Send your work at at gaia.b.amman at gmail dot com with subject “200 words”. Today we have the beginning of a novel written during NaNoWriMo15. This is the text as I received it:
The silken oak-wood throne was ornately carved, beautiful, and anything but comfortable. Robyn Ferrer shifted imperceptibly in the seat, envying the royal family before her, who had the luxury of velvet cushions. For what seemed like the hundredth time, Robyn cursed herself for thinking any of this was a good idea.
"My lords and ladies," Wylhelm, King of Esecra's presence commanded every eye in the room to fix upon him. His shoulder length auburn hair was like fire in the pale sunlight. "No doubt you are wondering why the court has been called today," The great hall of the palace of Mistspire was filled almost to bursting with every noble, knight and lady of the city. The murmurings had begun as soon as they had entered the room, noting the raised dais at the head of the hall and the four, not three, thrones. The King continued.
"Today is a momentous day," He spread his arms, ever the masterful politician, his wide smile practically audible. "Today, I am delighted to announce that Eloriana, heir of Esephia has returned to us!" As if on cue, every eye in the room turned to Robyn. She could feel their gaze on her, wet and sticky, examining every movement, every inch of her as if she were a work of art.
- This beginning is great in that it presents us with a conundrum right away, and it makes me curious about what sticky situation Robyn might have gotten into. Notice how all of this is mostly done by the sentence “Robyn cursed herself for thinking any of this was a good idea.” This is the strongest line of the piece.
- Too many words! With adjectives, less is more. Is the throne hard like oak or soft like silk? Is it oak covered in silk? Carved already implies “ornately”. Cut adverbs whenever possible. Here is a helpful post about descriptions :)
- “She shifted imperceptibly in the seat” this sentence is a bit of a cliché. There is nothing wrong with it, but it has been used a lot, and you might want to avoid that in your first two hundred words
- “For what seemed like the hundredth time, Robyn cursed herself for thinking any of this was a good idea”. Great! I’m curious now. Which idea? What’s happening?
- "My lords and ladies," Wylhelm, King of Esecra's presence commanded every eye in the room to fix upon him. This sentence is awkward. Is it his presence or his words that gets everyone’s attention?
- “His shoulder length auburn hair was like fire in the pale sunlight.” Shoulder length sounds a bit forced, here. How about “His auburn hair hit his shoulders, bright like fire in the sunlight. Very minor, leave it whichever way you prefer it ^_^
- Is the sunlight really pale? Why? Is it winter? Is it reflected? I think that’s a bit distracting right now.
- Cut to the chase. You will notice that I cut a lot from your middle paragraph.
- Point of view! You start as Robyn Ferrer. How does the narrator know that the nobles noted the four thrones? Make it flow more naturally. Here is a post on narration and point of view :)
- Timeline: the crowd murmurs, then the King starts his speech. Avoid going back and forth in time unless you really need to.
- Show don’t tell. Don’t tell me he’s ever the masterful politician, show me how he captivates the crowd (for example with the line you had about his smile being audible in his words) Here is a post with the tricks to show rather than telling ;)
- “As if on cue” They are on cue. The King just pointed her out.
- Be careful with the feelings you convey to your reader. Is the gaze of the crowd wet and sticky or are they looking at her as if she were a work of art? The first hints at curiosity, maybe lust, while the second points more ad reverence and admiration. Although I really liked the wet and sticky gazes, I think the second is more appropriate. Then again, how many in the crowd you described would be familiar with a work of art? Maybe a miracle?
- Wouldn’t the crowd react with surprise and murmurs at the announcement?
Robyn Ferrer could have spent hours studying the intricate carvings on the wooden oak throne. Unfortunately it was anything but comfortable.
She glowered at the royal family before her, who had the luxury of velvet cushions, and then at the whole court, gathered murmuring in front of the four, not three, thrones. For what seemed like the hundredth time, Robyn cursed herself for thinking any of this was a good idea.
"My lords and ladies," Wylhelm, King of Esecra, announced in his low, rumbling voice. Silence ensued, as every eye in the room fixed upon him. Robyn noticed his long, auburn hair hitting his shoulders,bright like fire in the sunlight.
The King continued, his wide smile infused in his words, "Today is a momentous day," He spread his arm toward Robyn, "Today, Eloriana, heir of Esephia has returned to us!"
The room exploded in excited whispers as every eye in the room turned to Robyn, as if she were a miracle.
I am Gaia B Amman, and I am tired of writers scrambling to get peer review and advice. Writers unite! Let’s help each other. You are not alone in your quest <3
I am also the author of the Italian Saga (#TIS), a series taking place in gorgeous Italy, and talking about everything I was told is impolite to talk about ;)
The books are recommended for ages 13 and above, but most of my readers are adults. Available as audio, ebooks, and paperbacks.
Check #TIS out here!