Theodora Plays to Win (With Cheat Codes)
**(3/20) It's a really good thing I decided to go back and re-read this Log. There were all sorts of issues with it. I go on to say that I don't re-read or do edits but there were an exceptional number of mistakes so I did.**
**(3/22) I've added so much more content to this. I realized, after mulling it over a couple of days, that I did not put enough content into this entry and so I've done my best to fix the problem. I added several new sections in addition to the fixes mentioned above. Also, there really isn't a structure to this Author's Log, I just talk about things as I think of them.**
THE ELEPHANT: Okay, let’s get this out of the way. My grammar sucks. There are dropped words everywhere. This happens because my mind moves faster than my hands and I’m way too lazy to go back and re-read what I’ve written, not that that would make much difference; I don’t know about any of you but when I’m reading my mind automatically adds in the words as I go. The other major SNAFU is the commas; you’d think I have a comma fetish with the excessive amount of them placed and misplaced throughout. I’ve never gotten the hang of comma usage. All of this could be fixed with an editor, but I’m not planning on ever doing that so you’ll just have to bare with it and accept them as a part of my writing style. Enjoy.
From here on I’m going to be talking about the strengths and weaknesses of this story for the benefit of those who have read it and those who may be on the fence about reading it. Spoilers will be marked.
MILD SPOILERS AHEAD for those who have not read the first five chapters.
WHAT WAS AND WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN: The initial concept for this story was Cinderella, but Isekai. That is not what it eventually turns into. I really only stay with that for the initial set-up and then it quickly turns into not that. I should have had the bad guys go with the most straight forward option which was to announce they were looking for the most powerful mages in the outlying villages. On the night of the ball when all the most powerful mages in the villages are at the ball, the king could send his troops into the villages on a midnight massacre. During the hubbub Edith and Theo escape into the woods and use the cursed forest to knock off their pursuers and everything else could have played out the same as it did. BUT that’s not what I chose to do.
I DUMB: Instead the villains go with the opposite plan which ends up making no sense and causes all the characters to do logical backflips to justify what they’re doing.
BIG SPOILERS AHEAD for those who have not read up to the final chapter.
The mystery magic user that Callum is inhabiting says that he was controlling the king into making the decision which in turn makes this villain look just as dumb as the author writing this shit. He needed vast quantities of magic to enact a spell that would allow himself to be reborn and by summoning the strongest magic users in the kingdom to the capital it could have been easily accomplished, so his current plan actively works against his goals. See how terribly thought out this whole thing was.
THE PROLOGUE PROBLEM: I don't like the prologue. I originally was going to have this entire story be from the perspective of Callum but that idea quickly fell through. I also wasn't entirely sure what the circumstances of her reincarnation were when I started writing, so I had to make some changes (as mentioned in the comments of that chapter). I eventually decided that Katya would be contacted by the developers instead of having a familial connection with them. There is a deeper reason for her being contacted, it was both random and targeted and will be explored later, if I get to it.
EDITING & WORLDBUILDING: When it comes to issues with consistency within my story, my motto is "It's not a mistake, it's a retcon" to paraphrase Lin-Manuel. As I've said I'm not one to go back and fix mistakes once I've hit "Publish" so instead I'll just make the changes on the fly. I will of course use these Author's Logs to keep people in the loop about those changes ones they become relevant. I didn't start this story with any sort of plan but as I've gotten further in and the world has begun to expand, and the plot has come into focus, I've realized I'll have to retcon quite a few things from the first five chapters; the prologue and chapter four are the big ones that come to mind.
HAPPY ACCIDENTS: There are however times where the version of the story I'm putting up on HF have an impact on the future of the story. I'm sure the stuff about Theo's mother will come back eventually (if I get to it), and there are certain bits of lore that I threw in that do in fact come back early on in Part Two. I don't want to say what since it is a bit of a reveal later on (if I get to it) and if I tell you it'll be easy to put together the twist.
I don't know if I mentioned this in the previous Author's Log, but one of those happy accidents was Bessos. I wasn't sure how Callum was able to keep track of Theo but once I added Bessos into the story I realize that would be how. Bessos can only move about freely at dawn but he can still watch from his shadow dimension thing as well as communicate psychically with Callum. That being said he is not actually Callum's familiar, if it wasn't clear, Bessos came with the body, that's why he's always going slightly off script. That scene where he finds Theo's body was much, much creepier in the initial draft; I toned it way down in the posted version. I thought about not being at all creepy but I really wanted to illustrate that Callum is not in control of what Bessos does. His standing order is watch over Theo but that very broad command has a lot of wiggle room. Though I never want to push it too far, this is not an ecchi series.
REAL LIFE: I can sometimes be an abrasive person, especially when it comes to my family. The whole "play" in the second to last chapter where we see Katya's circumstances, as well as how Theo is treated by her family, are both kind of reminiscent of how I treat my sister. She's absolute trash, the worst and most annoying person in my world. I actively try to avoid her and ignore her whenever possible. She is a waste of space. She tries to connect with me and attempts to share my interests, but she so unbearably annoying that I just can't put up with it. People who don't have to live with her will say she's the sweetest person, but in reality it's because of her extreme naïveté and stupidity that she's able to project that to the world. Anyway, if you were to observe my interactions with my sister without context then it'd probably look like the "play" and you'd end up feeling sympathy for her.
THE COVER: I'm still extremely grateful to Pik for illustrating this cover for me. I was very specific with what I wanted for the most part, although it did take some back and forth before my concept and the reality of what was possible to coincide. There are two hands on the cover which represent the two entities within "Callum's" body; Callum and the Silver Haired Warlock whom will probably be referred to as Silver until I give him an actual name. He's not the final boss but he's definitely not a character we'll see again for a long while. Theo is located in the center of course and we have Edith in her finest clothes grabbing one leg and the protagonist of Part Two on her other leg, and they're falling into what I've been referring to as the "Galaxy Hand." The Galaxy Hand is meant to represent the adjudicator.
THERE WAS AN IDEA: So, the title was something I came up with after I wrote the first chapter. The working title was "Just A Game" but as I started writing and realized that I was going in another direction with the story (at first) I thought the title no longer worked and was also a bit generic. Actually, for a second I thought this was going to be a reincarnated princess kind of thing, but that was also abandoned fairly quickly. I will say the Angel Candies were going to be a staple of the series from the very beginning. I just was unsure how to incorporate them. Interestingly, the candies are based on Rare Candies from Pokemon. I remembered how I was a big cheater and used the Instant Replay (I think that's what the device was called) and maxed out all my items and leveled up all my Pokemon with my unlimited supply of Rare Candies. That's where the "With cheat codes" part of the title comes in. She powers up to max level by eating Angel Candies in the same way I leveled up Pokemon with my ill-gotten Rare Candies :)
CHAPTER 4: The Rats & Cheese chapter is where everyone decided this story was really dumb and I don’t blame them for that. I wish I could rewrite this story, but I’m just not motivated enough to do so. I’m very happy for the 2 or three people who have stuck with it despite it’s flaws and hopefully I can redeem myself in PART TWO.
[NON SPOILER] COMPLIMENT SANDWICH: The general negatives are the characters, plot, and writing. The writing is sloppy, the plot isn’t always well thought out, and the characters are fairly hate-able.
POSITIVES: It’s not consistently bad. There are a lot of cool moments and I can certainly manage a good turn of phrase every now and then. Also, the characters are hate-able but they aren’t bland at least. And things do get interesting in the last couple chapters of Part One, as far as plot goes. Plus the chapters aren’t long; I try to keep them at around two pages (in MS Word).
THE FUTURE: As of now, I’ve stopped working on Theo Plays to Win. I have a decent amount of material for Part Two written but It’s nowhere near the end, and I stop it at a fairly strange spot. Nonetheless I am going to continue writing this story until I get to said stopping point. As for the content of Part Two…
[PROBABLE MILD SPOILERS] PART TWO SNEAK PEAK: I am doing a bit of a reset, but unlike in my other stories I’ve published on HF (which are no longer available) this is not an arbitrary “I don’t know how to continue” type of reset. This is entirely part of the story and will provide a lot of shake-ups to the setting and characters as well as the lore as a whole. That being said I am still struggling with the main character of Part Two who is not Theo. She has the opposite problem that Theo does. Theo was a spiteful little spitfire whereas the Part Two lead is a complete blank slate with zero personality. Luckily the side characters somewhat makeup for that.
You might be thinking “Why’s the story called Theo Plays to Win when Theo isn’t even the main character anymore?” Well, she is still in the story. There is a five year time jump between the end of Part One and beginning of Part Two. She’s got her own mission which will eventually bring her back into the narrative, if I ever get to that point. And some of the other mysteries and characters set up in Part One will slowly come back into focus as well, if I get to it.
AUTHOR'S LOGS: I've been doing these about every three chapters or as a placeholder for when I don't feel like posting that week in order to keep the views coming. I also had hoped to use them as a Q&A section but there haven't been any comments which is a bit disappointing. I feel like a YouTuber talking to his one subscriber as if he has a thousand. It's just sad. I'd like to say these are going to be more infrequent from now on but I'm not great at keeping those sorts of promises.
A FEW IDLE THOUGHTS: I recently discovered AI "Art" and I'm having a blast playing with it. I feel like I'm way behind the times but it's novel to me, and I realized it'll be a lot cheaper to generate that for my covers than paying someone to do it (if I don't have something specific in mind). At the very least it'll be good for inspiring ideas. I often wonder how people get covers done so fast and I guess this must be what I've been missing.
**(3/23) I'd like to walk back what I just said about Ai Art being the reason covers are produced so quickly. That comment could possibly be misconstrued. I am aware that a lot of people on here are Author/Artists and can create their own covers just fine without such assistance. However, it does seem like more people have covers than don't and so I'm sure there are some people who take advantage of such tools when pressed for time/money. That's all.**
Speaking of speed, how the heck do people get hundreds of views within like an hour of posting their first story? I've seen it a handful of times, the'll get a hundred views in like an hour. Some people have had other successful stories so I'm like, "okay, I get it" but then some haven't posted anything and boom, two or three hundred clicks (clicks is probably more accurate than views now that I think about it) right away. What is that about?!? It's not even reads we're talking about here, no one even knows the content of the story they're clicking on but somehow there are some stories that attract people's immediate attention and others that don't. It seems entirely random. What is the secret? I'm certainly not jealous or anything...
SUBMITTED ART: Before I wrap things up I had one last thing I wanted to say. One person did submit art and I added it to the showcase, I think. I'm not sure if it's says who submitted it, I think it might but I haven't looked. I'll keep it anonymous here just in case. I wanted to thank that person. I wasn't sure what to make of it at first to be honest. I knew who it was, both the person who submitted and that the character was Theo, it's just that I didn't know if I should accept it. First of all, I didn't know what AI Art was so I thought it was a really high quality image that this person had spent a whole bunch of time working on, but I had a dilemma. I was having the cover made at the same time and I wasn't sure I wanted to two different art styles/character designs on display. At the time I wanted all the art associated with this story to be in a consistent style. I've since flipped on the idea; after a brief discussion with the cover artist I decided to accept the submitted art. I really wish there was a chat feature on HF because I was mulling the whole thing over for like a week and I didn't know what the artist would think about the delay and I really wanted to apologize and explain the situation to him at the time (and as far as I know he isn't on the HF discord, I only did a brief search but couldn't find him, it's possible he might have a different name over there). All that aside, thank you for taking any time at all to make illustrations for my story, I really appreciate it. That goes for anyone else submitting art in the future as well.
WRAP-UP: And that about wraps up my thoughts for Part One. For those who have already read my story in its entirety, I am very grateful. For those who haven’t read it or only read the first couple chapters I hope I’ve managed to convince you to push on a bit further. Thank you.
PART TWO STARTS ON MONDAY!
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