Below are the first 13 from a YA fantasy novel I am working on. Currently it sits around 80,000 words. Please let me know what you think of the 13 lines. Also, here is a rough summary of the book:
Erik lacks the discipline of a seasoned knight. Despite his growing knowledge of the dark forces at work in his world, his curiosity and headstrong ways get him into trouble. He unwittingly thrusts himself into situations that are far above the call of a first-year apprentice’s duty. Until recently his knowledge of magic came from stories and legends, but now he is tasked with stopping a fierce order of warlocks from unleashing the evils of the Book of Shadows upon his homeland.
Fortunately he has Master Lepkin, the Keeper of Secrets, as his tutor. As Master Lepkin helps Erik discover his true destiny, the two of them must keep ahead of the Blacktongues, a highly skilled group of assassins that live only to take Erik’s life. Lepkin enlists the help of a hand-picked few who also understand the legends of the past and their significance in unlocking the prophecies surrounding Erik and the Book of Shadows. Erik depends on his allies to survive, but he soon finds that even the truest of friends can be an enemy, and prophecies do not always come to pass as hoped.
Here are the first 13 lines:
Erik sat alone. The other apprentices huddled together on the far side of the hall. He heard them laughing and jeering. He heard the clickity-clack of the dice rolling across the floor; but he wasn't allowed to play with the others. Master Lepkin had forbidden it. "Hey, Erik, won't you join us?" one of the older boys teased. "He can't," another put in. "His master won't let him." Erik rose from his seat and laid his waister on the table in front of him. "There is one game that my master does let me play," he said. All of the others fell silent for several moments. Erik knew that no one would accept his challenge, they were afraid of him. Awkwardly, the others turned back to their game of dice. Erik spent the rest of his lunch alone, as he always did.
Hi, Sam, looks like I'm the first to get to this. Please feel free to disregard any and all of my comments. Remember, they are just MHO to which no one is obligated to agree. :-)
Sounds like you have your story's premise well thought out. A couple things struck me. Book of Shadows seems a bit of an over-used cliche for me and puts me in mind of every witch movie/t.v. show/story out there. I'm a bit confused if Erik is a knight in training or a sorceror in training or both. If the latter then
quote: Until recently his knowledge of magic came from stories and legends,
makes me say, huh?
On to the 13. Pulls me right in and sets a conflict first thing. Well done. I don't know if you need to tell how he isn't allowed to play with the others in the first paragraph because your character reveals it through dialouge shortly thereafter.
Same here... just my opinion so do with it what you will.
Overall, I very much liked it. I agree with Kathi that you could cut the first bit about not being allowed to play. The only other thing that pulled me out of the story was the word "waister". I'm assuming you mean a sword or weapon belt of some sort. But the first thing that jumped to mind was "shirtwaister" which is an obscure term for a woman's blouse and that threw me for a loop. Then I tried to figure out if you meant a "waster" as in some type of weapon that was going to blow them all to smithereens. Again, just my random mind being incredibly random this morning so ignore it if you want.
I would definitely read on. I like the summary and what you've conveyed with the first 13. Very nice job!!
Hi guys, thanks for the feedback! Kathi, I tried to rework the summary a little to give a better feel for the overall story. I realized this morning that in my bleary-eyed state last night I had left out the first paragraph of the summary... oops! As for the title, I'm flexible on it, and definitely see what you mean, I am just at a loss for what else to use at the moment. Book of Shadows is the name of the actual book that the warlocks are hunting, so perhaps I should come up with a cooler name altogether?
A Yeatts, thanks for your feedback also. I had mixed feelings about the word "waister". It is the proper term for a wooden training sword that is made to feel like a longsword. I didn't like the way "wooden sword" sounded, and I wasn't sure whether saying "Erik rose from his seat and laid his waister, a wooden training sword, on the table in front of him." was too cumbersome. I do agree with both of you that I could cut out the first mention of not being allowed to play dice with others.
Here is the new summary, let me know if the more complete version is better.
***** Erik, the adopted son of Lord Lokton, is in his first year of training to become a knight. He is the first apprentice ever to be tutored by the legendary Master Lepkin. At first Erik had thought it was a high honor, but in reality it is extremely taxing on the best of days. To make matters worse, the other Apprentices of the Sword at Kuldiga Academy don’t accept him. Some think him weird, others believe him to be beneath them since he isn’t of noble blood, and some are jealous that he is tutored by Master Lepkin, but they all fear him.
Erik lacks the discipline of a seasoned knight. Despite his growing knowledge of the dark forces at work in his world, his curiosity and headstrong ways get him into trouble. He unwittingly thrusts himself into situations that are far above the call of a first-year apprentice’s duty. Until recently his knowledge of magic came from stories and legends, but now he is tasked with stopping a fierce order of warlocks from unleashing the Book of Shadows upon his homeland.
Fortunately he has Master Lepkin, the Keeper of Secrets, to guide him. As Master Lepkin helps Erik discover his true destiny, the two of them must keep ahead of the Blacktongues, a highly skilled group of assassins that live only to take away Erik’s life. Lepkin enlists the help of a hand-picked few who also understand the legends of the past and their significance in unlocking the prophecies surrounding Erik and the Book of Shadows. Erik depends on his allies to survive, but he soon finds that even the truest of friends can be an enemy, and prophecies do not always come to pass as hoped.
To the opening, I thought it wasn't bad but besides that there is two He-s in a row, that first few sentences didn't grab. Well, they did sort of but at the same time they were too weak or too ordinary sounding, too slow. That's they best way I can describe them. Weak isn't right but even though they were not compound sentences it almost felt like they were one long sentence.
The basic idea is good. I've read two novels that started with that type of opening: with a character who eats alone even though there are lots of other people their age.
However a new title might be a good idea. My first thought was Another one??!! Something a little different maybe.
Actually, I rather liked your summary better without the missing first paragraph. It jumps straight to what's going on, rather than starting with a boring bit of back story. Also, there's not much information in the first paragraph that wasn't also covered in the second and third, such as that he's a first-year apprentice, and Master Lepkin is his teacher. The only things missing are that he's adopted, which doesn't seem important yet, and that the other boys dislike him, which seems to be addressed pretty quickly in the body of the story itself. So for my vote, leave that first paragraph off.
As to the "waister" predicament--it shouldn't be too hard to slip in some context clues about the wooden sword, without saying it right out. Such as:
quote:Erik rose from his seat, laying his waister on the table in front of him with a clunk. "There is one game that my master does let me play," he said. The others fell silent, glancing uncomfortably at the wooden practice sword.
Or some such. (Okay, so I *did* say it right out, anyway. ) That's assuming that the "game" he's allowed to play involves said sword . . . but if not, you get the gist. Alternately, if it's not involved in said game and therefore not necessarily important just yet, you can always save mention of the waister for a paragraph or two, when you can slide it in more comfortably.
Apart from that, I'd probably read on, if only because there doesn't seem to be enough here yet to really form an opinion on. I'm not hooked, per se, but I certainly don't dislike it . . . so I'd skim further to see what's what.
[This message has been edited by Tryndakai (edited August 03, 2011).]
A waister is a seaman stationed in the waist of a vessel. A waster is the wooden training sword you're writing about. I wouldn't use the word in any case because it is not commonly known, and the way it looks connotes confusing thoughts that distract from the story. (What's a waster/waister? Something that wastes things? Something that goes around your waist?)
If you really want to assign a name to the object Erik lays down, I like bokken better. It a wooden sword used for training in Japan. It would still be an unfamiliar word, but I don't think it would invite all the conjecture that waister does.