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andyk last won the day on June 2 2013

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73 Idrian Monk

About andyk

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    Stockport, UK
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    Reading, writing, gaming, and trying to stop the slugs eating my garden.
  1. I generally got on with the writing style, and like jParker I liked the mythic element that's in there from the start. I did wonder why you didn't use the word minotaur sooner in the prologue - it would have made it much easier to work out what the creatures looked like and so visualise what was going on. But I liked the use of minotaurs, and that they were made to be sympathetic. The bit from the point of view of the lad who gets killed by the imp didn't really work for me. I was fine with becoming emotionally engaged with a character in the prologue only for them to be written off after a couple of pages, but doing the same thing again a few pages later? As a reader I found that that meant I wasn't given the opportunity to start investing in the characters and their story. Or rather that I started getting invested only to have that investment ripped away, and doing that twice in a row it went from a source of drama to one of vexation. It's not clear to me why Aldo's going in for this Equos competition, what's at stake for him, what's driving him. Like jParker I had some trouble with Julia. I also got the impression that she was pushing for Aldo's attention, and that impression came from the way you had her behave. She pushes very hard to get in his face in the bar for no apparent reason. Without any other explanation it came across to me as some weirdly aggressive flirting, not because I assume that's how people behave but because I couldn't see another explanation. The extent to which you focussed on describing her appearance, more so than with any other character, also led me to the conclusion that Aldo was paying attention to her in that way, and so that she was being set up as a love interest. You've said above that that's not your intention, and that's great, but this is the impression I got from reading the story. There's never any tension in the fights because it's clear Aldo will win. He's confident in that and it's never undermined. He doesn't really seem to be challenged. And like jParker I found the magic rather deus ex machina because we'd had no previous indication that there was combat magic or that Aldo knew magic. I don't want vast swathes of description of how magic systems work - that's some people's bag, it's almost never mine - but without any foreshadowing that this is a possibility this seems to come out of nowhere. I also wasn't convinced by how easily he riled Julia in the fight. She's sold as this extremely competent fighter, and then lets herself get thrown emotionally the moment he says anything. That didn't add up. You've hinted in this first chapter at a wider world of monsters and monster hunters. I'm interested to see more of things like why a monster hunting order is needed, why it's run the way it is, why Aldo wants in, and all sorts of stuff. For me, that's a good sign in a story.
  2. I didn't feel like much was happening here. There were a lot of characters, quite a few of them being introduced at the same time, but they're not doing anything of interest, which makes it harder to get interested in them. Do you really need this bit, or could you introduce the character to the readers once they're in Rome and doing something? Vinya seems the most interesting of these characters to me, at least based on what little we've seen of most of them so far. She shows most sign of a distinctive personality. The writing flows fairly well, but I feel like we still haven't got to the meat of the story.
  3. When I'm not failing to keep on top of Reading Excuses submissions, I also have a writing and sf+f blog. I've recently started interviewing indie writers and people who work with books, and as Jagabond had mentioned on this group some of the interesting stuff he's done proofreading and studying the short story market he seemed like prime interview material. So today I have an interview with him, which I certainly think is interesting, and which you can read here if you're interested. Thanks Jagabond for taking the time to be interviewed!
  4. Coming into this having missed a couple of chapters (will go back to them if I have time later), it seems like the pace has picked up. There are clear conflicts in the offing, and the gradual revelation of the politics and schemes behind them. I'm intrigued by what's going on. It feels like you've got a better handle on how to pace the writing in action scenes, and that clips along fairly well. I liked Dyllis's smart use of a fire to get them out of the situation, using her powers but also some situational smarts so that the magic didn't become an easy copout (writing-wise rather than for the character) to resolve the situation. I wasn't clear on why the long hair comment was a step too far. There were places where this seemed rushed, sentences running into each other that should have been separate, occasional grammatical messes. I have faith in your ability to catch all of that when you edit, but it was a real hindrance to getting a feel for how well the story flows. Hope that helps.
  5. Like Mandamon, I didn't get a clear idea of what was going on, beyond an assumption that the snippets were in chronological order. You're playing with an interesting idea, but each section is currently too short to give much idea of what's happening or how it connects together. There are some interesting fragments of ideas, but rushed.
  6. I like this. It's well written, the setting's interesting (I didn't have time to read last week's submissions so it was all new to me) and I thought you got the ideas across well. I don't think the footnotes are necessary - there's enough context around the words for readers to just go with them. Like Jagabond said, there's probably too many voices in the chatroom and they aren't terribly distinct from each other, but other than that it's all solidly done. I was just wondering what the plot was going to be and then it reared its head in the new girl and the weirdness around her, so that was moving things along at a decent speed. Curious to see where this goes.
  7. In the first two paragraphs you've got a 'probably', a 'most of' and a 'mostly', all weakening the sentences they're in. Those kind of words that mitigate the strength of what you're saying usually feel unnecessary to me. I think there's mostly a good balance of event, dialogue and description, though you do sometimes go overboard on reinforcing the date and future setting - some of the references to years felt glaring to me. Explaining Misha and the type of car it is is a good touch and helps remind us of the future setting, but it's definitely the point at which this is most overdone - you could make the paragraph a third of the length and still show the main messages - that Nina has a characterful car, and that the world has moved on. Davis's re-introduction is good. There are enough signs that she's not all nice without overdoing it. But as Mandamon said, these first few chapters seem to be a lot of moving towards somewhere rather than getting to the events. I suspect that when you've written further into the story you may find that you can lose a lot of what's in these first few chapters and so get into the story quicker.
  8. Haha! Might have to use that one. And who was it took the argument to extreme and suggested that all fiction is in some sense fantasy, because you're always changing something, so it's never the real world.
  9. First off I'm going to disagree with Robinski on fused words, maybe even disagree alot ('fused words' is not a phrase I've heard before to describe them, but I like it) - not that we should go spouting them everywhere, but I quiet like the potential they hold as occasional tools to make a voice distinctive. Getting to the point... The tenses seem quite muddled between past and present, which I found off-putting. I thought that the first conversation, with the uniformed strangers, had potential to be an entertaining bit of dialogue. It seems like you've got an interesting couple in that bit, and I'd have liked to see how they talk over each other as well as seeing more about their characters. Overall, this felt to me like a story in which not much happened, or possibly the start of something longer. This may reflect more about my taste in reading than about the story, as I'm not a big fan of the literary fiction genre and this felt like that sort of thing. It's stronger on theme than on event or emotion, and I like my themes carried along by those two.
  10. I really like both the writing style and the story. For me at least this is an engaging and interesting piece. I had a bit of a problem with the second paragraph of 1976. Because the nature of the story and narrator weren't yet totally clear the long second sentence got confusing. Lots of great imagery, but together hard to follow. Like the others I was left confused by the ending. It feels right thematically, but I wasn't sure what she was trying to achieve or why this was different for the device than the previous flights. I'm not going to suggest an alternative title because I like the one you've got - I find it intriguing and I think it speaks to the theme of the story.
  11. And now it's in other e-reader formats via Smashwords: Smashwords also lets you download to the first 20% of the collection to read for free, so even if you're not buying you can go and have a bit of a read. Sorry Silk, still no print book - maybe once I've got a bit more used to this whole self-publishing lark.
  12. I hadn't considered doing it as audiobook, partly because I don't have the equipment to make a decent job of it myself and partly because I don't have any budget for it. If you're happy to do it just for the practice then I'd be more than happy for you to have a go at recording one or more of the stories. If I can work out a way to make them pay then we can share the profits, and if not then they could be a useful tool in publicising my book and your voice talent.
  13. While this didn't have a lot of action as such it felt like it was moving the story along far more than some of the previous bits. We learn quite a lot about both characters and about the setting, and see their relationship starting to take shape. So I don't think you need to worry about the lack of action here. I think there's space to use more showing or implying in a few places. That way when the characters provide necessary exposition through their dialogue it won't feel like too much. For example, there's a point when Covelle notices Dyllis's enthusiasm, but if you could show that enthusiasm through her words and actions or refer to it less directly then it would be less like exposition and so save some of your exposition-room for later. Covelle seems to rush through the thought process of considering whether he can use her, then deciding that her faith will get in the way, then deciding she might use the magic for defence, all in two sentences. I'm not suggesting that you spend more words on this, but maybe spread it through the chapter so that his evaluation of her usefulness is a background part of the whole scene. I really like the business with the toe. Having a bodily cost and limitation for the magic, then showing what happens when that escalates, adds depth to it and hints at darker possibilities to come.
  14. My two pence worth. 1. If you can make the family relevant to how the central character of the scene is feeling and what she's thinking then that might work better. Maybe thread them through the background of the scene and use them to help her reflect on what she's thinking and feeling. 2. If you're not spending much time in Appleton then does it matter how accurately you depict it? That aside, I wouldn't spend long on it - if not much is happening here then don't draw it out. 3. I had no problem with Nina's promotion. As it happens just as we're first introduced to her it's one of the basic facts about her life and a trigger for plot, so I didn't have any reason to question or disbelieve it. If you want to show more about her journalistic background and the reasons for her hiring it can come up later, but you don't need to dwell on it here. Extra point: I thought it was clear enough that time had passed.
  15. Like jParker I didn't feel that much happened here. Covelle and the girl got away, but they already did that last chapter. Even the stuff with the guards offered no conflict or challenge - couldn't they have given Benam a harder time? I'm still not clear why Covelle feels motivated to look after this girl. If it's because of the potential of her magic, what makes that of use and interest to him specifically, especially given the risks? On the plus side your prose is flowing nicely, and it's all very readable. There's a good balance of description, dialogue and action.