Me, Myself & I
In trying to find a good story to spotlight this week, I was referred to Conceptfan’s work. Reading several stories, I was struck first by the quality of the writing and second by the variety of characters and settings showcased across stories. (I even found some Conceptfan haikus, which are completely freaking rad!!! I didn’t know we could submit poetry to the site and will be posting some myself at some point! Probably a story poem. And maybe a villanelle. But I digress...)
As I worked my way through some of this treasure trove of content, one story, in particular, caught my attention. The first line? “5,000 before our story begins...” Okay, so kicking off a story 5,000 years prior to the start of the story instantly had me intrigued. I mean, I’ve never seen a hook quite like that before. :)
Reading further, the setup follows an alien meteorite to earth. The Macguffin, clearly. Then the story jumps ahead 1,000 years, laying out a harsh natural setting that provides an unusual ambiance for a superwoman story. I enjoyed the freshness of its approach. The woman who finds the stone wrestles a tiger, establishing that it gives her strength and invulnerability in a rather unique battle scene. But just when you think things will get rolling with her, she loses the MacGuffin… to a cat!
3,900 years later, the story resumes, eventually evolving into a pirate tale. This time a man finds the stone. The narrative continues to follow the journey of the stone through a few more twists and turns until it comes to a pirate attack. It isn’t until this moment that we are introduced to the story’s superwoman.
One of my favorite elements is the way in which Conceptfan plays fast and loose with perspective changes between the characters, giving a twisty, serpentine feel to the narrative. On occasion, I shift perspectives without a chapter or scene break in a third-person story, but I’ve always tried to minimize those moments for fear that it will make things difficult to follow. Conceptfan, however, has no such fears, doing it liberally, and it really works for this story.
Sliding into Monika’s perspective, it introduces her thoughts first. Then, it shifts back to Jerald’s perspective to see Monika’s appearance through his eyes. The perspective returns to Monika as she takes advantage of his distraction, gaining the ring for herself. From there, the story launches into a series of detailed, slow-motion action scenes from Monika’s point of view that do a wonderful job of making a relatively passive superpower – invulnerability – rather interesting.
I hope you take a moment to read and (re)discover the wildly creative and unusual tale of...
(additional note: this story was part of the first-ever workshop held at the old Supergirl Incorporated)
This wonderful little story from 2017 by Akane starts rather straightforwardly with an opening you wouldn’t expect on a site featuring stories dedicated to superwomen:
“This is the story of a normal 10 year old in a small rural town in Louisiana.”
Perhaps for that reason, it captured my attention.
The protagonist, Steve, has a challenging childhood, dealing with parental strife, bullying, and nightmares. The lone joy in his life is his friend Serena, who, initially unbeknownst to Steve, has cancer.
When he eventually finds out, he is understandably crushed, leading to worsening nightmares. Within the nightmare, however, the story suddenly twists in a more hopeful direction, this change in direction prefaced by the brilliant use of sound – the clicking of heels.
I don’t want to give away the rest, but the story ends on a perfect, uplifting note. Likewise, it includes, as is typical of Akane’s stories, some fantastic artwork as well.
The story is also written in a way that the “reality” scenes are simplistic and hazy, flying through years in a few dozen sentences, while the writing of the dreams is more visceral and descriptive, putting in a similar word count to an action scene that lasts less than a minute as to Steve’s entire childhood.
The contrast in style is the precise opposite of the manner in which dreams and reality are commonly depicted. But it makes sense within the context of the story, enhancing its climactic scene in a subtly creative way.
So without further adieu, let me present…
I periodically go through the library here to see which stories are the most viewed. That’s how I first ran across Supanji by d_k_c. It’s one of the most popular stories on the site, so I thought I’d give it a read in an effort to understand what it did so well.
The story is exactly what its title suggests – a marriage of the Superman family of characters from the comics and the Jumanji movies, with a bit of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World-style over-the-top superhero dueling thrown in for good measure. It begins with a bit of “telling” for efficiency’s sake, laying out the background on the five main characters and their relationships, history, and conflicts with one another. D_k_c spends the opening stanza weaving a nicely convoluted web with some truly interesting characters, heightening interest and investment by the reader in what’s to come.
The characters and their preexisting relationships are what truly set this story apart. Great characters create a natural interest to know what will happen to them – and there is certainly no shortage of one-on-one comic hero battles, superpowers, and transformations. The story is novella length and action-packed. As someone who prefers writing dialog, sensory, and sexy scenes, I can’t even IMAGINE how much effort it would take to write that much action. :)
I don’t want to spoil anything for those that haven’t read it, so I’ll leave it at that… except to say that I’m particularly fond of the apt closing soundtrack and ambiguous post-credit scene.
Halloween might have been my favorite holiday growing up. It may still be. It’s part scary, part thrilling, part dress-upy fun. And to top it off, you get candy. Lots and lots of it. A bagful to be exact.
There’s just something magical about the whole thing. When you’re a kid, opening the package for the first time, the smell of new rubber and plastic wafting through the room, excitement rules the day. It’s fun to slip into the fabric of something you would never normally wear. Nevermind the fact that there are always unironable creases in the fabric. Nevermind the fact that the cheap rubber strings that are supposed to hold the mask on invariably break halfway through trick-or-treating. Nevermind the fact that your parents will bundle you into a jacket that hides most of the costume from view anyway.
As you grow up, Halloween morphs into a different sort of thrill. It’s a chance to dress up in something sexy that you would NEVER wear under normal circumstances. It’s a chance to be daring. To be someone, for one night, that you normally could not be.
I tried to capture a bit of the feel of the holiday with my story, Clothes Make the Woman. It didn’t work. Was never too happy with that one. ElF, however, managed to get it right. Just right. Right to the point where I have some serious writer envy. :)
Starting in front of the mirror (one of my favorite places to craft a scene), the story establishes the characters firmly from the outset. The dialog is natural and flows well. The transformation is crafted with care, invoking some witty alien banter. And the ending is just perfect.
The story manages to be funny, scary, heartwarming, thrilling, sensory, sexy, and entertaining. It captures everything that I love about Halloween.
If you’ve read it before, I would encourage you to read it again. If you haven’t, you’re in for a treat! ;)