Beeda and I discovered a body by the road this morning, and it has led us to what looks like a whole story – if only the girl survives, and we can make head or tail of it. But I am getting ahead of myself. The man was in his early fifties; kindly looking, and wealthy. And unarmed. We followed his trail – it wasn't hard. He had been dealt a killing blow, and had been left to stumble away, maybe a hundred yards or so from the quiet grove, a little away from the road, where they had been ambushed. A perfect spot for a picnic – or an ambush.
There were six bodyguards. Serious looking fellows. Thier corpses were joined by two others – bandits by their dress... but by now I was already suspicious. For a well patrolled road this was a big armed guard. So the attack was either planned – tareted, or an accident. If the latter the bandits must have been extremely numerous, or they had assistance. They didn't seem to be have been numerous. We followed their trail – that wasn't hard, either. Beyond the grove was an open pasture, and beyond that, the forest proper. We followed the trail barely half a mile into the forest, until we came upon their makeshift camp. We could see five of them, but it looked like there had been more.
Beeda didn't wait to consult, but strung her bow and slipped into the undergrowth. The bandits in the camp were making quite a lot of noise. I considered trying my luck with an arrow, but in the woods, even when not very dense, these things are best left to the professionals.
As I closed in, it became clear why they were making so much noise. They were raping someone. Not all of them. One of the bandits was a woman. I drew my blade.
The action was brief. Beeda got two of them before I even raised my weapon. In seconds only the woman was standing, trying to pull a short mace free from her belt, she looked up, her mouth a perfect 'o'. Then Beeda put an arrow through her throat, by now at very close range. This was not pretty.
The girl had been stripped, beaten, struck in the face with either a flail or a morgenstern, and raped repeatedly. But she was breathing, and no bones seemed to be broken. I remember Beeda grinning at me, so I must have raised an eyebrow. We wrapped the girl as best we could in the remains of her clothes, and I slung her over my shoulder. She is heavier than I expected.
It was quite a way to our camp of the previous night, but now here we are again. As I write, Beeda is waxing her bow in front of the fire, and the girl is sleeping soundly. We talked a little on the way, and Beeda and I agree that the bandits we killed were not the ones who had killed the bodyguards. We also agreed, given the belongings we had found, that the girl had been in a wedding party, and that she had been the bride.
I'm a great fan of POV switching. There's no POV that can be used for everything - though people sometimes try with "omniscient narrator". 1st person is a good way to introduce a character, and in the above piece I am imagining that the character writes a journal - when he can. But since I know the backstories of the other two characters, I also know that neither of them talks very much. In their company, the main character (as yet unnamed) doesn't get to talk very much, and he is a bit of a talker. It makes natural sense to me then that he will talk to himself. There is a further advantage to having the character write a journal: he can't know what is going to happen next. 1st person narrators are often portrayed as telling a story that happened to them a long time ago - so they already know how it is going to turn out. This can spoil much of the discovery of the story and characters - as much for the author as for the reader.
Two things must the author have to write a good narrative:
1. The characters must be in a tricky spot most of the time. The characters' ease and comfort is inversely proportional to the author's ability to discover the story
2. The author must enjoy himself when writing. If he already knows the story in detail, writing it can become a chore.
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