I started a new story today, called “Witch of Ashes.” It’s a sword and sorcery piece and I liked how the opening section came out. I wanted to try and “speed” up my process and get the story down faster than I typically do. It didn’t work. The second section came easy but after rereading it I realized it was more of a “Skyrim” adventure than a Gramlich original. I had to rip pretty much all of it out. I think I was able to save a couple of lines.
The problem for me when I “write fast” is that the first image that pops into my head is almost always one I’ve seen before. And since I’ve been playing so much Skyrim the images that kept popping up were general variations on that theme. To write fast you have to let the unconscious do most of the work, but when I turn the work fully over to the unconscious I get the commonplace instead of the unusual. Conscious evaluation of images takes time and, it seems for me, there is no substitute.Anyway, here’s the opening to “Witch of Ashes.”
The northern wind was quiet for once. The polished surface of the tarn shown like a black shield beneath the ringed moon. To water’s edge came Krieg, on silent boots with a battle-axe of ebon steel in his fists. He lay flat for a moment, drank his fill, then rose to ghost along the shoreline. It was almost as if he had a purpose.
A shadow jutting into the lake from the shore resolved itself into the fire-ruined hulk of a dragon ship. Krieg paused. He knew what had happened. A great warrior had fallen in battle and been laid atop a bier on his finest warship. The trophies of his greatest victories were placed beside him. Perhaps his woman was chained alive at his feet; perhaps she went willingly. Soaked with pitch, the ship had then been set adrift and aflame. It had burned to the water-line. The remnant had lodged itself here like a splinter in the flesh of the world.
Krieg studied the hulk, studied the bleak shore upon which it lay. Someone else had been here before him. Even in the dark his keen gaze identified naked footprints in the soft loam. They were small and slender, such as those made by a woman. There was only one line of prints, coming from the burned ship to the shore.
Intrigued, Krieg turned to follow them.