January 07, 2004

Getting back into the swing

So Christmas vacation -- what with its two weeks of husband and son home -- has blown away my work habits. I need to cold boot the system. I start by sleeping. Yeah, sleeping. Something I don't do enough of when both guys are home. Don keeps me up late and my son gets me up early.

Then I read what I have. Where was I? What was I doing?

Then I start making little edits. Ohhhh, rough line. Who is talking here?

And finally, fill little holes. Soon I'll be up and running, but right now I'm still trying to get up to speed.

First hole, working in the geography and who is with them better. If you want, go to the earlier entry in my blog and see what the original was and what I added.

"I want to get closer." Tinker scanned the neighboring hillsides, looking for a safe way down to the valley's floor. In Pittsburgh, nothing was as straight forward as it appeared. This area was mostly abandoned - probably with help from the oni to keep people away from their secret compound. The arching line of the Rim, marking where Pittsburgh ended and Elfhome proper began, was defused by advancing elfin forest. Ironwood saplings mixed with jagger bushes in all the open areas - elfin trees colliding with earth weed - to form a dense impenetrable thicket. "Let's find a way down."

"Is that wise, domi?"

No. "Some one has to it. We'll be careful."

She expected more of an argument, but he clicked his tongue in an elfin shrug.

Pony leaned out over the bridge's railing, the spells tattooed down his arms in designs like Celtic knots -- done in Wind Clan blue -- rippled as muscle moved under skin. The hot wind played with tendrils of glossy black hair that come loose from his braid. He looked strong and healthy as ever with no sign of nearly being killed protecting her.

She and Pony had spent the last two days recuperating from their escape from the oni. She'd endured an endless parade of visitors -- her cousin, Oilcan, her human friends, and seemingly all the elves in Pittsburgh -- between bouts of drugged sleep, which gave the entire experience a surreal nightmare feel. Everyone had brought offerings and stories of Turtle Creek, until her bedroom and curiosity overflowed.

Thanks to her new elf regenerative abilities, she healed far faster than when she was a human; she awoke this morning feeling well enough to explore. Much to her dismay, Pony insisted on them bringing a of sekasha with them, but he did pick her favorite five. While Pony and the female Stormsong acted as shields, the other four were being blades, and scouting the area immediately around her. He signaled them now, using the or 'blade talk' of complex hand signals.
Rainlilly, senior of the blades, acknowledged - Tinker recognized that much by now - and her hands flashed through another short set of signals.

"What does she say?"

"They found a safe way down at the end of the bridge."

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Second hole was to do more on geography -- I'm trying to set up that they're far from the nice paved roads of Pittsburgh. Also I thought to throw in some of the weirdness of Elfhome, which gives me an opportunity to drop Lain's name.

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They worked their way around the edge, the hilly terrain making it difficult. At first they found sections of paved road or cut through an abandoned building, which made the going easier. Eventually, though, they'd worked their way out of the transferred Pittsburgh area and into Elfhome proper.

They crossed the creek, frozen solid where it overlapped the effect area. On the opposite bank, they found a black willow dead, lying on its side, and wide track of churned dirt were another had stalked northward.

Pony scanned the dim elfin woods for the carnivorous tree. "We must take care. It is probably still nearby; they do not move fast."

"Thanks gods." Tinker nervously poked at the limb branches of the dead tree. "We should tell Lain that this is here." The xenobiologist often complained that the only specimens she ever could examine were the non-ambulatory seedlings or mature trees blown to pieces to render it harmless. "She would kill for an intact tree."

The tracks of both trees, Tinker noticed, started in the ghost lands. Had the willows been on the move prior to the explosion - or had that area originally been stable afterwards?

"Let me borrow one of your knives." Tinker used the knife Pony handed her to score an ironwood sapling. She made a slash for every foot the tree stood from the fringe. "I want to be able to tell if the area is growing."

Through the haze, she could keep sight of the Westinghouse Bridge. What had not been apparent from above, but now was clear, the effected area was circular, as if the explosion blown a rough hole through the fabric of reality.

Posted by wen at 02:55 PM

January 06, 2004

Building tension -- spoiler

I was just going to introduce the monster with “something hit Tinker” but then I thought it would be best to build the tension by having the “something is near” and lead, step by step up to the monster’s attack. Giving the bodyguards foresight worked well, especially making it seem that some females have it, but not necessarily Pony, so that book one still works as written.

Actually, giving the readers clues of what is coming works best because they can start building an image in their minds what is about to come. Suddenly isn't a good word to use in action (although I love it). It's a shortcut that doesn't really work well.

What works better is to set up a flow of action and then break from it, in a jarring manner, and the true action of "suddenly" is there without resorting to the pre-packaged, freezedried word.

Rainlilly drew her sword and crouched into readiness. Instantly all the other sekasha went tense, hand to their weapons, pulling in tighter around Tinker.

“What is it?” Pony scanned the thick underbrush that Rainlilly faced.

“Something is going to attack,” Rainlilly whispered. “Something large.”

?” Pony spoke a word that Tinker didn’t recognize in question.

Rainlilly nodded.

“What does she see?” Tinker whispered.

“What will be,” Pony made a gesture to back the way they had come. “We’re in an position of weakness. We should retreat to --”

Something huge and sinuous as a snake flashed out of the shadows. Tinker got the impression of scales, a wedge-shaped head, and a mouth full of teeth before Pony leaped between her and the monster. Pony shouted the deep guttural command to activate his magical shields. Magic spilled out of the cobalt blue stones threaded into this hair, traced down the blue tattoos on his arms and flared into a shimmer blue force that encompassed his body.

The creature struck Pony with a blow that smashed him back into Tinker, his shields flashing as they absorbed the brunt of the damage.

Posted by wen at 08:32 AM