Christine, Wondering

Random Musings of a Human Becoming

Saturday, August 23, 2008


This evening I've been trawling through all of my 'story' files - all the scraps of planning and snippets of plot I've gathered over the years, along with some actual WIPs that petered out. The reason for the rummaging was that I've been writing all of the different plot themes and good titles in texta on a big piece of paper which I've now pinned to the wall. I want to come up with a new idea and I think having all my favourite ideas visible in front of me will help.

Anyway, during my search I came across a few old WIPs, some dating back as far as 1996. I didn't even know they were still on my hard drive lol - I thought I'd deleted them long ago. As soon as I started reading, I started to giggle. There was some good writing in there, definitely. I showed distinct talent as a teenager. But, oh . . . the derivativeness! The Mary-Sues! The names! The sheer teenaged absurdity of the boy-girl interactions!

In the interests of fair play, I'm going to post a few excerpts from the various stories. They're painful in some ways, but I think the amusement value is sufficient . . .

These first excerpts are from a story which never really had a name (apart from 'mediaeval novel') but I slogged out a good 13,000 words of it in 1996-1997. I started writing it right after I first got my hands on a baby name book, so the names were . . . interesting.

Here's the first section. No prizes for guessing my age and appearance at the time of writing . . .

Princess Nadine of Radnor sat in her throne at the high table, and looked around the banquet hall.
Nadine was fifteen years old. She was very beautiful, with long, dark, brown hair and hazel eyes. She was quite small, but could be very imposing of manner.
She was the eldest child and heir apparent of King Warwick. She had a twelve-year-old sister called Alana, a similarly small girl with blonde hair, hazel eyes and a slender frame, to whom Nadine had been like a mother since their mother had died.
Their mother. Nadine thought about her mother as she sat regally in her throne. Queen Nellwyn had sat in this throne many times in the past, before her death from a pestilence seven years ago.

Nadine looked around the banquet hall again. When she looked down off the podium where she sat, there were always faces upturned towards her, eyes full of respect for their ‘almost queen’. That was what the folk of Radnor had decided to call her since she had taken over the state duties her mother had once performed.
Then there was the fact that this banquet was in her honour. It was a massive celebration to congratulate her on her betrothal.
She sighed. The significance of this celebration was not really the betrothal, but the fact that she and Prince Gerrard of Mansfeild, her husband to be, had realised what their parents had known all their lives.
Gerrard nudged her.
“What is the matter?” he asked her. “You sighed.”
“Oh, all this fancy nonsense is getting to me.” She gestured round the hall. “They already knew we would get married.”
“Hmm,” Gerrard replied. “Maybe we can get out of here in a while and go for a walk in the garden.”
Nadine gave him a sarcastic look.
“Do you think they would let us?”
“It was only a suggestion.”

A gong rang and the revellers below fell silent.
“It is now time for thee, my worthy subjects, to display thy loyalty to me as an exhibition of thy congratulations to mine daughter and son to be, Princess Nadine of Radnor and Prince Gerrard of Mansfeild.” King Warwick, Nadine’s father, announced grandly.
Below them, all the nobility in the crowd rose and lined up before them. Nadine rose and began counting off names in her head.
Count Orvin and Duchess Kestin of Ford,
Earl Fulton of Kenley,
Duke Malvin and Duchess Kyna of Guildford and, surprisingly, their daughter Aidan. Nadine and Aidan had fought over who was going to marry Gerrard and had not spoken to each other since last year.
“Aidan!” said Nadine, delighted. “This is a pleasant surprise!”
“Well, I thought I had better patch things up, since you were obviously right.”
“Thanks, Aidan.” They had to move on now, but Nadine made a mental note to speak to her cousin later.

Count Milbourn and Countess Meara of Crawford, and their three children Brooke, Elston and Irvette, Nadine’s cousins,
Lord Rhys of Harland,
Lady Faine of Cromwell, and her daughter Zenaida,
Lord Lancelot and Lady Athenais,
Her second cousin, Mitchell of Lindley, representing his parents,
Duke Lucas and Duchess Edon from the Island,...
The list, and the people, went on and on. By the time her youngest cousin, five-year-old Maidie of Ford, had lisped ‘Congratulations’, and everyone finally sat down, Nadine’s head was spinning.

“Maybe now we can go for that walk,” murmured Gerrard.
“Do not count upon it,” Nadine replied. “They may want us to make speeches.”
King Warwick stood up.
“On this day, forty years ago,” he announced, “two baby boys were born. One was born to Princess Holly of Mansfeild. This child was named Crosley. The other was born to Princess Farica, wife of Prince Macey of Radnor. This child was called Warwick.
“The grandmother of these two children, Queen Feena of Radcliffe, as the overkingdom was then called, was delighted. She asked the two mothers to raise the two cousins as brothers, and one day, if it were possible, to wed their children. Well, neither of those mothers are alive today to see it, but Queen Feena’s wish has been granted. The son of King Crosley and the daughter of King Warwick will be wed this Holy Sabbath.”
The whole crowd burst into cheers. Many of them would not even have listened, but they cheered anyway. Everyone was in high spirits.

Suddenly, there was a loud thump on the huge wooden doors. Everyone fell silent.
The hall was silent.
“Nadine,” said her father calmly.
Nadine nodded. She already knew the plan for an invasion.
“Alana,” she said, and her little sister was instantly by her side. “Take all the women and children to the women’s hall and bolt the door. Then distribute everyone between the smaller rooms and have them bolt the doors of those too. And I want you to be in there when those doors are bolted!”
Alana nodded and began to walk away.
“Aidan will help you.” Nadine called softly after her.
Alana went from person to person, steadily gathering a group of followers. Soon Aidan was doing the same.
Nadine turned and watched them file out the door. She wondered whether she would ever see them again. She watched the last of them vanish, then regretfully turned to face her King.

Meanwhile, King Warwick had turned to Gerrard, his face serious.
“Gerrard,” he said, “I know that you quite possibly want to stay here and see the action, but there is something you must do for me. There is a tunnel, that only your father, Nadine, your older brother and sister and I know about, or has your father told you about it?” He looked hopeful.
Gerrard nodded.
“The tunnel runs from Mansfeild Castle to the border, where it comes out on this side of the hill. An identical tunnel runs from here to the other side of the hill. The two tunnels join underneath the hill so you can change tunnels without being seen,” he recited.
“Correct. Our tunnel is disguised as a shed where an emergency horse is stabled. We take care that there is always a horse there. I want you to take the horse and, using the tunnels, get your father down here just as soon as you can. You go out through the kitchen to get there. Good luck.” The King cleared his throat gruffly.
Gerrard turned to Nadine.
“Look after yourself, Nadi,” he said. “I’ll be back.”
“You had better be careful,” threatened Nadine gently.
“I will.” Gerrard replied. Then he kissed Nadine and walked away.
Nadine swallowed, then lifted her chin bravely.
“I will retire to my chambers now, Father,” she said.
“Go, then, my child, and with my blessing,” her father gave the traditional answer.
Nadine turned to go.
“Nadine?” her father called her back. “Even if I am killed, and the castle taken, remember who you are.”
Nadine nodded, unable to speak, and left the hall.

Oh, deary, deary me . . .

Nadine is of course captured by the invaders after they kill her father (not without a spirited sword fight between the plucky Nadine and her adult male captor). Nadine is to be married to the invader's son, and she miraculously anticipates her captors' every thought and arranges to have Gerrard rescue her at the altar (while also correcting the behaviour of the captor's younger children, of course . . .). Nadine and Gerrard then get married and fall pregnant and Aidan also meets her true love, and then Gerrard's castle falls under siege . . .

There are also gypsies.


This next is a story about Danica, a young magician, who lives with her magician tutor, who is also her foster father. I wrote 6560 words of this one. In this scene, Danica has been captured by her very evil biological father (although he doesn't know that she is his daughter) and the equally evil arch-sorcerer. She is taken to a dungeon and menaced by her half-brother. Highlights are attempts at scary but sanitary dungeons, and the real name of the sixth sense.

When Logan said Danica was reeling, he was right. Every time she opened her eyes, stars that shouldn’t have been there swarmed in the path if her sight. After a few moments, the gave up trying to see and just kept her eyes shut. She heard many voices and felt herself being carried through a house - her feet trailed on hard floors. They went down steps, shaking her sore head almost unbearably. Hard, unsympathetic hands chained her to a wall - or it could have been a table... she didn’t know which way was up.
Then they left her alone. Danica wasn’t sure how long for; fifteen minutes to an hour was her vague approximation. Sometime during that time she opened her eyes.

The stars that shouldn’t have been there had vanished, but the sight that replaced them was not much better. Her captors’ dungeon was just that - a place of imprisonment and torture. Implements of pain lined a wall - Danica noticed thankfully, that wall was the one furthermost from her.

She was chained to a wall, as she had thought. No-one else was in the dungeon and no skeletons hung from the walls. ‘It might be scary,’ thought Danica, ‘but at least it’s well kept’.

Someone entered suddenly, and Danica snapped her eyes shut, hoping to convince them she was still semiconscious. She could hear someone breathing harshly. She tried to set a spell to ward off pain and was shocked to hear the wavering of failure. She tried again, with the same result. Danica was suddenly very afraid.

‘Power is internal and eternal. It cannot be lost, only blocked or masked’ Loros had said to her once.

The unknown breather chuckled next to her head, and Danica flinched involuntarily, ruining her semiconscious pose.
“Trying to magic your way out won’t help, little lady,” said the voice. A male, youngish adult. Self-confident and evil.
“Those chains have a spell on them. You can’t use magic if you’re in them,” he said. Danica would have cursed if she had not still hoped to fool the man talking to her

“My name is Kane, and I’d really like to know yours,” said the man. Danica ignored him. She felt the spell on the chains now, and knew with a sinking finality that she was helpless. The person who had set the spell was far stronger than Danica ever hoped to be... an arch-sorcerer. The spell also took away some of the sixth sense every magician was born with - the sense of spell.

“I’m waiting,” breathed Kane. Danica wondered if she should lie and get herself out sooner. But advice Kellan had given her many years ago stopped her. ‘Don’t lie unless you know every detail of the situation’. Danica had no idea of the situation - she knew lying could be fatal.

The sense of spell . . . *sporfle*

The last one is from a WIP from my teenage years, but the concept itself is older than that. The first iteration of this story is found in a notebook which I carried everywhere in my first few years of high school. I even made a padded cloth cover for it, as seen in a craft book. I started writing the story aged 12. It featured elves, secret worlds reached through a door in a tree, and a family of 10 princes and princesses, all of whom had gemstone names. It was desperately derivative of JRR Tolkien, Raymond E. Feist, David Eddings and Ursula LeGuin, with a touch of M.M. Kaye. This story was my passion at that age, along with clunky poetry hehe. It's been through many versions, and even now I occasionally revisit the idea and see whether I can re-jig it to suit audiences other than Christine Aged 12. I'm sure I'll get it out there one day - the basic idea is sound, I just need to break it out of its original box.

This version is about a 1997 vintage, I believe, although there are only a few minor alterations to distinguish it from the 1993 version. By this stage, the story had been set in an invented continent, where most places were named after my friends and family. Here, the 10 princes and princesses are picnicking in the forest and discover how to cross into the long-lost world of the elves.

One day, the children decided to go on a picnic. Very soon they were making their way through the Joneen Forrest that lay outside the palace.

They stopped in a little dell, farther into the forest than they had ever been. It was a lovely place, with soft green grass peppered with little flowers. Birds sang in the trees and the music of a nearby brook could be heard.

Diamanta often ‘played mother’ towards the other children, and today was no exception. She sat and watched to see that none of them got up to any mischief. None of the others knew why Diamanta did this - they never did anything mischievous anyway.

Christobel and Grace had brought little baskets with them, and were thoroughly occupied with picking flowers to take back to the castle. Paul and Carmen sat in a tree together, reading a book. The rest - Arren, Agate, Judith, Daniel and Willis - were soon involved in an active game of chasey.

A while later, Agate became bored of playing chasey and left the game. He explored, poking here and there. In one place he discovered a hollow full of violets, in another the tinkling brook. For a moment, he thought he saw a few fleeting figures running swiftly through the thick trees ahead. Agate had been told many stories of the forest and concluded that if he had seen people, they must have been elves. (As a matter of fact he was right, but that comes later in the story.)

Presently he began to hum a song of the elves, taught to him by his old nurse. He sang:

“Once when the wood was young,
And tangled branches gay and free;
Elves light of heart and foot,
Had nothing from which to flee.

None but they roamed the woods,
And trees were their lofty homes,
Many merry songs they sang,
In the woods where freely ‘magic’ roams.

Elisdelle! Elisdelle!
Your boughs once saw the merry elves,
Sad you must be now in the wood,
Where dark instead of magic dwells.”

Agate sighed.
I hope they were elves I saw, he said to himself. How wonderful it would be, if the elves returned to the forest!

Then he turned just a little and saw, in the trunk of an oak tree, a door!
“Everyone, everyone, come quickly!” He yelled. “I’ve found a DOOR!”
* * *
You may be able to imagine the excitement with which the other nine came running.
“Where?, Where!” they cried.
“Sh,” was all that Agate said.

As soon as they saw the door, a hush fell over the children. The door was tall and thin, but beautiful.
“Elves,” whispered Grace.
“Lets go through,” said Judith.
“Will it open?” asked Carmen.
“Try it,” replied Agate.
“Ooh! No! not me!” Carmen exclaimed.
“Well, who should open it?” asked Diamanta.
“Arren!” said Paul and Daniel as one.
“Me?!” Arren exclaimed.
“Yes, you. You’re the eldest.” said little Christobel, looking admiringly up at her eldest brother. Arren laughed.
“O.K., just for you, since you put it that way, Christy!”

“Well, come on, hurry up!” said Judith impatiently, stamping her foot. As she did so, her shoe rang on something. She bent and picked up a key, light and fair, and Elven. She gave it to Arren, plainly (and almost impossibly) overawed by the whole thing.

Arren looked very noble and kingly. He turned to the door and placed the key in the lock. It turned! The door swung open.
“O.K.” Arren said. “Lets go through.”

They looked around.
“Where are we?” asked Willis.
“I don’t know, next question,” replied Arren.
They looked around again. Suddenly a tall figure jumped up.
“Welcome to Eilsemorl, Royal visitors. Come,”
Mystified, the children followed.

Soon is became evident that they were approaching a dell*, which was shrouded in a light, twinkling mist. Through this misty curtain they could see figures moving. Two of them were obviously crowned.
Their guide stopped.
“I am an elf.” he said. “My name is Dodelel.”
Then they continued.

They were in some sort of city. Everywhere, among the trees, there were smaller versions of the mist-shrouded dell ahead. When Agate glanced up, he saw wooden platforms in the trees. Rope ladders allowed the elves to reach the platforms. The whole place was airy, light and glittering. The trees were Yrryn trees, such as are only found where elves have been. Agate had seen a few growing in the Joneen Forest, but there they were old and dying out. Here they grew beautiful, tall and strong. Their feathery, silver-white blossoms drifted down around the children as they walked.

As they reached the dell, the mist cleared. Dodelel stepped forward and knelt.
“My Lord, I have brought ten children from the Eilsedel; through the oaken door.” He rose.
The man wearing a crown stepped forward.
“Come forward, Children” he said in a kind voice.
“I am King Doriel.” he said to them.
“And I am Queen Alilithel” the crowned woman told them kindly.

Oh boy. The memories. The stereotypes. The cringe. The sheer childish pride I took in writing it!

The style does actually improve later on, as the characters move away from Disney sparkles and start to grow some distinguishing features. But the beginning . . . bahahaha.

If you've managed to read down to this point, thankyou for letting me indulge my amusement in the past. I scarcely dare to hope you enjoyed the excerpts, but maybe you've got a few sympathetic lulz out of them.

Weigh-in tomorrow, can't wait to see how much I've lost. Goodnight!


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