Not everybody wants to write comics. Some people prefer the older art of simply telling a story in the third person, all sentences and paragraphs, and so this time, we’re going to offer up a couple of quick exercises in writing prose. Just like last time, a quickly done sample of third person prose. Afterwards, I’ll set the two challenges–
Brackish mud sucked at Jonny like some kind of hungry monster. His feet had already disappeared into the mire, and he could feel the wet, black slime licking at his knees. He searched the darkness desperately with his hands, trying to find something, anything he could grab onto and pull himself out of this mess. There! His fingers found a gnarled old root that pulled taunt as he yanked on it. Hand over hand, he fought to get his small body out of the muck and quickening mud. Finally, breath nearly gone from exertion, his arms on fire, Jonny collapsed onto ground that felt cold and slimy, but held his weight.
“Race” He yelled, wide-eyed in the darkness.
But Race didn’t answer. Race couldn’t answer. Jonny’s teacher, his friend-- wasn’t here. When that cybernetic yeti had attacked, seemingly out of nowhere, Race had instantly thrown himself in the way of danger by body-blocking the monster.
“Jonny! Run!” Race had yelled.
“Not without you, Race!!” Jonny had wanted to cry back. He never got the chance. Some strange, unexpected force had other plans. Even as Race wrestled with the yeti, the hillside suddenly split in two. Jonny dropped helplessly into storm clouds, falling for what seemed like hours, finally splashing down in the muck of the mire that still coated his legs.
He sat up. Blinking his eyes, Jonny couldn’t see more than a couple of feet, anyway he turned his head. This place smelled like sulfur, and old, wet leaves.
Somehow, he got up onto his feet, and took a couple of steps away from the bog, hoping the solid ground would hold out under him. “I gotta find a way back up,” he muttered, sure that no one else could be around.
“Hello?” came a young, female voice from somewhere in the mist.
“Jesse?” Jonny called out, feeling a little stupid a second later. Jesse couldn’t be here, either. She went along with Hadji and Jonny’s Dad to set up that new scientific office in Washington, DC.
“Oh, no,” said the girl’s voice. “I’m not Jesse. I don’t know who that is, quite honestly. A friend of yours, maybe?”
Jonny moved closer to the voice. It had a brightness to it, welcome in this misty darkness. The girl appeared out of the fog, and she couldn’t have been more than fifteen years old. She wore some kind of school uniform.
“Dank, here, isn’t it?” The girl had a soft British accent.
“Careful,” Jonny warned, remembering the danger nearby, "There’s mud around here that’s just as bad as quicksand. "
The girl offered him a wide-eyed look of acceptance, and afterwards, gave more care to wear she put her feet. Then, once they were close enough, she held out her hand.
“Hello,” she said again. “I know I said that before, but seems a much better time, doesn’t it? My name, in case you might be wondering, is Hermione.”
“Jonny.” He gave her hand a quick shake. Somehow, his hand touching hers felt weirdly nice, somehow.
“Well, Jonny,” said Hermione, her eyes darting this way and that.
“Do you know where we are?” They both asked, pretty much at the same time. Each one tried to laugh, but somehow only managed to smile.
“This place smells like old socks,” said Hermione, making Jonny smile again.
A horrible voice, like boot-trodden leaves, broke through the darkness.
“A little boy and a little girl. Whatever are they doing here?”
“More importantly,” came a second, gentler voice, like some super-model from TV. “Whatever will we do with them?”
Three figures shimmered through the fog, suddenly surrounding Jonny and Hermione. Two witches out of a Halloween nightmare, and one more, younger and blonder, like some '60’s TV star. The shortest, meanest looking one seemed to ignore the bog, standing there like she was on solid ground.
All three wagged or waved their fingers in the air.
“Ma’am,” said Jonny to the blond one, trying to sound more polite than foolish, “Are you casting a spell to help us get out of here?”
The blond looked away, while the other two only cackled.
“Get behind me, Jonny!” said Hermione, as she reached into her coat.
A silver light washed over the three witches, like the beacon of some lighthouse, pushing all three of them back like some strong wind until they vanished, back into the mist and fog.
"Yes, " said a masculine voice, deep like some archangel, but soft as your dad’s best friend from next door, offering to help. “How is it that you two wander alone, in this place, where it is always a witching hour?”
“If you don’t mind my asking,” Jonny stopped himself from adding ‘buddy,’ the same way Race might. “Who are you?”
A man rose above them, out of the darkness. He wore a blue suit, with a fancy cloak, and a silver medallion hung over his white, ruffled shirt. He had a blue hat in one hand, as if doffed politely.
“Men call me the Phantom Stranger.”
“Just men?” Harrumphed Hermione. She had a small stick of some kind in her hand.
“Yea,” said Jonny, stepping up beside Hermione, not willing to let her face any new danger alone, no matter how helpful this guy seemed to be. “What is this place, and how do we get the heck out of here?”
“This place?” The guy who called himself the Phantom stranger made a considered sound. “This place is darkness brought to life.”
TO BE CONTINUED.
By you, as a matter of fact.
That’s your first challenge.
Write the next two pages. You can end our tale of mystery, or not-- as you choose. It’s up to you. YOU are the writer, now. There’s no right or wrong. There’s just you, your imagination, and the story so far as provided. Or, if you want, you can rewrite me completely in your own style, and again, write as much or little as you want-- as long as you figure out a page or two more, and put word to paper-- or thread, in this case.
And that brings us to challenge #2.
Finish the story, but in outline form. You’ve got the beginning, now come up with the middle and the end. Oh, not in some complicated form using Roman numerals, but just a couple of paragraphs. Let’s say no fewer than two paragraphs, but no more than a single, one-sided page.
As a bonus round, I can’t get this to scroll up to the top, so I can’t do a quick proofread-- let me know if I made any mistakes!