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CURSE: the 200,000 Words of an Angsty Teenager

A look back on my first draft

By Amanda StarksPublished 10 months ago 5 min read
Second Place in Writers Challenge
Me alongside a print I made of the "cursed" factions in my fantasy book series.

"On 9/1/2013, I embarked on a journey I thought was going to be short-lived and...mostly for fun. But, this one silly idea became the light and passion of my life. A Fan-Fiction turned novel turned seven book series isn't something that just happens, it is worked on, slaved on, and bled on. Four years I have spent with this one story, this one idea, and it has become such a major part of my life, that I couldn't imagine being without it. It has gained me a following of readers who have connected to the story on a level I didn't think was possible. CURSE is my baby, an accumulation of my thoughts, feelings, and real life struggles turned into a fantasy world filled with complex characters. Now, as a part of the work in progress FATE OF FIRE series, I can't wait to spend many more years writing about this world and these characters with the people who have supported me since the start. Happy Four Year Anniversary to my novel, CURSE! ❤" - Facebook post by Amanda Starks, 2017

From Fan-fiction to Original Book Series

The first official art for my fan-fiction: CURSE

Stories have always played a huge part in my life; from the innocent roleplays among friends, to the eager beginnings of an inspired fan-fiction, stories have led me down some of the most rewarding and humbling experiences in my life.

Right before I started high school, I found myself writing the beginning of a story that would take me on a six-year-long journey of growth and self-discovery.

CURSE, a fantasy story about the main character trying to break a generational curse, was dark, emotional, and full of references to my own struggles with mental health and illness during that time. And yet, despite how dark it could get, it attracted many readers across the fan site that I posted on. Before long, I found my little story at the top of the page consistently, the thread full of excited commenters and friends theorizing what would happen next ( or yelling at me for killing off another favorite character ).

Curse in 2018 on a NEW site!

It was incredibly surprising as I had never gotten so much recognition for anything in my life prior to this. I had a community growing around me and this story; one that eagerly supported me and encouraged me through every roadblock and milestone I hit.

With this community, I expanded both in skill and in understanding. Many of my fans were writers and artists themselves from all over the world, and I constantly kept my eye on their works, returning any support I could and learning from their stories as they learned from mine. I quickly discovered what my readers resonated with most, and which chapters were their favorites.

I felt my writing quality slowly improve with every new chapter, and others caught on as well. My ratings went from 3 stars to 4, and by the end of the journey...well you could tell I had surpassed even my own expectations.

The Ratings as it stands TODAY.

But what was most crazy about this was the amount of IDEAS that kept coming through the writing process. Even as I was learning how to better my dialogue or write cleaner descriptions, I was also learning how to draft new projects!

Before I knew it, I had SEVEN SEPARATE book ideas to go along with CURSE. I realized then that writing fan-fiction had given me all the practice and encouragement I needed to begin writing my own original work in this same world.

The finished FIRST draft of CURSE/EVERGREEN!

CURSE helped me not only gain confidence but also find my signature style, which has stayed consistent since completing the draft. Dark, moody fantastical, deeply personal, and character-driven, this style has gone on to define me and my writing.

It's become a bit of a community joke too to refer to me as the female "George R.R. Martin" for how much I kill off characters, maintain a gritty atmosphere, and of course, for how long I take to finish a project!

Going through and editing the draft now has been eye-opening, as I can see more and more how I have improved while refining my style. No longer are scenes overly dramatic for the sake of "drama" or "hype". I'm much more selective and purposeful in how I wield my character chopping block and my climatic scenes.

Characters still remain the driving force and have easily become my strongest skill in fiction writing. I can make readers care about my characters: protagonists, side characters, background characters, and antagonists, which is easily one of the most important skills to have in storytelling.

Itzala Blackmore from EVERGREEN by Ryky on Deviantart!

And that's another thing, my antagonists. I have found that, because of how I wrote my first antagonist in CURSE, every single antagonist I've written since then has been created with complex motivations and backgrounds just like them. I can't seem to write any antagonist as a one-dimensional bad guy and make them purely evil for the sake of being evil. ( This isn't always a bad thing! Classic villains can be amazing! )

I love the process of creating new characters and the worlds they reside in. That passion has only grown since I first started my writing journey. Alongside the FATE OF FIRE universe, I have several other worlds and fantasy projects in the making, and each one has used what I learned in FATE OF FIRE world-building to make them.

My first attempt at a map for my FATE OF FIRE universe.

As it stands, the first draft of CURSE - now titled EVERGREEN - sits at a little over 200,000 words or roughly 1,000 pages of text. My plans for the future are to break it up into a duology and edit it to meet my current standards ( and to remove any of the fan-fiction bits of course ) and make it wholly my own work.

I hope one day to have it published and out in the world for others to find and fall in love with. The most rewarding part of writing for me has always been seeing how readers connect and feel seen by another's work.

For those curious, here is the synopsis of EVERGREEN as it stands now: ( This is definitely going to get modified in the future )

For a time, all Itzala Blackmore wanted was death.

First, it was the avalanche. It crushed everything she held dear under several feet of ice, and left what came crawling out a broken, rotten thing.

Second, it was the conscription. Her best friend and closest confidant is forced to travel to the Black Wolf Pass to secure the safety of the Blackmore Clan, a three-year journey that might not see him return.

Thirdly, and finally, it was the curse. A 300-year-old unbreakable curse that has left her mind and body burning from the inside out, with a strange and painful power ready to consume everything and everyone in the Valley she calls home.

All of it points to one entity, a man halfway between realms with flaming evergreen eyes...eyes that now burn brightly in Itzala's own skull.

What has been done must now be undone as Itzala begins a dark journey of uncovering the mysteries surrounding herself, her family, and the flames in the eyes of a dead man.

Itzala Blackmore from EVERGREEN commissioned by Ryky on Deviantart!

The lesson to be learned here is to never give up on the things you enjoy. It just might take you to places you would never expect!

If you want to see what other projects I have in the works, come check out my author website at www.amandastarks.com! You can also sign up for my e-mail newsletter to get exclusive updates and content.

Thank you for joining me on this journey!

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About the Creator

Amanda Starks

Lover of the dark, fantastical, and heart-wrenching. Fantasy writer, poet, and hopefully soon-to-be novelist who wants to create safe spaces to talk about mental health. Subscribe to my free newsletter at www.amandastarks.com for updates!

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Comments (16)

  • Bekewari Waribo Obolobagu4 months ago

    ....so nice

  • Obsidian Words9 months ago

    *rapidly clicks link* This give me so much hope.

  • Real Poetic10 months ago

    Congratulations!! 🎊🎉

  • Brittany Fay10 months ago

    Very Inspiring 🌠👏👏👏 Wonderful job young lady !!!

  • Novel Allen10 months ago

    You have certainly been evolving into a fantastic writer. Your story is so many layered and intriguing. I wish you the best in your future development, your projects are very motivational for us writers. Congrats.

  • Shirley Belk10 months ago

    Congratulations!

  • Dana Hambleton10 months ago

    Congrats on second place! This was really inspiring and I hope to have the drive you have one day. Keep doing what you’re doing!

  • Kenny Penn10 months ago

    Fantastic!!!! You’ve got yourself at least one more fan! Congrats on your win!

  • Babs Iverson10 months ago

    Awesome and amazing!!! Congratulations on the win!°💕❤️❤️

  • JBaz10 months ago

    Ambitious project, I wish I had your drive. That is awesome. Congratulations

  • Lamar Wiggins10 months ago

    Congrats, Amanda. Your baby came through in a big way! So glad it was recognized here! 👏👏👏

  • Donna Renee10 months ago

    This is amazing!! I’m so impressed 🤯❤️

  • Cathy holmes10 months ago

    Congrats. Nicely done.

  • Congratulations on your Big Win 🏆 📝😉🧡✌️🎉👍This is well-Deserved🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉👍🎉👍

  • Naomi Gold10 months ago

    Congrats on your second place win! I’m so excited for you! I’ll comment more after I’ve read this haha. 🥂🥈

  • Ian Read10 months ago

    I wouldn't call you a female G.R.R. Martin. Your characters are much more individually three-dimensional in addition to your complex plots and intrigues. Your world-building is impeccable, too.

Amanda StarksWritten by Amanda Starks

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