How I Outline A Story

Today was a great writing day. I wrote way over my daily word goal. I won’t share everything I wrote with you, but here is a snippet.

I always have story ideas swimming around in my mind. This here is just an outline to the beginning of a story I would like to write more about.


 

Cracked hands. The morning the power went out I remember complaining to mom about my hands. I had showered and even after putting on lotion my hands were still dry and cracked. Strange, how we consider electricity and running water and all those luxuries as normal. When we are without such things, even for a short period of time, we become desperate. As if humankind had ever lived without air conditioning.

No one knew what had happened for quite a while. It was about two weeks after the power went out that we had finally heard over the battery-powered radio that hackers or terrorists screwed with everything, but “don’t worry” because companies and people were working on it and “don’t worry” the power will be back on soon. That’s when the panicking began.

I rode my bicycle up the grocery store only to find it empty. Completely empty. The highways were packed that day. Everyone was leaving to go somewhere, but they didn’t know where. The rest of the world didn’t know at the time that the rest of the world was without power.

We were fine. For a while. It was cold that March, but thankfully we had a fireplace and several cords of wood. But then the food started to run out.

I remember laying in bed one night listening to mom and dad whispering their fears to each other. They had argued we should head south where it’s warmer all year round. Argued that we should stay out of towns, away from the desperate people, and live in the country. Dad talked about how he could hunt and mom fretted about how we would even get to such a place.

The next day we were all packed up with our necessities. Dad was rounding up what little weapons we had, “just in case” he had said. I could tell he was more worried than he was saying. Mom fussed over what clothes I had packed and constantly asked “how are you feeling?”

We were a bit delirious by the time we said our goodbyes to our house. We were hungry and getting moody with one another. But before we took off for the country we had a stop to make. They wanted to check on our family members. Make sure everyone was fine and see who would want to go with us.

We should have turned on the radio in the car. We should have tried to find a station that was keeping everyone updated. We might have caught a warning. It didn’t cross any of our minds. I curse myself to this day for not thinking of it. Maybe that’s why I’m writing this. To feel less guilty or to try and stop thinking about it all the time.

We never made it to my aunt’s house that day. I shouldn’t be so upset with myself. How was I supposed to know we were about to get slammed with a blizzard?


 

This could be an idea for a fun short story. Although, I see potential for a novel — I need to spend more brainstorming time on where the story should go from there. Hope you enjoyed! Happy Friday, everyone. :)

xo, Sarah

Five February Goals To Improve My Writing

Many of you know I made a goal to write at least 500 words a day. On top of that I made a monthly goal to write at least one poem each day and I usually average on about 400-500 more words with those.

There are days so far where I’ve knocked my goal outta the ballpark (my highest so far was around 3,500 words). Then there are days where I sit at my computer with my fingers hovering over the keys and I sigh, and I get up, and get a glass of water and then I try to force myself away from the game controllers in our living room. Rather than continuing to write a poem a day my February goal is to get better with these five things:

  1. Make time to write. Usually, I come home from work and take care of Tetra (our dog, for those of you that don’t know). That includes feeding her and going on our daily walk. Then I make dinner. Some days I need to do laundry, or clean, or there is a family party, or friends want to hang out, or et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. I need to throw my excuses away and plan each night, no matter how tired I am, to write something.
  2. Sharpen my editing skills. I have a couple of books from school and a few books I have gained throughout time and I’d like to reread them. Then use what I learned to freshen up my stories and future writing.
  3. Discover my voice. This one may sound weird. I try to write as true to my voice as possible, but that can be hard to do at times. I want to be more confident in my writing and feel like the tone is true to me. Sometimes I feel like a story feels to essay-ish — no thanks to the literature courses I took in college.
  4. Make writing my career. This will take time, but this is what I want to do. Writing fills something inside of me. When I’m frustrated, sad, or if I feel like something is missing I write and the world is clear. Writing is like breathing to me. Many writers make a living as technical writers, proofreaders or editors. Then they write when they can for themselves – for their own works. I would like to see what options are out there, and what interests me most, and then start working towards getting there.
  5. Branch out. I’d like to see if there are any writing groups or communities that get together in Kansas City. I would like to find other writers who want to share their works and we can help each other grow. If I can’t find a way to branch out locally, I can look more into forums and online communities instead.

Anybody else have any goals they are trying to work on? I’ll keep everyone updated on my progress.

 

xo, Sarah

Leaves of Immortality

Today I tried my hand at a 1,000 word Flash Fiction Challenge from the website Terrible Minds. You can find the post here. I rolled my dice and had these elements to tie into my story:

1. Betrayal
2. Public Drunkenness
3. Resurrection

This was a tough one! I wrote just a bit over at 1,235 words. My rough draft is below. Keep in mind it is a major rough draft. I just started writing and didn’t stop – no editing.


“Leaves of Immortality”

This is a bad idea. We should stop now. Say something.

Rosie’s hands shook. She stood abruptly and broke the circle. The flames from the candles in front of them fluttered out. Smoke gently rising from the wicks.

“I think,” Rosie said, but couldn’t finish her sentence. Claire is going to hate me.

“Damn it, Rosie,” Claire said. She stood too. Her ice blue eyes quickly searched Rosie’s face, looking for an explanation. “We were almost finished. What’s the matter with you?”

Rosie swallowed. “This is a bad idea. Every spell has a reaction and we don’t know what this one will do.”

Claire stared at her. It was a hard look. Rosie looked down at her shoes. She knew before they started this spell that it was a bad idea. She should’ve said something earlier, but she just couldn’t go through with this.

The final member of the trio stood. Ray cracked his knuckles and stretched his arms out in front of him.

“Ugh,” he said. “Sitting cross-legged like that was starting to make me ache.”

Claire clenched her jaw.

“Rosie’s right,” Ray said. He was looking at Rosie. “We dove right into this because we’re angry and sad and screwing with the balance of things. You know that better than anyone else.”

Claire was shaking her head. Rosie knew Claire missed Victoria the most. Her twin sister. Dead.

+ + + – + + + – + + +

Victoria took a swig from the $9.99 bottle of vodka they purchased from the local gas station. After she swallowed she pushed the bottle into Rosie’s hands. The library door wasn’t even locked. Rosie opened the door and they walked in. Apparently, in small towns, they don’t assume anyone will ever break into the library.

Rosie had to stand still as she took another sip from the bottle. She was drinking it slower than Victoria, but everything was starting to turn into one giant blur. After some stumbling they both made it up the stairs to the second floor.

“Over here,” Victoria said, her words slurring together.

Rosie wandered towards Victoria. She was holding a large book in her hands that even smelled old. She thumped it down onto the nearest table and with a flick of Victoria’s wrist the light overhead turned on.

Rosie gently twisted her fingers to dim the light. It wouldn’t be wise to get busted on campus drunk in the library this late at night.

Victoria was quickly leafing through the pages. “Look,” she said. “Look at what I found the other day. The witches that use to live here hid spells in some of these old history books. Cleverly, though.”

She was hard to understand through her slurred speech and Rosie’s mind was racing to understand.

“What happened to that coven? Where are they? Why would they leave?”

Victoria pressed a few fingers to her temple. “Don’t ask so many questions so fast.”

Rosie mumbled an apology.

Then Victoria stopped turning pages. “Here,” she said, practically shouting.

Rosie scanned the page. At first it looked like an old medicinal cure. A way to use simple herbs for healing common colds, but there was a small paragraph in latin. Other sentences in French. And the picture drawn wasn’t of any simple herb. It was a drawing of a massive tree with gnarled roots disrupting the ground surrounding it. The large triangular looking leaves were black. Darker than Rosie’s skin.

“What.. what is it?” Rosie asked.

“Immortality. Sweet, sweet immortality.”

Rosie kneeled on the floor. Her mind was swirling and this time she took a much larger gulp of the vodka, finishing off the bottle.

“How? What would we have to do?”

Victoria was quiet for a while. “I’m not sure yet, but we’re going to find out.”

+ + + – + + + – + + +

It was three weeks ago that Victoria showed Rosie the book and they still had no idea where to find “a leaf from the black tree.” They needed quite the list of oddities for this spell. Normally, Rosie’s spells were simple magic. This was incredibly advanced and she severely doubted they would be able to pull it off. It was even harder to keep it a secret from Ray and Claire who were growing more suspicious of Victoria’s and Rosie’s “study groups”.

“You never study this hard for a class,” Ray had commented over lunch.

Claire nodded. “Especially for a history class. You’re always meticulously prepared for those classes.”

Rosie shrugged. “This professor is really testing me. He’s even handed me a few extra assignments and Vicky has been helping me through them. That’s all.”

Ray raised his eyebrows at Claire and Rosie pushed her noodles around with her fork.

Rosie was losing hope of ever finding the black tree. She was even starting to doubt Victoria’s elaborate ideas of the super powerful witch coven that use to live near campus but somehow disappeared over time. She had somehow guessed they either moved away or died off sometime in the 1950s.

Then one day, while waiting for Victoria to show at the library, a black leaf fluttered to her feet. She stared at it with sheer awe and confusion.

“What the…” she said.

Victoria laughed as she bent down and picked up the leaf. “What?” She asked. “You really think the rare black leaf we have been searching for would just randomly appear before you? You’re not that powerful, y’know.”

“How did you-” Rosie said. “Where did you…”

“A friend owed me a favor. A huge favor,” Victoria said and that was that. Once she was done with a conversation there was no pushing her to reveal more.

So Rosie said, “Are you ready to try the spell? What if we do it wrong?”

Victoria laughed, her red hair fell down in front of her eyes. She pushed the strays back behind her ear. “Stop worrying so much.”

+ + + – + + + – + + +

It was dark. The spell called for them to drink the mixture they concocted at night with no candlelight. So they sat across from each other on Rosie’s bed. Holding a crystal in one hand and their cups in the other.

Rosie didn’t understand. The followed the chant exactly. They repeated it over and over again just to make sure they would say it right when it was time for the spell.

Rosie felt fine, but Victoria was so silent and still that Rosie broke from the spell and dropped her crystal on the floor. She worked her way over to the light switch and let her eyes adjust once the light was on.

No. Rosie thought to herself when she saw Victoria. Something was clearly wrong. She was sitting still. Slumped up against the pillow behind her. Her crystal was limp in her hand and her mixture pouring out of the cup onto the floor.

“Shit,” Rosie said. She raced over to Victoria and grabbed her shoulders. “Vicky? Hey, Vick? This isn’t funny. Please don’t be screwing around with me or I’ll hate you for forever. … Vicky?”

Victoria’s ice blue eyes were dull and staring straight ahead. She wasn’t joking around.

+ + + – + + + – + + +

Rosie was the one that suggested the resurrection spell, but they were inexperienced. Rosie accepted that this was her fault. She also accepted that this spell didn’t feel right. It wasn’t going to bring Vicky back.

Victoria was gone and it was her fault, but she would never tell Claire. She would kill her. Claire was crying and Ray took her into his arms, speaking softly into her ear. Rosie made a promise to herself as she stood over their candles and their books.

Rosie promised herself she would find that coven Victoria was obsessed with, and once she found another witch, Rosie would make her find another way to bring Victoria back. Even if she had to pay the price herself.

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