The battle for Dairy Ford

The battle for Dairy Ford

A Story by miahstr

I am reworking some of my writing this is part of a book. Pieces of which I have already posted. There is a limited amount here but I think that this is a good example of what my writing style is like


Early morning embraced Jossen as he made his way up the side of the grass-covered hill. It was unusually warm for springtime and he could feel the sweat pooling between him and the leather doublet that he wore. He had imported the leather from across the Blooded Sea, it was said to be among the strongest of leathers, having been harvested from exotic giant warrior birds that roamed the plains of Alan, it was resistant to all forms of swordplay. It had taken some effort but the worker women at his estate had managed to work the leather into a doublet, even stitching Jossens house sigil, a wheel of cheese onto the chest. It was a magnificent piece of clothing with one drawback, it was damned hot to wear.

As Jossen walked, the ground beneath him started to slope upwards, his steps shorter and shorter until he reached the top of the hill. It was from here he could see the plumes of smoke from the direction of Horsted castle. Horsted Castle sat atop a hill in the middle of the valley, surrounding the castle were three mountain ranges that opened up into a sprawling patchwork of trees that congregated around the Moore; a large river, whose branches forked across the western end of Kalstad. The Moore was the natural border between Horsted and the lands of the Wainwrights and it had been the Wainwrights who had given his family the land he now protected. Jossen could still remember his father’s telling of the first Lord Fyshe. Whiskers hovering over his freshly lit pipe, his father would sit back in his chair and take a long puff on his Tabacco filled pipe before looking down at Jossen sitting cross-legged beneath him.

“That Lord Hoten Brisen was a monster of a man… near 400 lbs. Lord Pork Chop, they called him. He and Lord Wainwright fought over cows that grazed on both sides of the Moore, each sent their armies out to settle whose cows they were. Their armies sat on either end of the ford, Brisens to the north and Wainwrights to the south. Dairy Ford, they call it these days, the singers named it along with the battle. You see it's like that in the histories Jossen, events are named for places and when events happen in places there are no names for, the singers come and fill them in. At the time it wouldn’t have been known as the Dairy Ford but that's what we name the battle today... The Battle for Dairy Ford”. His father had explained.

It was hard for Jossen to focus in on the details because he would always get stuck imagining a 400 lb Lord Pork Chop sitting atop a horse. He thought it must've been like an ant carrying a beetle atop its back. He had seen ants carrying large objects atop their backs before and thought if an ant could do to carry so much then surely so could a horse.

“It was your great-grandfather that had won the day, you see while all the men were fighting and arguing over the cattle. Your great-grandfather quietly herded the cows across the river and when daylight had finally come and pork chop and his men realized the cows were gone, they were furious. It wasn’t long before Lord Wainwright sent an envoy and with the herded cattle, and the bigger army in his possession, he could negotiate a peace. However, in return for peace Lord Pork Chop would get an offering of milk and cheese from the cows each spring. That's when Lord Wainwright in his wisdom gave the cattle, the lands south of the Moore, and a Lordship to your great-grandfather. He tasked him with the responsibility of milking cows, making cheese, and defending the Wainwright Lands. You see Jossen it will one day be your responsibility to make cheese; just like me and your grandfather before me and his father before him.”

After the story, his Father would always joke that house Fyshe owed its fortune to a 400lb Pork Chop and his gluttony for milk and cheese. Jossen thought however that house Fyshe owed its luck to his great-grandfather; who in a moment of chaos had the courage to take action.

“The bold man either loses a head or wins his destiny.” He had thought. Jossen, like his great-grandfather intended to be bold. He need not be a cheesemonger forever.

© 2018 miahstr

Author's Note

I am interested to know if people enjoy the style of my writing. Is it easy or hard to read? Can you see what I am describing? You are welcome to leave advice. I appreciate your thoughts. If its something that you are in dire need of reading more. Let me know I have some...

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• It was unusually warm for springtime and he could feel the sweat pooling between him and the leather doublet that he wore.

With this line you tell the reader that we're not with Jossen, we're with you, listening to you talk ABOUT him. Were you here that might work, but the voice the reader hears is devoid of the emotion you hear as you read, because they can't see your performance. So though it's all there for you, for a reader the voice is a monotone, other then whatever the punctuation suggests. Have the computer read it aloud to hear what a reader gets.

Here's the thing: the words "it was," can only come from you, as you give what amounts to a weather report. In his viewpoint? He wipes the sweat from his brow and the reader knows he's warm. Why tell them what they can observe, and learn that he's feeling overheated without you having to step on stage and break the illusion of reality
Suppose you'd phrased the line as:
- - -
Jossen wiped the sweat from his brow as he made his way up the side of the grass-covered hill, wishing he could wipe away the sweat dampening his body under the leather doublet.
- - -
Thirty-three words as against thirty-eight reads faster, and so has more impact. Does the reader really need to be told who's wearing the doublet? Do they care if it's warmer than usual, given that they don't know where they are, and how warm it actually is? No. And presented this way it's what he's thinking/doing, not what someone invisible is explaining. He's wishing it was cooler in the moment he calls now. As Sol Stein put it: “In sum, if you want to improve your chances of publication, keep your story visible on stage and yourself mum.”

• He had imported the leather from across the Blooded Sea, it was said to be among the strongest of leathers, having been harvested from exotic giant warrior birds that roamed the plains of Alan, it was resistant to all forms of swordplay.

Write this in stone over your desk: Never use a comma splice. Never. It's instant rejection. And if you don't know what a comma splice is, look it up and then go through your work killing them all.

But put that aside for the moment because you have a far more important problem. Your reader came to you to be entertained—to experience a story. You open that story with your protagonist climbing a hill on a warm day.

So...the reader has a reasonable expectation of that warmth being meaningful, but it appears it isn't. They also expect to learn what's going on as he travels. But he doesn't travel far. We have 38 words on him, before you abandon him to spend 91 words on leather. Obviously his clothing is more important than he is. That might not be your intent, but it is what you showed the reader.

Then he crests the hill and sees smoke. That takes 71 words. And he vanishes. The next 571 words comprise an info-dump of backstory and gossip about things that happened before the story began. That's history, not story. And none of it matters. Before the reader needs that information they will probably have forgotten it. Your reader may be with you for fifteen minutes a day, at lunch, or on the train. And they are NOT going to read and memorize facts so they can enjoy the story. This first scene has him climbing a hill and seeing the fire. We assume he gets to the castle and does things there. That's story. Why does the reader care about how fat the lord was? How does it change the action if it's left out? My point is that anything that does not move the plot, meaningfully set the scene, or develop character needs to be cut because the reader wants the story to move...the faster the better. And a lecture on history makes you a talking head, which kills a story.

Story happens. It isn't talked about. And since you're neither on the scene nor in the story every time you come on stage you kill all sense of reality.

The fix? The problem you face is that you're trying to use your schooldays writing skills, combined with verbal storytelling. And that can't work. We learn only nonfiction skills in school and verbal storytelling skills are inappropriate to our medium. And while we all love to read, viewing the product—published fiction—tells you nothing about the process of creating it. And that's what you need to write fiction. It's not hard to find. It's in the local library's fiction writing section, and online. It does take time to learn, practice, and perfect, but that's true of any field, so it's no big deal, other then meaning you won't be rich and famous for your writing by year's end.

You have the desire and the perseverance. That's good. What you're missing are the tricks of the trade that make the writing come alive. And that's the learned part of the profession. Your story deserves a good telling, and the best setting. So have at it and replace that cart horse we're given in school with Pegasus. Then, mounted on a flying beast your writing will take wing,

Hang in there, and keep on writing.

Jay Greenstein.

Posted 3 Years Ago

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Added on May 14, 2018
Last Updated on May 15, 2018
Tags: game of thrones, War, fantasy, fiction, epic story, detail driven narrative



Mesa, AZ

I am a ship on a stormy sea being blown every which way. I have set a course but who knows at which shore I will stay. I write in my free time and my ultimate goal is to inspire epiphany an "oh I didn.. more..

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