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Chapter 1: Rain, Reign, Stay All Day

by Vil, Stringbean


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

Michael quietly stood on the balcony overlooking Christine City. There was a gentle breeze, cool to the touch, and the sky was beginning to darken with clouds.

More rain.

He softly smiled and turned around, going back into his well-organized room. There was a massive television built into the wall across from the bed, and there was a large walk-in closet. The dark blue carpeted floors matched the silver-blue of the walls. The ebony banisters firmly held white curtains around his bed. Other bits of furniture were scattered about the room.

Michael moved to one of the side tables and delicately lifted a porcelain tea cup to his lips, drinking his now luke-warm tea with grace. There was never any time to be lax-- meetings with foreign politicians, dealing with "republicans," keeping up with the nonsense about a rebellion to the south in Misericord. But he remained firm, dealing with it all as he had been taught-- like a monarch of Belecthoria.

Already, he could hear the starts of a pitter-patter outside, and he smiled all the more. All summer long, Belecthoria had gone without a drop of rain. It had come out of nowhere in mid-September... though it had been too late for his parents.

He pushed the memories of their deaths away and stepped into his closet, searching for the umbrella his aunt Alexia had given him for his birthday earlier that year. It had been a promise of sorts-- that one day the rain would come back. And it had.

Overall, 3082 had been a rough year-- the winter had lasted longer, the summer had been harsh, there was the smallest harvest since the Long Winter-- but it was getting better by the day. The Whitestar woman in Misericord had dealt with her rebellion, and the only protesters left in Belecthoria were extremists and anti-monarchists.

Really, though, what did they have to complain about? Like his parents before him, King Rorimac the Fourth and Queen Esmeralda the Second, he had done his best to treat his people well. The unions were strong, working standards were improving on the international level, the navy was the strongest in the world. The Belecthorians still maintained their monopoly on the tea and sugar, as well as some spices, keeping a steady and reliable source of income for the entire nation. And yet-- they were unsatisfied?

As Michael clutched the handle of his umbrella and stepped into the hall, he looked into one of the many decorative mirrors scattered throughout the Summer Palace. He was clean-shaven with well-kept, orderly dark brown hair. His leafy eyes were bright, and his beige skin was like a swan feather pillow-- soft, smooth, and ideal for a young king. He straightened his silver tie, tucking it deeper into his midnight blue suit.

The Belecthorian king turned and continued down the hall, the familiar artifacts and paintings always in the same spots-- Grandfather Gerontius's portrait next to the sword of Vilnius the Second, the Bible of the first Pope sitting on a shelf beside a vase belonging to the first Empress of Nesrin-- all normal things to him.

Turning into the next hall, Michael was met by his two closest advisors, an older woman with graying brown hair and a wiry man with thinning silver patches. Both were almost as tall as he was-- most Belecthorians tended to be giants-- and thin.

"Aunt Alexia, Cousin Phineas," Michael said, greeting them.

"Michael," the woman answered with a small smile, her dark eyes looking him up and down. "I take it that you are ready for our trip to Nesrin?"

"I am," the King answered firmly.

Alexia nodded. "Good; this is your first diplomatic mission abroad without your parents by your side. Don't screw it up."

"Back off just a bit, Alexia," Phineas said kindly. "You're too much like that grandmother or cousin or whatever she is of yours."

"She's an old toad," Alexia said sternly. "I still have grace and beauty."

"She still has gentlemen callers," he shot back. "And at her age--"

Michael cleared his throat. "I think that it's high time we moved on," he said.

"Quite right, Your Grace," Phineas said. "Right this way, sir. Your plane awaits."

-----

Asterin Fayeward sat across the table from Michael, a cold frown neatly tucked across her faced. The Nesrin Empress was of Belecthorian descent and an extremely distant, albeit an unliked relative of his. Nicknamed "Her Paleness" by several of the nobles back home, Asterin was several inches shorter than the King. Her curled platinum locks drooped, an her blood-red lipstick made her look like a vampire after a meal.

"Asterin," Michael said quietly.

"Michael," Asterin replied coldly.

"It's been some time," he said.

"Since the funeral."

"You weren't at the funeral."

"Let's not bother with the details."

Michael sighed. "I have come here today--"

Suddenly, a phone dinged. Irritably, Michael and Asterin glared at Phineas, who was reading something on his screen. Not ten seconds later, the other smart phones in the room had each dinged, until both Asterin and Michael had pulled out their own.

Michael opened the notification from the Belecthorian Times and froze, part of himself immediately dying on the inside.

"Airports Forced to Close; Rebels Successfully Storm Palace; Coup in Procession-- Live Updates"

The phone slid out of his hand, clattering onto the table.

What the hell had happened?


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Tue Sep 22, 2020 6:24 am
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EternalRain wrote a review...



Hey Vil and Stringbean!

I meant to get to this a lot sooner, so I'm sorry I'm late. :(

Anyway, first thing I want to comment on is the title. I thought it was very clever (and looking at the rest of the chapter titles written so far, they all seem to have unique titles). Clever title that also ties into the important things touched in the chapter.

I'll admit, up until the mention of "phones", I thought this was in an alternate, perhaps medieval-style fantasy world; but yes, the mention of phones and technology really surprised me! And, it makes me think: is this set in a futuristic setting (the date mentioned makes me suspect this is probable) or an entirely different setting? A bit of world-building has already been happening, and I don't expect info-dumps in the first chapter, but I do think establishing a tone of the "type" of world we're in is important! So far a lot seems very modern-esque, but I'm also getting old-vibes; maybe just because my mind reverted to "fantasy !!! fantasy !!" because of the mention of "king", LOL.

That sorta ties into my next point which is the way Alexia and Phineas speak.

Alexia nodded. "Good; this is your first diplomatic mission abroad without your parents by your side. Don't screw it up."

"Back off just a bit, Alexia," Phineas said kindly. "You're too much like that grandmother or cousin or whatever she is of yours."

"She's an old toad," Alexia said sternly. "I still have grace and beauty."


This is pretty informal, especially for royal advisors. "Don't screw it up", "Back off", and "She's an old toad" seem like relatively immature/silly comments and not really something I'd expect in what seems like is a pretty formal setting here? I kinda like the "she's an old toad" one, haha, but the "don't screw it up" seems very informal (maybe something using the words "botch" or "blunder").

Asterin's character very much intrigues me. I'm sensing that she'll be important later on (maybe team up with Michael??). I love her name and her unlikeable-ness is.... likable. She seems a bit cold, which just makes me intrigued about the background of her character. One thing: the chapter never really mentioned what this "diplomatic mission" was? We're cut off by the phone notification (eek!! exciting!) but it's kinda left the reader in a "wait, what?!" moment.

I definitely want to read more--gotta know what these rebels are up to!

Peace,
~EternalRain




Vil says...


Well... modern-esque fantasy about sums it up, I think.


Heh... Asterin and Phineas are just two old codgers that have known each other for decades. They get away with a lot.

Well, given that (..lemme count..) there are 7 nations with a king or queen (even if it's just a figurehead), going to see family is considered work. Especially in this family... phew...



Vil says...


Oh, and thanks for the review, I should have started with that XD



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Tue Sep 15, 2020 2:24 pm
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Andrewknorpp wrote a review...



Okay! Andrew here for your harsh review! First off, it's frustrating that I actually like the first thing I must harshly review, (; because this is pretty good! Chill opening, good descriptions, and a hunger games vibe. But this is a harsh review, so let's get into critiques.
A) Exposition Be Heavy
This chapter is a lot of well-done piles of exposition, it's still exposition though. I admit, first chapters kinda just have to give us some info. I will list some examples of where the exposition was especially bad.

"Aunt Alexia, Cousin Phineas," Michael said, greeting them.

I haven't ever met anyone who talks this way, it seems like an obviously just a way to tell us they are related.

"Since the funeral."

"You weren't at the funeral."

"Let's not bother with the details."

If she wasn't at the funeral than why would she bring it up like she was? Once again seems like another obvious way to tell us something. So she didn't come to the funeral, how rude.
B) A King as the Main Character
Having a king as the main character may be difficult to relate to. Most stories the main characters start from a more relatable low place and then rise up. There are plenty of books where the main character rises up to king level, but they don't start there. It may be hard to relate to a king's character, even if a rebellion or something brings them low. If the book started with them in this low place, from which they could rise up, that would work too. I'll talk about this more in structure.
When reading a book 90% of the reason I stick around is to see the characters out. Because I like them and feel a kinship with them. Their pain is my pain, their success is my success. Even if the king is likable in the sense that he's a "Good" Person, he may be hard to relate to if he's just y'know, very kingly. Those perfectly respectable characters make good mentors, not main characters. The main character is the reader's self-insert in some ways. That's the why often times the main character is the most boring/normal of the characters. We need to be able to project ourselves onto them. But too boring is obviously bad. It's a hard line. I am interested to see how you figure this out.
C) Story Structure
Honestly, this feels more like the opening to a movie than the opening to a book. It seems like an interesting story to experiment with, a king, and a rebellion. Normally in stories, we are on the rebellion's side, (and we might end up here too IDk,) but, regardless it's straying from the story norm. Which can mean much more potential for epic failure, and also much more potential for something extremely interesting and originality. But, you definitely are straying from the traditional way to tell a story in a book. This feels more like an episode of Black Mirror or something than a book. Normally in a book, you have a relatively long period of normalcy at the beginning, and we get like barely a chapter of that here, if any, since this guy isn't living an exactly normal life.
But, the steps normal go, (this is very simplified) Normal Life, some type of catalyst, (Like a coup) some adventuring, adventuring is hard, climax, in which a character gets the treasure. They get it through a series of steps, failures, and success's, wether that is literally treasure or the friends we made along the way or whatever. It doesn't matter what it is, it just matters they get it, (through the story,) we want them to get it, and by the end, they deserve it.
So normally before the catalyst, we know what the character wants, what they need, and who they are. I feel like that rebellion coup ends the is the catalyst, but by the end of the chapter, I know nothing, story-wise, about the character. What's the treasure they are seeking? The flaw they must overcome? Why should I care about them in the first place?
I don't have the answer to any of these questions, so I don't really have a reason to stick around yet more than pure interest factor. (which runs out very quickly.) If you want to see more on this, just look up the hero's journey the save the cat method, but I'm sure you're familiar with the first.


So those are my main problems and questions, but I have a few minor points they are as follows.
There was a massive television built into the wall across from the bed, and there was a large walk-in closet.

Double there is clunky. Also, they are both large, this sentence could really be shrunk or changed.
The ebony banisters firmly held white curtains around his bed. Other bits of furniture were scattered about the room.

Firmly? Also, I agree with Watchamacallit that the scattering contradicts the cleanlyness.
There was never any time to be lax

Be lax feels like weird wording. Just say relax. No need to be uber fancy
he looked into one of the many decorative mirrors scattered throughout the Summer Palace. He was clean-shaven with well-kept, orderly dark brown hair. His leafy eyes were bright, and his beige skin was like a swan feather pillow-- soft, smooth, and ideal for a young king. He straightened his silver tie, tucking it deeper into his midnight blue suit.

Pretty cliche way to get a description to us, but it works.

Quite right, Your Grace," Phineas said. "Right this way, sir. Your plane awaits."

-----

Asterin Fayeward sat across the table from Michael, a cold frown neatly tucked across her faced.

There are very few things to tell us what happens in this cut. More context would be nice.
But remember, those are all just my two cents! Hope it helped.
I did honestly like this, and I'm interested to see where it goes.
Thanks for requesting a harsh review, and keep writing!
-Andrew




Vil says...


The thing that stood out to me most here were your notes about the flaws. I'm a very weird author, and I'm willing to admit that. My characters flaws also tend to weird. Michael here is flawed in his thinking-- "If the economy is good, if everything is going well, there is no need for talk of getting rid of monarchy." That will change, of course-- and I hope you'll see that if you continue to read. I'd personally argue that at tis point Michael just wants to understand the "why," but of course that will change with time, too. This story stretches from 3082 to 3138 (so far as we have written, at least).

Yep, revisions need to be made here :P

Thanks for your review!



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Mon Sep 14, 2020 1:19 am
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whatchamacallit wrote a review...



Hi there Vilnius and Stringbean, I'm here for the requested #RevMo review!

My thoughts are a bit scattered at the moment so for the sake of keeping this review intelligible, I've split it up into sections (:

Descriptions/setting ~
You've definitely got some really strong descriptions throughout this chapter, which is awesome! I like how you use multiple senses - sight, touch, sound, etc. (I do think it'd be even more awesome if you could incorporate one of the others -> taste might be a bit tricky, but what about smell? does Asterin Fayeward have one of those posh, eye-watering perfumes on? does the air have that heavy, before-the-storm smell?)

I also like that you don't let the descriptions slow down the pace at all, they flow with the plot really well. They also tend to have some relation to developing the characters/setting, too ~ Michael is organized, the palace is fancy, Asterin is snobby ~ which means you've got two birds with one stone!

Other bits of furniture were scattered about the room.

^Your opening description is lovely, but I feel like in this sentence it's a bit contradictory to say that the room is well-organized but then describe the furniture as "scattered about". It's not even that you can't have furniture scattered about tidily, just that the connotation of that phrase is generally messy. Maybe something like "carefully arranged around the room" would fit better?

The unions were strong, working standards were improving on the international level, the navy was the strongest in the world.

^Sounds like things are going well! This nitpick is incredibly small, but maybe change out either "strong" or "strongest" for another word, to avoid repetition -> something like "mightiest".

Asterin Fayeward sat across the table from Michael, a cold frown neatly tucked across her faced. The Nesrin Empress was of Belecthorian descent and an extremely distant, albeit it unliked, relative of his. Nicknamed "Her Paleness" by several of the nobles back home, Asterin was several inches shorter than the King. Her curled platinum locks drooped, an her blood-red lipstick made her look like a vampire after a meal.

*and
Aaah I love this description so much! It paints her character quite vividly (she sounds incredibly un-fun to be around!).

Dialogue ~
is great! You've done a really good job at making it sound refined like what you'd hear in a palace/government, but also natural.
"She's an old toad," Alexia said sternly. "I still have grace and beauty."

"She still has gentlemen callers," he shot back. "And at her age--"

^I especially enjoyed this exchange (:

Style ~
I like the style and tone - I feel like I'm getting a light sprinkling of sarcasm/humour throughout, which is fun! The only thing I'd mention is watching how many "--"s you use; I think just about everybody has a "signature" type of punctuation ( -> semicolons, dashes, ellipses, commas, you get the idea) and I'm getting the impression that "--" is yours. Absolutely nothing wrong with that, it's just good to make sure you aren't using it too much so that it gets repetitive and loses some of its meaning/effect. (You could change some out for semicolons, ellipses, or periods, or try rearranging some sentence structures slightly - infinite possibilities!)

Other ~
I find it sort of odd that they have smartphones in the 3080's? I guess I'd just expect them to have more advanced technology by then. This is your book though so totally your decision!

I love the placenames you've got going on ~ Misericord, Belecthoria, they've all got a really neat & distinct vibe to them.

Overall, this is a really fun chapter! The dialogue and descriptions are balanced nicely which make it an easy read (as does the sort of humorous tone), and I think considering this is the first chapter you're doing a good job at portraying characters. My main suggestions ->
1) consider describing things with the sense of smell, too!
and
2) maybe cut down on "--"s a bit (;

I hope this is useful and thank you for requesting a review!

whatchamacallit


Featuring Vilnius's RevMo banner! :D
Image




Vil says...


Yes... the "--"s are my signature (that @Stringbean has also come to more or less adopt).

Regarding the year--
This is according to the evil Belecthorian Calendar. If one was to line it up with ours, they would see that it is actually 2016 AD, and that the Belec. Calendar started c. 1066 BC. Still trying to figure out how to convey that XD



Vil says...


Also, thanks for using my banner, I just noticed that XD



Stringbean says...


Thanks for the review!

Yeah, evil calendar causing us heck XD



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Gravitem wrote a review...



Hey String and Vil! I honestly admire this chapter (especially the title, hehe) and don't really have any problems to point out. So, without further ado, let's get right into this.

The introduction was SMASHING, I'll give you that!

Michael quietly stood on the balcony overlooking Christine City. There was a gentle breeze, cool to the touch, and the sky was beginning to darken with clouds.

More rain.


This is a really good way of introducing and describing the setting. I see that you've already laid the foundation for a monologue or dialogue about the climatic conditions of the setting and have ensured that it's as natural and in place as possible. This was a well-planned aspect.

Also, I like how you've separated 'More rain' from the rest of the paragraph. I'd say that this concentrates more attention towards the 'rain' and ensures that the reader isn't completely clueless when the climate of the region is talked about. That's all about that.

Also, don't think I wouldn't notice such an obvious easter egg.

the sword of Vilnius the Second


Ha! (I WANT A STRINGBEAN EASTER EGG!!)

Also, there was something I liked about the very end. The phones.

I like how you built up suspense with some introduction to the technological status of the era. I mean, you don't describe what these phones but everyone would know what notifications are, and you get what I mean. It's a good method of giving context and creating more excitement, or informally speaking, "hype".

Well, that's it for today. Enjoy your day and do write more together. I loved this one.

Yours sincerely,
Myth




Vil says...


Ummmmm... Lemme think...

@Stringbean, do we have any references to your name? Like, ever? XD I just remember we have a million Vilniuses XD



Stringbean says...


I don't believe so. I wouldn't expect a Senator Stringbean or anything XD



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HarryHardy wrote a review...



Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening/Night(whichever one it is in your part of the world),

Hi! I'm Knight Hardy here on a mission to ensure that all works on YWS has at least two reviews. You will probably never see this but....Imma do this anyway.

First Impression: Well as far as beginnings go this was a really good one. It did a pretty good job of establishing this character and then presenting a nice little conflict for it too. There's definitely a nice little hook for the readers at the end of this. The setting is also pretty well established right at the start which is nice. And I also appreciate that you've just gone right with the flow and not bothered with unnecessary info dumps explaining all these titles and names.

Anyway let's get right to it,

Michael quietly stood on the balcony overlooking Christine City. There was a gentle breeze, cool to the touch, and the sky was beginning to darken with clouds.

More rain.


Well that's an interesting place to start. Sets a nice tone with a fairly decently established little setting here.

He softly smiled and turned around, going back into his well-organized room. There was a massive television built into the wall across from the bed, and there was a large wak-in closet. The dark blue carpeted floors matched the silver-blue of the walls. The ebony banisters firmly held white curtains around his bed. Other bits of furniture were scattered about the room.


I think that should be walk but other than that, 'tis a pretty good description.

Already, he could hear the starts of a pitter-patter outside, and he smiled all the more. All summer long, Belecthoria had gone without a drop of rain. It had come out of nowhere in mid-September... though it had been too late for his parents.


Oooh getting right to the backstory references I see.

Overall, 3082 had been a rough year-- the winter had lasted longer, the summer had been harsh, there was the smallest harvest since the Long Winter-- but it was getting better by the day. The Whitestar woman in Misericord had dealt with her rebellion, and the only protesters left in Belecthoria were extremists and anti-monarchists.


And of course that year has no context I assume because this looks like maybe a totally different world. At least I am not the only one that does that...xD

As Michael clutched the handle of his umbrella and stepped into the hall, he looked into one of the many decorative mirrors scattered throughout the Summer Palace. He was clean-shaven with well-kept, orderly dark brown hair. His leafy eyes were bright, and his beige skin was like a swan feather pillow-- soft, smooth, and ideal for a young king. He straightened his silver tie, tucking it deeper into his midnight blue suit.


The old mirror cliche...didn't expect that one from you to be honest but its still a pretty decent little description.

The Belecthorian king turned and continued down the hall, the familiar artifacts and paintings always in the same spots-- Grandfather Gerontius's portrait next to the sword of Vilnius the Second, the Bible of the first Pope sitting on a shelf beside a vase belonging to the first Empress of Nesrin-- all normal things to him.


More Vilnius...

"I am," the King answered firmly.


Huh I think you don't usually capitalize king unless its like King Apricot...aka there is a name after it.

Asterin Fayeward sat across the table from Michael, a cold frown neatly tucked across her faced. The Nesrin Empress was of Belecthorian descent and an extremely distant, albeit it unliked, relative of his. Nicknamed "Her Paleness" by several of the nobles back home, Asterin was several inches shorter than the King. Her curled platinum locks drooped, an her blood-red lipstick made her look like a vampire after a meal.


I am not sure what that particular word is doing in there. It seems to mess it up a bit. Also "Her Paleness"...actually fell of chair laughing.

Suddenly, a phone dinged. Irritably, Michael and Asterin glared at Phineas, who was reading something on his screen. Not ten seconds later, the other smart phones in the room had each dinged, until both Asterin and Michael had pulled out their own.


Smart phones in 3082....yaa definitely not Earth as we know it.

Michael opened the notification from th Belecthorian Times and froze, part of himself immediately dying on the inside.


Missing

The letter "e"

Please PM Vilnius if found. It looks like the second letter in the world letter.


"Airports Forced to Close; Rebels Successfully Storm Palace; Coup in Procession-- Live Updates"

The phone slid out of his hand, clattering onto the table.

What the hell had happened?


Ooooh that's one neat cliffhanger that you've got yourself there. Definitely makes me want to read on. An awesome start to this story.

Aaaaand that's it for this one.

Overall: Overall this was a really nice start to this novel and it looks like this will be a solid story. There was some pretty nice indicators as far as worldbuilding was concerned, the character also seemed to have some personality and that ending was a really nice little cliffhanger. Looking forward to seeing more chapters of this.

As always remember to take what you think was helpful and forget the rest.

Stay Safe
Harry




Vil says...


Thanks for the review, Harry! Somehow, I wasn't notified of this. @Stringbean will want to read it, too.

I think I just added an extra "it" after "albeit" XD



HarryHardy says...


You're Welcome!!
Ha ha...happens :)



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RavenLord says...



Hey, I'm not gonna review cuz I'm not good with novels, but I just wanted to say this was awesome!!




Vil says...


Thank you!



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Gravitem says...



The title I admire.




Vil says...


Thanks, Gravitem! XD



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Thu Sep 10, 2020 4:21 am
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Stringbean says...



Ooooooh I like this. Will do a proper review later.




Vil says...


Oh, yeah! You literally had nothing to do with this chapter! XD

Wait, does that mean I'd actually be able to review something I post if we keep all of the chapters in one place?? XD



Stringbean says...


I have no idea XD




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