View Full Version : Bort: The Hopelessly Inadequate God of Nothing - Excerpt

January 25th, 2017, 10:39 PM
Bort 1


Date: Unsure
Place: …Unsure

Bort was not a particularly attractive God. At 5 foot 3.5 inches he had neither height, nor looks on his side. However, what Bort lacked in height, he made up for in stature. That is to say, Bort was fat. He tried to keep a positive outlook nonetheless.

It was hard.

One day, not long after coming into existence, Bort came across a small creature; in his eyes, the creature was the only thing that he'd so far come across that could rival his unfortunate appearance. He picked the creature up, granted it immortality and named it Bort*.

*Owing to Bort's lack of vocabulary-an affliction that all newly established God's suffer from-Bort would tend to just repeat his name in times of uncertainty. It was something that…well…something that nobody actually told Bort to do. Bort was a God after all, and he had to learn these things on his own. In the interest of establishing some clarity however, we shall refer to Bort's companion as Peter.

Bort marvelled at his new friend. He wondered what sort of God had created Peter; was it a joke? Peter moved his head, slowly, and stared at Bort. Quick as a flash, Peter whipped out his tongue and caught a different, smaller creature, and quickly swallowed it. Bort felt satisfied with his new acquaintance. He was repulsive!

Bort placed Peter down on a nearby rock and began to ponder about life – it didn’t take him long. As he’d only recently established his existence, lack of vocabulary and limited self awareness prohibited him from asking the pertinent, contemplative questions one might ask upon finding out that they were a God. So, in the absence of thought, Bort slept and had the most peculiar dream.

In his dream, Bort came across many creatures: some like himself (ugly), and some unlike himself (not ugly). They did strange things that Bort could not understand and when he awoke, he felt panicked. Unsure of himself, Bort began to pace up and down the tree line where he'd rested.

"Bort, Bort, Bort-- Bort? Bort!"

Just as he turned, for the 6th time-anticlockwise-before tapping his left hand to his right temple and then continuing to walk back to the first tree he started at to complete the sequence again, he realised that in the commotion, he'd forgotten about his new companion, Peter.

Bort quickly finished his practiced routine of turning, touching and pacing and then hurried off to find him.

He found him on the rock where he’d left him. Bort bent down, in order to get eye level with Peter, and paused. He noticed that something was different; he was not at all how he remembered him. He was no longer the same colour for starters. He also appeared a little…floppy in the wind. Perched on the rock, he reflected the image of a pale, dried and altogether skin-like replica of his former self.

Puzzled, Bort looked around.

He felt a small, sharp sensation pinch at his wide, doughy shoulder - and then a small voice.

"Hello!” said the small voice. “The name's Peter. Don't be alarmed, I just shed my skin. Nothing to worry about, perfectly normal – don’t pay it a second glance. I didn’t get a chance to ask your name?”

There was a gust of wind and a small leaf twirled into Bort’s vision. Transfixed, Bort seemingly forgot about Peter, outstretched his webbed hands and tried, unsuccessfully, to catch it. The leaf fluttered out of view and then he was back. Peter seized his opportunity.

“Hi, I’m Peter--”

“BORT!” interrupted Bort

“Great, nice to meet you Bort! Can you tell m--”

“Bort?” interrupted Bort, for a second time

He was transfixed…again. Focusing back on the rock, he tilted his head; there seemed to be less of Peter than what there was before, he thought.

Peter let out a long sigh and wondered why he never got the God’s with telekinetic powers; apparently they were much quicker to teach.


So - this is my first attempt at writing. I am aware that I am doing a lot of telling and no showing.

I've written more to this segment, but didn't want to overwhelm. I'm after an honest critique, obviously. I'm not sure whether this is a childrens book, a young adults book, the start of a satire...or a mix of all three.


Taken on board the crit from below.

Decided to back pedal with this and start it with a scene that will have more impact - introducing the antagonist.

Feel free to still critique this on; humour factor, writing style, character idea etc.

January 26th, 2017, 08:08 PM
We all start from somewhere and I imagine that if you took the first piece of writing that anyone on this site ever wrote it would not be very good. You could do the same for any author as well. My first draft of Mars-127 (my story) is poor and extremely flawed when I look back at it. However, it was the first stepping stone to improving my writing. Posting and reading on here will do your writing the world of good, so welcome to the forum! :-)

Now onto the actual writing...

I like the name Bort and his character very much. I kind of imagine a 5ft Grawp (Harry Potter) crossed with Groot (Guardians of the Galaxy) appearing in my head. I think more details about him early on would be better. What does he look like, what is he wearing? If he has just woken up in some crazy god uniform then that could add to his confusion. Just don't dump the details in in one big go but be more subtle. Perhaps when he first wakes he brushes his long black hair out of his face. It's not so much of an info dump but the reader gets to know more about the main character.
The lack of language from Bort may be hard to write well in the start but you should be able to get it to work. However, an approach like they do with Groot or R2-D2 in films is probably a better way to go. Or perhaps you'll stumble across another, better way to do it.

If the narrator is a character then where is s/he in the scene? If they are recounting the scene then it needs to be noted. If he is watching from a far then that also needs to be mentioned and then the story would become first person and be told from a slightly different viewpoint. Also surely the narrator (who later becomes a character) would know the year and place. I realise its there because Bort doesn't know but remove it and show that through Bort and his actions.

Peter and Bort sound like they are going to be the centre of this story and so their relationship is important. we haven't seen them interact much yet but they seem like a good pairing together.

Finally I find Bort's actions quite odd. He comes into existence somewhere unfamiliar to him. There is no description of the world he has descended into and rather than trying to find out where he is or do something useful he falls asleep. The dream (which could also be fleshed out more) is a confusing twist for a beginning as well. You have two good characters and a basic but good storyline. But we seem to drop straight into the story which is mostly a character description/reasoning for Bort, a few small actions and a flash of dialogue. Build a scene where there's a big flash, Bort appears and then tries to work out what to do. Maybe Peter comes along to tell him. Then you can add all the quirks of Bort and Peter.

My advice would be to read the beginning of a few books preferably of a similar style or genre and see how they bring in the place, person/s and the problem that are needed to set a book in motion. Just think about where you want Bort to start and then finish at the end of the story. Place him in a scene and just write away. It may take several attempts to get it correct (I'm 7 years into a book and edit my first few chapters quite a lot). You're fortunate to be at a point where your story could go anywhere. Bort can become older, yellow, a Martian, whatever. He could be an amazing fighter sent to protect Earth from x, y or z. Just give it some time for the story to create itself. Keep writing and the ideas will come in time, then you can come back and change earlier bits as needed.

Keep up the good work and keep posting. I look forward to where you take this project. Any questions don't hesistate to ask!

Jam :-)

January 26th, 2017, 09:27 PM
Thank you for that!

There wasn't one thing you said that I didn't agree with, so thank you for a very well written critique.

My only comeback, and it's not an excuse, is that I wrote this simplified and brief idea before realising that I would attempt to turn it into something more. Looking at it now, it seems rushed and haphazard.

I've began planning the actual story now. I've also read a bit more about scene building and better ways to introduce the story and a lot of it resonates with what you've said, which is good. I've also thought about Bort's introduction and it needs to be a bigger scene as it will be an important part to the story - as will Peter's.

Also, forget what I said about character narrator - it came out wrong. I think I just mean't that the style of narration was quite characterful... Haha. Makes no sense I know. The narrator will not be a character in the story.

I'm thinking about beginning the story with a bit of a darker scene involving the antagonist in order to try and grip the reader straight away. Something altogether more involving for the reader, with a bit more showing! Not perfect, not final, but something along these lines...


A shadow trailed across the forest floor, it’s outline blurred as if melting into the darkness.

“He’s here” came it’s voice

A branch cracked underfoot and a tall, hooded man stumbled into view.

“Jesu— is that really necessary?” said the hooded man, startled

The shadow did not respond; hanging in the night sky, it’s presence was enough to fill the silence.

Unsure of himself, the hooded man decided to prompt it, “Well?”


The hooded man—clearly nervous, and unaware that voids like this were best left alone—attempted to fill the space once more… “Creepy bugger aren’t ya?”

It came out—wrong. It sounded much more confident when he’d thought it. It sounded like the right thing to say. He thought it’d break the tension and establish that he was not a man that frightened easily, he was not afraid of this shad—

—the shadow quivered.

Suspended in the dim light of the forest the shadow lengthened itself and began to expand into the night, bleeding into other shadows. It seemed to draw the darkness in and coalesce to an ocean of terrifying black mass; sinuous appendages came out of nowhere thrashing around like waves of a stormy sea.

A single bead of sweat formed and began to trickle down the hooded man’s face. He gulped. He gulped audibly.

“He’s here. You know exactly what to do. And you'll do it.”

It came as a series of commands, each issued with it’s own certifiably creepy pause and an element of finality. The conversation was finished.

The creature resolved into a small shadow and melted back into the darkness.

The man, who had by this point resorted to a foetal-like form—complete with hands covering eyes and whimpers—decided that now would be a good time to get back up. He also made a mental note to change his trousers at the earliest opportunity.


He stopped himself. Then scuttled away.

January 27th, 2017, 04:17 PM
Its not an excuse at all. You're at a very early stage of your story, with ideas flooding in left, right and centre so its naturally going to change. Every writer does it slightly differently but I wouldn't get to fixated on exactly how the story goes. For me I like to know a rough outline, the start and ending and perhaps a few scenes in between. Even my characters will change as I write. So as along as you have a rough idea of what the story will be then you can get on with the writing and new ideas, character traits and details will form as you go.

An opening scene doesn't have to be all bangs and flashes but has to be enough to keep a reader going for atleast another couple of chapters. Bort and his arrival will undoubtedly give enough to draw readers in and get them intrigued in his story.

Fair enough about the narrator, I understand what you mean now! :-)

That little scene you've added on is leaps and bounds better! It's by no means perfect but works because of one thing: The reader can visualise it as a scene. Your original post is very hard to form in our head, due to a lack of details and clear action. Here, you have action, dialogue and description. Its not a complete image but I can picture the scene happening in my head clear enough. That's often what the reader wants, particularly those of a younger audience. It's also mysterious, it makes us ask questions (who's in the hood? Who is the shadow?) and to solve those we must read more. That is how you get people into a book.

Good work, I can see the improvement already!

Jam :-)

P.S. - Don't worry to much about show/tell at the moment. Getting the story out at the moment is enough. And sometimes the reader does need to be told to make things clear.

Chester Stark
May 29th, 2017, 10:08 PM
I can see a lot of potential in this being really quite funny, if you play your cards right. You have a wonderfully discworld-esque thing going here, and I look forward to more.
Also, your antagonist is weirdly sinister, I like it, and, like Jamboree, I agree that your second scene is vastly better than your first - keep up the good writing!