Extract from Chap. 2: ChainWagon

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Extract from Chap. 2: ChainWagon

Postby Rusty Claymore » Tue Nov 16, 2010 12:13 am

I'm posting a clip of my story, and then I'd like you to answer a simple question when you are done reading it. This is something I have been wondering for a while now.
(Sorry for the hard to read format, I cut and pasted from Word...)


No matter how many times you do it, cleaning up after an execution was always… taxing. Clay and the other twelve-year-olds were just finishing the burial detail. The faction's line of work often involved dealing with deceased, naturally or other, so the young member's job was to clean up so that when they were older they could remain functional in messy situations.

The last shovel of dirt finished filling the grave as the marker was hammered into place. It was a tall, thin, stone column. The name was written vertically from the top, "Richard the Dread." Underneath the inscription was a small subscript, "Impenitent Murderer." The man who had placed the marker stood next to it, holding a leather bound book. Everyone stood at attention.

The man looked up, and began to recite. It struck Clay as odd, for the man talked of the shortness of life, saying things like, "A vapor in the wind, grass cut down and thrown in the furnace." In all the other funerals it's been about the joys of heaven or the horrors of hell. So is it just this guy who is different? Clay wondered about this. It was even stranger that the man was reading from a book.

Clay was brought out of his wonderings by the command, "Salute!" All present saluted, looking at the sky. The man with the leather bound scripture's salute came up sluggishly compared to the rest, but it's execution was perfect. A breeze blew through the small group. It played with their hair and uniforms, except for the book man. His black hair and uniform remained perfectly still, as if they were stone or held by a great weight. "Order arms!"

All arms dropped to their associated sides. "Dismissed!" Everyone turned and walked away. But when Clay looked over his shoulder the man was still at the headstone, looking into the sky. When the company got out of the graveyard Clay asked his CO about the man.
"Who was that? And why was he… different?" The CO looked down at Clay. "Hmm, that's right, you haven't ever met a Blackbook Keeper before, have you?"
"No, sir."
"Well, if you want to know, go ask him. Skyrve is good at explaining what he does."
"Yes, sir."
"Skyrve usually sits on the statue of Felix next to the great tree, he's there now. You have my leave, go talk to him."
"Yes, sir. Thank you, sir!" Clay turned toward the direction indicated and started off at a brisk pace. I wonder why nobody else wondered about this Skyrve guy… Surely enough, Clay's squad mates continued on their way till he had rounded a bend and they disappeared from sight. And how does CO know he's there now?

Clay entered the statue garden and looked up. Just as CO said, there he is on the statue. Skyrve sat on the statue's large shoulder. He was so still he seemed to be a part of it. Clay placed himself in front of the statue and waited to be noticed. Almost immediately Skyrve looked down and smiled, "Hello, little one!" His voice was a very pleasant one, and Clay found himself automatically answering, "Morning!"

Skyrve looked up at the evening sky, than back at Clay. He smiled wider and said, "What can I help you with?" Clay had learned a long time ago that the fastest route anywhere was a straight line, so he mustered up the courage and asked, "What's a Blackbook Keeper?" With a sudden movement Skyrve had slid off the statue and landed next to Clay. The fact that the sudden fall did nothing to disrupt the stillness of Skyrve's person made Clay feel uneasy.
"So, you wanna know what I do, huh?" Skyrve said through his smile. I don't think he could do anything to keep that smile off his face! Clay laughed to himself. But what had really caught his attention was Skyrve's eyes. Excitement boiled behind Skyrve's eyes, and it made him seem alive and vibrant despite his creepy over all stillness. This guy is nuts, Clay thought, but I kinda like it…
"Yeah," Clay replied, "I'd really like to know!"
"Alright, I'll show you!" Skyrve reached into his bag and–*BANG*

A transparent figure, who seemed to have gone unnoticed by Clay and Skyrve, jumped at the sudden thunderous noise. It clutched at its chest and breathed heavily as the world around it quickly dissolved into blackness.
"Hah. 'Those who sneak and creep, cannot sleep.' Sneaking around in places forbidden to your kind?" A loud deep voice said.
"What? Uh, no I… Fine. I thought you were asleep. What was that noise?" The figure answered.
"I never sleep when he is not awake," The voice replied. "As for the noise, you will see soon enough. What is it you seek?"
"You said he qualified for a Blackbook Keeper."
"Yes."
"Well, there isn't anything in the databases on qualifications for Keepers."
"Correct. That is because the qualification is not data. It is fact. Perhaps it is better understood as a condition."
"And what is it?" The figure seemed anxious.
"I cannot tell you now, he awakes. Or regains consciousness, rather."
* * *
Clay experienced the strange sensation of waking up in complete darkness. He was under something. Or a lot of somethings… Grr, my arms are stuck! He tried harder to move them, but they were securely pinned. A rush of claustrophobia overtook Clay, and his dreamed memory completely vanished from his thoughts. Unlike most people, instead of freaking out when he was trapped or in pain, Clay would fill with rage. And this time was no different. His new anger brought on by his condition gave him a boost in strength and he overcame the weight on his arms. Some heavy, solid objects thudded down next to him. Now that he could think, he took account of his surroundings.

He was laying on the ground. But it couldn't possibly be ground, because it was bumping and jolting, and it was made of wood. Clay placed his newly freed arms on the floor and pushed up against the weight that remained on his back. He had lifted himself about 6 inches when there was a noise and something solid and heavy slammed his head back into the floor. Ouch! What on earth was… Clay opened his eyes and looked up. Luggage?

So... do you want to read more? If so, how badly do you want to?

Another way to put it: If you picked up a book in the library and opened up to and read this segment, would you check it out?

Please be as honest as you can, this is for science. XD
Proverbs 31:32 "...when she watches anime, she keeps the room well lit and sits at a safe distance."
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Postby Rusty Claymore » Wed Nov 17, 2010 10:22 am

I guess that answers my question! n.n/)
Proverbs 31:32 "...when she watches anime, she keeps the room well lit and sits at a safe distance."
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Postby Esoteric » Wed Nov 17, 2010 2:09 pm

Give it time--the writing forum here is one of the slowest.

But honest answer? No, I wouldn’t keep reading. The writing here just isn’t good enough to snag my interest. The characters felt a bit clichéd and flat, and I haven’t grasped a sense of their world—not enough for me to feel a vested interest in what happens. I’m also left with one too many doubts about character logic:

If Clay is always on burial detail, why hasn’t he seen a Black Book Keeper before? Seems odd. And why would he think it terribly odd that the Keeper speaks about the shortness of life? Clay is constantly dealing with death—the shortness of life should be glaringly present on his young mind. The relationship with the CO seemed a little lax. Most of all why would a Keeper (preacher) shanghai the kid? That just doesn’t seem…well, it’s awfully melodramatic. And I thought the CO knew Skyrve pretty well, so was he expecting his subordinate to get abducted? So, yeah, with these many questions about motives and such already, I’m not really feeling confident that I’ll enjoy reading more.

Sorry to be a downer. There is potential here, but the storytelling needs work. I wish you luck with this. My best advice is to read a lot and really pay attention to how modern authors maintain interest and progress through scenes.
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Postby Rusty Claymore » Wed Nov 17, 2010 2:53 pm

Thanks! I actually just grabbed a random piece out of my chapter, just so I could see what someone who didn't know anything about it saw.
The oddness was in contrast. Others would talk of heavens or hells, this guy had a different view.
No shanghaiing was done, actually... it was a dreamed memory which got interupted. To put enough there to make that clear would have been pushing the length limit a little farther than I'd want. In story time, 15 years had passed since the memory.
Oh, I also notice that all the Italics disapeared, and that makes it really confusing...
Keepers are pretty much mobile hunter/executioners, so they generally don't work on base.
Proverbs 31:32 "...when she watches anime, she keeps the room well lit and sits at a safe distance."
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