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Kathleen Ramirez

Art Student, Freelance Illustrator

28

1

Finish Hard

UPDATE: After much deliberation, I think I've finally decided to go with the "Finish Hard" martial arts tournament story. I think it will go better in terms of structure and visual composition/presentation. Plus, I'm already quite familiar with martial arts, so I think it'll be easier in terms of research and development, espeically since this is my first storyboard ever. I don't want to overdo it. :)

Also, I'll begin posting research and thumbnails shortly. I'd love feedback on the title of the story too. Somehow, I feel like it could be better. If you have any thoughts on that, let me know!

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Three story ideas

#1 - The first, and most probable of these stories is what I call the Scenic Inferno.

This story occurs when I was studying abroad in Rome. Three other friends and I went to visit Ireland one weekend. One of our stops there included the majestic Cliffs of Moher, located in Doolin, which is right next to the sea. We were staying in a hostel in Doolin and the owner had driven us up to the Cliffs of Moher to save us some time. He told us that, to get back to Doolin (which was several miles away from the cliffs), we could either take the main paved road, or we could take an unfinished scenic route closer to the sea.

Of course, me being a by-the-book kind of person, I wasn't as willing to take an unfamiliar road. Two of my friends, however, liked the idea and spoke of it as an adventure. The third friend was more or less neutral on the idea. In the end all four of us left the road and took the detour. I have to admit, it was very beautiful for much of the hike along the cliffs, but when we started running out of daylight, we started to get nervous. Ahead lay some sea cliffs which were said to be extremely dangerous because the waves crashed so high on those cliffs that, if you came to close to the edge, they would pull you right off the edge. People had died there before, so I urged everyone to get back to the main road. The problem was that a huge field and a steep slope sat between us and the road. My conscience bugged me at the idea of crossing into private property just to get onto the main road, but we had no choice. The sun had already disappeared over the horizon and the light in the sky was fading fast. Our only point of direction would be an old tower that sat next to the main road at the top of the slope...that is, if we could still see it in the dark in the next half-hour.

We crossed into the field, but about fifty paces or so into the field, we found ourselves knee-deep in a cold, wet marsh of mud and manure. I even lost my shoe half a dozen times and either had to retrieve it myself, or have someone else get it for me if I was lodged in the mud. It was disgusting. Moreover, we hadn't eaten lunch or dinner, half of us were running on a previous all-nighter, and it was starting to rain. "Why did we ever leave the main road?" I said several times. When the last of the light disappeared and we were walking blindly, we spotted some faint silhouettes of some cows and prayed no bulls were in the field, or we'd be toast.

Suddenly one of my friends remembered that he had a small phone with him. It provided very little light, but it was better than pitch-blackness. By its light, we found a stone wall at the other end of the field and followed it, searching for a break in the wall to get up the slope. I could still make out the faint silhouette of the tower up ahead, but it still seemed so far away. Eventually, we found a break in the wall, jumped through it, and climbed up the grassy slope which was made slippery by the rain. When we reached the top of the slope, very close to the tower now, our last obstacle between us and the road was a barbed-wire fence with an electric wire. While Bryan, the only male in our group, held the barbed wire part of the fence low for us, he helped us make the difficult jump over and onto the road. When we were safely out of that disaster, we looked up and saw the Milky Way and all the stars of heaven above us. We were so relieved and delighted that we laughed and hugged each other, despite our muddied state.

It was still a long walk back to Doolin, but we made it back safe and sound.

If the story needed to go further, I could continue by saying that when we finally arrived back to the hostel, we had to get in thorugh the side door since there were lots of people sitting in the front room, listening to peaceful flute music and reading near the fireplace (much to our envy). After washing up for almost 45 minutes, we went back into town looking for food at a pub or something. They had all stopped serving food at 9:30pm and it was already 9:45pm. In desparation, we found just one place that didn't say whether or not it was serving food, so we walked in and sat ourselves down at a table. A server came and apologized, saying that they were technically closing for the season that evening and had stopped serving at 9:30 as well, but seeing us in our tired state, she didn't want to send us away hungry, so she offered to serve us some leftover brown bread and vegetable soup for roughly 5 euros each. We immediately accepted the offer. We were so hungry we could barely think straight. When she finally brought us the food, we gratefully ate it in silience and at one moment we all looked at each other and just laughed. We'd been through all that infernal disaster and the whole time we'd been wishing we'd be out of it and in place like this. It was a fine ending to a crazy evening.

#2 - The second story would be about my fainting experience at the ACT exam. I'd likely title it "The Knock-out Test."

I'd tutored hard for that exam, particularly for the math portion, and this wasn't the first time I was taking it either. I had to pass the math portion of the exam in order for me to get into my favored college, which had turned me down because the math score was two points lower than they wanted. This test would be the last one I could take in order for me to get into college that fall. I hadn't eaten anything, but then again, I'd only had a single bite of food in past tests. I was cool. I could do this.

Wrong! Right in the middle of the math portion of the test, I started to panic. I wasn't understanding what was presented before me and I kept skipping over problems because they were too difficult. Why wasn't I getting this?! I started to feel faint. I couldn't see straight. "Come on. Fight it," I thought to myself. "You have to fight this. You can do it. You can finish it..."

The next thing I knew, my head felt like a freight train had slammed into it, and my face was on a cold surface. As I came to, I realized I had passed out in my desk, had fallen out of my seat, and had struck the hard floor head-first. I stirred a bit, and the girl who had been sitting behind me whispered, "Are you okay?" I couldn't respond. The proctor summoned some help and he and another woman helped revive me. "I have to finish the test," I whispered, but they carefully escorted me to the nurse's office.

My exam was canceled. But I figured, "I get it. I'm not supposed to go to the college I wanted. Fine." I ended up taking a gap year and ended up at another college, one that I didn't originally want to go to, but I'm glad I did.

 

#3 - The third story idea would be a martial arts tournament we did at our school. I'd likely title it "Finish Hard."

I was a mere white-belt beginner with lots of training and practice in sparring. It would actually be another couple of weeks before I tested for my yellow belt, so I was excited. Anyway, at this tournament, I knew the competitors well, and had sparred against them in the past, but my nerves were up since this was a more official competition. They were already yellow or brown belts in Tae Kwon Do, so I was still intimidated since I'd only ever won one match against one of them in the past.

With the pressure on, I did my first sparring match against one of the girls. One point score for striking the chest guard, two points for striking the head. I lost by more than double her score, but I wasn't ready to give up yet. I sat out for the next round and would fight the loser of that round for a final elimination. My friend Elizabeth, who sat in the bleachers, came by me and wished me all the best, telling me she was cheering me on. Likewise, a sixth degree Dan Blackbelt who was helping in the judging gave me a couple of tips, particularly emphasizing that I needed to move faster, and get her off balance and then strike her hard.

Speed is a real struggle for me, but it's something I really want to master. The loser of that second round was the girl I had sparred in the first round. She was tired, so that served as an advantage to me. However, she also had a Black belt in Shotokan. She had endurance, so I wasn't home free yet. I definitely did better this round, but she was still really good. She managed to keep her score ahead of mine by at least one or two points.

It finally came down to a pivotal moment when I glanced at the score board and clock. 10 seconds left. Score: 11-12. And I was the 11. I glanced at the bleachers and saw my friend Elizabeth at the edge of her seat with a hopeful look on her face. "Time to finish hard!" I thought to myself. The clock ticked. 9...8...7... With all the force I had left, I faked a roundhouse kick with my left leg (which had proven in the past to be an effective technique against this opponent),...6...and swung my right leg up for a mighty roundhouse kick to my opponent's helmeted...5...catching her squarely in the head. In the corner of my eye I saw the score board and clock. 13-12! I blocked the last of her return assaults...4...3...2...1... I'd won the final round with that final effort. We removed our helmets, bowed to each other, and gave each other a solid handshake and hug when the match was over.

When it was announced that I'd placed second, my friend Elizabeth cheered. I was elated. I'd actually placed! All that training and effort really paid off.

So......

I really liked all of these stories and it's been really hard to choose. Each of them had high stakes

I liked the "Finish Hard" martial arts story since it was really exciting, had plenty of drama, and had enough room for character development. There are plenty of opportunities for dramatic angles in the visual presentation and I think it would be visually intriguing.

The "Knock-out Test" was fun because of the shock it carried and the unexpected turn it took, but I don't think it makes for the best character development. It would still be interesting in terms of visuals.

The "Scenic Inferno" was great because it involved a dramatic adventure with seemingly impossible circumstances. My biggest doubt was with its structure. It seems to stretch out for too long, and I think it requires too much background info. If that story falls through, I'll do the "Finish Hard" story.

I'd LOVE your feedback. Thoughts?

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