Following Oracular #4: Excerpts!

OracularthingyI don’t think this post requires much of an intro, but… excerpts!  All taken from the first three chapters of Oracular, because, heh, that’s all that’s been written.  There’s some with Meriela and some with Tiri.  No wait, there is one excerpt from chapter four with Kalvias, so yay for Kalvias.

Meriela took a defiant bite of the naan and ran.

And finally, there, an open door into—she didn’t know what.  A man had just pulled the door drape aside and stood in the opening, talking to someone still inside.  Meriela ducked inside of it.  He stepped back, making a surprised sound.  “Wha—what are you doing?”

The building was a shop—a clothing shop, no less.  The man she’d barreled past stood in the doorway, staring at her with his dark eyes wide.  Meriela pressed herself against the wall, biting her lip, knowing that even if the guards hadn’t seen her, this man would point her out.

When footsteps clattered past the door, though, the man shifted his gaze to them, and there was something on his face.

Meriela remembered her naan and took another bite of it.  If they were going to arrest her for stealing, then she at least wasn’t going to let them see any of the evidence.  She licked cinnamon off her fingers.

Then, to her surprise, the man stepped back inside the shop and towards her.

“Those were Guardians,” he said.

Meriela’s face paled.  She’d had Guardians chasing her?  Not simple guards, but…

“What do they want you for?” the man asked.  He was quite a lot taller than her, like all Keilorians were.  Judging from the embroidery on the collar of his kameez, and the bright, vivid blue and gold coloring, he was one of the nobles.  What one, she had no idea, nor any interest in knowing.

Meriela took the last bite of her stolen naan instead of answering.

His eyes narrowed, gaze dropping to the bread before going back to her. He appraised her.  “You’re a thief?

“Are you going to turn me in?” she demanded.

There was something in his face—in those dark, unreadable Keilorian eyes.  The man was—well, not pale, but lighter-skinned than the average Keilorian.  Compared to her own freckled complexion, though, he really was golden.  A deep golden brown, like the sunset, even in this pink morning light.

“What do the Guardians want with a petty Akelyan thief?”

Meriela shrugged. “Maybe they’re mad about me being Akelyan and they’ve come to kick me out.” Which was a possibility.  Maybe the city had decided the insults, the dark looks, the distrust, the jabs and mocking, hadn’t been enough.  Time to remove the “other”.

It made her feel sick, but she wasn’t going to show the Keilorian that.

She couldn’t read his face, either. She didn’t want to wait to find out what that dark expression meant, so she moved around him to peek out the doorway.  It had been several moments since they had heard the Guardians pass, and she did not see any of them lingering. Time to go.

She didn’t say anything to the Keilorian or even glance at him again, but left him behind standing in the posh clothing shop.  He didn’t call after her, and she didn’t hear anyone chasing her.

Tiri was about ready to shove some clay in her ears so that she wouldn’t have to keep listening to the incessant chatter around her.

She just blinked slowly at him. “Are you here to brag about how well-liked you are?”

“Tiri?” Elaez said.  “You’re glaring at the wall instead of at me.”

“You want me to glare at you?”

“If you’re glaring at me, then I at least know I have your attention.  The wall, last I checked, wasn’t trying to convince you to marry it.”

“I wouldn’t accept the wall’s proposal any sooner than yours.”

In her dreams, the Guardians chased her and yelled insults. Ielae’haeci Akelyan.

When she inevitably fell, consumed with weakness and illness, they grabbed her up with their Shadows and held her over their heads, shouting, “We got her! We got her!” as if she were a prize.  Around her, people yelled and screamed, almost as if in celebration, as if she were something special.

Nobody seemed to notice the way the Shadows were scratching at her skin and making her bleed.  Nobody seemed to notice when they lit her feet on fire.  Nobody seemed to notice when they carved her open to see what was inside.

Kalvias was beginning to seriously consider the possibility of running away.  It would be very simple, his imagination reasoned.  Getting out of his parents’ home would be complicated, because as of the past two weeks they seemed to be scrutinizing his every move as if they were actually important, but getting out of the palace would be easy.  He would simply announce he was heading into the city to shop, and then the palace officials would all give him approving, “very good, ka’hir Ahlise” responses and then he’d go, ditch whatever palace guards tried to follow him, and then he’d be off.

Or…maybe not.

There was also the complicated matter of Cimizelle.

And also that ditching palace guards took effort.

So, whatcha all think?


Character Studies (September)—The Great Outdoors, Part 2

CSsept17Character studies is a monthly interview (often broken into several parts).  For more info, see here.

Interested in participating?  Copy/paste the following questions, pick a character to answer them, and then share the link back here so we can go check it out!

For extra brownie points, be sure to share the image and link back!

The great outdoors! To…continue the vacation-esque mood, apparently.

It’s actually more camping/hiking than just “outdoors”.

A few of these questions are a little modern-ized, so for those characters who are not modern, you can mind-link your authors or something and pretend to know what we’re talking about, or you can just be completely befuddled. Both options can be very entertaining.

  1. Ever “camped” in your backyard and pretended you were out in the middle of nowhere?
  2. The path you’re walking is littered with rocks and tree roots. How many times do you trip?
  3. What shoes are you wearing?
  4. Sunscreen?
  5. Bug repellant that’s very bad for your skin (that may give you cancer) or bug bites?
  6. Your most embarrassing moment that happened outside.
  7. You’re marooned on an island. What happens?
  8. You’re marooned in a desert. What happens?
  9. Do you eat the raisins in trail mix? Actually, do you eat any part of the trail mix that’s not M&M’s?
  10. Bonus: How tall are you?

Part 1: here

Character Studies (September)—The Great Outdoors, Part I

CSsept17Character studies is a monthly interview (often broken into several parts).  For more info, see here.

Interested in participating?  Copy/paste the following questions, pick a character to answer them, and then share the link back here so we can go check it out!

For extra brownie points, be sure to share the image and link back!

The great outdoors! To…continue the vacation-esque mood, apparently.

It’s actually more camping/hiking than just “outdoors”.

A few of these questions are a little modern-ized, so for those characters who are not modern, you can mind-link your authors or something and pretend to know what we’re talking about, or you can just be completely befuddled. Both options can be very entertaining.

1. Can you light a campfire?
2. S’mores?
3. A bear/wolf/large-carnivorous-creature approaches your campsite. What do you do?
4. Can you read the stars?
5. Ever gotten poison ivy? (Or some other story-specific equivalent.)
6. Favorite funny campfire story?
7. Favorite scary campfire story?
8. You and your friend go camping/hiking and they get injured. Do you rush them to the hospital/a doctor or do you try to patch them up yourself?
9. You’re on a hike. How long is the hike (how many miles?) and how far will you make it? Is it a one-day hike or a long trip? Do you have the right equipment?
10. Bonus: What do you think of politics?

Part 2: here

Prose Post: Showing Emotion with Body Language and Action (Instead of Dialogue)

This is a blog written by an author’s fictitious characters. So why not write it in prose, too?

Yeah, that’s a crazy idea. Ridiculous. Preposterous.

We…decided to try it anyway.  Not too often—we don’t want to drive you crazy.  But a couple of times, we’ll write a post, you guessed it, in prose.  We chose second person, so that way you can feel included.

Hope you enjoy it!

Showing Emotion with Body Language and Action

This post is different. You recognize where you are, though. It’s the same shoreline as the last blog post of this type, although this time, it’s lit by the sun as well as the three moons.


You look around, expecting to see Ereinne and her sun-bright dress, but she isn’t here.

Instead, you find, of all people, Tiri.  She’s glaring, which…really doesn’t surprise you.  As soon as you notice her, she storms up the beach towards you, kicking up little poofs of sand with each step, like the sand is protesting her movement.  Wryly, you wonder if maybe she insulted the sand.

“Gah,” she says when she’s in earshot.  “Ereinne insisted I take charge of this post.”

And you actually listened? you think, blinking at her.

She scowls at you.  You wonder if this post is going to be even worse than Ereinne’s dress was in the last post.  What in the world are you doing here?  A little late to back out now, though; you’re already here.

“So what’s this post about?” you ask.

“Body language,” Tiri says, snorting.  “And non-dialogue character development.  I guess that’s why everyone voted for me and Saelas.”

Abruptly, you realize there’s someone standing behind Tiri.  You startle, taking a step backwards—where had he come from?  But now that you notice Saelas, you wonder how you hadn’t noticed him before.  You have to crane you neck back just to see his face.  He’s a skyscraper.

“Uhh…right,” you say.

Tiri turns to look up at Saelas.  You realize she’s also rather tall, although obviously not as much as him.  She, at least, isn’t looking up as far as her neck will allow just to see him.  “Well?” she says.

Saelas shrugs.

She makes a face.  “There’s more to body language than just shrugging, Saelas.  You’re going to have to cooperate for this post.”

He says nothing, and yet you get the idea that he just acknowledged her.  What did he do?

Tiri looks back at you and sighs.  “Okay, the basics, I guess.  For characters, dialogue is the simplest and easiest way to reveal things about ourselves.  All I have to do is say, ‘I don’t like Ereinne’, and everybody get the point.”

You absently wonder if Ereinne is reading this post and getting offended.  You also wonder if Tiri will ever apologize for being mean to other people, or if she just honestly doesn’t care.

“But,” Tiri continues, “with all the ‘show don’t tell’ advice every writer gets crammed down their throats, you probably realize that dialogue often falls more into the telling category than the showing category.  What’s better than me saying I don’t like someone?  Glaring at them.  Gets the idea across and isn’t just boring dialogue.”

Sure, you think.

Saelas is making a face you can’t quite read, and Tiri sighs again.

“Okay,” she says.  “Saelas is going to demonstrate.  Try to guess what he’s trying to say.”

Saelas raises an eyebrow at her, but he doesn’t protest.  Instead, he straightens up—making you realize he’d been slouching before—throwing his shoulders back, crosses his arms, and scrunches his face up.  At first, you’ve no idea what he’s trying to do, but then he sighs, really heavily.


He’s mocking Tiri.

She seems to realize this at the same time and swats her hand at him.  He drops the posture and grins at her, looking quite pleased with himself.

Tiri glances at you.  “You’re telling again.”

Wait what?  You’re completely confused.  What is it you’re supposed to be getting out of this post?  So far all you’ve done is play charades.

“It kind of is charades,” Tiri agrees.  Characters are going to feel an emotion, and it’s going to reflect in their facial expressions, the way they hold themselves, and their actions.  So instead of just saying something like—“

Saelas looks puzzled.

“—you actually describe what that’s like.”

Saelas raises an eyebrow and cocks his head to one side, lips pursed thoughtfully.  He eyes Tiri.

Don’t describe just the face, though,” Tiri says.  “When you only describe the face, then we’re forced to just stand there with our arms at our sides like we’re in a police lock up, and do you have any idea how boring that is?”

Saelas shifts, putting all of his weight on one foot, and scratches the top of his head.

“See?” Tiri says.  She no longer has her arms crossed, but instead is resting her hands on her hips, looking more at him than at you.  She stands tall.

You’re starting to feel kind of short.  You also realize that you haven’t done anything at all in this post.

It’s about the non-dialogue stuff, right?

“Pick an emotion,” Tiri says.  “And then instead of just announcing that you feel that, think of actions that will represent the emotion and describe those.  You basically have two goals.  Describe it so that the reader will feel the emotions and also let the readers infer the emotion, rather than be told outright what it is.  It helps them feel smart.”

Saelas raises an eyebrow at Tiri again.

“What?” she says.  “Readers don’t like having it assumed they don’t have brains of their own.”

That’s true, you think.

“So let’s try it,” Tiri says.

The scenery around you blurs, and when it comes back into focus, it’s no longer the beach.  Instead, you’re inside of a café.  Not just that, but you’re standing in line.  You realize that you have just ordered a muffin and you’re now waiting for it to be handed over.

Nobody’s handing it over.  The muffin is sitting in that little muffin-rack, waiting, taunting you, smelling delicious, and…not getting any closer to you.

Oh, well, maybe they’re just busy.

You tap your foot.

You fiddle with your shirt sleeves.

You frown and shift your weight to the other foot. More tapping.

“What’s taking so long?” you mutter.

Finally—finally—the muffin is handed over to you, along with a napkin.

“Thanks,” you say, just a tiny bit sarcastically, to the cashier, who you realize is Tiri.

“See!” she says.  “You got the entire idea across without ever actually saying that you’re impatient.”

Oh, you did.  Huh.

“Anyway,” she says.  “We’re finally done with this blog post.”  She glances over her shoulder, at Saelas, who, again, seems to have appeared out of nowhere.  Why hadn’t you noticed him before?  Maybe one day you’ll figure that out.*  “And someone here somehow got away with not saying a single word.”  She’s grinning, though, and not glaring, which is…interesting.

What a weird duo, those two.

Note: For help with body language, action, and other emotion-related writing, check out the Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi. Great book. It was probably used for reference in writing this post. Probably. 

*That will probably require reading Oracular.  Which will require Morgan finishes writing it.

Following Oracular #3: Outlines! Yay Outlines!

Outlines!  Exciting, terrific, amazing outlines!Oracularthingy

…they were awful.

”It was mostly Tiri’s fault,” Cimizelle says.

“No, Kalvias was problematic, too.”

Kalvias looks sheepish.

I think it was everyone’s fault.

I wrote at least four outlines before I got something good out of it.

The first one all happened on note cards which I spread across my bedroom floor.  I would share pictures, but I can’t seem to find any.

After I finished that, then I realized the story was way too short and I needed to expand on it.  So I added more notecards.

And then—it was perfect! Beautiful!

I started typing it into Scrivener’s corkboard.  Going very well, very well, and then… something wasn’t right.

I mean, it was an okay outline. But it wasn’t quite the story that I wanted to tell. Things were off.

Okay, so, take three.  I started again.  Almost immediately, things were wrong again, although I don’t quote remember why.

Eventually, I got frustrated and gave up.  (I wrote other stuff. I started writing an old novel in poetry form. Very…interesting.)

So then one day, I thought, I need to just get this done and over with.

So I sat down and I just started writing the sloppiest, most not-working outline possible. Took me…eh, a few hours? Mostly one sitting.

Yay! Got one finished!

No. Not yay.

Turns out, I had a bunch of characters… uh, well.  For example, Kalvias travelled from one location to another in two days, when it should have taken him two weeks.

”I secretly had a train,” Kalvias says.

Ereinne looks puzzled. “Trains don’t exist in our world yet, though.”

“That’s the point.”

Meriela also fell in love with a guy two days after meeting him. Despite that he’s a very three-dimensional guy and after two days, he was really not a great person and not someone to fall in love with.

Meriela looks sheepish. “I’m just hopeless. We all know that.”

“Yup,” Tiri agrees. “You’re definitely hopeless.”

Raethl looks like he might be blushing, but he says nothing.

There were other problems, too, though.  But basically everything was on too tiny of a timeline and it was all happening at super speed.

So then I had to figure out how to slow it down. Especially when I have a character who spends quite a while just sitting there doing nothing.

Everyone looks accusingly at Tiri.

Tiri shrugs. “Not my fault. The Guardians gave me meaningless tasks.”

So then was… we’ll call it Attempt #17 because I’ve honestly lost track.  I sat down with my white board and started going through one character’s storyline at a time, trying to make it longer, but also figure out exactly how much time passed with each action, so I could create not just an outline but a timeline.

It was.







Yeah, I made it through a handful of Meriela’s chapters, like three of Tiri’s, and gave up.

Now onto attempt #43!  (Well, after an extended break created from frustration and a totally-healthy dose of discouragement.)

I decided to stop figuring out their storylines and character arcs individually, but just figure it out beginning to end, like one would reading the story.  That way, I didn’t have characters in two places or some such thing when I wove the whole thing together.  I wrote it on my whiteboard in blue marker (and this time I have pictures! With spoilers removed, obviously), and when the whiteboard got full, I transferred it to a Scrivener file, and kept going until I hit The End.

You’re expecting this to keep going, aren’t you? Well, fortunately, the story ends here.  (Ha, get it? Get it?)

Cimizelle facepalms.  Someone else groans.

Ahem. I mean, yeah, so far that’s the most recent outline.  It’s not perfect, and in fact, in a lot of places, it’s very vague.  Chapter seven or something is just “Kalvias and Cim escape” and that’s all.

Very helpful notes, past-self. Thanks.

But it’s something that I can actually use to start writing.

The story is much larger. Draft two, which was roughly 110k, had just over 40 chapters.  This final (?) outline for draft three has about 70 chapters instead.

A larger story? Maybe.

The amazing thing about draft three is—it has a plot!

”Yeah,” Ereinne says. “Morgan has a lot of fun doing horrible things to us.”

Tiri snorts. “You have, what, one horrible thing?”

“I can think of at least half a dozen,” Ereinne says. “What horrible things happen to you? You’re Chosen!”

“Both of you, this isn’t a who-has-it-worse competition,” Raethl interrupts. “I would win it anyway.”

Tiri laughs. “No, you do it all to yourself. Morgan just laughs evilly and lets you do it.”

…no response, guys. No response.

Anyway, so how about you all?  Any horrific outlining experiences?  Or any tips for organizing/using your outlines once you have them?