Fred Thread 2

Chatterbox: Crowd Sorcery

Fred Thread 2

Fred Thread 2

For me, fantasy writing is closely connected to the natural world. Although a fantasy may involve imaginary creatures, magical objects, and unusual landscapes, yet certain aspects of good stories come straight from real life. I suspect you know what I mean. When you're outdoors on a summer evening, doesn't the world seem enchanted, as if anything might happen? Do you sometimes see a story idea in the way sunlight strikes a tree, making the leaves glow green and golden, and casting deep, cool, purple shade beneath? In fact, it's these details that help the story come alive for the reader. If we can hear the whisper of the leaves or feel the sunlight baking us through our scratchy shirts, then it's easier to believe that the whole forest is on an island floating in the air, or that a unicorn is standing beside us.
I was thinking today about how the interaction of nature and human structures—like the abandoned road in the previous thread—can lead us into fantasy stories. I remember the old barn I used to play in when I was a kid. One wall of it was covered by leafy Virginia creeper vines, so from that side it looked more like a hill than a barn. Some of the old, weathered trapdoors were crisscrossed and sealed shut by the vines. Nature seemed to want them shut; to us kids, they seemed too sacred to open. Yet there were hatchways among the leaves, doorways into an inner world of wooden beams, passageways leading, perhaps, into the world of Faery.
On this thread, I invite you to write a sentence or two about something very real—a detail you've actually seen—where nature is interacting with something people have built. This is an important aspect of fantasy story writing, because believe me, these images provide just as much of the story's "fire" and "zing" as the three-headed giants and flowers that shine like lanterns. Tell us about snow on a fence post, about tree roots that squeeze a brick foundation, about water trickling from the crack in a stone wall. . . .
Here's my example: Forty or fifty years ago, someone had carried a broken gate from the fence and leaned it here against the young maples. As the trees grew, they absorbed it, and now its planks and rusted bars were half-buried in the trunks, forming a strong, enchanted wall behind the garden.
submitted by Fred Durbin, Ukraine
(May 9, 2014 - 2:21 pm)

The vines twisted and wove their way up the old rusted gate.  In later years the gardener would have cut them. But now the gate is old and forgotten.


submitted by John F.Q., age 11, PARADOX GET ME OUT!!
(May 9, 2014 - 6:12 pm)

The book lay intertwined with the vines of the grapes, and stayed there. It got wet, it got dried out, but the book still stayed there.

submitted by S.E.
(May 9, 2014 - 8:54 pm)

I love these Fred Threads!

The old man had the cane specially made for him. The cane was made out of the finest oak wood, and the top of it was carved into an intricate snake. The old man lay down the cane one day in some thistle bushes so nobody else would touch it, but never came back for it. The thistles grew over it, and the cane was lost forever.

Sorry, I can't write short :) 

submitted by Katie M, age 11, Chelsea, MI
(May 10, 2014 - 12:42 pm)

That's so cool! It leaves me hanging! Laughing

submitted by Clara, age 12, California
(July 2, 2014 - 6:50 pm)

You may not notice it at first, but the rusty iron girder was the cause of the two tree branches growing into a heart shape. Over many years, several couples have sat by the pond and admired the miracle of the natural heart, not one of them noticing the rusty girder.

submitted by Alexandra S., age 14, Planet Earth
(May 10, 2014 - 5:37 pm)

No one knew how the bridge had ended up in the field.

Over the years, the metal monstrosity had turned green with rust and vines, which secured its connection to the earth. And then, one day, the bridge disappeared from its aboveground grave. Even the signs of its presence, the flattened soil upon which it had rested, eventually faded as time passed.

No one knew where the bridge had gone.

(Hm. I hope this is acceptable, I believe I may have gone into purple prose... Oh well, anything is better than my usual dialogue-heavy style of writing.) 

submitted by Elise L., age 14, WA
(May 10, 2014 - 9:44 pm)

These are wonderful! You are all doing a great job so far! It's excellent how you're taking these human-made objects overgrown in nature and connecting them to questions, to feelings, to mysteries, to possible stories -- yes! That's the spirit!

Remember, you're not limited to vines and trees growing over things. You can write about well-worn paths that are still used . . . puddles of water in chipped porches . . . abandoned toys or tools . . . This is a great time to write about ruins. Where I used to live in Pittsburgh, I found a tower that had been left alone for so long that a forest of trees and bushes was growing on its roof! I also thought Pittsburgh was fascinating because it has city stairways winding up and down steep, wooded hillsides. Many of the stairs are no longer used. Old fences, flowers growing on forgotten plows, grassy mounds where maybe a foundation used to be . . . what things have you seen like these that may whisper to us about their stories?

submitted by Fred D., Ukraine
(May 12, 2014 - 2:28 am)

In the crook of a small scrubby evergreen, where no one had noticed it since it had been placed there by a weatherbeaten hand, an iron horseshoe had sat, slowly rusting over. It wasn't noticed, not even by the birds that nested in the tree's boughs. It just sat there and watched the world go by. And the tree gradually grew larger and larger, and its branches soon blocked the horseshoe from sight. One day a young girl crawled in beneath the tree's spreading branches, and the hint of red rust caught her eye among the greeny-blue of the tree's needles and the pale brown of the peeling bark. She crept up to the old half-circle of metal and touched it. She smiled quietly to herself, seeing that the horseshoe was stuck with the open end up -- for luck -- and went away.

submitted by CaptainRead
(May 12, 2014 - 7:29 pm)

As they looked out into the distance from the top of the tree, the lake sparkled painfully in the sunlight.  She shaded her eyes and scrutinized the lake in all it's piercing brightness.  She started backwards as she saw the tower, a single minaret reaching out of the water.  Algae and barnacles were encroaching from the bottom, while what looked like a decorative plant gone out of control snaked it's way down to rest on the surface of the lake.  "I think we've found the place." She said in awe.

Okay, so maybe I didn't actually see that, but still.

submitted by Gollum
(May 13, 2014 - 3:11 pm)

That's fine, Gollum! This is outstanding! And that goes for all of you so far! Even if you haven't seen it exactly, but if it's so vivid in your mind's eye that it FEELS like you've seen it, go for it! Write it!

submitted by Fred D., Kiev, Ukraine
(May 13, 2014 - 4:54 pm)

That's awesome, Gollum.

submitted by Madeline T., age 13
(July 6, 2014 - 8:28 pm)

At one side of the huge, busy road, there was a small, broken staircase. It had been built when the busy road was just a small street, but had soon been forgotten and shunned. It's still there, though. The railing on one side is covered in vines, and the other one has become part of a tree. The steps are cracked, worn-down, and covered in moss and ivy. No one uses those stairs anymore, but if you have the courage to walk down those dirty, vine-infested steps, who knows what you might find...


Sir Captcha says mweh. Is that an indifferent remark or do you want someone to give you a kiss? 

submitted by Gadzooks, 42 Wayward Crescent
(May 14, 2014 - 1:03 pm)

I take a
photo of the table out on the deck.  I don't know why; I just felt
compelled to.  B-words come to mind: barren, boring, bereft.  Then,
out of nowhere, he alights on the table.  A male downy woodpecker, a tiny
thing, with the cutest red cap you ever did see.  And it's like the table,
the deck, the whole world-- they were in the dark, they weren't fully
alive.  Not 'till he came.  I resist the temptation to whip
out my camera and take another photograph.  This is a moment that can only
truly be documented in one's heart.  A camera would spoil it.  But if
I did take another picture, I know what words would come to mind-- A-words. 
Alive, amazing, and... and... awesome.  The true sense of the word
awesome, that is.  Not the one everybody uses nowaday, meaning
"cool", but really awesome.  Awe-some.  Full of awe. 


I'm sorry;
I know that was waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too long.  I just felt really

submitted by Bounty, age 12, Crowd Sorcery
(May 16, 2014 - 6:27 pm)

Hyssop led the way, with Jerboa, Spray, and Elk trailing behind. Her companions were being increasingly difficult, what with Elk trying to convince her to turn back and Jerboa racing around in circles until one of his talons sank in a mudhole, but Hyssop didn't care. She could see their destination, not five minutes' walk in front of them: the old human mill. It had been abandoned for years, since the Foenian skirmish with the Aquans, but it still stood, charred and crumbling. As they approached the half-collapsed structure, more details became apparent. The walls of the mill had once been red brick, and its small chimney gray stones from the riverbank. However, the Foenian fire had consumed all wooden structures and blackened the bricks. Part of the ceiling had caved in, leaving a gaping hole through which the darkening sky and several small birds' nests were visible. The river had changed course somewhere upstream and now flowed straight underneath one side of the mill's foundation. The waterwheel had somehow escaped destruction, so it leaned, rotting and black with bacterial slime, against the side of the mill, the mechanisms that held it up having long been turned to ash. The whole place looked like the slightest gust of wind from the wrong direction would topple it straight into the river. Hyssop glanced over at Spray just in time to see her give a little shiver, as she always did at the thought that humans could make such detailed work on such a small scale. Why didn't they just leave building and ruling and things like that to the dragons?


submitted by A Crowd Sorcerer, age 13, New Hampshire
(May 18, 2014 - 12:09 pm)

It interconnected with the mountain, weaving in and out, matching it curve for curve. Like a snake blends with the leaves, the road blended with the mountain, looking as if it had sprouted from the mountain itself.

submitted by Blonde Heroines Rule, age ageless, A forgotten road
(May 18, 2014 - 8:11 pm)