Author Topic: The Bird Call, Chapter One (1036 Words)  (Read 517 times)

Offline TK

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The Bird Call, Chapter One (1036 Words)
« on: August 25, 2020, 03:59:05 PM »
Kamroan ran into the bathroom and locked the door behind him. He had checked everywhere else in the house. His journal had to be somewhere in the bathroom or else someone had to have stolen it.

He rummaged through the drawers as quietly as he could. His journal was nowhere to be found.

A bird crashed into the window. Kamroan startled, knocking everything off the counter. He stumbled across the room and opened the window.

A family of starlings happily hopped around the plum tree in the backyard. One of the birds lay in the moss closer to the window. Its wing flopped around and dangled from an exposed bone.

The injured bird hopped nearly a foot then fell to the ground, letting its wing flap to near amputation.

Kamroan put his palm out, turned his head, and squeezed his fist hard. The window shattered. Kamroan's face went hot.His hairline dripped with sweat.

He turned his head back. The spot where the injured bird had lain thrashing about was just a smear of blood and feathers in the moss.

A knock at the door prompted Kamroan to close the blinds.

“You all right in there?” Erred asked.

“Yep!” Kamroan hurried to the door. “Everything’s great!”

Erred nudged Kamroan. “Yudier just made the sickest passthrough at the end of the third quarter. You gotta watch the rest of the game.”

"When are you gonna admit you just watch for Yudier Imenifus close-ups--"

Erred laughed. "That's just a bonus."

"Is everything all right?" Desini called from the living room. Kamroan hurried down the hall with Erred and they all squeezed onto the couch. Erred squished himself between them, barely looking away from the screen.

Kamroan liked to humor Erred occasionally and watch the big games with him, but he never understood the allure of sports in general. The only downside was that any time there was a mage in becklaball, Erred would be the first to object, for fear of cheating.

Before Yudier Imenifus, Erred idolized another player: Tavin Awedi. The day it came out that he was a mage, Erred threw out all of his Awedi gear and never talked about him in a positive light again. Kamroan worried that if Erred found the journal, it would destroy their twenty years of friendship.

Yudier Imenifus apparently did something good, because Erred jumped up from the couch and started dancing.

"Settle down, hot stuff," Mirka said, coming in from the kitchen. She handed Kamroan an envelope with the letters WM written on the front. Wul fa Mittes. Kamroan's father.

"He wrote one for me?"

"Of course he did, idiot."

Kamroan folded the envelope as small as he could and shoved it in his back pocket.

"You're not gonna read it?"

"Not in front of everybody," he said. "Not that I'm looking forward to it. It's probably gonna say exactly what yours said."

"I think you'll be pleasantly surprised." Mirka sat on the couch next to Erred.

The announcer on the screen shouted sports jargon that Kamroan couldn't keep up with if he tried. And he had tried many times before for Erred's sake.

He leaned against the arm of the couch by Desinie.

"Is everyone ready?" Kamroan's mom said, coming in from the kitchen.

"Ready for what?" Desinie asked.

"Lumza celebrated with us for my 25th last year," Mirka said. "I figured she would have at least told you what we did."

"It's time to share with Kamroan," Nikkona said. "I'll go first." She sat in the chair by the couch and scooted it around to face Kamroan.

insert Nikkona's song here

Everyone sat in silence for a moment. Kamroan hoped there wasn't any more to the song.

"Awesome," he said. "I didn't know you could write."

"It's just something you inspired, dear. I hope you enjoyed."

Nikkona stood up and gestured for Erred to take her seat. Erred obliged, but his discomfort was apparent to anyone with working eyes.

"Where should I start?" Erred chuckled. He looked over his shoulder.

Kamroan's pulse raced as Erred's gaze scanned across his journal.

"Ah!" Erred shouted and stuck his hand in the book case.

Kamroan hurried to Erred's side. Erred pulled out a photo album.

"What's up?" Erred asked.

"I just wanted to see the photo album closer." He grabbed his journal behind him but it fell to the floor between his legs. It opened to a drawing of the sigil of the maegices.

Erred picked it up.

The front door slammed open.

"Happy birthday, Kamroan!" Hyoth shouted into the house. He limped inside with Ilaya's help.

Kamroan grabbed his journal from Erred and rushed to help them inside.

"Are you all right?" he asked.

"Yeah, it's nothing," Hyoth said, sitting on the couch. Blood dripped down the side of his neck. "Your aunt and I just got caught by some beast. I'd say we hurt it more than it hurt us."

Ilaya laughed. "That's for sure."

"Is Bhennan getting stuff from the carriage?" Mirka asked.

"No," Hyoth said. "Everyone at the station was sent away because of the fog."

"What? Why?"

"They wouldn't say," Ilaya said.

"Maybe it was because of that beast," Hyoth said.

"There's a beast in the fog and you just left Bhennan out there to deal with it alone?"

"He has Lumza," Desinie chimed in. "She could protect him if they run into the spooky fog beast."

"Hey, it was really scary," Hyoth laughed.

Kamroan slid away from the group and opened his journal to a random page. A potion to turn sweet things savory. A favorite of his as a kid, mainly used to prank Mirka on a hot day. She would reach for a glass of cold lemonade and instantly spit it out, wondering who changed her lemonade out with soup stock.

Erred walked up behind Kamroan. He slammed the journal closed and slid it on the bookshelf.

"Did you want to continue with the sharing thing?" Erred asked.

Hyoth coughed loudly.

"Sure, but maybe it can wait until after the game?"

"Are you all right?" Ilaya asked. Hyoth's coughs gurgled and snapped. He spit out chunks of black phlegm. Still gasping for air between coughs, Hyoth ran to his room. Ilaya followed.

Offline Rosalinda

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Re: The Bird Call, Chapter One (1036 Words)
« Reply #1 on: September 08, 2020, 01:06:06 PM »
This has an interesting tone. Nice that it starts with action, draws the reader in. Can you be more specific than "nowhere to be found?" Can you have him see and or hear something before the bird hits? Might see its shadow or something. What is on the counter? Would be interesting to specify the things he knocked off. Your description of the bird and its plight is good. I don't know why he would break the window. Why wouldn't he just go outdoors and around to where the bird is or was? Have the character look at the screen before he refuses to look away. I don't understand the sentence about the downside. The finding of the journal seems to come too suddenly. Can you work up to it more? General comment: I think you mention way too many characters in this chapter. I would mention fewer and concentrate more on them and their interactions. All the best with this.
« Last Edit: September 08, 2020, 01:08:33 PM by Rosalinda »

Offline PIJ1951

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Re: The Bird Call, Chapter One (1036 Words)
« Reply #2 on: September 09, 2020, 07:03:37 AM »
You appear to write well, but you make your readers work hard in this opening chapter.

I agree with the previous poster - there are too many secondary characters - and they all have really weird names which makes it even more difficult to keep track of who's who (and who we can safely forget about).

The plot arc is also rather jerky:

The bathroom is the last place I would expect any book to be hidden - especially when it turns out it was on a bookshelf all along - so the phoney dramatic opening is a major misstep. Why is there a sudden panic to find the journal at this particular moment in time anyway? That's never explained - unless it's the author's way of letting us in on K's secret. It's a false start in my opinion.

Then we have the strange reaction to the dead starling (presumably a way of displaying K's uncontrollable mage powers - and maybe there's a connection to his father's injury). But you allowed any suspense created by this scene to fizzle away. We're forced to sit and wait for the plot to move forward while this group of friends watch sports followed by birthday preparations and some throwaway lines about a beast in the fog.

I'm sensing there's more intrigue to come, but so far it's a bit of a muddle and the danger is we will end up skim reading in search of the interesting bits.

Good luck.

Offline Idioume

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Re: The Bird Call, Chapter One (1036 Words)
« Reply #3 on: September 17, 2020, 08:35:40 AM »
You are a good writer. I think you could afford to be more precise with your characters. Make them pop out more with some description, you have the skill for it there is no doubt. You have a knack for suspense, I believe. I agree with the other comments. Your issue here could be fixed by allowing characters to feel more memorable, by describing them precisely in very different ways. I hope this helps!

Offline Dugarte

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Re: The Bird Call, Chapter One (1036 Words)
« Reply #4 on: September 19, 2020, 05:17:35 PM »
Hi TK,

Thank you for sharing your chapter with us! I hope you will find my feedback helpful.

I like your opening lines, it thrusts me into the action and it is easy to sympathize with a person missing their journal. I am also acutely aware of the sense of concern for a poor little injured bird, so this is a great way to draw your reader into the story!

When you write "Kamroan put his palm out, turned his head" I felt just a touch lost as I was not sure where Kamroan is putting his hand - like, reach out into the air outside his window? Or reaching for the little bird? It is not a huge deal, but I felt it worth mentioning, in case you want to fiddle with descriptions here to give the reader a little more of a visual cue.

Where you write "Erred squished himself between them," again, this is probably just me nit-picking, but I feel like it might be more clearly stated that Erred squished himself "in the middle" so there is no chance of confusion about who "them" refers to. It's a really minor point, but I just felt like the wording here could be slightly improved.

Reaching the dialogue""Lumza celebrated with us for my 25th last year," Mirka said. "I figured she would have at least told you what we did."" I feel a little lost at this point. It feels like I'm being introduced to character after character in rapid succession, with little to no details about who they are, what they look like, etc. and at this point I don't fully understand what Mirka is referring to. Who is Lumza? The sentence "Lumza celebrated with us for my 25th last year" does not sound exactly grammatically correct to me, as I try to guess at the meaning here. Lumza celebrated Mirka's 25th birthday, which was last year? And now it's Mirka's birthday again? Who is "us?" And the second part "I figured she would have at lesat told you what we did." has me more lost still. Is Lumza the "she" in this sentence? Why does Mirka figure that Lumza would have told the MC what they did? Is it important?

Perhaps slowing down the introductions and giving a little more detail about each character as they enter the scene will help readers keep track of who's who and what's what?

When you say ""It's just something you inspired, dear. I hope you enjoyed." the phrasing felt a little awkward to me. Did you mean "It was inspired by you."?

The sentence "Erred obliged, but his discomfort was apparent to anyone with working eyes." has me a little confused. Why is Erred uncomfortable? The seat is uncomfortable?

By the time we get to "Hyoth shouted into the house. He limped inside with Ilaya's help." I feel like I'm overwhelmed with character names and no descriptions. I wanted to reiterate that I strongly recommend slowing down the pacing and dialogue to include some context of who all these people are, what they look like, why they're gathered, what they're doing, etc. At this point I think we're up to 8 characters in this scene, not to mention the names of the athletes they are viewing, presumably on tv or something. Not only would I like to know more about all these characters, but I'm beginning to feel the need for more information about the world/plot, as it's the beginning of chapter 1 and I am still not sure what is really going on besides someone's birthday party and they have a secret magic power. So far the only sense of urgency or tension has been the MC's missing journal, which they just found on the bookshelf of all places.

While I like the action and dialogue, I think getting more of a sense of where we are and why we should care would help readers feel more invested. A sense of urgency, stakes, or tension are always good motivation.

The very end is a nice hook, as the abrupt intensity gives a sense of urgency and alarm. I think you may capitalize on the concern for Hyoth if we got more of an idea of who everyone is, how Hyoth is related to them, and what everyone's role is in this world. Some sense of mystery is good, but I feel like it's a little too vague as it stands.

Overall, I felt like the writing style is good, direct, and there are hints of some interesting ideas, but I think I'd like to get more meaty descriptions and world-building spaced out between all the character introductions and dialogue.

I'm very curious to read more, and I hope you will continue to share with us. I hope you found my feedback helpful!