Friday 16 September 2011

Godstorm epilogue: Clear Skies

The Godstorm so far...
Part 1 - Clouds like Murder
Part 2 - Wailing Winds
Part 3 - Blood Rain
Part 4 - Dark Thunder
Part 5 - Bright as Lightning
And now, the Godstorm has blown over. The epilogue, Clear Skies

Ephea remembers little of his fight with Brattur. Whatever he did must have been enough, though. Certainly it was enough to see Elenor live, and honour her word.

Even with the return of Kraius he has been set free. He is Godska no more.

As he walks the streets of Vallya, heading for the gates and the outside world, the air feels clear, light. Before the murder there was an oppressive tension in the air, the gods could feel the coming storm, even as Kraius had foreseen it, though maybe not as clearly as Kraius had.

How Kraius returned is a mystery to him. He saw the godking die, witnessed the frenzy of the black shrikes. But, much like his life before he entered Kraius’ service, the events of the funeral are unclear, like the spectre of a memory. And no one has enlightened him.

Haftagg and Vorka seem to have some regard for him now. After he announced he would be leaving Vallya, the two gods of light, in turn, had grasped his hand and pulled him close, slapping his back in a warriors’ farewell. Even Shin and So, in their inscrutable bone masks, had bowed deeply; Ephea felt moved, it was as much emotion as he had ever seen from them before.

Kraius simply nodded gravely at his decision to walk the world, but Ephea had the feeling he approved. Elenor had smiled at him, quite fondly, he thought, though she was not his mother, and that had puzzled him the most. Maybe he had more of his father’s appearance than whoever his mother had been.

It was something to ponder, anyway, something to roll around in his mind as his meandered about the world. He wondered if he would find a purpose, a place, but he was in no hurry. He felt rejuvenated after his recuperation, revitalised. He took a deep breath, set the gods and their politics to his back and strolled down the slope, smiling, to his future.

Godstorm in a tea cup
On publishing a serial for the first time

One of the things I didn’t expect from writing a serial was the anxiety. There is freedom in writing a lone slice of flash fiction, each story is a fresh start. If someone likes it, they like it, if they don’t, well, next week there will be something different. I’m a notorious genre hopper, and I like to think that at some point I will hit the right genre/ story combo to please everyone (not everyone at the same time, but across the body of my work).

(Also, I’m not really notorious, not enough people read me, but I could be... ;) )

With a serial, you are tied to a genre (for the most part). Certainly, with Godstorm, if I’d broken out the rocket ships I think people would have shied away. This feels a little claustrophobic. Especially given that the next story (six parts, also) is something like supernatural suspense. That’s twelve weeks with nary a sign of science fiction! Much like in my reading, if I stay away from writing SF for too long, I get itchy...

The other factor I wasn’t expecting was the expectation. In two senses.

The first is concerned with direction. People will expect the story to go in a certain direction (and, of course, different people will expect it to go different ways). Now, if they spot your plot ahead of time, you run the risk of not being exciting as a writer, and if you go somewhere unexpected, it has to be better than what the reader was expecting, because otherwise you’re letting them down. I hope I achieved this with Godstorm, I hope no one saw it coming, that my hints were subtle enough but not too subtle, and, more importantly, I hope the twist was satisfying.

The second sense of expectation is one of fulfilling a promise. This is related to direction, but this is the side that leads to anxiety. Once part one is out there, and people like it, the following parts have something to live up to. There is a commitment you are making to those who come back for the second, and subsequent, parts. They are reading your story, and coming back for more, and in return you must honour that commitment and continue to entertain them.

Before posting I was full of fear that I was committing myself to six weeks of flash that nobody might like. Once I got some really great responses to part one, I was filled with the fear of letting people down. My twist, which I knew from the beginning, was unconventional and I was worried that people might be enjoying the more conventional fantasy aspects but not appreciate the twist; that I would fail to meet my side of the commitment. At the time of writing I’ve received some really positive responses to the twist... I just hope everyone liked it as much.

My main regret with Godstorm is in the rushing from beginning to end, with so little middle. Maybe the storm should have had an eye, a moment of tense calm in the middle. A fantasy author once told me that writing is like music, it has to have its crescendos, and its bold forte moments, but it needs the quiet moments too. In hindsight, I can see the potential ‘middle’ for building characters and intrigue, multiple suspects, instead of introducing and revealing my villain in the same part. But this was Ephea’s story really... and besides, all that other stuff? That’s the book, isn’t it? ;)

I can’t see me not revisiting these characters. Even if the book never gets written I should think there will be more serialised flashes. Elenor’s history (Anjelstorm), Kraius and Elenor meeting, defeating the Star Father (Starstorm), revealing Khao as a traitor (Demonstorm), and, of course, the upcoming war - what parts Kraius, Elenor and Ephea play in the Dragonstorm... (you notice a theme there... this is your weather warning... ;) )

For now though, I set the gods and their politics to my back, and stroll off, smiling, into the future. I hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as I have. =)

Fifteen Feathers will start in two weeks time, next week I will be posting two stories to Xeroverse: 101, to celebrate cracking 100 followers on twitter. Both based on prompts from followers. =)


  1. A pleasing epilogue for Ephea. :) I hope he enjoys his wanderings and will come back and tell us about Dragonstorm! ;)

    I totally understand expectations and promises. I've gotten good reviews on my recent series so far so I'm a little worried that I'll somehow disappoint. Unfortunately I haven't planned out the story so even I don't know what's coming next. :)

    With Godstorm I'm pretty sure everyone eagerly waited for the next part of the story week to week. :)

    I will definitely be back for Fifteen Feathers.

  2. A nice wrap-up to the story John, it's always good to see the hero walk off into the sunset, thus leaving the opportunity for more.

    I can really relate to what you are saying in "Godstorm in a teacup" you hit on very salient points there, but I think maybe you put yourself under more brain-pain than you ought to. I believe there are certain points for any writer to bear in mind.

    Not everyone will like what you write.
    Some people will like nothing that you write.
    People who DO like what you write, won't like EVERYTHING that you write.

    No matter how hard you try... Ya can't please 'em all. :-)

  3. Thanks Zaiure, Steve. Really happy you both enjoyed it to the end. =)

    You know I'm enjoying your series so far, Zaiure. =)

    And good points, Steve. I think I'm just a bit of an idealist, a bit of an optimist... when I'm not worrying... ;)

  4. The epilogue was fine, and I loved getting the weather warnings; yes, I can see how this could unfurl in so many directions, and all of them sound equally intriguing at this time.

    I have no advice. I will only say this: I've been upfront about writing fanfic, that I wrote scads of it for years. And the majority was written -- as most of the longer pieces are in fandom (all of them) -- one chapter at a time, then posted. The anxiety you felt does go away the more you do this sort of thing, ALTHOUGH, the biggest lesson I learned from doing it was to write the entire thing first and then post a chapter a week. It really results in a stronger story, I feel.

    But doing anything more makes you better at it, as you know. So... more serials, my friend! I certainly enjoyed this one.

  5. Intriguing epilogue. I somehow missed this series, but I'll be going back and starting from the beginning.

  6. I think you ended this adventure just perfectly. I liked that the hero was content to be himself. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading this serial.

    I liked what you wrote about how you felt about writing a serial. Some of what you said applies to myself, the idea that one has to constantly keep the reader entertained and wanting more - I hope I am achieving this with my own serial. I, like you, like to genre hop but I have also completed a novel which is fantasy - that's a genre I have no trouble staying in!

    I will look forward to reading more of you work.

  7. Thank you, Rebecca. =)
    I had a pretty strong idea to follow through to the end on this one, and the next one, the third one I'm floundering on a little bit. I was trying for a more multi-threaded serial and it's much more of a challenge than having one clear path to follow.

    Thanks, Chuck. I hope you enjoy the whole thing. =)

    And thank you, Helen. Well, I'm enjoying your serial so far, and you definitely have a knack for keeping up the suspense. I hope you like my next one just as much. =D

  8. Hi there John -- nice wrap to the story: Ephea wasn't consumed, he goes on and out, into the rest of the world. :)

    Writing serial stories is most assuredly a strange thing -- I can identify. I'll likely do a similar summary post when (by-hook-or-by-crook) I get to the end of Black Door.

    But, I guess, that: (1) you must be able and willing to take risks if you want to expand your horizons, or you'll end up unfulfilled in your writing, and (2) readers often don't see what you see as part of the creative process.

    While George Lucas (in film land) is constantly reworking the original Star Wars films, he forgets his audience liked them for what they were, not for what he intended.

    So here, I think, you can relax a little: you can only express yourself as best you can and people will hopefully take that at face value.

    I was thoroughly entertained,

    Roll on the next one :)


  9. Thank you, Stephen. =)

    Well, the next few serials are quite different things, so definitely expanding my horizons with each of those. It is strange, but it is fun at the same time, the one I'm currently working on (after 15 feathers) has become this great meandering mass, so we'll see what becomes of that, it's unlike me to work without a strong goal in mind...

    I find the whole Star Wars thing quite interesting. And I think you've hit the nail on the head, but at the same time, when an author releases their 'preferred text' it's generally a celebrated thing, but Lucas' tinkering is a considered a bad thing. (Although the difference is arguably one of the quality of the final product, I suspect... ;) )

    Here's to keeping folk entertained. Cheers! =D

  10. Just caught up after vacation & business trip. This was FRACKIN' AWESOME! I don't know why you thought there might be a problem — I wrote a serial that ran over 100 episodes in total and people tell me they read the whole shebang in one sitting on occasion.

    The music simile is apt. I've been told that the important parts of a piece are the beginning and the end — hook 'em with the beginning and deliver at the end, and the middle can meander some. If I have any criticism at all, it would be the same as yours, an "eye of the storm" would have been appreciated. But that's the selfish reader speaking, wanting more always more.

    I'm glad to hear there will be other pieces in this universe. It truly soars.

  11. Ah, wow, thank you, FAR. =)

    That's, well, that's a really great response. =) Middles have always been the bits of stories I'm not so good with, the bits I really need to work on. But... one day. =)

  12. I liked this. I always get excited when it feels like I'm glimpsing a world, rather than just a story, that everything is rich with its own history.

    You know I think this would work well as a graphic novel, it kinda felt like I was reading one at times...

  13. I have to agree with Peter that this would make a fun graphic novel. My feeling is that in web serials the muddle in the middle doesn't work as well. I think that is partially because it is read with a number of other stories.

    My feeling on expectations is that there is a difference between setting the expectation of the world (i.e. resolving the story with Ephea pulling out a rocket launcher) and the expectation of what will happen. If you break the first, I will be annoyed. Some readers demand that you break the latter. I am likely in the minority, but I'm okay with knowing where a story will go. I think where this advice is typically used is to make sure you keep the story such that it could go either way. Even then, give me interesting characters and an interesting world and I'll happily follow along.

  14. Thank you, Peter. =)
    I always try to build a bigger world than the wordcount, glad it worked. =)

    I would kinda like to write graphic novels, one day. Who knows where this might end up. =)

    And thanks, Aidan. =)
    I'm working on a collaborative project right now (early days) which, if it comes about, will be a big, meandering type serial, so that'll be my first experience of trying that kind of thing, should be interesting. =)