I’m taking part in DIY MFA 2.0 this month.
Today’s exercise is to choose a scene, either your own or someone elses and draw a character compass. A character compass is drawn using the TADA method:
More information can be found here.
I didn’t draw the compass shape as I am unable to, I used highlighters to define the different bits. This is from a piece I am currently working on ‘Visions That Shatter’. I have no qualms about sharing thi as the scene will not survive in its current form once I move onto the next draft, even if it survives at all.
Extract from Visions That Shatter:
June 21st. Summer Solstice or for those who follow the old tradition, Lithia. It was a cool evening and Jo Bellini and Ryan Cresswell were enjoying a picnic in the park after work. In love, they were laughing and joking, enjoying each other’s company. The picnic was consumed inbetween bouts of laughter. The trees above them were still casting shadows but the sun was now setting.
It was not only the night sky that was turning into darkness as Jo and Ryan were greeted by a middle aged man jogging through the park who asked what was happening with Lenora’s case. Something in Ryan snapped and his eyes hardened in anger and sorrow. Seeing the look in Ryan’s eyes the man realised that he shouldn’t have asked the question. But the damage was done. Ryan took several moments to compose himself, struggling to keep his emotions at bay.
Jo took over, realising that Ryan is unable to continue. “It’s moving slowly… like all these things do.” This was punctuated with a hard glare that warned that no more questions would be allowed. The man muttered his condolences and hope for a speedy resolution before jogging away away at a brisk pace mindful of Jo’s glare.
They sat in silence now, Jo was at a loss as to what to say. His sister’s death had wounded him deeply, and he was showing little sign of healing. She tried talking to him gently to ease his pain, in hope that he might start opening up to her but all she received was a piercing glare that showed his anger. Ryan was so tense that his eyes were bulging and knuckles were white. Determined to let him know that he could confide in her she took one of his hands and caressed its knuckles. “I’m here when you’re ready to talk.” Silence. “I’m not going anywhere.” This was acknowledged with a nod before he bowed his head. This was a sure sign that tears were threatening to spill. Jo wasn’t surprised that he started picking up the picnic things and leading her out of the park in silence. Jo hoped that he wouldn’t realise how stiff her joints were as he helped her to her feet. She was holding on to Ryan tightly for support, a little too tightly, fearing she was going to slip and fall over.
Neither of them were aware of a man watching them as he took a drag of his cigarette. He followed them as they moved through the park.
Nearing the park’s gateway Ryan’s cell phone rang. He motioned for Jo to go and sit on the bench near a near a trimmed hedge, acutely aware how hard his girlfriend was finding it to walk tonight. Ryan answered the call with an annoyed sigh. It was Sorrell demanding his immediate attention, making Ryan’s mood even more sour. He didn’t want to deal with him tonight. Jo closed her eyes trying to use willpower alone to make the pain and stiffness in her legs go away. She caught snippets of Ryan’s conversation. “I’ll be there as soon as I can…” “I need to sort Jo out first…” The phone clicked off and Ryan growled. Without looking at Jo he dialled for a taxi. Once finished, he took a glance at his girlfriend. “That was Manny…”
“Why the taxi?”
“To take you home.”
“I can walk home.”
He responded with a look of pure disbelief and sat beside her on the bench. “Uh huh. You’re as stiff as a corpse honey. It would take you a good couple of hours to walk home.” Inwardly Jo cursed at her inability to hide her stiffness from Ryan. Without thinking Jo placed her head on Ryan’s shoulder and he began caressing her back hoping to remove some of the stiffness. They sat in silence until the taxi arrived. Ryan helped Jo into the cab and watched it leave. As soon as it was clear, he pulled out his phone again. “Evening Jac. Listen I haven’t much time. I need you to do me a favour…”
I should have spotted the signs when characters in VTS began swapping their functions. An antagonist’s sidekick has become a sidekick to the protagonist, the antagonist has become the sidekick to the antagonist and the ally has become the antagonist. Keeping up? Now the ending has also changed impacting events throughout the story so I need to rewrite my short synopsis and therefore my character story arcs. No I *know* that I shouldn’t stop and start writing when it’s a first draft but if I don’t change these documents I’m going to get in a muddle. Why am I staring at the sections in front of me and making no effort to change them.
Part of me is annoyed at my brain for suggesting this new ending because I’ve spent a couple of months on the original outlines, but yet part of me is thankful as this ending is better as it needs the MC to be active whereas the current version has stuff happening to her with her in denial. Changing VTS means I have to change the events in the short story and novel that need to be written after VTS so that VTS can still serve as a prologue to the universe. I still want the first draft of VTS to be written by 31st March.
Now I should go and make these changes.
I have found setting self imposed deadlines has done wonders for my productivity. My Thunderbird Calendar is now an indispensable part of my writing tools. I am currently writing a short story with a target count of 10k. I want the first draft finished by the end of March. I plan to start outlining my Script Frenzy story on 1st March. I’ve also had an idea for the 2nd annual Original Fiction Big Bang (#ofbb) which needs to be 10k also. Unfortunately the start of #OFBB conflicts with Script Frenzy. Don’t know if I will able to do both.
I am pondering about posting stuff online and if it could harm the chances of my stories getting published. However, I like doing OFBB for the same reason I like doing NaNo. I like the camaraderie of several people writing together and supporting each other.
I’ve set my deadlines till the end of March. I plan to finish and polish at least one piece this year. Scrivener, an alphasmart and a new keyboard are certainly helping but I need to maintain the grunt work. Lets see how I do.
Rating: 13 +
Written for: The Writing Pen – 1st challenge March 2010 – http://community.livejournal.com/thewritingpen/39759.html
Deadline: Mar 14th 2010
Standing by the window, Jasmine looked out at the moon; full, bright and enchanting. Enchanting could easily apply to the man that she was going to meet. His gorgeous face and dark eyes were framed by dark curls, making him look angelic or devilish depending on his mood. Just thinking of him uplifted Jasmine’s spirits, and she smiled as she whispered his name. “Connor Byrne.”
Then her mood changed as she glanced over at the bed. On the bed lay a packed rucksack that contained the most treasured of her possessions. Her heart was sinking but Jasmine knew that this was the right thing to do. She was going to leave this life behind, fleeing in the shadows to avoid confrontation with her overbearing mother, who did not approve of the choices that her daughter was making. Jasmine’s mother was vocal in her disapproval of Connor. Her mother wanted Jasmine to break up with Connor; instead she was planning to flee her childhood home. She had encouraged her mother, Blossom, to go out with a friend to bingo so that she could make her escape.
Jasmine looked around her room one final time. Echoes of memories. Her father whirling her around his head when she was a small child. Birthdays, laughter filling the room. Pillow fights with her best friend. Less happy memories. Her mother announcing that Jasmine’s father had died while she set cross-legged on the bed with tears rolling down her cheek. The slamming of the door after yet another fight with her mother…
Jasmine took a deep breath to stop the tears that had welled up from falling. Now was not the time. She could do that when she was far away from here. At least it was going to end tonight. By deception. Like mother, like daughter.
Left in her room were things that she felt she could leave behind. Mostly knick knacks and teddy bears. Except one. A bear that had been given to Jasmine by her father. It was dark black like her hair and interspersed with white patches. The bear had green eyes and held a deep red heart in its paws that read ‘With Love’ in white thread, and the heart was trimmed with white lace. Unfortunately, it was large and bulky making it very difficult to carry. Jasmine felt she had had no choice but to leave it behind.
Jasmine walked over to her computer desk where an envelope lay addressed to her mother. She could hear her father’s voice inside her head. Part of her desperately hoped that this illusion was real.
‘A letter? All she gets is a letter?
‘Yes. She gets a ltter.’ was the answer back in her head.
Jasmine picked up the letter from the desk, placing it into the paws of the large black bear, before grabbing her rucksack and moving into the kitchen. Going to the back door, she turned out the kitchen light.
She walked out of the back door determined not to look back. A new chapter in Jasmine’s life was going to begin tonight. The thought was giving her butterflies. Her mind began to wander as she walked up the road to meet Connor. Jasmine looked up at the sky and saw the full moon again. This filled her with hope and doubt. She knew that she needed to leave her mother but was leaving with Connor the right thing to do? Could she be the one that was being deceived?
Connor was a charmer, alright, but also a sensitive soul during his quiet moments. When she was with him, she felt alive and loved. The relationship might not last forever, but Jasmine realised that she needed to trust that this was the right step to take on her journey. For good or for ill she needed to have the guts to stand by her decision.
Jasmine turned the corner and let out a sigh of relief when she saw Connor’s car. She walked over quickly, got in and threw her rucksack on the back seat. Connor leaned over and hugged her tightly. “You ok?”
“Yeah. Feel better when we get outta here.”
Connor was about to drive off when he paused and looked over at the back seat. “Er… Where’s your bear? The really big one.”
“I left it behind.”
“But your dad…”
“Too bulky to carry.”
He took the cord that hung around Jasmine’s neck with her key. Connor looked at his watch and started the car. Jasmine felt a tear roll down her cheek. She was too absorbed in her thoughts to notice where Connor was going. Suddenly, the car stopped and the young man got out. She looked up and realised that they were parked outside the house and started to panic, hoping that her mother wasn’t about to return home.
Inside, Connor quickly made his way to Jasmine’s bedroom. Luckily, he noticed the letter and stuffed it in his pocket before taking the bear from the bed. He left, not bothering to close the door like Jasmine did. When he got back to the kitchen, he laid the bear down on the kitchen table. He took the letter left by Jasmine from one pocket and reached into his other pocket producing another letter, this time addressed to ‘Mrs Matthews’ scrawled across the envelope. Another look at his watch before picking up the bear in his hands, and the key cord with his teeth. He left, locking the kitchen door with a struggle, before dashing back to the car.
He tossed the bear in the back seat before handing Jasmine her key. “Thank me later, yeah. We need to move.” Jasmine gave him a quick kiss before they sped off into the moonlight.
Some time later, a little after midnight, a slightly drunken middle aged woman began to make her way home. Her illusions of her happy home were about to disappear.
Rating: 13 +
Written for: The Writing Pen – 2nd challenge February 2010 – http://community.livejournal.com/thewritingpen/36207.html
Deadline: Feb 28th 2010
Your Potent Elixir
I have a deadline just days away, yet nothing of substance has been written. Strong images whir inside my head one after the other, still the pen in my hand does not move. Ideas are forming, my senses heightened but the page in front of me remains blank. What is blocking me? I am blocking me. I am at a loss to explain this. The words remain unwritten.
I close my eyes to clear my head, silently begging the universe for the words to pour forth. A familiar sensation begins to overtake me. I smile as a vision of you appears in front of me. You grin back at me, a sight that could tempt the most devout into following you along the shadowy paths. Smiling, laughing, flirting. I am lost now captivated by your eyes and what they reveal to me. I drink in the sight of you and I feel intoxicated. You nourish me in ways that no-one else can. My breathing becomes shallower as you beckon me to walk with you through the veil of secrets that I can see behind you. I should be wary, but with you I feel safe. I long for the day when I can experience your scent next to mine.
Understanding is slowly forming from the mists around me. You are a potent elixir that I feed on; like blood to a vampire. A longing hunger that sparks the muse and sustains me. Keeps me warm in the dark. If I could taste you I imagine you to be rich, dark, and soulful like your appearance. This fantasy is just that, an illusion, but it makes me feel alive. Slowly melting the iceberg that was once my heart. You dare to make me dream and peek out from my self imposed exile. Force me to acknowledge the Empress within, as well as the High Priestess visage that I show the world. Will you be my Emperor and High Priest? Have I really dared to ask that question? What has become of me?
I am rambling yet the page is still unfilled. Every word a struggle. Therein is the rub. The magic that you weave consumes me; yet this is still a fallacy. I am beneath you. Our paths are unlikely to cross but you have opened doors that were locked from the inside. I have awoken from my slumber. I feel overwhelmed unable to make sense of our world and write.
My deepest fear is the clearest truth. You inspire me but words I write down on the page do not do justice to your beauty, power, talents, or even the gifts you have given to me. I take a deep breath and try to imagine interactions between you and I. Words fail me as I emerge from the subconscious world to the conscious world. I long to bring your gifts into physical form; for the elixir you provide to sustain me in this world beyond the illusion.
You have taken hold in my life like roots of a tree. Steadfast and strong, providing forbidden fruits that intoxicate me, sooth my soul, and keep me under your spell.