From the Archives: Small Monkeys

Judging by the handwriting, dated somewhere around 7th or 8th grade.

Kira scrambled up the anchor-tree, her rope trailing behind her. She leaped from branch to branch, as nimble as a monkey. 

“Kira!” Jo’sun called from below. “Tie that up quick and get down here! We’re due back soon – and don’t break your neck doing monkey acrobatics, you’re my lightest and smallest. I need you!”

Kira’s laugh rang out. “Don’t worry, jhan,” she teased, lovingly insulting Jo’sun in her native Sha’ta, a desert language, “I’ll come back unbroke!”

Jo’sun growled, cursing all small monkeys masquerading as humans with wicked humor. “Before I grow old, miss!”

Kira laughed again, tying the kite to a sturdy branch. “Done! And don’t tell me I wasn’t fast enough – I’ve seen Aktor try it.” Kira dropped, landing in a crouch by Jo’sun’s feet. “Besides, he can’t do devil’s tongue knots – he can’t even tie a monkey’s tail – and I can. So don’t threaten me!”

“Oh no, I know better than that. But you don’t pay for the food, so let’s not use that high-and-mighty tone with- ” He was interrupted by the clang of the great bell.

“Race you,” called Kira, off and running. Jo’sun leaped astride her horse, and set off after her.


  • Kites tied to anchor-trees are somehow significant, with children used as climbers. I’m not certain if anchor-trees are real trees or just something tree-shaped. Also not sure what the kites are supposed to do – maybe some kind of wind magic?
  • The lack of information here means that this would not be a great opening – random unexplained jargon drop – unless a little more description was added. Mystery is fine, but the reader needs some grounding.
  • There are a lot of exclamation points – partially forgivable because Kira is excitable and, at least for the first part of the conversation, twenty feet up a tree (speaking of which, she got down that tree awfully fast). Got to indicate shouting somehow, I suppose…
  • Gratuitous apostrophes. Could be justified for either Jo’sun’s name or the Sha’ta language, but probably not both because Jo’sun is implied to be a native of wherever they are now. My gut is telling me to leave it in Sha’ta.
  • Another Kira. Not sure why I repeat names so much.
  • I only skimmed this before typing it up. As I was transcribing, I was totally convinced Jo’sun was a guy until that last sentence. Not sure which version I like better. (Oh, and now I see I had “he” in the previous sentence…)
  • Conclusion: worth continuing when I get a chance. I’m curious about these kites. 

2 thoughts on “From the Archives: Small Monkeys

  1. Very interesting, I would like to know more, too. The only comment I disagree with is that it wouldn't make a good opening; I think it would. Sure, it would need a little more information, but certainly is “hooky.”

    I doubly agree with the apostrophes. Personally, as a reader, I really don't like them in names.

    Jo'sun is definitely a guy. Can't tell you why, but I was sure from the first moment.

    I have to say, you have quite a talent for writing characters. In this little excerpt you get across a lot of personality. It makes me a little jealous!

    Give us more! 🙂


  2. Thank you Bill! For the comments as well as the compliments.

    I'm almost positive that Josun (without the apostrophe haha) will be a man, since that was my original impression, and yours — and I write about too many women anyway.


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