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BENEATH THE DOOMSDAY SKY (Epic Fantasy)


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#1 Valmodeus

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Posted 19 December 2018 - 06:35 PM

Journal Addressed to Osma’thos the Spellbinder (c. 228 After Worldflood)
Published & Sold by Penny Fiefdoms Booksellers as A Thief’s Tale (255AW) 
 
People once knew me as the woman who could steal a hoard of gold from beneath a dragon’s very nose. Anyone who sought to crack a runic vault or plant a scrap of blackmail needed only ask for Emelith the Finder. But all of that went belly-up after your job in Faral-Muzafti. 
 
 
The night began with us squelching through the city’s stone-capped aqueducts and only got worse from there. 
“I’m telling you it was the bathhouse pipes,” I whispered over my shoulder.
 
“And I’m telling you it was the merchant’s dead father,” came the mock-serious voice of my partner, Niellan. His steps splashed inches behind my own. 
 
“No, pipes.”
 
“Dead father.”
 
“Pipes.” Wings of grey water whipped around dark leather boots as I turned to smirk at him. Whereas my Fenlander friend was short enough to stand full height in these aqueducts, I had to hunker down until my neck went sore.
 
In his palm he cupped a pile of Hauntroot. Well, crushed Hauntroot. The sand-sized particles bloomed a bright green hue in this tunnel of murk. 
 
We’d been arguing over the last time we’d needed this insultingly expensive herb for a job. On the first occasion (repeat, the first) we’d sprinkled the stuff in another direction to throw off unfriendly sorts in the sewers of Port Nithalune. Another time we’d dressed Niellan as a merchant’s dead father using Hauntroot to spook the sap into leaking lucrative secrets. 
 
 Not that it mattered who won the argument. Most of my mind was bent on stealing your scroll, rest assured. We just needed to leave a trail of the Hauntroot for afterward, so we could follow it back to safety before the water flushed us out. 
.  

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#2 Koechophe

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Posted 06 January 2019 - 07:03 PM

Heya, hope my advice can be of some use! I've got a soft spot for fantasy, since it's my preferred genre to write. 


 

People once knew me as the sort of thief who could steal a hoard of gold from beneath a dragon’s very nose (this isn't too grabbing as a hook. It's a bit clunky, and it just reads as backstory. I like to see stories immediately throw me into what is happening, not what happened previously.). Anyone who sought to crack a runic vault or plant a bit of blackmail needed only ask for Emelith the Finder. But all of that came to a crashing halt after my job in Faral Muzafti. (We've just gotten two extremely complicated names in the first three sentences. I'd cut one of the two.)

 

 

Within the crater of a long-dead volcano, the city’s districts climbed (bad word, it gives me a mental image of cities with massive sets of arms trying to climb up a mountainside. Try "clung" or " circled") around the central oasis in several terraced rings. Each of the buildings - the fountains, the shrines, the manors - faced the oasis as one. They were also built of the same rose-and-butter sandstone that girdled the city in stratified layers. The archways and windows of the more pretentious buildings were trimmed with interchanging stripes of dark and light. Upon the volcano’s highest ridgetop sat the Temple of Archimandrites, home to the Muzalite Priesthood. (so I'm actually somewhat bored right now, all I'm getting is a geographic layout of the town and a description of the buildings, which isn't promising too exciting of a story). 
 
This (Never use present tense verbs when writing in past tense, unless it's in dialogue) late at night, both gates to the temple’s cliffside path were locked and patrolled by the city’s monk-justiciars. To get there, my partner Niellan and I needed to navigate the maze of open-air aqueducts that crisscrossed their way up the steep crater. We crawled up the empty channels in a hurry, knowing they wouldn’t be empty for long.
 
A few notes:
1) I count 5 distinct names in the first 250 words. Trim these out, or they all blend into the background, forgotton. 2 is the very most you'd want to have.
2) This is all backstory, and all written in passive voice. You describe the buildings and the city, and give us some bit about how the thief had a bad job. I say this a lot, but successful stories always start by plunging the reader into a moment, and letting them pick up the backstory along the way. Throw the reader into this job of his, and let them figure out the details as it goes along. 
3) I say this a lot too, but from reading this, I can tell you're trying too hard. The prose is stiff, with unnecessarily large words and descriptions that are too deep and overtly metaphorical. Your writing will read more naturally and fluidly if you write from a genuine place, instead of trying so hard to make it sound good. 
 
I hope this is useful to you. Good luck and happy writing!
-I critique because I care. 

 



#3 Valmodeus

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Posted 21 March 2019 - 03:17 AM

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