Friday, June 4, 2010

Mini Workshop: Day 4

Last day! It has been so fun reading your work. Thank you, Monica, Adam, and Rivkie for participating, and for all those who offered their comments. Shall we do this again sometime? I'm up for it if you guys are. (Also, Monica has sent me a new draft of her intro, so please go check it out. I should have it up shortly.)

And's my turn to post an excerpt.

I'm pretty nervous about this. It's been a long time since I posted any of my actual writing from my vast array of WIPs. But I wanted to give you guys a chance to do your own full crits on something, and I didn't want to put that on a random person's work.

So, I better stop delaying this...*gulp*

This is from Spork, what Kiersten called "the illegitimate child of fantasy and steampunk." (Which still makes me giggle.)

If we didn’t have the same dark hair, purple eyes, and tan skin, I would have pawned my brother off as a very distant cousin. Maybe an orphan my parents took in. Anything but my older brother. He was supposed to be the responsible one, not the one dreaming of far off lands and fairytales.

“C’mon, Gil, come with me.” Adair sat on the counter in the storage room as I stacked cooling bowls. That was always how it was. Me doing the work—him watching with his permanent smile.


“Why not? Don’t you want to get out of Mont Dupré for once?” He hopped off the counter and grabbed me by the shoulders, like this was some kind of life and death situation. “Think what you could do with Nero. If we found the rebels, you could single-handedly free the country!”

I sighed. Why did he have to be there the first time I tested Nero? The metagun was my best work, but even now as it rested against my chest, I wished I’d never made the thing.

“You know The Guild is neutral, and you know we don’t sell metaguns to the armies. If I use Nero in ally with anyone—rebels included—they’ll revoke our membership,” I said.

Adair stepped back. “Fine. Point taken.”

I resumed my work, and Adair resumed doing nothing. “Besides, Dad would never let you go.”

“Who said I was going to ask?”

“You’re his apprentice—he could put out a warrant for your arrest if you ran.” I caught a flicker of déjà vu. We’d been through this exact conversation every month for the last three or four years.

It was Adair’s turn to sigh. “Mon dieu, I hate sitting around here doing nothing.”

“Then inventory the lightning orbs like you’re supposed to.” I pulled out the bowls Dad wanted stocked.

“No, not that kind of nothing.” He laughed. I wasn’t sure why; I didn’t think it was very funny. After fifteen years, I was sick of the dead weight, of the idea that he would inherit the Metaforge I cared about. “Haven’t you ever wanted to do something more than metaforging? Haven’t you ever wanted to matter?”

“We’re metaforgers—we do matter.” Without us, people couldn’t heat and cool their food without chopping wood and hauling ice. They couldn’t light their houses. The armies wouldn’t get their best weapons.

Adair shook his head, his smile shrinking just slightly. “You don’t get it.”

“Nope, and I don’t care to.”

“I want to change the world, Gil. Not just sit around watching wars break out my whole life.” He finally got off his butt and grabbed a crate of orbs. When he pulled the lid off, the mini bolts of lightning glowed bright white, making the hand blown glass glitter.

I squinted. “The world doesn’t change.”

Adair put a black cloth over an orb, and the room dimmed. Then he did the next, and the next. He was mad at me—he’d be talking otherwise. When he finished that box, he opened the next and the room went white again. “I think it can.”


  1. You have officially disappointed my Red Pen of Doom (Doooooooooooooom!) It may never be the same again.

    I loved this. The voice rocked. The action and characters were clear. There are only 2 things I could even mention, and I'm not sure they'd count as crits.

    1. Me doing the work—him watching with his permanent smile.

    IMO, "permanent" throws the auditory rhythm off. I'd change it to "perma-smile"

    2. I pulled out the bowls Dad wanted stocked.

    Not even a crit, just a question. Is this supposed to be "stocked" or "stacked"? For some reason, my brain refuses to accept the "o" in that word.

    Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go put my RPofD on suicide watch lest it jump into the sharpener when I'm not looking.

  2. Natalie, I'm being SUPER nitpicky here because I know you are at that level already.

    Thoughts as I go:
    - Don't need to italicize "older"
    - Don't need "come with me" (redundant to "C'mon")
    - What are cooling bowls? Do you need "cooling"?
    - "him watching with a smile"?
    - "in alliance with"?
    - Don't need "Point taken."
    - "Mon dieu" struck me as odd/forced...
    - "--at least not without chopping wood and hauling ice"?
    - Something about "The armies wouldn't get their best weapons" felt... off, not completely parallel, not completely smooth
    - Don't need "my whole life"

    Bigger picture thoughts after reading:
    - Love the voice, love the way you set EVERYTHING up so quickly and clearly, love the brotherly love-but-also-tension
    - I admire Adair's idealism but I can understand Gil's annoyance at the same time
    - Obviously Gil's going to change throughout this story, and I am dying to see how/why
    - You've hinted at a very fascinating world and I totally want to see more of it
    - Great dialogue

    So overall, you rock. I can haz more Spork pls? :D

  3. First off, I think you know how badly I want to read this (and if you didn't, you do now). I love every tidbit I get from Gil and Adair.

    I love Gil's character in this. You did a great job showing him as the hard worker/jealous younger brother (hm, now that I think about it, there's some Prodigal Son echoes in this).

    I felt like some of the dialog was a bit "As you know, Bob." Meaning it sounded like Gil and Adair were speaking for my benefit, not because they would have actually said those things. The biggest culprit for me was the "You know The Guild is neutral..." line.

    Some of the ASYB lines are easy fixes. Example: “Then inventory the lightning orbs like you’re supposed to.” I pulled out the bowls Dad wanted stocked. Can be changed to: "Then do your job." I pulled out the bowls Dad wanted Adair to inventory.

    Others are harder, mostly because this is the reader's first look at the world and you need to give them some info right away so they get it. I don't have easy examples to fix those :-)

    But the spot where I went "Woah. I want more!" was in the last 3 lines of dialog. I felt closer to the characters there than at any other point in the passage.

    Technically Adair's desire to change the world is kind of a fantasy cliche, but I didn't notice. And even if I did, Gil's next line -- "The world doesn't change" -- has got to be the most interesting brother conflict I know. MORE! WANT!

  4. Ooo, excellent points! Thanks guys! Adam, you little fantasy pro:P If I ever get to this book, I don't think I'll ever forget your advice:)

  5. I don't really like the "meta" words. At least, it's such a lipsmacker when I have to read the word too often.

    It is true that "changing the world" is a bit strange. It almost sounds too altruistic for Adair. I think Adair would want to "matter" in a fame sort of way. But if he is altruistic, I think he would want to make a difference. At the very least he doesn't want to be constrained to a forge, and wants to experience outside.

    I think "stock" is appropriate, because the cooling bowls are a commodity that the forgers have to make a lot of. But they could be stacking them at the same time.

    Adam brings up a good point. I think you could deepen the "dead horse" argument that Adair and Gil have obviously had many times, by Gil just saying "You know why". Plus, it would put off some of the infodump to later, and make tension since Gil just wants Adair to shut his mouth and get back to work.

  6. We definitely should do another Writer's Workshop. I think I'll do one too, on my blog ;)

  7. I'm not really a fan of the very first line-- purple eyes and the same-looks-different-personalities-and-adoption-theorizing siblings are both done to death, plus you passed up a prime opportunity to use "swarthy"-- but oh my goodness, the rest is fantastic, especially the ending bit.

    I also had to stop after the first couple paragraphs to try to reconcile "he was supposed to be the responsible one" with "this is how it always was" with Gil working and Adair watching. I assume he's talking about how older brothers in general are supposed to be responsible and Adair isn't, but I (initially) took it as characterization and that there was something extra unusual going on if only Gil was working. I think that if you somehow specified that Adair should be the responsible one because he is the older brother it might clear up the confusion and help set the scene for a land that won't let Gil inherit the Metaforge.

    I actually rather liked the "mon dieu" in an idealistic, affected way from Adair, and if that's how you intended it, great! If not, be aware of that, I guess?

    Ooh, and how Josin mentioned changing "permanent smile" to "perma-smile"-- I was trying to decide whether I thought "mini" might work better as "miniature", but the abbreviation works with your tone, sort of, and if you had both as abbreviations it might add... tonal continuity, you might say. Just a thought.

  8. I've heard so much about Spork from your blog, it was fun to finally read it. What an original world you've created. I got a little thrown off by the reference to de ja vu, which is a feeling something has happened before without really knowing when that previous occurrence happened or what it even was. You follow up with the specific circumstances of the repeat occurrences. Does that make sense? And does occurrence have two 'r's?' (I'm looking forward to reading all your crits on my pages.)

  9. Tara, I see what you're saying. I will have to think on it. I've never been 100% in love with the opening paragraph, but never sure about what to replace it with, you know?

    Jessie, ah, YES. Excellent little catch there:) Sorry I have been so slow...I swear it will be soon. I think someone stole my time. Oh wait, it was Ninja Girl and Dino Boy.

  10. Take your time. I'm just excited for your excellent advice is all. And, I know all about those adorable little distractions that maybe aren't so adorable all the time.

  11. I don't have anything to add really except to say you completely hooked me with the lines: "The world doesn't change." and "I think it can."

  12. In 500? words you've managed to paint an informative picture of who Adair and Gil are.

    They work for their father- they're metaforgers- members of a Guild- in a war-torn society. Gil seems content to do his job without giving it too much thought. Adair wants to change the path things are taken and is therefore nonchalant about what he should be doing.


    Time for me to slink back to my WIP in tears :(

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