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tingmakpuk
January 17th, 2004, 03:24 PM
Something just isn't working with this passage. What's good? What's awkward?

Kinnaq reached for the blade on his hip. In a single motion, he turned and threw. The blade sank to the handle into the creature’s chest. The inyuqun stopped, and its cruel features changed to shock. Kinnaq rushed toward the door, looking back to see the inyuqun toying with the blade in its chest – almost curiously so.

Kinnaq took the six rusted stair steps in two strides. He kicked the rock that blocked open the door, and pulled until he heard the reassuring click. The rotten wood and rusted metal of the hallway floor looked as inviting as any bed just then. Not that he had much choice. His body went limp, but he managed to use the mildew-covered wall to slide to the floor. He considered using his emergency beacon, but he played the resulting conversation through in his mind. An inyuqun was chasing me. Yes, I broke another promise, but I swear I’m not lying.

Inyuqun. Kinnaq could not believe it himself. They were the stuff of fairy tales. “The inyuqun will get you if you don’t watch out,” he said, repeating the last line of countless stories. They were the gremlins of the Inupiaq legends, mischievous beings, but mostly harmless unless—

Oh God save me. He had tried to kill an inyuqun. In all of the legends, vengeance was the first rule of the inyuqun. They would hunt the man who harmed them for the rest of his short and miserable life. If the legends were true, the inyuqun would hunt Kinnaq now.

If the legends were true. It made no sense. How could they be true? How could an inyuqun be real?

The Inupiat were returning to the old ways; maybe the old ways were returning to the Inupiat.

“Superstitious anaq,” Kinnaq said aloud.
Kinnaq wearily pulled the skin from his pack and drank deeply. Muscles and joints ached in harmonious throbs. The nanos reduced the severity of their warnings, but requested that Kinnaq prioritize their efforts to repair damage. He made the momentary mistake of lowering the priority of his earlier headache. He groaned until the command reversal was complete.

He pulled himself to his feet and pushed aside the broken door of the large, empty classroom nearby. He wasn’t concerned that the inyuqun would come through the windows. Like most buildings on arctic permafrost, this one was on stilts. The windows were twelve feet or more from the ground. This building in particular had been constructed with security in mind. The large windows were shatterproof, double-paned storm glass that had evidently survived decades of flooding and earthquakes with a minimum of cracks.

Kinnaq searched for a pinhole of transparency among the scratches and glazing that shrouded the windows. The corner of one window revealed only an empty street, overgrown with fireweed.

A scraping sound came from below. Kinnaq recoiled, but tried to calm himself. The wood of the floor might be rotten, but the dense metal lattice remained strong even as rusted as it was. The creature must have been dragging a single claw along the lattice.

The whispers started again, as haunting and inhuman as before. A solitary word came through the whispered gibberish.

“Boy.”

Kinnaq froze.

“We smell your fear, boy.”

Kinnaq started cautiously across the floor, but the whispers followed.

“It smells sweet and salty.”

Kinnaq leaned over an area where the wood had rotted away completely. He could see only darkness beyond the metal grille.

“Like your blood.” The long, jagged teeth pressed against the lattice followed by a black tongue that flicked through. Shadow hid the rest.
Kinnaq retreated quickly to the hallway. The scraping and whispers followed him.

“We could kill you now. But your body grows tired, and the sweetness of your fear fades.”

Kinnaq navigated the hallway, avoiding the naked sections of lattice.

“You belong to us now. And we choose to claim you later. Sleep well, boy.”

The scraping and whispers suddenly stopped. Kinnaq waited in the silence, realizing that the silence frightened him more than the wicked little whisper.
Finally he continued through the hall until he found a classroom that had no uncovered metal. The creature had been right. Fear couldn’t compete with the demands of his body. He managed to pull the pack from his back, but the rabbit skin bedding remained inside when Kinnaq put his head on the pack and slept.

Expendable
January 19th, 2004, 12:42 PM
Wow, very um vivid.

Maybe you did this earlier and I don't see it - your character spins around and throws his knife into a inyuqun, then darts upstairs.

What's a inyuqun? What does it look like? Why does he run from it?

You climb six steps but how many were there? If the building was twelve feet off the ground on stilts I'd think there be more stairs.

Dawnstorm
January 19th, 2004, 03:52 PM
Originally posted by tingmakpuk
Inyuqun. Kinnaq could not believe it himself. They were the stuff of fairy tales. ��The inyuqun will get you if you don��t watch out,�� he said, repeating the last line of countless stories. They were the gremlins of the Inupiaq legends, mischievous beings, but mostly harmless unless��

Oh God save me. He had tried to kill an inyuqun. In all of the legends, vengeance was the first rule of the inyuqun. They would hunt the man who harmed them for the rest of his short and miserable life. If the legends were true, the inyuqun would hunt Kinnaq now.

If the legends were true. It made no sense. How could they be true? How could an inyuqun be real?

The Inupiat were returning to the old ways; maybe the old ways were returning to the Inupiat.


I'm not sure what you think isn't working in this passage. You might try to shorten the section I've quoted to one or two sentences, and desperse most of the remaining information among the other paragraphs at "opportune moments". You're starting the piece in the middle of action and that section kind of slows the pace without warning.

It's not bad the way it is, though. :)

milamber_reborn
January 19th, 2004, 09:53 PM
With only a quick glance, I notice too many sentences starting with 'Kinnaq.' Try saying 'he' sometimes when you've already established his name in a paragraph, or find new ways to start sentences.

choppy
January 20th, 2004, 01:04 AM
It's always good to set the context a little bit. Is this part of a novel or short story? Is this the first passage the reader sees, or should we already be familiar with Kinnaq?

Anyhow - here's some thoughts based on what's here.

This is very jumpy. Kinnaq is running from an "inyuqun," which if I'm guessing correctly is some kind of yetti, or bigfoot, or snow monster or whatever. He escapes his encounter and takes shelter in some kind of abandoned house (or school?) on stilts. He passed out on the floor in one of the rooms, only to be awakened by the sounds of the beast scratching at the floor below.

Overall, I think this is good, but as with anything, there's room for improvement. First of all - what do you want this scene to do? Build suspense, or introduce the inyuqun? If your goal is suspense, I would avoid the idea of explaining how these creatures fit into Kinnaq's culture's mythology. This should come earlier - in a "watch out for the inyuqun" scene. Then focus on the danger this creature presents.

You open, for example, with action. But it's action without context. Why does Kinnaq want to kill/harm the inyuqun? Setting the context can come as something like:
"... and there was the legendary inyuqun, approaching Kinnaq with the graceful stealth of a lion. In the arctic, just outside of the abandoned school, he was alone. If the beast killed him now, no one would ever know what happened to him. Just as gracefully as the beast moved forward, he reached for his knife..."
Now I don't know that these are Kinnaq's circumstances, but here we know where he is, and what' s happening to him, before we get into the action.

Balancing the right amount of information with action is always tricky though. It's something I struggle with in my own work.

But your body grows tired, and the sweetness of your fear fades. - Does this mean that he's growing less afraid? Or is he just falling asleep? This seems to imply that if he's tired, the beast isn't interested in him, but most predators will be encouraged by finding their prey in a weakened state.

Rather than ending with Kinnaq falling asleep - it would create more suspense to end with him "barricading" himself somehow. Describe how he seals the classroom, or leaves a lamp on in the other end of the building as a distraction. Then close the chapter with him waiting, and shivering, clutching a knife that he probably shouldn't have thrown away. That way as a reader, I'lll turn the page to see what happens, rather than put the book down because everything is safe.

I hope this helps.

tingmakpuk
January 23rd, 2004, 10:51 PM
Excellent. Thanks for all of the good thoughts. It'll give me a target -- several actually.

The answer some of the questions posed: This is a short story, but this passage falls a dozen pages in. The reader knows Kinnaq well, but the inyuqun is introduced only a page earlier (four foot creature that looks human from a distance, btw). The inyuqun isn't actually the core of the plot, but a vehicle to make the plot reach climax later. Now that one of you mentioned it, I do need to allude to the inyuqun earlier. I take it that it doesn't really work to expect an introduction and suspense in the same section.

The inyukun is definitely a predator, but not so much cat-like -- more a sociopath. The need to delineate that seemed obvious, but only after someone mentioned it. I should post the whole thing here and get more of your insight, but I'm paranoid about losing first rights.

Thanks again.