The blog of a girl who's looking for God's plan for her life. In the mean-time, she's knitting books and writing scarves ... or something like that.
Hi Kelsey,This is the opening bit of my current WIP in all of its raw and unedited glory. Thank you for offering this service.Willard (Noting the speaker for the 1st person POV that is in this chapter)The village center of Monmora in the barony of Orlanvale hummed with more activity than most market days. In the dim pre-dawn light a caravan of ten wagons lingered in the square space while the village seemed to writhe with the beginnings of life.The bustling crowd around the wagons consisted of mostly well-wishers sending them off the much smaller group of travelers. Mothers called out to roaming children as they chased their friends through the adults. Wives tucked in scarves into the front folds of their husband’s clothing to ward off the early spring chill, and husbands, fathers, and brothers reassured them that they would be well. Most of them were confident of returning within a few months far richer than they left. The proceeds from selling the wares filling the waiting wagons would keep them all for another year or more. The entertainers were the most optimistic of all. The royal wedding would draw tremendous crowds to the capital city this summer. Thousands of purses to lighten in exchange for a song, a dance, or a pretty bauble to please one’s lady.As I surveyed them all, I found it hard to relate. I didn’t dance, and I couldn’t sing without a protest from everyone in hearing range. Yet, I would be traveling with this lot. Thankfully my lack of ability didn’t hinder my appreciation of those who could.The wagon master called out a greeting as I approached the first wagon. “Greetings, Master Willard. We move out as the sun rises over the rookery.”He pointed off to the east where the tallest building in the village, a rookery atop the meeting house, jutted darkly against the lightening sky.“Where shall I place my wagon?” I asked before he could turn away.“Consult my son. He has the roster,” he replied over his shoulder before rushing away.I lifted my hand in acknowledgement before skirting the thickest of the crowd clumped around the rented wagons. Small-time merchants, musicians, and various other entertainers were checking that their particular collection of bags and bundles were properly secure.“Greetings, Master Naron.” One of the village elder’s daughters fluttered her eyelashes at me as I passed. I had been going by Master Willard of late. It was strange to hear my family name now.I acknowledged her with an inclination of my head, but didn’t entertain the welcoming look in her eyes. After four years of anonymity, it appeared that my family’s reputation had finally caught up with me.I counted my blessings. In such a small community, the length of time I had remained obscure was remarkable. Almost anywhere else in the country, my family name alone would have been all the recommendation I would have needed.A second woman offered me an openly flirtatious smile as I approached the end of the caravan. This time I acted as though I hadn’t seen it.“Master Willard!” Hugh plowed through the crowd, the crush of bodies parting for him like a stream for a boulder.
Ooh, what an intriguing snippet, Rachel! The bustling scene that you describe has just the right amount of description to make us see and feel it without overwhelm. It carries the story forward and makes us long to know the future and the past---what will happen next, and what Willard's background is.I find myself wanting to "smell" something. :) You do such a great job depicting the scene that I would suggest (my preference, since I love sense-filled writing) fitting in a scent somewhere. Maybe there is dampness in the air (since it's spring) and that enhances the smell of horses? The only other things I would point out are minor word edits: Paragraph #1 - I think you could do without saying "space" after "square" and leave out "seemed to writhe" and just put "writhed." That strengthens that sentence.Para #2 - Leave out "them" between "sending" and "off." Leave out "in" between "tucked" and "scarves." Pluralize "husband's." And maybe specify who the "them" is in "husbands, fathers, and brothers reassured them" ... perhaps "their womenfolk"?Para #3 - I would suggest connecting the incomplete sentence beginning "Thousands of purses..." to the previous one. Maybe "furnishing thousands of purses to lighten"? (There's a better word than furnishing, but I can't think of it right now!)Para #4 - Nothing I would change here, but the bit about the singing made me laugh!Para #6 - Leave out "off" between "pointed" and "to."And that's it! You're very skilled at setting the scene and establishing intriguing characters. That last bit about Hugh...ooh, I wish I could read a bit further to learn more about him! :) Thanks for giving me this opportunity, and best wishes on your story.
Smell! Of course, that was the sense I forgot. :) Thank you so much for the suggestions! I will be tweaking each of them immediately. I am delighted that I finally reached that balance between action and description. This book's opening has been one of the hardest to nail down in a long time.I am delighted I made you laugh. :)Hugh is a fun character. I am enjoying having him along on my hero and heroine's journeys.I am seriously considering sending this one to you when it is finished and ready for editing. It is almost through the rough draft. It still needs to be beta read first though. :) Thanks so much!
You're welcome; my pleasure! :) I think it's sounding great.Absolutely, I would love to work with you on this book. If you decide to send it to me, you know how to contact me. :) Thanks so much!
“So, you snuck out did you?” the stranger asked, the twinkle in his eyes plainly betraying the fact that he liked the idea of ‘sneaking out’. “I liked sneaking out when I was younger too. I got into trouble for it more then once, didn’t I Víctor?” he asked turning to the men behind him.“Aye, it is,” replied one who appeared to be a few years older then him.“How old are you?” asked the stranger turning back to the twins.“Seventeen. Today is our birthday,” answered Eduardo. “By the way, my name is Francsico Raimundo and this is my sister María. And you are?”The man hesitated. “Felipe. Felipe Castellano,” he answered, and there was a strange almost challenging look in his eyes as he watched the twins’ faces.“It is a pleasure to meet you Señor Castellano,” said Conchita, speaking for the first time.The man seemed to relax and after a pause started making small talk about the good crop-growing weather that they were having.“Well! It looks like it might be done soon,” said Eduardo as the rain slackened considerably. Offering his arm to his sister they both walked to the opening and stood a little ways from Señor Castellano.“Maybe not!” laughed Conchita and all three stepped back as, with a gigantic crash of thunder the rain poured down harder then before.“Its a good thing that you two didn’t try to make it back to the castle,” Señor Castellano quietly remarked watching the steady downpour.“The castle?” asked Eduardo, trying to hide his surprise.“Aye Prince Eduardo, you both would have been soaked by the time you got there and you might have also gotten extremely sick after your drenching.”“Prince Eduardo?” repeated Eduardo in a puzzled tone.“Aye, Your Highness,” Señor Castellano answered, a small smile growing at the corners of his mouth. “I know both you and the Princess Conchita (bowing low to her as he spoke) by sight, also my men and I saw you sneak out of the castle earlier. Don’t worry,” he added as he saw the mingled look of concern and disappointment on their faces, “We won’t harm you and your secret is safe with us.”“Secret?” they asked in unison.“We shall not tell anyone else in the kingdom that the Crown Prince and his twin sister like to sneak out to ride when they shouldn’t,” he replied grinning boyishly.“You are very kind, Señor,” smiled Conchita holding out her hand to him while Eduardo looked down sheepishly.“It is a pleasure, Your Highness,” he answered kissing her fingertips lightly. “And please,” he added, “Call me Felipe.”
This is from a short story I wrote for a little challenge a few years ago.
Wow, this sounds like a fun story, Erudessa! A prince and princess in disguise, a mischievous bandito leader (or maybe some other leader-type...too soon for me to tell), set in a Spanish world. I would be very eager to see where this goes, and to know the backstory, too! :)I would suggest more description of setting, but you probably already have established where the characters are before these scenes take place, so focusing on their quick dialogue and facial expressions is good. :) The only other thing I will say about description is to take the opportunity as you're describing the characters' actions to make them specific to the characters, to think outside the box and make your readers really "see" the characters as individuals. Your dialogue is great! Felipe especially shines.In the first sentence, I would suggest leaving out "plainly betraying the fact that he liked the idea of 'sneaking out'" because the twinkle in his eyes and his own assertion depicts the fact solidly. So: ...the stranger asked, a twinkle in his eyes. "I liked sneaking out when I was younger too..."In the dialogue, "Aye, it is," I think there's a word missing: "Aye, it is so" or "Aye, it is true."I don't believe you really need "he answered" in the paragraph that begins, "The man hesitated." It's no less clearer and packs more of a punch if it were to say: The man hesitated. "Felipe. Felipe Castellano." A strange, almost challenging look gleamed in his eyes... (I also replaced the passive-sounding "there was.")The last sentence in the first scene, maybe you could show how the man seemed to relax instead of telling it. Perhaps the lines in his face smoothed? Or he unclenched his fists? You could come up with something really descriptive of him as a person, since he seems like he's an important character. :)In the second scene, the only change I would suggest is minor. "Aye, Your Highness." A small smile grew at the corners of Senor Castellano's mouth. "I know both..." Going without a dialogue tag here provides a variety to the other dialogue lines around it.There are some punctuation and spelling issues that I would correct, but may I address them in a separate comment? I could put the snippet into the comment and make the changes there.All in all, this story is really inviting! You have a smooth, effortless way of telling it. :) Well done!
“So, you snuck out, did you?” the stranger asked, the twinkle in his eyes plainly betraying the fact that he liked the idea of “sneaking out.” “I liked sneaking out when I was younger too. I got into trouble for it more than once, didn’t I, Víctor?” He turned to the men behind him. (<--sorry, I left out that slight suggestion in my previous comment!)“Aye, it is true,” replied one who appeared to be a few years older than him.“How old are you?” asked the stranger, turning back to the twins.“Seventeen. Today is our birthday,” answered Eduardo. “By the way, my name is Francisco Raimundo and this is my sister, María. And you are?”The man hesitated. “Felipe. Felipe Castellano,” he answered, and there was a strange, almost challenging look in his eyes as he watched the twins’ faces.“It is a pleasure to meet you, Señor Castellano,” said Conchita, speaking for the first time.The man seemed to relax and after a pause started making small talk about the good crop-growing weather they were having.“Well! It looks like it might be done soon,” said Eduardo as the rain slackened considerably. Offering his arm to his sister, they both walked to the opening and stood a little ways from Señor Castellano.“Maybe not!” laughed Conchita and all three stepped back as, with a gigantic crash of thunder, the rain poured down harder than before.“It's a good thing that you two didn’t try to make it back to the castle,” Señor Castellano quietly remarked, watching the steady downpour.“The castle?” Eduardo tried to hide his surprise. (<--again, sorry, another suggested change.)“Aye, Prince Eduardo, you both would have been soaked by the time you got there and you might have also gotten extremely sick after your drenching.”“Prince Eduardo?” repeated Eduardo in a puzzled tone.“Aye, Your Highness,” Señor Castellano answered, a small smile growing at the corners of his mouth. “I know both you and the Princess Conchita" (bowing low to her as he spoke) "by sight. Also my men and I saw you sneak out of the castle earlier. Don’t worry,” he added as he saw the mingled look of concern and disappointment on their faces. “We won’t harm you and your secret is safe with us.”“Secret?” they asked in unison.“We shall not tell anyone else in the kingdom that the crown prince and his twin sister like to sneak out to ride when they shouldn’t,” he replied, grinning boyishly.“You are very kind, Señor,” smiled Conchita, holding out her hand to him while Eduardo looked down sheepishly.“It is a pleasure, Your Highness,” he answered, kissing her fingertips lightly. “And please,” he added, “call me Felipe.”The one spelling issue to look out for is "then" instead of "than," and the main punctuation issue is to include commas to set off the dependent clauses (such as "kissing her fingertips lightly).I think that's it! Thank you for this opportunity. I hope your writing goes well, Erudessa!
Thank you Kelsey! This scene is in about to middle of the 2,000+ words story, so yes, the scene is set before this.I plan to expand this into a longer story, but it just hasn't happened yet.
When the horn blew for the guardians to pick up their cloaks and continue on, Nick found himself for the first time walking beside Sabriel. Her red hair hung free down her back, the freckles dotting her nose more visible without the shadow of her hood. He noticed that she’d tried to sew up her torn shirt, the thread crudely crisscrossing her chest and up to her shoulder. She and Nick stayed silent during the morning walk, Nick watching the sun climbing over the hills, the dew sparkling like crystals in the field, trying to pretend he didn’t mind Sabriel’s stony silence. At last he asked her if she wished to remain a guardian. “I do not know—I am a lady and Brunshield cannot let me remain unless the law is changed. No, I think not,” she said decidedly. “I shall return to my home and remain. “Where’s your home exactly?” “Can you not tell from the way I speak?” “Nah, I don’t leave Sindaleer, much less the northern part. I don’t get to hear too much of a variety of accents.”Nay, I suppose not.” Sabriel gazed up at the sky now tinged with pink and Nick wondered if he should feel insulted. “My way of speaking has changed slightly,” Sabriel continued. “That may be why you do not recognize it as well. I have not been back to Minogloria or the capitol of Anon for a long time.”Nick tried to hide his disbelief, but her eyes flashed as if she knew his thoughts—that most of Minoglorian folk were rich, not accustomed to dirt and grime, well learned, bent over books—hence their nickname of ‘bent’. They traded at the sea ports for their fruit, vegetables and clothes—nothing like the guardians or Sindaleerians. “What part of the country did you live in?” Nick asked, avoiding her glare. He felt Sabriel stiffen beside him. “Near Anon.” “Do you have any family—” Sabriel glanced at him, her mouth drawing into a tight line, stopping his question. She shook her head, and picked up her pace to walk ahead of him. Nick ran a hand over his face as he watched the mysterious guardian with her red hair falling around her shoulders. He caught a glimpse of her bracers on her arms, the flash of a dragon and a foregign tongue visibly carved. He remembered noticin them once before when they’d caught his eye, and he’d been meaning to point them out to her. They seemed foreign to both Sindaleer and Minogloria, and he wondered how a guardian like her had obtained them.
This is well written and entirely absorbing, Kara Lynn! You do a great job of world-building---enough details to paint a strong idea of this place but not too many to follow. I love the name Sabriel. How did you come up with it?Sabriel is a fully realized character here. We get a strong impression of Nick, too, as he observes her. Well done with them! I like how you handled their slightly different dialects. I have a question on something that may need to be clarified: is Anon the capital of Minogloria? If so, maybe you could say, "or the capital, Anon, for a long time." Otherwise I wonder if Anon is another country that has a capital. If you state clearly earlier in the story that Anon is Minogloria's capital, don't worry about changing it to what I said. :) Really, the only other things that I would change are a handful of typos:-Closing quotation marks on Sabriel's first piece of dialogue-Opening quotation marks on "Nay, I suppose not."-"Capitol" should be "capital"-Double quotation marks around "bent." Also, the period goes inside the quotes. (You did it correctly the British way!)-Foreign is misspelled "foregign" at first use-Noticing is "noticin"This sounds like a beautifully told story! I would want to hear the rest of it. :) Best wishes with it, and thanks for sharing and giving me this opportunity!
This is the unedited opening scene of Surrender's Strength, book 3 in my Truth from Taerna series. Thanks for being willing to critique!“Ellisia writes highly of the quality of her education at Academy,” Kelton mentioned at dinner, reaching for another sprouted biscuit and slathering butter inside.Laelara’s chin lifted. “Of course,” she bit off, laying down her spoon in preparation for the discussion she knew must follow. “She always has her nose buried in a book. She’d love anything that let her read, but especially a place with the ridiculously massive BookHall I hear that place boasts. What do you expect?” She tilted her head still higher.“An awfully good opportunity for her, I’m thinking,” Kelton claimed. “For anyone. There’s nothing of the sort anywhere near Frydael. That’s the only place for an education. And so many people nowadays don’t care to educate themselves at all. Anyone with an education can get any job they want.”“If you want a job, you can find one no matter what,” Laelara pointed out, pausing to empty her mug. The sweetness of the acai juice was almost overpowering today. She’d have to tone it down a bit more tomorrow. She frowned at the brownish mix still in the pitcher. “Still, educated people take priority. They can have literally any job they want,” Kelton pointed out. “Most people don’t care about education. Those who do are only in it for the fun of it. Anyone who’s serious has a distinct advantage.”“So?” Laelara asked. “Good for Ellisia.”“I agree with Kelton,” Father spoke up.Laelara scowled again. If Father cared enough about the issue to speak up, he must be serious. What did he have up his sleeve? She scraped her spoon against her empty bowl, refusing to look at him.“I’d like to further my education,” Liliora spoke up from her end of the table, “but Amadel Academy sounds like a place to get only a biased education.”“The atmosphere, perhaps,” Kelton agreed, “but Ellisia says many of the classes are pretty good. And certainly you couldn’t get that quality of education many other places.”“Schools weren’t able to support their overheard costs due to a declining student body, Draewyn says,” Father muttered.“So?” Laelara repeated. “We’re farmers. We make our own living. And we could get jobs anywhere. What do people like us need an education for?”“Maybe we want one, Lae.” Kelton leaned back in his chair. “Maybe we don’t want to be farmers forever.”“Why is that so important to you?” she challenged, her eyes gazing straight into his brown ones.His gaze escaped, seeking the edge of the table. His hand clasped his napkin and he unconsciously squeezed it tightly. She waited, but he said nothing.She shrugged and turned back to the others. “Trivia this afternoon. I’m going. Anyone care to join me?”As usual, silence met her. “Very well. I’ll go alone again.” The house was too quiet since Kaelan had moved out. The boys—Kelton and Kethin—weren’t the most talkative, and neither was Liliora. Father hadn’t participated much in conversations since Mother had died nine years ago.
I love that this opens with a family at the dinner table! I'm guessing this family has already been introduced in the first book of the series? The family's dynamics are very interesting and I find myself wanting to get to know all the members. Their differences of opinion make me curious not only about them, but about their country. I like it that we don't know who to sympathize with yet, and I really want to know more about the issues so I can have my own opinion. :)I enjoy the details of the food, which lets us know that the setting is a special country. And Laelara's thoughts on the acai drink give a great portrait of her! She sounds like the Martha sort. :)My suggestions:-Include bits of characters' physical descriptions. That helps us see the scene and differentiate fully between them. -I'm of the camp that thinks sometimes the simple "said" is better than other dialogue tags. Dialogue tags aren't always terribly important, and if they are an atypical one (such as "claimed") they can subtly draw attention away from the more important dialogue. In connection with this, "pointed out" is used twice in a row, so maybe "said" would be better in one of the cases? However, I wouldn't go replacing all your unique dialogue tags with "said"! I only noticed those two places. It's just something to watch out for and weigh in your mind. I always ask myself, "Is there a good reason why I should use this dialogue tag instead of 'said'?" But you can take or leave that advice. :)Of course, I found no typos, you being an editor. :) I enjoyed this passage very much! I can imagine that readers of the first and second books will love it even more since they already know the characters. I'm extremely curious to see where it goes and what adventures confront this family. Thank you for the opportunity of reading your snippet, and best wishes for your story!
Thank you so much, Kelsey! This is very helpful. Yes, the family is introduced in the first book of the series (Promise's Prayer, which I just released! :)).Yes, Laelara is definitely a Martha sort! You pinpointed her character exactly! Good to know that the brief glimpses into her are effective here.I will definitely try to include more physical descriptions. Thanks!I'm in the dialogue tag camp myself, but I will consider changing some of them - I don't want tags to be distracting. Personally I find "said" distracting when it's used too often and think "said" ought to be held to the same standard of repetition as other words - but that's just me! Thanks for your thoughts. :)
I'm sad that I missed out on this yesterday (I got here too late to enter my writing) but you seem like a wonderful editor! I might have to pay you to look through some of my work someday ;). ~ Savannah scattered-scribblings.blogspot.com
Hi! Now that you've read my post, hast thou any opinions that thou wouldst like to share? I'd love to hear them!