Friday, January 31, 2014

Q & Q: Chapter Three


 
Chapter Three

Several days later, Linda was sitting on the front porch with a worried look on her face.  She rested her chin in her hands and stared into the horizon.

Walter came running over the field and bounded up onto her porch.

“Hey, Linda!” he called a greeting.  “How is Quillbur?”  Then he saw Linda’s worried face.  “What’s the matter?” he asked.

Linda held up a single quill in her hands, showing it to Walter.  “Quillbur is losing his quills,” she said, sadly.

Walter took the quill from Linda and examined it carefully.  Then he handed it back to her.  “Wait here,” he instructed.  With a single leap, he jumped off the porch.  Then he ran back across the fields toward his own house.

A few minutes later, Walter returned, panting and out of breath.  He carried a small toy doctor’s kit with him.

“When I grow up,” Walter said, huffing and puffing.  “I am going to be a doctor.  I don’t know if I will be an animal doctor or a people doctor yet.  Maybe I will be both.  But I am happy to look at Quillbur if you want.”

Linda took Walter inside, and then she coaxed Quillbur from his shoe box.  Walter gulped when he saw Quillbur.  Quillbur’s quill did look a little thin, and there were more loose quills laying around the shoebox.  It looked serious.

Walter opened his doctor kit.  He tried to hold his toy stethoscope against Quillbur’s heart, but Quillbur rolled himself into a ball.  Walter waited and waited.  Finally Quillbur unrolled, and Walter listened to his heartbeat.  Then Walter looked into Quillbur’s eyes and ears.

Linda waited while Walter examined her pet.  She hoped there was nothing wrong with Quillbur.

At last, Walter cleared his throat.  “I’m going to go home and look in my books,” Walter said.  “I don’t have many patients who are hedgehogs…so I need to consult with my colleagues.”

Linda opened her eyes wide.  “What’s a colleague?” she asked.

Walter wasn’t sure so he said, “a colleague is something a doctor consults.”

“Oh, I see,” Linda said.  She lay down on her stomach so she could see Quillbur’s face better.  “What do you THINK is wrong with Quillbur?”

“It could be a number of things, but I hope it isn’t phinaly pharpis,” Walter said, gravely.

“Phinaly pharpis!” exclaimed Linda.  Whatever-that-was sounded awful.  “What is phinaly pharpis?”

Walter lowered his voice to a whisper.  “Phinaly pharpis is a terrible disease,” he told Linda.  “Several animals can get it – even dolphins.”

“Dolphins!” Linda exclaimed.

“I will have to do some research,” Walter decided.  “May I take one of his quills with me?”

Linda nodded.  She handed Walter a quill and watched him walk to the door.

Then Linda carefully picked up her beloved Quillbur.  “Please get better soon,” she whispered.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

About my job...

Dear Readers,
     Those of you who have been with me from the beginning know this already; those of you who are new may not.  I have a job that calls me away at a moment's notice with no guarantee of when I shall return.  So, as I have mentioned before, there are times when I am gone and therefore cannot post anything.  Such have been the last three days...and I apologize.
     The good news is that I have returned, and, while I am exhausted tonight, I will be fully recovered and posting again by tomorrow.  :)  See you then!!!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Q & Q: Chapter 2


Chapter Two

Linda waved goodbye to the milkman as he limped to the end of her road.  Then she sat on her porch with her new hedgehog.  He was so cute.

“Hello.  What are you doing?” a voice asked.

Linda looked up and smiled.  It was Walter, her best friend.  He lived only a few houses down the lane from her, and he came to play often.

“See my new hedgehog?” Linda said, holding up the tiny creature.

“Hey, he’s pretty cute,” Walter said.  “Can’t you just imagine him smiling?  What’s his name?”

“I haven’t named him yet,” Linda answered.

“Well, I think you should call him ‘Quillbur’.  It’s like ‘Wilbur’ but with quills,” Walter offered.

“Quillbur,” Linda repeated, trying the name out.  “Quillbur…I like it!”

“Great!” Walter said.  “I’ll help you make a nest for Quillbur.”

Walter and Linda went inside the house.  Linda’s mother directed them to a dark corner in the pantry.

“I’ll get him a piece of an old blanket to snuggle,” Linda said.

“Wild hedgehogs don’t have blankets, silly,” Walter scoffed.

Linda put her free hand on her hip and glared at Walter.  “Don’t call me ‘silly’,” she scolded.

For a moment, both children stared grumpily at each other.  Then Walter rubbed his nose and looked at the corner of the pantry.

“Well, maybe…since he’s a house hedgehog…he does need a blanket,” Walter admitted.  “He needs something to hide in, too.  I have an idea.”

 Walter ran back to his house and returned with a shoe box.

Linda stared at the box curiously.  “Wild hedgehogs don’t have shoe boxes,” she said, pointedly.

“No, but they have holes and other places where they can hide,” Walter explained.  He used a bit of string to tie the lid on his box, and he cut a hole in one end.  “See?” Walter said, showing Linda.  “He can run inside if he wants to.”

Walter ran out to the woodshed and brought in some pine shavings while Linda asked her mother for an old blanket.  They set it all up.

“It looks so cozy,” Linda said.  “I wish I were small enough to crawl inside.”

“We did a pretty good job,” Walter agreed.

Linda was happy.  Now her new hedgehog had a name and a bed.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Q & Q: Chapter 1

Quilbur and Quilleta is now a short story.  Here is chapter one:

Chapter One

     Linda peered from the window of her cottage.  She hoped the milkman would come soon.  He had promised to bring her a present.  She could not wait to find out what it was.

     “Oh, these horrid roaches!” her mother exclaimed. 

     Linda looked up to see her mother sweep another roach out the door.

     “I can hardly stand them,” her mother continued.  “I hate the sight of the beetles, and I like crunching them underfoot even less.”

     Linda nodded sympathetically.  Then she lifted the yellow-flowered curtains to the side and peeked out of the window again.

     “He’s here!” Linda shouted.  She watched the young milkman slowly make his way up the path, pushing his cart.

     The milkman’s name was Howard.  He was a very nice young man, and he always walked with a limp.  He was usually very quiet, but all the children liked him.

     Linda stood behind her mother as she greeted Howard at the door.  He handed them two jars of milk.  Then he knelt down and reached in his baggy coat pockets.

      Linda held her breath.  She could not imagine what Howard had brought her.

      Slowly, Howard pulled his hand out of his pocket and showed Linda what he had brought.

      It was something small and alive.  It peered up at Linda with two bright beady eyes.  It was so cute!  Linda loved it already.

     “It’s a hedgehog, Miss Linda,” Howard said.  “It will help your mother with the roaches.”

     “It will?” Linda asked, breathless.  She wanted to hold the little creature.

      “It will,” Howard confirmed.  “A hedgehog loves to eat roaches.  It’s a special treat for them.”

     Howard gently handed the little hedgehog to Linda.  “Be careful,” he warned.  “He’s soft now, but they can be mighty prickly if they are frightened.”

      Linda cupped the baby hedgehog in her hands and looked into its bright beady eyes.  “Don’t worry,” she promised the creature.  “I will take care of you.”

      Linda thought it was the best present ever.

Friday, January 24, 2014

A Momentous Occasion

I did it.
I finished the first draft of Dungeon.
     I haven't even read through it yet, and I know there are many, many revisions to be done.  So it is not exactly a finale.
     But, rejoice with me, for it is still a momentous occasion.  :)
     It is over 25k words in its original draft.  It may get longer as I flesh out some scenes or develop a character further.  But for now it is one of those inbetween lengths: too long to be a short story and too short to be a novel. 
And I am perfectly happy with its current length.



Quote from Dungeon:

     “Now there is nothing left excepting rewards,” the princess said, happily, with a meaningful glance in her father’s direction.

Another Clip from Dungeon


 medieval banquet table - Google Search
    Hatach, the young scribe, was summoned again the following day to read to the princess.  If he had known how little she listened, he would have given up as soon as he started.  He, however, was blissfully unaware of her distracted state of mind and read heartily along in the selected story.

     The princess could not get the dungeon out of her mind.  It drew her with some inexplicable force.  She tried to reason it out, to uncover her reason behind this interest, but she gave up.  It simply had to be.  She had to see her own dungeon for herself.  She had to see what it was like, if it was real, and who it was that lived there.

     That evening, the princess had her dinner with the king and queen.  The banquet table was set with gold-rimmed plates and gold goblets.  The very finest meal to be found in all the kingdom was served to the royal family.  The princess could not help but wonder if there were prisoners far below her feet at that very moment.  She wondered what sort of meal they were eating.  Perhaps they roasted rats.

     “Father,” she said, suddenly, interrupting her parents’ debate over the best age of duck for the finest meat.

     “No, no, I am quite certain that duck should be harvested at one year of age,” the king answered his wife.

     “Father,” the princess called again.

     Her father blinked a couple times and stared at her.  He had quite forgotten she was there.  “Oh, yes,” he muttered.  “Well, you’ve been very quiet this evening.”  He took another bite of his duck, which must have been at least 2 weeks too old for harvesting, and waited for her to continue.

     “Have we a dungeon?” she asked.

     The king coughed in surprise.  That was the last question he expected to hear from his daughter.

     “A dungeon?” gasped her mother.  “What brought that to mind?”

     “Have we?” the princess repeated.

     “That is an interesting question to be coming from a young lady,” the queen reprimanded primly, raising one eyebrow.

     The king cleared his throat.  “Yes, well, she has a bit of her father’s blood in her as well and cannot help but be a bit curious-minded,” he reasoned.  “However, you had best listen to your mother and put all thoughts of dungeons out of your head.”

     “Who do we have in our dungeon?” the princess asked.

     “Criminals, traitors, the worst sort of men,” her father began to explain.

     “Pardon me for interrupting,” the queen interjected, “but this is hardly a discussion for the dinner table.”

     “Do you visit the dungeon often?” the princess queried.

     “Certainly not!  A dungeon is no place for a man of royal blood.  We live in peaceful times.  I haven’t been down there for fifteen or more years,” the king answered.  “Oxstan, chief of the palace guards, keeps track of those sorts of things.”

     The queen took another bite of the roasted duck.  “Perhaps a different sauce would make the duck more to your liking,” she suggested.

     “No, no, no,” the king disagreed.  “It is most certainly a harvesting error.”

     And that is all that the young princess was able to get out of her parents on the subject of the mysterious dungeon.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

More Borrowed Writing Tips: accents and showing


     I am delighted to be able to share with you things from other writers that I found inspiring.  I found these two posts yesterday and they both impressed me.

From the Inkpen Authoress, I learned some tips regarding the way my characters talk.  How do you express a person's accent, education, etc. through their dialogue?  Here is the link to Rachel Heffington's blog where she talks about it:
http://inkpenauthoress.blogspot.com/2014/01/ciao-how-to-write-accents.html

From Scribbling of My Pen and Tapping of My Keyboard, I was reminded of the tools of the writer's craft.  I was reminded to not scorn the wisdom passed down from our predecessors.  And I was reminded to "show" instead of "tell" the story.  Here is a link to Anne-girl's blog where she enlightened me:
http://scribblingskeyboard.blogspot.com/2014/01/animal-crackers-lexicons-and-clam.html#comment-form

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Networking

     Networking sounds like a pain.  Somehow I get this picture of dressing up in a suit and seeking out influencial people, pretending to be friendly in the hopes of getting what I want from them.  I get the idea of going to boring meetings with a myriad of other self-serving individuals.  I get the image of somebody going where he does not want to go and spending money that he does not have to spend...all in the name of "networking".  No wonder I think networking sounds awful!
     But what if, in fact, networking was not meant to be like that.  What if networking was actually fun and beneficial?  What if networking is what I am doing on this blog?
     I have been typing out stories and pieces of things on Microsoft Word for years.  What made me open a blog?  To tell the truth, it is because I wanted feedback.  I thought that feedback was exactly what I needed to take my writing to the next level.  I wanted to find readers who could enjoy or criticize my work.  I wanted to find other writers to share their own joys, struggles, and advice on writing.  Essentially, I wanted to network.
      If this is networking, I have a completely new concept of it.  There is a community here.  The ability to interact with the other writers and readers inspires me and keeps me from becoming stagnant.  It is fun and, far from being a drain, it adds to joys of writing.  This, perhaps, is what networking should be.
     What are your thoughts on networking?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Introducing Gorgus


Hi, all!  I am not sure if I have introduced Gorgus yet.  He is a dungeon guard.  Here is the scene where the princess first catches a glimpse of him.  She, at the beginning of the scene, is at the dungeon door and about to try to open it. 
   Suddenly, the door from the level above creaked open.  Someone was coming down the stairs.  The princess shrank into the darkness of the hallway, hiding behind some wooden boxes by the dungeon door, as heavy footsteps clumped, one step at a time, down the stairs toward her.

     Peering around the boxes, the princess saw the man turn down the left hallway, coming straight toward her.  He was a big man – not tall, but as solid as the trunk of a tree.  His arms were huge and powerful...bare except for leather bands.  He wore a short tunic, made of metal and leather, that came to his knees.  From his belt hung a dagger, a sword, and a large stick.  On his feet he wore sandals that had leather straps that wrapped around his bulging calves.  His dirty blonde hair was pulled back in a ponytail at the base of his neck, and his dingy yellow goatee was so long that it reached his chest.  Over his one shoulder he carried a barrel, and in his other hand he carried a flaming torch.  His eyes were focused on his destination.  He swung open the dungeon door and stomped down the dungeon stairs, slamming and latching the dungeon door closed behind him without even noticing the princess in the dark.

     For a moment, the princess did not move.  That man had looked terrifying.  The princess felt a delightful shiver of fear.  He was exactly the sort of character that fit in with Hatach’s stories of dungeons.  She was even more determined to explore the dungeon for herself. 

     She stood up and tugged at the door again, but the monstrous man had locked it from the inside.  She tried to jiggle the latches...to no avail.

     “Grrr,” the princess grumbled in frustration.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Theme Songs


     I heard this song for the first time...about a year after I got the idea for The Ultimate Stand.  [It wasn't this band that performed it, but this is close enough].  I loved it, and it struck me as very fitting for The Ultimate Stand. 
     I wish I could show you the picture I have in my mind as I hear this song.  I see somebody standing there...somebody that should be afraid.  Dark forces have risen against this person, threatening his/her life.  Shouldn't this person be cowering?  But, no, he/she is standing boldly there, looking toward God, knowing....KNOWING...that help is on the way.  Like a soldier defending his fort in the face of overwhelming odds because his entire army is only moments away from coming to his aid, so this person resolutely holds his/her ground.  And, unlike human armies that can fail, God never fails.  As this person looks toward the horizon, resolute and steadfast, all the troubles and foes and chaos kind of fade away...like they don't really matter.  No matter what the dark forces try to take away, it will be hundred times over restored when the time comes.  And so this person stands, facing the troubles, with no fear.
     Fearless and resolute...that's what this song sounds like to me.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Adding Depth to Characters

     Both of the links below are recent posts about adding depth to characters.  The first one focuses on the female characters and the second focuses on male characters.  The main point in both is to avoid making your characters too "perfect".  They argue that girls can have crooked teeth and small eyes and that men don't have to be perpetually heroic and self-sacrificing.

Scribblings of My Pen and Tappings of My Keyboard.: Gorgeous Sheildmaidens and Love Interests

http://www.godslittledesigner.blogspot.com/2014/01/the-impossible-male-character-and-how.html

       Character development is something that I am still learning.  When I was younger, my characters had no purpose other than to say whatever I needed somebody to say. 
     For example, I have 3 characters in the room.  Somebody needs to say "oh, no!" now.  Whose turn is is to talk?  Well, since #1 and #2 have done most of the talking so far, I will let #3 say "oh, no!" 
     See?  My characters did not have their own personalities.  They were just pawns for their author.
     As I got older, my next step was to assign characteristics to my characters.  They took part in the action and the dialogue as their personality dictated.  However, as I was first learning, each character was pretty flat, having only one or two dominating characteristics. 
     For example: #1 is always patient, #2 is always easily excitable, #3 is pessimistic, and so on.
     This helped my characters to be their own individuals.  You could count on #2 to always overract in any situation, and #3 would always imagine the worst possible outcome.  However, the characters were still pretty flat.
     Now, I am trying to create characters that are more like real people.
     I still don't claim to be an expert on character development but here is my tip:

Pattern them after real people.

      That sounds like a no-brainer...and it is.  I find that first-hand experience is the very best to write from.  If you want to write about a baseball game, go see one.  Understand how it feels, smells, tastes, sounds, looks.  Know what it is like to be there from beginning to finish.
       The same thing applies to characters.  If you want a real character, base him/her off of people you know well.  What is your dad like?  How would he react in the situations in your book?  How about your mom, sisters, brothers, friends, coworkers?
      Pay attention to the people you know.  What are their strengths and weaknesses?  What is some task that they are good at?  What is something that annoys them?  Really learn to notice things about them.
      You can make up a list of characteristics for characters, but if it is not based off of real people it can be just as unrealistic as my flat ones or somebody's overly perfect ones.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Update on Dungeon - 20K Words

     I am now over 20k words in Dungeon. 
     I told you a while back that the final conflict was looming -- as soon as my characters figured out what was going on.  Well, the skirmishes at the beginning of the big conflict have just started, but, sadly, only Jacob (and maybe the Owd Un) have figured out what is going on.  The princess has a general idea, although partly misled in her thinking.  And poor Hatach, Molly, and the red-faced cook are entirely clueless...

Thursday, January 16, 2014

When Faced with a Superior Artist


Quote from the Dungeon:
     The Owd Un hastily started trying keys again.  “You’ve got to have a better plan than that, Jacob,” he growled.  “And you had best come up with it quickly!”
 
     I am sure that this is something that happens multiple times for writers.  You read something that someone else has written and are awed by the skill of the writer...and then you look over your own work and realize that you are not that good yet.  I have even heard writers that I admire sigh over the excellent wordcraft of another writer they esteem highly.
     The question is: what do you do about it?  When you feel that your own work does not measure up to another's, what should your reaction be?
     1. You could give up.  That is not typically the recommendation, of course.  But I presume that you could survey yourself, realize that this is not really what you want to do with your life, and pursue some other expression of excellence.
     2. You could push yourself to achieve the standards you see in others.  Depending on how you go about this, you could either succeed beyond your wildest dreams or you could end up being a frustrated, hopeless copycat.
     3. You could turn your back on the other writers.  Perhaps, although you admire their style, it is not your own.  You can simply say, "I love that, but I will never write like that.  I have to write my own way."
     4. You could simply give yourself some grace and keep working and striving for excellence.  You are still learning, and, like a baby learning to walk, your first steps don't have to be full of beauty and precision.  But you will learn.  Every day you will keep working - not crying over mistakes but finding and correcting them if you can, noticing what it is in other's writing that makes you like it, trying to apply newfound knowledge, and steadily working towards becoming the writer that you want to be.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Inkpenauthoress 1st Book Cover

     The Inkpen Authoress is another writer and blogger who has inspired me.  Now I am very excited for her.  She is publishing a book this winter, and today she is revealing the book cover.  I haven't seen it yet -- it is too early in the morning.  But I will be heading over to her blog ( http://inkpenauthoress.blogspot.com/ ) in a few hours to check it out.  Maybe you would like to join me?

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Introducing Quillbur and Quilleta

Quilleta and Quillbur
       Meet the hedgehogs.  They have not always had such fancy names, but, two days ago, the brown hedgehog was christened "Quillbur" (the hedgehog version of a beloved Charlotte's Web character).  And it naturally followed that the pink one then had to be named "Quilleta."  In honor of my niece and nephews, Quillbur and Quilleta are making this guest appearance on my blog.  I feel like the two hedgehogs should star in their own story, too, but I haven't come up any ideas yet...

Monday, January 13, 2014

Asking Questions of Your Characters


    I have been asking my Dungeon-characters questions about the plot.
     My mother raised an eyebrow when I told her this, as though I were sinking into a world of insanity and imaginary friends.  So maybe I better explain.
     Each writer has his or her own way of doing this.  Sometimes you are faced with two opposite ideas.  Both of them seem to lead in the right direction.
     For example, my princess needed to be rescued so she could then try to save her kingdom.  Should I have the bad guy "rescue" her or should I send some new friends her way?
     I asked the princess but she only said that she must save her kingdom and did not care who saved her.
     I ask the new friends and they eagerly told me that they wanted this opportunity to prove their friendship.  After all, they argued, this was an appropriate culmination of their previous scenes with the princess.
     I asked the bad guy.  It was his idea that he should be allowed to rescue the princess in the first place.  That was part of his plan -- to win her heart, if possible.  However, when I asked him again, he was quick to insist that she must remain in her current predicament until he was ready for her.  He had given this a lot of thought and decided that, if she were to be rescued too soon, she would only get in the way of his plans.
     I obviously need her rescued now, and, since the bad guy wasn't willing to do it on my timing, then her new friends were granted their scene in the story.  But I wouldn't have known to do this if I hadn't considered the motives and purposes of each party and the possible repercussions of the plot line I decided upon.

     So how do other writers do this?  Do you ask questions of your characters?  Or do you have a more sophisticated method?
     Have you ever had two possible paths for your plot to travel?

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Three Month Anniversary

Dear Readers,
     Welcome to my 3-month anniversary of this blog!  Thank you all for joining me!  It makes me want to sing when I see how many people have looked at my blog each day, and the encouraging emails I have gotten are much appreciated.  Keep giving me feedback; constructive criticism is welcome, too.
      And keep reading!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Is Your Name Haman?

     A girl named Esther volunteered to tell a Bible story at her local YMCA.  A host of small children gathered around her as she told the story of an ancient Persian queen.  At the beginning of the story, Esther told the children that she shared a name with a character in the story.
     Esther had memorized the story well and her audience seemed captivated by the story of the queen's adventures.  It was a long story and there were many interruptions as the children asked questions.  Things had to be explained as they went.
     For example, the concept of different countries had to be introduced.  Thankfully, one of the group leaders was a young woman from Canada.  With her permission, Esther used her as an example.  Pointing to the child who had asked the question, she explained "you are American and your friend (indicating the group leader) is from Canada."
      The children interrupted Esther's explanation with a correction, "She's not our friend -- she's a group leader." 
     Seeing an opportunity to teach a good lesson (as well as rescue the young Canadian woman), Esther told the children that group leaders can be friends, too.
     A light went off in the eyes of the children.  "Ohhhh," they said.  They spun to point at another group leader.  "Like him!  He's our friend," they said enthusiastically.
     Esther tried not to laugh.  The children didn't mean to be giving hidden insults.  But Esther could see that the friendship lesson was not necessarily helping, so she guided everyone back to the exciting story.
     Her 10 minute story slot turned into 30 minutes.  But the children were good through it all.  When the story was finally concluded, one child sighed.  "That was a LOOOOONG story," he said.
    Another child raised his hand with a confused look on his face.
     "Yes?" Esther asked, giving him permission to speak.
     His hand went down, but his face twisted even farther.  "Is your name 'Haman'?" he asked.
     Esther could not keep the twinkle out of her eyes.  "No.  No, it is not.  My name is 'Esther'...like the queen," she corrected him.  It was all she could do to keep from laughing.  Had the little boy been trying to guess her name through the whole story?  And what mother would name her little girl after the bad guy in the story?  It was too funny.
     But that is the fun of telling Bible stories to people who have never heard them.  The children's eager interest through that "loooong" story reminds you just how exciting of a story it is.  The questions are all new and fresh to them.
     And the children were bold to ask whatever questions that came to their mind.  There were questions about countries, about people, about the meaning of "obtaining favor in the sight of all" and what it means to be blessed by God, about the purpose of prayer,  about what it means to know God, about courage, and even questions about the bad guy. ;)

P.S. The story that Esther told came from the Bible.  There is a book in the Bible called "Esther" and it is 10 chapters long.  If you are curious, go read it!  If you don't have a Bible, you can find it printed online at some place like http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Esther+1&version=NKJV  Then you will see just why Esther, though amused, was adamant that her name was NOT Haman. :)
      

Friday, January 10, 2014

Dungeon - Food

     Rachel @ http://inkpenauthoress.blogspot.com/ hosts a monthly character-developing event called "Chatterbox".  Each month she gives you some topic to have your characters talk about, and you post the link to your blog on her page.
     Rachel's topic this month is food.  So I am posting a scene from Dungeon that I wrote several days ago.  I am warning all of my squeamish readers that the princess is quite disgusted with the food in this scene.
     This is my first time joining Rachel's event.  So here it goes:


       The princess’ stomach growled within her. 
      She peered into the bowl that Arfis had filled for her.  The smell was not appealing.  Most likely, it was intended to be soup, but it looked like dirty water with a spoonful of bloated, pasty grains of barley floating through it.  The princess touched the side of the bowl, and it was cold.  Eck.  Roasted rats seemed like a delicacy in comparison.

      The princess opened her mouth to ask her companions if they actually ate the revolting fare, but a glance around the room answered her question for her.  The Owd Un and Abram were devouring their meager rations with the ravenous attitudes of starving men.  And even Rachel was eating her portion, although in a slower and gentler fashion than her companions.

       So the princess closed her mouth and stared into her bowl again.  There was something floating in it.  She reached into the liquid soup, shuddering at the cold pastiness of it, and fished out a long, dingy-blonde hair.  Oh, it was so disgusting!  The princess’ stomach contracted within her and she gagged.    Quickly she set the bowl down, flinging the dingy hair with it, and retreated to a far corner away the repulsive soup.

     Fane laughed softly.  “Don’t worry, princess,” he said, patronizingly.  “You’ll be begging for more of this gourmet soup once you have adjusted.”

     The princess glared at him.  “I think not,” she replied. 

     Fane shrugged, his eyes twinkling with amusement at her disgust.

     The princess turned to face away from Fane, refusing to let him bait her with his rudeness.  Her throat felt dry and begged for water, but she knew she would never drink that soup.  She shuddered again at the thought of it.  She clenched her teeth and swallowed hard, willing her stomach to settle.

     Glancing up, her eyes found Jacob involuntarily staring at her rejected bowl of soup.  His eyes flickered up to meet hers and then dropped to the ground.

     “Would you like my soup?” the princess offered, impulsively.

     “I would not take anything from your own nourishment, princess,” Jacob replied.  His voice was calm and polite, but his fist was clenching and unclenching by his side.

     “I won’t eat it,” the princess answered, honestly.  She again approached the bowl, unable to hide her own look of distaste as she lifted it by its edges.  She slid it out of her cell through the slot and managed to work it through the bars of her cell and over to Jacob’s cell.  Jacob took up the relay when it reached his side until he brought it through his own cell’s slot. Then he gave the princess a grateful nod and devoured the soup readily.

     “I have eaten a good meal more recently than any of you, no doubt,” the princess said, humbly.

     “No doubt,” the Owd Un said, wryly.  The contrast of her life against theirs was too glaringly obvious for him to keep his mouth shut.  His own wit would not allow it.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Abram's Dream

Another clip from Dungeon:



     He reached for her but she was not there.  She was but a figment of his imagination.
     Real or not, she was talking to him.
     "Abram," she said reproachfully.
     His heart caught in his throat.  She knew about his dilema.
     "You have to tell them, Abram," she urged him.
     He licked his lips and finally found his voice.  "But I don't want trouble.  I'm no talebearer."
     "Talebearer or no, trouble is what you have got, Abram," his wife said, pointedly.  "Look at you -- trapped in a dungeon!  And you know you'll not have peace with this secret weighing on your chest.  Our life will be worse ***** ****** ****, and you will always feel it to be your fault for not doing your duty to your king and country."
     Abram licked his lips again.  "We don't know that," he argued.
     "Abram," his wife remonstrated.
     A loud clang interrupted her.  Abram's eyes flew open.  It was dark.  He had been asleep.


[Note: I had to insert *** in place of a spoiler!]

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Stay the Course!

"Patience, my dear!  Stay the course!  There will be time for perfection later."
 
     There comes a point in each of my writing projects when I suddenly glance back over what I have done so far and see flaws.  One character needs a little more development.  A certain scene needs to be longer.  Another scene should be deleted altogether.  The flow between two paragraphs needs to be ironed out a bit.  These things becoming glaringly obvious, and I am tempted to do one of two things:
          1. Put the project away for a while. OR
          2. Go back right away and try to fix everything.
     So here I am in the Dungeon.  Everything is coming together beautifully.  Honestly, even though this is not necessarily my usual style or topic, I am having so much fun with this one.  I have felt a lot more comfortable with who my characters are and what their individual plans and motives might be.
     Usually, writers are not known for being excited about the editing process, but last night I had so many good ideas that I was actually looking forward to it.
     I had to laugh at myself.  "Hold that thought," I told myself.  Of course, I want myself to be excited about editing.  But have patience, my dear!  Let's finish the first draft before we start in on the second. ;)  There will be time for perfection later...


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

An author's Parable

     A parable, as you may know, is a regular-life story that helps demonstrate something about God.  There are parables all around us, and I am seeing a bit of a parable in the story I am working on right now.
     You see, I am the author.  I know where this story is going and I know how it will end.
     There is a bad guy in this book.  He has his own plot.  He has already decided how this story should end to best benefit him, and he has been implementing a plot to make his ending come true.
     I am well aware of his plot.  I have his list of exactly what would happen at every point in the story if he were writing it.  He is currently weaving a web to trap everybody into doing exactly what he wants.
     Up to this point, his plots have not bothered me.  In fact, they have fit pretty well into my own plot.  You might not have guessed it since my plan is to expose/punish the bad guy and change the country for the better.  But knowing that I will win, I have been working through my other characters to bring about my plan, and I haven't been bothered by the schemes of the bad guy.  And everything that he has plotted for evil, I am going to turn for good.
    So far, our plots have been running simultaneously: I am moving my players into place and he is doing the same.  My characters have been taking their time moving into place because they each have their own issues to work through to get there.  Their slowness does not bother me - partly because I know that they will still get there in time and partly because my plot includes the changing of the individuals as well as the changes for the country.
     Soon I will reach the end of my little story.  Already, the plans of the bad guy are beginning to be thwarted and mine are gaining momentum.  The bad guy is currently scrambling for his plan B and C and so forth, but soon he will be defeated altogether and my grand finale will be revealed.  It will be good.

     Now my parable is not a perfect comparison because I, obviously, am not God.  However, I do see how it is that God is writing our story, how He is not phased by the things that happen in the story (the way we characters might be), how He is not worried about how the characters (or even the bad guys) behave, and how He will end the story the way that He planned to do so.  And, if I were a more perfect author, you could draw many more comparisons.
     What "parables" do you see in your own life?

Monday, January 6, 2014

The Hollywood Formula for Plots: Stolen Post from Anne-girl

Scribblings of My Pen and Tappings of My Keyboard.: Lessons from Pixar: The Hollywood Formula in Toy Story 2

Above is a link to a writer's blog.  She posted another form of plot structure, and, since we are currently researching plot structures, I thought I would include this one in my studies.
This one is a bit different from the W plot that I found a week or two ago.  I like finding multiple sources on a topic -- you begin to see what is common to all and what is unique to each.  I think it helps you decide for yourself what sort of structure YOU would like to use.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Quote from the Dungeon



     One large red-faced cook thought she saw a figure in a cape run by the open kitchen door.  She dropped the onion she was peeling and rushed to the door.  But, though she craned her neck to look up and down the hallway, she saw no one.
     “Humph,” snorted the large, red-faced cook.
     And so, the princess returned undetected to her own lovely halls, high in the castle.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Deadlines


     Many writers write to deadlines.  Theoretically, it is a good idea.  I tend to do well with setting a time to be done.  It is easy to work hard when you know that you will have a break, and goals are fun to accomplish.  For example, cleaning the house is so much more productive if I say, "I will see how much I can get done in x amount of time."
     On the other hand, writing is a little more artistic than cleaning your house.  I rarely try to fit art into a deadline. 
     I know some of you have written to a deadline, either professionally or in a project (like Nano).  What did you think of it?  Did it make things harder or easier?  Were you able to accomplish your goals?  How did you feel about your end product?

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Year's Traditions

     People have various New Year's traditions.  Most of them haven't made it past the "oh, that's a neat idea" stage for me.  But I do have one thing that I specifically try to do on New Year's Day.

     I write in my New Year's Day book.
 
     I made up the idea myself several years ago.  I got a notebook and put it on my shelf, promising to write in it only one day out of the year.  I picked New Year's Day because I was usually off work on that day, and our family spends the day very quietly.  There are no presents, no parties, no expected holiday demands.  It was a predictable time each year when I would be able to write something.  And, since I only write in the notebook once a year, it becomes a sort of time-traveler book.
     There are no rules about what I should write in it.  I tend to write a list of memorable events from the past year, but I don't have to.  It's mostly important that I just write something in it and on New Year's Day only.
     What about you?  Is there anything that you especially try to do on New Year's Day?