Red Pencil Thursday

Red Pencil ThursdayI 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.

Kyrie Eliason

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.

Chapter 1

“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.

Done!

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.

LisAnne GroeBio: 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?




. 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 beginning that you used to have. Good work.

“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 their 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.

Annoyed, Thorne Greywing sighed heavily and stared through the window at the snow piling up outside. Good visual. What other senses can you use? Wind noise? Or is it the silent snow that muffles all other sounds? Or smells. For example…The fresh breath of winter sneaking through chinks in the casements …

“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.

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.

Why is Thorn exempt? This might be a good place for a quick bit about Rhumens. Emphasis on quick.

Kyrie took a long sip of ale. She shuddered at what she might have to do “in service of Mentras.”

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

Kyrie Eliason You need a different title, something that tells more about what type of story this will be.

[D1]

Chapter 1

“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 beginning that you used to have. Good work.

“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 their 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.

Annoyed, Thorne Greywing sighed heavily and stared through the window at the snow piling up outside. Good visual. What other senses can you use? Wind noise? Or is it the silent snow that muffles all other sounds? Or smells. For example…The fresh breath of winter sneaking through chinks in the casements …

“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.

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.

Why is Thorn exempt? This might be a good place for a quick bit about Rhumens. Emphasis on quick.

Kyrie took a long sip of ale. She shuddered at what she might have to do “in service of Mentras.”

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.

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.

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.

One of the day laborers cuffed the woman who went sprawling to


[D1]You need a different title, something that tells more about what type of story this will be.

of lusty ale drinking men and loose women.

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.

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.

One of the day laborers cuffed the woman who went sprawling to

28 thoughts on “Red Pencil Thursday

  1. Maurine H says:

    LisAnne,
    I hope I’m not too late to comment, but what a great beginning! Like Karri said, I find a lot of fantasy hard to follow or bogged down with world-building at the beginning. This is a perfect balance of setting us in the scene and not going overboard. You show a lot of talent and I would read more of this given the chance.
    I agree with “There is a price on your head” for the first sentence, but I feel that leaving the second sentence about her family helps to establish conflict.
    I agree with most of what has been said by others. I’m lousy with titles, so I’m not touching that one. My wips are always titled the hero and heroine’s names.
    “Annoyed, Thorne Greywing (love the names, btw!). . . at the snow piling up outside.” Piling snow gives the impression of no wind, so the sentence about the “blast of wind” comes as a surprise later. If the snow drifted outside, it would agree with the wind blast. Just a thought.
    “. . . swarthy band of rough-looking day laborers . . .” doesn’t tell me much about these men. Were they dirty? Was their hair matted and unkempt? Did they smell like they hadn’t bathed in a year? What made them “rough-looking?” My dictionary defines “swarthy” as being dark-skinned. Are dark skinned people laborers in this world? Or does it matter what color their skin is? Would a different word describe your characters better?
    “Each one dutifully knelt before . . . made their way to the bar.” This could be tightened:
    Each one dutifully knelt before the statue of Mentras, touching the first two fingers of his left hand (“each” has only one left hand) to his forehead, lips, and to the hoof of the god. Afterward, they made their way to the bar.
    You don’t need to include “then” because things happen chronologically in fiction.
    There are two places where you say Kyrie watched or observed (same thing). In my opinion, you don’t need either. As Mia said, we’re in her POV so we understand that what you describe is through Kyrie’s eyes. If you want to let the reader know that she felt contempt, you could rewrite the next sentence:
    She didn’t want to start any trouble but struggled to conceal her contempt.
    I was disappointed to see this end, especially in the middle of the next sentence. What a teaser! I understand the 500 word limit, but please! Now I have to read the rest. Great start.

    1. LisAnne says:

      You gave me a lot of things to think about, Maurine. Thank you! I’m very grateful for your constructive comments!

  2. LisAnne, I loved this opening! I am an avid fantasy reader and I can say that I haven’t been hooked like this by an opening scene in a long time. I liked your opening line because it gives us something to like about Kyrie, but I like the idea of knowing that Thorne is a wanted man. Combining the two might be ideal. Everybody else caught the nitpicky details, so I have nothing to add there. Great job!

    1. LisAnne says:

      Thank you Cassy! I appreciate your comments and encouragement. I’m still definitely working on how to phrase that first line. Getting closer all the time. ;)

  3. Hi Mia,
    Happy Birthday.
    You should have extra candles today for having an excellent Daughter-becoming an author. Thanks for sharing her with us.
    LisAnne,
    Great story idea. I like combinging both starts. You had to explain why he was exempt from the mandate. This covers that at the beginning. Also giving her reason to fight for her family. I have been wondering what kind of creatures they will be?

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      Thanks, Janet. I’m always proud of LisAnne. Whatever she decides to tackle, she usually accomplishes.

  4. I’m truly impressed! I don’t read much in fantasy, but I’d definitely keep reading this book. Sorry I don’t have much more than that to add…

    Oh, I do like the suggestion from Darcy to combine the two beginnings.

    1. Mia says:

      Just goes to show that the genre isn’t nearly as important as creating engaging characters when it comes to snagging a reader’s imagination.

  5. Barbara Britton says:

    Hi LisAnne,
    You have done an excellent job hooking the reader with sexual tension and religious tension. Like your mom, I’m not too keen on the title. There was a song named Kyrie Eliason in the 70’s or 80’s and now it is running through my head.
    The crash of the idol could be pepped up a bit with that “show” aspect and also you could give the reader an idea of what it is made of.
    Awesome beginning.
    And…Happy Birthday, Mia!

    1. Mia says:

      Thanks, Barbara. I’m having a great Bday!

  6. Barb says:

    What a good start!! I could never write fantasy–my imagination doesn’t have it :)

    This beginning certainly grabs my interest. Is it YA? I get the idea she must have just turned 16 and that’s why she must leave so fast. (Or….maybe I’m just jumping to conclusions :)

    If, in that ‘info part’ of what the Vedic requires, you mean to establish why she needs to get off the island, it may be an important clue to the urgency she feels.But as some have mentioned, maybe you could say it a bit differently. Maybe she could think something along the line of— now that she’d turned 16, she had to leave the island before she’d be forced into the mandatory service to Vedic.

    I also agree that the ‘show-stopping’ tumbling over of the idol might get more emphasis–let us see that drama unfold.

    This is a super start. Congratulations, LisAnne, for your talent AND for taking the step of allowing your work to be critiqued in such a public place. Good luck!!!

    1. Mia says:

      YA is such a hot market right now. If Kyrie is a teen, so much the better. Having her reach the age where the edict affects her is a good inciting incident to kick off the story.

  7. Marcy W says:

    I was going to say I liked the opening with the bounty on Thorne’s head, but then read Darcy’s comment above, and think it could work to combine the two bits of info and make it richer right away. As to title, both are good; this may be a case where you’ll need to wait till the book is ‘fully birthed’ and see what name it wants?!
    This is a good tight opening, LisAnne, and I’m very eager to see more. You’re doing a good job of your mom’s mantra “show, don’t tell”, and I think that’s really difficult for many writers. Keep going, please!
    One editing note (can’t help myself), second para, “Eliason’s” doesn’t need the apostrophe, as it’s not showing ownership, but is just a plural.
    Thanks to both mom and daughter!

    1. LisAnne says:

      Thank you, Marcy! I promise the Eliason’s is fixed in my actual manuscript. Mom has an old copy. ;) I am still working on how I want to word that first sentence. I appreciate the feedback!

  8. darcy says:

    Hopefully you’re not going to get this twice. It said I made an error the first time.

    I’ve got to go against the tide here. I like the second sentence in the first version very much. It tells me how much her family means to her. I would be tempted to combine–There’s a price on your head, Thorne. I won’t let you involve my dad and brother. Snow is always silent, in my humble opinion, but she’s in a tab room—what does it smell like? There’s a fire in the hearth. Popping? Smokey? What kind of clothes are they wearing? Coarse fabric? Soft? The wooden tables–worn smooth from thousands of hands or rough and they must be careful not to get slivers? What about the wings? Can they touch the feathers? There’s lots to potential for tactile and smells. I think there’s another talented writer in the making, just like her mommy. You go, girl!

    1. LisAnne says:

      Thank you for your input, Darcy! I appreciate the thought of combining the two. The first line is still a work in progress, so I will think about how to do that effectively.

    2. Mia says:

      Excellent compromise, Darcy. Trust you to find the right balance between the two openers.

      Your suggestions for more sensory input takes me back. I still remember you complaining you couldn’t “smell” some of my scenes!

  9. Jane L says:

    WOW! Just like your mom, tons of talent! I really like the bounty sentence also. Sends a message of why? what? Keeps the reader wanting to to read more!

    I also like the fact, not to many characters introduced in the first page. Simple and easy to follow, if your new to the Genre!

    I usually am not a fan of Fantasy, but honestly I am interested in continuing on to read more! That is an amazing accomplishment for a writer in such a short span. I think with the small tweaks suggested above , you have a great story.

    Thanks for being brave and sharing. Well done!

    1. Mia says:

      LisAnne adds more characters as the chapter unfolds, but you’re right, Jane. In the beginning, it’s important to cement the reader’s bond with the main characters. If you start with a cast of thousands, it’s hard to identify the important ones.

    2. LisAnne says:

      Thank you for your encouragement, Jane! I appreciate it a lot!

  10. Kat Duncan says:

    A great beginning! I love fantasy novels and this one has a nice rich feel to it as if I could get lost in this world and not want to leave. I like the “Lord have mercy” title. I didn’t expect it to be the character’s name. Interesting.

    I vote for the “price on your head” first line. Also, I’d strike the line where Thorne looks out the window because it shifts focus away from their banter just at the critical point where Thorne’s words tell us he’s worried about her.

    You probably do want to rework the info dump about the Exalted Vedic. I feel as if the character is telling me about her anger instead of feeling it. I’m not sure that 3 and 4 pints of ale help me decide that she’s different from the laborers who come in. I want to believe she’s different and special, but I can’t join her in looking down on the laborers if she’s too much like them. I don’t understand her contempt of them at this point.

    So, what happens next? I want to read more…!

    Mia, you have every right to be proud! :)

    1. Mia says:

      You nailed it, Kat when you said the character is telling us about her anger instead of feeling it. I knew there was something not quite right there. That’s it exactly.

      Excellent suggestions.

      1. LisAnne says:

        Thank you for your insightful comments! I will certainly take them into consideration. :)

    2. LisAnne says:

      Yes, the info dump feels a bit heavy. I am still working on ways to make that better. Thank you for your thoughts!

  11. Karri Lyn Halley says:

    I like the opening sentence about the bounty on Thorne because it immediately establishes a sense of danger and sets up the idea that Thorne has done something naughty to have a price on his head! I often find the beginning of fantasy stories difficult to follow, but I feel that I understand the set up here. Now, I need to know what happens next!

    1. Mia says:

      Agreed on the opening sentence. The “bounty” version establishes more of Thorne’s character in an economy of words. Kyrie’s devotion to her family can be tucked in a little later.

  12. Edie Ramer says:

    I enjoyed this first page! Mia, you hit on everything I could think of – and more. Very well done by both of you.

    1. Mia says:

      Thanks, Edie.

      I’m not a regular fantasy reader, though I love CL Wilson’s work and, of course, Tolkien. Because of that, I worry that I may have missed some reader expectations of the genre.

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