Sunday, November 16, 2014

First 5 Pages November Workshop - Romano Rev 2

Karina Romano
Young Adult, Fantasy
The New Bargain

It had been decreed by the council that when I was eighteen years old, I would be of the rightful age to marry the prince of the north. Aligning the southern and northern werewolves. Peacefully bringing an end to the madness that began so long ago.

My betrothed came from a land that we have been at war with since before my birth.

I came from the southern lands. It was not much but it was my home. We had cottages while the northern people had manors and castles andmansions. My dresses were raggedy old things that were quite itchy while women in the north had the finest quality made. They didn’t even have to wash their own clothes while I had to scrub mine.

We were the same species separated by how we could afford things. Essentially they were rolling around in gold while we had dirt. But we had enough to get by and we traded our own property to get the things we needed in the market.
I was too young to remember. But my father had told me stories that they were the ones responsible for my mother’s death. They had annihilated the humans to the point of extinction. They were the ones
responsible for the start of the battle. They were savage creatures.

Ever since I was young, my father had been telling me that I was a special key in stopping it all. That it would be an honor to sacrifice myself for the greater good of our people.

It had sounded so great when I was a little girl but now it felt like my soul has been damned to hell.

It seemed like so long ago that I stepped through the witches’ portal that sent me to Northern Hiralind. But it has been mere hours.


I was standing in the guest chamber where I would sleep until the night of the ceremony that would bond the werewolf prince and me. During the ritual, he and I would exchange blood. The thought of drinking
his blood disgusted me.

They had told me that he would be returning later on from a mission in time for my welcoming ball. That’s where I would officially meet him.

The silence in my chamber was overwhelming as it was vacant. I started to recall my last discussion I had with my father and the vows I made to myself…

I was back at home, in my room when my father barged in.

I turned to face him. His gaze was stone cold just like his personally was and I waited for him to say something. But he just continued to stare. I dared not look at him and just kept my face down.

“Do you know such stupidity that you don’t care for your own safety?”

I sighed. He was going to lecture me again.

“I expect an answer when I speak, Eileen.” I rolled my eyes and hoped he didn’t catch it.

“I know, father.” I simply said, still not looking up at him. “I know what I did was wrong but I can’t go through with this marriage. His people killed mom.” I gazed at him.

“This isn’t about you,” he said, his face was composed but still held an angry expression. “This is about the good of our realm. You will not bow out of this.” He gritted. “You need to stop focusing on yourself and start thinking about the good of our people,” he was changing the topic as always.

“You have a duty as a father!” I yelled, getting more impatient by the second.

“Do not tell me what my duties are! Unlike you, I know what my responsibilities are! You have yet to learn your place.”

I winced as if I've been pricked by a needle. It was moments like these that made me think of mom. How could she have married such a cruel man?

“This discussion is over. You will marry the prince whether you like it or not.” He pointed his finger at me. “Your belongings have been sent through the portal.” He turned to leave.

“Wait! I have to say goodbye to Mia. It’s the least you could do, don’t you think?”

“I cannot allow that. Especially not after the stunt she pulled. She’s been confined for the atrocity she committed.”

What was he on about now?
“Atrocity? She didn’t do anything wrong.”

“On the contrary, she kidnapped our future queen and broke the law. That girl must be punished,” he countered.

He couldn’t. I had to save her but I was to leave this very minute.

“Please father,” I begged, crossing my hands together. That’s not something I do lightly but she was the only closest thing I had that I could call family. “Please set her free. She’s my friend.” I pleaded with my eyes.

“I already knew it would come down to this. You care too much for that girl. You will do what is necessary to keep her out of harm’s way. I will release her.”

I sighed in relief.
“I will release her on three conditions,” he gave me a warning look. I nodded. “You will leave willingly. You will marry the prince. And when the time comes…” I did not like where this was going. “You must be ready to please the prince.”

I jumped out of my bed and onto to the floor. I clenched my hands.

“That’s preposterous! How can you say that to your own daughter? Fathers are supposed to be protective!”

He whipped his hand back and collided it with my cheek. It stung and I felt the blood in my cheek heating as I stroked it.
I turned to gaze at my father. I inhaled a breath and held it before letting it out. He turned to leave and slammed the door with so much force that I was sure it would fall down just like I did.

There was nobody there to see me off.

I had no one.

In a way, I had no home. My mom was dead and I loathed my father. Mia was my only friend, who was probably already free this very moment. But I didn’t get to say a final goodbye. I felt a warm tear trace
my cheek all the way down until it fell away.

Soon, I would be married and “pleasuring” him at his will. The very thought made me shiver with disgust.

I turned around one last time for old times’ sake and walked into what would be bringing me to my impending doom. But not before making a pact to my deceased mother that when I stood a chance, I would
reign in my personal hell. I would not let this prince seek control over my body. I would find a way out and travel where no man would ever dare enter and create a place I could call home. I would not be used like some meddling fool to stop an endless war that has gone on for centuries between my people and the
people of the northern lands.


  1. Really well done Karina! The flow of the beginning is so much stronger. You lay out the conflict, give us a brief background, and set the stage for your story. Great job.

    I was a bit confused here:

    I was standing in the guest chamber where I would sleep until the night of the ceremony that would bond the werewolf prince and me. During the ritual, he and I would exchange blood. The thought of drinking
    his blood disgusted me

    Did time pass? The …. made me think it did, but then it seemed like she is where she was prior to that.

    The dialogue with her father is much more natural, and less telling. It is very readable. You did a great job in this draft showing emotion through actions and mannerisms.

    I still would love to see some descriptions. Are they hairy werewolves? What does her new room look like, and her old room? If one is poor and one is rich, I’d love to see the difference.

    It has been a pleasure reading your story and seeing the revisions. Best of luck with this!

  2. Hi Karina,

    Great job on this! The beginning is so much clearer for me. You’ve done a wonderful job of making it more fluid and clear, and it has great buildup. Here are some other thoughts for you:

    I’m confused about this line, “We were the same species separated by how we could afford things.” So, is she a werewolf too? Because later it says, “But my father had told me stories that they were the ones responsible for my mother’s death. They had annihilated the humans to the point of extinction.” This made me think she was human. So, between the two lines, I wasn’t sure what her species was.

    The narrator’s conversation with her father doesn’t seem to serve much toward driving the plot forward now that you’ve strengthened the beginning so much. Is the purpose of that scene to show us the cruelty of her father because that will play into the plot later? Or to let the reader know about Mia? I’d work on this area in particular for the next round.

    Best of luck!

  3. Hi Karina, this has come a long way. Your new opening helps ground us in the world and get to know what's at stake. You've made a LOT of improvements.

    There are still some tense issues and the overuse of some words: cheek, for example, but those can be rooted out.

    I still encourage you to look into some books on craft or online classes. We can always improve our writing, even those of us who are published. One of my favorite books is Self-Editing for Fiction Writers. You can find it on Amazon.

    Good luck, Karina! I think your story has improved quite a bit.

  4. Hi Karina,

    This beginning reads much better and clearer, but I am still a bit confused about the witch's portal. Why did she go through it? And how does it relate to her situation?

    I thought the revision with the dialogue between daughter and father was much smoother and a better read.

  5. Hi Karina,

    You've made improvements on this! Well done!

    I have to say, and I'm not sure if anyone else will agree with me, but I don't think I understand why we have this in the current order. I know one version had it starting with the conversation with the father. Couldn't we start there instead of having it as a flashback and interweave the details about the marriage and worldbuilding in with it? Having her step through the witches portal after that would be a stronger opening.

    I also really want to be more grounded in the new setting no matter what order you decide to put it in. Is it as opulent as she expected? What surprises her in this new world? Who is the first person to greet her when she comes through. Do the people behave like the "savages" she expects?

    Good luck, thank you for submitting, and I hope these notes help you! :)

  6. Hi Karina,

    Good writing! You made me feel for poor Eileen. It’s not that she doesn’t care about her people – she stands up to her father to free her friend Mia – but she doesn’t want to throw away her chance at happiness to be a puppet. Eileen has spirit, which is certainly needed in her situation and in a protagonist.

    That page break is a little confusing. I would get rid of it, given that she’s located in the same place and that you’ve added a flashback four paragraphs later. Instead, smooth the transition with something such as “Now I was here, standing in the guest chamber …” I would cut the paragraph that mentions the witches’ portal—that seems important but it isn’t explained—and go straight from “damned to hell” to “Now I was here…”

    Regarding that witches’ portal, it sounds very intriguing. Does it have a purpose besides quick transportation? Have people been known to get lost and end up someplace else? Does it have its own special magic? Things to think about.

    Also, I assume that because Eileen’s mother was human and her father is a werewolf, she is mixed. Does that make her special? Does her new husband know she isn’t pure werewolf? Are there other implications there, as in things she can do that no one else can? If so, give us a hint that she’s different in this section.

    I’m sure plenty of these questions will be answered in the novel, but if you give your reader a bit more layering right as the book opens, we’ll continue reading.

    Good luck with your writing!


  7. Hi Karina, I think you're really starting to clarify some things here. I think some textural embellishment would be cool here, both for these beings and their environment. Things are starting to get somewhat sexy in parts, if this girl has been on her own I'm not sure how she's gotten to be so worldly. Maybe her friend clued her in on this stuff, told her stories and planted these fears? That seems to be how it often goes.

  8. Hi Karina, this is really coming along! But I am going to take a slightly different tack to everyone else…

    Why not start with the scene between dad and Eileen? It gives us so much information. It establishes a very clear conflict. It piques our interest with thing’s like “the queen’s portal” and shows us that this is a fantasy without the prologue wind up. It’s gripping. It’s high stakes. It gets your off and running with your story where all the backstory will fit neatly into place.

    I'm not convinced the prologue is helping you. I say dive in!

    I hope that helps!