Wednesday, 16 March 2011


I love National Geographic
It's a Blogfest! Today it's time for the Hone Your Skills Blogfest, hosted by RosieC and Charity Bradford 

HONING? This is how to do it ;)

  1. On March 16, post a short story around 750 words, no more than 1000, in any genre you like.
  2. Read and give a critique for the person before and after you in the Linky List (and as many others as you can/want to). When you critique: a) find at least two things that really work, and b) at least two suggestions for how it can be tightened or improved.

                                                             MEETING THE ENEMY

My studies included the kind of stuff that would earn me geek-status with the save-the-environmentally-friendly Eco-clique: I could name every species of tree, plant, bird and mammal that should be living in the woodland. Sick of dolling out death, I declared myself a holiday. So walking rather than running through the trees, I tuned out every kind of sense; blocked out hearing anything living and made sure I couldn't smell death or anything non-human too.
        But the spreading dark leached the last rays of sunlight. It was all shade and shit in the trees. I caught my foot in a rabbit hole I was too large to fall into and my ankle gave out. I didn’t sprain or twist it because once a Daughter of Slaughter, always a cold-blooded killing machine born to dispatch The Oro who ranked just a little bit lower than reptiles. I’m trained to listen to my body: if my body warns me to protect it… that is what I do. I dropped and rolled and hugged the ankle to stop the swelling and warm the tendon. My surface injuries, and ones not involving broken bones, heal in about five minutes. I waited out the ache and focussed my energies on healing so I'd be able to move freely, as soon as possible – just in case.
In the grey, lowering of day the watered-down sunlight didn’t warm. I shivered when leaves rustled in the breeze and cold descended with the darkening sky. This was not a conventional on-coming storm this was the trace of power I usually hunted for. Maybe when I’d declared myself a holiday from the fray, I should have either kept out of the forests or sent a note to The Oro asking for a time-out.
The shape was unclear at the edges but he was defining himself faster than my normal prey. I had few options, waiting to see if I could heal faster than he could reveal was one of them. The wrongest one as it turned out, my ankle was still grating when he crystallised. Straight grey hair hung fine but thick to his broad shoulders, alabaster skin without his green nightglow was sinfully pink in the last rays of twilight – all the way down to his low slung, leather breeks. I admired the rip and the ripples even as I wondered if they were always built this way. Still, I wouldn’t get to wonder for much longer. I climbed to my feet and put the healing back another minute. Hopping a little, I threaded my fingers through my hair and shoved it back out of my eyes, at least I’d see him move.
He moved. Transferring the scythe-shaped sword into his other hand, he rested his fist against his hip. His voice held that high pure note I’d sometimes heard in the forest at dawn. Sad and pure, he sang the song my Buckler said belong to the Faerie we could never see. My language degraded the notes so, even to me, parts of the song sounded discordant.
“Whyfore do the Dayworld Peoples bleed The Nocturn of the Night?”
“I? Why?” I coughed. “We defend ourselves.”
He smiled, a sad, small tugging of his lips, “Whyfore must you defended be... from The Guardians who protect when shades fall thick and darkness makes the eyes to bleach to grey... for you Dayworld beings?”
“I –”
“Kill not The Nocturn Guardians for the enemy grows stronger.”
“Us? We are the enemy?” I asked. Pride seeped in with the strengthening of my spine and the healing in my ankle.
I transferred my weight to my good foot and tightened my fingers into fists. Before I could launch myself, he faded. From the outer edge to his core he became insubstantial until he was all blue-bright light.. until his ringing laughter resonated through the woodland, high and clear like a warning.

Hope you liked the short story. Please let me know what I could work on :D
I am looking forward to reading the short stories everyone is posting today.


  1. Hi Elaine. This is just a note for now to tell you that I'll be reading your story in the car on my way out of town. I'll post my comments later tonight. Thanks for participating! :)

  2. This read very well, and I enjoyed the voice of the narrator/MC, very distinctive. Keep writing.

  3. Hi, I'm your critique partner for the day! First of all, I think you've created a very interesting world. You've done a good job hooking me into wanting to know more about who this character is and who the Guardians really are. I loved the line, "He smiled, a sad, small tugging of his lips." It was so descriptive and unique.

    I think the problems arise when you try to give us too much background information. This is a short short story, and you don't have enough time to flesh it out, so it becomes more confusing than helpful. I would start the story with the action of the MC moving through the woods searching for prey, and then having her sprain her ankle. Showing us how she heals would be a surprise and a hook, making us want to know those other details about who she is and why she can do that -- details that aren't necessary for this compact story, but would be interesting to discover if you fleshed it out into something bigger. The confrontation with the Guardian is also wonderfully descriptive and I loved the ironic twist as your MC discovers that she and her people are considered the enemy.

    Thanks for participating in the blogfest! I look forward to hearing your ideas on my piece.


  4. Hi Rosie
    No problem. WE have a friend - one who normally lives in Tennessee - over for a visit. I'm amazingly excited as the last time we saw him we were in university :D

    Hi Myne
    *blushes Thank you. I'm glad you thought the voice was distinctive. That's the key to the door :D

  5. Hi Shelli
    Thanks for your thoughts. I was in the middle of realising I'd never said she'd declared herself on holiday earlier in the piece. :)
    You caught me out - it was an idea I was considering for a wip ;) I threw this at the page in an hour this afternoon when I figured my horror short story was a bit gory.

  6. Hi Elaine, thanks for participating in the blogfest!

    Once I got past the first paragraph I really enjoyed this. Your writing is descriptive and the setting was alluring. The first paragraph confused me more than grounded me in the story. I agree with Shelli that you should start with the MC spraining her ankle.

    Things I especially liked:
    Dayworld peoples--all the dialogue was great, but that's a cool name for a people.
    Your description of the man--"alabaster skin without his green nightglow was sinfully pink in the last rays of twilight – all the way down to his low slung, leather breeks."

    The first paragraph didn't feel like it related in anyway, but you don't need it to hook the reader because the rest of the writing was wonderful.
    The only other thing was I don't know who the Oro are or what it means to be a Daughter of Slaughter.

    This could make a great longer story.

  7. I loved the irony in her finding out she's considered the enemy, the dialog was great!
    My only suggestion would be regarding this sentence: " I didn’t sprain or twist it because once a Daughter of Slaughter, always a cold-blooded killing machine born to dispatch The Oro who ranked just a little bit lower than reptiles."
    While it says a lot, it also confused me a bit more than it helped in really understanding her background.
    Also, I have to agree with the majority here, this could make a wonderful longer story with more details :)

  8. I was a little confused by the beginning. I wasn't sure how doling out death fit into what I assumed was someone with a career in plants and bugs. LOL Maybe I don't read enough of this genre. I think I need alot more background information. Intriging story though and I am looking forward to see where the fantasy ends.

  9. Hey Elaine. I hope you're having fun with your friends from Tennessee :)

    Interesting story. I feel like this is a small part of something very large, and I would love to see you expand this.

    1. Your description is strong. I have a great sense of what the Guardian looks like as well as the setting.

    2. The dialogue is purposeful. Not only are we given information beyond the "I" perspective, but we see the hesitation and theinsecurity of the narrator. Well done.

    1. Clarity. I had to read many lines several times, including the one Estrella mentioned and this one: "Sad and pure, he sang the song my Buckler said belong to the Faerie we could never see." There are too many clauses here, and some of the information in the sentences is unnecessary for such a short story. For example, in the one I copied, this is the only mention of a Buckler, and I have no idea what/who that is (granted, I don't read a lot of hard fantasy). Try not to have subordinate clauses define other subordinate clauses [song [SUB the Buckler said belonged to the Faerie [SUB we could never see]]]. The nesting gets confusing.

    2. What is the MC's purpose? Is she supposed to be killing people? Would I know this if I knew what The Oro was? Or is this specific to your story? Can you tell us who/what this is without doing an major info dump?

    I see loads of potential here, and I hope you keep working on it. Good luck, and thanks for sharing it with us!