Monday, October 6, 2008

Introducing Ya'govian of Volmar

This is a very rough draft of the opening scene of the short story that's been occupying my thoughts over the last few days. I'll almost certainly be adding to it over the next little while, because it's an idea that I can't let go, even if it's still a bit inchoate at this time. There's not much to judge yet, but I wanted to throw it out on the blog anyway, since people indicated they were interested in it.

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Ya'govian looked up at the stranger in the broad-brimmed hat. "Why should I help you?"

"Because you're bored," he replied. "I find it hard to imagine that a man such as yourself is content with his present circumstances. Had the College lived up to your expectations, you'd almost certainly be one of the most esteemed mages in the city rather than … Well, let's just say that your talents weren't properly appreciated by the Termaxian Magisters."

"Don't flatter me," Ya'govian spat. "I wasn't under-appreciated; I was lazy and arrogant."

The stranger smiled. "It is good to see that your years as consort and child-rearer have not dulled your self-knowledge. Let us hope your command of sorcery remains as acute."

"You still haven't answered my question."

"Because you have debts," he sighed. "Debts you cannot hope to repay if you don't start putting your considerable abilities to work for you and soon. You may well have been lazy and arrogant while you studied at the College, but that doesn't change the fact that you were one of the most natural sorcerers the Magisters had seen in generations. You had – you have – remarkable potential and I'd like to help you put it to use, if only to make us both a goodly sum of money."

Ya'govian rubbed one of his soft hands over his mouth and chin and pondered.

"Your reluctance is understandable. You have your wife's position and your children's safety to consider. Sorcery can be a dangerous vocation, after all; it's not for those with something to lose, is it? Not unless they're very good indeed."

Ya'govian swore that the tavern suddenly grew quieter, but, taking a moment to examine his surroundings suggested otherwise. The place was as boisterous as ever and no one seemed to take any more notice of him now that he was talking to someone other than himself.

"Of course," added the stranger, removing his hat and taking a chair across from Ya'govian. "if I didn't believe you were very good indeed, I wouldn't be here right now, interrupting your nightly visit to this fine establishment."

Once more, the man smiled that smile that made Ya'govian want to reach across the table and punch him, but Ya'govian was no brawler – and he was bored. He was wary too; this stranger understood his mind too well and that concerned him.

"I do not do business with nameless men." He explained, hoping that the stranger might provide him with an excuse not to take up his offer.

"I am called Tiro," the stranger explained, extending his hand across the table to Ya'govian. "Does this mean you're willing to help me?"

"That depends on what you want me to do."

9 comments:

  1. Well, I'm sold. I want to read more!

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  2. ...and then?! What does he want him to do?!

    Damn good stuff!

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  3. I don't mean to nitpick or anything, I just thought you might want some constructive criticism.

    When you open with straight dialog, I think you should take short moments to describe the location between speakers talking, as well as the subtle motions of the speakers themselves. I just think this would draw readers more immediately in. I would recommend sticking to specifics.

    Great stuff, though! I wish you success in your continued writings!

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  4. Nicely written. Dialog is difficult to do well, and you seem to have at least the basic knack for it. Something about it rings a bit autobiographical, maybe, which could work for you or might be a bit of a hindrance going forward. Or I could be way off. Having read some (but not much) of your other published work (Mindshadows comes to mind), I'd say you have a shot at fiction viability, however long considering the market.

    You are obviously a superior writer, but my advice would be to ditch the game designer's hat while you're writing the stories (assume you know that, but I bet it's hard to do.. We all love EGG, but I personally would rather read bathroom graffiti than his novels).

    And the names....I dunno, but you gotta change 'em.

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  5. When you open with straight dialog, I think you should take short moments to describe the location between speakers talking, as well as the subtle motions of the speakers themselves. I just think this would draw readers more immediately in. I would recommend sticking to specifics.

    I think you're right, but it's something I struggle with. I find that writing dialog comes naturally to me (for the most part) and that I generally prefer dialog-heavy stories to those with more exposition. One of the things I want to avoid is the modern fantasy syndrome of being so in love with all the minutiae of the setting that I go on and on at length about their intricacies. That said, I agree that I should be more descriptive and I'll certainly correct that in future drafts.

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  6. Something about it rings a bit autobiographical, maybe, which could work for you or might be a bit of a hindrance going forward.

    Ya'govian is, like all protagonists, something of an alter ego, so, yes, I have -- and will -- borrow elements from my own life in describing his imaginary one. "Write what you know," as they say. At the same time, as this story develops, I hope he'll be seen more as his own person; it's certainly how I see him.

    You are obviously a superior writer, but my advice would be to ditch the game designer's hat while you're writing the stories (assume you know that, but I bet it's hard to do.. We all love EGG, but I personally would rather read bathroom graffiti than his novels).

    Assuming you mean, "Don't write game fiction," I wouldn't worry much about that. While there will certainly be connections to many of my game ideas in the stories, there won't be a lot of overlap. I'm writing these partially as an homage to classic S&S literature, which, while an influence on D&D, isn't well represented by the game's contents.

    And the names....I dunno, but you gotta change 'em.

    Nothing is set in stone yet, so it's possible I may change them, but I think it unlikely. Fantasy name tastes are, in my experience, highly idiosyncratic. What one person loves another hates.

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  7. You are becoming a good writer James...

    Did you know that when Hunter S. Thompson was struggling to become a writer, he took up F. Scott Fitzgerald's 'The Great Gatsby' and copied it line for line? It was an attempt to figure out how that author so aptly created such vibrancy in his scenery with such minimalistic efficiency.

    I find that interesting trivia.

    ;-)

    Good luck in your endeavor.

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  8. Did you know that when Hunter S. Thompson was struggling to become a writer, he took up F. Scott Fitzgerald's 'The Great Gatsby' and copied it line for line?

    That's amazing. What a great anecdote.

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