Sunday, July 30, 2006
New Beginning 18
Arun was right, as usual. I took a deep breath, resigned myself to the fight, and drew my sword. In an attempt to appear intimidating despite my stature, I took a defensive stance with my sword above my head. The Crotalines approached out of the dark woods from all sides, but I faced the most powerful one, assuming him to be the leader. There were eight of them.
I was perfectly visible because of my fire, while they were still hidden in darkness, but then I never relied on my sight very much. That didn’t keep me from feeling very self-conscious about the visible tattoos on my bare arms. Instead of combating the feeling, I drew it out of myself and let my skin luminesce and my sword heat. I felt rather than saw my sword begin to glow and vibrate.
The Crotaline leader approached. "How's that functional requirement specification coming?" he snarled.
I ignored the taunt and lunged for his groin with my sword. The barbarian dodged, but my sword intelligently countered, slashing wickedly into his femoral artery. Blood sprayed from the wound in great, copious spurts. My sword drank from it wantonly.
"Snap out of it, Kearney. The planning review meeting is in twenty minutes."
My intelligent sword and I were undeterred.
Continuation: J.H. Woodyatt
Posted by Evil Editor at 11:05 AM
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"...a defensive stance with my sword above my head...?"
Not the usual guard position as far as I know.
Are the tattoos important at this time when s/he is facing eight killers?
Wouldn't the protagonist's mind be on something else a little more pertinent?
Like the sword?
There are some adjectival disconnects in this passage.
Reminds me of those stories when the heroine tosses back her "red-gold hair"...as if one is terribly conscious of one's own hair colour - or tattoos.
Doesn't rely on sight much but though they are hidden in the darkness, knows there are eight of them...
Leaves me puzzled.
The first 150 words are unnecessarily dull, and very slow in pace, due to you trying to cram in a whole bunch of backstory and unnecessary musings.
The reader doesn't need to know, in the first 150 words, whether the protagonist is naturally shy, has tattoos s/he feels bashful about, and doesn't rely on his/her sight much. It's also not believable that such things would even cross the protagonist's mind at this time. S/he is about to be attacked; that tends to focus a person's attention down to things that are actually important in the present moment.
Here's your story beginning, minus the boring bits:
Arun was right, as usual. I took a defensive stance with my sword above my head. The Crotalines approached out of the dark woods from all sides.
I was perfectly visible because of my fire, while they were still hidden in darkness. I let my skin luminesce and my sword heat. I felt rather than saw my sword begin to glow and vibrate.
Another thing to consider is that everything in your original 150 words breaks the "show, don't tell" rule. You inform your reader of everything, rather than trying to describe the scene so vividly that the reader's imagination spontaneously pictures it. It's hard for a reader to become immersed in a story if the author is only lecturing to them, rather than making their imagination fill in the visuals.
What Bernita said. I had all the same questions and "huh?" moments as I read. Also, I'd cut the first sentence. There's a shoulder-shrugging sigh in it that undermines the seriousness of the situation. The idea of a battle between a fire warrior and warriors of darkness is interesting, though.
Love the Walter Mitty-esque follow-up! I teach a corporate requirements-gathering course; next time I'll have to bring along my flaming sword to liven things up.
What Bernita said, mostly. I'm a little more forgiving of the ole tattoos line, cos you gotta get this stuff in somehow...
Is Arun going to help at all?
I gotta say, the opening doesn't grab me. It establishes character somewhat, but... as usual, resigned, attempt to appear, took a defensive stance...
These are not things that draw me in. These are all things that tell me, "This book is going to be about someone who does the same thing all the time and doesn't like it but is resigned to doing it anyway." Which is one of the reasons the extension fits it soooo well.
After that, I just became confused. The "because of my fire" threw me--I first thought the character was not alone (who is Arun?) but was visible because he had some magic fire within him. The sentence about the tattoos was oddly placed, a gratuitous visual that seems like it could be saved for later; plus, it used a difficult double negative that really dammed up the flow of action.
I would recommend dealing with the fight first, throwing in a few of the more salient thoughts such as "Arun was right" and being resigned to the fight (it implies he doesn't want to fight any more), and get to the other feelings of self-consciousness and such later.
I didn't mind the tatto bit, but that's cause I get all drooly over tattoos. Especially tattoos of cruise missiles...
I had a different reaction to the tattoos. I gave the author the benefit of the doubt and assumed that since the tattoos were mentioned so early, they were important: visible in the fire's light, they identified the narrator to his attackers as the Enemy. Thus his self-consciousness about them... presumably they're a tribal marker of some type.
Concerning the tattoos - I see them as the mark of ritual magic where this warrior is given special powers (possibly because the sword glows and vibrates).
"...a defensive stance with my sword above my head...?"
Bernita opined that this is "Not the usual guard position as far as I know."
Actually, it's Vom Tag, or the Roof Guard from the Medieval German longsword tradition. However, given that the sword is cocked back, ready to strike e.g. a Zornhau, it's as offensive as it is defensive.
A good thing, since against multiple attackers, the protag should be either legging it, or else going at them like an out of control flymo.
Thank you, Zornhau.
Perhaps something along that line should be mentioned - just to clue in the average reader whose thinking is more mundane.
God's Teeth, Bernita. You've made it sound like that opening was mine! Argh.
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