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notre dame
May 20th, 2014, 11:54 AM
I'm writing a fantasy story for kids. This is the beginning. See what you think. Apolgies if some of the spacing is a bit wonky - I think due to the copy/paste from my original document.


Chapter One: Ravens’ Ridge

No path ran between the foot of the mountain and the castle. The only means of reaching Ravens’ Ridge – or, indeed, returning from it - was to step inside an ornate, metal cage and allow heavy chains and grinding windlasses to raise and lower the cage to and from the Landing. Ascending in the cage was a slow and dizzying journey into mist and chill. It was a journey that Erek Graeg had made many times: first, as a child, with his father, later as a man, on his own. He had been afraid the first time and had clung tightly to his father’s hand as the cage left the ground and lifted skyward…

“It’s so far,” he had said. “What if the chains break and we fall?”

Edric Graeg had smiled reassuringly.

“We shall not fall,” he replied. “Arritus Flint would never allow a friend tofall.”

From the Landing and the East Tower, a long, open gallery led to the West Tower, the Gatehouse and then into the heart of Ravens’ Ridge itself. On winter days, wind and snow whipped through the arches of the gallery and made Ravens’ Ridge seem like the most inhospitable of places. But even on these wild, cold days there would soon be a welcoming light ahead, glowing through the coloured panels of high, arched windows. Then, Ravens’ Ridge would appear out of the blizzard like an enormous, ornately carved jewel casket with the amethysts, rubies and emeralds peeping from within.

Erek Graeg had stood at his father’s side and looked up at the battlements, the towers and the turrets, encrusted in old ice and fresh snow. So high did Ravens’Ridge stand above the ground, he thought it must have its foundations in the clouds. Before he could say as much, the heavy, iron-studded doors of the Gatehouse opened wide and a figure strode down the worn, stone steps to greet them.

“Edric– welcome. Welcome indeed.”
The voice belonged to a tall man, similar in age to Edric himself. The man wore a fur-trimmed cloak, coloured like dark wine, and stout leather boots. Erek remembered the boots well for he had been too shy to look into the man’s faceand had stared instead at his feet. The boots had ornate buckles to secure them and vicious spurs at the heels. The leather was patterned like scales – the scales of a reptile.

“And this, no doubt is your son.” The tall man now knelt down so that he could lookat Erek and Erek had no choice but to look at him. The man’s face mirrored the pattern on his boots and his eyes were amber with narrow, dark pupils. “Welcome,young man.”
A hand thrust out to greet him. The nails were long and dirty and pointed likeclaws. Its flesh was cold when Erek reluctantly took it. That first handshake seemed to go on for ever and he was glad when the man let go. In time, it was a handshake he welcomed.


The interior of Ravens’ Ridge was all ancient wood panelling, thick drapes and tapestries and uneven flagstones. Tables and benches were positioned carefullyand settles huddled around the fireplaces. Dogs lounged on the floor of the Great Hall where Arritus Flint kept court and carried out his day to day affairs. The scent of roasting meat and warm spices mingled with woodsmoke.Erek’s stomach growled loudly enough for Lord Flint to hear and the man smiled down at him.

“Do you not feed the boy, Edric?” he asked with a chuckle. He held out a goblet ofwine to his friend. Edric accepted with a nod of thanks. Lord Flint now crossed the Hall to a table where the remains of a meal rested on pewter plate. He took a knife from his belt and deftly hacked a chunk of meat from a leg of lamb.“Here, little man,” he said, joining his guests once again. The dogs raised their heads and sniffed. Lord Flint muttered a word and they lay down at once. Now, he offered Erek the meat.

The meat was greasy and still pink. Erek looked up at his father as though asking him whether he should take it. Edric nodded. Erek accepted it cautiously.

“Thank you, Lord Flint,” he said before putting the meat into his mouth.
“Your father and I have business to discuss, young Sir,” Arritus Flint went on. “I would not have you lingering in a corner, bored. My own son, Naish, is not much older than you. He shall take you on a tour of Ravens’ Ridge and show you our home. After all, it will become familiar to you in the years to come. I am sure there will be many opportunities for you here.”

Erek was unsure what Lord Flint might mean by ‘opportunities’, but he did not want to ask questions and appear rude. His father had told him over and over that Lord Flint set much store by good manners. He merely finished the piece of meat and waited for Naish Flint to come for him.

Naish Flint was a little older, a little taller and a good deal less uncertain than Erek. He was a cheerful, smiling boy with a mop of dark hair, clad in finely made leggings and jerkin and boots that matched his father’s. Unlike his father, there were no markings on his face and no claws for fingernails.However, his left leg jutted at a strange angle beneath his clothing and, as a result, he limped somewhat when he walked.

“What happened to it?” Erek asked as they climbed up curving stone steps into theWest Tower to visit the library.

“To what?”
“Your leg.” Erek nodded towards the deformity.
“Nothing. It’s always been that way. I might as well ask you what’s wrong with your arm.”Now, he nodded towards Erek’s left arm which was hidden beneath his cloak and clothing and folded across his chest. “Can I see?”
“I’m…not sure. Father said…”
“Oh, go on. It’s not that bad, is it?”
“Well,I suppose it’s all right.”
Erek struggled for a second with cloak and jerkin, finally revealing his left arm.Naish Flint whistled in… admiration? Certainly not surprise or shock.
“That’s awesome!” he declared. Then: “Don’t the feathers tickle? Here, it looks just like a raven’s wing! A raven’s wing in Ravens’ Ridge. There’s a story in that…”
Erekwas about to ask what kind of a story, but by now they had reached the libraryand he quickly tucked his arm out of sight again. Naish held the door open forhim and they stepped inside.

MysticalMind
May 20th, 2014, 04:07 PM
When you say this is for children, what kind of age group are you aiming for? Is it teenagers (early or mid) or people who aren't yet teenagers? This would affect how you write your story. The piece you've shared is reasonably good. However, I did spot some mistakes. For example:
reached the libraryand

Where you are linking two pieces of speech together like here:
he declared. Then:
Rather than have a colon you should get rid of it, as well as the word "then" and have a comma after the word "declared" instead.

I imagine you would have proofread this before posting it (or maybe your lax like me) so one thing I will say is that it's good to leave a story (or section of a story) for a while and then go back to it. I'm sure that then you'd fine things you'd want to change without the input of others.

A_Jones
May 20th, 2014, 04:48 PM
No path ran between the foot of the mountain and the castle. The only means of reaching Ravens’ Ridge – or, indeed, returning from it - was to step inside an ornate, metal cage and allow heavy chains and grinding windlasses to raise and lower the cage to and from the Landing. Ascending in the cage was a slow and dizzying journey into mist and chill. It was a journey that Erek Graeg had made many times: first, as a child, with his father, later as a man, on his own. He had been afraid the first time and had clung tightly to his father’s hand as the cage left the ground and lifted skyward…

You hooked me in here, made it new and intriguing to me. With some issues. 'rise and lower the cage to and from the landing' pick one or the other please. It is too many words and it drops me out of the interest of the story trying to read it.

'ascending in the cage was a slow and dizzying journy into mist and chill' the first part is thrilling but the mist and chill is a bit much for the sentence, but I like it, can you make a new sentence with it?

'first, as a child with his father,' is what it should be, take that second comma out :) sane with 'later as a man on his own.'


A hand thrust out to greet him. The nails were long and dirty and pointed likeclaws. Its flesh was cold when Erek reluctantly took it. That first handshake seemed to go on for ever and he was glad when the man let go. In time, it was a handshake he welcomed.
I like that image a lot :)


The scent of roasting meat and warm spices mingled with woodsmoke.Erek’s stomach growled loudly enough for Lord Flint to hear and the man smiled down at him.
again, very nice feeling here.


Naish Flint was a little older, a little taller and a good deal less uncertain than Erek. He was a cheerful, smiling boy with a mop of dark hair, clad in finely made leggings and jerkin and boots that matched his father’s. Unlike his father, there were no markings on his face and no claws for fingernails.However, his left leg jutted at a strange angle beneath his clothing and, as a result, he limped somewhat when he walked.
You do really well with descriptions. I feel like I could really delve into this work!

I have some little nit picks here and there that I would tell you about if I was beta reading this for you but I must say I do like it. Is this a completed work? Or a WIP?

I hope to read more of this. Just a suggestion though. When you copy and paste, copy regularly but then when you paste instead of right clicking you should do ctrl+sift+v that will take care of the double word issue.

notre dame
May 21st, 2014, 08:43 AM
MM and AJ - thank you for your comments and suggestions. Yes, it is still very much a WIP, aimed probably at the 11 - 13 age group, for there is a little violence later on. I'm still doing lots of re-editing as I go, so many of your recommended tweaks will be taken into account. Thanks for reading. :thumbr:

Cylver
May 21st, 2014, 11:31 AM
It's very interesting, you have good descriptions and an intriguing beginning for a story. Would love to read more some day :)

NerdyMJ
May 21st, 2014, 12:07 PM
This is very well written and it's definitely something I would read. You hooked me right from the beginning, but I agree with others that it's over-detailed in some places and that almost made me lose interest. You did a really great job painting a picture, though, of the setting and the characters, which is something I love because it makes it all more intriguing to me. It makes me wonder about the characters and what could possibly take place in Ravens' Ridge.
Fix the problems with the grammatical errors others have posted out because those did annoy me, I'm not going to lie, and edit out some of the minor details, so it doesn't distract from the story. Then this will be an excellent start to what I think should be an excellent story, and I hope you post more of it eventually.

MysticalMind
May 22nd, 2014, 05:38 PM
MM and AJ - thank you for your comments and suggestions. Yes, it is still very much a WIP, aimed probably at the 11 - 13 age group, for there is a little violence later on. I'm still doing lots of re-editing as I go, so many of your recommended tweaks will be taken into account. Thanks for reading. :thumbr:

Thanks for clearing that up. I suspected it was for the teenagers but you hadn't actually told readers anything about the target age group. I've also noted that you haven't amended your post with the errors/mistakes I pointed out though.

ShadowEyes
May 23rd, 2014, 02:29 AM
There's a bit of repetition in the second paragraph, with "Ravens' Ridge". I'm also having trouble picturing all of the locations in this scene. With "welcoming light," you're referring to people travelling to it, I assume. Not for people inside of it, which was my original assumption. I also had the viewpoint of it being walled, like a castle, and so I had to look over the walls to see the "jewels," but they were really the windows. The correlation took me a while to make.

If there's no path to the place, then is there a path away from it (i.e. does it guard anything)? I'm curious what a gatehouse is.

I like the bit about looking at the boots. I wonder if they're dragon-scale.
"The mans' face mirrored..." A little awkward. You haven't established any other character appearances yet, so I could very well assume that he's a lizard. (Retrospect, I can guess that he is...?) I guess you mean pocketed or wrinkly, though, right? The "narrow, dark pupils" detail is good. I can imagine that perfectly, mostly because animal eyes are so often angry.

What's a flagstone? "warm spices mingled..." gives me a Game of Thrones vibe. Well, the whole place does. But I respect that it's completely different because I never finished that half of the book. (:

I wonder which part of the main character he was referring to when he asked if he was fed. "...pewter plate," and "deftly hacked" are the most important words in this paragraph, I think. They could probably be in the only two sentences and the paragraph would be pretty similar.

"Cautiously." I pictured him giving a slight face a disgust.

Hmm, the man Flint is very straightforward with his intentions. Seems something a little too heavy-handed to say to a small boy. I would think that the man would have used the meat to condescend and bargain. But that's just my opinion. However, be it as it may, the opportunities bit is interesting.

Ah, "come for him." Was the boy sitting down? I got the impression he just handed it to him.

Hmm, Naish is cheerful. I don't like him. He seems either deceptive or worryfree. I like that he has a limitation, though. He's the first character with this quality. So, I may grow to like him. Maybe replace "mop" of hair with "shag," if it suits you. (:

Hmm, the "raven's wing" part is confusing. Are you saying the boy has a bird-arm? If so, why wasn't this mentioned earlier? It's otherwise suspenseful and interesting.

One thing I could wish for is the father's motives for bringing the kid there. It would seem like something that both of them would know.

fearofboredom
May 31st, 2014, 03:31 AM
Love this! Would have eaten it up as a 11/12 year old, definitely. I agree with the others, be wary of getting too wordy - you can loose your readers in sentences that aren't really well parsed. I have the same problem with my writing, I have to ask myself: 'Do I really need to say all of this?", and if I say yes, or just love some of the details too much to cut them, I ask "Can I break this into two sentences?" and "Can I move this detail to another statement somewhere nearby?"

One point - if he's bothering to hide the Raven's wing, I find it a little hard to believe he would show it to the older boy just because he asked, it comes across as a little weak-willed, which is generally not a characteristic I'm going for in a protagonist. I understand the need to share the information about his arm, maybe make Naish work a little harder for it though? It would help build up some suspense, as well.
Overall, you're off to a good start!

Tyler Danann
May 31st, 2014, 10:56 AM
It's pretty good reading so far. Should suck in the reader no end!