This is topic Blueblood -- Fantasy novel; first 13 and swap offering in forum Fragments and Feedback for Books at Hatrack River Writers Workshop.

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Posted by D2 (Member # 8930) on :
Howdy, folks! I have a rough draft of a ~100k word fantasy story. It's at the point where I'd love to get any and all eyes on it, so I thought I'd post my thirteen here and offer it as a swap. Chapter for chapter or book for book, I've got more time than I know what to do with, so I'm up for anything, really!

Here's hoping :-)


Two riders approach the shifting house of Caldon Feywell, hooves beating a dull bass-line against the pitter-patter melody of rain. Both men are convinced that they want to be here less than the other. They know this won't end well, but you don't -- can't -- say no to an order from this high up.
The one is called Darrell, and he wears the blazing crimson stripes of a commonwealth commander. He is a figurehead more than anything, but he's clear-headed in the thick of things and a thunder-thrower like the best of them. The other hasn't yet earned a name; he is called, when distinctions are truly necessary, anything from "private" to "big man" to "oi, the stupid giant with trees for arms." Infused with drake's blood, he will ward off the sorcery to come simply by existing. This is about all he can be trusted to do.


Thanks, friends!
Posted by Denevius (Member # 9682) on :
i'm game for a swap, but not the whole thing. maybe two or three chapters? email me if you're interested.
Posted by RoxyL (Member # 9096) on :
I really like your description of the second man and the 'hooves beating a dull bass beat'. You have a nice descriptive turn of phrase.

Your narrative writing style is very distinctive, like we are looking down on the scene together with you as our guide showing us around (like Clarence the angel and George Bailey).

That said, I can't quite say yet that the writing style works for me (it might if I read on). Lines like 'both men are convinced...' sound a lot like telling, which can leave a reader so distant from the characters that he/she doesn't really care about them. Interesting. I'll have to think on this more because the story itself promises lots of good stuff - sorcery, thunder throwers, the 2nd man w/o a name who can't be trusted, etc.

Thanks for sharing with us.
Posted by D2 (Member # 8930) on :
Denevius: Sent!

RoxyL: Thanks so much for the feedback!

I'm thinking about the "both men are convinced" line. Would it help to narrow that down to just Darrell's POV so that it's not so strictly narrative, maybe enhancing on it with a personal thought of his, or would it be better to try and leave it out? The best way to fully show it for me would be to illustrate the scene in which they've been handed their orders and voice their concerns, but I think I like entering the story right as they're about to arrive at the house, so I'm not sure.

Definitely food for thought -- thanks!
Posted by Denevius (Member # 9682) on :
if you sent me something, i didn't receive it. you might want to try again.
Posted by MattLeo (Member # 9331) on :
Just a word of caution. The man on horseback is kind of a cliche in fantasy manuscripts, although fortunately these men are going somewhere, not surveying the ruins of a plundered city. The other opening to be wary of is gathering herbs. I once had an idea for a novel opening that featured a man on horseback surveying the ruins of a plundered city. And he's whipping the horse with his riding crop. On line 13 we learn the horse is dead...

Your opening strikes me as rather information dense. You've packed a lot in here, like sensory metaphors ("dull bass-line","blazing crimson stripes"), character descriptions ("figurehead more than anything", "clear-headed in the thick of things", "thunder-thrower like the best of them"),and relationship building ("convinced that they want to be here less than the other"). The effect is a bit cluttered; if the novel went on for 100K words like this it would be exhausting.

It's all good, mind you, it's just that the goodness doesn't show to good advantage because the opening is cluttered. There is also something of a "show not tell" issue with the backgrounders on the characters.

I think your opening would benefit from lightening up, focusing on the action more. I know you want to show what you can do, but it's really hard to be evocative *and* informative in the first thirteen lines.

This reminds me of something that a Chinese food writer once said about why Chop Suey isn't proper Chinese cuisine. Chinese dishes may have many ingredients, but they're always about *something in particular*. One ingredient is the focus, and the other ingredients are added to enhance that ingredient. He then went on propose some reformulations of Chop Suey which brought one or the other ingredient to the fore.

So perhaps you might give your opening the Chop Suey treatment. Pick something for your opening to be about. I'd suggest "convinced that they want to be here less than the other." What does that look like? This gives you a frame on which to hang the details.
Posted by D2 (Member # 8930) on :
@Denevius: I sent it via Google Docs -- it won't let me try and send again. If it's not showing up in yours, I'll download it and send a soft copy.

@MattLeo: Thanks for so much food for thought! It is definitely denser than the rest of its chapter, although there are packed sections like that throughout -- I wouldn't describe all of the novel as being that full; I hope it's not exhausting!

I'll take a look at lightening this part up and see if I can't keep the style without so much density.

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