Short stories, Flash fiction, and Novel Excerpts

Posts Tagged ‘Novel’

So you want to write a story

In Writing on January 11, 2010 at 1:16 am

So you want to write a story.  You’ve been reading for years and now you’re ready to take the next step.  You have something to say and want to ‘give it a go’, and why not?  First, learn the language, take classes or read how-to books.  Second, learn how to write, see number one.  Third, have something to say, something that comes, not just from the bottom of you heart, But from the deepest untouched part of your soul.  Got it?  Good, you can tell me how to do that.

If you’re just starting out, you really don’t need to worry about where it comes from.  What you need to do is write.  Do not be afraid to fail.  Do not be afraid to suck.  You will, we all do.  Just write.

Some things to keep in mind when trying to craft a story:

Showing cause & effect.  If your character does something, it should have some type of consequence.  Remember:  Every action has an equal and opposite re-action.

Compare and contrast to develop an idea.  Use other characters to show what may or may not work in your story.  (This Guy failed to accomplish something because…  While this Gal succeeded because she had the right idea.)

Use classification to a purpose.  Most people will tell you to stay away from cliché’s and archetypes, to come up with something original.  But why would you do that now?  You’re just practicing your writing, use what ever you want.  What you want to do is give it purpose.  If you use a cliché, make it work, sweat, and bleed in your story.  Have it earn its place in your writing.

I’ll leave it to you to decide the order of importance of:

Setting

Plot

Character

But these are the three main things you must have in any story.  Everything else follows naturally.

Things to describe:

Who, what, when, where, why, and how.  I’ve heard some say that this is only for journalistic writing, but that’s not true.  This goes for each character, each experience, and each world visited by your writing.  These are things we need to know.

Do not forget the five senses.  Touch, Sight, Smell, Sound, Taste.  Often, new writers will miss these touches that can add so much to any piece of writing.  Don’t forget them, open up your world to us, make it unforgettable.

Choose and limit a subject.  Find out where you want to start, and where you want to end.

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Wizards

In Writing on December 22, 2009 at 1:54 pm

Thar moved quickly but carefully around his smoky lab.  He grabbed jars seemingly at random from the shelves that surrounded the room.  The thin old man shook out handfuls of this and sprinkled pinches of that into the smoking cauldron set in the middle of the floor.  Tossing the last jar onto the heap of other discarded containers, Thar glanced worriedly out the west window.  The sun, half below the horizon, still gilded the rose-colored clouds with gold.

Thar breathed deeply, expanding his thin chest, and rubbed a hand across his forehead; leaving an ugly brown-green smear.  Squaring his shoulders, he laced his bony fingers together and stretched his arms out before him.  Pops and creaks ensued and Thar shook out his hands.  He looked about, one last glance before he began his incantations, and smiled.  This just might work.

Wizened fingers wove spell-forms with the ease of long practice.  Syllables of a long dead language flowed from his tongue.  Thar worked his art with confidence, head high, his voice commanding, and power radiated from his aging body.  Still, he knew that the slightest mistake would mean his death.  Despite the risks, Thar loved his chosen profession.  For moments like this, when the sheer joy of accomplishment was his alone.  Years of practice and learning, decades of toil and discipline, all coalesced into one beatific moment.  Thar’s voice, trilling and throbbing with power, reached a crescendo and with a decisive gesture—arms flung out—finished the spell as the last light of the sun dipped below the horizon.  Thad stood waiting, triumphant, for the effects of his spell to manifest.  Between one rapt breath and another, Thar disappeared in a puff of gray smoke.

*******************************************************

At the edge of a small wood, by a burbling stream, sat a modest tower.  Wisps of smoke climbed lazily from the open windows at the top.  Quillan watched and waited.  The sun would set soon.  He had waited centuries, a few moments more wouldn’t hinder his plans.  The night and with it, revenge, were but mere breaths away.  He flexed his wings in anticipation.  His claws tore gouges into the loamy soil as muscles bunched eagerly.  His tail lashed in unconscious fury as he thought of his imprisonment.  Three-hundred years of waiting, three-hundred years of pain, and now all to collect the debt owed him.  What were a dozen heartbeats compared to that?

Quillan hunched in the wooded shadows of twilight, the sunlight still painful after his century’s long captivity.  That hateful golden orb finally slunk its way below the horizon and Quillan bounded out of the wood.  Blessed starlight bathed his scales—soothing the raw agony suffered of the sun—red with the rage that pounded through his mind, Quillan did not notice the smoke that suddenly billowed from the top of the tower.  The beast, not slowing, rammed the building with his huge shoulder.  He felt the satisfying crunch of stone against his armored body.  His momentum carried him a short distance beyond the crumbling tower and he turned, forcing his rage from his belly to his throat.

Quillan had put his time in confinement to good use.  He learned—on his own—to use his birthright, the loss of his race made the experience horrendous.  He faltered through grief and shame but he painfully perfecting the fires of his rage, with Thar as his target.  And as the tower collapsed Quillan breathed his rage, shame, and despair upon the object of his hate.  Burning the stone, watching as it glowed orange and slumped in a pile of luminescent slag.  Quillan sat watching gleefully as the molten stone burned into the earth, never realizing that his quarry had gone.

Jennifer Roberson–Sword Dancer

In Writing on December 17, 2009 at 12:34 am
The first book in the Sword-Dancer Saga introduces Tiger–a legendary Southron sword Dancer, and Del–a Northern woman with a sword who “claims” to be a Sword-dancer herself.

Jennifer Roberson explores sexism with gifted vision in this series. All through the eyes of Tiger–a man’s man in a man’s world. Battling the desert, decadent Emir’s, slaver’s, and a painful past; we see Tiger grow past his upbringing to fill the shoes of his legend.

A truly wonderful book and series, with great cultural details and character’s you grow to love; I highly recommend reading anything by Jennifer Roberson.

*****

Law of Nines–Terry Goodkind–Book review

In Writing on December 16, 2009 at 1:37 am
Ever wonder if someone else is also looking at you through the mirror? Terry Goodkind has. Chased by unknown foes, Reasoning your way through life and art, and inheriting mysterious tracts of land is a day in the life of Alexander Rahl.

Wait! Rahl? I wonder why that sounds so familiar? Hmmm, it could be because that name was so prevalently used in his last series. And unfortunately, it’s not the only thing that will be revisited from the Sword of Truth series.

If your looking for a fresh new start from Terry Goodkind, this is probably not the book for you. Plot sequence, character’s, and theme’s were all from Wizard’s First Rule. It was almost like painting by numbers, for writing. Don’t get me wrong, I like the theme, I like his writing, but I wasn’t expecting to pay hardback price for a book I’ve already got.

If on the other hand you’ve never read any of Terry Goodkind’s other works; the book is/can be quite enjoyable. The story has an edge-of-your-seat flow that will keep you up past your bed-time and characters that jump to life before your eyes.

Since I’m already acquainted with Terry Goodkind’s work: **
If I pretend I’ve never read him before: ****

The Seven Seals 2

In Writing on December 11, 2009 at 1:58 am

By:  Ben Pollard

Leaning with her elbows on the desk of polished marble, she had her head cradled in her hands.  Jet black hair tied back severely at the nape of her neck, Emily stared intently at the book laid out in front of her.  The room around her was painfully bare.  One small cot, a bookshelf filled with musty tomes, and the stone desk at which she sat.  There were very few luxuries at the academy.  With it being the only one of its kind for the study and practice of magic.  Only one hundred students and faculty together, it was smaller than any other center of learning in the Kingdom and so less funded. 

Unnoticed in the doorway, an old man stood in his billowing white robes.  Smiling wryly, Jonah knew he would be left standing all day if he said nothing. 

“It’s time child.” the old man said softly, then chuckled at the sight of that beautiful face startled into bemusement.  Her eyes, sparkling like emeralds, flashed anger then to laughter at the sight of him. 

“M-master Jonah”, Emily stuttered as she stood quickly to flourish, with as much of a swish as her robes allowed, a courtly curtsy. 

Master Jonah stopped her saying, “If you display courtly graces princess, then I will be forced to as well and I’m much too old for such things.”

With a sultry laugh Emily said, “But that’s all too true, old Master.”

Master Jonah harrumphed loudly, “Child in my day we never spoke to our betters so,” he grumped.  Rolling her eyes, Emily glided across the stone floor to the stern Master.  She knew his indignant pose was all bluff and bluster and embraced him.  This earned her another loud harrumph. 

“Child, child when will you ever learn not to fraternize with the heads?” rebuffed Master Jonah.

Blushing, Emily stepped away exclaiming,”I’ve never done…what you say!”

“My dear, an old man has to give back what he can these days, “replied Master Jonah.

Blushing even more furiously, “You said it was time, “she evaded.

“You never let me have any fun, “muttered the old man, “but yes, its time for the Tests child.”

            Emily walked down the hall, trepidation in her heart.  She was going to take the Tests, by laws as old as the Kingdom; she should not be able to.  No heir to the throne could hold the position of Master and still be an heir.  So Emily had abdicated, had given up the rights, duties and privileges of the royal family, not just for herself but for all her offspring down thru the ages.  After this she would have no family whatsoever.  By midafternoon tomorrow her father would know, then the Kingdom, after that, the world. 

            The magical arts were Emily’s passion, what made her feel alive.  Her progress thru her novitiate and apprenticeship had given her a love of magic and what it could do too better other lives as well as her own.  As a Master she would not be able to own property of any kind; no land, horses, slaves, nothing, not even the clothes on her back.  Nor would she be able to make decisions for herself afterward, she would be under their purview.  Emily hoped that her father would understand but she had made her decision.  She knew it would be the last she could make on her own.

            Torches, hanging from wrought iron scones, cast fluttering shadows around the pair as they made their way to the inner sanctum.  Magic was not only put upon a pedestal by scholars but was venerated around the world.  The Yu’llish priesthood, to the southwest, was comprised of only magi, trained and indoctrinated by their clerics.  Granted their magic was not profound but the power those clerics wielded over their people was indisputable.  Other countries also followed the belief that magic was of the Gods.  Only the Kingdom used magic to serve the people not subjugate them with it.

            Trying to calm her fluttering stomach, Emily focused on Jonah’s strait back; belying the old man’s age.  The cowl of his rough spun white robe was drawn over his arched head, hiding the silver hair underneath.  Emily similarly attired in blue walked to match the Masters measured gait.  As they neared the Sanctum with its large double oak doors bound in iron, Master Jonah mumbled and with a wave of his thin hand, opened the portal.  Twice his height and trice his weight the doors of their own accord, smoothly, ponderously, reveled the heart of her ambition, the heart of Povoir.

            Circular, the stone walls were not fitted but unnaturally smooth, seemingly carved not built.  Pillars of intricately worked marble were spaced evenly along the wall encircling the inner ring in the center of the chamber. From the obsidian floor to the vaulted ceiling the supports presented mosaics of the supernatural.  Mythical beasts and creations encircled the pillars at head height, fantastic figures in outstretched poses, held torches that gave the amazing room light. 

Flickering illumination gave the illusion of movement to Dragons, Chimeras, Unicorns, and other monsters out of a dozen legends.  Each figure seemed to have a life of its own, Fairies danced while Minotaurs raged.  Emily gave an involuntary laugh of delight, startling herself out of the enchanted reverie the room had spun. 

In front of the inner pillars sat the Decca of Povoir.  Old men all, though not decrepit; they sat, backs strait in robes of gleaming silver.  Ten chairs made a half circle in which Emily and Master Jonah now stood in its center.  Emily stood, head bowed in supplication, as the old Master beside her intoned with authority steeling his voice, that she had meet all requirements to stand before the Decca.   Custom required that a Master vouchsafe a Supplicant to ensure only the worthy become Masters of the Arcane. 

The Trials would kill those not having the strength or skill necessary to pass.  Master Jonah would be held accountable if she failed; misery and death were the punishment for failing her.  The faces of the Decca were grim with the knowledge that two lives could be lost today.