Tag Archive | Introduction

A Different Side to My Life

Well, Camp NaNoWriMo is over, which actually means a lot of things. First of all, I made my goal for my story, which is technically not much of an accomplishment. I had to reduce the word count by 10,000 because I wasn’t going to make it (in other words I cheated) and I didn’t finish my story (not a first-time). Hopefully I’ll go on with it too, because I was enjoying it, even if it’s a pretty tough exercise. I write science-fiction, that’s where I’m comfortable. So, I decided to write a fairy tale, and I’m really enjoying it, but- wow- it is a change!

Now, the significance of Camp NaNo ending is that writing is a big part of my life and, I hope, some day, it will be a career, which is why I was not working on a different side of my life until April was over. Now, I will be concentrating on the other side of my life for a while, and hopefully that won’t let me stop my writing of Ion’s Way– my latest story.

Now, I’ve already given a slight introduction to the other side of my life- that is my Etsy shop. I’m taking my sewing career very seriously- really, I am, even if there are only about 4 things on my shop!

One of the things I’ve had to put off until now is a blog that I am co-writing with my sisters, who also have Etsy shops. This blog, entitled Ribbons in Our Hair, will be focusing more upon our Etsy life, our creative endeavors and probably everything else. I’m definitely hoping to be able to get to know some of the people I hope to sell to, and talk more in detail about what I make!

So please go ahead and check it out! And, especially if you know anyone who’s interested, tell them about it!

Here’s a link to our blog: https://ribbonsinourhair.wordpress.com/

And, just in case anyone is interested in checking out our individual Etsy shops, here is my elder sister (Abigail’s) Etsy shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/TheRaisinFairy

My other sister (Hannah) Etsy shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/Annavania

And my own Etsy shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/SallySewing

Have fun looking around!

New Beginnings and More Character Introductions

I recently posted something about Writer’s Digest Magazine saying it’s important to give your character a good introduction. I’ve already said I don’t really heed much to my character’s introductions (though I will try to in the future) because you can’t know enough of the character anyway until later on.

Well, interestingly enough Mark Kingston, my main character in my Civil War story has had several introductions, of several different kinds. I partially changed because I wasn’t very pleased with how I’d started the story originally. Then there came a point in my story which I found very hard to read, and therefore anyone else reading it might find it difficult to get through, so I thought it best to break it up in flashbacks. I think I am pretty pleased with the results (though the story is, annoyingly enough, still in the process of being edited). The final result is that Mark has technically had 3 introductions plus one that really didn’t work!

Here is the 1st version. I’ve reread it and find it’s a good reminder of why I wanted it changed. It’s mood is totally wrong, there’s peculiar sci-fi elements that don’t fit and the interpretation of Mark’s character is a little off because I immediately got the impression he was a bodybuilder, and that’s certainly never how I imagined him. Anyway, I’d better just put it down so you can read it for yourself:

Sunday mornings at the Fitness X-treme gym were always quiet, and this Sunday in late February was no different. There had been the usual rush of New Year Resolutioners but they had worn off by mid-February.

The usual popular, exciting music was going- the credit to that was due to Mark Kingston, the son of the gym’s manager, Julius Kingston.

Julius Kingston had started the gym in the midst of an earth in our distant future, when weight will still be a problem.

He had always been a big part of his project, a day never going by that he had made an appearance and encouraged his customers. However, as the years passed on, and his mission already partially accomplished with his neighbors becoming slimmer, he appeared less often at his gyms, but never less fit, and left it to his son, Mark, to help train the newcomers.

Mark, having lived in a world of vigorous health awareness, knew exactly what he was doing not only as a technique but more as a second nature. He had also received a text recommendation of pursuing a career as an M.D. and so he had studied that profession for a little while before dropping out. The time spent there had, however, given him some extra knowledge of fitness, so he looked completely comfortable and confident as he stood on a platform in the gym, looking around at the few people working out around and below him.

Overall, Mark did not stand out very much at that gym, except with the confidence showed on his face.

He had only stood there a few minutes when an employee from the swimming area came by, walking quickly and at the same time tying back her hair. She did not stop to speak to him.

“Mark, there’s someone wanting to speak to you on the phone, line 2,” She said, not waiting for a reply.

He glanced at her and then, changing his position slightly, apparently spoke to thin air, “Line 2.”

A small blue screen appeared, hovering in midair in front of Mark, the distorted, crisp image of a businesslike young man.

“Mark Kingston speaking,” he said, evidently about to continue along the lines of a customary greeting, but the appearance of the other seemed to cause him to hesitate. He then remained silent, waiting.

“Good morning, Mr. Kingston,” The other said, in a surprisingly comfortable voice, “My name is Zachary Black, I work with Dr. Derek Shelby, from the Goodwin University. Perhaps you’ve heard of him.”

Mark hesitated, nodding slightly.

“The name is familiar,” he said, looking slightly displeased, “But if this has to do with finishing my degree- I’m not interested. I haven’t taken a look at the Goodwin University for a while.”

The other nodded, saying, “It doesn’t really have anything to do with that. We received a text recommendation for you; the system matched you to Dr. Shelby’s project.”

A few things changed. I decided Mark shouldn’t have any M.D. training, and instead he did some paramedic training, which seemed to fit better. His dad- whose name, Julius, was provided by Orange Julius because I started writing this story in the mall next to an Orange Julius- completely disappeared. He certainly had nothing to do with starting a gym or whatever. In my revised version Mark simply ended up working at a gym because he could and it was available.

The only good thing about this original beginning (which is also the bad thing about it) is that I actually have a scene in Mark’s workplace. Never have I yet managed to set a scene there comfortably- partially because he became incredibly rich and didn’t need to work at a gym. This problem still irritates me, because I don’t like having things that you’ve never seen referred to or important.

So I wrote a new version, in which he gets to talk to Shelby. I wish I could remember the motivations for the setting and why I had to have them meet. It’s set in a fitness store, where’s he’s buying new shoes, and think I was hoping that would supplement for the gym. I think it helps but it still feels awkward to me. Here it is:

“Is that all you’ll be getting today?” The woman with the spikey hair behind the checkout counter asked, her eyes still set on the computer in front of her. It was a purely automatic question, said by millions of people before her. The answer was just as automatic.

“Yes, thanks,” Mark said, taking the new running shoes from the counter and turning to go.

He started heading straight to the exit, looking around him without much interest. His surroundings were like many stores. It was a ‘fitness’ place, with the newest equipment, a training area and a small cafeteria.

A man slowly got down from a stool and quickly stepped in front of him, saying, “Mr. Kingston?”

Mark stopped short, looking at him, rather surprised.

“I’m not interested in buying anything right now- I told you that last time I was here. You’d think that if you knew my name you’d remember that I’m not interested,” he said, irritated.

“I’m not selling anything, Mark. My name is Dr. Derek Shelby,” the man answered, putting out his hand. He had a normal voice and he spoke with an American accent.

Mark shook it, shoving the shoes he’d just bought under his arm. He asked, “Now they’re employing doctors to do the selling, or why did you want to talk with me?”

I think I will definitely keep this introduction (I apologize for the sudden end). It introduced Mark in a much better way than the original had, showing his rather defiant nature. the only problem is that he’s supposed to be a little joking in nature and I’m not sure if I’ve managed that without the original beginning.

Now, after I wrote this I decided to break up the ‘bleh’ section. What you just read is technically still his introduction, but I added this to the beginning:

The young man passed across several trees, getting further and further away from the terrible sounds of the battle, until it was only a distant booming that could have been mistaken for fireworks. Once he had made it far enough away he slowly sank to the ground, making no sound as though afraid to be seen. Sleep gradually came to him in a fitful, vague form, as he lay alone in the past.

He was not an ordinary man; or rather he was not ordinary to his surroundings. He did not belong to them, although there was nothing visibly different about him.

The only great difference, which seemed to be noticeable to animals, was that he was a time traveler, and he came from the far future.

His name was Mark Kingston. He had trained as a paramedic, then lost interest in that career after a couple years of studying for it. He acquired a job at a gym, got a girlfriend by the name of Fanny Carter and, at an age when one is usually set in their path, he seemed pretty well set.

But he was not satisfied with his life. He never said anything about his discontentedness, but it was evident to his friends.

He passed a couple of years at the gym, acquiring a reputation as someone you could trust and be friends with, both as an employee and as a person.

He seemed a different person now, where he lay in the past, in a forest- tense, exhausted and weary. His appearance was still very much the same, except for several scrapes, a bullet wound and his skin nearly the same color as the dirt he lay on.

But when he had first arrived in the past, and that seemed a long time ago for him, he had been a different person. Now, after a lot of things had occurred to make him change, it is nearly impossible for anyone to remain the same.

The change did not take place all at once. It took a long time for him to change, but it was only then that he was willing to show the difference. It started, in fact, when Mark decided he didn’t want to be a paramedic. The decision, although he never told anyone, even his parents, was a sudden one, but he was so definite about it, no one argued.

He did not entirely like working where he did, at the gym. But he seemed determined to go on there, hopefully rising in ranks until he could be the assistant manager or even manager. His choice- it could hardly be called a dream- was cut short, however.

It had all started with a phone call. And like any unsuspecting hero, he would never have expected a simple phone call to lead his life in an entirely different direction, especially where it led him now, laying alone in a world that was hardly his own.

And that is the introduction to Mark Kingston, leading into the second version I wrote. I don’t think I’ve ever had so much trouble introducing a character. It’s been very interesting.

Excerpt From My Story: Haddrell’s Region

I think there was an article in a recent Writer’s Digest Magazine which talked about several important aspects of your story, that might help draw in a reader (or something similar). It mentioned the importance of a good introduction for your characters.

Interestingly enough, I never think of having good introductions for characters. (which I actually take as an indication that I should consider it more carefully). For me, I like to write stories (and read) that are realistic and, even if the events that occur in them are extraordinary, I like it to be told in a reasonable way. What I mean is: when you’re meeting a random person on the street, and your life is coincidentally and usually only momentarily intertwined, it’s quite likely you will not see that person in his or her best light. You might see him or her behaving in a way that is totally unlike their usual behavior, and then, if by chance you go on knowing them, you get to learn that one action was only a small part of a very different kind of person. In the same way, though I certainly like to establish what my characters are like and- if I have to- show the unusual behavior at some point when it won’t be confusing, I do not like to feel that my story is staged or fake. And it seems to me that in some books and shows and movies (depending on what kind any of those are) that introductions can especially be staged and I feel like I’m being forced to focus on one part of a person, which is the most important part, but I like to know what else is going on. (However, I certainly see the sense in what the article was talking about, and it’s made me think about how I introduce my characters)

Now, like I said, I don’t usually think (or rather overthink) about the introductions for my characters. In fact I usually have trouble introducing characters and figuring out what they should say first- it certainly does seem like whatever a character says first must be significant!

I was writing a story recently in which was one of the rare times I did think very carefully about a character’s introduction. Actually, I came up with a line that seemed to fit his character very well (It’s the last sentence, by the way). And here is the excerpt of the character’s introduction.

I should explain a little, actually. In my original version- I am still working on editing it, so there’s likely to be a lot of changes- Arend Van Husen is going to meet a rebel leader in a park, after being held by the police under suspicion of terrorism. He’s revealed that he knows something about a woman that is threatening the rebel leader and, after deciding that there’s not enough evidence to keep him, they send him off to deal with her.

I know that probably doesn’t make much sense, which is why I am editing it, but there’s so much more to explain that it would take a very long time. Anyway, here is an excerpt from my story, which I have revised to- hopefully- make a bit of sense:

He reached the bottom of the steep hill, and saw a man step out from behind a big containment box and come towards him.

The man was big and he looked tough- not only like he had the determination and temper to be able to pull off an intruder’s arms, but he also looked like he physically could do it without any trouble. He moved like a giant, wore a heavy black leather jacket and looked unruly.

Arend’s immediate reaction was to turn around and leave at once, seeing that he had rambled into the man’s ground, and he didn’t want that sort of problem at the moment, if he had ever asked for it. But then he remembered that he did want that sort of problem, sense, he reasoned, a rebellion leader probably would have dangerous men stationed around his domain.

He took a step toward the man and waited to see what he would do. The man looked at him, his face not showing what he was thinking, but there was a set glower on his face. He didn’t say anything, however, apparently allowing Arend to start the conversation.

“I- I want to talk to Carbrey Denson,” he said. The reaction to hearing the name was unexpected. The man tilted his head slightly, as though he’d expected something else and he had to understand this in a different way. He didn’t say anything at once.

“You want to see Carbrey Denson?” The man finally said, rather stupidly.

He simply nodded. They stared at each other, which frustrated Arend. He wanted to get on with things. He didn’t understand why they had to be standing here like this- if he was the leader’s guard, then Arend wished he would take him to him, or beat him up if that’s what he considered necessary.

Deciding that he didn’t want to go on this way, seeing that he was apparently supposed to be carrying on the conversation, Arend said, “Look I don’t have any weapons and I came here because I’m supposed to be helping him, so could you just take me to him?”

“Were you sent by someone?” The man asked.

Arend hesitated, wondering if saying the police had sent him would put him in any danger. He couldn’t avoid the truth, so he said, “It’s- it’s a kind of penitence thing, because the police couldn’t prove I was an extremist,” he thought mentioning that might make the man like him better, “So they sent me to help- with the problem.”

The man laughed suddenly, apparently amazed and amused by what he said. He didn’t say anything more, however, simply went on looking down at Arend, seemingly looming.

Arend thought a moment and then asked; trying to bring some informality into the situation, sense it was already strange enough, “Are you Denson’s bodyguard?”

The smile on the man’s face suddenly faded away and he stared at Arend a moment. Then he seemed to consider his question and said, almost as though he actually meant it, “I don’t think I need a bodyguard.”

And now I will explain why that introduction was so important for Carbrey Denson. He’s a big, threatening man- physically. However, throughout the story- and even though he was less of a villain than I meant- what I intended to show is that it’s not his physical presence that Arend has to be careful of, but his intelligence. He’s the kind of character that you think you’ve figured out, and then he simply turns your ideas upside down. This introduction is important, especially the last sentence, because it shows- and I’m afraid I can’t be more specific than this: it shows what kind of a person he is.