Thursday, November 16, 2017

Drop the Needle #5

TITLE: Ravenseele
GENRE: YA Fantasy

Ashlynn has accepted a bounty to kill a monster. When the other mercenaries turn on her, Van, a stranger, steps in to fight at her side. Together they don’t just dispatch their attackers, but the monster as well.
Later, Ashlynn’s tutor, a talented mage shows up. Van conveniently disappears. When he reappears he questions Ashlynn about her magic and her tutor.

“The Thorn,” Ashlynn clarifies. “He’s a tutor. Nothing more.”
Van’s expression is too cheerful—disbelieving.
Ashlynn stretches her stiff arms. “The magic you saw were merely tricks. My real talent is with a blade.”
“In this particular instance, you’re being a tad modest. Those were not mere tricks.”
She smirks. “Is that a compliment?”
Van taps her steel arm. “And this?”
“Strong motivation to master those tricks.”
“A wizard did that to you.” Van crouches low to pull at something in the grass.
Ashlynn is grateful to be rid of his searching eyes. She swallows her dread. “…And a wizard prevented it from taking my life.”
When Van stands, there’s a pink flower between his fingertips. “This wizard who cursed your arm, was he by chance…known as the Alchemist? A mage obsessed with metals?”
Ashlynn’s world begins to tilt. “H-how did you guess?” How does he know a thing about mages? She wonders.
Van extends the flower. When Ashlynn reaches for it, he steps playfully backward, his smile as delicate as the breeze across Ashlynn’s skin.
She darts after it like a provoked child, but he has fooled her. It takes him just a half a step forward for them to converge like lovers joining a dance.
Ashlynn breathes in his honey-cypress scent as he tucks the flower behind her ear.
“I hate to tell you these things,” Van whispers.
Ashlynn can see nothing but rain-colored eyes and lashes made of gold.
“But the Alchemist and the Thorn were friends.”


  1. "Ashlynn is grateful to be rid of his searching eyes. She swallows her dread." I think this would read better as "Grateful to be rid of his searching eyes, she . . . "

    What color are rain-colored eyes? Are his lashes really made of gold?

    Nice imagery with him taking a step forward like lovers joining a dance.

    Having him explain that The Alchemist is a Mage obsessed with metals sounds like an explanation for the reader, not for her. What if he asked "was he by chance…a mage obsessed with metals?”
    And she responds, "The Alchemist? How did you know?"

    The scene captures the attraction/tension.

  2. I'm intrigued. I'm involved. I like Van's character though I feel like I'd need more time to trust him. I didn't sexual tension so much as I felt story tension - especially with the development of the mage characters (both!). I like that Ashlynn has a metal arm - again, it's intriguing. Thanks!

  3. This is well written. There starts to be a slight bit of sexual tension in the paragraph starting "Van extends the flower." It seems that they are standing quite close together, so if you wanted to ramp up the tension you could give some more sensory details in regards to Van tucking the flower behind Ashlyn's ear, or maybe the feel of his whisper on her skin.

    Great job!

  4. I agree with Kate. Once he puts that flower behind her ear, that's where the tension starts. But for me, it didn't work. As long as there was dialogue, I was fine with it. You'd start to pull me in, and then, that present tense would pop in and kill the mood for me. It was like having a third person there, and I wasn't seeing two people interacting. I was seeing the peeping tom spying on these two people and telling me what they were doing.

    It may just be me, but it just felt weird. So, I suspect the sexual tension does work and would be fine for people who don't have a problem with the present tense.

  5. There were a couple of times I felt like you did too much telling and not showing, like "Van's expression is too cheerful - disbelieving" or "Ashlynn is grateful to be rid of his searching eyes". Maybe try explaining how she's relieved he looked away? You definitely hooked me starting with the flower paragraph, for sure and even where it cut off I was disappointed that it ended :)
    I think the present tense is bothersome here because it's third person present tense, so you have the intimacy of present tense combined with the distance of third person, which makes the reader feel like a"peeping tom".

  6. I'm interested in the setup here, and what the revelation at the end will mean for Ashlynn's immediate future. And I really liked the business with the flower! The biggest issue I have is that there's a fair amount of telling - in particular, "Ashlynn is grateful..." and "Ashlynn's world begins to tilt". If you can find a way to dramatize that in her words, actions or feelings, instead of just summarizing it in an authorial sentence, I think it would make the work stronger.