Knowing now what they did of their heritage, Melody found herself full of unanswered questions about her mother. Why hadn’t their mother told them of her lineage? If the Grimward could be trusted, and she saw no reason why the old spirit would lie, Mase Storms End descended from a long line of magic users. Sure, her mother would’ve been discreet with that knowledge. Had she been found out, she would’ve been hunted and killed by the ignorant, idol worshipping, peasantry.
Melody sniffled, wiping her wet cheeks on her robe. In the end, what difference did it make? Death at the hands of the people, or being murdered by Helleden’s minions? Either way, her parents were dead. They had lived a lonely life in exile from their own people.
“It’s not fair.”
Silurian stopped clearing the unmarked graves and looked her in the eyes. “No, it’s not, but I’m damn well going to make someone answer for their deaths. Mom and dad were quiet, unassuming, caring people who never did anybody wrong. Mom’s only crime was being born a Storms End. Dad’s only fault was loving her.”
Melody put her arm around his shoulders and pulled him in close. His words sparked a feeling deep inside her she hadn’t known herself capable of. Revenge.
For me, the process of writing a story is an adventure. As a writer of epic fantasy, people often ask, “How do you world build? How do you establish plot lines? How do you create characters? How do you build magic systems?” To each and every one of those questions the answer is simple. I don't.
So many people devote countless hours (some take years!) building a fantastical world. They spend days and weeks fretting over magic systems. They agonize until the sun comes up about plot. I get it. There are a lot of people who require structure. Hey, if that works for them, great, but I don't have the patience, nor the time to devote to these things when I could be writing instead. I don’t need to stress over things my characters are going to sort out for themselves anyway.
What do I mean by that? Well, in some circles, I am called a ‘pantser.’ I had never heard of this term until a few months ago. It means I fly by the seat of my pants. Truth be told, I like to think I fly by the seat of my character's pants.
A storm was imminent. It promised to be a bad one. It would rain hard, and with the rain would come death.
Within a grotto, high atop an active volcano, a wizard hunkered over a vision within the flames of a modest campfire, holding back long wisps of golden hair.
Something strange was occurring hundreds of leagues south of the cave. Something catastrophic. Tears dripped from the tip of the wizard’s nose. The omens foretold the return of a devastating power. A power that had annihilated the unspoiled tracts of the Innerworld a few moon cycles earlier. The same power that had besieged Quarrnaine Svelte and her expedition four years ago, but this time it was different. This time, the signs pointed to an absolute apocalypse—a total annihilation of Zephyr, and there was nothing the wizard could do to prevent it.
A cold wind swirled ash into the wizard’s face, burning small holes in the silken robes fluttering about the magic user’s slight frame.
Ignoring the acrid smoke, the wizard leaned closer to the flames, willing the vision to reveal a deeper understanding. Helleden Misenthorpe was at the root of this storm, of that there was little doubt, but there were other participants involved this time. One bigger than the malign sorcerer himself. If this magical storm of doom wasn’t strange enough, there was also something familiar about it. Something that shook the wizard to the core.
Scene: Pictured above: Treacher's Gorge.
The rain had found them, waiting until they stepped onto the goat path, and proceeded to assault them mercilessly for the remainder of that first day away from Redfire.
It took them four days to reach Treacher’s Gorge, a deep divide between several abutting mountains where the Spine intersected the Land’s End of the Undying Wall. The crumbling ledge they traversed, curved around the latter’s windswept peak, circling its southwest face, where the trail fell away fourteen thousand feet into the gorge.
If not for the bridge, Silurian would have believed they were the only people ever to witness this sight, so desolate was the area. He had stood upon this brink twice before, but the sheer depth of the yawning abyss still rendered him breathless.
Before them, a rickety wood and rope bridge stretched away to the center of the gap between four jagged peaks where it was bisected by a platform. From the platform, the bridge had originally split off in three directions, but they could see that the segment on the left had collapsed and a large piece of it was still attached, swirling about below the platform. Hopefully no one was on it when it fell.
OF TROLLS AND EVIL THINGS is a stand-alone prequel to the SOUL FORGE saga trilogy. OF TROLLS AND EVIL THINGS depicts the main characters, Melody and Silurian when they were young teenagers.
Pictured below is Mount Gloom in the daytime. Imagine running through here in the dark, trying to escape from a maniac bent on killing you...or worse! Ask Silurian and Melody what that's like.
Scene: Silurian sits dejected in the marketplace
Silurian hung his head between his knees in despair, his arms slumped between his legs. How long he sat there he didn’t know, but the squeak of a young girl’s voice broke through his melancholy. A grimy-faced girl, no more than eight, clad in a simple, tattered, brown tunic cinched about her tiny waist with a frayed length of filthy twine stood before the farmer’s table. He smiled at her pretty face hidden with dirt as she shyly placed her order.
The merchant gave her a skeptical look.
The girl produced a tiny burlap pouch bound by another piece of twine. Plunking it proudly upon the table, her face beaming, she proclaimed, “I have money.”
The merchant grunted, turning to his cart to assemble her order.
While the farmer’s back was to the table, a huge man approached. He bumped into the girl, almost knocking her to the ground. The girl shrank away from the malodorous man. Silurian could smell the putrid stench of sweat from where he sat.
The farmer glanced over his shoulder, surprised to find the large man where the girl had been. Raising his eyebrows at the large man, the farmer placed part of the girl’s order on the table, gave the newcomer a slight nod, and turned back to assemble the rest of the order.
While the farmer worked away, Silurian watched the man sneak the girl’s order into his pockets, and walk away.
Scene: Jebadiah Milford, and his son, Javen, return to their homestead after a busy day at the tournament.
On the way back to the homestead that night, Javen was unusually quiet. Jebadiah tried many times to draw his son out of the shell he had retreated into, asking him questions about the tournament, and commenting in general upon other tilts he had observed from the vantage point of the crowd. To all of his remarks, he received only distracted grunts. He frowned. Javen’s silence was out of character.
It wasn’t until they had tended the horses and were closing the barn doors that Javen spoke, his question catching Jebadiah off guard.
“Papa, why do people hate black men?”
Source: Diana Urban
43 Words to delete from your writing now!
Really, very. These are useless modifiers. You should be able to find stronger verbs or adjectives for whatever you’re trying to enhance. For example, “He ran very quickly along the really long field.” can be, “He sprinted across the vast field.”
That. If a sentence still makes sense after removing “that,” delete it. For example, “This is the most amazing blog post that I’ve ever read.” can be, “This is the most amazing blog post I’ve ever read.”
Just. I have a hard time removing “just,” especially in dialogue. But for the most part, you don’t need it, and too many can make your dialogue or prose repetitive.
Then. When showing a sequence of events, either remove “then” or try using “and” instead of “then.” Using “then” frequently sounds repetitive and even juvenile. “I shut the car door, then tripped over the sidewalk. Then Bob pointed and laughed, and then my cheeks flushed.” sounds better as, “I shut the car door and tripped over the sidewalk. My cheeks flushed as Bob pointed and laughed.”
Totally, completely, absolutely, literally. These words don’t add information to a sentence. For example, “The box was completely full of clothes.” reads the same as, “The box was full of clothes.” or better yet, “The box was stuffed with clothes.”
Definitely, certainly, probably, actually, basically, virtually. Again, these words don’t add information. If the sentence makes sense without these words, remove them.
Start, begin, began, begun. These words are unnecessary unless an interruption to the action soon occurs. But for the most part, you can remove these words.
Rather, quite, somewhat, somehow. A movie doesn’t have to be “rather dull,” it can just be “dull.” Delete!
Said, replied, asked, and any other dialogue tag.
Down, up. Usually, these words are unnecessary and you can remove them. For example, “I sat down on the floor.” could be, “I sat on the floor.” and “I stood up.” could be, “I stood.”
Wonder, ponder, think, thought, feel, felt, understand, realize. When you add any of these terms, you’re removing readers from the introspection and adding useless words. For example, “I wondered whether Johnny was the murderer.” could be, “Was Johnny the murderer?” If the narrator questions, “Was Johnny the murderer?” it’s self-explanatory that the narrator is wondering it. This also helps readers feel closer to your narrator, and more involved in the speculation.
Breathe, breathe, inhale, exhale. These are far too commonly used by many authors to describe character internals, including me! Instead of deleting, you’ll have to find an alternative way to describe how a character is reacting to whatever has made them breathe quickly, exhale sharply, or “Let out a breath I didn’t know I was holding.” Ick! I highly recommend The Emotion Thesaurus in paperback, not digital, so you can skim through any time.
Shrug, nod, reach. Every author has her own quirks, and over time, you should become familiar with your own. These are a few of mine — in my first drafts, I have characters shrug, nod, and reach for things way too often — and I know a lot of other writers include these, too. Always have second readers, whether you’re writing a novel or blog post. They’ll be able to point out actions that happen too frequently better than you can, because you’ll usually be too close to your own writing to notice.
How to find these words in your writing
If you’re using Word, it’s easy to find these useless words. First, make sure to select a highlight color from the toolbar besides white.
Click Edit > Find > Advanced Find and Replace. Click Replace and the little down arrow.
Enter the word you’re seeking in both the Find what: and Replace with: fields. When your cursor is still in the Replace with: field, click Format > Highlight.
Click Replace All. Repeat this process for every word you want to find in your document. Then you can scroll through your writing and easily spot these words, and decide if you want to delete them. Doing a Find/Replace to delete these words isn’t a good option because there will be some instances when simply removing the word muddles the meaning of your sentence. Sometimes a sentence will need to be reworked.