Critique #10

November 15th, 2010
Dwarven teens Eryk and Kyndra accidentally discover that exiled traitor Boris Cracktooth has secretly returned to their Forge. When they are spotted, Boric sends his two gnome henchmen after them. They realize they can’t outrun the gnomes and split up. Eryk hopes to keep the gnomes pinned down and buy enough time for Kyndra to get away and bring help.
Eryk watched Kyndra until she disappeared into the tunnel. Then he turned his attention back to the gnomes.
They slowly crept upward, constantly scanning the slope above for signs of another attack.[You’ve got a good setup for the scene here and set the location well with just a couple of sentences.]
Eryk grabbed a couple of rocks from his pile and this time took careful aim. He threw at the female first, but the male spotted him and cried a warning. The she-gnome ducked behind a slab of bedrock that jutted from the mountainside. Eryk’s missile sailed harmlessly over her head.[Good Stunt here.]
If I can just keep them pinned down…
He went for the male next. Again he missed, but he kept throwing, mentally ticking off the seconds Kyndra had been gone. She must be almost at the end of the tunnel now. Just a little bit longer… [Eryk seems kind of dispassionate for having to distract the gnomes to protect his friend. Having time to count seconds makes him feel like he’s not very engaged in this. I’d rather see him more worried/excited/scared. Up the ante in the scene by increasing his emotional range and bringing the reader more into his corner.]
Suddenly the male gnome broke cover, racing toward the female’s position. Startled, Eryk yelled. He made a wild throw and heard a soft thunk as his rock slammed into the gnome’s shoulder.[I don’t think a hurled rock should make a soft thunking sound. Can you come up with some different descriptions that sound more painful and brutal?]
Off balance by the impact, the gnome tripped and he fell to his knees. He screeched in pain, clutching his limp left arm. [I think you have these two sentences out of order. The gnome should screech in pain right away from the impact as he’s tripping and falling. Then have him roll over and clutch his limp arm which received much worse than a soft thunk.]
Got him! By the ancestors, I actually got him! Eryk felt this incredible thrill come over him, a rush of fear and elation. Because of me, he wanted to shout, Kyndra was going to get away. And After Uncle heard about this, he’d have to let Eryk train as a warrior.[Now you’re bringing Eryk’s emotions into it, which is great. You just need to do it sooner.]
Eryk stood and lobbed [“lobbed” is another term that’s too gentle. “Hurled” or “flung” would be a better choice.] another stone at the fallen gnome, but the injured male rolled to his feet. With a hiss, he dove toward the female’s hiding place. [“With a hiss” seems a little too general. Is he hissing in pain? Hissing in fury at Eryk? Hissing because that’s what gnomes do?] The two gnomes crouched down behind the bedrock slab. Eryk could see the tops of their heads, but he didn’t have a clear shot.
This is it. My chance. I should go now, while they’re injured and pinned down, Eryk thought, but he hesitated. Maybe he could give Kyndra more time. [This is a better use of Eryk’s rational thought. The immediacy of the combat has stopped, giving him a chance to mentally regroup and consider the safety of his friend.] He checked his stockpile of ammunition.[The funny thing about rocky slopes: there are a lot of rocks. I’d strike this mention.] Only a few rocks left. If I can just get a couple more…
Below, the gnomes screamed.
Eryk whirled back around to see the gnomes hurtling up the slope toward him, all caution abandoned as they leapt from rock to rock in full sight. Shocked, he fell back. He wasn’t expecting an all out charge.
What do I do, what do I do? He scooped up the rest of his rocks and started throwing in a blind panic.
By the ancestors, they’re too fast! I can’t keep them pinned down…not moving together like this. Eryk fought down a surge of panic as he realized that he was in real trouble. Every time he threw at one of the gnomes, the other just kept coming. He didn’t have enough stones. He couldn’t throw quickly or accurately enough, and now they’d already halved the distance. They were coming for him. They knew it too. He could tell by the way their mouths were pulled into savage grins. [This part of the scene doesn’t work for me because of the distances involved. I’m thinking that to hurl rocks as weapons, the gnomes can’t be much further away from Eryk than a batter from a pitcher’s mound. Covering that distance in an all-out charge, even uphill on a rocky slope, wouldn’t take more than, say, fifteen seconds. The way you’ve written the paragraph, you make it seem like it will take much longer.]
I’ve got to go. Now! Eryk broke for the rock ledge. He didn’t feel heroic any longer. The rush was gone, and his heart was pounding so hard he felt lightheaded as he desperately scrambled upward. [You might consider taking the By the ancestors paragraph and cutting it entirely in favor of this one. That raises the intensity.]
When he reached the rock ledge, he looked back. Only 20 feet of slope separated Eryk from the gnomes. The male climbed awkwardly, his left arm still dangling uselessly, but he lagged only slightly behind the she-gnome. This close, with their strange painted skin and brutish little faces, they frightened Eryk even more. Worse still, he realized he’d never be able to outrun them on open ground. [I like the little description of the gnomes you’ve put in here. Are they armed? Are they smaller than Eryk? Is he not a match for two gnomes, one of whom has a busted wing?]
I’m never going to make it.
But he had no choice. Eryk charged toward the tunnel, head down and desperate. His sides burned, but he ran on. He didn’t look back, but he knew when the gnomes hit the ledge, because they let out a triumphant, ululating call.
[You’ve got a good scene here, with intensity and some decent action. I’d like to see Eryk’s emotions involved more in the early part of the scene, and I think you could benefit by a clearer description of the setting and opponents. Overall, try to up the intensity a little and be careful of using words that denote the wrong kind of feel.
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