Hello everyone! Tom here for the fourth installment in this very-experimental blog series. Last week we opened our minds, took the basic concepts, and started creating a world where this story can be told.
This week, we are going do some brainstorming, fleshing out more of the world, Peter, and the situation he’s in. To me, this is the real fun part of taking an idea into a story.
My method of brainstorming involves typing. Lots and lots of typing. I do this for a couple reasons:
- I type fast, which allows me to play to one of my strengths.
- Typing fast means I can get a lot of ideas down quick, allowing my mind to move from point to point and document the journey along the way. It’s sometimes quite fascinating the iterations my mind goes through when I do this.
- It’s fun coming up with new ideas or twists on old ideas. Majority of what I brainstorm gets thrown in the garbage, What remains is what I’m after.
- Start writing—keep writing.
- Write down everything (your mind thinks, no matter how silly or off-topic).
- No editing. Other than the occasional misspelled word if I need to give my brain a couple seconds to dwell on a topic.
- Stop when you’re done. This could be 5-10 minutes, I’ve had it go on for an hour as well. I just let it happen naturally. When my brain is done, I stop.
With all that said, let’s get started!
***Beginning of brainstorming dump***
I mentioned last week that the angels leaving the world was too big a concept to really tackle in this short story form, so we will use that for background to the world. The conflict that stemmed from it though, is interesting. Here we are, a few years after the angels left us, and the world has fallen into chaos.
Peter was 15 when the angels left, it’s five years later. Why fifteen? Because I want to have him do something, and in this gritty world where we have no protection from the divine, and people have all lost their moral compass, I feel like any story we tell will best be handled by someone in the prime of their youth. So Peter is 20. Yeah, I like 20. He’s also internalized the fact that he was the only one who could see them, and the only one that saw them disappear, so it’s taken it upon himself to fill the void left behind.
Peter is the Black Angel. Hiding in the shadows, the antithesis to all that was in the world.
He still hears the angels from time to time. Or sees their faces ebb and flow, constantly fading into sight, then fading out. The angels are screaming. Why? Well that might be best answered in a larger story, but for now, Peter still sees them, just outside of his vision, every one of them in locked in state of soundless terror. It’s a wonder Peter is still sane. At first he used to be freaked out by it, but he’s learned to largely ignore them.
That is until they stop screaming. That’s when he really notices. That’s when he springs into action.
I like that we are a few years later. I like the gritty Peter, and I love the imagery of him taking over the role of the Black Angel. I think it makes sense to have him older too, since he would need to be able to have the physical prowess to handle a wider variety of situations.
I also like the idea of him still seeing them and the imagery of them locked in soundless screams. That is very evocative, but not hearing. I think he’s got enough on his plate. It’s enough to have the image of terrified, screaming angels just outside of your field of vision. We don’t want him to be totally crazy. And maybe he doesn’t see them all the time, they fade in and out.
So we have a bit of a batman theme going on here. Kid, dressed all in black, hiding in the shadows, tormented by his past. Bit derivative but I’m okay with that for now. So what is our hook?
Well I love the bit at the end, when there is suddenly an angel that isn’t screaming. Something has changed. And one thing that popped into my head just now is: what would happen if he found someone else that could see the angels? That’s also an interesting idea.
Let’s say he meets a girl (it’s always a girl), maybe she’s getting mugged on a street where no one cares, Peter goes up to stab the guy when he suddenly realizes that the angels are no longer screaming. I think at this point I should have them actually screaming…why? Well…how about they scream because (at least as far as Peter knows) they can’t help people, and they are being tormented by all the injustices in the world that they cannot do anything about. Ooh yeah, I like that!
So Peter goes up to attack this guy from behind, to save the girl, and the voices stop screaming. It throws Peter off his game. The guy turns around, clocks him one and starts attacking him. Peter’s mind is racing, he’s torn between wondering why the voices suddenly stopped and saving his life.
***End of brainstorming dump***
Whew, that was a lot to get down on paper. It’s a bit jumbled, and I only edited misspelled words and some punctuation in that brainstorming dump section so it looked a little better to share.
So what do I like? Let’s list the things:
- Angels leaving as part of the backstory
- World in Chaos
- Peter realizing he’s the only one that ever heard this (I especially like this because we can flip his world upside down when he realizes something he thought to be true his entire life was wrong)
- Peter being the Black Angel – so much backstory and reasons
- Constantly hearing the angels screaming all around him. This is a powerful image
- I love them stopping screaming when the girl shows up. That’s even more powerful.
- I love the idea of the girl too. His antithesis. Yin Yang etc…there could be something there…
- Gritty story is good. I’ve not actually written much with grit, so this will be a fun exercise.
Things we still need to figure out:
We don’t have a hook. Something has to change, his world has to change completely for this short story to really have a good beginning. Remember my goal is to write a story out of this, so as much fun as world-building is, I want to constantly remind myself that the goal is a story, not hundreds of pages documenting a fantasy world.
We need to know more about the world, the magic system and how the angels and humans play into it.
What is special about this girl? This might make for a good initial hook at the start of the story, something to draw in the reader, but we have to figure out first what is so special about this girl. Why would the angels stop screaming when Peter is around her?
Well, I will leave that until next week. If anyone has suggestions on what she should be, why she’s special and why the angels don’t scream around her, leave them in the comments.