I wrote a scene recently that will never go into the book- Avalon and Colin playing a song Avalon had written called Shatter Me. Shatter Me is one of my favorite songs by Lindsey Stirling, and I feel that it fits Avalon’s character perfectly. This scene was mostly a fun exercise to get me out of my writing funk, but I mentioned something about it over on Instagram and a bunch of people told me to post it to the blog, so here we are.
I also recognize that I talk about my characters a lot, both in my blog posts and on my Instagram and Facebook, but I never introduced them properly. So I think I’ll do spotlight character posts whenever they strike my fancy :)
Without further ado, allow me to introduce you to Princess Avalon of Segretti!
Avalon is one of my favorite characters that I’ve ever created. She’s so strong-willed, and she knows exactly what she wants and is completely unapologetic about it. When I started writing The Song of The Sword, it started with Avalon being a total bitch to my main narrator, Colin, before slowly letting down her walls and becoming his friend. It was so fun to write and was giving very “enemies to lovers” vibes. But then I started thinking about the timing and logic of that situation- if Colin had been a guard in the castle for 12 years and grew up in the castle, he would know the royalty, and he would not be afraid of interactions with them. He would know the reason behind Avalon’s sharpness- she’s lost nearly everything, and her life is set up for her to lose even more- her freedom once she is forced to ascend the throne. And if Colin’s parents passed at the same time as Avalon’s mother, they would find comfort in each other because they were friends.
I also started thinking about how I wanted people to perceive her and I realized that the way I was setting her up was all wrong. Often, strong independent women in our society are labeled with any number of hurtful words. Avalon is none of those things- she, like many women, knows she doesn’t want a marriage with anyone, and she doesn’t want children. There isn’t something broken in her because of that. So I reframed my mindset- Avalon isn’t mean, or a bitch; she’s determined, steadfast. And yes, a little spoiled because she grew up not wanting anything physical. There is definitely a certain personality that comes with being a princess.
But she and Colin are best friends and have a really sweet brother-sister relationship. He sees her for who she is, he meets her where she is at on any given day, and he’s one of the few people in her life that hasn’t asked her to change. He also isn’t afraid to clap back when she’s being particularly difficult- their arguments are hilarious to write most of the time because he just jokes his way through her cruel words until she’s laughing too. I wrote at one point that the only person in the kingdom allowed to say any number of four-letter words in front of Avalon is Colin.
Colin and Avalon not getting together romantically was something that was really important to me, and it’s a big reason why I brought in Astrid to be a love interest for Colin because I didn’t want to take Avalon’s secure knowledge away from her. I didn’t want Avalon to be adamant about what she wanted only to be “fixed” by Colin and realize that the things she’d denied for so long were actually wonderful and lovely. I don’t intend to ever give Avalon a romantic partner because she doesn’t need one. She is strong and wants to live a solitary life.
I do think that a lot of the angry front that Avalon puts up, especially at the front of the novel, is a defense mechanism. Up until the climax of the novel, she thought her sister was dead. It was with Astrid’s arrival that I let her softer interior show, the one that she really ever exposed to Colin on occasion.
Here is the scene I wrote from Colin’s perspective about Avalon- full disclaimer: this was purely for fun and will never be published; I do not intend to plagiarize Lindsey Stirling’s music or lyrics and wrote this as a way to get to know my characters better.
Avalon walks up to me, her arms full of paper. At a closer glance, it’s sheet music. “Hey. Can you meet me in the recording studio in like an hour? I need you to play a song I wrote on the violin.” I raise my eyebrows. “You’re not playing it?” “I’m singing it.” This floors me. “You’re singing it-” “Yes, oh my god, it isn’t a big deal,” she snaps, impatient. I grin. “Okay. I’ll meet you there at three. Can I look at the piece beforehand?” She shakes her head. “I need you to play it cold.” I nod reluctantly. “Okay.”
An hour later, I’m in the recording studio, a violin far nicer than my own raised to my chin as I warm up. Avalon puts a tablet with the sheet music on the music stand in front of me, and I admire her font-like handwriting. “Shatter Me, huh?” Ignoring me, she takes her own lyrics into the sound booth, putting on a pair of headphones as I grab my own pair, synching them to the tablet and the violin so that the pages will turn as I reach the end of them. Technology never ceases to amaze me.
“I mixed the backing tracks already, it’s just the violin part, I highlighted your measures," Avalon says, tucking her braid over her shoulder. And she hits play on the background tracks. I look down at the sheet music, following the lines until it’s my turn and Avalon starts singing.
I see the stars through a mirror”
I raise my bow, playing a delicate response to her words. I already like the way she’s written this.
Beats 'til the song disappears”
Another call and response. She’s mixed the backing track beautifully. I can hear a dozen different instruments contributing to the warm, slightly disconnected melody, including her own distinctive violin playing. She’s also put a ticking clock in the background. Glancing over at her, I see a raw emotion on her face that almost makes me take a step back. She grips her microphone stand, falling even deeper into her music in the leadup to her chorus. My own part speeds up, short staccato notes that startle me into paying more attention, a slow grin sliding across my face at the complexity of the notes. Out of the corner of my eye, I see Avalon’s left hand conducting me and nod so she knows I’m paying attention. I forget sometimes that while Avalon does play the violin beautifully, her real background is in conducting and composing. You can tell that’s where her passion lies as well.
My heart shudders at the rawness of her voice. Avalon can belt.
And then the beat drops, a sharp plunge, and I hiss a breath through my teeth as I fight to keep up with the ridiculously fast backing track. From the semi-impressed look on Avalon’s face, I’m not doing a half-bad job, but I can’t look at her for long as my fingers fly up and down the neck of the violin, stopping at the end of each measure to oscillate my fingers and create vibrato.
Once I’ve played the chorus and beat drop another time and am more familiar with the notes, I take the time to really pay attention to Avalon as she scream-sings “shatter me” again. Her lyrics are heartbreakingly sad and trapped, her voice unrestrained, uninhibited. Her face is twisted with emotion as she sings, her eyes shut tight. And she has a far better voice than I ever could have guessed.
There are several lines of music that are just backing track. I take that time to turn to her and mouth wow. She grins, a wild passion in her that I rarely see. I turn back to the music, leading her into the last chorus. At the last second, though it isn’t indicated in her music, I kick the looping pedal at my feet and play the melody over my staccato notes from earlier. Her eyes widen slightly, but she’s clearly not upset, far too engrossed in her music to flip me off. She holds a note for over 14 beats and I huff out a breath, fully impressed. I push my way through the last speedy beat drop and we’re both breathless by the time the song is over. I turn to her sound booth, turning on the microphone so she can hear my voice. “Shit, that was fast.”
She laughs. “You shredded those choruses. Awesome job.” I try not to blush- anything close to a compliment from Avalon is super rare. I know she won’t want me to dwell on it, though.
I play the staccato notes leading up to the chorus again, smiling in appreciation. “God, this part was so hard and fun to play.” “It came to me first. Then the beat drop.”
“I could kill you for making me play that cold.” She grins. “I knew you could do it. Because I can do it, and you’re-” “Better than you.”
“I was going to say at my level,” she says, sticking out her tongue at me. “But I will say- I can play it, but you played it without even looking at it first. When did you get so good at reading music?”
This is what I was talking about- Astrid meets me where I’m at when we play music together; Avalon forces me to meet her where she’s at to prove I’m better than I think I am. Unfortunately, she’s almost always right. But it’s one of the reasons that I enjoy playing music with both of the girls separately- they each give me a completely different experience. Comfort and pride.
The honest to god answer to her question is that Astrid has been making me learn how to play the piano and that requires far more of my attention than the violin does, so I’ve been forced to learn to read sheet music perfectly, but I will take that secret to my grave. Deflecting the question, I look back down at the sheet music.
“When did you write this?” “Last night.”
I stare at her. “You wrote a four-and-a-half minute song with lyrics, multiple vocal and instrumental backing tracks, and beast mode violin solos…in one sitting?” She shrugs nonchalantly. “I couldn’t sleep. I started at about 5 PM and worked until noon today. The lyrics took less than an hour, I just needed to mix and master it.” I step out of my sound booth as she steps out of hers and we both sit at the desk outside the recording studio. Avalon types a few things on the computer, tangling her words, my violin, and the backing tracks into one beautiful song. We listen to it in silence, and when I look over at her, I see tears sliding down her face. I silently put my hand on her knee, and she sighs, blinking as more tears fall.
When the song is over, I turn to her. “Do you want to talk about it?” She inhales deeply through her nose. “No.”
“Okay. Then let’s talk about how badass you sound. God, you never told me you had a voice like that.”
She blushes. “I don’t really. I just got into it because it was my emotions.” “Those ‘shatter me’s were so fucking raw and emotional. It was incredible, Avy.”
She grins. “Thank you.” “I’m gonna make you write a lyric album now.” She laughs out loud. “Absolutely not. Nice try.” “You just made me play the fastest sequence of notes I’ve ever played. I get to push you out of your comfort zone too.”
I look down at her notebook, where she’s scrawled the lyrics haphazardly, notes written in the margins to help her compose. “Do you really feel this way?” I see something in her face close off, but she fights to open back up, something she never would have done six months ago. “Um…yeah.” I sigh. “Shit, Avy. I didn’t know it was that bad.”
She pulls her knees to her chest- she’s swapped the gown from earlier today to leggings and a sweater, her hair braided down her back. “I just feel so trapped sometimes, Col.” I nod, my arm sliding around her shoulders and she leans against me. I hate this for her, and my protective instincts have reached a familial level. Maybe it’s been me getting close to Astrid, but I’ve also spent more time with Avalon than I have with any of my brothers up at the wall over the last few months. She’s always felt like my little sister, but we’ve grown far closer since Astrid arrived.
She suddenly raises her head from my shoulder. “You changed my music, asshole.”
I burst out laughing. “Oh come on, it made it better.” She grumbles but tucks her head back into my shoulder. “It did.”
We both startle when Astrid enters the studio. “Hey! You okay,” she asks, looking at Avalon. She knows Avalon isn’t particularly cuddly- it takes a lot for her sister to put her head on my shoulder. Avalon jerks away from me, wide-eyed. “Astrid- we weren’t-”
“I know,” Astrid interrupts gently. “You’re best friends. You’ve been best friends for 12 years. I’m never worried about that, I’m worried about your tearstains.”
Avalon sighs, wiping her eyes. “Yeah, I’m good. Do you want to hear what we were working on?” Astrid nods, dropping a kiss onto my head. “Hi, love.” I smile, looking up at her, accepting a second kiss, this time on the lips. “Hey, babe. I missed you.” “Gross,” Avalon says, not unkindly.
We all laugh and I pull Astrid onto my lap as Avalon types a few things into the computer, playing the song again, this time pulling up the video of us in our sound booths as well. Astrid sits forward, peering at the computer. “Wait, so Colin’s playing and you’re-” “I pirouette in the dark-” Astrid whips around. “You’re singing?” Avalon ducks her head, wincing. “Yes…”
Astrid turns back to the computer, her fingers subconsciously lacing with mine. I kiss the back of her neck and Avalon shoots me a look that tells me she’s positively begging us to get a room. I watch the sisters listen to the piece and Astrid glances back at me during the bridge. “Did you play this cold?” I wince. “Can you tell?”
She shakes her head. “Not from the sound, but you look terrified.” We all laugh.
“I was. Your sister wrote the chorus and beat drop in beast mode.”
How'd I do? This is my first time putting something I've written from that story up for the world to see! If people enjoy this, I'll definitely put up some deleted scenes in the future.
Thanks for reading!