Don’t Rush It – Nanowrimo Week 1on November 6, 2011 at 1:53 am
I’m doing the Nanowrimo challenge this month (because I’m a crazy person) mostly because I’ve had this idea for a great comic and wanted to incentive to get it written. It’s very different from Even in Arcadia in that it’s not speculative fiction at all. The script is about University students, one of which who has a passion for being a professional Starcraft 2 player.
Each week I thought I would post my writing to see what people think. I would really like some serious feedback, but not on the prose. Let me explain what I mean: because this is going to be a comic, the quality of the prose is irrelevant, I’m looking more for feedback on the characters, scenes, dialogue and general feel of the story. I’m not writing it as a traditional comic script, so the final comic may differ quite a bit from what I’m writing now.
On Saturday nights I’ll make a new update. I’m posting to my blog across three sites (Epidigm.net, the Atheneum and the Even in Arcadia mainpage), but I will see the comments no matter where you make them. The post on the Atheneum will be open for the public, so you don’t have to worry about donating.
The working title for the story is Don’t Rush It. I may or may not change this in the future!
Special Note: While this story is written as prose, it’s intended to become a comic in the near future. Thus there may be some unnatural attention paid to setting description, composition, camera angles and/or character descriptions.
He never slept well after he’d been drinking. With parched mouth and head swimming, Ryan couldn’t help but toss in his sheets until his alarm sounded his need to depart for class. After a cup of coffee and a dry piece of toast (less for his hunger, and more for absorbing leftover alcohol in his stomach), he was trying to keep himself from dozing as a professor was imparting the historical importance of Adam Smith.
By all rights he shouldn’t be hungover in History of Economics, it was a completely unintentional product of his relative inexperience in refusing his pushy dormmates. When it came down to it, drinking and messing up at Settlers of Catan had more allure than any textbook ever written. Ryan closed his eyes for a moment reflecting on how truly dull Adam Smith actually was.
Just as Ryan felt the realisation of his terrible mistake, that moment of panic when you understand that you’ve not just closed your eyes, but are also potentially drooling on your shirt, he felt someone brush against him. The girl who had unobtrusively sat next to him, and of whom he hadn’t made note of before, was leaning forward and scratching something on his note paper.
Do you believe in the Invisible Hand of the Market?
Ryan paused, blinking rather rapidly at the fluid script. Was that what the professor was discussing now? Had he missed something important in his dozing? What could he really say? He glanced over at the writer briefly, trying not to be too obvious. She was awfully pretty, with straight brown hair casually pulled back from her soft face and round, dark eyes. She was especially pretty smiling at him in the way that she was, coy and almost mischeivous. If only his head didn’t feel like it was filled with cotton, making his wits slow. Not that he was particularly witty when talking with pretty strangers, as he was know more often than not to bumble at his shoes while the girls mockingly grinned and made excuses to be elsewhere. His neighbour would have none of his silence, apparently, as she nudged him gently to urge his response.
No. Not really.
What a terrible answer, he thought after his pen left the page. Really, could he have been more uninteresting? A flair of defiance welled up in Ryan as he recognized his self consciousness. No, he thought, it was a ridiculous question. What was she playing at?
Ryan’s defiance died as she smiled wider and leaned forward to scrawl again, faster and more enthusiastically this time.
Good. I would hate to be sitting next to a crazy conservative.
She even put a little smiley face at the end, a small mark that seemed to be in on the joke. If there was a joke. If only Ryan’s head would straighten itself out, then he might be able to decipher if this girl was flirting with him, mocking him, or just a weirdo. The girl had already turned back to her notes and left Ryan to his almost dumbfounded appearance. He rubbed his eyes hard with his fists, allowing little stars to pop behind his eyelids. The pressure felt good, like it was waking his brain from a hazy dream. At this point he had given up on anything to do with Adam Smith and made the resolute decision to add the lecture notes to his growing pile of readings.
The lineup for coffee in between classes was always snake like, as most university students subsisted on regular doses of caffeine. This particular coffee bar was located in a busy corner of the main academic building, breaking up the drab concrete architecture with polished wood and soft display lights over European inspired menus boards. You could smell the roasted coffee beans and scalded milk before you turned to corner to find the place, and it was the smell Ryan always associated with his morning classes. Round tables and straight wood backed chairs were at one point pleasantly arranged around the ares before the students came to frequent them, moving the setup in any way they deemed necessary and covering them in piles of books and paper. Chairs and tables were a strictly limited commodity in a space where everyone needs at least three regular spots to fit their study materials, and the coffee bar was no exception. Ryan had already given up the idea of sitting and gathering himself, and while his rolling stomach would embrace a comfortable chair and a moment of relaxation, his cup of caffeine would have to do.
As Ryan was paying for his bitterly dark coffee loaded with a little too much sugar, a familiar impish grin peered out at him from over a stack of colour coded notes and haphazardly opened textbooks. His friend Lawrence was Chinese with a toothy smile, unsurprisingly straight black hair and a broad face. Much like the other anti-social university jerkwads, Lawrence had apparently determined that his book bag was worthy of it’s own chair.
“I’m assuming this is the chair you’re saving for me.” Ryan wryly smiled as he dumped the book bag unceremoniously to the floor.
“Well, you’re a two beer kind of guy who’s utterly predictable when hung over.” Lawrence replied, not looking up from his obsessive hightlighting.
“And this, ” Ryan gestured to the books and papers spread before him, “must simply be an elaborate ruse to not look like a creepy stalker.”
“Of course. First midterms are no match for a straight up genius like me.”
Ryan gave Lawrence a doubtful grunt and sipped the hot, frothy drink he so craved. Without putting much thought into the idea, he found himself also organising notes and leafing through his economics history textbook to the chapter on Adam Smith’s free market economics. From the corner of his eye he spotted a soft face framed with brown hair. He paused suddenly.
“Lawrence,” he nudged his studymate, “you see that girl over there? With the ponytail and the red sweater?”
Lawrence glanced up for half a second and returned to his highlighting, “Yeah, she’s pretty hot.”
“No, look,” Ryan pushes his class notes from that morning under Lawrence’s nose, “She’s in my econ class. She randomly wrote this to me.”
The toothy, teasing grin returned to his friend’s face as he skimmed the written exchange. He cocked an eyebrow as he looked back up at Ryan.
“You really should go and talk to her. She hates crazy right wingers, she’s clearly your soulmate.”
“Always with the joke, Ryan mocked impertinently as his snatched the notebook back.
“Yeah, well, I’m pretty sure she just recongnized you, Rye.”
“That’s her, right?” Lawrence pointed in the direction of the line with his highlighter, “She’s coming over.”
By the time Ryan had swivelled around in his chair, the presumptuous girl from History of Economics was already standing over him. Her downward glance gave her an innocent and childlike look, wtih two saucer round eyes and almost perfectly straight teeth.
“I, uh, sit next to you in Econ 104, ” she started in a high voice, as if she were speaking an octave higher than her normal voice, “I, uh, don’t know your name.”
“Ryan!” he said almost instantly in return.
An awkward moment of silence followed. Was that really supposed to be an introduction? Ryan was used to the humiliation following his normally blundering conversations with the opposite sex, but this time he felt a tinge of pity for this girl’s hasty and unplanned greeting. If he were a more sophisticated person, perhaps Ryan could have saved her from the red embarassment creeping into her cheeks.
“I’m Lawrence, ” the broadfaced bookworm interjected, barely looking up from his work.
Ryan guessed that the exchange had put her off as her smile vanished. She quickly looked down to the travel cup in her hands. He knew that move, the feeling that if you avoid eye contact perhaps the situation will sort itself out. The problem was that usually you need someone more apt at social interactions to pick up the slack, and neither Lawrence or Ryan could claim that title.
“Oh wow,” she practically whispered, “Uh, I didn’t sound so rude in my head, sorry about that.” Her smile returned again, but couldn’t manage to reach her eyes, “I’m Vivian.”
She hesitated, not looking directly at either of them, “I, uh, have to go. See you around.”
Without so much as a quick step, she managed to get away as if running for her life. Lawrence had abandoned his study materials to watch her go.
“She’s cute.” Ryan put in, almost dreading his friend’s next quip.
“I was wrong about the joke earlier, she is actually your straight up soul mate.”
The dorms were like a social experiment gone awry. Cram as many kids between the ages of 18 and 21 together in too little space with shared facilities and archaic rules and watch what happens. Little did the experimenters know that their subjects were willing to brutally destory them and live as though it were a scene from Lord of the Flies with more alcohol and less severed pig heads. Or at least that’s how Ryan felt on a good day. On a bad day, it was more like a post apocalyptic wasteland.
With the pounding in his head and the exhaustion in his bones, Ryan knew it was getting to be a bad day.
He had already given up on his other classes as a waste of his potential sleep time and found himself under a mound of blankets with some Chopin keying softly through his headphones. He had started listening to music to go to sleep when he first moved into the dorms, mostly to drown out the late night conversations between neighbours. They weren’t being particularly loud, but Ryan had always been a light sleeper and great avoider of confrontations. Now, the music was comforting even when his floor was almost empty, and he had become accustomed to half listening to a melody as he slowly drifted off to sleep.
This nap was rather excellent and left a refreshed Ryan craving something with copious amounts of salt and fat. The light was fading in the evening sky when he had showered and dressed, greeting some of his dormmates as they returned from their day of classes. He found Lawrence in the common space, snapping down cards of colourful spells against a soft marshmellow looking second year resident. Perched on the edge of a worn and dirty looking sofa, he played the final move from his over powered combo deck to defeat his opponent. Lawrence sat back, clearly pleased with himself, as the marshmellow boy picked up the card for closer inspection. He was clearly not happy with what he read, as he pushed the card back across the table and began stacking up his own deck.
“Are we playing Magic tonight?” Ryan asked, sitting next to Lawrence.
The common room was old and well worn. Couches and chairs that had probably seen generations of students pass through the room lined the mental hospital white walls. Wide, unopenable windows were along one wall, facing out towards the university parkade and forest beyond. It wasn’t necessarily a cozy room, it gave Ryan the feeling that he ought to be meeting with a psychiatrist, but it was good enough for games and drinking on occassion. He was a little sick of it from the night previous, and hoped that Lawrence and the Marshmellow would be into leaving the dingy premises.
“Dinner.” Lawrence replied curtly, carefully slipping his protected cards into their little plastic case, “Then pub night.”
“Again?” Ryan rolled his eyes. Pub night happened every Thursday at the University Pub. It was terrible service and over crowded, but the beer was cheap and it was a good place for most people to meet new people.
“I need to put in my face time with the ladies.” Lawrence insisted, perhaps a little less sarcastically than he intended. He motioned to the Marshmellow and the three left the room.
All residents of the undergrad towers were required to buy food cards for the semester, so often they ended up eating in the terrible cafeterias run by some big conglomerate. While normally Ryan would cringe at the palid chicken burgers and wilting lettuce, the food service boasted a great deal of salty fried foods that he desperately wanted. The boys ate quickly, drinking down pop and discussing the different cards in the new Magic: The Gathering prerelease that they had found on the internet. Both Lawrence and the Marshmellow were fond of trying to best each other at the largest Magic nerd and largely ignored Ryan’s quips and ridiculous questions. Ryan enjoyed a game now and then, but he much preferred coming up with his own games to getting all fanboy on such and such new expansion to an already existing game. Unless it came packaged with a new and interesting game mechanic, his eyes usually started to glaze after a time.
Ryan briefly contemplated his participation in this evening’s plans, as he was already feeling a little thin from the previous night. He was awkward and difficult to talk to as it was, and in a large crowd in the pub it was almost impossible for him to socialize. He was insulated a bit from his own humiliation by the loud music and relative chance that the person he was talking to wouldn’t hear what he was saying, but only so much. Sometimes the music transitioned at just the right moment to highlight something particularly inane he was saying, much like a terrible movie trope that could only happen to a person such as himself.