Out of the Forest

After writing my post, 10 Ways to Bring Your Story Back from the Dead, I decided to go through some of the older pieces sitting on my computer, and stumbled up a story I’d written over the summer while trying to write in a genre I’d never worked in much before: horror.

I’ve always been a big fan of urban fantasy and the supernatural, so it wasn’t really a massive leap. I guess you could say that my intention was to create a constant state of tension in this story by keep more secrets from my readers and characters.

This somewhat complicates things, considering the fact that my rough drafts are typically character-driven. I’ve always just let my characters get cozy in my head, throw something at them, and see where it goes from there. I think that’s why I’d only managed to write up two pages, and still didn’t seem to have a very strong understanding of my characters.

I decided that I desperately wanted to try and revive this little blurb in order to challenge myself, and went back to last week’s post in order to find something that would help me dive deeper into my characters and their surroundings. I ended up writing some short blurbs using the number seven on my list: Past is Prologue.

Below are the secrets I found out about my characters, followed a little snippet at the end of what I’m presently calling Out of the Forest:

(Warning: Contains one instance of mature language)

Part 1: Past is Prologue

Two Years Earlier

 “Hammond, Kennedy?”

“Here.” I raised my hand and watched Mrs. Matthews inspect me momentarily. I assumed that my non-torn jeans, blue long-sleeved tee, and braided brown hair was plain enough protect me from any suspicion. Once she turned her eyes back to the attendance sheet, I waited, listening for one of the last names on the list:

“Warner…Hatchley?”

“Just Hatch, ma’am,” Hatch’s quiet voice politely requested from the back. Matthews didn’t look very pleased when she laid eyes on him. He had dressed normally enough, just a zip-up hoodie and jeans. No dyed hair, facial piercing, visible tattoos…anything that you’d typically expect a teacher to hone in on as a warning about a problem student. I always figured it was the slouching in the seat thing that threw teachers off, either that or his desperate need for a haircut. Either way, Hatch very rarely let them down. Unlike me, he barely paid attention in class, sometimes didn’t even bother to show up, and still managed to outperform the rest of the class. I hated him a bit for that.

“Just Hatch, then.” Matthew’s murmured, scribbling the note down on her clipboard, eyebrows raised. I took the moment she wasn’t watching to give Hatch a pleading look. Even if I was across the room from him by my choice, I knew that eventually there would be something that caused Matthews to associate Hatch with me, and that usually didn’t end too well for my reputation.

The smirk softened into an apology, and he straightened a bit as he looked again towards the front.

Three months earlier

 She couldn’t believe the stupid, dumbass mistake they’d made. They’d always been so careful, considering Alena’s history. She could hear Rhys pacing outside the door, trying his best to stay composed. Her eyes stay glued to the little red plus sign that changed everything.

She didn’t even need to speak when she came out of the bathroom for Rhys to know what the result was. He went completely still for a moment, staring at the wall. Alena’s lips pressed together, certain her present nausea had nothing to do with her newfound pregnancy.

“Rhys, I-“He took two steps forward, wrapping his arms around her before she could finish her sentence. She swallowed hard, face pressed into his shoulder. “I don’t know-“

Her voice cracked, and she went silent, listening to his slow exhale.

“We’re going to be okay, Lena.” His tone wasn’t as certain as his statement, but Lena took it anyways. “The three of us will be completely fine.”

Two weeks earlier

“No. Absolutely not.”

“Adam you can’t just leave me here all night. Let me go with you.” Maddie’s voice went higher and higher as she spoke.

“Go to Emily’s, or Samantha’s.” Adam’s voice became increasingly less certain as Maddie’s hand latched to his sleeve.

“I won’t talk to anybody or do anything, I swear.” Maddie’s pleading flowed over his words. “I’ll just stay by you or Ken or whoever and be quiet, but I’m not going to stay here.”

Adam ran a hand through his hair, sighed. She’d already implanted that seed of guilt in his mind, just for thinking about leaving her behind. Maddie just stared up at him.

“Fine. But you’re going to bring your homework, and stay in the truck,” Maddie hugged him so tightly he couldn’t breathe for a moment.   He lightly pushed her back, checking his phone for the time. “Paul’s going to be home in like a half hour, so move it- and don’t wake up mom, Maddie!” Adam watched as his little sister bounded down the hall.

Present

Courtesy of: freerangestock.com

There was music playing, and Alena and Rhys were arguing about who got to choose the next playlist. Rhys was sick of hearing Alena’s “indie shit,” but she rolled her eyes every time he tried to change to his “head-splitting noise.” Still, they smiled at each other every time their shoulders brushed.

They were particularly close that night. Alena seemed far more subdued than her usual firecracker self, and Rhys refused to leave her side. I didn’t think much of it. I was already dealing with Hatch. Ever since he’d come back from visiting his sister over the summer, he’d been…odd. Quiet as ever, sharp as ever, but he was jumping at shadows now.

I’d been summoning up the nerve all night to confront him about it. I’d been faking small talk, casually mention some of the so-called “adventures” I’d had while he was gone. It wasn’t getting anywhere.

Needless to say, everything changed suddenly.

It was just after Adam had found his little sister, Maddie, making out with one of the older boys that showed up to deliver booze. He’d been furious, grabbing her arm and hissing under her breath at the very edge of the light given out from the bonfire. She’d just hissed right back, yanking up her sleeve to reveal a bruise undoubtedly given to her by her step-father. Adam had let it drop after that, pulling her close and letting out a burdened sigh. His eyes cracked open just enough to see me watching. I gave him a reassuring smile and didn’t look away until the first branch snapped.


I’ll just leave it there for now, but hopefully I’ll be able to give you more as I dig in after this semester ends. I really hope that you enjoyed that little look into my brain, or at least didn’t hate it enough to never read another post of mine again.

So, here’s a few questions for you to answer before we part: What genre are you most/least comfortable writing in, and why?

Go ahead and leave and answer in the comments, along with any other thoughts you have for me!

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4 thoughts on “Out of the Forest

  1. Ooh, I like what you have so far. 🙂 I love the name Hatch. It’s so unique. Can’t wait to read more!

    As for genres I’m most/least comfortable in, fantasy will always be my rock. 🙂 Middle-grade, YA, chapter book, it doesn’t matter. It’s what I grew up with, it’s what I’ll always write. Recently, I’ve discovered YA contemporary and YA dystopian. Those are also really fun to write.

    I am definitely least comfortable with historical fiction and science-fiction. Historical fiction involves way too much fact checking for me. I prefer to write freely without any restraints (part of the reason why I love fantasy). And as much as I love “Doctor Who” and The Lunar Chronicles, I can’t write anything worth reading when I try to recreate that outer space feel. Maybe someday I’ll be brave and try to work on that, but for now, I’m taking baby steps. 😉

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    • Thanks Kate!
      Right now I just have a lot of snippets going for this piece. It’s definitely sliding back toward more urban fantasy stuff, since that’s my niche.

      I’ve also worked a bit with dystopian and even realistic fiction, pretty much exclusively YA stuff. I’m actually a bit of a research junkie, but have just never really felt an interest in writing a historical fiction piece. If I did, it would probably be set in the twenties, considering how obsessed I am.

      As for your struggle with science fiction…I’ve always felt that there is usually a very strong link with dystopian and science fiction, so that might be a good place to start. Don’t feel the need to incorporate everything from that genre at once. Pick a few things out -like the prescience of aliens or some newfangled technology, for example- and start with those. You don’t have to figure everything out at once. An aspect I’ve always considered interesting is how our present technology and culture may be viewed in the future. Don’t forget that even the most far-out settings and plots tend to link back to themes we can relate to here and now.
      Those are just my thoughts on the matter. Hope they help!
      Until next time,
      Nicole

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      • That’s really good advice. 🙂 I’ve always loved the idea of time travel (I’m a total “Doctor Who” junkie–like, majorly obsessed), but have always been too scared to attempt it. But you’re right, dystopian and sci-fi are really similar. I’ll take it slow. Thanks so much! 🙂

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