Tuesday, December 04, 2012

An Experiment

After finishing Evening's Empires, I find I'm not quite done with the Quiet War universe, or future history, or whatever you want to call it. Evening's Empires is the fourth (and, I think, the last) Quiet War novel, and although it's thematically related to In The Mouth of the Whale it's a stand-alone. Those two novels are set about 1500 years after the diptych* of The Quiet War and Gardens of the Sun; there's a lot of history scanted in between, including the golden age of the Great Expansion and the rise and fall of the True Empire. After posting a couple of stories extracted from Evening's Empires, I've decided to write a few more. Condensed stories. Quick sketches. Fables. Tall tales. Experiments. Glimpses of ordinary lives in strange places.

I hope to post one every week. The first two are already up. I had a lot of fun writing them and hope to write at least ten more. That's twelve stories in twelve weeks - a season's worth. When I've finished, I should, with a couple of much longer pieces, have enough for a short ebook. That's the plan. That's the challenge.

I think that anyone who's starting out writing should find exercises like this useful. Think carefully about what you want to write - a character sketch, a situation, a dialogue - and then get it down in a couple of hundred words. It shouldn't take more than an hour or two. Stick closely to the original idea; omit all that's inessential; write straight through from the beginning to the end and only then go back and start cutting and tweaking.  If it doesn't work, try again. As with reading, a great deal of writing uses skills that can only be improved by practice.

*A diptych is essentially a trilogy with the difficult middle volume omitted.


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