Creative Writing

Peeking from the shadows

This year I am writing a novel.

You might have read my post titled “Establishing Context where I was talking a bit about whether I should write a prologue or not. Well, I decided to play around with it a bit and this week I was hoping for some feedback on my rough idea of it.

My goal is for it to be mysterious. Who and what become more clear once you, the reader, dig into the chapters that follow. Is it too vague? Is it too long or too short? Does it make you want to read on? Anything you would like to share in the way of constructive feedback would be greatly appreciated.

Prologue for constructive criticsism

Even with her limited magic she can feel the change. It is a subtle shift in the knowledge of the person she has placed the awareness charm on. Her skills in the healing magics are too advanced for even the most powerful of Spellbinders to detect without help. The only thing he is aware of at this point is the one thing that she hoped he would never find, but there is nothing to be done for that now. Her goal now is to conceal it long enough that her sister finds it first.

After she has ensured her kids are safely away she separates the two pieces and hides them in two different locations. She had wanted to separate the stones from each other but the danger of their instability when separated is too great. So, she did the best she could with her limited time.

She stands in her kitchen waiting. She thinks of her sister as she twists the branch of tropical bloodweed in her hands, the reddish-orange and yellow of the flowers calling to mind flames of fire. She can feel in her body that her time is getting shorter. He will be there soon. She is hyper aware of the faint smell of lavender that still clings to her fingers and the soft smudge of lead on her drawing hand.

They call him The Bringing of Sorrow and when he appears in the doorway alone she isn’t surprised. His brown eyes leers at her from the shadows of his face and she can see a suggestion of the dark handsomeness that he used to be known for. One side of his mouth pulls up while the other remains in place as he runs an aged hand through hair that is more salt then pepper. He is the same age her own father would have been, but he hides it well with his straight back and well-kept body.

She tucks the strand of bloodweed behind her ear with a chunk of her own ash brown hair as he raises he hands to very dramatically begin the weave that will start to breakdown and eventually penetrate her mental defenses. “I won’t tell you anything,” she whispers.

“I hoped you wouldn’t,” he says flatly.

She closes her eyes to wait for it to begin. A very soft sound gives away the movement of someone else in the house behind her and the smell in the air changes. She can smell faint notes of something earthy, sweet and spicy. She is aware that the smell is being wafted, likely to prevent this unknown person from being detected, so only hints of the scent reach her nose. She throws her eyes open to see The Bringer of Sorrow release his magic weave in her direction but the feeling of pain she expects it to cause never come. Instead her five foot frame bends in half unnaturally as it is yanked backwards in a vacuum like effect and everything goes black.

By Shari Marshall – 2021

3 thoughts on “Peeking from the shadows

  1. Hi Shari. I’ll give this a try. Okay, at the end of the first paragraph, I’m confused. Does he already know something she wishes he did not or is there still something for her to work at concealing from him?
    Two stones which separated become instable – intriguing! Why refer to them as “Pieces” in the second paragraph when only a sentence later you clarify that they are stones?

    Is he the Bringer of Sorrows or the Bringing of Sorrows? He refer to him as both.
    Strong image of his arrival and attack.
    Interesting introduction of an unseen person – who? A defender or second attacker?
    Ouch on bending her like that – vivid!

    You introduced a lot into the image. Does the reader have any certainty yet who to support and hope they succeed or survive? I’m guessing the woman, a mother is often the good person in a scene, but perhaps some kind of hint to the reader to make sure we join the right side of the pending conflict.

    The fun is building.

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    1. Thank you Gary for for taking the time to help me out with this. Your comments are fabulous and very helpful. You have pointed out some great stuff for me to clarify; I missed them because well I know the whole story, haha. So, I think that I am going to give “she” and “her” her name because I don’t think that she needs to be anonymous. Then for clarity sake I can problem just call him “The Bringer of Sorrow” through the prologue. The only person’s whose identity I need to mask for now is the unseen visitor. I think I got way too caught up in trying to keep it mysterious that I managed to make it confusing mysterious.

      “Stone” versus “piece” from paragraph two is just a wording issue which I will address to read “pieces of stone” and them adjust the second sentence so that it follows appropriately. Good catch.

      Your advise on providing a “hint to the reader to make sure we join the right side of the pending conflict” is also solid advise.

      Thank you so much Gary, I appreciate the feedback!!

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