Posts Tagged ‘ WIP ’

Under Oasine: First Chapter Synopsis

2010.04.29
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AS NOTED EARLIER, THIS BLOG will feature periodic updates on my new Work In Progress, Under Oasine: the adventures of Twiz, Ij, Hapler, and the author as they pursue a desperate quest to save their world.

(I want to bang out a first draft of the entire novel on the thousand-words-a-day plan before I polish (and post) the first two chapters, while (partly to motivate myself, and partly to come down off the inCREDible buzz one gets from making up and banging out a thousand words a day) posting occasional synopses.)

Thus: With 4,000 of an estimated 50-70,000 words in the bag, our heroes have reached the end of the first chapter, wherein we are briefly introduced to the world of Oasine and its inhabitants. The planet is one big desert from pole to pole, orbiting a big red star; life evolved late in its history, and only around scattered oases of various sizes. Some are connected by caravans, but in the oasis of Fint one man wants to prove they’re also connected by water.

Twiz Beelan and his best friend Ij have talked Hapler the podgrower into growing a mobile pod big enough for two, stocked with everything needed to withstand a two-day journey to the neighboring oasis — assuming that Twiz’s theory is more than just a crazy dream. The big day arrives, the Deeper is set for its maiden voyage, when disaster strikes! and the pod sinks into watery darkness!

Apparently stranded, the three work out a desperate plan. Soon they are heading surfaceward once more — but when they break water, Fint is nowhere to be seen.

Reaction: Novels are very, very different in process from short stories. My reporter training makes short stories a natural medium — clean, concise, pointed — but something as big as a novel? With multiple characters, viewpoints, subplots, etc.? It’s really hard, as all writing is hard, only more so.

But it’s also fun. I’m using the ol’ index-cards-for-every-chapter-character-and-setting method of organizing my notes and keeping track of new ideas. (Annie Lamott’s first draft advice from “Bird by Bird” is very helpful too.) This is also entirely different from the Prosatio Silban pieces in another way: this isn’t a world I’ve been working on since 1978 in my scrap time, but something which came to me idly drawing (now worries, no spoilers): “What if there’s a world called Oasine, populated only around its separate oases but linked by the water beneath them? And what happens if somebody goes under Oasine?”

And remember; Just because I’m writing it, doesn’t necessarily mean I know what’s going to happen next. I hope you enjoy finding out as much as I do.

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Thousand-Word Taskmaster

2010.04.18
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“FROM SPACE, OASINE WAS AN otherwise tan ball flecked and dotted with green – but none of its inhabitants had ever seen it.

“Few of them, in fact, had been outside their own birthplaces. These were oases of various shapes and sizes whose populations, separated by trackless desert, varied from savagery to the sophistication allowed by circumstance and caravan. In one of the latter, called Fint by its blithe and industrious residents, and on one of countless cloudless days, a crowd of gawkers, mockers and the curious gathered at Horolan’s Pier for the maiden voyage of the good ship Deeper.”

Thus begins Under Oasine, a science fantasy novel relating the adventures of three unlikely heroes (Twiz, Ij and Hapler) who discover that their world is a lot bigger than they had thought — and it (along with everyone on it) needs their help to survive.

I’m telling you this for two reasons: 1) partly to avoid through preemptive imprimature a repeat of the Matrix incident”, and 2) mostly to motivate myself (as with the Prosatio Silban stories) through risk of public humiliation should I flake.

Somerset Maugham once said: “There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately nobody knows what they are.” Although a skilled news reporter, I know nothing about writing novels save what I could glean from Stephen King’s On Writing, Randy Ingermanson’s Snowflake Method and Simon Haynes’ How To Write A Novel. There is great advice to be found in each of these, but after mumbling it about my own muse is telling me to chart what I want each chapter to do and where I want it to end, write a thousand words a day until I reach 45-50,000, then look for an agent and a movie deal.

Blogging a novel may be dicey for aspiring writers who want to sell their works: the idea is still catching on, and while it can raise a persuasive buzz some publshers may see “blog” as “previous publication.” My task here will be to navigate the narrow path between these two extremes — and entertain the hell out of whoever reads what results. To this end, I plan to post the first two chapters, with synopses according to clamour. Your task will be to tell me whether or not I’m successful.

Deal?

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Introducing: Prosatio Silban

2010.02.24
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THESE FABLES CONNECT A NEED to tell a particular story with a near-lifelong habit of worldbuilding. They are self-contained excerpts from a picaresque novel-in-progress titled Around the Rimless Sea: Mystic Fables for Religious Misfits, and though set as fantasies, the Prosatio Silban fables are intended for anyone seeking the Divine in a day job, so to speak. Because the “Land of Two Names” is a big world of spectacular landscapes and ancient ruins, teeming with vastly different and occasionally commingled cultures, religions, prophecies, species and cuisines, all created in my spare time since 1978 or so, those curious to explore it may benefit from the following helpful words. (Otherwise, please enjoy an appropriate anagram.)

= – = – = – = – = – = – = – = – = – = – = – = – =

Beyond the sunrise lies the Land of Exiles, where dreams come to die – or so say the coffeehouse wits of Soharis. But they are a professionally cynical lot, thus fervent in their presumptions.

Here, by the southern edge of the Rimless Sea, two abler-than-wise peoples anciently fought each other to land-cracking dust, leaving their now-primitive Xao descendants wandering the shattered plains and scorched forests with no greater legacy than a few artifacts, mutual blame, and the hope of future redemption.

This hope was handed across the generations through tales of Rimless Sea-borne saviors who would restore their Land of Exile to lush pristinery before conveniently withdrawing. Some Xao believed this, others pretended to, and those who did neither made plans of their own.

Thus, when the Children of Huua washed ashore in three great fleets filled with agricultural necessaries at the mouth of the Great Bloody River (as it was then known), the indigines greeted them with a mix of joy, surprise and consternation. The Huuans were fleeing their own self-made catastrophe and, according to the Flickering Gods and their High Sacreants, had finally reached the Land Beyond the Sunrise — and where to show themselves repentful and worthy of returning to their own homeland renewed.

Heedless of their role in the local mythology, the Huuans could comprehend neither the Xaos’ initial amazement nor eventual irritation as they proceeded to restore the land and build the Three Cities and Thousand Villages of the Huuan Commonwell. While the Xao grew more perplexed, the Commonwell ripened into that state of elegant decadence without which no civilzation can honestly be called interesting. Still, despite all that had happened or was expected in the Land of Two Names, some (Xao and Huuan alike) continued to believe in their ancestors’ prophecies; others pretended to; and those who did neither made plans of their own.

One did all three, often simultaneously and sometimes successfully. His name is Prosatio Silban – former Sacreant, mercenary cook, and subject of these fables.

Prosatio Silban in his galleywagon / Illo (c) 2008 Alana Dill, http://youbecomeart.com
Prosatio Silban in his galleywagon / Illo (c) 2008 Alana Dill, http://youbecomeart.com

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War Prints – A Prosatio Silban Saunter

2010.02.22
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(THIS POST ONCE CONCLUDED A three-act Prosatio Silban story posted here out of self-motivation. (Never can write without a deadline, me.) The entire eight-page story is now available in .pdf format, so print it out, kick back and enjoy the existential hijinx as Prosatio Silban’s flat tire leads him uphill into perplexity. (Afterward, you may click on “Comments” above or email same to scoop at sonic dot net.)



War Prints – A Prosatio Silban Saunter

by

Neal Ross Attinson



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Prosatio Silban and the Profound Breakfast

2009.07.26
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IN ALL THE STEAMING LANDS there are none so pious as the villagers of Imperny. And yet, even within that island of serene certitude, Prosatio Silban found a disturbed soul.

The cook had parked his galleywagon a-purpose, on the edge of Imperny’s market square closest to the local shrine. but his “COOK FOR ANY PRICE” banner had attracted only one breakfast customer — a serious young man who had picked his way half through a plate of Random Eggs. He sighed and looked up at Prosatio Silban.

“I have not seen you before, nor do I expect to again,” he said. “May I impart a stranger’s truth?”

“The eggs are not to your liking,” the cook began.

“No! No, they are perfect,” replied the young man. “But I am not, or rather my understanding isn’t. I cannot decide whether or not my prayer is effective.”

Prosatio Silban, a former holyman who long ago decided to feed people’s bellies instead of their souls, had ceased to wonder why his gods wouldn’t let him alone. Instead, he asked, “What do you mean?”

“I was deep in my devotions this morning,” replied the other. “And it occurred to me: am I praying because I am grateful, or am I grateful because I am praying? In other words, do the gods grant me peace of mind, or am I fooling my mind into peacefulness?”

Prosatio Silban thought for a time. “Does it matter?”

“Yes. I think. Yes.”

“Why?”

“Because by one I am doing the gods’ will. By the other, I am silly.”

“But that is already true, in the eyes of those who don’t share your particular piety,” Prosatio Silban said. “If you live for others, you will be concerned with what they think of your actions. If you live for yourself, you will be concerned with what you think. But if you live for the gods — you won’t care what anyone thinks.”

The young man smiled. “Pass the tomatoes,” he said.

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Prosatio Silban and the Beloved Animal

2009.06.05
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A FEW YEARS AGO, I began writing some short fantasies concerning a notable resident of the Land Beyond The Sunrise: Prosatio Silban, reluctant holyman turned freelance cook, questing for a true love he met once as a youth and never saw again. (Or so he thinks.) Six stories are completed and undergoing revision, but the following flash is complete in itself. Enjoy.

Prosatio Silban and the Beloved Animal
By Neal Ross Attinson

HALFWAY BETWEEN HERE AND THERE lay a town whose chief feature was a particular animal, wild but benign, which had made its home in a civic park. So charming were its ways and so touching its mannerisms that the townspeople painted its winsome form on signs and walls, dyed their clothes to imitate its pelt, and dated their history in terms of the Beloved Animal’s first appearance. Great crowds would gather around it every day, punctuating its every move with an ooh, ahh, or “Look!”

Prosatio Silban watched the Beloved Animal from the edge of the park. He thought the townspeople a bit fervent in their adorations but said nothing; he had his own share of eccentric fervencies. After a time, he realized that the Beloved Animal’s eyes were looking into his.

Why am I so popular? asked a voice in his head. All I do is sit here, occasionally scratching. And they feed me and love me.

“You don’t need to do anything else,” Prosatio Silban replied. “It’s in the nature of people to love something like you unconditionally.”

Oh. But why?

“No one can say,” the cook said. “Perhaps they simply need to know such love exists.”

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Mystic Fables for Religious Misfits ™

2008.01.01
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Here’s something I’m working on which has not yet been published. The working title is Around the Rimless Sea: Mystic Fables for Religious Misfits; each features a mercenary cook and former holyman named Prosatio Silban. This excerpt is from one called Passing Notes, about our hero’s time-lost love who won’t go away …

“THAT’S SWEET,” SHE SAID. “BUT work now. Later…” And she kissed him again, waking odd corners of his body.

Senses engaged and soul singing, Prosatio Silban set to his task with a will. The stack of corn-wraps at his left grew steadily, was taken away, grew again more swiftly. He discovered that the process had its own rhythm — slap, smell, flip, smell, remove; slap, smell, flip, smell, remove — which seemed to coincide with the music wafting into the smoky kitchen. This is not hard at all, he thought, stealing a glance at Ashlaya’s perfect form and inadvertently meeting her amused eyes.

He opened his mouth to speak, when the cook to his left — a pasty-faced youth named Otlon, who had been filling and rolling the fried corn-wraps and arranging them on cloth-covered wicker plates — coughed loudly and made gargling sounds.

“Don’t mind me,” he said apologetically. “I can never get used to whatever plants or flowers or weeds they have around here. Don’t they bother you?”

Schooled in politeness, Prosatio Silban refrained from putting his hand over Otlon’s thin lips.

“Not as such,” he said, one eye on Ashlaya. She had finished her mixing and was now shaping raw wraps for the skillet.

“Why not? They surely bother me.”

“Ah… I don’t know. Sacreant’s Privilege, I would think.”

“What’s that?”

“Well…” He noticed Ashlaya listening out of the corner of her ear. “In exchange for our ministrations to the faithful, Sacreants receive from the Dancing Gods certain benefits. We … the Sacreants don’t get colds or headaches and the like, for one thing, and tend to heal faster.”

“Does that include hearts?” murmured Ashlaya.

Prosatio Silban looked at her, ready to spill a flirtatious reply.

“I wish I didn’t get colds,” Otlon said. “But every summer, it’s the same thing — three weeks of dripping hackery. And the sleeves! I wish I were a Sacreant.”

“No, you don’t,” Prosatio Silban said, feeling as though his heart was running motionless at full speed. He turned again to Ashlaya.

“Why don’t I?” asked Otlon.

“Why don’t you what?”

“Why don’t I wish I was a Sacreant?”

“It’s not exactly as wonderful as it might seem,” Prosatio Silban said.

“Why not? Get to live in the Great Shrine, eat well every day, get to be in charge of everything and tell people what to do. I’d like that better than slaving for old Ape-piss.”

“You only say that because you …” lack the experience to contrast it to your current station, he almost said. Am I going to talk this pompously for the rest of my life? No wonder people dislike us … dislike the Sacreants, I mean. “You don’t have anything to compare it to,” he finished.

“Compared to this, anything’s better,” grumbled Otlon.

“Be gentle,” whispered Ashlaya. “You’ll learn to like yourself. In time.”

How did you know what I was thinking? But Otlon didn’t give him the chance to ask.

“Why did you quit being a Sacreant anyway?” he asked.

Prosatio Silban’s limbs stiffened in sudden anger. How could he explain, in brief and to a complete stranger, his entire life? That he had been abandoned as a baby at the Great Shrine by one or another poor mother? That, in gratitude for growing up strong-minded and clean-limbed under Sacreantal discipline, he had vowed to repay to his benefactors a debt of someone else’s making? And that he had eventually discovered only disillusion where he had once confidently sought Truth? He groaned inwardly, and relaxed his rage.

“It’s a bit complicated,” he said. “Sometimes a thing isn’t as nice up close as it is from a distance.”

“Sometimes it’s nicer,” Ashlaya said softly. “But you can’t tell that. Before you know it.”

“I think everything’s wretched, from a distance or otherwise,” said Otlon. “You’ll see. Especially here.” He picked up a plateful of filled corn-wraps and ambled off.

Prosatio Silban sighed in relief. Finally. Now for some real conversation.

But when he turned to Ashlaya, she was looking at him apologetically.

“The pitcher’s empty. I must get some more water,” she said. “Wait for me?”

“For you, anything,” Prosatio Silban replied with a bow. “But every heartbeat is an eternity until you return.”

“Then. I shall always return.” She smiled enigmatically and padded away, carrying his heart with her.

“I can’t believe how many wraps these people eat,” Otlon said, returning. “I bet they don’t get colds either.” Prosatio Silban sighed.

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