Get motivated!

Apologies for my lack of motivation in getting my regular posts back on track.  Starting next week, I will be making a concerted effort to do so.

As mentioned in previous posts, a wonderful WordPress page for skill honing is The Art of Writing.  It is maintained by Tobias Mastgrave, with the help of a handful of talented people.  Each week sees three challenges provided:  Story on Mondays, Scene on Wednesdays, and Plot on Fridays.  They will provide plenty of inspiration as I try to get my groove back.

To try and kick myself into gear, I thought I’d start at the first Scene Challenge, issued back on August 10th 2011.  With a picture for reference, and an opening sentence, a 500 word piece is to be provided.


“Dairen watched as they dragged the man up the steps, unable to take his eyes off the poor sod.  He picked at his soft, velvet tunic as he waited for…”

the sound of the front door slamming.  As the thump reverberated through the house, the panicked protests of the man followed it.  Dairen winced at the commotion, knowing that locals would alert the watch, who were already suspicious of the supposedly vacant residence.

A dull thud was followed by the sound of someone slumping to the floor.

“Hans!  The boss said he wants him unhurt.”

“Bugger off Simon!  The pissant and his carrying on will have already got the watch’s attention.  Pat him down, then get him upstairs to Dairen.  He’ll know what to do with him.”

The boss rolled his eyes.  Hans and Simon were a handy pair, but they only knew how to throw their weight around.  Where they had strength of arm, Dairen had strength of mind; a profitable match.

He stepped away from the grimy window, passing a quick glance around the derelict office as the sounds of footsteps on stairs were heard.  There was a fine coat of dust over the empty bookcases and wooden floor, and a noticeable layer of soot at the base of the fireplace.  This made the desk stand out, a fine specimen of Elizabethan woodwork that he could not let hide under the filth.  It provided him a degree of gravity when he addressed his visitors from behind it.

The office door nudged open as Dairen sat down.  Simon was a stocky man, his close-cut hair and beard showing many greys.  His fat indicated there had been significant strength in him before, which with his narrowed eyes and constant sneer made people wary of him.  His brother entered behind him, their guest slung over a broad shoulder.  Hans was an imposing man, standing almost six feet tall, with a full black beard that accentuated the malice in his dark eyes.

“Boss, here is the guy you warned us to keep an eye out for.”

Dairen motioned for Hans to place the unconscious man in the seat facing him, which the tough did unceremoniously.  The man smelled months removed from a bath, his clothes threadbare to the point of being translucent.  His dirty hair fell over his face, parting just enough to show one closed eye and blood dripping from his mouth.

“Was he selling again?”

Simon nodded, throwing a small bag upon the desk.  Dairen pulled it open to inspect the contents.  As he had suspected, pea-sized balls of a white substance were within.  As he pulled the bag’s strings, the unconscious man began to stir.  His head rolled side to side as he tried to wake.

“Mister Soderbergh.  We meet again.”

A pale blue eye flashed alert instantly.

“We warned you that we would not be forgiving if we found you selling opium again.”

Soderbergh spat at the drug lord, a loose tooth flying over the desk.


7 responses

  1. Yes, DJ is getting his groove back! I, alas, am beleaguered with a number of minor health problems, including a larynx cold and sore throat, which are holding me back. But I see the value of what you’re doing, and will no doubt be able at least to read and comment on your and others’ things as they pop up during the next week. Keep going, this is interesting!

    1. Sorry to hear you’re not feeling too flash, Doc. Hopefully getting the bugs early will mean your natural vaccinations protect you for the rest of the colder seasons =)

      I will be systematically working my way through the exercises on the ‘Art of Writing’ website, and hopefully hone the lexicon to a fine edge.

  2. I like this a lot, and there’s definitely room to make this into a much longer scene. There are a couple of technical issues that you might want to address. The scene as a whole is strong, and you provide good characterization for everyone except Soderbergh. However, the ‘who…who…’ clause at the end of the first paragraph is a little awkward to read. You might want to rewrite it, perhaps even make it two sentences. Also, the ‘muscle…brains’ comment is a fairly obvious use of a cliche. A good rule to consider is that, while cliches are cliches for a reason, you never want to be overly obvious in using them. Try to put your own spin on the cliche. This will keep the idea behind the cliche while still feeling original.

    1. Thanks for the feedback =)

      The hardest part was keeping within 500 words, and the characterisation of the ‘sod’ suffered because of it. I have reworded to keep in the timeframe (1650’s), and clarified Soderbergh’s visual.

      1. I think this is stronger. I agree that Soderbergh could be much better developed in a longer scene, but I think you do a good job in the space allowed.

  3. Nicely written. Eww, his tooth came out.

    1. Yeah, punches to the jaw do that =P

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