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Monday, August 7, 2017

the story of the story - mended and torn

I forgot to schedule this, so it's late, but here ya go.

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This is a new series I'm going to start, telling the inspiration for whatever story I'm writing in an aesthetic way.

This is going to be the story of how I came up with the idea for Mended and Torn, my current WIP.

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It's 2012. I've read this amazing series called The Gallagher Girls by Ally Carter, and it opened my eyes to the world of espionage. I mean, I've always been interested, but this... these were teens who were being trained at a secret academy. The main character spanned sophomore to senior year, ages 16-18, and everything was so compelling. I started writing something that was pretty much fan fiction with my own characters, too young to figure out that I can take this inspiration and weave my own story, completely different. It captivated me, and I found myself planning it into a 5 book series, with eleven chapters each book.

Around book 3, I got bored. It's too common, I knew it too well, and, to be honest, my writing SUCKED.

So I moved on to an assassin book, loosely inspired by The Hunger Games. I loved the characters (most carbon copies of others from the "fanfic" I had dubbed Classified), so I kept writing. And I built a world. But I got bored, yet again.

I spent a year writing other stories, most more like fanfics than anything from my own mind.

But then I discovered BBC Sherlock.

And that inspired me.

I went back and read all the Arthur Conan Doyle Sherlock stories I had, learning about his detective and doctor, solving murders and mysteries, and started to plan out a book: the story of Sherlock's granddaughter.

And there is where Harper York is born. She was the Sherlock of the story, smart, cool, decisive, and incredibly observant.

This is also where Jessamine Stone is born. She was the Watson of the story, sweet, intelligent, wise, loving, and the only thing that can keep Harper in line.

But around chapter 3, I began to hate it. The other character, a boy named Anthony, didn't seem real. None if it really did. The plot seemed predictable. Everything seemed useless, boring, empty. Harper hid her abilities, Jess was called Jessa, and Anthony was more like my real life castmate than an actual character. Little things, but it made it seem off, wrong, somehow.

So, like I did so well with all my other stories, I stopped.

It sat on my computer, and I think to this day it still does.

I ended up going back to my spy story and took it, making it my own more than having it be a rip-off of Gallagher Girls. Nikki replaced the original main character, Erica. Jace stayed the same, the attractive-love-interest-bad-boy type that I thought had to be written in stories like these. I took Anna and Tessa from the original story and put them in this one. And I loved it. I was excited, I was passionate, I was writing something that was mine.

I even went so far as to make a theme board for it, which I entered in Tessa's contest back in 2014 (it ended up winning 3rd place, and I still am shocked that what I now think is pretty crap even got that award).

But eventually even that lost steam and started slowing down. I decided it would be best to take a break from it, so I put it aside over the holidays.

But one night in February 2015, I had a dream. So vivid, so interesting. The cast was me and Jack Frost (for some reason) and Russell from Up. We had to break into a school training their students to be assassins to save Russell who had been trapped there. People were separated by intelligence level, not age/grade. The elevator was impossibly fast. We had to get out though a vent with scanners in order to make sure that nothing harmful or toxic was passing through. I grabbed a thing of lettuce, Russell grabbed an apple, and Jack grabbed a cat toy. We sped along conveyor belts after being allowed through, dropping into one of those block pits at gymnastics places. We ran out into caves by the seaside, getting separated by guards. We reunited, only to go our separate ways. But two months later (in dream time) I found myself back at the school with Jack and Russell, all so we could rescue another kid from the same place.

Obviously that couldn't be used fully, as a lot of it makes no sense and the characters are not mine to use.

I woke up that next morning and instantly knew that this was my story. It gave me the action, the plot, the conflict (that actually didn't appear very much in the dream, but it was there), etc. All it needed was the characters. I instantly knew that Nikki would not be the main character of this story... so, I took one girl from a book I had been immensely passionate about: Harper. I changed her name from Harper York to Harper Sigyn Johanssen, made her American, and squashed her from 5'6" to 5'. Jessamine Stone became Jessamine Claire Ford, her original last name becoming the headmistress of Woodcrest Military Academy, Kelsey Stone. And Jace came into the story as well, bringing his old friend Aiden and morphing him into Quinn, a boy who prefers to be behind the screens than behind the guns.

(In other terms, more Ned than Peter... if you get that reference I will love you forever.)

And Belrose became Woodcrest Military, moving from somewhere in the south to Pennsylvania. And from there, the story became it's own, the characters fleshed themselves out the more I wrote, and eventually I ended up with a book about 200 pages long. Subplots popped up, the main plot fleshed out, and the most satisfying thing emerged: a message. More than one message, really, but one main one that I noticed and was so proud that I had put that in my writing. Because one thing I've discovered God probably wants me to do is impact people through my writing.

And to this day, I've had a few betas tell me that it was impactful. One being my own father (who actually didn't read all the way through I decided I wanted him to read the very final draft), who seldom reads books but said that this was one of the only books that actually offered him an escape from life.

People are impacted in different ways, and I'm happy about that. I'm happy that this mess of a story can possibly do that.

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Went on a bit of a tangent on the end there, but that's okay, right? Anyhoo. That's how Mended and Torn came to be. I'm going to do this with all my books. I think it's a good way to remember where they came from, which is something I never want to forget. Each of these stories I want to mean something, and I think the meaning of the story can be found in the history, here and there. It probably won't be fully visible until the book is published and read, but that's okay.

I've got a flash fiction story I'm posting next week! Look forward to that, it's inspired by real life (both my life and a girl's life who I've never met).

~Olivia Ann

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