Monday, September 22, 2008

The Worst Story I Ever Wrote (So Far)

Tip of the Day: Reading the (currently) two Diary of a Wimpy Kid books with your kids is a great idea. Naming the neighborhood kids after the weirder characters like Fregley: umm, try to resist doing that.

This is an especially fun week at A2A. We’re looking back at some of the worst stories we’ve written. You have to write some bad stories to learn how to write good ones, right? Right? Well, let’s hope so, because if this was a contest as to who wrote the worst story, I think I’d have this sewn up in the bag.

Because after I graduated college, I went through an epic fantasy phase. After reading a bunch of Tad Williams books and The Wheel of Time, among other things, I tried to write my own epic fantasy.

The main characters were young adults struggling with their future plans, but they were teenagers in another world, trying to get out of arranged marriages and pass tests to get into the scholar citadel or whatever it was I called it. I have some notes on the world building mechanics that show an alarming lack of understanding of basic science. For example, my world had three seasons instead of four, because apparently I thought it would be OK to pick a random number.

Oh, let’s just cut to the chase. Here’s a snippet from an old Word file:

When Kiyla and Calaho entered the stable, Sparkle was saddled and brushed, his luminous scales gleaming in the late morning sun. He hummed contentedly even before he spotted Kiyla. She wanted to thank the person who had tended to Sparkle, but there was nobody in sight.

“The servants really disappear when you’re around,” she remarked to Calaho.

“They’re here to work, not parade around in front of the woman guests,” Calaho said testily. Kiyla saw a man in gray slip into the stables.

That’s right! I invented an animal that acts exactly like a horse instead of just using a horse. I’m pretty sure that earns me 65 cliché points. I’m not sure how many cliché points I get for the names “Kiyla” and “Calaho” but probably quite a few.

Actually, reading back through my old files, my writing isn’t quite as bad as I remember it. I had a habit of overdescribing how everyone looked and what they wore, but I remember being annoyed in my reading with fantasy characters that looked just like you and me except in a totally different world. So I overcompensated.

After changing my plot significantly because I decided I didn’t like plots based on prophesy (to be fair, in my story, it was teen angst based on prophecy), I finally decided that epic fantasy wasn’t for me. I decided to write a story about regular, contemporary teenagers because that would be “easy,” ha ha ha ha. But my Kiyla fantasy was my first serious, sustained attempt at a novel-length work that I didn’t abandon after a month. So it was a big milestone on my development as a writer. It also taught me that no matter what I wrote, I had very little interest in writing about the adults in that world, even though I was finally an adult myself. So bravo for my cheesy epic fantasy. There’s a little bit of Kiyla in a lot of my main characters. And I forgot how slimy Calaho was; he needs to come back in another form in one of my stories someday.

-- Kate, Miss Apprentice Writer


Ghost Girl (aka, Mary Ann) said...

Okay...Kate, you are my hero! How brave are you to post something you wrote in the fit of writerly mania? We've all done it. I don't know if I'll ever drag my dirty little bastards into the light (yikes!). Believe me, they have nowhere near the appeal that yours has. Thanks!!!

Emily Marshall said...

Kate, this is so fun to see what people have written before. Thanks for sharing.

Lisa Schroeder said...

So, it's like a horse with scales? I'm trying to picture that and, um, not sure I can exactly. What would that be called? A sea horse, perhaps? :)

DeenaML said...

But Sparkle hums! Real horses don't hum! Only a horse with SCALES would HUM!

This is great.

Kristina Springer said...

Awesome. :)