Author Topic: New beginning of novel (fantasy, 400 words)  (Read 2197 times)

Offline PretzelGirl

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New beginning of novel (fantasy, 400 words)
« on: March 18, 2010, 07:23:54 PM »
I wasn't happy with the previous start. This one is more to the point of the theme of the novel and sets up the conflict. Does it work? Any comments appreciated. Thank you.

   

        The figure ran almost beside her amidst the colossal tree-trunks. Nuella darted to the side, her foot skidding over a rotting patch of leaves. The earth rose towards her. She righted herself at the last moment and sprung forward. A black, armoured chest blocked her way and his hand clasped around her upper arm.

   Nuella relaxed, inclined her head to glare at her pursuer. “Prince Ciaran, you honour me with your presence.”

   He grinned. The resistance dissolved from her muscles; his amber eyes disarmed her and the smile was not the evil leer she had expected. Through the silk of her sleeve, his thumb stroked and pressed. “You are far from home. In your enemy’s territory; your father would disapprove.”

   “He will only know if you distract me any longer.” She shook him off and turned her back to leave. The air turned to solid against her face. It hummed through her ears and clogged her nose, as if she was swimming through dry water. Nuella’s gasped and staggered back, gulped for breath. “You shouldn’t do that.”

   “I shouldn’t use my birth-given strength?” Ciaran circled her with slow strides.

   “Not in such a way.”

   “What is your strength? Princess.” He stopped and held his arms loosely at his sides. Pale hair hung past his shoulder, his lips curled in a tentative smile. “Would you use it in anger? Maybe you would use it to save your life. What would it take, princess, for you to honour what your birth gave you, what your people gave you?”

   “There is no honour in force.”

   A gust of wind slammed against her. Nuella flew several feet before dropping onto her back. As she forced air into her lungs pain lanced through her ribcage. She rolled to her side and rose to her elbows and knees. Leaves and forest debris hung from the silk gown, which had twisted itself around her legs. Another gust of wind rammed into her side and she spluttered, face down.

   “Stop me!” Ciaran ordered.

   Nuella dug her nails into the earth, its smell cloying her senses. Her eyes burned with suppressed tears and a ball of fury rose from her chest into her throat. She focused on the earthy smell, the moisture of it, and the aching of her fingernails as she dug them in. If the fury took over, if her mind crowded with thoughts of hate, she could very well give Ciaran the satisfaction he wanted.

       Ciaran’s voice came from above her, casting a shadow. “Taking your father’s kingdom will be easier than I thought.”
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Wolfe

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Re: New beginning of novel (fantasy, 400 words)
« Reply #1 on: March 20, 2010, 02:14:02 AM »
I used a trick called reversing the story.

If you reverse the paragraphs, the action becomes stronger and more driven. I recommend you reread the piece from the last paragraph and continue upward.



Ciaran’s voice came from above her, casting a shadow. “Taking your father’s kingdom will be easier than I thought.”

Nuella dug her nails into the earth, its smell cloying her senses. Her eyes burned with suppressed tears and a ball of fury rose from her chest into her throat. She focused on the earthy smell, the moisture of it, and the aching of her fingernails as she dug them in. If the fury took over, if her mind crowded with thoughts of hate, she could very well give Ciaran the satisfaction he wanted.

 “Stop me!” Ciaran ordered.



Notice how the effect feels more dramatic? The implied violence, again reversed and after the fact, creates first-rate imagery as well.

Continue to read your piece in reverse and see if this works for you.

Wolfe
« Last Edit: March 20, 2010, 02:30:44 AM by Wolfe »

Offline A.J.B

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Re: New beginning of novel (fantasy, 400 words)
« Reply #2 on: March 20, 2010, 07:19:00 AM »
The only problem I have with Wolf's inverseion is that in the middle section it ends with saying if the fury took over it would give the prince what he wanted. Yet up until that point  he hasn't asked her to stop him. Only questioned what it would take to use her powers (although I suppose that would count).

I personally thought it worked both ways, however the original way leads into what could really only be a natural weak position for your main character. Yet Wolf's way leads naturally into a confrontaion of sorts, if I am making any sense here of course.

A few things I noticed:

Quote
The air turned to solid against her face.

I would delete the instance of 'to' that I highlighted. I feel it flows better.

Quote
“What is your strength? Princess.” He stopped and held his arms loosely at his sides. Pale hair hung past his shoulder, his lips curled in a tentative smile. “Would you use it in anger? Maybe you would use it to save your life. What would it take, princess, for you to honour what your birth gave you, what your people gave you?”


You may have noticed I highlighted the word 'Princess' twice. You give one a capital P and the other a lower case one. In this case they are both being used in the same way, in place a of a name, so they should both be the same. Not one capital and one not.

I think it could definetly be a first page of a fantasy novel, however I think the opening needs to be more descriptive rather than bringing us straight into the combat. Show the setting before thrusting us into characters that at this point we don't know or care for.

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Re: New beginning of novel (fantasy, 400 words)
« Reply #3 on: March 20, 2010, 07:04:17 PM »
Naturally, they'll be needed changes. ;)

Wolfe

Offline rookie

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Re: New beginning of novel (fantasy, 400 words)
« Reply #4 on: March 22, 2010, 08:50:38 PM »
Hi Pretz, sorry it's been a while.

I'm sure you know (or distantly remember) the drill. Opinions in green, suggestions in purple. I just want to start by saying that I think your action is orders of magnitude better than your speech. It's all good, but your action is great.

I think that might just be me, because I don't read a lot of fantasy fiction (I mean, LOTR etc. adorns my shelf, but I haven't read any recent fantasy lit.) so it's difficult for me to get used to the melodramatic backdrop; if it is just me, sorry for flagging it up. Really just wanted to say that, as always, I like the action-descriptions muchly (yes, that's right. You get your own made-up word).





---'tree-trunks.'
"Tree trunks" is fine. No hyphen.

---'her foot skidding over a rotting patch of leaves.'
I think "rotten" instead of rotting, just because "rotting" seems to imply that they're decomposing as she skids over them (which, whilst true, doesn't add to the speed of the description, if you know what I mean).

---'The earth rose towards her. She righted herself at the last moment and sprung forward.'
It might help the speed (again) if you combine these into one sentence -- it's clear she rights herself because she's slipped, so it can all be included in the one action:

-The earth rose towards her and she righted herself, springing forwards into the chest of a man who blocked her path'

---'A black, armoured chest blocked her way and his hand clasped around her upper arm.'
I'm not sure there's enough description here -- we barely know the man's there and he's already the Point of View (c.f. 'his hand clasped around'). Maybe introduce him more slowly (as above) as an obstacle and describe how Nuella feels his hand on her arm? Just a thought.

---'Nuella relaxed, inclined her head to glare at her pursuer.'
She's just been running, slipped, and run into what is essentially a metal wall and she...relaxes? Perhaps a sentence just for her to catch her breath? Also, I don't like "inclined her head" -- just seems a little technical.

---'He grinned. The resistance dissolved from her muscles'
1) The switch of P.O.V. is a little jarring.
2) We already know she's relaxing, so the second sentence isn't really needed at all, I don't think.



---'the smile was not the evil leer she had expected.'
What was it then? Was it seductive? Was it erudite? aloof? ...does he even have lips? ;) Negative comparison only gets you so far :)

---"Through the silk of her sleeve, his thumb stroked and pressed."
It's quite hard to visualise stroking and pressing at the same time -- perhaps:

His rough hands brushed along her arm... (sort of thing)

---“He will only know if you distract me any longer.” She shook him off and turned her back to leave.
I think you can reverse the two sentences here -- her shaking him off is probably more important as it emphasises her impatience with him.


---'The air turned to solid against her face. It hummed through her ears and clogged her nose, as if she was swimming through dry water. Nuella’s gasped and staggered back, gulped for breath. “You shouldn’t do that.” '

I don't know what everyone else thinks, but I don't think you need the first sentence at all -- it's obvious from the rest of the writing that something's happened to the air to make it impedimental -- also..."nuella's gasped"...hmm

---“What is your strength? Princess.”
Is hejust asking a question or is 'Princess' a pointed statement in its own right? If not, the question mark needs to go at the end of the sentence.

---' tentative smile.'
Again, could just be me -- but this man doesn't seem tentative.

---“Would you use it in anger? Maybe you would use it to save your life. What would it take, princess, for you to honour what your birth gave you, what your people gave you?”
The struck through bit, I think can go. The bit in bold, I think is a little wordy, but I'm not sure how to change it just yet (sorry -- I'm a little tired. I'll pop back later and give it a go)

---'A gust of wind slammed against her and she flew several feet before dropping onto her back.'
just a suggestion -- again, I'm just combining two connected actions to increase speed.

---'As she forced air into her lungs pain lanced through her ribcage as she rolled onto her side and rose to her hands and knees.
(again, speed and 'elbows and knees' seems a little too awkward)

---'Leaves and forest debris hung from the silk gown, which had twisted itself around her legs.'

---'Another gust of wind rammed into her side and she spluttered, face down.'

   “Stop me!” Ciaran ordered.
Not sure about ordered. It seems to imply power, where I think here you want to give the power to Nuella as she resists him. Perhaps. 'shouted' or 'cried' or -- perhaps -- 'laughed'. Just ideas.

---'Nuella dug her nails into the earth, its smell cloying her senses.' Her eyes burned with suppressed tears and a ball of fury rose within her chest. She focused on the earthy smell, the moisture of it, and the aching of her fingers as she dug them into the ground.'

'If the fury took over, if her mind crowded with thoughts of hate, she could very well give Ciaran the satisfaction he wanted.'
Love the first bit of the sentence...really liked where you were going and then... satisfaction? That's the sum total of her anger and fury...satisfaction? If I were you, I'd go on to talk about the destruction she could wreak, but that's just me :)

---Ciaran’s voice came from above her, casting a shadow. “Taking your father’s kingdom will be easier than I thought.” '



I hope that helps, Pretz. It's always a pleasure to read your stuff. (also, I agree with Wolfe on the reversal -- putting the action first and the explanation later does increase the force of the piece [which, quite horribly, makes many of the changes I suggested almost entirely moot] )

rookie

Offline PretzelGirl

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Re: New beginning of novel (fantasy, 400 words)
« Reply #5 on: March 22, 2010, 11:18:34 PM »
a belated thank you to Wolfe (I'm still pondering over your suggestions... I like the effect, I'm just trying to figure out how the apply it throughout)
and now Rookie - very in depth, and very helpful.
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Offline A.J.B

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Re: New beginning of novel (fantasy, 400 words)
« Reply #6 on: March 23, 2010, 02:16:25 PM »
There was one thing I forgot to mention and Rookie seems to have picked up on it.

The bit where you say the earth is 'cloying her senses' should not be in there. I have this pet hate about the word cloying as people tend to use it in the wrong sense.

Cloying means 'overly sweet'. For example the scent of a sweet shop could be considered cloying, but the scent of the earth really couldn't.

It is a word that crops up in fantasy more than any other genre I find and it just sets my claxons off.

It's one of those words that not many people know the meaning of yet because they have seen it wrongly used in novels think it fits in most situations. It's also one of those words that looks like it belongs in most situations.

As you can see by the length of this post that has been spent analysing one single word, I get really anal about that word. :P
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Offline PretzelGirl

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Re: New beginning of novel (fantasy, 400 words)
« Reply #7 on: March 23, 2010, 05:28:00 PM »
True, I don't like the word either, but just for the sake of it: it doesn't have to mean something is literally sweet, does it? I mean, usually yes, but it also conveys too much of something pungent. But never mind that I've decided it's going anyway.
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Offline rookie

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Re: New beginning of novel (fantasy, 400 words)
« Reply #8 on: March 23, 2010, 07:51:57 PM »
Haha. Good call Pretz -- you don't want to set AJB's claxon's off ;)

Offline Compounder621

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Re: New beginning of novel (fantasy, 400 words)
« Reply #9 on: May 23, 2010, 05:49:39 PM »
 I read and reread your piece- it's not even adequate. Considering the drubbing you gave my piece I really expected so much more.
 And by the way, what is dry water, as in 'she felt like she was swimming in dry water'?  
 The phrase 'cover girl' as in she had a flawless covergirl face', I and the rest of the world know, it is even in the dictionary but dry water simply does not exist, in fact it can't exist. It is an oxymoron.
 You can't just make up senseless phrases like that and expect them to go unnoticed. Again I'm disappointed. Surely you can do better than that. Compounder621
« Last Edit: May 23, 2010, 08:55:05 PM by Compounder621 »

Offline Khad

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Re: New beginning of novel (fantasy, 400 words)
« Reply #10 on: May 23, 2010, 06:29:55 PM »
Hi PretzelGirl

This is not my genre but I did enjoy the construction of your story.

I like the description and the flow

Well Done

Ken
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Offline PretzelGirl

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Re: New beginning of novel (fantasy, 400 words)
« Reply #11 on: May 24, 2010, 07:23:52 AM »
I read and reread your piece- it's not even adequate. Considering the drubbing you gave my piece I really expected so much more.
 And by the way, what is dry water, as in 'she felt like she was swimming in dry water'?  
 The phrase 'cover girl' as in she had a flawless covergirl face', I and the rest of the world know, it is even in the dictionary but dry water simply does not exist, in fact it can't exist. It is an oxymoron.
 You can't just make up senseless phrases like that and expect them to go unnoticed. Again I'm disappointed. Surely you can do better than that. Compounder621

Thank you compounder621, I'm glad I had such an effect on you. One day I hope you move on from the defensive reaction you're having to being more open to honest feedback.

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opinion about what he/she reads. Just keep that in mind.

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Offline Alice, a Country Gal

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Re: New beginning of novel (fantasy, 400 words)
« Reply #12 on: July 02, 2010, 09:45:17 PM »
Pretzel Girl, I hope you'll forgive me for breaking into your thread, but I felt this was a good time to remind members that we do have a few guidelines and rules.

If you haven't read those that apply to this board, please take a moment and visit this link, giving special attention to #12:

http://www.mywriterscircle.com/index.php?topic=24729.0

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