Saturday, August 13, 2016

Starting Sparks // Rewritten

Ahem, so this is all a little slapdash, but today I am once again joining the Starting Sparks linkup hosted by the ever-fabulous Emily @ Ink, Inc. and Ashley @ [insert title here].

This month's prompt instantly jumped out at me as something I had to try. I'm not sure what exactly this is, but it's kind of a parody/satire thingie, kind of metafiction, kind of breaking the fourth wall . . . I don't even know. It was fun, regardless!

Le prompt is as follows:

Pretty great, right? Here's the thingamabob I threw together today. Enjoy!


I sit up with a start, blinking in the light shining over my desk. Had I fallen asleep? I rub my eyes and look around my bedroom. Everything looks the same as it always has. The clock shows 1:47 p.m. in glaring red letters.

“Hello there, Tracey.” The voice, female, emanates from everywhere and nowhere. Somehow it fills the room without being loud. “Nice to finally meet you.”

I whirl around in my chair. “Who are you? Where are you?”

“I’m Author.”

“Excuse me?” I stand and begin poking around, first looking under the bed, then opening the closet. I am alone.

“This is the first day of your existence. It’s very exciting, isn’t it? Your story has been percolating inside my brain for months, and I’ve finally discovered my main character. You.”

I scan the ceiling for some wispy ghost floating above me, but there is nothing. A disembodied voice in my room? I must be dreaming. “I’m sorry, can we start at the beginning, please? This is not the first day of my existence. I’m twenty years old, thank you very much. I think you have me confused with someone else.”

“Take a look at your journal.”

Cautiously, I retrieve the notebook from its shelf and flip it open. But instead of the scribbles pouring out my thoughts, the pages are blank. Well, not quite. Blurry smudges of blue ink are smeared across the pages, like fresh writing soaked in a rainstorm. “Where did my journal entries go?”

“They never were.”

My furrowed brow and darting eyes must have shown my confusion.

“You have a history, but I haven’t exactly . . . written it yet. Hence the mostly blank journal.”

I point to the page. “But I remember writing this! I remember what I wrote! August eleventh, twenty-sixteen, four-something p.m. . . . I wrote down a verse from Proverbs 18, and then some thoughts on—”

“That’s good to know about you. I’ll jot that down. But listen to me, Tracey. You do have a vague history, the one I came up with. It feels real to you, but in real life it never happened. I haven’t written it, see? Only what I write exists. Today I just started writing about you.” The voice gets excited. “The story starts on a typical day to show the reader your life situation. You have a day off work, so you’re writing . . .”

“Hold up.” I toss the journal onto my bed. “This is crazy. My life never happened? I have crystal clear memories of that life! It’s a peaceful one. I have a family—”

“Oh, thanks for reminding me. They died.”

The world shifts. My stomach lurches as if I just staggered off a spinning carnival ride. It’s like the colors of the room change, and yet they don’t. It’s like the furniture rearranges itself, but it doesn’t. My cheeks are wet—I’m crying? Something has shattered inside me. I can feel the jagged shards of it scattered throughout my bloodstream.

“What—” My voice catches. “What do you mean? They’re just upstairs, my parents . . .”

“Died in the same explosion that killed your siblings.”

It doesn’t sound right, but as the girl—Author—speaks, images flash in my memory. A man at the door, grim-faced, bearing the news. Footage on TV of the hotel exploding in fire and smoke and debris. It’s not right, because I remember what it used to be: my family, intact and happy. But now I also remember the tragedy of one year ago. Which is true?

“Your backstory was too boring. I decided you needed a disaster to spur you on and give you emotional depth.”

“You killed my family?” I whisper.

“No, the terrorists did. Oh, but they’re actually dragonriders. You just don’t know that yet.”

“You killed my family!” I scream. “What is this? You rewrote my life?”

“Hmm. I’ve been thinking maybe your brother survived the blast, though. You’ll discover him at the end of the book, and it will look like a happy reunion—until you find out he joined the evil dragonriders.”

I shout a word I’d never used on anybody. It tastes dirty on my tongue.

“Goodness, Tracey, that’s not in keeping with your character.”

“You don’t know me! I don’t know how you’re doing this, changing my history, but I demand you change it back!”

“Calm down. I can’t get this story written if you insist on being obstinate. Your grief means you have nothing to lose, so when the dragonslayers rope you into their plan to send the riders packing—the dragons are all evil monsters, by the way—there’s nothing to keep you from joining their cause.”

I pinch my lips together and swipe the tears from my eyes. This has to be a sick joke. “If you know me so well, you know I’m a writer too.”

“Yes, that’s a particularly fun aspect of your character. It’s kind of like a slice of me walking around in the story.” Author giggles. “And when you encounter dragons and otherworldly fighters, you’re enraptured because it’s just like the books you write. And read. I wonder which way the back cover blurb should go? ‘When dragons flame into Tracey’s life, just like the books she’s always lost herself in . . .’ Or ‘When dragons flame into Tracey’s life, just like the tales she pens . . .’ I can’t decide.”

“Shut up! I was going to say that as a writer, I can tell you that making your main character an orphan is the most clichéd tool in the box. Likewise with the just-like-the-books trope.” I cross my arms, sorrow quickly hardening into rage.

The Author prattles on, apparently heedless of my words. “You know, I wonder if maybe you killed your family and you just don’t know it yet. Yes, what a great idea! You used to be part of the riders, and you did something that enabled them to blow up the hotel. Then you left. I don’t know why yet, but I’ll figure it out. Oh, and they wiped your memory before you left them. Ha! This is fabulous!”

The whole time she’s talking, the room does that spinning, shifting thing again, and my insides heave. I double over. My head pounds as memories are created and erased and pieced together—rewritten. “I hate you,” I gasp out.

“I’ve been told that before. I’m such an evil authoress, aren’t I? You know what they say. Drive your character up a tree and throw rocks at them.”

I can’t believe she sounds delighted. I almost expect her to break out in a villainous mwahaha, but she doesn’t. I rub my temples, trying my utmost to suspend my disbelief over this horrible turn of events. If I were Author, wouldn’t I be gleefully torturing my main character too? Of course I would. The thought sickens me, but it's the truth. Maybe a more reasonable approach is best.

“It sounds like you have a cool story going, Author.”

A blatant lie. It sounds awful.

“But I’m not an interesting enough person to be your Main Character. I’ve always thought I’d be a better Sidekick. Or even a Background Character.”

They had easier lives. The whole universe wasn’t conspiring against them.

Author seems to consider this. “No, I like you. I want you to be the Main. But you may be right about being uninteresting.”

I barely stop myself from rolling my eyes.

“I know! You have dormant superpowers that you don’t know about yet! Dragon telepathy, perhaps? That way you can discover your gift and help defeat the dragons by convincing them to go away.”

Once again, the nauseating shift. I grab my head. “No, no, you’ve got it all wrong! I don’t want superpowers, I don’t want amnesia. I just want to be normal. Give all those things to someone else. Let me be a supporting character instead. Please.” I gaze up at the ceiling, not sure where exactly Author was. “They have far better mortality rates.”

“Not true. Sidekicks frequently die, and their deaths have the double benefit of being a disadvantage to the Hero, while also driving their quest forward at the same time. Mains seldom die, and when they do, they can often be resurrected. Besides, you're saving the world!”

“But life is an awful lot harder for Mains. I don’t think I can take that.”

Author laughs. “That’s what they all say until I prove them wrong. Just wait till you reach your happy ending. Wait till your story becomes a bestseller! Then you’ll thank me.”

I open my mouth to protest, but Author continues.

“I’ve also been thinking of adding a love interest. Gotta have a little romance in this thing. I think he’ll be a dark, brooding dragonslayer. But he’s a double agent, also working for the evil riders—who, by the way, are trying to take over the world with brute force and flaming beasts.”

How does one girl manage to stuff this many clichés into one story? I grit my teeth through another round of my world being rewritten at the whims of a psychopath. As I do, I glance in the mirror, not at all shocked to see the pallor of my skin. Having one’s life torn down and rebuilt within minutes would have that affect.

The voice seems to hover over my shoulder. “You know, we’re going to have to do something about that hair. It’s the wrong color.”

“What’s the matter with dirty blonde?”

“It sounds gross. Let’s make you simply blonde.”

My hair brightens a few shades, turning golden.

“Are you serious? Do you want me to have blue eyes too? There are too many Barbie dolls in fiction.”

“You’re right. Black hair.”

Glossy black spreads from the roots to the tips. “I look like a vampire.”

“Now that’s an idea—”

“Wait, forget I said anything! Black is fine.”

“You need to be shorter. Petite. So it’s more adorable when your big, buff love interest sweeps you away from danger.”

My bones grind painfully as I shrink several inches.

“What am I forgetting? Oh! A mysterious scar.”

A thin pink mark draws itself down my jawline, then vanishes only to reappear on my forearm.

“There. That’s better. Facial scars are so overdone.”

I grab two fistfuls of hair. “Enough! Go bother someone else! Stop meddling in my life. I’m no longer me anymore. You’ve changed my appearance, you’ve given me superpowers, you’ve erased memories and added others, you killed my family . . .”

The lights dim. “Well . . . You have a point, I guess. You’re no longer the girl who first popped into my head.”

This time the room seems to flip upside down. I fall to the floor—or is it the ceiling? When everything finally stills and my stomach stops doing somersaults, I sit up and look around. In the mirror, my reflection is back to normal. I think back on my life. No tragedy, no explosion.

Upstairs, footsteps creak and muffled, familiar voices are talking. My family is back.

I breathe a sigh of relief. Maybe Author decided to abandon her story, or at least to scrap my character and find someone else. I settle back into my desk chair. My laptop is open, my work-in-progress novel staring back at me. Suddenly I’m not in the mood to write. Just as I close my laptop, Author’s voice returns.

“Okay, okay, but we’re keeping the telepathy. That part was awesome.”

My enraged shout is loud enough to rattle the window.


  1. OOo, that was a twist of the prompt. *claps hands* Might make think twice next time I am torturing my characters, This reminded me of Dustfinger, when he learned that he dies in Inkheart. Bravo!!

    1. Uh oh.
      I accidentally read a spoiler about Inkheart XD.
      *runs away screaming*

    2. @Skye: *bows and tips hat* I know, right? Gotta feel sorry for the characters...but at the same time, the author usually knows that all the bad stuff will turn out well in the end. (Or most of it. Or if it's a tragedy, none of it, but hush. I don't write tragedies. XD)

      DUSTFINGER. He was my favorite character in Inkheart!

      @Savannah: oh noooo, so sorry! XD But there is more to Skye's statement than it might appear, so... Bother. I shouldn't say anything more. :P


    4. AHHH, YOU READ INKHEART. It has been aaaages since I read it, so I only remember snippets (and those are interspersed with memories of the movie). I should give it a reread sometime. Sounds like you enjoyed it! ;)

  2. :O

    I...I have no words. This is the BEST. And it's so accurate! It makes me suddenly feel reeeeally guilty because this is exactly what I do to my characters. o.o And because you used yourself, and not just another random character, it made it feel so REAL. Author is US. It's somehow both terrifying and hilarious!!!

    I just lost it at the Author's plot. It actually sounded like a fun plot to me! Lol. I mean, DRAGONS and double agents and things! But I did love the cliched ideas. The dark, brooding, double agent love interest killed me.

    “I look like a vampire.”
    “Now that’s an idea—”

    And that ending is the most accurate thing! I've done that--start out with one thing and then play around with a dozen different ideas until I've completely changed the original idea. Then realize I like my original idea best after all. I DID actually think Author had decided to scrap this idea and use another character though. THEN THOSE LAST TWO SENTENCES. I am dead!!!


    This would be the COOLEST novel! Like, can you imagine? The whole time Author and Character constantly battling each other. Character goes through this enormous, deadly event and barely makes it out alive. Then Author's like. "Nah, I don't like how that all happened. Let's scrap it." And Character is horrified because she just went through so much! Then parts where Character says something and Author's all, "That sounded awkward, can you reword that?" "I'm standing here bleeding half to death! I'm not thinking about whether my sentences are awkward or not!!"

    Okay, sorry. I'll stop. It's such a fun concept. I just LOVED how you wrote this. It was so CLEVER. And now I want you to write a whole novel of it! Sorry, I'm so bad. XD

    1. XD

      Hahaha, I wasn't trying to make anyone feel guilty, but it was awfully fun to put myself in the victim's shoes! XD Sometimes I really do feel sorry for what I put my characters through, but I know that writing feels miserable and boring when I'm NOT putting them through hard stuff. No conflict = no story. But LOL, terrifying and hilarious is a good way to sum it up! XD

      I kind of liked Author's plot too! (I mean, er, it did come from my brain, so some part of me must have liked it.) I just kind of grabbed the first thing that came to mind--dragons--and cobbled a few clichés and fun-sounding things together. Voila.

      ME TOO, TO BE HONEST. XDDD (*cough* But seriously, I would probably look sick if I dyed my hair black. I'm too pale for that.)

      *gasp* You too? Yay! I waffle back and forth and consider different things, and oftentimes just go back to the original thought. That usually happens when my indecisiveness springs from doubt, and I have to give myself a pep talk. XD


      Oh my word, I never thought of it being a whole novel! THAT WOULD BE HILARIOUS.I love love love your ideas, too. Redoing different parts, and getting Character to stop and reword dialogue. CHRISTINE. XD (Maybe we should write this thing together one day.) "I'm standing here bleeding half to death! I'm not thinking about whether my sentences are awkward or not!!" <---golden

      Lolzy, how dare you tempt me with yet another story idea! Just kidding, I love your enthusiasm. I'm just sitting here laughing...

  3. THIS WAS AH-MAZING. Authors are EVIL *glares at self*.

    This was just THE BEST EVER. I had SO much fun reading it! Those last two sentences XD. This whole things would SO be me! I'm always thinking 'wouldn't it be so cool to be the MC of an amazing fantasy story?' but if it actually happened I would beg to be a sidekick or someone who most definitely DOESN'T die and DOESN'T get in to super painful/terrifying scraps. Or anything like that XD.


      Oh goodness, me too! I daydream about being the chosen one, the hero, the one who gets to visit another world or battle evil or do epic things.. And then I remember, "Oh wait, that's very dangerous stuff. And considering my current physical strength, I would last about two minutes." Being a sidekick might be pretty fun, though! You get to witness a lot of the epic things, but you're not responsible for saving the entire world. Just alleviating some of the hero's stress. XD

  4. o.o
    Tracey, this is literally the best thing EVER. All I can think to say is... well, nothing. o.o OH MY WORD.

    BASICALLY, THIS PIECE WAS PERFECTION. PERFECTION. *chants the word over and over again*

    I love that ending, too. :P

    1. *falls over from all the niceness* EMILY. <3

      I'm excited that you enjoyed this little thing! It was a blast to write.

    This was so funny and amazing and well-written and...and..I just can't!!!
    Wonderful job!

    1. I DON'T KNOW. I JUST THINK IN WEIRD WAYS. XD Lolzy, glad you had fun reading it, because I sure had fun writing it! Thank you!

  6. TRACEY! I love this! Thank you so much for linking up! THIS IS BRILLIANT! I've been lol'ing reading the comments, with all of us authors like "HAHAHA CHARACTER TORTURE!" This is definitely a relatable story ;)

    I love it, seriously, it made me laugh a lot:

    "No, the terrorists did. Oh, but they’re actually dragonriders. You just don’t know that yet."

    “I look like a vampire.”
    “Now that’s an idea—”

    being some highlights. Also the love interest XD It was all just brilliant!

    Of course, me being me, I had to read Prov 18 and try to guess the verse.

    "The name of the LORD is a strong tower;
    the righteous man runs into it and is safe." (v10)

    A lot of the verses in that chapter were about words, though, which was appropriate for this story! Very cool.

    I've been working on my own SS story today. It's getting very confusing with the book world /real world /whatever the heck else is going on! But I'm enjoying myself :D

    1. Hahaha, thanks, Emily! :D I had so much fun writing it. Your Starting Sparks linkup is a blast.

      All the quoting makes me happeh! XD Glad you enjoyed it so much!

      Good guess, but the reference actually has zero correlation to the story. In real life, I had just scribbled down some thoughts on a verse--let me check which one. Ah, here we go. "The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences." (Prov. 18:21) So maybe it actually does relate! Totally a coincidence though. Love it.

      Ahhh, I can't wait to read yours! Confusing can be good. XD

  7. Ah! I love this! I enjoyed reading about this. What happens to a character while the writer is still trying to find out who she or he is? This was fun and hilarious! Thank you so much for joining the link up!

    1. Haha, thanks, Ashley! Your prompt was brilliant. I didn't expect to go in this direction with it, but it was tons of fun. :D

  8. That's such a good take on this prompt!

    1. Thanks, Lauren! I just saw you linked up as well--I'll hop on over when I get a minute. :)