This is a story. I wrote it. It is WoW fiction, read at your own risk.
I’m sure I have mentioned this before, but like many bloggers I have certain aspirations to, perhaps, write things in a more professional manner at some stage in my nebulous future. Thus I practice things, so here is some of my practice.
Any and all criticism is worthwhile. I also have a “writer’s commentary” at the end of the story, so you can hear my thoughts on my own work.
Once upon a time, they had made a cute couple.
Two young things. The Man, perhaps having drank slightly too much dwarven ale, grinning like the love struck idiot He was. The Woman, Her cheeks so full of the vigor of life, coloured both by alcohol and the undeniable intoxicant of love.
He thought it was just for fun. Perhaps a little fling on the side, just a summer thing. He, a knight in the service of King Terenas on well deserved leave; She, the daughter of a baker from Stratholme. Brought together by sheer chance at the Darkmoon Faire, where Her father had hawked his “world-famous” cinnamon buns.
They were excellent cinnamon buns, that much was true. Probably the best He had ever tasted. Being a young single lad on vacation, however, He had a whole different set of buns in mind, and the baker’s daughter had enthusiastically complied.
When His leave ended, He didn’t want to leave. He tried to tell himself it was nothing, that He would get over it. The universe had other ideas in mind. He cried. She cried. But She, the baker’s daughter from Stratholme, returned home, and He, the brave knight from Lordaeron, could no more shirk His duty to the king than could a stone sprout a mouth and sing songs.
He wrote letters to Her. She wrote letters to Him. He cherished the only photo He had of Her, not once letting it leave His immediate person. He even bathed with it, pleased to discover the goblin wasn’t lying about the waterproof properties it had.
He and She would visit the other as much as possible. Every time the Darkmoon Faire was around, He made excuses, She made excuses, and then several hours later those excuses were repeated all over again, only with more rumpled clothing the second time.
And so it was that He had made numerous excuses, gracefully exited service of the king, and left for Stratholme. He wasn’t stupid, He had already purchased a nice home for Himself and His bride to be and had lined up a position as a journeyman blacksmith.
A thousand things He wanted to say. A thousand thousand days He had planned to be with Her.
The dreams of His dreams had been realized, but as with all tales that begin with once upon a time, the nightmares of His worst nightmares were soon to follow.
He later learned they were called the Scourge. Nightmarish creatures from across the sea, they swarmed across Lordaeron like… well, like a Scourge. He had died fighting on the road, alone, against an enemy He did not even begin to comprehend.
Many months later, He wandered a plagued and destroyed countryside, His right arm still holding His sword, His left arm clutching a faded photograph. A zombie with purpose, He searched with an unwavering will that only the undead can possess.
As fate would have it, He found Her.
There She stood, on a hilltop, the sickly sun silhouetting Her armor clad figure. There She stood, her red armor stained, Her white tabard spattered with blood and gore.
He tried to call to Her, but all that came out was “Aaawwwhh!”
When She sank to Her knees, wracking sobs ripping through Her body, He tried to comfort Her, but all that came out was “Hhhh”.
When She drew Her blade and attacked him, tears still flowing, He tried to stop Her, tried to tell Her it was Him, but all that came out was “Wwhrrruuu”.
When He defended himself out of instinct, when His sword ripped through Her body, when She bled to death on the road, He tried to say every one of the thousand things He wanted to say.
Will you marry me.
Stay with me forever.
I love you.
But all that came out was “Hh… hh… uuuuhhh!”
The difficulty with writing short stories is that they are supposed to be short. Something light and sweet, something you can sit down and read in a couple minutes. There isn’t a lot of room for anything besides the core of the story.
Picture a scoop of ice cream. This is the story. You can add jujubes, sprinkles, chocolate sauce, change the flavour of the ice cream if you want. It’s still a scoop of ice cream, no matter how many details you add.
With a short story, you can’t add sprinkles. There just isn’t room. You need to cut out as much as possible and simply tell the tale you want to tell. Anything else is a waste of time and space. You’re trying to eat ice cream here, not a bunch of sprinkles and cookie crumbles with some ice cream buried underneath, and you are trying to eat this ice cream in one bite.
“A Thousand Things” was significantly longer in its original version. Instead of one continuous romantic tragedy, it was made up of multiple scenes and even had multiple characters. The core story you see above, for instance, was originally a flashback. The Man character had a name, was a Forsaken warrior, and was visiting a graveyard on the anniversary of the first time he met the Woman.
The story I wanted to tell had nothing to do with that graveyard or the forsaken Man. It was about the tragedy itself, and there was no point in using a flashback to tell the story when I could just tell the damn story straight up.
Eliminating names was a tough decision, but again I felt it detracted from the story, so they and all dialogue got the old backspace button. There was also originally an old forsaken man by the name of Ogie who acted as a sort of guide for the Man character when He regained consciousness. As much as I like Ogie, the story wasn’t about him, so heave ho! Ogie and his undead mule got cut.
I hope it was fairly clear that the Woman character was a member of the Scarlet Crusade. If it wasn’t, well, now it is. At least it was clear that She hadn’t been turned, had survived, at least long enough to die at the blade of Her true love. There was originally an explanation of how She survived, what She was doing when He found Her, there was a bunch of other crusaders present, etc.
Delete, delete, delete.
The dialog at the end (where He tries to talk to Her) was extremely difficult to get “right”. It needed to be sad, heartbreaking if possible. It needed to show that communication is quite literally impossible in this situation, which you’d think would be pretty easy with a starring character having no lower jaw.
The difficulty came in trying to make this dialog serious and sad rather than hilarious. I’m not writing a story about Galertruby. So, His dialog ended up matching phonetically the sounds one makes when they are about to cry. It seems to work from my perspective.
Overall I’m pretty happy with this one. Easily near 80% of what I had originally written was cut, and I think this little story is much, much better for losing the excess weight.
I’m also very proud of “sickly sun silhouetting”.