Red Pencil Thursday
I often don’t know the volunteer for Red Pencil Thursday personally. However, today I’m quite well acquainted with our guest writer. She’s my daughter, LisAnne. She’s been working on a fantasy story for a while and I’ve been giving her a few pointers. In the interests of helping others, she agreed to join our online critique group today.
As usual, my comments are in red. LisAnne’s responses are in blue. I hope you’ll offer your ideas and suggestions in the comment sections.
Some books use the main character’s name as the title–The Great Gatsby or Oliver Twist, for example. But I think you need a different title, something that tells more about what type of story this will be.
Thinking of DawnWeaver for the title actually.
That sounds much more like a fantasy title to me. The function of a title is to be your first hook, to pique your reader’s interest. It’s your promise of what’s to come.
“No more arguments, Thorne. My brother and father are all I have left. I’m not leaving either of them on this island.” Exasperated, Kyrie Eliason signaled for another ale. It was a shame Master Strom didn’t allow weapons in his taproom.
Much stronger than your previous beginning. (The story used to start with the weather, which is a kiss of death unless your hero/heroine is a meteorologist.) I’m not sure you need Exasperated. You’ve done a terrific job showing how she feels with her dialogue and the wicked thought about weapons in the taproom. You don’t need to tell us too.
I will consider this change. I know that showing is always better than telling, but I do love the word Exasperated. Also thinking of changing the first sentence to “There is a price on your head, Thorne. If I turn you in for the bounty maybe then you’ll leave me alone.”
Oooh! I like that. Let’s see if the rest of the RPT gang agrees.
“You Eliason’s are so stubborn. I should tie you up and fly you off the island myself.”
“With your wingspan? You couldn’t carry nine stone of unwilling passenger over the river. Now calm down before you start molting.”
Snort! Great way to establish Kyrie and Thorne’s relationship and his unique attributes in an economy of words. Is there a little unrequited love on his part? I’d like that. Their growing relationship could be a very strong subplot.
Yes, she sees him mostly as another brother. His interest is much less familial. ;)
Annoyed, Thorne Greywing sighed heavily and stared through the window at the snow piling up outside.
Good visual, but you have 4 other senses. What else can you use? Wind noise? Or is it the silent snow that muffles all other sounds? Or smells. For example… is there a fresh breath of winter sneaking through chinks in the casements …
Good thoughts all. There’s something about staring out of the window, not wanting to look at her that speaks to me about this scene. I could perhaps use another sense to convey the same meaning… Something to ponder
“You know what will happen if you’re taken into the Temple?”
“I would die before I let that happen,” she replied.
“That’s what I’m afraid of. Why would you spend your life so cheaply?” he asked.
“You’re lecturing me about spending my life cheaply. You, who fights for the highest bidder? Spare me.”
“Fine. But what good would you be to your father if you’re in prison or dead?” With that he downed the last of his beer, shook out his wings and left.
Excellent hooks. You’ve given us some hints at what the major conflict is. Obviously neither of them want Kyrie involved with the Temple and she dislikes his career choice. The trick to writing a fast-paced read is to only give your reader what they absolutely need to continue. You’ve followed that rule here. Good work.
She leaned both elbows on her table in the common room of the Maiden’s Tear. Kyrie was fast working on her third pint in an effort to quell the anger burning inside her. The Exalted Vedic from the Ruby Temple decreed all women between the ages of sixteen and thirty must serve in the temple and all young men between eighteen and thirty-five must serve in the Army of Light. The edict included both Kyrie and her twin brother Flynn.
This feels a little like an info-dump, but you’ve been brief about it. You might tighten your prose a bit like this: The Exalted Vedic decreed all women between the ages of sixteen and thirty must serve in the Ruby Temple and all young men between eighteen and thirty-five must report to the Army of Light. It eliminates the echo of temple and serve.
I will think about how I want to reword this.
Why is Thorn exempt? This might be a good place for a quick bit about Rhumens. Emphasis on quick.
He is exempt because he is a fugitive and not actually a citizen of the city and therefore outside of their jurisdiction.
Kyrie took a long sip of ale. She shuddered at what she might have to do “in service of Mentras.”
Substitute would for might and your sentence, and her dilemma, will be stronger.
True. Consider it done.
A blast of wind and a swirl of snow entered the common room as a swarthy band of rough-looking day laborers roared in, stomping the snow from their boots and shedding their cloaks in the fire light. Each one dutifully knelt before the statue of Mentras. They each touched the first two fingers of their left hands to their foreheads, then their lips, then to the hoof of the god. After this, they made their way to the bar. In recent years, Thalmian had become a stronghold for the disciples of Mentras, the bullish god of fertility. The deity was a favorite of lusty ale drinking men and loose women.
I think you could cut the 2 last sentences without losing any meaning. They smack of author intrusion and you’ve just given us a clear picture of who the devotees of Mentras are.
I will consider this also. I’m not too attached to those.
Kyrie watched the scene with ill concealed contempt but she remained quiet. She didn’t want to start any trouble. Not today. She ordered her fourth pint and stared into the fire.
Ill-concealed needs a hyphen.
The men ordered as they sat. They began a rowdy conversation about a King and Horsemen match they’d seen the previous day. They bellowed at one another and groped the serving wenches as they scurried by. Kyrie observed, but remained silent. One of the barmaids tripped while eluding a pinch and accidentally knocked the idol of Mentras over. Everything in The Maiden’s Tear stopped.
Your casual mention of a King and Horseman match is excellent worldbuilding. We have no idea what this sport is about, but it’s another good clue (like Thorne’s wings and the Ruby Temple) that we are not in Kansas.
We don’t need you to tell us Kyrie is observing. We’re in her POV. We know she is, so I’d strike that sentence.
I’ll probably reword.
I’m not feeling much weight in Everything in The Maiden’s Tear stopped. Is there a more dramatic way of showing how the entire pub went dead silent after the idol crashed to the floor? It’s a safe bet something bad is going to happen because of it. Set your stage now.
Oooh! Someone could gasp. People could turn away from the scene (not wanting to see the consequences.) And then silence falls on the room. I will percolate on this scene a bit.
Percolating is good.
One of the day laborers cuffed the woman who went sprawling to
And here ends our first 500 words. I’m loving this story (and not just because I’m your mom!) and look forward to reading more of it. Thanks for being a volunteer for Red Pencil Thursday.
Bio: LisAnne lives in Southern Missouri. Last year, she received her Padi Open Water Diver Certification and took up kickboxing and Zumba. A lifelong fan of the outdoors, she spends as much time as possible at the lake in the summertime.
Lis forgot to mention she also has a black belt in Tai Kwan Do and has led several mission trips to Nicaragua. I promised her she’d receive some feedback from my readers, so I’m counting on you to hop in with your comments.
What do you think? Which of the two opening sentences do you prefer?