Friday, 12 August 2011

Is it hate? - A blogfest entry.

Today is Tessa's Hatefest.

Write about hate, she says. It's a strong emotion - one of the strongest, surely - so it must be there somewhere, in my story, in yours.

Strange how hard it is to find it when you're looking for it. I read through my things, and think, no, that's not really hate, that's just him being tired, offended, hurt, that's just her trying to deflect attention or similar such drivel. Nothing that could qualify as pure hate.

Then I realised the problem - I was justifying the moments of hate my characters go through. He's being nasty? Well, that's just because XYZ. He doesn't really hate her.

See the difference?

So here's a scene where I believe my one MC actually feels hatred, though of course he does so for many, many reasons.

Tay wanted so much to curl up, to vanish into the wall, even, but he could go nowhere. His limbs where held in place by heavy iron shackles that bit into his wrists and ankles. It had been hours - days - since he'd had any feeling in them. 

Time blurred right along with Tay's vision as beatings, hunger and darkness took their toll on the young prince, but one thought kept him there, kept his mind from slipping away completely. 

He would not give in, would not allow the Dark King this final victory. His body might fail him, bits and pieces of him might surrender themselves as he lost the strenght to hold strong, but his mind would remain his own. 

He would find the moment, the opportunity, to get his revenge, and if he had to return from the dead to do so then that's what he'd do. Twice he'd tried to kill the king when he came to check on his prisoner, twice he'd failed. Once, because a spasm in his arm made him drop the make-shift knife. The second time, he'd managed to actually touch Feardorcha's neck before the torturers pulled him back. 

The Dark King had laughed at him, then, but Tay would get the better of him, if it was the last thing he did. 

What do you think? Am I right, is this hate? 

To those of you who've read my other posts on Tay and Doyle, this here is very early on in the story, shortly after Tay was captured. 

Right, now I'm going to go see what the others HERE think of hate...

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Let's Spark our Imagination

Imagination Sparks Blogfest
Click on picture to go to Clancy's Blog and the list of participants.

Thank you to Clancy for coming up with this great idea! Here's one of my all-time favorite writing exercises:

  1. Pick a random novel off your shelf
  2. Get your notebook ready
  3. Let the book fall open to any page
  4. Copy out the first full sentence on that page 
  5. Take a deep breath, sharpen your pencil/open your pen
  6. Off you go, continue on from that line and write for at least a page or a set amount of time. 
I came up with this one myself on one very rainy day. I hope it helps! Now I'm off to see what everyone else uses to get their juices flowing... 

Monday, 18 July 2011

Inspiration brought to us by Summer's Blogfest


I'm a little late (but it is still the 18th, promise!!), most of the participants already have their prompts up, and I'm going to go with the flow and post a picture I made to pretty much inspire myself... hope it does the same for you!

You can find Summer - the host - and the other entrants HERE...

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Blogfest, interrupted....

Hello and welcome all to my post for Sash's Blogfest, interrupted...

The task set is to write/post a 500-1000 word scene where your characters are interrupted doing something - anything.

Here goes my anything...

(Alethaien or Tay is hostage/prisoner to King Feardorcha - called Doyle - and has only recently spent time in the king's dungeons; now he's more or less on parole, Doyle treating him more like a recalcitrant ward or pet than a prisoner; Tay wants to know why...)


The desk was piled high with scrolls, bits of parchment, books, feather quills and charcoal sticks in fancy silver holders. Letters glowed and went dark again as Tay's hand brushed against books of magic. He shuddered and pushed a particularly heavy tome away with his elbow. The power that saturated this room crawled along his spine and made the hair at the back of his neck stand up.

He had to hurry. Being left to cool his heels in Feadorcha's study was a true stroke of luck, but it wouldn't last long. The king was bound to return soon, and if he found Tay searching his papers, there would be hell to pay.

A pile of letters caught his attention. Tay picked up one bearing a red wax seal and held it up to the light of the window.

The red wax had been broken, the letter read by the king, but it was unmistakably the seal Tay's father had used. He touched it carefully, hating the tears that welled up in his eyes. If his father could see him now, prisoner and little more than pet to the heretic king, he'd turn his back on Tay and never speak of him again.

If he knew that Tay's touch made the king's books of magic glow, he'd sign the order of execution himself.

"I see you and I will have to have a conversation about the nature of trust, Alethaien." Tay froze, letter in hand. So close, he'd come so close! He swallowed hard to try to rid himself of the lump in his throat.

"Your majesty," he finally managed to say, though he couldn't bring himself to move, couldn't bring himself to put down the letter.

The king didn't say anything as he moved to stand behind Tay, so close the younger man could feel the warmth of his body. Doyle held out his hand and snapped his fingers when the silent order wasn't immediately followed. Tay shivered and let his fingers go loose. The letter fell into the king's hand.

"I kept this from you for a reason, boy," Doyle said, moving away from his young prisoner. He sat on the chair, unfolding the letter. He looked up at Tay, watched him shiver with tension. "I thought you might do this. You are young, you are in an impossible situation, and you are deadly curious. It was only a matter of time before you tried this."

Tay ducked his head, facing the king without really looking at him. "How did you know?" Tay swept an arm to the side, indicating the desk and its surroundings. "You left me here to wait. How did you know when I would touch the desk?"

Doyle chuckled. "Let me keep some secrets, boy. Maybe I'll tell you some day, maybe I won't have to." 


What did you think of that? Like, unlike? Let me know and then let everyone else know what you think of their entries, please. 

It was nice having you over on the Dark Side of the Woods, thank you for coming. 

Friday, 3 June 2011

Some Days are Darker than Others

I love writing, as I'm sure we all do. But there's some days when my eyes just won't focus on the screen (or paper or whatever), when my synapses won't fire properly and I just cannot find the energy to write.

Life has a way of getting me down on occasion, what with 9-5 (or rather 8-9, if we're being honest) jobs, stressfull business trips with mind-numbing layovers in weirdly homogenous airports in the middle of nowhere, standard contracts that may or may not have hidden clauses you need to figure out (or add, as the case may be) (what, so I'm a lawyer - everyone needs a day-job, even if it's a bloodsuckery one), collegues who text/call/email with stupid questions and bosses who want everything done yesterday, please (while still having sufficient billable hours, of course).

Don't even get me started on family weekends (parents and siblings, not my own family - living the single life, here).

Writing with a day job is exhausting sometimes.

Any tips on how to get my writing spirits up? I've joined Sasha's blogfest (see sidebar) for some inspiration... but I could probably do with another hint or two on getting over the slump.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Dark Ages on the Dark Side of the Woods

I've discovered, much to my chargrin, that I'm miserable at organising myself. My poor blog (Tessa-induced or not) is neglected time and again, left to languish all by itself in the endless ether of 0s and 1s.

(cue creepy music)

And it isn't just my blog. My WIP has been relegated to the back burner, too, condemned to third place behind day job and family. But I'm still determined. I steal what minutes I can.

Like they said, Rome wasn't built in a day, either.

Another reason for my slow WIP-ly progress is a hitch in my plotline. My story takes place in a fantasy world, a make-belief universe filled with magic and swords. Two kingdoms are at war, one ruled by the bastard son of a murdered king, the other by a warlock emperor who has shown no mercy, no humanity, for longer than anyone can remember. Inbetween the two stands Alethaien, who should have been king, who knows nothing of magic but is marked by power not seen in centuries.

Only, I'm stuck doing research. There's a siege involved, you see, and I want to be as realistic as possible. So I'm looking into siege warfare in medieval times.


Does anyone know any good books on the subject? Wikipedia is brilliant, of course, but limited. I want to KNOW, not just know.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Time runs differently on the Dark Side of the Woods

A recurring theme on the blogs I've been browsing lately is time. Where do we find it? Why does it always run away from us? What on earth happened to all that time we thought we had?

The clock is always ticking away.

How does one stop always being in a hurry?

Not a clue. We live in a right-now sort of time. Taking one's own sweet time is a skill that needs to be practiced, and is often maligned.

I'm still doing it, though. I don't have much time to write (no, that's not an excuse, it's a fact - I only have so much mental energy at a time), and what time I do have, I'm going to enjoy. I will not rush it, I will not bite my nails thinking OMG I'll never finish. I will write, and I will have fun.

That's how time runs on the Dark Side.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

What is Magic? - Tessa & Laura's Blogfest

Hello everyone and welcome to the Dark Side's first ever Blogfest entry.

Tessa and Laura have asked what the Nature of Magic is to us and/or our characters. Is it abracadabra or bah, humbug? A ritual or fairy dust?

I've decided to have a go at answering. A short answer, but there you go.

(NB. Tay is a prince who's kingdom has been 'stolen', Doyle is the King who's court he's currently at - something between prisoner and ward)


Tay watched the king run his fingers along the spines of the old books. Golden lines glowed in the wake of his touch, forming titles and symbols on their backs. Alethaien shivered when he recognized one of them. The Arts had been outlawed for centuries in Dorenika, but the Kings of the Alliance had always been avid students of the mysteries. He swallowed hard when Doyle pulled one of them from the shelf, leaving a dark, dusty gap that none of the other books dared enchroach upon.

“This is it,” the king said, stroking the gleaming leather as if expecting it to purr any moment. Tay had to fight the urge to shrink back in his chair when Doyle approached with his prize. “I want you to read it, prince, and take these words to heart.”

The heavy tome landed in Tay’s lap. He stared at it. It looked fairly innocent, if one discounted the glowing lines scrolling all over it just moments ago.

“Your majesty...Sire...”

Doyle bent down, one hand on each of the chair’s arms, to put his face right in front of Tay’s. “No. This is not optional, young prince. You will read this, or you will be assigned a tutor to make sure you learn its content.” He leaned in closer to whisper into the younger man’s ear. “You should not be afraid of words, my friend. It’s the people who speak them that do the bad things.”


Thank you for reading my first ever blogfest entry. I shall be off soon to investigate everyone else's contributions... (linky list on T's blog)

Leave me a note to tell me what you think, and thank you again for stopping by the Dark Side of the Woods, hope you liked it.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

What's in a Name

I spend an inordinate amount of time naming my characters. I'd say it's almost like giving birth, but then I have no clue what that is like so I'll just say it's both wonderful and painful.

Sometimes I go for the sound of a name, sometimes I research meanings and search for a name that expresses what that character means, either to me or the plot. Very, very rarely does a character come to me pre-named.

Case to point, the two MCs in my current WIP are called Tay, Rho and Doyle - or, to forgo nicknames, Aletheian, Minoro and Feardorcha. The first two are adaptations of "truth" in different languages. Feardorcha means something along the lines of 'the dark-haired man' (Doyle means 'dark stranger' or some such, in case you were wondering).

How do you name your characters? Do you name them once and leave it at that? Does the name sometimes change as your plot evolves? Do you take the first name that occurs to you, the first one that sounds good?

Friday, 18 March 2011

Whilst we're talking

I have a love-hate relationship with all my characters. They come along, introduce themselves more or less thoroughly, poke at me, invite me out to dinner. The more persistent, shameless ones have been known to show up next to me when I'm in the shower, in bed.

They come and go as they please, leaving me behind each time bereft and relieved all at once. It's hard, sometimes, to have all these people clamouring for attention, and even harder when they aren't there to lend their support, their very lives to my writing.

Of course, they have this annoying tendency to disappear just when I need them most.

Maybe this is the reason why I try to make the most of their appearances, to wring the last drop of creative spirit from them, soak it up and spew it out as ink on paper. I talk to them, you see. On paper, mostly, but sometimes in my head, too. It's difficult to take notes when you're driving.

Like most people, my characters can be reluctant at times, unwilling to share their lives with me, to show me just how they tick. But I'm persistent, too. I ask questions, I invite other characters to join the conversation, watch their body language, listen to the tone of their voice. I record their mannerisms and their idiosyncracies. All of this is important, all of this makes them people, real to me and, more importantly, to that fabled creature we all aspire to please, The Reader.

I particularly like interviewing my characters, putting them on the spot, so to speak. I plunk them down in a setting unfamiliar to them and see what happens. Maybe I'll post an interview at some point, we'll see.

To sum it up, though, to me my charactrs are definite people in their own rights, alive enough to surprise me (and to mess up my plotting in the process). They say things I do not expect, they do things they are not supposed to, but I really could not do without them.

How about you other writers in the ether out there? What do you do to give your characters life? Do you talk to them? Do you build them up at the start of the story, so you always know what they're doing? Or do they surprise you, like mine?

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Welcome to the Dark Side

To blog or not to blog, that is the question here.

I blame Tessa. She's infected me with this bug, this curious addiction to baring one's soul (and make no mistake, my writing is very much a reflection of my soul) to the world. So here I am, a convert, a zealot (ok maybe not - it's hard to be zealous in or about anything in these busy times).

I will write, and I will post, and I will - Gods help me - join in blogfests and other onliney endeavours. I might even host one, who knows. Maybe you'll listen to me, maybe you won't, but my I'll be here as often as I can, as often as I can cope with.

Here I am, then, a blogger at last. No more mere fooling around with Tessa on our joint bloggy adventures (not that anyone reads those - ahem!). I'm ready to go out on my own, take off the training wheels.

I'm ready for the Dark Side.

Are you?