Genre: Greek Mythology Length: 7227 words(unfinished) Critique: As harsh as you want to or whatnot.
This particular piece hasn't been on here in a long time. So nitpick all you want. I'm not asking for readers at this time, but when it's in finished, I'll let you know.
Kyros tracked a blood trail through a forest a day’s journey north from his walled village of Abrades. The trail was small and barely noticeable, but his keen eyes knew what signs to look for. He had been following the trail for a whole day through the thick undergrowth and it was tiring him out. Leaning against a tree to catch his breath, he knew that the stag was close by: he saw crushed, bent and broken bushes and ferns that had fresh blood on them. Continuing to the edge of the dense vegetation, he pulled down some ferns gently and saw the stag lying against a tree, laboring for every breath. An arrow jutted out from behind its front leg.
The undergrowth rustled lightly and the stag sniffed the air.
This gives me a good sense of setting and action, immediately propelling me into the story. But I stumbled and slowed down at this sentence:
"he saw crushed, bent and broken bushes and ferns that had fresh blood on them"
My mind's eye would have been satisfied with either "crushed" or "bent" or "broken" and the same with "bushes" or "ferns". I wanted to run with the hunter on this chase, but I stumbled and tripped on the underbrush.
This has come a long way since you first posted it! Which won't, of course, stop me from finding things to nit-pick.
quote:...but his keen eyes knew what signs to look for.
This is potentially a minor POV error, unless he thinks of himself as having keen eyes. It feels more like the kind of thing an outside observer would think about someone--I mean, when I have my contacts out, I never think "My weak eyes can not read the sign." But I do think, "The sign looks fuzzy." It's a subtle difference. The first way compares my eyes with others' while the second speaks of my immediate experience.
In a similar vein.
quote:.. he knew that the stag was close by: he saw crushed, bent and broken bushes and ferns that had fresh blood on them.
While not a violation, this is a place where you could have a deeper POV penetration. Phrases like, "he knew" or "he realized" or "he saw" describe the action but aren't part of the experience. But, if you inverted the sequence so that it read, "The bent and broken bushes and ferns had fresh blood on them; the stag was close by," then we go through the same process he did. We see the signs and then understand them.
Now, you could argue that it should be "The stag was close by; the bent and broken bushes and ferns had fresh blood on them." The arguement here is that you present his knowledge and then explain why he thinks that. Either way, I think it would be stronger if you could cut "he knew..."
Fairly straightforward. I'm not hooked. I can identify these reasons:
* We don't know until the fourth sentence what he's following. Tell us! Easy enough: "Kyros tracked the blood trail of the stag..." * I never do know why I should care about the stag. Why does Kyros care? Or does he? I can't tell what his reactions are, beyond physical weariness. I'm hoping it's something that will grip me: some serious need Kyros is struggling to fill.
Why not just "Kyros tracked a blood trail through [the] forest." In the immediacy of the moment, there is no need to tell us where the nearest city is. We're intensely focused on the hunt, just as Kyros is, and we aren't thinking about anywhere else. Just the hunt. So the information about Abrades is nonessential in the first lines, and just takes up space in your first 13.
Other than that, my other observations have already been stated, so I won't repeat. I will, however, say that my biggest complaint was the one pointed out by Calligrapher.
Edited so I wouldn't sound completely negative: I neglected to mention that I enjoyed your piece. It hooked me.
[This message has been edited by sojoyful (edited November 26, 2005).]
And thanks to you Mary. It makes me happy that you remembered this old dog.
I have it up to almost 7300 words.
It has taken some turns that I hadn't expected. But all in all it's ok. I have Sunday and Monday off, so I'm going to write on it more.
I think I might use one or two of the suggestions here, if that's ok with you guys.
More input is welcome.
Here's the revised opening (with a few of the suggestions and a few that I threw in). Is it better or not?
_____________________________________ A day’s journey north from his walled village of Abrades, Kyros tracked a blood trail through the forest. The trail was small and barely noticeable, but he knew what signs to look for. He had been following the trail for a whole day through the thick undergrowth and it was tiring him out. Leaning against a tree to catch his breath, he closed his eyes and sighed deeply. The bent and broken bushes had fresh blood on them; the stag must be close, he thought. After a few moments of rest, he continued to the edge of the dense vegetation. Pulling down some ferns gently, he saw the stag lying against a tree, laboring for every breath. An arrow jutted out from behind its front leg. __________________________________________
Once again, nitpick it all you want. You too Mary.
[This message has been edited by Monolith (edited November 27, 2005).]
[This message has been edited by Monolith (edited November 28, 2005).]
I thought the reworked version flowed smoother than the previous one, but the last sentence doesn't work for me. If Kyros has been following a blood trail for a day already doesn't he already know that he hit it? Other than that I thought it was a decent opening and would read more.
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This is better and flows more smoothly; for all that, I'm not that thrilled. He's tracking a deer: why? Is he a hunter, does he have a desperate family to feed? Is that deer important, or part of routine? I don't have to get the answers now, and if it's 7000 words I'd definitely give you some more time, but at some point, preferably within the next paragraph,you'd better tell me what's so special. While I absolutely LOVE Greek Mythology, this is not a good time of the year for me; the trimester is almost over and exams are coming. I can probably take a look at the revised version (say in two weeks) if you still need readers.
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I enjoy the hunt, and would add the following comments to the others' words.
I agree with Omakase regarding the final line. With my mental image of your words being "hoof-prints" and "droplets of blood" as sign, I, the reader, was pretty sure he knew he had hit him, at least based on the information we currently have.
Couple of other things regarding bow and arrow (this is just me.. I can be anal in this regard). Small wounds with an arrow will stop bleeding very shortly after the deer is hit and runs. Most times the deer can go weeks until they shed the arrow or it becomes infected and dies of gangrene. The hunter spends all his time following just tracks within a short distance of the hit. (Most leg wounds would fall into this category.)
Serious wounds with an arrow can bleed more consistently with the movement of the deer, especial if struck in the chest cavity, organs, or neck. With these serious hits you can most definitely follow the blood spurts and droplets, but the deer generally do not run far because it really hurts them and they are getting tired from loss of blood. Often they lie down within a few hundred yards at most. (New modern metallic arrow designs use hollow-tube to act as a spout for blood flow, increasing the speed of blood loss and shortening the run-distance.)
In summary, believability for me would follow along the lines of him losing the blood trail shortly after, but still “tracking” the hoof prints. Then the whole last like takes on new meaning (with minor modification) and Kyros discovering the deer, arrow in leg, and seeing it was a good enough shot to have the deer stop, but will require another .. better shot to bring it down.
Hope this helps. Merely an observation through the eyes of an old bow-hunter.
I think you may be trying too hard to achieve a particular type of voice. Try to sequence things when writing and you will find it probably flows smoother (not all the time) and gives that sense of action/urgency such events need.
e.g. The bushes in front of him were bent and broken. The stag was near.
That last sentence there starts to give us a feel for the character and what he's thinking. You could even use italics and present tense if you want it to be his thoughts. I think you're still standing outside your POV character instead of looking out from his head.
Everyone knows better than I how to critique, so all I have to say is one question. If the closest village was a day away, and he had been tracking the deer for a day, did he shoot the deer in the village? cya, Sam
Posts: 19 | Registered: Nov 2005
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