen at one moment somewhere in the city only to pop-up moments later in a completely different quadrant. Their frankly ridiculous armour obscures their identities and, although we have been successful in suppressing knowledge of their exploits from spreading thus far, there is much risk in letting the already quelled populace find out about them. They are an elusive problem, and it seems not just for us; it would appear that they leave a trail of ninja bodies in their wake.”
      Major Narcissus let the statement hang in the stale air, hoping that he was pushing enough buttons. He leant forward and rested his elbows on the fine, lacquered desk. Steepling his fingers, he pushed further.
      “Now, I would never suggest that Oba-san would have sent operatives into a zone under Lost Chorus occupation, after all, any old ameteur can grow up a few thugs in black wraps these days.” That placed a subtle sheen of perspiration on her brow. “But what if the city did not have to remain closed to the Clan?” Now, would she put two and two together? Move on the opportunity presented? Her response was slow and careful.
      “Their voice is small but strong, not easy to remove.”
      Major Narcissus stifled a sigh. It seemed that the Clan’s survival was more a product of timidity than of creativity. The casino front had been so promising but now felt infinitely less impressive. “Oba-san, Oba-san, I understand. You did not become so successful through rash decisions. But we find ourselves at a rare moment, where the Raiders can no longer deny us. They are few, we are many. They are weakened, whilst we are stronger than ever. The Lost Chorus has set the snare and tied the noose, all that is required now is a little moxie and some necks for hanging.”  Leaning back in his chair he playfully hummed the tune to “Itsy, bitsy spider”, watching as the cogs turned in the Dragon’s mind.
      “So…” she said finally as the pieces clicked into place, “you wish for us to flush them out?” Moxie indeed...
      “With all due respect, Oba-san, these… leeches siphon power from my dearest, dearest Tan. This is not a time for half-measures. No. What I wish for is a flood!” Major Narcissus did not mind the venom that was creeping into his voice, he had her now. “I want them... to drown. To be battered and broken by the torrent. To gasp painfully for those last precious gulps of air as the raging maelstrom drags them under. To flail uselessly as they sink into the depths of despair. And, at that moment, when they know just how utterly defeated they are, we shall strike in one final, glorious display of might to bring their end.”
      A vile grin cut its way across Oba-san’s face, to match his ugly own. Without breaking her eye-contact with Major Narcissus, and with practiced grace, she raised her hand from her lap, casually holding it aloft. Then, after a brief pause, presumably for some sort of superfluous effect, she snapped her fingers. The bright white spotlight over the table immediately snuffed out, replaced only barely by a diffuse red glow throughout the expansive chamber. An endless sea of shadows surrounded the pair of them at the table, stood perfectly still and waiting.
      The dam would break upon MangaRaiders.
      The Sentai would be crushed beneath the weight.
      MR-tan’s power would be wholly his.
      Through his scarred and pallid skin, Major Narcissus’ blood flashed a vile green.

We open with a piece that was meant to be a two paragraph prologue... but I was having too much fun exploring villany, so it ended up as 3 pages!


More to come!

MR Pub / Happy New Year MangaRaiders!!
« on: December 31, 2020, 07:38:49 PM »

Wishing a very heartfelt happy new year to all MangaRaiders.


Alrighty! So, now that I have started commuting again, I have gotten back into reading. It's amazing what progress can be made with two and half hours journeying everyday, and then a bit of time before bed instead of videogames or Youtube...

The series I picked up (much to the dismay of my wallet...) is one I have been wanting to read for years now:

"The Wheel of Time" by Robert Jordan (and finished by Brandon Sanderson)

Clocking in at 14 CHUNKY books long, each at 750-1000 pages, it is quite the undertaking, but I found myself engrossed in the series before long and unable to prevent myself from buying the next in the series as soon as I finished the previous. And so in the space of 3 weeks, I have stormed through half of the entire series!

Something that I noticed early on was that this series is a trove for learning opportunities - for novel writing, fantasy writing, and just writing in general - so I began reading with a relatively analytical eye, which thankfully didn't detract from my enjoyment. I wanted to share some of my thoughts on the forum and hopefully generate some discussion.

Please note, I have done my best to make this all
SPOILER FREE, so please refrain from any major spoilers in any discussions. I mostly talk about concepts as opposed to story as I think that is more productive, however If people want to discuss story elements that is fine, just please keep it in spoiler windows.

Manga Writer workshop / HALLOWEEN 2020!
« on: October 31, 2020, 06:57:01 AM »

We live in a dark and troubling time, such that tonight, a night used to festivities and house-parties galore, may be an unsettlingly solitary experience for many Raiders.

And so, I invite anyone who finds themselves unnerved by the quiet, or bored of the trashy horror flick you have watched 13 times before, to bleed their creative juices onto a page and create something new and hideously terrifying.

Write, draw, or both and fill our 2020 tome of horror this Halloween.

(I apologise for the damned watermark...)

Anime Talk / The World Ends With You Anime!?!?
« on: July 06, 2020, 01:32:19 PM »

Official Teaser Trailer


I don't think Square appreciate just how long I've waited for this!!

Funimation trailer says it is dropping in 2021

break Room / Tabletop / Pen-and-Paper RPGs
« on: June 24, 2020, 06:26:50 PM »

So I’ve been running DnD 5e campaigns for about a year and a half now (it’s where a lot of my creative writing efforts went for a long while), but I’ve been running into walls recently where the system just isn’t really keeping me engaged as a GM.

A key example of this is that combat (especially if I use grid-based battle maps) feels quite dry and very gamey, without much narrative flare or input from the players a lot of the time, as they often want to aim for the most optimal damage dealing options. Skill checks are also not very well mechanically fleshed out to facilitate a range of narrative outcomes, as they tend to operate In a quite binary pass/fail way.

I’ve been playing around with making my own Homebrew Sandbox world and I currently have a very messy list of modified rules to try and get DnD 5e to feel mechanically closer to the narrative experience I am aiming for. But I’ve also been scouting for other RPG systems that I can either pull from, adapt or use instead.

Recently I’ve been watching Jesse Cox’s
“Echoes of Eternity” Star Wars RPG campaign (which is worth watching for the sassy droid character alone!), and have been quite intrigued by Fantasy Flight’s Narrative Dice system - this system is also used for Genesys, Legend of the Five Rings and Warhammer Fantasy 3rd edition.

I was wondering if anyone else knows of some other cool Tabletop / Pen-and-Paper RPG systems that I could check out? Or maybe just some mechanics that ended up working really well in your DnD games?


Manga Creations / MR War Arc: NO1SY
« on: June 19, 2020, 05:52:18 AM »

I’m actually super happy that my first writing project back is contributing to MR Canon, which will hopefully lead into some more collaborative writing later on.

I have been advised to collect all of my work relating to this more solo part of the story into one place, so here it is! There is more to come and I hope you all enjoy  :biggrin:



A light wind swept the sand up against the walls of MR City, piling it into a yellow skirt. The walls still reached skyward, solid as ever, holding the dense city in its secure embrace. They were a comfort, like a warm hug, letting you know that your ideas, your creativity, your interests were safe and welcome. At least that is how the figure looking out at the city from the top of a dune in the distance used to feel.
      I got close this time... he thought to himself, in equal part nostalgic excitement, equal part wary anxiety. For as he gazed at his former home across the sand, those walls felt like cold hurdles now, the gates just portals to peek through into a city that looked like commitment.
      Once NO1SY had worn the appearance of a spritely young man with angular features, smooth skin and a healthy head of radiant orange hair that sat strikingly in a carefully curated mess. While working shifts for Pub-Tan he would dress in the get-up of a high-class service establishment, although he would never be seen without his headphones at least hung around his neck.
      However, over time, his image began to change: His features softened, his skin felt more coarse, his hair shortened and felt like dry straw, his beard grew long and disheveled, his shoulders became burdened with the weight of unseen responsibilities and lack of creativity, and his new clothes came across as hipster but trying too hard. Moreover, his headphones were now less a conduit for social engagement and instead an island of solitude whenever he wore them.
      By that time he had links to many sections of MangaRaiders; from Radio to Writer, Artist to Music, Review to Support. He had had plans, and had made promises, but one day when the sun rose in the sky above MangaRaiders, NO1SY was nowhere to be found.
      That was two years ago.

      A growing wump Wump WUMP broke NO1SY from his reverie.
      The heavyset military chopper crested the dune behind him, flying so low that the gusts from its blades threatened to sweep NO1SY off of the dune-top. He steadied himself in a wide stance and shielded his face from the billowing sand with his arm. He watched the chopper zoom towards MR City, and then what little colour he had drained from his pasty skin.
      They came from everywhere: tanks burrowed from hidden tunnels in the ground followed by legions of marching footmen, choppers descended from the sky in every direction like a swarm of locusts, artillery turrets breached through the sand on rising platforms and turned their sights towards the city. NO1SY had never seen anything like it.
      In a panic he launched himself down the side of the dune towards the city. As he descended, he sunk below the peaks of the other dunes in front of him and his view was cut off. NO1SY broke into a run to start scrambling up the next sandy mound in his way. He could hear the rumble of explosions in the distance, the faint rattle of gunfire. Somewhere to his left a roar and then a sizzling hiss indicated that a missile had launched from one of the artillery platforms. He pushed on and on despite the burning in his legs, as the battle raged on ahead of him.
      He ran. And then he slowed. He walked. And then he came to a stop.

      NO1SY stood looking up at the colossal walls looming before him and the buildings rising from within. He was closer to the city than he had gotten in years.
      Smoke billowed darkly from several locations across the skyline, while countless scores of troops rappelled from military helicopters that hovered like a dark cloud above the streets. Bolts of lightning and bursts of multicoloured lights flashed like a strobe from within, indicating that The Mods were in the thick of battle. On top of this, it was hard to explain, but it felt like The City was less... animated... somehow, like something important was now being lost.
      A part of NO1SY screamed to move forward. But instead he hesitated.
      I don’t think I’m ready for this... his chest felt heavy as he took an involuntary, wobbly step backwards. And suddenly, NO1SY once again found himself in the middle of a vast expanse of empty desert.

Check out the other MR War Arc Shorts here!


      It had been well over half a year and much was different, just not his choice of words...

      NO1SY had changed though. While his features were still not as sharp, his jaw was more set. His beard was trimmed and well shaped. As was his hair, which had regained a little personality atop its short back and sides. Despite his muddy green eyes speaking of some new aged experience, as well as old burdens, it seemed that he had learned to stand a little taller with it.
      The digital sun was high in the sky, beating down oppressively the desert landscape. NO1SY was just barely not boiling alive in his slim-fit combat trousers, (blessedly) breathable, grey hooded sweater, and tall, lace-up combat boots. He was a city dweller, not meant for a life of wandering a sweltering wasteland as hot as Satan’s balls. While he was as comfortable in a mixologist’s apron as he was a scientists lab coat, these days he opted for a bomber jacket, which provided extra manoeuvrability and extra padding. Unfortunately, now was not the time for his bartender’s waistcoat and cufflinks either. With a handgun strapped to his right thigh, instead he was prepared for a battle.
      At least he still had his headphones.
      He wiped sweat from his brow and shifted his toes uncomfortably in his boots, trying to ignore the gritty feeling. Sand really does get everywhere...
      The wayward Raider stood atop a dune, reminiscent of before. And once again, finally, after months of searching and directionless wandering and stumbling over shifting sands, he had found his way back. MangaRaiders lay ahead of him. Its alloy walls rose out of the sands that stretched from horizon to horizon. A sight for sore eyes. But also a despairing sight.
      Between him and his destination still lay a smouldering expanse of desert that unquestionably remained Lost Chorus territory. The artillery turrets still stood sentinel in the sands like mechanical monoliths. Military convoys and soldier squadrons trundled back and forth between the city gates, desert camps and the underground desert facility network. They looked like busy ants from this distance, and ants were unfortunately effective as a collective.
      Once upon a time it would have been second nature for NO1SY to simply will himself to appear at the gates of the city, which would have been open and welcoming. Now, that method of traversal seemed to elude him, new guard posts at the gates notwithstanding. In fact, he had seemed near physically incapable of even getting this close to MangaRaiders before now. Every time he trekked through the desert he found himself falling foul of one of a multitude of obstacles that only served to sow the seeds of doubt within him. The moment that happened he would either find himself whisked away once more into the middle of nowhere, or driven to seeking solitude in one of his many other haunts elsewhere on The Net. YouTube was the domain he most often sought comfort in; whiling away the days in endless streams of digital gaming entertainment and now completely defunct political debates. But it was only ever a matter of time before his will resolved once more and he would resume his search. Over and over and over again NO1SY relived this cycle, each attempt never more successful than the last.
      NO1SY even made negative progress on one particularly nightmarish journey. On that occasion, the endless dunes had a potent monotonous effect on his faculties, and so he did not spot the crevasse in the ground until he was already falling into it. He tumbled through darkness for what was far too long for the crack to be a natural geographical phenomenon. At some point he thought he could see streams of something trickling through the nothingness. It was glitchy and hard to look at, like thousands of superimposed letters and numbers tumbling through the aether. Before he could wrap his head around the sight, NO1SY hit solid ground with a thud that knocked the wind out of his lungs. After gasping in enough air, which could only be described as "ripe", to regain his feet, he flicked on his torch to reveal a dingy room with a tiled floor. He could not say how long he spent trapped in that dark corner of The Net he had accidentally illuminated, but it had taken a very long, very cold shower to rid himself of the filth from the place he now dubbed "Oppai Hell". Who knew that so much of a good thing could be so awfully bad.
      Nevertheless, this latest excursion had begun as any other: summoning himself into the desert plains, picking a direction and heading straight. In truth, the lost Raider had really held out little hope by then. He just put his battered headphones on, hit play, and walked. Then his headphones began picking up a signal. It began as spikes of static and he tapped at his headphones to make sure that the sand hadn’t damaged them. Then the odd word came through here or there.  He took a step in one direction but then the static cut out and his music resumed. NO1SY stood still for a moment, then backed up. The static returned. He began to walk in a circle until he reached a point where words cut through again, then he followed this faint signal like a compass until the crackling gave way to more and more speech. The voice was so familiar.
      “Bzzzzzt -ear Listeners, bzzzt -rently 202 days into... spell of mild bzzt sunny weather bzzzt rather boring bzzzzzzzzzzzt Occupation... worse than the infestation of the mimes! bzzzzzzt -iterally underground, totally pretend, gambling... Screw you fickle sponsors!........ bzzzt Together we...... strong... work bzzzzzzt freedom of all... bzt -aiting for you bzzzzt will come and go, but they never truly leave.... bzzzzzzzt.... WE ARE RAIDER!.... bzzzzt I miss the break room cookies... bzzt -nd now for Carly Rae Jepson’s ‘Call me maybe’ as performed by an orchestra of coffee machines!”
      It was kind of annoying, but also kind of beautiful, and it was undeniably 3.0. NO1SY didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry, to fall to his knees or to punch the air. Instead, he just quickened the pace in whichever direction made the signal clearer. And so, now here he was catching his breath on the top of a hill of sand. MangaRaiders once again within his sight after so very long. He had truly missed it. And that’s why he felt nothing but wholehearted determination this time as he descended the dune and prepared to strike out across hostile territory.

      Through Oppai Hell or high water, NO1SY would return home.



(For an extra spooky atmosphere, listen to this while you read!)




For a rundown of current MR Canon, check out Coryn’s Quick Guide here!

General Manga writer discussions / Contrivance - A Flaw or a Skill?
« on: June 10, 2020, 01:14:29 PM »
“The use of skill to create or bring about something, especially with a consequent effect of artificiality”


“A device, especially in literary or artistic composition, which gives a sense of artificiality”

While the first definition could be seen as rather neutral, and therefore the verb “to contrive” could be an apt synonym simply for “to plan”, when we talk about contrivances in writing we refer to the second definition and it is often used as a critique to describe when a writer’s storytelling is so convenient or coincidental as to feel unnatural.

A massively popular use of contrivance is in everybody’s favourite YA story: J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter; when little baby Harry is saved from the Death Curse by his parents’ love.

I have been thinking more about this this recently as I have been watching Parasyte: The Maxim on Netflix and I began to notice some inner workings of the writing under-the-hood of the otherwise enjoyable superficial skin of a Sci-Fi Horror anime.

Spoilers for Parasyte: The Maxim:

The killing and subsequent takeover of Shinichi’s Mother is used as a convenient way to give the story a huge speed boost into a new plot direction. It allows for character development of Shinichi as he hesitates when faced with a monster that has taken the face of his mother, and then the rebuilding of his body by Migi when he is critically injured so that he can develop powers to rival the Parasites. It also begins the process of the public gaining knowledge of Parasites, starting with Shinichi’s father. The thing is, the circumstances of the Mother’s death are so completely unlucky or downright coincidental that it is near unbelievable with the amount of set up that they did:

The Parents go on a trip to a random place in the countryside and they go walking to some cliffs for the view. Around the same time somewhere along the same coastline, a human and a parasite get into a car accident and the parasite is forced to find a new female host. This is despite the most likely place for a parasite to head towards being more densely populated areas, not the countryside. Then, despite the parasite walking along a roadside with several cars passing, somehow it attacks no-one until it reaches Shinichi’s parents on the cliffs past a forest. And despite being shown to be in a weakened, non-optimal state, the parasite is still quite readily able to attack and kill the Mother.

Another example in the show is how the drama and tension between Shinichi and Satomi is maintained by Shinichi simply never telling her that his mother was killed. There are some undertones that suggest that he feels guilty and doesn’t want to talk about his mother. But telling Satomi would likely have gone a long way to alleviate her suspicions of the way he has “changed” and the reasons for it if she were to follow Okham’s Razor at all. Considering that he becomes less emotional as time goes on, it feels more and more silly that he doesn’t make this strategic decision, and seems to really only be that way to string out that dramatic/romantic tension between them.

Now it is important to understand that pretty much every story uses contrivance to some degree - from little things to challenge the main character to keep their story engaging, to huge amounts of it when stories deal with stuff like prophetic destiny. And more doesn’t necessarily mean worse. What really counts is how you hide it. Successful use of contrivance is all about how you can make it go unnoticed by using misdirection and sleight of hand. It feels bad when a reader can see something is happening unnaturally simply for the sake of plot progression, and in a lot of instances it can be immersion breaking. There is only so much that you can ask of a reader before they reach their limits with the suspension of disbelief. So you have to cover your tracks.

Going back to the Harry Potter example, personally, I think that this use of contrivance is horrible exceptionalism that really builds the main protagonist and main antagonist motivations, and the entire magic system, on very shaky ground. BUT, i would be remiss to say that it is not effectively swept under the rug for most people by essentially hiding it in a past event at the very beginning of a huge adventurous story, and by turning love into its own soft magic system that either enhances or undermines the rest of the established magic depending on who you are asking...

If your contrivance is happening during the main body of the story however - for instance: you need to get from point A to point C (travelling, training for combat, growing up, falling in love), but the journey through point B would take too long or be too boring or would require some really convoluted logic that you aren’t even sure you could pull off; so you skip point B entirely - a trick that may help is to sprinkle in a few mentions of events from “the journey” after the fact, even though the readers were never taken through it fully.

Therefore, something to avoid when you end up using contrivance is to make sure that it does not contradict any of the set up, rules or world-building that you have established before it. At that point, you are essentially creating a plot hole that you either have to explain away with more contrivance or you risk breaking your readers’ immersion.

Moving on... Ever get that feeling when reading or watching a series when you want to reach into the screen, grab the characters by the shoulders and shake them while screaming “JUST TALK TO ONE ANOTHER YOU MORONS, THEN EVERYTHING WOULD BE FINE!” Right in their faces? Yeah I get that a lot... Now, as I understand it, this can be very culture dependent, as in some cultures (like Japanese) people are often much more self contained or insular and therefore less likely to share problems - this should be born out in the writing of their character development to show that they tend to bottle up issues and try to deal with things themselves as a result of their upbringing or family dynamics etc.

However, if readers are not given an avenue into understanding how a character might be thinking or making decisions (i.e. their principles and how stringently they stick to them), not only will they struggle to relate to that character, but they will not be able to reconcile that character’s choice of actions if those actions ever appear slightly unintuitive or serve to create conflict or have negative consequences for that character.

This is often an issue with romances - from love at first sight type deals where there isn’t any build up and we don’t have an insight into why the character is smitten, to arguments between characters where they have shown a desire to make things better and have a piece of information that could diffuse the situation, but they say something else that makes things worse instead. For the former always try to establish, or at least indicate, the perspective character’s preferences somewhat beforehand so that if they suddenly develop feelings of some kind towards a newly introduced subject, readers have a kind of superficial checklist to go by also. For the latter, if the character is going to say the wrong thing in a situation then try to find a reason for them to do so, such as the other person says something spiteful that makes them want to retaliate in kind and forget to say the correct thing.

Anyways, that’s all I can think of for the moment. I hope that this all makes sense and is useful for anyone who finds themselves in the middle of contriving their storytelling. I believe that improving at this is a skill that really starts bumping writers out of the amateur level and on the way to more professional styles of writing. Good luck!

Hey all!

So there are lots of resources that I have tried to make use of over the years when it comes to trying to improve at writing, and considering that I watch probably too much YouTube I am glad that I was able to direct some of that hobby towards learning and productivity when it comes to writing.

One of the Most interesting resources I came across is a Lectures Series that Author Brandon Sanderson gives at BYU. While the series is more geared towards novel writing than comic writing, I think that there is still a lot of invaluable information in there that can be applied with a little creativity; as he covers world building, characterisation and dialogue, and magic systems just to name a few things.

Brandon Sanderson is the Author of the widely lorded Mistborn series, which is a masterclass in ‘hard’ magic systems, plot pacing, and strong female lead characters (which I personally think is an area where manga seriously falls short due to an over-reliance on tropes instead of good characterisation...). His Reckoner’s series is a great display of creativity with Superpower Sci-Fi too. To be honest he is a super prolific writer and I could go on and on about all of his series for hours... But if you listen to the lectures then you don’t have to read all of his increasingly long books to get an understanding of his process!

2016 Lecture Series

2020 Lecture Series

Another YouTube series that I really rate is:

On Writing and On World Building by HelloFutureMe - especially for anyone who wanted to know why Avatar: The Last Airbender was such a good series!

Anyways I hope that at least a few people find these as useful as I do :)

Welcome Center / A Re-introduction of sorts
« on: June 02, 2020, 10:58:37 AM »

It has been a minute...

Some of you may remember my goofy antics from a few years back, but now I kindly ask that you forget about them so that my embarrassment can be short-lived!  :angel:  ... although I guess some of them are immortalised in podcast form...

Anyways I have been meaning to log back in for a while now, and I missed you lot, so I thought I’d pop in and see what’s happening (apparently quite a lot, which is suuuuuper nice to see :) )

I love stories, so if you have any you want read or reviewed please send them my way and I will see what I can do. I love seeing good art too! I am counting on you to help me procrastinate through my PhD, just like you did during my undergrad!  :heart:


Manga Writer workshop / Write a Short Story Based on the Song Above!
« on: July 12, 2016, 07:32:24 PM »

YAY, NO1SY finally does what he says he's gonna do and starts this workshop!... :sure:

So, after the success of my music based writing project project (which I am not gonna shamelessly plug...), and due to popular request for this kinda thing, I am going to start this little workshop, which marries two things that I enjoy: Music and Writing.

The gig is simple:

1) I am going to start the thread off by suggesting a song (with a link to listen to it and to the lyrics!)

2) Someone is going to listen to the song and come up with a short story (somewhere around 1000 - 1200 words) based on the song. No plot summaries or overviews, just actual story writing.

[2.5) If you feel so inclined, you can also find a song of your own that fits well enough with the suggested one to write a second part to your story and post that as well]

3) The person who posts their story for the song then gets to suggest their own song for someone else to work with.

4) The workshop continues!

"But NO1SY, why should we bother with this when we can be working on our own stories?"

Well friends, during my own project I found that there a few cool things to be gained from this kind of exercise. First and foremost is listening a bit more closely to music being presented to you, which is something I have always found interesting. But then you have to think creatively to utilise the imagery conjured by a song - not just by the lyrics, but by the music itself also - and also write a piece that fits the themes presented by the song; picking them out or your own interpretations. You also find that some songs use very interesting vocabulary that you may want to add to your own to draw from in future. I'm sure that there are many other benefits to doing something like this but at the end of the day I just think it's cool and a bit of fun and just gets everyone putting pen to paper and writing something.

So what are the Ground Rules? Erm...

Have fun! The songs and stories don't have to be super serious or anything...

Only suggest a song if you have written a story for another.

Try to avoid posting for the same song as someone else, just for ease of following the workshop's progression.

The word count is just a guideline... just try to post a complete story that's not too short and not too long.

Try to think outside the box. Don't just copy the lyrics, interpret them, build from them etc.

So there we have it! Let's get this show on the road!

(I've probably forgotten something... so let me know if any of you think of anything I'm missing!)

OH! And Artists, let me know if you'd be interested in doing something similar with artwork!

Develop Your Story / Balthazar the Fury
« on: June 30, 2016, 09:52:20 PM »

This is a little exercise I have been working on for a while now. Basically I've always wanted to write a story based on music, and I was listening to a few songs and I started to get some really vivid imagery that seemed to fall in line with a idea I had been sitting on.

So this is the result: The story of Balthazar the Fury, based on three songs. For this I want to share each part with it's corresponding song and lyrics. The songs are HEAVY and involve a lot of screamed vocals, which I appreciate is not for everybody - although some of the imagery came to me from instrumental parts of the songs... so may be worth a listen anyway... But then I also want present a short discussion about each song and the writing and my thought processes as well to explain things like that.

The pieces are written in the 1st person (I initially wrote them in 3rd person but decided that I was able to do the songs more justice in the 1st). Hopefully they are written in a sort of Light Novel format?? (I hope... please inform me if they aren't and how I can correct this...!)

**Disclaimer** - these pieces are a tad violent in nature...

The last thing to note is that Balthazar the Fury was meant to be a part of a larger story at one point, and may-well still be, hence this is going in the develop thread in case I ever come back to this thread and expand from here.

Please enjoy and feel free to leave a comment :)

Music / Album Reviews!
« on: June 19, 2016, 07:14:57 PM »

So... after writing a full on essay about an album and getting ready to post it in the "What am I listening to?" thread, I kinda thought... maybe this isn't the right place for full on reviews of albums... maybe people just want to come here to check out a song here and there...

THUS! I am creating a thread specifically for album reviews, so that anyone with a itch to talk out albums can do so and potentially discuss them, without worrying about going too in-depth or writing too long a post. Maybe they will also inform readers a little about some new music that they may want to check out!?

This thread is for anyone to post in, and there is no set format you must present your thoughts in, so please don't feel like it's reserved for anyone in particular and post away my fellow music nerds! :biggrin:

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