Toothiana Queen of the Tooth Fairy Armies

The Guardians: Book Three

by William Joyce

“But that was past. This was a different day. And through the friendship he now knew, he could change bad men to good and stone back to flesh” (Joyce, 12).

Chapter One

This book has a beautifully structured plot.

Like E. Aster Bunnymund and the Warrior Eggs at the Earth’s Core! this one begins in Santoff Claussen with the children. They are playing games and it’s actually cute: “In this new game of Warrior Egg tag, to be scrambled meant you had been caught by the opposing egg team and therefore, had a lost a point” (1). There’s a touch of cleverness with the children’s game-naming.

This opening, rather than feeling out of place, works for me. I don’t mind the other children so much. My previous association and attachment to them from Book 1 and Book 2, makes me glad to see them happy. Additionally, the peaceful, happy set-up into story is a relief after the battle at the Earth’s core and North’s near death. I feel good seeing the characters this way.

The chapter proceeds to explain what the children and the Guardians have been doing since their last fight with Pitch. One thing I liked was how

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incomputable

Day 10: Feb 10

I have renewed these in lieu of the Refugee Ban in the USA. Inspired by the-cassandra-project and their Every Day Challenge, I am writing every day to raise money for the Urban Justice Center. You can donate here or please spread the word. Thank you.

Patterns repeat: Flower 1, Flower 2, Flower 3 — scorch, heal, et. al — wood, water, fire… They percolate in new dimensions and orders, a writhing, confusing muddle. What does it mean? What is the order? Shouldn’t it be simple? Why has it become so complex? What is the order? What is it for? What is it’s functionality?

[56 words]

January Summary

a day late

As part of the Every Day Challenge, instigated by the-cassandra-project, I set up two challenges. The second one, or Challenge #2, focused on Nights of Heroes — revision, outlining, character development. I posted about my progress it every couple days. These posts can be found here at my writing journal.

Other general writing posts can be found here.

My Challenge #1, which was to write 100+ words every day, can be found here (among other material and inspiration related to the story.)

Finally, I made character aesthetics.

Beauty

A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast

by Robin McKinley

“I finished rereading the Iliad and started the Odyssey; I still loved Homer, but Cicero, whom I read in a spirit of penance, I liked no better  than I had several years ago” (McKinley, 157).

I’ve read some of her books before and I had always meant to read her retellings of “Beauty and the Beast.” So when I couldn’t find Watership Down at a local library, I happened to see this one and thought: Hey, why not?

I really liked Beauty. Or more precisely, I could relate to her, which isn’t common among characters, book or otherwise. I’m not nearly as outdoorsy as she is while she’s living in the country, nor am I as fond of horses as she is. But her ordinary looks coupled with her love of reading and the Classics felt like someone reflecting my own interests.

This relatability also made me realize that living in an enchanted castle like the Beast’s would be wondrously grand. No worries about money, endless books and the free time to study and read and write, and a beautiful garden that doesn’t need any pruning or watering.

The plot was pretty basic. Although it did make me realize that the certain plot points of “Beauty and the Beast” are a bit odd.

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The Witches

by Roald Dahl

Well, I always remembered this one as my third favorite Dahl book (after James and the Giant Peach (♥) and The Twits). And while I can still see why I liked it, my god! It was more grotesque and scary than remembered.

What I remembered and more of why I liked it was the first couple chapters, specifically the narrator’s grandmother telling him stories about children in Norway and what witches did to them. I think it was this book that got me interested in Norway. Well, this book and the fact that Dahl’s family was from Norway, as I recall. But this book gave me a sense of weirdness and otherness, a kind of danger, but an exciting kind that made Norway compelling to me.

The rest of the book was…not terrible. But I was surprised at how

  1. dark its descriptions and implications were
  2. its plot relied on circumstantial luck for everything to work out

The main examples of these were:

  • the narrator’s room just happened to be above the Grand Witch’s bedroom
  • the narrator just happened to escape over their feet with no one noticing
  • the narrator was able to throw the Delayed Mouse Formula in without trouble (although he did lose his tail)
  • the Grand High Witch lives in Norway

I meant to read this last November during NaNoWriMo, but I couldn’t find the book. My sister found it and I read it while on a trip to see the changing autumn leaves in New England.

The Lord of the Rings

The Fellowship of the Ring

by J. R. R. Tolkien

Chapter 1: A Long-Expected Party

Pg.41-45: “‘But my lad Sam will know more about that. He’s in and out of Bag End. Crazy about stories of the old days he is, and he listens to all of Mr. Bilbo’s tales'” (44).

He does everything wrong as a writer – he introduces characters that are not major characters, he shows and tells, his description is sparse, and he uses “being” verbs. And yet…it works.

For one, he does introduced three vital characters: Frodo and Bilbo Baggins and, to a lesser extent, Samwise Gamgee. What’s striking to me is that he introduces them and explains them through dialogue. And it’s dialogue that tells a lot about hobbits and their history and how they think.

Namely, that they’re very focused on themselves and their own lives. The world at large doesn’t concern them. But the history of the peculiar Bilbo Baggins is definitely worth talking about. Not because any of the characters say so, but because that is literally what they’re talking about.

We learn that hobbits like family history. Which their dialogue makes clear through their questions and the flow of the conversation, but Tolkien adds that “hobbits have a passion for family history, and they were ready to hear it again” (43).  It’s fascinating that he just tells the reader that, even as the action ensures it’s confirmed.

What’s also striking is how little description is included. At least in the conventional sense I’ve always thought of it. For example, I couldn’t quite say what The Ivy Bush looks like other than its “a small inn on the Bywater road” nor what Gaffer or Sandyman or Daddy Twofoot look like, other than generic hobbit (42). But I definitely have a sense of place.

And what’s most compelling is that these first two scenes import a fair amount of backstory – the hobbits view on Bilbo and his adventure, Frodo’s parents and how he came to live in Bag End, and that Sam is on friendly terms with the Bagginses, like his father Gaffer.

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Legend of a Radiant Golden Love [Day 174]

ONCE UPON A time, a man and woman fell in love. It was a long process, but once it ignited, it blazed up like a resplendent golden glow. It permeated the fabric of reality, radiant and breathless happiness forming a nearly physical bond between them that the world could witness. Because of it, they – and their love – became part of the world’s story. A great change shook the seas that was their home and the man was at the heart of it. And she, though smaller in the grand shaking and shifts of their world, had played a role to help the man. Such a tiny story added brushwood to the blaze of their love; they were together and she had helped him against the enemy.

For as you should know, no great story, greatly loved by the populous, is without its villain. And here they had one – deceitful, ambitious, insouciant. The story went he had tried to tempt the woman to his side. She refused, of course, in favor of declaring support for the man she would fall in love with. But as with most stories, it was not as simple as that.

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Story building

I was going through old school papers from elementary school, and one assignment that I saw more than once was a break down of cause and effect in whatever book we were reading in class.

Thinking about it now, I’m not sure if it ever really sunk into me that the way we broke down books (or rather, stories) in class was actually a method I could use to understand how to write a story. Such as the idea that there is a staging to stories and that events have a progression and effect on those that come after, as well as a build up of events that have come before.

Stirred with the advice I’ve been reading on tumblr and the books I’ve been reading (critiquing?) recently, the mixture of thoughts has led me to realize that there are very basic aspects of storytelling I didn’t get.

Take Charlotte’s Web. The story is about a spider who saves the life of a pig by weaving words into her web. But when you add: because they were friends, it gives emotion and motivation to the story.

And by adding the character traits of Charlotte and Wilbur, plus their animal nature, it sharpens their friendship even more because Charlotte, as a spider, would be considered unlovable by most other animals (humans included). It makes Wilbur’s love and friendship for her distinctly more valuable.

There’s nothing in there that says Charlotte has to die, but if she didn’t, Wilbur wouldn’t have grown or changed from where he was at the start. Wilbur is dependent on Charlotte through most of the book.

It’s not until the end, when Charlotte’s dying that he finally makes an self-autonomous (and altruistic) choice. And that’s something I’ve read here; if a character doesn’t have to grow by the end of the story to get what they wanted, then what would stop them from having it at the beginning?

With Charlotte’s Web it’s a little different. Wilbur doesn’t change so he can get what he wants (to live and not be eaten), he does so for his friendship. Which is why that additional reason (because they’re friends) gives so much narrative and emotional weight to the story.

And it’s all these little pieces and how it all manifests in my own writing that is on my mind.