Here’s the drill:
20 minutes. Fresh, free fiction (of the imaginative variety), based on a few preset parameters.
Every Tuesday, I’ll spin you a quick tale and give you something to think about. Call it a writing drill, an exercise in imagination. I spend nearly a year to get a book together, so what better than an opportunity to have something finished by the time I click “save”.
How to you keep a reader anchored in a story’s setting when the action moved quickly? How much detail is too much detail when the focus is on the action? How much is too little?
Today, in my 20 minute exercise, I will write a quick-moving narrative sequence with a quickly-fleshed-out setting. The challenge for me will be to find the right balance between too much and too little. The goal: to keep it vivid, and keep you moving.
Kale knew he had no time. His heart thumped in his chest like a kettle drum the moment he heard the glass shatter. His feet moved of their own accord, crossing the black marble floor before. More glass shattered, a spray of red and blue and green, and Guardian warriors poured into the Hall of Priests.
Kale’s blood burned hot in his throat, even after he passed into the cool evening air, his boots smacking against the cobbles. He passed seven alleyways before he heard the sound of pursuit. Damnit! He had hoped. There was no time. He ran faster, white spots flashing across his vision.
“Get him!” some brute shouted from behind. To his left, two wide oak doors swung open, and two more Guardians, wearing their uniforms of navy blue and their badges of bronze, came rushing at him, both hefting maces. Kale ignored them, looking ahead, to the street’s end, toward the four crates in front of him and Gilder’s Square beyond. The long arms of the giant town clock waited just a few degrees from midnight, below them the Mayor’s House waited in silent shadow. He was supposed to be awake. Did Mire manage to get him out?
No time for that. Kale rushed past the crates, feeling the air swoosh around his ear as he narrowly missed one of the Guardians’ maces. His luck was with him this night, but he did not loosen his grip on the sharp stone in his hand, the one that filled him with more strength than he should have had. Dannel said he might die, if he used too much, but what was the business of thievery without risk?
Kale sprinted, his eyes swimming with white blur, his blood boiling like an angry cauldron, and soon he heard the footsteps fading. He saw the three arched windows, depicting the double crosses of the Lore Priests, and beyond it, the hole in the wall where he had slipped in. Almost there.
When he reached the river, flowing noisily as it swept around the town in a broad arc, he stopped, looking behind him. No one had followed – no one had seen him. He hoped. Now it was up to Dannel and Mire. Kale looked ahead, to the bridge, where the river widened. He saw no sign of the boats. The Highland Peaks rose, black against the dusk’s deep blue. The Revenant awaited her prize. Kale smiled, feeling the bulge in his vest pocket. Would they make it?
Kale waited until he heard the shouting, the rumble of the town’s gates opening. Guardians poured out, and with them, Soldiers. This was it. The first strike. Somewhere within the Vaults, Benna and Jade would be ready for the second. He continued to search for the boats, but to no avail. Dammit, Dannel, I hope you know what you’re doing. The river would take him to the Highlands, eventually to the Nest, but it was along journey, and the autumn nights were growing more and more chill.
Whoosh! Kale ducked just in time as motion flashed in the corner of his eyes. The Guardian grunted as his mace struck the ground, but Kale was gone, dashing toward the river. He pocketed the Deathstone and jumped into the icy water.
Looks like I’ll be swimming.