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Short Story Start: Thunder and Vines

Short Story Start: Thunder and Vines

Here's nearly 400 words of the short story I'm working on (started it today), which will be set in the same world as my 21 Days project. Not sure what I'm looking for here, but if you see anything missing that would make it better in your eyes, I welcome your comments. Or feel free to share whatever constructive comments you might have. There's at least a word or phrase here or there that I still want to work on, but it's fun to have something in the writer's workshop folder


He kept looking to the east, and then to the west. The elevation afforded him an excellent view of the storied road leading into the great valley of death where the two armies had assembled once again. For pleasure, he had been spending intermittent moments by looking down and observing the sea of harsh blanched rocks covering this dusty corner of the planet Gallea.

His sandaled foot kicked with great force a stone the size of a fist down the western slope, and he watched it cause a trail of little bits of earth to cascade along with it. Traces of dust arose in the wake of the tiny chaos that ensued from the chain of reactions as one rock collided with another, and then another, and then another.

Smiling a little at the result, he turned out of habit to the east and then looked startled. The leading edge of a throng of people held up two tall images, each holy symbol tied between two long poles: one a shining tome wrapped in vibrant vines and the other a pool of cool water framed neatly by vines of the same variety. The details couldn't actually be seen from where he stood, but the Rezzian soldier's expression still changed rapidly for the better as he stared for a few moments through the sand-drenched air.

Near his feet laid ten hardwood poles bearing their five signal messages. He lifted up the closest pair of them, which had an enormous red throne painted on the claylike canvas trussed between them, and then he began running at full speed with the poles vaulted high, back and forth across the ridge with the colorful image shown westwardly.

A plain, white response of the same construction flashed back to him across another great distance, and then he dropped the solid poles and also dropped himself forcefully down so that his lower legs were parallel with the scraggy ground, his knees became his feet, and he prostrated towards the east. His outstretched arms pointed towards the entourage and his fingers shook deliberately.

His parched voice called out with heartfelt emotion, “Shovah Flovarz!” Shovah meaning victory; the Flovarz being the spiritual-military leader of the Rezzian kingdom. And then, “Hallah Ilz’ Avah Haissem,” meaning “We worship and adore Our Deliverer.”

(Next scene: Him)

It reads better after the revision.

Frankly, after unintentionally offending you the last time, I am hesitant to reply now.

If your tone is constructive, I wouldn't worry about it.

For anyone: One question I have relates to the short story format. This is ultimately intended as a piece around 5K words, and this scene serves as an intro, but does not introduce any major characters. Is it appropriate for a short story? I like that it contributes to things like setting and symbolism, and shows rather than tells, but maybe it's a better fit somewhere in the novel itself. It's also something that I could either add or take out. I could add it for publishers that accept submissions greater than 5K, for example, and take it out for publishers that want 5K or less. Any thoughts?

Conventional wisdom in a short story is to make every scene count toward the plot.

If all this does is serve as scene setting and flavor, then it seems more appropriate to the novel. In a short story, I think the reader would be left wondering what happened to the dude with the banners.

This sort of scene seems more appropriate to a novel. UNLESS the whole banner waving schtick introduces the major plot element... then I could see it working.

If your tone is constructive, I wouldn't worry about it.
I never said anything more than your project was ambitious, and that the exercises were better suited to a single novel than a trilogy.

Ah! Such is the sadness of internet, I'm afraid. So, I do like the introduction, but WW has a point when she says that with only 5k to work with, you may need every word you can get.

On the piece itself, though, I do have a question: is your storyline built so that every action brings another, which triggers another? Because if that's the case, the tiny rock kick makes for a very nice prelude. ^^

Yeah the rock thing is meant to be symbolic. It creates "chaos" (which really happens in this world once the fit hits the shan), yet really when you break it down it's just an inevitable set of chain reactions based on one thing (character) colliding with another (character). Or it could very well be that the reader realizes something even cooler than that.

Your idea is a very good one, for example

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