Skyler Stories

Read ExcerptsRead Author's Analysis See Character Sketches: 1 and 2

This page is about "Skyler Stories." This was my second attempt at a novel, written in 1992 and 1993, and its title is in quotes instead of italicized for a very good reason: I never gave it a "real" title, and it was never actually finished, so that serves as a working title. "Skyler Stories" also has a double meaning because as you might have guessed the main character's name is Skyler, but her last name is Stories.

This book was not much of a book at all because it didn't seem to really be going anywhere. I had an idea for a conflict and resolution, but overall the story's main purpose seemed to be the character herself. I created her and her situation, plopped her into her world, and just wrote about how she acted and what she thought. I eventually abandoned it because I realized while writing it that a lot of the situations I'd invented were unresolvably stupid and I would probably have to reinvent everything to make it work. I did, however, wipe the dust off the character more than ten years later and put her in one of the later The House That Ivy Built books as a character (THTIB 5).

The Plot: On the outside, Skyler Stories seems like a pretty normal person. She's the youngest of five kids in a single-parent home, and she does well in school and has a rather classically pretty appearance. But Skyler's different from everyone she knows on a fundamental level, and that's because she always knows what other people are thinking.

Skyler had an illness when she was very young. A high fever almost killed her and the doctors couldn't do a thing. After she mysteriously beat the illness, she started manifesting an extremely irritable disposition. No one knew it at the time, but this was because her infection had changed the way her mind worked, and from that time on she was aware of other people's feelings and thoughts. Once she was old enough to realize what this mixed blessing meant, she became very alienated and turned herself inward. Though she appears to others as an extreme introvert, in her own mind she is often angry and sarcastic, and sometimes she wonders how much of her personality is actually remnants of other people. Now a middle school student in this story, it is a wonder Skyler isn't crazy.

There was no particularly clear plot line, but at one point early in the story Skyler meets independent bookstore owner Austin Bell, and through some cheesy coincidences they start discussing the existence of ESP and Skyler confides in her, surprised to find that her ability has a name besides "mind-reading" (a label she's always hated and thinks is very inaccurate). A little while later in the story, Skyler does some investigation and ends up meeting up with a boy named Jason, who happens to be a happy-go-lucky clairvoyant seventh-grader. The two of them hit it off (duh) and begin dating, and Skyler starts to feel a bit more confident. She still isn't sure what to do, though, when she has a prophetic dream about her sister getting sexually assaulted by the guy she's dating, and she feels powerless to intervene. Even with her new allies, she isn't sure what kind of a difference one little girl can make. . . .

I shared this story with maybe two people—I know my boyfriend in tenth grade read it, and my sister offered a critique but I can't recall if she read all of what I'd written. I'm glad I didn't show it off to many people because it was indeed very badly written. Most of it was about Skyler's day-to-day life, and even though the concept was interesting and well-handled (meaning her experience as a telepathic teenager is filtered in rather naturally and convincingly), the writing itself was just plain not good. Beyond having poor sentence structure, the story was full of "I just wanted to write this scene disease"—I'd think I wanted to show Skyler experiencing/doing something, so I'd invent a reason for her to have that experience. Not a good strategy.

The book was handwritten in my teenage careful cursive and reached 273 pages. I don't have an approximate word count since it isn't typed.

If you'd like to know more about my abandoned novel, here are your options:

Read Excerpts:Here you can read some excerpts from the story.
Author's Analysis:This is my discussion of what I thought I did well and what I thought I did badly. It involves a fair amount of self-mocking.
See Cover:This isn't really a cover—just a notebook paper doodle of the main character—but not many scannable drawings survived.
See Updated Skyler:As mentioned above, Skyler was later incorporated into THTIB 5 as a character. If you'd like to see how I drew her when I entered her into the THTIB series bible, check the drawing out.
More About New Skyler:Go to the THTIB 5 page and maybe check out the THTIB main page if you want more info on how Skye was incorporated into my current projects despite having left her origin behind.

If you were amused by this and want to see more old bad writing, be sure and check out the "ancient history" section of my writing page.

If you're curious about my current skills in the long fiction department, check out the novels in my "current projects" section.

If you want to send me a comment about "Skyler Stories," go to the interactive comment form.