Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Bored + Wine = Pantsing

My family is in China. My mum, my sister, her husband, and their kids. My sister is also my co-author, so I'm kind of at a loose end. (Although, I did completely rewrite our WIP with a different setting to see if it's better. I think it is, and it was important to do this now. Kath will probably sensibly think it could have waited until edits.) So I'm bored. The other night, feeling the urge to write something new, I sat down with a glass of wine. Then another glass of wine...you know how this goes! Anyway, the next morning when I read through what the alcohol fairies had written, this is what I found: 

Source: Flickr
     Mitchell can’t walk since they cut his hamstrings. The bandages have been on for three days now. The blood has soaked through them. They are brown like sepia, like coffee filters, like they are streaked with shit. They stink. He stinks. The whole shed stinks. 
     The wounds have turned septic. 
     That’s what you get, the Captain said, for trying to run. 
     I knew Mitchell’s face from Home. He ran with the pack from under the railway bridge. We had a truce with them. They were okay. I didn’t know Mitchell though, not until we got caught in the same hunt. 
     It was a moonless night. Those were always the most dangerous. It was cold as well, but my growling stomach drew me out to the water’s black edge, to the jagged skeletons of the jetties and the warehouses and the shipping containers; to the sharp smell of rust and saltwater. 
     The Men have electricity. They’ve got it in their guns. 
     When I heard the crunch of a boot on the gravel I spun around. I felt a pinch like wasp stings on my skin, and the moonlight caught on the wires that twisted back from me to the Man, that caught me like spider’s silk, like fishing line. My breath snagged in my throat, then click click click and the electricity ripped me apart. 
     My body wasn’t my body. Electricity sliced through every nerve ending. My muscles contracted. Pain tore through me. First it dropped me, then it held me tightly, and then it shook me. I made noises like an animal with a cut throat. I thought the Man was killing me. 
     Even when it was over, when I was lying on the gravel and the man was tying my wrists and ankles, I couldn’t stop twitching. Like the old man from the T-House whose fingers trembled like every day was winter. 
     I blinked away hot tears and looked up at the Man in the darkness. He wore a helmet with protruding black goggles attached to it that took up most of his face. The top half of his face was an insect’s face, a robot’s face, a nightmare’s face.  The bottom half was smooth and angular, and his lips were curled into a smile as he reached down for me. 
     I couldn’t struggle. The electricity had broken me. 
     I couldn’t even look around to see if Pax had got away. Had the Man seen her? Fizz would never forgive me if Pax got caught because of me. Not Pax. She was our best thing ever. 
     I whimpered as the ghost of the electricity teased my jerking muscles and bit at my shocked nerves. 
     The Man dragged me to the truck and hauled me into it, and I lay on the floor in the back and shook. Mitchell was already there. He wasn’t called Mitchell then. They put our names on us when they drove us back to the Settlement. 
     When the truck engine roared, my leaking hot tears became a flood.
     At least they didn’t get Pax. At least Pax is okay. 
     There were four Men in the back of the truck. The one who had caught me, I learned later, was the Captain. Even when I didn’t know that I knew that he was the most important Man in the group. The other Men looked to him. 
     Shafts of torchlight burned my eyes. 
     The Captain gazed down at Mitchell first, at his rust-coloured hair that hung in thorny tangles halfway down his back, and at the big, scared eyes that stared out of his dirty face. 
     “Mitchell,” he said, and then said it again. “Mitchell.” 
     Mitchell shrank back against me. We knocked against each other as the truck bounced over the broken-up road. 
     I didn’t know what the Captain was doing until he turned his narrow gaze on me. He shone a torch in my face, and smiled. “Ryan. Ryan.” 
     That’s not my name, but I learned to answer to it. 
     It took less than a day. 

God, I love pantsing. I've been trying to be disciplined, and going back to wild abandoned pantsing was like stumbling across a packet of cigarettes a week after I quit. So bad, but so very, very good. 

Pantsing, my secret love.

Anyway, I have no idea where this one is going, but I'm not going to ask it difficult questions. It's going to be my happy place when my brain aches from plotting. 


  1. "It's going to be my happy place when my brain aches from plotting."

    Love this line and this notion.

  2. This was vicious, but I liked it! And, I agree with Hektor. :)

  3. If this is the way you write when your family goes to China, I hope they go there more often.

  4. I wish I could type that well drunk. And the story is wow! The only thing I have to ask is did you weed out any typos? My curiosity is dying that if I practice more I could type better after having wine.

  5. I "pantsed" for the very first time last week when I really needed to get myself inspired to start my next novel. Though it needs some serious editing, I loved the experience and what I wrote will definitely be the first chapter.

    Still, I'm a plotter, so onward I go with my outline. *sigh*

  6. Wine + pantsing + alone time = happy writer. :)

  7. @ Hektor: I definitely needed a happy place from plotting. I am not a naturally organised person at all!

    @ Maggie, thanks! I do some quite nasty things to my characters, and I couldn't even tell you what's going on here! I'm sure the Men have got a reason, and they'll let me know in good time!

  8. @ MC, and the longer they're in China, the more presents I get, right? Win/win!

    @ Steph, I weeded out a few typos! I'm a bad typist at the best of time, but throw in a few glasses of wine and I get very abstract indeed!

    @ Nancy, I have the greatest respect for people who can outline. I'm just not one of them!

    @ LG: Oh yes!

  9. Hmm... I've never tried DRUNKEN pantsing before. Maybe that's why it never works for me!

    Perhaps this weekend I'll sit down with a bottle of wine (or two!) and my laptop. :)

  10. Hm I liked it.
    Would like to know where it's going too.

  11. @ Katy, I'm not sure if a doctor would recommend it as a healthy lifestyle choice, but it's worked for me so far!

    @ natz, I'd like to know where it's going as well. That's the fun thing about pantsing!

  12. AH! I need a glass of wine and a smoke. Oh wait, I've already got a glass of wine... he he he.

    This was some great writing, Jen. Sepia-septic (such a nice unitentional--or perhaps intentional--juxtaposition there), the repetition, the concrete images..Fantastic.

    Wine was created for a reason. So was your pantsing! Enjoy all you can!

  13. I don't like those men at all. This was a great excerpt, dark and tense.

    I was pantsing this summer, and it was a strange feeling since I usually outline, but I came up with something that I normally don't write. I need to continue with it. I might do an outline since I'm stuck. At least I have the beginning down.

  14. That's some pretty clever creating over a glass of wine. Halloween must be in the air.

    Tossing It Out

  15. Funny where the wine takes us, no? :)

  16. Thanks, Golden Eagle!

    @ Jes: I didn't notice the sepia/septic until you pointed it out. But I will pretend it was all intentional and clever!

    @ Medeia, thanks! Pantsing is fantastic, really, as long as you go in with absolutely no expectations. And I'm thinking I will probably do an outline here, at least a vague one, to give it some direction.

    @ Arlee, thanks!

    @ Libby, it's never steered me wrong yet! Mind you, the day I wake up in the watchhouse hugging a traffic cone and wearing different pants is the day that I cut back, regardless of how creative my writing gets...

  17. Oh - I so liked the sepia and the coffee filters and the shit.

  18. Wow! That is some great stuff, Jen! All it needs are some rabid possums. Seriously, I would so totally read more of this!

    Marian Allen
    Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

  19. @ Thanks, Pauline. Although that sounds really weird, you know!

    Marian, No, no possums! It's dystopia, not horror! :)



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