Wednesday, November 23, 2011

New Beginning 903

In the land of Noachian, there were women who sowed and reaped and women who counted the harvest and bartered with the priests in the temple.

When famine threatened the land, the leaders of the women who counted the harvest kneeled before Judith and Ruth, the chief women of those who sowed and reaped.

The leaders beseeched Judith and Ruth. “Look, look,” these women said as they held out their soft hands. “Our hands are soft and our backs are weak. We cannot work in the fields. The women who sow and reap must not allow us to starve. Consider. If we become too weak, who would count the harvest and barter with the priests to obtain the best price for your wheat? If you will give us one third of your wheat, we promise that in addition to counting your harvest and bartering with the priests, we will also sing and dance for you.”

Judith and Ruth agreed because they knew that the women who worked in the fields were afraid to barter before the priests in the temples and they loved to listen to beautiful music and watch graceful dancers while they rested from their labors in the fields.

The famine began to pass and the women who counted the harvest, bartered in the temple and sang and danced for the sowers and reapers, conspired to deceive the workers.

"Turn it off," Mrs. McGowan said. "I've heard enough." She shook her head hard and slapped herself across the face. "Look, doctor, when I asked you for something to cure my insomnia, I was thinking a prescription for mild sleeping pills, not a coma-inducing audio book."

Opening: Jane Little.....Continuation: Evil Editor


Evil Editor said...

This is described by the author as a parable.

P1: "Nochian" sounds like an adjective describing something from Nochia. If Romania was actually named Romanian, then their products would be described as Romanianian.

P2: These descriptions of the women are awfully wordy. Maybe they should be the farmers and the merchants/dealers/traders.

P3: I'm not sure of the logic. Is the famine the result of crop shortages? Give us a third of your wheat so we can continue to count your wheat and barter with the priests doesn't work if there's hardly any wheat to barter.

I think you can retain the feel of a parable while cutting this down so that we get to the deception a lot faster.

Whirlochre said...

It's certainly parabolic.

I could see this working at an oral storytelling reading, but ti doesn't grab me from the printed page.

Anonymous said...

Yes, definitely too much of that. Maybe people who continually reread the Bible would enjoy it, I don't know.

If you want people who generally read modern novels to go past paragraph 2, it would help to 1] make the narrative voice less detached, 2] lose the nameless masses and personalize their replacements, and 3] put it somewhere specific not nowhere nowhen.

BuffySquirrel said...

One of the virtues of parables is surely that they're short and to the point.

Jo-Ann said...

My curiosity was piqued, but I wondered why the "leaders" of the accountants had no first names, and why the "chief women" of the laborers were given names.

The line about conspiring to decieve just fell flat. I'd rather hear about what the soft-handed ones did and conclude they deceived the poor overworked ones for myself. Telling, not showing.

This would work if it remains short and we get a quick resolution about how Judith and Ruth turned the tables on the soft-handed women.

Dave said...

Blogger ate my comment.

what I said was in essence to reduce the third paragraph to one sentence - "the women who danced offered to barter with the priests for one third of the harvest."

Then drop the 4th paragraph and fix the 5th paragraph to make it scan properly.

Xiexie said...

It's a bit much, innit. The cadence is good if you're going for a fable-y short story, but bad if this is a longer work.

Also, it gets wordy and then you have to sort through the pairs:
reaped and sowed; harvest and bartered; Judith and Ruth; soft and weak; sing and dance
-- pare this down.

The beseeching took too long to get through. By the time I got to the conspiracy, I was already taxed.

You don't want that feeling in just an intro.

Zachary Gole said...

"Noachian" is an adjective referring to Noah, or the time in which he allegedly lived.

Which still doesn't explain what it's doing here as the name of a land.

Kings Falcon said...

I presume I'm the only one who was bothered by the difference between name "Noachian", for the land, and then the plain leader names (Judith and Ruth) since I'm the only one who is commenting on it. But the dissonance between the names stopped me reading the story. If you mean the land Noah settled (as Z. Gole suggests), tell me that's what Noahian means since I don't want to stop and Goggle "Noachian" to figure out why a fantasy sounding name is linked with plain ones.

How long is your parable? I agree with the posts that come before me that it would be difficult to hold a reader if the writing stays this dense for 5K words. A very short short- flash level- at this lenght might work.

You've picked a tough task - keeping the sound and feel of a parable but making it approachable for a modern reader. I'd cut some of the wordiness to make the story more approachable. The heavy-handed remote Omniscience voice is tough for most people to follow. Like I said - tough assignment.

I also wondered about Judith and Ruth's collective leadership skills if they give away 1/3 of thier production during a famine because they were too lazy to negotiate the sale of thier excess crops. After all, if there's a famine (or one threatened), I presume there's no surplus to sell. I don't like them as characters and don't have anyone else to identify with yet.

On a good note, I am interested in the world were there appear to be no men (or at least, none in any leadership or trade roles).

Keep at it and good luck.

Tamara Marnell said...

I'm assuming this parable ends with the stock traders and CEOs--I mean, "the women who barter with the priests"--giving themselves wheat bonuses and tax cuts?

As someone else said, this might appeal to someone who reads the Bible over and over. These same people also tend to be in the political party that would oppose the Sowers and Reapers Union, so maybe this is exactly who you're trying to reach. I know a grandmother or two who would love the way it sounds...but they might not appreciate being slapped with a liberal moral in the end. Then it's not a parable, but more like you're making fun of them.

I'm not too fond of the characterization of the workers. Are they really willing to starve because they're afraid of math and want to spend their evenings in front of the TV? Or is the point that Judith and Ruth /assume/ the workers are incompetent and hand over bailouts without asking first?

Zachary Gole said...

I didn't suggest "Noachian" meant it was the land Noah settled -- in fact, that wouldn't make any sense as written; that would be "the Noachian land" or "the land of Noah", but certainly not "the land of Noachian."

It could be that the author didn't know the meaning of "Noachian" and that it's a coincidence. It's also possible, though, that it was intentionally chosen for its association with a Biblical figure (if perhaps not for its literal meaning), given that the two named characters are both named after prominent Biblical figures. (Yes, they're also in current use as given names, but the names Judith and Ruth both come from the Bible.)

In fact, what bothered me about the names in this wasn't the difference between them, but rather the similarity -- giving everything in the parable Biblical names struck me as a bit artificial and heavy-handed.

Heather Marsten said...

wondering how one can count a harvest and still have soft hands. Maybe weak backs, but the hands would be used to measure the grain - I presume not piece by piece,

perhaps starting with women protesting their lack of rations, and then the backstory.