Building a Minor Character

The Clockwork Spider thing from Nano a couple of years back returns to mind each time I sit in front of the computer to write. I wrote Mal’s half of the roadside picnic table scene two days ago—I don’t recall if I posted it or not. I’d done a fair bit of thinking about the plot for that story. I didn’t codify it though. I think I’ll do a little remembering out loud here today.

Malachi is an older mage dating Karen who is both younger than him and less experienced in magic than he. A clockwork spider Malachi constructed as a precocious youth holds the key to finding (and rescuing) their coven leader Prof. Palmer. Somehow a prison break was involved as well as a bit of world-hopping, a séance, and a jealous scheming runner-up.

Except for a bunch of tattoos and a roughshod look, Malachi didn’t have much characterization. Karen may have had less.

What other stuff I’ve written since my original musing implies that I’ve got Malachi collecting advice/clues/aid from less savory friends than belong to the coven as regulars. As I think on this it feels a bit like a montage or yak shaving. I suppose that isn’t bad as long as each meet-up increases the stakes and is closely tied to the conflict. But I ought to work out what it is Mal seeks with each meeting and why he doesn’t get what he wants.

Here’s a quick exchange with Steven Tattersall in Haast, NZ that came to mind…

After establishing Steven as a bit of a letch, Karen and Malachi depart.

Karen shrugged and shivered and stamped her feet like she was wriggling out of a cocoon. “I told you you wouldn’t like him,” said Malachi.

“You didn’t tell me how much you do though.”

Mal smiled instead of lying.

“What?” Karen crossed her arms. “What? You’re enjoying this too much not to be telling me something…everything. Anything. Whatever. What?”

“Steven’s gay.” [kinda think Mal might say ‘fag’ but I’m not sure how to resolve that]

“I wouldn’t have guessed that.”

“He wouldn’t want you to.”

“Why not?”

“Because he hasn’t either.”

356 words on day 983

It’s Possible I’m Getting Worse at This

Maybe my fear of never writing again is what keeps me from attacking these last few days with more gusto. I crack me up.

Phone cables, electrical lines, and other wires stretched above the street turned bazaar and footpath. Some dried clothes near the plasterboard structures lining the way. Others hung heavy with pennant flags and beer ads. Still others ran the several meter gap empty and wondering why. Together they choked the sky and forced Drake’s attention back to earth.

Somewhere in this jumbled alley there had to be the best place in Goh Bhutin to serve a cup of coffee. He’d find it.

Last night the concierge had given him directions to the place and told him the name, but Drake had forgotten it almost immediately in the effort to recall all the twists and turns of the route. After dinner in the hotel’s lounge, Drake set out to find the place so it wouldn’t take as long in the morning when he was sleepy and hurried. In the evening the place had been lifeless and still. He didn’t even recall noticing the clutter overhead.

This morning people huddled so thickly around the entrance he wasn’t sure where among the mopeds, potted plants, and cases of beer he was supposed to dive in. A young woman shouldered her way out past a handrail that may have been a turn-stile at one time. Then a grey-haired man threaded his way into the that gap. Drake skipped and angled his way in after the man hoping to draft him through the crowd. The man was gone, but in his place a second young woman headed out after the first. Drake checked her to the tile before he could pull his momentum back.

Like an animal acting on instinct, the crowd withdrew. He and the girl took up the center of a circle of on lookers. Drake bent to offer the woman a hand. He thought he was apologizing when a hand from the crowd snatched his away from the woman on the ground and propelled him roughly into the surrounding circle.

270 words on day 982

Back Lightning

As payment for a week of slacking I’m just going to take the countstamp on my latest main writing source and use it for today’s writing. I think I’m technically a day or two ahead of this number, but I’m sure whatever I wrote, where ever I wrote it, isn’t worth the effort of finding and incrementing.

Malachi pinched the skin on the back of his hand together so it made the ink of a tattooed circle kiss the ink of a tattooed rose. It didn’t mean anything; it wasn’t a spell. His time-browned skin shone with age like he had a layer of still-taunt flesh under and almost-attached husk of cellophane. He released his grip; the circle and the rose drifted apart. He rubbed the back of his hand flat again before stuffing his fingers into a leather riding glove.

It was hard to hear what Karen was saying over the idle of his rebuilt Vincent Black Lightning. It was even harder when he twisted the throttle. He took a deep breath of New Mexican air and used his senses to find the warm hiss of Bluetooth from her cellphone. He warded it with only a little more consideration using another twist of the throttle to camouflage the effort. Karen would be stuck but safe. Pissed but alive…until the battery ran out.

223 words on day 979

Remember Charming

I should write something about departures today. Or planes. Or evenings in Colorado.

But I won’t.

I also won’t write about continuing practice on this keyboard. It’s scrunchy and imprecise.

Charming Venda has drifted to mind in the past month a few times. Nothing new drifted in with her, so I haven’t tried to write anything more about her. I like the idea that I ought to give her a bit of the Parker-Stone treatment.

Charming was born of the combination of three captures: the word sacerdotal, a picture of dermatography, and a picture of Koh Panyi. I’ve devoted some time to two of these three, but left one entirely alone.

Familiar but unreadable words rise on the skin of Charming’s thighs while she is working at her sugar coral shop.

Therefore…she tries to hide them by putting on a wrap-skirt.

But…they itch so badly she can’t focus on sales.

But…a fellow vender notices and asks what’s wrong.

But…two words in the jumble become intelligible: DROWN [character name].

But…she can’t find a pin to hold up the skirt and the wrap’s ties are torn.

But…they rise on her arms as well and she thinks her face.

Therefore…she leaves a fellow vender in charge of the shop while she goes home to investigate in private.

But…her booth-seller intercepts her and demands back rent.

But…[character who drowns] confronts her publicly for his money.

But…her shop swells with customers before she can gather her belongings.

But…the skin writing disappears before she can get to privacy (leaving her curious if she imagined it).

But…authorities arrive to arrest her for the murder of [character who drowns].

I am not paving new ground here, but I do like the results and the variety.

Also, a nuance of the Parker-Stone technique I’ve just uncovered is that some of the situations that drop out of this effort can be thoughts rather than actual events. Instead of having to choose the best one or two, or having to pile them all on, some can just be a character’s thoughts and fears. This seems like a good place for both the obvious ones and the more outlandish ones that surface.

Hopscotch Portage

Two days in a row again. Nice.

Bale poled upstream of the put-in, out of the shadow of the steep jungle slope, to feel the sunset warm his arms. Evening came early to the Tall Rock River, but it lasted for hours.

That’s nearly all I meant to write yesterday. Sometimes I get caught up in the mechanics of reproducing the mood of a photograph I use to spark my daily writing that I forget to just write the even and let the reader make up their own mood.

Moving on…

The flow of the slow black water wouldn’t let him enjoy the day’s end long. He angled the square bowed boat so that it would drift downstream onto the sand bar of the put-in.

Hopscotch Portage was as far upstream as Bale had ever been without his father—it was as far upstream as he’d ever been alone. Any other night might find two or three riverers on the down side and maybe a handful on the top side he could chat with or share a fire, but it was opening night of the [something] Rendevous. The Tall Rock was empty save for him and the otters.

He bounced the stern just before hitting the bar and slid in smooth and high without needing the pole to correct. Stepping over the crate amidship and hopping from the bow, Bale made it to shore without getting his feet wet.

xxx words on day 971

A Broad Clumsy Waterfall

There is always an excuse for not writing. Last week we traveled out of state on a vacation. Finding time to write was harder than normal, but it wasn’t harder than I expected. The writing was unsurprisingly useless, so I am throwing it away. For the first time in 1000 Days history I’m taking crap writing and I’m pitching it.

As a matter of full disclosure I should note that there are more days in the last gap where I didn’t even try to write than there are days where I wrote and I’m throwing it out. I wouldn’t want you to think things had changed much around here. Tomorrow I’ll work out the date for day 1000; today I need to get to writing.

Evening came quickly to the Tall Rock River, but it lasted for hours. Bale admired the shadowed jungle rising out of the water a hundred feet or more. The canyon’s rim might have even been another hundred higher than it looked from where he poled his flat-bottomed boat; the slope tricked the eye. The deep, black water remained placid for miles between his home and [his destination], but it shallowed in two places. The first—an hour into his journey—from a long-ago slide that created a broad clumsy waterfall. And the second, just ahead. He passed the portage so he could slide out of the day-long shadow and into the golden beams of sunset where a westerly branch of the canyon allowed one last peak of the sun. [trying too hard here]

Let’s just get this mess posted.

256 words on day 970

The Nones of May

Kevin Cane stood on the margin of the car park where the painted lines gave way to a paved road between tourist shops. The asphalt looked like it had been poured thin and hot over a poorly groomed dirt road then hardened in place. Its fresh black with grey aggregate matched his goatee and moustache. The vespers sun blah blah.

[He is in San Diego attending the marriage of his friend Colin Abes. This is Colin’s second marriage; the bride is the same age as the bride at the first—which Kevin also attended.

At the first wedding fifteen or so years ago, Kevin had an affinity for the couple. Even though he was single, even though he’d been right in the middle of his first stint in the Navy, the event felt like a beginning for him. This obvious affair be contrast feels like an end.

Kevin turned forty recently, that gives him the right to say he feels old and wise even though he’s neither.]

186 words on day 967