cjhuitt

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cjhuitt last won the day on August 5 2013

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70 Idrian Monk

About cjhuitt

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  1. Ah, but is the story written yet?
  2. I plan on doing this again, which will be my 6th (I think). Having a plan for how you will write helps, I think. As does knowing your own tendencies. If, for example, you know you tend to edit, try setting up your reader to only show you a paragraph or less of already written work. (Scrivener, for instance, has an option in full-screen to keep the cursor centered on the page. With appropriate zooms, this means about a paragraph showing for me.) If you then make a deal not to scroll back, that might help. Other strategies that have helped me in the past are going to write-ins, where a bunch of people are spending time doing the same thing. The peer pressure to add words (and not to edit) can be really helpful to me, especially when I need to do the classic BiC,HoK (Butt in Chair, Hands on Keyboard) to get going. Last year, I alternated between high-level overviews of a few scenes ahead, and more detailed writing of specific scenes as I went through the month. That worked well for me, but I also hadn't planned it out as well as past years. Then again, look where I am at this year (hint: not a lot of planning). As for forums, I actually try to avoid most of them during the month, or at least delay reading as much as I can. They can end up eating a lot of my time. It may not be as obvious around here, but I'll go dormant for the month or so here as well.
  3. It was a very interesting piece, not what I would normally seek out, but then again, it was only a bit over 500 words... I personally thought the first paragraph was a little hard to get past. I think this is mostly due to the way it was presented, especially with having "they said" without any quote marks or anything to break out the quotations from the text. Mind you, I think it may be done this way on purpose, and it stays consistent, so I'm not saying it needs to be changed. I guess what I am saying is to be aware that an opening like this may prove to be too odd for some readers. On the other hand, maybe not, because I was expecting an unpolished piece that needed critique, and other readers may be expecting a polished story, and expectations can play a large part in the view of the story. Especially one so short. The third through fifth paragraphs I liked, with the ongoing confusion but reduced each time. I thought it was presented well and worked to raise a lot of questions, and kept me interested. However, the sixth paragraph is where I started to be confused, because it seems like there was a transition there -- the lizardmen now run the hotel -- without anything in text indicating this, and thus far we had a hotel proprietor (or greeter, or worker, or something) slowly losing his ability to know that lizard men had been there before; but no indication that he is a lizardman. Really, this wasn't my first thought, but by the time I was done with this paragraph it seemed like a possible choice, and it was just overlooked earlier. Then the further into that paragraph I read, the more confused I got. I think this confusion is likely unintentional; the piece reads as though there were more behind it than just inducing confusion in the readers. Thus, this is the part that I'd recommend taking a close look at, and maybe running through a few trial readers to see if they pick up on... whatever it is you are trying to get across in the last two paragraphs. So far as the length goes, if you want to get it down to 500 words for the challenge feel free, but I don't think it necessarily needs to be any more sparse than it is today. I would even welcome a few new words if it helps resolve some of the issues I cam across.
  4. That does remind me that I meant to comment on the confrontation. I didn't catch the significance of the spirit beast specifically, but the confrontation I did catch that urVa was willing to sacrifice himself, and wondered at that. I had a vague recollection from the movie that the dying was in pairs, but I didn't make the connection to the spirit beast at all.
  5. My reply will encompass both parts, as I read them one after the other. My first thought was that this wasn't a complete story, but apparently the setup to one. I realize you probably know this, and I just scanned the quest pages and they say opening chapters are fine, but it was slightly disappointing to realize after the fact. That said, if this is what you are considering submitting, my main critique would be in the area of hooking the reader. I thought it started out well, and there were some open questions introduced in these chapters, but not a whole lot... and I am speculating that a couple of what I consider open questions are actually answered by the other existent material that I haven't read. The strongest hooks in my estimation are 1) what's the backstory with Rian and the others? 2) What's up with the urRa's culture and predictions? 3) will Selvi be caught by the groups hunting for her? 4) Will Lapp be caught by the spirit beast? 5) What will the relationship between Selvi and Lapp be like? 6) What will the characters do and encounter next? 7) What will happen to Gurjin to remove him (as the mentor figure)? (This question may betray too much meta-knowledge to be a true hook, but it made me wonder.) As you might have noticed with my list, what will the characters do next is kind of low, and the main characters in this story (so far) don't rank a mention until the 3rd one. I strongly suspect that at least one of the first two questions I listed are answered elsewhere, either in published works or on the dark crystal web site, and maybe both of them. In that case, for those who have consumed the other material, that may make the hooks I listed above slide up into the proper positions, but I don't think you want to rely on it, and I'm pretty sure the editors won't want to be relying on that also. That said, the work is supposed to be a calling card for the author, and not specifically a piece of the final, published item, so perhaps it's okay to assume that the editors have this familiarity and thus the hooks will work better on them than they did on me. I did think that the depiction of the urRa was a strong point, although I thought they could use a bit more description. Especially with the movies to help, a solid visualization ought to be possible. The Skelsis weren't on stage that I recall, so I won't comment on them. One note about the urRa; you mention this is set when they (both races) were young and strong, but that's not the impression I get from the text. The impression I get is that the urRa, while still strong enough to "live independently", are nonetheless in their sunset years. I thought the feel of the piece was right-on for the movie (the only part of the source material I've consumed, and not particularly recently at that). I thought the main races acted appropriately in as much as I saw them act. I agree that the Dreamfast might use a bit of polish or balance to the revelations shown. I had some slight concerns about how quickly the two did this as well, though that could also be set up by a small change previous to it to emphasize how common and unconcerning the Dreamfasting is... if that's the way you want it to read. I did personally think that the Dreamfast, even with narration, might better be primarily concerned with the experiences, and that the decision to tell Gurjin should perhaps have been made in discussion outside the link. The triangle motif and the repeating threes were well done. However, you might do it more so, especially with the Mystics. I'm thinking in particular at the end of the piece, where urSen had help being supported by one other, while mentioning all the time that three was the proper number for things. Wouldn't he then have brought a third with their group, in order to better support each other? I'd encourage you to keep going with this. I'd read more.
  6. Are you regretting getting your internet connection back yet?
  7. It took me some time to get into the story. I think you could cut the whole first section and not lose much from the story; perhaps a bit would need to be added back where it needs to be known. The history hinted at with Bert confused me. I'd agree with Mandamon that the blocking could be improved for the flight through the archives. I also wonder what caused the librarian to become overwhelmed -- the hint of smells implies Eiji did something to her, but it wasn't clear what. The reveal of the existence of animal-sign pets wasn't timed well for a short story. To properly set up the reveal at the end, the fact that these exist should be established nearer the beginning of the story. Also, overall I found the ending anticlimactic. I think that is because Andrew wasn't the acting agent for resolution, though he had been set up as the focus of the story by the beginning. To fix this, either Andrew would have to become active in his own salvation at the end -- difficult but not impossible with the parameters you set up in the story -- or the focus of the story needs to shift to Eiji, kind of like Sherlock Holmes was the focus of stories that followed Watson's POV. For the latter, the story would have to start with Eiji being introduced into it, I think, and not with setting up Andrew's problems.
  8. Hear, Hear! (on both counts)
  9. As mentioned by the others, I didn't see a story here. Unlike the others, I don't even really see a scene... just a setting, and the precipitating event. There is a bit of action that might entail calling it a scene, but for that I'd like to see more of 1) what Hal's goal is, and 2) how it is twisted so that he fails at it. As it stands, it appears his goal is to drink himself to oblivion, but the failure is inviting someone in... which if his goals is to drink, there's no reason to pay attention to what's at the door anyway. The beginning of the story felt like it may have started in the wrong spot. I say this because after the first few paragraphs, it goes into a bunch of backstory to explain why Hal felt the way he did at the time. Ideally, we'd know the backstory already and thus feel things with Hal as he does, instead of needing to have it explained after. Of course, we don't always hit that ideal, but it's worst the effort. Third, while others appear to enjoy the writing (and I do too -- the writing itself is fine), I would call it too empty of details rather than sparse. I'd like to see more setting description worked in there somehow.
  10. I'm late, and as usual Asmodemon and Mandamon have very good points to make. My main concern in addition to their points has to do with confusion; there are too many places where I have questions about the story, and they aren't the sort of questions that lead to keeping someone reading. Instead, they're the sort that make me re-read a section, then try to puzzle something out. Examples could include things like "The young human officer held Diro's eyes who stared back blankly." Who stared back? It could be the human or Diro, but either way the phrasing is odd. Another was "it had really been more of a been a moment of frustration to the point of blind fury." What had been? We know others had said it was inspired, but we have no idea what happened at that point... and without knowing what had happened, knowing how people felt about it isn't really useful. At least not in this circumstance. An example of a good question is "who and what was that stranger on the mountain, and how could he zoom his sight in beyond normal abilities?" Other things to critique, although some have glanced at by the others: * A break-in-break-out operation... if only the enemy does exactly what you want them to. That's a real winner of a plan, and especially not one that you spend your most valuable ship on. The text even says Diro had known that it was too good to be true. In that case, is a back-up plan too much to ask? * Apparently it was the same ship that he had previously, only now it can fly? But when it was a sea ship, they had thruster controls? Even though the pirate was defeating everyone with a wooden galleon that disguised some sort of metal lining? * "Ramming speed" makes me want to throw a book. What, exactly, is "ramming speed"? Is it full speed? if not, why not? If so, why not just say "full speed"? It makes little to no sense to ram at less than full speed, because you won't do as much damage. It doesn't make sense to have a designated "more than full speed" in most cases, either, though you might be able to make a case for it. "Full throttle" works well. "Ramming procedure" is dry, but a better description of what to do. "Ram them" is straightforward and doesn't get into the who speed thing, either. * The next thing to make me throw a book is the son who died in the war his father didn't want to be part of, thus causing the father to join in the war after all. It can be done well; in the middle of a 4-page exposition in the first chapter isn't the way. Especially since at that point we don't really need to know why he joined; it seems irrelevant to his situation or the war situation in how it is presented.
  11. I agree with both the other responses, and will add that I didn't recall Bern at all when I read it... granted, a few months later. I would suggest that if he's going to be a recurring POV, he might need a more sympathetic reintroduction -- get the reader on his side at the beginning. As it is, it appears he's an object placed in line for people to talk at. As mentioned, the dialogue seems really odd, especially the blond boy's. Even the interaction with the farmer seemed off, though I couldn't find exactly what in the dialogue to point me that way. Also, Torax City seems odd for an older city; having the “City” part, at least. Thinking of capital cities off the top of my head: London, Paris, Rome, Washington D.C., Mexico City, Quito, Sidney, and a couple others that I couldn’t be sure of the capitals of (Canada, Japan, China) without looking them up (I know, shame on me). Of those, only Mexico had “City” as part of it’s capital’s name. The “city” part usually gets dropped as the city gets bigger and more famous, if it was ever there to begin with. Even New York is usually just that, not New York City. Why would the traffic propel Bern forward when it is creeping so slowly through the gate? The garden description was well done. The rest thickens the plot well enough, I suppose, though I’m not exactly sure of Bern’s motivations in coming here to warn the queen, nor am I convinced as to why he has to tell the queen only, and doesn't want to deal with the ministers or others of state who's job it is to look after these sorts of thing for the queen.
  12. Late on these also, but FWIW... Despite the supposed survey of the room, really all we get is details on the fireplace and mantel, and some info-dump (which I also thought slowed the pace too much here). Fen's tantrum doesn't really endear him to me any more than before (which, as I recall, still wasn't a lot since the first chapter). He seems too mercurial to be a good leader, but so far anyway I haven't seen much hints at a possible character arc that moves him beyond this. I'm pretty sure I've said it before, but a straightforward goal or step he's trying to achieve would probably help, along with reasonable obstacles in his way. It doesn't even have to be directly related to the conflict -- for example, perhaps as a kid he really loved eating some trashy meal, but none of the cooks would dare serve such a meal to the king, and the longer he goes without it, the more he craves it, but he can't get the cooks to budge on what sort of meal the king should eat, and he can't enter their domain to cook it himself, and.... I'm kind of assuming his tantrum and resolution will be important later. The backstory from Uriel is much better integrated, as others mentioned. Though this world has magic of a sort (for carving and using the crystal swords), this is the first I've recalled about prophecy. It seems like a different kind of magic than that seen so far -- that is, not just physical manipulation. The fact that the verse was so obscure (or at least, in an obscure language) makes me wonder how an thief of an outsider could have known about the verse in order to take advantage of it and become their lord of light.
  13. Also, a couple more specific responses. I nearly forgot about them. This makes sense when explained, but as it is in the text, it has a lot of connotation. Especially since the first couple of references to them seem to be from outsiders. Honestly, I didn't think much about him in those terms, especially in the beginning when Rilan was thinking about him. Mostly just curious as to if it was plausible or not that the Effature was the same person. This was right at the beginning of the chapter that you sent out. If it's not there, you've probably edited it indeed.
  14. I'd definitely consider an alpha read, though I can't make any promises. I went through those chapters a few a day when I was on vacation, but now that I'm not (and have the internet shinies to distract me), it's harder to put together time in the day to both do my writing and do the critiquing I'd like to. I do enjoy... well, that's not exactly the word, but get some satisfaction and benefit from doing the critiques also. My theory is that if I get good enough at seeing the weak spots in other people's work, and thinking about them critically, I might have a chance to see the weak spots in my own. Some of them, at least. Perhaps one or two? Yes, well, I do hope you are finished with it soon, and perhaps by then we (the Reading Excuses group) will have the alpha-reader folder thing figured out.
  15. The “another day later” transition reads oddly to me. I think it kind of implies to me that Origon was the POV character before, or that the POV character is continuing, but that’s not the case here. A good sign: I’ve recognized the Nether as a world building entity good enough to stand on its own, which means I’ve been speculating, and Rilan’s mindless walk through the streets of the Imperium got me thinking how the Nether’s abilities could be used. Could her attackers have been walking the Nether trying to find someone to attack? Would it have brought them to her? Or maybe detoured her to them as well? Could someone use it to find a house that could easily be robbed? How about one with an unlocked door? A cracked window? Could you use it to find the ingredients to make a poison, or an explosive, even if you didn’t immediately know what the ingredients were? What would happen if you were to embrace the Source — sorry, I meant to try and manipulate kelhiw for a specific result, but not know how to obtain that result, and leave your mind open for the Nether to guide you? Would it? Could that work for architecture or design also? What about figuring out what clothing and styles to stock in your shop? Dun dun dun! The council now believes in Aridori also.