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 Here it goes....

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living sacrifice

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PostSubject: Here it goes....   Wed Apr 07, 2010 5:25 pm

Alright. This is a segment of my current work in progress. Its based loosely off of reality and people that I have known and heard of in Asia, to be as vague as possible. Very Happy You won't be able to get any real idea of the plot just by this, but I'm looking more for actual writing critique. I don't think I've ever posted something like this on one of the forums, or if I have it was a long time ago. Any critique or advice would be greatly appreciated.


I had freckles although I'm sure during most of my childhood days no one would have known. Certainly no one would have known on that day. I remember that afternoon, standing under a cascade of rainwater falling from the high roof of that old brick building. It washed away the sticky summer heat and filthy mud clinging to my bare chest and tattered pants, if not succeeding entirely at bringing it away from the long, matted locks of hair atop my head. Once, a long time before, someone had told me that if I kept it clean and cut it would "be the color of golden sunshine all the better to compliment those sea-gray eyes." Of course as of yet I had never found out if she was telling the truth or not.

But I should not delay too long in noting that I am of little account or importance in this story. I have only been asked to begin it and contribute where I may to its telling.

I remember doing a great deal of thinking while I waited there. It was one of those somber times in my soul that any one would have thought impossible if he could see only my outward actions. Temporally my life was one way, but within my life that lives on was another and for Matias - I call him the name he was called then because I know he would have it no other way - it was the same.

Quick, sloshing footsteps came from around the corner and it was then that I remembered what I was supposed to doing. I knew he would not be pleased, but before I had time to respond Mati himself came running around the corner.

Those deep and mischievous green eyes peering out from the mud on his face alighted with fury. The world certainly knows those eyes and will not soon forget them, but I am one of the few who saw them while they were young. He stood half a head taller than me and three miles above me at the same time if I could have seen it then.

“Tio!” he yelled through pouring rain. “You were supposed to keep watch!” Of course I turned to run but he was quick. He sprung on me like a lion and splashed me to the ground. His fist came down hard in my gut once and then twice.

Then like an angel of sweet mercy the faint sounds of voices were heard somewhere in the distance. Without a word he rose to his feet and reached out a hand to help me up. I remember that hand and the ring that adorned its pointing finger as clearly as if the rain were splashing on it now before my waking eyes.

I took the hand and shook away the pain. We ran along the wall to a rotting wooden door and flung it open. The hall in front of us flooded with the pale light of a rainy afternoon. The sights and sounds in the hall, or rather that there were no sights or sounds, unnerved me greatly. The freshly cleaned brick walls spoke of tension just waiting to be relieved by small muddy hands, screaming, fighting and disorder.

We had no time to spare. Mati put a single finger over his mouth and ran on silently down the hall and up the stairwell at the other end. It creaked terribly as we went up to the second level. We could hardly contain our excitement as we flung open the door and ran through the bunks, stacked one on top of the other and perfectly made with threadbare sheets, at least for a day.

The room was meant to house around 150 boys, but it was no secret that it now accommodated over triple its capacity. The orphanage had begun to struggle after the war, and once the new headmaster came it fell apart entirely. Over ten long years of fighting, our nation’s enemies steadily received more attention than our own children. We were being destroyed from within and without. The squalor of the city in those days was nearly beyond imagination. Even those considered more fortunate than us were starving, and we no less. Many of us were malnourished, and those who could not fight for their food hardly ever ate. The headmaster and the few workers at the orphanage held little control over the children, beyond keeping them inside the walls and outside the headmaster’s personal quarters.
Myself, Mati, and the twins, Yo and Bo as we called them, survived because we were together and we could fight and not even the older kids would often get in our way.

Mati and I considered ourselves brothers, even though there was little evidence to suggest it was so. As long as we could remember we had felt that way. The twins were handsome boys with dark skin and black curly hair, which unlike many of us they kept well-groomed. About three years before that day, the twins had arrived at the orphanage after their mother died of an epidemic. They were not like us. They knew what it was like outside of that place and helped to plant in our hearts the seeds of longing to be free from it, even though Yo was often hesitant to make a move against the authority of the government in placing us there. After they arrived we quickly adopted each other as brothers alike.

We both peeked over the edge of an open window on the far end. Mati was nearly giddy with excitement and I could only hope that it would make him forget about earlier.
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Invisible

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PostSubject: Re: Here it goes....   Thu Apr 08, 2010 9:13 pm

I like Mati. And I can see the orphanage in my head, which is a good thing.
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living sacrifice

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PostSubject: Re: Here it goes....   Fri Apr 09, 2010 6:21 am

Anything else to say on the writing? I'm trying to improve my craft as much as I can now that I'm more serious about being published.
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Leanna



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PostSubject: Re: Here it goes....   Sun Apr 25, 2010 12:02 am

Thai Light,

I feel like there is too much movement between the "future" and the "present" in this short segment. I enjoy the memoir-esque introductory paragraph, it reads like the opening of an audio drama in my head. Very Happy
The second paragraph feels odd and out of place to me. Is it really necessary? If it is maybe it should come first. Example:
"Before I begin, I should inform you that I am of little account or importance in this story. I would leave it for others to tell except that I am also the only one able to tell it from the day it truly all started.

I had freckles..."

After Mati helps him up, I think you should stay within a present "POV" showing what is happening on the auspicious day and not tell the reader about the orphanage and the war and the squalor. There is little emotional resonance in being told "The squalor of the city in those days was nearly beyond imagination". It makes a greater impact if the reader "sees" food being taken from a small child who can't fight for himself.
Introduce the twins when they actually come onto the scene and the let the reader discover them more through what they do and say.

Anyhoo, I hope there is something in my suggestions of use to you! Thanks so much for posting the excerpt. bounce
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living sacrifice

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PostSubject: Re: Here it goes....   Mon Apr 26, 2010 5:51 pm

Thanks so much for the critique Leanna! i really do appreciate it. Haven't had much time to set aside just for writing lately, so I haven't even looked at that piece again yet.
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living sacrifice

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PostSubject: Re: Here it goes....   Wed Jun 16, 2010 5:59 am

This is the first part of a story I wrote from a strange dream I had a long time ago that is yet unnamed.

I dreamed I saw a band of worn soldiers sleeping in a wood. The sky was too darkened by storm clouds to tell the difference between dawn and midday. My mind was drawn toward one of them with dark hair and intense features. He looked like the image of an ancient king brought out from a mural into living day. As I came closer the subtlest movements of his slumbering face seemed to take me in to his soul. I saw every thought and feeling as clearly as if they were my own, and yet it also seemed that I watched him from a distance in the usual manner of dreams.

The chilly morning air felt different today. What it once calmed and embraced it now smothered and crushed. It pierced deeply past his skin and straight into his bones until it seemed to pass even the ever thinning veil in the heart of the king between flesh and spirit. He wandered now in that place between; between sleep and awake, between what is forever and what soon passes away, to the very point where light shines in darkness and the pain of the soul is most acutely felt. Terrible glimpses of what no man should ever behold still lingered in that place. And yet, something stayed his hand from reaching out to take hold of the waking world. What if it was better to remain in the land of dreaded dreams and fearful uncertainty than to face the dark day ahead?

Just as he let himself drift back into dreams, a bucket of water sizzled on the dying fire and snatched him away against his will. He sprung up and took the sword beside him before he realized it was too late to go back.

Green eyes stared out from the dark and foreboding face of his last remaining captain. The king remembered back to days in the palace when this man had been noble and regal with a well trimmed beard of bright red, and joy in those eyes. Now he was covered in dirt and the only redness seen in his disheveled hair was that of dried blood.

Within seconds, fifteen men circled their king ready to fight. When he had inherited the throne from his father, this army was called great and their battle lines impenetrable. They said that none then living could see the walls of their city fall.

But they had seen it fall with their own eyes. The great stone battlements crumbled into dust and the flesh of thousands of their countrymen became the grisly feast of evil.

The men looked to him anxiously, as the hopeless look to those more hopeless than they.

“Here we are,” he said, “the remnant of our women and children behind us, and the enemy before us. I could pretend that I still feel some nobility in me, but the truth is I don’t feel any pride at all and in fact………in fact I blame the end of our people on my pride.” He looked up into their eyes. “Forgive me for what I’ve done.” A tear fell softly to the ground and as then if the stars themselves felt compassion, the dark clouds above gave way to a downpour.

“My lord,” said the captain. “If it is true that you have in some way wronged us, I assure you that it is already forgiven. And every man here will follow you to the end, whatever it may be.” He drew his sword and they all did the same. Their faces held the same somber expression the king imagined in all the great stories of brave men going out to certain death. And now here he was; the king preparing to say stirring words that would echo through the ages and empower the men to fight courageously to their death, if not for any hope of saving their people, then for a glorious end.

But the moment seemed beyond great words and as glorious as their end may be, it didn’t seem like it was meant to happen. Of all things the king could be feeling the most overwhelming sense was agitation. Fear had passed away, but courage had not taken its place. Hope had long since forsaken them, but the king did not feel despair.

He could not accept his doom, but what could be done to change it? The thought plagued him even then; could seemingly irreversible decisions also be redeemed? Everything his heart could see was darkness and confusion.

An all too familiar piercing screech sliced through the rain; the sounding trumpet of doom rushing on them like a stampede. It was the Accursed and all those of the king's people who had succumb to their devilry or else submitted to their tyranny.

The warriors had not the heart to answer with a battle cry; not today. Every man's mind was fixed on the army before them and the women behind, waiting also with such weapons as they had to be the last defense for the mountain where the most helpless of their people waited.

The king thought only of his wife standing in the front of the line, her face no doubt brave and strong as always, and of his infant son in the caves behind, who would never sit on the shining throne in the halls of their fathers or roll and giggle in the spring grass.
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