Rewritten: The Tower

I’m sure I don’t need to tell the writers out there of the importance of rewriting. Whether fiction or non-fiction a rewrite can turn something mediocre into something great. I know a lot of people finish a piece of work and read through it only to think: ‘This is crap.’ Fortunately for me I usually finish and whilst I don’t think I’ve crafted the next Shakespearian masterpiece I  think: ‘This is okay.’ That doesn’t mean I don’t rewrite it. Everything I write will always get at least one rewrite once finished, which will include the usual spell check and punctuation corrections but also the rearranging of sentences to make them more pleasing or better to understand. Often entire paragraphs will appear and disappear during a rewrite and in particular if a plot point late in a story is changed I need to go back over the rest in order to maintain the continuity.

Sometimes though a complete rewrite is needed. The same idea, the same writer but a second go. The difference can be astonishing. My story The Tower, which was the first short story I wrote solely for this blog needed rewriting. I felt I had made a mistake by making it about the character, The Master Builder (The laziness of me not even naming him speaks for how unimportant he was.) I used him as a means to describe the world around him, the world of this tower on which all these people live. But I realised that the character that embodied the themes of the tarot card on which is was based was not The Master Builder, nor one of the actually named characters Nebuchadnezzar and Nimrod, not even of a human. The central character is the tower itself, a building and home that the inhabitants treat more like an idol and a god. So I rewrote the story to tell it from the tower’s point of view. Whether the story itself is better I can’t say, but I feel it now fits better with the theme of its tarot card and the theme of the short story collection Le Cirque Des Moirai in general.

If you’d like to read the rewrite it’s on this page here: The Tower

Weekly Story: The World

The last story has now been uploaded: The World. Again its title is after the tarot card of the same name, I went with a rather self-indulgent and literal translation of the card. As such the story is not so much a story, but like Wheel of Fortune before it, more of a description or encyclopaedia entry. It describes the world in which all of my Le Cirque Des Moirai short stories have been set, though some stories have vague settings and haven’t been placed. As a side note, the are too many stories to fit neatly in the menu so please either click a direct link or go to the Le Cirque Des Moirai page to find the list of stories.

You might have noticed I called this my last story, that is because I have made my way through the major arcana cards of the tarot from which I was drawing my story ideas. I’m going to take a break and return with a new idea, probably after Christmas, this time focusing on writing episodes following a character and single story, as I have been told that the problem with short stories for many people is that they end before they’ve really gotten to know the characters, is this the case for anyone else?

I am also toying with the idea of continuing story writing for the tarot, using the lesser arcana, but writing them much shorter as flash fiction. I am slightly wary of the medium however as I have never gotten a good grasp of how long, or indeed short, a flash fiction can be, whilst still being considered a flash fiction. Feel free to illuminate me on the subject.

For anyone who is curious as to the placement of my short stories in the countries mention in The World they are as follows:

The Tower, The Magician and Death all take place in The Plains of the Fallen, before they are called that.
The Empress is in the faerie lands, specifically The Land of the Flower Fairies.
The Hanged Man in Samsara.
Justice in Gekh
The Chariot in Vulia, and in the future The Lovers too.
The Hermit in Breton.
Strength and my flash fiction, Magic in the Kitchen, in Deutcheim.
The Devil, Rite to Live and the introduction to Le Cirque Des Moirai, take place in Oerlis.
The Fool in the untamed northern lands.
The Hierophant in the mystical east.
The Star, and my unpublished novel (A little sneak preview), take place in Pheone.
And finally Temperance takes place in Norgardt.

The short stories are staying up and I would be very greatful for any feedback any of my readers can give.

Weekly Story: Death

This week’s story is something of a sequel to an earlier one, The Tower, and also connected to The Magician. It follows what happens to Nebuchadnezzar after the disaster. The three stories work nicely together, I think, to tell the beginnings of different languages, magic and werewolves in this fantasy universe. You can find it on it’s own page here, and in the menu.

I enjoyed coming up with this story, I had already developed the idea when researching for The Tower, which had led me to the Tower of Babel story. There was a fair bit of mention of King Nebuchadnezzar II. I chose to make him a religious leader instead of a King, focusing on the stories of him building many of Babylon’s temples. He appears a fair bit in the Book of Daniel, where he has a dream that needs interpreting, this is where the gold, silver, brass and iron statue comes from.

For this story I took the chance to focus on another element of his story, the madness of King Nebuchadnezzar. It’s said that he went mad and acted like a beast, until he acknowledged the rule of Heaven. This seemed like the perfect start to a werewolf tale. You might also notice that I slipped in references to Nebuchadnezzar’s prophetic nightmares of a felled tree.

Werewolves were persecuted throughout history in the same way as witches were and their are several theories for the widespread belief in them ranging from people with excessive body hair to diseases that cause animalistic lunacy. Rabies is one such possibility and I tried to slip in a few of the symptoms to represent Nebuchadnezzar’s madness including feeling hot, hydrophobia and a violent nature.

Weekly Story: The Chariot

This week’s story is a little shorter than the others and as usual is on its own page, here, so as not to clutter up my homepage and make scrolling through old posts more difficult than it has to be.

Once again taking inspiration from Tarot cards, this one being The Chariot, I went with the meaning of victory, but also snuck in literal chariots. I decided on a tale of one man wanting victory at any cost and another man filling  a  Jiminy Cricket role and suggesting that victory shouldn’t happen at the cost of other people’s lives. I tried to subvert the expectation that the first man, Titus, would learn the error of his ways and focus somewhat on the cultural expectation of the world he lives in.

Fun fact: I didn’t come up with the character names until after I’d written the story, so in the first draft I had the brother’s names as Jeff and Manylayers.

Weekly Story: The Empress

This week’s story is now up here, and in contrast to last week it’s a lot sunnier and brighter in tone.

I was heavily influenced by the green nature spirit in Fantasia 2000. If you’ve seen either Fantasia film then you’ll know that the images are created to correspond to the classical music, so that they tell stories without any dialogue. I’ve tried to emulate that in my writing, giving no dialogue or inner monologue, just a description of the events occurring. Similarly the nature spirit in Fantasia 2000 tries to bring the forest to life but is halted by a volcano, all turns out well though as the now fertile land can be forested with ease. The fairy empress in my story brings the flower fairies to life, there is no climactic disaster for her to deal with but there are extremes of weather as I tried to focus on the seasonal changes plants have to deal with, all of which is circular in nature.

Do tell me if you enjoyed reading it and how you think I might improve, or what you might prefer and I’ll see you next week.

Weekly Story: The Devil

This week’s story has been posted to a page right here and in the menu.

The tarot card inspiration for this story was The Devil card, and I went with a very literal interpretation of that and decided to simply write a story about a devil. Since the devil is meant to be evil, and I didn’t want to write a story about the one devil that wants to be good as the card implies negative meanings, I tried to come up with ways to have a good guy in the story but focus on the devil, often by making the devil a tempter figure.

My original idea was to have a small child who hears voices that make him or her do bad things, the voices being the devil’s, or that the devil was possessing the child. But this seemed a bit too similar to the demon in my other story The Moon. Then I considered an older character one who worked in partnership with the devil character and who explored the concept of immorality. But then I decided to be a bit more in depth with the devil character and have an element of ‘who is the real monster’. What if it wasn’t the devil making the human do bad things but the other way around. I then threw in a hunter for some action sequences, named him Abel and as you might guess the man in the cathedral though unmentioned is called Cain.

I had originally considered writing this story as a horror, instead of an action thriller with a few dark tones. In that mindset the murdered women were going to have been cannibalised, possibly with gruesome descriptions and I would have played up the devil more having it stalk Abel inside the Cathedral. I didn’t feel dedicated to the genre though so went with my standard prose rather than end up with a half-hearted horror.

Do enjoy reading it and I’d love to hear any thoughts you have.

Weekly Story: Temperance

Another week and another fantasy short story for my readers. Temperance can be found on its own page here.

If you’ve been paying attention you might have noticed that I’ve been naming each of my short stories I post every week after tarot cards. There’s two reasons for this and frankly one of them is that I’m too lazy to come up with story titles, an aspect of writing I find surprisingly difficult. The other reason is that I have been drawing my inspiration from the cards trying to craft my stories either around the image on the card or on the themes and meanings of the cards.

This week was the Temperance card and I took from it a suggestion of the marriage of two things, whether of people of a combining of objects. That initially led me to involve alchemy, something which to my mind (In a fantasy universe) is a means of combining science and magic and would typically involve doing scientific things through magical means, like combining chemicals. The theme of marriage reminded me of a classical greek myth about a statue whose sculptor wishes for her to come to life and marries her. I decided to combine this with the alchemy idea and have the protagonist attempting to create a person right from the get go. Earlier ideas in my head involved the alchemist trying to create a child as he and his wife could not, or the experiment failing, or Galatea giving up her life of mere seconds old to revive the dying alchemist.

Anyway I hope you enjoy it.