KP Critiques – 39

Welcome to the 39th edition of KP Critiques! May others be inspired by your bravery, Lady Shaina. Even the most skilled wordsmiths shudder at the sight of an editor’s dagger, but it’s a necessary training procedure. Although you may emerge with blood splatters on your hands, your sword will be sharpened and your story will wield more impact.KP Critique 39

Now, onward to the analysis of Shaina’s tale!

Terrence grabbed the statuette of a knight and threw it as hard as he could toward the walls of the tent. Immediately both men stopped what they were doing and stared at him, surprise on their faces.

He heaved a deep breath. “Sorry. That was uncalled for.”

This feels abrupt. It might be more effective if you introduced the men in the tent and showed the reason Terrence is frustrated before his reaction.

“Perhaps, but I do believe that we can agree with the sentiment.,” Wizard Gyre said dryly, regarding him from under bushy white eyebrows.

Unless a line of dialogue is exclamatory or interrogative, if it’s followed by a tag, a comma is the proper punctuation.

Terrence managed to give a tightlipped smile before sinking back down into his chair from where he had been studying the map. The infernal map that Terrence he wanted to sink at the bottom of the sea. Not that that would help much though. Unfortunately though, dDiscarding maps did not get rid of the problem they represented.

“Perhaps you would like to take a break?” Ehng, Terrence’s general, asked from across the table. “We have been at this since lunch.”

“I think that would be a wise idea.,” Gyre said, standing up from his chair. “These old bones have been sitting in one place long enough.”

“Sounds good.,” Terrence said and bounced out of his chair. “If we haven’t found an answer by this time we never will.”

I’d suggest replacing “bounced” with a different verb, because it doesn’t fit the mood or the maturity of the character.

Ehng raised a thin eyebrow,. “A statement I do not agree with, Prince Terrence. We will find the answer. It will just take time. In the meanwhile, I do agree that a break is best. After we have made a decision on where to move our troops.” He leveled a gaze at Terrence, who reluctantly looked at the map again.

They were currently in a tiny valley between two small peaks in the Crystal mountain range. It had hid them for a record of two months, but Torroc was closing in and it was time to move again. They had two options,: climb a mountain, or go east. Going east was easier, but was in the opposite direction of where Terrence wanted to go. It would mean months of backtracking. However, if they failed to climb the mountain before winter, that could spell a worst worse fate for the men who were following him. Terrence sighed,. there was really oOnly one option was open to him.

I’d recommend heightening the tension of this scene. Maybe you could start with Terrence examining the map and considering his options while receiving input from his men (which might be contrary to his desires and cause an argument).

“Have our best scouts go out one more time to see if they can find a pass over the mountain. If they cannot, tell the squad to pack up and be ready to go east.”

Without pausing to wait for Ehng and Gyre’s approval, Terrence swept out of the tent. Brushing a hand through his brown hair, he swiftly walked strode to the opposite side of their small camp. Where ever Wherever he went, men bowed their heads.

“Good day, Prince Terrence.”

“Good day, sir,.” Terrence said with a slight head nod toward the man who had spoken.

Always use a comma in direct address (Hello, Terrence), nobody nods anything except their head, and it seems like you’re overemphasizing that Terrence is royalty, which readers are already aware of.

Ignoring the questioning looks that his men were giving him, Terrence walked straight to where Zira was kept tethered. He needed to lose some steam.

When Terrence entered the copse of trees, Zira was tethered in she looked up and nickered at him. Terrence grinned wWhen her voice entered his mind, he grinned.

There you are, I was beginning to wonder if you had forgotten me.

Terrence stroked her velvety nose. Sorry, I have been busy. Ready to go for a ride?

Zira snorted. Always.

The two are telepathically connected. Interesting.

In the space of Within a few minutes, Terrence had saddled and bridled her and was in the saddle. Zira spread her feathery wings halfway, preparing and was ready to jump into the air. Terrence held her reins firmly.

No, Zira, you know the rules.

I know. The pegasus said with a sighed and refolded her wings back up again. They walked until they were twenty feet above the camp where there was a small meadow, perfect for taking off and landing. All it took was a small tap from Terrence for Zira to instantly leap into the air. Terrence felt a familiar thrill sweep through him. Even after two years, the feeling never got old. He was flying, really, actually flying!

Zira pumped her wings and went straight up into the sky. When they both had deemed it high enough, Zira leveled off and headed for one of the peaks.

Anything special in mind for today? she asked, her excitement seeping over into Terrence’s mind.

Terrence mentally shrugged. Not really, you choose.

In response, Zira beat her wings faster and faster until the chill air made Terrence’s face go numb. She banked to the left, then swooped up into a loop the to loop. Terrence grinned and hunched down farther into the saddle. If only he could stay up here forever.

All too soon, the sun announced that evening was upon them. Reluctantly, Terrence guided Zira back to their landing spot and his time in the sky was over.

Be careful not to over-explain or state the obvious.

Gyre and Ehng were there to meet met him when he got back returned to camp.

“It has been done as you said, Prince Terrence,” Ehng said.

Terrence nodded as he walked toward the mess tent. “Thank you. Now, what is for dinner?”

“The usual,” Gyre replied. “How was your ride?”

Terrence grinned. “Perfect. Zira and I did our best time yet around the mountain.”

Ehng looked troubled. “Are you sure that was wise, Terrence? With Torroc’s men so close we should have more caution.”

Terrence paused at the flap of hide that served as the mess tents door and looked at Ehng. “We were careful to fly high enough that we were just specks in the sky, but do you think that we need to stop?”

“Just for now,” Gyre said kindly, putting a gentle hand on Terrence’s shoulder. “Until we can move to a better location.”

Terrence’s shoulders sagged. He knew it was necessary, but to stop flying? He just hoped that the scouts came back soon. He wouldn’t be able to hold out for long.

“You are right,” he said. “Zira and I will pause our flights until we have moved to a safer location.”

Ehng nodded his approval and ducked into the tent. As Terrence followed him, he felt a knock on the door of his mind. He opened the door to the visitor as he sat down.

Gyre’s voice filled his mind. How are you doing?

Terrence sighed inwardly. I am going to go crazy. Every time I make a week’s, or even a day’s progress toward Trium, Torroc’s men make us retreat, and lose all of the ground I just took. And they don’t even know it! Wouldn’t it just be easier to fight them, instead of hiding? I know we could win.

You also know the consequences of such a move, Gyre reminded him.

Does everyone have the ability to communicate telepathically?

Terrence nodded and turned his attention to the meal in front of him. Gyre’s presence pulled away from his mind, giving Terrence space to think. Gyre was right, he did know the consequences of announcing his presence now. He might win the battle and get to reach Trium faster, but then Torroc would know where he was, and have an army waiting for him when he crossed the border again. They would be doomed.

If only the whole squadron had pegasi, he thought, then we they could all go over the mountain.

Still pursuing that same train of thought, Terrence placed a bite of potatoes in his mouth, and almost gagged. He looked down at the potatoes in front of him, then up at the men who had gathered in the mess tent. Down to the last man, they were all staring down at their potatoes in disgust. Terrence sighed, that was it.

“Ehng!”

The general looked up from his own plate. “Yes, Prince Terrence?”

“Fire the cook.”

Ehng didn’t even raise an eyebrow. “Again, sir? That is the third one this week.”

“Well, this one is worst than the last one! There has to be someone in this camp who can cook!”

Ehng’s mouth quirked to the side. “I will endeavor to find that man, Prince Terrence.”

I think some parts of this excerpt (such as Terrence’s ride on Zira and the terrible cook) would be better placed later in the book, rather than in the first chapter—unless you can configure a way to give them more meaning. They reveal aspects of Terrence’s character, but you need more action and conflict in your opening to draw readers into the story. Try focusing on Terrence’s predicament (which isn’t entirely clear right now) and his relationship to the men he leads. Also, go deeper inside his head and reveal more of his viewpoint.

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Brianna was born with a rumble in her veins. She finds the tap of a keyboard to be soothing like the pitter-patter of rain. She has been a writer for a decade, a freelance editor for a few years, and a bibliophile from the moment she pronounced her first syllable. Proudly a Silver Member of The Christian PEN, she serves on their team as Graphics Coordinator. She exudes her passion for speculative fiction and helping young writers by being an Associate Editor at Castle Gate Press and the Copy Editor/Director of Graphics for Kingdom Pen. When she isn’t poring over words, she may be spotted shooting her Canon, riding The Breeze (an all-terrain vehicle), or romping with her dog, Zookie. Purple is her signature color, and she refuses to recognize all other claims to it.
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