Art project

I hope you’ll forgive my mistakes and the poor level of my language, English is not my mother tongue!

I also want to say that I didn’t do the last exercise yet. I’m French, writing in French, and this story will be part of a collection I want to write. I don’t want to start writing more in English, because it’s gonna be so difficult otherwise to write in French later on. I hate finding the perfect sentence in English and realizing that we can’t say it in a similar fashion in French. But I think I already gave you quite a lot to read. I hope you’ll enjoy my project! If not, please tell me what’s wrong, in your opinion! Best way to progress right?

 

I want to know why some people enjoy visiting cemeteries so much.

 

Who is your main character: Zetta.

10 facts about the main character:

  • She has auburn short curly hair
  • She studies art, but doesn’t know yet what’s her favorite medium.
  • She suffers from anxiety and ADHD and going to cemeteries calm her down. There is a feeling of stillness, as if the time has stopped. So, every time she travels somewhere, she goes to the local cemetery and take pictures of the most interesting sculptures or gravestones.
  • She sometimes thinks that she can feel weird energy around her
  • She really loves reading classical romantic novels like Jane Austen’s
  • She’s a big fan of Yayoi Kusama and has a notebook full of dots and lines, made for a school project.
  • She’s almost incapable of taking a decision.
  • She doesn’t like crows and ravens.
  • She hates closed-minded people with passion.

 

What is your main character’s outside goal and outside obstacle?

  • Outside goal: visiting the local cemetery in her aunt’s town after a very painful diner with closed-minded relatives who attacked her lifestyle.
  • Outside obstacle: the cemetery is completely dark and there are some dangerous old mine shafts nearby.

 

What is your main character’s inside goal and inside obstacle?

  • Inside goal: calming down so she can choose a project for her final grade.
  • Inside obstacle: her total incapability of narrowing her options, especially while she’s so angry.

 

Who is your supporting character?

Liz, a random girl she meets in the cemetery

 

When and where

 

Thames is a lovely town located at the entrance of the Coromandel Peninsula in New Zealand. Despite a rich history (in every sense of the word), it is now mostly quiet, except during summer weekends, when all the city dwellers try to take a break on this beautiful area of the country. The time of the stamper batteries is long over, and no more gold is being fetched in the old mines. But you can still feel the atmosphere of this remote era, a certain feeling holding your heart while you look at the architecture of the buildings. Zetta even thinks that her aunt’s house got stuck then and never caught up with its time.

On some very special days, the local people dress up and revive this glorious age, but on an everyday basis, it is the most normal town. Several coffee shops, restaurants and secondhand shops are keeping the main street alive. It is difficult to walk without seeing a known face, eating fish and chips or a delicious pie from Food for Thought. Everybody knows everyone in these small towns.

The cemetery is located on the hill, facing the firth of Thames. Death with a view. What a lovely afterlife! It can be hard to access, as the rain often transforms the ground into a giant sponge, ready to capture the livings who dare to enter. The tombstones break often when the mud moves, giving the ancestors an opportunity to leave their coffin and visit their relatives if they so wish. It’s unsure if any of them actually tried.

 

What and why

Character’s core belief: being open minded is crucial to help society move forward.

 

In order to calm down and make a choice for her final project, your character must enter the cemetery, the only place she feels at peace in and overcome her inability to make choices. She can pick something random and easy who won’t make her anxious, or channel her anger against her closed minded family and use it to share her world view, taking action despite knowing full well that you can’t teach an old monkey how to make faces.

 

Summary of the story: Zetta has been invited for the weekend by her aunt living in a century old house in Thames, by the cemetery. While they’re having dinner, the aunt shares some very outdated ideas about people and their life choices, which make Zetta restless and anxious. After everyone went to bed, she goes to the cemetery to breath and just enjoy the calm, walking cautiously to avoid falling to her death, taking pictures... She meets a girl doing the same thing and they sit facing the firth, silent at first, then talking. Zetta explains that she has to take a decision, but she can’t focus because of what happened at dinner. Liz hints at the fact that she could use that for her art. But Zetta is an anxious girl and she’s afraid of being consumed by such an intense project. They decide to meet the next day as well. During the day, Zetta walks and visits some of the main touristic attractions of the town, very history oriented, which gives her an idea. At night, she meets with Liz again, and together they take pictures for the art project, deciding on a sensitive subject. A gothic but poetic and romantic take on the love between women a century ago. I’m not quite sure of the ending yet.

 

Beginning/inciting event: Zetta has dinner with her aunt.

  • How does your character feel at the beginning: she’s wary, she knows how her aunt can be sometimes, especially when she drinks. But she’s a tiny bit hopeful it might be different this time.
  • How does she feel at the end: she’s restless and pissed off. She feels stupid for hoping.
  • What decision: she decides to go on a walk in the cemetery.

Middle/rising action: Zetta walks in the cemetery, trying to calm her thoughts. She meets Liz, who seems to be doing the same. They talk about what they have in common, and about the art project. Later, she thinks about it and the girl during the day, wondering if she’s even alive.

  • How does your character feel at the beginning: she’s restless, anxious, furious at herself and at the world, pacing between the graves.
  • How does she feel at the end: she found a bit of peace, she’s calm enough to go back to sleep and then take a decision.
  • What decision: she decides that even though it’s scary, she wants to use her power to create art that will matter. To give her voice to a community she cares about. Not just something easy and pretty, not something she finds a deep explanation for after the fact. She’s good at bullshiting her way through college, but she doesn’t want to do it anymore.

End/falling action: She finds Liz the next night, and they take the pictures together for the project.

  • How does your character feel at the beginning: she’s scared and worried, still unsure of what she’s about to do.
  • How does she feel at the end: she’s really proud of herself, feels accomplished.
  • What decision: she decides to keep exploring subjects she cares about, and never go back to her bullshit.

 

I’m still conflicted about the ending. I’d like to go back to my initial question (I moved away quite a lot during my thought process) and find a twist other than “Liz is in fact... a ghost, oh my god!”. Anyway, this is just a first draft, I’ll let it rest for a couple of weeks and hopefully I'll have a revelation!

It was a really interesting exercise!

Anne - Laure Guillaumat
Autrice ptérodactyle