PDA

View Full Version : Yes, another asipiring novelist


SFFWorld.com
Home - Discussion Forums - News - Reviews - Interviews

New reviews, interviews and news

New in the Discussion Forum


Pages : [1] 2

Vroomfondel
November 10th, 2001, 06:35 AM
Please let me know what you think of this prologue that I've written, and please don't hold back criticism. Thanks. http://www.sffworld.com/ubb/smile.gif

PROLOGUE.
Old and wiry, Gradner Plank surveyed the scene with disgust and disbelief. His ramshackle wagon had fallen off of the small, hard-packed dirt path and into a murky puddle of the surrounding swamp. Cabello, Gradnerís horse, was placidly chewing a morsel of grass, up to her hooves in slime. The left wheel and the twelve sacks of grain which had fallen off of the cart moments before, was no where to be seen. The sky was obscured by an ugly gray blanket of clouds, although here and there a small patch of
ar-sprinkled firmament was visible. Dead trees, even more gnarled than old Gradner, protruded from the soil, their bare, spindly branches reaching upwards like damned souls cursing their god with raised arms and cclenched fists. Milkweeds and catís tails
psprouted near the edge of the path, fringing pools of thick, murky slime. A heavy fog shrouded the swamp in an impenetrable cloak, from which the sounds of crickets and frogs echoed distantly. The distinct, putrid scent of marsh gas hung in the air like a llimp rag, where it assaulted the nose of Gradner and any other unfortunate souls lost in the Crochet Swamp.
Gradner wrung his bony hands together in dismay. Heíd been one of the farmers selected to bring the levy of grain from Weedpatch to the capital city of Lamath. Every year the able-bodied villagers drew straws to see who would go to deliver to the tribute; this year Gradner had been selected. How he wished how heíd listened to his wife when she pleaded that he stay behind, that he was too old, that the villagers select someone eelse.....
But that had never been his way. He was always fiercely independent, and though he might regret his hasty decisions now, that never kept him from jumping ahead to do what looked like a good idea at the time. And buying a map to Lamath from a grizzled old troll had seemed like an excellent idea to Gradner, especially with that attractive shortcut through Crochet Swamp on it. So here he was: in the middle of the night, completely alone, with a broken wagon, no food, and in the Crochet Swamp of all places.
An ominous sound reverberated across the murky lake and slime pits of the Swamp, chilling Gradner to the marrow of his bones. He gripped the remnant of his wagon until his knuckles turned white. He cowered like a rabbit, crouched down with his eyes app
hensively scanning the perimeter. When the noise returned it was almost enough to make Gradner scream, until he recognized it for what it was: the hooting of an owl.
He exhaled as relief swept over him like an ocean wave, his heart thudding against his chest. He mustnít let his imagination do that to him, he had to get a grip and figure out how to either leave the swamp or spend the night. But that wasnít easy, when your heart beat like a company of drummers and you kept thinking of every story you ever heard involving ghouls, ghosts, and netherworld demons.....the smell didnít help you think much, either, thought Gradner as he wrinkled his nose in disgust. This pl
e smelt worse than a privy. It was said there was so much gas in Crochet Swamp that if you were to light a torch, the entire continent would explode. Gradner never believed such an exaggeration, of course; he figured that only about half of the swamp would explode.
Suddenly the wall of silence that encompassed the area was shattered by a strange, low noise: HHHHHSSSSSSS..... Gradner gripped his wagon once again even as the cold hand of fear gripped his heart and squeezed in an icy handshake. His knees shook uncon
ollably. Sweat poured down his face in huge quantities. What the hell was that? Whatever it was, it was definitely no owl this time. It sounded not unlike a snake, but what kind of snake was large enough to produce a sound that loud? Gradner shuttered to think of it.
HHHHHHSSSSSSSSS.......
The noise returned, stabbing through the air like a poniard. Gradner couldnít help himself. He sank to his knees on dirt path and moaned. There was a rustling in the bushes nearby, and a low growling followed by the mysterious HHHHSSSSSSS..... this time
much closer than before.
Gradner fell down on all fours, trembling like a leaf in a hurricane. He was, in the farthest corner of his mind, behind the fear, the fear that enveloped all thoughts and emotion, aware of the indignity of his current position, on his hands and knees like an animal, scared out of his wits.
HHHHSSSSSSSS.....the noise returned, this time so close that the thing--whatever it was--couldnít be more than a few meters away. Gradner never had the time to reflect that while the rest of his body was paralyzed with fear, his head somehow was able to lift itself up.
The omnipresent mist obscured the shape of the creature, but two eyes, glowing red like peepholes into hell, glared at Gradner with the intensity of miniature suns. For a moment, their gazes locked: the primal, despairing stare of the prey as it looked up into the eyes of its hunter.

The beast was on top of him before he could scream.

Lady_Linda
November 10th, 2001, 07:29 AM
I am afraid that this wont be much of use.... It is simply too good. I thought it was great and have nothing to complain about :0) (except grammar, check that again)

>>>>>>HHHHHHSSSSSSSSS.......
The noise returned, stabbing through the air like a poniard. Gradner couldnít help himself. He sank to his knees on dirt path and moaned. There was a rustling in the bushes nearby, and a low growling followed by the mysterious HHHHSSSSSSS..... this time
much closer than before.
Gradner fell down on all fours, trembling like a leaf in a hurricane. He was, in the farthest corner of his mind, behind the fear, the fear that enveloped all thoughts and emotion, aware of the indignity of his current position, on his hands and knees like an animal, scared out of his wits.
>>>>>>>>>

In this part especially, you succeded with thrilling and horrifying the reader, that's difficult! (At least I find it so :0)

Great job! I'd love to read the next part.

~Linda~

KATS
November 10th, 2001, 09:28 AM
First off, something happened to some parts of your story. Several times I was missing 3 or 4 letters. Perhaps the cut paste function messed up? Of course it could be my computer. Anyway, that really wasn't story related, but I thought I'd mention it in case it is not just my computer.

As far as the story goes . . .

Aside from the typo here and there, not a bad prologue (assuming the marsh & creature have a future role in the story itself).

I would take a look at the first paragraph again. "Cabello, Gradnerís horse, was placidly chewing a morsel of grass, up to her hooves in slime." . . . for instance. "up to her hooves in slime" is refering to the horse? If so it should be placed closer to the reference to the horse and not by the reference to the grass. "Up to her hooves in slime, Cabello, Grander's horse, was placidly chewing a morsel of grass."

Without knowing more about the story itself and your goals for this prologue it is difficult to comment further.

Bardos
November 10th, 2001, 12:08 PM
Very good.

Only one thing hit me bad: "It was said there was so much gas in Crochet Swamp that if you were to light a torch, the entire continent would explode. Gradner never believed such an exaggeration, of course; he figured that only about half of the swamp would explode."

Well, would a guy in a fantasy setting be thinking about the gas and explosions? This would be more scifi, than fantasy.
But, then again, this only one opinion...

An8el
November 11th, 2001, 01:53 AM
I'd say it depends on the age of male protagonist. I mean, whether they think about explosions or not.... Don't all males about...9-15 like to blow things up? Some guys never get over it, spending thousands of dollars on illegal fireworks every July 4th...I personally know at least five of them and they're 40+!

James Barclay
November 11th, 2001, 04:48 AM
There are some good atmospherics created in your prologue. I think you try too hard at times and could make your points in less words but it's a decent first stab.

A couple of small points - the names might need looking at. I ketp reading 'Gradner' as a mis-spelling og 'Gardener' which was distracting. And 'Crochet' is something pretty done with wool and a needle. It doesn't fit with your description of the swamp.

Another phrase that stood out a little odd was 'trembling like a leaf in a hurricane'. Leaves don't tremble in hurricanes, they get blown away. I knew what you were getting at, I just didn't feel the choice of words worked.

More important, though, surely he knows the reputation of this swamp and wouldn't travel it, certainly not alone. He's old enough to know better and being impetuous isn't enough reason to risk it - he needs to be behind in terms of time such that he's forced into it as the only option. If you don't get this across, it'll appear contrived. Perhaps there's a punishment for being late? (Or maybe a prize for being first if you want him to have a greed motive rather than a lateness one) Have a think about why he'd take such an apparently enormous gamble.

Careful of cliches - monsters with piercing red eyes and buying maps from trolls sound a little hackneyed. Every writer falls into the trap but you need to be aware of it.

One other thing - if this swamp is as scary as you descibe, his horse would not be idly chewing grass, it would be straining every muscle to escape.

I hope that helps, it's just a few quick thoughts - you're brave to post writing for criticism. Good luck to you.

Vroomfondel
November 15th, 2001, 12:26 PM
Thanks for the feedback, everyone http://www.sffworld.com/ubb/smile.gif I'll be posting a somewhat revised prologue and maybe Chapter 1 soon, if you're interested.

wastra
November 17th, 2001, 05:21 AM
There was another section that needs to be re-worked:

"But that wasnít easy, when your heart beat like a company of drummers and you kept thinking of every story you ever heard involving ghouls, ghosts, and netherworld demons.....the smell didnít help you think much, either, thought Gradner as he wrinkled his nose in disgust. "

You just switched perspective of the story, going from 3rd person (he, she, it, the man, etc) to second person (you, your, etc). This happened a couple times above and needs to be fixed, it's not proper writing. If you were trying to show the man's thoughts, try re-working it as dialogue. As it stands, it's part of the narration, and therefore improper usage of perspective.


As for the story itself- I liked it. It can lead to a dull book or a great one sicne we don't know enough else about the man, the swamp, the beast, or anything that followed.

Personally, I like the description throughout. Truly classic literature uses vivid imagery and doesn't shy away from painting such pictures in the mind of the reader. Could some parts be shortened? Sure. Is it necessary tocut out major portions fo the prologue? Not at all.

Good start. Keep at it. Could be the makings of a fine piece.

Vroomfondel
November 20th, 2001, 11:27 AM
Thanks. The new version will be up in a couple of days, I've noticed a huge improvement in it myself....the beast in the swamp does indeed resurface and figure prominenetly later on in the story....

Alucard
November 20th, 2001, 05:58 PM
Some advice vroomfondel, don't worry too much about your mistakes. You should definitely take everyone's comments into account (I'd advise you write them down), but don't worry about too many revisions. You should move on and keep writing, because by constantly editing the same chapter (or prologue), you end up becoming numb to it. It's better to move on and come back to it later (possibly when your done with the entire story) because by doing so, you will be able to see it in a fresh perspective again. Also, by the time you've written an entire story, you'll probably have learned a lot. And then when you do go back and re-work the beginning, a lot of your mistakes should be easier to spot. Also, by moving ahead and not being a perfectionist, it helps to not lose sight of where your story is going. This is just a suggestion, but it has helped me tremendously, and it might do the same for you.