Epic Fantasy Chapter One 1400 Words.

Stuart Suffel

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So, as always, it's the first few chapters that cause the pain. This is a completed upper middle grade fantasy novel. Question, is this openning it a bit too gory? (It's proably the most gory of the entire novel, but hey, I gots to go with the visions.) Also, please point out all the problems - ( I have thick lizard-like skin)



Chapter 1



Her father's upturned body swung back and forth across the main beam of the makeshift gallows in the palace courtyard below, like a grotesque pendulum, his bare head almost grazing against the hard ground with each swing. Princess Celia was thankful he had been killed before this horrendous spectacle began, else she did not think she could have stomached such a sight.

The crowd of Farlander mercenaries surrounding the swinging body counted each time the corpse passed a certain point marked on the ground.

One!

Two!

Three!

When the swinging torso finally settled to a halt after a count of nine, a cheer went up from some of the crowd, and money passed hands. These had guessed correctly.

After the winnings had been distributed, a burly soldier grabbed the lifeless torso, raised it above his shoulders, shouted a mocking Long live the King! and then gave an almighty push. The counting began again as the body swung back and forth for the umpteenth time.

Princess Celia wanted to scream down to them – to denounce their barbaric actions against her father, but she did not. There was no point in her dying also. Not when her father’s death had yet to be avenged. “Monsters,” she said under her breath.

Celia felt her companion's arms rest upon her shoulders. “Child, watching that debauchery serves no purpose. Please, my Princess, come away from the window.”

“It serves a purpose,” Celia snapped. “Each and every face I shall remember. Each and every one, Melissa.”

After a few moments she allowed herself to be guided by Melissa towards the tiny chamber’s one piece of furniture, a small wooden bench set near the camouflaged door. The sun was fading, but they dare not risk candlelight.

Melissa held Celia for a while, neither speaking. A noise sounded from the adjacent throne room and Melissa rose to look through the small spyhole carved into the chamber door. She quickly whispered back to Celia. “The soldiers have left! Only the jailer remains.”

Celia jumped up from the bench and darted to the spyhole. Melissa held her arm. “Brace yourself my child. The jailer is using his whip on the Saldan again.”

Celia looked through the spyhole as the jailer's whip snapped across the Saldan's face, burning a line of red along its cheek. The Saldan, shackled to the wall, gave no response, but Celia instinctively flinched. She drew out the long needle concealed in her breeches and ran her forefinger along its edge, careful not to touch the poisoned tip.

Melissa moved closer to her. “You do not have to do this task. We can find another way.”

“There is no other way.” Celia answered. Her eyes flickered to the ground. Her mother dead. Now her father. A few months ago, she was the happiest most carefree girl of the Five Worlds. And now—

Her face locked into grim determination. She gestured to Melissa. “I will have to move quickly, the replacement guard will be here soon, so there may be no time for your water magic.” She gently pressed down on the hidden lever below the spyhole and gave a sigh of relief as a section of the wall gave way without any sound. She stepped into the throne room.

The jailer had his back to her. He was growling at the Saldan. “You're a tough one, creature, no doubt. But I ain't failed yet. It's only a matter of time. Soldiers is coming back – gonna bring your new lord 'n master. And he ain't gonna tolerate your silence. Either ways, you be dead meat. So, jus’ tell me where the rest of King’s gold is, an’ I’ll use me hammer, an’ all this will be over lightening quick for ye.”

The Saldan didn't respond. The jailer spat and gripped his whip again.

Celia crept towards the jailer, and raised the long needle above her head, aiming for the jailer’s neck. One chance, that's all she would have, against a brute like him. She readied herself to pounce.

Heavy footsteps clunked from the hallway outside. The new guard was already here!

She dived towards the throne room doors throwing her full weight against them. They clanged shut. She lifted the locking bar and slammed it downwards. A moment later a fist banged on the doors. “Brassan, why are these doors locked? What’s going on?”

Celia turned from the doors to see the jailer now facing her, a leery grin on his fat lips. “Well, well, well,” he said. “If it ain't royalty. Elven royalty at that.”

Celia frowned. “Only on my mother's side, troll. I am my father's daughter.”

“Yeah? Reckon you'll be joining him soon enough too. Made a mistake running in here you did, Princess. Bounty on your head. Dead or alive.”

Celia pushed the needle up her sleeve out of sight and held it there with her smallest finger. The element of surprise was gone. Maybe another approach was best. “Whatever the bounty, I will treble it.”

Brassan's leer grew more menacing. “On your word, is it?” He laughed, an ugly dark laugh. “Or do you carry sacks of gold under that tunic of yours?”

Celia curved her hand under her sleeve, now allowing the needle head to rest on her palm, still out of view. “There was a time when the word of the House of Rosseral was worth more than gold.”

Brassan spat on the ground. “Aye, and there was a time when I was handsome.” Another bang sounded on the door. “Hold yer horses,” the jailer shouted towards the locked doors, “I'm about to make some bonus money here.” He threw the whip across the room and picked up a hammer off the floor, all the time keeping his eyes on Celia. “So,” he said, grasping the hammer shaft, “dead or alive. What's it gonna be, your High and Mightiness?”

Celia smiled. “Alive, of course.” She slid the needle into view.

Brassan sneered at the sight of the needle. “You Mayyassans—you do make me laugh.” He moved slowly towards her; his huge frame seemed to fill half the room. Celia stayed where she was, making sure her eyes didn't flick towards Melissa, who had slipped quietly into the room and was now behind the jailer.

The jailer moved closer and closer to Celia, his powerful arms resting loosely against his sides, the hammer dangling from his left hand. He stopped just within striking distance. “Pity I'm not a troll. I'd enjoy crunching on your bones.” In one fluid movement he flicked the hammer from his left to his right hand, then swung it upwards towards Celia's midriff.

Celia fell back against the doors away from the hammer’s impact, and allowed herself to collapse legs first, straight down to the floor. She was flat on her back, her feet now facing the jailer. As his hammer’s continued upward swing met empty space, the gap between his legs widened. Celia pushed her hands against the door with all her might and propelled her body forward. She shot under the jailer legs like an arrow. It was a trick she had played on the giant Groddan many a time. A lot easier with an amicable giant playing Catch Me with his favourite princess of course.

Celia raised both legs up as she sped. Melissa was already kneeling in position. The watersprite leaned forward, dipping one shoulder to the ground. Celia's legs and body glided up Melissa’s arm. Brassan began to turn around to locate his slippery bonus as Celia flipped backwards into the air and landed perfectly onto his shoulders.

He was still in the process of turning when his eyes opened wide in shock as he spotted Melissa. “Where'd you come from?”

Celia wrapped her legs around his throat. It was only then Brassan realised the half elfin was atop of him. He reached up to grab her, but Celia caught the jailer's hair with one hand and swung out of reach. She readied the needle with her free hand, and then landed again on Brassan's shoulders.

She pressed the needle against the jailer's jugular, then leaned into his ear. “This is for my father,” she hissed. She jabbed the needle deep into the jailer's huge neck. He gave out a low groan. “You will die, Farlander. On that, have my word.” She punched the rounded top of the needle hard with her fist. It went right through the jailer's neck. He gurgled, but no words came out. As Brassan's huge frame shuddered to the floor, Celia somersaulted off him, landing squarely on her feet.

The bangs on the door became louder.
 
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Brian G Turner

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Some nice aspects to the opening few paragraphs, but you are too distant to your character (as is very common with pieces posted to Critiques). I think it's crying out for more visceral cues so that we're not simply privvy to her thoughts, but also experience what she is - especially considering the extreme emotional tension that is inferred..
 

Christine Wheelwright

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I found the action a little hard to follow and had to read it a second time to grasp the acrobatics involved. I found myself wishing she had simply kicked him in the balls (easier to follow and more relatable). But I realise that wouldn't fit the character. I also felt that a little too much information was being slipped in....she's royalty, family details, breeds (elves, trolls, saldans) etc etc. Maybe a little too much exposition for the first page or so. I like exposition done well, but it can seem a little contrived if you seek to do too much in a short time.

I wouldn't get disheartened by criticism btw. I'm curious what would happen if we put sections of text from unidentified famous/established/acomplished authors up for critique. It would be interesting.
 

Paul Meccano

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Hi Stuart

This isn't too gory for me.
But it does need a full edit, and if you're anything like me, focusing on this will solve problems on the way.
I have pitched an example as I like this chapter. However, I think it needs a little work from my perspective. Note: "Horrendous spectacle" has been described within my 54-word count rather than spelling it out (telling/showing) (your version 62). My version isn't much shorter and is far from perfect. But it may give you an idea of other, let's say, adjustable aspects. I've tried to offer a different perspective.
Overall, I like the idea, and it read fairly fluently, which is a problem for me when it doesn't. I get the feeling this could be tightened up plenty, saving word count and a little reading time. In and out is what I say, especially with fight scenes. Move the story forward; don't hang around without good reason; Content is king.


His crownless head on the diamond-hard ground of the Palace courtyard slowed the grotesque pendulum between every swing and was a sight Princess Celia's stomach turned for, not once, or twice, but over again. The makeshift gallows survived where her father hadn't. Yet, she was thankful he had died before the rope ran taught.

Her father's upturned body swung back and forth across the main beam of the makeshift gallows in the palace courtyard below, like a grotesque pendulum, his bare head almost grazing against the hard ground with each swing. Princess Celia was thankful he had been killed before this horrendous spectacle began, else she did not think she could have stomached such a sight.

Keep going.
Thanks for sharing.
 

Stuart Suffel

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Hi Stuart

This isn't too gory for me.
But it does need a full edit, and if you're anything like me, focusing on this will solve problems on the way.
I have pitched an example as I like this chapter. However, I think it needs a little work from my perspective. Note: "Horrendous spectacle" has been described within my 54-word count rather than spelling it out (telling/showing) (your version 62). My version isn't much shorter and is far from perfect. But it may give you an idea of other, let's say, adjustable aspects. I've tried to offer a different perspective.
Overall, I like the idea, and it read fairly fluently, which is a problem for me when it doesn't. I get the feeling this could be tightened up plenty, saving word count and a little reading time. In and out is what I say, especially with fight scenes. Move the story forward; don't hang around without good reason; Content is king.

Some nice aspects to the opening few paragraphs, but you are too distant to your character (as is very common with pieces posted to Critiques). I think it's crying out for more visceral cues so that we're not simply privvy to her thoughts, but also experience what she is - especially considering the extreme emotional tension that is inferred..

I found the action a little hard to follow and had to read it a second time to grasp the acrobatics involved. I found myself wishing she had simply kicked him in the balls (easier to follow and more relatable). But I realise that wouldn't fit the character. I also felt that a little too much information was being slipped in....she's royalty, family details, breeds (elves, trolls, saldans) etc etc. Maybe a little too much exposition for the first page or so. I like exposition done well, but it can seem a little contrived if you seek to do too much in a short time.

I wouldn't get disheartened by criticism btw. I'm curious what would happen if we put sections of text from unidentified famous/established/acomplished authors up for critique. It would be interesting.
Great critiques, really appreciated, and will really help with the rewrite. will wait a couple of weeks before I do, but all comments really appreciated.
This damned opening scene has driven me crazy for quite a while, but these comments will definitely help clarify things, so ANY observations from Chronners out there, whether detailed or not, are very welcome.
S.
Again, many thanks. :)
 

Astro Pen

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A small touch on the wheel.
Far too many lines/ paragraphs starting with Celia. Try shuffling that around a bit or even omitting some when it is obvious that it is her.
For example:

Celia smiled. “Alive, of course.” She slid the needle into view.
into
“Alive, of course.” She slid the needle into view, smiling.
 

WSDuffy

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thank you for sharing this. To answer your first question, I don't think it is overly gory for late YA. I think the tone is clear, and the level of ambition in the book is fairly obvious. I think many of the comments you have already been given are solid. I have a couple of additional ones, provided below.

1) I feel like this passage is trying to do to much. In my count, you are trying to establish the political situation for the story, introduce your main character and drive her directly into action, mark the existence of half a dozen mythical races (along with sexual intermingling between them and a number of human-held stereotypes about them), establish multiple political factions, develop at least three characters (Celia, Melissa, and the Saldan), and have a complicated action scene. That is a ton of work for a short passage. I might try to spread this out over a longer period.

2) Right now, the magic is one sided. Celia and compatriots have magic water powers, poison, friends who are giants, and peak or superhuman level dexterity and combat prowess. The Farlanders apparently have no magic and little enough manpower that they leave the throne room with a single guard. This makes it hard to be overly concerned about them, even though they have apparently conquered Celia's family. I would do more to establish them as a threat and as a possessor of supernatural power. The two biggest opportunities I see are 1) stating that the King's body is being magically preserved for fun/abuse purposes, therefore establishing that the Farlanders have enough magic to waste on a casual cruelty like that and 2) Having the Saldan magically bound, which would further necessitate Celia's immediate efforts to free him.

3) I am struggling with the timeframe of this moment. The state of the king's body and a couple comments from Celia leads me to believe that we are in the days after the coup, but the rest of the surrounding behavior reads as if the conquest was considerably longer ago. I also don't know why Celia needs to break back into the palace at the moment she does, particularly considering how she is presumably the last hope of the regime. There is also a disconnect between the moments of "I want to take the time to burn images into my memory" sections and "we have to act now" sections. That said, I think a lot of this would be easier to handle if there was more space to breathe.

My Suggestion

The strongest things I see here, although not the only strong things, are the image of the dead king, the presence and powers of Melissa, and Celia's character and determination. I would focus the first chapter on them, with Celia and Melissa having escaped the violence that took Celia's father. Just having Celia make the choice to watch the defiling of her father's corpse at the risk of being captured would establish her character, particularly if we have Melissa to make clear how dangerous the Farlanders are, and having just the one scene might give more space to establish who has what magics. Then end the passage with Celia having to choose between escape and taking time to rebuild strength and come back years later and going now to try to save people like the Saldan (maybe see him being led to the castle in chains?). Then the second chapter can have Celia's attack and rescue.
 

AnRoinnUltra

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o there may be no time for your water magic.
Good stuff. I didn't find it too gory. What struck me was that the elven magic reveal came too far into the story -this might have been covered in a prologue, but I'd have liked something to set out the 'rules of engagement' before the plot kicked in. Can't add any more to what's been pointed out though, fair play.
 

Stuart Suffel

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Thanks again folks, and @WSDuffy Mega thanks WS for taking the time out for such detailed observations . Very well observed comments. I'm alrady seeing possible solutions, to problems I denied, problems that some part of me knew existed. Truly grateful.
 

TheEndIsNigh

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Hi,
I'm picky over details and stuff.
These are just my opinions. Please feel free to call them idiotic and rubbish, but here goes.
Oh by the way
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So, as always, it's the first few chapters that cause the pain. This is a completed upper middle grade fantasy novel. Question, is this openning it a bit too gory? (It's proably the most gory of the entire novel, but hey, I gots to go with the visions.) Also, please point out all the problems - ( I have thick lizard-like skin)



Chapter 1



Her father's upturned body swung back and forth across the main beam of the makeshift gallows in the palace courtyard below, like a grotesque pendulum, his bare head almost grazing against the hard ground with each swing. Princess Celia was thankful he had been killed before this horrendous spectacle began, else she did not think she could have stomached such a sight.
I didn't find this gory, but I did wonder at the point of it. The gallows misdirects the reader IMO and wit would make more sense if the father was alive - how long would he last rather than counting the swings.
The crowd of Farlander mercenaries surrounding the swinging body counted each time the corpse passed a certain point marked on the ground.

One!

Two!

Three!

When the swinging torso finally settled to a halt after a count of nine, a cheer went up from some of the crowd, and money passed hands. These had guessed correctly.
This isn't technically consistant because they are counting when the body passes a certain point so it wouldn't come to a halt after the nine count: it would remain swinging a bit.
After the winnings had been distributed, a burly soldier grabbed the lifeless torso, raised it above his shoulders, shouted a mocking Long live the King! and then gave an almighty push. The counting began again as the body swung back and forth for the umpteenth time.

Princess Celia wanted to scream down to them – to denounce their barbaric actions against her father, but she did not. There was no point in her dying also. Not when her father’s death had yet to be avenged. “Monsters,” she said under her breath.
I can't imagine why she would watch any of this, and certainly not more than once. If anything she should be getting the hell outof there as it seems she may be next.
Celia felt her companion's (who?) arms rest upon her shoulders. “Child, watching that debauchery serves no purpose. Please, my Princess, come away from the window.”

“It serves a purpose,” Celia snapped. “Each and every face I shall remember. Each and every one, Melissa.”

After a few moments she allowed herself to be guided by Melissa towards the tiny chamber’s one piece of furniture, a small wooden bench set near the camouflaged door (but surely not from this side - oportunity to explain how this prest hole was hidden). The sun was fading, but they dare not risk candlelight.

Melissa held Celia for a while, neither speaking. A noise sounded from the adjacent throne room and Melissa rose to look through the small spyhole carved into the chamber door. She quickly whispered back to Celia. “The soldiers have left! Only the jailer remains.”

Celia jumped up from the bench and darted to the spyhole. Melissa held her arm. “Brace yourself my child. The jailer is using his whip on the Saldan again.”

Celia looked through the spyhole as the jailer's whip snapped across the Saldan's face, burning a line of red along its cheek. The Saldan, shackled to the wall, gave no response, but Celia instinctively flinched. She drew out the long needle concealed in her breeches and ran her forefinger along its edge, careful not to touch the poisoned tip.

Melissa moved closer to her. “You do not have to do this task. We can find another way.”

“There is no other way.” Celia answered. Her eyes flickered to the ground. Her mother dead. Now her father. A few months ago, she was the happiest most carefree girl of the Five Worlds. And now—

Her face locked into grim determination. She gestured to Melissa. “I will have to move quickly, the replacement guard will be here soon, so there may be no time for your water magic.” She gently pressed down on the hidden lever below the spyhole and gave a sigh of relief as a section of the wall gave way without any sound. She stepped into the throne room.

The jailer had his back to her. He was growling at the Saldan. “You're a tough one, creature, no doubt. But I ain't failed yet. It's only a matter of time. Soldiers is coming back – gonna bring your new lord 'n master. And he ain't gonna tolerate your silence. Either ways, you be dead meat. So, jus’ tell me where the rest of King’s gold is, an’ I’ll use me hammer, an’ all this will be over lightening quick for ye.”

The Saldan didn't respond. The jailer spat and gripped his whip again.

Celia crept towards the jailer, and raised the long needle above her head, aiming for the jailer’s neck. One chance, that's all she would have, against a brute like him. She readied herself to pounce.

Heavy footsteps clunked from the hallway outside. The new guard was already here!

She dived towards the throne room doors throwing her full weight against them. They clanged shut. She lifted the locking bar and slammed it downwards. A moment later a fist banged on the doors. “Brassan, why are these doors locked? What’s going on?”

Celia turned from the doors to see the jailer now facing her, a leery grin on his fat lips. “Well, well, well,” he said. “If it ain't royalty. Elven royalty at that.”

Celia frowned. “Only on my mother's side, troll. I am my father's daughter.”

“Yeah? Reckon you'll be joining him soon enough too. Made a mistake running in here you did, Princess. Bounty on your head. Dead or alive.”

Celia pushed the needle up her sleeve out of sight and held it there with her smallest finger. The element of surprise was gone. Maybe another approach was best. “Whatever the bounty, I will treble it.”

Brassan's leer grew more menacing. “On your word, is it?” He laughed, an ugly dark laugh. “Or do you carry sacks of gold under that tunic of yours?”

Celia curved her hand under her sleeve, now allowing the needle head to rest on her palm, still out of view. “There was a time when the word of the House of Rosseral was worth more than gold.”

Brassan spat on the ground. “Aye, and there was a time when I was handsome.” Another bang sounded on the door. “Hold yer horses,” the jailer shouted towards the locked doors, “I'm about to make some bonus money here.” He threw the whip across the room and picked up a hammer off the floor, all the time keeping his eyes on Celia. “So,” he said, grasping the hammer shaft, “dead or alive. What's it gonna be, your High and Mightiness?”

Celia smiled. “Alive, of course.” She slid the needle into view.

Brassan sneered at the sight of the needle. “You Mayyassans—you do make me laugh.” He moved slowly towards her; his huge frame seemed to fill half the room. Celia stayed where she was, making sure her eyes didn't flick towards Melissa, who had slipped quietly into the room and was now behind the jailer.

The jailer moved closer and closer to Celia, his powerful arms resting loosely against his sides, the hammer dangling from his left hand. He stopped just within striking distance. “Pity I'm not a troll. I'd enjoy crunching on your bones.” In one fluid movement he flicked the hammer from his left to his right hand, then swung it upwards towards Celia's midriff.

Celia fell back against the doors away from the hammer’s impact, and allowed herself to collapse legs first, straight down to the floor. She was flat on her back, her feet now facing the jailer. As his hammer’s continued upward swing met empty space, the gap between his legs widened. Celia pushed her hands against the door with all her might and propelled her body forward. She shot under the jailer legs like an arrow. It was a trick she had played on the giant Groddan many a time. A lot easier with an amicable giant playing Catch Me with his favourite princess of course.

Celia raised both legs up as she sped. Melissa was already kneeling in position. The watersprite leaned forward, dipping one shoulder to the ground. Celia's legs and body glided up Melissa’s arm. Brassan began to turn around to locate his slippery bonus as Celia flipped backwards into the air and landed perfectly onto his shoulders.

He was still in the process of turning when his eyes opened wide in shock as he spotted Melissa. “Where'd you come from?”

Celia wrapped her legs around his throat. It was only then Brassan realised the half elfin was atop of him. He reached up to grab her, but Celia caught the jailer's hair with one hand and swung out of reach. She readied the needle with her free hand, and then landed again on Brassan's shoulders.

She pressed the needle against the jailer's jugular, then leaned into his ear. “This is for my father,” she hissed. She jabbed the needle deep into the jailer's huge neck. He gave out a low groan. “You will die, Farlander. On that, have my word.” She punched the rounded top of the needle hard with her fist. It went right through the jailer's neck. He gurgled, but no words came out. As Brassan's huge frame shuddered to the floor, Celia somersaulted off him, landing squarely on her feet.

The bangs on the door became louder.

Mm, fairly good after the initial comments. I had trouble picturing the acrobatics though, and what the water spirit/Maelissa/Celia relationship is, but on the whole I quite liked this.

I assume there's another way out. :)

I'd make the needle a stilletto knife - why not - a needle is too easily misused whereas a knife in a sheath full of poison is safer. Also guven it is poisoned why not just stab hime in the leg as she passes, but then that would ruin the action later.

Hope I helped

Tein
 

Wayne Mack

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The overthrow of a kingdom with the protagonist(s) then needing to discover why is an interesting premise. The target audience may be slightly older than upper middle grade, closer to YA, if the underlying theme is that the adults have made a mess of things and it is up to the younger generation protagonists to resolve it.

Two things that bothered me were, I couldn't picture the environment nor motivations of the two girls, and I felt overwhelmed with the amount of detail dumped out in a short span.

The two girls were apparently in a space where what was happening outside was visible in detail, i.e., they must also be unhidden. Yet, the jailer in the adjacent room was unaware that they were there and only separated by a hidden door. For some reason, instead of utilizing a dungeon, he has chosen to keep someone imprisoned in a throne room. If the King and Queen have already been captured, it seems the castle(?) has been searched and the room where the two girls were standing would be well known. Is this an open room, easily visible from outside, or is it a hidden location that would not provide visibility to the outside world?

Despite standing next to the room where the person is being tortured, the girls make no attempt to rescue the prisoner until about half way through. This felt like two scenes jammed together without any underlying reason. During the rescue,

There were an large array of races thrown out in short succession, but none were given any identifying characteristics. There were Elves, Watersprites, Saldans, Trolls, and, I assume, humans presented. There is some form of magic, though I didn't really understand the details. There is a hint of an alliance between at least some of the races. There is also a hint that this is an organized revolt, not merely an uprising of the underclasses. Lastly, naming the jailer who was to be killed by the end of the section gave me an unnecessary detail to track.

I would suggest simplifying the scene and deferring some of the details until later. Perhaps focus on only the girls escaping or the girls trying to rescue the prisoner. Either one, by itself, would provide sufficient tension and a reason to introduce the two main characters. Once the two main characters are introduced, some of the other details can be revealed and explored in greater detail.

I feel that you have the basis of an interesting story arc, but I suggest refrain from the trying to dump all of the backstory details out in the first several pages. Let the reader slowly explore and learn your world.
 

Stuart Suffel

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@TheEndIsNigh and @Wayne Mack Thanks folks, very good observations.
I'm getting a real sense of consensus as to where the issues lie, and also encouragement that it's interesting enough for folks to keep reading. Been thinking a lot about the rewrite, will do same soon.
Again, mucho thanks to all who have commented!
S
Eta (re needle vs stilletto knife - Celia herself gets poisoned by the needle plot wise, for the very reason that the needle is not as safe as a sheathed knife, so it needs to be an unsafe weapon) To all, do you think this closer to YA than Upper MG?? Celia is 15, her sister Princess Jasmine (introduced next chapter) is 16, and the male MG (introduced chap 5) is 16, but there is a strong 'coming of age' element in this which I think is closer to upper mg ie age 12+)
 
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M.P. VandenBerg

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First impressions without knowing anything about the world;

1) Young female protag. (Celia) princess. experienced, capable, brave. (Good character for YA fantasy).
2) kingdom is being usurped, possibly organized from within. (Jailer is part of Celia kingdom?)
3) Celia didn't really seem to care about her father, factions are ambiguous (no idealistic good)
4) '5 worlds' aspects of science fiction? (space travel or magic system?)

If this is dead wrong then you need to make these more obvious.

Critiques:
I'm sure some of this is just 'spit & polish' but you have sentences that are far too long.
I want to know more about what Celia is thinking, how she feels etc I don't want the names of every faction in the same scene.
The worldbuilding is intriguing, don't hide it within an action scene. This is 'data dump' worthy in my opinion.
Action is a bit confusing and a bit overcomplex; It's not terrible 'choreography' it just takes a couple of tries to understand.
What I like:
You're using subtext well. I think I understand more about the world than is on the page. If I might make a suggestion, try playing out a longer conversation with Celia and Melissa, and have them set up the factions a little more before moving on to the jailer/fight scene. This is a great place to start, with the kingdom being taken over; it sets the tone, setting, possible theme, as we as a genre, all while creating interest. Don't change it. This is about PG-13 gore (according to Canadian standards anyway).
 

Stuart Suffel

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First impressions without knowing anything about the world;

1) Young female protag. (Celia) princess. experienced, capable, brave. (Good character for YA fantasy).
2) kingdom is being usurped, possibly organized from within. (Jailer is part of Celia kingdom?)
3) Celia didn't really seem to care about her father, factions are ambiguous (no idealistic good)
4) '5 worlds' aspects of science fiction? (space travel or magic system?)

If this is dead wrong then you need to make these more obvious.

Critiques:
I'm sure some of this is just 'spit & polish' but you have sentences that are far too long.
I want to know more about what Celia is thinking, how she feels etc I don't want the names of every faction in the same scene.
The worldbuilding is intriguing, don't hide it within an action scene. This is 'data dump' worthy in my opinion.
Action is a bit confusing and a bit overcomplex; It's not terrible 'choreography' it just takes a couple of tries to understand.
What I like:
You're using subtext well. I think I understand more about the world than is on the page. If I might make a suggestion, try playing out a longer conversation with Celia and Melissa, and have them set up the factions a little more before moving on to the jailer/fight scene. This is a great place to start, with the kingdom being taken over; it sets the tone, setting, possible theme, as we as a genre, all while creating interest. Don't change it. This is about PG-13 gore (according to Canadian standards anyway).
Thanks M.P. I'm going to pull back the events to 24 or 48 hours beforehand, to set up who is who and what is what a bit better. It will mean a slightly slower start, a bit less immediate action. Hopefully it will make things clearer without losing the tension of the usurpation.
 

M.P. VandenBerg

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Thanks M.P. I'm going to pull back the events to 24 or 48 hours beforehand, to set up who is who and what is what a bit better. It will mean a slightly slower start, a bit less immediate action. Hopefully it will make things clearer without losing the tension of the usurpation.
Perhaps you don't have to go back that far, but if you have an idea, I would be happy to read it.
 

Stuart Suffel

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Oops. See new Thread for the new chapter approach.
 
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Flaviosky

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Wow, I feel this piece to be particularily useful because the common themes it was with my own WIP XD.

you are too distant to your character
I felt the same thing. Celia seems very composed and sure about her actions considering she saw her father die in such humilliating way and also after being told later that her mother also died. It'd almost seem that she knew that this would happen somehow.

t was a trick she had played on the giant Groddan many a time
I found this sentence very annoying because I felt it breaking the pace of the fighting scene. This is information I'd not want in the middle of a good fight.

Finally, I didn't find it too gory. The opening with the king's body facing such fate is quite a shock, and as a reader I'd like to know how things got to that point.
 

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