Japanese Story

Matt Writes a Story – Finally.

Outline started 1/1/2009
found good website – http://www.advancedfictionwriting.com/art/snowflake.php
1/2/09

revised the two main characters and created the father character.
started expanding the one paragraph summary into a paragraph for each sentence.
1/7/09 – adding something based on the practice I had at kendo tonight.  See end

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New beginnings from old endings

One sentence summary – A ronin finds a way to become the lead counsellor to a country prince who becomes emperor.

One paragraph summary –
A ronin, disguised as a gardener, saves the life of son of a minor daimyo.
Recognizing him for a warrior rather than a gardener, he is banished from the property to an outlying piece of the daimyo’s land.
When he gets there he realizes that the daimyo is recruiting other ronin and training them.
It’s only after he moves through the ranks and begins to be given more and more responsibility that he realizes the force is being built to overthrow several other daimyos.
He chooses to expose the daimyo to a neighboring leader, but is caught.
He manages to escape and goes to the shogun to report it, even though it means death to him for betraying his lord, but he goes anyway.

The character’s name – Hiroki/Oki
A one-sentence summary of the character’s storyline – a man, set adrift by fate, finds himself being pulled along by fate he doesn’t understand.
The character’s motivation (what does he/she want abstractly?) – he simply wants to belong, being Ronin is embarassing.  Having to resort to manual labor, even moreso.
The character’s goal (what does he/she want concretely?) – to somehow redeem his manhood and become samurai once more.
The character’s conflict (what prevents him/her from reaching this goal?) – society won’t let him become samurai once he’s disgraced himself by outliving his former master.
The character’s epiphany (what will he/she learn, how will he/she change? – he realizes that shame and honor are not tied up in who you stand for, but what you stand for.
A one-paragraph summary of the character’s storyline
Hiroki is a captain of the guard for a minor lord in an outlying province.  He has never married and has never wanted to.  His sole purpose has been to serve his lord and to keep his lord safe.  When his lord is murdered right under his nose, he panics and flees.  Now he is not only shamed for being ronin, but cannot continue his pursuit of sword perfection.  Putting aside his family sword and honor, he retreats into the role of a gardener, using his talent at flower arranging to become one of the gardeners at a neighboring daimyo.  Attending to the family gardens one evening, he redeems his shame at his old masters murder by saving the life of young 8 yr old Takeda Hotaru, the son of the Daimyo Takeda.  Takeda notices his stance and carriage and ‘dismisses’ him, sending him to the Forest Camp, where he is training other cast off Ronin.

The character’s name – Takeda Hotaru/Tonbo
A one-sentence summary of the character’s storyline – a small boy trying to live up to the expectations of his powerful father.
The character’s motivation (what does he/she want abstractly?) – he just wants to be noticed for the things he can do, rather than the things his father thinks he should do.
The character’s goal (what does he/she want concretely?) – to be more like Hiroki
The character’s conflict (what prevents him/her from reaching this goal?) – as much as he respects and loves Hiroki, he must do as his father says
The character’s epiphany (what will he/she learn, how will he/she change? – he cannot go against the tenets of society and yet he cannot kill Hiroki
A one-paragraph summary of the character’s storyline
Saved by the gardener Hiroki, he knows that there has always been more to the quiet man.  Spying on the gardener, he finds him practicing with sticks of bamboo, and blackmails him into teaching him.  He is practicing some of the moves that Hiroki has taught him alone in the garden the night he is attacked.  He manages to fend the attacker off until Hiroki can confront and defeat him.  When Hiroki is sent away, Tonbo continues to practice the basics of the sword, beginning to understand the “extension of the man” and the sword being “part of him” simply by doing the repetitive movements.

The character’s name – Takeda Tenshi
A one-sentence summary of the character’s storyline – The overlord of a small province, Tenshi is the youngest son of a cousin to the emperor.
The character’s motivation (what does he/she want abstractly?) – To be granted what he feels is his right – more power.  He doesn’t want to be stranded in obscurity in the backwater province.
The character’s goal (what does he/she want concretely?) – Consolidation of the surrounding territories, given to powerful merchants who should never know the title of Lord.
The character’s conflict (what prevents him/her from reaching this goal?) – The class system dictates that he must behave within certain perameters, but he is unable to increase his armies.
The character’s epiphany (what will he/she learn, how will he/she change? – he won’t.  Not until he is given his due.  Nothing will get in his way, including the murdering of his own son, who is weak in his eyes.  He will eliminate Tonbo so that he can put aside his wife and marry another for more political gain.
A one paragraph summary of the character’s storyline
Slighted by his father when land was given to his sons, Tenshi, the youngest, was given the least.  There just wasnt any way to split up the land any further.  Through deft manipulation of marriage, finances, and favors, he has loosely consolidated control of a large part of what is supposed to remain split amongst his brothers.  The outlands have always been ignored by the majority of the populace and Tenshi uses this to build up armies of Ronin to use as threats against some, use as physical reminders that the Outland Prince has more then most notice.

Expand one paragraph plot
One paragraph summary –
1) A ronin, disguised as a gardener, saves the life of son of a minor daimyo.
The man is tending the garden, pulling weeds, trimming hedges, and setting stones correctly in the families outer garden.  He works quickly and efficiently, roaming here and there for things that take away from the tranquility of the garden.  His clothes are the non-descript brown of a laborer, almost as dark as his sun browned skin.  As he searches, he not only takes in the physical sights, but also listens for things out of place – hints of vermin invading the peace and order of the garden.  A small smile hints at the corners of his mouth as he catches the sounds of the sliding steps of the boy, practicing in the inner garden.

2) Recognizing him for a warrior rather than a gardener, he is banished from the property to an outlying piece of the daimyo’s land.
Examining his hands, the Lord notices that the callouses of a laborer are there along with the telltale signs of a warriors hand as well.  The man is unconscious, laying across the body of the would-be assassin.  He orders his guards to bring the man inside, and tells the doctors to treat his wounds and ensure he is awake when he returns from his journies to visit his holdings.  When he wakes, the Lord dismisses him and sends him to the outlands.

3) When he gets there he realizes that the daimyo is recruiting other ronin and training them.
4) It’s only after he moves through the ranks and begins to be given more and more responsibility that he realizes the force is being built to overthrow several other daimyos.
5) He chooses to expose the daimyo to a neighboring leader, but is caught.
6) He manages to escape and goes to the shogun to report it, even though it means death to him for betraying his lord, but he goes anyway.

1/7/09 – When he goes to the camp after being dismissed he is thrown back into his training.

Hiroki walked down the long road along the ocean until he began to see signs of civilization.  His sandaled feet shuffled along, kicking up dust in the hot summer afternoon.  When he had been found out and dismissed, he thought his life had ended.  As a warrior to be dismissed by your Lord is bad enough, but to be dismissed as a servant was something he could not live with.  Ensuring his knife was secure in his belt pouch, he had left the Takeda compound and headed towards the Emperors road.  He was formulating a plan of how to regain part of his honor by committing seppuku, but did not know whom he could ask to be his second and did not have the money to pay for someone to do it.

When the guard slipped the paper into his hand while brusquely pushing him through the front gate, he was convinced that he would not endure this life time any longer.  “Maybe the next life will afford me something better” but he knew it wouldn’t happen like that.  He read the note when he was out of sight of the gate and dared not believe that it could be possible.  Not only to lift a sword again, but to swear to a Lord again.  The brash words by Takeda san were a ruse.

He hurried along the road looking at the town from the rise in the hill he was now walking down.  It was a wooden walled town, as he looked more closely, he realized it resembled more of a fortress than a town.  Men in groups of 20 were marching in different formations in the fields surrounding the town, some in mismatched plain clothes, some in matching uniforms, the leaders of which had wooden poles strapped to their backs with the companies insignia emblazoned on it.

The training camp, for that is how he saw it now, was ordered and neat, a large opening in the gate possible if the large gates were swung wide, but at this time of the day, they were mostly shut and traffic would move in and out of a much smaller gate, more like a doorway to the left of the large gates.  Walking up to them, he was stopped by an armored guard.  The man was shorter than he, but stockier and looked like he could put the long yari, or spear, to good use.

“Name?” he intoned in a deep voice.
“Oki” he said softly, holding out the piece of paper the guard had given him.  Along with a map, and a note explaining things, it also was a pass to get into the fortress.
The guard nodded and grunted, looking at the second guard and holding up his open hand, curling it into a fist.  He then went back to scanning the hills and shore.  A second man opened the door and jerked his head in the direction of a squat low building just across from the doorway.  As Hiroki passed thruogh the man shouted, “NEW SWORD!!!”

Several things happened simulataneously.  A man to his left yelled “Catch!” tossing him a bamboo shinai, like the ones used in kendo practice.  A split second later a blood curdling yell came from the building across from him as the door burst open and a man came charging out, a sword aloft in his hands.  He swung as he got close enough right at Hiroki’s head.

“Men strike” Hiroki thought in an instant, knowing that he was aiming right for the top of his men, or head.  He quickly gripped the shinai and sidestepped to his left, parrying the wooden bokken, and shot forward with his own men strike.  Based on how the man had handled himself, he didn’t expect the strike to land, and it didn’t.  The man lashed out at his wrist in a kote strike shouting “KO TEH!” quickly followed by “MEN!” as Hiroki blocked the wrist and head strikes in quick succession.  The man’s demeanor suddenly changed as he sprung backwards, a large smile lighting his face.

“If you can stop my strikes that quickly and with that little effort, you my friend, are in the right place.”  He stood facing Hiroki, the sword pointing at Hiroki’s throat.  His stance was that of a kendoka, left foot with weight on the ball, the heel elevated and the right foot planted flat on the ground.  He made no move to continue the attack, in fact dropping the tip of the sword to the right as he slowly took a step forward.

“Someto!” he said, bringing the sword into kamai position, his left hand on the bottom of the sword about a fist width from his belly, his right hand under the tsuba.  Hiroki realized he was wanting to formally bow to finish their ‘match’.  He moved forward and crossed the tip of the sword with the man, dipped it slightly and brought it back to “Taito” position on his hip, ‘sheathing’ the blade and finishing the match.  He took the proscribed 5 steps backwards, bowing once more saying “Arigato Gozaimasu”.

The man tossed his wooden sword to the man who had given Hiroki the bamboo sword, and holding the bokken and shinai he bowed and left.

The attacker stood with his feet spread shoulder width apart, balance slightly more on his right foot than his left.  Hiroki recognized it and going down on one knee, bowed his head.  “Toyotoma Ryu Sensei?”

The man burst out laughing and strode towards him.  “That’s the second test, but you look like you’re about to fall down so we’ll do that later.”  He held out his hand and helped Hiroki to his feet.  “Come, lets get you fed and rested.  I have a feeling your not another orphan Takeda has sent me to train to hold a spear”.

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