Friday, July 8, 2011


Thursday night. No. It's Friday now. Last day of the second to last week of Odyssey. Such a weird feeling. I've been here five weeks and they have gone by so fast. At the same time it feels like I've been away for months.

Today Gary Braunbeck guided us through alternative methods for building story and plot. He usually starts with an image.

A woman walks into a restaurant. She takes off her coat and lays it on the chair across from her, smoothing it down so it is draped in the contour of a man. Her wedding ring sits on her right index finger. As she sits down with the menu her hands are shaking.

Who is she? What is she doing there?

We came up with five or six scenarios, including spies, secret codes, fairies, shapeshifters, aliens, etc. Gary then mashed all these together and came up with a story that had elements of many genres but didn't truly belong in any one.

Forget genre! Focus on story! Our new mantra.

At this point the Djinni pointed out that maybe we were feeding Gary the plot to his next novel. From the look on his face this might actually be true.

Our crits were done quickly today. Then I got a severe case of cabin fever, and had to get out. The Commodore was kind enough to arrange a trip to Barnes & Noble, so off we went, Meta, Barbecue Man, Dundee and I. I bought two books and copies of a few magazines that publish short fiction, including Asimov's, where I will send my alien sf story.

After the bookstore I shaved my head. Now in mohawk mode, aided by the able hands of Djinni and Sarah Palin. Well...I just noticed it's off center, so maybe not so capable...

Then I attended the daily brainstorming sessions held in one of the apartments in the other house. Very interesting, to sit and throw out plot ideas and then have then torn apart and/or enhanced by all participants.

I floated my latest novel idea, about members of the Varangian Guard becoming involved in a plot to throw the Eastern Roman Empire and its capital Constantinople into chaos. This is just a loose idea at the moment, but I want to set it sometime between 900 and 1200 AD, and stay away from anything having to do with the Crusades. I want to focus on internal conflict in the Roman Empire and the arrival of dark powers in the city of Constantinople.

My fellow Odysseyians gave me some good input. I will intend more brainstorming sessions the coming week.

If I were to seriously focus on writing this novel, I would have to spend months and months doing research, which sounds kind of fun, so I might just start doing that when I come home. So many things to research.

What do you think? Would a viking story set in Constantinople, focused on politics, war and sorcery, be interesting?

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