Hey y’all. 🙂 Today’s topic is using your own emotions to inspire your writing. If you write a story when you’re (for example) really mad, you get insight into your character. And yourself. You see the flaws in your character, which also reflect your own flaws and misgivings. (I’m basing my main character loosely off of myself, so that’s why I say that) I recently got kinda mad at a friend (we’re all good now), and I ended up writing five pages about my main character. She was very angry at a friend and looking back on the story, I used EVERYTHING I was feeling at the moment to write it. Even down to the tiny details. Although I don’t always contain my feelings, sometimes I take my bottled up emotion and channel it into my work. Now what book character (that we all know and love) does that sound like? I’m not saying you should write EVERY time you’re sad, angry, jubilant, confused, etc. Otherwise you’ll have a lot of strange emotional scenes and nowhere to put them. Unless you like your characters overly emotional….. But your character’s temper should flare up every once and a while, so pull on personal experiences to get the most you can out of a scene. A few months back, I got my driver’s permit. As fun as it is finally being able to drive, it’s a little nerve-wracking and scary at the same time. This is probably a healthy fear, but I’m always nervous that a car from the other lane is going to come crashing into me at top speed. I haven’t used this to inspire any writings yet, but the most extreme fear I’ve ever felt was when I had to jump off of a cliff into a deep pool of water. (the picture in the link is not of me or anyone I know) The picture ALSO makes it looks smaller than it is, but my crazy imagination probably made it look bigger than it was when I was at the top. I have written about situations where my characters were faced with dazzlingly high heights, but I’ve never channeled my insane fear of heights into them. I need to work on my emotional channeling too. 🙂
Update on the story I’m working on with Gil — we are past the planning stage! The only thing we need is a name… I’m going to try to write the first chapter this week, and we are creating a separate blog to post the chapters on. I’ll be writing from the perspective of Aria and Gil will be writing from Luke’s, and we’ll alternate writing chapters. Aria was originally a character I created for Demigod Diaries, but never used. Her godly parent would have been Poseidon. Does that give you any clues on her elemental powers? 😉 Here’s the latest chapter of Wrathgate by Jonathan Shelnutt! (Speaking of Jonathan, you guys should check out the blog he’s writing for now: SkoobPress!)
Wrathgate Chapter 7: Escape
For a moment, everything was still. The three Weaver siblings stared with horror at the bloody black blade. The rain and the battle in the distance were the only sounds. Suddenly, James felt a growing sensation in his heart. Something unrecognizable was appearing, something that he had never felt before. Where his heart had been was now a black star, burning and consuming. Where once his thoughts had been cold and clear, now they were all hot and hazy, like the rain that poured from the fiery clouds.
“Bethany!” James’s voice surprised him when it touched his own ears. All James’s memories of Bethany came rushing back. The gentle and innocent girl who had always been such a good friend to the Weavers was gone. Never again would she sit on the stairs and braid Emily’s hair. Never again would she collect conch shells on the beach with William. Never again would she play with her Uncle Arnen’s alchemy kit with James.
For a moment, the three human children stood vigil over the fallen elf maiden. Then, with a harsh, icy sort of giggle, that despicable Ashen girl that had slain Bethany stepped over her body and tossed her obsidian sword in the air, catching it again after two rotations by the hilt.
The next few moments were a blur. Simultaneously, James, Emily, and William launched themselves at the Ashen girl, wildly and with the ferocity of a wolf pack. James’s knife flickered in and out of her guard, once perhaps actually hitting her. William snatched her by the arm and tried to throw a punch, but was batted out of the way by a blow from her sword-hilt. For some reason, the Ashen girl, though fully capable of killing all three with another blast of magic, seemed to be interested in taking them alive. She would have knocked William unconscious, but Emily managed a sturdy backhand blow to the face that seemed to faze the girl.
With a screech, the Ashen girl knocked Emily and James aside and leaped off the ground into a pillar of smoke, which bore her away towards the main Ashen force. None of the Weaver children stopped to watch her leave, however.
“Bethany! Bethany!” William struggled to keep his voice from descending into sobs.
For around ten seconds, Emily stood with her eyes closed, fists clenched, and chin up. Then, as usual, she sprang into action.
“William, James, listen. The last ships are leaving the harbor now. We have to choose: will we stay here or will we leave?” She spoke to her brothers in a voice bordering on harshness, but her watery eyes betrayed her emotion. All at once, James realized that his sister was the bravest person he knew.
William closed Bethany’s eyes, lifted her, and set her down on a bench out of the rain curled up like they had seen her sleep before. He ripped his gaze from her, and then looked at James and Emily. “We leave. We must go to Istris and keep this from happening there.” Turning to Bethany, he continued: “I will remember,” he said, “I’ll remember everything. I promise.”
The three Weaver siblings hurried off from the side road, back towards the docks.
After a few minutes of silent running, James and his brother and sister started seeing the sea elves. Obeying Prince Alexander’s order to leave the island with dignity was impossible, and there was quite a bit of desperation in even the eyes of the bravest. Most of the large ships were already sailing out of the harbor, and many of the elves would not fit onto the remaining boats.
No one would have ever guessed that Cithara had too few ships. The bustling harbor was emptying quickly, and suddenly James realized that when the city of Cithara fell, then there would be no escape for the remaining inhabitants of the island of Capria. The small settlements near the Azurdine Grottos, around the Argent Spire, and the lighthouses at Ria near the end of the island would all be taken with very little resistance.
As they passed through a huge marble arch, the Weavers came out of the Sea Elf district and were in the shipyards.
“We’re too late!” Emily’s voice sounded stricken. For the first time in his life, James saw the docks completely empty of ships. Even the rowboats and the tiny fishing vessels had been taken. The remaining Sea Elves were gathering nets, tridents, and harpoons for a final defense once the Ashen descended from the city.
“Come on,” said William, beckoning his siblings onto the dock he was standing on. “I think I can hear something.”
James followed despondently. The panic that he had felt before was gone, replaced by despondency and a vague sense of betrayal. James glanced at Emily, who had a steely look on her face and radiated determination. Suddenly that look was replaced by confusion, then excitement.
“I can hear it too! That’s Arnen’s whistle!” Emily said. Snatching James’s hand, the siblings ran the rest of the way to the end of the dock. From there, they could see a small boat with a pale green lantern hanging from the mast. “There is Arnen’s boat!” Emily’s smile spread to William and James, and they all started shouting as loudly as possible. Oars appeared out of the small water craft and it glided quickly towards them. As the boat touched the dock and slid to a stop, they saw Arnen.
“Come in, quickly, children! James, how pleasant to see you! Where are your parents? Is Bethany with you? William, please push us off from the dock? Thank you.”
The Weaver siblings were far too breathless to answer any of his questions, but that did not seem to faze him.
“As soon as your parents and Bethany arrive, we can leave. William, I’m surprised that you didn’t stop for Bethany on your way. She was probably waiting for you…”
“Arnen!” Emily cut in. James was watching William, who had his eyes closed tightly.
“Yes, Emily?” Arnen looked at her curiously.
“Bethany isn’t coming. And neither are our parents.” Emily said. The words hung in the air for what seemed like an eternity.
“All is lost, then.” Arnen said it almost contemplatively. No emotion registered on his face as he rose to his feet and unfurled the sail. He did not ask for any more explanation.
“Our parents went looking for James. They are off in Azurdine Grottos.”
“And Bethany?” Arnen tensed visibly. “She was in the city an hour ago, I asked her to put together our supplies while I readied the boat.”
James could be silent no longer. “Master, your niece fell to an Ashen warrior. She died honorably.”
Arnen silently watched the sail fill with the hot east wind and pull them westward, away from the shore.
“When your parents were teaching you, they told you to go to Istris in an emergency, didn’t they?” Arnen sighed, fingering a peculiar ring on his finger adorned by a white star.
“No, they didn’t.” James blurted out. It was a strange question, but by the strange look that Arnen was giving him, he had given an even stranger answer. “They told us to go to Thornhill.”
“Thornhill,” Arnen said the word slowly like it was the first time he had said it. A wry smile played around his mouth. “Your adoptive parents are clever people, James. I never would have imagined… Thornhill. You know, James, I think your parents will escape from Capria. Somehow, they always seem to find a way.”
“We would like to go to Istris, though.” James suddenly remembered the black wand in his pocket and shivered. The cold presence was still hung around him like a shadow. For a moment he contemplated whether or not to tell Arnen about the wand. For some reason it was supposed to go to his parents, but perhaps Arnen might have some insights about it. Before James could quite make up his mind, he glanced back at the burning city of Cithara one last time. Up on the hill he could see the massive cathedral, and to the south he could just barely make out the white glint of the Argent Spire. James wondered if the Ashen had arrived there yet, and how long it would take them to defeat its defenses. Something told him that it wouldn’t take long. But the strangest thing was, he thought he could hear a song, suspended on the wind like a delicate butterfly. James couldn’t distinguish the words, but from the melody he knew which song it was. It was a lullaby.
The crown of thorns, the rod of night,
Sound the horns and gather all might,
But though the darkness shall assail,
Death and fire may prevail,
Still the Fisher King shall bring us home.
The music faded into the distance, but James silently sang the second verse in his head.
Home to the hill, where flowers grew,
Where everything was bright and new,
When we had hope and tranquility,
Where we will find serenity
When the Fisher King shall bring us home.
The conversation on the boat had gone silent. Apparently everyone had heard the song.
“The fisher’s lullaby,” Emily said. “I can remember mother…” She stopped, and her face darkened.
“Children, children. You will see your parents again. Look up there, in the sky, in the southwest.” Arnen said, pointing. James looked, and saw something that was startling.
“What is that?” William’s voice showed that he was rather surprised also.
“It’s a planet.” Emily said decisively. “It has to be. It’s too big to be a star. Plus, stars don’t just appear out of nowhere.”
“Honestly, children, I don’t know what it is.” Arnen said. “It just makes me feel hopeful. Your father would know what it actually meant. Your mother and I used to joke that he was good friends with all the stars.”
James wondered what that meant. For some reason he got the idea that Arnen was talking in code. But everything was so very confusing. The wand, the mysterious arrival of the Ashen, some secret about his parents connected with the Prince of Capria… James’s life was complicated enough right here on Earth without even mentioning the celestial bodies. Stars could go rot for all he cared. James fingered the black wand and again almost mentioned it, but something held him back again. With a jolt he wondered if the wand itself did not want to be mentioned.
But that would be impossible.