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The Forgotten Lands:Chapter 1

by Lollipop


Here is the beginning of my story. Its quite short but the other chapters will be longer. Hope you likey! 8)

The Forgotten Lands

Alsana was shocked by the news. She couldn’t believe that it was she and her three closest friends that were chosen to kill the Gulrich. She was only a simple farm maiden who cooked and cleaned for the Lords and Ladies of the village. Why pick her? That question could never be answered.

Alsana was not the fairest of woman, small in height with soft, long auburn hair that swayed as she walked. She wore rather plain clothes, a forest green dress and tiny walking shoes that never uttered a sound. On the whole, she was just ordinary.

A sparrow circled the sky at dawn, symbolising a new day. Alsana woke with a yawn and clambered out of her scruffy, old bed. She padded along the concrete floor towards her dressing chamber. Her bedroom was extremely small with only a single bed as its contents although there was a large window above her bed where the sun peered down at her every morning. Above all, her bedroom was homely. Alsana rubbed her eyes as she slumped into her sorry excuse for a bath. It was a huge, iron tub with grime creeping up the sides. She had never had enough time to wash it. Always scrubbing everything else! She made sure she washed everywhere. Under her fingernails and in between her toes. It might be her last wash.

“ How will I get through this?,” she asked herself as she violently washed her hair.

After bathing in the grime filled pit, Alsana got dressed into her plain clothes. A dark purple dress that clung to her as she moved, her light walking shoes and a beautiful little locket that she always held close. It was her mother’s, who had past away just as Alsana turned three. The necklace was a part of the young woman, never leaving her neck. She packed some essentials, food, clothing and some extra belongings and then straightened herself and strutted through the front door.


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Tue Aug 11, 2020 3:42 am
WaterSpout wrote a review...



Hello, Lollipop!
I know you may never read this, but I found your story interesting so I'll review it. About ten years later.

Alsana was shocked by the news.

I agree with Bickazer, it's too flat and boring. It should have been more... alive and descriptive. Don't go overkill either, because that, too, does not help at all. Try to use words to there advantage and show the reader how Alsana was shocked.

She wore rather plain clothes, a forest green dress and tiny walking shoes that never uttered a sound.

Okay, at this point, I'm basically gonna have to agree with everything Bickazer said, but I'll also throw in some grammar mistakes that I caught. :)
Here is the beginning of my story. Its quite short but the other chapters will be longer. Hope you likey! 8)

Wait, couldn't you add a description with your story? Was that not a feature in the past? If you could, that would have been to place to put it and not ruin the immersion. But I've seen other past stories that do the exact same thing, so I guess that feature wasn't available. Also, I like the title, even if it isn't the most creative(not saying that you aren't creative), but it works well with this story.
Why pick her? That question could never be answered.

This review may be all over the place, but stay with me here. Unless you're not reading it...
Anyways, that question can in fact be answered by the people who chose her. But maybe this is just her ignorant thinking.

Alsana was not the fairest of woman, small in height with soft, long auburn hair that swayed as she walked. She wore rather plain clothes, a forest(-)(needs a hyphen if it describes the tint of the green; wait, is that how you say it?)green dress and tiny walking shoes that never uttered a sound. On the whole, she was just ordinary.

Yes, this is a humble-girl cliché, but I mean, how could you blame someone for using what others used before them? It is very counterproductive. If people used it, it's because it was successful. And yes, time is the enemy here, but I don't think there's anything you can do to change the fact that people lived before you. So at a certain point, everything will be cliché in the future.

Her bedroom was extremely small with only a single bed as its contents(,)(that needs a comma) although there was a large window above her bed where the sun peered down at her every morning.

Commas, commas, commas! Literally every review I do includes a comma error. I'm sorry.

Above all, her bedroom was homely.

Agreeing with what Bickazer said, this was unnecessary. But so is this review, but I'm doing it anyways.

Alsana woke with a yawn and clambered out of her scruffy(,) old bed.

That comma was not needed.

She packed some essentials(,) food, clothing and some extra belongings(,) and then straightened herself and strutted through the front door.

The first comma should've been a colon. That and should've been a comma and you should add a comma in between belongings and and. I think that's about it.
I still have no opinions with this since it is short, but hopefully I can read the rest someday. Who knows? Maybe tomorrow.
With caution,

WaterSpout




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Fri Sep 05, 2008 5:15 am
[aka]eliza wrote a review...



Nice beginning, but I agree with some of the others that it seems a little plain, or in my opinion a bit vague. I find it a little tricky to write in the narrative position, but you did a good job. I would suggest adding more about her thoughts and feelings. I wondered why she asked herself how she was going to get through... what? Well, it's the first chapter, but maybe you could explain a little more, and catch the reader's attention and make them want to keep reading. =]




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Fri Sep 05, 2008 1:32 am
Bickazer wrote a review...



Alsana was shocked by the news.


Well...this is a major example of telling instead of showing. It's not a good sign when the very first sentence of your epic fantasy story is by a flat sentence telling us about a person's emotions without showing them. SHOW us what Alsana's feeling--show us her shock, don't just say she was "shocked". Does her heart go cold, does her mind go numb, does she drop what she's holding, etc. etc.?

She couldn’t believe that [s]it was[/s] she and her three closest friends had been chosen to kill the Gulrich


You have a few awkward phrasings here, so I changed them to flow a little more naturally.

She was only a simple farm maiden who cooked and cleaned for the Lords and Ladies of the village. Why pick her? That question could never be answered.


I have several problems with this section--quite simply, the "humble farmboy/girl" as a fantasy hero has been used far too many times to be interesting, anymore. Try to give Alsana a different story--maybe she can be noble herself, or, on the opposite end of the spectrum, she can be, um, a painted lady. Depends on your preferences (or the age group you're aiming for...), but try not make her a farmgirl, mmkay?

Also, I want to know--why exactly can't "the question" be answered? You may want to elaborate on that.

Alsana was not the fairest of women, small in height with soft, long auburn hair that swayed as she walked. She wore rather plain clothes, a forest green dress and tiny walking shoes that never uttered a sound. On the whole, she was just ordinary.


The description here is a bit...bland. You use a lot of meangingless, overused words that don't really paint a picture--"small in height" is redundant, and "rather plain" is meaningless. "One the whole, she was just ordinary" is an uncompelling sentence, and unnecessary, too, as it feels like you're just restating your first sentence. I like the description of her shoes, though.

A sparrow circled the sky at dawn, symbolising a new day.


>_> Please, please, no "A scent blew through the night, a scent that would change the world"s, okay? It just feels overly dramatic to the point of tackiness, and again, means absolutely nothing. There's no need to describe such a mundane event in such dramatic terms; it just comes across as corny. I do like the "a sparrow circled the sky at dawn" part; the rest of the sentence, not so much. Try to make the rest of the description in line with the mundane picture of a flying bird youv'e painted...something like, "heralding the new day with cheerful chirps". Eww, that wasn't a good example either and I also feel it's a tad overblown. Oh well...

Alsana woke with a yawn and clambered out of her scruffy, old bed.


It should be better rendered as "awoke", and you don't need a comma between "scruffy" and "old".

She padded along the concrete floor towards her dressing chamber.


As a previous critiquer has stated, concrete feels somewhat anachronistic for the era the story supposedly takes place in.

Her bedroom was extremely small with only a single bed as its contents although there was a large window above her bed where the sun peered down at her every morning


This sentence just seems...awkwardly phrased. You don't need the "extremely"--adverbs are very often unnecessary and can be replaced painlessly by more in-depth description (but who am I, a huge adverb abuser, to talk? >_>). Also, the "with a only a single bed as its contents" doesn't feel natural; change it to "with a single bed inside". I do like the imagery of the sun peering down at her every morning; it makes the sun seem like a friendly, warm presence looking out for her like a benevolent parent figure. And I don't know how I was able to get that much from a single sentence, but 'tis a good thing.

Above all, her bedroom was homely.


Um, summing things up with "after all" and "clearly" might work for padding school papers (I should know, as I do it all the time), but in fiction writing, it's not only awkward, but pointless and makes your writing seem amateurish. If you've described her room sufficiently enough, you don't need to some it up as "homely"--let the reader draw the inference themselves based on your description.

Alsana rubbed her eyes as she slumped into her sorry excuse for a bath.


As previously stated, "sorry excuse" is anachronistic. Excise it and replace it with "pitiful"--that'll flow better with the medieval-fantasy feel you've got going on. I'd say things about medieval people's thoughts on bathing, but...your world isn't our world. Maybe this is a medieval world where people understand the benefits of regular bathing, so...*blah blah blah* Feel free to ignore all that babbling.

It was a huge, iron tub with grime creeping up the sides.


I like this bit of description--you really have a feel for personification (the shoes that "never uttered a sound", the "peering" sun). It livens up your prose and helps the reader form a more concrete image in their head. Nice job. There's no need at all for "above all"s and "clearly"s when you're able to paint a much more vivid image with figurative language, now, is there? :D

She had never had enough time to wash it. Always scrubbing everything else!


Nice touch, but the two sentences could be combined to flow more naturally (as the last one's a fragment). Still, I like the voice you have here; it helps define Alsana as a person. I'm seeing her as a kind of hapless farmgirl (wait, why would a farmgirl have a private bath? Mayhaps you should make Alsana of a higher social class--she doesn't even have to be that high up, maybe even the daughter of a shopkeeper? That'd be more original than a farmgirl and would explain the private, but deteriorating, bath) caught up in events beyond her understanding, and seems frustrated by her material conditions but has long accepted them. And you should take it as a good sign that I've been able to infer this much about your character from such little text--and best of all, you haven't infodumped at all on her personality (save the "Alsana was shocked" bit...)!

It might be her last wash.


Er...and how would that be so? Again, I feel this is a sentence you should either elaborate (like the "The question could never be answered" one), or stricken out completely, as it's too vague to be real foreshadowing and adds nothing to the seen happening at the moment.

How will I get through this?,” she asked herself as she violently washed her hair.


I like the idea of Alsana thinking to herself (I presume she's thinking, not talking out loud...'cause that'd be weird) while bathing...it's something I do a lot. When I'm not singing in the shower, but you don't need to know about that. Adding little personality touches like this make her seem all the more like a real human being and more relatable (at least to me...).

After bathing in the grime filled pit


Nice metaphor--Alsana really doesn't envy her conditions, does she? I'd like to see a little more on this...like, does she want to advance your social position, or has she long accepted that there's no way she can?

Alsana got dressed into her plain clothes.


"Got"...*twitch* That word...me and that word just don't get along; I don't know why. All the same, I feel this sentence would be better phrased as "Alsana dressed in her plain clothes".

. It was her mother’s, who had past away just as Alsana turned three.


I think you mean "passed" here, not "past".

The necklace was a part of the young woman, never leaving her neck.


I like the idea you've presented here--the reader can tell the necklace is valuable to Alsana without you outright saying so. It's a bit awkwardly phrased, though...maybe something more like "The necklace was a part of the young woman--for as long as she'd had it she had never removed it from her neck". Or maybe that's even more awkward? I dunno. >_>

straightened herself and strutted through the front door.


"Strutted"...I don't know, this feels a tad out of character to me. So far you've painted Alsana as something who, while discontent with her lowly position in society, doesn't outright try to act more arrogant or upper-class than her station would demand. The action of "strutting" implies some arrogance on the part of the strutter, and from what I've been able to read here it doesn't seem that Alsana's a naturally arrogant person. Also, she seems to be going on a voyage she decidedly does not WANT to undertake, which makes it odd that she'd "strut" out of there...you'd think she'd go a little more reluctantly, wouldn't she?

All in all...as a character piece, I really like this. You paint a believable picture of a lowly young woman caught in a situation (however vague that situation might be) beyond her understanding, who's frustrated with her lot in life but doesn't know how to improve it. Everything--your physical descriptions of Alsana, the way she views her conditions, so on and so forth--helps to build up her character. The piece is short but already I've got a good view of Alsana as a character, thanks in no small part to your prose. You use some clever bits of metaphor, simile, and personification, particularly in regards to the shoes and the sun and Alsana's bathtub--though you're describing mundane things, the usage of figurative language lends them a sort of quirky, familiar light. In light of that, that's what makes two particularly odd usages of prose in this story so jarring--first, your simply saying Alsana was "shocked" rather than describing it. I can already tell you're talented at describing things, so it mystifies me why you didn't go more in depth into Alsana's emotions of shock instead of flatly saying it. Also, the "symbolizing the start of a new day" bit clashed magnificently with the otherwise dry and understated bits of description you've used--it feels too grandiose and overblown to belong with the more down-to-earth prose you've been using.

However...as the start of a fantasy novel, this was less than compelling. I'm terribly sorry if that seems harsh, but honestly...if I picked this up in a bookstore and read it, I wouldnt' continue. Part of that comes from the already stereotypical situation you've set up--does Alsana really have to be a farmgirl? Make her something else, still of a low social class but enough to have a private bath and feel resentful of her lower class position...in fact, the way you've written Alsana seems to paint her almost as more of a city girl than a farmgirl. If she was a farmer, I feel she might be somewhat discontent at her position, but overall more satisfied due to lack of contact with upperclass people--but if she was a menial worker in a city or town (like, a domestic servant), she might have more opportunity to interact with people of higher status and thus develop a vague resenting of them and a wish to have more for herself. Or something; maybe I'm reading too much into things. >_> Another part of the overall lack of interest I felt in this (as the opening of a fantasy novel, not a character piece) was just how...vague...everything seemed. Who is Gulrich? Who are her three friends and why were they appointment to kill him/her/it? Why does Alsana leave, and why does she feel this will be her "last bath" and that she will find no answers? I can understand if you're trying for an air of mystery and trying to foreshadow, but...you kind of overshot it. Now, instead of feeling intrigued enough to keep reading and find out who/what Gulrich is and why Alsana has to kill them, I just feel...lost and confused. The trick to effective foreshadowing is to give the reader just enough information to both satisfy them AND make them want to keep reading, without giving too much away until the time is right. It IS hard to do--I have trouble with it too. All the same, I feel you should either excise all your references to Gulrich and so on, or expand on them. Your choice. :D

Don't despair--you are a good writer. Your prose, in particular, is strong (with the exception of the "Alsana was shocked" bit, and all the "After all" and "cleary" sentences), and I already have a strong sense of what your character Alsana is like. That's a good thing, as the characters are the heart of every good story. Work a bit on making this more of a first chapter of a fantasy novel, though, because as it is...I'm honestly not interested enough to read more of the novel. No offense, and I'm sorry if I seem unduly harsh. :( Just keep on working and you'll get better; that's the way everything in life works.




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Thu Sep 04, 2008 8:18 pm
Fellow says...



Very nice description of the woman. Many writers attempt to write only good things about their chars. Anyway nice starting idea as well.




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Thu Sep 04, 2008 4:08 pm
bisquit wrote a review...



Firstly, i think you have created a very good story line and i think you have thought about it hard because you seem to know exactly what's going to happen! :)
i would pick up on one point however, which i think could help you.
I felt that there was a little too much going on in this chapter. Maybe focus on one or two things in more detail and lose some of the irrelevant points. As a reader, people don't want to hear everything at once and i think it will benefit you if you give little bits of information out throughout the entire story. that way, the character remains more of a mystery. :)
I really liked your opening and i think that it instaantly interested the reader. :)
Good work and i hope i have been of some help! :)




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Thu Sep 04, 2008 3:02 pm
Reuben A says...



What is the 'Gulrich'? I think you should tell us a bit more about Alsana and her three friends and who selected them and why. But other than that, I think you write brilliantly.




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Thu Aug 28, 2008 12:48 am
Kaylyn says...



It looks great so far. I like reading short chapters because it is easy to critique. It looks like you have taken care of the grammar mistakes. Great job, and keep going. I am off to read your other chapters. By the way, could you please read mine?




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Fri Jul 06, 2007 6:22 pm
Charlie II wrote a review...



Interesting storyline. I really like the ideas in it though perhaps it could do with a little editing:

Alsana was shocked by the news. She couldn’t believe that it was she and her three closest friends that were chosen to kill the Gulrich. She was only a simple farm maiden who cooked and cleaned for the Lords and Ladies of the village. Why pick her? [s]That question could never be answered[/s].

First, scrap the last sentence. It doesn't help and simply goes over old ground. Obviously it can be answered, by the people who picked her!
Next, consider delaying the 'news'. Build some suspense before you give it away. You do want to hook your readers with this first bit so it better be engrossing. I personally would move the sentence in red to the end of the paragraph and maybe shorten it to give it more impact.

Alsana was not the fairest of woman, small in height with soft, long auburn hair that swayed as she walked. She wore rather plain clothes, a forest green dress and tiny walking shoes that never uttered a sound. [s]On the whole, she was just ordinary[/s].

Next paragraph:
1. I think you mean ‘women’.
2. I love the description of the shoes. Personification makes them so real!
3. And then you have the last sentence. What a shame. After a brilliant description you sum up the entire paragraph in one sentence. You really don’t need to! You’ve given us the ordinary image already (shown without telling) so don’t waste words, you don’t need to!

A sparrow circled the sky at dawn, symbolising a new day.

I read this and my first thought was ‘Whuh?’. I don’t really get it. If it symbolises the new day, you don’t need to tell us. Even so, rather than getting rid of it I reckon you could put a much better phrase in like ‘chirruping in’ or ‘heralding the beginning of’ etc.

She padded along the concrete floor towards her dressing chamber.

They have concrete? Didn’t really strike me as the era of concrete.

Alsana rubbed her eyes as she slumped into her sorry excuse for a bath.

Slumped is good! Lovely use of the word. The slang, however, is not so good. Try to find a better way of putting it without using modern clichés.

“How will I get through this?”

Ok. I edited this bit to be grammatically correct. I’d recommend looking at the ‘punctuation in speech’ guide which I’d post a link for on the site if I could remember where it was.

It was her mother’s, who had past away just as Alsana turned three.

You mean ‘passed’. Beware, however, that euphemisms (words that make bad things seem nicer) will not give as much impact as saying ‘she died’ will. Don’t compromise your dramatic moment as a writer by using a phrase that isn’t as dramatic.

She packed some essentials, food, clothing and some extra belongings and then straightened herself and strutted through the front door.

The last line of any chapter/part/episode/epic/joke/etc is always the most important. Well, almost as important as the first line. The last image you leave us with is the one of Alsana ‘strutting’ away. Very nice, gives us a bit of an insight into her attitude.


And altogether? Very good. Your character is flawed, I can see that, and that is good. Omnipotent masters that are confident in every move they make are boring. Your character, however, is interesting. You leave us with a lot of unanswered questions which are useful hooks to keep us reading. Hopefully the next part will be as good as the first.

DarkLight




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Fri Jul 06, 2007 4:23 pm
Firestalker says...



Too short and boring. Continue it and i will praise and critique you.




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Wed Apr 06, 2005 11:34 am
Lollipop says...



Thanks for the tips. I just killed the prologue*die prologue die!* sorry about that heehee!
~Lollipop~




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Wed Apr 06, 2005 2:31 am
Griffinkeeper wrote a review...



I agree with Reuchieru, kill the prologue.

Besides, it gives away the ending, which is bad for prologues. A prologue gives the reader an idea of what happened before hand.

On second thought, Prologues in general serve no purpose. Most people skip over them. Unless it builds suspense it is worthless.




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Tue Apr 05, 2005 10:47 pm
Rei says...



Not bad, but kill the prologue. I really don't think you need it. There are much better ways of getting out that exposition.




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Sat Mar 19, 2005 8:26 pm
Lollipop says...



The second chapter will be in soon :lol:




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Fri Mar 18, 2005 7:14 pm
ohhewwo wrote a review...



It's an interesting story. Very creative and original, although I don't know what emma is talking about with the plot.

The actual writing was rather . . . plain, though. But, over all, I think you should keep working on it. It's definately got some potential.




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Fri Mar 18, 2005 5:42 pm
Lollipop says...



Thanks emz!




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Fri Mar 18, 2005 5:40 pm
Emma says...



Yey nice story, and I think i know where you got the plot from! :wink:





But even the worst decisions we make don't necessarily remove us from the circle of humanity.
— Wes Moore, The Other Wes Moore