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Stan the Barbarian: Robbery Scene (Part 1)

(Note: I am including the introduction I posted in the forum's here to set up this excerpt. The part of chapter 2 I am asking to be critiqued is attached as a file as it exceed the character count. It is roughly 15k characters

This is from the second chapter of my Sword & Sorcery/Epic Fantasy parody novel, Stan the Barbarian: Tales of the Absurd. The book follows a slightly-out-of-shape barbarian named Stan who enjoys completing crossword puzzles and daydreams of becoming an accountant. Of course, the fantasy world he lives in is filled with all the usual nefarious characters, rogues, and evil wizards/monsters that make such a life difficult for a barbarian. When I get on my high horse about theme the book really is about how often the world forces us to be something we are not just because it makes others more comfortable. Stan's journey is one of learning to be comfortable in his own skin, and all the obstacles that entails.

I have a scene posted in the portfolio section where I want to accent the dialect of two characters. It is important because it plays into the humor of the scene. They are thieves and speak with a dialect that makes them sound uneducated but within the context of the robbery there is a discussion between them and the hero (and a few other secondary characters) about free will. I kept the whole scene intact, even though the robbery begins about a quarter of the way in. I made this dialog heavy and so the issue of dialect is important. I know standard writing advice says to keep changes that represent regional dialects to a minimum but here I want a clear emphasis on the difference. Would you recommend dropping certain intentional misspellings or abbreviations? Any that work particularly well? Or any other comments about the topic?

Also, feel free to comment on general flow. And I'm sure typos still remain. I just finished my second read through of the scene and I tend to take a half dozen to really weed out the issues. My subconscious mind loves auto-correcting without informing the other parts of my brain that it is doing so. (You may also notice I've gone with Trial By Balance at the accounting firm's name. I'm still hoping for some good feedback to my forum post on strong accounting puns to work in here.))


The door to Trial by Balance's office swung open with a slight shove. Stan hesitated for a moment before he entered, shuffled his broad frame sideways to pass through the narrow entryway hall, and then reoriented to face a row of three heavy wooden doors labeled Coin and Comfort to the left and, to the right, Anon Plus Some. He pushed the middle door, labeled Certified Accounting Specialists, it rotated on an iron hinge to reveal a long office, filled with ordered rows of oak desks. At each desk a worker sat, quill in hand, dipping, debiting, crediting, repeating. Stan inhaled a chest full of air and relished the scent of fresh paper, stale office air, and coffee that fell somewhere between fresh and stale.

"Can I help you?" A small elven woman looked up from her desk, annoyed.

He hadn't noticed her there. "Yes. I'm here about a job."

"Do you have an appointment?"

"For what?"

"For your interview." She sighed as she stood up and repositioned a large bound book that stretched the length of her desk once opened.

"I don't have one." Stan said.

"Sorry. All interviews must be scheduled."

"Can I schedule an interview?"

"Well, let's see." She ran her finger along the page, tut-tutted, turned the page and repeated this several more times. "Well, we do have one opening."


"The 18th of this month..."

"I'll take it..."

"Two years from now."


"I could always send a pigeon when we have an opening."

"Are you sure there's nothing sooner?"

"No." She closed the book and slid it back to the side again. It perched near the edge of the desk balanced against a cup of coffee and an oversized stack of papers.

"I was hoping..."

"Name and address?"

"Well, what if..."

"Name and address, so I can notify you if something opens." She readied her quill just above a small piece of paper.

A tall man, he appeared to be an elf by complexion but his long hair hid his ears, interrupted. "Miss Waters, can you call someone to unstick the drawer in the filing cabinet in my office. It's stuck again."

Stan stepped back and nodded to a clean-shaven, middle-aged man sitting in the lobby. The man smiled back before he buried his round face into a worn copy of Witch Hunters’ Monthly.

"Yes. I will send out for the repairmen again."

"Not that one. I didn't like him."

"Who then?"

Stan spotted his opportunity. "I could help."

"And you are?" The tall man asked.

"Stan, Stan Rockbinder."

The thick thud of a hard wood door slammed against a wall announced a new, and presumably undesirable, presence.

"This 'ere issa robb'ry!" Two men, of contrasting statures, burst into the room. Both were broad with torsos shaped like bloated barrels left on their ends too long. One stood as tall as Stan, the other only a few inches above the secretary's desk. Each brandished a pair of curved scimitars.

"Jus' do as we say," said the shorter man, "an' then no one needs ta get hurt. Berty, the bags."

"Ay, Cyrus." Berty fished around for the bags inside the back of his already inconsiderable torn short pants.

"Now," Cyrus said, "'ow about that gold, silver, an' jewels? Quick, quick."

"Wrong door." The secretary crossed her arms and glared at the taller man.

"What?" He shied a bit from the hard look.

"Banks the door on the left, you illiterate knob."

"Now, I don't see why we need ta go insultin' people," Cyrus said, "It was an honest mistake. I mean, are ya sure?"

"Says the illiterate knob with the swords." The secretary huffed.

"Not like we was gonna stabs no one," Cyrus said, "jus' 'cause we big and got swords. Mighty rude assumption ta make."

"Yeah," Berty said, "we are jus' lookin' to improve our sit'ation in life. We got kids ya know."

"Nothing here to steal." the office manager patted down the front of his vest. "Mostly ledgers and desk calendars."

The robbers exchanged confused glances. "You sure yous ain't got nuffin valuable? I mean, this is pretty embarassin'. Be better to come away wit' somethin'. Maybe a fancy pin, or a nice pair o' shoes. 'Eck, we'll take stuff with sen'imental value, kids drawin' or some poorly done pot'ery."

"I have some books," Stan volunteered.

"They valuable?" Berty asked.

"Only educationally."

The pair grumbled.

"Wait," the secretary said, "why would you steal something with sentimental value?"

"Ya thinks cause we robs stuff we don't have emfathy?"

"You mean empathy?" She said.

"What's that?"

The manager shook his head, glanced at the grandfather clock in the corner, and cleared his throat. "Well, I'm afraid we have nothing of value. Perhaps this gentleman here"--he gestured to Stan—"could show you two out?"

"Youz got muscle? Sure you ain't no bank?" Cyrus asked.

"I'm just here for an interview."

"Good," Berty said, "Hold onto 'em books. We may jus' take 'em."

Stan clutched his bag closer to his side. "You don't have to do this. You could always go and rob the bank. It's just the next door over. I'll show it to you if it helps."

"No, they can't." A slight man sitting just out of view spoke up from the waiting area.

"Excuse me?" The manager asked.

"My Theriomancer, Clucks and Guts Fortunes, predicted all this. Right down to this short, wide fellow." He smiled at Berty.

"How does it end?" Stan asked.

"No clue."

"Why not?"

"They're chickens. Tiny brains."

"Mancers are jus' a load o' supers'ition." Berty said.

"Yeah," Cyrus said, "I got a cousin goes to college. She says we'z jus' the sum of our 'periences."

"No," Ms. Waters said, "that's superstition."

"I 'eard o' this. We'z all made up o' physical matter. An' it de'ermines what we'z gonna do jus' like stuffs we see all 'round us. See." Berty slid a flower vase across the desk until it crashed to the floor and sent glass, water, and bright purple-leaved flowers scattered across the tiled floor.


"See." Berty smiled. "They fell because I caused 'em to. Every things fis'cal gotta 'ave a cause. Even our 'eads."

"Yeah," Stan offered, "but couldn't you choose to go next door and rob that bank?"

"Ain't you been liste'ning?"

"Don't seem like it." Cyrus shook his head.

Portfolio entry information

J Q Kaiser
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6 min read
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