View Full Version : Critique: the introduction.
June 1st, 2007, 02:15 AM
Hello all! If you remember the series of chapters I've posted, I'm sorry to notify that I've decided to put it down for now. The scale is far too large, and the plot is too convoluted for me to tell it well. So I've begun another project, with much simpler plot. The following is the first few paragraphs, a monologue from the protagonist before the beginning of the story. It's pretty short, but I just couldn't help myself against the desire to hear your thoughts on it!
My name is Yahn Krahad.
I had been many things in my boyhood: a runaway slave, beggar, pickpocket, whore, murderer… you name it. I had been all these things and more for one reason only: survival. I did what I had to do, those cruel and degrading deeds, to live. From moment to moment, breath to breath, sunrise to sunset... Living on the edge, always afraid of death. I had been a vagabond child.
Had been. I am thankful I can say that. I am what I had been no longer. All the shame, guilt, and fear… I have dealt with them, finally. I have no fear for death; only respect. My past haunts my present no longer—and so it will not touch my future. The silver lines dance their everlasting dance in my mind, like an eternal flame, and I know that death is not the lowest point of one’s existence. Death can be beautiful; death can be sublime. I have not forgotten… the day my master showed me.
His blade was silver poetry, the scarlet globules tracing its immaculate movement. Soaring and falling, together, the instrument of death and fluids of life… I was enthralled by the scent, the echoes of their soft, quick moans. And the empty faces, so devoid of meaning, yet in their emptiness full of life, so, so full… I was nine then.
It has been twelve years since then, and today I shall inherit his sword. Frahghad, the sigil blade of thousand mirrors. I will learn to become its master, to be who I am meant to be. I shall bear the burden. I am ready. My poetry will soar. Henceforth, my destiny shall belong to my own hands.
Yes, my name is Yahn Krahad. If you have not heard it before, you shall, and soon. For this is my last day as an apprentice to one of the three Sigil Master s of the universe.
June 1st, 2007, 09:41 AM
Masters of the Universe, eh? By the power of Grayskull! ^o^ Man, I used to love watching He-Man as a kid. Good times, good times.
"No fear of death; only respect", you say? So Yahn now fears respect?
And "scarlet globules"? Elphy, Elphy...
It's not a bad intro. It could use some cleaning up, some spit and polish, but you've got a fair start. Even in its current state, it's enough to reel me in.
So, are you going to be chronicling young Yahn's journey from the start, or are we simply covering his quest for mastery of Fraghad?
June 1st, 2007, 10:22 AM
Its narrow . . .
No offense, seriously; but its narrow. Its almost a classic story of a rags to riches tale. Of the slave becoming the slave master. However, in the same scentence I can say that the beginning is almost tragic and extremely descriptive.
Here is what I have gathered about this character from the intro. He is somewhat self-obsessed as he reflects entirely too much on himself and not the whims of life. He focuses way too much on the gain and not the struggle that he overcame to obtain the wealth he is about to obtain.
You describe so much about the character, but not much of anything about what actually happened to him, or how he rose to power.
Maybe I'm being picky, but thats just my thought
Read my short story sometime and tell me what you think.
Peril of Providence
June 1st, 2007, 10:49 AM
Its almost a classic story of a rags to riches tale.
All Yahn has to do is become a penitent in the end and it'll be just like Moll Flanders. I tell ya, that woman got off easy. No poetic justice whatsoever.
June 1st, 2007, 03:22 PM
So here's something that fits as a prologue. Think of Yahn monologue as an extended prologue (...) before this one. The story is NOT about his childhood, though there might be few flashbacks. This is the story about his future, his becoming of the Sigil Master.
“Pilgrimage, pupil, a pilgrimage,” said the master, peeling an apple with his hands.
“But you didn’t tell me!” protested the pupil, the silverware in his shaking hands melting into nothingness.
“Oh, didn’t I?” The Master said cooly, staring at his apple, now peeled and roasted to perfection. He took a bite. “Hm… I suppose I’ve forgotten. Nevertheless, you have to go. Unless you make the pilgrimage, you cannot unsheathe Frahghad.”
“What?!” The pupil let out an outrageous cry. The silverware had evaporated. So did the tears of frustration and anger that had briefly welled up in his pumpkin-colored eyes.
“Ah, stop yelling, pupil! I’m old, not deaf!” said the master. “Besides, what kind of pupil yells at his master like that? Maybe I should find a new one, hmm?”
“Oh stop your empty threats! You and I both know that you’re too lazy to teach another pupil!” Here Yahn bit his lower lip, suppressing himself. “In fact, that’s why you’re about to hand me Frahghad so prematurely—so you can retire and do whatever it is that you do!”
“Retire? Yes… build an island… and bring ladies out of flowers… ooh, cocoa fudge…” The master had gone into yet another daydream. Building a harem, is he? Yahn thought bitterly. The worst part of it was that he is probably materializing an island somewhere, in the distant universe, with flowers that bloom into beautiful female bodies. Such was the power of his imagination, the power of sigils.
“Master!” Yahn called out to him. “My pilgrimage!”
“Oh! Ah, where was I… oh yes. Pilgrimage!” He clapped his hands excitedly. ”Pilgrimage, pupil. A Pilgrimage to the Origin of Sigils! It is customary for a new Sigil Master to journey there and pay respects to the Redeemer. Oh, pupil!” The master noticed the bitter look on Yahn’s face. ”Smile or I’ll shave that look off your face! Yes, smile, pupil, smile! It’ll save you a whole lot of trouble on your pilgrimage!”
Yahn thought for a moment. Is this some kind of final test? He knew that he never heard such a story in twelve years of learning. Besides the Principles regarding the Sigilwork, his master told him nothing but the stories of his own grandeur: how he slew an entire race of evil dragons and the forces of abyss, saved the world, basked in the glory of his deeds, back in the days… If it wasn’t for occasional visitors and the extraordinary gifts they brought, Yahn would not have believed in those stories.
“When do I leave, Master?” the pupil asked politely, respectfully. Just a pilgrimage, he told himself. One trip and I’ll be free from him forever! Small excitement grew in his chest.
“Oh, why not now, pupil? Best to get it over with, no?” The master made few signs with his hand then, summoning a large circular door in the air before Yahn, out of nothingness. “Here, you can take the Fairy’s Way. It’ll get you off this world in no time!”
Then with another gesture, he beckoned the space behind his pupil to push him forward, along with the chair. “Have a fun trip, child! And don’t forget to bring a gift!” shouted the master.
“Master, the sword!” Yahn yelled desperately. His body was already falling through the summoned door, into a narrow cavern of mind-boggling yellow and pink. “Oops!” He heard his master, the voice already distant. “Here! Catch!”
Frahghad, the fearsome sigil blade of thousand mirrors, was thrown into the Fairy’s Way and knocked Yahn hard in the head. Yahn reached for it, oh, he reached for it so desperately… but his mind was emptying quickly.
Just before he passed out, Yahn could have sworn that he heard his Master chuckle.
and Yahn wakes up in a cellophane forest, where a dead dragon lies in the pool of its own blood...:cool:
June 1st, 2007, 09:34 PM
How do you peel an apple with your hands? I suppose it was roasted, right? That'd make sense.
And how do you shave a look off someone? Is it anything like shaving the whales?
and Yahn wakes up in a cellophane forest, where a dead dragon lies in the pool of its own blood...:cool:
You don't say? So much for my theory of Micah being Arthur's horse. :P
Anyway, not bad. Master-apprentice rivalry is always fun. ^_^
June 2nd, 2007, 06:33 PM
I revised the first part into a proper prologue. Thanks to TR Patrick's suggestions I added some detail to spice things up. And the flawed sentence about Yahn's fear of death and respect is fixed, thanks, as always, to James' nitpicking. I like this one a lot better, and I think I'm gonna rewrite the following portions in first person as well.
So hear goes.
My name is Yahn Krahad.
I had been many things in my boyhood: a runaway slave, beggar, pickpocket, whore, murderer… you name it. I had been all these things and more, for one reason only: survival. I did what I had to do, those cruel and degrading deeds, to live. From moment to moment, breath to breath, sunrise to sunset... Living on the edge, always afraid of death. I had been a vagabond child.
Had been. I am thankful I can say that. I am what I had been no longer. All the shame, guilt, and fear… I have dealt with them, in time. My past is buried deep within me now, far below the surface of my mind. They are memories; they belong to me, and I to them, but they cannot chain me. Nor the fear I once held for death. Toward death’s hollow space I now harbor reverence. The silver lines dance their everlasting dance in my mind, like an eternal flame, and I know that death is not the lowest point of one’s existence. Only the final signifier; a period. Death can be beautiful; death can be sublime. It is the life that counts. I have not forgotten… the day my master showed me.
I was cornered by three men, the slave-catchers of my former mistress. It was by pure luck that they found me among the labyrinthine slums of Babylon, but luck was all they needed. Shakquilonians, the persistent dog-men of Quaelos. They were incensed, and pursed me relentlessly. Understandably so, for I, a mere human child, had outwitted them twice before. For their wounded pride my capture was no longer a job, but a matter of personal revenge. And so they tracked me down, pursued me, found me, and finally they had me cornered in a dark alley.
Fortunately for me, they could not kill me nor inflict serious damage. As perverse as she had been, my pale-skinned mistress loved me in her own sadistic way. “Set your eyes on another, and I shall pry them out.” She so often told me, after each time she had me. Jealous bitch. She would have wanted me returned whole. I was certain of that when the Shakquilonians came at me with nets and darts, instead of their famed sword-staves.
Not that it gave me much of the chance, though. But I was relieved in knowing that my life would go on. I remember that. Even as I felt the sting of the dart on my neck, I thought about my next escape from my mistress. Just a couple of years in submission…
That’s when my master showed up. A hero from the sun, clad in gold and red, with hairs of yellow platinum. With the sweep of his arm the net thrown over me was incinerated, and then, with a blinding flash, the dog-men were beheaded. His blade was silver poetry, the scarlet globules tracing its immaculate movement. Soaring and falling, together, the instrument of death and fluids of life… I was enthralled by the scent, the echoes of their soft, quick moans. And the empty faces, so devoid of meaning, yet in their emptiness full of life, so, so full… I lost my fear of death then. I was nine.
The poison from the dart had numbed me, but I remember asking him to take my life. It makes me chuckle now, but I longed for death then. I wanted to die by his sword, in that flawless fashion. He laughed, lifted me in his arms. He told me that all forms of death are the same… and asked me to live, learn his arts.
Twelve years passed since that day, the long, lonesome years marked by nothing but learning and training. And today, I shall inherit his sword. Frahghad, the sigil blade of thousand mirrors. The final step. I shall learn to become its master, to unsheathe the blade, to shape my destiny with my own hands. I shall bear the burden. I am ready. My poetry will soar.
My name is Yahn Krahad. If you have not heard it before, you shall, and soon. This is the story about my final days of apprenticeship, under Vaelos the Sunstrider, one of the three Sigil Masters of the whole wide universe.
June 2nd, 2007, 08:01 PM
Well, Elphy, I agree that you've improved it.
It's generally a good idea to limit your use of the past perfect. In this piece, any time you have "had benn", replace it with "was". More assertive that way. Compare: "I had been a vagabond child." < "I was a vagabond child."
"She often told me." is a dialog tag. Treat it as such.
"Hairs of yellow platinum"... How many has he got? Three? Just say "hair" when a respectable body is present and accounted for.
If the net on Yahn was incinerated, wouldn't that be bad for our boy-toy hero?
And you still use "scarlet globules"...
"the instrument of death and the fluids of life"? My God, man, Yahn really is Micah. :P
In the "The poison from the dart[...]" paragraph, you need to put a proper label on that initial "him". It's been long enough that we need to be reminded who you're talking about. "My master" will suffice unless you've got something more flowery and/or contemporary (relative to the story) in mind like "my savior".
"Twelve years have passed[...]" Use the present perfect since you're bringing us into the (relative) now.
"sigil blade of a thousand mirrors" Articles are your friend.
"the whole wide universe" makes me think less of He-Man, but sounds even cornier. Drop the "of the whole wide universe" part. Just saying "the Three Sigil Masters" is enough. No one's going to think they're the Three Sigil Masters of Detroit, as opposed to, say, the Two Sigil Masters of Peoria and the Five Sigil Masters of Albuquerque.
And there you go. If there's a nit, I'm bound to pick it. ^_^ Of course, the real terror of terrors is that this is but a fraction of what I'd do to your pink, quivering manuscript in a proper workshop. ]>:-D>
Power to the J
June 3rd, 2007, 05:51 PM
Way to similar to THE NAME OF THE WIND by Patrick Rothfuss. Sorry but that book is really good, and this just seems like a knock off to me.
June 3rd, 2007, 07:37 PM
Ah, the joys of being well-read. "Nihil novum sub solis" becomes inescapable. Elphy might have to read the dang thing just to make sure his story doesn't trod down the exact same path. I'm sure there's a fork in the road he can take somewhere. ^_^
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