katiefoolery: (Interrobang)
I've been doing something odd lately.  Something I don't often do.

Something that involves quality time on my own.

Something that probably isn't that productive, really.

If you guessed extreme crocheting in a deep-sea submarine, then you're only slightly wrong.  Although, honestly, sometimes I think it's more likely I'd be doing that than actually undertaking this activity.

It's writing.  I've been writing.  Actually writing.  More than this, I've been wanting to write and that is honestly something that hasn't happened much since university SUCKED MY WILL TO WRITE.

Last month, mostly thanks to LorF, I more than doubled my GYWO word count.  In fact, I think I might aim to do the same thing this month: double my word-count to date.  And I might actually be able to achieve it.

There are several things fuelling this sudden, inexplicable desire to write:
  1. LorF
  2. The freezing cold weather of freezing coldness
  3. Google Documents
Yes, Google Documents.  For some reason.  I turned to Google Docs in desperation when my work decided to ban the upload of attachments to Gmail, as it's apparently the equivalent of worshipping the devil or something.  It kind of works, because it means I'm doing everything in Firefox.  So while this makes it easier to be distacted by the net when I'm writing, it conversely makes it easier to be distracted by writing when I'm on the net.

The logic behind this may not be entirely perfect, but I'm not going to question it too closely in case it gets scared and stops working as well as it currently is.

At present, I am writing LorF and I shall hereby furnish you with the first paragraph.  The episode has grown from a tiny seed of three words: Then Rowan sneezed.  Which has since been converted into present tense because... well, just because.
Then Rowan sneezes and I'm torn between saying “Bless you” and “What in the name of bloody hell did you do that for, you bloody idiot?”.  It’s a difficult choice and I hope never to be in a position where I have to make it ever again.

So I'm working on that.  At the moment, I am quietly confident about this episode's ability to confuse the hell out of everyone.  This makes me very happy indeed.

In other news, I have a couple of Dreamwidth invites which need to be distributed.  Please comment with your email if you'd like one and I shall send them your way.
katiefoolery: (Don't panic!)
A while ago, I wrote a story with the rather over-long title of Why I Ran Away and Joined the Nunnery.  It was a fun story to write and I'd like to try and get it published eventually.  As it is, it needs a little work.

But this is not why I'm here today.  No, the reason for that concerns one of the characters within the story.  Namely, Ikvar, Destroyer of Worlds.

I don't know where Ikvar came from.  I really don't.  I blame the main character's grandmother, actually.  After all, she was the one who ran off and consorted with demons in the underworld.  And then brought one of them to the wedding of the main character's sister.

So there they were: Ellerie (my main character), her grandmother and Ikvar, Destroyer of Worlds, standing around making small talk.  I think Ellerie's grandmother was trying to prove something, to be honest.  Perhaps she wanted everyone to know that you're never too old to have a fling with a demon of the underworld...  It was the first scene I wrote, although it comes about half-way through the story.  And it goes a little like this:

It was easy to say when the trouble started. It was when my grandma turned up with her latest beau on her arm. Beacuse that beau just happened to be Ikvar, Destroyer of Worlds.

"Well well, a wedding," said Ikvar, exuding an actual aura of pure darkness.

"Did you bring our present, dear?" Grandma asked.

"I ate it," Ikvar said, looking malevolently sheepish.

"You ate an entire orchestra?" Grandma asked.

Ikvar blushed.

"There's my little Ellerie," Grandma said, dragging Ikvar over to meet me. We shook hands politely, which left me feeling extremely nauseous.

"So this is Ardor," Ikvar said with a sneer. "Weaklings. They have no-one who could defy me. I could destroy it with a single thought!"

"Not now, dear," Grandma said.

Ikvar burped.  The sound had a distinctly musical flavour.


I love Ikvar dearly, even though he's a minor character in the story.  He has a handy of habit of incinerating inconvenient people and setting things on fire.  I accept that this latter trait is not always handy, but it certainly would be if you were cold.  Or wanted to burn a city to the ground.  Or something.

Nevertheless, he is insanely powerful, quite evil and very black of heart.

So imagine how I felt when I saw an email from Ikvar in my email in-box this morning.

Ikvar has an email address!

It made my day, that email.  Alas, I have no idea where I got the name from: it just popped into my head and made itself at home.  I didn't even stop to think there might a real Ikvar, Destroyer of Worlds...
katiefoolery: (Black Fiddle cover)
I know what’s wrong with Black Fiddle!  Even better, I know what’s right with it, too.  There’s so much right with it that I want to dance about and hug people.  I can even handily ignore the fact that I know there’s a great deal of work ahead of me because I’m actually looking forward to it.  That’s right - for the first time since I finished the first draft, I actually feel hopeful and positive about this second draft.  I think I can do it.

I finally have a smidgeon of faith in my abilities there.

I think the main reason for my dissatisfaction in the past has been the last third of the draft.  It’s not great.  But I know why it’s not great, now - because the ending is completely wrong.  It’s the wrong ending for the story entirely, in fact.  There’s a point where the story could go one of two ways and I took it the wrong way the first time around.  This time, I’ll go the other way and it will be better for it.

There’s so much work to do, though.  There are characters to be fleshed out and new ones to be introduced.  I have to resolve Jeannie’s relationship with Meggan - that’s an important one.  I think I let my own impatience with Meggan’s character intrude on Jeannie’s feelings and poor Meggan suffered as a result.  Most of what Jeannie does is for Meggan anyway, so there must be a reason behind that, beyond simply being sisters.

I have to spend a great deal of time with Cianan and induce him to tell me all his secrets.  The main reason he hardly tells Jeannie anything in the first draft is due to the fact that he wouldn’t tell me anything, either.  But he shall learn.  If he doesn’t behave, I’ll give him a limp and a wall-eyed countenance.

I thought I’d get rid of the Way of the Dead entirely, but the first half of it is actually quite good.

So, in an effort to make a start, tonight shall be spent painstakingly converting all of the scenes to single sentences.  I’m hoping this will assist me in re-arranging the structure of the story slightly.  The best bit is that it will make me feel productive!  The elusive second draft will finally begin!

*insert mad dance of excitement here*

In the meantime, I thought I’d share a couple of excerpts from the first draft with you all.  Please remember that these are completely untouched pieces - I wrote the first draft in one go and there has been no editing to speak of since then.

These three excerpts come from my favourite part of the book so far.  Jeannie has arrived in a city called Calladan and has been arrested and imprisoned for playing music in a market square.  She quickly learns that music is reserved for the wealthy elite and that she can expect to stay in prison until she either faces trial or is "bought".  Eventually, she ends up as a servant in a large house in Calladan, where she washes dishes, cleans floors and turns the pages for the daughter of the house as she plays her flute incredibly badly.

* * * * *

This excerpt comes from a section where Jeannie has been locked in an underground storeroom as punishment for, well, for being Jeannie, really.  She’s going ever so slightly insane when an unquenchable desire for music overtakes her.
Somewhere in the darkness, the longing for the Fiddle awoke in Jeannie... )

* * * * *

In her time as a servant in Calladan, Jeannie strikes up an uneasy alliance with a girl called Eilish.  But Eilish is no ordinary servant and Jeannie quickly learns the truth of her nature.  She has been brought up to hate people like Eilish, but when Eilish offers to teach her how to fill the empty spaces in her music, Jeannie can’t bring herself to refuse.
Five minutes was all she could stand... )

* * * * *

And then there's Cianan.  They bring out the worst and the best in each other and spend as much time hiding their own secrets as they do glaring at each other.  Jeannie’s servitude comes to an end when Cianan arrives, although Jeannie’s pride is stung to the core to be found in such a situation by such a person.
“What is this?” Cianan asked... )
katiefoolery: (Default)
In the absence of anything to actually write about, I thought I'd follow the lead of the good [livejournal.com profile] the_kaytinator and do an entry on the opening lines of my stories throughout the ages.  Hopefully, it will distract attention away from the progression of my plan, which has involved plentiful list-making but no actual starting-small.  But I digress.  Back to the opening lines!

(The inspiration for this can be found at the good Kayt's old Diary-X account.)

I suppose we have to start right at the beginning, or as close as we can possibly come without building a time-machine and going back to 1984 in order to peek over my shoulder as I wrote (and illustrated) my very first story.  Instead, we'll have to go forward two years and make do with The Adventures of Star, a story about a girl and her horse and her friends and their horses.  It seemed to me that every girl in my town had a horse* and the only way I could get one was to write up a fictional one.

And the first line goes like this:

Star was a horse owned by a girl called Amy.

Wow.  I'm rivetted.  Must... read... on... and so on.  Amy was actually the name of my best friend at the time, but it was my name in the story.  I used to spend recessess and lunchtimes writing this story.  At one stage, I was even forced to read a section out to the Grade Sixes and there was talk of putting a bit in the school newsletter, but this was scotched when I admitted that I couldn't type.  We did have a computer at that stage, but it was a Commodore64 and it was mostly for playing games and for my dad to swear at.

By the time I reached secondary school, the appeal of horses had faded when faced with the shiny attraction of spaceships.  This new obsession led to my great science fiction epic, Milliard, which came to me when I was playing the piano one day.  And it starts thusly:

Moonlord is a pretty lonely place for a girl to live, but thirteen year old Tarrac liked it.

Good old Taz.  I thought I was pretty adventurous, writing about a thirteen year old girl when I was only twelve.  It seems a lot less adventurous from here, but that's how I felt at the time.  An interesting fact about Milliard is that every person's name had to have double letters in it somewhere.  Apparently, that's how they were going to do things in the future.

Milliard held my attention for quite some time.  It was the first story I wrote on a computer, which saved me a lot of time, given my "unique" handwriting.  In time, I grew tired of science fiction and moved on to fantasy. The Legends of Soloris took its name from a box of orange juice which used to sit in the kitchen in my line of sight from my bedroom (I realised later that it was actually Solora orange juice, not Soloris orange juice, but I don't think this really signifies).  I had this story all plotted out, but it never went further than three chapters.  And this is how it starts:

Elhandra put her head in her hands, her elbows on the desk of her small room and stared out of the window.

You know, that sentence has some pretty dodgy structuring going on.  Quite shocking.  Yet, despite this, from time to time I toy with the idea of continuing this story.  And then I come to my senses.

(Please excuse me whilst I re-visit a story idea I had back in 1998.  I still love it muchly.  Seven years on and I can still see the flames in the opening scene.  Maybe I should start writing it... after I finish The City, re-write Black Fiddle and do all the other things that I have lined up.)

Now that I have that out of my system, we shall move forward to when I really started writing again.  2002 seems to have been a fertile sort of year.  This is a taste of what has been written since then:

Apple Pye
My father designed the great bridge that connected Little Barley to Greater Barley.  My aunt single-handedly ended the war in Near Hampton.  But it wasn't until my mother baked Apple Pye that the king deigned to visit.

The Wrongful Queen of Landare
When the old king died in an unlikely accident involving a curtain rod, a stuffed poodle and a fried egg, the search was on for an heir.

The cry of plovers echoed through the cold night sky.

Chickens & Lies
Gregor wished he worked for the normal sort of mad scientist, not the one who had just invented the chickenometer.

Ever Again
These days, people forget what I once was.

The Black Fiddle of Barnet
"Where do you think you're going, my girl?"

A note on The City: this opening line actually contains a mild swear word, which is very rare for me.  It just shows you how strong a characer Lenore is I suppose.  Either that, or I secretly want to swear.  A lot.

The City
The city's always dark and it pisses me off.

One Hundred Years' Time (part II)
"Are you ready, Chaque?" asked her father.

I love Chaque.  Love her love her love her.  She likes burning things, so we have absolutely nothing in common, but I'd love to write more about her.

Devinda Ray: Speechwriter to the Moderately Famous (Excellent Rates!)
Devinda stepped out of the Pryntting Shop and looked at her new business card.  It was slightly flimsy, printed in the exact colours she hadn't requested and the ink was running in the rain.

And I think that's about it.  There are plenty of other stories, but they're sad, unfinished things - started with promise, only to dribble out into nothing a few pages later.  The best thing about writing this post is that, by writing out words I've already written, I suddenly feel much more confident about writing words I haven't written yet.  And if that sentence makes a scrap of sense then it's more than it deserves.  I seem to have reminded myself of my potential and that can only be a good thing.  Right at this very moment, I want to:

  • write a new story about Chaque
  • investigate my "Otherworld" story a bit further
  • re-work Devinda for submission to magazines
  • and so on
Looks like I'm going to have to re-write The Plan.

* Looking back, it was probably only every other girl, but that still has an impact when all you can ride is a sheep.
katiefoolery: (Default)
I channelled Jeannie just before.  For the uninitiated (ie. 97.743% of you), Jeannie is the main character of The Black Fiddle of Barnet, which I am theoretically getting back to work on, having finished the first draft over a year ago.  To return to my first statement: there I was, just sitting around, listening to a song expressing a desire to find a home the singer could call their own, when I was suddenly taken over by Jeannie.  It was the most plendiferous insight into a character I've ever experienced.  In fact, it revealed that Jeannie's heartache goes deeper than even I imagined and that one of the images she holds closest to her heart is that of her father riding away from their house, warning them not to follow him, for he had caught a disease that was ravaging the country and his presence could endanger their very lives.  This is the scene in Black Fiddle:

She remembered herself at seventeen, when her father came riding into the yard, his hair in disarray.
     “It’s here,” he had cried.  “Stay away from me.  I held him as he died!”
     Her mother and grandmother had paled at the news.  Careen had run out into the yard, but Martin was already riding away.
     “I love you!” he had cried to the wind.  “Don’t follow me.  Please don’t follow me!”

It was the last image she had of her father, riding away as the wind tore up his words.  The image will never leave her.  It haunts her.

I guess it means this scene definitely stays in the re-write.
katiefoolery: (Default)

Yesterday, I finished writing the first draft of my story for the Conflux comp. It's patchy at the moment, but I'm still applying my 'write now, edit later' policy to it. My favourite bits at the moment involve my narrator's grandma, who is currently dating Ikvar, Destroyer of Worlds.

A quote:

"Well well, a wedding," said Ikvar, exuding an actual aura of pure darkness.
"Did you bring our present, dear?" Grandma asked.
"I ate it," Ikvar said, looking malevolently sheepish.
"You ate an entire orchestra?" Grandma asked.

And later...

Grandma gave me a sympathetic look. Beside her, Ikvar set an ancient tapestry on fire.

Actually, the funniest bit of the day came later, when I was talking to Tim about the story. "There's a bit of work to do on it," I said. "There are some bits I like and some that I don't like."

"Why did you write bits you didn't like?" he asked.

This resulted in me laughing 'til I cried. It's such a good question. Why would I write bits I didn't like?

Wot am I reading?

Well, I'm glad I asked me that question. I'm currently reading Loamhedge, the latest Redwall book. I love these books. They're meant for kids, I guess, but Brian Jacques is a damn good writer. The best bit about these books is the food. They eat the most delicious-sounding food you could ever imagine in these books. I spend half my time salivating all over the pages. It's an intriguing story so far - very typical Jacques and very enjoyable.

I recently finished re-reading A Sorcerer's Treason by Sarah Zettel. It's the first part of the Isavalta trilogy, even if the second one takes place before the first one. The first book is a brilliant read. I'll read the second one after Loamhedge and I'm hoping it will be just as good.

And Monstrous Regiment did finally reach up and grab me. It was only as I got towards the end that I started revelling in it. So much happens in the last quarter of book that will change the first three quarters when I re-read it. Because I have to re-read it. I knew that the minute I reached the end and started thinking about everything Pratchett was saying.

I think I'll finish off with an enormous 'thank-you' to [livejournal.com profile] morbane for reading and editing my story Ever Again. If I had your address, I'd send you a proper thank-you in the form of an enormous basket of lemons.

When looking for my Sarah Zettel links, I discovered that the third book has been released! I still have a book voucher left over from Christmas, so now I know wot it's destined for.

April 2011

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