Silver Linings is the working title, I have no idea if this will stick of if I will come up with something else. Though I think it’s pretty likely that it will change.
First things first, I tried to write this story last year during Nanowrimo. I was looking for a story idea on the forum and I came across this very small idea. I don’t remember who posted it which is a shame and I should have documented it better, but I didn’t.
What if tattoos just randomly appear on a persons skin?
– Nano forum member / 2014
It intrigued me, it was so small and simple. Yet at the same time there was so much behind it, so many ways you could go with that simple basic idea. I instantly liked it and I wanted to see if I could write a story about it.
So I started thinking and I came up with a character – a young woman who has been in my mind for a long time. I never really saw a way to fit her in a story and now it seemed like I found a place for her. I named her Ainsley McCallum, a name which had been playing in my mind for a while.
Last year I had this vague idea of what I wanted to happen, I guess it could be seen as something similar to The Hunger Games, Divergent and other similar books. A girl in her late teens, early twenties who has to fight society to make it a better place. So yeah, in that regard it’s definitively similar. I am a huge fan of The Hunger Games (both the books and the movies) there is no shame in admitting that and writing a story which can be compared to that is not a shame at all. I wasn’t familiar with Divergent however. When I kind of ‘pitched’ my idea to my writer’s group I was quickly told that it sounded a lot like Divergent. That scared me, I didn’t read those books – hardly knew anything about it nor did I see the movies.
So I tried to stay far away from it. Because I didn’t want to ‘steal’ from it. And at the same time I was kind of bummed out because I felt like I really had something going, something interesting. While I know all about The Hunger Games I wasn’t afraid to borrow from that because I knew what to avoid. Eventually I asked for some more advice and someone told me that it might be a good idea to watch the Divergent movies because I could see for myself if my story was similar or not. I did, I watched the first movie and while I liked it I can now tell you 100%that my story is completely different and that I have nothing to worry about. Obviously I was advised by people who didn’t read the books or saw the movies themselves.
The only thing I do want to borrow from The Hunger Games books is the way that Suzanne Collins writes her characters. They are flawed and I love that, Katniss doesn’t make the right choices – she’s being influenced by the situation and people around her, she makes mistakes and fights to correct them to the best of her abilities with varying results. That is in my opinion what makes the characters real and those are the type of characters I want to write. I want Ainsley to be flawed, I want her to make mistakes, hurt the people who care for her the most. Mistrust the people who she should believe and believe in those she can better forget about. I want Ezra to make mistakes and fight to correct them, even if it seems hopeless.
I started Nano in November 2014 and I struggled through the story, with each scene I wrote I wondered if I was doing something too similar to popular books and movies. And I was literally writing the most boring story ever. I managed to make it to 50 000 words, just don’t ask me how. When I hit the 50K I instantly stopped writing! I was still building up to who knows what. My story had an introduction freaking longer than the introduction and family lines of all the hobbits in The Hobbit. And the worst thing about it was that literally nothing interesting had happened. Nothing at all. It was as if I blocked myself from writing interesting scenes, I had a huge deal of what I now (in 2015) use as back-story.
Ainsley was a character who I wanted to struggle with life, she was supposedly on the edge of society. Being the victim of Laws who stopped her from being a regular contributing member of society because she didn’t get a sign (tattoo). It’s not something she has any control over, but it’s is something she’s being punished for anyway even if she can’t do anything to change it. How do you fight against something you can’t control? What does she have to do to get control?
Only I forgot something important when I started writing. She wasn’t struggling, not really. She was just having a bad time and didn’t get what she wanted – but that is part of life I guess. Ainsley’s best friend – Ezra Miles and his family were helping her out in a major way. Giving her a home, caring for her and while it might not be easy when your own parents can’t or won’t help you. She really wasn’t really struggling – she had a roof over her head, a warm meal and caring people around her (a surrogate family). So I knew that I was going to have to do something about that. And that is why I stopped writing after I hit 50k, I didn’t know what to do with the story at that time.
Camp Nanowrimo – April 2015
For months I thought about this story – obviously not constantly – but it took a while before I realized what I should do and how to change my story for the better. Then April came around and it was Camp Nano time, my writers group and I decided pretty last minute to sign up. I only signed up for 10k because I was too busy with other things – mainly work. I knew that it would give me a chance to see if I could get the story going in a different more exciting way. I started writing and right away I knew that I was doing better. I made some decisions that seemed small in the beginning but they had a huge impact on the storyline.
With this new start that I wrote during Camp Nanowrimo I knew that I had a good base to build the rest of the story on. I didn’t add anything new to my story during the summer but in September I started to work on my outline.
One of the biggest changes I made was the fact that Ezra Miles was no longer Ainsley’s best friend – in fact I turned him into an enemy. Ezra and Ainsley were in school together, both very competitive. When Ezra turned sixteen, his sign made him an apprentice of the guards while Ainsley never received her sign. Ainsley wants to survive, more than once she’s taken in by the guards which over the years has only increased the tension between the two of them. Ainsley doesn’t trust him, but he might be the person she needs to rely on …. who knows what’ll happen. I haven’t reached that part yet.
At this point I have 50K on this years version. And it is a whole lot more interesting, Ainsley has been caught by the guards, of course Ezra was one of the guards who caught her. She’s been interrogated, humiliated, investigated and put in jail. She escaped from jail and is currently on the run. At this point she ran straight into Ezra who was waiting at a location where someone else send her, supposedly because it would be safe. A place that no one knew about, so what will happen now? Will Ainsley escape from Ezra and find her own path in life or does she have to trust him? And if she does, is it real trust or just so that he might trust her and give her an easier escape? There are so many possibilities to this story now. Not even I know exactly where it will go. But I am very passionate about this version.
To me this sounds a whole lot better than the version I wrote in 2014, and who knows maybe one day you can read for yourself if I succeeded.