Thursday, January 12, 2012

Drop the Needle #25

TITLE: Bitter Cherries
GENRE: YA Epic Fantasy

Mab belongs to the Belaluk, one of the sorcerer clans that rule the world. They use blood magic, and can gain power by sacrificing their kin and drinking their blood. Remi was raised as a benti, or commoner, but is actually Mab’s half-brother.

“The Belaluk were the very worst sort of kin slayers. Makashi clans that slaughtered benti by the dozen shunned us for our barbarity. Because among the Belaluk, there was no line you couldn’t cross. Brothers, sisters, parents. The closer the blood tie, the more power there was to be gained in the sacrifice. For hundreds of years they killed each other off, until only one was left. Kelarez of Bloodstones, who had the power of three hundred Belaluk. But he needed an heir, so he had a daughter, Vehar, who was his bane. She killed him in his sleep to avenge their ancestors, and let all of his magic die with him. After that, she wrote the clan laws that forbid the blood sacrifice.”

Cold was lacing up my bones, but still I did not see. “You want to drink my blood?”

“I don’t want to.” The tone of his voice pleaded with me to sympathize. “But I have to.”

“But - but you won’t gain anything. I don’t have any kind of power.”

“You really think so, Remi? I thought you were smarter than that.”

What?” My voice was almost a squeak. “What are you talking about?”

“You have power. You know it already. When you drank the cherry that day last winter, don’t tell me you didn’t feel it.”

My heart pounded as if in memory. “That was just the infusion. You told me everyone could use it, that it meant nothing.”

“I lied. It only works for a blood sorcerer. A Belaluk.”

“Wait. You’re saying – you’re saying –”

“You’re my brother, Remi.”


  1. The summary of this short excerpt sounds like a great premise and promises amazing world-building :) I enjoyed your writing and the suspenseful way Mab revealed his clan's history and Remi's heritage - nice work!
    Here are my suggestions for edits:
    1)The summary before the excerpt makes it sound like the Belaluk are currently blood-magic users, but the first paragraph is written entirely in the past. This made me think that Mab maybe doesn't use blood-magic - but then he "has to drink Remi's blood". So this was confusing.
    2) In the first paragraph, Mab uses "they" to refer to the Belaluk rather than "we". This made me wonder briefly if he really was the one talking and why he doesn't associate with his clan.
    3) "Cold was lacing up my bones" sounds awkward to me - I can't really get my mind around this verb here. Could you say this in another way?
    Thank you for sharing and best of luck with your MS!

  2. Whoa!
    Very cool premise and what a heart-stopping revelation for Remi. I want to see his reaction to the news.
    It might be nice to have that explanatory first paragraph broken up a bit into more conversation. It's a lot to swallow in one bite.

  3. I agree that the first paragraph is a little much. Is he reading something, or just telling the story? A bit of an info dump.

    Regardless, I love the last two lines. Good reveal.

  4. Your premise is very good. The paragraph seems like backstory you added to world build. It is fantastic, but it doesn't fit with where you put it.

    The dialogue that follows is just dialogue - talking heads. This is my weakness. I love to make my characters talk but I forget to give them more than a voice.

    There should be dialogue, description, action, and internal dialogue in every scene. If a scene isn't working, color code your words and see what's missing. In your case you are missing everything but dialogue.

    There are times when dialogue alone works. This isn't one. Your MC needs to show how he's feeling. We need internal dialogue. We need to see him chew on a fingernail. Those little bits will bring your dialogue to life.

  5. I'm more an expert on fantasy than writing so I'll touch on that. I do not like the idea of sacrificing your family and tribesmen and drinking their blood. (Are they vampires?) That seems like a sordid approach and more suited to Horror than Fantasy. Also, Blood Magic is demonic and considered, in fantasy, to be far darker than Dark Magic. By using the blood of a host, both willing and unwilling, by the mage or a sacrifice, you are therefore tainting your soul. This can be likened to using a Horcrux in Harry Potter. Mages who practice in Blood Magic also summon demons into the corporeal world, or may become demons themselves by means of possession. Blood Mages can also control a person's mind and implode the victim as well.

    I don't know if you knew this but it's just a heads up. If you are using this branch of magic in your work it should be accurate. And if your MC is practicing Blood Magic then they are dabbling in some pretty devious stuff. I wonder how/why they are able to retain any goodness? This story could potentially have a lot of plot holes or it could be a fresh take on fantasy. I'm very intrigued.

  6. I agree with Janet. The premise is cool and the info imparted here is interesting, but it's all talk and I have no sense of how Remi is reacting to the news.

    I would suggest working a bit of emotion into the scene through internal thoughts and little actions here and there.

  7. So, Remi is a boy? It was weird to hear his voice squeak, unless he's 13 or so. :)

    The blood drinking was sort of odd, and I agree with the sci-fi expert at the beginning that it's a pretty dark form of magic for the main characters to be practicing.