Looking for crit and readers for my novella of 30,000words. There is also a short story that is one of the prequels to this called The Knife of Change of 14,000 words if you want both. I say its SF because there's space travel etc... in it, but a lot of it is low tech and it should read more like a fantasy, not hard SF.
Here's the ist 13 for the novella:
"What do you mean I have a message?" "It is an interactive from Zenthi," The Ambassador excused himself and followed the servant down the hall. They took several twists and turns down the many corridors of the Imperial palace before arriving back at his apartments. I took the privilege of routing it to your chambers, Ambassador, the man said. Thank you, The Ambassador replied from behind his face mask. As the Ambassador passed he reached through the slits in his robes and removed a small trinket of metal and semi-precious stones and palmed it to the man standing by the door. It had taken the new ambassador some time to become accustomed to the
First 13 for the short...
Who seeks entry into the House of Dlarna, the keeper of the gate hissed down from the top of tall curved stone walls two or three stories in height. For the likes of one who used to be called Rakhim of the House of Dlarna, open the doors, I beseech you. Rakhim? a voice shouted down from the top of the wall. Yes, it is I. he shouted back. The great wooden doors of the House of Dlarna slowly opened, just wide enough for a single mounted rider to pass through. Rakhim did this, maneuvering his ptawn carefully. The beast moaned uneasily and shook its head with the single antler and tugged at its rein nervously. Rakhim reached out a hand and stroked the beasts neck, I feel the same way, he whispered.
Warning, the content of the short story is definitely mature. so, if you don't want to read a story that is at least partly about alien sexual relations, the short story The knife of Change is definitely not for you! I'd give it a PG13 rating but the topic is definitely sex, and coming of age.
[This message has been edited by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (edited March 21, 2011).]
I'm going to focus primarily on your novella, but a lot of these comments apply to both.
There's nothing to hook me here. The first thing I'm looking for is a character to care about, and you haven't even given me a name. Other than him being an ambassador, we know nothing about him. I want to know what he's feeling, what's different about him--something to draw me in.
On top of that, nothing is really happening. There's a message, but unless you tell me the message, I don't really care. I suggest starting later, when the conflict actually starts (have you heard of "in late, out early"?). I would also be wary of starting with dialogue. It can work, but only if it's interesting dialog, usually with an inherent conflict.
Toward the end you do drop in a couple interesting details--the face mask and the trinket--but they come late in the opening, and by themselves they're not enough to show a distinctive setting.
I am looking for a critique and if that included how to write the beginning voer or where to start -a real question with the short since it was envisioned as a smaller part of a larger whole and I'm not sure it needs the frame device that forms the beginning anymore.
The first thirteen of the short 'Knife of Change' without the frame and the entire story as flashback reads like this:
For some young Zenthi males the process of becoming an adult is sudden and acute, for others it is long and drawn out. In Rakhimfs case, theyfd only discovered it was occurring when he was caught ravishing one of the servantfs daughters. His father had been on a hunting expedition at the time. He came back immediately when it was discovered what his son had been up to. gFather, Ifm sorry.h Rakhim said lying on the bed, fearing retribution for a deed of lust that had been committed less than a day since. Truth was, he felt he simply could not have helped himself even if he had tried to. The servant girl he had chosen was far from an unwilling participant. How many opportunities was she going to have to get ravished by a young Zenthi lord in her lifetime?
Still looking for readers and/or a critique of the merits or the 2 different beginnings...
[This message has been edited by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (edited April 13, 2011).]
"What do you mean I have a message?" my issue is that I don't know who speaking, or how he means the dialog. Is he generally surprised that anyone wanted to talk to him, or is he upset to be interrupted...what? I suggest tagging who is speaking, and maybe giving a brief description of what his expression looks like. "It is an interactive from Zenthi," again, who is speaking, what is the guy's posture like, what can you show us about the relationship between the two. Who has the most power? The Ambassador excused himself from where? Who else was around, where was he?and followed the servant down the hall. They took several twists and turns down the many corridors of the Imperial palace before arriving back at his apartments. this is a long time to go without speaking, if nothing important happens, could you have the servant speak, and then excuse himself, or else could you use this time to show the amount of power the Ambassador has, perhaps give us something about him that can creates more pathos. I took the privilege of routing it to your chambers, Ambassador, the man said. Thank you, The Ambassador replied from behind his face mask. What? He was wearing a mask? As the Ambassador passed he reached through the slits in his robes and removed a small trinket of metal and semi-precious stones and palmed it to the man standing by the door. It had taken the new ambassador Oh so he is new, a foreigner stranger in a strange land. This is a great opportunity to help us know if we can care about him or not. I think if you show this earlier, we will like him better. Right now, he just seems pompous, if that's the case, then well done, but it makes it difficult to care about this character, which lessens the strength of the 13.IMOsome time to become accustomed to the
The short... I actually like the opening of the short, although I could use a bit more information about the relationship of Rakhim, and the voice. If this is his house, then wouldn't he know the speaker, or at least hazard a guess as to who was speaking? And how does he feel about coming back home. I think that is the hook, and if you focus on that, then you could strengthen the 13.
I'm a character focused reader and writer, so these comments may just reflect my own personal taste. I hope they help.
My overriding impression of the novella opening is that it feels a bit rushed. Why start with two short lines of dialogue followed by rushing your characters back to the apartments? You could just as easily start the story in the chambers, "I took the privilege of routing the message here." could be your first line and you would miss nothing apart from some empty corridors.
The line about the face mask struck me as very awkward--the Ambassador wouldn't be speaking from in front of his mask. Maybe work the mask in more subtly? Maybe the Ambassador's breath feels warm on the mask when he speaks or something like that.
I'm not too keen on the "trinket of metal and semi-precious stones" this could be anything, maybe be more descriptive here with shape and colour to help the reader know what they're supposed to be picturing.