So there will be snark and worldbuilding and lots of spoilers and the process of rebuilding a novel from the bones of its former corpse.
50,000+ words (eventually) of Fun!
Daily Wordcount: 2168
Total Wordcount: 2168
Jon looked out across the vast empty nothingness and sighed.
“It’s not that bad,” the Writer said. “I’ve had, what, almost a decade to think about everything that was wrong with your novel? I can fix this!”
“The fact that your plan to fix it is to write a book about fixing it is the part that worries me.” Jon poked the nothingness with a stick. The void swirled in fractal patterns and eventually spit out a can of beer, which Jon opened with a grin. “I could get used to this though.”
“Nice to see your ability to find alcohol in inappropriate places is intact.” The Writer glared at the beer, but it ignored her.
“So what do you actually remember about my book?” Jon pulled a sofa out of the primordial story goop and settled in.
The Writer started pacing, because walking helped her shake loose the PlotBunnies now and then. “Non-magical companion humans and ghost dogs. Mostly.”
“That’s… a start, I guess. I was talking more in terms of the overall plot. It sort of helps to have one of those.”
“Err– something, something, the Dead Guy Mafia is bringing folks back from the dead by exploiting a loophole in the Veil between life and death and your pack of dogs are the only ones really catching on to how bad a thing that is, so they are trying to recreate one of the original Huntsman bonds so they can stop it, something, something, oh yeah and the darkside/death Huntsman team that is helping you for reasons I never really quite hammered down. Also the Dead Guy Mafia isn’t necessarily all bad and the Huntsman organization isn’t all good.” The Writer frowned out into the primordial story soup darkness. “That isn’t really that bad.”
“As I remember it, most of that year’s failure came from writing yourself into a corner with the Veil and The Powers That Be.” Jon fished out another beer from between the couch cushions. “Or you just got so caught up in the worldbuilding you never got the plot beyond ‘bad guys do things’.”
“You say that with such conviction.”
“Abject failure of the first attempt aside, what’s the first thing you’d do if you were going to be a Planner rather than a Panster?”
The Writer stopped her pacing. “Probably go back through all of my notes, drabbles, outlines, and the rough draft from before and figured out what I already have.”
There was a pause and the Writer narrowed her eyes in suspicion.
“I’m asking an honest question,” objected the Fictive. “What good does it do you to look back over what didn’t work the first time? Why not just start over again with the same rough idea and see what happens?”
“I’d end up with two things I like?”
Jon shrugged, “Then use one as a DVD-extra and do a self-fanfic AU short story with it. But right now I’ve been waiting almost a decade for movement and at this point I’ll take anything over stagnation.”
“Fine, fine, so I’m starting over.” The Writer conjured a comfy chair, her black story notebook, and a laptop stand so she could start outlining.
Once upon a time there was a world where all that separated the dead from the living was a Veil. There were creatures who lived within the Veil itself which could visit both worlds, but couldn’t interact with either without an anchor in that world. The humans that blood-bonded with these creatures, either Hinds or Hounds, could cross the Veil. However staying too long on their non-native side could destroy their anchor and doom them to existence within the Veil itself.
The Hounds chose their forms based on Human folklore and the Hinds chose them as a giant middle finger to the Hounds. The Veil creatures don’t actually have a fixed form, but the longer they stay in one form the harder it is for them to use another when they are manifesting. Veil creatures are unaging and most of the Hounds and Hinds have been around for centuries.
In general the Hounds guard the Veil and keep Humans from crossing over. They believe this to be the will of The Powers That Be, although no one is quite sure where they got this idea.
The Hinds are all for Human travel back and forth and don’t see what the big deal is. They also have no known basis for assuming that this is okay and doesn’t hurt anything.
“And now we stop,” interjected Jon bringing the Writer’s Veil ramblings to a halt.
“What? Why? I was going pretty well!” She put her pen down in annoyance.
“Because you don’t get to just use ‘because everyone thought so’ if you’re worldbuilding. Either the Powers That Be exist or they don’t. Either Veil travel is harmless or it isn’t. It’s choosing not to make a call on these until you’re in the middle of a story that gets you tripped up.”
“But I don’t know what the answers are yet,” grumped the Writer. “I figure this stuff out as the story goes along, it’s— organic.”
“Until it isn’t.” Jon sighed, “at least make a call if this is something that is going to affect the world in this story or not.”
“I’ve still got to reinvent the Dead Guy Mafia’s motives, so, err– I don’t know?”
“Then stop this and go do that.” Jon dug out a soda instead of a beer because it was going to be a long afternoon and he might as well pace himself. “And can you please dream me up some company at some point, it’s really sort of creepy being the only Fictive here.”
The Dead Guy Mafia got its name because it’s the folks who are bringing back dead people to possess the living and they did a drive-by on Jon, trying to kill him before he could properly bond to the Hounds.
They are bad guys.
That are bad.
“That was…” Jon searched for an appropriate word and failed, “…spectacular.”
“Yeah, working on it, working on it. Shush.”
So they Dead Man Mafia is bringing back folks from the Dead side by linking them to a Hind. But if they stay too long on the Living side they will get trapped in the Veil. So the Mafia came up with the brilliant idea of blood-bonding the dead Human to the Live Human so they have an anchor in all three worlds.
But the dead person can’t interact well in the living world, even with the bond, because they aren’t as awesome as Veil creatures. What they can do is merge with the living person and the combine human can then interact with the Living world easily.
Only that has the side effect of eventually killing the Living person because they are basically carrying around Death inside of them.
If they only do it for a little while and then break the bloodbond, which can be done, then there is some damage done to the living person but it’s not immediately fatal. Sort of like burning through your remaining life at twice the rate or something. So depending on the circumstances it’s something a living person would actually willing agree too in some cases.
“I hate to point this out,” interrupted Jon, “because that’s actually sort of cool extrapolation, but isn’t that what you did to me with the dead Huntsman?”
“Yeah, I think my dogs would have been a little more KILLKILLKILL and less BEHOLD, WE ARE ANNOYED if they knew that’s what was going on.”
“Okay, so wait, let’s make her not dead then.”
“No, no, this can work– look if she’s a Veil-trapped instead of a dead then she doesn’t have a strong tie to Death, just the Veil.”
“Which will end up with me having a LOT of ties to the Veil and I’m not seeing how ending up there is any better than ending up actually dead.”
“So we need a way to get her back out of the Veil. Maybe she wasn’t ever Dead, maybe she was a living person who spent too long in death and then ended up in the Veil because her living anchor was lost. So she’d inherently be drawn to the living end of things and you’re not being pulled as hard.”
“Still not the best idea– wait, does that mean when she’s corporeal in the living world if something kills her she’ll be dead for real and not trapped in the Veil.”
“…That could work. Only I don’t see how it would work for the Dead folks trapped in the Veil.”
“Well it’s not like bloodbonding to other dead people if going to make the dead more dead.”
“Also, if you have one person bonded to a lot of anchors does that make the strain less on the anchors? Because I am one person and there are a lot of dogs.”
“They don’t need as much influence on the living world, but yeah, if the ratio of people to dogs was backwards it would make them a lot more powerful in the living realm.”
“So it makes me pretty powerful in the Veil realm then?”
“That hadn’t occurred to me.”
“Hence all of this worldbuilding goodness.”
“Back to work.”
So the Dead Man Mafia is bringing back folks from the dead, but it’s sometimes killing the living folks they bond with. The Hounds are against the idea of anyone coming back at all and are slightly miffed at the whole murder/suicide aspect of things. Although they see humans all as pre-dead anyway, so they whole death thing really doesn’t seem a big deal to them.
The reason Jon’s dogpack is so worked up and ready to try and initiate a full bloodbond, which is what they used to do, is because the dead man mafia is busy experimenting with ways to safely keep the dead in the realm of the living. Which is a no-no.
Currently the Hounds that bond with living Huntsmen are only doing so at a very superficial level. The dogs are interested in using the humans as anchors so they have a way to affect the living world and not much else (see the previous thoughts on pre-dead). The full bond would allow the human access to the dogs as Veil anchors and through that into the world of the dead. Which is also verboten. Most packs would like this to be a one-sided arrangement because they’ve run into problems with their anchor before.
The full bond would also allow Jon to talk to the dogs, which means he can argue with them. Which falls under the whole ‘humans should be seen and not heard’ theme.
But without a full bond, Jon can’t actually help the dogs anywhere but the world of the living and right now this chase is happening through all three realms. So they need to man (err, dog?) up and bring him into the fold.
“This sounds a lot closer to something that makes sense in terms of the old story.” Jon said, unexpectedly impressed with the fact that things seemed to actually be locking into place.
“Told you I was good at retrofitting things.” The Writer stretched to pop her shoulder and then looked down at the pile of notes. “I have no idea how much this is going to contradict all the notes and whatnot I have from before. I really want to go back and look.”
“After you make wordcount.”
“I’m almost at two thousand words for today,” objected the Writer. “I think that counts.”
“So come up with a couple of summary sentences and we’ll call it a day…”
One Sentence Summary
- Jonathan Black is going to save the world… against his will.
- Jonathan Black and a pack of Ghost Dogs are the only things standing between Life and Death.
- Death is threatening to take over Life and it’s up to Jon and the Hounds to stop them.
- What’s dead should stay dead, but it’s up to Jon and the Dogs to keep it that way.
- To stop the dead from coming back to life a pack of ghost dogs and their semi-unwilling living human anchor must recreate an ancient bond.
Once upon a time there was a semi-employed college graduate who didn’t know what he wanted to do in life. Every day he’d wake up and go to work building houses, but nothing really interested him. Once day he was chosen by a pack of ghost dogs to be their human anchor in a battle to stop the dead from coming back to life. Because of that he is now having an adventure he never dreamed of, even in his worst nightmares. Until finally, things are somehow resolved in a way the author hasn’t thought of yet.
“Well, at least you’re honest.”