Helen (heleninwales) wrote,

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First or third?

The OU creative writing course is doing exactly what I wanted it to do. I'm writing again and becoming more critical but in a helpful way, not just the, "Oh, God this is crap, why do I bother?" way. Perhaps I should have said analytical rather than critical?

Anyway, we had to write a couple of pieces from the POV of someone totally unlike ourself, so (not wanting to start yet more stories) I thought of Mark who is male, 25 years old, blond, blue eyed, 6 foot tall and fit and athletic. Also far more physically courageous than I ever was or will be.

I am now considering shifting A Necessary Evil into first. What do you think? The extracts are behind the cut.

Still an early draft, so if you want to comment I'm looking for feedback on the overall feel of the pieces, not a line-by-line crit.

First person viewpoint, character unlike me preparing to deal with a problem (From about two thirds of the way through the novel.)

I woke, groggily, to the sound of birds singing in an otherwise totally silent city. Turstan, was still shaking me. "Cut it out!" I growled. My eyes were gritty and it took me a moment or two to untangle myself from the blanket.

I groped for my trousers, jacket and boots and as I pulled on my clothes, Turstan filled me in on what had happened during the night, which thankfully was not much. As far as he could tell the city was completely deserted. If anyone had slipped through the net, they were lying very low. As yet, there was no sign of Kararl. That was about it.

"What happened to that muzro? Math... Math-something," I asked, buckling on my sword belt. I noticed that I could tighten it another notch today.

"Mathon? I found him a quiet billet over there." Turstan waved vaguely in the direction of a row of decent sized terraced houses. "I thought it best to keep him close. He didn't look too well to tell the truth."

I grunted in agreement. "Healing seems to take it out of them." I was having a struggle getting my boot on. Everything was still damp from yesterday. I retrieved the second boot from under the camp bed and after a brief struggle, managed to force my foot in, but I had to stamp to settle the heel home.

My troopers were also emerging from the cocoons of their blankets. Morwena, looking pale from lack of sleep ambled over and thrust a mug of tea and a plate of bread and cold bacon into my hands.

I took the food outside, into the soft morning air. The cloud had cleared overnight and for once, the day had dawned bright and clear, promising a warm day.

I sat down on the wooden bench just outside the inn that we'd commandeered. After all the frantic action, all we had to do now was wait. I set the mug down on the seat beside me and made a thick sandwich out of the buttered bread and thick bacon. I'd barely had time to chew and swallow a mouthful before Morwena came to sit beside me. She took a long draught from her mug, which judging by the smell and lack of steam rising from the cup, contained ale and not tea. She sat back and heaved a deep sigh.

"It's so quiet," she said. "And smell that air. It's as clean as country air. I've never seen the sky so clear over the city."

I bit into my bread and bacon and as I chewed, I gazed around. The air was clear. The sky was a brilliant blue. A few fluffy white clouds drifted high overhead. Birds twittered on the chimney pots.

"There's no smoke, is there?" Morwena leaned back and closed her eyes, basking in the warmth.

I stared at the chimneys, standing out sharp against the blue. "Oh, fuck!"

Morwena looked at me and raised an eyebrow. My troopers were used to me swearing in English during moments of stress and by now it sounded alarm bells.

"There's no fucking smoke! Kararl will know right away that the city isn't occupied." I leaped to my feet and slammed the plate down onto the bench. My mind was racing. "Who do we have available?" My Light Cavalry troopers were blundering down from the inn's bedrooms, scratching and rubbing the sleep from their eyes. "How many militia men are awake?"

Morwena shrugged.

"Go and find out," I barked. "We need to break into the houses and light fires all over the city. As many as we can. And if there's no fuel, burn the fucking furniture!"

Giving an account of a past situation (This actually comes from near the beginning of the novel.)

"I was thinking about yesterday." Huw hesitated, then said, "I've never killed a man before."

"I've never killed anything before." I said, then flinched at the rawness of a memory that flashed up out of nowhere. "Not on purpose," I amended.

I didn't even need to close my eyes. I was seeing again the long straight country road stretching ahead in the bright beam of the lorry's headlights; rain swilling across the windscreen faster than the wipers could clear it; darkness and cloud pressing down below the tops of the trees; something big bounding out from the trees at the side of the road, long slender legs and antlers stark in the headlights. I'd hit the brakes instinctively, and even now, I felt my muscles tense, as though I was back there in the cab. I'd known I wouldn't be able to stop and I knew I was only throwing the horses around in the back of the lorry, but I'd braked anyway. I remembered the heavy thump as the deer bounced off the front wing.

Huw was looking at me, mildly surprised. "What, nothing?"

"Not on purpose," I said again.

Why had I remembered hitting the deer? It had happened years ago. I'd stopped the lorry and got out into the teeming rain, but there'd been nothing I could do but drag the stricken animal to the side of the road so no one else would hit it. It couldn't move its back legs and it lay panting, staring with glazed eyes, rain dripping from the trees onto its smooth fur. I'd just had to leave it. I phoned the police on my mobile, told them where to find the animal and then I drove on, anxious to get the horses home.

"You've never hunted?"


"I've hunted hares and deer," Huw said. "But I know the right prayer to say to give thanks for the meat. I don't know what prayer to say now."

Huw still looked upset. Why was he taking it so hard? I remembered being almost in tears after hitting the deer,. Standing there, seeing what I'd done, seeing such a magnificent animal in pain. But yesterday? Yesterday I'd just felt a savage delight at killing people who deserved to die. The exhilaration of the battle mingled with sheer terror had left no room for pity. "Just remember that family they slaughtered," I said. "Those little kids."

"Yes..." Huw turned from the window. "Yes. I saw what they did to them. It was horrible. But one of the men I killed, he didn't want to be here. He didn't want to be enchanted to look like a monster and he didn't want to come here and kill strangers. But he was so terrified, that he just did as he was told."

In all its many incarnations, it's always been third person, but I am now tempted by first. It might be fun to try and this novel is likely to be unsaleable due to it being a terribly overused trope, but I would like to finish it, even if it only ends up on the Web.
Tags: a necessary evil, a215, writing

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