Its been awhile since I’ve written anything about Metamorphosis of a Story. I had stated I would write a brief outline, but there are still a few holes I haven’t quite figured yet. Hopefully, I’ll be able to post it soon. However, I wanted to at least post the real-life person who I draw inspiration from for the story’s main character: Flaviana Matata, Miss Universe Tanzania 2007. Here are some images of her.
July 19, 2011 | Categories: My Manuscripts, Sphinx | Tags: African Girl, Ancient Egypt, aspiring author, author, beginning writers, Egypt, Fantasy, fantasy writing, Sphinx, women in stories, writer, writing | 4 Comments
I thought I’d give an update on the story’s status. A lot has been on my mind over the last week or so regarding the story. I’ve been researching, brainstorming, looking for inspiration etc. Things are starting to come into picture. Other things are more blurry.
Here are some items that I am leaning heavily towards:
- The story takes place before the unification of Egypt (probably about 100 years before. Maybe earlier, I’m still deciding).
- The story takes place before the traditional Egyptian pantheon has been established. At this time, people worship their ancestors (who are becoming more and more god-like over the years).
- The protagonist is the archetype for the Egyptian goddess of Destruction, Sekhmet (as well as the Sphinx). She is a very dangerous person (how to make her both convincing, sympathetic, and not the typical womanly bad ass is a bit of a challenge).
- The archetypes for both Set and Horus are main characters in the story. I am strongly leaning towards Set as being the antagonist (another possibility is the legendary figure “Scorpion”).
- The story takes place over about 50 years. The protagonist sees several generations come and go.
- The creature that posses the protagonist was born from the rare combination of a lioness dying during a sandstorm on the day of the summer solstice. It is a demon.
- The protagonist is a mystical slave. Her powers are used for the betterment of the chieftain who is her master.
- The protagonist slowly learns her powers over the course of the story. She is a creature of the desert, the sun, and a lioness. She controls flame and light, demons who spread disease, sand, desert storms, and can shape-shift (into a man, woman, and lioness). She’s also stronger than most people. She does not sleep and has no need for food.
- The protagonist is vulnerable to water. It can kill her (or control her depending on how it is used). I picked water because it seems to be the opposite of many of the protagonist’s powers 1. It extinguishes flame, 2. Cuts through the desert and makes it lush, 3. Lions do not like water. Another reason to pick water is because in the legend of Sekhmet her destruction is stopped when she drinks from the river Nile. Probably the most important reason I picked water though is because I simply need some type of kryptonite for Superman (or Supergirl, whatever).
I have a thin outline. My biggest problem right now is deciding the course of events. I would like to keep it true to the legends and historical data available to us regarding Egypt’s pre-dynastic period (they don’t always match up with my story ideas). My next post should be a more solid outline. From that I’ll start on the rough draft of the story.
April 30, 2011 | Categories: My Manuscripts, Sphinx | Tags: African Girl, Ancient Egypt, aspiring author, author, beginning writers, Egypt, Fantasy, fantasy writing, Sphinx, women in stories, writer, writing | 4 Comments
One of the first things I need to decide is when in Egyptian history does this story take place? I want this to be an origin story and seeing the sphinx is an ancient creature, I want the story to take place in an early period. The first known depiction of a sphinx is from the 4th dynasty. I think my character should be at least that old. However, I am strongly leaning towards the pre-dynastic period—before Egypt was even unified. I am kind of imagining the sphinx playing a pivotal role in the unification of the kingdom and this is where the legend of the sphinx begins.
As I said, I’m going to have the sphinx join with a human host, which will be a young woman. I’ve been thinking about this character a lot. Becoming one with the host really changes her life and sets many things in motion. I’ve been thinking what that change would be. It should be painful. I had originally thought about making her a young woman, just about ready to marry. But really—what would such a young woman have to lose? Little. A better idea would be if she is married and has a child or two. This opens up all kinds of interesting story lines when she becomes the sphinx. How does her family react to her becoming a sphinx? What if she is taken away from her child by force? If she is immortal, how does she cope with her family growing old and eventually dying?
I am still piecing together the story’s content and looking for ideas. While researching, I rediscovered the story about how Thutmoses IV fell asleep in the shade of the great sphinx at Giza. At the time, all that was visible was the sphinx’s head. The rest was covered in sand. The king had a dream where the sphinx told the pharaoh if he restored him, the sphinx would make him a great king. I thought, I might be able use that. A cool opener might be to have Thutmoses restoring the sphinx and come across an ancient chamber. When he opens it, he finds the main character inside, having been locked away for centuries. The story would be her fulfilling her promise to the king. I then looked into what Thutmoses IV did during his reign. Pretty unremarkable, actually. I’d have to start making stuff up.
Choosing this storyline has other issues with it as well. As stated, I really want to make this an origin story. If I start with Thutmoses, which is in the New Kingdom, I have to start doing a lot of backstory. It would probably be best to have two stories running parallel—one with Thutmoses and the other on the origin. That sounds pretty cool, but there is a major problem with that. I’m a new writer and am still developing my craft. Writing a story that runs on parallel storylines and has at least two POV is something that is just beyond what I am capable of doing right now. This is not even mentioning the research I’d have to do for two different time periods. One thing I learned from video game development is the importance of scope vs. resources and experience. In the mean time, I am still looking for a story line. For those who are following this blog, do you have any ideas to throw at me?
April 20, 2011 | Categories: My Manuscripts, Sphinx | Tags: African Girl, Ancient Egypt, aspiring author, author, beginning writers, Egypt, Fantasy, fantasy writing, Sphinx, women in stories, writer, writing | Leave a comment
I am sharing a little of my writing process for this post. I had made mention previously that I use what I call ‘bursts.’ Bursts are short narratives that could be in the final story. They can be merely a few words, a sentence, a paragraph, a scene—it doesn’t matter. The important part is to just get what is bubbling in my head onto paper. Some are short. Some are longer. I use bursts for several reasons. During the early writing phrase it helps keeping my writing hand limber while I am in research phase and don’t write as much. The second thing it does is help inspire me: if I can get some bursts that I really like, I can potentially iterate on them until they are full blown scenes. Its also a morale boost. Once I have some bursts, I can confidently say I have written some of my story.
NOTE: When you read these, it may feel disjointed. A few will have bad grammar or may not even be a sentence. I grouped them so they will make it a little easier to understand.
NOTE: The protagonist has the temporary name Sekmet
She hated wearing sandals. They hurt her feet.
She envied her mother’s beauty. Sekmet had always wanted to look like her mother with her black complexion, full lips, straight back, and long graceful limbs. Instead she knew she favored her father—withered and bent as an old stick.
She used to sing all the time. Those who heard her said she had a beautiful voice. Her father was certain that she could find employment in the nearby temple of Hapi. “With a voice like that, they will take you in for certain. You will live a good life: good meals, fine clothes, and many suitors willing to pay a good bride price for you.” The days leading up to her audition with the temple’s choral priest had been some of the worst days of her life. She had difficulty sleeping and eating. She had nightmares. On the way to the temple, she had vomited twice. Her knees shook when she stood before the priest who stared at her crossly through his malachite darkened eyes. He did not say anything, only waited until she found the nerve to sing. Her father gave her a small push on the middle of the back. “Go on, Sekmet. Sing for him.” The priest sighed. She could tell he was about to leave. Summoning all her courage, she opened her mouth. What came forth was nothing like singing—only off key squacks. She could not continue and she looked at her feet. The priest stood and left the room without a word.
“The elements were just right—the wind, the fire, the sand. It gave birth to a new desert spirit—a rare one. Very rare. If we can catch it, the priests of Nit will pay handsomely.” He licked his lips and seemed to lose himself for a moment. “Most handsomely indeed.” He fixed Sekmet with a stern gaze. “You must not let this creature out of your sight. You understand that?”
She wrung the waterskin over her open mouth. A few drops trickled out.
Flung herself at him. Cat-quick, he grabbed a cup of water and splashed it on her face. She fell to the floor shrieking and clawing at her eyes.
NOTE: These are preliminary descriptions of the sphinx before it joins with the protagonist. I imagine it to be a spirit that resembled a fiery whirlwind–a mixture of wind, sand, and fire (or perhaps the sun’s rays).
Swirling. Flame. Breeze. Gust.
Sprinkles of glowing red sand floating in the air. Beautiful. She reached out and touched one with her finger tip. She pulled it back just as fast. It was fire hot.
The spirit became a sheet of glowing sand. It hovered in the air for a moment and then began to ripple. It formed little mounds and gullies. They reminded her of the sand houses she and her brother used to make as children.
More ripples. Out of the ripples came a face—her face. She laughed. The image laughed.
* * *
To the other writers out there who read my posts, I’m curious as to what your writing process is like during the early stages. Feel free to comment here!
Next up, I’ll post some of my current thoughts on main character, the setting, and what happens in the story (the who, when, and what).
April 13, 2011 | Categories: My Manuscripts, Sphinx | Tags: African Girl, Ancient Egypt, aspiring author, author, beginning writers, Egypt, Fantasy, fantasy writing, Sphinx, women in stories, writer, writing | Leave a comment