We give you our 33rd installment of KP Critiques! We greatly appreciate the willingness of our subscribers to subject their work underneath our editor’s scrutiny. While critiques are necessary and greatly beneficial, it’s never easy to put your work out there for all to see, and for it to be publicly critiqued. Thank you for having the courage to partake of this daring endeavor!
(Our editors really aren’t that scary.)
A big thank you to Aysia for this awesome critique!!
The prison door clanged shut
,; footsteps receded down the hallway.
This is a comma splice, as it’s really two separate sentences here, so I suggest replacing it with a semi-colon or a period.
I pulled against the chains with all my might, but they wouldn’t give.
“Don’t bother,” a voice said. I looked up. On the other side of the dungeon slumped a thin girl, wearing similar shackles. Although it was dark, I could see her bruised eyes and bloody wrists.
“I already tried,” she said. My mouth dropped open.
“Eryn! How did you get here?”
“Our forces were intercepted at the bridge,” she replied quietly. How was that possible? They couldn’t have known unless…
“Treachery?” It was more of a statement than a question.
She nodded. “Undoubtedly.”
With something like this, since the same character is both doing the action and saying the dialogue, they should be in the same paragraph.
My fists clenched. Whoever
isit was would regret it.
“I was captured and brought here,” she continued. “As commander, they thought I might be useful.” Her mouth twisted into a slight smile. “I haven’t been.”
I didn’t want to ask. I feared I knew the answer. But it needed to be said.
“And the others with you?”
The smile left and she took a shaky breath. “Killed. All of them.”
Even the king in his high courts above us must have heard my scream.
This lacks the emotional weight that it could have because I don’t really feel like I know these characters’ relation to each other. If you could include something to mention how the MC (I don’t think I have a name for her yet) knows Eryn, and how the MC knows these soldiers that have been killed, that would help me a lot to understand the pain she’s feeling here.
I yanked at the chains with renewed energy, putting in all the force of my anger and grief.
What’s she trying to do here? Does she actually think she can break free of the chains, or is she just mad with grief?
Over two hundred men and women had been there. Nowhere near the strength of the king’s forces. It would have been a slaughter. I strained even harder, the shackles tearing at my skin, my shoulders aching with the effort.
Hunter had been there. Father had told me to protect him. Hunter would have fought to the end, like a true warrior, but what good could a young boy do against such an army? I had failed Father, and him.
My strength left me and I collapsed onto the stone floor. I buried my face in my hands, back tense, my breath coming in short gasps.
“We have to get out of here,” I mumbled. Eryn gave a short, hollow laugh.
“Why? Face it, Dak. The revolution is over.” I looked up, my vision blurry.
Oh. Is Dak a guy or a girl? I’d been assuming up to this point that the MC was a girl, but with a name like Dak, I’m second-guessing Dak’s gender.
“No, it’s not. There are others. And we’re still here.” Eryn sighed.
“Not for long,” she said quietly. She turned away, and I gasped. Open wounds covered her nearly-bare back, bleeding, infected, stripe upon stripe until it looked like her entire back was torn open.
The grammar of this sentence, especially with the list of descriptions, sounds a bit off. Try to make it a bit more consistent with what kind of descriptions you’re using, if that makes sense.
I looked away, gagging.
ed information. Names, people, places. Our plans and strategies. I won’t wouldn’t tell them.” Her voice shook. “It gets worse each day. I don’t know how much longer until I give in.”
If she’s been tortured daily, describing it should probably be in present as opposed to past tense.
She turned toward me, a few tears sliding down her dusty cheeks. “Why did we do this, Dak? Why were so many lives lost?”
I had been asking the same question.
“For freedom,” I replied.
“Will it really be worth it?”
To not live in constant fear. It seemed a mere dream.
But at such a cost!
And Hunter, oh Hunter. The price is too high.
“I… don’t know.” My vision blurred again.
“Then why don’t we just stop? Give up?”
I jerked my head up, looking her in the eye. “We can’t do that! They died for freedom. For our freedom! We can’t just sit back and let their sacrifice go to waste!”
“There’s nothing more we can do.” The hopelessness in her voice showed she believed what she said. She was tired. Worn. Of course she would be, tortured here in this dungeon. How could I convince her to keep on?
“We can’t give up. Won’t. Listen, Eryn. You want the king to win? Want this… this madness to continue?” She shook her head. “Then we keep fighting,” I said. “We fight as long and hard as we can.”
“It’ll be the death of us.” She was probably right.
“Then we’ll fight to our dying breath.” I raised my right hand, the chain dangling from my wrist, in the Rebel’s Salute.
She hesitated, then copied the action.
“To our dying breath.”
It’s a bit unclear here why Eryn is convinced to keep fighting.
Overall thoughts: This scene is a pretty good scene overall and was executed quite well, but I’m not sure it works well as an opening scene. I think it would work a lot better if this scene came after several other scenes that showed this destruction and introduced us more to the characters before showing them at a point of despair. That will also help to make it feel less melodramatic if the reader knows ahead of time why they are in despair. Once that is done, this scene will be a lot more powerful and should be very evoking for the reader. This scene definitely was evoking for me at points, even with a lack of context, so there’s definitely some good stuff going on here already. Keep it up!
– Josiah DeGraaf