By the water they live
From the darkness they hide
From the endless forests,
To the misty mountains
With bottomless caves
And endless deeps
By the water they live
From the darkness they hide
From the endless forests,
To the misty mountains
With bottomless caves
And endless deeps
Sometimes we die, we do that quite often in fact. Some people believe life and death is just a cycle, that death isn’t really the end, but I’m getting ahead of myself:
Let me introduce you to the Melburns. They are a wealthy family, not only in money but in children as well. They have seventeen of them – eight Mrs Melburn doesn’t even know about. The thing about Mr Melburn is that he isn’t a good person, not in most circles, but at least he takes care of his family. He feeds them, clothes them, and that’s about it. There’s only one he pays any attention to and that’s his eldest daughter.
She died, recently, at the tender age of twelve of mysterious reasons. She was found with a mouth full of sweets and several of them were lodged in her throat. Mr Melburn always said gluttony is a problem, I guess she disagreed. As you can see, being wealthy doesn’t protect you from death, not entirely anyway. Life cannot be bought or exchanged, but that didn’t stop Mr Melburn from trying.
He contacted the local Necromancer – every small and big town has one. Necromancy is the cure against dying, according to their words, and they have many theories on how to bring back the dead; the most common one involves an exchange. The Melburns weren’t willing to give up one of their own children so they went and looked for another. A local eleven year old boy disappeared soon after. The whole incident was hushed up later when the right amount of money appeared in the right people’s pockets. It was a freak accident how the child gut himself before walking across the country and breaking into a total stranger’s basement.
I’m not saying necromancy is complete bogus, but it’s a lost art. I find it ironic how the people who are afraid to die are the most avid practitioners these days. With the Melburn’s left with no other option they decided to buy her a fancy new home to sleep her eternal rest in. It’s common in most places to have a fancy little crypt for their loved ones; to tell the world that somebody important was buried here. You better pay attention to her. If the Melburns are lucky, their dear daughter will be happy with her new accommodation and stay quiet for all eternity.
Now, let me turn your attention to the Shillies. They are not a wealthy family. Indeed, they’re so poor that the father often doesn’t eat, like, at all. He’s the definition of a saint. He also died recently and his death was not a mystery. Mrs Shillies would like nothing more than to give him a nice home to rest in, but they cannot afford to, and most likely, Mr Shillie won’t expect one either. He’ll sleep quietly in whatever grave they end up burying him in.
But, the funny thing about dying is that it’s a lot like living. People change. If Mr Shillie had any unfulfilled hopes and dreams that we didn’t know about, he might wake up and try and fulfill them. His chances are pretty good too without those pesky responsibilities of being alive or morals that comes with it. In fact, there’s a saying that most kings never lived. But one thing’s for sure, Mr Shillies won’t be able to rest easy knowing his family will most likely die of starvation without him. The city knows this, that’s why he’s going into the pit.
The pit is not just a hole in the ground, it’s deeper than anyone knows. Some say it’s bottomless, while some scholars claim it’s exactly 3000 kms deep. Nobody is sure how they came to this conclusion, most people don’t understand what those weird scientists are saying, anyway. But it doesn’t really matter in the end, because anything that is thrown in doesn’t come up!
© Christopher Stamfors
She wants to keep them.
He wants them away.
The Enemy wants to capture them
And the father wants them saved.
The navy can’t do anything because the enemy is there.
She doesn’t abide by anyone and is the lord of the land.
The father is lord over other lands and doesn’t hold any sway.
And He is lord of nothing and must watch and wait
for things to come his way.
The moon was full and the wind was wild as the tree-tops rustled.
The streetlights gave a faint glow from the dark leaves that encompassed them.
Black blotches of their shadows danced on the pavement,
until they were still – like a painting on the ground.
There’s magic during nights like these – it’s the reason why the wind blows so hard.
Everything that isn’t supposed to be stirs to life
All at once.
A boy walked aimlessly down a hall. Voices of the adults disappeared in the endless corridors of the large house, becoming distant as he went. The old man, who lived in the house, didn’t care to lighten all of it and he probably didn’t use more than a third. The boy glanced from side to side, looking at strange paintings on the walls and flowers that had died and withered a long time ago. And the deeper he went, the darker and muskier the smells became. He’d never been to his grandfather’s house before, he barely knew he had one. His parents never talked about him and they had never told him why. But one day, the old man had a heart attack and suddenly the old man was whisked into existence… But it was all the same to him, his grandfather was very old and talked strangely. Thankfully, his grandfather allowed him to explore the house, so the old man wasn’t all bad. As he came to the end of the corridor, he followed a set of stairs, to the third floor, where there was a locked door. He peeked inside the keyhole but it was too dark to see anything. This made him all the more curious and he hurried down the stairs to the kitchen where the adults were. He stopped half way and tightened his collar and then headed inside. They were all drinking tea and all the excitement from before drained as he entered. There was his mother who had pink hair and a small frame compared to his father, who was tall but skinny. They sat straight with tired looks that brightened a bit when he entered. To his left there was his grandfather who slumped in his chair. He was clean shaven, though the hair on his head grew past his shoulders he was completely bald on top. The boy felt his eyes on him. “What is it, my boy?” The old man said. “Found something?”
“There’s a door to the attic that’s locked. May I look inside?”
“Sure, sure,” he said and dug into his pocket but hesitated. “That is, if it’s okay by your father.”
The boy looked at his father who nodded slowly. His mouth was a thin line and he rarely smiled so it was hard to tell what he was thinking. “You may,” he said.
“Thank you, father,” the boy said and bowed lightly. He received the key and headed out as quickly as he could. It was suffocating when adults were together… He loosened the collar again and headed upstairs. The door creaked open and the light from the hallway lighted the room a little. There were boxes and boxes everywhere, covered in drapes. He looked around and noticed a small source of light behind some velvet sheets and he pulled it down. Dust spurt around and tickled his nose, but there was now light and he could look clearly around the attic. It was filled with stuff and he stared at it all, excitedly. There could be anything buried in here, he thought, and began searching. Most of the things he found were regular stuff, mostly clothes, tools, and tableware. But sometimes he found something strange which he wasn’t sure what they were for, and he put them aside and dug for more. He found a pocket watch, nothing special, then he found a gold encrusted pen. Now that’s more like it! After a while, he couldn’t stand the itchiness in his nose as he stirred the dust around and he decided to take his treasure downstairs. The adults were outside when he found them, smoking. He hated smoke because it made his eyes water but he approached them and poured the contents of his bag over a table. “What have you got there, boy?” the old man said with a smile.
“Fredric!” His mother snapped.
Stunned, he found his collar was loose and he quickly tightened it. “That’s better,” she said and leaned back and drank her tea.
The old man dug into the pile and was very happy to see these old things that had once been very useful but had no use anymore, either because they had invented something better or it had gone out of fashion. The old man stopped for a moment when he got to the pen. “It’s gold, isn’t it?” said Fredric.
The old man examined it. “It’s gold alright, but I can’t remember where it came from.”
“Do you remember everything you owned, father?”
The old man looked askance at his son. “I suppose not,” he said and put the pen back in the pile.
“Can I keep it?” Fredric asked.
The old man smiled. “Sure, why not? Take the watch too, get some use out of it.”
“Thanks grandpa,” he said with a smile and sat in the corner and waited as the adults talked. They didn’t stay for long and when they got home, Fredric went to the kitchen and polished the pen until it shone. “Can I bring it to school?” He asked his mother.
“It’s not proper to boast,” she said.
“Yes, mother,” he said and pocketed it and headed upstairs. “Goodnight, mom. Goodnight dad,” he said and stood by the door to his room. Before entering, he pinched a needle that was stuck at the door frame and a thud came from inside. A rope hung in front of him with a large sandbag attached to it on the floor. He propped the trap back into place and closed the door. He skipped over several wires that stretched across the floor, and before he undressed and went to bed, he tapped the wooden frame of the bed three times and then crawled under the blanket, sleeping soundly soon after.
He went to school the next day. His clothes oppressed him, it was hard to move and the collar pressed up against his chin. His clothes were very expensive too, black and sophisticated, not at all like a schoolboy of 12, but that of a grown gentleman. It was how his parents wanted him to be, to be as far above the rest as he could be. His father even took away all his children’s stories when he turned 10, even his favourite one about the gnomes and humans who lived side by side. He remembered it clearly: the gnomes made magical things to aid the humans, but over time, the gnomes grew weary of being treated like slaves and they took back their magic from the humans and disappeared, bringing in an age of darkness until humanity brought themselves back with their own kind of magic of cogs and machinery. There are other tales about the gnomes but his father was insistent that he only read this particular one, or other’s like it. Fredric didn’t rightly know why.
On his way to school, he took the long way around, avoiding the houses of his classmates. He’d memorised them all and he knew which route they took. He walked between small dilapidated houses, and the tiny roads between them, where the grass had grown through the pavement, roads nobody cared about. For some reason he liked those roads, they seemed almost like lost ruins, but most of all, he liked it because he was alone. He’d tried to make friends once. His father never approved any of them and only belittled them because they were not good enough for his son. People stopped coming then, and after a while, Fredric stopped trying. Finally, he came out on the big road. He walked behind the school at the football yard which was empty so early in the day. There was only one or two who saw him (…)
© Christopher Stamfors
Continue reading the story over Here!
When I was but a toddler, I remember stumbling down a dark hall. I don’t recall how I had escaped from my caregiver, or what drove me to explore, but I had learned how to walk and I was determined to see what was at the other end. Come to think of it, I’m not even sure if it’s my memory or if the caregiver told me this story later in life… In either case, this is how I first met my father and it would be the closest I’d ever see him smile.
We lived in a large house; more rooms than anyone would ever need, but it was ancient, and it was ours. Our family had lived within those walls since forever, and would continue to do so, forever. I remember how I leaned against the wall to keep my legs steady. It was a revelation to me as it enabled me to walk longer than I had previous. But as I marvelled at the speed I was moving, something obstructed my path. A door opened a few feet in front of me and a stranger came out. He had huge frown plastered on his face; his eyes were shadowed and deep; his chin was clean shaven and tidy. He didn’t notice me right away and looked around the hallway before he closed the door behind him. Our eyes met and his mouth quirked. Both of us just stared until someone came rushing down the hall towards us. His mouth turned into a frown again and a young lady picked me up. I don’t recall her name or what she looked like, but she bowed apologetically and hurried down the hall with me on her shoulder, hissing something at me. My father spun around and I saw him disappear around the corner – and thus he was out of my memory, for another couple of years.
I didn’t know what a parent was. They said I had a father, but the word had no meaning to me, for all I ever felt was that he was a stranger, at least until I learned what a father and son was supposed to be like and I wanted that relationship too. Mother had died on my birth and I think father blamed me for her death, though, he never said so outright. Even so, a child loves their parents, no matter what. An innate instinct in all animals, for a child cannot survive without their parents, at least, that is how I saw things. How else can I explain the yearning I felt for a stranger’s love?
My first attempt was to seek his approval by drawing a picture that I remember being very proud of. I didn’t hesitate to run straight to my father’s study to show it to him. The office was empty when I came and it took a fair amount of willpower to enter it. He had never expressly told me I was forbidden to go inside, in fact, he hadn’t expressly told me anything. The office was tidy and there were shelves with books from wall to wall. There were some papers scattered around. I placed my drawing on top of the papers and hurried out of there as fast as I could. I waited several days for a response. It never came.
However, I wasn’t deterred. The drawing wasn’t good enough, I told myself, and I endeavoured to make another. My grandmother, (who was also was my tutor,) encouraged me to show my next drawing and I went back. But this time, the door was locked. I wondered if I should wait for him, but the mere thought of standing face to face with my father made me queasy and I instead slid the drawing under the door and disappeared. I did this a couple of times before I gave up. Maybe he didn’t like drawings? He certainly didn’t like mine…
My grandmother was my only light, in those days. She gave me everything that a parent should. She was attentive to my needs and she gave me her unconditional love. Besides both being my parent and tutor, she would often tell me stories, and there was one particular story that would change me for years to come: I remember it being a cold night. The house was quiet and everyone was huddling wherever there was a fireplace. Me and grandmother sat alone in the parlour, wrapped in blankets as the last sparks from the fire settled into ember. She had been talking for a while, but I hadn’t been listening. The disappointment was still fresh in my mind. Eventually, she noticed my mind’s absence and wondered what was wrong. I asked her. “Why does father not love me?”
Even then I saw that she wanted nothing more then to tell me he did, but she couldn’t, because it wasn’t true. Instead, she glanced up on the wall, where an old sword hung above the fireplace. She lifted me up on her knee. “You know who this belonged to?” She said and pointed at the blade.
Strangely, I hadn’t noticed it before, being a mere six or seven years old I was not tall enough to see it unless pointed out to me. I shook my head. She told me that it once belonged to a great man; an ancestor to our family that lived hundreds of years ago. His name was Hall and he lived in a time when a race called Goblins pestered the land. “Ugly little creatures,” she said. “They enjoy making life difficult for people, but Hall was a brave soul and he would stand up to their tyranny. He and two loyal servants went after the Goblins that lived in the dark forest to the west. For two days they were gone and only Hall came back alive. He would not speak of what had happened in the woods, but he didn’t have to, for the Goblins didn’t bother the people anymore and they haven’t ever since. Hall became a hero and they say that as long as a Wholehart lives on this land, the Goblins would not dare to leave their forest to bother people again.”
I imagined my eyes gleamed then. I felt pride of my ancestor and I said. “Do you think father would be proud of me if I became as brave as Hall?”
Grandmother smiled softly. “I’m sure he would.”
Nothing else was on my mind, then. I wanted to be brave and strong, like Hall, and I headed to the nearby grove to pick out a stick that was about my size. I swung it wildly, like a blade, and without direction. I would see clearly, in my mind, the Goblins fall before me, until they fled back into their forest. I was a master. I knew I wasn’t really, but I become stronger, and could swing it for longer, and hit it harder each time. It was only a matter of time before I would make my father proud, I told myself. But swinging a stick around wasn’t enough, I needed to grab my father’s attention, so I made sure to practise as closely to my father’s office window as I could. If he ever looked out, he would see me for I made sure he was there when I trained. But the window never opened, nor did I see any shadow looming that would indicate that he was there, watching. After almost a month, I grew tired of swinging the stick around and I began to feel stupid doing so. I didn’t see myself as a master anymore, and all I saw was a child playing. I needed the real thing, to prove that I was worthy. That evening, when I was sure everyone was busy preparing for supper, I snuck inside to the parlour where the blade hung. I stared at it. It was so shiny and I stood in awe, knowing who it had belonged to.
To climb the fireplace was easy, it was another matter to lift it off the frame. I made careful not to touch the sword’s edge, but as I fiddled with it, a maid saw me and pulled me down to the floor. She scolded me, telling me I could’ve got hurt. But I didn’t care what she said. She saw my indifference and dragged me off towards grandmother, the only one, beside my father, I really cared about. The maid smiled as she saw the terror in my eyes as she dragged me away. Grandmother was busy talking to another maid and when she learned what had happened, she didn’t shout, she didn’t have to, I already felt ashamed. With just one look she could make me regret anything because I didn’t want to disappoint her. I promised not to do it again and when I went to bed, that night, I laid awake, thinking up another scheme to get my father’s attention.
This is but a first taste of a longer short story which you can continue reading for free over HERE
© Christopher Stamfors
A door opened and a man stepped out, squinting at the sun. The day was clear and he let the sun fully engross him. It had been a long winter, he thought as he went out to inspect the field. Much of the snow had melted, but the ground was still hard. It would be another month before he could sow the seed for this year’s harvest. He glanced up at the mountain that was tall in the distance. It was still covered in white but he knew (as sure as spring would come) that they would come knocking on his door.
And so the people tilled their land and sowed their seeds. The harvest was good and the air was mild. The farmer went to bed early, knowing that tomorrow, they would come. And he was right, for later the next evening, a tall man knocked on their door. He wore a black cloak and a sombre expression. The farmer knew they weren’t much for talking and went to business. They exchanged food for silver. The stranger raised a large sack, filled with various animal produce, over his shoulders and was gone. The farmer stood by the doorstep and watched the stranger lumber away, carrying much more than any normal man ought to. He didn’t think of them during the winter, he didn’t like to, because they were not men, they couldn’t be. A cold breeze caressed his forehead. The summer was at an end and it would be another year before they descended the mountain.
In a small, dimly lit room, she was staring at a fire. The flames engulfed the pot that hung over it and she waited for it to settle before she’d pour water into it. She was not used to sitting alone, and her mind drifted away. She was reminded of her husband, sitting next to her, being silly and making the time fly by. The fire settled into a hearth and she poured the ingredients into the boiling water, tasted it, and waited.
She knew nothing of what was happening outside:
The sun had almost set, casting purple twilight over the horizon. Men in dark hoods wandered between the houses, disappearing and reappearing as they became invisible in the shade. There were several of them, dashing ghostly from wall to wall, some standing like a sentry, watching the horizon. On the southern end of the village, one of those Sentry’s kept his eyes peeled, when a figure emerged from the horizon. Snow, that had collected on his cloak, crumbled as he dashed towards the stranger:
The stranger was a weary soul. Each step felt like a ton as his feet were buried knee deep in the snow and he did not notice when two dark hooded men emerged in front of him. They seemed to tower over him as he himself stooped to keep the wind from his eyes. “Are you lost, friend?” One of the Sentries asked in a dark sort of way.
Was he lost or had he found the right place? He wasn’t sure. The only thing he knew was that something drew him, something burning inside him that forced him to go on. The stranger glanced up at them and saw that half their faces were covered by a hood, their left and right eye respectively. When they saw his face, their one eye widened as if transfixed by his appearances. But nothing else revealed what they were thinking as their expressions remained cold and neutral. The stranger touched his face, wondering if there was something wrong with him when he realised he could not picture what he looked like. After a moment, the dark hooded men collected themselves and gently placed their hands on his shoulders, urging him to follow them to a small cabin where he could rest. But the burning did not allow him to rest. Feeling close to his goal, he quickened his step, but the two black figures lurched on him and grabbed him by the shoulders, insisting that he cooperate.
They pinned him down, and his chest burned more brightly, glowing in bright red and orange through his clothes. His weariness melted away and with new found strength, he broke free from their grip and rushed towards the village. The Sentries didn’t hesitate and drew their weapons. Beams of light zoomed through the air, hitting the walls on the houses, harmlessly melting the ice and snow that caked on the walls. They all missed and it seemed like the stranger would get away when he felt a pain through his ankle and he collapsed around the corner of a house. But when they came to collect him, he was gone.
Do you remember the woman from before? She had heard the commotion and she looked out to see what it was about. It was almost night now, only a slither of light still remained in the sky and it took a moment before she realised a stranger sprawled on her doorstep, half covered in snow. She stared at him for a while, conflicted. She wanted to help him, but what if he was dangerous? He squirmed in the snow. Her heart could not bear see him suffer and she opened the door and dragged him inside. Black liquid streaked on the floor from his ankle which she patched with linen as best she could. His clothes were soaked and she undressed him, wrapping him in blankets near the fire. For a moment, everything was still as she gazed down at the stranger on the floor. She noticed how his face was in perfect symmetry; his chin was strong and his hair curly and yellow. Everything about him was perfect and she thought he must be a god. She felt her cheeks flush and she forced herself to look away. Maybe this was a bad idea? He was a stranger and they were sure to come looking for him. What would they do if they found him here? As she contemplated her choices, there was loud knocking on the door that made her wince.
One of the dark hooded men stood on the other side, asking if she’d seen any strangers pass by? The woman glanced at her neighbours houses and saw that they were knocking on all the doors. She realised they had no idea where the stranger had gone and that they did not suspect her. “I haven’t seen anything,” she said and the hooded man nodded, thanking her for her cooperation and went away. Now, you might find it strange that they didn’t search her home? But you must realise, this sort of thing had never happened before. They did not question the villagers loyalty and they certainly did not expect it to be broken by a kind heart and a beautiful face.
When the door closed, she pressed herself against it. Her heart was at her throat and she breathed heavily. She had never lied before, but now that she had, there was no turning back. The stranger did not wake up that night, nor the following morning. The feast, that she had prepared for, came and went, and during all this time, she could think of nothing else but the stranger. But one night, when she was asleep, she heard bustling downstairs. She rushed down and saw the stranger rummaging through her drawers. He was completely naked and in any other situation, she’d look away, but now, she simply stared. His limbs were in perfect symmetry… and his muscles… He was perfection! Except for the bandaid on his left ankle. It took a moment before she became aware that she was staring and she quickly looked away and covered her face with her hand. “I’m sorry!” She shrieked.
He stood there, silently observing her. “Where are my clothes?” He said.
She pointed to a coffin next to the cupboard. When he was dressed, he turned and said. “Thank you.”
Silently, she turned to meet his eyes. It was the first time she’d looked directly into them and somehow she could not draw her gaze away. He observed her too, for a moment, when he suddenly hissed and clenched his teeth, moving his hand towards his chest. “I must go,” he said and turned towards the door.
“Wait!” she said, placing her hand on his, hindering him from turning the doorknob. He glanced down at her hand, noticing she was missing her ring finger. She removed her hand as if burned by his gaze and hid it behind her back. She didn’t know why she did so; she had never felt ashamed about her missing finger, but seeing the perfection that was this man… She wanted to hide it. “I— They are still after you, you know. They’ll catch you if you leave,” she said.
But the stranger just looked at her vacantly and made another effort to leave. “You can’t!” she shrieked and embraced him around the waist. She didn’t know what had come over her. Why was it so hard to let this man go? She didn’t know, but, for whatever reason, she knew that if she let him leave, she’d never see him again and the thought alone made her tremble. The stranger did not resist her at first, but as she refused to let go, and the burning in his chest became stronger, he tried to force her off. Then, it all stopped. All the energy that had gathered within him drained and he collapsed on the floor. She held onto him, still, and he fell into her lap. For a while, he didn’t open his eyes, but when he did, it was as if he saw the world for the first time. His mind was clear and the urgency was gone. He noticed how pleasantly the room smelled of firewood; how the furniture was half-moon shaped to accommodate the rounded walls; how her front teeth peaked behind her lips; and how her soft breasts pressed against him.
They didn’t move from that spot for a very long time. Only at dawn, when the light shone through the windows, did it revive them. She was the first to rise. She held out her hand and led him upstairs to her bedroom. They spent all day in that bed, and only the next morning, did they finally talk: She felt his chest rise and fall and she thought there was nothing in this world that could make her get out of bed. A pang of guilt clenched her hand, scratching the stranger’s skin over his stomach. What would her husband think if he knew? How would she feel in his situation?
“Is something wrong?” the stranger asked.
She glanced up at him and their eyes met. Somehow seeing them made the guilt wash away. He was a god, she was sure of it, only a deity could make somebody feel this good. She sat up and locked her hands together and took a breath. “I have a husband,” she said.
There was no reaction from him, which surprised her. “He… He was buried in an avalanche a month back.”
“I’m sorry,” he said and placed his hand on hers.
She held it and caressed his hand with her thumbs. “Don’t be, he’ll return, eventually.”
His eyes grew wide. “Excuse me?”
“The Maker will get him back to me, when he’s ready.”
Her whole body quivered and she stared down her hands. How would he react to this? Would he leave her, or… would she make her leave her husband? Her cheeks flushed at the thought, both embarrassed and guilty for thinking it. But the stranger’s mind was somewhere else. He was seeing back to a time when he was still searching the world. He’d seen people die. He’d seen people buried or burnet when their bodies won’t carry them anymore. He’d seen people crying over the dead because they knew they would never see them again. The dead do not return, he was certain.
When no answer came, she tried to lead the conversation elsewhere. “A— Are you going to tell me about yourself?”
Broken from his revery, he blinked.
“Where do you come from?” She asked.
“I’m… I’m not sure,” he said, gravely.
“You don’t remember?”
“I…” He tried to recall, but all he could see was him walking, climbing, swimming; sometimes alone, sometimes with a group, but he was always moving, searching. “I don’t know… I have never considered it before…”
She looked at him, quizzically.
“It’s like I have never existed until now,” he said and placed his hand over his heart. He couldn’t feel it and he smiled. “It’s thanks to you,” he said and turned to her. “It must be… I wanna know more about myself, about you and this world.” Her heart skipped as he beamed at her. To make another person this happy…. She’d almost forgotten what it felt like. In her head, she decided that she’d do anything to help this man. “Do you at least remember your name?” she asked.
He shook his head.
She laid her head back on his chest. “Don’t worry. We will find out, together.”
He drew his finger through her black silky hair and thought of nothing when he asked. “What do you call yourself?”
Continue reading HERE
© Christopher Stamfors
*I wrote this a while back but it still holds true. I’m glad that I’m getting closer to understand my own process.
When I write a fantasy story, I start with a concept and go by instinct. Everything unfolds as I put words on paper, but while I work on the first draft, I have to ignore contradictions (that may arise along the way) because I don’t have a clear grasp what the story is about yet. Just plow through it until the draft is finished.
When that’s done, I go back to the beginning, and I mean from the very beginning, a creation story. From there I did what I did before and let the story unfold itself and fill in the blanks of the first draft.
But, often it’s not as simple as that. I’ll find more contradictions that I need correcting and I find that I have to go back again and correct it from the start.
That’s how the process is: I write until something need correcting and I start all over again, polishing it until it all makes sense.
This makes it very difficult to write fantasy as I need to go back to the beginning of time for each story, unless I make several stories from the same universe. I understand why people borrow heavily from Ronald Tolkien when they make their own fantasy story and why people write urban fantasy.
I haven’t tried yet, but it feels like I could finish and polish a story set in the real world in a fraction of the time than if it was set in a fantasy world.
I still hold that Lord of the rings is the greatest fantasy story ever written, at least among those that I have read, and I often wonder why? Why does Tolkien’s story still hold up? It’s far from perfect and you know what will happen a mile away, but strangely, I never considered what would happen next and was just taken on a pleasant ride through the story. I think the longevity of Tolkien’s tale is his superb world building ability. He was a historian and linguist and he knew exactly how to cater to that crowd, he knew what he liked and he liked deep history and that’s what he focused on.
I’m currently reading a fantasy epic “The Wheel of Time” by Robert Jordan. It’s a well written story, much better (at times) than Tolkien. But 200 pages in and the heroes have left their hobble of a village and I find myself disinterested. I am not captivated by the world the author created. I’m not drawn into the mystery, the names and places, and I find myself skimming through a lot of the action scenes. It’s a dull world and everything is explained to me. There’s a mountain over there and something bad happened. There’s monsters in the forest across the lake, bla bla bla. I would be much more intrigued if they were actually at those places when this information is revealed to me, which I think Tolkien does excellently.
There’s one particular scene in the first book of the Lord of the rings when the Hobbits and Gandalf comes across some ancient ruins. They are almost trapped by the ghosts there, and afterwards, Gandalf explains that this was the sight of a great kingdom once and you are instantly hooked! It’s a bit of information that has no consequence, also, because it has no bearings to the plot overall, it’s only purpose is to enrich the world.
Something happened there; a lot is unexplained; the reader wants to know, but the reader doesn’t need to know more. The author won’t reveal anything else and thus this piece of information will linger in the readers mind until they learn what really happened. They would have to read the Silmarillion to do that…
This is a fantasy world done right and is what I aspire to do.