Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Drop the Needle: Anger #3

TITLE: House of the Adepts
GENRE: fantasy/mystery

Both Chara and her kinswoman Chynane are escaped serfs. Chara has managed to better herself; Chynane has not. But Chynane has found a powerful and secret protector and was able to inform on Chara and gain reward by it without being exposed herself. When Chara finds out her kinswoman gave her up, she is understandably upset . . . 

Chara waited until the bounty hunter left then went up to Chynane. “He’s your son.”

“Well, well, here’s Mistress Charadyn lowering herself to speak to me.” Chynane sneered. “Am I supposed to be grateful that a fine lady like you takes an interest in my business? Mind your own!”

“Your son working for the Gagans! Is he in town on their business?”

“No. His Gagan friends are displeased with him over what happened with you.” She laughed bitterly. “And he can’t give me up without being taken himself. So he’s at loose ends. Your friend the Archon wants him out of town. He was asking for money. Why else would he bother to talk to his own mother?”

“Did you promise him money?”

Chynane looked sly. “Everyone knows I’m poor.”

“Not any more. You are wearing new clothes, Chynane, and I saw you buying ham.”

“So what? My business is my own.”

“How did you come by the money?”

“Earned it which is more than you ever did. But as I do work, fine lady, I’ll be off. You need not concern yourself.”

“How did you earn it?”

Chynane laughed shortly. “I sold something. I have more wares than baskets.”

Chara wanted to slap her. “You sold me knowing what it would mean. I want to know how you managed to do a deal with the Gagans and not get caught yourself.”

For an instant an expression of shame crossed Chynane’s face only to be replaced by defiance. “Gave you up? Who says so?”

“You did--in your cups. You admitted it and, Aeglam heard you. Do you think I wouldn’t find out?” Chara’s voice rose in anger.

Chynane shrugged. “So? At last you were worth something to me.”

Chara grabbed her arm. “Who paid you?”

“Leave me alone!” Chynane tried to pull away, but Chara dug in her nails.

“Was it him? Your son? Is that why you were safe?”

“Him? He couldn’t protect anyone.”

“Who paid you?”

“I can keep secrets all right. And even if you knew, it’s someone you can’t touch.”

“I will find out, and then we will see who I can touch.”

“Are you threatening me, Chara? Living up at the House has puffed you up even more if you think you can get the better of me.” Chynane pulled her arm away and went off pushing her way through the crowd.


  1. I'm sorry, but I found this more than a little confusing. For most of the lines of dialogue I wasn't sure who was talking. At first I thought it was a woman talking to a man, but then towards the ends, I thought it was two women talking.

    I think if it was more clear as to who was speaking and what their genders were, this could be interesting.

  2. By the end ("him? he couldn't protect anyone.") I started feeling the anger. However there is too much build up that doesn't feel 'angry' before. I kept reading, waiting for some tension, but I didn't feel any until the end. Then it really gets tense and I can see the scene. Maybe more description, less dialogue in the beginning. What's going on inside their heads? The MCs head? I see what their facial expressions are like, but I don't feel what's going on.

  3. I like the actions toward the end that show anger---grabbing her arm, trying to pull away, "Are you threatening me," pushing through the crowd.

    Earlier, however, I thought there was too much telling---laughed bitterly, laughed shortly,"an expression . . . replaced by defiance."

    If you can show those things, I think the anger would be something readers feel earlier in the scene.

  4. I found this confusing, and the dialogue overdone. I also had real trouble with the name similarities - Chara, Chynane and Gayan all seemed to blend together into one confusing mess.

    I also didn't feel any real emotion. Things like "Chara's voice rose in anger" "For an instant an expression of shame crossed Chynane's face" are telling me, not showing me her reaction.

  5. I thought the anger came through by the end. A few more dialogue action/reaction tags might help up the tension.

    Show, don't tell: For an instant an expression of shame crossed Chynane’s face only to be replaced by defiance. // Chynane looked sly.

  6. I thought it was clear enough, and pretty clean. I did think it went on too long. Chara knows from the start that Chynane gave her up. It comes out in the end. So why all the questions about did Chynane's son give her up and where did she get the money, etc.
    It seems the questions should go immediately to why did Chynane give her up, although that's kind of obvious, too. So maybe the question should be 'How could you?'

    The other thing I wondered about is why is Chara free to have this conversation? Wasn't she just taken by a bounty hunter? Perhaps she just escaped the bounty hunter? (probably evident in what comes before this.)

    I do agree about the two women's names. I had to work to remember not only the names but which person they belonged to.

    Chynane's anger and displeasure with Chara is evident. Chara's anger doesn't come off as well. She seems more intent on getting answers to her questions, and it seems she should be really pissed since Chynane has just given her up, or tried to.

  7. I'm not the author, I'm just reading the crits to improve my writing. So, sometimes people are posting comments like "...the dialogue overdone" with no further explanation (KayC, that would be your comment). I agree, but why? What makes dialogue overdone? How would one change it to make it better? Or is there some "tic" that can alert a writer to the problem (like too many consecutive gerunds alerting the author to the problem of "telling, not showing", for instance)?