Opening Scene of Sword of Chaos

This is how my novel starts. At least in this draft. It could be a prologue as it occurs a few months before the main events of the story. However, as you will see, I have several scenes introducing characters and setting up for the “inciting incident” as it were. I might make the first chapter as a series of shorter scenes, like this, or several small chapters at the beginning.

ButterflyQ  Let me know what you think in the comments.

A thunderous crack of lightning awoke the darkness, and ripped the sky open. Two women, drapped in silken robes, struggled to stand in a small boat on the once still waters of Lake Nans. The rip loomed above them hemorrhaging chaos and swirling as it grew larger.

The younger woman chanted and moved her arms in great arcs, her fingers tracing out complex patterns as she held the rift in the Void open. Her mother held aloft a large sword wrapped in leather. She watched the gap grow, waiting for the right moment.

Before she had a chance to hurl the weapon into the rift, an enourmous shadowed hand reached out of the darkness. Grotesque fingers groped around, searching for their target.

The women learched in the boat, startled, but not completely shocked by the intrusion. They had prepared for this night ever since the Elder brought the sword to House Moon. They knew the spells, the optimal location to perform the ritual, but they knew this would be dangerous.

The boat rolled harder and the women lost their footing. The mother called out to the Elder on the far shore. Her eyes grew wide as the ghostly hand grasped at the air mere inches from her face. She nodded to her daughter and, before she could change her mind, braced her legs against the sides of the boat, and launched the sword toward the shore where the Elder stood, stiff and focused in meditation.

Instantly, the Elder’s hand darted out from his cloak, catching the leather wrapped sword and swinging it over his shoulder in one fluid motion. His wrinkled fingers never losing their grip. He returned to his stance but began chanting.

The younger woman’s chanting took on an urgent tone and the rift began to change, the vortex reversed and turned counterclockwise and the hole into the darkness shrank as she sealled the fissure. Enraged, the disembodied hand smashed down onto the boat, grasping for the women, and sending the splintered remains flying to the opposite shore. A huge wave rushed outward, sending waves cascading to the shores of the lake.

Suddenly, as if satiated, the rift imploded, swollowing everything, the noise, the chaos, the shadow, with a resounding pop, as if nothing had happened.

The lake became unnaturally still.

 

Sword of Chaos Update

I am in the editing process, as you may have seen in my previous post, on my current novel, Sword of Chaos. I don’t think I need to tell you, but editing is not easy, especially editing your own work. Cutting out scenes, sentences, and even just words that you’ve labored over can be, well, downright traumatic.

Honestly, I’ve been putting it off a bit, too much, really.

While I have come up with some ideas to enhance certain scenes, enrich a character or subplot, I haven’t done much to actually edit the manuscript. Let’s just say progress is slow.

Part of me wants to make my story rich, with vivid characters and detailed scenes. But then there’s that little voice in me, taunting, Naw, it’s good enough. Who needs all that detail. You know the story.

And there’s the point. I know the story. But I want to share it so that reader gets to know the characters like I do, cries when they suffer, sympathizes with their desires, becomes enraged at their betrayal. I want the reader to get lost in my world, waiting to see what creatures will be hiding in the forest, guessing what treasure might await beyond the Void, and hoping that the myths and legends are true!

The road to publication is long – and being made longer by my delaying – so I am toying with ideas to share at least some of my story with the world. Some writers share chapters of their work regularly (wasn’t The Martian originally published online that way?) I am not sure if that is the best way for me, as I tend to go back and change parts as the story evolves.

However, I feel I need some accountability, at least to myself.

My hope is, without spoilers if I can help it, to find ways to share snippets as I edit, for your comment and/or enjoyment. So please, if so inclined, leave constructive comments when I do post excerpts. And I will do my best to make regular updates…

Writer Resolutions

I’ve never been into resolutions. Especially since I never keep them. Usually, they are about dieting or exercising. I have no motivation for such things.

This year, I want to resolve to write more, write better.

But what do those really mean? That is the question, isn’t it? The answer is personal.

For me, writing more is writing every day, even when I don’t feel like it. I will commit to editing at least a chapter, or writing for 30 minutes instead of _______________ (fill in the blank with any other recreation).

Improving my writing requires reading. Reading fiction. Reading writing books. Reading advice blogs. I also want to get a journal that has prompts or writing exercises. Maybe get a critique partner or group. I am not sure if I can commit another 30 minutes every day. I have a 9-year-old and a full-time job, so time is precious.

Beginning next week (I’m going to Las Vegas this weekend!) I plan to attend a Meetup group “Shut up and Write” (which also has a website: http://www.shutupwrite.com/). As far as I can tell, the group basically comes together to, well, shut up and write for an hour (after getting some coffee and being social for 15-30 minutes). They have a meeting on Fridays not far from my work, so that will be something I will put in my planner with ink.

Hopefully, I will be able to stick to my guns this year.

ButterflyQ

What are your writer resolutions this year?

Yesterday

We all have those days.

affection appreciation decoration design
Photo by Carl Attard on Pexels.com

Yesterday, I was feeling so sorry for myself. So jealous of everyone else. I forgot that we are all in this together.

Thank you to all the people who have supported my efforts, great and small, and put up with my moods.

I am really not that bad (I don’t throw things or lie in bed for days), but I can be a drag to be around. I will try not to let that Grinch out too much any more.

Reflections

It’s the end of the year. Almost.

One week to go. It’s that time when people look back on what they’ve experienced, look forward to the next year, maybe resolve to do something better or different.

New beginnings. Sure, most resolutions won’t last long, but they make people feel renewed, inspired.

I feel drained. Lost. Alone. What lies behind me are half-hearted attempts, wasted efforts, and unfinished dreams.

I’ve always been the ‘glass half empty’ type, and I feel like even that half is dribbling away. So many setbacks and struggles in 2018. So many tears. And yet, I have so much more than so many others, why do I wallow so?

It is never enough. Someone else has a better website, more followers, cleverer messages. I don’t post regularly, write daily. My time is limited by a full-time job, and yet I should be thankful I have a full-time job.

I have an awesome son, so why do I feel lonely? I know I have so little time to cultivate friendships, online or in real life, yet I am sad when I see all the threads on twitter I haven’t had time to join, see all the fun they’ve had.

Jealousy. Self-pity.

Goals and dreams lie unfulfilled. I haven’t revised my first draft, while others are getting agents and publishing. My plan to lose weight derailed weeks ago.

Garbage in, garbage out.

That feels about right. I tell myself that it’s okay, I don’t have to live up to someone else’s standards, I have too many other responsibilities to put more on myself. But then I see how much others have accomplished and I feel small and insignificant. What I have done is never enough.

I am never enough. Someone is smarter, faster, prettier, has more friends. Everything about me that I have accepted as who I am, that I have told myself is okay, flies right out the window and crashes on the pavement.

But if I only think positive thoughts, I will become positive.

I keep waiting.

Last Day of NaNoWriMo

Today is the day. The day to turn in word counts and collect your “winner’s” prizes.

Not for me. This wasn’t my month for writing. Last year I made sure I wrote every night after work. But last November my job allowed me the flexibility to leave early. My son played a bit more Nintendo than I usually permit. This year I work until 6 pm, commute an hour, and my son was diagnosed with epilepsy in August which requires medication that has to be administered at 7:30 pm.

Sure, I still could have made time. The time I spent writing this post could have been better used throwing words down for my NaNo count. They would not have been very meaningful; I haven’t felt the inspiration.

On a good note, I received some feedback on the first draft of my fantasy novel. Now that would have been a good thing to work on, but of course, inspiration strikes at 1 am and I can’t really get up and write at that hour, so I scribble a few things in a notebook and hope I will recall the scene when I return to me notes.  I want to finish my novel and get an agent and see it hit the New York Times best seller list (hey, I have to dream!) but it certainly will not be this month.

Ironically, I have been reading more. Finishing a book by D.L. Timmerman, reading a collection of fantasy short stories collected by John Joseph Adams and written by George R.R. Martin, Ursula K. Le Guin, Kate Elliot, and others. Picking up a classic and trying out a few new authors. More than anything, I am finding my place in the landscape of fantasy writing. What draws me in and keeps me reading? How can I find that tone in my writing. Looking at the balance of description, dialog, action, and reflection. Watching how they handle POV and develop voice.

Most importantly, where will my novel live? It is epic fantasy, with multiple characters, overlapping stories, and complex histories, but is it more like Tolkien, Sanderson, Jordan, or Martin? Should I spice it up to meet the tastes of Martin fans, or try to appeal to the YA crowd? My novel currently lives in the middle,  with both adult and younger characters, no graphic sex, and I would venture to say the violence is tame compared to most. Reading current fantasy author’s like Sanderson, it does appear to be a market for such works. Would this genre be “just” fantasy?

November hasn’t be a total loss,  however, I did not accomplish the 50k word novel this year. So congrats to those that did and I’ll see you around. Maybe next year book two of my epic fantasy will be my NaNoWriMo 2019!

 

Writer’s Block

I don’t know if I’d go so far as to say I have writer’s block. More like life block. The times when I want to write I am either driving, working (been so busy at work I can barely think straight) or have real life things to do.

Many of the writing guides and tips I have been reading have said that ‘real writers’ make time to write. I guess that is true for many things in life, if it’s important enough, you make time.  There are only so many hours in a day, and when it comes down to it, I’ve never been the starving artist type, or sacrifice-everything-else-for-my-craft type.

If that makes me unworthy of someone else’s idea of what a writer “should” be, than so be it. I am old enough, and been through enough, to know not to “should” on myself.

What is important to me gets done. One day that might be writing some words on my novel, another day it’s helping my 9 year old with his math, once in a while it’s staying up way too late to get that chapter out of my head. Often, it is just to get through the day with my sanity intact.

I am okay with that.

Last year, I won NaNoWriMo. It was my first year participating. I had to push at the end. But I did it. This year, the drive to write 50k words in 30 days isn’t there. And that’s okay, too. Because I know I can write a novel, beginning to end, even if it needs some serious editing  afterward.

Come to think of it, I have a novel I need to start editing. So I’ll be off now. I might not “win” NaNoWriMo this year, but I’ve already won so much, with new friends on twitter, new skills, and new confidence. I’ll get my 50k words in throughout the year.

Who knows, maybe I’ll get a few thousand in over Thanksgiving.

A Little Discouraged

Day 8 of NaNoWriMo and I have written maybe 4 days. I guess I could be working on my novel instead of my blog post, but I’m at work, and it is a lot easier to jot down some thoughts about my day than focus on writing a story.

If you haven’t guessed by now, between this blog and my “everything” blog at wwdovestudio.com, I am not one to just vomit words onto a page. I might not be as eloquent as Tolkien, or as mysterious as Gaiman, but I don’t like to just write whatever comes to mind. I think about most sentences. So, that makes it difficult to write at work. Plus, I’m at work, duh. My boss is nice, but…

I love my job, don’t get me wrong, but we all have days where we wish we could be doing something else. I don’t know if I could survive as an author, even if I got signed with a publisher and had a series with a book a year. I’m not sure I could crank out a book in a year. Or maybe I would need more than 1 book a year to survive. Anyway, it’s a fantasy that I could just write, and do book tours, and do all the “fun” stuff we dream of when we think about being a successful author.

Of course, I would probably spend my day on twitter and get in trouble with my agent or editor.

I will share a little more of my story, since I left you hanging last time…

This time was different. The stench was unfamiliar. Half of my shirt was soaked with fresh blood and the bottoms of my jeans darkened from the liquid.

I never wore white anymore – blood doesn’t wash out. Jeans just look old and worn, but white is asking for trouble. That’s the last thing I need.

My head still throbbed, dragging me back to the present.

Looking around I realized I wasn’t far from the interstate. Keeping to the treeline, I oriented myself toward the motel and started walking. Maybe I would be lucky and no one would see me. Part of me wanted to know, but it was too risky. Somebody’s cow, or pet, the questions, accusations, leaving town. It’s better to just get back to my room.

Light mist refracted the headlights of the 18-wheelers as they barrelled down the interstate, creating an eerie glow in the fog. The motel sat on the side of the interstate, next to the only gas station and diner for 20 miles. The weather report had forecast snow, but somehow it was still 45 degrees at 1 am. Too warm for upstate Pennsylvania in January.

I made it back to the motel unseen. Careful not to drip on the concrete, I used my clean hand, fumbling the keys in the door.

 

Day 4 Was a Bust

Not that kind!

I didn’t do any writing. I know – gasp. I cleaned house, put Halloween decorations away, dusted and mopped (well, Swiffer-ed), and hung up pictures I’ve been meaning to get to for a month. I think I was stalling. It’s not that I don’t like my new project, but I think I want to be editing my fantasy novel. Ugh, I haven’t gotten any feedback, yet.

Since I’m only in the first draft, I suppose I don’t need to wait for feedback, especially if I know what is missing or what plot holes need filling. Still, it feels disingenuous to ask my friend for her opinion then not wait for it.

So why am I not working on my new project? I don’t honestly know.

My original concept had me going more scifi than straight up thriller. Now I’m rethinking that path a bit. I love Robin Cook books and how he mixed in the medicine and science into his thrillers. I want to do that, and with more of a scifi twist. At the same time make the story clever enough that it’s not like an old cheesy scifi movie. (Nothing wrong with them, I like a good cheesy scifi movie, but I don’t think it will work to make a good story in this century.)

Anyone else out there *cough* stalling on their new project? How do you work on something new when you really want to be working on something else, maybe something you know you need a break from?

My Fantasy Novel

Just so you know my mind isn’t always so… dark, here’s a little piece of my fantasy novel in the works:


Gwyneira was absorbed in the book and did not hear the door open. A shadow crossed her vision and she nearly dropped the book as she spun around with her dagger gripped in the hand.

Niall jumped back. “Whoa, it’s just me.”

“You should know better than to sneak up on me!” Gwyneira was glad it was only Niall, but her heart pounded in her ears none the less.

“You should know better than to sit with your back to the door,” he said chided her. “I could have been our good man Mabon.” He reached out and lowered her hand by the wrist, not touching the dagger, but he got a good look at the weapon. The blade was extremely thin, black as obsidian, and the hilt was grey steel embedded with diamonds and a smokey grey gem at the top.

When she noticed the Commander studying the dagger, she pulled away from his touch and quickly stashed the weapon out of sight in the chest.

“So that’s what you’ve been hiding from me? A dagger?” he snorted, thinking it almost hilarious that his queen would hide such a small weapon from her Master at Arms. He knew she had a weapon,
and had used it back at Eldred’s house, but didn’t realize it was the big secret.

His attitude made Gwyneira unusually angry, “What I do with my possessions is none of your concern, Master Wulfstan!”

At the sound of his formal title, he straightened up,
and proceeded to follow protocol. If she was going to be a bitch, he could play that game. “Will that be all, Your Majesty?” Without waiting for a response, he pivoted on his heels and left the room. On his way out, he slammed the door, instantly regretted it.

Gwyneira stood there dumbfounded, tears rolling down her face.