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M.Puddles

Paladar Chapter 3, Take 2: 08/14/17 Paladar Chapter 3: Leaders & Vows 3213 Words

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I'm working through a bit of a plateau  and I appreciate your support and patience. I tried to harness everyone's feedback and retackled this chapter. 

Recap form the previous chapters

After rescuing a young brother and sister  from the Raiders, L found his nephew and apprentice (P) unconcious.  Some of the briggands were killed, but many escaped.  After returning home to get pached up, L gets into an argument with his wife, and then with Petro's father about (P's) Safety.

 In this chapter L is rustrated by these interactons and his innability to solve the mystery of the raiders. He goes to see the Sue-Vicar Bolar to report on his mission and to request special permision so that (P) can wield a weapon of his own.  

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Posted (edited)

Not having read the previous two chapters, I cant really say much about the plot. 

One thing that I would cut is the passage with Thalidar, I would not even mention that someone was there, unless this is the first encounter with this character (and this will be an important character later on), and then if it is, you should maybe add a little more here, a question or two, a remark, a reminiscence etc. Dont put him there just to say hello.

One thing that you do and I (for one) dont subscribe to is the insertion of commentary after almost every line of dialogue, especially in the second part. Lots of detalis of the protagonists rising brows, hands, tapping of chins etc can be left out, as it detracts me from understanding what they actually say, and I'm loosing the meaning.

Edited by Gustaf Taen
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- I like the epitaphs at the beginning of the chapter. The thing is, they often more interesting than the subsequent chapter.

- I do like the underlying tension in this chapter, as L recounts P's actions to the Vicar, and also, as he questions if he's doing the right thing by releasing this information to the Vicar.

- It's a good chapter . . . I liked the first version as well . . . and I think this one is even more solid. I just hope this leads to more action and world-building. The pace has been a bit languid up until now. 

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As some others said last week, I'm still not finding a lot of content. I'm waiting on a main plot of some sort, but aside from some bandits and a coming-of-age story for Pet, I'm not sure what it is. Pet displayed some special powers, but after that, the writing hasn't engaged me as much. The main idea I got out of this chapter was that L find out his nephew might be a candidate for a high-profile position. I'm still not sure what the Palidars do, so I can't fully appreciate why that's a good/bad thing.
340k words is really long, and could actually be a trilogy of books in itself. I appreciate you've got a lot of locations you want to establish, but I would ask if, going in cold, the reader is going to care anything about the location if they aren't yet connecting with the character. establishing so much at the beginning just means the reader is going to forget the character/location if it doesn't pop up until 100k words later.

Along with @Robinski's suggestion to work with shorter stories, you could also take this whole story and condense it into a 2-page summary. When you have to do that, it's very easy to see what's important to the story and what is excess.

Anyway, hope some of this helps. I do want to find out what special powers Pet has!


pg 5: "his ankle length vestments jiggled about his body"
--I think you need a different word than "jiggled." Springs and jello jiggle. Vestments don't.

pg 7: "L reported on the events leading up to the rescue of the brother and sister. "
--Might be WRS, but I don't remember this. (edit: this was originally rescuing the girl, right?)

pg 7: "downplayed P's involvement and injury"
1) why
2) was this the bit where P rescued the girl?

pg 8: “I feel as though they know we’re coming. The traps I set are little more than exhausting camp outs.”
--I'm not sure what this is referring to. I'm a little lost at this point.

pg 9: "The Sue-Vicar’s lack of reaction"
--not really a lack of reaction--he asked a question about it.

pg 11: "“A good thought, Pal"
--wait, wasn't L silent? how was that a good thought?

pg 16: "He’s the best candidate we have to be the next Pal.”
--I stil don't really know what a Pal. is

pg 17: "I see this news comes as a surprise to you."
--Why is this a surprise? I don't know what the position entails, so I don't know to be happy or sad that Pet is tagged to be one.


 

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First off I want to say this is an improvement on last week's version! However, I agree with @Mandamon and others that there is still very little to connect this chapter to the previous two, and not much to catch or keep a reader's attention.

I'm wondering now if maybe the first part, the introductory bit and the bit with the medallion, couldn't be moved to later on, after we're more invested in Paladars in general and L in particular. Right now, at ch3, we've been introduced to P and have connected with him. Switching POVs at this point sets up the expectation that the new POV will provide some kind of added info relating to P and his situation, info that is somehow unavailable by sticking with P alone. L's request to get a sword for P fits this expectation, as does the added info about bandits (that's not to say these parts shouldn't be slimmed down either. A lot of the good bits of story are diluted in a bunch of stuff I'm just not invested in right now. I need more concentrated good story bits ;) ).

I know it can be frustrating working so hard just to get the same feedback every time, but you are making progress! Keep at it! 

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Overall

Better! Still a lot of wandering at the start. I didn't get interested until about page 13, as the information to that point seemed to wander and lack purpose other than setup for events and characters I have not yet connected with. This seems to be a common theme in your writing. It might be a good exercise to go through and cut everything down to just dialogue and important internal monologue, then start adding the filler back in as needed. 'Trim the fat', as it were. I also agree with @Mandamon and @industrialistDragon dragon in terms of content and pacing. It's getting better, but edits are a long road. Keep on it!

As I go

- page five and I'm still waiting for some semblance of an arc starting, or some hook. The chapter doesn't appear to have actually started yet

- page ten: so many names. I can't keep them straight since I haven't connected with any of the characters yet

- ah, page 13 starts the chapter arc it seems

 

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Hi Matt, apologies for the delay, but here come my comments – at last…

  • I like the opening, it has power and resonates with a certain depth of history that I enjoyed. The thing that hampered it for me was not quite following how the terms and titles related to each other, not fully understanding the role of each and their position on the good/bad scale.
  • Streaks of iridescent light glinted from the Temple’s Godstone walls as Landon strode through the arched entrance of the temple gardens” – yes, I’m happy with that as a first line, I get a little character, some setting and evocation of it.
  • The guards’ inattention” – belonging to the guards.
  • Inside the entry, a clerk sat” – redundant.
  • At this point, I am enjoying the brevity and the directness. While I'm interested in what the entrance looks like, I realise it’s not all that important, and I can picture generic, medieval-style interior until we get to more relevant places. I do think that you could easily add depth to the description with very few additional words. Think of the other senses; could the hall be echoing, smell dusty?
  • Each vase depicted a scene form from the histories and was set on a small table”.
  • Two worn and cozy-looking chairs” – compound adjective. Also, ‘cosy’ seems off-tone to me. Somehow it makes protag sound weak.
  • I thought it was Tha speaking when the vicar did.
  • Bolar smiled and his ankle length vestments jiggled about his body” – So, is he laughing, not just smiling? Otherwise, I'm not sure what causes the movement. Chuckling, maybe?
  • This piece. Interesting that you say it pulls at you,” the Vicar said as he tied his belt. “A Lord found this piece hidden away” – I’ve noticed a few instances of close repetition. I find it distracting. Maybe that’s just me, though.
  • “   This piece has absorbed” – missing i/c.
  • he wanted a chance to Petro’s strange rambling” – missing word.
  • sat back in his chai” – messy!!
  • from a licensed traders
  • It…” He paused,” – really think this has to be ellipsis.
  • suspicisions” – typo.
  • Have the other Vicars complained of similar troubles?” – I'm enjoying this version a good deal more than previous. I feel it still has detail, intrigue in the discussion of the raiders, and sense of setting and character. I still feel I'm not getting as much as I good from it. Here, for example, I don’t understand the political setup, so this line is somewhat lost on me.
  • At least a sergeant, but probably a Captain or higher rank” – there’s some real inconsistency in the capitalisation. I hold firm to my accumulated experience and view on this, which is that names (e.g. Captain Phillips) are capitalised, and generic references (e.g. ‘He was a captain.’, are not). In this sentence we have both, but I really think it is not driven by the rank itself. “The Vicar tapped his chin” – I accept that reference to a specific individual is less clear. Personally, I would not capitalise here. I think looking at published works that you read will give more clarity on this.
  • there is fierce status emerging” – I don’t understand what this means.
  • Continue hunting for the brigands, but reach out to your friends in the army. Quietly inquire if anyone knows of anything wayward.” – I feel like the first sentence is a plausible instruction, but the second one is telling the Pal how to do his job, talking down to him.
  • Yes… Your” and “"I." He glanced” – these are kind of all over from one pause to the next. I think any incomplete sentence needs to have ellipsis. Consistency.
  • That is impressive, Paladar
  • You’ve trained him well, Paladar” – maybe it’s personal choice, but I think there is always a pause in these situations.
  • so young could managed such a feat” – typo.
  • Bolar opened his mouth to speak, hesitated and then said, “How could your nephew” – I'm finding several of the dialogue tags really quite clunky. I don’t think the long tags are adding much to the meaning, just slowing me down in getting to the dialogue itself. I'm not saying bin them all, but long tags need to be interesting or add character/content/meaning, imho.
  • the Vicar said, surprised” – if you read this out loud, I bet you make a pause, even if it’s just a small one. If you read it with no pause, it sounds like ‘The vicar said “surprised”.’ – I think.
  • And… He is good” – another ellipsis issue, need a space there.
  • Your nephew should have registered for his Service work two years ago” – This stuff about training and apprenticeship makes Land seem foolish. He knew the rules, surely, but just decided unilaterally that Pet would be an exception to them and Land could just do what he wanted.
  • If he trained Petro with a sword, he’d learn to depend upon a weapon he may never be permitted to wield” – this doesn’t ring for me as a final line. I feel it doesn’t pack a punch, or leave a question hanging, especially.

I think this version is a lot better, but there are still things that could use more work. Not just the ellipses!! ;) Maybe it’s WRS, but I don’t remember the political setup, so references to the wider world leave me kind of confused, and making assumptions.

I’m struggling a little with Land’s character. I don’t get a strong sense of it; he seems a bit generic as a character, and doesn’t appear to feel strongly about all that much. I just listened to a WE cast about writing shorts, but someone mentioned the importance of giving a character a strong desire for something and playing off that. What is it that Land wants? Is it all about training Pet? If so, what makes it so important to him? Does Land have no family of his own? Why not? Maybe, secretly, Pet is Land’s son – or could be. I don’t know, I just feel I need more depth of character.

Hope these thoughts are useful.

<R>

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On 15/08/2017 at 5:31 PM, Gustaf Taen said:

One thing that you do and I (for one) dont subscribe to is the insertion of commentary after almost every line of dialogue, especially in the second part. Lots of detalis of the protagonists rising brows, hands, tapping of chins etc can be left out, as it detracts me from understanding what they actually say, and I'm loosing the meaning.

Yes, this is what is was trying to get at.

On 17/08/2017 at 8:27 PM, Mandamon said:

I'm waiting on a main plot of some sort, but aside from some bandits and a coming-of-age story for Pet, I'm not sure what it is

Yeah, I was going to say something about lack of 'wow'. I'm fine with a sequel chapter to allow a breather in pacing (depending on what you're going for), but I do agree with @rdpulfer about the pace. A lull is okay, but I can't remember how breathless the last chapter was, to know it the story has earned it here. Not saying it hasn't, just can't remember.

On 17/08/2017 at 8:27 PM, Mandamon said:

I would ask if, going in cold, the reader is going to care anything about the location if they aren't yet connecting with the character.

Completely agree with @Mandamon... and @kais, and @industrialistDragon; it's definitely a good deal better, but the big lack is character. I want something about Land to be unusual, intriguing, mysterious, unique. I want to root for him as an individual, but I just don't know why I should at this point. Big, massive character hook at the start of a story is vital, and i don't think it can be powers or magical sword or any of those MacGuffins, it has to be about him as a person, imho.

One thing I've started to find very useful is writing character portraits or little vignettes that are not intended for the main story. You can really go wild and stretch your imagination to find the depth in your characters. Some you bin, but some give the character whole internal arcs and motivations - can be really fruitful. Oh, fruit. Remember to avoid the low-hanging variety. Hero is good with a sword - yawn. Hero is good with an axe - hmm, slightly better. Hero is good with a hammer? You've got Thor. Okay, that's been done, but I use this only as an example of where you can end up by not accepting the first idea that presents itself.

Don't stop, keep going!! This is why they call it a work of fiction :) 

 

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