Thursday, August 7, 2014

Are You Hooked? #24

TITLE: The Price of Mercy: Book One of the Lokana Chronicles
GENRE: Fantasy

Dirty tears carved grooves through the layers of grime on the poor farmer’s face as he fought and lost the battle for his dignity. “Please, your Highness, have mercy. I beg you.”

Toqarnna Vegin sympathized with the man, whose pitiful appearance was exaggerated by the colored light filtering through the stained glass windows lining the gallery. But drought or no, he still had taxes to pay; surely he had other ways of obtaining the necessary funds. Even if he didn’t, was prison really the most suitable penalty? How could he ever hope to earn what he owed if he was stuck in a prison camp? But he couldn’t simply let the man go, either.

As Vegin opened his mouth to speak, the room’s heavy wooden door burst open. The prince flinched as his father stalked into the room, the queen trailing behind him. Kintarnna Tol swept his gaze around the room as the court fell to its knees before him. The guards scattered about the room stood at attention, ready for anything. The pathetic heap of a peasant trembled, prostrate, before him. The prince, out of habit, stood atop a dais in front of two intricately carved thrones, and froze the king in place with the sternest gaze he could muster.

“Vegin!” Tol’s voice boomed through the chamber, commanding attention. “If you’re not going to sentence this man, I’ll be more than happy to do it for you.”

The prince’s eyes narrowed. “That’s really not necessary, Father.”

“Oh? So you’ve sentenced him, then?”


  1. I like your use of specific details to describe the farmer's tears and the setting.

    I thought that Toqarnna was a woman until I saw him referred to as "he" in the last sentence of the first paragraph. Perhaps choose a name that doesn't end in "a" or let us know in the first sentence you introduce him that he is male. If you choose the latter option, you will need to change some of the "he"s to "the farmer" later in the paragraph.

    Both first names are difficult to pronounce (or are they last names that come first? it's unclear). Also, why don't the king and prince share a name?

    The dialogue feels a little stilted and cliche. Also, are you head hopping, or is everything from the prince's POV? It seems like the prince sympathizes with the farmer, but in the next paragraph, the farmer is a "pathetic heap of a peasant", which seems like it's from the king's POV. Since you start the paragraph with the prince, this is particularly confusing.

    Best of luck with your revisions!

  2. I love the fairytale feel of this story. The details of the first sentence did indeed hook me. But I'm an impatient reader and the sentence felt a little long. (Admittedly, I prefer YA fantasy to Adult)

    I'm probably being nitpicky here, but the light is actually being colored by the filter of the stained glass; it doesn't start colored. Or is it? If it's late afternoon sunlight, like from a sunset then I guess the light could start colored (maybe a redish hue) before being filtered through the glass, but I don't think that's the image you were going for.

    I do feel a POV jump when Kitarnna Tol sweeps his gaze around the room. I think the prince should flinch and the court should fall to its knees before we see that it's the king and his queen. But that's my stylistic opinion and may not work for you.

    The POV then jumps back to the prince trying to freeze his father with a stern gaze (does it work?)

    I also agree that the dialogue feels forced. Maybe because we don't feel invested in the characters yet. Why does Tol think Vegin can't do this task, for example? And why is this task given to the prince rather than the king in the first place?

    All that said, I am intrigued by this world you've place the reader in. It seems like a medieval-ish setting, but the prince sounds more like a lord or other noble (taxes to pay to whom?)

  3. ...hmm. I'm sorry but I was not hooked by this. In fact I almost quit reading after the first paragraph. I'm glad I finished out the page, because it shows that you are going for a more nuanced look at right-and-wrong, but that very first paragraph practically screams, oppressed-fantasy-world-where-the-nobles-are-flat-evil-and-must-be-overthrown.

    Is there a way you can start things out with more focus on your nuance? As a pretty random example, maybe you could start with something along the lines of:

    "Toqarnna Vegin hated this part of being the Prince, hated the throne room where even the rich, colored light falling through the stained-glass windows couldn't mask the ugliness of this duty..." ...and then on to the weeping farmer.

    Obviously, the above doesn't necessarily match your style and makes a lot of assumptions about the stuff you haven't shown yet, but hopefully that gives an idea of what I mean.

  4. It felt like I was jumping from perspective to perspective here. It also is hard for me to sympathize with a prince looking down derisively on a peasant. Why should readers sympathize with him?

    I do find the conflict between Toqarnna Vegin and Kintarnna Tol very intriguing. Their relationship would be what keeps me reading for the next chapter.

    Good luck with your revisions!

  5. My thoughts:

    Watch for wordiness/overwriting. For example: “Dirty tears carved grooves through the layers of grime on the poor farmer’s face as he fought and lost the battle for his dignity” can simply be “Tears carved grooves through the thick grime on the poor farmer’s face.” (shorter and more succinct; plus, you reveal the loss of dignity part right after that when he begs for forgiveness, so you can leave that part out , too). Also, “trailing behind him” can be “trailing him”, and you can remove “ready for anything” (the fact the guards stand at attention infers that), as other examples.

    Toqarmna and Kintarnna are very odd and tough names to read/say, so they jarred me a bit. I’d choose simpler or easier-to-pronounce names.

    Also in the second paragraph, I’d think that colored light through stained glass would make somebody look more regal/elegant, not more pitiful.

    Good luck with this!

  6. I find this passage very confusing. The second paragraph uses "he" several times but I don't know if it refers to the prince or the peasant. It doesn't make much sense to me that the prince would freeze the king in place with a look. You've got lots of great details, but maybe just a few too many. I'm sorry, but I'm not hooked.

  7. Dirty tears carved grooves through the layers of grime on the poor farmer’s face as he fought and lost the battle for his dignity. “Please, your Highness, have mercy. I beg you.”

    This is a really nice line. I love the visuals and the details.

    I tripped over the names, especially the first names.

    I’m surprised the Prince (the son) could freeze the King (the dad) in place with a look. Normally, a dad could have that effect on a son but not the other way around. Also, why is the Prince standing while everyone else is kneeling.

  8. Good conflict, but too much description. The MC's not going to be thinking about the effect of the stained glass windows on the man's face (unless he's having a mild associative moment). Instead, he'll be thinking about sentencing, politics, etc. (Those sentences were awesome.)

  9. I too was tripped up by the first sentence. I kept trying to see how tears would carve something. Tears might pool together and slide down, becoming more brown and murky as they made their way down his face. I was also confused about POV issues. I'm not firmly in the room and need more setting details to feel "there." I'd think - How can I make this different than any other story in this genre and put that element right up front, or hint at it at least.