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The Great Shnark. Ch 1. the Guardian

by Shnarkle 

Posted: 08 September 2009
Word Count: 998
Summary: Entered as "first chapter in a children's book" limited to 1000 words. This will not be the final draft but gives you an idea how it will look but with a bit of character description

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The Guardian

It was the Great Shnark’s 250th birthday; and he was not very happy. At all. As a Shnarklebark he was an important member of the community, and as such was expected to throw a lavish party for everyone. As far as the Shnark was concerned a large party like the one he’d arranged consisted of receiving a mountain of the cheapest, rubbishy presents, whilst the giver of the presents made sure that they had drunk and eaten so much free food and drink that they were either as sick as a skunk or completely bloated. In most cases both.
He had laid on a most impressive bash in the big clearing deep in the Old Forest, and was on his way up the grassy hill behind his mansion towards the Old Forest Road.
The Old Forest was called the Old Forest because it was, indeed, an old forest, and as such was heavily overgrown with moss, lichens and creepers. The only manageable way through was via the broad Old Forest Road.
As he approached, the Shnark could see a gaggle of creatures forming a disorderly queue at the road’s entrance where Grimping Grop Grap, the self styled Sherriff and guardian of the forest was causing mayhem, and no small amount of bad temper. He didn’t act in any official capacity; he just wanted to feel important. He stood barring the road’s entrance, holding a long pole upright in his left hand. A large white metal circle was attached to the top of the pole, and written across it in large red letters was the word SPOT!
“Stop!” intoned Grimping Grop Grap at the creature at the head of the queue. “As guardian of the forest I must ask you some security questions before I allow you to enter the road.” Puffing himself up to his full height of self-importance and consulting a clipboard he asked in his most withering voice, “Name?”
“Gargleflange.” said Gargleflange.
“Occupation?” Grimping Grop Grap almost went cross eyed he was looking so far down his nose at Gargleflange.
“Pudfuddler.” said Gargleflange.
“Hmm,” remarked Grimping Grop Grap unconvinced, but noting it on his clipboard anyway. “Final question; eye colour?” which was a stupid question because everybody’s eyes were blue.
“Blue.” said Gargleflange.
“You may pass.” said Grimping Grop Grap in his most officious voice as he stood aside to let Gargleflange set off down the road into the forest.
Next in line was Burblesquat; and he was not in a mood to be trifled with.
“SPOT?” he asked scathingly, pointing at Grimping Grop Grap’s sign.
“It says STOP!” replied Grimping Grop Grap haughtily.
“No it doesn’t.” argued Burblesquat.
“Yes it does,” said Grimping Grop Grap heatedly, “I should know, I wrote it.”
Burblesquat turned to address the gathering crowd, “What does his stupid sign say, everybody?”
“SPOT!” they all chorused.
In a fit of anger Grimping Grop Grap produced a red crayon, crossed out the word SPOT! and to gales of laughter from the crowd wrote SOPT! underneath.
“There, now then; name?” he bellowed into Burblesquat’s face.
“You know my name you idiot, it’s Burblesquat.” spat Burblesquat.
“Is that Mr or Mrs?” enquired Grimping Grop Grap with a raised eyebrow.
“Don’t push your luck.” glowered Burblesquat menacingly. Grimping Grop Grap knew full well who Burblesquat was as he’d been to school with him for years. However, there was bad blood between them because at school Grimping Grop Grap had had the biggest nose in the entire school, and that always got the girls. However, suddenly, in 11th grade Burblesquat’s nose had ballooned out of all proportion, and he had stolen all the girls off Grimping Grop Grap. Now it was pay back time.
“I need to ask you some security questions.” harrumphed Grimping Grop Grap.
“Get on with it.” said Burblesquat testily.
“What,” said Grimping Grop Grap with a gleam in his eye, “is the first law of thermodynamics?”
“What?!” exploded Burblesquat. “What are you talking about you numbskull, I’m here to go to the Shnark’s party, not listen to your stupidity; get out of my way?”
“You cannot pass,” roared Grimping Grop Grap, “if you can not answer the security question, and I must warn you that I am trained in the Grop Grap Grip, the Grop Grap art of self defence.”
“Are you telling me,” raged Burblesquat, “That if I don’t answer that ridiculous question that absolutely nobody knows the answer to I can’t enter the forest?”
“Precisely so.” Confirmed Grimping Grop Grap gleefully, feeling his moment of triumph had come.
“OK then,” said Burblesquat in a small, defeated voice, “I’d better go home all alone then.” And he began to turn away from the entrance to the forest. Then he stopped and placed a thoughtful finger to the corner of his mouth, and said, “Wait a minute though; what was that I read on the back of an old crisp packet yesterday? Ah yes, I remember. The increase in the internal energy of a system is equal to the amount of energy added by heating the system, minus the amount lost as a result of the work done by the system on its surroundings. Ha! Fool, got you!” Burblesquat started doing a victory dance and snapped his fingers in Grimping Grop Grap’s face.
Grimping Grop Grap was visibly stunned at Burblesquat’s correct answer, and was struggling to think clearly as the crowd began chanting, “Burble, Burble!”
In a last ditch throw of the dice Grimping Grop Grap demanded, “Eye colour?”
“Blue, you twit.” smirked Burblesquat.
“Wrong!” screamed Grimping Grop Grap victoriously, “They’re grey!”
“That’s it!” snapped Burblesquat, “I’ve had enough of your nonsense; of course they’re blue, I should know I look at them in the mirror every morning, now get out of my way!”
There followed a colossal “Whump!” as Burblesquat knocked Grimping Grop Grap flying, and walking over him, strode off down the Old Forest Road to the cheers of, “There’s only one Burblesquat!” from the crowd.


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Comments by other Members

Issy at 12:18 on 08 September 2009  Report this post
This had me chortling. I have no idea what's going on, except that there's a party in the offing that everyone's trying to get to and that the Shnark didn't want to give the party anyway, but what the heck, it's hilarious and I was hanging on every word.

Can't imagine why it didn't get into the competition leaders - I bet it was up there somewhere, unless a very serious minded competition.

Give us more Nick!

Freebird at 13:31 on 08 September 2009  Report this post
How do you think of such brilliant names? It reminds me of Spike Milligan

Ben Yezir at 13:44 on 08 September 2009  Report this post
You raise some very interesting questions, particularly about character description. You are also right in point out that you are not doing it the ‘normal’ way, but there isn’t anything wrong with that. Some writers are able to pull of stuff that would kill others. I agree with the other comments here, just do what feels right.

This is inspired stuff, very different, I see Spike Milligan’s name mentioned which is interesting I as was thinking The Goons, with Harry Seacome playing Gargleflange and Milligan as The Shnark!

My only concern is that the sketch show quality of passages I have read may not work as well stretched over a 40,000 or 60,000 word book.

More please!

Ben Yezir

ShellyH at 13:51 on 08 September 2009  Report this post
This was brilliant, so funny. I can see this as a tv sketch. Great names too.

SusieL at 13:46 on 12 September 2009  Report this post
Humour, so I heard told at a writer's conference recently, is one of the hardest genres to write, and certainly within children's fiction, much sought after. As ever, Shnarkle, you write with wit and, well, utter barminess! This is excellent. I agree with Ben's comment about wondering how it would work over the course of a full-size book - but it can be done, so I wait for you to show us how! The names are wonderful, and when reading aloud, are absolute tongue-twisters. What age are you pitching this at?

Shnarkle at 00:32 on 13 September 2009  Report this post
Many thanks to you all.

To be honest I was a bit nervous about posting the first chapter as I felt it was a tad weak. I'd limited it to 1000 words to fit in with the rules of a "first chapter" competition, but didn't have the confidence to enter it. Having read all your positive comments I am now kicking myself.

As mentioned elsewhere, I'm pitching this at 12 year olds.

I understand the comments regarding whether the skit type of presentation could be stretched to a whole book. In reality the work is split into several scenes, separated by oases of sanity to give the reader a breather if you like from the surrounding mayhem.

I am so encouraged by you guys, and joining this site was by far the best move I've made. As I've said elsewhere, I am a complete novice at this, and up until very recently still didn't really know whether I had something viable, or was wasting my time writing utter drivel.

I am learning a great deal (plus having an enormous hoot) reading other works and closely following the comments in the forum.

You have all given me a great deal of confidence; the down side being that very soon I shall inflict another chapter upon you, which is currently being rewritten from it's very early beginnings.

Watch this space.

Pat M at 17:01 on 14 September 2009  Report this post
You should have entered it in the competition definitely. It's so totally unique and really funny. Would it be an illustrated book?!! I don't understand it but I love it!


Shnarkle at 17:37 on 14 September 2009  Report this post

The worrying thing is that I don't understand what's going on either!

As to illustration; I am undecided, it's aimed at 12 year olds, do they require illustrations? haven't a clue.


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