Usually, that’s hard to answer, but this time I know exactly where it started: with an opening line. From the depths of my subconscious, this line (in a rougher form) popped into my head:
Pimchan’s Female did the unthinkable–she burst through the workout room doorway, knocking over the rosewood filigree screen, and entered her Mistress’ practice arena uninvited.
“Oh, really?” I thought. “Izzat so?” So I wrote down the line and thought about it. Pimchan sounded kind of … not Chinese, but…. Turns out (thank you, Internet!) it’s a female name from Thailand. So I poked around sites about Thailand and got some cool weaponry ideas.
But this wasn’t Thailand. But it wasn’t, like, Bilbofantasyland, either. The Female knocked over a screen. Hmmm…. They don’t have doors; they use screens to block their doorways. Huh.
Something urgent is going on, because the Female did the unthinkable.
“It’s your Male. They took him! They came over the back wall right into the garden. They tried to take me, too, but I was farther from the wall. They’re gone–he’s gone.”
“What’s this with The Female and The Male?” Slaves? But I don’t like slavery, if I may understate my case. And why would the mighty Pimchan care if a slave got taken? But why would anybody steal a warrior’s slave? And why wouldn’t the Male fight and get away?
“Because they’re children.” Children?
So now, because I’ve had children, The Female is judgmental.
Pimchan heard the unspoken sentence: You can catch them if you hurry!
She replied aloud, “A Warrior moves quickly, but never hurries.”
She inspected the blood on the wall, rubbing the runes tattooed on her own shaven head to help sharpen her vision.
“Say what? Tattoos on her bald head?” Maybe because I read a book with a warrior woman with long hair and sexy tattoos, Pimchan’s tattoos were not sexy, but hard-core tough lady ones on her scalp. Ouch.
So that’s how it goes. I come up with something stupid, then I have to figure out how to unstupidfy it. Assuming, of course, that I succeed, which is always a matter of taste and opinion.
That’s why I call myself a Panther, not a Plotter or a Pantser: I vacillate between pulling stuff out of my
ass head and figuring out what’s the best thing for that stuff to mean.
A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: Read Harry Kemelmen’s “A Nine Mile Walk” or watch this short film to see how to tease assumptions out of random bits of things.