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Hello, writers. I’m afraid things are still going downhill around here… My mental focus is a bit off, and the only thing I could come up with when I tried to think about WO was the thought that last week’s challenge showed that several WO regulars were fascinated by libraries.

Not much to go on, so with apologies, I reprise a WO from a couple years back, with the addition of Libraries.

One thing you might look for when you’re revising a manuscript is whether your characters are acting like reasonable people.

When a crisis arises, reasonable people don’t let themselves be distracted by petty annoyances and hostilities. Reasonable people work together to overcome adversity.

This seldom happens IRL, and it makes for very dull fiction.

If you really want to have fun writing, put two characters together who are bound to annoy each other. In fact, let’s try that now.

Remember the Callow Youth?

A callow youth (male or female) is the Chosen One who must obtain the sacred jewel of Togwogmagog in order to save the kingdom.
‘Course you do.

Tonight’s challenge:

There’s this library.

To find the map that leads to the swamp where dwelleth the transom alligator who guards the Least Grebe who knows the location where the Jewel was last seen, our Callow Youth must go to the library

(and there’s something kind of strange about this library, by the way)

and consult the most annoying librarian C.Y. could possibly imagine.

Try to limit yourself to 150 words.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I'm not crazy/I'm just a little unwell... (21+ / 0-)


    -9.0, -8.3 "Remember, a writer writes. Always." --Throw Momma from the Train

    by SensibleShoes on Thu Feb 14, 2013 at 10:23:31 AM PST

  •  Hope all is well, SS. (13+ / 0-)

    Can't play tonight, unfortunately. Just wanted to stop in and say hello.

  •  How may I not help you today? (11+ / 0-)
    Clarse cleared his throat again. Imploringly.

    The homunculus behind the imposing desk twitched slightly. Slit-pupiled eyes behind rimless lenses raised from the small pile of coins Clarse had deposited and focused on him. "The map you want is on the third tier of the fourth gallery in the locked cabinet. The altruscant behind you" - a scaled... hand descended on Clarse's right shoulder - "has the key and will escort you. I advise you not to trouble it in any way so close to feeding time."

    Clarse swallowed.

    The homunculus peered at the new library card Clarse had just completed. "Excellent. I see you were able to squeeze out enough of your blood to sign your name in full. You may go seek the map."

    "Seek?" Clarse ventured.

    "Ah yes. It seems we have several hundred maps to that swamp/alligator/grebe/jewel etc. etc. in that cabinet. At least one of them is accurate. We really do need to update the catalog. If you can determine which one it is, it would be most helpful of you to let us know. Good luck with your search and I remind you the Interminable Library closes for the day in one hour."

    The hand on Clarse's shoulder turned him gently to the right and pointed at a steep stair descending into darkness...

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Thu Feb 14, 2013 at 05:38:37 PM PST

  •  Hope things improve! (10+ / 0-)

    I'm sad I didn't make it through the pitch round of the Amazon Breakout Novel contest. I wasn't expecting to make it to far, but I would have REALLY liked a critic on my 3 chapter, which is in the excerpt, to see if someone can tell me why it's falling flat on its face. Ah well.

    The exercise made me think of my favored strategy in getting students to do work when I'm substituting. Pester them with helpfulness.

    And yes, it is more than 150 words. It's all the interruptions!

           Zing! The Insightful Librarian rolled by on her ladder, scrutinizing the books and scrolls.
        “Look quick, before she’s back,” hissed Whelk, shoving Ray to the opposite stack of books.
        “For what?”
        “Map. Through the Antiswamp.”
        “The hell-!” Ray cut off his protest as the librarian returned, sliding down the ladder in a flutter of robes waving several worn scrolls.
        “The Prophecies of Mountains and Seas,” she declared brightly, helpfully.
        Whelk glanced at them and shook his head.
        “These are separate- I need it about prophecies of both, in contrast or compliment.”
        “Ah, hmm. Rarely do those scholars come together. Is there a specific prophecy?”
        “The Togwogmagog Jewel,” Ray stated while Whelk winced.
        “Oh yes! Just arrived!” eagerly she zoomed off.
        “Hurry! Before she gets back,” Whelk hissed.
        “Need to take the map with us,” Whelk pointed to a sign clearly stating removal of library materials would result in organ removal, “She’s hovering over us like-“
        “Found it!” she returned on the other side, “Did you know that the Jewel isn’t properly a Jewel until it has procreated?”
        “How does a rock procreate?” Ray blinked innocently at her.
        “It’s fascinating! Be back in a poke. Have one with pictures.”
        “Would that be part of the reason we have to rescue Honra from that swamp, with transom trees, alligators and grouchy grebes?” hissed Ray.
        “That and I’ll be disowned if-“
        Ray stuck a hand over Whelk’s mouth as the librarian came back trailing a scroll of diagrams.
        “You’ll never take a rock for granite again!” she chirped.

    I am much too liberal to be a Democrat.

    by WiseFerret on Thu Feb 14, 2013 at 05:44:56 PM PST

  •  I am very sorry! (7+ / 0-)

    Sending loving thoughts your way!!

    Tara is dining out, tonight, so I am not sure if she will be by later, but she mentioned it last night and I thought I would share it.

    I am exhausted as always, but I will go try mine and be back in a bit.

    Join us at Bookflurries-Bookchat on Wednesday nights 8:00 PM EST

    by cfk on Thu Feb 14, 2013 at 05:49:17 PM PST

  •  "and the Least Grebe knows where the Jewel (9+ / 0-)

    was last seen," Persimma finished.  

    "Is that a library pencil?" the librarian asked Bunny Nesbit.

    Bunny Nesbit took a thoughtful bite of it.  "No."  

    "The map?" Persimma asked.

    The librarian held out a hand and snapped fingers.  "Card?"

    "I don't want to check it out," Persimma said.

    A pained sigh and an eye roll.  "ID?"  He snapped some more fingers.

    Persimma saw the sigh and raised the eye roll.  "Could you please direct us toward the reference section?  At least?  Just point.  You have plenty of fingers you're not using."

    The librarian produced two more fingers from his desk drawer and handed them to her.  "Suit yourself."

  •  Here's mine (9+ / 0-)

    The assignment:

    "There’s this library.

    To find the map that leads to the swamp where dwelleth the transom alligator who guards the Least Grebe who knows the location where the Jewel was last seen, our Callow Youth must go to the library

    (and there’s something kind of strange about this library, by the way)

    and consult the most annoying librarian C.Y. could possibly imagine.

    Try to limit yourself to 150 words."

    And my response:
    "Hello, I'd like to..."

    "Number please."

    "We're the only people in here."

    "That makes no difference. No library services without a number!" hissed the librarian.

    The youth said, "Very well! Where do I get a number?"

    "Shhh! This is a library, you know. As for the numbers, we are expecting a new set any day now."

    "Can't you make an exception?" said the youth.

    The librarian said sternly, "No exceptions! No exceptions at all."

    "B b but that makes no sense. And time is critical," said the youth.

    "No," said the librarian, "Time is an abstraction, not an actor. Therefore time is incapable of being critical."

    "Aha!" said the youth. "You just gave advice about wording, which is traditionally a library service. And to a numberless patron."

    "Did not!" she said, "That was a sarcastic rejoinder."

    The youth said, "Enough. Who is your supervisor?"

    "That would be Mr Ali Gator."



    Strange that a harp of thousand strings should keep in tune so long

    by jabney on Thu Feb 14, 2013 at 06:10:11 PM PST

  •  Sorry to hear you're not feeling well, Sensible (8+ / 0-)

    Hope whatever it is won't last long!

    "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

    by Diana in NoVa on Thu Feb 14, 2013 at 06:19:04 PM PST

  •  Mine...sorry, too many words as usual... (8+ / 0-)
    Jasper peeked into the forbidden map room.

    He could only see one shelf at a time.

    The map scrolls glowed.  Behind him the trees whispered.

    Find the map to the swamp and get out.  Easy.  Except there are hundreds of map scrolls.

    “I am here to help!”  

    Jasper jumped a foot in the air.  

    He looked around and saw no one.  

    “I am called the Map Rat,” said the voice and still Jasper saw no one.

    “Are you invisible?” Jasper asked.

    “No, you moron.  Open the lantern all the way and look at the third shelf on your left.”

    Jasper looked and saw a huge rat face peering back at him.  He swallowed.  Rats were not on his list of favorite animals.

    “Stop looking so idiotic,” the rat said.  “Tell me what you need.”

    “I need a map of the Forgettable Swamp because we keep going through it, but we always lose something and have to go back and it makes us forget where it is and so we need a map.”

    “How silly is that?” asked the rat.

    “Not to us.  We have been up to our knees in mud, attacked by swamp mosquitoes the size of bats, splashed by skunk cabbage water…”

    “I can tell that.” The rat sniffed.  “The Forgettable Swamp also moves around.  So that is why sometimes it has alligators and sometimes not.  It is in the place you least expect it.”

    “So, can you give me a map or not?”

    “Are you nuts?  The swamp moves.  What kind of map could there be?”

    “A magic map that spies on the swamp?”

    “You dunce!  If I had such a map, I would never part with it.”

    “Well, thanks.  But when we do find the swamp, we will tell the Transom Alligator how unhelpful you were,” Jasper said.

    “What part of ‘there is no magic map’, do you not get?” asked the rat.

    “The trees say you are lying,” Jasper said.  

    The rat looked around the map room.  His whiskers twitched.  Jasper smiled.  He doesn’t care about the alligator, but the trees are another thing.

    “Where do you least expect the swamp to be” asked the rat.

    “Here,” Jasper said.

    “Then, here is a map of the library.  Try room four on the river side.”

    “Thanks,” Jasper said, but one part of his mind that was less callow than the other was suspicious.  “Maybe he is just trying to get rid of you,” it said.  The trees murmured more loudly.  There was a rushing sound as if a river was in flood.  Ooze leaked down the aisle as he and Hitch moved closer to the swamp room.  

    Jasper thought about it.  He looked back at Hitch and said, “So, Hitch, do you want to open the door?”

    Join us at Bookflurries-Bookchat on Wednesday nights 8:00 PM EST

    by cfk on Thu Feb 14, 2013 at 06:20:14 PM PST

  •  In the map room at the Lewis library, it was... (8+ / 0-)

    ...sometimes remarked that the pipe breaking in Gehry's crappy mishapen library that looked sort of like a badly cut cheap zircon imitation of a jewel, whereupon centuries old maps purloined, whoops, I mean, "acquired" from around the world were suddenly drenched with the somewhat processed water of gooseshit laden canals, was nothing compared to a visit from that tired old incoherent sot who insisted on referring to himself as "The Callow Youth," mostly because of the way he drooled on the maps that horrid lutescent slime that only resembled saliva in the sense that spit resembles the leachates out of the mouths of rabid dogs.

    "Callow" maybe.  "Youth," um, not.   That old coot hadn't been a youth when Herbert Hoover was still complaining about Franklin Roosevelt's Lend-Lease deal with the British in their lonely stand against Nazi Germany.

    But there was nothing that the staff could do.   It turns out that the so called, "Callow," um, "Youth." was actually Winfield K. Dornier-Rutaman V, the direct descendant of that Winfield K. Dornier, the one who had made $12 billion dollars at the dawn of the twentieth century in the Cuban tobacco trade.

    His endowment meant that the reference librarian, Lucille Lane Lattotowicz had to put up forever with that poor excuse for a children's book hero - despite the fact that he never stopped smelling like a toilet boil full of cheap whiskey laden vomit - whenever he came in looking for a map.

    And here he came now.

    "Yeah...yeah...yeah...I know..." Dr. Lattotowicz said eyeing his spittle stained gut that hung over his spittle stained elastic pink pants..."map of the least Grebe swamp with all the transom alligator nests marked, same place it was last Sunday, and the Sunday before that, and the month of Sundays before that, drawer seven, cabinet 9."

    Thank god there wasn't a fucking scholar on the whole damn planet interested in opening that drawer and realizing that she'd long ago replaced the real contents with a treasure map from an Archie comic book from 1962...

    •  Was That the Issue Where Jughead... (8+ / 0-) a job mowing Mr Lodge's lawn but cut down his prized azelias  instead?



      Strange that a harp of thousand strings should keep in tune so long

      by jabney on Thu Feb 14, 2013 at 06:49:18 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  No, its the one where Reggie and Veronica... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        WiseFerret, jabney

        ...get busted for shoplifting in Cancun and end up in a Mexican jail with all the predictable complications that entails.

        It's the issue where - to raise bail and bribe money - they try to blackmail Betty with pictures that had been drawn by a 14-year-old from Stillwater, Kansas, who had pretty impressive artistic talent for his age, but was nonetheless experiencing a pubescent hormonal surge.

        The issue was quietly pulled from the shelves of course, before the comic book decency squad became aware of it, but not, apparently, from the shelves of the Firestone library at Princeton, which accounts for its eventual reemergence in the Lewis Library.

  •  Can't (9+ / 0-)

    I'm about halfway through Stephen King's The Library Policeman, and I am unable to consider anything else about libraries until I am done with it.  So I must beg off, with regrets.   Please feel better; that is an order. :-)

  •  This is such fun to read. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    WiseFerret, cfk

    Thanks, SS. I've noticed all the clever people come to your posts. Thanks!

  •  Star wars 1 (0+ / 0-)

    I don't usually cite movies -- partly because I seldom see them.
    There was one scene in the first Star-Wars flick which made the point about unreasonable people. Luke, and the pilot had just reached the princess. They were in great danger and running away.

    Then they get into an argument about who was in charge.
    "It's my quest."
    "But I'm more experienced than you are, and it's my ship were escaping towards."
    "But I'm a princess" and, somehow, a senator, roo.

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