Wednesday, November 29, 2006

New Beginning 166

The firelight flickered in the eyes of the tall, lean man as watched the faces of his two associates. They shivered in the evening chill and stared as the flames danced hypnotically, sending their shadows into frenzied convulsions among the twisted oaks.

Raymond, a lanky man with stringy blond hair and hollow cheeks, looked across the fire. “So, Silver, when do we go after the treasure? It’s getting late. Shouldn’t we be getting started?”

The tall one, Silver, met his gaze. He was looking for something in Raymond’s eyes. Something he’d seen earlier, in the daylight.

“Soon,” he said. Long black hair framed his face, and his deep-set eyes revealed nothing.

He scanned the perimeter of the small clearing but the darkness was impervious to the firelight and hung like a black curtain just beyond the first line of trees. The forest felt alive but completely still, as if resting or lying in wait, and the droning cicadas provided a phonic pulse. A pocket of sap in one of the logs popped suddenly and the two men flinched.

“I don’t see what’s the point of just sitting around...” Raymond stared at the flames, holding back his irritation. There it was again, just as Silver had seen it before. A thirst for adventure, a hunger; but also a hollow emptiness, a tragic void.

“All in good time. We have a long journey ahead, but I assure you, you’ll find tonight’s quest very rewarding.” Silver glanced at the other man, who smiled enigmatically. “But first . . . we must understand what brought us here--”

“Whoa...” Raymond held up a hand. Something else flickered across his eyes: a sudden realization. “There . . . ain’t any real treasure is there? It’s, like, metaphorical? We’re just gonna sit round this fire all night talking?!” Raymond flung his arms out in despair. “Crap. I shoulda known. This is literary, isn’t it?”

Opening: Grasshopper.....Continuation: ril


Dave Fragments said...

The writing lacks tension and it has too many words. It's flabby.

Put the description all together and then put the dialog together.

This reminds me of the Pirates, the dread Pirates of Penzance when Frederick and the constables are telling Major General Stanley that they will leave to apprehend the pirates and they never leave, they sing on and on and on and on...

BTW - this advice is wrong if you are trying to write like "Cold Mountain." Then you have too little desription.

Stacia said...

The last descriptive paragraph is pretty good. The first, not so much. While I get what you were trying to say about the shadows cast by the fire, flames don't tend to flicker enough to make frenetic, spastic shadows of still objects. It felt forced to me.

I'd take it out and put something about him seeing the firelight in their faces, then leave the last Pp as is. With threes in the background, chances are their shadows would be cast into the space between the trees anyway, and if the trees are any further back than a couple of feet the shadows would be blurred anyway.


Kate Thornton said...

ril: too funny! Literary indeed!

Author, I like this set up, I like the descriptions, but nothing seems to be about to happen. Make me want to know more, to be on tenterhooks for more.

"It's getting late. Shouldn't we be getting started?"


I would like to read an exciting treasure-hunt story with Silver (Long John?) and Raymond (likeable?) And I was ready for Silver's hair to be, well, silver.

Anonymous said...

ha ha ha!!! loved the continuation. As for the original, let's get hopping!

Anonymous said...

I think you did a good job of putting me in the scene. Maybe a little over done, but not much. I don't care if a story is 3% body fat or 9% -lean is lean.

Dave, I tried to read Cold Mountain and couldn't for that reason. I got to the point where I was saying, "Wait a minute, what about the third leaf on the second bush to the left? You forgot to describe it! Sheesh. I almost threw the book across the room out of frustration. -JTC

Anonymous said...

Tall, lean, phonic, frenzied, twisted, lanky..

Did somebody go to BJ's and buy adverbs and adjectives in bulk?

And why are all the characters tall and lean with stringy long hair?

I'm interested in what these guys are up to but the tall, lanky description is like a black curtain that's impervious to my gaze.

Anonymous said...

I've often seen firelight "flicker enough to make frenetic, spastic shadows of still objects," (december quinn) or "frenzied convulsions," as the author phrases it...although "frenzied convulsions" is a bit too-too. Just plain convulsions are convulsive enough.

Strong atmosphere, vivid images. Too many adjectives and adverbs. How about cutting: frenzied, blond, completely, suddenly, and one or two of Raymond's three sentences. And use either "resting" or "lying in wait," not both.

In other words, whittle.
I'd read another couple of pages to see what's coming.

By George, ril, you've done it again!


McKoala said...

I've got mixed feelings on the original. I wondered if it was an early-ish draft from some of the slips - for example a 'he' missing in the first sentence. There was a bit too much lean, tall and lanky and I know that some of you hate this, but the POV was all over the place. (Ducks under desk).

I'm thinking vampires.

Nice continuation!

Anonymous said...

Author here. Thanks for the constructive comments december quinn, JTC, Kate (fear not, the action picks up quickly), and particularly pulp, very constuctive, thank you.

Dave, I'm not trying to sound like Pirates of Penzance, and I'm not trying to write the pirate version of Cold Mountain. I'm actually trying to write something with a hint of originality. I don't want to strip it of personality and wind up having something that reads like an instruction manual for assembling a gyroscope.

McKoala, thanks for noticing the missing "he". That one got lost in one of the cut and paste excercises. This isn't the current version of the opening, I moved some things around to fit the word limit and obviously missed the paste on that one.

I really appreciate the constructive comments, and point taken on the adjectives. I agree it's a bit wordy and pulp is right on with the suggestions. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Dave's got the right adjective again: Flabby. You've got some good stuff, but your love of repetition does you in.

This bit in particular got my goat: "The forest felt alive but completely still, as if resting or lying in wait, and the droning cicadas provided a phonic pulse."

Too talky there. For one thing, if it is completely still, no cicadas would be chirping. I suggest you decide whether the forest was still, resting, lying in wait, or some other description that allows the cicadas to provide a phonic pulse. (I liked that bit, btw.)

This isn't bad, but seriously still needs editing. Trim the fat. You have some good mood setting description and I am interested in why they are huddling around the fire. It does take too long to get going, or seems to because of the excess description. I try not to say that, since this is only 150 words; but in this case, I think it needs saying.

And, like mckoala, I'm thinking vampires, too.

I'd read more. Keep working with it, it sounds like my kind of book when you get done with it.

HawkOwl said...

Two for one sale on adjectives at Kmart?

Anonymous said...

Oh, and by the way, awesome continuation ril!