Opening to my book (rough draft)

Opening to my book (rough draft)

A Story by Erudite
"

I plan on reworking this a lot, this is just an introduction to the Middle Earth

"
The World Below
Pragmana's Ultimatum


While the sun sank behind a crisp orange evening, and naked trees and turbulent storm clouds signaled Autumn's farewell, Matthew Braithwaite lay profusely bleeding in the Field of Sorrowful Dreams. He'd found a stump of a fallen tree against which to lean, while cold heavy rain droplets pattered his face and stung the jagged gash in his chest, which was generously pumping out red ink. The once commended scientist and his companions had been ambushed by a raging obelisk while trekking through the grasslands. The companions had no foresight of the attack. No rustling was heard before the rock tornado roared into view, and neither had any unusual vibrations signaled the presence of danger. They had only glanced up and found a downfall of sharp beetles crashing into them.
For those who've never heard of an obelisk, they're towering hiveminds, which resemble thousands of stones swept up in a twirling wind. However, the stones making up such swarms are in fact black rune beetles. While it's common knowledge that black rune beetles feast on residual magic, leftovers from spells or the hovering life forces of decaying corpses, for example, not many Vah-Rothi are apprised of the reaction the beetles have after overindulging. If the beetles consume too much magical energy, or some amount of energy too potent in nature, then they'll be sent into a sort of charged frenzy and huddle together, vibrating with static, as they collectively form an obelisk. This is why it's always been my rule of thumb to steer clear of places brimming with magic. After being blindsided by the obelisk, three members of the group were still in battling condition, as they had enough instinct to dive out from under it. In order of body-fat percentage, their names were as follows: Terink, the ever corpulent sage. Jent, the blacksmith turned warrior. And Zendalko, a prestiged battlemage instructor at Druk'al Valley Arcane College whom, as you'll soon see, many unmannered folk call Zen. The rest of the team, Matthew, Jebediah, and Acaiolli, a somewhat useless trio, were scattered about the ground after foolheartedly remaining in the path of the careening hivemind. Rest assured that you've read my words correctly. Those three saw the death-vortex hurdling towards them like a freight train, and just stood there trembling. F*****g idiots.
Lightening cracked out from the gargantuan whirlwind stampeding through the fields, and trees and grasses were ripped skywards as it passed. The rune beetles tumbled in unison to and fro, all turning together like a school of fish and following what looked like a glimmering ruby at the head of the thing. Against the backdrop of a tumultuous sky and a warmly lit rainstorm, it was a sight of some awe. A sight Matthew was hesitant to spend time beholding, for dying amidst such beautiful terror seemed almost an honor.
After the obelisk slammed through their group, Zendalko took a step back and rolled a spiff, a sort of cigar with the innards of dried swamp grass and fairy dust, and put it between his lips, letting it hang. He shot a smirk toward Terink, and chuckled to himself. Then the svelte mage snapped his fingers, lighting the end of his spiff, and took a short draw of smoke. Zendalko always had an air of knowing more than he let on. He'd been alive for 67 and three-quarter years, but had the appearance of an athletic twenty-something. He considered his teaching career at Druk'al Valley College to be of nearly no importance, and he refused to accept any pay from his students. To him the position was merely symbolic. He knew upon accepting the title of ArchWizard of Combat Magickery that he would also be granted some amount of exemption from the land's laws. This was the real draw of the job. If he were to murder a criminal by accident, he could just tell the town's guards it was under the orders of the Pragmate. If he was caught naked at night wandering the streets high on fairy dust, yelling up to the balconies "Who wants to get f****n stoned out their minds?! Does anyone smell that? Is that s**t? Who just shat on the backuh my legs?" Then it was known to all to be a matter of serious magical import. 
If there was anyone alive who carried with them the history of Zendalko's upbringing, they had yet to be found. All there was to be known about the mage's past were rumours passed around between his students. Some said he murdered a wizard he once apprenticed under, and he did so only out of his desire to punish weakness. Others have said he rescued a village in Kiergaard from a brood of rampaging dragons. A local woman had snatched an egg from their nest in hopes of selling it, apparently. But that was all heresay, and the only thing to be sure of with Zendalko was that he concealed much of his past and magical strength.
"Huh. Didn't see that coming." said Zendalko nonchalantly, smoke wafting from his mouth along with his words.
"Matthew seems to have gotten the worst of the attack." added Terink.
"Yeah. You should probably, y'know, go check on him." Zendalko suggested. 
With that, Terink ran off to Mark's aid.
"What should I do, Zen?" Asked Jent, eager to prove himself to the Archmage.
"I don't know Jent, why don't you try hitting the swarm of rune beetles with your sword?" replied Zendalko.
"Hey man, I was just asking if I coul-" Jent scowled.
"Just stay out of the f*****g way." Zendalko interrupted.
Jent muttered to himself with a glare. "Pfft. A*****e."

© 2019 Erudite


Author's Note

Erudite
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Featured Review

Well, you did ask, so you have only yourself to blame. But since there are a few critical points you're missing, I thought you'd want to know.

• While the sun sank behind a crisp orange evening, and naked trees and turbulent storm clouds signaled Autumn's farewell, Matthew Braithwaite lay profusely bleeding in the Field of Sorrowful Dreams.

What matters in this line? The bleeding man. But you place it last in line—a spot reserved for afterthoughts. That’s a guaranteed rejection. But of more importance, the injured man is raw meat for the reader, so to speak. Dropping that into a bed of whipped cream in the form of an “orange evening” (whatever that is), coupled with the generic “profusely bleeding” in place of something specific, tell the reader that you’re trying to dress up the story with “literary” language instead of making the story real to them.

Look at this as a reader will. Remember, they don’t have the mental image you hold of the field. And, they have no access to your intent for how they're supposed to take the words and the action. They have only what your words, and their placement, suggest to THEM, based on THEIR background. So… Does “profusely bleeding” mean he’ll die in moments, minutes, or…? No way to tell. What’s been damaged? Where is the wound? You don’t hint. And missing information isn’t a mystery or a hook that will make the reader want to read on, it’s a reason to stop reading. No matter how brilliantly you may clarify, you cannot retroactively remove confusion. And if that confusion resulted in them closing the cover…

• Rain pattered his face and stung the jagged gash in his chest, which was generously pumping out red ink.

You’re viewing this as a reporter, so the result is a dispassionate description of what you, an outside observer, notice. But what about our protagonist? The man has a gash in his chest that’s spewing blood. Does he care if it’s raining? Hell no. If you had that kind of wound would you notice the additional “sting” of rain? Of course not. You’d be curled around the source of the pain, which would be agonizing. You’d be focused on survival, not the weather-report. And at the moment it’s HIS story. So let the poor b*****d live it as the reader’s avatar, in real-time instead of talking about him in words sprinkled with glitter.

And, equating blood to red ink? Seriously? The official name for such a comparison is purple prose, and it is to be avoided at all cost.

The problem you face is simple: You’re transcribing yourself telling the story to an audience. But unlike a live performance, the reader can neither see nor hear you. So: That emotion you hear in the voice in your head as you read? Not a trace of it reaches the page. The expressive gestures you use, along with expression changes and body-language? The reader gets none of it. Instead, they get a description of what you visualize happening on your mental view-screen where the film version plays as you read.

And because you can see and hear the story being told this works for you. But for the reader? You open by placing effect, the wound, before what caused it. How can that seem real to the reader? You open the scene AFTER the exciting events that led to the situation you open with—and that’s a static picture. Who reads for a summation of the exciting parts?

You place the man on the ground, bleeding, and then, leave-him-there, while you, as yourself, provide an info-dump of backstory, setting, and overview information for which the reader has zero context. Story happens, it’s not talked about or reported.

Think about it as a reader. Why would they want to know the result of the battle between people they don’t know and things you don’t take the time to make real through the senses of the people facing them? Stories are about people the reader has been made to care about, told through their viewpoint, from within the moment they call "now."

Boiled down: For anyone but you, the opening says, “Some people you don’t know were attacked by some magical things that look like they’re made of stones but aren’t. Three of their unknown number are still sort of okay, so now, let me tell you who they are and give their “job description” followed by an insult of them and what they’re doing by the author.

But if they are, as you say, “f*****g idiots,” the reader has zero reason to want to know what happens to them. So, as the saying goes, “You just shot yourself in the foot.” Who wants to read more about people the author says are idiots?

And I say that, not as a personal opinion, but as someone who has owned a manuscript critiquing service, and who has talked to lots of editors, agents, and successful authors about what matters to them in a story.

The short version: Based on your bio you obviously feel you have a good grip on the techniques used to write fiction. But what you’ve missed is that in our school days we learn literally nothing but nonfiction writing techniques. And nonfiction is designed to inform, not entertain by providing an emotional, not an informational, reading experience. It's what you used to write all those reports and essays.

All professions are learned IN ADDITION to our school-day skills. ALL of them. And ours is a profession. A good story idea is useless if it’s written with inappropriate writing skills. And talent for writing is no more then the potential to learn your professional skills more easily than most—which means talent is useless unless trained. Someone who can't write fiction is no different from a talented writer who hasn't learned how.

But what about reading fiction? Doesn’t that teach us to write it? Nope. It does the job about as well as eating teaches us to cook and buying paintings teaches us brush technique.

Bottom line: If your goal is to write fiction that will please a writer who has selected nothing but professionally written fiction since they began reading, you have no choice but to acquire the skills the pros feel necessary.

Obviously, you can write in any way you care to, IF you write for your own pleasure. But as the publishing axiom says, “Amateurs write for themselves. Professionals write for others.” And to do that you need more then the book-report and essay skills we’re given in school. As Mark Twain put it: “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”

Your local library system’s fiction-writing section can be a huge help, and time spent there is time wisely invested. My personal suggestion is to look for the names, James Scott Bell, Dwight Swain, Jack Bickham, or Debra Dixon. They’ll give you the nuts-and-bolts issues of creating a scene that sings to the reader.

Posted 1 Year Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Erudite

1 Year Ago

I needed this. Thank you very much. As much as it hurts to see my work critiqued so harshly, I have .. read more
JayG

1 Year Ago

"However, I've also got to stand by my work, as a man might stand by his bride."

No .. read more



Reviews

Well, you did ask, so you have only yourself to blame. But since there are a few critical points you're missing, I thought you'd want to know.

• While the sun sank behind a crisp orange evening, and naked trees and turbulent storm clouds signaled Autumn's farewell, Matthew Braithwaite lay profusely bleeding in the Field of Sorrowful Dreams.

What matters in this line? The bleeding man. But you place it last in line—a spot reserved for afterthoughts. That’s a guaranteed rejection. But of more importance, the injured man is raw meat for the reader, so to speak. Dropping that into a bed of whipped cream in the form of an “orange evening” (whatever that is), coupled with the generic “profusely bleeding” in place of something specific, tell the reader that you’re trying to dress up the story with “literary” language instead of making the story real to them.

Look at this as a reader will. Remember, they don’t have the mental image you hold of the field. And, they have no access to your intent for how they're supposed to take the words and the action. They have only what your words, and their placement, suggest to THEM, based on THEIR background. So… Does “profusely bleeding” mean he’ll die in moments, minutes, or…? No way to tell. What’s been damaged? Where is the wound? You don’t hint. And missing information isn’t a mystery or a hook that will make the reader want to read on, it’s a reason to stop reading. No matter how brilliantly you may clarify, you cannot retroactively remove confusion. And if that confusion resulted in them closing the cover…

• Rain pattered his face and stung the jagged gash in his chest, which was generously pumping out red ink.

You’re viewing this as a reporter, so the result is a dispassionate description of what you, an outside observer, notice. But what about our protagonist? The man has a gash in his chest that’s spewing blood. Does he care if it’s raining? Hell no. If you had that kind of wound would you notice the additional “sting” of rain? Of course not. You’d be curled around the source of the pain, which would be agonizing. You’d be focused on survival, not the weather-report. And at the moment it’s HIS story. So let the poor b*****d live it as the reader’s avatar, in real-time instead of talking about him in words sprinkled with glitter.

And, equating blood to red ink? Seriously? The official name for such a comparison is purple prose, and it is to be avoided at all cost.

The problem you face is simple: You’re transcribing yourself telling the story to an audience. But unlike a live performance, the reader can neither see nor hear you. So: That emotion you hear in the voice in your head as you read? Not a trace of it reaches the page. The expressive gestures you use, along with expression changes and body-language? The reader gets none of it. Instead, they get a description of what you visualize happening on your mental view-screen where the film version plays as you read.

And because you can see and hear the story being told this works for you. But for the reader? You open by placing effect, the wound, before what caused it. How can that seem real to the reader? You open the scene AFTER the exciting events that led to the situation you open with—and that’s a static picture. Who reads for a summation of the exciting parts?

You place the man on the ground, bleeding, and then, leave-him-there, while you, as yourself, provide an info-dump of backstory, setting, and overview information for which the reader has zero context. Story happens, it’s not talked about or reported.

Think about it as a reader. Why would they want to know the result of the battle between people they don’t know and things you don’t take the time to make real through the senses of the people facing them? Stories are about people the reader has been made to care about, told through their viewpoint, from within the moment they call "now."

Boiled down: For anyone but you, the opening says, “Some people you don’t know were attacked by some magical things that look like they’re made of stones but aren’t. Three of their unknown number are still sort of okay, so now, let me tell you who they are and give their “job description” followed by an insult of them and what they’re doing by the author.

But if they are, as you say, “f*****g idiots,” the reader has zero reason to want to know what happens to them. So, as the saying goes, “You just shot yourself in the foot.” Who wants to read more about people the author says are idiots?

And I say that, not as a personal opinion, but as someone who has owned a manuscript critiquing service, and who has talked to lots of editors, agents, and successful authors about what matters to them in a story.

The short version: Based on your bio you obviously feel you have a good grip on the techniques used to write fiction. But what you’ve missed is that in our school days we learn literally nothing but nonfiction writing techniques. And nonfiction is designed to inform, not entertain by providing an emotional, not an informational, reading experience. It's what you used to write all those reports and essays.

All professions are learned IN ADDITION to our school-day skills. ALL of them. And ours is a profession. A good story idea is useless if it’s written with inappropriate writing skills. And talent for writing is no more then the potential to learn your professional skills more easily than most—which means talent is useless unless trained. Someone who can't write fiction is no different from a talented writer who hasn't learned how.

But what about reading fiction? Doesn’t that teach us to write it? Nope. It does the job about as well as eating teaches us to cook and buying paintings teaches us brush technique.

Bottom line: If your goal is to write fiction that will please a writer who has selected nothing but professionally written fiction since they began reading, you have no choice but to acquire the skills the pros feel necessary.

Obviously, you can write in any way you care to, IF you write for your own pleasure. But as the publishing axiom says, “Amateurs write for themselves. Professionals write for others.” And to do that you need more then the book-report and essay skills we’re given in school. As Mark Twain put it: “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”

Your local library system’s fiction-writing section can be a huge help, and time spent there is time wisely invested. My personal suggestion is to look for the names, James Scott Bell, Dwight Swain, Jack Bickham, or Debra Dixon. They’ll give you the nuts-and-bolts issues of creating a scene that sings to the reader.

Posted 1 Year Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Erudite

1 Year Ago

I needed this. Thank you very much. As much as it hurts to see my work critiqued so harshly, I have .. read more
JayG

1 Year Ago

"However, I've also got to stand by my work, as a man might stand by his bride."

No .. read more

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Added on October 12, 2019
Last Updated on December 10, 2019
Tags: Poems, writing, vagueness

Author

Erudite
Erudite

Riverside, CA



About
Greetings, reader. Please do enjoy this music I've prepared for you, and don't be too bashful to take a peek at some of my writings. My poem titled "Ah, To Float in My Boat" is one of my personal .. more..

Writing