Author Topic: Spirit Warrior Chapter 1 Revised (1100 words)  (Read 2558 times)

Offline Zuluboy

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Spirit Warrior Chapter 1 Revised (1100 words)
« on: January 18, 2009, 04:02:23 AM »
The little Zuluboy packed his 20litre backpack, strapped his sleeping bag to the bottom of it, hoisted it onto his shoulders and walked out of his bedroom, down the passage, through the lounge area, into the kitchen and out the backdoor. His short and elderly parents waited for him by the car, with every trace of concern etched across their faces, from ear to ear and chin to forehead…although for his Dad - a short little fat man - the traces of concern extended across his rounded and balding head. The Boy loaded his pack into the trunk of the waiting car, slammed it shut and turned to face Mum and Dad. There were no more words left to share, they had all been spoken in the months preceding this day and each tongue, heart, mind and everything in between was utterly exhausted. All that remained were the parting photographs to be taken that would remain stuck to Mother’s refrigerator for the next 8 years and just like that, the Boy was in the passenger seat of his Father’s car, on his way to Park City Bus Terminal in Johannesburg Central, where he would board a low-cost and shabby-looking bus for a 36-hour trip to Lusaka, Zambia.

He remained in his Dad’s embrace for an extra moment, as he soaked up the warmth, love and belief that can only radiate from a Father. Then in one fluid motion, he bid him farewell, tossed his backpack into the cargo hold and boarded the 80-seater bus, bound for Lusaka, Zambia via Zimbabwe. The Boy was early for departure and found many empty seats as he made his way up the stairs of the mainliner, so he walked to the back of the bus where things were generally quieter for longer and settled down with his pen and his journal. He was about 20 minutes away from departure, at which time he would travel for an unknown number of hours to the South African exit border and then a further unknown number of minutes to the Zimbabwean entry border and then an even further unknown number of hours through Zimbabwe – in 2002, during volatile and violent election times – throughout the night until he reached Zambia, which was the destination he was called to, by an unseen Voice within himself that remained still and silent most of the time. The Boy knew of no one in Zambia; no friends or family, he carried no map, Rough Guide or Lonely Planet; he had no idea where he would sleep when he arrived; he had no idea where he would change his money; he had no idea if traveler’s cheques were accepted; he had no idea if there were cities in Zambia or if it was all rural; he had no idea on the availability of electricity or running water; he had no idea if the country was peaceful or violent; he had no idea… none whatsoever. He had only his 20litre backpack of clothing, a Swiss Army Knife, 7 pens, 576 empty pages and a childlike belief in an unseen Voice within himself that declared Itself as Truth. Waiting for the bus to fill with passengers before departing, the Boy opened up his journal and began to read, in an attempt to remind himself of why he was on a bus, filled with foreign black people speaking in foreign tongues, on his way into an unknown land. He read as an effort to prevent himself from jumping off and running home.

“True beauty is terror. When we find ourselves in front of something truly beautiful, then we are filled with terror, but if we are strong enough in our souls, we can rip away the veil and stare at the naked, terrible beauty in the face; let God consume us, devour us, unstring our bones and then spit us out…reborn.”

These words, printed on the inside of the front cover of his journal, were a reflection of an inscription found on the Sword of his Heart and would remain there for many years as he waded through the battlefield of Life. These were the words that delivered courage to him in times of fear, brevity in times of uncertainty and foolhardiness in times of extreme trial and temptation. Several weeks before his departure, the Boy had sat in his room at his Mother’s home and penned more words, thoughts and prayers down. What follows are exact copies of these words from his journal, so please excuse any language that might seem unbecoming and incorrect, but in the interest of Truth, no alterations have been made to his journals. Please read his words in the context of his journey and if you endure the adventure with him, I believe you will find justification for who he is.

thanks for reading  :)
The book is a spiritual adventure story. it is the story of a boy who drops out of a conventional life of studying and working, to answer the call of Spirit on a journey and adventure into rural Africa that lasts 5 years.

i've started you off with the first 800 words and am hoping that these are enough to inspire you to download the attached file, which is 2700 words and is the complete chapter  :)

i'm an African writer trying to reach an international audience, so i'm looking for feedback in these areas:

1. does the story engage you and draw you in to eagerly explore what happens next?
2. does the writing depict a style that relates to an oral storytelling, without sounding juvenile, high schoolish and amateur?
3. are you attracted to the main character? do you want to know more about him?
If you are not African, does the story grab you? can you relate to it?
4. does this chapter give you some idea of setting? can you picture the story in your head?
 i'd appreciate any responses you have to these questions and anything else you might have to offer me.
please note that the complete attached work contains adult language and should not be viewed by anyone under 18, without adult supervision
« Last Edit: January 21, 2009, 11:02:54 AM by Zuluboy »

Offline ma100

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Re: African Spiritual Adventure
« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2009, 04:10:11 AM »
Hi Zuluboy. Just a quick bit of advice. If you post the first 800 words or so you are more likely to get feedback and will give the reader the choice to download the rest. For obvious reasons some are loathe to download. Just modify your original message.

Ma :)

Offline ma100

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Re: Spirit Warrior
« Reply #2 on: January 18, 2009, 12:21:29 PM »
Hi Zuluboy.

I have read through and you do have some good parts in here, but at the moment it hasn't engaged me. I think there is just a bit too much information that is not necessary and repetitive. What you have got that you feel is necessary you could possibly have him thinking about on the bus. I actually still don't know why the boy has left his parents. Maybe I missed that. When it got to the part at passport control my interest was aroused, but you went through that very quickly. I would have liked to see more action here.

I would also have liked to see the interaction between him and the Ugandan man.

His Journal didn't really give me the reasons he was leaving for a life he knew nothing about.

I do think you have a good story to tell but you need to give the reader a more action and character based story so they can be drawn in and get to like him and root for him. I think if you give the boy a name also would help.

I hope this doesn't sound harsh and is just my own opinion. Others may think completely different.

Well done for posting as we are all learning here.
Ma :)

Offline eric

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Re: Spirit Warrior
« Reply #3 on: January 18, 2009, 12:53:28 PM »
Good job for starting out on this adventure, Zulu.  I do not know if it is a third-person journal of your real adventure or a story about a fictional adventure, I think the latter, but in either case the writing itself is an adventure that will  keep you busy.   You will want to determine in either case whether the writing style should be as a journal or fictional in character, and if the latter a million things or thereabouts come into play.  Focus on the details of each moment, as ma implied, and develop a meaningful story for the skeleton on which to hang the meat of your tale.  The most important part of your book, I think, will be the characterization.  Have you read Chinua Achebe?  Read a great deal of contemporary fiction, and write write write.  I notice that your protagonist starts out from Johannesburg Central ... are you South African then?
« Last Edit: January 18, 2009, 01:10:14 PM by eric »

Offline Zwugh1

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Re: Spirit Warrior
« Reply #4 on: January 18, 2009, 05:13:38 PM »
Zuluboy,
I found this story to be very interesting! The way you capitalized certain words to give it emphasis made the tale seem a little parable-like - but that's just me.  I also thought you did a great job making the story flow, and although at times the sentences tended to get long, I could follow where you were going.  The only thing that slightly bugged me was how you switched to first-person at the end and spoke directly to the reader.  For example, "Please read his words in the context of his journey," didn't seem to fit with the rest of the story, which is largely told in third-person.  This is just the opinion of an amateur writer, however, so please feel free to disregard everything I said.  Cheers. ~Zwugh

Offline Zuluboy

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Re: Spirit Warrior
« Reply #5 on: January 19, 2009, 02:09:39 AM »
guys, thanks for some encouraging and inspiring crits. everything you've said has really awoken some numb spots in me.  :)

Ma, please help me understand what you found to be repetitive and unnecessary, so i can view the writing from your perspective. I'm really glad to hear that you're frustrated about not knowing who he is and why he's undertaken this journey, because chapter 2 is dedicated to that and starts with:

Many years before this adventure, Zulu was a good, studious child, demonstrating a lot of promise and potential. He completed high school with a respectable aggregate far above average, and was a well-rounded and wholesome young man with a bright future ahead of him. Of course, he grew up in boarding schools from the age of 6 and was completely oblivious to any other world outside of those environments and the ones presented to him in his textbooks, but all that did not matter since the Boy had been successfully raised as an effective spoke in his country’s economy-wheel. At the age of 18, he was more than adequately prepared to study further at a university; in fact with his results he was in a position to choose the university of his choice, yet although he was that well prepared he did not feel it in his heart. He was restless and uncertain as he was faced with the prospect of his next step in life and his incredibly low self-esteem was not helping him at all. In fact the Boy’s self-esteem – or lack thereof – is the catalyst that led him off into the deep unknown which found him seated on his backpack on the side of Cairo Rd, Lusaka Zambia that day. So it is worth taking a trip back in time to understand the little Boy and where he came from....

what I am trying to do in chapter 1 is arouse the readers interest through the boldness of his journey and then chapter 2 takes you back to the beginning of the story and describes who he is and where he is from and how he found himself on that journey. Ma, i don't know how that sits with you? Also, thanks for sharing your need for more interaction.

Eric. yes i am South African and the story is a third person account of my own adventure and I use inserts of my own journals from time to time, to try and introduce more of a feel of authenticity. I've included a bit more at the end of this to maybe give a clearer picture. I'm trying to follow along a path forged out by James Redfield's Celestine Prophecy and Paulo Coelho's Alchemist. It's a real life story that I hope to tell in a way that is easy to read, but which tugs on spiritual strings in the reader's heart. I've only read one Chinua Achebe book. do you have one to recommend?

Zwugh, thanks for your positive feedback. The parable-like tale is exactly what I am going for, so that's very encouraging. The reason I made that switch at the end from 3rd person to first person was because I was about to introduce a whole chunk of his actual journals. you can download the attachment for a better idea or I will include a bit of it here and you can let me know if it makes sense.

Please read his words in the context of his journey and if you endure the adventure with him, I believe you will find justification for who he is.

26/02/02
Hey dude, so here I am…again and I want you to take me higher and teach me the self-control and endurance I require to never fall to the bottom again. I understand that failure is essential for growth and learning, but from here on, wallowing in it and allowing myself to sink to that terrible depth is intolerable. I visited Claire this past weekend and was reminded of the peaceful love that I so passionately desire. The power within, this is my furthest point – my lighthouse – and though I know it to be my destiny, I am tired of doubt. Reaching it is my only goal in this adventure that follows, so that when I return – and I don’t care how long it takes or what I must endure – I have the power, love and absolute, unwavering belief that is required to shape and mould this world into a land of love and peace, where the fear that grips us and prevents us from growing is completely eradicated and the Love, which is the Truth, is experienced and realized by every conscious being, in every breath, both waking and sleeping.
Dear God, my Awesome Father and Divine Mother, I ask you to take me there. I know that you exist, I know it; I’ve felt it. I know that my dreams need not remain dreams; I know that…I know so much, beyond my years, yet this knowledge, which I thought was all I needed, is not enough. I ache to feel; to feel love, in all ways at every moment and I wish to pass that on.
[/i]

About 3 weeks later, after he had bid farewell to his Father and after he had re-read his journal, while he was seated on the bus and still waiting to depart, the Boy was struck across the head with a paddle of reality.

What the fuck! I can’t believe I’m doing this! I can’t believe you got me to do this! I feel full of trepidation and doubt. Completely consumed by it. I’m not really scared, but I am completely fuckin’ consumed by trepidation and doubt! Where am I going to sleep tonight! I don’t know anyone! You’re so conveniently in-luck that you’re unseen and invisible coz I would whip your ass right now!
[/i]

The rant of the Boy ended there, as a tall and dark Ugandan man approached and seated himself next to the Boy, almost perfectly coinciding with the revving of the bus engine. In that instant, it began; the wheels of the bus went round and round and the Boy was on his way into a deep and dark unknown.





Offline Jade

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Re: Spirit Warrior
« Reply #6 on: January 19, 2009, 01:36:23 PM »
Zuluboy

For what it's worth, I do not know about prose rules, and my grammar sucks, but I do know about reading... I have read thousands of books, and I do not particularly care for the average fantasy and romance novels. I like biographies, especially the ones that can be read as novels... because I prefer a story to have some semblance to history and not merely imagination.

I am a South African, so this story lies pretty close to home, however, I have to admit that I am not the same ethnicity. I love culture, religion, history - of any kind (even though I try not to belong to any culture or religion - I believe one should create your own, and not swallow what is forced down your throat)... since that is what combines the human race, as well as pull them apart. Why am I telling you this? So you should know where my opinion comes from, before you (dis)regard it.

I was drawn to this piece... even though I could not entirely relate to it, I could definitely understand where the boy's intentions were coming from.

I, for one, would like to read more.
Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.
Cyril Connolly

"A coward is incapable of exhibiting love; it is the prerogative of the brave." ~Mohandas Gandhi

Wolfe

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Re: Spirit Warrior
« Reply #7 on: January 19, 2009, 06:37:16 PM »
Typically, when I read some of the prose posted here, I will read the first sentence to first paragraph.  This is habit from my editor's days.  If the hook doesn't grab me, I rejected it back to the agent.

I'll keep this to the point because I don't know how thick your skin is, and I don't want to be known as The Destroyer of Dreams.  ;)


The little Zuluboy packed his 20litre backpack, strapped his sleeping bag to the bottom of it, hoisted it onto his shoulders and walked out of his bedroom, down the passage, through the lounge area, into the kitchen and out the backdoor.


This is no way to open a story.  It reads like stage directions.  It opens with unknown words (Is Zuluboy his name or is that a space typo: Zulu boy), and numbers not written out.  Finally, it doesn't open with any excitement or tension or questions to tease the reader into going further.

I'll be blunt.  I scanned the rest for excitement or something that caught my attention.  Unfortunately, I didn't find it.

I want you to engage me from the start.  Get used to hearing this if you want to break into publishing.  Your protagonist must stand out from the start.  You don't get until Chapter Two to display this.  You get the first line and paragraph.

I suggest you open your story with the problem or conflict.

Let's see that instead.

Wolfe

« Last Edit: January 20, 2009, 09:43:07 AM by Wolfe »

Wolfe

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Re: Spirit Warrior
« Reply #8 on: January 19, 2009, 06:48:25 PM »
His short and elderly parents waited for him by the car, with every trace of concern etched across their faces, from ear to ear and chin to forehead…although for his Dad - a short little fat man - the traces of concern extended across his rounded and balding head.

This has potential as an opening because a potential question is posed.  It needs clean-up.  Allow me to show you what I mean.

His short and elderly (telling adjective and adverb) parents waited for him by the car (passive), with every trace of (wordy), (added comma here) concern etched across their faces, from ear to ear and chin to forehead…although for his Dad - a short little fat man - (wordy) the traces of concern extended across his rounded and balding head. (repetition as Ma100 hints:  trace of concern)

So, we have:  His parents waited for him, concern etched across their faces.

This opening sentence poses these questions to the reader:

1. Who's he?
2. Why are they concerned?
3. What's happening?
4. Is he in trouble?

Therefore, in order to find out, the reader must continue.

See the difference?  You want that concern for the protagonist to linger until the book's end.  When the reader sympathizes with the character, they'll keep reading.  Combine this with curiosity, and they'll buy your book.

Again it has potential, but you need to polish it.

Hope this makes things clearer.

Wolfe
« Last Edit: January 19, 2009, 06:52:11 PM by Wolfe »

Offline eric

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Re: Spirit Warrior
« Reply #9 on: January 19, 2009, 09:13:06 PM »
Hah, well this is good.  I wasn't sure where to go with your piece--whether toward journal writing or toward  fiction--but I see now that Wolfe has taken an interest, so, yes, why not use the traditional approach and make a novel out of it.  This is a step beyond what you have started out to do, but your approach is neither here nor there, really, and lacks definition.  Turning it into a novel will provide that definition, and it is the next logical step for you anyway.  Plus the writing education may be very valuable to you.  Please note, Zulu, that Wolfe is your friend.  Do what he says very carefully and your writing will improve immensely.  The first thing that he suggests, without saying it, is:  dispense with your first chapter.  I know that sounds harsh, but it's not.  Most young writers overwrite at the beginning, and their carefully crafted paragraphs become little more than straw getting in the way of the real story.  Editors, agents and professionals want you to hook them with the story immediately ... just as Wolfe suggests.  Dive into the scene from Chapter two and take it from there ... in the meantime hold onto your introductory pages, because you will be able to work in that color later. 

Perhaps most importantly from my point of view, dream.  Work out the story that your young hero is embarking on ... sure, there is the real life story, but what is the story you actually want to tell? ... because any good novel is written backwards.  That is, you must have a good idea of your ending before you start at the beginning.  An outline of the journey will be indispensable to you.  Do not feel the need to stick with the facts, depart from them as you may find needful.  Do keep to the story, though even that will evolve and develop.  And put in every fact, down to and including the dishes in every tribal feast the young man encounters, and the bugs, and the grime on the bus station walls (or etc.).

I have no comments on your actual style yet ... I see a lot of things that can be fixed, it will take me longer to focus.  As far as Achebe, I have only seen a couple of his books so far although I plan to study him more at length later.  Naturally you'll want to read Things Fall Apart, perhaps you have already.  Your book is much less political, but you will want to see how he handles the African continental influence.
« Last Edit: January 19, 2009, 09:33:14 PM by eric »

Offline Zuluboy

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Re: Spirit Warrior Chapter 1 Revised - 1100 words
« Reply #10 on: January 21, 2009, 10:36:33 AM »
ok. i hope this intro is enough to hook Wolfe. I really want the reader to know that they have stepped into a mystical and spiritual journey as soon as they read the opening. I want the opening to encourage them to expect the unexpected and to strap in for an adventure. I also hope that this tidies up my style, without losing the free-flowing parable-like feel I'm going for and I hope there is enough action and interaction for Ma this time round, without losing pace. and lastly, i hope that the character has been more defined. I go into a much deeper character revelation in chapter 2, but i hope that i do enough in chapter 1 to carry the reader there.

“Go where I call you and tell the world of your Discovery.”
“But how? When am I going? Where am I going to? What are you talking about Cassandra? That’s not a reasonable thing to say!” blurted the visibly shaken Boy.
“Go where I call you and write your story for the world to read.” replied the Prophet.
“How will I know it is you?”
“You will know.”
“But how will I know? Every other voice is so noisy, powerful and deceptive.”
“Listen for me in the silence of your heart. You have heard me once and you have obeyed, so I am in you and will never leave. Call out to me and I will answer. Be still and you will hear me.”


His parents waited for him, deep traces of concern etched across their faces. He loaded his backpack into the trunk of the waiting car, slammed it shut and turned to face both Mother and Father. There were no more words left to share. They had all been spoken in the months preceding this day and each tongue, heart and mind were utterly exhausted. All that remained were the parting photographs to be taken that would remain stuck to Mother’s refrigerator for the next five years and just like that, the Boy known as Zulu was in the passenger seat of his Father’s car, on his way to the Bus Terminal in Johannesburg City Central, where he would board a low-cost and shabby-looking bus for a trip to Lusaka, Zambia. A trip ordinarily done in twenty four hours would be done in thirty six on that day and would mark the first day of the Boy’s Long Walk.

He remained in his Father’s embrace for an extra moment. Then in one fluid motion, he bid him farewell, tossed his backpack into the cargo hold and boarded the eighty-seater bus, headed for Zambia, via Zimbabwe. The Boy was early for departure and found many empty seats as he made his way up the stairs of the mainliner, so he walked to the back of the bus where things were generally quieter for longer and settled down with his pen and his journal. He was about twenty minutes away from departure, at which time he would travel, for an unknown time, northward along an unknown Path, to the South African exit border, across the Limpopo River to the Zimbabwean entry border where he would then proceed through Zimbabwe – during volatile and violent election times – throughout the night until he reached Zambia, which was the destination he was called to, by an unseen Voice within himself that remained still and silent most of the time. Cassandra. The Prophet with invaluable Truth, freely given but seldom believed.
The Boy knew of no one in Zambia; no friends or family. He carried no map, Rough Guide or Lonely Planet; he had no idea where he would sleep when he arrived; no idea where he would change his money; no idea if traveler’s cheques were acceptable; no idea if there were cities in Zambia or if it was all rural African mud-huts; no idea on the availability of electricity or running water; no idea if the country was peaceful or violent; he had no idea… none whatsoever. He had only his trusted backpack of clothing, a Swiss Army Knife, 7 pens, 576 empty pages and a childlike belief in an unseen Voice within himself that declared Itself as Truth. Waiting for the bus to fill with passengers before departing, Zulu opened his journal and began to read.

“True beauty is terror. When we find ourselves in front of something truly beautiful, then we are filled with terror, but if we are strong enough in our souls, we can rip away the veil and stare at the naked, terrible beauty in the face; let God consume us, devour us, unstring our bones and then spit us out…reborn.”

These words, printed on the inner front cover of his journal, were a reflection of an inscription found on the Sword of his Heart and would remain there for many years as he waded through the battlefield of Life. These were the words that delivered courage to him in times of fear, brevity in times of uncertainty and foolhardiness in times of extreme trial and temptation. These were the words that prevented him from succumbing to the terrifying fear that gripped him and urged him to jump off the bus, return home and complete his studies at University to live an ordinary, conventional and ‘safe’ life. The Boy held his ground, remained seated and continued to read the words he had penned in his journal just days before.

I want to go higher. I want the self-control and endurance I require to never fall to the bottom again. I understand that failure is essential for growth and learning, but from here on, wallowing in it and allowing myself to repeatedly sink to that terrible depth is intolerable. This past weekend I was again reminded of the peaceful love that I so passionately desire. The Power within. This is my furthest point – myLlighthouse – and though I know it to be my destiny, I am tired of doubt. Reaching it is my only goal in this adventure that follows, so that when I return – and I don’t care how long it takes or what I must endure – I have the power, love and absolute, unwavering belief that is required to shape and mould my  world into a land of love and peace, where the fear that grips me and prevents me from growing is completely eradicated, and the Love, which is the Truth, is experienced and realized in every breath I take, both waking and sleeping.
Dear God, my Awesome Father and Divine Mother, I ask you to take me there. I know that you exist, I know it; I’ve felt it. I know that my dreams need not remain dreams; I know that…I know so much, beyond my years, yet this knowledge, which I thought was all I needed, is not enough. I ache to feel; to feel Love, in all ways at every moment and I wish to pass that on.


He was deep in thought and did not notice the tall and dark Ugandan man approach and seat himself beside him. And he barely had a chance to notice or offer the man a greeting, for the stranger’s arrival almost perfectly coincided with the revving of the bus engine. In that instant, it began. The wheels of the bus began rolling and the Boy was on his way into a deep and dark unknown.

Offline eric

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Re: Spirit Warrior Chapter 1 Revised (1100 words)
« Reply #11 on: January 22, 2009, 08:11:44 PM »
I'm waiting for Wolfe to comment on this one.