A bit much?

So I am writing a section in my novel. I’m wondering if it is a bit too much/over the top on romantic imagery. Everyone complains about how in Twilight the character Bella always talks about how hot Edward is. I’m wondering if I am doing the same.

I might have opened the door, but it is Caleb that walks through. Through his eyes the room is a medieval throne room. I can hear the flicker of the candles in the chandelier above. I smell the strange scent of cold stones and spice in the air. I feel my heart beat fast, when I see Ezio for the first time. As Caleb, I ignore my general routine of doing the opposite of my instincts, and let myself drink in Ezio’s image. Bare chested, it is easy to see how perfectly symmetrical his muscle tone is, a product of exercising for vanity, instead of working. Regardless how he got it, it is beautiful, and I am drawn to him like a magnet. I tell myself I need to stop moving so fast, that I should focus on how Caleb is feeling about every single step, but I cannot find the will to slow down.

As I get closer I finally manage to take my eyes off of Ezio’s chiseled frame, and once I see his face my pace seems to naturally come to a crawl. Only gods would have the knowledge on how to construct a face so perfectly, for even if I were allowed to choose every aspect of my own visage, I would never have come close to this. If I could wear a mask, it would have his features. Full red lips, dark and long eyelashes, but it is really his eyes that make everything work, two apatite gems sparkling behind the most flawless of faces.




  1. Melanie said,

    April 6, 2011 at 9:32 am

    Really good excerpt, Richard! To answer your question, I don’t think you’ve gone too far with Ezio’s description — especially if Caleb is seeing (or noticing) him for the first time. If the description continues like this throughout the story, it would be too much.

    Since I’ve been critiquing/editing novels a lot lately (others’ and my own), I thought I’d tell you what else I noticed. Please feel free to ignore anything I say.

    At first I was confused about who Caleb was vs. the narrator. This probably has everything to do with the excerpt being out of context.

    “I can hear the flicker of the candles in the chandelier above. I smell the strange scent of cold stones and spice in the air…”

    something you can do to tighten these sentences is not to start them with “I”. For example, “Candles in the chandelier whispered overhead. Spice from the ___ mixed with the scent of cold stones.”

    Great job! There’s some great imagry in here, and I’m eager to read the rest of it.

  2. kyoske said,

    April 6, 2011 at 10:46 am


    Thanks! I always appreciate feedback, and especially help with phrasing the narrative structure. The disparity between my ability to write dialogue and the rest of the narrative is overly concerning to me. So I always love it when I can get some help in that department. Dialogue is easy for me, but working on the other stuff takes me forever.

    I also notice I start so many sentences with the word “I” that it can be distracting/boring. So I always enjoy finding new ways around it.

    As for the confusion between Caleb and the narrator. Yeah…that would be hard to handle in this section without context. I think it is pretty simple to understand in the book as a whole, but we will see. I hesitate to allow my narrator to “become” his character from the play too much. But that is kind of how acting works. The biggest thing I struggle with is names. If you have someone who is supposedly “in character” would they describe the other person by the actors name or the characters name? Sometimes the character name feels right, but other times it feels silly. I’m sure once I’m done with the first draft I can fix those things, but I dread the editing process, so I keep trying to get it right as much as possible up front.

    I’ve got TONS more, so if you want to swap manuscripts for notation, just let me know!

  3. Tanglethis said,

    April 6, 2011 at 10:51 am

    I find the words perfect and flawless kind of vague, actually. That makes him a blank slate of a face, which some might argue allows the reader to imagine his/her own perfect face, but I’m not this kind of reader… I like to know what the character thinks is attractive, I like to know about flaws, I like to read about this character’s highly subjective experience about what beauty is because I expect it differs from my own.

    Aside from that, I don’t mind the main character hyperfocusing on appearance, because it’s something that I remember your main character thinking about a lot. I do want to point out, though, that you present this information like a blazon of courtly love: it’s like the main character’s eyes are rolling all over Ezio’s body, and it makes time feel very slow. This is not necessarily a bad thing – hey, sometimes people really do experience vision this way – but it reminds me of your tendency to describe things and people as you-the-author see them in your head (rather than how a person moving around in the world might notice some things and not others). It might be a fun exercise, while you’re hanging out on coffee shops writing, to zero in on a person and jot down what you really notice first and how much you can remember when you look away.

    One last thing… the main character’s experience of looking at this character feels very erotically charged, mainly because of his breathing and unstoppable motion. But the second paragraph made me wonder if the dominant emotion was supposed to be envy.

    And I think apatite might be kind of an obscure reference. : )

    • kyoske said,

      April 6, 2011 at 11:07 am

      The apatite reference does bother me. I mean…I had to look it up. However, I’m going to keep it with the following reasoning: I think when you have a moment like this, a moment where you are looking at someone like this, bits of hyper romanticism do fill your brain. I can do it without a lot of effort whenever I look at my fiance. Describing him to people, I often use phrasing and vocabulary that I would NEVER think to use.

      As for the vision being slow. This is not an issue, BECAUSE, just prior to this, the director instructed them on what the exercise they are doing is about. They are supposed to be noticing each other in detail.

      I’m also happy to report that your questions about Mason/Caleb’s idea of beauty gets answered the scene that follows this one.

      The erotically charged sentiment you feel makes me feel a sigh of relief. Mason, the actor, has made a big deal of trying not looking at Kevin in an erotic way. Whenever the opportunity to gander at him is given, he chooses not to take it. However, as Caleb, I’m letting Mason finally give into this desire.

      Thus a problem can occur. As Caleb and Ezio, the characters, become more intimate, the struggle for Mason to keep himself from acting on his physical attraction to Kevin will become more difficult. Especially considering all of the things going on outside of rehearsal which are also encouraging him to do so.

      As for honing in on someone in a coffee shop….well if they are a hot guy….I can probably recall A LOT!

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