Story — My Lisa Stenton Notes

So, this isn’t a story. Sorry about that. Instead, I decided I should talk a bit about my plans for Lisa Stenton, where it’s going, and where I see difficulties, not in that order. So, spoilers ahead soon for literally anyone reading this (because this is information I’ve never shared with anyone.) But if you don’t care, read on! I will make a mention of where the spoilers actually begin, so it’s safe to keep reading for now.

First, when I started the Lisa Stenton shorts, I wrote them as just that: short stories. The more I write, however, the more it (perhaps inevitably) is turning into an actual novel, and I actually don’t like that. For one, I’m not really writing novels at this point in my career because I get bored with the characters/story after about 8-10,000 words. Now, I’m already at the point with Lisa’s stuff, and luckily I still like everything that’s going on, but it’s still a concern for me.

Another concern is that I never wrote it as if it would be a novel. The first three chapters all happen weeks a part, so if I were to make it a novel I would condense it into days at the most. Now, this isn’t a big problem, but it does change some subtle things. I wanted the shorts to be “snippets” of her life, not “the next important thing” that happened.

She’s also a bad protagonist. I don’t have a clear goal for her to be working towards, for one. Right now she’s still just learning about the supernatural world. In the same vein, I have no character arc set up for her. This isn’t as much of an issue, as I’m realizing I’m apparently writing her as an unsympathetic jerk, and I can make that change over time, but it’s not an intentional thing going on there. Those things make me scared to move on, because I don’t have a novel structure I’m really basing it off of. Of course, the most important thing is that I like the characters and the story, so I shouldn’t worry about writing myself into a corner when I have some semblance of a plan.

Alright: spoilers ahead here. Where is the story going, and what is that semblance of a plan? Before I get to that, let me give you the big picture of this world I’m building. The most important thing is that everything derives it’s power from belief. Supernatural creatures are stronger the more prevalent they are in folklore. In our world, most people don’t believe werewolves exist in our world, but they are given life through our ideas of them. This contrasts old, pagan gods like the Norse, Greek, Chinese, Egyptian, etc. Today’s society doesn’t really believe that those gods ever truly existed in any form, so in my world they simply are immortal beings with no power. So you can use “belief” as a gauge to tell how powerful a supernatural creature would be in my world.

It’s the same thing with the magic. I’m not quite sure if this will work the way I want it to, but right now, the only constraint is your ability to believe something is possible. You could fly if you truly believed you were capable of it. This is why the humans in the supernatural world have formed guilds. They specialize in things because it’s a lot easier to teach somebody to create magic ink if you show them it’s possible. Lineages have their own powers and specialties because doing magical things without anyone to learn from is basically impossible. I also like the idea of bloodlines being directly related to your supernatural abilities, but I don’t have a proper justification for that just yet. As a side note: Lisa totally has a power, but I have no idea what it is. The only inkling I’ve got was maybe it’s her power to believe in other people, giving them power, but I don’t think this really fits with her character very much.

So, all of this ties in to where I’m going. But there’s one big piece of lore I haven’t mentioned yet: The Old War (as I am calling it as of this very moment). The Old War is the reason the majority of every people don’t know about the supernatural world. About 3,000 BC and prior, the world was overrun with the supernatural. It was part of every day life, and because everybody knew they existed, they were incredibly powerful. Think of this time as an advanced civilization. (Not Space Age, mind you.) The world was far more advanced than even the Romans managed, and precious little is known about this time. That’s because the Old War was a century long battle between the humans and the supernatural to wrestle control for the Earth, and the humans won. With their victory, they all but erased the supernatural off the map, utterly destroying their power by doing so. Because of this, that’s the way it’s remained ever since. In Lisa’s time, it is debated to this day whether or not that war was good or bad. On the upside, it gave humans control of their lives, but on the downside it set technology back extremely far. (I’m sort of basing all of this on technology archaeologists have found that confuse our understanding of how advanced the people were back then, like the Antikythera mechanism.)

What does that have to do with Lisa’s story? Absolutely nothing… yet.

But it does tie in with what her entrance to the supernatural community means. First off, and perhaps most importantly, there is no extra plane of existence in this world. The Earth is all we’ve got. This brings a lot of challenges writing an urban fantasy, because it makes it so I also have to hide the events of this story from the public the entire time I’m writing. (Although big events can leak through like in other series. I have no qualms with that.) All that being said, I do want their to be action, and I want swords to be involved somehow, since I’m an epic fantasy writer after all, but I don’t know how to make it work. I have no “cover story” I can use from the real world to justify the true meaning behind what’s happening in mine, and it’s especially hard if I want to use swords rather than just using plain old guns. So, I still have to give that quite a bit more thought.

Lastly: what’s in Lisa’s house? Well, saying it flat out will be disappointing, but in the context of the story I think it’ll come across as a breath of relief. Most importantly, it is an extremely dangerous being. When Lisa described what happened to Will, he recognized that the only things that could do what it did were powerful and dangerous, so that’s why he warned her not to go back home. What he doesn’t know is that that creature is bound in servitude of Lisa’s parents, and effectively under contract to keep her safe. This will take some time to be revealed in Lisa’s actual story, but that’s what’s going on. I don’t know what to call this beast just yet, but his name is Reed. He is a body-snatcher, and without warning or approval, can take direct and complete control of somebody’s body. This is what he did to Lisa when he wrote her suicide note. He did this as an introduction, since he recognized her discovering the supernatural world. (It was also his way of showing his annoyance of having leeches in the house.) Now, what does Reed do? Well, he reads. Lisa’s mother named him based off the same principle that she names leeches. This isn’t his real name, but it’s hard to pronounce so they just call him Reed. He reads ancient manuscripts from the Old War, which is what Lisa’s parents go off every spring to collect more of.

As an aside to everything I’ve already said, Lisa and Doc will have an Ash/Pikachu relationship, except in this circumstance she does it because she knows it annoys/disturbs the rest of the supernatural world to have a leech by her side all the time. She does it because she genuinely likes Doc, being one of the only people that was introduced to the leeches on her own terms.

So that’s pretty much everything I have planned for Lisa Stenton’s story. The upcoming chapters will be her and Will going off to do something that I don’t have planned, and it will be a little while before she goes back home, not knowing what’s there and being terrified to return. I don’t plan on continuing the story for a few months at least, because I’ve got other stuff I want to be working on, but also I need to iron out some of the above details before I’ll let myself continue.

 

 

Story — (LS) Answers Pt. 2

I pulled into a quiet neighborhood. The single story house had a quaint little atmosphere. It would have been a welcoming environment if there was anybody around. It was just past noon on a Sunday, and there was no soul in sight. Maybe having a serial killer live here was what chilled this place.

His house was the first one down the street. After turning the car off, I grabbed my phone, which still had the police at the ready.

“Hey! Wait!” A voice called as I walked up the driveway. I turned to see Will jogging from up the street. He was dressed casually in a t-shirt and jeans. He wasn’t wearing glasses, either. “That’s not actually my house.”

My face reddened and I quickly returned to the sidewalk. “You lied to me? Why would you give me a fake address?”

“Now, now,” he said, voice gentle as he held his hands up. “I had it all covered. I didn’t know if you would actually come or just send our dear boys in blue over. My place is close by.”

“Absolutely not,” I said, taking a step back. He halted, still about twenty feet away. I held my phone up so that he could see. “Give me one good reason not to call them over anyway. I have no reason to trust you.”

“Oh, come on. You wouldn’t do that. You’re already here. You do trust me.” His posture opened up a bit to seem less threatening, despite his argument.

“Humor me,” I said.

He sighed and stuck his hands into his pockets. “Fine. I’m going to be completely honest, here, I could kill you in this very moment and not only would your body never be found, but I’d get a free car out of it to boot. There would be nothing you could do about it. I’m not going to, but I could. If that scares you, you can get back in your car and drive off. I’ll delete your number from my phone, and our paths probably won’t cross again. But if you want answers, I can oblige.”

A breath caught in my throat. I could call the police with the push of a button, but if what he said was true it would be meaningless. Once again, I wondered what he really was. A vampire or werewolf could probably kill me pretty quick. Heck, maybe there were hundreds of things in the world that were even scarier. I was so lost I didn’t even know what I didn’t know. Of course, maybe he just had a gun. “What’s in it for you? Why not just kill me and take the car?”

He laughed at that. “Believe it or not I don’t just go around killing people for their stuff. That sort of thing gives you the wrong sort of attention. Plus, I have a reputation to uphold. I’d much rather have this chat indoors, though. We don’t know who could be listening.”

“Fine.” I grimaced at my phone one more time before putting it in my pocket. Or at least I tried. My skirt didn’t have pockets, and I was wearing sandals, not boots. Being so anxious about today left me grossly unprepared. I had nowhere to put anything. Not even the car keys I was still holding in the other hand. With a huff, I unlocked my car and grabbed my emergency purse from the backseat. It didn’t match my outfit at all, but when in need…

“Got everything?” he asked with congenial smile, no ridicule whatsoever on his face.

I closed the door and locked the car again. Making sure I was all set, I shrugged.

“Alright, it’s just a short walk down the street.”

He started walking. I followed behind, but not too closely.

“You look cute, by the way,” he commented.

“I know,” I muttered, closing the topic before it began. No way was I letting that happen.

I was half expecting him to guide me into a secret door hidden in a tree, or to a manhole cover that led to an underground world. Instead, we jaywalked across the street to an apartment complex. It was both relieving and disappointing. He unlocked the gate inside and led me up the stairs, but stopped once he got to the door.

“Before I let you in, I’ve got one rule.”

“What?”

“No leeches.”

“No what?” Did he really think I had a jar of blood sucking leeches in my purse or something?

“The thing you had with you at the library?”

I scratched my head. “You mean Doc? The little spirit?”

“You named it?”

“Sure,” I replied. “I’ve got half a dozen back home. I make them do chores for me. They followed me around so I figured I could put them to use. Why do you call them leeches?”

He visibly shuddered at that. “That’s just what they’re called. Remind me to never go to your house. Just know that they’re not allowed in my place, okay?”

“I mean, I can’t really tell them where to go. It’s not like I could stop them.”

“Sure, whatever. But they can’t be in my place, got it?”

Was he not even listening to what I was saying? “Alright, I got it.”

He nodded and unlocked his door. I was again disappointed when I got inside. It looked like a normal apartment, even if it was a bit messier than most. The smell of dirty clothes and something burnt wafted through the air. “Sit down wherever,” he said as he continued into the room. “You want anything? Coffee? Water? Soda? Beer?”

“I’m good, thanks.” I sat down on the couch, which sunk much lower than I had expected. A surge of adrenaline rushed through me as the sensation of falling ended as abruptly as it began. From across the apartment I heard a refrigerator door open and close. He returned with a can of beer and a bottle of water. After a polite decline, he put the water on the coffee table and sat down opposite me on the couch. I shifted around, tucking my skirt underneath me to face him.

“So,” he began, cracking open the beer. “Ask away, but you gotta be okay with the answers I don’t give, alright?”

“Fair enough,” I nodded. “What are ‘leeches’? Why do you hate them? They aren’t so bad.”

“Well, they’re technically called fragments. Classified as spirits. Simply put, they’re ghosts that aren’t really people anymore. They’ve forgotten everything about everything and cling to any semblance of humanity they can find.”

“So they’re ghosts. The souls of the dead.”

“Yeah, of sorts. Or at least they were. The older a ghost is, the more it loses. Fragments are kind of like the final stage a ghost goes through before they’re gone forever. They’re called leeches because they soak up anything they can around them. They like getting attention from others, which is probably why they follow you around. You don’t know any better.”

I frowned. “Are they dangerous?”

“Nah.” He took another sip from his beer. “Just annoying, mostly. Not really useful for anything.” I had to agree with that.

“Okay, let’s go broader. Give me a rough image of the supernatural world. What is and isn’t real. How you and I fit into it.”

“Hm. That’s a big one. The short answer is that everything is real, just maybe not in the way you think it is. Unicorns, dragons, faeries. All real. Bigfoot? Sort of. The evidence around him is usually solid, but not the conclusion, if that makes sense. How do we fit into the world? Uh, hard to say. We all have different places. You’d call us both spiritwalkers as a general term, but that only means ‘supernatural human’, really. There’s a million and one different kinds of us.”

“Wait. You’re human?”

“Uh, yeah?” He smirked. “What did you think I was?”

“I dunno. A werewolf, maybe?”

He choked on his drink and had to put it down to swallow properly. “I wish. No, I’m what you would call an ‘Inkmaker’. The humans are divided into factions called ‘guilds’ in the supernatural world. We all have different skills and jobs. I basically use alchemy to make magic ink that does cool things. Like the stuff I used to write on your arm.”

“So we’re all magical? What can I do?”

“No idea. I don’t know your lineage. Pretty much all spiritwalkers can see supernatural creatures, and some beings of the supernatural can be seen by normal people, like werewolves. Things that strong are super rare, though. I’ve only met one myself. But speaking of the ink, I’m curious. Did you find out anything neat about me?”

“I found out you’re a serial killer,” I said, glancing down uncomfortably.

His brow furrowed. “Not really. What was the question that led you to that conclusion? What words did you use specifically?”

“Uh…” Remembering a sentence I had said a few weeks ago verbatim was tough. “I think it was “How many people has Will killed?”

“Oh, that makes sense, then. When you say ‘people’, the ink probably registered that as both humans and spiritwalkers. I’ve killed plenty of those.”

“So it’s true?”

“Sure. I’m sure it’s no surprise that there are evil spiritwalkers out there. My hands aren’t clean.”

“How would you have killed me?” I asked.

He shrugged, a weak smile on his face. “I have a few vials of ink that could kill you if it gets in the right places. Sort of like grenades, really. If you know any sort of martial arts you probably would have been fine had I attacked you. Or if I had just missed.”

“So you lied to me again.”

“Well, I could kill you. In fact, I still can. It’d be much easier now, especially since the door’s locked. But as far as ‘threatening supernatural powers’ go, I’m pretty low on the list.”

“What ‘guild’ are you in? What do you do?”

He shook his head. “I can’t tell you that. You might be in a rival guild.”

“I’m not in a guild!” I frowned. “I’m just learning about all of this!”

“Well, most people inherit their guild. Assuming your parents are spiritwalkers, then you’re most certainly already in one. Pretty much every spiritwalker is.”

“Then why are you helping me?”

“I’m not,” he shrugged. “This is basic information. The only reason I knew you didn’t have it is because there was a leech following you at the library, and no self-respecting spiritwalker associates with leeches. You should stop letting them follow you in public, by the way.”

“How do I even do that? I told you I can’t do anything about them following me.”

“Don’t let them feed off your energy. It’s what they crave, and you’re just giving it to them.”

“What if I like having them around?”

“Your choice, I guess. But the less you tolerate their presence, the less they’ll be around.”

“Okay, let me ask you something else. Several weeks ago I found a suicide note written on my kitchen counter, in my own handwriting.”

He raised his eyebrows at that. “Spooky.”

“You don’t know how it got there?”

“Nope. There aren’t many supernatural things that can do that, but the list isn’t small, either. Course, you could have also just been drunk and written it yourself.”

“I wasn’t.”

He held his hands up. “Okay, okay, relax. It was a joke. What did it say?”

“It was basically written to my parents. It had some weird code on it, and mentioned some sort of ‘foe’. It implied my body was in my attic, but when I went up there there was nothing.”

His expression darkened at that. “Do you still have the note?”

“Uh, maybe. I’d have to look.”

“No, too dangerous.”

“What? Going back to my house?” A chill ran down my spine.

He nodded. “There’s definitely something there. Something powerful. And it’s been watching you.”

Story — (LS) Answers Pt. 1

March twenty-sixth. I woke up with a knot in my stomach. My parents were still away, a week late from their trip home, and I still hadn’t heard from them. I was anxious, but it didn’t surprise me. The ink Will had written on my arm a month ago had told me March twenty-sixth was the day things would start making sense. Maybe this was the day they would come home.

But something in my gut told me not to get my hopes up.

I remembered reading somewhere that prophecies had a way of coming true even when they were avoided. If I considered the date the ink gave me to be prophecy, then I would get answers today regardless of what I did. Maybe I would find a book in my parents’ room that told me everything I wanted to know. Maybe Doc would stop being so vague with his answers. Maybe I would go down the stairs only to find a werewolf there waiting to eat me. Life was so full of wonderful mysteries.

But if I sought out my own answers, I could probably fulfill the prophecy on my own terms.

Throwing off the covers, the chill of open air and stretching my muscles helped me wake up. “Fetch!” I called after a good yawn.

After about a minute, the little green spirit walked through the closed door and into my bedroom.

“Pour me a glass of orange juice downstairs. No rush.” He nodded and walked back through the door. “Oh, and Fetch!”

This time he popped his head through the door so that only his white, pupil-less eyes went through. That had stopped bothering me a long time ago. In fact, I found the little spirits cute nowadays. “Make sure to get me a clean glass this time. From the cupboard, not the sink.” I shuddered at the thought of yesterday morning when I drank some unholy mixture of old coffee and orange juice.

As he vanished from sight again, I reached for my phone. Pulling it off the charger where it sat on the nightstand, I unlocked it and opened my contacts. I had still never contacted Will since he gave me his number. The fact that he was a serial killer probably had something to do with it. Maybe he was hunting for his next victim when he came to talk to me. But there was that ink to consider, as well.

“What doing?” Doc said from behind.

Startled, I swiveled around and covered myself with a pillow. Some shield it would make if there were any real danger. He sat on the bed frame, staring at me.

“Doc,” I breathed, relaxing. “How many times do I have to tell you to use the door?”

“It’s closed,” he pointed out.

“I know. But that is the area in the room intended for entrances. It’s really unnerving when you sneak up on me through the wall like that.”

With my heart rate increased, I decided to take this time to actually get up and change. As I discarded the phone, Doc hopped off the frame and got comfortable in the now empty bed. He picked up the phone and examined it in his tiny hands, but there was no danger as he couldn’t unlock it.

“I’m going to talk to Will today,” I commented as I pulled a t-shirt on.

“Dangerous,” he crooned, shaking my phone. It was hard to tell what his plan was, but he turned the motion sensor activated the flashlight.

“Give me that!” I scolded, swiping it away from him and turning it off again. “I know it’s dangerous, but as long as I’m careful I’ll be fine.” I changed into more suitable pants and glanced into the mirror. After some minor tweaks and adjustments, I definitely passed the ‘Is that a human being?’ test. Well, I would after my hair was brushed, at least.

Looking at my phone contacts again, I stared at Will’s name. It was so weird to have a serial killer so readily available. I could text him any time I wanted. But as soon as I did, he would have my number, too.

A thought occurred to me. I set the phone down on my white, floral themed desk, and crouched to get under my bed. After removing several armfuls of dirty clothing I forgot I owned from underneath, I grabbed my old backpack from school. The binder inside was full of chemistry formulas and English notes, but it was bound to have a blank sheet somewhere. Okay, fine, it was mostly filled with doodles, but whatever. Besides, I was pretty proud of a few of them.

Tossing it onto the desk, I opened it up to the first blank page I found. Going to meet somebody with answers. His name is Will. Probably works at the library. Possibly a serial killer. If you’re reading this, I made a bad call. Sorry Mom & Dad!

Below that note, I wrote the date. Two suicide notes in barely a few months. My life was really derailing lately. At this one was a lot more ‘Me’, for whatever that was worth.

Still sitting at my desk, I looked at the unsure girl in the mirror one more time. She might be making the biggest mistake of her life today. She was never one for taking risks. I wondered what compelled me so adamantly to talk to him today.

An steady exhale and a string of ignored mental warnings later, it was sent. “Hey, Will. This is Lisa.”

I stared at the phone, watching as the text changed from ‘sent’ to ‘delivered’.

A thousand butterflies filled my stomach. Each one was an entirely different conversation. What if he had nothing to do with the ink? What if it was the wrong number? What if he could track the text back to my house?

But no. I doubted texts were traceable. And even if they were, Will probably wouldn’t have the resources to do it. Still, the anxiety of the immediate future was overwhelming in that moment. A glance back at the notebook on my messy desk sent a chill down my spine. I added ‘I love you‘ to the bottom of the page before leaving the room.

As I descended the stairs and walked into the dining room, my phone hummed with the default ringtone I still hadn’t gotten around to changing. My breath caught in my throat. It was from him.

“Hey! Took you long enough!”

Something innocuous.  I guess it would have been weird to expect ‘Hey! You’re too late to be murder victim number thirty-six, but if you hurry you can by thirty-seven!’. What was I thinking?

“I had to think over your offer” I sent back. The glass of orange juice sat nearby on the counter. It was a bit on the empty side, but it was definitely an acceptable color this time. Still, precautions were necessary when Fetch prepares your drink, especially without supervision. A careful sniff indicated that it probably wasn’t poisonous. It seemed he had gotten everything right for once. That was reassuring. The spirits didn’t learn very well.

My phone hummed again. “You asked some interesting questions, huh?”

How could I respond to that? I wondered what he knew, and what he thought I knew. What if the information I had gotten that day wasn’t even the worst of it?

“I want to meet up and talk” was my response. I was nervously chugging the juice, waiting for his reply.

“Sure, I’ll give you my address. See you in 30?” Maybe he didn’t think I knew as much as I did. I wasn’t about to meet a serial killer in his own home.

Having finished the glass, I stood up and walked over to the sink to wash it out. Before I got there, I slipped on a puddle right in front of the refrigerator and fell forward. The glass shattered ahead of me, scattering glass all across the kitchen. Thankfully, I was fine. Upon inspection, I realized that the puddle was orange juice. Apparently Fetch hadn’t performed as flawlessly as it seemed. I opened the fridge to see that he had dropped the carton inside. There was juice spilled everywhere.

“Sparkle!” I yelled.

A moment passed, and a purple spirit plopped onto the counter, passing through from the ceiling above. It stood up and looked at me. “Yes!” she chimed.

“Please clean this mess up. Don’t go in the fridge, and just push all the glass into a pile. Take all the time you need. Got all that?”

The little ghost nodded. I liked this new one. I hadn’t been training her very long, and I still didn’t like her name, since it sounded so childish. I was pretty sure the spirits didn’t even have genders, but whatever. Sparkle was a girl’s name.

Now I also had to change. Again. Luckily, I wasn’t wearing socks. I picked up my phone from the counter. I still didn’t like the idea of going to his house. “I was thinking coffee, actually” I replied.

“I can show you some cool things if we meet in private ;)”

Oh, brother. “Like the sharp end of a knife? I’m not meeting some guy I don’t know where my safety isn’t guaranteed.”

He didn’t respond immediately, so I took the time to look for a change of clothes. No clean pair of jeans left. I was forced to grab a skirt that matched my top. Could I teach Sparkle to do my laundry? Probably not. I would have to delegate that job to a different spirit. What would I name that one? I’d have to give that some thought another time.

Looking through the mirror after I was once again fully clothed, I realized I almost forgot to brush my hair. I was beginning to think I had scared Will away when my phone hummed again. “Your kind has nothing to fear from me. I promise. But if you want to meet, you’ll have to come to my house.”

Your kind. Was he not human? I wasn’t sure whether to be more or less scared because of that text.

Several minutes passed, and my scalp ached, but my hair was straight. I ran my fingers through it to make sure it was perfect. I went back downstairs to put some sandals on. “Your address?” I texted him.

He sent it. Two miles. Too far to reasonably walk. I’d have to take the car, even though I hated driving. “I’ll be over soon.”

“See you soon!”

I dialed 9-1-1 into my cell phone so I would be ready in case anything went wrong.

Learning! — Writing Different Narrating Styles

I’ve never liked when people told me I need to find a “narrative voice” in my writing. It seems weird when people say “Oh, you write like H.G. Wells! Or “Your prose is as dramatic as Poe!” because I can’t take that information and use it constructively. I’m not going to pretend that “writing like [X Famous Author]” isn’t valid–all writers certainly develop somewhat unique prose–just that this comparison can’t really help the writer in any way. I wouldn’t even know how to take such a phrase. Is it a compliment? What if I don’t like that author? I prefer more solid points on which to base my writing, because emulating people in anything isn’t really ever a good thing (unless it’s acting, of course).

All that being said, every genre is going to have a ‘feel’ to it, and that’s what an author should be aiming for, not a specific author. This means its important to recognize what this ‘feel’ really means, and why its important. Now, this subject is pretty open, because there’s so much to narrative prose, grammar, and form, that I wouldn’t even know where to start, so let’s just talk about the narration.

I’ll give a few examples in my own work, and for my purposes I’ll assume you know what the different perspectives are. “Change in the Winds” is written from a third person limited perspective. The narrator follows behind the protagonist so closely that it only ever sees what he sees, and even occasionally points out what he perceives, but it doesn’t employ any direct thoughts. Generally, when writing in my universe of Nacre Then I want the reader to feel like they’re glimpsing into a world where a lot is going on. I’ll pluck in details about the surroundings, but not how my character feels about them. This will inevitably make you feel somewhat distant from the protagonist. This is also fine, because I also wanted the reader to feel like he had a past, something that’s easier established if you only give hints as to what the character’s experiences are rather than having them tell you what they’re feeling.

In my Lisa Stenton stories, I write very differently. This is in first person, and with a more contemporary writing style. She has a sense of humor, but doesn’t let on that she knows more than she really does. This story works better in first person because she has no idea what’s going on, and it’s much easier to make the reader feel this confusion if the protagonist is the one narrating it. I also do far less description of the surroundings because this isn’t as important. You don’t care about the house she lives in, because it’s just a suburban, unimpressive house. Why would I bother describing it? It’s not why you’re reading the story. You’re reading it because of the mystery of what’s going on, as well as Lisa’s reactions to the mystery, so that’s what I focus on, using the majority of the narration to let Lisa voice her thoughts and actions, and using the dialogue to help her voice her confusion (as the case often is) to the other characters.

Every narration style is going to have pros and cons, but honestly the most important thing is to write whatever makes the writer most comfortable. If I was scared to write something in first person, it wouldn’t have stopped me from writing Lisa Stenton stories. It would change the way they read drastically, however, even if everything happened the same way. The reader wouldn’t feel as connected to Lisa, but if I wrote it in third person omniscient, perhaps I could sprinkle in some dramatic irony by explaining to the reader what’s happening while leaving Lisa in the dark. The story would still work, it just wouldn’t be the same story exactly.

To me, the way I pick a narrative style is pure intuition. I don’t plan it at all, but I can look back and explain why I made the decision to write that way. I can say the third novelette to The Aftermath of the Rupture will be in first person, because it will be far more centralized around the main character and that’s simply the way I’ve always envisioned writing a story for this character. Also, that title is starting to lose favor, because the focus of the novelettes is starting to shift as I write them. No alternative title just yet, but I am working on it.

Story — (LS) Numerophobia Pt. 2

Every time I tried to learn something about the spirits and all the mysterious things that had been happening, I stumbled across something entirely new. It was incredibly frustrating.

“Doc,” I whispered, still careful not to arouse suspicion in the library. “What’s going on?”

The little spirit cocked his head side to side. “Numbers changed,” he said again.

“I know,” I hissed, then, trying to relax, I took a deep breath. “Why?”

“Magic?” he shrugged.

I rolled my eyes. “It’s not enough for werewolves and vampires to exist. Now magic does, too. I can’t believe this. When will this start making sense?” I buried my face in my hands, rubbing my eyes.

“Numbers change!” Doc repeated, excited now.

I glanced to my wrist. The black number ‘0’ under ‘WILL’ was fading. When it vanished completely, a string of digits started appearing. They were spaced apart in such a way that resembled a date. If it was a date, it said ‘3 26 2017’. I could only presume this meant March twenty-sixth. Why was that important?

A realization dawned on me. Were these numbers changing in response to questions I asked? What had I just asked it? ‘When will it start making sense?’ It was a date. March was about a month away. It was a week after my parents were due home. Was it predicting the future? If that were the case, why wouldn’t it predict the day my parents got home? Was something bad going to happen?

“When was the Declaration of Independence signed?” I whispered into my wrist. I hoped fervently nobody had been watching me.

The numbers vanished. In it’s place, new numbers appeared. ‘8 2 1776’. August? That seemed odd, but the year was right.

“How much cash do I have in my wallet?” I said again. This time, I held my hand down, away from my mouth. It wasn’t as if the ink had ears, anyway, and since I didn’t understand how it worked, I thought I might as well test out out.

After a moment, the number ‘8.05’ appeared. I pulled out my wallet to verify. Three one dollar bills and a five. I pulled out the five to see if the number on my wrist changed. It didn’t.

“What’s the population of the Earth?” I wondered aloud. The old number faded.

When it had vanished entirely, my entire arm started darkening with the dozens of digits. It looked almost as though I had spontaneously grown a tattoo sleeve full of numbers. Anyone that was looking would have noticed immediately.

“How many quarters equal a dollar?!” I asked hastily, trying to get it to stop.

All the ink on my arm vanished once again, and I was left with a small ‘4’ under the word ‘WILL’. I relaxed.

“I guess I should have asked for human population,” I said to Doc, who was still seated on the shelf nearby. “Maybe we should go home to experiment with this a little more.”

“What about Will?” Doc chimed.

“He knows something, obviously. But I can’t confront him here. I need to talk to him in a safer environment. Find out if he’s friend or foe. He’s a vampire for all I know. Or maybe a witch or something. I guess that makes more sense.”

Doc inclined his head, standing up on the shelf. “Not a vampire,” he said after a moment.

“Yes, you’re very helpful,” I replied. “I’m putting my glasses back on. You’ll have to follow behind me or I’m leaving you here.”

I took my glasses out of my pocket again and put them on. I looked to my wrist to see if the ink had vanished, but it didn’t. “What’s Will’s telephone number?” I asked my hand.

The ‘4’ vanished. In it’s place, a string of ten digits materialized. I had what I needed. Time to go home.

I walked back out of the aisle and started pacing to the entrance of the library. It was still pretty vacant. Only a few people looking for books and even fewer people sitting down to read any.

As I passed the main desk in the front, I saw Will sitting at a computer. He looked up from his work and, adjusting his glasses, winked at me.

I quickened my pace, hurrying out the door. He probably wasn’t a witch, but, as they say, better safe than witch food. Or something like that.

The sun was setting by the time I got outside. I had been gone longer than I’d realized. Only then did it occur to me that if the ink was magical, it might also be temporary. Assuming it would be gone by the time I got home, I had to learn what I could from it now.

“How old is Will?” I thought in my head as I walked down the sidewalk. I crossed my arms, folding them across my chest so that nobody driving or walking by could easily see my wrist.  The number didn’t change. I asked the question out loud, and it morphed into ’23’. Definitely not a vampire, then. I wondered why it wasn’t more specific. Why give me a date and not the time of day? Why tell me in years how old somebody is, but not also give the months? It all seemed so arbitrary.

“How old is Doc?” I asked, scanning around to make sure nobody was nearby. Aside from the occasional car that flew down the main road, there was nobody. Looking back to my wrist, I was disappointed when nothing had changed. “I wish I had somebody to tell me how this stupid magic worked,” I mumbled. Maybe I wasn’t specific enough. “How old is Doc in human years?” Maybe they counted them differently, like dogs or something. Still, nothing changed. Was it because Doc was a nickname I had given him? Did I have to use his real name? What was his real name?

Maybe I could figure that out later. For now, a higher priority was knowing whether I could trust Will. The thought of having a real person to talk to about the supernatural and everything that had been going on was enticing, and I wasn’t about to shun the possibility just because he might want to eat me.

At the same time, though, I couldn’t ask ‘Can I trust Will?’ because it seemed to only operate in numbers. “How many times has Will been arrested?” I instead asked.

A small ‘1’ appeared where the ’23’ had been. “How much jail time has Will spent in months?”

The number didn’t change. Another bad question?

Either way that didn’t give me anything concrete, so I thought about taking a different approach. “How many times has Will killed a human being?” I stated, voice low.

The number ‘1’ faded. In it’s place, the number ’35’ appeared.

Me — Being a Creator

(This week’s audio recording: “Warstorm“, is one of my earliest Nacre Then successes. Despite it being nearly two years old, it’s evolved very little!)

 

One of the most difficult things about forcing myself to write a minimum of a thousand words a week is that sometimes I just have nothing to write. I realize that many established authors write over two thousand a day (most notably in my line of experience is Brandon Sanderson, who does more than that even) but I can’t hold myself to the level of incredibly wealthy and famous people. Sanderson himself explained that five hundred to a thousand per day five days a week is still a novel a year, and though most of my words are spent on this blog and not fiction, it’s still an accomplishment.

Right now specifically, I’m running into a multifaceted problem. Obviously, a writer should write something they enjoy. If you’re not excited to write it, you probably shouldn’t be. My head is currently filled with half-fleshed ideas that are either not ready to be written or are too large-scale for me to tackle, and the small stuff I can write quickly as a weekend story doesn’t really interest me. Here are the things that have my attention right now.

My primary focus is the third novelette in The Aftermath of the Rupture. I’ve got one major contradiction in it that I’ve yet to figure out, and until I know exactly how things will work I can’t even get started. On top of that, a moderate to severe change in the current canon of the society of Torreth is having me slow down a bit, even if those changes won’t see prevalence until the fourth novelette at the earliest.

My second larger project, and the most likely candidate for receiving the next longer story of ten thousand words, is another Spark story. My brothers and I have been giving it a considerable amount of attention these past few weeks, and there’s a story I can’t wait to get rolling. Since we don’t want to solidify anything in the actual plot of the game just yet, this will be another prequel, but it will have a considerable amount of worldbuilding in it. I hope to get it started some time during February.

Lastly, Lisa Stenton is always in the back of my mind. I really like the character and the mysteries she’s finding for herself, but I’m hesitant to jump into anything too quickly. For example, I want her parents to come home soon, but I don’t want to give the reader all the answers to everything immediately, and I’m unsure how to do that just yet. I like opening this box (world) slowly. One big question at a time. So, while I figure out how to introduce her parents, Lisa will be getting more and more lost as to what’s actually going on. (As a side note, when I wrote “Spiritwalkers” and “Suicide Note”, a lot of the big questions didn’t have answers at the time of writing them, but writing this next story, I am now equipped with pretty much all the answers. Even the ones to the questions I’m raising in it, and I’m actually pretty happy with where I’m taking it).

All that said, even when I can put myself into “writing mode”, its never easy. In all honesty I nearly gave up writing a full story yesterday, (and, if we’re going on technicalities, I still only wrote the first half), but a big part of being a writer is to do it even when it sucks, which is far too often. The whole point of the blog is to force me to write. If I give up, it means I’ve failed myself, and I can’t let that happen.

So rest assured that, even if I don’t publish as much fiction as I’d often like to, I do consider it the most important part of my blog, and I do have plans!

 

Story — (LS) Numerophobia Pt. 1

A week had gone by since the scare with that mysterious suicide note. I still hadn’t figured out what that was all about, but it wasn’t from lack of trying. In fact, that entire week was spent on my laptop. Okay, maybe it would have been spent on my laptop anyway, but still. Dozens of videos, news articles, and blogs later and I had found nothing similar to what I had seen lately. I decided to take my search to the local library.

It’s hard to research paranormal stuff. Really hard. A lof of the ‘concrete evidence’ you find on ghosts or werewolves is collected by crazy people. All the videos you find are horribly shaky or have terrible resolution. It’s like when somebody sees something they can’t believe they put their smartphones away and start recording it with their thirty year old camera.

So it was that I was hopelessly perusing the library of anything useful I could find. At least books couldn’t contain unsettling yet obviously fake videos of ‘Bigfoot Seen in Backyard?!’

I pulled another book from the shelf to see Doc’s white, pupil-less eyes staring back at me, startling me into flinching and dropping the book.

“Doc,” I exhaled, kneeling to pick the book back up. “I swear, if there’s a way I can strangle ghosts you’ll be the first to feel my wrath.”

“You’re… kidding,” the little spirit replied, pondering as he tilted his head.

I rolled my eyes. “You’ve got a knack for interpretation, I’ll give you that.”

After that I paid him no more heed. He wasn’t even supposed to be here with me, since I specifically asked him to stay home, but it wasn’t as though I could stop him. I had also gotten into the habit of taking my glasses off indoors, which resulted in mishaps like this.

The book I had grabbed was titled Paranormal Sightings of the Twentieth Century. I immediately went to the end, looking for an index, but there wasn’t any. Instead, I skimmed the glossary and ended up closing the book again, just as somebody walked into the aisle with me. It was a guy about my age, black hair, wearing glasses, and dressed in a button-up shirt.

“I’m sorry, ma’am, but I’m going to have to ask you to keep your voice down,” he said.

I had thought I was whispering to Doc. Apparently not. I glanced to the spirit that still sat on the shelf. “Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t know,” I stammered. I pushed the book onto the shelf, passing it through Doc. My arm shuddered a bit at the chill, but I masked it by taking my glasses out of my pocket and putting them on. I took a second glance at where Doc should be if I could still see him. I couldn’t, which was assuring. It was easier to be normal if invisible ghosts weren’t talking to you.

“Who were you talking to?” the guy said, looking behind me and furrowing his brow.

“Oh,” I chuckled nervously. “Nobody. Just thinking… I have an exam coming up,” I lied.

His face lightened up a little. “Yeah, I know what you mean. Do you go to Southview, too?” he asked, referring to the local university.

I nodded. “Anthropology major,” I lied again. I wasn’t used to talking to strangers, and I had a habit of lying in small talk. Luckily, practice makes perfect.

“That’s pretty cool. I’m going into Accounting. My name’s Will, by the way.” He held his hand out. I took it. He had a firm, grip. His hand was warm, though that may have just been that mine had passed through a freezing ghost a few moments before.

“Lisa,” I smiled as we shook.

“What’s your exam on?” he asked.

I glanced back at the book I was looking at. What would justify studying a book about paranormal stuff? “Cultures around the world and their views on supernatural belief,” I stated, trying to sound bored with the idea.

“You know, I know quite a bit about anthropology myself. I could help you study if you want. After my shift is over, that is.”

“Oh, I don’t know if I’ll be here much longer,” I dodged. I was about to say I had been here for a while already, but he would probably know that was a lie. This place wasn’t very populated.

“That’s okay,” he replied. “How about I give you my phone number and you can decide whether or not you want my help?”

I shrugged. “I don’t have my phone on me.”

“You mind if I write on your hand?” He pulled out a pen from a pocket of his pants.

I did. It was weird to have a stranger write on me. But at the same time, I got the vibe he would leave if I let him, and I didn’t want to be rude. “Sure,” I said. I rolled up my sleeve and held out my wrist.

He took a few steps forward, clicking his pen and writing ‘WILL’ and a string of numbers under it. When he was finished, he clicked his pen again and put it back in his pocket. “I gotta go,” he sighed. “Remember that,” he pointed towards my wrist. “That will come in handy.” He took his glasses off and winked before walking back down the aisle, leaving the way he had come.

I returned to what I was doing, and after about a minute I took my glasses back off. Doc shimmered into view, and now he was nonchalantly walking along the top of the bookshelves. “That was weird,” I said, remembering to be extra quiet. “I wonder how many times he’s tried that one on girls.”

Doc stopped to look at me. He tilted his head back and forth, as if trying to discover something. “He’s different,” he hummed.

“Hardly,” I scoffed. “If I had a dime for every time a guy tried to hit on me, I’d be rich.”

“Numbers change,” Doc murmured.

“What? Of course they change. Every guy is going to have a different number.”

“No…” Doc shook his head. He pointed a tiny arm towards me. Specifically, to my arm.

I glanced down at my wrist. The ink on my hand read ‘WILL’, but under it wasn’t the line of ten digits I was sure Will had written there. Now, there was just the one digit: zero.

Can’t I solve one mystery before another is thrown in my face?