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Is the phrase "Once upon a time..."
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Monthly Writing Prompt
For this month's writing prompt write a scene using the following sentence to start;

The streets were deserted. Where was everyone? Where had they all gone?

Writing Tip
Our monthly writing tips are written by our very own TerishD. You can read more in Terish's Blog located in "The Abstractions" area of the forum.

Look Back

When not able to write ahead, it helps to look back. In my case I had written a paragraph ahead of the story. What I needed to do was add a section of exposition (talking) presenting some facts. In going back, I realized that I could insert a section where a 'tour' of the surroundings could be done. This allowed for character interaction, story development, and other things that enabled me to present the facts in an entertaining manner.

One should not face a writer's block with the mentality of bursting through it. I have found in my own experience that a writer's block is usually due to my mind indicating that it has a problem in 'channeling' the story. One reason might be a re-imagining of certain story points. Another reason however is that there is a problem in where you are at in the story, so you need to look back and find out the problem with the 'journey' that prevents the tale from advancing.

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 Chapter 5

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Number of posts : 147
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PostSubject: Chapter 5   July 5th 2009, 5:01 pm


Alyssa sat on the riverbank near the watermill to the south of the market, as she had done for the past few months. Yellow-winged Blackbirds making for the pastures outside the valley cast small, ephemeral shadows, over the stream, as she listened to the rhythmic sound of flumed water spinning the turbine of the mill to her right. She was eating a tray of spicy potatoes and reflecting on recent events.

It had all happened so fast: the shadow, the heat, the chase; just what would she have said to her scrutiniser if she’d caught him? Nothing that wouldn’t reinforce the epithet of crazy-girl she’d already attained, that’s for certain. She might’ve imagined the figure reacting to her birthmark, and he – Alyssa was certain the being was male – had simply fled when the zany girl had made for him.

But still, there was something deeply ominous about his reaction, and that filled her with doubt. The shadow saw her; really saw her. Was there a connection between the way her birthmark reacted to his attentiveness, and the way he then responded in turn?

Oh Gods it sounded so crazy!

As Alyssa took small, distant bites of her meal with a small wooden fork, she thought about voicing her snafu with a blood curdling scream, but fearing for her already tattered sanity, decided against it. What was the use anyhow? The knowing shadow in the market only added to an anthology of questions already plaguing her mind. And what was one more between cries of insanity?

Confused and bordering on miserable, she sat watching a cluster of bubbles rising in the whispering stream whilst eating lunch. Her tongue delighted in the aromatic spices added to perfection to the potatoes she’d purchased from the Budic Food stand at the opposite side of the marketplace to Edna’s potion stall. It was her favourite meal, and she had it practically everyday.

The mill churned and the stream flowed, and still the bubbles rose. This was when she realised something wasn’t right. There was a congregation of bubbles the size of large mushroom caps in the middle of the flowing stream, yet they remained stationary, and continued to grow and multiply. On a quick count there seemed to be ten of them, but more rose to join the throng. Alyssa then realised they weren’t so much transparent as they were translucent, and the surfaces were jelly-like, rather than watery.

Then, as the not-quite-bubbles rose even more to the size of bowls and began advancing towards the perplexed girl, their morphologies were exposed. They looked like the jellyfish she and her uncle would find along the southern beaches of Elemenphis during her younger years, except these creatures had dimples representing hollow facial features on their form facing Alyssa, who was now picking up her feet, and slowly edging away from the riverbank. The creatures then pulled themselves so high out of the water they were now the size of large wheels, and shaped like vast gelatinous domes with a metropolis of nerves and membranes throbbing within. They crawled out of the river and up the bank on a multitude of white, fleshy, spider-like limbs, and edged closer to Alyssa, gargling through a wide slit in their dome crowns.

The scene, though terrifying, seemed oddly surreal as Alyssa stepped back in fright.

‘He’s coming . . .’ the gargled voice proclaimed, as the creature advanced slowly.

‘He’s coming to reap revenge for what she did to him,’ another one said, in a waterlogged voice.

Alyssa managed a response, yet her voice wavered in fear. ‘Who’s . . . coming?’

‘Chaos is coming!’

She had a hard time discovering which of the jelly-spiders spoke at which time, as there seemed to be no real unity between them.

‘Chaos is coming?’ she asked, edging further back still.

‘Yes, and everything will die!’

‘Everything?’ she asked, not quite knowing what to make of the revelations.

‘Yes, and nothing the chosen can do will stop it!’

The creatures suddenly rushed towards her, and a soul-splitting scream pierced Alyssa’s mind, causing her to drop to the floor holding her head in agony. Once the scream abated, she looked up; half expecting to be probed by those spider-like limbs, except the riverbank was completely vacant. Not a single vestige of the creatures remained. Again, like back in the market, she felt a hand touch her shoulder, and as she jumped round she screamed, only to find a young boy clad in a black cloak standing behind her.

‘Are you okay? Only you were talking to yourself,’ the boy said in a soft voice.

Great, she thought, I’m losing it completely. She hoped, however, that maybe Edna’s potion was still having an effect on her; she said that sometimes hallucinations can come on suddenly, long after the main effects had worn off. She looked back towards the bank one last time, and still no trace of the revelatory creatures existed. She felt relieved.

‘Yes, I’m fine. I always talk to myself, really I do,’ she babbled.

Crazy girl

‘You seemed to have dropped your lunch,’ the boy said, his gentle tone calming her nerves ever more.

She turned to see the tin upturned and the contents scattered around the bank. ‘So it appears, how clumsy of me,’ she said, not really knowing how to explain what just happened.

She gazed at the boy. The hood of his cloak was pulled over his head, leaving two small eyes glaring through the shadow. ‘Are you sure you didn’t see anything here, on this bank?’ she asked.

‘What are you talking about?’ the boy said, eyes portraying confusion.

‘Oh nothing, I must just be losing my mind, that’s all.’

‘What’s your name?’ the boy said, his gentle tone turning somewhat forcefully inquisitive.

She was about to answer when her birthmark suddenly became hot, and without hesitation she put a hand to it, and heeded the boy’s eyes slant in a gleeful realisation, taking on a temporary menacing veneer. A distorted voice seeped through her mind, it said:

‘Alyssa, get away from the boy!’

She turned, thinking the voice had come from behind her, and scanned the riverbank. There was nobody there of course. And then, she turned back, to find the boy had also disappeared. Just what in Gaia’s name was going on?

Feeling utterly perplexed to the point of no return, she attempted to straighten herself up the best she could, and started to traipse back towards the marketplace, distinctly aware that she was being watched. How she knew this was unfathomable, but she felt it just the same. She knew one set of eyes belonged to the boy, and the other, her uncle.
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PostSubject: Reply   July 6th 2009, 12:03 pm

Yeah, it is okay. Note that the usual complaint about a section like this is your distance from the characters. Remember that I said editors like to get inside the head of the characters. They thus want to see wordings of deep emotion that the experience is having. I have read enough to almost have such sections memorized, and I skip them as well out of boredom (and the result is that I am not published).

Me, I would have gone into more detail about the monsters, their attack, and the movements of the girl. I would have then brought certain little oddities about the boy. Such would have brought out the fact that the scene WAS important, and not only hinted at such -- which is necessary considering that you have wasted words on trivial matters earlier.

Still, it is your tale.

Fantasy puts more requirements on the writer than any other fiction, because the world must be made as real before anything else can be real.
Adult Christian fiction quite different than all the usual lame stuff in that market.  "Dilemma of Dreams" now in hard back.
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter 5   July 6th 2009, 1:51 pm

My problem is I started writing this story without a clue, and I see this as a complete rewrite not an edit. All my information was scattered unevenly around large jarring chapters. this chapter was a 3rd sub chapter, and was shorter. I'm rewriting it all into even sections, and trying to make the information neater. I don't know if it will count as an edit. it's like I'm using my 1st draft as a plan and writing the story as if from scratch.

Oh well, it weren't going to happen straight away. Embarassed
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Chapter 5
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