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Climbing the Tree of Life


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#1 Offline Nuile the Paracosmic Tulpa

Nuile the Paracosmic Tulpa
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Posted Mar 11 2013 - 10:24 PM

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"Let's sit on this one," said Hobbes.

 

Calvin demurred, "Are you kidding? This is only the first branch! Let's climb higher."

 

"I don't know. The next one is pretty far up and some of them look dead. They could break."

 

"What are you, a sissy?" Calvin was already reaching for the next branch. "It's a metaphor for life, Hobbes. It's always about reaching for the next branch. Even when it's too far you have to keep going anyway. Because if you keep trying (gimme a boost, will you?) and never give up (almost there) no matter how hard it seems (just a bit farther)--you'll--make it!" With a puff, he heaved himself on top of the bough.

 

"See?" he panted. "Just--a matter--of persistence. But there's never any time to rest. Because if you stop moving to pat yourself on the back, you'll fall behind."

 

"Falling," Hobbes observed wisely, glancing downward, "does come to mind, yes."

 

"Sometimes it's easy," Calvin went on, stepping lightly up a series of small branches. "Sometimes you have to take--risks." He jumped, landing roughly on the next branch. "You have to make your way carefully, but you can't spend too much time making decisions. Sometimes it's obvious which way to go if you just have the sense to see it." He stepped to a lower branch to better reach a higher one. He pulled himself up with ease.

 

He paused to eye the next branch. It grew no leaves and the bark was crusty and brittle, crumbling away in segments.

 

"It looks dead," Hobbes warned. "It might be dangerous."

"Life can be dangerous," said Calvin. "You just have to accept that. Caution is necessary but you can't waste time with it. And even when the risks are there"--he set a foot gingerly upon the decayed limb--"you can't stop. You just have to be brave."

 

He put his full weight on the branch.

 

Creak--

 

"You have to think fast--"

 

Creeeeaaaak--

 

"And move faster."

 

Calvin sprang to a firmer branch higher up.

 

Crack!

 

The dead limb snapped and plummeted to earth.

 

"As long as you know the risks, you can usually avoid them," Calvin went on, gazing down at the fate that had nearly been his. "But the important thing is to move forward with the confidence to face whatever comes your way."

 

Suddenly there came a sound from somewhere nearby. Something large was moving through the undergrowth of the forest below.

 

"What is that?" said Calvin.

 

"Whatever it is," said Hobbes, "it's big."

 

"Do you think it's a bear?"

 

A high, shrill voice rang in the air. "Calvin!"

 

"What a relief!" Hobbes gasped. "It's not a bear, it's just your Mom."

 

"That's worse," I moaned.

 

She emerged into the clearing beneath the tree and peered up into the tree. "Calvin! What are you doing? I don't want you up that tree."

 

"Why not?" Calvin protested.

 

"Some of the branches are dead and they might break. Come on down."

 

"I told you," said Hobbes with a prideful raspberry.

 

His mother marched the pair home, leaving them to find other entertainment. A ladder in the garage suited their inclinations. When they erected it in the yard and perched atop it, however, they were doomed to disappointment.

 

"Pathetic," Calvin griped. "It's like sitting on a highchair."

 

"I admit," said Hobbes, "this isn't quite the same, is it?"

 

Calvin said bitterly, "Some people find confidence in running at the slightest sign of danger."

 

"At least we won't fall and break our necks."

 

Calvin wasn't listening as he became absorbed in examining the ladder. "Does this unfold into one long, straight ladder?"

 

Hobbes looked. "I think so. Why?"

 

A wide smile came across Calvin's lips. He pointed toward his house and the roof above it. "I think I see new heights waiting for us, Hobbes ol' buddy." 

 

 

[color=rgb(0,128,0);]Sincerely, Nuile: Lunatic Wordsmith :smilemirunu:[/color]


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#2 Offline Zaxvo

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Posted Jun 18 2013 - 12:54 PM

Climbing the tree of lifeHey, its Zaxvo, from the SSCC. Your story has been selected for a free review.I have to say, you do a lot of things right here. In particular, I want to highlight Calvins first long bit of dialogue, beginning with Its a metaphor, and ending with youll fall behind.That there is a perfect example of showing, not telling. That classic principle of good storytelling. You accept that your readers are smart enough to put things into context (yes hes climbing a tree, yes itll take some effort) that you dont need to hammer that point home with description: your dialogue is all the proof you need.I would argue that you dont even need the phrase, With a puff, because the dialogue renders that phrase redundant and pointless.But regardless, your dialogue -- not just the words they say, but how you write those words -- is pitch perfect.I also want to pause to marvel at the fact that this is one of a few stories that unabashedly admit to having a point to get across, shove that point in the readers face, and still not be boring or high-minded or heavy handed. Conveying that point is, in this case, as simple as stating it, and yet where that comes off as dull or arrogant in other stories, here it works. And it works well.Finally, I love the ending. Its everything a good ending should be: an actual conclusion to the tale, a reinforcement of the theme of the story, and its funny, too. And it promises more adventures to come.Overall, this is an excellent adaptation of a comic strip. A story with a message and yet it doesnt suffer for that, nor does that message waver in its presentation. Top marks.Oh, and on a side note, I love the strip in your sig.
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