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December 3rd, 2005, 11:46 PM
Hey everybody,

Now, I'm pretty new at this and I understand that I have a lot of things to work out. For this story, I'm still working out the plot, adding/removing things and and doing some much needed research. Right now, I'd just like a general critique about my writing style and the outlook of this partial paragraph/prologue. In general, this first chapter is about the main character (obviously) waiting for the arrival of her uncle. It's just a beginning and is only going to get more elaborate from there. I'm hoping to revise this chapter later so any comments and constructive criticisms will be greatly appreciated. This is my first time writing something other than a research paper and it's going to be a rather interesting experience. Feel free to be as honest as possible. It's really the only way I can improve. Thanks.


Bright, morning sunlight filtered through the windows of my bedroom, piercing my eyes with its sheer intensity. Shading my face with one hand while rubbing the dust off the glass with the other, I peered through the rectangular orifice in anticipation of my uncle's arrival. My stomach fluttered with excitement. Pressing my forehead against the cold panel, I squinted through the glaring light for the specter of a black carriage traveling down the distance of the paved roads of my family's estate. My breath caught in my throat. Not at the sight of my uncle, still unquestionably late, but at the wild, mysterious expanse of Solum. I was intoxicated, drinking in the land's beauty. In the way a man admires a woman, my eyes lingered on every curve, color, and shape of the tantalizing scene.

Stretching 300 leagues to the east, the dawn sun reflected off the opulent mountains, the multi-faceted rocks sparkled an unimaginable depth of colors. Here, snow drifted lightly, speckling the dark brown ground of the property with its white paint. To the north, stood a sea of emerald-green trees that composed the ancient Gabii forest, each adorned with a cap of snow. Last but not least, to the west, the land crumbled away slightly to reveal the rest of the village, marble buildings and towers highlighted by the eye-searing white of the sun and decorated by the shadows of the birds soaring high above it. I have always lived in Lar a' Bhaile and yet, the surrounding spectacle provided an irresistible solitude rare in life.

After a few moments, my attention naturally returned to the road. Somewhere within the mansion, a scuffle had burst out, the brash sounds of a couple of pots and pans resonating in my ears. Still no sign of my uncle. Sighing, I flopped back onto the hard surface of the wooden bed, softened by light layers of crude sheepskin. The fragrant smells of fried sinciput and baked seed bread wafted teasingly around the small room, setting my stomach on fire. The household was just beginning to stir, the tell-tale sounds of hammer upon metal echoing through the hallways. Those of my family who have just finished breakfast were already in their workshops, refining their creations. Others, newly awakened from the comfort of their plush beds, will soon be making their way down to the dining hall for the succulent gourmet that awaited them. Lucky bastards. My stomach grumbled, my back ached, and my right arm was beginning to cramp under the pressure of my prone body. In desperation, I shifted myself out of the bed and towards the door. No luck. The maid last night had not forgotten to set the locking wards that kept me imprisoned here in this hellhole. I had stifled a cry when the doorknob ignited hand and arm with electric shocks of pain from touch alone. Frustrated and cradling my sore arm, I walked over to the rusty wash basin perched next to the bed. A large mirror hung over the miniscule container and a thin, pale, hazel-haired girl with dark almond eyes stared back at me. With fierce bitterness, my fingers slowly traced over the ridged scar of the crest imbued onto my skin at birth, brightly inked with saffron, the color of prestige that I have never known.

Lar a' Bhaile, a vast village situated in the northern highlands of Solum, is occupied by few farmers but many merchants. The geography of our land and its thickly frozen soil makes it difficult for agriculture to thrive. Instead, most of our people have long depended on their craft for sustenance. Out of the forty or so existing villages on this contienent, ours is most reputable for its annual flamboyant gatherings where travelers from the entirety of Solum come to view our wares. Here, prestige is determined by talent. By birth, each newborn is imbued with a crest signifying the specialized trade of their families. Two or more families may share crafts, but they often do not share rank. While the newly seared flesh of the screaming babe is still hot, the brand is inked meticulously with color to display their place in society. The crests of the greatest and most powerful families are decorated with vibrant saffron ink, produced from the rare chrysanthus flower found only northern Solum. The cooler colors, derived from the common plants of the region, are reserved for those of lower rank.

Unfortunately, I was born with neither talent, physical strength, nor magic. Deemed useless, my life was forfeit. I was stigma; a smear on the reputation of a family devoted to the craft of metal. Since the shameful failure of my examination day, my father, who loved me dearly when I was young, never looked at me again--a resolve he later took to his deathbed. Since then, my life was changed forever. Instead of the ritual exile, I was made a slave, one arm branded with a triangular tattoo indicating my new status. Roughened from years of physical labor, my hands were thick with calluses, some skin still peeling off the sides. Thin, raised scars pelted down the vicinity my back from the days when I was punished for disobedience. I closed my eyes as latent memories of my last beating surfaced in my mind. It was done by Greve, my twin brother, whose face twisted into a display of profane pleasure as I lay curled on the floor, my screaming mouth stuffed with rags, while he battered my bloody body repeatedly with a board. The only family member that ever treated me with kindness was my uncle, a burly man with a mercurous personality. During his visits, a mixture of sympathy and pity always lingered in his eyes when he laid them upon me. A few simple items from his travels perched on my bare shelves. Other than the clothes on my back, a small carving knife, two dolls, and an amethyst bracelet became the only possessions that I had.

A long time ago, my uncle made a promise to me. On my nineteenth birthday, he would come and take me away. He never mentioned where but I didn't care--any place would have to be an improvement. My reflection seemed to shimmer as I failed to stem the tears of memory. It was not for sadness that I cried however, but for the first time, I wept openly, almost joyously. The seed of hope had finally blossomed beyond the boundaries of my bitterness and the day of my freedom beckoned at last.

Jumbo Frendie
December 6th, 2005, 07:36 PM
Very good opening chapter i usually find it hard to start a novel but you have done a very good job if you have written anymore id be interested to read it a good story so far.

December 6th, 2005, 11:49 PM
Thanks, glad to see some encouragement here. =) Yea, these little paragraphs were just a setup for other major elements that will occur later in the story. I was actually surprised at the lack of replys on this forum. I had higher expectations than that. Thanks again. Your reply is much appreciated.