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DOGGONE VOICE: WHERE THERE IS DARK

Friday, 29 June 2012  |  Posted by Brenda
 

Title: WHERE THERE IS DARK
Genre: YA Fantasy
The twenty-four hour incense stick releases a continuous thread of fragrant smoke. Vanilla. Saturdays are always vanilla. The scent mixes with the pungent odor of mushrooms boiling in a pot over the hearth’s open flames. Mushrooms thrive in the dark, so they are the only food that isn’t rationed. And like the incense clock, they remind me of everything the darkness has stolen.
Across the kitchen, Mother flashes me a smile. Firelight brings out the red in her hair, which she wears twisted into a braid over one thin shoulder. Desperation shoots through me. If the light doesn’t return soon, we won’t last much longer. She’s humming some upbeat tune I don’t recognize, and her outright cheeriness evokes an urge to scream, what’s wrong with you? She’s oblivious to the multifaceted wrongness that is Creperi. But then I think, no, it’s worse than that. She’s outright ignoring it. 
I focus on the clock. Weighted disks hang from dual strings stretched across the smoldering stick of incense. A red-hot glow sizzles through the first string. It snaps, and the disks crash onto the bronze plate below with a resounding gong. A heartbeat passes. The second string breaks.
Two gongs. Twelve o’clock. Tristan should be here by now.
Worry gnaws at my insides, but Mother doesn’t seem to notice that either. “I have a council meeting tonight,” she says.
I grab a spoon off the counter and stir the murky liquid inside the pot. The grayish bits of mushroom scatter.

Filed: Misc, Workshops

7 Comments
  • Leigh Ann says:

    Wow! What a rich voice. You have some lovely descriptions here.

    My concern with this is that you’ve got some complex, description-heavy paragraphs to start out, so it’s hard for me to get attached enough to this character (and her voice!) to care about what she wants to describe to me, and how it relates to her. I think that if you move the shorter paragraphs from the end, starting with “Two Gongs,” right to the top, it would help A LOT with that.

    Remember to let us engage with the more mundane aspects of our characters thoughts and views as well as her beautiful observations about the world around her. I’m sure you do on following pages.

    Lovely work!

  • Marieke says:

    Oh I LOVE that first paragraph. Seriously, “Saturdays are always vanilla”? GORGEOUS.

    It’s not an easy start, and by the start of the second paragraph I don’t feel involved enough to know where to place the details you give. I’d love to get some more action and all the unique and awesome details filtered in more. There is so much here, it gets a little overwhelming.

    I think that would make me connect to the voice more too, because it’s seriously beautiful and I’d love to read on.

  • The twenty-four hour incense clock releases a stream of fragrant smoke. Vanilla. Saturdays are always vanilla.

    A red-hot glow sizzles through the first of duel strings stretched across the smoldering stick of incense, releasing a weighted disk. It crashes onto the bronze plate below with a resounding gong. A heartbeat passes. The second string breaks.

    Two gongs. Twelve o’clock. Tristan is officially late.

    Across the kitchen, Mother flashes an uneasy smile. “Any plans for today, Jazzlyn?” Firelight brings out the red in her hair, which she wears twisted into a braid over one thin shoulder.

    “Nothing much.” I grab a spoon off the counter and stir the murky liquid inside the pot. The grayish mushroom bits scatter, their pungent odor mingling with the vanilla scented air. I swallow back the feeling that something isn’t right. “Tristan should be here soon. We’re going to visit Zac.”

    Tristan always chides me about being a control freak, but seriously, my future depends on these next few hours. So where is he already? It’s not like the rebels are going to wait around for me to capture one of them, because, you know, they feel really bad about murdering my father. And it’s not like the Shadow Council is going to let me join a year early because my smile is really bright and I have great hair.

    I need to make those things happen. And if Tristan isn’t here in ten minutes, I’ll do both on my own.

  • Brenda Drake says:

    This voice is brilliant. The way you’ve woven the small details with the dialogue and action you ignited an image of their world in my head effortlessly.

    That said, I had to read the second paragraph over to understand it. It could just be me, so let’s see what Lauren and Becks say in their critique. I’m not an incense user so I could just be ignorant of it.

    Excellent job!

  • callmebecks says:

    You did a wonderful job with this revision, and the voice in this so much stronger. I’m getting all the awesome right upfront, and I want to read more.

    IN-LINE CRITS
    The twenty-four hour incense clock releases a stream of fragrant smoke. Vanilla. Saturdays are always vanilla. (This is a terribly, terribly strong open. Vibrant.)

    A red-hot glow sizzles through the first of duel strings stretched across the smoldering stick of incense, releasing a weighted disk. It crashes onto the bronze plate below with a resounding gong. A heartbeat passes. The second string breaks. (I’m going to vote to cut this down. It’s great prose, but this much detail so soon breaks the flow and holds me up instead of catapulting me into things.)

    Two gongs. Twelve o’clock. Tristan is officially late.

    Across the kitchen, Mother flashes an uneasy smile. “Any plans for today, Jazzlyn?” Firelight brings out the red in her hair, which she wears twisted into a braid over one thin shoulder.

    “Nothing much.” I grab a spoon off the counter and stir the murky liquid inside the pot. The grayish mushroom bits scatter, their pungent odor mingling with the vanilla-scented (added hyphen) air. I swallow back the feeling that something isn’t right. “Tristan should be here soon. We’re going to visit Zac.”

    Tristan always chides me about being a control freak, but seriously, my future depends on these next few hours. So where is he already? It’s not like the rebels are going to wait around for me to capture one of them, because, you know, they feel really bad about murdering my father. And it’s not like the Shadow Council is going to let me join a year early because my smile is really bright and I have great hair. (Carefly with the use of “really” but otherwise, these last two sentences are wonderful. Chock full o’ voice.)

    I need to make those things happen. And if Tristan isn’t here in ten minutes, I’ll do both on my own. (Good girl – you go get ’em.)

  • “Thank you” just doesn’t feel like enough. All of your critiques are amazingly thoughtful. The time you’ve taken to give them is very much appreciated.

    Last revision for when Lauren takes a peek. Hopefully this flows a bit better.

    Fragrant blue smoke ripples in the air. Vanilla. Saturdays are always vanilla.

    The daily scents are one of the few constants in Creperi, but as the twenty-four hour incense clock smolders through the noontime mark, my nerves are as shaky as ever. A glance out the window does nothing to calm them, either. Tristan promised he’d be here by now, but outside, only darkness fills the spaces between shadows.

    Everything depends on these next few hours. So where is he already? It’s not like the rebels are going to wait around for me to capture one of them, because, you know, they feel really bad about murdering my father. Nor will my winning smile charm the Shadow Council into taking me a year early.

    I’ve got to make those things happen. And if Tristan isn’t here in ten minutes, I’ll do both without him.

    I huff and march back to the clock. This draws an uneasy smile from Mother. Great. Just what I need.

    She crosses the kitchen and drops a handful of something into a pot hanging over the hearth’s open flames. “Big plans for today, Jazzlyn?”

    “No. Not really.” I grab a spoon and stir the murky liquid inside the pot. Grayish bits of mushroom scatter, their pungent odor mingling with the vanilla-scented air. My stomach churns, and I swallow back the feeling that something isn’t right. “Tristan will be here soon. We’re going to visit Zac.”

    It’s not exactly a lie, since that’s where my knives are stashed.

  • Lola7384 says:

    I do think you’ve got a great voice. Your descriptions are wonderful and paint a very clear picture.

    The only issue I have is that I feel this needs a little more pull. You need just a little bit more of something going on to pull the reader into the story.

    You could try moving some of the paragraphs around.

    Again this is only a suggestion.

    EX~ Fragrant blue smoke ripples in the air. Vanilla. Saturdays are always vanilla.

    Mother crosses the kitchen and drops a handful of something into a pot hanging over the hearth’s open flames. “Big plans for today, Jazzlyn?”

    It is important to start the ms with some kind of action. Even the little things. Folding laundry. Cooking. Picking at split ends.

    It pulls the reader in and makes them question things.

    Just what are Jazzlyn’s big plans for the day or does she have any at all?

    I hope this helps.

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