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About KateJ

  1. Couple specific sentences that are confusing: "Before she could answer Albertus, there was the stranger. She was closer now. Much closer. So close Adalir could make out the face beneath. It was the eyes. She couldn’t see them, and it scared her." - I can't picture this. Where is the stranger? Does anyone else see her? “Albertus… The whole thing at Blue Lilies… is there anything you suspect could have triggered such a thing?” - Didn't they trigger the "thing" on purpose to see if Adalir could use fairy magic? is Gadstis supposed to creep me out? Right now I'm thinking Adalir has no common sense at all. Is this a character trait for her? So far she's put herself into really dangerous situations several times and she doesn't seem to realize it. There are a lot of nice hints of worldbuilding, the stuff with seasons. I think the scene with the gift book needs a little bit of work - it doesn't quite flow right - but at the same time it does a great job of signaling to the reader "this world and ours are connected, and in fairly modern times". This is the kind of world building I love to see. Give me hints and glimpses and don't pound me over the head with "look! Weird stuff!" - you do great here. It's a real strength. What happened to the pet creature from chapter 1? In fact it vaguely felt like something was missing between the last chapter and the start of this one. Most of the time your language and grammar are really excellent. A few times there are mistakes that draw me out - "your" for "you're", "it's" when you mean "its". Don't interrupt writing your story to go back and fix these but if you're at all rusty on certain grammar rules, you might want to peruse a book or two. When she's in her vision and the spirits are all saying "I'am" - I had trouble reading this right, I'm not really sure how it's supposed to sound. Now the harshest criticism.... this is an interesting premise, but in these chapters I got dangerously close to not caring about Adalir. I think it was the abusive stupid foster family. I've seen it done a hundred times in fiction and it's kind of old. If it's not a major plot point (like they know she's got powers and hate her; but then why adopt her?) then my suggestion is make her like her foster family. Make them like her, and treat her well. Make her not fit in for other reasons - like they love her but they don't quite understand how book-smart she is, or her foster mother despairs of teaching her to bake cakes or something. This is just a suggestion. Feel free to totally ignore it. But if the story is going to turn into a "teenage girl with weird powers goes off and has adventures" story, then giving her a happy home life might actually make her more angsty and conflicted.
  2. Thread for feedback on most recent chapter of my story. Thanks in advance for your helpful critiques! I've really gotten a lot out of the suggestions thus far!
  3. I'd be interested in submitting for Jan 2nd but I won't be around to read next week so I wouldn't want to submit either. I'd go with no submissions December 26th.
  4. What is Gilbert's wealth? My impression of a medieval setting is that a lord's wealth is largely the land he owns; and 11th century money won't exactly convert easily. How old is Hugh? 16? 1979 - is this world supposed to be like ours? Because it wasn't common to carry a weapon in 1979. Concealed carry laws were basically nonexistent at the time so people didn't lawfully carry at all. They would probably have either a 1911 model gun or something like a Walther p38 or a Browning Hi-Power, as Glock hadn't yet introduced their first modern-style pistol and triggered that particular trend. Since Hugh put his in a pocket it's probably something smallish like a P38. (If I read this wrong and it's not supposed to be 1979, make sure your "midwestern state" isn't Illinois or you'll have the same problem with legality - though nobody lets a teenager walk around with a gun in his pocket.) I liked the scene with Elizabeth and her daughters. The big "I am having trouble with believing this" bit is the 20th century American end. Either everyone there knows about the Bridge in which case it should be a really big deal - like, the government came in and confiscated the land and manages things - or no one does in which case the knights wandering around really should attract a lot of attention. Also I'm not convinced that the characters you say were debating whether it's parallel worlds or a single timeline have the background to have that kind of understanding. It seems a bit of a stretch that a native of the 11th century could get past "it's magic" or "it's a miracle" to discuss quantum theory and paradoxes. Is there a way to convey this to the reader without having the characters wonder it? Why is the brother "Robert Malet" while the family is the Malloys?
  5. ACharles - thanks, this was very helpful. I've been wrestling for the last month whether to tear out the subplot that had Alena's sisters as viewpoint characters and you've actually shown me that I need to just go ahead and do this. It's Alena's story and they are hijacking it for no good reason. Similarly I need to get in Alena's head more. I was trying to convey that right now Alena feels like the rug was pulled out from under her. She's been preparing to succeed her father since she was ten years old and all of a sudden her stepmother comes along and says not so fast. Alena was psyching herself up for a totally different fight - over who she would marry - and now she's got this other more important thing and her father just died. She's a bit numb. But that's not coming out so I need to fix it. Alena is twenty and her sisters are 16. I didn't feel like what her sisters do is too out of character for a 16 year old in a quasi-medieval setting but I'll read it again with that in mind and perhaps tweak things. I was actually concerned that Alena is too old to be believably unmarried! LongTimeUnderdog, I am trying to make use of your criticism. You have some good things to say, but I have to admit I had to read it a couple times to get past what I perceived as your tone. I'm a bit bemused... ok as the writer I did a bad job signaling that the magic stuff is not a major plot thread, that there's not a mage school story here. (Also since the last two books I read featuring mage schools were Patrick Rothfuss's Name of the Wind and Brent Week's Black Prism, I really don't know why you bothered mentioning it as a "female writer" thing) Anyway thanks for the feedback - I really do appreciate it.
  6. This story reminds me very much of Philip Pullman's Golden Compass. I liked that book although the sequels degenerated into polemics. If you were not aware of the similarities, I wanted to point them out. Have you done a lot of writing before this story? Your work is missing a lot of the telltale flaws that really new writers make. It needs some polishing but there is a diamond in there for you once you've put the work in. Who is your audience for this story? Is it young adult or adult fantasy? If it's YA then you definitely need to reduce the amount of information you're trying to convey in the first few pages and change a lot of the wording. Some phrases are awkward: "running at her heels beside her", "Adalir said sarcastically, thinking aloud", "Soon enough, maybe it wouldn’t be meetings she would be spying on, but boys. To Penny, they were all the rage at this year in their life. On second thought, she didn’t think so." - There are other examples too where things just sound... awkward. Not things that people actually say or think. I highly recommend reading your work aloud or getting someone else to read it aloud, and listen to it. I've found that an incredibly helpful tool myself. "Sebastian answered, in the unmistakably drawl of John Wayne. Not knowing who or what world John Wayne came from, Adalir merely accepted it as a source of amusement." - Sorry, this needs to go. You are supposed to be in Adalir's point of view and she could not possibly think this. I vaguely get the sense that a lot of words you use are almost but not quite the word you really want. Like " most adamant interest" - adamant really doesn't seem like a word someone would use here. Or in the same speech you use "verbalize" - if you want to tell the reader that the person speaking is incredibly pompous and thinks highly of his own intellect, keep it, but it's a really awkward word. Why not just use "tell"? Albertus's speech is an infodump. It's pretty well done and you've set it up well - it's believable that he would give some of this information, with an academic setting and all - but there's too much here for the reader to process. I know you want to give the reader a basis for understanding how the magic works but perhaps Albertus isn't the one to do this. Or this format. Later when Albertus and Adalir are interacting, what I was really wanting to see was a tutoring lesson where Albertus is getting Adalir to review whatshe knows, correcting her when she makes stupid mistakes, etcetera. That would let you put in some character development and phrase the whole thing as a conversation which is always more interesting to read than a speech. The speech is well done, like I said, but I think it's just too much to process. "When I picked up where my father left off at the age of 16" - did he pick up the work at 16, or did his father abandon the work when the father was 16? Somewhere on page 7 I got lost in all the names. There's just too much here. I can't take it in. "shouldn’t of" - is actually "shouldn't have" and if you have to abbreviate it would be something awkward like "shouldn't've" - this is a pet peeve of mine. "He methodically combed his gelled hair with his father’s switchblade." - a switchblade is a knife, not a comb. You can't comb your hair with it. "held a switch that had blood dripping from the end" - a switch is used to whip someone. It would not draw blood unless the person was really seriously injured. Do you mean to imply to the reader that this gang had just implied and savagely beaten someone. I like Rayann really hate bully scenes so I was kind of not wanting to like this anyway but it's just too much. These aren't childhood bullies these are psychopaths and delinquents and if no adult is willing to stop them then... that says something bad about the adults in your story. "What she had mistaken for rain water wasn’t rain water at all. It was a dampness between her legs, and she saw she had her first flow and hadn’t even realized it." - She's 16? I had the impression that this world was fairly like ours and it would be very unusual for a girl to first menstruate that late in our world. Also if she's bleeding enough to leave a trail? She'd know it. If the first menstruation is a big deal - between this being her birthday and the later hints about her parents it might be - keep it but change it. Maybe have her realize when she gets to the bathroom why there's blood on her or something - but it really makes me cringe like this. First Albertus scolds her for throwing the bully through a window, then for not standing up for herself? It feels a bit incoherent. I do like Albertus and Adalir both - but I would like to know more about their relationship too. Hope that was helpful! Like I said you've got a fascinating world here and some real interesting ideas, but there's roughness in the delivery. I got a lot of good advice from a book called "The Art of Fiction" by John Gardner which taught me to use hard, earthy Anglo-Saxon words in place of ten-dollar Latin/French words whenever I could - in your story the example I mentioned was you said "verbalize" when the word "tell" or something similiarly short and punchy would be better.
  7. I'd like to submit again this coming Monday, if that works.
  8. First off - you've got a detailed world with a history and cosmology that feel very thought-out. That's excellent. It feels like you have good skill with world building and big grand epic ideas. Awesome! Second, the writing is rough in spots. I took notes as I was reading and I'll paste them in now: Quick question - are you British? Some of your spellings seemed British. " , If this is the price, was it worth it? The destruction of an entire civilisation, just because of the overuse of magic? Soon though, we will start anew, and then we can stop something like this happening again." - First sentence, awesome and evocative. Second two sentences were a bit info-dumpy, less what someone might actually think. Your dialogue needs some work. For instance, on page two someone says "Nope" which is very jarring in this setting. Try reading all your dialogue aloud and asking if anyone actually speaks that way. Similarly, you use a lot of "said book"isms. IE instead of just saying "he said" you'll say "he moaned", "she responded", "voice sung", etcetera. "Said" or "asked" is basically invisible to the reader. Anything that replaces "said' sticks out. Save it for when you really want to call attention to how they are saying something. The five siblings are hard to tell apart. That's probably inevitable at this part of the story. You're mentioning the meeting happening at noon, then they are doing magic and the sun is setting. Are they really doing magic for hours? Make me feel the time passing! Biggest flaw with this scene is I do not understand why the world has to be destroyed, nor why these people are right or wrong to make that decision. Are they gods? Just powerful mages? Crazed mad wizards? Later they show up as the gods of the new world, on the side that we are supposed to root for, and - ugh, I just think "wow, these guys murdered everyone they knew because they had decided there was no way to save them". We have words for people like that and they are not nice words. Either play this up more - point out that the Gods are actually evil murderers - or give the reader more understanding of why they are doing what they are doing. "The place where the Daemons were banished to, outside the twelve worlds, or Realms that were governed by the Gods, that they had created, and looked after, nurtured the life on their two worlds." - I don't understand this sentence. Actually I'm confused about your worlds and realms and things. "Oh, how she hated death; it was a pointless waste of life." - this is an unintentionally funny line. At least, if it's supposed to be funny it's defusing the carefully built tension of your scene, and if it's not supposed to be funny, it comes off as odd. “Yes, it is still located in the same mountain range, the Mountains of Magic, that you remember, they still reside there, training our magicians as usual" - there are a couple of other places where you do infodump in your conversations. People don't talk like this. Have you read this blog post from Brandon about stilted dialogue? http://www.brandonsanderson.com/blog/459/Ten-Elements-of-Bad-Storytelling-6-%28-Warbreaker%29 “What do you mean you are as strong as me in magic? " - He didn't say magic, why does she assume he means in magic? Also next two lines of dialogue would work better as internal monologue - something she thinks but does not say. Is Athir really dead? If she is, then you've spent a lot of pages seting up characters and the only sympathetic viewpoint you wrote is gone. Also her death seemed really anticlimactic - I wasn't sure she was dead until the end. I would remove the prologue. Save that information for later. It actually would make Hinther's words about the Gods destroying their own world stronger. I'm very confused as to why there were 5 "Gods" at the start and 6 later. There were 5 elements represented, if there's a 6th element that is bad or banned you should make that clear. Your story is vivid. Your writing is rough in places. Your narrative writing will not take too much work to clean up but your dialogue needs work. Most lines sound stilted. We don't write dialogue the way people really say it - we leave out most of the "uhs" and "you knows" - but we also don't want to write dialogue that doesn't sound like what people would really say. Anyhow, I hope you found this useful. If it's not the sort of critique you find helpful let me know so next time I can be more in tune to you.
  9. Thanks for the feedback! Guen, I'll have to think about adding more description. It's a weak spot for me, always has been. I'd appreciate feedback as you read through as to whether it is too stark or whether the story carries itself without much description in places. Also it's supposed to be "kingsdaughter" one word. It's her title and station in life. Austin, interesting plot suggestion but not to give away too much plot but I'm currently writing chapter 20 and Meridith has not had her child so.... Good point about making Alena more likable. I did intend for her to come off as competent at first but if that makes her hard to follow then I'll have to think about it.
  10. http://www.writingexcuses.com/2008/11/ Season 2 episode 5 is about writing groups - I need to relisten to it myself but - hey, we're supposed to be the writing excuses writing group so...
  11. This is the discussion thread for my first chapter submitted to Reading Excuses. I'd appreciate any and all honest feedback although I haven't given you much to start on - but Chapter Two made the submission a bit too long.
  12. Thanks Silk for adding the clarifications. I'll go ahead and check to make sure my submission looks good.
  13. I'd like to submit the start of my novel this week. I've written a lot so I'd like to do two chapters at once for a little while, the early chapters are fairly short. Is there etiquette to submitting or does one just mail the submission to the email address?
  14. Hi, I'm new to this group so hope you find my feedback useful. First off: you've got some very detailed settings. I can feel you've spent time on worldbuilding and know a lot about the world. Makes things feel really solid. Second, I liked the prologue a lot more than the first chapter. Unfortunately some of what you did in the prologue set me up to not like Till. I like Coil a lot more. That said: if Coil is not the main character or a main character, cut out the trip outside the city and his mother's death. If it's setting up a character arc, maybe edit it some. Here's notes I made while I was reading through the first time: "everlasting walls" - we are introduced to them collapsing. If "everlasting" is a name and not a description, make that clear, because right now it just jerks me out of the story. Adjectives and adverbs. - "deep groans of shattering earth and the pithy shrieks of panicking civilians, Coil could barely make out the sound of ringing steel". In other places you'll use them two deep - you said someone had a "steady, limping" gait and even on top of the imagery there not working, that's too many descriptors. Try to keep to one adjective or adverb per sentence, two in your long ones. This forces you to consider which of them is the most important and actually adds depth and realism. "Coil the tasted sweat and musk of a stranger." - typos. You've got a few. Not excessive, but try reading your work aloud and seeing if that makes it easy to spot. "“Evacuation,” Coil wheezed to no one in particular, his orders not escaping him" - he doesn't wheeze to no one in particular. Either there are people around him he's sort of talking at, or he's talking to himself "Well," he said to himself as he took his first, uneasy step towards the hold of the red magician, "that was easier than expected." - I'm very confused here, really. Are you evoking an unexpected disaster, or a predicted one? Why was it "easier than expected"? This phrase really doesn't seem to connect with the previous vivid scene. Kind of drew me out of the narrative Emotional impact of the memory of Coil's mother's death is weak. I think it's because you build up him accepting his own death and then save him and kill his mother. Perhaps don't mention right now that she died, and use it later as a surprise? "beard that always seemed to need a sword taken to it" - the imagery here is weird. I can't see trimming a beard with a sword. A knife, perhaps, but a sword? For some reason I had trouble keeping Till and Surr straight. To me those names are too similarly constructed. It got easier when Surr went away but still, find a stronger way to set Till apart and make it clear how important he is to the story. Also, briefly I thought Ayami was Surr's wife and could not figure out why she was there. It's good that you got across how important she was to both men - assuming that matters later. I really have no clue what Till thought he was doing, what he actually did, and how evil he is. He's coming across as evil, by the way, self serving and superior, so if that's what you want then you did great. "But then, they didn't come to Till because of his professionalism. They came because he was the best. “That's why they come to me.”" - It kind of weakens the thought to repeat it, to have it both in the narration and the dialogue The rest of the scene with the merchant works but it's a big letdown after the prologue. Necessarily so! You had great tension and imagery in the prologue. Till is coming across fairly petty here. Is that the intention? I hope you have a sympathetic viewpoint like Coil to bring back for the reader - I'd get weary of Till's viewpoint after a while and need a break. Oh - by the way. You do a marvelous job of staying in the head of your POV character. Great job there - the voice is different between Till and Coil, they see the world in different ways, and you stayed with one the whole way through a scene. Very nice job.