DAY #31: A Modified “NaNoWriMo” Challenge (Write 15 Minutes of Garbage Every Day)

So, I’ve crossed the 30 day mark of my challenge, but I want to keep on writing my young adult fantasy satire.  What scenes am I missing?  Well, I think I need a scene where Charlie Weaver stumbles into “The magical” world.  But how?

I’m torn on this one.  There are so many options.  Should it be accidental?  Like Alice in Wonderland falling down the rabbit hole or Gregor the Overlander falling down a hole in the laundry room.  Or should it be intentional?  Like Harry Potter running into a wall on Platform 9 and 3/4.  Decisions, decisions….  I may try a few different things, so fortunately (or unfortunately) for you readers, you’ll get to see me throwing Charlie Weaver into a variety of “Gateway To Another World” situations.

I’ll start with the most absurd one first:  THE GATEWAY IS AT THE MALL!!!

As I watched one mother drag her wailing toddler from the play area, the lights flickered in warning.  Aunt Bertha slapped herself on the forehead head.  “Damn it.  Mall’s about to close.  I still gotta get me some of those pads for my shoes.  My corns are killin’ me,” she frowned at me as if I had caused her foot problems, before turning to my oldest cousin.  “Mary Jane, keep an eye on the kids.  I’ll be right back.”

“But Mama,” Mary Jane pouted, and tossed her head.  Her blond curls bounced, which was amazing considering how much stuff she sprayed on her head each day.  “I wanted to go with you to look at shoes.  Get Charlie to watch them.”

Aunt Bertha looked at me doubtfully.  Mary Jane pounced on her opportunity to saddle me with Susie and Tobey.  “They’ll be fine.  All he has to do is keep them in the play area,” she flashed a saccharine smile in my direction.  “Even Charlie can’t mess that up.”

“I don’t know,” I said nervously, as I watched Tobey shove Susie off of the large, plastic banana.  She landed head first on the carpet and started wailing.  When Tobey approached her, she slapped him across the face.  “I could mess that up.”

Mary Jane’s blue eyes narrowed.  “No, you won’t.  You’ll do a great job, won’t you?”  It was a threat.  She and her friends would beat the snot out of me at school if I messed this one up.

“Sure,” I swallowed.  “I’ll watch them Aunt Bertha.  You two go and get your stuff.  The kids will be fine.”

“Well, okay,” Aunt Bertha nodded and grabbed me by the shirt.  I could feel her long fingernails digging into my shoulder.  “Boy, you better watch ’em good or I’ll beat your ass when we git home.”

I nodded.  “Yes, ma’am.”  The moment Aunt Bertha and Mary Jane disappeared from our view, Tobey and Susie sprinted off of the playground.  In opposite directions.

“Crap,” I muttered, instinctively running after Susie.  For a toddler, she moved quickly.  She kicked me in the face as I dragged her out from under the display truck by the food court.  By the time I threw her over my shoulder, Tobey was no where in sight.

“Son of a,” I said, as Susie pulled my hair.  Her mouth clamped down on my shoulder.  I bit back an expletive when I felt her small, but very sharp teeth through my thin shirt.  “No, Susie,” I said sternly, swinging her down from my shoulder and holding her at arm’s length.  “Stop it.”

“Fuck, fuck,” Susie shrieked, pointing at the truck.  Tears streamed down her rosy cheeks.  She looked like an angel in distress.  An older woman walked by me and scowled.

I flushed.  “She’s trying to say the word truck,” I explained, before quickly walking away.  I shook off my embarrassment and racked my brain trying to remember Tobey’s favorite places in the mall.  I had to find him before Aunt Bertha did.

It suddenly occurred to me that he may have returned to the carousel at the opposite end of the mall.  He loved that thing.  I strapped Susie into the stroller, quickly gave her some Cheerios, and sprinted to the other end of the mall.  The carousel ticket booth was still open.  I ran up to the counter.

“Excuse me, have you seen a little boy who looks like this?”  I quickly pulled up a picture of Tobey on my phone.

The lady in the booth studied it for a moment and nodded.  “Oh, yeah.  He was just here.  Some lady took him to that store over there,” she replied, pointing to a store behind me.

My heart sank.  What lady?  “Thanks,” I muttered quickly and pushed the stroller towards the store.  The first thing that hit me was the smell.  It reeked of candles or some other flowery thing.  My eyes watered, but I pushed the stroller towards the back of the store, frantically looking for Tobey or the lady who had him.  “Tobey, where are you?”  I called out.  “It’s me.  Charlie.”

“Oh, there you are, Mr. Weaver,” a voice said behind me.  I whirled around and stared in shock.  “We’ve been expecting you.”

DAY #30: A Modified “NaNoWriMo” Challenge (Write 15 Minutes of Garbage Every Day)

Day 30.  OMG.  I’ve had so much fun that I don’t want this to stop…..  As I’ve said in other posts, I’m going to continue to write this story about Charlie Weaver and blatantly follow the stereotypical young adult fantasy story patterns.  I think the story needs a “Luke Skywalker” moment, so here goes:

After the last monster disappeared, Paw Paw Joe and I stumbled into the empty museum cafe.  I pulled out a seat at the first table we saw.  He gratefully sank into it.  I ran to the counter and grabbed a pile of napkins.  Paw Paw Joe lifted his jacket.  I could see the blood from where the demon’s sword pierced him.

“We need to get you to the hospital,” I said, pressing the napkins to the gaping wound.  The injury was worse than I thought.

He winced slightly, before shaking his head.  “No.  There’s no time.  I’ll be okay.  I just need a few moments.”

“A few moments,” I said, frowning at him.  He was acting like this was a paper cut.  “This is serious.  You need a doctor.”

Paw Paw actually laughed, before gasping in pain.  “Charlie, no doctor in this realm can save me from this,” he said, chuckling.  His breathing was getting raspy.  I wasn’t sure if the blood loss was affecting his mind.

“Okay, Paw Paw.  No arguing.  Let’s get you to the hospital,” I muttered, placing one of Paw Paw’s arms around my neck.  When I lifted him to his feet, Paw Paw cried out.

“Boy, let me be,” Paw Paw said softly, pushing me away.  He sank back down onto the seat  “If you just leave me alone for a few moments, I’ll be fine.”  I started to protest, he help up his hand.  “Enough,” he said more resolutely.  The severity of his tone startled me.  When I stared into his face, I swear I watched his blue eyes turn brown.

He closed his eyes and started breathing deeply.  Like he was doing yoga or something.  I’m not sure why, but I remained silent.  There was something about his rhythmic breathing that captivated my attention.  My skin tingled as the air hummed with an energy that I didn’t understand.  After what seemed like an eternity, Paw Paw opened his eyes and smiled at me.  “There.  That should hold me until we get you out of here.”

“What are you talking about?” I managed to ask, struggling to keep my eyelids open.  My words were slurred.  It felt as if I had been rudely woken up from deep slumber.  I just wanted to crawl under the table and go back to sleep.

Paw Paw grinned at me, and held his coat open.  He pushed the tatters of his shirt to one side so that I could get a better look.  His wound had closed off completely.  The only thing remaining was a large, jagged scab.

“Yeah, I know it isn’t pretty.  But that’s the best I could do under the circumstances,” Paw Paw said as he stood up and stretched.  I watched him twist his torso from one side to the other, without any evidence of pain.  “We need to get out of here.”

I just stared at him, speechless.  Paw Paw looked at least two or three decades younger than he did a few minutes earlier.  His gray hair was dark, his pale, leathery skin was tawny and supple, and his blue eyes were definitely brown.  I did a double-take and gaped when I realized that I was facing a completely different man.

“Who are you?”  I whispered in horror.  Had the demon’s sword infected him?  Had the attack changed him into something else?  “You’re not Paw Paw Joe.”

“No, I’m not.  I mean, I was, but not really,” the man who was called Paw Paw Joe smiled at me.  “I’ve never really been Paw Paw Joe.  It was just a ruse.  My real name is Vyasa.”  He knelt before me.  “You are my ward.  I vowed to protect you with my life, Sire.”

“Sire?” I repeated, feeling lightheaded.  Now it was my turn to plop down on the chair.  “Why did you just call me that?  And protect me from what?”

“Those creatures that attacked us,” Paw Paw started.  He waited for me to nod before he continued.  “They’re called Asuras.”  At my confused look, he elaborated.  “I guess you might call them demons in this realm.”

“But I don’t understand,” I said, shaking my head in confusion.  “What do they want with me?”

“Well,” Paw Paw Joe, or Vyasa, or whatever his name, was said slowly.  “You’re a Deva, Charlie.”

“A Deva?”  I repeated, as I racked my brains, trying to determine if I had ever heard of that word before.  It sounded familiar, but I just couldn’t place it.  “Like, a god?”

“Humans,” Paw Paw Joe sighed, shaking his head.  “They always have to make things so black and white.”  He placed a hand on my shoulder and tilted his head in the direction of the Asian art display.  “Sire, I would tell you everything if I could, but we have to get moving.  More of them are coming.”

“But,” I protested.  I didn’t want to go anywhere without knowing what was going on.  “Why do you keep calling me Sire?”

“I’m sorry, Sire, but the Asuras know of your existence now,” he said.  The concern on his face was obvious.  “They’ll send more warriors.  I’ll need help to protect you.”

My mind was in turmoil.  I only know part of what was going on, and I could barely understand it.  Who would believe us enough to help?  “Where are we going?”

“To find your father,” he replied quietly.

Young Adult Fantasy Story Patterns

Patterns.  I love finding them.  Especially in young adult fantasy books.

For the past week, I’ve had a lot of fun writing a story (Charlie Weaver and the Prophecy of Doom) that satirizes all of the popular young adult fantasy books that I’ve read.  I’ve reached an impasse, so I wanted to jot down a few notes regarding the “stereotypical” patterns that I’ve witnessed in these books.  (And naturally, I plan on mocking these “typical” scenes in my story about Charlie Weaver.  Get it?  Harry POTTER, Charlie WEAVER?  A Potter and A Weaver? HAHAHAHA.)

The story patterns are as follows:

THE HERO IS A BRAVE, LIKABLE YOUNG PERSON WITH PROBLEMS

  1. Star Wars:  Luke Skywalker is an ORPHAN; he’s treated well, but held back from pursuing his dreams by his uncle.
  2. Harry Potter:  Harry Potter is an ORPHAN; he’s treated horribly by his aunt and uncle
  3. Percy Jackson:  Percy has been labeled as a “troubled” kid; he’s being raised by a single mother and continually kicked out of schools.
  4. Gregor the Overlander:  Gregor’s father disappeared; his mother is struggling to hold things together.

THE HERALDS ARRIVAL:  A MESSAGE FROM THE “OTHER” WORLD

  1. Star Wars:  R2D2/C3PO deliver Leia’s message to Luke Skywalker
  2. Harry Potter:  Hagrid arrives and tells Harry that he’s a wizard
  3. Percy Jackson:  Grover helps get Percy to safety at Camp Half-Blood

THE PRESENCE OF EVIL:  SOMEONE IS AFTER THE HERO

  1. Star Wars:  Storm troopers kill Luke’s aunt and uncle
  2. Percy Jackson:  Something evil actually attacks Percy in a museum
  3. Harry Potter:  Voldemort’s ally (Quirrel) try to kill Harry Potter
  4. Gregor:  Rats try to kill all Overlanders

CLUELESS HERO IS SUDDENLY AWARE THAT HE IS “SPECIAL”

  • Star Wars:  Obi Wan tells Luke that his father was a Jedi
  • Harry Potter:  Hagrid tells Harry that he’s a wizard
  • Percy Jackson:  Percy learns at Camp Half-Blood that he’s a demi-god
  • Gregor the Overlander:  Vikus tells Gregor that he’s the warrior of the prophecy

HERO ENTERS A MAGICAL WORLD THAT NEEDS HIS/HER HELP (PROPHECY!!!)

  1. Luke Skywalker will bring balance to the Force.  (Prophecy!)
  2. Harry Potter’s fate is intertwined with Voldemort’s (Prophecy!!)
  3. Percy Jackson must solve the riddle of the Oracle (PROPHECY!!!)
  4. Gregor is the warrior of the…..wait for it….  PROPHECY!!!!

Do you see what I’m talking about?  Strip away the context of these stories, and you see patterns replayed OVER AND OVER again.

I FEEL LIKE MOCKING THE PATTERNS……  Hee, hee, hee.

DAY #29: A Modified “NaNoWriMo” Challenge (Write 15 Minutes of Garbage Every Day)

It’s Day 29 of this self-imposed 30-day writing challenge.  I’m having so much fun writing this story (Working Title:  “Charlie Weaver and the Magical Object of Doom”), that I’m going to continue writing it as long as I can.  At least through the end of November.

I’m going to back off from Charlie Weaver and the telepathic “Yoda” cows to return to Shivani, Charlie and the dwarf attack.  I think this story needs a prophecy, so here goes (starting with a few lines from Day 26):

“Oh, my God,” Shivani said, clenching her hands into fists.  “What on Earth is the point of this committee?”

“This isn’t Earth, dear,” Professor Pedantic said gently.  “You’re in Bharat.  Poor thing.  Do you need Miss Prissy’s smelling salts?”

Shivani scowled at Professor Pedantic.  Before she could reply, we heard a loud cry.  “AAAAAAAIIIIIIIEEEEEE!!!!!!!”

Shivani and I whirled around.  We looked out the window just in time to see a dwarf flying through the air towards the castle.  Both of us gasped as he slammed into the wall.  Director Fussybottom quickly approached the window.  We watched the dwarf slide down the wall into the moat.

“Heavens,” exclaimed Mistress Prissy Pants, placing one pudgy hand on her ample bosom.  “What was that?”

“The dwarves have some sort of contraption,” Director Fussybottom muttered, as he stared out the window.  Swarms of dwarfs were pushing a large wooden platform with wheels on it.  A small dwarf scrambled into something that looked like a scoop.

Shivani expelled a snort of disgust.  “It’s a catapult.  Don’t you people know anything?”

“Catapult?”  I said, bracing myself for her reply.  Shivani always tossed out these strange terms from her realm.  Sometimes, I had a feeling that she thought we were stupid for not understanding them.

“That poor little dwarf,” Shivani muttered, leaning halfway out the window.  “I hope he’s okay.”

Three dwarves jumped into the moat and dragged the unconscious one onto land.  One large dwarf scowled up at us from the other side of the moat.  When he saw us watching him from the tower window, he shook his fist and yelled something at us.  But we couldn’t hear what he was saying.

“A dwarf hit the wall,” Professor Pedantic repeated.  His ruddy cheeks turned pale as exchanged glances with Director Fussybottom.  “You know what this means, right?”

“Oh, no,” Mistress Prissy Pants whispered.  Her eyes widened.  “The prophecy?”

“Prophecy?”  Shivani repeated, as she returned to the table.  She crossed her arms and snickered.  “Well, this should be good.”

“What prophecy?” I asked with trepidation.  My body tensed.  Prophecies always meant trouble for heroes like myself.

“No,” Director Fussybottom shook his head.  “It can’t be.”

“But it makes sense,” Professor Serenity replied.  Her face suddenly looked weary.  “I hate to admit it, but Pedantic may be right.”

The walls of the tower shook as another dwarf slammed into the castle wall.  Their aim was getting better.

“Oh, dear,” Miss Prissy wailed.  Her lower lip began to quiver again.  “Loud noises wreak havoc on my nerves.  I may have to lie down if this doesn’t stop soon.”

“Will someone please tell me what’s going on?  What prophecy?”  Shivani demanded.

Director Fussybottom sighed and walked over to his large desk at the opposite end of the room.  He opened the top drawer and pulled out something before walking back to us at the table.  As we stood up and gathered around him, he unrolled a scroll.  A very old, faded, dusty scroll of yellow parchment paper.  He read the words out loud:

Roses are red

Violets are blue

This is a prophecy

So it must be true

There were murmurs of agreement.  This prophecy was filled with wisdom.  I didn’t want to miss a single word, so I focused all of my attention on the crumpled piece of paper as Fussybottom continued.

Beware of the dwarf

When it first hits the wall

It’s a sign of life changes

For one and for all

“Heavens,” Miss Prissy gasped, reaching for her smelling salts.  She opened her mouth to say something, but Director Fussybottom held up his hand.  She remained silent as he continued.

A Warrior, A Weaver

A Seer and More

Must follow the call

And walk out the door

Some will live

Some will die

Some will smile

Some will cry

What more can I say

To those in this room

Go on this quest

Or perish in doom

The Elders all stared at each other in horror as the words of the prophecy registered.  My mind whirled as I tried to make sense of it.

“Let me see this,” Shivani said, snatching up the parchment to study it closely.

“But what does this mean?”  Miss Prissy whimpered, reaching into her bag.  She pulled out a large handkerchief and dabbed at her eyes.  “Are we all going to die?”

“Wait a second.  It mentioned something about a weaver,” I said, frowning.  My stomach started to churn as I realized something profound.  “My name is Charlie Weaver.  Am I the weaver in this prophecy?”

“Oh, for goodness sakes,” Shivani said, waving the prophecy at us.  “Have any of you really looked at this?  Whoever wrote it has really bad handwriting.”  She rolled her golden eyes.  “And it’s written in crayon.  How am I supposed to take this seriously?”

I could tell that Shivani wasn’t taking this prophecy very seriously.  “Shivani, this isn’t funny.  You’re a warrior and I’m a weaver.  We need to go on this quest.”

“Well done, Charlie,” Professor Pedantic nodded with approval.  I admit that I glowed under his compliment.  “I think you’ve interpreted one part of the prophecy.”

“What quest?”  Shivani started laughing.  Tears streamed out of her eyes.  “The whole thing is ridiculous.  Where are we supposed to go?  What are we looking for?  The whole thing is a complete joke.”  She plopped down on a chair, laughing hysterically.

The Elders all stared at Shivani, some with open disapproval.  Professor Pedantic shook his head.  “These are matters for the committee to evaluate,” he said, which sent Shivani into another fit of laughter.

“You may think this is a joke, Miss Roy, but we take our prophecies very seriously in Bharat,” Director Fussybottom said sternly.

DAY #28: A Modified “NaNoWriMo” Challenge (Write 15 Minutes of Garbage Every Day)

It’s Day 28 of this self-imposed 30-day writing challenge.  I may be the only one who finds this entertaining, but since I’m laughing my ass off as I write this, I’m going to continue the story of “Charlie Weaver and the Magical Object of Doom” from yesterday….  (a.k.a. A satire of Harry Potter/Percy Jackson/Gregor The Overlander)  I’ll start off with a few sentences from yesterday and continue to take this story to a whole new level of absurdity/stupidity:

The walk to the pasture was at least one mile.  I kept staring at the hole in the bucket as I munched on the biscuits.  There was no way I could carry all of that milk without losing it to the hole.  Aunt Bertha would beat the living daylights out of me if I came back with less than a pail of milk.  But what could I use to patch up the bucket?

I was so worried about the hole that I didn’t notice that I was being watched.

As I walked through our grazing pasture, I looked around for our milking cow, Clarabelle.  She was nowhere to be seen.  I had a sinking feeling that she may have wandered off again.  My fears were confirmed when I saw the broken boards in the fence surrounding my family’s small property.

“Clarabelle,” I called out, as I hopped over the fence.  This wasn’t good.  Our neighbor, Mr. O’Toole, had already threatened to shoot Clarabelle the next time he caught her eating any of his prize-winning squash.  I had to find her before he did.

“Here, girl,” I shouted, as I landed in a large, ankle-deep puddle.  Although I was wearing Paw Paw’s knee-high rubber boots, which offered some protection, my pants were already splattered with mud.  I made a mental note to hose myself off before going to school.  “Clarabelle, where are you, girl?”

Suddenly, I heard a voice in my head.  I’m over here, Charlie Weaver.  By the golden apple tree on the hill.

I don’t know why, but something mysterious prompted me to run towards the tree.  The voice was right.  Lo and behold, there was Clarabelle, calmly munching on some apples.  The large brown cow looked at me reproachfully.  What took you so long?  My udder is full.

I stopped and stared at her.  Did her lips just move?  As I scratched my head, thoroughly confused, I wondered what was wrong with me.  Was I hallucinating?  Why could I understand what Clarabelle was thinking?

Clarabelle made a sound like a moan.  Well, Charlie, don’t just stand there like a gawking at me like a ninny.  Milk me.  She swung her head towards the tree.  There’s a stool over there.  Hurry up.

Something propelled me to grab the stool from under the tree, set the pail down, and start milking her.  Clarabelle emitted a loud sigh of relief.  In the middle of milking, I heard a noise behind me.  It sounded like mooing.

Who be your friend, Clarabelle?

Your friend, who he be?

Two beautiful Jersey cows walked around me and stood on either side of Clarabelle.  The larger one was all black, while the other one had a shiny black coat with large white spots.  They both watched me with eyes that were surprisingly human in expression.

Clarabelle mooed her response.  That’s Charlie Weaver.  He’s my caretaker.

The cow with the spots watched me as I finished milking Clarabelle.  She turned to Clarabelle and tilted her head in my direction.  Milk me, can he?  Full udder I have.

And I also, Clarabelle.  Full udder I also have.

I wiped the sweat from my forehead before pulling the pail out from under Clarabelle.  The milk immediately started to leak from the hole in the bucket.  I quickly placed my thumb over it and wondered how I would make it all the way back to the house without losing any milk.

Thank you, Charlie Weaver.  Can you milk my friends as well?

A loud guttural sound emitted crossed my lips without effort.  It took me a few moments to realize that I was conversing with the cows in their native tongue.  In short, I was mooing my responses.

“I’m sorry, Clarabelle, but I can’t.  My bucket is full,” I held up the pail and tapped it with the side of my head.  “Although it won’t be full for long, because of this stupid hole.”

Clarabelle looked at me thoughtfully for a moment before speaking again.  If I can fix your bucket, will you milk my friends?

I looked at the sun rising in the East.  Based on its position in the sky, I estimated that I had a few hours before school started.  So I shrugged.  “Sure, I can milk your friends too.  But how will I carry their milk in this bucket?  Should I dump yours out?”

No, no, Clarabelle shook her head and spat out an apple core.  You must keep all of the milk that you collect in your bucket.  You will need it later.

I had no idea what she was talking about.  “Well, whatever,” I shrugged again, swiping my sweaty forehead with my sleeve.  “I’ve got school, so let’s just get this done.  Which of you wants to go first?”

The cow with the white spots approached me after Clarabelle moved away from the stool.  First I will go.

The other cow nodded and stepped behind her.  Go you shall first.

I began milking the cow with the white spots.  I could feel a surge of adrenaline as I reached for her teat.  When the first drops of milk hit the pail, an eerie calm settled over me.  I just lowered my head and focused on the milk.

Even though I was consumed by the milk, a part of me could still feel the tremors of the earth as a herd of cattle descended on our group.  Voices echoed in my head.  Milk you he will.

And I did.  It felt as if time stood still.  I just kept on milking one cow after another until no more cows stood in front of the stool.  After the last cow walked off into the meadow, I collapsed onto the ground.  I felt utterly exhausted after milking what must have been over 100 cows.

Clarabelle nudged my foot with her nose.  You have our gratitude, Charlie Weaver.

Both of the Jersey cows nodded their agreement.  Our gratitude you have, Charlie Weaver.

A boon we will give you.

Give you a boon, we will.

As I lay in the cool, comforting mud, I stared up at the sky and whispered,  “What’s a boon?”

Clarabelle, to her credit, did not roll her large brown eyes at me.  “A gift for your services.”

My Thoughts on Writing From The Gut

A few months ago, I downloaded a sample of the book Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold.  It’s a story about a young teenage girl who is raped and murdered.  What makes the book especially compelling is that the story is told from the perspective of the young girl as she witnesses her family’s response to her tragic death from heaven.  Several of my friends have raved about it and it’s a NY Times bestseller.  Although the premise is incredibly distasteful to me, I finally read the sample last week.

The first chapter was so horrifying that at first, I couldn’t understand why it was a best seller.  It took me about a week to calm down after reading it.  This definitely isn’t my type of story, but I can appreciate what a good writer Alice Sebold is.  Her writing evoked such a strong emotional response that it made me sick to my stomach.

So it made me think about how I’ve been approaching my own writing.  I’ve been focused on writing from the heart.  What about writing from the gut?

What’s the difference?  That’s a fair question.  For some people, maybe there’s no difference.  For me, my romance and “feel good” stories are from the heart.  Stories from the gut put the reader through an emotional wringer.  They are far more visceral than stories from the heart because they tap into more primitive instincts.  I think that first chapter from Lovely Bones was a good example of writing from the gut.  When that girl is attacked and killed in the first chapter, all I felt was primal rage.  I wanted to hurt the guy who would hurt a young girl.  I trust that anyone with a spark of humanity would feel the same way.

So, I wanted to see if I could write a scene that evoked a similar visceral response from a reader.  I have a general idea for a story and a character named Shivani Roy.  We’re still getting acquainted with each other.  In fact, I’m not even sure how old she is yet, but for the sake of this exercise, let’s assume that she’s fourteen years old.  In this writing exercise, I threw her into a “visceral” situation to see how she’d handle herself.

My “visceral” situation was inspired by a recent news story.  Have any of you read about the Jared Fogle situation?  You know, the Subway dude and his illicit activities with underage girls?  After spending a few weeks screaming obscenities each time I drove by a Subway, I finally decided to channel my rage into a more productive activity.  I wrote out a scene between a guy like him and my kick-ass protagonist, Shivani Roy.  Here it is:  Shivani Roy and the Demon King of Lanka.

TO MY READERS:  If you took the time to read the story, thank you.  I’d love to get your feedback.  Did this story make you mad?  I hope it inspires you to channel some of your outrage into your own stories from the gut.  If so, please share them with me!  I’d love to read them.

Shivani Roy And The Demon King Of Lanka (Chapter 1?)

He’s coming for you.  The hairs on the back of her neck stood straight up. Shivani muttered an expletive and scrambled out of the shower.  She barely had time to throw on an oversized t-shirt and jeans before he barged into her bedroom.

Mick Anderson plopped himself on her bed.  The mattress bowed under his considerable weight.  “Hey, kid, where’ve you been?  I haven’t seen you in awhile.”

That’s because I’ve been avoiding you, Shivani thought as she reached for the towel on the dresser.  Her long dark hair was still dripping from the shower.  There was a wet spot on the front of her shirt.  She shrugged nonchalantly, despite the growing anxiety in the pit of her stomach.  “Oh, really?  I’ve been here the whole time.”

“You have?”  Mick stretched out on her bed and leaned his balding blond head against the headboard.  His pale blue eyes rested on her chest, as he patted the spot on the bed next to him.  “Well, why don’t you sit down and tell Uncle Mick what you’ve been up to all summer?”  

Shivani hunched her shoulders.  You are NOT my uncle, she thought viciously, and turned her back on him to face the mirror above her dresser.  The towel wasn’t drying her hair fast enough.  “Okay, just let me finish getting ready.”

“My goodness,” he drawled, swinging his legs over the side of the bed.  When he leaned forward, his bulbous gut hung over the waist of his tight pants.  “You certainly have grown a lot over the summer.  What are you?  Eighteen now?”

“I’m fourteen,” Shivani replied uneasily.  The room felt too hot.  Rivulets of sweat trickled down her back.  Both of her foster parents were still at work.  It would be a few hours before they returned home.  Her large brown eyes scanned the project cluttering the top of her desk as she walked over and placed the towel on the chair beside it.

Mick’s gaze swept her young, athletic body from head to toe, before traveling back up and finally settling on her full lips.  “Really?  You look like an eighteen year old,” he grinned at her, revealing pointed, yellow teeth.  “A really hot eighteen year old.”

Something in her head screamed at her to get out of the room.  The door was only a few steps away, but before Shivani could make a move, Mick heaved his mass off from the bed and lumbered towards her.  “You seem tense,” he commented.  “Do you want me to rub your back?”   He leaned over and rested his hands on the desk behind her.  Mick pressed his mouth to her ear.  “Or anything else?”

“Um, no, thank you,” Shivani replied.  The bile in her stomach rose as his hot, fetid breathe swept across her cheek.  She was trapped between Mick and the desk.  Maybe if she threw up on him, he would go away.  A part of her knew that this wasn’t true.  Mick didn’t care.  He had been waiting for this moment for a long time.  Shivani slipped under his arm, hoping to reach the bedroom door before he did.

For a large man, Mick moved fast.  He reached the door first.  His big body blocked her escape route.  “Where do you think you’re going?”

Shivani took a few deep breathes.  Was this really happening?  Her mind whirled, desperate for some excuse to leave.  Anything to just get away from this horrible man.  “Uh, I’ve got to get back to school.”

“It’s in the middle of summer.  Are you lying to me?”  Mick’s voice was suddenly quiet.  He stared at her as his frown deepened into a scowl.

Shivani backed away from him until she bumped against her desk.  Her hands rested on the craft materials on her desk.  “N-No,” she stammered.  “I’m taking summer classes.”

“I don’t believe you,” Mick said, moving until he stood inches away from her.  “A girl like you should be nice to me,” he said softly, as he leaned over and grabbed a fistful of dark hair from the back of her head.  Mick tugged on it until Shivani winced.  “Very nice to me.  Especially after everything my brother and his wife are doing for you.”

“You’re hurting me,” Shivani whispered, fighting back tears.  She closed her eyes.  “Please stop hurting me.”

Mick smiled, pleased.  “See, that wasn’t so hard, was it?  Being nice?  All I ask is that you be polite to me.”  He released his grip on her hair, but continued to pin her against the desk.  “Now, you were going to fill me in on what you’ve done all summer.  Do you have a boyfriend?”  He traced her cheek with one pudgy finger.

“No,” Shivani replied, trying not to visibly cringe.

“Really? A pretty girl like you?” His index finger rested under her chin as he stroked her lower lip with his thumb.  “I guess that’s good news for me.”

When one of Mick’s hands moved to her jeans, Shivani froze.  She remained immobilized with fear until a flurry of images flooded her mind.  Countless young girls struggling against Mick.  And losing.

Not this time.  As Shivani’s gaze narrowed, the color of her eyes changed from brown to liquid gold.  An inexplicable surge of energy shot through her body, tempering her fear.  Shivani squared her shoulders, as some primitive instinct took control of her body.

“It’s good news for me too,” Shivani said softly, placing a gentle hand on his cheek.  She looked at him through lowered lashes.  “I’ve been dreaming about this moment since the first time I saw you.”

Mick’s hands stopped moving.  His eyes widened in disbelief.  “What?”

“I can’t believe this is finally going to happen.”  Shivani’s voice was breathy.  Her fingers ran through Mick’s thinning hair.  “We’ll have to be quick, before your brother gets home.”

For one moment, Mick looked confused.  This obviously wasn’t playing out the way he had planned it.  “Really?”

“But, why don’t I take care of you first? You work so hard,” Shivani continued, cooing.   She licked her lips.  “Just close your eyes and relax.  I’ll handle everything.”

When Shivani pushed him back from the desk and started to unbutton his pants, Mick wasn’t sure if he was disappointed or excited.  Normally, it was the struggle that turned him on.  But the thought of Shivani’s lips on him was too much to resist.  “Oh, yeah,” he squeezed her shoulder and grinned at her.  “Thanks, baby.  That sounds good.”

Just as he tilted his head back and relaxed, Mick felt something press against his crotch.  When he opened his eyes, it was too late.  A loud noise cracked across the room.  Mick howled in pain.

Shivani continued to point and shoot the staple gun from her desk at his testicles.  After four more shots, Mick hunched over and grabbed his crotch in agony.  “You little bitch,” he gasped, “I’m going to kill you.”

When Mick lunged at her, Shivani sidestepped his reach and grabbed his hair.  She slammed his head into her desk repeatedly.  Just before he lost consciousness, Shivani smiled at him.  “I don’t think so.”

Shivani let go of Mick’s hair and watched his body crumple to the floor.  As blood trickled from his injuries and pooled on the floor, Shivani stared at the scene in a daze.

It felt as if she was just waking up from a dream.  Her eye color reverted to brown.  Panic set in when she realized what had happened.  They won’t believe me, she thought.  People never did.  After checking Mick’s pulse to make sure he was still alive, Shivani knelt beside his head.  She gingerly placed her hands on his temples.  Warmth seeped from her fingertips into his scalp.  The majority of the damaged vessels in his head healed.  But Mick remained unconscious while Shivani quickly threw some of her belongings into a bag and ran out the front door.

Four Things To Consider When Writing Your Novel

For the past few weeks, I’ve been shoving my story ideas into the “traditional” story structure (a.k.a. Three Acts/Four Quadrants).  The idea is cool and technically, the story works.  I have the ~5-10% “inciting incident,” the 25% “point of no return,” the 50% midpoint/turning point, and the 75% “all is lost” milestones.  But it isn’t working for me on an interest level.  So what gives?

After whirling on this for several nights, I thought I would approach this from a different angle.  Let’s forget about the technical stuff for a moment.  What stories have I really enjoyed and why?  Here are my thoughts:

AN INTRIGUING PREMISE (NOT THE SAME AS A CONCEPT)

Maybe I’m in the minority, but I don’t read books by genre.  All I care about is the PREMISE of a story.  (I will elaborate on the difference between premise and concept a little later.)  If a premise is unique, I will pick up the book from a shelf in the bookstore (because I’m an old fashioned person who still goes to Barnes and Noble) or buy the ebook from Amazon.  If it’s REALLY good, I may also buy a hard copy.  Double sales for THAT author!

Now, there’s a HUGE difference between a novel’s concept and a novel’s premise.  A concept is just an idea.  For example, in The Hunger Games, one could argue that the basic idea is a David vs. Goliath story.  For me, as a reader, that’s nice but hardly unique.  It is the PREMISE of the story that makes the Hunger Games so interesting to me.  (And why I have both the ebook AND the hard copy.)

A story’s premise is much more specific than a story’s concept.  There is conflict in a premise.  In Hunger Games, the premise is one girl’s fight against an evil post-apocalyptic government.  Let’s thrown in an annual gladiator match with children from each district, and one young girl offering to take her little sister’s place in these barbaric games.  Now, THAT is an intriguing premise that will make me as a reader part with my valuable TIME and MONEY!

READER CONNECTION WITH THE PROTAGONIST

I’m going to run with this Hunger Games example because quite frankly, I think Suzanne Collin’s execution was pretty close to perfect.  For those of you who haven’t read this book, Katniss Everdeen is the hero in this story.  It is set in a post-apocalyptic U.S. that has been divided into thirteen districts.  Katniss and her family are from the poorest district and struggle to survive.  When her younger sister Prim is chosen for the Hunger Games, Katniss volunteers to take her place.

All of this takes place within the first two chapters of this book.  Now, I have nothing in common with Katniss.  I’m not poor and I have plenty to eat (some would argue too much to eat.).  Her personality was a little on the surly side, so I don’t even think we’d be friends in real life.  But I was still emotionally invested in Katniss Everdeen by the end of the first chapter!

Why?  She is smart, honorable and loyal, but such an underdog.  There was something visceral about her impoverished situation that moved me.  Whenever I meet a great, hardworking person in real life who is a victim of circumstances, I want to help him or her in anyway I can.  That’s how I felt about Katniss.  And that’s how I want readers to feel about my protagonist.

Not every protagonist you create has to be an underdog from page one.  But I think the best novels are the ones where you’re rooting for the protagonist to win against the odds.

MAKE EVERY WORD COUNT

I don’t have a lot of free time, so when I am blessed with a few minutes to look at a book, I just want the author to get to the point.  So I skim.  A LOT.

Call it ADHD if you want to, but I will lose interest in a story if it has too much technical jargon or too many flowery descriptions.  This is the main reason I just can’t get into the second book in Hugh Howey’s Wool series.  And I won’t be buying the third book.

I know I keep bringing up The Hunger Games, but it really is one of the best books for pacing and information exposition that I’ve ever read.  I didn’t have to skim that much of it.  With the exception of the cat descriptions (which were unnecessary in my mind), just about every single word moved the story forward.  This is something to consider when you write your book.  Make every sentence count.

A DASH OF ROMANCE

I used to be a voracious romance reader in my late teens and early twenties for two main reasons.  First, my parents strictly forbade any “smut novels” in the house when I was growing up.  So, of course, the first year I lived on my own, that was all I read.  Second, I was searching for “Mr. Right” so I could empathize with the women in these novels.

Honestly, I read so many of them that I’m now sick of the entire Romance genre.  But, I do admit that I still like seeing a SMALL thread of romance in every novel that I read.  In Hunger Games, Katniss is in a love triangle with two infatuated boys (Gabe and Peeta).  It wasn’t the main focus of the story, but I do think it added another level of interesting tension to the entire story.

TO MY READERS:  What are your favorite books and why?  What was it about them that caught and held your interest?  Are there any books where you own both ebook and hard copy versions?  Please let me know!  I’d love to hear your thoughts!