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  1. #1
    Brandon Cleveland
    Guest

    Would anyone like to critique about 800 words?

    I'm writing a Y.A. novel, and it's about 95k words. This excerpt deals with the main character's father and a surprise visit by his cousin (though he knows what it's about, he's playing stupid). This style is pretty much what the whole book follows, so any helpful (or hurtful) criticism is helpful.

    Standing in the cold and snow was Louis, and behind him, a small woman and two other blokes, none of who William recognized. Without waiting for an invitation, they walked in; Legrand and two others stayed near the door, while a brash, six-foot-tall gent made himself comfortable on the couch, going so far as to put his feet up on the table. He noticed a thick shard of black hair, picked it up and inspected it before throwing it to the floor.

    Just as William readied to correct his guest, Louis spoke.

    “What about hospitality, cousin?” he asked, bearing a smile that showed all his teeth. I come all the way here to say hello, and you don’t offer a cup of tea, even? You’re going to give the Farhats a bad name, you keep going on the way you are.” He and his associates laughed out loud, leaving William out of the apparent joke.

    Originally from Paris, Louis Legrand was handsome, but he retained a hardened and rugged appearance, despite his tastes for the finest clothes and jewelry. And he was tall, almost seven feet, and his muscles were defined even under his gray designer suit. From birth, Legrand was raised to be the Grand Matriarch’s enforcer and he played the part without flaw.

    William was bred by aristocrats to be just that, and his physicality showed it. “You have to excuse me then, Louis. I did not expect to have guests so late on a Friday night.”

    Legrand signaled the other two to sit down on the couch, and he went to the kitchen and poured himself a drink. “Well, William,” he said and took a sip from the short square glass; the strength of the liquor knocked him back two steps, though he acted mostly in jest. “Man, you still keep this stuff around? I think the last time I was here we drank some of this stuff, am I right?” Louis poured another swallow’s worth in the glass.

    “I’m glad you think so, Louie,” he said, his eyes stayed on his cousin’s associates. “Can I get you chaps anything?”

    “No, they’re fine,” Louis said for them. “We’re in town on business. Since I was in the neighborhood, I thought I’d stop by, see how my cousin was doing.” He took another sip.

    “You’re here on business? In London, and I don’t know about it?”

    “Sure you do. You don’t remember that call I made to you, just a few weeks back, yes?”

    William threw his hands up and shook his head.

    Louis took the final swallow of the liquor and slammed the glass against the granite countertop, shattering it into a thousand pieces.

    William stepped forward, and put one hand on Louis’s chest, and faced his other palm at the others in his living room. “What are you on about?! Who are these people you brought into my home?”

    Louis smiled and the others snickered out loud.

    “You think this is funny?! I am of a High House, and you come to my country – my home – with these half-breed thugs? And to do what, other than tempt fate?”

    Louis reached into his pocket and pulled out a silver-colored digital recorder, and he played back the conversation he and William had concerning his daughter, and the Grand Matriarch’s decree. “You don’t remember that?” Louis asked again.

    “Sure,” William said. “I remember it. What’s your bloody point?”

    Louis snapped his fingers and the female walked over and handed him a small, black disc. He flashed the device to William, showing him the small buttons and lights on it and he said “You like this? They say it’s not supposed to be released for another nine years, no? I love getting prototypes like this – it really can turn a crappy day to something of quality.”

    William smiled and said “It’s a nice toy, Louis. Again I ask you: what is your point?”

    “That’s what I’m getting to, cousin.” And he pressed a button twice, but nothing happened. His female associate tried to help and then one of the other men came over and tried to help also. Between the three of them, they finally got the device to work. “Sorry about that,” Louis said.

    A two-dimensional hologram appeared over the flat disc; it was footage of William showing Emma how to shape-shift just minutes earlier.

    William said nothing, and Legrand shut his eyes and shook his head. “William – ever since we were pups, I’ve looked out for you, no? When I called you to tell you that your daughter could not be taught out to shift, I said that they would be watching. I’ve done all I can, but I can’t help you anymore.”

    He turned to the female and said “Angela? What are you getting?”

    Angela’s eyes widened and turned black, and she smelled the air.

    “Anything?” Legrand asked.

    She smiled, but otherwise said nothing.

    “That’s what I thought,” Louis said, and he turned to William. “You can make this easy, or you can make it difficult. It doesn’t matter to us.”

    <END>

    Thanks in advance



  2. #2
    Rogue Mutt
    Guest

    Re: Would anyone like to critique about 800 words?

    This obviously isn't the beginning, right? Seems like it starts off pretty slow but then finally gets a little interesting once the argument starts.

    I'm still trying to imagine a "shard" of hair.

  3. #3
    Brandon Cleveland
    Guest

    Re: Would anyone like to critique about 800 words?

    No, this is the middle of the book. Pretty much, the young girl's mother absconds with her (from the dad) and they are forced to return, and the girl is spending time with her dad.

    As for the shard of hair, think cat whisker but as thick as a spaghetti noodle (it's explained earlier in the chapter). i know, i suppose i could say 'thick strand'

  4. #4
    Lea Zalas
    Guest

    Re: Would anyone like to critique about 800 words?

    I agree with Rogue. I had no idea it was about shifters until the argument. Interesting after that.

  5. #5
    Janice W-D
    Guest

    Re: Would anyone like to critique about 800 words?

    The first four paragraphs kept me confused and frustrated. I kept rereading them to figure out which character was the father and which spot each of the characters occupied outside and inside the house.

    Standing in the cold and snow was Louis, and behind him, a small woman and two other blokes, none of who William recognized. Without waiting for an invitation, they walked in;

    I thought William arrived a few seconds after the others, and they all came in together, without knocking and receiving an invite inside by the owner of the house.

    [i]Legrand and two others stayed near the door, while a brash, six-foot-tall gent made himself comfortable on the couch, going so far as to put his feet up on the table. ...

    Just as William readied to correct his guest, Louis spoke.[i]

    Where's Louis? Sitting on the couch with his feet on the table? Standing next to Legrand by the door?

    Four paragraphs in, I read:

    Originally from Paris, Louis Legrand was handsome,

    Ah, the brain fog lifts at last. But I did wonder why you call the main character's father by his first name (William) throughout but kept switching between the cousin's first (Louis) and last (Legrand) names.

    The novel may not need these clarifications but we need them here for any future critiques you request.

    Easy Fix - Add: William opened the door.
    Change next sentence to: Louis stood in the cold and snow, and behind him, ... (Pet peeve. Can't stop myself from removing "was" and other weak, linking verbs.)

    Actually, I'd make it more vivid by using SHOW not TELL to reveal character:

    Louis stood on the porch/stoop, stamping clots of snow loose from the tops of his (insert name of expensive shoes/boots). (He's not worried about tracking slush in on the floors, merely preserving the sheen on his footwear.) William didn't recognize the small woman and two blokes behind his cousin.

    You can later show him fiddling with a gold bracelet, necklace or diamond ring. Then you get rid of the telling: ... despite his tastes for the finest clothes and jewelry.

    Best,
    Janice

  6. #6
    Janice W-D
    Guest

    Re: Would anyone like to critique about 800 words?

    Dang! Do-Over:

    The first four paragraphs kept me confused and frustrated. I kept rereading them to figure out which character was the father and which spot each of the characters occupied outside and inside the house.

    Standing in the cold and snow was Louis, and behind him, a small woman and two other blokes, none of who William recognized. Without waiting for an invitation, they walked in;

    I thought William arrived a few seconds after the others, and they all came in together, without knocking and receiving an invite inside by the owner of the house.

    Legrand and two others stayed near the door, while a brash, six-foot-tall gent made himself comfortable on the couch, going so far as to put his feet up on the table. ...

    Just as William readied to correct his guest, Louis spoke.


    Where's Louis? Sitting on the couch with his feet on the table? Standing next to Legrand by the door?

    Four paragraphs in, I read:

    Originally from Paris, Louis Legrand was handsome,

    Ah, the brain fog lifts at last. But I did wonder why you call the main character's father by his first name (William) throughout but kept switching between the cousin's first (Louis) and last (Legrand) names.

    The novel may not need these clarifications but we need them here for any future critiques you request.

    Easy Fix - Add: William opened the door.
    Change next sentence to: Louis stood in the cold and snow, and behind him, ... (Pet peeve. Can't stop myself from removing "was" and other weak, linking verbs.)

    Actually, I'd make it more vivid by using SHOW not TELL to reveal character:

    Louis stood on the porch/stoop, stamping clots of snow loose from the tops of his (insert name of expensive shoes/boots). (He's not worried about tracking slush in on the floors, merely preserving the sheen on his footwear.) William didn't recognize the small woman and two blokes behind his cousin.

    You can later show him fiddling with a gold bracelet, necklace or diamond ring. Then you get rid of the telling: ... despite his tastes for the finest clothes and jewelry.

    Best,
    Janice

  7. #7
    Brandon Cleveland
    Guest

    Re: Would anyone like to critique about 800 words?

    Janice -

    As always ... Thanks. Your advice is spot on and I appreciate the time you took to read my excerpt. Sometime I post excerpts from the middle of the book, and that does not help the critiquing process.

    Like I said - sometime I get a little insecure about my writing (lonely profession) and I post irrelevant parts that make absolutely no sense.

  8. #8
    Janice W-D
    Guest

    Re: Would anyone like to critique about 800 words?

    Brandon,

    Just give us a longer lead-in next time.

    Glad I helped a bit.

    And, all of us appreciate a thank you. It off-sets the defensive, "yeah, but," rebuttals we sometimes get on these boards.

    Best,
    Janice

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