Friday, June 28, 2013

Protagonist Club!

I've gotten out of the habit of talking about my WIPs, but I think I've already mentioned how my friend (who has asked to be called Lieutenant Sarcasm here) and I are working on a story together. We're calling it Protagonist Club, but the protagonists do not belong to a club. In fact, there is no club because there are only two of them.

Serenity (left) is Lieutenant Sarcasm's character; Justine (right) is mine (I am Captain Obvious).

Process: LS and I have a google doc organized thus: Resources (including this), Dramatis Personae, the Story Itself, and Amusing Gifs/Videos/Pictures. LS writes Serenity's parts, I write Justine's, but we're not really focusing on a certain plot yet, just writing whatever we feel like. Thank goodness for the internet: real-time collaboration is a whole lot of fun, as well as being productive.

Premise: Serenity and Justine, who have both been learning magic since the age of eight, find out about one another's magicianhood in freshman year and spend the rest of high school solving problems, causing problems, getting into trouble, getting out of trouble, crushing on boys, and having adventures.

Genre: Suburban fantasy. I keep on putting off the post about that, but really it's self-explanatory: magic hidden in a suburban setting. As the following excerpt shall demonstrate:


Justine Fischer was, by her own admission, not observant. It took her days to notice haircuts, weeks to notice braces, and months to notice that the girl who sat next to her in freshman English knew magic.

December 2010. The last final before Winter Break. Justine had just finished the essay portion and sat wringing her hand energetically, trying to get it to feel less like it had been used for a pincushion. She glanced around the classroom and saw several people still sitting with their heads bent over their papers, scribbling furiously. The teacher, an iron-haired, weak-willed woman who had pasted Frida Kahlo prints all over the walls behind her desk, sat dozing over a stack of Scantrons.

Justine looked back at the clock, and then over at her other side. Strange, she thought, that Serenity Fontaine, who usually finished everything first and best, should still be writing. Justine told herself that she wasn’t trying to be sneaky (she lied), and casually looked over.

Yellow ink for an in-class essay? Shocking! Still more shocking was what Serenity was writing - or, was that drawing? It looked like a Celtic knot, but with clouds and leaves. Justine began to think that it was not for the essay at all.

“That’s cool,” she said, in a whisper because she didn’t want anyone to think she was cheating. “What’s it for?”

Serenity’s head jerked up. She looked horrified. “You can see -?” she started, then stopped abruptly. “It’s for art,” she said.

“Oh,” said Justine. What had she meant, “You can see?” She wasn’t exactly writing in invisible ink, was she? Though, that ink did glimmer strangely in the light, as if it were...

What had Elivia told her, just last Sunday? Certain plants, if plucked and smashed and strained at the right times, will yield inks with interesting properties, like being visible only to people who know certain things. Justine said, “Did you make that ink yourself?”

“I - what?” Serenity stared at her. Her fingers gripped the pen tightly - and didn’t the shaft, if you tilted your head the right way, look as though it were made of wood, and carved all over with strange symbols? - and then she set it down on her desk.

The bell rang, and the rest of the class erupted into the sound of bags packed and papers thrown toward the Frida Kahlo desk corner and people wishing one another to have fun over break. Justine and Serenity looked at one another. Outside, the sky was overcast, perfect weather for hot chocolate and a book, or for climbing a tree and transforming into a storm petrel, after you had applied the correct marks to your arms, of course.

“Out of crushed almond blossoms and eyebright? Stirred with crow feathers?” said Justine. She put her pencil case back into her backpack and passed her essay forward, stalling for time as she searched her memory for the last property. Aha! “Collected at new moon last February?”

Serenity’s expression of horror was fading now into surprise and consideration. Slowly she folded the paper on which she’d been drawing and put it into her coat pocket. She stuck her pen behind her ear, revealing feathered earrings.

“Yeah,” she said. “Exactly.”

For a moment they stood there. Then Serenity laughed and said a few words in a language that could sound like birdsong, or the rustling of leaves in a forest, or - and this is what it sounded like to Justine - salt waves breaking on sea rocks. She replied in kind.

Their conversation could be transcribed thus:

“I, Serenity, who have slipped within wave upon wavebreak and defied the bonds of earth, do recognize you, Justine, as a fellow magician.”

“I, Justine, who have sung the song of whales through my bones and swum through the mountain’s veins, likewise recognize you, Serenity.”

Or thus:

“You, too?”

“Damn right.”


You guys get enough of my prose. Here, for your perusal, is an excerpt from one of LS's segments, with a description of the Coolest Room Ever:


Serenity left the kitchen, turning left down another wide hallway and up a set of stairs. On the second floor, there were a few white doors, but Serenity opened the one covered in dried jasmine vines and drawings of landscapes. Her room was much the same as her door. There were fresh ivy wreaths resting on the top of every lamp, and small potted plants on her desk and shelves. Pictures and posters of nature covered the white wallpaper, along with other stranger pieces of paper. On the left wall was a large aquarium, filled with plaster coral rocks and water plants, and no small amount of fish. Tucked into the far left corner was her bed, messy from where she left it that morning; in the right corner, a small wooden staircase wound straight up into the ceiling. A large window on the far wall spilled light on every surface.

Serenity dropped her backpack off near her desk with a thud, and hung her keys on her corkboard. Treading around the clothes strewn chaotically on the floor - as her dad liked to call it, her horizontal closet - she flopped onto her bed, warmed from the sunlight. There was just something relaxing about breathing in the crisp smell of clean, warm fabric. Serenity could’ve stayed there all afternoon until the sun disappeared behind the trees, but she had things to do. Serenity burrowed her head further into her pillow and gave herself five more blissful minutes. Then she got up and ascended the staircase.

Where the staircase met the ceiling there was a small trapdoor, to keep out the dust. Serenity flipped the door open and crawled into the spacious attic. It spanned the entire house, so it was huge: more space than what Serenity knew what to do with. It was still pretty dirty and dusty, but since Serenity and her family were so busy with their new work and unpacking, the attic had been a bit neglected. But in some of her free time Serenity had begun to clean most of the cobwebs and mothballs away, and to wipe the windows clean, so there was a little more light coming in every day.


LS has identified Yiruma's rendition of "River Flows in You" (which she can play on the piano) as Serenity's theme song.

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