Thursday, June 2, 2011

What's Broken? #1

TITLE: Voice of Asheva
GENRE: Fantasy

The rogue prince who supports the rebellion of Asheva has been imprisoned, and now no one in the rebellion knows what to do. Enter Evyn Stonecry, a young female magician, who asks the council of Asheva to get permission to rescue the prince.

There was a brief silence. To the surprise of no one, it was broken by Oryin. "A girl?" Some of the council reluctantly took their gaze off of her and turned to him; he looked incredulous. "How can a girl help? Can she win a war for us?"

Evyn stood, revealing two curved daggers at her waist. Dark, fringed bangs fell over her strange eyes, eyes like the edge of a summer sunset, and she rested a hand on her hip. Her gaze was cool as it fixed on Oryin. "I donâ't mean to win a war for you, councilman."

As she stepped away from the table, the room fell further into silence. The calls of merchants and street vendors drifted in from the Tala outside as she crossed the room, past the stone pillars that held up the ceiling, past the tapestry depicting the injustices of Stoyrian royalty. Her voice was soft as she drew closer to Liae's end of the table and said, "But I can give you gift worth more than a thousand fighting men, even magic wielders."

"And what is that?" Fayo asked, not harshly.

"I can give you your prince."

As one, the council twisted in their seats to look at Toreph, confused. Even Oryin's face abandoned its normal sarcastic expression. But it was the councilwoman from Rivertown who spoke first. "What in Asheva's name does the girl mean, Toreph?"

He didn't answer, just switched his blue eyes back to Evyn and nodded at her.

"I mean," Evyn answered, her eyes sharing none of Toreph's amusement, "that I can go to Gaeon, sneak into the dungeons, and rescue Prince Theyrn from the city without any of the royal guard even knowing I was there -- until too late."

Oryin laughed, but he was the only one. The other council members were frowning at Evyn as if they'd never seen a girl before. Liae didn't laugh either, noting the determination in Evyn's face. Knowing the look, she felt a small surge of hope; the casual confidence -- that confidence that lacked arrogance -- was nearly as reassuring as Asheva's prophecy had been.


  1. I feel as though this is starting in the wrong place. I already know she gets the permission of the council because I know that a book about this woman returning to her home to grow cabbages is something nobody would write

    Start somewhere where the reader doesn't know what will happen next. Drop us into the heart of the action. Then perhaps fill us in on this council

  2. I'm assuming this isn't the first page of your story, right? Maybe the end of the first chapter, or the start of the second?

    One small niggling thing that jumped out at me right away is the swapping back and forth between perspectives. Your last paragraph is especially bad for this.

    As for the rest of the piece, there were some things that, had I read the previous few paragraphs, might have been cleared up for me.

    Small warning: I tend to focus primarily on logistics.

    Who brought Evyn in? I think it's Toreph... but other than one line about the guy, he seems to be the least important person in the room, so how easily is it for people to gain audience with the council? This makes me question the security of the council room, especially if it's open enough that voices/noise from the market can just drift into the room. This doesn't seem practical, or logical, especially if there is a war going on.

    I found myself wondering what the previous line was, that they would automatically jump to the conclusion that she's there to end the war. I honestly can't think of what line could be so grossly misconstrued. If the line was something like, 'I have someone here who can help' and then Evyn walked in, judging by his response (a girl?), logically he would not jump to the conclusion that she is there to end the war.

    Sorry if that was confusing... basically, there is a discrepancy between his responses -> assuming she means ending the war, and thinking she's a useless girl. One or the other works, both do not.

    I'm also wondering why in the world she even needs permission if she can get in and out with no one knowing. She doesn't seem to be asking for help, or a cash reward... so why approach the council in the first place?

  3. The logistic questions that 1000th.monkey raised are interesting. Honestly, only one of them appeared in my mind while I read - and that's the last one. Evyn doesn't seem like a girl who's in it for the pomp and circumstance. If she has nothing to gain, why is she there?

    Of course, I can see the ms going on to outline exactly that.

    I'm not getting much of a sense of point of view. I like seeing Evyn from an outsider's perspective, but the POV question brings up an issue - "past the tapestry depicting the injustices of Stoyrian royalty."

    In whose opinion are these injustices...well, unjust? I'm guessing Evyn's, because the others are council members and would, presumably, endorse the royal family. If this is Evyn's perspective, though, it needs more of a lead-in. Her thoughts. Her intentions. Everything in this piece is very factually stated, and the unbiased bent is interesting, but I can see where it could raise questions, too.

    Other than these nits, I don't have much. Love Evyn's character.

  4. The writing is pretty good. You made me feel the tension in the room and the short pauses, and there was a very nice buildup to where she announces her intent. The pacing, tension and suspense worked well here.

    The problem for me was the overall premise--the prince has been captured and they don't know what to do. It just seems obvious - you continue fighting and either try to rescue him or negotiate for his release. The mere fact that these people don't know what to do killed my interest right away. The entire situation was not believable to me.

    And as 1000th monkey said, why doesn't she just go and do it? Why does she need to get the council's permission? Especially if they're not a very bright council (they don't know what to do.) She could get in and out unseen and no one would be the wiser.

    So my feeling is - do you really need this scene? Can you get Evyn off on her quest some other way? There are a lot of characters introduced here, and if this is the only time we're going to see most of them (I feel like we'll be seeing Oryin again)then cutting the scene may not matter.

    Or you could rewrite the scene and make the council a bit brighter and the situation more realistic so it' believable.

    Or you could have Evyn acknowledge to herself that the council isn't very effective and she's probably wasted her time in going there and she should just go and do it. Not knowing where the story is going and what has come before makes it hard to determine, but my overall feeling is that the scene itself is what's not working.

    The multiple perspectives didn't bother me too much. If you're doing an omniscient viewpoint throughout the story, it's fine. If not, stick to your main character's POV.

    Good luck!

  5. There are a few lines that I think need to be replaced.

    If the room is silent, it can't fall further into silence, can it? But it's not silent, because you immediately tell us about the sounds in the room. Maybe you meant their voices fell silent?

    When the Rivertown man spoke up, his question seemed off. It's clear what the girl means, she's not speaking in a code. What's in question is how she plans to do what she says.

    I also agree that the shifting POV's are an issue. At first, it's like we're getting an outsider's view, but then we're in Evyn's head at the end.

    I would also just be cautious about giving a heroine "strange eyes," unless they're vital to the plot. To me, it's a trait frequently associated with Mary Sues.

    Hope some of this is helpful.

  6. There are some minor things within the piece I would change, but I think the overall problem is that her revelation falls flat. Presumably, Evyn is the MC, and this doesn't read like the start of the story, so I'm guessing the reader will know she is going to ask the council if she can rescue the prince. So although the Council reacts in surprise, it's not telling me anything I didn't already know. You've got to keep the reader interested, and if you're not telling the reader anything new, why would they want to keep reading?

    As others have said, do you need this scene? If she goes in there knowing the council is a bunch of asses, and they live up to her expectations, you could cut this scene and just show her starting her quest, maybe explaining to someone what happened at the council. If you do need the scene, then have Evyn be surprised by something, not the council. Maybe she thinks the council will be supportive and encouraging, and it's their negative reaction that will keep people interested, and wondering what she's going to do next.

  7. I agree with Katrina. Those same issues of prose stuck out to me. Also, I didn't like:

    "And what is that," Fayo asked, not harshly.

    Try not to describe in a negative. It would be like writing: He rode a not-brown horse. Don't tell me what it's not, tell me what it is.

    There was tension in the scene, but not as much as I'd like. I would have like more conflict and displays of emotion.

    Good luck!

  8. The problem for me was understanding whose POV it is. The last paragraph implies it's Liae's, but she doesn't do anything else in the rest of the scene. Not that she has to (she may be an observer), but the POV character's thoughts and assumptions should be present in the description.

    To say it a different way: the description of everything is very good, but I think it needs to be tied more tightly to the character whose point of view we're sharing. We should be able to learn as much about Liae as we do about Evyn.

    Also (and this is a bit more nit-picky), I felt Oryin's question of "What does the girl mean?" was a little silly. I'd feel better if someone challenged her asking "How?" or something. I know they're treating her with disrespect because she's a girl, but even in the extreme case of that, I'd expect they'd just laugh her off.

    Related to that (and this may be just because all we got was an excerpt), I felt like she should've answered with some method, rather than saying vaguely that she'd sneak in there and get him out. Or, if she doesn't want to say how, then maybe she can just say something like, "I meant what I said." Otherwise, I feel like her answer is kind of repeating herself.

    But that's just my opinion. I hope it's helpful.

  9. Again, I've not read the above comments.

    I liked how you kept the focus on 'girl' throughout this section. I only have two suggestions: cut - "There was a brief silence. To the surprise of no one, it was broken by Oryin."; cut - "As she stepped away from the table, the room fell further into silence."

    Some problems in the last paragraph: 'were frowning' to 'frowned', rework - "Liae didn't laugh either, noting the determination in Evyn's face." to fix the POV shift. With cut mentioned above, you're over Evyn's shoulder throughout.

    Nicely done.

    I especially liked this: "...eyes like the edge of a summer sunset..."

    Title isn't there yet.