Highly Caffeinated and Ready Editor: Victoria
Working Title: The Underground Prince
History: First Submission
One moment I am laughing with my father. The next thing I know, the castle I call home is a war zone.
Father tells me to go into my room and lock the door until he says it is safe. Right after he says that, he runs down the hall with my uncle towards the armory. Reluctantly, I obey my father’s orders and run towards my room. Knights and guards run past me towards the battle. Servants and other castle workers scatter in all directions. Some carry bed sheets or baskets of food, since they were trying to prepare supper before this happened. A few tell me to get to my quarters before I am killed, either by the enemy, or my father.
As I round a corner, I hear bits and pieces of news about the battle. “The Galbactians have attacked!” “They’ve come back with a vengeance this time ‘round!” “They’re gaining ground fast, they’ve already breeched the inner walls!” The one that gets me the most is, “We’re losing men faster than we can replenish them!” When I hear this, I stop running. I pause long enough to figure out what the most direct route to the armory is without being detected by my father. After a moment, I decide to take one of my many shortcuts. No one else knows about it but me, so I know I can get there undetected. I am only 13, but I am a good swordsman, and my father needs me.
One moment I am laughing with my father. The next thing I know, the castle I call home is a war zone.Father tells me to go into my room and lock the door until he says it is safe. I can hear in his voice that he’s scared but trying to hide it, so I hide my own fear and stand a little straighter. Right after I agree, father runs down the hall with my uncle towards the armory. I obey my father’s orders and run towards my room, excitement in my veins that there’s actual fighting going on, but also fear. Fear of what might happen. Knights and guards are blurred shadows as they hurry past me. Servants and other castle workers scatter in all directions. Some carry bed sheets or baskets of food, since they were trying to prepare supper beforehand. One slams against the old tapestry in the dining hall, and it moves uneasily. As I run past, a few servants tell me to get to my quarters before I am killed, either by the enemy or my father, because I’m “too young to be so close to the fighting.”As I round another corner, boots sliding on the slick rock, I hear bits and pieces of news about the battle. “The Galbactians have attacked!” “They’ve come back with a vengeance this time ‘round!” “They’re gaining ground fast, they’ve already breached the inner walls!” There’s one bit though that makes my heart stop.
Strong Points -
You already know a lot of these, so this will be a bit more brief this time. I still like that we are put right into the action, and I noticed that you took my advice and added some more small details about the castle here and there. Awesome! You did pretty good with that. Instead of dumping a lot of visuals on me and slowing down your pace, you injected them here and there, and that helped.
Some Tips -
So, my previous critiques were that you needed to plump this piece up, and I still have that feeling. I think the main problem is that you've moved so fast through all of these events that they come off as just a summary. I don't feel as if I'm experiencing these events with this boy, more like he's telling me about it. There is an air of distance that keeps me from really immersing myself in this story with him.
So let's look a little more in depth at things that can fix that.
First, a huge one that every writer runs across at least ten bagillion times in their work is showing vs. telling. I did bring this up last time, but I think it would benefit you and a lot of people reading this to look at it a bit more. What this means is I want you to crack down on writing stuff like "I can hear in his voice that he's scared."
How? What does fear sound like in a king's voice? Show me, don't just tell me that he's afraid. Does his voice quiver? Does it get uncharacteristically low or soft? I don't know. 'Scared' is a vague and sort of empty word, because I can imagine what it's like to be scared. Everyone can. But fear feels different for everyone, and looks different on their faces, and sounds different in their voices. 'Excitement' is just the same. You almost have to pretend I don't know what it's like to be excited and describe how it manifests in your character, just to give me an idea.
In a lot of ways you've only told me that your MC is doing what he is, and not showing me. I'm not there with him.
WriteWorld answered a question on showing vs. telling here and wrote a whole post on tips about it here. At the bottom they included extra links as well, in case you need additional help and reading.
The other problem I think that is contributing to the summary-like feeling of your intro is that you don't stay in the moment. I know you want this to be a fast pace, however, I think you're going a little too fast. What does your MC think when he hears his father is scared? Is it instinctive to obey? You need to stay in these important parts for a little longer instead of rushing through them.
Let's look at it this way. You've chosen to write in first person POV, which is awesome. I love first person. It is the best tool for getting inside of a character's head and being right in step with them every part of their journey. I think that might be a tool that you need a little more practice with so that you can learn to utilize it and make this story its best possible self. There is a lot of distance between your character and his actions, and that leads to it reading like a summary.
So close that distance. Don't brush over things. Get in there, describe the moments between your MC and his father and uncle, describe what it's like to turn away into the chaos of the castle and what it's like to squeeze between the bustling servants. Try writing out everything and then shave some off if you need to. Another suggestion is reading. Read from first person, even from third person, look at the differences, look at how authors stay in the moment. Look at when the authors keep you right there beside the character, and then when they decide just to summarize other goings on.
Also! I get why you were a little wary of sending one less sentence, but to be fair, I cut out the last sentence just to keep it at 250 or less words. That final sentence is in your original, so it can be seen in the original for any who are curious.
Would I keep reading?
I don't really feel ready to answer that question for you, because I want to give you the benefit of the doubt and see what you can do. So! I will wait for you to resubmit and I really, really hope you do! <3 <3