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Airborne - Extract #2

by Asith

This is a Part 2. Please read the earlier parts:

Extract 2

"Oh god…” Toby blurted out whilst soaring through the blackness. What lay before him was sickening: a sea of dead bodies all over the shady green plains, and worse – they were dead bodies of Airbornes. Many Airbornes like him. Men and women and kids all dead with their wings lying lifeless. Toby was dazed beyond all thought and so wasn’t paying attention to the grim details, but none of the bodies had any blood on them. In fact, they were singed and steaming – as if a deathly high voltage had just passed through them.

Naturally, Toby had gone into shock – he had spent fifteen years in a mansion never experiencing casualty and was now subjected to a slaughterhouse. Not to mention, this would mark the first time Toby had ever seen Airbornes with the wings of different air-going beasts. Among the dead bodies were wings of bats, insects, eagles, and some disfigured beyond recognition. He barely held onto consciousness enough to avoid crash landing and instead fell less-than-gently onto the ground. Strewn randomly across the land were stamped-out campfires. The few embers left in the campfires illuminated the view of a burnt down hut and one group of Airbornes – presumably a family – all dead inside. Knees weak, he stumbled, desperately trying to avoid trampling the numerous corpses strewn everywhere. As nauseas as he was from the stench of death, his first thought was to search for any survivors.

He wandered around the burnt bodies, furious at himself for having the audacity to ever try to go out alone, frantically attempting to find any hint of life behind the destroyed huts, or on the singed grass. He had just thought he had seen something when a voice cut through in the background - a familiar voice. TOBIAS!

“Grandpa?” Toby spun around. A bearded, old-yet-tough looking man who sported his own pair of hawk wings was running towards him.

“Oh Tobias, thank god!” cried Grandpa Ernest, shrouding him in a hug, both with his arms and with his wings.

“Where are we? Why… why are all these people dead?”

“I… look, we need to leave now Toby, he might be back.”


“I’m sorry I’ve never told you Toby, but there’s no time for this right now. We need to leave,” Grandpa insisted in his gruff voice.

Grandpa Ernest grabbed Toby’s hand in a vice grip and started to pull him away, but Toby held firm.

“No Grandpa. There could still be survivors here. We need to look for…”

“- This isn’t the type of person who spares people Tobias!” Grandpa Ernest shouted angrily.

Well it turns out that – be it from dumb luck or some omnipotent force – Grandpa Ernest was wrong. In fact, he proved himself wrong. His shout echoed through the whole camp, and from inside the rubble of burned down hut, a little girl came out from hiding - a little girl with the feathery wings of an owl.

She was nine years old at most, dressed in soft silver just like her wings. She stood there with her hands covering her eyes, trying to peek through her fingers at the two new people – the two only people – to join her in the aftermath. Toby noticed that, between the gaps in her fingers, tears were flowing down her face. Seeing this little girl, alone and sobbing in the middle of all the dead bodies, was a real kick in the gut for Toby. He immediately decided that he would help her with anything she needed. As worried as he was, he decided he needed to talk to her first.

“Hey little girl, what’s your name?” Toby began, trying to avoid the subject of all the dead Airbornes around them.

“L… Lyra,” she whimpered.

“Is anyone else alive?” Grandpa Ernest interrupted crudely. Toby glared at him with a facial expression that screamed why would you ask her that?

Unsurprisingly, Lyra’s stream of tears grew stronger than ever.

“No…” She sobbed.

Toby came to a sudden realization. Up until this point, he had not imagined the girl with a family.

“So… your parents…”

Lyra slowly shrugged, still crying. She apparently didn’t know where they were, but it wasn’t hard to put two and two together.

Grandpa interrupted Toby’s thoughts before he drowned in sorrow.

“We still need to leave. Now,” he insisted stoically.

With this, he flapped his wings and rose a few feet into the air before Toby could argue.

Toby walked forward and offered his hand to Lyra.

“We need to go now Lyra. You need to come with us. We’ll take care of you,” he said, gently.

Lyra looked around the remains of the campsite, and seeing there was no one else to help her, she held his hand and slowly, reproachfully, took off with him into the sky. She flew with both Toby and his grandfather, back to the mansion.

Grandpa Ernest lead the way on the flight back to Hawk Manor with Toby following close behind, still holding Lyra’s hand as they flew. It was already past sunrise, but no one felt heavy-eyed despite getting zero sleep the past night. In fact, the only thing they felt was empty. Lyra continued to sob her eyes out, and Toby felt blank for other reasons. He wanted answers - all the answers - whether Grandpa wanted to tell him or not.

Luckily, it turns out Grandpa had, reluctantly, accepted the fact that secrets could no longer be kept and had come to terms with the fact that Toby would simply have to know.

“Okay Tobias, ask. Whatever you want to know.”

“Who. What. Why. Everything, Grandpa.”

Grandpa Ernest sighed.

“This is going to be a long story, Tobias…”

“– Then maybe you should’ve told me before, instead of keeping me in a mansion,” Toby snapped dryly. He was annoyed at how apathetic Grandpa Ernest was being.

Grandpa let out another sigh.

“Fine Tobias, I’ll begin at the beginning…”

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User avatar
83 Reviews

Points: 5636
Reviews: 83

Fri Apr 21, 2017 9:48 am
outvaders wrote a review...

Note: I read both extracts, so I'll review both, since they're interconnected.

Hey Asith, it's me outvaders. Here's the review that you asked for. Before I say anything else though, welcome to the Young Writers Society. You just got a one-way ticket to being the next Tolkien of the writing world. That guy's pretty cool. You'll be just as cool as him in your stay here.

So, you asked me to focus on character and dialogue in this review. I can do that for you, but before that, I'd like to address something that really annoys me about this story: the blandness of the storytelling here.

I have a problem with the seventh paragraph, where Toby is awakened by the some screaming. In other YA novels, this would be something very thrilling. Murder and mystery is fun, y'know. This is also turning point in your story. However, your writing style doesn't quite sell it. It just tells the reader in a straight, orderly fashion that Toby heard some screaming. As an effect, it becomes has way less impact on the viewer. It doesn't help either that this is a problem prevalent in both extracts so far.

Here are some tips to add flair and personality to your story. In scenes like this, be more specific. Get in the moment, and grind in the reader all the details about this scene. Spend a paragraph or two doing that if you have to. Also, split the scene into several paragraphs. This will make each paragraph shorter, putting the reader under the illusion that everything is happening quickly. And most of all, show the readers what the character feels.

Speaking of showing what the character feels, you didn't quite go so deep into it. In the first paragraph where he flies away, it doesn't say much about how he feels. The only bits we have of that is that this was "the moment he had been waiting to feel," and that "as his hair got messier and messier, he got happier and happier." This is baseline; it just tells us what how he feels, but doesn't make us feel the same. Show us exactly how he feels, so that we may also feel what he feels too. Add sensory details and metaphors and stuff like that.

There is also this issue where you don't add personality to your characters at all. Tobias is extremely flat and one-dimensional. Sure, you dumped a ton of information on how he works as an Airborne and touched a little bit on his past. However, what is he like? Is he a good guy or a bad guy? What are his personal beliefs? How does he perceive Humans? Does he have any aspirations, dreams and motivations? You have to be able to answer questions like that through the story. The only things we know about him so far is that he likes flying, and that he's a good enough guy to bring a younger girl with him to get her out of danger.

Because of that lack of personality, I couldn't bring myself to care about this character. After all, why should I invest my feelings in a cardboard cutout?

That, and the boring writing style made my reading experience so tiresome.

About the dialogue, the only thing I have a problem with it is that it becomes "talking heads" sometimes. But it only happens for a short time, so it's pretty minor. If you're having doubts about dialogue, just ask yourself, "Does their discourse make sense, given their personality and the situation they are in?" If you got that right, then the content of the dialogue of your characters is a-okay.

Anyways, that's all for the review. I hope you were able to pick up something new in this one. I'll see you around next time.


Asith says...

Great, this is exactly the type of review I wanted :)
I'll definitely be working on all these things, so thanks!

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105 Reviews

Points: 1544
Reviews: 105

Fri Apr 21, 2017 5:06 am
FalconerGal9086 wrote a review...

Heyo! I'm back!

So I like how the plot is developing and the introduction of the new character Lyra - this should make things interesting. However, I feel it's going a bit too fast: we know that he was stuck for years in this mansion, bored and protected. Now he's out in the world for the first time. However, I feel like I'm being told, not shown. I think that in the beginning maybe there should be a bit more about his life at the mansion before having him run away.

The dialogue wasn't bad, especially for someone new at it (as I'm pretty sure you said you were?). In the beginning, when Ernest yells for Tobias, it needs quotation marks, and when Tobias is interrupted it should be a dash not '...' but other than that it looks pretty good.

"lying lifeless" Nitpick, but I think it should be laying.

See you around!

~ Fea

Asith says...

Thanks for posting another review feather :)
It's nice to see that you continue to follow my work.
I'll be working on the things you outlined.
Thanks :D

You're welcome! I should be thanking you for the points XD

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9 Reviews

Points: 923
Reviews: 9

Thu Apr 20, 2017 5:23 am
Asith says...

This part has a lot of dialogue in it - more than the first part, at least. It's not something I'm used to, so tell me if it feels unnatural, underdeveloped or just plain cringey.

The words you speak become the house you live in.
— Hafiz