For this weeks critique we have an excerpt from Dragonslayer from Celine. Thanks for sending it in!
Alys decided to take one of the many alleyways. It was a lot quieter in this particular one. Quieter than what? The houses were built so close together that their roofs almost touched, making it feel like she was inside rather than in the open. There were some stores left and right (here and there? left and right makes it sound like she is surrounded by stores on every side, but the rest of the description implies there are only a few) and some taverns where meaty looking men were having a pint of ale. Good details.
It crossed her mind that she should be afraid, walking through this part of town on her own. She had heard stories of innocent ladies being attacked or abducted, or worse. But why should that fate befall to her? She didn't have any money, and she had a rather influential family. Surely, if something would happen to her, they would come for her and kill the culprit. Good character details: Alys seems a bit naive/the "nothing bad could happen to me" type/ maybe resulting from her family? It does seem odd that she isn't afraid of being abducted. Sure her family would come for her, but what about while she's waiting for them? She rounded another corner. It was so much quieter here. She could barely hear the noise from the main street. Where would these little alleys lead to? Would they just stop at the city wall? Or would they lead to a wonderful secluded place? There must be some reason why people would want to live here, Alys thought.
The street wasn't paved any more, but merely a sandy path, with the occasional remnant puddle of the morning's rain. It was nice to walk here on her own, with no one bothering her or watching her. Implying that she is often being watched - overprotective parents perhaps? Even the occasional shop had disappeared. She saw some movements behind open shutters, but never more than glimpses. It was almost as if there were only ghosts living in these houses,not real people.
"Why hello, little lamb." Alys jumped, turning instantly. The gravelly voice had come from behind her. She was so sure she had been alone just a second ago. Now a scruffy young man stood in front of her. His face and hands were dirty. The underside of his pants of indefinite colour were caked in mud. Or excrements. Alys preferred to think of it as mud. Gross :P He had short blonde hair that stuck to the top of his head. His youthly face was curiously void of any facial hair. It made him look a lot younger than he
"Pooh, you scared me there! How do you do, sir." Alys made a little curtsey. Definitely showing how much she stands out in this part of town. The hairless man frowned. At least she thought he frowned. It was hard to tell without any eyebrows.
"I am Curt the Cutter, and I want your money now!" A knife appeared from between the folds of his threadbare jacket. He seemed a little proud that he had remembered his lines.
"Oh I'm sorry, but I'm afraid I didn't take any with me. Is there any other way I can help you though?" A real lady always has her manners with her. If only Mother could see this, she would be so proud, Alys thought. Even if she isn't showing it, wouldn't she be at least somewhat frightened? Especially considering it sounds like she comes from a rather proper/sheltered home life. Having her not be scared at all feels unrealistic. Have her eyes focused on the knife and trying to keep her voice steady. Maybe have her considering a way to escape. Something so that the reader knows, despite her hiding it to the man, she is frightened.
All in all this is definitely an interesting excerpt and I'd be curious to see what trouble Alys manages to get herself into. I think the main thing to focus on here is making her truly realistic; regardless of who she might be surely she'd be frightened when a man with a knife shows up behind her in an ally. Maybe she gets a chill or a feeling of being followed while she walks through the ally? Even in safe places that happens to people when they are alone, so adding in a few details like that would make Alys feel more believable.
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