January 8, 2018 at 6:38 pm #346701
Hello all. One of my novettes that is going through self-editing. I hope to grow it to a full novel. It’s in the fantasy genre and I am mostly looking for suggestions on how well chapter one pulls the reader in (or doesn’t) thank you for your time.
Of Andaer and the Star
In the North, far from the wetlands, past many rivers and beyond many mountains, there was a kingdom. The kingdom was known as Andaer, or “The Greatest Kingdom” as the citizens called it. The city had a large stronghold at its center and to the east of the castle, the common folk had their homes and markets and smiths. South of the center were many farms and vineyards and stables and a good deal of cows; which were never eaten, but use as pets, and sometimes ridden. The beginning of this story takes places mostly to the west of the stronghold, where there was much wild land and forests and deer; this was the hunting grounds of Andaer. The farms of the south, the towns in the east, and the northern part of the city also, were surrounded by a great wall and sentries were posted throughout the various watchtowers along it. Great machines that could hurl fire and iron javelins were built on the far side of the hunting grounds, for there was rumor of dragons to the west, though none had ever seen or heard one.
Andaer was a thriving kingdom and had a great many traditions and celebrations and parties and such, as could be expected of any large, prosperous empire. The chief and most anticipated celebration of every year was the Festival of Meals: a two-week celebration in which, the first week, the citizens of Andaer prepare their greatest meals for the King, his subjects, and his armies. In the second week, the King, his subjects, and his armies prepared their finest meals for the common folk of the kingdom. The final meal of the festival was the elaborate “Meal of Meats,” of which the King himself was the host and these annual meals were what made King Adrian’s fame spread throughout the surrounding providences. He was a just King and ruled Andaer with mercy and virtue, and was loved by one and all. His father before him, King Jarius III, ended the Barbarian Wars and established peace in Andaer. The armies of The Greatest Kingdom had fought no wars for five score and ten years and Andaer thrived in comfort under King Adrian and his father’s scepter. In fact, Jarius III established most of the festivals and holidays after the wars. And of all these, The Festival of Meals was King Adrian’s pride, as was it his fathers.
Expectedly, the chefs of the royal house were the most learned and skilled in all the land. The bakers and wine-makers were equally proficient in their craft. All contributed greatly, but what set the Meal of Meats apart from all other events of the festival was not the baker’s bread, nor wine-maker’s wine, nor even the chef’s masterful preparations. Rather, it was the King’s hunter. None knew the name of the hunter, but Andaerians followed their King in naming him “Fletcher” because he made his own arrows and refused to use any he did not toil to create himself. He was a quiet man, and took his hunting very seriously. He had no family that any knew of, and spoke to none, though he was never rude and always pleasant to behold. Even to the king, who favored him very much, Fletcher spoke few words and usually the same ones. “Yes, me Lord” or “No, me Lord” or “Thankee, me Lord.” Fletcher was also quite fond of the King, though he never said it. Nevertheless, both were loyal to each other and were always on good terms. (This was mostly because, naturally, Fletcher was grateful for the employment and King Adrian enjoyed the benefits of having an extremely experienced hunter in his service, not to mention, of course, the King’s fame from Fletcher providing the meats for the Meal of Meats.) The King paid well for the service and always rewarded extra during festivals and holidays.
One evening, the Hunter had just returned to his small camp after a relentless and unsuccessful hunt. He had seen plenty of meals that were fit for a king, but every opportunity had escaped him. Tired and frustrated, he ate a quick meal of bread and grapes, and soon lay relaxed with thoughts and hopes for a more eventful hunt at dawn. He thought of the contentment of his life, his service to the king, a new bow, and how to make his arrows fly straighter, faster and, longer. As he gazed up at the stars and pondered his comings and goings, a particularly bright star caught his gaze. It was a strange color, and appeared to be moving. As he followed the stars path, he soon realized it was indeed moving, and quite rapidly, nearer and nearer and brighter and brighter. Before the hunter could even think of what to identify the mystery as, the blazing star came bursting down with a crash into a grove of trees not far from where he was resting. Though he was adventurous and courageous, being in the hunting profession, he was also a very cautious man, but in this instance, his courage and curiosity got the better of his wits and caution, and he went to see what the crash was about. As he neared the site of the fallen star, the first thing he noticed was simply that, it was indeed a star, and it was glowing. A purple hue radiated brightly, illuminating the entire grove surrounding the crash site. The hunter slowly stepped closer and noticed that as he did, all sounds seemed to gradually disappear and all became very still and quiet. The crickets were no longer chirping, nor the mighty river rushing. The owls quit their hooting and the wolves their howling (or so it seemed. Actually, the crickets and river and owls and wolves continued their noises, only the Hunter could no longer hear them). He decided that perhaps he had made a mistake in coming to investigate, but every though of retreating was strangely overcome by something outside of his logic and he continued slowly towards the purple glow. He was now four or five feet away and realized, the star was only about the size of his hand, though it appeared much larger when he was further away. He froze and stood for quite some time in the solace, completely spellbound by the star. Then, as he took a single step closer, the star suddenly bursted with light of various color and flew straight up, and then came spinning down circling the hunter until it slammed itself into his chest. Instantly, the glow disappeared and all went dark. The sounds of night returned in the same moment and the noise woke the hunter from his trance. He noticed his shirt was burned where the star had slated him and he lifted his cloak to find the dull purple thing imbedded in his chest. Not sure what to think, or do, he cautiously staggered back to his camp and attempted to rest. All night he struggled to sleep, tossing and turning, perplexed and overwhelmed concerning the events of the night. Finally, just before dawn, he dozed, and dreamt. Even his dreams were of the star and he was deprived of any good rest. The next few days of hunting excursions were not likely to be very good either.
They were however. As a matter of fact, the next day was one of the best hunts he had been on so far that year, and the weeks to follow were also very productive. The festival was wonderful, as always and Fletcher continued to hunt month after month never learning any more of the stars significance, though he occasionally had dreams of it, but they never revealed any insight of his experiences. The people of Andaer never noticed anything different about the hunter, for he told no one and continued to do his duty for the King, and slowly forgot about the thing in his chest.
Again, thank you for your time.
January 31, 2018 at 2:41 pm #655254
I like the setting, and am interested in the way the story could be headed, but the most interesting thing that occurs was downplayed. It’s hard for me to be compelled to follow a character that shrugs off having a purple meteor embedded in his chest.
Sorry if this isn’t very helpful, but I’m new at this whole critiquing thing.
February 8, 2018 at 4:19 am #655255
Don’t apologize. You opinion is very helpful. Thank you.
April 18, 2018 at 1:02 pm #655256
A line break between the first and second paragraphs would help readability.
Why doesn’t the hunter have a name? What does that information do to move the story forward? Or does it? And, would someone with this character’s described attributes really stand and stare at anything screaming through the sky in his direction?
A hard read for me because oit seems to be all tell and no show. Where’s the action? Needs to be punched up quite a bit.
May 2, 2018 at 3:01 pm #655257
I agree with MikePhillip. Your writing is all “telling” and no “showing.” It reads like a fairy tale: Once upon a time there was a kingdom and there was a king and there was the king’s hunter and he got hit in the chest by a meteor, or star, or UFO. What you’ve given us is your plot synopsis and background details (for your own reference), not the novelette (which could easily be expanded to a novel if you wrote it by showing instead of telling).
For example, start with an inciting incident and don’t TELL us his backstory, where he is, why he’s doing what he’s doing. Let us discover it by “watching” what he does. SHOW it to us as if it’s a movie playing out in our minds. And then, as much as possible, let the other world-building details emerge in the same way. If you can’t give us those details with action, do it by conversations between the characters. But you don’t have to give us everything in the first few pages. I see your inciting incident being the failed hunt and then the celestial “thing” striking as he lays by his campfire that night. So, “show” the whole thing. Here’s an example of how you could start: (I’ve adapted something of mine)
“The buck was magnificent, truly a meal fit for a king, its rack of antlers the largest (Hunter) had seen in many seasons, but the light was failing. Red Jovim had already slid below the distant mountains and only yellow Ornos remained, low in the sky. (Hunter) moved his right hand slowly forward, sliding it across the mossy surface of the tundra. His right knee followed. Then left hand, left knee, right hand, right knee, on and on as he had done for an hour, creeping carefully into the killing range of his bow.
Now he had to hurry, but slowly, or risk a shot in dim light. The buck grazed, moving steadily right to left, lifting its head after every mouthful to scan the horizon, its jaw moving in a circular motion as it chewed. The wind at its back carried only the scent of the females behind it and none of the threat in front.
I need this one, (Hunter) thought. The King wants a prize for his festival. His reputation depends on it, and if I can’t supply what he wants… well, the biggest celebration of the year will be the biggest failure of the year. And it will be all mine.”
From a “telling” of a few hundred words, you can go to a “showing” with thousands of words that draw the reader into your Hunter’s world and his story and make us want to know what happens to him, and care.
May 4, 2018 at 7:38 pm #655258
Firstly, thank you MikePhillip and litnitwit for your inputI agree that it needs livening up. I will continue to re work it and perhaps post an update.
Secondly, the hunters name is not know because the story plays on his lack of identity. Throughout the story which is a quest to remove the thing in his chest, he becomes the hunter of many kings (hence the name the Kings’ Hunter) and each give him a different name. By the end he finds his true identity in his return to hunt for “his” king rather than many others.
Again thanks so much for your time.
May 8, 2018 at 9:42 pm #655259
I agree with the others. This is very brisk without a lot of detail. Essentially, a lot of telling and little showing. It reads more like a synopsis than part of the actual story, especially at the end when weeks and months are summarized in a few sentences. I hope this was helpful.
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