Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Writing exercise #1: inner peace

I've been writing this blog for over two years now and I find myself short on things to say... partly because I hate repeating myself and I've never liked short blog posts that don't say anything meaningful. So let's try something different this week.

The internet's full of writing prompts and exercises, and I've never used them. It hasn't been how I write: for me, it's a very deliberate process where the spontaneity is limited to the moments that I'm standing beside my characters writing down what they do. I thought I'd try a few in the context of my current (hard sci fi) WIP, which has been giving me some trouble. 

This writing prompt comes to us from Poets & Writers: Fiction writers know that conflict drives plot. Tension and drama imbue life into our characters and propel their stories forward. Human nature, however, craves tranquility and clarity. Write five hundred words describing your protagonist at peace—truly one with the universe, even if only for several seconds. Perhaps your character is sitting on a park bench and staring at a bruised cloud, or on a crowded subway car listening to the rails below, or walking out of a cemetery with a beer in hand. Peace is unique to everyone.

“Hang me, this time,” Shen said as he dropped to his knees. “Like you hang Radovan.”

Jezebel tossed down two of the skeins of rope and unwound the third slowly. She measured out several long loops before answering. “Are you ready for that? I’d have to bind your wrists.”

His nerves skittered under his skin. The snug embrace of rope, though, and the freedom of the air… it had been too long since he’d been in null gravity and felt that. “It’s the closest to zero gee I can get.”

The rope softly hissed, sliding through Jez’s dark hands. She nodded. “We’ll try it, then.”

Shen spread his arms and closed his eyes. The first loop of rope settling across the back of his neck released a sigh from him. First time Jez had bound him, she’d put a loop around one wrist and fear had lashed up out of him. Animal fear. Primal need to escape. He’d suffered too much while zip-tied by his wrists.

But the familiar progress of snug coils of rope looping around his chest and knots drawing them snug eased Shen’s mind. The gentle pressure evened out his breath and dropped his heart rate. His skittering nerves, still antsy at the thought of binding his wrists, slowed.

He could trust Jez. She only tied him as he asked. Checked on him to be sure he was comfortable. Freed him before there was any risk of limited circulation. It would be the same with his wrists. He was strong enough to let his hands be tied. Didn’t fear his own helplessness anymore.

Jez had never beaten him, even when she first bought his indenture and he was just “a pile of broken glass and frayed wire,” as Radovan had said. Shen trusted her.

When she reached Shen’s waist, Jez dropped the remaining rope and fetched a set of D-rings. Those had to be worked into the harness, one at the small of his back and one between his shoulder blades. Jez ran the ropes under the crotch of Shen’s shorts and up his back, lacing them into the coils there and anchoring the second ring.

“Let’s try a dragonfly sleeve, rather than Radovan’s arrangement,” Jez murmured. “Arms before you.”

Shen held out his long arms, fists touching. Jezebel began with loops over his shoulders and worked slowly. Fat knots anchored pairs of loops at precise intervals. The loops bound his upper arms together. Then his elbows.

He closed his eyes when a broken-glass blade of fear slid past him. Felt Jezebel hesitate. He held steady, safe in his snug harness, and she continued. Two more knots and loops, one for his forearms and one for his wrists.

Jagged bits of memories rumbled inside him. Pain from kickings, from tasers. The grind of hunger and fear. The rope stifled those bits. Dulled their edges.

Distantly, Shen felt the carabiners click into the two D-rings on his harness. A motor purred and lifted him off his knees. He rocked to horizontal, facing the floor, and swung gently with his bound arms hanging downward.

Zero gee, or close enough. Close enough to free.

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