Tuesday, September 14, 2010

9/14 It's teaser time again!

*Yawns* Brigid is tired. And choosing to talk in the third person.

Sorry I haven't really been posting anything besides teasers lately. I think my next non-teaser post will be about clich├ęs. Hopefully that will magically appear in the next few days.

Since lately I've been depressing you to death with my teasers, here's something from Edge. I've probably brought it up before, but it's a sci-fi I wrote … ehhh … a year and a half ago? And I just finished writing Jump (the sequel) not that long ago––like, two months ago or something. So here's a fun little part from the beginning-ish of Edge. I need to edit it, sooo I know it's not perfect. But ahh well. For the record, Max is my favorite character. Like, ever. (Of my own characters, that is)

By now, the sunlight had diffused through the sky, bleaching it with pale gold. The city almost looked beautiful – in a sad, disturbing kind of way.

I walked the deserted streets, without knowing where I was going. But at the same time, I didn’t feel lost. In fact, I felt confident that I was going in the right direction. That didn’t mean I wasn’t still afraid and bewildered; I still felt like I was striding through some unreal, nightmarish world. It simply meant that I had a feeling that I was doing what I was supposed to be doing – or what the voice wanted me to do, anyway. It seemed to have some kind of power over me; that is, it could not only speak into my head, but it could also control my physical actions, to a certain extent.

I hoped that it was trustworthy.

Everything was still, making prickles go up and down my spine. I kept expecting someone to jump out and attack me, kept hearing the voice’s ominous words: “Most of the ones left are your enemies.”

Speaking of which, the voice hadn’t said anything for a while. In a weird way, I sort of wanted it to come back. It was the only company I had, the only thing I could depend upon.

“Still there?” I tried, cautiously.

“We’re always here.”

“Right,” I croaked, and then didn’t know what else to say. “Um … So, I’m guessing you’re not going to tell me who you are?”

“We can’t do that.”

I rolled my eyes. “Didn’t think so.”

“But you can trust us.”

“Yeah, yeah. You’ve already told me that.”

The voice fell silent, and I actually started to feel bad that I had gotten so impatient. Of course, it’s not like it wasn’t expected that I felt impatient. Anyone would have been, if they’d found themselves in my unimaginable position: wandering through some post-apocalyptic world, without a clue as to who I was or what I was doing, with no company but the voice inside my head that wouldn’t answer any of my questions. It was a little frustrating. Just a little.

“Look, I’m sorry,” I sputtered, “but you’re kind of driving me crazy. You keep saying that you can’t tell me anything, that I’ll find out all the answers soon, but I need some answers now. Why can’t you give me one hint?”

“What sort of hint did you have in mind?” the voice asked, surprising me.

I frowned. “I – I don’t know. About anything. About who you are, about who I am, about what my purpose is.”

“You may want to be more specific,” the voice advised. “And start with something simple.”

I breathed out a long sigh, and tried to keep my patience. “Okay … How old am I?”

“You are eighteen years old.”

Okay, so I had guessed correctly on that one. “So, how old was I when I … fell asleep?”

“You were seventeen. It was about half a year ago.”

Half a year. That wasn’t so bad, I told myself. It could have been worse.

But why did I even care? It’s not like I could remember what I had left behind in that time. It’s not like I had anything or anyone to worry about, except for myself. So what did it matter? I could have been asleep for a century, and it wouldn’t have made a difference.

The thought irritated me, for some reason, filling me with bitterness. I kicked a piece of broken brick as I walked, watching it skip ahead of me on the littered pavement, over and over again. It was like my mind, my memories: right there, right in my reach, and yet always getting away from me, always a step ahead.

“Okay,” I said again, realizing that I hadn’t spoken for a whole minute. “So, you keep telling me that I have some special ‘destiny’ or whatever, all this save-the-world crap. Right? So, I assume, then, that I have some sort of … abilities, to help me with that.”

“Clarify,” the voice instructed.

“Fine, fine,” I exclaimed. “I know this is a stupid question. But I guess what I’m trying to ask is: Do I have superpowers?”

The voice paused. “Something like that.”

“Yay,” I said, with no enthusiasm. “What can I do, then? Can I fly?”

“No.”

“Read minds?”

“No.”

“Shoot lasers from my eyes?”

“No.”

“Uh … Do I have telekinesis?”

“No.”

Darn. Telekinesis would’ve been cool.

“Can I turn invisible?”

“No.”

I was running out of ideas. “Can I drink an entire gallon of milk without puking?”
The voice’s tone remained serious, impassive. “Why would you want to do that?”

“I wouldn’t!” I exclaimed. “But you’re not really helping me out, here. Are you going to tell me what I can do or what?”

Right then, I got that feeling again: the feeling like I was losing control of myself. I stopped, suddenly, and looked at the ground. I saw the piece of brick that I had been kicking, and felt compelled to pick it up, which I did. I felt its rough edges, its coarse texture, its weight in the palm of my hand.

Then my fingers curled around it, lightly at first. I narrowed my eyes, and a strange, blank emotion washed over my thoughts. At the same time, an irresistible adrenaline shot through my veins, tingling at my fingertips. My fist grew tighter and tighter, closing around the solid object I was holding.

In the back of my mind, I wondered what I was doing. I wondered what I expected to happen, or what the voice expected to happen. Nothing was supposed to happen … Right? I was squeezing a piece of rock – or whatever brick was made out of. Big deal.

Only, instead of resisting, the piece of brick gave way. When I should have stopped, unable to close my fingers any more, they kept going, closing, crushing.

Then the only thing left in my hand was a crumbled mess, a dull red gravel that slipped through my fingers and fell to the ground.

I stared and stared, coming back to my senses with a jolt. “Oh,” I said.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

9/7 TUESDAY TEASER TIME!

Hullo there. I have some lovely writing to share with you today.

But first I quickly want to say that I have become addicted to Inkpop. If you know what Authonomy is, it's the exact same thing but for teen writers. That is, you post writing and people review it and "pick" it. At the end of each month, HarperCollins editors read the five most popular stories. I've recently set up an account, so if you have one look for me! My username is Brigid.Rose and so far I've posted Unraveling. My rank is like 746 right now, so yeahhh my story could use some love! Thanks :) And if you don't have an account, I recommend getting one. It's a great site for getting/giving feedback. Seems like the people on it are online pretty much all the time––so if someone says they'll do a review for you, they usually do it pretty fast. Check it out!

NOW IT'S STORY TIME!

Today I am going to share a bit of Sky-Fall, since I haven't yet. I've only written a chapter of this story so far––except that one chapter is like 10 pages long since there are four points of view and soooo … Never mind. I'm rambling.

I know I've mentioned it briefly before, but just a reminder that this is a sci-fi/dystopia about four teenagers living in this world where people fight with giant robots. There are no giant robots in this part though because it focuses on Avery, a girl who is currently trapped in a concentration camp––inspired by the Holocaust and Japanese Internment camps. (Hooray for history class.) Enjoy!

Avery had grown very used to the sight of her shoes. She had watched their condition deteriorate every weary day for the past three years. Once, the leather had been smooth and brown. Now the color had faded to a dull gray to match the dusty ground. Her feet had once been too small to fit in the shoes; now she had to curl her toes, and they ached from being crammed up inside. She knew it was only a matter of time before the shoes fell apart and she would have to walk the Camp barefoot … that is, if she survived long enough. She wasn't even sure if she would survive the next five minutes.

She held her breath and watched the guard's boots trudge by. She was standing next to her older sister, Elisa. They were holding hands, and she couldn't remember who had reached for whose hand first. A story ran through her head––a story her parents had told her years ago. The story was about two sisters stuck in a tree, and at the roots there was a demon singing “Don't look down, don't look down” and the girls knew that if they looked down, their souls would be sucked into darkness. Yet, even knowing what would happen if they slipped for just a moment, they had still been tempted. It was how she felt right now––knowing that she was dead if she looked up, and yet feeling this rush of curiosity.

The black boots passed, but she heard them as they crunched against the ground, moving down the line. The silence made her ears ring, made her want to scream. Why couldn't someone speak already? She didn't care what horrible news it was, but she needed to hear a voice, something to assure her that she wouldn't be standing here forever.

At last, the sound of footsteps came to a stop. The guard spoke, and he spoke words that had chased Avery through her nightmares ever since the day her parents were killed.

“Someone escaped last night.”

No one said anything. No one screamed, no one sobbed, no one made a sound. But Avery knew, without looking, that almost everyone was crying silently in fear. She felt the tears sting at her own eyes, and she had a sick feeling in her heart.

“There will be no protest. There will be no accusations of who ran away or who let them run away. You all know the rules.”

Of course she knew the rules, just like the rest of them did: If someone escaped from the Camp, one other person would be killed at random. It always made her feel like screaming in rage, to think of those who escaped. She wished that she could get away; everyone wished for that. But how could you be selfish enough to actually do it, knowing that some innocent person would have to die because of your actions?

Avery was aware of a pounding headache blossoming between her eyes, like nails being driven into her skull. She swayed on her feet, but she didn't move. If she made one small movement, if she caught the guard's attention for one second …

You.” The bark of an order jolted all of her nerves alive, making her so tense that she felt like she was sculpted out of ice. Even though the voice had come from the other end of the line, she still felt that rush of horror, waiting to feel a hand grab onto her arm and shove her down onto her knees in the dirt. But she was still standing, still alive, and she could hear a woman screaming, “No, no! Don't take him! No!”

Avery dared to look up, just out of the corner of her eye. She saw a young man kneeling on the ground, his head bent in submission. The woman screaming was probably his wife. Two other women were holding her back, whispering to her––probably reminding her that if she kept screaming, the guard would shoot her, too.

Again, there was a demon-voice in Avery's head, singing “Don't look … Don't look …” but she couldn't look away. She saw the guard step behind the man, raising a gun and holding it to the back of the man's head. But all she could think about was when her father was in the same position, and then how her mother had been killed in the same way, for the same reason. She heard the crack of the bullet as it was released, the noise that always ended her dreams and made her wake up sweating and sobbing in terror. She saw the man drop to the ground, not making a single noise. He was probably dead before he knew it.

Avery stared at the eyes turned towards her––lifeless, like a pair of glass marbles. Blood spread around his head, appearing black as it seeped through the gray dirt. The dead man's wife let out a choked noise, holding back her screams. Avery remembered how Elisa had covered her mouth after they'd watched their parents die, how her sister had whispered fiercely in her ear, “Don't scream, don't scream.” But she'd heard Elisa's voice shaking, and she'd known that her sister was stifling screams of her own.

She had lost track of how many deaths she'd seen by now, but she knew the pattern––first she felt the numbness, then the ache of weariness and hopelessness as the day dragged by, and finally, at night, she would cry in the darkness. She would see the injustice of it all.

The only reason they were here was because they were Eversio. Even before she and her family had been taken to the Camp, she'd seen the way people looked at her parents and her sister, how people spat on the ground and called them scum, called them Hostilis. It hadn't been until she was about nine or ten years old that she understood: People thought they were enemies, just because of the darker shade of their skin, the black hair, the brown eyes. They came from the same land as the Hostilis, as the enemies. That didn't mean they were spies, but Avery had learned from an early age that when someone called you Hostilis, you didn't defend yourself. You kept your eyes on the ground, and you kept your mouth shut.

For Avery, it had always been less of a problem, because she confused people. Her skin was a few shades lighter than that of her parents and sister. It still had that darker tint to it that betrayed her Eversio blood, but it was light enough that she could pass as Moenian––as one of the city people, as someone who belonged here.

Elisa had suggested several times that if Avery could escape, she would actually have a chance of surviving in the city.

“One look at me, and they'd just send me back here, right back where I started,” she'd said. “But you could be mistaken for one of them. You could make a life for yourself.”

Avery had never quite believed it. She would never live a life free of discrimination. Maybe no one would ever outright call her Hostilis, but she was still just a little too dark to automatically be considered Moenian. People would always look at her twice. People would always look at her with that hardness in their eyes, biting back insults just in case they were wrong about her––but nevertheless, the taunts and the accusations would always be there … at least until the war ended.

But she had a feeling it wouldn't be over for a long, long time.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Outlining––Why It's Awesome!

A long, long time ago (well, okay, about a year ago) I wrote a lengthy post on how to write a novel. Most writers have the same big problem: they can write pretty well, but they can't write a whole novel no matter how they try. The key to finishing a novel, in my opinion, is the outline. So, I thought I'd elaborate on that point.

I know what a lot of you are thinking … Eew, an outline? Why should I write an outline? I know what I'm going to write! and/or I'm just going to wing it and see what happens!

Well, I'm not going to tell you there is one "right" way to write a book. You can do whatever works best for you. But if you never outline, I strongly urge you to try it. I find that if I have a full outline––or at least most of one––I'm more likely to finish something and to produce something I like.

I didn't discover the beauty of the outline until about two years ago. Before then I always made up stories as I went along, but this led to a lot of boring parts where I didn't know what to write, to plot holes … to overall messiness. All rough drafts are going to be very messy, outline or no. And outlining isn't going to make writing a book "easier". But at least, if you plan carefully, you can find a sense of direction in your story and be aware of where its gaps are.

So, how do you go about outlining? Well, you can break it down to three simple things––the setting, the characters, and the plot.

Setting:

Decide where the setting is. Is it in a city, a town, the middle of nowhere? What time period is it? Does it even take place in our world? How does the location/time/world affect technology, how people dress, how people act, how people survive, etc. ?

Characters:

Decide on a main character. Male or female? How old is he/she? What's his/her objective in the story? What's his/her personality like? You can do more detailed planning on your MC using character inventories or character interviews (You can easily find ideas for character outlines/interviews via Google or another search engine). What are the supporting characters like? Friends? Family? Love interests? Plan out the most important characters. (And make sure none of your characters are Mary Sues, please!)

Plot:

There are several different techniques for plotting out your story. I always start by writing down the basic premise––a few sentences, maybe a paragraph, about the story. Then I write a more detailed summary––something two or three paragraphs long similar to something you'd read on the inside cover of a book. And then I get to the real dirty, extensive outline. There are a few approaches to this, and everyone has a different method. Here are three pretty common/basic ones that might help you.

1. The detailed outline: Write what's going to happen in every chapter, paragraph by paragraph, down to the very small details. The pros: You pretty much know everything that's going to happen, including dialogue and descriptions. The cons: You sacrifice some freedom/spontaneity, and you might end up feeling constrained by this type of outline.

2. The rough outline: Write a bullet point for each chapter––only a few sentences at most for each point. The pros: It leaves freedom but still gives you a sense of direction. You can simply figure out what to write but not necessarily how to write it. Sure, you're free to put in specific descriptions here and there But it's not necessary to plot out every single little detail. The cons: In this case you might end up with more "holes" in your outline, which can be frustrating. Sometimes you just have to wait for inspiration to strike. But of course, that's better than starting to actually write a novel, only to find that you have no idea where it's going.

3. The Snowflake Method. This is like a combination of the rough outline and the detailed outline. That is, it's a method where you start with a rough outline, and then you keep adding details until it's a detailed outline. It uses the idea of a fractal to explain how to go about doing this––starting with a "triangle" and ending with a "snowflake". The whole thing is explained better here. I've never tried it and it looks a bit time consuming, but if you have the patience it looks like it would be helpful!


An outline template that looks useful :)


Thanks for reading! Hope the advice was useful. As always, post questions if you have 'em.

Tuesday Teaser tomorrow! :)