Saturday, February 5, 2011

"You've Come A Long Way Baby" Blogfest


Thanks to Christine over at Writer's Hole for hosting this blogfest. She is celebrating her own four year journey along her path to publication... how her command of the craft has improved over that time. As writers, we can't help but notice our improvement through the revision process. We look at early stuff we wrote and nearly gag, wondering how we could've written such godawful rubbish. But the journey is just as rewarding as the destination.

In this blogfest we are to post an early version of a scene. And then follow it with a well critiqued and revised version... to show growth. So here we go. First is my opening to Caenus as I first wrote it. Next will be my opening to Caenus now.

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FIRST DRAFT:

King Kranos sat perched upon the low wall
surrounding the interior courtyard of the Iolkosian
royal palace. He gazed intensely at the training
session taking place between his son and his son’s
longtime friend. As dust rose from the ground in
random clouds, kicked up by the swiftly moving
feet of the two sparsely armored young men, the
king wondered how long it would be before his son
would be strong enough to assume command of the
military. A fine prince he was, though unremarkable
and undistinguished as yet.

Prince Caenus, standing a muscular six feet tall
with skin that had been kissed by the sun, dodged and
ran around the huge ten-foot statue of Kheiron, the wise
centaur of lore, which stood at the northern edge of the
courtyard. The statue depicted the half-man/half-horse,
reared up on his hind legs and pulling a bow taut that
looked as if, at any moment, it would launch its arrow
far into the middle of the Gulf of Pagasae.

In a surprising move, Golan, Caenus’ friend,
jumped on Kheiron’s back and swung over to the
other side, cutting off his friend’s evasive maneu-
ver. Again, wood beat against wood, their sparring
swords dancing against one another as if familiar
foes, all to the amusement of the king.

“Is that your best, Caenus?” Golan yelled, duck-
ing a half-hearted swing of his friend’s sword. “Is
there no more fight in you than this peasant’s display
of swordsmanship?”

Golan was correct in his questioning assess-
ment. But, at present, Caenus’ soul could not focus
on the sparring. He certainly appreciated the train-
ing, but thoughts of his upcoming eighteenth birth-
day dominated his mind. The son of King Kranos
of Iolkos, brushed his dark chestnut, curly locks of
hair from in front of his soft, inviting brown eyes.
His squared jaw softened as he wiped beads of per-
spiration from the length of his straight nose into
his loincloth that was heavily soiled with dirt from
the sparring session.


NOW:

Prince Caenus deflected a thrust from his friend’s sword, feeling the heat of his father’s gaze needling his skin. During a brief lull in sparring action, the prince shot a sidelong glance toward where his father brooded. Disappointment bent the lines on King Kranos’ forehead.
 “I need a strong son to reign when Hades darkens my doorstep!” the king barked. “You can’t beat your friend in a swordfight. You can barely ride a horse. When will you be strong enough to command the military?”
A shaft of sunlight streamed through thickening clouds and onto the royal palace. Kranos remained in the shadows. Studying. Assessing.
A sword point bit into Caenus’ ribcage, demanding the prince’s attention. Caenus shifted his sun-kissed frame, his focus again singular. Dodging his friend’s advance, Caenus darted between fluted columns near the edge of the otherwise sparse palace courtyard.
Caenus’ best friend, Galen cut off the prince’s evasive maneuver. And again, wood beat against wood. Thrust. Swipe. Swing. Block. Dust rose from the ground in random clouds, kicked up by the swiftly moving feet of the two young men. Their sparring swords danced against one another as familiar foes.
 “Is that your best, Caenus?” Galen said, ducking a half-hearted swing of his friend’s sword. “Is there no more fight in you than this peasant’s display of swordsmanship?” 
Galen knocked the sword from Caenus’ grasp and, with the flick of his wrist, guided the tip of his own sword to Caenus’ throat.
“King Me!” Galen beamed with victorious confidence. He smiled, perspiration coating his short crop of dark hair.
Caenus’ shoulders slumped. He appreciated the training session, but thoughts of his upcoming eighteenth birthday held center stage. He brushed a curtain of wispy hair from in front of his eyes. His squared jaw softened as he wiped beads of perspiration from the length of his straight nose into his loincloth, already dirty from the sparring session.
With Galen’s sword tip at his throat, Caenus looked around the courtyard slowly. Before he turned back around, his father had grabbed a handful of Caenus’ hair.
 “The House of Kranos will not stand behind your weak sword!”
The prince gasped at the preternatural speed with which his aged father had crossed the sandy expanse between them.           
“Are You Training Or Playing Games?” Kranos roared. “There is no place for mediocrity in the history of great men! Is this all that my blood can produce? Is it?”
Caenus remained silent, deferent. His father’s disappointment cut straight through him. He sighed, casting his eyes downward. 
I wish I could tell my father that I’m trying my hardest. Why does that count for nothing? He looked at his father diagonally due to how sharply his hair was being pulled. The pain of his father’s grip threaded through him.
“Are you destined to be like your brothers? Worthless? I’ve not had a son yet that could even return from the wretched games, let alone win.” Kranos spat on the ground, shoving his son’s head. “If your brothers could see you now, may the gods rest their souls. And you’re not even half the prince they were.”
Caenus’ heart sank as a lump formed in his throat. His stomach clenched. A single tear formed at the corner of his eyes as thoughts of his deceased brothers bled into his father’s disappointment. He willed the tear back, determined to give his father no satisfaction. Though he hadn’t known his brothers well, he still looked up to them. Now their ghosts haunted him.
 
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Thank you for stopping by. Please click through the link above and see the rest of the entries.