Success only flourishes in perseverance -- ceaseless, restless perseverance.
--Baron Manfred Von Richtofen

Friday, June 18, 2010

Breaking the Rules Blogfest (well, this is embarrassing)

Stay tuned for the 200+ followers celebration coming shortly!

The fabulous Elizabeth Mueller is hosting the Breaking the Rules blogfest today, in which we get to show off our early attempts at writing when we didn't know, or didn't care about the rules. Here's an excerpt from one of my early short stories in which I ignore the show-don't-tell rule,and it's a flashback no less:

The day had been one of those perfect spring afternoons, sunny and warm and bright.  Carly could remember how the grass and the sky had gleamed with vibrant color as she watched Jakey run around on the lawn chasing rainbow colored soap bubbles and laughing.  Laughing and running. 

And running and screaming when the aliens' android soldiers had come crashing around the corner and ransacked the street, searching the houses for children.  Then it seemed that everyone was screaming.  Mothers and fathers chasing after their children.  The teachers from the school across the street.  But worst of all, the screams of the children themselves, as they watched the soldiers shoot down their parents and teachers with their deadly rifles that turned the adults into twisted masses of melting, burning flesh before the children's innocent eyes...

They didn't know why the Invaders' soldiers had taken all the children, but it was rumored that the Invaders (who apparently couldn't stand earth's atmosphere themselves) intended to make brainwashed slaves of the children, who would willingly and gladly mine all the earth's resources for the murdering Invaders, once the aliens had rid the world of their parents.  Carly thought she would rather see Jakey dead, than think of him as a slave for those monsters.
Yikes, huh? Would you rather see it in scene instead of summary? I took this story back out a while back and rewrote it entirely. It went from a 2300 word telling-fest to a 23,000 word novella. Here's the redo of this scene, not shown in flashback. (Jakey got his name changed to Caleb):

Carly Emerson sat cross-legged on the grass on a bright Indian summer day in Provo, and blew a long stream of soap bubbles into the air. Two-year-old Caleb laughed with delight. He stretched his pudgy hands over his head and skipped across the front lawn, under the shade of the cottonwood tree, chasing the bubbles as the sweet September breeze lifted them up and out of his reach. Carly laughed, too, watching him. The bubbles glimmered with iridescent rainbows.

Carly sent another lazy stream floating in Caleb's direction. A rumbling arose like distant thunder. It couldn't be thunder, though. Not from a sky as endless blue as this one. The rumbling went on. Carly swiveled to look over her shoulder, but could see nothing.

"More bubbles, Mommy!" Caleb shouted. Carly obliged, but uneasiness marred her enjoyment. Caleb's giggles clashed against the growing thrum of . . . something. Carly stood up. It sounded like an army of heavy machinery approaching. Something wasn't right. She started toward Caleb.

Screams and cries and the sharp crack of gunfire arose in the distance.


He was at the far edge of the yard. Carly dropped the bottle of bubbles and ran toward him. Her only thought was to get him inside.

"Mommy!" He ran with his arms outstretched, his face twisted with fear.

Giant metallic men, pitch black and faceless, came pounding around the corner onto their little street. There were a dozen or more of them. They carried weapons Carly didn't recognize. Some of them carried children; shrieking, frightened children. She saw little Ethan Parker among them, from the next street over. Her gut twisted with primal fear. They had nearly reached Caleb.


She almost had him. Her fingertips brushed against his waist as a cold, dark hand closed around his arm and snatched him away from her. "Caleb!" She couldn't think, couldn't breathe. His terrified cries shattered her heart.

 She started to run after him, but the great black soldier was already beyond her. Another of the soldiers swung its weapon in her direction. She dropped just as it fired. A tree limb cracked and fell, smoldering, beside her. The leaves and branches came down on top of her. She threw her arms over her head, waiting for another shot, but it didn't come. The tumult quieted as the unnatural soldiers moved on. She couldn't hear Caleb crying anymore. He was too far away. She'd never get to him now. A crushing weight of pain held her in its grip. She curled into a ball against the tree limb, pressed her face into the grass and prayed to die.
A little better, I hope! Be sure to check out Elizabeth's site to read the other participants' broken rules moments.


elizabeth mueller said...

You are so awesome to post the before and after! That's wonderfully written.

Just about the piece:

How dare you make me cry!!! >(

I don't like to read stuff like this because I love kids so, so very much.
Was the mom able to save her little babies????????
Tell me!

I guess rules do help our writing, hu? *Sigh* I guess I should put my straight jacket back on. ;) j/k

Melissa said...

I'm in shock. The improvement in this is outstanding. It's amazing how following those rules can improve our writing.

This after is incredible. The description is gorgeous (favorite line - iridescent rainbows in the bubbles!). The emotion is tangible. And the effect is staggering.

Truly a beautiful piece (after). But I need to know...does she save her little Caleb!!!

Aubrie said...

The second excerpt has so much more showing and no telling. I love seeing how writing evolves like this. Great job, Angie!

Anonymous said...

Oooh, nice job! Sounds like a great story!!!!

Courtney Barr - The Southern Princess said...

Okay LOVE the before and after concept. WOW! I am impressed with the changes and how well it all came together.

Wonderful job!

Loved it!

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Sangu said...

Awww I loved seeing how much better it was in the 'after' section! Improvement is such an encouraging thing, don't you think?

Raquel Byrnes said...

Its amazing how just a few tweaks can really change the tone and pace of a scene. What a tense situation!

Tessa Conte said...

Wow that was amazing...the contrast between before and after is great!

RaShelle said...

Yeah, you rock! So now I need to know the whole story. Does she save her son? What the heck happens? Details please.

tiffany said...

im very impressed loved it & i love the new layout & blog look its very nice i love the header too amazing

tiffany said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Babydoll said...

Loved, loved, LOVED the before and after! Amazing! And definitely a story I could get into! Now I want to go rewrite MY entry. LOL! Great story and I want to know the rest!

Angie said...

Thank you all so much for your kind comments. I am glad to know that you'd like to know more. I sincerely hope you get a chance to read the whole thing. It's been submitted, so here's hoping it gets accepted!

Suzie said...

You should have warned us! *side note... gonna make you snivel like a baby*... something!!

Fingers crossed for your submission. It's very emotional. :)

Dawn Embers said...

Nice! There is quite the difference between the two. Is it bad to start with flashbacks? I guess I could get why if so, but never do many flashbacks ever. I do like the drama put forth and do think it's much better in the second one. Good job with your blogfest entry.

Donna Hole said...

Eek; sorry hone, but that first was aweful. A word vomit.

But it had its purpose: no matter how badly written, the concept had to get written down. You can't work with something and improve it if you don't. We all gotta start somewhere.

Your revised version beautifully illustrates how well your writing skills have developed. Nathan Bransford had a post not long ago asking if one could learn to be a writer, or if its a talent you're born with. I believe its both; you need the spark to learn to write well.

Even in the first version, your story telling skill evident. The imagery was intense, vivid. The fear and anxiety you were aiming at was clear. The emotion was overwhelming, but there.

Thanks for sharing both versions. That was an excellent idea.


Lilly Jones said...

Wow, this was a great piece & the difference is so clear between the two versions.

I confess that I just write whatever comes to mind & post the raw version straight out of my head. I haven't made the time to actually study writing yet, but I will, because I know that the rules matter. Once I get past this period of my life, I hope to begin to concentrate on my writing.

Thanks for the continued inspiration. Now, how may I read the rest of this novella?

Stay blessed.

Angie said...

Thanks, Lilly. Keep going with your writing! I sure hope the novella will be accepted for publication. Keep your fingers crossed!

Andrew Rosenberg said...

The first is pretty poor, and the second has bits of telling in it and it's a bit melodramatic but it's a definite improvement.
Those stupid robot invasions ruin everything!

Nishant said...

Just about the piece:
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Terry W. Ervin II said...

I've been going to say this for a while...I really like the new pic at the top of your blog, even more than the previous--which you know I liked.

Angie said...

Thanks, Terry. I'll be sure to tell my husband. He's the one who took it. I really like it too. :)