Flash Fiction – Monster invasion!


Part of the indomitable Chuck Wendig’s flash fiction challenge over at terribleminds

It didn’t go down as anyone expected.
They just appeared one day. No asteroid impact, no emerging from the bottom of the sea, no scientific experiment gone awry. No story. They were just… there, on the edges of major cities, out past the suburbs. Jets were scrambled, tanks rolled in, and you know what the monsters did? Nothing. They just sat there, and watched, and waited. We’ve all seen the movies, expected some gung-ho commander to launch an attack without orders, some nervous private fresh out of basic to pull the trigger, but… nothing. No one fired first. I mean, seriously, are you going to start something with that?
So the beasts just sat there, and watched, and waited, and slowly the world returned to some semblance of normal. It’s amazing how quickly people can adjust to things, can live in a sudden, hulking shadow, can live under the gaze of an impossible creature’s unimaginable intelligence. We’d been doing it for years after all, living with CCTV and airport body scanners and governments reading our email.
After a few months they started to talk. At first the cable news channels went wild, realised that maybe this was indeed the end times. But they talked about the most banal things, learned the basics of our language and culture, even started doing a few interviews. Of course when asked where they came from, or why they were here, they pretended not to understand the question, but they could talk about popular culture, offer opinions on politics, even give fashion tips. A few people started to get a grasp of how vast these creatures were, not just in terms of size but in age and intelligence. They did everything with a slow, purposeful preponderance.
They started taking jobs. Offering to help with mining, demolitions, even construction. BP were one of the first to take advantage, using a quadrupedal creature who called himself Detheron to transport an oil rig from the pacific to the atlantic. They helped in disaster relief too, rescuing people and shielding them from landslips in Bangladesh, with pictures of these enormous creatures scooping people into their maws and carrying them to safety at UN refugee camps.
They were smart though. They stayed out of the military, never entering war zones, staying politically neutral and being sure never to explain themselves in too much detail.
I remember in the fall, four years after they appeared, the Onion ran a story about how they’d start unionising next, petitioning for workers rights and the minimum wage. Once again, they predicted the future, and life became even more absurd. They unionised, got wages for their work — six dollars an hour in most cases, despite the fact that they finished most jobs in an hour. They bought stocks, buoying the economy at a time when it needed it.
Some of them got into white collar jobs, accounting, finance, even law. Hyperalon became a high profile defence lawyer working pro-bono in new york. Goldman Sachs got renamed Goldman, Sachs & Kellagor. They became managers, and got excellent performance out of their teams — not out of intimidation or eating anyone who didn’t perform, but out of implausibly good people skills. Before long Detheron, the immense creature who had transported oil rigs cross country, was CEO of BP.
A year after that, Detheron bought out his own shareholders, paying cash for the oil company that he was in charge of. This was just the first of a host of buyouts and mergers, and before we knew it just about every major corporation had a monster somewhere on its board.
Life isn’t so bad. Fine, scraping out the spawning tanks takes a while, and Gerry from down the block says the obsidian blocks they’re using to build the pyramids are really heavy, but hey, I just got the new iPhone, and you know what? Not one dropped call yet. Couldn’t say that when there was a human on the board.



AAAAAAAH


In other news, I am also doing Nano again this year, and still panicking.



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Stuff!


So I’ve reread Magocracy and found some stuff that could do with extra work to make the book not-suck, and also make it not-a-really-short-novel. Specifically, there were four or five characters who get dumped near the end and I never really picked them up for more detail. So I’m doing that.

There will be four chapters, roughly 2,000 words each, so 8,000 words is my total word count target. At the moment they’ve all been a little underweight, but I haven’t got into the meat of the action yet. Done 2202 words so far.

2202 of 8000 words

Also, I’ve been outlining the pants off my next novel to avoid the problems I’ve had with Magocracy (and also Titanomachy) – specifically running out of stuff to write in the middle. The outline is now 10,000 words long, and I’ve still got a few things to work out, but I’m feeling good – already spotted a few structural problems that normally I would have fixed in the second draft.

I was working under the working title of Apostate. But I’m a little sick of one word, serious sounding titles, and I’ll probably end up altering them anyway (aside from anything else I have no idea how to pronounce ‘Titanomachy’, and I’m not even sure about ‘Magocracy’).

So instead I’m going to call it Giant Robots Punch Each Other, book one in the (probably never to be completed) Giant Robots Punch God Trilogy Quadrilogy Sequence.



Um.


So Yeah. I did finish the book, though I can’t remember the precise date. But I did.

Trouble is, it was underweight – it’s at 79k right now. I’ve gone through to fix some basic spelling issues and a few continuity things, and I’ll give it a read fairly soon – there are quite extraordinary structural snafus in there, even in the second draft. That shouldn’t be the case as normally I try to get all the structural snafus out of the way by the time I start the second draft, but ho hum. I’ve got to cut a secondary character who has an actual viewpoint, I think, and I’m going to add in some more character development for a secondary character.

Of course, can’t really say until I finish my first re-read of the second draft. Got a little bit to do first.

In other news! I’m working on some Dyra’s Pride stories to put up on a new blog, together with a new character series about a historical spy in the same world as Magocracy. He’s a fun character, if a bit angsty – some stuff may need reworking. I’m going to start line-editing Titanomachy at some point as well – I’ll probably put up a writertopia style progress bar, since Brandon Sanderson does that when he rewrites stuff, and I’m always willing to steal an idea if it’s good.

So! That’s me all done, updates should (possibly, hopefully) come more often now.



Blast. Update time.


Gone over to the Writertopia progress meter images for the time being – easier than bothering with the whole screencapping Scrivener -> post to blog thing. This is because I’ve recently started a second job, and as such have been too busy to even get much writing done, let alone writing followed by maeking poast.

Another problem is that I’ve been writing more and more on the Alphasmart Neo, which is an incredible tool, but often means I’m away from my computer when I’ve finished writing, making it difficult to track my word counts on the (frequent) occasions when I forget.

I’ve been attempting to use Parkinson’s Law to fit more writing in, but procrastination is proving an eternal problem.

The Real Problem

The one thing that underlies all of these issues, I think, is that I’m getting towards the end of the book – the final act, the big climax, the hissatsu. This is a problem because I like my characters, and in the end I don’t want to let them go. There’s always potential for sequels or expansion, but I know that in the end none of these characters are going to be the same by the end of the book, and I’ll never have a chance to write them again.

I had the same problem when writing the drafts of my last novel, Titanomachy (which I’ll probably end up title Rise of the Titans if it ever gets out of editing hell) – the second half is always torture up until a point near the middle of the last act. Last time I did the final eighth of the book in about a day, which I anticipate will happen this time as well. I’ll probably just have to take a few days off to get this damn monkey off my back.

Changes are Afoot. Going to start doing some serial fiction, since I think I’ve burned myself out on flash fiction.



I have been writing! Honest!


Okay, so in the chaos surrounding christmas and the holiday season I forgot to update the blog, but I did write. I kept meaning to post a humungous, multi-week update, but the thing about humungous, multi-week updates is they are not motivating things to think about. So I’ll just post my Scrivener targets window from the 4th.

Magocracy 2nd draft targets: 1,952 of 2,500 words session target; 25,189 of 100,000 words draft target

Not bad, nearly a full 2k. Unfortunately that was yesterday – so far today I’ve done nothing. Might do some tonight, but I’ve been trying to get away from late night writing, and I find it upsets my sleep patterns. Can’t write before ten pm for some reason, and after staring at a backlit screen I tend to end up sleeping poorly, and then not getting up early enough to write the next morning, and so it continues. Which is frustrating, because I find my early morning writing is my best.

So I’ll probably end up taking a day off today, something I normally discourage myself from doing. Hopefully the motivation to get up and do some writing will return tomorrow, as I’ve an interesting chapter coming up.



Three days!


Magocracy draft 2 wordcount for 20th December 2008 - 149 words

Saturday was a bit blah. I didn’t get anything done in the morning unfortunately, and in the evening I just didn’t feel like it, so I ended up producing less than a hundred and fifty words :(. It seems that if I’m physically tired I find it difficult to get into the right mental state for writing, especially if I’ve been consuming media all day.

Magocracy draft 2 wordcount for 21st December 2008 - 1,731 words

Sunday on the other hand was much better – I produced a good few thousand words before lunch. Unfortunately, even though this was a day off, I didn’t end up filling my session count. The reason for this is an old annoyance of mine – if I finish a chapter I find it difficult to start another one in the same session. In this session I completed chapter three, making it difficult for me to start chapter four immediately.

Magocracy draft 2 wordcount for 22nd December 2008 - 2,634 words

Today was much better, since because I was starting fresh I was able to start and finish a chapter in one session. The chapter is slightly overweight, but not as much as some of the earlier chapters (which I’ll probably have to trim at some point to keep the pace up).

One thing I’ve noticed as a difference between this draft and the previous one – the tone is much more consistent, and much darker. the first draft had a lot more comedy – certainly not a bad thing, but the book feels like it should have a much darker tone.

An area in which I’ve noticed this is the antagonists* – they are far more brutal in this draft than the previous one, the violence has really gone up a notch.

So yeah, a bad day and two good days. Lets see what chapter five brings us, shall we?


*I don’t like calling them bad guys, because I like grey areas in my fiction. Sets up more questions in the reader’s head, which is something I like doing



Yesterday


Magocracy 2nd draft targets: 1,053 of 2,500 words session target; 8,041 of 100,000 words draft target

Okay again – 1k is a nice building block, and I’m not going to look a gift horse in the mouse – but still not all that satisfactory. I’ve been self sabotaging a lot lately and relying on my late night sessions far more than I’d like I’d really like to have a nice full hour in the mornings in which to get some stuff done, but I’ve been overlseeping instead and getting up with precious little time in which to get ready for work.

Unfortunately, as I work in the service industry, I’m still having to give up Saturdays – so no session this morning due to oversleeping, and now I have to do some more tonight. Hopefully tomorrow morning will yield better results.

Tomorrow’s post will probably be a dual-update one. Hopefully, anyway.



Two okay days


Magocracy second draft updates for 17-12-08

So I got a thousand words done on the morning of the 17th of December. An okay session – I’ve had some trouble with oversleeping lately however, and a side of me wonders if it might be a little self sabotage.

 

Magocracy second draft updates for 18-12-08

And another thousand down today. This is a little different, as I didn’t do a morning session – I didn’t have time due to overlseeping. Instead I wrote about three hundred words at 4pm and another seven hundred in the evening after 10pm – these seem to be my auxiliary prose writing times, which is interesting.