Wounded soldiers return at night to the fortified keep, Wates. But as they approach, all does not seem well. A "wind tower" is a lookout run by gifted children, used for communication and guarding against attacks. Willim and Curt are brothers.
They rode at a brisk pace. Pol whispered constantly in Kara’s ear. She was getting worse again.
Wates took shape against the horizon. Curt kept his eyes on the wind tower, a growing column above the wall. There was no glint from the lens. No whisper from Willim. Get out of there. Get out.
Kara moaned, writhed against Pol so frightfully hard that he finally let go the reins and held her in both arms. She twisted and fought. Words slurred out of her mouth, most were inarticulate syllables.
Pol put an ear to her mouth and listened. “Wind tower,” he repeated. “She said wind tower.” He looked at Curt. “Is there any threat that could harm the tower?”
Cold pricked at Curt’s skin. What could harm the tower?
His eyes widened. “Nothing from outside the walls. But someone inside the city could—”
The wind tower exploded. A gout of flame mushroomed into the night, lighting the rocky slope. The tower tumbled sideways, crushing the wall as it fell. Fire spilled out like a great arterial wound. Curt fell off his mount. He stood, fell again, and got back up, eyes locked on the fiery void where tower and wall had stood.
Nice! It can be so hard to be dropped in mid-story! Your tension and pacing are spot on, a couple of word choices you might want to look at.ReplyDelete
For instance, you say Kara's words are slurred but then say most were inarticulate syllables, so then they aren't words, right?
I'm also not sure what a gout of fire is. Maybe a spout?
Like this, just got thrown out by a couple of prose choices.
I was immediately caught up in the story. Nice job of keeping up the tension. I could really visualize Curt's reation to the explosion.ReplyDelete
I'm sure you've educated the reader in the "rules" of this world, but I wondered if you meant, "No signal from Willim" instead of "No whisper from Willim" since you just mentioned a glint from a lens.
I'd pick either "frightfully" or "hard", but not both.
I was visualizing more like "What was left of the tower tumbled..." since it had just exploded.
I wondered about "gout", too.
My first thought was "who is they?" but I suspect that's answered in the full version of the story. Little confused on who everyone is, but again, that may be part of the taking out an excerpt.ReplyDelete
How is Kara getting worse?
Once I got to "Wates took shape against the horizon" I found that I stopped paying as much attention to reading for editing purpose, and was drawn into the story, then paused again at "the wind tower exploded." I think it's because you developed a sense of urgency between the characters, and tension about what's coming next.
I'm wondering, though by no means certain, if you could actually cut "the wind tower exploded" and simply use the visuals afterwards to get the point across. I'm thinking it might keep the reader going at the same pace as before, rather than pausing to realize what happened and moving on to the visuals.
Good job keeping me reading through it, and I think the slow start might be remedied by simply reading the whole section, not just an excerpt. :-)
OMG I love this so much. I was confused at times because I didn't know who (or what) Kara and Pol were, but that's a problem unique to the crit session and it didn't hinder me too much to enjoy the scene.ReplyDelete
One nitpick and one not-so-nitpicky:
I LOVED the "get out of there. get out." but felt like that awesome urgency and sense of danger got dropped there because then we move on to someone else. Reordering the paragraphs or a few sentences could fix that.
"The wind tower exploded." I do this all the time, and in a lot of cases, it really works, just outright saying it. Here, it doesn't work. The tension and sense of WTH is going on!!!" is awesome at that point and the point blank statement throws a wet blanket on it. If you just cut those four words that would ROCK. I mean:
"ut someone inside the city could—”
A gout of flame mushroomed into the night, lighting the rocky slope."
That is SO COOL and not confusing at all, if that was the concern.
Fantastic. Just fantastic.
Here's where you really grabbed me:ReplyDelete
"The wind tower exploded. A gout of flame mushroomed into the night, lighting the rocky slope. The tower tumbled sideways, crushing the wall as it fell. Fire spilled out like a great arterial wound. Curt fell off his mount. He stood, fell again, and got back up, eyes locked on the fiery void where tower and wall had stood."
I know that's the action part, but I felt like the dramatic emotions weren't quite there in the beginning. You have good visuals, but I want to feel the anxiety of the characters as they approach this quiet tower. I got the impression that the tower shouldn't be quiet...but I need a little more emotion and meat to the story to really feel it.
Overall, I thought the setup and explosion worked well. I felt the tension as the riders approached the tower, even though I was a little confused as to who was who and what was wrong with Kara.ReplyDelete
You might try cutting "Is a threat that could harm the tower," and the two following lines. For me this was just a little too heavy-handed in saying something bad is about to happen to the tower.
I didn't understand the last two sentences of the second paragraph. (Get out of there. Get out.) Is this something Curt thinks or something he hears? Maybe it would be clearer in context.
In the aftermath of the explosion, I'd like to see how the horses react. Do they rear, or try to bolt?
This is great. Very involving. I like how the suspense builds to the explosion. My only question is about how they're moving on the horses while all of this is going on. Do they slow after the initial brisk pace? It's hard to imagine Pol letting go of the reins and holding Kara while the horse continues to move quickly. Same thing for Curt falling off his mount. How fast is he going at the time? Love words like gout, arterial, fiery void!ReplyDelete
I like this scene, although it was confusing at first for the obvious reasons.ReplyDelete
Lots of unanswered questions I'm intrigued to know the answers to. What's wrong with Kara? Where have they been and why the urgency to return? Sounds like you have lots of great action and tension in this work.
The only thing that didn't work for me is the short sentence "The tower exploded." What followed was so much better that I think you could safely toss that one out and make it much more dramatic.
I didn't get the reference to the lens or the 'Get out of there. Get out,' but apart from that, the rest was clear.ReplyDelete
I wondered about Pol letting go of the reins. They're riding at a brisk pace and he's holding a struggling woman in his arms. It seems it would be extremely difficult to keep them both astride. It would work without him letting go, and be more believable.
And I agree that it would read better without 'The wind tower exploded."
The pacing and tension are great, as is the description of the explosion. Nice word choices!
Nice job with this. I very much liked the ending lines: "Fire spilled out like a great arterial wound. Curt fell off his mount. He stood, fell again, and got back up, eyes locked on the fiery void where tower and wall had stood." These lines are economical and really paint a picture. Good luck with this.ReplyDelete
wow. I want to cry. I've got goosebumps. I like this scene - can't stand kids getting killed - but if this is the world your characters live in... Very well written. Since we're coming in from somewhere in the story, it took a second to feel for the pace, the mood that's going on in this scene. I didn't understand what was going through your characters mind with the "No whisper from Willim. Get out of there. Get out." Maybe clarify that these are Willim's thoughts? Or someone else? Otherwise, great exert.ReplyDelete