1.10 NOTES

natsuki
Reminder: Don’t read the Notes before reading the actual fic chapter.
*Please comment only on this and previous chapters to avoid spoiling.

A sincere thanks to those people who stuck with me through the dry spell, cheered on the silly process, and helped me with research. I’ll allot extra fermenting time since this is a bit of a mess and I’m posting right now without an edit. Warning: Ridiculous note length ahead.

In my attempt to write a garden onion, I hope I don’t end up with just a clove of garlic.

Well. I expect maybe only three-ish people to become aware of this teeheehee update, and I don’t intend on advertising (since I’ve forgotten where one normally would anyway and still don’t intend on joining FF.net). ^_^; If those of you who find this think others would be interested, feel free to advertise with a link to this journal. I still appreciate detailed critical reviews, so do pick things apart, especially plot inconsistencies, questions on psychology, and language issues. I’ll love you lots. My style has changed a bit since the beginning, I’m sure. Also, I didn’t double-check the references to KYA, so there may be inconsistencies at this point; I’ll let it ferment for a bit so I can figure that out. *Someone sent me my original Shoujoai forum link, so I guess I’ll just bump that once after all…

Here’s a long chapter, mostly thanks to Natsuki and Nao, since I wanted to give them a good shove in the development department. I’m not entirely sure that everything is convincing, but we’ll see. I ended up moving a substantial chunk to 1.12 due to arbitrary space (although it turns out I’m nowhere near hitting the character limit in a Livejournal post). The most difficult part of writing this chapter was … (wait for it) … talky bits! No, it never gets old. I’d be more worried if the talky bits come too easily, honestly. Pronoun variety still annoys me. Eh, it was okay.

I might have mentioned this before, but motorcycle helmets are absolutely required by law in Japan (last I checked). According to the Japan Guide, the direct nozomi trains take about 140 minutes from Tokyo to Kyoto while the slower hikari trains take an additional 20 minutes. I’m just randomly making up a time there, of course.

Serious Shizuru fans should recognize (somewhat) the Shin Kokinshu poem by Shikishi; I studied two very different translations that give an obvious sense of how there are two ways to translate poetry: literal or intended meaning. Having written poetry myself, I understand how the former could lead to serious deficiency of interpretation and how the latter essentially removes the subtle art (which I felt was the biggest problem with the translation on the Sunrise character page–it was too direct and unpretty). So I ended up creating a third version of the poem between the translations by Geoffrey Bownas and Thomas McAuley. Obviously, I took liberties with my Syncope version, but, well, there you have it. Here’s the original Japanese version (I hope it shows up):

玉の緒よ
絶えなば絶えね
ながらへば、
忍ぶることの
弱りもぞする

OH, SNAP! That’s right. Shizuru has a big brother (in my world, anyway).

I was hung up on the Nao/Natsuki scene for a long time mainly because I couldn’t visualize the setting. Since I couldn’t figure out where to put Natsuki and Nao, I couldn’t imagine their body language and what sorts of things they would do and say in that setting, even if I don’t end up writing out every detail. This private outdoor scenario, for example, is quite different from a public park or a café. Muse-chan finally hit me on the head, though, and I hope their conversation turned out believable since it could have gone any number of ways. Creative freedom can sure be intimidating. Yes, I arbitrarily named Nao’s mom Yuuki Kumiko. Let’s hope I remember that!

Now, I was originally planning on replacing the entire Nao/Shizuru flashback with straight narration due to length and complexity, but I don’t have anywhere else to put it, really, and I feel it’s very important to the plot and backstory so I didn’t want to make it an omake chapter. And of course, straight “tell” narration over a “show” flashback generally sucks. So I tried to break it up and weave it through present interaction between Nao/Natsuki; I did something new with the first two parts of the Nao/Shizuru flashback. Did it work? I hope so. You’ll let me know, right? I feel like I’m forgetting something regarding “lunch,” though.

Oh look, a sentence fragment! Or three. On another random research note, I don’t know if Japanese students can/do take multiple college entrance exams for different colleges/universities; the last research I found was supposedly outdated, but I don’t know how so (if students still take two exams for a given national university).

There are only two planned chapters left for Part 1 (1.11-12) and maaaybe an omake chapter. In any case, I’ll be picking through previous chapters and applying some minor fixes at the completion of Part 1 before uploading a “final” version of the entire Part 1 somewhere (I’m even toying with the idea of getting illustrations in there, haha?). And onto Part 2 eventually. I don’t plan on starting 1.11 until around Christmas-New Year’s, though. It really shouldn’t take another two-odd years to finish this time. Reeeaaaaally.

I’ve decided at this point that I don’t like the online version of paragraph breaking, which is just applying an extra line space after each paragraph. I much prefer the book-style paragraphs with NO line spaces and only indents for each paragraph/line of dialogue, especially because multiple lines of dialogue end up looking super spread out up there. Waste of space. For the final PDF/online version of Part 1, I’ll have to figure out how to properly apply paragraph indents in HTML.

Since I haven’t leisurely written in a while, I feel even more inclined to babble incoherently in the notes. [cough] Anyway, getting obsessed over statistics is a bad thing, but this chapter officially pushes Syncope over the lowest-end word count minimum for an American “novel,” at least from what I can remember on some sites, which is supposedly 40,000 words. Granted, I’m going by Microsoft Word’s suspicious methodology, but… “Hey, ma, I wrote a (creppy) book!” It feels like a nice little personal milestone–though I’m fully aware that it’s easy to add fluffy, pointless words for a count (students do it all the time especially). I wouldn’t know how to separate the grain from the chaff in my own writing at this point, but I had been underestimating (rounding down) MS Word’s calculations every chapter for this reason. Regardless, I feel pretty relieved that I managed to finish this one and am back in the game, even if I’m rusty and sore. Muse-chan is a sadistic mistress.

Time for bed. My eyes are actually quite red and itchy at the moment so I won’t be making fixes until at least a day later.

Next chapter: 1.11

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24 thoughts on “1.10 NOTES”

    1. Thanks. I suppose if you didn’t see anything immediately, obviously wrong, that’s a good sign. Hmm, I did spot a couple areas that need stylistic fixing just quickly scrolling down, but those are easy to change… later. Ugh, already done. I guess when I see something I want to fix, it’ll bug me until I do it after all. ^^

  1. Wow, I think I’ve said it before but the amount of research you do is just admirable. I love how more and more of Shizuru’s past is shown but still so cryptic. And ah, the bonding of Nao and Natsuki!

    1. Did you really think all the dialogue exchanges were believable? No weird spots at all? :P

      And thanks. For Nao fans, don’t worry: She’ll never lose that gotta-bother-Kuga edge.

      1. Now that you mentioned it… lol. *rereads* Dialogue seemed to go a bit fast with all the revelations to each other imho. It’s not that much out of place though. :P

  2. I was torn between writing a comment as soon as I’d read the new chapter, or to wait until for a day off when I’d be more competent to write a decent length. So, I compromised and am commenting when the story isn’t fresh in my mind *and* I’m work wearied. Lucky you!

    Anyway…

    Overall I still have to say that the story seems to be working out very well and I am as excited to see how everything plays out (and I just might have a slightly better idea of the general direction after this chapter), as I am nervous that my definition of happy isn’t quite up to artistic snuff. Oh well.

    I’m probably the last person you want stylistic comments from. I think I change from paragraph to paragraph- but I’m going to try anyway.
    Most of what I noticed was good. I don’t think there was any kind of jarring change. There is a bit of a shift, but it felt to me like you are just changing with the content itself as it grows into the plot.
    Next, I actually favor stories with heavy dialogue. Reading about extra actions that don’t really mean anything feels like filler to me, and if I see what I think is too much of it I’ll start skimming… I liked how the Nao/Natsuki bit went, two parts bite, one part sympathy. I liked the interaction of the Nao/Shizuru even better because of the blend of Shizuru’s likely and somewhat contradicting feelings toward Nao. (I feel myself shying away from using phrases like ‘the red head’ or ‘the younger girl’. This might imply that I’ve read too much Mai HiME fanfic… nah.)
    I guess there is one thing I’d have you look at. I’m a bit tentative because there’s a really good chance it’s just my own head playing with me because of the time between updates. This probably applies more to the earlier chapters, but I had to check how much time was supposed to be passing. I got a sense of routine that I don’t think I was supposed to (and again, may be much more my fault than yours).

    Last thing, but I thought I’d admit this incredibly nerdy moment I had at the end of the chapter. I guess it’s probably supposed to be more obvious than inspirational but… The closing lines where Shizuru mirrors what Natsuki says to Nao made me think about our leads compatibility with each other. Except in regard to her seriously confused feelings, Shizuru understands Natsuki really well (she has made a study of her, after all). But it also seemed like you’re saying (and this is something I believe of the characters) that Natsuki has the capacity to come to a fair understanding of Shizuru- something Shizuru probably desperately needs. And beyond that, the mirror effect is something I love more than I can ever possibly justify.

    Hopefully that didn’t make me look like a moron. At least you can’t say it was a tiny statement- I’ve written fics that were shorter.

    1. > So, I compromised and am commenting when the story isn’t fresh in my mind *and* I’m work wearied. Lucky you!

      Excellent! One can never comment too much, though, so always feel free to throw words well after the fact. ^^

      > Overall I still have to say that the story seems to be working out very well and I am as excited to see how everything plays out (and I just might have a slightly better idea of the general direction after this chapter), as I am nervous that my definition of happy isn’t quite up to artistic snuff.

      Yes, in terms of plot direction, this is the first time that I directly tied one of the new characters (KYA) to Shizuru, although this serves only as a segue into Part 2, really. I think I mentioned in the Intro/TOC that Part 1 is really more of a series of character studies overlaid on a loose introductory plot. Things don’t get heavier, more focused, and complicated until Part 2. Oh, I’m so looking forward to that… [cough]

      As for the “happy ending” part–I realize I may have scared off people the last time I mentioned that (a long time ago). But the thing I want to stress is that I’m interested in the journey and want realism in two major areas: psychology and setting, both of which were lacking in other fanfics I had tapped back then (I don’t know about now–it’s been a while since I skimmed any).

      So this is what I can say about that “happy ending”: In Syncope, it will be “real.” The psychology will be as realistic as I can make it despite some funky plotting planned for Part 2. I’m heading towards that end specifically taking into account some glaring loose ends at the end of the Mai-HiME anime.

      I will guarantee now that this sort of thing will never be in Syncope: Natsuki suddenly realizes she does romantically love Shizuru, confesses, and then they have m@d sex. No. That doesn’t mean I’m not aiming in that direction, though. :P I hope this makes better sense?

      Anyway.

      > I’m probably the last person you want stylistic comments from. … There is a bit of a shift, but it felt to me like you are just changing with the content itself as it grows into the plot.

      Nonsense, comment away! Your observation about style shift may be true, come to think of it, because the end of Part 1 is starting to focus into Part 2. The beginning felt fluffy as an introduction. Interesting.

      > (I feel myself shying away from using phrases like ‘the red head’ or ‘the younger girl’. This might imply that I’ve read too much Mai HiME fanfic… nah.)

      I’m glad the interactions worked well for you. And yes, the whole pronoun-object/subject-replacement bit will undoubtedly be something I struggle with for the entirety of Syncope. It’s awkward mainly because I have this ingrained dislike of redundancy. For example, immediately after I posted 1.10, I did a page-down skim to see if I messed up formatting. I noticed two sections that went like this:

      Nao-(blah blah)
      Natsuki-
      Nao-
      Natsuki-
      Nao-

      I found it appalling so I tried to “fix” it. XD

      > This probably applies more to the earlier chapters, but I had to check how much time was supposed to be passing.

      It’s entirely my fault, which can be traced back to this note. Squeezing in a vacation trip, illness, and the exam really cut down on the theoretical time in which normal interactions could take place. It’s so confusing that in my outline, I actually have the supposed day/time in bold all-caps besides each chapter. (e.g. CHAPTER 1.10 = Thursday morning) I could add timing information either to the TOC or the beginning of each chapter, come to think of it.

      > Hopefully that didn’t make me look like a moron.

      Definitely not. In fact, I was happy because you’re on the right track in terms of my intent. (Yay!) I wouldn’t normally expound on this sort of thing, but whatever: There is, however, a subtle difference when our heroines said it. When Natsuki said it, she meant generally. When Shizuru said it, she meant specifically. That’s all I’ll say, though.

      Thanks a lot. I really do appreciate it. ^_^

        1. Re: Wait so are you continuing?

          Yes.

          This was stalled a while back due to school/work/life/crep, but I’ve found time to start it up again. I’ve invested far too much in this to give up completely, and this blog is even paid. ^^;

      1. >As for the “happy ending” part–

        You know, I think you actually explained this to me before, but my worrisome nature suffered a relapse XD. Anyway, believable is good- there is a slight lack of it going around here (by which I mean the kingdom of fanfic). Happy and believable is king.

        >When Natsuki said it, she meant generally. When Shizuru said it, she meant specifically. That’s all I’ll say, though.

        Of course, if it’s exactly the same, it’s no fun at all. I actually wrote a paper about bringing ideas and phrases back in literature (specifically an essay by H.D. Thoreau) when the meaning has evolved since the first use.

        Well, anyway, it’s my pleasure to comment and I very much look forward to the next time. Cheers.

        1. Heh heh, well, I think I might have been clearer on what won’t be in this, this time.

          Wow, sometimes I wish I did study lit in college. All the various devices one can use to invest meaning through language are exciting. Oh well.

          Oh, as for extending narration around the key Natsuki-Nao dialogue, I found a spot that felt too fast, so I suppose I’ll make a major edit sometime this month. Anyway.

          Thanks again, and I look forward to more banter once I start the next chapter. ^^

  3. …It’s not creppy at all!

    (and I mean it. :D)

    I’m curious as to why Kosei is afraid of his younger sister. I’m also wondering how the other two, more specifically Yukio, are also involved.

    I also found Nao and Shizuru’s flashback unique. Uh, not the part where Shizuru offers the Yuuki’s help but the one where Shizuru doesn’t apologize for her actions towards Nao. Many fics I’ve read that have scenes like this often have Shizuru trying to atone for her actions in the festival (and to me have become slightly cliched).

    Nao and Natsuki’s conversation is believable… though I’m a bit confused with Natsuki eating before Nao says that it’s lunch time. Or maybe I’m reading too much into the buns. (Mmm. Siopao D8)

    >Natsuki had returned to the cherry tree and sat in its shade nearer to >the other girl, consuming a bun and a bottle of juice that Nao had brought >at Shizuru’s advanced behest, apparently.
    > “Shizuru just went up to you with that offer? Mmm.” Natsuki leaned >against the tree trunk and played with a second, unopened bun while she >pondered.
    >Suddenly, Natsuki felt something smack her face and land on her chest. >She jerked awake and saw that it was a bun. Nao stood with her arm in the >finishing position of a pitcher’s throw.

    >”It’s time for lunch already.”

    Unfortunately this link is really late- the puppies are all gone now but their video clips are still adorable… imagine! A whole litter of Du-chans! 8D http://www.ustream.tv/channel/shiba-inu-puppy-cam

    1. Re: …It’s not creppy at all!

      Hiya! It’s nice to hear from you. ^^

      > I’m curious as to why Kosei is afraid of his younger sister. I’m also wondering how the other two, more specifically Yukio, are also involved.

      Oh yes. I’m only leaving bread crumbs about them at this point, but all will become clear in Part 2. ^_^ Only two chapters away–[gasp] I’m glad you could get that feeling from Kosei’s reaction, though.

      > I also found Nao and Shizuru’s flashback unique. … the one where Shizuru doesn’t apologize for her actions towards Nao. Many fics I’ve read that have scenes like this often have Shizuru trying to atone for her actions in the festival (and to me have become slightly cliched).

      Thanks, and that’s an important point (Shizuru’s reaction), I think, because apologising is actually a very hard thing to do for most people. Moreover, Shizuru’s reasoning is important in this chapter because, for most of us, there are some things that can’t be forgiven (easily). So there are definitely some things for Shizuru that can’t be forgiven easily, as I imply in the flashback.

      “Atonement” is actually an important concept that will find its place in Syncope too, but it’s not something that I’d simplify because I intend to explore character psychologies from different tacks. ^^;

      > Nao and Natsuki’s conversation is believable… though I’m a bit confused with Natsuki eating before Nao says that it’s lunch time. Or maybe I’m reading too much into the buns. (Mmm. Siopao D8)

      (Asian foods have a lot of good buns…) Hmm, I think I forgot about the “unopened bun” part. Good catch! I need to rewrite parts of that scene anyway. I intended for the first bun to be Natsuki’s breakfast since she left with Nao before having her miso soup, and the second would be for lunch. The trick is to properly show how much time has passed through the morning.

      Thanks for your comments!

  4. awesome. so glad you are updating again.

    since you are, and this makes my heart dance with joy, I’m gonna go ahead and friend you. I’m tired of typing your username in the searchy box all the time :P

    I don’t have much to say on this particular update, as I’m not a huge Nao fan, but you’ve done a good job of making her approachable, for me. Shizuru is as mysteriously distant as ever, and I love her dearly. your Natsuki is always beyond perfect. I long for Shizuru to get better, and for some real ShizNat, but this is progressing realistically and I wouldn’t wish for an artificially speedy resolution.

    great job so far. looking forward to more. <3

    1. Hi, and thanks.

      You know, I didn’t actually like Nao in the anime either. But I did appreciate her point of view a lot more towards the end and thought it’d be a great thing to expand.

      Hm, yes, about that ShizNat…[cough]

      Working on that next chapter. ^_^;

  5. Pardon me for the late review. I have not check lj for like the longest time. It just never came into my mind. But when I did check, today, I was glad to see this update, one of which I have waited for long :D

    Anyways, I have always been searching for a good answer to the part where Nao blamed Shizuru for killing her mother and her, I would have to said that I came upon the best and clear answer:

    “I will not apologise for killing Julia and hence your mother,” the council president spoke evenly and firmly. “That was all fair play under the laws of the HiME festival, as so many others have suffered the same. However, this particular act reflects my love for Natsuki.”

    it’s good things are good with Nao. I guess Shizuru kinda wanted Nao to look out for Natsuki too because they has something in common.

    Well, I thought the same thing too, it was a fair game, having a better ability to protect your love one. I mean, what did Nao expect? For Shizuru to let Nao harmed Natsuki in front of her? Impossible, right.
    I like the explaination made here because it was better than one I could come up with, and it was straight to the point :D

    I have been trying to figure out Shizuru through out the story and am still as hopeless as ever about that. She is still full of mystery and I have to agreed with someone here, she seems distant.

    I love how Natsuki is starting to care for Shizuru more than she know and I love her protectiveness over Shizuru, almost seems as a wife :P fufufu or maybe in a much more enjoyable term: possessive :P
    It’s good because it shows that she got more in her than she might have given herself credit for.

    Here, I wonder how old is the boy who wanted to see Shizuru? Calling Shizuru back for her ability and keeping her at Kyoto U. I wonder what Natsuki will say to this and how things will go from her. We haven’t yet see some ShizNat moment and I am hoping to see some soon. What ever is Shizuru’s brother is planning to do, I have an uneasy feeling about this. I think Shizuru is not someone who is easily manipulate so once she knows whatever is going on, I hope she know the right choice or decision to make.
    The fact that Kosei knew about Natsuki kinda brothers me.

    But whatever goes, I’m looking forward to the development of the story :D
    and of course above all, some ShizNat-ness. Natsuki is still in denial -giggle

    1. > it’s good things are good with Nao. I guess Shizuru kinda wanted Nao to look out for Natsuki too because they has something in common.

      Bingo. ^^

      > I have been trying to figure out Shizuru through out the story and am still as hopeless as ever about that. She is still full of mystery and I have to agreed with someone here, she seems distant.

      There’s good reason for that (er, at least I hope I can convey that). -Also because I’m heading into that uncharted territory of Shizuru’s background (no canon), which is Part 2. Yeeahh… We’ll see what happens!

    1. Well, it’s not like I go out of my way to advertise it now. XD Have at it! Rip it apart! I still haven’t gone back to do my major edit, sadly, but maybe you’ll have suggestions. No pressure. [wink]

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