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Added a post  to  , NaNoWriMo 2021

OK... I wrote a hunting scene in my medieval fantasy novel, and I think it came out pretty well - so I'm hesitant to post it here, as that usually means it gets ripped apart 8-) ... but you also make good suggestions, so take a peek and see what you think...

FYI, the Prince is named Milo... and this whole scene is him... the beaters have just poked the brush where the boar is and flushed it out... Milo has mind powers, and senses the beast's location before they see it...

“WARE!” He shouted, but it was too late.

For Milo, everything seemed to slow to a halt. The light was brighter, colors more vivid, the smells of damp dog, sweaty men, musky boar, the comforting grass/leather/sweat of his horse, were more distinct. For a heartbeat it was all locked and still… then it burst into action with a roar of sound.

Maddened by the noise and confusion, and disturbed by this final insult, a huge wild boar burst from the underbrush, swinging his treacherous tusks. By luck it was too close to gore the beater, but sliced his arm as it knocked him roughly to the ground.

The nobles coming up behind the King’s party blocked its mad dash away from the beaters. Their horses reared, and hounds suddenly broke onto the path, baying loudly and throwing themselves at the charging beast.

It turned again. Tossing its head, the enraged boar threw one dog over its shoulder, before stampeding back the way it had come. The other dogs harried it, nipping at its heels.

The young beater was getting to his feet, but appeared stunned and unaware of his danger.

Milo and his mount were already moving. The Prince held the horse’s mind, and they were perfectly attuned to each other. They raced down the path, directly at the rampaging boar.

Just as horse and beast must inevitably collide, the horse veered left onto the grassy verge, just off the trail. At the same moment, Milo grabbed the beater’s arm and jerked him up, heaving him over the boar’s back.

There was a bellow of pain as the swine’s tusks scraped the youth’s thigh, cutting it deeply. Milo dropped him, and he scrambled to climb the nearest tree, despite his wounds.

The young prince reached out as he passed one of the huntsmen, and the man’s spear leapt into his hand as Milo's horse spun around, and he urged his mount into a gallop.

Once more the King’s guards stood in front of the beast, shouting, spears at the ready. Blocked from escape, the boar turned a final time. It came charging back at him.

Yet again, a collision seemed inescapable. The Prince heard his father cry out, but his entire concentration was focused on the encounter ahead.

At the last possible instant, the mare swerved to the left, as Milo stabbed downward with the spear, piercing the boar’s eye and stabbing into its brain. Caught in the boar’s skull, the spear wrenched out of his hand, almost unseating the Prince. Grabbing hold of the horse’s mane, he pulled himself back into the saddle.

Momentum carried the fierce beast forward a few yards, as it slowed, then stopped, swayed, realized it was dead, and fell over on its side.

Around him, men broke into wild cheers. Milo flushed with pleasure as his father rode closer to clasp his arm.

    • Reading it with an editorial eye (so comments before completion):

      but in the first line is clunky. Better as two sentences.

      The leather/sweat of [Milo's] horse makes sense. The gress isn't of the horse. As such, the sentence is illogical. Also, the multi-slashed noun construct might be fine in a business or technical setting, but doesn't read well in proce.

      Repetition of burst between second and third paragraphs.

      You are head-hopping in the third paragraph, giving us the boar's thoughts. So, unless the lead-up has Milo in the boar's head, and he's still there (so could/should push back to dampen its aggression), letting us the boar is maddened is head-hopping.

      Para 4 doesn't make physical sense, unless there's a cliff behind the boar that you haven't told us about. Or were the beaters on the far side, pushing the boar towards the party? (That may have been covered before the extract.)

      Those last two issues repeat a few more times in the remainder of the piece. (It can help with something like this to map out exactly where everyone is every second or two, to ensure realistic movements. And keep in mind that when people are dazed, it lasts far longer than you would think. So the rescued beater will crumble, shake his head, scramble to his feet, then start clawing at a tree, by which time Milo will be long gone onto his next actions.)

      And what Maggie says about the adjectives and adverbs.

      There's a lot of scope for tightening, but it has potential.

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      • On this board, but as a new post, to differentiate it from this post...

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        • In between THIS post and the one you answered about style for thoughts...

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          • Ah. New quirks of the platform being discovered all the time.

            I never look at the groups directly as they are unusable. And for some reason, first posts into groups don't show in the latest listing on the home page, but replies do.

            So hacky workaround to get to the post in its own page required.

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          • Jo - I think it's a great scene, and once it gets going its momentum pulls us along. It's punchy, and there are some great phrases and word choices. The boar realising it was dead is a bit of deadpan authorial humour that nicely relieves the tension. (My only rider would be that if it's the only instance of this, it will be incongruous, and simply take the reader out of the scene).

            However do I think the first two paras are most in need of a polish, and I feel the danger could be heightened by being more graphic about the injuries the boar gives to boy and dog.

            I'd put a "the" before "colours more vivid", to improve the rhythm (read it out loud). Plus: an "and" before "the comforting". Like Rick I have a problems the conjoined words, and I'd avoid repeating "sweat" anyway. Me, I'd leave it at "leatheriness". And an "all" before "were more distinct"

            In the next sentence, how about "all was" instead of "it was all"? and "the boar" instead of the vague pronoun "it". And you don't need "of sound". You might think of other words to descibe the noise a boar might make - bellow, screech - or a simile. Ditto dogs and horses. 

            I'm not sure why the tusks are treacherous. The word implies that they look safe, but aren't. No, they'd look very dangerous.

            I'd describe the wounds to the beater's arm and (later) his thigh, and his scream, and the dog's howl is he's tossed in the air, presumably by those tusks. I'd have blood spray at the very least, maybe even guts. You say the beater appeared stunned. Surely it was more than "appeared"? 

            "There was" a scream... I bet there was, but who from? The boar? Milo? If you have a sentence starting "there was" or "it was", it almost certainly needs attention. 

            The boar turned "a final time". You've immediately dissolved the tension by telling us that the incident is about to end. Likewise, a collision that "seemed inescapable" tells us it ain't gonna happen; so where's the danger?

            Having said all that, if the rest of the novel is at that standard, you're well on the way. And if that's your first draft from Nanowrimo, it's bloody brilliant.

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            • Wow, that last sentence is the nicest compliment I've ever gotten! Let's say first draft, run through ProWritingAid to tighten... As I finish each chapter I PWA it, rather than trying to do the whole book at once. I do know I love "sticky" words, and even after PWA am usually sitting about 2% higher than that program likes... ah well!

              I still have a few chapters to finish the book, as I realized 3/4 of the way through it needed a major shift in concept, so I've been working my way back from the beginning making the updates... THEN I added an additional bad guy and his sidekick, to aid in showing not telling 😆 , so I'm now threading him in through the story... but just about ready to knock out the ending. Fortunately, I do know where this one is heading... which is not always the case!!!

              Then the hard part... letting it sit for a month before I start editing!!

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              • I had to think about your comment "The boar realizing it was dead is a bit of deadpan authorial humour that nicely relieves the tension. (My only rider would be that if it's the only instance of this, it will be incongruous, and simply take the reader out of the scene).", as I wondered if it WAS the only instance of humor, since it isn't really a funny book... 

                But I remembered my weird sense of humor reared its head in at least 2 other instances. One were the sun "snuck stealthy fingers through the leaves and poked them in the eyes" (to wake them in the forest), and another where "The morning of the Ball disregarded Milo’s hopes and dawned right on schedule."

                Maybe not quite as funny, but still made me smile when I re-read the chapters...

                There may be others, but hopefully not TOO many... since that would be as bad as too few!

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              • Hi Jo, I like the scene but for me the writing isn't yet as exciting as the events. This is a subjective reaction but I think reducing the psychic distance in the most intense parts of Milo's experiences would make them more gripping. Put us right inside his senses.

                For Milo, [everything seemed to slow to a halt] rather a cliche and therefore it tells us he's in trouble rather than showing us. Could be deleted I think.

                For Milo, the light brightened, colors pinpoint sharp [colours of what? A specific detail of something would add atmosphere]. Damp dog smell, barking and rushing,  their blood up. Sweaty men, boar musk, horse lather and saddle leather. The stillness of one of his own heartbeats. A roar.

                My writing won't be right for you and I've probably used too many verbless sentences but I'm raising a few suggestions to make the scene more immediate and fast. You can also cut unnecessary words -- watch out for phrases such as 'roar of sound.' A roar is a sound, so it doesn't need qualifying. 

                The story as a whole looks good. It just needs some editing. Many thanks for posting.

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                • I KNEW you guys would have some good suggestions! I think I'll print out your thoughts and go back over the scene, rather than trying to jump back and forth...  Thanx for the help!

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                  • PS: That was less painful than I expected, and there was some great encouragement... so thank you once again!

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