novel-excerpt

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Some excerpts

Published November 18, 2019 by Iphis of Scyros

I haven’t gotten too much further today, though I did decide to switch the POV character at the beginning of the next chapter, which allowed me to describe my primary heroine, Merlynne Jones.  It wasn’t a huge description, but it let me establish that she isn’t one of those cookie-cutter pretty girl leads.  One of the other characters, had described her as “barely below average,” and I went ahead and established that yes, she really is “below average” in that regard.  (But the secondary heroine is still into her anyway.  But Merlynne is asexual, so…)

Anyway, I thought I’d share the passage I was talking about yesterday that I was so proud of.

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Current WIP – First Class

Published June 25, 2016 by Iphis of Scyros

Yeah, no one seems to have read the first excerpt, but I’m going to post another one.  Because.

Actually, I have a good reason:  the opening I posted because I was hoping someone might tell me how to make it less lame, but this one I actually like.

It’s not necessary to read the previous excerpt, I think.  All you need to know going into this is that the narrator is a 95% closeted homosexual man named Ashley, in love with his (straight) best friend, Paddy, who has no idea he’s gay.  (Okay, actually a lot of that information doesn’t come up in this excerpt…)

Oh, I’ve bleeped out the swearing with asterisks, because I’m not comfortable swearing on my blog, despite how much I swear in real life.  Some of the names aren’t fixed yet:  the college president’s is a temp name, as is “Julia”, who hasn’t even got a last name yet, having been saddled temporarily with [lastname].

As always, please be aware that this is the very rough first draft, okay?


Do you know why Raiders of the Lost Ark immediately became one of my favorite films of all time?

No, it’s not because I was hot for Harrison Ford, though he is pretty sexy in the role.  It’s because of that classroom scene at the beginning, with all those girls gazing dreamily at a man who is utterly uninterested in them.

Because that was my life.

Not that any of my students ever wrote “I love you” on their eyelids.  Too subtle for those girls by far.  I wouldn’t have put it past them to write it on their breasts, though.  (Well, it was the ‘80s…)

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Current WIP Excerpt – Opening

Published June 22, 2016 by Iphis of Scyros

Well, it may be a mistake, but I’ve decided to post the opening of my WIP.  It doesn’t currently have a title — it probably never will have one, since it would only need one if I ever tried to publish the finished product — and it’s probably going to suck just as hard as everything else I’ve written, but I feel like there are quite a few good bits so far, and I’m going to post those later on.

The opening…well, it’s not bad.  Not by my standards.  It’s a bit awkward, though, and a bit…almost argumentative.  (Given my narrator’s character, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.)

I’m a little unsure about the way I handle the lists right at the start.  Feels a bit cheesy, but “1. Once” would feel pretty cheesy, too…


Excerpt:


1ce upon a time, there was a beautiful girl.

2 She was being abused and/or was very unhappy.

3 A handsome prince rescued her.

4 They fell madly in love.

5 The end.

There’s a whole slew of fairy tales that follow that outline, though sometimes steps three and four are reversed.  The motif infected other genres, always following the two cardinal rules:  the lovers must be young and beautiful, and they must decide they’re in love almost immediately upon first meeting.  (And don’t think high literature is exempt from this dreck.  How long did it take Romeo and Juliet to decide they were in love?)  Hollywood inherited the outline and embraced it with considerable verve, though they did eventually add a slightly improved variant:

1ce there was a good-looking boy.

2 He set his heart on a beautiful girl way out of his league.

3 He almost won her love…

4 …but then he lost it again.

5 Then he decided he loved the girl next door better anyway.

6 The end.

Yeah, it’s better since “the girl next door” is often his “best friend” at the beginning of the picture, but it’s always hampered by the fact that she’s either so hot that it’s utterly unrealistic that he’d bother looking any further than her in the first place, or the filmmakers work to make you feel like he’s “settling” for her and could really do better.  (Sometimes they break their backs to do both.  And that absolutely should not be possible.)  And, bottom line, it still gives you the message that love is based on physical attraction, and that you can decide you are or aren’t in love overnight.

Now, I won’t lie.  Physical attraction is very important to love.  Maybe it’s even at the center of it.  But not everyone sees the same things as attractive.  Sure, we follow what society tells us to a certain degree, but we don’t follow that far.

You’re probably wondering why I’m telling you all this.  Well, it’s because I want to do my part to fight those outlines.  I want to tell you a story where that isn’t the case.  Love based on a moment’s glance at a pretty face is doomed to failure, but love based on a lifetime of friendship…well, that’s another matter altogether, isn’t it?

So if you want a story about a girl who sighs “I knew the moment I saw his face that we were destined to be together forever!” and is never proven wrong, I suggest that you put this book down and go look for another one.  There’s lots of ‘em out there.

What kind of book is this?  Well, it’s the kind filled with words.  Currently in English.  (I could translate it into ancient Greek or Latin, if you’d like?)  And in those words is a story.  Is it a true story?  Well…basically, but in the Dragnet sense of “the names have been changed to protect the innocent.”  And it was more than twenty years ago, so I’m fudging some of the dialog, I’ll admit it.  Maybe a few people got combined into one, or split into mulitples.  Or whatever.  But at the core, it’s a love story.  And an anti-love story.

And it’s a story about collegiate finances, if you’re into that.  (Is anyone actually into that?)

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A ludicrous number of references in a short span of time

Published November 26, 2015 by Iphis of Scyros

Well, okay, it’s a ludicrous number of references compared to my usual fiction, which tends to be either fantasy or set in the Greek heroic period; in both cases, my ability to reference modern culture is between limited and impossible.  I’d had references at various places earlier in this year’s NaNo novel, but never to this extreme before.  The character introductions from the Missing Letter Monday excerpt and yesterday’s excerpt will be needed to understand who the characters are.  Oh, and you need to know that Frank, the pilot, was just returned to them, but due to the odd effects of the air on this island, because he couldn’t be healed in the first week, it will take years for his wounds to heal.  (I know, that makes no sense out of context.  But it does make at least semi-sense once it’s fully explained.  Not that the characters have learned that explanation yet.  They may not even learn the explanation before November ends; it’s the 19th today, and they’re nowhere near learning it.)  The “stack” in Caesar’s hands is a stack of items that Mel brought when she was accompanying the return of Frank, but there was a bit of a quarrel and she left without explaining what they were.  They’re flat, thin, rectangular objects about the size of the front cover of a book from the Loeb Classical Library.  (But less colorful.  I didn’t specify their colors, but they’re either white, black or gray.  Something very dull.  No green or red here.)

Oh…Aiko hasn’t come up in the other excerpts, has she?  She’s the AI in the computer that runs pretty much everything on the island.  (Hence her name “Artificial Intelligence Child”, using the kanji “ko” for “child” while also giving her a genuine Japanese name.  It works so neatly that I must have actually encountered it somewhere else and forgotten about it:  no way I could come up with something that slick on my own.)  She’s only discussed in this excerpt, but I’ll go ahead and quote the description when Ashley first encounters her (while his shoulder still hasn’t healed up yet):

Forcing himself to his feet, Ashley decided he was going to inspect that picture. It was definitely odd somehow. Lurching from one piece of furniture to the next, Ashley made his way over to the wall, leaning his good shoulder against it for support. By the time he got there, the image had changed to a view of the island, this time from directly above, giving a good view of the sealed caldera of the volcano in the center.

“What the **** is going on with this picture?!” he demanded. The frame was nothing special, just a thin, flimsy-looking black frame, without any kind of ornamentation.

“It’s on screen-saver, of course,” a girl’s voice replied, seeming to come from the picture itself. It sounded like the one that Mel had been talking to earlier.

“What the…!!” Ashley tried to step away from the wall, and ended up on the floor.

The girl’s voice laughed at him, and the image of the island faded away to show a girl of about eight years, in a plaid dress with frilly lace around the edges. The girl had very European facial features, pale skin and blue eyes, but long, lustrous, straight black hair, the type that Ashley associated with Asians. From the lacy ribbon in her hair down to her black-and-white striped socks and her platform Mary Janes, there was something about her that just felt off. She was standing against a pure white background — so pure white that Ashley couldn’t tell where the floor ended and the walls started.

“Who are you?” Ashley asked.

“I’m Aiko, of course,” the girl answered, her head tilting to one side. Above her head appeared the letters ‘AI’ followed by a Chinese or Japanese letter. “Who are you? And why are you on the floor?”

“I’m Ashley, and I’m down here ‘cause you scared the **** out of me.”

“You shouldn’t swear like that,” Aiko reprimanded him. “It’s rude.”

Aiko is totally voiced by a Vocaloid, btw.  Probably MAYU.  (Which tells you a lot, if you happen to be familiar with Vocaloid, but next to nothing otherwise.)  Thought I should mention that because it means her speech feels a little awkward and unnatural, but the men hearing it don’t know why, and can’t quite even put their finger on what’s wrong with it.  (I think that’s not mentioned until Paddy comes to hear her, or the similarly Vocaloid-voiced menu when he calls the kitchen to order dinner.  Uh, not that it would literally be Vocaloid in the far future.  Just something like Vocaloid.  (I guess that makes them UTAU, lol.)  But so I hear Vocaloid speech when I’m writing the dialog of the artificial characters.  The menu, btw, got KAITO’s voice.  Lucky menu!))

As in the previous excerpts, I haven’t edited this apart from self-censoring the hard swearing, and maybe correcting a few words with squiggly lines under them in the composition window.  (Though sometimes words have squiggly lines because they’re dialect, or at least just conversational, and sometimes they’re proper nouns from books I haven’t read so I’m not sure what the right spelling is.  *ahem*  I’m a bit ashamed of that…)

Warning:  this is a pretty long excerpt, and the good stuff is towards the end.  But…well, actually, I like all of it.  (For once, I was actually forced to — gasp! — describe things!  Not that I’m very good at it…)  Oh, we’re in Paddy’s head this time, so it always says “Ashe” instead of “Ashley.” Read the rest of this entry →

The oldest NaNo quote ever?

Published November 25, 2015 by Iphis of Scyros

It’s not quite a Words Crush Wednesday quote, but I wanted to share another bit from my NaNoWriMo novel.  (This post, btw, is being pre-written on the 12th.)  Within this fairly lengthy snippet (it could have been a lot shorter, but these felt like the ideal starting and stopping places) one of my characters quotes something published in 17 BC.  (Untranslated, mind you.)  If I had time for the NaNo forums, I would totally go ask there if anyone has ever put older words in their NaNo novel.  (Probably a few have, but I would think that most things that old being quoted are in translation only, y’know?)

I think the only thing to be set up — beyond everything in Monday’s excerpt — is that Ricki is a teenage girl from the mid-1980s.  (Or possibly late 1980s.  I tend to go on my memories of the era in describing her outfits, so my initial thought that she would come from 1986-7 may be wrong.  She may be from more like 1989.)  The soldiers are being held in a quarantine zone, and earlier Ricki brought them their vaccinations, which Sergeant-Major Fleischer refused to take…until Caesar injected him with it anyway (fancy futuristic replacement for a syringe that’s a lot less complicated to use) which made Fleischer so exceedingly angry (and violent) that Ashley punched him out to make him shut up.  (Though Ashley hadn’t actually expected him to go down in one punch…)  Oh, one more thing about Ricki.  Caesar and Timmy are both interested in her — especially Caesar — but so far she has mostly spent her on-page time flirting with Ashley, despite that he’s extremely not interested.

Actually, you know what, let me quote part of Ricki’s first appearance before I move on with the main excerpt:

Now that Ashley could see her up close, she seemed to be about sixteen or seventeen, and her ‘dress’ was actually a very long neon pink T-shirt that extended down a bit past her hips, worn over a pair of opaque tights with a pocket watch pattern in loud colors that clashed with her shirt atrociously. Her hair was mostly blond, except for about half an inch or so of brown at the roots. Her bangs were teased up in the most appallingly unappealing manner.

I had a pair of tights like that, btw.  It was watches and ribbons on a nebula-like starfield pattern.  Actually a really cool pattern; I wish I’d kept them.  I wore them with a huge black sweater, rather than a long pink T-shirt, but this is a tropical island, so a sweater would be too hot.  Bizarrely, I’ve yet to discuss her partially grown-out bleach job.  I meant for Ashley to make a (thoughtlessly rude) comment about it early on, but somehow it hasn’t happened yet.

Also, I should probably explain that they were given a fenced in region containing bungalows for them to live in while on the island.  (The fence being locked while they’re in quarantine, naturally.)  There were enough bungalows for every man to have his own (including an empty one for the pilot once he recovered) but one of them had been trashed inside by a six foot tall boar (seriously; you’ll learn more tomorrow) so Ashley volunteered to share with Paddy.  They first met Ricki when they snuck out on the second night, at which time it was explained to them by her and by Mel that they were being quarantined until such a time that the robotic patrols would no longer view them as interlopers and cut them to ribbons.  (There’s more to it than that, but that’s the gist of it.)  They don’t like it,  but since it’s only for a week, they’re just putting up with it.  Besides, they’re cushy places, with absolutely any food they want delivered straight to their doors, for free, at any time of the day or night.  Though because of something Ricki said, they’re abstaining from meat, just in case.

As with the previous excerpt, this has not been edited, apart from removing the hard swearing, and correcting any words I notice having a red squiggly line under them.  (But I may well have missed some, so please don’t pay too much attention to my spelling, okay?)  Oh, we’re in Ashley’s POV again, btw.  (So far, I’ve just been bouncing back and forth between his and Paddy’s POVs.  Shortly I’ll also add Ricki as a POV character, for some variety.  And to get out of sweaty male minds…) Read the rest of this entry →

Missing Letter Monday – No “Z”

Published November 23, 2015 by Iphis of Scyros

This week for Missing Letter Monday, you’re getting a bit of a look of what I’ve been grinding out this month for NaNoWriMo.  Please keep in mind that the following excerpt is entirely rough; there has been no editing (apart from replacing a few words that had the forbidden letter in them) and the only spell-checking I’ve done is whatever I’ve noticed here having red squiggly lines under it.  (I turned off the red squiggly lines on my word processor ages ago…)  I’ve also done absolutely no research, so if anything doesn’t jive with 1970s speech, and/or the Vietnam War and the military mindset in general, well…what can I say other than “sorry about that”?  If the finished product seems good enough to bother trying to polish up (unlikely, considering that I’m the one writing it) then I’ll do some research and fix up all that stuff.  (Both NaNo and this novel were last minute decisions this year, so there was no chance to do research beforehand.)

The cast:

  • Ashley Pendleton — Our protagonist…essentially.  He’s more beautiful than handsome, and skilled at everything he does.  (In my own defense, he originated in another book, where he was literally the reincarnation of Achilles, so being beautiful and the best at everything was part of the job description.)  He has flame-red hair, blue eyes, and…uh…that’s about all I’ve figured out about his appearance, really.  If he wasn’t in the army, his hair would be in a nice long late sixties/early seventies style, with lots of pretty curls, but since he is in the army, he’s got a crew cut, which he hates.  (Though I’m not sure if the fact that he hates his haircut has come up yet at this point in the story…)  He’s from Detroit…sort of.  It was a random choice when he was just a dead backstory character for that other book; now that he’s the lead, I’m not sure it’s a good idea for him to come from a city I’ve never been to and know nothing about…although I’m not sure his home town really has any impact, since he doesn’t go there at any time during the book.  (It’s still a work in progress, after all!)  He’s twenty, almost twenty-one.  He’s quick to anger, and fiercely loyal to his friends.  Or to his best friend, anyway. (His loyalty to his other friends has not been tested yet with this version of the character; I’m not entirely sure how he’ll react when the time comes.  His new personality is still forming.)  He also frequently displays tunnel vision, ignoring everything outside his core focus.
  • Paddy Morris — Our second protagonist.  He’s also very handsome, and very talented at everything, if not quite as good as Ashley.  He’s the only person allowed to call Ashley by the nickname Ashe.  (And yes, I’m aware that the nickname is usually not spelled with an “e” when it’s being applied to men.)  When Ashley was drafted, Paddy volunteered and somehow managed to pull the right strings to be put in the same unit with him, so that he could watch Ashley’s back and make sure nothing happened to his best friend; he’s that devoted in his friendship.  (I have no idea if it would actually be possible for him to arrange to be in the same unit with Ashley, but…both their fathers were heroes in WWII, so…)  He’s twenty-one, but only barely.  (The quote doesn’t get to the part where the year is mentioned, but it’s 1970.)
  • Sergeant-Major Julius Fleischer — Everything about this guy’s name is temporary.  Particularly the Julius part; it might be too on-the-nose.  (It hasn’t come up yet, but he’s into ancient Rome the way Ashley is into ancient Greece…a fact which also hasn’t come up yet, come to think of it.)  He’s the typical fictional sergeant, really:  shouty and perpetually annoyed by our hero.  (Has there ever been a work of fiction where the NCO in charge of the hero actually likes him/her?)  He’s older than the regular troops; currently, he’s about 35, but maybe that’s too old?  (I have no idea…)  I have not figured out what he looks like; presumably nothing outstanding in either a good or a bad way.
  • Timmy Johnson — Okay, the “Johnson” part is definitely random, and will almost undoubtedly change.  I’ve got no idea what his last name will really end up being.  I went with Johnson because it was literally the first last name I happened to think of.  “Timmy” on the other hand is set more or less in stone.  He’s young — only 18 — and freshly arrived in Vietnam.  He’s from a tiny little town in North Carolina, because…uh…because.  He had to come from somewhere in the South, for reasons, and I went with North Carolina because that’s where my mother comes from.  (His town, however, is a fictional one.)  I have no idea what he looks like, other than “fresh off the farm”…which I do understand is not a “look” per se.
  • Sergeant Caesar Jones — Caesar is a medic.  He’s African-American, from San Francisco, and he joined the army in order to get the money to pay for medical school, because he couldn’t afford it on his own, and didn’t want to be saddled with massive loans to repay.  (He has, however, already gotten his pre-med degree, so he’s older than Ashley and Paddy by about five years; he’s been in the army for several years since joining up.)  He’s very intelligent (definitely the smartest man in the group, by far) but a bit jumpy, and liable to leap into anger too easily.  I don’t have any ideas what he looks like, either, but probably he’s pretty good-looking.  (There’s a girl who’ll show up later on (as of today’s pre-writing session, Nov. 5, she hasn’t even shown up yet) who’s probably going to end up with him, so for her sake it’d be nice if he’s attractive as well as smart and usually very nice.)
  • Frank, the pilot — Yeah, he doesn’t even have a last name yet.  He pilots a helicopter.  I know nothing about him, other than that he and Caesar are on a first-name basis.  (I know, as the writer I should know more than that!  But honestly, he’s not really going to have much of a presence…)

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