The Rules of Spoilers

Spoilers are tricky. And potentially friendship-ending, if you reveal the wrong thing. But they’re something that must be dealt with, because sometimes people need little hints to get into stories. “Let me tell you this one plot point I know you’ll love so you’ll read the rest of the book.” “I know you hated the beginning but I promise that it gets better.” “Yes, the evil bad guy does get his just desserts in the end.”

And looking at those examples, there’s a few “rules” to pick out, to safely navigate the treacherous waters of spoiler territory.

Continue reading “The Rules of Spoilers”

Story Sticks: Runaways

Last post of 2022! I thought about doing a kind of wrap-up, but I’ve actually done quite a few summaries of what I’ve done over the year, and progress is rather nebulous and inconclusive on a lot of projects, so I’ll leave it at this: a lot was accomplished, but not a lot finished.

Next year will probably be even more chaotic, since I’m in the throes of planning my November 2023 wedding. We’ll just have to see what kind of writing gets done. So instead of a summary of what I did, or a plan of what I’ll do, here’s a quick flash fic to close out the year.

I have a box of writing prompt doodads, and I plan to go through them and see what ideas they spark. Today’s post comes as an idea from the Box of Prompts. I plan to use these to jumpstart creativity and stretch myself a bit. Today I’m using three sticks with sentences on them, chosen randomly. The prompt is:

First sentence: “I was dressed in a completely inappropriate shade of pink.” Nonsequitur sentence: “On the following Friday, we packed our bags and planned our escape.” Last sentence: “the day her mother slapped her face.”

I was dressed in a completely inappropriate shade of pink. Like, seriously. Who would want to wear a dress that bright when going to the birthday party of an older girl? Twelve year olds didn’t have to wear fluffy dresses, either. At eight, I felt like a four year old. Jenny was nice enough, but she was my big sister Ellen’s friend, which meant I was stuck being the tagalong. Perhaps the vibrant pink was meant as a warning signal, like the poison frogs of the Amazon? “Don’t interact with this kid, she’s too crazy and little.”

Or perhaps it was more like a peacock, meant to draw attention. I was not the only child with a vivid dress. A friend of Jenny’s had a sister, Kiara, garbed in a bright yellow. Drawn together by the colors of our dresses, we talked and chattered and generally complained about our families. By the end of the party we were fast friends, bound by a promise to meet up at school and figure out how to escape our silly older sisters and mean parents who forced us to wear babyish clothes.

Meeting in school was difficult. We only shared one class: choir. Initially the teacher had us at opposite ends, but we finagled our way through until we met in the middle. After that, the difficulty was talking right under our choir teacher’s keen ears. Gradually, we hedged our way back to the far edge, and our friendship bloomed in quieter climates.

Both of us remained unhappy with our lives at home, and so we plotted to leave. On the following Friday, we packed our bags and planned our escape. I was excited, since I’d never made it this far in the planning process before. My mom always shut it down well before I could have gotten far enough to pack my things, but there I was, all ready to go.

We both made it to the halfway point between our houses before we were caught. When I heard the shrill noises of anger, I cringed.

But it wasn’t my mother. It was Kiara’s.

I’d never met the woman before that day, and almost immediately my child senses knew something was wrong with this woman. A cold chill ran down my spine. It didn’t take long to be proved correct, because she screamed at Kiara and then slapped her full across the face, knocking her to the ground.

This was the point where my own mother entered the scene. To my child eyes at the time, it was the sheer force of her righteous fury that shoved the other woman away, but in reality it was probably her hands. She pushed both of us girls behind her and began to scream, long and loud, and it wasn’t long before the police came.

Chaos reigned for a long time after that. Turned out that Kiara had reason to be afraid of her mother, while all I’d been fussing over was a loss of ice cream. She joined our family for a while, until her father finished the divorce. Two sisters was better than just one. Even after she went home, we remained sisters. All from the day her mother slapped her face.

Writing a Christmas Short

My writing group has a prompt this month, to write a holiday-themed story based around four different words/phrases, based on characters and places in our worlds. I picked “gift giving”, and I’m using my Overlord world. Writing a Christmas story for a world that doesn’t technically have Christmas has been an interesting challenge.

Read more: Writing a Christmas Short

The Overlord world is a silly one, with everyone being matter-of-fact about rather ridiculous situations like a giant monster regularly appearing out of a hole in the ground or ghosts or the town council being composed of vampires. The particular characters I used were Glenna Stormraven (a powerful sorceress who’s a little too aggressive to be good at socializing), Jerrick (a mercenary who’s given magical weapons at random but also ends up being the Chosen One in several situations with all the hassle that comes with), and Poggy Strankfelder (a gnome accountant who didn’t want human friends but he accidentally defrauded them and once they forgave him it seemed gauche to refuse to associate with them).

Poggy has no idea what Christmas is, but he’s been told he should give his friends gifts since they gave him some, so he panics, and his eventual choice of gift is thoughtful but chaotic. Loosely inspired by this current Christmas in my household where it’s fewer gifts but better ones. The thought matters!

It fits after what will be the second book of the series, after an apocalypse is averted, during a rare period of inactivity for these characters. Lots of fun to write. A little rough, and a lot of the details are things that I would know but others wouldn’t, so it’s more for me than anything. It was still nice to write something meant to be read by other people right this instant.

So that was a little piece of writing I did! I hope everyone has a pleasant holiday, full of restful moments and bursts of creativity.

In the Middle of NaNoWriMo

I’m in the middle of NaNoWriMo now, and progress is going actually really well. I think seeing a lot of external things pressing on my schedule has forced me to be more conscientious about writing and getting it done, and I’m actually two whole days ahead and I’ve managed to keep the words flowing every day. I’m already over 30,000 words!

Continue reading “In the Middle of NaNoWriMo”

Story Sticks: Spy Work

Today’s post comes as an idea from the Box of Prompts. I plan to use these to jumpstart creativity and stretch myself a bit. Today I’m using three sticks with sentences on them, chosen randomly. The prompt is: First sentence: “Charlotte ate green peppers all day long.” Nonsequitur sentence: “I decided the only solution was to seduce him.” Last sentence: “the hole in his sock.”

Continue reading “Story Sticks: Spy Work”

Spooktober Prompts

I have recently gone through some interesting life shifts, and I’m not entirely sure how this will affect my writing and how much I’m able to do, but I’m excited to see how it will go. In the meantime, there’s NaNoWriMo coming, so I’ve got to finish up my current projects and gear up for the next one. And in the interim, in this month, I’m going to be doing Spooktober Prompts from World Anvil, to explore one of my worlds a bit.

Spooktober is a prompts challenge run by World Anvil, involving spooky things. There’s a single word prompt for each day. I’m going through them fairly quickly. As of writing this post, I’m done with 15 of 31 prompts, which is pretty good. You can find my progress here.

I’m focusing on the world of my superhero story. It could use a few developmental details for flavor. So far my favorites have been creating points on a timeline to go with major events in my main character’s life. It’s fun to have a visual representation of what I plan to do with her, at least somewhat.

Also, I’ve decided to include some proof that I am in fact working on a book right now. This is a rough draft, of course, but here’s a few lines just to show that words are being written. Lots of them. So many.

“So this just turned into a disaster.”

Glenna wheeled around. “Morna!”

When Deborah and Poggy followed her into the chamber, Glenna nearly felt bowled over. Not exactly who she would have expected to come all the way out there.

Morna had her sword to hand and an easygoing look on her face. “This is the last phase before the Day itself. I thought it would be a good idea to leave off politics for a minute and come help. Make sure that we’re ready to go, and all that.”

Poggy looked thoroughly disgruntled. “Yes, Deborah and I did all the work of following you, but she caught up in time, so she gets the credit for saving the day.”

“Glad you could come, Poggy,” Glenna said politely.

“Thank you.” That seemed to mollify him, at least for the moment.

How Not to End a Series

This is from a consumer viewpoint, not a creator. I’ve recently been confronted with a number of TV shows that I enjoyed that came to a poor enough end that it ruined my enjoyment of the previous episodes. To varying degrees, of course. And this is not a comprehensive list because honestly lately I’ve been really unimpressed with a lot of different stories, these are just some of the ones that either bug me the most or I’ve most recently engaged with.

Continue reading “How Not to End a Series”