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Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Old Writing Excerpts

I watched a video by Abbie Emmons, called 'Reading my (terrible) OLD WRITING!' She read some original stories and fan-fiction from years ago, pointing out some of the flaws in them. And that got me thinking. Why not post some of my own writing from days of old?
Brace yourself, folks, because some of these are from long ago, and some are from weird writing phases.


Tiger the White Kougra

This is a short story I wrote a long time ago, before I was ten. It's basically a Neopets fan-fic, and I intended to publish it to the Neopian Times. If I ever decide to actually do that, it would need a major overhaul. But at the time, it was the probably the longest story I'd ever written. I think part of that was because I misread the word count requirements for short story submissions, and thought it had to be longer than what the minimum actually was.
So let's look at this story, shall we? We'll start with the opening paragraph.

"Once upon a time, there was a white Kougra named Tiger, who did not have a home. Tiger was afraid of people because of an owner his mother belonged to. It all started when Tiger was a week old. His owner, who did not want so many kougras, put him in the pound. He did escape from the pound, but he was afraid of people ever since. He was a baby Kougra at that time, and grew up to be blue. Then he found a white paintbrush and used it."
First of all, we started with 'once upon a time'. How original. The backstory could also read better. And the last sentence, 'Then he found a white paintbrush and used it.' It does't get much better than that.

"Sabre whined, knowing Tiger was scared. Sabre listened. Sabre knew he had to comfort Tiger. Sabre let Tiger pet him." This almost reads like 'Dick and Jane' or 'See Spot Run'. We can go. We can go away in a boat. Away in a big blue boat.

I also had a letter written in the 'language of Terror Mountain'. I pretty much just hit random keys. The second word doesn't even have a vowel.
"Gherd sd ghet hojut? Yhf ghe E teg tdes se Terer Mountaine? Klie zev eghe. Ghte Julia! Klie ku klie! Ghde E bese zowe, beh, zed bakka ghabcii."

A last excerpt before we move on. This one's really original.
"‘Waitress, this potato is bad,’ he said. 
The shoyru grabbed the potato and smacked it.
‘BAD POTATO! BAD POTATO!’ she said. ‘If that potato misbehaves again let me know,’"

Garfield comic strip- 'Waitress, this potato is bad.' 'Bad potato, bad potato!' (smack, smack) 'If that potato gives you any more trouble, let me know.'
Garfield comic strip by Jim Davis. Does the gag seem familiar?


Tasmanian Devil

I don't have the entire story here. Mom was going to type it all up and save it, but apparently I got impatient and so she never got to finish. But this was written when I was probably nine or ten. In it, I had entered a school contest, and won a prize: to take a Tasmanian devil from a zoo home with me and take care of it over Thanksgiving break.
At the start of the story, I'm really excited about taking Taz home, and keep daydreaming during class. There's a lot of comedic occurrences stemming from this. I seem like the naughtiest kid ever, not paying attention, falling asleep, and blurting random things in response to my dreams. My teacher is exasperated with me that day, and when I'm sent to the office, the woman at the desk gets annoyed too. But since it's just a story, I don't get into very deep trouble at school, or with Mom for not telling her about the contest prior to trying to bring home a cage containing a wild animal.

"I got to my seat and stared at the bear on my teacher's desk.  It was in a shirt made from yarn and was mostly red.  At the ends of the sleeves, neckhole, and the other openings had green, and closer to the openings was yellow."
Kind of a wordy description here.

"At the classroom, my teacher was getting us ready to go.  We finally finished.  I picked up Taz's cage gently.  However, Taz woke up and growled.  I went outside.  Taz tried to get out.  Finding he couldn't, he growled and screamed.  He hopped about the cage, biting and scratching the cage.  He bawled and pawed at the cage."
Throughout the story, there's a lot of repeated words and simplistic sentences that could be combined. But what can I say, I was a kid when I wrote this.


Sparky

During junior high, I wrote a story about a puppy who's abandoned by his owner and becomes a stray. He befriends an older stray dog, who raises him and teaches him to survive. They later get captured and taken to the pound, where they're adopted and find a forever home.

"Suddenly, his master turned to Sparky, his cold green eyes cutting into him, and his black hair, which always had tons of hair gel in it, still unmoving as always."
Awkward phrasing in this sentence.

"He growled a fearful growl."
This isn't redundant at all.

"The dog wagged its bushy tail. The growling stopped. Gingerly Sparky sniffed the dog. The dog wagged his tail as Sparky looked up at him."
Lots of 'the dog' here. And 'the dog wagged its/his tail'.


Wolfgirl

This was my second novel attempt. I'd post the first one, 'Goldie', but I can't find it anywhere. I started this one in junior high, with the premise of a girl who gets lost in the woods during science camp, and is found and cared for by a wolf pack. Sounds suspiciously like a certain book I read. Hmm, what could that be...

'Julie of the Wolves' book by Jean Craighead George

Really, it's a copy of 'Julie of the Wolves', which had the same basic premise of becoming lost in the wilderness and being saved by a pack of wolves. Except 'Wolfgirl' had a less complex plot. But what can I say, this is my second novel attempt. It was also filled to the brim with tropes. Here a trope, there a trope, everywhere a trope, trope... Meowmocha had some tropes, why oh why oh why...

"Crystal Carson was the one girl in the school who was 'different' from all the others. While they played and had fun with their friends, she read a book. So they teased her.
They made fun of for everything. She read a book, they teased her. She got a question right, they taunted and teased. Everything she did was teased or made fun of. So, she had long ago learned to ignore them all."
Do you think they teased her? I'm not sure, that word didn't appear at all in the excerpt. The main character didn't fit in with the others, and only had one friend. Practically all the kids in her class were exaggerated super-jerks. The whole idea was poorly-executed. And this is before we've even got the poor kid lost in the forest.
And yes, there is a missing word in the second paragraph. Isn't it great?

"...things being thrown. One of them sounded like Cheryl's Game Boy hitting the floor."
Incredible how Crystal can distinguish between a Game Boy falling, and some other object falling, even though she wasn't looking.

As an added bonus, I also discovered I had a serious case of Excessive Adjective Syndrome in this story. Combine that with a paragraph I found, where a lot of the sentences begin with 'she', and you have an idea of what the story looks like.
I kept getting writer's block on the project, and eventually quit. It wasn't even that long when I abandoned it. And although I apparently deleted it, I recall an annoying scene where two kids got into a fight. I must have removed it sometime after the initial abandoning.


Stray

In my freshman year of high school, we were assigned to write a story that touched on the subject of animal cruelty. My short story was about a dog who has been a stray most of its life. Just like 'Sparky', the dog was abandoned as a puppy by being thrown out a window. Unlike 'Sparky', this one was incredibly dark and angsty, whereas 'Sparky' had more of a childlike innocence in it. The dog pretty much regards humans as the bane of existence, nothing but cruel.

Stray dog lying on concrete ground, sleeping with head pillowed on square-cut rock

"For the next few weeks I was a pitiful, pathetic creature, a helpless, dumb beast that was unable to fend for itself, eking out a meager existence in the cold, callous, unforgiving world of the death and of the cruel people."
A really long sentence, just over 40 words. It also has a lot of extraneous adjectives. Because I rock. And 'of the death', great wording here.

"I avoided the pound, the canid and felid prison, the sanitarium of the people’s sick wants."
I used 'canid' and 'felid' multiple times throughout 'Stray'. Apparently I was experimenting a bit in this story.

"I stepped on a cigarette for the eleven thousandth time plus an umpteen or five, burning my paw pads. I kept on, yelping, but quickly swallowing the yelps for they were weakness and weakness was poison."
'Eleven thousandth time plus an umpteen or five', such a great description. Notice also the cheery description of weakness and how it's poison. Needs some better sentence structure and commas, too.

The story was incredibly dark, and didn't have the strongest ending, either. A stray cat fought off a pit bull a guy set on the narrator, and it seemed to be the start of a friendship. The end. Nothing really got resolved.


The Egg

When I was around fourteen or fifteen, I wrote a story for school about a boy who steals something from a store, which turns out to be a dragon egg. Ring any bells? I later reread this story, decided to tweak some things, and it became the beginning of the 'Unlikely Rider' series.
The original story, written many moons ago, has some truly great writing. Below are a few examples.

"It looked as though someone had taken some old, broken, rotting boards and hammered them together with chunks of rust, then threw a pitiful excuse for a door into the wall, and stuffed a few dirty, broken windows into the boards. Some dusty, moldy, dirty furniture covered in cobwebs was there."
That first sentence, the one that makes up the majority of the paragraph, is 41 words. The paragraph also has way more descriptive terms than is really necessary. Adjective City, folks.

"A million years later, I was still walking. I tripped on a dumb rock. I tripped on a dumb stick. I got scared to death when something scuttled out from behind a bush, which turned out to be a dumb raccoon. I tried not to trip. With this thing in my pocket, I couldn’t afford to trip. It would break, and then I’d be back to square one."
'Trip/tripped' was used four times, and 'dumb' three times. There's three sentences in a row that start with 'I'. Plus, the passage in general is dull and lacking in variety. And did I mention the repetition of words and phrases?

Gilmore Girls GIF- It's repetitive. And redundant.

"I felt the opposite of claustrophobia. What was that word? I couldn’t remember. It didn’t matter. I felt scared. End of story. The end."
Give me strength.

As an added bonus, I'm seeing a lot of dialogue where, even though it's at the end of the paragraph, not even a dialogue tag or anything after it, the sentence ends with a comma. Plus there's a few typos.


Wolfgirl (again)

Welcome to the story of many drafts. I had an idea for a fantasy story, in which some kids find a portal to another world. I decided to incorporate this idea into my abandoned project, 'Wolfgirl'. Same premise of girl getting lost in the woods, but this time the wolves are actually from said fantasy world, and Crystal discovers they can talk.
This, my friends, is the early days of Talavcen. It wasn't called that yet, but the fantasy world of my current projects came into being when I began this story. This setting had some differences, however. I'll expand on that later.
So let's begin. Our characters are still in Wyoming, living in a fictional town conveniently placed next to a forest. After Crystal returns to her normal life, one of the wolves she befriended finds her again, and it becomes a regular thing for them to meet up on the outskirts of town. Said wolf later discovers the portal to the fantasy world by happenstance, and they begin exploring there. Over time, a few other people get thrown into the mix as the portal is found by more of them. Some of these visitors are part of a prophecy in the fantasy setting. I ended up having lots of characters and subplots as I developed the story further.
Let's explore this fictional region, shall we? The place is snowy year-round, yet I had some lovely evergreen forests. If anyone asks, the trees grow in permafrost because magic. The talking animals aren't called things like 'wolf' or 'bear'. Oh no, they needed names based on Latin. Wolves are lupuns, and bears are ursuns.
Also consider that people aren't native to Talavcen; those living in the fantasy world either came to love there, or their ancestors did. So the people in the Eastern Iceland (I was creative) were based on the Native Americans in Wyoming. At least, they would have been if I'd got around to doing research. Though the Western Iceland hadn't come into the story much yet, the portal there was connected to Alaska. Just in case the 'Julie of the Wolves' similarity wasn't great enough.

Excerpt- You dazzle me, girl, the way the sunlight shines on your fur, you make the snow look dull.
I also found this terrifically horrible start to a rap song. There was a wolf from the Wyoming pack named Nesquik (although the wolves avoided people prior to finding Crystal), who was supposed to fall in love with a she-wolf in the fantasy world. The lyrics seem so lame now.

So what happened to my dear 100k manuscript? Well, aside from the issues mentioned above, which I either ignored or put off until the story was abandoned, there were some great plot holes. I had a million subplots, characters, and points of view, which I was trying to juggle. There were a million characters whose long and involved backstories had to be told. And it seemed everyone had a tragic past. There was loads of filler at the beginning, where I described the kids' everyday life by writing boring stuff where nothing happened. The story had plenty of tropes and other issues. On top of all this, there was the writer's block that often came.


Witch in the Woods

This story was about a woman who lived deep in the woods with gryphons, and all the townspeople think she's a witch. A girl braves the woods and the witch in order to ask for something to cure her younger brother, who is deathly ill. She soon finds that the woman isn't a witch at all, but lives away from people because they don't understand her and shun her.
The whole thing screams of the Disney movie 'Three Lives of Thomasina'. The recluse who is misunderstood by people and thought to be a witch, and prefers to live in the woods. She relates well to animals, has knowledge in healing and remedies, and has a good heart. And what do you know, both my character and the one in the movie have a Scottish accent!

Scene from 'Three Lives of Thomasina'. Lori (the witch in the glen) holding a box containing an injured frog.
Has somebody brought you up here to be cured by the mad witch in the glen?
Eye of newt and hair of dog, give me the power to cure the frog. Listen. Magic. Off to my cauldron. Where is my broom?

Just to nitpick some more, there's a scene where she confronts the doctor, who's been extorting money out of people. She asks him, "If I am a liar, why is there fear in your eyes at my accusation?"
Sounds a lot like that scene in the second 'Princess Diaries' movie. "You will find that 'fear' is not in my vocabulary!" "Perhaps. But it's in your eyes."


I'll wrap this up now. That's more than enough horror, lameness, and fails for today, don't you think? But the good thing about looking back at your writing is, you can realize how far you've come from your worst disasters. And there certainly were a few of them.

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