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Author Topic: A TIMELESS SIN: FACTIONS first chapter (Adult fantasy)  (Read 1822 times)
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« on: August 05, 2017, 11:44:09 AM »

Hi guys! I'm in need of your awesome help for this chapter that i've just edited. Thanks to anyone who take precious time to review it and as always I will do the same to yours! Yes I have an evil prologue ;) but I'd like to know if you guys think it's out of place

Thanks a lot!


Talaran heard the jingle of metal in the keyhole. He put his cotton blanket over his head. It was made cheap, like you would expect of any orphanage cover, but at least he could see clearly through the holes in the fabric.

The fat sister opened the door and hugged it with her hand still on the door knob.

A hooded  man approached his bed. “Come with me, boy,” he said.

Talaran did not move.

“We don't have time for this,” the man said looking at the sister.

Talaran couldn't see who it was beneath the hood and didn't recognize the voice. And so, he did not move. The stranger picked him up tightening the cloth over his head.

He saw the pity in the fat sister's eyes as he got dragged outside. Screams echoed in the distance. His carrier watched their surroundings with sharp head turns, and each time, Talaran tried to look beneath the hood but winds seemed to shift so it would fit the man's face.

The fabric over Talaran's head hugged his lips more and more often as the screams now surrounded him. They had reached the city and people were fighting. He could not see it, but he knew. The hooded man accelerated.

Through the blur, Talaran saw the giant colored windows. They were going to the town square cathedral. The stranger opened the wooden door and dropped him in a small room lit by candles alone before leaving without a word.

The door creaked open again.  Talaran took off his blanket as soon as he recognized father Leon's thick brown hair and blue linen robe.

"Tally, I’m glad you made it safely," the priest said with a gentle smile. He looked tired. Nervous. "The streets aren't safe for your kind these days. Nobles would rather their slaves be dead than free it seems. Un-attuneds are being hunted down like common plague rats." He paused and spoke to himself. "Small children, what are they thinking? As if being born without magic made you less human."

The priest searched frantically through his belongings before packing a bag with clothes and books and food. "You remember what I taught you, right? About the gods?"

"I think so," Talaran answered.

"Lies," Leon said as if he had bitten a tart apple. He took a thick leather bound book with yellowed pages out from under the wooden desk and let it fall on it with a big thump. "I found this during a pilgrimage on the road of ascension. If what it says is true, everything we have been told, everything we believed in, is wrong. I’m not even sure the gods exist anymore." It was easy to hear the sadness in the young priest's voice.

Tally looked at the book with a sense of wonder. "Does it mean. . .the gods haven't abandoned my family? I’m not a sinspawn?"

"Clever boy," the priest said. "I always knew you were special. I don’t know yet, but if you are willing, you could come with me and we could find out together."
Tally hesitated. He did not know the priest much but the man had always been kind to him which was more than he could say of his last masters. He nodded

"Good," the father said.

Someone knocked on the door. Leon jumped and put a finger in front of his lips before taking Talaran's hand and directing him towards the end of the room.

"Yes?" Leon said with a fake croaky voice.

"Open the door, priest, before we tear it down." a muffled voice shouted.

"Just a second." Leon said as he opened a hidden latch beneath his bed. Talaran slipped under it and inside the opening quietly. He could hear the pounding getting harder on the door above his head as he went down the small hole.

"Patience is not one of my virtues, priest," one of the men growled.

Talaran could see everything unfold in between a small crack in the floor.

Leon opened the door. "Good evening," he simply said. The two men knocked him aside to enter the room.

Talaran knew they were ascended knights the minute he laid eyes on their dark blue armor lined with glittering silver. The priest didn't stand a chance against them. He wondered why they wanted to take him, why he had to hide from them. Ascendeds were supposed to be protectors of the people. He put a shaking hand over his mouth to stop his teeth from clattering.

"There's a sinspawn missing from the orphanage. Where is he?" the tall knight asked.

"You mean a little boy." the priest retorted. "I'm afraid I cannot help you."

"We know about your love for the un-attuned, father. If you're lying.. . ."

He didn't finish.  Dust fell from the old wooden planks above his head as the two guards began ransacking the room. Tally jumped but held his breath.

"Please gentlemen," Leon said. "There's no need for this. The boy isn't here."

"What's this?" the ascended who had spoken first asked. He took the bag and emptied it on the floor.
Tally could see the sweat on Leon’s eyebrows from where he was. "I.. I just went on a pilgrimage."

"I don’t think he’s here," the other knight finally said.

"This isn't over priest," the leader told the young father before leaving.
Talaran waited in the darkness for a moment before light pierced from the latch and Leon climbed down the small wooden ladder with the linen bag on his shoulder.

"The gods have blessed us. These two weren't the smartest of the lot," he said with a reassuring smile. "This tunnel leads out of the city. You'll be safe there."

It is said that the Immortal, Lord of Time and  father of sins, gazed upon his infinite tapestry and witnessed his inevitable downfall at the hands of the other gods. - The ascendancy, book of Time excerpt 6

Isaac watched his father poke the fire with a wooden stick for the hundredth time since they had set up camp. To his right, Seth polished his already gleaming sword and Wendell played with his eye-patch as he always did when upset. Tension seemed to be rising alongside the thin curtain of smoke.

Isaac hated these akward silences. He pocketed beans from his iron plate in a slice of rye bread. "So, old man," he said taking a mouthful."Are we going to talk about what's been bothering you or play with that fire all night?"

Sorek rubbed the scar going from his ear to his neck. "What do you mean, boy?"

"You and Seth have been brooding since we left Kanif's edge." Isaac said with a smirk. "I think I've known you both long enough to know when something's wrong."

Wendell wiped his forehead with a handkerchief before putting it back in his sleeve. "Relax Is," the merchant said with his strong country accent. "We'll soon reach Tane's bay and you'll get paid as always. Don't stir up trouble where there's none. "

"No, he's right," Sorek said. "We've been protecting your caravans for what now? Ten years? And I've never seen you act so weird... or sweat so much. Why are you in such a hurry? Why aren't we going to the capital? Last time I checked, Cronos was still the safest port to ship goods to the mainland."

"And you've never been so curious about what I do with my shipments before," Wendell almost screamed.
Seth scratched his dark beard with the back of his fingers."Maybe not, but this time you've added more caravans like we wouldn't notice – and hired mercenaries on the side."

Isaac felt slow-minded. The only thing he had noticed was how the other guards never mingled with them or exchanged stories.  "It's true, you've never needed more guards. What's in there?" Isaac asked to clear his embarassement.

Wendell positioned his eye patch and studied the boy. "It’s just precious items that a buyer from the main continent is willing to pay a lot for. I’ve never given you any reasons to doubt me before, have I?" Wendell said with his round face held high in false pride.

"Don’t take us for fools," Sorek said. He rose and pointed the burning end of his stick at the merchant who squealed in terror. "You think those guards are going to stop me from looking in there?"

Isaac followed his father towards the back carts. Wendell whirled around faster than his fat body permitted and fell down tumbling on his own robes. "Can’t you trust an old friend?" he begged from the ground losing what little dignity he had left.

Sorek ignored him. "Don’t talk to me about trust," he murmured.

Two guards put themselves between the warrior and his destination. He stopped and shot a menacing glance at the fat merchant who was still trying to get the mud off of his robe. Sorek had once been an ascended and Wendell knew his guards didn’t stand a chance. The merchant reluctantly waved at his men to let him pass.

There was movement inside. Isaac exchanged glances with Seth before reaching for an axe at his father's belt.

He broke the lock and cracked open the door. He had to pull back almost immediately to protect his nostrils from the smell of sweat and urine and swallowed
back the bile coming up in his mouth. He forced himself a glance. Desperate eyes looked back into his. Men, women, children were holed up at the back of the cart, chains wrapped around their legs and wrists. All of them dirty, under fed, weak from the travels and scared.

Had Wendell been in reach, Isaac would have punched his pointed red nose right then but his father reacted before he could.

Sorek grasped Wendell's collar. "Slavery! Really?" he yelled one inch from the man's face. "Is this what it’s come down to?"

"I didn’t have a choice," Wendell replied trying in vain to wipe the spit on his face. His voice now quivered. "Please, they’re only un-attuned, no one will miss them. They’re all thieves and prostitutes, people without meaning."

“You're telling me this, of all people?”

Wendell brandished a finger towards Seth. “Sorek, he doesn't even have your blood.”

“f**k you.” Sorek said. “Give me the keys to their chains or...”

Before he could finish, a girl that could be no more then ten, jumped from the caravan and scurried into the woods followed by two of Wendell's guards. Isaac looked at his father for approval. “Go. I'll handle him,” the old man said.

Isaac darted through the leaves. Darkness impaired his vision but he could hear branches cracking under heavy footsteps further ahead. He soon caught up with the first guard and shoved him aside. The man lost foot and rolled down a small ditch right before Isaac caught up with the second one and tackled him to the ground. Both men tumbled before getting up facing each other. The guard drew his sword first.

Isaac put his hands in front of him. “Look pal, I don't want to fight you,” he said.

“Scared are ye?” The bald man said with the corner of his lips outlining a smile that quickly got erased by the sound of a sword unsheathing.

Seth stood behind him, longsword held with both hands. “I don't think he is, quite honestly,” he said with a deep voice. “ He doesn't look like it with that baby face of his, but that man could've sliced you open before you even got up from the ground.”

The old guard snorted. “Ye're bluffing.”

“And you're willing to fight the both of us to find out?” Isaac said. “I don't know how much Wendell pays you but he sure doesn't pay me enough to chase innocent children in the forest.”

The man lowered his sword slowly and rubbed his bald head. “f**k this. Ye're right, the fat cunt ain't paying me enough for this.” He tried for a surprise swing.

Isaac moved to the side and grabbed the man's arm turning so they would both face Seth. His brother struck the guard's sword and brought his own to the man's throat before they could hear the thump of steel on the grass.

“You believe me now?” said Seth.

The bald head moved up and down quickly. Isaac released his grip and let the mercenary disappear between bushes.

He sighed. “Did you see the other one?”

“He was out cold in a ditch back there. Must've hit a tree or something.”

“Good.” Isaac looked around for signs of the young girl but could not see any. “You're the best around here to know which way an un-attuned would go.”

“You're funny.” Seth said without the hint of a smile. He pointed at an eerie blue light at the end of a dirt road. “That would certainly get the attention of our simple minds.”

Isaac smiled. “I'll follow your lead then.”

They went deeper into the woods, the sky growing dimmer with each of their steps. Isaac carefully brushed aside a branch opening up the path he had made for himself. Two giant statues of a man and a woman facing each other, emanated a faint blue light that grew brighter as the light of day gave way to glinting stars.

"Is it moonstone?" Seth murmured. "I thought you could only find them in Cronos."

"How could we have missed this? It's bigger than a coda's ass.” Isaac replied in awe.

“It wasn't here.” Seth replied. “We travel this road every other moon cycle, we would've seen it.”

They moved past the statues to a temple lit in a fading blue light and shaped like a pyramid. Though some of them were in ruins, he could see that it once had four towers rising above the canopy on each of its corners.

Naked trees, darker than the night, cracked their joints in a macabre dance driven by northern winds. Isaac dismissed the feeling of dread punching his stomach and pushed forward. There she was, in front of massive wooden doors that awaited them at the end of the path. He could see the slave as clear as in the middle of the day.

“Wait.” Isaac spoke in a whisper.

She looked at them wide-eyed before sliding through a small opening between the doors. Isaac ran after her, leaving no choice for Seth but to follow him.

Isaac stopped at the entrance, hesitated. Nothing good could come out of this. He convinced himself that he had to help the girl but deep down, he knew he wanted to go inside to satisfy his curiosity. He brushed the blue stones embedded in the door with careful fingers. The pattern in which they had been placed hinted at some kind of writing. "Can you read it?" he asked.

Seth's eyes narrowed. "No, it must be written in the first children tongue." 

Isaac pushed on the heavy wooden door. A loud creak echoed in the vastness of the main hall. Never had he thought the inside of ruins could be so breathtaking. The blue glow they had seen outside permeated through the stones basking the wide room in its warmth as if the moon hung on the ceiling.

Whatever had happened here, it had involved a lot of fighting - and deaths. Chairs, books, weapons, even food floated in the air, motionless as though time had stopped in the middle of a battle - A battle without fighters.

He progressed carefully, circling around the floating objects until a shape formed at the end of the hall. He readied his dual arm blades attached to leather gauntlets and made sure Seth was ready before getting closer. The figure did not react.

"What in the void is that thing?" he murmured when his eyes had finally adjusted to the dimness.

"I don’t know. Some kind of statue perhaps."

"Makes you think huh? Who could make something so ugly," Isaac said under his breath as he came closer to analyze it. "It looks so alive."

Its skin was gray, rife with scars and moonstone stuck inside of it, as if absorbed. Holes with two sharp rows of teeth gaped in each of its hands and someone had clumsily sewed the monster’s lips together with parts of its own skin. Shivers went up and down Isaac’s spine as he couldn't find the thing's eyes, only a thin layer of wrinkled skin covering them. It looked as tough it had once been human.
A hand on his shoulder startled him.

"Come, we need to find the girl," Seth said the other hand on his sword and his eyes sharply studying the room for any sign of movement.

"You're right…" he replied with a shaking voice.

Darkness enveloped him as he went further down a series of corridors and small rooms.

"Hey Seth. Do you see that?" he murmured when he saw an intense blue light at the end of a corridor.
No one answered.

He went towards the light, slowly shoving aside the floating chairs and books that fell on the floor, shattering to dust at the touch of his hand. His heart pounded like an alterian drum of war. The corridor opened up to a room larger than the first hall. On each side were huge statues of bearded men clad in heavy armor holding a sword between their legs. Bloodied weapons and pieces of armor so small he could swear they had been forged for children floated peacefully around him.

He touched a gauntlet that fell to the floor almost immediately. What in the void happened here? He told himself.

At the other side of the room was a mural depicting a battle between white haired men and women against an army of what seemed to be the creature he had seen earlier. His thoughts wandered to how glad he was that it didn't move. Something shifted near the light source. He whirled on himself, blades ready.

The girl! Isaac had almost forgotten about her.

She stood, mouth gaped and arm extended, next to a stone the size of his fist that sat on an ornamented pillar, floating in midair and pulsating light across the room. Isaac felt out of place.

"Stop. What are you..." he tried to warn her. He was too late, her small hand had already clutched the stone. He watched as her eyes revolved backwards and her body shook uncontrollably with the same tremors that shook the temple's core.

Without thinking, Isaac rushed to her side and pried the rock from her fingers. Power surged through his body in a throbbing pain that took over his head and forced him to his knees. He could not contain it. His soul ripped from his body and exploded into infinite pieces.

Everything whirled in a tornado of visions and glimpses of scenes that blurred together but he knew were apart. A meteor falling from the sky, flashes of light, war, death, winged men, monsters, the temple, whole towns devastated, countless dead bodies, an untouched world, friendships created and lost, all at the same time.

His soul drifted slowly, each part getting further from the other, lost in its own pocket of reality. Past, present and future tried to find a place in his head at the same time. Confused and lost, he tried focusing on his body in hopes of finding a way back to his own mind.
« Last Edit: August 15, 2017, 11:35:14 AM by Farfadet » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: August 05, 2017, 10:50:02 PM »

Hi there!

I think the most helpful feedback at this point will be top-down/big picture feedback.

1. I don't think you need your prologue. There isn't anything there that provides key or special information that can't be integrated in very small detail later, and the structure of the scene doesn't amp the tension--you haven't structured it in the right way. If you were to keep it, and I would urge against it, I would start the scene with the boy hiding, as the guards come in: a very small, quick snapshot, that focus pivotally on the conflict.

2. You have a tendency to describe things with adjectives, rather than describing them as they are--without using all five senses. There is also a lack of character-building, and turning inwards, at least towards the front of the first chapter, that I think would be helpful in building conflict and tightening the movement in each of your scenes. Getting to know the characters early is also a key to investing in their stakes.

3. Your first chapter I would begin in the midst of tension, the one key tension of the scene; you spend a lot of time building up to tension, and then you sort of put two or three "equal" kinds of tensions next to each other (at least they feel equal). The key skill to learn in conflict-building is to think of the scene from the top-down, as the author, especially in the 3rd POV, and to structure your action and the decisions of your characters in a way that places tension in the pit of the stomach of the one reading it, rather than just describing series of actions. Look to some of your favorite scenes that do a similar work as yours for examples. I think the opening of Patrick Rothfuss' THE NAME OF THE WIND is a killer example.

Besides this, I am intrigued about the girl, the stone, and am intrigued by your title--this sin to which you refer.

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« Reply #2 on: August 06, 2017, 04:18:49 PM »

I actually wanted to know more about Talaran, more than any of the other characters, so hopefully he is a recurring character.

As to Issac and the other characters, I think you might be better served by introducing them slowly, instead of all together, because they all sort of blend together as the chapter is currently written.  The nature of the cargo is something you can take your time revealing, especially because your genre gives you the luxury of a high word count.

I would suggesting the following:

1.  Keep the prologue, though maybe it is just Chapter One and not really a prologue at all, but revise it.  Show more, tell less.  In fact, I would start with Talaran being dragged out of bed.  Actually show that happen, let the reader share his fear, instead of starting with telling us he he was scared.  Similarly, maybe show the relief he feels when he sees a familiar face.  I would suggest bringing the POV camera closer, if that makes any sense, to the character.  Then again, maybe I just feel that way because I like Talaran.

2.  Show the father acting weird, showing the other companions noticing, build up the scene more. 

3.  Be careful with some descriptions.  For example, the father as a "country" accent - the reader doesn't know much about the world you're building yet, so we don't know what this is meant to describe.  We know what this means in our world but, if you're writing fantasy, you should stay within the realm of the world you're creating.

4.  I liked the "tart apple" descriptor - that was nice.

5.  I'm very curious about the world concept.  Magic being illegal has been done a lot.  Only humans with magic being safe, and anyone not capable of magic being persecuted, is new and I like the twist.  Keep writing Smiley
« Last Edit: August 06, 2017, 04:21:00 PM by SMushM » Logged
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« Reply #3 on: August 06, 2017, 09:44:29 PM »

Thanks a lot for the feedback!

Talaran does return but he's older in the rest of the book ;)

Quick question if you come back: When you say Show more is it the whole chapter or just the beginning? because I try to mostly show and would like to know if there are more places i do that without noticing. But yeah, thanks for making me notice I start the book on a tell. That can't be good. I just didn't want to drag the prologue. I'll probably describe his fear then.

4.  I liked the "tart apple" descriptor - that was nice.

5.  I'm very curious about the world concept.  Magic being illegal has been done a lot.  Only humans with magic being safe, and anyone not capable of magic being persecuted, is new and I like the twist.  Keep writing Smiley

Thanks a lot for this! it boosts my shaky writer's ego a little Smiley

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« Reply #4 on: August 08, 2017, 12:27:30 AM »

Sure - happy to help.  Just a disclaimer:  I might be more sensitive than other readers to this because it is something I do in my writing and I have to keep revising my work to get rid of this problem, so...it might be more of a perception thing than anything else. 

There are major two things that get a writer into trouble, in my opinion.  One is adverbs (at least, that is what King says in his wonderful book, "On Writing") and the other, and this is what happens to me, is emotion.  Whenever you use a word that is an emotion, you're missing the chance to show the emotion.  You're just telling the reader that the emotion is, so the reader isn't necessarily sharing it. 

That is not to say you can't ever use adverbs or that you can't ever name emotions as a short hand to move the scene along, but you have to be careful when you do it.

I went back and pulled out a few examples from your text, outside of the opening sentence to the prologue mentioned before:

1.  "Tension seemed to be rising alongside the thin curtain of smoke."

So this thew me off a little because I didn't feel any tension in the scene.  It just felt...routine, you know?  I realized later that the fire was being poked for the hundredth time that night and that this was unusual for the father to do.  We don't know the father yet and because the characters talk about how often they have worked together, to me it felt like...oh, he's seen the father do this a hundred times over many journeys.  So when the word tension came up, it was the first indication there was tension (though the guy with the eyepatch was upset). 

You definitely tried to show the tension but sometimes we are so familiar with our characters that we don't realize that the reader is seeing them for the first time and so isn't familiar with what their routines are.  Fortunately, the son knows what the father's routines are, so he can definitely tell us that the father is acting differently than usual.

I like the "thin curtain of smoke line" BTW.

2.  He rose and pointed the burning end of his stick at the merchant who squealed in terror.

If you wanted, you could describe the merchant backing away, throwing up his arms, etc.  One of the most evocative moments in your text is when the merchant falls.  That was great.  The reader sees it.

3.  Men, women, children were holed up in fear at the back of the cart

This fine but, if you wanted, you could show fear for the prisoners.  However, they are probably not that important to the story, so you can stay with the way you have it.

4.  Anger he couldn't control swelled up from inside but it was his father who reacted before he could. 

Same sort of thing on this one.

Emotions are tough because they are difficult to describe.  You basically have to find a way to do it through body language but that is also difficult to do without being cliche.  Here something like this shows more and tells less:  "His fists clenched at the sight.  Almost without thinking, he took a menacing step towards the merchant but his father was faster...."  That isn't a very original description but it actually shows a manifestation of the anger.

You don't have to describe all of these emotions in detail by any means, but if you keep naming emotions multiple times in a scene, it leaves the reader with the impression that your just telling the reader what the emotion is.

Anyway, like I said, I do this all the time and I am probably more sensitive to it than others as a result.  However, hopefully this helps.

You write well and you have an original idea.  You ego should be pretty healthy Smiley 

Thanks a lot for the feedback!

Talaran does return but he's older in the rest of the book ;)

Quick question if you come back: When you say Show more is it the whole chapter or just the beginning? because I try to mostly show and would like to know if there are more places i do that without noticing. But yeah, thanks for making me notice I start the book on a tell. That can't be good. I just didn't want to drag the prologue. I'll probably describe his fear then.

4.  I liked the "tart apple" descriptor - that was nice.

5.  I'm very curious about the world concept.  Magic being illegal has been done a lot.  Only humans with magic being safe, and anyone not capable of magic being persecuted, is new and I like the twist.  Keep writing Smiley

Thanks a lot for this! it boosts my shaky writer's ego a little Smiley
« Last Edit: August 08, 2017, 12:31:30 AM by SMushM » Logged
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« Reply #5 on: August 16, 2017, 06:44:47 PM »

Hey, I read an earlier version of this! This revision is superior, greatly. In the first section I would like to get more of the boy's perspective. Since Dune is my archetype for SF/F lit, I like internal monologue, so I'd suggest including some of his thoughts during the action. 

The second section is also much improved. You get a better sense of who the characters are and the dialogue is more believable. This might sound contradictory, but maybe in this case the action comes a little too fast after the discovery of the temple (or whatever it is you ultimately decide to make it). I would say cut down just a bit on the scene before the escape of the girl and expand on the discovery of the building, without changing the overall length of the chapter.

My opinion on the prologue is that it's not overly long, and it has action that impacts the plot. It's not a backstory infodump but it conveys important info about the world IN THE CONTEXT OF THE PLOT. So it can probably stay. course if I were writing it I'd probably just make it part of Ch. 1 and use a  scene break, but that's just me.
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« Reply #6 on: August 18, 2017, 01:49:20 PM »

So it can probably stay. course if I were writing it I'd probably just make it part of Ch. 1 and use a  scene break, but that's just me.
Haha Nice! Thanks again for the awesome constructive criticism!

Alright so for m'y prologue if anyone still can find the kindness to Help me, i wouldn't mine putting it as chapter 1. The thing is the rest of the story is 20 years later. The only thing to show this is that Leon is old and talaran is an adult. So i wanted to make it a little clearer that it was separate from the main storyline and im afraid that if i just make it chapter1 then it could be confusing.

I Also really dont want to put a 20 years later or something. Anyone has an opinion on wether i should keep it, change it to chaptrrer 1 or delete it?
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