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The Forest (793 words)

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Old 06-05-2011, 12:49 PM
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Default The Forest (793 words)


Hello All,

Here is the start of my novel (Here's the first draft).

"Three princes face the sudden murder of their father, the king, and with it follow a battle for kingdom, family, and life."

Above sums up the story for your reference, below is the start, I just want to share various excerpts throughout.

Please, share your honest opinions, positive and negative, thank you in advance.

_________________________

The young man walks deeper into the darkened forest; he passes the cluster of giant trees shielding the sight of his final destination. He steps into the open space in front of the small and poorly built shack. His eyes fill with apprehension as his heart pounds firmly against his ribs. Suddenly, the door swings open to reveal the small haggard image of an old woman walking up towards him. The man stands unwavering from his position as the woman’s dirty and crooked teeth form a gleaming smile across her worn face.

“What an honor it is to have the heir of the crown in my presence.” Her words sound frail yet her tone is cheery.
“Am I correct that you’ve come to ask the question which sears upon thy mind?”
The man hides his surprise at her conjecture; he remains stern in form and thought.
“My lady is correct; I do have a query which greatly needs answering.” He controls the tone of his voice but the old woman can see the desperation in his telling eyes.
“My dear boy, ask what you must.”
The man takes in a small breath of crisp cold air before the words leave his lips.
“Am I to have a son?”
A wave of anticipation rinses over his bones as he waits for the woman to speak. She gazes deep into the man's face, as if the answer is written across it. She mulls the question over in her brain for a few more moments before finally speaking.
“But of course, a male son is to be had of you.”
Despite containing the joyous emotions sweeping over his body, a smile can’t help but creep onto his mouth.
“The loss of two unborn daughters must have been of great distress to you.”
The knowledge of such personal events strikes fear into the pit of his stomach.
“How could you know such a thing?” He demands.
“The whispers come to me at will.” She says softly.
“Your fate and that of your ancestry’s are as intertwined as the branches of the great sycamore behind you.” Her wrinkled fingers point to the trees.
“Your destiny is your savoir and taker, it will bestow joy and sadness, birth and death in its wake, the course you take from here will define the future of this land and its people, you must stay wide eyed to the evil which will seep its poison into the fruit of your loins and sever all bonds you hold true.”

The old woman’s gaze begins to drift away from his clutched stare. She stands in place in a silent daze, her arms begin to rise and her hands stretch to the dark sky above. The man marvels at the strange sight before him as the woman moans and speaks in an unknown language to him. Her feeble body shakes with violent force; he fears she’ll collapse at any moment. She remains firm in place with her hands still up in the air, cries continuing to spill from her opened mouth.

“Three are to be born, males of the heir!” She shouts out in her crazed state.
“Distrust will rot the foundations, a dark power will enter!”
The old woman falls to her boney knees with her head bowed, foreign words continue from her lips. The air around them intensifies as a gust of wind swirls through the trees and upon their faces. The man wants to leave, to escape this devilish magic, but the oddity in front of him overpowers.
“Avoid the shadows that will befall you!” She shouts to him, her once weak voice now piercing and clear.
“Save us all a fate of doom! Fight the wicked destiny to follow, fight the one who can’t be trusted!”

All of a sudden, the winds calm, the cries stop, the trembling retreats, and the old woman raises her head and stares directly into the fretful eyes looking back at her. The man cannot form any words together to express the sight he just witnessed.

“The whispers have spoken, you must regard my warnings.” She says calmly still unable to lift onto her feet.
“Go now, go now and chose the destiny that will save us all.”

The man, still unable to speak takes a step back and then another, before turning around completely to start racing back into the black forest.
“Heed me, boy! Heed me!”

The distant pleads from the old woman ring through the night as the man runs towards his awaiting horse. He climbs atop the animal and forces it to run as fast as it can out of the forest.


Last edited by Prince VJR; 06-06-2011 at 10:52 AM.. Reason: re-write
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Old 06-06-2011, 02:30 AM
Prince VJR (Offline)
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Thanks for your response Writing Time. Happy it has caught and kept your attention. This is the, dare I say, prologue of the story. This scene basically foreshadows the important event which happens early on in the story, will post more, thanks again.
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Old 06-06-2011, 05:08 AM
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I'm really sorry but this was just a bit too cheesy for me. I like the idea of the story, I'm into lore and legend but I thought you went a little to far with the old English, it was a little too cliched for me.

".....will seep its poison into the loins of your fruit" - not sure what you mean here, surely the saying is 'fruit of your loins', I'm not sure that you can swop it round like that and have it still make sense.

Keep at it though, if I read something like this as a prologue, I'd definitely keep reading.
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Old 06-06-2011, 05:10 AM
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PS Forgot to say that I thought there were too many "my dear boy"s - it made her sound like a public school toff (but it does have promise!).
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Old 06-06-2011, 07:27 AM
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I agree with everything Gaenor said. Also, in the following line the use of both 'you've' and 'thine' feels very inconsistent:

“Am I correct in presuming you’ve come to ask the question which sears upon thine mind?”

And I think 'thine mind' should be 'thy mind' anyway.

I do like the creation of mood in this piece, it's quite effective.

Last edited by Nadja; 06-06-2011 at 07:30 AM..
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Old 06-06-2011, 08:49 AM
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I think the old english could have been beaten do death A LOT more. This was a good medium I think. I see what the others are saying about it but for me it did not distract from reading at all. I like it. Besides there are SOO many folk lore storys out there it is near imposible to not have some minor cliches. Its all about the presentation and where it takes us that makes the story different. So far you are on the right track for sure. I can think of same ways it could be ruined for me but I'll save it and see where you take this.
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Old 06-06-2011, 10:11 AM
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Thank you all for your responses and feedback.

Originally Posted by Gaenor View Post
".....will seep its poison into the loins of your fruit" - not sure what you mean here, surely the saying is 'fruit of your loins', I'm not sure that you can swop it round like that and have it still make sense.
Yes, Gaenor, I'm sure your correction is right, will fix that.

Originally Posted by Nadja View Post
I agree with everything Gaenor said. Also, in the following line the use of both 'you've' and 'thine' feels very inconsistent:

“Am I correct in presuming you’ve come to ask the question which sears upon thine mind?”

And I think 'thine mind' should be 'thy mind' anyway.
Thanks Nadja, good point, that correction will be made.

It's good to know the mood and setting works for you all, also good that it holds enough of your attention that you want to read more. Only first draft so looking forward to taking into account your suggestions!
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Old 06-06-2011, 10:55 AM
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I've edited the various suggestions said and re-posted the story above. Thanks very much to Nadja and Gaenor, very helpful points!
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Old 06-06-2011, 03:28 PM
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Some of the dialogue is a bit stilted: "But of course, a male son is to be had of you." Each character should have his or her own unique voice, just don't try too hard. Let it flow naturally.
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Old 06-07-2011, 01:00 AM
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Originally Posted by richards89 View Post
Some of the dialogue is a bit stilted: "But of course, a male son is to be had of you." Each character should have his or her own unique voice, just don't try too hard. Let it flow naturally.


Fair point, richard89. In my head, these characters talk like this, not meant to be unnatural, in fact, this is set in 17th century so it will sound a little bit different to our current day dialogue
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Old 06-07-2011, 03:01 AM
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I agree with richard89, I think he's hit the nail on the head - it does feel like you're trying too hard. If your characters speak to you in this way, then they do, there's nothing you can do about that, but be careful not to over do it otherwise it does become cliched. I have nothing against old English used sensitively but listen to your characters, don't try to push it.

Gaenor
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Old 06-07-2011, 04:40 AM
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I'm going to agree with Writing Time - I personally love cliched cheese lol (as my music tastes indicate) And you do it very well. Things that are cliche and cheesy are often that way because they have the potential to be brilliant and exceptional.

The stilted dialogue feels almost natural to the setting. What I may suggest because this is present tense is to give a little more thought to their position, body language and context. You do include it in places a little more may help the dialogue feel more like an interaction.

A slight suggestion as well maybe make it medieval ? Like Writing Time said it had a Macbeth old crone blasted heath feel to it.
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Old 06-07-2011, 04:58 AM
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I don't have an issue with the idea. A lot of wonderful tales begin with premonitions of doom, not a bad thing. I also have zero issues with the dialogue, I like schmaltz. The problem is that this piece is clunky. A case in point, the way you handle dialogue:

“How could you know such a thing?” He demands.
“The whispers come to me at will.” She says softly.

These kinds of abrupt breaks wherein you state the obvious (as whole sentences which is also unnecessary) don't work for me. I also have an issue with the tense, this reads almost like a treatment or a story idea that I might toss into my notes pile, rather than a piece I am actually developing. A story written in this way lasting hundreds of pages, would become very tedious for ME (I specify me, because some people may not care).

Anyway, that's my take. The idea is fine, I think that the execution to this point could use some work. It's a first draft, so now is the time to consider all of these kinds of ideas and to decide how you want to proceed down the line. Good luck, I look forward to seeing where this goes!
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Old 06-07-2011, 05:12 AM
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Originally Posted by Gaenor View Post
I agree with richard89, I think he's hit the nail on the head - it does feel like you're trying too hard. If your characters speak to you in this way, then they do, there's nothing you can do about that, but be careful not to over do it otherwise it does become cliched. I have nothing against old English used sensitively but listen to your characters, don't try to push it.

Gaenor
Thanks for your opinion again Gaenor, I do appreciate it and see where your coming from, but like I said, this is currently how they speak in my head, I'm finding it a challenge to change it, but like to hear your continued perspective.

Originally Posted by AnyaKimlun View Post
I'm going to agree with Writing Time - I personally love cliched cheese lol (as my music tastes indicate) And you do it very well. Things that are cliche and cheesy are often that way because they have the potential to be brilliant and exceptional.

The stilted dialogue feels almost natural to the setting. What I may suggest because this is present tense is to give a little more thought to their position, body language and context. You do include it in places a little more may help the dialogue feel more like an interaction.

A slight suggestion as well maybe make it medieval ? Like Writing Time said it had a Macbeth old crone blasted heath feel to it.
Thanks AnyaKimlun, thanks for your points of view! Would love a medieval setting, just not sure if I'm ready for the research needed to make it realistic for the era.

Originally Posted by Justice View Post
I don't have an issue with the idea. A lot of wonderful tales begin with premonitions of doom, not a bad thing. I also have zero issues with the dialogue, I like schmaltz. The problem is that this piece is clunky. A case in point, the way you handle dialogue:

“How could you know such a thing?” He demands.
“The whispers come to me at will.” She says softly.

These kinds of abrupt breaks wherein you state the obvious (as whole sentences which is also unnecessary) don't work for me. I also have an issue with the tense, this reads almost like a treatment or a story idea that I might toss into my notes pile, rather than a piece I am actually developing. A story written in this way lasting hundreds of pages, would become very tedious for ME (I specify me, because some people may not care).

Anyway, that's my take. The idea is fine, I think that the execution to this point could use some work. It's a first draft, so now is the time to consider all of these kinds of ideas and to decide how you want to proceed down the line. Good luck, I look forward to seeing where this goes!
Thank you, Justice, you make a very good point I never even noticed until now. Its hard to put to use all of these great suggestions because they vary so much, but as long as the story itself makes the reader want to turn the next page then I'll keep working towards that.

Thanks everyone!
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Old 06-07-2011, 08:19 AM
eez (Offline)
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Okay, problem time:

'as his heart pounds firmly against his ribs'. If it's pounding, just let it pound and drop the 'firmly'.

'a male son is to be had of you'. Male? Is there any other type of son?

'Your destiny is your savoir and taker, it will bestow joy and sadness, birth and death in its wake, the course you take from here will define the future of this land and its people, you must stay wide eyed to the evil which will seep its poison into the fruit of your loins and sever all bonds you hold true'

Good stuff, but I feel in can be constructed in a better way; there is nothing wrong with short, to the point sentences:

'Your destiny is both your saviour and taker. It will bestow joy and sadness, birth and death in its wake. The course you take will define the future of this land and its people. Stay open eyed to the evil which will seep poison into the fruit of your loins. And sever all bonds you hold true.'

For me, you have made the mistake that we all make: we get lost in our own thoughts and words and become unable to actually see what we've written.

God knows I've done that with just about everything I've written!

The piece needs reworking, because it's a great opener/prologue to a book and deserves better.

(why does the font chop and change in these messages?)

Finally, it's a ten out of ten for the story, but nothing as high for the way it's presented.

Hope I haven't offended in any way.

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Old 06-07-2011, 08:43 AM
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Just a suggestion, and I know some laugh at me for this, but I find it incredibly useful especially for writing in present tense, because it is very much the here and now.

I find a versatile actor/actress with a large youtube presence. Preferrably one that can sing as well. I 'cast' my main characters. Then stalk them round the internet watching them move - deciding which clips are 'my character.' Having one that can perform on stage as a singer as well is very useful for body language.

I have a very clear idea of the movements they are making and facial expressions as they speak. That helps with the dialogue. Simply they are 3D and I find myself pulling the faces and moving my hands as I type.

When I am writing past tense I don't find this as important past tense (in fact it doesn't work), present tense it brings alive the dialogue. If I write past tense like this my small group of readers say my writing becomes flat.

Blackpool Truths (elderly couple meeting up again after forty years) under fiction and Cream&Black (gay detectives) are under adult content - both are third person present tense. I think they show what I mean if they don't you can decide all of the above is a load of cobblers.

The other alternative is to change the tense. I actually think if you add more interaction and context this dialogue will work quite well in the setting. I think you have the right dialogue for the setting and context - but we need more setting and context to make it feel natural. I personally don't think what the character's actually say is as important as what they are doing, how they are interacting etc

Last edited by AnyaKimlun; 06-07-2011 at 08:50 AM..
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Old 06-07-2011, 02:21 PM
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Hey Prince VJR


Originally Posted by Prince VJR View Post
Hello All,

Here is the start of my novel (Here's the first draft).

"Three princes face the sudden murder of their father, the king, and with it follow a battle for kingdom, family, and life."

Above sums up the story for your reference, below is the start, I just want to share various excerpts throughout.

Please, share your honest opinions, positive and negative, thank you in advance.

_________________________

The young man walks deeper into the darkened forest; he passes the cluster of giant trees shielding ('that shield from sight' imo instead of 'shielding the sight') the sight of his final destination. He steps into the open space in front of the small and poorly built shack. His eyes fill with apprehension as his heart pounds firmly against his ribs. (This sentence has two POVs imo - only and outside observer would see his eyes 'fill with apprehension' only the boy himself can feel his 'heart pound' - also 'firmly' sounds kind of odd imo)Suddenly, the door swings open to reveal the small haggard image (an image is a picture - but she is real - please change this to reflect the reality of the woman) of an old woman walking up towards him. The man stands unwavering from his position as the woman’s dirty and crooked teeth form a gleaming smile across her worn face. How can dirty and crooked teeth from a 'gleaming smile'?

“What an honor it is to have the heir ofto the crown throne in my presence.” Her words sound frail yet her tone is cheery.
Because imo 'heir of the crown' implies he's the son of a metal circlet. Also words can't sound frail. Maybe her voice is frail?
“Am I correct that you’ve come to ask the question which sears upon thy mind?”
The man hides his surprise at her conjecture; he remains stern in form and thought.
“My lady is correct; I do have a query which greatly needs answering.” He controls the tone of his voice but the old woman can see the desperation in his telling eyes.
“My dear boy, ask what you must.”
The man takes in a small breath of crisp cold air before the words leave his lips.
“Am I to have a son?”
A wave of anticipation rinses over his bones as he waits for the woman to speak. She gazes deep into the man's face, as if the answer is written across it. She mulls the question over in her brain for a few more moments before finally speaking.
“But of course, a male son is to be had of you.”
Despite containing the joyous emotions sweeping over his body, a smile can’t help but creep onto his mouth.
“The loss of two unborn daughters must have been of great distress to you.”
The knowledge of such personal events strikes fear into the pit of his stomach.
“How could you know such a thing?” He demands.
“The whispers come to me at will.” She says softly.
“Your fate and that of your ancestry’s are as intertwined as the branches of the great sycamore behind you.” Her wrinkled fingers point to the trees.
“Your destiny is your savoir and taker, it will bestow joy and sadness, birth and death in its wake, the course you take from here will define the future of this land and its people, you must stay wide eyed to the evil which will seep its poison into the fruit of your loins and sever all bonds you hold true.”

The old woman’s gaze begins to drift away from his clutched stare. She stands in place in a silent daze, her arms begin to rise and her hands stretch to the dark sky above. The man marvels at the strange sight before him as the woman moans and speaks in an unknown language to him. Her feeble body shakes with violent force; he fears she’ll collapse at any moment. She remains firm in place with her hands still up in the air, cries continuing to spill from her opened mouth.

“Three are to be born, males of the heir!” She shouts out in her crazed state.
“Distrust will rot the foundations, a dark power will enter!”
The old woman falls to her boney knees with her head bowed, foreign words continue from her lips. The air around them intensifies as a gust of wind swirls through the trees and upon their faces. The man wants to leave, to escape this devilish magic, but the oddity in front of him overpowers.
“Avoid the shadows that will befall you!” She shouts to him, her once weak voice now piercing and clear.
“Save us all a fate of doom! Fight the wicked destiny to follow, fight the one who can’t be trusted!”

All of a sudden, the winds calm, the cries stop, the trembling retreats, and the old woman raises her head and stares directly into the fretful eyes looking back at her. The man cannot form any words together to express the sight he just witnessed.

“The whispers have spoken, you must regard my warnings.” She says calmly still unable to lift onto her feet.
“Go now, go now and chose the destiny that will save us all.”

The man, still unable to speak takes a step back and then another, before turning around completely to start racing back into the black forest.
“Heed me, boy! Heed me!”

The distant pleads from the old woman ring through the night as the man runs towards his awaiting horse. He climbs atop the animal and forces it to run as fast as it can out of the forest.
I stopped there with the line by line after having looked back at what others have said. Needs and deserves some work. Imo putting things slightly more simply would help.

Thanks

minbard
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Old 06-07-2011, 11:07 PM
Prince VJR (Offline)
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Thank you, Minbard! Again, seeing the clear mistakes and improvements needed that I never noticed before. I'm going to have to do some research into using the right POV, I think that will help me better understand the voice of the story, which in turn will read better, more naturally, less forced hopefully.

Thanks also to, eez and AnyaKimlun! I truly appreciate everyone’s opinions, it has been eye opening and will force me to look at how I'm writing, especially if I want to complete this novel, and I really do want to!

I feel that everyone would agree that the story itself is a good idea and intrigues you enough to want to read on, however, its presentation and actual writing needs a lot of work to make it complete? Cheers again everyone!
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