Inspiration: Lightning Bolts? Today, More Like Hammering A Nail!

The month’s almost done. The novel’s not (though I’m a winner. Woo!)

Today, writing for #NaNoWriMo was…. not good. Sure, I’ve won already, but I got barely three hundred words written this morning, and they were all resistant. At least, it felt that way. I hope to write more this afternoon, though.

The thing is, though, as I look back over that plodding progress this morning, I like what I have. I had to write a magical training session between Vane Unsten (who makes his first appearance in “The Crimson League” as a baby and now is almost 40. CRAZY!) and one of my two POV characters, Zate. My frustrations were many:

  • people who read the first trilogy know how magic works in Herezoth. don’t want to bore them.
  • people who haven’t read the first books don’t know how magic works. don’t want to confuse them.
  • what kind of new magic can I possibly use that will be fun and exciting–and make sense for the world I’ve created–when I’ve already done magic SO much throughout the original trilogy?

I had a solution: Vane makes it to the library of the Hall of Sorcery in a previous book, which gives him access to all the ancient magic recorded and stored there. The trick was coming up with fun spells I hadn’t used before that were powerful and also interesting/useful, with strengths and weaknesses and the possibility for things to go wrong. Well, this is what I got today, as Vane trains Zate for an ambush they’ve set against Fielder Wolding, the book’s baddie sorcerer. (Feel free to skip it if you’re not interested.)

Zate noticed a handful of books on one of the shelves at his back, next to the door. The Duke of Ingleton grabbed them and took them to the table, where the men set to work.

These spells were older than the spells Zate had mastered at school. They were of a kind and a power he had never seen before. One, to create a swirling, protective wind about himself he could push out in all directions as an undiscriminating attack, brought back an intense, almost painful burning down his spine had could not remember experiencing since the first spells he had ever cast. The value of that particular incantation was that the air it involved was free of dust and dirt and other particles, making the rushing wind invisible. Four words long, the spell was the most complex piece of magic Zate had ever learned.

Other spells—such as one to crack a man-sized crevice in the floor some ten or twelve feet deep—required Ingleton’s help and simultaneous casting for any real effect to take place. The duke had to restore the room to sorts himself, for Zate had no strength whatsoever at the end of the session. Esper’s father gave him a minor energy spell, which helped. As they finished, Ingleton asked, “Are you on duty today at the cemetery?”

“Tomorrow night,” said Zate.

“It’ll probably be night when Fielder makes his move. He’ll want the cover of darkness.”

“He’ll be invisible as well, if he’s any sense at all,” said Zate. “This won’t be easy.”

The duke countered, “Invisible or not, wherever he is in the vicinity, he can’t escape that wind spell. And he’ll never see it coming.”

“I’m quite worried he’ll sneak in and out without us marking him. Even having the site guarded, that’s a possibility. I know Fielder Wolding, and he’s neither stupid nor careless. He’ll come, but he’ll have his guard up.”

That’s basically all I’ve written today, and it’s not much. The thing is, I like the potential those few words have. To those writers starting out: some days, it’s about quality (or even the creating the potential for quality) rather than quality. Some days, it’s just about getting something–anything–on the page, to keep your momentum going and and keep the story and its issues and its plot and characters fresh in your head so you set yourself up for a lightning-bolt style of inspiration later on. You need the proper environment for that to happen.

Some days, you don’t get lightning. You don’t write a whole, amazing scene taking you new places. Some days you’re pounding over and over and over again at the story with a hammer, just trying to get one nail down to build some kind of a foundation. And there’s nothing wrong with that. That nail matters. That nail is necessary. Progress is progress. Don’t let the days when the words come hard discourage you. Just let them come at their own pace…. Because they will. I promise, they will.


3 responses to “Inspiration: Lightning Bolts? Today, More Like Hammering A Nail!

  1. Wonderful post. I try to keep that attitude myself. I used to think it was all about word count but sometimes brainstorming and outling are a better use of time.

  2. Pingback: First Draft Composition: A Focused, Directed Vision is a MUST | Creative Writing with the Crimson League

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