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Friday, 28 February 2014

A tale by text (the Wolf King of Winter)

Every so often i write a story via text messages, the urge to write and the urge to entertain some one who is bored, converge and i sit watching some old movie and tapping away on my blackberry. The results are often interesting, to me if no one else, because it is the polar opposite of how I normally write. A stream of text messages gives you no editing ability beyond each text before you send it. I do them unplanned and generally without much of an idea where i am going with a story when i start it. It ends up been a some what free form exercise in story telling and has on occasion come up with a good story as much by accident as design. Possibly because i end up writing myself into a hole along the way. then spend a few texts trying to dig myself out. they normally start with a little core idea. Like a spaghetti western scene with the lone stranger riding into town that turns into a horror story some where along the way.
I don't do this often, but perhaps i should do it more often than i do, I am not sure the normal recipient of these little text deluges would agree, but at the same time she is normally pleased when i do them so maybe she would.
What normally happens is they got lost in the phones memory and long forgotten before it occurs to me i should perhaps transpose them into word or something so they are not just lost and forgotten. not least because while this has mixed results occasionally those results are good ones. little gems worth remembering or going back to and expanding upon .
The most recent of these, a bizarre little fable that started as one line which randomly occurred to me without much in the way of a plot. And became an attempt to tell a Myth of the orator style which could be told around campfires back in the age of stone. Not sure it ever really managed to be what it tried to become , but i enjoyed writing it and it was in turn enjoyed by the reader so perhaps that's was all that was important at the time . It was written to be spoken, as such is a little clumsy at times.
Thought i would put it here to give it a wider airing as much for how it was written as for the story itself, on the off chance people might be interested. I have tidied up the typos and the grammar a little but otherwise it is as it was written on the blackberry  so great work of fiction it isn't , but perhaps it will make a couple of people smile. The title came later but that's about all that's been added , and the dividers are where each text ended. again only included them to present it in the form it originated. though also because one of the challenged of writing these is to try and make the recipient wait with baited breath for the next text, something i occasionally achieve i hope.


The Wolf King of Winter 

Once in the land of endless winter, in a cave high in the mountains of morn, there slept the king of the wolves. Dreaming the dreams of his kind, dreams of flesh, and dreams of blood , dreams of the hunt , dreams of the taste of prey on the air. His dreams were ever thus, the dreams of his kiff and kin. Wolf dreams.

The long winters of the world moved on, slow and cold, as the wolf king slept. Always winter never spring. Then one dark night on the eve of old years, a strange thing occurred, a thing that had never happened before. A new dream crossed the mind of the sleeping king. A dream of a child , bright and beautiful, a new life in the world of winter. And the wolf kings slumbers became uneasy.
In the wolf kings dream the child came before him saying this, “I am the new spring dawning, the return of life to the world , will you welcome me oh king of the wolf folk, will you join me for the last feast of winters passing, to welcome the new dawning of days,"  the wolf king stirred uneasy in his dreaming and knew a strange fear he had never known before. So long ha=d he slept within his cave, through all the endless wintering of the world..... "What is this spring of which you speak child,." the wolf king snarled in his dream but the child was gone once more ......
But the unease remained and in it woke the wolf king, in fear , in anger , in rage he could not name . The wolf king howled in the darkness against the coming sun.
The wolf king gathered his pack, the alphas with their glistening teeth , the young males full of raw hungers , the queens and ladies of the wolf kings court, as vicious and deadly as any male , the cubs playful in there snapping, A great howl that echoed through the mountains drew them all, The great pack , the pack of all packs , and he did speak to them of his dream . " We must seek out this child , this creature called the new spring, and we must rend the flesh form its bones , suck deep upon its marrow, that we shall sleep once more in our winter, go forth with tooth and claw, with the guile of the pack and the fury of the howl, seek him , find him and devour" .......
And so the great pack searched for the spring child, they haunted the high places , delved deep in the ravines , sought him in the valleys and across the glaciers , And all the while the great howls filled the air , taking word back through the echoes to the wolf kings lair, where he awaited word of the golden child called spring
And the wolf king waited in his for the night air to bring him word , but as he waited fear grew , more voices fell each night for the great howling , till the echoes slowly fled the mountains of orn in the world of winter his pack seemed to dwindle , to vanish form the night , and his dreams were again uneasy.....
Once more the child appeared in the wolf kings dream , once more he spoke on to him , "hear me king of wolves, for I am spring come to bring forth new life and the end of winter , join me in the final feasting of the long dark, send not your people to slay me wolf king, I offer new life to all come to me, " In the dream the child opened forth its arms and there was the brightest of lights, that dazzled the wolf king and drove him running in his dream,...... the wolf king howled for his pack once more , but none answered his call , the mountains stayed silent of all but the echoes of his howl , slowly dwindling away .....
As morning came the wolf king determined to seek the child himself , to rend it with teeth and claw, to eat of its flesh and lap of its blood , "If there is a feasting to be had , then let it be mine , " he said
So off he set , crossing the howling peaks , the jagged teeth of stone , through snow laid thick for countless days, passed the caves where the echoes of the lost ones still sounded , cross the ice bridges of the yawning chasms across the frozen desserts and the flowing ice , down always down , out of the mountains , following the glaciers gnashing teeth that bit so deep, under grey skys the cold wind his only companion , so stalked the king of the wolves and his hunger grew .
 Time passed as it is oft to do and his journey long did take him beyond his mountain land his howl remained unanswered and within him fear grew, the air around him grew restless, with scent not old but new , the ice was turning waters m snow gave way to dew he came upon a great plain , an expanse of melting snow , from which shoots of colour reached out from  the frozen ground , little shoots of green that broke the icy white ground , new sound filled his ears , of water running free , of the dripping of the melt , and his fear grew greater still , around him was new life , bursting slowly through , His winter was dying slowly and he knew not what he should do
At last he came upon them , his lost abandoning pack , lazing on green carpets of freshly grown grass, He howls his rage upon them , but they answer not his calling , and in the sky he saw him , the child from his dreams the golden glow about him he hung in the sky and warmth flowed from him , melting snow and ice alike , the wolf king saw his folly , The child within his dream , the ending of winter , the coming of the spring , the golden child before him the great and golden sun
the wolf king howled his fury , gnashed in hatred with his teeth , padded in great circles , leap high into the sky, his great jaws snapping , but biting only air , His enemy did not taunt him , only bathed him in its glow , but the wolf could not be placated, his rage did only grow , he leapt higher , His  snapping with his  jaws , only to fall once more , crashing to the floor , He howled in rage and frustration then beat a haughty retreat , returned unto the mountains to once more in winter sleep , and in his dream he plotted , one day to eat the sun he sleeps now ever still , till the last feasting be done .

the end 

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Characters seen through other eyes

The 4th draft of my novel has now been read by four readers (or possibly five if you count the very dodgy self publishing out fit i had the miss fortune to try) , all of which have given lots of great feed back, each of them have seen characters and situations in the book a little differently. Which is only to be expected, After all no matter how much the writer may feel in control of his words how those words are interpreted is at the end of the day at the behest of the reader .
This has however left me with a quandary or two as i approach the fifth draft, which was always going to involve some major rewriting, if only because i have let it sit so long.

The first quandary is a simple one, and much to do with my approach to writing, In the first quarter of the novel there is a lot of info dumping and back-story which, while it has a place, that place is spread much further through the book or dealt with in other ways. I suspected this to a degree, but having received professional advice on the subject from the wonderful  Steph Roundsmith of + and then read through the first half of the novel with fresh eyes its alarming how much I have done this through direct narration. Rather than in glimpses, hints, actions and character dialog. It does leave me the task of figuring out what to take out , what to put where, how to reuse it all in better ways. None of it is bad exactly , there is just too much of it all piled into the opening quarter of the book simply because i write back story as i get under the skin of a characters, so its written as I go rather than planned extensively in advance .

The second quandary is more complex in some ways, this concerning one of the two (or three depending how you count them) main characters, I was always aware he was the weakest of my characters and that his story develops least within the book. So I knew he needed work, this in itself is however not the issue. Where the issue lays is in the reading of the character by one proof readers who's interpretation of the character, his back story and his actions throughout the book , is wildly different from what i envisaged while writing him. Discussing the character with her lead me to realize that while I may have a firm view of him and his motivations, it does not mean my view is actually correct. Indeed having discussed the character I am convinced in many regards that this proof readers view is the more considered view.

Without getting into the nitty gritty of the character himself and what i need to consider while doing the rewrite. The reader has poured a lot of grey on my own view of the character and how he should be written. If anything it has made me want to write the character with a less sympathetic narration and handling. As opposed to trying to fix the character and make him read closer to what i originally envisaged. The flaws that i did not envisage in the character actually make for a more interesting story and I hope a more compelling one if the narration is less sympathetic. Indeed if his back story is explored with a different view it addresses something far darker than i intended and perhaps more important to address.  

The interesting thing about all this from my perspective as the writer is how wildly what I wrote can be interpreted away from what i intended. I say this because i have nothing but respect for the readers view. Her interpretation of the character and her perspective upon his story is far darker than my intent. Yet the readers view is the most interesting view and may well be the most valid view when it comes to any writing. No matter how much a writer may strive to make a character exactly what they intend a reader will always interpret them in other ways. There is after all always more than one side of the coin.

This leaves me with the issue of how i write the character, do i change him and the way he acts to fit my original vision for the character, or do i instead take him further in the direction of the proof readers interpretation. After a lot of consideration I have come to the conclusion the alternative view of the character is more interesting, though certainly darker in edge than i ever intended.

What makes characters intresting are the shades of grey , no one is all light or all dark after all, and seldom see the dark in themselves or indeed the light. Much rewriting ahead but hopefully with something more compleing to come out of the end of it ....