Uncategorized, writing

Let’s Try This Again … WIPpet!

Today is Wednesday all ready! Man, the weeks go flying by these days. I spent the last week productively, however. After pondering on the comments everyone made on the beginning of my epic fantasy novel last week, I decided to rewrite it. It just lacked energy and humor and it didn’t really grab the reader. I hope you’ll all let me know what you think of this beginning instead. The connection with the date is that (mumble mumble, flails around for something) I’m posting it today, on a WIPpet day!  *grins and cringes*

Chapter 1

Take it from me. Adventuring all by yourself sounds better than it really is.

First, there’s the hunger. Just how many rutabagas and strips of dried pork can you carry? Not more than a week’s worth. Hunting and gathering may yield a straggly bunny or two and a few handfuls of cranberries shriveled and dried on the bush … nowhere near enough.

Next, there’s the confusion. I lost the trail several times despite the map father had scratched out on a deer hide back in my village.

I hardly need to mention the general discomfort of sore feet, attacking chiggers, rancid waterholes, and disturbingly close howls of wild beasts as I tried to sleep.

Last night, thunderstorms got added to the list. Specifically, crashing, freezing, hide-in-a-cave and shiver-all-night thunderstorms that leave slippery, splashing, stinking mud puddles everywhere.

Immediately after sighting the three riders heading toward me, I tripped and skidded into one of these very puddles. I leapt to my feet, not even taking time to curse over the soaking.

“Ho there, young sir!” boomed a big, dark-faced fellow a few pounds too heavy for the comfort of his horse. His teeth gleamed in the noonday sun. “Taking a bath, are you?”

“Err … ho there!” I called, grinning like an idiot and waving so energetically that water sprayed in ten foot arcs from my sodden shirt.

How I longed for companions on my lonely journey! Or, failing that, at least a shared meal.

The only other person I’d met on the road so far was an aging prostitute riding a sway-backed mule. She tried to trade for some of my rutabagas with her body. I couldn’t have run away any faster even if my hair was on fire.

All at once, I remembered the traditional greeting. “Welcome in Shaddai’s peace.” 

The riders each wore scraggly, faded leathers. Their unshaven faces and dirty, weary-looking mounts told me that they had been traveling for a while. Not that I looked much more respectable, with mud dripping off my tangled hair.

They formed a semi-circle around me. The one who had hailed me lost his smile. “Shaddai’s peace? A pox on it!”

Alarm squeezed me low in the gut…

Come join the fun, started by K.L. Schwengel by clicking below:

Also, who’s on twitter? Please leave your username in the comments and I’ll follow you.




20 thoughts on “Let’s Try This Again … WIPpet!”

  1. I loved this excerpt. It left me hungry for more. I really like the voice of the piece and the humour. I may never leave the house again – I’m totally convinced about the perils of embarking on a grand adventure! Perhaps the supermarket would be okay 😉

    1. Haha! I’m glad it was that convincing! It was so drab and serious the original way I wrote it (well, not original original but the latest version, I guess – I’ve revised this thing so much it’s hard to remember how many times it’s been!).

      Thanks for the comment and I’m looking forward to reading more of your entries!

  2. This is much more lighthearted and fun. I liked the serious one too, but I admit I prefer my Grand Adventures with a side of humor. I definitely want to know who the soggy, chigger-plagued adventurer is and what he’s doing on the road.

  3. This passage makes me think twice about my dream of adventuring. I love that it shows it in a whole different (and perhaps more realistic) light. I giggled at the part about the mud puddle. Poor character!

  4. You nailed it! WOW! Amazing. I felt like I was right there. You engaged the senses on a visceral level, and told us a lot about who this character is.

    The only little quibble I have is with gleaming teeth on an otherwise grubby man. Maybe there’s a reason, and it’s not in the excerpt?

    I am @shanjeniah at Twitter, but I tend to forget to check there. We might already be connected, for all I know!

    And your date – made me laugh right next to the sleeping spouse of the house! =D

    1. Aww, thanks so much! I feel that it’s a lot better, more in keeping with the tone of the story. Yes, good point about the “gleaming” teeth. I’ll have to choose another word.

      I added you on twitter. I tend to forget about it as well but I’m trying to make more of an effort with it. All this social media is a bit daunting.

      Hope your hubby didn’t wake up! 🙂

      1. He didn’t. =)

        When I’m deep in writing and/or revising, I tend to disappear from regular social media. Twitter isn’t habitual for me, so it’s very neglected.

        Maybe I could try popping in at the end of each scene. It would be a way to remember, maybe, and a built in break…

        Glad I could help you get rid of those unnaturally clean teeth!

  5. I like this better than last week. One question about the cranberries. This may just be me reacting to all those Ocean Spray commercials….but don’t cranberries grow in a bog? Or do they grow on a bush? I can’t say I’ve ever seen a cranberry bush, but that certainly doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Other than my confusion due to those silly commercials, nice job!

    1. Cranberries do grow in boggy lands (the kind of lands where you’re not likely to stay dried even if hasn’t been thunderstorming). Also… a lot of wild red berries tend to be mildly toxic, so our errant traveler might be glad s/he only managed a few handfuls. 😀

    2. Wikipedia tells me that today’s farmers flood the fields when it’s time to harvest them but apparently they don’t need a huge amount of water for other times in their growing season. I was actually wondering about that when I was writing but I was all, just keep going and check later. 🙂

  6. I like this a lot better, Xina! The humor makes the main character much more human, and there is no longer so much confusion regarding the riders he meets, as he slowly realizes they might be a threat. Good job!

    1. Thanks so much, Ruth! Yes, I agree that it’s better and I’m so appreciative of your comments that helped make it that way! Sometimes we all need a little nudge to embark on this focus intensive writing (or rewriting!) process.

  7. Chiggers. *shudder* Oh, how I despise chiggers! I’ll take mosquitoes over chiggers any day. Especially Alaskan mosquitoes. They’re huge, but they’re slow.

    I love this excerpt. The whole, “this isn’t as fun as it sounded” thing appeals to me. I’ve only known a few people who ever enjoyed traveling alone, and they were usually uber-social types who stuck to the cities.

    1. Thanks so much, Regi! Good point about traveling alone and sticking to the cities. I’ve actually done a bit of solitary travel (not on foot, though!) and I enjoyed it, but it was only for a few days and I had the comfort of a rental car!

  8. So many awesome descriptions here… and then… “stinking mud”. It’s strange, but unless the mud is something more than wet dirt, usually mud doesn’t stink much. Or is the narrator expressing a personal opinion to the sucky dirt? 😉

  9. Fantastic excerpt Xina! The part about the prostitute really made me chuckle! I like the way you’ve set the scene from the very beginning. We know that your protagonist is on an adventure, we know that he’s finding it tough. You also give a good sense of place, of his surroundings and the sorts of (not so salubrious!) people he’s coming into contact with. Great! 🙂

  10. I love the voice in this one. Now this character I could engage with. I like him already, and can sympathize with bits of his current dilemma. I can say, commercial cranberry growers do grow the berries in bogs (which they term a marsh). I had family in the cranberry business. They flood them to prevent them from freezing out. There are times of the year they get very little sleep because they are ‘watching frost’. Anyhow, that’s the commercial side of things. I have absolutely no idea how cranberries grow in the wild.

    So, back to the excerpt, lots of parts made me snicker. That’s good. This line is my only nit: ‘All at once, I remembered the traditional greeting.’ It’s the use of ‘all at once’. It’s one of those phrases that tends to annoy me. I don’t know why, but it makes me think of the old batman cartoons where they would put the BAM or POW in those nice little stars. 😉 I know, makes very little sense and I’m not doing well explaining it. I blame it on a lingering head cold. *sniff*

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