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Quick239
June 5th, 2013, 06:17 PM
This is the prologue to a novel I started writing a short while ago and it has recently stammered to a halt. I hope you will like and please leave comments which might revive my creativity. Thanks :)

Death's Thrall - Prologue

It came at first as silence – a singularly oppressing void of sound or disquiet. It inhabited the room; filling every inch of space that was not already cluttered with useless junk – shattered rocks, discarded clocks, a few beads from a fractured necklace, the distorted frame of an ancient painting, and even an old monocle missing its golden chain. They were exposed solemnly on a row of orderly shelves ranging from short to disproportionate. Its presence lay behind a forgotten family heirloom, a discarded deck of cards that was missing most of its content and a shattered bottle of what used to be red wine; it roamed between and beneath every little piece of antediluvian memorial. It seamlessly blended with the archaic and the mundane, the prehistoric and the novel. It had no form and yet lived within all things whose stories were long consigned to oblivion, treading grounds where footprints were long dried-out and blown over by the sands of time. Most of what had been contained in the room had since turned to dust, replaced by more modern pieces of human history. It had a peculiar sort of austere beauty, reaching beneath and beyond the comprehension of the mind.

The silence cracked – leaving behind the shards of its previous hold on the realm of trinkets and novelties. They refracted the antiquated streams of light, producing from their crippled bodies rainbows that invaded the somber simplicity of the massive archives of previous ages. It stood as a violation of an unbeknownst sanctuary, untouched by the gritty hands of humanity and unsoiled by their delusive ideals. The broken silence lay crippled in the center of the entire decorum; a corpse crookedly placed within its walls.

She knew her world was collapsing,that her time had finally drawn to an end. She had to leave. She didn’t want to leave her home. She had spent an incalculable number of eons within the walls of her prison, work flooding her every waking moment. Yet, she desperately wanted to stay. Tears lulled at the edge of her eyes, gliding slowly across her skin and meeting their untimely demise on the dusty floor. They formed an uneven puddle at her feet, drawing incomprehensible designs in the gathered dirt.

She rolled under the shadow of her earthly possessions – hoping one would fall from its shelf to end her misery. None were so lenient as to fulfil her wish. She clutched at the hem of her dress, stark alabaster in the obsidian darkness.

She wept – a lonesome soul in the unavailing darkness.

jayelle_cochran
June 6th, 2013, 06:16 PM
This has a lot of potential, though I have to be honest that I'm not sure what's going on.

I'm not too sure what 'it' is...is it silence or something else? It felt as though it were perhaps some sort of spirit or thing that was lurking about the shelves. You might want to give the reader a sense of what you're trying to show them in that first paragraph.

The room you mentioned sounds like it could be an attic or basement and I loved some of the descriptions. "They were exposed solemnly on a row of orderly shelves ranging from short to disproportionate." I absolutely love this sentence. It gave a really good feel for the set-up of the space and mood of the scene. That one sentence told me so much!

Another thing that confused me was the silence breaking. You never said what it was that cracked the silence and there wasn't anything to suggest what it could be. "The broken silence lay crippled in the center of the entire decorum; a corpse crookedly placed within its walls." I get what you're doing here. I think it would work better if there was some more about the significance of the silence and something else to suggest the morbidity or darkness of the second part of the sentence. It helps to give a feel for a dark mood over the piece, but for some reason it feels awkward with 'silence' as a noun.

The next part about the woman or girl...You definitely want to put more into those paragraphs. This is, I assume, the main character for your novel? I would include more about her. A description, a name, more emotion, perhaps what it is about the room that makes her want to stay there, a thought or two that floats through her anguished mind...etc. If this is your introduction for her, you might want to show her in a way that draws the reader in and causes them to identify and/or sympathize with her. Especially if she is the focus. If she isn't the focus or main character of the novel, then you still may consider putting more into her. Even small characters who only show for a scene or chapter deserve to be known at least a little by the reader(or at least that's how I personally feel about them).

Or was she the silence? I just now figured that out. There should be something that gives the reader a more clear connection.


So far it's a really good rough draft for your prologue. I do suggest a bit more length to it, and the suggestions I gave you will definitely help with that. There's no 'standard' for chapter lengths as far as I know. Some novels have them short, and some have them long. I've always felt that your chapters should be about the length of a short story (ie. 2,000-6,000 words). Remember, your reader won't instantly see in their minds what you see in yours. You need to show them your scene with your words. Let them experience whatever dispair the woman felt in that room. Try incorporating a bit more show vs tell.

Overall I can see this being a terrific prologue for your novel, with some more detail to clarify things for your readers. Remember that the prologue will set the tone for the story and needs to grab your readers' attention. They should have a feel for something of the plot and give a good idea of the genre (if any).

I look forward to reading more!

*hugs*
Jayelle

Strangedays410
June 6th, 2013, 07:43 PM
I hadn't planned on dropping pennies around on others' work, my first day as a guest here. Out of those of whom i've read so far, i wanted to comment on your writing though--just some observations as a reader. Your knack for graphic description is uncanny. I love the imagery of the useless junk. You have some finesse there. Again only as a reader, I'd like to see a touch less obscurity, where possible. In certain places in the excerpt, it sounds like that's actually what you were aiming for...opacity, as an effect. I was hooked, except in those places...where you almost lost me.

For example, something like, "They refracted the antiquated streams of light, producing from their crippled bodies rainbows that invaded the somber simplicity of the massive archives of previous ages," at the least, I would make shorter--trim it down, length and adjective-wise. You might find more strength there, in doing so. Hope you don't mind the input. The battle against wordiness--and not providing reader-friendly clarity--is one I fight every day. I deliberately delayed reading Jayelle's input until after I said these things. I'll do that now though!

Miles

Quick239
June 6th, 2013, 07:49 PM
I've updated it by trying to follow your advice (big thanks for that by the way) and I hope it sounds more complete then it once did. If you have the time to read the updated version I'd be happy for your more than helpful tips.

Death's Thrall - Prologue (Updated)

Her world was simple, confined as she was to a room without doors or windows that spanned hundreds of miles. The walls held countless tapestries, portraits and paintings of ages past as well as innumerable disparate wooden shelves fashioned from driftwood and shattered splinters the size of a small carriage. She had, over the years, ineptly fastened every single one of them into the solid rock walls of her chambers producing an unorganized jumble of mismatched storage space. Her only escape lay in the long and rusty steel ladder leading from the center of her dominion to a giant gaping hole in her prison’s ceiling topped with bars wider than a grown man’s arm – which opened only when there was work to be done.

She had quickly taken to retrieving random items from her voyages up her rusty ladder and into the human world. Each item found a home on her thick wooden slabs hanging from the walls. She had nor friends nor family, only objects to keep her company. Her eternity was spent wallowing in self-pity, working or caring for her pretties as she had deemed was the most suitable name for her haphazard collection of mundane items. She snatched them away while she was out fulfilling her duties and kept them from dying –seeing to their every need or whim as a mother would for her child.

It came at first as a wispy presence, centuries ago – a singularly oppressing void of sound or disquiet. It inhabited the room; filling every inch of space that was not already cluttered with useless junk –shattered rocks, discarded clocks, a few beads from a fractured necklace, the distorted frame of an ancient painting, and even an old monocle missing its golden chain. They were exposed solemnly on the row of disorderly shelves ranging from short to disproportionate. Each item had a place, a home from which it never left until it died or was forgotten or replaced.

The Silence lay behind a forgotten family heirloom, a discarded deck of cards that was missing most of its content and a shattered bottle of what used to be red wine; it roamed between and beneath every little piece of antediluvian memorial. It seamlessly blended with the archaic and the mundane, the prehistoric and the novel. It had no form or shadow and yet lived within all things whose stories were long consigned to oblivion, treading grounds were footprints were long dried-out and blown over by the sands of time. It had no name or trait other than the lack of anything defining.

She saw it as a newcomer, something who would share her misery and so she welcomed it into her world without question – hoping against all rationality for a friend, if even a mute one. They shared pain and suffering without exchanging words or thoughts. She came to love its underwhelming presence and its unknown nature as more than mere silence.

Most of what had been contained in the room when the Silence had arrived had since turned to dust, replaced by more modern pieces of human history or forgotten entirely by their master. She had left her possessions to rot, enjoying the Silence’s company rather than her pretties’ endless demands for attention. Without most of its outdated memorials the room had a peculiar sort of post-apocalyptic beauty, reaching beneath and beyond the comprehension of the mind. A single stream of white light from the oculus bathed the cavernous room with warmth; catching in its path the floating dust of olden books. It barely reached the walls of the infinite room – shadows creeping where the light never shone.

The shadows had grown thicker and stronger over the years –seeking only to rip her world apart; to liberate their fallen companion. They tore at the base of the walls with small claws as sharp as razors. Cracks grew along their surface, reaching the ceiling and the massive oculus of tempered steel. Rust fell in clumps to the dirt floor, sending thick clouds in the air as they did. The giant ladder swayed and fell as well, ringing clearly and loudly, echoing in the cave-like room. The shadows rejoiced.

The Silence cracked and awoke – leaving behind the shards of its previous hold on the realm of trinkets and novelties. They refracted the antiquated streams of light, producing from their crippled bodies rainbows that invaded the somber simplicity of the massive archives of previous ages. It stood as a violation of an unbeknownst sanctuary, untouched by the gritty hands of humanity and unsoiled by their delusive ideals. The broken Silence lay crippled in the center of the entire decorum; a corpse crookedly placed within its walls.

She knew her world was collapsing,that her time had finally drawn to an end. She had to leave. She didn’t want to leave her home. She had spent an incalculable number of eons within the walls of her prison, work flooding her every waking moment. Yet, she desperately wanted to stay. Tears lulled at the edge of her eyes, gliding slowly across her skin and meeting their untimely demise on the dusty floor. They formed an uneven puddle at her feet, drawing incomprehensible designs in the gathered dirt.

She rolled under the shadows of her decrepit earthly possessions – hoping one would fall from its shelf to end her renewed misery. None were so lenient as to fulfil her wish. She clutched at the hem ofher dress, stark alabaster in the obsidian darkness and fell as the floor gave way.

She wept – a lonesome soul once again in the unavailing darkness.

ForgedinFlames
June 6th, 2013, 09:22 PM
I love how you personify silence (at least that's what I got from the piece), describing its end as some sound is introduced into an old room. Your writing is poetic in nature, something that I can relate to. Each sentence is alive and intrigues the senses. Action isn't simply told, yet shown in elaborately portrayed images that invoke emotion. This style of writing, at least for me, is taxing, and leaves me winded after writing something around this length, so I can understand the halt in progress. To me, this works very well as a flash fiction piece; although if you want to move forward, I'd explore whatever sound I believe has been introduced. Who or what produces it? How does it change the pace? What is at stake? Keep up the good work!

Strangedays410
June 6th, 2013, 09:45 PM
Good editing! In general, I think this is incredible--rough, but powerful. My only desire (as a reader of course) would be: in some places, to see still fewer words...especially where adjectives hang in clusters. For example, instead of "giant gaping hole," I'd personally just go for gaping hole, or the like. Further, I might even like to see a whole sentence or two omitted, just to tighten up some paragraphs...but then, I'm extreme that way.

I think many of these lines are well-tuned. Having said that, the sentence I pointed out before still upsets me a little:). I mean that respectfully, of course. These are only my humble opinions, for what they're worth.

Miles

Quick239
June 7th, 2013, 01:09 AM
Good editing! In general, I think this is incredible--rough, but powerful. My only desire (as a reader of course) would be: in some places, to see still fewer words...especially where adjectives hang in clusters. For example, instead of "giant gaping hole," I'd personally just go for gaping hole, or the like. Further, I might even like to see a whole sentence or two omitted, just to tighten up some paragraphs...but then, I'm extreme that way.

I think many of these lines are well-tuned. Having said that, the sentence I pointed out before still upsets me a little:). I mean that respectfully, of course. These are only my humble opinions, for what they're worth.

Miles

I have to re-edit the piece by taking your advice in mind as I've only edited the first time by listening to what jayelle had to say. I'll see if I can simply and redact a few things to go with your advice.

Thank you again :)

Quick239

Strangedays410
June 7th, 2013, 01:19 AM
Sounds good. In the end though, go with what you feel is right. These are only suggestions--and I'm just another writer...like you:).

Quick239
June 7th, 2013, 01:40 AM
Sounds good. In the end though, go with what you feel is right. These are only suggestions--and I'm just another writer...like you:).

I would agree with you that certain parts of the story are too wordy and would gain from being simplified a little. As my writing is a little over the top when it comes to describing and being verbose, it isn't an easy thing to do but I will work on it :)

InkwellMachine
June 7th, 2013, 02:03 AM
I have to agree that your use of adjectives for imagery is quite lovely in some places. You find words to describe things that I personally wouldn't have thought to use (like her dress as "alabaster)", but then again I side more on the beige half of the spectrum. That being said, some areas are a bit too overwhelmingly purple for my tastes.

For instance, try reading "they refracted the antiquated streams of light, producing from their crippled bodies rainbows that invaded the somber simplicity of the massive archives of previous ages" out loud and tell me it doesn't sound like a bit of a mouthful. It's not bad writing, and in fact it's quite aesthetically pleasing, but there are so many syllables. It could be far simpler while still conveying the same imagery and making the same points about the contrast between color and the simple archives. I won't venture to twist your style into something more palatable for writers like myself, but I think you would do well to write with a bit less complexity. It's easier on the reader, which is always a good thing.

I'd be interested to know the significance the silence plays in the scene. Perhaps we will find out later? Or perhaps it's implied and I missed it.

Strangedays410
June 7th, 2013, 02:40 AM
I'll be curious to see what you come up with...and where the piece goes, for that matter--some change in her circumstance, I'd assume.

As an aside, as far as the sentence InkwellMachine mentioned: I'd reduce it to bones, and then start from there. They refracted light, producing rainbows that invaded the archives of previous ages. At least, I think those are the bones of it; correct me if I'm wrong. If that's what you mean to say, then I'd just start adding adjectives one by one--and season-to-taste, so to speak. Just something to monkey around with, if you'd like.

Miles

Quick239
June 7th, 2013, 03:11 AM
Here's an updated version of the paragraph even I find to be too complex (Thoughts?):

The Silence cracked and awoke – leaving behind the shards of its previous hold on the realm of trinkets and novelties. They refracted the antiquated streams of light, producing rainbows that invaded the massive archives. It stood as a violation of a sanctuary untouched by the gritty hands of humanity and unsoiled by their delusive ideals. The broken Silence lay crippled in the center of the entire decorum; a corpse crookedly placed within its walls.

I've simplified some of the heavier parts of the text in a similar fashion in a hope to make it easier on the reader. I must admit it flows easier and sounds better without losing what I consider to be my style of writing.

As for Inkwell's question about The Silence, it is in case one of the antagonists of the story. It isn't exactly clear so far how it will play that role but the female in and of herself isn't normal either. The female depicted in the prologue is the female lead character which is joined by the main character in the 1st chapter of the novel. I'll be posting it sometime next week once I'm done editing the prologue and proofreading the first chapter.

Thank you all for your comments and I hope you'll like the continuity of the story :)

Quick239

Strangedays410
June 7th, 2013, 04:03 AM
You are one hard working writer, my friend! The lines definitely flow better--the rhythm is far more friendly. That one paragraph is a bit of a brain buster though, and parts of its meaning might be over my head. As for structure though, you may think about clarifying They--by saying The shards (or slivers), if that's what you're referring to. Likewise, I'm inferring that It refers to the Silence (as it's singular). If so, you might state that.

My main concern is that, in a narrative, if you make the reader think too hard about what you mean, you may lose him/her. This is particularly true in a prologue. I see that you're inclined toward the abstract--which can be good, in the right places...for the right amount of time. In my opinion, one walks a fine line there, in a novel. The rest of the passage is ok in that regard (just speaking of abstraction), but that one paragraph is the most difficult for me. i'm curious what others would say though. I'm just one man...and not necessarily all that bright. Lol. You're on the right track though...and your work ethic is inspiring. Truly.

jayelle_cochran
June 7th, 2013, 04:11 PM
I absolutely love the revisions you made. This flows better and there's no confusion from this reader. :) I love the descriptiveness of your words and find myself very curious about the woman and the world she's in. I'm curious and I want to read more. :D There are a few grammar mistakes that I saw, mostly with punctuation. However, I always feel odd correcting someone's grammar. I'm not great in that area. lol

Keep up the good work!

*hugs*
Jayelle

Quick239
June 7th, 2013, 04:24 PM
I absolutely love the revisions you made. This flows better and there's no confusion from this reader. :) I love the descriptiveness of your words and find myself very curious about the woman and the world she's in. I'm curious and I want to read more. :D There are a few grammar mistakes that I saw, mostly with punctuation. However, I always feel odd correcting someone's grammar. I'm not great in that area. lol

Keep up the good work!

*hugs*
Jayelle

English is my second language and I've always had a few issues with grammar, specifically with using too much or too little punctuation when needed. I tend to write extremely long sentences when they could obviously be cut down to the bones :P

Thanks for the tip and I'll try to work on it with a few exercises to see if I can't better my writing :)

Have a nice day,
Quick239

jayelle_cochran
June 7th, 2013, 05:19 PM
Honestly, I couldn't tell that English is your second language. You write as though you've spoke it all your life. That's very impressive! I only saw a few things, to be honest, and I'm not entirely sure about them. Grammar is NOT my strong suit at all, and English is my native language. lol

Keep up the good work!

*hugs*
Jayelle

IWrite..Kinda
June 14th, 2013, 05:22 AM
I enjoy the vagueness of this passage, it really opens a lot of doors for a novel... I hope you'll find the right door and continue this