Day 10: Perhaps the best way to learn about writing is by studying the work of other writers. Today, you will choose a book by an author you admire. Read a paragraph of this book to get the author’s “voice” in your head. Now, try to write your own story (or rewrite a story you have written) the way this author would have written it. Imitate the author’s style and techniques he uses . . .
The Book I chose was The Name of the Wind: The Kingkiller Chronicle Day One by Patrick Rothfuss. I re-read the first couple pages as suggested, here it is:
It was night again. The Waystone Inn lay in silence, and it was a silence of three parts. The most obvious part was a hollow, echoing quiet, made by the things that were lacking. If there had been a wind it would have sighed through the trees, set the inn’s sign creaking on its hooks, and brushed the silence down the road like trailing autumn leaves. It there had been a crowd, even a handful of men inside the inn, they would have filled the silence with conversation and laughter, the clatter and clamour one expects from a drinking house during the dark hours of night. If there had been music . . . but no, of course there was no music. In fact, there were none of these things, and so the silence remained.
The Leaky Inn
The Sevens rains started yesterday and will continue for seven days and seven nights. The rains always broke the regular routine of the Leaky Inn which was not a place of much activity. Men came to get a good night’s sleep then left as soon as dawn broke but once the rains started, the guests of the Leaky Inn would stay for seven days and seven nights. They would evoke a barrage of story telling, singing, dancing, and the occasional bar fight. Even with the leaking roof, the creaking floor boards, and the broken down fire-place that forced smoke back into the bar, the guests would stay and make the best of their Sevens. Needless to say Mama Elsa was not pleased. She was quite content with the previous status quo where her guests came for the night and left the following morning. Now she was forced to keep tabs literally, cook meals, and keep her guests comfortable while keeping the men away from her daughters too young to know a man’s sex. Damn the Sevens seven times she brooded but dared not curse aloud for fear the Sevens would come twice.
“More beer for my men Mama Elsa.” Brammy called over the chorus of laughter from his table.
Brammy and his men arrived at the Inn just before the first rains. Brammy was the Kunchi Lord from Up River; he was the Liege Lord for their five houses, all represented here. Everybody, ranked or not had respect for Mama Elsa and her Inn despite her cold and distant demeanour They knew she hated the noise and the crowd but loved the commission, which was always paid in full during the Sevens. They knew she would turn them out without a thought if they tried anything fishy with her.
“Leesa” Mama Elsa called her first daughter to the bar as she filled the mugs with beer for Brammy’s men. Just as she filled the last mug, the front door flew open revealing two rain-soaked men.
“Oi shut it, will yah.” One of the men seated near the door bellowed as rain blew in and soaked him.
The men hurriedly removed their cloaks and soaked boots and closed the door behind them. They made their way to the bar and took their seats.
“Is this the Daleeky Yin?” One of the newcomers asked Mama Elsa.
“The Leaky Inn.” She corrected. “Lemme guess, need a place for a couple a nights?”
The second man grunted.
“Rooms’ tight but I can fine space for yuh. Will you be wanting meals an such, or just the bed?” Mama Elsa asked all business-like. It was best to get all the details now rather than later.
“Room and meals, please.” The first one replied.
“Good. That’s seven gold pieces. An I doan mean a piece of a piece. The whole piece is one and you need seven to stay.” The second man grunted to the first who then pulled out his coin purse and placed four gold pieces on the bar top.
“What’s this?” Mama asked.
“We’ll pay four now and the remaining when we leave.” The first man said.
“You’ll pay all seven now or leave in four days. Since yuh want to take your chances with the Sevens.” Mama turned to another man at the bar who signalled her to refill his mug. The Inn had grown quiet since the arrival of the newcomers, but now, you could hear a pin drop on the creaking floorboards. Mama Elsa took an exceptionally longer time than usual to refill the man’s mug. When she returned to the two she tapped the counter.
“So, wha it be?” She asked.
The two men looked at each other but before the first could reply, Brammy came up to the bar.
“These two givin’ you trouble Mama?” Brammy asked. The non-vocal newcomer grunted under his breath but Mama Elsa didn’t miss it. Brammy and his men slowly encircled the strangers as the other guests cleared the area.
“Look, we mean you no trouble, Mama is it?” The first man replied.
“Its Mama Elsa. And if you mean no trouble you will pay up the seven pieces or prepare to leave in four. These men you see here,” She pointed to the crowd. “They paid in full a’ready an wont leave until the Sevens let up. So you can pay four now, but these men will ensure you leave on the fourth. So . . . what will it be?” The annoyance was clear in Mama Elsa’s voice, her stance, even in her face. Her blood was pounding. Why does it always come to this, she wondered.
The first man reached into his purse and pulled out the remaining three pieces. As he placed them on the table, Mama Elsa exhaled and the whole room sighed.
“Atta boy.” Brammy clapped the first on his back as he and his men made their way back to their table.
Mama Elsa eyed the two while picking up her seven pieces. “So wha do they call you two?” She asked. They’d be here for seven nights, might as well know a little about them.
“I’m Clance from Bell Hill. This here is Von, he don’t talk much.”
“Why not?” Mama asked Clance without glancing at Von.
“It’s just better that way.” Clance replied. Mama Elsa nodded. She put two beer mugs on the counter and filled it for the two.
“Are these on the house?” Clance whispered before taking his.
“Beer’s on the house, anything else is out of pocket. Your pocket.” Mama Elsa wiped the counter and disappeared into the kitchen.
“Aye, I heard you came from up Bell Hill?” asked the man whose mug Mama Elsa had refilled earlier. “I’m Eyan.” Clance nodded at Eyan.
“Any news from up them parts?” Eyan asked. “I was headed that way when the Sevens started.” He continued. “It came earlier than usual this year.” Eyan added matter-of-factly.
“Didn’t expect it for another two full moons.” Clance finally replied. “Its terrible, west of Bell Hill. The rebellion’s spreading.” Clance lowered his voice at the last. In these times, any talk of rebellions and factions were taboo. You never knew who listened.
Eyan sighed. “Bad things.” He agreed, “Is it safe though? Bell Hill.”
Von cleared his throat at Clance who looked at him sideways. “Its safe for now, with the Sevens and all. It’ll be safe for now.” Clance replied turning away from Eyan.
Mama Elsa emerged from the kitchen with two bowls of manish water and two small loaves of bread. She placed the tray on the counter before Clance and Von who wasted no time in digging in. As Mama Elsa took her seat behind the bar where she oversaw everything, she caught Clance staring at her younger daughter Ella. She frowned and tapped the counter at Clance.
“Those two are off-limits to you two. Stan’ me?” She asked loud enough to pause all talk.
“Stan’ you Mama.” Clance replied without thinking.
“Good. So where were you heading?” Mama asked sitting back crossing her arms.
Clance swallowed. “Freeton.”
There was a silence that moved through the common room at this. All the men stopped to stare at the two obviously insane newcomers. If there was any one place in the world all the people would try to avoid, it would be Freeton.
“Why would you be going there?” Eyan asked timidly, breaking the silence.
Clance swallowed more deliberately this time. He looked over at Von who had his head hung low over his bowl of soup. Clance looked around the room and saw everybody staring at him intently; he swallowed hard again.
“It is not . . . right . . . for me to say.” Clance chose his words carefully. Mama Elsa narrowed her eyes at the two. Von looked up at Mama Elsa and quickly diverted his eyes back to the bowl in front of him.
“Hmmm.” Mama breathed. Mama looked over the crowd and made eye contact with Brammy; she nodded him over to the kitchen door.
“Yes Mama” Brammy said in a hushed tone.
“Wha yuh think that’s about?” She asked with an equally hushed tone sure no-one could over hear their conversation.
Brammy shrugged. “Been hearing all manner of evil from them parts. Things’ll make your skin crawl.” Brammy shuddered.
“You think them safe to stay?” Mama grew concerned. If there are men willing to venture into Freeton, there’s no telling what they’ll do.
“Bwoy Mama, I couldn’t tell you.” Brammy shook his head in dismay. “But me and my men will keep an eye on them for you. And you know your daughters are like my own so they are safe too.”
Mama smiled at Brammy. “Thanks love.” As she reached up to caress his bearded cheek, he leaned into her touch.
“Oooooo” came the hoots and hollering from the common room as all the men saw the exchange between Brammy and Mama Elsa.
“Oh shut it.” Brammy grumbled as he made his way back to his table, his men pounding their mugs in rhythm as they chanted “Brammy. Brammy. Brammy.” Mama took her usual seat behind the bar as she smiled at the uproar.
“You know what this room need?” Eyan asked over the commotion. “Some music.” He pulled out his bongo drums and started a familiar beat. When he started to sing, everyone joined in and soon the common room overflowed with drunk men singing old folk songs. Even Mama Elsa hummed along with the singing and her daughters danced around the room as they refilled the mugs.
Come Miss Claire
Tek de bankra off yu head mi dear,
Evening breeze a blow,
Come dis way Miss Flo.
Help down yah,
Afta yu no beas’ a burd’n mah.
Ress yuh self at ease,
Feel di evenin’ breeze.
Work is over now is evenin’ time,
Wih deh walk pon mountain,
Deh walk pan mountain,
Deh walk pan mountain side.
Meck we cook wih bickle pan dih way,
Meck wih eat an sing,
Dance an play ring ding
Pan dih mountain side.
*Evening Time by Louise Bennett
So tell me, what did you think? Dont just read it, drop a comment below and let me know what you thought.