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YA Historical Fantasy


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#1 Brittany Astor

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Posted 21 May 2017 - 12:51 AM

Updated version further down!

 

I dream of dead and dying things.

 

Barren lands void of life. Petals, once vibrantly hued, now brown and curled by decay. Sharp cliff faces buffeted by feral winds and stripped of all vegetation. And rising amongst it all, a giant oak tree, white-limbed and bleeding, wound with spires of thorns.

 

It is the ancient oak I dream of most of all. It calls to me, as if piercing the membrane of a memory I do not recall making. For almost a fortnight I have continued to wake, breathless and chilled to the bone, the metallic tang of blood ripening on my tongue.

 

In sleep, I feel as if I have crossed worlds and oceans, but how can that be true? I have never once strayed from the hot sands of India, nor gone anywhere without the watchful eye of my ayah, Ahdi; a woman who remains at my side so that my mother does not have to. Yet, something about this dead and foreign land is familiar. The truth of it eludes me, plaguing my waking hours.

 

As the daughter of a British officer, I am well-versed in the ways of social propriety and what is expected of a young lady. It is why, despite my growing fears and general unease, I have kept the truth of my night terrors close to my chest. Besides, who is there to confide in? Who would offer me a sample of kind words - a shoulder to cry on? Adhi? Certainly not. The soft-spoken Indian woman may have raised me, but she is my mother’s creature. Adhi’s loyalty is owed to her employer, the Memsahib, and not her sixteen-year-old daughter. Once again I find myself alone.

 

 

I would appreciate any feedback or first impressions!


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#2 JoQwerty

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Posted 21 May 2017 - 06:12 AM

I love the opening lines. Lyrical, almost poetic.

 

I am not so sure about the last paragraph. To my ears the girl's complaint comes off as a bit whiny, especially for a sixteen-year-old.  Or Is that what you want us to think of the heroine at this stage of the story?



#3 Brittany Astor

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Posted 21 May 2017 - 06:20 PM

Thank you!!! I'm glad you think so :)

 

And yes - she is meant to be quite immature to begin with - but I'm not sure if I want to her to come across as 'whiny'. Which bit in particular felt that way to you - the part about being alone?


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#4 JeffJustWrites

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Posted 21 May 2017 - 11:46 PM

I am thoroughly intrigued. I see what Qwerty is saying; the last paragraph is almost juxtaposed against the three above it. It's very jarring, but I'm interested to see where she goes.

 

"I dream of dead and dying things." What an opener. Brava :)

 

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#5 Brittany Astor

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Posted 22 May 2017 - 12:46 AM

Thanks, Jeff! Really appreciate the comments!

 

I'll have a look at this paragraph tonight and see if I can make it a little less jarring!


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#6 JoQwerty

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Posted 22 May 2017 - 01:35 AM

The first sentences give the impression of a mature girl, describing a vivid, troubling dream. But in the last paragraph you write:

 

...I have kept the truth of my night terrors close to my chest...Who would offer me a sample of kind words - a shoulder to cry on?

 

 

Why would a sixteen year old girl need a shoulder to cry on because she had a bad dream? She might be troubled by the dream and try to analyze it in some childish, pseudo-psychoanalytical fashion, but it is hard to believe she would cry over it. The exception might be if she dreamt about someone close to her who recently died. In that case she might wake up in tears and seek a shoulder to cry on, however the dream you describe is different and it is not yet clear why it makes the impression it does on your heroine.



#7 Brittany Astor

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Posted 22 May 2017 - 02:28 AM

The first sentences give the impression of a mature girl, describing a vivid, troubling dream. But in the last paragraph you write:

 

 

Why would a sixteen year old girl need a shoulder to cry on because she had a bad dream? She might be troubled by the dream and try to analyze it in some childish, pseudo-psychoanalytical fashion, but it is hard to believe she would cry over it. The exception might be if she dreamt about someone close to her who recently died. In that case she might wake up in tears and seek a shoulder to cry on, however the dream you describe is different and it is not yet clear why it makes the impression it does on your heroine.

 

This is exactly what I needed, thank you, Jo!

 

I was trying to get across something like... who could she talk about it to / express her fears... I guess I kind of meant 'shoulder to cry on' in a metaphoric sense. I'm not too sure, haha.

 

I will fix this part up!


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#8 kdall

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Posted 29 May 2017 - 05:26 PM

I really like this (also I've spotted some of your edit suggestions for others, and I'm really impressed... apologies for stalking).

 

I think what I'm missing to make her sound less "whiny" is some way that she still likes or understands Adhi as a person. Maybe a detail that she knows about Adhi's background or personal life, maybe something the parent's wouldn't bother knowing, that suggests she spends time thinking about others rather than just living in her own bubble. 



#9 Brittany Astor

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Posted 29 May 2017 - 06:29 PM

I really like this (also I've spotted some of your edit suggestions for others, and I'm really impressed... apologies for stalking).

 

I think what I'm missing to make her sound less "whiny" is some way that she still likes or understands Adhi as a person. Maybe a detail that she knows about Adhi's background or personal life, maybe something the parent's wouldn't bother knowing, that suggests she spends time thinking about others rather than just living in her own bubble. 

Aw, thank you - not stalking at all! I'm flattered!

 

And thank you for that suggestion, that's a nice touch, actually! I'll make sure to do that :)


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#10 Brittany Astor

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Posted 02 June 2017 - 03:15 AM

2nd June, 2017
It's much the same, but a teeny bit more polished after some suggestions from you all. Please let me know your thoughts :)

 

I DREAM OF DEAD AND DYING THINGS.

 

Barren lands void of life. Petals, once vibrantly hued, now brown and curled by decay. Sharp cliff faces buffeted by feral winds and stripped of all vegetation. And rising amongst it all, a giant oak tree, white-limbed and bleeding, wound with spires of thorns.

 

It is the ancient oak I dream of most of all. It calls to me, as if piercing the membrane of a memory I do not recall making.

 

For almost a fortnight I have continued to wake, breathless and chilled to the bone, the metallic tang of blood ripening on my tongue.

 

In sleep, I feel as if I have crossed worlds and oceans, but how can that be true? I have never once strayed from the hot sands of India, nor gone anywhere without the watchful eye of my ayah, Ahdi; a woman who remains at my side so that my mother does not have to.

 

Yet, something about this dead and foreign land is familiar. The truth of it eludes me, plaguing my waking hours.

 

I am both the daughter of a British officer and the graduated pupil of a strict governess. As such, I am well-versed in the ways of social propriety and what is expected of a young lady. It is why, despite my growing fears and general unease, I have kept the truth of my night terrors close to my chest. Besides, who is there to confide in? Who can I turn to for comfort? Adhi? Certainly not. The soft-spoken Indian woman may have raised me, but she is my mother’s creature. Adhi’s loyalty is owed to her employer, the Memsahib, and not her sixteen-year-old daughter. Once again I find myself alone.


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#11 chellina216

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Posted 02 June 2017 - 07:52 AM

I like the first sentence, but maybe not in caps.  Keeping it in its own line is enough to make it stand out.  

 

The rest is great stuff. The last part though feels a little bit told. Maybe turn all that information into dialogue between her and Adhi, mixed in with some of her internal thoughts?  

 

She also sounds like a very mature sixteen year old, which is not a bad thing, but I don't know if that's your intention. 

 

Hope the feedback helps! You're off to a good start. Keep it up. 



#12 Brittany Astor

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Posted 02 June 2017 - 09:06 AM

I like the first sentence, but maybe not in caps.  Keeping it in its own line is enough to make it stand out.  

 

The rest is great stuff. The last part though feels a little bit told. Maybe turn all that information into dialogue between her and Adhi, mixed in with some of her internal thoughts?  

 

She also sounds like a very mature sixteen year old, which is not a bad thing, but I don't know if that's your intention. 

 

Hope the feedback helps! You're off to a good start. Keep it up. 

Thank you very much! It helps a lot!

 

It was my intention to make her very mature, particularly because of the time period (it's set about 1907/1908)


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#13 JustSwizz

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Posted 02 June 2017 - 09:21 AM

2nd June, 2017
It's much the same, but a teeny bit more polished after some suggestions from you all. Please let me know your thoughts :)

 

I DREAM OF DEAD AND DYING THINGS I also really like this opening, though I think it doesn't need to be all in caps. Once you get ready to publish they'll probably decide that with you. And just a small thing, I wonder if you can't make the "dying things" more specific. Right now it's a little vague.

 

Barren lands void of life. Petals, once vibrantly hued, now brown and curled by decay. Sharp cliff faces buffeted by feral winds and stripped of all vegetation. And rising amongst it all, a giant oak tree, white-limbed and bleeding, wound with spires of thorns.

 

It is the ancient oak I dream of most of all. It calls to me, as if piercing the membrane of a memory I do not recall making.

Maybe combine these two sentences into one. Your paragraphs are short, which isn't a bad thing, but it may help ground your story into a single thing instead of quick changes to a new thing.

For almost a fortnight I have continued to wake, breathless and chilled to the bone, the metallic tang of blood ripening on my tongue.

 

In sleep, I feel as if I have crossed worlds and oceans, but how can that be true? I have never once strayed from the hot sands of India, nor gone anywhere without the watchful eye of my ayah, Ahdi; a woman who remains at my side so that my mother does not have to.

 

Yet, something about this dead and foreign land is familiar So this the dead thing she dreams of? Suble hints early on, like I mentioned, may help make this line and what comes before it more powerful and intriguing . The truth of it eludes me, plaguing my waking hours.

 

I am both the daughter of a British officer and the graduated pupil of a strict governess. As such, I am well-versed in the ways of social propriety and what is expected of a young lady I'm losing voice in this sentence--it sounts more like a narrator is relaying this information. It is why, despite my growing fears and general unease, I have kept the truth of my night terrors close to my chest. Besides, who is there to confide in? Who can I turn to for comfort? Adhi? Certainly not. The soft-spoken Indian woman may have raised me, but she is my mother’s creature nice!. Adhi’s loyalty is owed to her employer, the Memsahib, and not her sixteen-year-old daughter Wait, so the sixteen-year-old is the narrator or Adhi's child? The narrator's mother seems to have authority over Adhi, but the mother isn't the Memsahib, right?. Once again I find myself alone I like how simply this ends, but I lose some voice again I think it's the "once again" that throws me. I wonder if you can't play with the line more and maybe change it to something like: "I am alone." It may be more punchy.

 

Nice opening! I love the setting of 1907/1909. It's such an interesting and rich time period!

 

Thank you for the feedback! (:



#14 Brittany Astor

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Posted 02 June 2017 - 09:27 AM

Thanks so much, JustSwizz!! I'll take on board your suggestions!

 

The narrator is the sixteen-year-old daughter of the 'Memsahib', which is what the English ladies that were head of a household were called by their servants during the British Raj in India. The rest of the chapter does clear this up a little - it's hard to give so much fact and clarity within just 250 words :) I hope all questions are answered in the chapter itself.


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#15 kailam

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Posted 28 June 2017 - 04:06 PM

Beautiful writing. This really drew me in. Keep up the good work!



#16 Brittany Astor

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Posted 16 September 2017 - 07:22 AM

Beautiful writing. This really drew me in. Keep up the good work!

 

Thank you so much, Kailam! Apologies for the late reply <3!


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