Thursday, September 24, 2009

#28 1000-Word

GENRE: Adventure

Atlas was jolted awake by a violent shuddering of his wooden house, and the screams of terror from his wife. Around him, the walls shook brutally, and sections of the roof were falling in. He looked around wildly, seeking an answer to the madness, and looked out the window, finding the trees being unearthed, as if by an invisible giant shaking them out of the ground. A terrible creaking sound was heard, and Atlas looked up at the roof, the source of the noise. It gave once last creak, and fell in on the hut.

Adrenaline pumping, Atlas rolled off the small hay bed, and onto the floor. His wife shrieked, and attempted to move out of the way, but to no prevail. The heavy timber ceiling slammed down on her distraught body, crushing her instantly. She gave one last scream, and fell silent.
Then it was over.

Atlas swallowed, terror and grief welling up inside him. Suddenly, the wall behind him groaned, and fell in. Atlas tried to leapt out of the way, but was too slow. The wall crushed down on Atlas’s tall and muscular body, slamming him to the ground.

Head throbbing from a wooden plank to the head, Atlas heaved the wall off of him. His once golden beard was stained red by a cut on his chin. A similar cut sat on his forehead. As he sat amidst the rubble, he heard a tiny sob. Immediately, his ears pricked up. “Minos! Minos, where are you?” He called into the night.

“Father! Father!” His teenage son called out. A faint glimmer of hope surged, and he dug furiously through the ruins. He found a foot belonging to his son, and he dug around it, uncovering his son, miraculously alive.

“Minos!” Atlas shouted in happiness, grabbing his son, and holding him tight. “Are you injured?”

“No, father.” Minos sobbed.

In the distance, Atlas could hear a crowd wailing in distress.

“Come, Minos. We must join the others. We must make sure we save who we can.”

“What of mother?” Minos asked, voice shaking.

“She is… I was… she is with the Gods.”

Atlas left the wreckage, his son trailing silently behind him. He glanced at the beach, which was nearby, and gasped. He sprinted towards the ocean, stopping at the beginning of the sand. Water licked his toes, where there should have been a large sandy beach.

Atlas stared at the sight, dumbfounded, when the wailing returned. The great warrior took one last look, and moved away, heading towards the wailing. He walked in silence with his shocked son, quickly arriving in what was left of the city centre. Of the original 10 000 inhabitants of the city, fewer than 300 were left alive. When he arrived, the crowd gathered around him, begging him to take charge and help. Standing on a pile of rubble, he bellowed:

“People of this city! The Gods have sent a curse to us, for failing the capture of Athens. Many of us have been killed, and our houses destroyed. I have seen the curse from Poseidon!”

A few people stared at him quizzically.

‘The sea is rising!’

At that, people screamed. Mentally, Atlas cursed himself for being so stupid and thoughtless. However, when the screaming had subsided, he continued.

‘It will not be long before Athens, and all our other captured cities realise what is happening, and send their navies to punish us. I propose a plan: We will leave this island, and seek safety and shelter someplace I know, where no one will find us. It is large enough for us all to live, until we become strong enough to rise up once again.’ This time, the large crowd cheered, and Atlas smiled.

‘Who will come with me? I shall wait for all those who wish to accompany me until daybreak before leaving.’

‘Aye!’ One man yelled. ‘I shall accompany you, brave Atlas!’

‘And I,’ yelled another.

‘As shall I!’ a third called. Quickly more voices followed, until everyone had called out.

‘Very well.’ Atlas said. ‘I shall wait for everyone to arrive with their families and belongings. Livestock must remain however. Now, be off, and collect what you hold dear. Meet at the docks!’


As the sun slowly rose in the sky, its rays of light shone through the streets of Athens, revealing the aftermath of the previous nights battle. It had been a bloody battle. The Sea-Folk had barged through the Athenian Navy, and unloaded hoplites into the city. Many were killed, and even more wounded. But then, just when the Sea-Folk seemed on the verge of gaining yet another victory, the Navy mounted a surprise attack, distracting the enemy long enough for the navy to regroup and slay them.

Through the streets, guards picked up the dead bodies silently. Everyone moved slowly, mourning the dead.

Only one man ran through the streets, his old and slightly frail body moving with great speed. In his haste, he nearly knocked a soldier down.

‘Hey!’ The soldier called out. ‘Slow down Balynthisus!’

‘I can’t!’ yelled back Balynthisus. ‘I have to attend a war council.’ He continued to run through the stone streets.

He rounded a corner, and sped down the street, to the large hall. He bounded up the stairs, taking two at a time, and barged into the room, where several people were waiting.
He made his excuses, and took a seat.

An elderly man named Euselust sat on a stool in the centre of the room. Behind him sat another man, in his 30’s, and wearing armour, which had been dented and blood stained in the battle. Euselust stood, and began.

‘Gentlemen, as you know, we have come here to meet at this hour to discuss our victory over the Sea-Folk. Their navy is crippled, and their army destroyed. It will take them some while to recover.’

‘Kill them now!’ One man called out, and several other men cheered. Dipeu.

The hoplite standing behind Euselust stepped forward.


  1. First - love the title. Second - title sounded familiar. Third - googled 'Poseidon's Trident' and discovered there is a folk/rock band by this name. Fourth - it's also the name of an environmental group.

    I really think you have a great concept here. I get glimpses of voice, but not an overwhelming voice.

    I think you have the bones of a great story. Best of luck.


  2. i would encourage you to send your writing out to 3 or so readers whose grammar, vocabulary and taste level you trust.

    some suggestions:

    "to no prevail" should read "to no avail"

    try not to use the same word in quick succession, i.e. "Atlas stared at the sight, dumbfounded, when the wailing returned. The great warrior took one last look, and moved away, heading towards the wailing."
    Replace that second "wailing" with "sound" or "noise"

    I don't understand "Water licked his toes, where there should have been a large sandy beach." Why should there have been a beach? Where is it now? If water is lapping at the sand, what is it then?

    The scene of him telling the crowd about "the sea is rising", sounds unintentionally comical.

    There's so much more I have questions about, which is why I think sending this out to some trusted readers will help you clean this up.

  3. This needs a lot of work, in both the technical aspects and the story.

    I won't bother with the technical aspects except to say Strunk and White: The Elements of Style. Buy it and use it and you'll soon find all your technical problems disappearing.

    As far as the story goes, I would suggest starting with the logic issues. A man wakes up to find his wife screaming and his house falling in on him. He stays in bed wondering what's going on instead of getting up and trying to save his family, which, I think, is what most of us would do. He'd try to figure it all out once they were safe. This is just one example of many.

    When he confronts the villagers, he immediately knows there are 300 without counting. They're all standing in one spot screaming. And they all agree to leave in the morning. Nobody is concerned about burying their loved ones. None of the survivors is injured to the point where they're too hurt to travel. No one has a dissenting POV.

    The story happens very fast. You might want to slow it down and take the time to show us human actions and reactions as well as emotions. Just the beginning half of this 1,000 words could stand to be an entire chapter all on it's own. Slow down and make more of what you have here.

  4. The "Water licked his toes..." didn't confuse me, but I agree that this needs work. Check your commas.
    Also, Atlas was not shown to be this great hero, yet everyone flocked to him. With so many dead, there should be a lot of wounded. I cannot imagine people huddling in one place after what just happened.

    This story sounds interesting. Clean it up and make it shine. You can do it. :-)

  5. Hi there,
    I think you have a great concept here and it promises to be a huge epic story. It needs a little work though.

    You have a lot of '-ing' and '-ly' words which with a little work, you can get rid of most of them and it will bring more strength to your writing.

    Here are some other examples of things I found that you can fix and kick it up a few notches:

    He looked around wildly = something like ‘eyes darted around’ or something else to eliminate the ‘-ly’

    Second paragraph: think it’s more powerful if you cut the last sentence “Then it was over.”

    ‘He found a foot belonging to his son’ = You might want to rephrase this…to me it initially reads like the foot isn’t still attached. :-)

    ‘Who will come with me? I shall wait for all those who wish to accompany me until daybreak before leaving.’

    Keep at it though, those little 'mechanical' things are easy to fix. Like I said, you have have a good story idea, so keep going. :-)

  6. A person can be distraught - a body cannot.

    Too many descriptors; too many adjectives and adverbs. The action moves too slowly.

    And I'm confused - is this a retelling or a mixture of mythology?

    As is, it reads like a recitation of a historical event. But nothing here makes me care about any of the characters or compels me to keep reading.

    You may want to start in a different place in your story - somewhere that lets us get to know the characters and become invested in them.

    Best of luck!

  7. Ooh, mythology story! Me likes!

    Overall comments:
    1) Try to avoid opening chapters and scenes with a character waking up. It's a very cliche way to open a chapter/scene, and is a passive opening, too. Especially when it's the opening scene of the entire novel.

    2) AWESOME action-packed opening.

    3) There are a couple of typos and grammatical errors throughout:
    ex: Atlas tried to LEAP out of the way
    ex: “Father! Father!” his teenage son called out

    4) Suggestion--to heighten the tension and emotional impact of the scenes, try using more short sentences rather than longer, more compact ones. Especially in the first scene with Atlas, I felt that the tension got lost in the midst of all the verbiage.

    Hope these comments help. Best of luck with your writing!

  8. This is an interesting concept and with a little work you'll be able to make it into a gripping story.

    There are several grammatical errors and misused words. Find someone you trust to assist you with tightening up the mechanics of your writing and I think the story will shine.

    Good Luck!!

  9. I agree with the other comments, and I think your writing could be tightened. eg. in the first paragraph, there are a few redundant phrases. "Around him", "seeking the source of the madness", "the source of the noise" - you could cut all of these without affecting our understanding of the story. In the second-last sentence of the first paragraph, there's also a passive phrase: "A terrible noise was heard". If you turn this active, and take out the redundant phrase, you'll have a sentence that reads, "Atlas heard a terrible noise and looked up at the roof." I think for an active scene like this, you need short, punchy sentences.

  10. Good concept, but I have a problem caring about the characters. Perhaps you can edit it to show me who they are and a reason why I should care that the sky is practically falling on these people.

    I was also bothered by the repetition in words but perhaps you have not had time to edit. It really is imperitive to read it aloud to yourself to find those repetitions.

    The other problem I have is it seemed to jump from Atlas, being the protagonist, to then Balynthisus and Euselust. I found that part confusing.

    Keep writing!

  11. You've gotten plenty of good feedback, so I'll just talk about the Greek stuff since I live in Greece and married a Greek woman.

    Male names are interesting. Although a name like Panos is spelt with an s at the end, when one addresses a person named Panos directly he would drop the s. It would be. "Hey, Pano, how's it going?"

    "What were you thinking, Panagioti?" for Panagiotis.

    "Dimitri, tell me it's not true" for Dimitris.

    "Where are you going, Apostolo?" or "Where are you going, Apostole?" for Apostolos. The e in the second example is not silent. It's pronounced--it's a soft e, like the first e in example.

    So, in the case of Minos, it turns out that its: "Mine! Mine, where are you?"

    "Mine!" Atlas shouted in happiness...

    "Come, Mine.

    It reads odd that way--the possessive of me or a hole in a mountain--but that's the proper way to do Greek names.

    Putting an accent on top of the e might get the reader to read it the proper way (like the accent the French put on their e, but that might confuse things because the Greek's have accents on every word but the accent is to let the reader know what syllable to emphasize. In Minos' name, it's on the i, to tell the reader it's pronounced MI-nos).

    Atlas is not a Christian name, so I'm not sure if it obeys these rules. If you need to know, let me know and I'll check it out.

    Or disregard this. Maybe you don't care about that. Just thought I'd mention it.