Saturday, August 19, 2006

Prologue Preview

Hello and Happy Saturday!

After much thought and consideration, I decided to share my prologue from the thread that got away.

I had rewritten it at least four times. I liked each sucessive attempt, thinking it did get better but not having an in-the-know critque expert, I write in the dark and am never sure or confident.

I find that my initial draft qualifies me as a minimalist. Very sparse in descriptive background. I never thought I'd say this, but, I'm AFRAID of putting too much description!

I have the feeling that I'd get lost in all those words - but you know what? I got lost anyway. So , I'm being a "Chicken Little" ... perhaps just going with the flow is a healther way to be. (?)

That said,

Read it and cringe: ( or double over in laughter from how juvenile this is):

In the cloud dappled autumn moonlight, a lone figure walked erratically within shadows of despair. Barely visible, she wore a patchwork patterned leather duster whose colors were curious shades of tan, brown and beige. The coat’s panels were held together with a clumsy and inconsistent whipstitch lending the garment a macabre and discordant air. An upturned collar partially hid the host’s face; scraggly shoulder length hair limply slid forward to obscure the rest. Hunched shoulders spoke of defeat or fear but no emotions registered on her face. A hand, chapped from exposure , with its maroon tipped nails chipped, ragged and pealing, lifted up and weakly caressed the opposite sleeve lovingly, sensuously, then slowly glided over to the front to fondle the oddly shaped bone buttons before sliding back to the sleeve.

The host always had an almost unnatural love of the coat.
Gradually, footsteps became plodding, slow and uneven as the host headed towards a wild expanse of brush and weeds growing alongside a rusted chain link fence near the rear of an abandoned warehouse.
Physical discomfort seemed unacknowledged to the point where awareness appeared nonexistent. As the lone figure in the odd coat slowly sank to the ground, the duster revealed itself as being unfinished. One last leather panel needed to be obtained to complete its goal. The host sat silently, unmindful of ripped stockings, tattered dress and bloody feet while continuing to caress the sleeve as though touching a lost friend, a comfort, a soothing.

The motion slowed, grew halting, then stopped. A breath, gentle in strength, heavy in despair passed the victim’s dry, cracked and bleeding lips, sending a sigh of farewell into the night.

The last glimpse of movement was of a lone tear tracking a dusty path down the side of the corpse’s now tranquil face while half-opened grey blue eyes stared in a lifeless gaze. Within the void of lifelessness, the sound of creaking leather could be heard, yet the body remained still. A movement, a shift, a sliding, the duster now covered the body while emitting a low hum as a yellowish grey mist rose over and around the inert form. Gradually, the hum faded, the hazy cloud dissipated revealing a corpse with its frontal portion of skin removed. Alongside the victim, a patchwork duster lay on the ground.

A short time later, a homeless man, jacket worn thin and patched stumbled upon the body.
Horrified by the grisly sight and stench of death, he started backing away. A shadow of color carried on a chilled wind wrapped itself around his legs, swirled up his body with a deathly cold finger to graze his neck.
Shivering, he stopped and looked around quickly. Gingerly, he crept forward, crouched down and picked up the coat.

“ It’s not like yer gonna need this anymore.“ he mused aloud.

He shook the coat to it’s full length. “ And would ya look at this beauty. A perfectly good coat, all nice and solid like.“

He tossed his tattered jacket to the ground and shrugged his bony arms into the sleeves.

“Yup,- just perfect.“

I've been thinking of switching the word "color" for "yellow" in keeping with the glow that covered the body.
I'll also admit that a few changes I've made, have come from a wonderful blog buddy to whom I am SO grateful to for being willing to even read this, never mind the valuable input.

Keep in mind that the entire prologue came from a dream It was SO detailed that it moved me to put it in words.
I just wish that I'd have dreamt more than just this tiny part. Anything that came after I had to conciously think of.

So, that's all folks.

Jason mentioned my overuse of adverbs and such. Anyone want to point out some glaring examples from this excerpt? I can't zero in on what could be cut. Maybe if I "saw" an example, I can comprehend and get a grip on things better that way.
I'm a visual learner anway.
Again, Thanks, Jason!

And Blogger still won't let me post a picture...rats.


Anonymous said...

Michele, I'm very proud you've put your writing out there! Such a hard step. I understand the fear all too well.

I understand where you are coming from with this prolog. My advice is to be sensitive to the vast difference between the fresh reader and you who are pouring over every word and line. As I read through, I felt a good deal could be cut in the description, adjectives, and adverbs. The amount of time to read should approximate the amount of time elapsed in the action, and if you're going to achieve that, you can only slip in one or two observations for each bit of action. You could hit the highlights here, give the reader plenty to work with, and move the action in much less space.

I offer these thoughts with the highest respect. Good writers want it straight, and I know you're a good writer!

Michele said...

Jason! Thank you!

And you're right, I DO want it straight.
No growth otherwise.

Good gravy, adjectives and adverbs? I still have my old college Grammar handbook so I think I'm going to crack it open and refresh myself. I wonder if I should have posted the original..had much less in it, about two paragraphs tops.

Back to the thinking board, :-)

Brandy said...

Still evokes images that haunt me Michele.

Michele said...


Brandy said...

NOT FUNNY. I will NEVER look at a leather coat the same way again.

Michele said...

Ha! Just you wait,,, blogger wasn't cooperating, I have a picture of whipstiching on a leather patchwork coat...
Double Bwahahahaaa!

Anonymous said...

Michele, if you want me to do more, I can, but I'm very sensitive to the too-many-cooks-in-the-kitchen effect. In a critique partner, it's important to have a similar view. My writing style may not be your cup of tea. However, if you want me to show you specifics of what I would suggest, I'd be happy to do that.

Michele said...

Jason, you sweety! Thank you.
Right now, I'm basically the only chef in the kitchen.
I'm very fuzzy on the credit, but isn't there a famous author - Twain? - that said to the effect, it is better to say it in one word, the right word, than chose many and miss the point.?

Whoever said it, had a much better grasp on the English language than is common nowadays.

Then again, this little piece is one that is on hold. I have my other one that I'm currently having fun with.
Perhaps that's the one that needs the help...*ahem* and since I have up to 4600 words, and the one with the prologue only has about 2400, you can see which one I'm enthusiastic about...*shrug* . There's always a flip side to things...maybe this will revv the engine up again for the story ......decisions, decisions..LOL

Throw some specifics at me, Jason, I can take it! :-)

M.E Ellis said...

I'll crit/edit this when I've done my blog round and email you my results.


Anonymous said...

Here's a crack at setting the scene:

Moonlight sprinkled over the trees as she walked. Her footfalls crunched and crunched in the fallen leaves.

The air shifted with a breath of cold, and she pulled the leather duster tighter. Shadows clung to its strange patchwork. It was long, and warm, but not complete. Sweeping along the ground, one missing panel lay open against the air. Like a missing tooth revealed in a smile.

Her hands moved along the leather, as she pushed deeper into the night.

After this much description, I go straight to the action.

Michele said...

Oh, I like the "missing tooth" part, Jason. "Shifted with a breath of cold", another nice description.
I'll mull the advice over Jason. Thanks so much for the direction!

Michele said...

LOL, I guess I should have said,
I'll mull over the advice, Jason.

Sounds like I was going to accost you! *VBG*

Mailyn said...

That was AWESOME! Loved it. Let me guess, it's the coat that's killing people? Cuz I could totally see that happening/ LOVED it!

Michele said...

Thanks, Mailyn!
And you are right! However,the coat isn't truly a coat. Just looks like it.
*rascally grin*
Only I know what it really is...Bwahaha

Bailey Stewart said...

Jason has a point. Too much description can ruin a scene. When I write my first draft I put everything in - the full picture (as you can tell from my excerpts) then later I go back and pick out the phrases that fit it best.

Good job - love the idea of the storyline.

Zinnia said...

There's merit here, but I agree with the first commentor.

Michele said...

Thanks Zinnia. I've since done some research. Yes, indeed, those "ly" words are my nemisis.

Merit? Oh, **HUGS**

Michele said...

Thanks Bailey! Looks like I put the kitchen sink in without realizing it, eh?

With everyone's wonderful input, it can only get better. I just may pick up the thread but go a different way. Nothing wrong with that, right?