Crossing Paths, prologue pt 1

Discussion in 'Critiques' started by Kiercoria99, May 4, 2011.


    Kiercoria99 New Member

    Apr 29, 2011
    Hi All,
    Thanks for the taking the time and effort. All comments are appreciated! :)

    Everyone stared as we rode into camp. Hands froze mid-movement as if danger approached; conversations died on the breeze between lip and ear; eyes followed our measured progress. Ka’Lexonur, my Ma’Aanar and one of the most esteemed Balancers, nodded to those he passed. I kept my eyes straight ahead.

    After two turnings of solid travel north, through the grassy plains of the Middle Western region of Se’Leia, our two mounts snorted and stamped, anxious to be relieved of their cargo now that the goal had been reached. We continued up the road, towards the northern end of the makeshift camp the first contingent of Balancers had set up four turnings ago. Light crystals illuminated the tents bordering the road. Campfires and sleeping rolls dotted the matted terrain behind them. The last crescent of a blood orange sun splashed the encampment as it sank below the horizon.

    Ka’ motioned to an open area – a small hollow under a broad-leafed holibok tree. The trees peppered this landscape like bent old men with rumpled, grayed-out hair. We dismounted. The man who’d been pacing after us stepped forward, and offered to see to our mounts. His loose-fitting, half-sleeve shirt, breeches and hunting bow confirmed he was a villager - a grazer most likely given his four fingered hand.

    I declined his offer, wanting to see to the animals’ care myself. He gazed at the two hilts protruding above my shoulders and half bowed as he stepped back. As Ka’ and I removed our gear, the villager seized each bag and bundle until his arms were festooned like a harvest swain after the final reaping. I managed to secure my light crystal, hairbrush, and the location of a grazing area before he hustled down into the depression, Ka’ trailing after him.

    “Na’Thaalya,” Ka’, called over his shoulder, “Don’t be too long.”

    The grassy clearing was northeast, less than a tract from camp. A few ulcanoes from the two contingents remained. Our mounts joined them and began grazing. I dawdled over their care, using my hairbrush to curry out their matted fur. I was stalling the inevitable. Leaning against their warm, solid flanks, I thanked them for their help, tucked the hairbrush in my belt, and left to rejoin Ka’.

    He stood within a small group of Balancers on the road outside one of the dining tents. Even though I’d seen my fellow tyros and trainers six turnings ago, they looked different to me. The second sword on the other newly designated Balancers was obvious. The darting glances and uneasy movements were less visible, but far more telling, in the final dregs of sunlight. I put my crystal away and trudged over to where Ka’ conversed with Su’ Shalith. Currently in his male form, he was another Ma’Aanar, and like Ka’, a member of the Council. Bo’Lel, Su’s former student, was noticeably absent.

    Could he be too ashamed to face us?
    That isn’t like him.
    He’d be the first to examine it.
    And we would have loved unsheathing it beneath his nose.
    How disappointing.
    We were looking forward to seeing him again. Even under these circumstances.
    Or because of them.

    Su’ studied the two hilts that jutted above my back. His tongue flicked out and his nostrils flared. He looked down the row of tents before addressing me. “We’re convening a meeting in five breath cycles to decide how we will proceed.” There was an uncomfortable silence.
    “You’d prefer to decide my fate without me?”
    “You have every right to be there,” Ka’ said, stepping closer to me. “There’s something you need to know.”
    “I will abide by any decision made,” I said to the group. Turning to Su’ I said, “I am here to serve.” Whatever they were expecting, that wasn’t it. “Your message said that their point of entry is through a pit of some kind and you have an invaders’ corpse. I’d like to see these things,” I said, clasping my hands behind my back.
    “Bre’ will take you,” Su’ said, motioning to the shadows beyond the tent. The same villager who’d offered to see to our ulcanoes stepped forward.
    “You are a man of many uses, it seems. Lead on.” Bre’ smiled lopsidedly, pointed in a vague northwesterly direction, and headed off.

    slack within the depths

    Jan 29, 2011
    The writing is sparse in areas, and lacking description. For example, 'Everyone stared as we rode into camp.' I don't get a clear picture of what everyone refers to, nor can I visualize the camp beyond a basic, and somewhat stereotypical notion. First paragraph struck me as a good opportunity to set the scene and create atmosphere, but instead it is rather weak because the writing is too general.

    'After two turnings of solid travel north through the grassy plains of Se'Leia' reads better. 'Middle Western' struck me as too precise, too slow. I'd argue that most readers probably wouldn't care.

    For the most this is well written. It kept my attention, but it did not pull me in. I think that is mostly because it moves too slow. Maybe toy around with the structure. Dialogue, or something that clarifies why they are where they are, within the first four paragraphs -- for the reader's sake. Right now it's all within the bottom 1/4.
    A. S. Behsam

    A. S. Behsam I'm Aty :)

    Apr 12, 2011
    Hi! How a
    Last edited: May 4, 2011
    A. S. Behsam

    A. S. Behsam I'm Aty :)

    Apr 12, 2011
    Hi! How are you!? :)

    Well, I think this can be a very good prologue, but this version needs work. You should add to it. It can be the very first idea or image of this scene in your head, and now you have to add more descriptions, and probably some dialogs and then write them down. Don't go into details that are for/of the world you're putting down, because it would bore the readers. Instead try to put some common details to make the setting feel familiar.

    What you need to do first, precisely, is to omit the stranger words; the words that only belong to your story. Add some description (especially the beginning), and some dialogs that can give a very slight idea of why these guys are here, what they're after, or even whether they are allowed to be here or not. Something to give the reader a reason to read more.

    Additionally, I'm gonna do a full preview for the first paragraph.

    I hope it was helpful, and I'd like to read the revised version. :)
    Good luck.

    (If there are mistakes in my full review, sorry in advance. :) )

    Kiercoria99 New Member

    Apr 29, 2011
    Thanks to you both. I've read it so many times I can't see it straight (or outside my own vision), so your eyes are invaluable to me.

    chrispenycate resident pedantissimo Staff Member

    Aug 10, 2005
    I too dislike two semicolons in one sentence, but find the "comma – and" solution too lightweight. I would suggest (nothing more, only one opinion) putting full stops between each of the segments, so the silences fall like lead blocks.
    Oh, quibble, fine, everyone will understand; it isn't the camp that's sinking below the horizon.
    I'd try and combine the previous sentences into one.
    Don't need that comma
    Present tense?
    Suggest pluperfect for this phrase (We had been), as the main story is past tense. And you know the second and third blocks are fragments, it's deliberate? Great.
    singular (invader's) I assume
    As you might know, I specialise in punctuation and grammar, and you really don't need help in this.

    TheEndIsNigh ...Prepare Thyself

    Mar 16, 2008

    I can be picky.

    R Remove
    B comments
    G suggestions

    All opinions only

    I think the measurment of time passing is a bit jarring, turnings, breaths etc.

    Like other's have said it get's interesting but only at the end.

    You could try putting a lot of the dialog at the begining and then describe the arrival as they walk towards the prisoner - the connection could be this villager chap.

    As in :-

    I'd seen him before when we first arrived...

    Hope I helped


    Kiercoria99 New Member

    Apr 29, 2011
    Thank you Crispenycate and TEiN!
    C - that's probably the first time anyone's said my punctuation was okay (lucky it was a small slice) :) And your quibble is notable and correct and funny.
    TEiN - I'm not sure what you mean by <-. I've been wrestling with my time and distance system - if it's worth the bother of keeping it or not. Perhaps others will also have an opinion.
    J Riff

    J Riff The Ants are my friends..

    Apr 11, 2010
    Unless there is a special reason for them, the names will turn some readers off. Ma'Aanar is too much for them. Using Ka', with the apostrophe every time is a little distracting.

    Chaoticheart In chaos I find truth

    Apr 17, 2011
    I kind of agree. Ma'Aanar is a title right? Perhaps you should explain briefly it's meaning.

    Could you explain the naming scheme?

    As I read through the piece, it seemed to me that the portion of the name before the apostrophe would be a family/clan name, or perhaps even something to do with class/role in the society rather than the name they are known by to those close to them. So to me it seemed rather odd seeing Ka'Lexonur being referred to as just Ka', when presumably he would be known as Lexonur to those close to him and Ka'Lexonur to everyone else.

    Of course without understanding the full world, I could be completely off base, but that's the sense I got from reading it.

    Anyway, apart from my confusion regarding the names, I quite enjoyed it.

    Mouse cowabunga!

    Jun 2, 2006
    I completely agree with the Riff meister. The names are too much. I'm okay with a couple (I've used Hok'ee [FONT=verdana,arial,sans-serif]myself Navajo name meaning "abandoned"[/FONT]) but more than one or two and it makes me skim read.

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