A pantster is a writer who ‘writes by the seat of their pants’ – i.e. doesn’t outline in advance. I’m a pantster, mostly, and I learned a long time ago that pantsters have to trust their subconscious. If that little voice says ‘no’ then we have to listen, even if that means deleting thousands of perfectly good words.
Today I deleted 3688 words from the second book of the Suns of Vokhtah. I replaced all those words with just 490. To give those 490 words some context, the MC, Kaati snuck into the Healers’ Settlement as a refugee, not knowing that refugees were locked up like caged animals. It needs to escape but the other refugees are too beaten down to help. Or so it thinks :
Kaati woke to the sound of voices raised in anger. Propping itself up on one elbow, it peered across at the lattice and saw that the Big Twin was shouting at a group of iVokh armed with buckets and baskets. Clearly, the drudges had arrived, and they were not happy.
Rising to its feet, the young Trader was edging closer to hear what they were arguing about when Hands appeared by its side.
“Wait!” the Refugee hissed, grabbing Kaati’s wing with one hand. “Drudges not wanting to take body. In case being contaminated. Insisting that Healers should being called.”
“Not being sick!” the Guard shouted as it flung open the door. “Seeing for self. Dying of wound.”
Two drudges entered and placed their loads on the sand before gingerly peering down at the still form lying on the ground. One of them nodded, albeit reluctantly, and the Guard retreated back down the tunnel.
“Getting ready,” Hands whispered as a small group of Refugees began drifting towards the door. Were they trying to escape?
Apparently not. As soon as the small group reached the baskets left by the drudges, they darted in and began cramming their mouths with food.
“Ho!” Hands shouted, its voice shrill. “Should sharing!”
“S’so!” Someone else cried.
The cry was quickly taken up by all the Refugees in the cavern, and in moments the area directly in front of the door was a pushing, heaving mass of angry iVokh.
“Guard!” a drudge shouted as it pushed inside, using its basket as a ram.
But the Refugees were in no mood to be intimidated. One tore the basket from the drudge’s hand while the others shoved it up against the lattice. The whole structure creaked and groaned as more and more iVokh pressed against it.
“Now!” Hands whispered as the space before the door suddenly cleared.
The two took off at a run but were still five wingspans from the opening when the Big Twin stormed into the cavern. Shrilling in fury, it began lashing out with its switch, and wherever the switch landed, iVokh keened in pain, Refugees and drudges alike.
They all fell back, except for Kaati. Ducking under the Big Twin’s arm, it grabbed the switch with one hand and a bunch of cilia with the other. And then it snapped the guard’s head down onto one bony knee. The iVokh was dead before its body hit the ground, delicate echo chamber smashed like an egg.
The young Trader roared in triumph as it brandished the switch in the air.
The drudges in the tunnel dropped their loads and fled. A moment later, a bone jarring crash came from behind.
Spinning around, the young Trader saw a band of iVokh pour over the fallen lattice. At their head was Hands. The two locked eyes for a moment before Kaati turned and ran after the drudges.
It felt good to be a hunter once more.
Despite losing so many words, this scene was very…therapeutic to write. This is the music that drove the words:
For those who are interested, LiquidCinema is a music production company similar to Two Steps From Hell, but not as well known to listeners. I’ve just discovered their music myself, and I’m totally in love.
Now I’m going to log on to ESO and kill some different kinds of monsters.