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Introducing: Story Saturday – Where Asma asks for your help

Posted by on February 23, 2013

Hey guys! This is Asma, the twelve year old co-blogger. And I’m trying out a little… experiment.

I’m writing a story and usually when I write a story I only write about 20 pages and then it goes bye-bye. But this time, I want to finish it, I want a complete story, and I need a little help. So this is how it’s going to work: every Saturday I’ll post a couple of paragraphs to a page of the story I’m working on.

And this is were you guys come in. Seeing as how you all are readers, and many of you writers, I’d be really happy if you could read my excerpts, and you know, tell me what you think. Tell me what you like about my story (currently title: UNTITLED) and what needs to be improved. Thanks!

You cannot escape me, boy. I get what I want, when I want it and no one can defeat me. My race has lived in the shadows for too long. Humans shall fear me and you will help me achieve this power. You will fight. You will scream. But in the end I will have you, for your blood is essential. And you’ll have nowhere else to run.

I drop to my knees, my head throbbing. It was happening more and more. The… voice wants me, the same way it had wanted my parents. My parents hadn’t fought, and they told me not to either, they said no matter what, it would capture me, but they were wrong – I had escaped and they… they had disappeared. I know I can’t run forever, soon enough, the creature would come, take me as if I was his. But until then, I will practice, each day growing stronger, ready to fight the creature, and live the life that is mine.

I feel as though I am living in an hourglass, each day the sand slipping, waiting for me to be taken. But I won’t. Each day I improve. I could fight with a sword as easily as I could walk.

I will be lethal.

“It happened again, didn’t it?” Darius asks, concern etched in his unnervingly light gray eyes. He is a year older than me, and my complete opposite. My eyes are the darkest shade of brown – nearly black. Night and day, we like to say. He is my only friend, the only one I can trust – and my unfailing trainer. Without him, I would never be able to fight in the dark nor balance on a half-foot-wide ledge. He kneels down beside me now, his silver hair glistening in the moonlight.

“No,” I lie. He worries for me too much.

“Why else are you awake?” He asks me, setting aside his sword. Tonight had been his shift, along with some other students. I grunt in reply and stand up slowly, my limbs trembling. He shakes his head and stands beside me.

“You should go, before the Keeper makes her daily rounds.” Darius says, looking over his shoulder. I nod and move slowly toward the rooms.

I have been going to the Academy for three years now. Boys of all ages attend the school. The school is divided into four large parts, the dorms, the classrooms, the mess hall, and the training grounds. None of us know exactly why we have to learn forgotten history and how to fight, but we all know better than to ask. The Keeper is extremely strict – if anyone is out after nine, he would be beaten and never seen again. We are to remain quiet at all times, the only time we really talked to one another was in the dorms, but even then we had to whisper and you could only make out tiny fragments of each other’s words.

Although we seldom talked to one another I am certain that I’m the only one who could hear this race of shadows. The ones that talk to me in my head. And Darius is the only one who knows about them. Each of the dorms has one shard of glass in the bathroom, serving as mirrors. I stand in front of the mirror now, looking at the ghost of a boy before me, hair dark, and eyes haunting. He is nothing more than a shell.

I sigh and turn away. I’ve always hated mirrors, showing you what you already know. I slide into my bed and stare at the bottom of the bed above me. A light snore comes from above. Kayo has been my dorm partner for two years now, and I’m glad that he is. He’s always smiling and trying to make small talk with everyone, even the Keeper. Remembering that day, I smile and close my eyes.


Copyright Asma Faizal

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11 comments

  1. Your story has many lovely elements. I am interested to know more about the world you are describing and the characters who live in it.

    I am especially interested to learn more about your main character, earlier in the pages. I learned a lot about Darius (and even the bunk mate), but I'd like to get more of a sense of who the character is (gender, age) as soon as possible. That should only take small tweaks.

    Also, your dialogue is strong. I'd like more dialogue and a little less prose as you move into the story.

    Good job!

  2. I think you've got a great start here. It's very atmospheric and pulls the reader right in. Already I have a ton of questions, that I assume you'll be answering as the story gets farther along – who is the voice? Why is the narrator so sure he's the only one who can hear it? How is it possible that no one at the Academy knows why they're there — and how did they get there in the first place?

    Just a couple little suggestions. First, I was sure your narrator was a girl until the 3rd to last paragraph. I think it was because of the way you describe Darius' eyes as “unnervingly light gray.” It doesn't seem like a very boyish observation. Also, your narrator has no name. Those things may go hand in hand.

    There's a couple of verb tense consistency issues – are you telling this story in present or past tense? Sometimes paragraphs/sentences swap back and forth.

    Also, this may be a little too much back story for an opening, and it treads a little too much on “tell” side of the “show vs. tell” line. The first half is great, and then when you start to talk about Darius, the pacing slows to get all the back story. Maybe see if you can spread out that information a little more so we're not flooded with it all up at the front end.

    BUT those are all really minor things. I think you have a great voice — loved the hourglass metaphor — and have a very promising beginning here. I'm excited to read more! Great job!

  3. I'm a financial analyst (who happens to love reading), so I may not be the best equipped to comment on writing. However, I will say that the use of the word “had” (as in “I had escaped” or “They had disappeared) should be avoided.

    You've established the relationship with Darius nicely, and I guess we'll hear more about how he and the other boys ended up at the Academy?

    I'm also wondering why talking is forbidden. Lots of mysteries to be solved!

    I can't believe you're only 12…keep up the great work!

    Stephanie

  4. Your tale is intriguing, I would add more elements about the actual world surrounding them..descriptions of weather, academy grounds, what year is it and where are we. Try and weave them in throughout to keep the pace moving. Bravo and I look forward to reading more.

  5. Hi Asma! Loving this so far! There are so many questions in my head that make me want to read more (and *that* is what you want to do… get the reader to keep turning those pages!) :) I agree with the other comments… what came to me as I read it was how, being as your MC is in present tense, going to the past actually takes the reader out of the story. You have this momentum, and the reader is in it, and then they almost have to stop and look back. Does that make sense?

    One thing that really helped me with my writing (and I still have to look for ALL the time) is throwing words in there that stop the “flow”. It's not anything wrong with the writing, but you'll see that simply by taking a few words out, the reader can stay in the moment (which of course is what you want) and feel as though they're there, instead of being with the MC, then thrown to the past, which distances them from the MC. See the slightly changed example below (including removal of two “had”s)… do you see the difference?

    ***

    I escaped and they… they disappeared. I know I can't run forever, soon enough, the creature WILL come, take me as if I AM his. But until then, I will practice, each day growing stronger, ready to fight the creature, and live the life that is mine.

    I feel as though I am living in an hourglass, each day the sand slipping, waiting for me to be taken. But I won't. Each day I improve. (Okay here you said present tense, each day I improve… then went on to say “could” fight. How about keeping making that tense stronger?) I CAN/WILL fight with a sword as easily as I CAN/WILL walk. (or whatever tense you would like, but to flow with the next line, “could” is kind of like… “it's a possibility but we don't know if it will happen” and then you say I WILL BE LETHAL which is awesome and so like saying “there is no question–it is GOING TO HAPPEN”.

    I will be lethal.

    ****

    You are doing an amazing job–there is no question that you love to read–it is obvious in the strength of your work! Keep at it, Asma, this is the beginning of serious awesomeness! :D Can't wait until next Saturday to read more…

    Jessica <3

  6. This is great. I have so many questions and would love I see a synopsis of what this story is about. It definitely caught me eye. In a few years I have no doubt you will be a crazy amazing author. I know this is just a short excerpt, but I think it would be good to clearly establish your MC as a male character. At first I thought he was a boy but as I read it became a little hard to tell, even though I knew he was male. Also, the part where you describe the school could probably be cut if this is the very beginning of the story. It's too much back story for the beginning of a story, but not enough to fully put us in the setting, so I'd just move that to another scene where you can better describe the Academy. Plus it'll add a little mystery to keep the reader trying to guess where this kid is.

    This is a really great start and I hope you stick with it and finish your story. I have the same trouble finishing stories. And there's actually a really cool writing conference coming up that you might be interested in. It's called Teen Author Boot Camp and is specifically for teen writers. It's being broadcast online so anyone anywhere in the world can take writing classes from best selling authors. I think it might be a good way to help you with your writing. Here's a link to more info about it on my blog if you're interested (we're doing a giveaway of a subscription to it!): http://www.prettyinfiction.com/2013/02/blog-tour-giveaway-teen-author-boot.html

  7. Great story, talent runs in the family! Obviously I am not the only one who thinks so. You grab my attention, now I want more! Can not wait to see what happens next! Do not stop writing or we will all wonder what would have happened. ;~)

    Aj

  8. “I feel as though I am living in an hourglass, each day the sand slipping, waiting for me to be taken. But I won't. Each day I improve. I could fight with a sword as easily as I could walk.” -Hmm… I'm not about this metaphor or whatever you would call it. The I could part you might want to try I can. I'm not sure. This could use a little tweaking.

    “Boys of all ages attend the school. The school is divided into four large parts, the dorms, the classrooms, the mess hall, and the training grounds.” When you call it the school it doesn't sound right. Maybe you should out the name of the academy there.

    “he would be beaten and never seen again” – I know it's an all boys school but when you say he right after you talk about the keeper it confuses me. i'm thinking that the keeper gets beaten. try they maybe?

    “We are to remain quiet at all times, the only time we really talked to one another was in the dorms,” – when you say talked I'm not sure based on the rest of the paragraphs if this is on present or past tense.

    “Remembering that day, I smile and close my eyes.” -again confused about the tenses. When you talk about the keeper is that all past tense?

    I'm seriously impressed and look forwarding to reading more! I wish I could write as well as you :D

  9. I love what you have so far! The main thing I think you should watch out for is to be careful so your writing style doesn't slip into that cliche type of fantasy voice/tone because right now you're kindof balancing near the edge of it. But other than that, LOVE! :)

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