Writing Your Goodbyes To A Colleague

This post is approximately 600 words.

In most of the jobs I’ve had, when someone leaves, we pass around a card to sign. Sometimes we chip in for a gift. Writing the perfect goodbye without getting sappy isn’t easy. At least, not for me.

DragonbardWhen I learned my manager was leaving, the wheels in my head started turning. We share a love of gaming, and it occurred to me that a custom mini from Hero Forge would be the perfect gift (I love their website and have designed figures based on my characters: Tildy and the Witch – and no, I’m not a spokesperson). My colleagues agreed and we all chipped in.

Unfortunately, he would be leaving before the figure arrived, and I didn’t want to give him an empty card. But as I stared at the rendering I’d created, my character began to breathe. With a little effort, I could bring him fully to life, borrowing some characteristics of my manager along the way. Being a fantasy writer, I easily whipped up 350 words in 30 minutes. Now I had something – and something special – to place into the envelope.


The Short Tale of Grashlor

Nine hundred ninety-nine years ago, a greyblight soulcaster stormed Dragonback’s shores, seeking vengeance on the firedrake wizard, Grashlor. During the previous Wintersfall, the dragon had killed the man’s thieving sister whilst defending his enchanted hoard. By the governance of Man and Dragon, the death was just, though laws matter little when viewed through the eyes of grief.

Knowing he could not slay the dragon, the soulcaster sought a greater revenge, imprisoning Grashlor within the shape of a man. If the great beast could not suffer death’s touch, then he would feel the torment of human sorrow, lamenting the loss of his true form for a thousand years.

Long has Grashlor walked these lands of Men, talking with their face and toiling with their hands, ever-fearing the discovery that he is not one of their own. Despite this, a fondness of their culture has flourished within him, as he discovered a love for the bard’s songs, dice games of chance, and thrilling tales of dungeon crawls by adventurers (in which they would all be mercilessly destroyed after considerable agony).

While his powers diminished within that human shell, still could Grashlor weave wondrous tales by lute or written word, crafting illusory life before the simple eyes of Men. As such, they named him the ‘magical minstrel’, though as usual, human words were too on-the-nose and too inadequate. He sought a better name, but since the Dragonroar language had faded in his mind, he condescended to use their words, naming himself the ‘dragonbard wizard’.

For nine hundred ninety-nine years, he has traveled the lands of Men, seeking to regain his true form, becoming despondent in his failure. But a Dragon’s essence, oh my friends, that cannot be forever confined within mortal bonds. The noble beast within strains against the human flesh of its prison, yearning once again to fly amongst the sentinel pines of his home. More beast he appears than human now, and his Dragon mind has reawakened. The appointed time of his return is not today, but it is soon.


Aside from being a fun bit of writing, this meets one of my writing rules, namely, work writing into everything you can. I find it helps keep me sharp, as well as being entertaining.

In this case, it also made a unique and memorable parting gift.

–Michael

PS: if The Lost Royals is ever published, this little tale is canon. It borrows aspects from my greater story.

Enjoy what you just read? Leave a comment or like the post and we’ll ensure that you see more like this from Michael!

© Michael Wallevand, August 2017

Writing Exercise: Discovering Chris Cornell

This post is approximately 500 words. Occasionally, I write about artists who inspire me. I should probably do that more.

chris-cornell-3Today is a day much like one twenty-five years ago. I’m in blue jeans and flannel, and outside it feels like Autumn is being carried away by the harbinger winds of Winter. I’m listening to Soundgarden’s magnificent Badmotorfinger, though unlike today, in 1992 it was my first play-through, I was sitting in my freshman dorm room, and Chris Cornell was still alive.

I was fortunate to have a roommate who brought a large CD collection to college, and I recall pawing through discs to satisfy my ravenous appetite for music. I discovered three albums that I distinctly remember to this day: Steve Miller Band’s Greatest Hits (74-78), Metallica’s Master of Puppets, and Badmotorfinger.

 

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Writing Exercise #7: Child of the Caldera

This post is approximately 950 words.

volcano-caldera-1

Writing isn’t just about the final piece, the story you want readers to consume. It’s also about the writer herself. Or himself, in my case. If I’m bored out of my gourd, the process will be a tremendous slog, and I’ll probably never finish. But if the idea feels fresh or unusual – or requires me to do interesting research – it can be as effortless as breathing.

In this post, beyond the typical short piece of fiction I just write until the energy fades, I thought I’d list some of my motivations for exercises like this. Especially since the resulting stories are unrelated to my current manuscript. And at the end of the post, I’ve written out some ideas on the piece. It’s an evaluation of sorts, to help me determine whether I breathe additional life into the idea.

The writing exercises…

  1. Allow me to practice my craft
  2. Give me a break from the manuscript
  3. Expand an intriguing concept to see if it can stand on its own
  4. Capture an idea before it disappears forever
  5. Entertain me

Let’s see if the following piece does those things.


Child of the Caldera

September 9, 2017 – Jakarta, Indonesia

“Three weeks have passed since Mt. Meracellus exploded, ravaging the island of Ruhlu Benda and causing havoc across the region. A plume estimated to be thirty-five kilometers high has dominated the skies of Southeast Asia and deposited ash nearly a thousand miles away. Tsunamis have killed thousands of people in Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines, with reports of damage coming from India, China, Korea, and Japan. Stories from as far away as Australia and Hawaii tell of black waves of dead sea life hitting their shores, the poisoned remnants of the volcano’s death.

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Writing Exercise #6: A Working Of Color

This post is approximately 200 words – short n sweet, like the mystery fruit described below.

splash-of-colors-wallpaper-1.jpgWisps of cloud diluted the perfect blue of the morning sky, reducing its rich color to a softer hue. Young leaves, bright with verdant life, glowed in the light of the rising sun. Dancing green lights they seemed, as a warm breeze awoke them from slumber. Beyond the sentinel mountain that overshadowed this valley, the sun brought the promise of a perfect day, its yellow rays coaxing vivid summer colors from all things that fell beneath its gaze.

A tentative hand reached into the branches of a tree and plucked free a large red fruit, its rind as rich and dark as blood. Not an apple was this, he knew. It was too early in the season. The fruit’s sudden appearance had surprised him, considering this was a tree long thought barren. Compulsion, not conscious thought, brought the fruit to his lips, where the sharp white peaks of his teeth pierced the rind. The fruit nearly burst from the wound, and dark purple juices ran down the man’s chin as he chewed.

Writing Exercise # 5: Flare

This post is approximately 800 words.

This is just me, writing as far as I can after starting with nothing. No ideas, save for what popped into my head right before I sat down. No plan. The only goal is to write until the baloney runs out.

*     *     *     *     *

Rosalyn Flaherty’s paternal grandparents were both Irish. As in, straight from Ireland. They’d immigrated to America after World War II to start a better life for their children. Rosalyn’s father Peter was the their fourth child, but the first American-born. He always joked about being raised in a world of green. Rosalyn suspected this wasn’t an exaggeration.

Her grandparents never let her forget her heritage, and their tutelage ranged from the history of some obscure traditional dish at supper to celebrating some forgotten holiday, the names of which usually sounded like they were clearing their throats as they taught her the proper pronunciation.

Rosalyn hated it. She hated the history. She hated the culture. She hated her ancestry. If she’d put her teenage brain to it, she’d have realized it all stemmed from her own self image. At the heart of it, she hated her milky skin and the explosion of red curls atop her head, to which she credited her fiery temper, not her contrary nature. She took it all out on everything Irish. Continue reading

Tighten Up Your Writing (or not?) #4

This post is approximately 400 words.

calvin-resolutionsIt’s the first day of a new year, which generally means resolutions and other pledges of life changes, blabbity-blah. I usually don’t hold to such traditions, uh, mostly because I forget my New Year’s promises before January ends. But as an idea formed in my head this morning, it occurred to me I might be writing such a post.

Yes and no. This post does contradict other guidance I’ve given about reducing words during a rewrite. But as with most other advice in life, just because you CAN do something, it doesn’t mean you SHOULD. Forsaking context or intent for the sake of brevity is an excellent way to deliver a quick read that readers misunderstand. That’s why I’m going to show the other side of word reduction. Continue reading

Tighten Up Your Writing #3

This post is approximately 400 words. There’d be 25% more, if I hadn’t…tightened up my writing. Yeah, that’s right: bad jokes and math on this writing blog.

Many of the writing questions I’m asked are in the category of “Where do ideas come from?” which usually elicits a response about “mommy and daddy ideas that love each other very much.”

But I also get quite a few inquiries about mechanics, which to this grammar nerd, is pretty cool. We can all put words on paper in a coherent order, but it’s challenging to do it crisply and succinctly. Especially the first time.  I rarely deliver a sentence that completely satisfies me after the first writing.

kneading

It’s like making dough: you can put the ingredients together, but if you don’t massage that lump, it’s not going to taste right. As someone who’s reviewed thousands of pages, I know that many people are satisfied with the lumpy dough of first drafts. I get it. There’s that impatience factor. But just as people are discriminating about pizza joints, so they are about books. They’ll stop coming for sub-par sustenance.

Not stopping at one draft is the key. The following examples demonstrate various ways to change up your thinking as you work through the editing process. Compare my lumpy messes to the dough I’m putting in the oven (he said, reconsidering his analogy). Continue reading