Friday, December 2, 2011

#17 Fantasy: Spirit Weaver

TITLE: Spirit Weaver
GENRE: Fantasy

When the man she loves unexpectedly disappears, Lora abandons her post in the army and sets off alone into enemy territory to search for him. This brash choice not only turns her own king against her, but awakens the desperation of an oppressed people who become convinced she is destined to save them from tyranny. Soon Lora finds herself captive to a deep prophecy she doesn’t believe, but if she refuses to accept her place as a leader, she will have little chance of saving the man she set out to find.

The most unusual thing about the figure standing alone on Orac’s pass this late in winter wasn’t that she was a woman. It wasn’t even that she carried a curved saber sheathed at her back, mottled bronze hilt engraved with the swan of the king. The most unusual thing about her wasn’t a thing that could be seen at all.

She thrust her ski poles into the knee-deep snow, raising a mittened hand to shade her face from the sun’s intense failure to warm the air. Staring past the wolverine ruff of her parka hood, she gazed down the slopes to the evergreen forests rolling out with the gray-green hue of the king’s Honor Guard.
Now that she was here, she felt the fear turn her gut into clenching coils—like a snake consuming itself. The snake twisted at the thought of what she might find in the valley below, twisting tighter at what she almost certainly would not find.

Yet she had to know what had become of Gaern. She could feel the empty place at her core where the fastbond had once burned with the steady glow of a sheltered candle flame. Gaern was the only other person who even knew that place could be filled. But now…

That’s why I’m here, Lora thought.

She looked out again, searching for the smoke-haze of Elendir rising up through the crowns of the distant conifers, though she knew all signs of her village would be hidden beyond the valley’s bend.

11 comments:

YKL said...

I like the opening situation: a woman in the army on skis, leaving her post. It's an original situation in a genre not always known for such!

The omniscient tone of the first paragraph didn't work for me, though. If something's sufficiently unusual, it needn't be blatantly pointed out to me. As I said, describing an armed woman in the snow would make me perk up without an accounting of "unusual things" (and I ended up feeling cheated at not being told what the unseen most unusual thing was).

Nitpicks:

- She thrust her ski poles into the knee-deep snow, raising a mittened hand to shade her face from the sun’s intense failure to warm the air.

Way too much packed in here for me to digest in a single sentence -- it gets to that point at "sun's intense failure to warm the air." An "intense failure"? And isn't she actually shading her face from the glare, not the coolness?

- Staring past the wolverine ruff of her parka hood, she gazed down the slopes to the evergreen forests rolling out with the gray-green hue of the king’s Honor Guard.

There are two vision verbs here, "staring" and "gazed." I think this sentence could be rewritten to avoid that.

Also, the language here at first made me wonder whether the king's Honor Guard was actually present in the valley, as opposed to the color of the trees just coincidentally matching their uniforms.

- She could feel the empty place at her core where the fastbond had once burned with the steady glow of a sheltered candle flame.

I found this to be a bit of a disappointment. This is the man she's willing to go AWOL for! I would have loved a wistful memory or some strong emotion based on the man himself, but instead it sounds as though there's a mystical bond between them that's the main reason she's looking for him. Magical pairings only work for me if they're backed up by a deep emotional relationship.

I'd keep reading to see if she ends up doing anything more than standing there and looking out. =) I get the sense that when this woman kicks into action, it'll be worthwhile reading.

alishamarieklapheke said...

Your premise holds potential for serious tension. Nice.

Some of the writing left me confused. I had to read the first sentence twice to absorb it. That happened again in the second paragraph, second sentence. Did she see the guard's green uniforms or was it the trees' green? Or both?

I love the details you give--wolverine ruff, snake consuming itself, candlelight--but I think you try to do too much in a sentence. Simplify and I think you'll have it.

Good luck!

Bron said...

I've read this one before and I remember having the same problem with the first paragraph. You change from omniscient view in that paragraph to Lora's view in the second. You need to stick with one POV per scene. I would cut this first paragraph.

The rest of your piece is good. If you cut the first paragraph, you would have a little extra room to show us what Lora does now.

Good luck for the auction.

Writing Jo Lawler said...

I was also struck by the shift in POV from the first paragraph.

Most of the previous comments cover anything I would have pointed out.

That said, I became really interested in the story right before I got cut off - drat!!! I think you could open with some form of the paragraph about Gaern, follow with the 2nd and last paragraphs.

That's just my thoughts...

Best wishes,

Karen Akins said...

I enjoyed this. I won't repeat previous posters comments. One little thing did jump out at me. Is the name Elendir a little too close to Elendil from LOTR? My brain immediately flew there.

Rebecca Hart said...

I'll mention I agree with the others about the start of the story -- the POV shift doesnt work, and you are just telling something you are showing well enough in the rest to make it unnecessary.

I really like the prose you use, descriptive and visual -- but I do agree with the first commenter that in some places it does get to be too much, and ends up detracting what you were building so poeticly -- if that makes sense.

I did feel this had some nice potential and you do write very well. A nip here or tuck there, and this one has a nice shine :)

Good luck in the auction.

C. A. Szarek said...

I like the premise. Your imagery is fantastic. I agree there could be a teensy bit of refinement (lose the "she felt" you don't need it) but I liked it alot, and would defo read more.

Mick said...

Logline: I like the premise, but I think it's unnecessarily wordy. Perhaps keep the strong first line, then add
....This choice turns her king against her and inspires an oppressed people convinced she is destined to save them from tyranny. Captive to a deep prophecy she doesn't believe, she must accept leadership or risk the life of the man she gambled everything to save.

This cuts this portion of your logline passage down from 67 words to 45 and uses more action verbs.

I think you could cut it even further to highlight the core of the story.

The excerpt: need to rework the glare vs. heat aspect of shading her face. I loved the wolverine muff as it is an unusual fur that speaks to this fantasy world. POV has been covered. I like the clenching coils of the snake. I too want to see more passion for Gaern and the motivation that drives her to this point.

Best of luck, I find your story intriguing!

Nancy Bilyeau said...

The logline promises a dramatic and exciting story. When I hear about prophecy and someone who leads an oppressed people despite herself, I think of "Dune."

I have to echo the others, that the point of view shift from first graph to what follows is a bit jarring. The first graph was a bit hard to follow. I like the energy of the writing but also, consider having her "do" things right off the bat that show her determination and fear and longing. Right now she's feeling intense emotions that are described rather floridly as she looks on the scene. It would be great if she were in action. Show, don't tell--it is always worth considering.

Kelly said...

I really like the voice here. The imagery is beautiful and I would definitely like to know what happens next.

I do agree with above comments about the change in POV being a bit jarring. Also, while I love the description of "the sun's intense failure to warm the air," it seems a little confusing in that sentence. I'm assuming that she's shading her face from the sun, but it reads as though she is shading her face from the sun's failure.

Good luck at the auction!

Gabrielle Harbowy said...

I agree with the others' observations about trimming the logline, the POV shift, the ambiguities that need a little tightening and polishing, and needing a little more to draw me to the love-interest so that I can feel empathy for her quest.

In the logline and in the opening, the perils seem disproportionate with the rewards to me, which is something a little reworking of the word choices could fix:

Is "knowing what had become of" him really enough for her? How important a person is she that setting off alone turn the king against her? What's the difference between a prophecy and a deep prophecy? Is the weapon she's holding so unusual, when it seems to hold the symbol of the king? She's got the ear of the king, but her home is a tiny village?

But, ambiguities and proportion aside, I like the MC and I like the flavor of the details. They tell me a lot about her and about her society and culture.