the archives

dusted off in read-only


Week One: Gurgeh posted 14 Jul 2004, 05:07 by Jernau Morat Gurgeh, Candidate

Ok, this feels strange. I haven't let anyone read anything I've written in years. But, here goes... ------ Mark crossed the crushed limestone driveway with a slow but purposeful gait. The ground was still wet from the mid-afternoon rain shower that had just ended, and the limestone dust made a thin, pale mud that failed to stain the soles of his black dress shoes. His finely tailored suit now looked rumpled and slept-in. Though clean, it appeared tired and sad, a fitting mantle for the broken figure who wore it. Mark’s feet led him forward, but the man inside shrank away, furtively seeking an alternative to the finality of what lay ahead. He moved between the first of the weathered gravestones, which lay in neat rows that fanned out before him following the gentle curves of the landscape. Though his head remained bowed and did not move, his worn and bloodshot eyes darted about picking out detail which left no lasting impression. The stones were all subtly different, but the differences were quickly lost in their sameness, their unity of purpose as signposts of other people’s crossing over. The hill gradually steepened before him, but Mark did not notice. The stones he passed became older as he climbed, their writing became more faded and the ever-present lichen and moss became thicker and more wizened. Gradually the murmur of voices rose ahead, and with it a dark grove of hats and then coat shoulders as he came into view of a group standing gathered with their backs to his approach. He crested the hill and could see the gathering arrayed below him, a short walk down the far side of the rise. A small group, perhaps a dozen people, all in dark clothes and most with raincoats, faced a man in a priest’s cassock. Some held umbrellas closed by their sides, but none looked to the sky wondering if the dingy clouds would add more rain to the somber proceeding. Their eyes were forward, watching the priest, or downward, hiding tears or their lack. Mark strode down the hill and stepped between the mourners, walking forward to stand before one of the two coffins suspended side by side over freshly dug graves. None of the participants acknowledged his arrival, nor did the priest stop his slow recitation. Mark ignored them, focused on the dark wood of the ornate box and the body he knew lay within. Sarah Marie, his darling wife, young and beautiful and everything he ever wanted, now dead and lost to him forever. He reached forward tentatively with one hand, holding it a few inches from the coffin, wishing he could feel something of the warmth which filled his life every moment she had been a part of it. His heart felt like a decaying stone, being crushed under a great weight. He felt that weight force the tears to his eyes, accompanied by a cold burning in his chest, but his eyes remained painfully dry. He had been unable to weep since the day she had died, but the desire to do so wracked him now with silent sobs. After a while, how long Mark didn’t know, the priest finished the ceremony and the mourners began to walk away, across the slope toward the small church in the distance. Mark came to himself then, and withdrew his hand, returning it to the pocket of his tattered wool raincoat. He lifted his head and turned it slightly, glancing at the stone at the head of his wife’s grave. Sarah Marie Down, Beloved Wife, Beloved Daughter, 1972-1999. She had left him and gone on, to what he didn’t know, and he was still here, alone and cold and lost. A last shudder shook his body and he was still again. The hillside was silent after the passing of the funeral party, and a light drizzle had begun to fall from a sky the color of old gravestones. As he turned to walk away his eyes paused briefly on the stone next to hers, the coffin before it identical to hers. Mark James Down, Beloved Husband, Beloved Son, 1970-1999. He didn’t linger, though he had nowhere to go, but walked away into the rain. ----- Thanks in advance for reading and commenting. Gurgeh view post

posted 14 Jul 2004, 13:07 by Replay, Auditor

Nicely done. You kept the tone consistant throughout (something I've been struggling with for mine), and put in some great details. Like the twist at the end as well. Prose: Seems like you have been writing for some time. Don't think you have any problems in this area. The only thing I would comment on is that there is the odd time where a word is added that really isn't needed, or a comma that could perhaps be removed. Characterization: Even though you did well describing how he felt at the gravesite, I'm not sure we really got a good picture of what the man was like. Admitidly that wasn't something to really focus on this scene, but I had to find at least one thing to be critical of in all this ;) Detail: You did a good job here. Your descriptions painted a very good picture of what it was like there, that helped to draw you into the scene. The only thing that might have improved it a little is if you described a little more of what his other senses were experiencing. Overall Scene Building: Again, you did a good job on this. The way he drew close and the murmers came into ear shot, slowly followed by the sight of them worked well. Also the way they ignored him which could have easily meant that they wanted to leave him along in his grief. It set the twist at the end up very well. view post

posted 16 Jul 2004, 02:07 by Jernau Morat Gurgeh, Candidate

Thanks for the comments! I actually didn't intend the twist to be a twist, more like a highlight of something that had been subtly present throughout, but I think i may have left it too fuzzy. I pictured this as a fragment of a story where the reader would have already known that the main character was dead before this scene, which is probably why I did it the way I did. [quote:f7t92w5w] [/quote:f7t92w5w] Yeah, I think i should have spent more time revealing him through his feelings for his wife. If I was doing a rewrite I would focus on that. Thanks again! view post

posted 16 Jul 2004, 15:07 by drosdelnoch, Subdidact

I think that this shows a great way in which different people look to a subject matter, although with this I would be interested to see how the scene would develop. Does the character know that he's dead? What does he think is happening? Why is he still here? But for me this is always a sign of a well planned peice of writing, if you can get the reader to ask a large number of questions then you know that you've hooked them. Im looking forward to see how your writing develops over the course of this. My piece Im sad to say was written more as a bit of a rush to get something done although I had planned pieces of it prior to going to sleep on a couple of nights. This shows how well a bit of writing can be portrayed as well as developing a theme that could easily lead on to a longer project. Nice work. view post

posted 19 Jul 2004, 17:07 by Sovin Nai, Site Administrator

Damn! I wrote a story with the same twist, though not as well. I couldn't post it because of computer problems. That is so bizarre. I liked it a lot. I had no idea coming to the end that the man was dead, and I think it's better for it. The end acting as a twist is great. Sometimes your writing style seemed a bit overly dramatic. Thanks so much for being willing to share. view post


The Three Seas Forum archives are hosted and maintained courtesy of Jack Brown.