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Mellifera
December 19th, 2012, 06:30 AM
"Wild Blood" is just a working title until I think of something more fitting. I haven't written for fun in about 4 years (college is a time vampire) so I feel very rusty. Doing nothing but non-fiction essays for so long has had an effect I think. I would just like some feedback on how I'm beginning this story. Does it pull you in and make you want to read more? That sort of thing. Feedback on everything really. This is the first time I've shared my written work with anyone so I'd like an honest opinion. As for the setting of the story, in the beginning I want everyone to think its a genuine fantasy story, but as I go through it I'll drop hints (with linguistics and the general setting- particularly flora and fauna) to make the reader realize this takes place in the real world with an alternate history (It actually takes place on an unknown island in the Arabian Sea.) I'll keep these kind of short. Here goes!


Chapter 1: The Pocket Watch
Excerpt 1

Through a foggy, crowded, narrow street a dark form passed by unnoticed. It was the very crack of dawn, the velvety sky now tinged with rose and peach, and no direct sunlight yet hit the worn and dirty cobblestone paths of Auruma. The buildings were tall and stern and they cast the streets in shadow for most of the day. This shadow among shadows moved quickly through the streams of grumpy, tired people who were rushing to work. It was the perfect time of day. They were half asleep on their feet and the dense fog which rolled off the mountains obscured their vision. By the time the shadow reached the end of the road and slipped into a back street, six unsuspecting men and women had lost their wallets or purses. The small form, cloaked in dark brown, emptied their contents greedily into a satchel tied to her waist. She then discarded them in the street unceremoniously before disappearing deeper into the back alley.

Once she was several blocks away Evelina dared to lower the hood of her cloak. She wiped the sweat from her brow, cursing the heat so early in the morning. The alley was full of sleeping people. Some reeked of booze and most hadn't bathed in some time. Knowing well the sort that called this area home, she decided that counting up her earnings here was not the best idea. She climbed her way up an old brick wall and claimed sanctuary on the roof of a bakery. The smells of baking bread wafted up and tempted her. She opened her satchel and counted her reward. It wasn't much, but it was plenty enough for breakfast. People on this side of town didn't have much money in their pockets, which made her feel slightly guilty, but it was also practically devoid of police and that was important to a pickpocket. She squirreled the coins back into the satchel, hoping the boys wouldn't ask her where she got them. She didn't normally come here alone. It wasn't the safest of places- particularly for a fourteen year old girl, but no one had to know where she had done her shift; only that it was bountiful. Evelina slipped down from the roof and bought three flat breads from the bakery below. She then donned her hood once more and began heading home.

This part of the city- known as The Bottoms- was labyrinthine with small narrow streets shooting every which way- there was no order, no straight lines. There had been no planning and it fanned out and grew larger with each passing year. The city had started as a logging town, and as they cleared more forest the city expanded. Many streets didn't even have a name. The buildings in this area were old and falling apart, and others were nothing more than shacks set up in-between. Most were two to three stories to accommodate the large population and even so the number of homeless people was staggering. The back alleys were even more confusing but Evelina knew them well. She walked hurriedly, hood up, her keen brown eyes wary of anything that moved and searching for ill intent. No one really saw her pass. Being inconspicuous was a talent of hers.

Evelina lived at the border between the Bottoms and a slightly wealthier area, currently in an condemned building (but of course that was subject to change). She scurried into the back where a pile of collected crates made a haphazard staircase to a second floor window. It had been bashed in at some point. They had cleared the glass of course and it was pretty much the front door. The real front door was boarded up with a warning sign and they wanted it to stay that way. “They” included her two older brothers Andon and Silas. Evelina slipped quietly in through the window with her prize, beaming at the two boys still sleeping on the floor. Andon was curled up against the wall in a blanket cocoon and Silas was laying in a very awkward, sprawled out position. His mouth was wide open, collecting flies, and to Evelina it looked like someone had shot him dead and left him like that. She sat against the wall under the window and pulled off her cloak. She didn't wear it because it was cold. It was actually rather uncomfortable. The weather was warm and muggy year round. Evelina took out her flat bread which was powdered with sugar and cinnamon, knowing it was only a matter of time until the smell woke the others. Silas was the first. He was usually up before Evelina, but today was a special day. He sat up and stretched before looking tiredly at his sister.

Vasquez
December 21st, 2012, 01:50 AM
It looks as through my first reply didn't take. So, if this is redundant, I apologize. TO THE WORLD.

i really like this! I think the poverty stricken area is well drawn so far. I already like this young thief of yours. I'd like to know more!

StoneFrog
December 21st, 2012, 02:05 PM
A personal wanting i found while reading, is that i wanted more colour and emotion of the city. Especially the bakery felt a bit like a stage prop, and i found myself trying to find an image to fit the bakery. I very much liked the character, and got a good impression of the social dynamic of her and her brothers. A question are there others sleeping in the building? Since you referred to "matter of time until the smell woke the others" if not if seems a bit odd to use 'others'. I hope to read more about this pickpocket, i very much enjoyed it.

heir_of_isildur0
December 21st, 2012, 09:47 PM
This opening really does pull you in. It reminds me a bit of Aladdin lol. I'm wondering if she was taught how to be a thief or adapted to it naturally. Has she ever been caught or had close calls? Is there some policeman who would recognize her maybe? All these questions immediately come to the forefront after reading this. When questions like these start flowing it tells me that I'm very interested and want to read more of the story. Good job

Industrial
December 21st, 2012, 10:27 PM
The beginning sentence is sub-par but it will suffice to pull a reader into the story; don't get me wrong though keep toying with it; sometimes it is better to write the story and then go back and write an intro; making a perfect intro can be overwhelming!

While this story can bring a reader in, getting them to keep reading is another issue; due to grammatical inconsistencies and poor syntax I skip ahead, but I kept reading so technically you have acomplished your mission, but unfortunately you failed at translating the picture that you want into my head; I can tell that you have a very beautiful description of a city somewhere in there and the greatest shame of this story is that I know you have the ability to explain it to me better: coincidentally, successfully doing what I told you will make me want to keep reading and produce a better story.

Mellifera
December 22nd, 2012, 12:40 AM
Thank you very much for all the feedback! I'm going to try and flesh out her surroundings a bit more. Its been a looong time since I wrote descriptions and I'm out of practice.

@Industrial, thank you for your frank opinion. I'm going to try and fix it up now that I have the whole chapter finished. As for the grammar and syntax, that's always been my Achilles heel.

monseratthefool
December 22nd, 2012, 03:47 AM
Mellifera,

The pacing and introduction of the protagonist were well-executed, and I'm didn't get snagged anywhere as I read. The story is familiar to others like it, so I might suggest throwing in some unusual things to make the story sparkle a little, like something strange and interesting she finds in one of the wallets. Perhaps an interesting way to give more description of the city is to have her go through the contents of some of the wallets and find telling artifacts...it could be a useful plot device for telling more about the city.

One little nitpick...in paragraph one is the phrase, "It was the perfect time of day", and just a moment later, the protagonist was cursing the day and its heat. Seems to run into itself a little, to me.

Otherwise, very nice work!

Mellifera
December 22nd, 2012, 06:26 AM
@monseratthefool
Yeah I should probably mention that it's just the cloak making her feel hot. Thanks for pointing that out. As for adding a bit of mystique, things get pretty strange throughout the first chapter. This is just the first couple of paragraphs. I suppose I could hint at it earlier, just to get people's attention. I just worry about putting out too much information all at once and overwhelming the reader. I do like the idea of her getting a better look at her rewards, if anything as an excuse to describe the people of Auruma in better detail.

lawful
December 22nd, 2012, 09:51 AM
I'm not by anyone's standards a literary genius nor a worthy critic but I enjoyed this short segment. Although I am aware this is just an introductory piece I was far more interested in the main character you described than the locale itself. I'd like to read more, mainly because of my interest in Evelina. But I will be honest, it's not the type of story I would normally go out and spend money on so hopefully you can show me why I would!

MBNewman
January 14th, 2013, 04:30 AM
Ah, a fellow author of the life of a pickpocket and street urchin! I found myself smiling a some of the casual similarities between your work and my own, and thus I feel a little biased as I'm inclined to like it already. I agree that the introduction to Evelina was well-worded, but I do believe that you should keep up on building your world. Personally, in these scenarios, the city is just as important as the protagonist for a realistic portrayal of lowly urchin in the big, dirty, crime-ridden city.