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2013 May 6 - cjhuitt - Icons Short Intro


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This is an intro to (what was going to be a) short story, written largely to practice my descriptions.  It's only about 1k words long, so the part I've sent should hopefully make for a quick read.

In particular, I'd appreciate feedback on a) the descriptions (effectiveness and/or amounts), and B) speculation as to where you think the story is eventually going.
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I think if you were doing this specifically to practice descriptions, then it worked.  The descriptions are effective of people. but you might need more about Harry and where he is.


However, if you want to turn this into something else, then the big blocks of descriptive text might overwhelm readers.


For Harry being the POV, there's not a lot of focus on him.  He's mostly just observing.


I think you need to reverse the second to last paragraph.  I was wondering why Harry was so scared that the soldier was talking, until I finally got to the end of the paragraph and found out he had heard a different voice altogether.


"which was the reason he had been so startled to hear the voice."
-the last part of the last sentence is unnecessary.  We can tell from your description that the place is empty, and obviously Harry was startled, so we can figure this out.


As to where this is going, I really have no idea.  I could easily see this story being about someone completely different (like the old soldier) since a disembodied voice is interested in him, and the soldier and the voice are the only ones to get dialogue and do things.  It could also be about Harry discovering some special ability/person, though with a bad leg, he's not going to be a very mobile hero.  I would lean toward the former out of the two scenarios.

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I think the description is very good overall. I got a vivid impression of the city. The description is quite detailed, which might be a problem in a short story since the pace is quite slow. In a novel having an establishing shot like that is perfectly fine, but in a short story I question the necessity.

I especially like the way you describe Harry's leg and how you use that description to work in a little bit of backstory.


I agree with everything Mandamon said, so I shan't repeat his points.


I was a bit irritated at the use of the plural form of third person pronouns for gender neutrality. I find that jarring enough when reading non-fiction or fiction set in the present or the future, but in a pre-modern fantasy world it sticks out even more. I would suggest either using male pronouns in a gender-neutral sense (probably the best in a pre-modern setting) or making up your own gender-neutral pronouns.


Going into nit-picking territory, the following sentence sounds a bit stilted:

Nothing ostentatious, but much nicer than that which a common soldier would wear.

Instead of "that which," a simple "what" is shorter and sounds more natural.


I think this is a good start and the description is vivid and captivating. You have my attention, now I want to know what happens next :)

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As an exercise about description, it was good. It's difficult to balance description without getting into over flowery language and you've managed it very well. As it's description, it reads slowly, but it's not that much of a problem on such a small length.


Now, for a short story opening, you've spent 1000 words on pretty much no action, so that might be a problem.


I like that you described begging as a job - with accessories and stories to tell in order to enhance your begging efficiency.


As for where the story is going, you gave us little information. I suppose that if you don't want to switch POV (which is rare in short stories), it could be about the POV character hearing something he's not supposed to hear. Of course, it's just a very wild guess and I could be very far from what you plan to write about.

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