V is for Valen

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Dear readers,

I’m sorry for any unforgivable mistakes in grammar that may be in this blog post. I’m a little behind (if you can’t tell), and I don’t have a lot of time to proofread.

Sincerely,

A senior who just has to make it through finals week

It’s April, and that means it’s time for the A to Z challenge. I really must be a glutton for punishment; April is my last month of college, and I’m still an amateur blogger, but I must say, I’m looking forward to the challenge. I’m going to be writing short little blurbs about some retired characters from my DISTANT past up until recently; all of them are failed concepts. Part of me is hoping that writing about these characters will inspire me…perhaps to write more during the summer when school is out.

Valen was one of my first characters that I created when my writing started to evolve, and as my writing matured, he got worse. It has happened to me a lot in the past it seems. I start out with a fairly decent idea (even if it isn’t super refined), and it just gets worse as I try to fix it. It’s like when you mess up your eyeliner, and you think to yourself, “If I smudge it just a little bit, I’m sure I can salvage it without having to start over.” Thirty minutes later, not only are you starting over, but you’re still cleaning black smudges off of your forehead and neck. (Who knows how it got there?) Valen is basically screwed up eyeliner, so I’m going to give you a glimpse at the before and after.

Originally, Valen was a ghost. The legend goes that he was his village’s sole protector, and he deserted it in its time of need. But he got scared; we all do. He still ended up dead but with a nice little curse to keep him rooted to his dilapidated village. Fun stuff. He haunts his village, killing off any trespasser no matter what his/her intentions may be. He’s waiting for someone ot put his wrathful spirit to rest.

But then I decided to keep him alive. I gave him a wife and daughter. His wife died in an attack on his village. His daughter didn’t, but he never knew that. He assumed that his family died because he was off projecting others. He lost everything, and it made him bitter. He just kind of became a huge antihero. He eventually finds his daughter, and things get a little better, but he struggles with the idea of being a single father.

I’m not sure if I want to keep him alive or dead. That’s a lot of power to play with. But I kind of want to take the best parts of both of these concepts. There are a lot of directions I could take with him.

U is for Ugori

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It’s April, and that means it’s time for the A to Z challenge. I really must be a glutton for punishment; April is my last month of college, and I’m still an amateur blogger, but I must say, I’m looking forward to the challenge. I’m going to be writing short little blurbs about some retired characters from my DISTANT past up until recently; all of them are failed concepts. Part of me is hoping that writing about these characters will inspire me…perhaps to write more during the summer when school is out.

Fun fact about this post: I fell behind. I was supposed to draft this week’s posts on Saturday, but I ended up having to travel 50 minutes away to go get fingerprinted for an FBI background check because my itty bitty town doesn’t do fingerprinting during a convenient time. And I spent Sunday cooking for 50 people…so I wrote some posts during class instead of listening to my professors.

tl;dr: I’m late because I spent Saturday at a prison and Sunday at a church, cooking.

Now onto my character of the day…

I’ve always liked the idea of a villain that didn’t know he was  a villain. Imagine doing something all your life only to find out that it’s wrong. Imagine a hero coming out of nowhere and deciding that you have to be stopped at all costs, but you have no idea why. There’s just this person telling you that you’ve been expressing yourself the wrong way all this time. Just think about it. It’s not just a “you’re not supposed to eat with your elbows on the table” kind of moment. It’s someone telling you, “You, good sir or madam, do not know ‘how to life’ correctly.” When people start telling us how to do things, we get pretty upset, right?

Ugori is…a monster. He’s not human. The best way to describe him is as a horned anthropomorphic bipedal beast, but he has the mind of a child. I hesitate to attach a label like “mentally handicapped” to him simply because I’ve never thought too much about how or why he acts like a child.Just imagine the Incredible Hulk mixed with the mind of a kindergartner and the emotional stability of a teenager. In my story, he’s used as muscle for a small time crime lord involved with human trafficking. His boss controls him with fear; Ugori doesn’t want to be abandoned, but the environment he lives and works in isn’t exactly a happy home. He finds things, mostly people, to cling to…and he clings too much. In short, he has unintentionally killed several of his “friends” simply by smothering them.

Ugori definitely needs more development. First, I need to figure out what he is. Then, I need to fit him into my mythos. And after that I can fit him into a larger plot. As he is, he’s simply a passing thought, and I’d like him to be more.

T is for Tobias

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It’s April, and that means it’s time for the A to Z challenge. I really must be a glutton for punishment; April is my last month of college, and I’m still an amateur blogger, but I must say, I’m looking forward to the challenge. I’m going to be writing short little blurbs about some retired characters from my DISTANT past up until recently; all of them are failed concepts. Part of me is hoping that writing about these characters will inspire me…perhaps to write more during the summer when school is out.

I enjoyed writing about a villain so much yesterday that I decided to go for it again. I didn’t realize until recently that I had all but neglected my villains! To be quite honest, writing for a villain is almost more fun than writing for a hero.

Tobias is actually a general, but…not really. He’s actually not much of a fighter at all. He was a clumsy soldier that got promoted because the empress saw that the people loved him. He’s really just a country bumpkin. He doesn’t have much going for him other than the fact that he’s passionate about helping people which is very rare for soldiers in his country. The empress was trying to pull a smart move and placate the people with at least one good general. He’s good-natured and good at keeping the peace until a real war breaks out. And spoiler alert….

He dies.

Yup. He gets killed, and his death does two things. It teaches my protagonist (Roark) that he isn’t really all that and a bag of chips. And it sends Tobias’s partner into a swirling pit of madness from which I never decided if she recovers.

Once again, he’s one of those characters that I forgot about.

And it was difficult to kill him off. Does anyone else ever have this issue?

 

S is for Sveta

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It’s April, and that means it’s time for the A to Z challenge. I really must be a glutton for punishment; April is my last month of college, and I’m still an amateur blogger, but I must say, I’m looking forward to the challenge. I’m going to be writing short little blurbs about some retired characters from my DISTANT past up until recently; all of them are failed concepts. Part of me is hoping that writing about these characters will inspire me…perhaps to write more during the summer when school is out.

Today I get to talk about a villain, who’s a villain in more than one way, but at the same time, I like to think that she’s at least seemingly sympathetic. Do you like your typical super scary villain? Do you you your everyday domestic villain? Well, Sveta is both, but she’s also the victim of circumstance, so I suppose you could feel bad for her as well.

She’s one of my younger villains at the age of 19. Her father sold her into marriage with a man much older than her when she was 15 which is customary for her people. She was the youngest of her siblings, including another sister, but she was the only one the guy wanted. Over night, she became mother to a little boy named Samir (the man’s son from a previous marriage). She wasn’t happy, so when her husband fell ill, she ran, leaving everything behind. After her husband died, her step-son was alone, and he ended up in a very, very bad situation… Most people who read her story hate Sveta because of what happens to Samir, but I won’t go into detail about that.

Some people might call her selfish. Some people might think she had every right to run away. But that isn’t what necessarily makes her a villain. After all, we can’t possibly know what kind of consequences our actions will have.

She retreated to the woods and studied the dark arts which included how to summon monsters. With her siblings, she worked under a man named Malcolm Youngblood kidnapping people for his experiments. Sveta struggles with doing what’s right and doing stuff for herself which I think is a very relatable idea, especially for us modern folks. She does horrible things to give herself a comfortable life without ever thinking about others. However, her siblings are all much, much worse than her. Much. Much worse.

Where did I go wrong? Not gonna’ lie. I think she’s a pretty well-rounded character. I had simply forgotten about her! I suppose that’s a neat thing about this challenge, eh?

R is for Rhys

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It’s April, and that means it’s time for the A to Z challenge. I really must be a glutton for punishment; April is my last month of college, and I’m still an amateur blogger, but I must say, I’m looking forward to the challenge. I’m going to be writing short little blurbs about some retired characters from my DISTANT past up until recently; all of them are failed concepts. Part of me is hoping that writing about these characters will inspire me…perhaps to write more during the summer when school is out.

Behold! It’s time for more twins. As I mentioned earlier in this challenge, I’m obsessed with twins, particularly fraternal twins. We’re going to go on a little trip down memory lane. When I was in junior high, I wanted a twin brother so badly that I made one up. A long lost twin. His name was Rhys, and he went to a boarding school in Boston, living a hopelessly extravagant life I would never grasp because he was the “smart” one. I actually don’t remember a lot of details about him, but apparently, he was so vivid a character that my friend developed a crush on him. …and then I killed him in a train accident. I was a terrible person.

But naturally, I had so much fun with this that I had to create a tragic twin brother for a character you’ll see later in this challenge. Rhys Hawk is the long-lost son of Lance Hawk. (Remember him from earlier?) You see, he had twins, but one of them was kidnapped by some enemies. Rhys grew up in another mercenary camp. Honestly, nothing bad happened to him. He was just separated from his family. Trouble doesn’t start until his twin sister gets kidnapped by the same group, and they meet for the first time.

Rhys himself is a voice of reason. He’s calm and gentle, not really much of a fighter, but he is also incredibly passive, so if his adoptive father tells him to do something, he’ll do it. This becomes a source of conflict for him.

But really…a long lost twin brother? I think soap operas have done that before. Rhys ended up becoming a major problem for me. He just made my plots way too complicated. I tried time and time again to fix the trouble he had caused, but I could never really find a way to revive my childish interest in my own imaginary twin brother.

Q is for Querida

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It’s April, and that means it’s time for the A to Z challenge. I really must be a glutton for punishment; April is my last month of college, and I’m still an amateur blogger, but I must say, I’m looking forward to the challenge. I’m going to be writing short little blurbs about some retired characters from my DISTANT past up until recently; all of them are failed concepts. Part of me is hoping that writing about these characters will inspire me…perhaps to write more during the summer when school is out.

Allow me to preface this post with this statement: I don’t remember how I discovered the movie this character is based on. The internet is a dangerous place; sometimes I get lost on it. I think everyone has experienced this at least once in his or her life. But it’s quite possibly the most graphic suburban tale I’ve ever heard of. It’s also based on a true story which makes it even worse. (Guys, I watch Criminal Minds and still consider this stuff graphic. I suppose this is your warning!)

Someone found out about a girl that was tortured by a family member and an entire community to the point where they killed her or she committed suicide (I forget which one), and no one tried to stop it. So of course someone decided to make a movie about it after the fact. (It’s called The Girl Next Door (2007) if anyone’s interested. I’ve never watched it myself, and I don’t have any desire to watch it, but I’ve read plot summaries.) I don’t know what it is about horrible things that entertain us or intrigue is, but it happens without fail. I guess that’s why we like things like The Hunger Games.  I heard about this poor girl and decided I wanted to give her some justice, more justice than the movie gave her at least.

Querida is quite possibly one of the darkest characters I’ve ever written. She goes through intense torture at the hands of people who are supposed to protect her, but she takes it all so she can protect her little sister. Throughout the course of the story, she goes from being a stubborn, strong-willed, vibrant girl to deteriorating to almost nothing, and her best friend watches all of this happen. Thankfully, he’s bright enough to question it and NOT join in with the torture. A combination of her own will and her best friend keeps her going and eventually helps her break free.

And you know how I screwed this up? I never gave her any resolution whatsoever. She got her justice and then decided, “I’m going to run away from everything, and that will fix me.” And I ended it there. Do you know how angry that made me? I’M THE AUTHOR, AND I UPSET MYSELF. I’m getting angry just thinking about it. Now I’m not sure if that’s a choice she made or a choice I made. If I had to do things differently, I would handle her healing process much better.

P is for Peter

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It’s April, and that means it’s time for the A to Z challenge. I really must be a glutton for punishment; April is my last month of college, and I’m still an amateur blogger, but I must say, I’m looking forward to the challenge. I’m going to be writing short little blurbs about some retired characters from my DISTANT past up until recently; all of them are failed concepts. Part of me is hoping that writing about these characters will inspire me…perhaps to write more during the summer when school is out.

When I finally started interacting with others online, I created four characters that I used almost exclusively. Peter was among those four, so he has a rather special place in my heart. I don’t consider him a failed character, but I do consider him a complicated one. That’s why I decided to add him to my challenge. But first…some background information.

Peter grew up in a village called Dies Irae (wow…my subtle naming abilities yet again). His parents were inn keepers, and he ended up falling in love with the crippled granddaughter of the village elder. He was never very good at socializing, but neither was Anna (the girl he fell in love with). It was a fairly standard “girl next door” scenario. But that all changed when the Fire Nation attacked.

Okay. Maybe not the Fire Nation, but the village got destroyed. In most plots I’ve used them in, they’re separated during the raid. Peter gets tossed around in slavery, and Anna gets rescued by a group of mercenaries. Peter becomes bitter and hateful, and Anna gets some time to heal. Their love story is meant to be one that heals both of them in the end. But there’s so much more to it than that. Peter struggles a lot with trusting humanity in general. He’s sort of an anti-hero in a way; he’s definitely his own worst enemy.

How could I improve upon him? I’d say I should tone down the angst, but I think it’s the right amount for the situation he’s in. I don’t think I focus too much on romance because his main story revolves around escaping from slavery and avenging his family. He just so happens to meet Anna later on. His biggest flaw I think was the fact that I got a little too literal with my symbolism–he was mute. (No freedom. No voice. Whoaaa! Mind blown.) There wasn’t really a reason for it. He wasn’t born that way. It just happened. Writers. We’re strange folks, eh?

Now, enjoy some OLD art.

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Anna and Peter (2010)