First attempt at a proper fantasy story

HobbeBrain

It's getting better, man!
If my memory serves me well, it is on this board that I made my first post on this forum, and it is today that I return.

Well, this is the first time I've really showed anyone any stuff that I've written and it's only because Hermy (or 'Rumford' as some of the hip new kids might know him) that I'm posting it, but... here goes. This is the first story I've written concerning a fantasy world that, till now, I've only made notes on here or there, and only recently did I actually decided to type something out about it. Along with that, I also drew a map of the world, an idea that I shamelessly stole from Hermit's thread here, as he well knows. Here it is:



The following story takes place in Skelmhein... I hope you enjoy. (note - it's a bit long)

Chapter One
Vinny sluggishly flopped his body onto the cold, splintered wood that constituted his front door. Lazily tracing his finger up the door to the lock, he ran it through the dry cracks and grooves that had burst their way out of the wood, as if the door itself was making a very slow and laboured attempt to explode. These days, the door was less of a solid plank than a tightly compacted pile of sawdust.


Eventually, his finger reached the lock. Slightly misjudging its precise position in the door, he ran his finger just past it and straight into the path of a particularly discourteous splinter that seemed to have been eagerly awaiting the chance to propel itself from the depths of its dusty confines and embed its maliciously sharp length right into the fleshy knuckle of an unsuspecting door-user.


"Sh*t" mumbled Vinny. His body convulsed angrily in response, and he felt the copious amounts of ale currently sloshing round his belly do the same a few seconds later. He quickly thrust his finger into his mouth and began to suckle tenderly, as if to shield it with motherly compassion from the splinter-related horrors of the outside world.


With his other hand, he dug into the pocket on his tunic to withdraw his heavy iron key. Not that it was really of much use anymore; the door, and indeed roof, walls, and windows of the house were now so dolefully weather-beaten by generations of exposure to the harsh winds and pummelling rain that frequently tore their way through his mountain village that any prospective burglar should have no real trouble overcoming these woefully outdated obstructions, and the act of locking and unlocking a door every night was really just a formality. After one or two false starts, Vinny finally managed to ram the key into the coarse iron lock. The familiar rumbling clicks that the key's serrated edge made as it slid over and interlocked with the door's inner mechanisms released a glow of comfort into Vinny's body, momentarily numbing the effects of the blisteringly cold currents of air that ripped through the night sky that could not be countered even by the powerful effects of his beer coat.


This feeling of warm hospitality burnt softly within Vinny whilst he forced the door open with a satisfyingly firm judder. It stayed with him whilst he relocked the door and stamped the grey-brown sludge that had once been snow off of the lining his thick fur boots. It stayed with him even when he threw his long coat over the white horn that had been bolted into the wall to serve him as a rudimentary hook, and it only left him when he turned around to see his mother standing, arms crossed and lips unmistakeably pursed, in the hallway behind him.


"Oh" said Vinny.


"'Oh' indeed" she replied.

"Well" he said, looking irreverently round the inside of the ill-lit house, suddenly finding intense interest in the most mundane of wall cracks and stray pieces of straw in order to avoid meeting his mothers hostile gaze. "Off to bed then"


"I don't think so, Vinny" she said. The sternly authoritative edge in her voice was enough to send a pained shiver down the spine of even her self-indulgently rebellious son. "We need to talk".

"Talk?" Vinny moaned, swinging his arms down to his knees in exasperation "but it's so late!"

"I know!" his mother said, the hints of satisfaction unmistakeable in her otherwise purely accusatory tone. Vinny frowned and quietly clenched his fists as he realised he'd unwittingly provided solid evidence for the argument against him that he'd heard all too many times before.

"Well, it's not that late..." he began in a flurried attempt to save himself from the onslaught that was to come, but it was too late, and his mother, jabbing her finger aggressively into the air, had begun her almost nightly tirade.

"Vinny, I am absolutely sick to death of your completely unacceptable behaviour. I know you've never cared much for putting any effort in - couldn't be bothered with school, couldn't be bothered to learn tree felling from your Fa - you've never even shown anything as much as a vague interest in any other skill or hobby except going out boozing with your mates every bloody night. And you know, I thought that with your father moving out of the village to Skarvendale, you might finally - finally -buck your ideas up and take his place as the man around the house. But no! Here you are, two months later, still the same old useless, skill-less, drunken lout that comes storming into my house every night at well past midnight, waking me up before I have to work - because you certainly won't - and, despite contributing what I can frankly only describe as sweet f*ck-all to the running of this household, still refusing to start learning a skill, paying rent, or even helping out around the house a bit! Something here doesn't seem to add up"


Vinny's mother ended her well-practised speech and tapped her foot, looking at Vinny expectedly. Vinny himself had just finished subtly mouthing his mother's lecture as she'd said it to see how much of it had become embedded in his drunken memory as she'd rehearsed it to him over the past few weeks. She seemed to have changed to 'buck your ideas up' from 'pick up your slack', but the basic rhetoric and message of the piece remained fundamentally unchanged.


In the same way that his mother had taken a long time to perfect (what she believed to be) her damning yet thought-provoking lecture, Vinny had had a fair while to construct his perfect response. As he did every night, he mimed his well rehearsed act of squinting as if in disbelief, unable to possibly comprehend his mother's point of view in the situation. In a sense, this was his greatest act in the whole charade, as he understood it completely, just didn't care. After this, he raised a hand in an violently angry manner and looked ready to crush his mother's argument into oblivion, leaving little but some charred ash on the floor and his triumphant figure standing with his arms on his hips.


However, just as abruptly as this wave of fury appeared to hit him, he appeared to then be hit by one of remorse. His hand lowered and he threw his hands up as part of a floppy, helpless shrug, staring dismally at the floor all the while. He gave a quick intake of breath, as if reinvigorated with a new argument, but then waved his hand dismissively, and, to round off the act, wore a defeated and vulnerable look on his young face and turned away from his mother to face the door, arms folded in defensive self-pity.


This was usually all it really took to convince his mother to drop her angry facade, sigh heavily, and insist that this was all for his own good and that she'd see him in the morning. On nights when he'd really p*ssed her off, like when he threw up on the mogryr-pelt coat she'd got for her birthday a few days before, he occasionally had to throw in the action of burying his head into his hands and loudly declaring "what am I doing with my life?!", but on the whole, these short actions seemed to effectively wipe his record clean, allowing him to go and do the exact same thing the very next day.


"That's why we've decided to send you to Draemundor"


That wasn't what normally happened.


Vinny span round in sharp shock, mouth hanging open in a terrible mixture of disgust and disbelief.


"I'm sorry. What?"

His mother continued relentlessly, showing not a shred of the guilt she'd shown on so many other nights before.

"Your father and I have been writing to each other you know, Vinny. He's about as impressed with you as I am, and frankly, we've both decided that something needs to be done. So we've made arrangements and there's a wagon coming to pick you up tomorrow"

"A wagon?" Vinny stammered "to Draemundor?" The utter unexpectedness of the news seemed to have sent him into such a state of shock that he was no longer capable of forming his own words, instead having to borrow other people's to communicate.

"Yes, Vinny..." his mother sighed, and casually examined the back of her hand. She didn't seem angry or vindictive anymore, just tired.


"So - so - so what in Brol's name am I supposed to do when I wind up in Draemundor?!" exclaimed Vinny, swinging his arms out wildly "Just knock on the big old gates and say, 'Oh, hey there, one skinny, inexperienced nineteen-year-old looking to start a new life in your wondrous city of dreams!' 'Hmm, what's your trade, sonny? Oh, nothing? Well, we don't need someone to do nothing, buster, we got plenty of people doing that already. No thanks. Bye!' So then they won't let me in and I'll basically have to hang around outside the city until I die of starvation, or get eaten by a troll, or being pelted to death by rich kids who like to stand on the city walls and fling stones and sh*t at anyone they see wandering around down below. So yeah, thanks a bunch, Ma. Shall I pop off now to get my coffin fitted?"

"Oh, shut up, Vinny" she replied scathingly, showing what Vinny thought was a worrying lack of concern about his almost certain death "We've got clearance to get you in there. We've arranged for you to become an apprentice for your Uncle Ludlen, do you remember him?"


"Yes" said Vinny "he's a knob"


Vinny's mother was used to these kind of petty taunts after nineteen years of dealing with them. "Well, you'd better get used to him, because that's who you're staying with for the foreseeable future. He's a blacksmith, you know. I won't bother telling you how useful a skill like that will make you, because I know you won't give a toss, and I know you probably won't be bothered to get out of bed some days, but at least that'll be his problem then, not ours. Right then." She clapped her hands conclusively, and suddenly she looked younger and brighter than Vinny could remember seeing her in a long time. "I've packed your clothes, your satchel is by your door. I'm off to bed now. Good night!"


With that, Vinny's mother licked her fingers, put out the one small candle that was illuminating the small house, and strode victorious through her bedroom door to have what would probably be one of her best night's sleep in a long while.


Vinny, on the other hand, could not share this feeling of euphoric release. Indeed, the weight that had been lifted off his mothers shoulders seemed to have settled neatly onto his, and Vinny felt a sense of gross sickness brewing in his stomach as the horror of the situation became more and more embedded in reality the more he thought about it. Feelings of dread swirled round his drunken brain, and he felt like someone had attached a 200 pound weight to the bottom of his heart. A crippling wave of despair hit him, and although his mother had already burnt out the only candle in the house leaving it pitch black, he felt a blanket of cloying grey wash over the world, depriving it of all but friendless misery, exhausting toil, and - worst of all - permanent sobriety.
 
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HobbeBrain

It's getting better, man!
Chapter Two
The harsh sun that blared its strong white light over the hills and mountains that morning was by no means a comfort to the people of Vinny's village, which, it seems the right time to mention, went by the name of Hyrundil. The early morning rays served only to expose the harsh, empty landscape that stretched out for miles in the valley below. As light forced its way slowly but surely out of the pale blue sky and onto the earth beneath, the villagers caught glimpses of the various flora and fauna that surrounded them; smears of green and brown in the otherwise forebodingly white expanse of land that constituted the only vegetation in the whole area - save for the densely packed pine forests that lay further down the valley to the west, which brought a whole manner of new dangers with them. The trees stood like sentinels at spectacular heights, and seemed to be silently sneering at the humiliating vulnerability that gripped each person that walked beneath their branches like a tormenting ghost. Indeed, the forests were a place of danger, as there were many savage creatures therein that called the place home. The fact their motivation was purely hunger didn't change their savagery.


Also visible from Hyrundil were weather-beaten rocks that once stood proud and tall, but now, chipped away by the unrelenting whip of the wind and rain, looked frail and redundant; brittle relics that may once have seemed startlingly imposing and powerful, but, in a world where aesthetics were a luxury and all things, by necessity, were geared to survival, simply did not have a purpose to serve.


The sight was made no better by the symptoms of a particularly nasty hangover. Vinny uttered a feeble whimper as his consciousness re-entered a body that was most unlike the one it had left a few hours before. Gone was the carefree attitude, deepened love for all living things, and softly burning belief that absolutely anything was possible - in its place was a screaming headache, a sore, nauseous stomach and mouth so dry that it felt ready to crumble into a fine dust and leak out through the gaps between his teeth. Once he had processed the intensity of the sickening pain that pulsated its way through his sweaty body, his mind instantly fell to the crushing news he'd received the night before, and in response, Vinny let out an even louder, deeper, sorrowful cry that was somewhere between a groan and a sob. Then when he remembered the face of the girl he'd got off with at the pub that night his stomach shook in revulsion and he almost threw up.


Interrupting Vinny's slow descent into a mire of self-pitying depression was his mother, brazenly rapping her knuckles on his open bedroom door.


"It's morning!" she chirped. A bright streak of optimism ran through her voice that Vinny found intensely irritating. He suspected that her choice to employ such a tone was born from more than just ignorance.


"Ungh" he replied. He stared at the ceiling, motionless. His entire body felt like a quivering receptacle into which all kinds discomfort were being poured. He felt weighed down by this steadily building collection of unhappiness, pushing him into his uncomfortably warm and moist bed sheets. He wished that they would continue to push him until he sank out of his bed and into oblivion.


"You can groan all you like as long as you heave your arse out of bed before the wagon arrives. It'll be here in three kryes, so you best get a move on". She pointed out of the window at the sun, and raised her eyebrows pointedly. Vinny didn't feel up to the strenuous task of turning his body over to look at the sun himself, but he didn't have to. A krye referred to a unit of time, denoted by the suns position in the sky; first krye occurred when the sun appeared to be sitting on the horizon, coating the world in a dim, orange haze. Second krye was the point at which the sun had risen to such a point that the place in the sky that used to be occupied by the uppermost point in the circle of light was now occupied by the bottom of it; third krye was when the sun was a level above this, and so on. Vinny knew that three krye would pass fairly quickly, and he had time to do little more than muster up every ounce of strength he possessed in an effort to make it possible for him to get out of bed, get changed, and leave the house without collapsing into a frail, weeping mess on the floor.


Vinny could not muster up the strength for breakfast. In his fragile state, he felt that doing as much as opening his mouth for too long would invite the pool of vomit that had collected in his bowels overnight to spill out onto the table in front of him. The thought of going as far as to actually force a solid into the fiery chasm that was sloshing around inside him encouraged his to stomach actively discourage the idea by discharging a frightened wobble that enabled Vinny to actually feel the disgustingly heavy liquid smack itself onto the inside walls of his intestinal tract. Putting on a fresh set of underclothes and a thick shirt and stockings to protect against the chilling winds that were waiting for him outside was a task he could just about manage - after this it was merely a matter of putting on his browny-black tunic over the top, slipping his arms into his heavy, fluff-covered coat, and sitting despondently on his doorstep, waiting for the wagon to arrive, and trying to make his belly stop vibrating.


As predicted, the wagon rolled up at around fourth krye. Vinny felt a slight sense of inadequacy when he saw the large cargo cabin that made up the wagon's main body; it was large enough for 5 men to stand comfortably inside, and yet his satchel, containing little more than some spare underclothes and a loaf of bread for the journey, could easily sit on his lap the entire way.


The rider of the wagon was a stout looking goblin, gripping the reigns with thick leather gloves that were being gripped with equal force by a crinkled layer of frost. He didn't appear all that old in age, but his baggy skin had been wizened and worn down due to his constant position above the wagon's wooden frame, standing as a battered yet unwavering sentinel with nothing to separate him from the fierce snow and hailstorms that were commonplace on the long, desolate roads that ran through the mountains. The wagon itself very much reflected this too, with the words "Roger's Wagons - No trip too small!" painted onto the side now almost entirely illegible due to years of persistent wind lashing.


"Alright?" asked the goblin, tugging gently on the reigns to ease the restless mogryr that had been fixed into the wagon in order to pull it along. The mogryr were large, muscled beasts, coated in a shaggy blue-white fur that completely shrouded them from the elements in protective natural armour, so much so that even their faces were entirely featureless, teardrop shaped bulges with nothing but a salivating mouth on the underside to denote it as this crucial body part. Perfectly formed for charging headfirst into a raging snowstorm accompanied by the rest of its large fraternal herd, seeing a lone mogryr quietly braying in the confinement of a human village, held in place by all manner of ropes and chains, and becoming increasingly anxious and irritable at its inexplicable obligation to remain stationary, it just looked sad.


Vinny shrugged disinterestedly in response. "Been better".


At this point, Vinny's mother came hurrying out of the house, having seen the wagon through the window. "You must be Roger!" she exclaimed, her happiness building closer to its peak the closer Vinny got to leaving. "Right on time. Here, have this." She handed him a pouch full of coins, which he gladly accepted and stuffed into one of the many pockets of his long fur coat. They then both looked expectantly to Vinny, Roger the goblin with a welcoming smile, and his mother with more a triumphant one.


"This is it then" Vinny commented bitterly. Slowly, painfully, he rose from the doorstep and staggered toward the wagon. Thankfully, by this point his headache had been reduced to little more than a dull throb.


His mother walked up to him as he put one hand on the splintered rung of the ladder attached the side of the wagon that led up to the seats upon which Roger was sitting. For the first time since she informed Vinny of the plan, her stern, uncaring stance seemed to fall away. Worried wrinkles formed on her forehead and try as she might, the emotional finality of the situation left her unable to withhold the compassion that had been nervously bubbling away inside her since the beginning.


"This is for your own good. You realise that?" before Vinny could respond, she hugged him and kissed him on the cheek. Then she stared into his eyes, seemingly begging him to respond in kind.


Vinny didn't know what to think. His world had been turned on its head, and comprehending the appropriate reaction to anything now seemed a task too monumental to be bothered to even approach.


"I'll see you later, Ma" he said, and gave her a kind of half hug with one arm that more closely felt like he was just pulling her towards him. Then, without looking into her eyes, he clambered dejectedly up the ladder and took his seat next to Roger.


"Bye, Vinny!" his mother yelled after him, frantically waving her arm in farewell. Vinny didn't look round as the wagon trundled out of the village, through the wooden gates, and out onto the winding mountain road beyond.


Vinny might have actually quite enjoyed the journey, were he not burdened with a pounding headache and creeping sensations of utter dread. The sunlight sparkled softly on the snow, which, having falling only a few hours before, was perfectly smooth and wet, letting the wheels of the wagon comfortably roll through it with frictionless ease. Mountain flowers in purples and yellows poked their vibrant heads out of the undergrowth and into the refreshingly cold morning air, and, if one listened closely, delighted hoots or yelps could be heard in the distance, a sure signal that even the snowy wastes of Skelmhein were more than capable of giving host to all manner of rich and vibrant life.


At some points, the road gave way to vast stretches of flat, white land that trailed off toward the horizon in one direction, or toward a distant but brooding mountain peak in the other. As the road wound further on, Vinny saw to one side of him a stubborn and unforgiving rock wall, and to the other, a shockingly sheer drop that tumbled down into the valley far below, where he could only just make out the tips of the pine trees poking vigilantly out over the top of the grey mountain mist that lazily rolled through the valley, either not knowing or not caring for the wellbeing of any of the life below that it smothered mercilessly and indiscriminately in its thick waves of cold, blinding fog. Vinny very much got the impression that the mountains were trying to give him a message, a message declaring that this was their realm and theirs alone, and the trivialities and petty needs of man were of absolutely no concern to them as they remained steadfast and indomitable in their ancient foundations, watching as generations upon generations of men rose and fell around them.


"These mountains, they're amazing, int they?" Roger asked, breaking the long silence that had befallen them since they had left Hyrundil.

"Yup" said Vinny.

"Dangerous, sure. There's stuff like ice on the road, snowstorms, crumbling walkways, avalanches, before you even get to the likes of trolls, wraiths, wolves, ice-banes, bears, highwaymen, friend of mine reckons he even saw a yeti once. Mind you, he's a pretty hairy fella. Coulda been his own reflection". Roger chuckled throatily at his own joke. Vinny wondered how many people he'd told it to. Must have been a lot, he decided, as Roger looked to be quite old. His hair was wispy and grey, some of it looking to detach itself and daintily sail away to the skies at the first opportunity it got. For some of them, this was when Roger took one hand off the rains to aggressively scratch his three-fingered hands at his dappled green scalp. Vinny then winced slightly as he then proceeded to suck the fleas off his fingers.


"So, we're heading to Draemundor, are we?" Roger's efforts to stir conversation out of Vinny remained thoroughly persistent, which was in many ways admirable considering the fact that Vinny would rather have licked the fleas off Roger's fingers himself than talk to him. "For most people, it'd be best part of two days walk to get to Draemundor from Hyrundil, me, I can cover that in than less than one. Shouldn't even need a break to sleep at this rate, lookin' at how early we set off. Give it eight, maybe nine krye, we'll be right at the gates, I tell ya."

Vinny raised his eyebrows and nodded in mock enthusiasm. "Phenomenal".

"You have clearance for that place, then?"

"Yup"

"You apply for it yourself or you mates with someone inside?"

"Neither, considering I'm not his mate"

"Ah well, mate or not, you should be bleedin' overjoyed that you've got clearance from someone else. My brother's pal went through the process of getting it 'imself, and trust me, it sounds horrible. They had him sweeping mogryr sh*te out the roads from dawn till dusk, didn't pay 'im a penny, and he had to sleep in a dorm with something like seven or eight other blokes, all after a clearance as well. They all dropped out one by one, said the labour they were goin' through weren't worth it for the entry".

Despite Vinny's irritable demeanour, this anecdote did tickle his curiosity. "He was the last one standing, then?"

"Well, sort of. Still didn't get the clearance, though. 'Bout two weeks or so into it, 'e thought he'd take a little bit more food than his food tokens permitted 'im to. All he took was two extra slices of bread, mind, but they still caught 'im out. The guards saw he'd made six sandwiches after buying only one loaf. Poor bugger didn't realise that in Draemundor they administrate all the bakeries so they have to produce their pre-sliced loaves with only ten slices".


Even Vinny's urge to brood stubbornly was overcome by a wave of confusion, anger, and worry, all rolled into one. Confused as to why such a measure was in place, angry that something so arbitrary was imposed onto undeserving citizens, and now worried that it was a place with chokingly restrictive atmosphere such as this that, for the foreseeable future, he would be calling home.


"Why the hell do that have that law?" Vinny blurted out, alight with anger "that's ridiculous! It's just pointless!"

Roger shrugged empathetically. Even the mogryr snorted as if in agreement. The cold air transformed the animalistic burst from its nostrils into tangible white mist that hung thick and moist in the mountain air.

"Well, I hear that the cause of most problems in Draemundor are from Lady Beatrice. You know - the bird in charge of the place. Neurotic as they come, she is. Not that I ever met 'er, of course, she doesn't ever come out of the big ol' palace, but I've given lifts to people who've heard all kinds of things"

"Like what?" asked Vinny. He sat tensely, dreading the response.

Roger blew sharply "Oooh, all kinds of mad stuff. One night, she was so convinced an assassin was out to get her, she ordered that 'er bedroom windows were to be bricked up. Next mornin' she has the bloke who did it fired cause he didn't do it in a way that still let her see the view! Can you believe that? And apparently, she has a group of five elite bodyguards that stick with 'er all the time, testing 'er meals for poison, lookin' round corners for her in case someone's hiding behind it, even lifting her dress up when she goes to the toilet. But she don't pay 'em. Her logic is that if people were paid to do the job, people'd apply for it just for the money, and she only wants people to apply if they're truly dedicated to keepin' her safe at all times."

Vinny could barely even concentrate on forming a coherent response as he sat there, open mouthed. "...are they dedicated to keeping her safe at all times?" was all he could say, and that was after a good few seconds of putting genuine effort into forcing back a swirling torrent of stunned incredulity that was steadily building inside him.

Roger laughed. "'Course they bloody don't."

"Then why would you have any reason to apply for the post in the first place??"

"Well, they don't, do they? The palace guard get approached and offered it as a 'promotion'"

"And if they turn it down?"

"Well, then they're obviously a terrorist who doesn't want to help protect their Lady, int they? Into the cells with them."

Vinny ran his hand through his hair. He felt as if, just after he'd managed to get a hold on the staggering situation, it'd once again been entirely ripped from his hands and he had to get a hold on it all over again.

"I can't believe I'm going to this place" Vinny said monotonously. "Oh, f*ck. I can't believe it. Oh, f*ck."


Roger seemed to realise he'd caused distress to his passenger and took a brief break from handling the reins with his left hand, and used it to run his gnarled green fingers comfortingly over Vinny's shoulder.


"Hey! Heey! Listen, it's not gonna be that bad! Lady Beatrice, yeah, she's a bit loopy, but that won't really be affectin' you, will it? Be thankful you're not joinin' the palace guard" he withdrew his hand and tugged the reins to spur the mogryr along faster. "Besides" he said, nodding as if to affirm the legitimacy of what he was about to say "I reckon she'll have enough of a problem with the trolls and that right now to worry about you".


Roger's words - especially that last comment - did actually manage to partially soothe Vinny's mind. For as long as Vinny - or indeed anyone in Skelmhein - could remember, a local troll tribe had been picking a fight with Draemundor, and whilst at some points the frequency and intensity of the attacks were low enough as to make them fairly inconsequential, at others, the Draemundor High Guard were posted to camps beyond even the city walls themselves, in order to hold back the savage tide of trolls who ran with animalistic jealously at the city, either desperate to rob them of resources such as food, water, or shelter, or maybe just out of a frenzied, intoxicating lust for blood. As it happened, Draemundor's troll situation was currently more reminiscent of the latter scenario. Which, perhaps, was why at the turn of the next corner they found two large trolls who had strayed far further from their camp than usual, and were right in the centre of the road in front of them.


The wagon was trundling onwards so fast that there was no time to stop. The soft, smooth snow that had once been a gift to them was now a curse, and although Roger hastily yanked at the reins as hard and as his old muscles would allow him to, and strained with clenched teeth to keep the alarmed mogryr safe and still, the wagon itself did not quite get the message. The mogryr had no choice but to skitter onwards, terrified, down the road and to their doom, to avoid being butted from behind by the stubbornly mobile, maliciously heavy contraption of dense wood and iron bolts that seemed hell-bent on delivering them into what was probably the only thing that could make Vinny's situation any less desirable than it already was in the most obnoxious and jeopardising way he could imagine.





...and that's all I've written so far :P don't get me wrong, I know there is a lot here, but if anyone did actually sit back and read all of it, I'd be very grateful for any feedback. Thanks in advance!
 
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Rumford

Hairball
Legendary Hero
It's well written I like it, only skimmed it so far, I'm on my kindle atm so I'll give it a full read later. You need to work on your run-on sentences and closing dialogues, but aside from that I'm fairly impressed.
 

Rumford

Hairball
Legendary Hero
What do they refer to specifically? I'm new to all this writing lark
To this;

Eventually, his finger reached the lock.
This is a good strong short sentence. This is what we're aiming for.

Slightly misjudging its precise position in the door, he ran his finger just past it and straight into the path of a particularly discourteous splinter that seemed to have been eagerly awaiting the chance to propel itself from the depths of its dusty confines and embed its maliciously sharp length right into the fleshy knuckle of an unsuspecting door-user.
This, is a run-on sentence. Run-on sentences are sentences that are overly long, lack grammar, punctuation, and therefore, lose context & meaning. Try to emulate the first sentence I noted. The art of parataxis [short and simple fluent sentences] will help you keep a tidy story, flowing with fluent correct English while giving the reader a juicer, punchier, and all around more easy going reading experience. In short, use more full stops, and commas.

"Sh*t" mumbled Vinny.
Dialogue should always be closed by either a comma, full stop, question mark, or exclamation point. In this instance, a comma is needed. Here's an example of each usage;

"Sh*t," mumbled Vinny.

Vinny mumbled, "Sh*t."

"Sh*t!" Shouted Vinny.

"What the sh*t?" Asked Vinny.

A comma should close dialogue when the sentence is on-going, a full stop when the dialogue ends the sentence. The last applies to question marks & exclamation points as well, after which you should open with a capital letter. But lower case after closing with a comma, unless it's a name or place, etc.

Hope I helped. :)
 
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HobbeBrain

It's getting better, man!
Thanks for the help Hermit - after that description, I actually think that run-on sentence are probably my biggest weakness as a writer

It may be unnecessarily descriptive, gratuitously so
This is the key issue, I think. Even if it is "more often good than bad", I always find, with everything - stories, music, lyrics, whatever - that I feel myself having to go big, all out, and fancy, in case people think that simplicity = I'm not a good writer/musician/lyricist. This can be especially annoying when I read simple (or, rather, not overly descriptive) literature and it's actually still brilliant.
 

Precipice

Well-Known Member
This can be especially annoying when I read simple (or, rather, not overly descriptive) literature and it's actually still brilliant.
There's a science to it and I haven't quite nailed it yet. Sometimes too much can just be too much. I don't know anyone who has read 50 Shades for reasons beyond its novelty; James makes extensive use of descriptors in it and often goes a little too far with them. I imagine if it were just another book, people would read it and think "I don't care about the content of the juice dripping from a slice of tomato from a ham sandwich, can we pleeeeease just get to the part where they ****?"

With that in mind I ask myself, is this what my audience wants to know more about? If not, simple is better.
 

HobbeBrain

It's getting better, man!
With that in mind I ask myself, is this what my audience wants to know more about? If not, simple is better.
I see and understand that there is a need for it sometimes, and not elsewhere, and I try to emulate this in my writing, though I doubt it comes through all the time. Sometimes, the over-descriptiveness is meant to be kinda comical. Heavily describing a mundane event, or discussing in a scholarly way something that is a normal, every day activity is meant to come across as funny, somehow, just because you're treating normal events in an overly climactic way. The only comparison that comes to mind is the director Edgar Wright, I'm not sure if you've seen any of his films (though they're all pretty famous) but here's an example of what I mean - just watch the first minute for an idea.


Notice how in the first 10 seconds of the shot, all we see is a guy making toast, putting milk in the fridge, and putting a tie on, but it's shot in a way that you'd expect a frenetic action scene to be shot? I'm aiming for the book equivalent of that, really.
 

Rumford

Hairball
Legendary Hero
It isn't a run-on, just a long sentence. It may be unnecessarily descriptive, gratuitously so, but that's more often good than bad.
Yes it is.

That is what a run-on sentence is, it's two or more sentences without punctuation. Run-on sentences, comma splices, and fused sentences are eerily similar. So no clear definition can be applied 100% of the time. Even towards a paragraph.
 
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Precipice

Well-Known Member
Yes it is.
Not to but heads but it isn't. A sentence is often more than a subject and a verb. Otherwise the previous sentence would only be "sentence is."

Slightly misjudging its precise position in the door, he ran his finger just past it and straight into the path of a particularly discourteous splinter that seemed to have been eagerly awaiting the chance to propel itself from the depths of its dusty confines and embed its maliciously sharp length right into the fleshy knuckle of an unsuspecting door-user.
The sentence is "He ran his finger into a splinter." The rest is descriptive of that sentence in one way or another. Let's remove some of the basic adverbs and adjectives.

Misjudging its position in the door, he ran his finger past it and into the path of a splinter that seemed to have been awaiting the chance to propel itself from the depths of its confines and embed its length into the knuckle of a door-user.
"Misjudging its position in the door" is a dependent adverbial clause because it describes the circumstance in which the rest of the sentence plays out. Why is Vinny mumbling "sh*t" to himself over there? A splinter stabbed his finger. How did that happen? He misjudged the position of the lock in the door. Did he misjudge significantly? No, just slightly.

"Past it" is a descriptive prepositional phrase; where did he run his finger? Past the lock, and over there towards that splinter.

"Into the path of a splinter" is also a prepositional phrase. His finger didn't simply hit the splinter, but it ran along the path of the splinter more optimal finger carnage.

"That seemed to have been awaiting the chance to propel itself from the depths of its confines and embed its length into the knuckle of a door-user" is an independent clause. It describes the splinter, the very evil splinter that has long plotted to wreak havoc on some poor wretched unsuspecting finger.

It's entirely proper to put it all together. If these things had nothing to do with the core sentence, then you've got a run-on.
 

HobbeBrain

It's getting better, man!
Christ, Precipice I remember you saying majored in English Literature right? Or you studied or something. Either way, that's ridiculously impressive! I had no idea that my story would spark such heated debated :P

I still think I gotta put in some kind of punctuation there, though. I think we can all agree that it's maybe a bit of a mouthful?
 

Precipice

Well-Known Member
Christ, Precipice I remember you saying majored in English Literature right?
Minored, though it's less an accolade and more a subject of ridicule in academia. Those math farts all think they're the brains behind fine arts.

I still think I gotta put in some kind of punctuation there, though. I think we can all agree that it's maybe a bit of a mouthful?
I'd encourage you not to. Rumford's correct about punctuation in quotations. Otherwise I don't see much issue in your use of punctuation. To be fair, we have all these rules in literature that we learn all through school so that we know how to properly communicate in English, but you'll find many established authors throwing that rulebook in the garbage. With that in mind, don't be afraid to break a rule now and then.
 

Rumford

Hairball
Legendary Hero
In my defense I'm an idiot, and terrible at English. And I was quite tired as I wrote that post, in general though was just giving some light ins and outs on basic writing rules & regs.

So I think Precipice is far more entitled to give advice here.
 

Precipice

Well-Known Member
You're no fool friend. Your advice is just as valid as mine. Promise.
Besides, I see a typo in my post. And I dropped out in my last semester. I'm not entitled to ****.
 

Rumford

Hairball
Legendary Hero
Read chapter 2 Hobbe. Want chapter 3 now!

Also, you'll want to type numbers in words rather than digits. Have you used Grammarly yet? If not try writing chapter 3 in it, or editing either of these within it.

You're no fool friend. Your advice is just as valid as mine. Promise.
Besides, I see a typo in my post. And I dropped out in my last semester. I'm not entitled to ****.
I know. But you've studied English so I feel like you could be more useful in helping with the literary side of things.
 

HobbeBrain

It's getting better, man!
Read chapter 2 Hobbe. Want chapter 3 now!
I'm working on it! I'll post it somewhere once I'm done :)

Also, you'll want to type numbers in words rather than digits. Have you used Grammarly yet? If not try writing chapter 3 in it, or editing either of these within it.
Thanks for the advice - I thought I'd been doing that? I'll go back over it and turn any numbers into words. And no, I haven't used Grammarly yet I'm afraid, I popped my head round the door of the website (er, not literally) and saw it involved downloading something and I thought I'd do it another day :P
 
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