* Please feel free to skip directly to the jump if you don’t give a shit about my writing process.
On November 1, I awoke completely hung over from what I had deemed to be my last wild night of partying for the next thirty days at least. Halloween weekend and the weeks leading up to it were nuts — I don’t think I’ve fried so many brain cells in my entire life. That morning, faced with tackling the first 1,667 words of my book (the average word count per day I’m required to hit in order to reach 50,000 words by November 30), I felt torn. Should I sleep off my hangover? Or work on my novel? Sleep? Or write? Sleep? Or write? I think I’ll just lay my head down on my Tempurpedic pillow for a bit and think it over while I … ZzzZzzzZz …
After six hours or so of “thinking it over” during the longest nap ever, I snapped awake late in the day, freaking over the time. Shit. I remember panicking at the thought of letting all of my sponsors down, pulling open my computer and trying to decide between Pages for OS X and Microsoft Word, wondering which word processor might serve me better. When I’d finally pulled up one blank page in portrait orientation, I stared numbly at my computer screen.
And continued staring.
I had an idea of what I wanted to write, sure. I knew my lead would be a girl. I mean, I’m a girl, I told myself. I think like a girl, and therefore, I can probably write the part of a girl fairly well. I also knew I wanted there to be magic of some kind. Everyone loves magic, right? Shit, I like magic. And I knew I wanted to work in a hint of romance, a bit of swordplay, a whole lot of drama, and a sprinkle of comedy. But how I’d accomplish all of this, well. That part, I hadn’t quite figured out yet.
I found myself cursing my lack of preparation. On the days leading up to NaNoWriMo, I remembered seeing friends posting updates saying how they were gearing up for their novel by filling out character sheets and outlines detailing the traits of their protagonists and their opposition to help them get a better feel for their plots. Why didn’t I do that?! I was too smug. Too proud. I thought I could make do without the prep. I am Sherilynn “HeyCheri” Macale, I thought! I don’t need no stinkin’ character sheets or outlines! But as I stared at the blank word processor page, I realized: Okay. Maybe I’m doing this wrong.
In a frenzy, I gathered what writing resources I could, filling out page after page of character surveys listing my main protagonist’s every hope, every dream, and every physical characteristic from the soft tousle of her deep brown hair to the feminine swell of her little breasts (yeah, I totally gave my lead character tiny tits — GO ITTY BITTY TITTY COMITTEE!). But even after I’d finished, returning with strengthened resolve to that same blank page to begin my novel, I found myself tossing those character sheets out the window, because as I finally began to write, my characters took on a life of their own.
What I’ve come to realize from spending the last five days of my life writing for hours at a time is this: there is no right way to write a novel. You just have to do it. All the preparation in the world won’t make the process any easier. It might aid you a bit if you’re the scatterbrained type who finds solace in organization, but for someone like me, it was a big waste of a day I could have spent writing from the seat of my pants instead. Filling out those character sheets — which I hardly glance at now, since they are essentially useless to the story I’ve ended up actually creating — the process itself helped put me in the frame of mind to imagine what might happen to my protagonist. But beyond that, I don’t use them as a guide at all.
So, at 7,000+ words in with 43,000 left to go, there you have it. As promised in my previous post (NaNoWriMo 2013 – Let’s Do This!), behold: Chapter 1 of my novel, The Wizard’s Game.
The Wizard’s Game
By Sherilynn Macale
“This is what you asked for.” Voice trembling, he took one shaky step towards her, the craggy earth shifting beneath his bare and dirty feet. Her eyes widened as the near-naked man advanced, her breaths shallow with alarm.
When words finally came to her, they arose in frantic appeal. “Please, Fioldur, not this. Not like this.”
“A Wizard’s Promise can’t be broken,” he repeated the phrase for what must have been the hundredth time, quivering madly as he proceeded toward her. “You bound yourself to me. You played my game. You lost. Give me my due.” He spoke with a dark authority, each syllable enunciated with terrifying clarity. The wild look in his eyes betrayed his hunger, and as he closed the distance between them, she found her back pressed to the temple’s stony wall.
“Fio, no,” she begged, eyes darting from left to right, desperate for escape but spying only her prison of moss and ivy-eaten rock. Dead torches long-since burnt out in neglect hung from rusty sconces, bespeaking her deserted surroundings. “I can’t … This isn’t what I … You cannot do this!” Her pride ate at her even as she heard herself cry out in distress, her heart pounding in her chest.
“I can. I will. And you will, little one. You have no choice.” As he spoke, she could feel the barest brushes of his magic fluttering over her. This was really happening, she realized. There was no avoiding this now. She had to do something. Anything. Panicked, she sought her thoughts frantically for options. She couldn’t let him take her mind. She wasn’t weak, she knew. She had power. She was clever. Maybe not as clever or powerful as Fioldur, but enough, she hoped. She could survive this. At the very least, she had to try.
With her gaze locked to his, her left hand edged with a deliberate casualness towards her hip pouch.
“Runes won’t help you, Elewyn,” he tisked, pointedly aware of her next move. She panted out one high-pitched note of terror. “I. Gave them to you. I. Imbued them with power. I. Am the blood that seeps through them. They will not work against their creator.” He was so close to her, now. So dangerously close.
“Please, Fioldur,” she whimpered, her pathetic creeping along the wall a testament to how truly helpless she felt. “I don’t understand why there isn’t another way. I would have given myself to you willingly. I could, still, if you would only—“
“Enough!” It was as if he had suddenly grown fed up with the slow hunt, for when her inching along had finally put her rear to a corner, he closed the final distance between them. Pressing his palms to the angled stone beside her face, he drew close. She cringed when she felt his breath hot on her lips, his massive body towering over her.
“Fio—“ she began. But his mouth crushed down on hers and devoured her muffled cry. He was ruthless. Careless with her. Not at all charming and passionate as he had been when they had first shared this touch. She was afraid of him. And what’s worse, he knew it, and he seemed to enjoy it.
When finally his lips lifted from her own, her cheeks were wet with tears. He didn’t seem to care. She squirmed when she felt his muscled chest hard against her, pinning her back where she stood. A sob left her when one of his large hands grasped at her skirts, tearing the beautifully embroidered fabric with a few jarring jerks, exposing her white thighs. She couldn’t believe this was happening. Never did she think it would happen like this. She had wanted him once, yes. At first, yes. But not like this. Never like this.
Up close, she could feel the invading strands of his magic intruding into her thoughts, picking at her fears, her weaknesses, engulfing her conscience. Fioldur had never dared to use this sort of magic on her before. She moved to press him away, but it was all too easy for him to snatch up her tiny wrists and squeeze them painfully tight, dragging her hands up high above her head to smash them solidly against the cold stone without a care for her comfort. And when she cried out in protest, his mouth found hers again with barbarous abandon, the pressure smacking her skull against the wall with a dull thud. His rough fingers searched her bared legs for the hem of the lacy shift he had gifted her with himself. She sobbed into his mouth when he nudged his way into the fabric, then cried her alarm when he found her flesh.
“My little Elewyn.” The words came when his mouth lifted from hers to take a breath, licking the salt of her tears from his lips. While his fingers explored her, he continued. “You are right. This could have been done another way. We could have had something much more beautiful, I think.” Her mind seemed to fog over then, and she could feel the unrestrained weight of his magic bearing down on her, twisting her thoughts into submission. “But I couldn’t let you slip away. I couldn’t let him have you. That Dareny. That Dareny!” Fioldur spat his name venomously. “He knew you were mine! That son of a whore thief had no right to intrude on my property. How could he possibly think he’d know what to do with the power you have? With your potential? Your beauty? You are mine, do you understand? Mine!” He snarled the words possessively, his palm now pressed aggressively to where no man had touched her before. Had she been in her right mind, she would have found his tone spoiled and childish, but as it was, the magic he suppressed her with left her near brainless, her body responding with heightened sensitivity to his touch.
Give in. Fioldur’s voice echoed through her thoughts, and with it, an accompanying wave of his will manifest, hell-bent on twisting her wits to meet his needs. Her knees buckled beneath her, the resolve to resist fleeing her with frightening speed. She tried desperately to press back with her own weak magic, attempting to shoo him from her mind, release his hold on her will. But her sad attempt was a drop of water against the rushing wave of power he exerted over her in response. His thoughts engulfed her own so deeply she could barely grasp what feelings and emotions were her own and which were his. Quickly, she felt herself forgetting things, the same way Cianna had warned her she would. She could feel herself losing sense of who she was, what she’d been through, where she’d come from. Fioldur was effectively reducing her to a mindless puppet. Some small part of her clutched desperately at her sanity, that weak voice of perseverance a whisper against the roar of Fioldur’s strength. But the effort to maintain that link strained her as no exercise in her poor training had ever done before. She desperately wished, then, that she had paid more attention to Cianna’s training. How could she have been so stupid? Did she really think such power could come so easily?
I could make this easy for you, Elewyn. I could make you enjoy this. She was vaguely aware of being lifted from where she stood. Somewhere, she could hear the distant patter of sharply pebbled stones as footstep after footstep carried her off. Let me into your mind. Forget Dareny. Throw down your walls. The words came again and again, the commands draining her defiance with ease. He was too powerful. It was too much. She felt herself laid down over cold grass, and in her near-delirious and magicked state, she could still smell the sweet wildflowers dappling the temple grounds. She held onto that, trying to ground herself to reality by envisioning the temple in her mind. Or she tried. What was real, anymore? She could barely tell. You owe this to me, Elewyn. Remind yourself of your promise. You owe me your life. Every word he spun through her mind recalled to her the loyalty she had pledged to him, the promises she had indeed made. He was starting to make sense. He was starting to sound right. How could she betray him, she wondered? Fioldur, who rescued her from her poor fate? Fioldur, who showed her things no man had ever shown her before? Fioldur, who lavished her in luxuries, who helped her explore every girlish fantasy she had ever dreamt of? Yes. She owed this to him. He was her master now. They were bound. Why shouldn’t he be the one she share her power with? Why shouldn’t he be the one she bind herself to for eternity? He deserved it, didn’t he? That’s it. That’s my Elewyn. You’re mine. She could feel him methodically stripping her bare, unlacing her blouse, freeing her small breasts. She could feel the chill of the soft breeze on her body, every sensation a comfort, the terror in her slowly residing. Falling away. Why should she resist? What was the point?
He removed the last of her clothing from her.
She should enjoy this. He was right.
He murmured his approval over the sight of her body.
This would be so much better for her if she just gave in. It all made perfect sense. She wanted to give in. She—
A voice? Who? Go away. This was her duty. She was bound. Go away.
Elewyn, please! It’s Dareny! I’m coming!
Dareny? Who was Dareny? Fioldur was her master. Go away, Dareny. Go away.
Please, Elewyn. Please try. Please. The male voice seemed desperate, the magic it spoke from a shiver of blue across her spine while Fioldur’s red wave surged and throbbed through her now lax body, rendering her senseless with the weight of it. Still, the blue magic persisted. Still, it called to her.
Ellie, please. Just a little longer. I’m coming. I’m coming. From the blue magic, the faint sound of hooves beating in a frenzied gallop pattered through her mind, heavy breathing and a tickling sense of pain feathering her thoughts. Was he hurt? Who was he? Why was he coming? She’d forgotten already.
Fioldur’s lips were at her throat, his tongue tasting her skin, the surface of it slick with the sweat of her earlier straining. Now that she no longer resisted, he took his time, his hands cherishing the feel of her, one gripping greedy handfuls of her long brown hair while another found purchase between her thighs, spreading them carefully. Beautiful. His words dripped huskily through her thoughts, the animalistic need in them pounding his lust into her mind, becoming her own. She was no longer Elewyn. She was his possession. She had promised herself to him. She was his to do with as he liked. And she wanted him to have her.
A low whimper of assent bubbled from her throat of its own accord, and she let it, shame a distant emotion she could not recall. His magic grasped at it, fed from from her submission, grew more powerful because of it. That’s it, my girl. Fioldur’s voice echoed through her waning wits, a reverberating tremor that sang with scarlet strength at every note. Give yourself to me. Submit to me. Our power together shall be so immense, you’ll forget it all. Forget your ties to your old life. Your home is with me now.
Home… The thought of it roused something warm inside of her. Something comforting. What was home? She could just barely recall it now…
Home, Elewyn! Home! The blue magic whispered urgently at her mind. Remember your training! He can’t bind you completely if you hold onto your memories. Don’t forget yourself. Your family. Your mother. Your sister. All of it! The blue magic seemed to seep through her veins then, a pulsing tingle that lent her strength. Remember who you are, Ellie. Who you were. I’m almost there. Try. Try!
Her mind felt torn in too many different directions, the strain of it taxing her. It was all she could do to focus on something anchoring her to any sort of reality. Dareny’s voice called to her, beseeching her to try. Please try. He was coming. Keep trying. Keep holding on. So, she tried. With what little sanity she had left, she willed herself to recall it all.
I remember reading somewhere that a big part of writing your novel is lying to yourself and telling yourself over and over that people will actually like the thing. People will actually read it and think, “This is amaze-balls! What happens next?! Tell me, tell me, tell me!” So, even if the above is terrible, I’m just going to pretend it’s not. In fact, let’s all pretend that crappy draft is even kinda good or something. Y’know. Spare my ego. How else am I supposed to get through the next 43,000 words of this novel?! Guh.
I’ve already written Chapter 2, by the way, and it. Is. Massive. It makes up a full 3/4 of my novel at this point. But, y’know. I’m one of those failed Asians who sucks at math. So maybe it’s more like 2/3. And maybe when I’m done with this thing, I should send it off to a professional editor who can tell me to chop some paragraphs short or cut out one needless detail after another since I kind of have no idea what I’m doing. Or maybe I’ll print it all out and yell, “Wheeeeee!” while skipping down to the beach and tossing the pages of my manuscript up into the air.
Or maybe I have no idea what I’m saying.
What I do know is this:
If you’d like to contribute towards the completion of my novel and help show your support, please head to my NaNoWriMo fundraising page and donate now. Your donations put me in the running to win a whole host of sweet rewards, one of which includes having the first twenty pages of my novel reviewed by real editors. Not only that, but your sponsorship urges me to stay out of trouble, to keep trucking on, and continue writing my novel. Oh — and 100% of the proceeds go to fund the Office of Letters and Light, NaNoWriMo’s parent organization that helps creative writers achieve their dreams in more than 500 regions across the world. Amazing.
Thank you so much for reading Chapter 1 (assuming you actually read the thing before making it down to these last few sentences). And thank you to those of you who’ve chosen to donate. I can’t tell you how motivating it’s been to receive your support. It keeps me home writing and helps fund creativity around the world. And that’s good enough for me.