My A-Z Blogging theme is to cover 26 touch-me-not categories of fiction writing. These are frequently the trouble spots which can be useful components of the story if handled properly, but when rushed through, can cause all kinds of trouble. While the genre is fantasy, the tips can apply to anything, from romance to literary fiction.
While exploring the ruins of an old castle, Mordekai and his sister Monique accidentally destroy an old tower only to find themselves in a different place, or time, entirely–with a mysterious princess on their hands who thinks ever noble’s name must begin with an “M,” among other absurd things. Mordekai isn’t about to admit to his real name, so he tells her to call him Sir Kai. Then, suddenly, a giant goat crashes through the wall and carries him off.
Monique opened the door at the end of the hallway to find a gaping hole in the wall, displaying a wide view of the glow of a breathtaking sunset. Noting that she should take a picture before she left, she turned to survey the lone inhabitant: a young woman dressed in a long woolish looking gown and cloak. She smiled.
“You must be Sir Kay’s sister. I’m Princess Mural.”
“Monique.” She held out her hand, but Mural didn’t seem to know what to do with it, so she let it fall to her side. “What became of my brother? Is he okay?”
“Sir Kay is well.”
Probably somewhere exploring. She lifted her sizeable camera and snapped a shot of the sunset, the forest tops piercing the sky like organic skyscrapers. It was too pure, too broad an expanse of virgin forest for anything in modern times. No one’s going to believe I didn’t photoshop this.
Then she turned back to get a picture of the medieval bedchamber. It looked cold and unpleasant, but it’d make a great addition for her portfolio. The colors were muted, but solid, and the castle walls had a freshness that she’d never seen. They look like they might’ve been built yesterday, in comparison to the ruins we were just at, she thought as she snapped a few more photos, including the princess in some of the shots. “So where did you say my brother was?”
“He was carried off by a giant goat sent by my uncle.”
Monique lowered her camera and stared at her. “I’m…sorry?”
“The others will be on their way. My uncle’s army. They can’t fly, but they can batter down most walls.” She swung a bundle over her shoulder and gestured back the way Monique had come. “We should start our journey before they arrive.”
“Yeah, but…you said Mordekai was fine. Being kidnapped by some…some absurd creature like a giant goat is not fine.”
The woman ignored the last part of her sentence. “Mordekai? Is that his name?” A radiant smile spread across her face. “I knew it. Providence would not be so cruel to name him otherwise.” She sighed, a look of pure contentment on her face before she seemed to gather her thoughts. “But come. We can talk on the way.”
“The way to where?”
“All shall be explained in due time.”
“At least tell me how we’re going to get Mordekai back,” Monique said, hurrying after Mural.
She opened her mouth and then shut it.
“He shall have his dangers to suffer, and we shall have ours. Our paths will cross again, in due time.”
What’d this girl do, swallow a book of proverbs? Monique could only hope that the dangers of a fantasy world, or the past, or wherever it was there were, would not be too permanent. If we die, do we get kicked out of here, like some video games? Would we just return to our own time, or…would it be the end?
One thing that doesn’t occur much in fantasy (or any genre other than romance, really) are moments of happiness. Times when nothing really vital happens and we see how the characters think and feel and interact, without the pressure of danger or the breathlessness of time running out.
But in this story, we started with just such a moment, where Monique and Mordekai were visiting the castle ruins in their world/time, so it’s appropriate that we feature another moment here. Monique thinks her brother is fine, so she takes some time to survey her surroundings, and even Mural pauses to savor the new-found knowledge of Mordekai’s full name. It isn’t all rush-rush-rush, which fits the pacing.
And even if you’re writing a more action-filled fantasy, moments of peace and happiness can be useful. They give the readers a breather and help remind them of why the mission or quest is important. The scene in The Lord of the Rings where Frodo and company have their baths has long stuck in my mind as one of the best, most enjoyable scenes in the book. It captures the hobbit’s joy of living and simple pleasures, and it represents all the things the Ringbearers and other evil characters are trying to destroy. Without it, we might rush from danger to danger and never remember why the Hobbits’ fight is so important (as we do in the movie…all hurry and no savoring, so that Rivendell is forced to be the reminder of all things pure and worth saving).
Until the next letter,
Copyright 2017 Andrea Lundgren
Photo courtesy of gratisography