Tuesday, September 04, 2007

New Beginning 355

Once upon a time . . .

Was that how all the stories used to start? After all this time, all this loneliness and solitude he wasn’t sure what he remembered anymore . . . what was real?

Well, once upon a time he had been a man. He remembered that much at least.

Not just a man, but a knight.

Remember that, wretched creature. Hold to that.

A knight you were. The cherished knight of the king himself. The most loved knight in all the land, some said. Respected . . . renowned . . . a darling of the royal court . . . a paragon of virtue . . . a hero . . . And now . . .

Now he was reduced to naught but a beast, trapped forever as a rangy wolf, with only the boundaries of his forest as a buffer from the human world that had cast him off. The forest was now a sanctuary from the wickedness that had imprisoned him in this God-forsaken shape.

All that was good . . . all that was noble, all that was knightly in you is gone.

Still, there are consolations. You can detect the scent of a rabbit from a hundred yards . . . though you cannot wield a sword, your fangs are formidable weapons in their own right . . . and do not discount that other ability . . . that very special ability . . .

He curled up on the forest floor, extended his long, wolfen tongue, and proceeded to bathe his own balls with his hot saliva for the next seven hours.

Yes, there are consolations indeed.

Opening: E.D. Walker.....Continuation: Lightsmith


Evil Editor said...

Unchosen continuations:

Unsightly hair can make you feel like a wolf and keep you from getting it on with the ladies. If you'd like to get rid of it, call the Knight In Shining Armor Spa and Laser Hair Center for Men today.

Get your knighthood back.


And there you are…reduced to foraging in the forest…fleeing from the memories that haunt you still…in this dark place.

And yet, there were moments that provided.…respite for his suffering.

It was good that the knight formerly known as his second in duels, the tender young knight known as Rowan, had come looking for him in the forest… and found that he desired the love of his dear beast… as he had once desired the love of his dear friend.

They found one another at the boundary of the forest sanctuary, and it was…once upon a…all over again.

Remember that, my dear wretched creature, Rowan whispered to him. Remember our love.

No…no…no biting, my dear furry fellow…that’s not my javelin you’ve got there…I’ll hold on to that for both of us, shall I?

Good boy… good boy.

--Robin S.

Thank dog, he thought, as the pack gathered around him. Shaking off the last vestiges of good and noble, he playfully nipped at his alpha mate's hind leg. She responded by knocking him over. It was time to be a beast.


Get your knighthood back.


Well, almost everything. He was still in possession of his voice. He still could speak and understand people, although he also howled at the Full Moon. In the early mist of dawn, the rangy wolf awakens to the lilting sound of a sweet young voice. He pauses, ears twitching as he suddenly recognizes the melody and words of the child’s song:

Hey there Little Red Riding Hood,

You sure are looking good

You’re everything that a big bad wolf could want

Listen to me.


He can’t help himself, the howl escapes his lips and soon he is singing along with the sweet young girl –

What a big heart I have-the better to love you with.
Little Red Riding Hood
Even bad wolves can be good.
I'll try to be satisfied just to walk close by your side.
Maybe you'll see things my way before we get to grandma's place.*

*Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs



Evil Editor said...

This switching back and forth from talking to the reader to talking to the wolf: does that continue throughout?

As implied by at least one continuation, too many ellipses.

Consider shortening the last three paragraphs to something like:

A knight you were, cherished of the king himself. Respected. Renowned. A hero. And now . . .

Now a beast. A wolf, with naught but the forest as sanctuary from the human world. All that was noble, all that was knightly in you is gone.

Fewer words, same info.

writtenwyrdd said...

I found this a bit difficult to stick with. I'd really like to see you start with something other than all this verbiage with no description at all and nothing occurring. There was a voice in this that I was prepared to like, but I had to work to hard to stick with it. Beginning with "once upon a time" nearly lost me at the start.

The chosen continuation? OMG, still laughing!

Robin S. said...

You know, I think a lot of this is good. I just think you need tolose someof thsoe ellipses, and, as has been pointed out by the Evil One, look at your POV.

I'd say keep it in or out of the beast/former knight's POV, but then, I haven't see the whole piece, just the first 150 or so.

I like how it begins with Once upon a time, and how the concept of what is and isn't 'real' fades fast when there's trouble. A fairy tale gone horribly wrong.

I'd just pull back on a few things.

What genre is this?

Robin S. said...

Forgot to say, Lightsmith- your continuation kicked my continuation's butt.

It was really good!

Bonnie said...

It's kind of funky when it switches from an objective point of view to him talking to himself, but otherwise I liked the voice and wanted to keep reading.

WouldBe said...

Just from deleting text:

Once upon a time he had been a man. Not just a man, but a knight, the cherished knight of the king himself, the most loved knight in all the land.

Now he was reduced to naught but a beast, trapped forever as a rangy wolf, with only the boundaries of his forest as a buffer from the human world that had cast him off. The forest was now a sanctuary from the wickedness that had imprisoned him in this God-forsaken shape.

All that was good . . . all that was noble, all that was knightly in you is gone.

Gordon said...

Sure, some polishing might be in order, but you had me hooked. I want to read more.

Breka said...

I like the opening, and I'd say keep it in the knight's POV, unless that doesn't work throughout. If you are going to switch back and forth, make sure it's more obvious and set apart. Like mentioned, a few less ellipses (addictive little things) and maybe a little less wordy. The use of 'naught' strikes me as awkward. I'd keep reading!

GutterBall said...

Gahahahah! Great continuation!

The Little Red Riding Hood one was trippy, too. Woot!

I'm a little elipsis crazy, too, but I'm trying to break the habit. Not everything needs that kind of emphasis. Maybe if I keep telling you that, I'll get it. Heh.

Ello said...

I liked this alot and wanted to keep reading. If I picked this up in the bookstore and this was the opening, I probably would keep reading and if the next few pages were as intriguing, I'd be buying the book.

OH and by the way, EE, your word verification hates me!

McKoala said...

Yoda? Is that you?

But seriously. An awful lot of ellipses. Liking EE's shorter version.

Elissa said...

This is the Beauty & the Beast riff we saw the query for last week, right?

I liked it. I'm wondering if the "you" bits were perhaps the wolf/ex-man talking to himself, and in their final form, might appear in italics or quotation markes?

I'm interested and intrigued and would definitely read on if the POV is clarified and ellipses reduced.

Wouldbe's version (done by deletions) seemed to me to also delete much of the voice and character of this opening. Made it more ordinary, which in my view is non-progress.

Anonymous said...

Love both the shorter versions. The information is all there, but they have a much smoother flow and less stuff to trip up the reader.

The forest was now a sanctuary from the wickedness that had imprisoned him in this God-forsaken shape.

I'm having problems with this line. On one hand, I like it because it has a lot of feelings and information packed in one sentence. On the other hand, it gives me two conflicting impressions. The forest as a sanctuary - at peace - and God-forsaken shape - conflict. And they both exist in the here and now. Can't decide if this is a good thing or not.


~Nancy said...

I think it's unanimous that the elipses are way overdone. And I think you should stick to the knight's POV, as the switches had me a bit confused.

I would read on because it sounds interesting.

To Robin S.: paranormal, most likely.

Loved the continuations!


Phoenix said...

I mentioned on the Crapometer that I love the writing for this opening (though I'm not convinced it's the right starting point -- maybe as a prologue?). I think the voice is wonderful and the POV switches are handled well. A bit trippy on the first one, but then the reader knows what to expect for each subsequent one.

I, too, am prone to using too many ellipses and always have to go back and prune them ruthlessly out of my work (but not completely!). It's hard. I really like ellipses...

Though some minions like the shorter versions offered up, I think they lose the voice and the rhythm. Yes, everything can be made shorter. Everything can be condensed. But does everything HAVE to be? Not everyone has to write like Hemingway. Some people aspire to Faulkner.

Of course, some people don't have the discipline of voice and sentence structure and style down. Inelegant, wild, unwieldy sentences should always be tamed. But this author seems to know what they're doing, so I say, have at it. It's a style thing.

I also really like Robin's continuation ... but then, I'm a sucker for continuations that stay in the author's voice :o)

Evil Editor said...

I don't find the voice at all different in my shortened version. The knight is described as cherished, loved, respected, renowned, darling, a paragon, a hero, knightly, and noble. I reduced the number of adjectives, which was a bit repetitive.

My changes in the paragraph that isn't a list were mainly based on the query. As I understand it, he isn't trapped forever as a wolf; Isobeau is working with him to change him back. The author can tell us if they have success. And it was his wife who trapped him, not the entire human world. Also, "God-forsaken" is usually applied to a dismal, desolate place. To call the shape of a wolf God-forsaken seems overboard if not incorrect.

My suggestion wasn't necessarily to shorten; replacing with new info is fine.

Robin S. said...

Hi phoenix,

Am I dreaming, or did you just now go from "black to blue" and do a profile?

I'm glad you liked my continuation - thanks- I haven't done many of these, but when we got the clarion call from EE, I popped him a few things. That's it for now - unless another call goes out- as I'm frantically trying to finish my own work, especially the first three chapters, as they are going for a little visit this weekend, I just found out about an hour ago,in an unintentionally speedy manner.

Anyway...(ellipse time) I'd say both you and EE are right on this one, in your own special (and very individual)… ways.

What I mean by that is...
I think this piece had some really good descriptions and was mood evocative - but adjective heavy and "overdrawn" a bit. (Suffering from that myself at times, I recognize it when I see it!) On the other hand, I do think simply shortening and "cleaning up" sometimes loses the author their voice/style. On the other hand, (if I had three of them), I think this can be cleaned up, shortened, if you will, with the style intact. I’ve lately been taking whole paragraphs of prose out of my revised work-in-progress, and the tightness is almost visceral.

I'd think the only missing ingredient here is that the author accomplish this his-or-her self, to keep the style thoroughly their own, maybe using EE’s version as a template of sorts. It’s the “kill your darlings” thing, I guess, in all its glory.

I'm trying to look at what EE says, now that he’s saying it, and superimpose his comments on what we all say, figuring that having an evil editor's feedback is pretty close to priceless.

Phoenix said...

Hmm, EE:

From Random House Dictionary:

god·for·sak·en –adjective (sometimes initial capital letter) 1. desolate; remote; deserted: They live in some godforsaken place 40 miles from the nearest town.
2. wretched; neglected; pitiable.

And at this point in the story, the wolf doesn't know he isn't trapped forever. It was easy to call the writing conventions "POV switches," but really, they aren't switches at all -- this is all from the wolf's POV, and the wolf thinks he's trapped forever.

The rhythm and the repetition is all part of the voice, and while I may be the only one who thinks this, I think it does lose something in the shorter version. Just my opinion, of course. But hey, I'm not a big fan of Picasso either, so what do I know?

Egads, I finally post a nice comment about a piece of writing, and I get castigated! See if I ever post anything nice again! What's that saying about "behavior reinforcement?" Minions, be warned...

Phoenix said...

Hi Robin: Thanks for noticing! Yes, I have a blogger profile now. I finally took the plunge and settled on a pen name (people can't seem to pronounce my real last name), bought the domain name (it's currently parked), and set up an email address under "Phoenix Sullivan." One day, perhaps, people will know me as simply Phoenix -- like Barbara or Cher or Ice T. :o)

When I can think of something original to blog about, I will.

Here's my new tagline:
Fantasy and Romance
That Captures the Heart
And Dares to Dream

Am entertaining criticism on it from anyone who wants to give it!

Did you get a request for a partial or a full, Robin? Woo-hoo ... hooray and congrats!

BuffySquirrel said...

I like this opening. Okay, maybe it has too many ellipses :) but those first few lines are intriguing. I want to know about this person who's so lost they think their own life is only a fairy tale.

Evil Editor said...

I was under the impression I was giving my viewpoint, not castigating anyone.

Note that I suggested zero changes in paragraphs 1, 2, 3, and 6. Note that I said: Consider shortening the last three paragraphs to something like:

Note that I said "God-forsaken" is usually applied to a dismal, desolate place. Dictionary.com gives definitions from Random House, American Heritage and Princeton Univ.'s Wordnet. The latter two don't even mention any definition other than desolate, so I stand by "usually."

Note that I didn't call the writing conventions POV switches; I said the storyteller (narrator or wolf), was switching from talking to the reader to talking to the wolf (3rd person to second). Nor did I criticize this technique; I merely asked the author if it continued throughout the book.

Like most of you, I liked the opening. And I appreciate all comments, whether they agree with my own or not. Presumably when I was asked to comment on the openings, it was to provide feedback I thought might be useful. My opinion is no better than anyone else's (except Dave's) so it's up to the author to decide what works best. (Just kidding, Dave.)

Anonymous said...

Hey, where is Dave? Place isn't the same without him.

Phoenix said...

It's OK, EE, I was just kidding about feeling castigated. I actually typed in a smiley face after that remark, then deleted it before posting. Should have gone with my first instinct :o)

Just differing viewpoints and healthy disagreement. All to be expected in such an objectively subjective environment, eh?

Actually, I appreciate the opportunity to debate a little. Makes it more fun!

Robin S. said...

EE, please don't stop commenting on the openings.

phoneix, please don't stop being yourself.

Dave, come the hell back. Now, please.

BuffySquirrel said...

*pours water on the flames*

Ooops, that was oil!

*retreats to a safe distance*

Anonymous said...

See, here's the reason you shouldn't comment, EE: Having to defend yourself from the minions! You are supposed to be the Faceless Face of Evil here!