Friday, February 09, 2007

Adventures In The Cave - Part 4

Previously on Adventures In The Cave: The door that used to be in the cave had mysteriously vanished, so Steve, Ian and Susan threw some sharp rocks to break a doorway.

Adventures In The Cave
Adventures In The Cave

“That’s done it” said Ian. “Wwwwhat was ththat” said Sue. “It can’t be a gosht” said Steve. “It it is” said Ian. “I don’t like it at all” said Sue. “Don’t be a baby” said Steve. “I am not” said Sue crossly. “Let’s explore” said Ian eagerly. “Why not” said Steve. “I’m not going” said Sue. “You would’nt” “I’m not going and thats that so there” said Sue folding her arm’s. “We’ll leave you” said Steve. “All right then” said Sue. “Come on” said the boys. “I’m coming” said Sue. “Please do’nt dawdle” said Ian. “Here’s a kind of ladder” said Steve. “Why do'nt we climb it” said Ian. “Come on then” said Steve. So they went.

Your use of quotation marks is impressive, but I have to say that these two pages are somewhat dialogue heavy. In fact, you are telling the whole story through dialogue – not something that is recommended. You try to enrich this with modifiers such as crossly and eagerly, but as Stephen King warns in On Writing, the road to hell is paved with adverbs. The foregoing prose should tell us how an action is done – is there another way to respond to being called a baby, or to want to go exploring? At least your young mind has not yet been corrupted by passive verbs.

There is good conflict between the characters though, albeit somewhat stereotyped, with the boys teasing the girl for being scared. And some of the dialogue has inventive features, such as “Wwwwhat was ththat”, showing influence from undoubted masters of the style such as Scooby-Doo.

Horror and fantasy authors time immemorial have created fictional creatures – from orcs to zombies to hippogriffs we have been transfixed by these beasts. Your gosht is an intriguing addition to this canon, though I have absolutely no idea what one could be. It is true that the scariest things are always in our imagination, but a few pointers as to how we should imagine a gosht, and why the characters might be scared of one, would be welcome.

Looking at the crossings out in your original manuscript it seems to be very important that it is Steve and not Ian who says “Don’t be a baby”, and that it is Ian and not Steve who says “Please don’t dawdle”. To be honest, I can’t tell the difference between these characters. The only hint that Steve might be older is that his name comes first in the opening sentence – apart from that they are indistinguishable. In situations such as this I would suggest merging them to make a composite character, combining their personalities to make a protagonist who is capable of both throwing sharp rocks and recognising things that are like ladders. These kind of multi-faceted characters really come to life and leap off the page.

The good news is that you end this section with a sentence that is not dialogue. The bad news is that this sentence is another "So they went".

Next time: What is up the kind of ladder?