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toomsta

20171226 - toomsta - DUSK - Prologue & Chapter 1 - 3494 words (V)

16 posts in this topic

Hi All,

 

I'm really looking forward to this, being my first submission. You all look to provide detailed, quality, and helpful feedback from what I can see, and that is exciting. Because if there is one thing I want, it's good feedback. I will admit I am a little nervous, but only because no one has read this yet, so here goes!

 

I'm not going to give you a brief on this, other than to say it's a short prologue, and chapter one of a new fantasy story I'm writing. I write by reviewing an old chapter before starting a new one, so this is technically a second draft even though the novel is not yet finished.

 

I do hope you enjoy, but most of all I hope you all have a lot to say about it!

 

Enjoy, 

toomsta

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Hey, welcome to Reading Excuses! Lot of new submitters to the forum at the moment, but I never tire of reading new submitters; love that anticipation of something new! Off we go.

  • First line is fine for me; pretty much impossible to stop reading.
  • Typo: ‘barley’ > ‘barely’.
  • she prepared herself for the inevitable” – I was hoping for a bit more defiance, to be honest.
  • Para. 3 is rather wordy and the punctuation is a bit random. I like some of the imagery, and that you’re going for a vivid picture: just needs tidying up.
  • ‘conjuring’ used in successive paragraphs is a bit much.
  • I- steeled herself, and returned returning the gaze of the man who had once been like a father to her. He seemed much different now, his face still young but somehow appearing older, as if ragged at its edges.” – I'm so tempted to go wild with line edits, but I’ll restrain myself due to time pressures. Still, there are some good examples of the wordiness I was referring to. It’s not huge, just extra words that get in the way and reduce the ease and flow. Also, why is ‘Father’ capitalised? Unless it’s in the name/title of a priest, then no caps required.
  • Typo: “He paused a moment, starting staring at his hands” – also, comma required.
  • Why it ‘lightning’ capitalised? In the next paragraph, it’s not. I would encourage you not to go around capitalising stuff that doesn’t need it. I am very strongly of the opinion that it makes the reader stop and wonder why it’s capitalised. Look at published works of your favourite authors, I think you will find very little capitalisation, apart from names of people and places.
  • “…overcast sky painting the clouds a light green. The smell of fresh rain sitting on the breeze as it came in off the sea, though despite the threat of it, there had been none.” – This is not the first time you’ve done this. The second bit is part of the same sentence, not a new one, but also is a run-on sentence, once you’ve joined the first part. Same again with the next sentence “…goosepimples in her flesh, her relief only fleeting as the press of the crowd cut off the wind.
  • If only you could have the city, without the people” – okay, I get it, but then you wouldn’t have the readily available food, etc. The thought, as expressed, makes her seem a bit naïve.
  • Typo: “This a is just a little insurance.”
  • I'm enjoying your descriptions, that you're seeking to give colour to the world. That’s often missing from some of the submissions around here. Usual point about tidying up, but I enjoyed the image of F that you left me with.
  • Nice touch about the girl not having touched money. These are the little details that can set your work apart. I would say you need one of practically every page, but there’s no substitute for these little unexpected details to take a reader deeper into the story and the characters.
  • The bit about her finding herself alone in the city was sort of brushed over. I want to know the how and the why, but that’s good.
  • I-‘s mark being a fat man is, arguably, a bit of a stereotype, kind of low-hanging fruit, if you're familiar with the expression.
  • “…revelled in that comfort, soaking up the beauty…” – another recurring issue, there are a fair few commas missing. Have you read your story out loud? It’s an awesome and very easy (if time-consuming) hack to see where the pauses (and therefore commas, etc.) should be. Also, it’s sooo valuable for refining the dialogue.
  • I don’t think a passageway can be nefarious. I don’t think nefarious is a passive thing, but should be attached to an action. Also, the timeline here confuses me. If I- is some distance behind the man (maybe 10 yards?), but she can see the alleyway, I want her to feel the need to act quickly before the man walks past. I’m not feeling any urgency here.
  • You kind of devalue S----born straight away by implying that it is not rare, but certainly in seeming to belittle it in the way that I- thinks about it. I do like this punchline on Page 6 though, it does dial up the tension and make I- look competent, which is good!
  • Other people were, in general, the worst.” – I believe you need another comma where you are splitting out a phrase like ‘in general’. Also, I don’t like ‘the worst’ which, for me, is a modern expression in a setting with a historical tone. Personally, I think dialogue, internal monologue and narration in a fantasy story is way more effective if it keeps a tone that the reader would expect for the equivalent historical period. For example, I wouldn’t expect someone to say, ‘That’s groovy’ or ‘You’re so street’, or something like that. I’ll admit this instance of ‘the worst’ is a fairly mild example.
  • Repetition of ‘face’ in the same sentence when P is confronted.
  • Who is ‘H’ and how does the name come out in P‘s Point of View?
  • H saying that P won’t remember him sounded a bit odd to my ear.
  • Typo: “steading steadying himself with his arms
  • Grammar: “Every one of the were was sent…”
  • An Anger boiled up inside him.” – Something that I continue to work on in my writing is being more direct. It sort of comes back to the extra words point I was making earlier on. Here, for example, I think the emotion if more immediate if you drop the ‘And’, which doesn’t add anything.
  • “city watch” – was capitalised before, and I have no objection to that, as it’s the name of the organisation.
  • the blade catching spittle from his mouth” – here’s another one of those nice details I mentioned earlier on.
  • Grammar: “He didn’t notice the small girl that who crept out of the shadows”. Also, he does notice her, it’s the first thing he does, both in the narrative, then in his thoughts in the very next line.

I’ve grumbled about some grammar and style stuff but, overall, I enjoyed this. The prologue sets up a mystery of sorts, and the style is engaging enough that I’m drawn on to read the first chapter. I’ll mention again that wordsmithing would dial it all up another notch or two, and improve the flow. I enjoyed the description.

I thought the introduction of the magic was a bit confusing in terms of being S----born, but not S----born, and if not then what? I think that could be tidied up. I'm still not really clear on it. The magic itself, while clearly useful in a practical sense, didn’t seem very magical. It would have been nice to see I- casting and invoking the magic at the end of the POV, I think. Or maybe that would spoil the tension, but worth trying to see how it plays, I think.

So, I'm on board and keen to read some more of the story. One thing I would watch out for is your characters falling into cliché: the fat mark, the unkempt thieves. Not bad, but I would recommend always thinking in everything you do how you will make it stand out, feel different from other, similar, works. Have you read Lies of Locke Lamora? I rest my case.

Nice work. Hope you will submit again soon! :) 

<R>

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Thanks Robinski, that was quite fast - though I am not complaining. It's getting late here, but I will no doubt have to return the favor with your feedback tomorrow.

Your feedback is quite encouraging, despite the criticisms. Thanks for pointing out the issues with commas, and superfluous words. It's a trap I fall into. Just need more practice, and more feedback like this until I see it for myself everytime. As for the capitalisation, I didn't even notice myself, so I will have to tidy that up.

In relation to some specific points:

  • Quote

    If only you could have the city, without the people” – okay, I get it, but then you wouldn’t have the readily available food, etc. The thought, as expressed, makes her seem a bit naïve.

     

Bingo! Do you get the feeling she doesn't like or is not used to people?

  • Quote

    The bit about her finding herself alone in the city was sort of brushed over. I want to know the how and the why, but that’s good.

     

I worry a lot about dangling these lines, but I take a rule that if the character's context demands it, I have to say it. This isn't explaed until well into chapter 8 at the moment, I might have to consider that.

  • Quote

    I don’t think a passageway can be nefarious. I don’t think nefarious is a passive thing, but should be attached to an action. Also, the timeline here confuses me. If I- is some distance behind the man (maybe 10 yards?), but she can see the alleyway, I want her to feel the need to act quickly before the man walks past. I’m not feeling any urgency here.

     

This sounds like a rework is required. She is thinking on her toes, but it's not meant to be urgent. Perhaps it should be? Good tip I think, I will try this.

  • Quote

    You kind of devalue S----born straight away by implying that it is not rare, but certainly in seeming to belittle it in the way that I- thinks about it. I do like this punchline on Page 6 though, it does dial up the tension and make I- look competent, which is good!

     

How do I imply it's not rare? Bugger did I miss something in my own writing - wouldn't be the first time! Ha! How does I- belittle it? I believe it's mentioned at that punch line for the first time.

Quote

I thought the introduction of the magic was a bit confusing in terms of being S----born, but not S----born, and if not then what? I think that could be tidied up. I'm still not really clear on it. The magic itself, while clearly useful in a practical sense, didn’t seem very magical. It would have been nice to see I- casting and invoking the magic at the end of the POV, I think. Or maybe that would spoil the tension, but worth trying to see how it plays, I think.

I'd really love to get more info on what you mean here? The sole reason I need to shift to P-'s POV is because I don't want to reveal what I-'s gift is, and what being S----born may or may not mean. I want to put the reader in a victim's shoes, I want the reader to understand what it's like on the receiving end. This is why P- cries at the end, because the experience is important. I don't want to give it away, I would like to see your reactions as the information is given out. I'll just have to follow this up with the next few chapters to give a better picture, to see if it all fits and works. 

Having said that, did you pickup on what I- is doing? What the magic she can use actually is? 

I’ll think on the problem of the fat mark, honestly I just thought it would bring a smile to the face. I’ll find a way to steer away from the low hanging fruit. But the unkempt thieves thing is fine, I’m not really interested in them, and they only get one more mention at the start of the novel. I was actually playing with characters I love in Fagen and the Artful Dodger, I was hoping a reader might see the similarity ( a non obvious reference ).

i have read Lies, and I did love it. That stands out though because of the exquisite prose ( a talent I do not yet possess). But perhaps my setting or fringe characters could do something similar. Still I believe chapter two brings something very unique. 

Again, thanks for the fast and helpful feedback. 

 

Edited by toomsta
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Hey, no problem. Don't get used to it; I'm not usually that fast :lol: 

52 minutes ago, toomsta said:

Do you get the feeling she doesn't like or is not used to people?

Yes, totally. I think what threw me was that maybe she comes over a bit older than 10 years-old, I thought.

54 minutes ago, toomsta said:

She is thinking on her toes, but it's not meant to be urgent.

I take your point. I didn't explain well what I was getting at. My concern was that the alley was quite close, and by the time she finished noodling around P would have walked past it.

55 minutes ago, toomsta said:

How do I imply it's not rare?

Okay, I got confused because H said he was not S----born, but I was sure that it was I- who had manifested the vision of H somehow, therefore it felt to me like she was saying she wasn't S----born. Also, I think I might have misread with the first reference, when she is talking about her gift being rare - which probably didn't help! I certainly will take that bit back. There are other ways to imply rarity of course. It's probably more poetic, and almost clearer too, so say something like, 'Her gift was one in a million', i.e. to show, not tell.

1 hour ago, toomsta said:

The sole reason I need to shift to P-'s POV is because I don't want to reveal what I-'s gift is

In that case, pretend I didn't say anything :) 

1 hour ago, toomsta said:

I'd really love to get more info on what you mean here?

I guess because P is totally convinced that H is real, it just like some guy getting mugged in an alley--hence, no particular feeling of magic, even when H is shifting around, for me anyway. For conveying of magical feeling, I think you might have dwelled more on P's sense of wonder at H's shifting, or some of the other things that P has heard that S----born can do, allegedly.

1 hour ago, toomsta said:

I just thought it would bring a smile to the face

Smiling because the guy is fat? Hmm... This is straying toward stereotype, which is what I was hinting at. In my first novel (long, long ago...), I included the line 'Never trust a fat man'. I was trying to highlight a flawed thought process; that a chr who was fat was indulgent, therefore most likely greedy, and therefore bad (at heart). BUT, that was a gross generalisation (made in my callow youth, and which I am not proud of), even though I was trying to highlight the wrongness of it, and it quite clearly being unfair and untrue. Rather clumsily, I'm just trying to highlight a tricky area, and that--when it comes to physicality--one person's humour can be another's offence.

1 hour ago, toomsta said:

I was actually playing with characters I love in Fagen and the Artful Dodger, I was hoping a reader might see the similarity

Yup, threadbare and dirty thieves? It's pretty much a stick-on comparison with Fagin and crew, for someone of my age, anyway ;) 

If you've time to comment on my submission, that would be great. You can pretty much ignore the first bit, as it includes a synopsis of the whole story (and a summary of the next two books)!!

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Welcome to Reading Excuses!
As @Robinski says, you do have some good description in this submission, but some parts are a little hard to read because of grammar issues. I've marked a few that stood out to me. 

Overall, I like the concept for this and I'm interested to see where it goes. The girl has some hidden powers (I'm guessing detailed illusion?) and you set up some conflict around the S.B. magic users right off the bat. Some of the implementation is rough, but I think that can be fixed with an edit.

I was also a little surprised at I's age, both that she's doing all this on her own (and magically proficient) at 10, and that she is killed (supposedly) at 16 in the prologue. It implied to me that she had known A. for more than 6 years. I'm not completely sold on the prologue. It's short, so that's good, but I don't think it gives us any real tension going into ch 1, save that we think the main character will be killed at the end.

There's another mystery included about where I. is from, and how she grew up, but it's buried in the rest of things. There's hints about how she hasn't seen cities and/or money, but it very easy to miss it. I did the first time,and looks like Robinski did too. This to me is even more interesting than her pulling off the robbery. You could probably make it stand out a little more to add an extra hook to the reader.

Notes while reading:

pg 1: barley -> barely

pg 1: "It was the knowing passing between two enemies that understood its true meaning"
--need to clean up this sentence. I think I understand the meaning, but ti could be a lot clearer.

pg 2: "His body rippling with a thousand tiny sparks, coloured like the unnatural lightning above. 
--you have had a couple of the sentenses already. They should be combined with the sentence before, either with a comma or a semicolon.

pg 3: huh. Ok, I was not expecting this to take place previous to the prologue. Interesting.

pg 3: "Her relief only fleeting as the press of the crowd cut off the wind'
--same thing as above. This is not a complete sentence.

pg 4: " If you had seen his face however, you may have contested the reason for their parting"
--I'm not sure what this means. Is the man scary? terrified? Just ugly?

pg 5: "Ilse had never seen money before, let alone held any"
--I believe about not holding money, but was she raised in the wild? (EDIT: I looked back at pg 3 and realized you say she's only seen cities in the stones)

pg 6: Took me a minute to switch over the Pug's POV, but I think it works to show off the Stormborn power.

pg 7: "Hawk said, accenting his name with derision."
--Pug doesn't know Hawk's name yet.


 

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Thanks @Mandamon, I really appreciate the feedback.

Quote

I was also a little surprised at I's age, both that she's doing all this on her own (and magically proficient) at 10, and that she is killed (supposedly) at 16 in the prologue. It implied to me that she had known A. for more than 6 years. I'm not completely sold on the prologue. It's short, so that's good, but I don't think it gives us any real tension going into ch 1, save that we think the main character will be killed at the end.

The first time I started this story I went straight to the original conflict between I- and A-, but it meant the subsequent chapters were very boring, and in the end it wasn't interesting. So after doing a full outline I chose to jump into a point of the story where it was more interesting, leaving the backstory between I- and A- as something to discover. This meant I needed a prologue, so I wanted to keep it simple, to the point, and with information that you would remember - I really do hate long prologues that give information that isn't immediately required. You are expected to believe I- will be killed, hopefully creating an undercurrent of tragedy as you read the story.

As for I-'s age... I'm really hoping that makes more sense as you read. It's part of the mystery.

Quote

There's another mystery included about where I. is from, and how she grew up, but it's buried in the rest of things. There's hints about how she hasn't seen cities and/or money, but it very easy to miss it. I did the first time,and looks like Robinski did too. This to me is even more interesting than her pulling off the robbery. You could probably make it stand out a little more to add an extra hook to the reader.

I think when I wrote this I was concerned with drawing too much attention to specific details, but I needed to provide them all the same. I don't want information dumps, so I was trying to weave things into the chapter in a nonchalant manner, almost like it's a bit of flavour. The focus should be in I- and who she is in that moment, what she's doing, not dumping out her past. I think what I am reading from yourself and @Robinski, is that I don't need to do that. I can flesh them out a little more. It is meant to be more interesting than the robbery - it is the core of the plot. 

Thanks for your suggested edits. I'm going to do another pass on grammar, etc, clean up a few sentenced and then continue the story. I'll come back and do another pass before resubmitting down the track. I think I'd like to change Pug, and the robbery itself, but don't yet know how. 

I'm hoping I can drop chapter 2 and 3 in the next few weeks, so as I- develops and the plot takes shape I'd be very interested to see if I've chosen a good way to grab folks attention.

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9 hours ago, toomsta said:

I'm hoping I can drop chapter 2 and 3 in the next few weeks

I'd be happy to read them :) 

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Hello, and congrats on your first sub!

Overall

It was a good first draft, and held together alright. Little girl magician is interesting to me, and, generally, I'd be hooked to reading the next chapter (quibbles below aside) Parts could be trimmed, especially the prologue (which has no bearing on the first chapter) and first few pages of the first chapter. I don't have any sympathy for our lead little girl right now, as I don't know enough about her circumstances and her hatred of large people was a real turnoff. 

As noted below, you'll want to check the skin tone issue. You've got an assumption of whiteness, and a derogatory insinuation of black skin as being alien. That needs to go. Otherwise, decent first draft!

On 12/26/2017 at 3:11 AM, toomsta said:

The sole reason I need to shift to P-'s POV is because I don't want to reveal what I-'s gift is, and what being S----born may or may not mean

Unfortunately, this information would be a much better hook than a victim head hop POV. I'm on team 'keep us in I's head'

On 12/26/2017 at 4:27 AM, Robinski said:

that--when it comes to physicality--one person's humour can be another's offence.

This is very true, and obesity jokes just aren't funny if you really stop to think about them.

On 12/26/2017 at 8:27 AM, Mandamon said:

but I don't think it gives us any real tension going into ch 1,

#iagreewithmandamon

On 12/26/2017 at 8:27 AM, Mandamon said:

This to me is even more interesting than her pulling off the robbery. You could probably make it stand out a little more to add an extra hook to the reader.

Yes this! This is what I want to read, not the robbery!

 

As I go

- I think you should start the cold open on the last paragraph of the first page. It has much more connection and actually grounds us in the character. The stuff before just seemed like fluff and since I don't care about this character yet, none of it mattered to me

- FYI: prologues aren't in vogue anymore, and many agents won't even let you sub them. Probably best to just cut it, since there isn't enough there to ground us in a character

- for chapter one (which I would suggest be your new opening chapter), I suggest starting on the last paragraph of page three. This is where the action starts, and this is where I get interested in the book. The stuff before, like with the prologue, isn't relevant yet because I don't know the character at all

- If the body shaming is supposed to be in-character, fine, that tells me a lot about our MC (and I lose sympathy for her). It reads more like authorial voice though, so be careful with that. It's not good tone to take in a narrative

- page six: Stormborn? Too Game of Thrones. Suggest changing

- head hopping mid-chapter is also discouraged currently by agents, and can often lead to an auto-reject on just POV shift alone. If you're planning on shopping this around, I suggest removing mid-chapter POV shifts in favor of chapter POV shifts, and making sure to give us a few of our first protag before shifting over

- you're treating white skin as the default (and black skin as otherworldly). Of our characters thus far, you have only given skin tone to the black one, who is derogatorily described as a monster. This all should be changed to avoid casual racism

- Pug is pretty two dimensional and a bad caricature--a fat man obsessed with excess. Another character calls him 'pudgy' (although I assume this is the magic of the little girl?) and the body shaming imagery is really being hit over the head. He's fat. We get it. Rolling it into his apparent hoarding of money is a really unkind trope.

- if being storm born is so rare, how does Pug know about it?

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Thanks @kais, again like the others I appreciate the feedback.

Point taken on P- both his character and jumping to his POV. He's already changed from the earlier feedback, and yes I think I will dump his POV and rewrite it from I-'s perspective. That will be fun to work out.

The prologue is a tricky one, I'll just start again at chapter one and see if it works. I am sure I can find a place later in the novel to establish what the prologue is attempting to setup. I don't think it's quite true about prologues not being in vogue though, two of my favourite reads this year have prologues, as do a few others. But I don't think that's a point worth arguing, it's really just about whether I need one, and I think I can get away without one.

It also sounds like I need to reshape the first chapter to shed more light on I-, and focus less on what's happening. The robbery isn't really the point, so less focus on that would probably be a good thing. 

Quote

 page six: Stormborn? Too Game of Thrones. Suggest changing

Game of Thrones? Really? I'm going to hold onto it for now. It's a name derived from specific storms that affect this world. Strange purplish storms that cause Stormborn to "spark" with energy. I'm keeping it unless I can come up with something else that the people of this world would name magic users.

Quote

you're treating white skin as the default (and black skin as otherworldly). Of our characters thus far, you have only given skin tone to the black one, who is derogatorily described as a monster. This all should be changed to avoid casual racism

Yeah this is just unfortunate. The alien thing was in reference to his height, not skin - but yeah it does read like that. It's also P-'s perspective and he is a mild racist. Still if P's POV goes, then so does this, and I can leave his racism to out of the early chapters.

Quote

if being storm born is so rare, how does Pug know about it?

I think I just need to get the way the information is revealed correct. Being Stormborn means you have a gift, or possibly more. What gift(s) you have may vary. I-'s gift is rare, so rare she is the only living person to have it.

Everyone in this world knows of the Stormborn, it's impossible not to. The Emporer, the ruling council, they are all Stormborn. The Emporer's personal army, and most of the major families are too. 

I think I'll spend some time working through these issues and resub chapter one with chapter two in a few weeks.

Edited by toomsta
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Hi, I'm new to this too, so this won't be a very long critique. I really liked the use of voice in the first chapter and the prologue. Though I did feel that Ilse did sound a bit older than ten in her head. I think that is an easy fix though. Also there was one part that confused me in Pug's perspective, it was on pages 9-10, you tell the reader that he doesn't notice the little girl coming out of the shadows and then the next immeditate line is "Where did she come from" which tells the reader that he didn't notice her. A better word in the first sentence might be "hadn't noticed her" that way it lets the reader know that in the past he didn't notice her but now he does which would fit in with the next sentence. I really enjoyed it though, and I think you have some really great ideas. 

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7 hours ago, Rogueshar said:

Hi, I'm new to this too, so this won't be a very long critique. I really liked the use of voice in the first chapter and the prologue. Though I did feel that Ilse did sound a bit older than ten in her head. I think that is an easy fix though. Also there was one part that confused me in Pug's perspective, it was on pages 9-10, you tell the reader that he doesn't notice the little girl coming out of the shadows and then the next immeditate line is "Where did she come from" which tells the reader that he didn't notice her. A better word in the first sentence might be "hadn't noticed her" that way it lets the reader know that in the past he didn't notice her but now he does which would fit in with the next sentence. I really enjoyed it though, and I think you have some really great ideas. 

I worry about a protagonist who is 10 who seems be older. Then again everyone makes the same complaint of Enders Game.

She is meant to be an adult like 10 year old, but maybe 10 is too young. Would 14 make you feel like she can be a very mature teenager? 

Edited by toomsta
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58 minutes ago, toomsta said:

She is meant to be an adult like 10 year old

I'll be the voice of dissent. I thought she sounded fine for ten. Girls can grow up fast around this age, depending on external stimuli. 

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12 hours ago, toomsta said:

Would 14 make you feel like she can be a very mature teenager?

ROFL, sorry one of my main characters is a 14-yr-old girl, but there's no comparison. 10 is very young to have so much independent thought, but then an upbringing on the street would of course force her to grow up quickly. Still, even 12-yr-old would be more 'comfortable', I think for reader buy-in.

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9 hours ago, Robinski said:

ROFL, sorry one of my main characters is a 14-yr-old girl, but there's no comparison. 10 is very young to have so much independent thought, but then an upbringing on the street would of course force her to grow up quickly. Still, even 12-yr-old would be more 'comfortable', I think for reader buy-in.

Yeah there's a story element which means she is far more mature and independent than a 10 year old should be. But since I don't want to tell the reader for some time, I think it best I age her a bit to get buy-in. Being 10 isn't critical, just being young is.

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Hello and welcome to RE!  Sorry for the late reply, hopefully this will still be marginally helpful.

 

As I go:

 

-- Not digging this prologue. It isn't hooking me much, and I'm left wondering at its purpose. I'm getting a murky sense of the world and what might be a main protagonist, but it's a prologue, so there's a good chance Ils is just a one-off POV and thus not worth becoming invested in (note from future me: I see that Ils is a protagonist in the next chapter too. Yay!). My experience reading prologues and other "before the theme starts" button scenes is that the characters in them tend to die, be dead, or are otherwise irrelevant to the main story, to the point that I will sometimes skim or even skip a prologue in a book to get to "the real stuff" sooner.  If it's important to the story, then it should be the first chapter (or moved to the place where it is most important); if it's not important to the story... why is it here?

-- I'm seeing some grammar and word choice issues, but you didn't request line edits (and I'm sure @Robinski will catch most of the one I'd find anyway), so I'll leave them be. :)

-- ils' POV is oddly ageist for being the inside of a confident 10-year-old's head. Like @kais,  I don't mind the maturity, though I might agree that upping her age to 11 or 12 might read better to others (certainly no higher, though, as then you're going to run into the baggage that comes with a teen protag), but lines like "it still should be impossible for someone of her age and stature" keep popping up and those are what's kicking me out of her worldview in these early pages.  Like, that feels like something an adult would think of a child, not really something a child would think of itself. 

-- But I do enjoy the street rat and thieves guild tropes, so I'm already hooked and enjoying things!

--" she was Stormborn" is she a mother of dragons too? ;)  I will be disappointed if there aren't dragons and she doesn't befriend some and/or all of them. Those two words together in a fantasy novel come with expectations nowadays and I adore me some dragons, so bring 'em on! 

-- " her gift was rare" she doesn't know what money is, but knows the relative occurrences of various types of magical powers and how they relate to her own? Not that a kid wouldn't be interested in comparing itself to others (kids love hierarchies), but this ... I guess it feels a bit like telling rather than showing, since it's such a bland statement. 

-- The fat man's name is P? Ouch. Nominative determinism can be fun and all, but that's a bit on-the-nose. 

-- " he wasn’t in the business of being liked" <> I'm not here to make friends.  

-- I definitely agree with everyone else about the fat=greedy trope. He can be fat, and he can be greedy, but to one with the other as the work seems to is problematic. This section was a rough read for me and should probably be overhauled, if for nothing else than the way P thinks about himself.  Again, a confident person who accepts their body doesn't disparage it left and right in internal monologues. 

-- Also-also agree with  @kais with regards to using "beast" and other monstrous, inhuman imagery to describe persons of color. That's.. that's just really, REALLY bad. Serious Unfortunate Implications territory, no matter WHAT the intention really is.  For a real and significant part of history inhuman or animal-like terminology for African-Americans and other people of color was used to legit do things like excuse slavery. Even now this kind of terminology will pop up to "explain" systemic societal issues instead of doing the actual work of addressing the actual flaws.  I get a youngster's idea of scary and intimidating will be painting with a broad brush, but this is just bad. The image can still be giant and imposing and scary, but either the skin color needs to go, or the beastlike descriptions do. 

-- I am having some trouble with the blocking for the alleyway scene. I get that it's illusions, but it's very unclear what direction any one entity is facing at any given point in time. 

 

Overall:

A good start and an interesting premise! I haven't gotten much information about ils, but I like her confidence and competency, and I'm even okay with her age. There seems to be some issues with using caricatures for the supporting cast, that do need addressing, however. I also found the tone and cadence of the text to be a little ... stuffy? Stodgy? Part of it is the epic fantasy subgenre, which tends to sound stiff to my reading ear in general, but I think that it's possible to find a balance between natural flow of language and the elevated tone the story requires.

 

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Posted (edited)

Thanks @industrialistDragon, you're not late. I'm in the middle of a rewrite, so it's still good to here another perspective.

I ditched the prologue, obviously wasn't working. We start right in the action now. I've also aged I- to 12, I think that just helps a little. Thanks too for the tip about stuff that takes you out of her worldview. This is only my second novel, and my first is, frankly, a piece of trash - that was worth writing mind you. I need to be careful I don't slip into an omnipotent narrator, I still do that.

Pug is gone, completely. I originally re-wrote his whole scene, but when I ditched the prologue I had to rearrange some things and decided to ditch him too. It didn't matter, the robbery wasn't the point, and I only needed his POV because I didn't want to spell out what I- was doing. I've decided not to be afraid of that and just write her perspective when she's using her gift. Hopefully I can submit that soon for everyone to rip apart enjoy.

Yup I take everyone's point about "beast" ... When I read it now I'm like "what were you thinking", but I was so blind to that when I wrote it. I- still has an dark skinned friend who is massive, but I'm reading around a bit and trying to learn how to deal with that without falling into any traps.

Quote

A good start and an interesting premise! I haven't gotten much information about ils, but I like her confidence and competency, and I'm even okay with her age. There seems to be some issues with using caricatures for the supporting cast, that do need addressing, however. I also found the tone and cadence of the text to be a little ... stuffy? Stodgy? Part of it is the epic fantasy subgenre, which tends to sound stiff to my reading ear in general, but I think that it's possible to find a balance between natural flow of language and the elevated tone the story requires.

I'm not trying to write epic fantasy, or maybe more importantly I'm aiming for 140k words, so it would be short. I really do want to avoid elevated tone, but I'm also still working out my own writing style. Part of the trouble is that I will write something then edit the absolute hell out of it for days. So by the end it probably reads all over the place to anyone who isn't me. I really need to write something, put it away, then come back much later and edit it. I'm pretty sure that would net better results in addition to reading it out loud. I'm going to fo that for the re-write, so you can tell me if it works of not!

Also, I'm trying to work out something other than Stormborn - I get it, and no there are no dragons (at this point). I keep coming back to "sparks", but that just seems silly. Hmmm...

Thanks again for the effort in giving me feedback too.

Edited by toomsta
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