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July 16th, 2004, 02:36 PM
First, thank you all who participated last week. Choppy, thank you for all the critiques you did. Great post.

Moving on to the exercise.

Last week (well, I posted the exercise last week), we created a character. Some of us put that character into a situation, others just described him/her/it. Eveyone did a great job. Next:

Take the character you created, and use that character to describe the scene. Describe the room/rooftop/ship/etc in extreme detail using your character's POV. Describe the people, objects, furniture, climate, smells, sounds, textures, and anything else that makes up your scene and is important to the telling of your story.

Use this to build up your character a little more if you wish. Let's get inside his/her mind and open up their world. Don't just say, there was a 'bottle of whiskey on the bar'. Why would the character notice that?

'Chezron noticed the half-full bottle of whiskey just behind Echer. His mouth went dry as he imagined a shot warming his bones. With no liquor in his body, and Echer with half a bottle, this was going to be an easy fight and Chezron could have that drink.'

I'll post mine as soon as I have it written. Again, use as few or as many (up to 400) words to do your scene description. I look forward to the posts.

July 16th, 2004, 03:50 PM
Not terribly happy with this, but I tried =/


A ghost could not move so swiftly, so silently. Drifting across roof tops like a breeze, Laziris fled. The sky's inky blackness was overshot with grey, streaky clouds, turnt silver by the tickling of the moon. There was an icy tang of salt on the air, a hint of nearby water. He was running parallel to the shoreline, and his pursuers were drawing an ever-tighter net.

A clang below, as he vaulted over a cobble-stoned alley, and the shadow of his passing disturbed a tomcat below. It leapt - perhaps into defense of it's territory, or perhaps in fear - and disturbed the piles of discarded rubbish... Here a rust-pitted sword, maybe once a blade of heroes. There a box of children's toys. The unloved remains of lives, a thousand threads and a thousand stories, heaped in an alley to prove home to a stray cat and his harem.

The next rooftop. Running flat out, deep controlled breaths and surges of muscles. Adrenaline was with him, giving the world a frantic quality as his eyes darted from place to place. Moonlight on a puddle from the afternoon rains. His running steps sending vibrations through the roof, concentric circles rippling the puddle, catching the platinum light. Barking dog in the distance. Someone shouts and it falls silent.

Air, freedom. A moment of weightlessness with everything forgotten in the rush. Hard landing, thud, and suddenly Laziris' balance was gone, breaking glass. He had time to look down, see the broken bottle beneath his feet, and then he landed, rolled - the world all topsy-turvy spinning. He somersaulted to his feet, feeling the pain of bruised ribs and jarred internals, tasting coppery-sweet blood.


And then, from behind, a distant and thin sound that carried on the chilly and thin breeze, the baying of the Hounds.

He began to sweat.

They had opened wide the Gates. The Hounds of Hell were on his trail.

The moonlight seemed to mock him.

July 16th, 2004, 05:04 PM
The blade whispered as Ryan slid it back in the sheath. He pulled a plain wineskin from his bag and poured some of the ingredients into the man's mouth. The man coughed a bit and the wine ran down his chin, soaking his vest. Ryan lay the skin a few feet from the unconscious man's hand and turned away from the figure on the ground. Wondering briefly what his father would think of him striking another elite guardsman, Ryan stepped towards the small gate. From the shadows he peered around the grounds of the palace, but nothing stirred. Stealing a look back at the body, he smiled. He never liked Anthony anyway.

For a few minutes he listened to the dark. The city was silent, except the barking of feral dogs from within the dark shadows beyond the palace walls. Then a soft scratch sounded on the door behind him. Ryan peered out into the grounds again, and into the windows of the palace. Nothing. Quickly he pulled out a key and fit it into the lock, wincing as he turned it at the deafening clicks that followed. He took a deep breath and considered, not for the first time that night, to turn around and go back to bed. He pulled open the door a crack and peered through.

A dozen eyes, bright and staring, looked back at him. Ryan opened the door wider, and a small figure slunk through with hair and eyes as black as his cloths. Near invisible in the shadows, Ari peered into the palace grounds. Etienne entered next, walking quickly and silently, his sad eyes focusing on something no one else could see. He smiled at Ryan, then stood next to Ari; eyes fixed on the palace, then bent to whisper something to him. Ari nodded slightly. Ryan peered out the door at the remaining four men. He didn’t know any of them. The first two crept quietly into the grounds, taking their places in the shadows around Ari and Etienne, the others watched the street a moment longer, then entered silently. Ryan pushed the door shut and locked it, wincing again at the resounding click. He turned and examined the group of men. Ari, Etienne and one of the others looked at him silently. The others focused intently into the shadows.

Ryan smiled, rubbing the back of his neck. "You guys ready?" He whispered. Ari nodded seriously, and Etienne smiled slightly, looking over his shoulder. The third man smiled widely. Ryan adjusted his sword and darted a look at the unconscious figure of Anthony. "All right."

July 16th, 2004, 05:33 PM
The candy coated sky drifted a languid path across her subconscious, oblivious to the embers of anguish which smoldered distant. Now and then, a voice drifted up through the spiral blur, for no other reason than to remind her of its continued existence, and she, in turn, ignored it. Content to dance eternal on fields of vermilion, she tossed her hair into the breeze and stroked the mane of her steed with devoted caresses. She had not given him a name, but then, he didn’t need one. He was a horse, and came to the sound of her voice, not to any human nuance of linguistics.

She rode for hours, alongside sapphire seas and through verdant forests, but her destination remained nebulous. Night fell after a time, and she dismounted to a mountain meadow of bluebells and heather. In a ballet of contented grace she sprawled into the prismatic rainbow, sensing the flora lunge to envelop her. The stars smiled as she gazed up at them, attuning themselves to her spirit, and in an instant they coalesced inward to form a pattern so beautiful, so inexpressible, she could not have described it had she wanted. She sighed, closing her eyes, and offered herself to the mountain, but the mountain had other plans.

She fell for hours, as if from the highest mountain, but a brief glance reminded her she was still hovering over her meadow. The flowers were again reaching up to her, but she had already moved onward. She curled to a ball, peacefully rotating in three dimensional space as a celestial human body, and slept.

‘Bren…’ the voice was calling again, but she did not hear it. ‘Bren. Please, Bren.’ Even filtered through the boundless gap of the unconscious mind, the voice was pleading… and crying. ‘Please Bren, wake up. I’m not going to take no for an answer; honey, wake up.’

The girl’s eyes fluttered open as she heard the familiar voice, and she spoke for the first time in weeks. ‘Mom? Is that you?’ She glanced skyward again, and noticed the stars had now combined to forge a super giant, transforming night into day with its blinding luminance. She pushed off the ground with force, rocketing her way up through the sky towards the light, bidding a sorrowful farewell to the only pleasant world her nine years had ever known.

July 16th, 2004, 06:26 PM
You guys are posting so fast, you're making it tough on me. :). I like the way the people are getting fleshed out more in relationship to the scenes they've been put in.


The only sound in the place was the quiet dripping of the water off his long, leather coat onto the wooden floor. Chezron coughed to dislodge a hunk of phlegm and, without taking his eye off Echer, spat at his partner's boots.

"Sounds like you need a drink," Echer said in the most arrogant tone he could muster. He stood with a shot glass in hand. His sword had been drawn and left lying on the bar. Though wearing a long, black coat over his fancy, new clothes, Chezron could make out the distinct bulge of guns.

Eyeing the shot glass for a moment, Chezron licked his lips. His mouth was dry and a drink sounding quite appealing. He took a moment to glance at the bottle on the bar. in the dim light its brown glass denied him to know just how much Echer had to drink already. If he'd been drinking all day, this duel would end quickly. If he'd only had his first, Chezron was in trouble. Being a better gunman, he knew Echer could gain the upper hand when sober.

There was a squeak of a chair on the floor and Chezron looked up from the bottle and into the large mirror behind the bar. A man had jumped up and was rushing from behind. In the same glance he saw the bartender reach under the bar. Chezron knew there was a shotgun down there. He let the cards play out.

The scene unfolded and Chezron locked stares with Echer again. The bartender was a quick shot. He got the gun up, aimed, and shot. The blast inside was much louder than Chezron was expecting. Nearly the full load was pumped into the man who was rushing up. One pellet did not. Chezron gritted his teeth and continued to stare down Echer as the searing pain of the pellet pained his shoulder. His sword only wavered slightly. Two other men jumped up and caught the lead filled-body as it fell.

Echer never lost his cool composure. Chezron also hated to play poker with the man for the same reason. He was an impossible man to read.

"This is between these two men," the bartender shouted. "No one else gets involved or I'll cut you down as well."

Echer had obviously been buying friends in town. Those men sat back down as the smell of gunpowder filled the room and the patrons waited breathlessly for this to end.

July 17th, 2004, 05:11 PM
Crap! I like this little scene, but I'm not sure it accomplishes the objective.

Red sky at night – sailors delight.

In the twilight, Captain Driago Embelaser could smell a storm brewing. The air had stilled some. The sails on the Angelese were still holding wind, but barely. He moved nervously about the deck. The sky was clear. To the east, he could see the first hints of the evening stars. His crew wouldn’t believe him, but there was a storm coming – a big one.

He checked the rails and lines on his ship and paused to peer into the darkened nooks that never saw the light. The rats had gone below deck. Trust the rats.

He headed down to Sty’s quarters and the ship’s makeshift infirmary. Driago had seven injured men on board, all slowly rotting in their bunks on level below. By now their wounds were starting to fester – slowly boiling with the putrid rank of puss. The general’s daughter, Elisabeth, took up the single sick bed in Sty’s infrimary. The lady was pale, and not eating – a gentle creature fatigued by too many days on the sea – but otherwise completely healthy. By Driago’s order, Sty had done what he could for her. Now she lay, asleep. Her fair brow glistened with sweat from the humidity, rather than a fever – he hoped.

“You’ve turned the ship south, Cap’n” Sty said, looking up from his journal. Sty served many roles on the ship. By profession he was a barber-surgeon, by hobby a naturalist, and by necessity an appraiser. By fate he served as Driago’s conscience.

“Yes. We’re returning to Los Underos.”

“I don’t blame you. But the crew will not be happy with that decision. They’ve just done the impossible. They’ve conquered one of the queen’s finest ships. They’re hungry for more.”

“We lost nineteen. Seven more soon enough. That ship was crippled.”

“Aye. But we beat her.”

“Yes. We should be happy for that. We were lucky. I know the men will want to sail the Hoosier Strait and try to claim a galleon. But we have not the numbers.”

“Perhaps,” Sty said. “But you’ve got this ‘un here and that cute little wench and a crew of sixty that ain’t seen a bosom in tree weeks. Probly ain’t seen one the likes of hers in years. It’s enough stress to keep the crew back, Cap’n. It puts pressure on their minds.

“If there’d ha’ been anything on the Persistence worth a fool’s wage, they’d be happy. But what are they takin’ back? A couple o’ fine swords, and some kegs of black powder. That girl’s underthings’d fetch a finer price.

“Deny them their loot and you’re like to see a mutiny.”

Driago snatched up Sty’s razor. He forced it up against the barber-surgeon’s neck to the point where he could feel the blade cutting into the skin that stretched over Sty’s Adam’s apple. “Say that word again, and I cut out your tongue from the bottom.”Trust the rats. Keep a short leash on the dogs.

July 19th, 2004, 11:58 AM
The Swallow Inn stands some way up a hill on a bend in an estuary. On this night Jack stood at it´s corner, leaning against it, feeling the rugged granite of it´s construction jab into his shoulder. Voices occasionally drifted from inside and he could hear words and fragments with every waft of beer and smoke. He shifted uncomfortably in the dark. It would be a big, waxing moon tonight, but it and the stars were covered by cloud. The tide didn´t look half in yet, there would be a few hours to wait. The estuary was low and quiet, nothing but wind, the Swallow and noises of unseen boats shifting with the tide. An owl hooted as it went and the thought of mice running stricken with terror brought a smile to Jacks face. It was a warm, dark, quiet summer night, stinking with blossom and full of promise. Just the sort of night Jack liked. One step at a time he climbed to the front door and went in, the smile still on his face.
All the men in the village were at the Swallow, it was Friday night. Many of them would go home before it got late. The Swallow stood on a road that went nowhere and it never got any passing trade. Jack knew most of the people here and all of them knew him. Someone freed a stool at the bar for him and he rested his bony arse on it gratefully. Jack shouted at the barmaid for beer and she hurried to it, looking cowed, all creamy curves and downcast eyes. Jack surveyed the cluster at the bar, wondering if any of them would be worth talking to, whether some might have interesting or useful stories to tell. But it seemed unlikely, they were all useless bags of blood and fat, seemingly put here just to fill up space. A rich farmer had begun talking to him, Jack ignored him casually and resisted the urge to go and peer out the window. He wouldn´t be able to see anything from here anyway, he´d have to go back to the corner. He made an effort to concentrate on what the fat man was saying, but he couldn´t, his mind and his eyes kept slipping to the man´s belly. What would a fat man´s guts look like? Would there be more of them than usual?
"Right," said Jack, putting his beer down barely tasted and making for the back door "I´m off for a piss."

July 19th, 2004, 03:58 PM
Just because I have too much time on my hands, I decided to critique these ;p

The Swallow Inn stands some way up a hill on a bend in an estuary. On this night Jack stood at it´s corner, leaning against it, feeling...

Watch your tense! "The Swallow Inn stands", "On this night Jack stood", "The estuary was low", "and she hurried to it, looking cowed", "had begun talking to him". For a piece like this, I suggest third person past tense (was, stood, looked). Present tense (as I know from unfortunate experience) is a PITA to pull off. It's also very 'Telly'. This. Then This. This happened. Now this. This. Try to make it flow.

Good characterization. I do get a more solid understanding of your characters nature. You need to pay attention to the actual dynamics of writing as a process.

Red sky at night – sailors delight.

Good stuff. A little (not to be punny), choppy in places tho. Being the self-styled king of the one-word sentence, I should perhaps not throw stones, but a lot of your sentences are short. Intersperse some longer ones to keep literary flow.

You've got a very good sense of vocabulary and prose. You use one of my favorite tricks, alliteration (ie, "Elisabeth, took up the single sick bed in Sty's..." And yes, I count the 's' sound in Elisabeth). Characters come across very strong. You've got talent.

The only sound in the place was the quiet dripping of the water off his long, leather coat onto the wooden floor. Chezron coughed to dislodge a hunk of phlegm and, without taking his eye off Echer, spat at his partner's boots.

Always a pleasure to read your stuff, even little segues like this. It moves excellently, provides appropriate mood, uses all the right words, etc. etc.

My only quibble would be that you provide little description of the locale, which might have been by conscious deliberation. All I really know about it is that it's a bar/tavern with a leaky roof, some people in it, and a bartender behind the bar.

Quite curious to see where this character is going.

The candy coated sky drifted a languid path across her subconscious, oblivious to the embers of anguish which smoldered distant. Now and then, a voice drifted up through....

Wow. This prose reminds me, more than I can say, of the shadow-walking bits in the Amber series. Tremendous use of an obviously impressive vocabulary, you use words that have FEELING attached to them, conjuring images that are definately dreamscape, but at the same time familiar. That is a difficult line to toe, and you've done it well.

I didn't like the last paragraph, however. Her eyes open, and yet part of her still seems in the dream. A transition from the flowerly, imagery-laden language of dreams to a more direct and 'plain' prose for the waking bit would provide an interesting contrast.

Great post!

The blade whispered as Ryan slid it back in the sheath. He pulled a plain wineskin from his bag and poured some of the ingredients.

Good stuff. I was a little confused in that Ryan never stands up ;p. One sentence he's kneeling next to a guy he just knocked out, then next he's "Stepping towards the gate".

Also, the term gate implies something fence-like, which you an usually see through. As you obviously intend it to be a door, I'd suggest a change in nouns.

Good stuff. Need more to provide better feedback.
Phew! That took longer than I thought. Hope ya'll get something useful out of it.

Pax Noctis
Original Fiction, Sci-Fi and Fantasy

July 19th, 2004, 04:56 PM
Pax, the entire thing takes place in a coma. There is not one shred of reality (except for the voice calling through) in the entire thing. When her eyes open at the end, and I thought this was clear, she was still in the dreamstate. She pushed off and went towards the light... and awakening.

July 19th, 2004, 05:02 PM
im sorry, i didnt realize it either.....i really liked it, but i thought it was a dream-kinda thing. An escape from life.

and thank you, Pax, my piece needs editing beyond belife, and i'll fix it before i forget. i think i may use it later....
i suppose next week i'll do some critiques....or, well, the week's still young, so maybe i'll do some in a few days....i thank everyone who takes the time to go through and critique our work. And i dont know how many im speaking for, but it really helps.