Wednesday, March 26, 2008

I am Nervous.

I have read the following words hundreds and hundreds of times, and I am conviced that they are either thoroughly putrid, each one of them diseased and wrong, or I am so intimately familiar with the material that I have lost objectivity. This is the first page of my book. Agents are reading it. Should I be worried? Or should I just chill out?


The sun was cheerful, the sky was full of clouds, and the birds sang out through the forest.

None of it matched the old man’s mood.

He stomped up the path of the tree-filled vale, muttering to himself, and spearing his walking stick into the ground with each step. He ignored the balmy feel of the warm day on his skin, he ignored the faint scent of spring wildflowers, and he ignored the swish of old leaves around his ankles. Despite the calming beauty of the woodlands around him, he knew he was about to face a situation that called for focus, and courage, and righteous anger. He followed the path towards the edge of the woods until he saw an opening between the trees, and in the sunny clearing beyond, he got his first glimpse of the hill.

The hill from his dream.

The green mound stood stark against the blue sky, like the upper half of some monstrous egg. A light breeze sent waving ripples of grass chasing after one another, over the hill’s surface and across the clearing. To the old man’s eye, the hill was too round, too symmetrical, too unnatural. Just as strange in real life as it had been in his dream. It caused him to shudder, but he shook it off. Now was not the time for nervousness; it was the time for daring. He squared his narrow shoulders and burst out of the shade of the trees, scanning the clearing for what his dream had shown him he would find. Aged though they were, his eyes were still sharp, and they locked onto the creatures instantly.

They were Duergarr, dark-skinned dwarves, and there were two of them.


Ray Veen said...

Another factor to consider, have I fiddled with them too much, losing the natural rhythms and cohesion along the way?

Anonymous said...

I know what it's like to agonize over every word of your writing, and lose that objectivity.

First, I would like to note that this isn't really my genre, either for reading or writing. I've read Tolkien, and that's about it.

Ok, nothing in the writing stood out to me as awkward or drew my attention away from the story. The only thing was that my brain wanted a semicolon after "unnatural", but that's just how I was reading it.

As far as the story, it seems pretty good, starts off with the action, raises lots of questions. The only thing that I wanted was a little something about the old man, some character trait or personality quirk you could work in there, to help me decide if I give a damn whether he lives or dies.

Well, that's all for now. Keep up the good work.

Mary O. Paddock said...

Hi Ray,

I absolutely understand your worries. I can't tell you how many times I've returned to my own work, sometimes long after I've subbed it fretting about the errors I've newly spotted. We all do this. But you have to know that nothing any of us ever writes is perfect. I'm sure by now you've done enough reading to spot flaws in even your favorite books.

Since you're already subbing this, how much do you really want to know? I'm happy to point out a couple of things, but I don't want to give you more than you're looking for.


Ray Veen said...

Thanks for the positive strokes, ATBBS (you have a long name). I get into some dialog and stuff on page two that I think niftily addresses those concerns. BTW, I really really envy your writing style. It seems effortlessly expressive.

Others here might want to check it out.

And for those of you who don't know, Mary here is a moderater on The Untitled Forum for writers and does a bang up job of critique. So thanks for the offer and the sympathy, Mary, but at least for today, I'll have to pass. Don't think I could take it right now. You ever feel that way? It's like, anything you might point out would cause what little faith I have left in my story to crumble. I know it's mostly mental, so I'm restraining myself from any tinkering - for the next few weeks anyway.

Three agents are considering partial manuscripts at the moment(that they've requested), so it's a tad late to do any more editing.


Mary O. Paddock said...

Thanks Ray.

By the way, you are writing the next book while you're waiting, aren't you? Aren't you? Hmm?

Ray Veen said...

Absolutely. I was on page 107 yesterday. I've been thinking of posting a thing or two on the forums.

Which is something I am curious about.

If I had posted the section above on 'The Commited', would you hae moved it to 'Rorschack's Scrapbook'? I'm usually a big lurker when it comes to critting, but the one excerpt I did put up on TUF I put in Rorschack's... because of the Bible verse where Jesus says that when you go to a dinner you should take the most humble seat. That way you won't be embarrassed by being asked to move down - or you might be honored by being asked to move up.

Roo said...

It read rather well. Just be careful with the run-ons and where you are putting and.

Despite the calming beauty of the woodlands around him, he knew he was about to face a situation that called for focus, and courage, and righteous anger.

VeeFlower said...

As you know, this is not my genre either. However, I don't see anything obviously wrong. As a matter of fact, I am drewn in by the mystery of the dream and the quest. I am also a little excited because I already know where this is going and I think this is an excellent story. I don't think anyone can really predict what an agent will see in it. If you change it, some agents will be turned on, some may be turned off. It's a crap shoot once your writing gets to this higher level. The only thing I can say is that I would love to see this published because I think it's an intriguing and unique story that would win you a lot of fans.

Ray Veen said...

Thanks for the writing tip, roo, but in the interests of varying flow and rhythym, sometimes the ear demands a longer sentence. You wouldn't notice at typical reader speeds unless you were reading out loud.

Believe it or not, this is important, and it is a technique that agents use to distinguish between a novice and more experienced writer.

And it starts on page one.

And Veeflower, thank you for the encouragement, it's exactly what I need right now.