Shade Redux

I was twelve when I chose my name: Shade. Shade, with all that it implies: the sheltering darkness of the forest in the heat of the summer; the shadow cast by a lone tree or a tall tower in the moonlight; the restless spirit of one whose time came too soon.

Before I named myself, my father called me Daughter, or in moments of tenderness, My Heart, and he called my brother simply Lad. Most of the townspeople knew us as Acorn and Little Oak. Lily – well, everyone called her Lily right from the start, and she never did choose a true-name of her own, but accepted the designation chosen for her and grew into it.

A hunter and a wanderer, my brother called himself Trace, and it is true that he never lost his way no matter how narrow the track or how faint the trail. He understood his path from childhood, and moved through life with the self-assurance that comes with such fundamental awareness of one’s self and one’s place in the world. I suspect that my brother chose his true-name deliberately, with careful forethought and exploration of hidden meanings. I am certain that if you were to go to North Forest today, his footsteps would still mark the trails he loved to walk.

If I had known then what I knew now – if I could have seen deep enough into the murky future – I wonder what name I might have chosen? A brighter true-name would surely have led me to a different place; a softer one may have brought me to a more serene, more comfortable life. But I chose Shade, and on the day I chose my name, my name chose me.

Confession: I posted this today in response to the Trifecta Writing Challenge prompt, but it is not a new piece. Some of you may even have read it before (though not for Trifecta). I hemmed and hawed for a while, debating whether or not to use it, whether this was cheating, but I opted to post it because I think it really gets at the meaning of this week’s word:

1: a trodden way
2: a track specially constructed for a particular use
3a : course, route
b : a way of life, conduct, or thought

This time I would love some specific feedback, if you readers don’t mind. First of all, would you keep reading? Did anything in particular turn you on or off? I tend towards melodrama – was the language overblown? Any and all honest, constructive criticism is greatly appreciated. And if you really like it, I’d love to have your vote this week. Visit the Trifecta Writing Challenge site starting at 4pm Pacific (7pm Eastern) on Thursday to vote.

39 responses to “Shade Redux

  1. This is really good. I like the idea of choosing your own name..

  2. I love the specific names they’ve chosen and what they say about the characters, including Lily’s failure to choose. I particularly liked the part about Trace, although I think it gets a little bit wordy in the middle; you might think about paring it back a bit. My only other suggestion would be to consider putting just a touch more of the greater context in — not an explanation but maybe just another detail or two to anchor the meditation, if that makes sense.

    • That does make sense – thank you! I will think on how to incorporate a few more details in there.

      I do tend to get wordy. I like words so much that I have to rein myself in sometimes, especially when I fixate on certain phrases or rhythms. 🙂

  3. I explored the idea of true names while I was writing my piece, but it proved to be too much to add to the story. I like the concept and here you used it beautifully. It could be hard to pare down Trace’s paragraph since it incorporated the prompt so well. Your words are beautiful. I don’t think you need to change much on that paragraph.

  4. I would agree with Katie. I don’t think much, if anything, needs to be changed or pared. I find the prose spare and enchanting, and thought-provoking, that we grow into our names, or our names choose us. Lovely.

  5. I enjoyed this piece. There are few words that could be cut to make it slightly tighter, but the piece is fine with them in.

    The only question I have is wording. The feeling I get from the passage about Trace is he is no longer living. The past tense wording sounds as if he died, which might be true, but I couldn’t be sure.

    That is really the only question I had.

    You did capture my attention and I would like to know more about Shade and where the name took her.

  6. I found your choice of words to be beautifully peaceful. I also wondered about the state of Trace’s being. Keep writing this story.

  7. Though the language is full, it isn’t overdone at all. I would definitely continue reading.

  8. This is beautifully done, Christine. I would absolutely continue reading. I already care about these characters.

  9. What a strange story. Not really a story, but an accounting of one’s life a bit. An interesting mood, I can almost see Shade and Trace. You wove your words well.

  10. Oh I do love your cheating ways ❤ This is brilliant writing.

  11. on the day I chose my name, my name chose me – perfect. perfect line to end the story. i love the voice that you used here, so much that i read it out loud. well done.

  12. I really enjoyed this, and would definitely read more. To me, it sounds like the preface or short first chapter of the story of Shade’s life. I don’t have any concrit, though I’ll mention that it sounds like ‘now’ both of the siblings are dead, and possibly died in less than pleasant ways. Not sure if you intended it that way, but that is the impression I get from this piece.

  13. That was interesting, the idea of true names… I feel for Shade. From that ending, I feel like I understand him…

  14. I enjoyed this.

    My suggestion would be to not reveal what name she chose in the first paragraph and to move those lovely definitions of Shade to the last paragraph. For me, that would have built my curiosity as a reader as to what she had chosen. I also agree that the second and third sentences could be trimmed in the third paragraph only because it isn’t information we need yet about Trace since this moment is about her name.

    I would certainly have kept reading because Shade is so mysterious and sinister, and a super awesome name for a woman!

  15. You did an excellent job building up tension, setting up a mood of foreboding. I can’t wait to read more!

  16. It would be pure awesomesauce if we could choose our own names. Love this piece.

  17. Talk about a utopian story…having a name choose you. Perfect. This was so well-paced. Great job.

  18. I like the last paragraph, especially “on the day I chose my name, my name chose me”…this alludes to a bigger story (and I’d like to read it.)

  19. I did enjoy this the only critique I would have would be to hem it in more as Annabelle mentioned. This is difficult for me to say because I have the tendency to tell and not show 😦 Other than that – who cares if you think it’s cheating) I won’t tell anyone if you don’t 😉

    • 🙂 Thank you! I really struggle with reining myself in. That’s one of the reasons I love these challenges – they force me to consider each word carefully. It’s a great exercise.

  20. kymminbarcelona

    Interesting reflection, name as destiny.

  21. I liked this unusual narration & yes,I would definitely read more.Like everyone else I too liked the ending & how each name is true to their character.I like it as it is 🙂

  22. i have to admit from the get that i am close to a fan girl when it comes to your writing. i’m still objective and i have other favorite writers who get some stinker lines in there sometimes and it makes me laugh. i’ve never read anything of yours where i’ve thought that, it’s almost ridiculous actually. i would love to see this storyline develop farther and would most definitely continue reading it. i think the plot lines laid down, the beginning of the world building, would be a smooth segue into a longer tale…

    • *blink* Holy cow, you just made me blush. And made my day. 🙂 I’ll let you in on a secret – this is actually the intro to a novel I drafted a while back, but abandoned in despair. I’ve been planning to come back to it for a while now, and am starting to feel like I might be able to refine the original piece. These Trifecta challenges have been a huge inspiration, not to mention a great tool to hone my writing skills.

  23. I liked the tone of this and would read more. As someone who sometimes forgets to introduce sufficient conflict into a story, I’m not sure you’ve got a grabber here, but some great stories start slowly, so who knows?

    • Thanks, Lumdog! I have trouble introducing conflict, too. I’m much better at short descriptions or character snapshots. That’s one of the reasons I like Trifecta – it lets me do what I do best. On the other hand, I should probably think about stretching myself a bit…

  24. Are you SURE you never submitted this to Trifecta? Because I’ve read it before, and with all this Trifecta reading, I don’t usually have time to read a lot of the in-between stuff that people write. Anyway, I love it. My good friend renamed himself Traveler back in the day. Nobody knows what he used to be called anymore.

    • I never submitted it, but it’s linked on my “About” page – you did comment on it there. I wouldn’t have entered it if it were an editor-judged week, by the way, seeing as you’d already read it.

  25. A well deserved win. I love this!

  26. I thought this was a great piece of writing and a worthy Trifecta winner.
    I would certainly read more. It was as if you were given us a little snippet, a short bio or back story of each of these characters. Just enough to whet our appetite and want to find out more about them.
    Personally I didn’t think it was too wordy in the middle. Instead it left me thinking that, if this was the start to a longer story, then Trace would either be the main character or the first one whose story you were going to tell.
    Thanks for a great read.

    • Wow, thank you! You’ve actually given me something to think about. I mentioned in an earlier comment that this is part of a novel I’d given up on – I couldn’t get it to go where I thought it should. But I’m wondering if I was maybe focusing on the wrong character… I suddenly have a bunch of new ideas for telling the story I want to tell. Thank you!

  27. I loved this and would like to hear more about why she wasn’t sure at times that she had chosen the right name. “…my name chose me” seems intriguing. I’m a singer, so folks in that biz often “choose their name” for billing purposes, but how intriguing – naming oneself. I love this idea! Thanks, Christine, and thx for your comment on the “procedure” poem… Amy

  28. Well deserving of the win!

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