Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Feedback Request


The author of the book featured here would like your opinion of this revision of the opening.


Through cracks in the stone, it [What is "it"?] shines like a full moon drenched in blood. [That would take a lot of blood.] [If something is glowing behind cracks, it's more likely to remind you of lightning bolts than a full moon. In fact, if all you see is the light coming through the cracks, it could be a half moon or a sun or a light bulb.] Another strike from my pickaxe exposes the precious crystal. When I pry it loose, it pops out and bounces near the chasm beside the mineshaft.

I dive for the crystal and catch it. I look down. A shiver jolts up my spine, numbing my body with a frozen wave of fear. I’m on the edge of a bottomless pit. [Not crazy about a mineshaft, a chasm and a bottomless pit. Presumably the mineshaft is above, and you came down it to get here, and the chasm is below. And the pit is . . . the chasm?] Helplessly I watch as a chunk of dirt falls until the darkness below consumes it. ["Helplessly" would make more sense if the crystal were falling. He may be helpless to prevent the dirt from falling, but I doubt he cares.]  Regaining control of my body, I squirm back, inch by inch, before sinking into the sand and taking a deep sigh. I hate heights. [I would expect a mine to be mostly rock, not sand, especially not in enough quantity to sink into.] 

I open my hand and find the crystal cradled in my palm. Unlike diamonds that sparkle in the sunlight, it glows with an unnatural brilliance even here in the darkness. [If this guy's experience with diamonds is from mining them, the ones he's seen probably didn't sparkle much more than a standard rock.] We slaves don’t know why our master wants us to collect them, but these crystals are as precious to us as water. 

A forceful tug on my back pulls me up to my feet. It’s my mining partner, RN107. With thick eyebrows and a rigid jaw, he’s got an intimidating face. Like the feathers that fall from a vulture, his hair and beard have faded to a dark gray. [A simile should make something more clear. Hair faded to gray is already clear enough, and even if it weren't, your readers probably haven't seen fallen vulture feathers.]


Notes

I'm not sure how much light there is in this mine; you don't want to be describing things you wouldn't see in the darkness. Do they have a light source?

Here's what I would do with this, just to tighten it up:

A blood-red crystal shines through cracks in the mine wall. One more strike from my pickaxe, and it pops out. I dive and grab it . . . and find myself looking into a bottomless chasm. A few pebbles fall, the darkness below consuming them. I squirm back from the edge, inch by inch, then sigh deeply. I hate heights.

I open my hand. The crystal glows with an unnatural brilliance even here in the darkness. We slaves don’t know why our master wants us to collect them, but these crystals are as precious to us as water. 

A forceful tug on my back pulls me to my feet. It’s my partner, RN107. With thick eyebrows and a rigid jaw, he’s got an intimidating face, even now that his hair and beard have faded to gray.

I took out about 70 words; if I took some you need, put them back.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Is this the narrator's first day on the job? Even if it is, I find it odd that he seems to be unaware of a seemingly bottomless pit that exists only a few feet from where he's working. If he is aware of it, I would expect his thoughts going to saving the crystal from falling down it before/as he dives.

Comparison to a moon drenched in blood doesn't work for me. Also, I don't think of moonlight (especially not if it's dimmed by blood) as being a bright light. A better comparison might be to bloody sunset/sunrise colors shining through a forest/between mountains/whatever makes sense for the setting.

If there's enough sand on the floor (for whatever reason) for the narrator to sink into it, the crystal isn't going to bounce much. Is there a reason there's sand on the floor?

Saying he "finds" the crystal in his hand makes it sound like he's unaware it's there. Can't he feel it?

I don't know how precious water is to the narrator, ergo that comparison of value doesn't have any meaning.

The back is on awkward place to grab. It's too broad for convenient gripping surfaces. What is actually getting pulled on? His shoulder? Shirt? Jacket? Belt? Some kind of harness?

Is RN107 human? My first guess would be no since all I have is an abnormal name(?) and a confusing comparison with feathers.

Anonymous said...

There's way too much description here and it gets in the way of the action. Try it again with no adjectives.

AA said...

Try this: “Through cracks in stone, it glows like the embers of a dying fire.”

Anyway, your voice is all over the place. I can't tell if this is supposed to be somber, adventurous or anxiety-inducing.

Use your opening to set the mood. Is it a feeling of hard labor, fear of not performing up to standards, or of the awe of finding these precious stones?