Thursday, July 14, 2011

Hey, where's Chuck?

Disclaimer: Today's post has a lot of reference to popluar culture. Please bare with me because there's a reason behind the madness that's related to writing.

Miss Caitlin recently did a post on sneaky characters. It really got me thinking about how a new character can just pop into your head at the last minute or how a minor character can jump into a major character. The post almost remained me of the show Happy Days. For those of you that are fans of the show, know someone who are fans of the show (my parents use to it watch all the time), or maybe you were watching a show that likes to reference popluar culture, there's one thing you might be wondering: Hey, where's (or who is) Chuck? Well, Chuck (or Charles which ever you prefer) was the elder brother to Richie Cunningham, the series' main protagonist who disappear without a trace (or explaination) by the second season.

You're probably thinking why a post on book characters would get me thinking about a show that came out before I was even born? Well, the Fonz  started out as a Minor character whom, due to popularity, became a member of the full cast. He became sort of a "big brother" figure to Richie and his friends. So, Chuck went to the place of no return for characters. A kind of "No Man 's(in some case No Woman's) Land" for forgotten characters. Chuck's disappearnce was so creepy and noticeable to the audience that the term "Chuck Cunningham Syndrome" was coined to describe characters that vanished in a similar fashion.

Note that  "Chuck Cunningham Syndrome" is not  limited to T.V. characters on a live-action show. Examples can be found in cartoons, movies, books, and even video games.

So, let's see what happens when this is applied to books or your own writing:

You're writing a book (or writing a book) about four characters named Alice, Bob, Cindy, and Dan. Alice and Cindy both like Bob. They compete for him any chance they get. Soon, you (or the author of the book you're reading) so interested in what happens to them in this "love triangle" that Dan is eventally forgotten about. Or, in the case of  "sneaky characters", Eddy could appear as a new minor character and eventally worm his way to a more major part. Dan is a dull and flat character compared to new, interesting Eddy, so he's forgotten about. It's does not matter how important Dan was to the plot or his relation to the other characters. Once Dan disappears, there's no mention to him ever again.

So, I have to ask, have you ever notice a character from your favorite T.V., movie, or book series that just vanished without a trace. Or, have you ever read a older draft of your WIP and realized that there was a character who was important that did not make it to newer, more editted drafts? How about a character that was in the first book and then just disappear without explaintion in the sequels (in case your writing a book series)?  Please post your answers in the comment sections, I would love to here them! :)

And for more information on  "Chuck Cunningham Syndrome" including examples in literature visited the TV Trope page hereWikipedia also has a full list, but I'm not sure if that one has book examples as well.

P.S.  I can name one "Brother Chuck" from the first Sirius story that I had written with Shelby in it. His name is Griffen.

P.S.S  I'm sadden to say that "L" is my last letter post until next Apirl. Between finishing the summer assignments Clemson has given me and revisions on my stories, I don't think I'll be able to do it anymore. However, I will continue posting. Expect a post on how  orientation went REAL soon.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

L is for Lovely Worm

Hello, you guys. Whew, it's been some week preparing for orientation. Congrats again to all the winners (blogger is still acting odd when I post comments grrrrr!)  from last week post. Sirius-the-dragon and the Lovely Worm  is now my most popular fiction article on the Teenink Sci-fi/fantasy section. However, I would like to know what you guys think of it. I want your most honest opinion about it and DO NOT be afraid to spare my feelings.

Sirius-the-Dragon’s head was slipping him. He had no patience for the songbirds’ morning melodies or the sun with its tawny rays. The sight of lovers cooing and cuddling irked him so, for this was the time of the year when he was not himself.
A hint of spring tainted the air, but he alone seemed to suffocate on it. He surely did not feel comfortable being solitary, with such lovey-dovey mush polluting the air.
Everywhere he went; men drooled over beauties and bimbos who appeared fair to them. Sirius could not find the foggiest thought as to why, but it was fun to tease them. This was a flaw he could drag over their heads.
“I would never behave in such a manner around a lady,” he boasted.
A vacation was in order. The sooner he got away from these chowder heads the better. Far he would fly, away from this place. He needed to find some distant isle where he would see no mushy displays.
He flew until reaching a small, microscopic island, void of human life, and nearly barren of life of any kind. But, just as Sirius thought his headache had gone away, a noise polluted the air like none he had ever heard before. This noise, however, was not that of smitten poetry, but of despair and sorrow. The whining swirled into Sirius’s eardrums and banged on his brain.
“Whoever is crying so excessively is in for a stern talking to,” he growled, little puffs of smoke escaping his nostrils.
Sirius waited until night, when the howls came more frequently and with increasing pitch. Led by the calls, he stumbled upon an ivory tower. Listening – as the cries ceased for a moment, then rose up again, then softened a bit – he entered the tower. The walls and everything in the structure itched with veins of vines and statues of figures with odd shapes.
Finally, he came to a room overflowing with gold, jewels, and other objects of great value. There, in the corner, stood a maid with straw-colored hair. She was tall and lean, and looked most sad indeed.
“Hey there,” Sirius said to her.
She said not a word, but ran from him as fast her dainty feet could carry her.
Hunger roared at Sirius, so he went back to the beach for a quick snack. That chick wasn’t worth the chase.
The next night and the next, the mournful shrieking again drowned out the sound of the surf on the barrier reef of the isle.
“This is just too unbearable to stand,” Sirius grumbled. He was at wits end and had grown bad-tempered as the lack of sleep weighed on him.
“This was supposed to be my island of tranquility,” he yelled at the top of his lungs, for now he felt crabbier than upon his arrival. “That chick must shut up!”
He had to try to make her stop her incessant wailing.
Resolved, he marched right up to that castle, stomped down the hall into the room of treasure … but she wasn’t there. He searched every nook and cranny of the tower, only to find no one home. Finally, he exited the tower. What next?
A rustling in the bushes caught his attention.
“Who goes there?” Sirius bellowed.
There was no response, yet the rustling continued.
“All right! I demand to know who you are!” Sirius charged into the dark woods, getting closer and closer, all the while yelling at the intruder. “You pestering cry-baby! Cowardly…”
Sirius shoved the branches out of his face, and stopped, a flush of ruby stained his cheeks.
There stood the most gorgeous female dragon he had ever seen. Her garnet skin, with black markings, shimmered in the sunlight. She wore earrings of pearls and her body was bound around with chains of gold and precious jewels.
What beauty, what grace, what a babe!
“Hello,” the dragoness said, in a sweet, mild tone of voice. When Sirius didn’t respond, she asked, “Who are you and why have you come into my lair so unannounced?”
Sirius, tongue tied, couldn’t swallow enough nerve to ever say his own name. Come on, stupid! he thought to himself. Say something smooth. But not a word ushered forth from his lips and then the vision disappeared without a trace.
Sirius sighed, his body limp, as if he had been stricken with some bizarre disease, or knocked out by some strange force.
“What is wrong with me?” he shouted. “What illness plagues my body?”
He flew to a nearby island, searching for a doctor to cure him.
“I must have caught this from that female,” he told the doctor. But the physician found nothing wrong with him.
“How can this be?” Sirius mumbled as he sat in a forest glen.
“How can what be?” asked a familiar voice.
“Shelby! What are you doing here?” he asked his dear friend, the sea-dragon.
“I am visiting family … unfortunately. I heard your bellyaching from the sea-caves below us. What’s wrong?”
Sirius told Shelby the saga and what the doctor had said.
“Stop wasting the man’s time, Sirius,” Shelby told him. “You’re healthy as a horse.”
As Sirius was about to comment, he saw the dragoness splashing in the water.
“Aha!” Shelby said, laughing when she saw his look. “Tongue hanging out of your mouth; heart beating out of your chest; drool dripping everywhere - either you’re in love or need to be locked in a mental ward.”
Sirius hardly heard his friend’s words. As he watched the dragoness, fire heated in his chest and flames escaped from his person. The passion for her baked him from the inside out, though he would never admit such affection for her.
Shelby, however, resented the beauty. Green-eyed, she decided this new female would hurt Sirius, shred has heart into pieces.
Sirius didn’t hear Shelby’s warnings. He ran after the apple of his eye. But as soon as he reached her, all strength surrendered his legs and he slipped, falling flat on his face.
His beloved picked him up. “Are you alright?” she cooed.
Sirius’s skin sizzled white-hot as he beheld her amethyst eyes.
“Y-y-yeah, I’m all right,” he croaked. “What’s your name, pretty mama?”
She frowned, all joy now absent from her features as she answered with a mournful tone.
“They use to call me ‘Celena’, but now I’m just simply known as ‘loathsome dragon’.”
She told Sirius how she became known by such a title, but it went in one ear and out the other. He was delighted by her attention; her charm enchanted him.
Shelby viewed in silence, bubbling with suspicion. Something about Celena didn’t fit.
Sirius, blinded by smoldering infatuation, didn’t notice the flaws of his dragoness. He just wanted to kiss her.
But Celena, now greatly offended, slapped him with her tail and crawl back to her den.
Shelby had seen enough of this foolishness; she, too, retired to her dwelling.
Each day for many months, the smitten dragon visited his darling, bringing her tokens of affection: chocolate, flowers, perfume, jewelry fit for a queen. He offered her his heart on a silver platter, but she just shattered it into bits, along his other gifts.
“She doesn’t mean it,” Sirius said, mending the damage done to his ego.
Now, normally Celena was a kind and sweet dragoness, but for some reason Sirius irritated her. She dreamed of a hero who would sweep her off her feet, one who would wash her sorrows away and see her inner beauty, not just the outer beauty she possessed. Sirius did not match this description; he seemed the opposite of what she was seeking in a mate.
The constant game between them irked Shelby, and she ached for it to cease. She groaned for Sirius to come to his semi-senses and stop acting like the wrong end of a horse.
But he willfully pushed her aside. He wanted nothing coming between him and his sweetheart.
One day, Celena, upon seeing him again, ran for the hills. She couldn’t take another of his attempts to kiss her.
Sirius made haste after her; he wanted a kiss, no matter what. Through forests of timber giants to the ebb of the sunny bays, he chased her around every inch of the atoll.
Celena was drained, no energy left to move a step farther. Sirius had her cornered in a chasm, blocking the only exit.
“Now, my little buttercup, I’m afraid I have you right where I want you. Lay a wet one on me, baby!” he said, getting closer and closer.
The dragoness, wide-eyed, dreaded the thought of his scaly lips touching hers. “Dear dragon, I beseech you to please, please  discontinue with this conquest!” she pleaded. Sirius only smiled at this, perceiving her resistance as coy fancy talk and wobbled his eyebrows as he preceded even neared. “Stop it! Stop it right now! I have no desire to kiss you!” Celena pleaded once more. “I hate you!”
Sirius blinked. “What did you just say?” he whimpered. Her words had finally broken his love-struck delusions.
Celena repeated her words with an icy coldness that sent a knife-like chill down his spine and straight to his heart.
She hates me? She hates me?
The very truth of the notion was too much for him to acknowledge. This divine creature, this angel from the heavens above, hated him? She was revolted by his presence, while he was weakened by her company? The mention of her name made him jellify, the muscles in his body dissolving into jam.
He swallowed his pride – a bitter taste it was, too!
“You know what, sugar? There are other fish in the sea that will want this fine piece of burning beast. It’s you’re loss, baby cakes.”
Sirius knew his words were just puffery, but he had to conceal his grief. Dragons don’t cry!
He lumbered off to find a spring where he could sit and sulk.
Celena had some remorse for what she had said to him. That, and a threatening talk with Shelby, forced her to make atonement. She could hear his sighs from a distance and knew just where to find him.
“I’m sorry that I hurt you,” she said with the most sincere tone of voice. “I am flattered you love me, but it was never meant to be. I am hoping we can still be friends.”
At first he sat quietly, trying to think what to do next. Then a toothy smile crept onto his face. Mermaids sang in the shallows nearby. The sun painted the sky a cocktail of orange, yellow, and pink.
“Don’t sweat it, little mama,” Sirius assured her. “I would be picky, too, if I was as beautiful as you.”
Celena was speechless. No one had called her beautiful in a long time. She felt a new sensation envelope her. And when he gave her a small peck on the cheek she glowed. Her skin felt looser and looser, it unfolded from around her.
Sirius watched as his beloved shrank, shedding her outer coating until there was nothing left but a girl – a princess of high splendor. This was the damsel he had seen in the castle several nights before.
“Noble dragon,” said the maiden. “Your pure heart has broken the enchantment placed on me.”
Sirius was awed and dismayed to see this transformation.
“What happen? Where did the rest of you go?” he yelped.
Celena put her hands on her hips. “This is the way I was born, you goofball! I’ve been trying to tell you, but you wouldn’t listen!” she said, snapping her fingers.
Sirius was scrubbing his tongue and felt nauseous. “Rabies! I could have gotten rabies!” he cried.
He flew off with the young princess and gave her to a knight on an inhabited near-by island. It broke his heart to see her ride off with the young man, even if she was an squishy human in a dragon’s skin. He knew she would be happier this way.
Shelby was happy to be rid of the girl, but tried not to show it so she wouldn’t upset him.
“It wouldn’t have worked out anyway,” Sirius said, arrogantly, as the two left for home. “Heroes may prefer spoiled princesses, but dragons sure don’t.”

Tell me what you think of my story. Do you think it would make a good children's story? Or cartoon? I'm getting ready to add more depth to the characters. I will let you know when I do. I hope you enjoy it, happy reading!

Best Wishes,
Melody Jackson