Characters, On Writing, The Many Trials of a Blacksmith

Memories in a Cloudless Night

It’s Chatterbox again, but this time the topic is ‘Criticism’. Once again I really enjoyed this exercise and present, without further adieu … Robert, of The Many Trials of a Blacksmith

—-

He lay on his back, wrapped up in his thin cloak.

The sound of the waves, the scent of the sea, and the sight of the stars filled his senses, and yet instead of bathing in the wonder of a still and cloudless night, his mind pressed in upon him.

Phantom shouts and shadowed sights filled his ears and eyes.

He heard the overseer once more: “Move faster!”

He saw the mocking look. “Good enough” – a heartbeat of hope, crushed with the next words – “for a cripple.”

Memories – how they surged.

A log fell in the fire. Sparks flew high in the air.

Leon snored and Garth mumbled in his sleep.

Memories – how they drew him back to years long past.

“We are weak.” It was George this time, appearing in front of him in the mist of time; that mouth curled in its ever scornful way. “No – it is not we … it is you.”

He remembered the twinge of pain those words had given him. Remembered the calm reply he had forced out of lips which longed to snarl – to bite back that it was the right way – the only way, you fool!

“Knave!” ‘twas Master Hughes, regarding him – his tardy apprentice – with narrowed eyes. “I looked for you this morn. Where have you been – loitering? Lazy cur.”

I was saving a child; giving a widow the life of her son, he ached to explain. But the words were never spoken – secrecy was more important than speech.

And then he remembered his youth; the farm, the dawn which came without fail and the brother who had long since past.

He remembered the quick look at the field – ploughed underneath a hot sun with little water to quench his thirst – “‘Bit wonky, Bert.”

A sharp breath and he was back; feeling the dampness of the sand beneath his cloak, hearing the crackle of the fire and the roll of the wave.

And then another memory rose into his mind – the crinkle of a page as he turned it, the old ink forming letters which meant so much: Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

He rested in the words – floated in their peace; slept in their calm. The memories dispelled as if they were a suffocating mist and the words a burning sun.

In the morning – when Garth greeted him with a grunt and Leon asked how he slept, he would reply simply:

“Well.”

I think I just rambled, On Writing

“Aldifneif’sfds isazdfs,” said the Elf.

… or a wee ramble on languages.

At the moment, I’m writing in the fantasy genre. I also love languages and find them absolutely fascinating to study – but to make up one of my own? Without randomly bashing at the keyboard?

Yikes!

Um, no. No, I can’t.

My characters talk in plain ol’English. However, this doesn’t stop me having a little fun with the idea that these characters aren’t speaking/writing/reading in English …

Behind her, over shadowing the Halli lands, were the great peaks of the Mal a’La. There is a controversy amidst the scribes of the Great Country as to whether the translation of Mal a’La is “the mountains which are most steep” or “the Mountains of Steepness”. Either way, t’is no great matter, a Halli would merely shrug his shoulders – for him, they were mountains and they were steep: the Mal a’La.

A Halli was not one to dabble in such convoluted matters. The girl, for example, was named B’aa. The Great Country scribes would have, should they have learned of her name, agonized over whether the name meant “the most sufficient” or “that which is full of sufficiency”.

They would never have dreamt that her father was a shepherd and her mother, full with child, had been walking with her husband amidst the flock when the child had come. The father had  – untroubled by a lack of inspiration – named his child after the noise which encircled her when she first met the world – B’aa.

I don’t have the ability to make up a language but I can still give the impression that English isn’t their mother tongue.

OR … I could bypass all the verbs and adjectives and grammar and a thousand other Important Things and write a language with beautiful simplicity – like this:

via Pinterest which is via this artist on deviantArt

Simples!

“Hiflsfjaldsij,” said I (that’s Nesskingsleyian for “Thank you for reading this post. May you be blessed with noodles, flying pigs and a flat screen tel-” er … on second thoughts … I think I’m mistranslating it).

Oh! I have a question … you see that splendid comic up there – I found it on Pinterest … however what I would like to know if it’s perfectly fine to take a pin off-site and use it in a blog post? I’m unsure and if anyone could help me on this it would be gratefully appreciated.

On Writing, The Many Trials of a Blacksmith

In Which I Use ‘Said’

I’ve found that there seems to be two lines of advice: one which says: whatever you do don’t use ‘said’. The other which states: use ‘said‘.

I’m also pretty certain that there is a third line: the one which I take – where the word ‘said’ is used whenever it can have a greater impact on the sentence.

For instance, this is a snippet of a first draft which I’ve recently typed up:

“If you don’t come back with me,” he said, affably, “I’ll knock you over the head and carry you back.”

“I have to do this.” Was that a hint of pleading in the boy’s gaze?

“Nay, you don’t. I won’t allow it.”

“I’d like to see you stop me.” The boy was spitting mad.

Timothy looked pointedly at the ropes in his hands, “I’ll bind you again.”

“I’ll hit you again.”

In this I’ve managed to make each line more diverse without adding the boring ‘he said, he replied, he stated, he warned etc etc’ (however – sometimes I lean to the side of making it too diverse and thus obscure, which makes me scratch my head and think ‘huh? Who is speaking?’).

Yes, there is a dreaded adverb in there – but, to be perfectly honest, I do use them. Not all the time; only when it suits my purpose.

Now, take a look at that first line of dialogue:

“If you don’t come back with me,” he said, affably, “I’ll knock you over the head and carry you back.”

The idea is that he [Timothy] is stating a threat in a friendly manner (a bit of an oxymoron that!). If I took out the ‘said’ and attempted to substitute it:

“If you don’t come back with me,” he threatened, affably, “I’ll knock you over the head and carry you back.”

I find it a little too chunky; the tongue trips over the words and the sentence is marred. And, on a side note, if I take out the adverb and add in this:

“If you don’t come back with me,” he threatened, in a friendly manner, “I’ll knock you over the head and carry you back.”

No – I don’t like it; it’s too long and looks ridiculous. So ‘said’ stays and the adverb too.

Stairway
dialogue is like … a staircase! Each step is a line which leads to another till eventually one reaches the bottom of the staircase – the end of the conversation.

I’m learning, with every word typed; every sentence finished. Oh! I’ve only just learned that I can’t spell ‘dialogue’ – apparently there is an ‘a’ in there. Lesson duly noted, Spell Check.

Next post: the subject will be ‘the wunderful spelin’ of Nesss Kingysly’ …