Just for fun—rooted this brief excerpt out to illustrate a discussion amongst writers about endings, and I thought y’all might enjoy it.
(The subject was Endings that make the reader want to go on to the next chapter. Basically (I think), that kind of temporary ending is usually either a cliff-hanger type (even a tiny cliff-hanger will do), or a “resting” ending—where Things have been Happening, and you want everyone to be able to stop for a moment and breathe. But there is another kind, that I call “jacks”—in which you scatter a number of small, shiny objects around and cause the reader to want to pick them up. So I was looking for a “jacks” ending to a brief scene, and found this one. Hope you enjoy it!)
RAYMOND—The Chieftains’ Tent
I passed quietly behind the Chieftains’ Tent and paused to look round the edge, down the hill. Was the blue tent moving, or was it only the fire playing on the smooth hide? A long, slender arm suddenly shot out and pulled the hide fully across the entrance.
I sighed, but stood there, watching even though there was nothing to see. It got darker, though, and the blue tent faded into the night. No point in standing here listening to the noises in the tent—but before I could leave, someone called me.
This had happened all my life. Echoes in my ear, sounds coming out of the air. Sometimes words. Now and then, my name. I didn’t realize that not everyone heard this kind of thing, but I found out quickly when I mentioned it to Ergon, who punched me in the stomach, cuffed my ear and told me to shut up.
I shrugged and slipped into the Chieftains’ Tent. If anyone there wanted me, it would most likely be my father.
Toyo was sitting on a auroch’s hide, supposedly tending the firepot but actually dozing, sitting up. He felt the draft when I came in, though, and his head jerked up, turning round.
“Oh, it’s you.” He yawned hugely and stretched, then scrambled to his feet. “I’m going for a piss, then. Mind the fire,” he added automatically, though I had already bent to take some twigs from the pile by the hearth.
The hide dropped heavily behind him, and the tiny flame of the firepot took alarm and struggled wildly.
“It’s all right,” I said to it, and soothed it with a fragrant pine twig. “Here, see? I’m here. It’s all right.”
The fire heard me and brightened, licking delicately at the twig, then taking hold all at once, flaring and gnawing at the bark.
The glow made a tiny shine on the chieftains’ sollens. There were five, standing shoulder to shoulder, set on a big flat hearth-stone to keep them from the damp, even though the baskets were woven tight and smeared with pitch.
There were five: [names]. Teo was my father and I bowed and touched my forehead gently to his sollen. There was a sense of his warmth, quite separate from the warm patch the fire made, but I waited for some time and nothing more happened. He hadn’t called me.
I straightened up, and looked at the other sollens. They all looked the same, bar the slight variations in the weaving, but they didn’t feel the same. I reached out and passed my palm slowly over the tops of the row.
[So, what do you think? Would you go on reading? <g>]
To read more about how I do my work, plus advice for new writers, please visit:
And thank you to the Kelvingrove Museum in Glasgow for the photo of some of their petrospheres! (From Wikimedia— Attribution :By Johnbod. Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=37283607)
This excerpt was also posted on my official facebook page on March 18, 2023.
Copyright © by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.