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Chapter Endings and Cliff-Hangers

It’s been a while since I’ve written here. To do a brief catch-up, I am doing camp NaNoWriMo this month, and my novel is titled, for now, Three Ways to Death. It’s about an assassin person who is sent to retrieve a deadly weapon from inside the minds of three comatose people. (I know, it probably sounds like Inception, but I actually have more of Interstellar on my playlist)

I haven’t been very easily inspired to write here, and I especially like it when I can write about some curiosity in writing that I feel like talking about. And I have just run into one, and so I gladly took the chance to write here, sense I’ve been wanting to do another post, but I’ve been unable to come up with something to write that I would be interested in reading.

I was just finishing my first chapter (a bit later than I liked) at the point when my character was going to go into the shared mind of the three people. I came to an interesting dilemma of how to end the chapter. Actually it wasn’t a dilemma, because I had automatically wanted to end the chapter when he left the real world, and before he was going to enter the ‘dream’ world. However, here is where I could have easily ended the chapter:

“Are you all ready?”

“You tell me,” Anear said. He then suddenly asked, “What can I expect to find when I get there? Will I actually see and communicate with Proven, Kindle and Merrick?”

“I really don’t know. Alright, if you’re ready…” she started typing on a keyboard.

Anear clenched his jaw, and closed his eye, uncertain of what to expect.

“I’m switching you over,” she said, hesitantly.

Anear heard a final button pushed and then all reality seemed to change.

The chapter could have ended here, creating a nice finish in itself. You’re left wondering what ‘reality’ will change to and what will happen next.

However, after I’d considered ending the chapter here, I decided that it didn’t actually create the tension I wanted. For one thing, it is already technically known what’s going to happen next- there can’t be that many options when you go into a shared brain thing (speaking in science-fiction terms, of course). There was also the fact that it sounded too much like many of my other chapter endings. (also, being the writer, I knew there was a twist coming later on, when the chapter would begin as I planned)

So, I went ahead and continued the chapter, finishing with:

He had experienced such a thing once, a long time ago, when he was a kid and had fallen from his family home’s balcony. When he’d woken, for several minutes nothing had made any sense; he didn’t know who or where he was and the world didn’t seem real. It was like that, only it had occurred all at once.

What followed next was the world fell away, and a drowsiness came over him that was so powerful and unexpected that he gave into it immediately.

The blackness that came afterwards was of kind unlike even the deepest sleep. There was complete nothingness with no thought. It lasted to the point that Anear could’ve been dead.

Then Anear got past the blackness, and he found himself in a different place.

Now, I’m not actually sure if it creates the same tension the other ending would have had. Finishing with a statement that Anear was in a different place is a little obvious- after all, what else would you expect? But I feel that it doesn’t expect the reader to be amazed at the change. By adding this, I have got the reader past the ‘cliff-hanger’ and now on a comfortable ledge; I’ve gone further by introducing the fact that, at the very beginning of the next chapter, he will be elsewhere. And, though I haven’t said it, the blackness is compared to being deeper than sleep, practically death, and then Anear got somewhere beyond that deathlike nothingness.

The question is now, is beginning the chapter with:

He looked around, and saw that there was a vast, stormy sea around him. It seemed to be sunset, and the light was spreading all across the sky, great powerful clouds alight in orange, deep gray and pink that seemed almost to reach the sea.

– a disappointment, or is it a good disappointment, making the reader want to go on and understand what’s happening?

My Love of Writing

I’m sure it’s confusing for anyone who reads this blog consistently (or as consistently as I write here, anyway). Actually, consistency is a good way not to describe my writing here for the time being. To tell you the truth, this is the first time I’ve actually been inspired to write a post.

I know. I probably shouldn’t admit that. I should make all my readers, or anyone who stumbles on this blog, feel like reading more. Well, I’ll let you know straight and forth (apparently I’m being creative about my phrases) that I do want people to read this blog, and I like writing here. Unfortunately, my creativity just doesn’t lie in this direction. It tends to fizzle out.

A fellow writer and blogger I know of recently said, if you don’t like doing something (blogging being the example) then don’t, because sometimes the fact that you don’t like to do it is really obvious. I do like to blog, as a matter of fact, as long as I have something definite to talk about. But when she said that, it made me realize, if I can’t think of something to say, or if I don’t feel like blogging, then don’t because forcing yourself won’t help. And that is one reason why I haven’t been blogging lately, even though I feel like I really should be doing as much as I can to further my writing career- in the same way someone who is sinking gasps for air and panics before being pulled down.

Now, to get back to what I was saying at the beginning of this post, anyone who reads Felicity Prose on a regular basis is probably confused by now, because I am repeating myself. I have said all this before. I’ve told people repeatedly that I love to write, life is crazy, I don’t know where I’m going to go with my writing career, and, more recently, that I’ll have to put it on the back burner for the moment due to other creative endeavors. And I wouldn’t be at all surprised if what I’m unintentionally telling people is that I’m very confused, uncertain and I certainly don’t like writing, but, if anything, I’m only delaying something inevitable.

Well, let me get it all explained now. I’ve heard quite often, and even seen on blogs recently, that sometimes a person can a gift to understand or see the world in a way that no one else can. Musicians, painters, writers, mathematicians- you name it. Even my sister, who paints, kind of does it. I’ve seen writing blogs where the person says that writing is necessary to them. Well, that’s probably one reason why it took me a while to realize I like writing, because I kept expecting there to be some moment when I would walk into a room and start creating whole stories around the people in the room. It never happened.

And then, I’m sure people really wonder about me when I say that I ‘decided’ to write a story because I felt like writing about some ‘subject’, as though I had suddenly caught a craving for chocolate. To me, that does not sound like I’m serious about what I’m talking about.

Well, writing is not necessary to me. Not as necessary as the air I breathe. But I love doing it. Sometimes it hits me. It’s not just a hobby. It’s not just something that’s caught my fancy. I actually really like doing it. Believe me, I’m lazy. I wouldn’t have even got this far, or thought about getting further, if I didn’t actually really like it. And as to writing about some subject that suddenly caught my attention, well, I don’t really have anything to say about that. I guess it’s just my method, and partly based on why I started writing in the first place. I will say that these things I ‘pick up’, I take seriously.

This is my statement of my love for writing. It’s a little odd. Inspiration for blogging doesn’t always make sense. I will say to any fellow writers (or want-to-be-writers) out there. If you’re expecting a moment when you’ll walk into a room and see characters and stories rather than a real people (basically have a genius moment) don’t wait for it. It may happen, it may not. However if you see a strangely cheerful man in a suit walk by, and you suddenly feel like writing a Ballad of the Happy Businessman, that’s good enough reason to try out writing.

Happy writing all!

150 Years From Death

Okay, saying the Civil War is death is a bit drastic. It is one of the bloodiest wars, and one of the most significant events in American history, so that’s why I said today is 150 years from death- plus it sounds cool.

I knew the anniversary was coming up pretty soon, but I didn’t realize it was this soon! So I would’ve made up a different post, probably a study in the characters of some of that war’s generals, and my own opinion of them, but like I said, I forgot my days- or rather years. Anyway, a less pleasant (if that’s what you can call it at all) milestone will be coming up in about a week to mark the death of Abraham Lincoln, and maybe I’ll have something made up by then.

Today is actually an interesting day for me to look back on the strange mirroring of my life to the Civil War. 155 years ago, in 1861, the war began. 5 years later, America would be a different country. Similarly, 5 years ago I had barely any interest in the Civil War. We got a Times magazine and I remember not carrying very much about it. 5 years later, here I am- not an expert in the Civil War, but I wouldn’t mind being an expert some day. And I certainly hope I can get that Times magazine.

Now, sense I haven’t planned anything properly to commemorate this day (except a Civil War tea party tomorrow, completely accidentally planned to coincide with the war’s end) I’ll put up an excerpt from my Civil War trilogy, in partial celebration to life taking me in unexpected directions, so that I know what I do today of the Civil War.

A short synopsis of my story is that two men are sent to the past to observe a great battle in American history- Gettysburg. They’re not supposed to interfere or get involved, but of course Mark, the main character, can’t stand staying out.

I don’t generally write war or battle scenes (problematic for NaNoWriMo) but this scene is one of the bloodiest in my novel. But if you’re going to send your characters into the Gettysburg battle, they’d better come out with more than a scratch, and you’d better be ready to write it! So, here it is:

Mark listened to the sound of war awhile, for a time unmoving. But then he slowly started to come forward, his steps determined. He looked straight ahead, drawn to the battle by the captivating and forceful sounds.

Suddenly the explosions became greater around where they were. The loose dirt shook slightly with the strength of the rumbling, the edge of the hill, leading down to the main fighting, seemed to be taking a great deal of the explosions. One of the trees suddenly bent over, its roots hit by some debris. A rock went flying by, followed by several rocks, flying every which way.

Mark suddenly picked up his pace, almost going at a run, unaware of Jeremy calling to him to stop. He ran forward, trying to make it to the edge to see over and see what was happening. He wavered when some of the dirt suddenly flew up, showing the force of the hit.

The cries of men could be heard, either the cries of an attack or a retreat. Suddenly one voice could be heard above the others. It was coming nearer, suddenly very close.

Suddenly a man appeared over the ridge, running to get up the hill and away from the fighting. It was Harper, looking filthy, bloody and frightened. He had nearly made it to the top when there was another explosion- and the lower half of his body was suddenly gone.

Mark drew back violently, checked in his run. He stared in horror at the dead half of the man and then, quickly looking away, ran on in a slightly different direction.

But the enemy had apparently lifted their aim, so that Mark was immediately aware of explosions around him. Bullets, debris and huge things flew past him. He fell to the ground before he was aware that he needed to hide from the attack, and remained there, for a second too confused and frightened to do anything.

He looked around and, seeing a rock near the edge that would shield him, he quickly went for that. First he stood up, crouching low to the ground, then finding even that was a danger, as something whizzed past his ear, he crawled very low to the ground to his final destination.

Once he reached his goal there was no chance for him to relax. The guns continued to fire, hitting from all directions. It seemed that the enemy could attack from any position, and it seemed they were successfully destroying everything.

Below him Mark could see the battle raging as though it was being fought between hell-crazed demons, screaming and yelling men at each other’s throats, firing their weapons at anything that moved as quickly as they could. To Mark’s untrained, amazed eyes, the scene below looked impossibly, horribly confused. There was no telling what was happening, even the commanding officers; standing at various points did not look like they understood it completely. They went back and forth, shouting orders, watching the progress- or trying to sort it all out.

The Near Side’s uniforms were, generally, of a moss green sort, while the Far Side’s uniforms were a dark burnt gray- but mingled together there was no telling them apart. They had combined and were fighting back to back, one constant attack after another.

Somehow, in the confusion that slowly seemed to spread, Mark and Jeremy got involved. It started when one of the explosions finally managed to knock enough ground loose beneath Mark so that it crumbled beneath him. He found himself falling into the rage of the fighting and, before he understood what had happened he was responding to the immediate danger.

He picked himself up from the dirt and defended himself from a man that seemed so enraged by the appearance of the foe that he was attacking anyone that came in his way.

Mark had just received a hard knock against the head from the butt of the man’s rifle, and he had savagely struck back, when Jeremy suddenly appeared. He had seen Mark go over the side, into the depth of the battle, and rushed forward; taking the same risks Mark had to get to the edge.

The next few hours passed in a strange blur. Somehow, unwillingly, both the travelers got involved in the very thing they had been trying to avoid. They fought, but merely to save their own skins. They tried their best to stay out of the way, constantly trying to get away from the trouble but somehow never succeeding. Every time they would nearly make it back up the hill something would stop them, another, horrible explosion, a strong, angry hand, the glance over the shoulder.

And something else drew them away from safety. It was the excitement of the battle. They felt strength and adrenaline moving through their bodies, so that they were as unaware of the passing of time as they were unaware of what was really happening. They found that they could fight, very easily. Death was all around them, men lying in heaps, staring up at the sky with strange eyes, but they felt as though they couldn’t get hurt, not even by a bullet.

The sun moved across the sky, unheeded by the men fighting below. It was a hot day, still and dead. The air filled with the smell of gunfire, smoke and burning flesh, close and thick.

The hours flitted past, not showing any change in the fighting. Gradually, as the sun started to near the other side of the sky, the battle started to ebb- but it didn’t show any signs of stopping.

The shots and explosions continued ceaselessly and torturously, pushing the men on. But there were no longer any war cries. The wind had taken all such anger out of the men, only allowing them to fight on. Other cries, of despair and hopelessness rose in the air; oblivious of how dry and empty the air was of anything breathable.

Finally night started to come on, unnoticeable. The order went out to cease fighting, on both sides. But it went unnoticed for the most part, the men merely wanting to fight on until it was over.

Slowly, night settled, merely darkening the scene of the battle, so that the enemies fought on against each other in the darkness.

April Camp NaNoWriMo Novel

And here it is again! A lot has happened this year, so it’s kind of strange to think that April Camp NaNo is back again! I have very fond memories of the last one, and I am more or less hopeful for the novel I wrote last year- except it needs massive editing- up until we found out my Dad had lost his job. Now that novel seems strangely ironic, sense a part of the storyline is about the end of the world and trying to avoid it- and that’s what most of this last year has felt like.

But that’s a different story- literally. Now, as of about a week, my Dad has a job and life is- what it always is: exciting. So, last year my novel was strangely ironic in being about the end of the world- when a part of our world seemed to end. And this year my novel is about hope after the end of something wonderful, ironically similar to our situation now. It’s totally accidental- well, okay, it’s technically a stretch to say either novels are similar to my life, but it’s kind of interpretation.

I wasn’t sure what to write for Camp NaNo, especially sense I’m used to being able to at least think about it a month before it happens, and prepare for it fully. I normally have a playlist ready, my page up, a synopsis written, a few characters (especially the main character) figured out, maybe some scenes practically written, etc. But not this time. I practically don’t have anything, I only just figured out my main character’s name, I do have some inspirational photos and I’ll hopefully work on a playlist (a very important part) tomorrow.

But I am doing Camp NaNo! And, fortunately, I know what I want. I figured out what I wanted to write based on my life a couple of weeks ago, but I think it should still apply. I want something I will enjoy writing! Something that’s fun and will be challenge, of a different kind than I usually try. I am going to write a fairytale- and that’s about as much as I can say.

Well, okay, I can tell you my story is set in beautiful mountains and forests with a lost kingdom and wandering people and a big hill and a magical room. My main character’s name is Ion, a boy of 12 at the most. I suddenly realized that I’ve never written a story (of much consequence) with a child as a main character, so I’m going to give it a try, and this is one of my challenges, as well as the fantasy setting rather than my usual science-fiction. My story is titled Ion’s Way which refers to a passage of land that Ion’s family inherited

As to how much fantasy it is: no unicorns or wizards, though possibly the suggestion of fairies. Certainly, the world will be a little more fantastic and unlike anything that could have technically existed. (here I must apologize to my sister. She’s complained of many medieval stories existing in a world without the church history, which is quite inaccurate. Well, I’m not the person to do it! That would mean much more research, which I wouldn’t mind but can’t manage now. So, the world will have to do with a bit more of the fantastic)

Most importantly, in preparation for my story, I am reading lots of the best fantasy. E Nesbitt, Magarey Allingham, various wonderful poems (mostly Robert Louis Stevenson) and George MacDonald. So far it’s wonderful, but we’ll see if I manage to make it through the month without bringing in someone that’s time traveling!

Much luck to all my fellow Campers! I’d love to hear what everyone is going to write!

777 Challenge and Life

Life has been crazy lately. Okay, I think I’ve probably said that- or thought about starting a blog post that way- several times before. I guess it’s my overly-apologetic nature coming through and I’m pretending it’s not coming through- because it’s not a good idea to be overly-apologetic. Also, life being crazy is such a good excuse for the fact that I haven’t posted here, nor have I written much pretty much since November. And, of course, saying life is crazy is such a good excuse- no, an explanation- for what happens to your plans.

I remember clearly thinking I might get something published and going full throttle into my writing career. Well, I am not going to give up my plans for writing, but I can’t go full throttle at the moment- the moment being a few months. And actually it humiliates me to have to admit it, because I thought I might get somewhere, but I’ve come to realize I can’t go full throttle until I know what I’m doing.

However, as I’ve said, I’m going to keep writing- the best thing I can do- in between sewing and trying to sell on Etsy. So far I haven’t been able to do much, or really divide my mind to be able to write and sew, publish and sell at the same time. However, today I received an e-mail from a fellow writer (here’s a link to her blog: http://lynettenoni.com/) that kind of helped remind me of the happy writer life’s existence.

Apparently there’s a challenge going around to go to the 7th page of your current story, find the 7th line and post the next 7 lines in a blog post, as well as share this challenge with 7 other bloggers (which will be interesting because I’m so horrible at any kind of socializing). I don’t have a work-in-progress technically (okay, I guess I haven’t edited it yet) but I will share it here and I hope it makes sense:

“Team,” Jeremy muttered stupidly, “No, I’m not on any kind of team. I came here to see if you’d headed out. There’s a way out we know of that’s pretty secretive. I think we’d be able to get away safely.”

The man glanced Mark and Fanny’s way, evidently still confused by Jeremy’s appearance, but there was a relieved look on his face. He carefully edged to the door and asked, “Is it quick? Is it close to here?”

Apparently taking that as an indication that the man would take his suggestion, Jeremy simply nodded- now fully appreciating the need for silence and speed- turned and left.

February in Review

Well, I said I would do a review of what I’ve done in the past month, and I’m going to keep to it. However, I am extremely sorry to admit that I really haven’t done much. In fact the whole thing has dwindled so much in so many respects that it’s almost pointless to have any sort of review of February. However, I said I would do it for this very reason: to be sure I would do something along my career as an author, while being completely aware that just such a post as this one would have to be done.

Instead of talking about what I didn’t do in February, sense that would make a very dull post, I’ll talk about other things. For instance, my natural reaction is to try to give some sort of explanation as to why I haven’t done anything, knowing- or feeling- fully that I should’ve had some novel published already. But I won’t bore anyone with explanations, because it would take a very, very long time.

Most of the damage is done to myself. I feel that, sense I’ve started a blog all about writing, that means I have some sort of a certificate that I need to use right away, without giving any thought to it. However, I have to realize that, not only Felicity Prose, but also my whole writing career is more of a driver’s license- where I can go and do what I want, for a long term thing. So, I am slowly realizing I’m just the personality that needs to slow down and figure things out slowly.

I’m going to keep writing, sense that is one of the secrets to success- and I just love to write. However, one of the reasons why I have not done much in writing lately is that I need to focus on my Etsy career (more on that at some later post) and, without getting into it too much, life is too crazy for me at the moment. I am constantly amazed at the people who seem to have unpleasantly hectic lives and still manage to pursue crazy careers. It’s amazing, but I am not one of those people.

February was not completely writing-less, however. I have continued to edit a science-fiction and am nearer to fixing it’s fascinating plot holes (again, more on that later) and in a way I think this is the most important part about writing. I really need to find out more about publishing and all that, but- who knows, maybe some day it will be out there, and I’ve just taken one big step in getting it to being published.

Excerpt for a Story I Hope Doesn’t Get Published

With a sudden lack of imagination for what to say here- as well as getting over a flu- I am now kind of desperate to find a subject that won’t sound like I’m rambling, or else nonsensical. (I hope that sentence made sense)

In my last post I mentioned that I took a webinar on self-publishing. And one of the things they said was to keep writing, all the time. That seems pretty obvious (and possible). So I’ll be trying to work on some of these writing exercises I hear about.

Today I happened to glance at our messy bookshelf and misread the name of one our books. Well, as I said, I’m desperate to find something to talk about, and I came up with an idea. I’d write excerpts for the idea that came to mind when I misread the book. An exercise in imagination!

Also, as always, it’s an experiment to see how people react to my writing. I don’t know if I’ve ever said this, but my writing is notorious (in my own small circle) for being confusing and hard to follow, and my humor quite peculiar, so if anyone ever sees something that needs help, please speak up.

The original title was More Work for the Undertaker by Margery Allingham. It’s an amusing title, I suppose, but I never quite understood it and it doesn’t really roll off the tongue, which is probably why I misread it. So I read instead: More Work for the Undead and I see 2 possible storylines here. One of them is for the horror/fantasy genre and the other for comedy. Unfortunately comedy isn’t natural, so I don’t think I can come up with anything more than an image of a lazy zombie being told by his wife to clean up the basement.

Here’s the excerpt:

“Aaron stood up quickly, looking around. He’d definitely seen something- but it had been just far enough so that he couldn’t be sure of what it was.

There was no sound. No movement. There hadn’t been for so long…

Still. If there was something there- in the same room with him- he couldn’t afford to let it go. There was danger, constant danger, and he couldn’t let a threat- of any kind- through.

His whole life- the whole world- had changed only a few years ago. Maybe it had been twenty years ago. One day was much like the last- survival, fear, hunger. Especially hunger. There were some things essential to life: shelter and food. Shelter could easily come in the form of some overturned car. Food- that was entirely different.

Aaron prided himself in being dangerous. Give him chance to chase down prey and he’d be off without a second thought- and so, that’s why, with only a leaf-shifting amount of movement to go on, he immediately stood up to find out more.

But the years had been long. His joints were stiff, it was only a blind, raging determination that kept him going. His mind wandered off, even with this new possible danger- or meal- in mind, and he saw visions before his eyes.

Years before, when the world was large, before the change, Aaron had been here before. He remembered with almost enough amazement to waken his deadened thoughts that the rotting clothes on the rotting, half eaten mannequin had once been fashionable. He wondered vaguely what had happened to fashion, or clothes for that matter. Then he wondered why some idiot had eaten the mannequin- he knew it was a person, sense the remains looked too much like the remains of a real person. He soon realized it must have been an exceptionally desperate undead person- and with that realization, Aaron was brought back to the possible danger.

Desperate people, whether or not they were alive, were dangerous. It would be better if he just left this shelter, look for food elsewhere- which would be unlikely- rather than risk anyone desperate. Fortunately, anyone that dangerous would be easy to find.

Aaron looked around, every nerve as awake as the last few, wearying years would allow. Every sense in his weakened mind worked on their own, even after days and weeks and months of having nothing to do. He turned slowly around and around again, searching for any sign of danger.

There was nothing. There was such silence that…

He wished that there had been something now. At least some sign of life. Some movement. Any movement. But there was only complete silence, as there had been, as there always would be. Little wonder the mannequin was half eaten.

There!

Aaron turned again. He had seen something definite! A slight but definite movement. A part of the wall seemed to move- upwards, and with it was a strange creaking.

He slowly moved toward the wall, now curious. He studied it, waiting, but there was no other motion. But now he saw that it wasn’t a wall. It was- it was a flight of stairs of a kind. It used to move. It had moved. The last, wasted bit of electricity had trembled and fallen into its mechanics, taking years to do anything, and finally there was this slight movement, like the dwindling of a tune in a music box.

In an instant Aaron realized how stupid he’d been. He’d been in this old deserted place an hour or so- he should’ve realized sooner that there would be another level.

Aaron took another glance around, but he knew there was nothing here. That upper floor though…

He went up the escalator, being as quiet as possible. There was no telling what would be up there- it might be anything.

He reached the second floor and carefully walked along the wide hall, still careful of his surroundings, watching out for any movement. He studied everything, fascinated by the new shadows, the new possibilities.

This place felt different. It wasn’t still or dead. There was someone up here. He would search up here until he found them.

But he didn’t have to search for long. He turned a corner, went in to a dark enclosed area. And that’s when he saw it-

It was almost so good he would’ve smiled but those muscles had long been forgotten-

People. The fight wasn’t over yet. Here was something to do.”