The Seeds of Worlds #amwriting

SwordAndSorceress23 coverI mentioned yesterday that I introduced a set of characters in a story for MARION ZIMMER BRADLEY’S SWORD AND SORCERESS 23. That got me thinking about where that first Pimchan story came from.

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.


I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but now live in the woods in southern Indiana. Though I only write fiction, I love to read non-fiction. The more I learn about this world, the more fantastic I see it is.

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One thought on “The Seeds of Worlds #amwriting

  1. Dan

    February 22, 2016 at 7:00am

    I didn’t realize “unstupidfy” was a word. It is, and more people need to know how to do it.

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  2. Jane

    February 22, 2016 at 8:34am

    Great stream of unconsciousness going on there!

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  3. A.C.Flory

    February 22, 2016 at 4:44pm

    Thank you, Marian, you’ve finally give me a name I can live with too – Panther. That’s exactly how my writing works too. In fact I was thinking about this very thing yesterday – my ideas tend to come in small, casual, almost throw-away spurts. I put them in because…why not? And then chapters or half a book later one of those casual ideas begins to grow and grow.

    Usually these little ideas grow into motivation, but they can also lead to world building. Wherever they end up, I’ve learned not to dismiss them when they dump on the doorstep of my conscious brain.

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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      February 22, 2016 at 6:06pm

      I just LOVE it when a throwaway turns out to be important! It keeps even an outlined story fun and surprising to write. 🙂

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      • A.C.Flory

        February 23, 2016 at 2:51am

        I know! It’s almost scary how the subconscious works.

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  4. Alana

    February 23, 2016 at 6:18am

    I loved this peek into the beginning of the story writing process. Shared! And will share again on my weekly blog roundup Sunday.

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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      February 23, 2016 at 7:39am

      Thanks, Alana! This is only one way a story starts and grows. But it always depends on whatever’s inside you, or whatever you can find and make your own. Sometimes it’s hard, but it must be fun, or why would anyone do it? 😀

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