Writing: Reading book one of my next series to my writers’ group, working on book 2 (currently went from 110K to 95K and starting to shape up!
Reading: IN LOVE WITH CROOKED KINGDOM by Leigh Bardugo (I hope this book never ends)
Word of the day: cantankerous (bad-tempered)
Want me to edit your first 200 words?
E-mail them to gaia.b.amman at gmail dot com with subject 200 words and keep an eye on the blog. I will not lie, there is no way I go through the waiting list. From now on I will select whichever pieces I find more interesting for everyone to discuss. If I don’t choose your piece, it does not mean I don’t like it, but that I already discussed the topics you might want to work on. I will still e-mail you my opinion back ^_^ (sooner or later!)
Let me know if you want your name or blog url in the post, or if you wish your work to remain anonymous. Feel free to reblog and add your personal answer or any comments you might find useful for the authors who submit their first 200 words. Disagreeing with me is very reasonable and encouraged ^_^
This is the text as I received it:
Hurried footsteps led him down another flight of stairs, past a few tall pipes, and the familiar turn towards a dry sewer, which ran parallel under one of those giant cooling tubes that dump their freezing contents in the mined channel below. A dangerously long drop, the soft hum of the large exhausts muffled the sound of his footsteps as he wedged himself in. It’s always dark in here but he no longer needed to feel his way forward. Orange lights flickered from small candles on their laps, they greeted with teeth and sunken eyes. Their crudely dressed children with limp dolls huddled close to their embrace, and their shadows — taller versions of themselves — stalked their intruder like gargoyles along the walls.
Men rumbled in his wake as icy breaths hounded his heels. He always thought it was only a matter of time before they discovered this tunnel. It was dry enough to live although the cold had a habit of nipping at his nose. He pressed on, careful not to make eye contact. A shady woman was dangerously close. He maneuvered out of her way but she left her stink of sex and vomit. A baby cried near his left foot but was immediately, suspiciously shut. His steps were watchful but quick. You’d be stupid to think they can’t shank you where you stood.
- The mystery, the strange environment, the suspense. It reminded me a bit of Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman (love!)
- The use of sense of smell (vomit and sex) although I would add a bit more (sewage, I guess?), and sound
What I would change:
- I was a bit confused by the environment (are we in a sewer or in a mine?) and by “they”
- Why is there a cooling pipe in a sewer? Or why is there a sewer in a mine? I think I am a bit confused about where the action takes place. (What is a “mined channel” Where is the drop? From the cooling pipe into a different level? How is this related to the space where our MC is walking?)
- If it’s dark, why doesn’t he need to feel his way forward? If it was dark before ( he was feeling his way forward) how could he see the tall pipes? If he’s feeling them we need to know that.
- When you say “wedged in” I imagine a very small tunnel. Later it truns out that people live in it. Maybe choose a different verb?
- You switch from past tense to present (It’s always dark...). Stay consistent!
- I learn too late that he’s being pursued. I need to feel that sense of panic right at the beginning of your story, otherwise my feelings are all wrong ;)
- I really like “Men rumbled in his wake as icy breaths hounded his heels.” but I am not sure I know what you mean. Why would icy breaths hound his heels? Are the men pursuing him so close that their breath (I’m sure we’ll find out why it’s icy later) is on his heels? Because “rumbled” makes me think they are much farther back.
- Since the narration in from your MC perspective, you don’t need to tell us “He always thought” just cut to the chase ;)
- I literally though the children were dressed with dolls. Do all the children have limp dolls? In general I think it would be more effective to switch from “they” to a specific character or two.
- “The children huddling close to their embrace and their shadows” is very poetic, but literally incorrect. It bothers me, but someone else might love it ;)
- I was a bit unclear about “their intruder” Is that “him”? (Our MC?)
- You “showed me” the tunnel is dry enough for people to live in it. You don’t need to say it again :) Good show don’t tell!
- “A shady woman was dangerously close” where did she come from? Did she jump him?
- “Cold nipping at his nose” is too christmassy, it spoils the mood :P
- “Shut up” means hushed. “Shut” means closed. Watch out.
- “You’d be stupid to think they can’t shank you where you stood.” The transition to second person is a little jarring and the tenses clash. “You’d be” calls for “couldn’t” even more so because your piece is in the past. I replaced it with a thought to break the narration a bit.
The noxious smell of sewage choked him. Men rumbled in his wake, closer and closer, so much so his fear made him feel their icy breaths hounding his heels. Hurried footsteps led him down another flight of stairs, past a few tall pipes, and around the bend. The soft hum of some large exhaust pipe muffled the squelching of his footsteps as he climbed into a familiar dry tunnel. It was only a matter of time before they discovered it and its inhabitants.
Orange lights flickered from small candles on their laps. They greeted him with rotten teeth and sunken eyes. A ragged child huddled close a hooded figure, clutching a filthy doll. Their shadows — taller versions of themselves — stalked him like gargoyles along the walls. He shivered, and maybe it wasn’t just for the chill.
He pressed on, careful not to make eye contact. A shady woman stepped dangerously close. He maneuvered out of her way, wincing at her stink of sex and vomit. A baby cried near his left foot but was immediately, suspiciously hushed. His steps were watchful but quick.
I’m not gonna die tonight.
I am Gaia B Amman, the author of the Italian Saga (#TIS), a YA series taking place in gorgeous Italy, and talking about everything I was told is impolite to talk about ;)
The last volume, book 4, comes out November 6th!!! YAY ^_^
The books are recommended for ages 13 and above, but most of my readers are adults.
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