Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Deceitful Drogon or Books We Probably Should Have Banned Ourselves From Writing

There comes a time in every writer’s life when they look back at the progress they’ve made, half-finished vampire epics with pretentious footnotes, old journals with dragons all over them, the handwritten notes (with Lisa Frank stickers in the margins) and think, my god, what a pile of crap!

The always charming Rejectionist has invited the author-friends to post their early (and extremely humiliating) works as part of the Banned Book Week festivities.

I have two extremely awful, please-don’t-really-read-these-because-they’re-quite-embarrassing, pieces to share. In the interest of historical accuracy all spelling and translation mistakes have been preserved, with bold emphasis added to the best bits.

I give you the author at 10 years and then the author at a much less excusable 21.

Once opon a time there was prince named Nathan. He was a brave prince but he had no friends.

So he went to seek the most feared dragon. He set out in the morning because it was a very long way. He soon came across the cave where a dragon lived. He challenged the dragon, but he whimpered, “I don’t want to die!” Well said the prince we could make a deal. All right said the dragon. Well I need you to be my friend and come to the castle for a day as my sevent. “Well I will if you do what I ask. I need you to come to my cave to I can pretend to eat you by putting you on you horse and taking you off then switch you for a dummy made of chicken and cook that. “Sounds alright.” said the prince.

So the dragon did what the prince said.

Then when it was the princes turn the dragon took the prince off his horse, but the dragon did not switch him. So he asked to talk to him. The prince said that he wanted to live. So the dragon said he would switch.

But when it was time to switch the dragon ate the prince.

But one of the princes soldiers was watching and brought the other solidiers and killed the dragon.

Anime di Nottei*

*A very brief explanation. (Mercifully) this is only an excerpt of a pretentious vampire story with a lot of dialog in poorly translated (with babelfish) Latin, Italian, French, and German. Because foreign languages and references to Dante are awesome! We begin with our hero, who has recently become a vampire, going a little crazy and contemplating suicide because he’s very religious and the idea of eating people makes his little catholic eyes cross.

But to turn away (from blood), that was still worse. He could feel his lips pressing to that smooth, writhing throat. His hands tore at his chest, ragged nails trying to cut through the wool of his shirt, instead snagging helplessly in the thick cloth. The sound of metal clattering against the paving stones broke though his senses; his fury had sent something tumbling to the ground. The sight was terrible, perhaps the most terrible yet, so his eye cleared and he saw what lay at his feet.

The dagger. The very same that he had held as he waited for the captain, the one that he had forsaken for the grim joy of tearing with teeth of ivory instead of steel. Now it lay on the ground, the moonlight glinting over its blade. It seemed to call to him and he found himself bending slowly and grasping the hilt in one slick palm.

Had he looked up he would have seen that he was near the river, but even as he sat heavily on the bank he had eyes for nothing but the blade.

In its silver surface he saw more than the distortion of his reflection. In his suddenly clear musings it represented death without the gallows, without torture, without ridicule. Death. The word buzzed around his brain and awakened inner sight. What he saw beyond the blade was what his fevered eye had left out in its vision of martyrdom. In the silver blade the gates stood wide, over them the inscription: Lasciate ogni speranzai. Beyond the gate yawned the pit. He could smell the sulfur as he had the phantom blood, feel the heat singe his skin. But worse, worst, was the sight of what awaited him and the choice. Live by blood, tear at flesh with his dagger teeth, or face the inferno, tearing at his own flesh with this metal tooth that waited hungry in his hand.

He gazed into the sulfurous fires and his soul quailed. In one swift motion he flung the blade from him and let his feet carry him away from the soft plop of the deadly tooth sinking below the water’s surface.

In the end he settles down with a nice vampire girl and they have some lovely adventures together until her creator kills her (in the extremely awful sequel) and the MC has to spend the next hundred or so years on revenge. Pretentious Latin revenge.


  1. Okay, I love the ten year old story. And with a moral! Very precocious.

    I've said it before and find it holds true here, too. It's a good thing I wasn't a beta reader for you when I was 21. You would have queried that puppy. With a spirit of optimism.

  2. I love, love, love, the first story---a fairytale with a twist! I think it ranks up there with the Paperbag Princess.

    I loves me some pretentious Latin revenge.

    And the writhing throat---which I've used once or twice, too. I've been trying just now to see if it's possible to writhe one's throat, but I just cough . . . :D

  3. Aigh! First you pause the switch, then go back to it, and then, just when all is well, you kill the prince!

    Really, after all that cute stuff, I was expecting them to end the story with some chicken dinner, which the dragon would cook with his breath.

    But yes, he was indeed a deceitful drogon, and you kept to your title's promise.

    The second piece is righteous. Really. There's a few stumbles, but the tone is perfect and lines like this stand out:

    What he saw beyond the blade was what his fevered eye had left out in its vision of martyrdom.

  4. @Sarah W: I've never (until now) tried to writhe my throat either. Maybe the throat just wants to writhe when vampires start biting.

    The dragon in the first story was a big step in character development. I had never written a character I liked as the bad guy before.

  5. It looks like maybe my comment never made it? If so, let me repeat that I couldn't get past the DUMMY MADE OF CHICKEN. Holy crap that's good stuff. Also love how the prince is like, "Yeah, a dummy made of chicken...this plan sounds totally reasonable to me."


  7. I love the fake latin in the second one. I bet I would've done that, too, except that most latin languages wouldn't sound pretentious to me (French is my first language)

    Anyway, the first story is priceless, and I LOVE the dummy made of chicken.

  8. Heh. I think the fake latin was actually babelfish Italian. It was supposed to mean something like "children of the night", because it wouldn't be pretentious enough if I ever called them vampires.

    I have to admit The Deceitful Dragon beat out two other very humiliating stories due to the the chicken dummy.

  9. The Dragon story is so well thought out for an author of ten years. I LOVE the dummy chicken touch. Also that he's called Nathan. I don't know why. I ALSO LOVE THAT IN THE END THE PRINCE DID HAVE A FRIEND. Take that you deceitful dragon, you.

  10. Oh man. At least your vampires don't sparkle.

  11. I LOVE the dummy made of chicken as well!

    And holy crap! That vampire story! Like if Hamlet were a vampire! It's pure gold! God, remember when we used to write like that, and not give a fig what we were writing ABOUT?

  12. Hahaha (laughing WITH you!). PRICELESS.

  13. Pretentious Latin revenge! LMAO I love it to bits.

    I think the dragon story had an even better subtext: don't trust dragons.

  14. @Elizabeth Poole: Oh my, the Hamlet comment would have gone straight to my head in those days! Thank goodness I didn't even know the word query back then.

  15. You know, this piece bothered me all night. How everyone loved how bad it was, but I actually liked it. I began to worry I was tone deaf. So I just came back for another look, and I’m very glad to tell you that this sucks.

    I totally missed the “ivory” teeth. Like the vampire was a hippo. And the tortured fingernails getting snagged in some wool is right out of Douglas Adams. And "the terrible sight" when he couldn’t yet see straight.

    And then, of course, you load in enough teeth for a crocodile.

    What this piece does have is a great consistent tone of heavy-duty internal conflict. And great use of phrasing and fragments, so it all flows along.

    But yeah, I can see the overwroughtness now. Thank God.

  16. I wasn't going to say anything about the first comment, but I'm glad to hear you think it sucks, because really, it's pretty awful stuff.

    Still, he was my first original character and I'll always love him a little, dagger hippo teeth and all.

  17. I can't believe no one has yet commented on the best and most dissonant phrase: "the soft plop of the deadly tooth".

    I'm not going to forget that one soon!

  18. Your Dragon story is so mythic. I love it!

    By the way, I really miss my Lisa Frank stickers.

  19. I love that the drogan story has a moral! And the scanned in originals really add. (I do kind of like "this metal tooth that waited hungry in his hand".) Christy

  20. The dragon story cracked me up. Love the whole dummy made of chicken thing. :) And a moral at the end. So sweet!

  21. That's why you don't make deals with dragons. Especially dragons with horses.

    Is revenge still sweet after a hundred years? I would think it would get a little spoiled or something.

    Also, Lisa Frank was both pretty and creepy at the same time, putting it on the highest tier of cool.

  22. Hahahaha, so funny! I love the first one.... not so much the second one. Although the allusions were so very poetic and actually rather clever, they were, exactly as you noted, so so so pretentious.


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