Part 1 - Legend of the Last Vilar (1086 words)

Tawariell

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Well, we've made it. I've finally reached the magical 30! I'm excited to share a part of my story with you guys. This is the beginning of the first chapter. Please, let me know your thoughts (especially on the punctuations!), if anything weird/strange stands out to you, or if something doesn't feel right. I'm thick-skinned, so be as gentle or as harsh as you please. ALL critique/feedback will be much appreciated :)


Chapter 1

"Damn you, Ethan!" I hissed when my sword was being knocked out of my hands with such force that it almost twisted my wrists.

"Come on, Squeak," the young man chuckled while lowering his own sword and grinning at me contently. "Were you not the one begging me for a rematch?"

"Seriously—" I snarled as I picked up my sword from the ground, pointing it at the man in front of me. "Stop... Calling.... Me... Squeak!" I lunged at him and swung the blade at his legs, but he deflected my attack with such ease that it made him laugh even harder.

"Grace, just give up already." Ethaniel kicked at my legs and gave a firm push at my shoulder, making me fall back hard on the damp grass. "You
are no match for me."

I lifted my gaze to meet Ethaniel's grey eyes and I could see the confidence glistering in them. He was way too confident for his own bloody good...
I quickly rolled to the side and jumped back to my feet, lifting my sword, and pointing it at him once again. "I will not let you get away with it — not this time."

Ethaniel simply laughed at my words and took a step closer to me, holding his own sword casually in the palm of his right hand. "Well, what are you waiting for then?"

I narrowed my eyes and tightened my grip on the hilt of my sword, trying hard to hold up the heavy blade as steady as I could. This particular sword was too long and too heavy for my tiny posture, but right now all I could think of was wanting to see Ethaniel’s smug face buried in the dirt beneath our feet.

I took a quick step towards him and swung my blade at his right flank. He simply deflected my attack and a triumphant smile grew upon his face. I took another step and swung it at his left flank. He deflected again, his smirk growing even wider. I took a third step and punched him right in the face.

"Shrew!" Ethaniel exclaimed while dropping his sword and lifting his hands to his nose, his smug expression finally gone. "That is cheating!"

"How is that cheating?!" I spat back at him. I couldn't help myself from feeling quite proud of my little achievement. It was rare for me to beat Ethaniel when it came to duelling, but whenever I did, I would feel incredibly pleased with myself, for I knew how much he hated to lose. Especially to me...

"This is fencing," Ethaniel growled at me, letting go of his nose and staring down at my face in anger. "You are supposed to use your sword!"

I simply shrugged my shoulders. "I didn't know it mattered how one wins a fight," I responded while turning around and walking to the side of the training field where I placed the sword back in one of the wooden racks.

"There is no honour in winning a fight by punching one in the face," the young man huffed as he followed me, placing his own sword in the weapons rack.

"You only say that because you were caught off guard," I chuckled while looking up at his pale face. I smiled when I noticed the annoyed expression on it. "Are you upset with me?"

Ethaniel instantly hooked his grey eyes with mine. "Of course not. How could I ever?" A warm and genuine smile suddenly covered his young face, and I could see dimples form in his cheeks. I quietly admired them.

Ethaniel was a tall young man with a face that the ladies here at the castle seemed to quite fancy: His dark hair was rough and untamed, barely reaching his shoulders. His complexion was overall pale, but tiny freckles would cover his high and straight nose whenever he would spend too much time training in the sun. He had a strong jawline, high cheekbones, and a thin but wide mouth. He didn't have much of a beard, which left him looking quite youthful.

"A grimace does not suit you, Dimples."

Ethaniel chuckled at his new nickname, turning his warm smile into a mischievous grin. "You think I'm handsome, do you not?" He placed his hand on the wooden rack beside him, leaning against it in the most casual but ravishing way that only he could. He was right.... he was indeed annoyingly well favoured. "I knew you'd come to fall for me someday."

"Oh please," I murmured, rolling my eyes at him and turning myself towards the weapons rack again, suddenly having lost the urge to admire his face. "As if I'd ever fall for a doxy like yourself."

"I'm not a doxy!" he defended.

I raised my eyebrows at him. "You honestly ought me to believe that you've never slept with a woman in your life?"

Ethaniel pressed his lips together.

"See— you are a doxy."

"And you're a prude!"

I stopped organizing the swords and turned to face him. Ethaniel was much taller than I was, which made me have to tilt back my head as far as I possibly could so I could look him in the eye. "Some of us actually intend to wait for marriage," I said, not exactly hurt by his choice of words.

He scrunched his face at this. "Sometimes you're such an elf."

Okay, this actually did hurt me.

"Because I am an elf!" I spat back, furrowing my eyebrows.

This made him grin. "Half-elf," he corrected me, and this time I was the one pressing my lips together.

Being called an elf wasn't an insult per se, but the fact that Ethaniel had used it in this particular situation, left me feeling bad about it. I knew how much he despised Elves, like most Men did, for their history wasn't a very pleasant one and they didn't particularly see eye to eye anymore.

He rarely ever brought up my elven-blood, and whenever he did, he always used it in a negative context. He probably didn't do it on purpose, for he would never intentionally hurt my feelings, but I guess he never truly understood how hard it must have been for me to be torn between the hatred the two races held for one another. And even though I should've hated Men more than anyone else — I simply couldn't bring myself to do so. How could someone like Ethaniel be blamed for something his ancestors had done?
 
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The Judge

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I don't have time for a critique now, Tawariell, but I'll try and have a good look at this over the weekend. (Though I have to confess that I'm not a fan of YA which this reads to me as, and personally I prefer openings to be rather more gripping than this appears to be.)

However, it looks like the forum software has ripped out your formatting, which has led to a wall of text here, which may well put people off helping you in the meantime. I've therefore edited it for you to incorporate a line's space between each paragraph which should help (though I had to guess once or twice where the para ended, so apologies if I got it wrong).
 

Flaviosky

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He deflected again, his smirk growing even wider
This duel sure has short sentences to give it speed, but I feel that the descriptions make it lose pace, especially when insisting on Ethaniel's arrogant attitude which you already lay out at the beginning.

"There is no honour in winning a fight by punching one in the face," the young man huffed as he followed me, placing his own sword in the weapons rack.
I find it weird to have Ethaniel adressed as "the young man" when it's first person and they already know themselves quite well.

Ethaniel was a tall young man with a face that the ladies here at the castle seemed to quite fancy: His dark hair was rough and untamed, barely reaching his shoulders. His complexion was overall pale, but tiny freckles would cover his high and straight nose whenever he would spend too much time training in the sun. He had a strong jawline, high cheekbones, and a thin but wide mouth. He didn't have much of a beard, which left him looking quite youthful.
This description feels like a chunk of exposition delivered to the reader, and I find it a bit unnatural to the feeling of the novel. My personal taste for physical descriptions is to chop them and mention key elements if they add something to the rest

Ethaniel was much taller than I was, which made me have to tilt back my head as far as I possibly could so I could look him in the eye
This is exactly what I was talking about, so it's rather redundant to have it in the first paragraph (unless his's lenght is something very important in the story)

He scrunched his face at this. "Sometimes you're such an elf."

Okay, this actually did hurt me.

"Because I am an elf!" I spat back, furrowing my eyebrows.

This made him grin. "Half-elf," he corrected me, and this time I was the one pressing my lips together.
I enjoyed these lines quite a bit. You can feel this playful tension between them, and makes me wanna know more about how this relationship unfolds.

The last paragraph though, feels a bit sudden. Nothing before it would suggest there's actually a race issue between elves and humans, and considering the characters involved, it is something very important that I'd rather have explained more naturally than just have the protagonist shove it off in a couple of lines. Seems the clasic issue between "Show vs Tell".

I'd love to see some context at the end, and descriptions of the environment and the atmosphere, to have a glimpse of the scenario in which this conflict is taking place. Are they rich, are they poor? It's an urban or rural setting? It's peace, it's war? That'd be a nice thing to know to better understand the interaction between the characters.

But as I said, I'd gladly read more about how Grace and Ethaniel follow on :)
 

sule

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My main problem with this passage is that we aren't given any idea of where this is taking place, at least in terms of their immediate surroundings. Is it a small dueling ring, or a large practice area? Is it outside, or inside? These are small details, but they really would have made it easier for me to immerse myself in the story.

I agree with Flaviosky that the paragraph of physical description effectively stops the story in its tracks, and that the pacing of the story would feel better if you took the important bits and peppered them in at the right places. (I personally would start by taking the entire paragraph out and reading through to see if the story is missing anything without it)

I didn't think that the human-elf exposition was by itself too much "telling," but it did feel like it came out of nowhere (especially considering that it hadn't even been hinted before that these characters were two different species) and it also seems to get in the way of the story. The last paragraph specifically feels like something that would run through the protagonist's mind after the fact, when she was ruminating over her argument with Ethan, and not something that she would think about during said argument.

One really specific quibble that I had:
I took a third step and punched him right in the face.
Ethaniel was much taller than I was, which made me have to tilt back my head as far as I possibly could so I could look him in the eye.
The way this height discrepancy is described makes it seem like he's at least a foot taller than her. It seems to me that it just wouldn't be possible for her to punch him in the face (specifically in the nose) that easily; whether it is or not, I was pulled out of the story while puzzling over this supposed paradox.

I think you've got a good start to your story, and I enjoyed the rapport between Grace and Ethan. While I wasn't entirely sure what their relationship was (it seemed like they were childhood friends?), I understood that they were very close from their conversations/arguments. Keep writing.
 

Droflet

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Right. Drof cracks knuckles.

I don’t read or write YA. So I’m not a member of your target audience.

This is your book so take what I say as suggestions, that you may accept or reject as you please.




"Damn you, Ethan!" I hissed when my sword was being knocked out of my hands with such force that it almost twisted my wrists.


It feels forced. And that description, without a comma, is too long.

Try showing instead of telling:



I hissed as my sword was struck from my hand. The blow hit me with such force that it almost twisted my wrist.

“Damn you.”

Ethan chuckled while lowing his sword.

“Come on Squeak,” he said around a grin. “You’re the one who begged me for a rematch.”







"Come on, Squeak," the young man he chuckled while lowering his own sword and grinning at me contently. "Were you not the one begging me for a rematch?"

"Seriously—" I snarled as I picked up my sword from the ground, ah, where else would it be?

pointing it at the young man in front of me. "Stop... Calling.... Me... Squeak!" I lunged at him and swung the blade at his legs, but he deflected my attack with such ease that it made him laugh even harder.

"Grace, just give up already." To emphasize his obvious dominance, he kicked my legs from under me. I fell back, landing hard on the damp grass.
Ethaniel kicked at my legs and gave a firm push at my shoulder, making me fall back hard on the damp grass. "You are no match for me."

Perhaps you’re instead of you are?? And make up your mind. Ethan or Ethaniel? Except, of course, when she’s making a point and therefore uses his full name. Or, Ethan if she likes him, perhaps? Last point for this section. You’ve identified who is who, Squeak, Grace, and Ethan, or Ethaniel, so you don’t need to labor the point. He, after all, can only refer to Ethan. If you see my point.

I lifted my gaze to meet Ethaniel's grey eyes and I could see the confidence glistering in them. He was way too confident for his own bloody good...
I quickly rolled to the side and jumped back to my feet, lifting my sword, and pointing it at him once again. "I will not let you get away with it — not this time."

Ethaniel simply laughed at my words and took a step closer to me, holding his own sword casually in the palm of his right hand. "Well, what are you waiting for then?"

I narrowed my eyes and tightened my grip on the hilt of my sword, trying hard to hold up the heavy blade as steady as I could. This particular sword was too long and too heavy for my tiny posture, but right now all I could think of was wanting to see was seeing Ethaniel’s smug face buried in the dirt beneath our feet.

I took a quick step towards him and swung my blade at his right flank. He simply deflected my attack and laughed triumphantly. a triumphant smile grew upon his face. I took another step and swung it at his left flank. He deflected again, his smirk growing even wider. I took a third step and punched him right in the face. Now that, I like.

"Shrew!" Ethaniel exclaimed while dropping his sword and lifting his hands to his nose, his smug expression finally gone. "That is cheating!"

"How is that cheating?!" I spat back at him. I couldn't help myself from feeling quite proud of my little achievement. It was rare for me to beat Ethaniel when it came to duelling, but whenever I did, I would feel incredibly pleased with myself, for I knew how much he hated to lose. Especially to me...

"This is fencing," Ethaniel growled at me, letting go of his nose and staring down at my face in anger. "You are supposed to use your sword!"

I simply shrugged my shoulders. "I didn't know it mattered how one wins a fight," I responded while turning around and walking to the side of the training field where I placed the sword back in one of the wooden racks. Again, an overly long run on sentence.

"There is no honour in winning a fight by punching one in the face," the young man huffed as he followed me, placing his own sword in the weapons rack.

"You only say that because you were caught off guard," I chuckled while looking up at his pale face. I smiled when I noticed the annoyed expression on it. "Are you upset with me?"

Ethaniel instantly hooked his grey eyes with mine. "Of course not. How could I ever?" A warm and genuine smile suddenly covered his young face, and I could see dimples form in his cheeks. I quietly admired them.

Ethaniel was a tall young man with a face that the ladies here at the castle seemed to quite fancy. : His dark untamed hair was rough and untamed, barely reached ing his shoulders. Although his complexion was overall pale, but tiny freckles would cover his high, and straight nose whenever he would spend spent too much time training in the sun. He had a strong jawline, high cheekbones, and a thin but wide mouth. A strong jawline and high cheekbones contrasted with his thin, wide mouth. His scraggly excuse for a beard couldn’t disguise his youthful appearance. He didn't have much of a beard, which left him looking quite youthful.

"A grimace does not suit you, Dimples."

Ethaniel chuckled at his new nickname, turning his warm smile into a mischievous grin. "You think I'm handsome, do you not?" He placed his hand on the wooden rack beside him, leaning against it in the most casual but ravishing way that only he could. He was right.... he was indeed annoyingly well favoured. "I knew you'd come to fall for me someday."

"Oh please," I murmured, rolling my eyes at him and turning myself towards the weapons rack again, suddenly having lost the urge to admire his face. "As if I'd ever fall for a doxy like yourself."

"I'm not a doxy!" he defended.

I raised my eyebrows at him. "You honestly ought that had me rushing to google. Reconsider. me to believe that you've never slept with a woman in your life?"
You’re mixing language, so make up your mind. Personally I keep language conventional even though there are a hundred logical reasons for not doing so. (My first book is set 500 years in the future, but I keep the language readable.) You are, after all, writing for your readers. If you give them difficult to understand language they will, for the most part, run for the hills. Something to think about.
Ethaniel pressed his lips together.

"See— you are a doxy." Another example of language. I kind of get your meaning, but you might want to consider another word.

"And you're a prude!"


Okay, that’s enough for now. See? Not as hideous as you thought. Right?

I see where you’re going with this and you appear to be on the right track. Story wise.

But you are making all the same mistakes I did, when I started writing. That’s normal so don’t worry about it, just continue to learn and improve. Hey, if I can, you can.


I stopped organizing the swords and turned to face him. Ethaniel was much taller than I was, which made me have to tilt back my head as far as I possibly could so I could look him in the eye. "Some of us actually intend to wait for marriage," I said, not exactly hurt by his choice of words.

He scrunched his face at this. "Sometimes you're such an elf."

Okay, this actually did hurt me.

"Because I am an elf!" I spat back, furrowing my eyebrows.

This made him grin. "Half-elf," he corrected me, and this time I was the one pressing my lips together.

Being called an elf wasn't an insult per se, but the fact that Ethaniel had used it in this particular situation, left me feeling bad about it. I knew how much he despised Elves, like most Men did, for their history wasn't a very pleasant one and they didn't particularly see eye to eye anymore.

He rarely ever brought up my elven-blood, and whenever he did, he always used it in a negative context. He probably didn't do it on purpose, for he would never intentionally hurt my feelings, but I guess he never truly understood how hard it must have been for me to be torn between the hatred the two races held for one another. And even though I should've hated Men more than anyone else — I simply couldn't bring myself to do so. How could someone like Ethaniel be blamed for something his ancestors had done?
 

Tawariell

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I don't have time for a critique now, Tawariell, but I'll try and have a good look at this over the weekend. (Though I have to confess that I'm not a fan of YA which this reads to me as, and personally I prefer openings to be rather more gripping than this appears to be.)

However, it looks like the forum software has ripped out your formatting, which has led to a wall of text here, which may well put people off helping you in the meantime. I've therefore edited it for you to incorporate a line's space between each paragraph which should help (though I had to guess once or twice where the para ended, so apologies if I got it wrong).
Thank you! Oh, I see what it did indeed. I copy and pasted it from my word document, but apparently, the format doesn't come with it. Thanks again for changing it :)
 

Tawariell

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Qecios
This duel sure has short sentences to give it speed, but I feel that the descriptions make it lose pace, especially when insisting on Ethaniel's arrogant attitude which you already lay out at the beginning.


I find it weird to have Ethaniel adressed as "the young man" when it's first person and they already know themselves quite well.


This description feels like a chunk of exposition delivered to the reader, and I find it a bit unnatural to the feeling of the novel. My personal taste for physical descriptions is to chop them and mention key elements if they add something to the rest


This is exactly what I was talking about, so it's rather redundant to have it in the first paragraph (unless his's lenght is something very important in the story)


I enjoyed these lines quite a bit. You can feel this playful tension between them, and makes me wanna know more about how this relationship unfolds.

The last paragraph though, feels a bit sudden. Nothing before it would suggest there's actually a race issue between elves and humans, and considering the characters involved, it is something very important that I'd rather have explained more naturally than just have the protagonist shove it off in a couple of lines. Seems the clasic issue between "Show vs Tell".

I'd love to see some context at the end, and descriptions of the environment and the atmosphere, to have a glimpse of the scenario in which this conflict is taking place. Are they rich, are they poor? It's an urban or rural setting? It's peace, it's war? That'd be a nice thing to know to better understand the interaction between the characters.

But as I said, I'd gladly read more about how Grace and Ethaniel follow on :)
Thank you!

I think I should indeed change the description part for Ethaniel, since someone else also pointed out it's a bit too much.

This is only a part of the first chapter, so further into the chapter, there is more about the race issue, location, etc. Perhaps it would have been easier to understand if you've had the whole chapter (or perhaps not haha).

I'm trying not to throw too much information in this first chapter, because it's an alternative world and all the locations, names, history, would perhaps be a bit too overwhelming right into the first chapter (but that could very well be my personal taste).

That being said, I really enjoyed reading your critique. I see some good pointers there that I should definitely look at again! :)
 

Tawariell

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Right. Drof cracks knuckles.

I don’t read or write YA. So I’m not a member of your target audience.

This is your book so take what I say as suggestions, that you may accept or reject as you please.




"Damn you, Ethan!" I hissed when my sword was being knocked out of my hands with such force that it almost twisted my wrists.


It feels forced. And that description, without a comma, is too long.

Try showing instead of telling:



I hissed as my sword was struck from my hand. The blow hit me with such force that it almost twisted my wrist.

“Damn you.”

Ethan chuckled while lowing his sword.

“Come on Squeak,” he said around a grin. “You’re the one who begged me for a rematch.”







"Come on, Squeak," the young man he chuckled while lowering his own sword and grinning at me contently. "Were you not the one begging me for a rematch?"

"Seriously—" I snarled as I picked up my sword from the ground, ah, where else would it be?

pointing it at the young man in front of me. "Stop... Calling.... Me... Squeak!" I lunged at him and swung the blade at his legs, but he deflected my attack with such ease that it made him laugh even harder.

"Grace, just give up already." To emphasize his obvious dominance, he kicked my legs from under me. I fell back, landing hard on the damp grass.
Ethaniel kicked at my legs and gave a firm push at my shoulder, making me fall back hard on the damp grass. "You are no match for me."

Perhaps you’re instead of you are?? And make up your mind. Ethan or Ethaniel? Except, of course, when she’s making a point and therefore uses his full name. Or, Ethan if she likes him, perhaps? Last point for this section. You’ve identified who is who, Squeak, Grace, and Ethan, or Ethaniel, so you don’t need to labor the point. He, after all, can only refer to Ethan. If you see my point.

I lifted my gaze to meet Ethaniel's grey eyes and I could see the confidence glistering in them. He was way too confident for his own bloody good...
I quickly rolled to the side and jumped back to my feet, lifting my sword, and pointing it at him once again. "I will not let you get away with it — not this time."

Ethaniel simply laughed at my words and took a step closer to me, holding his own sword casually in the palm of his right hand. "Well, what are you waiting for then?"

I narrowed my eyes and tightened my grip on the hilt of my sword, trying hard to hold up the heavy blade as steady as I could. This particular sword was too long and too heavy for my tiny posture, but right now all I could think of was wanting to see was seeing Ethaniel’s smug face buried in the dirt beneath our feet.

I took a quick step towards him and swung my blade at his right flank. He simply deflected my attack and laughed triumphantly. a triumphant smile grew upon his face. I took another step and swung it at his left flank. He deflected again, his smirk growing even wider. I took a third step and punched him right in the face. Now that, I like.

"Shrew!" Ethaniel exclaimed while dropping his sword and lifting his hands to his nose, his smug expression finally gone. "That is cheating!"

"How is that cheating?!" I spat back at him. I couldn't help myself from feeling quite proud of my little achievement. It was rare for me to beat Ethaniel when it came to duelling, but whenever I did, I would feel incredibly pleased with myself, for I knew how much he hated to lose. Especially to me...

"This is fencing," Ethaniel growled at me, letting go of his nose and staring down at my face in anger. "You are supposed to use your sword!"

I simply shrugged my shoulders. "I didn't know it mattered how one wins a fight," I responded while turning around and walking to the side of the training field where I placed the sword back in one of the wooden racks. Again, an overly long run on sentence.

"There is no honour in winning a fight by punching one in the face," the young man huffed as he followed me, placing his own sword in the weapons rack.

"You only say that because you were caught off guard," I chuckled while looking up at his pale face. I smiled when I noticed the annoyed expression on it. "Are you upset with me?"

Ethaniel instantly hooked his grey eyes with mine. "Of course not. How could I ever?" A warm and genuine smile suddenly covered his young face, and I could see dimples form in his cheeks. I quietly admired them.

Ethaniel was a tall young man with a face that the ladies here at the castle seemed to quite fancy. : His dark untamed hair was rough and untamed, barely reached ing his shoulders. Although his complexion was overall pale, but tiny freckles would cover his high, and straight nose whenever he would spend spent too much time training in the sun. He had a strong jawline, high cheekbones, and a thin but wide mouth. A strong jawline and high cheekbones contrasted with his thin, wide mouth. His scraggly excuse for a beard couldn’t disguise his youthful appearance. He didn't have much of a beard, which left him looking quite youthful.

"A grimace does not suit you, Dimples."

Ethaniel chuckled at his new nickname, turning his warm smile into a mischievous grin. "You think I'm handsome, do you not?" He placed his hand on the wooden rack beside him, leaning against it in the most casual but ravishing way that only he could. He was right.... he was indeed annoyingly well favoured. "I knew you'd come to fall for me someday."

"Oh please," I murmured, rolling my eyes at him and turning myself towards the weapons rack again, suddenly having lost the urge to admire his face. "As if I'd ever fall for a doxy like yourself."

"I'm not a doxy!" he defended.

I raised my eyebrows at him. "You honestly ought that had me rushing to google. Reconsider. me to believe that you've never slept with a woman in your life?"
You’re mixing language, so make up your mind. Personally I keep language conventional even though there are a hundred logical reasons for not doing so. (My first book is set 500 years in the future, but I keep the language readable.) You are, after all, writing for your readers. If you give them difficult to understand language they will, for the most part, run for the hills. Something to think about.
Ethaniel pressed his lips together.

"See— you are a doxy." Another example of language. I kind of get your meaning, but you might want to consider another word.

"And you're a prude!"


Okay, that’s enough for now. See? Not as hideous as you thought. Right?

I see where you’re going with this and you appear to be on the right track. Story wise.

But you are making all the same mistakes I did, when I started writing. That’s normal so don’t worry about it, just continue to learn and improve. Hey, if I can, you can.


I stopped organizing the swords and turned to face him. Ethaniel was much taller than I was, which made me have to tilt back my head as far as I possibly could so I could look him in the eye. "Some of us actually intend to wait for marriage," I said, not exactly hurt by his choice of words.

He scrunched his face at this. "Sometimes you're such an elf."

Okay, this actually did hurt me.

"Because I am an elf!" I spat back, furrowing my eyebrows.

This made him grin. "Half-elf," he corrected me, and this time I was the one pressing my lips together.

Being called an elf wasn't an insult per se, but the fact that Ethaniel had used it in this particular situation, left me feeling bad about it. I knew how much he despised Elves, like most Men did, for their history wasn't a very pleasant one and they didn't particularly see eye to eye anymore.

He rarely ever brought up my elven-blood, and whenever he did, he always used it in a negative context. He probably didn't do it on purpose, for he would never intentionally hurt my feelings, but I guess he never truly understood how hard it must have been for me to be torn between the hatred the two races held for one another. And even though I should've hated Men more than anyone else — I simply couldn't bring myself to do so. How could someone like Ethaniel be blamed for something his ancestors had done?
Thank you! Now that you (and others before you) pointed it out, I see exactly what I am doing wrong:

1) I see you're taking out a lot of "unnecessary" words. I think I've created a habit of adding these words into a sentence to make it as clear as possible. But seeing you scratch them out, and reading the sentence over, you are absolutely right — I could definitely drop those "extra" words haha.

2) For the description of Ethaniel, you scratched out the exact lines I was thinking of removing!

3) About Ethaniel's name: I plan on only using "Ethan", when someone (in this case, Grace) is addressing him directly, but outside of dialogue, just use Ethaniel (does that make sense?). After all, Grace would be the only one to address him as Ethan, and all the other characters usually address him as Ethaniel.

4) I like the rewritten parts you added, though your author's voice is obviously different from mine. I see your point, so I'll definitely look them over!

5) Yes... the run-on sentences. I gotta figure that one out, haha. I think it comes from my native language, since I only ever wrote in Dutch before.
 

Tawariell

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Qecios
My main problem with this passage is that we aren't given any idea of where this is taking place, at least in terms of their immediate surroundings. Is it a small dueling ring, or a large practice area? Is it outside, or inside? These are small details, but they really would have made it easier for me to immerse myself in the story.

I agree with Flaviosky that the paragraph of physical description effectively stops the story in its tracks, and that the pacing of the story would feel better if you took the important bits and peppered them in at the right places. (I personally would start by taking the entire paragraph out and reading through to see if the story is missing anything without it)

I didn't think that the human-elf exposition was by itself too much "telling," but it did feel like it came out of nowhere (especially considering that it hadn't even been hinted before that these characters were two different species) and it also seems to get in the way of the story. The last paragraph specifically feels like something that would run through the protagonist's mind after the fact, when she was ruminating over her argument with Ethan, and not something that she would think about during said argument.

One really specific quibble that I had:


The way this height discrepancy is described makes it seem like he's at least a foot taller than her. It seems to me that it just wouldn't be possible for her to punch him in the face (specifically in the nose) that easily; whether it is or not, I was pulled out of the story while puzzling over this supposed paradox.

I think you've got a good start to your story, and I enjoyed the rapport between Grace and Ethan. While I wasn't entirely sure what their relationship was (it seemed like they were childhood friends?), I understood that they were very close from their conversations/arguments. Keep writing.
Thank you! I was afraid some readers might feel the same about missing those descriptions.

1) Perhaps this could be personal taste as well, but I chose not to put too many descriptions of their surrounding during their little duelling practice, because I felt that would take the attention away from the characters? And because we are in Grace her head, I thought it would feel too random to put in all these descriptions in the middle of it (but a good author could without a doubt make it work haha). Further into the chapter there are descriptions about their surrounding. But all that being said, I see why you feel that way and I'll try to make another draft trying to put in some of these descriptions earlier on.

2) Okay, I see your issue with Ethaniel addressing her as an elf without any notion of there being different species. Perhaps I'll leave this out and see how I can put this in a more appropriate place or setting. Thank you for pointing this one out!

3) The height thing: ah... you got a good eye... but is it really that unrealistic? I could easily punch someone in the face that is taller than me hehe. But I see what you mean. You got a good point there. I'll put it in my notes and see if more people comment on this :)

4) Well, further into the chapter/second chapter, we will learn about Grace and Ethaniel's exact relation and whether they were childhood friends or not :)
 

Tawariell

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@Flaviosky @Droflet @sule; really enjoying your critique guys! You are the first ones to critique my writing (after 10 years hah), so I'm happy to get such good pointers from all of you. I always wrote stories as a hobby (and mainly in Dutch), so now that I am serious about having something published, I'm glad to share it with the people here on this forum. I'm all new to critique and editing, and I was never even aware of all these things before (I only focused on grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc.), so much, much appreciated! :giggle:
 
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Wayne Mack

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I liked the relationship between Ethan and the first person character. To me, it read like a brother-sister (half sister?) relationship. I also liked Ethan's more formal speaking style, including non-use of contractions. It help paint him as being part of nobility or a royal family.

One minor nit, the fight scene referred to swords and I pictured them using broad swords, but at the end, Ethan referred to fencing, which would use a slender epee. Either would work. A smaller build elf would require a shorter, lighter broad sword, putting her at an immediate disadvantage. If the weapon were an epee, then they might be more evenly balanced -- elf's quickness versus Ethan's higher skill level. But, I may be getting a little off-topic.

I would also echo the comment that the description of the protagonist as an elf or half-blood elf seemed to come very late. Perhaps, instead of Ethan calling her 'Squeak' at the start, he could call her 'Elf.' This would allow some of that nice dialog at the end to be pushed up to the start. You might also consider having Ethan call her by her name at the same time he calls her 'Elf.' That is one of the challenges in first person;; finding a way to introduce a character's name.

It will be interesting to see what challenges lie ahead for your half-elf (princess?).
 

Tawariell

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I liked the relationship between Ethan and the first person character. To me, it read like a brother-sister (half sister?) relationship. I also liked Ethan's more formal speaking style, including non-use of contractions. It help paint him as being part of nobility or a royal family.

One minor nit, the fight scene referred to swords and I pictured them using broad swords, but at the end, Ethan referred to fencing, which would use a slender epee. Either would work. A smaller build elf would require a shorter, lighter broad sword, putting her at an immediate disadvantage. If the weapon were an epee, then they might be more evenly balanced -- elf's quickness versus Ethan's higher skill level. But, I may be getting a little off-topic.

I would also echo the comment that the description of the protagonist as an elf or half-blood elf seemed to come very late. Perhaps, instead of Ethan calling her 'Squeak' at the start, he could call her 'Elf.' This would allow some of that nice dialog at the end to be pushed up to the start. You might also consider having Ethan call her by her name at the same time he calls her 'Elf.' That is one of the challenges in first person;; finding a way to introduce a character's name.

It will be interesting to see what challenges lie ahead for your half-elf (princess?).
Thank you for your kind comments! :)

1) You're right about the fencing thing: I searched it on google, and read somewhere that they used the word "fencing" in medieval times to refer to "duelling" (this could be wrong though), but I can see how it is confusing to read in modern times. They are indeed using swords, so perhaps I should leave out the word "fencing" altogether. Thank you for pointing this out! :)

2) "Perhaps, instead of Ethan calling her 'Squeak' at the start, he could call her 'Elf.' This would allow some of that nice dialogue at the end to be pushed up to the start." I really like this suggestion! I might actually change it to that and see how it flows :)

3) Haha, she is not a princess, I can assure you that.
 

AnRoinnUltra

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Thanks for that @Tawariell , I don't have much feedback. From a casual read I thought it could do with a bit more on where the story is going to go. They seem to be training hard for something, but I couldn't work out what.
The sword thing @Wayne Mack mentioned stuck out for me too, but it didn't cause me to loose the run of things. I couldn't work out the relationship between Ethan and the protagonist (friends/ sparring partners/ comrades), but that could well be down to my reading. I thought the action and flow worked well, and I wouldn't have spotted any of the technical improvements had they not been pointed out above.

Best of luck
 

tinkerdan

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This scene has potential.
I do feel that you are not taking full advantage of the first person point of view.

The first sentence containing the was being construct is overly passive, which you want to avoid in the beginning of a first chapter.
The second paragraph talks about the young man and in first person this becomes a bit of an anomaly since she knows who he is.
With first person point of view you could try getting closer to the character--how she feels--her reactions to things around her
"Damn you, Ethan!" I hissed when my sword was being knocked out of my hands with such force that it almost twisted my wrists.

"Come on, Squeak," the young man chuckled while lowering his own sword and grinning at me contently. "Were you not the one begging me for a rematch?"

"Seriously—" I snarled as I picked up my sword from the ground, pointing it at the man in front of me. "Stop... Calling.... Me... Squeak!" I lunged at him and swung the blade at his legs, but he deflected my attack with such ease that it made him laugh even harder.

"Grace, just give up already." Ethaniel kicked at my legs and gave a firm push at my shoulder, making me fall back hard on the damp grass. "You
are no match for me."

I can show you what I mean by that; keep in mind that I have no idea from this of your character's motives so I'm making this up and it will in no way match what you are writing about . it's just an example of what I mean.
::
"Damn you, Ethan!" My wrists twisted from the force that tossed my sword awry. Its clatter echoed in its course along the stone tiles and it flashed light reflections from the sconces against the halls wall. I hissed while I shook out my wrists, glaring down at the sword and then back to my opponent.

"Come on, Squeak." Ethaniel’s face twisted in half a smile with eyebrow arced and arms crossed while the sword shook with his laugh. “You wanted the rematch. Besides, that should never happen. You need to get a better grip.”

I wanted to wipe the smug look off his face, but he was right. My face went flush and my ears were hot.

"Seriously—" I could feel my nose flare. With a step I bent to retrieve my sword and pointed it at him. "Stop... Calling.... Me... Squeak!" He cocked his head and then dropped to a stance to display his sword hand with a look on his face that said, like this. Without a thought I adjusted my hold and lunged at him, a bit low, and he deflected with swift sure ease. He laughed harder.

"Give it up, Grace. You’re no match for me." He stepped in closer and swept my legs while giving a firm push to my shoulder, making me fall back on the cold hard floor. "When you get like this you’re way off balance."
::
One of the things you might be doing in a piece like this is introducing the characters and a snippet of the scene perhaps.
The closer you get to your POV the easier it will be for the reader to see many of the things you are trying to show them about your character without having to come out and tell the reader.

Hopefully the example helps explain what I mean.
 

Tawariell

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This scene has potential.
I do feel that you are not taking full advantage of the first person point of view.

The first sentence containing the was being construct is overly passive, which you want to avoid in the beginning of a first chapter.
The second paragraph talks about the young man and in first person this becomes a bit of an anomaly since she knows who he is.
With first person point of view you could try getting closer to the character--how she feels--her reactions to things around her


I can show you what I mean by that; keep in mind that I have no idea from this of your character's motives so I'm making this up and it will in no way match what you are writing about . it's just an example of what I mean.
::
"Damn you, Ethan!" My wrists twisted from the force that tossed my sword awry. Its clatter echoed in its course along the stone tiles and it flashed light reflections from the sconces against the halls wall. I hissed while I shook out my wrists, glaring down at the sword and then back to my opponent.

"Come on, Squeak." Ethaniel’s face twisted in half a smile with eyebrow arced and arms crossed while the sword shook with his laugh. “You wanted the rematch. Besides, that should never happen. You need to get a better grip.”

I wanted to wipe the smug look off his face, but he was right. My face went flush and my ears were hot.

"Seriously—" I could feel my nose flare. With a step I bent to retrieve my sword and pointed it at him. "Stop... Calling.... Me... Squeak!" He cocked his head and then dropped to a stance to display his sword hand with a look on his face that said, like this. Without a thought I adjusted my hold and lunged at him, a bit low, and he deflected with swift sure ease. He laughed harder.

"Give it up, Grace. You’re no match for me." He stepped in closer and swept my legs while giving a firm push to my shoulder, making me fall back on the cold hard floor. "When you get like this you’re way off balance."
::
One of the things you might be doing in a piece like this is introducing the characters and a snippet of the scene perhaps.
The closer you get to your POV the easier it will be for the reader to see many of the things you are trying to show them about your character without having to come out and tell the reader.

Hopefully the example helps explain what I mean.
Thank you! This example was very helpful indeed.

I'm already editing the first chapter with all the feedback you guys have given me, trying to put in more descriptions for their surroundings as well :)
 

PadreTX

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This was an easy read. I liked it.

The height issue did stick out, as Sule pointed out.
I took a third step and punched him right in the face.
Ethaniel was much taller than I was,
Perhaps Ethaniel did a poor timing head duck that allowed him to be hit in the face.

The first line did seem passive with using was, as Tinkerdan stated, like I did on my first line of the critique. Possibly it would be better to have the first line more active to hook the reader, however it still allowed for wanting to read the next line.

I did not have to force myself to read the passage. I could naturally read one line then go to the next. Two characters are introduced to me, one that follows rules and one that likes to break rules. I don't know where is the castle, but they are in a castle that has a training field, or training room. The main character did not have a problem using a derogatory (doxy) but did not like being called a derogatory (elf). You posted the first one or two pages of the first chapter, which pictured two people in a setting that keeps the interest.

Comparing this to another book I have read with first person point of view, this is easier and more enjoyable to read. At least at this point, it keeps me interested in wanting to read more.

I liked it.
 

Rufus Coppertop

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I'm seeing a few problems which could be off-putting.

Firstly - does she really have time to hiss "damn you Ethan" when the sword is being knocked out of her hands?

Secondly - we're four sentences in before we find out that the scene takes place outdoors due to her being pushed over onto the damp grass.

Thirdly - there's too much license with names. We've got:
Ethan,
Ethaniel,
the man in front of her
and
the young man.

We already know his name is Ethan. Just use his name otherwise it comes across as non-organic info dumping.

Whilst it's easy to assume that "Squeak" is female, it's by no means clear at this point.
 
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