Sound of Silence

Day 1

Saren awoke to the sound of silence.

Of course there was always the hum of the Virial’s systems. But these noises were so familiar he had to invest conscious effort into really hearing them. This morning, there was absolutely nothing else. No baretaloned footsteps. No humming of popular alien tunes. No dinging of plates and utensils. No groaning while weight-lifting. And later, there would be no sweaty smell in the commons, no unwashed dishes, no scratch-marks on the floors.

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An End is Like a Little Death

Last night I finished a novel that I started writing more than seven years ago. It wasn’t the first, or the last novel that I wrote with enthusiasm up to the 90% mark just to burn out on the last hundred yards. I am, of course, happy that I finished it. It’s a quiet kind of happiness: not the kind to make one jump up and down and clap their hands with glee, but more like relief that something that was wrong has finally been righted. I’m also hopeful that it means I might some day finish my other abandoned works and lighten the load of debt and guilt they’ve been weighing me down with.

But at the same time, I’m sad. Sad that it’s done and in a way — gone. A story is born inside the author’s mind, and there it grows and shifts and changes, and so long as it’s not written, it has a peculiar freedom to go in different directions, a potential to develop in different ways. The act of writing turns it from imagination to banal reality and thereby robs it of some of its magic. Infinite possibilities collapse into imperfect words. In a way, a story dies as it’s created.

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An Exercise in Self-Critique

A few weeks back, I was exposed to a Tumblr meme inviting writers to extract the first line from their ten latest works and see if some pattern will emerge. I accepted the challenge and indeed found some patterns — none of which are good. At about the same time, I started regularly listening to the marvelous writing podcast, Death Of 1000 Cuts (“making you an awesome writer one cut at a time!”) produced by the novelist, creative writing teacher and stand-up poet, Tim Clare. Among other things, this podcast features refreshingly honest and incredibly illuminating critiques of story beginnings submitted by courageous novice writers.

Thus inspired, I decided to make a series of posts in which I’ll take a critical look at the beginnings of some of my own stories. I’ll keep the excerpts under 250 words, and I’ll paste them whole before taking them apart one sentence at a time.

The first victim: Ghost in the Machine.

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A New Mass Effect Fic: Conference Transcript 159

Conference Transcript 159 is a redo of a sexy Saren/Nihlus flash-fic titled “Fluff” that I posted elsewhere a long time ago. It’s a bit of an experiment in form, consisting of pure dialog. I had a lot of fun writing it and hopefully you’ll enjoy it too.

Image: excerpt from Do Not Stand at my Grave and Weep by MisfireAnon

This is not the fic that I hinted at in the previous post.

You can also read it at AO3.

Conference Transcript 159

…………….isVoice: true,
…………….isUserVerified: true,
…………….userID: encrypted,
…………….userPermissions: Environment.Permissions.Admin,
…………….inputStream: InputStreams.Audio.StandardAudio,
…………….out parsedInput: “Play it again.”);

……………..outputStream: OutputStreams.Audio.FromStorage,
……………..storageID: “Conference Transcript 159”,
……………..titleOptions: TitleOptions.TitlesFromAASR & TitleOptions.ShowTimes & TitleOptions.ShowProbability & TitleOptions.StreamToEyepieceOnly,
……………..streamingOptions: OutputOptions.StreamToEarpieceOnly,
……………..volumeOptions: OutputOptions.AutoVolumeRegulation,
……………..aasrOptions: AASROptions.TimeSeed & AASROptions.Algorithms.VelorDon &                 AASROptions.QueryForAdditionalOptions);

GST 02:24:15:16 Starting playback from index 00:00 with AASR titles; earpiece only.

00:00 [Humming of mass effect engines. P: 98%]

00:02 [Breathing of two persons. P: 98% Species: turian. P: 93% Gender: male. P: 89%]

00:12 [Moaning due to sexual activity. P: 52%]

GST 02:24:30:22 Query AASR threshold? default value 50; value type percent.

GST 02:24:30:23 Query AASR show best fit below threshold? false; default title “Unclassified sounds.”

00:16 [Unclassified sounds. P: 48%]

00:18 Kiss me.

00:20 Shut up.

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