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Friday, August 23, 2013

Critting FADE INTO ME: why it feels flat

For a change of pace, YA fantasy -- "still feels flat," the author says...

I opened the portal and prepared to leave the realm of humans behind me. With the fabric of time and space in flux, all I had to do was set the destination. The coordinates floated behind my closed lids as my mind linked into the system. One step, a tugging sensation, and I stepped into in a palace. Strands of magic swirled around me revealing more vibrant colors and smells than on the human side of the barrier. It was good to be home.

The foyer and grand staircase were empty, the halls quiet. Even today, the second busiest day the palace staff would have this year, my world exuded peace. Granted, most of them were overseeing details for my sister’s wedding on the human side.

I followed the corridor to the back door and walked outside. The colors of the garden danced in the sunlight—shades of red, white, yellow and green jumped from plant to plant, mingling, changing. They wrapped themselves around the sound of buzzing insects and the humming of bird wings. This is what I missed the most when living among the humans—this symbiosis of sight and sound. Human ignorance of the threads of magic kept the colors glued to one spot.

Mother straightened from her spot by a rose bush bursting with drooping flowers. Their soft peach coloring swirled around her arms in a gentle caress as she placed the cuttings in a basket.

"Caedmon? What brings you home? I thought you’d be busy with pre-wedding parties." At almost four hundred years old, Mother's dark hair had started to streak with gray, but her skin remained flawless like her rose petals.

"That’s not really me. I think Sedonia’s wedding drove how close my own is. Mom, I’m not ready and it’s two months away. I wanted to ask for more time."

“Sweetheart, your sister’s wedding was the deadline and we can’t change it. As it is, you might have a hard time convincing a human woman to marry you only two months after proposing. Kathryn looks to be your best option. Is there anyone else?”

 “No, but I want more time to look for my soul mate. What’s a few more months, or years for that matter? Can’t you ask them to give me more time?” I stepped closer.

"Son, you must take a human bride, Anamchara or not." She rested her hand on my shoulder. "Finding your soul mate is very rare, you know that. But this is the year of the Reparation. You must choose and marry a human girl by the end of the week you turn a hundred and twenty-five. That’s two months and can’t be changed."

For most of my kind, the one hundred and twenty-fifth birthday wasn't a big deal, but for me, Prince of the Reparation, it signified the beginning, or the end. I wasn’t sure which yet.

"It’s just tradition. Come on, one more year?"

"Caedmon—"

"Everyone else gets more time."

Her shoulders slumped, but she smiled up at me. "I wish this were easier for you, but it’s your duty. Try to think about your people."

"Fine." The rose bush beside me wilted.

“Shame on you!” Mother shook her head at me. “Put it right.”

With a sigh I pushed all the negative energy out of my body. I knew from experience I couldn’t manipulate the threads of life when angry. Once calm, I focused on the colorful swirls around the rose bush, looking for the break in the pattern. A nudge and a stroke and the patterns were repaired. The roses brightened and the petals plumped and smoothed. Mother nodded in approval.

"Before you leave, take some time to visit the gazebo. The Oracles may have a message from the council for you."

"What else could they have to tell me? My whole life has been spent preparing for this."

Mother’s hand clenched on my arm, "Shh, it's an honor they speak to you so frequently. They want you to succeed. Trust in that."

"But it's impossible. Why do they still punish us for the mistakes of the ancients?"

Mother frowned, "We’re not being punished. Even the ancients had to earn the right to ascend to the home world. The only difference now is we don’t get a chance to prove we’ve grown until the reparation succeeds. You are the hope for our generation."

"But humans will never be able to feel the threads of magic, much less control them."

Mother placed her hand on my mouth. "The Council is always listening. You must look deep within yourself and find compassion for the humans."

So many thoughts and questions ran through my mind, but only one really mattered at that moment, "What are the chances my Anamchara is a human?"

"Caedmon, most of us never find our soul mates. You have as much chance of finding her on the human side as you do here among Abhithians. Open your heart to love and you'll find it. Anamchara or not. Just keep the balance." She kissed me on the forehead. “I expect you to be at the wedding tomorrow.”

“I’ll be there. At least she picked the Botanical Gardens so it will feel like an Abhithian wedding.”

It's the dialogue and the lack of tension. 

The dialogue is very expository right now. They're talking about things they both know, which people don't do. People never talk about the elephant in the room. And let's be honest, which is more interesting for the reader: walking into a well-lit room and seeing an elephant wave hello, or groping their way through the dark hearing deep, whuffed breaths, sensing a huge mass shifting, maybe brushing against rough hide...? 

Tension: Caedmon doesn't want to marry right now. His mother is mushy and apologetic about it. He's not taking any risks, here, and he's not reaping any consequences. Therefore, there's no tension. Maybe Mother is the wrong person for this scene? Who would slam Caedmon against the wall and remind him just how vital his marriage is? And if it's not important enough to do that, why is it an issue a all? (I don't know how big a part of your story's conflict this is, I'm just guessing it's important.)

Also note the complete lack of red ink in the text. Good job. :) 

8 comments:

Patchi said...

I agree with L. that this piece is very well written. The descriptions made me feel in the setting. But L. is right that there is no tension. And I'm not feeling Caedmon's emotions. I did like the bit with the flower.

I found an extra word in the first paragraph:

I stepped into in a palace.

Charity Bradford said...

Thanks! I've made some changes to the dialogue today thanks to L's comments. :)

And I fixed that extra word.

Huntress, aka CD Coffelt said...

There is a teeny tiny error in the first paragraph but hardly noticeable. Go look. You'll see it *G*

I'd like more action also. Have a dragonfly attack him or something, LOL. I don't feel anything for him or his mother because I haven't bonded with them yet. Got a sprite looking for a fight? A Shadow in the garden this mother wants dispersed? He's cut/minor injury/stung by the sprite/Shadow/negative feelings.

David Oliver said...

I would like a description of who/what "I" am right off. The dialogue is like humans talking so it was impossible for me to visualize the characters as anything other than that.

David Oliver said...

After thinking about it, maybe something like this:

Sweeping my wings forward I gaze furiously at the tips. They must be spotless or Mother will chide me saying I'm grown and can't let my wings drag the ground like a child does. And they are spotless. Gleaming yellow in the morning sun, their brightness is like a mirror's reflection. It is no trouble keeping them clean now, I want only to fly and be free of dirt and gravity.

Charity Bradford said...

Thanks for the suggestion David. :) Unfortunately, he's a boring alien. He looks just like a human because as it turns out, his people created us. So, physically we are the same.

David Oliver said...

Ah. Sorry I couldn't help.

Charity Bradford said...

LOL, I thought your description was great though!