Hello there guys! I am… Very sleepy. I don’t know why. I mean, I actually slept fine last night. Maybe I’m coming down with something again. Meh. Anyway… How was your Thursday? Mine was pretty good. 🙂
Sooo, pretty sure I mentioned I actually enjoy critique at least once before.
Well, a few weeks ago I submitted a segment of my story to A Writer’s Path for critique on the Under The Microscope segment. It got posted yesterday and I suggest that you guys check it out here before reading further into this post.
I was in the very beginning of my rewrite when I submitted this, so a bit premature maybe. Still, it was a very good experience. The critique also came in a very good moment since I’ve been wanting to rewrite that beginning more to my liking; I had been obsessing over it since I closed chapter one. I had decided that I was going to look at it again at a later point in time, but decided to do it yesterday with the suggestions still fresh on my mind. No, I didn’t take anything to the letter, but my main issue was that the circumstances that led my protagonist to being thrown into the forest so abruptly were not very clearly pictured there.
I’m going to post here in a bit what I rewrote as my very first excerpt, even though it may not be final, but first I’d like to address some of the comments in the critique that I thought were pretty great. Ryan asked me not to comment on the post itself as it’s supposed to be anonymous, but I see no harm in doing it here.
My very first sentence was the object of a small debate, which I thought was actually a good thing because it meant that it caused an impression. I did change it, but only slightly. I thought that Ryan had a point that a short first sentence would make a larger impact, but of course the exact suggestion he made was to change the line entirely, which I felt I couldn’t do; so I simply made that large sentence into two.
I greatly enjoyed the fact that someone called my narrator an anti-hero. That made my day, it really did.
I was also greatly amused that someone finally pointed out that I had made no indication of my character’s gender at that point. That is true. I didn’t. I added an indication on my rewrite, but a little bit into the story already. I like that there was no initial indication, but there needs to be one at some point. I totally missed that, and Sarah did too, probably because we both knew who is telling the story right from the get go. Of course eventually it is mentioned, but it was too far into the chapter for my liking.
Anyway, you won’t see me ask for comments very often, but this is one of those cases where I’d really love some more opinions, so pretty please, tell me what you all think. 😉
I was sworn to kill. I believe that remains the most noteworthy fact about the person I eventually became. I have long ago learned to look at other human beings as objectives and nothing beyond that. While I know this may sound to some as cruelty, it was not out of cruelty that this was taught to me, but simply as the means to maintain my humanity; and my sanity, as intact as possible. Yet, even with all my caution, I have committed and witnessed acts that have led me to seriously question both those aspects of my being. How much of me has been lost or twisted is something I dare not question, but what I know for sure is that my time as an assassin had very little to do with the atrocities in my life. I know that’s not what anyone would expect, but my assassin days were by far the most peaceful.
For a long time all that I remembered was the scent of smoke. The sounds were deafening, but I was unable to recognize a single one for long enough to make an impression. Voices, crumbling walls, fleeing footsteps… All was lost within the clamor of the agonizing city. While chaos seemed to envelop us, at the same time it felt distant. I felt distant. It was as if I had never woken up and was being dragged out of my bed through a very surreal dream.
My mother’s hand clinging to my arm was the only memory that remained devastatingly real about that night. The only thing that lingered once morning dawned on me. Not the force through which she dragged us forward despite our faltering steps, nor the painful tension that seemed to build in her muscles and tighten her grip around my flesh at each passing second, but the very moment when it; all of it, and consequently her, were inevitably gone.
A harrowing silence roused me from my stupor and I suddenly became very aware of how loud my breaths had become without the cover of the siege. Mom had placed us on a tiny fishing boat and pushed us away; towards the opposite margin of the river, and somehow we passed unnoticed by the invading soldiers. When the boat finally reached solid ground I felt the realization of our surroundings shake me to my very core. The Forest has no name other than that; it needs no other name. To those born to the north of the Great River it was the one and only scenery outside of city walls, but to us in the south it was a distant mass of dark green that covered every inch of land across the water. Now the dark was no longer distant; it had swallowed us whole.
I looked for my little sister and spotted her still curled up inside the boat, looking at me with terror in her eyes. In that moment my mother’s words echoed in my mind: “As soon as you touch land, Allison, I want you to run as far away as you can. Don’t look back, don’t stop; take your sister and run.” It was too much to ask of a little girl, maybe. As little as I was then, as small and powerless as I felt, Eleanor was smaller, weaker, and she needed me. So I did exactly as I was told, I grabbed my sister by the arm and started to put as much distance as possible between us and the only home we had ever known.
I wasn’t sure where we were heading; all I knew was that we had to keep moving. Eleanor grew tired fairly quickly, but I paid her exhaustion no mind; I could feel her trip over her own feet, hear her cry and plead for me to stop, but I continued to drag her along. I was in charge now. I was responsible. I had to keep us alive.
Yes, that increased my word count a bit more, but I’m not worrying about that now, damn it. >.>
As you can see, if you read the piece I submitted on Ryan’s post; I actually added a bit more detail to what Allison went through on her escape from her burning home and removed most of the details about the Forest; only that is was an unknown, therefore scary, place for her to be. I feel a lot better about it now.
My word count though… uuungh… *refuses to think about it anymore*
Many thanks to Ryan Lanz for his critique and also to everyone who commented on that post. UTM is a great initiative and I certainly recommend that other writers looking for feedback try it for themselves.It was a lovely experience that I plan on repeating in the future when I write my next thing. 🙂