Thursday, December 3, 2009

What comes next or snippety snippets


I saw this boy hiking past a favorite boulder of mine on the local mountain I haunt. The light was
in the magic zone when gray and beige granite turns golden as the sun sinks toward the horizon.
I shot the picture (on my uber-cellphone) and remembered a character from my YA fantasy currently in revision repose. That's my new terminology for: I had to put it aside or go bonkers.
The character's name is Samuel and he is a 12-year-old with little education, strange speech patterns and a gift for storytelling. One of his tales is about a place called Thane's Tor. He and the novel's protagonist, Fiona, are searching for it. She asks why he is certain he will recognize that particular outcrop of boulders in the rocky terrain they are traveling.
"Simple as flatcakes. Ma telled me Thane's story many a time, and sometimes I took charcoal and drawed the creatures. That's how much I likes it."
Samuel settled back against a fallen tree trunk, ready to spin his tale.
"Once't long, long ago in the far, far-away north lived Thane, a giant amongst men. Now, Thane was a warrior-mage. He could heave boulders big as houses on his enemies and squash them like a worm underfoot."
Samuel stopped to tell Fiona an aside: "Me Ma never said that worm part. But I figured it out."

I'm interrupting this snippet to condense the story: Samuel describes a battle Thane has with goblins. Thane defeats them by turning boulders into beasts that crush the goblins "flat as slapped flies." The creatures, whom Thane changes back into rock, include a dragon-sized snake, enormous wolf, a bird-headed toad and a bunch of gingermen that resemble baker's treats.

"Now I gives you that gingermen do not sound so scary, but methinks if you had an army of gingermen tall as cottages, you 'ud get out the way."
(So on my hike, I think I saw the gingermen. Do you?)
When Samuel tells Fiona the beasts are still guarding Thane's Tor, she says it's just a story.
"Never is just a story. Ma was always a'tellin' me, 'Samuel, remembers you that a story is the bones of the past, and worlds are built upon those as was and ever will be.' The stories be all around just waiting to come alive, can't you see?"
Obviously, storytelling is on my mind. I loved a comment Neil Gaiman put on his blog. Someone asked what quotes he would like to see on library walls, and he said it would be the one every writer loves to hear from reader/listeners:
"...and then what happened?"

27 comments:

Stephanie Thornton said...

Isn't it interesting when a scene from our novels come to life in reality?

And I love that second picture- those boulders on top look like toes on the top of a foot-rock.

Bish Denham said...

I love your story snippet. I surely do want to know what happened next. As for seeing the gingermen, no so much, but I do see a dragon and/or a snake, and something else that kind of looks like a dinosaur.

Liza said...

I see a gorilla...but that's the fun of all this. We all see things (and write about them) differently. I loved your snippet...love the voice.

storyqueen said...

I love Samuel.

He is, in just a snippet, a very real, very alive character.

It is amazing how, in such a short snippet, you've given us so much.

Shelley

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Stephanie: Toes on a foot rock! Whoa, that's imaginative.

Bish: I love what people are seeing in those boulders, and thanks so much for wanting to know what happens. Sometimes a nudge is all we need. :)

Liza: Gorilla, well, maybe that's the rock that resembles a dragon head to me. This is fun, and thanks for the kind words.

Shelley: Oh, goodey, he's alive! Really, your words mean a lot to me today. Thanks!

Yvonne said...

Hi Tricia,
Yes, when I'm steeped in a character I see him/her everywhere. It's kinda like being pregnant and then noticing all these pregnant women!

I once drove a detour through downtown Detroit with ANTICIPATION because that was where my character grew up. It was the oddest thing....I wasn't nervous at all. I liked it. All the fear I would normally have felt was gone. That is just one of the reasons I love writing.

I love your boulder boy and your WIA sounds interesting.So what happens next?? ha

Your location reminds me of Palmdale where my sister lives. It is a fertile ground for writing. Whenever I visit I feel like my muse is exploding inside. Then I wonder about that....maybe it is just the different surrounding. I mean, wouldn't someone find my setting inspirational? That which I take for granted? The empty cornfields with their shorn husks lying on the ground, the black woods in the distance bare of leaves, the spattering of snow in the grass still green from summer...
Just a thought.

Andrea Cremer said...

I am stealing revision repose. It is one of the greatest phrases I've encountered, it must be mine. Mine!

CKHB said...

Dang it, I was coming over here to make your life difficult after your KRUMP suggestion on my blog... but then you have these gorgeous photos and evocative snippets...

...and then what happened?

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Yvonne: Ha, pregnant women everywhere. I know what you mean about being inspired in new settings or taking our own for granted. I saw a photo of a tiny village in the Himalayas and wondered if the people who live there become immune to the majesty that is their front yard. Perhaps they get used to it but still have ah moments.

Andrea: Glad you like it! I thought I had an original thought last night and was shocked to find revision repose on another blog this morning, so it may be just its time to come forth. It's a good fit, in my mind.

Carrie: Sorry, I just had to Krump ya. ;) Thanks for liking what you found. I'm still working on the what happened...

Robyn Campbell said...

I love this story bit. It makes me want more!! And more! Come on now. And what breathtaking photos. Did your phone take those? I wanna phone like that. Hey! Hubby!! Christmas is coming. WOOHOO. :)

Shannon O'Donnell said...

The boulders remind me of Rockbiter from The Never-ending Story. They look like Rockbiter with a pet rock dog. :)

Karen Amanda Hooper said...

I see gingermen in the boulders! Maybe even a gingerbaby. :) Thanks for sharring. Loved the snippet.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Robyn: Oh, yes, 'twas my cell phone. I still am amazed it takes pictures like that, and it's so easy to carry in a pocket. Thanks for wanting more of the story, always helps a writer keep going.

Shannon: Ooo, that's interesting. I'm going hunting for some pictures.

Karen: Oh, Yeah! You see the gingermen! Thanks!

Solvang Sherrie said...

Your cell phone takes much better pictures than mine does. I love that we can see your shadow on the rock. And that your character came to life. So, then what happened?

PJ Hoover said...

I love your snippet and I love that you have a favorite boulder. That is such a special thing!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Sherrie: It is a most excellent phone, indeed! And thanks for the interest in that story--I'm still working on it. ;)

PJ: You are so right, having a favorite boulder is a great thing. I love to walk past it when the light is golden like that, and sometimes in winter you see pink mountains beyond it. Ah.

Donna said...

You tell'em, Samuel.

Karen Denise said...

I see the Gingermen! At least methinks I do-lol. I love Samuel's voice. Hope you get back to it soon. I know how it is to have to walk away or go insane.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Donna: ;)

Karen: Yay, another gingerman sighting! I'm glad you like Samuel. He showed up in that story and quickly became a vital force.

Abby Annis said...

Great snippet! Lots of insight into your character with just a little bit of dialogue. He sounds very endearing.

I'm always seeing things that aren't really there. When I was a kid we had popcorn ceilings. I had a top bunk and used to just lay there, finding faces and creatures in the little blobs.

In the rocks, I see a dinosaur head, and two, maybe three people standing side by side (are those your gingerbread men?), and a gorilla, already mentioned by someone else.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Abby: Oooo, thanks! I like him, too.
You must have a great imagination to see things in a popcorn ceiling. :) I love that you saw images in the rocks. Yes, there are heads at the top that I think belong to gingermen. But since we are writers we can see what we please, in my opinion.

Terresa said...

As a Librarian and writer (and lover of story telling but just learning that craft), I enjoyed the Gaiman quote very much. He is one of my author heroes.

PS: Enjoyed the snippets from your book. I'm hooked...."and what happens next?"

Eileen Astels Watson said...

Very cool rocks. We don't have anything like that around here. You must love hiking there!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Terresa: Me, too--our hero Gaiman. I love his voice and diversity. Thanks ;)

Eileen: Welcome! It's so nice to see you here, and, oh yes, I love hiking amongst those rocks. I love walking by the sea and in forests, too. Give me a connection to the planet and I'm happy.

Shelli said...

our books mirrors life.

Lisa and Laura said...

Oh, that Neil Gaiman quote gives me chills. Perfection.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Shelli: indeed they do.

LiLa: He's the man, no doubt about it.