Saturday, February 26, 2011

Critique Session Entry #3

TITLE: The Night
GENRE: Epic YA Fantasy

Aerael leaned across the basin and reached for a half-used cake of soap. Her necklace came free of her shirt, and the stone cast its unearthly light over the soaking dishes.


“By Yirai,” she muttered, hastily tucking it back beneath her collar with wet fingers.


“Watch your language, young lady."


Aerael jumped and turned around--she hadn’t heard her mother come downstairs.


“You must be more careful. Anyone could’ve seen it.” She stepped into the kitchen, the warm light from the hearth washing her in gold and orange.


“No one’s here, Mother. You really shouldn't be up.”


Her cheeks were flushed with fever. “You’re just fortunate no one was around.”


“The doctor said you should get as much rest as you can.” Aerael picked up the kettle. “Tea?”


“The doctor’s been saying that for many years now. And yes, tea is good.”


“I’ll get the water going. I can bring it up when it’s done.”


Her thin shoulders caved, and her dark, graying hair fell into her face. “I suppose I’ll be in my bedroom.” The steps creaked beneath her slight weight as she went up the stairs.


Shaking her head, Aerael put the kettle over the fire, prepared the ginger-lemon mixture, and poured the hot water over the leaves to steep. She considered the dishes. If she started now, she might forget about the tea and let it get too strong. Better to wait.


Checking the dining room to be sure she was alone, she took a seat on the stone hearth and drew out her necklace.

11 comments:

  1. I find the situation really intriguing, I want to know more about this mysterious necklace and the relationship between the mother and daughter. I would definitely read on! One nitpick though, the line "Aerael jumped and turned around- she hadn't heard her mother come downstairs" you can take out the last part of that sentence, the fact that Aerael jumped will show the readers that she hadn't heard her mom coming down the stairs. Great job! I'm hooked :)

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  2. As a fantasy lover, I'm hooked. I love necklaces in general. :D I like the feel of your world. Only one tiny thing is I feel the word "hastily" wasn't necessary. It felt to me like it distracted me from the moment. Other than that I definitely like this, and would read on. :)

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  3. Oh, how I love fantasy. :)

    You have a great setting here; I was able to "go there" immediately.

    A few things:

    1. the stone cast its unearthly light I would kill the word "unearthly." It made me cringe. It screamed "cliche!" at me. Also? We haven't been introduced to the "earth" of your story, so we don't know what unearthly means.

    Try:

    the stone cast a thin light
    the stone cast a pale/amber/bright/purple light (use color)
    the stone glowed/shone/shined (action verb)

    Also, I understand what you mean about the stone coming free of her shirt, but it's not written clearly. It almost sounds like the stone was attached to her shirt, and fell off. Maybe revisit.

    2. Aerael jumped and turned around--she hadn’t heard her mother come downstairs. Again, I understand what's happening, but this is slightly clunky.

    Try:

    Aerael jumped. She hadn't heard her mother come downstairs.

    3. he stepped into the kitchen, the warm light from the hearth washing her in gold and orange. This is beautiful!

    4. Her cheeks were flushed with fever The pronoun makes this unclear who has a fever. Use "Mother" or whatever you're going to call her.

    5. The steps creaked beneath her slight weight as she went up the stairs. Slight overwriting. We probably don't need the "as she went up the stairs" because we already know she's doing that, since the steps are creaking.

    The steps creaked beneath her slight weight.

    6. If she started now, she might forget about the tea and let it get too strong. Better to wait. She sounds like me! LOL!!

    The final sentence makes me want to read more, which is good. We have a lovely setting, but the conflict needs to be strong and soon if we want to be propelled forward. I'm trusting that the necklace is the point of conflict, so I would definitely read on, at least for a few pages.

    Good work!

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  4. I agree with everything Authoress said! And I would also read on. I want to know about this mysterious necklace. I love epic fantasy, its my genre of choice.

    I really like your first sentence. It put images in my head right away, helped me feel I'm right there with your character, which is a great thing.

    This story has a lot going for it. An interesting mother/daughter relationship. I mysterious object, and some great writing. I think if you clean it up using Authoress' suggestions, you will have a really strong start.

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  5. This is a promising start! Just a few suggestions to smooth out the writing so it flows a bit better.

    ---“By Yirai,” she muttered, hastily tucking it back beneath her collar with wet fingers.

    I had to read this twice to understand she was swearing. I suggest:

    ---the stone cast its unearthly light over the soaking dishes. She tucked it back beneath her collar with wet fingers.

    "By Yirai," she swore under her breath.

    Also, there's a bit of redundancy here:

    --she hadn’t heard her mother come downstairs

    You already demonstrate that by showing her jump.

    --“You’re just fortunate no one was around.”

    This feels like a restatement of the earlier dialogue.

    I like your MC already since she's taking care of her mother. You've made her quite likeable so as a reader, I'll be rooting for her success. Great job!

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  6. Just a warning: I'm not a fantasy girl. But, I'm giving this my best shot. :)

    I agree with everybody else. I think you have a tendency to TELL instead of SHOW, which is, I think, something every author does sometimes. Like someone else said, you don't need to say that she didn't know her mom had come downstairs; we can see that in her jump.

    The fact that she's taking care of her ill mother makes my heart go out to her. SO, even though I don't read your genre, I'm interested!

    Polish a little and come back. Good luck! ^^

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  7. I like fantasy, and I like magical necklaces, so naturally, I was intrigued by this piece. I think you did a very good job keeping the necklace mysterious while still giving the reader enough information to make them curious. We know that people shouldn't know that Aerael has it. I think that does a very good job of introducing tension early on, and it made me want to read more.

    I also thought you did a very good job with the mother-daughter relationship. It seems realistic and the dialogue sounds natural.

    I have mixed feelings about Aerael's name. On one hand, it looks difficult to pronounce. (To me, it sounds like it'd be pronounced Ay-ray-el, but I don't know.) On the other hand, though, it helps establish what genre you're writing in and makes it apparent that the setting isn't Earth in 2011.

    I have a few quick notes: First, if the necklace swinging out of her shirt is a big enough deal for her to swear and be remonstrated by her mother, why would she take it out to look at it later? I would suggest that, when she does look at it later, you emphasize her making sure that she's alone more. (After all, it seems like she thought she was alone earlier, while doing the dishes.) Also, when her mother says "And yes, tea is good", I'd suggest writing that tea sounds good instead; it's a little less confusing that way. Finally, I agree with Helene that you don't need to say that she heard her mother come downstairs.

    Overall, though, I liked this and I would definitely read on.

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  8. I like the premise I'm seeing here -- that she has a necklace that is magical and special and dangerous which will probably get her into a lot of trouble. It promises to be exciting.

    I saw a few logic issues you may want to consider.

    If the necklace is that dangerous, why is she wearing it? Why not keep it in a pocket? And how could anyone else see it in the safety of her own home, as her mother suggests? And if she really isn't safe in her own home, that leads back to the original question of why is she wearing it? I think you have to give us a reason.

    I also wonder why her mother, who is sick with a fever, comes downstairs. It seems just so she can have a conversation about the necklace. Give her a reason for coming down. It can be as simple as wanting a cup of tea, but we should know why she suddenly shows up.

    'The dining room' stopped me momentarily. I had pictured a typical medieval cottage in my mind, so perhaps a bit of description of the house is needed?

    All in all, a good start.

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  9. I'm a bit late with this critique, so everyone has said everything I wanted to mention.

    However, one thing I wasn't sure about was in the first paragraph, where the "necklace came free of her shirt". That confused me. I think you should rewrite and make it clearer.

    I thought this was a very interesting piece. I liked how you used "By Yirai" to show a glimpse of the world. I'm not big on fantasy, but I'd read on.

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  10. Hooked. A very interesting situation.

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  11. Hooked.

    Love-loved this: "She stepped into the kitchen, the warm light from the hearth washing her in gold and orange."

    "...came free of her shirt" pulled me out a bit as I tried to understand what you meant. "slid out from under her shirt," or something similar might be more clear.

    I like the bit about the tea. In "...get too strong," consider a stronger verb than "get," like "brew" or "grow."

    Overall, very sensory-oriented and enough to keep this reader going. Great work.

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