This is a fantasy short story I've been slowly working on. I thought of the idea a long time ago and the story has a moral point to it. Basically the king gathers his best men on search for the rumored Blood Tears. The Blood Tears are a powerful artifact that is supposed to bring a golden age of prosperity to the kingdom. However he finds them and they are nothing more than rubies (or something to that effect). The moral point of the story is to choose your actions and words wisely because it could come back to harm you in the end. Just because it doesn't effect you in a negative way doesn't mean that it woun't effect someone else negatively. By the way, let me know if I'm telling when I should be showing. That's a problem I've been fixing and I'm slowly getting better at it. Anyway, here's the story...
King Jason Auris the Third looked out the palace bedroom window in despair. His kingdom was dying. Not only did poverty hit Auris worse than ever, but they were being brutally attacked by their enemies. The people of Auris faced total annihilation and Jason can’t do anything about it.
As Jason stared outside, with a depressive look on his face, he said, “I feel hopeless.”
He turned around and saw the beautiful Queen Ariel walking toward him. She was dressed in a beautiful white, purple, and red dress that matched her skin tone perfectly. She didn’t look nearly as depressed as he did, but one could tell that she too felt his pain.
This might work better if you showed us what the King is seeing out of the window rather than teliing us what is there. Also watch the tense shift in the first paragraph; that should be "couldn't" rather than can't
The second paragraph makes me wonder about POV, I'd thought we were in Jason's but the depressive look on his face makes me where I'm supposed to be picturing this scene from.
I think the repetition of beautiful in the third paragraph comes too soon, try and vary your descriptive words a bit more to keep the prose richer. And then the white, purple and red dress that matches her skin tone perfectly confused me. In what way does it match her skin tone?
I didn't realize the tense shift, thanks for pointing that out...ah the little things I miss sometimes. Here's a second version.
King Jason Auris the Third looked out of the palace bedroom window and deeply sighed as the citizens began to fill the streets. Despite all the troops, they rushed closer and closer to the courtyard by the minute and chanted so unorganized he couldn’t make any of it out. As he stood there, he thought about how his kingdom declined so rapidly.
Not only were his allies turning on him, his generals were also defecting because Jason just couldn’t pay them anymore. The invading armies have his kingdom blocked on all sides and he was running out of troops. To top it all off, he lands were practically stripped bare of resources.
As Jason stared outside he said, depressed, “I feel hopeless.”
The last paragraph is still telling. Could you show us a defecting general standing watching, or could you show us the lack of resources through the appearance of the people or landscape. Maybe, if some of the chanting could be understood, we might be able to find out more.
It's probably a bit wordy for my tastes, but I can see the hook.
About show vs tell: I've probably said this before, but I've only recently discovered that problem. I've been taking baby steps to fixing it, but as the saying goes "old habits die hard."
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A simpler way of understanding show vs tell is to just use more concrete language. Think of contemporary poetry. Sharon Olds is probably one of the better authors to this end. In fact, many writers nowadays start out in poetry and slide into prose and it shows in their work. Descriptions become more clear and feel fuller. Once you see somebody master this technique, the difference becomes clear.
Whenever you see something like "He liked her", "He felt", "He loved", "he hated", these are telling phrases. They tell the reader how to feel instead of showing them something that makes them feel. Use your words to sway the reader without them realizing they are being swayed. It's a terribly difficult task to achieve, but not impossible.
Telling phrase: John loved cookies.
Concrete language: The cookies filled the room with a smell that was almost like Christmas morning.
Something like that, even though it's not a great example.
Now, you can always get rid of this altogether and use telling as much as you want if you just switch to a first person narrative. This works fine for a lot of stories, but you're also limited to a single perspective throughout the story, unlike third person where you can shift whenever you want. Still, a lot of authors prefer first person because it allows for a more personal kind of story, so I would consider it.
Your story sounds good, but I would think about changing the main character's name. Jason is a fairly typical name in fantasy (though I think the most common is Alex). I suspect this is because of Jason and the Argonaughts, but who knows. I remember the first short story I ever wrote, back when I was 16, the character's name was Jason and it was a fantasy. Just try to come up with something less common.
Otherwise, keep up the good work!
[This message has been edited by jcavonpark (edited May 16, 2011).]