It’s another ‘You know how it goes’ . You’ve finished your latest work, truly finished. The end was reached the several re-writes, editings, and other associated efforts have been navigated. (Including the occasional episode when the book cover was being put in place, the artist adds a little something and you thought ‘Wow, I have to fit that into the narrative!! ‘ And under the spell of the image you unravel some little part……). All this attended to by one means or another your work is then made available to the public and belongs unto the Ages.
Thus, should follow an interlude of rest and repose. Working at a factory pace does not suit Creativity or Perspective. A writer should not find, one morning their writing has become a chore they feel they must do. Writing should either come from the joy or the restlessness to see ideas taking shape as words. A ‘Because’ not a ‘Have To’.
So time to look at a Fantasy idea. There might be promise there. I would attend. I started.
And stopped. Basically, although there were a couple of amusing bits, it was not working; the word ‘Re-hash’ kept cropping up whenever I read the day’s output. Ah well, something to be left for another day….
Time to revisit the Quantum Space Opera project. On to the opening chapter. There was that word ‘Re-hash’ again. Seems I had invested so much time and effort into my previous project my creativity was still running on the loop. BlogBattle challenges were welcome, making me move elsewhere, but left to my own devices I was running in that loop. The one hope I had was another word… ‘Screwball’ as in 1930s and 1940s Comedy Films, in short when stuck, look for something outside of Serious. There was inspiration here because when scrolling through the Audio Book selection of SF, and seeing the endless lists of Genocidal Aliens, Ancient Long Forgotten Evils, Another Colonial Marines / WH40K Space Marines series one phrase kept popping into my creative mind when relating to the evil protagonists…. ‘Their heads fell off’; it broke the monotony. Thinking there might be a start of a way out, I pondered on this phrase. Now obviously such a gem had to be used sparingly, or if the pace was very fast with mocking frequency. The plot still eluded me though. Even the great Robert Sheckley would not build an entire book around heads falling off, maybe a chapter or paragraph here or there but he was a master of his art / craft. No, the whole structure needed more thought. Still, it was a start.
Buoyed by this slender hope, the musing phase started, as to what would prompt such a statement and where would the exclamation or discovery fit it. Musing on such an aspect does not require a serious frame of mind; irreverently speculative would be a better turn of phrase. Such a state is of course very volatile and unpredictable. In consequence it was with some delight, although not surprise, that bursting into the musing came a small scenario drenched with very inappropriate and excessively farcical humour based on a misunderstanding in verbal translation. There were inane sniggers, for it is a fact of Male Human Nature that no matter their age, life experience, social standing or professional achievements no man ever rids himself of that adolescent streak. However, this ‘situation’ arose, the attendant, events leading up to, social interactions, ramifications, motivations etc were causing the dust of musing to coalesce. The original slender thread of the plot began to take on shape, birthed by an urge to place both comic ideas into some context. They would only be additions of course to a deeper and wider narrative, but in doing so gave some basis and inspiration for getting there. ‘The plot became the thing, wherein the comedy I could bring’ (sorry about that Mr. Shakespeare- no apologies to you Hamlet, to me you always were a royal pain)
Now the words and the possibilities are forming with some ease. Being of the ‘Pantser’ school I have not much of an idea where this particular project is going to go. But if I did, where would the fun in that be?? No, I’m just going enjoy the whole uncertainty happy in the security of the knowledge someone, somewhere, will be involved in a humorously unfortunate incident and some group with suffer from sudden detachment of heads.
Oh, in case anyone was wondering. The Quantum aspect? In comparison with starting a plot for a book, simply no trouble at all to fit in.
Here’s to Inspiration, no matter where or how the dear muse should turn up.
And I do believe I have inadvertently created a template for a book cover.
I must go back to a narrative again, to follow the Muse’s eternal cry
And all I ask is my laptop and an idea to guide me by
(Thank you John Masefield for Sea Fever)
You finish one project, it’s taken you quite a while, you’ve experienced all the varying emotions, you’ve fought through the ‘Why Am I Bothering’ fug, you’ve edited or negotiated editing, all typos etc have been sought out, a book cover was navigated you have striven with marketing and finally the work is ‘Out There’. Then you might think to yourself ‘ I deserve a rest,’
Of course you do
And yet to visit another nautical bit of plagiarism from a jolly yarn.
‘Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November* in my soul [a few more ‘whenevers’ have been omitted Melville being Melville ] …….. then, I account it high time to get to my paper and laptop as soon as I can’
In short. Do writers ever rest? Did not one plot have away in its unused corners threads and motes which begged examination? Was there not a minor character whose shadow would dog your heels and whisper possibilities? On some journey, be it physical, of the imagination, or amongst the other tangles of human consciousness was there not a murmuring of creativity beginning to coalesce? Or did something just come into a writer’s head, a modest literary version of The Big Bang?
Ever wonderous, and tortuous is Creativity, calling you on. Embrace the Restlessness, it requires you to fulfil.
Would we have these feelings any other way?
*Actually those are qualities which make November my favourite month. It marks the finality of the Summer’s assault on my senses – I know, singular. Anyway it has set loose my own restlessness- two projects are beckoning. One SF which requires a dip in Quantum Physics and Mechanics and might take some time (Quantum and Time, now there’s a paradox in the making). The other, that’s a follow on from my previous work, a generation later, and I have not the faintest idea what the plot might be, but one of the Muses is insisting I get writing. Ah good ol’ stream of consciousness, what little nuggets might there be amongst all the silt which will come forth from the dredging.
I suppose it may have been the Summer again. Or to be more objective my attitude to the summer season. The heat, the bright sunlight, long daylight, activity even muted by Covid; these do not suit me. Of course at 70 one should not wish life away, years, months even days should not be squandered and yet winter draws me ever on.
Summer brings out the worst in me, particularly this one had me in a very combative mood and willing to engage in arguments on social media, on all manner of topics, just because. All very undignified and not the least bit profitable There was an effort not to smear this mood all over WP and keep it where it belonged – FaceBook. Hence my general absence from WP
Happily there was a smidge of constructive dignity still working within. This, of course being attention to my own writing project. If you have followed my blog you will know about my ragged progress and less than serious approach to marketing
Although the last volume of the trilogy was in theory completed one year ago, the re-write process beckoned. This, personally is an enjoyable stage, aside from the obvious corrections, tinkerings and checking continuity in all its manifold ways, there is the joy of realising the overall intentions were surviving the necessities of a narrative. On this particular jaunt there was an urge within to re-visit the previous two volumes and work through them one last time to ensure they led in a sort of cohesive manner unto the third. Thus 2021 has been a year in which three large (If you are doing epic fantasy ‘large/long’ is something of a requirement) volumes were aligned. Yet another series of re-writes, I like to muse over the situation that should these books ever achieve noticeable sales status how early purchasers could brag they have ‘first editions’ and argue the case for the writing or narrative of those. A writer whose history does not contain even the words ‘some modest success’ should always keep an element of whimsey in their head (either that or take marketing and allied disciplines seriously)
On the whole the process has been yet another enjoyable and enlightening process. AS WE all know Word has many failings. Yet Read Aloud along with the ability to shift entire chapters around like chess pieces do carry their own particular appeals, also a sense of The Unexpected. In the case of the former this would be the sudden lurch into another gender’s voice, like some intrusive boor blundering into a conversation you are having with a friend, while Word throws up a frantic yellow bar warning in a woefully inadequate attempt to deny all culpability. When it comes to the latter shifting portions of the narrative might look fine at a particular juncture, but they could have a tectonic effect in The Continuity much further on down; by then the original revision is so embedded into the narrative it is necessary to give way to the impetus set in place back at at Chapter Fifteen and amend with much vigour to the events laid out in the first (or second) draft at Chapter Fifty-One. These are something of a melding of the Artistic, Imaginative and above all Inventive in the business. Some folk enjoy crosswords, siduko, chess or card game puzzles. for me the challenge of the re-write is the thing.
The Third Volume nears final (only three re-writes) completion, the artist who did such stunning work on Volume Two’s cover is on the case. So maybe the final work will see the light of Kindle by the end of the year.
Ah me, this is where I should have been spending more time than was spent. Three volumes completed, a joy in itself. But soft, I have tarried long enough. Time to break camp and set forth on the final clime up the last 35,000 words.
Daughters of Circumstances. Arbiters of Consequences. (Being Volume 3 of The Precipice Dominions)
Blog posts, articles and entire books have been written about how a writer should approach the creation and maintenance of characters. Then there is the other industry where folk examine famous works of literature and the characters therein from all sorts of angles; along with the motivation(s) of the author.
When you have passed the toe-twiddling stage at the water’s edge of the sea that is your project and are now wading out, determined to swim to the other side…
At some stage is there part of you in one or maybe a few of the characters, reflecting various personal moods, views and the rest of the complexity of the average person?
Is there a little secret part in which you indulge in living through the character’s life. A place you can go to to shake off the usual frustrations of the daily life? Be someone else
Are you The Supreme Being of the world, moving everyone around as you see fit on a Four-Dimensional chessboard?
Having introduced these folk to a narration are you now running after them waving a document and crying after them ‘Plot! Don’t forget my plot!!’, only to have at least one of them turn around and smiling benignly say ‘But dear writer. Have you not read the sub-text? Do keep up,’
Is it a case of a combination of all or some of the above?
The ‘Just for Marketing and Giggles’ sojourn was probably not the most responsible venture in the history of Book Marketing but it was a great deal of fun. Probably too much fun than is good for a very low profile and sales author to indulge in but there again a ‘smidge’ of fun does help the old writing processes. Footling around also opened up a whole new learning process in page layout and image usage.
But there comes a time when the writer must put aside the frivolity and the set sight upon the content of the book (or books) in question so I’m going to be working on the site dedicated to the trilogy
Basically musings on writing fantasy and commentaries on the Hows and Whys of this trilogy, a place to go if you want to find out more about the books, the characters and the content.
And when anything springs to mind about writing in general or other subjects then that will turn up here.
Such as in all that is the Muses why did the enigmatic entry ‘4.4’ appear one-third of the way through on my hard copy of Of Patchwork Warriors, I do hope it was something which happened in the last week and not when I uploaded it on Kindle. Curse you ‘WORD’
Hello everyone. Firstly I hope you are managing to cope as well as you can with all the trials and troubles in your world. They do seem to be very testing times.
Anyway, allow me to introduce myself to those of you not familiar with The Precipice Dominions stories, those being Of Patchwork Warriors; Our Skirmishers of Lace, Steel, and Fire and the concluding work Daughters of Circumstances. Arbiters of Consequences. My name is Trelli, as I am an orphan of unknown parents the folk looking after me never did get around to giving me a surname and until recently it never bothered me much. However under the influence of adventure, consequential excitement and of course ever the present Ethereal, in a fit of exuberance I titled myself Trelyvana Waywanderer and folk did seem to find it easier to cope with. It must be one of those quirks, that people do like a bit of the grandiose, at least when you are expected to place your Sanity, Integrity and Life all at risk for the good of…. a lot of people.
I am here as representative of the three of us. That is myself and my very good friends Arketre Beritt and Karlyn Nahtinee . Although Karlyn says she should be known as Karlyn Beritt now, but Arketre says in view of the situation there is a case for her being named Arketre Nahtinee. And then the whole business gets very tangled, so I say folk should read the three books and decide for themselves. (I understand that last statement could be read as ‘Marketing’- which Merklin says……Oh dear now I am getting ahead of myself and digressing; bear with me and I’ll start again).
Due to the events subsequent to Daughters of Circumstances. Arbiters ofConsequencesArketre and Karlyn are somewhat preoccupied with more pressing personal matters whereas since I am now in the heady world of politics it would seem to be a requirement to have (1) An Opinion on; (2) Advice to give about; and (3) The need to explain, everything you come across, which is where this, (I believe the term is) ‘Post’ originates.
I understand those of you who follow Roger’s blog will be aware the third volume is completed and awaiting a book cover. As I am very familiar with the frenetic pace at which he uses keyboards; which is very rarely in synchronicity with his thought processes and also his inclination to use very convoluted prose I thought it would be helpful to read back over the two previous volumes for errors in typing, transmissions, syntax and of course continuity, so I stole away a copy of each of the volumes and with feet up on my favourite sofa, a few small snacks and a large pot of herbal brew started off.
Oh dear, I thought. Although that maybe a bit of an exaggeration, more a case of ‘Hmmmm’. It’s not the errors in typing, apparently those seem to be something quite unavoidable unless you hire a team of at least five dedicated proof-readers and then there is the risk they can get into a fearful argument between themselves over punctuation and other rules of grammar, thus holding the whole business up.
No, the problem was, whereas he did get the general narrative correct, in a linear fashion, as it were, some of his details were quite incorrect.
For instance: When Arketre had her first conversation with Zweideutig and introduced us, while the discourse between the two went on Karlyn and I did not get into an undignified wrestling match which Arketre threatened to break up with a bucket of dirty water. We were simply having a spirited argument over my reading matter, how I had appropriated the said works and whether Karlyn had the right to go rummaging through my possessions, this was halted when Arketre in her best LifeGuard sergeant style required our opinions on a temporal displacement. I asked Roger how on The Good Lord God’s World he had decided his account was the correct version of events.
‘Well Karlyn told me-‘
‘Karlyn told you?’ I exclaimed ‘You’ll be believing one of those ridiculous YouTube or FaceBook accounts next!! I have told you before. Watch her eyes! If she blinks swiftly twice and her glance darts to the left, she’s up to mischief . Oh really Roger! You are a good sort, but you are too willing to listen to the words of the more lively folk,’
Then I had to take him to task about his assumption I had certain physical feelings for Wigran. He tried to defend himself by waffling about ‘subtext’ to which he was told in no uncertain terms to ask me about sub-texts as I had had to deal with them all, in the whole three volumes! Honestly, you would have thought someone of his age would have known better!!
Basically I have undertaken to guide him back through the account. For the reputations of everyone, be they good or bad, and to give full credit to those who played fleeting but important parts in the drama. As I understand it; historians in your world are doing this all the time; they write a book, new evidence turns up and every so often they write a new edition with some alteration or other. The basic story and the important elements, though, all remain the same.
I cannot comment on what he has written about the more private interludes Arketre and Karlyn shared. He has said they were written based on Arketre’s accounts and with her looming over his shoulder; he added this was most unnerving. She said he had left the best bits out, trying to type with his eyes shut was the most damn fool thing she had ever seen and if he had spent less time looking for references in a Thesaurus he would have got the thing done in half the time. Apparently there were other observations but he was not repeating them. And having found out what he had been writing Karlyn would not speak to him for days afterwards, which itself may have been to his advantage. In any case on this topic he has my sympathy. Personally I thought he has been most fayre in an adventurous wryly tasteful way on the subject of my own later experiences and so have forgiven him for being such a noddle over Wigran.
I am not very angry for it has been fun to read back over the adventures and he has been very sympathetic to us all but in matters of import, as these are to us, it is necessary to get the record straight.
Sometimes your have one volume with a very complicated plot which requires a foundation so the reader isn’t pestered with blank spaces which are filled in some stage down the narrative by one character suddenly breaking into a quite out of context explanation or the sudden desire to give a back story.
There again you may have embarked upon a multi-volume work and are up to your syntax and continuity in characters of various degrees of importance, plots, sub-plots and conflicts of interest. Whereas you may be living a portion of your life in this world you should not expect your readership to so and thus remember whether this character vital to Volume III had had a walk-on part in Volume I.
In these situations The Prologue is a useful device. If you are writing Fantasy…
… it is almost a necessity otherwise you do have characters indulging in long explanations to another character which in normal circumstances the latter would not require, being it is hoped familiar with the nuances of their own world. In this genre you will have enough of a problem fitting in those explanations or discoveries which are generally unknown without having to include a running commentary for the reader. Prologues set the scene. Many successful authors use this device. As did many before The Bard and contemporaneous with Shakespeare. For instance he has a Chorus in the opening Scenes of Henry V and in Romeo and Juliet and you should not quibble over the fact this is one person, it would only sound confusing to have a lot of folk saying the same thing. Thus, if you are paying attention you will have an idea of ‘what’s what’.
A prologue can take many forms, a piece of action or dialogue before the main narrative. Sometimes it can take the form of a potted portion of history, this type should be approached with caution, lest it morph into a style which would be better suited to a factual history book. I had this problem upon reaching Vol III of my Fantasy trilogy….
….. I was simply going to record because the overall plot was reflecting the many facetted aspects of conflicts political and military when more then two parties are involved. There was by then a great deal of detail swirling around and this begged a summary. So I tried a few ‘historical accounts’ by various anonymous writers and none worked (See above-History)
It then occurred to me, at least one character would be in a similar situation trying to make sense of everything. The natural choice was Arketre Beritt, being military and without particular ‘Ethereal’ Powers she would be short of the extra perceptions Karlyn & Trelli have, and since she was military would be wary as to where the next crisis might come from. Thus between us (I always work with the characters, they have a far better insight than I do) we put together an incident where she attempts to chart and list all the possible threats, influences and problems on the various horizons.
Aside from this prologue having an element of acerbic comedy, which is Arketre’s forte, it would also serve to show the reader just what a convoluted hoo-hah everything had become. This state of affairs being a visualisation of the tangle which became WWII, Vietnam in the 1950s-1970s, Iraq in the previous decade and any patch of European history between …..well any time …In short no one was every truly in control or genuinely working with each other. We decided italics would work best to illustrate when she was writing or maybe having particularly vivid (polite alternative) thoughts.
Thus Arketre and I give you…The Prologue (aside from the initial physical scene setting and Arketre’s brief look-back, left out as not truly pertinent to the post). The romantic ending is deliberately left in as that plays several very important parts in the narrative….No, not The Relationship in general, causes for banter, noble sacrifice, tensions and scenes of an intimate nature. You need the book to find out…
……. Late night in the town of Yermetz. The air chill, a reminder Spring was still young. A figure seated at a desk, candle flickering due to a draft whose source still evaded detection.
As satisfied as she was Beritt was not inclined to be complacent and expect things to go on this easy. There were wars brewing, wars happening, wars in places far away and wars right under your nose, most folk could not see those last sort of wars. Beritt was realistic enough to appreciate she could only see a fraction of them at any time, so all the more reason to make sure she would be alert to anything coming her way.
It was a simple task really. Sit down with a large sheet of parchment, in the centre draw three circles with their first names written therein, then around them draw more circles with the names of all the organisations and people she reckoned could affect them. Once this was accomplished draw lines from these others to Me, Kitlin and Trelli, then lines which would link each of the organisation or people to each other. It would be like drawing a map, on scouting missions, you just had to keep a clear head and be methodical.
She carefully inscribed their names, adding extra curves to the letters K-I-T-L-I-N.
Then those to watch out for. The LifeGuard were, naturally, her first choice, only she found herself writing under its big circle, smaller ones to hold the names ‘Centre of Command and Decision- Drygnest’, ‘Colonel Rachteg’ and ‘CaptainDekyria’, because all three had been in contact with her or once through Kitlin at differing times with differing messages or in the case of the amorphous first trying to incinerate her as an acceptable loss. She didn’t feel inclined to draw lines yet.
Next came ‘The Libratery’, she had once been a member; a humble Novice Devoted. Take into account Trelli had grown up in one of their orphanages and of late had been at their tuscatalian fortress Altoviani Settentrionali, working for them. Bear in mind, last year when seeking out Trelli, apparently Kitlin had annoyed a Surveyoress Coltello who Trelli reckoned was up to more than she seemed. Thus once more two separate circles under a bigger circle. The lines would certainly take some careful work. Then she remembered The Devoteds had Ragithyl sort of imprisoned or something. So she had to add his name, grunting to herself for he would cause a tangle.
She then wrote ‘Decoryx’ the land of Prince Atherlin. She had been based in his realm and Trelli came from there, and he seemed to be held in‘Fond Regard’ with The LifeGuard. Not actually pressing into her space, but worth putting down because for her that was where everything had begun. This was going to be more involved than she had reckoned. Some lines would have to bend all the way around the parchment if they weren’t going to get in the way of others. Some might intersect, she would have to think of symbols to indicate what sort of intersection. She frowned, sipped cooling coffee.
‘Elinid’ came next. That was where Kitlin originally claimed she had come from. Trelli had ended up there for a short time, so had Ragithyl while Wigran part of Trelli’s earlier life and deeply involved in the original mess now worked for The Silcs, and when you mentioned The Silcs it seemed they were in contact with Captain Dekyria. Another long line which would have to curve. Now there were several more circles all in a little huddle as if they were keeping a secret from her….Oh yeah and the Silcs were probably involved with that Coltello girl……Frib!
And while she’d been thinking of Kitlin, Custodian Meradat loomed into her head, he was supposed to be of the Office of Custodians (or whatever they called themselves) but didn’t appear to get on with his seniors. Also neither he, his seniors nor The Libratery didn’t seem to pay any attention to the Official top of Religion The Ecclesiastes. She scowled at the thought of the fresh number of circles ,which in a fit of resentment at this intrusion into her military and civil world she placed in the far away bottom right corner of the parchment ensuring they kept out of her way until she was good and ready for them.
Of course she had to include Terasonia. Of late the land had loomed large in the three women’s lives, this led to her having to include separate items for the Four Grand Dukes, the new prince, More-Than-He-Seemed Zweideutig and The Terasonian Church. Hoping they were no longer her problem she placed them off to the far left in the middle. Her modest amount of satisfaction at this arrangement soured when she remembered Osavus Trelli’s lover. He would have to be included because you could never tell with love what might happen. Beritt was glad she did not know the name of the girl he was betrothed to.
And when you mentioned Terasonia, you had to mention The Shadow Lords; she put them next to the terasonian collection. She couldn’t really remember if there was more than one lot of Shadow Lords, she decided not to press the issue. Between that grouping and her, Kitlin and Trelli’s names she placed the evil The Zerstorung, got more confused and found she had had to put a separate entry for each group of them, being Air, Land and Deep. She glowered at the name Ragithyl for his previous involvement with at least two of them and cursed him for reminding her of at least of the Silcs being, possibly attached.
At this stage she sat back and huffed, then grimaced in spectacular proportions. Several of the circles seemed to want to be somewhere else. Maybe she should have put all the names on small bits of other parchment and shuffled them about on the larger piece. The ever growing numbers of groups and characters caused her to relate it to the patchwork of The Oakhostian Empire. At this thought she ground her teeth, she now had to make one entry for The Oakhostian as an empire and one for the Emperor Loosiderue because if you were a LifeGuard you didn’t think an Emperor as half as important as the whole. An image of the court and the princes came into her thoughts. Princes made her think of Henrich (The Useless) of Valeneg (her current location) and to his eastern borders, Prince Habgierig of Krenderenberg of whom Prince Atherlin of Decoryx had very unfavourable opinions. More circles. More lines. She shuddered at the notion of just how many little coded symbols at the intersections she would have to make. She forced down other names bubbling up, some from the winter’s activities around Terasonia and others due to the possibilities of ‘unpleasantness’ on Valeneg’s borders. Irritation invited her to vent its smouldering by her petulant drawing on the bottom central edge of a very untidy circular shape into which she inserted the phrase ‘Other wobblers and sheep-chasers of the Nobility’
This done she dropped her elbows onto the table and her chin into her clenched fists, glaring at the confusion of circles whose numbers and arrangements had there been any further additions these might have been set to form a mocking grin. She looked to ‘Kitlin’ for comfort and fond memories, only to remember her bride had mentioned that evasive fellow ‘Krongar’ in terms which had suggested his own entry and his presence of course reminded her of the danger of Karlyn’s Shadow Lord’s family. With a growl she found a place far from any other and attacked the parchment, the circle was bigger than that of Loosiderue’s for whom, presently she didn’t give a mouldy carrot. She savagely addressed the circle, got as far as ‘Krong-‘ and the tip of the quill snapped off.
In fact due to impact coupled with the snapping the word looked like ‘Kronpf’ which was a type of honeyed oat cake favoured in the most central regions of the Oakhostian and suggested she might be the clerke for a bakery cartel which had a ridiculously grandiose idea of marketing.
Cursing quills in general Beritt turned her anger into determination. She had spent precious bedtime on this, her investment would not be lost. She would not cut up the parchment into strips for use in the privy, something Trelli disapproved of, saying used parchment aside from being rough left ink stains on places you did not want ink stains. Also Beritt resolved she would not take the infernal work outside to tear into small bits, an act which might provide interest to the local cats out on nocturnal patrol. No, she could take up her charcoal stick and draw fribbing lines!
But first to inscribe in angry charcoal letters ‘Kitlin’s Fribbing Interfering Family’. To anyone else a rather enigmatic statement perched in the top left corner.
After sometime of trying straight lines, curved lines, lines which went into loops and lines which gleefully forced her to have them cross over each other and despite the invention of symbols still became confused as to their direction; after the appearance of lines, which on other occasions, possibly when drinking wine, might have been seen to form amusingly vulgar shapes Beritt broke the charcoal stick in two and threw it at the wall.
Obviously the whole business was not one suitable to sane folk. Folk who when attacked by someone simply hit back until that attacker either ran away or stopped moving. Folk who stood ‘here’ and if they had to go ‘there’ went in the least dangerous way. Folk who once in a while would like a very simple set of orders which had a start and a finish. Folk who had not been transferred and thence trained to work in one of the select LifeGuard units. Such as The Office of Expropriation’sLeopard Company, whose members after rigorous training and only having a casual acquaintance with sanity, went out to spy on suspect groups or burn down suspects groups’ habitations or slay as many members of the suspects groups as necessary and slip away, without anyone noticing; all the while not really caring who the groups were or why this group had been selected when a lunation ago the group had been considered allies.
No, she would not scrumple up, stamp on, nor tear up or even bite chunks out of the parchment, each urge briefly considered as feasible. She would roll the whole stupid mess up, tie a piece of string about it and place in her backpack for later use. Either as a point of reference, or if the need arose to symbolically wave under the nose of any senior officer who asked her for a report, or in very trying situations she would threaten (at some later stage) to insert up their backside if they dared asked her some damn fool question when she was otherwise engaged.
The lesson learned. She would simply have to stay alert for danger from all sorts of directions, trusting only in her friend the ever maturing Trelli and, smiling fondly in the direction of the bedroom door, her darling, funny, caring, wonderfully unpredictable Kitlin.
And she would go back to the easier task of studying the manual on infantry company tactics which she had found in The Translator Pastoral’s library. He had feigned surprise at it being there. She did not ask.
Stowing away the parchment roll in a less than tender manner, and disrobing she padded to the bed. She paused to smile fondly at her Kitlin. Maybe the girl was of Shadow Lord’s blood. So what? She was still a beautiful woman, and Beritt congratulated herself on having ensured the girl had finally discarded those concerns, dismissing the pleas made by folk they had encountered who claimed to be relatives. Yes, her Kitlin had spouted off some references to her heritage and expanded on that to those Shadow Lords soldiers but that had all been a bit of an act to scare them. Of late discussions on the subject often ended in Karlyn assuming the role of a haughty princess and Arketre Beritt in other guises, all play with one objective.
To fall into bed laughing. And then for loving to begin.
All hers, made formal by a patronising yet useful ceremony. Once more relishing the irony Beritt then as she often did when Karlyn had gone to bed earlier stood and enjoyed the sight.
Her love was in deep sleeping, arms wrapped around Beritt’s pillow. She gently eased the pillow from out of the embrace; there came a whimper of protest, which she stilled by taking the pillow’s place causing a murmur of delight and a sigh of satisfaction. As she settled in, her Kitlin’s long, lithe arms slipped around her accompanied by a sleepy kiss on the back of her head. Beritt managed to get the pillow back in place and falling into the rhythm of Karlyn’s breathing, joined her beloved in sleep. These nights she didn’t even need the candle still burning. Her Kitlin’s arms would keep the doubts and fears away..………..
End of Prologue……
If it has worked readers will now be prepared for the lot of tangle, and a fair idea as to the number of who are doing the tangling (or untangling)….
PS: Any long term followers and kind supporters/contributors to my posts and books are more than welcome to ask for a PDF version in advance of the official publication: All enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org
The intention of this post is not actually about raising the profile of my trilogy nor the last part of it; the project and its characters are merely the anchors for some thoughts on the use of Violence. Bear in mind this is written from a Fantasy perspective so if you are a reader/writer of other genres you may feel some of the points need tweaking. Feel free.
Fantasy, particularly ‘Heroic/Epic rely on large swathes of violence as there will be Wars and there will be Battles, which considering Human History has to be a given. War is part of us whether we like it or not. Somewhere along the line in response to the Opposition or Villains of the narrative the central character(s) will take up arms, several times in fact maybe leading up to one climatic battle, when all may be resolved or some part left unsettled for future tales in a series. Once upon a time in much popular fiction there was a simple sort of tale when Good vs Evil had Evil defeated and that was that, which was about as Fantasy as you can get! Folklore and Legends actually produce a more realistic overview with morally ambiguous central characters and tragic endings. These days there are many Fantasy series rather than stand alones, either one theme such as Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn
Or very complex interactions in which very few nice folk ever appear (and if they do, they don’t live long)
All are replete with unavoidable violence, the authors’ mirroring Human history and maybe their views on society in general. Joe Abercrombie being particularly adept at tales dealing with the very gritty, dirty end of violence in which sometimes ‘Fantasy’ hardly rears its head. Take for instance.
Being intentionally set in a land similar to 16th century Italy and nary a rune or magic staff in sight- nor anyone you would wish to invite over for an evening. The central character (on the cover there) is not a nice person at all, but there again she does not have an idyllic back story.
As with many forms of fiction Fantasy is replete with its own set of genres and sub-genres and in the overwhelming number of works there will be violence of some sort, which since we are dealing with in some form either ambition and/or malignant forces, to repeat is bound to happen. How is this dealt with has many options and variations, from Good eventually triumphing to the very nihilistic someone walking off into the sunset in a devastated landscape, in which evil lurks under a rock (beloved of the writers of comic books/graphic novels and horror movies)- why people think the latter is entertainment is beyond me there are plenty of ‘live’ examples in the world we live in.
Anyway since the post has gradually, as it must, drift into my opinions of the subject this is where I use my own characters to ‘sound off’ (Actually I am fairly certain they do exist from in another part of the Universe and probably in another segment of Time, thus they have a great influence on my own views)
Heroic Fantasy loves kingdoms and empires which since the setting is usually based in semi-classical or Middle Ages to Renaissance settings is only natural. History indicates both could be quite robust in carrying on but were prone to their own shares of less than dynamic rulers who were propped up by systems or cliques of self-interest. Thus The Oakhostian. As an empire it is composed of princedoms, city-states and other set-ups. The current dynasty started off with one fellow who seized power by being physically ruthless against other nobles and the the emperor, albeit in a surgical way, so no rampaging. His son was more inclined to secret police and espionage. Neither bothered the mass of the population as the mass of the population didn’t bother them and both sides saw that as fine. The third in line was more easy-going, affable, with a gift of selling himself and his ideas, and knowing which side to play and when, he also appreciated women a lot and died when as gamboling about with his latest squeeze he fell into a fish pond, knocked his head on an ornamental statue and drowned. The fourth in line is too young for the job, nervous and doesn’t make decisions. There are of course vested interests big and small. What I did want to create was something far from perfect. An environment in which an great deal of compromise, morally elastic actions and pragmatic activity went on, most folk just wanting to keep the whole thing going and get by as best they could, because there was always the danger of the Unknown breaking out (Either as demonic forces or the catastrophic ill-use of a nascent power known by various names, commonly Ethereal of Stommigheid) Thus in some respects mirroring post WWII Europe in the latter half of the 20th Century. In this empire Violence being contained in the local law and order problems, the spats between princes, princes and their own nobility and the occasional uprising by one group or another. These can be ugly, but since they occur ‘somewhere else’ most folk don’t worry about it. Which I feel is sadly ‘business as usual’ and fairly realistic.
Like most Fantasy series these days, you’ve got to be ready to produce something of maybe 200,000+ words per volume and have a whole world peopled by an entire cast. In fact this is half the fun of it. Since this is not my own web-site for dedicated readers in their thousands (ahhh, per chance to dream). I will only concentrate on how the three central characters individual approaches the question of violence.
In alphabetical order:
Arketre Beritt: From somewhere which might be similar to parts of the Southern USA. Brought up traditionally rural, in an attempt to find a direction joined The Devoteds (like Nuns) however with a tendency to be disruptive and a girl-chaser, by a long standing agreement was sent to the LifeGuard. This was originally supposed to be the Imperial Guard but is now a state within a state. Initially she was trained as a medician (think medic). To begin with she appears the nice, little fair headed, eager helper in a file (unit) but as the saga continues and she is exposed to persistent violence she reveals a more deadly side to her nature, killing without compunction, partly as she sees her duty but also in her own urge to deliver retribution. This is of concern to folk she is close to, lest they lose her to a pathway into nothing but violence. Her close friend Trelli is most adept at warning her and under her influence Arketre will display her healing skills and a rough diplomacy. She is something of one type of ever present soldier, conflicted between duty, rage and a softer side. Being in a steady relationship with Karlyn supplies another anchor. She is at her most stable with Karlyn and Trelli otherwise she is a person of War, although looking for a way out at any cost as long as Karlyn and Trelli are not harmed.
Karlyn: Originally with no memory of her past, only her recent life of being washed ashore from a ship. She lived in a city before venturing out on her own mission to strike down evil by burning down places at random. She, has an affinity with the inflammable, talks to and clambers above trees empathises with most creatures, has a very esoteric sense of smell and adept at finding and navigating pathways out of the conventional world into different realms. As the saga progresses it is found she is of another species of Humans, The Shadow Lords, was sent on a scouting task to the world of Humans but it transpires was ambushed by malevolent forces. Initially very scatty and askew I was somewhat alarmed at how parallel she could be with Harley Quinn and together we had to work quite hard to ensure folk knew she was her own girl…Or actually two as at times her previous noble identity (Lady Maighdean Ardea )takes hold. She has no problems with killing, although being far swifter and precise than Arketre and only as a response to a direct threat, once the threat is dispatched, that is that. Fallen sweetly in love with Arketre and a friend verging on bossy big sister to Trelli. Her principal concern is staying with Arketre and not being drawn back to her family, quite at ease with punching her brother or cousins from trying to make her.
Trelli (aka Trelyvana Waywanderer): In Fantasy terms Trelli is not unusual, there she was an ordinary housemaid (later self-promoted to Housekeeper, if anyone asks her) when due to the son of the household’s research into ‘The Ethereal’ forces, she was inadvertently inculcated with its energies. Thus she can knock folk over, tackle those using Ethereal for evil purposes, learnt how to fly (in an eclectic way), travel between realms and sometimes influence minds. She was initially very suspicious of this, particularly as it manifested itself in red and blue aura about her fingers, causing her to wear thick gloves or tuck her hands under her armpits in an attempt to avoid folk noticing. Whereas she has come to terms with this circumstance, she is constantly aware of the potential corrosive effect on her character and thus to possibility of loosing destructive forces; she is therefore ever wary of any external or internal influence to lead her down such a path. Of the three she is therefore the least willing to launch into battle and even then is restrained, unless in direct conflict with the demonic forces (The Zerstorung), in which case as it is a fight to the finish she has no qualms. Due to the encouragement of her two friends she always has a tendency to resort lesser forms of physical violence when provoked. Through her friendship with Arketre and Karlyn and the mutual reliance which is fostered within the trio she is able to navigate a pathway through conventional experiences with little trouble.
It is my usual inclination when writing to give the malignant forces a very hard time, since if there is one thing I find irritating is the self-satisfied, monologuing, god-complex villain whose perfect plan is only foiled at the last chapter either by supreme sacrifice or some sudden burst of amazing whatever. My own narratives tend to be influenced by my reading of military histories and the fact there never is a perfect plan, that things go wrong and its the folk who make the least mistakes who usually come out on top. Thus no one in my books ever does things adroitly, it’s all about that catching of the other out and either then pummeling them, or skipping out of the way to come back for another shot. This normal lack of over-arching competence in situations allows the trio of central characters to escape some of the more excessive fates and experiences seen in other books (Note: As these books are self-published for their own sake the characters and I reckon we can between us get away with this as much as we please- look upon it as a sub-sub-genre Fantasy-Heroic-Feel Good )
Violence or the threat of it is ever prevalent and sometimes the central characters in particularly Arketre are the instigators. As stated earlier, the backdrop of the narrative is an empire under threat external or internal so this is to be expected. Whether the use of violence is as necessary as the characters (or I) see it remains very much up to the perspective of the reader. Whether the central characters come across as likeable people is also left up to the reader to decide for themselves. Personally over the years (since about 2014) I have grown quite fond of them, seeing them as people of their time and circumstance, dealing with matters as they see fit and in general authority or those they work with or for having to catch up with the trio as individuals or in various combinations.
Therefore Violence exists. When using this in fiction the responsibility lies with the writer and to an extent the reader as to whether the levels, perceptions and morals of the usage are acceptable. Personally I use it a great deal, and dear reader don’t expect the villains ever to walk away from it.
The cause, may or may not be a combination of the following:
(1) Triumph in picking up all those niggling typos placed by Word’s evil cyber-pixies who wish to discourage all creative writing and would have a World Literature based on Business Projections and Internal Management Documents thus spoiling their plans.
(2) Not wishing to be the cause of disharmony between me, some innocent beta-reader or helpful editor who inadvertently committed the unforgiveable crime of suggesting I change some part of the narrative or tweak a character. (It’s not that I am inflexible you understand, it’s just that……errr….. I’ll get back to you on that one in another post)
(3) Saving money on the aforementioned in ‘2’.
(4) Some latent vanity in the joy of reading/ listening to my own work. (Well someone has to admit to it!)
Those are the nuts and bolts ones. The actual fun comes in:
(A) The dismantling wholesale and replacing chunks of say 20,000 words with something better.
(B) Catching out the devious Continuity Fae who entrap a writer with whispers of enthusiasm to churn out the words and rush off to the next exciting bit and thus overlooking some leap of logic or several quite contradictory statements/actions undertaken by a major character. (This takes on cosmological proportions when you are writing a series of books).
(C) Actually listening to one or more of the characters who steps out of the narrative, stands in front of you waving an allegorical piece of paper and saying ‘Seriously?’
(D) And above all, the interactions of (A)- (C) which start some unexpected runaway process, dragging you off down a route you never even realised existed and effectively rattling loose most of the story into something else. The thrill of being part of such a situation overwhelms any concerns about having finishing a book by ‘such and such’ a date.
I don’t think my trilogy will ever sell many copies (so far most have been acquired ‘free’ through Amazon). Yet I do not care. The main characters are alive, and vibrantly taking control of the narrative, thus I owe it to them to make sure this is recorded.
The whole process is wonderfully chaotic and unpredictable. Everything else I intended to write or think about writing is on hold while this little universe settles down.
In a hurry to finish off one part; just for convenience you place a character in Location A. Then later on in your eagerness to write THAT very important chapter around which, if not the whole but at least a vital part of the narrative revolves you have them appearing Location B which is many miles distant from Location A and in a circumstance which defies any good reason you can think of to explain that anomaly.
If you are very fortunate you will have dropped them off at Location A in such a casual way you can write that smidge out and in retrospect shuffle them into Location B ready for THAT chapter you have ben itching to write.
Meanwhile you look at yourself in the literal or allegorical and say: