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Author Topic: 1st chapter of my novel  (Read 4875 times)
joneastwood
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« on: December 28, 2007, 09:22:02 PM »

I am certainly becoming bolder with my writing - here i am about to post some of the novel i've been beavering away at. Apologies to those from Slingink who have read this before!
This is the first chapter, which i have shown in a few places. It is a very fantasy style thing and I'm not sure how popular that is around here. I just wanted to get an idea of how you guys would take it. It's pretty long - so thanks in advance for any comments.

There are another four chapters written - each slightly longer than this.

************************************************************************************************************************************


Chapter 1 – Moth and Flame

The blackened, crispy corpse of the sheep left charred flakes of skin in its wake as it was dragged across the clearing. It had been dead for some time and was partially decomposed. The searing heat that had bathed the ewe had turned its once white, luxuriant fleece to a crunchy, brittle, black shell, most of which had been scraped away on the numerous natural obstacles in its path. A leg caught on a large rock and came away from the body with no resistance at all, scattering chunks of pungent flesh.  The makeshift travois that it was lashed to bumped clumsily across the ground, the teenage boy dragging it heedless of the damage to the animal’s body. He had raised this sheep, tending to it with all the diligence of someone who had little, yet now he cared nothing for it. It was more than a sheep now. It was a symbol.
   A crowd followed the boy, pressed tightly to catch a glimpse of the ruined flesh, to see for themselves the hideous damage, and all while the whispers grew. Spreading out from the ghastly sight, out into those who pushed vainly at the back and saw nothing, the same word echoed. Demon!
   Standing apart from the others, Joren frowned as he heard the word. Demons were nothing but stories in children’s books. People always wanted something to agonize about, he had noticed. Even when there was nothing but a dead sheep, probably struck by lightning, it became a reason to get upset and excited. It made him tired.
   The boy had stopped now, finally dropping the carcass in the centre of the clearing. The entrance to the Warren was here, and most of the children were nearby, watching those at work. Joren’s frown deepened as he noticed all the teenagers working on the Warren door drop their tools and join the crowd gathering around the farmer and his terrible prize. The farmer himself had said nothing, yet his rage was etched on his young face. Phyllis was with him, Joren noticed, no doubt muttering words of comfort. Her slight frame let her move through crowds quickly, and she was always keen to soothe people. Something about distress drew her, some need to make things better. Joren felt no such desire. People needed to learn strength, not to be coddled like children.
   The crowd’s low murmurs ceased as the young farmer climbed onto a nearby stump and turned to address them.
   ‘I found her in the woods to the east.’ His voice trembled with repressed anger. ‘My best breeding stock! There must be a demon in the woods!’
The crowd looked grim and many nodded in agreement. Some of the younger ones began to cry. Phyliss moved forward again.
   ‘Garrin, why don’t you go inside? You’ve dragged this poor thing a long way. Breena will get you some hot soup.’
   ‘Soup? My best ewe is dead, and you offer me soup?’ Garrin turned on the small girl, his eyes flashing. ‘We should have stayed inside, where it’s safe.’
   The crowd was silent for a moment, and even Phyliss looked uncomfortable. Joren knew she hadn’t wanted to leave either, but she tried her best to placate Garrin.
   ‘This isn’t the time or the place to talk about this. The Council will meet later. Right now, we all have things we should be doing.’
   ‘Are you crazy?’ Garrin shouted. I’m not staying out here! It isn’t safe!’
   He stepped off the stump and walked towards the Warren door. Several of the others joined him, and then the rest of the group slowly trickled after them, many casting fearful looks about them.
   Phyllis sat wearily on the stump with her head in her hands as they passed her. A few stopped and tried to get her to join them, but she waved them away, and slowly the clearing emptied. Joren waited until everyone had gone, before joining her.
   She looked up at his approach, fixing him with a stern glare. Phyllis rarely looked at him any other way.
‘You could have helped, instead of skulking in the shadows.’
‘What did you want me to do?’ said Joren, his mouth twitching in amusement. ‘Make a pretty speech? Shout at everyone?’
   ‘You could have helped me talk some sense into Garrin. Everyone will be hiding down in the caves for the rest of the day.’
   Joren laughed. ‘Don’t be ridiculous. Sarina and her little Council will have them back up here before noon.
   The laugh was a mistake, Joren saw. Phyliss’ eyes narrowed and her mouth set in a thin, hard line. He was a good head taller than her, but he suddenly felt a real possibility that she was about to kick him. It wouldn’t do to have her too angry at him, he thought, making an effort to look serious. There were plenty of people at the Warren who disliked him already.
   ‘They’re scared,’ said Phyliss, ‘They’re not used to being out here, under the sky. I’m getting used to it, but it still scares me too. If people get comfortable underground again, I don’t think we’ll ever get them out.’
   Joren shrugged ‘Then leave them. If they want to hide in the dark for the rest of their lives, let them. Why is it your problem?’
Phyliss looked at him for a moment, her expression unreadable. Then she abruptly turned and strode off towards the Warren door. He thought she would stop and say something else, but she disappeared inside without looking back.
Joren felt no desire to follow her. The Warren made him feel trapped and uneasy, and so he spent his time outside. The fear that gripped the others when they saw the sky had never touched him.    
   The Warren was an underground network of tunnels, home to twenty-four orphans. The youngest was roughly five and none older than about nineteen. Joren himself was one of the older ones, though how old he couldn’t say. None of them could.
   Joren had no memory of his childhood, no more than any of the orphans. He knew he had had parents, and that things had been reasonably happy, but these memories were nothing more than vague ideas. His memories began one year ago, in the depths of the Warren, puzzled and disorientated, blinking stupidly at the others around him. Every one of the twenty-four children were gathered in the same large underground chamber, lit only by a small glowing glass globe that somehow filled the whole room with a gentle yellow light. These same globes were scatted throughout the tunnels, giving them abundant light to see by as they explored their new home. There were rooms with comfortable beds, a huge dining room, kitchens with every utensil conceivable, and a vast store of dried foodstuffs. This most impressive thing, however, was found at the end of the longest, deepest tunnel. A huge chamber below all the others was a gigantic underground farm. A huge version of one of the light globes hung somewhere on the distant ceiling, too bright to look at clearly. It acted just like the sun; dimming at regular intervals to give a day/night cycle. A river flowed through the cavern, from one wall to the other, clean and clear as crystal. The whole arrangement provided the orphans with fresh grown fruits, vegetables and sweet, crisp water, and there were even fields with small herds of sheep and cows for meat and milk.
   The orphans had found everything they could need. There was even a huge library where some of the older children taught the younger ones how to read. There were uncounted books down there, some practical books on farming and building, some on medicine, yet there was a wide range of fiction too. Joren had never been one for reading though. He had always felt more at home down among the fields of the farm, rather than huddled in the gloom between the bookshelves.
   The orphans had existed fairly happily for about six months. The older children had formed a council of sorts, led by the eldest girl, Sarina, and everyone had been given a job to do. Some had been assigned to tend the fields, others to the animals; all according to their talents, for it seemed that everyone could do something useful. Garrin, for example, had taken naturally to the life of a farmer, while Phyliss was adept dealing with any injury and had become a sort of nurse for the orphans. There was even a librarian, a small, pale boy of about thirteen called Meshug. Everyone had their place - except Joren it seemed. He had never felt happy anywhere in the Warren. Even the farm had felt constricting after a while, nothing but a big cave that he had long ago explored to the limits. He had helped with more mundane chores in the farm cave, all the while dreaming of something bigger.
   Then, six months ago, while the orphans lay asleep, a dull thump had reverberated through the Warren. Emerging from his small chamber on the upper floor, Joren had found that part of the ceiling had fallen in just outside. The whole corridor was littered with broken rock and dust. Clambering over the shattered stones, coughing and sputtering, Joren had looked up with red, streaming eyes to see a jagged hole in the ceiling, and beyond it, an infinite expanse of cool blackness, studded with points of silver fire. The others had awoken and were stumbling awkwardly towards him over the rock strewn floor, calling his name, yet Joren made no answer. He simply stood and breathed the cool, fresh air, feeling something stir inside him as he gazed up at the night sky.
   His move outside was not even a decision for him. As soon as he could, Joren moved everything he had into a small tent, set up just outside. The others were fearful, forever glancing nervously at the sky above, and couldn’t bear to be above ground for long, but the outside held no fears for Joren. It was here that he found his place.
In response to his questions on making shelter outside, Meshug had found him a book from the library entitled Surviving in the Wild – a Hunter’s Guide. In here Joren had found, not only how to rig up a tent, but how to make spears, a bow, how to track game, how to lay traps and snares – everything he needed. Joren felt proud of himself for the first time. He no longer needed to hide underground, none of them did.
It all seemed so simple back then, mused Joren, as he made his way back to his home. It had never occurred to him that the others had wanted to stay underground.
   His home was no longer the small, ragged tent it had been. After the arguments, he had moved further away, deep into the forest that he loved so much. With the help of A Hunter’s Guide, he had built a small hut amongst the lofty boughs of a massive oak tree, mainly of mud and sticks. It squatted at the top of the tree like a huge bird’s nest. Clumsily built originally, it was now quite an elaborate structure, big enough to fit six people, with rope walkways linking the main hut to two platforms. They were on opposite sides of the tree, and gave graceful, panoramic views of the forest in two directions. From here, Joren would watch the sunrise and the sunset. It seemed he had more and more time on his hands recently.
   His hut was littered with the remains of a new bow staff he’d been making. He had intended to split the sapling neatly, giving himself two staves to work with, but this had proved more complicated than he had thought, so he had ended up with one staff and some kindling. He took the staff down from where he had tied it, and tested the give in it. The wood seemed appropriately seasoned, and so he began to shape the staff, gently rasping what was to become the belly of the bow. He had found the rasp amongst the stores in the Warren. It was good steel, and made short work of even the hardest wood. He hummed as he worked on the wood, the tune familiar, yet still somehow alien to his ears.
   It seemed as if hours flew by as he worked at the bow, yet finally he was disturbed by a soft knock of knuckles upon wood. There was no door to his house, only a thin curtain, usually showing the faint lines of the forest through its thin fabric, yet when he looked up this time he saw that the forest view was obscured by the figure of a woman.
   ‘Come in, Sarina.’ He said, bending back over his half-finished weapon. He wasn’t going to give her the satisfaction of having his whole attention.
   The curtain rustled gently as Sarina pushed it aside and entered the tree house. She stood silently for a moment, the only sound between them that of steel rasping against wood. Then, she spoke.
   ‘There are plenty of bows in the Warren.’
Joren ran his hands down the bow, checking to see if he had kept the staff even. ‘Yes, there are. Bows and arrows. All expertly made and polished. I have one.’
   She looked over at the bow in the corner, coated with dust.
   ‘Then why make another?’
   He smiled down at his work. ‘Because I will have made this one.’
   ‘I don’t understand you, Joren’, said Sarina, sounding weary. ‘You persist in making life hard for yourself, when all you need to do is embrace what we have.’
   Joren was getting tired of this conversation. He had never been patient, but Sarina always got to him quicker than anyone else. ‘We have had this argument many times, and I don’t need you to understand.’
Sarina was silent for a while, and although he wasn’t looking at her, Joren knew the expression on her face. The strange mix of sorrow and pity was all too familiar to him.
   ‘I need you to do something for me, Joren.’
   He continued to gently scrape the belly of the bow stave, determined not to look at her. ‘And why should I do anything for you?’
   Sarina moved forward and crouched next to him, laying a hand upon his arm. ‘Because I ask.’
   He finally stopped what he was doing, and looked in her eyes. What he saw there finally gave him pause. Sarina was the calmest person he knew; during the first days after their strange awakening, she had taken charge briskly and efficiently, without a trace of the fear gripping the others. The orphans looked to her for guidance and reassurance and she had given it freely, without even a hint of uncertainty. Her large, dark eyes were like black stones, and Joren had never seen in her gaze anything but calm and certain composure, yet now it seemed those stones had cracked. For the first time in his memory, Joren saw fear in Sarina’s eyes.
   He frowned, biting back his scathing reply. ‘What is it? What’s wrong?’
   Sarina withdrew her hand and seated herself on the floor. ‘This incident with Garrin’s ewe, it’s just too strange.’ She picked a small piece of wood from the floor and toyed with it as she spoke. ‘He says it looked as though there was a struggle of sorts and that parts of the body have been eaten.’
   ‘So?’ asked Joren, puzzled. ‘Lightning struck the beast and scavengers fed on the corpse. The struggle was probably a struggle for scraps between them.’
   Sarina shook her head. ‘Meshug examined the corpse and he said the ewe had had its throat torn out before it was cooked and eaten. I thought at first one of us could have killed the ewe. Someone with a grudge against Garrin perhaps. But whatever did the eating used its teeth to butcher the poor beast.  How Meshug could stand the stench I don’t know, but I looked long enough to see he was right.’
   Joren thought for a moment, trying to put all the details together. ‘So you’re saying some animal killed the ewe, then somehow cooked it and ate it? How could that be?’
    ‘I don’t know, Joren, but this is why I need your help. The others don’t want to come back up here, and I don’t blame them. Garrin is talking about abandoning the new farm and moving back down below, and he’s not the only one. The Council can’t ask people to stay out here when we don’t have any idea what lives in these woods.’
   ‘So you want me to find out?’ Joren stood and met he gaze. ‘You tell me there is some kind of monster in the woods, and you want me to find out what it is? Am I supposed to kill it as well? Just because you ask?’
   Sarina stood as well, meeting his anger with her cool regard. ‘We all have our skills, Joren. Some of us are farmers, some scholars, others are nurses or teachers. You are a hunter. No one else knows these woods. No one else knows how to shoot a bow, much less make one.’
   He grabbed the half-finished bow from the floor, anger blazing through him. ‘Anyone who read the same book as me could make this, if they tried. I chose to try, because I don’t want to spend my life relying on others. I don’t know who made all those bows in the stores, but they were good. That bow in the corner? It shoots perfectly, effortlessly, and every arrow seems to find a heart. But that bow isn’t mine. Those kills are not mine, because I haven’t earned them. That is why I chose to make my own weapon. You and the others down underground, you’re no different from Garrin’s sheep. I am making something of myself. What have you made of yourself that I should do as you ask?’
   ‘A leader,’ said Sarina, simply. She looked down at the rough bow staff, clutched tightly in Joren’s hands. ‘But it seems to you, that it is something I still need to earn.’
   She walked to the door, pausing at the entrance. ‘This isn’t some stupid power game between the two of us, Joren. This is something from outside that we need to deal with. You may not want to live in the Warren, but I know that you are still one of us.’ With that, she left.
   Joren had never felt such rage. The bow staff bent in his hands, until he heard a crack that echoed up his arms. He looked down at the two broken pieces. It seemed that the wood had not been as seasoned as he had thought.
   The night passed slowly. Joren sat on the floor, his home lit by a single candle, the broken bow carelessly discarded. He sat watching the candle flame for hours, and slowly the room filled with moths. Some small, some half the size of his hand, they were all drawn by the candlelight. He sat and watched their crazed dance around the small, patient flame, while his brain replayed the argument again and again.
   The orphans were childish and cowardly. He knew this. They never thought about anything clearly, and everything they did was a reaction to something else. And Sarina was the worst of them. She the most intelligent yet did nothing with her sharp mind, choosing only to keep the others as they were. He didn’t want to be a part of them, and that was that. Yet somehow, it wasn’t that simple. Was this hut in the trees going to be his home for the rest of his days? The others looked at him differently, he knew, and at first this had felt good. He was special, different, a man apart from the crowd. But the more time he had spent alone, and the more separate he had become, the less happy he had become with the situation. Living out here, he was neither with the orphans, nor apart from them, but what else could he do? Move back underground and huddle in the safety of the Warren, like the other sheep? Or walk the endless forests alone? He was drawn to the others, yet fought that attraction just as hard. Was there nothing else in the world for him?
    After a few hours he realised that he had ceased thinking of anything specific, and that he had spent the whole night staring at a smoking nub of wax. The blackened hulks of moths that had strayed too close to the fire made a macabre ring around the candle stub. Outside, dawn was breaking, and the early morning calls of birds began to echo through the forest.
   Joren rose from his sitting position, his joints creaking in protest. His eyes fell on the broken wood littering the floor and the memories from last night came back. Two weeks of work wasted in one moment of anger, thought Joren, kicking the pieces of broken staff out of the hut. He looked at the bow in the corner for a moment. He hadn’t carried it since deciding to make his own, but the image of the charred sheep carcass came to him again. Sighing, he slung it over his back and began the climb down to the forest floor. The tough rope ladder that was his means of entrance and exit swung dizzyingly as he made his way down, his knees screaming their stiffness at him. The price for sitting down in the cold hut all night, thought Joren, gritting his teeth against the pain.
   The forest was quiet still, the sun just starting to peep through the trees. Joren usually loved this time of day, when it felt as if the world was waking up around him. A stream flowed nearby, the trickling music slipping gently through the forest, and Joren came here every morning to wash his face before checking his snares. Today though, his anger from the night before had settled into a dull, numbness, sapping his customary joy in his surroundings. His motions were automatic and his thoughts sluggish. Sarina’s disappointed expression still lingered in his mind, triggering fresh anger whenever he thought of it. He had thought that Sarina was different, more aware than the others, but now he realised she was just the same. She never really understood why he didn’t want to live with them. She thought that he was playing games, that he really did want to stay with the other orphans and her disappointment was just another trap, seeking to keep him tied to the others. Sarina wanted control - that was all. People were tools to her. But Joren was not going to be controlled by anybody but himself.
   He unslung the bow from his back and examined it again. Perfection, he thought, grudgingly. The bow was not made from a single sapling, like his was going to have been, but from alternate layers of horn and wood. His book had described the making of such bows, but Joren knew that such craftsmanship was beyond him, for now at any rate. He couldn’t fault whoever had made this, but it still grated that it hadn’t been him.
   This time in the morning was a good time to check his snares. Small animals were common in this part of the forest, their tracks showing Joren their favoured routes through the undergrowth, and the thin wire hoops were cunningly placed to neatly catch the creatures as they sped quietly under the bushes. Sure enough, the first snare he checked held a rabbit, probably caught as it fled a predator of some sort; a fox or perhaps a badger. Joren could see where the rabbit had gouged at the earth, striving to escape the noose, yet only drawing it tighter in the struggle. He never liked the snares. They were cruel and painful and he much preferred to hunt the bigger game, with the clean, honest kill given by an arrow to the heart.
   The other wire nooses were empty, so Joren let them be. He would have to move the snares to new positions soon though. Rabbits were not entirely stupid.
   There was just one trap left to check – a twitch-up snare. It was almost the same as the others; nothing but a wire hoop that would tighten on the animal as it pushed through it, but this one was also linked to a carefully bent sapling, which would quickly snap the hapless creature up into the air.  Sometimes he found that his snares had caught something, only to have his prize eaten by something larger. The sapling he had used in this trap would hopefully stop him doing the foxes work for them.
   A rustling noise came from just up ahead, and a soft growl. Joren stopped where he was, listening. Either his snare had trapped something too big to handle, or one of the many scavengers in the forest was brazenly taking his catch. He took the bow from his back, slid an arrow from the quiver and nocked it as he crept slowly towards the noise ahead. For all his scepticism about demons, his mind treacherously flashed up images of nightmarish beasts, spouting fire from their gaping mouths. His snare was just ahead, and so he crouched low, peering through the bushes to see what he had caught, then sighed in relief at what he saw.
   A smallish, lean looking wolf was gnawing on something, making the peculiar growling noise of an animal preoccupied with its food. He smiled, indulgently. The catch hadn’t been suspended high enough, clearly, and he couldn’t begrudge the wolf for using its brain.  Joren couldn’t see the sapling though, and began to think he had come to the wrong place, until he saw that it was broken and twisted, almost parallel to the ground. He frowned, annoyed at the ruined trap. He would have to spend time finding a new site for this snare, and try to see what he had done wrong with this one. Perhaps it had inadvertently snared something too strong for the young tree to hold.
   He would have to do something about this wolf, however. He half drew his bow, debating whether or not to put an arrow through the beast, but decided against it. There wasn’t much meat on the wolf anyway, and his hunting book described wolf meat as gamey and unpleasant. It was strange really, seeing a wolf by itself. They usually ran in packs, but this one must have been driven away by the others, too weak to fight for its place amongst its fellows.
   He stood suddenly, striding towards the wolf, deliberately making as much noise as possible, an arrow drawn and trained on it, just in case. Sure enough, the animal bolted, leaving behind its grisly meal and vanishing between the trees. Joren laughed, relaxing. No wonder the wolf had been driven from its pack if it gave up so easily. Joren felt good, he realised. A walk through the forest in the morning always put him in a good mood, and with his small victory over the wolf, the argument with Sarina seemed years ago. He walked jauntily over to see what the wolf had been eating, and then his smile died.
   It was a human leg.
    Joren stared at it for a while. It felt as if all thought had stopped, and it was all he could do to take in what his eyes were showing him. The thigh and shin were protected by plates of black metal. At some point the foot had worn a boot, but now it lay a short distance away, the foot bare to the world. Joren found himself fascinated by it. The nails were neatly trimmed and Joren could make out soft, delicate looking hair on the top of the arch. This is someone’s foot, Joren said to himself, a man’s foot. It seemed simple, if he focused on that. The top of the leg however, was a shredded, bloody mess, white bone showing starkly against the red ruin made by the wolf’s teeth, and Joren couldn’t put the two images together in his mind. He found himself fighting an insane urge to put the boot back on the foot.
     He stepped away and rested his forehead against a tree, closed his eyes, sucked down cool breaths of air and slowly tried to marshal his thoughts. It couldn’t have been the wolf. It had been nothing but a bundle of bones held together with fur, no threat to a man, especially one who had apparently been armoured. Could the outcast wolf’s pack be responsible? Joren doubted it. There would be no need to attack a human when there were plenty of smaller, easier to hunt animals in the forest. More likely the man had died of some other reason, been wounded or sick, and the wolf had just been scavenging. But what could have caused this man’s death. And who was he anyway? He couldn’t be from the Warren; none of them ever came this far into the woods, especially not wearing strange, black armour. Joren shivered, glancing nervously about the trees. It had never occurred to him that there might be other people. As far as he and all the orphans knew, they were alone in the world.
   Joren opened his eyes and faced the scene once more. He had to have answers, and he wasn’t going to get them from a tree. How did this man die? It didn’t make any sense, until Joren remembered the broken sapling. The man must have stumbled into his snare, bringing the tree down with his weight as he fell. A ghastly possibility occurred to him. What if his trap had been the cause of death? An awkward landing as he fell, breaking his neck, a hidden rock, shattering the skull – the fault would still be his, no matter the final cause. Joren strode forwards toward the remains of his trap, and the dark shape nearby. He needed to know.
   The body of the man lay face down, his remaining leg still caught in the wire hoop. Joren could see where wire had cut into the man’s flesh as it tightened around his ankle. He was wearing a full set of armour, all made of the same black metal and a long red cloak, which was badly torn, almost nothing but a rag. Joren steeled himself, took a deep breath and hauled at the body, turning it over. His breath caught in his throat as what was left of the man’s face was revealed, and Joren knew with a horrible cold certainty that this death was not his fault.
   The man was wearing a helmet, obviously well cared for. The black metal had been highly polished, reflecting a distorted version of Joren back at him. The edges nearest the man’s face, however, had melted and fused with his skin. Joren couldn’t imagine the heat involved. The face itself was horrific, seared black, and beneath the man’s charred features, his torn throat gaped widely, like a terrible mouth.
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Ed
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« Reply #1 on: December 29, 2007, 07:53:28 AM »

I haven't read all of it yet, Jon - no time at the moment, but I thought I'd give you a quick bit of feedback on something I noticed in the first line. It's written passively. You know when you were at school and you had to write up a science experiment, along the lines of, "The test tube was held over the bunsen burner flame for a period of fifteen seconds." This is the passive.

Same here -

Quote
The blackened, crispy corpse of the sheep left charred flakes of skin in its wake as it was dragged across the clearing.


All the reader is able to picture from this description is the corpse being dragged along the ground - by what or whom, they can't see. Good writing creates pictures in the minds of readers.

This is a more active description -

Quote
The blackened, crispy corpse of the sheep left charred flakes of skin in its wake as a teenage boy dragged it across the clearing.


Possibly better again -

Quote
A teenage boy dragged the blackened and crispy corpse of a sheep across the clearing, leaving charred flakes of skin in his wake.

Passivity is to the slushpile what saltwater is to the sea afro
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Planning is an unnatural process - it is much more fun to do something.  The nicest thing about not planning is that failure comes as a complete surprise, rather than being preceded by a period of worry and depression. [Sir John Harvey-Jones]
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« Reply #2 on: December 29, 2007, 12:23:16 PM »

Sorry - my last post reads like a lecture rolleyes It worries me just how quickly I can fall into condescending old bastard mode, without even realising it scratch Must be a sign of growing older, or something. Next I'll be spouting stuff like, "I fought in the war for the likes of you!!!"  pissed

Argh...
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Planning is an unnatural process - it is much more fun to do something.  The nicest thing about not planning is that failure comes as a complete surprise, rather than being preceded by a period of worry and depression. [Sir John Harvey-Jones]
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« Reply #3 on: December 29, 2007, 12:32:49 PM »

 grin I really didn't see it as a lecture, so don't worry! But i don't mind lectures.
I'm delighted that you had such useful comments after the first sentence, actually. I'm very aware of how new I am to writing and so the more lectures the better. I've never studied writing  in any way (my degree is in acting), so i'm sure there's a lot of stuff that those of you who are experienced take for granted and are tired of pointing out in the works of amateurs - especially when we try and jump in the deep end by writing a novel!  grin
Don't pull any punches.

Oh - and did you really fight in the war for me?
« Last Edit: December 29, 2007, 12:34:15 PM by joneastwood » Logged
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« Reply #4 on: December 29, 2007, 12:44:54 PM »

Jon--Methinks you'll be a terrific writer with your acting background, you are prepared to be IN the character, instead of watching the character. That's a huge advantage!  I concur with Ed's overall comment--the use of passive voice. It's a killer, but you can use Word to help you find it lurking in your sentences. If you do spellcheck, at the end a box should pop up with readability and grade level scores. The box also displays % passive sentences. I use it and am always shocked to see there's more there than I thought!! santa_rolleyes

And, yes, Ed did fight in the war for you.  heh
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« Reply #5 on: December 29, 2007, 01:00:18 PM »

Yes - it's a secret, really. undecided People tend not to believe me, but I was head chef in the army of Zob the Merciless afro
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Planning is an unnatural process - it is much more fun to do something.  The nicest thing about not planning is that failure comes as a complete surprise, rather than being preceded by a period of worry and depression. [Sir John Harvey-Jones]
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« Reply #6 on: December 29, 2007, 01:02:39 PM »

... used to bake rock cakes for the siege catapults azn
« Last Edit: December 29, 2007, 01:03:27 PM by Ed » Logged

Planning is an unnatural process - it is much more fun to do something.  The nicest thing about not planning is that failure comes as a complete surprise, rather than being preceded by a period of worry and depression. [Sir John Harvey-Jones]
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« Reply #7 on: December 30, 2007, 02:51:44 PM »

Did you also drown people in museli - laughing as they were pulled under by the strong currants?
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« Reply #8 on: December 30, 2007, 03:53:06 PM »

No, that's against the terms of the Geneva Convention - cruel and unusual nourishment undecided
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Planning is an unnatural process - it is much more fun to do something.  The nicest thing about not planning is that failure comes as a complete surprise, rather than being preceded by a period of worry and depression. [Sir John Harvey-Jones]
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