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Reaping of the Wicked
Draft of Prologue - "Something wicked this way comes"
[Update] Minor edit of grammatical errors.
[Update 2] Major edit of grammatical and style errors. Improved readability. Renamed from Chapter I to Prologue.
[Update 3] Moved some conversations to a new line, where it was difficult to differentiate the speaker.
[Update 4] Edited some sentences and made them sound better. Took some other review advices and saw them put in action.
[Update 5] Edited more grammatical and styling errors based on the critique. And a few that were not made so obvious, as well. Hopefully this is one of the last grammatical edits of the prologue. I feel silly making so many corrections.
Chapter I ->
The first sentence of your story opens as such: "If magic is unnatural, causes disturbances in the world’s balance, opens doors for the creatures of the dark and is nearly impossible to control– then it must be evil."
While it's just a suggestion, I recommend using the rule of threes here to make your list stronger and the flow easier for the reader to follow. The rule of threes, if you aren't sure of what it is, is the rule for lists where a writer only uses three articles in the list for rhythm purposes and for the writing to move smoothly. In this case, the "unnatural" part I believe is the part that should be removed, but that's just my opinion. Here's an example of the rule of threes used, with the part I mentioned removed (though any section can be, as well):
If magic causes disturbances in the world’s balance, opens doors for the creatures of the dark and is nearly impossible to control– then it must be evil.
See the difference in flow?
In the next sentence: "However if the same magic is used to heal the injured and ill, create water where there is none and protect the weak– does this serve as a justification to its existence?"
Here, you use the rule of threes, and the flow of your writing is much smoother. In this instance, I certainly recommend that you use the rule of threes above, to balance this out. If you have the "dark" magic with three qualities and the "good" magic with three qualities, it makes your writing smoother and acts like a mirror. The only correction with this sentence that needs to be done is a comma placed after "However". Apart from that, it's a good, strong sentence.
"Little did they know, that all it really took to put an end to their debate was one little girl and a lucky coincidence." The first comma in this sentence after "know" can be taken out.
"The girl’s name has gotten lost in the tides of time or perhaps it never existed to begin with."
In this sentence, there is a tense shift from the rest of the piece. You use "has" here (present tense) when it should be "had" to fit in with the past tense of the rest of your chapter.
"The name she used belonged to another entity entirely, one she had met at the age of six or five back when she did not yet know about right and wrong."
You say "six or five" here. Start with the lower age/number first with lists. This should read "five or six".
"Many scholars now and then have pondered over that, yet came no closer to the conclusion. Little did they know, that all it really took to put an end to their debate, was one little girl and a lucky coincidence.
The girl’s name has gotten lost in the tides of time or perhaps it never existed to begin with. The name she used belonged to another entity entirely, one she had met at the age of six or five back when she did not yet know about right and wrong."
I know I mentioned these paragraphs already by breaking them up into sentences to look at, but these two are very closely related and could serve well as one paragraph to avoid having a bunch of smaller ones. A lot of the beginning of this chapter is comprised of paragraphs that only last a few short sentences. You want to have variation in the length of your paragraphs, and this is a good way to do it.
In the paragraph describing the girl's imaginary friends: "Grey little mouse was a guard to that fort, as it could grow hundred times its size, if it wanted. "
"A" should be used at the start of this sentence so it reads: "A grey mouse..." There also should be a number attached to "hundred". How many hundreds of times its size can it grow? One? Two? Make sure to put a number before the "hundred" here.
"“Do you know of magic?” he asked and she nodded excitedly. Of course, she knew about magic. Her invisible friends loved to talk about it, at least those who could talk. When ever the other children called her a witch, her nighttime friends did the explaining."
After "...she nodded excitedly.", the following sentences should be a new paragraph, as they aren't continuing with what the boy has to say or his actions.
"“No,” he shook his head, “That’s just something ignorant people call you. They do not understand your true talent.”"
Since "he shook his head" is a complete thought, the punctuation here should be reworked. When you have an incomplete thought (such as "he said"), you can leave it how you have it written (no periods and no capitals), but when it's a complete thought, it needs to be treated like its own sentence. Here's how this sentence should be properly written:
“No.” He shook his head, “That’s just something ignorant people call you. They do not understand your true talent.”
"But they say I can see dead people, so I’m a witch,” she saddened and lowered her gaze."
Just like in the last example I gave, this sentence is a complete thought after the dialogue comma; therefore, it should read like the example above:
"But they say I can see dead people, so I'm a witch." She saddened and lowered her gaze.
The same is of this sentence: "“Then you are not a witch. Also witches cannot see dead people,” he smiled."
"Then you are not a witch. Also, witches cannot see dead people." He smiled.
*A comma should also be included after "Also" there, which I added in the edited version, but thought I would leave a comment about just so you saw it.
And again here: "“I don’t want to become a giant!” she looked at the mouse horrified."
"I don't want to become a giant!" She looked at the mouse horrified.
And here: "“No? I thought not. Perhaps something more graceful,” he snapped his fingers. The colourful bird burst into flames and then quickly rose again from its own ashes."
"No? I thought not. Perhaps something more graceful." He snapped his fingers. The colourful bird burst into flames and then quickly rose from its own ashes.
And again here: "“No, that looks painful!” she shivered, “I don’t like this game!”"
"No, that looks painful!" She shivered. "I don't like this game!"
And here: "“A witch? I thought–,” he looked at her and furrowed his brows."
Also in this sentence, there needs to only be one form of punctuation before the closing quotation marks (either the dash or the comma). In this instance, just the dash will do, since the boy is being cut off. This is how this sentence should be written:
"A witch? I thought--" He looked at her and furrowed his brows.
This is again another instance with the complete thought following the dialogue: "“Yes, you can do anything. But be
careful with what you wish for,” he smirked. "
“Yes, you can do anything. But be careful with what you wish for.” He smirked.
"“All done,” he said when there were none left and held Yorisou-san towards her. She took it carefully, “What did you do?”"
This is all put into one paragraph here, but should be two separate paragraphs since both characters speak. "She took it carefully..." should be where the new paragraph starts and breaks away from the last.
" Suddenly jumping up and floating wherever she wanted, was no harder than walking. "
In this sentence, the comma should be moved to after "Suddenly" and not be after "wanted".
"I don’t want apple juice,” she said and waved at the table once more. The liquid disappeared, “I want apple juice in a glass on my table,” she tried again and flicked with Yorisou-san. A glass full of apple juice appeared on the table. She giggled again and landed her feet on the floor, then picked up the glass and drank half of the apple juice."
Be aware of how many times you use "apple juice" in this sentence, especially since it appeared multiple times in previous paragraphs, as well. You can simply say "juice" in place of it at times, or even "the drink". Just try to cut back on how many times it's used, since a reader will pick up on it and it can be distracting.
"No, my magic is special. Have you had enough?” he looked at her seriously."
This is like the other examples that I gave with the dialogue followed by complete thoughts:
"No, my magic is special. Have you had enough?" He looked at her seriously.
"“I want it to be hot, I hate cold,” she said and waved with
Yorisou-san, then gasped as the burning flames hit the window and broke the glass into pieces, a few of which hit her face."
You don't need the "of" here; it makes this sentence clunky. Take it out so that it simply reads "...a few which hit her face."
"“You’re lying! Liar... liar...pants on fire!” she mumbled through her sobs and waved with Yorisou-san towards the woman. She did not however become equipped with flaming pants."
While the expression used is one of a child, it seems out of place and somewhat corny here. I think that this would be a much stronger sentence if the girl simply yelled "You're lying!". The rest breaks away from the seriousness of the moment that you've built up and makes it almost comical. I'd suggest taking it out.
Now, on to the overall comments!
I really enjoyed this chapter. You have a very strong writing style and it definitely kept me interested throughout. I didn't want to stop reading. The mistakes throughout were very minor (as I pointed out above) and I think that you have a strong grasp on grammar and characterization. Definitely well done!
The only things I would say to watch for is in the dialogue areas with the complete sentences vs. incomplete sentences. I pointed out a lot of them, but there were still a few more that lingered that I didn't post since I gave quite a few examples of what they were. Going back through and reading the dialogue sections will help clean them up and get this chapter polished to a more final form.
I really want to applaud you on your use of dialogue, however (as in, what the characters have to say). It's very strong with what you have them say to one another and the messages that come out through their words. Very rarely do I find dialogue in a lot of works that is there for the sake of actually being there with a purpose that moves the writing along, so I am most definitely glad that you were one of the exceptions! Very well written.
I look forward to reading some more chapters of this when I get some time. It's rare to find some chaptered gems on the site, and this is definitely one of them. You're off to a brilliant start and all of your revisions on this definitely show it.
I wish you all the best with your future chapters and hope that my critique here is helpful to you in some small way. If you have any questions at all about anything that was suggested here, feel free to ask! I'd be happy to go over it more in depthly.
Thanks again for the brilliant read and I wish you all the best in your future writing endeavors!
“If you spent half the time you spend on pondering over right and wrong on eliminating that which you know is wrong, you might find that the first problem is only an illusion to begin with.”
I think this quote works very well with your story and it gives us context with what is about to happen.
As for the first two paragraphs, the flow is slightly off, and I agree with DorianHarper, that the rule of threes is best served here.
You write "If magic causes disturbances in the world’s balance, opens doors for the creatures of the dark and is nearly impossible to control – then it must be evil. However if the same magic is used to heal the injured and ill, create water where there is none and protect the weak – does this serve as a justification to its existence?"
"Many scholars now and then have pondered over that, yet came no closer to the conclusion. Little did they know that all it really took to put an end to their debate, was one little girl and a lucky coincidence. The girl’s name had gotten lost in the tides of time or perhaps it never existed to begin with. The name she used belonged to another entity entirely, one she had met at the age of five or six back when she did not yet know about right and wrong."
You start the first sentence with the conjunction "if" although, many writers use conjunctions such as "and" and "because" in their work. I don't believe "if" really works as a start to a sentence, especially when it is the first sentence.
I suggest combining the first two paragraphs together and starting with "over the years, many scholars have debated whether or not the evil magic causes is justified." Or something along those lines. Then go into describing examples of how magic is evil and what types of things justify it.
You write, “I put some magic into Yorisou-san. He is now your... wand,” he said after pondering a moment over the last word."
I was a little confused over the description of the wand. I would suggest further explaining what the "wand" actually looks like. As I read further, I had a hard time imagining what the girl was "waving" around. Did the boy turn the wand into an actual wand or was it inside of the bear? This needs to be clarified.
The next few sections where you describe the girl wanting to return everything to it's original state after the fire could be shortened. Instead of the girl asking for everything to be returned to normal, you could instead list the actions taking place. it becomes a little redundant when the girl has to keep saying, "_________exactly like it was before the fire destroyed it,” I think it would be okay to explain a few of the object returning to normal, but after that it would be better to just make a list of the remaining object returning back to their normal state. You could say something along the lines of "The girl began to wish all the things that were burned and out of place to their rightful state. She wished stairs and corridor to their original condition...." and so on. This way, you would eliminate the repetitiveness. The reason I suggest this is because you already told us that the girl's words have to be exact when she wishes for something, so the reader should assume it would be the exact same way for the rest of the actions.
I wanted to point out that you have very nice dialogue and it was easy to understand what all the characters were talking about. You can tell just how innocent the girl is by the way she talks, and you do a very nice job communicating that.
The end of the prologue ties in very nicely with the quote you used in the beginning. It works nicely because you describe magic as being a double edged sword, and that is very true from what you described. It also shows that sometimes we don't know what is wrong and we have to make mistakes first in order to learn.
Overall, I thought you did a very nice job. You have a good start here. I made sure I didn't restate anything that was said before in previous comments or feedback.
Thank you for sharing!
"I can just borrow you mine." This isn't proper. You should just say "I can just lend you mine".
You should consider swapping the Japanese name for something a bit more conventional. It's a little hard to keep up at time, even for someone who's quite familiar with anime and manga.
Sometimes you have your dialogues from two different characters in one paragraph. It can get a bit confusing at times. Try separating them.
Otherwise, this is really well done.
I am aware of the issue with dialogues. I thought I managed to push them all to the next line. I will go over the story once more to see what I missed.
Thank you for liking it as well
If the story is set in Japan, then keeping the names makes sense. But if you are going to keep the names, I think you should use footnotes rather than endnotes for the translations. It makes them easier to access.
The Japanese names threw me off a little, but it's just the prologue and I would get used to them. I don't think you need the footnotes. They're a little distracting. Another idea would be a glossary or you could just let curious readers look them up.
"...but he would only come once a month for six days and never longer." That sounds an awful lot like what comes at the end of this sentence lol.
"...Magic can only take life, not give it,” I liked that you set some rules. Typically you need to put limits on powers for the sake of the story.
“Is he really bleeding?” she asked.
“I am,” said the boy.
This surprised me. You said he would become part of the bear but I didn't expect this result. I was wondering how something without life could bleed however lol.
I'm confused why the boy would say all magic is evil and must be stopped. He was pretty cavalier about dolling it out earlier. I hope that will make more sense as I read.
It's a great start but I'd also like to see something of the girl's life before this eventful night. I also wonder if you've said too much in this prologue. Magical stories are fun because we learn the details of the magic as we go.
Keep writing! I'd like to see how this turns out!
I wasn't sure what to do with the Japanese names and words. I might just leave the translations out as you suggested. It is a pain to go back and add them for every word.
Most of the things you ask about or wonder get answered in the next two chapters already and the reason as to why the boy calls magic evil, is revealed during the rest of the series. I assure you it's not there accidentally. He had a very good reason to play around with it as well.
About the girl's life before that night, I'm not sure about. This was as far back as I wanted to go. I might add a few references in the future as flashbacks but I doubt I'll make full chapters on that.
I'd like to hope that the prologue is not too much. Magic hides many mysteries and that which is seen in prologue is just a tip of the iceberg.
Glad to have you as a reader
Keep up your awesome stories as well!
Those were the only real errors I found. You have an interesting style with words, and I certainly enjoyed the story. Some sentences felt a little rough, I think if you go back through you'll catch them. I'd be interested in seeing more description, but overall an enjoyable story.
Finding a good middle ground with descriptions is the real challenge for me. It's always either too much or too little. I'll give it another shot.