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Monthly Archives: July 2014

story fragments

my current favorite inspiration pic for VIM, since it fits one bit of the book perfectly – looks exactly like how I imagined it.

So, I’ve been feeling pretty depressed and ‘out of it’ in regards to Vengeance Is Mine but I thought that maybe doing another story snippets post would get me fired up again, especially since I’ll be going back over all the best parts.  The story has changed a lot, and it’ll definitely keep on changing, so at least some of these snippets will most likely get deleted later on – consider it an exclusive sneak peek, ‘kay?  I considered sharing some snippets of the fan-fiction I seem to have no problem in churning out these days, but I decided that I needed to get back to more serious projects, and sharing bits of it wasn’t the best way (forgive me if I seem to be rambling; I’m pretty tired right now) to do that.  So please enjoy the snippets I did decide to share, and please let me know your thoughts.  The comment box is always open!

Nathan was exhausted.

Stay with it, he told himself fiercely.  Sure, it’s only your first day, but you’ve got to do better than this.  He wiped the sweat off his forehead with the back of his hand and let it drip to the dusty floor of the training room.  As far as he knew, the training room was the only place in the facility that was mostly outdoors.  There was a thin sheet of metal overtop, but the floor was natural sand with patches of grass here and there.

The trainer called Hunter stood in front of him.

“You okay?”

Nathan gulped in some air, and then nodded.  “Yeah.  I’m fine.  I’m ready.”

Hunter studied him for a moment, doubt visible in his eyes and stance.  Nathan felt like protesting some more, but if he allowed himself the truth, he wasn’t fine.  Sweat was still pouring off him, his legs felt like rubber, and his throat was dry as Director Stella’s congratulations on a job well done.

“Um…is there any water in here?” he asked, immediately hating himself for the question.  Weakness was not a virtue, and he’d just revealed some of his.

Hunter walked over to one of the storage cupboards that ringed the training, fumbled with the lock for a minute with the key he had, and then swung the door open.  Nathan saw several bottles of water inside and despite his burning wish to not appear weak, it was all he could do to not run over and grab one.  Anyway, Hunter was coming back with a bottle.

“Small sips,” Hunter instructed, tossing Nathan the bottle.  Then, before Nathan could ask anything, he said, “If you take too much at once, it’ll waterlog you, and then I won’t be able to teach you anything else for the rest of the day.  Plus, you’ll get a stomach ache.”  He nodded at the water.

Nathan nodded to show he understood – he couldn’t manage any words at the moment – and unscrewed the cap.  It was easier than he’d thought it would be to take small gulps and not overwhelm himself.  Partly because he thought it would be plain embarrassing to be carried out of the training room with a stomach ache on his first day, and partly because he wasn’t even dehydrated.  Just worn out.

“Had enough?” Hunter asked after a few minutes.

Nathan took another swig and then nodded.

“Good.  We’ll go back to the push-ups.”

:::::

The door swung open with a sticky squeak, plenty of dust billowing around him, and a shaft of light so bright Nathan thought he’d go blind.  “Agh!” he shouted, scrambling to his feet.  The light as directed to his feet, leaving a glow large enough for him to see the intruders, but not blinding him in the process.  Laii and Hunter stood there, concern on their faces.

“Hey,” Hunter said.

“Nathan, what on earth are you doing in there?”

“Well…”

Hunter must have filled in Laii on everything that had happened, she somehow knew of his favorite hide-out, and had led him to it.  Nathan stared at both of them, feeling a vague sense of betrayal.  If his trainer and caretaker-turned-advisor knew where he went to be alone, where could he go?  The answer was, very simply, nowhere.

“Just because Dylan is joining the team doesn’t mean the end of the world,” Laii said.

If only she understood.

“You know that’s not true,” Nathan said.  “You’ve seen the way we fight.  We’ll be at each other all the time and we’ll both fail.”  He threw up his hands, and said, “No offence to you, Hunter.  If anyone could keep a recruit from failing, it’s you, but you should probably get yourself a couple of new ones.”  He bit the inside of his cheek and waited for one of them to speak.

Hunter shook his head.  “Director Stella specifically ordered me to train you two.”

“Is it that bad?” Laii asked at nearly the same time.

“I was kidding about the switch,” Nathan said, glowering.  “I know she wouldn’t let you.”  And then, to Laii, “Yeah, it’s bad.  I mean, we can’t be in the same room together without brawling in thirty seconds or less.”  He plopped down onto a large paint can and put his head in his hands.  Maybe he looked pitiful, sitting like that, but he didn’t care.

Maybe he was pitiful.

“How did it even start?” Laii asked after a moment.

He looked up.  “What?”

“The fight.”

He shrugged.  “I don’t know.  We’ve been fighting since we were little.  He used to tell me-”  He paused.  Dylan’s usual insults were old news to Laii, but Hunter didn’t know about them.  He didn’t want to say it, in case Hunter agreed and realized he’d known there was something different about Nathan all along.  Not that there was, but most of the recruits followed Dylan’s lead.  Still, it was better to get it out.  “He says I don’t belong here.  That I’m not one of them.”

:::::

Nathan shivered.  The air was bitingly cold.  “So, we’re going to stand around here for hours watching for some nonexistent threat?” he asked, irritation slipping into his tone.  In the facility, the temperature was always regulated, and he wasn’t used to the jittery, frozen feeling that stole over him.  It made him feel weak and helpless.  Hunter had made sure they all dressed warmly, but it wasn’t enough.

“Is there a problem?” Hunter asked.  “It’s what guards do.  And there are threats, believe me.  If there weren’t, we’d have no need for guards.”  Nathan was about to ask him what kind of threats there were, when Hunter said, “From what I heard, there’ve been some sightings of unidentified men hanging around here.  Director Stella wants to find out who they are, and what they want.”

Nathan nodded, but he still didn’t like it.  Who cared about some random guys?

“Aren’t these jackets a little thin for this kind of thing?” Dylan said a few minutes later.

“The cold?”

Dylan nodded.

“Don’t you-?”  Hunter reached over and pressed a button at the bottom of Dylan’s jacket.  Then he did the same to Nathan.  Instantly, Nathan could feel warm air swirling around inside the jacket.  It rose up around his neck and then was sucked back down again for another cycle.  The sudden warmth gave him goose-bumps, but he wasn’t cold anymore.  “You can get cool air, too,” Hunter added.

Nathan shook his head.  “Where’d you get these?  They’re amazing.”

Hunter stuck his hands into his jacket’s pockets.  “I commandeered them from the trainer’s supply.  Most of the other trainers were getting them for their own recruits, so I did the same thing.  Don’t you recognize them?” he added.

“It’s dark,” Nathan said.

“Oh, I can fix that.”  Hunter unzipped part of his jacket and then seemingly pulled the whole thing off over his head.  But the jacket was still on, only it was a weird, glowing fluorescent colour.  It wasn’t particularly strong, but Nathan was able to see his face at least.  Hunter showed both him and Dylan ho to transform their jacket the same way.  Now they could actually see each other, and, best of all, the warm air still worked.

“You were just waiting till we complained so that you could show us all that,” Nathan said.

Hunter grinned and shrugged.  “Maybe.   But we need to be quiet now.  So, no talking.  And turn the lights off – everyone can see us for a mile away.”

:::::

Again, Lily felt the old, familiar sense of injustice rising up in her.

She cleaned houses – mansions, really – every single day.  Those houses were always clean and bright and airy (partly due to her, but if she refused to work, there were hundreds of others who would).  At times she wished that she could refuse to work, to show all the rich ones that she wasn’t going to grovel to them for money.  But she needed the money and, truth be told, to be in the beautiful mansions relaxed her.  It was a not so welcome reprieve from the squalor that met her whenever she returned home.

She was almost to her own door.

Pausing for a moment, Lily took a deep breath and forced a smile onto her face.  Her mother was ill, nervous, and easily worried.  Even if it was difficult at times, she always made sure to have a cheerful face and attitude when she was around her mother.  It was much easier than having to field concerned questions.  It was all Lily could do not to appear worried in her mother’s presence, though.  She was sick and getting sicker all the time.

Be cheerful.  Happy.  Glad to be back home.

At least she wouldn’t have to fake the last part.

Lily pushed open the door.  “Mom?  I’m home,” she called, throwing down the heap of laundry to one side of the door.  Her eyes took in the main room.  Her mother wasn’t there, which meant she was in the tiny bedroom they shared.  She’d spent most of her time there for the past several weeks.  The bed, no matter how scrawny, was more comfortable than a couple of scarred, hard chairs or a stool in the kitchen area.

It took about five steps to get to the bedroom.  Lily hesitated a moment before flicking on the light – since her mother was almost certainly sleeping – but then did so.  She was sleeping, but Lily didn’t turn the light back off.  Moving quietly, she entered the room and spent a couple minutes tidying up.  Even if they were poor, their apartment would be clean.  A clean apartment would also let her mother know that she’d been here, before going back to wash the laundry and clean houses.

Lily glanced at her mother for a moment.

She was still young, but her hair was almost all grey, except for a few streaks of black here and there.  Her eyes were closed, of course, but when opened, they were a faded blue.  Lily had often thought that she must have gotten her looks from her father – whom she’d never seen, as far as she could recall – since her green eyes and blonde hair were nothing like her mother’s features.

Was it just her imagination, or was her mother…not breathing?

Lily leaned closer, her movements controlled when all she felt like doing was grabbing her mother by the shoulders and shaking her to reassure herself that she was still alive.  With trembling hands, she tried to check the pulse, but her hands were shaking so badly, she couldn’t have felt anything.  She laid a hand on her mother’s chest.  There was nothing.  No movement and no warmth.

With a racing heart, Lily slumped onto the other bed.

She stared at her mother.

This is ridiculous, she thought.  You left her for twenty minutes.  She can’t be-she’s just sick-

Inside, she knew the truth of it, but the main part of her heart and mind wouldn’t accept the terrible fact.  She sat there, on her bed, staring into space for hours.  The laundry went unheeded.  She didn’t leave to go clean some rich person’s house.  Any knocks on the door were ignored. 

Maybe if she shut the world out and turned to stone, it would all turn out to be a bad dream.

:::::

The director lowered her hand, finished with her conversation for the moment.

There were more pressing concerns – the assault on the main gate being one of them.

She’d been warned about the rebels for months now, but since they’d never caused any problems (besides that one unfortunate event with the trainer and his student) she’d allowed security to slide a little.  Allowed a sense of well-being and safety, no matter how false, to creep in.  Now the rebels were talking advantage of that false security and launching a full-scale attack.

Well, maybe not as bad as that.

From what she could gather, there were less than a hundred of them.

Odd that they would attack with such weak numbers.

Stella frowned and switched on her tiny communicator once again.

“Sir?  I think they might be planning a-”

What happened next brought the conversation to an abrupt halt.

What did you think of these snippets?

Eva

 
4 Comments

Posted by on July 29, 2014 in snippets, vengeance is mine, writing

 

character types: the villain

Every villain is a hero in their own mind-Tom Hiddleston

{Remember that time when I said I was going to write posts about different character types?  Well, here I am.  This isn’t going to be some super-long post talking about fifteen different types of villains, their motivations, quirks, and various methods of evilness.  I’ll be illustrating a few different types of villains, using some of my favorites, and this post will be more quality than quantity…I hope}

Villains are awesome.

I’m sure I wouldn’t like to meet one in real life, but on the page and silver screen, they are deliciously fun to watch (except for the bumbling idiots used for ‘comedy’).  There are dozens of different types of villains, mainly because there are so many different people, events, and objects that can motive a man or woman (okay, I just realized that the list of villains I scribbled down to use in this post doesn’t include any female villains…probably because they’re rarer, and I find male villains more interesting) to turn to the dark side (literally, in the case of Darth Vader).  I find that most villains are complex characters (unlike the middle grade book bully that seems to live only to make life miserable for the hero or heroine) and that’s one of the reasons I enjoy reading about and watching them so much.

Going with that, there’s a thought that I often repeat whenever I’m thinking of or discussing different villains.

TO BE BELIEVABLE, A VILLAIN MUST HAVE SOME SHRED OF HUMANITY REMAINING INSIDE HIM OR HER.

As with every rule, there are exceptions, but I find that most villains have something they care about, even if it never comes out much in the book/movie/TV show.  If a villain has something he cares about, he becomes more human and, thus, more relateable and sympathetic.  I love it when a character sparks an emotion inside me, whether it’s anger, sadness, or happiness, and villains fill almost every slot.  Many of them have the potential to be good, which makes them fascinating.  Some notable sympathetic villains include Loki, Guy of Gisbourne (from BBC’s Robin Hood), Hans (from Frozen), or even Mother Gothel (see, I did get a woman villain in this post after all).  Now, I’m sure we’ve all heard the saying that goes something like this…”The bad guy is the villain unless he’s {ahem} hot, in which case he’s just misunderstood”.  I sincerely hope that I don’t fall into this little trap.  Even if I like villains, I still fully understand their villainous deeds and please rest assured that I don’t condone them in any way.  Sure, the thing about Loki killing eighty people in two days was passed off as a joking moment, but the fact that he killed eighty people in two days remains.

You’re aware that “Not a corner of London’s safe when Ratigan’s at large.”

As I said above, there are exceptions to the humanity rule (well, it’s not a rule, but it’s my personal mantra that I go by when I create villains).  Three that come to mind immeadietely are Ratigan (pictured above), President Snow, and Mr Hyde.  Hyde doesn’t reeeally count because he’s one, purely evil half of a split personality and therefore it would be impossible for him to be even the teensiest bit good.  President Snow is pure evil, though, and of his own choice (well, in the film version of Catching Fire, there are a couple of slightly sweet moments between him and his granddaughter, but I’m just going to ignore those).  And yet, he’s still a three-dimensional villain.  He’s crafty.  He’s a viable threat.  And he’s larger than life, while still remaining real.  You can see how he became the way he is.  Just another young man hungry for power, and since he had the resources (and poison) to realize his ambitions…guess what happened?  Yeah.  He succeeded.  But Ratigan.  Oh my goodness, he’s pretty much favorite Disney villain, and one of my favorite villains out of any category.  He’s so smart and slick and hilarious without being over the top.  And both his villain songs are the. awesomeness.  He’s one of the most perfect villains I’ve ever seen, and I can’t think of one instance where he demonstrates the slightest speck of humanity.

puss in boots movie

What about when villains redeem themselves?

DON’T GET ME STARTED.

It’s always heartbreaking.  Like Guy of Gisbourne.  Or Humpty Dumpty from Puss In Boots.  It almost always ends with the villain’s death.  I mean, Guy turned himself around before he died, but his death clenched the fact that he’d really changed.  And Humpty…wow.  He goes back and forth from being good to bad to good to bad so many times it gets confusing.  But, in the end, he redeems himself by, well, dying.  I know there’s other villains who do a similar or the same thing, but my mind has gone blank once again.  Leave a comment if you can think of any other villains who redeem themselves.

Javert is a difficult character. People want to believe he's the bad guy but he's not. He believes he's doing right, he's doing his job. He was unappreciated as a child so as an adult he strives to excel and even obsesses over it. He killed himself because he felt he failed. He's not a bad guy, he's just human.

Please don’t confuse antagonists with villains, though.

vil·lain // noun // a cruelly malicious person who is involved in or devoted to wickedness or crime; scoundrel

an·tag·o·nist // noun // a person who is opposed to, struggles against, or competes with another; opponent; adversary

Loki is a villain.  Bucky Barnes is not.

Hitler is a villain.  Hans Dietrich is not. (please comment if you understood that reference!)

Thenardier is a villain.  Javert is not.

President Snow is a villain.  Cato is not.

Hans is a villain.  Elsa is not.

In my opinion, the difference is quite clear.

What about you?

Eva

 
8 Comments

Posted by on July 14, 2014 in character posts, random

 

a bit of ‘hunger games’ fan-fiction

my current favorite Everlark picture.

I recently read the Hunger Games trilogy and fell in love with both the story and the characters.  I reviewed the series over at my main blog, watched the first two movies, clicked through hundreds of pins on Pinterest, and even wrote a little fan-fiction: a poem, and a one-shot (a one-shot in fan-fiction means a scene or one chapter story).  The poem is from Katniss’ POV and the one-shot is from Peeta’s.  First, an explanation about the poem.  I normally dislike poetry.  Oh, I’ll read the occasional poem, but a steady diet of them would drive me crazy (for instance, I couldn’t sit down with a book of poetry and read it cover to cover).  As much as I dislike reading poetry, I hate writing it even more.  Whenever I conciously try to write a poem, it sounds forced and silly and I can never get the right rhyme and rhythm.  But, every so often, I’ll get a quick burst of inspiration and when I act on that, my poems (or, I should say poem, since I only ever get just one out of one of those bursts) are pretty good, if I say so myself.  Take a look?

When I saw/heard this in the movie, I shouted, "Together?! What?! No!!!!!! You guys can't die! How would they make a sequel?! No death!!! I love you guys!!! We've been through so much!"

A hole in my heart,
My heart on my sleeve.
I must play the part,
Or else I won’t leave.

My role has been born,
By fire within.
My spirit’s not broken,
I won’t let them win.

These berries I take,
One final, last plea.
For a much better world,
Than is closing on me.

I hold them up high,
A symbol of pride.
I don’t want to forget,
That so many have died.

We stand there together,
The boy and me there.
The berries are lifted,
An intake of air.

Then out from the horn,
A weak-kneed voice calls.
“Stop, stop, don’t eat them!”
The deadly harvest falls.

The boy looks at me,
I look at the boy.
We throw down the weapons,
And hug tightly for joy.

All else is a blur,
I can’t look away.
But revolution sparks,
On that cold, cloudy day.

And, then, the one-shot.  A lot of people have asked for the entire trilogy rewritten from Peeta’s POV, and while I was considering working on that project, I’ve since abandoned the idea.  It would be too hard and too involved, and I have my other writing to think about.  Fan-fiction is loads of fun, but it shouldn’t take precedence over your original work, in my opinion.  So, I wrote this little scene, and even though I won’t be doing all three books, I think I’ll write other scenes from Peeta’s POV and maybe some of the other characters as well.  Fan-fiction is a great way to practice writing, and working with different characters will help me with my own characters’ characterization.  At least I hope it will.  So here’s the quick fic I wrote…enjoy!

peeta

The rain bangs against the windows with a ferocity that I’ve only seen matched by the Peacekeepers that prowl the streets of District 12. I stare into the silvery streaks lashing against the glass, letting the sameness of it all take my mind away from the stale bread, blistering hot ovens, and an angry mother.
It doesn’t last long.
“Peeta!” she shouts angrily, and I break away from the window. “That bread’s going to burn if you don’t watch it!” In a moment, Mom’s beside me, her hand hovering in front of my face. I try to step back, but am stopped by the windowsill behind me. “Get to it,” she hisses. I do.
All in all, I don’t mind watching the bread. I like staring at it through the oven’s glass door, watching it turn from pale, thin dough to golden, crusty loaves. The heat gets to you after a while, but being the baker’s son for twelve years kind of gets you used to it.
This bread isn’t for me and my family. It’s for the hungry customers who stand in lines at the back every day, and for the high class citizens of District 12 like the mayor. Or the mayor’s servants, in this case. My family and I are a whole lot better off than most of the other people in 12 – the coal miners, for instance – since we have a steady supply of bread, but all of the stuff we eat is stale, which gets old after a while.
“What on earth-?” Mom says.
I turn and look, trying to see what she’s seeing. Her eyes squint and narrow as she stares into the rainy darkness. At first I can see nothing, but then the rain slackens a little and I make out the figure of someone out there. Opening the garbage cans that stand a few feet away from the back door.
As soon as I see it, Mom sees it to. Regardless of the rain, she throws open the back door and goes down a few steps. Because of the rain, I can only catch a few words. Something about calling the Peacekeepers and how she was sick and tired of all those brats from the Seam – the coal mines – coming around to look through our trash.
Honestly, I don’t get why she’s so upset. Sure, all those kids come around often, but does it really hurt if they get our leftover scraps, the bits of food that even we don’t want? I shake my head and stare at the bread. It doesn’t seem to be in any danger of burning, so I go over to the window to get a closer look at the intruder.
Katniss Everdeen.
Ever since I was five or six, I’ve always really liked her. I guess you could say I have a crush on her. She’s not particularly pretty, but the way she sings and the sparks in her eyes whenever some bigger kid insults her sister, Prim, have always fascinated me.
And now she’s out there, foraging for garbage. I had no idea things were so bad for the Everdeen family. Mr Everdeen died a few months ago, but Katniss didn’t seem too upset. A little thinner, maybe, but pretty much everyone’s thin in 12. Still, she wouldn’t have gone through our garbage cans if she hadn’t really been desperate. Mom’s temper is, I regret to say, infamous in town.
She’s still out there, shouting profanity, and I hurry back to the oven.
Ten loaves, glowing golden.
One girl out there, probably starving.
And not just any girl. Katniss Everdeen. The girl who sang the Meadow Song so beautifully that all the mockingjays outside the school room fell silent until she’d finished. It’s a rare honour they hardly ever offer anyone.
Without a second thought, I open the oven door and, using a cloth, bat two of the loaves to the oven’s floor. In a few moments, they’ll start to brown, and then burn black. I know from watching accidents happen in the baking room all the time. I turn away from the oven just as Mom storms back in.
She shakes her head back and forth, muttering under her breath.
The acrid smell of burning bread assaults both our noses.
With a cry of frustration, she stomps over to the oven and yanks the door open. Grabbing a cloth from the counter – the same cloth I’d used – she shoves around until both loaves of bread are out on the counter. The outsides are mostly black, but I know the insides will still be fresh and warm.
“Stupid, stupid boy!” she shouts and slaps me full across the face. Then, before I can react, she gives me another slap. My sight goes black and starry for a moment, and pain radiates from my left cheek. She throws a wooden spoon at me that catches me in the same spot and clatters to the ground.
I grit my teeth.
She shoves the still steaming loaves into my arms and tears the door open. With a shove, I’m standing outside in the pouring rain. “Feed it to the pig, you stupid creature!” she screams. “Why not? No one decent will buy burned bread!”
That was what I’d been counting on.
I break tiny chunks of bread off and toss them to the pig – a creature who’s already far too fat as it is – hoping every moment that Mom will leave and I can carry out my plan. Seconds tick by, and the opportunity is fading away when I faintly hear the front bell ring, meaning there’s a customer.
With another curse and a slap on the neck, Mom leaves.
I watch her leave, making sure the door closes firmly behind her, and then stare back at the pig. A moment later, I toss one loaf of bread in Katniss Everdeen’s direction, the other one. She’s huddled up against an old apple tree several yards away, and seeing her drenched and shivering and hungry makes my heart hurt for a moment.
Turning, I slosh back into the bakery.
From the window, I can see her run out from under the tree and snatch up both loaves, hiding them under her jacket. Despite the pain now coming insistently and desperately from my cheek, I smile.
Tonight, at least, there’ll be one family in 12 that won’t go hungry.
A miracle, really.

What did you think of these two pieces of fan-fiction?  Is there any way I could improve them?  Are there any other scenes you’d like to see rewritten from Peeta’s (or another character’s) point of view?  I’m open to suggestions and I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Eva

 
2 Comments

Posted by on July 5, 2014 in fan-fiction, random, snippets, writing