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Lauren's light, historical fantasy (edited)--will return critique


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#1 smoskale

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Posted 11 November 2017 - 04:36 PM

“They are going to kill her. It’s been decided.”

 

The man’s wife, the only audience for his matter-of-fact remark, stopped abruptly, almost spilling the dirty dishes in her hands. In a raspy voice, she asked, “nothing can be done?”

“If we try to stop them they will kill us, too. They will kill our children.”

 

Turning to her husband, a crudely constructed man with a lazy look in his heavy-lidded eyes, the woman pleaded, “Marc, can’t we take her somewhere for a time? Just to wait it over?”

 

Marc leaned forward menacingly. “Don’t be stupid! To wait what over? You know the baker’s wife and daughter are dead, Smith has lost two children this week, and my brother’s youngest is dying, if he has not already—God bless his little soul. Almost every house in the village had a death or will have one very soon. You want to wait until the whole village is dead?”

 

The woman’s voice trembled, her eyes teared up. “You can’t think she is causing the plague! She is only twelve! What does she know? What can she do?”

 

“She knew enough to heal Smith’s apprentice when he got burned. I saw it with my own eyes. She put some herbs in the water, and said something over them, then sprinkled the water over the burn, and the wound closed up. With my own two eyes I saw it, so don’t tell me she knows nothing! He hardly even has a scar, and those kinds of burns can kill you, that’s what Smith said.



#2 albarchs

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Posted 12 November 2017 - 04:08 PM

“They are going to kill her. It’s been decided.”

 

The man’s wife, the only audience for his matter-of-fact remark, stopped abruptly, almost spilling the dirty dishes in her hands. In a raspy voice, she asked, “nothing can be done?”

 

“If we try to stop them they will kill us, too. They will kill our children.”

 

Turning to her husband, a crudely constructed man with a lazy look in his heavy-lidded eyes, the woman pleaded, “Marc, can’t we take her somewhere for a time? Just to wait it over?”

 

Marc leaned forward, carrying his full weight over the table. (adverbs are good. But since you're using classic show/vs tell to display his intimidation without directly stating it, an extra movement conveys it better. “Don’t be stupid! To wait what over? You know the baker’s wife and daughter are dead, Smith has lost two children this week, and my brother’s youngest is dying, if he has not already—God bless his little soul. Almost every house in the village had a death or will have one very soon. You want to wait until the whole village is dead?” (This dialogue is long. I get the impression Marc is a big mouth, he like's to talk.)

 

Her lip, cut from their last fight, quivered.  She flared her nostrils, water bubbling in her lower lids. God, here it comes again. (Tears in eyes is fine but it's just that. This is your style vs mine. I think relying solely on physicality is a huge mistake, especially in fantasy. You could make the argument you only need one sentence but this feels like it's important/been bubbling in the backstory for the wife.)  “You can’t think she is causing the plague! She is only twelve! God have mercy. Don't look me like that.” (Dialogue is a good time to build character. Using ain't or Ya, or the 17th century equivilant of lower class speak is a way of characterization. There's nothing wrong with this dialogue but it reminds me of stage play dialogue.)

 

“She knew enough to heal Smith’s apprentice when he got burned. I saw it with my own eyes. She put some herbs in the water, and said something over them, then sprinkled the water over the burn, and the wound closed up. With my own two eyes I saw it, so don’t tell me she knows nothing! He hardly even has a scar, and those kinds of burns can kill you, that’s what Smith said. (Big old dialogue. This is fine here and there. It works when characters need to convey important info. Don't be afraid to mix dialogue, light exposition, narrative voice, and other tools together.)

My immediate impression: MFA style fantasy. Maybe this is your style. For the first 250 words, I'm concerned it's not doing it's job.

 

My questions are these:

What's the POV: Third omni or close? It reads like omni. Is it though?

Setup: Dialogue is hard to draw in. There's a reason why many opening hooks are killer. Yours? Ehh. In fantasy, most writers tend to mix their narrative voice with character voice. I want to hear the way you tell your story. Don't be afraid to put this line narration/narrative.

 

They are going to kill her. It's been decided. vs "They are going to kill her. It's been decided." It immediately changes the draw/hook. Is it perfect? No. But notice how different that line in in narration/your voice. That line there would get me to keep going.

 

Here's the beginning of Baru Cormorant: Trade season came around again. Baru was still too young to smell the empire wind. This works well because it sets the tone of the story, the clever phrase "empire wind" works. Obviously, you can't smell an empire literally. But its little phrases like that, details in the narrative that keeps it going. Then Dickinson blasts through three hundred words of ten years of her life.

 

I used to do this. I used a lot of physicality, lack of worldbuilding, heavy dialogue, that MFA style writing. I still use it but only for modern/near future style stories. Runner is like that. Short on exposition. Heavy on dialogue/physicality.

 

It might be that you immediately switch to Lauren but it's not clear.

 

I'm concerned your story is going to be show heavy. It's like Orsen Scott Card said: "If you can summarize it, then you don't need to show it." And 90,000 words of show is not as dense as you might think.

 

Still, this is good. It's only my opinion too.






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