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Circadian
December 31st, 2012, 08:53 PM
So here's a short excerpt from my work in progress, a fantasy novel called Keeper of the Silent Mourn. Feel free to tear it apart and make it bleed. Also, the main character is Serenade Orpheus and it is from her point of view.



"We gather to summon the spirit of Emily Malone," Mere began, his voice soft and hollow in the vast silence. Whatever accent he had was now thicker than it had been back at the hut. "She has been on her way for a few times past. Serenade Orpheus can lead her back."

"Right," said the younger man with the strangely black eyes. "The item."

I placed the photograph in the center of the circle, facing upwards. He made no comment about it, seeing as how photography did not exist in this reality. He merely glanced at it and understood. In order to bring back someone’s spirit, you had to have something that they cherished in life. I hadn’t thought about it before, but that was the reason all people had one item that served no purpose other than to be there. The crude carving I had seen in Mere’s hut could have been made by a close family member or a dear friend. Emily cherished her family, so I knew the photograph would be the ideal item for this strange ceremony.

The man then brought something out of a pocket and held it up. It was a perfectly rounded stone, as pale as Earth’s moon, but empty of light. He placed it right beside the photograph. "You wish to speak with her first?" His voice was light, matching Mere’s tone, but his accent was barely even there.

I thought that was an odd question. Why else would I want to see her? "Yes," I said.

"Then you will speak to her," he said. "But first, I must ask you a question. Was she content with her life?"

I paused to think. I recalled Leslie’s words. She was always happy. Even when she was dying…She had cancer…She seemed okay with that, as if she’d already accepted it.

"Yes," I replied. "She was happy."

"Then we, too, must be happy," he said, though his tone of voice was calm and patient, allowing no room for other emotions. "We must feel what she felt, feel the warmth she had in life. And Serenade," he added, looking at me with those unblinking black eyes. "Prepare to accept her soul."

I gulped. I’d never done this before. But it was too late to back down now. All I could do was wait and watch and go with whatever happened.

"We accept her voice, that she might always be heard," the man uttered, closing his eyes.

Next to him, the woman with the cropped hair said, "We accept her eyes, that she might always see."

"We accept her ears, that she might always hear," said the older man with the missing finger.

"We accept her body, that she might always feel," said the short man, closing his eyes in his turn.

"We accept her mind, that she might always know," said Mere, the next in line.

The woman with the curly hair closed her eyes and said, "We accept her heart, that she might always love."

I felt the light crackle in the air, the slight breeze that ruffled the edges of my hair. I felt the anticipation in the gazes of the moons and in the skittering leaves and in the soft breathing of all those around me. The words came unbidden to my lips. "I accept her soul," I said, gently closing my own eyes so that I might feel the electric chill all the more strongly. "So that she may never be forgotten."

All at once, I felt a warmth flow through me and suddenly I was bursting with energy. It didn’t matter that I had had a long and trying day. The energy flowed through me, crackling at my fingertips and raising the hairs on the back of my neck. It was as if I had been charged by the power of the sun. Not a noonday sun, which saps your strength, or the setting sun which signals the time of rest. It was the energy of the rising sun, filling me up until rest was the last thing on my mind. I felt as if I had the strength to run a hundred miles, to climb to the very top of the highest tower in the city and I would never be tired.

I felt myself smiling and realized that I was happy though I did not know the reason. I glimpsed flashes of my life through a stranger’s eyes. Grandfather ruffling my hair and saying something funny, the words of which have been entirely forgotten. The smell of lemon cakes and toffee. The even earlier memory of a voice, a female voice that sounded familiar but was at the same time unknown to me.

And finally I saw the laughing woman and her husband and their child and realized that Emily’s happiness had affected me and had become my happiness too.

I opened my eyes and there before me, the round stone was glowing softly, like the light of a silver moon. I thought I caught a flicker of movement but it was just a thin layer of fog, which had rolled in while I’d had my eyes closed. I felt its stickiness against my skin, inhaled warm beads of moisture that coated my throat and felt thick and like rain, settling in my lungs. But I did not choke on it.

Then I saw it again, the movement, just a shiver, but it was there. I heard laughter that only I could hear, saw a spark in the mist that only I could see. The fog above the photograph and the gently glowing stone was taking on form. It was wonderful and scary at the same time.



I might add some more later on.

~Circe

SarahStrange
December 31st, 2012, 11:59 PM
I really like this so far. The description is quiet good and isn't too dull or flowery, but just right. The dialogue flows well. The actual story is interesting as well.

However, the syntax and actual structuring gets better as the story goes on. Near the beginning you use some unnecessary words in sentences and even a few unnecessary sentences that don't hinder it too much but make it flow slower, than I think you want. For example, small things such as:

"I placed the photograph in the center of the circle, facing upwards. He made no comment about it, seeing as how photography did not exist in this reality. He merely glanced at it and understood. In order to bring back someone’s spirit, you had to have something that they cherished in life. I hadn’t thought about it before, but that was the reason all people had one item that served no purpose other than to be there. The crude carving I had seen in Mere’s hut could have been made by a close family member or a dear friend. ( <--- I don't know if this is mentioned in previous sections or not, but it doen't really fit in this paragraph. This sentence seems random in a paragraph mainly about the picture.) Emily cherished her family, so I knew the photograph would be the ideal item for this strange ceremony."

***
"His voice was light, matching Mere’s tone, but his accent was barely even there (You already mentioned that his accent is diminished in the first? paragraph.)"

***
"...he said, though his tone of voice was calm and patient, allowing no room for other emotions (you don't need this. The reader assumes that if he is alread calm and patient he isn't displaying any other emotions. If you mean to convey that he is in charge and will have nothing but calmness and patience in the ceremony, I'd suggest expanding on that with further description/observation from the narrator)."

I usually read through my stories aloud and think will the reader understand what I'm saying without that particular sentence/word? Is it just clutter or important? Its usually just clutter for me lol.

Over all, its very enjoyable! Good job :)

Ilasir Maroa
January 4th, 2013, 05:23 AM
"We gather "here"? to summon the spirit of Emily Malone," Mere began, his voice soft and hollow in the vast silence. Whatever accent he had was now thicker than it had been back at the hut. "She has been on her way for a few times past.I don't know what this sentence means. Has it been awhile since she died? Serenade Orpheus can lead her back." I'm wondering if there are supposed to be aspects of parody in this story? "Serenade Orpheus" seems a rather odd name.

"Right," said the younger man with the strangely black eyes. What younger man? Give a name maybe, and a relative position. "The item."

I placed the photograph in the center of the circle, facing upwards. He made no comment about it, seeing as how photography did not exist in this reality. He merely glanced at it and understood. In order to bring back someone’s spirit, you had to have something that they cherished in life. I hadn’t thought about it before, but that was the reason all people had one item that served no purpose other than to be there. The crude carving I had seen in Mere’s hut could have been made by a close family member or a dear friend. Emily cherished her family, so I knew the photograph would be the ideal item for this strange ceremony.

The man then brought something out of a pocket and held it up. It was a perfectly rounded stone, as pale as Earth’s moon, but empty of light. He placed it right beside the photograph. "You wish to speak with her first?" His voice was light, matching Mere’s tone, but his accent was barely even there.

I thought that was an odd question. Why else would I want to see her? "Yes," I said.

"Then you will speak to her," he said. "But first, I must ask you a question. Was she content with her life?"

I paused to think. I recalled Leslie’s words. She was always happy. Even when she was dying…She had cancer…She seemed okay with that, as if she’d already accepted it.

"Yes," I replied. "She was happy."

"Then we, too, must be happy," he said, though his tone of voice was calm and patient, allowing no room for other emotions. "though" Should his vice not sound like that? It seems reasonable to me... "We must feel what she felt, feel the warmth she had in life. And Serenade," he added, looking at me with those unblinking black eyes.comma? and lowercase p? "Prepare to accept her soul."

I gulped. I’d never done this before. But it was too late to back down now. All I could do was wait and watch and go with whatever happened.

"We accept her voice, that she might always be heard," the man uttered, closing his eyes.

Next to him, the woman with the cropped hair said, "We accept her eyes, that she might always see."

"We accept her ears, that she might always hear," said the older man with the missing finger.

"We accept her body, that she might always feel," said the short man, closing his eyes in his turn.

"We accept her mind, that she might always know," said Mere, the next in line.

The woman with the curly hair closed her eyes and said, "We accept her heart, that she might always love."

I felt the light crackle in the air, the slight breeze that ruffled the edges of my hair. I felt the anticipation in the gazes of the moons and in the skittering leaves and in the soft breathing of all those around me. The words came unbidden to my lips. "I accept her soul," I said, gently closing my own eyes so that I might feel the electric chill all the more strongly. "So that she may never be forgotten."

All at once, I felt a warmth flow through me and suddenly I was bursting with energy. It didn’t matter that I had had a long and trying day. The energy flowed through me, crackling at my fingertips and raising the hairs on the back of my neck. It was as if I had been charged by the power of the sun. Not a noonday sun, which saps your strength, or the setting sun which signals the time of rest. It was the energy of the rising sun, filling me up until rest was the last thing on my mind. I felt as if I had the strength to run a hundred miles, to climb to the very top of the highest tower in the city and I would never be tired.

I felt myself smiling and realized that I was happy though I did not know the reason. I glimpsed flashes of my life through a stranger’s eyes. Grandfather ruffling my hair and saying something funny, the words of which have been entirely forgotten. The smell of lemon cakes and toffee. The even earlier memory of a voice, a female voice that sounded familiar but was at the same time unknown to me.

And finally I saw the laughing woman and her husband and their child and realized that Emily’s happiness had affected me and had become my happiness too.

I opened my eyes and there before me, the round stone was glowing softly, like the light of a silver moon. I thought I caught a flicker of movement but it was just a thin layer of fog, which had rolled in while I’d had my eyes closed. I felt its stickiness against my skin, inhaled warm beads of moisture that coated my throat and felt thick and like rain, settling in my lungs. But I did not choke on it.

Then I saw it again, the movement, just a shiver, but it was there. I heard laughter that only I could hear, saw a spark in the mist that only I could see. The fog above the photograph and the gently glowing stone was taking on form. It was wonderful and scary at the same time.

~Circe


Wow, that was very nice. I had some minor technical quibbles, but for the most part, the voice and the imagery were very well-done.

BenTurnbull
January 10th, 2013, 08:58 AM
So here's a short excerpt from my work in progress, a fantasy novel called Keeper of the Silent Mourn. Feel free to tear it apart and make it bleed. Also, the main character is Serenade Orpheus and it is from her point of view.

Where in the larger narrative does this scene take place? I think it has potential, but context is needed.

"We gather to summon the spirit of Emily Malone," Mere began, his voice soft and hollow in the vast silence. Whatever accent he had was now thicker than it had been back at the hut. "She has been on her way for a few times past. Serenade Orpheus can lead her back."

"Right," said the younger man with the strangely black eyes. "The item."

I placed the photograph in the center of the circle, facing upwards. He made no comment about it, seeing as how photography did not exist in this reality. This doesn't work. Despite the non-existence of photography in this realm...He merely glanced at it and understood. In order to bring back someone’s spirit, you had to have something that they cherished in life. I hadn’t thought about it before, but that was the reason all people had one item that served no purpose other than to be there. This feels clunky. I understand what you mean, but I feel you could word this more accurately. Most homes I know of have plenty of items that serve no functional purpose, and yet resurrections are not a common occurrence. The crude carving I had seen in Mere’s hut could have been made by a close family member or a dear friend. Emily cherished her family, so I knew the photograph would be the ideal item for this strange ceremony.

The man then brought something out of a pocket and held it up. It was a perfectly rounded stone, as pale as Earth’s moon, but empty of light. I feel that "empty of light" is an unnecessary description. Might be nitpicking though. He placed it right beside the photograph. "You wish to speak with her first?" His voice was light, matching Mere’s tone, but his accent was barely even there.

I thought that was an odd question. Why else would I want to see her? "Yes," I said.

"Then you will speak to her," he said. "But first, I must ask you a question. Was she content with her life?" You wish to speak with her first, and moments later Then you will speak to her, but first... I'd reword to avoid the repetition.

I paused to think. I recalled Leslie’s words. She was always happy. Even when she was dying…She had cancer…She seemed okay with that, as if she’d already accepted it.

"Yes," I replied. "She was happy."

"Then we, too, must be happy," he said, though his tone of voice was calm and patient, allowing no room for other emotions. "We must feel what she felt, feel the warmth she had in life. And Serenade," he added, looking at me with those unblinking black eyes. "Prepare to accept her soul."

I gulped. I’d never done this before. But it was too late to back down now. All I could do was wait and watch and go with whatever happened.

"We accept her voice, that she might always be heard," the man uttered, closing his eyes.

Next to him, the woman with the cropped hair said, "We accept her eyes, that she might always see."

"We accept her ears, that she might always hear," said the older man with the missing finger.

"We accept her body, that she might always feel," said the short man, closing his eyes in his turn.

"We accept her mind, that she might always know," said Mere, the next in line.

The woman with the curly hair closed her eyes and said, "We accept her heart, that she might always love."

Do we know more about the size and composition of the group in the preceding text?

I felt the light I first read this as light(luminescence) crackling, I liked it, if you want it the way I think you actually intended, replace the first two instances of 'the' in this sentence with 'a' crackle in the air, the slight breeze that ruffled the edges of my hair. I felt the anticipation in the gazes of the moons and in the skittering leaves and in the soft breathing of all those around me. Awkward wording. Try something like... The moons gazed on in anticipation as fallen leaves skittered anxiously, stirred by the restless breath of my companions. The words came unbidden to my lips. "I accept her soul," Would read better as The words, "I accept her soul so that she may never be forgotten," came unbidden to my lips. I said, gently closing my own eyes so that I might feel the electric chill all the more strongly. "So that she may never be forgotten."

All at once, I felt a warmth flow through me and suddenly I was bursting with energy. Bursting with energy is boring, you have good description in other places and I feel you can do better here. Try a metaphor. It didn’t matter that I had had a long and trying day that the day had been long and trying. The energy flowed through me, crackling at my fingertips and raising the hairs on the back of my neck. It was as if I had been charged by the power of the sun. Not a noonday sun, which saps your strength, or the setting sun which signals the time of rest. It was the energy of the rising sun, filling me up until rest was the last thing on my mind. I felt as if I had the strength to run a hundred miles, to climb to the very top of the highest tower in the city and I would never be tired.

I felt myself smiling and realized that I was happy though I did not know the reason. I glimpsed flashes of my life through a stranger’s eyes. Grandfather ruffling my hair and saying something funny, the words of which have been entirely forgotten. The smell of lemon cakes and toffee. The even earlier memory of a voice, a female voice that sounded familiar but was at the same time unknown to me.

And finally I saw the laughing woman and her husband and their child and realized that Emily’s happiness had affected me and had become my happiness too.

I opened my eyes and there before me, the round stone was glowing softly, like the light of a silver moon. Too easy of a description and it clashes with your previous statement about the stone, try something more original. I thought I caught a flicker of movement but it was just a thin layer of fog, which had rolled in while I’d had my eyes closed. I felt its stickiness against my skin, inhaled warm beads of moisture that coated my throat and felt thick and like rain, settling in my lungs. But I did not choke on it. An example of metaphor instead of simile: I breathed in the gathering fog, swallowed the hovering cloud, and felt warm beads of moisture rain down my throat into my lungs.

Then I saw it again, the movement, just a shiver, but it was there. I heard laughter that only I could hear, saw a spark in the mist that only I could see. The fog above the photograph and the gently glowing stone was taking on form. It was wonderful and scary at the same time.



I might add some more later on.

~Circe

Again, I feel potential here, but tighter description would improve the piece greatly. Make us feel things differently.

Circadian
January 10th, 2013, 10:32 PM
Thanks for the feedback. And sorry about the whole context/mysterious group of people bit. I actually do have a detailed description of the reality in which this takes place as well as detailed introductions for the necromancers, earlier on in this chapter. I didn't give them names because I felt it would confuse the story. Except for Mere, they only appear in this one scene, so I felt their names were not important. It makes a bit more sense if you understand the simplicity of this world.

@BenTurnbull: You must have put quite some thought into this critique. You totally pointed out some stuff that I had never noticed before, like the non-existence of photography sentence. Thank you for this in depth review and I will definitely consider your suggestions.

~Circe