Under the Microscope – A Raven’s Revenge

 

Welcome back to another post in the Under the Microscope series. It’s been a while. Some of you who have been following this website for years will remember these.

How it works is that an author submits an excerpt from the beginning of one of their stories, with the understanding that I’ll publicly critique it. I give the excerpt a manuscript critique and post it.

Why does the author do this? A free critique and an opportunity for others to learn through the experience of someone else. Maybe the author wants to test market an idea, opener, or plot concept. The author, as usual, stays anonymous.

If you’d like information on my manuscript critique services, check out my details page.

 

Genre: YA Fantasy, Paranormal

Summary: With God at her back and her friends at her side, Justice is out for blood. Thrust into Hell, Justice will stop at nothing to rip into the demon who killed her parents and break Darien’s curse.

Can a half-angel, witch, elf, and vampire defeat Seliki, the daughter of the Devil himself?

 

Here is the excerpt, untouched:

Something had gone wrong. In the pitch black, shivers ran down my spine. My knees shook, as I crouched ready to spring into action. Where was everyone? If I yelled I’d reveal my location, but if I stayed quiet I might not find my friends. Fear overtook me and I screamed their names.

“Darien! Moira! Tom!”

No one answered. I inhaled each breath sharply like a stabbing dagger. Without light, I started to panic. I clasped my hands in prayer and felt a burning sensation between my palms. My lips spoke the words by rote. 

“Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed by thy name…”

The burning grew stronger and I raised my hands above my head only to have fire shoot out in a plume illuminating the space around me. Suddenly, I’ve become a human tiki torch. A pebble crunched underneath a foot close by. I swung my arms in the direction of possible danger and waited. Nothing. 

“Come on. Come on. What are you waiting for?” I thought. 

In the silence, my imagination ran wild. I kept picturing Moira tied up and Tom bleeding out with Darien hovering over them his fangs bloody. 

“No!” I screamed shaking my head.

“Justice!” a voice called out. 

“Darien, is that you?” I yelled back. 

A figure stood up from the shadows, and the closer it came he looked like Darien. Something was off. His face contorted and rippled as he moved. The little hairs on the back of my neck stood up and I stepped back. As he approached a sulfur smell emanated from his body instead of the fresh cut pine scent I knew so well. 

“I was so worried. Justice, my dear, come closer,” The creature begged.

“Back off demon,” I warned.

Cover blown, the demon dropped Darien’s likeness like a cloak. Instead, a five-legged slick creature bared its sharp as knives teeth and barrelled towards me.

“Wrong move.” 

Facing my palms towards the creature, I blasted it with fire as it wailed and disintegrated into ash.

“Do you think I’m going to fall for your lies? I’m coming for you Seliki!” I yelled into the abyss. 

 

Here is the excerpt after the manuscript critique. My thoughts are in blue.

Something had gone wrong. In the pitch black, shivers ran down my spine. [Okay, interesting start. You certainly launch right into the situation, which I like. I wonder, though, if there’s a way to convey that something went wrong without needing to say so. We’ll see as we continue reading.] My knees shook, as I crouched ready to spring into action. Where was everyone? [What I like about this is that it fulfills what I said a moment ago. Wondering where everyone is tells the reader that something went wrong in itself.] If I yelled I’d reveal my location [I might suggest rewording this to “I’d give myself away.” It sounds a bit less stuffy to me.] , but if I stayed quiet I might not find my friends. [I like this conflict. The same thing that would save her would also doom her.] Fear overtook me and I screamed their names.

“Darien! Moira! Tom!”  [Isn’t Darien the antagonist from the summary? I thought this was a group of her friends.]

No one answered. I inhaled each breath sharply like a stabbing dagger. [I recommend dropping the adverb. Perhaps consider “Each breath felt like a needle in my chest.”] Without light, I started to panic. [Hmm. Is there a particular light she’s looking for? Such as a flashlight or light above a doorway?] I clasped my hands in prayer and felt a burning sensation between my palms. My lips spoke the words by rote. 

“Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed by thy name…”

The burning grew stronger and I raised my hands above my head only to have fire shoot out in a plume illuminating the space around me. [Whoa. Intense. I wonder if her power is triggered when she has anxiety or when she prays. Either way, I like it.] Suddenly, I’ve become [I became] a human tiki torch. [Now this makes me think her entire body is on fire. Did it spread from her hands?] A pebble crunched underneath a foot close by. I swung my arms in the direction of possible danger and waited. Nothing. 

“Come on. Come on. What are you waiting for?” I thought. [This is completely stylistic, but I’ve found success using italics for thought instead of quotation marks. It can cut down on the confusion, as quotation marks usually indicate things spoken aloud.]

In the silence, my imagination ran wild. I kept picturing Moira tied up and Tom bleeding out with Darien hovering over them his fangs bloody. [You solidify the genre here as paranormal. Nice job. Summary aside, I thought Darien was a “good guy,” as she called for him in the beginning. That’s a little confusing.]

“No!” I screamed shaking my head. [When I think of someone shaking their head, usually the person isn’t screaming something. Usually it’s more so forlorn or muttering. Also, I tend to think of the combination of exclamation marks and screamed/yelled dialogue tags as redundant.]

“Justice!” a voice called out. [Fun name.]

“Darien, is that you?” I yelled back. 

A figure stood up from the shadows, and the closer it came he looked like Darien. [This sentence is a bit muddy. Consider “the closer it came, the more it looked like Darien.] Something was off. His face contorted and rippled as he moved. [Nicely said.] The little hairs on the back of my neck stood up and I stepped back. As he approached a sulfur smell emanated [This is a thick word. Perhaps consider “…smell filled my nose/nostrils.” Technically, she doesn’t know the smell is from him yet, unless this is third person omniscient.] from his body instead of the fresh cut pine scent I knew so well. [This reads like a pine scent coming from his body.]

“I was so worried. Justice, my dear, come closer,” The creature begged. [Creepy. Also, consider “said” here to simplify your dialogue tags.]

“Back off demon,” I warned. [This dialogue tag is redundant with what she’s saying.]

Cover blown [I don’t think the “cover blown” part is necessary, personally.], the demon dropped Darien’s likeness like a cloak. Instead, a five-legged slick creature bared its sharp as knives teeth [sharp-as-knives] and barrelled towards me.

“Wrong move.” [I’m guessing Justice said this, but Darien/the monster was the last person mentioned. Consider a dialogue tag.]

Facing my palms towards the creature, I blasted it with fire as it wailed and disintegrated into ash. [I’m guessing the reader should already know about the palm fire deal? Perhaps from a prior book? If not, I would be a bit lacking in knowledge of where the heck it came from or how it works. I wish the bit about it disintegrating was a paragraph longer. That was pretty neat.]

“Do you think I’m going to fall for your lies? I’m coming for you Seliki!” I yelled into the abyss. [Summary aside, I don’t know who this is, which confused me a little. If the reader doesn’t know about Seliki from a prior book (or even if they do), you might want to indicate who this is.]

 

I’d like to give a big thanks to the author for submitting the excerpt! If you, dear reader, would like to submit your own excerpt to be publicly critiqued for free, click here. You remain anonymous, and you get to receive feedback on your writing.

If you’re new to it, let me know what you think of this sort of post. If the response is there, I’ll continue to do these posts regularly.

If you’d like to comment on the excerpt, please be courteous, constructive, and keep the author in mind.

 

 

 

 

 

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12 thoughts on “Under the Microscope – A Raven’s Revenge”

  1. I’m so excited to see these come back!

    I am guessing the whole vision of Darien attacking his friends is one of Justice’s fears, that as they travel into hell the vampire may find it hard not to act upon his evil instincts. But as Ryan noted, this could get confusing, especially since it’s the beginning of the the story, so you might want to elaborate. Perhaps she could remind herself, and inform the reader, that Damien promised he’d be fine, that it’d been so many years since he feasted on humans, etc.

    Great start to an adventure, though. Thanks for sharing with the rest of us!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a cool series! The premise and excerpt were both intriguing. The critiquing was the constructive variety, too, not the bashing that people like to call ‘critiquing’ nowadays. Enjoyed this!

    The link isn’t working for me for some reason…is there another way I could submit a piece for critiquing? If not, no worries.

    Like

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