Sir Lumen - Average Class
After the ninth-class bell stopped tolling throughout the school, I found myself grinning at a total of thirty-four students - a good number for the end of the day - all looking at me with varying degrees of interest.
"Good afternoon, guys," I finally said, looking at one young face to another through my goggles.
A few of them muttered some response or another, but not as many as I wanted. Despite their several pros, they were never one to return my greetings.
I looked around my room. Like all classes in Celestial University, the seats were arranged in rows circling the projection center in the middle of the room. Around the floating wooden ring that was my desk were a collection of objects scattered around the rim; stacks of books that I'd published over the years, sheets made of both paper and formtiff, some framed pictures of family and friends, and a few notes to myself reminding me what I did the previous days and what to do today. I stole a glance at one of these out of the corner of my eye before continuing.
"Alright, if I remember correctly, we're supposed to be going over a very important point in our lessons. You won't need you typing screens," I assured them as they started to remove their entercomms from their lockers. "If you want to take notes, I won't stop you, but this should be pretty simple to remember on its own. Sound good?"
A chorus of jubilant "yeah" and "definitely" echoed. Some students still pulled out their entercomms, and one human boy even had a notebook to write in on his own.
"Now, as we've hopefully been learning over the month you've all been here, there are many things that are required to create a good tale that people will want to experience for themselves. Whether it's in a book, a movie, or any other media that needs creative writing to make it happen, they should all have what is known as " I paused, both for dramatic effect and the fact I needed to write it up on the holographic display. When I did so, I simply finished, " The Essentials of Writing."
As I expected, no one applauded, but at least they weren't dozing off again. You have to love small miracles like that in a college.
"So, based on what it's called, what exactly can we assume might be an example of one of these Essentials?" I questioned.
A few of my pupils raised their left hands or other appendages. I pointed to one, an arorial I knew would understand the lesson so far. "Hyte, you're up."
Hyte Freinda, one of my more respectable students, raised herself with her snake-like body from her seat and answered with a questioning, "Plot?"
"Correct," I said, much to her relief. "Can you elaborate on why?"
"Well, it's the overall direction that your story's going towards," she explained, in a growing voice that showed the side of her destined to be a future scholar. "It wouldn't have any sense to it, and would just go on randomly until the end. Some people might like having that kind of story, but they still need something underneath it all to make it work."
"Couldn't have said it better myself," I told her honestly. "Plot is the string that ties our words together in a series of events that make up the story. It has to be thought out, smoothly free-flowing, and a twist or two never hurt, either."
Some of the kids were now nodding their heads slightly, as if really soaking in what I was saying. Others, not so much. Guess I had some work on my hands.
I turned myself to look at the other half of the class. "Anyone from this side want to give another example?"
Again, a small number of students wanted to be picked. I decided on Brotsu Case, a jock-type swigana boy who always loved to shine. "Yes, Brotsu?"
He was a bit more excited with his answer, obvious by the fact he stood up from his seat, raised his hand, and summoned a giant blade in a shower of electrical sparks. "ACTION!" he literally roared, almost deafening those nearest to his cry.
In spite of the fact one of my students had just magically pulled out his weapon in a class that had absolutely nothing to do with real fighting, I grinned. "Also correct - very nice job. However "
In one quick motion, I called forth one of my chakrams, tossed it over the heads of my students, and watched as it caught the blade and ripped it out of Brotsu's grasp before both weapons returned to my hands.
The look on everyone's faces was priceless.
I continued like nothing had happened. "While action does concern fighting most of the time, it actually covers all of what happens in a story, and how it changes with the outcome of each choice. Not everything has to deal with swords flashing and guns blazing when it comes to action." I smiled at Brotsu, still looking at me with two sets of open mouths. "In the future, Brotsu, please refrain from summoning weapons in my class. This isn't a Dueling Arena, and I hope you all forget the little stunt I did that completely goes against what I just said."
Brotsu nodded in shame as a few beings around him giggled. "Yes, Sir," he muttered.
I tossed the sword back to its owner, and Brotsu, startled, nearly dropped it when the hilt landed in his hands. He gave me a double grin as it disappeared.
"So, we've gone over Plot and Action," I said, the words appearing in the display so as to etch themselves in their reader's minds. "But who do you need to carry these Essentials out?"
More people now knew the answer. "Vomant?" I picked out.
Voment Treks raised himself on his four overlong arms like an ape, and adjusted his specs. "You need characters," he said simply.
"Exactly right. Characters are what bring the story to life. They are not only the face of the fable, but the puppets of their creator, able to act out the story without even being aware of the ones watching their every move. Now, Voment, who would you say your favorite character in a story is?"
He seemed to mull this over a bit, then grinned suddenly. "Will saying Zell-78 help my grades?"
I couldn't help myself - I laughed like crazy at the simple question. Others were wondering what was wrong with me, but my faithful readers all got the joke.
Eventually, I wiped a tear from my eye, still chuckling slightly. "Yes, Zell is a pretty good character of mine. He went through the whole uprising against the system that enslaved him, going against countless enemies of both mortal and demonic origins in what I hope is a good story full of pretty kick-ass action. However, there's a catch: like stories need characters for some of its fuel, characters need "
This time, I had stumped them. It was a little amusing to see their bemused expressions, but even more so when I noticed one of them still "writing" away in his notebook. After the whole class had their eyes on the human student and he still wasn't looking up, I clapped my hands loudly and watched as his head jerked up, only now realizing the attention he was getting.
"Spencer!" I said, like he had won a prize. "You're still writing down everything I'm saying?"
"Uh, yes, Sir," he nodded, smiling in a very unconvincing way. Spencer Stills was a demoigod of Hyrmes, so he didn't have to pick a "silly name" to protect his identity like the rest of us. Naturally, we decided to pick on him as often as possible because of it.
"Well, you continued to do so, even after I asked that question and no one knew the answer. Naturally, I'm assuming you know what I'm talking about, or else you have future-telling powers we weren't aware of."
His face paled with every word, the evidence of whatever he'd been doing clear to a blind being. I asked, hand outstretched, "Can I see your notes so far, Spencer?"
The gears in his head turned, looking for a way out of his situation, but we were all enjoying his peril too much to help. He sighed, resigned himself to climbing down from his seat, and handed his notebook to me. The page he was apparently drawing on was still open in a way that only I could see.
Lying there, embedded in the newly-made sketchbook's pages, was a series of lines that almost perfectly captured the image of a pretty girl sitting on the opposite side of the room. He had done an amazing job drawing her: He gave her clothes the right folds and shades, made her face possess a life of its own, and showed off some of her more "prominent assets" in the process. It was obvious this wasn't his first class where he had ignored me and tried to copy his unknowing subject, and I could only envision his embarrassment if she ever knew of his interest in her.
My eyes flashed from the picture, to him, and to the girl before repeating the cycle. Each time I did, Spencer's head sunk lower and lower, obviously preparing for total humiliation.
So imagine his face and the faces of those around him as I said, "Very nice job, Spencer. Word-for-word accuracy, though you might want to improve your handwriting. I could barely read between those lines."
Everyone stared with disbelieving expressions for the longest time, even Spencer. He slowly reached up to take it back, and I handed it to him, giving him a small, secret wink as I did so. It was enough to break his face out in a thankful grin, and he hurried back to his seat before I changed my mind.
Once more, I plowed on with my lesson. "Spencer was absolutely right: Characterization is key for characters to live. You would be surprised how many stories have characters with either little or absolutely no characterization, even for the main protagonists. However, minor characters not very important to the plot might not need so much, instead serving as access to more important scenes or reveals of other character's true thoughts. Things like that really help your writing, y'know?"
Another small miracle - a large number of my students actually nodded their heads, even Spencer. I was actually on a roll.
Unfortunately, reality kicked in as my glove reminded me that class was almost over. I almost didn't even need it to tell me. The students were warning enough, crouching their bodies in preparation for dashing to the doors quickest and ending the day. It was like animals sensing a storm approach. I tried to squeeze a bit more out of this class.
"One last Essential to remember over the weekend, and then we can all go to our rooms. In fact, seeing as how we're nearing our own end, we might as well go over what's called in a story " I lost track temporarily as I saw a fin waving frantically. "Strittnia?" I said, slightly dumbfounded.
You have to understand, Strittnia Layor is one of the more "popular" girls, and her samnehd looks didn't help that brain of hers most of the time. Still, if she knew the answer, I was willing to give her a shot.
Strittnia squealed a bit before jumping up and practically shouting, "Climax!"
Well, if they didn't burst out laughing at Voment's joke, they certainly exploded at Strittnia's accident. The uproar continued as a confused Strittnia asked, "What did I say?"
"Now, guys, don't laugh," I shouted over them, even though I was almost in stitches myself. "Strittnia's right, Climax is very important. It's where everything's been leading up, and even if you've known from the start what it would be like or are totally shocked by its formation, that mountaintop of creative energy is highest here, where the fate of either a single character or whole worlds full of them is decided in a final battle of wills. And, as we all now, after the climax comes effects like regret, self-loathing, apologizing " This got them into one last hysterical fit.
It was good to see my beloved pupils in such high spirits before the bell tolled, and suddenly laughter died to the sound of running feet and calls to friends. I knew they wouldn't hear me, but I still had to shout, "Monsday we're going over the other Essentials like Details, Diversity, and, above all, Connection, so remember that if you want to study it up beforehand, and hope you all have a great weekend!"
"Thanks for the lesson!" Hyte said before half-slithering, half-floating off.
"You rock, Sir Lumen!" Brotsu assured me with his quieter voice.
"Have a good one!" Voment cried, already pulling out a book from his locker.
"I still don't get it," Strittnia said as she was surrounded by adoring boys (some not even from the same species - I'll never understand those kinds of romances myself).
Spencer just nodded in my direction, a silent understanding passing between scholar and student.
Though he left, I wasn't done with dear Mr. Stills just yet. "Winzer Shard! Can I see you for a second?"
A human girl in a long brown dress swirled and looked at me quizzically. "Am I in trouble, Sir?" she asked.
"No, no," I told her. "I was just wondering if you knew Spencer there." I pointed towards where he usually sat.
"Oh, um, not not really that well, unfortunately " she stammered, somewhat embarrassed.
Ah, I thought. I guess feelings are returned in this case. "Well, he seems to be a pretty good artist. You should ask to see some of his work sometime. I'm sure he'd appreciate your company."
Winzer furrowed her brow and was about to ask before she caught my smile, soon reflected on her face. She nodded in gratitude multiple times, understanding dawning. "Thank you, Sir Lumen. Thanks you so much!"
"Anytime!" I called out as she dashed the join the flood of rushing students.
Suddenly, across the hall from my room, the doors flew open, and about forty kids of all species suddenly shot out in a frenzy of screams and panicked remarks, trying to evade the horrible howl emanating from inside.
By the end of the frightened dash, only one person was left walking out of the room, her mouth still turning back from its monstrous wolf-like form to the sharp features and honey-blonde hair I knew so well. The transformation was over within a few short seconds, and a beautiful woman was smirking to herself and closing the doors to her room before seeing me in my own deserted class. Her pale-blue eyes lit up at the sight of me, and she waved her hand in a friendly gesture, silvery darkness still creeping from her fingertips.
I returned her greeting, summoning a bit of light in my palm. The golden flames were only half as bright as the radiance that seemed to emanate from her.
She finally managed to send the doors closing, and gave me one last smile (where I could see the remains of a fang stills struggling to change back) before they shut all the way and she started to stride down the halls.
I stood from my desk and did the same with my doors. "Anytime," I whispered to myself as they closed in on my empty classroom.