Posted in The Street Crawlers

The Street Crawlers: The Children of Hell

Sammy whistled cheerfully as she walked around her room, grabbing a mug from her bedside table and dancing around her bed to the drawers on the other side. She pulled out her phone and smiled at her reflection, moving her lips this way and that and looking at her teeth closely. She groaned and rubbed her middle finger over the top row, rubbing away the piece of toothpaste stuck to it. She blew a kiss to herself and slipped her phone into her pocket.

            A slow knock came on her bedroom door. She danced over to it and pulled it open. Her friends, Daisy and Ant, waved to her and she waved back, coming out into their shared living room as she did. They both joined in the whistle and all three of them danced into the kitchen where Sammy put her mug into the sink. Ant came from behind and slipped her coat onto her shoulders. She pulled her arms into the sleeves.

            Daisy was doing a foxtrot around the kitchen table and grinning to herself like a Cheshire cat. Sammy laughed and joined her. Ant danced over to the front door of the flat and tugged on the handle, smiling and tilting his head to the left. The girls followed him out of the door, still dancing.

            A large bustle was happening outside. People were running to-and-fro, shouting loudly into walkie-talkies and screaming at anyone they passed, ‘emergency, emergency’. Sammy looked around and frowned. She’d stopped whistling.

            “Emergency, emergency,” she said as she ran down the corridor in front of her. Ant and Daisy had run off down separate corridors. She headed down the metallic stairwell in front of her and down to the main control room. The closer she got to the hub of the station the more people she saw flying around in a wild panic. They didn’t know what to do. They didn’t know what to do.

            Sammy pushed herself through the crowd and headed to a large raised area in the middle. A balding, middle-aged man stood on top barking orders at the frantic hordes around him.

            “Move them to Sector A,” he yelled. “Get them out of Sector GI now! That’s an order, get them out now! We can’t afford to lose any more people.”

            “How’s it looking, Dad?” she asked. Her father turned around and saw her. He was red in the face and sweat was dripping down his cheeks.

            “Ah, good, you’re okay,” he said, giving her a hug. “I thought you’d gone to the dogs or something.”

            “I’m fine.” She looked up at the large computer screens hanging on the walls. “What’s happened?” There was live film footage showing the hubbub she’d just seen in the corridors. She could see Daisy who’d now joined up with her co-workers in the Artillery division.

            “An escapee,” her father said. “From Sector 6F. They’re causing all kinds of trouble for our systems, turning off lights, computers and cameras everywhere.”  

            She nodded. More and more screens and cameras were going dead by the second.

            “Is there anything I can do?” she asked whilst her father barked out more orders to the men below.

            “If you really want to help you’ll go to your sector,” he told her.

She frowned and tugged on his jacket sleeve. “Can’t I help you with something? Surely you need someone to check on things down in 6F?”

            “No! Nobody’s to go in there, let alone my girl.” He looked down at her stubborn little face. She reminded him of his little sister, her Aunt, when she was in a mood. “Just go to your sector, Sammy.”

            She grumbled and watched as he walked away from her and down to the floor below. He hardly ever trusted her to do anything. Her brother Danny ran up the stairs to the podium and took her by the arm.

            “Come on, let’s go,” he said, pulling her along with him. They ran down the corridor and pushed through the swarms of workers buzzing through the halls. They ran and ran and ran. Amber lights flashed, sirens sounded, red lights flashed, the sirens were switched off. It was all just one big game of Operation.

            They came to a large metal door and Danny pressed on a panel by the side.

Sammy looked around, confused. “Wait, where are we?”

Danny didn’t say anything.

She tugged on his sleeve. “Danny, this isn’t my sector,” she said, worriedly. The door slid open. She’d never heard a door open so quietly before.

            She looked inside and saw an empty space with a bed and a few tins of food laid next to a bucket. 

            “Danny, this isn’t my sector.” She was getting annoyed by his silence.  He wouldn’t even look at her. “Danny, this is ridiculous. We don’t have time.” She turned to leave and Danny grabbed her wrist. She wiggled, trying to get out of his grip. Her brother wasn’t usually so fierce, she couldn’t understand it. With one quick move he flung her inside. She toppled backwards and fell onto the floor.

            “Da…” she said, in surprise but she didn’t get enough time to finish. He shut the door on her, turning the locks and shutting her inside. Sammy began to panic and ran forward, slamming her full weight against the door. It wouldn’t budge. She yelled out but nobody could hear her. Danny had run off down the corridor, giving the express command not to go anywhere near where he’d put his sister to anyone he passed. They all obediently followed his orders.

            The alarms were still going but Sammy couldn’t hear them anymore. Just as nobody outside could hear her from inside the room, she couldn’t hear anything from the outside either. She was all alone. She was all alone and she was annoyed. Her father had done this to her. Her father had locked her up like she was a child that needed to be protected. But she wasn’t a child anymore. She could look after herself.

            “I have to get to my sector,” she screamed. “I need to get to my sector. Danny, let me out!” When nobody came after fifteen minutes of screaming, and her voice hoarse, she gave up. She groaned and slid onto the ground. It wasn’t like she couldn’t have helped. She’d practically been raised on the company’s rules and procedures. When other children had been learning how to walk she’d been running drills in the gym. By the age of six she was better with a weapon than most experienced soldiers. It was stupid that she should be locked up.

            She looked over at the tins of food. There was barely enough to suit Ant’s appetite, let alone Sammy’s. She figured, by her trained reasoning, that it would last perhaps two days, three at most. And if they did expect her to stay any longer then they could rethink their plans. There was no way she was staying in here, starving herself to death.

            “This is ridiculous,” she croaked, her throat still sore from her yelling. She stretched and rolled into a ball, stuffing herself in a corner and burying her face in her legs. “I should be out there, not in here.”

            “You and me both,” said a voice not far off.

Sammy sat up straight, startled. She put her hands down on the floor to hold herself steady. “Who said that?” she asked, looking around the room. No, it was definitely empty.

            “Oh, sorry,” the voice said. “I forgot about this thing.” A light was switched on and the far wall suddenly showed another room just like hers. There was a young boy stood inside and he waved at her cheerfully.

            “Hi,” he said. “I’m Graham.”

            Sammy stood up and brushed the wrinkles off her trousers. She touched the wall Graham was looking through and swept her hands across the glass. The strange thing was—it didn’t feel like glass.

            “It’s a new material,” Graham said, smiling at her. He had glasses perched on the end of his nose. He pushed them up to sit on the bridge, near his amber eyes. “They’ve been working on it in the labs for a while now. It’s a good thing they finished it, isn’t it? Otherwise we wouldn’t be here.”

            “Good for you, maybe. I should be out there,” she grumbled, still wiping her hand over the mysterious material.

            “So should I,” Graham admitted. “I’m supposed to be working on a new software with my friends, but here I am.” He shrugged and pulled a face. “Sometimes things happen.”

            “Yes, well, they shouldn’t.” Sammy hadn’t liked the face he’d pulled. She didn’t know whether she liked this boy or not. “At least they shouldn’t for people my age. I’m old enough to be looking after myself.”

            “Apparently not, otherwise you wouldn’t feel so bad about having to take care of yourself in here.”

She glared at the younger boy but he didn’t mind. His smile stayed on his face, looking like it couldn’t be removed no matter what anyone did. “You could consider this an opportunity to prove yourself right. Prove you can look after yourself then next time they might believe you.”

            “And why should I listen to a little boy?” she asked.

            “I’m not a little boy,” he said, indignantly. “I’m already into my teens, same as you. I’m just short for my age, that’s all.” He seemed embarrassed by his height and tugged on his shirt, trying to pull it lower.

            “Incredibly short,” she said, but she stopped herself before she said any of the crueller thoughts she was having. “Anyway, how’d you know I was a teenager?”

            Graham grinned and pushed his glasses back up. They’d fallen down again. “My mum’s in charge of the computer labs, with all the records and data stored on them.” He paused and looked her up and down. “You look a bit different from your I.D. Photo. I thought you were taller.”

            “Hey,” she said, “I’m plenty tall, believe you and me, shortie.” She laughed and he joined in with her.

            “I’m sorry,” he said. “I just don’t know much about anybody off the computer. Other than my friends I barely see anyone.”

            Sammy looked into his sad eyes and pitied him. She knew how it felt to live like that. Even when she’d been training as a child the gym had always been empty. “You have friends then?” she asked.

Graham nodded. “Bobby and Gwen, yes. They’re parents work here too.” He took a crumpled photo from his pocket and pushed it against the see-through wall. A cheeky brown-haired boy and blonde-Barbie girl stared back at her. 

            “They look nice,” she said.

            “They are.” He tucked the photo back into his pocket again. “I suppose they’ll be locked up in one of the other safe-rooms right now. They’re probably playing all sorts of games.” He sighed and blushed when he saw Sammy staring. “I don’t have a very big imagination,” he said, and he pushed his glasses again. They hadn’t fallen down but he sometimes did this when he felt embarrassed.

            “Well, you’re lucky, at least,” Sammy said. She moved over to the bed and sat down. “I didn’t have friends when I was your age—and I didn’t have an imagination either.”

            “Really?” Graham had sat down on his bed too. They couldn’t see each other anymore but they could still hear each other.

            “Yeah,” Sammy said. Graham could hear the sadness in her voice as it shook. She zoned off for a few seconds, thinking back to her childhood. “I suppose that’s why I’m so happy when I’m around Ant and Daisy. They keep me interested. I never was when I was a kid.”

            “I’d be the same,” Graham said. Silence fell for a few minutes. Neither knew what to say to each other and both had disappeared into their minds to consider their pairs of friends.

            “I’m sorry for not speaking, by the way,” Graham said through the silence. “I didn’t know what to say.”

            “It’s okay,” Sammy said, with a yawn. “I needed time to rant to myself anyway. I’m just sorry you had to listen to it.” She looked at the ceiling with a puzzled expression. “Hey,” she said, attracting Graham’s attention, “what do you think’s happening out there right now?”

            “I don’t know,” he said. “Something exciting.”

            “Yes.” She turned over and rested her head on her hands. “Something exciting.”

A Short Song About The Children

If the children succeed us

Why can’t we let them succeed?

And if the children need us

Why don’t we just let them need?

And when the time comes

When they need us no more

Why don’t we let them succeed us

Whether they’re rich or they’re poor?

Posted in How to Write

The Importance of An Omniscient

Yes, I’m quoting younger me now. She was smarter than ‘now’ me, apparently.

‘There’s no ‘i’ in narrator. There’s also no ‘i’ in narrate. There’s technically an ‘i’ in narration, and two in omniscient, but we’ll ignore that for now. What’s important for you to know before we start this story is that this story belongs to you, not to me. Enjoy your time here and welcome to the School of Omniscience.’ – Copyright, ‘School Of Omniscience’, written by a younger me.

            Omniscient narrators: the most powerful tool in a writer’s arsenal. Due to their position of power, their knowledge of everything that happens in the book and their almost god-like presence they have the power to persuade your readers that everything you say is true. Everything they say is a fact. Everything they say is important to the story that they’re telling. Or at least that’s the trust and belief that your readers will give to them. Sometimes, as in the case of ‘The Hobbit’ by Tolkien, the omniscient feels somewhat untrustworthy, helping to add a feeling of un-ease to your reader. Whether you find his attempt successful or not, it’s using your omniscient to its full capabilities.

            It’s obvious how important I think an omniscient is. When I was nineteen/twenty I started writing a novel which would help people in creating their own, quoted above. When asked what I find to be the most important part of writing a novel (during writers groups, retreats or university) I would always answer ‘the narrator’. However, I didn’t ever put characters as a secondary importance as I believe, and I think at this point it’s going to be hard to dissuade me from this, that narrators are a form of character themselves. Even if they’re not a first person POV (point of view, if you’re new to this), they still have some from of personality or views that control how they tell the story.

            So instead of the usual, instead of thinking of an omniscient narrator as merely a god-like being, I want you to imagine them as an Ancient-Greek-God-Like being. What’s the difference? Okay—comparison. A Christian God, which is closer to what people believe when they think God-like being, is barely known. They’re perfect, untouched and a benevolent figure we can’t even try to comprehend. A Greek God? Think Zeus. We know his entire story. We know how many women he raped, how much he was adored as a boy, that his father ate his siblings, that he was raised by a goat. He’s hardly a mysterious figure but the Ancient Greeks still looked at him as a God. This is what you’re omniscient should be. They should be flawed, overjoyed about some things and miserable about others; like Zeus and his favourites (mainly women from everything I’ve read), your omniscient will have favourite characters (just as you’ll probably have yourself); your omniscient will have lived a full life, they’ll be a real person… and that is how you gain a reader’s interest.

Make Your Omniscient More Real.

            So, if this is that important, how do you go about it? Well, take it back to my first blog post. Design a character. Create a personality. Operate with the iceberg theory. Realise their motivations, their favourites. If it happens to tie in with your own, that’s fine, go for it. Nobody’s really going to know any difference, as long as it feels like a real person is telling the story. If you want to bring up politics, then do so. As long as your narrator has a consistent interest in politics, then it’s fine.

            My narrator’s name is Hattie. I know what she wears (tatty brown trousers with an even tattier brown top and a large white sun hat—with a piece of cloth dripping down her back to protect her neck); I know her favourite things in life (family, friends, time travel, her pet); I even know the people around her somewhat intimately (it helps that she’s also a character in one of my stories—but why shouldn’t she be? I know her intimately and with her storyline it makes sense that she could be an omniscient).

            Let your imagination run wild. Create an entire character for yourself, get to know them intimately and when you eventually find your voice you’re on your way to a great book/poem/short story/play.

Bullet Points:

  • Omniscient narrators are characters in their own right.
  • Remember, an omniscient is a god-like being who knows everything that happens.
  • Also remember that you can play with the trustworthiness of an omniscient like you can a character. If you want to put people at unease use your omniscient.
  • Take time to find your narrator voice. Every omniscient is different, opinionated and sits in a certain time period. Think political comments from Dickens, Hugo etc. Jane Austen’s omniscient is sarcastic, seething etc.
  • An Omniscient can get away with a lot more than a first person. They not only see more but can state things as fact, making your reader believe what they’re saying (this is why historical fiction is complicated to write—if you are wrong, uninformed people on the time can be persuaded that it’s correct—don’t spread false information).
  • My Omniscient is Hattie. Just as I would a character I gave her a whole backstory so that I knew her inside and out.

Still struggling? Try using this prompt to better understand omniscient narrators and their roles:

Describe the Voice

Below are quotes from famous novels etc. One at a time, take a quote and make a list of the qualities you think this voice has as a character.

For example, ‘A bear, however hard he tries, grows tubby without exercise’, by A. A. Milne: factual, grown-up but with childish imagination/speaking, funny, a father, slow speaker, fairly musical, relaxed/relaxing, calm.

‘Wherever you fly, you’ll be the best of the best. Wherever you go, you will top all the rest. Except when you don’t. Because, sometimes, you won’t. I’m sorry to say so but, sadly, it’s true that Bang-ups and Hang-ups can happen to you’—Dr. Seuss

‘I like large parties. They’re so intimate. At small parties, there isn’t any privacy’—F. Scott Fitzgerald

‘I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart: I am, I am, I am’—Sylvia Plath

‘Get busy living or get busy dying’—Stephen King

‘He’s more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same’—Emily Bronte

‘There are darknesses in life and there are lights, and you are one of the lights, the light of all lights’—Bram Stroker

‘The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid’—Jane Austen

Try doing this with other books you read and your own writing. Even a narrator, omniscient or first person, has a character and the more you know your narrator the easier it will be to keep your voice natural and well-defined.

Posted in Uncategorized

Welcome to Imagination Industries!

So, welcome to my new blog. My name is Amy, formerly known (and continuing to be known) as the Literary Onion. Only now, I’m not just the Literary Onion, food creator and book lover, but I’m also my second blog ‘Literary Scribbles’. I know, I know, I really don’t have to mention that, if you’re reading this you’re already here. You already know me as Literary Scribbles. Oh well, a little bit of context can go a long way, because we want a good relationship you and I. If you’re going to read my painstakingly and lovingly creative works of art (apologies for the sarcasm) and sit there and take in any lessons about writing I can give you to help you write your own masterpieces, I want you and I to get off on the right foot.

Okay to start off, I have been writing since, I believe even before I could. As a child I was a little attention seeker who was afraid of every single thing in this big, bad world: the dark, heights, dentists, doctors, small spaces, large spaces, thugs, thieves and murderers. My imagination was rife with dangers and, thankfully, also rife with friends. Together with my real-life human friends I would lead them into stories unknown, create characters unlike they’d ever heard of (many of them with more dangers than I care to admit… Children’s imaginations are darker than I think anyone would ever dare say).

I wrote my first proper story at, I assume perhaps the age of six or seven based on the legibility of the writing and my friend’s drawing skills. It was titled ‘Snowy’s Adventures’ and detailed my teddy dog, Snowy’s, believe it or not ‘adventures’. All I can really recall about those events where that a very-kind woman who worked at the Nursery (where it was written) stuck the pages together with a staple-gun in the wrong order and by the way I reacted you’d think that she’d destroyed Snowy teddy herself.

 Since then I’ve started many projects, finished a small handful, self-published a monstrosity written at eleven-years-old at fourteen-years-old (regretted, but I truly only wanted a copy for myself) and achieved a degree in English Literature and Creative Writing (along with many other, not-important-to-this-situation qualifications).

I’ve worked a handful of jobs, all very distracting to my writing. I’ve seen many therapists etc. about my constant anxiety and fear of, although less than I was a child, still a considerable number of things. And now, my wonderful and supportive parents, putting up with me in the way that only parents can, have decided to help support my dreams of moving to France to open a Writers’ Retreat, far away from the outside world.

 It was a big step, a terrifying step, but also a much needed one. My anxiety, although focused on other things, has died down. I feel a considerable amount better and I’m taking the steps to actually do something I’ve always been afraid of—sharing my beauties, my babies, with other people. You see, that’s what a novel or short story or poem is to a writer. Non-writers wouldn’t understand that because, well, it’s weird to be so attached to a piece of paper. But you can’t tell me that Dickens didn’t sit there after spending so long on Hard Times and think, ‘Wow, this is amazing. I love this. I’m so proud of how it’s grown from a little idea to a novel all its own’.

 To all the authors and writers out there, consider that the first lesson I’ll teach you on this blog, if you don’t love what you’re writing—alla Conan-Doyle and Sherlock Holmes—then stop writing it. Move onto something that does make you happy, something that makes you excited again. Trust me, one day you’ll feel that pull again and you’ll move back to it, but a work without love is like an artist without paint—it’ll be blank, dull, without life.

 Alright, alright, I think I’ve talked long enough for my first blog post. This was only meant to be a getting to know me segment, after all. I hope you enjoy all that’s to come: poetry, plays, short stories and serial stories; along with weekly posts to help you with your own writing: how to create characters, ‘show, don’t tell’ and editing old pieces, to name a few.

I hope you’re enjoying National Novel Writing Month, if you’re taking part and I look forward to taking part in it next year. A Bientot, mes amis.

Non.

A Bientot, les ecrivians.