Chapter 1, Draft 5

I finally posted my first chapter on critique circle again.  It is a fabulous online story critiquing community that has helped me improve my writing in ways I cannot even describe.  Y’all know who you are.

To celebrate, I am posting the first scene, just under 500 words, after the break.  If you want to read more, watch for it in the public queue on critique circle.  I pushed it back in the queue, and it will be up starting August 31st!

I stepped up to the altar and glanced down into the blood-spattered bowl in the center. Only a few fresh drops. I frowned. Disappointing. With that small of a sacrifice, it’s no wonder the others aren’t better healers. High Priest Vaktril’s brown eyes brooded at me from across the altar. Beside him, Prophet Neijen, his face solemn, held a small knife out to me. Without changing his expression, he winked.

A smile tugged at the corners of my mouth for an instant. Vaktril’s lips vanished as he pressed them together harder. Behind me the crowd of villagers and temple workers shifted in their seats, creating a constant murmur of creaking wood and muttering voices.

I reached across the altar and accepted the knife. A bone handle balanced the thin, three inch blade. I held the blade in the flame of the Candle of Purity, letting it lick around the steel. With the knife purified, I rested the tip against the palm of my right hand. I let my eyes close and tilted my head back. My stomach danced with exhilaration. A surge of energy coursed through me, the goddess blessing me. Incense filled my nose. My pulse raced. My grip tightened. A deep breath.

I plunged the knife through my hand. My breath caught. My heart stuttered. Pain seared up my arm, then through my body. The tip of the blade nicked a bone, then sliced through a tendon. My index finger curled in against the handle. Half my hand went numb and cold as it severed the nerve. Blood slid down the steel protruding from the back of my palm, clinging to the tip before forming drops. Each one dripped into the bowl with a sticky splat.

My hands trembled. Exhaling, I recited the prayer of sacrifice. “May this offering of mine satisfy the need for bloodshed and suffering for this week. May Aliyah bless me with the power to remove the infirmities of those in need. Aliyah’s love.”

I basked in the warmth of Aliyah’s energy coursing through me. My entire arm throbbed in tune with my heartbeat, but I pushed the pain from my mind. I strained, listening. It had to be today. I’d studied, prayed, and prepared myself this morning. Aliyah would speak to me, I just knew it. My hand burned as I waited.

Silence.

With my heart lying in my stomach, I tightened my grip on the handle and pulled the knife out. It went blade down into the bowl of blessed water as I held my hand out to Prophet Neijen. He pressed a bandage on each side of the wound while High Priest Vaktril wrapped a strip of cloth around my hand and tied it.

Vaktril muttered to her, “There’s no need to penetrate your entire hand. An offering of a few drops of blood is sufficient.”

I held his gaze for a moment before turning toward my prayer mat. When I was the prophetess, he wouldn’t dare scold me.

* * * * *

There you have it.  Converted to first person and everything.  I hope to get the first five chapters cleaned up fast enough to have them posted consecutive weeks.

Thanks for reading.

–j–

 

 

7 thoughts on “Chapter 1, Draft 5”

  1. I remember seeing an earlier version of this scene. Can’t recall the fine detail enough to tell how much has changed, but this is strong. I’ll be looking out for it on CC.

  2. August 31st?! You’re killing me! But I do like it. I’m so happy you first-personed it because I am a first person kind of girl. 🙂 But you already know that. I can’t wait to read more!

  3. @Ian:

    http://jandrewjansen.com/2011/03/25/how-i-edit-starting-point/

    There is one early version. In the comments of that post is a link to the FIRST version of this chapter. It is horrifying. All credit for improvement goes to my critters at CC.

    @Lindsey: I am working on the conversion to first person. It is a bit of a challenge for me, but it seems to be paying off, so I am making myself do it.

    I picked August 31 so that I give myself enough time to get the other 4 chapters ready for public Q in time.

  4. Aha! Thanks Andrew. For me, the two subtle additions that really altered this were the anticipation (followed by silence), and the reaction to the High Priest. These added a new layer of tension to the piece. Nice!

  5. I still can’t believe you switched to first person (not that I’m complaining since that’s how *I* roll). I’m way behind on crits, but I’ll catch this in the private Q (assuming the private version is the same as the upcoming public version?).
    P

  6. Cool. The scene in the High Priest’s office has been completely changed, and response has been mized so far. Let me know what you think before it hits the public Q if you don’t mind.

    Thanks!

    –j–

Comments are closed.