Miles is torn from his life as a simple apprentice and entangled in the affairs of proud princes and lost princesses, mad kings and ancient powers, never dreaming that the greatest evil to be unleashed on the world is himself.
Now, for the first 13.
quote:The king lifted the prisoner’s chin with the point of his dagger. Their eyes met and locked. A look of profound sadness settled in Lian Alduin’s features as he stared up at the king. “Balfor.” The king’s lip drew up in disgust. “Untie him.” “But Sire –“ one of the guards began. “Untie him!” The guard cut Lian’s bonds. Painfully, the Scholar Knight rose from his knees and let his hands, wrists raw from the rope, hang at his sides. Rigid as the stony walls of the castle around them, Balfor fingered the dagger’s blade and ran his tongue lightly over his lips. “I know you found it, Lian. I also know you mean not to tell me
[This message has been edited by J. N. Khoury (edited February 12, 2011).]
[This message has been edited by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (edited February 14, 2011).]
I’m not sure I can give you a very clear “why” but this just didn’t hook me.
In your summary you refer to a “Miles” yet he is nowhere to be seen in the 13 lines. Perhaps start again with your MC? I would also recommend adjusting some of your characterization. Because of the order of things I first thought that Lian Alduin was the king not the prisoner and had no idea what “Balfor” was. I had to reread several time to decipher what you were trying to say. Also referring to him as the Scholar Knight might be better saved for a place where you can let us see what that means in your world. We also need some reason to care why Lian is sad and the king is angry, some sense of which side we’re on. (I would say Lian’s side just based on tone. But I don’t subscribe to the “all kings are evil” and therefore if a Knight who would be sworn to the King is about to disobey him, there better be a damn good reason. Otherwise the Knight is faithless and unworthy. What is that reason?)
Another nit: Why would they cut the rope? If they are in the king’s castle/dungeon or some such wouldn’t there be handy reusable manacles/chains or something. Tying someone up with rope is time consuming and more prone to escape. And cutting the rope rather than untying it makes the rope less usable in the future. Rope is handy in “the field” but less practical in a place of more permanence.
Okay, so maybe I had more of the “why” to offer than I thought. Please don’t take any of this criticism personally, it is meant to be constructive. I happen to love stories about knights and kings and castles, and anytime a first sentence has a dagger I just grin. So good luck!
quote:The king lifted the prisoner’s chin with the point of his dagger(1). Their eyes met and locked. A look of profound sadness settled in Lian Alduin’s features(2) as he stared up at the king(3). “Balfor.”(4) The king’s lip(5) drew up in disgust. “Untie him.” “But Sire –“ one of the guards (6)began. “Untie him!” The guard cut Lian’s bonds. Painfully(7), the Scholar Knight(8) rose from his knees and let his hands, wrists raw from the rope, hang at his sides(9). Rigid as the stony walls of the castle around them, Balfor(10) fingered the dagger’s blade and ran his tongue lightly over his lips. “I know you found it(11), Lian. I also know you mean not to tell me
A few nits n stuff, as I'm not sure from your post what sort of crit you want 1) I get confused with who's who in the first paragaph. Okay, so there's a scene with a king and prisoner - both unnamed, no description. 2) I don't know who Lian is. Is he a spectator? The King? The prisoner? I get from the fact that a 'look' settled on his features that he's not the pov character - but then who is? 3) He could still be a spectator. I'm still nonplussed. 4) Therefore, lacking a point of focus, I don't know who says this. 5) I know what you're getting at, but... he has only one lip? 6) began is redundant, if you include ellipses or a dash to indicate their speech has been cut off. 7) Painfully how? Why? This risks distancing me from the character's feeling. And if I'm not 'seeing' it as painful, but am being told, then is he the pov character after all? 8) This is a little confusing, because it implies that the prisoner/Lian Alduin/Scholar Knight has been referenced with three names in very short order - though at this stage the Scholar Knight could also be someone else in the room? 9) Standing from a kneeling position with his hands at his sides seems... awkward to picture. And if it's his pov (I'm still not sure) then if he doesn't see his hands, how does he know they're raw? 10) The king hasn't been introduced as Balfor, I had to do a double take to figure it out - after all, Balfor was just a word spoken at the beginning; I thought it might have been some keyword or something. 11) And now we get to the story problem, of sorts, only the problem seems anonymous. What is 'it'? If I'm an editor and this is the first page, will I care enough about 'it' to turn the page? So far there is only antagonism between a 'king' and a prisoner having been shown, so no real motivation for them to be concerned about 'it' either. As a result, if presented with this, normally I'd move on to read something else.
Also a last thought about the names - Balfor sounds a lot less regal than Lian Alduin. Not sure why, but the character names seem to want to jump into each other's skins when I read it.
Ground me, instantly ground me in the POV. I may be the only one who feels so strong on the subject but the second I am grounded in a pov, I almost feel I have someone to cheer, or root for, which is the my main concern on reading forward.
I dont know who the pov is. Its not the King, and its not the prisoner, the first sentence makes that clear. THe king lifted, implies someone is watchign the king do it. the prisoner's chin, implies its no the prisoner, or it would be, the king lifted my chin with pointed of his dagger, or the king lifted Lian's chin with point of his dagger.
What I know is this, and its not bad, in fact its a lot of good. I know the king wants something and believes Lian knows where it is , and hints at willingness to do anything for it. A good concept. What I need though is to be grounded. Who do I feel for? The king, well not as written, if I feel the king needs this information desperately, I might consider for rooting for him. Right now, I just feel he is bad. Lian? yeah, I want to cheer for him, but I can't yet. If told in his pov, and strengthened, I would instantly root for him.
My suggestion is find the pov. Maybe you already have it as 3rd person omni or something I am not all that familiar with. I tend to prefer and fall more for a deep 3rd person, 1 character per scene, sorry for the life of me can't come up with the correct literary term(I am brain dead today) or first person.
My having no clear idea who the POV was with is probably why I was not able to get inside anyone's head to find out certain things about what was going on; primarily: what was the 'it' that Lian supposedly found, and why was it important to the king? Knowing some of this might otherwise spark interest and/or concern within me for what's going on...in other words: I might feel as the POV character feels. I didn't get that here.
Also...if the "untie him" sequence was shortened somehow, the first 13 would then include the rest of the king's "I also know you mean not to tell me" quote to Lian...which I would be very interested to know about, despite the POV deficincies above.
Yep, I'll second the issues mentioned regarding confusion. The POV problems (wow do I struggle with POV!!!) and the number of names for both major players both add to my confusion. But others have said it well, I'll decline to beat the horse. A little clarity would change everything - definite potential.
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I liked your usage of short sentences making it flow quickly. I also liked how you utlized certain descriptions (with the kings chin and etc). I dido things which were said above, but it's not necessary to repeat what was said. Keep it up!
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quote:never dreaming that the greatest evil to be unleashed on the world is himself.
First off, great hook line in that little whatchacallit. Pitch, that's the word. Nice twist on the expected. And we all love some "little did he know," eh?
On the 13: I agree with everyone above about POV, and especially have to jump on BenM's bandwagon. He covered just about every point I was going to. Also, I initially imagined the prisoner standing already with the dagger under his chin, so when he stood up, I had to reinvent the scene. But that may be just me . . .
Overall, I might suggest choosing an entirely different scene to start out with, partly to get straight to the MC as has been said, but even more because I feel like I've seen the "interrogation scene over The Artifact" intro done and overdone. Also, from the beginning of your pitch, I get the feeling that this story is gonna be either "more of the same," or else some kind of parody on the cliches. Parodies, I love. But more of the same? It's only good when it's great. And yours might well be great, but you're not showcasing it well enough in your first 13.
On the other hand, I can also agree with YNRedef, in that your writing is snappy and reads easily. Which is always nice. Good luck.