I have at last slowly begun on the story I mentioned in my Color Symbolism thread. Haven't got very far, but I wanted to go ahead and post the intro for thoughts. As always, offers to read all of it are the most appreciated.
A different version
Zerieth sat, cross-legged, in the huge crossroads that was the heart of the great city of Vierlion. People of all ages and races bustled past the central platform, the place of guides and performers, and the traditional place for a wizard of the Open Hand to make himself available to those in need of protection or healing. As he sat, he tried to see the White Road. In the years he had walked it, he had seen it only a few times. It was elusive, not at all like the Red Road he had walked for most of his life; that Road had nearly always been in his sight, shimmering and undulating like a great snake of fire and blood. Once it would have angered him; now it brought mild frustration and a sense of melancholy. The White Mages who had
Another differenter version
Zerieth sat, cross-legged, in the huge crossroads at the heart of the great city of Vierlion. He felt a little awkward here on the central platform. The place of guides and performers, and, he was told, the traditional place for a White Road wizard of the Open Hand to make himself available to those in need of protection or healing. It was his first time in this part of the world. The awkwardness was soon eclipsed by melancholy, tinged with frustration, as he tried to catch a glimpse of the elusive White Road. In the years he had walked it, he had only seen it a handful of times. Not at all like the Red Road he had walked most of his life; it had nearly always been in sight, undulating like a great snake of fire and blood.
People of all origins and ages bustled past the large wooden platform in the central crossroads of the great city of Vierlion. Zerieth had been told the crossroads was the place where guides and performers congregated and where a White Road wizard of the Open Hand should go to make himself available to those in need. Thus far, he’d healed a broken arm, repaired a broken wagon, and broken up a fight amidst a gang of unruly young boys. Still, he felt awkward sitting cross-legged on the edge of the stage. He’d never visited this part of the world before. He was still learning its ways, the customs of its people. As he sat, he tried to calm his mind and find the elusive White Road. Though he had walked it for several years now and
Zerieth sat cross-legged on a large wooden platform situated in the center of the great crossroads at the heart of the city of Vierlion. Beside him were pied-clothed jugglers, rugged guides and ragged musicians. This was their place to seek employment or an audience. He’d been told it was also the place for a White Road wizard of the Open Hand to make himself available to those in need. The sea of people swirling all about him made Zerieth uncomfortable. He’d never been to this part of the world, but he felt as if he were traveling everywhere without moving as people of all types, human and otherwise, passed before him. As he sat, he tried to calm his mind and catch a glimpse of the White Road. The sight of it was elusive. He’d walked it and
[This message has been edited by Merlion-Emrys (edited February 16, 2010).]
I didn't really envision the colours here in this piece. Well shall I say that I felt that there should be more of a visual sensation based on the motive I feel that you have for this scene.
I was really intrigued by the premise although the prose felt, to me, somewhat telling.
I am trying to imagine myself as the Mage here. What do I see? What do I feel?
I am submerging myself into the MC in attempts to demonstrate the type of emotion I feel is lacking. I am not sure if you will find this type of feedback useful or not. Please bare with me.I will use first person narrative for this purpose.
Exhaustion, my chest felt cramped--constricted. Muted grey, the world swirled drabbly before me. As I sat waiting to serve those malady stricken, wounded, or in desperate need of succor, My eyes scanned the crossroads. Here in the heart of Vierlion where all roads began, I searched for the white road. Maybe if I try harder, if I submerge myself in its power, if I use it for healing it will show itself to me once more.
the virtuous path is far more difficult to follow than the chaotic red road. It and its followers stood out brilliantly contrasting all else. The red road snakes across the the land like a shimmering blood river and the robes of those whom follow it shimmer like fire.
Perhaps I am not pure enough. I doesn't seem fair. Why must creation be harder to achieve than chaos--destruction? Perhaps the 'Counsil of white mages' sent me on a fool's errand. They told me the White road was harder to see. Did they know I would fail.
Even the yellow sun seemed devoid of its luster. All around me the drabness enveloped the landscape except for the shimmering red road. Tempting, mocking me. I closed my eyes and pressed the palms of my hands against them. reopening them I hoped to see it, but there was nothing but grey.
I tried to demonstrate my point. I am not sure if it works or not. I added a few motives that may not be what you intended, but I wanted to point that out because I felt the intro was a little flat in that regard.
I hope I am not comming across as over critical. I really liked the premise here and your writing is very good. I just couldn't really descripe the subtle nature of my observation. The only way I could come close to showing you what I meant was to get into the MC's head a bit.
Hope this helps. I would be glad to look at the whole thing when you get it finished. Just let me know. I will try not to go overboard with my comments...promise.
You don't mention how long a piece this is, but if it's going to be in the few-thousand-words range, you may want to save some of this introspection for a little farther into the story, after the conflict, character, and setting are better established. If it's flash length, you'll probably want to find a way to reword this to be shorter, as it's too long for most flash pieces.
Basically what I see is a guy sitting in a crossroads (which took me aback. Is he LITERALLY in the crossroads? Isn't that a strange place to *sit*?) He's imagining something in his mind. Then a guy comes toward him, walking with purpose.
I also don't get a good sense from this how the MC *feels* about his situation. It might not be so hard to take the introspection if I had a better idea of how it all affects the MC.
For example: Zerieth sat...and wrung his hands in his lap, again frustrated at his inability to see the White Road (or even less direct/specific...zerieth had been trying to see the white road all his life. Even now, while he waited for those in need of aid...) For all his years of attempting, even with the help of old guys he's been friends with, he just can't picture it. Nada.
He let a frustrated sound escape his lips, disrupting the placid mask he thought most appropriate in his role as a Healer in the Market of the great city of V... He opened his eyes warily, not sure if anyone heard him, and was startled to see a man striding toward him, his long beard blowing over his shoulder as he walked.
== It's all style points, but my preference is for a deeper immersion into the character and what he feels about the situation and/or some sense of what's at stake for him. You could talk about what the lack of seeing the white road does to him. Does it cause him physical pain? Prevent him from meeting up with his future wife? His dead relatives? Does it torture him psychologically, because he's a mage and he *should* be able to see the white road?
Give us a couple good reasons to care about Zerieth's predicament, then the introspection will be better situated.
As with all comments - take what works for you, leave the rest. Good luck with this piece!
A little hard to start with all this introspection - shorten that part up a bit and have something happen sooner. Does Zerieth see what road (color) the purposeful man is coming down? ....oh, that's right, Melion, ...post an update at the same time I'm commenting... Revision is more specific about the meanings of the roads, but you have lengthened the introspection and put the action off even further. I'd save the explanation for later - maybe when he has decided whether to accept whatever the purposeful man will offer.
[This message has been edited by NoTimeToThink (edited December 07, 2009).]
Both versions are very telling and inactive. Before I care about the "Road" he's searching for, or has traveled, I must care enough about him. Who is he (not what is he)? Why does he care about this "Road"? What has he invested? What will be lost? What are the stakes?
quote:You don't mention how long a piece this is, but if it's going to be in the few-thousand-words range, you may want to save some of this introspection for a little farther into the story, after the conflict, character, and setting are better established
quote:A little hard to start with all this introspection - shorten that part up a bit and have something happen sooner Revision is more specific about the meanings of the roads, but you have lengthened the introspection and put the action off even further. I'd save the explanation for later - maybe when he has decided whether to accept whatever the purposeful man will offer.
When I first started conceptualizing this story, I posted a thread called "Where to start" in Open Discussions. In it I outlined the begining scene you see here as my prefered begining, but mentioned how I figured if I posted it in the feedback section, I'd hear a lot of "to slow to start" "needs more happening" etc...and went on to say well perhaps instead I will start it in the action, then flash back to this initial meeting.
Almost everyone that posted said I should go ahead with this scene, since its where I feel the story starts and all and since it gives an opportunity for establishing a bit about the characters and the magic.
And now I post it and, as expected, some feel its starting too slowly. Interesting how opinions differ, but, for me, this is where the story starts although I think I do like the second version better.
I'm not saying you can't start the story where and when you are - just save some of the description of the colored roads for later. Right now it's more like a piece of scenery that the writer really likes to describe, but the reader doesn't know if or why it's important.
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Being the first 13 lines I liked the scenery.
It's a good starting point for me. I like the way the scenery is described and in my opinion it works. The lines with the roads may be a bit of foreshadowing of the magic system or central plot elements and it simply sits well with the scene.
Another new version of the intro. still no "action" as such, but I wanted to establish right off that he's new to the area...it comes up later. I know some don't like "telling" of emotions but it seems about 50/50 some want them told (internal) some want them shown with expressions or whatever (external).
[This message has been edited by Merlion-Emrys (edited December 09, 2009).]
I actually like the first version best. It's clean and I like that someone is approaching him. I don't have a sense of hustle and bustle though. That part is better in the second version. Maybe you can add the sense of the crowd to the first version.
quote:Once it would have angered him; now it brought mild frustration and a sense of melancholy. The White Mages who had
This is what bothered me a bit in the second version. I'm not exactly sure what would have angered him. I don't know enough to know where these feelings come from. I'm sure they get explained in the next few lines but I still like the first version best.
I have little to add - the writing is technically very good as we've come to expect from Merlion - but I stand by my comment from the "Where to Start" thread. You might be able to speed things up a bit by jumping ahead to the scene where your mage meets his client, rather than go through this "sitting about waiting and telling the reader about how the world works" scene.
I'm half-tempted to offer a re-write, to be honest, but that seems a bit pushy.
I think this is one of those times I won't really know at least till I am further into the story...and maybe not till its finished and I get crits back.
As it stands I think the opening, the third version, will work pretty well for character-immersion people and setting/magic people, but not as well for action-oriented and know-the-plot-upfront people. How the story as a whole comes out will, hopefully, tell me which groups the story would be more likely to interest, as a whole. Since as I've said so many times, no matter what you do, you can't interest everybody.
Thanks to all for the comments and read-offers so far.
Edit: It would be interesting though, to do a version from the point where he meets the merchant, just to see the reaction...i'm guessing I'd get a lot of "I want to know why the character is there" and similar type comments. I might just do that later. Its not a bad idea, but I do personally prefer the further-back begining. We'll see once its further along...
[This message has been edited by Merlion-Emrys (edited December 10, 2009).]
I like the concept of elusive roads. As I read through the comments, having him sit in the middle of the crossroads pulled me out of the image, wondering if he was going to get hit.
I liked the last version the most. I did have an issue with his relationship with the White Road.
quote:As he sat, he tried to see the White Road. In the years he had walked it, he had seen it only a few times.
That took me out of the beginning trying to figure out how he can walk it for years and not see it. Metaphorically following the White Road and physically seeing it, has to be a bit more specific for me.
Other than that, I liked the beginning and would certainly read on.
Do you think just exchanging "walking" for "following" would help?
Its a bit tough because I'm trying to express something that is multi-part and yet integrated; mages draw their power, in part, from a Road, and it also often represents a philosophy or often a group of them, and then in many instances mages also visually/spiritually see the road itself. But these things can be present or absent in different combinations.
The word "following" for me has slight connotations of the philo-religious aspect. But thats probably ok for this character anyway...
following works. You can also make it a bit more philosophical by referring to his actions a following the spirit of the White Road or following the path of the White Road which makes the White Road a bit more metaphysical.
Fundamentally, the idea is intriguing. My preference runs toward the first opening. By the third one where were told of his complex emotional state in a blend of abstract terms, the POV seemed to have panned out a little too far (of course, that reaction comes in comparison to the alternate openings provided).
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I like the first opening the most, however, there are elements of the others that you may want to work into one. Sometimes I find it helpful to start with overview and zoom in. It helps me experience my world as an outsider looking in.
The crossroads that were the heart of the great city of Vierlion were crowded. The sick had come seeking healing; the weak succor. And in the midst of these sat Zerieth, cross-legged, upon the central platform...
[you may want to describe the platform at this point. Give some image to the reader, especially if it serves a significant purpose]
quote: As he sat, waiting for those in need of aid, protection or succor,
These three words are synonymous with each other, as you obviously noticed by keeping protection in your other versions and adding healing to the list. I only kept succor because I believe it to be a better word than protection. More you.
quote: In the years he had walked the White Road, he had seen it only a few times.
Did you mean to place "since" after "In the years": In the years since he had...? It would read better and make better sense if you had. I take it it's been a while since our MC walked the White Road? or am I wrong about this?
Now let's see what we can do with this:
quote:His attention was diverted by a man striding purposefully toward him from the direction of the Merchant’s Square. His
Here, I agree with Foste, use of purposefully does nothing and detracts from the flow. The writer needs to tell us how the MC "sees" this figure standing out among all of the infirm around him.
First, if this man is an important person and dressed accordingly you would have the crowd part, or maybe he would be the type to have bodyguards who would push people out of his way. Only you know the details of this person so far. Something has to be happening to "divert" Zerieth's attention away from his duties.
Second, does this man carry a frown or a smile? Are his eyes fixed on Zerieth's?
Third, what of his stride? Is he bounding, strolling, running, walking?
The introduction of this last character makes me want to read on. Something is about to happen, I feel you are about to introduce conflict, and by that I do not mean melee. Good job!
I've already sent this off with the last version of the begining, but I'm begining to think if it gets rejected I may refurbish it back to the original before sending it back out...or something very like that.
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I like the last version best. You introduce ideas then explain them (with his "curings" etc.) You might want to pop in how he feels about breaking up the fight etc, so beginning with "Still" has something to contrast with. I didn't see the need for the paragraph breaks.
I would read on. Let me know if you want a reader when this comes back (if it is unfortunate enough to do so. )
[This message has been edited by Dame (edited February 16, 2010).]
[This message has been edited by Dame (edited February 16, 2010).]