I decided to write a Friday flash with a title that starts with C, because of the A to Z challenge. This is what resulted.
Rain drizzled down, a steady, punishing stream of water.
It wound down the body of the stone statue, past its blind eyes and dripped on ground already soaked with rain.
And me? It left me dry. My sister didn’t dare touch me, even here, far from land and age of our power. She still stayed clear of me, left me in a circle as dry as the sands of our birth.
Well, she would not touch her either. This rain wasn’t true, as fake as the rosy color on her cheeks. She wasn’t grieving. How could she? She had done this, shoved my beloved into a deep ditch and poured water she couldn’t breathe.
I brushed my fingers across the statue’s damp eyes. They were large in life, one brown and one blue, and so beautiful.
I would deepen my sister’s oceans until she thought she was winning; I would dry up her rivers and lakes; I would turn her land into the sands for our family’s graveyard.
And I would start here, on this island.
I pushed aside the canary yellow silk curtains and looked out over the city through clear modern panes of the balcony doors.
My balcony was made of black, wrought iron, like every other balcony in this city, decorated with fanciful shapes of flowers and butterflies.
Beyond the edges of my apartment, steel and brass towers speared into the sky. They were silver and dun gold, like drops of metal fallen from the sky. On the eastern shores of the island, barely visible from here, were several equally tall and massive trees. Some sported hundreds of flowers; others had only plain dark green leaves; and one bristled with sharp, piney needles.
Hotels, businesses and homes, they housed the most powerful covens to claim a place in this city. Less powerful ones contented themselves with steel and bone-wood homes.
My permanent home, now. Somewhere in the teeming mass of people was my soul-bonded. He wouldn’t welcome me, that I knew. I’d betrayed him. My fingers tightened on the cool silk curtains.
It hardly mattered that the betrayal wasn’t what he thought. I didn’t deserve his forgiveness.
The balcony door panes blurred with water droplets. I glanced up at the sky. Still a clear, hard blue.
I jerked the curtains shut. I didn’t need to see this, didn’t need to think about this. There were other things in my life, now.
This thought occurred to me today: It’s been a while since I’ve read a book had an action scene on page 1.
The last one was probably an urban fantasy several years ago. Even that went like this: stalk, stalk, fight scene.
Is that weird? I don’t feel like it is. But I am also considering rewriting the beginning of my WiP to an action sequence and I don’t think that is weird, either.
Is there some sort of unwritten rule that says: Thou shall not begin with an action scene?
I feel like I am breaking some sort of rule by wanting to start with an action scene. Well, more like a training/sparring sort of scene, a test of sorts for the main character.
And books start all the time with tests. Still. It would be all action, complete with a chase and a sort of explosion (a weak explosion. very weak).
I wrote this real fast and I’m not sure how it came out so . . . here you are!!!
She eyed the mob screaming on the palace steps and fingered the gold ring in her skirt pocket.
Oh, this was bad. Very bad. Not that she could understand what they was saying, but it couldn’t be good.
Good thing she wasn’t responsible for this; she’d only arrived in the country just three days ago.
She rubbed the distinctive flat head of the ring. It was all good, she reassured herself. Everything was fine. She would get out of this.
“What they saying?” she asked. For a boy who thought they was twins, he sure was stupid.
He smiled at her, happy as a child with a handful of sugar. “Do you recall the temple we visited yesterday? A . . . an artifact, I suppose you would call it, disappeared from there yesterday.”
Horrified, she looked up into his bright purple eyes. How had they discovered it so soon? She had stolen it only hours ago, right before dawn. “But I thought . . . guess you was wrong about only the royal family being able to touch it. Just silly folktales afterall.”
He smiled, shook his head. “Come. You were stolen so young, you still don’t understand our ways. Your ways. Mother wishes to see you.”
Snow covered the tumulus. Scraggly, bare brown branches rose above it, providing meager shelter against the weather.
Not that she needed shelter anymore.
Drifts piled up against the edges and the steps were impossible to see.
I sank in to the knee on the first step. Wet and cold seeped in past my pants and trickled down my bare skin.
I pushed my hands through the snow for something solid to brace my hands against. The snow was soft and white as my hair. Perfect.
I crawled up to the top of the tumulus, slowly and with great care. Cold seeped into me until I felt as though my bones were made of ice and my belly filled with rock pellets.
Gray edged my vision and my breath made foggy puffs of wind in the air. Snow started to fall again. It dotted my black coat like a white fungus. My face heated under the falling flakes and I laughed.
The sky was white, a glorious white, beautiful as my absent wife. It warmed me as she did. This snow, it was better than the softest wool blanket.
I stood at the top of the tumulus, panting. Blood covered my fingers, but all I felt was burning. This burn didn’t hurt, couldn’t compare to the ache in my chest.
I sank down under the nearest tree. Snow crusted my pants and shoes and shirt. But I didn’t care. The tree’s slender branches bracketed the sky and I knew I was home.
She chortled and spun the hard black lace. Sweet, delightful air rushed past her wings.
She grinned and hopped backward, watching. It spun and spun!
Oh! Such fun!
Below, her provider paused and looked up. Now he would see.
She jumped and grabbed hold of the pretty blackness and yanked, wings beating furiously.
It was off! It spun faster and faster, until she hardly needed to make it go. Wind pushed her forward, glorious, speedy air. It was better than her provider’s big metal den.
“Sofia!” Her provider stood below her, waving his hands. “No! No, Sofia. Sit.”
Concerned, she let go and drifted down. He only sounded like that when some danger tried to cut off her wings.
“Good girl.” His hands cupped her back, warm and comforting. “What were you doing up there anyway, huh? We’ll get you some sugar and you can play in your cart, okay? But stay away from the mill.”
I’ve been thinking about my writing style, but I don’t think I actually have one. Not in terms of sentence structure, feel or anything else, either. All those things change with the story. Maybe I’ve just never found my particular style.
The few times I’ve managed to infuse some sort of style in my stories, it’s related to the character or the setting or something.
I am thinking now that style could be another way to do exposition, to reveal things about character in a non-obvious way. It probably works best in first person POV, but could work pretty well in a third person limited POV, too.
Some of that is probably because I read/write mostly fantasy and lots of fantasy is written in the “transparent window pane” sort of style – plain and unobtrusive and not noticeable. The reader notices it as much as those birds who slam into windows in window cleaner commercials. (But with less pain!)
But not all of it because some fantasy writers do have a distinctive style. I know, because all of their books sound similar. You think it’s the characters’ voice. But it’s not, because the language is similar not only across many books and many different characters, but different series as well. Similar enough you know who the writer is with only a single sample page. I know with these writers the way the book is written reflects nothing about the character.
Some of this is probably because I’ve always tried to write in the POV character’s style rather than my own. I try to figure out a few words/phrases the character loves and use those in as varied a way as I can.
A part of me no doubt thought if my character had a way of speaking, preferred some words over others, liked to repeat certain phrases, liked to go on and on and on, there would be a reason and would go to illustrate their character. If they didn’t, it might be best to keep the style as neutral as possible.
What do you think? Can the style of a piece serve as exposition as well? Should it?
Step. Step. Step.
Gasp. Step. Gasp.
She staggered inside, shuddered as the heat of the store made its way under her jacket, sweater, shirt, thermals and scarf.
She ignored the roars and rush of the crowd.
Instead, she clenched with her numb, worn gloved fingers a yellow ticket: small, badly printed, but the answer to her dreams.
The check-out line grew long behind her, wove around product displays and was full of loud chatter.
She ignored it all.
The small slim box the checkout girl handed her was wonderful. Perfect. Others wouldn’t think so, but she could type now. Write whatever she wanted, whenever she wanted to. Watch videos, even.
She no longer needed to wait on the school’s computer labs.
I haven’t written a word today. Just one of those days. And I don’t feel well enough to force myself to write.
But I’ve been pondering my protagonist’s character profile. He has a thing for art and exercise. I haven’t shown either in the WiP so far. I’ve just told it, breaking the cardinal rule of showing and not telling. They’re important enough to the character a part of me thinks they need to be shown.
Neither of those passions of the character are important to the character are important to the plot. So I need to find some very subtle way to work it in.
I just haven’t figured out a way to work it in.
On Twitter I asked advice about what to do about minor, inconsistent characters.
A Twitter friend said I should write down everything I know about them and that can become a reference. That sounds like a character profile to me.
I haven’t created character profiles for the WiP yet. I could have, especially for the main character and the secondary characters I knew about. But I wanted to get on with it, you know? I didn’t want to stop and fiddle with an excel file or a word file for the characters. Instead, if I forget the eye color or something, I go back and look it up.
I need to create character profiles now. I’ll probably wait until the WiP is done or create it now. I haven’t made up my mind. I do know I’ll be using OneNote app on my tablet. I want to try it out and it seems perfect for this. Better than either excel or word.
Is doing it this way a bit weird? At least this way I’ll have a list of all characters that need a profile.
And I’ll know what kind of things I keep looking up: physical characteristics, descriptions of surroundings and stuff like that.
Also, the more nebulous, personal stuff that I know is changing right now from appearance to appearance for minor characters, the stuff that makes a character a character, and that stuff that needs to especially consistent. (Unless something happens to a character that makes them change, things that don’t usually happen to minor characters.)
It feels a little backward, to create them at the end of a novel instead of the beginning. Who else creates character profiles at the tail end of a WiP?