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Read "Of All Twisted Words," a 2023 Novel Excerpt Contest Runner-Up!

In February, we challenged you to submit a 400-word excerpt from your NaNoWriMo novels. From over 650 fantastic entries, we chose two Grand Prize Winners and four Runners-Up. We hope you enjoy reading them as much as we did! (For more excerpts, check out this forum thread.)

Of All Twisted Words by Elsie F.

I cross my arms and stare across the street to where he stands--my village's new found savior--the man who had killed the beast that plagued our village for over a decade. I take a swig out of my waterskin, watching as he smiles at the young children skipping around him; one comes up to him and offers up a flower crown. I try and hide my disgust, for even if the beast is gone, I do not trust his smile.

Something touches my shoulder, and I flinch. My grandmother shoots me a look. "Sterling, have you nothing better to do in your free time than to stare at Lucien?" she scolds; and before I can reply, she clicks her tongue. "It's been a week, and you still haven't said a word to him. Come. Help me bring him a pie." I nod, knowing that it's not an option. She lifts the pie up, giving it a proud stare, then reaches for my arm, "Aren't you glad the beast is gone now? You should be grateful that he came when he did, or you would have gone along with that crazy plan of yours!"

Yes, crazy indeed. A week ago I was ready to do something about the beast. The whole village had become cowards, not willing to face their demons for the sake of the innocent. The beast wasn't any random creature but from a curse long ago; one caused by the village when my grandmother was a child. I do not know all the details of the story, mostly because over years people have tried to twist it, make it seem like they were wronged. My grandmother told me that the people deserved it; because of their selfish nature, they'd brought it upon themselves. It wasn't until my grandfather died that she stopped saying that.

I don't care what anyone else thinks, I know he isn't the savior they claim he is. Where is the beast's body? I want to shout. All he came into town with that one fateful day was a bloodied sword. That and nothing more.

As we get closer, the children scatter, rushing off to their houses. Lucien looks up at us from the flower crown in his hands. His gray eyes sparkle as he scans my face, "It's a pleasure to meet you both."

author photo

Elsie F. is an equestrian and writer. She loves drawing characters, spending time with her pets, and of course maxing out her library card. As a rising 8th grader, her hopes are to one day become a published author and follow her passion towards a horse oriented career. In her spare time she can be found binge watching new seasons of her favorite anime and hanging out with her friends.

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