Tie a Knot in it and Hold On

Who doesn’t love Wednesday? Seriously. In honor of which, the greatest Geico commercial I’ve seen in a long time. Just because I can.

And now onto the WIPpet for this week. I’m stewing over it. I haven’t done anything but try to edit Emergence and fill in the gaping holes in the final handful of chapters. I’ve basically written nothing. Okay, not true. I’ve written lots of stuff to fill in those gaping holes. Then deleted lots of stuff. Then wrote some more. Ran my head into the wall. Walked in circles. Pulled out grey hairs. Wrote some. Deleted more. Begged my subconscious to please, for the love of dark chocolate and Guinness GIVE ME SOMETHING!!!!!!!

Yesterday, it finally did. *whew* And so I felt safe sending the first twenty odd chapters to my First Reader while I finish up the tail end.

In the meantime, I received some insightful, honest, critical input on The First House and my lovely brothers. I knew they had issues. Now I know just how many.

And, the short story I was trying to write for the end of October . . . I switched it up. Same character, but instead of starting where I did previously, I thought I’d tell the story of how Branson got stuck where he is. So I guess, for a lack of any other inspiration, I’ll give you the new beginning to Fortune Favors the Cold. If you missed the first glimpse of that, you can find it here. Today I’m going to exercise the option of WIPpet math, and for 9/11 I present you with the first 20 (short) paragraphs of FFtC. Which, in case I didn’t mention it, I was trying to slate for this anthology from Long Count Press. Whether it will even be finished in time is anyone’s guess. Keep in mind, this is raw, first draft. Really raw.

“You’ll remind me again why I’m going first?” Lanster’s voice echoed through the cavern, drifting up from below the ledge where Branson waited. The torch they’d thrown down to gauge the depth of the drop cast Lanster’s wavering shadow against the far wall as he dangled on the rope like a spider.

“Because you do as I say,” Branson said.

“And you’ll remind me again why that is?”

“Because I’m the one in charge. Are you almost down?”

The rope twisted on the edge, dislodging a handful of pebbles to shower down on Lanster’s head. “Damn the gates.”

“Focus, lad.”

“I’ll run out of rope before I run out of open air,” Lanster said.

“A long drop?”

“Longer for you than me.” He chuckled.

Lanster had a head more height than Branson and liked to think that gave him one up on his partner. Which in some situations it did. But the lanky youth had yet to bulk up, so where muscle and skill with a blade were concerned, he lost out.  

“The bottom, Lan,” Branson called down. “How far?”

“Hold your water.”

Insolent pup. Branson scrubbed a hand along the line of his jaw, his finger tracing the old scar that ran from just below his ear to his chin. That’d been a damn close call. One of many. But if Joorysh were right, and blessed Hermares he better be, Branson’s share of the treasure to be found in the center of these buried ruins would be enough to fund his retirement. The only close calls he could look forward to after that would come from falling out of his chair at the Long Draught.


The rope twisted against the edge again. “Shite.”

Branson dropped to his belly and peered down. Lanster dangled yet. Below him, in the pool of orange torch light, something moved.

“Shite.” Branson seconded Lanster’s sentiment. “What is it?”

“Damned if I know but there’s more than one.” The rope jerked. “And they have teeth.”

“Stay there.”

“Really, Branson? Really?” Lanster’s voice held a rising note of panic. The rope jerked again. “Did I mention they can jump? And that they appear hungry? Did I mention that?”

Put a character up a tree, throw rocks at them, get them down. I forget where I saw that bit of short story advice and I’m sure I’m mangling it in the paraphrasing, but there it is. So, which beginning do you prefer?

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  1. I like both, but I think I prefer this one. There’s tension, but we get more time to build up to monsters, and I like how we learn about the characters based on their conversation.

    • Thanks, Kate. I do think this one is a bit more action where the other was more mood and set-up. And for a short, that’s probably best.

  2. Great tension and dialogue. I agree with Kate. You can really see their personalities.

  3. I’m laughing!! Love that ending lol

  4. Good stuff here, girl. I don’t recall seeing an earlier version, but this one has everything I need to know I’d want to keep reading.

  5. Haha, I like the tree quote/paraphrase. Hold your water… That’s clever.

  6. I didn’t see the first version, so I can’t answer your question. This one certainly has a lot going on, which is good for a beginning. OTOH, I don’t know the characters yet or what they are doing, and while it’s well written and funny, I’m a bit lost. My advice would be to start just a little before this so we can get to know them before they are in the hole. 🙂

    And: editing is writing! You just have to count differently while editing. *g*

    • Thanks, Ruth. There’s a link to the previous version (a few weeks back) right above this excerpt if you’re interested. It starts at a far different point in Branson’s tale, though.

      • Ah, I missed that somehow. Looks like I might be in the minority here, but I think I like that other beginning better, since it gives us more of a feeling for the character before he ends up in a hole. There is such a thing as too much in media res. 🙂

  7. Yes, this is great! Fabulous dialogue – those last few lines are funny yet terrifying at the same time.

  8. For a short, this version gets right to the point of things a lot better than the first one. I also like the interplay between the characters (though the description of Lanster did catch my “Nancy Drew” senses… possibly because I’ve been reading some of those lately too).

    And I agree with Ruth on editing. Really good edit is definitely as much writing as anything. You have no reason to feel guilty.

    • “Nancy Drew” senses? As in, his description fits one of the characters? Have to admit to never having read any Nancy Drew, there weren’t any swords, dragons, or magic rings! LOL

      • Nancy Drew stories, because they were all parts of a series, often started out with a description of Nancy and her friends. And because they were more or less pulp fiction, the method used had a consistent “telling” style.

        That said, I actually enjoyed it. Partly because I loved Nancy Drew mysteries (I grew up in a house full of mystery buffs–it had to wear off somehow).

  9. I like this version a lot better than the previous version. The dialogue made me giggle – especially the last line: “Did I mention they can jump? And that they appear hungry? Did I mention that?” 😀

  10. Echoing all the others who have already said they liked this one better. I’m all for launching straight into the action in the opening, but I think this is a better place to start.

  11. In your case you put them down a hole, getting them bit at and now have to get them out. 😉 I’ve heard that piece of advice too (somewhere), but I can’t remember where.

    Best wishes with the story and getting into the anthology.

  12. Up a tree, down a hole . . . hopefully I can get them out! Once I figure out exactly what they’re after. *mumble, mumble*

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