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Messages - Liselle

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Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
« on: September 07, 2014, 12:24:33 AM »
"On those cloudy days, Robert Neville was never sure when sunset came, and sometimes they were in the streets before he could get back."

From I Am Legend by Richard Matheson. Nice and sinister :)

It's all good Scarlet :D And Ryan I hadn't thought about expanding on it. Now that you mention it though it could be fun to do another theme at some stage based on the same characters. I'll certainly think about it.

Hi ScarletBea, thanks for the feedback. I do realize it was just one opinion but I agreed those sentences could be shortened a bit. Each to their own really :) I can understand why sentences that are too short would be off putting as well. I tend to like them in scenes with high tension, otherwise they do come across as a bit strange.

As for what this thread should be used for, I think that anyone should be free to critique in whatever way occurs to them. Like for me, if I'm giving feedback, it depends on what area I think could use the most attention in a story to make it stronger. That said I could remark on anything from theme to character to grammar or whatever else. I think there's a lesson in anything constructive that someone else has to say about your work, no matter what angle they approach it from.

But really when it comes to critique I just love the idea of writers feeling comfortable enough to discuss their work with each other and share advice, that's what's most important to me. I've always found it to be such an encouraging way to learn. :D

Thanks so much Ryan! I appreciate all the effort. That all made a lot of sense to me, I'd agree with most everything you said, some of the sentences were too long. I like the picky critiques too, they're always helpful :)

Oh yes! I keep forgetting to add that. @graphicality is my twitter.

Oh yay I'm delighted ;D Thanks so much everyone, I'm glad you enjoyed it. There were some great entries this month as always.

Hi Ryan, I'll have a go at giving you some feedback. On the whole I really liked the moody atmosphere you were going for here! There wasn't a lot of detail to the setting or characters which gave them a nice mysterious quality. All I could see of the slave boy in my head were his bright blue eyes, while everything else about him was hazy, which was a cool effect. I know it can be like walking a tight rope when writing like this though, in trying to decide how much to detail to add or to leave out. I'd suggest the mystery was taken too far at times in this story. Sometimes I found myself having to read a sentence several times to understand what happened. Taking the first paragraph for example:

In my twelfth summer the soldiers came.  Father died with sword in hand, the screams of mother and sister in the air.  Screaming still when the swords turned to me.  In my twelfth summer the unbridled power of fire magic came to me.  There is only scorched earth and ashes where my village once stood.

I had to stop straight away to figure out whose mother or sister, the father's or the narrator's. I assumed the narrator's but including the word "my" would have saved me the confusion.

Starting the next sentence with "screaming still" caused me to stumble over it. I had to keep reading to figure it out. I'd suggest replacing with "They were still screaming when the swords turned to me."

 "In my twelfth summer" came next but that had already been said only a line ago so I didn't think it was necessary.

The last sentence is an unexpected switch from past to present tense which also threw me off course. Even including the words "now" or "today" to describe the present destruction of the village would have helped the transition.

On the whole it was sentence structure that I found the biggest challenge when reading through the story. It seems to me like it was the type of character voice you were using that caused this trouble, aka the mystery man. ;) Might just be something to keep in mind for future writing. Hope this helps.

I know there is no truth, only that which a man holds to be true.
This was my favourite line. So true. Or is it...? :o

PPS: I'd be very happy for you to critique mine too if you have the time/interest :)

Phew, just about got this one in. 1497 words entitled A Place to Belong. Some bad language in this one in case that bothers anyone. Hope you enjoy!

Spoiler for Hiden:
A thunderous snoring came from the clearing ahead. The outlaws were asleep. Senwyn darted from shadow to shadow, approaching the embers of their campfire. The girl peered around a tree that shielded her from the camp's view. A man was sleeping nearby. She scanned him from bedraggled hair to boot tip, searching for something she could steal. A glint of gold at his waist caught her eye -- the hilt of a dirk worth far more than the meagre coppers its scabbard might fetch. Senwyn slid down the bark of the tree and reached for the blade. A hand shot up and grabbed her wrist. The outlaw, who had appeared to be sleeping, but was now very much awake, sat up like a startled mastiff and bared his teeth in a snarl.

"Oww," Senwyn cried as he pulled her into the light of the fire. A blonde woman across the camp took aim with a pre-loaded crossbow. She tilted a bottle to her lips with her other hand as she stared down the weapon's bolt at Senwyn.

"Don't you try that with me ya greedy little shit," the man growled, twisting Senwyn's arm. "I'll fry those grubby fingers of yours for breakfast."

"Let me go!" Senwyn swung a punch at the man's jaw. Her knuckles glanced off his chin when he pulled back his head. Anger flared on his face as they locked eyes. The man then bellowed a laugh, causing her fierce look to fade into bewilderment. The blonde woman seemed to take this as a cue to relax. She lowered her crossbow and smirked, tilting back the bottle in her hand for another long draft. Everyone in the camp was awake now and staring at Senwyn, even the older woman, who'd been the source of such violent snoring. She was yawning, her bored eyes questioning why a dirty little waif like Senwyn was worth all of this fuss.

"Hey Pride! I got your new Greed right here," Senwyn's captor shouted.

A soft voice answered from across the clearing, from a dark figure seated beneath a tree. "She's not greedy Wrath. Look at her. She's filthy and malnourished. The girl's just desperate for something to sell. Get rid of her."

The man holding Senwyn shrugged and reached for the golden dirk at his belt.

"No!" Senwyn shouted, naturally eager to deny any opinion that might cause her to become very dead. "You're wrong. I am greedy. I'm so greedy I'm... I'm obsessed with stealing! I want all your gold and your horses, I want your nice warm fire and all your food and your clothes. I would have been able to steal them all too if I wasn--"

"So desperate?" The soft voice interrupted. Senwyn paled and glanced around for an escape route. The blonde woman popped the cork on another bottle. She crouched beside a grizzled veteran of a mercenary and wound an arm around his neck. He grabbed for the bottle and she playfully pulled it away. The figure beneath the tree leaned forward so moonlight fell across his face. Senwyn looked back at him. His features were dark and fine, his hair carefully trimmed, his jaw clean shaven. He looked like more of a nobleman than an outlaw. "What's your name?" He asked her.

"Greed," she answered firmly. She pulled her arm away from Wrath. He let her go. "So they call you Pride?"

"They do. They have familial privilege. You don't. But if you have it in mind to prove yourself..." He waved a hand as he leaned back into the darkness. "We ride for the city of Gamenze at first light."

Senwyn glanced back down the alley to where Envy kept watch for her across the street. The others were off on their own missions around the city. A window was ajar on the second story of the mansion she'd chosen to raid. Senwyn clambered up a stack of firewood and pulled herself through the gap. She entered a long hallway lined with closed doors that were probably bedrooms. Downstairs seemed like the safest place to start.

The girl edged along the hall, flitting through the squares of moonlight on the floor that fell through the window panes. There were portraits between the doors on the opposite wall. She stopped to look at one. It was a family arranged around a divan, three children seated on the cushions with a man and a woman that looked like parent figures standing behind them. A pointer lay on the rug with a litter of pups playing around her. Everyone in the painting was neat and beautiful and smiling, everything that Senwyn wasn't. The picture was too perfect, no family could be that perfect, but they looked like they belonged to each other. The perfect set.

Senwyn crept downstairs, wincing at every creak in the old timbers that wouldn't stop groaning over how heavy she was, despite how lightly she tread on them. She pulled out a sack when she reached the ground level and made straight for a chest of drawers in the hallway. Everything that looked at least semi-valuable, she threw inside: a clasped book with gilt pages, a delph figurine, gold rimmed spectacles, a pocket watch, a cigarette case, some silver coin-- She heard a creak upstairs and her heart backflipped into her throat. The girl pressed herself into the long shadow cast by the chest and waited. The house was quiet. She waited several seconds longer before glancing around for her next room. Her sack was only a quarter full. She couldn't leave yet.

There was a door ajar at the end of the hall that she hoped would lead to the kitchen. That's where all the food would be. She moved towards it but stopped when she smelled smoke. In the murky light she could just make out its movement as it oozed through the gap in the doorway like a ghost. Senwyn stood there, frozen with panic, as the outline of the door ahead was framed by an orange glow. A tongue of flame whooshed through, licking at the clean air of a hallway filled with the promise of flammable things – including her.

Senwyn backed towards the stairs then spun around as someone screamed above her. The upstairs hallway was glowing with the same hellish light. Raised voices tight with panic called from one room to the next and the thump of running feet shook the ceiling overhead. The thief turned back to the kitchen. The fire beckoned to her, daring her to approach. She ran towards it.

Envy was the last of the outlaws to join the others in the forest.

"Where's the girl?" Pride asked, strapping his new rapier belt around his waist.

Envy said nothing. He looked at Wrath.

Gluttony snorted from where she sat on her horse, raking a hand through her loose blonde curls. "Let me guess. Envy had his jealous ass bitch slapped into doing something stupid again."

Envy's mouth dropped open. He pointed at Wrath. "It's his fault. He was still angry with her for trying to steal his knife. I was just doing him a favor."

"By killing her?" Lust asked, lofting a bushy eyebrow.

"Nooo... I just... Set a little fire in the house she was looting. She seemed like a plucky sort of girl. I'm sure she's fine."

Pride rolled his eyes as bells started to sound from the city walls. The glow of fire kissed the sky above the battlements of Gamenze. "Come on," he said, swinging himself up into the saddle. "Let's go." The others were mounting to follow his lead when a small figure stumbled through the trees, half supported by Sloth, whose mouth was pinched as if she'd been sucking on a lemon.

"Found this poor creature limping through the trees," she said. "Trying to catch up to us before we left."

Pride looked down at Senwyn as Sloth lead her into the clearing. The girl's expression was a mirror image of his own, despite the fresh burns that marred her body. Pieces of her clothing that hadn't been scorched away were melted into her skin down her right arm and leg. She held a bulging sack in her left hand. "This is my loot." The girl dropped it onto the ground. Wheels of cheese, grapes, flatbreads and nets of dried meat rolled out onto the grass. "That's my horse." She pointed at the brown mare that she'd ridden to Gamenze earlier that day. "And there's a place for me in this family, so I'm taking it."

Pride matched Senwyn's stubborn frown with his own. They gazed at each other in silence.

"Sounds like you might want my place as well," Pride eventually said.

Senwyn paled, opened her mouth, then closed it again. She decided to say nothing. Pride smirked and turned his horse for the forest trail.

"I like you better when you're speechless. Come on. Let's find you a healer."

Ha I love this theme! I'll be tempted to write about all seven but that's a lot to handle, we'll see how it goes. Maybe there's a way I can feature them all in a bite-sized manner.

Can I request a critique thread for Taboos xiagan now that the results are out? Anybody who wants a little feedback on their work from last month I'd be happy to give from a readers perspective! I'll throw my own story into the ring as well. :)

[Jun 2014] - Taboos / Re: [June 2014] - Taboo - Voting Thread
« on: August 02, 2014, 02:46:27 PM »
Well done Elfy! :)

Finally got my entry in, last minute as usual. :D I have so many abandoned drafts and was never fully happy with the idea but I'm glad I got it done. Now I can enjoy having a read of the other entries. Good luck everyone!

Here's my submission! 1489 words, hope you enjoy :)

A Dangerous Talent

Caralyn's brow creased with worry as she watched her granddaughter. The child was crouching over a pile of pebbles that she'd gathered outside, arranging them to her liking on the floor of the cottage. If it had been any other task, Caralyn might have smiled at the girl's diligence, but her heart clenched with dread when she imagined what might come of this strange errand. Elli giggled, as if the pebbles had shared a joke that only she could understand. The sound brought a small measure of comfort to the old woman. Laughter was as rare as birdsong on the wind-torn hills that circled the waters of Mortannum's Isle. It was best enjoyed in secret behind closed doors. In these dark days, even a child of Elli's age wasn't too young to sense that happiness was a fragile treasure, easily shattered if it fell into the wrong hands.

"Are you watching grandma?" Elli was saying. "You'll miss it if you don't pay attention." Caralyn realized she'd been staring out the window, keeping an eye on the village road for signs of the militia. The patrols arrived with little warning at any time of day. The soldiers hoped to catch dissenters unawares so they could march them to the village square and make an example of them. If Elli showed the potential that Caralyn was afraid of in the next few minutes, it would make their home more vulnerable to a raid and a whole host of other difficulties would be soon to follow. All she could do was hope that the ten-year-old's imagination was more vivid than she'd come to expect. "I'm watching my love," Caralyn said and sat down beside Elli. She rested a gnarled hand on the girl's shoulder. "Show me."

Elli drew a breath and looked at the stones that she'd arranged in concentric circles on the ground. "This is how you've got to do it," she murmured. "So all the light gets caught inside the circles and can't leak out. It goes in here, see?" The girl pointed to the empty space at the heart of the circles, then pressed her finger onto the packed earth of the floor and held it there. Caralyn watched Elli, offering a silent prayer to all the gods that nothing would come of this experiment. "What are you doing?" She whispered to the girl when the silence grew too heavy to bear. Elli didn't answer her. They sat quietly for several seconds more. Caralyn was about to speak again when her voice hitched on a gasp. Elli's hand had started to glow with pale light. Caralyn stared in horror. "Oh Elli," She despaired. "Not you too..." But the child didn't hear her, she was so intent on her task. The channels between the circles were flooding with light as it flowed from the girl's fingertip. The light was anima -- Caralyn was certain of it. She'd seen it before, many years ago, channeled by Elli's mother in a similar way. The pebbles trembled with its influence then jostled together as if commanded by a magnetic force, absorbing the light that Elli had given them. A tiny stone figure stood where the circles had been, turning an eyeless face towards its maker.

Caralyn clasped a hand over her mouth. Elli looked at her, her face shining with pride. Then, seeing her grandmother's fear, she dropped her smile and slanted her brows with worry. "He won't hurt anyone grandma," she said quickly. "He's a good pebblekin. He won't do anything bad unless I tell him to."

Caralyn pursed her lips as she looked at her granddaughter. There was no denying the fact that the girl was an animancer -- the evidence was as clear as a fresh mountain spring, much as she longed to believe it wasn't true. When Elli had told her that she could bring stone to life, Caralyn had hoped it was only childs' play. The curse of animancy was rare and didn't always run in the same family. But as she spoke more often about playing with her creations, Caralyn had grown more worried. She'd asked Elli to show her. Now it was only a matter of time before Queen Saneeth sensed the new animancer and ordered the militia to bring her to the island. They would force the girl into the service of the Black Legion. In a few short years she would be animating bigger and darker creatures than this pebblekin, channelling her essence into them until she had none left inside her to stay alive. Caralyn couldn't bear to think of the end that would await her then.

"Elli love," she said urgently. She gripped her granddaughter's hand and braved a smile. "This is a beautiful but very dangerous talent. The queen will learn about you soon. No budding animancer escapes her notice, especially not this close to her island."

"What will I do?" Elli asked. "Should I stop using it?"

"I don't think you can, love. It's not safe to hold the anima inside you. You must release it, a little every day, or it will do you harm."

"Then I have to keep it secret, don't I?"

Caralyn nodded. Neither of them mentioned Elli's mother as the child felt the full weight of her burden for the first time. Her eyes dropped to her lap and she screwed up the folds of her dress in her fists. "I'm scared grandma."

Caralyn wrapped her arms around her. "Shhh now. I'm here. And besides that, I have an idea. I think you should teach me to be an animancer too."

Elli sensed her grandmother's fear and tightened her hold around the old woman. "But I don't want to be an animancer," she sighed. "I thought you didn't like them grandma. I thought they did bad things."

"Not all of them, my love. You'll be different." Caralyn leaned back to look down at her granddaughter. "We just have to make sure that we stay together, okay? That's what's most important now. The queen will want you to join her legion when she senses your power."

The girl's eyes flew wide open. "No. No I'm not going! I want to stay with you!"

"I know Elli. That's why you have to teach me, so that I can help to protect you." Caralyn looked down at the motionless pebblekin. It stared up at them without a hint of compassion or intelligence. From afar, Caralyn had seen the great mountainkin standing like that in the war camps of the Black Legion. That's what they looked like when they were waiting for a command from their makers. Caralyn had never developed an ability to channel anima or command any variety of stonekin. Maybe if she'd taken the initiative to learn all those years ago, Elli would still have a mother to this day. "If you teach me animancy, and the militia do come to take you, you won't be alone. They will have use for me as well and we can keep each other safe. We'll do this together my love and you can be my teacher for a change. Now how does that sound?"

Elli reflected on this. "I think you'll like learning it grandma," she eventually said. "If it's a secret that's just for us. Watch what I can get him to do!" Ellie looked at the pebblekin then pointed to a vase of rushes and wildflowers that stood on the hearth. "Go get a flower from the vase and give it to grandma." Caralyn watched as the pebblekin turned and pulled itself up onto the hearth. It strutted towards the vase and plucked the lowest hanging blossom, as instructed. The stone figure turned after that to approach Caralyn, its pebble feet clicking like a dog's claws as it marched across the hearth. It offered the flower to Caralyn but the old woman didn't take it. She looked at Elli. "Will he crush it if you ask him to?"

Elli looked unhappy at the suggestion. "Yes... But I don't want to."

"You have to be able to give him orders like that, Elli. So you can protect yourself if the militia come to take you."

"But I don't want to be like that!"


"No! And I won't teach you either if you try to make me!" The girl jumped to her feet and ran to her bedroom. Caralyn heard her door closing down the hall. She looked back at the pebblekin that was standing on the hearth. "Maybe she won't give you the command to kill," she whispered to it. "But I will learn to. I'll give it a thousand times over if that's what it takes to keep her safe." The pebblekin said nothing and stayed as still as the statue that it was. All it did was stare at her with it's sightless face, the flower held out to her in its tiny hand.

So true Elfy, even better when they're not I think. I'm not any closer to an idea yet. More random staring off into space needed, that usually helps.

I'll give this one a go Carter. I remember enjoying the interpretation of the theme, using death as a portal to other places. I'm assuming the disappearance of Dylan's tattoos was like a count down of all the places that he had to die before his final death? I think that idea was the best part of the story and I'd love to have learned more about it... Like that's what I noticed most when I finished reading it. I'm not sure that total mystery is a helpful thing in this case. I felt like I needed more insight on what was happening to appreciate what the story was saying about life and death. Since Dylan's a cold blooded killer and not easy to relate to, I found the story concept more appealing than the character. Maybe the conversation between the two hunters could have been more revealing in this way? Giving us a better idea of what was going on.

Otherwise I really like your writing, I would just suggest it could be tightened up a bit? Like saying he needed to escape twice in the same sentence:

They ignored him as he shouted and struggled, desperate to get free, to get away. 


He had to run, to flee.

And I really liked the description in this paragraph, some nice showing instead of telling, which is always a good thing :)

A whistle in the air preceded another punch in his back. Tentative hands sought out the source of agony and found a wooden shaft sticking out of his flesh. Breath came in ragged gulps, each lungful uncomfortable and far from satisfying. 

Hope this was of some help!

Well done ladygreen, pretty imagery in your story, I really liked it.

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