Tuesday, January 19, 2010

New Beginning 721

I could see no good was coming to my niece from finding that sword, nor to anyone else neither. If it was dangerous to the conquerors, I said to her, they wouldn’t of let you find it, would they, missie? They with their magic? Let me find it! she says with her chin up. Let me! I reckon they didn’t let me; I found it myself and brought it back out of the dark, and they couldn’t stop me; and they’ll find out what I can do with it, and it won’t suit them.

Wouldn’t any harm have come of it, maybe, if the others hadn’t flocked around like chickens on corn, gobbling up her look and her voice and the things she could do with that sword. It was better than a soldier, or an acrobat at the fair, the way she moved with it; and it had a music to it that even I could hear was mortal sweet, yet wounding too. Oh, I heard the hurt of it under the sweet, and I told her, get shut of it! She wouldn’t listen. Nor would the other young folks.

And then she teamed up with that boy, the one who had the spear he'd brought out of the forest; that spear that made the faintest high keening note when he danced with it. More of them flocked round her then, and soon there were others; the other girl with the knives that had their sweet plangent tones, and the big fella with the mace that made a deep, deep booming noise that you could hear in your bones.

Wouldn't any harm have come of it even then, though, if it hadn't been for that stranger who came into town. He had them pale, intent, far-traveled eyes that you knew they'd seen a lot. And he looked at our band, with the sword and the spear and the knives and the mace; and he looked at our soldiers, with their flutes and their violins and their combat harpsichords; and he said as he reckoned we were doin' it all wrong.


Opening: Joanna.....Continuation: Steve Wright

17 comments:

Evil Editor said...

Unchosen continuations:


First it was just sword-swallowing—bad enough, mind you, but then all her girl-friends were doing it with her, and there were matching outfits and feather boas. And suddenly it wasn't just at the county fair, but at every bar along the Conquerers' Road and even at the army base. Before I knew it, they had a pole and a theater of their own, and now my niece owns twelve bordellos and a line of adult products.

Time was the conquerors were going to give me a cushy government job, but once word got out about all this, it was back to the farm for me! So here I am, all alone, watching as my niece builds an empire of sin, that sweet little girl that I raised from a baby as though she were my own, the child whose hand I'd hold as we walked through those very forests where she found that blasted sword.

And do you think I've seen one dime from all of this?

--Ellie


And then there was that instructional video that she'd found with it. I'm no great shakes with the DVD player because those little buttons are too hard to see one from another, but I saw enough of it when she played it, over and over again: "It slices! It dices! It makes julienne fries!" The next thing you know all the radishes in my garden had been turned into roses and the melons into giant baskets, and I cursed the day my niece found that Ginzu sword.

--Marissa Doyle


And sure enough, one gangly boy, who had eyes for her anyway, stepped too close while she was spinnin round, and it cut his head clean off, like a straight razor through a licorice whip.

They say that Meiji Emperor feller ran them Ronin outta Jay-pan, and I can see why. They's been nothin but trouble since they took over here, and now they go leavin katanas lyin round where kids can find em.

I gotta say one thing, though. Once she found that sword, she could slice the finest catfish sashimi you ever did see.

--John


* * *

The other young folks... Wilfred shuddered as he felt those old, familiar emotions rising within himself. He rolled up the scroll, fearful to be caught with it by the captain.

"What you got there?" Wilfred jumped and looked around, his face flushing with guilt. "'Tis naught," he said to his fellow bowman. "I, uh, found it. 'Tis a new thing: Sire Heffnere's Playsquire, Lettres to Ye Editore..."

--anon.



More and more young folk came, from miles around, bright eyes and unwashed faces and all manner of ratty clothes and hair. You could smell some of them from halfway across the field. And soon enough there were peddlers and fools and minstrels of all sorts, performing for days. It was something to behold, that first Bonnaroo.

--Ellie

Evil Editor said...

Good hook.

Let me find it! she says with her chin up. Let me!

These exclamations need question marks to avoid confusion. And the "let"s in italics.

Even clearer if you start a new paragraph there and use quotation marks around both speakers' dialogue.

Based on other language, I see this narrator using "no" rather than "any" in paragraph 2.

Anonymous said...

Nice!

Matthew said...

I would like to see quotation marks around the speech. I liked it.

Sarah Laurenson said...

wouldn't of

Run away!!!!

Sorry. Hit one of my personal pet peeves. I'll try to come back later and give this a real read.

Evil Editor said...

It's obvious from the "neither" in the previous sentence that this narrator isn't going to be a model of correct grammar and usage.

Steve Wright said...

It's a very nice start, this one - conveys a lot of information about the setting and the potential conflict within it, without being obvious about it. And I can put up with the narrator's folksy style, at least for a little bit longer - I'd certainly read on.

Joanna said...

Great continuations--thanks all! I take your (pl.) point about punctuating the dialogue. Steve, it's flash-fic, so you wouldn't have to put up with the narrator for long.

fairyhedgehog said...

It's very nicely done.

I got hung up on "of" for "have" even though Pratchett does it a lot and I love his work. I think I hadn't worked out yet what kind of writing this was and if I could trust you to bend the rules wisely.

I'd also have liked more punctuation to help me with the transition from the narrator's speech to her or his niece's.

I didn't feel as if the last sentence was in the same voice as the rest of the narration.

I'd read on.

Phoenix said...

Very nice voice, Joanna.

After puzzling out the exclam vs ? mark dilemma, which had me confused far longer than most folk here, I quite like it.

The only other nit is the word "conquerors". Most people who have been conquered don't call their conquerors "conquerors". The would more likely name the tribe or race or nationality -- or use an epithet instead.

And for flash, you could likely ditch the repeated "Let me?", "even I could hear", and "under the sweet" phrases without losing voice or meaning.

If the rest is as good as this start, I hope to be reading the published version soon!

Ellie said...

I like it, though I agree the "Let me..." part needs quotation marks and "let" in italics, or else it's too confusing whether she's talking, and whether she's indignant or actually requesting to be allowed to find it.

Steve Wright, that continuation was absolutely fantastic.

sylvia said...

I found this somewhat confusing - which isn't to say I wouldn't read a bit more - so I thought I'd try to write down my reactions as I read...


I could see no good was coming to my niece from finding that sword, nor to anyone else neither.
Narrator is adult. Sword is a bad thing.

If it was dangerous to the conquerors, I said to her, they wouldn’t of let you find it, would they, missie?
Sword is not a dangerous thing - so maybe not a bad thing?

Let me find it! she says with her chin up. Let me!
Why's she insisting that the narrator let her? I thought the conquerors told her what she needed to know?

I reckon they didn’t let me
AH, those previous declarations were questions. I need to backtrack and reread.

I found it myself and brought it back out of the dark, and they couldn’t stop me; and they’ll find out what I can do with it, and it won’t suit them.
OK, fair enough. But is she saying it IS dangerous then? What is the damn sword and what's its value to her?

Wouldn’t any harm have come of it, maybe, if the others hadn’t flocked around like chickens on corn, gobbling up her look and her voice and the things she could do with that sword.
Right so we have narrator, girl, conqueror and others. I'll presume the others aren't so important other than they are gathering

Oh, I heard the hurt of it under the sweet, and I told her, get shut of it! She wouldn’t listen. Nor would the other young folks.
Are we in Northern England? Not that it matters, I don't mind waiting for the location. But now we have the other young folks. I feel like a parade of people have gone past and I'm still none-the-wiser.

I feel a bit bad - I'm not trying to rip it to shreds but to get a grip on why, at the end of it, I'm feeling so dubious. And I think it comes down to that after two paragraphs I don't feel like I have any single piece of information I can hold onto.

Anonymous said...

Loved the continuation.

Joanna said...

Thanks for the in-depth writeup, Sylvia. I definitely hear the need to change "Let me!" to "Let me?" Ad for the rest--the sword is enchanted, hence dangerous. The niece thinks it's dangerous to the conquerors against whom she means to use it. The narrator thinks it's dangerous to her niece.
Where did the Northern England part come from?

Dave F. said...

I came to read this late and it definitely needs punctuation, even if it is flash fiction.

_*Rachel*_ said...

I'm a little iffy about that first sentence (passive?), but I really like this. It's got a voice of its own, that's for sure.

Bad grammar can work if it's in the right hands. These are the right hands.

This reminds me of a short story: http://www.mindflights.com/item.php?sub_id=5815

Sarah Laurenson said...

OK. I'm back.

Great voice here. I really liked the flow of it. The second part of the first paragraph was a bit confusing as I wasn't sure who was doing the "talking" or thinking. I wonder if this would be clearer if it were real time dialogue rather than in his head.

I like that he can hear the hurt under the sweet.