Tag Archives: National Novel Writing Month

Friday Fiction: For The Zoo

When you tell me to write about an animal, I’m not going to be conventional. Mantis shrimps are probably the coolest animals in the world. Monogamous, always fighting, breaking the sound barrier, seeing 16 different levels of light—awesome. So what if they were massive? What if you wanted one for yourself? Read on for a tight little story.

Like a tightening rope the group of hunters converged on the rainbow beast. The rocky shore was difficult to traverse, but years of practice meant their footing was sure. They kept communication up, a colleague in sight at all times. This was as routine as the tide.

The creature eyed them warily, it’s sight stalks jutting to and fro, picking up movement all around. It didn’t move from where it stood, pointed appendages poised and steady. It could have run, but Mantii live to fight.

One of the hunters got too close. A barbed limb shot out, faster than any of the hunters could see. A bang disorientated everybody in the space as sound broke. Viscera sprayed out into the foamy water.

The body was pulled back towards the animal, but it flung the meat away, not caring for food. Only for blood. An excited chattering emanated from it’s mouth.

One of the men threw a javelin, a large, heavy spear with hooked jags along the head. It missed, glancing from the chitin of the giant cray-fiend.

It spun round, legs moving with extreme speed. Snap, crack. Another messy corpse went flying. The hissing grew louder.

The humans stood firm. They were inured to this, trained for loss, practised in bewilderment. Combating a Mantii was the holiest of battles; to kill one was a mighty glory.

To capture one was beyond imagining.

A hunter moved in from behind the monstrosity, a newly opened vantage point. He swung strong leather binds attached to heavy rocks. He aimed at the beast’s legs.

It barely hit, managing to swing around two of the multi-coloured legs. The critter instantly fell. Collapsing into the pools of water between the rocks, the sun glinted off its armour. Thousands of colours. It would have been wondrous were it not for the danger.

And it was still dangerous. One of the hunters, in her excitement, leaped up on a rock, letting out an exultation. She underestimated the beast’s reach.

Another bang, the air supercharged and burning. The smell of blood was filling their noses. A headless cadaver fell under the waves.

While it was momentarily distracted, the hunters’ final weapon was brought into place. A massive globe of crude glass, as colourful as the creatures exoskeleton. Carried by four hunters it was the tool that cracked a Mantii

Another leather sling, and the animal was subdued further. Unable to scuttle off, the brute was forced to look into the globe.

No man can see what it did. Cray-fiend see light in spectra beyond understanding. Whatever was diffused by this holiest of glasses sent it into hypnosis. From there it was only a matter of netting the body and carrying it off.

Raul stood back as his warriors heaved the subdued shrimp into a cage. He doubted it would hold, which was why they had to keep the globe in its field of vision. And make haste before the Sun fell.

He would be remembered now—the Master of the Mantii. When this beast died, he would wear its body as armour, splendid and impregnable. The animal was his pet now, and he would have to look after it.

 

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Friday Fiction: Editing My NaNo Attempt

Welcome to the first of my regular updates. That is, each Friday I will post fiction that I am working on, whether that be edits or something fresh, and invite you to share your own. Every Saturday will be about what I have been reading, from article suggestions to book reviews. Sunday will be for musings—anything that I’ve come up with during the week, or feel needs to be expressed. Think of them as opinion drafts.

For my first post I’ve gone back and edited the beginnings of my NaNo attempt (going strong, by the way). I would post my original splurge, but that would be annoying. Instead, please enjoy the first 600 or so words of my very first novel, The Solar Saloon (and maybe suggest a better title!). You can check up on my progress here.

 Zinc flew above the regolith, the stars at his back. He focused on an incoming pole, reached out with long arms in anticipation. He was good at this, judged it perfectly. Slender fingers crept quickly around it, and with the momentum he had, Zinc swung right around as a meteoroid does a planet.

With a gymnast’s kick he let go and flung himself towards the next obstacle. He could hear his sisters laughing ecstatically. Smiling stoically, he extended his body as much as he could. Three hoops were coming up, and he would have to adjust his flight perfectly in order to get through them all. The noise of his siblings stopped while they held their breath.

One hoop. A few spurts from the gas jets.

The second hoop. A few more in the other direction.

Then Zinc thought of a better idea.

As he passed through the last circle, he sprung open, latching his fingers around the top of the hoop and snapping his torso back. Spinning round and round he heard a gasp from one of his sisters. His vision flashed from the black of space to the grey-blue of home. Slowly he relaxed and came to a stop, perched daintily on the apex. Beryl and Vana clap silently. In zero-g the only sounds that carry have to jump from comm-unit to comm-unit. He opened a link with them.

“Good?” he said.

“Very good!” said Vana.

“No, very, very good!” said Beryl, pushing her sister. The younger sibling floated a few metres before managing to land back on firm ground.

“Careful you two,” Zinc said. He twitched.

“Sorry Z-” Zinc nodded his helmet towards Vana.

“I mean, sorry Vana.”

“That’s OK, I coulda got back anyway, even without my hook!” She put her hands on her hips and patted the little gun on her hip. Zinc doubted that, but he always admired Vana’s spirit. Sometimes he wished his sisters wouldn’t look up to him so much, but since they did he put on a bit of a show. He preferred watching them try to equate themselves with the playground. He knew it back to front.

“C’mon Zinc, show us something else!”

Zinc declined. Instead, he jumped down, regolith bursting up in slow motion where his feet landed. He swung both arms back and did a little bow, which was his way of saying, “Show me what you got.”

Taking a seat on top of a largish rock, Zinc watched his sisters leap clumsily on to the equipment. His creation. It was an odd mix of metallic frames and bright plastic shapes. Tubes and tunnels, poles and planks. He’d even managed to make some of it go under the surface; he was particularly proud of that little innovation.

Zinc stared up past the outlines and the squabbling girls, into the dotted dark that was the sky. Making patterns was one of his favourite ways of passing the time. There were so many dots, changing all the time. There, two little girls holding hands. To the left of that, a fork, no, a spanner. He often tried to connect the stars in a perfect circle, just to see if he could. That was a hard one, and he’d only managed once. But there was one symbol that kept coming up.

That of a man. It was distinct more than any other formation, and he always saw it. It was too perfect not to have been placed there.

A scream ripped into his ear, a high-pitched scream laced with fear.

Beryl.

Zinc immediately refocused.

There was Vana, barely holding on to a spinning stick. He jumped down, and within three long strides he had skipped to her side. Placing a hand on Vana, he turned her to look into his faceplate.

“She just let go!” Zinc could see the fear. Or maybe that was a reflection.

Spinning around, he spied Beryl’s whiteness against the great black. She was screaming and yelling and hollering and Zinc had to force her link closed. Without wasting a second he launched himself after her. He had the greater speed, and would definitely catch her–but could they get back?

If you’re participating in National Novel Writing Month please link a part of your own story, something you’re particularly proud of.

With that, I’ll leave you with a quote from George Orwell:

In a time of universal deceit— telling the truth is a revolutionary act.

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NaNoWriMo: Day 1

With the task ahead I honestly don’t know how much I’ll be able to write outside of the book, but hey, that’s a pretty fair sacrifice. I am writing a short story about robots, and hope to do a heap of reading—and there’s always something to blog about. But yes, time.

But anyway, let’s get into the facts and details:

http://www.nanowrimo.org/en/participants/homemaster

I am currently at 2, 419 words. That’s about 750 over the necessary daily word count. I figure that smashing out the start of a novel is the best idea because 1) it’s the part most firmly in my head, and 2) it gives me space to play with later chapters and events. It seems like a logical way to do things.

In other news I got to look at publishing proposals submitted to Melbourne University Publishing today, which was rather insightful, and I got my hands on a very early draft of a new Germaine Greer book. As in, I held it and read the first page. Hey, at least my mum thinks I’m cool!

 

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My First NaNoWriMo

Sometimes working under pressure produces great results. But with National Novel Writing Month, you don’t have to produce great results—all you have to do is write 50 000 words in 30 days. That’s exactly what I plan to do.

I’ve been frantically putting together a plot outline, character profiles, and the basic bits and pieces needed. All within a week! This will be my first novel, and I personally aim to get about 1,800 – 2,000 words written a day. It’s a YA novel, and here are the details.

One Sentence Synopsis:
A teenage boy leaves home in order to secure his family and future, and finds a job aboard a rebellious restaurant—in space!

Synopsis/Blurb

Life would be hard growing up with only your mum and sisters for company—imagine doing it in space!

Teenager and familial caretaker Zinc decides to seek a solution when he finds out that his childhood home might be taken away from him. Without a thought of what the galaxy offers, he hitches a ride and ends up with a job at the Solar Saloon. How will he cope as a waiter, or a dishie, or cooped up in the bowels of this rebellious restaurant? Never mind the surly bartenders or the crazy troupe of chefs, what about the Interplanetary Hospitality Regulation? 

Join Zinc as he tries to find his way in a universe he never, ever imagined, all while trying to save his family and make a few friends along the way.

I came up with the idea about two weeks ago, and found out about NaNoWriMo a week ago, so it’s been a whirlwind in my head. So far I’ve read everything I can lay my hands on in order to prepare (like buying the cheap and excellent Outlining Your Novel) and it’s already taught me a bunch about the writing process. I’m taking it as a stepping stone for my more ambitious YA trilogy. But in the end I’m just looking forward to some intense writing.

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