View Full Version : The Peculiar Chronicles Of Withering Hall

June 8th, 2014, 11:59 PM
(I have overcome the temptation to bottle out of posting this prologue. Be gentle with me! It's a first draft of a hopefully not too serious fantasy story involving two realities, a woman, two men, an inheritance and cheese sandwiches. I have written 23,000 words so far and will need to go back to it for the first of many revisions. But anyway here goes. Oh yeah, I lied about the cheese sandwiches, they were tuna.)

The Peculiar Chroniclesof Withering Hall - Prologue

Cross reality date:1500. Time 2300 hours; Location: A room in Castle Frankel, Darist, Grimmscar.

Dr Frankel pushed the last of his notebooks into the leather satchel along with a large purse of gold coins. White, wispy hair fell across his face he raked it back over his head with a ‘tut’ of annoyance. His betrothed, Emma, stood at the window, she was rangy and tall with remarkable blue eyes. She said softly,
“The Head Proctor has the City Guard with him. We must go.”
“Soon, my love, soon.”
A hammering on the thick oaken doors. He looked at her,
“They call me blasphemer because I used science to try and make the world a better place.”
Shook his head,
“Damnable fools with their gods and their religions. Why can’t they see…….”
Emma stopped him,
“Dearest, I really don’t think it’s the time for impassioned speeches. We’re about to be burned at the stake. ”
He nodded and hoisted the satchel by its strap. Closed the bedroom door behind them for the last time.

They raced downstairs, into a narrow passage that led them to the stables. Their horses were already saddled. Frankel and his creation Emma mounted and vanished into the fog. They were never seen or heard from again in the Hallowed Lands.

The War of the Gods rumbled on for another two hundred years. The Castle Frankel fell into disrepair. It was said by the city folk of Darist that it was haunted. One hundred years after the end of the War. A man only known as The Tyrant arrived with his vanguard of D’Maj, sourcerers who employed the darkest of magic to impose their will on the people of Darist, spreading their influence gradually throughout Grimmscar. The Tyrant moved into the Castle Frankel and renamed it Bloodskull Castle. The reign of terror had begun.

Cross-reality date 1980:Time: 2100 hours: Location: A cellar in Hanley, Staffordshire, UK.

Kim Smythe-Withering had an ambition. She was going to be the female version of Keith Moon or Phil Collins. She had scraped enough money together to afford a basic drum kit and had been banished to the cellar to practice by her parents. It was the last year at Secondary school and Kim promised faithfully to revise, do her homework and her share of the household chores as long as she could practice for at least an hour every evening.

She pulled a sweatband over her short blonde hair, sat before the nearly new drum kit for the first time and held the high hat’s foot pedal down,
-now tap high hat with stick, count one, two, three, four, bass drum pedal at one and three, other stick tap snare at two and four - oh crap-
Kim sighed, started again. The cellar wall rippled, she shook her head. Lighting in there was generated from a single bare 40 watt bulb above her head, she must have imagined it. As she continued, the wall rippled again, melted and two figures fell through. Both men, one lean and tall, the other stockier build and shorter than the first.
Kim stared at them,
“Who the hell are you? How did you get here?”
The taller one was looking around,
“Good question.” he asked, “What’s your name?”
“Kim, Kim Smythe.” she tended not to use both names. As she had noted in her diary.

‘Double-barrelled names is for posh folk and frankly a bit embarrassing. But it’s a family tradition or something that both names were used when a Withering got married. Mum’s a Withering and that’s that apparently. Saw Sammy again today, he ain’t half good looking. Wonder if mum would lend me a few quid to get some Clearasil?’

The lean man shook his head,
“Can’t be that, then.”
“What, what can’t it be?”

The shorter man nudged him,
“Let’s get out now, Jim.”
A nod and they ran up the cellar stairs. In the hall, they moved quietly through until they reached the door. A couple of envelopes had been tossed onto a table to one side. Jim looked at one of them, hissed,
“Jon, look, it’s her.”
The other man shook his head,
“No time now.” A man’s voice called,
“Kim, is that you?”
They closed the front door behind them and disappeared into the wet, murky night.

In the cellar, Kim picked up a pendant that had been dropped by one of the men. Celtic design, but not valuable as far as she could tell. She pushed it into a jeans pocket and went back to her drums.

Emma Hughes-Withering

IT rained at mum’s funeral. It always seems to rain at peoples funerals. I was eighteen and now I was also parentless, dad had died six years ago, it rained at his funeral too. I had one of my ‘feelings’ as we stood at mum’s grave. I glanced around and saw a man pull back into the shadows. Shrugged, I was upset, these feelings tended to be vague at best, so I probably imagined it.

The Watcher

I looked across the graveyard at Emma. She had her mother’s looks, tall, rangy with those arresting blue eyes that seemed to be one of the Withering bloodline’s most recognisable features. I stepped back quickly as she stared in my direction. The women of the Withering family had some kind of sixth sense. I nodded to myself. It was time for the Seekers to take over now. I would return to York on the next train.

June 9th, 2014, 12:08 AM
The story in the castle was awesome. And the others had the same potentials but I got a little lost. Maybe it's just me but about the time the people apeear in the basement it gets really hard to follow.

June 9th, 2014, 09:27 AM
Okay, fair enough. It is a long story and the cellar bit is 500 years on from when Frankel left the castle reality and crossed over to ours. The Kim Withering character is descended from Dr Frankel's creation Emma. The two men who turned up in the cellar have just escaped from the Hallowed Lands and their role will become clearer as the story continues. Emma is the daughter of Kim and the last of the Withering clan. She will be the main character throughout the rest of the story. It's very hard to make things clear at first in a short space and in a first draft. Thanks for your input though, I'll try and rectify the mistakes when I redraft it.

June 9th, 2014, 10:03 AM
It is quite interesting, I do like the scene in the castle but I feel it lacks some detail. But as you said many revisions are usually required. I usually find the key is to describe as much as you can but not too much that you bore the reader. For example the first writing I did of my prologue was around 600 words. I read back through it and added details and described things a lot more and doubled it's length.

“They call me blasphemer because I used science to try and make the world a better place.”
Shook his head,
“Damnable fools with their gods and their religions. Why can’t they see…….”

I think these sentences are spoken by the same person if so there need not be a new line. I may be wrong about this bit though but the ellipsis is to long, that may be on purpose so don't take my word that it's wrong. Or if Emma is interrupting him then a dash would make more sense I think.

“They call me blasphemer because I used science to try and make the world a better place.”
Shook his head, “Damnable fools with their gods and their religions. Why can’t they see…”

As for description asking yourself questions about it might help. For example:
What does the room they are in look like?
What does the castle look like over all?
What do the horses look like?

Stuff like that but again maybe it's a story choice.
The real world part is better, some good description of the cellar with the light bulb. Maybe what the men are wearing and some of there features would be good but this part is probably a bit fast pace so she might not think to look much. Who knows, it is your story.

As she had noted in her diary:

‘Double-barrelled names is for...'

Also a colon after diary here would be better in my opinion. You have my interest and I look forward to possibly seeing more. :)

June 9th, 2014, 02:38 PM
I always applaud creative delivery. In a day and age when writing has become formulaic, when the next teen trilogy comes out every year and zombies, vampires, or angst shows up almost everywhere you go, I think the world needs more writers to think like this. For one, I enjoy the way it has a script-like feel, that the short, descriptive sentences sound more like stage directions, that by the end, you've actually launched into a full out play with Emma and with The Watcher. Your ambition definitely shines through here, combining multiple different writing styles to try and find one of your own, including snippets, time jumps, science fiction, and historical fiction. Well done.

From a structure standpoint, key in on consistency. When you start throwing multiple styles together, often, people get lost, unable to follow where things are going. For example, the separation between your stanzas doesn't make sense. Why is there a bar line space between Emma/Frankel's conversation and the next section? Does this constitute a time jump? I think you should have a line of separation between each paragraph (different speakers=different paragraphs, by the way), and something to denote when you are switching from the current voice to the diary voice (perhaps italics or a diary date). Also, I'm not sure exactly what's happening at the end with those little descriptions. Have you switched style again?

From a content standpoint, limit the amount of information you throw out there, and when you throw it, aim it. What's this about the War of the Gods thrown in there? What's that about his CREATION Emma? He made her? You can't just gloss over something of that size and impact, you know. A good exercise that I use is to go through a chapter that has lost its way and write down the cause and effect of everything I say. Why would I say this? Why does the reader need to know it? What kind of effect should it have on the story going forward? If I answer those three questions but don't find support for them in the chapter, I either include more support, or I take the piece of information out. You especially need this for the two gentleman running through from the portal because they're not very well explained.

Very funny in parts, interesting in others, lacks a bit of structure and purpose. I wish I could see more of the background information crop up in the dialogue than in the expositional pieces, but otherwise, I think you're on the right track with this piece.

June 9th, 2014, 02:42 PM
Right, appreciate your feedback and don't agree with all of it but that's the point of this kinda thing. Take on board everything you've said and sift through it. Perhaps I should give the Doc and Emma more air-time as it were. They are the first of the Withering clan in our reality after all. A castle is a castle etc. It has no special attributes that set it apart but a certain tower block in Tunis might be a good idea. As I recall it had a narrow base and spread out to one side, bit like an inverted pyramid but with one straight edge. So thanks, Cylver and Pidgeon - you've given me good reason to beef up my imagination juices. A timeline for both realities is in order now. It's something I usually do when I get a bit stuck and need to ensure continuity errors don't occur or are at least minimised.

June 9th, 2014, 04:54 PM
Sorry Pancreas, I missed your feedback or something when I replied to the other guys. Yes, he did create Emma. I've redrafted the prologue and dealt with that, eugenics and all that jazz. The war of the gods thing is almost an afterthought really, needs revising. Have to go now, tea's ready and I'm getting the stink eye from my missus! (I refuse to put 'lol' in these comments - ah, oh bugger.)

June 9th, 2014, 07:31 PM
Anyway, I need to go away and lick my wounds for a couple of days.:D I'll get back to one and all with an updated version. As to the vampire angst thing. Got to admit to it peeing me off big time. Why take such a rich subject and just turn it into a soap opera with fangs? Ta ta for the noo.

June 10th, 2014, 08:21 PM