Three Ekphrastic Dialogues; or, No Dual Wielding Until Book Three

Setting: Book One of the Epic Trilogy

In the first scene the WRITER is bright-eyed, fresh-faced, and recently showered, perhaps even wearing a jaunty blazer. The CHARACTER looks confused, wary, even a little frightened.

Character: Hey! Who are you?

Writer: I’m the writer. I made up your world. I made you up.

C: That’s impossible.

W: Amazing, right? But it’s true. That beard you have—I put it there. That mysterious dude over there—the one in the black cloak; I made him up. That suspicious ancient ruin; I made that up, too.

C: Whoa. Why don’t I…know more stuff? Why don’t I have a better sword? Why can’t I do anything awesome?

W: Like what?

C: I don’t know. Call down a rain of fire on my foes. Maybe I could defeat a dozen knights single-handed?

W: Nice try, kid. This is book one. You can’t be too cool yet. Gotta leave room to grow.

C: Can I at least shave this stupid beard? It itches.

W: Nope.

C: You’re an asshole.

W: Good! You have spirit! You’re starting to get a life of your own!

C: If I have a life of my own, why can’t I shave my…hey! HEY! What the hell just happened?

W: Your house burned down. That guy in the black cloak did it.

C: You made him do it.

W: Sorry. Needed an inciting incident.

C: Well who the hell is he?

W: No way. This is book one. You don’t get to know that. I might not even know that.

C: I think I hate you.

W: Just don’t lose that spirit.


Setting: Book Two of the Epic Trilogy

The WRITER looks more disheveled than last time—slightly twitchy, slightly confused. The CHARACTER has a larger sword now. His hand rests comfortably on the pommel.

Character: I shaved my beard.

Writer: No! That’s not until…Fuck it. Fine. I’ve got other problems to deal with.

C: Also, that asshole in the black cloak. The one who burned down my house. He’s Algar Ka, the Dread Lord.

W: What? No. He’s not. He is most definitely not.

C: He totally is. It’s obvious. Should I kill him?

W: Of course you shouldn’t kill him! Are you insane? This is only book two. You’re not even supposed to know who he is yet.

C: Well I know who he is. He’s right there, and he’s not looking. I’m going to stick him with the sword.

W: NO! What do you think we’re going to do in book three? Eat lasagna and watch cartoons for six hundred pages?

C: Here goes…Wait. What just happened?

W: He’s gone.

C: What do you mean, gone?

W: Whisked away by a greater power.

C: By which you mean you. [Shakes head] Fine. Can I do something else awesome? Maybe I’ll defeat those lizard men over there.

W: Fine, fight the damn lizard men, but you can’t be too awesome.

C: Check out this double-sword flip attack…

W: NO. No dual-wielding in book two. No flips in book two. Did you forget that there’s a whole other book after this? Can you please make this fight look difficult? It would actually be ideal if it looked perfectly commensurate with your growing confidence and abilities.

C: Sounds contrived.

W: DO NOT SAY CONTRIVED. Ginny said contrived.

C: Who’s Ginny?

W: I don’t know. Someone on Twitter. She didn’t like book one.

C: Whatever. Contrived. I said it. This is contrived…Ouch! What the hell was that?

W: Lizard man spear. In your leg.

C: The lizard men don’t have spears, you asshole.

W: That one did. Anyway, it’s book two. You needed to suffer a setback. There you go. Setback. Now go get the mysterious cloaked guy.

C: You mean Algar…

W: [Singing loudly] MYSTERY! MYSTERIOUS!

C: I know who he is…

W: Shut up and get him.

C: Where is he?

W: [Whistles innocently] Other end of the continent.

C: The other end of the…why?

W: This is book two. You need to do some walking. Everybody walks a lot in book two.

C: I really hate you.


Setting: Book Three of the Epic Fantasy Trilogy

The WRITER looks crazed, even a little demented. Hair is unwashed. Clothes are unwashed. There is a coffee pot filled with stale pizza crusts next to the computer monitor. The CHARACTER, on the other hand, has never looked better. The leg is healed, leaving a nasty scar that does nothing to slow him down. His stare is so hard it might have been hammered out on an anvil.

C: Ah, the Golden Western Sea. Almost as impressive as the Mountains of Night.

W: What? You saw the Mountains of Night?

C: [Patiently] Yes. Chapter twenty-two of Book Two. I defeated the Ice Demons there?

W: Right. Shit! [Scribbles madly on a notecard while muttering] He already saw the Ice Demons? That means none of this works. This whole chapter doesn’t work!

C: Hey, there’s an evil army over there.

W: What? Who are they?

C: You let them loose in Book Two. Said something about needing to set-up the big, set-piece battle.

W: Holy hell, I did. But….

C: Don’t worry, I’m on it.

W: You’re going to attack the army alone?

C: Sure—I got the blessing of the goddess. Plus this orcish gizmo that fits on here, like this. Plus, double battle-axes.


C: It’s book three.

W: What?

C: I said, it’s book three. I can dual wield now. I can do all the stuff now.

W: [Reverently, to self] It’s book three. We can do all the stuff.

C: There. I routed that evil army. Wait, what is that?

W: [Cackling madly] ANOTHER EVIL ARMY! It’s book three!

C: [Sighs. Annihilates second evil army.] Now what?

W: Kiss your love interest!

C: Did that in book two.

W: Right. Right! Have sex with your love interest! Here—have a whole chapter, just for that.

C: Cool….

W: Now fight these guys!

C: I’m still….

W: Now fight those guys!

C: Fine….

W: Destroy that fortress.

C: Don’t you think there’s been enough violence?


C: Good point. Done. You want me to get Algar Ka now?


C: I think you need to take a break.


C: I’m unleashing the ancient powers.


C: Done.

W: [Reeling.] Done?

C: It’s done. I did it. I won.

W: We won.

C: Well, you went sorta crazy while I did the work, but yes. Now I want to eat lasagna and snuggle my love interest. You should get some sleep.

W: Sleep? [Shakes head slowly, in a daze.] No sleep. I need to start on the PREQUEL.

C: I hate you.


After teaching literature, philosophy, history, and religion for more than a decide, Brian Staveley began writing epic fantasy. The Providence of Fire, the second installment in the Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne, publishes January 13th from Tor and Tor UK. He lives on a steep dirt road in the mountains of southern Vermont, where he divides his time between fathering, writing, husbanding, splitting wood, skiing, and adventuring, not necessarily in that order. He can be found on Twitter at @brianstaveley and also on his blog.


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