Giovanna walked in between many groups of people, many of them as excited as she was. Her purple eyes standing out from the brown, green, and blue, though she believes she saw a handful of yellows and reds. A few kids teased her long bushy hair, effectively annoying her, but far from downing her spirits. She was surprised that her hair had been chosen as the target for teasing; it was usually the beauty mark above her upper lip. Either way, it would take a lot more than a few petty insults at her appearance to put Giovanna down.

Today would be the first step in achieving her life-long dream. You really needed to try to find other eleven-year-olds with the same goal. Many teased her for it and while it did sadden her at times (especially when it came from friends or family), she was still determined to achieve her goal – and that is to be the greatest swordswoman in all of Reina.

But she did not want to achieve this task with just any ordinary sword – no – she wanted a Great Sword; a weapon known for its massive size and extreme difficulty to master. This made her an even bigger target for teasing.

She had left home, leaving only a note behind. She strongly hoped her mother would be able to forgive her someday… that she could understand. With difficulty, she got this out of her mind; she had arrived at her destination.

After long weeks of travel on her own, she finally arrived at Omise village. Here, lived one of the best and most well known teachers of recent time, Ryu Hayashi. Giovanna has never seen a picture of him; she had only heard strange rumors about him. One came from an old veteran who told her that Ryu was a hundred and sixty-seven years old. Another came from a traveller who claimed Ryu had once dueled with a mythical dragon; creatures of old legends and fairy tales.

Something she knew for a fact was that Ryu had retired from teaching long ago. This is why Giovanna is currently struggling to get through a large crowd. Ryu Hayashi, the retired legend, had made headlines when he declared and spread across the land of Halo (perhaps the other kingdoms as well) that he was coming out of retirement and was ready to teach one final time.

Giovanna pushed and squeezed her way through a jungle of legs; she even got scolded by some of the adults. She made it to a spot in the front and could finally see Ryu’s dojo. It was made of wood, but somehow looked sturdier. The backyard was covered from sight by a tall fence. In front of the dojo was a scaffold, probably for addressing the crowd.

She could not stop herself from grinning. Her plan worked perfectly. She had brought just enough money to last her until today. However, her smile faded as soon as she began to think about what would happen if Ryu did not choose her.

She shook that thought out of her head. She had to stay positive after all. But how exactly did Ryu choose his students? The thought suddenly crawled sneakily into her mind for she had been avoiding the idea since she left home.

‘’I’ll definitely be chosen,’’ gloated a dark skinned girl to her friends, ‘’mom and dad said they would give him a castle if that’s what it cost.’’ Giovanna’s stomach dropped. What if you needed money to train with him? She stared at the same girl, which had a beautiful and obviously expensive yellow dress. ‘’I’m from the coast side of Ame,’’ she said with an air of smugness to an admiring crowd. ‘’I’ve already stopped several thieves with my sword, Sparkles, and – what’s so funny?’’ she added towards a giggling Giovanna.

‘’Nothing…’’ Giovanna lied. She thought the name of the sword was a joke but judging from her reaction, it was not.

‘’That’s what I thought,’’ the girl jeered, her blue eyes narrowing, ‘’you just here to watch I presume – or is your strategy to make him feel so much pity that he chooses you – that would explain why your clothes look like they were fished out of a dumpster.’’

‘’He announced it to the entirety of Halo, so I’m sure anyone can be chosen!’’ said Giovanna hotly. She never thought she could dislike someone so quickly.

‘’Doubt it,’’ said the girl plainly. ‘’He’ll probably choose kids with experience, or he will charge a pretty large sum.’’

‘’I don’t think he’ll only choose those who’re rich,’’ said Giovanna frowning, hoping with all her might that she was right.

‘’Oh, really,’’ said the girl smiling and rolling her eyes. ‘’Everyone likes money; I doubt Ryu enjoys living in this dump.’’ The kids around her laughed.

‘’Helena, is it true you beat a Titanoboa twenty feet long?’’ asked an enthusiastic six year-old boy.

‘’Yes,’’ she jeered looking at Giovanna, ‘’I did, and I’ll tell you all about it!’’ She began telling a grand tale of how she and Sparkles defeated the alleged giant snake.

As much as Giovanna hated to admit it, Helena was right. She never found or heard how Ryu chose his students. Wild and fanciful scenes started popping in her mind. What if he hosted a large tournament and everyone had to fight to be his student? Or what if you had to defeat some giant pet of his? A lot of kids in the crowd had clearly trained before. They brought practice weapons, and some even brought real ones.

Silence spread across the entirety of the crowd. The kids to Giovanna’s right gasped along with many others. The front door to the dojo had creaked open and a man had stepped out. He had black hair that was made into a ponytail and wore a white robe. He climbed the scaffold and examined the silent crowd through his round glasses. If he really is a hundred and sixty-seven years old, then he looks fantastic for his age, thought Giovanna. He looked in his mid fifties, at most.

12 thoughts on “Reina

  1. Matt says:

    Good job setting up the story. I know the plot and the main characters and their relation to each other. Watch the past/present tense.
    Couple things to think about:
    -what about a sentence or two on what Giovanna left behind
    -what could she gain after mastering this sword?
    -does this town have a look and feel that may be easily recognizable with a few words?
    Hope this helps.

  2. Bret says:

    Nice job introducing the plot, character’s goal, and adding conflict from the very beginning! Sounds like some interesting adventures are in store for the reader.

    Just a suggestion; I would tighten up some of the grammar:
    A few kids teased her (because of) her long bushy hair..
    .. (they usually teased her for) the beauty mark…
    With difficulty, she (let this pass from) of her mind..
    The thought suddenly (crept) into her mind

    You are very creative!

  3. Ash says:

    Hi! I’m intrigued by the idea that Giovanna has traveled so far on her own to train with this man. And I think you do a good job of presenting just how unprepared Giovanna was for the competition she’ll be up against to train with him. I liked the little spat with the wealthy-looking girl. And the name of the sword! I like the juxtaposition of such a silly name with the I’m-so-serious vibe coming off the girl. You might consider adding a facial expression to really show that vibe.

    Overall, though, I think you could cut most of this opening. There is a whole lot of telling going on. The way you give the details about Giovanna’s appearance and how everyone teases her don’t feel organic to the story. I think you wanted to include this information up front to make the reader feel sympathetic for Giovanna, but it’s just coming across a bit forced for me.

    I actually think you might do well to open with Giovanna pushing through the crowd. Don’t just give us her age, show us how small she is next to those she’s passing. Don’t just tell us why she’s there. Show her clutching the crumpled remains of the invite. She could pull it out to look it over for the thousandth time and accidentally bump into someone. They could say something hurtful about her appearance, but you’ve got to make it feel realistic. This way we actually get to see the teasing firsthand rather than being told upfront about it. Does that make sense?

    Purple eyes are really common unfortunately, and I’ve seen some go so far as to say it’s basically a trope at this point. I’m not saying Giovanna can’t have purple eyes. I’m just saying you might not want to present that out of the gate.

    I hope some of this is helpful. Good luck!

  4. Blake says:

    Thanks! Definitely helpful! Purple eyes are indeed considered sort of a trope. However, from what I’ve seen, they’re usually linked to beauty or given to a character to be made unique. Giovanna’s purple eyes link her to something from her past, an event. It could be somewhat comparable to Harry Potter’s scar, but at a tremendously lesser degree. Very few make the connection between Giovanna’s eyes and what happened in the past. I’m not sure if this justifies me giving her purple eyes – I really don’t want to change the color.

    • Ash says:

      Like I said, I don’t think you need to change the color, particularly since there seem to be other odd eye colors (e.g. yellow and red) featured in the book. I only mentioned it, because I don’t think opening with a trope is the best way to entice readers. Just move mention of her eye color to later, and you’re golden. 👍🏼

  5. spicychilipepper says:

    I love how you introduced the character’s goal and appearance so early on. It seems like a very interesting story. I would love to have more description of the setting so that I could see what world they live in.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Overall I enjoyed reading this story, The subject is interesting and I felt immediately drawn into it. I probably would take away some of the first paragraph. The teasing about the bushy hair and beauty mark seem unneccesary in the context of the beginning of the story. May be you could incorporate it later on. The second sentence should be in the past tense. I definitely would read the rest of the book!

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