Red Lettering

Stories will not be written easily. A story without a heart is dead, and the only place it will get a heart is from the author.

Archive for the tag “IOTW”

Get to Know Your Characters Challenge Responses: Antagonists

Get to Know Your Characters ChallengeToday is Thursday, readers—Thursday the 16th. As promised, the Get to Know Your Characters: Antagonist closes today, with some exceptional pieces of work from a couple of different writers. Do go check out their work, and I’m sure they would love to have you comment!

First Blood, by Michael Hollingworth

Prompt Chosen: Write about the first time your villain killed or ordered the death of someone.

So Easy, by Beckah (Ghost Ryter)

Prompt Chosen: Write about the first time your villain killed or ordered the death of someone.

Untitled, by Katie Grace

Prompt Chosen: Your antagonist is between three and ten. Write something that represents their life at that point.


I decided to write something with my villain from IOTW. It brought up a slightly awkward question of what exactly to call him; he gave my protagonist four choices when she first asked his name. Eventually I decided to call him what he’s called in the novel for the sake of continuity, but at one point in the story he refers to himself by another one of his names. The majority of the time he’s called Rais, but in his thoughts, he calls himself Rashad.  Before you reach this point and give me the look, know that it wasn’t an accident.

This was a very interesting thing for me to write. Since IOTW is in first person, I never had the chance to go this far into my villain’s point of view prior to this. Though he’s changed slightly between this time and the novel, it was nice to be able to get a feel for his character. 

The prompt I chose:

  • Write about when your antagonist moved into his place of current residence.

Darkness.

Nothing but darkness as far as Rais could see. Slowly, he lifted himself upon bleeding hands, raising himself onto his knees, though nothing was beneath him to support his weight.

“No,” he whispered, the word punctuated by his heartbeat thudding in his ears. “No, it didn’t happen. It. Didn’t.”

Not even an echo drifted back to him. He remained completely and entirely alone.

His thoughts chased themselves around in his head, none quite becoming comprehensible, all of them filled with the desperation he tried to push back within himself.

…it should have worked…

   … he must have been dying…

    …not wrong… I could not have been…

   …Why?…

   Carefully, Rais climbed to his feet, allowing his eyes to slide shut so they would not continue straining to see. He knew there would be no light. His whole body screamed pain at him and he could feel the damp of blood and sweat, but he remained on his feet. Rais inhaled slowly through his nose and let it out through his mouth, shaping his face into the smile he had become so used to wearing.

He could do this. He knew he could manage, if only he could stay calm.

If time had been even vaguely measurable, standing there for a long moment might perhaps have worked. As it was, Rais was more aware of the lack of time than of the steady breathing in-breathing-out pattern, and abruptly he collapsed onto his knees again, beating at nothing with his fists as the desperation welled up inside of himself.

“No!” He shouted. “No, I did not fail!”

The silence did not even have the decency to answer as it would have in a world.

Slowly, Rais allowed himself to sink down lower onto the ground. His heart slammed against his ribcage and the silence magnified the sound of his breathing until it seemed almost deafening.

Light. Rais scrambled to his feet, his entire body shaking. He needed light.

Peeling his eyelids open, he stared out into the complete darkness surrounding him. He could see nothing, no matter how hard his eyes strained.

You must know how to do this, he said, mentally adopting his slightly patronizing tone to speak to himself. Think, Rashad.

  Rais closed his eyes again, balling his hands into fists and ignoring the pain that shot up his arms. Light danced across the inside of his eyelids, teasing him with it’s lack of existence. Slowly the correct words came to his mind, and though it made his gut twist further into a knot, he whispered them.

“In case you ever have to form a half-world,” he had been taught. “This is how you go about it. One step at a time, eh? Keep it easy, though. No cementing. Keep it changeable. Your world, eh? Your commands oughta keep working whenever you give ’em.”

    He could feel the energy draining out of his body, but he kept his eyes squeezed shut, forcing himself to continue. It would work—it had to.

They thought they could imprison him. Idiots—he could do this. He could bend the prison to his own will.

Light flashed through his closed eyelids, staining them red as blood. He opened his eyes, gasping for breath as he saw the sun, the complete, glorious desert sun, beginning to rise on the horizon.

Perhaps it was fake—he didn’t know for sure, but he could see light. It was all that mattered.

Rais collapsed, the entirety of his energy spent, but he did not close his eyes; he remained staring up into the sun that belonged in the early morning desert sky. It already gave off enough heat to bake anything that happened to fall beneath the rays of light, but Rais did not care.

“You did not succeed,” he whispered, his lips scarcely moving. “I will not stay here. I will save it.”

He closed his eyes, letting the light that shone from nothing and onto nothing wash over him, his lips now moving soundlessly as he let the exhaustion and the effects of the injuries take over. “You cannot stop me from saving the desert.”

 

 

 

Writing with Music

Writing with Music

When I originally started writing seriously, I never suspected that I would end up listening to music nearly every time I wrote.

I wrote in whatever place I sat, with whatever computer, and whatever sound happened to be going on. If music was playing in the background, that was fine; I would ignore it. If dogs were barking in the background, that was fine; I would ignore it. If people were talking in the background, that was also fine.

I did an impressive amount of ignoring in those days.

Yet, at the same time, my family listened to a lot of music as we went about life. One song in particular stood out to me on day: Walk On, by 4Him, from their album of the same name. [You can listen to it here, if you’d like. The pictures are completely disconnected, but this is the only video of it that I could find.] One day, as I listened to it, it clicked with my major work-in-progress, and I had an unofficial theme song.

From that moment on, I had an “IOTW Playlist” on my computer. At first, I listened to it only occasionally, but slowly as time went on, I started to listen to it more and more.

In April, when I started a new story for Camp NaNoWriMo, I had reached the point where I listened to music very regularly when I wrote, so between that and the fact that I expected to write in unusual places for half the month and needed a familiar noise, I created a “Joy of Stars Playlist.”

It was at that point that I learned the power of listening to music while I wrote.

When before I had listened to only music that had reminded me of the plot and the story itself, this time I stopped and considered the question: What would my characters listen to? 

Thinking about the question not only led me to adding great music to my playlist, but it made the characters I was really only beginning to meet much more alive to me.

Headphones became an essential part of writing for me. I started to listen to music every time I wrote, and found that it helped me massively.

No matter where I was, when I heard the music, I could write the story. The songs automatically made me think of the story. The characters became a part of the song, and the songs a part of the characters. The songs added another, deeper level to the character arcs as I started to actually listen to the lyrics and realize, “Wow. This really fits the character, actually.”

I could assign music to characters and groups of characters, and immediately step into their head and point of view. On my Joy of Stars playlist, I had very distinctive music on there. From John Waller to Cloverton to Avalon, and then all the way to the soundtrack of Princess Bride, the styles, though mainly contemporary Christian, all had very different feel to them, which helped me to give very a different feel to each character.

It helped me manipulate my own emotions. Because, really, that’s what we writers do. We want our readers to feel things, but when we don’t, they won’t. When we feel the things that our characters do, we can write from their perspective so much better. When we can change what we feel, we can make it so that the character’s emotions come across strong.

It drowned out other noises and distractions and helped me to avoid Writer’s Block. Distractions are distracting–imagine that! But when writing sometimes, it seems like every noise that’s tossed about is screaming for attention. “No, you don’t want to write that novel! You want to look at me! Meee!” Music is a great way to tell the distraction to go find a corner to sit in, because you’re busy.

Things change, though. Now, I don’t always listen to music while writing. For the past several months, I’ve listened to it every single time, but more recently, I’ve gone some writing sessions without it.

I’ve found that it’s not necessary to listen to music to write, and now I have seen both sides of the story and experienced both methods. Music isn’t necessary, but I certainly do appreciate it.

Do you write with music, or without? How have you found it helpful or unhelpful?

Get to Know Your Characters Challenge — Responses

Get to know your characters challenge protagonist

 

It’s Monday. Late Monday, though I planned on posting it earlier today, but as long as it’s before midnight, it’s not too terribly late, I suppose.

As those who read last Tuesday’s post know, this blog was the origin for a challenge: to write about your protagonist’s past from a list of ideas. Not many people participated this time around, but those who did made it worth it.

The Participants 

Katie – Cousins in Christ *

Emily Fisher – Posted Hers In the Comments of Tuesday’s Post.

Alyssa – Alyssa should post hers in the same place Emily did, on the comments of last Tuesday’s post.*

*These stories aren’t posted yet, but don’t fear. Watch. They will be seen.

 

My Snippet

I’m afraid what I wrote is not very good, and, indeed, might make “mediocre” look bad, had not a friend helped me with some editing. Read on, and do know that this is certainly not the best I’ve ever written. However, you get to meet two of my protagonists from my top-secret novel, IOTW. Nothing this detailed about them and their story has ever ended up on the internet before now.

I decided to mix these three prompts into the same story:

  • Write about your protagonist celebrating a major holiday, such as Christmas or New Year’s Day.
  • Write about a year before the adventure started.
  • Write about interaction with a childhood friend–while in childhood, or what would happen when the two met again after several years of not seeing each other.

Clumps of snow clung to my hair, stinging my already burning face whenever I moved my head. My smile had become too big for my cheeks, my face told me, and now it hurt as a consequence. I slumped onto the ground, leaning against the wall of my house. Nathaniel sat next to me, a grin firmly on his face.

I took a breath slowly. His bombardment of snowball were more than my lungs had agreed to put up with.  They decided to let only a small portion of the usual air in, intent on making me sit.

At least Nathaniel had suggested resting, not I.

Slowly, my breath returned and I pulled at my hair, dropping bits of snow onto the hard-packed ice beneath us. “Merry Christmas Eve,” I said. Bouncing, I added, “Papa said my cousins will be coming. Then everyone will be home.”

Nathaniel looked at me, his smile fading slightly. Drawing his knees up to his chest, he dipped his head in what might have been intended to look like a nod. “Merry Christmas Eve,” he said.

My forehead tied itself into small knots, and I leaned forward. “What’s wrong?”

Nathaniel blinked a few times, shaking his head. “Nothing.”

His answer came too quickly to be comforting, but I let it go. “Good.”

He smiled faintly, turning his gaze onto the snow beside his glove-clad hand. I watched him for a brief moment, then turned away and looked at the sun, dipping dangerously close to the horizon. “We’d better go inside.”

Nathaniel’s gaze stayed fixed on the invisible, fascinating thing on the snow. I sighed. “Nathaniel? Come on, it’s Christmas Eve. Let’s not do this today.”

Ever since I had known Nathaniel, he had moments where he seemed to be somewhere far away. Most of the time, it passed quickly. Every now and then, he would stay that way for hours.

He blinked, inhaling slowly. “I’m sorry. What were you saying?”

I let a smile break out over my face. “It’s okay. It’s going to be night soon, though.”

He let his gaze wonder to the Western sky, then got to his feet. “I’ll race you around the house again.”

I blinked, then lurched upright. “Okay, go!”

Mama called my name, and I glanced over to the door as she stepped out. I let my shoulders sag, though secretly I felt glad to avoid more running. “I guess we better go in now.”

Nathaniel nodded, brushing snow off of himself.

“We’re ready,” Mama called. I glanced at Nathaniel, then darted to the door. Nathaniel jogged after me.

Mama waited until we were both at the door before opening it, stepping back inside. I stepped in, followed by Nathaniel. He tugged the door shut after himself.

I had not realized how cold I was until I stepped into the warm house. Nathaniel grinned at me, sliding his coat off and brushing the snow onto the rug in front of the door.

“Just hang it up,” Mama said from across the room. “We’ll clean it up later.”

Nathaniel glanced at her and did as he was told.

I fumbled with my buckles with numb fingers. When Mama made me the coat, she thought it too big for an eleven year-old girl like me, but I had insisted I could manage.

Well, when I haven’t frozen my fingers, I can manage.

The buckle came loose, and I worked my way through all the others, finally removing my coat and hanging it on the peg on the wall. My scarf I left in my hair to keep it away from my face, but my shoes quickly found themselves on the floor beneath my coat.

Picking my way around the various things that lay scattered in my way, I moved to sit next to Papa, looking over his shoulder at the well-worn Bible in his hands.

Nathaniel sat next to me and Marshall took the opportunity to sit on him. “Hol’ me, ‘Than’il?”

Nathaniel looked at Mama, and she nodded. He shifted Marshall until he sat still, then wrapped his arms around him and looked at Papa.

Papa glanced around once, then started. “In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.”

The wind pushed against the ground, the cold from the snow and night air bothering it not a bit. Whooshing into the air and pushing against the faces of the boy and the girl’s father, the wind carried the cold with it in order to bother them.

    The girl’s father slowed, and the wind dashed away, observing what held his interest. “Are you sure you won’t stay with us tonight?”

    The wind pushed at the scrawny branches of nearby trees, then moved forward and entered the small house. Cold immediately greeted it, the house’s walls hardly held in place by now.

   Turning attention back to the girl’s father and the boy, the wind slid back to the ground again. The boy gave it a look, but the wind knew that, though the boy could see and hear the wind like the girl’s father could not, the boy would never address the wind. “No,” he said. “I’ll be fine. I know it doesn’t look very good, but the inside is warm enough. Thank you for letting me come over for dinner.”

   The girl’s father smiled, but the wind caught the doubtful look he cast the house. The wind’s amusement took the form of blown snow across the ground. The wind knew they had done this before, many times.  “It was my pleasure, Nathaniel.”

   The boy’s smile touched his face, but not, the wind noticed, his eyes. “Good night.”

   “Good night.”

   The boy made his way toward the house, and the wind left the girl’s father in peace, moving after the boy as he opened the door and stepped inside.

   He stopped, then smiled, inclining his head. “Lytton,” he said.

   The wind whispered to itself. The man, again, was here. The wind had not expected him to come this year, though he came every year at Christmas. Of course, the wind felt no surprise.

   The boy moved into the house, closing the door and moving to sit cross-legged before the man. The man sat on the floor, looking at the boy.

    For a moment, a long silence passed, broken only by the wind against the floor and the trees outside. The man glanced at the wind, a small smile tugging at his lips, but he, like the boy, did not address it. Instead, he turned to the boy, slowly inhaling.

   The boy up from the floor to meet the man’s gaze.

   “I wish you would come home.”

   The boy, the wind knew—for the wind knew a great many things—had not expected that. “I… I can’t.”

   The man leaned back, and the disappointment the wind knew he held remained far from his face.

   The silence stretched again until, finally, the boy leaned forward, dark eyes bright. “Tell me about it again?”

   The man smiled—for real this time, the wind noted with much whooshing about the room. “The night had long since fallen, but the sky was lit up still. They slept while we were there, and He alone knows we were present.”

   “You came to see Him?”

  “Yes,” the man said softly, eyes lost in the memory. “And we did. After the shepherds had left, we saw Him sleeping as a baby.”

— 

Well that is it. Now, I have a question for you: Did you enjoy this challenge, and do you like the idea of it? Would you be willing to participate if I did another? Would you like to see it return, or should this be a one-time thing? I need your comments now, more than ever.

This next part should get a prize for randomness. For the past week or so, I’ve been trying to decide if I want to post a link to a story I entered in the contest. Finally, I’ve decided that I should. You readers are getting the first look you’ve had into my writing, and I feel I ought to let you know that my writing isn’t always like the above bit. So, I present to you a story I wrote, which you can read here (mine is all the way at the bottom). I hope you enjoy it and the other stories… The others are so very good.

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