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Alehkra
August 21st, 2015, 08:33 AM
Hello everyone. So, I've been around briefly before; I had meant to be quite a bit more active than I was, but, as it so often does, life happened. Within the past few months, however, I've picked my writing back up. Specifically I'm perhaps a bit past the half-way mark with a fantasy novel that I've been variously planning, writing and dreaming about for quite a long time. This is in fact my second real attempt at the novel. I once posted my old prologue (found here (http://www.writingforums.com/threads/142785-A-Very-Tentative-Beginning-(Fantasy-706-words)) if anyone cares) in these forums and received a lot of very flattering feedback, and more importantly a lot of helpful critique. One issue brought up by a couple of you wonderful folks was that the actual point of the piece, the dying man, was sort of lost in everything else. So, as much as I adored that scene, I decided that it needed to be completely reworked. The result is below, and I'm looking forward to hearing what everyone has to say, as well as hopefully becoming much more active in what seems to be a wonderfully helpful and supportive community.


Prologue
Something was trickling across his face. Something warm, wet, and with a faint, acrid stench to it. Somehow he thought he should know what it was. It was familiar, achingly so. He just couldn’t put a name to it. Every time he tried to grasp the memory it flitted away.
It must be the bloodloss. He thought idly to himself. He thought there was some significance to the thought, something pertinent, but before he could pin it down it was gone.
Yes, definitely the bloodloss...that’s the only thing that ever makes me feel this thick-headed.
He thought that whatever it was, he should wipe it away. It was starting to leak into the corner of his eye, and it stung. It would be a simple matter to simply lift his arm and clean his face. It was something he’d done a thousand times before, often in situations just such as this. It would be a simple matter.
He didn’t move. There wasn’t much point to it, he decided. What did it matter if he died with a clean face? The angels wouldn’t care if his face was dirty, certainly. He was quite certain they had dealt with men in his situation before. He had arranged such meetings himself countless times.
He squeezed his eyes shut, hoping to block out that strange, stinging liquid. It didn’t work, and again he thought about wiping it away. Again he realized how pointless it would be. Before long he wouldn’t feel the stinging anymore. Just a little while longer.
Does it usually take this long? I don’t think I’ve seen it take so long, before. Usually they just simply slip away. Of course, I’m better at it than these men were.
It was something he had done so often, after all. The day had begun so familiarly. There was nothing new about savages screaming their defiance and rage as they died beneath the sword. The ring of steel and the music of splintering shields was a familiar tune to him, like an old lullaby. Swift strikes, desperate parries, and the jar of steel on bone; these were the steps to a dance he knew well.
So what was so different about this time? Why couldn’t he lift his arms, why was that familiar pain he knew so well fading fast like a distant memory? Ah, that’s right. This time I’m the one dying.
Before he could further explore that thought, he realized he wasn’t alone anymore. He could hear the footsteps in the grass. They were being careful to move quietly, but he’d never met the person who could sneak up on him. With a great effort he lifted his head slightly and opened his eyes, ignoring the blood the dripped from a wound in his forehead.
She was just as beautiful as the first time he’d seen her. She was clad in a short dress of vines and leaves, the criss-crossed tendrils exposing patches of smooth, pale flesh. A vibrant net of flowers of all shades was draped across her long, silky black hair. As always she moved with a lithe grace that made his breath catch, and his chest tighten. Though, normally that didn’t hurt quite so much as it did this time.
She didn’t look at him for a while. She glided in a slow, melancholy dance between the corpses littering the field around him. Occasionally she would kneel next to one and whisper something into their ear. He wasn’t sure what she told them; she’d never been willing to let him know. Perhaps now he would finally be able to find out. She continued to sway this way and that from body to body, ignoring some, speaking to others, and for a couple plucking a flower from her hair and placing it on their still breasts.
Only once she had visited every one of the still figures in the clearing did she turn to him. He began to smile as she did so. He couldn’t help it; she had always been able to make him smile, like no one ever had. Her eyes, so bright and shockingly blue that he’d never quite believed they were real, had always made him feel like a glorious dawn was just on the horizon. They were an endless, deep sky that promised sun and warmth and joy. More joy than he’d ever known in his short life.
The smile died on his lips as she finally looked at him. Her eyes, that wonderful sky, had clouded over with grief, and the rain fell. He felt his heart break in his chest, and all the gaping wounds and broken bones in the world couldn’t distract him from the pain. He tried to speak, but only succeeded in coughing up a clot of blood.
She knelt next him in one smooth, graceful motion. No, don’t talk. She whispered into his mind. There’s no need for it, you’ll only make it worse. Despite the tears she gave him a soft, fragile smile.
He leaned his head back against the hard ground. I don’t think there is any worse for me to get. He confided. But you know that. That’s why you’re here. I’m just glad it was you.
Of course it’s me. You didn’t think I’d let anyone else take you, do you?
And you don’t mind that my face is dirty? I tried to clean it, but I couldn’t.
She smiled a little bit wider, and shook her head. He felt the tears splash against his face as she did so. No, darling, I don’t mind at all. We’ll get you cleaned up, don’t worry.
He finally managed to smile back at her, and closed his eyes. Good. He thought with relief. I was worried you wouldn’t take me…
The last thing he remembered was a thought filled with the sorrow and anguish of millenia. I’m so sorry…
He didn’t even have time to wonder what she was sorry for before he slipped away.

Tbird0000
August 21st, 2015, 09:42 AM
Typing this as I read:

1. Thesaurus: This is "our" friend. Our friends are always there when we need us. I notice some repetitive word usage.
2. There are some flow problems. During the dialogue, it took me a second to realize I was reading the exchanging of words and not his thoughts.
3. As a whole, I understand what is happening. A man is dying after some battle. He's laying in the grass waiting to die and this woman appears. She is special to him in a way. Maybe he loves her, we/I don't know. I think this story was started and ended too quickly without really much of any build up or anticipation.
4. I found it a little on the bland side. No offense.

5. The big "5"! I just want to say my comments aren't personal to you. Constructive criticism is what we are all here for. I always comment on what I've read so these are some of my thought on this piece.

bdcharles
August 21st, 2015, 10:08 AM
Hi,

Firstly I quite enjoyed the dreamy pace of the dying man, with a few simple, almost childlike structure in places. As with the previous respondent, I did see a couple of repetitions (eg the moving of his arm as a simple movement) that might best be worked into one, but also subtler word choice stuff like "smooth, pale skin" which is a little bit clichéd perhaps? I found myself wanting a smart metaphor (porcelain skin, China-doll skin, etc). Lastly, I would ask: why is this a prologue? I think it would be interesting to see this immediately after the drama of a big battle, like those films where something massively dramatic is shown against a quiet piece of classical music.

Hope this helps :)

Alehkra
August 22nd, 2015, 09:05 PM
Typing this as I read:

1. Thesaurus: This is "our" friend. Our friends are always there when we need us. I notice some repetitive word usage.
2. There are some flow problems. During the dialogue, it took me a second to realize I was reading the exchanging of words and not his thoughts.
3. As a whole, I understand what is happening. A man is dying after some battle. He's laying in the grass waiting to die and this woman appears. She is special to him in a way. Maybe he loves her, we/I don't know. I think this story was started and ended too quickly without really much of any build up or anticipation.
4. I found it a little on the bland side. No offense.

5. The big "5"! I just want to say my comments aren't personal to you. Constructive criticism is what we are all here for. I always comment on what I've read so these are some of my thought on this piece.

No worries, I don't take things personally. If I didn't want honest critiques, I wouldn't post things in a public, open forum. If it's a bit on the bland side, this is something I need to know. Likewise with any repetitive verbiage. If I don't listen to things like that, and instead pretend everything is fine and dandy, it's never going to get any better. So, thanks a lot for the comments, I appreciate them. :) That was why I posted it here. I wanted to gauge the reaction to this piece in comparison to the last thing I posted, to figure out which I should go with.

@bdcharles

Thanks for the response, always appreciated. To answer your question this is the prologue because the battle the precedes it isn't necessarily important in and of itself but for two things: where it takes place, and who participates. This piece focused on the latter, and I intend to expound upon why the location is important in the rest of the story. Does that make any sense at all, or do I just sound like an idiot?

MousePot
August 22nd, 2015, 11:33 PM
Hey Alehkra

I really enjoyed this, it's right up my alley of writing ^^.

I thought your structure, pace and tone was very suitable for the scene, and more variation of of vocab is always good, as long as it fits your narrator. As this is from the view point of a warrior, simple language, to me, fit pretty well, but we dont want it being repetitive XD

That also goes for descriptions though, your description of battle was beautiful, and I can tell that you had fun with it, but coming from a grizzled warrior sounds a little bizarre (at least the image I have of the chap, all bear skins and badly kept beard and what-not), it might be an idea to have another character describe the warrior in this manner later, at the news of his death sort of thing ^^

Having said that, I loved the obsession he has with a clean face, was a really lovely touch, and feels very human. It might be interesting to hear more about his wounds, we get an impression that he's beat up, but a few concrete details might be nice to flesh out the scene, for example, if his wound was in his back, it would raise all sorts of questions ;)

One suggestion I have for the dialogue with the 'angel' might be to shift the perspective from first person to third person for the part, and not be able to hear the Angel half of the dialogue. Having that scene played out as an outsider would make it pretty poignant I believe, almost a 'too personal for even the reader to know about', and plus only hearing the dialogue of the warriar would be intriguing, though I reckon leaving the 'I'm sorry' will be important ;)

Really enjoyed this and looking forward to the next draft ^^

Bard_Daniel
January 3rd, 2016, 07:10 PM
I agree with Mousepot and think that this piece has some potential. It's a nice piece but I would stress, as others have, about repetition. It is not your friend.

An interesting piece. I am interested in reading/knowing more!

Cheers!

Alehkra
January 4th, 2016, 12:14 AM
I agree with Mousepot and think that this piece has some potential. It's a nice piece but I would stress, as others have, about repetition. It is not your friend.

An interesting piece. I am interested in reading/knowing more!

Cheers!

Thanks a lot for the feedback (to you and everyone else in the thread). I'll make sure to keep everything in mind, especially the bit about repetition. Not only for when I revise this piece, but anything else I write. If it's a problem here, I'm sure I have a problem with it elsewhere.