Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Setting the Scene #amwriting #amediting

For over a year now I've been struggling with edits on a couple of novellas. I'm not sure why. By this stage - after seven years involved in publishing and 17 titles released - you'd think it would be easy.
But just lately, I've been trying to do the last few fixes on Reunion - a novella set directly after Keir and before Keir's Fall that I'd planned to release 18 months ago. Normally I have a rule of music for writing, silence for editing, but my addiction to music has meant I'm rarely unplugged from my mp3, and especially recently after going to see The Rasmus again live and playing them nonstop afterwards.
So instead I tried opting for some other kind of noise that would hopefully be less distracting, and perhaps even help me in my struggle. I went hunting for some background sounds, and since my story takes place near the sea and during a storm, that's what I looked for. Youtube turned out to have a plentiful selection of such things, mostly promoted as white noise to aid sleep. I have to admit the softer ocean sounds did tempt me more toward a nap, but after some experimentation I found what I needed.
Now that I'm making progress, I thought I'd share a snippet from Reunion along with the soundtrack I used as background to help me imagine the scene a little more clearly. When Quin falls ill on Lian-seh, Keir has to make a gateway back to their island of Kasha-Asor, but something goes horribly wrong...

He leaped through the opening, and the wind slammed into him and knocked him sideways into the waiting lap of the sea. Keir staggered, knee deep in the oncoming tide, then retreated back up the beach as the leading waves chased him. Cold spray drenched him in an instant. The gale sought to thrust him back into the water and slapped tendrils of his hair into his eyes, blinding him. No recognizable features met his gaze. The ocean had invaded the woodland, bending the trees almost flat while those behind thrashed in the tempest. The storm-ravaged landscape might have been a completely different planet for all he knew. Nothing familiar caught his eye.
He gulped air as if drowning again, shaking as the icy water and cold wind whipped his skin.
Where in all the hells have I sent myself? 
The beating rain tore all the warmth from him as he turned, desperate to find a familiar landmark. Behind him, the jagged, broken spur of rock he and Quin had climbed to see S’rano’s distant island stood above the worst of the chaos, its water-drenched black surface gleaming.
Keir wrapped his arms around himself, shivering.
But that is not where I directed the gateway...
Panic gripped him, stole his breath. He had focused on their hut, been sure of his target, however new to this talent he might have been. What power had sent him that astray?
The storm answered him with a blinding flash as lightning tore across the skies, matched by the earsplitting crash of thunder. The force of it drove him to his knees on the wet sand, and the sea took its chance to lash at him, almost pulling his legs out from under him. Gasping, soaked, Keir scrabbled for the safety of the nearby trees, but the ocean would not give him up so easily. It snatched at his ankles and ripped the sand from beneath his feet. Keir fell, clawing uselessly for a hold as another wave surged around him. As the ground shifted and washed away beneath him, sand and water filled his mouth. He choked, flailing for purchase, but the waves caught him, dragged him out, flipped him over. Hard rock smacked into his side then scraped his skin, tearing it as the sea threw him against the ridge of stone. For an instant, he surfaced, gasped a breath, before the water sucked him back under.
Blood pounded in his head, drowning out the crash of the sea and storm. His lungs burned.
No. Not again.
He fought to find the surface, to get air, but the water pitched him until he could not tell up from down. Debris and dirt filled his vision, blinding him. Rock and sand grazed his fingertips before that slim, painful hope of a handhold was wrenched away. He writhed in the ocean’s grip, defenseless as it spun him, held him under even when the bright blaze of lightning revealed the surface above him. The storm-driven sea played with him, as if delighting in his helplessness. He tore at it, legs kicking, fighting to escape. A cold numbness weighed him down and weakened his every effort to be free.
Then the water lifted him, as if tired of the game, and his head broke the surface. He gulped air, throat burning as he coughed up water. The stormy sea still raged around him, water whipping his face, driven by the winds. He thrashed his arms, trying to turn himself. Already, Kasha-Asor had become a dark blur so far away he had no chance of swimming back. The sea had taken him from the island in the space of a few heartbeats, the heaving waves still carrying him farther away. Soon, he would be beyond the safety of the curved bay itself. Once past that, he would also be past hope.


  1. I usually have to write in total silence, but I have to say this was the perfect background to write this scene to. Listening while reading really added dimension to the passage.

    1. Thank you. Maybe when interactive books become a thing, ebooks will need their own music score just like a film.

  2. I'm like Laurie - write in silence. But those images - and the sounds - are perfect for your scene. I'd probably watch/listen, then write later. But that's me. Whatever works, I say.

    1. Thanks Greta. I think having started writing with young kids around, the music was a way to drown out their racket as well as inspiration, but has now become a distraction in a quiet household!


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