Saturday, January 17, 2015

Bottling and Saving your Story Inspirations


 I wish I had all the time in the world to write. And read, for that matter. Truth is, I have other interests to spread my time around on. Notice I didn't say: I have a life. Outside of reading and writing that is. Sometimes I do. In the dead of winter, however, it isn't much of one... life, I mean.

*Awkward clearing of throat.

Anyway, I digress...

Having finished my word count and then some today, I was still feeling very creative so I took a scroll through my new story ideas folder. What a shame such brilliance is sitting idle! (I kid, not everything is brilliant... or even that great).

However, I particularly liked this one, entitled Two Jacks and a Jill. Believe it or not, this one came entirely from an awesome dream. (I honestly think half of those ideas are dream sparked.)

Two Jacks and a Jill:

What chance does a runaway princess and two jesters have against a mad man with dark suspicious powers on a fast path to take over the throne? As much chance as turning a handkerchief into a dove. Which is good, because that's what these twins do for a living. If dark sorcery is taking over the land and stealing loyalty to the throne, the twins see no fault in countering it with some innocent deception and a few minor magic tricks. But when abra ca dabra comes to shove, it's going to take more than pulling a rabbit out of a hat to save the throne…

I think I'd been picturing the Harries twins faces in the role of the Jesters. One's named Jack after all...

But what I liked most about that one was how it read like an enticing back cover blurb. 

Unfortunately, most of my ideas don't. 

But they do usually include whatever originally sparked the idea. 

-Now, if that was a dream (not gonna lie) the description of the idea, typed up first thing when I'm still groggy in the morning, is usually vague and more than a little strange (haha!)

-If it was a picture on pinterest, I include it with a small pitch to make me remember my idea:

-Often it's dialogue, conversations or scenarios that spark the idea. In those cases, my story pitches can read like plays, scenes or snippets (not unlike this one).

-Sometimes my ideas are just questions, usually elaborated afterwards (for my poor memory's benefit) like this one:

Guardian of the water castle

What's wrong with sneaking out of boarding school and living alone in an abandon castle? Nothing. So long as that castle is, indeed, abandoned.

(Again, included is the picture that sparked the idea.) 

-Occasionally, my ideas (presumably the better ones) are flushed out as far as the three act plan or more.
(This is a modern day one that I have been thinking about a lot lately and would really like to start!)

-BY FAR the most frustrating ones are the ones sparked by concepts or notions I find curious and could imagine a thought provoking story behind, but only have my vague concepts or notions to record. Still, the potential there makes these some of the most interesting.

The Villian's Story:

A seemingly perfect utopian world, disrupted by the main character, who seems a little off, and dark. The consequences of his actions lead to a tumble of everything that’s good and at the end, a seed of something inherently bad, with 99% good surrounding it, is exposed at the heart of this world and we are left to wonder if the main character is not evil, but good. Afterwards, even he’s lost hope in himself  (thinking himself the villain) even though we, as the readers, have not...

As you can read, there is no real story to go by using that description. I don't even have a clue about my lead character! Since I tend to struggle with conclusions and climaxes, most of my ideas are rather open ended in their pitches (hate that!) but this? Talk about vague concepts...

All in all, of the 30+ story idea pitches, I think 3 or 4 could be worth the write, but I still feel like these ideas are worth saving and collecting. I never would have remembered them all if I hadn't saved them the moment they entered my disorganized brain, and very often the ideas contained within those pitches slip over into my other plot lines.

In addition to this folder, I also have my ALL IDEAS folder, which has all kinds of nonsense, from villain motives, to emotional conflicts and vague scenarios and so on. 

I also have a page of opening lines, which I love adding to when I'm in a creative mood. After all, that first line has to pack a punch!
Here's a few, as examples:

 She had the biggest black eye I'd ever seen.

I'd loved him forever, I just didn't know it until that day.

There's something very sour about the smell of blood.

Finally and probably most obviously, pinterest is THE stomping grounds for collecting visual creative ideas, doesn't matter what your creative tastes are. I have a massive board entitled Imagination that I browse when I'm looking for that spark. So many stories could be written influenced from a single expression!

Obviously, we writers can draw inspiration from positively anything, but hopefully I've inspired you to bottle yours for later, even the dumb ones.

Because you never know...

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Do I Know You?

"Do I know you?"
"I, ah,” she hesitated, “We—“
“Please don’t say something corny like, ‘from my dreams’.”
She looked insulted. “Why would I say that?”
“Because you’ve been staring at me like I’m your celebrity crush for the last half hour.”
She crossed and uncrossed her legs on the seat across from me. “That’s close, but not exactly true.”
“And what is that strange cryptic answer supposed to mean?”
“You’re very full of yourself aren’t you?” Her embarrassment was turning to annoyance.
I cocked an eyebrow. “Wouldn’t that be true of everybody?” She rolled her eyes before glancing nervously at the conductor striding the isle. Then she leaned over her bag, whispering, “I can’t believe you don’t remember.”
I wanted to respond to this strange girl with more sarcasm, but her green eyes were so sincere they made me nervous. Suddenly I knew she was right. There was something I wasn’t remembering.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

The Punishment of a Thief - Story Snippet

“She stole them, just like a common thief. And so she deserves the punishment of a thief.” The vigil grabbed Meri’s hand and yanked her forward. By the time I reacted, he had already withdrawn a hefty cleaver in preparation of separating the girl’s tiny hand from her wrist.
“Wait, wait, wait!” I pushed between them, catching a glimpse of Meri’s face. It had gone whiter than her old chemise.
“You can’t deny this boy,” the vigil grumbled.
“I know. In fact I agree with you. She definitely should be punished.” I cast a glare over my shoulder where Meri was attempting to hide behind me. Her eyes bugged up at me in disbelief, but I was serious. Maybe she would finally start listening to me after this lesson.
“But you have your scrolls back unharmed, so you’ve not lost anything. Why inflict a punishment where she looses her hand when you’re not out anything at all? That wouldn’t be fair.”
“Last I checked this world ain’t fair boy.” The vigil yanked Meri out from behind me, hauling her hand towards a chopping block. I leapt forward, taking her fisted hand clutched in front of the vigil’s iron grip and prying her fist open. “Here,” I said, working to make my voice sound reasonable instead of panicked. “Why don’t we compromise. You can break her fingers instead.”
“Darren!” Meri’s voice was an incredulous squeak, and she fought my hold on her fingers, trying to knot them back into a fist.
“How many scrolls was it? Two?” I pried two of Meri’s slender little fingers open. “Here, I’ll even let you do it on her right hand. That ought to teach her a good lesson, don’t you think?”
“Darren!” I felt Meri’s left hand punching at my shoulder. “How dare you!”
The vigil stared at her slender little fingers. “I suppose,” he said finally. He dropped the cleaver, releasing Meri’s wrist and reaching instead for an intimidating looking club. Inwardly, I breathed a sigh of relief, though the size of the club he hefted made us both freeze. Meri composed herself faster than I did, yanking her hand out of my grip and backpedaling away. She stopped hesitantly behind me, like a doe poised to run. The vigil made to rush her, but I raised my hands in front of his barrel sized chest, halting his pursuit.
“Stealing the scrolls was my idea. She did it on my orders.” I scowled over my shoulder, catching her brief look of surprise at my blatant lie. “Maybe next time she will follow my orders properly and not get caught!” My disappointment in her was real, but not for those reasons. Almost before I had finished speaking, the vigil had my wrist in his meaty fist and was slamming it down roughly on the chopping block. I closed my eyes. It was all I could do to keep my fingers splayed open. As he raised his club, I turned my face and quickly stuffed the collar of my vest into my mouth, biting down hard on the leather.
“Wait!” Meri cried from behind, her voice weak with guilt. Her cry was a bit late. The crunching of bones in my knuckles reached my ears a split second before the pain registered in my brain. My scream came out as a tremendous grunt around the leather in my mouth. He released my wrist and I immediately pulled my hand protectively to my chest, sinking to my knees on the forest floor. I spit out my vest but continued to grind my teeth as my head dipped towards the ground. My eyes were tight shut, I couldn’t bare to look at my mangled hand. Despite the spread of my fingers, I was sure his massive club had broken them all, instead of only two. I tried to comfort myself against the fact that they were still attached, as opposed to loosing a hand entirely, but it was a small comfort against the tremors of pain rushing through my trembling hand. I was vaguely aware of Meri crouching over me, her little hands gently coaxing my injured fingers out for her inspection. I wanted to hate her, just like I had this morning when I discovered she’d stole those scrolls, but all I felt for her was relief. Her delicate little hands were still as flawless as ever. Besides she was crying. You can’t hate a female that cries over you like a wounded hero. Dislike maybe, but that was nothing new between us. Maybe if she would finally cease ruining my mission, we could move past that.
“I’m so sorry Darren,” she sobbed, opening my bloody hand. “I should never have—your sword hand,” she suddenly realized. “How will you complete your mission now?” I was wondering the same thing, but instead of yelling that she could have thought of that before she stole those scrolls, I sucked in a deep breath and said something about drilling with my left hand for awhile. Meri was crying pretty hard now. I was almost convinced she may have learned her lesson and would start minding my words from now on. Almost.


So, it's a new year, and yet it's still my 2013 year's manuscript that haunts the top of my WIP pile. But I'm not here to whine on about that fact. Obviously, I failed at NaNoWriMo. I wasn't happy about that, but realistically, November is a typically a very busy month for me. So I shrug that failure off and look to my new calender pages with a big hopeful inhale. For that current WIP, I've set my bar nice and reachable at a mere 500 words a day, though hopefully I will push myself harder than that (*snorts of laughter*).

Over on Goodreads (hey! friend me if you use that awesome site!) I've been looking over the books I read in 2014. The top of my recommendation pile came quite late this year, finishing up on Christmas day. I'm sorry, but if you haven't read this series, I'm afraid we can't be friends. And anyway, no friend would know about the awesomeness of this trilogy and withhold it from you, so I'm sharing. Telling, actually. Telling you to read these!!

The Ascendance Trilogy by Jennifer A. Nielsen.

There you go. Thank me. Your new year has just been made!

Finally, I just uploaded a new snippet on my DeviantArt journal and facebook so you should follow me there too, if my words interest you. And even if they don't. You could just do it because you like me too. :)