Author Topic: Fantasy Story Openning (800~ish words)  (Read 1861 times)

Offline Zwugh1

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Fantasy Story Openning (800~ish words)
« on: January 18, 2009, 04:46:37 PM »
Here's a beginning scene I wrote for a fantasy story.  I'm still a novice when it comes to writing, so please tell me how I can improve!  I'll take any constructive crit I can get.  Thank you in advance! ~Zwugh

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Everyone was there for the beheading.
 
The uncultured crowd of frontiersmen bustled and yelled noisily amongst themselves, restless with blood-lust, as rowdy youths shoved their way up the front lines to get a better look at the criminal.  The woman of the village hung more towards the rear, gossiping incessantly in hushed tones.  Several of them were weeping; one of them, a mother, was wailing.  But everyone else was excited, intensely excited; their anticipation stifled the very air around them.
 
Beheadings had become a rare delicacy nowadays, what with the darned Keshlu acting more cagey than ever.  The savages came infrequently. Only on nights.  And they were sly.  On the nights that they came, the devils would nab all they could from the village wares, then bolt back into their stinking forest holes before any of the village men could lay hands on them.  They were cunningly elusive.  Keshlu hunting trips had to be prepared and organized with extreme care; it took days, even weeks of searching to find a single Keshlu in the forest.  Sometimes, during these trips, the villagers would get lucky and seize a whole group of savages to be prosecuted.  But Keshlu packs were hard to come by, and most village hunting groups came home empty handed.  To catch even a single raider required hours of patience.
 
Today was different. There had been no extensive hunting trip, only a vicious she-Keshlu knifing village boys out in the fields; the wretch had already murdered one boy and was in the process of killing two others when the hunters arrived to subdue her.  She probably would've gotten away with it too, had not Big Buck's son come running home with the news and alerted the village.  He was a hero today, Big Buck's son was; and he was definitely treated like one.  Many villagers showered the amber-haired youth with thanks and praise.  The mayor even gave the boy exclusive access to a spot at the front of the stage on which the beheading would take place. 

The other children sulked, shooting envious glances at the so-proclaimed hero.  It wasn't fair.  All that kid ever did was holler and faint.
 
Meanwhile, the kid himself stood rigidly at the front, looking anxious.  Any other male teenager his age would've been pleased, ecstatic even, to have such a fantastic view of the stage for himself; but this boy would have none of it.  He seemed very grave, his blue eyes stricken with terror, like he was the one being beheaded.  The villagers shook their heads and clicked their tongues in understanding - the kid's best friend had been murdered, after all - and left the poor lad alone to his grief.  They focused their attentions instead on the criminal.
 
The wicked Keshlu was propped up on stage for all to spit at.  Her wrists and ankles were bound tightly in coarse rope and trickling blood.  Her clothing was ripped and soiled.  Her rounded face and soft features betrayed her young age - she was in her early teens perhaps - but the profound sadness in her eyes bellied her years.  She had the golden irises and bright red hair typical of all Keshlu.  It was hard to imagine her as a murderer.  Then again, the Keshlu were capable of anything.
 
As the time drew near, the appointed executioner mounted the stage and moved the Keshlu into position.  The girl did not struggle when the executioner lowered her neck to the chopping block.  She merely glanced out into the unsympathetic crowd, shedding invisible tears.  For a split second, her empty stare locked with Big Buck's son's, her eyes widened in fear and misery but also with a quiet acceptance.  Her eyes were almost innocent.  Shaken by her gaze, the amber-haired lad quickly diverted his own, tightening his fists.  His face flashed deep red, then pale; he looked sick.  He felt sick.  A horrid mixture of bile and saliva filled his throat. His friend had died because of this Keshlu. At the thought, the boy turned his back on the girl, seething in anger and despair, and did not look at her again.
 
A chilling silence descended on the crowd as the executioner finally hefted the axe at his feet and lowered it slowly down upon the girl, the weapon's blade aligned just above her neck.  The hooded man properly gripped the axe, then raised it.  The crowd got even quieter.  Everyone held his or her breath in anticipation.  At last, with one fluent motion, the executioner hoisted the weapon over his head and chopped down.
 
The sickening snap of bone resonated through the air, complimented by a dramatic spurt of blood.  It was finished.  A second more of silence, then the crowd jumped and cheered, and all the boys rushed up to spit on the headless corpse.  All but one. 
 
The blue-eyed boy, Big Buck's son, was gone.

Offline Josef Litobarski

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Re: Fantasy Story Openning (800~ish words)
« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2009, 05:08:43 PM »
Nice! The idea of a town on the frontier of an empire, waging a campaign against the "savages" reminds me of Coetzee's Waiting for the Barbarians.

I did find the very beginning a bit slow. I might suggest even cutting the first paragraph.

Quote
The savages came infrequently. Only on nights
Should probably read: "Only at night."

The more I read, the more I was hooked. The build-up to the beheading was very nicely done. In fact, the only other thing I found a bit off-putting was the fact that the boy's father was called "Big Buck." It's a fairly modern name (later 19th/early 20th Century, AFAIK) and seems a bit at odds with the older feel of the setting.

Offline ma100

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Re: Fantasy Story Openning (800~ish words)
« Reply #2 on: January 18, 2009, 05:35:28 PM »
Hi Zwugh
You have the makings of a very good story here.

What I have found it is you telling in places rather than showing. Being as it is so dramatic it would be good to see a lot more actions rather than being told. I have tried to show you some of the words that are unecessary, but I would be tempted to have the frontiers men elbowing people out of the way and Crowds baying or throwing things instead of just being excited. Surroundings, the girl knifing the boys. etc
 
The uncultured crowd of frontiersmen bustled and yelled noisily amongst themselves, restless with blood-lust, as rowdy youths shoved their way upto the front lines to get a better look at the criminal.  The women of the village hung more towards the rear, gossiping incessantly in hushed tones.  Several of them were weepingweeped and one wailed like a...; one of them, a mother, was wailing.  But everyone else was excited, intensely excited; their anticipation stifled the very air around them.

These are only suggestions so feel free to ignore them.

I am not keen on the name, it sounds kinda out of place to me.

A good story well worth ironing out the kinks. There is a few other things and if I get time I will pop back.

Ma :)

Wolfe

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Re: Fantasy Story Openning (800~ish words)
« Reply #3 on: January 18, 2009, 07:48:51 PM »
Ma pretty much nailed it.  I did love the opening line. That's quite an intriguing hook.

Remember to watch the adjectives that tell instead of show as well. 

For example:  The uncultured crowd of frontiersmen bustled and yelled noisily amongst themselves, restless with blood-lust, as rowdy youths shoved their way up the front lines to get a better look at the criminal.

Watch this.

The frontiersmen shoved their way up the front to get a better look at the criminal.

Now, let's make stronger noun and verb choices.

The frontiersmen elbowed their way toward the front to gloat at the criminal.

Notice how the shorter and crisper sentence slams harder than the longer, adverb and adjective heavy one?  You can add elements to show just how uncultured they are, but as Ma warns - don't tell.

Overall, it has promise.

Wolfe
« Last Edit: January 18, 2009, 07:51:07 PM by Wolfe »

Offline PretzelGirl

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Re: Fantasy Story Openning (800~ish words)
« Reply #4 on: January 18, 2009, 09:38:40 PM »
What they said...  :P

You have a few unnecessary words and phrases, but even more still I would like so SEE the hunting trips, the capture of the Keshlu, or even as far back as the Keshlu attacking people. Make some of that into a scene, and while you're at it, a better description of the Keshlu... does she look like a person? What makes her look different, besides her irises? Don't bog us down yet into WHAT she is and how she got to be like that, but give us a few visual clues.

O and... smells, sounds, surroundings - a bit more of those.

That being said, excellent concept, I'd love to read more.
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Offline RoughDraft

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Re: Fantasy Story Openning (800~ish words)
« Reply #5 on: January 20, 2009, 10:19:40 PM »
Quote
A chilling silence descended on the crowd as the executioner finally hefted the axe at his feet and lowered it slowly down upon the girl, the weapon's blade aligned just above her neck.  The hooded man properly gripped the axe, then raised it.  The crowd got even quieter. Everyone held his or her breath in anticipation.

I think this part of the piece could be tidied up a bit, primarily around the "Everyone held his or her breath in anticipation". I think the 'his or her' is probably redundant in that sentence, given you have already said 'everyone' ?

The use of "The crowd got even quieter", feels a little odd too as you had opened the paragraph with "A chilling silence descended", so the latter description of crowd silence could be removed or you could move the 'chilling silence' line to where this currently is and give a bit more of an introduction to the features and physical presence of the executioner?

Oh, I agree that 'Big Buck' did take me out of the era/period I thought you were putting me in too.

I liked the piece as a whole though and would be keen to read more.