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Blue Blazer
May 10th, 2012, 09:09 PM
Chapter 1: The Great Forest


Once, in a land now lost in a forgotten time, there was a great forest. In this forest there was a small, humble cottage where a small, humble family lived. The father was a tall, broad man with a loud, booming voice full of laughter. The mother was pretty and rosy-cheeked, and often singing songs from days long past. And their son was slender and quick, with hair the color of autumn wheat and a round, smiling face. He was a good boy, prone to mischief but full of love.

The forest gave this family all that they required; they had little, but needed even less. The father would hunt and fish and make repairs to the house, when it was necessary. The mother tended to the garden and washed their clothes in the river. The boy had his own chores, and when they were done we would often explore the wonders of the forest around him.

But there came a day when, for reasons unknown, the forest stopped providing for the family. The father could find neither beast nor bird to hunt, nor fish to catch. The fruits and vegetables in the garden shriveled and died. The family had managed to put away some food for the winter, but it was not yet May and it quickly began to deplete. Out of love for their son, the mother and father began to eat less and less, so that he could have enough to stay healthy and strong. But this began to take its toll on them, so that they became weak and ill from starvation, until they could not even raise themselves from their bed.

The boy was frightened, knowing that his parents would soon die if something was not done. So he went out into the forest to seek the only help he knew.

"Oh, great Spirit of the Forest," the boy cried out, "I beg you to answer my call!"

A sudden warm breeze picked up, lifting the leaves from the forest floor in a small, playful whirlwind and gently ruffling the boy's hair. A voice, deep and ancient, spoke from behind him.

"Why do you call upon the spirit of this forest, the protector of all that dwells here?"

The boy spun around in surprise, to find not a soul with him. But then the voice came again and he discovered its source. A tree, that had moments before been like any other tree (it was his favorite climbing tree, in fact), had twisted and changed until it resembled an old man. Its trunk formed a knotted, gnarled face; its branches became bony arms; its hanging moss made an unkempt beard. It leaned toward him.

"Speak up, boy. My time is short. There are miles of forest to watch over. You are lucky I was nearby when you called to me. Now, out with it."

The boy fought through the shock that had frozen him in place, not wanting to miss the chance to save his mother and father.

"If you please, good spirit," he croaked, "I live in a small house a short distance from here. My family has run out of food and my mother and father are so starved that they cannot even raise themselves from their bed. I fear that they will die very soon unless someone saves us."

The tree straightened and considered the boy's plea. It tapped the knot that served as its nose with the twig that served as one of its fingers while it thought. Finally, the spirit came to a decision.

"Though I am not in the habit of fooling with the likes of Man, I have made a vow to protect all of the denizens of this wood. I suppose you humans are no exception," it told the boy.

The child's heart leaped with joy. Had he known what the Spirit of the Forest would say next, he would not have been so happy.

"In a country many miles due east of here there is a castle," the spirit continued, "and in the center of that castle grows a tree that bears magic fruit. You must journey there, pick some of the fruit, and bring it back for your mother and father to eat, and their strength will be restored. The path to the castle is very long and full of peril. You must be steadfast and brave. Only if you can complete this quest will your wish be granted."

At once the boy was afraid. How could the great spirit ask so much of him?

"It is impossible," he told the tree, "Is there nothing else that can be done? No other way? I am but a small child."

"Indeed you are," came the reply, "And yet I sense in you an abundance of courage and cunning. You are not tall and strong, but you possess a power within that has become rare in these days. I believe you will succeed. Now go and prepare for your journey, and before you leave, go down to the river at your father's fishing place and you will find a gift from the forest that will help you along the way."

And with that, the great tree stilled and what had been a face melted back into its trunk. It was once more just the boy's favorite climbing tree.

The boy started walking back to the house, his mind heavy with thought. He was almost sure he could never complete the task set to him by the Spirit of the Forest. But then he came to the front door of the cottage and looked in to see his father and mother lying in their bed, gaunt and pale, and he made up his mind to try.

RoosterSmith
May 12th, 2012, 12:15 AM
This sounds interesting. Can't wait for the next part.

But the adult in me knows that the kid is just high and the tree wasn't talking to him at all.

That kind of spoils it for me...

WiredNun
May 13th, 2012, 07:04 PM
Look at my signature. Follow the link. Download the writer's guide.

Blue Blazer
May 13th, 2012, 07:08 PM
I'm not certain how to take that response, Wired.

WiredNun
May 13th, 2012, 07:15 PM
It means that there is some promise to your story, but it needs a lot of work.

It means that you need to download Konrath's writer's guide, which has an amazing amount of basic information about the craft of writing. If you read what he has to say and follow even a part of it, your writing will improve dramatically.

LaughinJim
May 13th, 2012, 08:01 PM
That was interesting. Never heard of this guy Konrath... Anyhoo,

Generally, I would give this a thumbs up for a draft. Clearly there is the making of a children's or YA story. The story is rather herky jerky and lineal. Try to develop more of a flow. Sometimes reading flat passages aloud may give you clues to creating a more melodic and poetic tone.

When I said lineal above, I meant that the boy has not been given any choices. What is life, especially to a youngster, without critical decisions each alternative with foreseable and unforeseeable consequences? [I might have misspelled that last undoubleton, forgive me as I'm in a hurry to get the mother's day dinner started.] I also just realized that you had gone over 500 words and the kid dosn't have a name.

Your spirit of the forest also resembles Tolkien's Treebeard quite a bit too much for my comfort. Perhaps an original idea would help. There are all kinds of creatures in the forest, perhaps a burning bush. (just kidding)

The boy's mother is clearly about to die. How do you plan to save her with such a long and arduous quest involved. I hope you have a plan for that. (the spirit of the forest as deus ex machina for her might be tawdry.)

Before you continue with the story, I would rewrite what I have concentrating on a better poetic flow. Use your ears. If it sounds flat or jerky then rewrite the sentence.

Give the boy interesting options instead of a fate accompli.

Give him a name.

Resolve the dying Mom problem immediately. Way too much tension for the start, it might scare young readers away.

Send him off on his quest and have fun. If it's not fun anymore, put it down and start something else.

Don't let my criticism let you down for I did enjoy what you have written. Keep the faith and keep writing.

Jim

SamanthaMarie
May 14th, 2012, 02:48 AM
I really enjoyed the story, especially when I compared it to some of my favorite books as a child. It has promise and even though it seems jerky to some I personally thought it had good flow for the most part. How often are people going to read it out loud, anyways? It would be geared towards children around the age of ten so it doesn't need to be intellectually fullfilling to us adults, unless you didn't want to go that route. But, I do agree to give the boy a name. And also, I believe once he is on his quest you can incorporate his decision making. Some may not concur, but that's the wonder of writing forums; you have access to different opinions. I'm a fan, keep writing!

Blue Blazer
May 14th, 2012, 02:03 PM
This forum is ridiculous. I'm leaving. This bizarre paranoia about people making too many posts IN THEIR OWN THREAD by breaking up their stories is absurd and makes no sense. Particularly after being advised that people don't tend to read long, intimidating chunks of narrative. This is clearly not what I was looking for when I searched for writing forums.

LaughinJim
May 14th, 2012, 05:05 PM
Oh boy, I don't know who said that but I would just suggest starting a new thread with the same title and part x written next to it. Don't get frustrated and leave because this is really the best forum of its kind that I have seen. It would be a shame that you left in anger (as I did recently over different types of shenanigans) and come back red cheeked with embarrassment.

SamanthaMarie
May 14th, 2012, 09:36 PM
Don't let others bully you out of here. Be strong and stick to your guns. Let them worry about it and don't let them get to you.