short story census

I have made a good start on “Kingspeaker,” which is the story I hope to finish this month. (For those unaware, the goal is to write a minimum of one short story a month. It’s an eminently reasonable goal; let’s see if that helps me meet it. My short story output has been crap of late.) The beginning is going well. Unfortunately, soon I will run out of beginning, whcih means I need to figure out how to put into the story that thing that needs to go into the story.

The goal is also to get one new short story sent out every month. Since I have a small backlog of things I’ve been meaning to revise for a while (in some cases, for years), this means the newly-written stories will have time to get beautified before they go out in public. All in all, it sounds like a good system. Hopefully it will work.

First lines of the stories that need revision:

Among the young siorai practicing bare-handed attacks under Redfeather’s watchful eye, one figure stood out. — “Sciatha Reborn” [Good god, this one’s from July 2002. It needs a total rewrite more than a revision.]

They rise each night from stains in the concrete, from shadows in the stone. — “The Memories Rise to Hunt” [August 2004. Again with the rewriting, though not as extensively.]

The old woman showed up the morning of the first feast, and could not have chosen a less opportune time. — “On the Feast of the Firewife” [December 2004. I know what the story needs; I’ve just been too lazy to do it.]

The king was dying, and nothing in the world could save him. — “A Heretic by Degrees” [Now we’re into recent territory, where by “recent” I mean June of last year.]

Among the noble flowers that have gathered for the ball, the hopeful young ladies in their lavender and spring green and pink, she stands out like a rose, red as freshly-spilled blood. — untitled story [Another of my pieces from that bout of short-story writing last year.]

The voice came from far below, rising ghost-like from the shadowed landscape of night. — “The Moon and the Son” [Ditto above. If I get permission to do this one in the first place — it’s based on a song — then this line will go away, since the whole thing is going to get chopped down to about a third its current length.]

The stars winked in conspiratorial excitement as the two travelers flew by, borne on nighttime winds. — “The Last Wendy” [Also known as last month’s story.]

First lines from stories in progress, that I may someday finish:

I have not spoken with my own voice in nearly seven years. — “Kingspeaker” [The current project.]

Fever took my love from me. — “The Unquiet Grave” [Inspired by the ballad of the same name, if by “inspired” you mean “I don’t actually know yet how to make a plot out of it.]

By day their scales glitter in the sun, winding sinuously through the cities of the world. — untitled Twilight story [Even less of a plot to this one than “The Unquiet Grave.”]

Treasured wife — By now you will have heard the sorry tale of my disgrace at court. — “X Y Z Goes on Pilgrimage” [I still haven’t settled on a name for the main character, hence the X Y Z. Something Chinese. I need to do a lot of research on Chinese history and culture before I can write this one, or any of the others I want to go along with it.]

Peter found her slippers just inside the room. — “Mad Maudlin” [Based on “Tom o’ Bedlam,” aka “Bedlam Boys.”]

Only idiots bother trying to make maps of Driftwood. — untitled Driftwood story #1 [Not much to say about this one.]

The tap of the workmen’s chisels was a distant, dreamlike thing to Tlacuilo’s ears, as if it came from another world. — untitled story [In the same setting as “A Mask of Flesh.”]

I’ve seen the look on your face, when your granny starts telling the old stories. — “Ink, Like Blood” [High chance I will never finish this story; I don’t think the idea is worth it.]

Time’s one of the most untrustworthy and useless concepts in all of Driftwood. — untitled Driftwood story #2 [Not much to say here, either. I just have snippets of ideas without plot.]

Faerie trouble never really goes away. — untitled story [Can’t talk much about this one without giving away what it is.]

Having ink on your skin was an offense punishable by death. — untitled Nine Lands story #1 [This one can’t decide whether it’s going to be a short story or a novel. Or a short story that will later grow into a novel.]

As a child she was not remarkable. — untitled Nine Lands story #2 [May never go anywhere, at least not until I’m more like ready to write the other stuff about Ennike.]

The boar charged along the forest floor, feet pounding out a furious beat, tusks slicing at the air. — “Even in Decline” [Same setting as “Sciatha Reborn,” which means a setting that needs more working out before I do anything in it.]

For twelve years the goddess’ word had been law. OR Hathisekhmet had been a goddess for fifteen years when they told her to go home. — “Once a Goddess” [I’ve got four different abortive starts to this story. I really want to write it, but don’t know where to go with it.]

There are other “I hope I’ll finish them” stories, but none of them have even snippets written yet; things like “Schrodinger’s Crone” and “Double Woman Dreamer” and “The Three Hackbutters.” Many of these, unsurprisingly, need research. But one short story a month (minimum) means I’ll get twelve done this year, so that should make a dent in the stack at last.

0 Responses to “short story census”

  1. sartorias

    A lot of these sound really intriguing–good luck with the goal!

    • Marie Brennan

      Thanks! It’s odd, looking at all the first lines listed off like that. But doing this also reminded me of some back-burner projects I’d forgotten about.

  2. dsgood

    “The Unquiet Grave” — reading what you said here brought a comment from the back of my mind: Obviously, a story based on that ballad should be political sf. One more story seed for me.

    I first encountered that ballad in Poul Anderson’s The Flowers of Gwydion, by the way.

    • Marie Brennan

      I know it from a rendition about Faith and the Muse. Mine won’t be political sf, I think, but the neat thing about retellings is that they can do lots of different things. 🙂

  3. eclectician

    I seem to remember the first line of Kingspeaker. I would really love to read that and all of the rest of these.

    • Marie Brennan

      Yeah, I posted it a while back when it jumped into my head. I’m only now getting past that first line.

      Glad to hear they all sound interesting.

  4. snickelish

    But one short story a month (minimum) means I’ll get twelve done this year, so that should make a dent in the stack at last.

    Yes, but then the Evil Story Generator will give you more ideas. They come in as fast as you finish, like footprints in sand.

    On the other hand, that means more stories for us. I’m with eclectician; I really want to read “Kingspeaker” after that first line.

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