Tuesday, July 21, 2015

I Need Your Help

I'm going to start writing again. Real writing, as in "the stories that I've always wanted to write, but haven't because I'm lazy and terrified of failure."

I am going to try to write "The Mirror." The problem is, I've started it three separate times. One version has over a hundred thousand words. One version has just over six thousand. The version I started today has four hundred and seventeen.

It's all the same story, but the openings are all very, very different. Would you be willing to read the opening few paragraphs of each version and tell me which one you like the best?

I'm going to post them here in case your answer is Yes. It would really help me to get some momentum if you'd help me out. I'm just so familiar with this story that I can't seem to see it well anymore. Kind of like missing the forest for the trees.

Anyway, thanks in advance, maybe :) I'd appreciate the thoughts and prayers as I try to revive the near-dead writer in my heart.

Version 1 (circa 2008)

I should have known from the moment the idea came into my mind that I’d end up over my head in something I couldn’t control; that was usually the way things worked out, but never in a million years would I have dreamed anything could turn out so horrific.

It all happened because I asked Darren Blackburn to the dance. Or at least I think it did.

It’s not what you think. This is not your typical I-Wish-I’d-Never-Asked-That-Creep-That-Was-The-Worst-Night-Of-My-Life kind of thing. It really isn’t Darren’s fault. This horrific thing is something you’d never worry about when going on a “date.” I mean, who thinks as they look in the mirror one last time, “Gee, I really hope my date doesn’t have some terrible secret I should know about before I get swept up in something TOTALLY OVER MY HEAD THAT I WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO GET OUT OF.” Sorry. Like I said before, it really isn’t his fault—exactly.

Okay. Not making any sense, am I? Um…okay…I’ll start at the beginning, but I’m not exactly sure where the beginning is. Okay. Here. I’ll try, but I’m warning you: I’m no good at storytelling, and telling your own life’s story is even harder

Version 2 (circa 2012)

I had always been a reader.  I might say “dreamer” if it weren’t for the dewy-eyed connotation.  I just loved books, and everything they represented.  I loved persuasion, knowledge, and words.  I craved adventure, thrived on intrigue, and wanted to leave a glorious mark on the world.
At fourteen, I began to untangle myself from the wild flights of fantasy and decided that the best way to leave a mark was to become a lawyer.  Or a teacher.  One of those.  I gave up on finding Neverland or the genie’s lamp.
It never occurred to me to look for adventure in an old mirror, although I guess technically I never did; it was Darren.  Getting caught up in the whole Sorayoni thing didn’t fit my plan at all (not that it fit Darren’s either).
Looking back on that night junior year, I always wonder if I’d do anything differently.  Even now, I’m not sure.  All I know is that I was entirely too eager and had no idea what I was doing.  For a logical human being who reads so much, both those facts should have been red flags.  Darren even tried to warn me.  But I did what I did because I was who I was, and it’s as simple (or as complicated) as that.
This probably isn’t making that much sense.  I guess I’ll just do what one traditionally does in this position:
Start from the beginning.

Version 3 (today)
 Growing up is a funny thing. When you’re a kid, you assume that you’re old enough to…fill in the blank:  cross the street, pour the milk, critique parenting methods. Then for the next ten years, you make a habit of looking back and rolling your eyes at your younger self:  wow; how stupid, incapable, and na├»ve you were. Now, at this new age, you actually know everything. In high school, you hit the age where you’re grown up enough that it becomes acceptably cool to like some childish things again, like Disney movies and playgrounds and your old teddy bear.

Eventually, you grow to the point where you are only certain of how little you know. You are only certain of how uncertain life actually is. You look back at your younger self and covet that innocence, that freedom of the soul, that psychological invincibility. Wanting to be a grownup is the mark of a child; wanting to be a child is the mark of a grownup.
I don’t know at what age that natural switch typically happens. All I know is that for me, it happened unnaturally, atypically, and fantastically. And not “fantastically” as in “shockingly happy beyond comprehension.” Fantastical, as in adj.: conceived or appearing as if conceived by an unrestrained imagination; odd and remarkable; bizarre; grotesque. With an emphasis on the last two synonyms. And the “as if conceived by an unrestrained imagination” part. Although, “odd and remarkable” more than hold their own in the story I’m about to tell you.
I’ve waited a long time to tell our story, Darren’s and mine. Not because it’s too painful or unbelievable (though it is both of those things), but because it’s too important to tell wrong. If I tell it right, you might help me. If I tell it wrong, They might kill me.
At the beginning of our story, I didn’t know any better. I was just a 15-year-old girl with a bookworm’s head and magic-lover’s heart. Somehow, I didn’t get that when I really took the real red pill in real life, real shit would go down. Somehow, my obscenely large mental collection of thriller movies and well-written novels had failed to convince me that if I threw myself down the rabbit hole, I would end up over my head in something I couldn’t control. I guess on some level, I did know and did want that. But never in a million years would I have dreamed anything could turn out so horrific.



  1. You've intrigued me Stephanie. Well, considering I don't know where the story is actually going I can only judge it on writing quality and tone and not on how it sets up the overall story. You increase in maturity through the versions. Version 2 and 3 are better than version 1. You sound younger in version one. Versions 2 and 3 both show a shift in your character happened, that doesn't come across in 1. My preference is version 3, definitely 3. It genuinely sounds like someone looking back and telling their story. I think the narrative slows slightly when you're defining "fantastical" but other than that I think it's great. I know how it feels to go back and change what you've written because you think it can be better or you can't figure out how exactly you want to tell it. At some point you'll have to settle on your preference but for me it's the newest one

    1. If you're ever self-conscious about using your friends as proof readers I'm willing to help out.

  2. okay so basically i just really want to read this story when you're done. it sounds awesome. but don't let that pressure you into feelings like you have to wow all these people - still write just for you. the story will turn out better that way.

    and i'm on the same page as Jay with this whole three different versions thing. i think you should stick with version 3 because if you're really telling a story where you're reminiscing, number 3's voice sounds mostly like that. you write as if you really are looking back, since you've had this story in your head for so long. I think if you go back and take bits and pieces from your other scripts, it will help define the story in a way that you couldn't have imagined doing back in 2008.

    all the versions are well written, you certainly do have a talent with words, but it's so evident that you're writing has only improved as you've aged, so keep going with what you've got started now. I think you'll be sorry if you go with the earlier versions and i think you'll surprise yourself with how well you can do on the "new" one.

    also, i too think that the fantastical definition doesn't entirely fit with the narrative you have going. it's a little too long to explain what you mean - or maybe the flow just isn't right there. but i love the idea behind it because i do believe it helps give us a sense of the type of person the character is now.

    so, now that i've written you a small book in this comment, i hope it was helpful! ha!

  3. Ahhh, you guys are seriously the best. Not only does it mean a lot to me that you'd take the time to do this, but it also makes me feel really good that you liked the latest version the best! I was leaning toward the second option, feeling like I must've lost my touch, but if y'all like the third one, that gives me the confidence boost I need to keep going right now.

    Jay: I seriously might take you up on the proof-reading. I'm always hesitant to ask my friends because I feel like it's a huge favor for anyone read my stuff XD But if you're sure, I just might send you something when I get a more significant portion written. You always have great insight and opinions.

    Natalie: Thank you!! And thanks for reassuring me that I don't need to feel pressured XD That is probably my Achilles heel. I think you're right: knowing the story and all it's iterations is helping me see the big picture and tell the story "right." Hopefully.

    To both of you, I have edited the "fantastical" section :) Thank you SO much for helping me see that!


  4. I'm sure and glad to help if you want it. I'll email you direct sometime later so you know what my new address is.