Back Half of the Week Writing: Amara Valda, Aspiring Author

“Thither came Steel-Gray Saoirse: a traveller, a wanderer, a warrior. A woman of wiles and strong arms. Of valour and of errantry.”

Now, I think “Secretly a Dork” was always something I intended for Amara, though I even imagined it’d end up becoming so prominent. But I’m really digging this new aspect of her personality, so I’ve decided to lean into it.

So, here’s Amara’s first attempt at spinning a Fantasy yarn.

“I’ve done it, Katherine!” Amara declares happily. “I’ve finished my manuscript.”

Kat glances down at the Elf’s fingernails.

“You should get your money back,” Kat notes from her couch. “Your nails look exactly the same.”

“Manuscript, Katherine,” Amara says. “Not manicure. I’ve written a story!”

She sets down the pile of pages on the table in front of Kat’s beloved plaid couch.

“Do I have to do anything?” Kat asks cautiously.

“I suppose the least you could do is read it, Katherine,” Amara says. “Well, the least you could do is nothing, but — oh no, don’t you dare, Katherine!” she adds hastily, watching Kat begin to roll over the couch into her napping position.

“Come now, Katherine,” Amara says. “Don’t disappoint me.”

In her haste to get onto the couch, Amara almost smooshes a thoroughly bemused Kat. Kat yelps and rolls to avoid her friend’s heedless descent onto the cushions.

“I’ve been meeting with Mr. Morton and Mrs. Strahlend for writing advice these last few weeks,” Amara explains. “They really are quite fascinating individuals, and I do believe after all that talk with them, I’ve been bitten by the Writing Bug, Katherine. I decided to have a go at it. And, well, here she is, the very first literary heroine.”

She grins and slides the stack of pages closer to Kat.

Kat picks up the title page. “Well,” she mutters, let’s see here. “Steel-Grey…” She falters as she stares at the name staring back at her from the page. “So… Sa… Sao… Show?

She looks up desperately at her friend.

“Amara, help!”

Saoirse, Katherine,” Amara explains. “It’s pronounced Sure-Sha. She’s from a fantastical version of Carog. And, well, I needed a name that started with S.”

“So, we’ve got Steel-Grey … Sure-Sha,” Kat says, reading over the title page again. “A story by Amara Gemina Valda.”

“Read it, Katherine,” Amara urges. “Read it!”

“Wait. Is this a Krimson Katja-type thing?” Kat asks. “I always figured you’d be more likely to write something like Bridgewalton Priory.”

Amara flips her hair. “What I can say? I’m a woman of eclectic taste?”

Kat reaches for Amara’s story and starts to read:

“After the oceans drank the Isles of Atlantida, countless gleaming kingdoms scattered like stars across the Continent of Enniwere. Thither came Steel-Gray —

Kat licks her lips intently and forces herself to get the name right.

“— Sure-Sha: a traveller, a wanderer, a warrior. A woman of wiles and strong arms. Of valour and of errantry. Beautiful and yet deadly as the blossoms of the nightshade that blooms along the coasts of the great Middle Sea. Clad she was from her neck to her toes in gleaming steel armour, so that naught but her face and her long, flowing hair was bare.

Kat looks up at Amara.

“I have a feeling that’s because you still don’t really like Krimson Katja’s outfits,” she muses.

Amara turns her nose up indignantly.

“Hmph. Based on Mr. Morton’s experiences, illustrators are clearly not to be trusted. It seems I needs must make it as obvious as possible that I intend for my heroines to be wearing more than one-third of an outfit. Better wrought-iron overgarments than nothing but wrought-iron undergarments, as far as I’m concerned.”

And the really funny thing is, I think writers write about their characters writing way too much…


I didn’t put much thought into the actual Steel-Grey Saoirse parts, other than to vaguely emulate the preamble to the first Conan story, The Phoenix on the Sword. Atlantida is just the word for Atlantis in various Slavic languages. “Enniwere” required at least a bit of thought, it’s meant to sound like “Anywhere”, a sort of reference to the novel Erewhon (“Nowhere” backwards) and to Fritz Leiber‘s Nehwon — setting of the Fafhrd and the Grey Mouster stories (“Nowhen” backwards, itself a references to Erewhon).

I’ve mentioned this several times during my writing exercises that my priority is always to get to 500 words, rather than to write a particularly coherent story — if I like what I’ve got with that 500-word skeleton, I’ll go back and flesh it out into a coherent story.

FYI: New chapter tomorrow. More story writings here.

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