Saturday, December 24, 2011

Grains of sand, falling


Well, it’s Christmas Eve again and, despite the late start, I’m still aiming to get a short ghost story written before midnight.

If you followed this last year, it’s the same deal.  I’ll be drawing Tarot cards and pinning them onto a simple story structure.  It sounds easy…


Card One:  The Knight of Wands (reversed)

This is a fiery and impetuous card, representing a lot of activity but also unreliability.

Of the 36 Dramatic Situations, I’ve paired this to number 30:  Ambition.  This means I’ll have to now select an ambitious protagonist, an object that is to be desired and an antagonist.  This is one of the oldest stories ever told, from Jason and the Argonauts to the “go here, get this” quests that fill computer games.  However, it’s rarely that simple…



Card Two:  The Page of Wands (Reversed)

Another energetic and pro-active card, this represents an effervescent youngster and a surge of activity.  The fire of the wands is also indicative of a selfish charm and ruthlessness of ambition.  A good card for the protagonist of this situation!  However, reversed, it signals hyperactivity and a breakdown in communication.

I’m questioning which perspective to tell the story from now.  I want this card to belong to the ghost and to have them be looking for something, but I also want to keep it in a traditional third person limited, “haunted hero” point of view.

Let’s see what the other cards say…



Card Three:  The Queen of Wands.

Considering that I’ve shuffled this deck of cards twice and it’s remained untouched since last year (when it was shuffled again), it is statistically improbable to draw three of the four court cards for the same suit.  In order.

Like the other two Wand cards, this is an active and self-centred card.  In this case, though, there is a practicality and nurturing element.  But it is the security of wealth and the drive to sustain prosperity, rather than an unconditional love.

From this I’ve decided that the coveted item will be an heirloom of the protagonist’s mother that carries as even more emotional worth than it does financial value.


Card Four:  The Six of Pentacles

Thankfully not the King of Wands, which would’ve left the story somewhat flat.

The Six of Pentacles is yet another covetous card.  Which makes it excellent for our antagonist.  It is an earth card, though, which means that they are interested in our heirloom for its financial value.  It also represents the beginnings of harmony and acting as a benefactor, so the antagonist will eventually soften to the ghost’s goals and become an ally in the resolution of the story.  This is further backed up by the fact that the card is reversed, indicating a lose.


After lunch and an unexpected trip to the shop, the writing begins…


Four hundred and forty two words and I’m still in the first act.  Less than eight and a half hours to go.  Not looking optimistic.


First thousand words done.  So far I’ve been writing with Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’s soundtracks to The Social Network and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo in the background.  Great music to keep you in a specific place without intruding into your own work.  Apart from the cover of Immigrant Song which is just epic.


First sighting of the ghost comes in at around one and a half thousand words.  I reckon I’m about a third of the way in so far.


Two thousand words in and the second act as begun.  I think it’s time to start ramping up the tension now that the “protagonist” is alone in a haunted house….


Tea has taken far long than expected.  10pm finish not looking so optimistic.  Why, oh why do I give myself these deadlines?


Although I’m about to reach the beginning of the end of the second act, a ten pm finish is still looking unlikely.  We need a lot more of our Page of Wands.

Incidentally, because I’m running out of time, her appearance will be based on an actress.  If anyone can guess who it is, I’ll dedicate the story to you.  Like me, you have until midnight.

Just realised, I’m the only one who can see this so far (maybe a plan for next year?)  So that’s Midnight Monday 26th December, and I’ll update the Scribd copy.


It’s going to be a race against the sand this year.  I’ve just turned into the third act and while midnight still looks possible, getting it formatted and up on Scribd might be a bit optimistic.



I’ve fallen at the final hurdle.  Or rather sentence.  Just as the church bells started to ring, I was in the second to last line.  I’ll finish it up, go to bed and post it some time tomorrow.

Massive disappointment and the lesson learned is:  Christmas is about family, but for one day of the year, could you please leave me alone to write?

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