On the cusp of winter, when the leaves turned to fire, and a chill swept through the land, a man struggled to stand on the encroaching ice. The world was just beginning to turn, and he needed to finish this trading run before winter set in. He hiked though the pass, knowing that the city wasn’t too far away now. The wind whipped though the cut, and brought along the scent of smoke, and drifts of ashes like snow. The man frowned. Something was terribly wrong. He hurried, walking faster now, his boots making deep imprints in the soot. The trader crested the last hill in the pass, and stopped dead from what he found. The sky was near black with smoke, and on the land draped a blanket of grey. Buried in the drifts he saw, were lumps. Another gust scuttled through the ravine, blowing away what hid them. They were bodies. He looked away, scanning into the city. There had to be someone still alive in there. The man brought his courage up like a shield, and shuffled forward, while the clouds roiled overhead. The air was still, and the wasn’t a sound, save for the man’s footfalls.
- Well written! Nice vocabulary
- Starting with a dreary scene, the piece keep us on our toes :)
- I can’t FEEL the piece. We know almost nothing of the man. Age? Spirit? Intent? If he’s just a random man, maybe you should not start the story with him. If he’s our main character you might want us to know a bit more. Here is a post on characterization
- What is the story about? Give us a reason to care, to sympathize with him, to like him
- Include all senses in your descriptions. Right now they are heavily dominated by sight, but burning bodies SMELL. Any sounds? Here is a post on descriptions
- SHOW don’t tell. Your first 200 words are a description of a man walking to find disaster. For example “sending a chill through his body”, “something was terribly wrong” you are telling me, show me instead (for example have him wrap in his cloak, now we know what he’s wearing and that it’s cold)
- When leaves turn to fire is the middle of fall not, the cusp of winter. Typically, ice would not be encroaching yet. In general, try to keep your descriptions vivid but simple, a few carefully chosen adjectives will go much farther than a lot of descriptors, especially if your words clash or sound a bit awkward. For example, encroaching has a very specific meaning (intruding, typically on a person’s privacy) although I get a sense for what you’re trying to say, it is not the ideal adjective in my opinion
- The image you’re trying to paint has to be perfectly clear in your head. Is it the cusp of winter or are leaves turning? Is everything covered in a thick layer of ice or is the world beginning to turn?
- “The wind whipped though the cut”. What? Maybe through the cut? Which cut? The pass? Unclear
- If ash just started falling how can he leave footprints in the soot?
- The sky would not be found suddenly black with smoke after a hill
- I understand you are trying to build suspense, but having a gust of wind unveil the bodies seems mighty staged. Is it suddenly windy? Because it was gusting earlier.
- If he’s up in the pass, would he see the bodies down in the city?
- I know he’s by himself, but you could add some thoughts to break the narration and give us insights into your character
Lagahan struggled against the frigid gusts that rushed through the pass. An acrid smoke announced the city on the other side, and he quickened his pace.The caws of crows sounded ominous in the whining of the wind. The sky at the horizon looked black, the contrast startling against the intense fire of the turning leaves.
I might be dead even if I make it there, but sure like hell I’m not gonna die on this darn mountain in a storm.
He lowered the hood of his cloak and pushed some blond hair out of his mouth, cursing, just as the first snowflakes started to fall.
Lagahan’s stomach dropped as he turned the bend, cresting the hill; what once had been a sprawling city was now a wasteland of embers. His eyes went wide, his hardened heart sinking like a rock at the bottom of his chest. The snow did not melt on his skin.
Ash. No, no, no no! Lanna!
He started running down the mountain in a craze, tears and ash mixing on his face, hoping his last chance of survival had not been wiped out with the city of Lannarta.
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