Fides Quae Creditur: Chapter One

The sun beat down the crumbling, moss-covered stone against which the two men leaned, looking off into a great recess. They stared idly from the outskirts of the docile, decaying hamlet of Kraevn at the misted distance of the declining wilds, and as they did, a chill wind swept in from the south, jostling their tattered, patchy clothes and carrying with it a fulsome insectal drone, which swallowed up the village’s juvenescent melody, as if appetent of joy’s consumption.

“What’s beyond The Spine?” The young man inquired, gesturing to the great stone bulwark which jutted from the horizon like a monstrous, antediluvian carcass.

“Ain’t nothing there.” The old man declared firmly, his raspy voice half-lost to the zephyr’s rising hum.

“There must be something.”

“How’d you know? You aint never been beyond The Spine. No one has. Ain’t nothing there.”

“No such thing as nothing.”

“How’s that?”

“Nothing is something we don’t have other words for.”

The old man turned and spat and looked towards his younger companion with sympathy and disapproval mingling in the frosted gray of his fading eyes.

“Fool notions rattling round that head a’yours, Harrow.”

“Maybe. But consider this: You can’t make a fool of a plant.”

The old man shook his hoary head and shambled haggard back to town. Harrow remained; gazing out across the skyline’s sanguine sprawl. His gestures pregnant with rising ambition.

Rain began to fall and somewhere the deathrattle of an animal sounded as dead thickets thrummed into the chasm beyond the low stone fence; as smokestack clouds roiled and cracked above the scene of slow calamity. The abyssal castanets tore the man from his obdurate perch and sent him trudging back toward the bluff-born borough’s paltry warmth.

To Harrow, the ether’s fomentations were as a malediction.

A black mark upon his soul.

Suzerainty (Avarr’s Theme – Remastered Arr.)

Composed by Kaiter Enless.


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The Dauntless Rook (Waltz Leitmotif)

Composed by Kaiter Enless.


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The Dauntless Rook (§.01)

The aristocratic coterie padded the twisting rain-slick cobblestones of Ersentwyer, nattering beneath gaudy paper parasols as disjointed crowds of performers, merchants, day laborers and vagrants moved about them like minnows round the smooth-hewn rocks of a rambunctious stream.

“Now I’ve a proper clarity of thy fresh attire,” Aldwyn Blythe declared, taking in Oeric Adair’s onyx feathered overcoat, “I must remark upon its extraordinary character.”

Oeric nodded, bemused.

“Outlandish, isn’t it?”

“I should say! Never wert thou so coxcombly. Wherefore this downy curiosity?”

He paused and adjusted the curious garb with wry amusement, feet shifting nervously over the scuffed and gamol folde, “It was a gift from Cerelia,” Oeric Adair responded with a sigh, casting his hands up into the air, as if dispensing grim confetti, “Its style wars dreadfully with my own, but how could I decline? Especially when our wedding wends so near? Imagine her reaction were I to pawn it; to say nothing of what the other Wealdmaer’s would think, sour as they are with our union. Merely forgoing its flagrant display might prove sufficient to prompt an unseemly reaction; and so I’m featherbound; fated to foppish plume; gaoled in tufted geomor.”

“Wise it were. Had thou peddled it, she’d have cawed louder than the beasts from which it were fashioned,” All the men laughed boisterously, save for Adair, whose visage grew increasingly glum.

Edlin Boyce continued with a wide, mischevious smile, “Worse, that old codger Grædig would use it as yet another reason to declare thee unfit to agan his fruit.”

“Such churlishness ill-attests thy station.” Adair snapped dourly, crossing his arms and looking off towards the old theatre at the far northern end of the thoroughfare.

“Let him perturb thee not; I think it wonderful,” Bullard Kyne responded, moving to stride in tandem with the other men, “Mayhaps, if the other members of our circle had greater familiarity with the fairer sex, they would understand it is not the thing itself that is important in a gift, but the sentiment with which it is selected.”

“Aye. Well said. For my dear Cerelia, I would bare the burden of every feather in the world!”

Even Boyce could not help but smile at that. Shortly thereafter, the four men moved past a series of stalls whose ferverous throng had overflown into the central thoroughfare and there vanished into the crowd.

*

A man watched the aristocrats at a distance, his garb drab, hair long, gray and ill-kept, his manner martial, yet ferine. He looked down at the sketch of his target with cold eyes, and then again to the man in the corvine coat.

An exact match.

The stalker smiled and folded the parchment back up and slid it into his dusty coat pocket.

“Enjoy thy frivolity, Oeric Adair, whilst yet it is afforded thee.”

*


Continued in §.02.

Simple Schema For Fiction Note-Keeping

§.00 I’m very partial to note-keeping and have consequently developed a note-keeping method specifically tailored for fiction.

§.01 Consideration in my schema is first given to character(s), since once one has assembled their principal character or characters, the setting and plot can be developed more naturally. Next, principal setting(s), then theme(s) (since once one has the setting and character the theme will be able to be developed, but not before, unless one is writing story expressed primarily as a internal monologue), plot(s) (as one needs the characters, setting and theme before the plot, of necessity) and finally dialogue(s). The aforementioned entries can be ordered in the way the author finds most desirable but this was the order which works best with my own process.

§.02 Outline of written schema:

  1. CHARACTER(S)—a. character 1. b. character 2. c. character 3. d. etc…
  2. SETTING(S)—a. primary setting. b. secondary setting. c. tertiary setting…
  3. THEME(S)—a. primary theme. b. secondary theme. c. tertiary theme…
  4. PLOT(S)—a. primary plot line. b. side-plots…
  5. DIALOGUE(S)—a. narration and/or character 1: “[dialogue].” b. n/character 2: “[dialogue II].” c. n/character…

§.03 Regardless of the original manner in which the schema is created (word processor, paperback journal, etc) it is important to secure a back up (as one would with a manuscript) via cloud storage services, jump-drives and print-copies/scans.

A Consideration of Wenclas’ Vodka Friday Night (2019)

Kirk Fannin was the dangerous one– yet for a moment Stacey Shemke was the aggressor. (Wenclas, Vodka Friday Night)

§.00 Karl Wenclas’ short fiction Vodka Friday Night was the first incarnation of what the author has described as the ‘3D Story,’ a self-conscious attempt to generate a new, vitalistic literary model.

§.01 The plot—sharp as a razor—revolves around a rogues gallery operating in the seedy underworld of Detroit after the murder of ruthless gang leader named Lenny Z.

§.02 At the first, the style is breathless, almost entirely (and presumably intentionally) devoid of punctuation save the period mark and the occassional comma and features a interesting utilization of bullet points (1. 2. 3.) to delineate character perspective (which I induce to be the genesis of the 3D label). The brisk yet vivid characterization and punchy, clipped descriptions like “He looked mean, and was.” or “Kirk drove hard. Night fast.” harken back to the pulp neo-noir of the 60s and 70s from magazines like ADAM. However, certain lines stick out like weeds on a manicured lawn, such as, “Kirk knew Lenny Z’s reputation and knew the man was serious. He looked serious. Deadly and serious.” If a man looks serious the reader will internalize it the first time. Other lines appear to have been missed in the editing process, such as, “The opera had been a modern updating-.”

The gunman in the car behind Boyd’s took more deliberate aim, his gloved hand– an expensive yellow soft leather glove– squeezing the trigger red jets of flame glimpsed within the barrel gun kicking a row of shots sent off like hopeful children toward their destination. (Wenclas)

§.03 Despite these minor problems, the overall effect is one of tension, speed and intensity. Its a thoroughly rousing tale of egoism, crime, passion, loyalty and betrayal with a colorful cast of characters, told in sparse, machine-gun’d prose and one which I would highly recommend.

Plot Forcing: Two Variations

A plot point within a story may be said to be forced if a given development occurred because of a sudden change which had no precedent within the tale.

One common form of plot forcing is sporadic, selective stupidity, the condition whereby a normally competent (or brilliant) character suddenly losses all wit so that said character may be bested (this is especially common with villains as can be ascertained from a cursory review of the rogues gallery of the James Bond series) either for character or plot development (or both). For a specific example, consider the absurdist climax of the Marvel film, Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), whereat the film’s primary antagonist, a ruthless galactic warlord named Ronan, is bested because he is distracted for a unbelievably protracted period of time by the protagonist’s ridiculous dancing (this, I assume, was supposed to be funny). The scene made no sense as there was no precedent for such a intelligent and unhesitating character as Ronan to be utterly stunned by nothing more than exaggerated gesticulations, especially for such a long period of time, as such, the plot advancement (Ronan’s defeat) is ‘forced’ (for attempted comedic effect). This is a case where the intended effect of a given scene (comedy) stands in contrast to both the preceding plot development (impending genocide; high drama) and the propensity of the central character (Ronan; a heedless fanatic ill-inclined to distraction).

Another form of plot forcing (and to my knowledge the most common) is precedentless character enhancement, wherein a character encounters a situation where they are hopelessly outmatched but prevail due to no other reason than their own uniqueness, a uniqueness not previously demonstrated or even known to the character in question, which only manifests when a plotline needs to be advanced. This particular kind of plot forcing is characteristic of ‘chosen one’ narratives (such as: Harry Potter, Star Wars, The Matrix, The Wheel of Time, Supernatural and many others) wherein the ‘fate of the world’ (or some variant on the theme) rests solely upon the shoulders of the protagonist whose uniqueness and pivitol role in world events is generally explained via prophecy. Chosen one characters are typically young (I cannot recall any chosen one stories wherein the prophecized hero was elderly) and seemingly inadequate for the task, yet, despite the chosen one’s complete lack of skills they invariably triumph over the chaotic force or forces which threaten their world due to providential selection (selected by a diety or fate, etc). There are so many critiques of this particular trope that little needs to be said about why it should be avoided, so I shall name only one particular and perhaps seemingly counterintuitive problem it engenders: character limitation. In placing the providential/fated selection of a character as the primary driver of the plot (and most, if not all, the arcs within it) there is something of a hardcap which is placed upon character development; firstly, in that there is no reason at the outset for a chosen one protagonist to develop at all because they are already pre-equipped to deal with every challenge that besets them; a example of this can be observed in the film Star Wars: The Force Awakens wherein the protagonist, Rey, defeats the antagonist, Ren, in a duel, despite the fact she had never fought in such a fashion before and he had trained since his youth for martial conflict. She wins not because she is more talented, but because she’s ‘chosen,’ thus, she has to win, otherwise she’d have died and the story would be over and so again, the plot is ‘forced.’

A perceptive writer can see the problem immediately, there is no character building required, which will oft incline the author to ‘quick fixes’ in the advancement of their plot and thus also inclines towards the monotone, the predictable, the grey and unthoughtful; to boring characterization and lazy scene development.

The Silence & The Howl | Part 12

§.12


When Harmon waved to Sprawls as he made breakfast the man only shook his head and sneered.

“What?”

“Why you still here?”

“Where were you expecting me to be?”

“Anywhere but here. I told you last night. Ain’t gonna work out.”

“Are you being serious?”

“I ain’t gonna throw you out. I know you don’t have anywhere to go right now. You find one. Then you leave.”

“What the hell are you talking about, Richard?”

Sprawls didn’t answer and kept buttering his toast over a paper plate beside the kitchen sink. Even as he did so, his bloodshot and buggy eyes swept to the side cautiously, suspiciously.

“You’re gonna throw me out because… I didn’t give you a cigarette? Have I got that right?”

Sprawls shook his head and didn’t answer.

“Stop buttering the god-damned toast. I’m talking to you.”

“I gotta leave. You just remember what I said.”

With that Sprawls turned to leave but Harmon braced him with his left hand, turning him half about as Sprawls grunted and smacked his roommate’s arm away.

“Don’t you put your fucking hands on me.”

“This is my house too, Richard. I’ve been splitting the rent with you since you got it. We’ve been playing music together for four fucking years – you want to end all of that over… what? Nothing?”

“I’m not repeating myself.”

“What is wrong with you?”

Sprawls just starred at him dumbly. Harmon knew he was high. He could smell it on his clothes. He wondered if Sprawls was on something else. He was always on something.

“Ain’t me that got the problem.”

“You disappoint me, Richard.”

“Yeah.”

And with that Sprawls turned and left the house as Harmon stood clenching his fists and fighting back a rage that compelled him to run from the house and bash his friend’s head against the pavement over and over until it splattered like an overripe mellon. Instead, he took a seat at his desk gathered up his laptop and went downstairs to begin filing all his belongings into cardboard boxes to take out to his car.

*