Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Prompt: Bigfoot, person with a toothache, broken promise, wrong way

He moaned as he lay in the nest of soft leaves he had built over the fall, deep in the cave’s comforting darkness. His jaw was on fire, pain lancing from underneath his mouth along the side of his head to point behind his ear. He turned his head side to side, opened and closed his mouth, but nothing helped.

Is this what prey feels? He thought. Is this my end time? He had no words, no speech to voice his agony. Only instinct shaped by a life alone in the wilderness. Everything had an end time – plants, animals. He must too. He didn’t know it would hurt so much.

Help? He tried to frame his inchoate thoughts. Out there…help? He had always avoided the white animals who yelled and chased him. He did not want to be prey. But could they help him now? Help pain end time?

He groaned and rolled over in the next, climbing to his feet. Stumbling through the leaves, he hid in the darkness at the edge of the cave. He usually did not go out in the bright yellow light – that was when he saw the white animals. He clutched his hand to his jaw. It was hot to the touch, and moving it made him moan again as pain shot through his head. Help pain end time…he staggered out of the cave’s entrance, dropping his inner eyelid to shield his sensitive eyes from the intense yellow light…

Very short beginning...
...as I started, I thought it would be fascinating to try to get into the head of someone without a full command of speech. We talk about "internal monologues" - what would that be like for someone who didn't have a complex language system? Probably would require much more intensive world-building than I'm prepared to do for a brief sketch, but an intriguing idea...

Dogs in house

Time writing
~20 minutes, interrupted

February word count


  1. It's a very interesting idea, and a very large amount of work, I'd guess. You're going to run into the great contradiction, of course, of using words to convey the thoughts of someone who doesn't have a grasp of words.

    I think the easiest way to start is to imagine a person who speaks a foreign language being dropped off in a society they haven't the first clue about. Or maybe picture a creature you're more familiar with, like one of your dogs. Get it down in the vein of someone who doesn't have a way to communicate and then...like so many other things, you can refine it in rewrite. :)

  2. Writing report:
    Novel editing, revisit Ch22

    Time: ~40 min

  3. Yeah, it really is a tough task you've tried here! Already there's a bit of a bind, where how could someone without words think about having no words to convey his feelings...

    I get the sense it's not entirely lack of words you're imagining for the POV character, but instead limited vocabulary and grammar. Like the 'help pain end time' thoughts. I think that part works well. And it makes me think about how my toddler might be experiencing the world, as that is already more words in a row than she can manage :) Perhaps, as GB Crush suggests, try to relate it to something you know. Can you imagine a dog with the vocabulary of a toddler?

    Also, instead of stating 'no words', you could describe frustration at the inability to describe these new, strong sensations.