THE MODERN DAY IS BORING

THIS MODERN AGE of ours is a pestilence. It’s boring and uninspiring. I say this not because I know where I live but because I know I don’t want to live there. We live in the constant threat of terrorist strikes and nuclear obliteration. We live in an age where we have to (HAVE to) work for a living. Gone are the days of the blacksmith, wandering bard, or professional student. You absolutely MUST get an education or fall into the rut of retail and fastfood (the service industry as a whole likely employs more people than specialized trades) if you hope to have a home, food, and family. Elsewise, you’re just some vagabond and nothing more. Nobody brags about working at Kroger or being a postal agent. People brag about being a ‘world traveler’, an agent in the FBI (or other government agency), or a CEO of a major conglomerate. Because these jobs allow agency. Whereas your average job just ensures a paycheck. And how many of you are just happy with a paycheck?

There’s always something more we endeavor to be that the Modern Age refuses to allow or admit to.

Maybe that’s why so maybe fantasies and science fiction stories are set anywhere and anytime other than the Modern Age.  Think about the games you play or the books you read. How many of them are set in the here and now? And if they are, think about how much agency is put into the telling of that story. Sure, Hunt For Red October, the Outsider, and video games like the PS4 Spider-Man are all set in the Modern Age, but how fantastical are they with their elements to keep you intrigued? 

Let’s face it, stories are only good if they’re looking back to the past or forward to the future. Not everybody like Tom Clancy or Stephen King can make the real world seem interesting (or Laurel K. Hamilton for that matter), but everybody loves a good yarn like the Lord of the Rings or a video game series like Mass Effect. Escapism is the magical word we’re all familiar with because the day to day minutia of our everyday lives is just so plain and repetitive. Hell, as I write this, I’m getting ready to go to work at the gas station that employs me for another long and exciting night of sitting there and taking the moronic attitudes of our clientele (Really? It’s our ‘pumps’ that aren’t functioning right? Are you SURE it isn’t because you don’t know how to read?). 

And yet I long to finish the final drafts of my novel, find an agent, and escape this rut. To dive deep into my own imagination and escape to worlds that are fantastic and exhilarating. Not blase and unimportant. Not a place where all I do is work, pay the bills, and wonder how I’m going to repay my student loans (hint: never ever and no way). Sure, I love my family (my wife, my son, my parents, my in-laws). But nothing is more exciting than the worlds I see in my mind. Nothing is more exciting than diving into the latest Assassin’s Creed game (to see the past and the strange stories we might find there) or the newest Mass Effect (that has gone out of its way to leave the Milky Way behind and find new adventures in Andromeda). These are exciting stories (I’m still finishing up the Dark Tower series and looking forward to delving into the Outsider!) that draw us out of the everyday and plop us straight down into the middle of something that matters.

Yet, the bland and boring everyday that is filled with the redundant is something none of us are really thrilled about. And even more depressing is dealing with terrorist threats, school shootings, sexual assault perpetrators elevated to the highest levels of government, and the constant, looming dirge of war with foreign nations that we shouldn’t have to worry about be at war with. It makes you wonder what is it all about? What’s the point? What’s the end game? Everything I do today, I’ll be doing tomorrow. And every threat with have to contend with this year, will be the same threat next.

It never ends. But stories that are not in the here and the now gives us some sort of hope that maybe, just maybe we can find a better path and a better future. At least until we open our eyes and have to deal with the same dismal slog as we did yesterday. Then we start wondering again, when is that alien invasion coming?

Clearly they have more insight than we do.

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It’s All Coming Together

I don’t get on here as often as I’d like. Though, I guess the truth of the matter is, I don’t always have a lot to say. Sure, I could rant and rave over political opinions and considerations (Our country is being destroyed by Agent Orange!). But, really, do I have the time and effort? Probably. But that’s for later. This is something else entirely.

I’ve finished the first draft of my novel that I’m trying to get published. Maybe around Spring of 2019 I’ll start the work on searching for an agent. Right now, I’m trying to get it into readable shape. Somehow, I’ve managed to work on the first and second drafts simultaneously (the rough draft was just the story I told myself. Now I’m working on prettying it up so that it’s worth looking at!)

I’m pretty pleased with the story itself. I have a few people reading the rough draft so that they can give me notes on the story and give me thoughts on improvements I might not have considered. And I’m fleshing out story conceits, character developments, and plot points to make it a stronger story.

Once I know if this is going to sell or not, I’ll drop a line here and say ‘Check it out!’ I hope to be able to find an agent and get a contract to write a series. If not, I guess there’s always Kindle. But, that seems to be mostly a fool’s gamble where ANYTHING under the sun can be published but not necessarily sold. So, I’d rather not.

So stayed tuned and I’ll have more to say hopefully sometime soon! Thanks for reading and wish me luck!

~Timothy Scott Purvis

NOVEL INTRO REVISITED: WHICH WORKS BETTER AND WHY?

So I’m rewriting chapter one of my novel, Red Star Sheriff, and I’m curious, which opener do you think works better? The original? Or the rework? I’m trying to be more descriptive but I’m curious if a shorter, more into it sequence is preferable versus the more visually descriptive work. If you have an opinion, please share it below! I’m looking for all the advice I can get!

THE ORIGINAL

1

SHE STOOD PARALYZED, a hand wrapped tightly around her throat and her face pressed firmly against the cold, grainy surface of a building wall. A hungry chuckle and foul breath caressed her neck and ears. She closed her eyes and felt her skirt sliding up her thighs. A small sound tried to escape her throat as she gritted her teeth.

     “Now stop yer whimperin. You and I both know how much yer gonna enjoy this.”

     She pursed her lips together and tried to stifle her sobs and braced herself for the inevitable violation of her body. What she didn’t expect was a splash of wetness across her right cheek and a gurgling gasp. She found herself spun around and saw a woman in a long trenchcoat holding a blade in her right hand covered in blood. And at her feet was the shuddering form of her tormentor holding his throat gasping his last breaths. She lifted her eyes to her rescuer but, before she could utter a word, heard the man’s two companions coming down the alley.

     “Hey, Gil. How long you gonna take ta- Oh, shit!”

     In a flash, the blade dropped from the woman’s hand only to be instantly replaced by a vicious looking pistol. Two shots rang out and the first man’s eye and chest exploded. A split second later the woman was twisting behind her and had another pistol in her left hand. Two more shots rang out before the second companion could draw his arm. Both shots pierced his heart before the first man had even hit the ground.

     “Wh…uh…” she stuttered as the woman reached out and grabbed her shoulder.

     “No time to dawdle. Git up those stairs and find somewhere to hole up,” the woman said pressing her forward. “Don’ come out til the shootin’s done stopped.”

     She rushed up the alleyway stairs to the waiting door and only once there glanced back to see the woman heading towards the alley entrance, her coat whipping in the wind like the fury of hell. A volley of shots rang out and she darted inside, hesitating no longer.

AND NOW THE REVISED RENDITION OF THAT FIRST SEQUENCE

1 REVENGE

1

SHE STOOD THERE paralyzed. The hand around her throat pressing her face into the dirty, gritty wall of brick and mud tightened its grip and pushed harder. She tried to stifle the sob desperate to unleash itself and braced for the inevitable violation of her body. She felt a grimy hand, calloused and not the least bit gentle, crawling up her thigh as her dress (satin smooth and clean and just the right shade of baby blue with white frills along the neck and sleeve ends) slid up towards her waist. Her eyes clenched tighter and the sobbing started breaking through.

     Oh please don’t rip my dress! Whatever you do to me, don’t damage it! It’s all I got left of my momma!

     A foul breath, thick with garlic and whiskey, caressed her neck and face as an unkempt head drew close to her ears, “Now quit yer whimperin’, my little peach. You and I both know how much yer gonna enjoy this!”

     She felt his hand reach up and grab her undergarments and yank them down so hard she heard the rip. Any moment, he was going to thrust himself inside of her and she wasn’t certain she could maintain control of her faculties. She was on the verge of screaming when a wet stream hit her face and doused her hair. A gurgled plea uttered forth as she felt his grip give and his body collapse to the ground with a dull, ravenous thud.

     Lilybell opened her eyes and spun around, her blood soaked platinum blonde locks trying to cling to her face like a wet and terrified cat. Her bonnet fell to the back of her neck in the motion but remained affixed to her neck by its ties. Her hands went to her chest as she took in what had happened. Her attacker lay on his back on the ground, his throat slit, his body convulsing, his chest sucking in its last breaths as the gurgling protests slowly ceased. She was disgusted at him. Disgusted by everything about him and all his kind. His clothing was every shade of brown from his dirty, ragged shit covered shirt to his twitching ochre boots. Even his hair was a matted mass of chestnut hair.  She hated him. Hated his grizzled tanned visage and corrupted black heart.

     With effort, Lilybell looked up to her erstwhile hero and saw a woman not quite as tall as she. Deep red skin, flowing raven black hair, and wielding an impossibly large knife serrated on one side and dripping with her assailant’s lifewater. The woman was holding the blade outward, not quite horizontal, but in a manner that suggested if the dying (or even dead) fool deigned to rearise, she was going to drive it deep into his gut and twist. The woman’s dark red duster hung there shuddering slightly under a brief gust of wind and she wore an ancient hat of like minded red. The shadow it cast hid her eyes well, but not so well Lilybell couldn’t see those black eyes that were fierce, focused, and narrow. Those eyes competed for dominance with facial features that should have been weather worn (her lips showed signs of cracking, and her cheeks had vertical lines that said plenty about the life she had already led) as her look said this was a woman who’d seen death and chaos aplenty in the young years that were her bastion of fire. And yet, her skin was so smooth, so revealing of her age that were this woman to return home and not say another word, no one would be the wiser that she’d killed a man and not even thought twice about it. It terrified and thrilled Lilybell staring into that woman’s face, a face that was firm of jaw and sported a hard demeanor.

     Lilybell opened her mouth to say something, anything to this woman, thank you perhaps, when they heard the deadman’s friends coming down the alleyway from the main streets.

     “Hey, Gil, how long ya gonna take ta- Oh, shit!”

     The two men went for their guns and Lilybell thought that she and this savior of hers were both likely dead as could be. But in the time it took Lilybell to form a cross on her chest, and those two villainous henchmen to draw their weapons, the woman had dropped her heavy blade, (a blade which fell in those same moments straight down to pierce the groin of the dead man, and he didn’t seem to mind because, apparently, he wasn’t using them anymore), pulled both of her even more enormous pistols (weapons that sported some sort of strange lights along their sides and hilts), and fired two shots (with bullets that must have been forged in the fires of Hell itself!) that tore through those men like they were wet paper.

     The first man’s head erupted in an explosion of brains, skin, skull, and teeth (his body hitting the ground like a sack of potatoes and blood draining like a dam had broken). While nearly at the same instant the second man received a shot to the chest which displayed that same sort of wanton destruction delivered to his buddy. The only difference being this one went flying backwards into the muddy brick wall and gave a fresh painting of blood red and shades of rib and viscera. His arms decided to try and escape back down the alley. They didn’t get very far.

     “Maybe too much…” the woman said to herself thumbing something on the sides of those lethal widowers.

     Lilybell should have fainted, she thought. Yet the gore, the violence…the Justice of it almost made her feel joy. She was about to thank that woman and sing her praises when the woman in red grabbed her by the shoulder and shoved her towards a flight of stairs that somewhere in the back of Lilybell’s head she knew as leading into the backroom of the general store.

     “You git on up in there an’ don’ come out ‘til the shootin’s done stopped!” the woman railed in her ear.

     Lilybell tried say, Thank you! Thank you! Thank you, you beautiful woman! You saved my life! But all that came out was heavy breathing and jolted grunting as she was pushed forward. Lilybell found herself racing up the stairs and free of the woman’s hand. Once at the top, she stopped and looked back towards the alley. It was full of blood and body parts and the carnage of war. And there was the woman.

     She was no longer looking at Lilybell but rather focused on drawing her excaliburs and racing down the alley towards the main street where the deadman, Gil’s, friends had come sauntering towards them, expecting a beaten and savaged little Bessie, and found instance death awaiting instead. The woman’s duster trailed behind her beating out a funeral dirge for those unlucky or stupid enough to be caught in her crosshairs.

     Thank you! She thought out to the woman in red. And then the shooting started back up and Lilybell turned and fled inside.

DONE!

Alright, what do you think? Let me know below. My novel is approaching the two thirds written mark (rough draft) and I’ll be getting into edits by summer. Is the rework more intriguing? Were there parts of the original you thought worked better? Do the parenthesis remarks fit well? How do you feel the characters are portrayed in the brief moments you have?

Thanks for reading!