Snippets of writing: Dec 2015

The desert here was crumbling; it was the odd edge of the dunes, where the sea of sand went into the jagged edges of rock, where the canyons were swept under by the wind. Moel had to slow down, pick her way through the jigsaw of cracks and ruffles where the wind had carved the striped stone into intricate shapes. This was one of the more beautiful areas of the desert, she thought; the arches rose above her, falling down towards the dunes, waves of frozen sand in the early dawn light.

I smile. “Come out, come out, wherever you are…”
And the monsters come from the shadows.

You know how writers are able to write the most exciting things, yet treat it as monotony? Horror is an everyday pursuit to them; romance holds no thrills, daredevil stunts are simply mundane.

…stories of Orei; the sand, the heat, the mirages and nightmares dunes that shifted overnight; the desert tribes, night folk with their pale skin and large eyes, who lived underground and travelled in the darkness, and the day folk with sun-blackened skin and colourful clothes, the usual traders for Ziricon’s merchants to deal with. Orei had Belmont, the city of fire, built with the rock that soaked up the sun and let it back out at night, creating a frozen fire in the darkness. Orei had the singers and the players, the musicians who could produce haunting tunes from their many-stringed instruments and who could weave words as effortlessly as a loom made the intricate fabrics they wore. Orei had culture, and beauty, and the desert’s fire and ice.

The melting look in his eyes tells me exactly what he’s trying to convey, and he gets a smirk back. “I didn’t think wizards were allowed to fraternise with the troublemakers.”
“We’re more than able to make our own trouble, ma’am. I like a little help occasionally.”

Despite what you think, the end wasn’t one blow. It was a thousand small cuts, none of which ever quite healed.

“So where are we going?”
He glanced at her. “The Archivist’s Centre. I’m going to introduce you to Maryam and get you registered.”
“But…”
He stopped. “Freja, you don’t have any other plans. It’s not something you have to commit to – if you don’t get a job at the Relay Centre, then you can always do something else. But I want Maryam to see your work.”
“But…” She’d have to show her work. Officially. “Tur, I’m not good enough!”
“Yes, you are.”

On worldbuilding and bandits

Beehive Inn
The Beehive Inn, Edinburgh

So, despite a badly bruised ankle that meant I could only hobble around*, we spent a chunk of a rainy Sunday sitting in The Beehive Inn and, in between a very good halloumi & chips and a roast dinner, did some worldbuilding for the GreenSky series.

My current story, Golden Trust & Treasure, is about a reluctant surveyor in the desert. I’ve now got to the point where I’m filling in chapters, and previously I’d put ‘bandit attack!’ as the description for one. “Yeah, that’d make a good chapter! Let’s do that later!” But now I have to write it…and I’m crap at action. Ho hum.

Enter my two resident troublemakers and a whole bunch of questions! Essentially, what they wanted to know boiled down to the W’s: where, who, what, why and how.

Scribbled-mapWhere involved a scribbled map, trying to explain the geographical layout, and did also feed into why. Where is Haller being sent to survey – in itself, quite explicable – but also where are the bandits? And why are they there? What’s the benefit of that territory? Why has no-one cleared them out? How can they survive in the mountain desert territory?

Who is both the bandits and Haller, so are the bandits organised? Are they after Haller himself (unlikely) or the caravans – in which case, what are the caravans carrying? How many of them are there? What type of people are they?

And also the caravans…are they composed of people, wagons, animals, powered vehicles? How do the trade routes around the world work? (Hence some of the scribbled lines on the map). What technology do the various areas have? Even if they have technology – coal or clockwork to power their vehicles – would it reach that far across the desert? After all, if you can’t use your power then you’re better off not having it. If that’s the case, then what are the caravans travelling for?

And then, specifically for the scene, what happens? With a particular set-up, what’s the likely course of events? What does that say about the caravans and Haller and the bandits? What would make a better story? What would make a better series of events for the ongoing story? Do we need ongoing effects or just a one-off incident to prove a point or emphasise a particular thing?

And now I have lots of ideas! But I do still have to sit down and write the damn thing. Ho hum.

*I’ve bruised it somehow and couldn’t put much weight on it. Jokes have been made about beating too many people up…

NaNoWriMo 2015: the first six days

Welp, I’m done.

The first draft of Crystals & Communications, the 9th novella in the GreenSky series, is finished. It’s standing at 32,762 words with 14 chapters, and as I tend to add things into later drafts, that’s perfect.

This was my original prompt for myself, which has turned into my blurb until I write a better one:

A figure, sitting at a desk. There’s a spark-light overhead; the glass is slightly warped, and it sends odd twists of light across the room. The figure has one headphone on and their chin resting on their hand. The other is holding a pencil, resting on a sheet of paper. They’re listening. Waiting for messages to come through.

Communication. Morse code. Voice. Sending messages down the wires, under the sea, through the mountains; across the continent, the distance, the ages; from person to person, from mind to mind, from heart to heart.

I’m now going to leave the draft; I have to let it settle before I go back to it as a second draft, mostly because I’ve written it so fast. However, this doesn’t mean the end of NaNo for me. I’m still aiming for the 50,000 words, and as I’m over halfway there I actually have a chance this year!

I was debating which book to work on next. I had originally intended to work on Book 6, Desert Sands & Silence, as it really needs finishing – and then 9 took over my imagination. I was thinking this morning and did intend to work on Book 6 again, but Golden Trust (Book 8) has sort of taken over my brain in the same way…so I think I’ll let it win!

“And you’ll get a new leg.”

Haller’s chin jutted. “Nope.”

The bureaucrat’s expression solidified. “It’ll be better.”

“I like mine.”

The man made a mark on the form. “You’re getting one anyway. Any other questions?”