Sunday, November 9, 2014

First 5 Pages November Workshop - Romano Rev 1

Name: Karina Romano
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Title: The New Bargain

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

My betrothed came from the land that my own has been at raging war for many years, beyond my birth. He comes from werewolf territory.

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 extinct. 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 as a princess to sacrifice myself for the greater good of our kingdom.

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

It seems like so long ago that I stepped through the witches’ portal that sent me to 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 at the manor, in my room when my father came in.

I turned to face him, the king. 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.

“You know what?”

“I know what I did was wrong but I can’t go through with this marriage. Not to a werewolf! They killed mom.” I gazed at him. “Don’t you care that you’re handing me off to live with mom’s killers?”

“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, our kingdom. You will not bow out of this.” He gritted. “You need to stop focusing on yourself and start thinking about the good of our kingdom and of the 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 dare tell me what my duties are! My duty is to my people! Unlike you, I know what my responsibilities are! You have yet to learn your place.”

I winced. That stung me like a bee’s 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 mongrel whether you like it or not.” He pointed his finger at me. “The maids have already taken your belongings through the portal. You have fifteen minutes.” He turned to leave.

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

“Oh, I almost forgot. Mia’s been confined in a cell for the atrocity she committed.”

What was he on about now?

“Atrocity? She didn’t do anything.”

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

He couldn’t. I had to save her but I was leaving in fifteen minutes. I’d never reach her in time. Not with all the guards around.

“She had no right to take you out of the manor. You could have run into rebels who would have surely killed you.”

“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. Don’t harm her.” I pleaded with my eyes.

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

“Don’t you care that my betrothed is the enemy? That I’m marrying someone I don’t know. Someone who already detests me because of who I am?” I said, my eyes were starting to get glassy but I held it in.

It was not a secret that my father harbored bad feelings towards lowly commoners. He didn’t like me being around Mia. Yet he agreed so quickly.

“I will release her on three conditions,” he ignored me and 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 threw my hands in the air and then fisted them.

“That’s preposterous! You make me sick! 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 let no werewolf 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 kind and the savage creatures.


  1. Hi Karina, I think this reads much more smoothly. The reader feels a little more rooted now. Starting with a little bit of backstory helps. But be careful. This feels a little like a prologue with a lot of telling.

    I think you improved on your dialogue passages. We can clearly see who is speaking now and that is good.

    The story is starting to make a little more sense now, and we can see the pain your MC is going through in having to marry this werewolf dude. Do we ever learn her name in these first few pages? Perhaps I missed it.

    I am afraid there are still a few pesky typos and awkward phrases:

    They had annihilated the humans to the point of extinct.
    Should be extinction.

    My betrothed came from the land that my own has been at raging war for many years, beyond my birth.

    Do you mean to imply: My betrothed came from a land that we have been at war with since before my birth?

    I threw my hands in the air and then fisted them.
    Perhaps, clenched them into fists?

    Rhythm is so important in writing fiction. Also, every word counts. Think carefully about each sentence and how it is constructed. I encourage you to keep reading and thinking about stories! There are a lot of good online classes on craft, also.

    You've made some improvements, and that's great.

    Best of luck, Karina!

  2. Hi Karina,

    I second Ronald's feedback. You have really improved the readability by smoothing out the dialog breaks throughout. Great job! I also liked the new opening with the backstory, which rooted me more in the dynamics unfolding. But because it does read like a prologue, I wonder if you can incorporate that information within the scene itself.

    Another note: I find a lot of the dialog between Eileen and her father a little stilted. This moment ("You will do what is necessary to keep her out of harm’s way. I will release her.”) stands out to me. Her father has just released her friend, but she has no reaction to this at all. If her friend is really that important, wouldn't this elicit a reaction from her?

    One trick I really like is to read the scene aloud. This really helps with the flow that Ronald mentions. It also helps to feel when dialog doesn't flow as well as it could.

    You might consider opening instead with Mia and Eileen's attempted escape, and their capture. This would allow the reader to experience their camaraderie first hand. They could discuss her situation with her impending marriage, and this would be a way to incorporate the backstory and give us Eileen's feelings on the matter without having to tell the reader outright. We'd also be invested in Eileen's situation and root for her. Just a thought!

    I hope this helps!

  3. Hi Karina,

    This is a great revision! I got a better sense of the story and the time period.

    Although the dialogue between the father and daughter is clearer in the sense of who is speaking, I still had some difficulty with it. It seemed forced.

    The actions like throwing her hands in the air and fisting them was an awkward image.

    Overall the revision reads much better, but there are still several typos which are distracting.

  4. The revisions do a good job at establishing where she is and why, so that’s a great improvement. I would like to see more description. What was the witches’ portal like? What is this chamber like? Right now, the beginning is very telling – this is all what happened. It will be more interesting to your reader if you intersperse this information with action and dialogue.

    And you will really need to stand out with a vampire/werewolf story since the market is flooded with them still, so think about what makes your story different from the others, and focus on that, so that it seems fresh.

    The dialogue with the father is still unnatural. I have a hard time with dialogue, so I always read it out loud. (And my entire ms out loud for that matter). It helps so much. You will also catch some of the typos, as well, and see the pacing issues.

    Good luck!

  5. Much better, Katrina! This is really a fantastic concept.

    But here’s my question: Is your character telling this story from the perspective of an older woman?

    I would love to see you switch into the present tense and root the story at the moment of conflict between her and her father. I’d like to see them on the eve of her 18th birthday having the fight and then her storming out (sorry did I miss her name?). Then you can go back and give us the backstory to catch us up with that riveting action. And then go on with the tale, revealing it in the moment through her eyes.

    I’m afraid in the past tense there’s too much distance, even in the first person.

    You can totally throw this advice out if it doesn’t feel right. But you might give it a try. Just to see. If nothing else, it can be a great writing exercise!

    All best!

  6. Hi Karina - I think fantasy is challenging because you have to work so hard in the opening to set everything up. It's really tough, because we all know you can't just dump a ton of info into the beginning. I agree with a lot of the comments above. I feel like I need to know more about this girl and where she lives before the big catastrophe hits the fan. Would it be possible to open with a party where they are seeing her off, honoring her for her sacrifice? That would give lots of room for some lush description and get people hooked on this world. Also, it feels a little like a chosen one narrative right now - is there a way to hint at a choice she's going to need to make? A main character making bad choices makes for a good story -

  7. Hi Karina- Some great improvements here! I think the dialogue is much easier to understand and follow and seems to blend better with the world they're in. As Sarah mentioned, we are kept distanced from the narrator in the narration parts. The dialogue then brings us in closer. The reason it feels that way, I don't believe, is about the tense. It is because it has a sense of nostalgia to it. She is relating facts about her world in the first part all at once and it's essentially a big info dump and is more telling than showing. These details would be better woven into her thoughts and conversation and they don't have to all come out at once. Also, try to be more in the moment, there is no reason to start ahead and then go into a flashback immediately. If you feel like that moment needs to be seen, then starting there is a good plan.

    Good luck! Can't wait to see what you have next week!