Severian4Scadrial

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About Severian4Scadrial

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  1. I'm up for Monday if it's open.
  2. GIMME (Seriously, though, fantasy rarely touches the Pike and Shot era, and I love psychological stuff).
  3. Coming right up Submission #1 is the first chapter of Part 2 of that project (I'm working on both simultaneously). It is a bit different from what I normally write (Part 1 is more of a low-magic Intrigue-Fest, but the recent outline revision wiped out most of my previously-drafted chapters). I actually haven't read any Vance -- I'm getting to it already! -- but Gene Wolfe's New Sun series is basically Vance 2.0, so I can at least count myself a fan of the genre. Also... By the Forgotten Gods, man! That's a lot of writing! Gets on knees. Bows repeatedly.
  4. @aeromancer pointed me to this Very Old Thread for introductions, so I might as well introduce myself! I hail from Reddit r/fantasywriters, where I critiqued quite a bit but very rarely posted because, while I've nothing at all close to publication or indeed simple completion, ambition oft exceeds ability, and I'm positively paranoid about letting cats out of bags. I write mostly relatively dark, low-magic fantasy, as well as some historical fiction set in the Later Roman Empire and Barbarian successor states. My main project -- which is nowhere near a full first draft, but which I have been outlining and drafting random bits of for a good while now -- is a two-part epic about the ruling family of a crumbling empire who live in a particularly strange palace. I've also got several other stories set in that world, which takes cues, like most of my work, from 5th-6th century A.D. Europe and Central Asia, and which may best be considered a sort of Late Antique Dying Earth setting, with magic substituted -- per Clarke, backwards -- for technology. Oh, I'll also dabble in science-fiction occasionally, though as science is for me -- see above -- essentially witchcraft, it's usually just an excuse to write something modern and fantastical. Being as I am relatively tired of historical and fantastical fiction saddling its characters with -- aside from, occasionally, a new twist on a current political issue or a thorny custom or two that gets in the way of certain characters marrying or shaking hands properly -- modern western worldviews, most of my fantasy elements center on moral systems. Our fantasy worlds, after all, ought to have developed completely different philosophical traditions than our own world. It's a simple matter of convenience that most authors choose to copy and paste; I can't fault them -- they choose to focus on things like elaborate magic systems, detailed history, or brilliant new species, and this is not a lesser choice -- but I do see some potential for expansion here. Though the religion is a descendant of an old magic system I made back when this was a high fantasy story and so can get ludicrously complicated, my main project doesn't explore this effect as much as I'd like, but some upcoming stories set in the Merchant Republic down the road certainly will. (Open for book recommendations for books that do this: I don't encounter enough of them. I'm certainly no philosopher, so -- though thankfully taking a broad philosophical tradition and filtering it down to popular moral belief doesn't necessarily require the wisdom of the ancients -- I'd love worldbuilding tips when I do wade deeper into this). Aside from Sanderson, my favorite fantasy authors are Gene Wolfe, Mervyn Peake, and Robin Hobb. I also love Tolkein, particularly his battle descriptions -- I'll often turn to a random page in Return of the King if I need to get out of Academia Mode and jumpstart my creative side -- but I'm afraid I can't go toe-to-toe with hardcore fans who've delved into the deep dark depths of the ChristopherCanon. _______ What I can help with: Prose Nitpicks (kinda), character details (need a character to stand out? I'll come up with something weird). What I need help with: Even plotting, writing non-climax scenes that aren't just fluff (I write two kinds of scenes: strolling down the street yakking about Big Cahuna Burgers, or fighting to the death against mortal enemies), PACING.
  5. True. I think part of this point may have just been me already knowing the protagonist's position. As you said, I'm slightly allergic to info-dumps generally and, being used as I am to Robin Hobb working fans into a frenzy trying to figure out the Fool's gender, I probably reacted more strongly to that particular instance than will most people here. Somehow or other it should probably be established early on, considering it's a submission requirement, but -- well, see below -- I believe it could be presented more concisely. Speaking of which, I never noticed a single instance of awkward substitution of binary pronouns for a non-binary character -- as I did in my critique -- or of the even more awkward "they." Nice one, OP. Between this and my Advice for New Writers post, I may be positioning myself -- to engage in a little Egotism -- as the resident Hammer of Info-dumps. Feel free to wield it against my own upcoming submission, whose narrator delights in a good info-dump.
  6. This is my first critique, so I do hope I'm doing this right and it's at least somewhat helpful. Overall: very compelling setting and character, and I'd like to read more, just needs some tweaks -- which I've enumerated below for you to consider in Draft 2 -- with regard to plot presentation. _____________ First off -- I love the voice. You've got a gruff character who's evidently been through hell, so feel free to play into it. I like the feeling that she's talking into the camera, and the short, snappy sentences really convince us she's been standing out in the dust for hours on end. That, you certainly didn't overdo. I think, however, you do need to watch your world-dumps. E seems like a terribly nostalgic person, but she doesn't need to reminisce every other paragraph for us to get a picture of her pain. Give us images -- the snow freezing over the river so she can walk home worked particularly well -- not an explanation of how Earth abandoned Q that presumably anyone the character might have a chance to relate this to would already know. The simple lack of supplies and dwindling population will let us put that together. Constantly mentioning "it's like this sort of thing I used to remember on Earth," combined with one or two specific memories, ought to let you cut some of the explanation. You've already done a good deal of this: it was a perfect character moment when E pointed out that one of the Ms' garments was dyed Earth blue. (That being said, some of your more direct monologue sections do work. That part at the beginning of p. 11 -- I couldn't give her the ocean -- could make a Koloss start sniffling. Just err on the side of ruthless cutting and you'll be fine with a few moments like these; this one fits particularly well with the one or two specific memories portion of our Pyramid of Nostalgic Regret). Same thing with your explanation of the gender question on p. 7. This might just be because I read your critique request and so knew already that the protagonist would not conform to traditional gender roles, but I'd already gotten the sense by that point that she was something different. By the end of the story, I knew for sure. If she's not going to define exactly how she identifies herself, that means she presumably isn't quite sure. As she's a first-person narrator, we shouldn't be so sure either, especially considering the only way to state this explicitly comes across as rather a forward statement of purpose; it's much better for the audience to accept this character as an intriguing part of the story and engage with her organically than for you to tell them what they're supposed to be seeing. (It's also reasonably simple to understand that Q is an all-female planet from the way you describe it, so you don't really need to say this either if we're only introduced to female characters, or at least characters who aren't explicitly male). I didn't get much of a sense of E's scientific expertise, and actually didn't realize she was a scientist until after I read your critique request a second time. I think this can be done with the method above: just have her throw around scientific terms, or describe things in scientific ways. You tell us the beetle has five legs: it probably has something -- from what little I can remember of elementary biology -- to do with some sort of mutation of some alpha gene somewhere that you'd absolutely be in a better position to describe than me, so let her describe it that way. We all walk a fine line with jargon, but I think this can be more of a persuasion than anything else, a throwaway line or two, almost field notes that would instinctively pop into her head, about something she studies (or at least used to). The prose is gorgeous. I already said its structure enhances the voice really well, but I can't emphasize this enough. If security wasn't so tight, I'd start quoting lines. E's the perfect character for internal monologue one-liners, and you've a gift for them. I do have some nitpicks -- certain sections are a tad clunky and certain metaphors a tad overdrawn -- but this is a first draft, so there's no real use mentioning them; just watch for odd-sounding descriptions (there's a particular instance with snowshoes if you're wondering what I'm talking about, or, catchers' mitts from baseball, unless there's some other kind of catcher's mitt on Q) when editing. It's not as explicit as the descriptive world-building, but I'd also try and make the dialogue a bit more vague. Let the characters introduce themselves, talk about inane things. This is a bit of personal preference creeping in -- I tend to have this beef with a lot of authors -- and it may run contrary to your world; the damnation dust gets everywhere, so people can't help but be get to the point. However, if you are just reflexively shoving conversations towards the plot -- don't worry, you haven't pulled a Ken Follett -- I'd consider letting them off the leash a little; these two are sisters after all, and I feel like they'd only get to something like N snapping at E to join the council and change things goddammit after a significant buildup. Because it's such a significant plotline, I also felt like you could have mentioned T's ailment and fatal decision a little more obliquely. It may be possible -- you'd have to try it out and see if it actually worked -- to get the whole thing across with a few mentions of E's favorite memories of T randomly inserted, combined with a simple, curt reference to how she went out into the desert to die. As is, while I certainly didn't see the ending coming, the passages on T seemed rather too overtly flagged as a DRAMATIC CHARACTER MOMENT, where I think, if we're dealing with a grieving character, she ought to insert T wherever possible into the material I described in my second paragraph. This may be out of character -- E may be trying to repress memories of T -- but from the way she describes it in the current draft it appears rather that she is awash with them, which I feel could come out more organically. That being said, the ending hits like a ton of bricks. The world-building really draws you in. I want to know how these people live in such a desolate environment, and I found myself relishing your descriptions of it. When that last line rolls out, it feels like the Star Destroyer suddenly bursting across the screen in the first few shots of Star Wars. This is going to be one hell of a ride. tl;dr -- Compelling, necessary character buy-in, spot-on worldbuilding, interesting through-line: Hell Yeah. Too much Info-Dumping: Also yes. ____________ Edit: in retrospect this critique does seem rather prescriptive rather than descriptive. I usually like to suggest solutions to problems I may encounter, but if you feel like I'm doing it too much, or in a way that warps your second draft -- a phenomenon about which I've heard several authors complain when showing early drafts to writing groups -- please do tell me.
  7. A Guideline, and then a Practice: (1) Show, don't tell. You've (a) probably heard this before, and I'm (b) hardly qualified to relay it considering I never finish anything I try to write, but in addition to the usual advice to keep your hand tight, I find a lot of people in Newbland -- myself included -- tend either to rely overmuch on character thoughts, or simply info-dump motivations and the like. Once they're past that stage, they info-dump through dialogue: witty though they may be, characters speak of the plot, all the plot, and nothing but the plot. This is a matter of preference to some extent -- I for one sometimes find even Lord Sanderson's early books a bit too fond of simply slapping us with information (I know Elend isn't sure whether he's doing the right thing, now show him doing something genuinely awful so we question it too) -- but I think the general rule is to ensure the characters never convey directly to the audience or each-other anything they or the person to whom they're talking already know, and that the narrator never directly conveys anything the characters wouldn't care to convey themselves. Of course, it all depends on the type of narrator. First-person narrators will obviously tell a bit more if they're sufficiently chatty. Personally I'm fond of the old Dostoevsky trick -- the omniscient narrator whose personality influences the story but who may or may not be a character in it, only revealing himself with phrases like "I believe Mistress Vin was rather afraid at the moment," or "Our Heroes ..." -- which does let me cheat on some of these things. In any case, the more the reader has to figure out, and, by means of your expertly (or in my case, horribly inexpertly) placed breadcrumbs, is prodded to figure out, the more they'll pay attention, and the more certain aspects of the story, especially dialogue, will feel realistic. (2) Experiment! All the other posters have said some great things -- write a lot (I need to take this advice), and read things you find exceptionally well-written -- but I for one have found great value in simply trying out entirely new writing styles. What happens when I forbid myself to use the word 'was?' Interesting things, I tell you: horrible and clunky things, but interesting things I can use nonetheless. If you're of a lyrical bent, play with cadence. I couldn't stand Ernest Hemingway after I read Farewell to Arms -- I'm more a Mervyn Peake sort of fellow -- but I found a good rhythm for battle scenes when I modified his own Artisanal Incoherence and added a dash of Jeff Shaara: it annoys the hell out of me if I use it for more than a few pages, but those pages hit like a ton of bricks. Even if you're not into strange and distinctive character voices or complicated wordplay, try to shake things up a little. It doesn't have to be prose; if you find your protagonists are all sniveling young urchins with a heart of gold, write a nobleman looking to cap off a long battlefield career by slaughtering those peasants over the next ridge while he recites Boccaccio. Anyway, hope this helps, and Happy Writing!
  8. > Killing Shallan I am fire. You are stick. Now burn, you filthy murderer. No seriously, though, if one of them has to die, it's Adolin.
  9. Hello Hello Hello, I Hail from Reddit, and I like this site a great deal more. I've read all the Stormlight books excluding Edgedancer -- I really do need to get that Arcanum Unbounded thing -- and I'm halfway through Hero of Ages. Having expanded beyond Roshar's shattered plains, I may now call myself a proper Cosmere Fan. I will spend my time here asking about worldbuilding, forgetting random characters -- when I first started Words of Radiance I'd forgotten who Moash was! -- and producing wild speculation about a Mistborn movie. I'm also the self-appointed official ambassador from Gene Wolfe Land. Make Severian of Nessus your Autarch, and he'll get you a New Sun so you'll never have to deal with Mist again!
  10. Obviously Moash, but in a particularly painful way for Kal: I'd like him to be redeemed, until Kal realizes the corrupted Spren can meat-puppet him along anytime they like, and his mercy has let a spy into our camp, or some such thing. Kal, after several hundred pages culminating in a sincere reunion in which many hurts may at last be healed, will be forced to kill his old friend. The deed should be done at a moment when Moash is fully lucid, so Moash will see it as the penultimate betrayal he always feared, and let Kal know. Anyway, we all know Moash is either going to die or set himself on one hell of a redemption arc, and I'd at least like it to be interesting. Adolin should also die. Unlike, I've found, a great many people here, I'm not at all annoyed by Shallan's developing MPS; it positively fascinates me, and I hope we delve deeper into what's rapidly becoming my favorite character. In any case, that will have to resolve itself eventually, and I suspect it could well start when the poor young lady's madness prevents her from saving her beloved. Perhaps we might postpone that to book five, or perhaps it could occur at the end of the fourth, allowing the usual period of despondency and then renewed strength at the beginning of the fifth. I'd also like Lift gone. I confess I haven't read Edgedancer, but thus far she's a dreadfully annoying character, and between volumes I've honestly forgotten a great deal about her storyline. We're supposed to get her flashbacks this time along, so I pray to the Forgotten Gods that Brandon will find some way to make her less grating before he -- hopefully -- impales her. Don't get me wrong, it's not a badly-constructed character or anything, but I tend to sigh when I come upon one of her chapters. I think she'd be a perfect candidate for shock factor; have her suddenly run out of stormlight in the middle of a battle and let a random peasant get a good swipe.