Topic: So I'm writing a children's book...  (Read 2197 times)

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So I'm writing a children's book...
« on: May 08, 2011, 11:55:29 am »
...for the folks at a Buddhist temple.

Long story short, remember that theater workshop I've been moaning about? It's at this Buddhist temple. Apparently they caught wind of my "talents" (thanks to mom blabbing) and so decided that I should try my hand at writing a children's book about the three good acts/bases of merit. (i.e. good thoughts, good words, good deeds)

So I thought I'd throw in some references to Touhou characters, specifically, the UFO cast. I have some outlines already for "good words" and "good deeds" (I've got some OCs, but mostly expies of the Myouren Crew, plus Patchouli), but I've got nothing for "good thoughts"...

So, your thoughts?
1. Is it a good idea to put in this many references? They'll be given their own personalities, naturally, they just serve as shout-outs, but yeah.
2. Any recommendations for the "good thoughts" thing? I'm just short of making some bullshit up and throwing in a Satori reference to get it over with.

(I'm a bad writer for putting this up, aren't I? Just lock if you think this is a dumb thread)


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Minch

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Re: So I'm writing a children's book...
« Reply #1 on: May 09, 2011, 12:00:23 am »

(I'm a bad writer for putting this up, aren't I? Just lock if you think this is a dumb thread)
A bad writer? A dumb thread? A thread that involves children is not dumb. What I think you are doing is great. For a good thought. Umm.. anything that deals with not thinking of spite or lust over something? I'm sorry.

Tired/Warm

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Re: So I'm writing a children's book...
« Reply #2 on: May 10, 2011, 06:07:36 am »
Asking for ideas, help, or inspiration is NEVER bad, or stupid. We grow and change through helping each other and learning from our successes and mistakes. Since you ask for help, I'll lend my two cents - take them as just that, possibly less considering deflation. If they help though, that'd make me happy indeed. What sort of Buddhist temple? Mahayana, Theravada, Esoteric..? (The reason I ask is mostly if the book is going to be screened by staff- you want something that will help the lessons of the Temple while also being fun and interesting.)  The idea of focusing on good characters and good deeds is great! Writing for children is a challenge because, although you want to keep things simple, by no means do you want to talk down to or assume your audience is uncapable of grasping things. Children are observant, and I can say with certainty there are some who have been more observant - by far - than the adults I have known.

Good thoughts - supplanting material desires for concrete goals. I.E, if you use a Nazrin expy who enjoys searching for treasure, perhaps she finds that searching is the true joy - and that the treasure itself is less valuable than the things it can bring, perhaps food for her family or friends. Understanding yourself and your needs is another good one - perhaps an expy of Shou gets angry very easily, but always feels bad afterwards. Why is that? Exploring how perhaps the emotion of anger leads Shou to unhappiness is a good lesson as well, but to find that out, she must journey all across the land, meeting many characters and spirits(either with background illustrations or lush words to describe it - things that sound good when read aloud. Think back to stories you were read as a child, the ones that really made you lean closer in excitement).

But not every story needs to be a lesson, either. Showing the fun the cast has - and perhaps some misadventures, too - is a really wonderful idea. Are you actually including Myouren Hijiri himself as a character? A traditional one might be having a party, but someone doesn't get an invitation - you can think of ways to make it interesting, of course. Patchouli-expy spends a lot of time in her library, which seems odd to many other characters; but reading is very exciting to her, which is why it is good - and she can also use what she learns to help others, both in understanding themselves and in the material world. Most importantly - try to spend much of the time showing how happy the cast is, or becomes. Depending on the temple, you may not want to show it by having lots of passages describing the happiness bluntly - with smiles, or laughter - but in little gestures, like a friendly wave or how animated the conversation is over a feast.

I don't know how much help this will be, but I wish you the best of luck -and fun! - with this. It's a wonderful project, as Minchify says, and if there's anything I can do to help out, let me know!

Also, Minchify- Earthbound is amazing, your avatar is amazing. That is all~

Awesome sig courtesy of Squawkers23! Thanks!

Oh, you're looking for words? My writing is here.
Do you remember me? I also remember you - and though we haven't met in so many days, I still know you and love your memories. If you stumbled upon this - good luck, in whatever you might do.

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Re: So I'm writing a children's book...
« Reply #3 on: May 10, 2011, 03:51:44 pm »
I see, I see, thanks for the advice, guys!

As for what kind of temple it is, it's Chinese Mahayana.

I do believe I've got all the basic plots down now, so I'll just expand on these later. Do mind, I have the names down too, I just don't want to spoil them yet:

Good deeds:
Shou-expy lives in cave by forest with animals who willingly sacrifice themselves
Storm blows, destroys plants
Animals need to migrate, but Shou-expy is too comfy in cave
Shou-expy grows hungry, sees Nazrin-expy (who, instead of a dowser, is a messenger) coming from a temple near Mount Hourai
Shou-expy is delirious, catches Nazrin-expy
Nazrin-expy begs to be let go and promises food, Shou-expy agrees
Nazrin-expy tells Byakuren-expy (who is central character to the set of three stories) about Shou-expy's plight and mercy
Nazrin-expy returns with Byakuren-expy, who brings some magic cheese along
Shou-expy eats magic cheese, becomes instantly healthy, is invited to become a servant for Vaisrivana.

Moral: For selfless help performed before, karma ensures you're given more.

Good words:
Brash male OC owns restaurant, is a widower (wife was sickly), daughter Patchouli-expy is also sickly
Drugs come up at port, guys smoke it everywhere
Patchy-expy inhales some on her way out of the library she works in, stops over at Byakuren-expy's temple to rest
Byakuren-expy takes care of her and lets her browse scrolls in the storage
Patchy-expy finds scroll about summoning a divine spirit that can cure her disease, then faints on the spot
Byakuren-expy takes her home, Patchy-expy wakes up and tells OC about the ritual
(the ritual involves holding a feast for the spirit)
Nue-expy (but a divine spirit and not a nue) hears summon, transforms herself into a smelly beggar to test OC
Nue-expy arrives at house, is shooed away by OC. Nue-expy transforms herself into a faux-retard with amputated limbs
Almost shooed away again, but then Patchouli-expy comes outside and demands that OC treat her better
Nue-expy transforms into true form and blesses Patchy-expy (then curses OC's restaurant for a day so that all customers get too demanding, reflecting how he expected too much of a deity)

Moral: If those below you do not mind, do prepare to be paid in kind.

Good thoughts (props to Minch for starting me off somewhere):
Story starts off with female OC...
Female OC finds Tewi-expy caught in trap, has to saw off its foot to free it
Rabbit thanks OC, reveals self to be a magical rabbit, blesses foot with good luck, then disappears
N years later, female OC is a rich grandma, story focus shifts to grandson OC
Grandson OC hears rumors about grandma's lucky rabbit foot, wants to steal it
Satori-expy passes through neighborhood, searching area with magic ring, detects bad thoughts coming from grandson's house
Satori-expy reports to Shikieiki-expy, while grandson steals the foot.
Shikieiki-expy instructs Shou-expy (now a fully-fledged avatar of sorts) to sever one of grandson's nerves with her ethereal spear and guard the body
(this happens in front of the grandma's house. The grandma herself is harvesting bamboo flowers to sell at the time.)
Grandson OC's soul ends up in front of Shikieiki-expy, gets lectured
Grandma discovers what happened, and immediately brings out joss paper to burn
Shikieiki-expy receives the joss paper "money" and takes it as a sign of forgiveness by the grandma, gives grandson a second chance
Grandson says sorry to grandma and returns the foot, then offers to tend to the bamboo fields (thus reflecting genuine remorse and filial piety)

Moral: The charms that you can't find at home will often cause your eyes to roam.

The end, da ze~!
(yeah, it's scatterbrained as of now, so I'll need a bit of help to touch up the plots a bit. Suggestions?)

e:

Notes:
YMMV on how Deus Ex story # 1 is
Byakuren-expy is notably missing from story #3, and I don't know how that happened, since she was there when I thought up the plot
How do I introduce the "drugs" in story #2 without making sound like actual IRL drugs? (i.e. how did it get into the country? How did it become a fad? What is this substance called?)
« Last Edit: May 10, 2011, 04:12:43 pm by Trigo[NOM]etry »


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Tired/Warm

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Re: So I'm writing a children's book...
« Reply #4 on: May 10, 2011, 07:25:09 pm »
For number three, I'm not quite sure how you can bring Byakuren-expy in, either. And given how well she ties #1 and #2 together, it feels like she should be in there somewhere... Perhaps when Shikieiki-expy is making her report, Byakuren is in the background and says something about how she wants to believe in the grandson, who was motivated by greed rather than by the general desire to do harm/stray from filial piety?  :derp: Sorry, give me some time to get my brain working. 'Tis a trueism that I need my coffee, and sadly I do not have access to that right now.

I can help you with your second story, though - I think. Instead of trying to figure out an exact form for the drug, leave it nebulous, perhaps a thick, viscous smoke that comes from a mysterious ground powder. If you want, you could have it be like opium, where he is constantly scratching the bridge of his nose, but that's probably overthinking it. I'd keep it simple, bland (it should sound boring/apathetic; because Papatchouli seeks happiness through the drug, he finds no happiness), and harmful to others. Also, I like the idea of Nue-expy testing Papatchouli in such a way - it fits well with the moral, well getting to show a little of her tricksterish side.

... Work brain!

- Can I reserve this spot? I've been staring at the screen for awhile, and I keep having this itch like I should know what else to suggest, but it's just blank on me. I really love what you've done so far, and hope we'll get to read the stories when they're done, too.  After my brain shifts back into gear, I'll see if I can't actually be of some use. :ohdear:


Awesome sig courtesy of Squawkers23! Thanks!

Oh, you're looking for words? My writing is here.
Do you remember me? I also remember you - and though we haven't met in so many days, I still know you and love your memories. If you stumbled upon this - good luck, in whatever you might do.

Aba Matindesu!

  • keep it gwiyoming
  • DASEU RAESISSEU
  • LOOK AT ME
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Re: So I'm writing a children's book...
« Reply #5 on: May 11, 2011, 08:52:19 am »
For number three, I'm not quite sure how you can bring Byakuren-expy in, either. And given how well she ties #1 and #2 together, it feels like she should be in there somewhere... Perhaps when Shikieiki-expy is making her report, Byakuren is in the background and says something about how she wants to believe in the grandson, who was motivated by greed rather than by the general desire to do harm/stray from filial piety?  :derp: Sorry, give me some time to get my brain working. 'Tis a trueism that I need my coffee, and sadly I do not have access to that right now.
SO THAT'S WHAT I FORGOT :O Thanks! (The original plan was that Byakuren-expy was having a sort of open forum at her temple about forgiveness, and Grandma OC was there)

I can help you with your second story, though - I think. Instead of trying to figure out an exact form for the drug, leave it nebulous, perhaps a thick, viscous smoke that comes from a mysterious ground powder. If you want, you could have it be like opium, where he is constantly scratching the bridge of his nose, but that's probably overthinking it. I'd keep it simple, bland (it should sound boring/apathetic; because Papatchouli seeks happiness through the drug, he finds no happiness), and harmful to others. Also, I like the idea of Nue-expy testing Papatchouli in such a way - it fits well with the moral, well getting to show a little of her tricksterish side.
Ah, you mean I'll just leave it at "One day, a bunch of guys were setting fire to a stick made of a strange white powder" or some variation thereof?

e: in Story #3, grandma OC will be at a teahouse, where Byakuren-expy happens to be handing out dharma words in fortune cookies.
« Last Edit: May 12, 2011, 06:20:55 am by Trigo[NOM]etry »


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Re: So I'm writing a children's book...
« Reply #6 on: May 19, 2011, 01:28:33 pm »
Update:

Okay, finished the prologue.
=====================================

   Once upon a time, the Village of Wanying (晚桜) stood peacefully in a mountainous province, deep within China.

   By that village was a lush green forest, where the birds sang songs so vivid that the villagers tell passersby to listen to the songs, saying that it had powerful magic that ushered in wonderful dreams, and where the fireflies danced gracefully at night, lighting up the forest path.

   On a small hill to the north of the village, there stood a temple. The old venerable has left her temple to the only remaining priestess, Bai Lu. “You are like a daughter to me, and thus, only to you will I trust this temple. O, the world of dharma is filled with light. May you never succumb to lust, malice, and delusion,” were her last words.

   The wind carried along the petals of the cherry blossoms outside, planted long ago by a Japanese follower who wished to honor Buddha by sowing them in many temples, and with it went the enlightened soul of the old venerable. Bai Lu was almost jealous, knowing that the shifu will never again have to suffer temptation.

   But she was determined to make sure the temple ran as smoothly as it had when old venerable Chun Yu took care of it. By the urn made in memory of Chun Yu was placed a small vase of lotus flowers. After a few days, the petals turned completely white.

   After a few years, Bai Lu made her temple famous. Followers came by the hundreds, and it was beginning to be hard to maintain the temple. But it never mattered to Bai Lu, for she soon had many stories to write in the temple records.

   My great great great grandmother was given the task of copying the stories into scrolls, in case the temple ever caught fire. The never did catch fire, but some of the copies were handed down through many generations of our family, until now. I now take it upon myself to write about them.

   It was the year 1573.

The three stories that follow happen in chronological order. Chronological, in this case, means “in this exact order, from first to last."
=====================================

Comments, suggestions, violent reactions?


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Aba Matindesu!

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Re: So I'm writing a children's book...
« Reply #7 on: June 02, 2011, 02:36:10 pm »
Okay, finished the first story. Not as much a "children's book" as a "children's novel" but gah.

========================================================
Peaceful Conquering
Years before the old venerable died, a small pack… ahh, no; a small streak of tigers from the plains of the north came to the forest. Streak is the correct collective noun for tigers. Their presence was thoroughly asserted, a phrase which here means “they roared all day and night, and bullied the other animals of the forest.” They picked on the pandas, roared at the rabbits, and harangued the horses. They chased out the bats in the cave they found by a cluster of maples, and made it their home.

   After a while, the tigers elected a leader. That leader had to be the best of the streak-- at hunting, at training the young cubs, and at keeping the other animals scared of them. Not too long after he was elected, he had a son. He was confident that his son would be a leader, just like him, so he named his son Ye Humao, as the light guiding the future of the streak, and having the sharpness of a spear.

   But alas, little Humao did not like fighting. He tried to befriend a hare he met by a lake. The hare taught Humao how to run faster, and raced him to the other side of the forest. In his excitement, Humao had neglected (a word which here means “forgotten”) to ask for the rabbit’s name, and on the way back to the lake, his new friend was soon attacked by another tiger of his age.

   How Humao cried! The other cub called his friends and laughed at him, telling him how he was not fit to be leader. They were going to tell Humao’s father about what happened, so he pleaded, “Please don’t tell my father! He’ll be mad at me, and he might throw me away!”

   The cub that attacked first decided to try making fun of him even more. “How about we have a duel? The first one to give up loses,” he sneered. He thought Humao would just back away like a coward. He could not have been more wrong. Humao, in his indignation (which is a fancy word that adults use for anger) pounced on the surprised cub. Humao bit the cub’s ears and clawed at his tail, and seeing that he had no chance to attack, the poor cub that killed the rabbit ran away.

   Humao briefly mourned for his friend, and returned to his home in the cave. The news did not escape his father’s notice, as word spreads fast even among tigers. “Friendship is a bond stronger than the hardest of rock. But if you keep doing this, you won’t survive. Remember, we only have each other. You can’t turn on the family like that. Do not disappoint me again. Tomorrow, we shall have a hunting trip.”

   Indeed, they did just that the next day. They killed a deer, and to hold back his own tears was all Humao could do. But he could not disappoint his father, and said nothing.

   These hunting trips went on for almost a week, until one day, a fire ravaged through the forest, and many of the animals had to run away. Unfortunately, Humao was very small and was easily pushed around by others. In a panic now, he sprinted toward the mouth of the cave, only to be dashed against a very large rock, by his own father, no less. He heard his hind legs crack, and a sharp pain shot through his body. He called and called for help, but not one of the tigers heard his cries. He could only crawl back into the cave where it was safer.

   After a day, the fires had died down. Humao was starving, and then he remembered that there were no longer any animals in the forest, and all the nearby plants had been burnt to a crisp. No longer did the short maple that he had first climbed but months ago stand watchfully by the cave. The small patch of osmanthus had only the acrid smell of smoke to replace the sweet fragrance that once hung above it.

   A few hours passed, and Humao could not stand his hunger or his tears any longer. Using his front paws to drag himself ever forward, desperately did he seek something to fill his empty stomach.

   During this time, I had awaited the arrival of my messenger mouse, Nanshu, from Ju Dengmei’s temple by the sea. She had finally worked out Mount Penglai’s exact coordinates (a word which here means “a land’s position on a map,”) and she had paid the Messenger Mouse Association to spread the news all over China.

   Nanshu happened to find Humao crawling along the forest floor, looking for anything to eat. Though she knew better than to approach a hungry carnivore (a word which means “an animal that usually eats meat,”) she could not leave a dying animal be.

   Humao took one look at Nanshu, and his mouth started watering. Maybe he could make an exception today. Maybe he could eat this little mouse, if only to stop the pain. But he remembered how the other cubs had viciously attacked his rabbit friend, and how his father had encouraged it, and he was suddenly sick. He could not bring himself to sink to their level, not once more.

   Somehow, without thinking, he’d swiped at her, and he soon had her trapped under his strong paws. “Aiee! Please don’t eat me yet,” Nanshu pleaded. “I have a scroll to deliver!”

   Humao would have no more of this, but the words came out without him meaning to say them. “I can’t let you go. I must have something to eat, and you, little creature, are food!”

   “Let me go,” the now desperate Nanshu cried, “I’ve nothing to offer you now, but I’ll come back with something, anything, as soon as possible!”

   Humao mused for a beat, trying to decide whether it was true or not. Finally, he let her go, and said, “I never really wanted to eat you, so I’m glad you gave me a choice.” Nanshu looked back one last time, but in wonder and not fear. She ran faster than ever, easily making up for lost time, and she soon made it to the temple.

   She, huffing and puffing, came to me as I was preparing hollow cookies with dharma words stuffed inside. “Shifu, omitofo. I’ve brought you Shifu Ju’s notes!” She laid the scroll on a short table made specifically for deliveries such as these.

   “Thank you, Nanshu.” I walked over to her and gave her a cookie to eat. She eagerly nibbled on it, savoring its decidedly fruity flavor. Picking up the scroll, I turned toward the large library, but Nanshu suddenly squeaked in alarm, “There’s something I forgot to tell you!”

   “I ran into a tiger on the way here, and he needs our help! Nothing is left of the forest, so he has nothing to eat. He could have eaten me, but I told him about the delivery and promised to return to him. Do you still have some of that cheese you used to feed me?”

   I rushed to the pantry, and without me really thinking about it, my hand lashed out into a shelf, and it came out holding a yellow glob of creamy cheese. I handed it to Nanshu, and hurried her on. Her toes made clacking sounds on the stone floors, echoing off the walls. It was just now that I noticed that the temple was mostly empty; the forest was where the main roads from other cities led to, so no one could get to our village just yet.

   Then it hit me; a tiger who would willingly let his prey go? The tigers around here were known for being very mean, so this one must have been special. I brought along a few seeds from the cherry blossoms that grew in the temple gardens, and I walked to the forest.

   Nanshu was right; there really was nothing left of the forest but ashes. Some of the smoke still lingered, and I had to cover my nose. Not long after, I found both my mouse and the tiger. They had finished off the last bits of the cheese, and Humao was thanking Nanshu profusely (a word which here means “again and again until Nanshu could bear no more.”)

   Humao’s legs were bent at an awkward angle, but he didn’t seem to be in much pain. I was right after all; he really was special. Only one other tiger like this had ever been born, and that one had become Pishamen Tian’s servant.

   I spoke now to Humao. “I heard about your deed, and for that, I would like to offer you a reward.”
He looked puzzled, so I told him more about my offer. “Would you like to serve Buddha as an avatar of Pishamen Tian? You will never have to worry about hurting your friends, for you will have reign over the earth spirits, to whom you may task their protection.”

   Humao’s ears perked up at the thought. “You mean my family won’t have to force me to eat any more of my friends?”

   “Absolutely,” I smiled. “All you have to do is say yes.” He answered by nodding his head furiously.

   So it was settled. I planted the cherry seeds, digging small holes and dropping them in. It wasn’t very long until the ground where I had planted the seeds began to glow, and out of the hole made by the light popped a golden mongoose.

   It had a beautiful jade sphere in its mouth, which it placed on the ground before Humao. When the mongoose spoke, its voice boomed through the forest. “Lord Pishamen approves of your kind deed. He requests an audience.” As quickly as it had popped out of the ground, it had burrowed back in, and a cherry tree shot out of the hole, in full bloom.

   I picked up the sphere, and looked at Humao. “Your deeds have been recognized. Now, focus your gaze on this sphere.”

   Humao did just that. A small ray of light pulsed from the sphere, shining on his head. Slowly, the ray expanded into a large beam, and then a flash of light blinded us all. When my vision returned, I saw that Humao was no longer a tiger. Instead, he had the form of a dashing, well-muscled young man, dressed in light colored robes. His hair stood out, colored orange with black stripes, like a tiger’s fur. He carried a tall spear and a lantern that looked very much like a pagoda.

   Nanshu was the first to speak. “You look great!” Humao blinked in surprise when he looked down; he had grown taller in the transformation. In fact, he was now taller than I. “What should I do,” Humao asked, “now that I’m Pishamen Tian’s avatar?”

   Nanshu put forth the suggestion. “Maybe you could help rebuild the forest! You can command the yakshas to grow trees, right?”

   As if in response, many saplings sprouted in our immediate area. Humao looked at a certain patch some steps away, and in a few seconds, a patch of osmanthus had magically appeared. A tree nymph, clad in red silk, appeared before Humao.

   “Let us take care of the restoration of the forest. Lord Pishamen is expecting you,” she said. She took his hand and they faded into Pishamen Tian’s realm together.

   Sure enough, weeks later, the forest was what it once was, but better. Trees and flowers grew at a rapid pace, and the animals returned. The fireflies shone brighter, the birds’ songs were clearer, and even Humao’s family had stopped terrorizing everything they came across. The lone cherry tree in the forest became a popular spot for flower-viewing picnics. Humao came to me once, and told me that he was perfectly content with his new job. The yaksha patrolled the forest, and, while playing minor pranks (such as adding spicy sauce to various dishes that picnickers brought along), never caused trouble.
========================================================

Sorry if it's a huge bump, but eh. Here's a preview of the next story while you're at it:

========================================================
There is a famous restaurant in our village called The Dragon’s Peach, where most of the tourists who visit the temple end up eating their meals. The tofu is, as the locals say, smoother than silk, and the noodles were delicious and very, very long, a symbol of long life. This restaurant is owned by none other than Chen Jibang, a descendant of a long line of Han palace cooks.
========================================================

e: Research fail, Chen surname came after Han dynasty.
oh wait no the name's been around longer nvm
« Last Edit: June 03, 2011, 11:43:22 am by Trigo[NOM]etry »


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