The Revised and Slower Produced Short Story.

I tread in a rather unsteady manner up the grey, blocked stone steps, attempting to mask my movements in the dead of night. My heart hammered in my chest and my eyes grew wide as I watched the shadows dancing against the spiral staircase, winding around to an unseen corner, and shivering their ghost-like forms on the cold, dry, stone walls. A draft wailed through the square, open window which caused the candle in my hand to flicker causing the shadows to wave and dance with the moaning song of the gust. I was not afraid of the dark however; I was afraid of being discovered awake and moving about at this time of night. I crept with the quiet footfalls of a mouse, at least I thought so in my head, and moved at an agonizingly slow pace ever upward. I rounded the final twist and saw the old, worn wooden door with a golden ring for a handle that meant only it could be pulled shut.

I approached the door with trepidation, my hand quivering as I reached out to push the dry, aged door as slow as a snail. The creaking seemed as loud as trumpets marking the arrival of royalty. I cringed and glanced back into the shadows swallowing the stairs behind me. I breathed a sigh of relief as I saw no one there, no light coming from a further distance to discover who had made such an awful racket. At last the door was open enough for my small body to slip through, and I rushed into the room with the care of one who does not wish to be caught doing something they ought not to be, and closed the door in a careful manner with equal slowness to the way I had opened it.

Heart pounding in my chest, the sound reverberated in my head like a loud, too fast clock thrumming my ears with each beat. I rushed to the desk eager to crack open the tomes that lay scattered across it. These were my Grandfather’s, and my Father’s, although I was under the impression my Father did not much care for them or read them like my Grandfather did. I climbed up into the wooden chair and cracked open the musty, yellow paged book.

The pungent aroma of dust, old wood and aged paper assaulted my nostrils, and dust seemed to puff in a cloud from the pages making me shake my head and make a rather unpleasant face. I coughed and then began to read about the forces of the Arcane, and though some of the terms and ideas made no sense to me at the time, I still studied with enthusiasm. Each word passed through my mind and seemed to captivate me further, so engrossed in the read reading was I that I had not heard the old door creak open and so I jumped nearly out of my skin as I heard a gruff old voice behind me.

I shivered, my eyes large as it spoke, “You boy..you are not to be up here at this hour! Nor without supervision!” then in a much softer voice, laughing “But I understand, son..I understand the drive to know. Come, sit with your old Pappy and let me teach you.”

“Do you really mean it Pappy? You won’t tell my father I’m up here?” I questioned, scarcely able to believe it. I thought my grim future was certain, due for some horrible punishment.

“Of course boy, I have long waited for one as eager as you to learn all I know. Your Father..he did not take to it the way I wished he had. The legacy must go on, my child. We must not forget the gifts of the great ancestor..here let me show you what I mean,” he explained to me as he reached for another musty old tome, this one with no title.

It was brown and the leather binding the cover was cracked and old, the book looked ancient, and the pages were brittle and yellowed to the point of almost brown. It had a strong smell of age to it, but it was not unpleasant. Perhaps this particular smell of old books was another reason I found myself reading so often.

He cracked the book open with the reverence as though it were a holy book and I turned my face up toward his old, grizzled, white bearded face, looking at him in wonder, my voice expressing the look on my face, “How does it open without falling apart Pappy? It looks so OLD, it must be..it must be one hundred years old!”
Edited by Ravinsild on 12/3/2012 2:03 PM PST
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My grandfather laughed then, deep and rich, the sound filling the small cabin and his eyes twinkled with apparent merriment, “Oh dear boy, you have much to learn yet. This book is easily over six thousand years old if I had to guess, and the reason it does not fall apart is because we have enchanted it with preservation spells. They are quite easy to learn, and it will be the first spell I teach you. This knowledge must never be allowed to ruin or crumble or become lost to this family, do you understand me child?” His voice shifted over the course of the explanation from mirthful to serious, his expression giving credence to the gravity of his message.

“I-I think I do..I do not know!” I was feeling a little overwhelmed, the responsibility of keeping all of these books safe from the passage of time seemed enormous.

I did not know it at the time, but the library had grown with each generation, each mage adding his own volume or volumes to the library, the accumulated knowledge of the entire family for easily six thousand years. I did not know if I could care for such a precious treasure and I was feeling a little shaken.

It was apparent that my face conveyed my tumultuous emotions roiling inside, as my grandfather addressed these concerns in a kind and reassuring voice, “Do not worry lad, I will make sure you are prepared, and you have many years yet to learn all that there is to know..many, many years dear boy. This will not be thrust upon you so soon.”

I felt better at this, and looked up smiling, the excitement returning, the sparkle in my eyes cluing my grandfather to know I was the legacy of the family now, “When do I get to learn my first spell pappy?”

The great old Arcanist laughed his deep, belly filled laugh again, his thin, wiry frame shaking as he wiped tears from his eyes. Tears of joy and mirth, mingled into one, I would later realize. He had been so worried the tradition might die out as his own son had almost no interest in the subject of Magic, having learned only enough to satisfy his father’s demands.

Now, however, he knew that his grandson would carry on their great legacy. It seemed the boy had a drive that he found reminded him so much of how he thought and behaved when he was a young man so long ago.

“It will be tomorrow, I imagine, my boy. You’ve been reading for four years now, and I suppose I learned my first spell at the age of six as well..yes I think you are ready to learn the most basic of cantrips.” He smiled down at me, knowing full well how much this would excite me and I beamed up at him, amazed that I would soon be a wizard myself, and so soon! I was excited to show the few friends I had the incredible powers I would gain.

I turned my attention to the old, almost decrepit tome before me and began to read with an eagerness that seemed to burn unending, delving into the book. I soaked in the story of my ancestor and his great deeds forgetting myself as I dove into the text and meaning of his tale. I soon forgot that I sat upon my grandfather’s lap as I read, and I imagine he was thinking of all the things that he would be teaching me. My ancestor began his journal by describing his first meeting with the High Elves for an alliance between humans and elves against the green skinned savages he called Trolls.

He wrote that his name was Hammarskjold which meant shield. He was given this name by his people, the Arathians, due to his courageous and selfless deeds in being a primary defender in what I know now to be the Troll Wars. I imagined myself in that role; I knew I would inherit the Barony some day, but I would make sure that I grew in strength and power to become a shield to my people just as my ancestor had.

He described being a mere farmer when the Elves came. They were the most beautiful creatures he had ever seen. They were bathed in a mystical blue aura which seemed to permeate their very being, wrapping around their bodies, entwined with their very being. Sapphire eyes glowed like burning pools of fire in their heads, with chiseled, exotic features that were fine and delicate, gentle and subtle as though they were the most handsome, beautiful creation on this great world. His breathe was sucked away as his eyes moved over their lithe, tight figures that stood tall and proud with straight sun blonde hair that seemed too bright to be real. He wrote how he had to shield his eyes from their radiance, unable to speak at their inspiring presence. He did not know why such incredible beings had come, or why they deigned it suitable to speak with such a low born man as himself.
Edited by Ravinsild on 12/3/2012 1:51 PM PST
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They approached him in a rather formal and regal way and asked him in broken common if he could point them to their leader. He was shocked at their acknowledging him, and was quick to oblige their request escorting them to the city gates where a troop of guards met the small party and followed along as well. He wrote how the meeting took place, listening from a hidden place, as he was not welcome to the proceedings and negotiations out in the open, but was privy to the way events and subjects discussed from the shadows.

I remember he wrote about how they began training the humans in great academies, teaching them how to wield the forces of the Arcane, Frost and Fire. The strange visitors, as he described them, seemed so surprised at how fast and how well the humans learned this new, foreign art. All this time he observed them when he had a moment to spare, learning and listening to how they instructed their new pupils.

As time progressed he found he had the courage to try these strange new teachings in the secrecy of his own home. He practiced alone mimicking the incantations and hand gestures as he had spied them from his clandestine observations and was startled to find such spectacular results; results that burned his own house down, though it is noted that nobody was hurt.

He also chronicled how the authorities of the time came upon him followed by the Elves who insisted he tell them how this had all happened. He had lied at first as he knew he should not know the secrets of this magic being a low born man, but as it seemed those in charge were less than buying his story he confessed. While expecting to be reprimanded in a most heavy fashion he was instead surprised with their pleased reaction.

The Elves did not think the low folk capable of harnessing the art as well, but now had information to the contrary of this belief. They were also impressed at the sheer magnitude of power behind the spell that could destroy an entire house from such a novice; an uneducated, poor peasant able to conjure enough fire with no formal training may be honed into quite the powerful magi if given the proper tutelage. It was then my ancestor detailed that he learned how to read and write, as most commoners, if not all did not indeed know how to put pen to paper.

Before long the human nation of Arathor had some of, if not the most, in my ancestor’s opinion, powerful Magi on the continent. The entire time this had taken place the Trolls had been raiding the Elves and the Elves were backed into a desperate corner.

“At last they deemed us ready to assist them in this most heinous war,” wrote my ancestor, “And much to the amazement of the population of our fair and mighty kingdom, we did not march to war against the trolls. We did not walk on our feet to the beautiful, enchanting kingdom of Quel’Thalas. Such miniscule behavior was now beneath us. No, we did not MARCH to war,” this part written in capitalization as though to emphasize his point further, “we teleported. We arrived in a dizzying, nauseating instant.”

“It was the most breath taking city I had ever beheld. I wondered if my eyes did deceive me, if this was some side effect of the powerful Magick entrusted to us, but alas what mine eyes did perceive was real and tangible. I touched the glorious structures, shining and entwined with the earth, as though Earth and structure were one, made whole with the land instead of standing separate and against it. The very walls seemed to curve naturally, rather than the harsh blocky structures of my own kingdom. It was as though I had arrived in paradise itself and I knew then why the Elves felt so strongly to protect this heaven on Azeroth against the savage, green skinned trolls to the south,” he wrote in astonishing detail of the Elvin lands.

I imagine this entry displayed the very attitude that had him named Hammarskjold..Shield, “It was then that I, too, felt the need to preserve this tradition; the legacy of the Arcane and the splendor of this land. It was then I decided that my son would learn the ways too, and we would use this new skill to defend this world from evil. The lands of Arathor would be safe so long as we had the mighty Elves as allies and our own potent magic. However first we needed to save the Elves if we were to maintain a prosperous relationship to learn more of their secrets.”

My ancestor made me long to see these wonderful Elvin cities so far beyond our own wall. So cornered and trapped were we here, like mice in a barrel, I remembered thinking with a rather stout degree of bitterness. I dreamed of becoming powerful enough to whisk myself away at a whim to any city I so chose; little did I know how far the Elves and their magnificent civilization had fallen. I returned my attention to the narrative at hand, continuing to read the account of my ancestor and the first human Magi.

To Be Continued---
Edited by Ravinsild on 12/3/2012 1:52 PM PST
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Father and grandfather are not proper nouns.

At least, in this sense:

"My grandfather went to the store" vs "Grandfather went to the store."

The possessive pronoun "my" reduces it to a common noun because it's not GRANDFATHER, it is "your" grandfather, as everyone has a grandfather.

Also, your paragraphs are very unwieldy. Break them down. Format your dialog properly, as well.


I'll have to google proper dialogue formatting, I suppose.

Also I guess I'll need to reread it to find where I used Grandfather as a proper noun and fix the issue. Thanks for the feedback.
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I suppose I am very out of practice at this whole writing thing. Thanks for the critique but it burns with negatives and leaves nothing positive to indicate I am doing anything right, which is mildly discouraging.

However, I do appreciate the notes and I think I will look for unneccessary things. Due to the fact the story is not finished, however, I have at least a bit of foreshadowing, I hope. I might be executing it poorly, but the name shield is supposed to lend credence to the attitude Ravinsild develops as he ages, a protective/shieldlike attitude toward his people and the greater Gilneas as a Baron.

It is part of what drives him later in the story to seek unconvential methods of magic (Necromancy). The..allegorical (I guess is the right word?) shield broke when he did not, in fact, defend Gilneas and now he must create a new Shield and strengthen it. This all stems from who his ancestor was.

I suppose I ought the develop the ancestor more. The beginning where he is not afraid of the dark or shadow is hopefully intended to be foreshadowing to the fact that he seeks unconvential "dark" magic in neromancy and so forth.

I may be doing this all wrong, and like you said I need to gap the paragraphs more. Contain more information in each smaller segment rather than blocks of text.

I'm sorry you dislike the story; I tried my best and felt it was much improved even over the second draft.
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However, I do appreciate the notes and I think I will look for unneccessary things. Due to the fact the story is not finished, however, I have at least a bit of foreshadowing, I hope. I might be executing it poorly, but the name shield is supposed to lend credence to the attitude Ravinsild develops as he ages, a protective/shieldlike attitude toward his people and the greater Gilneas as a Baron.


I meant in the context of the story as a reader. First, where did he discover that it meant shield? You then made it "apparent" that it was the case because of his defense, but that doesn't really hold as anyone could feel that way. I assume that this is the word for shield in some Scandanavian language, which is fine, but IU you need to connect it better.

It'd be like saying a troll called Kimchi "amigo" because it means "friend".


So in other words rewrite the sentence to hold better context. Explain how my character would know it means shield, or perhaps have it..bestowed upon the ancestor character by the Arathorians and explain why it was given and its meaning, and having forgotten or never mentioning his former name?

Basically just make it make more sense with better logic/explanation?

EDIT: Beyond the clumsy, redundant presentation, is there anything worth keeping or done well?

EDIT 2: I will explain myself in one way: I learned ins chool from a very good teacher and writer that using I thing adverbs? Is lazy writing. Basically things that ends in ly; Quaintly,
Quietly etc..

So I tend to ramble on in those sentences to avoid using those words. I made a conscious and active effort which may have made the writing sort of meander too much
Edited by Ravinsild on 12/3/2012 11:41 AM PST
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I never understood why people had such an issue with adverbs. There's nothing wrong with them so long as they aren't used excessively. If I am constantly and repeatedly stating things in an overtly and perhaps too descriptively worded manner then yes, it's going to be an issue, but that can go with adjectives or prepositions as well.

Flow is what is important, not the manner in which a word is ended.


I suppose so; however I feel that perhaps thinking of a way to word things without using an adjective can be a fun challenge that may help one improve their writing?

That said I've already broken down several of the paragraphs and reworded/rewritten some parts. I was going to take a second sweep through and post the results here as edited in posts.

That said, was anything actually GOOD about the story? In strengths in my particular writing style that stand out?
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88 Human Warrior
8085
I think there's a balance to be found between spending too much time tacking on adverbs to paint your verbs the color you want, and looking too colorful by choosing all verbs that have color of their own. In other words, I agree you shouldn't have a blanket distrust for them and I'm disappointed by teachers who say things like that without just explaining tasteful use. ;)

(Sorry, I haven't actually read your story yet, I just scan things while I'm at work.)
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I think there's a balance to be found between spending too much time tacking on adverbs to paint your verbs the color you want, and looking too colorful by choosing all verbs that have color of their own. In other words, I agree you shouldn't have a blanket distrust for them and I'm disappointed by teachers who say things like that without just explaining tasteful use. ;)

(Sorry, I haven't actually read your story yet, I just scan things while I'm at work.)


I'm currently editing the entire thing (It is FAR from finished) to break down the paragraphs, use proper dialogue format, I HOPE, and trim the paragraphs. Or maybe I'm just making them fatter/worse. I don't know.
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88 Human Warrior
8085
I'll be happy to read whatever version of the story you prefer, if you want me to wait. I just do it in the evenings. :)

Well-formatted dialogue is so much easier to read and is a good way to rid yourself of fluff in having to articulate every change of speaker. You'll probably like the flow better when you're done. :)
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I guess either or both versions could be read? I'm not sure; I guess the newer version to help me edit that one even further? I'm going to sweep it again and post, I think.
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Are the new paragraphs easier to read? Does it flow better? I trimmed it, I think, and split some things up and reworded several sentences, as well as simply deleted others entirely.

Does it look better/read easier?
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90 Night Elf Hunter
4265
A draft wailed through the square, window which caused the candle in my hand to flicker and the shadows on the wall to wave and dance with the moaning song of the gust. My heart hammered in my chest. I was not afraid of the dark however; I was afraid of being discovered awake and moving about at this time of night. I crept with the quiet footfalls of a mouse, at least I thought so in my head, and moved at an agonizingly slow pace ever upward. I rounded the final twist and saw the worn wooden door.

I approached the door with trepidation, my hand quivering against it. The creaking seemed as loud as trumpets marking the arrival of royalty. I cringed and glanced back but I saw no one there, no light coming from a further distance to discover who had made such an awful racket. At last it was open enough for my small body to slip through, and I entered the room, closing the door behind me.

I rushed to the desk eager to crack open the tomes that lay scattered across it. The pungent aroma of dust, old wood and aged paper assaulted my nostrils, and dust seemed to puff in a cloud from the pages. I coughed and then began to read about the forces of the Arcane, and though some of the terms and ideas made no sense to me at the time, I still studied with enthusiasm. Each word passed through my mind and seemed to captivate me further, so engrossed in the read reading was I that I had not heard the old door creak open and so I jumped nearly out of my skin as I heard a gruff voice behind me.

“You boy... you are not to be up here at this hour! Nor without supervision!” Then in a much softer voice, he said, “But I understand, son... I understand the drive to know. Come, sit with your old Pappy and let me teach you.”

I obeyed him.

“I have long waited for one as eager as you to learn all I know. Your father did not take to it the way I wished he had. The legacy must go on, my child. We must not forget the gifts of the great ancestor,” he explained as he reached for a musty old tome with no title.

The book looked ancient, and the pages were brittle and almost brown. It had a strong smell, but it was not unpleasant. Perhaps this particular smell of old books was another reason I found myself reading so often.

He cracked the book open reverentially and I looked at him in wonder.
“How does it open without falling apart, Pappy? It looks so OLD, it must be... it must be one hundred years old!”


I've pruned a little from the first block. You want to avoid impeding the flow of the story by over-writing it. Repeating how old things are becomes unhelpful after a certain point. Establish age and move on.
More could still be cut from this section, but see how you feel about it -- do you think you are losing anything?
Edited by Pylsur on 12/5/2012 12:24 PM PST
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Actually no, I think your version moves more smoothly. I guess I have a tendency to over write? How can I train myself to trim the paragraphs and not ramble on?
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90 Night Elf Hunter
4265
12/05/2012 12:05 PMPosted by Ravinsild
Actually no, I think your version moves more smoothly. I guess I have a tendency to over write? How can I train myself to trim the paragraphs and not ramble on?


Imagine, as you write, that your reader's interest is ticking down. If you don't get to something entertaining before that timer hits 0, then you lose the reader. Keep the pace in mind and don't let description or attempts at mood-setting slow you down. Is your story about setting a mood in a room or is it about getting a point across to the reader?

Cut anything that does not advance the story. Avoid "artistic" writing until you control it and not the reverse.
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12/05/2012 12:11 PMPosted by Pylsur
Actually no, I think your version moves more smoothly. I guess I have a tendency to over write? How can I train myself to trim the paragraphs and not ramble on?


Imagine, as you write, that your reader's interest is ticking down. If you don't get to something entertaining before that timer hits 0, then you lose the reader. Keep the pace in mind and don't let description or attempts at mood-setting slow you down. Is your story about setting a mood in a room or is it about getting a point across to the reader?

Cut anything that does not advance the story. Avoid "artistic" writing until you control it and not the reverse.


It is the behind the scenes of Ravinsild, so it is about the character, not the location he is in.

I am going to try and take this approach to my draft after using what you cut, since all you did was delete a lot of sentences. Maybe I should just delete stuff and Ctrl+Z until i find the right flow?
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