This is the first book in what I hope will be a series: The Thomas Halven Cycle. At the outset, I wanted to create a world that feels possible even though there is magic in it. The point-of-view character is not the main character at first because I wanted the reader to get a glimpse of how Thomas is perceived and how magic isn't always a "good thing." (And, if I haven't over-explained yet, I can keep going....)
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One Stones by the Gate
Winter would be arriving early this year. So promised the storm that had settled over the valley leaving fat drops of rain clinging to the trees. Each day would be a little less temperate now until the snows began to fly.
A flash of lightning split the dark, throwing the leaves into sharp silhouettes with bright edges. The following thunder rolled over the landscape as a shadow detached itself from the surrounding trees and descended toward the wide meadows and the farm below. The man seemed to tarry, despite the weather, walking slow.
Thomas had used his magic. The man knew he would need to have a talk with the boy when he got home. It wasn't a conversation he wanted to have. Again.
[This message has been edited by Kin Castelmare (edited September 18, 2008).]
[This message has been edited by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (edited September 18, 2008).]
I liked the mood this set. However, I think the discussion about the weather went on just a little too long, even with the shadow moving.
One major confusion: Whose POV is this in? Who is witnessing this man? Since Thomas is the only one named, I assumed it was Thomas's POV, but he doesn't seem to _be_ anywhere in the story. So then I thought maybe he was the man? Or is he the boy?
The Thomas Halven Cycle is a rawkin' series title, I wish I'd thought up something that cool, for some reason Halven exudes 'fantasy' without further explanation (to me anyway). It sounds like a brand name: Wheel of Time or Anita Blake--Vampire Hunter, the latter I bought solely because I liked the ABVH cover slug.
Your tale started a little slowly for me. Evocative description like 'throwing the leaves into sharp silhouettes with bright edges' can always be used a few paragraphs later just as effectively. To me, weather is always a slow start unless you slap the reader in the face with it and 'Thomas had been using magic again' tells when it could just as easily be shown through dialogue. I apologize in advance for the rough example:
Raindrops the size of walnuts (olives, basketballs, elephants) splattered the ground.
The man looked up at the sky then down at the boy and groaned, "Thomas, have you been using magic again?"
"Don't fib to your father (teacher, uncle, et al)."
Give the reader a few more revealing lines of dialogue between the two while setting the scene, filling in the blanks with the lines you opened the scene with, don't cut them, rearrange them, (you would have to chop the sentence about the shadow). Hook the reader first then give them some weather and scenery once they're riveted.
Good luck, Kin, I’m anxious to read the adventures of Thomas Halven.
[This message has been edited by Swordsman (edited September 19, 2008).]
This paragraph does make me want to read on. However, I was caught off guard when you mentioned "the man." Who is he? Is this Thomas? I would transition his appearance among this storm a little more smoothly.
As mentioned before, the name Thomas Halven is really good.
All very constructive and helpful and much appreciated! I may have set myself a very difficult task with the opening. I imagine it unfolding cinematically: an establishing shot, a medium shot, a close shot of the mysterious character. Is there time to do this with the opening of the modern fantasy? Peter (who is just "the man" until later when he is called by name by someone else) is reluctant to go back to his farm because he's married to a woman who has become difficult and hates magic. The boy, Thomas, uses magic in an effort to help those around him but the superstitions of the people prejudice them against him. So "the man" is caught between his wife and neighbors and the boy he has been charged to care for. All of this comes out not long after in Chapter One and the story goes from there.
It's that pesky opening page -- dealing with a taciturn and solitary character in a situation he finds daunting. Well, I shall press forward.
Thanks as well for the other comments. It took nine months for me to come up with a last name for the main character. He doesn't even have a last name for three-quarters of the book! He's just Thomas, without a clue as to his parentage, until matters relating to "Halven" sort of christen him later on. By then, it seemed to be an interesting plot point. The reader knows the boy's full name well before the character does. (You guys "rawk!")
If anyone would like to read further, I have reworked the first three chapters now (about 35 pages) and would appreciate further thoughts. I understand that such a procedure is done behind-the-scenes via e-mail. So....
When I revise the opening again, I'll repost. Thanks to all!