How long had it been since he had seen this place: Weeks, months, ages? He ran his hand over the remains of a house wall. The craggy mortar and soft moss beneath his fingers seemed strange. Had this been his home? The toppled chimney behind him was growing a wild garden in the fireplace. Was this really home?
It had been a long journey, there and back again. He had fought and even loved it at times. He had the scars to prove it. He squeezed his arm tighter. More blood seeped through his fingers. The last battle that plagued him was finally over. Disapproval was the only thing that had spared him. The dense air popped his ears, muffling everything but his thoughts.
He ground his teeth at the memory. How stupid had he been to not predict a rogue ambush?
He had let the prospect of being so close to home drop his defenses and war trained instincts like a fresh recruit. The sharp blow to his head left him fumbling for his senses and his blade. His skull was still throbbing from the fresh wound.
When the stranger saw his sheath emblazoned with his company’s insignia and rank. The optimistic assault turned to calm malice.
The rogue spat then put up their knife before vanishing into the hazy shadows off the roadside.
The sting of shame from a highwayman was like being tossed into a wasp’s nest. In a way, the stranger denied him the a well-earned death. Life was cruel and Death had become an odd comfort in his time.
Plip. A raindrop landed on his arm. He jerked back at the cold tap.
He shook the memories from his mind. Blood seeped and clung to his shirt then ran down his arm. His return was far from the joyous welcoming throng or the spiteful glares or stones and chicken’s blood being thrown his way. His greeting was solitude. After trials, battles, doubts, and horrors to last him more than a lifetime’s worth; silence and rest were perfect salutations. More drops fell around him a soft applause of watery hands.
Was it worth it? Was this all he had to show for, to prove, this tiny, shambled hamlet around him? He slumped down. Blood clouded his eyes again. He swiped it away. The conglomeration of forgotten homes stood like sentry of guards around him. He scanned the remnants around him, He recalled scattered faces of friends, families, his family, to protect their memories, life and hardships with none but him to remember it. Others had survived, fled to other villages, only he dared to return here.
The breeze ruffled his hair before a gentle kiss of rain washed over him. The pelt of water seeped into every garment giving refreshment. He smiled at the irony of the unspoken welcome. He closed his eyes, giving exhaustion a chance to retreat from the invigorating hospitality. The wind tugged his soaked shirt and vest with childlike eagerness to be noticed. Yeah, it was worth it, He was home. Tomorrow could wait for a proper welcome. This was all that mattered now. It was worth it.
Holy moley! I am a day late to notice this, but I never expected this to ever occur. Thank you so much for the DD! Also thank you to OHiNeedTea and GrimFace242 for the suggestion and feature! and the rest of you for your amazing comments!
I'd remove the backstory. It's good to keep the reader guessing, and it interrupts the flow of the scene. If this were part of a longer story you could add it in later or hint at it. Well done nonetheless.
Well done you! A truly well deserved DD
This picture truly tells a story in full that many entire books never could, stunning work!
Either way: Really loved this one. I can see all the time and effort you put into it and it was really worth it
Without a comma, this makes me think the ruins are sweating.
How long had it been since he had seen this place; Weeks, months, ages?
This should be a colon.
It had been a long journey; He had fought and even loved it at times, there and back again.
I would remove the semicolon and make it two sentences. It's good to avoid using them at all costs, as they create long, clunky sentence structures.
I think the purple prose has already been mentioned-it got better as the piece went along, but it was still present. It all read very archaic, rather than like modern prose. Try to simplify your sentence structures (avoid lots of commas). Don't opt for a more obscure word when a plain one will do. This will make your writing more modern, and let the emotions of your character shine through more.
I didn't quite understand his peace at the end. It wasn't what I was expecting, it seemed a bit rushed to me. I would have thought his emotions at the end would be more...mixed?
Overall, I liked the subject matter, and the emotions were good. However, I felt it was too short. I didn't quite get a sense of what was going on in this character's head. I feel it could be expanded on.
I have applied your suggestions of the comma and the colon.
I intended some parts to read clunky because as the illustration suggests some people tend to ramble or have disjointed thoughts when in an intense state. And I'm glad you found the tone to be archaic! That's what I was wanting the reader to notice that this is a different time/place by the wording.
I understand the purple prose is a problem (you're lucky you didn't read the first two revisions)and yes it drives me batty also rereading through it. I still revise, edit and rewrite portions without detracting from the tone when I feel I have found the words.
Again, thank you for your time and critique I appreciate it.
As for purple prose. You don't have excessive amounts, so you're good. You just have the occasional simile/metaphor that just doesn't really flow well. Too many in one piece and it can feel purple. One example: "Reality and nostalgia blurred together like the clouds above him." There's several problems here. First, reality/nostalgia. I'm assuming you want to convey his memories are blurring with reality? But then nostalgia is a feeling not the actual memories. Then, "like the clouds above him." It's really hard to say why some similes do/don't work. Here I think the problem is that you're comparing something vague to something vague. You're not comparing his memories to something the reader is familiar with (water swirling down a drain, for example). Unless the element in the story is pre-established, it's hard to compared things to it. I've come across this problem many times, as the writers, to us, it is familiar, remember, to the reader, it isn't. So just an example of what it could be rephrased to and still keep the meaning (I hope) "Nostalgia clouded his mind. Reality blurred and twisted like water swirling down a drain." Not sure if it would be appropriate to use drains... but that was my attempt.
"The rogue’s ambush; how stupid had he been?" was one semicolon. Best guide on semi-colons ever: theoatmeal.com/comics/semicolo…
Hope that helps you see better what I'm getting at. They're not huge mistakes, but it's like it needs that final round of editing. Maybe put the piece away for a while then look back at it a few weeks later with fresh eyes.
You're very talented, my friend. I love the way you use omnitopias, like "Plip." to indicate the moment when a rain drop lands.
I also like some of the expressions you use, such as "The breeze ruffled his hair before a gentle kiss of rain washed over him." .
Your work has really caught my attention, and I hope you continue to write, eh.
I completely forgot about the dialogue break. Thank you for pointing that out.
I will at least rewrite the flashback. I wasn't happy with it but I felt
like I needed to give an explanation of how or why he got in his condition. I will see about rewriting other parts to be more defined and reduce some of the purpleness.
The flashbacks were very interesting--you make it just vague enough to not be too detailed, but you give us enough information so we actually know what's going on. Again, details: very excellent.
This may sound strange, but I really like the paragraph lengths. The first is short, concise, and then leads into a few longer ones. Right in the middle, there's a break with another short, three-sentence paragraph, and then again at the end. (I hope you get what I mean by that.)
There were a few grammatical errors:
"He slumped down blood was clouding his eyes again." I'd add a comma in there, or maybe make it into two sentences.
"...scanned the remnants around him, He recalled scattered..." Replace the comma with a period.
"The pelt of water seeped into every garment giving refreshment." I'd maybe add a comma after "garment" and also change "pelt" to pellets? (That last bit was just a suggestion, you don't have to change any words you don't want to.)
All in all, very gripping and descriptive and emotional. Fantastic!
As an an aspiring writer myself, I salute you.
You have a real gift for expressing mood and emotion. I was fully immersed into this in the first couple of lines. Somber and melancholy, but optimistic in the end. I love it!
Looking through the comments of your piece you can tell your sister that this guy now has a story.