Success factors of Storytelling (Part 7): Let’s look at a story II

This will be the 7th and last post for this series.

Before reading further, please click on the links below to read the earlier posts to get a better picture of the concepts mentioned previously:

Success Factors of Storytelling (Part 1): Start with the “WHY”

Success Factors of Storytelling (Part 2): Exploring the “WHAT”

Success Factors of Storytelling (Part 3): Exploring the “HOW”

Success Factors of Storytelling (Part 4): Let’s look at a story

Success Factors of Storytelling (Part 5): Investigating the “Where” and “When”

Success Factors of Storytelling (Part 6): Analysing the “WHO”

For this post, we will be looking at a story that integrates some of the important concepts highlighted in my previous posts.

I would like to start by answering the following questions first:

WHY would I want to write this story? 

This story extract places the readers in the thick of the action and uses flashbacks to create suspense and interest. I would like readers to explore the literary mechanics and the art of using literary devices and words to draw readers into the story. At the same time, this story extract deals with moral values and lessons, which is always an interesting topic among novelists and philosophers.  Honor is a theme that I would like to explore in this story. I hope that my readers are able to understand how all these can be used to create a great story. It would be good to refer back to the concepts in my earlier posts to strengthen your understanding of story-writing while reading this story.

WHAT do I want readers to take away by reading this story?

As this will only be a story extract, readers will not be able to get the sense of satisfaction from reading a novel in its entirety or even a complete short story. But what they are able to draw away from this story extract are the mechanics and literary devices that writers usually use to bring out the essence and highlights of the story. Short as the story extract might be, the use of conversations and dialogues in this story extract will also be food for thought for my readers.

HOW would I want my story to reach out to my readers?

There is nothing much to be said here. Insights are found in the story extract below.

WHERE would the setting in which the story takes place be in?

As mentioned, the story will materialise in a world of fantasy.

WHO would be great characters to include in the story?  

I would keep the suspense for now.  Read on to find out.

WHEN would be a great time period to set the stage for the story?

For me, a world of fantasy would be a great time period of me. When would it be for you?

STORY EXTRACT

All right, now that the questions have been answered, let’s have a look at the story extract:

Goysguard removed his sword from its sheath. Looking at the various dragoon engravings on the hilt, thoughts raced through his mind as he pondered on the fate of the figure in front of him…

The battle at Goslion Gate a day earlier was intense. Goysguard was the brigade commander for the Human Alliance, a rebel force formed to end the era of a tyrannical king, Sir Finland. Though Goysguard won the landmark battle against barbaric trolls that roam the lands of Alsington, he was down to six men from a battalion of hundreds by the end of it all, including himself.  Now, six blood-splattered soldiers, were walking and at times limping towards their captured prize – the crystal palace of Goslion Gate, where they expected to witness the surrender of their king, Sir Finland.

As the six soldiers neared the entrance of the palace, they saw a lone figure walking out with his hands raised, sunlight casting shiny reflections off the crown on his head.

“The king has surrendered,” Timothy, one of Goysguard’s lieutenants, laughed with relief. “Just as we have expected he would. I mean, what choice has he left? Huh?”

The rest laughed heartily, as if to remind themselves that the battle has been won and what was left to do now would be to claim the prize of their victory. But complacency always arrives too early. An well-placed arrow shot out from one of the balcony windows of the palace and lodged itself deep into the chest of Tolsland, another Goysguard’s lieutenant.

“Yes,  Sir Finland did have a choice..after all,” muttered Tosland under his breath, his tone subtly gentle and quiet but his words are heard by all his comrades. “To fight to the last man.” With that, he fell to the ground – dead.

The remaining five men tightened their grips on their weapons and sprinted for cover. Rage engulfed them as they tried to spot the shooter. It was acceptable and honourable for one of their own to fall in combat but not when he is taken out by a cold arrow.

Goysguard stole a peep over the edge of the wall he was using as a shield against any further sneaky attacks from the assailant at the balcony. Sir Finland has apparently taken a hasty retreat back to the interior of the palace, his appearance merely a ploy to lure them closer to provide an opportunity for the assassin to steal a shot. The thought of having fallen into Sir Finland’s ploy has Goysguard grinding his teeth in anger.

No, Goysguard thought to himself. We shall not fall here. Not today. Not after what we have been through. We shall capture Sir Finland alive at all cost.

It seems that all his comrades shared the same thought when he took a quick glance at them – their eyes are filled with anger and more prominently, determination. Keinstein, another lieutenant of Goysguard, charged forward when he saw the course was clear, and shouted for the rest to cover him.  Goysguard grabbed hold of his bow, pulled an arrow from his quiver held by a rope behind his back, pulled back the bow string and started shooting at the balcony window where the killing shot that has ended Tosland’s life has earlier emerged.   He shot the arrows one after another in quick succession while the rest rushed after Keinstein, in a bid to win this battle with force and might instead of strategy due to a constraint of manpower and time.

Suddenly, there was a scream from the balcony. A figure emerged from behind the curtain windows and stood there, with glazed eyes- but only for a few seconds. Nevertheless, that was enough for the six warriors to notice an arrow lodged in his left shoulder. Then the figure wavered for a moment before falling over the balcony, and landed on the ground with a loud thud. And there, he remained motionless.

Goysguard kept his bow on his hands as he rushed after his five friends. It seemed safe to move, now that the assailant had been taken care of. At this moment, Sir Finland rushed out from his palace once more, this time choosing to kneel beside the fallen body.  He subsequently grabbed and hugged the upper part of the assassin’s body and held it close to his chest, looked up to the sky, and wept, his entire body vibrating with intense emotions  – oblivious to his surroundings and his encroaching enemies.

As Goysguard and his friends closed in on Sir Finland, they saw that the fallen assailant is a young lad – probably not older than sixteen years old. He was dressed in an Azure blue royal gown. Then a realisation hit Goysguard. The assailant was no assassin. He was the only son of Sir Finland, Prince Bastion. In fact, Goysguard has spent much of his  younger days playing with Sir Bastion – in happier times. Before the civilians revolted against Sir Finland due to his extravagant lifestyle that has landed many of his people in abject poverty.

Tears flowed down his face.

How has it come to this? Goysguard thought to himself. He would not have fired an arrow at a young lad if he knew. He believed none of his friends would too.

Now, as he stood facing Sir Finland, with his sword on his neck, Goysguard has to decide on the fate of his  lands. A swift swipe of his sword would end the miserable life of Sir Finland and free his land from his tyranny, while sparing the tyrant would mean giving Sir Finland a chance for redemption – but a heavy bounty on his own head, as well as that of his five friends. For there are many who wanted Sir Finland dead, and going against their wishes have serious repercussions.  His five friends turned to him for his decision. Goysguard knew that they would stick with him till the end – regardless of the choice he has selected for them.

After much consideration and having made his decision, Goysguard lowered his sword and smiled.

AFTERTHOUGHTS

This scenario might be a common scene found in movies. A good question to ponder on are the reasons behind the allure of such scenes. Is it the heroic qualities that attract viewers? Or is it the fast pacing of the story? Will it be the age-old philosophical question of right and wrong that is so enticing?  Or could it be the combination of all these elements? If so, is there a right mix to the combination?

Writers who have figured the answers to the questions above hold the key to creating a great story. Because, like movies, stories contain humanistic elements too. There are many who argue that emotions are what held readers spellbound in fiction writing while intellectual discussions are what captivate non-fiction readers. But to the rest, emotions are the commonality that binds both genres.

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