Friday, December 30, 2016

A Story: Part 2

As an experiment, I'm writing a story online, starting with a paragraph I came up with and then incorporating suggestions for what might come next from whoever cares to make them. No idea whether the story will ever be finished.

Here's the original paragraph:

The city had been frozen in time. The moon hung, a thin disk of ice, in the afternoon sun. Birds were motionless specks in the sky. You could climb the smoke billowing from its chimneys halfway up to heaven and there discover an unimaginable nation just an hour's effort above the mundane world.

And here's the continuation, based on yesterday's ideas and suggestions:

Gehenna Immaculata stared at the city from the vantage of the topmost branches of the tallest oak in the adjacent forrest. She had no history or philosophy or even peasant morality to help her put what she saw in context. She was illiterate.

She only knew what she wanted.

So now we have a situation and a protagonist. Next up: motivation and action. What does young Gehenna want? Where has she come from? And what does she do next?

I await your input.

And next week...

I'll be switching this over to a weekly post because I have so many other things to celebrate in my life. But it's beginning to look like an interesting exercise, I think. Let's see how far we can take it.



TheOFloinn said...

The question now was whether she should continue climbing all the way down, out of the smoke, out of time, into the timelessness in which the city was immersed and into which she had fumble-fingeredly dropped everything. If only she could remember what that everything was. But memory wanted time, and of that she was fresh out.

Richard Mason said...

Is she illiterate because no one could open the frozen books in the frozen library? Or is she still moving because she was not paralyzed by a surfeit of literacy? The latter can't quite be the whole story because the birds are frozen and they can't read either.

Unknown said...

"You could climb" - so people entering the city aren't frozen.

Mark Pontin said...

Not just people entering the city. Probably everybody else outside. The city exists in stasis, unlike the rest of the world. Why? Who or what agency is responsible?

Michael Swanwick said...

True. And very important, I suspect.

Sandy said...

Let's try this: "Visitors from afar came to their little farming hamlet just to gaze at the frozen city and had told her family and relations that before the Time War had frozen the big cities her people had been rich. Poor women like her had to marry whomever their fathers chose, but a rich woman could pick her mate. She secretly loved Tyrell, their landowner's blonde-haired laughing son. If she was rich she could ask to be considered to be his mate. If she could somehow steal something from the frozen city she could sell it to a visitor and become as rich as a landlord. That thought burned in her guts and kept her awake at night."

Erik said...

Hello, Gehenna. Hope I'm not too late to continue participating.

Okay, Gehenna Immaculata. Sounds like a Puritan name " If-Jesus-Christ-Had-Not-Died-For-Thee-Thou-Hadst-Been-Damned Barebone" and all that. But no peasant morality, huh? Well then, perhaps not. Meaningless words now - the descendants of that sort of people perhaps. And an adjacent forest? Perhaps the whole area has gone to seed since the city was frozen.

What does she want? Well, has she grown up by the city, staring at it her whole life? Or has she heard tales of something inside that she could be after? She's staring at it from a tree. A plan of attack?

Oh. Perhaps she's waiting for the tourists to leave, watching to see when the few passing souls who come to see this wonder have vacated so she can be alone in the city. Perhaps she's not alone very often. Perhaps there is a place - a library, perhaps, or a museum, or even, maybe, a grand ball with with lights and an a banquet, perfectly frozen, the candles radiating frozen light - that she goes to, that's become important to her just because it's hers. I had a few like that when I was young. Openings in thickets and strange attic corners that became special just because they were mine.

A perfect place to be intruded upon, as it happens, by a villain or a friend.

Anonymous said...

I would think she would want something unrelated like to eat her dinner, or finish her movie, and the city doesn't at all matter to her, and perhaps her story should continue without regard to the city? at least in the present? also, its good opportunity for a light joke there, to break from the beautiful descriptions to a mundane obliviousness?