Sunday, August 14, 2011

Riding Off Into The Sunset

Well howdy there strangers....This here FaBo team was left slapping their jeans with mirth....what with disappearing almond and vanilla fudge cake, a ten foot bright pink sand-caked octopus and towns that were so small they didn’t even have trains ....

The inhabitants of Planet FaBo have expanded with a circus of trained sucker punch spiders...not to mention show ponies and fantasy dwarves.

There were some great lines from

Izaak Glynn

‘Eddie whipped his shot gun from his back and blasted their slimy little peanut sized brains out.

Matthew Illing

‘But as he got closer he realised that it wasn’t the glint from a real sapphire after all, but one of the eight automatic pistols of the most evil villain in Western history, Octo-puss.

Caroline Moratti

‘Tightening his boots, he started to descend into the desert, leaving a broken heart and all hope of civilisation behind him.

Overall this week's batch of stories often took a long time to get going. When you have only one thousand words you can’t spend eight hundred words on back story.

Writers also seemed to have difficulty with structure and tense. Read your stories aloud to help with tense. If it sounds odd then there is usually a problem with tense ... have you put a sentence in the past instead of the present? This can happen really easily just by changing one word, is to was or hasn't to hadn’t.

Westerns can have shootouts and punch ups but they are there for a reason. They must either carry the plot forward or develop the character by the choices made when faced with a life or death situation.

Violence to fill up space in the story or because there hasn’t been any action for a while, leaves the reader feeling battered and questioning what was the point of that scene. Too much violence in a story can have less of an impact because the reader switches off. Your duty as a writer is to grab your reader and keep them reading every line because they need to know what happens next ... not to have them skipping lines because it’s just another punch up or shootout.

Poor old Eddie had a rough ride from some of you, dying in the last few sentences of the story. Killing a character has to be thought out carefully. Does it complete the story in a satisfying way or raise the stakes of choice for remaining characters or leave the reader feeling cheated ... (but why and what happens next?).

This week's winner was Matthew Illing (Read Matthew's story on the winners page.)

Matthew wrote a complete story that had a satisfying end. Eddie returns home as a hero ... but he has a choice to make. Matthew, that sapphire must have been a magic one as the villain's death was very quick ... spend a bit more time on the climax of your story next time.

Mozey on down to read my Planet Fabo story...Western style.

Maureen Crisp

There and Back

Eddie bellied up to the ridge of the small hill and peered over the top, careful to make no sudden moves. He didn’t want to die before he had taken the first step.

The plains stretched in front of him, fifty leagues of scrubby tussock, unpredictable windstorms and a tribe of fearsome Suckerpunch spiders. He needed money to save the farm and this was the quickest way to get it, if he could stay alive. He would be rich if he could gather a herd of moonstock drive them to the saleyards and find a buyer.

Eddie slid back down the hill to get his pack off Sparky, his trusty quadruped. He pulled out the netting his mother had made and began to tie bunches of tussock all over it. When his tussock cloak was finished, he flung it over himself and Sparky. By pretending to be a windblown ball of tussock he could travel safely through the day hunting a sleeping herd. The moonstock were active at night...and so were the spiders. He would hole up at night avoiding the spiders and hopefully the fearsome outlaw Octo8.

After two weeks of drifting with the wind over the plains, Eddie finally found a small herd of moonstock grazing in a hidden gully. He dug into his pack for his secret weapon, salted peanuts. Carefully he tossed a handful of peanuts in front of the lead stock unit. Bait taken. He flung the peanuts in front of as many noses as he could. It was working! The moonstock milled around noisily casting this way and that looking for salted peanuts.

Eddie’s heart sank. Travelling with a noisy herd of moonstock was not going to help his chances of getting off the plains unseen. He flung the cloak around him and trailed along with the herd, every now and then throwing a handful of peanuts in front of them.

By nightfall Eddie was exhausted and he thought his arm would fall off. He carefully flung a few handfuls of nuts into a small gully and watched the moonstock stumble tiredly about looking for them. Eddie quickly strung a rope fence across the mouth of the gully and covered it with tussock. Then he settled down to wait out the long dangerous night.

Eddie woke up with a shiver. He could hear a rasping sound. Spiders were near. The sound was joined by another and another. Soon the night was filled with horrible noise. The Spiders had caught a prisoner.

Eddie eased out of his sleeping bag, covered himself with his tussock cloak and crept towards the sound. He knew he was endangering his life and all the money on the hoof he had in the gully but he hated the thought of any one in the clutches of the spiders.

He peered around a rock and saw a large circle of Suckerpunch Spiders surrounding a web bound prisoner. It was Octo8, wearing his famous sapphire belt. His tentacles were bound and he was about to be lunch.

Eddie thought fast. The reward money for Octo8 was more than he would get from the sale of the moonstock. While the spiders were occupied he could get the moonstock out of the area. Eddie raced back to the gully and saddled up Sparky. He pulled down the rope fence and flung peanuts in front of the herd.

Eddie ran Sparky around the dozing moonstock, whacking them on the rumps with his rope to get them moving. ‘Hi yah,’ he yelled. The moonstock stumbled out of the gully in a boiling mass. Eddie grinned, his plan was working. Eddie flung another handful of nuts. The moonstock ran towards them.

The Spiders heard the sound of charging feet and tried to get out of the way. Moonstock thundered through the camp. Eddie pulled away to one side. He flung handfuls of nuts into the seething mass of stock and spiders. When the spiders were totally confused, Eddie rode forward with his knife. Octo8 fainted. Two slashes later and Octo8 was a bundle hanging from his saddle bow. Eddie lit out, running Sparky straight for the hills.

Behind him the spiders tried to capture the rampaging moonstock. The moonstock ran after the disappearing peanuts. Then Eddie heard a rasping scream of rage. The spiders had noticed their packed lunch was gone. The hunt was on. Eddie out in front, the spiders and moonstock behind.

Sparky began to tire. The weight of Octo8 and the half sack of salted peanuts was too much for the trusty quadruped. Down a little gully Sparky stumbled, out the other end and off the side of a cliff.

‘Arrgh,’ yelled Eddie as he found himself and his steed falling through midair. A gust of wind sweeping up the cliff caught them, slowing their fall.

Behind him the following moonstock tumbled off the cliff also. The wind slowed their fall. The Suckerpunch spiders weren’t so lucky, being lighter they floated up with the wind disappearing into the dawn sky.

Sparky hit the ground. Eddie was flung out of the saddle. The moonstock tumbled about him but they were soon on their feet, hunting peanuts from the broken sack. Eddie limped towards Octo8. He was unconscious but not badly hurt.

Sparky scrambled up and stood trembling while Eddie untied Octo8. He dragged him into the shade of a cactuspear tree. The moonstock settled down. Eddie made a fire and began to fix up Octo8.

The fearsome Outlaw came to and stared at Eddie. ‘You saved me.’

‘Yep,’ said Eddie, fixing another splint to Octo8’s leg.

‘Are you going to let me go?’

‘I’ve got enough stock here to save the farm.’ Eddie limped over to Sparky with some cactus pears. While Sparky was munching, Eddie took off his saddle and limped back to stretch out in the shade. He would start for home in the evening.

When Eddie woke up, there was no sign of Octo8, only a belt of sapphires lying beside him.

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