January Excerpt: Mardon Troupe

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Let's hope I practice what I preach.

It’s the end of the month, so I’m giving you an excerpt of real writing, instead of all that instructional stuff I usually post. This is the beginning of a book I haven’t technically started writing yet, and in the true spirit of BeKindRewrite, it will probably be scrapped and completely rewritten before it sees print. 

The book will be composed entirely of letters from Alexandre Barneby, assistant of Mardon Troupe, to an unidentified lady.

The only thing you really need know about Mardon Troupe, is that he was an impossible man. To answer your last question; I don’t know for sure, for that was before I knew him. But let me put it this way. A butcher once asked me if it was true that Mardon Troupe had really survived a stampede of one hundred head of cattle, while carrying an open jar of antivenin, without spilling a drop. “Of course not,” I replied, “It was two hundred head of cattle.”

So you may assume your story of the dragon was true, but it probably had five heads instead of two. I think Troupe plays the stories down when he tells them.

Yes, Mardon Troupe was impossible. He never tired. We could be hiking through the jungle for three days, nonstop, without food, I on my knees, dragging myself with bloodied fingers, mumbling incoherently, half mad with exhaustion.

“Come on, Barnaby,” he’d say briskly, looking down at me, “life is too short to be wasted on dawdling and cheap wine.”

On the note of alcohol: no one could out-drink him. He could guzzle an entire barrel of rum and then win a tongue-twister contest against a perfectly sober elocution expert. He never even grew tipsy.

Food had the same effect on him. That is, none at all. He went some days eating constantly, alternately snacking and feasting, and never gained a pound. He went other days eating nothing at all, maybe for weeks even, and never lost a pound, never grew faint.

And I never saw him sleep. Oh, there were occasions when he would lean back, legs stretched out, arms folded, hat pulled over his eyes, snoring softly—but that does not mean he was sleeping. I have a strong suspicion that he only pretended to be sleeping to eavesdrop on other people’s conversations. Even when we took lodging for the night, he would stay up reading, or smoking, or watching the stars. I think his mind never slept; I doubt his body did either. If you say that is impossible—you are beginning to understand Mardon Troupe.

About Stephanie Orges

Stephanie is an award-winning copywriter, aspiring novelist, and barely passable ukulele player. Here, she offers writing prompts, tips, and moderate-to-deep philosophical discussions. You can also find her on and Pinterest.
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11 Comments

  1. I can see you “discovering” your characters with your sixth sense, and Troupe, though he may not even be real, stays true to the myth surrounding him. I really liked this and even if you decide to scrap or rewrite it, it could stand on its own. I’ll bet you had as much fun writing it as I did reading it (twice)!

  2. Cool! This was amazingly well written and a joy to read. Mine is nowhere near this good. Actually neither is my best work (which is my short story). :/ I’m going to have to do some learning from you.

    • Thank you so much!

      Don’t be so hard on yourself – you are more talented than you think. I read your first chapter and loved your description of Kiara. She sounds like a very intriguing person.

  3. Pretty good description! For the most part you were able to maintain that kind of slightly-detached, old-fashioned feel to the narrative style, although there were a few parts where that “accent” faltered a bit. Just a bit, though. Keep it up and work on it! From my experience, I’ll say that little chapters like these are fun and easy, but it gets much harder when I try to explore such oddball characters in more detail. It becomes *gasp!* work! (But that’s not a bad thing.)

    • Thank you! For your honesty, especially.

      So true – it gets way harder. Plus, it will be years before I actually get around to working on Mardon Troupe – in the meantime, he is working his way into the cracks of my brain, where he can live and grow for awhile before I decide to write his story.

  4. I can’t wait to read more about Mardon Troupe some day. It’s so nice to see characters being created and becoming real. Thank you!

    • Thank YOU. Even though Troupe doesn’t actually have a story yet, and even though I don’t completely know who he is yet, he’s already one of my favorite characters. I’m glad you like him, too.

  5. My goodness… When the narrator first said “impossible” I thought he meant in the “this person is so frustrating aaaaaah!” sense… then as things continued it slowly dawned. No, he means impossible in a very literal sense. I am intrigued.

    I want to be nearly as interested in and compelled by the narrator as Troupe, but I am not yet.

    • Ah, yes. Troupe is far from even being started yet. I still haven’t settled on a format or even a plot. The character is still changing and forming in my mind.

      Troupe is a little bit infuriating, though, in that he’s impossible to figure out, and he never really explains how he can do the things that he does.

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