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16+ Language Violence

As Yet Untitled (Beginning of a novel)

by MissGangamash


Warning: This work has been rated 16+ for language and violence.

(Author note: I have the bare bones of an idea for this story but just wanted to know if this is a good opening. Does it grab your attention and want to read more? Is it a good place for the story to start? Feedback VERY welcome!)

The frost made the dirt tough as cement. Ainsleigh tried to keep it moving, never letting it settle for too long. It didn’t help that the dense trees refused to let the light of the pale moon guide her shovel.

She swayed suddenly, the weight of the packed shovel almost toppling her into the hole she was filling. Letting out a horrified shriek, she twisted bodily away and landed hard on her chest on the ground. The frost bit into her cheek and she rolled onto her back with a grunt. The branches spun above her, making dizzying patterns in the sky.

“Why…” she muttered to herself. “Why did I think this was a good idea?”

But there was no time to waste. She needed to finish the job before morning. Simply because she figured that the severity of the situation would hit her by the time the sun rose, making her incapable of doing anything else but sob. Struggling back to her feet, she grabbed the discarded shovel and continued filling in the hole. Once she found a melodic rhythm, she began to actually enjoy the motion of twisting, filling, turning, dropping, twisting, filling, turning, dropping. Her hips swayed from side to side as she hummed a jaunty tune in time to the beat of the motions.

Her eyes had grown accustomed to the darkness and so when she noticed a shape wandering between the trees before her, she paused and squinted to try and focus. Perhaps it was the branches creating shapes again. But then the breeze changed as if altered by movement. A shiver ran up her back and she shook head to clear it. Just a few more shovels full and she’d be finished. Best not to get distracted. It was probably just someone using the woods as a shortcut home.

A low grumbling travelled through the wind. She patted her stomach. It had been a while since she’d last eaten. The night had been a rather eventful one. Food hadn’t really been on her mind. Drink, on the other hand…

Spotting her bottle nestled within a curl of nearby roots, she swiped it up and drained the rest of the golden brown liquid, gritting her teeth against the glass as it burned its way down her throat.

She was pummelled from the back, the force sending the liquor rushing back up and out her nose and mouth. Her face met the packed dirt once again. Coughing and spluttering, Ainsleigh pushed herself up onto her elbows but the pressure returned to her back. Feet. One on each shoulder blade. Then there was stabbing pain, like a bunch of little knives slicing through her thin, canvas jacket. No, not knives. Claws.

Blood welled, hot against her cold-numbed skin. Then the ringing started. No, not now. The high-pitched squeal pierced her brain as viciously as the claws raked her skin. She jerked her body, wiggling wildly so the animal lost purchase. It seemed to work, the pressure lifted. She caught her breath but then the claws lanced through her side, the swipe so powerful it flipped her own her back.

A wolf. There was a wolf on top of her. Canines as long as her little finger dripped saliva onto her chest. Its muzzle so close it was all she could see. Its breath was hot and foul and consumed her. Something thick clogged her throat. She wanted to scream but thought she might choke on her own vomit. The cold wind lapped up her side and she was suddenly brightly aware of the deep would on her side. She shuddered beneath the animal as it leaned closer, its wet nose almost touching hers.

Her fingers spread over the dirt, shifting carefully from side to side and her heart leapt in her chest as her fingertips felt the cool glass of her bottle. She rolled it into her grip and swivelled it so the neck of the bottle fit perfectly in her grasp. The wolf was still sniffing her, a low rumbling vibrating deep in its throat mixing with the ringing in her ears. It snarled, teeth bared, and she reacted. She swung out her arm, smashing the bottle against the trunk beside her then drove the broke edges into the animal’s side. It howled in pain and jerked away, bounding off her and dropping to its side.

Heart bounding, she looked down at the bloody bottle in her hand and then to the wolf. Its coat was dark, mottled brown and black. The fur at its shoulder looked slick and wet. It stumbled back to its feet and she caught a flash of amber eyes before it let out a yelp of pain and limped away into the trees.

A wolf, she mouthed then sucked in a pained breath as the wound in her side was disturbed. The woods had returned to silence, the ringing must have calmed mid-tussle. That thing had been huge, easily spanning the length of her. Were all wolves that big? She’d only ever seen them from afar. Most definitely had never been attacked by one.

She should move, get home. No, not home. She couldn’t go home. What had been her plan? Had she even had one? Her head felt heavy. Her body felt heavily. Muscles like liquid, mind full of dirt. Her eyes ached. She couldn’t keep them open. Wet palm. Tacky. Hurts. Blood. The bottle must have cut her. But not just her blood. The wolfs blood, too.

I just stabbed a fucking wolf.

A chuckle escaped her but then she winced. Right. I’m wounded. She didn’t want to look. She couldn’t look. Her head wouldn’t lift off the ground. Just attempting to move sent hot bile shooting up her throat.

She could just lie here for a while. Rest it off. Yes, that sounds nice.

“Fucking hell.”

The voice was low and gruff. Ainsleigh felt her lips form a sneer. Her cheeks hurt. But in that numb way, like she wasn’t really feeling it. There was a stiffness to everything. She tried to open her eyes. After several attempts, she managed. Frost made her eyelashes sparkle. Too bright. It was dizzying. Her stomach roiled and she rolled over in time to hurl stringy, water into the dirt. Her whole body convulsed with sudden blinding pain.

“Try not to move too much,” said the voice. Male. Above her. She couldn’t focus her eyes enough to see who it belonged to. “Shit, that looks bad.”

It felt bad. She was frozen all over but her side felt like it was doused in flames. Dropping back onto her back, she let out a soft groan and felt herself drifting back to sleep.

“No.” Something hit her face. She tried to lift her hands to swat it away but her arms weren’t responding. “You have to stay awake.” He slapped her again.

Stop slapping me. She tried to say it but it came out as a guttural gurgle.

“You’re not gonna die.”

She scrunched up her face. Yes, of course I’m not gonna die.

“What are you even doing in the woods anyway?”

She tried to shrug. She managed a little.

“Are you drunk?”

She grinned, coughed, turned and spat.

“Getting drunk alone in the woods. Classy.” There was silence for a moment. Even though Ainsleigh’s eyes were closed, she sensed his worry. “You were alone, right?”

She nodded. He sighed in relief. Why did that matter?

“Okay. You can’t stay here.”

You told me not to move.

Rough skin against her bloody hand. “Jeez, you’re freezing. Okay. Right. Okay.”

He seemed to be gearing himself up for something.

“Can you walk?”

At that, she managed to open her eyes long enough to glare at him. He was tall, or maybe it was because she was lying on the ground. Dark hair and a scruff of beard. His thick, wool-lined lumberjack fleece looked warm.

His lips formed a thin line, contemplating his options as he sized her up.

“I’m going to help you up, kay?”

Slowly, she tested her arms and was able to use them to push herself up onto her elbows. Her shirt pulled at her wound and the ground tilted.

“Steady.” He hands were on her back, keeping her upright. “This is gonna suck real bad but once I get you to mine I can clean your wound and you’ll feel much better, I promise.”

She wanted to kick up a fuss about a strange man propositioning her in the middle of the woods right next to… No, she was in far too much pain to decline the offer.

The minutes seemed to stretch out for far too long, but finally, Ainsleigh was upright. Her half dead arm had been slung over the stranger’s shoulders and he was keeping her close to him, mindful of his hand placement against her side. He was so warm, the heat of his body soothing other aches and pains she hadn’t realised she was suffering with.

Slowly and carefully, they both made their way through the trees. He kept her glued to his side, making her steps match his and murmuring words of encouragement when she faltered. Tears sprung into her eyes at his gentle tone, but she forced them away.

“Do you live far?” Her own voice surprised her. It was weak and croaky.

“Oh, she does speak.”

Ainsleigh sent him another glare. He smirked. His eyes were brown, like dark chocolate. Kind eyes.

“My cabin’s not far, no. We’ll be there soon.”

He wasn’t lying. After a few more stumbling steps, she caught sight of a one storey log cabin within a small clearing. Crisp orange and yellow leaves covered the ground around it, making it look like a scene from a fairy tale.

Ainsleigh was propped up against the wall as he unlocked and opened the door. Despite how careful he was, the wound stung with every step and she was incredibly thankful when he helped her up onto a large wooden table and reclined her onto her back.

“I’ll get the fire going. You’re still freezing.”

Ainsleigh was barely listening, she was just thankful to be lying down again.

“Here.” Something clonked down beside her head. A glass of water. “You’re probably dehydrated.”

He helped her bring it to her lips and she drained the whole thing. That was the best damn water she had ever tasted. He smiled, refilled it and helped her drain it again.

“Better?”

She nodded.

“Right. I’m gonna have to get you out of your shirt.”

And so it begins.

He pulled back the side of her jacket and pulled a face at the mess underneath.

“Yep. Your shirt is nicely matted up in there. Do you want something to bite on?”

She shook her head. “Just do it.”

He helped her out of her jacket sleeves, and then began to work on her shirt buttons. Once that was also open, he sighed.

“Of course you’re wearing another layer.”

“It’s cold.”

He grabbed a heavy looking pair of scissors and sliced down the front of her t-shirt. She sucked in a breath as the cold metal touched the skin of her stomach.

Once the top half of her was in nothing but a bra, he covered her with a blanket but left her wound exposed. He was completely professional throughout the whole ordeal, his eyes never lingering for longer than they should.

The wound was nasty. She couldn’t see all of it, but could make out three deep gouges running across her ribs to her hip. The blood leaking out was thick and almost black. Ainsleigh had seen a lot of blood in her life- a lot of her own blood- but her vision still swam.

The stranger cleaned her hand first, clearing the blood away with a cloth doused in something that made her cuts tingle. There wasn’t much damaged. Just a shallow slice across her palm.

Feeling far too comfortable and relaxed in the company of a complete stranger, Ainsleigh closed her eyes and hoped for sleep as the stranger moved onto the more taxing job. The cleaning stung but she managed to grit her teeth through it. The stitches on the other hand… she may have thrown some insults at him as he stabbed his huge needle and course thread through her swollen, tender flesh.

By the time he was finished, Ainsleigh was drenched head to toe in sweat. Her short hair felt like a slick cap stuck to her scalp.

He passed her more water, tipping the glass to her lips.

“Are you hungry?”

Her stomach growled in response and his lips lifted in a half smile, before he disappeared from view. He had given her pills for the pain but she knew they wouldn’t do much. Maybe food would help.

“What’s your name?” she asked the ceiling.

He was moving around behind her head. She could hear him shuffling and clinking things.

“Finch,” he offered simply. His voice was still a little gruff, but it had soft edges. Like he willed himself to not sound too rough. “Yours?”

“Ainsleigh.” She looked down her body and flicked the blanket aside to see what he had done. Her side was securely bandaged. He had struggling to manoeuvre her while wrapping it around her body, clearly trying his best to not touch any exposed skin he didn’t have to.

She must have fallen asleep again because she awoke to the smell of smoked bacon.

“It’s best you sit up to eat. I’ll help you to the sofa. It’s cushioned. Should be more comfortable.” He wrapped her arm around his shoulders and she was moved from the table to a bench-like sofa kitted out with a multitude of thick cushioning.

When he was happy she was settled, he dropped into the armchair opposite. A round coffee table separated them, too low to eat off. He passed her a plate of bacon, egg and beans from the kitchenette at his back and winced as she took her plate. Relaxing back against the chair, he rolled both shoulders and then his neck.

“I’m heavy,” Ainsleigh stated, keeping the plate level with one hand while stabbing her fork into the bacon with the other.

“No, it’s not that. Bad posture. I must have been hunched up when I was sorting your wound.”

“Thank you, for all this. You didn’t have to.”

“I did,” he replied quickly, and with such finality in his tone that she didn’t dare question him. After a short silence, he seemed uncomfortable by the tense atmosphere. He shuffled in his chair a little, scraped the remainder of beans around his plate and then set his eyes on her. “Are you gonna tell me why you were drinking alone in the woods?”

Mouth full of food, she shook her head.

“What happened?” He nodded to the bandages beneath the blanket.

“Wolf.” The memory of its huge fangs made her shudder. “Huge fucking thing.”

Finch’s jaw set before he busied himself with finishing his plate.

The cabin was a decent size. They were sat beside the big hearth, giving out so much heat that a fresh load of sweat was tricking down Ainsleigh’s neck and disappearing beneath the blanket she still hugged close. Beyond the sofa was the dining table she had lain on to get fixed up, with two sturdy wooden chairs tucked beside it. The bedroom space at the other end consisted of a large, unmade bed, a wooden wardrobe and a side table. There was a door at the other side of the bed, which she guessed led to the washroom.

“There was a shovel where I found you.” He twisted his body and placed his empty plate on the counter. He then collected hers and did the same. “Were you digging up something? Or burying something?”

Ainsleigh tensed and winced a little at the pull of her stitches. “You ask a lot of questions.”

“You’re in my house.”

“You brought me here.”

They both watched each other, brows low. Then his lips twitched and he smirked. He seemed to do that a lot. Leaning back in his chair, he shrugged, accepting defeat.

The food had been good. Ainsleigh could feel her head clearing. After years of practice, hangovers barely affected now but they still left a cloggy fogginess to her senses.

The only noise in the cabin was the crackling of the fire. It was pleasant. Feeling flushed, she loosened the blanket but it slipped off both her shoulders, exposing more than she had planned. Finch got to his feet and crossed over to the wardrobe. He pulled out a checked, long-sleeved shirt, with a similar red and grey colouring as his jacket. Ainsleigh was grateful when he passed it to her and he turned to let her change.

“Done.”

He looked back and smiled softly, his dark eyes brightening as he watched her rolling up the cuffs.

“Your eye.” She hadn’t noticed it before, but at the top of his left eye, above the pupil, was a slice of blue. It looked like a tiny piece of the sky.

“Oh, yeah.” He dropped back into the armchair and carefully peeled himself out of his jacket. Underneath, he wore a simple black t-shirt. He groaned a little, rolling his shoulders again. They were round, his biceps straining a little against his sleeves. He wasn’t thickly built, but he looked strong, agile. Gesturing to his eye, he shrugged, “It’s just a birth defect.”

“Your Gift is that you have a pretty eye? That’s lucky.”

“Did you just call me pretty?” He arched a dark eyebrow.

She glared at him until his face softened.

He laughed. “It’s not a Gift. It doesn’t do anything special. It’s simply just a birth defect. My father has it, too.”

A heavy silence followed as he watched her, assessed her. Ainsleigh realised her mistake. She shouldn’t have brought up Gifts. It was an unwritten rule that you didn’t ask someone if they had a Gift outright. But Finch continued to be ever the gentleman and eased, seemingly content with letting the unasked question linger between them.

“Do you have anywhere you need to be?” he asked instead.

Ainsleigh hugged herself, winced, and uncrossed her arms. “No, I don’t. Not really.”

She thought of her father, coming home and finding no one there. He would be so confused. But she couldn’t go back. She couldn’t face him after what she did.

“Well, you can stay here, if you like. I’ll take the sofa.”

“I don’t want to impose.”

He shook his head. “I need to keep an eye on your wound. Make sure it’s not infected.”

Why do you care so much? But Ainsleigh just smiled in return.

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Wed Mar 30, 2022 6:11 pm
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RandomTalks wrote a review...



Hi MissGangamah!

I saw your chapter in the Green Room, and decided to bump it out!

This was a very interesting first chapter. It had its ups and down but it does its job and introduces us to this new world you have established here. I like the characters so far and I enjoyed the dialogue between the two of them. This was a intriguing start to the story, and I can't wait to see where you take this.

The frost made the dirt tough as cement.

You began the story right in the middle of a scene. Usually, they make for very successful hooks as the readers get involved in the story from the very go instead of moving through unnecessary preambles first. However, for it to work, you need to have a very strong opening that at once pulls the readers in. Or else, they will just be confused and unable to catch up with what is going on, they will lose interest in the rest of the story. From the very beginning, it is very evident that our main character has done something unthinkable and is currently trying to cover it up in the woods. I would even go as far as assuming she is burying something in the ground to hide the traces of her crime. That sets a mystery right there, as the readers at once want to figure out what she did.

However, my one complaint will be that it did not feel very much like the beginning to a novel. It could just be me, but I felt like there was a chapter missing before this or even a preface that gives us some idea of where this story could lead. Your opening has purpose and intention, but it falls short to really arrest someone's attention. Because we have not yet emotionally connected with our character, we are not very concerned with what happens to her. She could be the protagonist or the antagonist, and the first half of the chapter does not go far in making us connect with her. I think if you introduce the character first and then establish the scene, it would give us more content to actually attach ourselves to this character and make us stay with her.

She needed to finish the job before morning.

Something very shady is obviously going on here, and we start to hear more from the main character. She seems like a well-stablished character and I like how she has a distinctive personality that sets her apart. She is not the usual good, honest MCs that you meet in novels. She is quirky, a little snappy and has a good sense of humor. The way we meet her instantly sets us on our guard and we realize this is not someone ideally perfect that we can idolize. She has her own issues and that makes room for a compelling character development throughout the novel. I am looking forward to see her change and grow and its the journey of this development that usually makes novels such a beautiful experience for me. That said, she is definitely a likeable and relatable person. I cannot figure her out just yet, but I do know that she does not have my implicit trust as our narrator of the story.

A wolf. There was a wolf on top of her.

By this point, I was a little confused as I could not guess the exact genre of the story. After the initial introduction, I had assumed that this is a young adult mystery fiction. But the sudden attack of the wolf threw me off a bit, as I could not understand the purpose behind this plot point in the very first chapter of the novel. And later on, we learn about the 'gifts' and that introduces a supernatural element and fantasy into the mix. As a result, it becomes a little difficult to comprehend exactly what we can expect to find in this novel. For example, we don't even know Ainsleigh's age. At first, I thought she was a teenager, but as I moved on with the story, she started feeling a little older. Its information like these that you need to set straight with your introduction, so that the readers are able to imagine and recreate the scenes as well. Because this story had a direct and hurried start, you miss out on this chance of world-building and we had to pick up clues along the way in order to paint the full picture.

“You were alone, right?”

She nodded. He sighed in relief. Why did that matter?

I thought it was a little strange how Finch just happened to come across Ainsleigh after the wolf attack and why she simply did nit ask him to take her to the hospital instead of his cabin hidden in the woods. I wonder what he had been doing in the middle of the woods in the dark, and why it was important for him to know if she had been alone. It immediately set off my warning bells even though he turned out to be a much likeable and helpful character. At the same time I keep wondering what secret of his own he had been busy burying in the woods and I realized that none of these characters are very truthful or clean. Behind their charm and sass, it feels like they both carry hidden agendas. And because they are both very aware of this, they respect a finely drawn line between them and do not prod the other with questions they won't answer. This added secrecy does make the story even more intriguing as, along with the plot, we are trying to figure out our characters as well.

It was an unwritten rule that you didn’t ask someone if they had a Gift outright.

This concept of Gifts is very interesting and I like how we kind of stumbled into it. During the first mention, I had simply assumed that she meant the blue in Finch's left eye was a gift from God, as in a physical attribute that is very rare. It took me a second to pick up the fact that they were talking about something else altogether. Here, the story changes its genre again, and while it is not necessarily a bad change, it was just unexpected. It does add new layers to the plot and we grow even more dubious of this world you have introduced. I wonder what Ainsleigh's gift is and why the concept was such a sore topic of discussion for Finch.

“Did you just call me pretty?” He arched a dark eyebrow.

I am not sure where you intend to take the relationship between the two characters, but I thoroughly enjoyed the interactions between them. I was wondering why Ainsleigh was so trusting of this stranger, allowing him to take her to his cabin and heal her and feed her, but I guess it does not matter in the bigger picture. Finch does not mean any immediate harm and his hospitality was generous and appreciated. They are both witty people and I enjoyed the constant back and forth between them. It came naturally, and the dynamics between the two characters is interesting, to say the least. I am very interested to see where you take this and what comes out of this accidental and eventful meeting in the woods. It certainly was the type of first introduction one cannot forget and I am sure they left a strong first impression.

Overall, this was a very intriguing first chapter. We have a potential plot here, and some solid characters. Of course, everything else is still wrapped up in the black shroud of mystery and secrets but I enjoyed this ambiguous start to the story.

Keep writing and have a great day!






Hello! Thank you for checking this out! I have been working on it since I posted and reworked a few things now that I have a clearer view of where I want to take the story.

A big part of Ainsleigh's story and character development comes from what she's buried in the woods so that's why I started to story there. Also I personally love novels that just jump right into the story.

My main issue is genre. With my writing, I don't like pigeon-holing my stories into certain genres but at the same time I know I need to a little bit when it comes to me publishing. At the moment, this will be a dystopian novel set in a world like ours but with differences (the Gifts.) The best thing I can compare it to is the film Never Let Me Go which is sci-fi/dystopian but only very slightly so - a great genre-bending film. It's a sort of 'what would the world be like if it was slightly different' which is the same case for my vampire novels.

Ainsleigh and Finch are both twenty-three. It's mentioned in the first chapter of my rewrite.

I'm glad you like Ainsleigh. My base idea of her was make a female character with the same characteristics and attributes that people seem to like in male characters but not in female ones - like being a gruff loner who drinks to forget and is clearly dealing with a lot of issues. I think the way people react to her will say a lot. I personally love her but like you said, she is most definitely not a character to aspire to.

Ainsleigh is a little wary of Finch at the start but she's drunk and injured so she's not really in a place to argue, but I've added more about her concern in the rewrite.

The story is going to focus on Ainsleigh, Finch and another main character so I'm glad you like their dynamic from this chapter alone. I'm still ironing out some details about the overall plot but I think once I've finished uploading 'Fool Without A Master' then this should be good to go :D

Thanks again for reading!



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Sat Jan 22, 2022 8:40 pm
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MaybeAndrew wrote a review...



Andrew here with your harsh review!
FIRST IMPRESSIONS:
I liked the second half of the chapter much more than the first, Finch is very likable, the conversation is fun, and the reference to gifts is interesting. The first half also had its strengths, the question of what the hole is being the largest. I generally dislike super angsty main characters, but I think I might be in the minority there so take what I say next as a mere opinion: Sometimes I feel we as writers can substitute interesting character writing for making them super flawed and angry. Chuck some major vices on there (alcoholism) and now it's **gritty** and then throw on some deep-seated rage and distrust with the world, and now we have a **realistic** character motivation!
But, once again, I seem to be in the minority here. Though in general, audiences want nothing more than likable main characters. Make them as actually morally flawed as you want, but we need to like them. (Tony Stark is a prime example of this.)
My other main comment is that this first chapter gives me literally no idea what the genre is. This could have its strengths in the mystery, but if I pick up a book and I don't know what I'm getting into, the likelihood of me continuing to read is low.
I've heard there's this rule in publishing that you should know the genre by the end of the first paragraph. I don't if it needs to be that fast, but I think generally it's good to know by the end of the first chapter. That way, I can correctly prepare my expectations. Everyone would feel cheated if they were halfway through a teen love story and some goblins showed up to tell us the main character was the chosen one. Or halfway through a gritty sci-fi, animals start talking, or in the middle of a mystery, our main character abandons the case to chase after their true love. It would feel like a basic betrayal of audience trust. I don't need to know everything about the story obviously, but if this is a Dystopian novel, maybe a line or two about "The time before" just to get us in the right headspace would be helpful. Or if it's fantasy, maybe try a real strong fantasy trope word (magic, sword, king, dragon etc etc) or paint a little more of the picture of the world. I still know so little, I don't even have much to wonder about.

But into specifics!

The frost made the dirt tough as cement. Ainsleigh tried to keep it moving, never letting it settle for too long. It didn’t help that the dense trees refused to let the light of the pale moon guide her shovel.

This is an interesting and well-written opening, but not much real power behind it. Especially because by the end of the chapter it feels like we have forgotten about the hole.
Simply because she figured that the severity of the situation would hit her by the time the sun rose, making her incapable of doing anything else but sob

clunky
She was pummelled from the back, the force sending the liquor rushing back up and out her nose and mouth. Her face met the packed dirt once again. Coughing and spluttering, Ainsleigh pushed herself up onto her elbows but the pressure returned to her back. Feet. One on each shoulder blade. Then there was stabbing pain, like a bunch of little knives slicing through her thin, canvas jacket. No, not knives. Claws.

Blood welled, hot against her cold-numbed skin. Then the ringing started. No, not now. The high-pitched squeal pierced her brain as viciously as the claws raked her skin. She jerked her body, wiggling wildly so the animal lost purchase. It seemed to work, the pressure lifted. She caught her breath but then the claws lanced through her side, the swipe so powerful it flipped her own her back.

A wolf. There was a wolf on top of her. Canines as long as her little finger dripped saliva onto her chest. Its muzzle so close it was all she could see. Its breath was hot and foul and consumed her. Something thick clogged her throat. She wanted to scream but thought she might choke on her own vomit. The cold wind lapped up her side and she was suddenly brightly aware of the deep would on her side. She shuddered beneath the animal as it leaned closer, its wet nose almost touching hers.

This interaction with the wolf had moments where it was very strong and others that I think were the weakest in the chapter. I would advise editing it. It is difficult to tell what's going on and makes our main character seem so passive it almost breaks believability.
But, there are moments of extreme desperate terror here, which I like as well
DUNNO
Most definitely had never been attacked by one.

I'm pretty sure this is a sentence fragment.
The minutes seemed to stretch out for far too long, but finally, Ainsleigh was upright. Her half dead arm had been slung over the stranger’s shoulders and he was keeping her close to him, mindful of his hand placement against her side. He was so warm, the heat of his body soothing other aches and pains she hadn’t realised she was suffering with.

This is clunky, and I think speaks to my biggest problem with this whole section... the way our character acts, personality-wise, and medically, seems quite inconsistent. One moment she's lost so much blood she's falling asleep, the next she's walking. One moment she's sarcastic and unconcerned, and the next resistant.
Maybe I just don't understand how blood loss works, but this whole section (wolf to meeting guy) feels off to me and is the part of the chapter most in need of editing.
Oh, and while we are here, that's half-dead, and realized.
But it once again seems to be playing the angsty alcohol blood card too hard, and not leaning into what actually makes this story different - you're world and your characters. I end this section not one step closer to understanding the story than after reading the first paragraph.
He grabbed a heavy looking pair of scissors and sliced down the front of her t-shirt. She sucked in a breath as the cold metal touched the skin of her stomach.

Once the top half of her was in nothing but a bra, he covered her with a blanket but left her wound exposed. He was completely professional throughout the whole ordeal, his eyes never lingering for longer than they should.

Another example of how this chapter is confusing genre-wise. T-shirt and bra? Quite modern - as most fantasy worlds tend to be more old-fashioned. Actually, before looking at the genre, I assumed it wasn't fantasy because, besides the gifts, there were no major suggestions of fantasy.
But I do really like this man's respect. It is a very fast way to establish that he is a moral, principled man, and a likable one at that.
Feeling far too comfortable and relaxed in the company of a complete stranger, Ainsleigh closed her eyes and hoped for sleep as the stranger moved onto the more taxing job. The cleaning stung but she managed to grit her teeth through it. The stitches on the other hand… she may have thrown some insults at him as he stabbed his huge needle and course thread through her swollen, tender flesh.

Clunky
A heavy silence followed as he watched her, assessed her. Ainsleigh realised her mistake. She shouldn’t have brought up Gifts. It was an unwritten rule that you didn’t ask someone if they had a Gift outright. But Finch continued to be ever the gentleman and eased, seemingly content with letting the unasked question linger between them.

Ooooh, some world info. Upon first reading, I assumed gifts were something kinda like superpowers, but I now suspect it is closer to some form of magical ability. Either way, besides the likability of Finch, it is the most interesting part of this chapter.


Overall, I think the biggest problem with the chapter is that it feels confused. It doesn't seem to know what it wants to be, and as result uses cheap tricks like gore and sass to entertain. Neither of which are bad, but I think can be shallow on there one. I see no major purpose in the wolf, besides getting us to meet finch, and doesn't pique my interest at all, or raise any questions. It is merely an object to prove our character (unhealthy) toughness and to get her into a position of vulnerability. I hope that later in the story it will turn out to be more than just a wolf, but by my read, nothing suggests that now.
I think maybe using the Attack to communicate something about the world and the who is character is one would be advisable. If wolfs are a big problem, say that, if something else is, have that hurt her instead.
I also have no particular love for our main character yet, she is funny in a couple of places and seems *very* broken, but I can't say now if she is particularly interesting or likable. It seems too early in the game to know, and her personality so far has only been shown by angsty brokenness which is something I personally have little attraction to if it is left to itself.
But that's just my two cents! Hope it helped!
For the thing I do like, I would say that it was definitely interesting enough to get me to read it, if I'm being honest, many things I read on YWS are a bit of a chore, but I would have finished this chapter even if I wasn't going to leave a review. Our main character is funny, (I do like that about here) the hole is interesting, and you do a very good job at building that gritty feeling near the beginning. I feel for our main character in that regard.
Finch was likable, the idea of gifts interesting, and the future relationship between these two characters something I look forward to seeing pan out.
Thanks, and keep writing,
Andrew






Thank you for reading!

I'm thinking this story is going to mainly focus on these Gifts and how they are not 'gifts' at all, because they actually ruin peoples lives. Ainsleigh being one of these people, so yes, she is angsty, but for good reason.

Ainsleigh's character is actually going to be a bit of a social experiment for me because I feel like a lot of 'unlikable' traits are considered endearing and people like that the character is flawed... if they're a man. Give a female character those same flaws and they are hated. I like that you brought up Tony Stark because he was part of my inspiration. People love him, but hate Carol Danvers for the same reasons.

I completely get you on the struggling to figure out the genre, because that is something I am also struggling with. I like reading and writing very low fantasy/ urban fantasy so I'm leaning more towards that. Possibly a world similar to the Muggle world in Harry Potter. Like ours, but not. And possibly less technologically advanced. My strength in writing tends to be using fantastical elements to shed light on very human and real world issues. Which is what I am planning to do with this piece.

Ainsleigh losing consciousness is more linked to her alcohol consumption rather than blood loss. But also a heady mix of the two. I drew inspiration from when I was extremely intoxicated and split my hand open, needing stitches. Her being sarcastic and unconcerned also links to the drink, and also that this is very much not the first time she has been incredibly injured (why she mentions that she's seen a lot of her own blood.) At this point, it's second nature to her.

Also, 'realised' is just the British spelling.

The wolf is actually Finch! :D But I'm glad you didn't pick up on that because it would be a later reveal. I hinted at it quite a bit but made sure to not make it too obvious. But that's why he says 'you're not gonna die' (reassuring himself,) why he asked if she was alone (could have injured more/had witnesses,) why his shoulder hurts (he heals faster but is still injured from her stabbing him) and why he's so adamant on making sure she heals.

I have a basic idea of what Finch's backstory is going to be but I'm still figuring out whether he and Ainsleigh have crossed paths before or not, so I'm not sure if she would be aware of a wolf-man before this encounter or not.

Even though you don't like broken characters, I'm glad you still found the story interesting and would like to read on. I completely understand that flawed main characters are not everyone's cup of tea, but I am really looking forward to creating this one and I'm hoping she will appeal to the right audience.

I didn't want Finch to come across as the stereotypical 'alpha male' who tend to just be a bit unsettling and creepy in my opinion, so I'm happy you liked him and from this chapter alone you can tell he is actually a decent person. I wanted there to be a very stark contrast between human-Finch and wolf-Finch.

Thank you for the detailed review, it is very much appreciated! I've still got a lot to figure out with this story and your insight has really helped.

Thanks again!



MaybeAndrew says...


I agree that flawed characters are really interesting, one of my favorite books of all time (and also like critically acclaimed as one of the best) The Brother Karmozov has *deeply* flawed characters, and the way they make this work is, A) their flawed characters are flawed in really interesting original ways, B) they have points that make them likable and redeemable, which makes them even more interesting because you care about them so their flaws hurt all the more, C) The brothers Karamazov, though one of the most critically acclaimed books of all time, doesn't sell very well, cuz it's a hard read, partly because a lot of the characters are terrible people.
So I agree, and I'm really interested in how you play out peoples flaws, but I think that a good thing to remember is that flawed characters are made more interesting by also being redeemable and liked. That's a really hard line to walk, so I wish you luck there.
PS. I don't know if you've heard of the save the cat strategy, but if not it's an amazing hack to get even the *worst* characters likable.
Thanks, and keep writing,
Andrew





I don't want Ainsleigh to be an unlikable character. She's just a person with a vice that helps her cope with her mentally and physically abusive mother. Best person I can compare her to is Klaus in Umbrella Academy. And same thing with him, would be be so beloved if the character was a woman?

She's going to be pretty complex character. She has super strength but is afraid of her own power because her mother has made her feel like a monster for it. She's had to grow up too fast and is incredibly vulnerable, especially when it comes to her love interest later on in the story.

I really wanted to play around with the idea of someone being physically incredibly powerful but mentally not able to cope with it.



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Moonglade says...



This is a pretty good start to the story. If you want to reveal a lot of secrets along the way to shock the readers constantly this is probably the best place to start. Is this a romance or is it about the wolf? If it's about the wolf I can suggest a few names. "Animal/The Animal." If the wolf is maybe peculiarly black because that is an American myth that I saw on TV somewhere it could be "Black As A Summer's Night."






Thank you! Yes, I want both characters to be very secretive towards each other and revealing their backstories slowly throughout the story. There will be romance within the story but I think it's going to have more of a dystopian feel to it. Thanks for reading and your suggestions :D




Keep your face always toward the sunshine - and the shadows will fall beyond you.
— Walt Whitman