Rewrite of opening 900wds

yorelm

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Oct 2, 2015
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77
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Atlanta, Ga
#1
This is a rewrite I did yesterday for "Opening for WIP. 900 wds." based on the comments I received. I didn't see a way to edit the original post to indicate an update, so I went ahead and started an new one.

I stared out at my home village of Isrealm, a monotony of cubic, limestone buildings with worn dirt paths connecting one home to another. It seemed the native builders thought only in angles, not a single curvature to break the sameness. But this mundane observation served only as a stall. Levy, my foster parent, needed to hear my announcement, and right now was the perfect time. His understanding was necessary to proceed.

He and I spent most evenings on the railed roof of our home, lightly decorated to be as comfortable as possible for Levy—a few plants, a rug or two, pottery. Nothing fancy, just enough to provide a semblance of homeyness. Levy was an aesthetic man and found blandness uninspiring.

I moved away from the rail and fixed on Levy, postured under the awning shade. He sat cross-legged on a padded mat, hunched over, busy scribing temple drafts. Except for his hands, his body made not one twitch. Only the fabric of his ghutra and the graying hair of his beard rustled from a wind. To me he looked regal; a man deserving of loft.

"Levy, first you need to know my mind is firm for what I'm about to tell you. It won't be to your liking."

He looked up but said nothing, and his lips thinned to a tightened frown. To him, interruptions were no better than a sharp pain.

"I've decided to become your real, blood son, and have already taken measures."

He stared as though he were trying to figure out if I was serious. "Jacob, if this one of your silly pranks, it’s in the worst taste possible. If not, I thought this discussion was over some time ago. When Abbi and I brought you in, we considered you our son that very evening."

And I had always thought of Levy as my father, but he never insisted I refer to him as such. I’ve used his birth name since childhood and have grown used to it. "It's not the same as being of your flesh. Right now your blood line ends with you. You should have grandchildren to carry your lineage for generations down."

"If I have no blood child, then that's how it was meant to be."

He didn't mean that. I overheard him speak of his regrets of being childless--a real son or daughter from his loins--on at least two occasions: once to Abbi when I was a child, and more recently in confidence to a close friend from the temple. He did have remorse…and I along with him, but for reasons not unselfish.

He placed his writing aside and stood to come closer. His tunic had that cloying incense smell. "What do you mean you've taken measures?"

This was the part I dreaded. I started to look away but forced myself to keep eye contact. "I spoke with Alma--"

"The sorceress? You know how I feel about that, yet you do this?"

"I'm of twenty years now, long past a child's reasoning, and this wasn't considered lightly. I’d like to think you would respect my judgment by now."

"Yet you disregard that I have forsworn sorcery. Trickery that's not of God. It killed Abbi and that was enough for me."

"Mother was an unfortunate mistake. Let it rest, Levy. Alma's a good woman and has agreed to help me...but I had to supply her with a few things." The last words were rushed to get them out before thinking too much. I would have stuttered otherwise, and didn’t want to dampen my resolve.

Levy stared without a blink, waiting for me to continue.

My voice lowered unintentionally, an instant regret. "She needed a sample of your blood and parts of your flesh. I took the blood from that cut a few days ago, and I clipped a nail and a few strands of hair while you slept."

He stiffened to keep control. We’ve had a spat or two in the past, and he knew me well enough to realize an outburst would do more harm than good. Instead, he turned away to look over the village under the approaching night. His voice took on a deliberately calm. "How could you do this knowing my feelings, Jacob? You have you crossed the bounds of respect."

"As I told you, this was considered for some time,” I went to stand next to him. “You’re a good man, and your line should continue for centuries to come. In addition, I don't feel complete, almost a parody. I know you love me as a real son, but sometimes it aches to know it isn’t so. We should be tied by true blood."

Levy kept his face stolid. "And the woman will do this freely?"

"No, she desires a favor, but out of respect for you, she would not tell me or go any further until she received your personal approval."

"Then it is done. I will not consent."

I was prepared for that answer. Actually, I counted on it in order to stem disappointment. Levy was stubborn, but reasonable. Many times he would speak too quickly, then realize the rashness, so his ‘absolutes’ weren’t always locked. We both knew each other that way. I was fairly positive he would at least listen to Alma, but would make it clear that influence would not come easily—that was a certainty. Right now, simply listening would be a good enough start.

"Doesn't her honor of your permission speak of her character?" I asked.

He considered that. Still, I knew he didn't feel comfortable with anyone of Alma's prowess possessing parts of him. He would go, if simply to ask for the pieces back. But that wasn't something I cared to consider.

"Damn you, son, for doing this thing!"

The look on his face told me enough, and I tried, and probably failed, to hold my anxiousness. "Then let us go right now. Alma is too powerful a woman to possess your flesh for too long. I think you would agree with that.”

I helped Levy down the ladder to the top floor of our home where I stored my coppersmith tools on one side, and Levy saved parchments and general supplies on the other. It wasn’t a complete floor, more like a large shelf above the main level, so there wasn’t really space for too much. Levy's bones weren't what they used to be, so he needed a rest before descending the final flight to the bottom.

I ungirded my tunic to let it fall to full length, then laced my sandals after fumbling a few times in my haste. We left for Alma's lodging. Earlier she said she had a reckoning that might help sway Levy in my favor. I was counting on that idea to be highly convincing.
 

Brian G Turner

Fantasist & Futurist
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21,956
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Highlands
#2
This is far better and very much an improvement over the last piece. I got far more of a sense of character and place, and overall feeling.

I think you may end up smoothing some of the prose a little more during editing, and maybe add in a few more lines to strengthen it - perhaps a couple of visceral reactions, such as sweating palms, shortness of breath, etc.

But, overall, I think you're onto quite a solid start for your story. Well done. :)
 

yorelm

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Joined
Oct 2, 2015
Messages
77
Location
Atlanta, Ga
#3
It boils down to one word, Brian:
Listen.

Some of the phrases I think you're talking about are simply the way this char speaks in this particular story. I'm being purposely more formal with his voice than I normally would with a more contemporary character, or in a more contemporary setting--and it's hard as hell. haha It's like writing away from your norm.
Still, I see others phrases that truly could be "smoothed" a bit. If they cause me to pause, they'll certainly cause others to do the same--so not good.
 
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TheEndIsNigh

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#4
This is a rewrite I did yesterday for "Opening for WIP. 900 wds." based on the comments I received. I didn't see a way to edit the original post to indicate an update, so I went ahead and started an new one.

First off - it is better (quite a bit better)

I stared out at my home village of Isrealm, a monotony of cubic, limestone buildings with worn dirt paths connecting one home to another. It seemed the native builders thought only in angles, not a single curvature to break the sameness. But this mundane observation served only as a stall. Levy, my foster parent, needed to hear my announcement, and right now was the perfect time. His understanding was necessary to proceed.

He and I spent most evenings on the railed roof of our home, lightly decorated to be as comfortable as possible for Levy—a few plants, a rug or two, pottery. Nothing fancy, just enough to provide a semblance of homeyness. Levy was an aesthetic man and found blandness uninspiring. (a bit contra-indicative, here we are in this boring comfy nothing fancy roof terrace)

I moved away from the rail and fixed on Levy, postured under the awning shade. He sat cross-legged on a padded mat, hunched over, busy scribing temple drafts. Except for his hands, his body made not one twitch. Only the fabric of his ghutra and the graying hair of his beard rustled from a wind. To me he looked regal; a man deserving of loft. (Again, rustling beards?? why does it need mention - it doesn't come up again and just jars IMO)

"Levy, first you need to know my mind is firm for what I'm about to tell you. It won't be to your liking."

He looked up but said nothing, and his lips thinned to a tightened frown. To him, interruptions were no better than a sharp pain.

"I've decided to become your real, blood son, and have already taken measures."

He stared as though he were trying to figure out if I was serious. "Jacob, if this one of your silly pranks, it’s in the worst taste possible. If not, I thought this discussion was over some time ago. When Abbi and I brought you in, we considered you our son that very evening."

And I had always thought of Levy as my father, but he never insisted I refer to him as such. I’ve used his birth name since childhood and have grown used to it. "It's not the same as being of your flesh. Right now your blood line ends with you. You should have grandchildren to carry your lineage for generations down."

"If I have no blood child, then that's how it was meant to be."

He didn't mean that. I overheard him speak of his regrets of being childless--a real son or daughter from his loins-- (I suspect tht's not something anyone would say in conversation in real life or in fiction - It's what people mean when talking about offspring but its a cold day August when someone says to another - "Of course he's not the product of my loins course there could be cultural differnces here but...") on at least two occasions: once to Abbi when I was a child, and more recently in confidence to a close friend from the temple. He did have remorse…and I along with him, but for reasons not unselfish.

He placed his writing aside and stood to come closer. His tunic had that cloying incense smell (in the wind?). "What do you mean you've taken measures?"

This was the part I dreaded. I started to look away but forced myself to keep eye contact. "I spoke with Alma--"

"The sorceress? You know how I feel about that, yet you do this?"

"I'm of twenty years now, long past a child's reasoning, (Archaic yet we're in the future) and this wasn't considered lightly. I’d like to think you would respect my judgment by now."

"Yet you disregard that I have forsworn sorcery. Trickery that's not of God. It killed Abbi and that was enough for me."

"Mother was an unfortunate mistake. Let it rest, Levy. Alma's a good woman and has agreed to help me...but I had to supply her with a few things." The last words were rushed to get them out before thinking too much. I would have stuttered otherwise, and didn’t want to dampen my resolve.

Levy stared without a blink, waiting for me to continue.

My voice lowered unintentionally, an instant regret. "She needed a sample of your blood and parts of your flesh. I took the blood from that cut a few days ago, and I clipped a nail and a few strands of hair while you slept."

He stiffened to keep control. We’ve had a spat or two in the past, and he knew me well enough to realize an outburst would do more harm than good. Instead, he turned away to look over the village under the approaching night. His voice took on a deliberately calm. "How could you do this knowing my feelings, Jacob? You have you crossed the bounds of respect."

"As I told you, this was considered for some time,” I went to stand next to him. “You’re a good man, and your line should continue for centuries to come. In addition, I don't feel complete, almost a parody. I know you love me as a real son, but sometimes it aches to know it isn’t so. We should be tied by true blood."

Levy kept his face stolid. "And the woman will do this freely?"

"No, she desires a favor, but out of respect for you, she would not tell me or go any further until she received your personal approval."

"Then it is done. I will not consent."

I was prepared for that answer. Actually, I counted on it in order to stem disappointment. Levy was stubborn, but reasonable. Many times he would speak too quickly, then realize the rashness, so his ‘absolutes’ weren’t always locked. We both knew each other that way. I was fairly positive he would at least listen to Alma, but would make it clear that influence would not come easily—that was a certainty. Right now, simply listening would be a good enough start.

"Doesn't her honor of your permission speak of her character?" I asked. (but it wouldn't overcome the God aspect above - unless his faith is just lip service)

He considered that. Still, I knew he didn't feel comfortable with anyone of Alma's prowess possessing parts of him. He would go, if simply to ask for the pieces back. But that wasn't something I cared to consider.

"Damn you, son, for doing this thing!"

The look on his face told me enough, and I tried, and probably failed, to hold my anxiousness. "Then let us go right now. Alma is too powerful a woman to possess your flesh for too long. I think you would agree with that.”

I helped Levy down the ladder to the top floor of our home where I stored my coppersmith tools on one side, and Levy saved parchments and general supplies on the other. It wasn’t a complete floor, more like a large shelf above the main level, so there wasn’t really space for too much. Levy's bones weren't what they used to be, so he needed a rest before descending the final flight to the bottom.

I ungirded my tunic to let it fall to full length, then laced my sandals after fumbling a few times in my haste. We left for Alma's lodging. Earlier she said she had a reckoning that might help sway Levy in my favor. I was counting on that idea to be highly convincing.

Although there's less picking, I still have difficulty with the idea. If Levy is against it, then that is the end of it and if it were say me - in this situation - the answer would be, get stuffed and you are no longer my adopted son, followed by a quick will rewrite and a chucking of possessions out the window.

For this to work the father has to be on his death bed with little hope of objecting:-

"Here dad, sign this"

"what is it son?"

"Oh it's just something that will keep your affairs in order after you've gone to the higher place, dad. Nothing to worry about."

I mean, his whole basis for wanting to be a blood son goes out the window if he's prepared to be basically a total bastard and ride roughshod over his dads, beliefs, faith and wishes.
 

yorelm

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 2, 2015
Messages
77
Location
Atlanta, Ga
#5
What Jacob is asking is that Levy simply go to listen and see what Alma has to say and learn about the procedure. As I stated, Levy is reasonable enough to go that far--but with no promises that anything will change. Thank you for the extra observations.
 

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