#21 Dark Realm
Greetings, today we have a piece from Amoternus on Deviant art titled Dark Realm.
Luminos runs through the hospital, ignoring the men and women going about their business. He had no time for them today. He had to escape the two men chasing him. He slips around the carts full of medicine and equipment, vaulting over a gurney with a patient lying so close to death on it. No one notices him, except the dying man.
After reading this opening paragraph a few times I feel the best place to start is with the sentences “He had no time for them today. He had to escape the two men chasing him.” While providing context of the actions transpiring, these sentences interrupt and diffuse them, serving something like the author saying ‘pause’ and then stepping into explain things. This removes any momentum the paragraph might have been building, thus stripping it of tension, excitement and reader interaction. The second of these sentences (“he had…”) is also unnecessary since the author begins the next paragraph with Luminos’ pursuers, successfully introducing them in a more energetic way (We’ll get to it in a moment.) This leaves us with the first sentence, which serves two purposes: first, indicating he’s in a hurry (which is unnecessary since he’s running) and second, that he might otherwise have interacted with these people in a meaningful way, which is somewhat irrelevant to the current situation. So, I would delete these sentences, thus concentrating the action and impetus of the scene.
That aside, let’s return to the beginning, the phrase ‘going about their business’ in particular. In this paragraph, the author begins by setting a very particular, fast-paced tone of action, but the phrase “going about their business’ is languid (both from a wordiness and tone factor) thus diluting the author’s efforts. I think we can replace the phrase with ‘bustling,’ which indicates non-frantic energy and can convey the impression of numerous unstated actions.
— Luminos runs through the hospital, ignoring the bustling men and women. He navigates carts full of medicine and equipment, vaulting over a gurney with a patient lying so close to death on it. No one notices him, except the dying man.
This conveys the same sentiment, but it may disrupt the rhythm slightly, leaving the first sentence feeling short on substance. (I used ‘navigates’ to replace ‘slips around the’ because it says the same thing.) We can either expand the first sentence or connect it with the next, which I am disinclined towards because of length. A third option is to migrate the ‘men and women’ to the last sentence and then combine the first sentence with its successor. I think I prefer the last option, but all three are acceptable alternatives.
—Luminos sprints through the hospital, navigating carts full of medicine and equipment, and vaulting over a gurney with a patient hours/minutes from dying. None of the bustling men and woman notice him, except for the patient.—
I switched to ‘sprints’ because I think it reads better and that its sharper sound fits the situation better. I changed to ‘hours/minutes from dying’ because ‘so close to’ is a comparison phrase but the author never provides the second half. Finally, I swapped ‘the dying man’ for ‘the patient’ to remove any potential ambiguity and to emphasize the connection. If possible I would like to cheat slightly and do ‘only’ instead of ‘except for’ both for the fewer words but also because I think it reads better and, again, emphasizes the patient and his difference from the others.
On the whole, I am pleased with the paragraph, and it should be noted that the author penned a strong, energetic opening paragraph, inserting both peril with the Luminos’ pursuers and conflict with how only the dying notice him, which gives both context to readers and questions. Painting your MC as a potential corporate Grim Reaper is a good advertisement.
Behind him, the two men, their flowing robes slowing them down, slam into the carts, shoving them aside, tipping them over. Startled, the nurses and doctor’s look for the source of the chaos, but they see nothing more than a flitting shadow. One of his pursuers stops at the dying man for a moment, sniffing hungrily and licking his lips before moving on after Luminos.
This paragraph’s flaws are more simple efficiency oriented than structural. “...their flowing robes slowing them down...” is a little wordy and a little melodramatic in the sense that ‘flowing robes’ transgresses slightly into the territory of the author subliminally telling the reader ‘these guys are very cool and evil looking.’ It is the reading equivalent of seeing someone who is obviously trying to look cool. That aside, ‘hampered’ or one of its synonyms is the word of choice here, —hampered by their flowing robes—. The next section is the ‘slam into the carts, shoving them aside, tipping them over’ which I would reduce to something more like —plough through the carts, scattering and upending them—
There’s a better word than ‘scattering’, but from the top: I switched to ‘plough through’ because it is similarly violent but more appropriate since ‘slam into’ ends their momentum on the collision, and they’re clearly going through. ‘Slam though’ could work, but I like plough. After that just combining the ‘scattering’ and ‘upending’ more efficiently; ‘scattering’ conveys the concept of ‘knocking aside’ and ‘upending’ does the same for ‘flipping over’ but only uses one word. We combined them to remove the need for two ‘them’ and inserted the ‘and’ because it was grammatically correct.
This results in—Behind him, two men, hampered by their flowing robes, plough through the carts, scattering and upending them.— (Removed the ‘the’ from ‘the two men’ since this is now their introduction. I think it would read better rhythmically with another adjective added to ‘carts,’ something to balance out the double ING.
For the next sentence, I would reduce ‘the nurses and doctors’ to ‘the medical personnel’ because it cuts a word and uses a less common phrasing. Then ‘for the source of the chaos’ gets concentrated to ‘the chaos’ source’ and ‘…see nothing but a…’ to ‘…see only a…’. All those last changes are just simple rearrangements or word substitutions for efficiency, leaving us with— Startled, the medical personnel look for the chaos’ source, but see only flitting shadows— I switch to ‘flitting shadows’ over ‘A flitting shadow’ because there’s two men. Another change to consider is ‘chaos’ to ‘disturbance’ (because it’s a less common word but still widely understood.)
Now, for the final sentence in this paragraph, (One of his pursuers stops at the dying man for a moment, sniffing hungrily and licking his lips before moving on after Luminos.) Here I would delete ‘for a moment’ since we can express the same sentiment by replacing ‘stop’ (which includes an element of finality) with a more specific verb like ‘pause’ (which reads more temporary.)
Second, I would consider deleting either ‘sniffing hungrily’ or ‘licking his lips’ since they both convey the same information and are thus iterative. An argument could be made for the visual element they both provide, but I feel that value is negligible since neither action/description is particularly interactive with the reader or immediate scene. (There is also some thematic elements I dislike, one of those being that ‘licking one’s lips’ is more of a euphemism than something people actually do when contemplating something appetizing, animals as well.) I would keep the ‘sniffing hungrily’ since that action paints this creature into a more feral, animalistic light and is thus more descriptive and distinctive than ‘licking his lips’ which carries no particular connotation.
Finally, I would reduce ‘before moving on after Luminos’ to ‘before resuming his pursuit.’ We know who he’s pursuing, so the ‘Luminos’ is unnecessary.
Entire paragraph— Behind him, two men, hampered by their flowing robes, plough through the carts, scattering and upending them. Startled, the medical personnel look for the chaos’ source but see only flitting shadows. One of his pursuers pauses at the dying man, sniffing hungrily before resuming his pursuit.—
The rhythm from sentence to sentence is a little off. An additional adjective to ‘carts’ would help, and I can see solutions for the second sentence, but the third provides difficulties. I can’t quite put my finger on what’s off, but I think there’s a slight narrative leap from the doctor’s to the pursuer pausing in that they’re entirely disconnected from one another.
Alternatively, I might try something like—Behind him, two men, hampered by their flowing robes, plough through the carts, scattering and upending them in a shower of debris. Startled, the medical personnel whirl about, searching for the chaos’ source but seeing only flitting shadows. One of his pursuers hesitates at the dying man, sniffing hungrily before resuming his pursuit.—
Still not perfect, but the first two sentences do flow better and are more energetic/interactive with how the overturned carts throw debris and doctors whirl about, giving them a sharp, physical reaction as opposed to a general one. I switched to ‘hesitates’ because it shows indecision, which is appropriate for the moment and might help smooth the transition.
All my edits:
— Luminos sprints through the hospital, navigating carts full of medicine and equipment, and vaulting over a gurney with a patient hours/minutes from dying. None of the bustling men and woman notice him, except for the patient.
Behind him, two men, hampered by their flowing robes, plough through the carts, scattering and upending them in a shower of debris. Startled, the medical personnel whirl about, searching for the chaos’ source but see only flitting shadows. One of his pursuers hesitates at the dying man, sniffing hungrily before resuming his pursuit.—
That’ll be all for today. If you like what you’ve read, please consider subscribing and sharing. Also, if this author interested you with his style, check out some of his other content. https://www.deviantart.com/amoeternus/art/Dark-Realm-Prologue-797698483