Tag Archives: Dresden

Dresden Files: Black Sea fight

“How far?”

I shrug. “Another couple of hours. We’ll transfer in Istanbul, and then…” I frown, trying to think of my geography and overlay that into the NeverNever. “Black Sea, from the way this is pointing. North side of the Black Sea. Do you want to do that path?”

The Winter Knight’s eyes are glinting. “Oh, yes.”

The Black Sea section of the Ways, as the Knight and I have both experienced, is not what anyone else would call fun. It’s the fastest route in this area, but it’s mountainous, lawless, and populated by wyldfae who didn’t want to declare for Winter despite their obvious talents in the area. In short, it’s a barrel of laughs.

Our resident Warden looks unimpressed as we step through the rock crevice someplace in the Istanbul area. “This path is not the best, Miss Dollface…”

“But it is the fastest,” I tell him pointedly. “And I’m under instructions from the boss.”

Grey laughs for the first time. “Then we will prepare for the danger, Warden.”

I see a pack of goblins lurking as we step onto a rocky path that threatens to crumble beneath our feet, and I’m aware of shadows flickering once or twice as we walk along it. It’s a pack of wolf-beasts that decide to go for us; I suspect their hunger has driven them into terrain they wouldn’t normally consider. I sense them ahead and slow as the Knight catches up, sensing the same thing I do. I shake my hands out, wishing I had my gun, and he’s readying a snowball; we both automatically turn, backs to the other, guarding our respective sides. For all my annoyance at him, we make a good team.

The first wolf to show itself gets a snowball straight into the muzzle, knocking it backwards with a yelp. I take two out on my side with tiny, well-placed balls of heat that act like bullets, and then turn to see what everyone else is doing. The Warden is just pulling his sword from the head of a wolf that’s slumped on the ground; Grey’s still strolling along, unconcerned, but Marta’s glaring ahead of us.

“Come on, get over here,” I call to them, dancing away from the wolf circling me.

“Incoming,” the Knight snaps, busy with a wolf that’s gone for his throat and instead met the icicle-claws, and I loose off two more shots. There’s a yelp.

“Missed one,” I say irritably, watching it break into a lope towards us.

“All the more for me!” my companion says gleefully, slamming a blast of something that looks like a condensed blizzard into the leaping wolf as I roll aside. The pack’s starting to back off now, whining, uncertain if this prey is worth it.

I let the Knight finish playing while everyone else catches up, stepping a little more quickly over the rocky ground, and then we’re moving again. The Warden keeps his sword out, acting as rear-guard, and I let our Winter psychopath lead with his icicle-claws. The pack shadows us for a little while, but I think their losses – and the occasional snowball that the Knight lobs in their direction – makes them give up. They fade off into the darkness as we transition out of the mountains to a rocky plain.

“How much further to the gate?” the Warden asks.

I consider it. There’s two Ways that intersect up ahead, but I don’t know which one is going to be most useful…or if neither will help. “Winter boy!”

“What?” he yells back from his position on a rocky lump, scanning the path ahead.

“Come and make a portal for me.”

“Why?”

“I need to check where we’re going.”

“After him.”

I stomp up to the Winter Knight and glare up at him. “You know spells change in the NeverNever. Get me back to the real world in a useful place, or I’ll step through and take my chances, and then you’ll be screwed.”

“Fine!” he snarls back at me and hops off the rock. “Aparatum.”

“Thanks, darling,” I coo at him.

“You’re pushing your luck again,” he mutters sourly, but does step through after me.

It’s mid-afternoon in the real world from what I can tell. The Knight folds his arms and glowers around at the beautiful view over the Black Sea that’s spread out in front of us as I wait for the tracking pendant to catch up with where I am.

“That way,” I say eventually, pointing.

The Winter Knight flips his phone out of his pocket and finds the map. “Hmm.” And a grin starts spreading across his face. “Sevastopol.”

Snippet: Snark and Spice

An argument from the Dresden Files piece I’m currently writing. I may have been grinning slightly while writing it…

“So, how long have you been with the Winter Court?” [Warden] asks me conversationally.

“Longer than I’d like,” I respond, leaning back in the diner’s padded booth. I can smell bacon and coffee, both tempting even though I only just ate. “What’s your area?”

“I’m based in Philadelphia. I knew the Knight anyway, so the Council volunteered me when he asked for someone to help.”

I’m grinning. “Wow, you pissed someone off real good to make you help him.”

“I’d say the same for you,” [Warden] responds with a smile in return.

“So how are you tracking the wizard?” Marta asks me. Well, it’s more of a demand.

I raise an eyebrow at her. If I was following my instincts, I’d be playing nice right now. But today, I’m being Winter – and there’s also no sodding way I’m admitting I somehow got hold of the wizard’s Name. It’d be opening a can of questions I’m not going to answer. “That’s a need-to-know basis.”

“We need to know.”

“No, you don’t.” I grin at her. “You just need to know that I can track him.”

“I don’t think you’re trustworthy,” she spits.

“That’s not your call, lady. It’s the Knight’s. And I have him,” I kiss my fingers and waggle them at her, “wrapped around my little finger.”

She scowls. I wonder how long it’s been since she had to deal with anyone quite as snarky and defiant as the Winter Court tend to be.

“So what did the Knight use to bribe you here, then?” I add. “What’s your stake in this?”

“I’m a hunter,” she snaps, but it looks like I’ve hit a nerve. She’s going to tell me things because she’s determined to prove her point. “I can kill anything.”

“Oh, so you’re just ghoul fodder.” I really should be getting her on-side, but this is too much fun.

“I’ll do better than you will, bitch,” she spits at me. “I’m your protection. I’ll leave you to the monsters on the Ways if you don’t respect my skills-”

“Not unless you want to be lacking a guide.”

“You wait.” She’s glowering. “When you’re screaming because a ghoul’s got your leg-”

“You wish! Winter ain’t weak.”

“You’re a weedy, powerless airhead without any idea of what you signed up to.”

Well, that’d hurt if I was the Changeling I look like. As it is, I grin. “Well, if we’re talking looks, let’s start with yours. Thuggish, stupid and prone to smashing things?”

She proves my point by grabbing [Warden]’s coffee mug, I assume aiming to throw it at me. [Warden] puts a firm hand on her arm and extends the other hand at me. “Enough! We are a team. We have a common goal, and this is not assisted by squabbles.”

Marta’s still glowering at me, and I give her a sweet smile. She looks like she wants to spit at me, but luckily the Winter Knight saunters back in from making his phone call at that point. “We’re all set. Ready to go?”

“Where are we going?” the quiet man at the end of the table asks. He’s been silent throughout the squabbles, although I did catch an amused smile lingering on his lips for most of it.

The Winter Knight grins broadly. “Where else? New York.”

On the need for read(ers)

It occurred to me yesterday that some of my writing actually suffers through lack of a reader, and it was an uncomfortable thought.

It’s the Dresden Files fanfiction that’s my target. It’s not a series that’s likely to ever get a reader through a wide variety of factors, the major one being the amount of time and effort it would take to rewrite and make it readable by anyone not familiar with the game we’ve played…which is everyone! So my Dresden writing doesn’t really have a reader, in that I don’t write it for anyone. It’s lovely in some ways in that I can cut a lot of corners, but that’s also bad practise. I don’t have to make sense or have a good plot. I work in a world where a lot of the details are assumed, a lot of the story is based on previous events or plotlines, and a lot of the world is borrowed. I don’t need to explain. I don’t need to expand. It’s incredibly personal and, possibly, incredibly lazy.

I also write two personalities that are antagonistic, but one of my current personal niggles is the feeling that I don’t write them differently enough. Whenever I meet the person who’s character one is based on, I wonder why I can’t quite get it right; they are always that little bit snarkier, nastier, different. Well, of course they are – they have their own version of the character in their head, and they aren’t me! But the character in the story is filtering out of my brain, and it’s always going to change in the course of that. I just wonder if I’m letting it change too much.

Usually, I wouldn’t be bothered. I’ve actively encouraged anyone reading this blog and writing to just ignore their audience! But for this…

I should add, for anyone who has read this blog and is currently frowning at the screen, that I do currently sort-of have a reader. But they don’t do feedback (and that’s not a comment on the reader, because I knew that when I shared the work). And that’s what I miss. I like getting “yeah, it’s good” or “this doesn’t make sense” from my alphas. I like getting “work on this” from my betas. And for this world, I’m worrying that I don’t have the ideas, that my plots are all the same; I don’t have the levels of danger I need, and I don’t have the possibility of failure. I focus on the relationship between two characters, possibly to the detriment of others, and…argh. Some of it’s just personal worry and paranoia, I know, but some of it’s probably legitimate fears. And because I don’t have the feedback, I can’t tell!

Ugh. So, there you go, another minorly paranoid thought from a writer’s brain. But it is something that does affect writing, and affects it in a major way. That’s why I have other readers for my writing – they see things differently. They point out the plot holes, tell me I’m boring, say what they like, give me feedback. And for the story I’m currently writing, I am really noticing the difference; not that it matters for this, but…

On writing characters and plot

I have just realised, as I’m writing (yet another) piece of Dresden fanfiction, that I can write characters and plot separately.

At the moment, I don’t know why my characters are in a certain place. There’s something happening that’s forced one to call in the others; there’s an enemy, a journey, and an event. But the details don’t matter.

Which is weird. They sort of should, shouldn’t they? But the little interactions between characters don’t necessarily need those events in place. I know that on a journey they’d stop in certain places, which provides moments of interaction; I know there would be fights with unconnected enemies (the NeverNever is nice like that); I know there would be moments of snark and chatter, moments of tiredness and quiet, moments of life and action.

I’ve got one baddy and some backstory there, so I’m able to write sections of that plot. But again, that doesn’t necessarily have to be connected to the main one. It just feels as if I have two threads running; one is my characters, the other is the plot. I only have one that I’m weaving so far, but there’s space for the other one to drop in. I can put the action scenes in later, I can decide why they’re in a certain place. I can write little snippets of things that I think will help, but I don’t know if they’ll be used or not.

I’m just randomly musing here. It’s an odd and unusual way to write, certainly, and it’s definitely not recommended by most writing how-to’s. But sod it, this is me. I write how I want, and for some reason, this works for me. I’m enjoying it.

“There are incursions of beasts and those from Outside our realms,” Tiny says. “They do threaten our borders, and our Queen requests your recall to deal with this matter.”

And in that moment, every detail that we’ve learned, every little strand, suddenly snaps together. Summer’s trying to recall me, and do it urgently enough that they’d send Tiny to an unknown location and use a tracking spell that’s both uncertain and dangerous. My travelling companion is worried enough to volunteer not to spill the beans on a message he knows nothing about. Warren’s here, doing something big, and there’s forces involved that I didn’t know about or expect. I’m suddenly convinced that whatever is going on is deadly, horribly serious.

I glance at the Knight standing next to me. “A feint?”

His face is set, brow creasing with worry. “Yup,” he comments laconically.

I turn back to Tiny. “No. I’ve got urgent business here.”

“Thou wouldst disobey our Queen?”

“Tiny,” I say quietly, “what this comes down to is that you can’t force me. You have to obey our Queen’s demands. I don’t. This is important, and I’m staying on this trail.”

On writing and the invisible audience

I’ve never really had problems with writing and wondering what people think of it. I know that it does trouble some writers a lot; the criticisms of an invisible audience, the second-guessing of what people will think, the reinforcement of your own doubts that it’s not good enough. But usually, I just write. I can shut out the voices for my GreenSky work; I don’t have the invisible reader in my head, and it’s all me. I still get the doubts, but they’re my doubts.

But – due to some unforeseen circumstances – I’ve actually picked up my Dresden work again, and I’ve now got two situations where I’m fighting the voices.

The first is that the whole lot has the potential to be read, and that’s fairly nerve wracking. My Dresden work is a lot more personal than my other writing, and I didn’t really write it with an eye to an outside reader. I’ve been re-reading bits this weekend, but I’ve resisted the urges to change things – mostly because the urges tend towards “delete everything”! I will stress that granting access to it was entirely my choice, and the logical side of my brain is quite happy ; I’m interested to know what the reader will think and I’m jumping at the chance to show a large chunk of what I think is good writing to someone. But it’s still scary!

And the second side of that is that I have started a new story. Previously, I didn’t have the presence of a Reader there…but now, I know someone could potentially critique it. And holy hell is that terrifying! I’d never understood the writer’s problem of criticisms from an invisible audience until now, but I really, really get it. I’ve got a little voice over my shoulder telling me that it’s muddled, makes no sense, is stupid, the characters wouldn’t do that, what on earth are you writing…and it’s made worse by the fact that I character-write so my plot tends to be lacking until I work out the details, which I admit makes for a muddled first draft and usually a muddled second one too! My logical brain thinks I’m stupid for listening, and so far it’s winning; I know it will all work out eventually if I just keep writing. But sometimes it’s like arguing with jelly. You can use logic, philosophy, common sense and simple yelling, but the jelly will still sit there and wobble.

So…for anyone fighting with that invisible audience, listening to criticisms that no-one else would ever think of and even less say; I’m cheerleading for you. Ignore the worries. Drown out the doubts. You have a good story in you! It might take a while to straighten out, but you have to give it a chance. Just get those words on the page, let the characters talk, and write, write, write!