Monday, January 11, 2010

New Beginning 719

Raven sat under a young aspen in a grove on the Nuba River bank. He was just outside the city of Mora, a place that was not home. He just couldn’t bring himself to think of it as home, despite living in Mora’s outlands. This cluster of trees seemed more like home to him, and this tranquil, natural existence was the way life was supposed to be.

Peace of heart and mind. He felt it in the cool early autumn breeze, in the lyrical flow of the river, in the rustling of the aspen’s golden leaves. The new color that autumn had given it and its sisters had arrayed them like children of the sun. Maybe this was how his father felt about the whirling sands of his homeland of Vardica in the southern desert. Whenever he spoke of it, a light came into his eyes and a note of pride into his voice. But while Raven had inherited his father’s black skin, he had no such love for sand.

He much preferred trees, grass, and loam, all of which could be found where he was now. Every morning as the sun rose, his father gazed toward the southwest, vainly seeking a glimpse of Vardica’s red sands. But this was Anassia …. Raven glanced back at the city behind him, just visible through the trees. Its blue sandstone walls seemed less like beautiful, more like a mockery of the sky to him. Mora. Anassia. Cities. Hang them all. This was where he belonged, here among the swaying aspens. Somewhere among them, a nightingale was singing.

"Nevermore," it sang. "Neverrrrmoooooorrrrre!"

Raven reflected that the chief drawback to spending time in the aspens was the nightingales, who loved to mock Raven's name in relation to some hack writer. Well, that would come to an end today. He took out his gun and tracked the bird as it flew from one tree to another.

Poets. Nightingales. Boom.

Hang them all, he thought, and fired.


Opening: Brett Wade.....Continuation: Stacy

14 comments:

Evil Editor said...

Unchosen continuations:


The end.

--John


And then...he died.

--anon.


...okay...

--wolfcinder


Yes, thought Raven, it was a great life being a tulip, growing among the aspens, listening to the - giggle of little girls on a picnic?

"Oooh, look! Black tulips! How pretty!"

"Son!" shouted his father, a note of panic in his voice. Raven gulped and tried to grip the loam more firmly with his tiny roots. The last thing he heard was the lyrical, mocking snick of scissors.

--Hanne


"Goodbye Young Aspen Grove, by Lyrical River, by Soft Grass. " Raven blew kisses to his nature friends, then tossed the bag of gold over his shoulder. "Sorry about the giant gaping hole Sweet Soil. I'd fill it back up but now that I have gold, nature calls wink, wink... Oh and the whores thank you too. Or they will, anyway."

And with that, Raven set off to find the nearest brothel.

--anon.


A rope settled around his neck, jerked taut. Raven leapt to his feet, but it was too late. They had him.

"Easy, boy." A middle-aged man came into view, his eyes soft, kind. "Don't fight. No one wants to hurt you."

A younger man joined them, rope in hands. "You sure about this, Da?"

"Oh, yes. I saw him when he first came here. Come on, boy. No one will hurt you. We just have to take you in and get our reward."

"Three thousand!" the young man smiled. "We'll be rich!"

"Three thousand is nothing compared to what Milady paid for them. She spent a fortune on these desert hounds, and she doesn't want anything happening to them. Come on, boy."

Tail between his legs, Raven obediently followed them back to Mora. --khazar-khum

Evil Editor said...

This is taking too long to make the single point that Raven prefers the aspen grove to the city. I'm sure you can cut it in half while retaining your descriptive phrases and without losing any information.

What is Anassia? He's apparently in Anassia, and he's happy to be where he is, so why does he say Hang Anassia?

But while Raven had inherited his father’s black skin, he had no such love for sand.

This implies that most people who inherit their fathers' skin color also love everything their fathers love. I don't think that's a given. I'd leave out the skin color.

Matthew said...

I went back and read Alexander and, for what it's worth, I think your writing is improving. By opening with the character longing for his homeland (assuming Raven is Alexander) you make him more sympathetic.

However...

This is pure back story and it reads, to me, passively (especially the second and last sentences).

Compare "a nightingale was singing" to "The nightingale's whistling crescendo enlivened his soul." It's more active and works overtime to show the reader that this guy enjoys nature.

fairyhedgehog said...

As I understand it, "was singing" is not passive it's the past continuous tense and very useful for indicating an action that went on happening in the past.

I think EE has got to the nub of the problem with this: it's taking too long to make a point. There's a lot of lyrical writing but sadly some of it will need to be cut. I would accept his advice about the black skin and the sand, too.

I like the use of a fragment in "Peace of heart and mind. He felt it..."

What I really want to know now, is why are you telling me this? Why does it matter that Raven prefers the country to the city?

SphinxnihpS of Aker-Ruti said...

This world sounds rich and scenery type description is well done, however, I am not seeing much conflict. Consider using some of your description writing skills and showing what he dislikes so much Mora to help show why the grove is so much better. Better yet, if you can do as EE suggests and focus on just a few details, it would stand out even more.

Btw, cute continuation.

Hope that helps,
Jodi

_*Rachel*_ said...

I'd cut all of this to:

Raven sat under a young aspen in a grove on the Nuba River bank. He was just outside the city of Mora, a place that was not home.

[(But while Raven had inherited his father’s black skin, he had no such love for sand.) I like this line because it feels wry, but don't know where you'd fit it in.]

Raven glanced back at the city, just visible through the trees. Its blue sandstone walls seemed less like beautiful, more like a mockery of the sky to him. Mora. Anassia. Cities. Hang them all. This was where he belonged, here among the swaying aspens. [(Somewhere among them, a nightingale was singing.) Only keep this sentence if it's relevant to what comes next.]

There are some things I really like in here: that second sentence, the sentence I pulled out of the second paragraph, and the attitude at the "Hang them all" part. The diamonds in this writing probably aren't the sentences you thought they were.

Wolfcinder said...

Thanks guys. I'll keep your comments in mind when I go through my next round of revisions. And to answer a recurring question, the tree thing is important because down the line, Raven makes a choice between his father's people and his mother's people. His father, as stated, comes from the desert, whereas his mother comes from a tribe of forest dwellers. Raven's heart causes him to choose the latter, much to his father's dismay. I wanted to give that some context early on because the cultural conflict has a huge influence on the story.

Wolfcinder said...

Hey, I've made a couple changes. I'd like your opinion. I wanted to introduce the later conflicts in the story better. The intro wasn't doing its job. So please tell me what you think of this new version. Thanks!
---------------------------------

Raven sat under a young aspen in a grove on the Nuba River bank. He was just outside the city of Mora, a place that was not home. He just couldn’t bring himself to think of it as home, despite living in Mora’s outlands. This cluster of trees seemed more like home to him, and this tranquil, natural existence was the way life was supposed to be.

Peace of heart and mind. He felt it in the cool early autumn breeze, in the lyrical flow of the river, in the rustling of the aspen’s golden autumn leaves. Maybe this was how his father felt about the whirling sands of his homeland in the southern desert, Vardica. Whenever he spoke of it, a light came into his eyes and a note of pride into his voice. But while Raven had inherited his father’s black skin, he had no such love for sand. He much preferred trees, grass, and loam, all of which could be found where he was now.

“If father is so homesick for Vardica, then why does he choose to live here?” Raven wondered aloud. The people of Anassia, where Raven and his family now lived, and the Vardicans had a long and bloody history.

Raven glanced back at the city behind him, just visible through the trees. Its blue sandstone walls seemed less like beautiful, more like a mockery of the sky to him. Their calm majesty feigned a welcome they would not give, at least not to Raven. The price of being a foreigner. Hang the city. This was where he belonged, here among the swaying aspens. Somewhere among them, a nightingale was singing.

Peace. A greatly needed respite after arguing with Kianna again.

Kianna was Raven’s adopted “cousin.” Raven didn’t know much about her except that she had come north with his mother from the southern forests, farther south than even Vardica. They came from a people exiled from humanity, the Kenja, the Wild Ones. His mother had often told Raven of their proud and noble heritage, but Kianna seemed irritated by such tales. Whenever the southern forests or Wild Ones were mentioned, she would grow angry and storm out with a cloud hanging over her countenance.

But this was not the subject of her frequent arguments with Raven. It was his fondness for fire.

Matthew said...

I think you could delete paragraph's one and three without losing anything, just change "He" at the beginning of paragraph two to Raven.

First paragraph: You could combine the first and second sentence by changing the period to a comma and deleting "He was". And I would delete "just" in the sentence following that because two justs in a row look repetitive.

I also thought that instead of telling us about Raven and Kianna's relationship in paragraph six, you could delete it and show it to us later (I'm guessing they argue in the near future).

Those are my suggestions, I hope they help!

Wolfcinder said...

Thanks Matthew. In retrospect, paragraph 3 does stick out a bit. I'm trying to introduce the question, "why does Raven's father stay in a foreign land if he's so homesick?" to build tension, and to set up for later events. Any ideas?

wendy said...

Sorry, I stopped reading when I hit the second "just" in the first paragraph.

Wolfcinder said...

@ wendy: If that was supposed to be a snippy and slightly mean-spirited, congrats. Gold star on that one. But informative and helpful, not so much. Now if you would be so kind, could you perhaps take a look at the whole thing and tell me what else (besides a typo so insignificant it didn't merit comment before now) is amiss? Thanks. :)

fairyhedgehog said...

When someone tells me where they stopped reading something I've written I don't necessarily like it but I do find it helpful.

It's easier to see where your story is going in this version, but when I got to Kianna was Raven's adopted cousin I first thought these were comments addressed to EE.

Matthew said...

Regarding homeland:

You don't have to reveal everything all at once. If it's a big plot point, I'm sure it'll come up at a more natural time later on--Maybe when Raven is confronting his father?

For the first 150-200 words, all you need is a sense of place, character, and conflict (if you can fit it in smoothly).