Scenes from My Novel and some stuff from my life.

The book gets written, scene by scene and moment by moment. I’ve taken to getting up early and really working at it. I don’t edit as I go any more. Getting the first draft out is more important. I’ll worry about the spelling and the grammar later. I’m a plotter too. Through and through.

The scene below is inconsequential really except for an exchange with Gadrial, the Gypsy who’s about to sneak up on our poor bard below and scare the living daylights out of him. Kenrati, is a difficult character to write as I don’t like him. He whines and he’s a coward. But I do understand him, he’s arrogant and self obsessed and difficult. People don’t listen to him because he bores them. His heart is empty. It makes him a pretty rubbish bard but actually a really interesting character to write.

I guess not all characters are heroic types. You have to have some balance, the world is full of a myriad of different souls and who would believe if they were all the same?

So here’s a scene, we’re at chapter 12 here I think. As always it’s a first draft.

Campfires and hot salty broth have caused Kenrati’s delicate disposition to want to rid himself of the food in the most expedient way. He’s wandered some way from the camp not wanting the others to hear the noises his arse is sure to be making, a dead weight laying on his stomach.

He makes his way through the trees. Damn gypsy talking about the world like he owned it. Kenrati is not a warrior or a scholar but he knows the teachings of the Chantry and he’s studied in the old archives with the original scripts from just a thousand years after the cataclism. Who did that old man think he was. Everyone knew the gypsies were not to be trusted. Possessed by Demons half of them, probably. They wouldn’t submit to giving up their children if they had talent like all the others. He is unsure why the Chantry tolerates it. Something about laws made when the Elanati had assisted in a war some thousands of years ago. They were left to manage their own when it came to the talents.

The world is changing, he smiles to himself and wonders how long before the Chantry manages to overturn the old laws. It’s said that the Gypsies are spreading some sort of plague because of their contact with demons as the talented have no watchers. He stubs a toe on a branch and curses under his breath. He giggles, now the language he just used wasn’t exactly fit for the Chantry either. He looks up between the branches of the trees’ in the clearing and looks for the constellations he learnt at Black Rock. Master Briggs, had hit their hands with a birch cane if they’d got even one stars name wrong. His memory hadn’t made him popular with the masters or the other students. He’d been hit with that birch cane across his hands and back a few times too, even though he’d never got a single test wrong. Something about teaching him humility. He’d never really been sure why those monks had hit him. Whatever they’d been trying to teach, he could never remember. He shivered lightly. He’d been eight when his parents had left him there. They’d thought him possessed by a Demon, his memory was so good he could remember everything he read and anything that was said with perfect clarity. It was the headaches that made them fearful and then the terrible fits.

He hadn’t been a popular child, he’d been fat and preferred the books in his father’s library, to playing with the other children.

For fates sake, the Easenters may use slaves but at least they gave their children up. Make sure the world remained safe from the underworld. His thoughts have taken him a little further than he’d like but there was nothing for it. He unlaced his trousers pulling at the string fastening, once loose he pushed the soft moleskin fabric down over his thighs and as he crouched he felt his bowels loosen, not a moment too soon, he thought.

Another Saturday and the start of another scene.

The rock caves in the cliffs of Hevensar are cold and damp. The damp isn’t minded all that much by those who work within. They are glad about the cold. You can’t keep bodies in the summer heat. They bloat. They split. That’s not the worst of it. The smell in the summer heat, makes a man retch. You’ll lose your breakfast.

You wouldn’t think you’d need guards for the dead. The four fully armed soldiers with the pointy sharp spears stood at the small opening entrance don’t know why they have this easy task. After-all it’s not like the residents of the night cave are likely to get up and walk out. There are ghost stories of course, of the Arbiter.

Jarant approaches the guards and explains, voice lowered, why he needs access to the cave. The use of the Bears official name causes the men to become far more acquiescent. Jarant is in plain clothes, the black uniform of the warden placed aside. It is better for an investigator to be slightly less noticeable. The uniform is iconic and carries certain weights of assumption with it. He is still wearing his favourite midnight blue cloak, he rarely wears any other.

Damp, is an apt word for this space, as he journeys past the guards and through the small opening. The corridor is lit by wall sconces, the orange flames cast a dim glow as he moves forward towards the opening about a hundred yards in. The light in the cavern is bright, and he moves his hand to shade his eyes from the glare.

“People are often surprised by the light in here,” he can’t see the owner, “Err, yes it is” His eyes adjust and a half man is stood on a stool leant over a corpse, laid out on one of the three tables. The other two are empty yet stained. He tries not too look so closely. The corpse the half-man is ministering too is dead and no doesn’t have the traditional coins on the eyes, they remain open having turned white and glassy. Deep red burns hang like a necklace in the neck area, a sure sign the man was executed, probably strung up from the tree in the Flower Market Square.

The little man has a sharp knife in his hands and the corpse’s stomach is open, the flesh peeled back to expose the organs. There is a pungent strong smell and whilst Jarant is used to death, he gags a little.

“Pot, on the table over there, wipe it under the nose and you’ll find it doesn’t bother you as much.” The man doesn’t look up and lifts the corpses organs into small silver bowls. Jarant see’s a liver go in and decides to take the man’s advice. There are scrolls, parchment and diagrams on the table along with comprehensive notes made in tiny script.

Jarant, wipes the pungent smelling contents of the jar under his nose and reads an entry from the script.

“The year of the maker 1345, September 1st. Received another executed thief. Male, average build and in fair health for a convict who has spent six months in Hevensar Dungeon.”

It goes on to describe the condition of the organs and an Arbiter tumour wrapped around a lung. The man was dead anyway the small script cites. He hears a cough and turns. Jarant looks down, the half man is stood in front of him with his arms folded across his chest. He doesn’t look amused and Jarant feels a bit embarrassed and sticks out his hand for the man to shake.

“Names, Jarant..” The man looks at his hand for a second considering it and then smiles up at the warden. “I won’t shake, diseases that the dead carry and all that.” He smiles, “probably for the best.”

The bit before the writing starts in earnest. A prologue

The four hooded figures walk towards their destiny, moving up the mountain towards the peak. Their steps are slow and measured, each carrying a burden that they are unable to lay down. The wind whistles through the craggy rocks tugging at the grey robes with icy fingers.

Thoughts of those that are missing, carry their feet on. Two missing sets of footsteps should echo with them. Six have become four.

Today is not a stormy night as you may imagine the day when the world will end, the wind whistles but the sky is clear and blue. There are no clouds on the horizon, the only signs that something is amiss are the deafening silence and the terrible coldness. No cheerful crickets or birds sing on the path and even the trudging footsteps are muffled. Their breath mists in the clear freezing air, signs of the exertion that climbing the mountain causes.

Ten the prophecy states, it will take ten to change and right the world. There is no turning back, what is done can never be undone and they go to meet the Dark God. There is no hope, the world is doomed. They are four and there should be six.

The traitor walks with them, which makes them three. Three good people cannot right the world. Under the hooded cloak the traitor smiles and the four walk on.

Three things that make Characters POP!

I have been writing furiously for the last few weeks and have neglected my blog somewhat, so apologies for that. I had some serious planning and structuring to do around the novel, which has become a trilogy….

One of the hardest things to get right for us writerers in this little pen monkeys humble opinion is Character.

So here are my three top tips to make your character pop.
1. Characters show themselves in many ways, most of them are not just about what they say or what their eyes and face are doing. There are thousand different little ques that people give off, these are non verbal and not centred around just the eyes. Try livening up your character by talking about areas other than the peepers. Notice how that makes the character pop a little more on the page? As a novice writer it is sometimes tempting to write about our darlings like walking eye sticks. Stay away from this approach unless you’re writing sci-fi.

2. It is not always what they say but also what they leave out. Whilst you’ve heard the words “Show” don’t “tell” since you have been able to pick up a pen. This also applies to not telling. How much do you hate it when an author info dumps in dialogue. Keep it short, keep it snappy and keep it real. This is a person talking not a plot device!

3. Tension reveals character. Know you characters really well. If you are a writerer of a novel. Character sheets are a god-send. It’s not so much about stifling your creativity more about really knowing who you are writing about. The better and more worked out their wants and needs, the easier it is for your character to tell you something about themselves. It is also easier for them to stay in character and lets you get on with the exciting task of developing that tension.

So that’s it from me and thanks for listening.

Comments as always welcome!