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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Books » Dark Night of the Soul

   
Author Topic: Dark Night of the Soul
Jesse D
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So this is the beginning of chapter one of a new work I started today (NaNoWriMo). I'd rather not give any background just yet.

Chapter One: DROGHEDA, IRELAND, 1649 –
The wound in John Darrow’s side throbbed as he attempted to readjust his cloak, which he was simultaneously trying use as both shelter from the biting cold of the December night, and as a bandage to staunch the bleeding. It peeled back from clotted blood, tearing away, and he let out a moan, which went up with the chorus of other groans from the men around him.
The battle was hard fought today. The Irish and royalist sympathizers had beaten back the Parliamentary Army quite handily, much to the surprise of both sides. Darrow remembered no specifics other than the face of the boy whose blade had handed him the wound which now he felt certain would mean his end. He remembered the fear and surprise etched there as the boy slid his


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AllyL
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I read an article about how today's readers all have ADD because of video games, social networking, etc. The first sentence should be short and gripping.How about present tense? Just a thought.
The wound in John Darrow's side throbs. He attempts to readjust his cloak, trying to use it as both shelter from the cold (Biting cold is a cliche.) December night and a bandage to staunch the bleeding. It peels back from clotted blood, tearing away, and his his moan goes up with the chorus of other groans from the men around him.
The battle was hard fought today. The Irish and royalist sympathizers beat back the Parliamentary Army quite handily, much to the surprise of both sides. Darrow remembers no specifics other than the fear and surprise on the face of the boy whose blade handed (Handed seems like a weenie verb for giving someone a throbbing wound.) him the wound which now he feels certain will mean his end.

Good beginning..lots of action. Gets the reader right into it right away. Your writing voice sounds a little Irish: the syntax, word choice...I like it.


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sojoyful
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The long first sentence didn't bother me, but the word simultaneously did. You can eliminate that word (and several others) by replacing "he was simultaneously trying use" with the word served, AND shorten the first sentence by adding a period and removing the word as, thusly:

"The wound in John Darrow’s side throbbed. He attempted to readjust his cloak, which served as both shelter from the biting cold of the December night, and as a bandage to staunch the bleeding."

I have no serious complaint about the rest. The phrase "remembered no specifics" irks me because it sounds more like "the writer can't think of any specifics" even though I know that's not what you're trying to convey.

My only thought is that your second paragraph is giving us backstory, rather than forward motion. If you're going to do this, don't do it for very long at all, because as long as we're in backstory, the story proper isn't progressing.


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dysfunction
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Present tense would be interesting, and perhaps give more immediacy, but that's a stylistic choice and might not work in the rest of the novel.
I'm not sure I agree with sojoyful that the first sentence should be split, or at least not in the same place, if you're staying in past tense. Perhaps the first sentence could be "The wound in John Darrow’s side throbbed as he tried to readjust his cloak." (I feel "attempted" adds to the long-windedness, and probably isn't how a wounded soldier would think) and then rework the the second half of the sentence. Sojoyful is right about replacing "which he was simultaneously trying use" with "which served".

I think "quite handily" could just be "handily".

The last two sentences are the most awkward, especially this: "Darrow remembered no specifics other than the face of the boy whose blade had handed him the wound which now he felt certain would mean his end." This needs to be broken up.


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Jennywinnie
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I personally think present tense might be hard to keep up for a novel - but hey maybe I'm wrong.

I like the idea you've started with. It's cool that the attacker was a boy, it really shows a depth of understanding about the way war works.

As for mechanics, that first sentence was too long in my view. I agree with the other comments that it needs to be chopped somehow. A few other little things made the pace a bit clunky in some places. Let me break it down and see what I can come up with:

The wound in John Darrow’s side throbbed as he attempted to readjust his cloak [.] [The nearly saturated wool] was both [a] shelter from the biting cold of the December night, [and] a bandage to staunch the [flow of throbbing blood]. [He] peeled [it] back from [the clot], [and bit back] a moan [.] [The noise only harmonized] with the chorus of other groans [resonating] from the men around him.

The battle was hard fought today. The Irish and royalist sympathizers had beaten back the Parliamentary Army quite [easily? not sure what you mean by handily], much to the surprise of both sides. Darrow remembered no specifics other than the [terror stricken] face of the boy whose blade had [sliced] him [.] [H]e felt certain [the] wound [was fatal]. [new paragraph]

He [thought back on] the fear and [the] surprise etched [in those dark eyes] as the [youth] slid his

So mostly style choices, but I think I added a few words that made things a little more vivid or biting so to speak, because I got that's what you were going for. This is a great start and I would be happy to look at the chapter further if you want.


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RoxanneCrouse
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I have found that I don't like reading books in present tense. I'd stay in past tense. I'd end the first sentence at cloak and start a new sentence. Rewrite the second sentence He simultaneously tryed to use the cloak as a shelter etc, gets rid of the useless "was". End another sentance with the word moan and start a new sentance. I'd rewrite "which went up with the chorus of other groans from the men around him." Other men, wounded like him, echoed "or you could use chorused" his groans reminding him he wasn't alone. The hard fought battle weighted heavey on his mind "to get rid of another was" I'd get rid of quite handily, it's not needed. The battle blurred in Darrow's memory, except for the boy's face that inflicked the wound in his side. The fear in the boy's face appeared sharp in Darrow's mind as he stabbed the knife hard into his side.

It's an interesting begining point I'd read on.


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