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Author Topic: ___/The Writer's Apprenticeship\___  (Read 144631 times)

roseheart

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Re: ___/The Writer's Apprenticeship\___
« Reply #1905 on: April 20, 2019, 03:26:53 pm »

There are lots of numbers, the greatest one is 6.
A Short Story

How many stars are in the sky, Grandpa? 6. Really? There must be more. Count them yourself! 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, ... there, another star! No, you counted that one already. There--- 6, just like I said, don't frown at me child. The truth is often simple.

But Grandpa! Yes child? I have more than 6 fingers! Show me. See! 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and on this hand ... Ah, ah ah. That's a different hand. But. You have 5 here. And 5 here. And 2 hands. But, if I count them together. You can't! Left fingers are different than right fingers, that would make no sense! Now Grandpa is tired.

But Grandpa! I have more than 6 hairs! Really? Count them. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, ... and another! No, you already counted it. Child I grow weary of your nonsense. But Grandpa! What? Nothing.

I have all these hairs. And there are more on my head. Those are pulled hairs, and those are hairs on my head.
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Th4DwArfY1

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Re: ___/The Writer's Apprenticeship\___
« Reply #1906 on: April 20, 2019, 04:26:53 pm »

Nice to see this thread used again!
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Halaratha

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Re: ___/The Writer's Apprenticeship\___
« Reply #1907 on: May 09, 2019, 07:24:07 am »

There are lots of numbers, the greatest one is 6.
A Short Story

How many stars are in the sky, Grandpa? 6. Really? There must be more. Count them yourself! 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, ... there, another star! No, you counted that one already. There--- 6, just like I said, don't frown at me child. The truth is often simple.

But Grandpa! Yes child? I have more than 6 fingers! Show me. See! 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and on this hand ... Ah, ah ah. That's a different hand. But. You have 5 here. And 5 here. And 2 hands. But, if I count them together. You can't! Left fingers are different than right fingers, that would make no sense! Now Grandpa is tired.

But Grandpa! I have more than 6 hairs! Really? Count them. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, ... and another! No, you already counted it. Child I grow weary of your nonsense. But Grandpa! What? Nothing.

I have all these hairs. And there are more on my head. Those are pulled hairs, and those are hairs on my head.

Thanks for sharing! I enjoyed this even if it's not what I'd typically read. Maybe the message of the story is unclear to me, or maybe I'm easily bored but the repetition beyond the first two sections of counting didn't add much more to me. Beyond that the big one - speech marks for each character to differentiate who's speaking would really help me on a first glance. Cheers!
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Th4DwArfY1

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Re: ___/The Writer's Apprenticeship\___
« Reply #1908 on: May 09, 2019, 09:26:04 am »

The wind blew cold that night.

Illien stamped his boots and eyed the nearby signal-fire longingly. Here in the North, where the stars burned crystalline and bright, it was always cold. Sometimes, he had heard, the trees even exploded.
His Empire’s latest conquest was a strange place.

Damnation. Illien shuffled closer to the flames. Night vision be cursed – if the enemy killed him, he would at least die warm.

Before him, the North stretched into the distance. Its hills were scored, its fields ravaged by the enemy General and his savages.

If Illien squinted, he could just see where the old fox had fallen. A distant hill on the path to the Pass, studded with pine trees. Pinpricks of light spoke of fires nearby. The savages saying goodbye to their leader?

And why not, Illien thought. His hand caressed the hilt of his standard-issue sentry blade. They pose no threat to the Pass. And if they did…

He snorted. The Empire’s sentries did more than raise alarms. If there was an attack, he would do his duty.

Settling back into a watchful stupor, he felt the flames lick the chill from his back. Sleep tempted him, but he had long since mastered that impulse, and so he was awake as the fires below snuffed out, one by one. The night seemed deeper as each was extinguished.

After an hour only one was still alight. And it was moving. He watched it fade in and out of focus, following the land’s contours. Then it passed from his view.
More time passed in idleness. A nocturnal hunter howled. The cold heightened, reminding Illien of his training. March or die, he had been told, so he began a narrow circuit of his post. As an afterthought he eased his sword in its scabbard.

He had only managed three circuits before a sharp wash of light stabbed into his eyes. Crying out, he drew his blade, blinking into the harshness.
Suddenly, the light was gone, and all was black.

In the void, he heard the scuff of boots. A drawn-out hiss – a torch being extinguished? – and a quiet sigh. And then someone spoke.

“Bezren. Sorry.”

Illien whirled towards the voice. It was old and scratchy, a man. He strained his ears but heard nobody and nothing else. The air held only the scent of woodsmoke.

Eyesight was returning quickly. “Who’s there,” he demanded of a misshapen blob. He spoke with hard authority, as though addressing a raw recruit, but his palms were damp.

A pause.

“I am a messenger, journeying through Homefields. I… bring a precious burden across valley and Pass” came the hesitant reply. A Northman’s tone and cadence.

What strange trick was this? Were others creeping towards him as he stood distracted, unable to add his powders to the signal-fire? Did the man carry a knife, to stick him with as he stood blinded?

But no.

As sight returned, Illien finally saw his adversary. An old man, stooped under a weighty-seeming pack and dressed in garish clothes. The wind continued to blow across their barren outcrop; they were alone.

“You bring a message?” he asked.

The man didn’t reply, and Illien awkwardly re-sheathed his sword. Perhaps the man was simply touched.

He stepped forward.

“Turn back” he said, not unkindly. “Our Emperor has claimed this site; no one is allowed through.” A bit premature to say “our,” but the Empire liked to adopt the language of the future. Besides, Illien had spied the size of the force mustering around the encampment behind him in the Pass. A final shove of the dagger, and his words would be true.

“No,” the man responded. “For I am a patch, but I was made cloth. See?” and he dropped his dead torch to lift an arm, revealing the patches of his clothes. Each was a different colour, but they formed one whole. One cloth.

The sentry frowned, and the man broke into a toothy grin.

“I am a single colour, Hazar Ba’lam made us into one cloth. My message is to honour him, and his effects to bring home across the mountains into the further part of the Homefields, where his relatives still live. The land your… Empire… now holds.”

“Ba’lam? Your General.” The sentry shook his head. “You must know that I cannot let you past. It is my duty to stand and warn or guard, as events decree. Do not make me choose one.”

The messenger was silent, his face caught in the flickering flames. Finally, he responded.

“General, you say, and Ba’lam led us in war it is true.” The man’s Empire diction was improving as he spoke, and his voice expressed sadness.

He continued. “That was not our word for him, though, we called him Father and he united us under him. Homefields were our home, he was our father, and my brothers and sisters and I made war with him to protect our house and our kin. Until your Father sent his sons, and they killed him.”

The surreal nature of this encounter suddenly gripped Illien, and he snapped out a stern rebuke. “The Emperor is beyond reproach, fool. Turn back now and you will live.”

Another silence. The man’s clothes stirred in the biting wind.

“You serve your Father out of duty,” he said at last, “and this is as should be, but I do not sense love. We loved our Father, and he loved us. Our duty was a passion which we could not contain, and we
would burn the world for him. We burned our world.”

His voice turned gentle, as though he were speaking to a petulant child.

“No man is beyond reproach, not a one, though duty – or love – may tell us otherwise.”

Illien suddenly grew weary of this game of words and passed a hand over his face. The Northman would not relent, but equally he could not muster the desire to physically turn him away. He was an old man alone in the cold. What could Illien do?

With an irritated grunt, he stomped over to the signal-fire. The powders called to him, but he moved past the flames and stood looking over the North once more. The Homelands. They were truly ravaged and scarred, the blush of approaching dawn doing nothing to soften their lines. The Northman followed more slowly, but eventually he, too, looked over the land below.

As Illien was beginning to suspect was his habit, the Northman launched immediately into speech.

“I remember when this was green, and sheep crowded the slopes with their whiteness, when shepherds thronged to the pastures and maidens to the orchards. My childhood was spent in rivers and brooks and lakes, and waterfalls fell like sheets of silver beneath the sun. In days such as these, when the mountaintops were kissed with snow, the lakes would freeze and we would slip and slide and laugh upon the ice.

“We had chosen a different Father then, and he loved us well. He, too, is dead, though in his bed many years ago. How he, Jez’ran, would weep to see his home as it is now, to see his children wander a fruitless earth. It is enough to break a heart. Or a family.”

His breath plumed into the air, and the silence stretched on as Illien tried to think of something to say. Despite himself, he had begun to feel pity for the man.

The Northman himself broke the silence.

“Let me go, friend, to cross the mountains. Tomorrow, I do not doubt that this land we look on will be your Empire. My brothers and sisters are dead or broken, and what I carry is the only eulogy which will ever be sung for them. My Father’s papers, his words and thoughts, these may survive if brought to the right hands. If…”

He stopped, and Illien was shocked to see a tear on his gnarled cheek.

“If their words do not survive, my family may as well have not existed, and we will be viewed as nothing more than animals, savages.”

Savages. Had Illien truly given them that name himself, only a matter of hours ago?

“This is my duty, my labour of love, and I will finish it or I will die.”

The Northman nodded to himself, decisively, and began to plod towards the Pass once more. Illien froze, then gripped his sword hilt, fingers white. At the first corner, the man turned around and met Illien’s eyes. It was not far. Illien could still do his duty.

He sighed instead. “Hang to the east of the Encampment; it is against the mountain wall, and patrols rarely bother to cover it,” he said, surprising even himself. Had the Northman truly beaten him with nothing but words and a tear?

Was the price of his honour truly so low?

The man nodded once and then was gone, leaving behind him nothing but a confused man and a biting wind.
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Halaratha

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Re: ___/The Writer's Apprenticeship\___
« Reply #1909 on: May 09, 2019, 02:59:41 pm »

I'd love to see a version of this where Illien isn't merciful - I think that would be an interesting twist.
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Halaratha

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Re: ___/The Writer's Apprenticeship\___
« Reply #1910 on: May 15, 2019, 04:52:46 am »

Hey hey , sorry to double - post. I wrote the beginning of a story based on Plot Armour (the way main characters can't die to a nameless goon for example). The premise is that if you say this litany, your life is thereafter owned by the Gods who write for as long as your story lasts.
===III===

 Amril the Damned.


“Scribe, Vixen, Key, Hammer, Reader let it be now as it once was,” he whispered. The pull at his chains stopped and he stopped with it as hands turned him roughly the right way. Just remember the words. Don’t shaft the order. Say it right. Ignore the rest. Just like Kinter told you. “Take me into the black. Rend my fate from the unknown chaos-” the blindfold came off then. “-bring me to Order and choose me for your work.”

He squinted through the blue-tint of the castle courtyard. It was Igor van Delte before him, shrouded in the morning. Goddamn Igor van Delte of all people there standing opposite in the gravel that dug into your naked heels and made wet sloshes as you sunk in. Igor van Delte had shoes. Igor van Delte had medals.

What comes next? For fuck’s sake. There was a deep set pit down somewhere in him now. And he tried his best. Two more lines came to him through the memories of those afternoons in red cloaks and bronze gauntlets. “For though I am not worthy, and I’ve given no time or effort of my own, I make now my plea and offer my pledge to be a man of the pages for as long as you so shall desire.”

He looked out onto the high walls and the pale white morning sky that felt so wrong. Something fell and grated and the weight fell off him. He felt lighter. The chains were off. He rubbed his wrists.

“It’s been a fine few weeks, Amril. A fine few. Farewell.”

He recognized the voice. It was the one he’d played cards with, who he’d taken for six gilded bears and two silvers that he still had somewhere in his pockets. ‘You’re a right cheat, Amril. Where you’re going you don’t need money’. To which he’d said ‘go on then, wage me for the cell key. Go on. I dare you’, and the guard had only laughed, and given him another contraband beer. Yttriy was it? Guard Captain Yttriy? The limping frame shifted off to one side and didn’t look back. It was him.

“I am your hero, or your villain. I am yours to keep or to kill. To the Scribe I pledge to never presume my actions mine own. I thank Him for his Trials. To the Vixen I pledge to never sink but to try with all my might as She has done to save our lands. By the Key-”

 And then what? What about the key? When did I last hear this litany? In the high steppes? When? Eight years? Ten? More? People dreaded the litany there. They knew what it meant to say it, and to really mean it. The litany to the Gods of Black and White. It was High Armourer Kinter who’d given him the words out there in the sparse woods where the grass grew thin and the granite rocks jutted out like giant barbs on the hills between the pines. Three left. The Key pledge, the Hammer pledge and the Reader.

“Never start it unless you plan to finish. They are the Gods of Black. Never say it in vain. Better men than you have, and you’ve heard how that ends,” Kinter had said.

“Thank you for your faith in us, High Armourer, and for all your help,” Amril had replied then. “Gods willing it’ll be a short war. I’ll do as you commanded, and the Armourers will always be welcome in our King’s council.” But it hadn’t been a short war. The siege had gone wrong, hadn’t it? It was before he’d known.

He could remember the way the High Armourer flung his hood back, surrounded by the boulders and the hills and pines and then slapped him, a colonel with all his finery, on the back so hard that he jingled. “Well now. That’s enough pledging and honour and swearing. Let’s go eat. The food’s shit down in Polto, and shitter the further you go.”

“That’s the least of my worries now,” said Amril.

“And that’s the most heretical thing you’ve said all day.”

But now the row of soldiers parted and he was back here, now, with half a litany in the castle courtyard. And van Delte stepped through the salutes towards him with his sword at his side and a flask.  He stepped up to the prisoner and blocked out the sun, then held something out. It was the flask. He took it from Igor van Delte and felt it burn deep heat all the way down. Brandy. Good brandy. Al-Zadrian brandy.

“You’re a sad-looking prick aren’t you, Amril.”

He took a break from the flask and wiped his face. It burned. It was worst where it all scabbed over. They weren’t deep cuts. They’d heal. If only he’d had time to let them heal. “Piss off.”

“Those your last words? To me? After everything? Piss off? Have an imagination, Colonel Amril and don’t die a sad prick behind enemy lines.
You’ve had days to prepare. Give them something they can at least write songs about.”

“Die? I was hoping you’d got me out in front of your nice people with their sub-standard rifles to give me a pardon.”

“I’m afraid not.”

“Now it makes sense why you got the good brandy out. Go on.” Amril tossed the empty flask aside. “Let’s do it then. Get it over with.”

“I wanted to tell you I think you’re a humorless bastard,” said van Delte.

“A real achievement to be considered that by you, animal-fucker.”

“I’ll miss you, Amril. You know you almost got me at the Derne Bridge? I saw you up there, maybe not fifty paces.”

Amril shrugged. “I need a piss. Either kill me or don’t.”

Van Delte turned. So he whispered when he was sure the man who’d recognize at least some of the words wouldn’t hear.

“By the Key I pledge to know my place and remember I will end, for it has the power to give and take away, to add and to annihilate.”

The man clad in navy splendour reached the line of soldiers who looked almost unreal here in the sunlight, their faces dark, all alike. Mirrored. Please. Please let me be right. The order was given and the riflemen reloaded. The bolts slid home on fresh rounds. Rounds stolen from his munitions. I’ll die by my own damn bullets. Amril focused on the closest man. Two pledges. You have only two. “By the Hammer I pledge to forge my path, to bring glory and joy to the Gods of Black and White as the hammer brings to the arena.”

“Aim!” The rifles came down level and it was then that van Delte’s sabre gleamed a white crescent in the blaze of the sun.

“And to the Reader I pledge my memory, and stand before them naked in all that I am.” Amril stepped forward, arms outstretched.

“Fire!”

And the line detonated. The rifles struck the rounds and bulged as they tried to fire. They ignited. And the build quality never was quite right, was it? In a split second steel buckled and eviscerated the men firing into a red cloud as the ammo turned defective and ripped itself free through the steel and slammed its way through flesh. How deep can we go? Through your skull? Your eyes? Out through the top of your head? How deep? Can we make it all the way through? Can we? Now Amril has plot armour. You can’t kill him, you don’t have names in this story. And only someone with a name who’s a main character can kill him. Just like Kinter said. When he said the words his fate was sealed in black and white. For better or for worse, he’s a plaything of the Gods who write. The Gods of Black and White.

And Amril watched as the faces of his firing squad melted in shrapnelled metal and heard the screams and the guttural chokes. There was one man standing. There. Third from the left. One is always given a blank cartridge, isn’t he? It’s a tradition, isn’t it, that one man is not the executioner. And Amril forgot about the gravel, ran and barrelled through him past the bayonet to wrestle it free. One rifle. I need just a clear shot. He yanked the rifle and buried the bayonet deep into the last man. Black chunks fell and slopped from the wound as Amril roared and pulled the bayonet through with chalk-board vibrations where it jammed into bone and held. He reloaded and fired. The man’s torso exploded into chunks that wrenched the bayonet free in a sickening crunch. He reloaded again. It was empty.

Of course it will be empty, thought Amril. That would be too easy. So he dropped the gun and ran, and wasn’t surprised when there was a horse in the stable saddled or when the gate happened to be open. You’ve done it now, Amril. You’re the Scribe’s plaything now. And the Scribe is writing, oh yes. He’s tapping the keys, though they’re not any keys you’ve ever seen. He’s taken notice of you, Amril. The moment you started speaking the litany he started writing your fate. And he won’t stop until either you’re dead or the story is done.




« Last Edit: May 15, 2019, 05:04:15 am by Halaratha »
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itisnotlogical

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Re: ___/The Writer's Apprenticeship\___
« Reply #1911 on: May 18, 2019, 02:54:10 am »

I wrote some. Trying to combine ideas that have been rattling around in my head for many, many years in the hopes that they add up to a complete, interesting story.

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Levity

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Re: ___/The Writer's Apprenticeship\___
« Reply #1912 on: May 22, 2019, 08:53:35 am »

That's really cool logical! I love the mixed-media/prose posing as internet at the beginning. Never seen that before, it's an awesome idea!

I would say there's a lot going on in the next section though! It's actually all really solid, but just overwhelming. The idea of news being so impersonal in reality is super interesting and could probably warrant an entire book on it's own! I would suggest practicing slowing down your writing and focusing on one thing at a time, because you clearly have some great ideas.

Here's a chapter from something I'm working on. I know it needs a bit of extending because there's some pacing problems:
Spoiler (click to show/hide)

I posted a little bit on here as SirFinbar in the past.
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