Wednesday, February 25, 2009

14 Drop the Needle: Chapter Endings

TITLE: Kunitsu Eyes
GENRE: Epic Fantasy

Arekkusu’s mother was human, but he was born marked to be a Kunitsu, one of the strange half-animal creatures who walk though fairytale and legend. But unlike other children born with the Kunitsu mark, Arekkusu came from a family of magicians, and his mother wished to hide her last child from the monsters who would take him when he was three. She succeeded, and Arekkusu remained among humans until after his ninth birthday. Then he was found, and taken away from all he knew.

Since then, he has found an animal totem, Cat, who lives in his chest and advises him (though it insists on receiving credit, and not working too hard, just like a cat). He has learned to appreciate the beauty of the animal characteristics of his Kunitsu brothers. But he himself remains human in appearance.

On a mountaintop, at age thirteen, Arekkusu discusses this with his totem.

‘But he did not come. And you did not come. Everyone says that claws are the mark of a totem’s favor, but you don’t favor me at all. I look human, and I know human things, not like the others. Surely there must be an advantage for me somewhere?’

You have many advantages. Your abilities in dealing with humans raises your status. How many apprentices are called to report before the Elders? How many have advised the Ox himself, or walked with a human magician?

‘But you don’t favor me.’

You have my favor. Who helps you to leap, or to be up all night? And I have never failed in my good advice.

‘If I were with a human family, I would have a place, and know what it was. Why must I leave even memories behind, when you do not even care enough to give me claws?’

Cat was quiet for a very long time, and Arekkusu listened to the wind. When Cat answered, at last, it was in a very different tone of voice. I could not come. I could not find you, and the Avatar was asleep, and could not help. Now it is too late.

Arekkusu looked in horror at his useless hands, and asked, ‘Do you mean… Do you mean that I’m going to be like this forever?’

If I were able, I would have given you claws the moment I crawled into your chest.

Arekkusu put his head against his knees, and wept.


  1. This sounds like an interesting story. Does he have to live as a human forever without any claws? I would definitely turn the page here to see what's going to happen.

    I'm not sure where he lives though, with the humans or with cats. It's hard at the end of a chapter.

  2. This is rather interesting. I liked the dialogue. I would like to know what Cat is, and how is able to crawl in his chest. I would read more.

  3. I love the concept, and the writing is really great. I also would turn the page to see what happens next.

    That said, I think you have some formatting issues. The single quote and regular text format for their conversations is odd. I think you'll want to find a way to make sure the reader understands that there's a conversation going on.

  4. Like other commenters, I think this is an interesting concept with a unique feel.

    I'd really like to see you play up the emotion more - instead of telling us he looked at his hands in horror, could you show us the feeling of horror? Maybe get inside his thoughts a little, or use some more subtle description?

  5. Story concept good and I'm certain there's an audience out there for it.

    I found your writing to be strong, but a tad on the formal and dry for my tastes.

    I expect this is usually the case with epic fantasies...I'm one who couldn't get into Mists of Avalon.

    I'd be interested in reading the scene where he was found out, though. I have a feeling that your action writing might be interesting.

  6. This is perfect.

    When I saw "epic," I was skeptical -- but I have a feeling you will deliver.

    I want to read this book.

  7. Your writing is excellent and I like the concept. I don't get the feel of "epic fantasy" from this little excerpt - it looks more like middle grade/YA, but that's okay. It's just a small bite from a larger novel.

    I didn't understand who was speaking at first. Did Cat's lines originally have italics that didn't survive the copy/paste?

    This story leaves me curious about the role of the Avatar and how this boy will fit into either world. I would want to keep reading.

  8. I like the idea of the story and the ending has enough emotional punch to draw me forward.

    I would have liked to see more emotion instead of tell. Such as in 'it was in a very different tone of voice' and what as that tone? And how was he speaking before? Adding in a little emotion in the dialogue could help bring more deepth to the scene.

  9. As an avid reader of fantasy and epic fantasy, I feel you need a bit more bite in the hook. A lot of the "epics' I have read start with a bang: death, blood and guts, murder, battle and so on. Formulaic and predictable I know but it seems to be what a lot of people who read this want otherwise they don't go past chapter 1.

    Maybe you coulc consider finishing this chapter with the nine-year old being ripped away from all he knew.

    Having said that, yours may be a new voice in the genre and if you have the courage to do things slightly differently then I would be willing to follow and read on. I'm always looking for those who dare to do fantasy differently, not just another Tolkien clone - Robin Hobbs for example.

    Joe Novella.

  10. Interesting concept for a story. However, the lack of dialogue tags confused me a bit- even with only two people speaking I heard it's okay to have one every three paragraphs or so. Otherwise, great work!

  11. This is an unusual and interesting idea.

    The dialogue threw me -- is Cat's dialogue supposed to be italicized? If so, that's my fault! *blush* If not, I would suggest that you italicize it for ease of reading.

    There is something lyrical in your writing style that makes me want to keep reading.

    Like others have said, I don't get an "epic fantasy" feel, and I, too, am an epic fantasy fan. I think this reads more like juvenile literature (which I love and write).

    I struggled a bit with "you don't favor me." My first impression was that he meant, "You don't look like me." (As in, "Oh, she favors her mother!") In reading on, I understood what you meant...but I'm wondering if there might be a better way to phrase that?

  12. I like this. :]

    When I saw half-animal and fairytale, I immediately thought about Inuyasha (half dog-demon, half human). Which could be good or bad, depending on your view of the anime series. But the rest of your summary drew me away from that idea and intrigued me.

    And I liked the snippet. Much interested - would read on. <:

  13. I like the concept here, but the narrative and voice don't do anything for me, and I had a hard time getting into it, sorry. I'm picky about epic fantasy, though, so that may be part of it.

    Good luck,


  14. I like the concept here -- it's a cool twist on the idea of an animal familiar or companion, and that awkward situation of feeling like you don't belong anywhere.

    The formatting is confusing: if the Cat's contributions to the conversation are not going to get quote marks, can I suggest italics instead?

    This is probably just a lack-of-context problem, but I don't think I get how the Cat is in his chest. How big is this cat? Is it a real cat, or some kind of spiritual or metaphysical cat?

    What I'm getting from this excerpt is that Arekkusu is mad at (or disappointed in) Cat for not giving him claws all these years, and Cat is just now admitting that he would provide the claws if he could, but he can't. So one question I have is ... why now? How long was Cat planning to wait before admitting this?

    I'd be interested in reading on, because I am curious to know what direction the story is going in.

  15. Ooh, I REALLY like this. Very Andre Norte-esque. Love the idea of the familiar being lodged in the protagonist's chest, and how they have conversations (I'm guessing Cat's dialogue lines are in italics?). Plus, your story description sounds fascinating. I'd absolutely read on!

  16. From the author-
    Yes, Cat's lines are supposed to be in italics, which makes this much easier to understand.

  17. I liked this. The tension is not a physical tension, but emotional. The writing is nicely done. Congrats!