Look Around

Welcome Back,  everyone!   Both the WIPpet and the ROW80 move into full swing today (actually, the ROW80 started on Monday, but today is the first check-in).

So let’s get started with a quick…


Since today is the 9th of April, so let me give you five small paragraphs from Courting the Swan Song (4-9=-5, but I’m feeling positive today, so…).

The square Vissellii led them to looked to be one of the older courtyards of the city. The buildings were all tall, lathe and plaster wood-framed structures whose second and third stories leaned out over the open center like the trees that had formed them.

In the center of the courtyard there was a large fountain in tricot splay, each of its leaf-shaped outer pools sporting smaller sprays that flowed into the larger center. Nestled between the outer pools, small grassy hollows circled the water’s edge. Little stonework patios with a bench or two were set against the outer point of these small rooms. And in each there was a lady sheltering a group of young girls and women near her skirts.

Alanii looked around him slowly, taking in the scene, both pastoral and so very artificial at once. The trees, few that there were, stood tall and slender. Clearly they felt a need to push past their dead cousins that overstood them to reach the sun. At least there was sun today. It wasn’t as gray, even in this closed-in hall of outdoor rooms, as he’d felt the world had been for the past few weeks.

In all, he suspected that he had chosen his delays for all the right reasons after all. He was being well rewarded by the heavens or the Fates or…

Without saying a word, Alanii cocked an eye with some envy toward his Guard and their surety that some divine being was watching over them. Alanii knew his mother despaired over his lack of faith in the Goddess. His father, he also knew, didn’t care. The man had no concerns over divine providence, often noting that the holiest of men was no less a victim of the spring floods or the winter’s icy rains than the most devious bastard to burn in the low hells.

The scene in question comes from inspirations acquired in England, particularly from estates such as Audley End and cities such as Lichfield.  A some of all representating none?  I mention this because I know there is a large UK contingent to the WIPpet, and I’d love any comments on whether this place “feels real”.

As always, may I inspire you to go look at all the WIPpeteers?  We’re an awesome group, held together, loosely by the talented cat-herder, K.L.Schwengel.  😀


ROW80LogocopyThis early in the challenge, I really have little to report.  I’m on track with my goals (same goals as last round, reposted this Monday), except for writing new stuff.  I’m having a hard time starting myself this time.  It’s early though.  I’m sure by Sunday I’ll be moving forward again.

Checking in and admitting that things aren’t perfect though is kind of freeing.   Thanks for being here to encourage me.  If you’d like, other ROWers would love to have a visit from you too: here.

12 responses to “Look Around

  1. Oh, I love this scenery, but one little thing pulled me out.

    In the third paragraph – ***The trees, few that there were, stood tall and slender. Clearly they felt a need to push past their dead cousins that overstood them to reach the sun. ***

    I read this, and my mind said this,

    “If there are not many trees, why would they be in such competition?”

    Other than that tiny nit, I loved this. Now I want to know more about all those delays, and Alanii’s religious beliefs….that’s the “problem” with a good snippet – it always leaves me hungry for more…


    • Both you and Kathi noted that sentence, and the kicker is… It bothered me too when I posted the piece, but I didn’t have anything that I felt worked better at the time. As I noted in my reply to Kathi, I sort of saw the buildings crowding in over the area, almost like an upside-down funnel, whether the trees try to grow up and beyond the overhanging roofs.

      I’ll keep thinking about it. Something will work, eventually. And until then, I hope I can keep writing good snippets… 😀


  2. Never having been to England, I can’t say whether it feels “real” to what England is like. But I do love this: “both pastoral and so very artificial at once.” I have been in places like that. They always leave me feeling with the sense that there is a story to tell about them, but it’s impossible to do so precisely because they do feel so unreal.


    • True… You’re right about how we don’t need to be in a specific place to get a sense of it from a description, Amy. To me, a LOT of England felt that way. It’s all very old but all old human contact. Even in the cities it feels “old”, and in the countryside… there are all these reminders of generation after generation of humans having lived and worked a place.

      Which is what I wanted to get through in this piece… Not sure I did that, but hopefully some of that came through.


  3. Eden, this is a really nice excerpt! The flow is captivating and I love your descriptives.

    Also, I’m glad you’re feeling positive today. The day is beautiful, at least here in DC. 🙂


    • Thanks, Chloe. I’m sure the scene still needs tweaking (a few people note the sentences about the trees… a bit that’s been niggling to me too), but I’m glad some of the vision I’m trying to create is getting through.

      It’s a gorgeous day here too. A bit of a cool breeze, but a sure sign of wonderful weather to come.


  4. Ok, I’m not part of the UK contingent, but I’ve been to Britain and Ireland a number of times over the years (it being so close), and I didn’t have any British associations while reading your snippet. But with the names (which to my ear with the repeated vowels often sound more Finnish than anything else), in my mind’s eye I wasn’t expecting anything British-like.

    That doesn’t detract from the description itself, which was great, with lots of sensory detail.

    Personally, I don’t mind at all not being reminded of Britain — there’s a lot of that in fiction already. 🙂


    • Thanks, Ruth. I’m kind of glad actually that the piece doesn’t give you a British sense, even if I drew on some of experiences from there to write it. Actually, I’ve been trying for more of an Eastern European effect with a touch of the Russian and Ukrainian Steppes inspiring the landscape of later books. Guess I’m not quite getting there yet either…

      And I agree. As much as I loved my time in Britain, it takes up enough of the fantasy genre these days.


  5. Nice scene. I think you set it rather well. I’m not one of the UK contingent so I’ll leave details up to them. 😉 A couple of things that did grab me, though…” Clearly they felt a need to push past their dead cousins that overstood them to reach the sun” This took me three reads to make the connection. Are the ‘dead cousins’ the buildings? Also, “in this closed-in hall of outdoor rooms,” made me scrunch my face up as I read. The description makes me think this is a wide open place, so when he refers to it as that, it tosses me out of the passage.


    • Hmm, I did mean for the “dead cousins” to be the buildings themselves. But yeah, the artistic image I had in my head when I first wrote this scene keeps failing me. Other than that… Well, it is a fairly open space, but the buildings are supposed to seem like they’re crowding around it a bit from overhead. Kind of like an upside-down funnel….


  6. Your description of the fountain made me want to go visit a fountain. That led to a whole bunch other thoughts (regarding where I live). But, yeah… You made me want to visit a fountain, but not on a gray day like you described. Very nice setting.

    I’m feeling slow to start this ROW80 round too. Maybe it is in the air?


    • If it’s in the air, it’s because we’ve all had such a long winter and we’re trying to break free from our desks and the “work” and see outside (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it 😉 )