Monday, June 30, 2014

New Short Story Idea #5

Working Title: "Roulette"

Genre: No idea. Literary?

Main Characters: Cherise, a new chef at Roulette who's quite nervous about her job, although she's a perfectly good gourmet chef already.
Ronald, one of the well-established chefs of the restaurant and (secretly) the one who will poison meals at random, and not necessarily the ones he makes.
Jones, a frequent customer at the restaurant who brought his girlfriend Dinah along this time.

Setting: The kitchen and main dining area of the Roulette restaurant, modern-day-ish. The restaurant serves gourmet food for free, but on occasion, a random meal will be poisoned. Generally, the poisons are matched with foods that will mask the particular flavor or scent. The toxins also range from near-instant death to mild food poisoning.

Plot: Cherise works her first day at the restaurant, while Ronald and Jones do their normal things.

Point of View: Third-person, omniscient.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Dream Journal #20

Also, a brief notice that there won't be any posts next week.

12 June—13 June

I was at school, wearing nice clothes, as I left the gym area along with several classmates. While we were taking a shortcut through a grassy, hilly area, an alarm started to blare. I wasn't quite sure what the plain, on-off rhythm was meant to warn us of, so I just followed the others as they fled. One of them told me the sound was a fire alarm, and, when I looked back, I could finally see smoke nearby. Braden* came after it with an extinguisher. The smoke went down briefly before the fire flared up again, and it took a few cycles of this before the fire was finally put out. My classmates and I congratulated him and returned to our business.

I walked on and entered my dorm room, a den-like area with a short step down stretching across the middle. My roommate was a plump Asian girl who stayed at the lower side of the steps. I sat at the middle, my feet on her side, as I took off my black church shoes. Then I removed the hose-like socks just beneath them; then the thin, white socks beneath that. I briefly thought it might b e rude to put my shoes on her side of the room, but I went off looking for lunch, anyway.

The normal place was not offering lunch at the time, so, rather upset, I started toward the alternate eating place. One the way there, I had to get through some sort of lounge room where several adults sat on a couch watching television. A fluffy, bright blue rug stretched over the only area I could walk across, but a dull, green liquid was pooled all across it. I tried to step onto it regardless—and managed to put my toes somewhere they didn't get wet—but Becky** was on her knees trying to clean the thing, and I gave up.

Frustrated, I went back to my room and decided I would just go to the sandwich store at the edge of campus because it would be easier. I sat on the little step in the room and put on my shoes. My roommate was on the couch on her side watching a cartoon I didn't recognise. She had the English subtitles on since it was in Chinese, and I wondered if she was trying to learn Chinese.

I left my room into the larger building surrounding it and tried to figure out how to get out. There was a door to the outside in a sunlit storeroom, but it was blocked by a man calling his mother on the telephone there. My roommate told me this happened a lot. I didn't acknowledge her as I kept trying to find an exit, and it took me a minute to realise that that might have been rude.

Finally I came up to a door-like area with four stacked, horizontal metal sheets; each was a series of joints so that it could curve whatever way it was pushed. I squeezed through one of the panels into a garage area and found a second set of the things inside. I pushed one partway open to check, and it did, in fact, lead outside. I shut the flap and prepared to go through before I paused and took another look out. As I had suspected, the truck outside, its headlights on, was drawing closer. I let the flap go and hurried back through the first set of flaps to hide.

Then I was in some kind of classroom. The subject we were learning there was never made clear, but Hemingway and certain other assignments mentioned made me think it was a creative writing class. We were getting our final assignment before the class was to be dismissed when the teacher called two of my friends and me the top three in the class.

*A sort of exaggerated figure with whom I took some Japanese classes.

**A family/church friend and my oldest friend's mother.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Fragments XI

More and more of these little guys.
  • A magic system centered on photographs
  • Competitive trampolinists
  • "They told him he has pancake syrup in his veins" (overheard at a hospital)
  • A character named Tilda
  • A story or game where the main character can take the colour of an object and give it to another one (whose colour the character is now able to transfer further)
  • A character named Nohbdy
  • The main characters both sing karaoke well and unwittingly pick out songs that soon become relevant to their adventures
  • A character with the last anme Deatherage (which apparently is a real name)
  • A leading lady whose boyfriend is pretty much only there to shapeshift into various weapons and tools for her
  • The time-travelling (incompetent) saxophone haters trying to assassinate Adolph Sax throughout his lifetime (seen on Tumblr)
  • Someone who works at a snow cone stand

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Take One Down, Pass It Around

How many POVs is too many?

I've gotten away with stories (fan fictions) that switch the point of view character every chapter and come back to any of the same ones very rarely. I've also done stories with some twenty-four POVs—hardly equally weighted—and some with about three or four. But what's the farthest you can go, either way? Is the story too one-track-minded if only the main character gets to carry the POV? Is it too incoherent if a long series of characters keeps passing on the baton?

I certainly prefer books with multiple POVs. Not dwelling on certain Hetalia/Hunger Games crossovers, original works like the Unwind dystology do a great job with POV-switching. There are certainly main characters that carry more POVs, but still other characters get their own voices, and even inanimate objects carry the story every once in a while for a change of pace.

Of course, I'm sure there are plenty of ways to go about multiple-POV stories the wrong way. I can't think of any actual examples, though; most books seem to be almost entirely single-POV.

There's nothing really wrong with that, though, right? A novel tends to be the main character's story—that's why the protagonist is the protagonist. Of course, many other characters' stories are entwined with the main character's, but does that mean they have to tell it in their own voices? Dialogue can cover a lot of that, and, of course, the other characters are moving along with their own actions as well.

What do you think? Who should get a POV? How is switching between multiple POVs done right, or wrong?

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Character Questionnaire

I  completed a 30-day version with the two main characters of Victims of the Bridge, and, although there were many interesting questions, there are obviously a lot more my characters could bear to answer for me. As such, I decided to put together a few more questions for the lot of us to enjoy.
  1. What does your character like on his/her omelettes?
  2. How important does your character consider his/her heritage to be?
  3. How many volts would he/she go to if he/she had been a teacher in the Milgram experiment?
  4. Describe your character's typical scent.
  5. What kind of video games does/would your character play (puzzle, first-person shooter, etc.)?
  6. What is your character's preferred style of footwear?
  7. How does he/she feel about musicals?
  8. What breed or kind of dog is his/her favourite ("dog person" or otherwise)?
  9. What's your character's favourite smell that brings up memories?
  10. What's your character's favourite smell that doesn't bring up any particular memories?
  11. If your character were forced to start a triathlon, how far would they end up going?
  12. How short a skirt (if any) would your character wear?
  13. If your character had the chance to buy everything from a single store, what store would it be?
  14. How many minutes early or late does your character intend and/or tend to get to scheduled events?
  15.  What is your character's ideal vacation environment?

Monday, June 9, 2014

How I "Organise" This Blog

You've probably figured out that updates come every three days, but have you noticed them alternating? Well, not really back and forth... at least not the way I see the posts. I don't know about you, but here's how I classify my posts, to keep from repeating the same kind of stuff post after post.

Friday, June 6, 2014

The Ballad of George and Becky

Here I present the chapter following the first chapter of Victims of the Bridge (current title of Ghost Brigade). Still raw. Still contains some suicide.


I’ve walked about thirty minutes away from the car before I get to what I think is a good spot. I’m actually pretty much in the middle of civilization, but I have no reason to think I’ll be found here.
The sign out front for The Crawfish Kitchen still hasn’t been properly taken down, but the For Lease sign is definitely up. This poor building has probably been twelve different restaurants, none of which have remotely succeeded for more than a few months. At this point, no one’s dumb enough to try to make it into another one. It’s not a good location for much of anything else, though, so the first person I would have to worry about finding me is someone in a deconstruction crew. That operation isn’t going to happen anytime soon, though, so I’m sure this will be fine. The interior is cool, and there’s a nice little room in the back with no windows or doors outside.
Anyway, it works for me, and, as far as I can tell, George isn’t terribly upset with the place. So I settle down, sigh, and ready the knife.
There’s got to be a better way to do this. But I don’t have a gun—someone would hear the shot, anyway—hanging myself sounds even more horrific, and I don’t know what the heck pills I’m supposed to wash down with alcohol to die and not just get extensive liver damage. And, you know, this worked once. Why take any chances?
I still get quite a bit of bile in my throat before I hack it open. And then it’s the same fun all over again. Pain, dark, waking, George.
I at least get dislodged from the floating part with less force this time. Maybe the guy is starting to get an idea of what he’s actually doing.
Letting out a long exhale, I put my hands on my hips and nod at the corpse. “Good enough for you?”
George, tapping his right hand on his thigh, looks around the room. “Uh, yeah. Nobody comes here, I guess?”
“No, I just felt like killing myself an extra time for fun.”
He laughs weakly, putting his hands back in his pockets. “Let’s get going then, huh?”
He turns and starts to walk into a wall, but I just watch him. He’s halfway through before he pauses and looks back at me.
“Miss? Are you all right?”
There are too many responses to that for me to pick one.
“First of all, I go by Becky.”
“Right! I know—I remembered; I just—” He cuts off and scratches the back of his head. “Never mind. Sorry.” Slumped, he spins to properly face me. “So, Becky, are you all right?”
“Yeah, sure.” I just manage to stop myself from trying to lean against the wall. “I’m just wondering if you’re seriously going to lead me off into your grand plan without telling me anything about it.”
He smiles. “Nothing wrong with jumping into things and then learning how to swim, right? I hear it can be more effective that way.”
“Sadly, I don’t care. Tell me what’s going on.”
He slouches. “Well, it’s a pretty long story, but, basically, a big plot is about to come to fruition, and innocent people are going to die if we don’t do something.”
That sounds like the basics of something, all right.
I take another step away from my body. “So what are we two ghosts supposed to do about it?”
“Oh! Actually, I’m useless.” Of all things, this doesn’t seem to cast a shadow on his mood. “But I’m pretty sure you’re the one that can stop this. That’s why I’ve been trying so hard to get to you.”
“Okay.” I put my elbows back. “What’s so special about me?”
He tilts his chin up a little. “Your abilities, for one. I’ve never sensed any so strong.”
He pauses, his eyes rolling up a little. “Maybe that sounds a little weird, but you’re a ghost now, so you should be able to sense this stuff, too.” He grins, looking back at me. “Can you figure out how many special abilities I have?”
I focus for a second, but either I’m too skeptical to sense anything, or George is completely making this stuff up.
“Sorry. I’m not getting any vibes from you.” Other than the lack of brainpower, but I don’t think it took a sixth sense to figure that one out.
He doesn’t stop smiling. “That’s because I don’t have any special abilities! So you get the picture, right? I know what’s going on, but only you’re strong enough to stop it. So, you wanna start walking?” He points a thumb towards the wall.
“Sure, what the heck.” It’s not like I have anything better to do. If I did, I wouldn’t be lying dead in a cursed restaurant building.
“Great!” He spins on his heel and strides right out of the building. At least, he disappears behind the wall, and I have to reason to believe he didn’t come out on the other side.
Fisting my hands loosely, I go to follow him. My first time phasing through a wall. Somebody take a picture.
I still brace myself as the metal approaches. Strictly speaking, I don’t really know what I’m doing, but it can’t be that hard, right? My ghost can already move and walk without thinking about it. Going through walls ought to come just as naturally in this form.
I hold my breath, keep stepping forward—and then I stumble and fall flat on my face. I can feel spongy concrete pressing in on my face, although it doesn’t hurt. Guess I can’t complain, then.
Well, I can’t complain about getting hurt.
I’ve pushed myself to my knees before George is grabbing at my shoulders to haul me up the rest of the way.
“I’m sorry! I should have warned you about the step down. Are you okay?”
“For cripes sake, your Chosen One ought to be able to take this much.”
“Uh, right.” He pulls back, scratching the underside of his jaw.
That’s when I realize how oddly dark it is out here. It was only afternoon when I stepped into the building, but now everything seems to be obscured in a hazy shadow. The concrete is specked with white spots of old gum, the clouds are black, the brickwork is greenish, and, now that I think about it, it’s as if I stepped into a negative. The kind you get back in film strips when you get the pictures off your disposable camera.
And then there’s George, who doesn’t look like the kind of surreal X-ray of a person in a negative. He just looks like George, as normal as he gets. A glance down at my shoes proves that I’m still in the positive as well.
Ghost world. Fun stuff.
George is watching me, his head tilted to the side a bit, so I sigh and rest my hands on my hips.
“Sorry. Just getting used to the scenery. I’m ready to go when you are.”
“Huh? Oh.” After a brief survey of the area, he starts walking, and I follow. “Did you not step outside before?”
“Not as a ghost, no.”
“Huh. Well, yeah, this is how it looks. You get used to it.”
“How long have you been here, anyway?”
“Thirty years now.” He lets his hands swing at his sides as we walk through traffic. I can’t sense anything as a car, then a pickup go straight through me. It’s kind of neat, though.
I’m having a little trouble keeping up with George, even when his legs aren’t all that much longer than mine. “So you’re at least an expert on how things work on this plane, right?”
“Of course!” He scratches the back of his head. “At least, I’ve figured out a lot of the ropes by myself. I don’t talk to many other ghosts, though, so I doubt I know everything.”
“Are you a little too galling for them?” I don’t imagine that most of the recently dead or otherwise wandering would take too kindly to such a broad enthusiast.
“Um.” He puts his hands back in his pockets, and I get the feeling he might not be sure what “galling” means. “I don’t know. Sometimes it seems like everyone’s ignoring me, but—” slouching, he looks up at me with some awful puppy-dog eyes— “you’re the only human who’s ever seen me, and I’m starting to wonder if even the other ghosts don’t notice me.”
Yawning, I smack him on the scapula. “Don’t worry. You’re annoying enough; I’m sure they’re actually ignoring you.”
“Uh, thanks.” He doesn’t quite straighten up.
We make it across the street, and he takes a sharp left once we’re at the sidewalk.
“Where is it we’re going?” I find myself sidestepping some freshly spat gum, more out of principle than anything else. “Kill People Headquarters?”
“Not exactly.” He picks himself up a little and glances down at me. “To be honest, I kinda thought you’d need a little more time, you know, to get used to being a ghost.”
“Oh.” I watch my feet as they go over the pavement without incident. “The look of this place is dizzying, but otherwise I think I’m all right.” Exhaling, I toss my hair behind my shoulders. “Let’s go and do something. Hit me with your best shot. I can take it.”
Huh. Did that come out of my mouth? I guess being dead is kind of liberating. No more depressing life. No more normal. Just having no idea what’s going on and actually not minding. I’m not sure what it is. You would think being the only one able to save multiple people’s lives would be a lot more crushing of a responsibility than just trying to survive classes in a way that won’t wreck your hopes for med school.
Yet here I am. Let’s go have an adventure. It beats the crap out of sitting through yet another class’s lecture on action potentials, and it’ll be nice to get a chance to do good for some people before ten more years of school have passed.
“All right, then!” Shoulders back, George charges ahead an an even more unreasonable pace. “Let’s get cracking.”

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

New Fiction Idea #51

Working Title: The Academy for Exceptional Butlery

Genre: Humour/Action

Protagonist: Ravi, a charming and moderately attractive young man who's trying to finish up his first year at the academy. He does excellently in almost all of his classes. He's kind, friendly, and honest, although he relies a bit too much on others and tends to be indecisive.

Other Main Characters: Conall, Ravi's good friend who enjoys chasing women and playing cards when he's not studying. Although some consider him incapable of being a proper butler due to his atrophied legs, he does quite well in most of his classes.
Kyrie, a young woman with a sly, sinister air about her. She keeps her dark hair in two ponytails (which I can only imagine anime-style at the moment). She failed out of the maid academy across the street for being neither shy and cute nor sexy and coquettish. She may have gone to... unusual measures to secure herself a spot in the otherwise male-only butler academy.

Antagonist: Unknown.

Setting: The titular academy, where aspiring butlers receive their training and typically graduate in two years. The most emphasised classes are those concerning household management, etiquette, hand-to-hand combat, combat with household items, and scathing, dry sarcasm. It's in a bit of an alternate universe, probably similar to ours a century or so ago.

Plot: The final examinations are closing in. Each student must both complete a written exam and perform well in a week-long simulation. Although each student's simulation is a bit different, all involve several days of keeping up a mansion and interacting with its inhabitants, as well as a feast that culminates with a threat to the household that the butler must resolve (combat, of course, is involved). But some problems have been arising with the workers in the simulation, and Ravi, scheduled to take his finals last, might just have to fix all of it.

Point of View: Third person, limited to Ravi.