Criticize Me, Please

Nervous

Shy

Rapid (pulse, that is)

That’s how I feel about putting my own writing on here.  But here it is.  What do you think?  What should I work on?

Mira was ripped from her sleep by the sounds of her handmaids screaming in terror.  As her eyes opened she saw the candlelight flare up and arc across the room.  Sparks flew from it, each one impossibly lighting another fire.  And each fire only added to the inferno that spread from the fireplace. Flames licked the tapestries on the walls and devoured the rushes on the floor.

Wide eyed Mira watched one maid beat and claw at the great oaken door as her hair and dress started to smolder and smoke.  The other ran to the wash basin, dumped the water onto a blanket and beat at the flames.  As they realized the fire was no natural fire but was strengthened by mages’ words they turned towards Mira.  She looked in their eyes.  Their pupils were so big their eyes looked black, black eyes that reflected the flames.  Screams, echoing her maids, drifted up from the courtyard, they reverberated in the walls and swelled within Mira’s ears.

Shadows danced along the tapestries and stone blocks.  Their long pointed fingers reached for Mira’s wrists.  They juggled flames and threatened to gouge out her eyes and steal down her throat.  They shrieked with delight as a beam broke and crashed down onto the bed, throwing up burning splinters and cinders.  Their laughter began to drown the screams from outside.  And they crept ever closer, trying to pull Mira into a game of whirling and burning.  They pulled at the blankets and left burning fingerprints on her nightgown.  They embraced her maids, leaving nothing but melted flesh and charred, twisted bones.

The shadows crawled towards Mira’s bed.  They pulled themselves closer.  Mira shrank away and clutched her black and burning blankets to her breast and opened her mouth.  A scream of terror filled the room.  It wound its way down the stairs, out the windows and through the courtyard.  It stole down the streets and slid under doorways.  It echoed against wood and stone alike.  And it grew fainter, but the terror remained.  Even as the sound faded from hearing, the terror continued to move.  It crept into bedrooms and snuck past guards.  It rattled chains and cracked glass.   It curdled milk and blackened leaves.

It stole into the air and drifted along the wind until two fingers caught it and plucked it out.  Little tendrils of it were carefully wound up.  And when all that could be gathered was gathered, Death held Mira’s terror in his hands and gazed at the beauty of it, the strength of it, the rawness of it.  He saw how it had been tainted and he regretted this terror and the loss of this spirit.  He dropped his gaze, let his hands fall to his side, and Mira’s terror dissipated into the night.

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8 thoughts on “Criticize Me, Please

  1. I like what you’ve written! Very nice handle on description. As for constructive criticism, here are my thoughts: A “scream of terror” could certainly creep into bedrooms, but would such a shrill sound “sneak past guards”? To sneak implies stealth and quiet, not a loudness that “rattled chains and cracked glass.”

    But good work, and keep at it—I’d like to see more short work from you on your blog.

  2. I love the writing, but there wasn’t any mention on me in it. Or maybe I’m the mage?!?

    Love you, and can’t wait to read more 🙂

  3. I would slow down a bit. Since you’re plunging me into a situation, I need time for my mind’s eye to take over so that I’m imagining and not just looking at the words. I don’t have enough time to take it in! I love your way of describing the reaction to the fire: “Their pupils were so big their eyes looked black, black eyes that reflected the flames. Screams, echoing her maids, drifted up from the courtyard, they reverberated in the walls and swelled within Mira’s ears.”

    • Yeah. I have an idea for a book and this is one of the scenes. I’m not sure if it’s going to be THE opening scene or not. But I’ll keep this in mind. Thanks!

  4. Love the scene. Dropping the reader into the action is always an effective technique, and I really like the way it ends with Death’s regret.

    Two things. I’d think carefully about some of your images. I don’t know about you, but, if my blankets were burning, I wouldn’t clutch them to me. Quite the opposite.

    Second, you can strengthen some of your writing with compound sentences and no passive voice. Rather than, “It stole into the air and drifted along the wind until two fingers caught it and plucked it out. Little tendrils of it were carefully wound up. . . .” how about, “It stole into the air and drifted along the wind until two fingers caught it, plucked it out, and carefully wound up little tendrils of it.” That’s fewer words and no passive voice.

    That’s my two cents. The scene is interesting, exciting, and makes me want to know more. Keep writing!

    • Thanks for the input. I’ve definitely thought there was something a bit off about clutching burning blankets…but I hadn’t figured out how to change it. I’ll work on it.

      And I’ve also been told that my writing is a bitch choppy. I like short sentences. And I need to work on using more compound sentences.

      Thanks again. I hope you critique more of my writing as I post it!

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