Braving a New Frontier- First Page Review

I’ve decided to try this, partly as a means of getting out a post this week, partly as a means of putting more writing out as always. So let me introduce an idea I found searching through other blogs called First Page Review:

“The idea is simple. Sign the linky list, linking your own blog post that contains the first page–NO MORE than the first 1,000 words of a WIP, a manuscript, or a novel, published or unpublished.
This month-long blog hop is meant to answer one simple question for each participant. After reading your first 1,000 word, would a person continue reading it?”

I had trouble deciding which work to choose from, but I went back to my classic first work, one of my earlier novels I finished, a kind of pseudo-biograpy fantasy romance loosely entitled Tale of the Rose. So I present the Prologue and a brief bit of first chapter. Read, give me thoughts, and of course post your own responses to First Page Review if you so desire. I look forward to reading other people’s works.

Untitled

Prologue

The duke waited rather impatiently outside of the room. He fiddled with his hands, playing with his fingers, as he attempted to take his mind off of things. The stillness of the hallway was haunting, and it reminded him all the more of the fear that he was feeling. His heart pounded softly, and he swallowed. For a moment he closed his eyes, breathed a deep breath of the musty air, and slowly settled down. The world around him came to a gradual stop. He was just regaining his confidence when the door opened.

“My lord.” He spun to see who was addressing him. The doctor.

“How is she?”

The man’s face was grim. He closed the door softly and came to where the duke was standing.

“Not well, I’m afraid.”

A lump settled in the duke’s throat. “What does that mean?”

“She…is…well…”

“Answers man! Give me answers!” the duke shouted.

“She will not live to see tomorrow,” the doctor whispered before lowering his head, almost in a feeling of shame.

The duke stood there, his whole world crumbling around him. He felt as though his heart was being taken from his chest. His body shook as the sense of complete helplessness set in.

“There’s nothing you can do?”

“Nothing,” the doctor answered, shaking his head. “I’m so sorry.”

“It’s not your fault,” the duke whispered as tears began to stream down his cheeks. He turned his head away feeling humiliated by his sudden overwhelming emotions. The darkness of his mood made the day blacker than before. This was a day of ending, of loss, of sorrow, of pain and above all of death.

“May I see her,” the duke mumbled.

“Of course. She would be delighted, I’m sure.”

Hesitantly he opened the door and peered in. His eyes adjusted to the brightness of the open windows. He blinked several times, trying to make out what he most wanted to see against the beautiful blue light of the sky. There upon the bed lay a woman, pale against the light sheets. However, as he stared at the obvious death that was already taking hold, her eyes sparkled.

“It’s good to see you,” she whispered.

“I wanted to come sooner, but they wouldn’t let me.”

“You needed to calm down,” she said. She smiled at him and that one motion brushed his worries away with a carelessness that startled him. Her beauty even in death was magnificent.

“You’ll get better…” he tried.

“No,” she said softly. “You know as well as I what the doctor has said. It’s my time.”

“I don’t want to lose you,” he whispered.

“But you won’t,” she said. Her eyes glittered again and he examined her, thinking on how much she had changed, and yet how she had remained the same throughout her life. Her beautiful hair was now turning silver, her face wrinkling from so many smiles, and through everything hope still shone from within her.

“You won’t lose me,” she repeated. “This is only the end of one adventure and the beginning of another.”

He opened his mouth to protest but she cut him off.

“Now, now, none of your stubbornness,” she clucked. “Now, do come be the dashing knight I know you are and sit beside me. I need you to escort me home for the final time.”

He shook his head, still trying to make sense of everything that was happening. Slowly he sat down beside her and took her lined hand. For the first time he noticed that her left arm was wrapped firmly around a book.

“What’s that?” he asked.

“Only a story. I just finished it today,” she whispered.

“Was it good?”

“It was excellent,” she laughed. “The most wonderful I’ve ever heard. Please, won’t you read it to me…so I can hear it again.”

He took the volume in his hands and slowly leafed through the pages. They were all handwritten. His eyebrows raised themselves and yet he obeyed her wishes and flipped to the first page.

“Where do you want me to start?” he asked.

“The beginning,” she whispered, settling back among the goose feather pillows.

Obediently he thumbed at the pages, skimming the first lines he was to read. With a soft exhale he cleared his throat and began to speak. Words filled the small chamber, causing a smile to flutter across the woman’s lips. Paragraphs of beautiful words flowed into the world. Lines and lines of writing came to life before the two of them. And this is the story that was woven.

Chapter 1

I stood at the window, gazing out upon the dark scene that filled my view. My brown eyes tried to take everything in, and yet they seemed unable to do so. The room lit quickly as a bolt of lightening hurtled to the earth before disappearing in front of my innocent gaze. The rumble of deep thunder echoed within the stone walls of my home, and the sound of it was that of an army storming a castle. Chaos erupted before me, and I stood there, a small speck in a vast and terrifying world.

Another flash erupted, and I trembled, feeling awed by the power of it all. Such power, such terrible and horrible power. It never occurred to me that the flash of lightening, the rumble of thunder, and the awesome terror of a storm could all be representations of the world. All pieces portraying the chaos and awful horror that was so present in every city. I was only a child, a four-year-old child, and this before me was the world I would soon know, but would never fully understand.

A crash echoed behind me. I thought it only thunder until I felt hands rest upon my small shoulders and realized the door had opened.

“Katherine,” my father murmured. I glanced up, craning my neck backwards to try to get a glimpse of the six-foot tall man who cherished me more than anyone else.

__________________________________________

1000 words are up! Hope you found it enjoyable or at least interesting. Post some constructive criticism if you’d like to!

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17 Comments

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17 responses to “Braving a New Frontier- First Page Review

  1. Very nicely done. Easy reading, When did you have me? I’d say at “I was only a child, a four-year-old child, and this before me was the world I would soon know, but would never fully understand.” By the end of the 1000 words, of course, I was wondering if the girl was the dying woman. It was intriguing that the book was handwritten.

    • It was a rather unfortunate place to stop I think. In some ways I debated ditching the prologue and just putting the first chapter…which in some ways is maybe reflective that I don’t need the prologue at all. And yes I’ll give you an answer to your guess and say yes they are one and the same. Thanks so much for feedback! It means a lot to me.

      • Sorry to repost, but for some reason my avatar does not redirect to my Word Press blog where I posted my 1000 words for the blog hop. And the Select Profile option doesn’t believe I have a blog called Impromptu Promptlings. Go figure. So here’s the link to my entry, Glencara’s Bane. I hope you’ll stop by. Thanks so much. Calen~

        http://promptlings.wordpress.com/2014/10/15/glencaras-bane/

        And as to your prologue, how crucial is it to the story that he sees her as she’s dying? Just curious.

      • I really liked what you posted! Great work.
        Well, it does at least introduce the idea that this is a finished autobiography in some ways rather than a story told in the present moment of the narrator’s story. It therefore makes it seem less ridiculous when a little girl is giving big insights in the first few chapters and makes some of the reflective hindsight like comments make sense. Not to mention it does tie in nicely with my epilogue… so I probably do want to keep it, but you’ve made me rethink it a bit so that was very helpful, thanks!

  2. I like it – definitely calls for a page-turn! My only comment would be that in some places you describe feelings through “telling,” even though you’ve already depicted them through “showing.” For example, “He turned his head away, feeling humiliated” and “I trembled, feeling awed.” You’ve done a nice job with the showing, but I think it might be stronger if you emphasized that aspect more strongly and were able to omit the “feeling” phrases. Just a thought! 🙂

    • Thanks! this is unfortunately some of my earlier writing so I definitely do a little more of the telling than showing which I know I’ll need to edit out. I would have before posting but new my 1000 words was already tight as it was! Thanks for your feedback though. I’ll definitely work on that, maybe post an edited edition at some point.

  3. I really liked this- the strong sense of sadness in the prologue and then the mystery of the authorship of the handwritten book. It’s very intriguing that it begins through a four-year-old’s eyes. You’ve also captured a bit of that 19th century style-maybe a bit of George Eliot or Elizabeth Gaskell?- it certainly creates a strong sense of time and place.

    Otherwise, I would echo the poster above about the showing vs. telling, and there was one little bit that confused me, where it seemed you briefly dipped into the doctor’s pov before returning to the duke:
    “She will not live to see tomorrow,” the doctor whispered before lowering his head, almost in a feeling of shame.’
    It suddenly moves away from what the duke is observing, to what the doctor is feeling, if that makes any sense?

    Those are just nit-picky things though. Your style and voice are strong and I really loved the emotion and description you’ve brought to this. Nice work!

  4. that’s cool! love the premise set up in the prologue and I definitely want to keep reading, intrigued by Catherine’s story. 🙂

  5. Such beautiful writing. I also adore the picture you’ve chosen to accompany this piece; the roses look so sweet. :3

  6. Very nice! Reminds me of one of the Elizabeth movies. So dramatic, this needs to go on the big screen. Oh, I feel like you made my heart stop. Love it.

  7. *Hooked* Great premise, and your prose is beautiful! It’s a bittersweet tale, I guess.

    My favorite part is your description of her as the dying woman: “Her beautiful hair was now turning silver, her face wrinkling from so many smiles, and through everything hope still shone from within her.” I am immediately drawn to her. Nicely done!

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