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Old 11-02-2013, 05:47 PM View Post #2 (Link) A word from the Hunter
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Note: This is based off a very (very) well-known piece of works, so, as a sort of game, try to figure out what it is as you go along. Please feed back .

Yoki clenched her teeth as a spasm of pain ran down her stomach. ---contractions feel like a belt is tightening around the back… so I'm told-- Her body went rigid. A moment later, her back muscles unclenched, and she collapsed onto the bed. Her daughter watched wide-eyed from the doorway.

“Mira,” Yoki called. Her voice was hoarse. “The baby is coming. Get Ashama. Nobody else.”

Mira gave a nod and dashed through the doorway.

Yoki gasped as the pain returned. Damn the High King, she thought, repressing another shout. Damn him to the deepest of hells.

Yoki had given birth twice before, yet –but-- neither time had been as painful as this one. Both times, midwives had been gathered around her, guiding her. –awkward-- A priest had given her some numbing herbs, and she had birthed in the palace birthing room. –“Both other times she had been guided by midwives in the palace birthing room. A priest had given her numbing herbs.” I just think it would go smoother that way, but you know, that’s me…-- Now, all she was allowed wereall she had was-- her daughter and Ashama. Now, she had to be here, in this dark basement. And it was because of the The High King’s decree: all newborn slave boys be drowned. –I’m already thinking Moses in the Bible but I'm still guessing--

Ashama and Mira appeared in the doorway. Yoki couldn’t see them clearly in the dim light, but she could make out their figures.

“Gods, this room is too dark,” Ashama said. “Mira, get a lit torch –just torch will do fine, I'm sure. Why would she bring an unlit one?--.”

Mira disappeared.

“How long has it been hurting?” she asked Yoki. –midwives ask about contractions, not ‘hurting’. And (you can disregard this technicality) a woman usually knows very well how long she has been having contractions.--

“I don’t know,” Yoki said. “Not long.”

Ashama grunted. “Breathe deeply. Pray to the gods. It helps.”

Yoki inhaled and exhaled, --everyone inhales and exhales. Try adding something to this-- but she refused to pray. God –this is singular, Ashama (who I'm thinking is Egyptian) said gods. (plural). “…but she refused to pray to God, much less to the bloody gods of the river people.” Just an idea. Ignore upon will.-- had abandoned her people a long time ago it seemed. Yoki had held faith when she was younger, she remembered. Her mother had prayed every day, insisting that if they kept faith long enough He would save them and make them kings. She died a slave. Mira had tried praying to the gods of the river people, but they had never answered either. There were no gods, she thought. Or if there were, they were heedless to the pleas of men. If there were, they were like the desert wind: no amount of praying could win their allegiance. –mmm, I suppose you could work this exposition in, but I'm wondering if a woman about to give birth would be more prone to snap/lash out/ yell/hiss some of this… but this is just me thinking.--

Orange light washed over the room as Mira ran in.

“Finally,” Ashama said, snatching the torch from the girl’s hands. The elderly woman placed it in a sconce –technicality: sconces are for candles… but I use them for torches too, so who am I to say anything?-- on the wall. “You’re going to need to be faster than that if you're to be a house slave, girl.”

Mira said nothing. –nothing. Yup, she seems to be doing a lot of that. I think that to not make her completely blank, you should have her eyes wide a lot, or show her being frightened beyond speech, or something. Ugh, I don’t think I’m being clear. Right now she seems chill to me, like she’s not talking just cause she doesn’t care. Show that she’s timid and shy, and that’s why she’s not saying anything. Big deal, right?--

Ashama approached the bed. “Yoki, I need you to spread your legs,--that kind of comes naturally--” she said. “Mira, close the door and roll a towel for your mother. Yoki I want you to bite on the towel. Let us pray this baby is a girl.”

Yoki clamped her teeth around the towel her daughter brought her.

“Stand back. There’s nothing you can do now,” Ashama said to Mira. –there usually is a lot a second pair of hands could be doing in childbirth. Don’t ask me why I know so much about childbirth. My sis’s a midwife in Africa.--

Yoki screamed as her muscles contracted again. Thankfully, the towel muffled it. –ah. Smart. I'm sure there’s a more dramatic way to do this, though.--


Hours later, Mother lay on the bed, a tiny bundle resting in her arms. Mira had watched as Ashama had held the baby. The old lady had cursed as soon as she saw him. She had cleaned him and cut off the ugly red tube hanging from his belly. Then she had left. When Mira asked Mother why, she had only said, “He’s a boy.”

Mira didn’t know why that was such a bad thing. There were plenty of boy slaves. Except they usually worked in the fields, not the house.

Ashama appeared in the doorway holding a basket. She walked over to the bed and placed it beside Mother. “May the gods grant you strength,” the old lady said before leaving again.

Mother looked at the basket, then at the baby in her arms. She looked miserable and tired. Mira wanted to help, but she didn’t know how.

“What happened?” she said –tried?--.

“He’s a boy,” Mother said again. Her voice was thick.

“Why is that bad?”

She looked at Mira blankly. There were dark pits around her eyes, and the corners of her lips were drooping. “I have to leave him in the river,” she said. –I'm not sure why mother is answering the questions of someone who previously seemed like a piece of wallpaper. How old is Mira? Wait… I guess sorrow could drive someone to do that. Maybe mention that it didn’t seem like mother was talking to her, or something.--


Mother sighed and said, “It doesn’t matter.”

Mira pouted. It wasn’t working. Mother was only becoming annoyed.

“Let me do it,” the little girl said finally.

“What?” –I'm wondering what emotions behind this voice cause Mira to think the way she does in the next paragraph.--

Mira looked away. She didn’t know if she had said something bad. She had said something bad to Ashama once, and Ashama had beaten her. She hoped it wasn’t like that time. “Let me do it,” she said again--,-- uncertainly.

Mother blinked. Silence filled the room. “Okay." –here’s that ‘okay’ again. But I’ll get over it. I do think you should elaborate more, I mean, a mother sending her daughter off to kill her son is kind of strong. Now, I know that sorrow and resignation can make people do reckless/strange/unusual things, but maybe show the reader that this sorrow is actually doing things here. You could do that by making mother exclaim variations of “Do it. Just do it fast. Now!” or with tears “Fine. Go kill him yourself. What do I care?” Whatever. *slaps his brainstorms*--

Mira looked up and smiled, but Mother wasn’t smiling. She dragged her legs over the side of the bed, knocking the basket to the floor. Mira knelt down to lift it, and when she was back up, her mother was looming above her. Mother placed the baby into the basket, and Mira got a good look at him. The baby’s pudgy, --no comma-- little fingers were curled into tiny fists, and his chest moved back and forth as he slept –up and down or “rose and fell”--. Mira had never seen a baby before. She wondered if all of them looked so huggable.

“Bring –Take-- him to the river steps, and leave him in the water,” Mother said, her speech slurred.

She sat back down on the bed, her face scrunched up –In pain? Anguish? Ache? Exhaustion?--. She looked as if she would throw-up. Mira turned away. Perhaps if she did it faster, Mother would recover sooner. “Make sure nobody sees,” Mother called weakly as Mira walked out the doorway.

Mira ran through the palace’s hallways, her bare feet slapping against the stone floors. Luckily, the palace seemed to be empty today. She arrived at the river steps and peered through the doorway. A row of pillars led to stairs coated in wet mud. Tall, thick grasses lined the river shore, and beyond that, Mira knew, was the vast river.

Sometimes, slaves took baths there when there was no work to do. Other times, the princess herself washed there. Thankfully, it was empty today.

Mira walked through the room and began down the steps. Mud squished between her toes as she approached the river. The water lapped at her ankles, then at her knees. The steps disappeared, and the squishy river floor swallowed her feet. –you already described the water at her knees, so one would think her feet were already underwater, no?-- She had set down the basket to push aside some river grass when she heard voices in the distance.

--“She was just setting down the basket to push some grass aside when she heard voices coming from ____.”
Better flow, and you avoid taking the reader into the future to look back at the past. (this happens when you use the word ‘had’ like you did here

She panicked and leaped deeper into the grass. –something I ignored at the beginning but am starting to notice now is that the flow is not going well… flow or something like it. This is annoying because 1) I could only give you minor details and ways that I would rewrite your lines and 2) because your other thread about Marulk and Averell was great. I think you just didn’t revise this one as much.--

“What was that?” –Mira heard someone ask as she waded further into avoid detection… maybe? That way you’re not only showing the presence of another character, but you’re also giving some Mira action.--

It was the princess. Mira had only heard her voice once or twice before, but it was enough. It was like what Ashama had said once: if you were going to be a house slave, you had to know your queen. –you can keep that last part if you must, but it took more away than it added for me.--

“It might be another crocodile,” another voice called. “We should call the guards.”

Mira did not recognize the voice, but it was probably one of the princess’ friends. She turned and peered through the grass. The princess stood at the head of the stairs, her straight, black hair flowing to her waist. A golden circlet crowned her –I’d just say there was a golden circlet on her head cause golden circlets usually crown. Or I’d put another modifier after ‘her’. Look, I'm telling you this not because a want a writing clone that writes the same way I do, but because as I read this I'm noticing something is a bit uncomfortable, reminding me of the way I used to write. (Which you attacked, if you remember). I’ll try to put a finger on it at the bottom.-- Beside her stood another girl who was dressed similarly. A couple of slaves trailed behind them.

“Don’t be silly,” the princess said. “Look, there’s something brown in the grass. Crocodiles aren’t brown.” –or tiny and square-shaped--

Mira’s heart rose to her throat. She had left the basket behind. –does she think about rushing back?--

“Okay, --I’d delete this ‘okay’ not just because of my prejudice towards it, but because this would work without it. Oh, and this ‘but’ too. but it might still be dangerous. At least let Alba do it,” the other girl said, waving at the slave behind her, but the princess was already halfway down the stairs.

She waded through the water, towards the grass. Mira froze. Her heartbeat was so loud she was sure the princess would hear it. –does she hide further in? does the servant woman call after her?

“Gods,” the other girl said, “if it’s something dangerous, I had nothing to do - ”

“It’s only a basket,” the princess interrupted. “One of the slaves must have left it here.”

“You let your slaves bathe here?”

“It’s a baby,” the princess said.


Mira watched as the princess turned away and began to climbclimbing -- the stairs with the basket in her arms. Her relief was soon flooded by guilt. What would Mother say? she wondered. Mira had only been trying to help, but she may have made it worse. –I don’t see how it could be worse. Is there a way for them to track the basket’s owner? Even if they killed the baby there, Moses would have died anyway.--

“It’s a baby,” the princess said again.

“Oh.” The other girl paused. “You should put it back.”

“But he’s only a baby.”

“Its a slave baby. Let the river have him.”

“He’ll be eaten by a crocodile, or a river snake. No, I don’t care who he was born to. He’ll live with me.”

“The High King will not be happy.”

“My father will not harm me or my baby.” –This says, basically, that the princess has already become possessive/defensive of the baby. Did she stare at him for a long time, a smile of endearment growing on her face? Does she ask the baby questions?--

“But - ”

“Alika. I’m not killing him.” The princess said the words slowly, with finality.

Alika shrugged. “Okay, fine. It’s your life.” –who says this? And would a servant not be a bit more polite to the daughter of the most powerful man in the world at that time whom the people considered to be a god?-- There was a long pause. “What will you name him?” She asked finally.

“I don’t know. Maybe, ‘Taken’ because I took him from the river.”

Alika laughed.

“Almighty princess?” Alba said carefully. “Perhaps you could consider, ‘Moshe’. It is how my people say, ‘Taken.’”

“Nobody asked you,” Alika said, "and Moshe is ugly. It's a slave name."

“No,” the princess responded softly. “I like it. I will call him, ‘Moshe.’”

Note: Could you figure out what it was?
--Most definitely. I might have had an advantage, as I’ve read the Bible through like two times… It’s interesting you know these things.--

How did you feel about the characters? I tried to make them more dynamic. Did they feel flat and generic or did they feel real?
--Eh… a bit flat, but sort of real. There were a few instances when they did things that wouldn’t seem natural, though, and other times that they didn’t do things that would have seemed natural for them to do.--

Could you tell the difference between Mira's voice and Yoki's or did they sound the same? Any other information is appreciated.
--Yes I could, though I did wish they would have spoken up a bit more, so they could show some more feeling.


To me your characters seemed a bit dry. I liked the dryness of your characters in your other story, because it gave a harsh, indifferent feel to your world, but here… they really didn’t seem like people with emotions.

Ignore the next paragraph if you don’t feel like thinking hard, or having stupid mental pictures.

What I mean by dry is this: imagine a piece of paper with a black and white drawing on it – a drawing of your character’s face. Bam. It’s not blank (that would be a blank piece of paper), but there’s no color to it. I imagine red as fierceness or anger or resentment. You had a little of this with mother. You had a little brown with midwife (age, experience, weathering). And you had a tiny bit of blue (honesty, innocence) with girl. But there wasn’t much emotion (note that emotions are the colors) going on. I hate purple prose and flamboyant writing so obviously I'm not suggesting that. I mean, give some color/personality to them – not by telling the reader, but by what the characters SAY and DO.

That’s so stupid I feel like deleting it, but mlughhhh. I hope you understood something of it.

Ummm… a bit more atmosphere would help. You only described the cellar a little, the palace a little, and the riverside. Also, you gave us a flitting glance of the princess’ hair. Obviously you don’t have to give us the way the people dressed, but GRRM did that a lot and handled it well.

Flow. Awkwardness. Take awkwardness behind the barn and shoot it. Every paragraph can be rewritten dozens of different ways, each one doing different things to the message sent. Reread things and think, “Can this be written in a way that
--makes the story go smoother
--takes up less time and words
--presents my message clearer
--advances character/plot better
--leaves less doubt/ambiguity.

I think you need to revise this work more, because whatever you did with the other story was great. That said, I really like the idea of rewriting biblical stories with real life blood/dialogue/action.

---The Hunter.
"There are billions of normal people in the world... we don't need one more." - Joshua Lenz.

I will crit upon request, but... Acknowledge: Though my punches may be soft, i will not pull any.

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