Monday, January 7, 2013

first impressions - DemonBorn

Our final first impression comes from Lauren Ritz, who can be found on her blog, Eclectic. This is the first page of her sci-fi/fantasy, DemonBorn. She notes that the ameso are aquatic so they use sign language. My comments will be in purple and when you have a moment, go see what Dianne thought about this first page.

Shadyel turned her head to let her side-set eyes focus on a space in the circle, the place of least prestige (this is an interesting phrase) immediately in front of her. Her hands moved in the familiar ameso (Should ameso be capitalized?) signs, larger than normal because she was angry. Where is Tiyet? she asked, and the others' hands fluttered without meaning.

Sunlight sprayed in curious ripples from the surface of the lake above them, obscuring some motions and accentuating others. Trees wavered beyond, two moons almost indistinguishable from the clouds. Like this.

They floated in the traditional circle in the deep water shadows, Shadyel in the center where the priestess should have been. Only one priestess agreed to come with them, and she had died at the beginning of this campaign against the humans. This is interesting but might be more so if I knew the importance of the priestess and Shadyel's relationship to her.

Not able to get away, Giyac reported, his hand-signs very small as if he wanted to avoid her notice. He held a position on the human Blod Lord's team, (who is this person? Someone important?) hunting the ameso. The identifying pattern of scars along his arms in ameso form were not something which could be easily duplicated. The humans seemed unaware that the ameso took on the memories of their targets when they chose another shape, so they had created "safeguards" which rested in the memory rather than the flesh. This made it very simple to replace humans when the team felt it necessary.

Three of the humans rested under rocks at the bottom of this lake, and ameso had taken their places. (I'm a little confused. How could humans 'rest' at the bottom of a lake. Wouldn't they drown? And when you say three ameso had taken their places, do you you mean stolen their identities and lives?) Three of the ameso on the team had been discovered, tortured and killed.

Shadyel indicated her contempt for the absent ameso woman, fingers almost shouting the words. No excuse.

It seems like there's a lot of interesting things happening here. The trouble is none of it means much because I'm not familiar enough with this world and I don't know these characters yet. Is Shadyel a good guy? Should I like her? Or is she the enemy? I think if I understood the characters and had a better sense of place I would like this opening a lot more. I wonder if there's a way to intersperse information through action or dialogue or even inner dialogue. Maybe focus on one character (someone to care about perhaps?) and let us see this world through their eyes. But let me add that scifi/fantasy is one of my favorite genres to read and I would probably read on out of curiosity. 

What about you guys? What do you think of this first page? Any suggestions for Lauren?


  1. Hey Marcy,

    Left my comments over on Dianne's site, but I agree with you about the issue of 'rested.' I had to read it over a few times.

  2. I think it's got the makings of a really cool story. Conflict is already apparent, but like you said, I'm a little lost because I don't have a firm enough grasp of where I am or who these "people" are as I read. I just think it needs a little more fleshing out to anchor the opening.

  3. It's an interesting world all right. I do think we're flung into it without much explanation though.

  4. I already commented at Dianne's place, but after reading your critique, a couple more thoughts occurred to me. Removing the words "she said" in the first paragraph is a good idea, and made me think it might also be more effective to remove the part about the other hands fluttering without meaning. The angry question would be a good way to end that paragraph, and kinda let her question hang in the air. (in the water?) Then, the discomfort and meaningless hand-fluttering can be described right before Giyac finally responds.

    Also, the reference to "familiar ameso signs" is confusing. Familiar to whom? Not to this reader. Two things have to be established: this character is using hand signals, and belongs to an aquatic race called Ameso, but until those two things are understood by the reader, the "familiar" reference is... unfamiliar.

  5. Thanks. You've given me a lot to work with. Shadyel is actually the villain. Not bad, necessarily, but obsessed. More about her in DemonTaint. :)

    I used "familiar" because the aristocrats (Blod) of this world also use a form of sign language.

    The first three pages can be linked to from if you'd like to read more (still working on structuring my website--sorry about that)

  6. I love this premise and what is here so far, BUT to really hook me I would need a little more information about these characters. I know that's tough, but I have no sense of who they are, why I should care about them and only a very vague sense of what they are.

  7. I like the critique a lot. It's spot on to me. Also, glad you received the books and liked them. Enjoy your week.

  8. Great critique. I was really intrigued by the fifth paragraph, even if we could use a little more context.

  9. Excellent comments, Marcy! I commented on Dianne's already, but I really like your suggestions.

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