Nurem: Desolation’s Edge – Prologue

Twilight was falling upon the Western Expanse.

It was that mystical hour where it seems as if the entire sky is but a thin window into the unknown. Vast mesas stood guard like black sentinels at the sun’s back, while strange constellations of stars swirled endlessly overhead. It was that time when the sureties of day’s reality give way to the wild imaginations of the night.

The moon had begun its slow journey across the sky, emerging from hiding in the east, casting its strengthening glow across the hardpan valley, as the sun’s weakening rays retreated ever further toward the opposite horizon. Somewhere, a lone wolvar howled a mournful tone.

It wasn’t long before the sun had finally fled behind the hills, abandoning the valley to the growing darkness, as if absolving itself of any terrible deeds that were to be committed this night.

At the edge of a cliff overlooking the valley, a dark silhouette stood watching, as if overseeing the motions of the encroaching night. A small glow appeared as the figure lit a cigarette, its weak light reflecting briefly in the man’s eyes. Those eyes, belonging to a hunter of men, watched as the cigarette’s thin smoke drifted lazily into the night sky, eventually dissipating into the still air. The eyes returned their watchful regard to the valley below.

The sun finally disappeared behind the mesas with a final flash, allowing the encroaching darkness its nightly victory. The last glint of natural light reflected briefly against the longrifle leaning against a nearby boulder. As if on cue, the man finished his cigarette and firmly stepped it out with one boot. He reached over without looking and took the longrifle into his grasp. The weapon came up, and then once again the man was still.

Moments stretched while the man stood there. The stars brightened and the moon took over the sun’s watchful guard of the world below. A gun shot shattered the tranquility, a deafening thunderclap in the vast stillness of the valley. And for a long instant, all was silent. The man lowered his rifle, eventually letting it go entirely. The sound of footsteps approached, but the man paid them no heed. He dropped to his knees, one hand reaching up to his chest, before coming away glistening with blood. A shadow separated itself from the nearby darkness and loomed behind the kneeling man. The shadow raised one hand, the light of the moon shining across a large revolver.

A second shot echoed through the valley. The shadow slipped away into the night. And once more, all was silent in the Western Expanse.

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15 thoughts on “Nurem: Desolation’s Edge – Prologue

  1. Like the start, will read more. It’s engaging and intriguing but you need to edit, so that for tense action, less is often more. I hope you don’t mind me saying this but I’ve spent my life, editing for a living. I’ll shut up now.

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      1. Any help would be appreciated. I’m still working on the first draft, of course, but if there’s any way I can keep the ship from veering off course before I get to the 2nd draft, I would very much be interested in that

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  2. Ok, Nurem, here’s a thing. I took your prologue and did a fast edit on it. I’ve left one single phrase in the last paragraph, I think, in italics, and, if, having read the way I’ve changed your prose, ever so slightly, without changing your style or story, then you should guess, yourself, what change is needed for the phrase in question. Of course, you’re free to disregard everything I’ve done here. There’s no fee, obviously, so no foul, either. I’m just trying to help. Anyway, here goes…
    Twilight fell upon the Western Expanse.

    In that mystical hour, the entire sky becomest a thin window into the unknown. Vast mesas stand guard like black sentinels at the sun’s back, while strange constellations of stars swirl, endlessly, overhead. It’s the time when the sureties of day’ give way to the wild imaginations of the night.

    The moon began its slow journey across the sky, emerging from hiding in the east, casting its strengthening glow across the hardpan valley, as the sun’s weakening rays retreated toward the opposite horizon. Somewhere, a lone wolvar howled a mournful tone.

    It wasn’t long before the sun had f fled behind the hills, abandoning the valley to the growing darkness, absolving itself of deed committed by night.

    At the edge of the cliff overlooking the valley, a dark silhouette stood watch, overseeing the motions of the encroaching night. A weak light reflected briefly in the man’s eyes, as he lit a cigarette. Those eyes, belonging to a hunter of men.

    The sun disappeared behind the mesas with a final flash, allowing the darkness its nightly victory. The last glint of natural light reflected briefly against the longrifle leaning against a nearby boulder. As if on cue, the man took his last, long drag from his cigarette and stepped it out. He reached over and grasped his weapon. Once again, he stood still, watching, waiting.

    Moments stretched while the man stood there. The stars brightened and the moon took over the sun’s watchful guard of the world below.

    A gun shot shattered the tranquility, a deafening thunderclap in the stillness of the valley. And for a long moment, all was silent. The man lowered his rifle, it slipped from his hands.. The sound of footsteps approached, but the man paid them no heed. He dropped to his knees, one hand reaching up to his chest, before coming away glistening with blood.? A shadow separated itself from the nearby darkness and loomed behind the kneeling man. The shadow raised one hand, the light of the moon shone across a large revolver.

    A second shot echoed through the valley. The shadow slipped away into the night. And once more, all was silent in the Western Expanse.

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  3. OK, the italics didn’t appear but there is a question mark behind the phrase in question. Just looking at it now,I can see other things I would change. Like the third last paragraph, The stars brightened as the moon took over the sun’s watchful guard of the world below.

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      1. That’s what editing is about but you must be brutal. Write everything you can down in your first draft. Put that aside and do something else then, rested, return to your manuscript with fresh eyes. Good luck.

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  4. Look, more carefully, at what I’ve done. It’s not just about ’roundabout wording’, as you put it. It’s about pace and time, too. If the sun is setting, it’s setting. It’s not sort of setting. Notice how many times I took out phrases like ‘finally.’ Make actions direct and now, that improves the pace and puts the reader in the minute. Don’t describe something for the sake of description. Give it a purpose. And the guy picking up the gun, Christ, he took so long about it, I almost fell asleep. You set this guy up as a watchful guardian, a ruthless hunter and then, wham, he’s down. That’s action. It’s also writing. There’s an old adage, show, don’t tell. Readers don’t like being told things. They like to find out for themselves. You can show them but trust your reader. Writing is a collaborative experience. Of course, it’s an uneven collaboration because while you show them the guy on the rock with the rifle, so they’re waiting for him to do something. They don’t know about the guy with the gun, coming from behind. You do. That’s your advantage. So, you’ve set the scene then you bring in the other guy. Your reader is there, on the rock, in that guy with the rifle’s head. Then, wham, you surprise them. You have them.
    I hope this helps. I’m putting the finishing touches to a new story of my own right now.

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    1. I recall reading a very similar piece of advice in Stephen King’s On Writing a few years back. And you’re absolutely right about it, of course. I feel like in my worry not to leave the reader behind while writing potentially confusing physical actions, I overdescribe to the point where, as you said, its like holding their hands. Its no longer a story with action, its a story about me describing actions.

      I will have to go through this with a metaphorical sharpie and make some livesaving cuts.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Get your story down, first, then take a scalpel to it. At least, that’s how I write although the more you do it, the more likely you are to find your style and soon, it will come natural to you. Strangely, I don’t read ‘how to’ books but I spent 25 years working as a freelance journalist. You soon learn what sells and what doesn’t and I don’t mean that from a commercial perspective, I mean what ‘sells’ is what the reader likes to read, if you see what I mean. If your writing is direct and in the moment, you bring the reader with you.

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      2. That may be the most powerful piece of writing advice I’ve received, and it addresses a flaw in my writing I’ve never been able to articulate previously. It may be able to help me crack through the rest of the story, as well.

        Liked by 1 person

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