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A writing prompt

Posted in Characters, and Plot

I was just cruising through book ads in my email, and came across this one (names X'd, since the identity of author/title are not relevant):

Bxxxxx is destined from birth to become a warrior, despite his farmer’s life. But when the Hillmen kill his family and annihilate his clan, he now has the opportunity to avenge those who he loved.

Bxxxxx must survive endless hordes of invading Hillmen and magic-wielding sidhe, aided by only a band of shifty mercenaries, and an ancient bronze sword.

Failure means his family and clan go unavenged. Victory will bring glory to Bxxxxx and his ancestors.

So, bog-standard sort of fantasy, and nothing wrong with that. It's just that I was in a hurry going through my morning emails (and I'm not getting any younger) and misread it, and was startled by the mistake into a reread.

I read:

“a band of shifty mercenaries, and an ancient bronze sword”


“a band of mercenaries, and a shifty bronze sword.”

Wow! Now that's a lot more intriguing. Not just an intelligent sword, but one that clearly has its own motivations and will, and probably an unreliable relationship with Bxxxxx.

In fact, I wonder if the sword is a companion for Bxxxxx or just a foil (sorry), or if instead the sword is really the hero, using Bxxxxx to achieve its aims.

Or, depending on the sketchy grammar in the ad (“who” vs “whom”), maybe the sword isn't morally dubious — maybe it actually shifts its form…

The possibilities spiral out from there, don't they? And they all seem like a potential improvement.

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