Tuesday, April 21, 2009

New Beginning 630 (Excerpt)

Joe hung back and rode behind the wagons. It smarts bein’ traded for a horse. Jus ‘bout any way a body look at it, it’s belittlin’. Young pup Kincaid goes and gets his horse kilt, then wants old Joe as payment. A slave see a sight of twisted things in the world, but this beat all. An’ Kincaid puts on like he done the right thing, like a nigger ought to be happy and beholden. “But I ain’t no nigger,” Joe swore to himself. Decent folk jus don’t uproot a person like that. Black or white. Fifteen years workin’ for Lerocque, even though he be the masser, means somethin’. Goin’ through good times and bad, sharing cold camps, short rations, and danger; binds people together. Even masser and slave. Lerocque weren’t so bad. He only gave a taste of the lash oncst, and then he didn’t lay it on hard.

No, sir, ain't nothin' worse 'n' bein' traded fer a horse.

Joe mumbled to himself for the next hour, till the group fetched up at ranch. He followed Kincaid and the others as they wandered over to a paddock where a huge horse was kicking up a storm.

"Holy smoke," Garrigan said, pushing back the brim of his hat. "That's one wild stallion. Jeez, look at the size of his--"

"That's the truth," Kincaid said. He leaned on the fence. "Reckon he's frustrated. A meeting with my mare woulda calmed him down enough so's he'd take a saddle."

"Mebbe so, Kincaid, but what you gonna do now yer horse been kilt?"

Kincaid thought for a while, then turned toward Joe.

Opening: Wes.....Continuation: Anon.


Evil Editor said...

Unchosen Continuations:

Well, he wouldn't do it, jus to spite them. They might be givin' him the perfect chance, tryin' to adjust Leroque's new horse kilt, but he wouldn't run. Decent folk didn't. An' decent folk knew horse kilts went on horses.


An' that was too bad, 'cause I kinda liked it when he and the Missus would dress me up in leather and have their way with me. The Missus sure knew how to make a man happy, if you know what I mean.

Well, now the horse is gonna have all the fun.


Evil Editor said...

It doesn't sound to me like Joe was traded for a horse. Or like Kincaid got his horse killed. It sounds like someone else was responsible for the horse being killed, and Joe was given as compensation.

The whole excerpt sounds like it's here to convey information to the reader. Joe isn't likely to be thinking about the history of his relationship with Lerocque. He'd just be thinking:

A slave takes a lot of shit in the world, but if this don't beat all. Traded for a goddamn dead horse. An’ Kincaid puts on like he done the right thing, like a nigger ought to be beholden. Sheeeittt.

Steven said...

A horse was worth a lot more than an the average slave. Being traded for a horse is hardly an insult. Being traded for a mule is could be considered a compliment, since a good mule would (often still does) fetch a better price than a horse.

There are better ways to deal with race than this, especially in 2009. I know you're trying be authentic but being authentic needs to be more than the 1940's TV version of what a black slave sounds and acts like.

The phonetic writing was painful to my brain. If you're deeply attached to it, save it for the dialogue, though I'd suggest you look at speech pattern. Combing the occasional coloqual term with the proper speech pattern will do everything phonetic spelling can do.

I'm also confused as to why an old 1940's cliche slave character has a touch of the twenty first century teenage angst.

Dave Fragments said...

Gee, this is going to sound bad, but I have to say it. It isn't eloquent. There is a point in all narrative where a character "gets it". We want those points to be sure, precise and eloquent. I suspect this is a one of those points.

Here's a good sign to the fact that words are defeating your meaning: You repeat too many things. Hung back and rode behind. Belittling and "young pup" say the same thing. "Going through good time and bad" and "see a sight of twisted things"... And that list of good thing snd bad things is too long.

The climax is Joe's statement "But I ain’t no nigger". You put it in the middle of the paragraph when it should be at the end. It is a exclamation point. The "n" word, like the "f" word and the "c" word and all those words stop all activity in our brains. It belongs at the end of the paragraph to close up the thought or focus the emotion.

Profane words are power words. It's like hitting a badly behaved horse between the eyes with a 2x4. That isn't just me bloviating. I have books on words that discuss the power of profane language.

Joe's horse kicked and fussed at riding behind the wagons in the dust and dung, insignificant.

It smarts being traded for a horse. Joe thought. Fifteen years working for Lerocque meant nothing. Goin’ through good times and bad, sharing cold camps, short rations, and danger; binds people together, but not master and slave, not Larokue and me. Lalique care for nothing.

No sir, a slave ain't worth no more than a horse. Young pup Kincaid goes and gets his horse kilt, then wants old Joe as payment. And Kincaid puts on like he done the right thing, like a nigger ought to be happy and beholding.

“But I ain’t no nigger,” Joe swore.
(Sorry, I had some fun with Lerocque's name too.)

James Pray said...

I realize the voice is important to this story, but it can and should be accomplished in a cleaner, more readable way, most especially without an apostrophe to indicate every chopped-off 'g'. Let the sentence structure and vocabulary get that work done for you. "Just about any way a body look at it, it’s belittling": I think this retains basically all of the voice without coming over as silly or stereotypical, though belittling sounds out of place.

The place to have fun with phonetics is dialog - and even then, don't get all self-conscious and add apostrophes! Tryin, not tryin'.

Dave Fragments said...

BTW - years ago in College, I played bagpipes and dressed in the full outfit - spats, hose tops, kilt, sporan, doublet, plaid and cap. My outfit was close to the kit worn by the BlackWatch Regiment.

However, a kilt for a horse give me the seriously awful giggles and guffaws. "kilt" might not be good slang for "killed"... It's up to you.

_*rachel*_ said...

It feels a bit whiny, the way a lot of people took my Facelift 622. Yeah, he's upset, but it might be better to cut some of the repetition or show more through actions and body language.

I also agree that the structure is annoying. Some of it's the dialect, but some of it's the sentence type, too. Simple and choppy may be dialect, but it's still bugging me a bit.

And continuation anon, you're messed up.

Wes said...

Great continuations, but I suggest you seek professional help............

Thanks for the feedback. I'll definitely consider it.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure what's "messed up" about Kincaid asking Joe for advice, but maybe you're reading more into it than I am...

_*rachel*_ said...

Asking for advice? Maybe it's better for your peace of mind that you not get it.

Lauren K said...

Like a few of the other posters I find this difficult to read. It sounds like it could be an interesting story but with dialect a little can go a long way. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

Opening sentence is third person past tense. The rest seems to be the internal thought process of a nigger.

Yes I said nigger because though you character tells himself he's not one, that's exactly what he is. Racist much?

" A slave see a sight of twisted things in the world, but this beat all." There are worse things than being traded for a horse and if this beats all this slave has seen I don't believe he's a slave.

" An’ Kincaid puts on like he done the right thing, like a nigger ought to be happy and beholden."

Really, the master sat down and had a talk with the slave he traded for a horse.

“But I ain’t no nigger,”
I believe he is, but that's not the larger problem here. It's the lack of research. Slaves referred to themselves as niggers and until recent history (late fifties) have been offended when certain black folk thought of themselves as anything other than niggers.

"Decent folk jus don’t uproot a person like that.(and the rest)"

It's obvious you're trying to get sympathy for the slave owner here. And the rest of this just shows how little you've research you've done. "Massers" uprooted their slaves all the time. Tore apart families and if this slave had more dimension he'd be worried about being separated from his wife (they couldn't marry legaly but they married within their communities) and kids. (Let me guess he doesn't have any and his only "friend" is his masser)

I think this is supposed to be a western of some sort, but all action ceases after sentence one. What follows is how a white person thinks a black person is like. I'm not even say you have to meet one or be friends with one to know what they think like. But everybody has a right to be human. The most human person you have in this story is the slave owner, and that's only because he beat is slave once- but not real hard.

While you're considering the technical critiques, you might want to consider, giving your black character dimension beyond nigger.

none said...

A round of applause for anon 1.01 am pls!

Wes said...

Come on, Buffy. Give me a little credit. Joe's owner is one of the villians of the story. Joe is the moral compass for Kincaid. A major theme of the work is the evils of slavery as practiced by priests, Mexicans, Anglos, and Indians.

I don't expect people to have memorized my query, but check out Face-Life 473.

none said...

Oh, you can have a round of applause too, but I think anon was spot on looking at this section in isolation.