How do you write eloquently?

Specifics about craft, talent, technique, etc.
WilliamHadleyyy
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How do you write eloquently?

Postby WilliamHadleyyy » Sun Mar 24, 2019 8:39 am

Good morning, afternoon, evening or night, depending where you are in the world. The title says it all really; I want to write more eloquently. At the moment when I'm telling a story I feel like my sentences are thick bricks I'm chucking against windows, smashing them to get my point across. They aren't beautiful. A brick is a brick, I find myself relying on the same repetitive sentence structures over and over again as I write. So I want to learn how to expand my writing, writing more eloquently in the process.

Do you have any tips you found improved your style of writing drastically, or books, online classes? etc.

This is a snippet of my writing:
-
3am - Space was desolate of everything bar Mother Earth, Sanctuary floating eternally above her, and the feeling of the vast void. The temperature was cold enough to freeze a man solid before he could choke to death on empty lungs; and the thunder of Sanctuary’s carnivore engine was roaring thin as the great noise succumb to darkness, being swallowed whole by nothing and everything. It was lonely out there in space like most nights were. Quiet and heavy. Still and dispassionate. Humanity was on its last legs, paining, as vague memories buried deep inside slid to the forefront of one’s sleep; old ghosts, and other things better left forgotten in the caverns of time.

6am - Before he could open his eyes Marcus could already smell it. His morning smell. Unpleasant, but not as unpleasant as awakening. His brittle bones ached and his lack of energy stunted his movements as he unraveled himself from his sheets. He felt dusty and spent, mummified in dried piss.

Standing bent, he undressed himself of his soiled nightwear and stretched long before heading to his restroom naked. Age had made his urinary flow slow, but he was thankful that he could still empty the tank completely in one plunge. It gave him hope he wouldn’t be up every few hours, back at it.

Heavily fatigued, Marcus showered awakening his pores. ‘One of these days I’m going to purchase adult diapers. So curse my loins,’ he said emphatically. Then he pictured going to the store, queuing neatly, hiding his prize from sight. No doubt a young woman would be at the till, second generation likely in the prime of her life. Mid twenties or early thirties, blonde, flirty. Marcus’s cheeks flushed from the embarrassment of confronting such a woman, and he decided better against the idea. ‘Better to suffer alone than that,’ he thought.

6:30am - Marcus dried himself with a black towel, his body finally feeling lucidity, and he dressed himself in grey cotton overalls. The Fashion. The only fashion the past fifty years, not that Marcus was big into such things. Cotton’s easy to produce and kisses the skin on a rough morning, that’s all that mattered. The overall caressed Marcus as he dipped his arms and legs inside carefully. He stretched behind himself to zip up the zipper, and felt relieved when he managed to move it as far as it could go.

Breakfast was a Rocket Boal. Cereal. Sanctuary’s own off brand corn flakes, space themed for the kiddies growing up in the lonely old satellite halls. Marcus’s cereal was complimented by soy milk because there’s no cows in space, contradictory to popular rumour. As he spoon fed himself, milk trickled down his chin splashing on his kitchen counter. He looked around. Mess everywhere, it was too easy to let things go. Time to clean. He couldn’t abstain from changing the bedsheets any longer. Not to mention he hadn’t vacuumed in near two years. Not a big deal to some, he supposed. Dust doesn’t accumulate like it does on Mother Earth.

The movements of cleaning and vacuuming were soothing and meditative. The old dinosaur finally felt himself fully awake. The vacuum noise: the gentle thruuummmm, blocked out the silence that had been crippling the apartment. Marcus felt free for a short while. When he finished, his cleaning completely done with, he became once again ensnared in darkness. Sanctuary— the last remaining human colony in existence was at the end, a prison.

9:00am - Marcus sat down at a desk. His desk. Positioned across from his bed, the old wooden counter had a full view of the stars ceaselessly glowing outside. There is no day and night after all in space. From time to time, sitting alone at his desk Marcus saw wonders more impressive than anything visible or imaginable on Mother Earth’s surface. Among some were Godly cataclysmic explosions from millions of miles away, looking like small bursts of crimson light in deep space. The grand power seemingly insignificant. These rare events inspired him and made great articles for the Sanctuary Monthly. The news close and beyond. A magazine Marcus had been a senior writer and editor for, for close to a decade.

Twiddling his thumbs and staring into space, the stars glittered like they always had. A little comfort. Time passed fast as he did nothing involuntarily. Marcus heard a rattle against his front door. He was about to shout ‘come in,’ but it was mail delivery. An envelope passed through his letter box, landing bothered on the floor. It was plain white apart from a clean flowing script on the backside. ‘For Marcus’s eyes only,’ it read.

Having trouble bending over to pick it up, Marcus went on one knee. He knew the handwriting. He opened it carefully and read it out loud to himself.

Dear Marcus,

How’s age treating you? Well I hope. As I know you know next month’s magazine issue will celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of Sanctuary’s flight into orbit — May she hover over Mother Earth and protect us — We need some great articles for the occasion. Come up with a story, a bit of wisdom, anything so long as it’s written well and goes well with the anniversary theme of the coming edition. Sorry to drop the responsibility on you suddenly; but we will need your experience and help. I for see a lot of long nights ahead.

Looking forward to your expertise,
Yours Sincerely,
Your old friend and colleague,
Matthew.


‘Delightful,’ he said. And scrunched the letter up.
-

I feel like I use the name 'Marcus,' and the pronoun 'he' way too much in my writing, making for dull reading. However I don't know how to adapt and overcome this problem. Not to mention I've been using EXCESSIVE present participle's (words ending in ing.) When I read another writer's work I don't feel I'm reading the same thing over and over, if you get what I mean. I want to break away from this style of writing I've cornered myself into.

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disgruntledpeony
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Re: How do you write eloquently?

Postby disgruntledpeony » Sun Mar 24, 2019 11:48 am

Basic recommendations include: Read more. Write more. Edit what you've written. Read books about writing. Utilize a style guide when necessary. (The most important of all these steps is, in fact, the writing part. Practice, practice, practice.)
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Re: How do you write eloquently?

Postby TimE » Sun Mar 24, 2019 12:05 pm

The opening sentences are long - though that isn't necessarily a problem. Three of the first four use 'was' very early on. Dave mentions 'was' in one of his tips on writing - I think he says something along the lines of disliking seeing a number of was's in opening paras.
Was isn't wrong, but sometimes, particularly in consecutive sentences, you might consider different sentence constructions.

If you're not a member of a Writer's critique site, I suggest you take a look at a few. You can learn simply from reading critiques of the writing of others if you can't afford paid membership.
If you haven't already sign up to Dave's Writing Tips.
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Re: How do you write eloquently?

Postby ddonche » Sat Apr 06, 2019 9:47 am

I have this same exact problem. My writing doesn't flow, and I try to make things super poetic. So many people have told me my prose was clunky and I never understood what that meant. I started paying attention to what other professionals were saying. I think Elmore Leonard has a rule that goes If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it. I think you just have to contemplate on that for a bit. The other big thing I think might help you is to consider reading your stuff out loud. Chuck Palahniuk does this, and it helps your words flow. Many (most?) people when they read, they sound the words out in their head. They say it mentally. So if it flows well verbally, it will be easier to read. I think many people also praise Patrick Rothfuss for having this easy flow quality. If you want examples, look for books where people highly recommend the audiobook. While that's partly to do with the actor's voice and tone, it also has a lot to do with the words themselves. Best audio stuff for me, hands down, is John O'Donohue. He was an Irish poet and religious scholar (ex-priest maybe), and he voices all his own stuff. His accent makes it magical. You can find some of him on Youtube.
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orbivillein
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Re: How do you write eloquently?

Postby orbivillein » Tue Apr 09, 2019 9:20 am

Eloquence (noun): "1 : discourse marked by force and persuasiveness; also : the art or power of using such discourse 2 : the quality of forceful or persuasive expressiveness (Webster's 11th).

By force is meant emphatic expression and emphasis amplitude progression. By persuasiveness, for prose purposes, is meant emotional emphasis that persuades readers to share dramatic personas' emotional experiences. The general method entails tension's emotive, suspenseful, and curiosity arousal features. Specific techniques involve poetic equipment, both rhetoric instances and extended figures, for example, metaphor and allegory figures. Specific tension techniques involve setup, relief delay that increases force, and partial or complete tension relief. The tension rhetoric figure is auxesis: emotional force increase progression.

The sample of the original post contains some force progression, some eloquence. The progression starts slow due to the remove of an outsider narrator looks in and summarizes and explains back story, absent a focal insider persona, and the whole wanders drama directionless thereafter. Plus, Marcus is alone by himself and only a small amount and quality interacts dramatically with his situation. He's stuck in a figurative bathtub, contemplates his navel, and little, if any, meaningful occasion for his artful, dramatic antagonal, causal, tensional interactions, ACT.

The excerpt largely summary and explanation tells Marcus' low-magnitude dramatic situation. A next rewrite might consider more so Marcus' ACT forces that propel him into proactive action. What does Marcus want that is enough of a problem to satisfy? This is antagonism: want-problem complication, a congruent set of want and problem in every-which-a-way force and motivation direction contention. Conflict is a polar opposite of stakes risked forces in contention, causation; acceptance and rejection, for example. Emotional commentary and stimuli and response actions are tone: emotional-moral message attitude of a whole. Instance emotional attitudes are per dramatic instance.

Eloquent prose wants antagonism's complication motivation forces, causation's stakes risked conflict forces, and tone's extended and instance forceful emotional attitudes. Some artful attitude instances within the excerpt.

The excerpt's diary-like nature, journal, log, etc., remains in the narrator's distant outsider perspective and is emotionally bland. Mixed and inconsistent narrative point of view, too, narrator foremost and bumpy transitions to momentary viewpoint persona Marcus intrusions and back to narrator focus, opposite of a best practice: invisible narrator, focal persona perspective foremost. Traditional prose, though, focused on narrators' perspectives and is anymore deprecated in favor of third-person, psychic access limited to one viewpoint persona's received reflections, close narrative distance; and first-person's likewise perspectives.

The excerpt offers a glimpse of a conflict, a writer's struggles for publication success: acceptance and rejection in contention. From conflict a complication might derive. Might Marcus think he wants to be left alone? Yet the appeals of a solicited submission and his emotional rejection of it due to writer's block dreaded cripples show he's thrilled and amenable? He wants though admits it to himself not, refuses the solicitation at first; he is as much or more his own problematic adversary as any other? Also, might acceptance and rejection in contention have higher stakes: likewise, Marcus' continued acceptance or ultimate rejection from Sanctuary due to his news reports? Glorious drama and eloquence if so, albeit realized soon or later.

If that's the intent, and as is, is the one complication-conflict that most presents from what's given, the rest is pump primer misdirection, diversion, and distraction back story, injudicious and untimely. Eloquent prose narrows and focuses force and persuasion content progression.

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Re: How do you write eloquently?

Postby OldDarth » Tue Apr 09, 2019 12:10 pm

On the read more front - definitely read books by writers praised as such.

Also, read poetry. See how poets invoke strong images and emotions through careful word choice.

Eloquent writers, in my experience, write very tight, clean sentences in a way that makes the reader complete in their mind, images or ideas left unwritten by the writer.

To quote the late James Baldwin who said:

"You want to write a sentence as clean as a bone. That is the goal."

Simplicity is king.
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Re: How do you write eloquently?

Postby Corbin Maxwell » Tue Apr 09, 2019 1:57 pm

I believe that quite a few people who give writing advice are just regurgitating information they've read in writing books to show how much they know about writing. Each writer develops his own individual style based on years of practice and copying the styles of writers they admire. Each writer has his own tale as to how he or she comes to the table and gets the story written. Personally, I can tell you how I write, I can even show you; I can't tell you what works for me because it hasn't worked yet as I'm still working to get published.

The best advice I've ever gotten: Read, Write, Study, Persist.

Write because you enjoy putting sentences and paragraphs together, because you enjoy creating characters, and because you feel a sense of achievement when sending out a ms and possibly receiving that rejection notice.

You want to write eloquently? So I'd have to ask what's your idea of writing eloquently? Who is your example? Faulkner, Balzac, Dickens, McCarthy, Hemingway (probably not), any of the 19th Century Russian Writers, James Joyce, John Steinbeck. Do you read great writers, or commercial crap?

Excerpts from one of my favorite writers:

The sharp and brittle crack and clatter of its weathered and ungreased wood and metal is slow and terrific: a series of dry sluggish reports carrying for a half mile across the hot still pinewiney silence of the August afternoon.


They moved rapidly on between the close walls of impenetrable cane-stalks which gave a sort of blondness to the twilight and possessed something of that oppression, that lack of room to breathe in, which the walls of his house had had. But this time, instead of fleeing it, he stopped and raised the jug and drew the cob stopper from the fierce duskreek of uncured alcohol and drank, gulping the liquid solid and cold as ice water, without either taste or heat until he lowered the jug and the air got in.
For there is death in the sound of it, and a glamorous fatality, like silver pennons downrushing at sunset, or a dying fall of horns along the road to Ronceveaux.




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Re: How do you write eloquently?

Postby ddonche » Tue Apr 09, 2019 8:49 pm

Corbin Maxwell wrote:
Excerpts from one of my favorite writers:

The sharp and brittle crack and clatter of its weathered and ungreased wood and metal is slow and terrific: a series of dry sluggish reports carrying for a half mile across the hot still pinewiney silence of the August afternoon.


They moved rapidly on between the close walls of impenetrable cane-stalks which gave a sort of blondness to the twilight and possessed something of that oppression, that lack of room to breathe in, which the walls of his house had had. But this time, instead of fleeing it, he stopped and raised the jug and drew the cob stopper from the fierce duskreek of uncured alcohol and drank, gulping the liquid solid and cold as ice water, without either taste or heat until he lowered the jug and the air got in.


Who wrote that? Have you ever read Blood Meridian, by Cormac McCarthy? Or The Road?
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Corbin Maxwell
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Re: How do you write eloquently?

Postby Corbin Maxwell » Wed Apr 10, 2019 10:56 am

Those excerpts are Faulkner. I’ve read Blood Meridian about 50 times. The Road about a dozen.
For there is death in the sound of it, and a glamorous fatality, like silver pennons downrushing at sunset, or a dying fall of horns along the road to Ronceveaux.




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Re: How do you write eloquently?

Postby orbivillein » Wed Apr 10, 2019 11:07 am

William Faulkner, Light in August, 1932, and "Pantaloon in Black," Go Down, Moses, 1942, seven interrelated short stories, both Random House.

Read all of Cormac McCarthy's novels. I favor No Country for Old Men, 2005.

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Re: How do you write eloquently?

Postby Corbin Maxwell » Wed Apr 10, 2019 11:13 am

I always carry a little bit of Faulkner around with me.
For there is death in the sound of it, and a glamorous fatality, like silver pennons downrushing at sunset, or a dying fall of horns along the road to Ronceveaux.




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Re: How do you write eloquently?

Postby Corbin Maxwell » Wed Apr 10, 2019 11:18 am

I always liked to hear about the old timers. Never missed a chance to do so.
For there is death in the sound of it, and a glamorous fatality, like silver pennons downrushing at sunset, or a dying fall of horns along the road to Ronceveaux.




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Re: How do you write eloquently?

Postby Corbin Maxwell » Fri Apr 12, 2019 2:43 pm

Anybody want to post writing snippets as practice towards eloquence, or whatever you're going for.

So I'll ante up with this:

For I once saw with my own eyes,

Wind-scorched plains running flat to the edge of a wasted land where the shattered world melts against a vacant sky. The cities stand dark and silent as cinder ash, quietly grieving their crucified souls. And the nights each one more cold than the night before and each one passing away in the stillness the days and the years of it without cease.
On the horizon the silhouettes of men walking, their legs and torsos bare to the failing daylight and their bodies hard and thin like the hunting spears in their fists. Beards sprouted in young manhood now hang low in antiquity. And the gray whiskers blow roughly in the prairie wind which still carries rumors of spring—of memory and desire, of April storms coming over the plains—and their hair falls waistward in thick greasy locks like the dead roots of upturned trees. Behind them their women likewise tramp the thorny ground. At their breasts the tribe’s children cling. They are traveling south for the winter.
For there is death in the sound of it, and a glamorous fatality, like silver pennons downrushing at sunset, or a dying fall of horns along the road to Ronceveaux.




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Re: How do you write eloquently?

Postby disgruntledpeony » Fri Apr 12, 2019 2:47 pm

Corbin Maxwell wrote:Anybody want to post writing snippets as practice towards eloquence, or whatever you're going for.

Keep in mind, anything posted here can't be used in WotF stories without potentially disqualifying you.
If a person offend you, and you are in doubt as to whether it was intentional or not, do not resort to extreme measures; simply watch your chance and hit him with a brick. ~ Mark Twain

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Re: How do you write eloquently?

Postby Corbin Maxwell » Fri Apr 12, 2019 3:02 pm

Well, a person can post old stuff or just write something new. It's supposed to be for practice. So give it a shot.
For there is death in the sound of it, and a glamorous fatality, like silver pennons downrushing at sunset, or a dying fall of horns along the road to Ronceveaux.




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orbivillein
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Re: How do you write eloquently?

Postby orbivillein » Fri Apr 12, 2019 3:19 pm

  Angry girl on fire, she fumed over the brim out of the O'Rickie's Tavern there to 10th and Live Oak Street.
    Crackholes.
    Wasn't that drunk.
  Next to Susie's Cakes and Sweet Dreams.
    Big fat dream sick lies.
  The poodlehead taxi driver parked at the curb said he didn't drive drunks. "No pukes in this cab." His cell phone played Flight of the Busybody Bumblebees.
    Mozart? Beethoven?
    Purple lips. Tangerine eye shadow.
    No, stupid, that's streetlight on his face.
  He raced the lousy soccer mom van off.
    Prick.
    Never puked my whole life.
  "Holmes Limousine? "Yeah, hello. How's your night going? Mine sucks. O'Rickie's bartender said I wasn't minding my business. They kicked me out before last call. Can you send me a taxi? There was one right here a second ago. He wouldn't take me home. The car number? Forty-two? I think it's a Chevy. You should fire him. He's not one of yours? I don't know. Twenty minutes? Crap. It's cold out. Hurry up, please."
    Twenty minutes means an hour.
    Or more. Hell.
    Your Volvo wagon's in the lot.
    Did I leave that peach cashmere on the backseat?
    You're not gonna drive.
    Yeah, go look.
    Why is the car colder than outside?
    Start it up. Some heat while I wait.
    I'm doing the right thing.
    That's better.
    Should sit in the backseat in case.
    Lock the doors.
    Here's the sweater.
  She'd dozed off. Something tapped on the glass.
    Someone.
    A cop.
Last edited by orbivillein on Fri Apr 12, 2019 3:30 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: How do you write eloquently?

Postby Corbin Maxwell » Fri Apr 12, 2019 3:25 pm

Yours kind of reminds me of Joyce's Ulysses.
For there is death in the sound of it, and a glamorous fatality, like silver pennons downrushing at sunset, or a dying fall of horns along the road to Ronceveaux.




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Re: How do you write eloquently?

Postby Corbin Maxwell » Fri Apr 12, 2019 3:27 pm

And I'll raise you the first paragraph of my next project:

Grissel Farr stood with his face pressed against the glass and his reflection pressed against his face. In the window played the image of coal smoke rising from a factory miles behind him. Past the factory—where hills like skinned buffalo stretched bare and woodless across the horizon—stood the town and the county jail and the sheriff. Stood the coal mines where hard labor did its time. Grissel gripped the door knob and pushed the mechanism once around. He felt the door go loose in its moorings. Then he saw the placard taped to the inside of the window. NO COONS ALLOWED. And he almost let the door slip closed and almost turned his boots around the way he’d come. But he was thirsty. Hell, the whole country was thirsty.
For there is death in the sound of it, and a glamorous fatality, like silver pennons downrushing at sunset, or a dying fall of horns along the road to Ronceveaux.




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Re: How do you write eloquently?

Postby orbivillein » Fri Apr 12, 2019 3:33 pm

Your first -- "Ozmandias," Percy Bysshe Shelley, Dame Mary Shelley's spouse.

Your second -- "Hills Like White Elephants," Ernest Hemingway.
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Re: How do you write eloquently?

Postby disgruntledpeony » Fri Apr 12, 2019 3:38 pm

Corbin Maxwell wrote:Well, a person can post old stuff or just write something new. It's supposed to be for practice. So give it a shot.

That's fair. I just didn't want a newbie making a mistake or something. Things like that have happened before. I'll take a crack at something later, maybe. (Babies make finding time to really write hard. wotf019 )
If a person offend you, and you are in doubt as to whether it was intentional or not, do not resort to extreme measures; simply watch your chance and hit him with a brick. ~ Mark Twain

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Re: How do you write eloquently?

Postby Corbin Maxwell » Fri Apr 12, 2019 3:46 pm

Babies make everything harder.

I haven’t entered the contest in years. But maybe this year.
For there is death in the sound of it, and a glamorous fatality, like silver pennons downrushing at sunset, or a dying fall of horns along the road to Ronceveaux.




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Re: How do you write eloquently?

Postby ddonche » Fri Apr 12, 2019 8:06 pm

The sun, low-hung and slurred beneath a haze of grey clouds. It remits no heat, only a disc of dim light. A retinue of hooves kneads the barren dirtscape, those without brush boots chided raw from catsclaw and grimthorn and nettle. The riders, twelve in number, all bear the red mark of the Crimson. They sit tense in their saddles, harassed by the biting wind, clutching their reins in hands wrapped in goatskinned gloves that offer little solace from the cold. Creak of leather tack, muffled against the stronger groan of the wind.

A large swath of the Verges laid out before them in all directions, pitched under a thin film of snow like the settle of dust coughed out from a volcano. White plumes of breath escape from the nostrils of each beast, only to be violently carted off by the wind like field mice caught in swooping talons. They ride single file down a narrow break in the shelf leading down into the bed of a dead creek. The banks are not high enough to offer any solace from the wind. They try to seek refuge in fur and wool-lined hoods pulled tighter. Spurred boots filled with numb toes shift in the stirrups to urge more blood flow. Above them the one they call Ramp scrutinizes the horizon for anything that moves, which would elicit a response from the company by way of closer inspection. It is a half day's ride to Listhaven, but they'll make the Lost Road within a handful of hours, where there will be more activity to slake their thirst for villainy.

Ramp sweeps the far with his scope. He looks like he hates being on higher ground from the rest of them, catching most of the wind. His horse fidgets and he tries to keep the scope stayed.

"Anything?" Juke peers up at Ramp with hopeful, blinking eyes.

Grim smacks him on the arm. "Ain't nobody out here, stupid. It's too damned cold. It's what I been saying this whole time."

"We're out here," Juke replies, then chucks his gaze back to the scout.

"That's cause we're all a bunch of dumbshits. This is like trying to hunt a deer during a thunderstorm. The deer hide. Right now all the smart people is inside next to a fire keeping their toes from falling off."

"If you didn't want to be out here then why'd you come?"

Grim brushes at the icicles in his beard with his glove. "What else was I supposed to do? I was told there would be money and fun. I ain't seen neither." He glances at Mister Thorn as he says this. Thorn isn't paying any attention.

He does get the attention of Blink, however. Thorn's deputy.

The others remain separate from the conversation. Sometimes two idiots arguing is the only excitement for hours.
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