Thomas Braga-Henebry

Geographer, wannabe writer



Avatar project: Scene structure

It took awhile to get this writing style down, but I feel like I'm getting more used to it now that I'm done. I removed a large chunk that I realized was a flashback and needed its own structure to work right.

Scene 1


  • Iko is trying to figure out what happened that led him to wake up in the alley.

                Iko awoke with an aching head and a wet, pungent odor filling his nose. Despite his layers of clothes, he had a chill that stuck to his bones. These new experiences at first kept him from remembering how he got there, but the memories of last night soon came trickling back. Iko hobbled – he was quite stiff from his cramped position – to the alley exit, a portal to a normal city street early morning bustle; important looking men in formal wear, a street vendor hawking their goods, public transit vehicles shuffling denizens about their roofless labyrinth.


  • He tries to talk to people on the street, but his extremely shy nature halts him.

                Iko stood mesmerized at this current of people passing by him. He had never seen so many adults before, not even on School Assembly days. The blur began to overwhelm him, but he singled out one person from the crowd, a middle aged lady standing still, wearing knee high boots and a long green jacket, fidgeting with a half-finished cigarette in her hand, like how Mr. Sanako the history instructor held his cigarette on smoke breaks under the gym windows. Iko thought of the only words he had been taught to use in a situation such as this. But there was no ‘situation’ like this in his world’s conception at all. “Excuse me…”


  • A garbage truck enters the alley, breaking the dam of courage Iko was building up, and he runs.

                The words caught in a fierce block in his throat as a monstrous noise came up behind him. Iko spun around to see a hideous, snarling face with two glowing eyes looking right at him. Sub-consciously, he knew what he saw was a garbage truck, but his panicked and frayed mind in that moment had lost its ability to reason, impelling him only to one action: run, and run he did.



  • Iko feels fear, confusion, and despair.

                He ran until he thought he would faint. As fatigue surpassed fear Iko part stumbled, part fell into a new alley, his legs and lungs burning. Breath returned to him, but neither did comfort or clear thinking. In his haze, Iko softly cried, lamenting his lack of courage and loss of composure. “Stupid, idiot, wimp…” he unfairly chastised himself, the way boys do when they think they failed one of the unspoken, unknown tests of becoming a man. Weeping still, he pushed himself back between a garbage can and step up to a fire door. “What am I doing, how did I get here, where’s Moji?”


  • He finds the (thing) that Moji gave him, remembers she told him: that he was stronger than he knew.

                Moji had set him on this course and at the moment Iko could not understand why. The heat from exercise was fading now, and it was an autumn morning, foreboding of rain later. As he sat listless, mind wandering, he brought his hands across his chest to fend off the chill. As he did, he felt something in his vest pocket, searched, and brought out a small, circular tile. It was hard and cool, even after being so close to Iko’s heaving chest. One side was emblazoned with a beautiful yin-yang symbol, the other side a lotus flower. This item gripped Iko’s attention; it was the token of the last time he saw Moji. She had said to him just last night,

                “Iko, everyone here is special, but you are in a different way. You are smart and kind and, although you don’t know it yet, strong. You have something inside that is just waiting for you to find it. You don’t know how strong you are, but you will find out. Sooner rather than later, I fear.” That was when she pressed the tile into his hands.


  • With Moji’s instruction lighting his fire, Iko sets out to find the tea house.

                Moji’s last words echoed in his mind. Iko remembered when Moji gave him solace and encouragement. He remembered when she would sit and listen to him describe all the advanced problems in his homework. He remembered Moji, more than any other person at the school. She believed in him. If Moji said he was strong, then he believed it.

                Moji’s memory comforted him, but there was still the problem of what to do next. Wiping his nose, Iko turned the tile in hands, and recognized something he hadn’t before. Small, neat lettering on the edge of the tile. It read ‘White Lotus Tea House, 1140 Cold Fire Street’. That was enough for Iko, who had flipped through enough atlases and brochures to know the city’s layout like the back of his hand. He had his mission: follow Moji’s instructions, go to the White Lotus. He stopped shaking and stood up, returned the tile to its pocket, and set off into the cold morning.


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