Thursday, February 19, 2009

New Beginning 608 (excerpt)

As Manuel led Lerocque’s trading party to the pass approaching Santa Fe Kincaid felt the mountains and mesas close around him. The heights looming above made a man feel small and uneasy. Other feelings crept in too. Feelings more unsettling, even frightening. What if Lerocque was wrong? What if the Mexicans had lost their revolution against Spain? What if the Spaniards attacked or jailed them like they did the McKnights years before? Did the others feel this way? Hard telling by seeing how loose the older men sat their horses. But they had to be thinking about being in a foreign country where their lives could be in the hands of others.

Kincaid spotted a cloud of dust, then a troop of mounted Spanish soldiers cantered around a bend. Both the soldiers and Lerocque’s men drew up short.

Kincaid stared at the soldiers. Running up on mounted troopers gives a start that turns a man inside out.


And a man's bowel must be obeyed when it's as loose in the saddle as this.

Kincaid peered around. Mountains, mesas, soldiers . . . But no Portaloos. Next year he'd go back to the Civil War Society Reenactment. It was so much more . . . civil.

Opening: Wes.....Continuation: McKoala


Evil Editor said...

Especially when said man is merely on vacation.

Kincaid wondered if he would ever get back home.


Manuel nudged him. "Ask them," he hissed. "They'll know for sure."
Kincaid flinched, then gathered his courage and rode forward. "Perdoneme, senores," he said haltingly. "But perhaps you can help us with this history homework?"


Unsettling feelings woke in Kincaid. The taut, confident way the troopers sat their horses, the smell of sweat and leather...the way their uniform breeches fit their hips...

He looked at Lerocque's party, saw how they licked their lips, how their eyes grew avid. Yep, they felt the same way. Time to mount something that wasn't a horse.


But it's even more startling--as the mounted troopers later explained to their psychotherapists--to see a man implode.


Evil Editor said...

Other feelings crept in too. Feelings more unsettling, even frightening.

That can go. Change the next sentence to What if Lerocque was wrong, he thought, and the Mexicans had lost?

We can figure out that the thought is unsettling and frightening. I removed "their revolution against Spain": I assume the reader knows what Lerocque said Mexico won.

Hard telling by seeing how loose the older men sat their horses.

If how loose they're sitting their saddle doesn't reveal how they're feeling, why bring it up? Just say: Hard telling. If it does reveal how they're feeling, say: Probably not, seeing how...

Anonymous said...

The set-up is too pat:

Paragraph 1: Gee, what if some Spaniards catch us?

Paragraph 2: Wup!, here come those pesky Spaniards.

Dave Fragments said...

I'm one of those non-horsey people who don't know about tight or loose on a horse. Not that I've never ridden the big smelly beasts but I don't know enough about them to make the connection. I think you need a different way of saying that then Mexicans weren't displaying concerns about a Spanish attack. Kincaid is in awe of the huge mountains and mesa and (I'm guessing) is concerned about everything. The Mexicans seem to be less concerned and more relaxed.

Xiexie said...

I think the first sentence is awkward, and just having read over it finally I see what I did. I made Sante Fe Kincaid the MC's full name. Oops.

Stick a comma in there after Santa Fe.

Anonymous said...

I'm afraid I found this pretty confusing. You've got some nice details but the elements don't come together in a clear picture of what's going on. It doesn't help that you have so many names packed into that first sentence. Perhaps you can try giving us more of a physical description of the scene before going straight into Kincaid's introspection.

Anonymous said...

Instead of saying they are loose on the horse, it might be better to say they're relaxed, riding with loose reins, something other than simply "loose".

Wes said...

Thanks to everyone for their comments, suggestions, and hilarious continuations. McK, yours was a natural, and Batgirl..."Time to mount something that wasn't a horse" have a naughty mind. EE, thanks, for the editing. I'm gradually learning what the reader can figure out. To all of you who pointed out problems with using "loose", you're helping me learn that trying to write in the venacular of the times has major pitfalls.

Anonymous said...

I knew poo would be involved, so I didn't bother submitting a continuation, something like, He shat himself as he exploded, spattering his comrades... :P

Instead of Other feelings crept in too. Feelings more unsettling, even frightening. you could have 'Unsettling fear crept in'. That cuts two 'feelings' after a 'felt'. I think if you want to keep a 'feeling', make the above sentences one. My salty 2c.
I've been enjoying Kincaid's adventures :)

Anonymous said...

BTW the contins. were clever, since no visible faecal matter was involved.

writtenwyrdd said...

Overall I liked this. There are good details and the pov character is feeling a bit of a crisis internally. However you write the character's thinking rather passively.

"Did the others feel this way? Hard telling by seeing how loose the older men sat their horses. But they had to be thinking about being in a foreign country where their lives could be in the hands of others."

In the above, you start with wondering, then give the action to support it. You might consider starting with the action in sentence #2 here and then into the thoughts. "He eyed the older men as they sat their horses. They [might be better to select one particular individual, or a couple of them]looked _[?]_. Were they wondering if Lerocque was wrong? If the Mexicans had lost their revolution, or whether the Spaniards would attack them like they did the McKnights years ago? {Add some physical gester he interprets perhaps} Maybe not all of them. But some of them had to be thinking about being in a foreign country where their lives could be in the hands of others."

And I'd omit "Feelings more unsettling, even frightening."

Anonymous said...

For what it's worth, the 'loose' worked for me. I grew up hearing the term 'loose in the saddle' as an expression. so I don't think the term is dead. It's just ripe for deliberate misinterpretation by we minions.

Anonymous said...

I've re-read my previous comments, now I know not to post at 3am after a long day...

Wes, I love your description of the landscape and Kincaid's reaction. Repetition of words and phrases slows down the rest of that paragraph. The next too para's are much snappier. I think if you tighten the first para the whole passage will flow nicely.

Wes said...

Thanks for the suggestions. They make sense.

And Anon 9:34 PM, I appreciate your comment. I'm taking a huge risk by attempting to use venacular from the period. It might not appeal to the market, agents, and editors. But growing up on a farm in Appalachia I heard this type of language in my youth, and I found it colorful, even poetic. I actually talked this way until I went to college. My freshman English comp prof had fits. My first draft was nearly all in the dialect, but it was too much. Modern, urban readers struggled with it. I've attempted to tone it down and only use terms and phrases that readers would be familiar with or could easily understand the meaning. I might have spent a couple years pounding out 90K words with no market. I shall see. I'd appreciate any comments people wish to make.

talpianna said...

Wes, have you read Manly Wade Wellman's John the Balladeer stories? They are narrated in Appalachian dialect.

writtenwyrdd said...

dialect shouldn't be too much of aproblem, Wes, nor a Western/ cowboy tale. (This sounds like a Western to me, or close enough.) I'd only be concerned that you have the language written 'normally' 99% of the time, even if you are using vernacular (because while you can say 'ain't' in written dialog, you cannot generally get away with "'taint nuthin, pardner" in mass quantities, lol.)