BLOOD WILL TELL, Urban Fantasy, Revised

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Meredith
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BLOOD WILL TELL, Urban Fantasy, Revised

Post by Meredith » July 14th, 2010, 1:25 pm

I've just been through a revision, mostly of the first chapters of this. Here's the first page and a half, or so:

Chapter 1: A Death in the Family

Valeriah hurdled the locked gate and raced on down the path. The cliff-top trail was closed at night for good reason; one misstep could end in a fatal fall to the jagged brown rocks and crashing waves below. Valeriah could see in the dark better than most, thanks to her werewolf blood. She’d have to trust her natural agility to take care of the rest.

The words of the note that had reached her less than an hour ago ran through her mind. Just two sentences in her grandfather’s handwriting, “Come home as soon as you can. I’m dying.” How long had that message taken to reach her? How much or how little time did she have?

Her memories of the old man replayed in her head, starting with the day he’d found her, buried under her own father’s body. That image brought up others that she had never been able to forget, blood spurting from the gash in Mama’s throat, Cullen cut down by another sword stroke, the point of a sword piercing through Daddy’s back. She’d left home to avenge them. She hadn’t meant to stay away this long.

She veered onto a less-used trail heading away from the cliff. At a white-stone marker, Valeriah left that trail and pushed through the thick brush in the back corner of the suburban nature preserve. She ignored the signs instructing her to stay on the marked trail and warning about rattlesnakes. Those signs were mainly there to keep fools away from the portal, anyway. Even if they weren’t, she’d risk her reflexes against a snake’s rather than be too late.

She walked around the two ancient oak trees until she could see the slight shimmer between them. That was the portal. She stepped into it, barely registering the tingling sensation on her skin as she passed through the barrier between the worlds. One more step carried her into Chimeria, in a forest clearing just a hard day’s ride from her grandfather’s tower.

As many times as she had crossed that particular portal, the change still surprised her. In one step, she had gone from brown scrub brush to deep forest, light and shadow filtered through ancient trees. From one breath to the next, the air lost the metallic tang of smog and was now full of the smell of pines and earth.
Last edited by Meredith on July 24th, 2010, 4:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: BLOOD WILL TELL, Urban Fantasy

Post by sbs_mjc1 » July 14th, 2010, 2:30 pm

Valeriah hurdled vaulted over the locked gate and raced on down the path. The cliff-top trail was closed at night for good reason; one misstep could end in a fatal fall to the jagged brown rocks and crashing waves below. Valeriah could see in the dark better than most, thanks to her werewolf blood. She’d have to trust her natural agility to take care of the rest.

The words of the note that had reached her less than an hour ago ran through her mind. Just two sentences in her grandfather’s handwriting, “Come home as soon as you can. I’m dying.” How long had that message taken to reach her? How much or how little time did she have?

Her memories of the old man replayed in her head, starting with the day he’d found her, buried under her own father’s body. That image brought up others that she had never been able to forget: blood spurting from the gash in Mama’s throat. Cullen cut down by another sword stroke. The point of a sword blade piercing through Daddy’s back. She’d left home to avenge them. She hadn’t meant to stay away this long.

She veered onto a less-used trail heading away from the cliff. At a white stone marker, Valeriah left that trail and pushed through the thick brush in the back corner of the suburban nature preserve. She ignored the signs instructing her to stay on the marked trail and warning about rattlesnakes. Those signs were mainly there to keep fools away from the portal, anyway. Even if they weren’t, she’d risk her reflexes against a snake’s rather than be too late.

She walked around the two ancient oak trees until she could see the slight shimmer between them. That was the portal. She stepped into it, barely registering the tingling sensation on her skin as she passed through the barrier between the worlds. One more step carried her into Chimeria, in a forest clearing just a hard day’s ride from her grandfather’s tower.

As many times as she had crossed that particular portal, the change still surprised her. In one step, she had gone from brown scrub brush to deep forest, light and shadow filtered through ancient trees. From one breath to the next, the air lost the metallic tang of smog and was now full of the smell of pines and earth.
***

Reads smoothly so far.
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Re: BLOOD WILL TELL, Urban Fantasy

Post by Meredith » July 14th, 2010, 2:56 pm

sbs_mjc1 wrote:Valeriah hurdled vaulted over the locked gate and raced on down the path. The cliff-top trail was closed at night for good reason; one misstep could end in a fatal fall to the jagged brown rocks and crashing waves below. Valeriah could see in the dark better than most, thanks to her werewolf blood. She’d have to trust her natural agility to take care of the rest.
Thanks. I actually had vaulted in the first draft. But she's going to vault again in a page or two. It's not the sort of verb you want to use quite that often. And this one was easier to change than the other.

I like the change to blade.
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Re: BLOOD WILL TELL, Urban Fantasy

Post by EvelynEhrlich » July 14th, 2010, 11:01 pm

Hi Meredith,
Overall, this is pretty smooth, with a good mix of action and detail to make us feel sympathetic toward MC from the get-go. A few comments below, hope it helps.
Meredith wrote:I've just been through a revision, mostly of the first chapters of this. Here's the first page and a half, or so:

Chapter 1: A Death in the Family

Valeriah hurdled the locked gate and raced on down the path. The cliff-top trail was closed at night for good reason; one misstep could end in a fatal fall to the jagged brown rocks and crashing waves below. ValeriahShe could see in the dark better than most, thanks to her werewolf blood. She’d have to trust her natural agility to take care of the rest. Nice opening. Good action, succinct background to ground the reader.

The words of the note that had reached her less than an hour ago This part reads a bit awkwardly. Can you move it to a separate sentence? ran through her mind. How about this? The words of the note ran through her head. It had reached her less than an hour ago, just Just two sentences in her grandfather’s handwriting, “Come home as soon as you can. I’m dying.” How long had that message taken to reach her? How much or how little time did she have?

Her memories of the old man "old man" feels impersonal. I understand you're trying not to repeat the word "grandfather" too close to your last use of it. Does she have a nickname for her grandfather that you can use instead? replayed in her head, starting with the day he’d found her, buried under her own father’s body. That image brought up others that she had never been able to forget, blood spurting from the gash in Mama’s throat, Cullen Sorry, but the name "Cullen" in conjunction with the werewolf reference in the first line made me think I was reading a Twilight spin-off, which I don't think is your intent. Assuming you're going to keep the name, maybe don't introduce it here, so close to the initial werewolf reference and without more context/detail about Cullen? cut down by another sword stroke, the point of a swordblade piercing through Daddy’s "Daddy" is suddenly very personal, which feels a little strange (and like a different voice) after you called him "her own father" in the previous sentence back. She’d left home to avenge them. She hadn’t meant to stay away this long.

She veered onto a less-used the rhythm of "less-used" feels awkward. how about neglected, abandoned or deserted? trail heading away from the cliff. At a white-stone marker, Valeriah left that trailpath and pushed through the thick brush in the back corner of the suburbannature preserve.I got a little confused by the setting here. I imagined something wild and dangerous with the jagged, coastline imagery of the first paragraph, and even here, with the neglected trail. But then the word "suburban" threw me for a loop because it feels too tame. She ignored the signs instructing her to stay on the marked trail and warning about rattlesnakes. Those signs were mainlythere to keep fools away from the portal, anyway. Even if they weren’t, she’d risk her reflexes against a snake’s rather than be too late.

She walked around the two ancient oak trees until she could see the slight shimmer between them. That was the portal. She stepped into it, barely registering the tingling sensation on her skin Good incorporation of the touch/feel sense as she passed through the barrier between the worlds. One more step carried her into Chimeria, in a forest clearing just a hard day’s ride from her grandfather’s tower.

As many times as she had crossed that particular portal, the change still surprised her. In one step, she had gonewentfrom brown scrub brush to deep forest, light and shadow filtered through ancient trees.Like this description. I just changed from past perfect to plain old past tense, to keep the pace moving forward From one breath to the next, the air lost the metallic tang of smog and was now full of filled with the smell of pines and earth.

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Re: BLOOD WILL TELL, Urban Fantasy

Post by Meredith » July 14th, 2010, 11:59 pm

Thanks. Some very good suggestions.

I've avoided reading Twilight, so Cullen didn't have that resonance for me. Well, names are easy to change and, since he's dead, he doesn't appear in the story much.

Cullen just became Conall.
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Re: BLOOD WILL TELL, Urban Fantasy

Post by EvelynEhrlich » July 15th, 2010, 1:11 am

Glad you weren't too heartbroken over changing Cullen's name. You've probably figured it out by now, but "Cullen" is Edward (the star vampire)'s last name. The Twilight craze shot the name Cullen to the top of the Baby Boy name list this year.

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Re: BLOOD WILL TELL, Urban Fantasy

Post by WilliamMJones » July 15th, 2010, 1:48 am

Meredith wrote:I've just been through a revision, mostly of the first chapters of this. Here's the first page and a half, or so:

Chapter 1: A Death in the Family

Valeriah hurdled I agree this word could be changed. Maybe leapt over, or bounded over? the locked gate and raced on down the path. The cliff-top trail was closed at night for good reason; one misstep could end in a fatal fall to the jagged brown rocks and crashing waves below. Valeriah could see in the dark better than most, thanks to her werewolf blood. She’d have to trust her natural agility to take care of the rest.

The words of the note that had reached her less than an hour ago ran through her mind. Just two sentences in her grandfather’s handwriting, Maybe: The note had reached her less than an hour ago. It's message, just two sentences in her grandfather’s handwriting, ran through her mind. “Come home as soon as you can. I’m dying.” How long had that message taken to reach her? How much or how little time did she have?

Her memories of the old man replayed in her head, starting with the day he’d found her, buried under her own father’s body. That image brought up others that she had never been able to forget, I think a colon or semi-colon would be better here blood spurting from the gash in Mama’s throat, Cullen cut down by another sword stroke, the point of a sword piercing through Daddy’s back. She’d left home to avenge them. She hadn’t meant to stay away this long.

She veered onto a less-used trail heading away from the cliff. At a white-stone marker, Valeriah left that trail and pushed through the thick brush in the back corner of the suburban nature preserve. She ignored the signs instructing her to stay on the marked trail and warning about rattlesnakes. Those signs were mainly there to keep fools away from the portal, anyway.fools, or normal humans? Even if they weren’t, she’d risk her reflexes against a snake’s rather than be too late.

She walked around the two ancient oak trees After running through dangerous mountain trails, it seems strange for her to slow down now until she could see the slight shimmer between them. That was the portal. She stepped into it, barely registering the tingling sensation on her skin as she passed through the barrier between the worlds. One more step carried her into Chimeria, in a forest clearing just a hard day’s ride from her grandfather’s tower.

As many times as she had crossed that particular portal, the change still surprised her. In one step, she had gone from brown scrub brush to deep forest, light and shadow filtered through ancient trees. From one breath to the next, the air lost the metallic tang of smog and was now full of the smell of pines and earth.
Last edited by WilliamMJones on July 15th, 2010, 3:32 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: BLOOD WILL TELL, Urban Fantasy

Post by OneChoice1 » July 15th, 2010, 3:29 am

Meredith wrote:I've just been through a revision, mostly of the first chapters of this. Here's the first page and a half, or so:

Chapter 1: A Death in the Family

Valeriah hurdled [I second, third, whatever. I agree you should replace "hurdled." But how you have it now, shouldn't it be: hurdled through?] the locked gate and raced on down the path. The cliff-top trail was closed at night for good reason; one misstep could end in a fatal fall to the jagged brown rocks and crashing waves below. Valeriah could see in the dark better than most, thanks to her werewolf blood. [This is good, but I think the sentence could be even bolder.] She’d have to trust her natural agility to take care of the rest.



The words of the note that had reached her less than an hour ago ran [Choose a stronger verb than "ran."] through her mind. Just two sentences in her grandfather’s handwriting, “Come home as soon as you can. I’m dying.” How long had that message taken to reach her? How much or how little time did she have?

Consider for the paragraph above:
Her grandfather's note [insert synonym for "ran"] through her mind. It had reached her less than an hour ago. "Come home as soon as you can. I'm dying." How long had that message taken to reach her? How much or how little time did she have?




[insert some kind of action, like: Air wasn't concerned with filling her lungs while her mind replayed] the day the old man had found her, buried beneath her own dad’s body. The image changed in haste to one of blood spurting from a gash in Mama’s throat, Cullen {Who's Cullen or Conall to Valeriah? You have personal names like "Mama" and "Daddy," so "Conall" sticks out oddly.} being cut down by another sword stroke, and the same blade piercing through Daddy's back. Valeriah had left home to avenge them. She never meant to stay away for so long.


The cliff was ahead. Valeriah veered onto a less-used [I think there could be a feistier adjective.] trail. At a white-stone marker, she left that trail and pushed through the thick brush in the back corner of the suburban nature preserve. [Reads wordy. Can you chop it down?] She ignored the signs instructing her to stay on the marked path and the warnings about rattlesnakes. Those signs were mainly there to keep fools away from the portal, anyway. Even if they weren’t, she’d risk her reflexes against a snake’s rather than be too late.


She walked around the two ancient oak trees until she could see the slight shimmer between them. The portal. She stepped into it, barely registering the tingling sensation on her skin as she passed through the barrier between the worlds. One more step carried her into Chimeria, in a forest clearing just a hard day’s ride from her grandfather’s tower.


As many times as she had crossed that particular portal, the change still surprised her. In one step, she had gone from brown scrub brush to deep forest, light and shadow filtered through ancient trees. From one breath to the next, the air lost the metallic tang of smog and was now full of the smell of pines and earth.

A good start of your story, introduction of your MC, and presentation of immediate conflicts. Hope my suggestions and such helped, and could give you ideas.
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Re: BLOOD WILL TELL, Urban Fantasy

Post by gsfields2004 » July 15th, 2010, 11:52 am

Meredith,

Good opening scene, it caught my attention and made me want to read more. Just a couple suggestions.

- I wouldn't come out and tell the reader that Valeriah is a werewolf. I think it would be more engaging for the reader to figure it out by reading descriptions of her greater-than-human abilities (i.e. vaulting over the [five foot] gate, describe to the reader how she sees her surroundings in the dark, etc) and describing parts of her physical make (e.g. as she tore through the hedge, she felt the pain of fur being ripped from her side). As you can tell, I'm a fan of the "show don't tell" philosophy.

- I think the second paragraph is probably the most important in this excerpt because it provides the reason for the run and the urgency. I think it shoudl be a short but powerful driving force. It's almost there, but I would suggest something like the following:

The words of the note still echoed in her mind, “Come home. I’m dying.” How long had that message taken to reach her?

Other than that, I think the suggestions OneChoice1 offered were pretty solid. Hope your find this helpful.

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Re: BLOOD WILL TELL, Urban Fantasy

Post by RebeccaB » July 17th, 2010, 5:24 am

Chapter 1: A Death in the Family

Valeriah hurdled the locked gate and raced on down the path. Dirt? Grass? Pebbled? Sand? Cobble stone? What type of path? The cliff-top trail was closed at night for good reason; one misstep could end in a fatal fall to the jagged brown rocks and crashing wavesbelow.Don't think you need waves, as they would not cause the fatality. Valeriah could see in the dark better than most, thanks to her werewolf blood. She’d have to trust her natural agility to take care of the rest. Wouldn't her natural agility also be a result of the werewolf blood? So it would really be her unnatural agility.

The words of the note that had reached her less than an hour ago ran through her mind. Just two sentences in her grandfather’s handwriting, “Come home as soon as you can. I’m dying.” How long had that message taken to reach her? How much or how little time did she have? Love this, it's clear, and to the point. It entices me to read on. I want to know who her grandfather is, why he is dying and i am at the same time hoping she gets to him in time.

Her memories of the old man replayed in her head, starting with the day he’d found her, buried under her own father’s body. That image brought up others that she had never been able to forget, blood spurting from the gash in Mama’s throat, Cullen cut down by another sword stroke, Who is Cullen? Is it a brother or sister or pet? Is this little bit even needed at this point? the point of a sword piercing through Daddy’s back. She’d left home to avenge them. She hadn’t meant to stay away this long.

She veered onto a less-used trail heading away from the cliff. I really want to get an idea of where she is, but i have no clue, there is a cliff, but is it covered in brush? does she have to duck under branches? How is this one noticeably less used? has the grass grown thick over the soil? I need more 'Show'. At a white-stone marker, Valeriah left that trail and pushed through the thick brush in the back corner of the suburban nature preserve. She ignored the signs instructing her to stay on the marked trail and warning about rattlesnakes. Those signs were mainly there to keep fools away from the portal,WOW, BAM, Love it! anyway. Even if they weren’t, she’d risk wager her reflexes against a snake’s rather than be too late.

She walked around the two ancient oak trees until she could see the slight shimmer between them. That was the portal. She stepped into it, barely registering the tingling sensation on her skin as she passed through the barrier between the worlds. One more step carried her into Chimeria, in a forest clearing just a hard day’s ride from her grandfather’s tower.
I don't know what it is in particular about this one that makes me re-read to understand it. I get that the trees are the portal, and that she walks through, but i think this could be more, If it had more 'Show' i would be able to see exactly what she is doing.

As many times as she had crossed that particular portal, the change still surprised her. In one step, she had gone from brown scrub brush to deep forest, light and shadow filtered through ancient trees. From one breath to the next, the air lost the metallic tang of smog and was now full of the smell of pines and earth.
This sentence seems muddled. Maybe reword. I think you could blend aspects of this and the last paragraph together to make one really well written one. Putting the description of where she is before she passes and then a clear one of what she sees in the step between the world, following with an again clear description of where she ends up.

I really enjoyed reading this. I would love to read more, I still want to know if she gets to her grandfather in time and why he is dying. I hope my notes help in some way.

Happy Inking
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Re: BLOOD WILL TELL, Urban Fantasy, Revised

Post by Meredith » July 24th, 2010, 5:03 pm

Took me a while to get back to this. I've been working on my new WIP (a young adult fantasy) and running a synopsis challenge on another forum.

For those that are confused as to place, I'm having a little difficulty with what more detail I could give without sacrificing the action. This is patterned after a real place in the real world. It's part of a suburban park (I took that part out, for now) in a wealthy community. The community and the park are set on top of a peninsula above the Pacific Ocean. It's a steep drop from the top of the peninsula to the ocean and people do fall off and get themselves killed. The upper part of the park is what you'd expect of a park, but the lower part is kept as a nature preserve, which, in this location, would be mainly coastal sage scrub, with a few exotics escaped from neighboring gardens. (Even the oak tress really don't belong here, but they were planted on purpose by those who made the portal.)

Here's the revision. I tried to incorporate most of the suggestions, if not always in the way suggested.

Valeriah launched herself over the locked gate and raced on down the dirt path. The cliff-top trail was closed at night for good reason; one misstep could end in a fatal fall to the jagged rocks and crashing waves below. Even on a moonless night, Valeriah could see in the dark; her werewolf blood was good for that much.

The words of the note that had reached her less than an hour ago repeated through her mind with each step. Just two sentences in her grandfather’s handwriting, “Come home as soon as you can. I’m dying.” How long had that message taken to reach her? How much or how little time did she have?

Her memories of the old man replayed in her head even as she ran, starting with the day he’d found her, buried under her own father’s body. That image brought up others that she had never been able to forget: blood spurting from the gash in Mama’s throat, Conall cut down by another sword stroke, the point of a blade piercing through Daddy’s back. Valeriah had left home to avenge them. She’d never intended to stay away this long.

She veered onto a less-used trail heading away from the cliff and up the scrubby hillside. Valeriah left that path and pushed through the thick brush to get to the twin oaks at the back of the nature preserve. She ignored the signs instructing her to stay on the marked trail and warning about rattlesnakes. Those signs were mainly there to keep fools away from the portal, anyway. Even if they weren’t, she’d risk her reflexes against a snake’s rather than be too late.

She walked around the two ancient oak trees until she could see the slight shimmer between them. That was the portal. She stepped into it, barely registering the tingling sensation on her skin as she passed through the barrier between the worlds. One more step carried her into Chimeria, in a forest clearing just a hard day’s ride from her grandfather’s tower.
As many times as she had crossed that particular portal, the change still surprised her. In one step, she went from brown scrub brush to deep forest, light and shadow filtered through ancient trees. From one breath to the next, the air lost the metallic tang of smog and filled with the smell of pines and earth.
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