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Author Topic: Prologue
bladeofwords
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This is the first thirteen lines of my prologue (for a novel), but I am thinking about turning the prologue into a self-contained short story (if it works).

Nathaniel caught a glance of the fort just as a flurry of snow clouded his vision. He leaned down and gently rocked Leah. He felt her stir underneath the pile of blankets. “I think we’re almost there. Just hold on a little longer.” Her only response was a moan.

Nathaniel whipped the few remaining sled dogs into a furry as he jumped onto the back of the sled. Sure enough, as the snowfall lightened again he saw the stockade wall around the fort. At first the guards readied their pikes, but as he saw recognition flash into their faces they quickly turned their readiness into a bow. He pulled up into the parade ground, leapt off the sled, and began retrieving a few important packages. After the months it had taken them to get back, finally being here was so exhilarating that he couldn’t waste another second. Soon, men were pouring out of their shelters to see who had just stormed into their camp. Within minutes the commander had appeared and was stomping toward him.

“I need the doctors out here at once, we’ve been running low on food for several days and she was very ill to begin with.”

[This message has been edited by bladeofwords (edited May 11, 2005).]


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Jeraliey
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Two things confused me:

1) When I first read "gently rocked Leah", I thought you were talking about a baby in a cradle. I still don't know what you mean by it, or how exactly he'd accomplish the action without overturning the sled. Did he shake her shoulder, or something?

2) If she's very sick, why isn't it practically the only thing on his mind? Why was it that the first thing he did was unload packages and the first thing he thought was how exhilarating it was to be back? Is Leah a person that he's scornful/indifferent to? If so, I think we should know sooner. If not, you might want to show a little more urgency and concern on Nathaniel's part.


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bladeofwords
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I was trying (obviously unsuccessfully) to show the importance of the packages. How's this (everything before this point is still the same)?

He pulled up into the parade ground and leapt off the sled. As men started trickling out of their shelters, he walked around to the front of the sled and started untying the straps that had kept her weakened body from falling off during their long journey. A wave of his hand was enough to bring a young sailor over to his side.

“Help me carry her. We need to get her inside and to a doctor.”

“Infirmary is below deck.”

“Then that’s where we’re going.” They both leaned down to pick her up, but Nathaniel paused. “Hold on.” He reached back into the bags attached to the sled and pulled out a leather portfolio. “Okay, let’s go.”
[This message has been edited by bladeofwords (edited May 11, 2005).]

[This message has been edited by bladeofwords (edited May 11, 2005).]


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jeduthun
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Your story made me aware of an assumption I seem to always make as a reader: if the author doesn't tell me immediately what the character is doing, I assume that he's standing on the ground.

So, after your first few sentences, it jarred me when he "whipped the few remaining sled dogs into a furry" (fury?) -- this makes me think he's on a moving sled (how could he gently rock someone while on a moving sled?) -- and then you say "he jumped onto the back of the sled" -- I'm not sure it's safe to whip the dogs into a fury, and THEN jump on the sled. Common sense says it should be the other way around.

Hope that's helpful to you.



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NewsBys
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The sled was a bit of a shock for me. I was thinking it was a wagon at first.
Maybe if you introduced it earlier, or started by saying something like - Nathaniel brought the dogsled to a halt and scanned the horizon for Fort (Whatever). Then carry on from there with what you have.

The rest seemed fine until he calls a sailor over to help him. If this is a bayside fort, then you might want to mention it earlier. I imagined a landlocked fort.

Also, my brother is in the navy and when he refers to the basement, he does not say below deck, which I'm gathering means an area below the parade grounds in this example.
Also, why would they put the infirmary underground? Sick people probably won’t get much better in a moldy underground area with bad ventilation.


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bladeofwords
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thanks, apparently there are a lot of things that I need to clear up.
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NewsBys
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Cheer up. You DO have a firmly established POV character.
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bladeofwords
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I have already cleared it up (I hope). See, the ship was anchored in a bay that has since frozen over so the captain (foolishly) built a fort around it. Does that make more sense or am I completely off my rocker?

Jon


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Survivor
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The captain is off his rocker. So is the crew.
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