Seth Skorkowsky was born beneath the pine trees of East Texas and grew up with a love of camping and outdoors. His teen years were spent ingesting heavy doses of Dungeons & Dragons and Clive Barker novels, but attributes Fritz Leiber as the single greatest influence on the atmosphere of his fantasy writing. Later this year will see the publication of two short story collections, Mountain Of Daggers and Sea Of Quills. His first novel, DÄMOREN, was just published by Ragnarok Publications.
Every story has a different process in which it was created. When I decided to write Dämoren, I only had a few things to go on. I knew the rules in which demons could possess people and die. I had a holy revolver that could kill them. However, I still had no hero, no plot, and no conflict. The only other thing I had was a series of scene flashes that I wanted to show, but no real link between them.
The first scene I had was my hero getting an antique gun though customs. The pistol is ornate, and has no bullets. The hero is also carrying a set of antique silverware. After a thorough check, he gets through customs, and goes to a hotel. There, he melts the silverware down and begins molding bullets. At this point I don’t know what country my hero is entering, why he’s entering it, or even if my hero is a ‘he’. I just had a good opening.
The next scene I imagined was a battle. The hero is helpless, on the floor, and monsters are coming for him. Suddenly, a mysterious gunslinger bursts through the door and begins blasting demons with an enormous revolver. The gunslinger runs out of ammo and pistol whips one to death. A monster charges him, and the gunslinger loads a single shell into the cylinder and spins it. He’s so attune to his weapon that he spins it perfectly so that the bullet lines up with the barrel, and he shoots an creature before it reaches him. Again, I don’t know who these people are, but I have an image. The finished scene never played out like that, but the inception was this.
The last scene I had before I’d even typed a single word was an enormous fight. I’d decided that my hero, Matt, would have a special ability that when his blood is mixed with water, it forms a type of compass where the blood pulls in the direction of a nearby demons. The scene would be inside some industrial complex, like a factory. A group of werewolves with shotguns are on the higher ground, and our heroes are pinned down. Matt will do something clever (no idea what) to get the shooters down. But he’s bleeding everywhere, and standing in an enormous pool of ankle-deep water. His blood is surging around him, gathering in the direction of the closing demons, then he shoots them, and the blood swirls and moves toward then next one. Suddenly all the blood gathers up around him and Matt looks up just as a demon falls on him from above.
Armed with nothing but a rough setup and a few scenes that had no explanation, I started writing. More and more little scenes came to mind and eventually they began attaching to each other and growing like puzzle pieces. By chapter five I had a rough outline.
For its sequel, Hounacier, the writing process was different. I started with an established hero but needed to flush out his history. I knew it would primarily take place in New Orleans, and while there on a trip I wrote down three pages of “atmosphere notes”. I still didn’t have much of a conflict, though I did know my “everything goes wrong” scene. So I started writing, and again, it began taking shape.
I was two chapters in when Joe Martin of Ragnarok asked for a pitch. I gave it and he asked that I send him and Tim Marquitz a full outline.
Now facing a deadline, I sat down and did something I’ve never done for a story, I mapped if from start to finish. I was impressed how quickly it came together, and for the first time, I had a detailed plan. I admit that it’s pretty nice to have.
Every story has a different process in which it was written. Some authors will know every single aspect before they even start, others will just puke it out and then organize it into something better. The trick is to write. If you want an outline first, great. But I’ve also known several authors that spend so much time plotting their story and world to the point that they’re just putting off writing it.
My advice it to just go for it. Take that creative energy while it’s burning and start a chapter or fill in the outline, but write it down. Editing is easy, but the creative fire needs to be harnessed when its burning, otherwise it’s harder to ignite when you want it. Don’t stop, just go for it.