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15 January 2011 @ 08:27 pm
NaScreeWriMo - Day Seventy-Six  
This has been a pretty good day.  I got to sleep in (until 9:00 am!), I had a very good writing day, I won a Bingo at scifiland, KU beat Nebraska, visited with my Gamps, had some restorative alone time this evening, made chocolate cake in a mug, and played some Civ.  Now that I'm done posting, I'm going to play some more Civ, and then maybe read in bed covered with thousands of blankets.  Wonderful.

INT. CASTLE - GREAT STAIRCASE - NIGHT

The long winding stair Mira and Ilka descended in search of Dominik. Not quite as scary now, as TORCHES are lit on the walls. They do not go out as Samuel passes, though they do sputter and go dim.

Samuel tugs too hard on Mira’s arm and she trips. She would fall if it weren’t for his grip.

SAMUEL
Get up!

MIRA
You’re hurting me.
The rage melts away - he looks scared, confused, and young.

SAMUEL
I’m sorry. There’s something...
between my mind and...
 
He can’t finish. A snarl, and Samuel grabs a torch off the wall beside them, flings it into the abyss to their left, where it is swiftly swallowed up by the darkness.

Mira starts to back away. Up the stairs. Samuel screams into the blackness.

SAMUEL (CONT'D)
Get out of my head!
 
Mira turns and runs up the stairs. She makes good progress for a beat or two before Samuel’s HANDS grab her from behind, pull her back down.

SAMUEL (CONT’D)
No, no, no. No!

MIRA
Samuel, please. Samuel.
 
He stops and shoves her against the wall, his face inches from hers.

SAMUEL
(whispers)
There isn’t much time. I can feel him,
trying to watch through my eyes. You have
to kill me, Mira.

MIRA
(moans)
No.

SAMUEL
I can’t do it! You must, it has to be you! Please, I
beg you. I’m trapped in my own mind. He’s turned
me into something monstrous. Soon I’ll be swallowed up completely.

MIRA
I can’t. Don’t ask me to do this. Don’t ask me to
watch you die again.

SAMUEL
If you love me, you’ll let me go.
 
Beat. Mira nods, slowly. She reaches a hand up into her sleeve...

The torches GO OUT. Blackness, relieved only by a dim eldritch glow in the stones.

JANOS (O.S.)
(booming)
Samuel. Bring her to me.
 
The eyes that look at Mira now are flat, ruthless. Samuel drags her down the stairs.

INT. DUNGEON - NIGHT

Mira is thrown into a cell, the same cell Dominik was held in. The door is pulled shut. Janos, Erzsebet and Samuel watch her from outside.

JANOS
I gave you a chance. You could have
been happy, Mira.
 
She struggles back to her feet. Spits through hooked fingers. Only Janos flinches.

JANOS (CONT’D)
Ah, well. I can find some other pretty girl who will be
quite happy here. In the meantime, I’ll keep you down
here where you won’t get up to any mischief. You’ll
make a nice meal sometime - maybe Sunday dinner for the three of us!
 
Janos grins wolfishly.

MIRA
You sound like your uncle.
 
That wipes the smile off his face. He glares at her.

MIRA (CONT’D)
You don’t frighten me. I welcome death.

JANOS
Do you? Do you really? You think death is just the
beginning, the gateway to some happy dream of
paradise? Death is the end. There’s nothing
after this but the long, cold dark.
 
He smiles again, humorless. Erzsebet stares intently at Mira. Samuel doubles over, clutches his stomach.

JANOS (CONT’D)
Stand up straight, you weakling!
(to Mira)
The magic just doesn’t work as well when
the body’s dead to start with.

MIRA
(to herself)
Magic...
 
Janos and Erzsebet’s heads snap up. They stare upwards, as though listening to something far away. Janos LAUGHS.

JANOS
Dear, dear. How stupid humans can be.
(to Erzsebet)
A gift, for my lovely cousin. You may have her.
 
Erzsebet looks at Mira for a beat, then smile up at Janos. She leaves.

MIRA
(to Janos)
You gave me a chance. For what?

JANOS
You did what I could not do. I wanted to thank you.

MIRA
A chance for what?

JANOS
Eternal happiness, of course.

MIRA
(beat)
What do you want from me?
 
Janos smiles sadly. Samuel returns to his side, eyes hard. He snaps his teeth at Mira, grins. Janos puts a hand on his shoulder.

JANOS
My life has been very lonely. It may take a long time -
I am more patient than Hados ever was -
but one day you will be quite content to live
here, and to be my friend.
 
Mira can only shake her head.

INT. CASTLE - NIGHT

Erzsebet moves with astonishing speed - up staircases, through corridors. All without a sound.

EXT. CASTLE - NIGHT

Snow falls gently. The click-clack of horse hooves approach. ILKA rides up, alone. She can’t look away from the castle. Breathes heavy. But she fights off the panic and dismounts.

INT. DUNGEON - NIGHT

Mira is alone. One single torch in the aisle gives off feeble, sickly light. Water drips behind the grate outside the cells, the entrance to the catacombs.

Mira pulls out the mirror shard. Studies it. She places it over her wrist... Then stops. Instead, she cuts a line across her PALM.

She sticks her hand through the bars, lets the blood drip onto the floor of the aisle. Waits.

Samuel appears, utterly intent on the blood. He approaches like an animal, hunting.

MIRA
Hello, love. This smells good, doesn’t it?
You can have a taste, if you want.
 
Samuel gently takes her hand and LICKS it. Mira can’t watch, but she resists her tears. She withdraws her hand, steps back into the cell.

MIRA (CONT’D)
Open the door and come in. You can have all you want.
 
Samuel just touches the bars. CLICK. The lock opens, he slides the door aside. Enters. Before Mira can react, he grabs her in a flash of speed.

But he does not bite.

MIRA (CONT’D)
Samuel?
 
The barest nod.

MIRA (CONT’D)
Can I save you?
 
The barest shake. Mira takes his hand, and they walk out of the cell together. Down the aisle, and into another cell. Torture instruments hang on the wall - knives, pliers.

Mira takes down the AXE.

Samuel kneels beside a low bench, rests his head on it. Docile, ready. Mira raises the axe but cannot continue. Her arms shake. She cannot help but cry.

SAMUEL
I love you, Mira.
 
She brings down the axe.
 
 
 
nhpwnhpw on January 16th, 2011 04:10 pm (UTC)
Did you really have to go and do that? REALLY? :(

OK. So this is good and it moves the plot along nicely. One thing I've started to wonder about is - what's happening to Dominick and Ilka in all this time? Are we going to see them again?
Shannonkungfuwaynewho on January 16th, 2011 04:39 pm (UTC)
Well, what we've essentially got here is the same thing done twice - I won't have him both dying and then her killing him. It's a repetitive beat. Right now I prefer the latter, just because she's more active, but I'm opening it up to the floor.

Ilka's in these pages! She came back!
nhpwnhpw on January 16th, 2011 05:17 pm (UTC)
Ilka's in these pages! She came back!

Ack, sorry! I missed that!

...But where is Dominick?
Shannonkungfuwaynewho on January 16th, 2011 07:42 pm (UTC)
I didn't think there was any way she'd bring him back to the castle, and honestly, it just felt like a pretty boring scene to have her essentially leave him with a villager, so when she meets up with Mira that'll be the first thing she asks, too. I just didn't want to cut the pacing in this sequence.

I think I might finish today!!!
singer_shapersinger_shaper on January 16th, 2011 09:09 pm (UTC)
MIRA (CONT’D)
You don’t frighten me. I welcome death.

JANOS
Do you? Do you really? You think death is just the
beginning, the gateway to some happy dream of
paradise? Death is the end. There’s nothing
after this but the long, cold dark.


Love these lines. Janos's argument is one that consistently comes up for characters portaryed as evil -- I'm actually reminded of the Soul Hunters as well -- and it also implies that Janos did once believe in heaven because he might have actually been a priest.
Shannonkungfuwaynewho on January 17th, 2011 02:50 am (UTC)
Thank you - I find writing "evil" to be kind of hard because it can be easy to fall into cliches and that sort of Snidely Whiplash sort of dialogue, so I always agonize over things like that. I'm glad it worked.
Holly: Raider bluehollywobbles on January 16th, 2011 11:50 pm (UTC)
K, you know how you were thinking this is too long? I wonder if maybe this whole bit with Samuel coming back isn't necessary. Or, if you want it there, maybe skip the original killing and just have him show up and have her think for a few moments he's normal? Although then it would almost seem like you were jerking the audience around if she really had every reason to think he was ok and then oops, no. IDK. It is getting a bit long and convoluted. Like maybe there should be just one main climax, or maybe one climax with one other-shoe-dropping climax?
Shannon: bsg dradiskungfuwaynewho on January 17th, 2011 02:54 am (UTC)
Like I told nhpw, I think I'll cut the first Samuel death - it'll cut out some dross, and streamline that section leading into act three. And it gets Mira more active - albeit killing her husband while doing so - instead of having her passively reacting to something.

Is there anything that you can point out as being convoluted? Because third acts are my nemesis...es...is, and I always worry about action stuff being hard to follow.

I haven't gotten to the climax yet. :( Heeeeeeee. I outlined this after doing a genre study (in my head - I'll do a paper one before revision), and the third acts of horror/action/thrillers are usually one long extended action-y sequence. But I don't want it to be tiresome or too long. But, y'know, it's a first draft, so I'm not too worried about it just yet.

But yeah, in general, a lot of shit will end up getting trimmed/condensed/scenes merged, etc. I always write more than I need.
Holly: Fight til we can'thollywobbles on January 17th, 2011 04:41 am (UTC)
Like I told nhpw, I think I'll cut the first Samuel death

Ah, oops, gotcha -- missed that!

Is there anything that you can point out as being convoluted?

I've been reading this so incrementally that I don't remember everything very well and I sort of lose the flow, but I can go back over things and take a closer look if you like. Off the top of my head... the way I mentally outline the story (very bare-bones vague version) is: Stuff leading up to Mira coming to the castle, plot thickening and stuff starting to get interesting at the castle, Beta getting introduced with things getting more interesting, then, TENSE act threeish stuff happening, Mira and Ilsa leaving the castle and there's more TENSE STUFF HAPPENING, then coming back and having a bunch more TENSE STUFF HAPPEN, and now there's TENSE NATHANIEL AND JANOS STUFF happening, and we've still got a climax and resolution coming. All the different elements of Act 3 are really awesome, there's just so much of it. Like, maybe if they never left the castle it would simplify things, or if the final confrontation was down in the village and they never went back...? I feel like it should flow as lots of tense stuff happening, but it sort of goes off in one direction, then in another, then in another again, and the disparate parts don't necessarily feel like they're pulling you toward one main inevitable clash, whereas the first half felt like it was all aiming toward something.

One thing I can think of is the bit where Balthar possesses Dominik when he's with Ilsa and there's the whole scary bit on the bridge -- it's really cool and tense and well-written, but it doesn't seem like it contributes to the climax -- it sort of exists on its own. (It shows that vampires don't cross water and that Balthar can possess ppl from afar, but there are other vampire clues, and later Janos possesses Natlhaniel so we see that then.) There might be other bits in there that aren't necessary when it comes to trimming it down. Beta might show up more than is strictly necessary. But as I said, it's good stuff, there's just so *much* stuff.

Oy, now I'm second guessing myself. Maybe I'm just losing the sense of pacing because I am reading it incrementally. IDK, you already plan on trimming it down, so I guess my only solid suggestion would be that the trimming happens in act three and that everything you leave in points eventually to the climax, or that there's a reason for everything and there aren't any little scenes that sort of stand off on their own. When you're finished, I'll sit down and read it all through again more quickly, and maybe I'll be able to give more helpful input.

I really like it. If I didn't, I wouldn't bother critiquing structure -- that's one of those things you give up on early if you think a story's not good, y'know? I know this is a first draft, too, and if I were reading draft 3 you'd have already gotten things trimmed etc. I have full confidence in your talent and abilities. ;) There are some really unique twists and elements to it -- you dive into the vampire myth at a different angle than most writers do.
Shannonkungfuwaynewho on January 17th, 2011 03:43 pm (UTC)
Ooo, lots of good stuff here! I was wondering about everything flowing okay since I was posting in dribs and drabs - it can be hard to follow. And just keep sense of the pacing and such.

You know, when you talk about the sequence of them escaping the castle, and the wolves and the river and all that, I know exactly what you're talking about - that it's kind of doing its own thing. It was one of the first things I outlined in the second half of the movie and I think I stuck with it because it was really concrete. I don't think it's necessarily a bad idea to take a break from the castle - because I think it could be too much to spend essentially the whole movie in that one location - but it does kind of lead to another repetitive beat for Mira. She's like, I'm going back to the castle! And then she's like, ...I'm going back into the castle! Maybe if she didn't go down to the village - if she and Ilka split earlier? The only reason I can think of her not leaving with Dominik is if Samuel were already there, which would solve another problem, actually.

whereas the first half felt like it was all aiming toward something.

That's good to know. I mean, there's always some degree of "wow things are changing" after the midpoint, but I think I've got more than that here. I'm thinking I'll need to sit down and watch Rosemary's Baby again, which has such a nice, clear structure, and a real sense of a woman figuring out mysteries, which is really what the first half was about for me. In that movie, the central question is, "What's happening to Rosemary?" I'm not sure if I've got such a clear question here, and I think I should.

Thanks again for taking the time to write all this; it really, really helps. :D