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Untitled Fantasy WIP - Chapter 1 Part 1

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Old 11-06-2013, 10:45 PM
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Default Untitled Fantasy WIP - Chapter 1 Part 1


OK - calling all Fantasy buffs, here is the first part of my first chapter. I have not got a title yet, these usually come to me when a work is nearer completion.

As a back story, this takes place in a Cluster Galaxy called Anthelion, where politics, religion and corporate interests split mankind, until an attack from ancient creatures known as 'Daemons' - also called "Footsoldiers of the Fallen Creator" - threatens the existence across all seven systems.

I have purposely broken this in two "bite sized" chunks - this first one is around 1250 words; the second will be around 1400, and I will post this in this thread in about a week to give people time to digest part 1.

The following critters are welcome:
Content critters - have I captured a good story here? Is it flowing OK?
Tense and structure critters - does anything "rip" you from the character, or doesn't quite fit?
Oberst von SPaGler - you know who you are...and you are welcome to comment
Fans, aficionados and sycophants - all praise will be met with humble gratitude

OK, on with the show...


CHAPTER 1: HAUNTED


The jagged teeth of the Acapacia Range devoured Soto, the second sun, bleeding a crimson blaze that fought the burgeoning twilight for dominance of the sky. First setting had occurred an hour before and brought with it the chill of an autumn-night breeze, whispering through the trees.

Reislan shivered as he grasped the pulley rope and slid the shop blinds down. He drew his shirt collar to his throat with his free hand and carefully dismantled the weathered shopfront sign and folded it flat, clattering it against the doorway in his rush to be back in the relative warm shelter provided.

The shop: “Gurran’s Supplies” - imaginatively titled after Reislan’s father – was constructed of odd shaped stone blocks haphazardly thrown atop one another. But despite its apparent ramshackle design, Reislan’s father had told him that it stood as one of the oldest buildings in Firstlight, even pre-dating the old town house. Six thick stone columns with intricately carved horses in a variety of poses stood in two rows of three, equal distance from the walls and each other. The grey marble floor was chip-flecked with shallow recesses eroded by centuries of foot traffic.

Reislan imagined that the building might have once been a stable-house belonging to someone of land title. As a young boy, he had often dreamed himself the master of the stable and rider of the magnificent roans that would glide across his lands.

If it was a stable-house at some point, Reislan thought it looked little like one now. A plain metallic fireplace, clearly a much later addition to the building, had been installed in what was now the front of the shop, but was an antique itself. Four levels of shelving were placed between the columns and the walls, creating a labyrinth of sorts.

It was not a large shop, but what it had in stock could have filled Old Mews’ warehouse, packed as it was with fresh produce at the front, small goods in fridge lockers at the back, and Slathe rope, rotator cutter-heads, sonic fencing joists, and other equipment farmers in the area were grateful to lay a hand on, on the shelves in between. Reislan’s father had always made a point of keeping the shop well stocked and, despite the clutter, every piece had its place.

Reislan placed the sign in a vacant corner and dusted his hand on his jacket. He manoeuvred around the shelves toward the darkwood counter that ran across the front wall and vaulted over it, somewhat awkwardly, landing squarely behind the register. The old machine chugged as he pressed a series of finger-worn keys to open it. Takings had been slim this month.

A scorching summer, the likes of which no one had seen in thirty years, had baked the ground from Firstlight to the Western Tip and ruined most farmers’ crops. Now, at summer’s end, the weather had taken a sharp turn and a chill settled on the land, as if the suns were burning cold. The strange weather caused debate among the climate studiers in Voxon, but such academic discussion rarely gripped Firstlight’s inhabitants. This was farming country; if it was not practical, it was not worthy of a man’s time.

He finished counting the meagre takings, placed them in a small, green silk pouch and fastened the strings. He took a battered, bound red book from the shelf under the register. His father had insisted, despite computerisation some centuries ago, that hand written records of each day’s takings were necessary.
“When computers break the world stops. When pencils break you get another one,” was his father’s motto. One of many anyway.

He was placing the pouch in his knapsack when a hunched figure shuffled through the door - a stout man, but one whose best years were decades, or more, behind him. A rattling cough burst through the old man’s best attempts of stifling it, followed by a phlegm-ridden hack. Without turning his eyes from the knapsack, he knew who it was.

“Good evening, Mr Haggert.”

Tover Haggert, a man whose face wore the lines of a thousand troubles lived, grumbled incoherently, possibly something intended as a greeting, while he made his way to the counter. No one in town knew much of Tover’s past before he came to Firstlight, and he had arrived late in life. Reislan did know, however, that Tover was deeply set in the old ways: respecting one’s elders. And they did not come much older than Tover.

Reislan stuffed the ledger in his knapsack as he heard the old man’s boots scrape across the marble. He was never sure why Tover moved so. He had seen him break into a run that would have given any young man a good chase, especially when he was that young man cutting through Tover’s fields on the way to town. The old man’s barks echoed over Reislan’s head as he reached the counter.

“Boy, I need me some gniproot juice.” This was an order from a man not accustomed to a second time of asking. Reislan stood to meet him.

“We have some out back, sir. Just a moment.”

Tover raised an eyebrow that further trenched his brow. The look made Reislan want to be quickly away. With a respectful nod, he headed to the storeroom.

Like the front counter, the storeroom was built completely from darkwood and was clearly a much later addition, clashing in both form and style with the stonemasonry of the shop. Long, thick boards lay horizontally atop of one another forming sharp angled exterior walls. Four iron poles provided support for the structure in each corner, with another in the centre. Shelves, a small pantry at the back, and a deep fridge across the back wall held extra stock.

The floorboards groaned as he strode across the room and slid the fridge open, its icy breath enveloping him as he peered into it. The gniproot juice was lodged at the bottom, under several lamb racks and a large bag of silver peas. He shifted the frozen carcasses to one side and reached in. His bloodless fingertips brushed against something smooth. Balancing himself on his toes he leant in up to his waist, perching himself on the edge of the opening. The electric hum filled his rapidly chilling ears, a plume of steamed breath rose up in front of him; distantly, he could hear Tover’s hacking. The bottle was just within his grasp.

Something locked around his wrist with a bear trap grip. Cold as winter steel and, with the strength of a plough ox, it pulled Reislan deeper into the fridge, lifting his feet from the ground. He yelped and used his free hand to brace against the back wall, managing to pull up a few inches and regain a footing.

“Help me!” Reislan’s cracked and desperate cry sounded barely audible in the swirl of blood and fear. His trapped limb weakened as his shoulder stretched and creaked under the strain of the battle. He took hold of a large hunk of lamb and began randomly bashing at anything near his wrist, but his efforts were useless. Whatever it was had him in a death grip. The ache of fatigue overwhelmed him and, with a dread filled resignation, he closed his eyes and submitted to the force pulling him into the frosty abyss.



>>>>END PART 1<<<<<

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Last edited by risk10; 11-07-2013 at 02:48 PM..
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Old 11-07-2013, 12:09 AM
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Originally Posted by risk10 View Post

CHAPTER 1: HAUNTED


The jagged teeth of the Acapacia Range devoured Soto, the second sun, bleeding a crimson blaze that fought the burgeoning twilight for dominance of the sky. First setting had occurred an hour before and brought with it the chill of an autumn-night breeze, whispering through the trees. This is known as setting the mood and scene through weather, atmospherics etc. It can be cliche and redundant for an opening. I'd start with what comes below, and if it's needed, work a little of it in there. But let the characters interact with the surroundings to depict tone and atmosphere.

Reislan shivered as he grasped the pulley rope and slid the shop blinds down. He drew his shirt collar to his throat (a simple: he turned his collar up to protect against... (a reader will know you only really shift a collar to your throat, so the 'to his throat' becomes redundant') with his free hand and carefully dismantled the weathered shopfront sign and folded it flat, clattering it against the doorway in his rush to be back in the relative warm shelter provided.

The shop: “Gurran’s Supplies” - imaginatively titled after Reislan’s father – was constructed of odd shaped stone blocks haphazardly thrown atop one another. But despite its apparent ramshackle design, Reislan’s father had told him that it stood as one of the oldest buildings in Firstlight, even pre-dating the old town house. Six thick stone columns with intricately carved horses in a variety of poses stood in two rows of three, equal distance from the walls and each other. The grey marble floor was chip-flecked with shallow recesses eroded by centuries of foot traffic.

Reislan imagined that the building might have once been a stable-house belonging to someone of land title. As a young boy, he had often dreamed himself the master of the stable and rider of the magnificent roans that would glide across his lands.

If it was a stable-house at some point, Reislan thought it looked little like one now. A plain metallic fireplace, clearly a much later addition to the building, had been installed in what was now the front of the shop, but was an antique itself. Four levels of shelving were placed between the columns and the walls, creating a labyrinth of sorts.

It was not a large shop, but what it had in stock could have filled Old Mews’ warehouse, packed as it was with fresh produce at the front, small goods in fridge lockers at the back, and Slathe rope, rotator cutter-heads, sonic fencing joists, and other equipment farmers in the area were grateful to lay a hand on, on the shelves in between. Reislan’s father had always made a point of keeping the shop well stocked and, despite the clutter, every piece had its place.

Reislan placed the sign in a vacant corner and dusted his hand on his jacket. He manoeuvred around the shelves toward the darkwood counter that ran across the front wall and vaulted over it, somewhat awkwardly, landing squarely behind the register. The old machine chugged as he pressed a series of finger-worn keys to open it. Takings had been slim this month. (This a long paragrapgh just to say that: Reislan stored the sign in the corner, dusted his hands down, then made his way over to the counter.)

A scorching summer, the likes of which no one had seen in thirty years, had baked the ground from Firstlight to the Western Tip and ruined most farmers’ crops. Now, at summer’s end, the weather had taken a sharp turn and a chill settled on the land, as if the suns were burning cold. The strange weather caused debate among the climate studiers in Voxon, but such academic discussion rarely gripped Firstlight’s inhabitants. This was farming country; if it was not practical, it was not worthy of a man’s time.

He finished counting the meagre takings, placed them in a small, green silk pouch and fastened the strings. He (watch your sentence-led 'he' openers. You can cut these down by focusing ton the opject: eg, Taken from under the register, a battered and bound red book found its way into his hands) took a battered, bound red book from the shelf under the register. His father had insisted, despite computerisation some centuries ago, that hand written records of each day’s takings were necessary.
“When computers break the world stops. When pencils break you get another one,” was his father’s motto. One of many anyway.

He (Proper noun needed (Reislan) as the focus for the last sentence was 'the father', there's potential ambiguity over the father being seen as the subject here) was placing the pouch in his knapsack when a hunched figure shuffled through the door - a stout man, but one whose best years were decades, or more, behind him. A rattling cough burst through the old man’s best attempts of stifling it, followed by a phlegm-ridden hack. Without turning his eyes from the knapsack, he knew who it was.

“Good evening, Mr Haggert.”

Tover Haggert, a man whose face wore the lines of a thousand troubles lived, grumbled incoherently, possibly something intended as a greeting, while he made his way to the counter. No one in town knew much of Tover’s past before he came to Firstlight, and he had arrived late in life. Reislan did know, however, that Tover was deeply set in the old ways: respecting one’s elders. And they did not come much older than Tover.

Reislan stuffed the ledger in his knapsack as he heard the old man’s boots scrape across the marble. He was never sure why Tover moved so. He had seen him break into a run that would have given any young man a good chase, especially when he was that young man cutting through Tover’s fields on the way to town. The old man’s barks echoed over Reislan’s head as he reached the counter.

“Boy, I need me some gniproot juice.” This was an order from a man not accustomed to a second time of asking. Reislan stood to meet him (had he taken a seat, then?).

“We have some out back, sir. Just a moment.”

Tover raised an eyebrow that further trenched his brow. The look made Reislan want to be quickly away. With a respectful nod, he headed to the storeroom.

Like the front counter, the storeroom was built completely from darkwood and was clearly a much later addition, clashing in both form and style with the stonemasonry of the shop. Long, thick boards lay horizontally atop of one another forming sharp angled exterior walls. Four iron poles provided support for the structure in each corner, with another in the centre. Shelves, a small pantry at the back, and a deep fridge across the back wall held extra stock.

The floorboards groaned as he strode across the room and slid the fridge open, its icy breath enveloping him as he peered into it. The gniproot juice was lodged at the bottom, under several lamb racks and a large bag of silver peas. He shifted the frozen carcasses to one side and reached in. His bloodless fingertips brushed against something smooth. Balancing himself on his toes he leant in up to his waist, perching himself on the edge of the opening. The electric hum filled his rapidly chilling ears, [and] a plume of steamed breath rose up in front of him; distantly, he could hear Tover’s hacking. The bottle was just within his grasp.

Something locked around his wrist with a bear trap grip. Cold as winter steel and, with the strength of a plough ox, it pulled Reislan deeper into the fridge, lifting his feet from the ground. He yelped and used his free hand to brace against the back wall, managing to pull up a few inches and regain a footing.

“Help me!” Reislan’s cracked and desperate cry sounded barely audible in the swirl of blood and fear. His trapped limb weakened as his shoulder stretched and creaked under the strain of the battle. He took hold of a large hunk of lamb and began randomly bashing at anything near his wrist, but his efforts were useless. Whatever it was had him in a death grip. The ache of fatigue overwhelmed him and, with a dread filled resignation, he closed his eyes and submitted to the force pulling him into the frosty abyss.



>>>>END PART 1<<<<<

Hi, Risk. It's a good peice on the whole, with lovely descriptive passages.

I think you sometimes rely on giving every action that gets your Reislan to a location, which can weigh it down a little too much. Thsoe steps can distract from the action, like in the last part with the fridge monster.

I'd look at every sentence and ask: is it getting me to where I need to be. If it's just windowdressing, then there's a chance that's where things will stall for the reader.

At the moment I think it just needs that build up to the tension, but it gets a little lost in the detail of taking the reader through every step of mc's actions.

But a very good start with loads of potential.
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Last edited by Whiskers; 11-07-2013 at 02:57 AM..
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Old 11-08-2013, 02:13 PM
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Thank you for your time and careful critique, Whiskers.

I agree this can become bogged down with minor details - it is an artifact of how I write (like I'm describing a movie in my mind) and so minute action may become over-described. I am in the process of experimenting with your suggestions and have trimmed a few sentences, but it really is difficult as I am very close to this work (it has been nearly three years building the world, characters, relgions, etc) and I am so invested in making this the best it can be.

Thanks once again, and keep an eye out for the second part (this is a little less description oriented, more action involved) in the coming days
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Old 11-08-2013, 03:24 PM
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I know I need to crit this. I have a milk allergy and accidentally had some the other day. (Didn't read the back of a soya mince packet) - if I don;t get to it by end of Sunday send me a PM.
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Old 11-11-2013, 01:56 PM
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This is the second part of chapter one. Again looking for all feedback and any comments are welcome


Chapter 1 (part 2) HAUNTED

"Well?” Tover’s impatient tone was clear indication he had no awareness of Reislan’s encounter in the storeroom. The old man squinted down at a brown leather wallet with skin as wizened as its owner’s face.

Reislan’s heart pumped adrenaline soaked blood through his muscles, making them shiver and tighten. His fingers wrapped around the bottle with a surety that turned his knuckles bone white.

“Are you right, boy?” This time the old man’s tone was softer and hinted concern, though his hard face still wore the same no-nonsense expression. Reislan breathed deep and swallowed an icicle of fear that melted as it reached his stomach.

“Yes, Mr Haggert. That will be 3 and 10.”

Tover’s eyes narrowed and his lips thinned to a puckered red dash. With slow, deliberate movement, he picked out four gold coins. Reislan held out his hand to receive the coinage. Tover obliged, releasing the coins one by one from between gnarled, oil-stained fingers; the flammable silence between the men broken only by the ting of each coin falling on top the previous one in Reislan’s hand.

“I can’t make change, the till is closed. I can note it down, so it can be taken off your next visit.” Reislan could feel his glass smile cracking under Tover’s hammer glare as he handed him the bottle. A moment longer and he would shatter and spill a hundred thousand secrets, but the old man shuddered, closed his eyes so tight they disappeared into a crevasse of flesh, and exploded into a violent cough. Cool relief swept over Reislan, while Tover’s face took on an amaranth hue.

When the old man regained himself, taking a small brown handkerchief to mop his eyes, brow and mouth, he merely gave a slight nod and gruffly said, “Pay no mind to the change.” He turned and shuffled toward the door.

Cold air drenched Reislan as he shut the door and bolted it behind Tover. He turned his back and leant against it, his shoulders falling almost to his hips as his chest caved in. He held up his trembling hands and winced.

The hallucinations were back. After almost two years without an incident - the last one almost costing the lives of two people as well as his own - they had re-emerged. Lost time; debilitating shakes; waves of dread and loathing; in one terrifying moment all the symptoms he fought so hard to defeat had attacked him anew.

“No. Not again.” He was resolute. This affliction would not be his conqueror once more. He concentrated on his hands, tightening every fibre, tendon and joint, locking them so they no longer trembled. He began the breathing exercises Doctor Tobe had taught him to control the anxiety:

“Remember: don’t let the anxiety take hold of you before you take hold of yourself. Breathe. Let go of the frustration and focus on where you are now. Safety. Support. Love. Let these words anchor you to the reality that seems broken.”

It was working. The trembling stopped, and the bottomless sea of fear and the crushing waves of depression could not move him; he would not be cast adrift. He was strong.

A noise from the storeroom broke his meditation. It sounded like a glass jar falling from a shelf, not smashing, but bouncing on the floor with a hollow chime. Wary of his earlier experience, he stayed low and made his way quietly to the front counter. He dared not vault over it this time, instead crawling between it and the wall, his jacket scraping the rough stone.

A cricket bat lay on the top shelf beneath the counter. Reislan clasped the leather handle and slowly dragged it out, his tension subsiding a little now he was armed.

When he reached the doorway to the storeroom, cricket bat pulled back behind his head ready to strike, he could hear soft, muffled weeping. He stopped just past the doorway, scanning the room. Outside, the breeze picked up and whistled through small gaps between the panels of the exterior walls. At first, Reislan thought he had mistaken the wind for the crying, but a sniff and a murmur told him otherwise.

With trepidation, Reislan crept across the floor, closing his eyes with every frustrating creak that threatened to give him away before he was ready. The weeping grew more distinct as he neared the pantry at the far end of the room.

He took a shaky hand from the safety of his weapon and turned the doorknob. His breathing became shallow and his heart was almost bursting from his chest as he opened the door. As if by design, the wind heightened to crescendo, shrieking through the room. What horror has my mind devised for me this time? he thought as he peered into the darkness.

A dim shape was hunched in one corner. Long brown hair that reached the waste covered shoulders that shivered with each sob. As his eyes adjusted, he could make out the figure of a child, perhaps no more than ten years old, naked, her back a valley of horrendous scars.

“Hey,” Reislan called softly, but the girl continued her mournful solitude. He propped the bat against the doorframe and placed a hand on the girl’s left shoulder. The girl stopped crying and a dreadful silence encompassed the room.

Reislan felt the familiar sickening twist in his stomach. He withdrew his hand as the young girl swivelled her head, looking at him with dead grey eyes and a smile that betrayed an evil out of place on an innocent face. As he was backing out of the pantry, Reislan tripped on his bat, sending him careering into the iron pole in the centre of the room. The girl rose and slowly advanced toward him.

She was giggling now; the sweet sound a perversion against the site of the hellish creature before him. Fingernails, like ten tiny daggers, sprung from each finger on the girl’s hands. Reislan regained his feet, using the pole for support, his only weapon now behind the girl. He pulled his body inward as the she thrust a bony claw at him.

He managed to swing himself around the pole, sling-shotting past the girl’s next attack and picking up the bat in one smooth move. His sweat-greased palms almost caused him to lose grip when he stepped to the side and took a swipe at her, connecting with her mid-rift. But other than halting the giggling, it did nothing to slow her down.

Burning red eyes now dominated a face wearing a rictus sneer. She went into a frenzied barrage that Reislan barely managed to deflect with his bat. All the while he was being driven back through the doorway to the shop. She let out a piercing screech, causing Reislan to remove one of his hands from the bat and cover his ear. It was a fatal mistake. The creature lunged, claws slicing through the flesh on his forearm. He dropped the bat and sank to his knees. Another screech pierced his ears as he closed his eyes, willing the demon-child away.

She was on top of him now, his arms pressed into her chest at full extension, keeping her slashing attacks inches from his face. Blood dripped onto his jacket, the throbbing pain telling him that his deep wound would eventually force him to succumb. He bent his knees up to his chest, gaining a foothold on the girl’s lower abdomen. He rocked back and, with all his strength, launched the girl over the counter.

He heard the creature crash into a shelf, hissing and screeching. Grabbing the bat, he took a couple of deep breaths and closed his eyes. He could hear her scratching the counter in her attempts to get up. Come on Rey. Summoning all his courage and with one last breath, he sprung up and swung the bat with all his force.

Kita’s golden hair fluttered as the bat whipped centimetres from her face. Reislan saw no sign of the horrific girl, only a petrified young woman standing the other side of the counter.
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Last edited by risk10; 11-11-2013 at 04:14 PM.. Reason: spacing issues
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Old 11-27-2013, 05:22 AM
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A promise made, a promise kept

Black= your original text
Blue= text to pay attention to
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The jagged teeth of the Acapacia Range devoured Soto, the second sun, bleeding a crimson blaze that fought the burgeoning twilight for dominance of("over" may flow better) the sky. First setting had occurred an hour before and brought with it the chill of an autumn-night breeze, whispering through the trees.
(Tis throws me, I think manly with the first two words. What is "first setting"? I need this to be clarified. Sorry if i'd missed something )
Reislan shivered as he grasped the pulley rope and slid the shop blinds down. He drew his shirt collar to his throat with his free hand and carefully dismantled the weathered shopfront sign and folded (Sentence too long, loose focus. Try putting '." after "sign" then new sentence with "Folding it, ...". see if you like it better.) it flat, (perhaps add "he left the sign" before "clattering") clattering it against the doorway in his rush to be back in the relative warm shelter provided. (rethink this. Can it be better worded? Maybe along the lines of "in his rush to return to the shelter where warmth awaited.")

The shop: “Gurran’s Supplies” - imaginatively titled after Reislan’s father – was constructed of odd shaped stone blocks haphazardly thrown atop one another. But despite its apparent ramshackle design, Reislan’s father had told him that it stood as one of the oldest buildings in Firstlight, even pre-dating the old town house. Six thick stone columns with intricately carved horses in a variety of poses stood in two rows of three, equal distance from the walls and each other. The grey marble floor was chip-flecked with shallow recesses eroded by centuries of foot traffic. (Very good descriptions)

Reislan imagined that the building might have ("had") once been a stable-house belonging to someone of land title. As a young boy, he had often dreamed (word choice. Is this really the best word to use here?) himself the master of the stable and rider of the magnificent roans that would glide across his lands.

A scorching summer, the likes of which no one had seen in thirty years, had baked the ground from Firstlight to the Western Tip and ruined ("Tip, ruining") most farmers' (remove) crops.

He was placing the pouch in ("into") his knapsack when a hunched figure shuffled through the door - a stout man, but one whose best years were decades, or more, behind him. A rattling cough burst through the old man’s best attempts of stifling it, followed by a phlegm-ridden hack. Without turning his eyes from the knapsack, he knew ("he already knew") who it was.


“Boy, I need me some gniproot juice.” This was an order from a man not accustomed to a second time of asking (works, but I think flow can be improved). Reislan stood to meet him. (phrase, make this into a sentence. You just need to add a little something to the beginning or end.)

Like the front counter, the storeroom was built completely from darkwood and was clearly a much later addition, clashing in both form and style with the stonemasonry of the shop. Long, thick boards lay horizontally atop of one another forming sharp angled exterior walls. Four iron poles provided support for the structure in each corner, with another in the centre. Shelves, a small pantry at the back, and a deep fridge across the back wall held ("contained" just for variety sake ) extra stock.

Something locked around his wrist with a bear trap grip. Cold as winter steel and, with the strength of a plough ox, it pulled Reislan deeper into the fridge, lifting his feet from the ground. He yelped and used his free hand to brace against the back wall, managing to pull up a few inches and regain a footing. (Good shift in mood)

“Help me!” Reislan’s cracked and desperate cry sounded barely audible in the swirl of blood and fear. His trapped limb weakened as his shoulder stretched and creaked under the strain of the battle. He took hold of a large hunk of lamb and began randomly (think of a word that better convey's his desperateness.) bashing at anything near his wrist, but his efforts were useless. Whatever it was had him in a death grip. The ache of fatigue overwhelmed him and, with a dread filled resignation, he closed his eyes and submitted to the force pulling him into the frosty abyss.

Good start Risk. The ending of this part was much better than the first half. The scene was well set, though I thought the part in the shop slowed the pace a bit. But, you have very good descriptions, so keep that up. Also, take a closer look at your word choice. Sometimes you could use another to better drive your story. I will also look at part 2 soon. For now, think about the comments I had made. Perhaps the piece could also be stronger at the beginning if you used more foreshadowing from the start.
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Old 11-27-2013, 10:06 AM
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I have quite a few things to say here. The first and most important piece of advice I can give you is to write the whole story before you start editing it.

1. How to go about this

Don't write the whole story and then post it in parts here, expecting people to follow the thread of a 100,000 word novel spread across 75 sequential posts. This will never work.

Don't post one part before you've finished another.

Do post the beginning of your story for critique. The first 1,000 words is the most important part; once someone's read 1,000 words either you've got them or you haven't.

Do join the science fiction and fantasy critique circle at http://www.critters.org. That's the best way of getting critique for any novel-length work of speculative fiction.

2. Style and technique

Use short words. Use short sentences.

Do not seek to impress us with the fulsome flow of your elaborate verbosity, and avoid the verisimilitude of undue edification; even though words of sesquipedalian length may lie within the ambit of your vocabulary, and even though your mastery of subordinate clauses might empower you to produce sentences both elaborate and convoluted in their structure, nevertheless, as writers it is our role to communicate, and magnificent though a certain amount of elaboration might be, it still behoves us to attempt to achieve a modicum of accessibility to our intended readership. So be concise. Particularly in your first few sentences.

Your main descriptive technique is to use modifiers (adjectives and adverbs). That's fine, but I think you're somewhat overusing them. I think you should focus on using more dynamic verbs instead, because even though you mostly use verbs well, some of your verb choices are generic, or even static, and it detracts from your flow.

What I think you should do is print out this piece and go through it with a blue pencil, drawing a ring around every modifier. Wherever you find one, ask yourself two questions:-

a) Is this modifier unexpected?

Unexpected modifiers can be kept. If they're not unexpected, they should be deleted. So, to use an example chosen at random and a couple chosen from your piece:-
  • The steel knife --> The knife, but the glass knife should be left.
  • The brown leather wallet --> The wallet, but the cerise silk wallet should be left.
  • His bottomless sea of fear --> His sea of fear, but his warm shallow sea of fear should be left.


b) Can you replace the modifier with a more dynamic noun or verb? If you can, do. So, to use an example chosen at random and a couple chosen from your piece:-
  • It was raining heavily --> Rain slashed down.
  • He was strong. --> Strength filled him.
  • A dim shape was hunched in one corner --> A silhouette crouched in a corner.


3. Overwriting

"Judicious cutting is like literary viagra" -- Stephen King, who always says that a good second draft is the first draft on a diet. He recommends cutting 10% of your word count. Actually, King's famous for overwriting himself, and most beginning writers (including you) should be cutting 20-25% of their word count. This is particularly important in action scenes.

"In writing, you must kill all your darlings." -- William Faulkner. This means the more you like a phrase, and the harder you find it to make yourself cut it, the more likely it is that you need to.

Don't get me wrong: what you've got is a perfectly good first draft. What I'm trying to say in this section is that you need to be ruthless with it when you make it into a second draft.

... I could go on and on but it's probably unproductive at this stage; there's such a thing as too much advice, and just to follow what I've already given you will be an awful lot of work.

Hope you find this helpful.
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Old 11-27-2013, 01:34 PM
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Thank you both for your thoughtful insights and for taking the time to read this, much appreciated.

Elisa/Win - great suggestions, I think that word choices in places are not as good as they could be and you have pointed out some areas I need to consider. As for the first sentence, it eludes to Soto being the second sun; therefore it is the second setting of the evening BTW: I am re-thinking this opening paragraph.

Non Serviam - it is such a shame that your experiences with other people in forums has lead you to hold off from critiquing work, when you obviously have such great advice to provide. This is the sort of information that I cannot pick up in books or reading articles about writing - it comes from someone reading your work and applying their wisdom to help you be a better writer, so thank you.

Something I have noticed - and this is probably the corporate psych coming out - is the two different types of critique offered by Whiskers and Elisa/Win, and by Non Serviam.

Operational critique - like that provided by Whiskers and Elisa/Win shows a writer very specific instances where grammar and punctuation has been violated, where better words could be used and where the structure or tone may need work. This sort of critique is extremely useful when learning specifics and identifying weak spots in your text. It is also the most often provided, as it is the easiest to articulate.

Strategic Critique - is a wider form of critique, and the type that Non-Serviam has provided (IMHO). This takes a broad view of the writer's work. This sort of critique can shift the way a writer views their style and provide them with insight into how their writing could improve the process of writing. It could also be completely missed by the author too This kind of critique is much more difficult to provide as it requires a deep understanding of the craft of writing and is much harder to articulate, and is rare on this site.

This is just a thought of mine. It is not to say one type of critique is better than the other, as both are just as important and I learn from both.

Cheers
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Old 11-27-2013, 02:48 PM
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... and never, ever, critique a critique.
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Old 11-27-2013, 04:21 PM
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For me personally the scene has the potential to be gripping. Your description of Tover was fantastic.

I do think your descriptions are overlong - they would feel less so if you used Reislan pottering round his shop, lifting things, moving things, maybe sweeping up round things etc

Originally Posted by risk10 View Post

The jagged teeth of the Acapacia Range devoured Soto, the second sun, bleeding a crimson blaze that fought the burgeoning twilight for dominance of the sky. First setting had occurred an hour before and brought with it the chill of an autumn-night breeze, whispering through the trees.
This scene setting has nothing to do with your main character. Try to tie it into him some way if you choose to keep it. For example: Reislan shivered and watched the setting of the second sun - how did he feel what did it do for him. Then have him grab the pulley and bring the blinds down.

Reislan shivered as he grasped the pulley rope and slid the shop blinds down. He drew his shirt collar to his throat with his free hand and carefully dismantled the weathered shopfront sign and folded it flat, clattering it against the doorway in his rush to be back in the relative warm shelter provided.
TMI lol and it sounds like he dismantled the sign with one hand. You don't need folded flat. Just He carefully dismantled the weathered shopfront sign. It clattered against the doorway as he rushed back into the warmth.

The shop: “Gurran’s Supplies” - imaginatively titled after Reislan’s father – was constructed of odd shaped stone blocks haphazardly thrown atop one another. But despite its apparent ramshackle design, Reislan’s father had told him that it stood as one of the oldest buildings in Firstlight, even pre-dating the old town house. Six thick stone columns with intricately carved horses in a variety of poses stood in two rows of three, equal distance from the walls and each other. The grey marble floor was chip-flecked with shallow recesses eroded by centuries of foot traffic.
We know it is "The shop." I'd suggest here that you have Reislan pottering about the shop doing things to keep the description moving.


Reislan placed the sign in a vacant corner and dusted his hand on his jacket. He manoeuvred around the shelves toward the darkwood counter that ran across the front wall and vaulted over it, somewhat awkwardly, landing squarely behind the register. The old machine chugged as he pressed a series of finger-worn keys to open it. Takings had been slim this month.
This is better but there is too long a gap between dealing with the sign and discarding it. Especially as it is in an unnecessary gap. This one paragraph gives a lot of the description you need to set the scene. Again consider making it more action: The old register chugged as he pressed a series of finger-worn keys to open it. He swore quietly at the lack of pounds in the drawer. This months takings were down and he pondered how he was going to buy those new shoes/pay rent etc


He finished counting the meagre takings, placed them in a small, green silk pouch and fastened the strings. He took a battered, bound red book from the shelf under the register. His father had insisted, despite computerisation some centuries ago, that hand written records of each day’s takings were necessary.
“When computers break the world stops. When pencils break you get another one,” was his father’s motto. One of many anyway.
Don't hate me but I think this is the hookiest start. It says so much about Reislan and his situation, gives something many people can relate to etc If you have him take down the sign, come in, deposit it and then count the cash. No fluff between it.

He was placing the pouch in his knapsack when a hunched figure shuffled through the door - a stout man, but one whose best years were decades, or more, behind him. A rattling cough burst through the old man’s best attempts of stifling it, followed by a phlegm-ridden hack. Without turning his eyes from the knapsack, he knew who it was.
Nice description of the old man. Consider rearranging it a bit so it is from Reislan's POV. A rattling cough, almost stifled by its owner, followed by a phlegm hidden rack disturbed Reislan. Without turning Reislan already knew who it was. (Does the door have a bell/someway of notifying of people coming in?)

He placed the pouch in his knapsack. It says the same thing without the was.

however, that Tover was deeply set in the old ways: respecting one’s elders. And they did not come much older than Tover.


I don't think you need all of the description. Tover goes on to show he is an old man set in his ways.



Tover raised an eyebrow that further trenched his brow. The look made Reislan want to be quickly away. With a respectful nod, he headed to the storeroom.
I'd like more description of how the look affected Reislan.


Whatever it was had him in a death grip. The ache of fatigue overwhelmed him and, with a dread filled resignation, he closed his eyes and submitted to the force pulling him into the frosty abyss.[/SIZE]
Try to be less woolly with your language in a tense scene. He was held in a death grip or something to avoid the whatever.
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Old 12-01-2013, 03:17 AM
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Here goes part 2.
Black= your original text
Blue= text to pay attention to
Green= corrections and suggestions


Chapter 1 (part 2) HAUNTED

"Well?” Tover’s impatient tone was clear (better with "was a clear") indication he had no awareness of (Too wordy, remove this, change to "of his ignorance to") Reislan’s encounter in the storeroom. (I think this can be made more lively, but at the moment, I'm not quite sure how. I'm sure you can come up with something. Remember unlike me, the reader would be reading this continuously from part 1. So I think you can remove "in the storeroom". Simply say something like "encounter with" any word you choose to sub into this; "phantom", "monster", "unknown presence". This depends on when you want to reveal the encounter was all in his head only.) The old man squinted down at a brown leather wallet with skin as wizened as its owner’s face (I noticed you tend to use similes. My suggestion is for you to try and use more metaphors. The reason is because with similes, you are saying something is like something. In a metaphor, you are saying something is something. Metaphors allow the reader to equate an object with something else and allows for more space and imagination. See which one you like more; I will write a simile and then a metaphor. See which one engages you more. a) The rope was like a serpent's coils as it slowly squeezed his throat. b) The rope coiled around his throat, slowly tightening, crushing what little are he had left. Which one is better and make you see what is happening better? The second one right? I didn't say the rope was like a snake, but the word "coiled" already empaled it and it makes for more active reading.)

Reislan’s heart pumped adrenaline soaked blood through his muscles, (Rethink, do you really need this? Couldn't you just start with "Adrenaline flooded his body..."? Key thing here is to consider pace. Keep the pace, maintain the suspense.) making them shiver and tighten. His fingers wrapped around the bottle with a surety that turned his knuckles bone white.

“Are you right (just a small thing "alright"), boy?” This time the old man’s tone was softer and hinted concern, though his hard face still wore the same no-nonsense expression. Reislan breathed deep and swallowed an icicle of fear that melted as it reached his stomach.

“Yes, Mr Haggert. That will be 3 and 10.”

Tover’s eyes narrowed and his lips thinned to a puckered red dash. With slow, deliberate movement, he picked out four gold coins. Reislan held out his hand to receive the coinage (Remove this. This is a spot where the pacing should be quick, and this slows it down unnecessarily.). Tover obliged, releasing the coins one by one from between gnarled, oil-stained fingers; the flammable silence between the men broken only by the ting of each coin falling on top ("top of") the previous one in ("into") Reislan’s hand.

When the old man regained himself (Word choice. Try "recovered" or something along those lines.), taking a small brown handkerchief to mop his eyes, brow and mouth, he merely gave a slight nod and gruffly said, “Pay no mind to the change.” He turned and shuffled toward the door.

The hallucinations were back. After almost two years without an incident - the last one almost costing the lives of two people as well as his own - (These should be merged. Using shorter sentences would be good.) they had re-emerged (You are repeating your self. Either remove this part, or cut the first sentence and start with "After"). Lost time; debilitating shakes; waves of dread and loathing; in one terrifying moment all the symptoms he fought so hard to defeat had attacked him anew.
(I would rearrange this to "In one terrifying moment all the symptoms he fought so hard to defeat had attacked him anew; lost time; debilitating shakes; waves of dread and loathing." see if you like it better, just because it gives some context first instead of seeming starting a random idea as was the feeling i got with what you had. No offense ok? )

It was working. The trembling stopped, and the bottomless sea of fear and the crushing waves of depression could not move him; he would not be cast adrift (Think how to make this more engaging. Put the reader in the MC's place. Make the reader feel what the MC feels). He was strong (You could remove this if you rewrote the previous sentence. Example "He was impervious to the crashing sea that was his terror;.." finish the sentence that makes what you had before stronger and less static).

When he reached the doorway to the storeroom, cricket bat pulled back behind his head ready to strike, he could hear soft, muffled weeping. He stopped just past the doorway, scanning the room. Outside, the breeze picked up and whistled through small gaps between the panels of the exterior walls. At first, Reislan thought he had mistaken the wind for the crying, but a sniff and a murmur told him otherwise. (Good. It's succinct and draws the reader in. You need more of these in your writing. Also, perhaps can work a bit on foreshadowing here.)

He took a shaky hand from the safety of his weapon and turned the doorknob. His breathing became shallow and his heart was almost bursting from his chest as he opened the door. As if by design, the wind heightened to crescendo, shrieking through the room. What horror has my mind devised for me this time? (italicize or put ' ' around the thought.) he thought as he peered into the darkness.

Reislan felt the familiar sickening twist in his stomach. He withdrew his hand as the young girl swivelled her head, looking at him with dead grey eyes and a smile that betrayed an evil out of place on an (better to say "incongruent to the") innocent face. As he was backing out of the pantry, Reislan tripped on his bat, sending him careering into the iron pole in the centre of the room. The girl rose and slowly advanced toward him.

She was giggling now; the sweet sound a perversion against the site of the hellish creature before him. Fingernails, like ten tiny daggers, sprung from each finger on the girl’s hands (remove this. The reader knows fingers are on hands ). Reislan regained his feet, using the pole for support, his only weapon now behind the girl. He pulled his body inward as the she thrust a bony claw at him.

Kita’s golden hair fluttered as the bat whipped centimetres from her face. Reislan saw no sign of the horrific girl, only a petrified young woman standing the ("standing on the") other side of the counter.

Just a few things about this part:
1. This was much more engaging than the first part, but the important thing for this latter part is to keep the pace. In some places, too many words, breaks the action and although is good for description sake, it slows the pace.

2. Keep the suspense, you want to keep the reader wanting more. As long as you have that, you're good. Another thing is to use humor. It can intensify the tension rather than defuse it if you used it right.

3. Word choice again. Sorry about nagging about it, but really. If you use the right words, you can say so much more with much less words.

4. Sentence lengths. You tend to use quite long sentences, but shorter ones can work quite well too.

5. I think the beginning of part 2 doesn't flow quite well with the ending of the first part. You done quite a good job building up the tension and then the tension falls with the beginning of part 2. However, I don't think it would be too hard to fix. Hope this was helpful.
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Old 12-01-2013, 06:27 AM
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The setting for your story is very interesting and I enjoyed reading it. I hardly noticed any errors, which made it even better.

Good luck with the rest and with finding a fitting title.
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Old 12-01-2013, 02:36 PM
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Elisa - once again a thorough and insightful critique. I agree that some word choices are problematic and that I over-use long sentences. I think this is coming from a deep-seeded passion to prove to everyone I can use every piece of punctuation in the book in one sentence

I am in the process of reviewing this chapter - really so that I can set a tone for my writing throughout the rest of the novel. Thanks again for spending your time on my work, much appreciated. By the way - I did Italicise the fonts for thought, but obviously that formatting did not come through :/

Writingfan27 - you are too kind. Thanks for the read
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Old 12-02-2013, 04:21 AM
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Haha Risk, that's ok, but it's good to always check how it looks to ensure when the piece is posted, everything is as you want. Good piece and good luck. Yes, setting the tone would definitely be helpful in terms of how the story progresses. I see my services are no longer need on this thread.

Oh, and don't worry about the punctuation thing. You'll get to show off your grip on them in time. No need to put them all in one sentence. You never know, they might end up fighting each other.
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Old 12-06-2013, 11:29 AM
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just wow, yeah..i'm kind of nervous posting my submission on here now from my first chapter <.< but it's kind of in the 1st rough draft phase so eh.
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