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Flash Fiction

I’m not getting a lot on the writing front done, which is quite typical of me really.  I have an inner critique that could make Simon Cowel look like someone’s dotting grandmother talking to her favorite grandchild.  I will often not proceed with any project that I don’t think, on some level, I can do well.  It’s a paralyzing thing, and I am working on.

Okay, flash fiction.  That’s what I’m doing right now.  While I think about what I want to do next, pick up an old project that I’m probably not competent enough to write yet and do any justice too, or start something a little more simple, I’m doing some flash fiction.

I like it for a couple reasons.  First is that it’s short and fairly easy to do, without the rigors of long plotting, world building and character developing sessions.  Second, it keeps you writing and with the word limits, keeps your writing tight.  It teaches you to drop the extraneous word clutter that slows down the reader and bores them to tears.  Everyone could learn to write lean.  Third, and perhaps my favorite reason, my inner critique is SILENT when I write flash fiction.  I don’t worry about messing it up, I don’t care if it’s good or not.  Well, I care if it’s good, but I’m not concerned about ruining a long, arduously built world and story.  If it comes out being terrible, it’s okay, I haven’t wasted months on it and I’m not going to have to spend a month trying to fix it.

Reason four, I don’t mind sharing it either.  And here’s the picture I used as a prompt.

Flash Fiction 03-07-2013

Lacruse put one steel shod foot on the rail and looked up, trying to ignore the sweat running down his back. The tree was enormous, not only the largest he’d ever seen but beyond what he’d imagined possible. It was as big around as the walled city of Padfeal and was rumored to hold more people. The forest that grew around it looked more like clumps of tall flowers than proper trees.

He wiped a gloved hand across his damp forehead and took in the shallow lake, mazed with roots from the monster that reached to the shores like drunken bridges, allowing access from every direction. People in simple, colorful clothing walked them, burdened like pack mules. They looked a lot cooler than he felt in the thick, humid air.

The first level of the Great Tree Dwelling was visible, the sun low enough to reach it and set its brightly colored decorations to glowing even from across the water. Blue lights that hung in the darkness of the upper levels winked through the leaves reaching up and up, out of sight.

And the whole damned thing was completely indefensible.

He kept his face neutral, betraying nothing to the natives around him.

“Gentke, how high is the city from the water?” he asked his translator and official leason.

The dark eyed young man considered. “Dry season now, so six men, maybe seven.”

“The dry season?”

Gentke nodded, fingering a bright yellow and blue feather that adorned his much thinner and far more comfortable looking shirt. “Rains flood the lake in two moons time. Will be much higher then.”

He ignored the impulse to take off his helmet and throw it in the lake. “How high does it flood?”

The native pointed to a passing tree.

Lacruse looked, running his eyes up the trunk, along the thin tendrils that reached to the water from it like roots. Twenty feet up the tendrils disappeared and the trunk became smooth bark, like any tree. He felt relief flood him. No army would have enough boats on hand and then he realized that there weren’t any boats on the water around them. They’d taken a boat from the highlands, this wasn’t a native vessel.

“Do you have boats that you use in the rainy season?”

Gentke blinked. “No. Only fishing men need boats.”

“So you stay in the city in the rainy season?”

Gentke looked up at him as if he were a child asking if the sun would come up tomorrow. “No.”

Lacruse felt his face flush in the tropical warmth and asked, teeth firmly clenched. “But you don’t have boats. How?”

“The branch-ways.” He pointed up at the huge branches that radiated out from the trunk. They were easily as large as the roots and he thought he could just make out small shapes moving along them.

“Where do they go?”

“To the high places.” He said slowly and nodded to the hills that rose around the lake.

The Lord Protector of the great highland kingdom of Rarimor wanted to laugh. In the dry season an army could walk to the city along the roots and in the rain they could walk along the bloody branches.

He closed his eyes and with great deliberation unbuckled his armor. The breast plate fell to the wooden floor of the boat with a clang, followed closely by the back.

Gentke looked on with interest while his man servant looked horrified and came running to collect the piece. He grinned. “Come on Fourt, help me get the rest of this mess off.”

“Sir.” The man said with a bow of his head but his tone clearly said he thought his Lord was touched.

“Gentke,” Lacrouse said, shucking out of a boot with a sigh as fresh air cooled his wet clothes. “I hope you might provide me with clothes in the style of your people?”

Fourt made a strangled sound behind him, but he ignored it.

Gentke grinned. “You will be more comfortable.”

“I’m begning to see that.”

“Fourt, bring me a fresh set of clothes.” He looked down at the heavy wool of his shirt and frowned. “Make that a fresh set of under clothes. Anything else would be foolish in the extreme.”

“Sir?”

“We aren’t in Rarimor. I have three moons, maybe less to try and defend this place. I think I should learn about it first.”

“I did not think there was wisdom among the mountain people. I am glad I was wrong.” Gentke said.

Lacrouse laughed.

 

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Weaving the tangled skein.

This, for me is always the hardest part. I never have too much trouble creating characters, a world, the magic system, back stories, motivations and so forth. That seems to be rather easy for me. It’s always the plot that trips me up. Nothing small, oh no. And I’m not saying that I make all this stuff with no idea for a plot…okay, it happens on occasion, but I set those aside to work on more later. I have an idea for the plot it’s just really basic. I usually come up with a basic premise and a few major plot points…and then I tend to get stuck…

How do I go from having a really solid idea of what’s going to happen on the grand scale, to near paralysis on the details? It happens every time and it’s always frustrating. I’m not the best at plotting. I think it’s in how I think, I’m a big picture kind of girl. I see the forest, but the trees are a bit hard to distinguish.

What really makes me crazy is that I’m super annoying to watch movies with because I can almost always figure out where the plots going. I’m the one going “Oh! That’s why he wants that thing-a-ma-do” ten minutes before he uses the thing-a-ma-do. So, if I can see plot arches to easily, why can’t I create them?

I know why, I’m not good at holding a lot of things in my head at once. I don’t think I’ll ever be too good at getting more than two plots lines in the same story. Not without a whole lot of whiteboard and a dedicated assistant. I’m not that great at chess either, because I can only see a few moves at a time. And that thinking is part of what makes it hard. When you don’t think you’ll be good at something, you keep second guessing yourself. I’m totally guilty. Half the time I don’t trust my own plot point choices. Self confidence, or at least the wilingness to just give it a try, will do a lot toward perfecting ones art. It’s something I’ll have to to work on, and I’m up for the challenge, but it’s still annoying. ^_^

 
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Posted by on January 22, 2011 in All About Writing

 

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The Sound that Moves

I’ve been thinking a lot about music today. I always do when I’m writing. I have a lot of trouble writing if I don’t have the right music to go with it. Music helps me focus. When I was in high school, my mother would scoff at these assertions, and I didn’t really know how to describe it to her. I do now. Without music, my mind wanders.

I’m not the best at focusing intently on a single thing for long periods of time. For 5 min to a half hour, sure. More than that? My brain melts and starts dripping out of my ears. My mind NEEDS more than one thing to think about at a time, or I start to go a little nuts. That’s why I am so very picky about the MP3 players I have. (I stumbled onto the best one without realizing it and I will never give it up! GRRRRR)

I know I’m not the only one and I find it interesting to see what other people listen to. Or how they pick the music. That’s sometimes hard for me. A) Because I have too many songs, some I’ve forgotten I have and B) because I’m always looking for a certain feeling. I have gone so far as to put a song on reply until I finish a scene to keep the feeling of the scene in my mind, in my body.

So here are a few of my favorites. I happen to love Battlestar Galactica, the new remake, not the original, but even if you didn’t like it much, the music was amazing. I have all the soundtracks and there is every feeling you could want in that mix. I have few favorite though that I know by name. The Shape of Things to Come from Season one is probably the one I love the most. It always gives me chills when I listen to it. It’s gentle, sweet and yet insistent, pressing, expectant, all at the same time. When I first heard it on the show I was entranced by the sound of it. I wish the track were longer. Passacaglia, also from Season one has a similar feel to it as The Shape, but it’s five minutes instead of three and has a more consistent feel to it. The violins are just gorgeous. It’s a fairly simple piece, but I think that’s what makes it so lovely. And I can’t mention the music of this series without mentioning Gaeta’s Lament from Season Four. It’s just haunting, the minor tones unsettling and yet beautiful. It’s great for that melancholy feel, and I now sing it for hours after hearing it.

Yeah, I like Anime. I’m eclectic in my tastes, so sue me. You should see my music library, you’d really scratch your head. Anyway, this is a great soundtrack for a more Sci-Fi feel and also delivers a wide range of emotion, but with an electronic age feel to it. The opening songs are amazing. Who am I kidding, anything Kanno Yoko does is amazing. She’s done so many soundtracks for so many anime and they all have their own flare, their own feel but I almost always know when Kanno is doing the music.

Final Fantasy Piano Collection is another one I listen to a lot while writing. And there are a whole plethora of songs that I can’t begin to name. They are part of the lifeblood of my writing. Without them there to keep me focused, to keep me feeling a scene, I don’t think I could write. I’m an artistic person and I’ve always said that I’d rather be blind, than deaf. Silence would be torture to me. Darkness holds only possibilities for my imagination. Silence holds death. Maybe I’m being melodramatic. Or maybe just honest.

 
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Posted by on January 20, 2011 in Just to be Random

 

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