Dusk and Dawn, v 1.2

My second revision of the Patchwork World novella Dusk and Dawn is progressing nicely thanks to my buddies in the Mellonath Hirgon writers’ group. Their input is improving my text week by week. However, I make no prediction about when the story will be complete. Anyhow, here is a teaser: the first page. In medias res — that’s my preferred way of starting a tale.


At the first glimmer of dawn, thunderclaps shattered Fennec’s sleep – the customary reveille by the enemy’s siege guns since nineteen days. The androgyne rolled out of bed and grabbed xer trousers and pistol belt. Moments later xe dashed through the citadel corridors towards the observatory staircase while servants backed into nooks and crannies to protect their breakfast trays.

When Fennec reached the top of the spiral stair, xer legs ached from exertion. The circular observatory topped by a copper hemisphere was warm and soon the rising sun would make it baking hot. There six soldiers monitored the siege with tripod-mounted telescopes that peeked through slits in the cupola. The men’s black torsos already glistened with sweat.

Towering above Fennec, the soldiers saluted perfunctorily with right fist on left collarbone: “Good morning, my domi!”

“Good morning, troopers. Any signs of a relief force?”

“No, my domi,” said the corporal in charge.

Crap, yet another lost day, Fennec thought while exhaling sharply between tense lips. Vanzan Shor’s allies apparently kept on dawdling, thereby forcing the city state to stand alone against the Commonwealth’s armed might. “As you were, men,” xe ordered.

The soldiers bent over their tubes and resumed spying at the enemies. Fennec approached the man who gazed along the outward canal going to the invaders’ realm. Nervous tingles flittered along xer spine. Have they set up any new heavy guns?

Advertisements

Back to the Keyboard

After a long and tiresome hiatus, I have returned to the creative keyboard (unlike the mundane one at the office). Since last autumn, some beta-readers have given me a lot of constructive feedback on the Dusk and Dawn MS, a steam(ish)-punk adventure in the Patchwork World setting. So I have started doing a thorough revision, starting from chapter one. I will do a complete overhaul of the final third of the story after realizing what will be the “hero’s journey” for protagonist Fennec. I will insert an ancient human archetype in a science fiction context, emphasizing growth and responsibility. It feels so good to return to that alien multi-faceted world, the home of so many of my dreams.

The Best Plans Laid by Mice and Men

In the spring, after delivering a sea-faring campaign book for the latest version of the Swedish fantasy RPG Drakar och Demoner, I made a nice schedule for fiction-writing in my spare time till the end of 2016: publishing Dusk and Dawn, starting the sequel to The Ice War, and making a few RPG articles for the Fenix magazine.

However, mundane life intervened and disrupted all planning: this autumn I have had to spend all available energy on my children’s schooling and on earning my paychecks while suspending the fiction projects. But there is at least one piece of silver lining on the involuntary writing hiatus: my buddy Carolina Gomez-Lagerlöf got time to read the completed MS of the Dusk and Dawn novella and she found a serious flaw in a major turn of events. Her verdict is justified, so I now will have to rewrite several chapters to improve the story’s pacing. However, being somewhat wiser than nine months ago, I won’t make a prediction about when it will be completed.

“Dusk and Dawn”: When All Is Said and Done

Yesterday I typed the final paragraph of the Dusk and Dawn novella (a stand-alone sequel to the short-stories “Dust” and “The Road” — link >>> ). I started writing it in early 2014, but in the summer of 2015 a cluster of tough life events derailed my schedule. Almost twelve months passed before I was able to resume writing and complete its final chapter.

Now I feel sad and joyful because the likeable protagonist Fennec’s journey has reached its end. In 2014 author Jo Walton taught me a trick of the trade: a story’s ending must carry its weight. I think I have created a satisfactorily closure, but now I must wait for the test readers’ verdicts.

Next step will be editing. Ten percent of the initial text is superfluous according to my rule-of-thumb. The story will now rest for a while before I proceed with that. Meanwhile, I will start writing the next Patchwork World story: The Forest.

“Dusk and Dawn” — end in sight

During spring I was busy writing an ocean-faring campaign book, Skymningshavets gåtor (“Mysteries of the Sunset Ocean”), for a new edition of the Swedish fantasy RPG Drakar och Demoner.

After completing it, I returned to Dusk and Dawn, a Patchwork World novella that is a stand-alone sequel to the short-stories “Dust” and “The Road” (link >>> ). I had not touched the story for a year because I have been wrestling with the final chapter, but now some troublesome plot pieces have fallen into place and only three or four concluding scenes remain unwritten. Let’s hope that I soon will get time and energy to do that.

I have drawn a lot of inspiration from Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs and Steel, a book that attempts to explain why certain pre-industrial societies “did better” than others; the author argues that a culture’s ability to progress is mainly determined by its basic productive resources, such as available crops and domesticable animals.

These ideas were hardly present when I started writing Dusk and Dawn in 2014, but the protagonist Fennec kept on making “Diamondian” observations during a journey through her desolate homeworld. I hope that Dr Diamond, would he ever read my story, will nod approvingly at Fennec’s deductions and outside-the-box conclusions.

“Dusk and Dawn”: A City in the Flatlands

I am currently working on the final chapter of the adventure novella Dusk and Dawn, a story from the retrotech Patchwork World setting, which so far also encompasses my shortstories “Dust” and “The Road” (link >>> ).

Three ancient cities serve as important venues for the novella’s plot. Here is what its protagonist Fennec has to say about one of them:

Sirak Thod lies where the Flatlands touch the World’s Brim. Millennia ago the canal builders founded the city on a hillside next to a deep lake, which they connected to the canal network through feeder gates that regulate the water flow into the Flatlands according to seasonal needs.

Similar cities dot the inner edge of the World’s Brim. Every time our ancestors came down from the mountains to reclaim the Flatlands, they started by repopulating those places. Then they pressed on, city by city, into the desolation. They dredged waterways, cleared and irrigated farmland, and rebuilt bridges and locks. All rulers know that the bountiful Flatland grain is indispensable for advanced societies; the meager crops of fruits and tubers in the mountain valleys cannot feed a teeming population.

Artist: DrawingNightmare at DeviantArt.