Sunday, December 4, 2011

12 vs. 17

My NaNoWriMo story this year is something I've actually been working on for about five years now: the fire fairy story.

It's undergoing a COMPLETE rewrite, so much so that the original first two books have been combined, and some of the major story elements have done a 180. Plus {theoretically}, I write better now than I did at age twelve.

It occurred to me that it might be fun to read over an excerpt from the old story and compare it to its age-seventeen counterpart. Then I had this crazy idea that you might find that interesting too.

Hence the title of this post.

Of course, you may think that's the stupidest, most boring and unnecessary thing ever, and if you do, that's cool. But stop reading because we all know I'm going to post it anyway.

2007 Excerpt: Sparkle has been poisoned by the Fire Lord, and the only hope is Coal.

Shhhhh!” hissed Ember. “Don’t say a word.”

“I’m not!” snapped Flare impatiently.

They were sneaking up to Coal’s hut. The whole little “village” where the Fire Lord’s men lived was still very dark, since it was only about five forty-five on the morning. The huts were made of a damp, ugly stone. The streets were a nasty looking coble stone and not at all homey.

“That’s the one,” pointed Flare. “That’s Coal’s house.” The two crept up to the door and knocked on it.

“Go away,” came a muffled voice. It was unmistakably Coal’s. Ember winked at Flare and turned to the door. She deepened her voice and said,

“Coal, this is Flame of the Fire Lord’s guard service. You were to be promoted to head guard instead of spy, but if you won’t come out-” The door was flung open. Ember grinned. Coal sure was a sight in the morning!

“Grrrrrrrr!” growled Coal. As you know, he hadn’t slept very well. “What the devil are you doing here, Ember? And you, too, Flare!” Ember took a deep breath.

“Let us in first,” she requested firmly. Coal rolled his eyes but he let them in.

“What?” he demanded. “If Flame or anyone else really does come, we’ll all be in huge trouble if they find you; so hurry up!” Ember opened her mouth to say why they had come, but Flare beat her to it.

“Sparkle’s dying of the Fire Lord’s death poison and we need your help!” she blurted out.

“Are you mad?” laughed Coal. “No way!” Flare deflated completely.

“Oh please, oh please, oh please, Coal!” she begged. Coal grinned. Apparently, he liked the feeling of being begged.

“No,” he replied plainly. “If the Fire Lord really did poison her, I shouldn’t and won’t interfere.”
“Interfere!?” huffed Ember loudly. “The only thing interference has to do with this is the end of the word: fear! You’re afraid!” Coal glared at her.

“Am not, little sparktress!” he snapped. “Now get out, both of you! I’ve got better things to do than talk about some stupid, dying, sparktress entertainer.”

“We’ll tell on you if you don’t help Sparkle!” threatened Ember. “I swear we will, even if we go down, too!” Coal stared at her.

“Tell on me?” he repeated. “You got nothing on me.” Ember raised her eyebrows.

“Oh no?” she replied. “You let us off the hook, didn’t you? We’ll tell the Fire Lord you didn’t report us. You’ll get in huge trouble!”

“If you don’t get out of here and stop bugging me, I will tell!” Coal yelled. “Anyway, it’s his most trusted spy’s word against a treacherous entertainer’s. Beat it!” Ember looked down.

Coal was so wonderful; how could he be so terrible as well? She raised her head and met his eyes.
“Please,” she whispered. Coal’s eyes hardened and he looked away. Ember sighed quietly. She motioned to Flare and they silently tip-toed away.

2011 Except: Same idea, gone about almost completely differently.

Ember stayed. She trailed her feet through the dust, dragging her toes. She studied the dirt, tried to see every grain. She traced swirls in the street with her toe. She smiled as she thought of Coal, how he did that. She frowned at her design. His were better. She sighed.

She did not want to return to the Palace. She swallowed hard and looked up at the sky. She did not want to hear Sparkle’s screams and not know what to do about them. She did not want to stand between Comet and Firefly. She did not want to be reminded that Coal would not see them.

“I don’t want to need him,” she breathed.

“You don’t need to want him,” came a smiling voice. Ember gasped, her skin jumping. She didn’t turn.

“Why do you always do that?” She sounded annoyed. “Why don’t you come up in front of me just once?”

“My presence must be eased into,” he said. She could feel him smirking. “I can’t thrust it on fairies all at once. It might be too much for them.”

Ember forced down a smile with grave thoughts of Sparkle. “We need you.”

“Of course you d—”

“No, Coal.” Ember did turn then. The dark sparker was leaning against someone’s house, his eyes blue and unreadable. His lips and hands were relaxed, but his body as a whole hummed with alert energy. When Ember turned, his expression only grew more distant. Instead of smiling, his raised his eyebrows. Ember shoved aside her personal feelings and shook her head seriously. “We need your help.”

Her tone made Coal stop leaning on the cottage and stand straight on his feet. He met her eyes with a solid intensity that made Ember’s heart beat quicker. After a moment, he nodded. “Come with me.”

They left the Servant Village, walking to the edge where they often spoke. Coal put out a hand and stopped Ember with a firm hand. “What’s wrong?”

“It’s Sparkle,” Ember said, gently pulling away from his touch. “She’s been burned. With halaris.”

Coal’s eyes widened and his brows arched. “Halaris? I’m sorry?”

Ember’s gaze sharpened. “Don’t, Coal. Blaze told us.” Coal watcher her closely. Ember gave an exasperated huff. “Coal, why would I lie to you?”

Coal tilted his head. “Because you think I lied to you.”

He’s right, her thoughts murmured. Ember swallowed. “I do. But I wouldn’t do the same, Coal.” Her eyes tightened. “I would not lie to you.”

She saw Coal’s composure waver for a moment, his eyes showing flickers of feeling. “I see.”

“Halaris,” Ember repeated. “Sparkle’s writhing in pain as we speak, Blaze says she’s going to die. He says there’s nothing to be done.” Her throat constricted, hot tears burning their way to her nose and eyes. “I don’t believe that. I don’t believe there’s nothing to be done.”

Coal smirked. “He speaks the truth.”

“And you’re a loyal spy,” she hissed, viciously sarcastic, eyes flashing red. Coal’s eyebrows rose challengingly. But before he could utter another word, Ember went on. “Don’t tell me there’s nothing to be done when you’re looking at me like that, Coal Blazings.” Her temper rose; her eyes grew scarlet. “You think you’re the best spy there is; you think no one can read your face; but I know you.” Her eyes flashed. “I know you more, better than, differently from any other fairy in Jeolotoe.” Her eyes narrowed sharply as she took a step forwards Coal. “Don’t tell me there’s nothing to be done.”

Coal blinked. Silence stretched between them. “I can’t help you,” he said.

Ember stared at him, studying his face. He was no longer smirking at her. “What do you mean?”
“I mean what I said.” Coal looked away with a shrug. “The Fire Lord deals out punishment as he sees fit. I cannot, and will not, interfere.”

Shock peeled Ember’s eyes wide. “You don’t mean that.”

“Don’t I?” Coal suddenly looked at her with a face like lightning: sharp, intense, quick and searing. Ember looked at him with a guarded expression.


Coal raised an eyebrow at her. “I won’t interfere. I’m sorry, Ember.”

Her mouth opened slightly. “Interfere? The only truth in that is the end of the word: fear. You’re afraid.”

“You’re damn right.”

They stared at each other. Ember shook her head. “But there is something to be done? There’s something we don’t know? Something you aren’t telling me? And won’t tell me?”

Coal nodded thoughtfully. “Yes; I suppose that’s what’s happening.”

A small wounded sound came from Ember’s mouth before she could stop it. A trace of regret flickered in Coal’s eyes.

“I can’t, Ember,” he said, letting his eyes go teal. He reached for her, but she flinched away, anger flaring across her features. “Ember…” His voice grew soft and low. “I can’t risk that. You don’t understand what’s at stake.”

“I very well do,” Ember breathed. “Sparkle’s life.”

“No,” Coal barked. “All our lives, and the lives of every citizen under the Fire Lord. Perhaps even more than that. If I expose this, we—”

“I understand,” Ember murmured. “Sacrifice the one for the good of the many.” She refused to meet Coal’s eyes until he moved towards her again. Then she shot him a fierce, accusing glance and struck his hand away. “We don’t know the many,” she said. “But we do know the one.”
“Someone knows the many,” Coal said, brow furrowing. He shook his head, dismissing the conversation. “No, Ember. Go back to the Palace. I can’t. I’m sorry.”

“If you were sorry you’d do something,” Ember said. An edge of desperation pushed its way into her voice in spite of her efforts. “Coal, please.”

“Go back to the Palace. I’ll walk with you, I’m going that way.”

“I’d rather not, if you don’t mind,” Ember said stiffly. She swallowed, trying to loosen the muscles in her tightened throat. “I think we’re going different ways.”

Coal studied her face with wary eyes. “We are…”

Ember took a deep breath and closed her eyes. “I’ll see you later, Coal.”

Coal nodded. “The same.”



  1. Wow, I can definitely see the difference. Twelve year old you put a lot of emphasis on 'getting into trouble' and 'telling on you', exactly how a child thinks. Your rewrite was more subtle and deep, it said the exact same things but with more going on beneath the surface.

    Would you be willing to let any of us read the story once it's finished?

  2. So true. I hadn't thought of it quite like that. And thank you!

    Wow, I'd definitely share the story with people who want to read it. People very, very rarely ask to read my stories, so it was kind of a shocked and glad moment when I read your comment.


  3. Then I'll ask officially, once you've finished the story and your willing to share it, I'd love to read it! :)

  4. Shoot, I'm so tired that wasn't even a question and I used the wrong 'your.'

  5. Haha, sure! :D I'll keep my progress posted through Pandora :)


  6. Thanks :) I helped a writing buddy edit their NaNo novel and I loved being able to read someone elses story.