Story Prompt #15

Scenario Prompt:

Natural disasters had become more frequent in the area since the remains of the High Priestess had vanished from her tomb. The locals believe her final resting place was built over a gateway to the underworld and she was their protector.

-Promptuarium (Found on Pinterest)

Conflicting Emotions

Hello Fiction Lovers!

Lately, I’ve been reading the Last Herald-Mage series by Mercedes Lackey (whose interesting books I would recommend by the way) and her writing and characters have reminded me that characters–like real-life people–can have conflicting emotions. Sometimes when I’m writing I’m so focused on what the character is supposed to feel or how they are going to react that I find I forget that they can conflicting emotions. Having conflicting emotions can make them feel more like actual people and tie in other parts of the story to the scene you’re writing. No scene or dialogue is in a vacuum which means the emotions driving that scene or dialogue can’t be located in one either. People feel lots of different things at once about different things and more than likely they will feel those things at the same time.

Having conflicting emotions can also help with character development and motivation. It can help the reader know what is more important to the character based on what they are having conflicting feels about and what emotion they end up acting upon. A character who really wants a book but won’t go get it because they are afraid of the adult standing near it, and a character who really wants a book but doesn’t get it because they are worried about their financial situation are two very different people. The result is the same, but emotional impact and knowledge of the character is very different. Also, if the reader is told the character wants a book but doesn’t end up getting one without another emotional reason as to why the scene feels unfinished, lackluster, or confusing.

You don’t have to use conflicting emotions all the time but making use of them can make your story feel more cohesive and flow better. It can also break up the monotony of a character only being driven by one emotion–something that becomes unrealistic quickly and that becomes boring. Conflicting emotions can also point to internal vs external conflicts and pressures in the story.

I hope this post helped and let me know if you have any questions. Feel free to post your thoughts or anything you think I missed in the comments. I hope you all have a good week!

Internal Rain

Hello Fiction Lovers!

Today I thought I would share a piece of my own writing so you all can get an idea of my style and in order to do something different than just sharing my thoughts. The first line comes from a prompt from thefirstline.com. Please let me know what you think or let me know if you have any questions.

“Internal Rain”

By the fifteenth month of the drought, the lake no longer held her secrets. The girl gave a harsh smile at the dry, cracked ground where the water used to be. She started to laugh but it quickly became a cough from the lack of moisture in her mouth and throat.

Everyone else was gone now. The village was as deserted and dead as the greenery that used to surround it. Now all that was left was the dust—enough dust to bury the world if it wasn’t always getting whipped up by the wind—and the girl and the dried lake with the corpse.

The girl could no longer remember any color that wasn’t a variation of brown, white or black. Even the sky was a light brown because of the dust. Green and blue belonged to another time like a dream when she drank from a withered cactus just to feel something wet on her tongue. Another time when the water witch stole her secrets.

But now the witch was dead; her life gone as the final drop of the lake got soaked up by the sun. The girl slipped over the dried lake’s rim and skidded and stepped her way to bottom of the deep depression. In the middle of the lake, at the deepest point when it was full, lay the corpse. It was a shrunken thing. Pale grey skin stretched taut over frail bones and faded into fish scales at the witch’s waist. The witch had a tail where a person’s legs would be and scales had flaked off to look like tiny dew drops on the cracked ground. The witch’s corpse was curled in, around something that it held tight to its chest.

The girl snarled and dropped to her knees. She pried back the corpse’s fingers, ignoring any pops and cracks that got swept away in the wind. As soon as she made a big enough opening the girl stuck her hand in and pulled out a glass marble. Within the marble a rainbow swirled. The girl stared, entranced, for a long while, trying to remember the names of all the colors. A slow smile curved the corners of her mouth. Then the girl brought the marble to her lips and swallowed it. She knew the moment it entered her belly; a relaxing coldness flowed out from her stomach to suffuse her from the tips of her toes to the crown of her head. The girl bent her head back and laughed, this time without coughing.

Finally, she had her secrets back. Now she longer had to only tell the truth and avoid revealing questions. Now she had her old, secret power returned.

The girl tested out her ability to lie.

“I will never forgive you for taking my secrets,” she told the corpse.

“I don’t blame the villagers for leaving in the night,” she told the ground.

“I’m not lonely,” the girl murmured in the dust.

The girl rubbed her aching eyes. There wasn’t any moisture to squeeze out of them. The girl lowered her hands to stare at the witch, “Why did you leave me?”

The witch’s corpse was slowly being covered in dust. The girl bent again and tried to brush it off, but the wind just replaced what she removed. The girl scowled in frustration. The coldness started to well up in her fingertips. She concentrated on the feeling until it became an unbearable buzz.

The girl stood and then swept her hand through the air above her head. The air grew damp and heavy carrying the scent of rain. Lightning cut through the dust and thunder rolled moments later. The girl concentrated on the coldness in her fingers again before sweeping her hand back through the air. Lightning and thunder, and then she felt something on her face. The girl wiped it off and looked at the water on her fingertip. Then another droplet fell, and another and another until the ground began to darken from the rain. The water poured down and the girl didn’t take pleasure in the sudden end of the long drought. This was her last secret the witch stole: the ability to make the world cry for her because tears hadn’t wet her eyes since the day she was born.

Story Prompt #13

Character Prompt:

There’s a magician who lives in the city and everyday they take a walk to a garden just outside the city. The magician never stays for very long, only for a few minutes at most, before returning to the city.

Why does the magician walk to the garden everyday? What does he/she do there? Is important to their past or in a future event/meeting? What is the magician like (personality/looks)?

Feel free to post anything this inspires in the comments or let me know if you have any questions!

Pets in Fiction

Hello Fiction Lovers!

Many people I know–as do I–love animals and benefit from the companionship a pet offers. The moments when the cat actually deigns to use your lap as a pillow, or the dog greets you with such enthusiasm that you think you must of been gone for ten years instead of ten minutes, really help make the day go from bad to good or from good to perfect. Knowing this, it makes the distinct lack of pets in fiction disappointing. They can add so much to the story and yet often writers don’t spare the words to add them in. Pets can help the characters by giving them support, providing them with motivation to keep going and comfort when things are bad, and being just enough of a lovable nuisance to keep things interesting. Pets aren’t perfect, just like people, but that’s just what makes them more fun.

The great thing about having pets in fiction is that they don’t have to be a dog or a cat or a fish as well. A wizard could have a dragon or a nightmare as a pet, a warrior could have their trusty stead (which could be a horse as easily as it could be a camel or rhino), a cyborg could have a sentient animal-like robot or a monkey. Truly, your imagination is the limit. The pets in question wouldn’t have to been actual animals from here on Earth unless the story takes place on Earth as we know it (and even then you could come up with an explanation about how having a fictional creature for a pet would work for that story).

This isn’t to say that every story needs to have a pet added to it. There are some stories were having a pet involved would be out of place and not  good for the characters or the pet, but having pets added to at least a few stories could help them along.

So just as there are many pets looking for adoption in the real world, I’m sure there are more than a few looking for their life long companions in fiction. I wish you luck with finding the perfect one for your story!

Feel free to post any examples of great pets you’ve read in fiction down in the comments and let me know if you have any questions. I hope you all have a great week!

Story Prompt #11

Scenario Prompt:

Have two characters in a setting together–a room, a coffee shop, a car–and ask yourself “what if?”. What if one the characters just told a secret they’ve never said aloud before? What if a coffee addict decides to rob the coffee shop of all its flavors of coffee? What if the car gets stolen by aliens?

Ask “what if?” and whatever pops into your head, the very first thing, write about it no matter how odd or stereotypical it is. And then as you’re writing keep asking yourself that question to see where it leads. You might end up with a broken friendship, an interesting group of robbers, a war fought throughout the galaxy through car racing, and/or something else entirely. That’s the fun of it:)

Feel free to post anything in the comments that this inspires or contact me if you have any questions!

Fantastical Settings

Hello Fiction Lovers!

For the past few days I’ve been thinking about the settings in many of the books I’ve read lately. All of them featured the classic European-esque setting full of fields, castles, and lords/ladies, or the normal urban fantasy setting of a Western city. Even though I like those settings as much as the next person sometimes I think we forget that in fantasy we can do anything as long as it makes sense in the story (and sometimes, depending on the style of what’s being written, it doesn’t even need that qualification).

I think it would help the genre if more authors branched out and drew from other parts of our world to influence the world they are writing or truly made up a new one that has little likeness to what we know. Doing so could make some of the classic storylines interesting again and possibly create new storylines that weren’t even possible before. After all, who wouldn’t want to read a story that takes place in a society whose morality is influenced by the moon and that has never experienced a day without snow? Or perhaps a group of reptilian-like people who live in a forest of giant mushrooms?

It would be a fun exercise I think to come up with 5-10 different settings that are different from the ones I mentioned in the beginning of this post and then start the same storyline in each setting and see how it changes/how the setting influences it. Keep in mind though that usually the best settings make sense for why they are the way they are. While you don’t have to throw all the reasoning at the reader at once it can be good for you, as the writer, to at least have a basic idea even if that idea in the beginning is only “becuase magic/the god(s) made it that way”. You could also take the route where even if the setting isn’t anything like we have on earth the society or societies that interact with that setting make sense becuase of the setting. Geograpghy has a powerful influence on culture.

I hope this post was thought provoking! Let me know if you have any questions and feel free to post anything in the comments that this post inspired.