Monday, January 19, 2009

New Beginning 597

Lord Verenth rode into town at the head of a dozen Listurgian guards. Despite the back paths they had traveled, their leather and metal armor still gleamed, their formation was perfect, and the halberds they held as a mark of their rank glistened in the sun.

At a signal, the group halted. Lord Verenth looked about the town. Typically of towns everywhere, particularly those on the edge of the Empire, though larger than most. It held a few central houses and what he took to be a trades hall. People milling about their business. Lord Verenth leaned over to address an old man leaning on a tall staff on the knot of which he'd fixed a light to help him find his way at night.

"Excuse me. I'm looking for Pradek Malkovic Imbar."

Just then, there was a loud roar from the east. Everyone looked to see some great structure flying through the air and dragging behind it some great plume of fire. From the sheen of the thing it was made of fire, though Lord X could not figure how it would be gotten into the air. It had wings, but surely they would be useless, after all, they didn't move.

Eventually the noise settled as the vehicle moved out of sight. Lord Verenth's attention turned back to the old man. "Incredible!" he exclaimed. "Absolutely incredible. What unearthly technology is it?"

"This?" The old man shrugged. "It's nothing. I already had the stick, and I just tied the flashlight on with some string. Pretty cool, eh?"


Opening: D Jason Cooper.....Continuation: anon.

17 comments:

Evil Editor said...

Unchosen Continuations:



"Excuse me. I'm looking for Pradek Malkovic Imbar."

The old man was looking after the vehicle which had just passed.

"Just missed him."

--BBJD


"Dude we have got to get this festival farther out of New York and, just so you know, using cording to tie your L.L. Bean flashlight onto that stick does not make it authentic!"

--wendy


. . . just in time to spot the crimson flick of a cape as he watched him bolt through a door at the end of the alley.

"Donner! -- Bliltson!" he roared.

Tossing their antlers in an agitated manner his two top guards pranced to his side with haste, causing their nose and breast plate armor to jingle melodiously.

"You saw that blasted abomination in the air. Wings, fire -- that was no flying sleigh. Something has gone very wrong here in Rudolph Land."

Donner and Bliltson eyed each other with chagrin but as usual did not speak. Having to carry a halberd in your mouth day in and day out was a problem Load Verenth seemed totally oblivious to. They rattled their armor again in an attempt to communicate understanding and readiness as Lord Verenth read the inscription whittled on the staff he had retrieved from the ground.

"If found please return to Pradek Malkovic Imbar -- Chief Elf, Nicholas Lane -- Reward."

Lord V looked up with irritation.
"Stop tossing those halberds about and get a move on. Off with you, you hoofed dolts. Follow that man!"
Loyalty to Lord Verenth aside, they had no wish to be done out of their cushy sleigh jobs by some staff-conjured blob of gold fire. So, with a chattering rush, halberds thrown to the ground, they got a move on indeed.

--r.w.glover



"I know all our horses are deaf, old man, but surely you aren't?" he said.

--BuffySquirrel


"That was his flight," said the old man. "What're you in that get-up for? You in a play?"

"Nevermind." Lord Verenth spurred his horse onward. If Lord X had lied to him, there'd be hell to pay.

--khazar-khum

BuffySquirrel said...

lol @the continuation!

Srsly, though, the horses have to react.

Evil Editor said...

Definitely interesting.

P2: Delete "everywhere, particularly those"

Change "typically" to "typical."

As the list of things in the town includes two non-sentences, may as well be consistent by deleting "It held."

A light on a stick could be a signaling device or (like a bicycle reflector) used for safety. If we're in Lord V's POV, should we be able to declare what it's used for? And why is he called Lord X in paragraph 4?

P4: I'd change both "some"s to "a."

And the comma after "useless" to a semicolon or period.

150 said...

So there's one guy with a fantasy name, one guy with a name derived from three different nationalities, and an airplane.

I'm not the right audience for this story.

Dave F. said...

When I first read this, I groaned. I Grew up reading fantasy/SciFi and over the years have learned to be wary of any story starting out with odd names. Now that shouldn't stop anyone from writing other-worlds and strange places but it places a burden on me, the reader. After a half dozen multiple volume extravaganzas that didn't satisfy me, I tend to not read those stories.

That's why I groaned. And to make matters worse, I read "listurgian" as Listerine. It's me and not you. Your writing style is good for this story - lush, vivid and descriptive.

The imagery is good. The situation is interesting but inactive until the rocket takes off. Is it possible to move the rocket launch closer to the opening line? Is it possible to make the rocket launch the opening line? Or to make Lord what's-his-name reaction to the launch the opening?

Perhaps before the description of the town? Can the and the halberds they held as a mark of their rank glistened in the sun become royal Halberds, glistening in the sun...?

What I'm asking for is not revision, but change in place of the various groups of words. And if you leave it as it is, that's OK with me too.

Bevie said...

Perfect continuation.

Sarah from Hawthorne said...

This is an interesting start but I think you're missing opportunities to give the reader a sense of the mood and the characters.

Lord Varenth seems to be your perspective character for this scene, but there's no indication of his state of mind. Is he resentful about being sent to the sticks? Is he grateful for any excuse to visit the country? Or is he the perfect military man who only sees tactical strengths and weaknesses?

What is the reaction of the town people when a guard troop marches into the main square? Are they cheering? Are they nervous? Or does this kind of thing happen every day on the border?

Just a little rephrasing would tell your audience a lot more about what's going on here and start establishing an emotional connection. I want to feel like I'm there, and that means I need a way in to empathize.

freddie said...

I don't think the names in here are too bad, although if 150 is right, you'll have to change them. Research your names and make them pronounceable. No Lord Pezerghtorthnwerml's, or anything of the kind.

Anonymous said...

insert name of town and add location- at the edge of Empire tells me something, but you can do more. put it north or south of Snicker Ville - bring me into your world and treat it as if it exists.

exchange guards for Sergeants, foot soldiers or cavalry. See below

Despite the back paths they had traveled,- Delete.


As a mark of their rank they held - delete (Who is they? Is it all twelve, two, six? The halberd wasn’t used to mark rank until after the 17th century and were carried by sergeants. Before the seventieth century it was the mark of a foot soldier. Are Listurgian Guards a group of sergeants, a cavalry or foot soldiers? Just because the leader rode in, doesn’t mean the soldiers did too.

Try: Lord Verenth signaled and the group halted.

The way he surveys the town is an information dump.

People milling around isn’t really action but it is really vague. Bring us into the town.

Typically of towns everywhere, particularly those on the edge of the Empire, though larger than most(delete. The great writer that you are, told us this in sentence one).

An old man walked up to a lord? Why is this town so calm about the arrival of soldiers? Even if they are ordinary, why don’t the town’s folk react? Soldiers usually mean trouble.

Since I don’t know who Pradek is, this isn't as interesting as you think.


Everyone looked to see some great structure (vague) flying through the air and dragging behind it some great plume of fire (Delete this whole Sentence).

From the sheen of the thing it was made of fire (okay so it’s a ???? of fire- ), though Lord X could not figure how it would be gotten into the air (switch POV to a Lord that hasn’t been mentioned). It had wings, but surely they would be useless, after all, they didn't move. (rework all of this)

Eventually the noise settled as the vehicle (Oh it’s a flaming charanbanc) moved out of sight.

150 said...

freddie: Since I took the time to google them, I'll just throw them up here:

Pradek - Lithuanian: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=pradek&btnG=Search
Malkovic - Croatian: http://www.croatia-in-english.com/gen/sur-reg2.html
Imbar - Indonesian: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minahasa_Surname#I

They were fun to look up, anyway. I wouldn't have looked them up except that I knew Malkovic was an Earth name, and was curious if the other were too.

Anonymous said...

insert name of town and add location- at the edge of Empire tells me something, but you can do more. put it north or south of Snicker Ville - bring me into your world and treat it as if it exists.

exchange guards for Sergeants, foot soldiers or cavalry. See below

Despite the back paths they had traveled,- Delete.


As a mark of their rank they held - delete (Who is they? Is it all twelve, two, six? The halberd wasn’t used to mark rank until after the 17th century and were carried by sergeants. Before the seventieth century it was the mark of a foot soldier. Are Listurgian Guards a group of sergeants, a cavalry or foot soldiers? Just because the leader rode in, doesn’t mean the soldiers did too.

Try: Lord Verenth signaled and the group halted.

The way he surveys the town is an information dump.

People milling around isn’t really action but it is really vague. Bring us into the town.

Typically of towns everywhere, particularly those on the edge of the Empire, though larger than most(delete. The great writer that you are, told us this in sentence one).

An old man walked up to a lord? Why is this town so calm about the arrival of soldiers? Even if they are ordinary, why don’t the town’s folk react? Soldiers usually mean trouble.

Since I don’t know who Pradek is, this isn't as interesting as you think.


Everyone looked to see some great structure (vague) flying through the air and dragging behind it some great plume of fire (Delete this whole Sentence).

From the sheen of the thing it was made of fire (okay so it’s a ???? of fire- ), though Lord X could not figure how it would be gotten into the air (switch POV to a Lord that hasn’t been mentioned). It had wings, but surely they would be useless, after all, they didn't move. (rework all of this)

Eventually the noise settled as the vehicle (Oh it’s a flaming charanbanc) moved out of sight.



Delete this.

Since we don't know who you are, this isn't as interesting as you think.

writtenwyrdd said...

This reads well enough, but that line "the halberds they held as a mark of their rank" really bugged me. Halberds aren't marks of rank, they're weapons. If weapons are a mark of rank it needs some 'splainin, Lucy.

R.W. Glover said...

I liked it. "A" the "some greats" and change the names sure, but it leads you into a world with grace.

After reading Buffy and Sarah's posts I realized that that it was my chromosomes that made me want to change this piece into fantasy in the continuation. I wanted kittens or at least a love interest. Let's face it in Super sci-like scifi the girls are only around to drop their undergarments or get hit by a laser to provoke the guys into saving the world.

So the men like the tec-gimics and the big flaming object and the women wonder about the horses and people. (I know this is a generalization -- there are probably many exceptions out there, reader-wise.)

I personally like it when things polarize. Dynamic tension means we can all raise our halberds, (or our mini-halberds) high and yell -- viva la difference!

BuffySquirrel said...

Did someone say kittens?

Phoenix said...

Hi DJC: I read this yesterday and gave it a day to see if I'd feel differently reading it later. Alas, no. I'm just not drawn into it. As others have mentioned, it needs more reaction from the characters -- more show, less tell.

The "Just then" sentence particularly grated on me. It's not very elegant transition, IMO. It jars rather than surprises. And even though the narrative makes the "vehicle" out to be something of mystery and fabulously mythic, since the only thing anyone around is doing is looking at it move off, it loses impact. Is it such a common event that the townspeople are nothing more than annoyed by the noise?

And the rest of the towns in the vaguely termed "Empire" must be incredibly small if a few houses and a trades hall equate to a town larger than most.

A few more grounding details and more reactions from your characters will go a long way to making this a really hooky opening.

And about "Lord X" -- I just figured that was a placeholder that you forgot to replace once you decided on the name of your character.

D Jason Cooper said...

If you have a very different society to write about, do you pretend it's closer to Earth than it is so people can ease into it, or do you stay true to what it is and fill in the pieces as you go? That's the problem here.
They are Listurgian guards, they serve the Emperor in the capital under the symbol of the Lista. They use halberds as a badge of rank, meaning they move crowds when they have to.
Most of the area is covered with hamlets, so this town is larger than average.
The guy with the light is the world's greatest wizard, the craft was created by his son, the greatest scientist in the world. This town (and the main one further along) have seen it all before.
Lord Verenth is a kind of high-profile spy. His reaction to all this is that it might be the most dangerous mission he's ever been on, his best yet.

batgirl said...

Author, not that I'm published or anything, but as a reader I'd rather have the story be true to the world and not pre-chewed. Fill in the info as you go - when the reader wants to know it, and not before.
If you use non-Earth names, it increases the chances that the reader won't assume this happens on Earth, for instance.

Blending fantasy and sf is difficult, because the genre expecations are different. It's harder, of course, when you only have 150 words to get your genre-blend across.