They burned Master Harim’s body at dusk. I watched, hidden, my body wedged into a wide crack of the decaying yellow wall. Consul Dalric told me to stay put; Scholari were not allowed out after dark. But I had to come. I had to see.
I am to blame.
If the Masters discovered that a twelve-year old student – and a girl, no less – was to blame, then they would send me away from the Halo and away from the Academy forever.
My past reared its ugly head and a shudder cut my thoughts short. I recalled so few pleasant memories of before and none as pleasant as after.
This is my home. I will never go back. I will die first!
My stomach fluttered. Eleven dark-robed masters might tell me otherwise.
My ped slipped on a geo-lumpi, and peblie rained down, giving away my hiding spot.
Consul Dalric turned and saw me. Then, he raised one skeletal, black-robed arm, pointed his finger and screamed: “Scholari outa da dormitori!”
I fell at his feet, begging him not to send me away from Halo. He responded: “Your stomachi non flutteri, young Scholari. Thiso waso noto youro faulto, and weo know thato.”
But, then he added: “Deus Ex Machina!” And a large mechanical bird swept down, grabbing me in its talons—cutting short my pleasant memories of after.
Opening: Pam LaFollette.....Continuation: Dixon Hill
Ah, we meet Mira!
Hm, the writing's not bad. Not bad at all. If the query was a good reflection of the manuscript, then the plot and the philosophical underpinnings need tons of work, but the opening seems fine. A few cliches-- reared its ugly head being the worst-- and a little too heavy on backstory, but that's easy to fix.
Pam, if you're not familiar with the Turkey City Lexicon, google it and read it. Scholari is an example of what that venerable document terms "calling a rabbit a smeerp".
My past, the creature assigned to me at the Academy was so hideous I fluttered when I looked at his rearing head. The eleven masters warned me flutter preceeded flatulence. Being wedged between a rock and a hard place presented a problem at Harim's burial. I didn't want to blow the lid off the cremation. My past would die with me if I did.
I took out one of those strong Turkish cigarettes, the ones I blagged from the Gym teacher, and put it between the lips. I thought the heavy smoke would hide the stench of burning flesh, and quiet the butterflies deep in my gut.
But then I remembered: I'd lent my Zippo lighter to someone else.
But only if they found out that a girl--and a girl with pigtails, no less--had finally put a stop to Harim's predation among the Scholari, and that they might be next.
Besides, he had it coming. If he hadn't kissed that total slutwhore Ahleah in front of me, he might still be alive.
ps-- if you do read the TCL, and I hope you will, take note of squid in the mouth too. With regard to the whole Hero/Strong Man/Woman thing.
P1: I would change "Consul Dalric told me to stay put" to Consul Dalric had told me to stay in my room. As it is, it could be interpreted that she was told to stay put in the crack of the wall.
P3: In attempting to work in the info that the narrator is a 12-year-old girl, you may be implying that they wouldn't send home a 14-year-old boy if he were to blame. If pretty much any student would be sent home for this, I'd change the paragraph to: If the Masters knew/found out, they would send me away from the Halo and away from the Academy forever.
Opportunities to show her age and gender will present themselves soon enough.
P4: I can't be sure whether before and after refer to coming to the Academy or to the event she's to blame for. Maybe this paragraph isn't needed at all.
Why do you keep switching from present to past tense? Will readers will soon realize there's a good reason for that? Generally it seems to work best to choose one or the other. It seems like you couldn't stick to the pov of the 12 year old because you wanted to supply lots of info she can't know until later and give a running commentary from a more mature perspective. Occasionally switching from one voice to the other for clear reasons could work but the lack of continuity here seems indecisive and is not helping the flow of your narrative.
My first thoughts when I read this was that you are trying too hard to get information to the reader. Let the reader get into this scene and bring in the past bit by bit.
This wasn't bad.
If it's dawn then why does it matter if Scholari are not allowed after dark?
how about "I slipped out before dawn to be here." You can slip in the sun is rising in a moment."
I stumbled over this sentence, "I recalled so few pleasant memories of before and none as pleasant as after."
I'm not sure what this means. I think when you open a book and are just being introduced to a story and an author, the story needs to be easy but enticing. Our relationship is not strong enough yet to make things difficult or vague.
Later in the book, I may want to puzzle this out or just skip over it but not this soon in our relationship.
Surely the narrator knew Scholari weren't allowed out after dark from day one. So why's it in here? Oh, yes, for the reader's benefit.
Cut it. We don't need to know that now--I'm not sure we need to know it ever. She's not supposed to be there. That's what matters.
It strikes me that if she's one of the first girls to attend, or if there's been a big fuss about girls being allowed in, or if the status of girls is somehow under threat, then the fact that the person who caused Harim's death is a girl would be relevant. Otherwise, meh.
But that sentence doesn't make much sense anyway. Would a boy be patted on the head and allowed to stay if he caused a Master's death? If she were eleven or thirteen, would she be allowed to stay? You're trying to give too much backstory in that sentence and it's deforming the message you want to convey: if they knew she had caused Harim's death, she'd be sent away.
Leave the backstory for now. Set up the conflict. She caused Harim's death (or thinks she did) and she's terrified she'll be expelled.
Many thanks for taking the time to review, comment, and suggest improvements.
Alaska, I did check out the lexicon - thanks for the info and LOL on "squid in the mouth." (And the alternate ending was a lot funnier afterwards, too.)
The story is a work in progress. Perhaps it will finish with a little more polish now that I've met you fine folks.
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