The Swamp of Sorrows

Click on photo to see original source

The woods around the unlikely party were growing thicker, and a busy stream was visable among the greenery nearby. They led the thirsty horses to it, pausing only long enough to let them drink. They wanted to get as far as they could from the unceasing goblin drums heard in the background. It was all they could hear; their hearts picking up the rhythm in betrayal, until eventually even those faded away as they traveled.

The woods suddenly became black and white, as if sealed by Winter’s icy kiss. There was complete silence. No birds sang. No bees buzzed. Even the bullfrogs were quiet. A fog began dancing and weaving between the trees, leaving their naked trunks bleached, their leaves charred. The horses hooves lifted higher as the ground beneath them turned lecherous, the mud waiting to suck them down into its bowels, cleverly hidden in the fog. The air became cooler and cloaks were tightened as the chill crept to their bones. Death climbed up their nostrils as their horses plunged into the still water; a mirror that belied its murky depths.

“The legendary Swamp of Sorrows.” Brandlance whispered in awe.


  This week we asked you to take us somewhere. Where was up to you -fiction or creative nonfiction- but we asked you to use your words to paint the setting as vividly as possible. In 200 words.

I chose to build the setting of the Swamp of Sorrows from my fantasy novel The Unlikely Heroes. (Apologies that I can’t link to it as it is set up on a private blog for editing purposes. I guess you’ll just have to wait til it is released. 😉 This is what River sees before he is instructed to close his eyes in order to survive the swamp since it is filled with nymphs that want to steal your soul.

Concrit is always welcome and appreciated.

Follow me:

Stephanie Ayers

Executive Creative Director at Our Write Side/OWS Ink, LLC
A published author with a knack for twisted tales, Stephanie Ayers is the Executive Creative Director of OWS Ink, LLC, a community for writers and readers alike. She loves a good thriller, fairies, things that go bump in the night, and sappy stories. When she is not writing, she can be found in Creative Cloud designing book covers and promotional graphics for authors.
Follow me:

30 thoughts on “The Swamp of Sorrows”

  1. Renee McKinley (@2old2tap) says:

    Is there more of this? You know this is my genre of choice for reading. I’m in love with the dancing, weaving fog.
    My only concrit would be to break up some of the sentences. And in the first line, I was thinking of party in the wrong context. Maybe hunting (or whatever) party.

    By the way, is there more of this?

    1. DM says:

      Yes. There are 20+ chapters. You’ve read some of this before. This excerpt is from Chapter 6 or 7 before they go inside the big willow tree (if you remember).

  2. Anastasia says:

    It absolutely made me want to read more.

    1. DM says:

      Good, but did I take you there? Could you see it? Were you there?

  3. kidfriendlyja says:

    whoa I am spooked. Love how you easily portrayed the two differing moods of the places.
    I agree the word party though is confusing. I settled on party meaning group.

    1. DM says:

      You are correct. This is a small “party” of “outcasts” working together because they believe that one of them is the one the prophecy speaks of, and they believe in their cause.

  4. TheKirCorner says:

    Nymphs that want to steal my soul!!!!??? If I wasn’t so intriqued and sucked in I’d be truly scared.

    One of my favorite books growing up was The Hobbit. (I didn’t finish the trilogy until I was in my 20’s) but when you write about these characters I am reminded of that book and how accessible you make this kind of genre to me. It is understandable and interesting. I never critique you..I wouldn’t dare…yet with this one there is simply no need, it’s wonderful!

    1. DM says:

      I really wish you would critique me though. I know that you enjoy my writing, but don’t be afraid to tell me how it would/could be better. Never be afraid. 🙂

      Thank you for always being such a huge support.

  5. ADL says:

    I liked a lot of your imagery. Perhaps using the active voice instead of “could be seen” or “were led.” I got stuck at those points. Otherwise I wanted to know more about who was running and from what!

    1. DM says:

      Thank you. I believe I have fixed that.

  6. Galit Breen says:

    Yay! I love getting this glimpse- and it is all that you promised rich and descriptive and evocative! Go you! 🙂

    1. DM says:

      Aww thank you, lady!

  7. Karen @ Time Crafted says:

    Wow. Your descriptions are amazing, they draw you in like an intense quiet conversation, one you hold your breath for, to capture it all. Wow.

    1. DM says:

      Wow, your comment is amazing. An intense quiet conversation…wow. I’m blushing.

  8. Cheryl @ Mommypants says:

    I also thought of a different kind of party, especially followed by a “cheerful” stream. It seemed out of place with the rest of the story, especially since they’re being pursued.

    I enjoyed the rest of the descriptions. The woods are definitely creepy!

    1. DM says:

      Do you know, cheerful was a last minute addition? I changed it. Hopefully “busy” works better. This part was originally written in first person but due to the beta readers thinking the switching from one voice to another was too confusing, I am working on putting all in the third person. That made this a little awkward here.

  9. angela says:

    The woods are menacing and filled with melancholy at the same time. Very descriptive!

    1. DM says:

      I never cease to be amazed by how my readers take in my words. Sometimes even I get a new perspective out of it. Many times, it leads me in new directions.

  10. Tim@sogeshirts says:

    This is awesome. I need to go back to read some of the other chapters. This part is both enchanting and a bit creepy. Can’t wait to see what happens next and what that mention of death is about. Great descriptions!

    1. DM says:

      The death climbing up the nostrils was supposed to symbolize the way it smelled, so maybe I will fix that some in the final draft. Thank you, Tim. It was really awesome of you to stop by and read!

  11. Carrie says:

    I think this is one of my favorite pieces I have read of your so far. It’s extremely strong, the writing is tight, it flows beautifully.

    I have no suggestions. It’s awesome

    1. DM says:

      Let’s hope the rest of this story can flow this tightly. Thank you, Carrie, really.

  12. CDG says:

    “The horses hooves lifted higher as the ground beneath them turned lecherous…”

    I love that. The anthropomorphizing is really effective. It’s threatening and sly, and really colors the description around it.

    1. DM says:

      I’m glad it worked for you. Thank you!

  13. Lance says:

    Great word play and attention to detail. This is one of my favorite drama mama pieces ever.

    It’s eerie and dramatic and kind of sneaks up on you in it’s coolness. I dig it.

    1. DM says:

      Thanks, Lance!

  14. Shah Wharton says:

    This was a beautiful read. And a brilliant tease for your book. I do so love Fantasy novels and going from this, all I can say is if you need a Beta reader I’m in ;D (is that cheeky? )

    Just wanted to say thank you for your encouraging comment of my little F.F The Dark Dance. You have a wonderful blog here – its up on my side-bar blog roll so i’ll be back to read more ;D

    Shah X

    1. DM says:

      What a huge compliment!! Thank you so much. I emailed you regarding beta reading.

  15. debseeman says:

    My notice of this post has been languishing in my inbox. I’m so glad (and creeped) that I decided to not “dump” my inbox and read. I’m excited to know there is so much more. Your descriptions are spot on and I feel the cold and the fear in this setting.

    1. DM says:

      Thank you. it is very important to me to know that I am not overdoing the descriptions either, so thank you.

It's YOUR write side, too! Let's hear it!

%d bloggers like this: