Hello friends. Here’s this week’s episode of Death Of 1000 Cuts. After the intense boss rush of Couch to 80k, we’re back to a slightly more manageable flow of episodes for everyone, which you can listen to whenever you like. You don’t even have to do a writing exercise during them! Gosh. Luxury, eh? In this episode I talk a little bit about self-indulgence and complacency (and how they’re often misdiagnosed in writers) and I look at the first page of a listener’s novel, trying to find ways to make it better.

I hope you enjoy! I’ve included the extract below so you can read along if you like.

If you like the podcast and would like to support me, the best way is to buy my novel, THE HONOURS.

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Untitled (by Sam)

Noor looked out over the sea of grass, breathing hard, hands slippery with sweat. The yellow blades rippled in the wind, so that the plains were like the flanks of some great beast inhaling. Half a league away, the village stood on a hill – a handful of fifty antelope-hide huts, quickly put together, not built to last. A ribbon of smoke curled up from them, and as she got closer the ash-tang of burning wood filled the air.

She drew Yennenga, the sword’s steel bright. That the village was still here was a bad sign. The inhabitants should have unpacked and moved on a day ago, fleeing the wall of shift that had swept over this part of the steppe. The warping, breaking force sucked at her face as she approached, causing something inside her to shudder. Not strong enough to harm her. Above, the shattered geometry of the sun fragments was setting, casting the grass in a blood-light. She felt the answering glow of sunlight within her, certain and strong. Smiled, despite herself. A piece of that same sun had fallen in the village. An opportunity for power, for those bold enough to claim it. Whatever was in the village now would be dangerous. A challenge, finally, after so long wandering.

Under her arm, the weight of her helm dragged her left side down. She could put it on – felt its urge to be worn – but she didn’t need it. Not yet.

She slowed as she neared the first hut. A man sat in a bamboo chair outside, head sunk downwards, skin so weathered it was like the rough grass. She thought he was dead, but he stirred when she approached. Her sword flared in her hand, ready.