Driving School for Stories

Some people like character-driven plots.  These are plots where the story is made by what the character decides.  Unfortunately for most fantasies, these turning points in the story are usually ones where there is no foreseeable outcome where everyone lives– not exactly desirable for a character.  Take, for instance, the Lord of the Rings, book one, the Fellowship of the Ring.  Yes, he was kicked out of his home by Gandalf and a group of nine Grim Reapers, but that’s only the beginning.  He takes the One Ring from his home in Bag End all the way to the elven city of Imladris, or Rivendell.  There, everything begins to come back to normal as he finds Bilbo again and recovers from a life-threatening injury.

Then he realizes that nothing is over yet.  The Ring still must be destroyed, and no one can decide upon someone to do it.  So he stands up and says, incredibly stupidly, “I will take the Ring.”

He knows exactly what this entails.  Boromir has just given his famous speech: “One does not simply walk into Mordor.  There is an evil there that never sleeps…”  He has seen the powers that chased him from Hobbiton to Rivendell– and he had only had the Ring for a few days.  He had tasted the awesome power of the Ring.  The facts are telling him, “This is a job for elves or men– taller people than you.  Leave it to them; go home and wash your feet.” (more…)

Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V

One thing I obsess about too much is originality.  I like to be original, to know that the things I say are my own and not stolen from some movie or comedian’s shtick.  I like to think that the concepts that I write about are from my mind, instead of lifted from the last book I read.

This is strange, since I often do just that.

Most people would say there’s a difference between something inspiring you and you copying something.  There are also two different ways to copy something– to copy it intentionally, and to copy it unintentionally.  For the latter, let’s say you read a book a year ago and then two months later got a story idea, which you wrote out into a full-length novel.  A year later, you reread that book and find that a lot of things from that story of yours were copied from that other book.  They were small things, but they were there. (more…)

Short Story: The Gingerbread Monster

This short story was written to be part of a scavenger hunt contest sort of thing my friend eshy forced asked me to do.  This is a rewrite of The Gingerbread Man/Boy/Runner fairy tale.  I hope you enjoy it.

Scavenger hunt- n. a game in which individuals or teams try to locate and bring back miscellaneous items on a list.

This online scavenger hunt has the same idea. But you’ll be hunting for bold words. It starts here: http://eshysletters.wordpress.com/ where you need to find the one bolded word throughout the post. Write it down somewhere. Then go on to the next blog in the hunt by clicking the link at the bottom of the post that will take you to the next one. Find the bold world and then go onto the next. Eventually you’ll be led back to http://eshysletters.wordpress.com/ where you’ll find a fairytale (The Wise Little Girl) with a few words missing and replaced with blanks. Copy and paste that fairytale into an email. Unscramble the order of the bold words you’ve found and pop them into the blanks. Put “Once Upon A Time” as the subject of the email and address it toeshydog2@gmail.com. To be entered to win you must have the correct words in the correct order sent in an email by July 2nd. If you have the bold words in the correct order you’ll be entered to be drawn at random for a limited edition book of fairytales and rewritten versions of the very same classics along with a handwritten letter from eshy. Any questions, email eshy. More details and the complete rules are also on eshy’s post. Happy hunting everyone! (more…)

Phil Phorce: Not Living, Not Dead

It’s about time I started on the rest of this Phil Phorce episode, so here you are.

“What are you doing with those mice in the Elimination room downstairs?” yelled Phume, getting right into Ralph’s face.  Ralph was tied to a sofa in his sitting room, his sister sitting in an easy chair opposite him.

“Should be obvious,” said Ralph.

“We’re taking control and shutting your operations down,” said Phoenix matter-of-factly.  “Those mice will be set free, no thanks to you.”

Ralph shrugged.  “Makes no difference.  I didn’t need them anyway.” (more…)

Tips on Spotting and Escaping Enchanted Forests

Though enchanted forests don’t seem so common in this modern age of ours, they are still present in frightening quantities.  Think of it: you’re walking through the forest, admiring the trees, especially that one with the elephant-shaped branch, and then you realize: “I’ve seen that tree before!  Three times, in fact!  I even have five pictures of it on my camera!”  What just happened, you wonder?  The answer is simple: you’re in an enchanted forest.  Pretty soon you find that you’re going in circles, and unless you’re a mill horse, it probably won’t help anyone.  Getting lost and walking in circles is an inexplicable event if you aren’t aware of the enchanted forest you’re in, or of the rope that has you tied to a tree.  For this reason, we’ve come up with a practical guide to becoming aware of and escaping enchanted forests, or that rope.

  1. Check and see if you’ve got a strange belt around your middle, and then see if it’s tied to a tree nearby.  If so, cut the rope and you can get out of that never-ending circle.  Now just walk out.
  2. If you find that you aren’t tied to a tree but are still walking around in circles, check the trees around you for ravens and crows with red eyes.  These are frequently found in enchanted forests.
  3. Check for trees that seem to be moving or that have faces.  There are few normal forests that have this type of tree, so if there are many of this type of tree around, you can be certain that you’re stuck in an enchanted forest.  If the trees creep you out too much, just punch one in the nose.  This will have two effects: your knuckles will hurt, and the tree will fall backward from surprise.  Or it might attempt to kill you.  If it does, you’re definitely in an enchanted forest.  Some trees of this kind also speak to you, most often in a whisper or a groan.  If this happens, listen and they might tell you important things.  The trees have been known to speak valuable secrets, like the combination to your locker, so listen carefully and you might learn something.
  4. Now that you’ve figured out that you’re in an enchanted forest, it’s time to get out.  To do this, only turn left.  Now, it might seem as though you’ll be led in circles again, but since the forests try to convince you that you’re turning left when you’re actually turning right, you might find yourself moving in a straight line even after turning left five times in a row.
  5. The other way to get out is to get a creepy, nearly hairless guide, but people who have tried this in the past have experienced extreme stress, loss of digits and property, and really long quests involving powerful rings and big eyes in the middle of nowhere.
  6. The biggest no-no, however, comes once you’re out of the forest.  Don’t go back for anything, because now that the forest recognizes that you’re smarter than it is, it will try to kill you.  You might have to leave your beloved stuffed wallaby behind, but if you think about it, it’s better for everyone.  Except the forest’s pride.

Now that you have the appropriate knowledge, go out and kick that forest’s hypothetical rear end.  Please tell your lawyers before you do this that we are not in any way responsible for deaths, maiming, madness or other unpleasant occurrences pertaining to your person.  Oh, and if you happen to see a stuffed wallaby, pick it up and send it to me.  I liked that thing.  Have fun!

Top Ten Books I’d Quickly Save…

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. I thought I’d join because, well, it seems interesting. And I sometimes run out of things to write, as you can see in the post “When Boredom Strikes”.

So. This Tuesday’s topic is: Top Ten Books I’d Quickly Save If My House Was Going To Be Destroyed By Aliens.

Oooh! This promises to be fun. The following are not in order that I like them.

  1. Inheritance, by Christopher Paolini. I spent more money on this book than on any other book I’ve bought before, so I’m keeping it.
  2. Airman, by Eoin Colfer. This is one of the best books I’ve read by this author. Scratch that, it is the best book I’ve read by this author. So I’d like to keep it.
  3. All the Rick Riordan books I have. Okay, this might be cheating, sticking something like seven books together in one, but who cares? It’s Rick Riordan!
  4. The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexander Dumas. Just because it’s my favorite book ever.
  5. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (and the Hobbit), by JRR Tolkien. Again, cheating, but it’s Tolkien!
  6. The Chronicles of Narnia, by CS Lewis, if we could find our copies. Somehow they were lost in one of our moves between states. And it’s cheating again, but it’s CS Lewis!
  7. Erak’s Ransom, by John Flanagan. If I had the Lost Stories I would take that instead, but I’ll just have to go with the second best book in that series.
  8. Leven Thumps and the Gateway to Foo, by Obert Skye. I’ve changed my mind about how much I like this series, but this is the first book and it’s pretty good regardless.
  9. Taggerung, by Brian Jacques. I know I don’t talk about the Redwall series much, but I have all but two of the books, my favorite being the one I just mentioned.
  10. Inkheart, by Cornelia Funke. I believe Funke is one of the best writers I know of. Inkheart is definitely coming along.

What more shall I say? I’ve run out of lines in which to put more books by great authors, so I’ll leave it at that.

All of you readers who don’t know who Isaac Phael is are dismissed. Regular readers, I’d like you to read this fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm: Frederick and Catherine. Comment and tell me what you think about Catherine’s character.

And just for fun, I’d like you to read this fairy tale, by the same authors: The Valiant Little Tailor. When I read this, I thought it was hilarious.

Been fun, but I’ve got to go now. Ta-ta!

A Phil Conference

“Well, you all know it had to happen sometime,” Liam said, standing at the head of the traditional pool table the Phils were seated at.

“What, the world is ending?” asked Quirk.

“No–”

“I’m becoming Vice-Phil?” asked Percival.  He and Quirk glared daggers at each other.

“Not quite yet, but–”

“The moon has been found to be made of cheese?” asked Sebase.

“Moldy bread,” said Phume.

“Cheese!”

“Bread!”

“No! That’s–” protested Liam.

“Oh, I know: you’ve found me a cure for my eyes?”  Isaac was facing entirely the wrong direction, his eyes bandaged.

“Why would he do that?” asked Feiron.  “You’re nothing special.”

“If I could cry, I would,” Isaac told him.

“Well, we’re all thankful that you can’t,” said Steve.

“Has the world learned to love each other?” asked Sam.

“No, it’s not–” Liam said.

“Obert Skye has come out with a new book!” yelled the old lady.

“NO!”

“Argh?” asked Gologer.

“Probably not,” Liam said.  “What I meant to say before I was interrupted was that I’m finally coming to the end of Phoenix’s story.  Now, I don’t say Isaac’s story because his will keep going for a while.  I’m not finished with him.”

“Thank heaven!” cried Isaac.

“I don’t think that’s a good thing, ‘saac,” said Feiron.

“Oh.”

“I wrote the ending to Phoenix’s story a while ago,” continued Liam, “and right now it’s looking as if we might get there pretty soon.  Within the week, I might guess.”

“But you won’t because you’re terrible with your schedule and all that,” said Quirk.

“That’s it, Quirk,” Liam snapped.  “Percival, you’re Vice-Phil now.  Quirk, you can clean the toilets.”

“But we move each week…”

“Then clean them all.  Anyway, Phoenix’s story is going to be done this week.”

“So then you can continue my story,” said Percival.

“All right, Quirk, you’re back to being Vice-Phil.”

“Yes!”  Quirk pumped his fist.

“NO!” wailed Percival.

“Can Percival do the toilets now?” asked Quirk.

“No, we can go without,” Liam said.  “But to continue, Phoenix is almost done.  That means she can retire her duties over there and work more on producing Phil-worthy phrases, which she has yet to do.”

Phoenix stuck out her tongue.

“I think I’m right in saying that she won’t be Vice-Phil for a while now?” guessed Quirk.

“Yeah, whatever.  Our next order of business is to say that I’ve been sort-of editing Wise.  It’s kind of stopped, but who really cares?  Soon I’ll have that boatload of carp that Phoenix’s story is to edit.”

“Hey!” Phoenix yelled.

“It’s true,” said Feiron.

“It’s your story too, ‘Ron,” said Liam.

“But I’m in both Phoenix’s and Isaac’s so that makes me better.”

“You weren’t there when I was blinded!” said Isaac bitterly.

“Sorry about that, Isaac.  I’m working on it,” said Liam.

“So Phoenix will be joining the ranks of retired story-Phils, including myself, Sebase, Phume, Gologer and the old lady,” said Percival.

“I’m not retired yet!” said the old lady.  “I’m a part of Isaac’s story, and his isn’t done yet!”

“But your part in Wise is,” Liam said.  “Third order of business: a great post you should check out.  On Kirsten’s blog, she recently wrote this post, which is a great summary of how stupid modern fantasy stories really are.  I’m sorry to say that Phoenix’s story is almost exactly the same as the first plot.  I’m quite happy to say that Isaac’s facet of the story is completely different than anything else I’ve read, except fairy tales.

“Speaking of which, I was ‘researching’ Rapunzel for Isaac and found that Rapunzel’s tower was twenty ells tall.  Officially, an ell is 45 inches, which makes for a 75 foot tower that Isaac jumped out of.”

“Congrats Isaac on doing something stupid.  Again.”  Feiron clapped loudly.

“And that concludes our conference for today.  Thank you all for coming.  Sam and Steve: Gologer has asked to take you home.  Just climb in his mouth.”

Sam and Steve screamed as the Phils left.

You Can’t Keep This Awesomeness Contained… Much

Hey there, I’m Feiron the cursed fairy. Hey there, I’m Feiron the superior being . Hey there, I’m Feiron the really really awesome. Hey there, I’m Feiron the slightly abnormal, brown and hairy, trapped-in-his-own-body, amazingly smart, and really-really-handsome-even-though-he’s been-cursed-twice fairy. My name is pronounced “fair” and “on”, as in “That’s no fair! I wanted to turn that weird little thingamajig on.” Great name, right?

If you understood the first sentence I wrote that wasn’t crossed out, you know a couple things about me. The most important is that I’m really really handsome. The second most important is that I’m a fairy. Now, you might be saying to yourself, “Fairies don’t exist”, but you’d better be ready for a rude awakening, number 1 ’cause I love being rude, and number 2 ’cause fairies do actually exist. No, we’re not from a different planet, but yes, we’re from a different world. In that world we’ve got this system set up where if anyone starts crying in any of the worlds (the fairy-tale world, a.k.a. Isaac’s, the Earth, a.k.a. your world, etc.) someone will be sent. Fairies are summoned by tears, you see. That’s why Cinderella’s fairy godmother appeared just after she burst into tears because she couldn’t go to the ball. (Goodness, how pathetic that girl was.) That’s also why I appeared when Isaac burst into tears after losing Cinderella. (Goodness, how much more pathetic that boy was is.) You see, the fairy summoned will always be of the same gender as the person summoning. That’s why you see more fairy godmothers than fairy godfathers; more girls cry than boys. Of course, we’ve also had to forgo our operations on Earth because there were just too many darn people living there, but we’ve kept it running out in fairy-land. (How I hate that title. As if we were from there originally… we just show up there a lot, we don’t actually live there!) How do we get from place to place, you might ask? Well, even though you’re being extremely nosy and I’d like to shove all your questions up your nose, I’ll answer: we use mirrors or television sets. It’s called teleporting. It was named that when two British sailors, thoroughly drunk, discovered the phenomenon. Of course, only one of them actually lived to tell the tale; the other was lost in an in-between world forever. The other actually named it “telly-porting” because 1) it was caused by a “telly”, or television in British-speak, and 2) because his friend fell into the left side of the TV, which, being a sailor, he called “port”. Thus came the name “telly-porting”. The guy also tried “port-tellying”, but it just doesn’t have the same ring to it, does it? The thing they didn’t know was that it also worked in mirrors. You jump in the left side, come out the right in the world you think of. But you can’t teleport, or travel as we call it now, unless you’re either drunk or you’ve touched a fairy, like me. That’s how Phoenix was able to travel; she laid hands on me in a most undignified manner, grabbing my leg as I tried to travel through the mirror. But she’s a good person, all in all.

Another few things about fairies: 1) our original form is a twelve-inch-high brown and hairy humanoid shape, which we must stay in for about five minutes after traveling. After the five minutes are up we can shapeshift, which I’ve lost the ability to do because of a badly-timed curse from one of my enemies. 2) We have what’s called a Bubblepack following each of us around, which is basically a hole in space that only the owner can get into that we use as a backpack. The older you get, the bigger the pack gets. Thus we can collect many things from all around the worlds, saving them for later usefulness.

And that’s it for me, mostly because Liam wants to kick me off the computer to check comments and stuff. Tomorrow is Quirk’s turn, I think, with Sam and Steve as guests. Since you know almost everything about them already, however, it should be fine that they’re all glued together.

Isaac’s Post on Himself

Hello. My name is Prince Isaac Phael, and I’m taking over for Liam today, just to post about myself.

I’m not too knowledgeable of the ways of the world; I spend most of my time asking questions, questions which Feiron dubs “stupid”. I think it’s kind of unfair, but he’s a bit… well, let’s just say he’s lost just enough of his marbles to be excluded from the marble game of life, so he sits on the sidelines and badmouths people.

I come from a world where our eggs are branded with the sign of the farmer who owns the chickens, and television is so expensive we call it FeeV. In fact, our world is just barely different from this one. Feiron once explained it to me, so I’ll explain to you as best as I can remember.

My world is built off of the imaginations of the people who hear fairy tales. Take Cinderella, for example; so many people have read this story to their children, have had it read to them, or have read it to themselves, imagining it as they want to. So my world is built off of that imagination– at least, part of it is. You see, there are so many different tales being imagined by the masses here that they just add to our world, until you have 500 countries, each with an heir to the throne popping up and going off to find their perfect princess. But that world becomes more like this one as little children fill in gaps in the story with the way they live; for example, if they have a little purple panda that they love, they might imagine Sleeping Beauty getting one just like it for her fateful birthday. In the same way, they all assume that there is TV there, and that’s how it became FeeV. So my world is built off of the imaginations of this world.

The reason why there isn’t a part of my world for every single novel that’s written is because they aren’t imagined nearly enough. You see, it takes approximately 10 countries full of people to create a world under normal circumstances, or even to add something on to mine. Because the fairy tales were told in so many different countries, and they were all basically the same, it created my world.

But you might think that since the imaginations of people created my world, it would just continue to be a repeat of the same fairy tales. Not so at all. Once it was created, my world was left to its own devices, expanded upon once or twice in a couple generations, as in the case of FeeV; when the tale of Cinderella was first told in this world, there were no TVs. But when TVs became a common object in the houses of the little one’s imagining the stories, they suddenly popped into my world.

So, about me. What do you want to know? I’m fairly uninteresting– completely void of anything unique, according to Feiron. But he’s wrong. I like… I like… Well, I’ll get back to you. Or maybe not; this is the end of my post.