I wrote a thing for a prompt linkup! It once again involves weird fairies and even weirder people, to the surprise of absolutely no one! Anyway, here, have an absolutely awful part-time assassin badly attempting to make up with her brother
I feel like all of my characters are very autistic-coded. I don’t know if these two come across as autistic, but I know in my heart that they are ❤ Also, yes, everyone in this story is aromantic, I don’t make the rules (I mean, I do, I’m the author, but you know what I mean).
Henry Zheng often said that he would welcome his sister back with open arms whenever she came to her senses, but when Marian finally showed up at his door, looking much like a wet dog left out in the rain, he very nearly slammed the door in her face.
He could not bring himself to be so hardhearted, however. He understood what must become of a woman left on the streets with no connections, and he would not bring such a thing on his sister, no matter how little care she may show both to others and to her own reputation. How he wished she were a man. She might have been happier, then, and he would have been able to leave her there on the doorstep. But she was not a man, so he only stared her down for a few moments before allowing her inside and brewing her some tea.
She wore some ridiculous green gown, something that the lionhearted Marian from the medieval story may have worn. He remembered back when Marian used to wish to be able to wear fashionable clothing. She sat down on the armchair, the red one with the rip down the back of it. Marian still looked the same as when she had left him, with her wild hair and her pale, oval face, and her dark eyes that people said shined with an otherworldly sort of look. He had always been a prosaic person, himself, but even he had to admit that there was something odd about them. A mystic’s eyes, his father had always said about her.
“Well, this cottage is much as I remembered it,” Marian said, more to break the silence than anything else, most likely. Henry had not changed a thing since his father died and he inherited the place, not even bothering to fix the spot in the roof that always leaked. “You never settled down and found a wife for yourself? I always thought you might do well with Agnes.”
He’d always thought—most unkindly—that Agnes was a sweet girl, without much substance, though he knew in the back of his head that he would not dislike her half so much if half the people he knew didn’t subtly try to push them together. “I’m not inclined towards marriage,” he said coldly.
“Oh, neither am I,” she said, not perturbed at all by his tone. “And here I thought I was the only one on this earth not inclined to fall in love in the slightest. Is it not amusing how…” Her voice trailed off at his expression.
“You ran away with some fairy prince,” Henry bit out. “I had to listen to everyone speak of how you had run off to live out of wedlock with some traveler passing through town. And—” His voice shook, which was embarrassing. “You never once came back. You never even wrote.” He knew the last complaint was childish, for it wasn’t like she’d have much opportunity to send a letter way down in the barrows below, was it? And yet it still stung. “If not for the letter you left on the mantle, I would never have known what had become of you, Marian. So tell me, what motivation did you have, if not love?”
Marian’s face froze. She rested her chin in her hand, brow furrowed. “Well, I would never love him romantically,” she said. “I mean, I am very fond of him, and he is fond of me, but that is simple friendship.”
Henry struggled to remember how to speak, with the anger clouding his mind so. “So you ran away for friendship?” he asked finally. Henry had never considered any friend to be more important than his family, but perhaps he was simply not cut from the same cloth. He poured the tea into the only teacup that wasn’t chipped, and handed it to her without a word.
He wished things could go back to how they were as children, when they would play by the riverside, and Marian would say awful things about their neighbors while she dragged her fingers through the filthy river water, and he would say nothing. He had gone down to that riverside a few months after she left, but it carried nothing of Marian. It was just a river.
“And he thought I was very good at killing things,” she said brightly. “I suppose you’ve never had to assassinate anyone before. I cannot say I recommend it. It tends to be very messy.”
This was all a little much to take in. He tried to imagine Marian, a gun in her hands, or perhaps a knife, and he found that he could. She always had been the more ruthless of the two of them. “Do tell me, is the Prince in the Barrows a good friend?” he asked. “Because he sounds like he must be absolutely charming.”
Marian tilted her head, considering. “Oh, he is,” she said. Henry gave up hope for their relationship once and for all. “Wicked by a mortal’s standard, surely, but very charming.” She finally caught his meaning. She leaned back, crossing her legs. “You were being sarcastic.”
Henry refused to respond. They sat in silence for several minutes, which probably was more awkward for him than for Marian.
Marian was much more confident than he remembered her. She seemed to him to be the sort of woman who would lead armies. It bothered him, the idea that she had changed so much and he had not changed at all.
“You know I could never have stayed, Henry,” she said. “To live as a proper woman, and get married, and be a mother! I would rather not live at all, and what other choice existed for me?”
Henry stared resolutely at the mantle. It really needed to be dusted. The whole house could use it. The place was starting to look uninhabited.
“And the whole town looked askance at me because my parents came from China, and because—well, I will admit that I am a little odd,” she said, squaring her shoulders. “But being odd is hardly a sin, and everyone treats it like it is.” She turned the teacup in her hands, chewing on her lip as she stared off into nothing. “The Prince in the Barrows never cared for any of those things. What would he do, judge me for being odd?” A note of affectionate scorn came into her voice.
He had been through most of the same things that she had, and yet he had never run away with a fairy prince.
He never meant to yell at her, but he fancied it really was more than any man could bear. “You say no other choice existed,” Henry snarled, “but I would have provided for you! If things were bad for you, I would have been there by your side! Why did you not confide in me, if you felt you had no other choice?” He stopped short at the sight of her tearstained cheeks. “Marian,” he said gently.
“I love you,” Marian said. “How could I not love you? I would be unnatural if I had no love for my brother. And whatever happens, whatever you or I do, you’re still my brother.” She lifted a trembling hand to her brow. “But I could never be happy in this place. I hope you know I am sorry, Henry,” she added anxiously. “I came here to apologize, and then when I saw you, I couldn’t. But I’m apologizing now.”
He shook his head. “I understand,” he said quietly. In truth, he understood her a little more than he liked. “You won’t be staying, will you?”
She stilled. “No, Henry,” she said. She took a deep, shuddering breath. “I must leave soon. But I can stay for a night.”
He still found it hard to convince himself that she cared a whit for him, and he still found himself angry at her. But she was finally here, at least. He had never expected even that.
He might not ever find it in himself to forgive her, but he could never turn her away. “Then stay,” he said. She smiled at him, and he smiled back, neither of them happy. But he was not nearly so sorrowful as he had been the past five years, so perhaps that was enough.
Anyway, tell me what you think! I hated this at first but I’m starting to get a little fonder of it lmao. I’m almost tempted to turn this into something longer, but I think it’s staying a short story for now? Probably???
Okay first off I am so sorry for writing a short story that requires lore to understand. But if you don’t know anything about Gareth and Lynet, I think this story will really make more sense if you read the Wikipedia page about the story. This works out for me, because I really want more people to learn about Lynet! *insert evil laughter here or something*
Anyway, spoilers for a seven hundred year old (or something, I can’t be bothered to count) story: Beaumains is actually Gareth, Gawain’s little brother, in disguise as a kitchen boy for reasons known only to himself. Also you know how Arthur killed babies or something in an attempt to murder Mordred because of the whole prophecy thing and then it was never addressed again in Le Morte D’Arthur? Well, this story is my attempt at (sort of) addressing it.
(Also Gareth has ADHD in this. I don’t go into it too much in this story but yeah forgetting which conversations I’ve had including ones like ‘did I ever tell you about that time one of my family members tried to murder the other one’ is 100% something I would do.)
Here’s my pinterest board for these two characters! Also, I have an AO3 account now? (Also I have nothing to say about my username other than that my sister encouraged me and thus may also be held responsible. Obscure Arthurian in-jokes for the win I guess???) I don’t have anything posted on it so far besides this story, but I do want to write more fanfic, so hopefully I can change that assuming I can write fanfic that I can also convince myself to publish.
Also, on a more serious note, I found this NPR article listing charities doing work in Ukraine that you can donate to!
Lynet was ashamed to admit that she woke up much closer to Beaumains than she had ever meant to get in her life, and even more ashamed to find that he had woken up first. She had thrown an arm over him in her sleep.
She pulled away from him, face uncomfortably hot. Wind howled softly high up in the trees around the clearing. The night air was cold against her skin, making the hair on her arms prickle, and only a few flames guttered in the campfire by now. Lynet wrapped her cloak around herself, not having the energy to try to build the fire back up.
“I’m sorry,” Beaumains said softly, getting up and walking a short distance away before sitting down again. He rubbed at his eyes. “I think I woke you up. I had a nightmare.”
Lynet nodded, only halfway taking the words in. “What about?” she asked. The question suddenly seemed much too personal for some reason.
Beaumains tilted his head as he looked at her, considering. “Did I ever tell you about my younger brother? The youngest of the lot,” he said, with a smile that almost looked bitter.
She looked to the side. Each new thing he revealed about his brothers was stranger than the last, and she suspected he took some pleasure in that fact, which annoyed her. “No,” she said finally. And I don’t want to hear about him, she wanted to say, but she was too tired to carry a confrontation through to the end, so what even was the point?
“I didn’t think I did, but I wouldn’t know. I never remember anything. I heard my uncle drowned him when the boy was a baby.” He stared at his hands, his eyebrows scrunched together.
“Your uncle did what?” Lynet said, her voice much too loud. She stared at him, wishing she could get up and leave to avoid what was going to be an emotional conversation, and aware that doing so would be crueler than even Lynet was willing to be.
A wild animal scratched around in the underbrush behind her, and Lynet couldn’t stop her shoulders from tensing up, something in the back of her mind screaming that someone had finally caught up to them to murder them. It was just a wild animal, and not a very big one, from the sound of it.
If she could do away with knights and chivalry and all those things that had put her into this position, she would in a heartbeat.
“Oh, my uncle killed my younger brother,” Beaumains said, horribly unfazed. She was really too tired to deal with this. “No one speaks of it, but it was certainly either my uncle or…well, the man who was something of a mentor to him. I never figured it out. It happened when I was very young, and I only ever heard people whisper of it after, and they stopped the whispers as well soon enough.” He shrugged, as though he were simply mildly disappointed about this.
“Well…” Lynet worked to find the right words. “I’m sorry?” she hedged.
“Don’t be. I barely remember the poor lad.” Beaumains poked at the dying fire with a stick in a failed attempt to revive it. The fire sputtered, but otherwise didn’t respond. He sighed, gave up, and threw the stick in.
Lynet screwed her face up as she stared at the embers. She tried to reconcile this new information with the other things he’d told her, and she found she couldn’t. “I thought you said your uncle was a good man!” she protested. “What on earth—”
“More than one thing can be true at once,” he said, looking up at her with those keen brown eyes of his. “He’s a good man to many, and a bad man to my dead brother. Assuming he even killed the boy.”
He reminded Lynet of her sister, with those nice words that fell apart as soon as you thought about them for more than a split second. Both of them said such horrible things, and Lynet didn’t think that either meant a word of what they said. At least, she hoped neither of them meant a word of what they said. It was all so unsettling.
Lynet wanted to grab him by the collar and shake him until he said something that made sense. “You can’t commit infanticide and still be a good person,” she said, slowly and forcefully.
Beaumains leaned back onto his elbows, staring up at the stars. “I suppose not,” he said. “But then, I don’t even know that he did it.”
“I would kill someone over my sister,” Lynet said, her fingernails digging into her palms until it hurt. “I wouldn’t be able to rest until I found out—”
“Well, you see, it’s a good thing you’re not me,” he said, with a lopsided grin. “Seems like more people will stay alive this way. I’d kill to not find out. Although I’d rather not kill at all,” he added in a bitter undertone.
Lynet thought of telling him that he wouldn’t have to kill anyone if he simply left saving her sister to a more capable man, but even she had to admit that it was the wrong time. “Why?” she asked. “Why would someone murder a child like that?” She couldn’t wrap her head around the mindless cruelty such an act would take, and she had spent the last year and a half attempting to wrap her head around various acts of mindless cruelty.
Beaumains hesitated for a while before answering. “I don’t know,” he said, with a grimace of a smile. “I never tried to find out.”
“I really don’t understand you.” Her voice came out flat. “I’m sorry for you, but I don’t understand you, and I hope I never will.”
Beaumains let out a laugh. “I hope you never do either,” he said soberly. “I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.” He shifted, rubbing at his forehead. “I never told anyone this story before for a reason,” he whispered, half to himself. “Please speak of this to no one. I don’t know at all if what I overheard was true, and sometimes I convince myself that I never heard it at all.”
Lynet lifted her chin. “I’m not stupid,” she told him. “I know when things should be kept secret. Stop worrying.”
He let out a laugh. “You aren’t half as bad as you pretend to be, you know,” he told her as he went to lie back down. “As foolish as it is, it is a relief to tell someone. So thank you.” He pulled the blanket over himself.
Her cheeks felt hot for some reason. “Shut up,” she snapped. “I despise you, and I want you to shut up.”
“If you wish,” he said, sounding like he was holding back laughter.
Lynet hesitated, before she decided that she was very cold. “Don’t you ever dare speak of this to anyone, either,” she said, as she lay down beside him, wrapping her arms around him for warmth.
“I wouldn’t dream of it, my lady,” he said sincerely, as he pulled a blanket around her.
They fell asleep that way, curled up into each other.
I hope you enjoyed! I kind of feel like it wasn’t my best, but also I don’t care, and I like it well enough. Please, tell me your thoughts!
Hey, I’m finally writing short stories again! The last time I posted one was in January of last year. Let’s just say it’s been a while.
Anyway, I wrote this one for Jem’s prompt linkup, One Quirk Later. The prompt got my gears turning, and then I churned out something with a Victorian mansion that just might be an eldritch abomination, a genderfluid child who is possibly a fairy, and a (mostly) normal guy who is honestly so tired.
One last thing to clear up any possible confusion: the child getting referred to by both he and she pronouns throughout the story is 100% intentional.
Nothing was ever the same twice in the House.
Things shifted and changed, sometimes from moment to moment. Edward was never lucky enough to see it with his own eyes, but sometimes he would look up and find that the walls were now a peaceful sage green instead of the white that they had been a second ago, or he would look down and see hemlock springing up through the floor, as though his floor were a garden instead of part of a house. But it was not his house, though he may live here, and he did not even pay any rent, so he put up with it and did not say anything whenever anything moderately objectionable happened.
He had wandered into this place once, many years ago, and he had never been able to find his way out of the grounds again, for the grounds grew twisted and tangled each time he tried. Edward had been on vacation from Oxford, and quite drunk, and his friends had been very curious about the old ruins of a mansion on the hill. They were much too afraid to come with him, though they had teased him for a coward when he expressed hesitation. Edward supposed they had all gone on to be successful members of parliament, and likely they were all very happy as well.
He was not alone in here, at least. A child followed him around the place, haunting his every step. The child appeared as a boy one moment, and a girl the next, but he knew it was impossible for them to be two different people. Those blank, endless eyes could only belong to one person. The probability of eyes that strange belonging to two children were ridiculously low.
The child had terrified Edward at first. He had been sure that the child was a demon. Perhaps a vampire like in those penny dreadfuls his mother always complained about him reading. But it never did anything, just stared at him with those big blank eyes, and he had been reminded of his old nursemaid’s tales of changelings. A changeling ought to have scared him also, he supposed, but anything was a relief after suspecting himself of having been haunted by a demon.
Ivy covered the library shelves, intertwining too tightly with the books to ever hope to extract them. He doubted it would be much use, even if he had managed it. The books the House tried to create—at least, the only ones he had ever found—had always been fractured in some way, when he tried to look inside. Sometimes literally so, the pages crumbling to pieces and reforming again. Sometimes they were filled with nonsensical hieroglyphs, not Egyptian or any language he would recognize. The only books he had were the ones he had had in his pack he had carried in.
“All I want is to reread Carmilla,” Edward complained to the child, who was currently, incomprehensibly, reading a picture book. He looked over her shoulder. The pictures blurred and reformed into increasingly unfamiliar shapes and colors until he was sure that they must be attempting to depict God. (Not God from the church. That was a watered-down God, made more human so as to be understandable to his followers. This was attempting to depict the God that could leave Edward locked up in a fracturing, unhinging house and still love him.)
The child did not answer. He never did.
“I think I’ll call you Carmilla,” Edward decided. The child looked up at him, narrowing her eyes, which was more of a reaction than he had had all week. Edward responded with a shaky smile. He always thought they were friends, but it was hard to tell with children, especially with fairy children.
The House tried to provide for him, even though it did not know how. The next week, he found a book on the table beside his bed with Carmilla written on the spine in shaky lettering. The words inside were nonsense, of course, written in Latin all jumbled up.
Edward found a piano in the dining room, one day. He looked over it, expecting to find an apple tree bursting out of the body of the piano, or for it to only create sounds that sounded like they might have been produced by one of the odder angels, the ones that were simply concentric rings with eyes. But it sounded the same as any other piano.
“Come here,” he said to Carmilla. The child cocked his head and walked over. “Do you like Mozart?”
She waited, presumably for Edward to say something important.
“I never liked Mozart when I was a child,” Edward continued, “but my mother did, and she taught me to play. I never appreciated it when I was young.” His laugh sounded breathless. “I don’t think I appreciated the things she did for me half as much as I ought.” He sat down, hammering out Mozart’s minuet in G major. His playing was clumsy and graceless, and he often struck the wrong notes, but he had not been able to practice for many years, and he thought he did quite well, considering.
The child listened, fingers twitching, and when Edward had finished, the child played the melody back to him, with perfect intonation and without a single mistake. Edward sighed. “That…that was very good,” Edward said. “If you ever decide to leave the business of haunting places, you ought to become a musician.” Fairy children were supposed to be good with music, Edward remembered from the stories. It wasn’t his fault that the child was better than him, despite the fact that he didn’t think she’d ever touched a piano before.
He played piano the rest of the afternoon, though eventually he ran out of pieces he had memorized, and he had to repeat some, or struggle through the half-remembered ones. The child seemed to enjoy it, all the same.
Edward, while he played, thought that he might remember how to be human like this. He would later think that it was this moment that caused the House’s power over him to weaken, but he would never be sure.
Spring was a time of renewal. The grounds did not always remember to match the seasons—sometimes he would wake up to find a light frost on the ground outside, and the trees orange and gold in the summer—but it tried its best. Edward lay in the orchard, letting the cool sun shine on him, as he reread his Latin textbook for the fifteenth time. He had learned Latin well enough by now to make his old professor weep with joy. Full, red apples weighed down the branches of the trees, alongside white flowers just beginning to unfurl their petals. He picked up an apple that had fallen, turning it over into his hand and wondering if it was worth trying. He shrugged his shoulders and bit into it. It was juicy and sweet, like the apples he had eaten as a young boy stealing from his neighbor’s orchard. There were no apples better than stolen apples, at least not to a child. He laughed to himself, taking another bite.
He looked to the side, wondering if there would be anything at all beyond the orchard or if there would just be a blank nothingness. Sometimes that happened, when he opened doors to rooms that the House had forgotten to fill. His eyes chanced to fall upon a toad in a watering can. He stilled, the apple falling from his hand. He had never seen another living creature in the House before, aside from the child. The toad waited, meeting his eyes, and then it hopped away down a path that had not been there before.
Edward scrunched up his eyebrows, then decided that the toad meant for him to follow. He took another second to decide that he would not be wasting his time. A living creature in this place was a novel enough thing.
The path led down a hill and by a fishpond—stocked with actual koi fish, he would have wept for joy and then talked to them for hours just for the feeling of someone listening if not for the fact that he thought the toad would be very unimpressed—and finally, to a twisted, crumpled silver gate that would not shut all the way, and beyond that was a wood.
“Oh,” he said. “Oh.” This wood was not the hill in Yorkshire that he had walked up to enter the house. In fact, he suspected that the wood was not any place on earth at all, but it was certainly a real, living place, and not something pretending to be that like the House. Or perhaps attempting was the better word; it wanted to be real and living, but it couldn’t quite manage.
Five years of living here, and he still wasn’t sure if it was malevolent or if it simply did not understand.
“Is this place fairyland?” he asked the toad. It did not respond, not particularly having a voice box suited for creating sounds in human languages. Edward looked back uncertainly. The house stood high and proud, in ruins and in the prime of its existence. “What about Carmilla? The child, not the vampire,” he added hastily. He wished, with a keen sense of embarrassment, that he had named the child anything more normal. Jane was a perfectly nice, respectable name.
Edward had never known toads to have expressions, but this one managed to look at him as though he were a blithering idiot. “He can make it out of the house any time she wants to, can’t he?” he said. Edward had always known she was not trapped in the House like he was, but he hated to leave her, all the same. Perhaps Edward would miss him, in a strange way. Perhaps he would miss him quite a bit.
Edward had not the slightest idea what awaited him in the world outside. It might be worse than the House. But he could never go back, any more than he could will himself to jump into a freezing lake with no cause. “Well,” he said. “With my Latin textbook at my side, I feel quite ready to take on anything.” He smiled awkwardly.
He looked ahead, taking a deep breath, and stepped outside the grounds for the first time in what felt like a century. He would survive. Somehow or another, he always did.
Short stories, how I have missed thee. It feels really good to just sink my teeth into a project for two or three hours and then be done with it, lmao. It also feels like it’s been a little while since I’ve written historical fiction, though that may just be because I’ve spent the last two months in fanfic purgatory. It still feels good to get back to the genre even though I haven’t been gone that long, though! Anyway, tell me what you think!
Eheheh I already know how this is going to go (there’s no way I’m not answering fantasy to almost every question), but Kenzie’s post was so fun and I wanted to join in anyway? Why not? Talking about writing is easier than actually writing, anyway. I see no drawbacks here.
And yeah, I should probably address the elephant in the room. I took a long, unplanned hiatus. I’ve been having kind of a rough year, dealing with college burnout, depression, and two of my pets dying? The dog was expected even though it was really sad, because she was really old, but oh man I did not expect the horse. I loved that little man. He was a black Arabian who was an absolute drama queen. He was sometimes very mean (not to me though) and he loved going fast. I miss him.
Anyway, enough about sad stuff! I want to get back to blogging, because I do really like it, but I probably will do it intermittently without a consistent schedule? I want to gradually get back into it, though!
thank the blogger who tagged you, and leave a link back to their blog–Heh, I wasn’t tagged. I stole it off of Kenzie’s blog.
leave a link back to the creator of the tag >> (I mean, technically this bit is optional, but I’d really appreciate a link back, especially if you enjoyed the tag!)–Already done!
answer the questions honestly, and include at least one (1) gif of a pelican >> it’s in the rules, folks. you have to do it.
tag 3+ friends to do the tag on their own blogs! >> and make sure to give them cookies. because that’s always fun.–I will not be tagging anyone, as most of the people I follow are on hiatus right now?? And I’m barely posting either? 2021 has NOT been a good year for my blog feed, understandably.
What is your favorite genre of fiction to write?
Historical fantasy fairy tale retellings. I’m not actually much of a worldbuilding person, but I really like researching and writing historical time periods? I don’t hold myself to being super historically accurate, but it’s nice to have a historical framework to work with! (Although one of my personal pet peeves is when authors try to write about a social issue while having literally no idea about the era. I’ve read a lot of bad ‘feminist’ hist-fic and I hate it here.) And I love fairy tale retellings because I’ve always loved fairy tales in general and they’re so fun to reinterpret? And also plot is not my strong point lmao, so it’s nice to have something already in place to jump off of!
(If you’re wondering, I’ve always considered my strong point to be characterization, but it varies from story to story)
Okay, more specifically, fantasy that’s not super heavy on plot but rather is probably more character-driven, and then throw in some vaguely unsettling vibes. Creepy magic stuff going on. The house is probably sentient. Etc.
What genre would you NEVER get caught writing? . . .EVER.
I, an asexual who has literally never cared about sex outside of ‘oh look, it’s that thing that other people like doing!’, would never write erotica. And also I would never write hard sci-fi, like imagine being into science unironically?
(I’m kidding, I don’t understand science, but I respect the people who do.)
What fictional genre feels most like home to you?
Definitely fantasy. It’s what I grew up reading, and it’s what I grew up writing. It’s hard to explain the specific vibe, but I think it’s whatever Howl’s Moving Castle, Beauty by Robin Mckinley, and the Squire’s tale have in common? Those books were all pretty much my childhood.
In general, I’m not picky about fantasy subgenres, but I’d say my favorite is historical fantasy/historically-inspired fantasy (when it’s done well. I hate bad hist-fic so much.)
If you could transform your real life into any genre of your choosing, which would it be?
This is not a sane answer, but I’ll admit it’s really fun to imagine myself in some political intrigue fantasy or whatever. My personal daydream is being competent and having good social skills. Also Ladies of Grace Adieu got me into writing as a kid and I wouldn’t mind living in the world of those short stories? They were so whimsical and vaguely creepy.
(The prerequisite to me living in a story world, obviously, is that I am competent in ways that allow me to survive in my respective circumstances. I want to be the final girl, if you will.)
What genre does your real life most resemble at the moment?
Honestly, probably a fantasy about the fey. But like, a chill one, not whatever YA fairy books have going on lmao. I will not elaborate ❤
What’s a genre you’re interested in writing, even though you’ve never written it before?
I’ve only ever picked up a couple of superhero comics and I’ve read like…two novels about superheroes, but I’d like to write about them all the same? I have no plot bunnies currently though, lmao.
What genre is your most recent plot bunny, and where did it come from?
Arthuriana! I started reading an Arthurian retelling and got very mad lmao. It was called Half Sick of Shadows and it just. So many bad takes??? It didn’t really feel like an Arthurian retelling either, which…I kind of sympathize, because Arthuriana is very hard to write. Arthurian legends are absolutely sprawling and I feel like it’s hard to capture the absolutely chaotic feel within a normal-sized book? So then a lot of authors end up oversimplifying things until the book just feels like something else entirely.
But anyway! Enough ranting! The point is, I read a book I didn’t like and decided to get back into writing in the same genre! It’s from Morgan’s POV and has absolutely no plot ❤ It’s stressful to write even though it’s also a just-for-fun project because I’m fun like that! (And I wonder why I have so much trouble finishing stories…)
How many genres have you written thus far in your writing journey?
Uh. Probably quite a lot if you count subgenres?
Fairy tale retellings
Urban fantasy (yes I write urban fantasy. yes I still carry scars from the bad urban fantasy I read as a teen. We exist ❤ )
Vampires! Only ever short stories, but they are legitimately fun to write about if you wipe the bad memories of the Twilight copycats from your head
Dystopia but we don’t talk about that one because it was really bad
Writing about Celtic fairies literally got me into writing
Historical fiction. I don’t write a lot of it, but I have written one or two short stories!
I’ve also written a short story about superheroes?
I’ve written mysteries if you count the halfhearted attempts when I was seven that I didn’t finish lmao
I’ve written contemporary sometimes! It’s not the genre I most commonly write in but I do really like attempting to make ordinary life feel magical? It’s very fun and nice?
I remember I wrote one flash fiction piece about aliens when I was fifteen
I can’t think of anything else but I’m quite possibly forgetting something.
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed my exhausted rambling! Please tell me about your favorite things to write and/or favorite plot bunnies in the comments, I want to know. Also, even though I didn’t tag anyone, feel free to steal it if you want!
Greetings, ladies and gentlefolk! I have not been editing the stories I put online lately very much, so I’m sorry if this sucks please don’t kill me ahhhh
I realized I sometimes had trouble writing sapphic stories (@ internalized homophobia), so I wrote a ton of flash fiction in order to try and fix that! And they are all set in uni because I am in uni and it’s terrible! I also made picrews for most of my characters because I found a cute one. And then I made them all with different pride flag backgrounds because pride flags are pretty and I love stripes.
I’m kind of starting to come around to contemporary as a genre. Fantasy is still my favorite, but there is something about the romanticization of everyday life that I love. I do have a hard time finding contemporary stories that I like, but! There are a lot of great contemporary authors out there! And I have a hard time finding stories I like in general. Contemporary romance is honestly a pretty cute genre, and I feel like I’ve been kind of unfair to it in the past (internally, not on the blog).
Anyway, I got the list of prompts from a tumblr blog I stumbled across
prompt: “hey i’m late on our first day and oh no, the only free seat is next to you. wait do you have a pen?”
This has a swear word in it but I’m pretty sure that’s the only content in these?
Also, I love my absolutely bizarre descriptions. ‘handwriting like a 19th century scholar’s if that scholar were really drunk.’ I don’t know what tf that means but it made me laugh. so
The girl next to Miyeon yawned and stretched her arms out. The professor sent her a withering glare, which she answered with an off-center grin. “Sorry for being late,” she drawled, having come in twenty minutes after the start of class. She did not sound sorry at all.
She had wild red hair and dark eyes. She did not look like she gave a fuck about anything. Miyeon was not sure if she should be annoyed or in love.
“You have a pen?” the girl muttered. It took Miyeon a moment to realize she was talking to her. “I forgot mine. I forgot my entire bag, actually.” She was currently taking out a large stack of post-its from her pocket.
Miyeon blinked twice, suddenly not hearing the professor’s lecture on Latin verb endings. She took a pen out of her backpack, fumbling it twice, and slid the pen over to the girl, her ears slightly pink.
“Thanks,” she said, writing down her notes. Miyeon pushed down a smile.
A minute later, the girl slid a post-it note over. “You’re cute,” read the note, in impossibly scrawled handwriting.
Miyeon picked it up in her hands, unsure how to answer. Should she say that she wasn’t currently looking for a relationship? That wasn’t necessarily true, and moreover, would have been presumptuous. It was just a comment. Should she tell her that she thought the girl was cute too?
“What’s your name?” Miyeon’s handwriting looked like that of a disaffected 19th century scholar, if that scholar was really drunk.
“Katherine. God. Call me Kate,” she muttered, looking up at the teacher to see if they had noticed them talking.
Miyeon smiled a bit. She tugged the post-it over and scrawled her phone number down. She supposed it wouldn’t hurt.
She turned toward the professor, determined to listen now, but out of the corner of her eye, she saw Kate give a quiet fist pump under the table.
prompt: “we got paired up for a presentation but we’ve never really spoken and you’re pretty nice despite what other people say”
Oh, wait, this one has another swear word. These are the only ones, though! I double-checked. This story was the hardest for me to write and also the one that veered the farthest away from the prompt
Okay I reread this and wtf is this you can tell i wrote it at like. 3 am
Deryn coughed as she slid into the seat beside Nehama. Nehama’s short black hair fell into her pale face as she stared at her phone with enthralled intensity. She was pretty. Or at least Deryn thought so. She had a soft spot for aquiline noses.
“They say you’ve gotten into a fist fight over ten pounds,” Deryn noted. “And that you’ve singlehandedly stolen the girls of half the men in our dorm. Of course, I don’t believe that one, because Simon is a fucking liar and I don’t believe the girls who would date the men in our dorm have half such good taste.”
Nehama looked up. “Well, you’re right there,” she said. To Deryn’s annoyance, she didn’t seem to register it as a compliment or flirtation, but rather as simple fact. “Tell Simon that his girlfriend is straight and he drove her away all by himself. Of course, I’m not saying I didn’t help.” A rather ferocious grin cut across her face. “In the form of advice,” she added, in response to Deryn’s raised eyebrow.
Deryn nodded slowly. Well, she had not denied the first one. “My roommate tried to tell me all about how you stole her microwave platter when she lived with you,” she said, a smile beginning to crack through her expressionless face. “I remain unsure what she was going on about.”
Nehama threw her head back in a sharp laugh. Deryn couldn’t help but laugh along with her. “She was a–” she paused, lost for words. “Strange. She was strange.” She looked down, almost seeming pensive. “Why are you telling me this?” she asked, her voice casual.
Deryn looked down. “I like to get a good idea of who I’m dealing with,” she said happily.
Nehama crossed her hands behind her head. “And do you have a good idea?” she asked. It was a challenge, but it was a playful challenge.
Deryn looked up at the ceiling, thinking for a minute, and then nodded. “An idiot,” she said. Nehama’s face slowly settled into a scowl. “I like stupid people,” Deryn protested. “Let’s get a coffee together sometime.”
Nehama leaned back slightly, opening her mouth and closing it again. “You mean—” she said finally. She didn’t respond for a moment.
“Yeah,” Deryn said. She crossed her arms. “You aren’t so bad. People are ridiculous. And I think you’re cute.”
“It’s not the weirdest way someone’s asked me out,” Nehama said, a reluctant smile tugging at the corners of her lips. “So sure.”
They shared a mutual, evil smile and returned to their respective tasks.
prompt: “so i totally didn’t spend that entire lecture doodling/on my phone and i had no clue what i was being taught pls help”
I literally love this one so much
The images are a little blurry but I give up, WordPress has defeated me
“Uh.” Gyeong-Suk coughed awkwardly.
“Go away,” Ha-Yun said. They sat on the floor in their apartment that smelled of mold. Ha-Yun’s brown hair was twisted up in a high bun, and she wore an over-sized sweater that she had sewn herself—a dusty pink sweater that she had copied from a 300 dollar one in a magazine.
Gyeong-Suk sat in the center of a notebook circle, looking like she had been summoned from hell in a strange ritual. “Please,” she said. “The lecture was so boring. I couldn’t listen to it. It melted my ears.”
Ha-Yun rolled her eyes. “You were on your phone.”
“Eonni,” Gyeong-Suk said. “You’re so smart. Please let me read your notes.”
Ha-Yun hesitated and slid her the phone with her lecture notes. “I love you. You idiot.”
“Thanks so much,” she said. The full sentence finally hit her. “Oh.” She coughed. “I love you too,” she replied, blushing.
Ha-Yun bit back a sarcastic reply and a smile.
prompt: “it’s 3am and the library is pretty empty but you’re sat there stressing at your laptop, so i brought you a coffee and a bag of chips from the vending machine”
Are any libraries open after 3 am???
This was the first one where things just really clicked for me, which you can tell since it’s about 300 words longer than the other ones
I named a lot of these characters by randomly picking names from Nameberry
Kathleen bit her lip, deeply focused on whatever-it-was on her computer. Probably something for her organic chemistry class. She’d been ranting about that class the most lately.
Mahaila leaned her head into her hand, watching her. She could study Kathleen’s hands for hours. They were long and delicate and spidery, hands that belonged to a pianist or a craftsman. Kathleen’s skin was deep brown, and her eyes were large and expressive. She was the most beautiful girl Mahaila had ever seen, except for herself, of course.
She coughed slightly, but Kathleen didn’t so much as glance at her.
Mahaila was, in general, widely considered to be charming, both in platonic and romantic contexts. Sometimes, in fact, she could be a little too charming and create trouble for herself. It was a trait that had gotten her places, though, and she wouldn’t have traded it for the world—but she would have traded it for Kathleen. She didn’t think Kathleen had ever looked at her as anyone more than someone to study with.
She didn’t think Kathleen looked at most people as much more than someone to study with, but that didn’t take away the sting.
She sighed and shook her head, looking at her. No one else was in the library. It was now three in the morning, the windows pitch-black outside, and no one else was desperate enough for a grade or a friend to be here.
“You should sleep,” Mahaila said finally. “You’ll get better grades if you sleep.” She sent Kathleen a teasing smile that was lost on her, for Kathleen did not once look up from her notebook.
“You can if you want,” she said. Her voice was hoarse. She hesitated, her hand held in suspension above the page. “It’s not like I’ll be able to sleep anyway.” The statement was a raw admission of guilt, and Mahaila couldn’t for the life of her figure out what she’d just wandered into.
“I think you can talk to doctors about that,” Mahaila ventured—
“Don’t have enough money.” There was no sound for a moment but the clatter of the keyboard.
“Oh,” Mahaila muttered. She stood up and stretched. Well, at least she could do something for the poor fool. She wandered outside to the library entrance and got a coffee from the vending machine. She came back and placed it next to Kathleen’s keyboard.
Their hands brushed. Mahaila froze. Kathleen jerked back, too. Mahaila wasn’t sure if that was a good sign or a bad one.
She decided to pretend it hadn’t happened, and Kathleen seemed determined to do that, as well. “What are you majoring in?” she asked.
Mahaila looked down to hide a smile. “Nothing half so difficult,” she said. “Although it is hard, I guess. Literature.”
They didn’t speak for the rest of the night, but it was enough. It turned into a ritual for them, over the next week. They stayed up late at the library. Mahaila brought Kathleen a coffee when she started to look too tired or frustrated. Mahaila pulled one small conversation from Kathleen each time. Kathleen liked foxes. Kathleen could spend hours staring at the stars. Kathleen could be a bit spiteful. Kathleen was wonderful.
“My chemistry project’s almost done,” Kathleen said carefully one morning, taking a sip from her coffee.
Mahaila glanced up, her gaze guarded. “Oh, really?” she asked. She attempted a smile. “Congratulations.”
Kathleen nodded and thumbed through her notes. The morning sun streamed through the window. “So I guess I won’t be coming here as often,” she muttered. Mahaila fancied she sounded disappointed.
“I guess not,” Mahaila said, subdued.
Kathleen stared intently at the floor. Her eyes had never been as expressive as they were now. She looked flooded, overwhelmed. “I don’t want to finish my project,” she said finally.
Mahaila chuckled to herself. “Weirdo,” she teased, shaking her head.
“No, that’s not true,” Kathleen said. A frown creased her forehead. “I want to finish my project. I don’t want to stop spending time with you.”
Mahaila’s breath caught. She looked up and stared. Had they finally become…friends?
“I never thought I’d feel this way for anyone. There hasn’t ever been anyone I wanted to spend this much time with.”
Mahaila flicked her eyes upward and prayed for patience.
“I want to spend…a lot of time with you,” Kathleen said, her voice as raw as when she confessed that she could not sleep. “Mahaila, do you want…do you want to get a coffee together after class?”
Mahaila took a moment to gather herself together. “Are you…asking me out?” she said, before she could think better of it. Of all possible outcomes, she hadn’t expected this.
“I guess,” Kathleen said, her voice suddenly watery. “I’m asexual. That doesn’t matter, does it?” She stared up at her. Mahaila couldn’t help but feel her soul was being dissected.
“Of course not, of course not.” She waved her hands. “I’d like to get a coffee together.”
They stared at each other for a moment, both of them fragile and unsteady. They sat down. But now Mahaila sat next to her, and they did not flinch away from each other when their hands touched.
prompt: “you came over to hang out but i fell asleep while you were playing video games and two hours later you’re still here”
personally, i think this story is pretty cute
Bahira woke up with a start and rubbed her eyes. “Dreamed I failed all my college coursework,” she muttered. She took a moment to orient herself. She was on the couch. The leak on the ceiling was still dripping into a bucket—an old emergency, already taken care of. Clanging came from the general direction of the kitchen. That was new. She should probably check that out. She sat up.
Someone was humming loudly and offkey. If someone had broken into her house yet again, Bahira was going to commit crimes. She grabbed a broom from beside the door and slammed the door open. The person in her kitchen dropped a pot lid with a yelp.
“Oh, it’s you.” Bahira’s shoulders slumped in relief. “You haven’t left yet?”
Finian shrugged. “Did you want me to?” She stirred the pot, which currently contained unidentifiable brown stuff. It didn’t smell too good.
Finian was a fat girl, with apricot-colored short hair and fair skin. She was beautiful, a god in a dingy apartment with a flickering lightbulb. Bahira’s lips quirked.
“Of course I want you to stay,” Bahira said with a yawn. “But I thought you would have gotten bored and gone home. I’ve been asleep for a while.” She checked her watch. “Two hours.”
“I got kind of caught up in the video game,” Finian admitted. “I wanted to make you dinner before I left. Sometimes you forget.”
Bahira nodded. That was true. She was not, however, looking forward to Finian’s cooking. “I’m sure your dinner will be wonderful,” she said.
Bahira leaned back in her chair, staring at the dying lightbulb until she had spots in her vision. She hated to bring things up and disturb the peace. She hated to let things stay as they are and rot.
“You like me, don’t you?”
Finian’s hand slipped on her spoon. She cursed, nearly dropping it. “Of course I like you,” she said comfortingly.
“I mean like like,” she said. Oh, she might as well say it. She didn’t move a muscle. “Love.”
“Uh—” Finian was starting to sound more and more panicked, and Bahira cursed herself for bringing it up. “Yeah. Yeah, I guess I do.”
Bahira blinked several times. She told herself it was to get the spots out of her vision. “I—I like you too,” she said, her voice quiet. “I guess.”
“I mean, we always knew, right?” Finian asked. She started to spoon the glop into a bowl. She paused, looking at the floor. “Let’s start seeing each other,” she said in a rush. “Make it official or something.”
“That sounds like a good idea to me too.” Bahira reminded herself to breathe.
She’d eat Finian’s cooking every day of her life if it meant that Finian would be there every day of her life. She’d give anything for her.
Finian cracked a smile. “That—That’s wonderful.”
prompt: “wow my lecture sucked ass, i’m stressed asf and here we are at the on campus bar at 11:59am waiting to buy a drink because it’s been that kind of a day already”
haha i accidentally put in a lot of my feelings about college and dysphoria and made this way too personal oops haha
I’m lowkey regretting my decision to mostly not edit these
Cole slumped onto the seat beside Abigail, downing her margarita before saying anything. The bar was dead quiet aside from the occasional clink of a glass from the employees. The lighting was dim. Cole nestled into a corner. It was a perfect place to hide.
“Bad day, huh?” Abigail asked with a quirk of her lips.
Cole grimaced. Everything felt uncomfortable. Her name, her clothes, people’s perception of her. “Kinda,” she said. She shook her drink around, enjoying how the ice clinked together. “Nothing makes sense.”
“Nothing ever makes sense,” Abigail said comfortingly. She chewed on her lip, considering her. “This is probably a bad time to bring up…what I wanted to, then.” She coughed.
Abigail showing any sort of foresight was rare, so Cole made sure to thank her. They sat still in silence that grew heavier the longer it went on.
“Look—” They finally both said.
“You can go first,” Cole said.
Abigail waved her hand at her in a motion to continue. Cole sighed and rubbed her forehead. She didn’t really want to explain…anything.
“I don’t feel like a guy,” she muttered. “I don’t get it. I’ve started referring to myself as a girl just because it makes me feel better. My teachers suck. I’ve been barely able to stay on top of my homework and now more is just piling up. I literally hate it and I’m not sure if I’m going to be able to graduate.” She took a deep breath. “Sorry. What were you going to say?”
Abigail opened her mouth, changed her mind, and took a long sip of her beer. “That’s a lot. So you’re trans?”
Cole had never really thought of herself that way. “Yeah, I guess.” She shifted, stretching out her legs. There was a squirming sensation in her stomach. “This is like when I found out I was asexual because I accidentally clicked a Wikipedia link,” she muttered. “Except more painful.”
“How come you wouldn’t be able to graduate?” Abigail sank into her seat and leaned forward, looking like she was resisting temptation to grab Cole and physically shake answers from her.
“Well, I don’t…” Cole scratched her ear. “I don’t know,” she admitted.
Abigail nodded, hanging onto her every word.
“I guess I kind of exaggerated that part to myself,” Cole said, coughing.
“Do you still like the name Cole?” she asked.
“Uh…” Cole hated having to make snap decisions. “I guess,” she said. “I might change it later, but…” She shrugged. “It’s fine.”
Abigail patted her hand. “If you have problems with your homework, I can help,” she said. “I’m not as busy this semester.”
Soft jazz music came on the radio.
“Thanks,” Cole muttered. “So what were you going to tell me?”
A pink flush spread over Abigail’s cheeks. “Well, uh…” She coughed loudly. “It’s fine, I can tell you later.”
Cole tilted her head almost imperceptibly.
“Well, I was going to ask you out,” she admitted. “I always pick the worst timing on these things. One time I asked a guy out and it turned out his dog had died that morning. It was the worst experience of my life.”
Cole almost cracked a smile. “If you’re interested in girls, I’ll accept,” she said.
Abigail laughed. “Honey, I’m bi as—” She coughed. She’d said a little while back that she’d been trying to cut back on swearing, but she rarely followed through on those kinds of things. “AF,” she said instead. There was room for all things to change.
Cole gave her a fistbump. “I like having a girlfriend,” she said, with a smile. “Thanks for helping me get things worked out.”
“I like having a girlfriend too,” Abigail said, with an absolutely devoted smile. “You’re welcome.”
Hopefully this wasn’t too terrible! I don’t really mind showing my practice stuff, though
My sister refused to read through my stories before I posted them, so I’m cyberbullying her now. [Edit: I meant to edit this sentence out, I–oops]
Yeah, I’m aware this topic contains a lot of well-tread ground already, but I’ve got to get my revenge on those terrible fantasy novels I read as a kid somehow.
I’ve had kind of a rough year–I’ve been super depressed, college homework is hard, and to top it off, my grandfather died a couple months ago due to covid complications. It was just not fun. 🙃 It hasn’t been all bad though, and I really want to write and blog more? Hopefully?? Anyway, enough about me. Let’s talk about bad fantasy heroines.
I’m sure you’ve met the character type before. (If not, I will be hitting you up and blackmailing convincing you with mild force to let us switch lives and reading experiences.) This female character is tough. She’s like a man, but better. She looks down her nose at more feminine characters as she mows down a zombie horde, and she’s horrified by the fact that her stuffy aunt wants her to wear a DRESS and EMBROIDER, and despite living in a historical period, she acts like no historical woman ever. Which is a good thing, because historical women are WEAK. And our heroine isn’t weak. Insert some faux-feminism into the story and demonize every woman who is not our heroine–these are crucial steps–and done! You have created a Strong Female Character.
God, I’m giving myself flashbacks.
Here’s the thing, YA authors of my childhood. Women aren’t naturally weak. Just because “Womyn are kept under the thumb of the patriarchy and are treated like chattel!1!!” doesn’t make those women weak, and that goes even for the women who act like how society wants them to. Especially for the women who act like how society wants them to, in fact. Living up to such high expectations is impressive! Stop denigrating people who haven’t done anything wrong!
And femininity isn’t weak. Femininity is pretty cool, actually. I’m pretty sure all the authors who write characters sneering at sewing and embroidery have never sewn or embroidered anything in their lives. It’s hard! Sewing is really, really hard and takes a lot of practice and skill and sometimes math to get right. It’s an art form.
POV: You are a sewer. You’ve been working on a dress for weeks. It’s your finest creation, taking all of your skill and imagination. You’ve put so much of yourself into creating something beautiful, something that you love and that other people will love. You pick up a YA novel, one with four stars on Goodreads and Amazon. “Women who sew are dumb!” Snippy YA Heroine says. “I sure can’t breathe in this corset!” You close the book in disgust and wonder when authors will open a history book.
(Corsets don’t. They don’t choke you. Sometimes they can! But that means you’ve either been tightlacing or else the corset doesn’t fit. ALSO, CORSETS AND STAYS ARE DIFFERENT THINGS. PSA.)
Hey, I just had a thought. I wonder if sewing would still be considered weak if men did it? I bet it wouldn’t, huh? It’s almost like we denigrate women’s work just because women do it, and not because it’s inherently bad…Nah, that can’t be it. It must just be that math, fighting, and not showing emotions are considered good because they ARE good! Men must just like better things. Hah! Silly women.
And a lot of traits that are traditionally coded as feminine are…good, actually? Being kind, compassionate, and a good parent is not like…a crime. It takes a lot of strength, funnily enough. Which isn’t to say that there aren’t good parts to masculinity as well, because there are, but masculine traits are not ‘more strong’ than feminine traits. Being brave and outspoken is great! So is being humble and kind. (And that’s not to set up a dichotomy between the two. You can absolutely be both.) And I don’t want to hear ANYBODY say that crying or otherwise showing emotion is weak. Crying is your body’s way of processing emotions, and it’s quite effective. In fact, stigmatizing every human reaction except anger and violence is how you get toxic masculinity! Huh, imagine that.
Anyway, call me crazy, but I think that ‘femininity is bad, actually’ is an incredibly bad take for a feminist to have. Of course, maybe I’m just blinded by the patriarchy. /s
And I want the women to be friends! Just! A woman–or, for that matter, a person–does not have to be an island in order to be strong!
And a character doesn’t need to be strong. They need to feel like a person.
Let women be weak. Let them be passive, let them be quiet and meek. Let them have a quiet strength, or let them be cowardly. Because women are people, and sometimes people are all of those things. And then let your other women be strong and brash and brave, because sometimes people are those things, too.
You know who’s a good Strong Female Character? Eowyn. She has a motivation for wanting to fight, she doesn’t look down on other women for being different from her, and she recognizes that being in a war is bloody and awful but she wants to fight anyway because she both wants to be there with her family and is suicidal, at least in the book. She’s amazing and awesome and I SHIP HER AND FARAMIR SO HARD (sorry, random Farawyn outburst that happens to me every once in a while). I kind of get the sense that all these Strong Female Characters are trying to be Eowyn and failing, because the authors don’t get what made Eowyn work in the first place.
She’s just…REALLY cool.
My hot take is that damsels in distress are cool, actually. Sue me. The issue isn’t that “The woman sat around and waited for some guy to save her, what a COWARD.” The issue is when a woman is a) put in distress in order to get her out of the way because who has time to write a woman, am i rite lads, or b) put in distress in order to be a motivation for the hero. “Oh noes! Princess Erlandia was kidnapped by the dastardly villain! I CAN’T back out of this plot now! Wait what was her name again”
Women who fall into misfortune and can’t get out without help? Not a problem. And yes, that includes women who get saved by men. Sometimes…it…happens??? I don’t get why people make such a big deal out of it? Though I will admit women saving each other is *chef’s kiss* amazing. Anyway, #StopDemonizingCinderellaForBeingAnAbuseSurvivorChallenge
(I feel like a lot of the narrative around feminism and fairy tales is…deeply weird. I’d like to do an article on that but other people have done it better, I think. In sum, they are LEGENDS told in like 300 words and if you really want to go there, a lot of men in these stories wait around and get saved by old ladies!! The focus is not on the characters and I’m sorry you didn’t get the modern novel you were expecting?? A lot of fairy tales are WAY more female-focused than the literature of the era was and it seems very strange to me to assume that just because men collected the tales, that means women weren’t telling them.
AND STOP. DEMONIZING. CHARACTERS WHO ARE ABUSE SURVIVORS FOR ACTING THE WRONG WAY AND NOT BEING ‘STRONG.’ I SEE YOU PEOPLE TALKING THAT WAY ABOUT CINDERELLA AND RAPUNZEL AND I HATE IT.)
And also, last complaint I promise, but I feel like female friendships don’t always get a lot of depth? A lot of them are, at worst, disgustingly wholesome and thrown in for the brownie points, and at best, not as memorable as a lot of male relationships I can think of. I’m perfectly willing to admit this may be the books I’m reading, because YA has a habit of letting the main romantic relationship be the juggernaut to end all juggernauts the main focus, but I don’t know. Can any of y’all think of female friendships in modern literature that are as developed and memorable as, say, Frodo and Sam? I just want more really developed female relationships that are allowed to be the focus of a story. And I don’t just mean romantic relationships.
Tl;dr: THERE’S MORE THAN ONE KIND OF STRENGTH TO BE FOUND ON THIS EARTH, AUTHORS. And also develop your female relationships for the love of God. Things that you shouldn’t talk about if you can’t be normal about it: 1) femininity, 2) fairy tales, and 3) abuse survivors. Oh, and 4) corsets.
P.S.: When I say mean things about YA, I’m joking. I literally write YA, that’d be pretty hypocritical of me, lol.
Anyway! Let your women be messy and beautiful and ugly, my good people. Good night, and happy early Gawain and the Green Knight Day Christmas and Hanukkah to all who celebrate! Man, I wish I could get a sexy guy to come through my door this Christmas and challenge me to a game in which I behead him and then have to go to his castle and get hit on by both him and his wife but then I don’t get beheaded because I’m too sexy. Alright I’m sorry for making you read that last sentence, I’m out (but also, please God let this happen to me)
No, I have no idea if I’m going to do Nanowrimo or however you say it, but I still plan on writing this story sometime this year if college doesn’t eat me alive and this linkup looked like fun, so! Anyway.
[Edit: I realized I forgot to give the link to Christine’s linkup! It’s here if you want to do it. Anyway, thanks to Christine for the questions! I KNEW I had forgotten most of the intro. Oops.]
1. What first sparked the idea for this novel?
I’ve been wanting to write a Southern Gothic fantasy like Raven Boys for a while. I’m not technically sure if this is a Southern Gothic at all but hey! Who cares! I’ve loved Tam Lin since I was a kid, and I have a…complex relationship with the South that I hope I get to explore while I write? The story has a high chance of devolving into a dumb paranormal romance though lmaooo
Also, the only thing I’ve ever read in my genre are two short stories and Raven Boys. This has absolutely no chance of going wrong! (I’m not even sure if it’s going to end up a Southern Gothic.)
2. Share a blurb (or just an overall summary if you’d prefer)!
Let’s see if I can do this (I refuse to apologize for cringiness)…
Janet Harrow’s sister is dead. She’s dead, and she isn’t coming back. But Janet keeps seeing her anyway. Well, Janet has always suspected she was going insane.
But when her sister turns out to perhaps not be so dead after all, the only people who seem to hold any answers are the vaguely unsettling and–worse–annoying group of drifters she met in her woods. They are not safe people, but if the strange boy with them who speaks in riddles and half-truths is the only person who will tell her the things she needs to know, then so be it.
*points above* I spent way longer on that than was necessary. All of this is subject to change, of course. This entire post is subject to change. My life is subject to change.
3. Where does the story take place? What are some of your favorite aspects about the setting?
In Texas! I like the creepy forests, and as I said above, I do hope I’ll be able to write in my weird feelings about the South.
4. Tell us about your protagonist(s).
I wish I had cool faceclaims for these guys or something. Usually I do, I just couldn’t find anyone who looked like these characters?
Janet | ISTJ | Suspicious of change | Imminently practical until she isn’t xoxo | Smart | straightforward | Makes good grades | Tries to be normal but fails actually | Has OCD and probably depression, too | She’s black and pansexual let’s just hope I don’t make a mess of representation ahhhh | Kind of tall | An actual mess | Extremely introverted, but has decent social skills | Look when I say she has decent social skills I mean she has Lan Zhan’s social skills which is to say that her social skills are horrible but everyone thinks of her as the soul of respectability for some reason | I’m sorry for sneaking in another Untamed joke
I tried looking up a picture for Tam Lin, but all I could find were Cole Sprouse knockoffs and thirst traps. Thanks, Pinterest.
Tam Lin | A bisexual idiot | That’s it that’s his only personality trait | A drama queen | ENFP | Very empathetic but not actually compassionate | He might end up being genderfluid | Musically gifted and WILL use it for evil | Very cheerful most of the time, even when the situation makes cheerfulness a wildly inappropriate reaction | He’s white and he has dark hair and…wow, I can’t write descriptions?? He, uh *gestures to face* good cheekbones! He has good cheekbones! And…clear skin! A jawline sharp as a knife?
(As a side note, why does literally every YA hero get described this way…Normal teenagers won’t kill you, authors.)
All of the side characters are completely underdeveloped except for Janet’s brother, so I’m glad no one asked about them! *shoves them under table*
5. Who (or what) is the antagonist?
Everyone is undeveloped! Yay!!
I mean, there’s going to be an evil fairy queen I guess. Except she’s more like an evil self-designated queen because she’s the head of a tiny community. That’s it.
6. What excites you the most about this novel?
Uh…everything? I kind of mentioned it up there when I talked about how I got the idea for it. But also, I have it in my head as a cross between a horror and a rom-com, and I don’t know if the finished product is going to turn out that way, but I love it.
7. Is this going to be a series? standalone? something else?
Definitely a standalone. God help me if I write more than one of these.
8. Are you plotting? pantsing? plansting?
Pantsing! I have a few scenes I want to incorporate but I am making it ALL up as I go along. It’s kind of a more relaxed, character-driven story (read: it has no plot) so I think pantsing will work for this one. Hopefully!
9. Name a few unique elements about this story.
I haven’t read a story like it before? So there’s that? It does share a lot in common with my other stories, though. I insert weird horror elements, I write two faux-sexy protagonists, and I call it a day.
I guess I haven’t seen many people give their take on redneck fairies, which is a crying shame. More people should do this. Tbh, a lot of books I’ve read about fairies are kind of boring, and I want more original ideas? Anyway, I’m not saying that making fairies into gay rednecks will save the fairy genre, or that my story is in anyway good or tasteful, but I am saying that I think gay redneck fairies are interesting and I would like to see that more than…whatever authors were doing when I was a teen. *side-eyes*
(I read great books when I was a teen, but I also read some really weird ones, and I want to know what was up with all the sexual harassment in bad fairy books. Will I do this? Is it simply the plight of any author who writes about fairies? Were the authors required by law to put in at least one pervy and unnecessary scene? Is there a curse??)
10. Share some fun “extras” of the story (a song or full playlist, some aesthetics, a collage, a Pinterest board, a map you’ve made, a special theme you’re going to incorporate, ANYTHING you want to share!).
Oh gosh. I made a Pinterest board somewhere but I put it on private? It’s somewhere I guess?
Okay here we go. I love making Pinterest boards it’s so relaxing.
I was going to make a joke about how obvious it is I wrote this at three in the morning, but I write all of my posts at three in the morning and I think the joke is getting a bit old. But, uh…Wow, you can tell I wrote this at three in the morning.
Ah, the chosen one. Just saying (or typing) the phrase is enough to send a shudder deep through the souls of many out there. There was a time when you could not escape from this character type in fantasy. They were EVERYWHERE. Chosen ones were annoying and numerous, like flies. I have said before that hating on cliches just because they’re cliche can be kind of silly, for lack of a better word; just because a trope is done a lot doesn’t necessarily make it bad, and for the most part, the execution of the trope is what makes a story awful, not the trope being there in the first place. But I will still admit chosen ones can get on my nerves. I’m not saying I actively avoid books with this trope, but I’ve never sought them out. Although–I do kind of miss seeing these types of books in bookstores. There’s a type of nostalgia, not in reading the stories (heavens no), but in reading the bad book blurbs. I’m an early 2000’s kid, you little ones out there don’t understand.
Actually, I’m just really weird.
But I’ve softened on this trope over the years. (Over the course of last year, actually.) Chosen ones and prophecies are bad when they’re lazily used, but the tropes aren’t bad in and of themselves. The issue is that, instead of actually trying to say something about fate vs. free will or the struggle of responsibility, the prophecy is only ever used as a way to push the plot forward. Gotta wrangle that hero in there somehow! Now quick! We’ve got a dark lord to defeat and a poorly-developed love interest to shove in our hero’s path!
Instead of being used to enforce the story’s themes, the trope is just used to remove agency from the main character. A prophecy is not the same thing as a motive, and treating it like one can be story-breaking in some cases. What’s more interesting, a hero who tries to defeat the dark lord with no way of knowing who will win because that’s what the hero wants to do, or a hero who tries to defeat the dark lord because a prophecy says he will? And that’s not even getting into the implications imbedded in the trope of how only special people can accomplish things and if you aren’t special you might as well not even try.
But! I still don’t think this trope is all bad! I’ll admit I DEFINITELY like it better when it’s subverted, but even played straight, I’ve still seen portrayals I like. Weak motivations and vaguely weird undertones can definitely be overcome with the right amount of witty banter and fun dynamics and painful angst. (Okay, I’ll admit that I’m struggling to come up with any examples of the chosen one trope played straight, just because I don’t read a lot of chosen one stories. Was the trope played straight in Kung Fu Panda?)
This trope honestly has SUCH fertile ground for subversions, though. I’ve seen some people say that even subverting the trope is pointless because everyone’s already done everything you can do with the trope already and I’m just **insert confused face here**. People have been writing for a millenium and everyone has already done everything you can do with a LOT of tropes. That doesn’t mean the execution of the tropes can’t still be interesting.
Off the top of my head, I can list several subversions I’ve never read in a story before: A chosen one cracks under the pressure, abandons the prophecy, and doesn’t get pulled back into the plot, leaving his friends to pick up the pieces of the abandoned plot thread, so to speak. A chosen one becomes friends with the villain and fulfilling the prophecy becomes something horrifying to them. An ACTUAL pacifist–not a fake one, sorry Aang–becomes the subject of a prophecy about killing the villain, and does not find it pleasant. Just…there are a ton of subversions that I haven’t seen done before, and even if it were true that all the subversions have already been done, that still doesn’t mean that interesting stories can’t still be made using this trope.
Anakin was the first character that really made me think I could love this trope. He’s the chosen one, supposedly, but it’s all very murky and he ends up killing a bunch of people and was the prophecy even real?? Did he fulfill the prophecy by killing Palpatine, even though Anakin still destroyed the Jedi order? Did he fulfill the prophecy by destroying the Jedi order and killing Palpatine? It’s a very weird subversion of the trope, and I honestly enjoyed it so much.
I LOVE chosen ones with fall arcs, okay? It’s such an interesting subversion. I mean, I love fall arcs in general. But chosen one fall arcs are especially interesting because of the things you can do with it. What’s the intersection between fate and free will? Is the prophecy nonsense or is there some kind of twist? How do you defeat someone with fate on their side, actually? And I love characters who are on the wrong side of the prophecy, too. What would the knowledge that a person is going to turn evil and there’s nothing they can do about it do to a person?
Mordred: so i’m destined to destroy a kingdom
Me: you’re doing great sweetie 😍😊😋😍🥰
Anyway, it’s 2020 and I personally think it’s time for chosen ones to make a comeback. The trope has a lot of potential, and just because it got turned into a lazy plot device doesn’t mean it has to stay that way. I’d love to see more authors do original stuff with prophecies and chosen ones! I’ll briefly turn my whump-addict mode on and say that I mostly like prophecies that end horribly like in Greek tragedy, but that’s not a prerequisite for me to like this trope in a story. I like exploring concepts like fate and free will, and I like the idea of being destined for something you aren’t sure if you want at all.
Anyway, tell me your thoughts on this topic! I want to know if there are any subversions of this trope you particularly like or if you like the trope at all. Are there any stories with chosen ones you love? And I’m sorry this article is bad–I’m in college and my brain cells are dying (at least I have an excuse now lmao)
*shrieks, falls off a cliff that symbolizes existential horror and despair*
I’m kidding, I’m kidding, it’s not THAT bad. Just…stressful. I haven’t been blogging that much this year, because of depression, and I think college is probably going to impact my ability to blog even more, so that’s not really fun.
Also, why!! am I able to write PERFECTLY until I have to do an assignment!! Why is that??
I’ve been writing way, way more lately. Unfortunately, I have not been organized enough to pick a specific project. So I’ve been randomly working on fanfics, some Arthurian stuff, and one Tam Lin retelling that may or may not be going anywhere?
Yeah, the Tam Lin retelling is like…I’m going for a Southern Gothic feel, so think Flannery O’Conner meets Twilight, lol. It’s a contemporary fantasy. Mostly. I mean, it’s as contemporary as the southern US can get. The south is kind of a timeless place. Sure, we have cars. We have internet. But nothing changes. It’s not…It’s not a good quality, actually.
Also, I’ve noticed my male characters tend to fit into two archetypes, which is either ‘evil bard’ or else ‘got high in the woods.’ Which one is Tam Lin going to fit into? I will see.
Getting off track, this is kind of personal, but I’ve kind of been questioning as far as my gender identity? I think I’m agender. Oops. I feel like that’s something that probably shouldn’t have surprised me, in retrospect.
I’ve been taking a dance appreciation course (save me), so I’ve been watching a lot of Bharatanatyam dance (am I spelling that right? I hope so). I should probably spend less time watching dances I like and more time actually doing my homework, but oh well!
Go on…Get lost in the rabbit hole of Indian classical dance. I promise you won’t regret it. (Unless you have homework to do.)
Also, why hasn’t Disney adapted an Indian folk tale yet? India has such a rich music and dance tradition, and I think an Indian director (or someone who was dedicated to faithful representation) could do a really good job with this.
I’ve also been listening to some Bollywood soundtracks!
The color scheme of this dance is so beautiful. As is the music. I’ve never watched the movie, but!! the dance!!
Also, just a rant because I feel like it: My sociology classmates are awful? We were talking about taboo foods and I mentioned dogs as a food that’s taboo in America (which in retrospect I REALLY should have known better than to do), and then suddenly my classmates started making ‘Chinese eat dogs’ jokes. I was really caught off guard, so I wasn’t able to really shut it down. Anyway, I hate them now! Yay
On a different, more cheerful note, I’ve also been watching Flower of Evil? It’s great so far! The drama is about the son of a serial killer, and the son is suspected of being the accomplice, so he takes a fake identity and…marries a cop. And it’s funny because you think at first that he’s totally faking his love for her, he’s evil and is just manipulating her and all that–he isn’t. He’s absolutely in love with her, he just thinks he’s faking it because trauma
Anyway, that’s all, folks! Wish me luck in college, I guess.
Hello! PLEASE ENJOY MY ABOMINATION. Thank you, and good night. *bows*
Okay, I guess this requires a bit more introduction than that. Jem created a flash fiction prompt linkup a couple of months ago, and I finally got in on the fun and wrote something for it. So please enjoy…whatever this story is.
I came up with something involving fairies, much talk of murder, and small children, as you do. Please enjoy (or don’t enjoy. It’s your business, after all, and no one else’s).
(Does anyone else ever get the urge to apologize for everything they write? I don’t know why, it’s not like a bad story is a crime against humanity. Usually, anyway.)
The little girl with the long red hair crept away from her birthday party. It was not really her party. Her mother had invited lots of children, a few she knew and many she didn’t. The party was too loud. Mary had almost cried at the noise when one of the girls popped a balloon, but she didn’t, because her mother would have called her whiny. Why were little kids so loud? Did she scream like that when she played?
Mary slumped to the ground underneath a tree. She could still see her house from where she sat on the hill, a tiny blue dollhouse of a thing. The hill smelled of grass and fresh rain.
The forest was directly behind her, dark and tangled. Ellie, one of the girls at the party, had tried to scare her with some story about her brother finding a monster in the woods. Mary sniffed. How stupid. She was careful not to look behind her, though, just in case. It wouldn’t make any difference if she saw the monster coming or not, but it felt better not to look.
A monster’s not what I need to worry about, Mary thought. The only thing I should be worried about is what Mother will say when she finds out I’ve run off from my own—from my own party— She should not have had to run off from her own party. She should have enjoyed herself. It should have been a day when her parents paid attention to her, not one where they invited a bunch of kids over and left her to do her own thing with people she didn’t know and was apparently supposed to like. Her eyes watered and she began to cry in earnest.
She sat like that for what felt like ten minutes. Her breaths came in gasps by the end of it, and her face was warm and sticky. Nothing made sense. She couldn’t untangle one feeling from another. The ground blurred as her eyes watered again.
“Crying doesn’t seem to do anything,” a lilting voice said from above her. “Except make your face blotchy. Why do you cry? It seems…” The voice paused. “Counter-intuitive.”
Mary jumped to her feet, her hands balled into fists. “I heard that,” she snapped. She didn’t know who this person was. How dare he come and interrupt her crying session? Couldn’t she even cry in peace on her birthday? And it was rude to call someone blotchy.
“You were supposed to!” His laughter sounded like the wind rustling the trees. She whirled to see a boy sitting on a tree branch, one knee pulled up to his chin. It looked like a precarious position, but he seemed comfortable. He had brown, curly hair that came down to his shoulders, and he wore a red tunic, a gold torc, and several bracelets. She almost thought he was a girl at first.
She couldn’t tell how old he was. Either a tall boy, or a short man. She blinked, puzzled. “You look like a Lord of the Rings character,” she said blankly. “Why are you dressed weird?”
“No one but my mother is allowed to comment on my fashion choices,” he answered smugly, crossing his arms. “And my mother’s dead. So why are you crying?”
Mary pursed her lips together, looking down. She thought about it for a few minutes, but wasn’t able to piece the answer apart. “I guess I don’t know why,” she answered. “I’m sorry your mother’s dead.”
He leaned his head back toward the sky, as if he were contemplating a great philosophical question. “So you do something that gets your face blotchy for no reason,” he said. He didn’t sound critical, but that didn’t stop her from glaring. “Fascinating. And you don’t need to be sorry about my mother. You didn’t kill her.”
The wind blew through her long hair. What an eejit, Mary decided. She crossed her arms. “I guess one could say crying makes me feel better,” she said stiffly.
He flashed a smile, showing sharp teeth. The smile sent shivers down Mary’s back. She couldn’t say why.
He was going to kill her. It felt like he was going to kill her. But that was stupid. How often did one stumble on murderers? So she ignored her prickling spine.
“So, perhaps a better response to distress than murder,” he replied, making her jump. “But maybe not as efficient.” His eyes were always laughing. “I should inform my brothers. They are always trying to kill things, but perhaps they should try crying instead.” He nearly fell out of the tree cackling. “I cannot imagine my brothers crying,” he explained in response to her raised eyebrow. That had not been what she wanted to ask.
“I’m sorry you have brothers who…try to kill everyone all the time?” she said slowly. She should be running away by now. She never ran away until it was too late.
He paused, looking genuinely puzzled. Why was he confused by her? He was the confusing one. “You didn’t cause them to kill anyone, either,” he pointed out. “Why do you keep apologizing for things you didn’t do?”
“Well…because—” It was her turn to flounder. “Sometimes people just say ‘sorry’ because they’re sorry for what you’re going through,” she explained.
“No one has ever said they felt sorry for me before,” he said, and she opened her mouth to tell him she was sorry again before she realized he said it with a bit of a sneer and an upward toss of the head.
“Well, there’s no need to sound so proud of that,” she retorted. “That just means you don’t have any friends.” He stared at her, his eyes round, and she almost wondered if she had gone too far. He tilted his head back and laughed so loudly he scared a nearby bird into flying away. She guessed she hadn’t gone too far, then.
“What about you? Do you have any friends?” The question felt so…impertinent. Her mother had used that word before.
She thought for a second. “I guess not,” she said, nudging a pinecone out of the way with her foot. “I used to have a friend, but she moved to Dublin. And she promised to write, and she didn’t. I haven’t seen her in months.” A bad idea came into her head. “Could we be friends?” she asked, gesturing first to him and then to her. She was pretty sure he was either a murderer or a monster.
“Well,” he yawned, stretching his long arms behind him. “Climb up here and we’ll see.” He raised his eyebrows at her in a challenge.
It was a stupid decision, something a character in a bad horror movie might decide to do. She grabbed one of the tree branches, the bark rough in her hand. “Only if you answer my questions,” she said, because she liked being in danger. It was exciting.
“Have I not been doing that already?” he asked, so she began to climb.
The wet bark slid and scraped against her hands, and the tree shed bark and leaves all over her dress. She grit her teeth and kept climbing. “Why did your brothers try to kill someone?”
“Oh,” he said, sliding onto a branch above him as easily as a cat. “Sometimes they kill for love, sometimes for honor, many times for nothing but a scrap of power. Now a question for you. What brought you to grief?”
“Stop climbing!” she snapped, but she laughed, too. It felt like a game. She was much clumsier than him, wriggling onto branches, sometimes slipping and catching herself in the nick of time. “I was upset because my parents never listen to me. And because the party was…” She bit her lip, unsure how to explain it. “Too much,” she decided. “Have you ever killed anyone?” She asked the question in nothing but curiosity.
“Not yet,” he said, sounding a bit bored. “A seer told me that I would kill my mother’s murderer, though. So now my sister Aoife keeps trying to kill me.” She gave him a puzzled look. “She murdered our mother,” he explained. “I don’t even want to kill her. I wish Aoife would stop and listen for five seconds.”
Mary didn’t exactly know what to say to that. She looked down as she found her footing. She had not meant to climb so high. The ground looked very far below. She felt a bit sick to her stomach, so she looked back up.
“So,” she said, her words coming in a bit of a rush, “my friend Ellie said her brother found a monster in the woods.” She stared up at him. He was just out of reach. She might be able to reach him if he bent down.
“Yes?” he asked, watching her. He tilted his head, reminding her strikingly of a cat.
“Are you a monster?” She was not careful as she stepped. She slipped on the branch. She reached out and grabbed nothing.
She screamed as he reached down and gripped her hand. Thorny vines grew between them, stretching over his arm and hers. Gold dust hung from the leaves. She winced at the thorns, but though they pricked her skin until she bled, it did not hurt. They stared at each other, their faces equally serious. “I think you know the answer to that,” he said. “Friends?”
She grabbed the monster’s arm with her other hand. The vines grew over that one, too. “Friends,” she said on mad impulse.
She did not go back home that evening.
Feel free to give me constructive criticism! I want to know what you think.
Also, I swear ‘he flashed a smile, revealing sharp teeth’ has to be one of my most overused sentences ever, but oh well.
(And! Needless to say! If you ever get a feeling that a person is going to harm you, please do not follow the bad examples of my characters. Always prioritize your safety first. 😉)