Monday, 29 July 2013

Undefeated At Sixteen

So I thought it might be fun to write a section of a novel from a male perspective, such as Max, just to see what you guys might think about it! Tell me your thoughts if you like the difference, or whether you would prefer I stick to Serena's literary exploits!

Max was gripping his gun defensively, waiting for something to jump out at him from the shadows. He had heard a scratching noise inside the caravan, but it had fallen silent when he whipped his gun out. Max was on edge. All he had to do was find his dangerous adversary in this maze of trucks and caravans, but it was beginning to look more difficult than he had thought.
Cautiously, Max tucked his Walther PPK into its holster and crept around the corner. The dark building yard was like a ghost town, utterly silent and spooky. Not that Max was scared or anything. He was one of the best teen agents MI5 had ever had; his self-defence skills were beyond compare.
“I’ve got this,” Max chanted to himself. He took a deep breath as he skulked through the dingy passages, sticking to the wall as much as he could. His footsteps were echoing, amplified by the corrugated iron surrounding him.
There was a crash behind Max and he spun round to face three grownups, all fallen out of a side door and picking themselves up off the floor. They had weapons in hand and were leering threateningly. The first monster came at Max with a jagged knife in his fist but Max was quick to wrestle it to the floor and knock the thug down with a blow from the butt of his gun. As Max recovered, another assailant leapt with his legs aimed at his head. Max only just ducked in time but the last man was waiting to make a move and dealt him a punch straight in the face.
Thrown backwards, Max was unable to defend himself from the onslaught. He felt a foot being driven into his stomach and he doubled over in pain. Max returned with a strong fist into one guy’s jaw. The adult flew back and collided with the wall, hitting his head and tumbling to the floor unconscious.
Then it was one on one. The final attacker seemed to back away but then he raised his deadly blade. Max rushed at him, closing the gap. He hit the goon once, twice, and kicked him in the nuts. As the enemy crumpled, he pulled Max to the floor with him. With a groan of anger, the man reached for his throat and began to squeeze. Max panicked. His arms flailed uselessly as the jerk crushed his windpipe. 
Suddenly, there was an opportunity. Max struck flesh: as his eyesight started to blur, he felt for a face, found an eye, and immediately thrust his thumb in, gouging out the jelly-like organ. The man let go at once, pressing his hand to his face in pain. Max took his moment, seized his Walther and shot the thug in the head, killing him instantly. 
Max holstered his gun and touched a bloody gash on his cheek. He shook his head to clear his mind and looked at the damage. After fights like these when a fifteen year old boy was the only one left standing, Max knew he had a gift. The first man he had taken down began to stir, and Max walked calmly towards him and knelt right overhead, his knee pressing into a muscular abdomen.
“Where’s Bratiano?” Max demanded.
The man’s eyes travelled up to his face with a look of utter loathing. “I won’t tell you shit,” He snarled in broken English.
Max pressed his knee into the guy’s groin more forcefully. “Tell me,” he growled. “Now.”
The man gulped and a pulsing vein appeared on his neck as the pain intensified. Finally he succumbed, red in the face. “Okay, okay! I’ll tell you! He’s in warehouse seven, in the basement…”
Wordlessly Max pulled the man’s head up and smashed it against the gravel underfoot. He hoisted the three bodies back through the side door into the darkened caravan and locked them in, taking two guns and enough magazines to fill his enormous pockets. He waited for a few seconds, listening, and once he was sure the coast was clear, he scarpered.
Pressing himself low to the ground, Max moved swiftly. He made for the other end of the yard, where the warehouses stood in a uniform row along the back fence. There, that was warehouse five. And next to it was number six. That had to mean that the lucky warehouse was just…
A light flicked on in the seventh warehouse, Max could see a glow under the threshold. He cursed his luck and flung himself back into the shadows as a group of silhouettes opened the door and walked out. They were speaking fast Romanian but Max could just about make out the gist of their conversation.
“The diamonds will arrive by morning,” one figure was saying. “You can exchange them with the aubergines at the gala.” Wait – that wasn’t right. Max must have mistranslated something. He backtracked through what he’d heard but to no avail.
Another voice spoke, gruff and confident, “We must get the missile back from the Albanians at the gala. The plan must work.” Max shook his head, angry with himself. Of course, he had mistranslated Albanian for aubergine. Only a rookie dumbass would make a mistake like that, Max scolded himself.
As the group moved further out of the light, Max could make out the distinct profile of Uorsin Bratiano, renegade leader of the Romanian branch of Akullatt. He was one sordid son of a bitch and he deserved everything that was coming to him.
Max’s original plan had been hindered by this new development. He had meant to creep into the basement, incapacitate the enemy and get as close to Bratiano as possible, but now Max would have to wing it. He had to think fast or he would lose sight of his target. Now that Max was out in the open, he had a better chance of escaping - but only if he was careful. He took a deep breath and prepared himself for what he assumed would be immediate death.
Max emerged from the shadows, brandishing his own Walther and a semi-auto he’d confiscated from the three men. Without missing a beat, he took down four big guys with well-aimed shots and shocked the group into forming a protective circle around their villainous leader. Max mowed down another two figures and propelled himself forward to seek out Bratiano. He no longer cared for his own safety.
There were twenty metres between him and the circle. Ten metres. Five. Max blasted through, guns blazing around him, and grabbed Bratiano by the neck. He held a gun up threateningly, waiting for the men around him to lower their guns.
But Max had miscalculated; there was a noise behind him, a roar, and with blinding pain in the back of his head Max blacked out. 

Friday, 5 July 2013

How To Create Your Character.

When you’re planning a novel, one of the first things you need to think about are your characters. Personally, I often start by drawing out each character and writing down a little of their background before I even write them into the book. From here, a character will usually develop its own little story, especially if it’s only a minor character to begin with. Although you need to watch out for lengthy histories to make sure they don’t wreck your plotline, usually character backgrounds can be good for the novel; they help to lengthen it and make it more entertaining.

Because characters are so important to the story, you have to consider them carefully. If a character changes personality half way through the plot, make sure that it happens on purpose. You cannot have irregularities or inconsistencies in your story or you’ll end up confusing your audience and then no one will be happy.

Every time you add in a new character, create a spider-diagram of her personality, her appearance and her background. Really, this part is up to your imagination. If it helps, use the basic persona of one of your friends and change their name and personality a little. Since many of my friends requested a part in my story, here are a couple of examples of how this might work:
Felicia Puxley = Felicity Pillsbury        Fadererah Segun = Faderah Shegan

However, if you’re going to use the personality of someone you know but want to show the character in a bad light, I strongly suggest that you don’t make it too obvious, or trouble could ensue. I usually ask my friends to help craft the character which will be based on them, as new opinions on a personality can often lead to a more varied storyline.

Depending on the genre of story you are working on, you will need to create different numbers of characters. For example, a murder mystery only needs three main characters: the perceptive detective, his supporting sidekick in the form of a cop or a journalist and finally the vile villain. Of course other characters are essential to the plot to make it more interesting, to create twists and turns which grip the reader.

You must choose how many main characters are necessary to your plot. Who is your protagonist? Do you have more than one? Or does everyone else primarily affect this person? And because your protagonist is so important to your story, you need to think long and hard about his personality. Don’t just opt for the perfect boy or girl next door. You must invest your protagonist with personality — or else relegate the squeaky-clean character to a secondary role.

When creating a personality, you must be sure to keep your character original and diverse. There are a few things you ought to keep in mind as you invent each unique person which will make for a more fluent and believable story.

Firstly, avoid stereotypical characters. Any generalisation could be offensive to someone and it is important to open your story up to as varied an audience as possible. At the same time, you need to get the balance between the farfetched and the stereotype to allow the readers to relate to your characters. For best results, combine your character with elements of another character type to make them seem more diverse.
Here are six stock characters to avoid:
1. Sidekick: The protagonist’s right-hand man usually serves as a clashing counterpart: daring vs. nervous, thoughtful vs. tactless, and so on. Make sure your sidekick complements the protagonist, but also keep their relationship fresh by introducing a kind of vulnerability in the lead that your subordinate can exploit. 
2. Scatter-brained professor: This can be used to humorous effect, but you need to deepen your character further for a more interesting plot. Perhaps Doctor Puzzle is just pretending to be a shock-haired scientist but really has a deep dark secret.  
3. The mistake-maker: A comic-relief character who needs to be more than just a clumsy or impish type. Perhaps he’s pretending to be a hare-brained idiot simply to divert attention from his true purpose.
4. Tomboy: The tomboy transformed is a common ploy. Resist the urge to use the old ‘Rags to Riches’ story. If a girl won’t conform to feminine societal standards, go with it. But you have to ask the question, why does she rebel against these standards? That’s the key to her character.
5. Jiminy Cricket: The character that acts as a conscience is very often seen in moral stories. It is used to contrast with the protagonist and offer useful advice to help extend the plotline. This may be an effective device in some instances, but you must handle it with care. Remember: Ceaselessly righteous characters are boring, and stories in which they have no real challenges fail to engage readers.
6. Dork: Geek, nerd, nimrod — been there, done that. The stereotypical braces and glasses are now used in almost every cartoon. You need to decide why you need this character. What makes a dork a dork? What makes him interesting? Maybe there's a subtle hint of malevolence or passion hidden within that could burst out over the course of the story. 

Secondly, you need to check the names of each character. It is very common for an author to become familiar with a certain letter that they use for their names. Personally, my overused letter is “s” as in Serena, Simon and Skye. This is not good. If you have too many characters sharing the first initial, the reader may get confused as they get the names mixed up. I often find it useful to write down all of the names in a list so that you can easily check for repetition. If you need inspiration for alternate names, baby name websites such as have randomisation devices and name generators which can find a name based on meaning, origin or initial letter.

Thirdly, be realistic. Don’t try to make your protagonist your perfect ideal of morality, the person you should be like. Characters who always know what to do and what to say, who always do the right thing, are less appealing, because we are less likely to relate to them, to see our own imperfect selves reflected in them. A faultless character is a weak basis for a successful story. Adventures appeal to us because we sympathise with people who fail but can dust themselves off and try again. We can relate to that and that is what builds character. Allow for mistakes in your character’s opinions or views, because no one is perfect and everyone has a different opinion of a particular issue.

Finally, make a short biography of each character and keep this, with a description of the character’s appearance, to dodge irregularities in your work. Create extra background, such as where they are from, what event in their childhood spurred them to choose a particular job or hobby, or what their relationship with their family is. Even if you do not choose to add this into your writing, it will serve as useful in helping you to connect with your characters. A writer who fully understands each of their characters can create a more convincing storyline which the audience will be able to relate to. Simultaneously, you will be able to compare your character backgrounds and make sure there are no accidental similarities which may lead to confusion in the novel. Personally, I keep a small, green book filled with drawings and scribblings – information about my individual characters.

I hope these tips have been useful, and remember that if it helps the story line, ignore all of the rules! Questions? Comment below or email me at 

Saturday, 15 June 2013

The Mission To Save

So recently I haven't been posting anything - concentrating more on my exams and such! So I thought I would share with you a short story which I wrote a while back!! Enjoy!

 “What do you know about child trafficking?” The head of MI5 asked us sternly.
I blinked and Daphne shifted uncomfortably. Lucy put her hand up. “It’s the recruitment, transportation, harbouring, or receipt of children for the purpose of exploitation, most commonly in the form of slavery.”
“Well done T21. You’ve been reading. Now, some of these people run brothels where children are subjected to… ahem, forced acts of sexual indecency. We have located one through our undercover agent, a human smuggler, and we feel that it must be taken down immediately. We would have older agents going in but unfortunately this particular brothel deals only with young girls and you three are our most experienced veterans. Your mission: to save these girls.  The risks are high; we have little intel on the layout, but Simon will be nearby with a squadron of Special Forces. You have all been trained to be the best of your age group in self-defence, and I want you to recover and protect as many captives as you can. Now go and get changed.” The Head dismissed us with a flick of his wrist.
I left the Head’s office absolutely terrified. I had killed people before. I had travelled the world in search of ruthless assassins. I had seen things a sixteen year old should never see in this world, but this? This was outside my comfort zone.
I changed into an old pair of slacks and a grey t-shirt and stood waiting, shivering, in my co-ordinator’s office for the signal. Simon, my co-ordinator, invited us to sit on the hard, wooden sofa but it offered no relief for my racing heart.
It was a dangerous mission and I had every right to be scared. We had no idea what we would find inside the walls of that brothel. Simon looked anxious; he knew that he was putting us at risk, and if anything happened to us, he would be held partially responsible himself. If he tried to do anything to save us if something happened while we were in there, he would jeopardize our cover. Through the walkie-talkie came a voice saying, “Code green. Bring the girls and begin stage one!” I trembled as Simon picked up the machine and acknowledged the order.
We were herded into a solitary, black van and driven down into the most squalid part of London. I gazed out of the window at the passers-by on the pavement, going about their ordinary work-a-day lives. We drove through countless streets, busy ones and quiet ones, but everywhere I looked everyone was minding their own business. I imagined what they could be thinking. Possibly one could be regretting a row with her friend, or another who had forgotten his presentation as he hurried into work. All the same, none of them turned an eye to our car, none of them cared about what we were about to do.
Eventually, as the sky began to grow darker overhead and the streetlamps flickered on, the van slowed to a halt in a deserted alleyway. We got out of the car and stood shivering in the cold December breeze. The agent who had been working as a smuggler approached us and told us to follow him alone. Soon I found myself sitting in a gutter next to the brothel with Daphne and Lucy.
“Jen, please don’t act the hero before you can! Wait, at least until you have a little evidence, before sending Simon the signal, please…” Daphne begged me in a whisper. She knew me too well. It was so like me to want to try and get the mission over and done with before it had even started.
Presently, a man who looked suspiciously normal came out of the house and had a few words with the agent. There was an exchange of money, and then the man, who I assumed was the boss, looked us up and down and dragged us in without asking us anything. So far the mission was going to plan. He now thought we were his captives and in theory we were. It was easy to look scared for him; I did not have to act. I was already practically beside myself with terror.
The boss threw a few flimsy garments of old lingerie at us and ordered us to put them on in poor English. We stared at him like frightened rabbits until he looked away while we put them on. Fortunately however, he did not see our communication chips in our ears.
He then directed us each to our own tiny bedrooms which were surprising, considering I had expected filthy rooms crawling with cockroaches and earwigs. Obviously the boss liked his clients to be comfortable. There was a small double bed draped in relatively clean sheets, and a vacuumed carpet covering the floorboards. Attached to the bedpost there was a long chain with a shackle at the end. The boss grabbed me before I could pull away and he locked the shackle onto my wrist. When the boss was sure that I was safely trapped, he left the room and slammed the door.
For hours I sat chained to the bedpost, listening to terrified cries for help in adjacent rooms, waiting for enough evidence of lawlessness so that I could pull the plug on the whole mission and sink the brothel. Eventually I heard the uproar of drunken men downstairs waiting to be served. My heart started beating faster and faster; there was that rush of adrenaline that kept me going throughout all my missions. I tried hard to remember what Daphne had said to me earlier, and shut my eyes to concentrate.
My door suddenly burst open and a ravenous looking man stormed in. He was very drunk and seemed extremely violent. I was completely taken aback but still managed to press the alarm button on my earrings. The man leered at me in a sick sort of way. He smelt like an ashtray and looked like he’d been fighting. He lunged but I was too quick. His drinking gave me the edge. I kicked him in the stomach and he stumbled over. I would have run then but tied as I was to the bed, all I could do was avoid him until the police sirens could be heard. He stood up and roared at me furiously. I promptly kicked him again twice and he buckled over, moaning and cursing at me. He was leaning against the back wall clasping his stomach protectively.
After a few moments, the man leapt up and pinned me down on the floor before I could kick him again. His heavy hands were crushing my shoulders into the floor. I shut my eyes and prayed hard to a God I’d never prayed to, defenceless against him. Suddenly, as if in answer to my prayers, a loud police siren suddenly went off down the street and the man scrambled out of the room. I was left in a daze, suddenly thinking that the man had rendered me unconscious and I was dreaming! Soon enough Daphne came to my rescue and unshackled me; just before I let my thoughts get the best of me.
Together, we raced to Lucy's room, just in time to see her be carried off by a large brutish man. My insides squeezed nervously. I was angry and scared, but I was letting my emotions take over. Daphne and I threw ourselves at the kidnapper and tried to take him down, but he ran off with Lucy screaming hysterically over his shoulder. Daphne looked at me and I looked at her, and then we chased after the man quickly. He stampeded down the stairs and out of the house. We were slowed down by a crowd of scared and unhealthy teenager girls pushing to be free. I forced myself through the crowd, clinging on to Daphne's wrist, and we finally made it to the bottom of the stairs.
My heart pounded as I ran through the house in pursuit of Lucy’s captor, while the sound of Lucy’s screams rang in my ears. There was a door in front of the ogre-like man, and he smashed it open with all of his weight. Daphne, who was just in front of me and managed to jump at the man as he was slowed down by the force of the door, and she clung onto his ankle tightly. I flew at the man with my foot aimed at his spine, and he fell forwards, releasing his hold on Lucy. Daphne twisted his leg, and he cried out in pain, lying in a defensive position on the floor. The struggle ended almost as soon as it had started, as Lucy rendered the man unconscious with a sharp tap to the base of his skull with the heel of her foot. Together, the three of us heaved the beastly man up and dragged him back to the bottom of the stairs to be tied up along with the other captives. Simon had arrived, and he looked up at us as we dropped the insentient man to the floor carelessly. Simon stooped to bind his wrists together and then followed us outside.
“How did the mission go? I didn’t really notice…” Lucy asked quietly. Her eyes were still wide with frenzied fear.
Simon nodded. “The girls we could rescue have all been cared for. Some had to be taken to hospital, and the others have been taken back to Headquarters.” He said. “Unfortunately, there isn’t much we can do. We weren’t expecting more than fifteen girls, and there were twenty four!”
“What do you mean the girls you could rescue?”That was all I had picked up from everything that Simon had just said. My ears blazed with disappointment and regret for the girls we had not saved.
“Some of them were taken away before we could stop them, in the same way Lucy nearly was.” He sighed as he saw my expression. “Jen, we can’t dwell on the sad things. Think of the girls we saved. Only a few were taken away, and they’re being followed. We’ll find them, I promise. You all helped to save lots of young girls with their whole lives ahead of them. You helped them have a second chance, to taste sweet freedom again!” We started to walk to the van that was waiting for us at the end of the road.
“What’s going to happen to them now?” Daphne asked.
“The girls can decide for themselves. Some will probably want to go back to their countries to be re-joined with their family if it’s possible, and some will stay here” Simon shrugged and came to a stop as we reached the van. “We’ll do what we can for them. You three don’t need to worry about it. You did well today. You rescued twenty four girls’ lives. They’re free. You should be proud of yourselves.”
“I’m not sure proud is the right word.” I muttered as I slid open the doors of the van and clambered in. I was relieved, yes, and tired. However I was not proud of myself. I was never proud of myself if we left someone behind. I tried not to think of those girls, and instead focus on the achievements of tonight’s mission. Maybe the success we had tonight would influence the way missions of the same type were carried out in the future.
As the driver turned on the engine and began to drive away, I looked out of the window silently with Daphne and Lucy, and we all kept our eyes on the street until it was out of sight and out of our minds forever.