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View Full Version : Brookrow Bastard: Sins of the Father (Mild Language)



MBNewman
January 14th, 2013, 07:13 AM
UPDATE: New rewrite on post #11

I have been anxious to get some feedback, criticisms, or, dare I say, even kudos. If you've decide at any point during your read to slander it profusely, feel free to do so. I am looking for, quite honestly, any sort of feedback. A preemptive "much obliged" to all those who read my work, and a double helping of "thank you" to those who offer any sort of advice.
P.s. I cut it off half way, because it's fairly long. Will post second half when necessary.


The Brookrow Bastard:
I: Sins of the Father


Not every question can be answered. Sometimes the world is just unclear.

A wise friend once told me this a long time ago. I quote this to describe life—my life, to be exact. My life has never been ordinary, but, then again, I’ve never expected it to be.

I’m not a noble knight, or a wealthy lord, nor the son of either. I wasn’t born unto the nobility, nor the royalty, nor was I lucky enough to be born into their servitude. As a child I was the lowliest of the low, like the leper, an outcast, and that didn’t change much when I matured. I always believed that I was special, that I was meant for more than what I had. What I didn’t know was that I was right.

My name is Killian Todd, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my life that I would want you to take to heart, it’s this: Keep your friends close, and stab your enemies with a stiletto; may be the only way to survive these dark days.

In my younger, shorter, beardless days, I found that I was shunned by the wealthy, shooed by the merchants, beaten by the strong, ignored by the important, and otherwise stepped-on. That never stopped me, being stubborn had always been a strong suit of mine.

I wasn’t born a killer, no one is. Maybe it’s because my parents weren’t encouraging, loving, caring, nurturing, or at all parent-like. I couldn’t blame them much, because they weren’t around. I’m sure at least my mother may have raised me to be a good, hard-working man who benefited society, but that didn’t happen. So, who’s to say what I should be?

I’m told that my father met my mother when he saved her from a mugging in Dockside, not entirely uncommon in that particular part of the city. As the stories go, she fell in love with her rescuer. After a short while together, my father impregnated my mother, and a few precious months later she birthed yours truly. I’m told that they were not married, so, of all the insults that have been cast my way, “bastard” is one that’s the most relevant.
My mother was overjoyed with me, blessed to have a son. She loved and cared for me in the time we spent together. My father, however, might have cared less, having only a hint of curiosity as to how much he could bet me off at the tables. My father loved only gambling, and the rush he got from gambling. It was his drug of choice, and how oft he craved the high. Whenever we had a shred of money, he gambled it away the second he got an opportunity. He wasn’t a bad gambler, but it’s all up to chance, isn’t it?

There were many nights when my mother and I went hungry because of his problem, but that never stopped him. Away from whatever he could win from the games—if he did—my father’s source of income was as a carpenter. He built tables, and chairs, and other furnishings for the rich and the not. It wasn’t the highest paying job, sometimes it could be hard to find work, and with my father’s addiction, money could become tight, and when money was tight, my father got mean.

You see, I loved my mother, and my father loved my mother, but my father never seemed to love me all that much, or at least he had a funny way of showing it. Like most children, I did what I was told to do, or I was beaten. However, my father was different, because even if I did what I was told, sometimes he’d hit me for no other reason than to just to remind me that he could. When the recessions came, when money was scant, and with three lives depending on his income, we fell on hard times, and that did nothing to improve his ever sour mood. My mother would cry when she’d find the bruises.
Despite the money problems we’d been facing, my father couldn’t get away from his addiction, and would often choose the high over food for his wife and son. The gods must have decided to punish him, and so he lost, and he lost, until the little stream of money we had become naught but a trickle. It’s only too bad that the gods forgot that we depended on him. My father didn’t blame the gods for his curse, oh no. He blamed his sudden loss of luck on me.
On the anniversary of my sixth year gracing this world, my father had still not given up his addiction. Not even for that special day. Before he would return home to celebrate with his family, my father decided to go to a gambling house. He must have figured he could win, and use the prize money to make his only child’s birthday the grandest one, to buy his beautiful wife a new dress with which she could only improve upon her beauty, and we would be a happy, blessed family.

Grand in theory, but that’s never how the story goes.

His wife did not get a beautiful new dress, and his son did not get the grandest of celebrations. This day my father lost a particularly large sum, and, upon his return, he blamed it on me. He cursed me for his luck. He said that it was the gods will that I be taken from this world, that I was the reason he could not support his family. On the day of my birth, my father tried to atone for his sins, and revel in the day of my death. When my mother intervened to protect her brood, he killed her for it. He took his whittling knife and gutted her like a dog. He must have been shocked at the realization of what he had done to his beautiful, innocent wife, the one of us that he had truly loved, for he fled then, and I was left alone to cry, and ask my mother why, oh why, she would not get up.

My father played his final game of chance on the run from the Watch, but his luck must’ve truly run dry when he faced the executioner’s block.
I suppose you’re wondering what happened to their young son? I had gone to the neighboring house, asking for help, and the kind old widow who lived there called for the Watch. The Watchmen came, cleaned up the mess, and reassured me that my father would be caught. The widow asked to take me in, and the Watchmen didn’t give a damn, so I spent the next few months residing with the lonely old widow, helping her with chores as she helped me to recover from my emotional pains, as well as offering her companionship and sharing in mine.

Regrettably, she passed on not long after, peacefully in the night, knowing that at least someone in the world had cared enough to cry at her deathbed. She was gone, joining my mother in the Halls of the Dead, and laughing at my father, who I can only hope is rotting in the deepest depths of the Infernal Abyss.
I’m certain that whatever emotional sanity I had at that point was far from the norm. I had a lot of time to think about my mother and that kind old widow who passed peacefully in the night, those who had cared for me, who were now gone from my life. I was left to that last people who would take me, the last resort before a life, or a quick death, on the cold streets of Irianna. I was brought to an orphanage that was run by the acolytes of Po, the God of Charity, Lord of the Less Fortunate.

The orphanage, though my last resort, was only supposed to be a temporary home. I was not getting any younger, and the orphanage could only afford to support those who could not support themselves. But until that time, I was told that Po was more than happy to bring me into His fold. I was not on good terms with the gods, so I rejected Him, despite His charity. The brothers and sisters of the orphanage always told me that even if I didn’t believe the gods were watching over me, even if the other gods had abandoned me that Po would always remain beside me. Every time they told me this, I would ask them where Po was when my father lost his money, when he raised the knife to my mother, when the kind old widow withered away? Always, they would respond with, “And yet you live on, is that not blessing enough?”

If living was the bright side, than I was sure that Po must have hated me.

On the night that I came to live in the orphanage, under Po’s gracious care, I was ushered in through the orphanage doors by two Watchmen, both of whom had showed no sympathy for my loss while taking me from the old widow’s home. As soon as the doors were opened, I was confronted by Mother of the orphanage, who welcomed with open arms. She was an elderly woman, her hair was silver, and she wore a pair of spectacles, over which she peered down at me.

“Is this the boy I was made aware of?” she asked, as if it were not obvious enough.

“Yes, Mother,” said the Watchmen on my right, the senior of the two.

The Mother reached into the purse she carried in her hand and withdrew two iron Tokens and gave them to the senior officer. The Watchman nodded, gave me a brief squeeze on the shoulder, and ushered me fully into the orphanage, before retreating out into the cold, grey streets of Irianna.

The Mother looked me over, and gave me a welcoming smile. “You are Killian Todd, yes?”

I showed no intention of speaking, and she took note of this. The Mother asked me, “You wish not to speak?” as if that were not obvious enough.

I shook my head to humor her. Her smile faltered, but did not flee entirely. She submitted, “Well, I simply cannot take you to your supper until I can put your name in the registry.” The Mother eyed me over thoroughly, continuing: “I suspect you will be quick to reconsider now?”

“Killian,” I whispered after a brief inner conflict, one side wishing to be stubborn, but hunger was getting the best of me. Not that I was sure I could even bring myself to eat, let alone enjoy a good meal. This past few months had left me sick to my stomach, and angry; angry at everything.

“A surname, perhaps?” the Mother mused.

“Todd.”

“Ah, so you are indeed the Todd boy that I’ve heard so much about,” she chuckled. “Then it is a pleasure to meet you my child.”

Again, I had no response for her. I had nothing to say to anyone. I didn’t even want to think, as my thoughts were as dark as my life seemed at the time.

“Your father donated some of his works here, a few years past. It was a kindness we intend to repay. It is unfortunate that your father…well, the incident—”

“Don’t talk about that bastard!” I cried sharply, when my rage had pent up more than I could handle.

The Mother was taken aback. She rubbed her wrinkled hands together sorrowfully. “My dear boy,” she whispered, lowering her head to look down upon me. “I know how you must feel about your father, and his…transgressions—”

“My father is a murderer!” I cut her off with a snarl, thrusting an accusing finger at her. “And you're sitting on benches made from his bloody hands.”

The Mother eyed me curiously. After a time, she offered a sagely response, “I agree completely,” she said, which put me off guard. “Your father made a terrible choice, and he shall be punished, lest he repent in the eyes of the gods.”

“How could the gods forgive him for what he’s done?” I exclaimed, the heat of anger rushing to my face.

“The gods know that everything happens for a reason. Not even the gods themselves can change fate, my dear boy. I can see now that it was fate that brought you to us. Had your father never donated his craft to us, you would not likely have had a place here. This world can be harsh, Killian Todd, and I know that, though you may not like the reasons now, you will find that there are good reasons for it.”

“What reason could be worth this?” I cried, tears streaming down my face now.

“Life is hard, Killian Todd,” said the Mother with a voice and expression hardened by years of suffering. “I know your pain, Killian. I, too, lost my mother and father to fate. I did not accept it so easily, either. I forsook the gods, blaming them for what had happened to my parents…but I learned, as you will learn, the foolishness of that. You must understand that there is a reason for it. For you, the reason may have yet to show itself, but for us, the reason is so that we may have you here with us. That is a blessing in itself.” Then she said gently, “Now come, I will give you a tour of your new home.”

I followed the Mother in submission to this fate. It’s not like I had anywhere else to go.

ktee
January 15th, 2013, 05:53 AM
I've given some comments below against your text.

A few general observations:
- you gloss over emotional and traumatic events with a brief description. This destroys any chance for your reader to emotionally connect with the protagonist and his story.
- you've covered A LOT of background. You need to flesh it out. I would break it up and put it in several places throughout the novel. I'm not sure what the main story is about - is this book an autobiography from the main character or is this leading up the "real story"?
- With so much backstory so early, I have no idea what kind of story this will be. If this was an ebook excerpt I don't know if I'd keep reading because i'm not sure what I'm getting into and it's pretty heavy going.

I really wanted to like this because I think there's potential. But every time there was an opportunity to connect with the protagonist's past or his emotions you skimmed over it. So I got a bit frustrated in some sections with my comments. But they're because I care, not because I don't like this.

I would strongly suggest you read The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss for a good example of a book about a recollected boyhood.


I have been anxious to get some feedback, criticisms, or, dare I say, even kudos. If you've decide at any point during your read to slander it profusely, feel free to do so. I am looking for, quite honestly, any sort of feedback. A preemptive "much obliged" to all those who read my work, and a double helping of "thank you" to those who offer any sort of advice.
P.s. I cut it off half way, because it's fairly long. Will post second half when necessary.


The Brookrow Bastard:
I: Sins of the Father


Not every question can be answered. Sometimes the world is just unclear.

A wise friend once told me this a long time ago. I quote this to describe life—my life, to be exact. My life has never been ordinary, but, then again, I’ve never expected it to be.

I’m not a noble knight, or a wealthy lord, nor the son of either. I wasn’t born unto the nobility, nor the royalty, nor was I lucky enough to be born into their servitude. As a child I was the lowliest of the low, like the leper, an outcast, and that didn’t change much when as I matured. I always believed that I was special, that I was meant for more than what I had. What I didn’t know was that I was right.

My name is Killian Todd, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my life that I would want you to take to heart, it’s this: Keep your friends close, and stab your enemies with a stiletto; it may be the only way to survive these dark days.

In my younger, shorter, beardless days, I found that I was shunned by the wealthy, shooed by the merchants, beaten by the strong, ignored by the important, and otherwise stepped-on [this seems like a repeat of the "born into nobility" section]. That never stopped me,; being stubborn had ["has" instead? I'm assuming the character still posesses stubbornness] always been a strong suit of mine.

I wasn’t born a killer, no one is. Maybe it’s because my parents weren’t encouraging, loving, caring, nurturing, or at all parent-like [you're giving away the background of the character like it's description of a landscape. (And his mother was caring). Readers need to get to know a character like they would a real person. It's hard to relate to him because there's no journey, no connection. If you want to reference what's coming say something like "I wasn't born a killer, no one is. But life isn't always kind"]. I couldn’t blame them much, because they weren’t around. I’m sure at least my mother may have raised me to be a good, hard-working man who benefited society, but that didn’t happen. So, who’s to say what I should be? [I would cut all of this because you're about to describe his parents]

I’m told [if you're going to say this you need to explain who told him later in the book, and this person needs to be important to the story, or hearing it must be important to the story] that my father met my mother when he saved her from a mugging in Dockside, not entirely uncommon in that particular part of the city. As the stories go, she fell in love with her rescuer [why? How?]. After a short while together, my father impregnated my mother [very clinical description], and a few precious months [why precious? Whose perspective is this from? You can't throw statements around like this without explaining the hows and whys] later she birthed yours truly [this casual language doesn't gel with the "oft" etc language]. I’m told that they were not married, so, of all the insults that have been cast my way, “bastard” is one that’s the most relevant [accurate or relevant? Relevant implies that the character had an emotional response/connection to that insult and effected his life/journey the most] .

My mother was overjoyed with me, blessed to have a son. She loved and cared for me in the time we spent together. My father, however, might couldn't have cared less, having only a hint of curiosity as to how much he could bet me off [I don't know what this means] at the tables. My father loved only gambling [later you say he loved the boy's mother also, in red], and the rush he got from it gambling. It was his drug of choice, and how oft he craved the high. Whenever we had a shred of money, he gambled it away the second he got an opportunity. He wasn’t a bad gambler, but it’s all up to chance, isn’t it?

There were many nights when my mother and I went hungry because of his problem, but that never stopped him. Away from whatever he could win from the games—if he did—my father’s source of income was as a carpenter. He built tables, and chairs, and other furnishings for the rich and the not. It wasn’t the highest paying job, sometimes it could be hard to find work, and with my father’s addiction, money could become tight, and when money was tight, my father got mean.

You see, I loved my mother, and my father loved my mother, but my father never seemed to love me all that much, or at least he had a funny way of showing it. Like most children, I did what I was told to do, or I was beaten. However, my father was different, because even if I did what I was told, sometimes he’d hit me for no other reason than to just to remind me that he could. When the recessions came, when money was scant, and with three lives depending on his income, we fell on even harder times [you've already it was tough for them], and that did nothing to improve his ever sour mood. My mother would cry when she’d find the bruises on me.

Despite the our money problems we’d been facing, my father couldn’t get away from his addiction, and would often choose the high over food for his wife and son [this is already implied and stated before]. The gods must have decided to punish him, and so he lost, and he lost, until the little stream of money we had become naught but a trickle. It’s only too bad that the gods forgot that we depended on him. My father didn’t blame the gods for his curse, oh no.; Hhe blamed his sudden loss of luck on me.

On the anniversary of my sixth year gracing this world [gives the impression of arrogance. But that could be intentional], my father had still not given up his addiction. Not even for that special day. Before he would returned home to celebrate with his family, my father decided to go to a gambling house. He must have figured he could win, and use the prize money to make his only child’s birthday the grandest one [but before you've said he didn't love the protagonist. Also, did he say this? How would the protagonist know this?], to buy his beautiful wife a new dress with which she could only improve upon her beauty, and we would be a happy, blessed family.

Grand in theory, but that’s never how the story goes.

His wife did not get a beautiful new dress, and his son did not get the grandest of celebrations. This day my father lost a particularly large sum, and, upon his return, he blamed it on me. He cursed me for his luck. He said that it was the god's will that I be taken from this world, that I was the reason he could not support his family. On the day of my birth, my father tried to atone for his sins, and revel [explain what this means - this is a huge, and emotionally traumatic experience for a child. Go into detail] in the day of my death. When my mother intervened to protect her brood [describe this scene for emotional impact. Also definition of brood = a number of young], he killed her for it. He took his whittling knife and gutted her like a dog [describe in more detail including the child's emotional reaction] . He must have been shocked [describe in more detail. What was his reaction when he saw what he'd done? what did the boy see?] at the realization of what he had done to his beautiful, innocent wife, the one of us that he had truly loved, for he fled then, and I was left alone to cry [describe this! The emotions, the raw image of a child with a running nose, tears, blood on his clothes as he sits by the intestines of his mother - this is the scene you've suggested, now make the reader feel the horror] , and ask my mother why, oh why, she would not get up.

My father played his final game of chance on the run from the Watch, but his luck must’ve truly run dry when he faced the executioner’s block [how did he get there?].

I suppose you’re wondering what happened to their young son? I had gone to the neighboring house, asking for help [emotions and more description please] , and the kind old widow who lived there called for the Watch [you may answer this later, but how does one call for the Watch in this world?] . The Watchmen came, cleaned up the mess [protagonist's mother? Is that how he would describe her? A mess??], and reassured me that my father would be caught. The widow asked to take me in, and the Watchmen didn’t give a damn, so I spent the next few months residing with the lonely old widow, helping her with chores as she helped me to recover from my emotional pains [what does "emotional pains" mean/look like?? How does a child recover from that in a few months?] , as well as offering her companionship [this could be one whole chunk of backstory put into another part of the book. What was this relationship? how did the child recover? what were is emotional scars? what was her backstory?] and sharing in mine.

Regrettably [very passive word. No sadness? This woman helped him recover, was family after his mother's death. Wouldn't he feel something more?], she passed on not long after, peacefully in the night [did the boy find her dead? he must of since they lived together. That must have been traumatic.], knowing that at least someone in the world had cared enough to cry at her deathbed. She was gone, joining my mother in the Halls of the Dead, and laughing at my father, who I can only hope is rotting in the deepest depths of the Infernal Abyss.

I’m certain that whatever emotional sanity I had at that point was far from the norm [argh describe!! emotions, actions, dreams, revenge fantasies, over reactions...] . I had a lot of time to think about my mother and that kind old widow who passed peacefully in the night, those who had cared for me, who were now gone from my life. I was left to that the last people who would take me, the last resort before a life, or a quick death, on the cold streets of Irianna. I was brought to an orphanage that was run by the acolytes of Po, the God of Charity, Lord of the Less Fortunate.

The orphanage, though my last resort, was only supposed to be a temporary home. I was not getting any younger, and the orphanage could only afford to support those who could not support themselves. But until that time, I was told that Po was more than happy to bring me into His fold. I was not on good terms with the gods [this is so passive for a rage that must have been immense. This could be another section of background - Life at the orphanage, the conflicting greatfulness/hatred towards Po because of his charity but link to the Gods. This could be a place to really explore the protagonist's dark side, source of rage, and understand the boy who is turning into a killer. I would incorporate the "on the night..." section into this separate recollection] , so I rejected Him, despite His charity. The brothers and sisters of the orphanage always told me that even if I didn’t believe the gods were watching over me, even if the other gods had abandoned me that Po would always remain beside me. Every time they told me this, I would ask them where Po was when my father lost his money, when he raised the knife to my mother, when the kind old widow withered away? Always, they would respond with, “And yet you live on, is that not blessing enough?”

If living was the bright side the blessing, thaen I was sure that Po must have hated me.

On the night that I came to live in the orphanage, under Po’s gracious care, I was ushered in through the orphanage doors by two Watchmen, both of whom had showed no sympathy for my loss while when taking me from the old widow’s home. As soon as the doors were opened, I was confronted by Mother of the orphanage, who welcomed me with open arms. She was an elderly woman, her hair was silver, and she wore a pair of spectacles, over which she peered down at me.

“Is this the boy I was made aware of?” she asked, as if it were not obvious enough.

“Yes, Mother,” said the Watchmen on my right, the senior of the two.

The Mother reached into the purse she carried in her hand and withdrew two iron Tokens and gave them to the senior officer. The Watchman nodded, gave me a brief squeeze on the shoulder [needs some comment about the fact that they had shown no sympathy before, but he received a small kindness here], and ushered me fully into the orphanage, before retreating out into the cold, grey streets of Irianna [there was no description of his home (with his mother and father) and it's place in Irianna. As a reader I want this].

The Mother looked me over, and gave me a welcoming smile. “You are Killian Todd, yes?”

I showed no intention of speaking, and she took note of this. The Mother asked me, “You wish not to speak?” as if that were not obvious enough [you've used this exact phrase above].

I shook my head to humor her. Her smile faltered, but did not flee entirely. She submitted, “Well, I simply cannot take you to your supper until I can put your name in the registry.” The Mother eyed me over thoroughly, continuing: “I suspect you will be quick to reconsider now?”

“Killian,” I whispered after a brief inner conflict,; one side wishing to be stubborn, but hunger was getting the best of me. Not that I was sure I could even bring myself to eat, let alone enjoy a good meal. This past few months had left me sick to my stomach, and angry; angry at everything [you can't just say he's angry and expect the reader to feel connected with his anger. This needs to be explored in the above descriptions of events].

“A surname, perhaps?” the Mother mused.

“Todd.”

“Ah, so you are indeed the Todd boy that I’ve heard so much about,” she chuckled. “Then it is a pleasure to meet you my child.”

Again, I had no response for her. I had nothing to say to anyone. I didn’t even want to think, as my thoughts were as dark as my life seemed at the time.

“Your father donated some of his works here, a few years past. It was a kindness we intend to repay. It is unfortunate that your father…well, the incident—”

“Don’t talk about that bastard!” I cried sharply, when my rage had pent up more than I could handle.

The Mother was taken aback. She rubbed her wrinkled hands together sorrowfully. “My dear boy,” she whispered, lowering her head to look down upon me. “I know how you must feel about your father, and his…transgressions—”

“My father is a murderer!” I cut her off with a snarl, thrusting an accusing finger at her. “And you're sitting on benches made from his bloody hands.”

The Mother eyed me with curiosity curiously. After a time, she offered a sagely response, “I agree completely,” she said, which put me off guard. “Your father made a terrible choice, and he shall be punished, lest he repent in the eyes of the gods.”

“How could the gods forgive him for what he’s done?” I exclaimed, the heat of anger rushing to my face.

“The gods know that everything happens for a reason. Not even the gods themselves can change fate, my dear boy. I can see now that it was fate that brought you to us. Had your father never donated his craft to us, you would not likely have had a place here. This world can be harsh, Killian Todd, and I know that, though you may not like the reasons now, you will find that there are good reasons for it.”

“What reason could be worth this?” I cried, tears streaming down my face now.

“Life is hard, Killian Todd,” said the Mother with a voice and expression hardened by years of suffering. “I know your pain, Killian. I, too, lost my mother and father to fate. I did not accept it so easily, either. I forsook the gods, blaming them for what had happened to my parents…but I learned, as you will learn, the foolishness folly of that. You must understand that there is a reason for it this. For you, the reason may have yet to show itself, but for us, the reason is so that we may have you here with us. That is a blessing in itself.” Then she said gently, “Now come, I will give you a tour of your new home.”

I followed the Mother in submission to this fate. It’s not like I had anywhere else to go.

MBNewman
January 15th, 2013, 06:15 AM
Thank you, ktee. I posted this segment knowing it would need a lot of work, as it is the oldest piece of writing in my book. It is however, in essence, only a introductory piece to the book, and it jumps right into the action from there. You've given a lot of good pointers, and I will definitely go about reworking the intro.

ktee
January 15th, 2013, 06:47 AM
I hope I wasn't too harsh! I did some units at university in creative writing and this is how we critiqued each other - a pen and printout and then free reign to comment. I actually like the piece, otherwise I wouldn't comment. And if you post more from the book I'd love to read it.

MBNewman
January 15th, 2013, 07:09 AM
Already working on the rewrite, starting fresh with it. I'll post the rewrite when I feel it's ready. I'll also try to put up some "in the moment" pieces later.

Elizabeth Dawson
January 15th, 2013, 08:49 AM
I completely agree with Ktee, though I must say content wise I am intrigued. I think you have the makings of a good tale here, judging by the back story (I am a terrible sucker for tragedy). I do think though that if you are setting the character up to appear like an emotionless person, perhaps the lack of emotion demonstrated with the retelling of tragic events will be fitting, but obviously having not read the entire book I can't really judge if the emotionlessness is warranted or intention. And, with so much back story it reminds me a little of something like Good Expectations. If these past events do not make a direct impact in the story however, they are best left out. If they do, spacing them out throughout the book would be quite enjoyable, like discovering the character as you read the book, not as you read the intro. I think there is some good potential here though.

MBNewman
January 15th, 2013, 10:09 AM
As a quick question while I work, can I edit my original post and replace that excerpt with an updated one? Or should I just post it on the last page?

ktee
January 15th, 2013, 12:16 PM
As a quick question while I work, can I edit my original post and replace that excerpt with an updated one? Or should I just post it on the last page?

It if was me, I'd paste it at the bottom of this thread, or start a new thread, to allow us to compare one with the other.

ECFairWeather
January 15th, 2013, 08:58 PM
Hello MBNewman,

There were a lot of elements that have potential in this story, not-to-mention the badass title (I'm always terrible at coming up with titles for my story!), so I give you "kudos" for that ;) There are some areas that I'd like to point out that could use some re-working, though. Please feel free to use these suggestions as you see fit or ignore them completely!

#1.

Not every question can be answered. Sometimes the world is just unclear.

For whatever reason, I struggled to get past this sentence for the first two minutes.


#2.

A wise friend once told me this a long time ago. I quote this to describe life—my life, to be exact. My life has never been ordinary, but, then again, I’ve never expected it to be.

This may be nit-picking but I think the first sentence here would benefit from re-wording. For instance, "A good friend told me this once - a long time ago." This way has more of an impact because the implication is that Killian Todd cherishes this sage advice since it came from someone special he had known in the past. Letting the reader know that this was something that occurred in the past evokes a sense of nostalgia on the part of the protagonist.


#3.


My father loved only gambling, and the rush he got from gambling.

Killian's father doesn't seem that well developed to me. I think the father figure you've created here needs to be fleshed out more because to me at least he seems more like a generic, archetypal 'dead beat' dad that has no other use for this story other than the fact that he brought Killian into this world. I think I see why you want to have Killian's father be a bad role model. My guess is (without knowing what the story is about) that Killian grows up into some kind of terrible person himself as a result of his less-than-stellar upbringing. If I were you, I would really hammer home how lousy and cruel Killian's father was. Show it through dialogue. I want to see Killian having a conversation with his father and I want to see how his father twists the situation to fit his own gloomy, self-absorbed mania. I really think Killian's father could be one of those characters that you could have so much fun with developing. Don't get me wrong; the bones of the characters and the story are there - now I want the meat muahahaha :encouragement:


Whenever we had a shred of money, he gambled it away the second he got an opportunity. He wasn’t a bad gambler, but it’s all up to chance, isn’t it?

No, I'm pretty sure he was a BAD gambler as the rest of your story implies lol - just some food for thought.


#4.

It was his drug of choice, and how oft he craved the high.

Something that I'm not quite understanding here is your use of lofty prose, i.e. words like "oft" instead of "often". I don't think it fits the protagonist's style, nor do I think it would make sense for a beaten, abused, traumatized orphan to have the mental capacity afterwards to pick up on more flowery language like that. In fact, he says it himself:
I wasn’t born unto the nobility, nor the royalty, nor was I lucky enough to be born into their servitude. As a child I was the lowliest of the low, like the leper, an outcast, and that didn’t change much when I matured. I don't think someone of that station in life would have access to the education that would support the kind of languages he uses here. He would more than likely use slang and profanities more, but that's just my guess.

Also, what time period or what environment does this story take place in? At first it seemed like a tale set in medieval times, then it was like a scene out of a Charles Dickens' novel (again, due to the flowery language perhaps) but then you mentioned things like a "stiletto" and that brought me to modern times. I'm not quite sure I follow the setting at all. Is this a place of your own design? If so, perhaps you should flesh that out more, too. Give us a sense of where we are and the environment Killian has grown up in - make it so very clear that where he is created him into the person he is today. You could also expand on those areas where you are just summarizing the plot, i.e. his childhood, his transition from an abusive home to an orphanage, etc. These places should be highlighted. I think readers would benefit more if we could see Killian "growing up" during these traumatic times and to have his twisted narration to guide us through it.


#5.


Keep your friends close, and stab your enemies with a stiletto

Honestly, this was hysterical to me! I loved this idea of a cross-dressing serial killer. I'm almost positive that is not what you intended but I would SO read this kind of story if there were more lines like this ;)


MBNewman, you definitely seem to have put a lot of creative thought into your work. Have you written the whole story yet? If so, I urge you to revise and revise some more. Like I said, the bones are there - you've got elements which are known to you, i.e. the Watch, the city, the hierarchical structure of the society, etc... which are all pretty cool and have potential, but those elements are not fleshed out enough for us readers to understand just yet.

I hope you have fun with this story and keep plugging away at it because there really is so much there for you to work with!

Good luck!

~EC

P.S. I meant to submit this comment yesterday but had something come up that took me away from my computer for awhile, so if I apologize if I may repeat some of what has already been submitted. I just wanted to give you my comments because I thought they might help! It's good to see that you are still working on it, though! :)

MBNewman
January 16th, 2013, 12:43 AM
Hello MBNewman,

There were a lot of elements that have potential in this story, not-to-mention the badass title (I'm always terrible at coming up with titles for my story!), so I give you "kudos" for that ;) There are some areas that I'd like to point out that could use some re-working, though. Please feel free to use these suggestions as you see fit or ignore them completely!

#1.


For whatever reason, I struggled to get past this sentence for the first two minutes.


#2.


This may be nit-picking but I think the first sentence here would benefit from re-wording. For instance, "A good friend told me this once - a long time ago." This way has more of an impact because the implication is that Killian Todd cherishes this sage advice since it came from someone special he had known in the past. Letting the reader know that this was something that occurred in the past evokes a sense of nostalgia on the part of the protagonist.


#3.



Killian's father doesn't seem that well developed to me. I think the father figure you've created here needs to be fleshed out more because to me at least he seems more like a generic, archetypal 'dead beat' dad that has no other use for this story other than the fact that he brought Killian into this world. I think I see why you want to have Killian's father be a bad role model. My guess is (without knowing what the story is about) that Killian grows up into some kind of terrible person himself as a result of his less-than-stellar upbringing. If I were you, I would really hammer home how lousy and cruel Killian's father was. Show it through dialogue. I want to see Killian having a conversation with his father and I want to see how his father twists the situation to fit his own gloomy, self-absorbed mania. I really think Killian's father could be one of those characters that you could have so much fun with developing. Don't get me wrong; the bones of the characters and the story are there - now I want the meat muahahaha :encouragement:



No, I'm pretty sure he was a BAD gambler as the rest of your story implies lol - just some food for thought.


#4.


Something that I'm not quite understanding here is your use of lofty prose, i.e. words like "oft" instead of "often". I don't think it fits the protagonist's style, nor do I think it would make sense for a beaten, abused, traumatized orphan to have the mental capacity afterwards to pick up on more flowery language like that. In fact, he says it himself: I don't think someone of that station in life would have access to the education that would support the kind of languages he uses here. He would more than likely use slang and profanities more, but that's just my guess.

Also, what time period or what environment does this story take place in? At first it seemed like a tale set in medieval times, then it was like a scene out of a Charles Dickens' novel (again, due to the flowery language perhaps) but then you mentioned things like a "stiletto" and that brought me to modern times. I'm not quite sure I follow the setting at all. Is this a place of your own design? If so, perhaps you should flesh that out more, too. Give us a sense of where we are and the environment Killian has grown up in - make it so very clear that where he is created him into the person he is today. You could also expand on those areas where you are just summarizing the plot, i.e. his childhood, his transition from an abusive home to an orphanage, etc. These places should be highlighted. I think readers would benefit more if we could see Killian "growing up" during these traumatic times and to have his twisted narration to guide us through it.


#5.



Honestly, this was hysterical to me! I loved this idea of a cross-dressing serial killer. I'm almost positive that is not what you intended but I would SO read this kind of story if there were more lines like this ;)


MBNewman, you definitely seem to have put a lot of creative thought into your work. Have you written the whole story yet? If so, I urge you to revise and revise some more. Like I said, the bones are there - you've got elements which are known to you, i.e. the Watch, the city, the hierarchical structure of the society, etc... which are all pretty cool and have potential, but those elements are not fleshed out enough for us readers to understand just yet.

I hope you have fun with this story and keep plugging away at it because there really is so much there for you to work with!

Good luck!

~EC

P.S. I meant to submit this comment yesterday but had something come up that took me away from my computer for awhile, so if I apologize if I may repeat some of what has already been submitted. I just wanted to give you my comments because I thought they might help! It's good to see that you are still working on it, though! :)

Thank for you tearing in to it. Like I said, this is the oldest and needs the most work. You bring up a lot of good points, some of which should be simple fixes or easy answers.

#1 and 2 - Is it "unclear" as to what it means, heh? I will try to reword it, as it is an important quote later on in the story, told by Killian's pseudo-father figure. I will make sure this point is emphasized in the rewrite.

#3 - You'll be getting your wish here. I've been delving into Killian's youth, elaborating on both how his parents met, and the pain Killian suffered at the hands of his father. All the small contradictions are being corrected, and I'm hoping to flesh out the father as it his sins that Killian must bear the punishment for, as chapter title suggests. And yes, I suppose his father is a wretched gambler.

#4 - Killian's dialogue can be a bit shaky during my early writings, and are being taken care of. I must stress the fact that, although he was orphaned and is a traumatized soul, Killian spent years in an strict orphanage, as you will learn. He was taught to read and write, and has a much more vast vocabulary than is often seen by many of the other character's in the book. Killian is also a bit of a smarmy, sarcastic ass at times, and you will see where that stems from. Killian blends both the slang and the higher prose into his speech, as he had lived through both sides of society
You are right, though, because Killian is a "beaten, abused, traumatized orphan",and through that upbringing, he has acquired a mouth on him that could make a sailor seek salvation.

#4 continued - As for the setting, it is a place of my own design. It is set before before what would have been around the Victorian age in your typical "Western" civilization, on the verge of industrial revolution. There are strands of steampunk influence, though I would not classify the genre as such. Through Killian's story, I hope to make this apparent showing a transfer of usage between swords and crossbows to firearms as they become capable of being mass produced, as well as more of the more "wondrous" possibilities capable with steam power. The port city of Irianna, I would very much say is ye olde London-esque town, fit with cobblestone roads, a waste-filled labyrinth of alleys, with a few remarkable features hidden beneath the muck and grim and smog. Killian's environment unfolds before your eyes as he experiences it firsthand in the next few chapters. Killian was young before he was orphaned, and spent much of his time in or around the orphanage, and they were never allowed out without an escort.
There had been a section of history about the city he lived in here that I cut that because it didn't feel right mixed with Killian's emotional trauma.

#5 - Thank you for this. That is most definitely not what I meant by that sentence, but it is a quirky thought.

I hope that my re-write will fix the majority of the problems, and I will definitely utilize some of your pointers. Thank you, ECFairWeather!

MBNewman
January 16th, 2013, 04:17 AM
Additional Disclaimer: Mild Violence and Language

Here is the first half of the first draft to my rewrite. It will take more work, having been just written, of course, but I am posting it to ask if I am heading in a better way to handle the intro. It is a rough draft, so, again, if anyone feels like brutally tearing it apart, go right on ahead.
Without further adieu:

The Brookrow Bastard:

I: Sins of the Father

Not every question can be answered. Sometimes the world is just unclear.

A good friend told me this once, a long time ago. I quote him to describe life—my life, to be exact. My life has never been ordinary, but, then again, I’ve never expected it to be.

My name is Killian Todd, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my life that I would want you to take to heart, it’s this: Keep your friends close, and stab your enemies with a stiletto; may be the only way to survive these dark days.

Some would call me a murderer, and a thief, and a criminal; to these accusations, I cannot object. In my days, I have seen things no man should see, and done things much, much worse.

I am not a saint, nor a man of honor, though I am not a wretched demon, conjured from the depths of the Infernal Abyss. I am not some scourge or blight on this world, as many would have you believe. I am just a veteran of the cruelty of man, I am a survivor of the cold streets, and I have waged war with the gods.

Though my foes have been many, none have deterred me. Being stubborn has always been a strong suit of mine.

I wasn’t born a killer, no one is. We don’t cast our lots in life, they are cast for us. We are products of our environment, molded by the decisions of others. I was told that the gods predetermined the paths that we take, that everything happens for a reason. My life, as I would learn at a very young age, was destined for suffering. I had the makings to become a productive, gods-fearing member of society, but that didn’t happen. I wonder sometimes, when I am alone with a bottle of brandy, why things had to end up this way; and, in my drunken stupor, my mind always wanders back to my childhood.

Years ago, before I ever graced this world, I’m told that my father and mother met under most fortunate circumstances. In typical story-book fashion, my mother had been heading home from her grandmother’s house in Dockside to her home in Irianna South. Dockside, being the central hub for all the crime in Irianna, was a place where a woman venturing alone across the grimy, filthy streets was sure to run into trouble. My father, who had been working as a apprentice to a carpenter at the time, had been renovating one of the rundown buildings common to Dockside, and had only just gotten off of work when he came across a damsel in distress.

After a brief scuffle, the mugger was repelled, and forced to retreat. My father had grown up around the dangers of Dockside, and knew well that this mugger was just one of hundreds that prowled the streets. Ever the gentleman, my father offered to escort her home, and during their walk they got to know each other. Upon arriving at her home, my mother opted to reward her knight in shining armor with a kiss. This kiss led to what could have been a beautiful tale of love and companionship, and it is ironic then that their story does not have a happy ending.

After a short time together, my father and mother experienced the greatest of miracles, and a few months later my mother birthed yours truly. I’m told that they were not married, so, of all the insults that have been cast my way, “bastard” is one that is most relevant.

I do not remember my parents’ names, as too many years have passed since they have come across my mind. It is regrettable, as well, that the memory of their faces fade, as well as the sound of their voices. I do not mean to forget, but I spent many years seeking respite from the horrors in my past at the bottom of many bottles. My most cherished memories never faded, but they are few and in between in comparison to the cruel realities I have faced, the memories that I could not drown with any amount of liquor.

While I cannot say I know them, I do remember many things about them, and I only remember my mother fondly. If I close my eyes, and focus, I can weave all of the shreds and fragments of the fleeting memories of my mother into a coherent scene. What I do remember is that she had sable hair that smelled of apricots. The smell came from a special soap that she would procure from the quirky Vengardish peddler at the end of the block from our home, whose accent I could never understand.

I remember that my mother had a gentle face, defined by an elegantly crafted chin, a slender nose, and bright, hazel eyes. I remember the way her eyes would crinkle as she smiled, and, oh, what a wonderful smile it was; so warm and welcoming. And the way she would cradle me in her arms, and hold me close to her chest, close enough I could feel her heartbeat; and when I thought the world couldn’t get any better, she’d tell me she loved me, and it would.
These were the few things I had left to hold onto, and they numbered too few for the welfare of my sanity. I remember them to slow my passage across the brink of insanity. Or perhaps I’ve already crossed? Who’s to say?

I grew up in the port city of Irianna, in the great country of Kallador. The nation and its people were in a decline, as our nation’s debt grew from the ever-ensuing war against the neighboring Rodrun. When the Imperial’s lost their budget, there was not enough money to pay the Watch, and soon crime became rampant all across the land. The city of Irianna was especially tainted with both criminals, and the poor and lost folk. For my family of a lower class, these were not bright days.

The most vivid memories I have of these days were not of good times. You see, my father, quite the contrast to my mother, did not care for me. My father only viewed me as another mouth to feed, another leech draining his purse dry. The only interest my father may have ever had in me was a faint curiosity as to how much he could sell me off for at the card tables.

My father loved the rush of gambling, and did not resist the allure of liquor. They were his drugs of choice, and he often craved the high. Whenever we had a shred of money, he gambled or drank it all away the second he got an opportunity. It was more frequent that he would lose than win, though he would win often enough for us to survive.

“It’s all up to chance,” my father would often tell us, in that nonchalant way that usually was accompanied by the announcement of just how much he had lost.

There were many nights when my mother and I went hungry, but that never stopped him. Perhaps, I received my stubbornness from him, because I remember how my father would never change his ways, despite my mother’s pleas. Just one of the many traits I received from a man who failed me.

Away from whatever he could win from the card games—if ever did—my father’s source of income was as a carpenter while I was growing up. He had always been good with his hands, and I can still see him sitting on his favorite chair, whittling away at some new project as he often did. My father built tables, and chairs, and other furnishings for the rich and the not, but it was not the highest paying job, and sometimes it could be hard to find work. With my father’s addictions, money could become tight, and when money was tight, my father got mean.

I loved my mother, and my father loved my mother, but my father never seemed to love me, or at least he had a funny way of showing it. Like most children, I did what I was told to do, or I was beaten. However, my father was different than most, as he opted to beat me even if I did nothing wrong. Sometimes he would hit me for no other reason than to just to remind me that he could.

I remember the first day that my father laid a hand on me. My mother had been out shopping in the Market Gardens at the time, leaving me alone with my father. Back then, my father was believed to be a trustworthy man, held in high regard by my mother. This was the day my mother learned otherwise.
It was a regular day, one filled with your typical boyhood adventures. I had always gotten into some sort of trouble in the day, as mischief had its way of following me around. On this particular day, I had been heading home from my schooling. My parents had always taken turns walking me home, but, unbeknownst to my mother, my father was never there to meet me.

I was only a few blocks from the schoolhouse, bringing me to about the halfway point from home. I remember not being in a great hurry to return home, despite the ominous clouds above. The gods had always been fickle with good weather in regards to Irianna, as there were always more rainy days than dry ones, and this was shaping up to be one of the former.

When the drizzle came, I was overjoyed. I do not care for the rain now, but it had been such a wonder to me back then. The world had seemed right when there was a torrential cascade falling from the heavens above my city.

During bad rainstorms, the streets would often become prone to flooding. One of the precautions that the Imperials utilized to prevent such disasters were the drains that were scattered across the streets. These drains led to the sewers beneath Irianna that flushed the water back into the Western Sea. These drains often left large puddles in the distances between them.

There was a game I would play when it rained, where I would try to leap between the puddles, without getting my feet wet. I almost never made it home without misjudging my leap and landing ankle-deep in the frigid water. This time was different, however, and I had made it almost all the way home and my shoes were only a little wet, and my feet were still dry, it was a personal record.

Only one more obstacle lay before me, only one more to cross before I would win my game. The last puddle betwixt myself and my home was the largest of them all. It lay right before the staircase that led to our second-story apartment. I braced myself at the opposite end of the puddle, aiming myself for the closest step. If I could make this leap over the puddle, there would be no question that I was the master of my own game.

This puddle was more than a barrier, it was a threshold. When I would go to cross it, I would be bringing myself into a life of misery and woe, though I did not know it then. So, I took a few steps back, and went against the odds. I made my leap of faith over the rippling pool blow. I had no idea how deep it could have been at its center, but I had been sure of my skills.

I was quick to realize my folly, as flurry of water fast enveloped me. I remember fighting to get to my feet, thrashing about in fear and shock at its depth. When my foot touched the bottom, I calmed immediately. The water had not been all that deep, and my panic had come all from my head. When I stood again, I waded in water up to my waist.

Drenching wet, I made my way up the stairs, and entered into my home. I may have expected a welcomed return, or perhaps a snack, at the least. I couldn’t have guessed what I would return to.

When I entered, I made the childish mistake of not taking my wet clothing off. My mother had, of course, told me many times to do so. In my boyish arrogance, I once more neglected this rule, and brought the wretched weather in my wake.

I called out for my parents, throwing my wet clothes about the entryway. When there was no response, I walked further down the hall, calling again.
“Keep it down, Killian!” my father roared back from his office at the end of the hall

I had been so excited about breaking my record that I did not sense the frustration in my father’s voice. I hurried down the hall to inform my father of my success, and I suppose I believed he would be proud of me, but I had never been so wrong.

I was not allowed to enter my father’s office without permission, so I stood at the door, peering inside. I found him sitting at his desk, working away at a project for a high-paying client. My father would always complete his more intricate works at home, although he had a small workshop in Dockside for his larger projects.

“Hello, father,” I said to him, as polite and respectful as I could, leaning around the door frame.

In the first few seconds, my father did not acknowledge me. I stayed quiet for a brief moment. When I decided that he hadn’t wasn’t going to, I called to him again.

My father sighed, and looked up from his work to turn to me. “What do you want, Killian? I’m busy?”

“Sorry, sir,” I said, slinking back behind the safety of the doorframe. My father was always very focused on his work, and would stay in his office for hours at a time. When my father found work during the dry spells, he was always fiercely tenacious about finishing it before the deadline.

Being a child, I did not know the stresses that come with adulthood. I was too entranced with my youthful world, as all children are, to know that my father was in no mood to talk.

“I was gonna tell you about my walk home, sir,” I said. “It’s raining awful hard outside, and there’re lots of puddles, and I—”

“I don’t have time for your damn stories, Killian, I’m working!”

I stopped my story, staring at the ground. My father remained at his desk, tending to his craftsman’s duties. I peered into the room trying to discern what my father was carving into the wood. The oil lamp on my father’s workbench was the only one in our house, and it cast the entire room in light, but my father’s project was still too far for me to see clearly.

“What are you making?”

“That’s none of your business. Did your teacher assign you any work?”
“No, sir.”

“Are you lying to me?” my father asked, casting a curious eye my way.

I was not fool enough to lie to my father. “I swear it, sir.”

My father seemed had accepted my answer, and returned to his work with a grunt.

“When is supper?” I asked.

“Ask your mother.”

“Mother isn’t home.”

My father set aside the chisel and mallet, and turned himself on the stool to face me. Whenever I think of my father, I see his face on this day. His eyes were cold and dark, and his brows were furrowed. I was not sure what I had done, but I was not about to speak again.

My father took note that I had shed my clothes, and shook his head. “Get soaked, huh? Serves you right. Maybe you should get home quicker next time, instead of dilly-dallying about on the streets. You’re lucky you’re just a little wet, and weren’t snatched off by some Rodrunian looking to sell you off for a quick Token.”

“Sorry, sir.”

“Yeah, yeah,” my father muttered under his breath. My father rubbed his eyes, and scratched the stubble across his chin. After giving a long, world-weary sigh, my father said, “You take your clothes off outside like your mother asked?”

I shook my head. My father stared up at me, lipped curled in scorn. Standing from his stool, my father took long strides towards me. Without word, my father grabbed my arm, and dragged me down the hall towards the entry way. I did not try to resist, for I knew it would only anger my father more.

Upon seeing the mess my father turned me to face him. “How many times do we have to tell you to take your wet clothes off outside? Every single gods-damn day, Killian, we have been lenient with you. Well, I’m not gonna stand for it anymore, you hear me?”

My father hurled me onto the floor with a furious rage. My face smashed against the ground, and I howled in pain. I spat water and mud from my mouth, and curled myself into a ball. My father had never hurt me before; a spanking here and there, but nothing ever quite like this. I had sent my father over the edge.
“I am sick and tired of cleaning up after an ungrateful little shit!” my father roared, kicking at me. When he tired of that, my father grabbed me by my hair, despite my thrashing, and smashed my face back into the ground, smearing my face into the mud and muck that I had left behind.

“Are you going to listen next time? Are you? Are you?” my father screamed at me as he ground my cheek against the wet floor. Blood and water and mud coated my face and the floor when he was finished.

When I had subsequently been punished enough, my father relinquished his grasp, dropping my head back onto the floor. My father stared down at me, the contempt evident in his eyes. I was too frightened to move, so I stayed where I was. I was too scared to even wipe my face clean.

My father grabbed me by my wrist and hoisted me to my feet. Staring into my eyes, my father spoke slowly so that he would not have to repeat himself, “Clean this mess up, and then go wait in your room until your mother gets home. You’re going to tell her you slipped and fell on your way home. Didn’t you?”

I nodded, my whole body trembling as I was being stared down by that wicked man. My father held onto me for a few more seconds to emphasize his point, before releasing my arm. My father turned away and walked back to his office, grumbling all the way. I didn’t move until he was gone from sight, and only then did the tears fall.

My mother cried that night when she found the bruises. I had not told her what my father had done, but somehow she knew.
*

ktee
January 18th, 2013, 11:19 AM
Wow this is so much better, I really enjoyed reading it. It's so much more interesting with the extra detail you've put it. It was interesting to begin with, don't get me wrong, but now I get a richer understanding of the protagonist and his world. I also connect more emotionally with the story. And the world is more vivid because of the detail you've included places and people e.g. the family home.

I can't wait to read more :)


One thing: I'm a big user of commas despite their popularity declining, but I feel a few of your commas disrupt the flow. I've highlighted some in red, but maybe read all your sentences aloud and remove commas that don't work (I've found reading my stuff aloud can often best way to proof its structure and flow).

And as it's a draft I've given some suggestions for minor changes. I've done them quickly so some may not male sense. But overall my suggestions are cosmetic. I really, really enjoyed this.



Additional Disclaimer: Mild Violence and Language

Here is the first half of the first draft to my rewrite. It will take more work, having been just written, of course, but I am posting it to ask if I am heading in a better way to handle the intro. It is a rough draft, so, again, if anyone feels like brutally tearing it apart, go right on ahead.
Without further adieu:

The Brookrow Bastard:

I: Sins of the Father

Not every question can be answered. Sometimes the world is just unclear.

A good friend told me this once, a long time ago. I quote him to describe life—my life, to be exact. My life has never been ordinary, but, then again, I’ve never expected it to be.

My name is Killian Todd, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my life that I would want you to take to heart, it’s this: Keep your friends close, and be ready to strike stab your enemies with a the swift balde of a stiletto [I make this suggestion because the sentence seems too straightforward and bit clunky. And since a stilleto is a knife designed for offensive attacks I personally feel there needs to be a bit of darkness here, and I think this can be achieved by putting a bit of the dramatic in your description] ; it may be the only way to survive these dark days.

Some would call me a murderer, and a thief, and a criminal; to these accusations, I cannot object. In my days, I have seen things no man should see, and done things much, much worse.

I am not a saint, nor a man of honor, though I am not a wretched demon, conjured from the depths of the Infernal Abyss. I am not some scourge or blight on this world, as many would have you believe. I am just a veteran of the cruelty of man, I am a survivor of the cold streets, and I have waged war with the gods. [question: you use capitalisation for religious terms like "Infernal Abyss". Should you then use "Gods" instead of "gods"?]

Though my foes have been many, none have deterred me. Being stubborn has always been a strong suit of mine.

I wasn’t born a killer, no one is. We don’t cast our lots in life, they are cast for us [I know what you're trying to say, that we don't choose what our life will be, instead the places/actions/ etc that mould us are forced upon us by others. but I'm not sure "cast our lots" is right, since it is about chance so in a sense it doesn't matter who casts the lots (definition: Making a chance decision by using lots (straws or pebbles etc.) that are thrown or drawn ). Also, in the next sentences you talk about predetermination. I think you could just cut this since the next sentences describe it better]. We are products of our environment, molded by the decisions of others. I was told that the gods predetermined the paths that we take, that everything happens for a reason. My life, as I would learn at a very young age, was destined for suffering. I had the makings to become a productive, gods-fearing member of society, but that didn’t happen. I wonder sometimes, when I am alone with a bottle of brandy, why things had to end up this way; and, in my drunken stupor, my mind always wanders back to my childhood.

Years ago, before I ever graced this world, I’m told that my father and mother met under most fortunate circumstances. In typical story-book fashion, my mother had been heading home from her grandmother’s house in Dockside to her home in Irianna South. Dockside, being the central hub for all the crime in Irianna, was a place where a woman venturing alone across the grimy, filthy streets was sure to run into trouble. My father, who had been working as a apprentice to a carpenter at the time, had been renovating one of the rundown buildings common to Dockside, and had only just gotten off of work when he came across a damsel in distress. [this is great, I get such a better understanding of Irianna and the parents]

After a brief scuffle, the mugger was repelled, and forced to retreat. My father had grown up around the dangers of Dockside, and knew well that this mugger was just one of hundreds that prowled the streets. Ever the gentleman, my father offered to escort her home, and during their walk they got to know each other. Upon arriving at her home, my mother opted to reward her knight in shining armor with a kiss. This kiss led to what could have been a beautiful tale of love and companionship, and it is ironic then that their story does not have a happy ending [a bit clunky and too simple. maybe continue the theme above of life being unkind. something like "but life, ever the cruelest mistress, had a dark path laid out for them"]

After a short time together, my father and mother experienced the greatest of miracles, and a few months later my mother birthed yours truly. I’m told that they were not married, so, of all the insults that have been cast my way, “bastard” is one that is most relevant.

I do not remember my parents’ names,; as too many years have passed since they have come across my mind. It is regrettable, as well, that the memory of their faces fade, as well as the sound of their voices. I do not mean to forget, but I spent many years seeking respite from the horrors in my past at the bottom of many bottles. My most cherished memories never faded, but they are few and in between in comparison to the cruel realities I have faced,; the memories that I could not drown with any amount of liquor.

While I cannot say I know them, I do remember many things about them, and I only my mother is remebered remember my mother fondly. If I close my eyes, and focus, I can weave all of the shreds and fragments of the fleeting memories of my mother into a coherent scene. What I do remember is that she had sable hair that smelled of apricots. The smell came from a special soap that she would procure from the quirky Vengardish peddler at the end of the block from our home, whose accent I could never understand.

I remember that my mother had a gentle face, defined by an elegantly crafted chin, a slender nose, and bright, hazel eyes. I remember the way her eyes would crinkle as she smiled, and, oh, what a wonderful smile it was; so warm and welcoming. And the way she would cradle me in her arms, and hold me close to her chest, close enough I could feel her heartbeat; and when I thought the world couldn’t get any better, she’d tell me she loved me, and it would.
These were are the few things I hadve left to hold onto, and they numbered too few for the welfare of my sanity [not necessary, you can shiw this, you don't have to say it]. I remember them to slow my passage across the brink of insanity. Or perhaps I’ve already crossed? Who’s to say?

I grew up in the port city of Irianna, in the great country of Kallador. The nation and its people were in a decline, as our nation’s debt grew, our wealth leached from the ever-ensuing war against the neighboring Rodrun. When the Imperial’s lost their budget [i don't think this works. Maybe "when the Imperial's budgeted [insert currency] was spent], there was not enough money to pay the Watch, and soon crime became rampant all across the land. The city of Irianna was especially tainted with both criminals, and the poor and lost folk. For my lower class family of a lower class, these were not bright days.

The most vivid memories I have of these days were not of good times [already said above]. You see, my father, in stark quite the contrast to my mother, did not care for me. My father only He viewed me only as another mouth to feed, another leech draining his purse dry. The only interest my father may have ever had in me was a faint curiosity as to how much he could sell me off for at the card tables. [what does this mean? And since he lost wouldn't the character have memories of what happened?]

My father loved the rush of gambling, and did not resist the allure of liquor. They were his drugs of choice, and he often craved the high. Whenever we had a shred of money, he gambled or drank it all away the second he got an opportunity. It was more frequent that he would lose than win, though he would win often enough for us to survive.[clunky]

“It’s all up to chance,” my father would often tell us, in that nonchalant way that usually was accompanied by the announcement of just how much he had lost.

There were many nights when my mother and I went hungry, but that never stopped him. Perhaps
, I received my stubbornness from him, because I remember how my father would never change his ways, despite my mother’s pleas. Just one of the many traits I received from a man who failed me.

Away from whatever he could win from the card games—if ever did [you've just said he did sometimes win]—my father’s source of income was as a carpenter while I was growing up. He had always been good with his hands, and I can still see him sitting on his favorite chair, whittling away at some new project as he often did. My father built tables, and chairs, and other furnishings for the rich and the not so rich,. bBut it was not the highest paying job, and sometimes it could be hard to find work. With my father’s addictions, money could become tight, and when money was tight, my father got mean.

I loved my mother, and my father loved my mother [I would put this when you first describe the father not loving the protagonist], but my father never seemed to love me, or at least he had a funny way of showing it. Like most children, I did what I was told to do, or I was beaten. However, my father was different than most, as he [you don't need this, it's implied] opted to beat me even if I did nothing wrong. Sometimes he would hit me for no other reason than to just to remind me that he could.

I remember the first day that my father laid a hand on me. My mother had been out shopping in the Market Gardens at the time, leaving me alone with my father. Back then, my father he was believed to be a trustworthy man, held in high regard by my mother. This was the day my mother learned otherwise.
It was a regular day, one filled with your typical boyhood adventures. I had always gotten into some sort of trouble in the day, as mischief had its way of following me around. On this particular day, I had been heading home from my schooling. My parents had always taken turns walking me home, but, unbeknownst to my mother, my father was never there to meet me.

I was only a few blocks from the schoolhouse, bringing me to about the halfway point from home. I remember not being in a great hurry to return home, despite the ominous clouds above. The gods had always been fickle with good weather in regards to Irianna, as there were always more rainy days than dry ones, and this was shaping up to be one of the former.

When the drizzle came, I was overjoyed. I do not care for the rain now, but it had been such a wonder to me back then. The world had seemed right when there was a torrential cascade falling from the heavens above my city.

During bad heavy rainstorms, the streets would often become prone to flooding[/STRIKE]. and Oone of the precautions that the Imperials utilized to prevent such disasters were the drains that were scattered across the streets. These drains led to the sewers beneath Irianna that flushed the water back into the Western Sea. These drains often left large puddles in the distances between them.

There was a game I would play when it rained, where I would try to leap between the puddles, without getting my feet wet. I almost never made it home without misjudging my leap and landing ankle-deep in the frigid water. This time was different, however, and I had made it almost all the way home and my shoes were only a little wet, and my feet were still dry,. iIt was a personal record.

Only one more obstacle lay before me, only one more to cross before I would win my game. The last puddle betwixt myself and my home was the largest of them all. It lay right before the staircase that led to our second-story apartment. I braced myself at the opposite end of the puddle, aiming myself for the closest step. If I could make this leap over the puddle, there would be no question that I was the master of my own game.

This puddle was more than a barrier, it was a threshold. When I would go to cross it, I would be bringing myself into a life of misery and woe, though I did not know it then. So, I took a few steps back, and let my body fly went against the odds. I made my leap of faith over the rippling pool blow. I had no idea how deep it could have been at its center, but I had been sure of my skills.

I was quick to realize my folly, as I fell short of my target and a flurry of water fast enveloped me. I remember fighting to get to my feet, thrashing about in fear and shock at its the puddles depth. When my foot touched the bottom, I calmed immediately. The water had not been all that deep, and my panic had come all from my head. When I stood again, I waded in water only up to my waist.

Drencheding wet, I made my way up the stairs, and entered into my home. I may have expected a welcomed return, or perhaps a snack, at the least. I couldn’t have guessed what I would return to.

When I entered,, making I made the childish mistake of not taking my wet clothing off. My mother had, of course, told me many times to do so. In my boyish arrogance, I once more neglected this rule, and brought the wretched weather in my wake.

I called out for my parents, throwing my wet clothes about the entryway. When there was no response, I walked further down the hall, calling again.
“Keep it down, Killian!” my father roared back from his office at the end of the hall

I had been so excited about breaking my record that I did not sense the frustration in my father’s voice. I hurried down the hall to inform my father of my success, and I suppose I believed he would be proud of me, but I had never been so wrong.

I was not allowed to enter my father’s office without permission, so I stood at the door, peering inside. I found him sitting at his desk, working away at a project for a high-paying client. My father would always complete his more intricate works at home, although he had a small workshop in Dockside for his larger projects.

“Hello, father,” I said to him, as polite and respectful as I could, leaning around the door frame.

In the first few seconds, my father did not acknowledge me. I stayed quiet for a brief moment. When I decided that he hadn’t wasn’t going to [this is confusing], I called to him again.

My father sighed, and looked up from his work to turn to me. “What do you want, Killian? I’m busy?”

“Sorry, sir,” I said, slinking back behind the safety of the doorframe. My father was always very focused on his work, and would stay in his office for hours at a time. When my father he found work during the dry spells, he was always fiercely tenacious about finishing it before the deadline.

Being a child, I did not know the stresses that come with adulthood. I was too entranced with my youthful world, as all children are, to know that my father was in no mood to talk.

“I was gonna tell you about my walk home, sir,” I said. “It’s raining awful hard outside, and there’re lots of puddles, and I—”

“I don’t have time for your damn stories, Killian, I’m working!”

I stopped my story, staring at the ground. My father remained at his desk, tending to his craftsman’s duties. I peered into the room trying to discern what my father was carving into the wood. The oil lamp on my father’s workbench was the only one in our house, and it cast the entire room in light, but my father’s project was still too far for me to see clearly.

“What are you making?”

“That’s none of your business. Did your teacher assign you any work?”
“No, sir.”

“Are you lying to me?” my father asked, casting a curious eye my way.

I was not fool enough to lie to my father. “I swear it, sir.”

My father seemed had accepted my answer, and returned to his work with a grunt.

“When is supper?” I asked.

“Ask your mother.”

“Mother isn’t home.”

My father set aside the chisel and mallet, and turned himself on the stool to face me. Whenever I think of my father, I see his face on this day. His eyes were cold and dark, and his brows were furrowed. I was not sure what I had done, but I was not about to speak again.

My father took note that I had shed my clothes, and shook his head. “Get soaked, huh? Serves you right. Maybe you should get home quicker next time, instead of dilly-dallying about on the streets. You’re lucky you’re just a little wet, and weren’t snatched off by some Rodrunian looking to sell you off for a quick Token.”

“Sorry, sir.”

“Yeah, yeah,” my father muttered under his breath. My father rubbed his eyes, and scratched the stubble across his chin. After giving a long, world-weary sigh, my father said, “You take your clothes off outside like your mother asked?”

I shook my head. My father stared up at me, lipped curled in scorn. Standing up from his stool, my father quickly took long strides to where i was standing towards me. Without word, my father he grabbed my arm, and dragged me down the hall towards the entry way. I did not try to resist, for I knew it would only anger my father more.

Upon seeing the mess I had made my father pulled me roughly around turned me to face him. “How many times do we have to tell you to take your wet clothes off outside? Every single gods-damn day, Killian, we have been lenient with you. Well, I’m not gonna stand for it anymore, you hear me?”

My father hurled me onto the floor with a furious rage. My face smashed against the ground, and I howled in pain. I spat water and mud from my mouth, and curled myself into a ball. My father had never hurt me before; a spanking here and there, but nothing ever quite like this. I had sent my father over the edge.
“I am sick and tired of cleaning up after an ungrateful little shit!” my father roared, kicking at me over and over. When he tired of that, my father he grabbed me by my hair, despite my thrashing, and smashed my face back into the ground, smearing my face into the mud and muck that I had left behind.

“Are you going to listen next time? Are you? Are you?” my father screamed at me as he ground my cheek against the wet floor. Blood and water and mud coated my face and the floor when he was finished.

When I had subsequently been punished enough, my father relinquished his grasp, dropping my head back onto the floor. My father stared down at me, the his contempt evident in his eyes. I was too frightened to move, so I stayed where I was. I was too scared to even wipe my face clean.

My father grabbed me by my wrist and hoisted me to my feet. Staring into my eyes, my father spoke slowly so that he would not have to repeat himself, “Clean this mess up, and then go wait in your room until your mother gets home. You’re going to tell her you slipped and fell on your way home. Didn’t you?”

I nodded, my whole body trembling as that wicked man I was being stared down by that wicked man at me. My father held onto me for a few more seconds to emphasize his point, before releasing my arm. My father He turned away and walked back to his office, grumbling all the way. I didn’t move until he was gone from sight, and only then did the tears fall.

My mother cried that night when she found the bruises. I had not told her what my father had done, but somehow she knew.
*

MBNewman
January 18th, 2013, 05:28 PM
Thank you, ktee. Yeah, once I got myself to work it went by really quickly. I have now taken the intro, and extending it into 3 new chapters, one for each phase of Killian's childhood (death of mother, living with the kind old widow, and his time in the orphanage). I'd never extended those scenes before, but its kind of refreshing to do it now. I am telling a parts of his story that I had never done before.

jedellion
January 19th, 2013, 08:59 AM
DUH!

I had started to write feedback for the first draft but something made me look down the thread and bang! there was a second draft with most of the issues corrected.

The second draft works much better. I still feel you could spend more time developing your characters and themes. I still think it feels a little rushed. I find it is better to let events flow and ramble and then you can edit them down. I believe editing down is much more preferable than trying to pad.

I think you have the makings of an excellent read here and I am intrigued enough to want to read more. Take your time, enjoy the process, let events flow.

Good work and excellent feedback chaps and chapettes.

MBNewman
January 19th, 2013, 09:03 AM
Yeah, this is just a first draft of the new rewrite, Jedellion. I am doing the so-called "rush and ramble" to extend that intro page or two into a set of four, full-fledged chapters and am half-way done as is. There's plenty of editing in my future, that I know, but there's just so much story to tell first now that I've given myself the chance to tell it.

Ariel
January 19th, 2013, 02:03 PM
To EC, a stiletto is a short thin blade used for stabbing. It is After this blade that the shoe is named--the heel resembles the blade.

The second draft reads much better and makes it much easier to connect with Killian. However, at the beginning there is an entire paragraph dedicated to how Killian doesn't remember his parents' faces and then he describes his mother's face in detail and her scent. His father is even described in fairly good detail.

rave
January 30th, 2013, 04:57 AM
best work ive read here so far, reminds me of rothfus's style a bit you should read his books, i disagree with the fact that your glossing over traumatic events, your character is relating events that happened as a child they are obviously repressed and painful memories so he is relating them quickly im assuming because hes worldly and there are more important things to come, also as a strong male lead brevity is a good characteristic to have sometimes, but definitely be more elaborate in coming chapters. gonna read ch.2 asap

ECFairWeather
January 30th, 2013, 05:34 AM
So I had knots in my stomach with this rewrite – and I mean that in a good way! :-) Seriously, MBNewman, your writing is coming along pretty well. I can see that you have put a lot of effort in this rewrite and have given so much thought to the development of the characters, especially the protagonist. I had a much clearer understanding of Killian Todd just from the examples you gave, i.e. that gut-wrenching scene of abuse towards the end of the excerpt! *shudders* It’s eerie how well you can create such a chilling scene so casually lol

Overall, I can see that there have been significant improvements from the first post: the setting is much more defined and doesn’t seem as disjointed as before; the pacing of Killian’s back-story is not as rushed, although there could definitely be some tweaking here and there (and if you'd like me to provide some examples, I'd be more than happy to in another post or PM); and the horrendous father figure is portrayed very strongly.

One suggestion I have is that you could have Killian detail the accounts of his childhood without explaining everything. At this point, it still seems more like a general read-through of Killian’s background rather than a story that’s in motion. I think it would help if you blended in the present time with the telling of his childhood. That way, it moves the story along and gives the reader some purpose. For instance, why is Killian telling this story, what’s the purpose, what’s he doing now that would motivate him to tell his story, etc. Is Killian talking about his life because he’s about to face the executioner’s axe for some crime he committed and now he’s reflecting back on the events that led him here? Just a random thought I had while reading.

Again, very nicely done this time around, MBNewman, and I look forward to reading the second part that you’ve posted!

~EC Fairweather

MBNewman
January 30th, 2013, 10:11 AM
Thank you, rave. If you do choose to read part 2, I will be just as grateful, and hope it won't let you down. And like you said, Killian is definitely focusing on the bad memories, as those are the ones he can't seem to forget. From the end of this section, the story starts to follow Killian's life in a more "in the moment" style. As for Patrick Rothfuss: he is is a god, enough said.

And thank you again, EC, its a good feeling to know that the atmosphere is coming along well. While there is definitely work still to be done, I am glad you found it enjoyable. If you feel like posting any of your ideas for tweaks would be welcomed, of course, but I leave that entirely up to you. I have toyed with the idea of bringing in present time Killian into the story, but between length limitations and concept, I felt it was best leave it how it was. I know why Killian is telling the story, so I will make an effort to hint at it during one of Killian's reflections, and maybe add a short prologue leading into the story or something. We'll see what I can muster up ;)