Monday, July 21, 2008

New Beginning 532

Kincaid rode behind the sheep. Dust choked his lungs, and the stink of sheep sickened him like the raid itself. But riding last was better than being out front leading the column on the hunt for slaves. He told himself he was protecting the food; two sheep per day for twenty days.

He looked ahead at the ciboleros, most of them his friends. Why did they do this? These people he liked, who welcomed him, a foreigner, into their village at the base of the magnificent mountains. These people who forged a life from little, surrounded by enemies, cut off from trade and support. These people who made snug homes from mud, dished up food that nourished a body and lifted its spirit with flavor and spice. These people who cherished their children were riding 200 miles west to steal children of others.

Rico, his horse, snorted dust from his wide nostrils. If only Kincaid could blow out the stench of the voyage and its evil purpose.

Pablo rode up and said “You don’t want to be with us, do you?”

“It’s just not my way.”

“But you have slaves in your country.”

“Yes, but we don’t capture them.” Kincaid watched the sheep, reluctant to meet Pablo's gaze. “In our country, we keep the slaves in identical boxes. We give them pointless, repetitive tasks to do and we berate them when they make a mistake. We treat them like animals; we break their spirits. Eventually they go insane.”

“Then how do you replace them?”

Kincaid scratched at his stubble. “We fill out a form, get it authorised by the manager and send it down to Personnel. A new slave shows up in the morning.”

Pablo spat into the dust. “It is your people who are the primitive barbarians.”

Opening: Wes.....Continuation: Anon.


Robin S. said...

EE and ril (yeah- I know it's you, kid. It's that word authorised that gave ya away).

This is one of the best continuations ever. I know this because I'm sitting in one of those boxes-that-they-have-the-audacity-or-sheer nuts-to-refer-to-as-offices right now, laughing my ass off.

Evil Editor said...

Unchosen Continuation:

"Yes," Pablo said, "But what can we do? We are not like your country. We have no Wal-Mart here."

--scott from oregon

Evil Editor said...

Since KIncaid is riding last, it might be better if Pablo rode back rather than up.

THe first three paragraphs have a similar theme. Kincaid finds the slave raid sickening. I would delete "like the raid itself" from paragraph 1.

And I'd reduce paragraph 2 to:

He looked ahead at the ciboleros, most of them his friends. Why did they do this? These people he liked, who cherished their own children, were riding 200 miles west to steal the children of others.

I could be wrong, but the rest of it sounds like information you've already provided.

EB said...

Perhaps Pablo can drift back from the pack instead of riding up.

As usual, EE is fairly on. That 2nd paragraph plus the convo with Rico is a bit of over-exposition. It's a raiding party to snatch slaves.

I'm curious to know what Rico says in response to "But we don't capture them." Surely they come from SOMEWHERE, don't they Kincaid? Flimsy moralizing you got yerself there, pardner.

Is this a chapter opening?

Robin S. said...

Also, wouldn't it be kind of smelly riding behing sheep?

Because sheep smell. They really do. My husband is Welsh, so I know about such things - from a different perspective than that of an American Western man, maybe...

butt then again, maybe not.

Dave Fragments said...

I think you want a different order to the tale. My rewrite (posted at the bottom of the comment) lacks your style. I'm bad at reproducing style.

However, you are revealing a horror - the enslavement of children - and you need to think about doing it in stages. The opening lines set the scene in brief and introduces the characters. It leaves the reader wondering why he's in this situation.
The second section brings Rico to him and reveals in dialog, the slave trade. That's the purpose of the journey. But we're not finished. Slavery is tolerated in this time. Abolitionists weren't all that common. BUT, Kincaid doesn't espouse abolition, he says "slave hunting isn't for me"... There's a difference.
The third portion reveals Kincaid's deeper reasons for riding with the food. It doesn't answer everything because Kincaid justifies his presence on the raid. There is moral ambiguity here. I think you wanted that. Notice that even in this paragraph, I didn't reveal the child slavery until the very end. I did that to give it impact.

Your style will increase the word count. That's fine with me. It's not the absolute number of words I worry about. It's the closeness of each count or beat or step or idea and its placement... And not slowing the action or the emotionality.

Something like this:

Kincaid rode behind the sheep. Dust and the stink of sheep choked his lungs and sickened his stomach; punishment for riding along. He took care of the food for the Cibeleros; two sheep a day for twenty days and he didn't ride with the hunters.

Rico rode back. “You don’t want to be with us, do you?”

"Slave hunting isn't for me."

“They are our enemies. They would do the same if they had the chance.” Pablo pulled his horse left and rode away.

Why did Pablo and the other men do this? They welcomed me into their village. They forged a life from little, made snug homes from mud, dished up food that nourished a body and lifted its spirit with flavor and spice and cherished their children above all else. And now, they rode 200 miles west to steal children of others.

Evil Editor said...

Two of the last three commenters seem not to have noticed that Rico is a horse. Obviously including the horse's name is causing widespread confusion.

Kiersten White said...

Poor Rico.

I agree with EE (shocking, I know) that he muses too often on the slavery issue. Well-written though. I, too, would be interested in how he justifies his country's slavery.

Robin S. said...

Kincaid rode behind the sheep.

That's kinda where I got my idea, Sparky, although I do see your point about the horsey.

Robin S. said...

Oh. Hell.

You weren't talking about me, were you?

Why do I always speak up before I fully read through? Hmmmmm. Oh, yeah- that's right. I'm hurrying, as I'm being a bad girl.

EB said...

robin, the second sentence addresses the stinky sheep smell.

Robin S. said...

Yeah, BW, I saw that. I just felt a deep need to speak about stinky sheep!

Anonymous said...

I think it would be an effective comedic twist if, after a ten minute discourse on slavery, Kincaid realized that he was talking to a horse.

Anonymous said...

But Dave, what about the other 120,000 words?

none said...

Ah, modern sentiments in an historical setting. How unusual.

Dave Fragments said...

When I hear the name "Rico," I think of Casper Van Dien in Starship Troopers.
When I hear "Raul or Raoul," I think of goats and things unmentionable.
When I read "Pablo," I think of Picasso.

Just an odd note: I was in the hospital with appendicitis when the paperback of "The Thorn Birds" came out and there is a single page in it devoted to the description of just how nasty sheep can be. Their wool might be soft and cuddly but the are really dumb and awfully yucky beasts. Drogheda is, after all, a sheep ranch.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with dave f. I think you buried the lead.

Also, I would like to be able to see certain parts of your opening in my own mind instead of reading about things that must be almost (but not!) indescribable in their beauty. Such as: "the magnificent mountains" and "people who cherished their children" I hunger to see what those things look like in detail.

I like your story idea, and I'd definitely give it a read. Good start!

Evil Editor said...

I think we can safely say that this isn't an opening, but an excerpt, as we've already done the opening of this book. Some of you may have noted that we recently began accepting excerpts (though most of what's come in since then have been openings). Maybe we should change the name from New Beginning to Evil Excerpt.

Dave Fragments said...

I didn't much look at it as an opening or a middle or an end.

It is a section that has to reach an emotional point. So if is essentially self contained.

Now as to description. Instead of
Kincaid rode behind the sheep. the author might say -
Kincaid herded forty sheep behind the "hunting(?)" party as it wove (or wound) its way through the mountain passes of the Sonoran desert.

Or maybe:
The sheep stank in the heat of the mountain passes of the southwest desert. Kincaid kept the small herd together, slaughtering two every day as food for the raiding(?) party.

That's enough to locate the party.

Wes said...

Yep, Robin, the continuation was positively inspired. I wondered how someone would develop a funny continuation about slavery. A cube farm in corporate America definitely did the job.

EE's comments are spot on as usual. I'll incorporate them. Dave, thanks for your thoughtful analysis. And yes, Kincaid's differentiation of slavery American style is flimsy. It's supposed to be, but I only had two hundred words to work with. In the following few paragraphs Pablo quickly shreds Kincaid's agrument, and Pablo emerges with a smidgen of superiority because Mexican's married their girl captives when the girls reached fourteen (after they had been well-raped), and Americans did not.

Thanks for your help.

Julie Weathers said...

I'm not crazy about sheep, but I don't think the smell is going to be that radical to someone from this time period. Especially, when you are driving them since he'll have a bandanna over his face.

If this is an excerpt, I am assuming you have already set up how the people live so this seems odd to be describing who these people are.

This isn't real compelling to me, but it's probably a personal thing.

Julie Weathers said...

Ugh, hit send too quickly.

I think I would go much deeper into his thoughts and the aversion. I know your writing. You can paint this stronger.

Robin S. said...

Maybe you could have two sections - and when we send to you - we mention that it's either an excerpt or a beginning?

I new this was an excerpt, because I knew we'd already seen the beginning - but yeah- people who hadn't read the earlier entries wouldn't have known.

As for the excerpt - the rules for reading are different, are they not? To me, the difference would be that they don't need a hook, they simply need to be well-written for the type/genre of fiction they are, and hold the reader's interest. Is that about right?

I'll definitely send some excerpts in - but I was trying to be nice and wait- as I was just on here last week.

Evil Editor said...

No rules for readers. Writers should choose excerpts that don't require knowledge of what's come before to be understood.

EB said...

nice one, buffy.

Julie Weathers said...

I wish you had a potpourri thread where we could just ask random stuff.

I'm not going to clutter up your New Beginnings with a bunch of my stuff, but I will try to hop in when I can with comments.

I am curious as to whether I could ask the minions to help me come up with a different title for Paladin, though.

Evil Editor said...

Have you considered Have Gun, Will Travel?

Shona Snowden said...

I will never again be able to see the name Kincaid without thinking of cowboys in Mexico.

I'm not sure why he's going with them if he hates it so much, although maybe that's explained elsewhere. I think that second para could be trimmed heavily, pretty much as EE suggests.

Brilliant continuation!

Shona Snowden said...

Evil Excerpts is a great title for these.

Julie Weathers said...

"Have you considered Have Gun, Will Travel?"

You know, the most attractive thing about you is your wit. Unfortunately, right now you aren't very appealing.


Paladin's Pride is, apparently, the name of an erotic series. I would rather not have people associating my book with that...literature.

Robin S. said...

Ha! I'd forgotten about that.

Robin S. said...

OK,EE. No rules for readers.


Dave Fragments said...

How about the "Chivalrous Cavalier" or the "Palantine Policeman" ...
Or maybe "Chivalry's Horseman"

Anonymous said...

I used to make fun of my little brother when he was maybe three or so, and I was seven-ish. (I was one bitch of an older sister, quite frankly.)

Anyway -- he carried this blankie around with him like Linus, while he sucked his thumb, so I'd wait until my mother coudln't hear me, and I'd say,

"Hey (brother's name...) Have shawl, will suck." He hated that.

I could never hear "Have Gun, Will Travel" after those episodes of ours without laughing.

Sorry. I still think it's funny. But I bet when I remind Mr. Linebacker about it - he sure as hell won't.

Kanani said...

Good continuation.

Yup, play with the order in which you introduce things. I was a little confused at first. Sheep? Slaves?

EB said...

"Paladin's Pride" is an erotic series? How...odd.

Of course, there's a book called "Thong on fire: an urban erotic tale," a title that suggests to me that the characters are swapping spirochetes without benefit of latex. I wonder if the main character picks up women by asking "Does it burn when you pee?"

Julie Weathers said...

"Paladin's Pride" is an erotic series? How...odd.

Yes, the first in the series is OUT OF SIGHT. The cover is a naked woman straddling a naked man's lap. So the title is kind of, "Duh. If he's doing it right, of course it's out of sight."

Anyway, I need a new title.

Stacy said...

The more I read this continuation, the more brilliant it seems.

I didn't have a problem at all with this scene. I'd read on, definitely.

Wes said...

If you made posting excerpts a regular feature, perhaps you could allocate 20-25 words to setting the situation so readers would have a better idea of the excerpt's context. For instance a short intro to mine could have been: "Kincaid has been seduced by his lover to capture Navajo slaves so her father will not sell himself into peonage."

Evil Editor said...

I don't think so. Some of my favorite continuations have worked only because the reader didn't know what was going on.

Wes said...


There is not doubt that the continuation for this one was excellent. Has anyone read the book CUBICAL WARFARE?