Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Loose Threads

Loose Threads is a novel I was writing last summer. I got to about Chapter Four and then realized all the things that were wrong with the story, which is what tends to happen with most of my potential novels. My problem with writing full-length book stories is that I always have a completed backbone of the main events, but don't plan enough for the flesh that provides transitions...so I just sort of stop when I don't know how to get the characters from here to there. Loose Threads was an interesting case. It was actually intended to be a tying-together of all my previous abandoned stories: The Dragon Rider and The Healer (awful title), Carry the Night, Dream-Weaver (which I've now turned into Weaver of Dreams), and another untitled one involving fairies--which meant tons of characters and numerous plotlines that I had no idea how to handle. I am actually considering picking it up again and narrating beginning from a different point. After more planning, of course.
Anyway, though, in digging through some files to reexamine the story this morning, I came across this ridiculous little thing I wrote to help myself get to know the huge cast of characters. Heh.


Song and I are sitting together in my room on my bed, talking. We are talking about lots of different things. Right now the topic of conversation is giraffes.
"I still don't get it," says Song, chewing doubtfully on the latest piece of candy I've given her. "How can an animal have such a long neck? Wouldn't it just, you know, fall over and break? I mean, break and fall over, and hey! You know what? I just realized this sweet thing is really good too! Do you have more?"
"I think they just have strong neck bones," I tell her, purposely ignoring her last question. I do have more candy, but I'm afraid to give her any more than she's eaten already. At present, I am dreading the imminent sugar-high. Song has probably never had this much sugar at one time in her life before.
She looks at me suspiciously, swallowing. "How do I know you aren't making these giraffe things up?"
"You shouldn't be one to question that," I say, "Considering, you're a made-up person."
She is about to answer, but is interrupted.
"Hi Author!" Kah comes bounding into the room and bounces onto the bed next to Song and me. The move knocks one of my pillows to the floor.
"How'd you get in here?" I ask, retrieving the pillow. Kah grins and winks cheekily.
"It wasn't too hard. I heard you were with Song, and everyone knows you can hear her talking from miles away," she says.
"Hey!" Song exclaims, hitting Kah, who winces under the blow.
"By the mountains, Song, do you have to be so violent all the time?" She edges away from the taller girl. Song raises an eyebrow.
"So violent? Are you serious, Kah? I'm a soldier! What did you think?" Song grabs the pillow from me and starts whacking Kah with it, despite the string of protests. I try to stop her and quickly discover that there are disadvantages to having created a character who is five times as strong as I am. Song probably didn't mean to actually injure me, but I am nevertheless forced to hold my hurting arm and watch the violence helplessly. Though it looks like Kah's own fighting instincts have kicked in, because their struggles have landed them half onto the floor by now. I am just trying to stay away and not get hurt further, though I worry for their safety. I had no idea they didn't get along—
Oh wait, never mind. They've stopped and are giggling like little kids now. Gosh, is this what they consider play-wrestling? That probably would have killed me or something.
"'I'm a soldier'? That is possibly the stupidest thing you could ever say to another soldier," laughs Kah, slightly breathless from the fighting episode. Song is laughing too hard to answer, and it's getting more high-pitched by the second. I suspect that's the sugar kicking in.
"What a commotion!" says Eir, dramatically slamming my door open. I am not pleased with the cracking sound it makes against the drywall. He eyes the two girls curiously. "What have you been doing in here?"
"Fighting!" says Song, suddenly coherent. "You know how much I absolutely hate Kah, heheehee..." Her speech trails off into giggles again. And Kah is giggling too. I think it must be some sort of long-standing joke between them. Eir rolls his eyes and pulls them both up, instructing them to fix their clothes and hair, which is enough to sober them both down.
"We know how to do that," Song tells him, irritated. Eir is unfazed.
"Then do it," he says easily.
Song makes an inscrutable grumbling noise, and I can sympathize with her. I completely understand how his calm, composed tone gets on Song's nerves, though I wonder if his getting equally irritated would be any better. On the other hand, Kah seems to find it amusing. Then again, she seems to find a lot of things amusing. Sometimes I wonder if she ever gets angry. (And you'd think, of all people, I should know.)
At this point, Li comes in with a tall girl with long blond hair, whom only I recognize. They are chatting away like old friends, which puzzles me.
"Who're you?" demands Song, pointing at the unknown girl. Dearie me, is she ever the tactless one.
"N.," says the girl.
"No way!" say Kah, Eir, and Song together. "N. is a guy!"
"Yes, I'm a guy," says N., walking through the doorway. "Why is this being questioned?"
Girl-N. looks at me, then at N. in horror, then back at me again. "That's what you turned me into??" she asks incredulously.
"I needed more male characters," I explain lamely, giving her a sheepish smile. "But how do you know Li?"
"We met in the hallway," Li tells me. "I like her a lot better than the newer N."
"I would get offended at that," says N., smiling amiably, "But I'm too flat to have regular human emotions."
Li scoffs, then pauses. "I guess I shouldn't be talking, because I'm flat too," she admits. Then adds, "But not that flat, and I won't be for long."
Girl-N., meanwhile, is still aghast. "I can't believe you kicked me out of the story for that," she gapes at me. "He's not even as handsome as I'm pretty! And way less awesome."
That was rather strange for her to say. I look at her. "When did you become conceited? I definitely did not give you that much depth." (Perhaps this is not a good time to mention that I've already kicked N. out of the story too.)
She shrugs in response to my question.
"On-the-fly character development," suggests Li. "I think it happens often."
"But she's not even in the story anymore," I protest.
"This is a story right now," comes the swift reply. Okay, I have no idea how Li figured that out. I guess I made her scarily perceptive. Or maybe it's that on-the-fly character development she was talking about. Which is absolutely bizarre, because she's the character and I'm the author, and how can she be talking about something that is happening to herself that I am making happen and also making her talk about because I wrote it—ouch. My brain hurts.
"What the—!! Mar!" Kah suddenly yells from the corner. Everyone jumps. (Except for Song, who is fast asleep on my bed, presumably from the sugar crash. I really should have held off on that candy.)
"Go 'way," mumbles a grumpy voice. We all go over to see Mar huddled in the small space between my dresser and the wall, along with all the old spiderwebs and dead spiders that I never got to cleaning out.
"Uh, Mar," says Li, putting her hands on her hips, "What are you doing?"
"Nobody cares," Mar mutters darkly. "I've been here the whole time, and you never noticed. Of course you wouldn't notice."
Li glances at me. "I think she's trying to get attention."  
I think I made you too smart, little dragon rider.
"No, don't say such cruel things," says a light, sweet voice from the doorway, one that I recognize as Rhia's. "She's just hurt, badly hurt. You have to try to understand her."
Mar scowls and hides her face. Rhia looks heartbroken. I am wondering how to make Mar less emo. In a way, both Rhia and Li are right. Mar wants attention that will heal her hurt. Unfortunately, I've emotionally stunted her so much that her only methods involve silent brooding among cobwebs, which is not particularly effective.
"It's all my fault," says Rhia, almost crying.
"Oh! Small child!" says Girl-N., not concerned about Mar whatsoever.
I assume that means Tei is here. Which, I also assume, means Ká is not far behind. Sure enough, the two fae have made their appearance, one tall and lanky, one small and short, both slightly glowing in that weird fairy way. (Is it just me, or is it getting sort of crowded in here?)
Kah seems surprised. "Ká, is that you?" she asks in shock. "You look so different!"
"I was...eum...up—er, updated," says Ká with her funny stumbling accent. It's a pity that now when she speaks human, it sounds so awkward. Her voice is beautiful when she's talking to Tei, though I'm usually the only other one who can hear it. "Long fingers." Ká holds up her newly-long fingers to show Kah. "And my, er, legs—longer too. But hair is same," she adds.
"Kah..." says Eir carefully, "What are you talking to?"
"The little one is cute," Girl-N. comments helpfully.
"They're fairies," I explain. "Ká has somewhat learned human speech, but Tei hasn't, so the cute little one won't be talking."
Tei smiles adorably and melts most of the girls present with her huge blue eyes. (Except for Mar and Rhia, who are both still absorbed in their own melodramatic world.) Maybe I should make her less cute. But no, that would be such a pity. I'll just have to make everyone else less susceptible to Tei's cuteness instead. Excluding myself, that is, because that would be impossible—
Oh, well, apparently Jun has picked this opportune moment to come barreling in and knock Ká to the floor. Uh-oh. She does not look happy. Jun gasps in terror at her or at something else, and leaps nimbly all the way over to the bed, where he lands atop his sister for a rude awakening. Not a smart move, kid. Now you have two women seriously ticked off at you. Thankfully, before either of them kills him, another male enters the room to distract them. It's Aílcruinn, looking mighty amused.
"Boy," he calls out, "I wasn't going to do you any harm, but now you've really got yourself in trouble." I can only imagine that he's referring to the death-glares coming from Ká and Song. Jun cowers and tries to hide. It's not a very hard task, considering the crowded state of the room. "Ká, calm down," says Aílcruinn, chuckling. "No hurting anyone."
"But Father—" I can hear her protesting as she slips into fae-speech.
"No, Ká." He is shaking his head. Ká pouts like a whiny child and obeys. My goodness, sometimes she can be so immature. Song, on the other hand, is pummeling Jun anyway, though it's obviously a gentle punishment. Or what those soldiers classify as "gentle", meaning it would still probably kill me.
"AAHHH!!" the young boy screams, "I wasn't trying to hurt you I promise I was just running away from that guy AHHH because you know how I am jittery around unknown places AAAHH and he was coming after me!! Stop it please Song I'm sorry!! Ahh!"
"Huh, I guess the talkative genes run in the family," I mutter, half to myself. Song drops Jun and transfers her glare to me.
"What did you say?" she demands threateningly, raising an eyebrow. Um, this—this is not good. This is, in fact, terrifying. I duck around five people and run out the door in hopes of escaping her wrath. Then I slam right into Youn and Ifan, who have been standing in the hallway for who-knows-how-long. Ow, that really hurt. Since when were they so solid? Both of them cross their arms and block my path stolidly, forbidding me to pass.
Wait, why are they—?
Song drags me back into the room, which looks considerably different from when I left it. Tei is standing on the bed with arms crossed. Everyone else is kneeling on the floor around her, as if she were some sort of queen. Tei imperiously points to the ground in front of her.
I cannot believe what I am seeing.
Song throws me roughly down in front of Tei, bowing deeply.
"Here she is, Master." (Those words did not just come out of Song's mouth.)
Tei grins impishly. "I am in control now," she declares to me triumphantly. 
I look at her in disbelief. "Uhhh...no, Tei, you're not."
She frowns. "Yes I am! See?" The child gestures to the kneeling people around her. "I told you what to make them do." That explains a lot.
"But just because I can hear you doesn't mean I have to listen, especially now that I know you're doing it," I say. "You realize that?"
Her face falls. Aw, poor little thing. I stand up from the floor and give her a hug. "It's okay, Tei," I tell her. "Don't order me around, but you can help me write the real story."
It's amazing how quickly her face brightens again.

Nothing much else interesting happened after that. Basically, Tei and I kicked everyone else out of the room and are now getting down to the business of planning and drafting the actual stuff. From time to time, we have to check the corner to make sure Mar hasn't come back in and started crying among the spider remains again (it's only happened twice so far), but other than that, things are going well.

There is now a sign that appears on the door when we're doing extra-hard stuff:


It might be a good idea to notice that when it comes up.


Stevie said...


McFogger said...

the twelve dwarflings of the mystical forest!
rise them well, son.

McFogger said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dan said...

This is hilarious! Well well done. I'd be still giggling, except that I am a man and men don't giggle.