Sunday, March 11, 2018

1st 5 Pages March Workshop- Edwards Rev 1


Name: Sophie Edwards
Genre: Young Adult: Fantasy
Title: Mage: The Guardian's Oath

I had never seen the wall surrounding my village, although I had wandered the length of it countless times, running my fingers along its clear surface. It was smooth and cool under my fingertips, but without a reflection, only touch proved its existence.

It wasn’t glass. In the village, when I pressed my nose against my cottage window, my eyes stared back at me, but when trying it against the wall not even a flicker showed.

Someone could walk right into it, but all the villagers avoided it, and I’d never seen a glimpse of anyone outside no matter how sorely my curiosity pressed.

Thorny ferns grew by the wall and released a musky scent, perhaps warning of dangers that supposedly prowled beyond its safety. I’d never seen any of those either, and with no way out, the rumours couldn’t be disproved.

I pounded my fist against the surface and stared at the forest beyond. Rain soaked me, its needles numbing my skin.

The wall protected us. It cloaked us.

Yet after eighteen years, the village felt more like a prison and the dangers nothing more than a myth. We were trapped, denied any chance of adventure or exciting prospects.

I tore my eyes from the wall and focused on the muddy path. My obsession with the outside had landed me in trouble on more than one occasion. If Matriarch discovered me out here again she’d send me to train with Griff – a fate I’d rather forgo, but finding Lallana spurred me on.

I pressed on over the slippery ground, protected in my boots, and allowed the light of the two moons to guide my way. Both full and bright, they lit up the path with ease.

A shimmer of light hair confirmed my suspicions, and I frowned at the sight of Lallana perched on a branch, sheltering under the thick canopy. Her tear streaked face shone in the moonlight, and it struck me that she was fourteen now. She appeared far younger, though had grown so much from the young child who followed me everywhere. Being four years older than her, I hadn’t expected to become so close, but with her persistence at clinging to my side and our shared training, our relationship had blossomed, and we had become sisters.

I glanced back along the path and smiled at Charlie, jogging to catch up. Even at his young age of fifteen, he cared too much about Lallana to stay in bed. Charlie had arrived through the night eight years previously, scratched, bleeding, and bruised. No explanation was offered about his mysterious appearance, and his refusal to speak of the outside prevented any chance of satisfying my curiosity. Matriarch asked me to keep an eye on him, and as the only three children in the village, we quickly became family.

I sidled toward Lallana and hopped on to the branch, glad to be out of the rain.

She startled and sniffed. “How did you know I was here?”

“Don’t I always know how to find you?”

She gave me a little smile and wiped her cheeks with her sleeve.

“Matriarch won’t be pleased you’re out so late,” I said.

Her eyes widened. “You won’t tell her, Clara?”

I raised my eyebrows, and she giggled.

“No one has seen you since the training session,” I said.

Her gaze dropped to her knees. “I was humiliated.”

“It’s easily done.”

“When was the last time you stepped on Ruben’s robes?”

Ruben, easily the kindest of the three village Elders, made Lallana’s embarrassment all the worse. “They’re long,” I said. “Anyone could have tripped on them.”

“I tore them off him! Everyone saw … everything.” She shuddered.

I held back a rising giggle. “I suppose it didn’t help that he’s rather old.”

Charlie laughed and clambered up beside me, rain dripping from a mess of brown hair. His eyes shone in the moons’ light and dimples chased his grin. He nudged Lallana. “Look on the bright side. You needed to defend yourself. Pull off anyone’s robe and you’re bound to have the upper hand.”

Her expression softened then. “It’s a silly class.”

“It’s important.”

“Is it?” I wondered. “We’re completely safe in the village, and with no way out …” Not for the first time, my desire to know how he got in danced on my tongue.

“There’s the dangers, though,” he said.

“You believe that, do you?”

“Of course.”

I had thought, at first, the dangers had caused his injuries, but he insisted it was simply the journey through the forest. Sharp terrain, he said. Then, he had closed up again.

“We don’t even know what the dangers are,” I said. “Our training might not be any good against them.”

Charlie flapped a stray hair from his eyes. “Well, when you’re in charge, you can decide what to teach.”

“I don’t want to be in charge.”

“Why not?” Lallana asked.

Because I didn’t have that kind of strength. Or the will to be responsible for so many people. Why would anyone look up to me? I spent more time watching the outside or curled up with a book on world history than I did in the village. Taking place as an Elder would remove that freedom for good. “There are others far more capable of that.”

“They chose you,” Charlie said.

“With no apparent reason.” I had nothing to offer, more likely to mess up than make the village better. My strength lay in working in the fields. Even combat and leadership held nothing in my skills or interest.

On the other side of the wall, shadows shifted below the trees, unreachable by the moons’ rays.

A papilion flew beneath the canopy. Lallana reached out with gentle speed, tenderly grasping the palm-sized creature. Its glowing wings and feathered antennae gleamed through the shadows with the same silvery light as the moons. She placed it on her knee, using her neck-tie to wipe the heavy raindrops from its wings. Its low purr flitted through the night.

I watched her silently, wondering if it, too, felt trapped within the border.

“Clara?” Charlie frowned. “You okay?”

I sighed and dropped from the branch. Another night staring at a desired future. Another night where nothing changed. “Come on. Time to get back.”

Charlie and Lallana exchanged a glance.

“What?” I asked.

Charlie hopped down beside me. “Happy eighteenth.” He reached out a balled fist and placed their gift in my palm: a single, clear crystal, carefully attached to a piece of frayed string.

“Is this the string you keep in the box under your bed?” I didn’t know its significance. He treasured it. Something from his past, before he came to the village, but I’d given up questioning him years ago.

He nodded. “We needed something to tie the crystal to and … I wanted you to have it.”

A lump rose in my throat. I didn’t think he’d part with it for anything.

He watched me with wide eyes. “Do you like it?”

“It’s perfect, Charlie. Thank you both.”

Lallana beamed.

He grinned. Much shorter than me, he had to stand on tiptoe to tie it round my neck.

The string grated against my skin but was oddly comforting. The weight of the crystal felt unusual against my chest, and for a moment, it tingled.

Then, the whole world shivered, and the rain shifted.

Raindrops parted, cascading like a waterfall in the shape of an arch, exactly where the wall had always been.


7 comments:

  1. Hi Sophie,

    I think this is great. It’s fairly tight and well written. I don’t have a lot to suggest and most of what I do is nit-picky.

    I might mention that it’s raining a little earlier to further ground us.

    I still find the line ‘finding Lallana spurred me on’ troublesome. It can be read as though she found Lallana in the past and that galvanized her to go on as opposed to how you mean it.

    Great job fixing the ‘only two children’ bit. Works well now.

    Be mindful of dialogue tags. With the three kids together I had to backtrack a couple of times to make sure who was speaking.

    I did wonder how big the village is, and therefore the wall, especially when you mentioned Clara working in the field. The wall would have to be very big to encase a village and fields, which made me wonder who put it there. How powerful a mage would it take to do that? I’m sure you answer these kinds of questions after page 5 but it popped in my mind as I read, so I wanted to point it out.

    I still find it difficult to believe Clara wouldn’t have pressed Charlie for the answers she seeks. If it were that important to her, over the course of 8 years she surely would have found a way to question him. I think it would be great to add a reason to explain why she wouldn’t have done so.

    Loved this new added wrinkle at the end, and great description of the rain cascading like an arch. Now I have to know what happened to open the “door’ for Clara to the outside. Awesome!

    That’s pretty much all I have, like I said nit-picky. Hope it helps and let me know if you have any questions.

    Charlie

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  2. Hey Sophie,

    This reads more tightly, good work! I especially like the dialog because it illuminates who the children are, and flows well.

    I had trouble with this line: "...but finding Lallana spurred me on." It made me stop and ask if I'd missed something, since there's not an indication that Clara is *about* to find her. Showing rather than telling could be a good move here. "But then a twig snapped" or "moonlight gleamed on blond hair" or something.

    The paragraphs of backstory on Charlie and Lallana slowed the scene's momentum and were a bit telly. I wonder if you could allude to and/or show most of those details as they keep talking.

    One thing that's nagging at me a little...Clara is driven to get outside the wall and explore the outside world...but she also feels unfit for leadership, in part because she'd prefer to curl up with a book. Those two things feel a little at odds with each other, but could be easily clarified.

    Nice work with the gift, Charlie's mysterious string, and the invisible archway opening in the wall, defined by rain. What a cool visual. Naturally, now I'm wondering if they're going to make a run for it!

    Keep up the good work,
    AJ

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  3. Hi, Sophie!
    Great revision!! I'm really enjoying the story.I like what you've done, but I might suggest a bit more. Maybe move a couple paragraphs around to ground the reader before going into the history of the wall. E.g.,

    I pounded my fist against the surface of the wall and stared at the forest beyond. Rain soaked me, its needles numbing my skin. I ran my fingers along the clear surface. It was smooth and cool under my fingertips, but without a reflection, only touch proved its existence.

    The wall protected us. It cloaked us.

    It wasn’t glass. In the village, when I pressed my nose against my cottage window, my eyes stared back at me, but when trying it against the wall not even a flicker showed.

    Someone could walk right into it, but all the villagers avoided it, and I’d never seen a glimpse of anyone outside no matter how sorely my curiosity pressed.

    I breathed in the musky scent of the thorns that grew nearby. Perhaps they warned of dangers that supposedly prowled beyond the wall's safety. I’d never seen any of those and with no way out, the rumours couldn’t be disproved.

    Then back to the current moment...

    Does that make sense? How did that flow for you? Play with it and keep us in the here and now -- especially at the beginning. I think you're doing great with the characters. Make sure the dialogue tags are there so it's clear who is speaking each line of dialogue when all three have a conversation. I think there's one that should be clarified - Charlie's I believe.

    I like that last line, but I'm not sure I follow completely. Did the wall just disappear? Or do the raindrops part over the wall because it's physically there? Make what's happening crystal clear so we can see it unfold. :D Love the writing and cant' wait to see what happens! OH and perfect spot to leave off at the end of the first five btw.

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  4. Hi, Sophie,
    Still love the start of this story! So interesting and tension is created right away with this wall. I do stop at this line – “no matter how sorely my curiosity pressed” – primarily because the word “sorely” doesn’t seem like quite the right one. I’d like the idea of more intensity rather than pain or bitterness. Also, the idea that is it raining and it’s nighttime seems to come a little too late. I’ve already imagined the world in the day and dry, and then I have to add the rain, and a little later, darkness. You may want to mention these aspects of the setting earlier somehow.

    This might be a petty distinction, but with this line -- we had become sisters – is it that they are “like” sisters or is there some kind of familial initiation that truly makes them sisters? With a fantasy, you never know.

    With this exchange -- “’It’s important.’ ‘Is it?’ I wondered.” -- I get lost with who is talking. I’d use a tag after “It’s important” so the reader doesn’t have to work or wonder.

    I love these lines – “Because I didn’t have that kind of strength. Or the will to be responsible for so many people. Why would anyone look up to me?” – because then, as a storyteller, you open up so much room for personal growth in your main character. Nicely done! However, I’m confused about her being chosen to be a leader and her then dismissing that. Can she? Is it like a nomination that she can take or decline? Or is she going to be forced to take on the role? A phrase or two of how this works might help ground the reader when it comes to this process.

    When you write, “I watched her silently, wondering if it, too, felt trapped within the border,” the pronouns get confusing. Is “her” Lallana? You use “it” for the creature, so I assume it is for Lallana, but why is she watching her when she making an observation about the creature? Because she’s keeping the creature trapped?

    I love the crystal and what it does. The magic here is awesome. However, this description --
    “Raindrops parted, cascading like a waterfall in the shape of an arch, exactly where the wall had always been,” – is a little confusing primarily because I thought the raindrops had parted around her. If they part by the wall, then why “where the wall had always been.” Isn’t the wall still there? Wouldn’t it be “where the wall stood”? I would rewrite this to clarify and help the reader visualize a bit more.

    Again, I just love this story. The world is so amazing, and the idea of being “trapped” and controlled is a feeling many young adults can relate to. Great work here!

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  5. Hello, Sophie

    I am loving this revision, it is stronger and the pace feels more in sync with the characters. the dialogues have a better flow which makes it easier to read and imagine the characters.

    I do agree with some of the comments, that we have already imagined it is day and it isn't raining if you could add that at first, it would be great. The last bit has me hooked. the rain parts where the wall had always been, I think its the perfect moment to spring that in. You have the characters tell us about them, their relationship and then boom everything you knew so far changes.

    I would like to know a little more about the MC right now I feel attached to them as a group, I would want to know more especially about the MC.

    Good luck.

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  6. Hi Sophie,

    Overall it's very well done. I don’t know if I have much to add. Just a few little notes.

    AWESOME first line! Very very well done.

    I love this detail: “Thorny ferns grew by the wall and released a musky scent, perhaps warning of dangers that supposedly prowled beyond its safety.”
    Brilliant. Adds to the atmosphere and setting.

    It sounds like she is agreeing with this statement :
    The wall protected us. It cloaked us.

    Could you say instead, “The wall didn’t protect us. It cloaked us.”

    Or maybe you want the two opposing sentiments? I just paused there is all.

    Love this description : His eyes shone in the moons’ light and dimples chased his grin

    Super intriguing bit here:
    I had thought, at first, the dangers had caused his injuries, but he insisted it was simply the journey through the forest. Sharp terrain, he said. Then, he had closed up again.

    I wonder why Clara has never asked Charlie more about the outside.

    I also wonder why Clara is chosen. It might be nice to have Clara reflect a bit about why she is chosen : or maybe its part of the mystery that unfolds?

    “With no apparent reason.” I had nothing to offer, more likely to mess up than make the village better. My strength lay in working in the fields. Even combat and leadership held nothing in my skills or interest.

    I love the ending. Good grief, I want more :) Awesome ending there, Sophie!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Nice revision. I'm so glad to see you took most of the suggestions from everyone. I would agree with the comments by everyone else so I won't reiterate them. I'm still wondering why there are only three children and how that is going to effect their society. I think you need to give us something, even if it's little to explain why they are not procreating. If the outside dangers don't cause their extinction, their lack of replenishing their society will.

    I'm going to give you an editing challenge. See how many times you can cut the word had out. It's passive and will make your verbs much stronger without the addition.

    Again, great revision. Looking forward to next week!

    ReplyDelete