Sunday, December 30, 2012

Creationist Commando

     Streams of orange filtered through the small window beside my chair.  I was trying to read a dissertation on evolution—laughing all the way—when I heard a sharp noise toward the front of my townhouse.   The next sound was unmistakable—the turning of a door-knob.
     My heart skipped a single beat.  I bent the corner of my page and tossed the magazine on the floor.   “Another break-in,” I called into the phone.  The number was on speed-dial.
     I rose to my feet, taking time to stretch.  Shoulder rolls, lunges, neck circles—what am I forgetting? Oh, yeah, my wrist stretches.  Lithe and ready, I drew my Swiss Army knife and crept beside the opening into the hall.
     The thief crossed into the room toting what looked like a Santa sack.  I laughed audibly.  He blinked hard.
     Metal blurred as I struck him in the thigh and twisted in a quarter-turn.  His cry of pain was cut short by my fist slamming into his jawbone.  The low-life tried to get a quick jab in below my belt, but I stopped it with my free hand and tugged him to my blood-red carpet.
     Another, less whimsical, man entered at a run. I stuck out my leg and sent him flying.  The sharpness in his eyes was evident.  Although, maybe it was just the perfect combat roll talking.
     The second intruder made two critical mistakes.  His first came a split-second after he regained his footing.  I dodged the soaring knife with ease.  The second was more dramatic.  “Lord Jesus,” he spat.  It took me a moment to talk myself out of whacking his head off.  Instead I drove the bottom of my palm into his right temple.
     A sudden pain shot through my back.  My lips pursed.  A cold stream began to flow almost at once.  Before it could, however, I had the original thief on his back in front of me clutching the back of his skull where it had hit the floor.  “We didn’t take anythin’ yet, missir’,” he moaned.  “Don’t kill us.  Please.”
     “You’ve already chosen death for yourself,” I said.  “‘Thou shalt not steal.’”  Sirens rang out distantly.  “I’ll let the cops sort you out for now.  I have my own commandment to keep.  Lucky you.”

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Links to Link Lists

Today I'm not only going to not post an essay-sort-of-thing about writing, I'm not even going to give you direct links to posts about writing.  Instead, I'm going to link to two other people's sets of links.  Sorry, I was about to attempt to fall asleep when I remembered that I needed to post.

Mr. Jeff Hargett's Sunday Surfing

Ms. Charlie Holmberg's Link Blitz

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Chirstmas

Merry Christmas all ye faithful.  I'm having a great one and I hope everyone else is as well.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Grace, Please Lead Me Home (5/5)

     Nom marched over to his new position.  The Urian cavalry ahead and to the right of him made yet another charge into the Ueklandian flank.  The barbarians were pushed backward, a large portion of their outermost column trampled or speared.  The infantry and cavalry formed a right angle, surrounding their foes and continually battering them.  As the cavalry retreated, Sir Connor swung wider and rode up near Nom.
     “How are you feeling?” he asked.  His spear was severely bloodstained.
     “Not very well, but I’m strong enough to fight,” Nom replied.
     “We could use your help in our left center.  Our bowmen have been overrun.  Get on; I’ll ride you over there.  This area is pretty secure.”
     Nom walked over and mounted Sir Connor’s auburn charger, dry-heaving and digging his heels into its sides as it sped to a canter.  Nom’s broadsword, freshly cleaned, was sitting in his scabbard at his side.  It wouldn’t be of much use however, for it was almost too heavy for him to wield in his left hand while he was still unstable from being hung-over.  The only other weapon Nom had was a dagger on his left hip, but using such a short weapon against the long-hafted axes of the Ueklanders would be folly.
     The battlehorse sped past the entire right side of the battlefield, a quarter mile of scattered melees.  The Urians were winning for sure here, but from what could be hurt on the left side from this distance it did not sound like it was the same there.  Sir Connor stopped his horse just past the center of the field, allowing Nom to dismount.
     “I’m going to help out the left flank.  May Remish bring you strength,” he said, and rode off.  Nom looked around.  The Urian defense here was down to its last three lines in some places, and if it collapsed than the Ueklanders could get behind the other soldiers and wreak utter havoc.  Nom pushed through the last lines, which consisted of heavily trained halberdiers to Nom’s relief, and unsheathed his sword barely in time to parry an oddly equipped Ueklandian swordsman.
       Nom hacked the oppressor down, then another, until he was heavily winded.  Nom took a moment to breathe, looking down for only a fraction of a second.  Unfortunately it was too long.  A Ueklander sprinted toward him and swung at him with an iron mace.  Nom lifted his sword to block the strike, but the force was enough to knock it from his hand.  The brave assailant extended his arm and brought it down on Nom’s unprotected head.  Nom stood for a moment, drew his dagger, and stabbed the man.  The world tinted dark.  Then all went black.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Writing Combat

One of the most exciting things you can write is combat.  It doesn't matter if it's hand-to-hand, ranged, or explosive, fighting is one of the most directly heart-pounding conflicts.

I've written several types of combat scenes.  While they have their own unique mechanics, all of them share a structure of short sentences, vivid language, and low dialogue.

Skirmishes for entertainment are rare, but I have written one.  It needed to be very expressive and contemplative to keep full attention of the audience while the "camera" is moved from facing directly at the protagonist, especially since it was in the first chapter (perhaps that bit isn't the most recommended).  Here is the final version of the scene (from the first incarnation/draft of The Lost Mountains, my epic fantasy, written when I was about 12): 
     "Fredric looked over the parchment he was writing upon, as he was quite an intellectual sir, whilst two men stood fighting twenty feet in front of him. He watched so intently at points, that Fredric didn’t notice the ink from his quill drip all over his cloth breeches. The two huge berserkers wielded bloodied axes and wore wolf skin helmets.  Both men were near oblivious in rage and must have wet themselves in pain and weakness, for their clothing was soaked and dripped of a yellow liquid that was not sweat or blood.  Fredric now watched, the excitement overtaking his hate for fights of entertainment. 
     The warrior’s were now in the heat of pitched battle, one man, Ergot was his name if the crowd’s cheers were correct, swung his poleaxe in a full swing to meet the others’ making him stagger backward.  Josef, the other warrior, soon recovered his footing and struck at Ergot’s thighs where no armor protected.  He was then hit on the crown of the skull with the unsharpened end of Ergot’s axe and was sent to the ground, blood spilling onto him from the Ergot’s gash.  Luckily, he had valiant battle instincts and proceeded to roll away across the field as he kept his axe’s haft in his teeth.  Ergot, the Strong some called him, charged him like a ravenous wolf and was about to make a slash over his brow, when Josef took the handle of his weapon under the head of his axe, and with a powerful jerk, ripped it from his fists.  As he was doing this, he also kicked at his attacker’s shins to knock him to the ground, and growled like a tiger in the midst of his prey. 
     Now only several moments after Fredric had started really enjoying the melee before him, Josef laid his final blow with his axe, and drifted unconscious only inches away from the blood splattered across the field, near the opposing berserker’s severed head.  Fredric returned to his parchment and wrote of what his mind was dabbling over, something he did a lot to keep his mind exercised and clear.  He had much of his scroll scrawled upon in his ebony black ink before he noticed an eerie wind behind his back.  Little conversation was spoken in the crowd of Ivorian chefs, local lords, and the Kavimeran Company, as it would later be called, whilst the King of Ivor walked proudly to the center of the war torn field where the fight had been held.  He wore garments of fine purple-dyed silk and had bronze colored hair and a light brown mustache which hid a long, thin scar which stretched across his upper lip."

Melee is shear fun.  It's also a great way to get your audience to like your characters.

Guns and firearms are great for hitting the senses.  You hear the explosion of gunpowder, smell and see the smoke (typically stinging your eyes), and feel recoil.  My short story "The Battle of Fort Dawn" uses Civil War equivalent firearms and cannon.

The only time combat is not a great part of a story is when it is done between a party of armed and a party of unarmed combatants.  In that case, it's simply horrific.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Voice Season 3 Final

The final of The Voice is tonight.  Who shall be the victor?

Will it be Nicholas David, singer with soul, an amazing beard, and a flowing mane?

Perhaps Cassadee Pope, the veteran band leader with power and versitality?

Or Terry McDermott, a Scottish rocker given "just a little bit more" (Blake Shelton) of the ability to rock?

Only Carson Daly knows.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Grace, Please Lead Me Home (4/5)

     Markus stretched his arm back into his quiver and drew a bolt.  He loaded, tilted the crossbow slightly upward, and squeezed the trigger.  The glorified dart flew nearly straight ahead before arching down to unknown effect.  Load, fire, load, fire, he thought.  The monotony was killing him.  The Ueklanders were getting closer and closer, but all he could do was load, fire, load, fire.  To make it worse, his brown quiver had only twenty bolts remaining in it.
     An eagle soared through the sky fifty yards in front of him.  Markus adjusted his angle and fired, dropping the screeching bird down onto the shouting barbarians.  Now that’s much more effective than any single bolt, he thought.
     “Ha, that’s a cool idea, killing Ueks with birds, I’ll have to try that,” said a man beside Markus, whom he knew was named Roger.  Roger did likewise, barely striking a soaring hawk the first time he saw one coming.  The effect was quite the same.   Several other people started repeating Markus’s actions, making sure to tell the others they were firing so that only one bolt was used per bird.  They missed a lot, but if they did the bolt itself would fall on the Ueklanders anyway. 
     Markus was grinning ear to ear.  Then he hurt the battle cry.  “Ueks straight ahead!” someone shouted.  Markus took a cord from a side pocket in his quiver and tied the crossbow to it.  He drew the short sword from his belt and waited.  His body shook.  His hands went slick.  The man just in front of Markus crumpled.  Markus stepped forward and threw a blind jab, miraculously placed into the axeman’s ribcage.  Markus withdrew his short sword and kicked the stunned savage into the man behind him.  He reached into his quiver and hurled a bolt into the face of the Ueklander that was effectively pinned down.
     Another one jumped over his fallen comrades’ bodies, club raised.  Markus grabbed the man’s club hand with his off-hand, slammed his knee into the man’s groin, and delivered a killing stab.  The shock in his left arm caused it to go numb.  Ueklanders came in from every direction.  Markus sheathed his sword and dove to the ground, looking dead to all who saw him. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Writing Concepts I've Learned Outside of English Class

  • Deus Ex Machina
  • M.I.C.E. Quotient
  • Manuscript sizes
  • Arcs
  • Subgenres
  • Hollywood Formula
  • Age Divisions
  • Watson Character
  • Character Motivation
  • Scope
  • Tropes
  • World-Building
  • Discovery Writing versus Outlining
  • Three-Act Format
  • Yes, and/No, but
  • x3 Foreshadowing Rule
  • Brevity/Multiple Importance
  • Jargon
  • Everyman
  • Pacing
  • Anti-Hero
  • Prologues

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

My Next Big Thing

I'm honored to state that Mr. Hargett of Strands of Pattern tagged me in the My Next Big Thing (mine will be the next big thing right after his).  I must answer ten questions about my current WIP.  I don't really know many bloggers who actually do these tagged events, so I'm not going to tag anyone, sorry.


1.   What is the working title of your book?
The Lost Mountains

2.    Where did the idea come from for the book?
I chose five or so objects randomly and included them in the first scene.  After writing that, I pretty much kept adding in things off the top of my head.  My latest idea for a minor subplot was made because I wanted a character to stroke his mustache.  I started building a character and a subplot around the idea.

3.   What genre does the book fall under?
It's Epic Fantasy with a bit of Heroic Fantasy (a knight instead of an everyman protagonist).

4.   Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
I don't think it would translate well into a screenplay.

5.   What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
When a band of knights hits its prime, an equal gang of evil creatures awakens with the intent to destroy all good.

6.   If you plan to publish, will your book be self-published or published traditionally?
I refuse to self-publish.  If it isn't good enough to be traditionally published by a large press, I'll just have to write another.

7.   How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I haven't finished yet, but I started it in June of 2009.

8.   What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
The Hobbit (although with an older audience)

9.   Who or What inspired you to write this book?
My cousin Zachary Shenal and my sixth grade English teacher

10.   What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?
It has dragons (albeit with some twists) and a rather unique magic system.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Grace, Please Leave Me Home (3/5)

     “Back into formation soldiers,” shouted Sir Kane, the head of Nom’s unit of men-at-arms.  The camp became alive with men strapping on armor or ramming some food into their bellies.  The moon was in its waning quarter, the lack of light causing many to stumble or put on their surcoats inside out.
     Nom was still unconscious and woozy, lying in his tent.  A red-soaked bandage was wound tightly around the stump of his right forearm.  His tent mate shook him awake, causing him to open his eyes a crack and groan.  The pain and stiffness was intense, both on his arm and in his throat.  A sudden need to vomit caused Nom to stumble into a bipedal stance and rush outside, bile brown and liquid.  After severe bouts of wretching, Nom wiped off his mouth and laid back down in his tent, for he hadn’t thought to take his armor off before getting intoxicated and was already prepared for battle. 
     “Wake up, armsman,” a young man shouted several minutes later.
     “Father?” Nom’s face was sincere.
     “Come on Nom, you know me.  The savages are approaching, we need your…” the boy slowly lifted his finger to point at Nom’s bloody bandage.   “What?”  He stooped down beside Nom scarcely before a bead of drool ran down his clean-shaven muzzle.  “Good Remish, Nom.  Your sword hand…”
     Nom coughed and groaned.  “Smashed.  Gone.”  He did a quarter turn and puked again before resuming unconsciousness. 
     The boy’s features tightened, but he was too shocked to really be disgusted.  “So that’s why you’re acting so strange.”  He turned his head to shoat outside, “Sir Connor, you must see this.”
     “What is it William?” the knight asked as he entered the tent.  His expression was even worse than his squire’s.  “Nom, what devil from the Underland did this?”
     “Just a big stick,” Nom slurred.
     Sir Connor shouted out, “I need some fresh bandages in here.”  He began to unravel Nom’s soiled dressing, revealing jagged bone and blood-caked flesh.
     “Here, Sir,” said the entering surgeon that had done Nom’s amputation.  “Oh, how is he doing?”
     “Thank you.”  Sir Connor cleaned out the wound and swathed it with the new wrapping.  “William, go fetch me some water.”
     Loud screaming could be heard very close at hand.   The sounds of a pitched battle became continually more eminent as the squire struggled back to the tent, oak bucket in hand.  Some of the contents sloshed out as he entered.
     Sir Connor looked up and said, “I bucket!  I suppose it will suffice, but use some sense William.”  William set the bucket down and backed off.  Sir Connor parted Nom’s lips, cupped his hands to get some water, and poured it into Nom’s mouth, tilting his body slightly to keep him from drowning.  He continued to do this, pausing between each cycle, for quite a spell.
     Nom finally woke up, the alcohol cleaning out of his system, and rushed toward a bush.  Sir Connor grinned and said, “William, you stay and look after Nom, I am going into the right flank to assist the heavy cavalry.  When Nom returns to himself, tell him to the go to the outside right infantry quarter where I can keep an eye on him.”
     “I will, Sir.  May Remish keep you safe and strong.”