Don’t Look Away
One of the joys of writing for me is being able to tell stories like I want to. One of the downsides is that it can throw readers for a loop sometimes. It is often a struggle for me to get the ideas I’m trying to convey down in a way that lets readers slip into the concept easily.
Here’s a scene from an unfinished story of mine that tries to introduce the concept of an easily-forgettable character:
The soft gurgle of the stream as it swept past his hand soothed Dayle’s troubled thoughts. “We’re solid for a time at least. None of the townsfolk will follow us here, and those soldiers won’t either, without some higher officer nippin’ at their heels.”
He set the canteens on the bank next to him and splashed some water on his face. He shook away the droplets and froze, his eyes glued on the far side.
A rabbit-like creature stood there on two legs. The tips of its long furry ears barely broke three feet, and two small pronghorns sprouted between them. Its pink nose twitched as it smoothed its long, forest-green vest over a pair of brown leather breeks. Coal black eyes stared back from a furry tan face.
“It is about time you came to Felwald, Dayle Stott,” the creature said. “I had almost forgotten why I was waiting for you.”
The sound of Stephen cocking a gun drew Dayle’s attention away from the rabbit-like being.
“No,” the creature cried. “Don’t look away!”
Stephen crouched on the bank of the stream, aiming his custom pistol at something on the far side. Dayle frowned. The lad wasn’t usually this jumpy. An odd buzzing filled his head, like a half-heard sound. He shook his head and wiggled a pinky in his ear. Then motioned to Stephen.
“Put that boomstick away before it goes off an lets the world know where we be. Besides, my head’s already buzzin’.”
“But what about…” Stephen’s eyes flicked to Dayle. A quizzical expression passed over his face. He looked at the pistol and slid his thumb over the blade that ran from trigger to tip beneath the six-inch barrel. “That’s odd. I remember drawing, but I don’t remember why.”
Stephen shrugged, uncocked the hammer and holstered the pistol.
Something thumped Dayle’s shoulder, then fell into the stream with a plop. He turned toward the direction and started when he saw a strange rabbit-like creature staring at him, perhaps glowering, though he couldn’t be sure on such a fuzzy face.
“Do not take your eyes off me again, Dayle Stott,” it said. “This will take long enough to explain without having to start over every time you forget about me.”
In a sudden leap the being crossed the stream and landed between Dayle and Stephen. “This should help, I would think.”
Bloodshanks reared, kicking at the air with his hooves. Lady shied away, tossing her head and neighing in agitation. Stephen rushed to Lady and soothed her with whispers as Dayle grabbed the stallion’s reins.
Stephen whipped his pistol up and scanned their back-trail. “Any idea what spooked them?”
Dayle shook his head, and stroked Bloodshank’s neck. The large horse snorted and stamped his forlegs. “Whatever it is, we’d best be moving on.”
A rock smacked Dayle in the back of the head. He turned with a bellow that died in his throat. A strange rabbit-like creature stood in vest and breeks. It juggled a small stone in one hand and its long ears twitched. It quickly hopped forward between Dayle and Stephen.
“I told you not to look away, Dayle Stott!” It said, frustration ripe in its tenor voice. “Don’t make me tie you down and sit on your chest.”
Playing around with concepts like these is what makes writing science fiction and fantasy so much fun. Have you ever had a concept that you’ve tried to convey in a story that your readers just can’t seem to grasp? As a reader have you ever had trouble figuring out just what the author seems to be trying to tell you?
Finally, I’d love some ideas on any future topics you’d like to see me cover on Tuesdays. I’m having the hardest time coming up with anything that seems all that interesting to me, so I’d love to take your suggestions and see what happens.
It’s too small to be a pooka.
I’m sorry, I don’t understand what you’re getting at with this excerpt. It’s odd, yes, but what does it mean? I’m sure we have all written something that sounds great in our head but when we put it to paper it either comes out badly or different to what we intended.
That’s pretty much what I was getting at with the post, Christian. I enjoy playing around with weird concepts, but it can be very hard to communicate them accurately in a way that doesn’t confuse the reader. 🙂
This excerpt is introducing a character from a race that has been cursed to be forgotten (more or less). So any time you stop seeing the rabbit-thing you instantly forget about it.
That gets explained a bit more a paragraph or two after this excerpt ended (I didn’t want it to be too long) and without it I think this helps illustrate the point. 🙂
This story was full of this kind of weirdness, which is one reason it’s on a haiatus right now.