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Red_Venus
May 14th, 2012, 11:06 PM
I am writing this book like most producers film, in a random out-of-order sequence. I am dong this mainly because I have the whole plot in my head but I am struggling to find a section that inspires my creative juices, and so far nothing is humming yet. This is about Chapter 8 or 9 so you may be confused with context...take it as you will. Thanks.

venus

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From her seat aboard the train, Shayla watched the countryside slip past. The sloping, green foothills were eaten away by snow-laden evergreens and transformed into steep mountains that rose into gray, shapeless clouds. She could almost feel the wet chill of those clouds on her skin. The nervous, unexplained tingle in her stomach tightened into a tiny ball. Her fingertips and toes grew warm. A glance at her sisters told her that they were feeling the same apprehension.

Shayla looked at Theron. He was seated to her right, his leg extended out into the aisle. He was looking past her, out the window. The scar on his cheek was more pronounced because of the stern set of his jaw. She wondered what was going through his mind. Those grayish black eyes of his narrowed and then shifted to her face. She blinked and looked away, feeling annoyed he’d caught her staring at him.

The hard pit in her stomach jumped as the train clattered across a particularly rough patch of track.

“You feel it too.” His voice was low, but there was no question in his tone. Startled, she looked up at him. Theron was not looking at her. She followed his gaze.

“What?” she whispered. Now the pit in her stomach began to burn. Her fingers did too. She dug them into her skirt and felt them warming her thighs through the layers of fabric.
The heat trickled up her hands and into her wrists now. “What?!” she asked again when he did not answer.

He clenched his teeth, making the ridge of his jaw flex. “They are here now.”

For all her years spent hunting, Shayla had never felt anything like the tremor that grabbed her stomach. It was excitement, but there was some other emotion there also. One she did not recognize. Is this what fear feels like?

She glanced at Mara. Her sister had never looked so depleted and, well, completely mortal, before. The warlock had taken most of her. Perhaps, this was the source of Shayla’s new feeling of fear. Never had the three of them been broken…never had they been made to grapple with the possibility that one, or all, of them could be weakened. Or killed. The thought of such a possibility shook her and the knot in her core grew tighter still.

“There!” Theron’s hand shot past her face, his forefinger extended.

Shayla looked out the window. The shadow of the train ran along the brilliant snow-covered ground, and on top of it, three moving shadows wended their way atop the car. They had long snouts. Shayla could visualize the teeth. She knew they were searching for a scent. For their scent. One of the shadows stopped, rose on its back legs, and turned toward the train car to the front of them.

Then there was a howl. It was almost imperceptible over the clanking of the train and the chatter of the oblivious passengers, but Shayla knew the sound too well. She glanced at her sisters. Vincent pulled Mara closer, his large hand dwarfing her sister’s tiny shoulder. Her small face was pale, her lips pinched tight. She knew the Werebryne would find her soon.

Shayla’s first thought was that she needed to protect her sister. Her second was that she would need Theron’s help. This latter idea was not welcome. In fact, it chaffed her nerves.
But, her sister’s safety was more important to Shayla’s pride at the moment. So, she turned to Theron. His empty seat and the sight of his back disappearing through the door at the end of the train car greeted her gaze.

She turned to Vincent and Selle. “Look after her!” she ordered.

Selle started to protest, but Vincent spoke over her. “We will take care of her. Be careful yourself,” he murmured. “Don’t let Theron out of your sight. He will protect you.”

Shayla wanted so badly to tell him that she needed no help from the likes of Theron Merrick, but stopped herself. The truth was she did. So she clamped her mouth shut and took off in the direction that he’d gone. She already knew he was headed to Absalom. All of his weapons were with his horse. Well, all but one.

Cold air washed her face as she opened the door and stepped out onto the back platform. The rumble of the train was much louder out here with no floor boards and walls to muffle the sound of steel on steel. She lifted her gaze upward just in time to see the last of Theron’s leg as he climbed to the roof of the adjoining car.

She reached out and grabbed the ladder. The metal felt like pure ice beneath her burning hands. She was unmindful of the charred marks her grip left on the reddish orange paint of each rung. Instead, she cursed under her breath as her skirt caught on her left shoe heel. If only she’d followed her first inclination and dressed for the trail this morning!

Yanking the skirt free, she felt it tear. But she kept climbing, urgent to reach Theron before the beasts found her sister. A bitter wind ripped her hair free from the knot at her neck and slapped thick strands of it across her face. It stung her eyes and obstructed her vision. She managed to get one leg over the top and then the other, even though the dress proved a hindrance the entire process.

She was about to move into a crouching position when a hand shot up and grabbed her wrist. Shayla didn’t have time to struggle as Theron rolled her underneath him into a narrow grove in the roof. It was all she could do not to groan when he landed on top of her.

“Stay down!” he ordered, as if she’d never been in this type of situation before. “Let me get my coat over you before they see us. I doubt you’re ready to fight them all off just yet.”

Ah yes, his magic coat. Shayla had forgotten he owned one of the wretched things. She was about to let him know she knew how to hold her own if it came to fighting, when he nodded toward the train car ahead of them.

“They are moving.”

She had to crane her neck to see. “Four of them…that’s not bad,” she murmured under her breath.

Theron chuckled. It was not a humorous chuckle. “Look behind us.”

She whipped her neck in the direction he motioned. The beasts were everywhere. They were moving towards the edges of the train cars, preparing to lower themselves over the sides. She felt the ice seep through her veins; the frontrunner to her heat.

She looked up at Theron as he yanked his hand from her shoulder and lifted his chest away from hers.

“You need to warn me when you are going to throw heat!” he whispered. “I’d rather go out fighting than as a human bonfire.”

Shayla saw the steam rising off of her body and dissipating into the air around them. She closed her eyes and willed the fire down. It would do them no good if she gave away their position now.

“What is your plan?” she asked. For an instant, she was a little relieved that this fight did not solely rest on her tactical leadership. It was foreign to her to feel this way, and it caught her completely off-guard.

Her question must have caught him off-guard as well, because his eyes caught hers. She chose to ignore the inquisitive frown. “We get to Absalom,” he replied.

Shayla felt her blood begin to simmer again at his simplistic answer. “What?!” she spat. “That is not a plan, that is a given. How do we get to Absalom?” she demanded.

“We aren’t going to get to him,” he answered. “You are.”

For one moment, she was speechless. That was his plan?! Send her into the snarling, ravenous horde to rescue his precious horse? She did not like the animal in the least. Hell, that the horse did not like her either. All the trembling, tiny scraps of respect Theron had gained from her over the last three grueling days were gone. She wanted to torch him. Her expression must have said as much.

“Easy, soldier,” he murmured, lifting his coat and revealing the hilt of his long dagger. “I’ve got your back. You go after Absalom as soon I give the signal.” He shifted off of her, slowly rose into a crouch, and began to slide out of his coat.

“What are you going to do?” She felt oddly worried for him. Worried, and somewhat concerned, that at any second the demons would see him and come running. She wasn’t ready yet.

“You leave that to me,” he answered, slipping the coat around her shoulders. “You just get to Absalom and get up on him. He’ll do the rest.”

She blinked. It was hard to suppress the urge to argue with him as he started toward the nearest group of Werebryne.

“And, soldier.” With an eyebrow raised, he gave her a warning look. “Don’t start any of those shape-shifting bastards on fire until I tell you to.”

Kenneth J. Ester
May 15th, 2012, 05:40 AM
Hi Venus

Im not sure. Maybe you were not looking for constructive criticism, but since you didnt say you dont want it, I felt I would offer it. :o) I hope you wont take it wrong, as my only intention is to help you grow as a writer. I am no expert myself, but this was just my personal take on it.....

I think you do a good job of adding description. Almost to the point where I was afraid you were spending too much time on it, but not quite. I finally figured out what it was about your writing that bothered me and it something I have seen a lot and used to do myself until my brother pointed it out to me. Your sentences are all too, um, monotone, I think I would say. They all seem to be somewhat the same length so reading it, it starts to feel repetitive. As my brother said it to me.... "The sentences all read like "Da-da-da-da...Da-da-da-da.... Da-da-da-da .....Da-da-da-da .....Da-da-da-da." Not enough fluxuation.

Yours.... Shayla looked at Theron. He was seated to her right, his leg extended out into the aisle. He was looking past her, out the window. The scar on his cheek was more pronounced because of the stern set of his jaw. She wondered what was going through his mind. Those grayish black eyes of his narrowed and then shifted to her face. She blinked and looked away, feeling annoyed he’d caught her staring at him.

Try using commas and mix long and shorter sentences together to create a smoother flow without sounding repetitive.

Shayla looked at Theron, who was sitting to her right, with his leg extended out into the aisle. He was looking past her, out the window. The scar on his cheek was more pronounced because of the stern set of his jaw. She was wondering what was going through his mind when those grayish black eyes of his narrowed and then shifted to her face. She blinked and looked away, feeling annoyed he’d caught her staring at him.

I guess I am just saying, dont be too limited with commas. They are our friends.

Red_Venus
May 15th, 2012, 04:02 PM
I agree. I go back and forth with the commas. In my first novel, I had run on sentences like nobody's business. This time, I'm on the opposite side of the ditch. I'm a re-writer. I hand write, then type, then re-type. Uggh. So this is the first time through with the typing. The second will be better...and by the fourth edit with it, I might start to actually like it. :D

Thanks for the crit. I owe ya!

-venus

WiredNun
May 15th, 2012, 07:03 PM
Red,

If you can rewrite the sentences to read properly without commas, do it. Try to write straightforward subject-predicate sentences unless there's a stylistic reason not to.

Example: From her seat aboard the train, Shayla watched the countryside slip past. becomes: Shayla watched the countryside slip past from her seat aboard the train.

Kill as many qualifiers as possible. She could almost feel the wet chill of those clouds on her skin. The nervous, unexplained tingle in her stomach tightened into a tiny ball.

Her sister had never looked so depleted and, well, completely mortal, before.

Isn't it better without the bolded words?



Try not to start paragraphs or even sentences with "Then". We already know it's a chronological sequence. Then there was a howl. How about There came a howl.



She felt the ice seep through her veins; the frontrunner to her heat. Remember, semicolons set off independent clauses: things that could stand as a complete sentence. Otherwise use a colon or comma.


Off guard is not hyphenated.

What?!” Multiple punctuation is improper style. Use it at the peril of seeming like you are writing a tweet.


The story is interesting but the characters' thoughts are actually intruding. It appears that between each piece of dialogue there is exposition. This is too much tell, not enough show. You don't have to eliminate it completely, but some stark dialogue uncluttered by asides from the author would go a long way toward keeping my interest. Even cutting down on the redundancies would help. With an eyebrow raised, he gave her a warning look. How about just He gave her a warning look.

It's a matter of style, but this is an action sequence. From my point of view, if it's an action sequence, give me action. Like in a movie. If it's a chilling phone call between the villain and the hero, it's wit, threats, declarations. If it's a dream sequence it's confusion, exposition, thoughts and even poetry. For an action sequence, it should be clean, sharp, scary, dangerous, and the writing should reflect that.

Just my $0.02