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104 House Lord

About Tariniel

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    Writer of Words, Crafter of Theories, User of Em-Dashes
  • Birthday November 2

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  1. I haven't read the two novellas (though I do hope to make time for those) and so I have no idea what the magic system is, at this point. Hopefully, the fresh perspective will allow me to impart a different take on the work, rather than just leaving me confused . . . We'll see Overall: I thought the story flowed well, and had a clear beginning, middle, and end. You'd didn't try to juggle too many characters + kept the plot points simple, which was a plus as well. I came into this not having any prior experience with this world--which left me confused, at some parts--but the story managed to stand on its own. Looking back, the narrative picked up drastically from the moment the child/three-house majus came into play. Things had been lagging a bit, and I was confused as to how exactly M was doing his tracking, which was a large part of the story to that point. (This was mostly due to my aforementioned lack of knowledge regarding the world/magic system.) That being said, the improvements were more visually captivating than truly interesting. There wasn't incredibly high stakes, and M seemed perfectly fine after his foot reverted to its natural state, if a bit disoriented. If this is what you were going for, you hit the nail on the head. The prose flowed beautifully, I got a sense of the world and people, and want to learn more about the magic system. All in all, I really enjoyed the read! Thanks! Page by Page: Page 1: Are those first lines of summary and placement going to be on the page itself? Also, what does A.A.W. stand for (out of curiosity)? I found the name 'Moortlin' hard to wrap my head around . . . If it's not culturally tied, or from some previous character, I'd suggest making it a bit more legible (Mortlin?) I was super confused in this first line, though I suspect phrases like "felt their sap rising" and the syntax of what he says is something already established in this world. I'll withhold my disbelief, then. "relaxing down" might be somewhat superfluous, in this context "unnatural creatures" implies something, well, unnatural. I think the "though" isn't necessary here I'm still not sure whether he uses "one" and "they" because he is neither gender or because it's some other cultural quirk. That being said, I know where the plot seems to be going, which is enough (especially considering I'd have more context having read novellas) Page 2: Qualification, check. Motivation, check. Urgency, check. So far so good "to time to learn" was a confusing way of phrasing this I can see the use of double vowels in the names (Thaal, etc.), which might excuse the annoyance, but M's name is still bothering me almost every time I come across it The worldbuilding here flows well, and has me interested. There are a lot of names being thrown around, however. Why is everyone so sad? "Had that been one of the quick scurrying creatures inhabiting the Imperium?" This line broke me out of the narrative slightly . . . sounds too blocky. How do they know if the chords are "odd" ? "Strange living things"? As opposed to strange non-living things? Page 3: I'm getting a sense of who M is and how they view the world much more than I am understanding the magic system. This might be intentional, however. The "it was filthy" was a great line, with good setup. Might pack more of a punch if you added another descriptor phrase (in addition to "this was the Imperium, jewel of the eight species"), however. As much I love seeing their interesting worldview, M seems to be spending too much time admiring their surroundings and too little thinking about the creature their career may be riding upon. It took me a moment to realize you meant protection from the weather, when they mention the tunic. How can they see the House of Power? Can everyone (or maji, at least) see the Houses, but only some can hear them? "as if the youngest portion of the vine disagreed with the rest of its being" - this is a beautiful line Page 4: "All the tales they had heard about the extinct species had been more . . . ruthless." - I assume it was the Aridori that the 'ruthless' applies to, not the tales? Maybe "had portrayed them as more . . . ruthless" would be clearer? "Auras rotated around the plant as the Symphony of Strength–the aspect more closely associated with plants–bled notes into the Symphony of Healing." The paragraph explaining the shifting Symphonies was very confusing for me . . . I had to read it twice before could grasp the general gist. "This is not a change happening naturally." Ummm . . . I would think a moving vine sprouting fingers would make that obvious . . . "where wood planks were buried in the dirt" Not sure what he meant by the "Except. Hm." Getting kinda confused here. Wait, M can do that? Or was it the other majus? "Moortlin shifted to one side as a length of grain ripped free, creaking upward, then drooping to the ground as if it was no longer wood, but elastic gum." - This sentence is a bit choppy. Also, is it usually this easy to follow the trail of a majus? "Lumber does not hiss and wail." - I'm thinking now that it's a character point that he notices obvious things and makes a note of them. I think. "It burst and the rough wood crumbled to dust." - I thought this was referring to the whole board, at first. "Underneath there was blue flesh, rubbery and wet" - I have absolutely no idea what is happening . . . Is something behind the board? Page 5: I'm starting to have an idea of the way Symphonies work . . . I know this is meant to be read by someone who already knows how the magic system works, but a line or two to quickly explain would probably help make things clearer, earlier. "The parent was of the Methiemum species, fleshy, thin-skinned, with a mop of hair of top of that one’s head. Watery eyes, white with blue centers, unlike Moortlin’s small yellow orbs, watched in horror." - It feels as if everyone M meets is of a new species, but maybe that's just me. Also, this paragraph has a lot of commas. "immune to it because of that one’s progeny" - This sounded a little strange "It’s getting worse every day. I only just made it home." - Because of what the child did to him or as an aside? "turning to thin spidery fingers rather than individual strands." - There's a running theme of things turning from their usual state into tendrils/fingers The cause was a child playing music? How come no one heard the music? Unless it's not really music, and only maji can hear the Symphony . . . either way, no one came in the house to check on them? Page 6: "Then the infant looked at Moortlin, and their world changed." - This line has a completely different--and much more terrifying--meaning than it usually has when a new parent is involved "Yet Moortlin felt the infant wished them no harm—that one was merely curious." - Is he using the magic here? "Thick breath" ? "Then they did the same with the House of Strength, but Moortlin’s work was undone, the notes swept from their grasp." - This might be better as two sentences "their joints cracking and shifting" - Oh, the irony "discordant, masses of notes" - maybe remove the comma This is one of the most unique "fight" scenes I have read in a while. There's a cinematic beauty to it that brought me back into the story, whereas the chase scene preceding this scene had pulled me out a bit. Page 7: This entire page was really captivating, and had me focused throughout. I really want to know more about this magic system! Page 8: They doesn't even pause to contemplate what happened? Knowing their species' propensity for deliberateness makes this all the more surprising . . . Also, is there a reason why these events happened as soon as M came into the room? I mean, the changing has had the Council's attention for a while now, right? It seems kind of coincidental that it would all culminate as M enters, unless their careful rebuffs and weaving of the Symphonies did more than they thought it did . . . "crest sticking almost straight out" - Another species? "You were surviving a complex and unstoppable force, and it is showing your constitution." - I think I know what you mean here . . . "It did make a sick sort of sense" - For some reason, this phrasing seemed out of character. I haven't seen enough of M to be completely sure, but it raised my eyebrow. Does every race have a different way of speaking? One would think they would have some cultural blend, living together as they are. (See what I did there? ) Sometimes you capitalize 'Councilor,' sometimes not . . . Page 9: "Especially with so much conflict among the eight species, maji must be knowing defenses if such antagonism spreads" - I know this is probably clear from your other works, but some hinting towards the conflict in this story wouldn't go amiss. It seemed like the species were getting along quite well with M, at least. The last line is quite good, especially since it mirrors the syntax of the first line M said.
  2. @Mandamon @kais I got it.
  3. Welcome! I'm a little late on this one, and it seems a lot of what I felt was already mentioned by the others. I'd been planning this post for a while already, however, so I wrote it up anyway. It's good to get the editing juices flowing every now and then. Sorry if there's any repeated comments, and welcome to the group! (Oh, also I had the first chapter critiqued before you cut it . . . ) Overall: In general, I thought the prose was mostly clear, and the story drew me in right away. To be honest, the first chapter left me a little disinterested around the middle, as I enjoyed Mesmer much more when she was the 'boss of the show.' I think this is part of the reason I liked the second chapter much more, though I also found the situation and flow of this chapter to be much more interesting. As Mandamon mentioned, the necessary information imparted in the first chapter seems to be present in this one as well, and in a much more enjoyable format. I would second (third?) the decision to cut the chapter entirely, unless you plan to switch between Mesmer and the henchmen's POVs. (Even then, it might be better to lead with the Mort/Steve chapter, then write a Mesmer chapter from a slightly different angle than the current one.) Whatever you decide, I'm interested in the story, and curious as to how you're going to play around with what seems to be a comic-book styled world. (Are all the super powers the same as Mesmer's? Did she name her ability 'patois' or is there some sort of classification system . . . ) Really excited for your next submission, and glad to have you along for the ride! Page by Page: Page 1: I know you're trying to get the feel of motion in the first paragraph, but "I know" was a confusing starting line Also I have no idea what that first paragraph of dialogue meant Why is she getting attacked? Are they transferring her? Also, the "weakened and blind" seems to contrast the image I got from the first paragraph . . . intentional? "Patois" is a made up word in this context, right? Took me a second to realize it was her power, but that's just me for you "Believe" might be a better word here than "trust" I love how she calls them "weaker-willed specimens" "seek to me so" sounds strange . . . then again, she's obviously crazy, so I'll refrain from calling her out on grammar mistakes Page 2: I was very confused throughout the first half of this page, not feeling the character as much here "Clumsy fingers..." I thought this was a very evocative paragraph. Short, but powerful. At some points you make her sound weak and on the brink of death, at others she has "steady hands" Page 3: That last line made the whole sequence worth it. Really brought the character out! The mention of robots surprised me, for some reason . . . maybe I've been reading too much fantasy "little accident with the first guard?" Not the one in the first scene, right? The tense of this last paragraph is confusing . . . is she simply reliving what happened in between the two scenes or is the story flashing forward through time? Page 4: My favorite parts so far has been when she laughs. And this one is especially awesome. Is she could hear through the door, that means they can too, right? Is everyone wearing earplugs? Mostly your prose is very clear and easy to read. Sometimes phrases like "rolling eyes of unrelieved onyx" pop in, and are slightly jarring, imo Page 5: The blocking here isn't clear . . . Is she on top of his chest? Then how is her heel digging into the small of his back? It took me a second read-through to come up with the position of her legs straddling his midsection, thereby allowing their noses to be almost touching and her heel to be between his back and the floor. I'm mildly intrigued by his immunity to her powers. Then again, I've never seen them work, so maybe she really is just crazy. Pages 6-7: The dialogue flows, as does her motivations for talking. I like how you're hitting on the classic villain monologue trope. Page 8: My opinions of her are shifting . . . I liked it better when she seemed more 'in control', even in a clearly uncontrollable situation. There were sparks of things I loved in this chapter, but I found myself too busy trying to figure out what was happening to fully appreciate them. It needs to be pared down to the bare bones, and even that might not be necessary to the story. Hard to tell, at this point. Page 9: This wide angle that slowly zooms in through the paragraph is great for this story. I like this opening much better. Page 10: The cat drooling on his fingers was a great image (This is me from the future, congratulating on the nice piece of foreshadowing in "She has a hidden hangar.) Their personalities are on-point. I could read pages of their conversations! Page 12: I feel the contrast here was made a little stronger by us knowing that she fought against 'going good' in prison, so presumably Jones did something right. Other than that, however, I agree with what the consensus seems to be. The first chapter isn't inherently necessary to the story, so far. Also, this line "That woman doesn't cry for help. That's as unlikely as her going good" added to their fearful reactions did arguably more for characterizing Mesmer than most of the first chapter. This chapter is vastly better, and is successfully pulling me along. Page 13: I finally understood who 'Omega' was, from the first chapter. Much more clear, here. That pause when she gives up the island lair got an actual laugh out of me Again, I'm loving the ways these henchmen interact. Really excited for the rest of the story now! Pages 14-15: "Or, you know, every day" -- Gold! They seem to be talking a little too much for two villain-associates in a base that has just been revealed to the United States Government. Consider paring the dialogue here, even though it hurts me to say that. I love the cat, as well. If it's not overused, it will turn out to be a great comic reliever. Also, this last line was much better than the previous chapter's. It calls back to the beginning, reinforces Steve's personality, and is vastly more interesting.
  4. That is interesting, @Belzedar... I had thought along similar lines, but your example gave me something concrete to work with. Let me try writing it out and see if it fits. Thanks!
  5. This is incredible. It's scary to think the effect sound has on our lives, without our noticing it. The water shapes in particular were a complete novelty to me (and the fire effects were really cool), but the sand formations helped me visualize Kabsal's scenes even more vividly. Thanks for sharing!
  6. I haven't worked on this just yet, but I wanted to stray away from making it too obvious a physical defect. So maybe something more concealed, like the vocal cords you mentioned. Though a sound wouldn't be enough to clue the reader in, I don't think... I think I've hit upon why I don't want to have the 'someone threatens him with their discovery of his muteness' as the method of character expression. My instincts say that would feel too much like cheating the reader; I want to have the reader know that he is mute before the blackmail plotline comes into play. I think this is both more interesting and increases the suspense, rather than the feeling of "well, how was I supposed to know this?" That still leaves me with how to believably insert this into the character's inner monologue, however...
  7. Oh, and the priests are silent because the religion is built around a still god and a man who never spoke. Things kind of evolved from there, plus the addition of the signspeak which comes from other cultural aspects.
  8. Right, I'm working with this assumption already, though not necessarily from the corruption angle That's what I'm having trouble with...it doesn't lend itself to internal monologue either... (not unless I literally have him think about the fact that he can't speak, which would make no sense. He's lived his entire life being mute and hiding it. There's no reason he'd think of it now) What I thought of doing was have someone nearly discover his secret (they kill mutes, in this society) and convey it through his reaction. But I used that as a plotpoint later on--where it fits much better--and would rather not move it...
  9. Okay, I see where I could have explained myself better. The voice in only in his head--there's no telepathy involved in this world. What I meant was that the mental conversations he has occasionally with the Voice fill in the gaps where a normal character would have dialogue (which I find to be one of the things readers skip to, as it's inherently interesting.) I'm also aware of the fact that I'm undercutting his disability, but that's actually what I was going for. I want him to be similar to the other clergy members, while in regular society he would stick out like a sore thumb. The fact that he conceals his muteness among a silent clergy is somewhat of a plot point. Which explains why I need to convey it clearly...
  10. I have this character in the book I'm writing that is mute. (BTW if anyone here is mute or knows someone that is I would really appreciate some pointers, as I've basically been treating him as any other character, only he never has external dialogue. The magic system allows for a voice-in-your head sort of thing, which is how I added conversations to make his scenes more interesting, but he's a long way from perfect.) Now, expressing this in a conventional setting would be quite simple; everyone talks, he doesn't. Where I'm running into problems is because he's part of a clergy where they communicate in signspeak, a language using only hand motions. Practically no one in his scenes communicates verbally. I'm having trouble finding a way to convey that he's different (since he actually cannot speak, whereas everyone else is silent by choice) without coming out and directly telling it to the reader . . . It's crucial to his backstory that the reader knows he's mute. If anyone can help brainstorm on ways to show this rather than tell it, it would be a great help
  11. I'm not sure if this is a new restriction, but personalizations on Brandon's store are limited to 12 characters, for some reason. I'm wondering how I could ever fit a question into that limit, and how anyone else has, as well. (I've definitely seen other people's question exceeding this, so I'm not really sure what's going on...) The only thing I can think of is that Brandon decided to stop some of the questions coming through from book purchases—maybe due to the lack of space—though I have no idea is this is true. If anyone knows anything about this, please help
  12. For some reason the links on Brandon's website aren't working as well...
  13. These are the first two chapters of a new novel I started (my first, actually), called Shadows Unite. What I’m looking for right now is pacing, character, and readability, but I’m sure anything you guys care to say will result in a much improved second draft. So, fire at will!Also, if anyone knows how to pick a lock, and wouldn’t mind explaining, there’s a part where I just wrote "he (did something).” Hopefully one of you will be able to give me a hand with that Thanks for reading!
  14. The summer has officially begun! (I know, everyone else started ages ago, but what matters is that its writing time and boy have I missed this ) Any chance I can grab a spot in next Monday's submissions?
  15. So here's what I'm feeling from your overall responses: The plot idea, pacing and tension seem to be good, but the story itself needs more meat. The issues seem to be centered around a general confusion, which--when trying out so many new things in one story--I somewhat expected. I was wondering if you guys would be willing to get into the nitty gritty stuff, looking at it more from a writer's perspective than a reader's. What are the steps that I can take to reduce the confusion while still telling the same story? I'm thinking removing Dane might be necessary, as he doesn't play much into the overall plot, and seems to be making Sadie seem less competent (Thanks @Hobbit + @rdpulfer!) Additionally, and likely most importantly, Sadie's 'flashback' is an obvious source of confusion. Here I have absolutely no idea how to ease the transitions, however, and can't afford to remove those scenes. Anyone?