rowyn: (studious)
[livejournal.com profile] the_gneech gave me a writing prompt Tuesday too, but I didn't get to it then. Here it is now!

*

At the bottom of the mineshaft, slaves toiled with picks and shovels, their faces grey with dirt and dust, prematurely aged by hard labor. They were clothed in tattered rags that failed to cover the scars of brutal beatings so many had endured. The air was bad, and made worse by the smoke of lanterns that poorly lit the cold stone walls.

A radiant figure of translucent gold stepped through the walls and into the scene. Although the newcomer seemed to glow with his own light, his radiance did not illuminate the shaft, and the slaves showed no signs of seeing him as he moved between them. He tried to touch one on the cheek, but his fingers passed through the slave. He moved further down one of the narrow passages, stepping through a slave as if one of them weren't there. Gold feet glided just above rock as he entered a larger space. It was still too cramped for the work the slave ringing it were doing. They had to swing their picks with care to avoid the support beams at the center that held up the low roof. One of the beams already bore the scar of a previous accident, and it groaned from time to time as if it were as unhappy with its lot as the slaves.

Besides one concave wall, an adolescent boy grimly swung a pickaxe too large for his skinny arms. Each blow was an effort that threatened to wrench the tool from his hand, but somehow he maintained control. The boy did not notice the translucent man as the gold figure stopped behind him, nor did the pickaxe hesitate as its swing passed through the newcomer.

A second golden figure appeared beside the first. "Matthias. You shouldn't come here." Her voice was as clear and radiant as her form, but it held a hint of sorrow.

"I know, Rialla. I can't help it. They toil and suffer so much, and for what end? To the greater glory of a monstrous Overlord." The gold man held his hand out to hover over the boy's scarred and bony back.

"This nightmare is no longer your nightmare, my friend." Rialla put her hand on Matthias's shoulder, and her touch was solid. "You cannot reach them because their mortal world is no more substantial than a dream. Wake with me, and return to Paradise."

He shrugged off her hand. "It's easy for you to say! You passed on a thousand years ago! Your son isn't still trapped in there! How can I enjoy Paradise, knowing how he suffers? When will it be his turn to 'wake'?"

Rialla turned at a noise by the entrance. "Peace, Matthias. His turn may be at hand."

A squat, sour-looking overseer in brown leathers advanced down the shaft. He cuffed one slave as he passed, snarling. "Useless lazy worms! Get to work! Faster! His Lordship needs that alithium today, and you had better find it!" He cracked the end of a long whip against the back of one slave. "Now! Or you'll taste my lash again!"

The struck man staggered, gasping, and Matthias's son took a hand from his pick to reach out and check the other's fall.

"Look to your work, cur, not him!" the overseer barked. The whip lashed out again. Matthias cried out, trying to stand between the overseer and his son. The whip flicked through him, catching the boy across his cheek. The youngster turned, too fast, trying to get his hand back on the pickaxe and bring it around to resume his work as instructed. But his grip was poor and his aim worse. As he pulled the pickaxe back, momentum dragged it higher and it collided with the support beam. Too distracted to realize what had happened, the boy hauled the pickaxe forward despite the obstacle. The beam groaned and snapped against the pressure. Above them, stone rumbled and creaked.

"You idiot! What have you done?" The overseer cracked the whip again at the boy, and he and the other slave nearby cringed back from the beam they'd been trying to prop back into place. Other slaves screamed and tried to run.

But it was too late. The weight of a hundred feet of earth and stone shuddered down on top of them as the tunnel collapsed. The lights of the lanterns winked out, crushed and suffocated. Only Rialla and Matthias remained, golden figures hovering in the earth where the tunnel had been.

One by one, other golden forms rose around them, blinking and confused. One cried out. "Papa! Papa, how are you here? What's happened?"

Matthias held out his arms to embrace the now-golden, now-tangible form of his son. "The best thing that could have, my son." He took his hand. "Come. It is time to see your true home."

*

The prompt was "write a story where the happy ending is 'everybody dies'."

If you want it in rhyming couplets, though, Gneech, you're gonna have to ask [livejournal.com profile] level_head
rowyn: (studious)
[livejournal.com profile] beetiger gave me a great writing assignment! ‘Describe an ordinary human activity, like eating breakfast, to an alien.’ <3 So I’m doing it first.

*



"Hello!" Iklchix said to me as I stepped out of my bedroom. The tiny alien was inside his encounter suit, which looked like a creation of spun yellow glass, hovering under the power of three pairs of thin rapidly beating wings and overlaid with a harness of black straps.

“Good morning, Iklchix.”

“That’s Iklchix.”

“Sorry.”

“What are you going to do now, Rowyn?”

“Eat breakfast.”

“What’s that?”

“The first meal of the day.”

“What’s a meal?”

This could take a while. “Food?” I went into the kitchen and opened the freezer.

“Ah, sustenance! I must replenish my nutrient bath periodically because the nutrients of Earth’s atmosphere are inappropriate for my species. But this is your homeworld; surely the nutrients in its atmosphere are suitable for you?”

“Um. Suitable, but not sufficient." I debated trying to explain that humans don't consider oxygen a nutrient, and decided it was too early in the morning for that. "I have to eat additional nutrients or I run out of energy.” I opened a box of Toaster Scrambles and slid two onto a plate.

“Eat?” Iklchix hovered over the plate. A green analytical beam washed over it from one of the encounter suit’s translucent tentacle-arms.

“Consume?” I put the plate into the microwave and set it to nuke for 25 seconds.

“You consume frozen solids?”

“Sometimes. I’m going to heat this up first, though. It’s only frozen to preserve it.”

“How do you consume frozen solids?”

“I put them in my mouth and then swallow them. The same way I consume all food, actually.”

“You put it in your mouth? But you use your mouth for talking!”

“Not while I’m eating, I don’t. Anyway, it doesn’t stay in my mouth; that’s the swallowing part.” I took the plate out of the microwave and carried it to the toaster oven.

“You put all of that inside your body? Doesn’t that hurt?” A red analytical beam from a different tentacle arm studied my toaster scrambles before I slid them into the toaster oven and pushed the lever down.

“Um. No? I chew it up first, and my stomach’s designed to digest it. Well, evolved to digest it.”

A burst of staticky noise came from Iklchix. “Warning! Warning! Rowyn, are you aware that the outer covering of mostly plant matter conceals innards composed of bits of flesh and dead embryos?”

“Yes. That’s what I eat. Usually not described like that.”

“And you are going to put this concoction, which has been killed, burned, frozen, subjected to microwaves, and burned again, inside of your own body? Willingly? Using the same mouth that you use to talk?”

“Yes.”

“Humans are so gross.”



[livejournal.com profile] howard_tayler gave mean difficult exercises, including “write two blurbs”. Blurbs are made of pure evil. But being evil and difficult probably means that trying to do them is good for me, so I tried anyway.


Blurb to agent: Jack may not be a prince, warrior, or mage, but the Goi will learn not to underestimate the powers of an acrobat, piper, and storyteller.

Back-cover blurb: Izi knows her brother would not willingly disappear without word. But she’ll learn that Jack’s more than a storyteller, and maybe he can help ….


PURE EVIL, I tell you.

Those blurbs are for my Nanonovel, which isn't technically my most recent project, but it's the one I've been thinking about the most lately.

[livejournal.com profile] howard_tayler's other exercise, ‘write a fight scene between characters who don’t know how to fight’, isn’t nearly as evil, although it came with a bunch of qualifiers that mean I probably failed it anyway. v.v


Callie crouched low to the floor, taking cover in the lee of the loveseat as she watched and waited for her target. Her tail lashed from side to side, and her haunches twitched with the desire for action. Ash, the focus of her concentration, sat just a yard away, underneath an end table and in front of the heater vent. Callie concentrated hard, waiting for the slightest movement.

The heater came back on. Ash’s fur stirred in the gust of warm air.

Callie leaped! She fell short of her prey, the end table cutting off her arc of descent. Ash turned her head in Callie’s general direction as Callie lurched awkwardly the last several inches and bapped a paw against Ash’s face. Ash tilted her head away from the blow, looking annoyed.

Undeterred by her opponent’s retaliatory look, Callie wrapped a foreleg around Ash’s neck and tried to get her into a headlock. Callie’s head dropped, tongue flicking out to groom Ash’s cheek viciously.

Ash fell onto her side. She yowled at Callie and waved a paw in her general direction. Startled, Callie jumped back a few inches, bumping against the side of the sofa. Her tail twitched quickly, and she waved a paw back at Ash. Their paws connected! Ash squirmed to her feet and waved her paw again. “Yowl!”

Taken aback by this display of power and ferocity, Callie backed out from under the end table and away from the other cat. She glanced around for easier prey. Aha -- a hair elastic!

Pounce!



… because when I think of incompetent fighters, I think of my cats.

Anyway, thanks to you both for the prompts! n.n
rowyn: (studious)
[livejournal.com profile] octantis did a picture for me of The Laughing Lady, from the Honored PBEM that ran for a few months last year. Squee!

*

More character generation writing exercises. These ones are based on "found language", with the idea being that you look at writing in whatever happens to be around you, and develop a character based on the "voice" of that text. The first sample text is from a theatre playbill, and I'm supposed to describe a character based on it.

Richard Arnison burst onto the scene when he was hired as an usher at the Starlight Theatre three months ago. He's been involved with productions of Cats, Beauty and the Beast, and Avenue Q. He appears on stage nightly -- at least, on Friday and Saturday nights, when it's his turn to sweep up.after the performance. All right, so he's not an actor. So he's not even part of the show's crew, carrying props or managing lights or applying make-up. So he's not even allowed to talk to the actors. He's still working in theater, though. Or at least, at the theater.


The next one is some gooshy excerpts from a magazine, and I'm supposed to craft a letter to the editor from an imaginary reader.

Dear Editor:

Thank you so much for your tireless efforts in producing your wonderful magazine. I love the positive, encouraging nature of your stories and articles even when they're about somber topics, like the way Linda Harrellson manages her mother's Alzheimer's in "All the Things I've Forgotten". I never had a close relationship with my own mother. She preferred to spend her time teaching my brothers to play catch or repair cars, rather than host tea parties or shop for clothes. I hope to give my daughters, age 2 and 4, all the attention and devotion I missed growing up. Your loving articles about the strong bonds between mothers and daughters are the perfect guidepost. I am more grateful than you can imagine for the role model your magazine provides me.

Your devoted reader,
Cecilia E.
Arrlington, NY


*

Next one is do-it-yourself. I picked a friend's summary of one month's worth of events in the Marvel Universe.

"Good morning, Glenda. It's good to be back at work. I'm glad to see you weathered the Atlantis invasion, too."

"I stayed home through it all, Frank, and watched the Fantastic Four fight them off on TV. Boy! What a relief that's over, huh? You'd think with all the money they spend on national defense our military could've done something. We should hand their budget to Reed Richards."

"No kidding. Especially with saboteurs wrecking the defense contractor's plants. What's the point in throwing money away on research someone's going to destroy, or worse, steal?"

"At least Iron Man caught the saboteurs."

"But not before they'd done some damage. Hey, morning, Bernie, I was starting to worry about you. Overslept?"

"I wish. No, the bus I was on got grabbed by the Sandman. He threw the whole bus at Spiderman! Thank god Spiderman caught us in one of his webs, or I'd be the late Bernie, instead of Bernie, late."

"My goodness! Are you okay? Shouldn't you go home and take it easy after an experience like that?"

"Naw, Glenda. If I called in after every brush with a supervillain, I'd never get any work done."

"Don't you think those 'rescues' are a little too convenient? The Bugle says Sandman and Spiderman stage those fights."

"Are you kidding, Frank? I was there. It sure didn't look staged to me."

"Well, pro wrestling doesn't look staged either."

"Yes it does."

"Glenda! Frank! Bernie! Come quick, there's a big leafy guy leading an army of trees out of Central Park!"

"Whoa! Glenda, you coming?"

"No, you guys go look. I gotta get this memo typed up by ten. Let me know if the Avengers or someone doesn't show up to stop him, okay?"

...

I don't think I had quite the right idea for that one.
rowyn: (studious)
I decided to do some more writing exercises. This is the latest batch.

Controlling Idea:

This could be just as easily stated as "primary goal". What's the character trying to do? Some examples from my own characters:

Damon Kildare: Solve the challenge
Madden: Become Kildare's familiar
Zenobia Gardsmark: Learn to do magic
Sir Gardsmark: Protect his daughter
Archon Skotonys: Serve Tyr Notios
Alice Bocor: Make new friends! Out of dead ones if necessary!
Isadora Weaver: Find her brother

Make a new character by starting with a controlling idea: love everyone

* After a brush with death, investment banker Jack Roarke is reborn with manic love for all God's people. He devotes himself to finding ways to express this love; even with perfect conviction, it's still not an easy thing to do.

Generate a story idea by using characters with conflicting controlling ideas:

* Callie has boundless energy and doesn't want to do anything but Play All Day, while Ash just wants to rest and sleep. Can Ash find a game Callie will play without her? What happens when Callie pushes Ash past the breaking point?

What is my controlling idea:

* Get my balance.

Primary Orientation: what a character most identifies himself as.

Damon Kildare: Warlock
Madden: Focus
Zenobia Gardsmark: Student
Sir Gardsmark: defender of the people
Archon Skotonys: archon
Alice Bocor: little girl
Isadora Weaver: tinkerer

Primary orientation predicts behavior. What does a fairy do?

* Rumple Blossom kept a running mental tally as she flitted to the next flower. One thousand two hundred forty-three .... She poured out a few drops of dew from a cup made of a beetle's carapace, and sprinkled on a little fairy dust from a fox-glove pouch. The petals unfolded at the touch of the fairy dust, glistening in the light of dawn. One thousand two hundred forty-four -- and that's the whole yard! Done at last. She tied up the pouch with cornsilk, and flew to an abandoned bird's nest to catch a well-earned nap.

What is your primary orientation:

* Writer. I had a really long answer here, but "writer" covers it better than anything else. Not an author, not a fiction writer, not an RPer or a storyteller. Someone who writes. That's all.

Generate a story idea from the conflict between controlling idea and primary orientation:

* A gang leader converts to Christianity. He turns himself in to the police, but struggles with how to treat his former gang members, and how to make amends to his victims.
rowyn: (studious)
Some weeks back, [livejournal.com profile] tuftears suggested I try writing about an emotion without using thought-bubbles or having the characters say how they're feeling directly. So I took a stab at it.




She carried an armload of tack down to the pasture: bit and bridle, saddle and blanket. At the gate she stopped, looking at the bay mare with the small herd inside. The horse placidly cropped at the grass. She lifted her head to glance at the girl and whickered.

The girl set the tack down atop the fence and dug into her pockets as the mare ambled over. The horse lapped at the offered sugar cubes the girl produced, velvety muzzle and wet tongue tickling her fingers. When she finished, the girl reached over the fence to pat the animal's neck and comb her fingers through the dark mane. She lifted her left booted foot to rest on a slat of the fence. Her free hand brushed against the saddle resting on the fence. Fingers trembled, then withdrew to rest on the gate while she petted the mare.

After a few minutes, with no more treats forthcoming, the mare wandered off to nibble at the grass. The girl let her go, folding her arms against the gate and resting her chin atop them. She watched the mare in silence.

"Mornin', Sarah."

The girl turned to the man strolling down the rutted track to the gate, eyes shaded by his hat, face lined and leathery from years working outside in the sun. "Mornin', Garret."

He nodded, touching fingers to the brim of his hat, and continued until he stood beside her at the closed gate. Together, they rested against the fence and watched the mare. Sarah's left hand reached down absently to rub at her ankle.

"Cast's off," Garret remarked.

"Uh huh." Sarah wriggled her foot inside its boot. "Three weeks ago."

"'S good. Still botherin' you?"

"Sometimes."

"Doc seen it since?" He gave her a sidelong glance.

"Yeah." She rubbed at it again, then put her arms back on the fence. "Says it's fine. All healed up."

"Unh." Garret watched the mare flick her tail at a fly, hide shivering to shake it off. Silence fell again, until he gestured to the tack. "Want a hand saddlin' her?"

Sarah shook her head. In the pasture, the bay brushed flanks with one of the two roans, and whinnied a greeting.

Garret turned about to rest his back and elbows atop the gate. He tipped back his hat, looking at the blue sky dotted by puffy white clouds. "Nice day."

"Uh huh."

"Good ridin' weather."

"Uh huh."

The roan moved off, and the bay came back to the gate to investigate Garret for treats. He patted her nose for a couple of minutes, but didn't give her anything. Disappointed, she went back to grazing. "It ain't her fault, y'know," Garret said. "She's a good horse."

"I know." The girl didn't move.

"You gotta get back on someday, Sarah."

Sarah took a few moments to respond. "No," she said, quietly. "Actually. I don't." She took the tack off the fence and started back to the barn.

Garret walked after her. "You love riding."

She stopped and looked at him. "I love riding, Garret. I don't love carryin' tack, or polishin' leather, or haulin' hay, or comin' out twice a day to change the dressin' on a scrape. I don't love buyin' feed or payin' the farrier." She continued back up the track.

As she opened the barn door, he said, "You don't love fallin'."

She paused again, then walked into the tack room. As he watched, she set the saddle and blanket on its dummy and hung the bridle on a peg.

"Everybody falls, Sarah."

Sarah faced him again, arms folded. "Every rider falls."

"Everybody," Garret repeated, looking her in the eye. "Everybody gets hurt. You can't run from everything that causes you pain, girl. You gotta face 'em eventually."

She met his gaze, jaw set, and held it for a long moment before her head dropped and she looked to one side. "Maybe." Sarah uncrossed her arms. "Doesn't mean I gotta do it today." She walked out of the barn.




Though I probably should've stopped after "No, I don't" for purposes of minimalism, really.
rowyn: (studious)
I can't remember where I stopped in the Creativity Rules! book the last time, so I'm picking up at the chapter on "filters". By which the author, John Vorhaus, means something like "the character's attitude/perspective/approach". The things about the narrator which color the story.

First exercise is to list off some possible filters:

Resentful, brooding, confused, absent-minded, childish, vain, bully, generous, devoted, self-absorbed, rose-colored glasses, obsessed, carefree, mischevious, spirited, exhausted.

Next is to pick one of these and record what someone with that filter might do.

*

Jill staggered through the door and fell into the chair at the kitchen table, which used up pretty much the last of her reserves. She stared into space as the cat rubbed at her ankles. She was too tired to get up and feed him. She tried to take off her jacket and only got one sleeve off. /I'll just rest here a moment,/ she thought, as her head slumped towards the table. /Until I have enough energy to go to bed./

*

Now I have to do another few. The author picked one for me this time: angry.

"ARRRRGHHH!" Kate threw the keyboard down in frustration. "Why won't you work?" She unplugged the offending peripheral and tried a different port, but got the same error message when she tried to access the PC through the device. "Stop giving me that error message!" Kate yelled. "Stupid useless worthless hunk of silicon wouldn't pass muster at on an Alaskan beach -- " she muttered in a steady stream of imprecations as she unplugged all the other peripherals to try one port after the next. " -- I already got the lastest drivers what do you want from me -- " Kate poked at the PDA keypad angrily, going through th troubleshooting menus with increasing impatience. "DAMMIT JUST WORK!" she screamed, throwing it at the ground. "ENOUGH WITH THE ERROR MESSAGES!" Kate ripped the cord out of the PC, then jumped up and down on top of the PDA. "ENOUGH! ENOUGH! ENOUGH!"

One of her co-workers peeked cautiously around the cubicle wall. "Um ... I don't think that's going to fix it."

Kate stared at the remains of the device, panting. "Well ... it's not giving me error messages any more."

*

Now I get to pick a couple more on my own. I'll let the reader figure out which I'm using for these.

*

/I'm so hungry,/ Mark thought, opening the kitchen cabinet. /I could sure go for something I could sink my teeth into./ The only thing in the cabinet was a can of soup. /Oh boy! I love cream of mushroom./ He washed a pot, and pushed aside the mounds of detritus from his roommate's last several meals to clear one of the front stove burners. He turned on the left rear stove burner while he hunted down a can opener. /I wonder why it's not lighting?/ he thought, glancing to the cleared burner as he poured the soup into the pot. /And what's that burning -- oops!/

He turned off the burner and doused the mess with the soup from the pot. The grease-filled cup his roommate poured drippings into toppled over and caught fire as well, while the soup only spread the burning grease further. /Wait, I got a fire extinguisher when I bought the house!/ Mark dove under the sink for it, and pulled the trigger. Nothing happened. /... five years ago. Wow, I didn't know fire extinguishers expired. Cool, learned something new./

As the kitchen went up in flames, he bolted for the door. /Hey, these running shoes work great!/ Outside, one of his neighbors hurried to him. "I've dialed 911! Are you okay?"

"Sure, I'm fine," Mark answered. As he watched smoke pour from the kitchen windows and sirens blared in the distance, he added, "You know, I've been wanting to remodel the kitchen anyway."

*

The dog in the yard chewed on his ball in contentment. Across the street, he could see a couple of men cursing as they hovered over a car with the hood up.

The dog dropped the ball and nosed at it until it rolled down the slope away from him. Then he dashed after it, caught it, and started chewing again.

On the sidewalk, a businesswoman yelled into her cellphone. The dog paused to study her, ears perked, and barked twice. She glared at him before putting a hand over her ear and resuming her conversation. The dog didn't mind: he had his ball and all was right with the world. He chewed on it again.

Next door, an old man checked his mailbox. He leafed through a pile of envelopes marked "SECOND NOTICE" and "URGENT" and "THIRD NOTICE" in large red letters. The old man shook his head and hunched his shoulders as he went back towards his house.

The dog dropped his ball to bark at the old man, too. Then he picked up the ball and ran towards the man. When he reached the end of his chain, he dropped the ball again and barked, tail wagging, but the old man went back inside his house. The ball rolled away from the dog and onto the driveway.

The dog looked at his ball. He strained at the chain to try to reach it, but couldn't.

Straining and barking, the dog watched the ball roll down the driveway and into the street. A car rushed past, and when it was gone, so was the ball.

The dog stared for a while at where he'd last seen the ball. Then he snuffled around the yard, heading back towards the post he was tethered to. He found a fallen branch and dragged it back to a shady spot. Chewchewchew.

He had his stick and all was right with the world.

*

I think "three" counts as "a few", so I'll move on.

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