Tuesday, May 14, 2013

1st 5 Pages May Workshop - Roy Rev 1

Name: Soumi Roy

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Title: Shattering Vengeance

Prologue: 4 years ago

THE time had arrived, the onset of darkness.

The illumination of a striking thunderstorm enriched the feel of a dead end in the earth or a new beginning. Whichever it was, her trembling heart feared the worst.

Catherine Clayworth watched the raindrops sliding down the windowpanes. Outside the window the eerie night seemed darker than ever, enshrouded in cold gloominess, like the dirge of a dead soul. Raging torrents of rain struck down with lightning bolts, piercing through the turbulent night sky down to the desiccated earth. And the macabre view simply frightened Catherine more.

“Are you sure you will be going to the Council? I don’t think we can trust anyone anymore.” Her voice broke the silent ambience that previously hovered over their dining table, as she patiently watched her husband Victor tap his fork on his plate. He wasn't surprised to see that his wife already knew about the secret core committee meeting he had convened for the following day at the Keepers Council, the assembly that was engaged in ruling the city of Neo Predris with an iron fist.

Victor Clayworth sighed, and dropped the fork on his plate. He had barely touched his food.

“Catherine, darling,” Victor replied in a grave voice, as if preparing for the chance of a storm whose direction was still unknown, “we still have some trusted friends left who are willing to help.”

“The League? I don’t trust them either,” Catherine said dryly.

“Yet, we must give our best to protect our last hope of survival.”

“That may indeed be the City’s future. But…” she paused and shivered a little, “think about Nate, and his future. What if we endanger our son’s life?”

“Nothing will happen to him. We will send him back to the institute tomorrow morning. He will be alright,” Victor tried to reassure his wife with a deep breath, noticing the anxiety written over her beautiful face, and softly squeezed her hand. Unconvinced, Catherine looked away.

Victor pushed aside his plate and walked to the staircase. “Nathaniel, come here,” he called for his son, who was taking a nap in his bedroom upstairs. “I know you are feeling sick, but a little food will make you feel better, son.”

Nathaniel, the only heir to the house of Clayworth, had taken a holiday at home from Predris Institute of Young Apprentices; the royal academy where young boys were sent to be trained as future Keepers. A mild headache and low fever had weakened him enough to take leave from the Institute.

“I’m going to see how he’s feeling,” Catherine hushed her husband.

She gathered her long dress and headed upstairs. She was about to knock when she found the door to Nate’s room was slightly open. She swiftly passed into the room and sat beside Nate.

“Have some food, dear, else you will be weaker,” Catherine gently said to her son.

“No, Mom. I’m not feeling well,” Nate answered in a husky voice.

Catherine gently stroked his hair as he rested his head on her lap, and her affectionate eyes gazed upon his sun kissed face, which was the most handsome in his mother's eyes. And indeed he was. His raven black hair and stormy blue eyes with a slender build would shame any other human beauty. He inherited both his mother’s elegance and kindness, and his father’s intelligence and dexterity, to become a maven of weaponry at his very young age of fifteen.

Then there was the sound of an explosion, which tore their attention away. The noisy rapping over the main entrance intruded into the room. Catherine jerked upright and gripped Nate’s hand with fear, her palm sweating in his hand.

“Nate, dear, I must go. Do not come downstairs, okay? Goodnight.” Catherine kissed his forehead and stormed out of the door, closing the door behind her.

Closing his eyes, Nate curled inside his blanket, but was unable to sleep, anxious and worried over the suddenness of his mother’s changed behavior The uneasiness in her voice really scared him.

Then he heard rasping voices, harsh words, as if someone was arguing with his father furiously. The argument was slowly heating up. His father was a man of dignity and he would never allow someone to talk to him in such an unpleasant way without reason. Nate sat up on his bed, trying hard to better hear every word from downstairs.

A very sharp scream pierced through every wall of their house. Someone thumped on the ground, falling heavily. Nate clearly heard his heart storming against his chest, felt it ready to jump out of his throat. Quickly guessing what could have happened, he jumped down from his bed and instinctively picked up his dagger from the nightstand drawer.

Suddenly, the door burst open with Catherine’s intrusion. Horrified and drenched in blood, her face had taken on the color of crimson red. Her whole body was trembling in unutterable terror and her sobbing started to echo through Nate’s ears. She immediately locked the door behind her and before Nate could ask anything, she held his face in her shivering palms and uttered haltingly, “They…they…killed your father. They are coming up for me, but I…I…won’t let them touch you.” Though she stuttered, a fierce protectiveness rose in her voice. “They don’t even know you are home. Just hide under your bed and whatever happens and don’t come out.”

They murdered his father? He couldn’t believe his own two ears, the ground slipping away beneath his feet and he stood frightened, too shocked to even cry.

Someone banged on the bedroom door with full force, again and again.

“I don’t have much time left, Nate…” She gripped his shoulder. “Just remember, protect the Last Mage and don’t trust anyone. Do you understand?” She turned her face to the door, her blue eyes wide with terror.


The long lost name was just a scribbled word of ancient Predris mythology. Nate only nodded in response, though he didn’t understand why his mother was talking about such an absurd topic now, at this very moment when both of their lives were at stake.

Nate wanted to ask what was happening, who were these people? But his mother pushed him under the bed and hushed, “Promise me you won’t come out.”

Terror ran down through his body, paralyzing his thoughts and movements. The door exploded violently and he heard footsteps, loud as they invaded the room. The group seemed bigger than he anticipated. His eyes squinted and his gaze darted in the direction of where his mother stood. He could only see the hem of her nightgown, once white and now swamped in blood.

“You think killing us will pave your way?” Nate heard his mother’s shaking laughter, rather unnatural in fear. “I doubt if you even know who or what the Last Mage is, yet you are stretching your dirty hands into the darkness in search of a myth that doesn’t even exist!”

One of them cut her off with his hoarse voice. “You think you are so smart Catherine, and we are a bunch of fools?” The voice was known, much known but he was too afraid to think clearly. “You Clayworths have distracted us much in this matter and now we have enough reasons for support. Your lies won’t work anymore.”

“What a shame,” Catherine said in a nervous voice, struggling to keep it firm. “Keepers, protectors of innocents, hailed as heroes. Where’s your honour now?”

“Pity,” replied the same voice that was speaking before, “we are not heroes to those who betray the Council. Your husband should have thought about that before he decided to go against us.”

“My husband only did what was right. He was holding onto his Keeper’s honour, unlike you,” Catharine spit the words at them.

“Enough,” another man roared. “Enough of your games. We know the truth of the blood running through your dark veins. Clayworths’ bloodline should end now with the Last Mage.”


  1. I'm still having issues with the change of POV--three times in this section by my count. I like the visuals, but feel like a few could be cut out to speed things along in this moment of high tension.

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  3. I tried to change it from third person subjective to omniscient point of view. I was wonder that it would be helpful if you kindly point out the three time of POV change. I will work on it and promise to make it better than this time.

  4. Id recommend asking someone higher up on the writing food chain ( so to speak ) to be sure, but I believe omnis pov is frowned upon. Just repeating what I've heard.

    3 pov
    Catherine at table
    Her husband at table
    Catherine going upstairs
    Son upstairs--his voice is the clearest to me
    Very end back to Catherine

    I think someone suggested having the son eavesdrop--that would certainly add tension and solve your pov issue-- but would need some rearranging

    Catherine could talk to him on the stair and then send him back to bed-- very motherly and would fit story

    I hope this helps
    Sometimes it feels like a person has to edit until their fingers drop off

    Please excuse any errors--writing while walking the dogs

  5. Yes, I could use the first suggestion of eavesdropping since I have to eventually go back to Nate by this way or other, and that really would require a lot of changing. :( I will try that.

  6. Beside, just now I came to notice one mistake in my piece, instead of writing "He wasn't surprised to see that his wife already knew about the secret core committee meeting he had convened..."
    I could have simply written, "He had convened a secret core committee meeting..."
    I guess that would have helped a bit from switching into Victor's POV?

  7. Also, If I want to keep this original form, then what shall I do to avoid the POV changes? Any suggestions, please?

  8. The only way to avoid pov changes is to have it all in Nate's pov.

    If you keep it in this form, you need dividers


    Like that in between changes of pov.

  9. That would work well. I can divide the POVs between,

    “Nate, dear, I must go. Do not come downstairs, okay? Goodnight.” Catherine kissed his forehead and stormed out of the door, closing the door and leaving her son stunned behind her.


    Closing his eyes, Nate curled inside his blanket, but was unable to sleep, anxious and worried over the suddenness of his mother’s changed behavior. The uneasiness in her voice really scared him.

  10. Btw, I think your descriptions are really beautiful -- hauntingly so in this situation.

  11. I would just agree with Ann to work out the POV stuff- it is a little more confusing now with everything going back and forth, but it sounds like you're on it.

  12. I don't know whether omniscient POV is frowned upon or not, but what if you used it in the first section (before Catherine goes up to Nate's room) and then moved to Nate's POV (since obviously he's going to become the MC. I liked it in the first version when you wrote "And she knew it"; you could take the POv away from Catherine by changing that to "They all knew it." you also would not be able to include glimpses of things we can't see, such as her quickening heartbeat, her fear, etc.

    I also think you might want to (here comes my favorite piece of feedback) go through and see if there are some sentences you could simplify to make it easier for the reader. For example, where you write "A very sharp screen pierced through every wall of their house," you might simplify it by saying, "A sharp scream pierced the walls of the house." I think this sort of line editing would do a lot for the flow of the story.

    I really like this story and what you are doing with it, Soumi. You have some wonderful imagery and it definitely makes me want to keep reading, which is the most important thing.

  13. (sorry for my own choppy writing on the above; I'm trying to write this on my IPad and it keeps freezing up and kicking me off, which makes it hard to express myself coherently!)

  14. One more POV comment: in that first section, you could take the POV from Catherine and keep it omniscient by saying "Whatever it was, they all feared the worst," rather than "...her trembling heart feared the worst."

  15. Now I'm rethinking my suggestion to try the omniscient POV to open the story before moving to Nates's...thoughts on that, anyone?

    1. Actually, I just found an article suggeating that it's fine to use omniscinet POV at the beginning of a story to establish the setting and circumstances before moving into one or more characters' head (s) to give the reader a more intimate connection to the story.

    2. I'm trying to write the whole prologue from Nate's POV, as he was evasdropping on his conversation. I hope it would work. :)

  16. Much improved! I do think that the second sentence would mean more, have more of an impact, if moved to later in the chapter. Right now there's no context, and my eyes just slipped over it to get to the paragraph about Catherine (my brain wanted to know what was going on, in concrete terms, so it could create a setting).

  17. Hi Soumi,

    This is very much better! I think you can still strengthen it quite a bit. You are still changing POVs too quickly, and while I agree with what Susan said about starting with omniscient, my personal preference, and what I have heard from agents and editors most frequently of late, is to stay within one POV long enough to establish a connection with the reader. This usually means starting with your main character, in this case, the young one since that is the character with whom your readers will most identify. Within that POV, you can move the camera in and out, describing things more generally to set the stage before you move it close enough to give us the MC's thoughts.

    For next time, I'd also suggest trying to be a little less formal in your writing and dialogue. That will come from being deeper in Nate's POV. You might even try writing this in 1st person, and then changing it back, if you prefer. Overall, that will make things flow more naturally and help the reader become even more interested in what's going on by letting us feel what Nate is feeling. It might also force you to be more selective in using adjectives. While you've clearly chosen each one with great care, and they all build to create a great atmosphere, all together they end up being a bit distracting. I will sometimes copy my text into a fresh document, take out all my adjectives, count them, and then add them back in one at a time with the assumption that I can only use 10%. I often find that is more than enough, and I end up with room to spare. (I cheat by switching an adjective and a weak verb into a stronger, more appropriate descriptive verb.)

    Overall, with readers having so much choice in reading material, every word of these first five pages will count. Focus on making us interested in Nate before you jump into the dire circumstances that will change his world. Your writing is strong enough to let us do that, so trust yourself. :)

    Looking forward to seeing what you do next week!

    1. I have moved to Nate's POV but kept it third person, since the chapter one is starting from first person POV of the heroine. I hope seeing things from Nate's pov would work better. Fingers crossed. :)

  18. Flow is better. Catherine and Nick’s relationship feels appropriately like mother and son. I like the changes after Mage is first uttered. The interaction is easy to follow within the mother and son context. I am little confused when the crowd appears. The mother knows that her son is in the room. I would think she would want to tell him something that only he would understand. I want to know more about his internal thoughts. The shaking laughter catches me off guard.