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Author Topic: The Cure for Magic - Fantasy
alliedfive
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I have a draft of this one at 7,200 words if anyone wants to read.

Here's the first thirteen:

Gerd lowered the litter he dragged, patted his youngest son, Petyr, on the head, and knocked on the door of the house.

Reed Corlin, the village midwife, appeared and blinked the sleep from her eyes. “What?”

“Can you watch Petyr for awhile? I’ll pay.”

The woman ignored his question and angled her head to look at the litter. “What’s that? A dead body? I thought you didn’t practice medicine anymore.”

Gerd didn’t have time for his anger. “It’s my son, the older one; he’s sick and getting worse. The new healer has been nursing him, but I see the fear in that fool woman’s eyes. So I go to Kaile, the city of mages. They can do great things with their magics. They can heal Silas.”


2nd 1st Thirteen

"You can't drag a sick child all the way to Kaile. He won't live long enough for the wizards to heal him," Reed said, looking tousled and irritable from sleep.

Gerd shivered once in the wet grayness of the morning, and took up the litter again. Silas slept on like a dead thing. "I was a healer, I can keep him alive long enough. I have to."

She thought on that and clicked her tongue. "Could be that you can. And you still could be a healer, the best, if you wanted to. You can't grieve forever, Gerd, you..." She glanced down at Petyr and trailed off.

Gerd shuffled his feet impatiently. "Please, Reed, just look after Petyr for me while I'm gone. I'll pay."

She pulled Petyr close, shaking her head. Pity blunted her stare. "I'll watch him."


Final 1st Thirteen

As a healer, Gerd was acutely aware of all the details of the young boy’s condition. As his father, Gerd could hardly look at Silas.

The boy had had not eaten in days. Water distilled with uhai root had been trickled down his throat at intervals, but his skin remained ashen and cold. The root was normally used by soldiers to stay awake on long marches. Gerd the healer knew that Silas would never have survived the journey to Kaile without it, but Gerd the father heard the unnatural hummingbird beating of his son’s heart.

Gerd bent to lower the litter he had dragged for the past week, and heard a muffled groan from Silas. It was the first sound he had made in days. Gerd had covered Silas’ face with a blanket to keep the rain off him. He lifted it gently.

[This message has been edited by alliedfive (edited July 14, 2009).]


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MrsBrown
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Hmm, not sure what to say. I don't see any mechanical flaws, poor word choices, or the like. The situation is interesting.

But I don't feel drawn in yet. I guess what I want is some setting and more characterization. Gerd seems relaxed until you mention his anger. The only hints that there might be any urgency is that the woman is sleepy (is it night or early morning?) and that he doesn't have time. The seriousness of his illness isn't conveyed until the last bit of dialogue, when I get that he might be a in a big hurry.

But then, is he really going to walk to a (presumably distant) city dragging a litter behind him? Sounds slow, pretty uncomfortable for the patient, and difficult for Gerd.


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Kaz
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"So I go to Kaile, the city of mages."

Cut "city of mages". It's my impression here that Kaile is not some secret place that needs an explanatory tag, and that the midwife isn't in need of being reminded what Kaile is. Rather, it seems like you're telling the reader what Kaile is. You don't even have to because you mention they can perform "great magics" in the very next sentence.

The premise of the story promises a lot, but the actual presentation is dull. The narration is a bit skeletal, as if you were trying to reduce the word counting by stripping away everything but the bare minimum. I can't really feel any tension, or any sense of urgency. It's more like Gerd is a bit annoyed at the end because he has to make the trip, and the opening suggestion actually made me feel as if Gerd should be smiling. I'd want to know more about the situation Gerd is in, the forces at work inside him. You only hint at that when you say he doesn't have time for his anger.


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keithjgrant
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You throw out a lot of names here in the beginning. It's easy to follow because of context, but don't expect me to remember them all. The only character you give a full name for is the midwife, but from what's going on here, I don't expect her to play a major role anytime soon it the plot.

Just reading this much, I'd assume Gerd is going to be saying goodbye and starting his journey within the next couple pages. _If_ that assumption is correct, then I think you may be starting the story too early. You're setting up a conflict (the need to get the sick boy to the city), but we're not really in the middle of it yet. If, on the other hand, there is going to be a short-term conflict involving the midwife before we get to the journey, you might consider starting with that so the reader feels like he's in the middle of the action.


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alliedfive
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Hmm good points. More tension needed. How about this:


Revised 1st Thirteen

"You can't drag a sick child all the way to Kaile. He won't live long enough for the wizards to heal him," Reed said, looking tousled and irritable from sleep.

Gerd shivered once in the wet grayness of the morning, and took up the litter again. Silas slept on like a dead thing. "I was a healer, I can keep him alive long enough. I have to."

Reed mulled that and clicked her tongue. "Could be that you can. And you still could be a healer, the best, if you wanted to. You can't grieve forever, Gerd, you..." She glanced down at Petyr and trailed off.

Gerd shuffled his feet impatiently. "Please, Reed, just look after Petyr for me while I'm gone. I'll pay."

She pulled Petyr close, shaking her head. Pity blunted her stare. "I'll watch him."

[This message has been edited by alliedfive (edited July 08, 2009).]


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Kaz
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This is better, but you're still throwing in names before even establishing that the characters are all there. Petyr just crops up as if the reader was already supposed to know he was there.

The dialog does a better job of conveying urgency here. There's more tension.

Nitpicks:

"looking tousled and irritable from sleep."

I don't think it's the sleep that was bothering her as much as the being woken up. I'd also exchange irritable with irritated.

"Gerd shivered once in the wet grayness of the morning,"

Your expanding on the setting here is too succinct for my taste. It seems like you're just trying to get it out of the way quickly. This, to me, sounds more like a starting sentence on which you can expand. You can also cut the comma at the end.

"Silas slept on like a dead thing"

I don't much like dead thing here. Why not use slept on as though dead?

"She thought on that and clicked her tongue"

I think you should cut she thought on that. It's more of tell, and the tongue clicking is in my opinion indicative of some sort of mental process. Also, her dialog wouldn't be possible if she hadn't done some sort of thinking, right?


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Jeff M
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Hmmmm.... I actually prefer the first one. In your first version I have a better sense of the setting (guy with kid and litter knocking on midwife's door), and sense of character (Reed ignoring his question and Gerd controlling his anger).
Your revised version is something of an onslaught of dialogue that, as Kaz pointed out, throws a lot of names at us before we've "settled in".

If you want to inject more emotional investment in the first version, perhaps you could show us more of Gerd's feelings towards his sick son. Maybe leave the bit about the new healer for later and show us Gerd's emotional response to his son lying on the litter and Reed referring to him as "dead". It's a father with a dying son... if I can feel his pain, I'd be pulled into the story more.

[This message has been edited by Jeff M (edited July 08, 2009).]


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alliedfive
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Did a pretty significant rewrite on this one. The latest 1st thirteen is above.

I have a draft if anyone wants to read it. Thanks!


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