Critique Group – The King’s Spyglass


If you haven’t seen Edge of Tomorrow, then you might not understand the above photo, but I thought it was amusing. 🙂 Have fun critiquing today’s entry.

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The King’s Spyglass – by Yakira

Bright white and blue stars twinkled in the silent raven sky, not a single cloud covering the shining wonders. A bright crescent moon shone down on a forest of dark green leaves topping huge strong trunks and limbs. A slight breeze blew through the leaves, rustling them, making a shushing noise that beckoned the cloak-clad figure below to hush her crying.

The figure knelt over two slight mounds of dirt, silent sobs trembling through her small body. Long white hair spilled from the hood, almost reaching the ground. It glistened with a metallic gleam in the moonlight, almost matching the moon’s color. The hooded head lifted, revealing the feminine face of a young girl around the age of nine. Dark eyes stared up at the sky, salty tear tracks carving their way down her cheeks as fresh tears quivered at the edges of her eyes.

She lifted two hands, dirt smeared over the pale flesh. She took in a deep trembling breath. “El, savior of the souls of men, please, listen to my plea,” she lowered her head but kept her hands raised. She closed her eyes, her plea coming out in choked sobs. “Please, help me. I-I don’t think… I can go on. My parents have now gone… to join you in your kingdom. Wh-what should I do now?” she slowly lowered her hands to the fresh dirt.

A soft step whispered through the decaying leaves, making the girl turn. A tall man stepped into the clearing. He lowered his hood revealing a pale face with deep brown eyes frame long light blonde hair.

“Keren?” he said softly, his voice filled with concern.

Keren’s face flooded with relief. She stood and rushed towards the man. “Uncle Lael!” she cried as she fell into his arms.

She began to sob, burying her face in her uncle’s chest. She gripped the edges of his cloak as he soothed her. He let her cry for a few moments then spoke in a low comforting tone, smoothing her soft hair. “Shh, hush now child. It’s time to come home.”

Keren wiped the tears from her face and turned back to the two graves. She frowned at a small object sitting in between the mound of dirt. She left her uncle and walked back to where she had stood before. She knelt and ran her hand over the object.

It was a long wooden spyglass with odd carvings curling over the surface making a beautiful and terrifying picture. Roses curved around the handle and long thorny vines curved in and out of one another then off onto the next thicker section of wood. The vines slowly turned to thick spidery webs criss-crossing the surface, then to thick lines swirling into ropes glistening with large drops of dew. Instantly Keren recognized the spyglass. It had belonged to her father. But what was it doing out by his grave?

A gentle hand rested onto her shoulder. She looked up into Uncle Lael’s eyes. He gave her a weak smile. “It’s time to go Keren,”

She nodded and stood, gripping the spyglass tight in her fist. Following her uncle, she gazed at it, the last thing she had to remember her parents by. She clutched it close to her chest and swallowed back the tears that threatened to form once more. Without looking back, she walked form the clearing, leaving her parents behind.


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5 replies

  1. Hi Yakira! I love all the detail you’ve put into your story, it really adds to the mystery!
    “”Keren?” He said softly” I think maybe instead of “said” you should put “asked” to make it sound a little better. Keep writing, this story sounds really intriguing!

  2. Yakira, you have a good eye for vivid descriptions. I see considerable talent in your writing.

    You chose an omniscient point of view, that is, it feels like a narrator is telling us the story. Readers feel outside of the characters, and we are looking on from a distance. Have you thought about writing this from Keren’s point of view so readers could see through her eyes and feel the emotions more readily?

    The biggest writing issue that I noticed is the frequency with which you use participles, that is, “ing” verbs. I counted 31 uses in this short piece, which is far too many. Also, your first eight sentences have the same structure—a main phrase followed by a participle phrase.

    First sentence: main verb (twinkled) followed by a participle (covering).

    Second sentence: main verb (shone) followed by a participle (topping)

    Third sentence: main verb (blew) followed by a participle (rustling)

    And so on.

    You should vary your sentence structure more.

    Next: The figure knelt over two slight mounds of dirt, silent sobs trembling through her small body.

    When I first read this, I pictured “slight mounds” as the size of ant hills, but I later learned that these were gravesites, which are considerably bigger than “slight” in my mind. I would go ahead and write “burial mounds.”

    Next: “El, savior of the souls of men, please, listen to my plea,” she lowered her head but kept her hands raised.

    “She lowered” begins a new sentence, so you need a period after “plea” then capitalize “She.” The same is true for “she slowly lowered her hands …”

    Next: He lowered his hood revealing a pale face with deep brown eyes frame long light blonde hair.

    Do you mean “deep brown eyes framed by long light blonde hair”?

    Since you have three adjectives for hair, I would delete “light” since that’s a bit redundant. Also, when referring to a male, it should be “blond” instead of “blonde.”

    Next: A gentle hand rested onto her shoulder.

    “Rested onto” doesn’t really work for me. Maybe “settled on”?

    Next: Without looking back, she walked form the clearing – Should be “from” instead of “form.”

    Overall this is interesting, but I think you can make it even more interesting if you hinted at some kind of goal for Keren. What will she do next? Maybe her uncle can say something about the next step.

    As it stands, we see her walking away with nothing to keep us interested in reading. This could actually be the end of a very short story.

    You need to add some tension to drive the story along, and adding a goal would help greatly.

    Keep up the good work!

  3. You have good descriptions, but I agree with Bryan Davis about the POV. With the POV you used, it feels like a movie where you’re outside the character’s head. The thing that really separates books from movies is that with books, you can get inside the character’s head. It is possible with omniscient, but much harder to pull off.

  4. You have some really pretty description, but I’m not entirely hooked. Parents dying and mysterious spyglass are interesting, but I’m not drawn into the story. I didn’t get somewhat interested until the end of the first paragraph and the momentum died a bit. Like Mr. Davis said, she needs more a goal. This piece needs some tweaks, but don’t be discouraged. Keep writing!

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