About Writing, Alice and the Warden

The Damon Chapters

An analytical discussion of my novel, Alice and the Warden. Aka, ego tripping. I will be discussing spoilers, so feel free to skip this post if you aren’t currently caught up.

So … I could never be a Hallmark movie writer. Truth is, while working on the Damon chapters, I could hear my mom’s voice lamenting, “Why can’t you write nice stories?”

*insert childhood issues here*

But anyway, we don’t need to get into the reasons why I’m drawn towards the darker side of reality. I just am, and that’s that.

Miranda is a foil** to Alice, and most of her decisions are opposite of Alice’s. Where the novel begins with Alice recovering from her life with Damon, Miranda in turn gets sucked into his world through the course of the story.

I don’t hate either Miranda or Damon — I’m actually fond enough that I’m writing “fanfiction” of them, that takes place after AatW ends. So hey, if you want more D/M, it’s coming.

When I began writing the Damon chapters, my goal was to illustrate how he draws people in, then manipulates and destroys them. I wanted to give a clear example of the sentence from chapter 3, “After four years, Alice had disappeared completely underneath Damon, to the point that when he asked her to confess to murder, she did it without hesitation.”

My secret worry is that others would read that sentence and immediately assume that Alice was a weak-willed doormat who passively allowed herself to be abused. In fact, Alice’s broken family left a giant vulnerability in her that Damon exploited for his own selfish gain, and she was very much the victim.

The exact tactics he used with Miranda were different, but the approach is generally the same. He found something to tie her to him, then oscillated between “perfectly wonderful” and “abusive psycho.” She can’t tell if she loves him or hates him, because he’s constantly throwing both at her. Since Miranda is a prideful sort of person, she isolates herself rather than risk the shame of revealing what she had gotten herself into, and Damon relies heavily on that fact. In essence, he deliberately gives his “girlfriends” Stockholm syndrome, and he’s smart enough to pull it off.

Internally, Damon wants to be better, but he doesn’t know how to deal with his own demons.

The Damon chapters were almost draining to write. They don’t have the cute cotton candy fluff of the first half of AatW, and they strike on my own insecurities far more than the Alice/Hackett chapters. Like I said before, I can just hear my mom’s voice chastising me for writing them.

But they’re an essential part of the story, because they give perspective on the depth contained in the first few chapters. Alice didn’t whimsically decide that she wanted to keep her baby — it was the first time her soul cried out for something after four years of psychological abuse and a broken childhood.

I have entirely too much to say about my own works.
LAWL.

**In literature, theatre/theater, etc., a character who helps emphasize the traits of the main character and who usually acts as an opponent or antagonist.
https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/foil

About Writing

Realistic Fiction

I don’t normally write realistic fiction.

I was put off the genre back in my Creative Writing classes, when everyone assumed that my realistic stories were biographical, to the point where it caused some unwelcome drama. No, I did not base any characters off of you as some sort of passive-aggressive attack. Chill out.

Currently, Alice and the Warden is my only story that doesn’t contain fantastical elements, since my main reason for writing it is to indulge in over-the-top adorableness and romance. Throwing in things like magic, dragons, or aliens would detract from that. Aside from being set in a castle-prison in an ancient forest, everything could sort of actually happen maybe? Since it’s more realistic than, say, The Scion Suit, I have anxiety that others will think that it’s biographical.

Especially because a lot of authors really do base characters off of real people.

No, I have never met any women who ran off with degenerate boyfriends in their teens, then turned their lives around when they had a baby (and that never happened to me either). I could say that Alice is based off of attributes from a wide variety of people that I’ve met in my lifetime, but in my opinion, the most accurate way of describing it is that she sought me out on the spiritual level to tell her story.

Things writers don’t talk about because it makes them sound crazy, lol.

Truthfully though, I could never write anything too realistic. I like to take too many creative liberties. After all, castle-prisons are far more romantic than regular prisons.

Alice and the Warden

Alice and the Warden – 3

Alice had met Damon when she was sixteen-years-old, and he had talked her into bed with him that night. Shortly afterwards, she dropped out of school to run away with him on his motorcycle, and somewhere along the road she lost her sense of self.

When Damon asked her to have sex with a friend to repay a favor, she did it. When he wanted leverage over someone, she became a seductress on his behalf. He taught her to steal, chose her clothing for her, and pushed her into drugs and alcohol. After four years, Alice had disappeared completely underneath Damon, to the point that when he asked her to confess to murder, she did it without hesitation.

Until the moment Alice found herself alone in the stall of a public restroom, staring down at the two lines of a nicked pregnancy test, too numb to feel her heart beat. It was then that the word ‘dignity’ had risen up sharply in her mind, spoken by that stupid, impotent warden she had vowed to hate just three weeks prior.

Dignity.

She still didn’t know what it meant, but she knew that if she told Damon he would insist on an abortion, and she wouldn’t argue against him. That wasn’t what she wanted, and she knew that it wasn’t dignified to be so blindly obedient to someone like Damon. There was no doubt that he was the father, but she couldn’t trust him with her baby.

She never told him.

A couple weeks later, they checked into a motel where Damon began to undress her as usual, but Alice didn’t have it in her to go through with it. She was more tired than she had thought possible, slightly nauseated from the pregnancy, and angry at Damon for using her too much. For the first time ever, she snapped at him to ‘fuck off,’ then for a terrifying second afterward thought that he was going to hit her in response.

Instead, he grabbed his bag and left.

When dawn broke in the morning, Alice awoke with the realization that he hadn’t returned. She waited, staring at the clock until the motel staff chased her out to prepare the room for the next guest, and she drifted to a nearby diner to continue her wait, knowing full well that he wasn’t coming back for her.

She had a $20 hidden in her bra, so she ordered blueberry pancakes with whipped cream to help make up for skimping on dinner the night before, and she ate slowly as she wondered about what she was going to do. Her mom wasn’t going to want her back in the state she was in – especially after four years of estrangement – and everyone she knew was exactly like Damon. She didn’t have any resources, but she couldn’t live in the gutter with a baby growing inside of her.

By chance, the small TV in the corner of the diner showed a mugshot of her with the words, “Wanted for questioning.” Alice stared, seeing herself for the first time. That girl, glowering at the camera with flamingo pink hair and far too much eyeliner really looked like the sort of person who would be involved in murder, even though Alice had never felt that way on the inside – she didn’t want to hurt anyone.

She dialed the phone number provided on the screen with her cellphone, then put her $20 on the table before slipping outside.

With nowhere to go, Alice turned herself in.

NEXT

About Me

Too Late?

Sometimes I worry that I decided to jump into the whole ‘author’ thing a bit too late. Blogs are, like, totally old hat by now, and everyone has literally switched over to YouTube. Most of ’em haven’t read anything since Fifty Shades of Grey anyway.

The funny thing is, I was planning on retreating for the first half of this year, given that I’m expecting our fifth baby (omg that’s a lot of kids). Instead, the characters in my head have gotten louder, to the point that it’s meaningless to argue that I’ve got my own major life events going on. So, here I am, writing another story.

And I wonder: is there going to be an audience for novelettes posted on some random person’s blog? Even if I put tons of effort into marketing in my own way, will it ever amount to anything? It’s been ages since blogs were the hot new shiny item, and as much as I love fantasizing about being a crazy trend-breaker, I’m not sure if anyone else wants to go along with it.

Am I too late?

In a way, it’s also exciting to discover who’s still out there.

Hello, we’re the weirdos who stubbornly do our own thing, irregardless of where the masses have gone.

The Black Magus

Real Love

I’m a hopeless romantic, through and through.

This was perhaps a bit silly of me, but after “The Scion Suit” gained a smidgen of attention on Reddit, I wondered if I should downplay the romance aspect of The Black Magus to make it sound more appealing to the sort of people who would actually read it — after all, I don’t think that I’d gain much traction with Twilight fans. But, I decided that would be rather disingenuous, considering that it’s right there in the very first chapter.

So there you have it: The Black Magus is the ultimate Mary-Sue fanfic, where the main character is a shy nobody who through sheer coincidence gains the attention of the most powerful magus on the planet. He competes against another magus to win her affection in a saucy love triangle, and ultimately pulls ahead by gifting her the most expensive car ever built. The girl, on the other hand, maintains an emotional affair with the other guy, just to prove how strong and independent she is after she’s married …

LOL JK

I’m totally not awesome enough to write that.

It’s not the sort of crap that’s always portrayed in popular romance novels. It’s also not the sort of “singles together” crap that we’re told to settle for because “romance doesn’t exist”. You won’t find any Taylor Swift songs that fit it.

It’s about devotion and compassion. It’s about two people joining together to become a family, and learning how to be there for each other. It’s about real love.

There’s also some stuff about magic and the world they live in, and a few other characters who have some dialogue and whatnot. You know, that necessary story-type stuff, to flesh it out into an actual novel and set up the sequel.

So, I have decided against downplaying the romance aspect of The Black Magus, because it is the entire foundation and structure of the novel. Please, don’t dismiss it because of a few bad stereotypes — I assure you that this story is different.

The Black Magus

The Black Magus characters

 

I know.

I spent over a year working on the first draft for this novel, and these are the only notes I made on the two main characters.

Lawl.

I confess, I’m terrible with notes, so I often find it easier and more organized to keep all of the information in my head. I don’t create character charts, or worksheets, or blah blah blah, because I make a point of locking everything in my mind.

Which is probably one of the reasons why I don’t fit in with writing communities.

Besides. Most of the time, I just listen to what they have to say anyway.

So, here we are: introducing the two main characters from The Black Magus, my upcoming fantasy romance novel.

Are you as excited as I am?

About Writing

Learning how to write from Bob Ross

Sometimes I like to turn on Bob Ross to absorb how calm and mellow he is, and I find it relaxing to sit and watch him paint for a bit. Children are highly chaotic entities, so I know how to appreciate the change in pace that comes with everyone sitting together watching a show that we can all enjoy.

It occurred to me that one could also learn how to write from Bob Ross, as long as you think metaphorically.

He doesn’t simply slap down blobs of color and call it done. He blends the paint, adds shadows and highlights, and is mindful of the details. He also doesn’t overwork the paint or try to control every single aspect of the picture, instead working with the textures of the brush strokes and allowing elements to evolve naturally.

And, as everyone knows, “There are no mistakes, only happy accidents.”

A lot of writers stop at the blobs of color phase. They’ll free write whatever passes through their minds then hit ‘publish’ without any more thought about the story. These sorts of writers can produce a lot of content in a short amount of time, but it will all feel unpolished and unsatisfying. Often, when I have tried to explain how these writers have good potential but they need to dedicate more attention to reworking their story, they get upset rather than accepting the advice (even when I’m responding to their request for criticism). So, remember, blobs of color are your foundation, but they are not your finished story. The first draft should not be your last. And no, your blobs of color are not more genius than anyone else’s. They all pretty much look the same.

Others will overwork the story to death. They’ll edit out the spontaneity of adventure, and reduce their characters to props who serve rigid roles, instead of letting them shine as quirky individuals. These writers don’t let the overall picture evolve naturally, and their stories feel formulaic. While they are often well intentioned, they don’t know how to let the story flow on its own.

There are also writers who put in too much detail, and create overly-busy stories with no clear focus. They forget to leave the background in the background. They throw too much information at the reader all at one, or create more characters than there’s room for. They describe the condiments instead of the picnic.

When you are in the process of editing, take a step back and try to visualize the story as a painting. Is there enough detail without being overdone? Did you let elements evolve naturally and follow the flow? Did you flesh out the foreground and leave the background appropriately hazy? Is it something that you would hang on *your* wall? Remember, you can always fix it.

And the next time you watch Bob Ross, just imagine that he’s speaking in metaphor and soak in all of his encouragement.