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For this month's writing prompt write a scene using the following sentence to start;

The streets were deserted. Where was everyone? Where had they all gone?

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Look Back

When not able to write ahead, it helps to look back. In my case I had written a paragraph ahead of the story. What I needed to do was add a section of exposition (talking) presenting some facts. In going back, I realized that I could insert a section where a 'tour' of the surroundings could be done. This allowed for character interaction, story development, and other things that enabled me to present the facts in an entertaining manner.

One should not face a writer's block with the mentality of bursting through it. I have found in my own experience that a writer's block is usually due to my mind indicating that it has a problem in 'channeling' the story. One reason might be a re-imagining of certain story points. Another reason however is that there is a problem in where you are at in the story, so you need to look back and find out the problem with the 'journey' that prevents the tale from advancing.

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 Sense - Chapter One, Part One

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Number of posts : 2
Location : The place where the Vocational Agriculture class has a wait list...
Registration date : 2008-08-22

PostSubject: Sense - Chapter One, Part One   August 22nd 2008, 1:36 pm

This is a portion of my work. This particular piece is my main focus at the moment. Rip it to shreds with constructive criticism!

Chapter One, Part One
I stare out the grimy window of the school bus. I watch the pale surface of the school’s parking lot rush past as we pull out. I see the soft white squares left by the cars that sat through the snow all morning as we roll past the technical center. We shouldn’t have had school today.

I can almost smell the cold of the glass I am resting my head against. I lean away to look at the frosted window. My hair has left prints on it. I put my head back down.

I also smell the heat of bodies, the ever-present scent of perfume, sweat, and too much cologne. I smell the smoke emitting from the backseats. The worst of our local juvenile delinquents have discovered the joys of marijuana, while their novice bad-ass friends are starting to smoke regular cigarettes. How they got them, I cannot be sure — they are always finding more and more creative ways to obtain their drugs.

Someone back there sprays more perfume, or cologne, or air freshener, or something. It smells powerful, whatever it is. Maybe it’s a mixture of the three. They spray and spray, trying to cover the smoke, but it isn't working; there are too many of them. In a last effort to disguise the smell, they open a window. I can’t see it, but I can tell they have — the stench of smoke and the attempt to disguise it is suddenly cut through by crisp, cold, real air. I can smell that, even though I am pressing my shirt collar over my nose to keep out the smell of their grass. I do not want to inhale their smoke.

With the window open, the flurries pour in. Mr. Perry — the bus driver — notices this, but only because it is nigh on impossible to miss.

“Shut the window!” he roars at the top of his lungs. He has to be heard, hasn’t he? I can barely hear him anyway, over the radio static, the screaming kids, and now the wind howling through the opening in the side of the bus. I can hear myself think — only just — and that’s about it. I cannot multitask in this noise, so I don’t try.

Another noise joins in, and I can hear it over all the voices, the static from the radio, the driver’s shouts, and the gale-force winds. The heater has kicked itself to life. I can smell it, too. It smells metallic, false. Strange, is it not, that I can smell synthetic heat? I do not know if anyone else can. I am afraid to ask.

So many noises. My head is starting to hurt; a dull throbbing inside my temples. I try to concentrate of something else, to no avail. It does not help a bit that Olivia Grace — Livy — is sitting next to me, chewing my ear off.

Her voice is not usually this annoying. It used to be something I looked forward to hearing — but not anymore. Today, it is the last thing I want to hear, and she will not stop, for all my begging and pleading. She has been talking about Him all day; the Boy she is so enthralled with. “He” has got something coming to him when he finally gets back to town. I have been hearing nothing but “Simon this” and “Simon that” and “Guess what Simon said to me yesterday?” since mid-November. She is happy-dancing on the thin ice over my rarely used temper.

If her little jazz number on my last nerve doesn’t end soon, she’s going to find out why I do not let myself get seriously irritated often. Last time, I made my brother quite uncomfortable for quite a while.

Ian used to be my best friend, but then…a lot of things happened. Jaq —Jacquelyn Browning — his most recent girlfriend, for one. It was a shame when they broke up; I actually liked her. Ian is not so thrilled about this turn of events, either. He cared more about Jaq than he ever had for a girl. Considering the circumstances, that is saying something.

Livy has noticed that I am not paying her one speck of attention. She is not happy. I, on the other hand, am thrilled that she is very nearly screaming down my ear canal. At least she has stopped talking about Simon. But happiness can never last, can it?

“Sophie! Can’t you just support me?” she asks indignantly. “I just want to tell you about me and Simon. I mean, he’s important to me. That counts for something.”

I make a noncommittal noise, which seems to trigger her annoyance.

“You don’t even care!” she shrieks, “I can’t believe this! You used to give a crap about my life, but apparently it’s not worth it, now!”

“Liv . . . ,” I sigh. Must she be so irrational? “You have been harping about Simon nonstop for the past four months. The first two, it was bearable, but now it’s starting to get to me.”

“Fine, then. You don’t care about me, but Simon does! That’s why I talk about him so much.
He really loves me, and I love him! He’d listen to me!”

“Yes, but you wouldn’t be talking about how completely amazing he was to his face, would you, darling?” I retort wryly.

Livy has nothing to say to this. She is not getting anywhere with her current argument. I have seen real love, and that relationship is not it.

I am furious that she thinks she is in real love. Her parents are really in love, but Olivia is totally oblivious to it — she thinks they hate each other. Ian was in real love once . . . but we don’t talk about that anymore. That is the reason Jaq ended it.

“It hurts to watch him love someone else so much,” she told me. She meant it. She was almost in tears when she explained what was going on. We were close. I pitied Jaq — she came After, and she was with Ian when he went through the shoe box of things that he kept. Very few girls have gotten to the shoe box. Two — now.

Jaq does not realize how close Ian was to really loving her. In fact, he probably did love her — that would explain his second shoe box. And now I am the one who stays with him on the one day he has to think about the other. It hurts me. Before he met Her, he loved me that much — a different sort of love, but love all the same. After they got together, he was a barely discernable figure, always on the far horizon. It was never just Ian and I anymore; she was always there, too. And then it happened. I do not talk about it. I try not to think about it.

Ever since, Ian and I have been further apart, and I cannot figure how to pull us back to where we were. It is like She tore us apart at the seams. Everything started going up in smoke when She came into the picture. Now, my brother cannot really feel anything, except about Jaq — which is why they should never have ended it. He needs her more than she knows. Somehow, though, he manages to make it through the day looking happy and alive — the total opposite of the way he looks at home, which is deeply depressed.

Olivia has calmed down. She is unsuccessfully trying to talk about Simon without sounding like she is talking about Simon. All she is really doing is confusing herself. She suddenly realizes this and gives up. She is about to make her exit, anyway. The bus has stopped to pick up the smaller children from the one Elementary school for our infinitesimal village. Olivia will get off of the bus here and walk the rest of the way to her house. I will sit here and wait, and wait, and wait, until at last we near the end of the route.

The driver is anxious. Outside, a storm like no other seen since the year I was born is brewing. Boiling over. The winds are picking up. It can almost be classified as a blizzard.

It is nearly Easter. I groan. Winter is long enough. This is cruel and unusual punishment for someone like me.

A sudden shiver slithers up my vertebrae. Not a cold chill; more ominous than that. Something is not as it should be. A small portion of me knows that whatever has happened is not for my benefit.

The storm is picking up. I don’t know why the weather has been so volatile lately. Where was all this precipitation during the drought last summer? Why has it chosen to take out its fury on us now? It makes no sense to me, although it probably should, considering.

It should make sense. It should. Hearing the fae should have let me know why this was happening, unless it really was just the weather. Seeing them, feeling them, smelling their scent, tasting their presence; at least one of these things should have given me a previous warning.

This thought brings me to uncomfortable territory. Lately, certain fae have been fading from the forefront of my senses. They are not gone, by any means; no, only receding slightly. I do not know why. There is no one to tell me. Not a single human soul I know of shares with me the burden of the Knowledge. The Knowledge of the Fae — faeries — is a dangerous wisdom to wield.

They cannot be allowed to learn that I can see them. I know that much. I decided that when I was young. They aren’t right, I remember thinking.

No one knows I can see them. No one.

I used to try to tell people about them, but when I was younger, they shrugged it off as a product of my “overactive imagination.” If this were true, I would have had a much easier time in the required art classes I took all through elementary school.

As I got older and an overactive imagination was no longer an excuse for the fact that I saw things no one else could see, I realized that people were beginning to think I was crazy. The school recommended that I see a psychiatrist. I remember a man who must have been stupid; he asked so many irritating questions — did I have an imaginary friend? No. They’re not my friends. Are the things you see nice? No. Not at all. Are they magic? Of course. Does anyone else see them? No. Why? I don't know. How does that make you feel? Um . . .

I remember thinking that he was the one with the overactive imagination. Then he gave my parents another word to describe why I saw what was only visible to me: schizophrenia.

My parents did not believe the stupid man. I did not act like a schizophrenic. I just thought I could see strange figures everywhere. It was never a surprise that they liked the imagination theory better.

Eventually I learned to control my reactions. I have learned not to stop when winged cretins get in my way; not to flinch when they poke and pull; not to run whenever fae come near.

Some of them are terrifying — the short, bony, anorexic-human sized sylphs with the furry moth wings have always frightened me, and, of course, the trolls, ogres, and et cetera have scared me out of my wits ever since the day I first caught sight of one. I have yet to see a giant, but I consider myself lucky. With the size of some of the fey — and considering that the giant is supposedly the largest of all —it would seem that you would not live to see much else if you did happen to see a giant.

Other fae, however, are gorgeous, but they are all on one end of the spectrum or the other; either attractive as is possible or as ugly, but, whichever, they are incredibly striking. They are not something you can just brush off without plenty of work. It took me years to completely disguise my Sight. The other Senses were easier to control most of the time.

The loveliest of these otherworldly creatures are the court fey; the noble class, if you will. Dukes, duchesses, earls, barons, lords, ladies, and princesses. What is more, these are only the ones I’ve seen. I have heard mention of kings and queens also, but have yet to encounter one. I am glad, though, because it seems that the higher on the social ladder, the more powerful the faerie, and that scares me more than anything I have ever Seen, Felt, Heard, or Smelled. They all radiate happiness in the way that humans give off carbon dioxide; it is impossible to see it, but you know it is present. It is . . . tangible. I want to scream and run from them, but if I do, they will know. The will know I have the Knowledge, that I can See, Hear, Feel, Taste, Smell . . . and the screaming is not worth running from the fae for the rest of my life.
I promise, it gets more interesting. But the post was too long...
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PostSubject: Reply   August 22nd 2008, 6:20 pm

PAST TENSE! Please, past tense. Your character is telling the tale. Your readers are reading the tale. The reader is NOT with the character. The action is thus past tense.

It starts without any emotion. Instead of creating an outline -
1) I did this.
2) I did that.
3) I did this other thing
work at building the scenes and action.
A paragraph from the text wrote:
I can almost smell the cold of the glass I am resting my head against. I lean away to look at the frosted window. My hair has left prints on it. I put my head back down.
Why has the hair left a print on the glass? Is it oily? I didn't get that. Also, she put her head back down where? Wouldn't it be back against the window?

The rest of the text continues with the same problems. Work on developing your story on more than simply a statement of events. Get some narrative, some voice, some color, some STYLE into your story. It makes your world and characters more interesting and real.

I really did not see the ending coming. The text is too bland to support a fairy story. I wrote a few, and while the stories were simple and short they still pushed me to bring out some depth. I find a lot of raw emotion in the fairy world, and managing to have the fey relate to our reality took some crafting of the words.

Now, I am not telling you to stop. Please, keep working. Writing is like any other skill, only by continuing to work at it will you get better. It takes work. It takes dedication, but I enjoy it and I hope that you come to enjoy it as well. I wish you well.

Fantasy puts more requirements on the writer than any other fiction, because the world must be made as real before anything else can be real.
Adult Christian fiction quite different than all the usual lame stuff in that market.  "Dilemma of Dreams" now in hard back.
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Sense - Chapter One, Part One
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