Well, considering the questions concerning the road, I thought about it, realizing that it isn't significant right now, so I cut most of it out. It will be important later, but right now, Damien wouldn't notice the details anyway.
Of course, one challenge here is, quite suddenly, trying to come up with something that won't obliterate the next several paragraphs from making any sort of sense. Then again, the whole next scene, being dependent on some of the details of this beginning, could be changed without much damage, so I think I'll take a shot at that.
The other challenge, of course, is getting past my 'set the scene before having anything happen' habit. Maybe, if I look at some of the other fragments on the forums, I'll be able to figure out how to do it without seeming confusing as all get-out. ... After some consideration, I don't really know if I can begin this one without having any kind of scene-setting in it. I have managed to reduce it further, though, tearing out the description of the road itself almost entirely (I think). If it's not enough, I would appreciate some suggestions.
Finally, before getting to the fragments - JASU, you posted your comment as I was trying to revise the fragment itself. I don't know why, but that's funny to me. As for your question, I'm about 2,300 words in, and right in the middle of an important scene.
VERSION 1 末末末末 The setting sun cast long shadows on the rolling plains, shadows drawn from bushes and stubby little trees. A single road cut through this land, perfectly straight, carved into the hills and built up to cross the dips on artificial ridges. It was wide and level, though only a dirt road, and had no gouges or ruts to disrupt it. One point on this road was marred, its surface glistening with pools of blood, goods and belongings scattered about. Two bodies lay off to one side, their throats ripped out, their eyes torn free of their sockets. Damien Vennik dragged himself away from the scene, praying that the feathered monster that had killed his parents would not return. It was a miracle that he was alive, that it had left.
末末末末 VERSION 2 末末末末 The setting sun cast long shadows on the rolling plains, obscuring a single road cut through the land. At one point, its surface glistened with pools of blood, goods and belongings scattered about. Two bodies lay off to one side, their throats ripped out, their eyes torn from their sockets. Damien Vennik crawled away from the scene, praying that the feathered monster would not return. It was a miracle that he was alive, that it had left. He dared not stand, fearing that the monster was still nearby, that it would see him above the low bushes around him. With a last prayer for the souls of his parents, he set out, hoping to find civilization before he starved. Days passed as Damien traveled alongside the road, fear keeping him low, determination keeping him going. 末末末末 *NOTE: Due to the 13 line limit, this version cuts out mid-paragraph. I can't bring myself to let it to cut out mid-sentence, though, so that last half-line or so isn't there.
Context - it's fantasy, and I'm aiming at bringing it into a series of sorts, whether with direct or indirect sequels in the future (a good bit of my focus on this is the world, to be totally honest). I've worked a good bit on concepts for races/species, nations, languages, cultures, and other such things, though I'm trying not to let this turn into a 'Guide to a Fictional World That Nobody's Ever Heard Of' type thing. Granted, it was all originally designed around a character named Kirona (yes, I know), who may very well never appear anywhere due to certain ... conflicts in the creation of the world and his essential character.
[This message has been edited by Kirona (edited January 16, 2009).]
[This message has been edited by Kirona (edited January 17, 2009).]
Is there any significance to the perfectly straight unblemished road? If not I wouldn't make such a point about it, because it has me thinking that it is important somehow to the opening.
I agree with the last poster to change "this land" and "this road" to 'the' in both instances. 'This' seems distancing from a reader's perspective.
quote: A single road cut through this land, perfectly straight, carved into the hills and built up to cross the dips on artificial ridges. It was wide and level, though only a dirt road, and had no gouges or ruts to disrupt it.
This is picky, but if the road cuts through hills and crosses valleys it's gonna be rock most likely, not soil. Also the word disrupt seems an odd choice.
The opening sentence was OK for me, but others might find it a little adjective heavy.
I read it once before, but wasn't hooked enough to reply to the thread. It's a bit difficult to figure out why, because there aren't any glaring mistakes in the writing.
Maybe it's too much gore, too fast. I don't have a problem with graphic descriptions of bodies, but I prefer it in a context where I have a reason to care - like a main character whom I'm involved with caring. Since I don't know Damien, I'm not feeling whatever he must feel when he sees the torn-up bodies of his parents.
Maybe it's that there aren't any really new ideas. Familiar terrain, two corpses, a guy who barely survived. And the writing itself, "dragged himself away", "praying that the feathered monster that killed his parents would not return", "miracle that he was alive", while conveying the information accurately, doesn't give any new or fresh details. If he were dragging himself by the arms because he couldn't feel his legs, or if he were praying that the monster wouldn't spot his orange tunic through the cover of the bushes he'd crawled under, or if it were a miracle that a deer had streaked across the road, distracting the monster from its intended prey, then there might have been enough to bring color and interest to the scene.
I am still interested in your story. There have been some good points made. Although I like the comparision maybe the description of the road should be slimmed down, allowing you to get a little further into the story. How much have you written on this story? I wouldn't mind reading what you have.
Posts: 17 | Registered: Jan 2009
| IP: Logged |
Version Two reads better for me, but (and I hate to say this) I still don't care enough about anything in the story to keep reading.
The writing, while solid, is so general that there's nothing really unique in the setting, monster, or character to hook me.
I'm somewhat hooked by the idea of the attack, but you skip that entirely (which is fine).
I'm willing to be hooked by sympathy for Damien, but you've kept me at a distance from him. I really don't know anything about him or what he's feeling beyond fear.
One option that might work is to fill in this snippet and make it a scene: create the tail end of the attack when Damien sees his chance to escape and does so and show him trembling as he scrambles to safety and looks over his shoulder as he tries to crawl away quietly (or whatever).
Another option is to begin the story once the first real scene occurs. You can give information about the attack when someone asks why he's roaming around alone or when he arrives home and wishes for his parents even as he sighs in relief.
Or you can leave it as is and add just a bit of unique description to help answer the questions you raise. "Feathered monster" gives me nothing to visualize. Is is a huge hawk or a big cat with feathers instead of fur or something else? Why did it leave him alive (was the monster distracted, too full, or was it literally a miracle)? IS he sad? We're only told he's afraid and there's little indication he cared for his parents, yet I'd expect him to be sad. I want to know why he's not. He doesn't seem to know where he is (since he doesn't know where civilization or food is), and I'm curious about why. His parents seemed to be traders of some sort, so is he so young he doesn't know? If not, why doesn't he know where he is and were the nearest city or farm house is? Also, is he unable to find any wild food? Why doesn't he travel on the road once he's out of sight of the monster?
You don't have to answer all these questions, but these are questions that are raised and not answered. You don't need long descriptions, just a careful choice of wording. For example,
Damien Vennik crawled past his parent's bloody bodies into the low bushes next to the road. The gryphon seemed fully engrossed in hunting the deer which had dash past moments ago, but it might still be nearby. His heart pounding, Damien crawled through the bushes away from the gryphon and into the unknown. He'd need to find food soon. The map, food, and trade goods were all back with his parents. He stifled a sob and whispered a Trader's prayer for the souls of the dead.
Days passed as Damien...
Again, you can take or leave any of this advice.
[This message has been edited by DebbieKW (edited January 17, 2009).]
quote:At one point, its surface glistened with pools of blood, goods and belongings scattered about.
The bold confuses me. At one point in the road, or one point in time?
quote:Damien Vennik crawled away from the scene, praying that the feathered monster would not return.
Scene seems a little bit distanced. Damien's parents have just been murdered, I think he might see it differently.
Is there any reason you can't just say 'griffin'?
quote:It was a miracle that he was alive, that it had left.
This sentence seems a bit odd. I could see him thinking this later on, but in the middle of his 'escape', I feel it distances the reader from what is happening.
quote:Days passed as Damien traveled alongside the road, fear keeping him low, determination keeping him going.
This abrupt movement in time put me off.
From the sounds of the opening, it sounds like you're really trying to move forward from this scene. One of the problems here, is that we don't know anything of Damien, except that he has just lost his parents. We cannot sympathize with his loss, because he just isn't real to us, yet.
Is there any reason you're not starting at a later point in time (For instance when he finally finds a town). Or, at a slightly earlier point in time (Just before the attack, or during)?
If you moved to one of these points, I feel you could get some characterization going, and I would care about what is happening to him (Or his parents, rather).
Right now, it just seems like this scene is 'thrown in', not to give us characterization, but rather to give us background on what has happened to Damien.
The writing itself doesn't have too many problems. It's entirely readable. The problem is in the context
Hope this helps, keep at it, because if you can figure it out, it will be an interesting read.
[This message has been edited by Gan (edited January 17, 2009).]
[This message has been edited by Gan (edited January 17, 2009).]
I felt the need to clarify. It seems like you're so excited to move onto the next scene, to further the story, that you let this beginning be an 'introduction'.
Posts: 260 | Registered: Jan 2009
| IP: Logged |