Today we have another KP Critiques for you! We are so grateful for the fabulous amount of subscribers interested in this series! Critiques are a vital part of the life of a writer. Though difficult to digest at times they help us grow and mature into a greater writer. KP Critiques Post 2

Today’s critique is given to us by Christianna from her novel Fire In The Shadowlands.

Chrstianna’s Excerpt: 

The early rays of a fresh new sun heralding the approach of an equallyfresh new day streamed into the tastefully furnished tower room built into the south wall of Derenath.

In a smooth backed olive wood chair, a man in his late forties sat, quietly sifting through a pile of ashes, heaped on the trestle table in front of him which served for a desk.

A scrap of scorched paper, the size of the man’s large palm, discovered itself to his searching fingers and, after gazing at it for a few seconds, laid it calmly on the edge of the desk atop a steadily growing hill of similar artifacts.

The sound of a door slamming from somewhere outside the room caused the man to look up expectantly; someone was running up stairs, then the door burst open and the man hurriedly bent over his ashes again, determined to look uninterested and detached as he deemed one in his position ought to look. Though it was hard for him, a man easily excited, and he had been waiting for some singularly exciting news; it was hard for him not to jump when he heard anyone coming.

“Sir, I saw something last night that I thought you might like to know.” The speaker was a relatively young man in his early twenties with a handsome face and a shock of brown curling hair.

At this statement the man behind the desk did look up for good, “last night!” he exploded, “Why, in all common sense, didn’t you come sooner?”

“I’m sorry sir,” the youth replied coolly, the rebuke not seeming to have fazed him,

“But I couldn’t get away reasonably until now.”   “Alright well give me what you have!” replied the other resignedly as he leaned back in his seat.

“Last night as I was returning home from running an errand for my master, I was passing by the tanner’s cottage and I saw a stranger dressed in black, mounted on a large, bay colored horse, which doesn’t belong to anyone in this town, ride by.  I ran after him, keeping to the shadows, and though he was not easy to follow for he was an excellent rider and went along at a good clip, I was, in spite of it, able to track him down for he had not far to go.”  He paused for a moment to take a breath.

“Where did he go?” the other questioned anxiously.

“He went to the house of a man called ‘Oldman Danec’ he welcomed him and though I could not hear what passed between them, it seemed he received him as one would an old friend.  My master was expecting me home and I had not time to report to you immediately, but I came as soon as I could get away this morning; even now I cannot stay any longer for I will not be late to work!”

“Ah, yes the life of an apprentice is demanding indeed! Nevertheless I thank you for your report. I had already heard of the stranger from another last night but the fool came to tell me as soon as he saw him instead of following him to find out where he went. Your contribution has made up for his folly.”

The youth bowed stiffly and turned toward the door, “thank you sir.” Was all, and then he was gone and the other was left to stare at the bare wooden door. But he did not stare long; with a grunt he threw his large frame out of the chair and walking toward a door on the other side of the rectangular compartment, he opened it and leaned out the doorway, “Orinef!”

“Coming sir!” someone yelled back from some where below him and in a moment the stairs on that side resounded with the noise of running feet and as the man resumed his seat, a slight, hawk faced man in his mid thirties stepped in,  “Yes Sir?” he questioned eagerly,  as he carefully straightened the folds of his scarlet tunic.

 

Our Critique: 

 

 

Fire in The Shadowlands – Early excerpt

 

The early rays of a fresh new sun heralding the approach of an equally fresh new day streamed into the tastefully furnished tower room built into the south wall of Derenath.

This sentence has the potential for at least two, maybe three. If it was divided up then you could go into more detail; if that’s your style. Fresh and new are very similar, you may not need both of them.

In a smooth backed olive wood chair, a man in his late forties sat, quietly

quietly is too vague. Try using a more specific adverb/verb like inaudibly, calmly, something that gives the readers a bit more insight as to what his mood is. sifting I really like this word here!

through a pile of ashes, heaped on the trestle table in front of him which served for a desk.  A scrap of scorched paper, the size of the man’s large palm, discovered itself

Interesting way of putting this. Excellent! You are staying within the time and place in your writing.

to his searching fingers and, after gazing at it for a few seconds, laid it calmly on the edge of the desk atop a steadily growing hill of similar artifacts.

There is much debate as to how many adverbs you need/must use when writing; but may I just say that here, adverbs seem to weaken things.

The sound of a door slamming from somewhere outside the room caused the man to look up expectantly;

Judging by his next actions I’m not sure that expectantly is the right word you are looking to use.

someone was running up stairs, then the door burst open and the man hurriedly bent over his ashes again, determined to look uninterested and detached as he deemed one in his position ought to look. Though it was hard for him, a man easily excited, and he had been waiting for some singularly exciting news;

This feels disconnected here.

it was hard for him not to jump when he heard anyone coming.  “Sir, I saw something last night that I thought you might like to know.” The speaker was a relatively young man in his early twenties with a handsome face and a shock of brown curling hair. At this statement the man behind the desk did look up for good, “last night!” he exploded, “Why, in all common sense, didn’t you come sooner?”  “I’m sorry sir,” the youth replied coolly, the rebuke not seeming to have fazed him, “But I couldn’t get away reasonably until now.”   “Alright well give me what you have!”

In all reality, I think he would leave off the alright well. He wants to know, he’d be demanding.

replied the other resignedly as he leaned back in his seat.  “Last night as I was returning home from running an errand for my master, I was passing by the tanner’s cottage and I saw a stranger dressed in black, mounted on a large, bay colored horse, which doesn’t belong to anyone in this town, ride by.  I ran after him, keeping to the shadows, and though he was not easy to follow for he was an excellent rider and went along at a good clip, I was, in spite of it, able to track him down for he had not far to go.”  He paused for a moment to take a breath.

And this is where most people will be taking a breath. 🙂

“Where did he go?” the other questioned anxiously.  “He went to the house of a man called ‘Oldman Danec’ he welcomed him and though I could not hear what passed between them, it seemed he received him as one would an old friend.  My master was expecting me home and I had not time to report to you immediately, but I came as soon as I could get away this morning; even now I cannot stay any longer for I will not be late to work!”   “Ah, yes the life of an apprentice is demanding indeed! Nevertheless I thank you for your report. I had already heard of the stranger from another last night but the fool came to tell me as soon as he saw him instead of following him to find out where he went. Your contribution has made up for his folly.”   The youth bowed stiffly and turned toward the door, “thank you sir.” Was all, and then he was gone and the other was left to stare at the bare wooden door. But he did not stare long; with a grunt he threw his large frame out of the chair and walking

You’ve been using specific, descriptive action words you lose your momentum here.

toward a door on the other side of the rectangular compartment, he opened it and leaned out the doorway, “Orinef!”  “Coming sir!” someone yelled back from some where below him and in a moment the stairs on that side resounded with the noise of running feet

It would be good to end this sentence here. It’s running on forever.

and as the man resumed his seat, a slight, hawk faced man in his mid thirties stepped in,  “Yes Sir?” he questioned eagerly,  as he carefully straightened the folds of his scarlet tunic.

 

I love all the descriptions. I’m visualizing the story and everything. There are too many adverbs in here. It has weakened this whole passage. Watch for your run-on sentences. Oftentimes when I come across a novel that has quite a number of these afore mentioned sentences I put the book down. I want to be turning each page breathless, and not from exhaustion, from anticipation. Let your readers breathe.
You have something good going here. You have stayed within your story world with your descriptions. That’s an excellent thing to do. It keeps us grounded in your world, transported, we’ve left ours. Great!!

Thank you for letting me shred this! (Weird as that is to say.) I hope this helps you in a great way!

~Haley Long