Friday, October 10, 2008

New Beginning 560

Gwen came upon the wolf without warning, surprising them both. When he heard her, he jumped and began pulling at the chain attached to the trap around his leg. A low-throated growl paired with a pained high-pitched whine came from his throat. He looked sickly and thin. Gwen thought he looked like the ghost wolf her father used to describe to her in his nightly ghost stories to her. They stood facing each other for what seemed like a long time to Gwen. He was huge. His coat was all white. It must have once been silky and glossy, but now it was ragged and caked with mud. The wolf didn't growl or raise his hackles. Gwen sensed the wolf was at the end of his rope (well, his chain) and simply didn't care. He was too malnourished to work up a fight.

The wolf whimpered, then nuzzled at the trap that bit down on his leg. He stared at Gwen with his deep blue eyes. She could almost hear his gentle plea for help.

She dropped to her knees to be on the same level as the wolf. "You're the biggest wolf I've ever seen round here," she told him. He bowed his head.

She removed her picnic lunch from her bag and set it off to the side, then took out her pistol and put the beast down.

Maybe if Gwen's father hadn't traumatized her with those fucking ghost stories, she would have had more compassion for the local wildlife.


Opening: Freddie.....Continuation:
anon.

16 comments:

Evil Editor said...

Unchosen continuation:


"You don't look anything like gramma!" she said. With a flip of her red hood, Gwen trotted off.

--Khazar-khum

Evil Editor said...

Near the end it's said: The wolf didn't growl... But the wolf did growl, in sentence 3. "The wolf didn't growl" should come directly after Gwen does something that we might expect to cause growling, not after a description of the wolf.

(well, his chain) suggests a lighter tone than the rest, which is okay if the overall tone is going to be lighter from now on. Otherwise it feels out of place, not something I'd expect if we're in her POV in this situation.

Dave F. said...

"Without warning" and "surprising them both" say the same thing. Are we "in the forest" or "on the trail" or "by the large red rock"...

They are looking at each other. So she sees the wolf pulling at the trap. It's not a matter of hearing unless you tell the story from the perspective of the wolf.

I would say that the wolf alternated between a low growl and a high pitched whine. While there is a second vocal component to the voice of the world's great operatic tenors, this wolf is not Pavarotti. Although he might look like the bearded one...

And finally, I see something that is worth rearranging. I do this all the time in my writing. What do you think of moving
They stood facing each other for what seemed like a long time to Gwen.
to before
He looked sickly and thin.
and creating a new paragraph. This places all of the sentences describing the wolf in one paragraph and Gwen's meeting with the wolf in the other.

It's an interesting opening. A straightforward meeting that attracts the reader into the story. Both characters and the situation are sympathetic.

freddie said...

Yes, you're right, EE. I really should do a better job editing before I send you these things.

freddie said...

I loved the continuation, by the way.

Whirlochre said...

You're straight into the action, but there are inconsistencies.

The multiplicity of wolf throat action throws up a red light. He's making some noises, and that's fine, but it currently reads like he's harmonising with himself.

I'm not sure what to do make of the parentheses, and share EE's opinion on this.

Also not sure about the wolf being too malnourished to put up a fight yet being possessed of the energy to jump up and pull at his chain.

And maybe the following sections could be pruned to single sentences.

He looked sickly and thin. Gwen thought he looked like the ghost wolf her father used to describe to her in his nightly ghost stories to her.

His coat was all white. It must have once been silky and glossy, but now it was ragged and caked with mud.

That said, it's wolves, and I'm hoping her father's stories are more than a passing reference.

writtenwyrdd said...

This is succeeding in dropping us into the middle of the action, but it's also striving for a certain moodiness, or so it seems to me. I don't think it quite works for either, though because the writing is just a touch rushed. Slow it down a little bit. If it is a shock or crisis, the perceptions do slow down, and the person will notice more details--generally focusing on the emergency and the details related to that, as you have done here. But I think just a bit more to get us into the scene first, before she comes across the wolf.

"Gwen thought he looked like the ghost wolf her father used to describe to her in his nightly ghost stories to her" might read better as "Gwen thought he looked like the ghost wolf from her father's nightly tales." It's less repetitive and wordy.

I do like your voice and would have continued reading. I anticipated this being a werewolf, but that's just a guess.

freddie said...

Really great suggestions, everyone. I'm hoping to revise this today.

This is an "ode" to Jack London and his bloodcurdling tales of Buck and White Fang—but with supernatural elements, of course. Because that's what I do.

Thanks for the comments, all! I hope to have this finished and out to mags by the end of October. We shall see. I've got a slight reprieve at school (no projects due at the moment).

writtenwyrdd said...

Funny, I never found Buck or White Fang blood curdling in the least. Now Poe...

Robin S. said...

Hey freddie,

This needs a little clean up here and there, and I bet you see just where, now that this is on the blog here - that's how it goes for me, too.

Anyway, I like it, and I like its potential. I think I'd keep that low growl/high-pitched whine combination in the beginning - I knew the sound right away when you described it, and I could hear it as I read. So - I'd lose the 'he didn't growl later - maybe continue with that sad worried sound he made initially. Other than that, and a few sentences that needed a few words removed (I don't think you need "to Gwen" after "seemed a long time", for instance?, I think you've got something good here.

And - the continuation was really good.

ChrisEldin said...

I want to be close to the wolf. Really close. I want the details that will tug at my emotions. I think this is a good draft, but it's too journalistic (jmo).
I agree that it needs to be slowed down. Give us a poignant moment.

ChrisEldin said...

Hi Freddie,
I hope it's okay to go through this in more detail, because I agree with Robin and think it has great potential. And I saw on your blog you've been working on this. So here goes with my comments, which are really just opinions...

Gwen came upon the wolf without warning, surprising them both. ((I want to see what she's seeing. How did she 'come upon' him? Pull aside tree branches? Trip on a rock and nearly fall on him? Give us some sensory detail.))


When he heard her ((This is telling. Show us. "His ear twitched. His tail moved....)), he jumped ((jumped is too active)) and began pulling at the chain attached to the trap around his leg. A low-throated growl paired with a pained high-pitched whine came from his throat. ((LOVE this!!!)) He looked sickly ((how? watery eyes? etc)) and thin ((ribs showing)). Gwen thought he looked like the ghost wolf her father used to describe to her in his nightly ghost stories to her ((I love the phrase 'ghost wolf.' I would simply say that: Gwen thought he looked like a ghost wolf.))

((I thought the rest of this paragraph could be deleted. Sorry! Again, this is just my opinion. But I think ending a paragraph with the visual 'ghost wolf' is really cool.))They stood facing each other for what seemed like a long time to Gwen. He was huge. His coat was all white. It must have once been silky and glossy, but now it was ragged and caked with mud. The wolf didn't growl or raise his hackles. Gwen sensed the wolf was at the end of his rope (well, his chain) and simply didn't care. He was too malnourished to work up a fight.

The wolf whimpered, then nuzzled at the trap that bit down on his leg. He stared at Gwen with his deep blue eyes. She could almost hear his gentle plea for help. ((Nice paragraph. Very nice.))

These are just some thoughts, Freddie. It's hard to do this when it's such a short passage....
I hope we see more!!

Good luck!!

Sarah Laurenson said...

Ditto for me to what most have said. Just some tweaks and you're good to go.

I'd read on. Nice job!

Great continuation.

freddie said...

Wow, Chris, thanks for being so detailed! (Although that last paragraph you cited is actually part of the continuation, I think. Maybe I'll steal it. LOL!)

Also, thanks, Sarah. Glad to see this may shape up to be something good.

freddie said...

You know, before turning this in (hah—I sound like it's an assignment), I truly thought I was getting worse as a writer instead of better. But I think I'm just noticing more problems that existed in my writing from the start. (Though, as EE pointed out with the growling, not enough!)

Thanks again, everyone.

Okay, this time I remembered to check the little e-mail followup box.

BuffySquirrel said...

Needs focus :).

I don't think "pairing" and "paining" do well so close together.