You are currently browsing all posts tagged with 'night'.
Displaying 1 - 8 of 8 entries.

Conspiracy Theories and You

  • Posted on March 23, 2016 at 7:45 pm

Something writers, myself included, often forget is the fact that humankind is adept at fooling themselves. Constantly. As this video proves, monsters, conspiracy theories, major religions, all sorts of things we tell ourselves in order to make the world make sense, are in fact, just that, stories. Even the creation of the world is just that. A story, told to make sense of what we don’t understand. Horror stories are meant, not to teach us how to survive the things in the dark, but that there are in fact, things in the dark.

So what does that translate to as a writer? Well, what sort of conspiracy theories populate your world? What do people believe? If people here believe the moon landing was faked, is it possible for the denizens of your world to believe that all the stories of godly behavior are really just coverups for some shady government conspiracy.

In the world of Nightvale, from the podcast Welcome to Nightvale, mountains are in fact, not real. Despite there being one just outside of town.

Now I know what you’re thinking. ‘That’s never going to affect my story. Why do I care what the people of the world believe? Why do I care if some group of idiots thinks that stonehenge is a satellite built by aliens, when in my story it’s a secret fairy-ring!’

Well, they do say that 90% of what goes into a story is never seen by the reader. The sort of depth the world is given when you know what each NPC believes is the sort of depth that people look for. No one wants a story with cardboard for the background.

In the story, ‘The Time Machine’, all we hear about the Time Traveller are rumours, theories, until we meet him. So what theories or rumours surround your own characters? What do they believe about the famous people they’re about to meet? What do they know about the world around them?

Your main characters surely have heard some rumours. And one of the best ways to add conflict to a story is for a rumour like this to be taken seriously, and then, suddenly, to pan out at the worst possible time. Or worse, for a rumour to actually be true! Imagine the looks on your characters faces when it’s not the evil stepmother, but actually the spirit-infested tree growing out of the cursed ground in the back yard?

As an example, in my own series, The Kurylian Saga, the main character , Dirk, has heard rumours about the Priest-Queen and her Knight Templar. Namely, that the father of her children, rather than the God she serves, was in fact, the knight. When he meets the Princess Eamon, he can tell by her hair and her face, that the rumours are in fact, true. The realism of it adds to the depth of the story, even if it doesn’t actually DO much for the plot.

I will leave it here with a simple quote:

Dream ideas into reality.

  • Posted on March 15, 2016 at 2:35 pm

A question I don’t get asked very often is how I get my ideas for my various books and short stories. In this case, I’m going to walk you through the process, as I just had a strike of inspiration. You see, I get my ideas from Dreams. My dreams, often, are more creative than the ideas I come up with in reality. Then, I take a bit of real life intuition, awake logic, and turn it into something worth putting to page.

The dream I just had was a bit of a mess. It started out with me interviewing for a job, failing to get that job, demanding that I actually SEE the supervisor who wasn’t going to hire me, despite it being very late at night and the children needing sleep. Then, I wandered around the mall in which the job was located, and found a huge gym that wasn’t there before, and stairs leading up. The mall in my area is only one floor, so I was confused, and followed the stairs up, and they led to a room in which a famous band was playing.

Beyond the band, I could see a massive stadium filled with people. It was like reality had decided to fold in on itself, creating pockets of reality inside this mall. I wanted to find out why, but I was so very lost. Then, a bald man with dark skin found me, security, and I apologized so much, and he lead me in the direction that I had came. I saw a boy walk by, reading a book that I had read before, and I told him he was going to love it.

The dream then segwayed into what I assume was a scene from that book. A man was standing in a circle of people, facing off against a God, the god of his world. The God sneered, and gave him a chance to win. He would grant one single wish. The man used this wish to bind the God away “Until I have been loved enough.” The god sneered again, and did something that turned the people of the world odd shades of green and brown and yellow (I assume this indicated various shades of disgust, hate and disillusionment.), and it was like resetting the emotional counter on characters in a massive game.

In fact, with the god gone, the whole world was like a game. He separated an entire continent (in my dream there was this lovely sort of effect where a blue fire fox swirled around a peninsula/island chain that connected the two continents, and it was absolutely amazing.), and started putting the world the way he wanted. But the only people who cared for his works were his parents and the woman he loved.

Now the whole thing ended when the new god started getting credit cards in the mail. He realized it was a trap, that the God had been planning this all along. Had enjoyed his freedom for a while, messing up the world, and then passed off the mess and debt to another. It had ALL been a TRAP!

And that was my dream. Fragmented and disjointed, isn’t it? A little bit odd too. BUT! With the proper logic, it can be turned into a pretty good short story. Let’s break it down into parts.

  1. The job – Clearly this is anxiety about my status as jobless. So for now, we’re going to cast it aside. We might use it as some kind of motivation for the main character later.
  2. The mall being weird – This we can use, but from the perspective, rather than mine, of the main character, I.E. The one who takes over for God. Let’s call him Bruce for now (in tribute to Bruce Almighty, a really good movie.)
  3. The God handing over his powers – This scene is important. It’s going to be the actual meat of our story, and the conflict the main character will face.
  4. The scenes where Bruce parts the sea-I MEAN- gets rid of the continent – These are clearly filler, the perks of the job, so to speak. It’s just basically the fun things
  5. The Trap – Now here’s where it gets exsistential. Because I woke up before the dream could really finish, I have to kind of mentally elaborate. The credit cards mean that there is in fact a higher power than the god that he’d bound away. These powers, in fact, are the worst sort. CREDITORS. So now he has to find a way out of this situation.

With those points, we now have an actual outline. After that, it’s a pretty simple thing to write the first draft, edit and edit and edit some more, and then have a workable short story. Now I’m going to do the SMART thing, post this up and then wait a few days to see if the idea still seems viable. A lot of people tell you to wait weeks, or even months, but honestly, I never know what my life is going to be like a few months down the road, so I rarely wait that long.

And that, ladies and gentlemen is how I take one of my dreams, and turn it into a work of fiction. I did the same with the dream that spawned the Kurylian Saga. Now go out and make your dreams come true! On paper, that is.

Ipsy January Unveiling

  • Posted on February 25, 2015 at 9:44 pm

Alright, so you might not know this about me, but I am a beauty-holic. Basically, I’ve fallen in love with things like makeup, jewelry, hair-and-body-care things, and in general just girly things. This means that I, like so many others, have fallen prey to the Subscription Box charm. Specifically, Ipsy.

Now, for those of you who don’t know (and probably don’t care) Ipsy is a makeup subscription service that you can get for $10/mo, and it sends you four or five makeup-items. It’s rather nice, actually, because there’s a quiz you fill out and then you get makeup based on your profile. Like having a personal shopper do it for you, you get the goods, without all the fuss.

Now, why am I, an author, writing about this on my author-y blog? Because, ladies and gentlemen, if you want to make money in the writing field, sometimes, you’re going to have to do things outside your normal range of writing! It’s a lesson in expanding your abilities. So, in my case, I’m going to provide a review of the items I received in my January Ipsy Bag.

Starting with:

The Glam Bag itself:

 

 

As you can see, this cute pink bag has a lovely diamond pattern to it. It’s made of an interesting material, most likely a poly-blend. The pink and the gray offset each other nicely, and it’s a decent size if all you want to do is carry a small amount of makeup. I have to carry some outside of it, because I am a pack-rat, and use a lot of makeup. The cute Ipsy pull makes for advertising in a cheeky way.  Way to go, Ipsy, for putting yourself out there!

 

 

Cargo Cosmetics Mini-Lipgloss in Anguilla

This lip-gloss is one of the best lip-glosses I’ve ever had. Despite having a stick-applicator with that fuzzy-tip that I hate, it’s still really easy to put on. It does have an odd sort of almost-tacky leftover feel, but it glides on smooth. The color is fantastic as well, when mixed with a Nyx Simply Red Lip Creme (in Candy Apple) it does the most amazing pink-ombre on my lips ever. It does smell a tiny bit funky, but other than that, it’s lovely! Definitely a recommend.

 

 

 

Model co BLUSH cheek powder in Peach Bellini

A blush for the ages. I adore this thing, no doubt about it. This blush gives me the rosiest cheeks, and makes me look five years younger, it’s great. I can’t wait to try out more from this company. It even comes in a nice round container, without being overly large! It fits beautifully in the Glambag, and in my hand!

Luxie Beauty Large-Angled Face Brush 504

This brush is mainly what I was buying this Ipsy subscription for! I had been hoping for an angled eye-shadow brush, but this beauty is just AMAZING. It’s great for applying the BLUSH we talked about earlier. Plus, it is soft as a button! It’s survived two weeks in my purse now, and I think it’s going to survive a lot longer! The pink handle is absolutely darling too. I have NO complaints.

 

Pencil Me In cosmetics Natural Eyeliner in Amethyst

Oh where was this eyeliner when I was eighteen and going through my emo-phase? It’s a lovely purple color, just like the name implies. Although I do find this particular eyeliner breaks at the tip pretty easily, the natural formula really entices. I have to admit, however, this one lives on my dresser, and I rarely use it.

And last, but most certainly least:

Eva NYC Up-All-Night Volumizing Spray

This one was the let down of the whole bag. I honestly didn’t get to try it! It broke open on transit, dousing the rest of the bag. Thank goodness it didn’t damage anything. However, since I had stated that I didn’t really WANT any hair-products in my bag (I have a pixie-ish A-line, as you can see in my photos), it was more a blessing in disguise. I let Ipsy know about the situation, and they were more than happy to send out a replacement. I haven’t received that replacement yet, but I’ll be happy to update this review once I do, if anyone is interested!

 

 

 

 

All in all, I’m really satisfied with the first Ipsy bag. The makeup is nice, the lip-gloss to die for, and I found everything else quite happily living in my purse during the week. Not only is much of it useful for my daily apply-makeup-on-bus schedule, but it looks GREAT on me too!  I am a little disappointed that one of the products was damaged, but I couldn’t really blame Ipsy for that. I blame the postal service! Damn postal workers.

Look at him. That smile is so fake. I’m watching you.

(All pictures (except mr. Mailman) courtesy of the Ipsy website. No offense meant to our fine national postal workers, they work hard, and I couldn’t help making the joke. Sorry!)

Surprise Midnight Dumpster Diving

  • Posted on January 22, 2015 at 3:04 am

I’m writing this as I sit in contented glow on my nice warm couch, gazing upon the red glint of my new vaccuum cleaner. It’s handle is snapped, wrapped in layers of duct tape and masking tape, as it to hold on by a single thread that last hope, and even that didn’t save it from the dumpster in which I found it. It sits next to my movies now, it’s permanent home, where it will clean my couches in peace.

This is but one of the joys I discovered tonight, during a round of Surprise Midnight Dumpster Diving. This is what I’ve come to name the odd event that happened to me. After bicycling home at 10:00pm, in 19 degrees farenheit, from my six hour shift (which I took in four inch heels, take that.), I had found myself in front of dumpster diving youtube videos. I honestly have no idea how I got there, maybe from a beauty tutorial, who knows. But the important thing is the next string of thought that entered my mind.

“I have friends who dumpster dive.” followed by “I know the Sally’s Beauty supply is closed right now.” quickly tucking into “I should text them and see if sometime this week we can go dumpster diving at Sally’s Beauty.”

Their reply was a little unexpected. “Do you want to go tonight?” Well, my next shift isn’t until 2pm tomorrow, so… WHY NOT.

So me and my friends, a married couple who have fallen on hard times recently, head out in the (rapidly falling) chill, to rifle through companies dumpsters in hopes of finding good things. I didn’t find that makeup I had hoped for, but I did find a nice milk crate, a few generous shoe boxes, of which my plants will be thankful for, they could use a boost towards the sun, and that lovely vaccuum.

Now all of this would be just another fun night on the town, had it not been for a conversation I found myself having. You see, recently, I’ve been suffering from a feeling of expiration. I’ve read somewhere that a woman is at her peak beauty at 25 years old. And after that, well? It all falls downhill. This has plagued me, tormented me, for quite a while. I don’t know why. I know I’m intelligent, and I know that I have so many more things to offer the world than my pretty face, but still! It really bugged me!

And while talking with my friends, they helped me realise this one, very, very important fact.

I am not milk, which sours on some predetermined date.

I am wine, which grows more rich and flavorful with every passing moment.

Breaking Down Nemesis: Part Five

  • Posted on September 4, 2014 at 4:36 pm

Welcome to Part Five of Breaking Down Nemesis! In Part Four, we discovered that Miss Marple’s original idea, of meeting Mrs. Anderson and asking her about the deceased Mister Rafiel, turns out to be a bunk. In fact, we are no closer at all to finding out the mystery that Mister Rafiel wanted us to find, nor are we actually anywhere closer to the actual plot! It turns out that from what we’ve found out, Mrs. Anderson doesn’t have anything to do with it at all!

Luckily enough, this chapter is entitled Instructions From Beyond, so I don’t doubt we’ll finally get some directions! It starts out with a letter that arrives three or four days after the confrontation with Mrs. Anderson. I’ve copied it here, for your perusal as well!

Dear Miss Marple,

By the time you read this I shall be dead and also buried. Not cremated, I am glad to think. It has always seemed to me unlikely that one would manage to rise up from one’s handsome bronze vase full of ashes and haunt anyone if one wanted so to do! Whereas the idea of rising from one’s grave and haunting anyone is quite possible. Shall I want to do that? Who knows. I might even want to communicate with you.

By now my solicitors will have communicated with you and will have put a certain proposition before you. I hope you will have accepted it. If you have not accepted it, don’t feel in the least remorseful. It will be your choice.

This should reach you, if my solicitors have done what they were told to do, and if the posts have done the duty they are expected to perform, on the 11th of the month. In communication from a travel bureau in London. I hope what it proposes will not be distasteful to you. I needn’t say more. I want you to have an open mind. Take care of yourself. I think you will manage to do that. You are a very shrewd person. The best of luck and may your gaurdian angel be at your side looking after you. You may need on.

Your affectionate friend,

J. B. Rafielmr.rafielgrave

My fangirl instincts are beginning to really enjoy the idea of these two in a romance.  However, putting that aside, Miss Marple is quickly contacted, again in two days time, by the Famous Houses and Gardens of Great Brittain. I won’t type up their whole letter, it basically states that she’s been given a free tour around London, and after checking with a few of her friends to make sure the company wasn’t a scam, she made arrangements.

Once again, we are treated to a scene with Cherry. She’s worried that Miss Marple might not be up to the long amounts of walking involved with the group tour. In the end, Cherry decides that so long as Miss Marple doesn’t “Fall down with a heart attack, even if you are looking at a particularly sumptuous fountain or something”, that she’s fine with it.

Another two days later, and Miss Marple carries her small overnight bag as well as her new suitcase onto a very nice new bus. Another bit of her genius shows through, as she studies the Passenger list, along with the daily itenerary. Apperantly, the itenerary was quite well arranged, with two seperate tours, one for those fleet of foot, and one for the elderly who can’t really move that well. Miss Marple then began guessing who each name on the passenger lists belonged to.

Now, during this particular strain of thought, Miss Marple uses that term again, that I took exception to in the second chapter. “Old Pussies” is a bit… Well, problematic nowadays. So, we’ll not be going over that too much. I’m attempting to take this book as the time period it was written in.

To be quite honest, this chapter really didn’t interest me all that much during my first read through. It was mostly descriptions of what people looked like, and how they struck Miss Marple, which while normally quite interesting, was, in this case, quite boring. Of the fifteen passengers, she determined quite a few things. Unfortunately, with the way it is written, and how tangled it all is, I honestly can’t begin to untangle it.

However, this does bring credit to our Agatha Christie Code theory. Miss Christie just added sixteen new characters to the story, and gave them all very in depth descriptions, and as noted, my brain basically just GAVE UP. Luckily, in the next chapter, we get slowly introduced to them a little easier, so I’m not really going to lay them out now. However, I am going to note a few bits of good writing.

Once again, we’re treated to a very organic thought process from Miss Marple. She goes from thinking about the four other old women, which is realistic mostly due to the fact that people generally note those similar to themselves. I know that I tend to look at young women on the bus before I look at old men, or older women. We see again, how she compares others to those that she knows. Specifically, she compares an old woman to someone called “Dame Emily Waldron”, a notable scientist, and a Principal of an Oxford College.

Perhaps we should learn from this. The next chance you get, take a moment and categorize your own thinking. Take notes on what you notice first, and follow along to your next thought. When you read books, note the thought processes of the characters that you’re reading.

The first day of the trip passes, without Miss Marple determining if anyone was involved in a murder, and she goes to bed, hoping that she might find something out the next day. Before bed, she spends a few moments, noting things down in her notebook. Which, honestly, is a wonderful way to bring us into re-thinking the things she’d discovered today as well. A wonderful narrative device, in fact.

So what have we learned today? Having an organic thought process for your character, as well as showing creative narrative devices to re-iterate information that may have been hard to understand in the first place, are keys to salvaging a rather horrid chapter.

For those of you following along, what did you think of this chapter? For those of you who aren’t, Share your experiences in the comments, with books that start slow and boring, and then pick up?

 

A Review of ‘Eat That Frog!’ by Brian Tracy

  • Posted on August 21, 2014 at 12:29 pm

In Brian Tracy’s book, Eat That Frog!, you are given a set of rules/suggestions to follow to increase productivity and reduce procrastination. I read this book, cover to cover, hoping for some guru secrets. Unfortunately, it was a little underwhelming. Not that I didn’t enjoy it, as I enjoy most self-help books. However, I felt a lot of what he was talking about was common sense. Plus, he really pushed that frog-eating thing a little too hard in my opinion.

Here are the suggestions/rules that really stuck with me:

3) Apply the 80/20 rule to everything. – This means 20 percent of your activities will account for 80 percent of your results. So always concentrate your efforts on the 20% of activities that will yield good things.

This particular rule was news to me before this book. I had never thought of this as fact. I had always just assumed that putting in one hundred percent meant that the universe HAD to match you. But he’s correct. When I set three appointments at work for a special event, only one showed. And he didn’t even buy anything! So, focusing on that 20% tends to be a good idea.

This works in writing as well. Focus on finishing the 20% that helps you succeed later on. Outline, research, get involved, and that will help produce 80% of your writing for you! One article I read mentioned that when you have the energy to get things done, do the hard things, so that the easy things can be done when you are down.

8) The Law of Three. – Identify the three things you do in your work that account for 90 percent of your contribution and focus on getting them done before anything else. You will then have more time for your family and personal life. 

This goes along with the rule above. Identifying the three key things you do that make your work more profitable, more easily done, and more plentiful, then allows you to finish that 20% we were talking about earlier. My three things for writing are: Research, Outline, and Revise. These are the three things I do that contribute to finishing and polishing my manuscripts. At work, they are: Sell, Get Repairs, and Invite to Events.

13) Identify your key constraints. – Determine the bottle necks or choke points, internal or external, that set the speed at which you acheive your most important goals, and focus on alleviating them.

I learned a hard lesson last night at work. I work in a jewelry store, and I’d just sold a $3400 ring, to a couple who had walked in just to look. I thought I had worked very hard, and I was very proud of myself. I even split the sale with a coworker, so that she might benefit from it too, since it had been a slow night and she hadn’t had any sales that month.

Instead of celebrating with me, and acknowledging that I’d worked hard with the sale, she continued a rant she’d had earlier that day, saying that the only reason I had got the sale was because they had come in to buy. Now, this seemed really wrong to me. And I realised that her key constraint was most likely her negative attitude. Since in the last three days I have forced myself to repeatedly tell myself that I can make that sale, I have had three $1500+ days in a row. Clearly, my positive reinforcement of my own mental state has had some effect! This is only made clearer by the fact that before my reaffirmation, I had NO large sales, and in fact, had bombed a big event.

This rule resonates with me because, honestly, I think if she read this book, she might begin to understand how her negative attitude almost brought me down. So yes, despite it’s mediocre common sense, I do reccoment Eat That Frog! if only because, sometimes Common Sense is just what the doctor ordered.

Breaking Down Nemesis: Part One

  • Posted on August 13, 2014 at 12:05 pm

Welcome to a new series of articles centered around breaking down, and understanding Nemesis, a Miss Marple Mystery, by Agatha Christie. If you’re curious, and wish to follow along, you can purchase the book here! (or make use of your public library, of course! <3) We’ll be breaking down several things, focusing on the Tension, the Characterization, and the Plot Threads, while searching out this mysterious Agatha Christie Code that I’ve heard so much about!

Nemesis is a story in the middle of the Miss Marple Mysteries, a series about an old woman, Miss Jane Marple, who happens to solve mysteries in between gardening, knitting, and enjoying her golden years. At twenty two chapters, we’re going to be breaking down each chapter and looking over it. At the end, I’ll give a final post about what I’ve learned from the intrepid Miss Agatha.

In the afternoons it was custom of Miss Jane Marple to unfold her second newspaper.

The cover for the copy I am reading. Clicking will take you to Miss Christie’s Wikipage.

This is the first line of the novel. Odd choice, honestly, but it works, because it shows off a certain oddness about Miss Marple in the first place. Then, odder still, Miss Marple goes off on a tangent about how often her paper is late because the boy delivering it is either late, or has handed off his route for a little while, or has been sacked.

Strangely enough, this drew me in immediately, if only because I really felt like I was listening to the mental ramblings of an old lady. But another part of it shows just how very AWARE Miss Marple is about EVERYTHING. She knows more than just ‘oh the paper’s late, I can’t read it with early morning tea.’ She knows WHY her paper is late, which is something few people even bother paying attention to.

The pacing so far is unbearably slow. I haven’t figured out anything other than what this old woman is doing with her afternoon. Which appears to be reading a newspaper she’s nicknamed “The Daily All-Sorts”. Then, we are treated to another rant, this time about being unable to find anything in the Times. This rant seems devoted to her lamenting how things have changed from when she was young.

A wonderful way to show us her age, and also an intriguingly clear indication that perhaps the so-called Agatha Christie Code is correct. She seems very intent on describing Miss Marple’s thought process in larger-than-life detail.  Here, we find out another odd detail about Miss Marple.

“It’s sad really, but nowadays one is only interested in the deaths!” – Miss Marple

Miss Marple discovers the Internet

She seems to be looking to see if anyone she knows has died, or perhaps given birth, or gotten married. An odd passtime, but when one has all the time on her hands that Miss Marple seems to, I can see why it would become interesting. Everything about Miss Marple at this point seems to be just this side of odd for an old woman. Miss Christie is leaving us hints as to just how odd Old Miss Marple is underneath. This is wonderful examples of characterization. But still, nothing has happened yet.

Finally, Miss Marple comes across a name that stirs some familiarity. Jason Rafiel, listed in the obituaries. She can’t seem to remember who it is, but she has no doubt it will come to her. In fact, we are treated to a long process of her figuring it out. She begins by looking out the window, lamenting that the doctors refuse to allow her to garden. Another hobby we find she enjoyed that now she is restricted. Poor Miss Marple, her old age is catching up to her. Turning away from the window, she picks up her knitting, which appears to be a pink jacket, just missing the sleeves.

Now pink wool, this triggers something of her memory. As we can see:

Pink wool. Now wait a minute, where did that fit in? Yes- yes- it fitted in with the name she’d just read in the paper. Pink wool. A blue sea. A Carribean sea. A sandy beach. Sunshine. Herself knitting and- why of course, Mr. Rafiel. That trip she had made to the caribbean. The Island of St. Honore. A treat from her nephew Raymond. And she remembered Joan, her niece-in-law, Raymond’s wife, saying: “Don’t get mixed up in any more murders, Aunt Jane. It isn’t good for you.”

Do you see what she did there? Miss Agatha Christie just took us through a perfect example of how the mind ACTUALLY works! After scent, touch is the closest sense to memory, followed by sight! Now, Miss Marple didn’t just remember this up, as if it were a scene, no, it’s broken down into actual recollections, actual thoughts. Instead of a flashback, we get a disjointed connection through various memories.

And like any of us, Miss Marple doesn’t just remember everything about that trip at once. No, she has to tease it together, starting with the names. She remembered the elderly Major, whose name continued escaping her. Then she remembers the kind of man Mr. Rafiel had been. Not perfectly, as some people are want to do. She remembers him being an obstinate man, as well as strong, as well as rich. Difficult, irritable and shockingly rude, she remembers. Clearly he made an impression on Miss Marple. And, not only has she remembered Mr. Rafiel, but others too.

Mrs. Walters, a widow and Mr. Rafiel’s secretary. Mr Rafiel’s Masseur-Attendant, Arthur Jackson, who she thought was a rather doubtful character. But instead of being sure of Jackson’s name, she continues to question it. This is a very organic process of tracking down what the thoughts and memories of this time were. And clearly she is remembering the people specifically, not the events. I assume this was Miss Christie’s way of not rehashing the entire events of the previous book, but instead teasing us along into remembering it as well.

Then comes Miss Knight, who was once Miss Marple’s own companion, a young woman she’s rather happy to get rid of. But for some reason, she keeps messing up her name, thinking of her as Miss Bishop. She even quips about it:

“Oh dear,” said Miss Marple again, “I always get all the names wrong. And of course, it was Miss Knight I was thinking of. Not Miss Bishop. Why do I think of her as Miss Bishop?” The answer came to her. Chess, of course. A Chess piece. A knight. A bishop.

I’ll admit, at this point, Miss Christie had me hooked as a writer, although perhaps not as a reader. Such an organic transition, and a clear definition of this character’s mind. Already I am aware that she notices things others don’t care about, and she puts together odd connections, forming them in her mind to remind herself of things. I haven’t even had to read the rest of the series, and I find myself feeling like Miss Marple is an old friend.

She gives us a rundown of how she and Mr. Rafiel had been partners, for a time, but she never gets around to explaining in what. This makes me want to track down the book previous and read it. Well played, Miss Christie. We find out that Miss Marple was quite excited about these events, and it makes us excited too. Already, we’ve found ourselves enthralled by the way Jane Marple sees the world.

Then, we get to meet Cherry, who is now Miss Marple’s Companion. It seems that Miss Marple uses Cherry as a bit of a sounding board. Also, the voices between Miss Marple and Cherry are quite different. I find myself seeing Cherry as perhaps african american, if only because of the vernacular she chooses.

“You did have it in for little Gary Hopkins I must say,” said Cherry. “When you caught him torturing his cat that day. Never knew you had it in you to go for anyone like that! Scared him stiff, you did. He’s never forgotten it.”

“I hope he hasn’t tortured anymore cats.”

“Well, he’s made sure you weren’t about if he did,” said Cherry. “In fact I’m not at all sure as there isn’t other boys as got scared. Seeing you with your wool and the pretty things you knits and all that- anyone would think you were gentle as a lamb. But there’s times I could say you’d behave like a lion if you was goaded into it.”

Also, a wonderful choice there, to show us Miss Marple’s sense of rough justice through the eyes of Cherry, her companion. At this point, I’m also hoping to see more of Cherry. Their interaction seems quite natural, that of a companion and someone of an age beyond adulthood.

Let’s pause for a moment and talk about the syntax of Miss Christie’s work. So far, I’m seeing quite a large number of ‘said’s, and very little added description. She was clearly a follower of the ‘no adjectives’ rule, as well as a detractor from the ‘said is dead’ forum of discussion. However, I don’t feel it takes away from her work. The dialogue itself is well written, as well as showing us little glimpses of what we need to know about Miss Marple. There isn’t a word wasted here. I can see why Agatha Christie is said to be the single best-selling author in the world.

There’s a small break away from the heavy thinking to have a conversation with Miss Bartlett, a companion-gardener to one Miss Hastings. Then, her mind turns back to Mr. Rafiel, and gives us a wonderful description of their relationship. Ships that pass in the night. After that, she resolves that she will probably never think of him again. She’d look out for an obituary, out of what seems an honor for his passing, but she isn’t very hopeful about it. As a final thought, she notes that he hadn’t been anyone of major importance in any industry.

He had just all his life made enormous amounts of money…

All the money. Obsene amounts of money.

What I wouldn’t give to make enormous amounts of money. But on another note, clearly, the foreshadowing here is pretty thick. On the second read through, I found things I hadn’t noticed, such as the Mrs. Hastings reference. Already we have so many characters to follow, and Miss Marple at the center of it all. Red herrings everywhere for a mystery that hasn’t even been introduced, and I’m excited about this book that literally NOTHING HAS HAPPENED IN. All Miss Marple has done is read her newspaper, think about old memories, and talk to two women for five minutes each!

Breaking it down, just a bit, we see already how Miss Christie built up the character for us, showing through thought and action just what sort of woman Miss Marple is. We know she has just a little lion inside her, and is the kind to beat a child senseless for torturing an innocent creature. We know that she has an impeccable memory for detail, although sometimes it takes her a minute and some odd associations to get there.

This entire first chapter was spent introducing the main character. But it wasn’t wasted at all. We weren’t bored to tears by a flashback of what happened in the Caribbean. We weren’t shown her beating the boy, we weren’t even shown her doing anything other than normal things. THIS is an introduction chapter. This is the type of first chapter that will get you published.

Here’s a challenge, then. Take the first chapter of your book, or first paragraph of your short story, or any beginning at all. And have the main character do nothing, but think. Explain who this character is, show it, by their thoughts and actions. Give us a snippet of your results in the comments! And don’t be afraid to tell me what you think about the article either!

Princesses Dancing (Twelve of Them!)

  • Posted on April 19, 2014 at 12:49 pm

((forgive the lateness, this one got away from me a bit.))

Twelve sisters, all in a row, dancing to a chintzy pop song, lipsynching while the lace and frills sway seductively. Each one had a cute heart shaped face, each one dressed in heels, low for the younger, all the way up to six inch stilettos for the eldest. They were perfectly in synch, having practiced for years at the behest of their parents, and each one, every single one, was almost done with this whole routine. It was beyond idiotic, and the girls couldn’t wait for it to be over.

Maya, the eldest, danced because she’d loved to when she was little. Then Aya had been born. Her mother had thought it wonderful for them to dance together. After Aya, Yako, Yano, and Yaya were born. And then Koyomi, Noami and Yakiko were born. Mitsumi and Mikumi were born twins, and then followed Mizumi and Minami. The twelve of them grew up together, their mother obsessed with making them stars.

It was only when Maya was sixteen and Aya came home one night after sneaking out that they found anything that made any sort of sense to them. Singing and dancing in front of everyone was just… boring. It was so every day for them. Princesses of Pop as they were, none of them thought of it as fun any longer. So when Aya came back from the streets of the city and told them all about how there was a club where no one danced, no one sang, but everyone snapped and spoke in rhyme and it was dark and beautiful, they all put on their best non-stage clothes and snuck out.

It was beautiful. They sat down and ordered coffees that they weren’t allowed to have normally, and then they all listened as people poured their hearts out in solemn tone, accompannied by bongo drums and snapping fingers, and it enchanted them.

Maya was the first to fall. He called himself Adam. He wasn’t though. He was just as japanese as she was, and she knew it. But she couldn’t help it. She wrote him poetry on her arms, so that he would read it when she met him at night, and then he would kiss away the ink. Aya was next, and her Danny was good with words. He told stories that made Aya sing with laughter and joy. Each one fell quickly, boy after boy, princes of darkness, of the poetry of the coffee.

They hoped never to be found, when they left every night. But when they slipped down three spots on the charts, they knew. Someone would find out. They didn’t care. Never did they care. It would be a long time before the Princesses stopped dancing this dangerous knife-edge dance. They didn’t want to let time slip through their fingers.

Follow

Follow this blog

Get every new post delivered right to your inbox.

Email address

%d bloggers like this: