1000 Words V: Black's Worm

by Black Velvet (http://www.geocities.com/blackvelvetrpg)

Story Image: "Suspension"


Captain McCrae's body lay a mouldering in the
grave but his restless cursed soul still walked the waters
and shore over which his grave looked.

As did the soul of his daughter Majory.

As did the ghost ship HMS Nancy.

In 1805 the English clockmakers son Charles Babbage was
called upon to serve his country and King George III.The eighteen
year old man declined, and soon was on the run.

He made use of the secret network run by some bloodthirsty
Scottish ladies and was transported to a castle near the borderlands
where he waited out the war.

Whilst there he often spent time in one room in particular. His
hostess was a collector of mechanical automatons, cuckoo clocks
and a common children's toy called a "photovoltaic engine" in scientific
terms and a "spin dizzy by children.

So it came to pass that one night whilst Charlie was amusing
himself by shining a lantern on the spin dizzies he noticed something
that peaked his interest.

This spin dizzy had the usual glass globe inside of which
spun a set of paddles. A portion of the globe was silvered and it
had a airless interior. Thus when light shone the light beam struck
the paddles both directly and from the reflected silver surface and
caused the paddles to spin on their axle.

However the toy maker had devised a mechanism which allowed
the axle to impart its motion through the glass globe and to cause a
series of tiny watch gears to cause a mechanical cricket to jump
up and down.

As Charlie brought the lantern right up to the globe he noticed
the paddles spun even faster and the cricket jumped even more

The seeds of a idea had been planted in his mind.


It was 1852 and Fitzroy Black, owner of Black Foundaries,had
a appointment with some members of the Swiss watchmakers colony.
He stroked the head of his pet cat Black Velvet and she purred

His Scottish benefactors had helped him relocate to
Norfolk County ,Upper Canada and had then secured contracts for
him to manufacture a new type of marine engine, the Stirling-steam

That had been a year ago and Black Foundries had done very
well .Out in the engine test sheds stood a line of ten of the engines
being test fired for the first time.

"Boompa ...boompa....boompa....boompa.....boompa" came the noise
from the sheds as the new engines were fired up.

On top of the engines sat their muffled stacks, which
alternately spewed out clouds of black smoke, steam and fizzling

The cat Black Velvet had gotten used to the sight ,smell and
noise of the infernal machines. After a while she got up, stretched and
jumped off Fitzroy's lap .She found a new spot on the unfinished
new engine factory's floor and curled herself up to sleep.
About a hour later Charlie Babbage,a older man of sixty five, and
some of the ladies from the Swiss colony entered the grounds of the

They marvelled at the sights around them. Off to one side a
Simcoe Mfg Co. alligator amphibious scow was being modified. Beside
the hull lay a Stirling-steam engine, as well as piles of coal and
wooden kegs containing hydrogen peroxide fuel for the Stirling.

Though Charlie knew it not, the same Scottish ladies who had
hinted he aught to meet the Virginian named Fitzroy Black were the
same Scottish ladies who had funded Blacks Foundries.

His party moved their wagons to the factory building they were
directed to and rolled the wagons through the open doors.

Introductions were made then Charlie and the head watchmaker
carried one crate to the center of the factory floor.

Inside was what looked like a telescope mounted on gear works.
On one end of the telescope tube was positioned two spin dizzies..

Fitzroy bent down and keenly observed the devices mechanical
workings. He could see that below the glass globes extended two
hair strand thin shafts into the gear works.

Charlie's assistant lit up a nearby bright lantern whilst Charlie
up a spring in the device. As Fitzroy watched, the device began to
whirr and click and its telescope swung over till it was pointing at
the lantern. The lady watchmaker picked up the intensely bright
lantern and walked to and fro.

The telescope tube moved to and fro as the device continued to
track the bright object.

Finally it's spring ran down and it whirred to a stop.

Next came the "Cricket".This device ran on wheels, and four
lanterns shot out intense beams of light from its left and right sides.
Fitzroy could see that the lanterns were angled so that their beams
would cross at a certain distance from the body of the device.

Charlie made some adjustments to the sensing tubes and wound
up the spring whilst his ladies fussed and oiled over the gear works of
the machine.

Then a lever was thrown and the clacking machine rolled to the
right towards the factory wall.

Just when it seemed it would crash into the brick wall the two beams
of light it was shining on the wall intersected to form a even brighter
spot of light. The device slowed,stopped,and went rolling in the other
direction, where it repeated the cycle.

Finally its spring wound down and it was time for a peek at
the next of Babbage's creations.

This machine he called a "comparator".Fitzroy was shown what
looked like a immensely complex gear works of paper rolls, rotating
metal tubes with stubs on them and a series of levers that Charlie
said was how he communicated with the comparator.

The comparator was a mechanical gear driven brain he explained.
The device could compare new input against its memory bank of
metallic storage cylinders and long unwinding rolls of paper.

As per the conditions for the demonstrations Fitzroy went to the
building's entrance and locked the doors. He assured the guests that
the only other person with a key to the building was David Gers,his
friend and piano player at his Christmas gatherings. David was off on
business and hence whatever now happened in the empty building
would stay secret.

When he saw the size of the crates the ladies were unloading
from their many wagons he suggested a burly foundry worker might
come in handy but his offer was refused outright.

Whilst he watched some of the watch making ladies began
stringing up a strong hemp rope several feet in from the inside walls.

Others began work at what he'd thought had just been another
wagon. As they unfolded its sides its gear works and central drivewheel
were revealed. Soon a octagonal platform roughly ten feet by ten
feet sat on many outrigger wheels.

As the ladies began raising four masts on four corners of the
machine Fitzroy could see that at the top of each mast sat a carbide
lantern inside a metal ball with many lenses in it. Down the length of
each mast ran belts, pulleys and shafts.

Then the ladies consulted with Charlie Babbage and the guests
pored over many documents. Finally they allowed Fitzroy a closer
look at the supposed wagon and he could see the engine which drove
its central drive wheel, many air cylinders and what he took to be the
air cushioned mounts for as yet to be installed devices.

The guests began carefully opening the crates and the astounded
foundry owner saw that they contained comparators, light seekers
and cricket like machinery.

One by one the devices were installed on the platform and
connected to each another. Fitzroy Black could tell that some of the
devices were instruments for recording marks on strips of
paper, some looked like telegraphic apparatus and many he knew
not what they were for.

Babbage told him he was looking at Babbage Experimental
Sextant No. 3,or "Bessie",as he and his ladies liked to call the
hulking machine.

Finally Bessie was assembled. Her main body stood ten feet tall
and above that the four masts rose another ten feet.

In the center of this complex machine sat a globe with many
spin dizzies inside it, mounted on interior axles. The spin dizzies and
their platforms seemed to move about randomly, but as Fitzroy looked
about he realized the things were being influenced by all the
random shafts of outside light that entered the building through
the windows.

The ladies who had been installing the rope safety barrier
reported to Babbage.They had been surveying the inside of the
building and Charlie fed this new data into Bessie.

After much tinkering and adjusting the assistants stepped away and
stood near a group of lanterns at the farthest end from the locked

Charlie explained the workings of the main analytical comparator,
which was the heart and soul of Bessie. Beside the device sat a lever
which could be shifted through nine positions. Beside it sat another
lever which could be placed in "random" or "logical' mode.

Each position on the lever activated a different function on Bessie.
"One" was a protocol that allowed Bessie to go from Point A
to Point F by following the trail of bright lights at Points B,C,D and E.

" Two " was a protocol that caused Bessie to randomly wander
around and sense her surrounding with her intersecting beams of
light, which she could then map out on the paper strip recording

There were several other protocols, such as the one that
allowed her to drop or pick up a payload when she sensed several
required conditions happening simultaneously.

"Zero" was the start up protocol, and Charlie Babbage moved the
lever to "zero".Then he switched Bessie into random mode.

" When she's in random mode she can pretty well do anything she
pleases" he explained to the younger man. That big globe of whirling
spin dizzies is her randomness generator.

Then Charlie took one of the brightly lit lanterns and held it
in front of a telescopic tube that poked out from the main analytical

After a few seconds a spin dizzy behind the tube began to spin
faster and faster until with a

"whirr click" the comparator came to life and gears and levers and
air bellows inside it began to feebly and hesitantly move.

Fitzroy watched a counter began to count down from five minutes.

If Bessie were aboard a stricken ship explained Charlie, she would
allow the crew five minutes to disconnect her before she fired herself
up and piloted the supposedly crewless ship herself.

The counter reached zero and the main comparator began
to speed up and began activating other components.Igniters brought
the lamps in the four masts to blazing life and beams of light
crisscrossed the interior of the building.

Air valves began to open and close and slowly Bessie's beams of
light fed their information to the main body of the mechanical

At that time her creator shifted the protocol lever into the
"two " position. He and Fitzroy joined the group of women and they
all shone their lanterns together at the machine.

Her light seekers swung over till they were directly pointing at the
enticing bright light.Babbage explained that usually at this point
Bessie engaged her main engine and would come clanking over to
record the bright light .

Just then however they heard someone unlocking the doors
to the building. In stepped a human figure, framed in the outside
daylight. It was David Gers.

Charlie and his assistants shouted at the intruder to quickly
close the door, but it was too late.

In a flash Bessie detected the new light, slammed into drive
and came charging at Mr Gers,who stood petrified and impaled
on one of the beams of light Bessie used to detect objects and obstacles.

The towering whirring hissing platform ground to a halt just
two feet away from David, who found himself looking up at her
mechanical eyes nearly ten feet above him.

For several seconds the machine stood still whilst she dutifully
recorded the existence of a light and a object positioned in front of
the light.

Then the machine charged off at a right angle, looped on a
circular track several times and charged back into the interior of the

Black Velvet had been all curled up and sleeping during the
initial racket. But as the noises grew louder the cat woke up .
Heading directly towards the startled wide-eyed cat was a monster
as big as a mountain, shooting beams of bright light out of
its eyes and uttering hissing and roaring sounds from its invisible

With a sick yowl of terror Black Velvet leapt for the stars.

One year and some months later Babbage,Black and Gers
stood in the pilothouse of BFEA No. 3 watching as a modified Bessie
tried to pilot the vessel along the coast of Georgian Bay.

Down in the room below where most of the machines gear works
were housed, the team of Swiss ladies were putting on their night
clothes as they prepared to retire for the night .They have claimed
Bessie's room for their own quarters and generally stayed with their
mechanical girl.

Down in the engine room the engineer stayed up, tending to
the Stirling-steam engine that powered everything directly or indirectly.

The waters around the vessel were lit up with beams of light, as were
cliffs along the coastline. The three men watched as their
mechanical pilot turned the steering wheel and controlled the speed
and direction of the giant Stirling-steam marine engine with a array
of air valves, levers ,belts and pulleys.

It was a quiet night on the bay, and for once the temperamental
mechanical intelligence seemed to be co-operating with her orders.

David Gers looked up at the moon, at the upcoming narrow
bay entrance they were hoping their pilot would ignore and then
walked to his piano in one corner of the pilothouse.

He began to play the ditty that had been making the rounds in
Upper Canada the last few months.

Bessie had been set up to make a straight line journey over
road,pond,creek and lake from Lake Erie to Wasaga Beach at
Georgian Bay.


" Blacky's Worm went a nose'n for the news
Along the way she squished a dozen coo's"

Which pretty well described Bessie's manoeuvring of the
alligator through the western end of the colony.

Twenty miles distant in the village of Wasaga Beach Black's
advance survey team had lit a huge lantern to attract the attention of
Bessie. So far the vessel had steamed directly towards the light, except
for the odd detour when her sensors detected the waters were getting
too shallow or a cliff had passed too close beside them.

According to the marine chart they had aboard the only possible
obstacle was the narrow bay that they were now approaching.

The unnamed bay was shaped roughly like a sock and the
three men examined it to make sure they hadn't neglected any features
that might prove hazardous to the mechanical intelligence.

A cliff along its south-western side. A cliff on its eastern arm.
A plain on its south shores. And a ravine to its southeast through
which ran a river.Nope,Babbage had input all the data into the
machines memory cylinders.

" Thunka..boompa thunka boompa thunka boompa " steadily
beat out the marine engine that powered the amphibious craft's
more conventional screw, as well as her land wheels. The powerful
thumping Stirling also provided the pressurized air and steam that
the mechanical pilot needed to function.

The men watched nervously as the brilliant moving spot of light
that the vessels masts projected on the shore suddenly broke up
into two dimmer separate beams as the shoreline gave way to
the open waters of the small deep bay.

Not surprisingly, the indicator that signalled Bessie's intentions
swung towards the bay and the vessel began moving quickly
towards its entrance.

Fitzroy took out his field glasses and looked in the direction
the B.E.S's sensors were looking. Sure enough a mile in front of
the bay he saw a white boat with two figures clad in white. One
of the figures was standing up, waving his arms .

For a few seconds Fitzroy could have sworn the standing figure
was dressed in a British naval officers uniform of a kind not seen
in these parts for nearly half a century.

Then he cleared his eyes, looked again and the boat and her
occupants had vanished. It must have been eyestrain.

The scow came on to the bay entrance and Fitzroy took another
look with his glasses.

Further in the interior of the bay he saw the hulk. It lay half
submerged and appeared to be a two masted schooner. There were
two figures standing on its stern.

As the BFEA approached the foundry owner could tell they were
a man and a woman, staring at him and waiting to be rescued from
the wrecked schooner.

Babbage must have seen them, for suddenly the vessels
engine speeded up the tempo of its beat.

Faster and faster Bessie drove the lumber alligator to her doom.

Suddenly the forward sensor lights became as one as they
picked up a narrow submerged rocky ledge directly ahead. They
were too close to avoid it.

A instant later the bow of the ship was slammed into the air as
her land wheels squealed in protest as they crunched over the sunken

Bells and whistles began sounding as the alligator lurched and
tumbled and crashed over and past the ship killing rocks.

Then the bow plunged deep into the waters on the other side and
more alarms went off.

The ship took a sickening lurch and her decks tilted.Down in
the engine room the engineer was flung into knee deep water as
water poured in from the stairway.

Down in the cabin below the Swiss watchmakers were flung off their
bunks as their mechanical girl was shaken and jarred brutally on and
off her mounts.

The mechanical brain screeched in protest as rods and cables
bent and twisted. Gear works began spinning out of control. The valves
to the air dampener system were thrown wide open, as was the
Stirling-steam engine.

Up in the pilothouse the men watched in horror as a disoriented
Bessie charged down the length of the sunken ledge at a speed three
times more than she'd been programmed for.

The lights lit up the craggy rock flying by mere feet
from the side of the vulnerable hull.

Charlie yelled to his two companions then rushed up
to the ships wheel and furiously sawed at the manila cable by
which Bessie steered the ship.

The other two men seized the spokes of the wheel and slowly the
out of control alligator steered away from her doom and towards the
south shores of the bay.

Raeben McCun,one time sailor in His Majesties Navy on the Great
Lakes, had been out on his dock watching with dread the approach
of the strange vessel with four masts.

Though he'd heard of the antics of Black's Worm and the
less than successful navigation of her by the mechanical Babbage
machine, he'd never expected it to show up in his neck of the

And now he was looking at it speed towards the sunken
hazard that had claimed HMS Nancy fourty one years earlier.

The alligator lurched, banged and slumped into the bay, her
trim off, her lights swinging wildly and soundings like that of a dying

He frantically waved his lantern to attract the vessel's attention
and slowly the craft turned away from the ledge and chugged
towards him.

As it approached he could see half dressed ladies milling about
on the lower deck. Up in the pilothouse he could see three figures
wrestling with the ships wheel. And from the ships smokestack shot
up showers of sparks, smoke and steam.

The advance party had quickly realized that their ship
wasn't going to make it to her destination, and had quicky doused
the signal. They'd spent the night weaving down country roads
and had arrived at Raeben McCun's homestead and a docked
alligator early the next morning.

Whilst the ladies, Charlie Babbage and the advance
party checked, repaired and made adjustments, Fitzroy Black and
David Gers took a walk with their host and listened to the tale of the
cursed ghost ship Nancy.

As they stood beside the tombstones of Captain McCrae and
his daughter Majory, Raeben told them the tale.

Fourty one years earlier the Nancy had been a warship whose
home port lay nestled on the ravine river that fed into this bay. Aboard
her had been British regulars,he,his brother Oliver McCunt,his
brothers sweetheart Majory and her stern father the Captain.

It had been a foggy night, and his brother had declined to pilot
the schooner into the bay for fear of ripping her bottom out on
the sunken ledge that guarded the bay. The Captain would not tolerate
mutiny, and he and his brother Oliver had been put aboard the white
ships boat and had drifted about on Georgian Bay.

They'd heard the HMS Nancy cross the ledge and rip out her
bottom. The schooner had quickly sunk on the other side of the ledge
and now lay in a bottomless sinkhole within the bay.

Most of her passengers and crew had drowned that night, including
the Captain and his daughter.

Some of the survivors had visited Raebens dying mother and
told her that the Captain had cast off her two sons in Georgian Bay
where they presumably had died of thirst and exposure.

The old lady had been a witch, and on her deathbed had
placed a curse on the Captain and his daughter.

For three nights a year their spirits would once again walk the
decks of the Nancy for the rest of eternity unless the Nancy was
guided back to her home port by a pilot not made of flesh and blood.

Over the last four decades many a man and woman had rowed
out into the bay and tried to guide the ghost ship to the ravine
river but had always failed. Either their vessel sprang a leak, the
winds died away or their courage had failed them.

As well there were rumours of vanished ships that had been
attracted by the sight of the two ghosts on the wrecked schooner .
The Nancy was probably not the only hull rotting away in that
bottomless sinkhole.

Fitzroy and David looked at the two tombstones, the ghostly
ledge and back at the alligator that was being repaired.

They were both thinking the same idea.


That second night the three men camped out on the top of
the cliff within sight of the two tombstones. Fitzroy Black took along
his cat Black Velvet.

The three men did not see anything different at first. However
when a swirling mist began to form around the top of the cliff the
cat began to hiss, spit and growl.

They watched as the swirling mists slowly drifted away from the
tombstones and drifted to a location inside the bay.

Before their astounded eyes two dark pillars broke through the
surface of the water. As the pillars rose it become apparent they were
ships masts.

Soon the half sunk hull of the schooner Nancy appeared. Slowly the
corpse ship wallowed in the bay. The mists above it descended and
hovered above the deck of the ship..

The mists solidified into the figures of a man and a woman. The
three observers trained their glasses on the apparitions and could
see that the woman was a young lady of about eighteen dressed in
clothes of a earlier age. Her companion was a older man with greying
hair, dressed in the uniform of a British naval officer.

They were looking at Captain McCrae and his daughter Majory.

The next day was a busy one. Whilst Charlie Babbage
added copious data to Bessie's memory cylinders,Raeben McCun,Gers
and Black surveyed the bay in a small sailboat.Raeben showed them
the rotting boat he and his brother had drifted in for a week on
Georgian Bay. As they worked their way up the ravine he pointed out
his mothers log cabin, some old gun emplacements from the war and
other relics from the past.

Finally the ravine opened up and he showed them the McCrae
homestead, the docks where the Nancy had lain when she needed
a hiding place during the War of 1812.

Nearby lay a single grave, that of his brother Oliver, who had
tended the McCrae property and just died five years earlier.

Finally night fell and the moon rose. Bessie was once again in
control of the alligator and the cautious mechanical pilot slowly
approached a bay its memory cylinders told it had to be approached
very very slowly.

She clicked and clacked through the directive, which had been
to enter the bay and swing to the east before proceeding to make a
series of serpentine moves before coming to a stop.

Her light detectors picked up the light cast by the two cursed
souls on the re-emerging Nancy. Slowly the pilot crawled her charge
over the rocky sunken ledge and came to a stop beside the ghost

Black Velvet clung to her master with her claws, and looked wide
eyed at the dead folk.

The BFEA No. 3 waited patiently for the Nancy to register her
existence, which the ghosts seemed not to do.

Fitzroy Black looked down at the ships wheel and saw that
his hand was lightly brushing one of the spokes. He quickly took
his hand off the wheel and the Nancy leapt into action.

Sails began to rise up the masts and filled with a invisible wind.
Slowly the ghost ship made her way to her mechanical guardian.

Bessie re-engaged her engines and slowly the two ships made
their way across the bay ,the silent gliding ghost and the lit up noisy
inquisitive guide.

Slowly Bessie made her way to the east. Behind her two of the
beams of light had been reconfigured to lock onto her charge, and
often the alligator came to a halt to allow the Nancy to catch up.

The two ships slid past the ravine entance,past the witches cabin,
past the gun emplacements and through twists and turns of the river.

Finally the alligator emerged out of the ravine and docked
herself beside the McCrae house where Bessie shut down the
marine engine.

Only the whine and hiss of air pumps broke the silence of the
night. The ghost schooner slowly glided in beside the amphibious
craft and came to a stop.

Sails were lowered by invisible hands, the schooner's mooring
lines secured themselves to posts.

As the people of the scow watched, a mist swirled out from the
grave of Oliver McCun and drifted towards the schooner. They watched
as it solidified into the form of a British naval officer, who hailed
the Captain of the Nancy from the dock. Permission to come aboard
was granted and a youthful Oliver McCun walked up the gangplank
of the Nancy. He strode for his long lost love Majory.

The young naval officer hugged her, swung her around joyfully
then placed her back on the Nancy's deck. The three apparitions
turned to face Bessie and her companions and waved their thanks
and appreciation as they slowly faded away.

A great tiredness fell on everyone aboard the alligator and they
soon fell asleep.

When they awoke the next morning HMS Nancy still sat beside the
dock, but was now little more then a pile of soggy firewood. She'd
reverted to her true form after four decades of resting in a watery

The curse had been lifted.

Black's Worm had done her job.


Raven's Comments:

I'm a sucker for a good ghost story, so the three opening paragraphs of
this story grabbed my attention right away. I was looking forward to
hearing the story of the HMS Nancy and how she had come to her tragic
fate. When I saw Charles Babbage enter the story, I was further intrigued
-- the legendary builder of the first computer is one of those historical
figures who just doesn't get enough screen time.

Unfortunately, the story doesn't really deliver on the potential that was
present in those first few paragraphs. There is no characterization to
speak of; we don't really understand who these people are, why they're
doing what they're doing, or why we should care about what happens to
them. There is only one line of dialogue in the entire story, and it could
just as easily have been given as exposition. That might have been
acceptable in H. P. Lovecraft's day, but the fact of the matter is that
dialogue is what connects us to characters and connects characters to each
other. One of the best methods for getting inside characters' heads is to
let them talk. It's not enough to tell us what information a person
conveys to another; it's important to see _how_ they say these things,
what sorts of speech pattern they employ, whether their manner is formal
or relaxed, and what sorts of body language, facial expressions and tone
of voice they're using when they communicate. All of these things can
convey mood and personality, and they're crucial tools in helping your
readers to identify with the characters. The only character whose
personality we really saw any glimmer of was the cat, and she didn't
really have anything to do with the story. It might have been interesting
if the story had been told consistently from the cat's viewpoint -- see
Nels Lindberg's story "Poolside View," from my 2000 Merfolk Contest, for
an example of this -- but this particular story is mostly related by an
omniscient narrator, which makes one wonder why the cat is in the story at

From a technical standpoint, your skills are decent, though you missed a
lot of spelling and punctuation errors (including a lot of missing or
transposed spaces) that would have been caught in careful editing.
Unfortunately, because there is so little to convey the emotions, feelings
and motivations of the characters that the story almost ends up reading
like a textbook or an encyclopedia article instead of a story. You have
some cool ideas -- Bessie is a neat creation with a very "steampunk"
flavor, and ghost stories and shipwrecks go together like chocolate and
peanut butter. This tale never quite reaches that creepy, mystical feeling
that one wants to see in a ghost story, though, and the inability to
connect with the characters keeps it from being as compelling as the idea
has the potential to be. It also doesn't have much to do with the image:
the gears in "Suspension" are evocative of the sort of machinery that
Babbage was famous for, but the image Vernon has painted here doesn't
really play a role in the plot of the story.

The good news is that you have a fairly strong technical foundation for
your writing skills; your prose isn't an agony of bad grammar and run-on
sentences. You know how to use English effectively to communicate, and
that's the first crucial step to writing. Now the trick is to learn how to
put your readers inside the heads of your characters, so they can feel
what the characters are feeling. I would suggest that you try writing some
short stories, or even just story _scenes,_ that are focused on just two
or three characters. Focus on portraying dialogue, expressions, emotion --
the stuff that makes a character live and breathe and _feel_ like a

You might start by watching a movie or TV show and recreating a tense or
emotional scene in prose -- doing a novelization of that scene, in
essence, and figuring out how to convey in text the things that the
characters are doing and the ways that they're behaving as they're saying
their lines. (Hint: "Babylon 5" is great for this sort of exercise,
because the characters engage in a LOT of emotional dialogue with each
other.) Experiment with writing these scenes from limited third person
perspective (so that we are essentially looking over one character's
shoulder, seeing only what she sees) and from first person perspective (so
that we can both see what the character sees and hear what she's
thinking). Then switch it around and tell the same scene from a different
character's point of view; they might interpret the same situation very
differently, even if they have the same facts to work with.

Once you've gotten some practice with this, branch out to writing scenes
with characters you've invented yourself, putting them in emotionally
powerful situations. Some ideas:

(1) A husband and wife argue about the way he acts around her mother, and
her mother's expectations of him.
(2.) Two soldiers are cut off behind enemy lines. One of them is wounded,
and tries to convince his buddy to abandon him and save himself, but the
buddy doesn't want to leave him to be captured or killed.
(3.) A teenager has to come out to her friend or family about being gay,
transsexual, a SCAB, a Cylon, etc.
(4.) Two lovers reunite after one of them had long thought that the other
was dead.

These are all somewhat clichéd, of course, but they're useful archetypes
for practicing your skills at characterization and dialogue. Once you've
gotten better at doing this in self-contained scenes, you'll be ready to
start writing full-blown stories with characters that can really make us
care about them. Good luck!

Spelling/Punctuation: C
Technique: B
Creativity: B-
Artistry: C
Applicability: C

Final Score: 33.5 out of 50

Copyright 2006 by Black Velvet. If you want to post this anywhere else, please ask for permission first. Thank you.

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