BONUS POST: Sebastian’s Gift

Merry Christmas everyone! Yes, I know it’s only Christmas Eve, but I felt I should offer a nice little Christmas gift from me to all of you. So I chose this little flash fiction to get us all in the holiday mood. I hope you enjoy!

 

Sebastian’s Gift by Megan Fatheree

It is true that destiny may not exist and fate is unkind to everyone, but as I sat in my flat that snowy Christmas Eve, I dared to hope that perhaps it would be kind to me.

I knew I wasn’t the most beautiful girl in London, or the kindest or the most promising in my field, but I wished for once that he would notice me.

By “he”, I of course meant Sebastian Edwards. Most people didn’t like him, and I could see why, sometimes. Sebastian was raised in a home without much love, so he was hardpressed to show affection to anyone. His circle of friends was very small, but thankfully included myself. He spoke his mind rudely on occasion, but all the same he had the kindest heart of anyone I had ever met. There was really only one problem. Sebastian never seemed to notice me.

I’m sure that to him I was just a pest. Someone who came in between him and his hobbies. I’m sure I always showed up at the most inopportune times, and his breeding wouldn’t allow him to throw me out. If he wasn’t such a gentlemen, I’m almost sure he would have.

That Christmas Eve, I dared to try to make an impression on his wandering mind. I had bought him a gift, carefully thought out and bought with money that I had saved for months. It was exactly the kind of thing he had insisted he needed not long ago. A gift that, I was sure, would please even the most cynical of men. That gift, in question, sat on the table in front of me, wrapped meticulously and awaiting a bow.

I tied the ribbon in a foolish way, the first time, and had to untie it and try again. It took me several tries to straighten it just the way I wanted. Then, carefully, I placed it in the bag containing presents for the others who would be attending Sebastian’s small gathering. His small circle of friends.

They were my small circle, as well. I don’t think Sebastian understood that I had as much difficulty making friends as he did. I had a good personality, everyone always told me so, but I had a tendency to hide it behind timidity and silence until I really got to know someone. Most people mistook it for coolness or aloofness and didn’t bother to try to make my acquaintance. Sebastian had stayed around long enough to find the heart of gold underneath. The heart of gold that I was sure he cared nothing for.

I sighed and, checking my appearance in the mirror before I left and adding some red lipstick, I set out for Sebastian’s flat, absolutely certain that nothing would make him see me. Though, looking back, perhaps fate had different designs in store.

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MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

BONUS POST: Forgotten Glory

Seeing as how Resurrection Sunday is fast approaching, I thought I’d share with you a short story I recently wrote on the subject. It’s titled Forgotten Glory, and is one of the works I’m very proud of. Please enjoy it, and share it with others this Easter season.

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Forgotten Glory

copyright 2015, by Megan Fatheree

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His sentence was set, and I watched them beat him again and again, stripping the very skin from the body he had chosen. He didn’t cry out, he didn’t try to run away.

They laid a cross on his back and demanded he carry it, though I knew he didn’t deserve it. He was blameless, and always will be. Yet he took it upon his shoulders and started that long walk to the destiny he had crafted with his own hands.

Along the way he faltered, and fell under the weight of his burden. A man stepped forward, chosen from the crowd, and stepped beside my Lord. With much exertion and a cry of a mortal’s pain, this man lifted the load I would have gladly carried. If only He would say something.

The Lord rose from where he had fallen and rested the weight once again on his shoulders. Even like this, his glory poured forth and touched the ones willing to receive.

The people threw words and launched their anger. I couldn’t understand how quickly they had forgotten all the things their Lord had done. How soon they had turned from his love and overflowing compassion to follow their so-called spiritual leaders.

Others joined me on the way to Golgotha, the Place of the Skull that should not belong to the one who made all of Heaven and Earth. Demons taunted, laughed, and those who had fallen long ago looked on without interest.

With each beat of the hammer that drove metal through his precious skin, a pulse propelled all of us forward. A host of heavenly warriors ready to battle. We would take him up, away from this earthly agony. If only he would say the word.

A sign above his head proclaimed his majesty, and still the people did not recognize him. They mocked him. They asked where we were, why he would not call on us to save him. And I didn’t see their beauty then. Instead of the masterpieces he had molded them to be, I saw only the Serpent, ruler of the mortal realms.

The sky turned dark as night, and thunder clapped in the distance. Lucifer himself arrived to see his great accomplishment.

The sin of all those he loved so dearly appeared to us. Each sin a blemish on his skin. One by one, we saw the sin of the past. The present. The future. A mountain of evil so vast, we could hardly bear to look at him.

“Where is your Father now?” Lucifer taunted, and a sneer distorted his beautiful face.

My Lord lifted his head and shouted through his pain, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

I leapt forward, ready to pull him from this cross, but the others held me back. “Why does he not say the word?” I screamed.

The humans below had not understood his agony, and they offered him the worst of their wine. Thunder cracked and lightning split the clouds, a brief reprieve from the opaque blackness surrounding him.

Then, in a moment of splendor, he gave one last shout. “It is finished!” he decreed, and we watched his spirit rip from its mortal confines.

Lucifer laughed and disappeared to his Hell, and the Demons danced with joy. The fallen ones turned and walked away. But they didn’t see what we saw.

For once in forever, all of heaven cried as we watched him release his mortal being. Rocks split open and the earth shook, crying out for the Messiah they knew. Tombs opened, the dead rose again, and those who had killed him fell to their knees. The curtain in the temple split, and we could hear it tear from miles around. His glory spilled from the Holy of Holies and flooded the entire earth. There was no more separation.

I looked on as a stranger laid the form in a borrowed grave, but I knew he wasn’t there. So I turned my eyes down and watched him descend to the very pit of Hell, where the gates swung open willingly.

Without a warrior in sight, he marched in to the place he had created for the fallen ones.

Lucifer cringed and cowered in fear, but my Lord reached out a hand. No argument could have been made. No agreement could have been reached. Even Lucifer recognized the authority of the Blameless One, whose spotless life meant He never deserved to die. An undeserved death that granted Him authority over the one who thought he had caused His demise.

The heavy keys of death and the grave jingled in His hands, and for one moment in time, all of Hell was silent. Every monster and sinner knew that Jesus had won, and they hadn’t even known there was a battle.

The gates slammed as He left them, and locked in finality. No longer would the Earth be without hope.

I watched him ascend, back to the Earth, and I knew the others saw too.

Spirit met flesh in a flash of blinding light, and the human guards couldn’t stand for the weight of His glory. We moved as one to surround the tomb, and I easily pushed the stone away from the entrance.

Not one of us stood as He stepped into the light of His own Majesty. We all knew the love that He had displayed. For a second time, graves split open and those thought dead rose from their slumber. Each one saw him and each one worshipped. No one would ever understand His great love and mercy better than those who had seen it that day.

As we watched Him ascend to greet His Father, all of heaven rejoiced in that love. For we knew He had defeated the chains of bondage and won freedom for all. We knew this wouldn’t be the last time He showed his glory to the humans He loved best. We knew we would see Him forever seated by His Father in Heaven.

And that he would come back again.

The Art of Illusion

You’ll hear me talk A LOT about how much more powerful it is to elude to something than to tell it straight out. To me, it’s almost as important as “Show, Don’t Tell” and quite honestly it’s probably technically covered in that statement. However, it seems some people just don’t quite get it. So let’s expound.

“The closer you look, the less you’ll see” is the theme of a fun little movie called Now You See Me. Most magicians use this trick. Why? Because it works. Magic is all about the art of illusion, and how do people refer to the best books and movies?

“It was magical.”

So let’s take the magician’s theme and apply it to ourselves, writers. There are several different things that demand a “far away” look when we’re writing. I’ll break them down for you and explain what I mean by “far away look”.

#1 – Character descriptions.

You know you’ve read an over expository character description before. “She had hair like… and eyes like… her teeth were… and her ears… don’t forget her hands… did I mention the exact clothes she was wearing?…” And suddenly we feel trapped inside a box. That’s not AT ALL how we pictured her (whoever she is).

When I write, I tend to give one or two traits of my character and leave the rest up to imagination. I’ve found I like this from other authors, which is why I try to follow their lead in my own writing. For example: my character Rosie Callahan, I only told the reader 2 things about her physical appearance. She’s 5’2″ and she has curly hair. I left the rest up to them.

I think you’ll find that if you stick to the important things about the character, like how they react to others and what kind of speech patterns they use, people will fill in the physical description without much help.

#2 – Back Story

I’m not saying don’t tell people what happened in the past, I’m saying expose it slowly. Have the character say something or do something that ELUDES to their backstory. They had a convict dad?

“I won’t be like him.”

Simple as that. And, yes, I’ve used that one. Another one I’ve used: The girl has a history of people leaving her without a word.

“Just… don’t leave without saying goodbye. Okay?”

Think through what your characters are doing. They deserve the thought it takes to weave their backstory in and out through their actions and words.

TIP: you have a backstory too, but you don’t tell everyone you meet. Everything that happened in the past is your backstory, and it reflects itself in what you do and say now, but not in an expository way. It is what it is, and nothing more. You don’t make a big deal about it. So why do your characters whine on and on about their past?

#3 – Relationships

This REALLY goes along with “Show, Don’t Tell”. The best advice I ever received on this subject was “loving someone means never having to say I love you.” SHOW that your characters love each other, or hate each other, or have known each other for a long time by what they do and say.

This all goes back to illusion. With vague answers and short flashes into the backstory, you’re giving the illusion of a full life behind the character, which in turn brings them to life. Why go into all that exposition when you can achieve the same thing by a simple flick of the wrist?

Remember, the closer you look, the less you’ll see.

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Did you like what you read today? Do you have questions, comments, or cat-killing curiosity about something? If so, please either comment on this post or visit the Contact page and drop me a note!

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Perception Filter

An interesting concept, to be sure. I read once (and also heard someone speak on the fact) that everyone views life through their own perception filter, even without realizing it. What is a perception filter, you ask? It is a culmination of your entire backstory.

So why am I writing about this? Because it’s the same for your characters. Their backstory will affect their perception filter, the way they see the world. So many things come together to make this, that it’s best if your really know your character’s backstory, so that you know how s/he will see the things around him/her.

Let’s talk backstory, then.

For the beginning of this lesson, (and yes, it is a lesson) I will refer back to the crazy people known as fandoms that I mentioned in my first blog post. They’re really very helpful when it comes to teaching about writing, and I’ll tell you how. Without realizing it, those crazy people expose just HOW MUCH work went into writing those books and movies. I won’t go into all the details here (maybe in a later post, we’ll talk about fandoms) but I will use a few examples of what I’ve seen these people write that lends itself to backstory.

Example #1 – The Avengers/Loki fandom

One of the craziest fandoms out there. (Seriously. Don’t make them mad, they may maul you) However, they have great insight into Loki’s backstory in Marvel’s The Avengers. They wonder about where he went after the first Thor movie, and they deduce that he’s been through something terrible to make him so mean (their words, not mine). How did they get this much backstory on him, even though he didn’t say a word about it?

Insinuation.

Insinuation is your friend. Love it. Cherish it. Keep it close. Just because you know every single detail about your character’s backstory (which, by the way, is simply everything that happened before the book begins), doesn’t mean you have to tell the readers.

In a novel I wrote during NaNoWriMo last year, the following conversation happened.

“You’re wondering if there’s anything you could have done different, and you’re blaming yourself.”

“How could you possibly know that?”

“Because I do!” She crossed her arms and set her jaw.

Liam stopped to think, and finally came up with one question. “What happened to you?”

“Life.”

I didn’t tell you anything about what happened in her past, but look closely at the dialogue. She never addresses the questions head-on, and she never says what she’s really thinking. However, her comments lend themselves to her backstory. I personally think (but I could be biased) that her last statement, “Life”, denotes a tough experience she’s had in her past. I never say as much, but it is insinuated!

Example #2 – The Frozen/Disney Princesses fandom

Okay, not my favorite movie, you can like it if you want, Disney and I just don’t always get along.

Moving on.

Disney did a very clever thing when they (either on purpose or accidentally on genius) made the backstory to their movies connect. I put this under the Frozen Fandom category, because that is when people stood up and took notice.

More than one person has pointed out that the ship that Elsa’s parents are in looks exactly like the one in The Little Mermaid, and that Elsa and Anna’s mother looks eerily similar to the queen from Tangled.

When character’s backstories connect, it brings yet another depth to your writing. That guy she runs into, maybe she’s met him before. That coincidental witness, maybe s/he knows the villain. Things get interesting when characters know things about another character’s backstory that they shouldn’t. Try it some time.

Okay, so I know I started out talking about perception filters and kind of digressed from there, but now I’m back.

Reasons you should see life through your character’s eyes, not your own: 1) it brings them to life, 2) it makes them more credible, 3) your readers will go gaga for someone with his own, realistic world views.

But, how do you know how to build your character’s perception filter? Glad you asked! I have a list for you.

backstory
Look! A list! Kind of a worksheet, but trust me, it’ll be fun! Go ahead and download it.

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Did you like what you read today? Do you have questions, comments, or cat-killing curiosity about something? If so, please either comment on this post or visit the Contact page and drop me a note!

It was good to have you as a visitor today! Please drop by again, or become family by following the Write Knowledge. Thank You.