This has been a good week for Sue’s brain. Been writing up a storm and achieving major breakthroughs with both my mighty Irish epic and the other two works in progress (The Guardian and Fairless). And so, because I’m about to head back to work, I thought I’d take a minute and share two blurbs.
First, from the MIE (Mighty Irish Epic) – okay, maybe it’s not named. “Muse” is just so taken and I can’t seem to find another title that fits and so for now, it’s called, well, you know… MIE. Like most novelists (hah, isn’t that fun, including myself in that class?) I’ve struggled with the opening scene. I really can’t remember how many generations these first 25 pages have seen – too many to count. And even with the last revision, I knew it still wasn’t there.
Until yesterday. Of course, the inspiration had to hit while I was in the shower (where else would it hit?). The words just suddenly appeared – the first sentence so clear that I had to hurry and rinse and burn those stinking words into my brain until I could find a scrap of paper. I’ve let them sit for a day and still, they feel right. And so, I ask you, would continue if this was the first paragraph you read? And please, be honest…
Kathlin could weave a tale of love and sorrow from the mist-shrouded field she traveled through. Of death that’d won over life and deceit over honesty; she need not use her gift of sight or far-reaching imagination to know. If torn and shredded lumps of sod weren’t enough evidence, the pungent odor of death was.
Okay, onto the second breakthrough. Outlining two novels. I was just plugging ahead with the other stories, happy as a clam in mud, when along came that moment when the plots became as tangled as a ball of yarn in the paws of a kitten (like the clichés? the metaphors? Gotta use them somewhere. Sure as heck can’t use them in your novels… or so I’m told). In order to untangle the mess I’d made, I had to outline. Do you know how much I hate outlining?
I really hate outlining.
But I had to, and seeing as there really was no other way, I did it in typical Sue fashion. No little indents, no sub headings and such. Just numbered paragraphs that each represent a scene, written in a short hand of sorts. I just let the words flow and typed… and typed… and typed… and soon, I had 11 pages of scenes blocked in, I knew where the story was headed and I have a draft to use to flesh it out when I’m ready. Wanna see what it looks like? Sure you do. Why else would you still be reading – I am at 458 words in this post. That’s LONG for Sue.
Okay – here is one paragraph – you don’t need to read it all to get the gist:
- Alex returns. Newell can barely keep his eyes open. He sits inside Belle’s stall with his rifle across his knees. Alex’s eyes widen in surprise. You’ve brought out your gun. I have. Seems Montrian has just left with the others he brought with him. And he did a very curious thing. Alex waited for the explanation. He took his horses with him. You think he’s gearing up for a fight? He’s up to something. They heard a noise from the tack room and smelled the smoke first. Bloody hell, the man’s lit the place on fire – Newell scrambled upright. The fire was spreading quickly, too quickly. Leather just didn’t burn that fast. The horses closest to the fire began to snort their fear, then whinny when a puff of smoke emerged from the room. A great rolling cloud of black smoke that hugged the ground before rising to the rafters. We have to get to that fire before it spreads. Another explosion sounded from one of the nearby empty stalls. Too late, the bastard’s set charges. We’ve got to get the horses out. More cries of fright from the animals. Newell slung a rope over Belle’s head and opened her stall. Take them to the pastures, he yells and coughs as he inhales the black smoke. Belle rears and he talks to her. Come, love, we’ve away (in French). She follows, blinded and throwing her head in the air. Get Old Tom, Newell yells to Alexander. He breaks away from trying to douse the fire with buckets of horse water and grabs Tom. The horse’s eyes are wide with fright. He motions to ____ and ___ – get the others out. Men began arriving as word spread of the fire. Newell turned Belle out into the field as others arrived. Montrian, he shouted the answer above the din. He set this. Another cough stole his ability to speak. Newell doubled over and spat out the black soot from his mouth. Alex appeared, leading Tom and he heaved a sigh of relief. How many more inside? Ten at least. Tom clopped along and threatened to bolt. Newell didn’t think, just did what he knew had to be done. He shielded his face from the heat and ran back inside the burning barn.
And so, there you have it… the general idea. Use it, if it helps (not my story, but my technique – I sure am using a lot of parenthesis today – isn’t that another no-no?). Just sit down and write – forget about punctuation, let the dialogue just flow and maybe you’ll find yourself writing that novel at last.
Now, its back to work for this little noodle…