Before I debut the first of my hundred snippets, let me tell you a little bit about the project it’s from. (Just a little, I swear! Otherwise you will get bored and begin to cry.)
Back when I was in high school, a little company named Wizards of the Coast debuted a tiny little game called Magic: The Gathering, and a bunch of my friends, being enormous nerds, picked up the game and started playing. I played a bit too myself, but video games were really my thing–that, and writing! And band! I had many interests. Anyway, my many interests are actually relevant because one day on a band trip to an away-game or something, I started writing the very earliest adventures of The Brotherhood of the Card, centering around a bunch of high school nerds who were obsessed with Magic: The Gathering.
Our hero and hapless narrator was one Joel D Smythe, who found himself pitted against the perfidious Ralph, whose love of the game went just a leetle too far. I was really proud of those stories, and after they ran in the school newspaper, I thought, “Hey, I’ll try to get them published!” I wrote a zinger of a query letter (damn, I wish I still had that letter!), which got me a request to see the MS–but that’s where my burgeoning career as a writing prodigy went kaput. Those stories, see, they weren’t all that well-written. (My boyfriend at the time actually mocked me for thinking anyone would want to publish my stories as they were. We are not together anymore.)
I’ve written a lot of stuff since then, but The Brotherhood, and those characters, stuck with me. Awhile back I made another stab at the story, but I stalled out only a few pages in. The original stories from high school are long lost–for the best, I think! They are probably embarrassingly bad!–so I’ve only got my memories to go on.
The 100 Themes idea came up just as I was pondering if there might be some other way to get the story finished again. Combine that with author Elana Johnson’s blog post about writing out of order and … voila! Because I know most of the scenes that need to happen; I just need to … you know, write them.
So without any further ado, the inaugural snippet of my 100-snippet Brotherhood bash!
So there I was, standing on the cracked and gum-spattered pavement outside the Kwickie Mart, under the buzzing orange lights, holding a red gas can in my left hand and a wad of folded bills in my right. This is where that whole “slippery slope” argument wins credence, you know? The pebble that starts the landslide and all that. You wouldn’t think that an innocent card game would lead to secret midnight meetings and unholy pacts (or at least, most people wouldn’t think that. I guess maybe you might, if you’re one of those people who thinks that video games turn kids into killers, and a series of novels featuring a schoolboy wizard turns them into Satanists. But if you’re one of the people who thinks that, you’re probably not reading this book; you probably turned it down on title alone, or if you maybe started reading it earlier, you’ve probably put it down by now, so this aside isn’t actually addressed to you anyway, and I’m moving on now before my foot gets any further down my throat), but that’s what we’d come to. I looked from hand to hand and weighed my options.
“You’re crazy. You know that, right?”
I let out a yelp and jumped like ten feet in the air, banging my head against the gas station awning and returning to earth with a thump, then rounding on the intruder with a ninja-like grace.
It wasn’t Jacob Marley, nor some other physical manifestation of my uneasy conscience. Instead it was … Chris, from the Brotherhood.
“Oh, hey, uh,” I said, all suave and manly and not at all confused. “What, uh. What are you doing here?”
“I’m stopping you, you idiot,” said Chris, advancing, which was when I realized something vital.
“Oh my God. You’re, uh,” I said. “You’re a … girl.”
“And you’re an idiot,” said girl!Chris, “as previously noted.”
“So, um,” I said. “Chris. Is that short for…”
“None of your business.” Wow, no wonder I’d never really talked to Chris before, even when I thought she was a he. In my defense, she wore the same baggy ill-fitting jeans and black t-shirts as the rest of us, she was skinny like about half of us, and her hair (red–but not red like Hollywood hair-dyed redhead or like one of those carroty Irish red-heads you see a lot of around here, but shining bright like a new penny) was shorter than mine. Which, my mom kept saying I needed a haircut or people would think I was some kind of hippy, but that was just normal parental rhetoric, and anyway I have never worn a headband or a beaded vest in my life, so there.
Girl Chris was glaring at me like I was gum stuck to the bottom of her shoe or flaming dog poo on her front porch, like I was some kind of … well, idiot. “Ralph’s insane, but you’re worse,” she said. “He’s got a brain, even if it’s wired wrong. Yours just doesn’t work at all.”
“That’s, um,” I said. “That’s very flattering–uh, girl Chris–”
“Just Chris,” she snarled, “or I swear to God I’ll make you wish you were a girl.”
I could feel my face burning bright red, while certain other vulnerable parts of my anatomy were attempting to retreat into my body cavity. “Wow,” I said. “You, uh, really have a way with words.”
She showed me her fist. “Try me.”
Cross-posted from my LJ, because I am still trying to decide whether to stick with that, or start just posting all my writing-related stuff here.