Two days ago, I posted an excerpt from R.S.Guthrie’s writing help book Ink. Yesterday, I shared a section of one of my Works In Progress. Today, I break it down, and I hope you tell me whether you think I succeeded in showing you what happened, or if I told you what happened.
I stole along the hallway that lead to my former cell as I had when I escaped. I still didn’t know why it had been switched from the one closer to the arena, but didn’t really care either. Cool air from an unseen opening to the outside blew gently across my face. I soon found myself at the intersection from my previous journey through here. I wondered if I should continue forward towards the source of the breeze, or to my left and into the darkness. After several moments of indecisiveness, I resorted to eenie-meenie-miney-moe. I went left, into the darkness, with some trepidation. I had no idea what was down here. I was bothered by the fact that I hadn’t heard anything since I left Weijia on the elevator, and the dark silence was kind of spooky the way it seemed to lay heavily on me. As I walked, the air seemed to grow thicker, heavier and more ominous. Oddly enough, even though there was no light in the hallway, it appeared to get gradually darker. Just ahead of me, I heard a little boy giggle suddenly. I froze, the hairs on my body all standing at attention, goose bumps running over my body. The sound stopped with no echoes. I drew the sword I had gotten from a clan Silverhame smith. I was glad to have its weight in my hand.
I wanted to show Carter’s worry, and nervousness about being in this location again. I also wanted to show something was hunting him.
I resumed walking, and then I heard footsteps behind me. I whirled around, bringing the longsword up in a defensive posture. When I halted, the footsteps also stopped. I held my breath, straining my ears for any sounds, but there were none. I reluctantly began to walk again, but this time I heard nothing except my own heartbeat which had ramped up remarkably. The silence didn’t remain for long, however. Just ahead of me, I heard a baby begin to cry. I began to hurry, the fear in that young voice spurring my steps. The crying baby changed to a young girl shrieking, then a young woman screaming, then an old woman choking, then stopped. I admit, my nerves were now completely shot. I stumbled to a halt again, and simply leaned against a stone wall, trembling like I had a cold.
Here, I wanted to show that though Carter is scared, he’s willing to push past to help someone in need. And, I wanted to build the tension.
After I had caught my breath again, and regained my composure, I pushed against the wall, intending to go upright. Instead, I felt the hardness of the stone give way to the soft yielding of flesh. At the same time, I felt a long, wet tongue slide up the side of my face. I screamed in revulsion and disgust and thrust my sword at who, or whatever had just licked me. The only resistance my sword felt was when it impacted the far wall of the hallway. Malevolent laughter echoed through the darkness.
Here, I wanted to show his hunter’s power, and ability to get into Carter’s head.
A sinister voice whispered near my right ear, “If you do not study…”
Then, it moved to just in front of me and thundered,
“YOU! SHALL NOT!! PAAASSSSS!!!!”
As the booming of the abrupt shout died away, I started laughing aloud.
“Really?” I said, wiping tears of mirth from my eyes. “Are you really misquoting Lord of the Rings at me?!”
Here, I wanted to give the reader a small break from the tension with a little humor. I also wanted the reader and Carter to relax a bit.
There was no response. Still chuckling a bit, I resumed walking. I gradually became aware that I could faintly see the stone walls and floor of the hallway again. I walked further, and the light grew only a little brighter. I soon realized it was due to a mist that somehow hung in the air. After another five minutes of travel, it was like I was in an ethereal realm. I moved to touch the wall on my right hand so I wouldn’t get turned around, and my hand met nothing. I stumbled forward into the mist and landed on my stomach, knocking the wind from myself.
I took a couple of minutes to recover, not fully noticing the moisture that was sinking into my clothing. I finally stood, and when my clothing clung to me, swore. ‘Just what I fucking need: my clothes to be wet,’ I thought. I trudged across the sodden, muddy ground, grimacing with disgust with each step. I really hated the feel of wet deerskin against my flesh. Thunder rumbled off to my right, causing me to wonder if I had wandered outside somehow. A warm rain began to fall on me. Finding it infinitely better than the cold dampness that had already surrounded me, I paused to enjoy it. I tilted my head back to better enjoy the feel of the rain. I soon caught whiff of a familiar, coppery scent. I opened my eyes. Sure enough, blood was falling from the sky like rain. I heaved a sigh and trudged onwards. Ten feet later, I tripped over a stone block. I rolled onto my back, clutching my injured shin and swearing like a sailor.
With this section, I wanted to build the tension up in a hurry. At the same time, I wanted to gross out the reader a bit.
Something made me roll rapidly to my right. The world imploded around me. I smelled ozone an instant before a shockwave sent me rolling further away. When the world ceased spinning, I sat up and opened my eyes. The mist cleared enough for me to see a blackened crater where I had been laying just moments before. ‘Okay, somebody doesn’t want me to continue. I must be going the right way,’ I thought. Curiosity had me check out the stone I tripped over earlier. I picked up my dropped sword as I approached it.
The stone looked to be ordinary granite. It was largely white with striations of grey and black. It was also polished to a high sheen. From the angle I approached it from, I couldn’t make anything else out. I walked around and froze, my heart in my throat. Claws had gouged out a name and two dates.
CARTER MARCUS BLAKE
10/9/20XX – 5/6/20XX
I must admit: seeing that freaked me out. For one, I never use my middle name. I can’t stand it. For another, I had an inkling that the second date was today. I heard a sliding step as if someone was attempting to sneak up on me. I whirled, sword up in a ready defensive position. There was no one there. I cautiously made my way passed the stone with my name on it and began to move faster, something telling me that time was running out.
With this section, I wanted to show the demon hunting Carter was a master of psychological warfare. I want it to seem like the demon has a way in the reader’s mind, too.
A large dark shape plummeted to the ground in front of me. I leaped backward instinctively. Lightning flashed rapidly, illuminating the newcomer in staccato bursts. It was one of the largest demons I had ever seen. It was crouched in front of me, black wings furled over its massive muscled back. It had four long, thick arms, the lower two of which were planted on the ground and two hugely muscled legs, coiled and ready to launch it into action. It had long and sharp looking horns sticking out of its skull-like head. An elongated, heavy tail swished back and forth like a cat’s. It watched me with glowing silvery orange eyes, licking its face occasionally. Its wings unfurled and began to lazily flap, stirring up a surprisingly pleasant breeze. The wings were black near the demon’s shoulders and gradually faded to red near the primary feathers. There was a stripe of yellow at delineating the covert feathers. Keeping its eyes on me, the demon slowly raised one of its arms from the ground, carefully moved it forward, and then lowered it. This movement was followed promptly by a matching step forward by its opposite leg. ‘This thing is stalking me,’ I thought with wonder.
Trying to show that I wouldn’t be intimidated, I twirled my sword before me, then snapped it down to my right. Outwardly, I was bold, ready to fight. Inwardly, I was nervous and scared as hell. The demon lowered its body, ready to pounce. I dropped my right foot behind me, turning to that I would present a smaller target and so that I could put more power behind my first swing. I brought my sword up into my left hand and gripped it lightly, yet firmly. The demon took another slow step forward, this time moving the opposite arm and leg from last time.
The demon launched into its attack. My swinging sword was tore from my grasp. Sword flew in one direction, I in another. I rolled a few feet, and lunged upright. The demon was on me in an instant, ripping and clawing at my flesh. I frantically threw up my forearms and knees to block its unrelenting assault. After four frantic minutes, I saw an opening and took ruthless advantage. It swung both of its right arms at my head. I ducked under the upper fist, blocked the lower one with my forearms and launched my right knee up into its jaw, staggering the monster. It roared in frustration and swung both its left arms. I landed in a crouch. When both left fists whistled through the air over my head, I slammed my left elbow into its right knee. The demon’s knee buckled as it bellowed in pain. It crashed to the ground. I rose to my feet and raced for my sword.
I want to show that just because Carter knows how to fight, due to his time in the arena, he’s not invincible.
I reached it, and took it gladly into my hands once more. I turned to the demon, ready to resume the battle on more equal terms. Moving faster that I thought possible, the demon charged. When it reached me, I found myself lifted in the air. The demon had each of my limbs in one of its colossal hands. It roared in my face and then flung me. I flew on a short, hard trajectory and crashed into a wall. My skull bounced against it, sending sparkles of light shooting across my sight. The impact knocked the wind from me and caused my vision to go blurry. My ears rang, and I felt nauseous. I wasn’t sure of where I was, or what had happened to me. I slowly pushed myself upright and saw two four-armed demons charging at me. I tried to get to my feet, but couldn’t seem to get my limbs to work together. The demon yanked me up and slammed me against the wall again. It began to batter me with its free fists. My body twitched and swung from the thud of its fists. It was interesting: I was able to feel the impacts, but I felt no pain.
I wanted the reader to know that Carter’s skull bouncing off the wall gave him a concussion.
The demon flung me away from it again. My flight was once more short, and remarkably, pleasant. The landing, a lot less so. Fortunately, the jarring landing served to clear the cobwebs from my mind. I rolled to my feet just as the demon landed hard where I had just been lying. Instinct had me rocketing my fist up to explode against its jaw as I shoved my feet against the ground to provide extra force. The demon’s head snapped back, and it crashed to the ground. Pain raced up from my damaged hand, grabbed a dance partner in my shoulder and did the tango in my skull to the tune of a throbbing headache. I tasted copper in my mouth and spat to one side. Blood and a tooth hit the ground.
“You bastard,” I said.
I looked at the demon which was just getting to its hands and knees. I ran up and punted the demon in its head as if I were trying to kick the winning fifty yard field goal at the Super Bowl with the entire New England Patriots defensive line attempting to stop me. The arch of my foot caught it on its jaw. My knee caught the side of its horn. The demon collapsed, semi-conscious. I collapsed, clutching my knee. I rolled around for a couple of minutes until the demon let out a gasping snore, reminding me of its presence. I got up, hobbled over to where I last saw my sword and picked it up, swearing under my breath. I balanced on my non-bruised leg and kicked the other one out a few times, trying to work the pain out. I gingerly set my foot back down and tested my weight on it. When it held up, I turned and limped back to where the demon was just beginning to stir.
In this section, I wanted this to show that sometimes, an act of desperation can win a fight.
‘Hey, I’m Dr. Gregory House,’ I thought randomly. The demon had pushed itself back up to it hands and knees once more. I poised near its shoulders, my sword held tightly in my hands. I held it above its neck and paused, waiting for it to come further up. As it did, I brought the sharp blade down with all my might. A scream of fury issued from my lungs as the longsword impacted, then sliced through, the demons thick neck. Crimson blood shot up from the stump like a geyser. It slashed against me, hot and delicious. I stood over the demon corpse, savoring my victory. My chest heaved as I thrust my bloody sword in the air and bellowed my triumph to the sky.
With this section, I wanted a bit of humor to give the reader a break from the tension, and at the same time, to show that Carter’s still affected by the head injury. With the last three lines, I want the reader to feel the same exhilaration that he did.
Well, folks, did I succeed here? Let me know in the comments below. If I did, thank R.S.Guthrie by purchasing his book over at Amazon, or Barnes & Noble. If I didn’t, blame me.
- Show, Don’t Tell Lesson Pt I (beginingsinwriting.wordpress.com)