Thursday, July 1, 2010

A dragon at "Share your darlings" blogfest

Michelle at Beautiful Chaos is hosting a "share your darlings" blogfest today. You know how you've had to kill a few of your darlings along the way? Here's a chance to share them, one more time!

Like probably 95% of fantasy readers and writers, I love dragons. This is a snippet from my partial, A Handful of Scars, which I plan to re-write from a traditional high fantasy into a YA historical fantasy set in the days of Atilla the Hun (I think... I'm still brainstorming this). I don't know if I'll save the scene below and try to re-work it into the new novel. I guess, you guys let me know if you think it's worth saving. It was written about 10 years ago, so it was fun to revisit it for today's blogfest.

The main character is sixteen year old Sidain, traveling with her mother after they have been outcast from their town for meddling with forbidden charms (the mother, Meladen has a familiar, a female sprite called Shaiss). While hiding from a band of thieves traveling the same deserted stretch of road, they see the rogues attack another hapless traveler, when.... read the 680 word snippet here:


Meladen grabbed Sidain's arm, almost dragging her off her feet. "Hurry! Follow me."

A thunderous noise crashed through the forest, with a burst of yellow light in the trees that sent sparks showering all over the ground.


The men screamed, and Sidain would have too if her mother hadn't put a spell of silence on her.

"Don't be frightened," Meladen said. "It's Shaiss."

They stumbled out onto the open road, and before her mother pulled her across to the shelter of the trees on the other side, Sidain saw an enormous creature towering over the four rogues and their captive. In the gloom of dusk, the creature glowed bright as fire. Huge wings spread over its back, and a long tail, as thick as a tree trunk, swung out behind it. When its jaws opened, sparks spewed out into the air, reflecting off reptilian eyes. The roar of the beast shuddered through Sidain like a physical blow.

They were in the trees again, and the fiery light of the creature cast shadows all around them. Low tree limbs smacked Sidain in the face as her mother pulled her along after her. The roaring ceased long enough for Sidain to hear the braying of mules. Then they were in the clearing where the thieves had left their wagon. "Quick, climb up into it," her mother told her.

Sidain got into the back and Meladen jumped up to the driver's seat. Before she even picked up the reins she was muttering command spells to the mules. The wagon jolted forward as the mules bolted. Meladen hauled on the reins, turning them onto the road. "I guess we are heading south!" she cried out. The dragon blocked any other direction they might have taken at the crossroads.

Sidain saw the beast turn toward them as the wagon swung out on to the road. She wondered what had happened to the men. A large object hurtled into the wagon, nearly knocking her down. To her relief she saw that it was only a bundle of packs tied together with ropes. A man with no hair and long robes ran behind the wagon. He heaved another object up and into the wagon before the mules outpaced him. The dragon roared and leapt toward the man, claws outstretched.
"Shaiss! No!" Meladen screamed. "Not him!"

The dragon reared up, howling in protest. Somehow the bald old man managed to keep his wits about him. His mule bolted past him, and he grabbed on and hauled himself aboard, practically wrapping himself around the animal to stay on.

The dragon vaulted after the fleeing man, venting sparks and steam.

"Stop!" Meladen commanded in a hoarse voice. "Hunt down the other men! The thieves."

The beast let loose with another hideous bellow. But it stopped and turned, lashing its tail as a final protest. Its leathery wings stretched out to their full width, brushing the trees tops on either side of the road. The dragon took off down the road in the opposite direction, leaving a trail of fire behind it.

Meladen slumped, letting the reins falling slack over the mules' backs. With the open road ahead of them and the dragon behind them, the mules didn't need guidance any more. "Sidain, are you all right?" She released the spell binding Sidain's voice.

"Yes. But that man is still following us."
"I don't think we need to worry about him. He’s just glad to escape the rogues, as we are." Her voice sounded exhausted.
The mules threw themselves into their harness and labored hard as they climbed up out of the valley. Sidain hung on to the edge of the wagon and peered over the edge, back the way they had come. The entire valley forest looked like it was on fire now.

"Will Shaiss come back?" she wondered, out loud.

"Eventually. When she has completed her task."

"What is she really? A woman, or that terrible creature?"

"I don't really know," Meladen muttered, and slapped the reins across the mules' backs again to keep them running.


Okay, seriously now - I'd prefer genuine feedback rather than just kindness. Worth saving? Any suggestions?

16 comments:

  1. Pretty intense scene. It's hard to say whether you should keep it. It depends on its purpose and the relevance to the entire story.

    Sorry i couldn't give you anything specific. Good luck and thanks for sharing.

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  2. I love dragons too! I like the fact that the dragon is mysterious and not controllable - definitely with a mind of her own. I think it's worth saving!

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  3. That was very exciting. I like the hook at the end where its not quite clear how dangerous Shaiss really is.

    Your line: The roar of the beast shuddered through Sidain like a physical blow...was wonderful. I totally felt the roar!

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  4. Oh goodness this is definitely worth saving! You do the actions scenes really well - and I love that it's a mother and daughter and dragon lady!

    The narrative is pushed forward, Shaiss comes into brilliant life and I would read on to see about the mother and daughter relationship here - why has mum put a silence spell on her daughter?

    Take care
    x

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  5. i love fantasy. and now i want to find out who Shaiss really is.

    thanks for playing along. you were right about those two phrases in my darling.

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  6. This was is a fantastic scene. Not sure of its purpose, but it appears to introduce a new character (man rescued from the rogues), show off Shaiss' talents, and establish conflict. Rough guess, I'd say we already met Shaiss, Sidain and Meladen, and know a little something about where they are traveling and why.

    So yeah, I think it worth saving. But as I said, I don't know its purpose in the novel. Needs a littling editing for continuity, but has some good writing techniques in there.

    Steady pace; doesn't lose the surrounding in the heat of action; the dialogue (verbal and non) between Shaiss and Meladen, and Meladen and Sidain keeps the scene plot moving along; there is the mystery of why Meladen thinks the man is ok to join them that sets up an upcoming scene; not to mention that the little sprite Shaiss apparently had a big secret that only Meladen knew about.

    Yeah, loads of intrigue, character and plot building. I'm sure you'll find a way to keep it either in this novel, as a short story, or in something else.

    BTW: I like that this dragon kicks but; isnt cutsy or overly intellectual. She seems highly emotive and dangerous.

    .......dhole

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  7. I think this is worth saving if it was somewhere near the beginning of the work because the action immediately draws a reader in. I guess it depends on its context to the entire work?? I do love how everyone already has their distinct character and role!

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  8. Hi, and thanks for dropping by my blog.

    Very intense and atmospheric scene - could feel the heat, feel the magic in the air!

    Surely a scene worth keeping, and would make for a great secondary opening scene.

    best
    F

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  9. I have a little something for you on my blog! Hope you have a nice day:)

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  10. It was a great action scene. Absolutely worth saving. Can you teach me that silencing spell for kids?

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  11. I think it's worth saving, I love the portrayal of Shaiss, how explained in the end "is she a woman or a monster" and the answer of "I don't know" that is excellently capped after all the action ahead of time. I liked how it worked with the mother-daughter dynamic and it kept some suspense built up for me--great excerpt.

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  12. I liked it! And it seems like an important scene, so why cut it? BTW, I hope you like what you find on my blog today...

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  13. I really liked this scene - definitely dramatic and adrenaline-pumping. Like many have said, without knowing the rest of the story and the purpose of this particular scene, it's hard to give a definitive answer on whether to keep it. But if it serves a purpose, it's well written. I particularly like this line: "The roar of the beast shuddered through Sidain like a physical blow." And I felt the sense of danger and urgency throughout. Nicely done!

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  14. Definitely worth saving. You never know when things will come in handy and this had a nice intensity.

    This gives me a great idea for a hundred followers contest. LOL Thanks! I'm lousy at contest ideas. ;D

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  15. Save it, yes.

    And I have a blog award for you.

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  16. A great first draft and totally worth keeping and reworking. Here's some ideas about the first part of what you posted. Didn't know if this is the kind of comment you wanted, so only did a couple of graphs. Hope this is helpful. The story sounds fascinating.




    They stumbled out onto the open road, and before her mother pulled her across to the shelter of the trees on the other side, [Sidain saw] I'D DELETE THIS an enormous creature [towering] TOWERED over the four rogues and their captive. In the gloom of dusk, the creature glowed bright as fire. [MAYBE A DIFFERENT SIMILE THAT IS FRESHER.]Huge wings spread over its back, and a long tail, as thick as a tree trunk, [AGAIN I'D FIND A SIMILE THAT ISN'T CLICHED.]swung out behind it. When its jaws opened, sparks spewed [out] DELETE into the air, reflecting off reptilian IT'S eyes. The roar of the beast shuddered through Sidain like a physical blow.

    They were in the trees again, and the fiery light of the creature cast shadows [all]DELETE around them. Low tree limbs smacked Sidain in the face as her mother pulled her along after her. The roaring ceased long enough for Sidain to hear the braying of mules. Then they were in the clearing where the thieves had left their wagon. "Quick, climb up into it," her mother told her. [THIS COULD BE MUCH FASTER PACED IF YOU SHORTEN THE SENTENCES, GET RID OF THE "AS HER MOTHER" "THEN" "HAD LEFT" I'D MAKE IT A CHASE SCENE THAT LEAVES THE READER AS WELL AS THE CHARACTERS BREATHLESS.

    ReplyDelete

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