13 lines:Shanra wished that she were wearing more practical shoes as she sprinted through the burning palace, and immediately burst out laughing at the ridiculous direction her thoughts were taking. Her laughter was cut short by the smoke, but in her eyes her fellow refuges could still see the spark of laughter. Most mistook it for madness. Her husband knew that his wife could simply never stop laughing, and he smiled, causing flecks of blue to appear in his Aura, dark red on both sides from trauma. He hoped that his newborn daughter would be just as light-hearted, though ideally a little less scatterbrained. A ceiling beam fell in front of them. Shanra heard screams as legs and arms were crushed under the wood. She stopped running. Her husband immediately took off down a set of stairs.
Ookay! After much effort I've finally managed to figure out an accurate 13 lines. The book is currently 25,000 words, growing pretty quickly. I'm shooting for 80-100,000 total. I'd love a beta reader, or a buddy who would like me to read their work as well, so PM me or respond on this post if you are interested! I'm also looking for input on "interestingness" or whether you would keep reading. I have not done any editing yet and as it stands I will probably rewrite the entire first chapter (which I might end up labeling a prologue). I'm an English major at the University of Chicago.
Hi! I think it's really interesting that you've got people fleeing through a burning palace, a good place to start and definitely grabs me.
It seems bizarre to me that the characters are laughing, smiling, and thinking affectionate thoughts here. I get that the princess is lighthearted, but it really threw me off, especially when you mentioned the baby. Moms don't laugh when their children (or husbands, unless they don't like their husbands) are in danger. They don't even think coherent thoughts. The only thing in your head is "Please, please, please, let my baby survive!" and that's really more of a wrenching in your gut and head and throat than words. If she's laughing, it tells me 1)Her fellow refugees are right, 2) This fire isn't really a threat, or 3)She doesn't care about her family being in danger, which means she has a very, very scary personality.
How 'newborn' is their baby? If she's less than two weeks, something you may want to take into account is that your character would still be feeling the effects of labor. It would make running uncomfortable, and downright painful if the baby is less than one week. Just a something I'm throwing out there because I talk too much, sorry.
Ok, just reread it and now I'm wondering if their daughter isn't there. Even so, I think the thing that throws me off the most is her husband's thought. I feel like he'd be more concerned with his family's survival than their daughter's potential lightheartedness/scatterbrainedness in this moment.
I thought your writing style was pretty good. I'd keep reading because I'm wondering why the palace is on fire.
Anyone interested in Beta Reading? And thanks Myth!! I think I've cleared up the problems you mentioned. It now reads: Shanra wished that she were wearing more practical shoes as she stumblingly sprinted through the burning palace, and immediately burst out laughing at the ridiculous direction her thoughts were taking. Her laughter was cut short by the smoke, but in her eyes her fellow refuges could still see the spark of laughter. Most mistook it for madness. Her husband knew that his wife could simply never stop laughing, and a lump grew in his throat, causing his already dark Aura to grow darker with fear. He wanted more than anything to live to see his daughter smile in that very same way. Thank the Gods she was safe at home.
You are head hopping. I'm not sure if you are doing it intentionally so I thought I'd point it out. We start out firmly in Shanra's POV then we switch to her husband's.
I know that some books do this, but as a reader, I don't like it. I find it distracting and it can be confusing at times, and I know that a lot of other readers even editors and agents (from reading their blogs) feel the same way, so it is something to keep in mind.
Just to be clear. I'm not telling you not to write it that way (you should write the story the way you feel is best), but you can potentially lose readers (honestly, you've lost me), so you might want to consider writing in closed third or ominiscient (this could be ominscient, but it doesn't feel that way to me).
Anyway, here are my nits.
quote:Shanra wished that she were wearing more practical shoes as she stumblingly sprinted (I think you can come up with a better way to describe it. I'm sure there is a better verb to describe this (but it's late so my mind is blank). You could always use "half stumbled, half sprinted through the halls") through the burning palace, and immediately burst out laughing at the ridiculous direction her thoughts were taking. Her laughter was cut short by the smoke (how did the smoke cut her laughter short? Is she acknowledging the danger or did breathing in the smoke send her into a coughing fit? I think we need a little more here), but in her eyes her fellow refuges could still see the spark of laughter (This is head hopping. How does Shanra know they see the spark of laughter? Are they looking at her like she is insane? There is no way she can know this, so we have hopped into another character's POV. In this case, the refugees. We were so firmly in Shanra's POV and suddenly we are in the refuge's POV. I find this jaring). Most mistook it for madness. Her husband knew that his wife could simply never stop laughing, and a lump grew in his throat, causing his already dark Aura to grow darker with fear. (Now we are clearly in the husband's POV. In one paragraph we have jumped to three different POVs) He wanted more than anything to live to see his daughter smile in that very same way. Thank the Gods she was safe at home. The two next lines are the same
I think you should pick one POV character and stay with him or her for the entire scene. You can change POV characters only when you change scenes. IMO, the story will work better. But it is just my opinion, so feel free to discard it.
[This message has been edited by MAP (edited August 24, 2011).]
(slight rewrite, this one might be worse :P)Shanra wished that she were wearing more practical shoes as she tried to run through the burning palace, though honestly even in hunting boots she would probably have been swerving all over the place. Maybe whoever had caused the explosion in the dining hall was just trying to give her a sobriety test. A spark of joy appeared in her eyes as she laughed at her own sillyness. Everyone but her husband was too frantic to notice. For a second, Laurent wanted to slap some sense into his giggling wife. Then a lump grew in his throat, causing his already dark Aura to grow darker with fear. What if she never giggled again?
Any other opinions on head hopping? The way I've written the book is that in each chapter the story is *mostly* in one POV, but it does change. IMHO, I'm not so much head hopping as much as I'm an omniscient narrator who frequently reports on people's thoughts. It doesn't bother me, but I see how it could be confusing as well. Does only switching a POV at a paragraph break help? Thoughts?
[This message has been edited by MarinaLee (edited August 29, 2011).]
Personally, I'm a bigger fan of your second version. What POV are you going for? 3rd person omniscient? I think it's conventional to use paragraph breaks for different characters with that style, so maybe that would help. Or maybe you're trying for too much detail in the first 13, and focusing on two of the three POV's you have would cut down on the 'hopping' feeling. It's a novel, so there's no rush to get the story out. Heck, in my 13 lines, the girl stands on the edge of a cliff, and that's about it.
To give you any good feedback I'd have to see more of the story, so don't forget that I'm interested in reading for you!
I'll keep this short and sweet after my last relentless critique. I think it's very interesting. Great starting scene, running around in a burning palace. I am intrigued about the "aura" and I definitely want to read more.
The fact that their reactions seem strangely light hearted considering the situation could be a flaw or it could be a common thread throughout the story that makes these characters unique and memorable.
I have found in a lot of stories that something that at first seemed odd and out of place became one of the underlying style traits that made the story great.