I still can’t believe I’ve written from 100 prompts this year. Some have come easier than others, and I tend to make clear which ones I’ve preferred over the ones I’ve hated. When I first started out back in January, I had ambitions of turning every prompt into a short story. As I closed in on 50 prompts I realized that wasn’t going to be feasible if I wanted to write every single day. So I took a break and reevaluated. When I came back, I started doubling up on prompts that only elicited purely anecdotal tales rather than new story ideas.
Still, of the 100 prompts I’ve written, a little less than a third of them have come from pre-existing characters or worlds I’ve written previously (and am still writing). I can only give so much context in my notes section of each post, and sometimes I repeat myself when characters reappear in new prompts.
In an effort to keep myself from sounding like a broken record, and to collect all my story details in one neat post, I am going to provide some context for each of my recurring characters in the post below, as well as list the prompts the appear in. You may remember I tried writing all my characters together once, but it was a little chaotic. Hopefully this will be much cleaner.
Wolves of Legend: Awakening, Betrayal, & Legacy (Anime Fanfiction Series)
This is an incomplete fanfiction trilogy set in the YuYu Hakusho anime universe: The world we know isn’t the only world out there, but not in the physical or planetary sense. Instead, there are parallel realms where different sentient beings reside. Our world, the human realm (Ningenkai), is for mortals. People go to school, to work, go about their ordinary lives completely ignorant of the existence of the other realms. There are some, though, who are born with a high spiritual sensitivity or awareness. In the series they are referred to as “psychics” even if they don’t necessarily have traditional psychic powers (read: telepathy, telekinesis). They can sense, and in some cases see, spirits and demons. They can also focus and use their own energy as weapons against demons or other foes.
The demon realm (Makai) is host to monsters of a range of abilities and shapes and sizes. Many feed on humans or human souls and are driven by blood and power. It’s a chaotic land with various regions all ruled by the strongest in an area. There is a power ranking system that is used to classify the demons, and it can be strengthened through rigorous training. There are demons far beneath the surface of demon world that possess the power to destroy worlds but a powerful barrier keeps them “safely” trapped in the demon realm. The energy the demons harness is far more potent than human spirit energy, but not always as strong.
The spirit realm (Reikai) serves as both a crossroads and a policing force between the human and demon realms. When people die (human and demon alike) their souls are sent to the spirit world to await judgment and learn where they will spend all of eternity. There are many so-called realms of eternity. In the series it’s only mentioned once in passing but it’s a concept I utilize and elaborate on in Mika’s story.
The spirit realm also works to keep the demons out of the human realm, and vice versa. They frequently use human psychics to track down demons who have crossed over and task them with hunting them down and killing them, or capturing them and turning them over to spirit world for punishment. The main character of the series, Yusuke Urameshi, is one of these Spirit Detectives working under the young prince of the Reikai, Koenma. He, along with some unlikely friends, tackle missions to save the human world again and again.
I was obsessed with YuYu Hakusho and Wolf’s Rain around the same time and decided it would be cool to create a character for the YYH universe who was also a wolf masquerading as a human. Demons take many forms, animal spirits being a fairly common shape. Thus, my wolf demon was born. Ali was the very first original character I had ever created so she was very self-insert/mary-suey at the start. I’ve been writing and rewriting her story (and subsequently, her daughter Mika’s story as well) for almost 15 years now and I think I’m finally starting to understand her.
Ali’s Tragic Backstory™ starts with a powerful demon race and an ancient prophecy that foretold their doom. Wolf demons, like their human world counterparts, were pack animals, and very loyal to their families. But they were also too numerous and too powerful. They were destroyed from within, and Ali and her twin, Sayuri, were at the heart of it. Their birth had heralded the beginning of the end.
In a world where power rules, being born with unique power paints a target on your back. Demons had heard the legends, had known the signs. Control the power, control the worlds. The twins were on the run for years, the packs of the various tribes sheltering them from external threats where possible. In the end it wasn’t enough. A battle. A massacre. The wolf demon race was dead, and the twins vanished.
Many years later, Koenma has a lead on one of them. He sends his team to rescue her and bring her in for protection. It’s Ali, but she seems to no longer remember her past as a wolf demon. He wants to keep her close. He orders his team to protect her, never telling them who he suspects she is, hoping that she’ll remember and tell him what happened that fateful day.
Ali grows close to the team, even the stubborn unemotional one. They have many trials as she uncovers her past and remembers who she was, what she is. The first story, Awakening, culminates with the fulfillment of Prophecy. The second story, Betrayal, is set 5 years after the end of the first and chronicles Ali’s struggles with the aftermath of the prophecy’s fulfillment as she continues to learn about her past and try to move to the future. The third and final story, Legacy, follows her daughter Mika, almost two decades after the conclusion of Betrayal.
My fanfiction draws more on the setting and established universe than the series characters. The series protagonist almost doesn’t feature at all in the later stories. I primarily focused on my own characters and several of the supporting and side characters. I absolutely adored the supporting ladies in the show and made it a point to give them more “screen time,” as it were, and explore their personalities. Ali needed strong female role models and allies and they needed more development so it was a win-win for me.
Initially I wrote it to give the brooding side character a romantic interest, because that was all the rage when I started writing (maybe it still is, I haven’t actually read much fanfiction in years). It was dreadfully cliché and trope-y. Of course, at the time, I thought I had developed the relationship pretty naturally, but hindsight is 20/20. It’s been a lot of fun rewriting their relationship now that I have a far better understanding of their personalities and their pasts.
Mika’s story has given me trouble in that it’s been very dynamic. I had actually fully outlined her tale with chapter titles and synopses so that I would be able to just write freely without thinking about plot. The general plot hasn’t changed, but I’m not certain it will end the way I had initially planned. She has a choice to make, and while I was sure I knew what choice that would be, circumstances have changed just enough that I am no longer certain that will be her decision. The final act has been a struggle, but I would love to see it through to its conclusion, even if it never sees the light of day.
Yuri is her closest friend, her sister in everything except blood. They were born hours apart, each with a wolf demon parent, and raised together. Yuri is the yang to Mika’s yin. She is also largely an enigma to me. I know that she is very important to Mika, but I haven’t had many opportunities to delve into their relationship. Some of these prompts have helped me understand her better so that when I write her I will write her properly.
Prompts in the Wolves of Legend universe:
Ashes of Eden (Post-apocalyptic Sci-Fi)
Inspiration strikes in the strangest of ways. The seed of this story was planted by a commercial for eyeglasses or contacts. I don’t remember the exact product, just that it had to do with eyes and everyone’s eyes being unique. One of the actors had really stunning eyes that stood out to me. They were a fascinating shade of green flecked with yellow. I thought, “wouldn’t it be really cool if you could tell if a person had powers based on the color of their eyes?” And my post-apocalyptic mutant survival story took root.
The Last World War devastated the planet, and the survivors, almost simultaneously, lost the will to fight. They laid down their weapons and returned to their cities to rebuild. They created massive domes to shield their people from the hazards of the nuclear wastelands and sustain the remaining populations for years to come. In the years that followed, some would manifest new abilities, powers they didn’t fully understand. A shadow society springs up around them, to nurture, to teach those within it what their new abilities mean for their world.
The end of the War was engineered. The years of prosperity and peace, manufactured. The people didn’t just lose the will to fight, it was taken from them. And in its place, the seeds of humanity’s future were sown. A new form of human was emerging. One which was faster, stronger, smarter. It was the Sages who first realized this. If they could only find the key, they could push everyone into the new world.
The population is already expanding. The Domes are growing too congested. The Outside world is wild and dangerous, but full of opportunity. The answers must be out there. Scavengers hunt for information, but many do not return.
Lara is a Chimera, a mutant with multiple affinities. As such she has incomplete control over all her abilities, the worst being that of her Reading. So many people, so many voices in her head, but the Sages won’t let her leave because she is an enigma to them. A Chimera with not just two affinities, or even three, but five. She can’t wait to get out of the city, so when an opportunity presents itself, she leaps on it. As she runs from her problems in the Dome, she finds the path is not as clear as she hoped.
I started this for my very first National Novel Writing Month attempt in 2013, though I didn’t get very far (~5k in a week before giving up). It quickly fell apart when I realized it was only a vague concept with a couple of undeveloped characters. It’s been on the back burner for years, and I finally returned to it for last year’s NaNo. November is a weird month for the company I work for though and work tends to pick up as our customer plays catch-up before the end of the year and I found myself with less free time to write than I’d hoped.
I had the (good) problem of uncovering more world building questions the longer I wrote. But for NaNo, that’s not very helpful. I’d get sidetracked trying to solve a problem before continuing to write and before I realized it I’d lost an entire evening of writing. The upside is I know the themes I want to incorporate and the character relationships have deepened for me. The prompts here have helped a lot with it.
I’ve had the chance to explore more of my characters’ personalities as well as the world in which they live. Lara, Midge, and Shane are tied together in ways I’m still coming to understand the more I write, and these prompts have gone a long way to helping me understand them better. For the most part, I’ve considered these to be B-sides to the novel that’s in pieces in my computer. Some of them may find their way into the final product, but for now they’re just ways for me to interact with the characters outside of the main story.
Prompts in the AoE universe:
The Adventures of Captain Leo Peaches and The Ninja Spaz (Action Fantasy)
This original story is rooted in the pirates vs ninjas trope and brings together two very different characters in a fun, action-adventure style story. It started as a collaborative story written with my best friend from high school and college, though I couldn’t tell you how we came to write together. He was better at visualizing and writing fight scenes while I was better at dialogue and driving the plot. We both had ninja/pirate characters and so we brought them together.
The Captain is his. Even though we don’t work on this story together anymore, I still consult with him on matters of Leo’s character and his past in order to write him effectively when I do work on this story. One of the core traits of his character is that he’s been a pirate his whole life, but he was born to ninja parents. He never knew them, so he never knew he was also a ninja. A feature of our world is that ninjas have the ability to sense other ninja to some extent. As a pirate, this is a handy trick, though it never occurred to him why he might have better perception than other pirates.
The Ninja Spaz was a little doodle I would draw in my notebooks when I got bored. She was just a simple stick figure ninja who kept finding creative ways to accidentally kill a generic stick figure dude I named “Average Joe” over a series of 3- and 4-panel comics. She was also the personification of my nickname, since I was a sneaky hyper child in high school.
When my friend came to me with the collaboration idea, I knew I had an opportunity to turn her into a real character. It was during our time writing together that I learned her name, Kita, and started to develop an actual human character. She is very down-to-earth, and doesn’t really subscribe to the “all pirates are bad” philosophy that rules the ninja world. As such, she’s a bit of a rogue and an exile. It makes her partnership with Leo’s crew all that much more entertaining.
The first part of their story is up on my other blog. It is in desperate need of revision, but it’s relatively short. ~17k words across 10 chapters. Every prompt I’ve written with them on this blog has been a continuation of that story. We had a vague outline of an idea for a “sequel” to their tale, and I’ve worked on it on and off over the years, never getting very far, but these prompts have helped at times.
Prompts featuring Leo and/or Kita:
Untitled Fantasy WIP
This one has been stewing for years. Back at the height of the Hunger Games vs Twilight fan wars, it seemed like every other book that came out had some sort of ridiculous love triangle while the suped up protags fought to save the world from some tyrannical evil. At the time, I was fairly naïve to the tropes of science fiction/fantasy and just figured everyone was hopping on the “Twilight Bandwagon” and if they could do it, so could I.
I sketched out a world with vampires and werewolves and wizards (oh my!) and all manner of fantastic creature or being I could think of. And then I came up with my elemental twins fighting to save the world. Those early days were pretty ambitious and I burned myself out very quickly. But it’s been simmering for a long time. At least 2008. I finally took the lid off and peeked at it again a couple years ago and tried to get it going for NaNo in 2016. 6k is a start, but it needs a lot of work. As with all the other tales in this post, these prompts have helped me to explore the world these characters live in, as well as the characters themselves.
Prompts with my “epic” fantasy characters/world: