Book three, chapter one

Discussion in 'Critiques' started by Mouse, Oct 11, 2011.

  1.  
    Mouse

    Mouse roar

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    Ok, so I've finished it. I'm now editing and re-writing. This is book three. Names are set in stone.

    There's a prologue and then this. I started writing this book years ago, so I was pretty rubbish back then. Basically, yes, I'm making excuses for the crapness of the following. Sorry. :p

    As I said in Anya's thread, I start with a character waking up. Book two ended with her conking out.

    Please tell me if I'm over-using names. I think I am.

    ---


    She was dead. She was dead. But she felt more alive now than she had ever before and this time, she had some of the Power of Malinas within her. And she knew its secret. Millicent Graves knew everything.



    Sorrel’s eyes opened and she squinted up at the ceiling. She felt disorientated; she had absolutely no idea where she was. She didn’t even know what time or day it was and for a moment, she couldn’t even remember what she had been doing before she had fallen asleep.

    Then she remembered. The War. The battle for the Kingdom of Malinas. She had fought with the Empress and won, but the last thing she remembered was collapsing into her mother’s arms.

    As Sorrel lay back in the comfortable double bed and gazed at the ceiling, she became aware that someone else was in the room with her. She could hear them moving about, quietly so not to wake her.

    Sorrel turned her head and watched silently as a young girl mixed something in a small wooden bowl. The girl had her back to Sorrel and was standing over a sideboard. An open book lay by her left hand and she glanced at it every now and then before going back to her mixture.

    She’s checking ingredients, Sorrel thought. Then, catching a familiar whiff from whatever it was the girl was stirring, knew it was something her mother would make.

    The girl stopped stirring the mixture and turned towards the bed. She stopped with a shock when she saw Sorrel’s eyes open and said, ‘Oh!’ in surprise.

    Sorrel looked at the girl and said nothing. She was an Elani, probably two or three years younger than herself. She had on a pale blue dress over which she wore a white cotton apron. There was an emblem of a small purple flower embroidered on the top right-hand side of the apron and the word ‘Pasque’ in fancy lettering.

    “Pasque,” said Sorrel. Her throat was dry and her voice sounded hoarse. She swallowed and cleared her throat.

    The girl smiled. She was extraordinarily pretty, with eyes as green as emeralds and neat strawberry blonde hair tied up in a single tight plait.

    "You’re awake!” she said brightly. “And on the one and only time when your mother hasn’t been by your side.”

    Sorrel pulled herself up into a sitting position and yawned. She was dressed in a white night-shirt, she realised, and quickly looked around the room for her old clothes.

    “I’ll get your mother,” Pasque said, popping the wooden bowl back down on the sideboard. “Nobody thought you’d wake yet.”

    “Where am I?” Sorrel asked. She rubbed her face, not liking to feel so tired and confused.

    Pasque turned back and went to sit on the stool by Sorrel’s bedside. “This is my home in North-Town,” she explained. “We thought it best for you to stay here in comfort. Your mother has chosen to train me as the next healer and it has been my greatest honour to accept and to care for her daughter.”

    Sorrel smiled. Her mother had wanted to start training a successor for a long time but neither she nor her brother Leif showed much interest or talent for the healing art.

    Sorrel rubbed her tired eyes again and then looked at Pasque. “I feel like I’ve slept for days,” she said.

    Pasque grinned and raised her eyebrows. “You have!” she said. “Four and a half to be exact.”

    Sorrel looked sharply at Pasque, then lay back down on her pillow, and groaned. “What’ve I missed?”

    Pasque got up and went to retrieve her mixture from the sideboard which she then handed to Sorrel and told her to drink. She sat back down on the stool and watched as Sorrel sipped from the wooden bowl.

    “You mean with regards to the affairs of the Kingdom?”

    “I mean,” said Sorrel, screwing up her nose and looking at the mixture in distaste, “with regards to the affairs of my family and friends.”

    She looked at Pasque again and asked suddenly, “Who’s been looking after Enapay?!”

    Pasque laughed and took the bowl out of Sorrel’s hands. “Your horse is being looked after by Gaeshi Sarkany in the Vale. Your mother, when she has not been here, has been at Leif and Saoirse’s in South-Town, cooing over young Imree.”

    “Imree?” Sorrel repeated, frowning.

    Pasque smiled at Sorrel and said gently, “Oh yes, I forgot. Imree is the name of their son.”

    “Imree?” Sorrel said again, pulling a face to make it clear what she thought of the name.

    Pasque smiled again. “As for your other friends, I believe Gunda is still here, waiting for you to wake. Evan waits with her, but that Fagan...!” Pasque shook her head and frowned.

    Sorrel sighed heavily. She knew Fagan would be more distant than ever after the death of his beloved Squirrel. She looked up as Pasque continued, noting with interest how her expression had softened into a wistful gaze.

    “Little Cloud has been by your side too. He’s quite charming. So gentle...” Pasque fiddled absently with the hem of her apron until Sorrel coughed and grinned at her and then she continued, sounding rather embarrassed, “Oh yes, but he left the Kingdom yesterday to care for his mentor, Running Bear.”

    “What’s wrong with Running Bear?” Sorrel asked, sitting up sharply. “He’s not ill is he?”

    Pasque frowned thoughtfully and shook her head. She pursed her lips and looked at Sorrel. “Not ill exactly,” she said. “More... well, it’s strange. He’s been bombarded by visions and images. They come to him all the time now, no longer confined to his dreams. Some say he’s completely cracked, but Cloud seems to think it’s something else. The poor old man’s certainly troubled by something.”

    “It’s not a seer thing is it?” Sorrel asked, feeling more alert now. “I mean, the same thing won’t happen to Cloud, will it?”

    Pasque raised her eyebrows and looked distant for a moment or two before she heaved a sigh and shook her head. “I hope not,” she replied.

    She placed the wooden bowl on the table next to Sorrel’s bed and then clapped her hands into her lap, declaring, “Well! I must go and tell your mother you’re awake!”

    Sorrel watched Pasque leave before lying back and wondering about Running Bear.
  2.  
    The Judge

    The Judge Truth. Order. Moderation. Staff Member

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    Well done for finishing it!

    I think you probably could get away with fewer Sorrelses, certainly at the beginning when she's the only one mentioned, and thereafter instead of things like "Pasque smiled at Sorrel" you could have just "Pasque smiled" and "next to Sorrel's bed" could become "next to the bed" since there's only one we know about there.

    For a first chapter it's a little heavy with names and telling us what's happened to whom, but as this is the third book I suppose it's unlikely someone will pick it up without knowing who everyone is. Is there a way of perhaps giving us the information a little more gradually, though, instead of like this? It's both a little too info-heavy and moving a little too slowly for my taste.

    Apart from the very opening paragraph there's nothing here which makes me think Sorrel has indeed just woken after a 4+ day sleep -- another word for which might be coma. She's instantly awake, she's fully alert, her senses are working fine, her limbs are working normally and she's got no aches. Frankly, it doesn't ring true to me -- and not only because she's in better shape than I am first thing in the morning!!

    I'm assuming she doesn't know Pasque, hence the long description of her? In that case, wouldn't it make sense to ask who she is -- or at least wonder who she is? And although she asks "Where am I?" that's well down the page -- she's shown no sense of worrying about it and we don't get any kind of description of what the place is like considering she's never been there before. I'd expect a lot more what/where/why etc.

    Finally, do be careful about using modern terms unless you are convinced these are the words they would use -- double bed, nightshirt and sideboard are all modern-ish, and for me they jarred terribly with what I remember from your other extracts of its being a vaguely medieval type world.

    A useful first draft, though. Well done.
  3.  
    Mouse

    Mouse roar

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    Excellent, TJ. You are right, as usual. I've just been looking through my chapter two and had things about Sorrel feeling weak and stuff, but deleted it out as I hadn't written her feeling very weak in the first chapter. I'll rectify that. (I thought it was a pretty dull first chapter too, to be honest!)

    Yep, first time she's met Pasque.

    Double bed is rubbish, come to think of it. I don't know why I just didn't write bed! What would be an older word for nightshirt?

    Thank you!
  4.  
    The Judge

    The Judge Truth. Order. Moderation. Staff Member

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    The basic undergarment for women down the ages was the shift, also known sometimes as a smock (though that always makes me think of shepherds) -- basically a linen nightie-looking thing. The length and width of the sleeves would have varied on the fashion, and the quality of the linen -- and of any finishing, embroidery, lace etc on it -- would have depended on the woman's wealth, but that was it. The more wealthy women would probably have had quite a number and changed every day or every other day, and used a separate one for bedtime. Poorer women would probably have made do with only a couple and worn the same one for night.
  5.  
    Mouse

    Mouse roar

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    Shift! Well I know that now you've said it, see. Ta! :)
  6.  
    ctg

    ctg weaver of the unseen

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    It flows but it gets a bit thick when the dialogue starts. I would cut it a bit but as it's your work, I won't even dare to do my usual gimmicks. Not unless you want them.
  7.  
    J Riff

    J Riff The Ants are my friends..

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    Reads fine here other'n what TJ said- she/Sorrel etc.
    I just glanced at the TV here in macDonalds and in said unemployment in England is at an alltime high and young people are the most affected so hope you can get this published toute suite~ and I can pick it up at Chapters or somewhere to your enrichment...
    Disorientated... that's the English variant of disoriented, I looked it up.)
  8.  
    TheEndIsNigh

    TheEndIsNigh ...Prepare Thyself

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    First off what TJ says about the names - far too much.


    As I said TJ had it right with the names. Personally I found the scenario a little hard to believe. I think you need another person in the room with more knowledge of the politics and surely they would make sure a friendly face was around when a 'dead' person wakes up.

    Sorry if it's not what you wanted, but as usual,

    I hoped I helped

    TEiN
  9.  
    Mouse

    Mouse roar

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    Sorry, just nipping on quickly so can't comment properly and not read everyone's comments yet.

    TEiN, I think you've misread. Sorrel's not dead. The first scene is Millicent, hence her name there - Millicent dies at the end of book two.
  10.  
    TheEndIsNigh

    TheEndIsNigh ...Prepare Thyself

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    Mmm...

    I see where you are coming from.

    However, the

    Millicent Graves knew everything.

    could just as easily be read as Sorrels realisation that Millicent was aware of everything. The more alive now points the reader in that direction IMO (OK, you are the authority on this)

    But, to a new reader, the confusion is possible.

    Looking back, what I really missed is that



    I think this this needs to be more prominent.

    Anyway, point taken.

    Sorry :eek:
  11.  
    Mouse

    Mouse roar

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    No worries! :D I'm pretty sure the little symbol is slightly bigger in my file, and centred, so hopefully won't be missed.

    Thanks for your time, guys! I'm starting to re-write now.

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