Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Excerpt from Prologue of 'The Dragonfly Warrior'

(Below is a rough/first draft of just a part of my prologue for The Dragonfly Warrior, a young adult novel I'm finishing. You can find a synopsis of this project by clicking the button on my blog's header. A little background: My main character, Zen, is a 12 year old prince of Nihon [Japan] in this scene. I'm posting this because part of being accountable for my writing is putting it out there. So here it is).

...There was a growing darkness in his belly, and a panic began to rise from out of his throat. He fought back these sensations, allowing his mind to record every word, every sound, every shallow crease on his mother's anguished face.
“You were born for greatness, Zen. Know that. Generations to come will know of Kanze Zenjiro's heroic deeds. I know, for I have seen it in my dreams. I see you as a young man...so handsome you will be.”
Zen's grip on her hand tightened, and she seemed to find comfort in his strength. Her eyes blinked rapidly, fighting off the deep sleep that craved to take her away from him.
“Be brave. Protect Nihon. Love your father.” Her breathing became labored, shallow. “Remember and think of me always.”
Zen kissed her hand. “I will, Mother.”
Her eyes began to roll backwards, her weak breaths coming at longer intervals. The nurse at the bedside was crying, and Zen could hear the muffled sobs of his father from behind.
“Zen. Greatness will be yours.” Her voice was barely audible over the sound of rain striking the walls of the chamber. “You must...”
His mother's eyes were closed, her lips barely moving.
“Must what?” Zen said into her delicate ear. “What must I do?”
She gasped and her body tightened, her lungs not able to expand. Then her body went limp again. Her mouth still struggled to relay her final message.
“I must what, Mother?” Zen asked again, his eyes blind with tears.
It was only an instant moment of clarity, a moment without pain or agony. Her eyes opened and her face became intense. Her voice less than a whisper struggled to convey her final message: “Save. You must save the machine boy.”
With Zen still clutching her warm hand, a flash of lightning lit the chamber through the windows. And by the time the rolling of thunder followed, her spirit left the confines of the material world.
Into the unknown realm.


21 comments:

J. Noel said...

Man, putting up a rough draft is tough. Gotta be brave.

Tiyana, aka "Yoyo" said...

Thanks for sharing!

Your sample, for me, felt like such an intimate scene. I've never had to witness someone slip away like this before, though I have seen loved ones in pretty bad shape at the hospital or receive and try to process the news that they may not be alive for much longer. Even so, this scene had a strong emotional grip on me. I find it difficult to write that kind of intimacy without it coming across as, well, you know, cheesy.

Anyway, Zen's mother seemed like she was a very strong woman, able to face the world with an unusual amount of inner calm. There's a kind of serenity in her last words. Maybe she was certain she'd be going to a better place in her afterlife? (Though, she sounded more certain of her son's destiny. I guess that was her source of peace.)

Seems I'm talking a lot about the mother, haha, because you can tell Zen is trying to emulate her strength. She sure left him with a great burden of responsibility, though, that's for sure. Poor kid!

Now we want to know what's so special about this "machine boy!" He seems fairly irrelevant at such a tender moment as this, heh. He must be pretty important to be on a dying woman's mind!

Jenna Howard said...

You're such a brave little toaster, Jay.

I'm always so impressed with those who put their writing out there, naked on the table.

The phrase "unknown realm" makes me think this won't quite be the last we see of Zen's mother.

And wow he's gotta lot of pressure on his 12 year old shoulders: protect Nihon, save the machine boy, love his dad...can't wait to see his journey.

J. Noel said...

Thanks ladies. I do feel vulnerable putting a WIP out there. Imagine...no editing yet!

I worked in medical sales, and witnessed a lot of tragedy in the hospitals I worked in, as I had to train the nurses around the clock.

Also, my grandfather was very sick before he passed. And the day before he died, he was having very vivid dreams and spouted "nonsense." But sometimes, that nonsense can be very profound.

The theme of motherhood is very strong in this book, and I really do love putting in a little foreshadowing.

Thanks for your input!

jdjaws said...

Great excerpt! You are on your way to writing an engaging novel that will draw your readers into this very interesting story. Already has me wondering... who is this machine boy? :-)

Laura Eno said...

Excellent hook! I definitely want to know more.

Mr. Shife said...

OK you hooked me and now I am left wanting to read more. Not cool, but I liked what I have read so far and look forward to seeing the rest of your work.

J. Noel said...

Thanks JD, Laura, and Shife. Like I said, I do need to get over the initial fear. I think a lot of writers are a little insecure. Hopefully that'll lessen as I continue

Heather Hildenbrand said...

wow- just read the peice, and its pretty great! When does the rest of it come out? I'm hooked!


www.heatherhildenbrand.blogspot.com

J. Noel said...

Thanks Heather. I'm in the final leg of writing the first draft. It's a labor of love for sure.

the weirdgirl said...

Hey Jason, I've been meaning to comment here since you put this up! We're finally over our viruses and I hope you and your family are recovering too!

I really like what you've built here. It's got a lot of great detail and emotional depth. The pacing is very nice. I've seen a lot of writers fall into the trap of hurrying their prologue and you've completely avoided that here. You've set up the foreshadowing and future plot nicely while still leaving us with questions. I especially like the duality of "Into the unknown realm," because that could refer to Zen's journey as much as his mother's spirit.

The only thing I'm not crazy about is that crash of thunder. It's a YA novel, sure, but be careful of falling into cliche even for younger audiences. If the storm is somehow significant to the story or comes up as a recurring symbol later then it's fine, but if it's just another layer of detail for detail sakes... I'm not sure you need it. The drama is already intense without it.

Have you read the Tales of the Otori books? It is another series set in fuedal Japan, although the protagonist is older. You might enjoy them. My bookshelf is so packed I can't find the author offhand but I'll dig it up for you if you want it.

Anyway, I can't wait to read more!

Jay Noel said...

Thanks WG! I think we're all better, but stomach stuff just tends to linger.

I made some changes in my draft after seeing it up here. First, I decided to make it my first chapter instead of a prologue.

Secondly, re-wrote the scene and got rid of the cliched rain/storm setting. It served no purpose and kinda got on my nerves!

Tales of the Otori? That sounds really cool, thanks again WG!

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