Short Fiction in Paksworld: Through “First Blood.”

Posted: November 4th, 2014 under Spoiler Space.

As y’all know, there’s a little bit of Paksworld short fiction on the Paksworld website, some that was out in various online venues before, and “First Blood” is now officially out in Shattered Shields. So the discussion of Paksworld short fiction within this thread is fine. However, since some people object to spoilers for short fiction, please keep any discussion within a thread that starts with “Short Fiction”–like this one. And if spoilers bother you, don’t read in such threads unless you’ve read all the bits out so far.


  • Comment by elizabeth — November 5, 2014 @ 10:14 am


    As the writer involved, I have a question for readers of “First Blood”…can any of you figure out where 400+ words were cut? (Yes, it was that much too long, and yes, the editor wanted it to the right length. No fault points to editor: editors of anthologies get a contract for X stories and Y total length of the book, which they have to juggle.)

    The writer, out of whose squalling baby story the words were excised, knows them all, but has to admit the story functions just fine without them. And I don’t see the scars. However, if you do, let me know what you think went in there.

    Having the last story in the book is an honor, esp. when it comes with the cover image.

  • Comment by Margaret Middleton — November 5, 2014 @ 12:08 pm


    I didn’t twig on the cover image until the kid cut the bridle-strap.

  • Comment by Mary Elmore Kellogg Cowart — November 5, 2014 @ 2:08 pm


    I’ll need to reread it and look at the cover picture. Will comment later.

  • Comment by Iphinome — November 5, 2014 @ 11:33 pm


    Story was shorter than I expected, there was time to read it.

    Guessing a description about how to take care of each piece of tack was removed.

  • Comment by elizabeth — November 6, 2014 @ 1:06 am


    Margaret: They had asked me about colors, etc. for the cover picture, but I’d managed to forget it until I saw it, and then thought–“Wait! That’s from MY story!” And it was hard not to tell you folks ahead of time.

    Mary: The cover picture is a nice exciting fantasy cover picture, but the artist didn’t know that a “snip” is a bit of white on a horse’s nose and upper lip, not a skinny spot in the middle of the forehead. (Horse neepery, of which I am far too fond.)

    Iphinome: Short fiction sold to outside editors is always vulnerable to pruning. That one’s still a few words over, but only five or six. I’ll let others add their guesses on what was left out before commenting on yours.

  • Comment by greycats — November 7, 2014 @ 12:38 am


    The front end of the tale–before there’s any dialogue–seems to move really fast. (But then again that’s typical of short fiction.) Made this reader feel a little like the kid: things are speeding by, hard to get your bearings, you have to snatch at fleeting details: spurs, helping like he does at home. I enjoyed it. The youth’s understanding of his situation and my understanding of his abilities seem to keep pace with each other. It’s like hearing harmony.

  • Comment by elizabeth — November 7, 2014 @ 2:14 am


    Yeah, short fiction has to move faster, especially for genre short fiction contracted to an anthology. And if you’re writing in an established universe (as several of us did) getting the right balance of background for readers familiar with your universe–and yet enough for newcomers–is even more difficult.

    Luden’s an interesting kid. Fallo didn’t suffer much during Siniava’s War, compared to other lands, and the Duke of Fall didn’t hire mercs…so he’s had a fairly protected life, other than being trained, like all the family, to some level of martial skills. The Duke felt pretty secure as long as there was nobody ruling Immer…Alured the Black, he thought first, an upstart who would soon fall. So Luden’s had a steep learning curve the last few years, knowing that this new Duke of Immer was a serious threat.

    Still, his early childhood was in a period of safety–or it felt safe to him. His father had rank, but wasn’t the heir–so had more time for him. His mother was a pleasant, cheerful woman, competent and well-liked. Of the boys in his age group, he was one of the more cheerful, easy-going ones, getting along with both the older boys and the younger ones. Most people thought of him as uncomplicated, one of those kids you could count on to do what he was told, show up on time, and not cause trouble…but not particularly special–certainly not the Duke’s heir, and certainly not expected to do what he did.

    But he was an observant kid, as those standing a little outside a defined role tend to be. He noticed people; he noticed plants, animals, things. He wanted to learn things, wanted to understand things, and yet without much desire to show off–so he always knew more than people thought he did. He was not the original choice for this chore, but he ended up with it.

  • Comment by Hans — November 7, 2014 @ 10:29 am


    400 cut words? I would have guessed half of them after the escape from the ambush but before Laden yields command – usually you make your characters sweat in uncertainty a bit more before the relief force arrives. The other half… if this were part of a longer Paksworld tale I would have expected more “officer’s talk” between Vladi and Sofi during the debriefing, and/or more time spent in the surgeon’s tents.

  • Comment by Hans — November 7, 2014 @ 10:30 am


    Laden being Luden, of course. Sigh, autocomplete.

  • Comment by elizabeth — November 7, 2014 @ 1:12 pm


    Hans: Typos happen to us all.

  • Comment by Nadine Barter Bowlus — November 9, 2014 @ 4:42 pm


    Oh! So that’s what a “snip” is. Thanks, Elizabeth.

  • Comment by elizabeth — November 9, 2014 @ 10:44 pm


    Ah…do I need to do another “horse” post with links to pictures of the different markings?

  • Comment by Sharidann — November 10, 2014 @ 4:11 am


    I think you cut a bit of the pursuit and wound tending after the battle.

    Good Thing you asked us, I had to reread the Story!

    On a side note, I shall get the paper Version tomorrow, courtesy of Moloch, Inc! 🙂

  • Comment by Naomi — November 11, 2014 @ 4:48 am


    Don’t know what is going on Amazon Uk wer giving a November 11th publication date and now it’s 3 months up the road! grr.

  • Comment by Duncan — November 14, 2014 @ 11:17 am


    Noami I just got mine deleivered from Amazon UK this afternoon (they were giving a 3 month estimate)

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