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Teen adventure/romance (1 Viewer)

Passions

Member
These are chapters 1, 2 and part of 3 of a novel I'm attempting to write. PLEASE feel free to critique, and don't be afraid to be blunt. This is sort of a first draft, so it may feel like things are missing in some areas.

CHAPTER 1

Mother’s hands were perfect, Robin thought. Her fingers were long and delicate, and surprisingly young-looking despite her condition. He had seen them so many times: washing dishes, smoothing her worn dress, closely holding him as a child when he was on the verge of sleep. Her hands looked angelic in contrast to everything she touched. And now they were in his own, cold and limp.
He laid them carefully on her stomach, taking one last look at her serene face. The funeral director was waiting for him outside to arrange the details. It was all too soon, he thought.
He left her and stepped through the silk curtain that hung in place of their door. It occurred to him that this was the last time he would see her, and he couldn’t help the tears that began to run down his face. His hands gripped the edge of a shelf as he tried to steady himself, its glass décor clinking together at the disruption.
It felt as if time had stopped all at once. His life would no longer be how it was, and he had not yet had the time to figure out what he was going to do. The three-day-old clothes he was wearing and red, tear-worn blotches on his young face and were evidence of this.
He sauntered down the dimly-lit hall that led to his mother’s writing desk. He could not bring himself to greet the man who now sat behind it. The man’s dark, heavy-lidded eyes fluttered to him for a moment, but then looked down once again, as if seeing nothing.
Robin felt heat rise to his cheeks, an anger that he had been trying to suppress for the long past few days. For a moment he thought of speaking to the man, but at a second thought he knew it would be hopeless. Careful to make his steps light, he continued on.
He found the funeral director outside, eyeing him thoughtfully. Robin told him to start. There were long lists of guests to read through, flowers to choose, bittersweet songs to remember.
“And where do you want it to be held sir?” The director asked.
Robin knew this one already. “The harbor.”

* * *
Ships flowed in and out, seagulls greeting them with fervor. The sky was white and misty, the air damp. A young girl was singing a familiar song. Its tune was bright and vivid to Robin, contrasting with the black-clothed people that gathered. It was one his mother sang to him.

“Gentle and wild, gentle and wild
Like the waves of the ocean you are, my child
Bathed in sweet water, you lay in my arms
And like the birds overhead, you may fear no harm

Gentle and wild, gentle and wild
Like the waves of the ocean you are, my child
One sun-clad morning we’ll sail out to sea
And then you may sing this lullaby to me.”


Robin watched the wispy clouds disperse as he mounted the carriage. He was heading home. But the word home had a different meaning now.
The horses halted at the storefront. He found himself pressing his hands against the cool glass window of the shop, gazing despairingly into it.
The antique shop that he and his mother owned sat right on the most crowded road in the village. Its business was growing despite its petite size and widely eclectic variety of things. They were most fond of the imports from Japan, for his Mother had silk shoes that she kept like a treasure. She had always said she was proud of the shop, even when it wasn’t doing well. Even when she had to borrow soap from the neighbors and make a loaf of bread last for weeks. When they finally began gaining more customers, she would cry about how grateful she was.
They lived in the few rooms that were connected to the back of the shop. It only contained a small kitchen and two beds, but it was enough.
He opened the door reluctantly, the old store bell chiming in response. The old man was still sitting on the far wall at the desk, looking down at random masses of parchment.
Robin looked at him warily. The man was once called his father, although the name had become foreign by now. It was as if he had crushed it along with the dried leaves he stepped on as he left his family at the door. Robin did not know him.
He glanced up when Robin entered and let out a hasty “hello.”
“Hi,” Robin answered, and turned to go to his room.
“Wait one moment,” he grunted.
Robin stood, unmoving.
“Now boy, I want you to understand the responsibilities you have in keeping this shop. Make sure you dust everything everyday before customers arrive,” he said as he scribbled something on his parchment. “And when you do the laundry, don’t wring out my vest. You know I don’t like that.”
Actually, I don’t know, Robin thought. And he also had no idea what laundry had to do with the shop. But too weary and worn to fight, he only responded “Yes sir.”
“And I want all of your precious mother’s things out of here before tomorrow.”
Robin narrowed his eyes at him, feeling new energy burn through his body.
“No.”
“What was that? No? Boy, I don’t think you know who you’re squabbling at.” The old man looked grossly smug as he continued his writing.
“You’re right,” Robin asserted. “I don’t.” He swiftly turned and strode into his room.
The angry heat was now swallowing him. His father had no right to be there. The fact that Robin had not seen his face for 18 whole years was one thing, but that he came back only to make money and drive sharp, painful nails into what was once a small, happy, protected life was unbearable. The papers said that his father had the right to the shop after Mother died. He owned absolutely everything—but because of what? He was once married to a woman for a year?
Robin dove into his bed, sweat beading onto his forehead. Lethargy gradually began to drown some of the anger as his muscles sunk into the soft mattress.
“Mother, why did you have to leave me now?” He moaned silently. And his pillow began to dampen with tears once again.
He heard a knock on the door. None other than his father, he guessed.
“Don’t forget, all of her things out, tonight!”
Robin chucked his pillow at the door. It made no sound.
The old man didn’t wait for a response. He added, “Oh, but leave those shoes. You hear? They might be valuable.”
At this, Robin knew what he must do. After his father was asleep, he gathered his mother’s belongings and buried them in the thick dirt at the side of the shop. As the moon began to peak, he fell asleep in his bed, the shoes tucked close to his chest. He would leave in the morning.

CHAPTER 2

It was the one place he loved besides the shop. There had to be a place to hide there.
He ran, his lungs aching as he breathed in the cold spring air. The old man was not far behind. Robin could see his thickset figure struggling to chase after him. He was yelling repeatedly “Give me those shoes, you pirate!”
The ocean was becoming clearer in his view. He knew the docks would be busy this time of year; he just needed to find the right ship.
Right away he was surprised to come upon a rather large, utterly old-looking one. He had never seen anything like it. It was quite ratty; a classic ship, with broad sails and small porthole windows.
With no time to think, he jumped onto its deck and, spotting no one there, thrust open the nearest hatch and flung himself down.
There he found a sizable compartment. It looked to be a good enough hiding place. His heart pounded, almost drowning out the shouts of his father outside. He listened as the voice drew quieter until he could hear it no more. I am safe, he thought, and breathed a deep breath. It astonished him that something so simple could make him so happy. Unexplainable joy washed over him.
As his eyes adjusted to the darkness, he began to look around. The first thought that came to him was how girly. There were cerulean ruffled curtains—everywhere, it seemed, and a little bed with embroidered coverings and lacey pillows. There was a rather large wooden box against one corner, with a lock as big as his hand on the front. A tall mirror was leaning against another. He couldn’t tell whether the room had been used recently or not, but he got the eerie feeling that he should not stay for long.
After waiting a few more moments in silence, he made his way back into the white light of the day and strained to see his surroundings. When his eyes finally adjusted he jumped. For there was a figure there, just a few yards away. Its head was turned, its hands grasping the ledge that ran along the edge of the ship.
A girl.
Well of course, he thought, remembering the fashionable room.
He could not see her face, but the hair that fell out of her bonnet was dark and curly, reaching her lower back. She wore a white-and-blue dress and no stockings. And with shock, he examined no shoes.
She looked his way. “Aiii! Who are you?!” Her eyes widened as she observed his tall figure and battered garb. Her face scrunched with fear and disbelief. He could not even tell if she was pretty. “Tell me now!” she yelled. “My brother is not far away!”
He stepped forward, hand held out. The girl drew back.
“Robin,” he announced.
She stood, stubbornly, refusing to trust his hand. “And what am I supposed to know from a name? Who are you, boy? Where do you come from and why are you on our ship?”
He paused, looking out at the waves that calmly thrust forward. He didn’t know what to tell her. .
“I’m from the village. Uh...I was playing hide-and-seek,” he said.
“With who?”
“Friends! My friends. I happened to think this ship was a good hiding place.” He coughed. “Don’t you think it is a good hiding place?”
"What a lie you tell,” she said smirking and shaking her head. “Just because I'm a girl, doesn't mean I'm dim-witted."
Robin looked away, embarrassed. "Okay. I was running away.” he said. Foreseeing the questioning that would follow, he added, “from my father."
“Tsk-tsk boy, who do you think you are?”
How sympathetic, Robin thought. “Listen,” he said, “I can’t go back there. I can’t. If you are sailing, let me come with you. I beg you.”
“Are you crazy? I don’t even know you!” she said, shoving at his back. “Get off this ship before the others come—“
Before she was able to actually tip him over the edge, a large, bald man with a large tattoo--on his head--appeared out of the captain’s quarters. Robin looked at him incredulously. He was very muscular; his skin was sweaty against his monstrous biceps. He wore what looked to be a fancy captain’s vest with large golden buttons up the front. What was strange was that he wore nothing underneath, which made his bulging muscles seem all the more menacing.
“Brother!” the girl cried.
The large man stopped in his tracks and stared, wide-eyed, at Robin. Robin stood awkwardly, waiting for him to say something. But he didn’t. After what seemed to be a lifetime, Robin finally blurted out “Uh…hello.”
The man still stood there, unmoving. The girl, who seemed to only now realize the uneasiness of the situation, gently elbowed her brother in the arm (which looked to be about the size of her). The man turned to her and started to motion frantically with his hands, gesturing in Robin’s direction. The girl nodded with understanding.
“He says you look like you’ve just been washed up on shore,” She giggled.
The man looked at him and acted-out a wild chuckle, his chest heaving up and down. He let out his hand for Robin to shake.
“His name’s Gerrit. He’s mute,” the girl said, looking slightly annoyed. “He seems to like you. Unfortunately.”
Robin gave her an irritated look, and shook Gerrit’s hand. “Robin Findley” he said. Gerrit patted him firmly on the back. He gestured something else to his sister and she whispered something unintelligible back. After more exchanges, she finally turned to him.
“He says we should get you cleaned up, and then we can talk,” she translated.
“Wait,” Robin said, “I don’t know your name yet.”
The girl shifted anxiously in her place. “I’m Noelle Archer.”
“Noelle. Ah, like Christmas! Lovely.”
She crossed her arms. Something, Robin thought, she appeared to love to do.
“Only a few minutes in my presence and you are beginning to truly annoy me.” She muttered.

CHAPTER 3

Robin rested deeper into the steamy water that the Archers had put out for him. He had been bathing for what felt to be an hour now, and finally heard an expected knock on the door.
“Yes?” He responded, his aching neck straining to lift his head off the edge of the washbasin.
“Aye dear, you almost done?” an older woman’s voice responded.
Robin froze. He had figured there were more people on the ship, but the voice still took him by surprise.
“Yes, I’m alm—“ he began to reply, but she had already swung the door open, her tall figure approaching him.
His first instinct was to stand, but realizing the situation, he stopped himself. Instead he plunged quickly into the water, pulling his legs up to his chest.
“Oh dear, I’m sorry to startle you,” she said to him with a look that was both friendly and concerned. She turned to a basket that sat on her hip and pulled out a towel and a large white shirt. “Unfortunately there wasn’t an extra pair of pants to be borrowed, so you’ll have to wear yours. But here you go.”
Robin was still curled up at the far edge of the basin.
“Come now child, I have a son you know. Nothing I haven’t seen before,” she chuckled.
The woman was absurd, Robin thought. But he saw that her face was both humorous and wise. She looked around fifty, and still retained some of her beauty despite the lines that ran under her lids.
He resigned to take the towel. She left him to dry off. Robin regretted not being friendlier, for she reminded him a little of his mother.
Noelle and Gerrit were waiting for him in a small dining area. Robin had not realized the extent to which the below-deck compartments were used; for he had never been in one. Books and belongings were piled everywhere, as were maps and parchment. Once in a while he would see a scrap of old food.
They motioned for him to sit. Noelle looked slightly uncomfortable, her eyes flickering back and forth between him and her brother in the yellow candlelight. Gerrit looked contrastingly content.
Unable to make the situation less awkward, he slumped into a chair at the end of the table, threading his fingers together on his lap.
“So…” he began.
 
Last edited:

Mike

Senior Member
Mother’s hands, Robin thought, were perfect. Though placidly white, her fingers were long and delicate, and surprisingly young-looking despite her condition. He had seen them so many times; washing dishes, smoothing her worn dress, holding him closely as a child when he was on the verge of sleep. They looked angelic in contrast to everything she touched. And now they were in his own, cold and limp.
1. "Mother's hands, Robin thought, were perfect." This first sentence needs to be smooth. Although correct grammatically, I would rather see it as, "Robin thought Mother's hands were perfect," or, "Mother's hands were perfect, thought Robin." It keeps us from tripping up as we read.
2. "Though placidly white" - Though or although are used for comparison or contrary statements - for exceptions. There is no exception here. You're describing the color of her skin. Example of how to fix this: "Her fingers were long, delicate and placidly white."
3. "times;" - times:
4. "closely" - move to before holding (closely holding) or else it impacts the phrase 'as a child'
5. "They looked angelic" - Her hands looked/were angelic...
6. "own" - own hands. Or: And now he held them.
7. "cold and limp" - I'd rather see: And now they were cold and limp in his hands.


He steadied himself on a shelf, its items clinking together at the disruption.
I can't really imagine his posture. Does he lean against a shelf? How do the items clink together? What items are they? How do the items move while the shelf does not fall?

It felt as if time had stopped all at once. His life would no longer be how it was, and he had not yet had the time to figure out what he was going to do. The red stains on his young face and wet, three-day-old clothes were evidence of this.
1. "all at once" - change to 'suddenly' or omit. It's awkward how it is now.
2. "and wet, three-day-old clothes" - and on the wet, three-day old clothes
3. "evidence" - I don't see the relationship between what Robin is going to do and the red stains on his person. At this point in the story, he could have murdered his mother, or found his mother's body, or was interrupted while painting a portrait of his mother.

He made his way down the dimly-lit hall that led to his mother’s writing desk. He could not bring himself to greet the man who now sat behind it. The man’s dark, wrinkly-lidded eyes fluttered to him for a moment, but then looked down once again, as if they had seen nothing. Robin supposed that, to him, he was quite close to nothing.
1. "He made his way down" - simplify it with a verb (walked, sauntered, marched) which also can relate how Robin is feeling emotionally.
2. "could not bring himself to" - my opinion to replace with 'did not'
3. "wrinkly-lidded - very awkward adjective
4. "Robin supposed that...close to nothing." - Awkward sentence, especially with its relational thought. I would simplify it to something like this: The man must have thought Robin was a nobody.

Without anything to address, he continued on.
Be careful here. You introduce us to a man sitting behind a writing desk, and then suddenly there's no significance to the image. You hinted at perhaps something confrontational between the two men.

He arrived outside, finding the funeral director there, eyeing him thoughtfully. Any embarrassment he might have felt about his chaotic appearance was long gone by now. He told the director to start. There were long lists of guests to read through, flowers to choose, bittersweet songs to remember.
1. "He arrived outside...eyeing him thoughtfully." Simplify. He found the director outside.
2. "Any embarrassment...by now." This could be moved to the first description of Robin's appearance, or omitted.
3. "He told the director...songs to remember." These two sentences could be combined. You could also introduce a feeling of helplessness by the use of passive interaction (such as: When the director saw him, he began to read from his clipboard as if checking off things on a grocery list. The guest list became sardines. Daisies and lavenders were bottles of ketchup, and those bittersweet songs that Robin remembered so fondly now turned to mayonnaise.)


Ships flowed in and out, seagulls greeting them with their fluttering.
Seperate into two sentences. I don't really like the fluttering description.

The song should be in italics and centered on the page.

But the word home, he knew, had a different meaning now.
omit

He found himself pressed against the cool glass window of the shop, gazing despairingly into it.
How is he pressed against the glass window? Full body or just his head? How does one gaze despairingly?


My intention was to go through these three chapters, but I've run out of time and must go to work. I'll come back to this later.
 

Passions

Member
WOW thank you for all of the advice! I'm not very good about the technical side of writing, so this was a big help. I'll definitely go through and see what I can fix.
 

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