I talked to my friend Kim a few days ago. She says she’s stuck on writing chapter six of her book. I keep telling her about my “put down any nonsensical idea you think of” method but I don’t think she has the hang of it yet. She says she wants to get it right the first time. Where’s the fun in that? But I can’t bear to see a friend in trouble so I looked online for the best advise about first drafts I could find. Quotes from the finest authors in all of history! Take a look at what I found, Kim:
“The first draft of anything is shit.” – Ernest Hemingway
This is the one that came up most. I call my first drafts crappy, but there’s still the glimmer of excellence within. A budding potential! Sorry, Ernest, but you’ve crossed the line this time. And stop swearing on my site!
“I don’t write a quick draft and then revise; instead, I work slowly page by page, revising and polishing.” – Dean Koontz
Wow, this guy sounds more your style, Kim. I’ve never read any of his novels, but they’re always next to Stephen King’s at the book store so they must be finished at least!
“No passion in the world is equal to the passion to alter someone else’s draft.” – H. G. Wells
Ha,ha, no kidding man! Some guy read your stuff and thought that it needed more Tom Cruise! Kim, hurry up and finish so I can tell you what to change!
“I hate first drafts, and it never gets easier. People always wonder what kind of superhero power they’d like to have. I wanted the ability for someone to just open up my brain and take out the entire first draft and lay it down in front of me so I can just focus on the second, third, and fourth drafts.” – Judy Blume
Stop daydreaming about fantastic scenarios and get to writing, you slacker! I want another Fudge sequel!
“I don’t fiddle or edit or change while I’m going through that first draft.” – Nora Roberts
Good advice. Now edit your quote so you don’t include three verbs that mean the exact same thing.
“Normally I do a first draft using pen and paper, and then do my first edit when I type it onto my computer.” – J. K. Rowling
Oh, brilliant, J.K. I can see why you’re the queen.
That’s all for now, Kim; I’ll look up more quotes later. Ponder these authors’ sagely words and tell me how it goes.
7 – Seeping Through
Vornis and Toreen continued up the path they were walking.
“Looks like there’s a rest stop or something up here,” Vornis said. The trees had been cleared away from the hill, leaving a bald, paved top. An empty vendor booth and benches had been erected next to some statues. Several hills to the north were ablaze.
“I think the wind’s carrying it away from us,” Toreen said. She took heavy steps up to the top, watching the far-off smoke drifts.
“The wind is bringing something up from behind us, too,” Vornis said. He turned to stare back at the way they had traveled: a vehicle was coming along up the curved path. It was rolling on six large tires with a long, open top for passengers. There was no one visible, save for a figure in the closed cab at the front.
“This a friend of yours?” Vornis asked. The noise of tires rolling on pavement sent birds flying from the trees as it neared the hilltop.
“I don’t even know what that is,” Toreen replied. She took the cigarette butt out of her mouth and flicked it away.
Vornis held up his arms. “Hey! Stop!” he cried at the bus. It slowed. Vornis stepped up to the cab door as the vehicle halted with a whine. The tinted window on the driver’s side slid down. A man with a slick pompadour and dimpled chin peered out.
“Look who needs a ride.” he hummed.
“You!” Vornis said. “You’re alive?”
The engine shut off and the man opened the door. The tip of a crutch hit the pavement first, followed by two legs.
“Thanks to Parlay,” Tyle said. “My hearts are still bad”–he touched his right shoulder and hip–“but I have the arm and leg again.”
“So this is another one of your friends,” Toreen stated.
“I wouldn’t say that,” Tyle told her. “Not after you left me to die in that building.”
“Hey! You’re the one that shot me!” Vornis grumbled back.
“And yet here you stand,” Tyle said. “What are you doing out here, anyway?”
“The hex doors are down; all the magic just disappeared,” Toreen said.
“Magic just isn’t very reliable, is it?” Tyle said in a practiced tone. He tapped the fat tires of the bus with his crutch. “Jesian engineering, on the other hand: it got me here and it will get you where you’re going, too.”
Vornis rolled his wide, white eyes. “Not this again.”
“So where are we going?” Toreen asked. “The bar and pyramid are further down the road.”
“Yes! That’s where I was headed–the pyramid,” Tyle confirmed. “I’m meeting the head of that hex door company.”
“Wait, you’re meeting King?” Vornis asked. “What for?”
“The man thinks he has a monopoly on ground transportation,” Tyle said, smirking. “I’m going to prove him wrong.” He leaned on his crutch and tipped his head at Vornis. “You’re not going to attack me for just driving somewhere, are you?”
The beast smiled. “I think we just found something we can agree on: King needs to be knocked off his high perch. If you get to the pyramid during this blackout then you’ll really show him up.”
“Exactly!” Tyle said. “It will demonstrate Jesian reliability!”
“Yes!” Vornis roared. “And if you arrive with us and the other rescued people from the bar you’ll be noticed for sure!”
“Bar? Oh, right, it’s on the way. Great–good idea!” Tyle chimed in. “Let’s get going!”
Toreen grinned at Vornis and walked to the passenger side of the bus. Vornis bounded to the open top with the seats.
“And if you see any of those giant dogs, floor it!” he added.
“Any, uh, what?” Tyle sputtered. He looked off into the trees, shook his head, and turned back to the vehicle.
The captain in the charred uniform watched from the large gap in the hull of the Nameless. The other four hawks were with him, staring down at the tiny figures running across the cloudy surface.
“We have just witnessed something appalling.” He spoke at a small device in his hand. “We worked with the intruders to help them escape. We were able to fashion a small bomb out of one of the undetonated missiles. But as we watched them go through the bridge they were caught by Cougo. And we found out everything has been a lie. He can steal memories; we saw it happen. He made them forget about us and the plan we had agreed on. He did it over and over like a game. He even admitted that he did it to us! That we had a home! That he made us forget!”
The captain looked over at the others with a nod. The port hawk was sobbing.
“But we will not forget,” the captain went on. “Do not believe what he tells you! He did not rescue us; he captured us and this ship! A ship that he says was built to defeat him!”
The empty casing of the bomb was next to him, along with several pieces of machinery. The door at the end of the room opened and Cougo stood inside the elevator there.
“Save message!” the captain spat out. “Play every thirty minutes!”
“You guys,” Cougo began. He took his huge finger and jabbed it at them. “You spied on me. After all I did. I took out every bad experience you ever had. I made sure you believed you lived lives without betrayal. But you still didn’t trust me.”
“None of it ever made sense,” the captain said. “Why we were here in this place. Why we were–“
He paused. “Why we were–? Sorry, I forgot what I was saying.”
“Why you were taking so long to fix this hole in the ship?” Cougo offered. He ducked through the door. His flat teeth were bared in a grin.
“Right,” the captain affirmed. He looked over at the others. “This is the worst of the damage, correct?”
Cougo lunged, swiping the small recorder out of his hand. He tossed to the ground and stomped it to pieces with his huge shoe.
“Aw, look at that. What happened?” He ran his fingers through the part in his blond hair. “You guys break everything I give you.”
The captain looked down at the mess of crushed plastic and wiring. “Oh, I don’t know how that happened. I’m sorry.”
Cougo turned and ducked back into the lift. “It’s okay; I could never get mad at you guys anyway! Just make sure you clean it up.”
Dark, Darrow, Jelk, and Tenny ran across the glass plain.
“This feels too weird!” Darrow said. “Like we’re on ice! Like it could break!”
“Yeah I know man,” Jelk panted. He grasped the backpack’s harness. “You’ll catch us if we fall, right, Dark?”
Dark was watching the Nameless and the thinning smoke as he glided backward. “I will. Where are we running to, anyway?”
“Tenny’s in the lead,” Darrow said. “And it looks like he’s headed to that freaky temple-looking place.”
“You think that Templetine guy lives there?” Jelk asked. “Is going to any of these places really a good idea?”
“We’re sitting ducks out here,” Dark said. “I’m sorry; I thought there would be more places to hide.”
“Where is that new guy hiding!?” the man said, getting up as the giant monitor winked off. “My show!”
“You could help us look,” bouncer Steve shouted over. He was checking between the rows of slot machines. The music and noise had lessened in volume; the strobing lights and colors had grown dim. “Found his clothes,” Steve said. He removed the bright orange prison garments from where they had been stuffed in a machine’s payout tray.
“Do you think he can turn invisible?” Trancey asked. She fidgeted at the smiling buzz saw on her shirt. “We’ve never seen anyone from his world. Oh! What if he can change shape!?”
“Clance wouldn’t put someone like that in here–just keep looking,” Steve said. He moved out of the aisle and to the center of the room. The statue of the woman stood over the still pool fountain: her likeness was carved into reliefs and painted up the side of the walls. She was always smiling with either money, dice, or drinks in her hand. Another person was depicted on the murals and some rare statues; he was bound in some manner of wrapping with a large dent in his forehead. The crowned woman was always prominent with the other in the background. Steve looked up to the ceiling, where glass windows curved over the casino floor.
“Do you think he got out through there?” Steve asked. Trancey frowned.
“He has to be here; else the power would be on.”
Steve rubbed at the bags beneath his eyes. “I’ll get Clance. He can find people even if he can’t see ‘em.”
With a splash Mackaba emerged from the fountain’s pool: naked, save for a bright orange thong.
“So long, you slackers!” he called out, leaping into a pillar of odd water that surged straight up from the pool. He poised his arms and legs and thrust them down, sending him rocketing up the rising stream.
“What in the flying holy–“ Steve muttered. The water pillar tilted toward one of the windows, catching the flashing lights as the power to the various machines in the room returned. Mackaba repeated the strokes: drawing his limbs in and away and propelling himself higher. Steve lumbered up to the pool, raising his leg and crashing it down into the water. He waded in and reached for the pillar of liquid: it separated from the pool, leaving him to flop down belly-first.
Mackaba swam up the trail of odd water to where it was now meeting one of the windows. Trancey squealed as more of it splattered down across the floor and soaked her buzz saw shirt and blue hair. There was a latch on the window and Mackaba paddled up to it, lifting it from its catch. The glass swung outward and the water surged out; Mackaba was carried out with it.
“Yeah! Suck my wake!” Mackaba cried. He rose his head above the water’s surface and let the flow take him down at a gradual angle. It carried him away from the building, past the middle cars of the tall Ferris Wheel.
“Alright; keep it straight; keep the water going,” Mackaba told himself. The waterway extended past tall neon signs flashing in sequence and dazzling his vision. “Don’t get yourself electrocuted,” he added. He swerved along with the current, edging past the bright colors and shapes.
When he cleared the last of them he drifted the rest of the way to the ground. The water gathered in a small pool and he floated inside of it, blinking at the clouds below him. He rubbed his eyes. He tested the glass surface with one of his toes, then stood upon the plain. Waving his hand, he dismissed the water; it lost its shape and spread out in every direction with a crash. He stood there in his thong, staring out as the vast expanse of stars and the desolate horizon.
“Well shoot, what now?”
The voice chimed in the cafeteria where King and Sain sat. “Elder, the influence has reached a distance of about one thousand and four hundred miles.”
Elder Sain was sucking on a small nozzle that jutted up from inside his armor’s neckline. He released it and it retracted. “How many batteries has that filled, then?” he asked.
“Batteries one, two, and three are full,” Clance said. “The magic is still pouring in from the outer radius almost as fast as I can transfer it.”
King looked up from an untouched platter of cold food. “That’s almost the entire country,” he said. “You can’t do this; you can’t rob our whole nation of our power!”
“I don’t know where your nations’ boundaries lie,” Elder Sain told him.
“I guess it doesn’t matter where they are,” King said. “There are people that could be dying because they can’t get to a hospital. They could be trapped in those burning forests because no one can get here to put out the fire! Don’t you care about all the people you’re hurting!?”
“I have a job to do,” Elder Sain admitted. “Your people will learn to adapt just like the other planets’ have.” He tipped his head back. “Clance, how is Slaberdashia doing?” He paused, but no reply came. “Clance?”
“Sorry! Yes, I’m here. I just noticed the power was going out in the casino. It’s back on now.”
“Train your new friend later;” Elder told him, “I need you focused on this.”
“Slaberdashia says she’s fine,” Clance relayed. “I see something moving inside the avatar’s range, though. It’s a ground vehicle. Non-magical. I think it’s headed in your direction.”
Elder Sain chuckled inside his dark visor. “Wonder what they’re doing. Ah well–cut their power and keep on the lookout for–“
He noticed that King’s eyes had widened.
Elder Sain stuck his tongue in his cheek. “Wait. Don’t disable them yet. Have Slaberdashia meet them. King here knows something.”
“It’s just a business meeting!” King spat out. “I had it arranged before this all happened! Just let them go, please!”
Elder Sain hooked his arms through the large spokes that held the cog to his back. He tilted back in his seat.
“Why are you doing this?” King went on. “We can work out something–make a deal. What am I even here for if you don’t want to talk?”
Elder Sain brought one arm out of the wheel and slapped it to the table. “Because I do need you for something. And the only instruction I will give you is this: If you see a flat surface suddenly appear, like this”–he slid his glove around on the table–“you run away from it. It will hang in the air and intersect you along with the building. It is an immaterial plane. However: if you are caught in it for too long you will die.”
A blue mist hit Mean in the face. She sputtered and gagged, whipping backwards. When she had retreated a fair distance she lowered herself back down to the ground. Taking in deep breaths she squinted through watering eyes: A wall of blue fog stood in front of her. It was spreading out, curving around the factory in a wide arc. The smokestacks were emitting enough of the gas to blot out the dark sky. From that direction came the hovering raft. The man with glowing skin stood atop it as it neared.
“Ahoy,” called the man. “I am Pladomir.”
Mean coughed, staring up at the boat as it came to a halt. Two other people were in the raft with him, both wearing containment suits with helmets shaped like domes. Their bright facial features peered out at her through the gas trapped inside.
“Great,” Mean said, her voice cracking. “You guys here to rescue me?”
“In a sense,” Pladomir said. “You have entered my angle. As a result I must now care for your basic needs.”
“Well I need to get out of here,” Mean told him. She tugged her shirt straight.
“I can’t do that,” Pladomir said. “You must stay here with me and do as I say.” He curved his lip up and sniffed.
“No,” Mean said. She looked behind her. “Where’d that cinnamon roll go?”
“No?” Pladomir repeated. “This isn’t something you can refuse.” The man the containment suit shook his head. Mean walked over to where her roll had fallen to the ground.
“As you can see you are trapped,” Pladomir went on. “You will follow me to the factory. I will allow you to rest, then I will brief you the duties you must perform.” Mean picked up the roll.
“I’m not going to be your slave or whatever,” she said. “I took care of that Beebee person when she tried to catch me; you guys just need to tell me how to get out of here.”
Pladomir stiffened. The orange lines marking his brows flared and his teal face darkened.
“You did not harm Beebee!” he said. “You could not be that monstrous!”
“Oh I’m the bad one!?” Mean shouted back. “You’re all kidnapping people! Hey, you guys in the suits: did he kidnap you?”
“Don’t talk to her; get me the radio,” Pladomir said. The others obeyed him, ducking into the raft to look. Mean groaned, skipped backward, and took off.
She glided across the glassy plain, approaching the blue mist that now enclosed the whole factory area. None of the other buildings could be seen though the haze, and the sun overhead had been reduced to a reddish blur. Mean touched down when she felt her nose itch, sneezing and backing up.
“Alright, time to try something new,” she declared. She spread her arms out and stared at the blue mist. A spot in front of her dipped inward, with tiny wisps of smoke curling at the edges.
She smiled and the hem of her shirt flapped against her. A breeze tossed her brown hair forward. The spot in the haze widened as fresh air penetrated the wall, forming a small tunnel. The noise of the raft’s engine droned behind her.
“You will come here at once,” Pladomir called. A large radio was clutched in his glowing hand, with a long antenna jutting out of the top. His raft puttered behind her, rocking a bit as it slowed.
Mean braced her legs and the wind struck her back. The air tunnel burst out the other side of the wall.
“Whoa, whoa!” Mean cried as she was blasted forward off her feet. She twirled in midair and held the hair from her eyes; Pladomir’s boat was rushing through the tunnel with her.
“What in blazes!?” Pladomir shouted. His raft pitched backward and one of the suited minions tumbled out. The other one grasped her seat while Pladomir hugged the steering wheel. The entire thing swirled sideways and flew into Mean: catching her with the inflated hull. She clung on as the wind roared in her ears and took them all through the passage. She opened her eyes and saw they were through; the misty wall closing up again after them. Their momentum carried onward until the boat flipped over, spilling out Pladomir and his slave. Mean released and righted herself, her shoe skidding on metal as she touched down.
“You reckless miscreant,” Pladomir groaned. He rolled himself over and touched the ground. It was cold. The ground here was covered in staggered sheets of shining tin. The sun was back, and it cast a red gleam across the field of metal.
Pladomir’s face lightened to a pale hue.
Quick First Draft Notes:
“Vornis reunites with Tyle Dhaston” – I wasn’t going to ever have Tyle in the story again but his chemistry with Vornis is just too good. I think it’s good, anyway. At least they’re not trying to kill each other this time.
“The captain and the crew of the Nameless” – This part probably isn’t necessary. Do you REALLY need to see Cougo act like a jerk to more people?
“Dark, Darrow, Jelk, and Tenny run” – This is just a few lines that describe people running somewhere! This is also the reason why I was getting impatient with One Piece the other week. At least mine doesn’t go on for TWELVE PAGES. >:(
“Mackaba pops out of the fountain wearing a thong” – I have no idea what sort of undergarments prisons use, but I’m betting they use a bright orange thong. Is it time to give my browser search history another embarrassing subject? I think so! 😉
“King and Elder Sain” – I’m kind of abrupt here, and I’m not sure if this is the proper place for some of this info to be dropped, but hey––that’s what first drafts are for! You can quote me on that in twenty years.
“Mean and Pladomir” – At first I had no idea how Mean was going to escape through the gas. The boring way would be “Just hold your breath and fly through.” Then it hit me––if she can move objects with her power why can’t she learn to move air itself? Gravity does affect gasses. Except the gasses creating the dome that’s trapping her, apparently. I’ll have to work on that.