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Friday, August 1, 2014

Shrouded Goddess

I've got one last critique for you all this week, a first page from an NA/YA Fantasy:


I sneak out of my bedroom as soon as the hallway empties. Harp notes and laughter drift in the air from the night festivities downstairs. But that is not where I’m headed. (I had to think about why I didn't like this sentence. It's because it merely serves as a lead in for the information that follows. I think there's a better way.) Mingling with the drunken nobility without my grandmother’s protection will only get me married by morning. (That fast?)
Candlelight frames the door of her (I might name 'her' here, either as my grandmother or her given name.) chamber, and I squeeze through the narrow opening to avoid announcing my presence with creaking hinges. Eyes closed and ocher hands folded over her chest, Aryeea seems at peace. Her dark hair is still as black as mine. Tribal blood pumps strong in our veins, no matter what we do to hide our descent.
As she lies, resting on a bed brought by my grandfather from across the sea, I can almost believe Aryeea is dead. I’ve always known she wouldn’t live forever, but the thought of not seeing her again isn’t comforting. (why would it be?) I’ll even miss the snapped orders she flings at me all day long.
“Sophia, stop viewing me. I’m not dead yet.” Her bark wakes me from my reverie.
I straighten my back so she won’t sense my relief. “I thought you moved on without saying goodbye.” (here the narrator is suggesting she did think Aryeea was dead but previously the narrator could almost believe that she is dead.)
“I will, but not yet.” Aryeea sits, adjusting the feather pillows I embroidered for her against the headboard. “And when I do, make sure you bury my wedding braid with me. Your grandfather might need a reminder when we meet on the other side.” With shaky fingers, she straightens her loose hair. “And your uncle won’t even think of it when the time comes. The Barony is all he cares about.”
My first thought is that Sophia's reactions to her grandmother are a bit confusing. If her grandmother is on her deathbed (which it appears is the case) then I would think Sophia would be more worried about Areeya's passing. My second that is that there's nothing here to connect me to Sophia. She isn't interested in whatever festivities are happening below, believing that mingling with the 'drunken nobility' will only get her married by morning which seems a bit much. Even assuming she did mingle and was forced into marriage I would think a marriage would take longer to put together - especially if she's related to the Baron. I wonder if the threat of an impending marriage might add a little oomph to this first page. Not necessarily that Sophia IS going to marry someone soon but that someone will be chosen for her soon. That way her grandmother could become more of an ally and her passing would be more of a loss, giving Sophia more to worry about than just one or the other. It would also make sense then for Sophia to seek out her grandmother when there's a party going on downstairs when in reality, most young girls would be dying to go, or at least watch , rather than go visit with Granny.
Readers, what do you think of this first page? Any helpful suggestions or comments?


Patchi said...
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Patchi said...

Thanks for the comments Marcy. The marriage threat is real and I can definitely add it to the first page.