Monday, May 6, 2013

First 5 Pages May Workshop - Roy

Name: Soumi Roy
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Title: Shattering Vengeance Revision 1

Prologue: 4 years ago

THE time had arrived, the onset of darkness.

And she knew it.

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 ambiance that previously hovered over their dining table, as she patiently watched her husband Victor tap his fork on his plate. She knew he had convened a secret Core Committee meeting for the following day at the Keepers Council

Her husband sighed, and dropped the fork on his plate. He had barely touched his food. 

“Catherine, darling,” Victor replied in a cold 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?” Her heart filled with angst and fear for their son, Nathaniel Clayworth, the only heir of Clayworth heritage and a gifted student at Predris Institute of Young Apprentices; the royal academy where young boys were sent to be trained as future Keepers.

“Nothing will happen to him. We will send him back to the institute tomorrow morning. He will be alright,” Victor reassured his wife in a deep breath, 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, dear.”

Nate had taken a holiday at home. 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 hurried upstairs. She was about to knock when she found Nate’s room 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 her 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 his father’s dexterity to become a maven of weaponry at his very young age of fifteen.

Then there was the sound of an explosion which tore her attention away. The noisy rapping over the main entrance intruded into the room.
Nate jerked upright as his mother gripped his hand with fear. He felt her palm sweating in his hand.

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

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

Then he heard rasping voices, harsh words, as if someone was arguing with his father furiously. Nate felt 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 figure out every word from downstairs. Then he heard a very sharp scream piercing through every wall of their house. Someone thumped on the ground, falling heavily.

Nate clearly heard his heart beating hard 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 ear. 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.” She stuttered, “They don’t even know you are home. Just hide under your bed and whatever happens, don’t come out.”

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

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

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


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 hysterical. “I doubt if you even know who or what the Missing Link 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 reason for support. Your dreamy words won’t work anymore.”

“What a shame,” his mother said in a clipped voice. “Keepers, protectors of innocents, hailed as heroes. Where’s your honor 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.”


  1. This all depends who you're talking to, of course, but some people are very picky about POV and this selection changes from Catherine to Nate in the middle. One possible idea, this being YA, would be to have Nate overhear his parents, making what's going on even more mysterious. It probably doesn't matter too much, but when the book started in Catherine's head and she had a husband, I did pause to look back up to see if this was YA or not. Not sure if this matters--see what the others say.

    Otherwise, a very compelling intro. We're not doing line editing here, but that's all else I would say it needed.

  2. I feel as though too much is happening too soon -- multiple names and relationships for the reader to keep straight (Keepers, Council, Missing Link, Core Council, League, Predris Institute). Perhaps some of those details can be held back, and revealed later?

    At times the characters didn't seem to be acting consistently. For example, Victor first talks to Catherine "coldly", then reassures her and squeezes her hand softly. Or Catherine is described as hysterical, but two paragraphs later is speaking in a 'clipped voice.' It makes me doubt myself as a reader -- I feel like I'm not 'getting' the characters.

    I know there's a rip-roaring adventure in the following pages, and I want the prologue to launch me into that adventure!

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  3. There is some really good stuff here, but a few issues caught my attention. The biggest issue for me was the sudden change of point of view in the middle from Catherine's to Nate's. It felt like the camera was handed from Catherine to Nate without any agreement from the reader. I think it's okay to change POV but there needs to be a clear delineation, such as beginning a new chapter or the reader is left wondering what happened.

    The font size also changed several times during the story and I wasn't sure if this was intentional or not, as I sometimes use an italicized font to indicate inner thoughts. If it was intentional, I as a reader wasn't sure what it meant in the story.

    I think my advise to you would be to try and draw the action out a bit, or divvy it up into chapters in order to be able to change POV if that's what you decide to do, and to not overwhelm the reader with too much information right off the bat.

    I really liked the 'on-the-verge-of-an something big and apocalyptic' atmosphere to your story and I can tell it's going to be a good one with some tweaking.

    1. Thank you a lot. I'm working on the POV change now and I'm trying my best to make the transition smoother. I'm wondering about the same thing about the front change, because that was not intentional. The whole front was written in Times New Roman and size 12, other than the part "Mage?" which is intentionally italic.

  4. One more thought: I think that one other option of editing the first few paragraphs would be to write them from an clearly third-person (observational) POV, rather than putting us in Catherine's head, and you would show what Catherine was feeling through her actions. For example, in the tenth paragraph, Catherine's fear for Nate's future would be entirely shown by "she paused and shivered a little" without the reader knowing that "her heart filled with angst and fear."

  5. I think it's great to start off with all this action- the murder of the parents, a secret that Nathaniel will have to figure out.

    But when I first started reading from Catherine's POV I did have to go back and try to figure out if this was YA. And then we shift to Nate's POV, which is awkward. I would agree with staying out of her head completely and showing everything through her actions. I thought it was weird when she was worrying for her son and she lists all the things that he is - heir, in school, I don't think a woman would go through his credentials like that.

  6. Mage? Okay spill what is the element worth fighting over. I felt a setting of Medievil, futuristic with talk about the council and league as well as the clothes - skirts with a hem. The heir could entertain different attributes rather than mother's elegance and father's dexterity. I would like more wispy description. At times I felt the description stalled my progress in reading.

  7. Hi Soumi,

    Much in here that is very good, especially the way that you jump us right into the story. But these is a lot going on here, and you may need to slow down and give us time to care about the characters and introduce the worldbuilding and the cast of major players a bit more slowly. Also, give us more time with your mc by doing a full scene in her head before jumping into Nate's head.

    Looking forward to reading the revision!

  8. Thank you all, for the critiques. During the time of revision, I will definitely keep them in mind. As for the POV change, I made quick jumping. I will try to make transition as smooth as I can.
    I can feel there is a lot of going in the pages, readers definitely need space to think and understand. I will try my best to work out that part too. :)
    Again thank you all.