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View Full Version : Tempered by Fire - Intro (Warning: Some Language, Violence)



alexandriadeloraine
December 16th, 2012, 12:33 AM
Hello everyone;

I wanted to take a moment before diving into the intro of one of my current stories to give you
a bit of information about it, and thank you for taking the time to read it and (hopefully) share
your thoughts on it. Tempered by Fire is intended to be a YA romance, but the romance part
isn't indicated or present here in the intro. The primary theme that propels the story, and the
romance, is child abuse -- so while I intend for this to be a YA novel, I do think it will be on the
more mature side of YA fiction, and my hope is that it will appeal to a much wider audience.

With that said, this is a very short excerpt from the introduction. In terms of feedback, while
of course you're welcome to comment on any aspect that you liked, didn't like or think could
be improved -- what I would find most useful would be some feedback in terms of: does the
intro grip you, does it draw you into the story, would you want to read past the first page, &
are there any obvious cliches you think should be avoided?

So here is it, I hope you'll enjoy and I look forward to hearing from everyone. ^.^

- Alexandria de Loraine

-
-

Tempered by Fire

Excerpt from the Introduction

- S.O.S -


There was blood in his mouth, the taste of copper; he could smell it and feel it flow hot from his bitten tongue. As usual, he’d had no time to react before the blow, his jaw snapped shut violently mid-sentence. Spluttering and feeling nauseated and light-headed for a moment, he reeled back from the pillar of rage before him.

“Who the hell do you think you are?” There was another blow he could not get away from, and Alexander’s blood splattered against the floor and wall as his head collided with the wooden doorframe. His vision spun, he was dizzy and disoriented, scrambling to get away from the sub-bestial man whose scarred, clutching hands were grasping at him, threatening to throttle him.

‘Who do I think I am?’ The question repeated in his brain as he stumbled through the hall and down the stairs faster than he could process what was happening. He could hear his stepfather lumbering down the hall after him, drunk and swaying, his face nearly purple with rage. ‘Get away, get away, get away!...’ his face was throbbing and he could feel his left eye swelling shut, but he made it to the front porch and then he was running, stumbling barefoot across the gravel, into the road.

By the time his legs gave way and he collapsed, he’d run almost two miles from the house. His feet were bleeding, but he hardly noticed as he lay in the ditch panting. After several minutes, he crawled further from the road, into the cover of the surrounding trees. It took another twenty minutes for his heart beat to return to a normal pace, and he propped himself against a tree trunk, gradually becoming colder as his body cooled and his sweat chilled him to the bone.

The day had been rather warm, it was early August after all, but the clear sky allowed all the heat to be sucked right into the vacuum of space, and Alexander was feeling it in his jeans and thin, bloodied t-shit. There were few cars so late in the evening, so far in the country. His eyes had adjusted to the dark, and he consciously realized that he’d run in the opposite direction of any neighbors or the nearby town.

In his panic, he hadn’t considered where he was going; he simply had to get away. As he considered what he could do, he became aware of the throbbing of his feet and the soreness where he’d cut his soles as he ran. That was just about the icing on the cake for him, and he fought back the desire to sob wretchedly.

‘One day,’ he thought angrily, ‘one day I’m gonna kill that filthy son of a bitch.’

It wasn’t a new idea to him. He’d arrived at the realization that killing his stepfather was the only way to be free of him sometime early in his youth, probably after the second or third drunken assault that left him broken and bleeding. Then the years passed by, day after day, week following week, and the beatings continued; the pain continued, the bruises, the broken bones and the spilled blood and the fear all continued.

‘Can’t go home,’ the thought of staying out through another night brought a wave of renewed misery over him, but the idea of returning to the hell he called home was impossible. If he went back to the house he was liable to wind up hospitalized. Again. ‘Wonder what sort of excuse mom would come up with this time…’

They’d run the gambit of poor excuses over the years, his mother’s tears and wailing being the only real glue to hold the sham together. He’d fallen out of trees, tripped down the stairs, closed his hand in the car door, and crashed on his bike more times than he could count. Though he couldn’t remember when it had happened, it had long become clear to him that his mother would go to any length to defend her husband.

It didn’t seem to matter, though. Whether it was because they were honestly too stupid to see past the blatant lies, or they simply didn’t care, the doctors and nurses who had treated him over the years had never raised a red flag over his condition. Alexander shook with the miserable sobs that wracked his body, feeling wretched, alone, abandoned and entirely unloved. ‘God, I’ll die this way someday,’ he thought, and it brought new tears to his eyes, streaming down his face uncontrollably.

He’d been sitting for a long time, so long that he’d lost track of the time and the moon was high in the sky amidst a backdrop of countless stars. Several cars had driven past, mostly speeding along the quiet country road, and he’d moved himself to a more concealed position among the trees. The pain in his feet had given way to a stiff, semi-numb soreness, and he still shivered intermittently from the cold, arms wrapped tightly around himself for some added heat.

Finally, he stood again and picked his way carefully back along the road toward his house. He couldn’t actually go home, but it had been long enough that his stepfather was certainly rooted to the couch with a fresh pack of beer and a bottle of Jack Daniel’s. That meant the tool shed behind their house could be safely approached to retrieve the extra clothing he’d stashed there. Assuming the lock on the door hadn’t been replaced.

Another car approached from behind, slowing as it approached him even though he veered several yards away from the road to walk in the scrub. When the car drew nearly parallel to him, it had practically stopped moving, having slowed to match his pace and he heard a woman call to him through an open window.

“Hey! Are you okay? Do you need a ride?”

It was a dark colored, four-door Subaru, and the woman driving it reminded him of his mother for a moment, her tone honest and concerned. Alexander didn’t change his course at first, looking over toward her car, its headlights piercing the night to illuminate the road ahead. His house was still a little over a mile away.

“No,” he shook his head. Each step was a small torture, but he continued to walk along the side of the road, his eyes falling away from the woman and her car.

Having seen how poorly he was dressed when she drew up alongside him, the driver was undeterred.

“Oh come on now,” she spoke again, calling out to him, “please, let me at least give you a ride into town. It’s awfully late for a young man to be out here.”

Alexander couldn’t resist a low, bitter laugh at her words. As if he didn’t know it was a bad idea to be out and about in the Montanan countryside at night, alone, while beaten and bloodied. And, oh yes, with no shoes or socks. ‘Oh, I know…’

“I appreciate the offer,” and he did; he looked toward her car again, wishing he could sit for a moment inside and let her drop him off by his house. But he didn’t like attention from strangers, and he couldn’t go home, “I’m not going to town…”

“Well here, climb in and just ride as far as you’d like. I’ll let you out as soon as you want,” he heard the locks on her car click up, “Come on, son; I know it’s summer, but you haven’t even got a jacket.”

She had a point. As if to emphasize her statement, he felt the wind pick up slightly for a moment, cutting through his thin t-shirt and chilling him even further. With an involuntary shudder from the wind, he turned and looked briefly toward the car. The woman behind the wheel sounded friendly enough, and she was still dragging along the road slowly parallel to him, headlights shining steadily onward.

‘Oh to hell with it,’ he veered toward the car, his feet protesting as he stepped over the hard, unyielding gravel. The car halted as he hurried over, and he hesitated only for a moment before reaching out to grasp the door handle and pull it open. His heartbeat was hammering hard in his chest, a strange mixture of excitement and anxiety, but he breathed a sigh of relief as the dome light automatically came on.

Illuminated for a moment beneath the warm yellow glow of the dome light, he saw the woman who had stopped to pick him up. She looked to be in her mid-thirties, with dark auburn hair swept up in a messy bun and an ornate, beaded gemstone necklace with matching earrings on. As he evaluated her, she glanced over him cursorily too.

“Well, are you getting in?” her tone was still gentle and kind, though he’d seen the look of surprise that flashed across her face when she got a better look at him.

Still feeling markedly uncomfortable, but relieved that she hadn’t changed her mind when she saw how raggedy he looked at the moment, Alexander stepped gingerly into the car and sat carefully on the seat. The interior of her car was comfortable and worn, evidently from years of use, and there was a pile of energy bar wrappers and assorted candy on the floor of the passenger seat, but he didn’t want to get anything dirty.

With the door shut again, the dome light dimmed and went out, and he was grateful for the shadows that mostly concealed his battered appearance. After a moment, he found his voice and was able to say, “Thank you, ma’am, I’ll just ride a little ways.”

“Well just buckle up for now, alright?” she’d put the car in neutral while he climbed in, and switched it back into drive as she continued, “and there’s no need to call me ma’am, you’ll make me feel like my grandma. My name’s Lucille Bowman, so please just call me Lucy. And you can just shove those wrappers in the backseat if you want.”

The initial adrenaline spike that had set his heart to racing as he approached her car had started to die down, and he felt his heartbeat returning to a more normal rate as he reached up mechanically, fumbling through the dark to find the seatbelt and pull it across his chest. They’d begun moving along the road again, swiftly gaining speed as they approached the bend in the road that would lead past his house.

"Thank you very much, ma’a—Lucy,” he was watching the shadowed trees pass through the window, subconsciously sinking lower in his seat as they drew closer to his house, “I’m Alexander.”

farefar
December 16th, 2012, 07:13 AM
I definitely found many different aspects to the story that I found interesting. I feel as though you are portraying Alexander as someone who wishes to fight back but either does not know how or if he could stand up to his step-father. Maybe adding his mother (assuming she lives in the house hold) to the picture might add more element to Alexander's despair? Anyways you definitely captured my attention as the descriptive language was perfect. I did not feel overwhelmed by the writing or needing to go over sentences twice. I would love to read more good luck with the rest of your novel.

alexandriadeloraine
December 16th, 2012, 07:59 PM
Thanks for the feedback, Farefar. I'm glad this short excerpt from the intro came across smoothly to you as a
reader, and it's wonderful to hear that you'd be interested in reading more. ^.^ In terms of Alexander's mother,
she certainly plays a role in the novel as it develops, although it is not a very positive role. Specifically, she is
cast as a rather weak-willed woman, in line with what has been described as a Borderline Waif (a sub-type of
the Borderline Personality Disorder in women) -- she is unable (even unwilling) to protect her son.

Also, since I didn't mention it in the original post, I wanted to add that Alexander is 17 -- so, not quite a child,
but certainly not yet a man, which partially fuels his conflict with his step-father.

Thanks again;

- Alexandria de Loraine

xxaznvanxx
May 29th, 2013, 06:30 AM
Great beginning sentence. Your very talented. I wish i could write like that.

alexandriadeloraine
July 14th, 2013, 10:37 AM
Hello there everyone;

I've updated my initial post to expand on the excerpt slightly, and would greatly appreciate any feedback anyone might have to offer
on this as a beginning point so far. In a few more days, I should be able to update with another excerpt from slightly further into the
story when some more of the actual action starts to take place.

Love it, hate it, just don't feel it? Let me know, I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Thanks everyone;

- Alexandria de Loraine

Justin Rocket
July 14th, 2013, 05:31 PM
My biggest criticism has to do with your use of description. Don't give any description which isn't required to move the story along.

For example, I rewrote the first three paragraphs as follows


There was blood in his mouth.

His vision spun, he was dizzy and disoriented, scrambling to get away from thesub-bestial man whose scarred, clutching hands were grasping at him,threatening to throttle him. Another blow came with the words, “Who the hell doyou think you are?” , and Alexander’s blood splattered against the floor andwall as his head collided with the wooden doorframe.

‘Who do I think I am?’ The question repeated in Alexander’s brain as he fledthrough the hall and down the stairs faster than he could process what washappening. His face was throbbing and he could feel his left eye swelling shut. He could hear his stepfather lumbering downthe hall after him, drunk and swaying, nearly purple with rage., but Alexander madeit to the front porch and then he was running, stumbling barefoot across thegravel, into the road.


Beware telling the audience (you can do it, but only when you're trying to relaxe tension). In particular, don't tell your audience a stereotype.
For example,

Again. ‘Wonder what sort of excuse mom would come up with this time…’

They’d run the gambit of poor excuses over the years, his mother’s tears and wailing being the only real glue to hold the sham together. He’d fallen out of trees, tripped down the stairs, closed his hand in the car door, and crashed on his bike more times than he could count. Though he couldn’t remember when it had happened, it had long become clear to him that his mother would go to any length to defend her husband.

It didn’t seem to matter, though. Whether it was because they were honestly too stupid to see past the blatant lies, or they simply didn’t care, the doctors and nurses who had treated him over the years had never raised a red flag over his condition. Alexander shook with the miserable sobs that wracked his body, feeling wretched, alone, abandoned and entirely unloved.

Should be removed. It'll be much better if you show this latter in the book.

You like to use words like, "after all" and "again,..". I find that they weaken the story.

You tell your readers things they already know. For example, you wrote,
Finally, he stood again and picked his way carefully back along the road toward his house. which should be changes to
Finally, he picked his waycarefully back along the road toward his house.

alexandriadeloraine
July 14th, 2013, 07:28 PM
Hey there Justin Rocket;

Thanks for the feedback; while I'm not sure I totally agree with your suggestions, I do appreciate the fact that you took the time to give some
feedback. If you don't mind my asking, are you perhaps in the 14 - 22 year old age range? I ask because I like to keep track of the feedback
I get from teens / young adults as compared to what I hear from older audiences, since there can be quite a variance.

I noticed that you seem to struggle a bit with spelling & grammar, too. The best way I know of to improve spelling abilities is to read extensively
and to write even more, while there are several great books available that can help with your grammar. One particularly humorous book that has
enjoyed immense popularity over the last several years is 'Eats, Shoots & Leaves', new and used copies are widely available and pretty cheap. :)

At any rate, thanks again for the feedback and good luck with your own work, it's always great to see people developing their writing abilities.

Cheers;

- Alexandria de Loraine

Jeko
July 14th, 2013, 08:38 PM
Enjoyed the depth of description you gave in this; it slightly stifled the progress of the story, IMO, but helped with the creation of your characters. As with the balance of showing and telling... nicely done, I think. It reads like you didn't care too much about the whole show/tell hoo-hah but knew what you were doing, who your characters were and where your story is going; hence a lot was told, and a lot was shown, and it was an enjoyable read.

My advice now would be to start cutting down some of the unnecessary 'fat' that hampers the story down. Be brutal with this introduction; there are sentences that are too long, words that could be replaced with others, and some over-description in places. I won't give examples, as that would require the hours and hours of in-depth analysis that is best left to the author of the work.

(btw, I'm 16. :D)

Justin Rocket
July 15th, 2013, 07:30 AM
Hey there Justin Rocket;

Thanks for the feedback; while I'm not sure I totally agree with your suggestions, I do appreciate the fact that you took the time to give some
feedback. If you don't mind my asking, are you perhaps in the 14 - 22 year old age range? I ask because I like to keep track of the feedback
I get from teens / young adults as compared to what I hear from older audiences, since there can be quite a variance.

I noticed that you seem to struggle a bit with spelling & grammar, too. The best way I know of to improve spelling abilities is to read extensively
and to write even more, while there are several great books available that can help with your grammar. One particularly humorous book that has
enjoyed immense popularity over the last several years is 'Eats, Shoots & Leaves', new and used copies are widely available and pretty cheap. :)

At any rate, thanks again for the feedback and good luck with your own work, it's always great to see people developing their writing abilities.

Cheers;

- Alexandria de Loraine

Every writer has their own style. There are tacit as well as explicit reasons for that. One of the reasons they adopt that style is because they personally think that style is best. My style gives a preference to very sparse, though poetic, language. I feel that that maximizes the dramatic tension.
But, to each their own. I can only tell you what I like to see. I believe that a writer improves their writing by experimenting and being exposed to different styles. So, seeing one's work through the eyes of other writers is a critical part of the review process.

As for my age, I'm 44.

Thank you for the book recommendation. I have a couple of college degrees; Anthropology, Computer Information Systems, and half of a degree in Systems Architecture. But, when I'm writing quickly, I can still make mistakes. It took me a great deal of time to analyze your content, so I wrote my post pretty quickly. My issue is exacerbated by the medication I'm on which causes me to miss details. I still have an ear for good writing, though. I think.

I'd appreciate if you reviewed my own content http://www.writingforums.com/childrens-young-adult-stories/140230-long-winter-chapter-3-1666-words.html I think your writing style is significantly different from mine and, so, your review would be enlightening.

Justin Rocket
July 15th, 2013, 07:38 AM
(btw, I'm 16. :D)

I hate you. You just caused me to break half a dozen pencils in envy. If I could write at 16 the way you write, I'd probably be a millionaire by now.