Rümayesh — A Tryptich of Stories set in The Song of the Shattered Sands

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I’ve just broken ground on a new triptych of stories that will be set in the Shattered Sands universe. The first, I’m very pleased to report, will appear in the Blackguards anthology, from Ragnarok Publications. The second will appear in a short story collection I’m going to put out in the next handful of months. And the third will be bound together in the full triptych, tentatively titled Rümayesh, which I’ll release more or less concurrently with the release of Twelve Kings in Sharakhai next August.

I have a reasonably good idea of the arc of the three tales, and I’ve already broken ground on the first (just the opening pages, really), but I ran into a roadblock yesterday when I hit some of the tough questions. Who is Çeda facing in this story? Why? What are her enemies’ goals? Their backstories? How do they and Çeda clash? I had a rough idea of these things, but truly, it was very rough. And I need at least a reasonably good idea of all those things before I can really dive in. I don’t mind some things being up in the air—because I figure out those details as I write—but I need a good framework before I can begin.

Enter Pinterest.

I really like using Pinterest for story generation and to develop tone and sometimes theme. When I hit the stumbling block yesterday, I decided to take time to start collecting images for the story. I did so here:


I didn’t have any revelations at the time. I was just letting my mind wander and collecting visually pleasing images. Well, as often happens, one of the images stuck out in my mind. This one, an image of a Death’s Head Moth:


I’ll often brainstorm in the early waking moments of the day. The mind is fresher then. It doesn’t always work, but if I’m noodling a story, I’ll toy with ideas, and quite often, something in the logjam will break up, and the ideas will start to flow.

That’s what happened this morning with the image above. When I stumbled across it in Pinterest (just trolling through images related to others I’d already pinned, a technique that’s been really helpful to me) I had no concrete plans for including moths or moth images in the story. I just thought it might be a cool thing to incorporate if it happened to work out. In other words, I had no idea how it would fit, only that it might be neat if it did.

Well, the hindbrain was clearly working on it, because this morning the moth popped into mind, and images started popping into my head: moths fluttering on hands, moths layering a room like carpet, someone stuffing a live moth into their mouth.

I’ll stop there, so as not to give away spoilers, but suffice it to say that the moth will figure prominently in the story.

The moral of the story? Try Pinterest if you’re stuck on a story. Or use it early in the game to help frame your thoughts.

And if you’ve done this already, let me know in the comments. I’d be curious to see them.