So in my last post, I talked about not comparing yourself to others. Well, there is one person you can compare yourself to: YOU! Yes, it sounds like it doesn’t count, but think about it. Every time you write, you get better. You learn from your mistakes and from joining groups. In the past year, I’ve learned much more than I ever thought I would, mostly from the writing community on twitter. My skill has improved ten-fold, and I thought I was pretty good last year. Though, I will probably look at these posts next year or any of my manuscripts and wonder what I was on. I’ve been doing it since the moment I started writing.
Let me take you back to the end of the 90s.If you’ve already been reading my posts, you know I turn 25 this year, next Sunday actually (you’re allowed to wish me happy birthday on Nov 8th.) So, if you do the math, that means I was a kid in the 90s. To be more precise, I was 9 when Y2K came crashing in. But yes, I’ve been writing since then.
When I was going into second grade, my school devised a program. They decided to incorporate half the 2nd and 3rd graders into same class. I was in the multi-grade class. That meant I had the same teacher for two years.
I went into 2nd grade in 1997, the same time Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone came out in the UK. When The Sorcerer’s Stone came out in the US, my teacher brought it into class.
Now, here’s the thing. I didn’t like Harry Potter.
I can’t tell you why now. I do remember being scared when they were in the Forbidden Forest. It took me until The Chamber of Secrets to like Harry Potter.
By the time we had read HP2, 3rd grade was upon us, the older kids had left and a group of 2nd graders joined us. My 2/3 class was great. Not only did we have reading time, but we had writing time.
During writing time, you could write solo or with a buddy. All of my 3rd grade friends buddied up and I was left alone. This happened to be a lot in following years, but I digress. Now, I could have written alone, but I wanted to be cool and have a writing friend.
There was this little second grade girl sitting all by herself. So, I went up to her and introduced myself. I still remember some of my “friends” looking over at me with these “what are you doing?” faces. But I sat down with her and we began to come up with crazy story ideas, like all kids do.
You might be wondering why I mentioned Harry Potter. Well, what do you think inspired us? We were obsessed with the idea of magic and wanted to create our own magic story.
In that class, we created the adventure of four young children: Crystal, Lily, Sam and Maria. Now if I remember correctly, because that first writing journal got lost somewhere, our story started out with Crystal making a wish for adventure. Yes, she was an orphan.
The wish brings Crystal to Lily and the two of them travel underwater where they save Maria from an evil eel and octopus. Then they travel North where they meet Sam, who is building an igloo. Lily knocks down the igloo because it was too small and makes Sam build a new one. Then they get eaten by werewolves, but escape through magic ways.
Yes, the story got quiet odd. But that’s the great thing about it. I can look back now and just laugh.
Through the years those characters stayed with us. Crystal was based on my writing partner, Vinsula, and Lily was based on me. Both Maria and Sam had someone they were based off of as well, but those people weren’t really a part of our writing.
Vinsula and I went our separate ways a few times, became close friends again and now though we only see each other a couple times a year, we still talk about our characters.
It surprised me to find out that she goes back to Crystal’s story every now and then, like I go back to Lily’s. I even wrote a manuscript about the four in high school.
This past summer, we actually started redeveloping the characters together and creating their whole story. We renamed Maria and Sam to Malia and Sky. Our idea is to have a MS with 4 POVs. Vinsula will work on Crystal and Malia, while I write Lily and Sky.
While I’ve obvious moved on to other works, these characters were my start and if I can finally bring their real story out, then I’ll be happy.
Now, this is the part where I embarrass myself. I’m going to throw down a few quotes from these stories to show how I’ve grown, along with my characters. Some of these are going to be atrocious, but that’s what I want to point out. So, enjoy! And whenever you get down on your writing, go find some old projects of yours and give yourself a good laugh.
Also, I’m keeping all the grammar and spelling mistakes in as well.
The next two months passed quickly for Lily. In the morning she attended classes, like math and history, were she spent most of the time passing notes, sleeping, or making a clothing statement (she thought someone had to spark the pages fashions up. Though she rarely touched pink.) After lunch she and the boys would head down to the practice courts where they would study the arts of fencing, archery, horseback, riding, tilting, staffs and hand-to-hand combat. Lily worked hard than she ever had in her life. Though Kel helped. It was Kel who kept Lily in place, I t was Kel’s shoulder she could lean on. It was Kel who taught Lily how to wield knifes.
You might be able to tell, this was the time where I was reading Tamora Pierce. She was the other author who shaped my adolescence.
As Maria listed off the ingredients, Crystal pulled a cauldron out from a cabinet and Lily retrieved the supplies. Lily’s idea for creating a potion was to pour all the ingredients in together and stir. She would have done so, if Crystal hadn’t caught her at the last moment.
“What are you doing?” she demanded.
“Making a potion.” Lily started to tip the bottle of poppy into the cauldron.
“No, that’s not how you make a potion. Stand aside and let me do it.” Crystal pushed Lily aside. Glowering at her sister, Lily opened a spell book and began to read. “What do we need first?” Crystal asked Maria.
“Juice from an apple, peach, and pear.” Maria read. “But I don’t see them on the table.” she pointed out.
“That’s because Lily wanted a snack.” Crystal pried the bitten apple out of Lily’s hand along with the peach and the pear. Lily glared at her, but continued to read, chewing the apple she had in her mouth.
I was still in high school at the time. It was getting a little better, but not much.
“Lily is afraid of something?” Maria asked. “Please, that girl had never been afraid of anything in her lifetime.”
“Then you don’t know her. Lily puts on a tough face, yes. She might not be afraid of fighting, or heights, or doing anything stupid, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t have fears. In fact, Lily’s a really emotional person; she just doesn’t let anyone see that side of her.”
“So what does she fear then?” Sam interrupted Crystal’s explanation of their sister.
“The uncontrollable.” Crystal replied.
What about the uncontrollable? Theo asked, just as interested in what Crystal had to say as the humans.
“Think about Lily’s life. She was always put down because she was a human, something she couldn’t control. Meeting us was another thing she couldn’t control. She didn’t ask to be separated from us at birth and then find out that together we’re supposed to save to world.”
Welcome to college. I still didn’t know the difference between showing and telling.
If the teenager next to her heard those thoughts, he would have told her that she was being ridiculous. Admittedly, he wouldn’t mention her long tan legs and well-toned body out loud. But skill with a sword and fist out matched his. As crown prince of Rowanvane, Kellan Terrain had gone most of his life think himself superior to most. That is until one crazy first year girl held a loaded bow to his face.
Three years later the same mischievous gleam sparkled in her eyes as she turned to him. “They’ve got two guarding the flag which is hanging off the courtier’s spear.”
“Cover for me.” He told her, shifting his position.
“Like I always do.” Lily mumbled. “Never get to be the hero.” Leaping over the wall, she sprinted full speed at one of the boys. Their practice swords clanged together as he stepped up to greet her. Breaking away, Lily swung in low. She had to be careful not to get hit; if a weapon so much as glanced off her padded armor in another team’s court, she would be taken prisoner.
I made that passage omniscient instead of 3rd person limited.
And I’ve got two more passages from this year: one for the new idea Vinsula and I had, and one from a scene I’m working on for a contest. The thing I love about these characters is there are so many different ways I can play around with them.
Lily Namiri elbowed through the throng of drunken commoners, shaking her head. Out of all places that the crown prince of Rowanvane was expected to be, standing in a fighting ring was not one of them. Yet as the grueling crowd heckled and cheered, a solid young man climbed into the ring. In the dim lighting, they didn’t realize that the spitting image of King Frederick stood before them.
“Prince Kellan, what are you doing?” she asked under her breath.
The stale beer mixed with the tang of sweat, making Lily’s skin crawl. Why anyone would subject themselves to this torture when there were some low key taverns just around the corner. At least there she wouldn’t have to worry about her purse being snatched. Though she didn’t know who would try to steal from her. She stood as tall as most men in this place and had more muscle.
“You’re going to get your pretty face beaten.” Lily pulled herself into the ring.
Kel smiled at her. His brown eyes, the only trait he inherited from his Naibaran mother, twinkled. “I was wondering when you’d show.”
This isn’t edited yet. It’s just an idea I scribbled down. But even my scribbles are better than my old work.
My rhythm had disappeared.
Even when no song played, I could find the music wherever I went. The drip of water combined with the rustle of leaves used to resonate through my muscles like a full symphony. Now, sandwiched between the other eighteen-year-old trainees, my ears were numb. I could see into the arena where Lane fought three attackers. Her movements were smooth and precise. The spear she wielded a blur. Yet no music in the clank of her weapon or the thump of her feet. I couldn’t predict her movements any more than the humans who stood beside me.
I swallowed the lump in my throat and took a step back. I couldn’t do this.
Someone grabbed my bicep.
“Where are you going, Lily?” Kel must’ve come down from the stands to make sure I fought. Damn him.
In this piece, I tried something different. It’s a scene for a contest that I’m entering. I was trying to figure out what to write and this idea I had about a more serious story for Lily came up. In all my other writing, she is the warrior and the comic relief. So, I wanted to give her something more serious. I also switched to 1st person for this scene because it felt more immediate.
I hope you enjoyed me making a fool out of myself. Now it’s your turn. 🙂