*STATUS UPDATE* Book 4 ARCs going out this week! YAY! Book signing at B&N this Saturday 9/10 2-4pm at 1565 Niagara Falls Boulevard, Amherst, NY, 14228 <3, finished first draft of book 5!!!!!!!, drafting book 6, reading 5 to my writers’ group. Currently reading “The beginning of everything”. Oh, and then school started again ;)
Send your work at at gaia.b.amman at gmail dot com with subject “200 words” (you will be added to my subscribers’ list). Today we have the beginning of a novel. The author described the following issue:
My biggest problem with this novel is that the world and culture is so different from our own, and I am anxious for the reader to feel comfortable in it. I need to know if you, or readers in general, would feel lost or jostled in this opening.
This is the text as I received it:
Sunrise bloomed over the marshes’ shore. The light spilled over the frosted glass domes; painting vibrant colours over the saltreeds. The birds trilled. The breeze flew. Relief breathed life into the small farm.
At the edge of the field, far from their home in the dome, stood a family of four. The scales on their shoulders shuddered. Their breaths were shallow and sharp. They tossed the bright orange and red feathers of the perished oriole into the ground. The Father sang in broken measures.
“Skysong, may you protect her soul in its journey to your haven. Firewings, we cast these feathers that she may be given new birth. Silence may not prevail in Death.”
The Father’s strength caved. He clenched his wife’s hand and grappled his sons to his side. The younger son, still his softscales, wept freely and loudly. The Mother tightened her grip. She straightened.
“Kayde the Azure of Saltreed Farms, we speak your name for the first time since your parting. As we tell of your life, empower our nurturing and inner strength. May your story live to the end of days.”
The eldest son then broke the embrace and bitterly shoveled the silt over his sister.
- “Sunrise bloomed” AWESOME.
- Marshes’ shore or mashes shores? In most cases when you refer to a part of something (car door, living room window) you don’t use the genitive (the possessive ‘s or, in this case being the word plural, just the ‘). I really don’t know what would be best here. Either way it sounds a bit awkward to me. As anytime I stumble on a sticky grammar situation and a quick blog visit will not get me out of it, I rephrase to avoid the issue. “Marshy shore” sounds better to me ;)
- Semicolon separates two independent clauses (two sentences that could stand by themselves. The appropriate punctuation before the gerund (ing form) is a comma, implying that the subject of the ing verb is the same as the main clause (the light).
- “Colours” is British English and for the life of me, I am not going to change it. FYI, if you plan to publish in US, most editors will give you hell over English spelling (as if readers couldn’t figure it out)
- Salt reeds is two words. It would be no big deal if you decided to make a new word since you’re writing fantasy. For this reason I left it as one. In fact, I think you should avoid using words of common plants and animals. It detracts from the fantasy atmosphere.
- I am a bit confused about the number of domes. Is this a city (like the first sentence implies) or just the farm with its own dome (as the rest of the paragraph makes me think)?
- I am not loving the “breeze flew” though that’s personal. To me it sounds a bit forced.
- I am confused about the relief part. From what? Is the breeze relieving the farm from heat? Are we relieved that Kayla died?
- I turned around the sentence with the family of four to turn it from passive to active. In general the active form helps the narration to go smoother and faster.
- “Tossing” the feathers doesn’t seem particularly loving. Maybe you meant it that way?
- The whole paragraph about the family sees all four people doing exactly the same things (the standing, the shuddering, the tossing), which seems a bit artificial.
- I called the oriole gor-oriole to make it sound a bit different
- Why is Father capitalized? It should be capitalized only when used as a proper name (Ex. “Father, why did you...”)
- Make sure you are using the most appropriate verbs. I don’t think “grapple” is the right choice here. And is he really grappling both sons at once, while squeezing his wife’s hand? The strength “caved” could be okay, but to me “failed” sounds a bit better.
- Avoid adverbs whenever possible by replacing the verb with a more descriptive one. “Crying freely and loudly” could be “bawling” :)
- Is the second part of the prayer spoken by the mother or the father?
Sunrise bloomed over the marshy shore. The light spilled over the frosted glass domes, painting vibrant colours over the saltreeds. The birds trilled in the breeze that breathed through the small farm.
A family of four stood at the edge of the field, far from their home in one of the domes. The mother laid the bright orange and red feathers of the perished gor-oriole into the ground, while the father sang in broken measures.
“Skysong, may you protect her soul in its journey to your haven. Firewings, we cast these feathers so that she may be given new birth. Silence may not prevail in Death.”
The father’s strength failed. He clenched his wife’s hand and leaned on his elder son. The younger one, the scales on his shoulders still soft, bawled. The Mother tightened her grip on the husband’s hand and straightened.
She said, “Kayde the Azure of Saltreed Farms, we speak your name for the first time since your parting. As we tell of your life, empower our nurturing and inner strength. May your story live to the end of days.”
The eldest son then broke the embrace and bitterly shoveled the silt over his sister’s remains.
I am Gaia B Amman, 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 ;)
You can check out the books here (e-books, paperbacks, audio)
Book 4, Sex-O-S, comes out November 6th!!! YAY ^_^
The books are recommended for ages 13 and above, but most of my readers are adults.
Like my advice?My Indie Author Guide, collecting all of my advice, is available on Amazon for $2.99, but Tumblr folks can get it for free here :)