Critique-Rewrite-Sapphire Tyrs Excerpt

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Keri

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This is a piece I submitted earlier and just wanted to make sure I'm on the right track with my rewriting editing. I tried to catch all my tense flips, hopefully I have. :)
Prologue – De Tyr Castle
Ciarrai A’styrla shivered as she stared out upon the approaching storm. Tucking her hands deep into the sleeves of her dark blue robe, she tried to ward off the chill coursing through her. Dark black and purple clouds filled the horizon, and jagged flashes of silver lightning danced over the meadows of Tyress. Ciarrai thought how magnificent this play of nature was, yet it was disturbing. Clearly this is not an entirely natural storm, she mused, as her gaze was drawn to the gnarled branches of the Ancient Oak tree in the courtyard.

Blackened and burned it stood, the stink of the fire that had raged along its limbs still permeating the room, over the light flowery smell of scented candles. Biting her lip, she wondered how it was all connected. The storm had started out of a clear blue sky early this afternoon, the strike of the lightning hitting the tree with a loud clash heard throughout the castle. The people had rallied to put out the fire, and the heart tree still lived, but were we quick enough to save the last remnant of the Forest of Evening song.

She sighed and pulled the hood of her robe closer around her face so that only a glimpse of sparkling sapphire eyes could be seen glowing deep within its confines. The courtyard should have been filled with people going about their business Ciarrai thought; instead it was hushed and quiet. The grey cobblestones looked slick and dark with the autumn rains coating them. Across the way the lights from the castles temple windows were flickering, barely casting any glow into the dim night. Shadowy figures could be seen through the temple windows.

The Gods are needed now more then ever now and she sent her own silent plea to Kesair for guidance. Guards were walking their posts along the outer walls and their normally shining silver armor was muted and grey. The Twin towers of the outer keep were outlined darkly against the raging skies.

Ciarrai silently started to stroke the dark velvet drapes with slim elegant fingers, covered with bejeweled rings. Up and down, back and forth, methodically, and without any seeming thought beyond the texture of the material, her fingers glided slowly over the fabric feeling every stitch of embroidery that covered the soft cloth.

A square cut emerald set in band of twisted gold suddenly started to glow softly, emitting a barely audible hum. With a glance behind her, she touched the gem briefly to the window. A face appeared slightly distorted by the glass saying “Greetings sister” “Brother why do you call me? You know the task I must perform tonight. It is dangerous for you to be contacting me. A tempest is brewing!” The lips turned down distinctly in reply “Sister you know me better, I would not contact you if the situation was not dire. The storm rages here too, and Antarra was found dead this morning” “Dire tidings indeed brother, thank you for conveying it, this could change everything. I’ll contact you later, this taxes me too much for what must be done.” Said Ciarrai and with a gesture of dismissal the window faded, once again showing the bleak courtyard outside. She looked out but was no longer really seeing, her thoughts turned inward.
Even had Ciarrai been carefully observing the courtyard, though, it is unlikely she would have seen the dark creature crouched against the burned trunk of the oak, watching her. Hatred burned in its eyes as it glared up at the window where Ciarrai stood. Flexing long dark claws it dreamed of sinking them deep and slashing. The Master had ordered it to observe though and it feared disobeying more then its desire for blood.

Feeling that cold hatred but not knowing its source Ciarrai wrapped her arms around herself to ward off the chill. Behind her a figure rounded and heavy with child paced and said with fond exasperation “Ciarrai come sit near the fire where it is warm. I’ve been talking and I don’t think you’ve heard a word I’ve said”

Distracted from the seriousness of her thoughts Ciarrai turned and smiled warmly, saying with a chuckle “I get to watch you wear holes in your good Selvokan rugs then Tarali?” Walking slowly across the room with elegant grace, Ciarrai perched on the edge of a tapestry chair. Feeling a bit of warmth again, she watched Tarali as she restlessly crossed the room again. Tarali looked down at her and shook a finger in mild reproach “Leave it to you to think of my flooring at a time like this!

Twining a long dark curl, that was peeping from the edge of her cowl, slowly around her finger, Ciarrai lost in thought, appeared to listen patiently as Tarali continued her diatribe. She came back abruptly as Tarali said: “and frankly I couldn’t stand their predictions of doom and gloom, so I sent them all away. I think to settle the atmosphere tonight, we could have that gorgeous Bard form Lveness grace us with a song or two at dinner.”

Suddenly pleased with herself Tarali pulls a silken cord with golden tassels. Shuddering with distaste at the thought of having the overly lewd Bard attempt what he called singing again, Ciarrai was about to reply when a pale blonde girl entered the room and dropped immediately into a deep curtsy. Darting an apprehensive glance at Ciarrai she stammers “You did call Milady?” A fleeting frown crosses Tarali’s face as she hears the stammer and sees the clear fear of Ciarrai written in the girls face. Anyone not knowing Tarali well would not have seen it, but Ciarrai is clearly aware that her friend is mildly upset. “Mina we will have some Ven’lassen red for our guest and spiced cider for myself and please have the minstrel informed his services will be required at dinner.” orders Tarali who now is clearly frowning at Mina who still hasn’t risen and is shaking visibly.

“Child please go see about our drinks” says Tarali in a quiet tone that makes Mina jump suddenly from her curtsey and run to the door. Tarali watching the hurried exit stifles a sigh of both discomfort and exasperation as she rubs her back unselfconsciously.
Ciarrai settles back into the chair and says “I think when your fluttery maid comes back you’ll need to inform her that you won’t be attending dinner. If you’re hungry I suggest you have a tray brought up.” Placing her hands on her hips with a smirk Tarali quips “Oh I know the Bard is lamentable with his penchant for tragic ballads but that doesn’t mean I should keep to myself like some solitary mages I know. I trust you do have a good reason why I should forego the pleasantries of dinner tonight?” Ciarrai regards Tarali steadily, her thoughts for a moment drifting back to the news of Antarra. She should have asked how it happened; she had been too concerned about the draining of energies though so it would have to wait. Regarding Tarali seriously she states “The child will be born tonight.” Her hands suddenly going to her mouth in dismay Tarali mutters “You are mistaken the midwives have all said it wouldn’t be for another moonday. I’m not ready to have the babe tonight, surely it is an ill omen given the events of the day.” Listening quietly as Tarali rants she ponders that after waiting for so long to finally conceive that her friend appears not ready yet to give birth.
 

Commonmind

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Well Keri, I have to say, having read your other pieces, this is very well-done. The description painted a very tangible picture for me, and I was really absorbed in the character's surroundings. I only have a couple critiques. First, it isn't always necessary to use phrases like, "she thought," "she mused," when you're writing from the character's point of view. Leave them if you like, as they aren't really mistakes. I just find that as you read several pages of a novel the constant reminder that your listening to a character's thoughts can draw you out of the story. As long as the thought makes sense as such, and doesn't read like normal prose (which it shouldn't) it will come across fine without any added description. (If you would like to draw some attention to it, or separate it from the main body of a paragraph, italicizing works well.)

The other bit of advice: you've got quite a bit of description going on there, and more often than not everyone makes the mistake of "overdoing" it (I'm the despot of overdoing it, trust me, I know). This little bit to follow just sounded a bit like fluff to me; the rest of the piece was really in good taste though:

Ciarrai silently started to stroke the dark velvet drapes with slim elegant fingers, covered with bejeweled rings. Up and down, back and forth, methodically, and without any seeming thought beyond the texture of the material, her fingers glided slowly over the fabric feeling every stitch of embroidery that covered the soft cloth.

Maybe just shorten it a bit, if you're intent on keeping this picture in the story...

Ciarrai's rings glistened while her elegant fingers stroked the dark velvet drapes, feeling the texture of the material, the soft ridges of the embroidery.

Either way Keri, I do feel this is quite a bit better than what you posted before. Very, very good work. Thanks for sharing it :) More...
 

Keri

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Thanks for the advice Commonmind it is really appreciated. I'm eagerly waiting for more of your work. :) I had been debating removing some of the "she thought" etc.

I started out though with way too much dialogue in my first draft and it was difficult at first to tell whom was talking, so I believe I overdid it.

I do see what you mean by the "drape" passage is a little fluffy. It is more of a transition line to show where shes at when the communication comes in. I definately want to keep it, because it helps with the flow going into the communication I feel, though I agree it can be tidied up.

Thanks again

Keri
 

Commonmind

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My pleasure :)

I've finished what I believe to be the final draft of my fantasy novel and threw it into a drawer to rest for a few months. Next thing I post is going to be from my children's book, if you're open to reading something for a younger audience I'd love to get some input.
 

Keri

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Certainly would love to give some. Ironic I just wrote a little rhyming story for my nephews for Christmas with pictures from our vacation this year. It has a very strange Night Before Christmas meets Dr. Seuss feel to it. My nephews loved it that was all that mattered to me *grin*
 

Commonmind

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hehe. My niece just hits me on the top of the head with a doll when I try reading her stories.
 

Keri

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Sapphire Tyrs is also a working title. Do you like it? Does it generate interest.
 

Commonmind

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I actually like it quite a bit; it's unique and unlike anything I see on the shelf when I go to the book store.
 

John Jarrold

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Interesting, certainly. Who do you think your writing could be compared to, when you submit it to book publishers? And there are still some tense changes, so look out for them! In general terms, dialogue from a new character should be in a new paragraph, too, rather than just running on.
 

Keri

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I've never really compared it to anyone elses writing, or thought it similiar. I read daily, a variety of genres and I know that has been a great influence to me.

I enjoy reading/writing frist and foremost and second I try to look at what I love and hate about other Authors so I can improve upon what I do.

For setting a scene and beautiful imagery some of my favorites are: Anne Rice, Laurell K. Hamilton, and Guy Gavriel Kay.

Then I love a little humor thrown in: Scott Lynch, David Eddings and some of the things Jordan does just tickle my funny bone.

One of the first fantasy novels I read as a young girl was a Dragonlance Novel where they used the spell Featherfall and it actually was feathers they landed in, instead of the normal DnD connotation for that spell.

For making you become emotionally attached to a characters: George R. R. Martin.

Various other authors too, each one makes you feel something or has done something well. Certainly some are more well written then others but each has the unique gift of storytelling in their own way.

What I aspire to is to write something enjoyable, that you'll not want to put down, because you have to know what happens next.
 
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Phil Brown

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"I tried to catch all my tense flips, hopefully I have." No you haven't. You start out in the past tense but then revert to the present at "Suddenly pleased with herself Tarali pulls a silken cord with golden tassels" for no apparent reason. Then there's a few changes of tense before you settle down to the present. It's not hard to correct this kind of thing. Just go through it and concentrate on every verb, checking the tense.
 
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Phil Brown

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"A fleeting frown crosses Tarali’s face as she hears the stammer and sees the clear fear of Ciarrai written in the girls face. " The point of view suddenly changes here. Up to now it has been with Ciarrai but suddenly we flip into Tarali's thoughts. I think it's important to control POV to make sure the reader can identify strongly with a single character in a single plotpoint.
 

Phil Brown

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It's not really clear what question the reader should be asking herself during this chapter. What will happen to the tempest? What action must Ciarrai perform tonight? What will the dark creature do? Will the baby be born tonight and why does it matter. There are a lot of narrative threads all mixed up and we don't really know which one we should be worrying about. Each thread needs to be introduced separately and teased out, building up the tension. Then we can really get frightened!
 

Keri

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Thank you very much, all excellent points.
This is of course just an excerpt of my prologue and most the scene questions here are related tied together. I was hoping I tied them all with the rest of prologue but perhaps I'm just trying to get too much information out there too soon. I'll see about addressing that.

Thank you for pointing out some of the tense switches and the POV change.
 

Keri

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Upon review I think perhaps it can be reworded but I didnt change POV. It clearly states in next sentence that Ciarrai is observing her friends reaction.
 

emburmak

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Great piece! It has a few errors but the other posters have highlighted them. With this level of writing your work is good enough for reading off the shelf.
if I have gripe is that you dwell quite a lot on the little things. Carriari is doing too many minor things that frankly do not move the story forward. Artistically it is great but one could get bogged down. I found myself wondering about sighing, pulling clothes, shivering, tucking hands etc.

I take it this scene is from C's POV? If so, I found myself being lost between the competing feelings of C & T.

An example with highlights--Suddenly pleased with herself Tarali pulls a silken cord with golden tassels.

And the very next sentence we have a POV jump--Shuddering with distaste at the thought of having the overly lewd Bard attempt what he called singing again, Ciarrai was about to reply
The same happens here--

A fleeting frown crosses Tarali’s face as she hears the stammer and sees the clear fear of Ciarrai written in the girls face. Anyone not knowing Tarali well would not have seen it, but Ciarrai is clearly aware that her friend is mildly upset. Tarali watching the hurried exit stifles a sigh of both discomfort and exasperation as she rubs her back unselfconsciously.

Following both POV's is confusing. The piece left me with the feeling that I was entering a romance story. Maybe b/c is it is awash with 'touchy' 'feely'. It is just my opinion so please take it in good faith.:)
 

Keri

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I'll have to post a drunken brawl then, to try to cure myself, perhaps a nice epic battle. Thanks for the insight Em. Much appreciated. I'll work on rewrite number three :)

Keri
 

Talysia

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I enjoyed reading this. You have a good way with description, and it paints a very clear picture when reading. Nicely done!
 
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