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DragonWriter
December 19th, 2012, 12:11 AM
Hello! :) So this is the first chapter of my novel; please let me know what you think! I take criticism very well ;)

Chapter 1
The Dream


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“Why can’t the world just be simple? Why does everyone have to complicate everything instead of just leaving it as is? The more they meddle with it, the more complicated and messy it gets! Dragons have done virtually nothing to hurt humans unless it is in self-defense. There are rumors of a dragon sighting on the border of town circulating all over town. Now everyone has to freak out about it because dragons are so dangerous, yet they haven’t hurt us nearly as much as we have hurt them! You play with fire; you’re going to get burned. Not like anyone would listen to my opinion, because I’m just a poor farm girl with no common sense.”
The speaker stopped working long enough to wipe the sweat off her brow.
She continued her discourse with herself, busily plucking pesky weeds away from the green shoots that were soon to be some of the tastiest fresh-grown vegetables in the area.
“And who ever said dragons were dangerous anyway?”
Whoa. Now she was treading on thin ice.
“They’re just trying to protect themselves,” she reasoned. “I bet not one of those pompous ‘nobles’ living in Venera has ever learned the meaning of hard work. I’d like to see them even dare to touch the dirt. They’re so afraid of getting their hands dirty. Just look at mine!”
She paused for a moment to stare down at her hands, which were caked in hard brown mud. It would take a lot of scrubbing to get them clean enough to pass her mother’s inspection. She laughed, imagining the revulsion that a noblewoman like Madame Freiseri would suffer from if she got even a speck of dirt on her fine hands. If only the aristocracy knew or cared to know what normal life in Amael was like, outside of Venera’s jeweled gates. There were no fancy carriages and nobleman maidservants catering to their every whim. How could they ever survive?
The girl shook her head in ridicule as she continued to pick the weeds and place them in her wicker basket. They would have a grand bonfire later; it was always a fun way to dispose of the dirty old plants.
Standing five foot six from head to heels, the teenaged worker was not a short girl. Her tanned skin revealed the long hours she had spent working in the sun, and her slender figure indicated meager portion sizes. Cascading waves of auburn tresses were pulled back hastily with a worn ribbon, while emerald green eyes contentedly took in the beauty of nature around her. She wore a light blue dress with white trim. She straightened out, trying to rid her back of the kinks, just as her mother came outside.
Elisse Armae was a short, stout woman with raven black hair quite unlike her daughter’s ginger locks. Her blazing blue eyes were often quite stern, but right now, she was worn out, dulling the spark in her eyes. With a weary smile, she called to her daughter.
“Kaena! It’s time for dinner. You can finish afterwards.”
Kaena flashed her mother a grateful look; tending a garden in the hot sun was quite tedious and boring. After stretching one last time, she followed her mother inside to eat.
Her father and brother were discussing a fight that had gone on in the street earlier that day. Kaena leaned on the doorframe as she often did, observing her brother. His blue-green eyes were lit with enthusiasm; Jarden loved a good debate. Kaena thought he looked cute with his mouse brown hair and happy smile. She felt blessed to have him in her life; even if he wasn’t exactly her brother.
The tarnished bronze medallion around Jarden’s neck hung down as he leaned forward on the table eagerly. It was a constant reminder of his mysterious childhood. Although he did not like to talk about it, Elisse and Dale were not Jarden’s real parents. They did not know where Jarden was from, or if he had relatives still living. Dale and Elisse simply said, whenever asked, that under the circumstances it was more prudent to leave him behind. Kaena sometimes wondered how that made Jarden feel. She had seen bitterness in his eyes before when the subject was raised.
Kaena figured that it was not an easy topic to approach, so she tried to avoid asking, despite her curiosity. She knew that if her parents had left her, she wouldn’t want to talk about it either. She attentively listened to the discussion, keeping personal thoughts to herself.
Kaena’s mother turned up her nose at the whole affair. She was the only one in the household who wasn’t interested in affairs except to give a lecture on how much the kingdom had fallen from decency. Elisse was simply disgusted that two full-grown men would fight over something as simple as a piece of bread. She had said many a time that people were just looking for an excuse to fight, and would often declare darkly that it was exactly this sort of behavior that would plunge them into the Dark Ages again. She expected her daughter to feel the same way, but Kaena was naturally unbiased and enjoyed what her father had to say. Elisse simply hoped that in the end her daughter wouldn’t turn to sword fighting and all the vile ‘sins of war’ as she called them.
Dale sighed. “People nowadays have no honor anymore,” he stated remorsefully. “I’m ashamed for what our country has become. I remember a time where honesty was important. Back then it was unheard of for such ill-mannered people to go unpunished.”
“To think that two honest men could be reduced to fighting over scraps!” Elisse interjected, sniffing distastefully. “It’s a sign of the moral decay in our country for sure! We’ll be plunged into another Dark Ages before you know it; mark my words.” Elisse shook her head disapprovingly and went back to her cleaning.
Once she was gone, they returned to the original topic.
“As I was saying,” Dale said, clearing his throat, “such chaos is a result of the flaws in the king’s ethical standards. He’s neglecting his responsibilities as a ruler, but no one has the mettle to stand up to him!”
Kaena wanted to hear more, but a firm hand on her shoulder was steering her over to the washbasin. Elisse must have decided that since her verbal outburst hadn’t swayed her daughter, a more direct approach was needed. With a resigned sigh, Kaena plunged her hands into the soapy basin and began to scrub the filth away, feeling slightly frustrated at her mother.
She had been intrigued by what her father had to say, and disliked being forced away. Kaena finished washing her hands and was reaching for a clean dish towel when her mother deposited a stack of dishes in the basin. Kaena didn’t try to hide her displeasure, and grudgingly set to work. She had wanted to hear Dale explain the reason behind the quarreling, but now she was stuck. If only there was a way to bring the conversation to herself, since she couldn’t go to it. It was a silly thought, but her mind had latched onto it so tightly that she didn’t stop to think about the illogicality of it.
What had her father taught her about the origin of speech? It starts with a thought that takes root and blossoms in the mind. So to grasp the essence of a conversation, and even the deeper parts to it, she simply had to catch the thoughts bouncing between the two, right? She had seen clairvoyants read minds before; they had come to town once when she had been little. After much begging, Dale had allowed her to go see the performance, although he had clearly explained to her that it was all just tricks beforehand. Still, what if he was wrong? What if it really was possible to read someone’s mind?
Kaena remembered what one of the psychics always said before he began. “You must open your mind as well as your ears.” Then he would close his eyes in concentration. Kaena knew how to open her ears, but she wasn’t so sure about opening her mind.
She grabbed a dirty dish from the basin and started wiping it with a rag; trying to concentrate on nothing at once and just let her mind wander freely, as the seer had said. It didn’t seem to work, however. At least, Kaena didn’t feel any different. Annoyed, she focused on her task, washing dishes. With her body so preoccupied with the menial chore, her mind had nothing to do, nothing to think of; her thoughts wandered as did her vision. Suddenly, Kaena realized that was how it was done. She couldn’t concentrate on making herself wander; she had to literally let go and float on her thoughts. Kaena seemed to be seeing as she wasn’t seeing. She saw in her mind’s eye her brother and father discussing the political status of the kingdom. Every word they said seemed to be muzzy, yet Kaena understood it clearly. It was as if she wasn’t bent over a tub full of dishes and was instead simply standing in the midst of the conversation. She felt them bantering back and forth, and her head naturally turned in the direction of whoever was speaking. In her mind’s eye she saw shapes whizzing back and forth between the two as they spoke, bouncing off or vanishing as another one whizzed forward. Intrigued, Kaena locked her attention onto one of these. She found herself thinking of a fluffy orange cat named Marshmallow. Odd.
Kaena seemed to be latched on to this random thought, however, and followed with her eyes. It flew towards Jarden and collided onto his forehead, disappearing. Kaena’s vision went black before she could see again. She appeared to be in a circular room with walls that were a translucent green like a veil. Orbs of red blue and green of different sizes bounced around inside at various speeds. Each glowed like light, some more intensely than others. Kaena seemed to let go of the idea of an orange cat to take in all the new sights. She was awed by what she was seeing—whatever she was seeing.
Kaena felt a small twinge in her arm, then another one, followed by several more in rapid succession. Her body was being bombarded with tiny stinging projectiles that whizzed by so fast Kaena didn’t have a chance to identify what they were. They reminded Kaena of little children who had been given too many sweets before bed. The spheres bounced against the walls, flying into each other and occasionally hitting Kaena.
Kaena shielded her body with her hands, trying to protect herself from the wild action around her. It was as if she had entered Jarden’s mind, impossible as it was. Although, it wasn’t truly possible to see thoughts either, was it? Yet that’s what she assumed had happened.
Suddenly it struck her that she was no longer in her physical body. She could still feel her body, but it was a fuzzy image, a distant reality that she couldn’t quite focus on. Kaena drew back, startled by the strange revelation. Looking down at her hands, she was relieved to find herself standing by the washbasin, just as she had been before she had ventured into Jarden’s mind.
The whole thing had been very strange, and Kaena began to doubt that it had ever occurred. She paused for a moment and reached out to touch the fringes of that unexplored world beyond what was physically visible. She brushed against the edge, felt the thin veil separating reality from another realm. It was so very real, and there was no denying it, no matter how improbable the idea of another dimension was.
She wanted to slip back into wherever she had been, but felt very overwhelmed by the whole idea. What she had somehow seen was beyond anything she could ever imagine. Was there anything that came close enough to it that could provide a link, something she could grasp and even possibly explain to someone else?
Kaena tried envisioning the conversation again, but her mind was too excited. Try as she might, she could not get back to where she had so easily slipped to before. She tried picturing just Jarden, hoping she could slip back into the fascinating world of his mind. However, the thin whispery veil guarding his mind was now rigid, like a wall fortifying a fortress. She beat her hand on the surface but was not granted entry.
Kaena felt herself being pushed back down into reality, and found that she was, once again, standing by the washbasin. She shook her head, wondering what had gone wrong. How was she granted entry one moment and thrown out the next?
A sudden thought struck her mind that maybe she wasn’t supposed to be able to get in at all, but had somehow slipped past Jarden’s usual guard. She made up her mind not to tell her family about her experience. They would just think she was fantasizing and not believe her.
Instead, she peeked around the half wall dividing the two rooms so she could see her brother’s face, for real this time. He caught her looking and smiled. She returned the exchange before a warning from Elisse sent her back to drying dishes.
Absentmindedly she wiped a plate clean as she thought about what had happened—had it even happened? No, it had to have happened, she was sure of that…right? Kaena sighed as she set the dish down on the counter. She didn’t like not being sure about something. She either wanted to know it was true or it wasn’t true, just as long as she knew! Instead she was stuck here arguing to herself about it. If only life was as simple as yes or no. Kaena scrubbed at a particularly stubborn spot on yet another neglected dish. Of course life wasn’t simple; why would it be?
Her reverie was interrupted by the men’s eager voices and the smell of roast chicken. Even though her pile of dishes was reduced to none, she continued to busily scrub at the shiny plate in her hands, if only to delay the inevitable. Her family was very traditional about being together for meals, since most families in their day didn’t have that privilege, but right now the last thing Kaena wanted to do was sit and listen to the noisy prattle. All that gardening had simply made her tired. Elisse was on her way to serve the food and she paused by Kaena, scrutinizing the dishes for any speck of dirt left over. She gave a curt nod. “They’re clean enough.” Kaena sighed. Now she had no more excuses. She laid the plate on the rest of the stack and walked towards the dining room, biding her time and still wondering about what had happened. She reluctantly pulled her chair out and sat down, waiting for her father to say grace.
Her brother was shoveling food into his mouth as fast as he could, but that’s what he always did. Elisse scolded him harshly. Dale made sure everyone was ready and then began to pray. Kaena tried to listen but found herself losing focus.
“I’m just tired,” she told herself, but knew there was more to it.
“What good does it do you to stress over it?”
The prayer was finished, and the family began to eat in silence.
“I just want some answers,” Kaena answered her inner self, shoving a fork rather forcefully into a heap of potatoes. She pushed the food around her plate and did her best to not seem disinterested, eating a little bit then and again just so her family wouldn’t ask her what was wrong. That was the last thing she needed, to try to explain something so illogical that she didn’t even believe it! Of course, her ever-perceiving mother knew something was amiss.
“Kaena, darling, what’s wrong? You’ve hardly touched your food.”
“I, I’m just not very hungry,” Kaena muttered. She stood up and pushed her chair away from the table. “May I be excused?”
Elisse put her hand on Kaena’s forehead. “You’re not sick are you, baby?” she asked, concerned.
“I’m fine, Mother, really.” Kaena did her best to look convincing.
Dale looked up from his plate of food. “She’s probably just tired, Elisse.” To his daughter he nodded, “Go on, Kaena, it’s fine.”
“Thanks, Dad.”
She flashed him a grateful smile before leaving the room.
Elisse sat down with a dramatic sigh. “I worry about her sometimes.”
“Elisse, she’s just tired. You can see it in her eyes.”
“She’s been like this for a while now, and she hardly eats anything anymore!”

...The rest of the conversation was lost to Kaena’s ears as she trudged up the steps to her room, stifling a yawn. Once she reached the privacy of her room, she went straight to her bed without bothering to undress. All she wanted was rest. When her head hit the pillow, she expected to fall into a deep sleep, but for some reason it would not come. She tossed and turned, trying to find a more comfortable position, but nothing helped.
“I’m so tired; why can’t I sleep?”
She let out a long yawn as if to prove her point, but felt no more at rest than before. Finally, she simply shut her eyes and waited for sleep to claim her. Instead, she began to hear things in her mind.A faraway voice seemed to be beckoning her, “Kaena, Kaena.”
She sat up in bed and looked around. No one was there.
“Who are you?” Kaena asked hesitantly.
“The voice only replied, “Link your mind to mine like you did with your brother.”
Shocked, Kaena asked, “I linked minds with him? Was that what happened?”
“Yes, little one, you did,” the voice whispered aloud. “Now, when you speak to me, try not to verbalize your words. I can pick up on your spoken words, though not very well. Instead, direct your thoughts towards me, as if you were speaking to me through your thoughts.”
“How am I doing this? And who are you?” Kaena questioned.
“Kaena, you are very special. You have powers that you could not begin to imagine. Now, listen closely. Think of something, anything.”
Kaena concentrated on the one thought that first came to mind. A soft musical laugh floated through the room.
“No, my dear girl, you are not mad. This is truly real.”
Kaena winced. The sharp pinch to her arm had done nothing to dispel this dream, and it was unnerving to have someone know her thoughts.
“Trust me,” the voice whispered.
Kaena expelled her breath in a resigned sigh. “What am I supposed to do again?” A pause. “How do I know you’re real? And for that matter, who are you?”
“Trust.”
Kaena wrinkled her face unattractively. “Trust? What is that supposed to mean? I mean, how do you trust something that’s not real—just a dream?”
“This isn’t a dream, Kaena. I’m truly speaking to you—a”
“Yes, I know. That’s what they tell you in every dream.” Kaena was getting annoyed with this little prank.
“I would appreciate it if you would just allow me to speak.”
Kaena rolled her eyes up to the ceiling, sinking into a posture of reluctant and annoyed submission. After a moment of heavy silence, she sighed.
“Good job.”
Kaena nearly jumped off her bed. Had she thought that?
“For you to fully link minds with someone there must be two people: one to initiate the link and one to complete the link. In the same way that you captured the conversation from your family in your mind, capture what I am saying. See it in your mind’s eye, the way you did earlier.”
“But I can’t see you.” Kaena threw up her hands in frustration and looked around the room.
“No. but you can hear me. And that’s proof that you’re listening. No one else can hear our conversation now, for our minds are linked.”
“So you’re saying that I’m speaking with my mind.”
“Exactly.”
Kaena put her hands on her hips. “Hey! I didn’t ask you to listen to my thoughts!”
“Dearest Kaena, the mental world is not as limited as the physical one. Whatever you think is as clear to all nearby as if they were spoken verbally.”
Kaena paused to think on that, chewing on her lip thoughtfully. How could that be? How could thoughts be heard if they aren’t spoken aloud?
“…I don’t get it,” she admitted.
“It would be like everything you ever thought about being open for anyone close enough to hear, in a sense.”
“But how? That’s what I want to know!”
“Would you like me to go into the details of the entirety of the mental realm or would you prefer that I tell you what is going on and why I am here?”
“You’re not here,” Kaena thought, until she realized her thought could be heard.
There was an audible sigh. “Kaena, will you please just listen?”
“Fine.” Kaena crossed her arms and did her best to appear disinterested, though she was very much intrigued.
“How was I able to do that?” Kaena asked quietly after a moment of silence.
“Do what?”
“You know, capture a conversation or whatever that was. How does that work?”
“I already told you, it is too complicated to explain in the time we have.”
“But…oh never mind! Just let me sleep!” She turned and flopped dramatically onto her bed, burying her face into the pillow as she said it
“Is that truly what you want, Kaena?” There was a resigned tone to the question.
A pause. “No.” she admitted aloud. The pillow that she refused to remove her face from muffled her voice.
“Then listen. Or don’t. The choice is yours.”
Kaena sighed but sat up slowly, frustrated with herself. This type of thing was interesting; one of the things she’d love to read in a book and fantasize about…when she wasn’t dead tired.
The thought occurred to her, however, that this could be a onetime offer. Her chance to prove that she could be something more than average. But there was a question that had been bothering Kaena ever since the strange incident earlier. She had been hesitant at first about asking, put she decided to take the plunge.
“Okay, but I have one question. Who are you? You know my name, but I don’t know yours.”
“I’m sorry; did I not introduce myself? My name is Latha.”
“Latha. Interesting,” Kaena commented. “So Latha, you seem to know a lot. Can I ask you another question?”
“I will do my best to answer it if I can,” Latha replied.
Kaena figured that must mean ‘yes’, so she went with it. “When I tried to get in Jarden’s mind earlier today, it was like walking through an open doorway. But later, when I tried to get back into Jarden’s mind, there was a hard wall blocking the way! But I don’t think he has any clue about any of this, so how could his mind have blocked me then if he didn’t know how to do it?”
Kaena heard a sigh and wondered what the reason for it was. “Kaena, that was just a natural block, intended to keep out whatever shouldn’t be in the mind. The defense mechanism triggers when thoughts and ideas try to enter your mind from the outside. Without it, there would be nothing to separate your mind from the outside world. The results would be very… unpleasant, we shall say.”
“So why did Jarden’s mind not allow me in again?” She sensed uneasiness and pressed the issue further, hoping to unearth the secret obviously being hid.
There was a long pause, confirming Kaena’s suspicions.
“…Kaena, you, you weren’t supposed to be able to gain access to Jarden’s mind...” There was an uneasy tone in the frank response. “But there is no need to worry about that right now. Remember, little one,” Latha cautioned—quickly changing the subject, Kaena noted—“not everyone’s mind will be unblocked. Be wary when trying to reach someone’s thoughts. If you are not careful, you’ll run into a block, and the person will know you are trying to reach their thoughts. However, you can send pictures and thoughts to anyone if you have the ability. Even a seemingly impenetrable mind can be convinced to let down their guard with a convincing picture or idea.”
Kaena had to think on that for a while before she could understand it.
Seeing her chance, Latha began to speak again. “Kaena, my only purpose is to help you. You have a very special gift, and if you’ll let me, I can show you how to use it and give you the tools to go beyond others’ expectations. But if I am being a nuisance, I can go…”
“No, wait!” Kaena cried, feeling guilty. “I, I want to hear this.”
“But it is late and…”
“It doesn’t matter. Not now. This is way more important.” Kaena’s tone was determined.
“…I must admit, I am impressed. I did not believe you were yet ready…”
“But I am,” Kaena insisted. “I am ready to listen now.”
“Wow,” Kaena suddenly realized, awed. How many times could she have been asked like this before and just not been ready? Why could she have not been ready earlier?
“It often takes a removal of distractions to make the truth clear.” Latha paused before continuing, “This is the first time I’ve used a dream to communicate with you. Kaena, the time is now. I had to make things perfectly clear. If you weren’t ready, well, I don’t know what I would have done.”
“What do you mean?” Kaena asked.
“I have been watching you for a while now, Kaena; at your parent’s request. They said that when you were ready, you would know.”
Kaena paused for a moment. Should she bring up the question that had been gnawing at her for a while now or leave it hidden? Kaena decided to take the plunge.
“Earlier you said ‘the time is now’. What does that mean?”
“It means that the time has come for you to find out who you are, Kaena.”
“But why now? Why is today perfect but tomorrow is too late?”
Latha’s voice hesitated for a moment. “Because you are the one who understands what is going on.”
“What?” Kaena cried. “What are you talking about? I probably know the least anyone could know about this whole thing right now!”
If Kaena could have seen the speaker, she probably would have imagined a knowing smile on her face. “You are unburdened by other’s views. You see the story from both sides of the line, and you can accurately judge which is correct. Unlike most of the mule-headed human race, you are not poisoned by lies of a jealous ruler.”
“What? Me?” Kaena snorted. “You have got to be joking!”
“Unfortunately, Kaena, I am not. Dragons and humans have been in conflict for several centuries now, and they need a mediator to bring peace. It has gotten more serious lately than before, and although physical assaults have been few, many harsh words have been flung back and forth. Sooner or later they will resort to physical attacks, and by then it will be too late.”
“But I still don’t understand why I am supposed to be the one to be this ‘mediator’. Why haven’t you gotten someone already? Someone better than me, with more experience.”
Latha sighed. “Most men have opted to believe the lies of their fellow friends rather than investigate to find the truth. Were the dragons the ones who betrayed humans, or vice-versa? Which race has caused the most destruction and pain?” There was a bitter edge to her voice. “I am sorry; I must learn to contain myself. It is not up to me to decide what you should believe. But very soon, Kaena, you will have to take that journey for yourself. Unease is brewing; peace treaties are shaky. Both sides feel greatly misunderstood and betrayed. Sooner or later one of the races will attack the other. They need a mediator, someone who can be impartial; someone who can see from both sides to properly understand the situation and bring peace.”
“And you’re saying I’m the one to do that,” Kaena stated.
The voice tried to sound nonchalant. “I cannot tell you what you must or mustn’t do. I can only point you in the right direction.”
“So why do you care so much?” Kaena wanted to know. “Why haven’t you done something about it because, it’s obviously your passion.”
“Despite my most fervent wishes to do just that, I am unable to.” Her voice held a pleading note. “Kaena, I have been telling you these things for a reason.”
Suddenly a lustrous orange like the sunset burst in Kaena’s eyes, and an image slowly emerged until Kaena recognized what it was: a dragon.

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What did you think? Also I had a bit of trouble looking for the right wording here: Nonchalant isn't quite the word I was thinking of, but something like that. Basically Latha is trying to make sure Kaena doesn't feel pressured or obligated to do this, but that this was her intended 'mission' shall we say.
The voice tried to sound nonchalant. “I cannot tell you what you must or mustn’t do. I can only point you in the right direction.”

Nonchalant isn't quite the word I was thinking of, but something like that. Basically Latha is trying to make sure Kaena doesn't feel pressured or obligated to do this, but that this was her intended 'mission' shall we say. Any suggestions? :) Thanks again for reading and helping me out. :)

ZDavid
December 20th, 2012, 10:17 AM
Hi there! Thanks for posting this. As it's decently long, I'm going to be a bit general, but I do have plenty to say.

I have a question before I begin. I know this is posted in general fiction, but who is your target audience? I'm having a little bit of trouble figuring that out just from this excerpt.

First the good: I think you really do a good job setting the scene, and I enjoy your style. Your sentence structure is varied in just the right way to give this a nice flow. It's very easy to read, and I mean that in the best way possible, not that it's in any way pedestrian. Also (and I promise this is not a backhanded compliment), I enjoy the fact that I found this to begin a bit derivatively, but as it progressed the plot became much more interesting and unique. There are other things I liked besides just those things, but that gives you an idea of your strong points in my mind.

Here are some things that I think need work:

I really dislike the line "Whoa. Now she was treading on thin ice." It totally took me out of the action. If you want to convey that idea, I think you could do it in a better way. Maybe something like, "This was an unpopular opinion to say the least." Something along those lines would be much improved. The "whoa" especially strikes me as way out of place.

This is a bit nitpicky, but I personally find it kind of awkward when you keep switching between "Elisse" and "Kaena's mother."

One thing that is entirely unclear to me is whether you envision this to take place in a completely alternate universe or on earth but with a fantasy twist. I think it would be good if you could somehow make whichever your intention is more clear. I'm not exactly sure how to do that (I'll do some thinking), but it makes a difference in how the story is perceived, I think.

This is another thing that I'm not really sure how I feel about: I totally get that the italics are meant to express the fact that the conversation between Kaena and Latha is occurring telepathically, but because it's so extended, it ends up being a LOT of italics. Maybe it would be better to just establish it and then not use them? That's up to you though... I'm just pointing out that to someone reading this for the first time, that really stuck out to me. I think it would be even more obvious in a different font than this.

Honestly, that's about all I have at this point. As you can tell, those are all pretty minor things. Otherwise I really quite liked it, and I'll be the first to admit I don't tend to go for things like this too often.

Lastly, as for your question about "nonchalant," how about this: "The voice tried to sound impassive, but in it there remained an edge of urgency." ?

Good luck, keep it up, and let me know if there's anything else I can do to help!

PS: I forgot one thing. I'm assuming your title isn't actually "The Dragon Novel with No Name." This is your call, but I think it would be excellent if you could decide on at least a working title. You can always change it. To me, though, titles say so much and can add a certain depth to the story all on their own. Just think about it.

DragonWriter
December 20th, 2012, 11:22 PM
I have a question before I begin. I know this is posted in general fiction, but who is your target audience? I'm having a little bit of trouble figuring that out just from this excerpt.

My target audience is probably young adults; some further parts I would consider a bit too extreme for younger children(not in a bad way, just a bit over their heads) and/or adults. Mainly young adults though.


I really dislike the line "Whoa. Now she was treading on thin ice." It totally took me out of the action. If you want to convey that idea, I think you could do it in a better way. Maybe something like, "This was an unpopular opinion to say the least." Something along those lines would be much improved. The "whoa" especially strikes me as way out of place.

Okay, I will definitely change that. Thanks for the suggestion; I wasn't completely sure about that line anyway :P


This is a bit nitpicky, but I personally find it kind of awkward when you keep switching between "Elisse" and "Kaena's mother."

Do you think I should just use one or what would be your suggestion? Maybe depending on the context of the sentence, whether it helps to call her Kaena's mother...but I believe you are right; it doesn't truly need to be repeated :)


One thing that is entirely unclear to me is whether you envision this to take place in a completely alternate universe or on earth but with a fantasy twist. I think it would be good if you could somehow make whichever your intention is more clear. I'm not exactly sure how to do that (I'll do some thinking), but it makes a difference in how the story is perceived, I think.

Okay, well it's on earth with a fantasy twist, and I was thinking I needed to emphasize that somehow without interrupting the story's flow...


This is another thing that I'm not really sure how I feel about: I totally get that the italics are meant to express the fact that the conversation between Kaena and Latha is occurring telepathically, but because it's so extended, it ends up being a LOT of italics. Maybe it would be better to just establish it and then not use them? That's up to you though... I'm just pointing out that to someone reading this for the first time, that really stuck out to me. I think it would be even more obvious in a different font than this.

Okay, I'll try that. I just didn't want it to be confusing when she's talking telepathically or saying something out loud.


Lastly, as for your question about "nonchalant," how about this: "The voice tried to sound impassive, but in it there remained an edge of urgency." ?

I like that! I think it sounds a lot better than nonchalant, which to me seems more like she just doesn't care. I'll play around with it a little bit and see how it fits :)



PS: I forgot one thing. I'm assuming your title isn't actually "The Dragon Novel with No Name." This is your call, but I think it would be excellent if you could decide on at least a working title. You can always change it. To me, though, titles say so much and can add a certain depth to the story all on their own. Just think about it.

Yes, I've been trying to think of a good title for a while now. Normally it comes pretty easily to me, yet with this one I've just gotten stuck. For now I think I'll call it The Dragon Within, which was one of my original ideas and later makes a lot more sense in the story :) Am I able to change the name of the thread to that?

Once again, thank you so much! I really appreciate it all, the criticism as well as the compliments! :D

ZDavid
December 21st, 2012, 12:40 AM
Please forgive me but I was having trouble fitting all the quotes in (something about exceeding images per post) so I kind of had to squash them all together and answer two questions at a time. If anything is confusing, just ask me to clarify and I will.

Okay, I can totally see the YA target audience in this now. That's mostly the impression I was getting the first time through, but I didn't want to assume anything.

I'm really glad you're going to change that line that begins with "Whoa." :P Sorry, heh, I'm not trying to beat you up about it by any means!


Do you think I should just use one or what would be your suggestion? Maybe depending on the context of the sentence, whether it helps to call her Kaena's mother...but I believe you are right; it doesn't truly need to be repeated

Once you establish that she is Kaena's mother, I would just use "Elisse," and obviously use the gender-specific pronoun when applicable in the sentence. I think using "Kaena's mother" over and over and over again would stick out quite a lot and get stale rather quick. I'm being a little tongue-in-cheek here, but I feel like after a few times I'd feel like "I get it! She's Kaena's mother!" ;) Plus, I can't see a single time you call Dale "Kaena's father." Not that it has any bearing on how you refer to Elisse, I just thought I'd point out that slight disparity.


Okay, well it's on earth with a fantasy twist, and I was thinking I needed to emphasize that somehow without interrupting the story's flow...

Yes, I agree. I'm not really sure how to do that off the top of my head, but I'll try to think about it some okay?

I understood what you were trying to convey with all of the italics and agree that you still have to be clear that the conversation is not taking place out loud. I wonder if, because Latha is unseen (at this point anyway) it might work to put Kaena's thoughts in italics, but Latha's thoughts without? Maybe that would be too confusing, but I don't really think so if you firmly establish early on that Latha's voice is in Kaena's head? To me, putting Kaena's thoughts in italics and Latha's thoughts without kind of reads as if Kaena is going into her head to meet Latha, who in a sense is already there. Does that make sense? Maybe I'm over thinking it.

To be honest, just because the italics are something that are bugging me doesn't necessarily mean I know what a good solution is or that there even is a better one! But I think there is and I will mull that over as well.

I am glad you liked my suggestion for that line versus "nonchalant." Like you said, just play around with it. I wholeheartedly agree that "nonchalant" makes it sound like she doesn't care, plus honestly it just sounds poor in context for other intangible reasons. Sometimes you can just tell when a word is not right, and "nonchalant" is simply not the right word there. Certainly I'm not trying to convince you of anything different since you agree with me on this point, I just thought I'd explain my thought process briefly.


Yes, I've been trying to think of a good title for a while now. Normally it comes pretty easily to me, yet with this one I've just gotten stuck. For now I think I'll call it The Dragon Within, which was one of my original ideas and later makes a lot more sense in the story  Am I able to change the name of the thread to that?

Once again, thank you so much! I really appreciate it all, the criticism as well as the compliments! 

I don't mind The Dragon Within as a working title and I'd probably like it more if I better understood how it fits in later. Unfortunately, I am so the wrong person to ask if you can change the title of a thread... I have less posts than you! :P

Lastly, you're very welcome.

PS: totally unrelated to your work, but how did you manage to put all those quotes in your post? maybe it had something to do with the fact I was writing in the quick reply box? Any time I tried to include more than three, it wouldn't let me post...

DragonWriter
December 21st, 2012, 01:35 AM
Once you establish that she is Kaena's mother, I would just use "Elisse," and obviously use the gender-specific pronoun when applicable in the sentence. I think using "Kaena's mother" over and over and over again would stick out quite a lot and get stale rather quick. I'm being a little tongue-in-cheek here, but I feel like after a few times I'd feel like "I get it! She's Kaena's mother!" ;) Plus, I can't see a single time you call Dale "Kaena's father." Not that it has any bearing on how you refer to Elisse, I just thought I'd point out that slight disparity.

Yeah I totally understand that :) Haha and that's funny I didn't realize I only did that with Elisse :p haha it's things like those that make it helpful to have someone else read it as well! :) I probably would actually get annoyed like that too if it was someone else's work I was reading!



I understood what you were trying to convey with all of the italics and agree that you still have to be clear that the conversation is not taking place out loud. I wonder if, because Latha is unseen (at this point anyway) it might work to put Kaena's thoughts in italics, but Latha's thoughts without? Maybe that would be too confusing, but I don't really think so if you firmly establish early on that Latha's voice is in Kaena's head? To me, putting Kaena's thoughts in italics and Latha's thoughts without kind of reads as if Kaena is going into her head to meet Latha, who in a sense is already there. Does that make sense? Maybe I'm over thinking it.

I could try that and see how it looks. I know I've read way too many books though that have confusing dialogue reference, fantasies that don't distinguish between mental or verbal thoughts or even just people who don't establish very firmly who says each quote! Like you find a paragraph that just has a line of dialogue, with no descriptions or emphasis afterwards and no reference to who said what! And that can be really confusing, especially with a key phrase that then makes me gasp, "WHAT? He said THAT?!" and then I realize as I carefully reread that it was the girl.
And actually, as I was going over that segment I realized the further lines sound/look better not in italics, so I think that would help improve it :)



PS: totally unrelated to your work, but how did you manage to put all those quotes in your post? maybe it had something to do with the fact I was writing in the quick reply box? Any time I tried to include more than three, it wouldn't let me post...

Haha I wasn't actually sure how, I just copied the [QUOTE thing that appears when you hit reply with quote for the beginning and end, and I guess it worked :P I wasn't sure if it would.

DragonWriter
December 21st, 2012, 01:36 AM
And actually now when I tried that one it said I had too many 'images' in it, so I think the first time might have just been a fluke :p