Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Golden Night, Part One

Chapter One

My family has always been a family of weavers. As far back as anyone can remember, we’ve dealt in cloth. But now the cloth is gone from beneath my fingertips. So I will weave a story.
Alethia stepped quickly through the wet streets, avoiding both the large puddles every few feet and the curious glances from the passersby. She drew her coat more tightly around her slim frame to avoid the looks pointed at her waist, where a sash of golden fabric rested, shining in the pale morning light. Although her coat, shabby in comparison, kept out the cold, it could not hide the sparkling fabric, which drew looks from the townspeople who had never seen her in more than her roughly-spun country clothes. But she had to look her best today; she was going to see the king.
     Remembering her mission, she held her head high and advanced up the slick palace steps. She heard the muted hum of people just inside the doors, many awed by the grandeur of the entrance hall. Once a month, the king heard petitions from the people of the kingdom, often traveling to different regions to hear the people who could not come to the capital city. He was a good king, admired by the people. Rumors had spread that he had recently fallen ill, but he held court nevertheless.
     “What is your petition?” A tall man wearing the robes of a palace servant looked down his nose at her, pen poised over an official-looking stack of papers.
     Alethia was a loss for words. She had planned to explain her situation to the king, and ask for help. She didn’t know what to say to this goat-faced man. She had never needed to petition the king for help before. But now everything had changed; her family was ruined, and she had come into the city not knowing what to expect.
     “I… I suppose I’ve come for a job,” she stammered, saying the first thing that came to mind.
     “Well you needn’t have come to the king for that,” the man said, “but very well. Your name?”
     “Alethia, sir.” The man nodded, and she stepped into line with the other petitioners. She supposed the list would be delivered to the king, so that he would have some idea of what each person wanted. She admitted to herself that it was a very efficient system, although the king might have hired someone a bit nicer to write the list.
     Bouncing on the balls of her feet, she fidgeted nervously. However, as the minutes turned into hours, and the line moved forward as slowly as ever, her restless energy settled into a lump in the pit of her stomach. She had been one of the last people accepted into the line, and with few people behind her, she saw only the line in front of her stretching down the long hallway and disappearing around the corner. And who knew how long it went on after that? Several times she considered turning back, but each time she talked herself into staying, remembering her decision that this was her best chance.
     Finally she stepped through the grand doors leading to the receiving room. She saw that the rumors had apparently some basis in fact; although younger than Alethia had expected, the king looked very ill. There were guards on either side of the throne as well as a royal advisor standing next to the him. It seemed to take an eternity for Alethia to reach the throne. She curtseyed deeply.
     “You are Alethia, correct?” The advisor spoke first. Alethia saw that he was holding the list of petitions.
     “Yes, sir.”
     “I see you would like a job. What can you do?”
     “I work with cloth sir.” He throat felt dry. She wanted to tell her entire story, of the fire and the destruction of her family’s home and all the cloth they could not salvage. But she was afraid to say another word.
     “I see. That’s a very fine sash you have there. Did you weave it?”
     “No sir. It’s been in my family for generations.”
     “Golden cloth.” The king spoke for the first time. His voice was soft, and he closed his eyes as he spoke. “Just like in the old stories.” Alethia began to feel vaguely unnerved, although she didn’t know quite why. Perhaps it was the king’s slow, soft words. Perhaps it was because he didn’t seem to be completely lucid. Perhaps it was the way the king’s advisor kept staring at her, eyes flicking from her face to her sash and back again.
     “Let us create a story, Nukta,” the king said. “She shall make her golden cloth for us. If she creates cloth as fine as the sash around her waist, she shall be rewarded greatly. If not, she… What would make a good story, Nukta? Shall we exile her?”
     “Your majesty shall of course make the decision, but I propose some stronger incentive. I believe the old tales preferred threats of death if the task is not completed.”
     Alethia stared at him in horror. Was this man proposing to kill her if she did not create the golden cloth? And the king – was he so far gone that he accepted this? She tried to protest, but the king cut her off.
     “Yes, Nukta. We shall create a tale. We shall create a tale no one will ever forget.”

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Even I admit that this break has gone on for a ridiculously long time...

Being a very busy person, The Politick apparently decided to completely disappear from the blogosphere for a couple of weeks. I've been chomping at the bit to get back to the story, but it's her turn to write, and I also didn't want to continue before I got a chance to discuss the changes we made. So I started casting around for story ideas I could work on myself, because I had fun writing for this blog every night, and hopefully you readers had fun reading new segments. I found one that seems promising, so I'm going to start writing that one, at least until The Politick gets back. I'm a little nervous about starting this story, because it would be so easy to mess up; I have an idea in my head of how I want it to be, and I'm not sure I can put that into words. But it's worth a try.
So until tomorrow,

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Rudolph and Isadora Word Cloud

Today, Scott Westerfeld posted a Word Cloud of his upcoming book, Goliath. In his words, "Word clouds (made easy by the lovely and clever people at Wordle) are graphic representations of which words appear, and how often, in your novel, blog, or whatever. The words are sized, of course, in relation to how many times they pop up. Word clouds great for spotting words that a writer uses too often, like my terrible habit of people frowning before they say something, or my once-rampant obsession with the word 'effulgent.'"

I thought it would be fun to make a word cloud of Rudolph and Isadora (or what we have of it so far).

(click to enlarge)

Having Rudolph and Isadora as the largest words of the bunch are perfectly normal - the story is about them, after all. There are a few words that The Politick and I are going to try out weed out, though. "Just" is far larger than it should be, and "like" sticks out too (not sure whether that is overuse of similes or simply misuse of like, but we'll keep an eye out either way). There are a couple other noticeable words that will hopefully get smaller as we continue editing and as the story goes on.

We'll get back to writing new segments soon! Our editing break is almost done.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Gone Editing

We're still editing away like crazy, so we haven't gotten back to the story quite yet. We'll be back soon though, and we'll let you know if we made any major changes so that everything is clear from here on out. We're mostly working on making sure nothing is contradictory (that happens quite a bit with two authors),  everything flows well (so it doesn't seem choppy where one person ends and the other starts), and giving our characters much more depth. By the way, double spaced in a Word document, our story is over 20 pages already!
Pica and the Politick