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The battle in the Zelenor forests - prologue

Discussion in 'Critiques' started by P. R. D., May 13, 2008.

    P. R. D.

    P. R. D. Such a charming lad!

    Apr 3, 2008
    Geek on the outside, idiot on the inside! :)
    Two tall dark figures were walking through the forests of Zelenor.

    The trees, just like those figures, were thin and square-shouldered, sticking up, and throwing dark shadows. The moon, right above them, was hidden in a blanket of pure gray clouds. There were a few spots in the sky, where the stars were visible and their shining was almost compensating the moon's absence.

    „Those mighty pines mark the end of our territories,“ said the first black silhouette.“We reached the end of your state, my Lord.“

    „Quite an adventure, my dear Pip,“ replied the second dark figure, „for my state is the biggest in the whole continent.“

    „Perhaps the whole world, my Lord!“

    „Perhaps,“ replied the second dark figure, and as the clouds moved a little, the moon appeared and lit up a big crown on his head. „To be honest with you, Pip, I've never been to Zelenor before.“

    „But, sir, those are the most famous lands of your kingdom!“

    „Indeed,“ whispered the lord. „That's why I asked you to come with me here.“

    The two silhouettes continued walking toward one wide glade, a hundred feet away from them. Their steps were fast and stealthy, their breathing monotonous, their faces completely invisible. They reached the glade in a few seconds. The moonlit boots of the lord made two deep footprints in one puddle of mud.

    „The battle will begin in only a few hours.“ The first dark figure sounded a little frightened. A tiny line of steam came out of his mouth. „You shouldn't be here, sir. Let's return to the castle, the carriage is still waiting for us out of the forests.“

    The man with the crown nodded. They turned around and disappeared into the thick of the nearest wood.

    The eastern horizon blazed, as if the dark skies left this place immediately after the two men. Hundreds of birds started singing their songs, some melodies were very high and others were very low, but all of them were in a perfect harmony. Many new shadows came with the brighter light and many faded. Only the clouds were still up in the sky and now they looked much darker. It was about to rain this morning, and many puddles were about to appear, puddles of water-- and puddles of blood.

    The battle between the biggest states in the known lands had been the most terrifying nightmare for the last two centuries. The southern kingdom, also called The kingdom of the black swordsman or Dredal had declared war on the northern kingdom, also known as The kingdom of the three phoenixes – Brivindol. Now, the time had come for the battle of all the ages to take place in the hug of Zelenor.

    The songs of the birds were completely swallowed by thousands of other sounds: rattles of shields and armor, ringing of swords, shouting, and something like hollow praying. Soon every forest creature was forced to run away by the knights, who had come in the wide green glade. Those were the noble armies of Brivindol.

    They were many, maybe one thousand men and women with shiny metal panoply. They had all kinds of weapons: spears, war axes, giant swords and bows-- a lot of bows. At least half the people were archers. There were about a hundred horsemen and only a few wizards.

    The warlocks were standing right next to one big man, whose outfit was making him look dark even during the day. He had big crown on his head and two giant metal boots. The king. They were all waiting for the enemy to come.

    However, that's not where our story begins. There will be no epic battles, nor ultimate fights between strong heroes and kings. Not yet.

    The story begins in Dredal, ten days before the war, where a young peasant would discover things, that would change the world's history forever.


    I was about to name it "Excercise 2", but decided to take your advices and came up with this. I hope I'm improving. :)

    Ruin Determined inevitability

    May 12, 2008
    Well I like having a look see...

    I think that this opening could do without the specification, perhaps making it more general, such as "through the woods/trees". Leave specifics to character speech, the description is for making an atmosphere, so unless the reader would be able to see it's Zelenor through being with them, I would avoid it.
    Standing straight?
    Of sky?

    Figure? Unless he is framed by light or such.

    Largest, unless this is a specific mannerism of his.

    Big is something to avoid unless it's in speech or thoughts. Perhaps "large", "looming" or "sizable" would be more effective, depending on the atmosphere you need.

    A wide glade? As you didn't specify a larger number beforehand.

    Flee may have been a better term.

    Maybe too specific, although the narrator is omniscient, you wish to emerse the reader in the action, not give them a run through of evens like a military debrief. You may wish to simplify things, making them a "miriad of weapons", "many archers", "clusters of cavalry, wizards lighting the field with their magics."

    Overall looks promising, I quite like the idea it is in fact the end of the novel, and you then go on to travel backwards in time, rather then vice versa. The main point is in the lack of descriptive phrases (I unfortunately suffer the opposite, having too many!), and the inadequacy of some words. Deepening descriptions and using a thesaurus may help these along. Good luck!

    AlexM Trying to Write

    May 11, 2008
    Well no offence but your opening line is weak, you need a better one fo' sure! and also:

    - Whoa trees have shoulders now!?

    anyway looks good but is this story revolving around one battle which is started in this first chapter?


    P. R. D.

    P. R. D. Such a charming lad!

    Apr 3, 2008
    Geek on the outside, idiot on the inside! :)
    I'm not sure but I think it's a good metaphor. You can picture the bigger heads of the trees with a set of words that actually describe the characters. Looked like a good idea in the first place :).

    Anyway, thank you. Both of you.

    RcGrant Loves semi-colons

    Dec 2, 2007
    For what it's worth, I quite like the simile. Maybe not for right at the start, but it certainly caught my attention.

    I'd modify it though.
    So it reads:

    The trees, like the figures, were thin and square-shouldered, and threw dark shadows.

    In fact, I'd probably rearrange the whole sentence, but then I am really picky and spend a long time rearranging what I write. And I'd probably erase the parts about the weather, unless you consider them imperative.

    I'll comment on the rest after dinner. ;)

    RcGrant Loves semi-colons

    Dec 2, 2007
    I agree with the person above: the line is very weak for a first. And really, who cares if they are either tall or dark?

    Already mentioned the first line in my post above.

    The moon generally is above, so I'd condense this sentence: the moon was hidden...

    Erase 'pure'

    Consider choosing another word instead of the generic blanket.

    The last sentence has no conviction. Few? Almost? State your position and stand by it.

    I'm not sure what's going on with your speech marks at the start of your dialogue.

    Erase 'black'
    'second dark figure' will get old very quickly.

    'come here with me'

    The first line of dialogue here sounds very forced. Does he really speak this way?

    We know there are two by now.

    a wide glade?

    Do you need the second line at all? Why?

    Or the third?

    Or the fourth?

    Steam? Is he a kettle? Smoking? What?

    'waiting for us.' - erase what comes after.

    I like the idea of the first line, but it sounds awkward. Perhaps something like: 'The eastern horizon blazed as the dark skies chased the men'. Alright, so that's a pretty poor example, but hopefully you get what I mean. Be more direct; it reads better.

    I like the idea of the birds too, though perhaps you have described it too much. A little too Disney-ish, perhaps.

    New shadows? Old shadows? What?

    'It was about to rain' (erase 'this morning')
    'and many puddles appeared'

    Again, you seem to be avoiding making a conviction.

    'had been a nightmare for...'

    'The Kingdom of the Black Swordsman (or Dredal) had declared...'

    'also known as The Kingdom of the Three Phoenixes (Brivindol).'

    Hug of Zelenor? This sticks out like a sore thumb. Ouch.

    Can something be partially swallowed? Surely that lead to choking? So therefore erase 'completely'.

    Something like hollow praying? So not hollow praying itself? And what IS hollow praying?

    'The knights, who had come into the green glade had forced every forest creature to run away'

    Erase shiny
    Do we need to know they had a lot of bows? You listed a lot of weapons so the implication would be there are a lot of weapons anyway.

    A big man (find a better word than big)
    'whose outfit made him'
    'he had a crown on his head'
    If he is big we assume his boots are big too...

    If the story doesn't begin with this, then why on earth are you telling us? This could work later on, but the start is so vital that these just seems like a lot of teasing.
    The second line is pretty much a cliche.

    Change history? But history has already happened, so...is this a time-change novel? Or...perhaps the perception of history has been changed, on the strength of these 'things'?

    To conclude, you've clearly made an effort, but I think it would really benefit from you not just looking at the story, but also at the words you are using to tell the story. Be more confident in the words you use - take the direct approach. :)

    Hope that helps!

    JDP Never told a lie. Ever.

    Apr 2, 2007
    JDP's current whereabouts are unknown, but reports
    The first line could be given a little more oomph just by changing the tense a little, to something like:

    Two tall, dark figures walked through the forests of Zelenor.

    or even

    Two tall, dark figures walked the forests of Zelenor.

    'Were walking' is (I think) passive voice. This removes the reader from what is happening, reducing their involvement. The second example has a more 'olde worlde' feel to it, I think.

    daisybee New Member

    Mar 26, 2007
    I think your imagery is good- I like the trees being square shouldered.

    The first line is just a bit of a non line-JDP is right though it can esaily be tweaked I reckon to capture the attention more.

    How about combining the lines?

    Something like-

    The trees were thin and square-shouldered, tall enough to obscure the moon and dark clouds from view, as two figures threaded through the forest; stick like in stature and half lit by stars. (ish):)

    The place is named later-when needed, so personally I wouldn't share it in the opening sentence.

    Very atmospheric in tone which I like.
    Mandorin Anamor

    Mandorin Anamor Bodybuilding book addict.

    Jan 1, 2007
    Hi, nice ideas. I'm not particularly qualified to comment on grammar, and that's being optimistic about my abilities, but I have noticed your sporadic liking of commas.
    Though someone may point out and correct me that the commas are placed in correct grammatical lcoations, they do disrupt the flow of your imagery,e specially in the first paragraph, remember there is no harm in letting the reader continue without a breath for a little while, sentences dont always have to be short or long, writing literature, especially fantasy is more about imagery and feel.
    Its good work though, and could be made instantly better by a few small alterations.
    regards. Tim

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