Jump to content

Disclaimer



Photo

Unnamed - YA High Fantasy - first intro of character


  • Please log in to reply
2 replies to this topic

#1 missbee

missbee

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 10 posts
  • Literary Status:just starting
  • LocationUS Midwest
  • Publishing Experience:None

Posted 22 November 2017 - 09:22 AM

Prior to this excerpt, the reader would have exposure to seers fighting in an ancient battle (prologue), but not much explanation of what they are. This would begin the first time they encounter Gren.

A few things that I'm looking for specifically, but please let me know ANY feedback you have.

  • Is her description too much at once and does the 'sunflower eye' sound as stupid to you as it does to me now?
  • I've been really working on weaving setting, character, and lore so that there is never an info dump, but I'm not sure if I'm telling enough at a time. Perhaps the reader would like a small 1-2 sentence blurb about seers or Gren or Nosek...
  • I'm trying to convey here that there is no sun ever. It's always night, but they can tell time by where the stars are. I've hopefully given enough context in the previous chapter for this part written here to make sense, but do you think I need to just explicitly say there is no sun here? "Because there was no sun..."

Thank you all so much. I appreciate anything you can give, and am still looking for a swap partner.

 

Gren was a gifted seer for her fifteen years. Whether it was a part of her, or if it had been simply bred out of her, there was no nonsense left in the sunflower eyes that glowed against her curtain of black hair and frosted skin.

It was the year of the full moon, but she guessed it was midday by now despite seeing bright stars in the high windows. She paced the back of the sparring hall, catching her breath and looking at Master Nosek standing with his arms clasped behind his back as he did. Her footsteps sounded on the tiled floor, emphasized by the dun silence after several minutes of singing metal.

   “You’re changing hand too often, apprentice.” His voice was heavy over the smooth walls and vaulted ceiling.

    “Yes, master.” She nursed the broken skin on the back of a knuckle while tossing the sword a bit to regrip closer to the hilt. She ran his words in her mind again. The blade was long enough that the hilt could never make it as easy to move as a shard or Tevani blade. To be effective, the slavsword must take advantage of speed, she remembered Nosek’s words, and it must above all, be in balance. Often paired with a whip or razor, the sword of the Islands was versatile if a fighter dedicated to its craft and form. She had once tried to picture the men of the Islands who would use such a thing well. They would need to be strong in body, but also adept enough in mind to coordinate the blade and a whip.

 



#2 lnloft

lnloft

    LNLOFT

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 427 posts
  • Literary Status:unagented
  • LocationUS Northeast

Posted 23 November 2017 - 01:47 PM

Honestly, I'm not a fan of the first paragraph. Inevitably, you're going to have to tell some facts about the characters, but this is just a moment to tell about the character before actually getting to the story itself. (Also, yeah, not a fan of "sunflower eyes", because I have no clue what that means.) I feel that most of that information could be conveyed in other ways, too, littered throughout. So, for instance, you could drop a line like, "Gren pushed a strand of black hair out of her face," that gets us her hair color. And instead of telling us that Gren is a gifted seer directly, have it shared by Master Nosek, so he could make some comment to her like, "You've always been a gifted seer, Gren, but you're too easily distracted," (obviously, adapt as needed for your story). I've just always found this sort of staggered introduction works better, but I suppose that is a bit of personal taste.

 

But if I were you, I'd just cut the first paragraph entirely and start with the second one, and let us get to know Gren on our own. Because from there on, it's not too bad. It's so hard to tell much from just 250 words, but you can already grasp some world building in it and the writing's not bad.

 

Regarding the no sun stuff, I wouldn't say I would necessarily have picked that up yet, but I also don't know that you should spell it out straight away. I read pretty much only fantasy, so I understand often having to slowly realize things about the world as we go along. At most, right now I would just make an adjustment of adding something like, "seeing bright stars against the velvet backdrop of the sky" to indicate that the sky is dark, because otherwise I would more likely assume that this is a world where stars are sometimes visible at day, like our moon sometimes is. But the important thing to remember is that it's not odd for the characters to not have a sun around, so pointing it out straight away can seem awkward. And unless there was something happened in the backstory that got rid of the sun (versus just there's never been a sun to begin with), I'd be careful of really truly pointing it out at all. If there is some backstory, then, sure, somewhere in the first few chapters, drop a line of, "In the decade since the Terrible Catastrophe had destroyed the sun...", but otherwise, yeah, just drop enough hints for us to pick it up ourselves. I'm thinking of Brandon Sanderson's Way of Kings, where the majority of the world does not have much to any plant life, even grass, but it's never explicitly pointed out until close to the end, when a character comes to the one place where there is grass and reacts as, "This is super weird, where's all the rock I'm used to?" So just making that comparison as in it's a fantasy world missing something very basic we take for granted in our world.

 

So, that's my long-winded two cents. Hopefully it's helpful, although of course all of this comes with a dose of subjectivity. Good luck.


Nothing to reciprocate on right now; I'm off in the query trenches.


#3 BadgerFox

BadgerFox

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 152 posts
  • Literary Status:just starting
  • LocationUnited Kingdom

Posted 23 November 2017 - 02:44 PM



Prior to this excerpt, the reader would have exposure to seers fighting in an ancient battle (prologue), but not much explanation of what they are. This would begin the first time they encounter Gren.

A few things that I'm looking for specifically, but please let me know ANY feedback you have.

  • Is her description too much at once and does the 'sunflower eye' sound as stupid to you as it does to me now?

  • I've been really working on weaving setting, character, and lore so that there is never an info dump, but I'm not sure if I'm telling enough at a time. Perhaps the reader would like a small 1-2 sentence blurb about seers or Gren or Nosek...

  • I'm trying to convey here that there is no sun ever. It's always night, but they can tell time by where the stars are. I've hopefully given enough context in the previous chapter for this part written here to make sense, but do you think I need to just explicitly say there is no sun here? "Because there was no sun..."

Thank you all so much. I appreciate anything you can give, and am still looking for a swap partner.

 

Gren was a gifted seer for her fifteen years. Whether it was a part of her, or if it had been simply bred out of her, there was no nonsense left in the sunflower eyes that glowed against her curtain of black hair and frosted skin. [Ok, I'm not trying to sound cruel or unpleasant here, but your gut feeling was correct - a physical description of a character in the first two lines, and especially a physical description that is so purple-prose-y and Mary-Sue-ish does not seem like a good idea here. Body parts being compared to flowers is purple-prose-y and problematic. I can't even picture what a sunflower eye is. All I get is this sort of mental picture, but with yellow petals: https://i.mdel.net/i...491750-800w.jpg . If you were aiming to write a poor-quality romance novel and market it to Harlequin, you might be able to get away with a description like this, but as it is, the problem is that nobody describes themselves as having 'glowing eyes' or 'frosted skin' unless they have a Cluster B personality disorder. The implication is that this is how the protagonist thinks of herself, which comes off as narcissistic. Which makes her seem immediately unpleasant. Even those of us with good self-esteem about our looks don't use these kinds of words to describe them, unless we're joking. Or alternatively, if you're writing a book about a protagonist who really is a narcissist and thinks of themselves as super-sexy, and it's intended to be amusing (Mark Gatiss' character Lucifer Box is a good example). Like I say, you can do it if you're writing for Harlequin romance, because part of the appeal with those novels is mentally watching abnormally good-looking people make out, but for YA, this beginning is a no-no.  Hair colour, eye colour and skin tone are literally some of the least important things you can tell someone about a character. Unless there's a deliberate reason for a character to reflect on their looks (like a guy character wondering if he's attractive enough for his hot boyfriend, or a character being harassed/teased about their looks, or a character reflecting how much they look like their sister etc), you can often do without them. I made it to the end of my last novel draft without ever telling anyone what colour eyes my female protagonist had (they are blue), and my beta-reader hasn't complained yet! If you feel you should start with physical details, maybe try something else about the character? She's training with weapons - does she have any cool scars or calloused bits? How does her body shape influence her fighting style? Are her garments currently comfortable for training in?]

It was the year of the full moon, but she guessed it was midday by now despite seeing bright stars in the high windows. [this is just confusing. A different way to explain the permanent night situation - which is cool and fascinating - might be better] She paced the back of the sparring hall, catching her breath and looking at Master Nosek standing with his arms clasped behind his back as he did [this sentence feels too long]. Her footsteps sounded on the tiled floor, emphasized by the dun [is this the best adjective? I can't find a usage for it that works for describing a noise. The only definitions I can find for this word are 'a demand for debt payment owed' and 'dark grayish-brown'] silence after several minutes of singing metal.

   “You’re changing hand[s?][probably plural here is best] too often, apprentice.” His voice was heavy over the smooth walls and vaulted ceiling.[I'm not quite seeing how his voice can be 'over' these physical objects? Might be just me but maybe saying his voice echoed under would be clearer]

    “Yes, master.” She nursed the broken skin on the back of a knuckle while tossing the sword a bit to regrip closer to the hilt. She ran his words in her mind again. The blade was long enough that the hilt could never make it as easy to move as a shard or Tevani blade. To be effective, the slavsword must take advantage of speed, she remembered Nosek’s words, and it must above all, be in balance. Often paired with a whip or razor, the sword of the Islands was versatile if a fighter dedicated to its craft and form. She had once tried to picture the men of the Islands who would use such a thing well. They would need to be strong in body, but also adept enough in mind to coordinate the blade and a whip. [I see what you're saying and I'm glad to see a female protagonist who knows her weaponry well, but her voice feels very distant, robotic and alien. She doesn't seem to be well 'grounded' in the physical kinds of things a person might be thinking about during training. Like, last time I did a martial arts session, I had thoughts like 'wow, I'm sweaty!', 'My God, I need a drink of water now,', 'That move I just did wasn't my best ever - I could kick a little higher next time if I try hard', 'Hey, I aced that move! I didn't think I was going to, but YEEESSSS, VICTORY! and 'my instructor's pants are kind of riding up. He's funny-looking when he demonstrates this move' etc...I mean, I understand my thoughts can be silly and if you're aiming for a more dignified tone, that's cool too. But she might feel more 'humanized' with more physical grounding and bodily reflections. The broken skin on the knuckle was a good start, maybe a little more of that kind of detail? It just seems an unusual point to ruminate about the abstract properties of the weapons, as opposed to he weapons how they relate to her body and skills.]

 

Overall I'm really happy to see a female fighter who's training hard and who's knowledgeable about her weaponry. I think this scene is a good place to start. There are just a few issues about her appearance and the way certain concepts are phrased that are coming off as a little confusing right now. But this is a good beginning!


Spare a little feedback, if you have a moment? :)

My AU historical novel query: here. Thank you!





0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users