We are the Knights (that’s pronounced phonetically - cuh-nig-its - as of the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail) Who Say Cyclic, a group of High School students, all of whom attended 6thgrade at Challenger School. At Challenger, we each gained not only a respect of the English language but also the want to change the world. Our noble mission is to improve America, one step at a time – primarily by improving the U.S.’s tongue and correcting false ideas about how its government functions. To learn more, please visit our website at www.cuhnigits.org.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Story Excerpts, With Holes, As Requested

Okee-dokee. This is really jumpy, and screwy. What I did was I copied some parts of my story that seemed especially messed up. Text highlighted in red is the stuff I don't like, blue is posing questions for me to answer and expounding on the red text's lack of fluency. The whole story is littered with these comments, so if you want more, that is NOT a problem. And again, it's jumpy and there are missing parts in-between, so if anything about the plot or characters isn't clear, just ask in the comments of this post. Thank you for whatever you comment, and please critique (and criticize - I really need help!) everything that pops into your head. =)
Princes Lewis and Connor mourned for the death of their mother, and Prince Joshua grieved over the loss of both parents, but neither pain was as great as Benjamin’s. He blamed himself with a good reason, too. After all, it was he who had angered Maria so much as to go off and kill as many people connected to him as possible. He clearly remembered the words Maria had spoken, when she had taken him from the banquet hall where they had been dining and into an adjoining chamber-
Have you no respect? You wouldn’t last one minute in the outside world, you fool. Sometime, you will learn that everything has a consequence. For example, the comment you made just now, during supper.” She had paused maliciously, in mock consideration. “I believe it means that you deserve a fate worse than death… how would you like to see all your friends die around you, before you yourself are murdered? His heart had felt as if someone had dipped a paintbrush into scalding hot water, then pulled his thumb over the top of it, spraying a vicious rain of drops into Ben’s core. 
* Too wordy, not terribly clear either. Rephrase.
She didn’t really mean that, did she? All for a joking remark at the supper table… And he could have sworn he’d seen her eyes glow red before she turned and marched off. Ben decided he must leave the area for his own safety from Maria, and also because he wanted to avoid his friends.
* Who have just been condemned to die at the hand of Maria Thornway? I don’t think so…
Surely they would never forgive him for as long as he lived! He would probably never forgive himself, at any rate. But where could he go? Suddenly he had remembered a cousin Joshua had spoken of in a distant kingdom… was it called Thrwren? He would go there.
Heart hammering in her chest, Katie made her way slowly down the stone spiral staircase. When a servant opened the door into the vast ballroom, every one of the seventeen princes bowed deeply to her. She curtsied in return, and the small band at the back of the room started a fast song for the tango.
* Really? 1800s + tango?
 The first prince held out his hand and he and Katie swept out onto the dance floor. He introduced himself as Prince Timothy, and Katie learned that he shared many of her likes and dislikes. She enjoyed the dance with him, and when the song ended she was smiling. Her spirits somewhat higher than they had been an hour ago, she went to dance with the next prince, but to her immense disappointment, found him clumsy and distant. The next few princes were all like him. There were some that seemed pleasant, yet none really touched her heart. After an hour or so,
* Again, terribly abrupt. Add more details of the other princes, and esp. Timothy
Katie had danced with every prince except Zachary. He held out his hand, and Katie cautiously took it.
“This castle is too small,” he remarked once they had begun to dance. “And it’s too airy.” Katie fumed. This castle was quite large, and it wasn’t airy at all – the few windows there were actually were hardly ever opened, and when they were it was just for a little while. Katie wished that the castle was airy, though, because she liked the feel of a breeze lifting her hair and the ways that sunlight could make a small room like her own seem larger and happier.
Prince Zachary continued. “My castle is much more closed in. There are just a couple windows and they’re always closed, no exceptions. And my castle is gargantuan; there are hundreds of rooms, all the size of this one. Oh, and did I mention that you look terrible in purple? The seamstresses from my castle can fix that up, though. What about pastel yellow? That would be-”
“Er… actually-” Katie started, but Zachary ignored her and plowed on.
“Once you move into my castle-”
“I’m sorry,” Katie said, trying to keep anger and impatience out of her voice, “but I don’t think I want to marry you.”  
“Look, Katelyn, I don’t want to marry you either. Neither of us has any choice; it’s just connecting kingdoms by marriage.” He frowned, but persisted, “We can’t change that.”
“Yes, we can,” Katie said desperately. “If we both stand up to our parents, they won’t have any choice! Why are you siding with them? You can get out of marrying me, if you stand up to them!”
“I…” he hesitated, looking distressed, “I can’t do that, Kate.”
* Expand this scene!
She glared silently.
Neither talked for the rest of the song. When it was over, Katie left without thanking him for the dance and sat on a bench by the wall. After a few minutes that seemed like hours, Joshua came over and sat next to Katie. She had been trying not to cry, but a few tears had made their way down her cheeks. Joshua took out a handkerchief and handed it to her. She mopped her wet eyes, grateful for her beloved cousin’s company. 
* Or Timothy?  Anyway, reword that passage, seems unnatural.
“I was not aware that you didn’t know the purpose of this ball,” he began gently. “Your mother made Zachary seem like the best choice, and hoped you yourself would choose him, so that she would not have to explain to you that you were marring him, no matter what you decided. She may be crafty, but her plan didn’t work this time, did it?”
“No, Josh, you’re wrong.” Katie said with an uncharacteristic bitterness. “It did work; I will have to marry Zachary. Well, no, I didn’t choose him, and in that sense you were right, but it doesn’t matter. There’s no way to get out of it.” Tears were trickling down her cheeks again. Josh placed his arm around her shoulder. Slightly comforted, she took a deep breath and cleared her thoughts. What could she do? Zachary was a coward and her mother was more powerful than anyone else she knew…


  1. Yeah, that tango bit could use some tweaking. I definitely know what you mean with the awkwardness of flash forwards and flash backs. It all seems so natural when you're reading, but writing it well is so frustrating!

  2. Yes, so true. Scouring it line by line has helped tremendously, though. Trying to read it like an outsider is VERY valuable, but also extremely difficult. Which is why I need some more outsiders to read it.
    Any ideas for clarifying some of the specifics? Any particular bits of the red and blue text especially, I would appreciate. =)
    Anyone else, in addition to Laga, care to add anything?

  3. And, P.S., Happy President's Day. Kudos to Lincoln and Washington. And all those other presidents. I don't think I could name them all... Anyone remember the song from our 4th grade spring program?

  4. COLORS!
    Baldr, god of colors

  5. dang, on that comment I accidentally typed "bladder" whoops.

  6. My main suggestion would be to make the story flow more smoothly- it seems a bit awkward as it is. While the storyline is great, I think adding more detail (about the room, music, how Katie was feeling, what Zachary/Timothy/everyone else looks like) would draw the reader in more.