Critique Corner #4: RUDGER’S CLIMB

By: E.G Moore                                                          

Genre: YA Fantasy   

*1st 500 Words                       

CHAPTER 1

I shaded my eyes from the Dyshiwi sun, perched atop a heap of red desert stones. The heat of the day ate away at the skin of my ears, but I hardly noticed. Inez would be here soon.

“Rudger, come down and help Bronzy ground up the maize!” Uncle Neechad hollered from a stone’s throw away. “It’s getting hot. We need to finish up the chores!”

I turned and nodded, slipping five toes into a foothold below me. Uncle Neechad’s name and flair suited him. Not only was his body swollen with extra helpings of meat and corn mush, but his temper swelled at the slightest disrespect. The golden flame tattoo on his chest, his flair, shimmered gold. I hopped the last few feet. A cloud of dust from my landing coated my legs and loincloth. Then I chased after Uncle Neechad. I dodged a few cacti and plopped down beside my cousin.

“Don’t worry. Inez will be here soon enough,” Bronzy chuckled as I picked up a grinding stone. He scooped a few handfuls of the shiny kernels into my bowl, and I pressed and crushed, pressed and crushed, just as he’d taught me. In any other Flairian family, the women would do this. But since there were no Flairmaids in our family and Bronzy and I were the youngest, we got stuck with the cooking chores.

A shrill whistle lilted through the hot air and I sighed. Kitchi had returned from his hunting. I glanced up. He and Inez walked together, a fat turkey swinging between them. I sprang up and dashed to Inez.

“Hello boy! How you’ve grown!” A smile split his thin white beard.

“Almost three beans taller!” I squared my shoulders and stood my highest. Perhaps he’d be ready to take me to the cliff city this time.

Inez nodded, his eyes calculating yet shining just as the gem shaped flair on his chest did. He always looked like Uncle Neechad when he’s counting the crops for market day, as though everything in life is as strategic as a game of squares and pebbles.

“Here little man, pluck the feathers,” Kitchi said, thumping the big bird into my chest. I spit out the fluff that landed on my lips and glare at him. He raised an eyebrow, another challenge I wouldn’t meet. “Get going, human, so we can cook it.”

I spun and stomped around our adobe home. I plop down in the shade and slammed the turkey onto the ground. With each yank of feathers, I imagine tearing off one of Kitchi’s limbs. Over and over, the satisfaction of payback prepared the meat. Then I pulled out my stone blade and cut at the joints, popping the sockets apart.

“Don’t listen to Kitchi.”

I jumped, dropping my knife. Inez strode over and plucked it from the dirt. He wiped the blade clean and offered it back to me.

6 thoughts on “Critique Corner #4: RUDGER’S CLIMB

  1. myinnermg says:

    Hi again!

    Nice world building here, Emily! And great job on showing Rudger’s frustration with Kitchi. I felt like this moved really well. I felt like we got a nice tease of the characters and their conflicts, which makes me want to read on! Other than those few observations below, I think this opening is in great shape. Best of luck with this one too! (-:

    I shaded my eyes from the Dyshiwi sun, (perched atop a heap of red desert stones). The heat of the day ate away at the skin of my ears, but I hardly noticed. Inez would be here soon.

    (Consider taking that last part as it might flow a bit quicker without it––and because you use “stone” again in “a stone’s throw away” in the next paragraph. (-:)

    “Rudger, come down and help Bronzy ground up the maize!” Uncle Neechad hollered from a stone’s throw away. “It’s getting hot. We need to finish up the chores!”
    I turned and nodded, slipping five toes into a foothold below me. Uncle Neechad’s name and flair suited him. Not only was his body swollen with extra helpings of meat and corn mush, but his temper swelled at the slightest disrespect. The golden flame tattoo on his chest, his flair, shimmered gold. I hopped the last few feet. A cloud of dust from my landing coated my legs and loincloth. Then I chased after Uncle Neechad. I dodged a few cacti and plopped down beside my cousin.

    (“swollen with extra helpings of meat and corn mush” what an awesome line!).
    “Don’t worry. Inez will be here soon enough,” Bronzy chuckled as I picked up a grinding stone. He scooped a few handfuls of the shiny kernels into my bowl, and I pressed and crushed, pressed and crushed, just as he’d taught me. In any other Flairian family, the women would do this. But since there were no Flairmaids in our family and Bronzy and I were the youngest, we got stuck with the cooking chores.
    A shrill whistle lilted through the hot air and I sighed. Kitchi had returned from his hunting. I glanced up. He and Inez walked together, a fat turkey swinging between them. I sprang up and dashed to Inez.
    “Hello boy! How you’ve grown!” A smile split his thin white beard.
    “Almost three beans taller!” I squared my shoulders and stood my highest. Perhaps he’d be ready to take me to the cliff city this time.

    (This time or next time? Are you referring to the hunting trip they were just on or someplace else in the future?)

    Inez nodded, his eyes calculating yet shining just as the gem shaped flair on his chest did.

    (Just as an observation: up until now, I thought Inez was a girl. Might totally be just me, but thought I’d mention it in case you get similar feedback).

    He always looked like Uncle Neechad when he’s counting the crops for market day, as though everything in life is as strategic as a game of squares and pebbles.
    “Here little man, pluck the feathers,” Kitchi said, thumping the big bird into my chest. I spit out the fluff that landed on my lips and glare at him.

    (Nice visual here, I can almost taste the feathers (-:)

    He raised an eyebrow, another challenge I wouldn’t meet. “Get going, human, so we can cook it.”

    (So Ruger’s a human and Kitchi isn’t? makes me curious as to what they are).

    I spun and stomped around our adobe home. I plop down in the shade and slammed the turkey onto the ground. With each yank of feathers, I imagine tearing off one of Kitchi’s limbs. Over and over, the satisfaction of payback prepared the meat. Then I pulled out my stone blade and cut at the joints, popping the sockets apart.
    “Don’t listen to Kitchi.”
    I jumped, dropping my knife. Inez strode over and plucked it from the dirt. He wiped the blade clean and offered it back to me.

  2. swirlandspark says:

    Hi Emily. This is a fantastic opening. The writing is sharp and concise and your word choice is great—it creates a unique voice. The personality of Rudger shines off the page! “The heat of the day ate away at the skin of my ears, but I hardly noticed.” LOVE this! “…his body swollen with extra helpings of meat and corn mush…” (Awesome description! lol) “…almost three beans taller!” (Great voice) I like the way you weave world building into the narrative. It flows smoothly. (In any other Flairian family…) I was taken aback however, when Rudger was referred to as human, though this would be fitting for fantasy. I was intrigued by the gem shaped flair. It teases of something different from our world. Nicely done! I also like the tension between Kitchi and Rudger and also the anticipation Rudger feels concerning the arrival of Inez. I want to read more just to learn more about all of them. The only sentence that tripped me up was: “He always looked like Uncle Neechad when he’s counting the crops for market day, as though everything in life is as strategic as a game of squares and pebbles. “He always” threw it off to me. Perhaps it’s a bit long too. Maybe break it up to make it clearer? (Love the games of squares and pebbles!) Overall, this is fantastic. You’ve set up an intriguing world. I love the voice and I would definitely turn the page. Great job and thank you for sharing. Good luck!

  3. Nicole P. says:

    Hi, E.G. Moore.

    I loved this. I could picture everything happening so good job. There are just some tense errors I wanted to point out. Your story is in past tense but a few words caught my eye on being present tense. If I’m wrong on this then pay me no mind. 🙂

    “Hello boy! How you’ve grown!” A smile split his thin white beard.” Split seems present tense to me. Shouldn’t it be “had split”.

    “…I spit out the fluff…” Here too. Shouldn’t it be “I spat out the fluff”?

    “I plop down in the shade and slammed the turkey onto the ground.” Should be “I plopped down in the shade”.

    “With each yank of feathers, I imagine tearing off one of Kitchi’s limbs.” Should be “I imagined”.

    Other than those tiny things, you are good to go. Good luck and hope this helps!

  4. Rachel says:

    Hello!!

    I loved the worldbuilding instantly. I got a great sense of the setting and the MC. Great voice, too, except for two little details 😀

    1. You sort of bounce between past and present tense here and there.

    2. Occasionally the wording is a little cluttered in order to convey info. But this may just be a stylistic preference on my part 😀

  5. Scarlett Kol says:

    E. G.,

    I liked this one better than your Middle Grade piece. The world building is strong and obvious without info dumping, and there is definitely quite the world you are building.

    Your descriptions are unique and very clear. I really get a sense of the characters and how Rudger feels about them.

    I did notice the tense shifts, but it was only in a few places.

    Well done!

  6. Daniel Beerse says:

    Emily,

    Very nice job of creating a different world visual, I really enjoyed the start of this story. Interesting characters although I wasn’t sure if all of them are human?

    Someone already beat me to it, but be careful of your “tense”. There were a few places you were in the present tense and I think you wanted to be in the past tense. Also towards the end you use “pluck” and then further on “plucked.” If you ever want to find out if you use the same word too much go to Wordle (dot net) and drop in a page or two of text, you’ll immediately see the words you use the most.

    Great job with the word pictures and descriptive phrases too. I could almost hear the joints of that bird being torn apart. Keep up the good work and thank you for sharing!

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