Tuesday, April 08, 2008

New Beginning 482

Helen shifted back to human form and sprawled lazily on the grass while the moles quested for insects. Glancing around the garden, her eye was caught by the fernlike plants the moles had absolutely forbidden her to go near, as a matter of life and death. They were about three feet high, in a rainbow of soft shades, and they waved softly, making a murfling noise, even though there was no wind. They didn't look dangerous, but they did look magic; and she trusted the moles.

Distracted by the plants, she failed to notice the approaching footsteps. Suddenly a hand gripped her shoulder cruelly and swung her around. The moles dived into burrows.

Her captor was only a bulky shadow against the westering sun. His voice was a harsh whisper. "Answer me straight, brat. Lie and I'll slit your throat! Which is the room of Sun-Tzu?"

Helen had to think quickly. What were the teachings of the master? Sun Tzu said, Thus, to take a long and circuitous route, after enticing the enemy out of the way, and though starting after him, to contrive to reach the goal before him, shows knowledge of the artifice of deviation. And that was when he was sober. After a few flagons, he made no sense at all. And he never paid his bills, the deadbeat.

Helen nodded across to one of the larger burrows. "He's in there," she said. "Tell him I said Hi."

Opening: Tal.....Continuation: ril


Evil Editor said...

I wouldn't expect her to notice approaching footsteps on grass, even if she weren't distracted by murfling plants. I'd drop that sentence, so that the "suddenly" of the next sentence really is sudden to the reader. If you prepare us for the man's approach, the suddenness is less startling.

I'd remove "only". Possibly combine sentences 1 and 2, removing "was a" from sentence 2.

writtenwyrdd said...

I was right there with you until you have Sun-Tzu's name dropped. Her name is Helen (European) and then we suddenly have Asian.

EB said...

"They" at the start of the 3rd sentence is ambiguous. I know it refers to the plants, but the sentence structure suggests it could be the moles. For all I know, in a world where Helen shape shifts, maybe the moles are 3 feet high and come in multiple colors.

Chris Eldin said...

I wanted to see this:
They didn't look dangerous, but they did look magic; and she trusted the moles.
How does it look magic and not dangerous? Maybe it's not the proper place for this in the first paragraph, but I wanted more show and less tell.

Sounds like an interesting story. I'd read on because your talking cat story was funny.

Wes said...

Are your moles blind as real moles are?

McKoala said...

This had to be Talpianna!

Loved the first line, but after that it got a bit 'telly', although intriguing. 'Helen' and 'sun-tzu' did confuse me a bit, but I'm sure there's a reason for it.

talpianna said...

As I've said before, these are characters in the Inn Between Realms, invented by different participants in the game--hence no linguistic consistency. (Helen isn't even her real name, by the way.)

I cut this to the bone, and even so EE cropped off the best part. Helen was distracted because she was picking roses. That got cut.

The moles are pretty much like real-world moles, except that sometimes they wear martial-arts gear or Ralph Lauren tracksuits; they are intelligent; and some of them can talk. And yes, they can see fairly well.

How can something appear magic but not dangerous, Chris? Think Glinda the Good Witch and other pleasanter Oz manifestations.

Keep your eyes on those ferns!

And ril, I loved the continuation!

Evil Editor said...

There's nothing about roses in the part I cut. If you cut information from the middle of your opening, you totally defeat the purpose of submitting it. Our comments are a waste of our time if we're commenting on something that isn't exactly what you've written.

And the continuation you love would not have worked if I'd posted the much lengthier version.

Whirlochre said...

Now that I know a little more of the raison d'etre for the moles and their environment I can appreciate the seeming inconsistencies.

On the whole I liked this - but para 2 forced me to raise an eyebrow.

It's just a minor POV issue.

she failed to notice the approaching footsteps

I do this all of the time - endow my characters with the ability to see/hear/smell/touch and sense things that they actually can't.

I think yours is Ok - it's storytelling - but it did make me wonder.

Robin S. said...

I'm lovin' that run-on filled continuation. Heh.

talpianna said...

EE, you are right, of course. There's no point in my submitting material for critique in a form I don't intend to use (i.e., overly cut). I've been doing this because I haven't been writing much fiction lately, and you don't seem to want nonfiction here.

The main reason I've been doing it is to get some feedback on whether anyone really would like my writing. I didn't get much support in my youth. My parents made it clear that they only read my stuff as a favor, not because it could possibly be inherently interesting; and if I did something particularly clever or original, my teachers would accuse me of plagiarism. So I have benefited from the egoboo.

I will have to try actually working on some fiction, or submitting other, more recent stuff, no matter how weird it sounds. I will, as a sort of final gesture, post the originals of these excerpts on the YahooGroup site, to see if anyone who cares to read them thinks that they were better before I and EE vivisected them.

And, EE, I still don't understand what you mean by this: And the continuation you love would not have worked if I'd posted the much lengthier version.

What in the longer version would have kept it from working?


Oh, do you mean ril's continuation? I thought you were referring to the truth about the ferns...

You might as well remove my other New Beginning from the queue, as it is even more drastically edited and even worse. I'll see what other things I can dredge up.

They WILL have moles...