Thursday, September 28, 2006

Yet another post about violence and profanity

Warning: This post contains graphic descriptions of injuries (and one two swearwords), and the Vas Internet Preview Board has classified it as "Slightly Gruesome".

Somewhere in my mind (and in the back of one of my many notebooks) the third and hopefully last part of the Trial is growing, and it's also cross-pollinating with the third Claire Parker/Life on Mars post for another blog I operate; there's a post on something that happened a couple of weeks ago that I should really write; and I'm still grinding out my novel, one bloody word at a time.

So why do I feel now's the time to write a new story?[1]

Let me talk about why I've not put up the first chapter of my novel yet, as it may give you some idea of what I'm thinking. I'm cribbing fairly heavily from Xenophon's Anabasis, a historical report of an expedition by Greek Mercenaries into Mespotamia as part of a civil war in the Persian empire. Now, if you've chosen to write about a war, you need to address violence; if you're loosely basing your soldiers on Greek hoplites, you need to write about melee combat. Melee combat is messy, hard work, dangerous and horrific. To write honestly and well about it, you need to squeeze some of these characteristics into your narative; to write about violence so well and so graphically, it is truely shocking.

People tend to swear at times like this, which is where the profanity comes in.

The first chapter of my novel is an attempt to write a violent action scene that is powerful and shocking. (I'm not quite there, but there would be another draft before it made it's way here). There's also just a touch of the whole honour, glory and exhilaration thing as well - the characters are mercenary volunteers, slightly in love with the romance of war. The problem is that that's all it is. No context. Just a long scene of fighting, mutilation, exhaustion, breaking bones, faces tearing open, hands being cut off, blood spurting from necks and groins, skulls caving in, legs being crippled, a magic sword and people saying "fuck" a lot.

Yeah, yeah, now you all want to read it.

[Update: I gave the first chapter a re-read after writing this post and made this note: More shit and piss; also blood, sweat, tears and other bodily fluids.]

Now I could give it context by putting more chapters up or I could jump straight to Chapter 2, but I don't feel up for redrafting any character-centred scenes right now (not until I have some idea how the characters are going to turn out later in the story).

As I said in the footnote, the story that keeps creeping into my notebook is related to the novel, although not part of it, as a character in the story can't appear explicitly in the novel. I might need to write the story to understand what happens in the middle of the novel. Also, as a complete story, the violence and swearing will be in context, or as much context as they're going to get anyway. So I'd really rather post that, except I have to write it first.

Of course, this is also a way of putting off writing the novel (and the other stuff mentioned at the top). Worse still, while writing this post, I'm putting off writing the story itself. Blogging: Self-centred, self-referential, narcissistic procrastination for the 21st Century.

[1] It's not very new; I've had the idea for some time, and it's a spin-off from the novel. But you get the idea

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