EXERCISE Plot Practice: Week 26, After a Fall

Discussion in 'REFINING WRITING' started by The Mood is Write, Sep 9, 2016.

  1. Everyone loves plotting! Plotting is a fabulous way to find new ideas, breathe new life into old ones, and otherwise just have a really good time.

    I'm going to throw three basic plots (in various formats) a week, and users are welcome to post their takes and what they'd do with any given plot. Participants can use the inspiration and prompts however they wish!

    This is primarily an exercise in how to make use of inspiration even when you maybe aren't 'feeling it'.

    1. Fallen Hero x Fallen Villain
    2. Alone in a Crowd
    3. "It's very easy to defeat someone. It's very hard to win someone."
     
  2. The plaza hotel lobby was just in front of her. She hesitated, not really sure she wanted to enter. hearing voice and music skittering from just inside those doors didn't make the decision any easier. she' managed to successfully avoid attention one of these functions, but this time, she was back in town to care for her ailing mother. Her best friend from high school had run into her an the grocery store, and somehow convinced her that she HAD to come to their class reunion.
    How fast had these twenty years flown by? Far, far too quickly, at least for her. She saw a couple approach from the opposite direction and though they glanced her way they did not stop or acknowledge her. She recognized them, but obviously they hadn't remembered her. Would anyone remember her? She was about to turn and go home when her friend came up behind ehr and lopping their arms dragged her inside. Her assurances that everything would be fabulous were met with a very skeptical nod and half-hearted smile.
    She made her way to a table near the back of the room and watched. She had always been good at watching, which is why she'd gone into photography in the first place. Her camera lifted and she snapped a few pictures of the laughing and smiling people. She knew all their names, but she'd been such a wallflower in high school that none of them seemed to even know she was there. She felt loneliness creep upon her with a vengeance as she snapped picture after picture of their happy faces and energetic conversations. A few people were dancing and others were at the bar getting drunk, but she was the only one sitting alone. Even her friend had gone off to catch up with everyone else.
    She supposed it was only fitting. She hadn't ever participated before why would anyone think she would start now? So there she sat, taking beautifully framed pictures of the joy of being alive while she sat completely alone in the midst of it dying inside a bit more with each passing second.
     
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  3. @Quiet One @Gwazi Magnum @Lonewolf888978 @Crow @Mythy the Dragon-Wolf

    "It's very easy to defeat someone. It's very hard to win someone."

    Sam Ebayan did much in his life. He'd traveled all over the world in his years as a mercenary. He'd seen the rise and fall of powers both great and small. He'd borne witness to the age of superheroes...and the twilight of such gods among men...and their eventual rebirth. It had been a tumultuous few decades.

    As his skin was burned into a deep brown and given a leathery texture from fine wrinkles, and his hair bleached bone white, and his limbs grew weaker and his body slower, he had only to look in the mirror to appreciate the changes in the world and his contributions to them.

    He'd turned in his tactical gear and weapons for a suit and tie years ago. He'd abandoned battlefields for the floor of the United Nations congregational chambers. He'd given over his mission to younger, more vibrant hands, hands that he himself taught, mentored, and trained over countless, painstaking hours. How many of the younger generation of superpowered heroes looked up to him as a father figure? How many times had he been told he was the face of their unusual community?

    Sam adjusted his tie in front of the mirror, hiding the scars across his neck and collarbone. His shirt and coat hid the rest. Hundreds of old wounds from countless prior battles, each with a story and an enemy behind it. He'd left thousands dead in his wake, back in his prime: monsters, evil men, others.

    In his youth, as a mercenary, he only cared about saving the people in front of him. He only cared about defeating the enemy he could see and hear and touch. He trained brutally, pushed his body beyond its limits over and over again, always in the quest to surpass all enemies - especially those who surpassed human capabilities. And he had done it.

    In his prime, he faced the strongest of creatures hiding in the shadows of the world: demon aliens, robotic monstrosities, spellcasting men, martial artists who could crush armies single-handedly. All he had to his name were his wits, resourcefulness, and skill. And he conquered them all, either alone or with the help of his companions.

    "It's very easy to defeat someone."


    He glanced over at a photograph by the mirror. More than a dozen men and women - some older, with graying hair; others that were younger and fresh-faced - were packed into that group picture. All were smiles. All were friends, comrades, brothers and sisters in arms...family. He'd fought and bled beside all of them. He trained a good number of them.

    Some, sadly, found darker paths than the one he'd offered. The life of a superhero had its own, unique challenges. Not all who took up the mantle could shoulder the responsibility. Sam wondered if he had been right to train young Chiaki Uzuki as he had done with other young people who were better suited to the role of hero.

    Chiaki had been seventeen, an ordinary girl caught up in extraordinary circumstances. Sam - the world - needed her help. He helped bring her into the violent and confusing world of heroes and villains. He pushed her onto the battlefield. All she had ever known since then was a life of fighting. She grew to love it. Got off on it, even. She went down a different path. Sam wondered when - not if - he would receive word that his onetime student finally snapped and went on a rampage. He wondered when - not if - he would receive word that he had failed her at last.

    Could he still save her? He didn't know. This wasn't an enemy he could outsmart or outfight. This was family. This was blood, or near enough to it. If he stepped in, would he only make it worse? Would he be the one to finally push her over the edge?

    "It's very hard to win someone."
     
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  4. An excerpt from a first-draft of a story I'm writing.
    Chapter Four, The Courtyard. Alone in a crowd:


    ...Gracie went back into Bacharat’s. He knew how things would go for her: she’d find someone, someone she probably didn’t even like, grab his hand, drag him out of there, and use him like a living stress ball. Last night Redge was sure she went back for seconds. He couldn’t let on how this made him feel. For one thing, it would set her off on him about how he left the bar with strangers all the time. He knew she’d point out that she should be able to do that, too. He retort that at least when he did it he wasn’t hurting anyone. Every time Gracie left with a random guy he felt a knot in his chest.
    He felt his fists clench. Rebirth con men, his mother still ill, Gracie sleeping around – it was beyond what his easy-going nature could stand. He needed to relieve some stress. He needed to hit something.
    He went back downstairs to where Ruby was waiting for him. He scratched at the back of her ears affectionately then started leading her towards the Sublights. He had no intention of satisfying his urge for a fight in his city. Not that it could go unsatisfied; on the tenth floor of many buildings, including Bacharat’s, were well-known fighting circuits. There people could settle their primal craving for sport, settle disputes in a public setting, and above all vent out their most stressing frustrations. But it was too close to home. Whenever he felt like getting into a stupid fight to blow off steam, there was nowhere better for him than the Courtyard.
    The way to the Sublights wasn’t a route the blind dog knew, so she kept close to Redge as he went to the station. At the turnstiles she had a hard time finding the space between the dividers, but once she did she walked casually beneath the rusted metal just as he eased around it. Redge’s hardest task was getting her to lay down for the trip in the train, but she found an interesting smell, and while she was distracted he gently pushed on her back. That was all it took and she got down, her nose still buried in the strange smell. Because of Ruby, the twelve seats nearest to him were empty.
    The train screeched to a halt at London’s station. Many centuries ago it was called Parliament Station. It overlooked the decrepit Parliament Building and given the state of it there was little wonder why the name fell out of fashion. The intricate molding and antique supports were so badly melted, burned, and broken that the building looked more like a miniature mountain range. The only thing even remotely preserved on it was Big Ben. But in London, at least, they tried to maintain some semblance of beauty. The old streets, gone unused in so many cities, were built into a vast farming network with an arched glass rooftop. This way almost every resident could look out their window and see at least some patch of green.
    Redge continued leading Ruby along, striding across the walkways the Londoners had so brilliantly installed on the edges of their buildings, so on one side there were the tenants, and on the other a view of the greenery. The sight of it calmed him, but not enough to drive him away from the Courtyard.
    The walkways and the long farms came to an end at a patch of lifeless soil called Hyde Park. All around the barren space the farms simply stopped. A set of stairs led the way down. From his place at the walkway’s edge he could see a barely illuminated square building near the center of the field. There were also clear signs of movement in the field, as people rushed their way to the Courtyard.
    The closer he got to the building the more decrepit it became. It was only square in the loosest sense of the word, the walls in fact having imperfect angles and leaning either one direction or another. The Courtyard’s roof was opened on one of London’s few fair weather nights. Light poured out from windows like narrow slits and from the arched doorway. Before doing anything else Redge went to the food stand and bought two sausages for Ruby. He put them down in the dirt and she happily munched on them. Her bare tail thumped at the ground. Just like in New York, everyone here gave her a wide birth.
    Redge moved his way through the crowd to the Courtyard Square. It was a patch of earth tended to so that it stayed dry and firm, boxed in with old road dividers. At one end a podium stood with a bell man to sound the beginning and end of a match. Inside the square men, and sometimes women, fought each other in accordance to a loose set of rules. He went to the Keeper of the Court, a middle aged bloke with a shaved head behind a warped desk. Redge listened to him explain the rules only half-heartedly as he kicked off his shoes and began unbuttoning his shirt. He’d heard them before.
    “Those wishing to fight must deposit five credits for entry. No shirts or shoes allowed in the Square, as well as no belts, blades or blunt instruments. You may keep your socks on if you wish, and for the love of God don’t remove your pants. No striking below the belt, no biting, and make sure your nails are trim. Should you fail to comply with these rules you’ll find yourself quite comfortable in our lockup tank until morning…”
    Redge nodded to each of the rules, finished removing the clothes he had to, and paid his entry fee to the Keeper.
    Properly inside the Courtyard, he wedged further and further into the crowd of spectators until he got to the Square. Everyone was cheering wildly as the two were finishing up. One of the men, big but lean, hit the other’s head repeatedly, then kicked him onto his back. He was left rolling in the dirt as the bell that sounded the end of the fight rang out.
    “Alright! Alright!” the bell man at the podium shouted out as the loser was helped out of the Square. “Can I have another round of applause gentlemen for our resident strongman, Rodney McKellaugh?”
    McKellaugh’s name inspired a renewed cheering of the crowd. He outstretched his arms and seemed to bask in the applause.
    “Now who wants to step in and have a go with my friend next?”
    Shouts of bravado erupted from this request as every man there claimed they could take him. Redge personally didn’t know if he could or not. He wasn’t there for bragging rights. Just to blow off steam. And he knew that, while you could wait to be picked for a fight, the best way to ensure one is to just jump in.
    He hopped over the divider and the mood of the audience immediately changed. He got some boos and aggressive shouts for stealing the fight from everyone else, but he also heard eager calls to see this “skinny kid” take his best shot against the Square’s current victor. Also he heard bets, most not in his favor.
    “What’s your name, little man?” the bell man asked.
    “Redge Garrison.”
    “You’ve heard the part that says we’re not liable for injuries?”
    He nodded.
    The bell man shrugged. “Alright, Redge. When you hear the bell, WE’VE GOT A FIGHT!”
    Everyone roared their approval outside the square. McKellaugh came up to Redge before they got started.
    “Look, kid, just so you know, I don’t hold back,” he said. “What are you doing here, anyway?”
    “Just looking to blow off some steam.”
    “Steam?”
    “Yeah…There’s this girl…She’s probably sleeping with someone right now…”
    McKellaugh nodded and put up his hand to stop him. “Say no more. Just tell me: are ya good?”
    The bell was rung.
    “Let’s find out.”
    McKellaugh made the first punch. Redge easily dodged it and hit his right cheek. The big man faltered back, stunned. He hit Redge in the gut. He doubled over, but struck his arm up and knocked into McKellaugh’s chin. He dodged the next two swings easily.
    Redge never swung first. He couldn’t. When it came to a fight he just didn’t know what to do, so it was better to react and rely on his reflexes. Despite feeling so out of control, though, it was an addictive rush. McKellaugh swung again. Redge ducked and struck his abdomen. For it he got a backhand and a shot to his right kidney. He winced and turned into the blow. As he fell his body spun so his foot struck McKellaugh in the face. They both fell into the dirt. They scurried to their feet at about the same time and started all over again. As McKellaugh started getting tired Redge got more and more hits in after each dodge. After a right jab the big man fell down and when he got back up he was waving his arms in surrender.
    “I’m done! I’m done! Hit the bell!” he shouted. “I’m tired! End it!”
    The bell clanged loudly several times and there were dismayed groans from the betting men in the audience.
    “Let’s hear it for our new champion, REDGE GARRISON!”
    The announcement came with mixed reactions but the two combatants were ignoring it.
    “Damn, kid,” He took in a deep breath as he attempted to right himself. “You don’t hit very hard, but I’ve never had anyone as fast as you. I can’t keep up, and I’ll tell ya I’m exhausted…How ‘bout this? Rematch, in three days. Both of us come fresh. What do ya say?”
    Redge was trying to get his breath back too. Now that his fight or flight instincts were turned off he realized he ached all over. He could feel a bruise already starting to form around his eye, and he had a lot of sore spots along his chest and torso. The skin around his knuckles was torn and bloody.
    “I’ll think about it,” he said. “I’ll see how I feel.”
    “What do you say, Redge?” the bell man shouted down from his tower. “You want to dance for another round?”
    This time almost everyone in the crowd cheered. Some wanted their chance to go toe to toe with the kid who beat the night’s reigning champ, while others were eager onlookers interested in seeing just how far he could go. He exchanged a glance at McKellaugh, silently asking if it was worth it. He shrugged. Redge did a self check. He didn’t feel angry or frustrated anymore.
    “Thanks, but I’m good,” he said and instantly the spectators started shouting again. He yelled over them. “I’m sorry! I’ve got to get home now! Good fight, though! Thanks!”
    He made sure to shake McKellaugh’s hand before stepping over the dividers.
     
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  5. Okay, I had this draft plot in my brain in response to the below and had to write it down to set it free. Now, I'll go back to your regularly scheduled programming. XD

    1. Fallen Hero x Fallen Villain
    2. Alone in a Crowd
    3. "It's very easy to defeat someone. It's very hard to win someone."

    Deidre turned up her coat collar as a feeble defense against the bitingly cold wind. The wicked weather suited her frame of mind, but unfortunately not her body temperature. She stopped momentarily to lean across a rail, bleakly watching the skaters at the city’s public ice rink twirl or stumble, according to their talents. Everyone seemed to be smiling and laughing, with their family or friends or lovers.

    Must be nice, Deidre thought bitterly. Nice to have someone. Nice not to be a total outcast.

    She used to belong, used to count. But now she was just a discard.

    The Minnesota chapter of the VSW (Valiant Superhero Warriors) had given her the boot. Her own mother (secret identity: “the Mesmerizing Mermaid”), head of their chapter, had personally cashiered her, stripping the VSW emblem from Deidre’s costume, and escorting her out of VSW headquarters, three days ago.

    “Deidre, you fucked up,” she had said tartly.

    Mother wasn’t one to mince words.

    “I can’t be seen to be partial just because you’re my daughter. Go on now. You’re finished here, but maybe you can find a job flipping burgers or selling shoes somewhere. And don’t bother your father, he has enough problems.” And then the Mesmerizing Mermaid had shut the door in her face, and insult to injury, locked it.

    Deidre supposed she was disinvited for Thanksgiving as well.

    She thought that at least Rango (VSW identity: “the Rolling H-Bomb”) would show some kind of loyalty, but he had dropped her like a live coal. One minute the man was swearing devotion and the next he was running out the door. He even had his phone number changed after she had called and left messages.

    Well, she was through with them too! If one moment of compassion was all it took to destroy her credibility with what people called the finest heroes of Earth, then so be it.

    She turned her mind back to last week. After a long chase, she had been poised over one of the deepest mine-pit lakes in the state, wrestling with the villain Blackboots in mid-air for control of the ancient magical artifact he had stolen. The rest of his evil cohorts had fled in different directions, pursued by other members of the VSW. Together all the artifacts would, in theory, join together to create an otherworldly weapon of immense power. They had to be stopped!

    It wasn’t Deidre’s first encounter with Blackboots. She had always resented the fact that he was well-spoken, handsome (though who really knew under that black domino mask?), intelligent and cultured. It irked her. She decided she preferred her villains repulsive and disgusting, a reflection of their soul.

    Blackboots often engaged her in cat and mouse games, drawing her out in conversation, seemingly flirting with her! Some of her VSW friends liked that kind of thing. But Deidre wasn’t a player. Although being a superhero wasn’t her ideal job, she did take it seriously. And she didn’t care for mockery or sexual byplay.

    At one point in their scuffle, she had to lock her legs around Blackboots in order to prevent his escape. Of course, his dark blue eyes twinkled (such a peculiar shade of blue!) and he made some appreciative lascivious comment, designed to make her blush. But she knew his ways now and took no heed, despite her deepening color. Using her powers, she was his equal in physical strength and almost had the artifact wrenched from his grasp when they both heard a child scream in terror.

    The artifact fell from their hands into the depths, as they saw a young boy at the edge of the icy lake hanging from a cracking branch too far up off the ground for him to land safely. Another child crouched in the interior branches of the huge tree, obviously petrified. Blackboots and the Gilded Gazelle had put aside their differences and rushed to the rescue. While they successfully got the children to safety, they had lost the artifact which plummeted to the murky depths of the lake and had yet to be recovered.

    And so she was fired. The VSW had held a trial and decided that there should have been some way she could have saved the children AND retrieved the artifact. Not to mention it looked as though she was colluding with Blackboots. (Blackboots was no doubt laughing his head off somewhere, as that kind of news traveled fast among superheros and villains alike.)

    She was so entirely miserable now. More miserable than the situation warranted as she had never been that enthusiastic about being the Gilded Gazelle in the first place (her mother’s idea). She felt as though her heart had gone completely dark, at odds with her usual sunny nature.

    As she skulked there, stagnant in self-pity and confusion, she noticed a lone figure on the western edge of the rink. A solitary man that apparently had never worn a pair of ice skate before. She guessed by his halting, stiff movements that he was a senior citizen. Ouch! She winced as he fell flat on his face after a couple of stumbling steps. The poor guy was going to end up in the hospital. Everyone around him was so caught up in their own fun that no one helped him up. Deidre shook her head impatiently and before she knew it, she was standing in line at the rental counter for a pair of size 8’s.

    Lacing up, she soared over to the poor man who valiantly was trying, once again, to make a go of it.

    “Excuse me, sir,” she began politely, “but would you like some help? I could give you a few pointers.” (Deidre had been shy around strangers once, but as a member of the VSW that was something she had to get over quickly.)

    To her shock, it was not an old man facing her as she expected, but someone perhaps a few years older than her, with dark hair that curled down the nape of his neck and a refined intelligent face. “It’s extraordinarily kind of you to help a stranger,” he replied, startled, but appreciative. “If you’re sure you don’t mind. You see, I don’t seem to be getting the knack of this.”

    Deidre took his arm gently (in order to keep him upright) and was about to give him some advice, when she froze. Those eyes. That color of blue. The voice.

    “BLACKBOOTS?!” she yelped. The expression on the man’s face instantly confirmed her guess. Deidre began to jerk her hand away.

    “Wait!” he pleaded, “Gazelle, please don’t go. Let me explain.”

    “I’m not the Gilded Gazelle, anymore,” Deidre ground out through gritted teeth. “I’ve been fired. Now I’m just Deidre. Potential burger flipper and seller of shoes. That is, if anyone will hire me without experience or a reference!”

    He still clung to her. “And I’m Alex. Potential nurse’s aide or body part donor. At least that’s what they suggested when they beat me out of the arch-villain's union last week. Deidre, don’t go.”

    Deidre now understood why he moved so stiffly. “Blackboots … Alex. I’m sorry. Sorry they hurt you.”

    Alex twitched a shoulder. “It’s alright. You’ve hit me harder than that.”

    For some reason, Deidre turned pink to remember that and had to choke back an apology. One didn’t apologize for kicking the shit out of an arch-villain.

    “But what are you doing here?” Deidre gestured with her free hand to the skating rink, vaguely aware that her other hand still rested with Alex.

    Now Alex colored up slightly, at odds with his sophisticated demeanor. “Ah, this is somewhat awkward. I had read how you cut the ribbon at the opening last year. It said you were a Silver Medalist.”

    “Wait,” Deidre looked at him in astonishment. “You KNEW my other identity? Does everyone know in your…ex-organization.”

    “No,” he assured her, with an unfathomable look. “Only me.”

    They locked eyes for a moment. They both knew that Alex could have caused quite a bit of trouble for her if he had let that information slip. Deidre had to know more. She told herself that was all it was. Not that she felt attracted to him in the slightest.
    “And why didn’t you ….,” she began.


    “Look,” pleaded Alex, “Deidre.” He said her name like it was something exquisite. “Let’s go somewhere, get a cup of coffee, and I’ll tell you about it. About me. If you like.”

    Deidre felt a ray of light inside her darkened heart. This was insane. This was impossible. She should walk away and leave Alex aka Blackboots crushed and begging. Who knew if he was lying? Sincere? Toying with her? Leading her into a trap.

    But the mere thought of walking away from him brought the darkness rushing back in full. It would be too easy. Like rolling off a log. Like the rest of her life had been. Following her mother’s edicts. Following the commands of the VSW. Taking her eviction from the organization meekly.

    It was time to try something really challenging.

    The former Gilded Gazelle turned a dazzling smile on Alex, the first smile he had ever won from her (despite all Blackboots’ attempts over the past few years).

    “Yes Alex, I’d like that,” Deidre replied.
     
    #5 Ravenfrost, Oct 29, 2016
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2016
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