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Thursday, September 6, 2012


 A big thank you to Alrea for submitting the first page of her, Dragon. My comments will be in purple. I invite you to add yours and help Aldrea make her first page the best it can be.

Chapter One

Maay hummed as she worked the old loom, the dull clack of wood a lullaby to her ears. Sunlight blazed into the solarium, its normally stifling heat cooled every so often by a gust coming through the open windows.  She cocked her head to the sound of footsteps echoing from down the hall. Men. It had to be, for their boots hit the stone with such a racket and the occasional, punctuating clink of metal. I get a good visual here of a woman at a loom but no idea of age. And is Maay correct? Not May? Just asking.
Frowning at the woven threads before her, she idly looped another through the strands. It sounded like guards. What would they be doing here? Not many men came into this quarter of the castle, mostly servants with their soft shoes and irritating tendencies (vague. I'm not sure what this means since I'm not sure 'where' we are yet) to blend into the background.
She glanced over her shoulder. Her gaze (eyes instead of gaze since a gaze can't act of it's own accord.) perused the room, settling on the plants that separated the solarium from the other rooms and screened the bulk of the sunlight from those entering. The green leaves bobbed in the breeze. Bright, inviting and absent of extra shadows.
Yes, she was still alone. Figures. The first time she wanted a servant nearby and there were none around.
Perhaps she was imagining things. Why earlier, Maay could have sworn she'd heard the flap of massive wings. Though she’d risked falling out the window to see, nothing untoward had caught her eye and there weren't many people in this section of the castle to ask. She couldn't leave her weaving incomplete either lest she returned to discover someone, like one of her sweet younger sisters, had lovingly unravelled it.
The shuttle skipped a thread, forcing her to redo the line. She had to finish it in time for the autumn banquet next week. This would be the year she finally did it. (Hmm, do what, I wonder?) Allowing herself to be treated like a child until the next year was unthinkable. Not when this autumn marked her eighteenth year.

Not a lot to crit here but also not much happening. As long as this is aimed at adults I think it's fine but if it's YA you're going to need to more to hold the reader's interest imo, especially with the loom, which is an old fashioned piece of equipment younger readers might be quite unfamiliar with. However, if you could imbue Maay's actions with more urgency, make that skipped thread a bigger deal, then you'll up the tension in this first page. But what do you guys think? How can Aldrea make this even better? 


Patchi said...

I like the description of Maay working the loom, but I agree that there is no sense of urgency until paragraph 5. Did she skip a thread because she was rushing or because she was distracted?

The next page will probably go into why she needs to finish by next week, but I agree that the _it_ in "This would be the year she finally did it" is vague.

On the other hand, I don't think "irritating tendencies to blend into the background" is vague. Maay is irritated that the servants pretend not to be in the room. Maybe say _habit_ instead of "tendencies?"

I'd keep reading :)

Jadzia Brandli said...

I liked the descriptions and I love that Maay's name is slightly different. Her namecaught my eye at first, but I like it.

I could see the scene but, as it's been said, I could'nt really feel what I think I should feel. I'm a big reader of YA, and I love it especially since I'm still a teen. I think you need more to happen here/more tenstion, which has already been mentioned. The tension/urgency rises in the middle and then kind of drops out a bit for me.

Aldrea Alien said...

Thank you for the suggestions. I love hearing how I can improve. Goodness, when I think of how the first page used to look ...

Just to clear it up: This IS a fantasy aimed at adults. ^_^

Huntress said...

I am morally against starting sentences with an ‘ing’ word. And especially paragraphs.

"...irritating tendencies..."
I agree with Marcy. Give an example of their irritating tendencies. Example: ‘mouse-bright eyes’, ‘polite smiles’

"...Her gaze perused the room..."
Cut this since it is a subtle echo of the previous sentence. When she ‘glanced over her shoulder’, Maay ‘perused the room’.

Shorten the paragraph. Example:
"The plants that screened the bulk of the sunlight, bobbed in the breeze. Bright, inviting and absent of extra shadows."
The reason to cut so much? Descriptions are fine but you’ve established the room’s appearance. Now, *NOW* start your engines. Kick it into high gear. ACTION!!!

Cut "Why..."
"...the flap of massive wings...."
Cut this also. Describe the sound instead. A whoosh. A gale. The curtains or plant leaves blew over.

I butcher/cut/edit the rest of the paragraph to further the story, again to increase the drama:
"Though she’d run to the window and risked falling as she leaned out, only the gray stones/emerald-green lawn/cobble stone courtyard greeted her."

Again, cut your narrative to get into the action. I like your inclusion of the pesky younger sisters though. IMHO, I’d trim it down and put it in this paragraph but in a shorter form.

The last paragraph establishes her age and is necessary. But you are telling us backstory when showing is much better.

These are suggestions only. Use them as you see fit. One thing I must stress though. The title, the setting, EVERYTHING makes me want to read on. I would very much enjoy reading the first ten pages if you care to send it to me. Beccoff(at)nwmo(dot)net.

Liz said...

The first time I read through this it seemed kind of quiet. But reading through it again, I get the sense that something is about to happen. If there is supposed to be tension here, I'm not getting it. She doesn't seem that anxious. Is she supposed to be?

I figure that most of these questions would be answered on page 2, and I would have kept reading.