KP Critiques – 38

Welcome to the 38th edition of KP Critiques! May others be inspired by your bravery, Lady Alia. 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 38

Now, onward to the exploration of Alia’s tale!

Everyone knelt there, heads bowed, feeling as helpless, though maybe not as furious, as he did. He wanted to fight, wanted to do something, but he was terrified, same as everyone else. Until someone lifted their his chin, and stood up. He didn’t know how, but sSomehow everyone in the clearing knew sensed that some idiot had looked up. Stupid, stupid. Now we’re all going to die. He didn’t dare look up himself,; after all, he might be shown mercy. Had not his family been faithful? Had not his family sacrificed everything? [Read more…]

Profile photo of Brianna Storm Hilvety
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.

KP Critiques – 37

Welcome to the 37th edition of KP Critiques! May others be inspired by your bravery, R. J. Wordsmith. Even the most skilled knights of the pen 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 37

Before I begin, I have a quick note for anyone who has viewed my previous critiques. Up until now, I’ve essentially performed a critique and copyedit combo on each piece wherein I’ve tried to improve the sentences as well as comment on plot, characters, theme, etc. However, I’ve decided to cease that practice because it’s tedious and time consuming to transfer all my line-level edits from a Word document to a blog post without missing something. I will still be doing critiques, but more in the true sense of the word (focusing on content only).

I thought I should mention this change in procedure, lest someone spot a typo or grammar error and mistakenly assume I’ve lost my “superpower.” 😛 Occasionally I may point out small blunders and trim words, but generally I won’t be marking up novel excerpts like a copyedit anymore. Since the following story contained some recurring issues, I’ve positioned my assessment at the bottom of this post rather than scattering it throughout. My apologies to anyone who hoped to witness or experience a more comprehensive edit. Thank you for understanding. 🙂

Now, onward to R. J.’s dastardly tale!

James ‘Kit’ Kessington Wraith lived at house No. 166 on West Regicide St. in the City of Wickton. He came from a perfectly respectable evil family (two of his more famous ancestors being Morgana and Mordred) and was top of his class at the ‘Wickton Academy for the Mastery of the Villainous Arts’. Now you may think it strange that this story does not begin with the introduction of a classical hero, but truth be told this story isn’t about one. For you see, sometimes the world needs a hero to save it and other times the job can only be done with a bit of good old-fashioned villainy. But I begin to digress. [Read more…]

Profile photo of Brianna Storm Hilvety
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.

KP Critiques – 36

Welcome to the 36th edition of KP Critiques! May others be inspired by your bravery, Lady Kate. 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 36

I issue a challenge to all the squires in the audience. I beseech you to don the armor of a knight and come forward. Dost thou hear the trumpet sounding? Send us your novel excerpts!

Now, onward to the analysis of Kate’s intriguing tale!

There are lots of things in the world I guess no one was ever really made to understand. Different things for different people sometimes, but for the most part it all boils down to the inevitable. Things like destiny. Love. Evil. Death. I know a lot about death. But destiny especially. [Read more…]

Profile photo of Brianna Storm Hilvety
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.

KP Critiques – 10

We give you our tenth 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.) KP Critiques Post 1

Thank you, Taylor for providing today’s submission; an excerpt from her novel, The Healer’s Servant.

The Submission

Have you ever looked into the Healer’s shop and pitied the poor soul who had to gather the salamander eyes?  What about the acid leaves for wart-removal powder? Or, and here’s a favorite of mine, dragon fecal matter? Because that poor soul is me. I have burn scars from the acid leaves. I’ve collected dragon dung in a sack, then carried it for three days straight on the journey back to the city. In the middle of Summer.

But no. You don’t know who I am. All you know is Thelma the Great. The Magnificent. Thelma, with her miraculous healing hands. You don’t know the one who gives those hands the ingredients they need to make magic happen. [Read more…]

KP Critiques – 05

Here today we present to you, fine ladies and gentlemen, our fifth installment of KP Critiques!
We thank all of you for the flood of critiques we have received! It’s lovely to witness the rise of courageous writers who are willing to submit their work to be analyzed and critiqued. It’s never easy to put your work out there for all to see, but by doing so you are benefiting more writers as well as growing as a writer!KP Critiques Post 3

Today’s critique is brought to us by Mark, from his story, Project Apofeoz.

Project Apofeoz

“The sixth strike. Probably felt great then. I bet you don’t feel so good now, right?” Mason said.
Logan shook his head. “I feel fine.”
“No, you don’t,” Mason ran his fingers against Logan’s ribs. “I got three. Focus on the pain and tell me if I’m right.” He slapped Logan’s ribs.
Logan groaned. “Four.” He took a deep breath and focused the pain away. “The fourth one is probably just fractured.”
Mason finished setting the bone then stood up. He brushed his blood-stained hands off against his jeans. “You’re gonna be fine in an hour. Put on your shirt just don’t break the stitches. I’d worry more about your cheekbone. Wouldn’t want to mar your pretty little baby face would we?”
Logan ignored the tease. He slowly eased on his t-shirt. “I gotta go in an hour. The Fernandez’s are expecting me for dinner.” He walked out of the living room and into his room. He shut the door behind him. He heard his bedroom door open behind him.
“A little privacy please?” Logan said.
“We need to talk about the sixth strike.” Mason leaned against one of the many motorcycle posters that plastered Logan’s room.
“It was the same as the first. And the second. And the third. And fourth. And fifth.” Logan lay down on his bed.
“Once you get caught you’ll be put on record. Anybody will be able to find you. And that’s excluding the ethical issues.”
Logan checked his phone for new messages. “What ethical issues?” Three messages. One from Seth, one from Sparkles, and another one from Matt. He opened the one from Sparkles: I just found out the news. We need to talk.
Mason eyed the bloodstained hand towel draped over the side of the hamper. “It’s not right. You know this. And we know—knew him.”
“’ Whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.’”
“That’s what I get for trying to convert the kid,” Mason mumbled under his breath, “You’re worse than those cults that visit me Saturday morning.”
Haha, amusing line. Nice job.
“I’m doing what the government failed to do.” Logan quickly replied to Sparkles’ message. I’ll explain. The other two messages could wait.
Mason took one of the throwing knives near Logan’s bedside table and tossed them in the air a couple times. He shook his head. “Well, you know my answer.”
Logan sat up. “You know mine.”
Mason knocked Logan’s motorcycle helmet off the table onto his bed. “Get to the Fernandez’s house early. I have work to do.”
“I’d be happy to,” Logan set the helmet back on the table. He began looking through the clothes in his closet for his red hoodie.
“I should’ve broken more of your bones,” Mason walked out of the room, “Maybe the one running down your back too.”
“Love you too, dad.”

I don’t have as many comments as I normally do on this selection, and that’s because I’m pretty confused about what’s going on here. What kind of genre is this story? It seems to be speculative fiction, given that after breaking four ribs, Logan somehow is strong enough to go to someone’s house for dinner, but there’s enough vagueness surrounding that and the “sixth strike” that I’m not sure about that. There are also parts of this story that feel vaguely dystopian (“you’ll be put on record. Anybody will be able to find you,” “I’m doing what the government failed to do”), but again, it’s pretty vague. I’m also confused about why Logan’s ribs are broken. Was it someone else who hurt him (“we know—knew him”?), or was it Mason (“I should’ve broken more of your bones”)? A lot of this confusion may be that you need more than four hundred words to be able to show the basic set-up for your story, so these comments may not be incredibly relevant to you if the next two pages of your story explain it all correctly. That being said, generally you want to strongly hint at the genre in the first one or two pages, and I’m currently really unsure what kind of genre this story is supposed to be. Apart from my confusion, the writing was pretty good—the dialogue was interesting, there was good humor, and you seem to do a good job of using subtlety. That being said, I’m still not completely sure what is going on. Depending on whether or not the next couple pages explain a lot of this confusion, my comments here may not be very helpful, but I hope that helps!

– Josiah DeGraaf

KP Critiques – 04

It has been awhile, but we’re back with another critique! Thank you all so much for having the courage to send them in! We know it’s never easy to have your writing critiqued, let alone shared for the benefit of others. That takes guts! But we also know that receiving critiques from others is one of the THE BEST ways to grow and improve. Constructive criticism is invaluable!

KP Critiques Post 1

Thank you Hailey for this submission!

Jade gasped at what she saw. In the middle of the ring of spectators, Neco stood, seething, in front of the dark-haired young man, Jaëver. “I gave you Maybe choose a more specific verb? Neco’s obviously angry; using ‘gave’ in this sentence weakens his outward display of emotion.  the money I owed you, it’s finished,” Neco spat, “Your horse wasn’t that valuable.”

Jaëver shook his head, laughing a cold, cruel, laugh. “Your money only paid for my horse’s tackle,” he said, bringing a wave of chuckles from some of the men looking on.

“It wasn’t my fault,” Neco replied, glaring at the crowd as they laughed, “You know as well as I do that your horse Is there an adjective he can use to slander Jaever’s horse? had no chance against that monster.”

The crowd quieted You might consider using ‘hushed’ in place of quieted. at the mention of the ‘monster’, but Jaëver took the comment in his the word ‘his’ isn’t necessary. stride, rolling his eyes.

“I’m still a bit surprised at how a sniveling runt Yes, here are the insults I’m looking for! like you managed to escape from the Creature, being as lanky and small as you are,” He cocked his head, smirking. “I often wonder why the leaders didn’t choose someone stronger, more skilled with a sword; over someone small and weak like you. I’ve tried to be nice, but you don’t play that way. So pay up, runt. Do his eyes narrow or does his body language become more intense at this point? Right here would be the perfect place to insert it. Now.”

“The leaders,” said Neco, a smug smile forming on his face “didn’t want someone with the Illness. For all they know, you could fall and drop dead, just like Rhoden. Besides,” he continued, “they probably didn’t want to choose a blithering idiot like you for their Stealthfoot. It’s Stealthfoot, Jaëver, not Blunderfoot, they couldn’t choose someone for my job who can’t take a step without alerting the whole kingdom.”

In the silence that followed, Jade felt the crowd shift into an uneasy watchfulness, something was making them nervous, but what? Could the position of stealthfoot, whatever that was, be something sacred, undiscussed? Undiscussed isn’t a word. Perhaps taboo, unmentionable, or forbidden is what you are looking for?

Jaëver looked like he was holding himself back from ripping Neco apart; his eyes were sharper than flint, his fists balled, and his face contorted in a mask of rage. “I told you never to speak my father’s name again,” Jaëver’s voice was filled with a fury that made Jade shudder. “Your lips foul his name. My father was one of the men who saved you from the soldiers that killed your parents. Without my father, you would be dead!”

Neco’s lip curled. “Your father was the one who failed to save my sister, she’s being held somewhere because of him; your father deserved to die, just like you do!” Does Neco come closer? Who is taller? They could tower over the other person, emphasizing their threats.

This is a good scene. However, there needs to be more tension in the ring. These men are obviously angry, I gathered that from reading this section, but if you want to make this scene more powerful your readers need to feel the emotion themselves. We need to be drawn into the ring, feel the hesitation and wave of fear awash over the spectators at the mention of this dreaded Monster. Does the crowd shudder, does a ripple of fear pass through them?
Jade is the main character, I’ve gathered that. We are seeing this through her eyes. We need to feel her emotion. How else does she react to all of this besides shuddering and gasping? Can she feel the tension? Does it swell? Is it a choking tension, is it thick? And where is Jade positioned in this scene? I was confused at that (I am aware I don’t have the full scene)

Great job! Good luck on publishing your book!
I hope this is helpful and irons out the doubts you had about this scene.
Blessings,
Haley

KP Critiques – 02

Our second installment in our KP Critiques series!

KP Critiques Post 3This critique comes from Sophia and her novel Sola Fide.

Sola Fide

She would that he would die.

His thickset chest heaved in her peripheral and his breath rasped like a coin in a coffer. She glanced out the latticed window, half expecting to glimpse the Angel of Death at the door lintel. Her white fingers clamped the book that had lain idly in her lap for the past hour while she listened to the mucus rattle in his throat. If only she could suck the will to live out of him, as he had done to her.

She stroked the gold leaf lettering, iridescent in the fire-dance. Would God punish her for refusing to forgive him? His breath spiked, and the cockleshell of her ear tilted back towards the bed that she had shared with him these past six months, the bed that was not her own. Because she wished death upon him, would God forever sear his features into her memory? She massaged the ache carved into her low back and shifted her chair so she could not see the man whose child she carried beneath her loose-fitting kirtle. If she deserved the brimstone of Sodom, the fiery furnace and the winepress of God’s wrath, how much more did she deserve a child who resembled its father?

And our critique!

She would that he would die.

While this is a seemingly good sentence to start with, I believe it could be written in a more concise manner. Two woulds in one sentence like that feels cluttered.

His thickset chest

Interesting, intriguing description.

heaved in her peripheral and his breath rasped like a coin in a coffer.

In a full or empty coffer? There is a difference in the sound; although I really like how you tied in the description with the setting of your novel.

She glanced

Just how did she glance? Nervous? Anxious? Show me. Let me feel with her.

out the latticed window, half expecting

Is she anticipating it? What?  

to glimpse the Angel of Death at the door lintel. Her white fingers clamped the book that had lain idly in her lap for the past hour while she listened to the mucus rattle in his throat. If only she could suck the will to live out of him, as he had done to her.

She stroked the gold leaf lettering, iridescent in the fire-dance. Would God punish her for refusing to forgive him? His breath spiked, and the cockleshell of her ear tilted back towards the bed that she had shared with him these past six months, the bed that was not her own.

Is this a bitter thought?

Because she wished death upon him, would God forever sear his features into her memory? She massaged the ache carved

Oh I love this word choice! I can picture it clearly! Excellent!

into her low

lower

back and shifted her chair so she could not see the man

Perhaps if you used a description that showed us how much she does not want to see him instead of telling us.

whose child she carried beneath her loose-fitting kirtle. If she deserved the brimstone of Sodom, the fiery furnace and the winepress of God’s wrath, how much more did she deserve a child who resembled its father?

Interesting, but I’m not swept into this story enough; I need to be gripped and thrust inward, hungrily moving onto the next sentence, the next scene, eager to see what happens next. Oftentimes when you tell us what is going on it dampens the effect of us being transported into the story world. I was almost there, almost transported, but there were subtle things that kept bringing me back. In this particular section we need to be shown, feel the emotion; I want to feel the weight of her dread what God might do; feel the impatience (that could be displayed clearer) of her husband dying. If I could feel all of that then I would be ushered into enough curiosity as to why she wants her husband dead. 

I sincerely hope this helps you; and that you aren’t discouraged. This has potential! 

~Haley Long