Storyist, Plus Writing About a Vietnamese-American Proto-Detective

Well, I’ve been working out some characters on Storyist for iPad. I rather prefer Scrivener on the Mac, but unfortunately there’s no Storyist-to-Scrivener converter (as of this blogging) so I’m stuck thus far working with Storyist if I want a decently featureful novel writing software on my very portable iPad. Hopefully Scrivener will one day present an iPad version, in which case I’ll drop Storyist for iPad like a hot potato.

Anyways, I spent a little bit of time working out a Vietnamese-American proto-detective character’s goals, and a little bit of backstory; as well as his long-lost sister, and a little bit of backstory. Names, I need names. And, I know, actual personalities rather than simply backstories. I’m thinking of an eccentric personality for the man, and a serious and no-nonsense personality for the woman. Of course, they’ll need to be deeper than that, or else they’ll be rather cliche and shallow. I suspect character will come out of what they end up doing as I explore the ramifications of the backstories.

At first I thought this would be a rewrite of my defunct story, Crime and Violins, but as the idea germinated in my head I realized it was its very own thing.

I hope that the novel captures my own gradual journey into my lost Vietnamese heritage, as well as the terror of an emotionally and physically abusive family, the seediness of adopting a child trafficked into the underworld of international adoption, and the plight of internalized racism. I’m not entirely sure if this is enough; I want my novel to say something other than simply being a mystery, and I wonder if this is enough material to start off with contemplating this eventual goal of the text.

Because this is a mystery, I really do need to plan ahead. So that means, instead of going ahead and writing story, to start plotting out characters, scenes, plot points, etc.

As I’ve joined the Clarion Write-a-Thon for this year (I’ve got a rather bare profile and everything), I’ll be posting daily updates on my progress—no spoilers, but general thoughts about where I’m going with this, along with possible excerpts of any backstory or character exploratory text I end up writing.

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5 thoughts on “Storyist, Plus Writing About a Vietnamese-American Proto-Detective

  1. Be sure you spend some time thinking back from the end.

    Mysteries have to have deliberate ends, or all the reader’s patience with the false trails and multiple-possible-interpretation clues ends up unsatisfied.

    At the end of The Adventure of the Speckled Band you have no doubt what happened.

    Your detective sounds scrumptious. And old trick for names is to read an encyclopedia about the history of a country, and take the first name of one historical character and the last of another to put together. At least that MAY make things authentic – but then run it past a knowledgeable Vietnamese person in case there are ethnic differences in countries which have many groups – sort of as if you got a hindu first name and a muslim last name – unless you want to go ahead and have a great explanation for that. Ie, you can do almost anything you want, as long as you do it deliberately.

    Have fun.

    • Vietnamese names come in three parts, typically. There are names that are definitely last names, names that are definitely middle names (and different for men versus women), and given names that can be anything. I doubt it would be a good idea to go through a history and, say, pick out the names of royalty since those follow different naming rules.

      These days it’s probably best to at least check out Wikipedia to learn how names are formed in the culture of your choice rather than trying to muse it out through history books that aren’t specifically about naming.

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