200 Words At A Time, Part One: Nails

I’m a big fan of Chuck Wendig’s blog, Terrible Minds, and the in-your-face writing advice he dispenses.  So how could I resist his 200 Words at a Time challenge?  The idea: each Friday over the next 5 Fridays, participants write 200 words of a 1000 word story.  But each section must continue someone else’s story, not the author’s own. Here are my first 200 words!  To whomever picks this up–hope you have fun with it!  

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Lee’s seen a lot of terrible things in her day, but this is the worst.  She can’t exactly put a finger on why it’s the worst; she’s seen more gory, more brutal, more degrading.  But this one makes her knees weak and her gorge rise and the skin on her face crawl.  This one just about sends her vomiting in a corner like the rookie who just dashed outside. 

It’s the nails.  Long nails, their round, waffle-patterned heads out of balance with the length of their bodies.  A number of them are drowning in the pool of spilled blood like teeth knocked loose in a fight.  More tumble out of upended boxes near the corpse. And fifty-six of them are buried in the corpse itself.  Some deeper than others. Some are reduced to dark circles on his skin, weird birthmarks; others turn him into the world’s biggest voodoo doll.  No part of him has been spared.  Lee shudders.  There are signs of struggle, but mostly in the immediate area around the body.  Like someone sat on him and just started hammering.  Patiently, carefully, nail after nail. 

“Officer.”

Lee’s almost glad to see that Charlie’s as pale as she is.

 

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All the projects in their drawers

It’s been… nearly three years since I finished the first draft of The Red Box.  That’s a little horrifying to me.  I’d meant to have a revised version by the end of 2011, but, well.  We all see how well that went!  That said.  I’ve been having the itch again to pick it up.

It’s funny to note how few of my old in-progress novel ideas are still appealing to me.  I’ve changed a lot; my opinions on various issues and what I think are storytelling priorities have changed a lot.  I still adore the world of King of Salem, for instance, but I wonder if the story I started to tell would still be the story I’d tell about that world.  I still love the idea of the male witch, but I also wonder about how changing the gender of the persecuted magic user changes how that person is regarded and what reactions people have towards them.  Is it skirting the issue to make a witch male and not deal with the sexism behind the persecution of “witches” in our history?  There were few female characters in that story; only one with agency.  What, for instance, would change if the Jack character–the witch hunter–were female? What would change if Tony–a very influential royal–were female. 

One reason I still want to return to the Red Box is that I feel like it tackles, even if not as deeply as I would now, issues that I want my fiction to keep in mind.  There are a lot of women in that story who make a difference, even if the lead is still male; Frankie is super important and she doesn’t get shelved or victimized or anything like that.  The whole world is mixed race, so the “racism” is more classism, but the faces in that world are far more diverse than the blond-and-blue-eyes of Jack or red-headed, clearly caucasian Tony. 

My actual, main worry with Red Box is that the plot still makes any sense, so I’ll have to reread.  And I might have to rewrite from the beginning.  But even if I do, I think it would be worth it. 

I’ve shied away from revising for so long. I hope that I can do it.

(On the other hand, writing The Motley Star could still be so fun… augh. Discipline!  What is that?!)