Wisps of Aether

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About Wisps of Aether

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  1. I really liked the setting here, and honestly that was most of what pulled me along in the story. It's easy to tell that Rachel isn't quite human right off the bat, and her powers are super awesome. The whole mist thing made me feel like I was seeing the world through an entirely different lens. I wanted to keep reading because I wanted to see who or what Rachel really was, and how that would interact with Destinaire and whatever he was trying to do. The whole bit at the end about choice and consequences was also super interesting. Using fantasy magic to bring up moral dilemmas is always a nice touch. Downloading the file and opening it up, I was surprised how short you managed to keep the word count, mostly because it felt like you were trying to get so many different ideas across. In fact, it felt like you had to explain so much for us to even understand what's going on that you weren't able to use that space to tie the story together. It also felt like you had to dump a lot of info on us because you simply didn't have the time to show us everything that we needed to know in 4k words. For example, I was confused when the whole "Order" thing popped up, and I only know the bare minimum about it to understand what's happening between Rune and Destinaire. It's still an abstract concept in my mind, and I can't really make any conclusions about it with the information given. This left somewhat of a strange feeling in me. I loved a lot of the ideas in this story, but it felt like I could only see what was happening on a surface level. Honestly, I think that there's enough that you can do with the city and the characters to find material to write about for an entire novella. It would give you more space to delve into the awesome worldbuilding stuff and it would allow you to show rather than tell us about a lot of the mechanics that are playing out in the background. In addition to confusing setting points, I would also love to hear more about character motivations. Maybe you could get more specific about what exactly compels Rune to do what she's doing rather than simply stating that she's out to kill Order hosts because of their power. And I would be interested in looking closer at the way Rune thinks and how that is different from the way humans think (her commentary about choices was fascinating, and I would like to see her go into more depth). I would love to hear more about Destinaire and why he created the utopia city... sure, many people would like to make a happy city with happy people, but what separates Destinaire from those who don't? What small differences make his utopia city different than someone else's hypothetical utopia? Where do his insecurities with power come from (he's clearly not comfortable around people he can't control)? I got the impression that you knew the answers but felt too rushed to explain. Expanding this into a novella would also allow you to play more with the ideas after establishing them and allow you to hit at a unified point. Also, I noticed the same PoV switch as Mandamon. It felt a little jarring. I don't read/write short stories that often and they're not my strong suit, so you can take my suggestions with a grain of salt. But I really do feel like there's a lot in here that you could explore in more detail by switching this story to a longer format. Either that or maybe cut some of the worldbuilding out...? But then again, most of it's needed to understand basic character motives. This is why I always struggle to write short stories that are fantasy. Thanks for critiquing my story and I hope that this helped!
  2. First impressions on a magic system

    Hey, everyone. I'm pretty new to the forums so I figured that I might as well post something here. Gotta put myself out there somehow, right? I'm thinking about magic systems for a book that I eventually plan to write. A magic system that I'm thinking about revolves around two mechanics that are quite broad, so broad that I'm a little worried. I have a specific direction that I want to take with these mechanics, but I want to see what impressions people have when I mention concepts that I have. These two concepts are: -Mages function as spirits after death and can possess other people (including other mages). Once the spirit of a mage possessed a body, it cannot leave until the body dies. -Mages can manipulate crystal structures of solids and can absorb magical energy found in special fantasy glow crystals. -The general setting of this story is a fantasy land similar to America or Britain in WWII (nationalism, struggle against fascism, fate of the world on the line, all that stuff) If you saw a book that revolved around this type of magic, would you be excited? Skeptical? What would you expect to see from these mechanics? What would you want to see? What would you want not to see? How do you think that the magic would interact with a culture similar to WWII America or Britain? In the spoiler below, I lay out my thoughts in more detail, but I'm hoping to get first impressions on broad concepts to see what direction people would expect me to head in and see I'm missing something that people would want covered. If you do look at the spoiler, perhaps you could form impressions of your own first and then see if you are satisfied by what I came up with? Thank you for reading through my post!
  3. 3/20-Wisps of Aether-A Foreign World

    -Yep, I'll change it. -I'll change that too. -Heh, this is actually about how I feel being in school for science. Only the best get paid for doing research, and even then it's a lot of menial labor. The postdoc in my lab described research as being "not that different from working in a factory." So while it's impressive that Jason got here, Apollo thinks that the job isn't really fulfilling. I'll see if I can find a better way to word that idea. At first I read this as the dialogue "unbelievably bad" and was super concerned. Looking at the page again, the biggest part that sticks out to me is Apollo's block of text that swings into me trying to describe his motives in an awkward way. Was there anything else specifically that you noticed about this page? I'll probably add in a justification for why he thinks that about Apollo. This is a struggle for me because it's actually how I try to talk. I try to state something obvious that everyone agrees on to suggest something more subtle (Jason still wants to be a supportive big brother and validate Rose's feelings while Rose doesn't want Jason to worry about her for losing family). I can see why it's jarring, but I'm not sure how to change it while preserving the dynamic that I want to get across. Do you have any ideas? I'll look into it. Part of the problem is that Jason isn't really looking for immediate resolution, and I don't want to twist his character to force it. Curse you Jason; why must you be so tough to work with? You're not imagining it; there's quite a bit of awkward dialogue. Ah, thanks. That's super encouraging. I think the reason I like this story more than most others I've written is that I do think that Jason and Rose set up an interesting dynamic while they try to deal with a relative age reversal. I just wish that I could communicate it better... I'm not sure if you ever feel this way, but I sometimes feel that I'm letting my characters down if I don't write them well. So I'll try to do them justice for this story!
  4. 3/20-Wisps of Aether-A Foreign World

    Thanks! You hit a lot of the points that I was concerned about here, so I'm glad that we're on the same page (no pun intended) about my story. I didn't want to say this up front since I wanted to see if people would notice something wrong without me telling them (which clearly happened), but the whole depressed/suicide bit was a more recent addition. I felt like Jason didn't have enough of his own problem and was mostly worrying about Rose, and I wanted to give him more of an internal struggle. Right, his general attitude does seem to be at odds with his past, but it was difficult to know what to do about the discrepancy because it's honestly quite similar to how I act now. A few things that I should probably clear up when I'm editing the story, but I'll say now so you know what I'm talking about: -Jason fantasized about suicide, but he never actually tried to kill himself. -Similarly, Rose slitted her wrists as an escape from reality but had no intention of killing herself The ending is something that I think I'll have more trouble with. The problem is that Jason doesn't really know what he wants. He might try to kill himself, he might want to find friends, and he might want to go back into space, but until he decides he's tagging along with the only person he feels that he can trust. I can see why that wouldn't be a compelling ending, but I'm at somewhat of a loss for how to change it. Theoretically, light speed travel should completely freeze time, right? The astronauts assume that they're going so close to the speed of light that any time passing for them is negligible, but I didn't want to spend too much time on that idea since it was really only important to set up the age gap between Rose and Jason. This was in reference to Apollo's statement that Jason's role in the space program wasn't unique and could easily be automated. I think it fits. Ah, I can totally see why it came off this way (always so obvious in retrospect). To me, the maid and butler bit would be more acceptable than in most circumstances because the characters are actually figuring out the new dynamic as they go. The reality that Rose went from being four years younger than Jason to four years older than him is just hitting him, and he says some obvious things because of it. On the same note, Rose is literally doing the math in her head right then to figure out how much older she is than Jason after he left for eight years and came back the same age. And she's trying to imply while describing their aunt and uncle that Jason shouldn't worry too much about how she's coping with their deaths because it wasn't a huge loss for her. She feels that it's more polite to reinforce her lack of dynamic with them rather than claiming outright that their deaths didn't affect her. ...But all that being said, I can see why it's still a problem and I won't be able to type out the above paragraph for every reader who comes across this story. I'll give it a thorough edit, but I might end up asking more questions about this part. I'll fix the "here" part. I meant the planet of Aphrodite Not surprised. I almost took this out and left it in just in case I was the only one who thought that it was a bit shaky. I agree completely. Thanks for your critique!
  5. 3/20-Wisps of Aether-A Foreign World

    Hi, everyone. This is my first submission, and I'm hoping that you get a chance to look at it. I'm planning to submit this story for as part of an application for a creative writing class. I've been toying with it for months, and I wanted to see what you all think. It's a sci-fi story about isolation and connection in a world colonized by humans. I'm choosing this piece because I think it's one of my strongest short stories (for whatever that's worth), so hopefully it will be worth your time to read and critique. As for comments, anything helps. I'm not sure if the science makes any sense, but hopefully I'm getting it right (I dive into an extremely basic attempt to understand and use the theory of relativity). I'm also assuming that the people judging my application for the creative writing class won't be familiar with sci-fi or fantasy, so I tried to remove a lot of the jargon that I would normally use. Also, I'm sent the email out to what should have been the right place and I'm assuming you all got it. If something went wrong with my submission, please let me know.
  6. TWD - Chapter 05 - kaisa 03/13/17 (G) 5539 words

    He did? I didn't think that. He was scrabbling around in the leaves and I'm sure there's a reference to him becoming increasingly frantic. Yeah, I wasn't really happy with my ability to understand and communicate why that scene didn't quite click for me. You're right, of course. He does scream and scramble around. But for me, something still wasn't there. Maybe I could take another crack at it. Hopefully I do a better job of explaining it this time @kaisa. I focus heavily (both in writing and reading) on dialogue. I think that R didn't quite work for me in that scene because while he was scrambling around, his dialogue sounded even and controlled. It felt almost like I was dealing with two different characters. He was emoting and he was talking, but it didn't feel to me like his emotion was coming through while he was talking. I'm guessing that you wanted R to be in control of himself even as he is frantic, but in his words I didn't feel like there was a whole lot challenging his self-control. As someone who writes characters that emote basically any time they ever talk (it can be a problem sometimes haha), I'm sure I'm on the extreme end of the spectrum and there may be absolutely nothing wrong with the scene. But I hope that you consider my opinion when you go through and decide that for yourself.
  7. TWD - Chapter 05 - kaisa 03/13/17 (G) 5539 words

    Ah I'm so happy to be done with my chem lab report. I actually have time to read and write critiques now. I'm a little late to the party, and I see that people have already talked about a lot of stuff that I would have said, but I'll try to add in a few comments when I can. I'm sure that you'll catch this when you're going back to edit, so I won't spend too much time on this, but being draft zero there's naturally a bit of passive voice, a few weak verbs, and an over-reliance on adverbs that could be cleaned up a bit. I wouldn't have mentioned it at all except for the fact that it was the first thing I noticed when jumping into your story, and I wanted to let you know so that you could make absolutely sure that a reader wouldn't get the same impression. I really like how S and R seem disconnected with each other. I can almost picture an actual barrier that prevents them from understanding each other. You did such a good job that it was a little jarring to hear S explain to me that they lived in worlds out of sync after you already showed that exact concept with dialogue. But I can tell that you focused a lot of attention on making S feel disconnected with R, and to an extent the old "establishment" of alchemy, and it's an important point to establish for developing the motives for S's character. I think the reason that S's self-important attitude works is precisely because he feels that he doesn't fully fit into the established guild system (meaning that he needs another way to validate his interests and work), so I would recommend hitting that point as often as you can... while still being subtle about it. Gosh, being a writer is hard. Aside from that, I wasn't really able to connect with R as well as I would hoping. It could be because of me being super emotional as a person, but I found it a little strange that he seemed so calm when dealing with the murder tree. I get the impression that this may not have been your intention (like... he does scream and shout; I get that), but that's how it came off to me. I suppose that I expected something about his demeanor to be tense or deadly serious, or something else that would convey fear through a stoic expression. And his transition from a chastising master to dependent seems a little sharp to me. From his words to S after the tree attack, I would expect him to retain some of his confidence and hardness while letting a few cracks in his tone/expression reveal to S the desperation beneath. But the way I write is heavily focused on describing expressions/voices/posture, so I may just be trying to make your work conform with my arbitrary style. Always a possibility where my critiques are concerned. I think that's it for my comments. I like S' character now, but I think that S will really click if you keep establishing the guilds as a place where S really doesn't fit in. (Also, I noticed that S' gender isn't really mentioned, so I've just been referring to S as a "he." Feel free to correct me if I'm missing something. )
  8. Email List and Submission Dates

    Yep, it looks like things are indeed getting crowded. It looks like there's room, so I'd like to take a spot on the 20th for my first submission. I have a short story that I would like critiqued before I submit it as a writing sample for a creative writing class application.
  9. Hi! This is my first critique on this site, so hopefully it all goes well for both of us. What I liked: I didn't read chapter 1, but I can already tell that I love Kar's character. She has the perfect amount of inner conflict while not coming off as weak or whiny. In particular, I love how she sees herself as being "invisible to the other sex," and then moves onto discuss the societal expectations of her. Ouch, right in the feelings. It reminds me how perpetually alone I am. But seriously, it sets up a great disconnect between her and the world that's super important for a YA book. As a consequence of me loving Kar's character, I was naturally more inclined to be interested in any part of the world that directly affects her. The witch/wizard divide is interesting, and Lor's status as a non-magical adopted daughter creates a neat dynamic between her and Kar. I see Lor as being more blunt and straightforward because her position as a non-mage steeped in the world of magic gives her a different perspective about the world. Talking about people who don't quite fit perfectly into the society around them is, again, great for the YA genre. And it just makes for interesting characters. I feel like the pace is fine. What didn't work as well for me: Because I feel so inclined to care about the same things that Kar does, I started to lose interest when Kar talked about stuff that didn't directly affect her as much... meaning politics and research. I can see that she has strong opinions about politics, but I'm not really sure why she cares (does she have something personal at stake? Does she see politics as being another part of the society where she feels disconnected from popular opinion no matter how hard she tries to fit in?), so it was a little hard for me to take interest in the world's politics. The same goes for research. It was a little difficult to care about how people conduct research without knowing how Kar fits into it all. Also, E's character in the flashback didn't click for me. I was surprised at how formal his speech was (especially since he's a kid, right?), and it kind of seemed like his main purpose was to teach Kar a lesson rather than showing a character arc of his own. If I would choose to go into more detail with regards to any part of this chapter, it would be his character. We know that he doesn't approve of counter-violence as a way of dealing with violence, but why? We know that he disapproves of Kar's actions, but how does he view Kar herself? Does she remind him of someone who ended up letting the violence consume them, perhaps? We probably don't want him going into a whole monologue, but I think that it wouldn't be too difficult to insert hints of a deeper motive. Well, I hope that all made sense. Good night!
  10. Lounge

    Hey, everyone. I'm new to the Shard and I'm interested in writing, so I thought that posting here would be a good place to start. Part of the purpose of this post is just to let people know I'm here, but I was wondering if this thread is the best place to go for getting new ideas about stories I want to write. Are there dedicated creativity threads elsewhere on the Shard? What tools in these forums do you find most useful for improving your writing? Thanks for helping out a newbie.
  11. Hello!

    Ah, creativity threads are always nice. Although I do sometimes feel like I already have too many ideas and not enough time to write them all. And I'll definitely message you if I have any questions. Mafia with role play sounds interesting (and I'm assuming that we're talking about the party game here? Apparently there's also a video game), but I think I'll pass for now. My university is on quarters so finals are drawing near. My favorite Sanderson book is Words of Radiance... but I also really like Warbreaker. It's nice to see fantasy where not all of the conflicts are solved by people smacking each other with big weapons.
  12. Hello!

    Hello, everyone. I know that this is probably going to be my first impression on anyone reading this, so I'll try not to make too much of a fool of myself. Or maybe I should just to throw you all for a loop and see if anyone responds out of pity. A tantalizing possibility... In all seriousness, it's nice to meet you all. I've been reading Brandon's books for several years but I've never really thought to join this site before. But here I am... and probably indistinguishable from all of the other people on this website. But that's okay, right? So I guess I should say a bit about myself to at least give you guys a vague image of who I am. I'm a new writer who's trying to take a crack at the fantasy genre. This probably doesn't surprise anyone, but Brandon's books inspire me and I get a lot of my ideas from what he writes about. I'm pretty much your stereotypical nerd, but almost as a nerd hipster/heretic. Basically, I like nerdy board/card/video games, but all of my favorite games are so obscure and weird that even most nerds haven't heard of them. If anyone else enjoys playing Android: Netrunner, Doomtown: Reloaded, Caverna, The World Ends with You, or Mother 3, you're in good company. *hears crickets chirping in the background* Well, I can't really think of anything else to say about myself right now. Normally I play the "I'm an aspiring writer" card when I have to describe myself, but I feel like that doesn't get me much mileage here. But if people just remember me as the weird person who plays weird games, that will make me happy for now. A bad internet image is better than none, right? ...On second thought, maybe not so much. I'm not entirely sure whether or not I was actually trying to make a fool out of myself to attract pity, but I feel like now is a good place to end my intro. I hope that you all have a wonderful day.