Wednesday, July 28, 2010

First 750 #9

TITLE: Resin
GENRE: Young Adult Epic Fantasy

Rowl always wondered what it was like to be outside, inhaling fresh air and feeling the wind on his face. Finally those sensations were just a few days away. At least, that's what he thought. The topic was on his mind as he poured water from a golden goblet into another glass. He heard a slight gush as the goblet refilled itself with water.

"Thanks, honey," his mom said as he handed her the glass.

"Sure, Mom." He poured himself a glass of water from the goblet, which again refilled itself. He then looked at his mother, a tiny woman hunched over the table, her hands and arms stiff boards, her bony fingers steel rods clutching her glass.

"How are your joints today?" he said.

"Worse than usual."

Rowl sighed as he stored the goblet in the cupboard. "Mom, I think I'm gonna have to get you help," he said.

"Absolutely not. And never another mention of it!"

"But, Mom, your joints are getting worse by the day - you say so yourself! Soon you won't even be able to move. You may even... "

"I'll be fine. Everything will be fine. The most imperative thing is that you never, ever... "

"I know, I know...
leave the house," Rowl grumbled. He opened the cupboard's lower drawers, revealing a bare chicken on a gold platter. He carried the platter to the simmering cauldron over the fire, and gently laid the chicken inside.

As he did so, he gazed through the kitchen window that overlooked the garden outside. Nothing but a plot of dirt spotted with claws of thorn bushes stared back. It was difficult for anything to grow given the black blanket of smog that perpetually hung about Wharvul. The Black Veil, his mother called it. The blanket obscured the sunlight necessary for most of the world's plants to grow, leaving primarily thorn bushes, mushrooms, and other vegetation that flourished in dimness and even pitch-darkness. The only indication that evening was presently falling upon Wharvul was that it was dimmer outside than it had been during the day, as Wharvul was a land that essentially toggled between dusk and night, due to the all-encompassing Black Veil.

"But what if it gets really bad?" Rowl said at last. "What if it really does get to the point where you can hardly move and are in constant pain? You won't be able to bear it, Mom. And I won't be able to bear it, because you're my mom and I couldn't stand seeing you in that condition!"

"There are worse things, Rowl. One woman dying of arthritis in the world... it has seen worse."

"I couldn't allow it," Rowl said. "I would have to go in search of medical treatment."

"You know very well there is no longer any medical treatment available in Wharvul, let alone on Fogurra. Don't tell me you've forgotten your teachings already!" Nna sighed. "Why do you keep bringing this up? Need I remind you yet again that we live in a very dangerous world, Rowl? There is much more danger out there than in here, than in my own body. And you and I are among the most fortunate of all Fogurra. Just look around you - look at this magnificent house! Most people have nothing to call their own and live in cramped quarters, not to mention are constantly ravaged by thieves. If you were to leave the house... "

"I know, I know...
" His mother never stopped stressing just how lucky they had it. She always made it sound like their home - a large three-wing, two-story manor - was constantly surrounded on all sides by thief gangs, each gang hiding behind a nearby copse of trees, just waiting for Rowl or Nna to open a door so they could pounce and steal all of the house's magifacts, or enchanted objects. And who knows? Maybe she was right.

"Mother, why are we so lucky?" Rowl said bluntly. He was being daring again, as usual. "Why can't you just tell me? Don't you think I'm old enough now?" He asked these particular questions at least once a week.

"Rowl, you know I've told you all there is to know," Nna said in almost a whisper.

"No, you haven't! What about Father? You still haven't told me everything about Father."

"That will come when the time is right," she said, again in a deathly whisper, as though her arthritis had begun to freeze even her vocal chords.


  1. Your use of a more dystopian setting for a high fantasy is a really interesting twist here, and I enjoyed that aspect. Some things you might want to note: dialogue. I would try reading it aloud to make sure it sounds natural--even in a high fantasy it should fit the character, and your MC kind of shifts between very precise language to more common. Also, other than a few details, I have very little sense of "place" within their house. You spend a good amount of time describing their world, but without the contrast of what their actual lives are like (other than the enchanted objects) I have a hard time seeing them. I know that's a lot to do in the first page or so, but something you might want to think about :)

  2. Your first few paragraphs really grabbed me; I like Rowl's longing to go outside, and I was charmed by the magic artifacts. Like meradeth, though, I have concerns about the dialogue. It feels a touch expository and awkward.

    I love the mystery you set up in the last lines about Rowl's father. Intriguing!

  3. I like the premise but I don't think you're quite pulling it off.

    He wonders what it's like to go outside, to inhale fresh air. But if he were to go out, would the air be fresh? You make it seem like the air outside would be foul and smoggy. And it seems he's expecting to go outside in a few days, but we never learn why, and he quickly drops that line of thinking. Perhaps say why he imagines he'll leave.

    I also wonder if a search for a cure for arthritis is big enough to drive the plot. (Of course, there may be bigger issues once he starts on his quest, but right now it's arthritis.)

    Each gang hiding behind a nearby copse of trees - earlier, there was nothing but thorn bushes out there.

    Overall, the submission feels like its main purpose is to acquaint the reader with Rowl's world, rather than to relate his story. Perhaps start just before he actually does walk out the door? Hard to say since I don't know the story.

    I do like the term magifact. I can see it becoming a general term in the fantasy lexicon.

    You might also work a bit more on characterization. The characters don't quite come off as 'real.' To me, it seems the problem is you're trying to create the larger picture first, when we need to see a bit more of the smaller postcard. Perhaps let us see Mom and Rowl more fully. As someone else said, let's see a bit of their lives. Settle us into their world before giving us a world view.

    Best of luck with this!

  4. Let me say right off that this has some very nice descriptive images. I really like the first para and the description of his mom. I like his concern for his mom and the first 10 paras I thought flowed really well.

    I was a little confused as to time period. Their language sounds contemporary to this point, yet we have magic going on . . .

    The "Black Veil" para was well written, imo; I especially like the description of what grows there. But I, too, was puzzled about the fresh air mentioned earlier--thought perhaps that's some other place he's longing for?

    The end of the next para seems a little unrealistic to me. "you're my mom and I couldn't stand seeing you in that condition." seems like something that might have been thought, but not said; maybe "Rowl didn't think he could stand seeing his mom in that condition."

    The para after the description of the manor felt a little clunky. I don't think you need "bluntly." "He was being daring again" is all you need, I think. "as usual" seems redundant.

    I like the way this ends very much, and want to read more to find out about his father.

    Overall, I just wondered when it was set, think the writing is mostly quite well done and wonder how Nna is pronounced :) Best wishes!

  5. Interesting premise. I love the idea of a black fog hovering over the house. I have a feeling his mom is holding him in and the fog is a spell she created.

    The dialogue did feel unnatural to me. As another poster said, it slipped from precise to slang and back again. I would try recording yourself reading your novel, or have someone read it to you to get a feel for how it sounds.

    I was a little thrown with the switch of names from Mom to Nna. At first I thought it was a typo.

    Also, I'm pretty sure arthritis is not fatal. Painful, but not fatal. I'm not sure if that was said on purpose or not.

    Good luck!