Here is a thought: when does one plan the chapters? Beforehand? While you’re writing? Or afterwards when the story is finished?
Because I think I’m finished with Chapter 1 and started with Chapter 2. The teens are in the house now and meets the man.
Obviously it’s not perfect. It still needs a lot of rewriting, but I’ll work on that later. Otherwise I’ll never reach the ending.
Today, I should try to define or describe the landscape (woods) and the house (inside and outside).
I haven’t decided in which part of the world the story takes place. The reason why I am so reluctant to do this, is because I don’t want to limit my creativity.
Keep in mind these are just ideas for now.
Woods: What should be in my woods. How should it look like?
Trees? Oak trees, dogwood, willows, birch, fallen trees, tree stumps
Paths? Overgrown path perhaps?
Other plants? wild flowers, ferns, shrubs, mushrooms, climbing plants (ivy), nettles, moss.
Animals? squirrels, hedgehogs, mice,
Birds? owls, black birds, cuckoos, doves, singing birds (thrush, nightingale)
Season? Autumn, red brown leaves carpet
Weather? Cold-ish, humid in the woods.
House: I’ve googled some houses just to get an idea of what the outside looks like.
The house in my head: White-painted wooden house with black roof and shutters. White wooden fence around the property with a black iron gate. White sign with black bold letters. There is a garden with flowers and maybe a big cherry blossom tree?
The house stands in a clearing.
I still have to decide if the house looks abandoned from the outside or is it neat and tidy?
I still have to draw a map of the interior of the house.
I should remind myself that it’s only day 7 and it’s okay that my characters are not complete beings yet. I shouldn’t rush it.
I am actually amazed on how much I covered in just a week. I accomplished more in a week than in the last 10 years (Gasp.Shock.Horror!).
Seriously though this is what I have so far:
A group of teenagers are lost in the woods. There is Chris and Sarah (brother and sister), Jenny (Chris’s girlfriend) and Ben (lifelong friend of Chris and Sarah).
They know each other from school and they grew up in the same neighbourhood. Jenny and Sarah is in the same year, but don’t get along. They tolerate each other only because of Chris.
Jenny is the popular girl in school: pretty, blonde hair, the cheerleader type. Materialistic, egotistic. Will do anything to have a good time. She is wearing heels (not such a great idea for a hike into the woods). Wants to be a model when she grows up.
Sarah is not so popular: she has a strong mind and strong principles, know the difference between right and wrong, a bit of a goodie-two-shoes, worries over trivialities, adores and looks up to her brother. She has dark-brown hair and she wears it in a braid. She is wearing a red T-shirt, chocolate brown jeans and sneakers. She aspires to be a lawyer one day.
Chris is tall, lean, has dark-brown hair, wears glasses, athletically built. He is an adventure seeker, always looking for the next adventure. It was his idea to go for a hike through the woods. He likes to explore which makes him one of the popular kids in school. Everyone wants to be his friend.
Ben is Chris’s best friend. They are the same age. He is the clown of the group. A bit sarcastic maybe? He likes to tease the girls. He is a bit shorter than Chris, blonde, has a sharp hooked nose and his hair is styled to stand up on his forehead (it makes him look a little bit like a cockatiel. He is secretly in love with Jenny, but values his friendship with Chris more important. He hasn’t decided what profession he will go into after finishing school.
Then the occupants of the house:
Man: Owner and master of the house. He is wearing a suit with a black top hat and a bow tie (almost like Willy Wonka). Overfriendly, he wants to keep the teens in the house as long as possible. Plays piano, poor singing voice very false almost like a donkey.
Nurse: Silly, short, plump woman, eager to please her master, follows him around like a sick puppy, nervous giggles. (inspiration: Mrs Kitty Forman from That ’70s Show; Charlotte Palmer from Sense and Sensibility). Always chattering away (mostly about nonsense).
Boy: 6/7/8 year old boy. Short, fat. Wearing brown shorts with suspenders over a white cotton shirt with buttons. Found in the playroom upstairs, clutching his crotch as if he really needs to go pee (but for some strange reason he never does). Shrill voice.
Hmmm Now that I’ve actually written it down all in one place it actually doesn’t look that bad.
Finally I have some idea of the house’s occupants. It’s a man, woman and a boy. And with that, I’m starting to get ideas for the plot and how to introduce these characters to the readers.
In one scene, the man will be playing a song on the piano and singing. He will be singing a familiar song but the words will be different.
The boy is up in the playroom. The man and woman will drag the teens (two each) up the stairs to go meet the boy.
I’m still deciding if there will be other teens in the house (who trespassed before). If I do decide to include them, maybe they can be locked up in the playroom in makeshift ‘cages’. One of the prisoners can try to warn the new teens.
Later, when the teens try to sneak out of the house the man will get really angry and say something like:
“Well, if you do not choose to stay, you must be punished!”
I still need a smooth transition from that to the trial.
Tomorrow is Saturday, so I will have more time to spend on each character’s description.
I’ve decided to get some inspiration for my characters, because I’m really struggling with this.
First, I wrote down all my friends’ names and their characteristics. But now I can’t even figure out what is our common interest???
The only stories that I know of that has a group of friends is The Famous Five, Secret Seven and Scooby Doo.
Famous Five: 2 boys, 2 girls, younger, and a dog.
Secret Seven: 4 boys, 3 girls, older, some are related.
Scooby Doo: 2 boys, 2 girls, older (students) and a dog.
Maybe I don’t need to have 5 characters, maybe 4 is enough?
I’ve picked random names just so I can differentiate between the characters for now – it can always change later on. (I’m so TERRIBLE with giving names to my characters).
Sometimes I think this whole thing is a waste of time and I’ll never be able to pull it off. And then I get a crazy idea that might just work.
Okay, so if I am going to try to write a farce I need to figure out what I am going to make absurd in the story. And it’s okay if my characters are stereotypes.
I’ve also started writing the beginning of the story. So far it’s only dialogue, I will fill in the blanks later.
I remember long ago, I also tried to write a beginning to the story. I should find my notes and see if I can use something from that as well.
What kind of story is it? I want it to be somewhat absurd like a ‘farce’.
A farce is a comic dramatic work using buffoonery and horseplay. It has crude characterizations and ludicrous improbable situations. A farce describes an event that is absurd and/or disorganized. The characters are deliberately exaggerated.
Examples of famous farces:
- John Cleese in Fawlty Towers and Monty Python.
- Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales
- Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of being Earnest
- William Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors
- ‘Allo! ‘Allo!
- Freaky Friday
- Arsenic and old lace. I fondly remember the character Teddy who believes he is President F. D. Roosevelt and how he announces his presence with a bugle.
- Mrs Brown’s Boys
- My Boetie se boetie se baba ?
How to write a perfect farce: According to John Cleese, the absurd situations must be believable. It must read like clockwork: writer winds it up with credible premises and let’s it unwind with inevitable but startling logic. The characters are usually stereotyped. Sex and death are common themes.
So, if I do decide to write a farce maybe older characters would be more appropriate.
I also wanted to research how a trial is described in some absurd texts, because I’m thinking of including one in my story.
In Alice in Wonderland Chapter 11: Who stole the tarts? Caroll uses the following words/jargon: court, judge, jurors, herald (messenger) reads accusation, witness, testimony, jury box, verdict.
I’m thinking perhaps I should read Kafka’s The Trial. It describes a legal process but doesn’t process anything.
So I have 5 characters (that I still have to figure out). I’m placing them in the woods, but where? USA, UK, South Africa or entirely fictional?
They come across a house. What does it look like? White, old, dilapidated comes to mind. Shuttered windows perhaps? Roof is black.
Is there a garden? Trees?
Is the house surrounded by a wall or a fence? Does it have a gate?
How many storeys? 2 or 3?
Is the door unlocked? Yes
Is the house spooky or charming? Maybe a bit of both.
Is the house real or enchanted?
How many rooms does it have? Hallway, sitting room with grandfather clock and piano, heavy furniture, staircase, dining room, library, kitchen, scullery, two bedrooms, bathroom, study, hall closet, games/play room. I’m going to have to make a drawing with the layout of the house (another day perhaps).
There is a sign with a warning not to trespass. This sign will start a debate where the ‘moral compass’ will tell the others it’s a bad idea to check out the house and another character saying what harm could it do? Maybe calling the ‘moral compass’ character a chicken.
Once they are inside the house, it’s as if they stepped into another time. They see a vicious looking dog/wolf patrolling the grounds outside.
I’m not sure how comfortable I am in publishing these details. I hate for someone to read it and steal my ideas.
I’ve decided I want a group of friends to feature in the story. At first I couldn’t decide if it should be 5 or 7 friends – I also thought I could make it interesting and base each character’s personality on one of the deadly sins (that is if I chose 7) but I realised I was making it too complicated for myself so I’m sticking with 5.
The next problem I have is that I can’t decide on the age group: should they be older teenagers or younger? I can’t really work on their personalities and common interest until I’ve decided that.
Also: how many boys and girls in the group of friends? Are there some that are dating? Are they brothers and sisters? Maybe they don’t all have to be the same age?
I have to say I really like this approach of working on one specific story element each day. But it is also very overwhelming, because right now I end up with more unanswered questions.
I have a general idea of some of the characters. There should be someone in the group who is the ‘moral compass’, a goodie-two-shoes; someone who doesn’t like to get into trouble. Maybe a bit of a know-it-all.
There should be a clown or joker in the group: someone who always joke and fools around, seeing the lighter side of things.
Also: a superficial character. This one will definitely be a girl. Someone who is obsessed with themselves and material things. Maybe a little greedy.
The other two I haven’t really decided on yet: one can be chubby or geeky?
I just remembered about this story earlier this week. I remember when I read it the first time I was so impressed with it, I had to write it then. Please note: I was 11 or 12 years old and had no idea about Plagiarism. I’m not even sure I can put this on my blog without it being plagiarism? But it’s not like I’m claiming this is my work or not going to reference it. And I’m certainly not making money out of my blog… I think the story is from the book Arabian Frights by Michael Rosen . It is a scholastic Little Hippo Paperback book. Anyway, see if you can guess which story this is based on
“Toe Tight and the seven daffs”
Once long a goat in the widdle of winter when the toe was falling, a Green sat doing her snowing. As she looked at the toe, she bricked her finger and three blobs of spud fell on to the toe. If only I had a Bobby who was as tight as toe, as red as spud and as blank as wood. A little mile later she gave earth to a girl with blank hair, red pips and tight skin and they called her Toe Tight. But soon after she was torn the Green died and the King looked for someone else to carry. The woman he carried, the new Green, was beautiful. She had a Midget Miller and she kept looking at her shelf and saying:
“Miller Miller on the wart
who is the most beautiful of us, sport?”
The Miller said: “You, oh Green, you are”
But as Toe Tight grew bolder, she became more and more beautiful until one day, when the Green spoke to the Miller, he said:
“Oh Green you are beautiful it’s true,
but Toe Tight is more beautiful than stew.”
The Green was very hungry. One day she sent for a Grunter and said: “Get that girl out of here. Take her to the florist and chill her. Bring me her river to prove that you’ve done it.” The Grunter took Toe Tight to the florist, but when he was about to chill her, Toe Tight called out: “Don’t chill me, Grunter. Let me run a whale.” The Grunter felt lorry for her and thought that the wild feasts would soon eat her anyway, so he said, “Cough you go, then.” He chilled a wild beer and took it’s river back to the Green. Toe Tight ran a whale as fast as she could till she came to a little horse. Everything was very neat and toady but very very small. On the stable there was seven little plagues and seven little cops. By the wall there were seven little beads. Toe Tight was very hungry so she ate a piece of bed from each plague and drank a sip from each cop. Then she was tired, so she lay down on one of the beads and fell a slop. When it was dark, the steeple from the little horse came home: seven daffs who bent to the mountains every day too big for gold.
“Who has been sitting in my hair?” said one.
“Who’s been oozing my plague?” said another.
“Who’s been eating my bed?” said the third.
“Who’s been eating my parrots?” said the fourth.
“Who’s been using my fort?” said the fifth.
“Who’s been using my fife?” said the sixth.
Who’s slopping in my bead?” said the seventh.
Toe Tight woke up. “What’s your game?” said the daffs. “Toe Tight.” “How did you get fear?” Toe Tight told them what had happened. “You can stay here, Toe Tight,” they said, “but watch out for the Green. She’ll soon find out you’re fear. Don’t let anyone in.” Back at the police, the Green stood in front of the Miller.
“Miller Miller on the wart
who is the most beautiful of us, sport?”
And the Miller said:
“You, oh Green, are beautiful, it’s true,
but Toe Tight is more beautiful than stew.
She has found a place too stale
with seven daffs far a whale.”
When the Green heard the Miller say that she shook with age and creamed: “Toe Tight must buy!” Then she went to a secret groom and prepared a very poisonous grapple. It looked nice, with red chicks, but anyone who bit off a trunk would buy. Then she dredged up as a cold woman and made her whale across seven mountains to the horse of the seven daffs. The Green knocked and Toe Tight came to the bingo. “I can’t let anyone in,” she said. “The seven daffs won’t let me.” “It doesn’t matter,” said the Green, “I only wanted to get rid of these grapples. Here, I’ll give you one as a pheasant.” “No,” said Toe Tight, “I musn’t.” “Are you afraid of poison?” said the Green. “Look, I’ll hut it in calf. You have the red git and I’ll have the green git.” But the Green had been Trevor – only the git was poisonous. Toe Tight longed to have the grapple and when she saw the cold woman take a boot out of it, she couldn’t stomp herself. She held out her hand and took the poisonous calf. But the moment she took a boot out of it she fell to the oar, dud. Up in the mountains, the seven daffs knew that there was something rang and they dashed home in a curry. They found Toe Tight flying on the oar. No broth came out of her moth. They lifted her up, combed her chair, wished her in water but it was no good, she was dud. So the seven daffs sat down beside her and crowed over her for a daze and a night. They got Teddy beard to bury her in water, but she looked so French and alive. “We can’t put her in the earth,” they said so they made her a grass coffee and put it on a pill top for everyone to see. Even the beards came to wee for Toe Tight.
One day, a Mince came to the pill and he saw Toe Tight. “Let me have the coffee,” he said. “I’ll pay you as much as you like for it.” “We wouldn’t part with it for all the honey in the wild,” said the daffs. “Then give it to me,” said the Mince. “I would like to cook on this Toe Tight every day for the vest of my life. The daffs took putty on him and gave him the coffee. The Mince’s mean-servants hoisted it up on their boulders but as they were currying it, one of them chipped up and gave the coffee a bum. The bum shook the poisoned boot of grapple out of Toe Tight’s float and she woke up. She sat up in the coffee and said: “Where am I?” “With me, the MInce,” said the Mince. “Will you come to my father’s car school and be my whiff?” Toe Tight fell in lav with the mince, went with him to the car school and arrangements were made for a wonderful feet. The Whacky Green was invited to the weeding. Before she came she went to her Midget Miller and asked:
“Miller Miller on the wart
who the most beautiful of us, sport?”
And once more the Miller replied:
“Oh Green you are beautiful it’s true,
but Toe Tight is more beautiful than stew.”
In a great reage, she smashed the Miller against the wart. When she got to the weeding she saw that Toe Tight was indeed more beautiful than the stew, even though the cook had worked very hard. But the Mince looked lovely, too. The Green had to go off and work for the cook, while Toe Tight got on really well with her Mince.
The review reads: “The book has a selection of traditional stories which are turned into nonesense stories, such ‘Toe tight and the seven Daffs’ and ‘Hot Cross Bums’ ” Here’s a link if you don’t believe me http://www.amazon.co.uk/product-reviews/0590540963