Author Topic: First Chapter of a novel I'm working on-approx 740 words-YA fantasy genre  (Read 712 times)

Offline Toxic64

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Oceania stood in the middle of her bedchamber, with two of her bentas dressing her and applying her makeup. They, themselves, wore amethyst-colored linen dresses with matching head scarves. According to her father, Kalla, it was a sign of his wealth and generosity, as most leaders wouldn’t spare the cost of having his slaves clothed. “You look beautiful, Onqwi,” one of them said.

“Yes, Ean shall praise Ukachutwu when he sees you,” said the other.

“The Tebi don’t believe in the supreme creator or the ta’ajus.”

“Well, they will once they see the onqwi. How else could anyone describe such a beauti-ful vision? Come see for yourself, Onqwi.”

Each of her bentas took her by the hand and escorted her to the full-length mirror: she was in a floor-length, long-sleeved black sheer gown with a gold net comprising amethysts sewn into it. Her long box braids were tucked neatly into her luako, a silk egg-shaped black headdress with an amethyst, the jewel for the royal family, placed in the center-front. Everyone in the royal family wore a luako, the only difference being the size of the amethyst. It went by royal succes-sion, so the uzakwa, as the ruler of the Kanaian empire, had the largest, followed by the onkwa, the heir, then the unqwi, the uzakwa’s wife, and last, the onqwi, the female child of the uzakwa; however, women couldn’t inherit the uzakwa title. On her ears, she wore black X-shaped ear-rings made from ivory with an amethyst at the crisscross. Around her neck Oceania wore a sil-ver necklace with three large sapphires as pendants. It had been her mother’s, her mother’s mother before that, and her mother’s mother’s mother before that. (Every great family had gem-stones that represented and paid tribute to the ta’aju of the region they were from. The lesser families had some type of cloth or clothing the same color as the gemstones. Those who didn’t have any were said to both be and have bad luck.) It didn’t really fit with what she was wearing, it seldom did, but Oceania never went anywhere without it. It was as strange as her relationship with her mother itself: she’d had a very checkered relationship with her mother, but she still loved her.

“See how beautiful you are?” said the second benta. “You must be so excited. I have yet to meet a girl who doesn’t dream of her wedding day.” She and the other benta were looking at her expectantly. She knew what they were looking for, and she knew she had better give it to them. Or else.

She smiled and nodded. “I am, very much so.”

The truth of the matter was she was dreading tomorrow. While she may have had mixed emotions concerning her mother, she knew exactly how she felt about her father. She despised him, and tomorrow he would be forcing her to marry Ean, a man every inch as bad as him, for some alliance with Ean’s father, the ruler of Teba, which was an anomaly: her father would normally just conquer his enemies, but this time they had come to form an alliance because her father couldn’t defeat Teba. The country was said to be fortified by mountains, making it im-pregnable. She wished she could say the same for herself.

When she had been a child, and it had been her and her father, her father’s new wife, Quelsa, and their son, Kalla Qwaa (her treacherous father had remarried only a few moons after her mother had died, and then his new wife gave birth to a boy only two years younger than Oceania a moon after that—a miracle birth, her father had said, granted by the great Ukachutwu to make up for the terrible and sudden passing of the first unqwi, and her inability to produce an heir), she had often hoped and longed for marriage, for someone, anyone, to come and take her away from this life, to give her a new family to escape this one. But now, standing here in this beautiful gown, only a day away from her wedding, she realized what she had really hoped and longed for was her freedom, and a chance to be happy.

Another of her bentas entered the room. “They’re ready for you, Onqwi.”

Her words were like a death drum to Oceania.

Offline landmersm

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The following is my opinion, and my opinion only. Take it with a grain of salt. Also, I try my best to not be negative, just honest. I hope it doesn't come across as mean spirited. It is not my intention.

Fantasy isn't my favorite genre, so maybe I don't know what I'm talking about, BUT, if you're going to insert some difficult names - difficult to spell or say out loud - maybe you should draw the reader in a little more before throwing those curve balls at them. I had a hard time getting past Onqwi and Ukachutwu.  I understand you're trying to build a world, but maybe the first few names shouldn't be little tongue destroyers.

Is the MC's name Onqwi or Oceania?  Is Onqwi something she is?  I was confused and never really figured it out.

Also, amethysts seem to be popular in this world.

I think spending so much time describing what the people are wearing in the first few paragraphs is a mistake. Nothing wrong with fleshing out the details of the world, but this is going to be the first thing people read. Get them invested in the world first and then fill in the details. Example, I'm assuming this is some sort of arranged marriage. You never really say. You spend your time throwing out these strange sounding names and describing what they are wearing. Telling the reader that this young woman (I'm assuming) is being forced to marry for her family's and realm's protection would be a much more interesting start. Make the reader identify or connect with the MC first before throwing all sorts of details about.

Again, take this for what it is: An internet stranger saying things to you.  Best of luck.

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Offline MJTennant

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I am a fan of both YA and Fantasy and would definitely have continued reading this story.  There is a lot of description in there however, which I feel slows the story down - at least the flow of it.  I also found it a bit clunky to read, possibly due to the overuse of punctuation which I don't feel is necessary in some places.

I liked the feel to it though, the use of language sets the fantasy scene well.  Just needs a tweak here and there but this part of the story held me and made me wonder what happened beforehand and how did she get to this point.

Just my thoughts.

Practice makes perfect.

Offline Toxic64

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Thank you for the critiques. I will post more once I'm back from vacation.