Monday, September 27, 2010

Public Humiliation

So, I have been on the blogosphere for only two days, and public humiliation sounds like it could be a terrible idea, but I don't want to miss Le R.'s Public Humiliation Uncontest.

Sadly, I didn't keep diaries as a teenager. Whenever I tried, I'd forget within a week, and they would get lost. Now I wish I had, because posting from that might have been a lot less humiliating than what follows. I was a rather healthy, non-angsty teen, really.

So instead I'll dig out one of the very first thing I wrote, in which I probably do every writerly mistake possible. I loved my adverbs. I refused to use 'said'. I couldn't even ponctuate the dialogue right. I introduced five characters in rapid succession and proceeded to jump POVs. I used Arial, and even coloured their words!

I loved these stories, and in a way I still do, but oh boy, have I come a long way.

And now... *takes a deep breath*


The five halfling brothers stopped at the town’s edge, their muscles crying for a break. They had walked for days and nights, resting only for a few hours before moving on. They were fleeing their homes with all the speed they could muster, yet their hearts also demanded a stop. Their minds, however, protested: if they remained here, at the edge of the Calimshan desert, they would still be well within reach of the Banites.
            “We have to go on.” Daniel stated, scanning his exhausted brothers.
            “Go on?” Milan repeated, his voice taking a whiny tone. “I don’t want to!”
            Second youngest of the Masset family, Mil was only eleven years old. They had walked all day, and all the day before that, and now his tiny legs refused to do any more. He should’ve been in school now, learning write and count. He’d liked school, but now it’d been left far, far behind.
            “Neither do I, Mil, but this area’s dangerous for us.” Dan replied firmly, putting a reassuring hand on his small brother’s shoulder.
            Daniel was the second son, and he used to go fishing and hunting with his father, learning the trades that had been the Masset family’s only source of revenue. Gifted with dark brown hair, hazelnut eyes and a strong muscular frame, he had equalled many humans in both strength and endurance. Yet even he found the non-stop days of travel straining, and he could only imagine what it was like for his weaker brothers.
            “Walking’s deadly boring.” Calleran stated, crossing his arms. “There’s nothing in it to keep our minds off what happened, and that’s what has been killing us.”
            Cal was the third and middle brother – and the family’s oddity. Uninterested in either Yondalla or fishing, the blond-haired halfling had taken to luck games at a very young age. He had shamelessly spent his days and nights gambling instead of helping his parents and – to his two older brothers’ horror – he had now began praying Tymora, a human goddess of luck.
            “You just want to play at the local tavern!” Dan exclaimed, exasperated at his brother’s attitude. These were serious matters, yet sometimes it seemed like Calleran had no idea what that meant.
            “And you just want to walk until you collapse!” Cal countered immediately. “That’s how you escape it, eh? Let sweet darkness take over through sheer exhaustion, and all will be fine! But we’re not all –“
            “Stop it, both of you!” Leeroy interrupted them loudly. The Masset family’s senior brother, Lee had long brown hair and starkling blue eyes. He looked immensely like his father, but had inherited in great part from his mother’s character and interests. In the past few days, it had fallen on Lee’s shoulder to take both their places and be the brothers’ only authority figure.
            “Calleran is right. We have to rest for the night.” He stated with a sigh, before raising a hand to prevent Daniel from protesting. “Look at Sammy. He used to be impossible to put to bed, and yet he fell asleep in my arms hours ago. He needs a real bed and a good night of rest, and I think it’d do us all some good. We’re tensed and strained to the limit.”
            For three hours now, Leeroy had carried his youngest brother in his arm, bearing with the additional weight without a word. Sammy had been the last surprise arrival, and by far the most active of the five brothers. He’d learned to walk sooner than any of them, and was soon constantly running around the house. More than once, Lee had taken him out in town to give his two parents a break from the constantly moving kid. Since they had come back to find the house burnt to a crisp, however, Sam had had the energy of a slug.
            “But Leeroy, we don’t have a coin left.” Dan remarked gently. A glance at his six-year-old brother had sufficed to calm him.
            “I know. I’ll work for it.” Lee replied, and it was clear from his tone that this was not up for discussion.
            “Maybe I could –“ Cal started eagerly anyway, only to be cut off immediately.
            “No, Cal! I am not relying on your supposedly infallible luck to put a roof over our heads and a good meal in our stomachs!” Lee snapped, barely controlling the tone of his voice.
            Calleran looked down, biting his lips and flushing. He was only trying to help the best he could, but he always got the same reaction from his older brother. They clearly didn’t think he could be of any use in this. Next to him, looking much like Dan’s hand was the only thing keeping him standing, Milan groaned and mumbled “Food…”
            “Let’s go.” Leeroy said, sighing. He regretted his words now, but Cal had to stop relying so much on his luck. One day, it would fail him. Securing Sammy more comfortably in his arms, he took the lead and entered the desert-border town.


  1. Most excellent! Yes, I favored descriptive dialogue tags, too. And what is it with High Fantasy being the go to for everyone's first attempt? (Well, maybe not everyone. But srsly, almost everyone I know started their first book in an unpronouncable imaginary world with an evil overlord. And orphans. Always with the orphans. LOTR meets Star Wars, I guess.)

  2. It's probably because a lot of us used to devour high fantasy novels as kids. I know I read LotR at least a dozen times. Then at the end of my teenager years, I discovered roleplaying.

    At first I only wrote during online RP, but then I started my own stories. All of my early texts (this one included) are set in the Forgotten Realms.

    I still write fantasy, some of it is high fantasy. Not all of my ideas include elves and dwarves and epic magic, but some do, and they get the same love than the others.

  3. Seriously though, this is, like, so much better than what's in our Query Inbox, adverbs and all. At least all your sentences are sentences!

  4. Gotta love hazelnut eyes. ;)

    I think I tried this same trick with colored dialog once. But I was in my all black website phase and it gave anyone who read it an instant headache.

  5. @Le R.: They are sentences because by then, I had actually learned to speak English. Sadly, I could not get my hands on even older texts, where my sentences are 'French with English words in it'. They are forever gone.

    @J.A.: The coloured text is a direct heritage from roleplaying. We do that to easily identify our characters, and I kept it in my writing for a long time.

  6. Welcome to the blogosphere :)

    Come now, don't be too hard on yourself... like Le R said, I have read MUCH, MUCH WORSE from supposedly "seasoned" writers. So, yay for talent :D

  7. I would keep reading it! Cal's my favorite. Gotta love the oddities. I hope he doesn't turn out to be the shady one who back stabs his own family. (Just keep him away from the Turkish Delights and he should be fine.)

  8. @Steph: Yay for talent indeed, and I'm happy to see you include me in that. ;)

    @Cacy: Cal's actually the center character in this, in fact, and no, he doesn't go on being the backstabby traitor, don't worry. These brothers spent their time fighting with each other, but they were a tight group anyway. (And here I am, rambling on again. ^^ The writing's bad, but I loved these characters).