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The Opening Crawl

October 4, 2009

These past two weeks haven’t exactly been conducive to writing. Between sinus infections, a general increase in Nolan’s pissiness levels (due to his own sinus infection), work drama, stacked deadlines, and a thousand other piddling annoyances, I haven’t been able to marshal my thoughts as well as I’d like.

That said, I’ve managed to make some forward progress on the new Scipio novel. I’ve come to some decisions about story structure and character development. I’m toying with a different ending for one of the non-Scipio main characters, a young legionary who’ll provide the lowly foot soldier’s perspective of the Spanish campaigns (an ending that will make those who know their history squeal with glee). And, to cap it off, I’ve jotted down a draft of the novel’s opening crawl, intended to set the stage without forcing the reader to crack a history book and familiarize themselves with the first seven years of the Second Punic War:

Seven years have passed since Hannibal Barca led his army across the Alps and descended upon Italy. After a string of devastating defeats, the reeling Roman Republic has abandoned any attempt to meet the brilliant Carthaginian general head-on, and the pitched battles of the early war have given way to the long grind of siege and skirmish.

Now, at last, the weight of Roman arms has started to shift the balance. One by one, the cities and towns which defected to Hannibal during the Republic’s darkest hour fall to the legions. But Hannibal remains at large, as fearsome an opponent as ever.

Meanwhile, in faraway Spain, Carthaginian reinforcements threaten to break the long stalemate, and the brothers Gnaeus and Publius Scipio lead their legions south in a desperate bid to defeat Hannibal’s brothers before they can join forces…

It definitely needs tinkering, but hey, it’s a start. And after the way the last two weeks have unfolded, I’ll take it.

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