Helen fell over the balcony of the palace, crashing into a few bushes. Her rag clothes were ripped, pale skin nearly covered with bruises. Blood dripped out of her nose and most of her raven hair was ripped up, rivers of tears flowing out of her amber eyes. She got up and ran as fast as possible. She looked as if she was a skeleton. As she ran, she could hear her master screaming for her to come back. But if she gets captured, she could be either brutally punished or executed.
Memories of her life as a slave kept flashing in her mind. When she got to the base of the stairs, she tripped and fell. She didn't have the energy to get back up, so she crawled her way to the top of a hill and entered the Temple of Zeus.
Once she was inside, she collapsed and crawled her way to statue of Zeus. Her vision was fogged as she tried to look at Zeus himself. She believed that he would end her misery and give her a new life in heaven.
She sobbed to the mighty Zeus. "Almighty Zeus……King of the Gods………I want my life……to end!"
When she made her wish, nothing happened. Not a gust of wind blew into the temple. Not even candles or torches lit up.
She screamed. "Kill me……Strike your lightning bolt…into my heart……let me be…with my family again!"
With no luck, Helen curled into a ball and sobbed even more. Then her eyes caught a glimpse of a knife lying on the floor. It had a sliver blade and a golden handle with red gems. The longer she looked at it, the more it became her friend.
She got on her knees, held it with both hands, and pointed the blade to her heart. She raised her arms high over her head as she about to strike her life. She closed her eyes and whispered. "Thank you, Zeus."
But with a quick speed, a mysterious figure in a dark cape emerged from the shadows, took its hand out and the blade went through it instead of her heart. Helen's eyes opened wildly and froze. She let go of the knife and tried to retreat not knowing who it was.
Then she turned her head to the figure's face and her eyes widen with awe. Under the hood of the cape was a young handsome male Spacer with winter white skin and his eyes were as blue as the Mediterranean Sea. He looked down at his hand with the knife still in it. With no pain, he pulled it out and blue blood came gushing out. He clutched his wounded hand as hard as possible and was magically healed, leaving no scar behind. Then he took off his hood to reveal his long white hair.
He slowly wiped Helen's face with his cape. He looked into her eyes and could see her life was horrible and wanted to change that.
Then Helen heard a couple angry women and soldiers running into the temple. Horrified, she hid under the man's cape. The women and soldiers barged inside and froze as soon as they saw him. The soldiers dropped to the floor as they bowed to him, but the women stood as stone statues.
The Spacer glared at them knowing they were the ones that nearly tortured this poor girl to death. He got up and walked towards them. His glare made the women's hearts beat as rapid as drums. They shook as if they were stuck out of the cold for several hours. Then holographic blades came out of his hands and thrust them into their stomachs. Then their bodies slowly turned into large hot charcoal and exploded, leaving nothing but piles of ashes. The soldiers ran cowardly out of temple, not daring to look back.
Once the soldiers ran away, the Spacer returned to Helen. She reached up for him as if she was an infant wanting her mother. She smiled as her eyes were reunited with his. The man smiled and got up her in his arms.
As he carried her out of the temple, he whispered into her ear, "Everything will be alright." He rubbed her cheek and she began to doze off. The last thing she saw was a ship hovering down from the sky.
Originality and Plot rating: 100%. It is a very heartwarming story, especially towards the end, as Helen didn't need to say a word on her troubles, and they were dealt with, the moment the others stepped into the temple.
Size of paragraphs: They're all decently sized.
Question about mysterious Spacer
Is he a high-ranked Spacer, or does he have a notorious history for being a killer?
I have a feeling that either scenario might apply to him. An equally strong hunch about him that I have is that it's a combination of both factors.
Usage of descriptive phrases: 10/10 Star rating. One that I found that fit well is "She reached up for him as if she was an infant wanting her mother."
Overall rating: 10/10 stars. In all honesty, when I read stories, this is the style I like to read it as. It is simple, yet, very elegant. For example, when I read "The soldiers ran cowardly out of temple like kindergartners in an overnight camping trip, not daring to look back.", I imagined if they also screamed with high pitches in their voices. However, I like that the detail has been omitted, as it lets the reader imagine whether or not the soldiers did scream.
Keep it up, eh! You have skill similar to Brian Jacques, the writer of Redwall. The vocabulary you utilize is very rich, and I can say that it's one of the things that make your stories very well written.
Well, there's not much more that can be said after =star-blazer's amazing critique (he's seriously a critique GOD!). Just watch your repetition and your telling since there's hardy any showing in this chapter, and work on pacing a bit more. I understand that this is a very rough draft, but hopefully those tips will help you polish it into a more refined draft. Like I said, there's not much more I could say after the detailed critique you received before me, so it anything, I'll say to pay extra attention to it
As promised, I had some time today between the other critiques people requested of me and from the manuscript I'm assigned to at work, so I thought I's stop over and give Chapter 1 a read. I was pretty brief with the critique of the prologue in mainly just highlighting the issues, but I thought I'd give my full critique here. I make my living editing novels, so I apologize in advance if I get extremely detailed in certain areas or this gets really long. I guess to say the least, it's closest to what you can expect if you ever query your novel and get assigned to an editing team (though it will be much more in-depth with an entire team of substantive/copy editors working). Anyway, bear with me while I run through this. I really hope you can find my critique helpful since I put a lot into them and love to assist aspiring writers when I can. If you have any questions at all about anything that may be mentioned here, feel free to ask!
"Helen fell over from the balcony of the palace and crashed into a few bushes."
The opening sentence here is a good one in that it signifies action. Many times, writers start with a bland and cliche opening that turns the reader away, but this leaves them wondering why Helen is falling from the balcony and makes them want to keep reading. Good job!
However, this opening sentence is a bit rocky. There are too many words at the start which give it this feel. A suggestion that my editing team was taught when we got our jobs at the publisher I work for told us if we're ever unsure about something, to read it aloud. The ear is a much better critic than the eye. I pass this down to all the authors I work with and advise them to always read work aloud-- no matter what. Try it! I promise it will help you with editing.
Here are two examples of how to possibly clean up this opening sentence and make it a tad smoother:
Helen fell from the balcony of the palace and crashed into a few bushes. Helen fell over the balcony of the palace and crashed into a few bushes. Helen fell from the balcony of the palace, crashing into a few bushes. Helen fell over the balcony of the palace, crashing into a few bushes.
See the difference in pacing and rhythm? "from" and "over" don't need to be and shouldn't be together in his sentence, so decide on which one sounds the best removed.
"Her rag clothes were ripped; pale skin was nearly covered with bruises; blood dripping out of her nose; most of her raven hair ripped up; rivers of tears flowed out of her amber eyes."
Watch your punctuation here. A semi-colon should be used sparingly in writing, and when it is used, it must be done correctly. Semi-colons are used to separate two complete thoughts that are connected-- like a period, but connecting the sentences due to their relevance together. This section uses them incorrectly; commas should be used in their place, and it should be broken into multiple sentences and verb endings changed. I'll give an edit of it below.
The other thing I highlighted here is your adjectives. This is more a suggestion than a strict editing must, but I just thought I'd bring it to your attention. I bolded them in the sentence just so you could see how you wrote the adjectives and how they are the same pattern (adjective noun_____, adjective noun _____, adjective noun ____). Some of these adjectives can be taken out (such as eye colour: we editors cringe when we see eye colours listed) just to make it less of a mouthful. Here's an editing example of how this sentence should be written (with punctuation fixed, not the adjectives, though I do highly recommend removing some):
Her rag clothes were ripped, pale skin nearly covered with bruises. Blood dripped out of her nose and most of her raven hair was ripped up, rivers of tears flowing out of her amber eyes.
"Helen fell over from the balcony of the palace and crashed into a few bushes. Her rag clothes were ripped; pale skin was nearly covered with bruises; blood dripping out of her nose; most of her raven hair ripped up; rivers of tears flowed out of her amber eyes. She got up and ran away from the palace as fast as possible. She looked as if she was a skeleton. As she ran, she could hear her master screaming from the palace to get her back."
This is your opening paragraph. Watch how many times you say "palace". There are other words to say this with (that I recommend), or you can just take the word out. Also be careful of sentence variation here. Read this paragraph aloud-- you'll see what I mean. There are a lot of "she ___" in here. Change "she" for Helen in at least one spot. It will help a lot! In fact, as I go back to this paragraph from after finishing, you don't say "Helen" again until about halfway through this chapter. The rest is all "she". Use her name in place of the pronoun-- so many "she"s really bogs this down and makes it hard to read (and makes the reader lose track of who "she" is). Use "Helen" more often and change the variation of some of the sentences.
The opening sentence of the next paragraph reads as follows: "She ran away with memories of her life as a slave kept flashing in her mind leaving behind a trail of tears and blood."
While the phrasing is incorrect, you also repeat "tears" and "blood" that were just used in the paragraph prior. Find another way to say this, or just take them out. Personally, I think this sentence would sound best with them removed, as shown below (with the grammar corrected):
She ran away with the memories of her life as a slave flashing in her mind.
"She had been beaten by many suitors and masters as she spent a few years as a slave. People around her never had seen her as a person, only a tool. She was a condemned soul who had been being burned alive in Hell for so many years."
I'll bring it up now, though I did notice it throughout the rest of your writing and probably will address it again at the end. Watch your show vs. telling. This is all telling here, and something that you really want to avoid in your writing. It bores the reader and takes away from the overall writing. I highly recommend this article put out by the Writer's Digest that was in one of their previous in-print issues that I keep in my records for my authors: [link] Read it over and see if any of the tips and tricks and rules are helpful (I guarantee they will be!).
"She ran up to the top of a hill where the Temple of Zeus was located. When she got to the base of the stairs, she tripped and fell. She didn't have the energy to get back up, so she crawled her way to the top. Then she got back up and ran inside the temple.
Once she was inside, she collapsed and crawled her way to statue of Zeus. Her vision was fogged as she tried to look at Zeus himself. She believed that he would end her misery and give her a new life in heaven."
I won't say anything again on the subject except this is all telling and no showing, but what I really want to point out here is repetition/similarity of action. Read this aloud. Look and see how many times she's running and falling and crawling to the temple. (In fact, look and see how many times she's running and falling and crawling through this whole chapter). Slow your pace down and really get your readers to see what's happening. Remember: show, don't tell! (And don't repeat).
Since we finally get some dialogue, I thought I would point out punctuation mistakes with it:
"She sobbed to the mighty Zeus, "Almighty Zeus……King of the Gods………I want my life……to end!""
Since "She sobbed to the mighty Zeus" is a complete sentence/thought, the comma before the first quotation marks should be a period. Only use a comma when it's an incomplete thought or sentence. You also use "mighty Zeus" and "Almighty Zeus" right next to each other. This isn't necessary. You don't even really need to use "Zeus" at all before the quotations since it's clear she's addressing him by what she says. Another thing is with your ellipses. To be correct grammatically, you may ONLY use three-- no more (not in ANY situation). A most effective way of wording this sentence would be:
She sobbed. "Almighty Zeus...King of the Gods...I want my life...to end!"
"She screamed, "Kill me……Strike your lightning bolt…into my heart……let me be…with my family again!""
This is the same instance as the example above. It should be corrected to:
She screamed. "Kill me...Strike your lightning bolt...into my heart...let me be...with my family again!"
And again here:
"She closed her eyes and whispered, "Thank you, Zeus.""
She closed her eyes and whispered. "Thank you, Zeus."
During this section where Helen finds the knife, I advise you to be careful of how many times you actually use "knife". There are other words instead of "knife" that you can use, or you can just take it out. The paragraphs are too long to post here and highlight everything, but it was something that I saw and took note of when readig (and something that your readers will take note of, too).
"Under the hood of the cape was a young handsome male Spacer with winter white skin, dark blue pupils, and the rest of his eyes were as blue as the Mediterranean Sea."
Watch your description in this sentence. It makes for very awkward syntax. Again, your descriptions are very heavy with the adjectives and that's something you should probably cut back on (especially here when you say "dark blue pupils" and then say "the rest of his eyes were blue..." Don't use "blue" twice: dark or not). Just watch these excessive adjectives and remove one of the "blue"s here.
"To her, he looked very beautiful."
The first thing I'll say is that this is telling, and it also shouldn't be here because this story is told through third person. These up close and personal thoughts/opinions of characters that are just told to the audience shouldn't happen in the 3rd person POV. Aside from being grammatically incorrect, it also is overly cliche and something that you want to avoid. "Very" is a word you should never use in literature in general, but saying some one is "very beautiful" really doesn't say much at all-- and it comes off as teen fanfic. (Publishers and editors hate it!) Take this line out.
"He slowly reached her face and wiped the tears and blood off her face." "tears" and "blood" used again. Watch how often you use these two, especially when they are together in the same sentence. Revise this.
" Then the women's' bodies slowly turned into large hot charcoal and exploded, leaving nothing but piles of ashes."
"Women's'"... you don't need the apostrophe after the "s". This should just read "women's".
"The soldiers ran cowardly out of temple like kindergartners in an overnight camping trip, not daring to look back."
The "like kindergartners in an overnight camping trip" part is awkward in this story to say the least. Are there kindergartners in this world? Would this be a relevant comparison? It's an awkward simile and something you should definitely remove. Just make it: "The soldiers ran cowardly out of the temple, not daring to look back."
"He rubbed her cheek and she began to dose off." "dose" should be "doze"
Now, for the overall comments on the chapter:
You have a good idea started here from what I can tell, and from what I saw in the Prologue. It's clear you have a grasp of your characters and their back stories and want to add as much action and detail into your work as possible. I can tell you have a lot of passion for this story.
However, the detail can be a little too much at times, and the action very repetitive, fast, and telly. I think you need to work the most here with pacing. By showing instead of telling, you'll be able to slow your writing down and build the action and emotion in your writing tenfold. For such a dramatic and action packed scene, it goes very quickly and loses a lot of the feeling that could have been built up in this. Slow it down a little. Really show the reader what's happening: don't just tell them.
Again, watch for repetitions. Reading your work aloud can help with this, as well as help you with your pacing. Use "Helen" instead of "she" in a lot of places to really make this piece more effective.
Like I said, you're off to a good start idea-wise, but it's just not there on paper yet. Slow your pacing down and work less on telling your reader everything. It will do wonders for your story and really make it something exciting!
I would be happy to continue reading on to further chapters for you. Just bear in mind that I am busy a few days a week at a publishing company working on other manuscripts, so it may take a while. I often get at least 3-4 critique requests a day from deviants seeking my advice, but I'll add you to my list now to make it easier.
I hope this critique will be of help to you for edits and for your future writing. Good luck and best wishes!
You're most welcome! My apologies for not getting around to this sooner, as I've been rather busy with work this past week.
Looking it over, it looks a lot tighter and cleaner than the first draft. Everything runs much more smoothly and I think that the pacing is a lot better.
The one thing I did notice that I think I hadn't before was with this section:
"As she ran, she could hear her master screaming for her to come back. But if she gets captured, she could be either brutally punished or executed.
She ran away with memories of her life as a slave kept flashing in her mind. She ran up to the top of a hill where the Temple of Zeus was located. When she got to the base of the stairs, she tripped and fell. She didn't have the energy to get back up, so she crawled her way to the top. Then she got back up and ran inside the temple."
Like in some of the comments in the critique the first time, just watch for repetitions. I hadn't noticed these ones the first time, but reading through again, I picked up on them (hence proof why editing is a more than one time thing ).
Other than that, though, you've improved a lot with these revisions and I think your story flows a lot stronger. Good job!
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`anmari has been spreading her infectious positivity throughout our community for over 6 years. Throughout this time Ana has been at the core of all things devious, passionately developing an eclectic gallery, helping organise devmeets, participating in chat events and also recently completed dedicating her time as a Community Volunteer. We are absolutely delighted to bestow the Deviousness Award for May 2013 to `anmari, congratulations! Read More