I've always loved reading, and I've been interested in writing for as long as I can remember. I used to draw stories and tell my parents what to write down. In school, I loved projects that involved making up characters and telling a story. In elementary school, a friend and I wrote short stories for each other and kept them in identical duotangs we labelled "Stories".
I had plenty of ideas over the years, until finally self-publishing Without a King in 2018. Some of these ideas had promise and maybe one day I'll revisit them, whereas some of the ideas were just silly and strange. Either way, they'll be interesting to revisit - the plots, the scenes, the characters who morphed into other characters - my shelved stories. This series of blog posts will highlight some of these stories.
The moment I started to take writing more seriously was in grade 7. My friend Priya and I decided we would start writing a book together. We kept it on a clipboard which we passed back and forth during class, each writing a paragraph or a page until we had run out of ideas. This method, of course, lead to a book that didn't flow very well. And it wasn't very well written, either. When we finished the book we thought it was super long, but when we looked back on it years later we realized it was only about 60 pages long (and the font was enormous).
The book was called "Captured", and it was about three friends who got captured by a crew of pirates. The main characters were Koen, Jacinta and Carreen (who was originally named Dakota), and the bad guys were Captain Bones, his younger brother Calix (who sort of became a good guy?) and his first mate Erik (along with plenty of other pirates). This book was where I started my trend of having left handed characters (Koen) and a set of twins (Anthony and Theodore, two other prisoners). I actually did a really good job including those two things until The Memory of Simon Battle.
We planned out a four book series, called Captured, Betrayed, Escape and Revenge. I distinctly remember sitting one recess and working out a very loose plot for each book. We even wanted each book to contain chapters with each of those four titles.
We only ever got as far as halfway through writing Betrayed. We also never gave the series a name, and continued to call it CBER. Although, I did at one point think "Here There Be Pirates" would be a good series title!
Essentially, this was the plot. Carreen and Jacinta were travelling to a friend's wedding, and went with Carreen's cousin Koen, a sailor. Their ship sunk in a storm, and the three of them washed up on an island owned by the pirates of the "Ocean's Trident". They were captured by the pirates. They become slaves/servants and befriend another pair of prisoners, Tricia and her young brother Anthony (they later learn that Anthony had a twin brother, Theodore, who was killed when the pair tried to escape - or was he? We never fully decided if he would reappear or not). Jacinta ends up marrying Calix, the captain's younger brother. Koen ends up working for the first mate, Erik. At the end of the first book, the island is attacked by the navy and the pirates are all captured. But Jac, who is now actually in love with Calix, frees them. The pirates then recaptured Koen, Carreen, Trisha and Anthony who had been living together. Some things happen involving other pirates, rival crews, etc. Jac then changes her mind and frees her friends. Calix is sort of a good guy, ends up living with Jac and their kids. Koen and Tricia get married. The first book had the most development, the others were just a handful of ideas.
We did quite a bit of behind the scenes work for the series. I'm pretty sure we drew a map of the pirate's island (I can't find it, so either Priya has it or it's lost forever). We had lists of characters, their ages, a little bit of their history, and for some reason which font represented their handwriting. We loosely based some side characters on friends or classmates, which is partially why we had so many characters that never amounted to anything. We did a bit of research into the history of pirates and the area the books were based, so we could make sure to have the right animals and food, but we didn't put any thought into the names of the characters or the way they spoke or acted.
Captured was a learning experience and it contains one of my all time favourite passages. The best part is, since the original handwritten version is gone, I have no idea if Priya or I wrote this! What a great example of what not to do - and also evidence that I've improved (maybe, if I'm the one who wrote it).
Captured wasn't very good, and we knew that, so we started to rewrite it in highschool. Unfortunately that time we only got a couple of chapters in. I seem to have started rewriting the prologue at a Montana's (the ripped brown paper is a clue!). This was when Carreen's name changed. As well as the few chapters, we also wrote a handful of scenes that would take place later in the series. We just sort of wrote as we had ideas, which is probably partially why this draft never actually got very far. Although, this version did flow better.
But there were still problems. The biggest one is that we had trouble keeping the characters consistent. We each created certain characters - for the main protagonists and antagonists, I created Koen, Carreen, and Erik. Priya created Jacinta and Calix. The problem was that I was good at writing scenes with only my characters, and she was good at writing scenes with only hers. But when our characters interacted, and I had to write dialogue for Jacinta, or she had to write it for Koen, things didn't work so well. We each had unique voices for description and dialogue. In my words, Jacinta didn't act right. In hers, Koen spoke oddly. It was a problem we never quite figured out how to solve. One way we ended up trying was simply having our characters mostly interact with our own characters. Which lead to Jacinta and Calix having a vastly different storyline than what was going on with Koen and Erik - with few interactions.
In any case, Captured was a lot of fun to work on, and we really did put our hearts and souls into it. Maybe, with a lot of work, it could someday be a little pet project for us to get back into! (Although, if we did ever have time to write together, our next big project, "The Fantasy Story" would probably be a better bet!)
Here's an excerpt from chapter 3, titled "Captured", when Koen and Carreen meet the pirates. I know I wrote this scene, because as I just explained, those characters were mine! Written in 2007.
“What?” Carr whispered.
“Shh…” Koen clamped his hand over her mouth, “Come on.” He pulled her back through some ferns and behind another thick tree trunk.
“We’re close now, Cap’n, its around these parts I see the ghosts!” whimpered a voice.
“What are you shuddering about, Stuart?”
“Thee ghosts, sir, I saw ‘em under the full moon! I’m scared, Cap’n, didn’t ever like ghosts, sir, they’re bad luck, they are.” said the first voice, Stuart.
The sound of footsteps walked over to the base of the large tree. Koen carefully glanced around the tree they had hid behind. Three men stood at the trunk of the large tree, facing towards the beach. One of them, probably the captain, was dressed in a long red coat, dark baggy pants and black boots. He had three gold rings on his left hand. His black hair was tied back, and hung down to below his shoulders. He had a short black beard. A worn three-pointed black hat covered his head. A long slightly curved sword hung in a sheath attached to his belt on his left. A pistol hung in a holster on his right. Beside it was hung a compass.
The other man who had spoken, Stuart, stood beside the captain, motioning down the beach with his hand. Down the beach towards their shelter, Koen realized. He had on a hat similar to the captain’s, a loose sleeveless shirt that used to be white, but was now a yellow colour, pants and boots the same as the captain, though more worn. He had a tattoo on his right shoulder, depicting a trident rising out of the water. He also had a sword attached to his belt, but no pistol.
The third man was leaning against the tree which contained the look out. Unlike his companions, he was not wearing a hat. A dark red bandana covered his short brown hair. He had a white shirt much like Stuart’s, though it was whiter and had baggy sleeves. He had a dark red cloth wound around his left wrist and around his hand, except for his fingers and thumb. Possibly covering a wound of some sort. Like the captain, he had three rings on his left hand. His pants and boots were almost identical to those of the captain. He had a sword swinging from his left and a pistol on his right.
“Cap’n, this is pointless.” The third man muttered, “Stuart’s eyes are playin’ tricks on him, that’s all.”
“Erik, have faith in your crew members.” The captain said.
“Aye Sir…” Erik muttered. “Should I go up and check the lookout, Cap’n? If that’s where Stuart saw the… ghosts.”
“I didn’t see ‘em up there. I saw ‘em down the beach, three of ‘em, walkin’ ‘long the forest line.” Stuart argued, “Then I see that body down by the water, and I checked on it, Cap’n, to make sure it was really dead, and the next day it’s gone, like it got up and walked away!”
“Or the ocean pulled it out again…” Erik muttered.
The captain glanced at him, warning him to be quiet, though it was clear he thought the same thing.
“It did not Erik,” Stuart argued, “It-“ he cut himself off as a faint crackle was heard in the forest behind them, “It’s ‘em…” he said fearfully.
“Damn it Stuart,” Erik stood up straight and pulled out his pistol, “It was the damn jaguar, that’s all. Mind if I get it now, Cap’n?”
Koen ducked behind the tree again as Erik turned toward it. It hadn’t been a jaguar, he knew that. He had made the sound, and they had to get away. “Go,” he mouthed.
Carr started to quietly make her way through the thick ferns. Koen was watching her, not the pirates, and he didn’t notice Erik come around the tree.