Just to summarize, here’s the final order of my paragraphs.
Paragraphs in order
But she had to face reality. He was as much a workaholic as she was. She was getting in dive hours on her day off; he admitted that he worked from before he was even supposed to be in the building until after he was supposed to leave, and took work home with him. He was, he’d told her, a one-dimensional man.
A religion with quite a few adherents these days, loners out running around. Sometimes there were organized runs, races: Thread the Labyrinth, Chaos Crawl, the Transmarineris, the Round-the-Worlder. And in between those, the day discipline. Purposeless activity; for art’s sake. For Nirgal it was worship, or meditation, or oblivion. His mind wandered, or focused on his body, or on the trail; or went blank. At this moment he was running to music, Bach then Bruckner then Bonnie Tyndall, as Elysian neoclassicist whose music poured along like the day itself, tall chords shifting in steady internal modulation, somewhat like Back or Bruckner in fact but slower and steadier, more inexorable and grand. Fine music to run by, even though for hours at a time he didn’t consciously hear it. He only ran.
Duncan depressed a glowing action-sequence button and the wings snapped up and down, climbing high above the lava cap of the volcano. The jetpods kicked in, and the wings went into lift attitude. He let up on the power. Resser hauled himself all the way inside in a tangle of arms and legs. Wheezing and out of breath, he wedged himself into the meager open space beside Duncan in the cockpit and began to laugh.
Tolonen leaned forward, looking down out of the porthole. The spaceport was off in the distance ahead of them, a giant depression in the midst of the great glacial plateau of ice—the City’s edge forming a great wall about the outer perimeter. Even from this distance he could see the vast, pitted sprawl of landing pads, twenty li in diameter, its southernmost edge opening out onto Hsuan Wu Lake, the curve of the ancient Yangtze forming a natural barrier to the northeast, like a great moat two li in width. At the very center of that great sunken circle, like a a vast yet slender needle perched on its tip, was the control tower. Seeing it, Tolonen had mixed feelings. The last time he had come to greet someone from Mars it had been DeVore. Before he had known. Before the T’ang’s son, Han Ch’in, he died and everything had changed.
Dorian threw back the covers on the bed. There was a plain sheathed sword on it. It looked entirely normal, except that the sheath was made entirely of lead, and it covered the sword entirely, even the hilt, damping the magic. But this wasn’t just a magic sword, It was more like The Magic Sword. This was Curoch, Emperor Jorsin Alkestes’ sword. The Sword of Power. Most magi weren’t even strong enough to use it. If Feir (or most others) tried, it would kill him in a second. Dorian had said even Solon couldn’t use it safely. But after Jorsin Alkestes’ death, there had been quite a few magi who had been able to—and they’d destroyed more than one civilization. “At first, I thought I was going to have to prophesy my own future to get it, but instead, I prophesied the guards’. Everything worked perfectly except one guard came down the hallway that he only had maybe a one in thousand chance of taking. I had to knock him out. The good news is, he’s going to be nursed back to health by a lovely girl whom he’ll later marry.”
Also remember that I named the main character Dorian Resser, using two names from my collection of paragraphs
So here, at long last, are the final paragraphs
Dorian had to face reality. Her bedmate, Marcus DeVore, was as much a workaholic as she was. Dorian pulling side jobs on her day off; Marcus admitted that he worked from before he was even supposed to be in the building until after he was supposed to leave, and took work home with him. He was, he’d told her, a one-dimensional man.
“Hey beautiful,” her earpiece crackled. “Try and catch me.”
She looked up, above her, her business partner, Duncan Tyndall, sailed right over her. Shit. “You bastard,” she said.
“Ain’t an insult if it’s true.”
“You were supposed to pick me up here.”
“You got legs.” Then his end went silent.
Cursing both him, Marcus and, just for that moment, all men, Dorian ran. The truth was, she loved to run and Tyndall was flying low enough for her climb aboard if she could catch up to him. It was a game they played; whoever lost had to buy a round for the house at their favorite spot, Bierman’s. Marcus was Bierman’s manager and now the scorekeeper of their game. He’d set up monitor so the entire house could could see wins and loses for her and Tyndall. And that thought led her back to Marcus. Shit. But the run felt good; it always felt good. For her, running was worship, or meditation, or oblivion. Her mind wandered, or focused on her body, or on the trail; or went blank. Or music. She called up music on her earpiece: something loud and driving. Black Metal Rage had a new song climbing the charts; fine music to run by. She ran at a steady pace, but one that ate up the distance.
She was catching up. Tyndall knew it; she could tell by the way the wings of the ship snapped up and down. But he couldn’t go any faster or any higher: that was the rules they’d agreed one. Dorian ran faster, this time giving it everything she could. Two, three, four minutes she was beside the ship. Another two, three and she had fingers on the cargo opening. Another two and she had her chest on the on the cargo area floor. Tyndall let up on the power. Dorian hauled herself all the way inside in a tangle of arms and legs. Wheezing and out of breath, she wedged herself into the meager open space beside Tyndall in the cockpit and began to laugh. “Well damn,” he said. “Skunked again.”
“You should pick a game I’m not good at.”
Dorian leaned forward, looking down out of the porthole. The spaceport was off in the distance ahead of them, a giant depression in the midst of the great rock plateau—the city’s edge forming a great wall about the outer perimeter. Even from this distance she could see the vast, pitted sprawl of landing pads, twenty miles in diameter, its southernmost edge opening out onto Hsuan Wu Lake, the curve of the ancient Farsook river forming a natural barrier to the northeast, like a great moat two miles in width. Neither the lake nor the river held water; they were called that because of the shape of their depressions. There were conflicting theories about it, but Dorian, like most people, believed that liquid water once existed onMars. At the very center of that great sunken circle, like a a vast yet slender needle perched on its tip, was the control tower. Seeing it, Dorian had mixed feelings. The last time she had come to greet someone from Europa, it had been Bruckner. Before she had known. Before Lucas died and everything had changed.
Dorian let on that she was tired and headed back to her tiny cabin, literally a closet with one wall pushed out into the cargo bay to make room for a bed. She locked the cabin door and drew back the covers of her bed. There was a plain, sheathed sword on it. It looked entirely normal, except that the sheath was made entirely of lead, and it covered the sword entirely, even the hilt, damping the magic. But this wasn’t just a magic sword, It was more like The Magic Sword. This was Can Curoch, Faery Killer, Emperor Jorsin Alkestes’ sword. The Sword of Power. Most magi weren’t even strong enough to use it; if they tried, it would kill them in a second. Lucas had said even Solon couldn’t use it safely.
Hum. I can see the start of something here. I’ve now got a thousand questions to answer. I think I might try this exercise again, focusing on my current work, Lucifer’s Godchild. I’d like to see if it can help me breathe some life into my lackluster (and far from complete) first draft. But here, in this piece I can see a lot of potential. What is Dorian and Tyndall’s relationship exactly? How does magic fit into this setting? What’s her relationship to Marcus? Is it just physical or is there something deeper? Who is Lucas and how did everything change? How did he die? What does a colony on Europa look like? Are there other colonies in the solar system? Outside of the solar system? Who is she going to meet at the spaceport and why are they there? Things are already starting to come together in my head; I think I may have my NaNoWriMo project for this year.
I’m not going to share my next Get-Fit exercise: not blow-by-blow as I’ve done with this one. But I’ll certainly talk about it and share my insights about how it helped my writing (or didn’t). But I really liked this exercise and will definitely use it again. It’s really gotten my imagination going; and that’s a good enough reason for me to keep using it. I could really tell each writer’s style by their word choice, paragraph length, and sentence structure. I became very aware of each author’s individual voice.
I hope at least some of you did this exercise. If you haven’t, I highly recommend trying it. I’d love to hear about your experiences with this exercise. Did you love it? Hate it? Did it help you at all or was it too much? Let us know in the Comments section below.
And, as Mur Lafferty says, “You should be writing.”
[Photo by Louise McLaren via Flickr Creative Commons]