Here are the first 13 lines of the story I am currently tinkering with. It is fantasy, and I'd very much appreciate comments concerning the writing. Thank you.
Riyan sat alone in her spacious chambers, wrapped in sheets of finest satin. She perched on the edge of her bed, while the bunched bundle of her blanket brushed gently against the thick rug, like a cascade of fine silvery waves splashing against a sandy shore. The only sounds which penetrated the ill-wrought silence were the fine rustling of the noble fabric and the occasional cough which tore Riyan’s chest, a rough rasping sound. It was so sharp and thick, it almost seemed tangible; the sound of grating rust. It stood as a weird counterpoint to the hush of the sheet’s rustle, which was completely quelled by the barking cough. Recovering from another fit, the girl tried to blink away the moist haze which veiled her eyes. This one was particularly painful.
I think this starts too slowly. I'm making some assumptions based on the title, but if Riyan is a goddess who is sick and dying, I want that front and center. There is a hook in there: "Riyan the Ever-Lasting Goddess of Gummi-Bears was dying," or something. If done seriously, I think that'd be more intriguing than some chick sits in a nice room as the first line.
I also think this should be grittier. I don't feel her illness, I don't smell it, I don't taste it. The richness of her surroundings isn't clashing with the retchedness of her body. If she's going to be sick, give her the plague.
I'm not sure how I feel about the alliteration going on in the second sentence, either. Seems too forced to me.
I'm getting something of a visual on the room, and I get its swankiness, but "sheets of finest satin" seemed too vague. That might not be that big of an issue if we could focus more on her illness.
I think you tackled the sound aspect pretty well.
Your line "It was so sharp and thick, it almost seemed tangible; the sound of grating rust," could be so much neater if you dropped the "it almost seemed tangible" part.
There's a lot of nice imagery and metaphors going on here, but I think it's too much, too thick. Everything doesn't have to compared to something. I'd tone it down and focus more on what Riyan is thinking/feeling. Is she really thinking about how the edge of her blanket looks like ocean waves? Also why is the silence ill-wrought?
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I agree with much of what Sara said. Though "ill-wrought" is a great phrase, it has, alas, fallen out of current use. So it stuck out for me.
Imagery is great, and you've got some good stuff going on here. Maybe consider shifting it to a bit later in the scene, so we can get involved in the characters first.
Overall, I see quite a few adjectives in there, some of which might not be necessary. "Noble" seems repetitive given that you've already identified the satin as top-notch. And "weird" seems week given the quality of the rest of the word choice in the passage.
Just opinions, of course. Feel free to take or leave them as you like, and don't let my preferences interfere with your voice.
Thank you guys for all those splendid comments.
And yes, you see what my problem is. I love to give a detailed description of the picture in my mind and sometimes a great deal of it turns out to be redundant. It's a bit hard once I get on a roll and lose myself in the writing.
Any advice maybe on how not to "lose it" in wild description of minutiae?
Time to edit this a bit. Gotta get rid of that mouthful of b's first
//Any advice maybe on how not to "lose it" in wild description of minutiae?//
I think on the first draft you can add as many as you want. Write one per sentence, if that is the way you want it, then on the second draft go back and take out all but a few favorites, and make sure they aren't too close together.
It's your own voice, don't worry so much about following the rules, just write the story your way, and edit anything that takes away from the story. There is nothing wrong with detailed descriptions, or comparing to describe, just you had to many together in a small space. Sara was just pointing out a clump.
Detail is like cheese. Sprinkle a little here and there, and it's awesome, too much and you lose the taste of the food.
I like the thirteen and am willing to read more if your looking for readers. ~Sheena
[This message has been edited by shimiqua (edited December 01, 2009).]