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Robinski

Robinski - Waifs and Strays - Submission 4 (L) 2060 words

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No overlaps with previous material this week, I promise.

 

Previously on ‘Waifs and Strays’: In a chance encounter at another tavern, Benam aroused Covelle’s suspicions. Covelle followed Benam to the Crowded Inn, gripped by a need to learn if Benam was onto him. Before Covelle had a chance to discover what’s what, a group of menacing riders pursuing a young woman, who turned out to be a caster, invaded the inn. Reasoning failed and the riders attacked. Covelle, who has long been fascinated by tales and rumours of casters, attempted to escape with Dyllis in tow, but was turned back.

As always, your comments will be greatly appreciated.

Cheers, Robinski

 

 

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I'm not sure what substantively took place in this chapter. We see the duke's men briefly, but it feels mostly like an attempt at Covelle's clemency by Benam and the duo escaping to some hideout. The big question looming overhead is why Covelle is having to lead Dyllis so closely--I get that probably doesn't know their destination, but at points it feels like undoing the lock somehow blinded her, in addition to the effect on Covelle's mind. 

 

Smaller questions include the politics between dukes and the king, specifically jurisdictional disputes; where exactly is this story heading; whether Ahma-Benam are going to be a will-they-won't-they. Things that don't matter outside the scope of crafting.

 

I feel slightly guilty that I can't give better feedback, but this chapter just felt very bland. I'd love for something to happen, even if it's just people sitting and talking about what the hell just happened.

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Thank you, JP, I hear you on the guiding thing - I will look at softening that - I didn't intend for Dyllis's sight to be impaired, and I guess her night vision should not be so much worse than Covelle's. Is unfamiliarity with the streets and his urgency to escape enough to justify it? Possibly not.

 

In these moments of little happening I'm always trying to build character and towards the plot, but I accept that it's often not obvious how, and that perhaps some more overt signs are needed. I like to reveal slowly, try to build a sense that there are undercurrents, but if that doesn't work for the reader and the hints are too vague then I need to fix it.

 

On the plus side, I hope, the next submission (which is the rest of this chapter), involves people talking about what happened  : o)

 

Thanks again for reading.

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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.

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Is unfamiliarity with the streets and his urgency to escape enough to justify it? Possibly not.

 

I think it could be, but you'd have to change the tone of the passage. As it stands, it reads more like shepherding. If he's urgent and kind of fed up with her unfamiliarity, he'd be dragging her. It'd be a lot less tolerant. Actually, that would probably work and afford some conflict between the two.

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I’ve got to echo what the others have already said, this chapter felt mostly superfluous. The only thing this chapter shows, by having Covelle and Dyllis go back, is that Benam killed the attackers and that the guard is arresting him. That seemed the likely outcome last chapter, so actually seeing it through Covelle’s perspective is unnecessary.  

 

The reason Covelle and Dyllis came back inside the tavern at the end of the last chapter was because there were men in the alley (two by my recollection). These men are conspicuously absent in this chapter – they don’t appear when Covelle and Dyllis get back into the tavern through the kitchen and they don’t appear when Covelle and Dyllis leave through that kitchen for the second time a few moments later.

 

I’m also not quite sold on Covelle’s interest in Dyllis. So far she seems more trouble than she’s worth. She also seems more passive than she ought to be. Consider that she has some proficiency with her craft, that means she’s done this for a while in a place where casting is, apparently, a bad thing.

I’d like to know why this is bad thing soon too.

Being this passive it seems she either wouldn’t have practised casting due to the stigma(and thus wouldn’t be in this predicament) or she’d be dead/captured already. I’m not impressed by the kingsmen either – trained soldiers failing to capture such a passive girl and getting killed by one former kingsman. 

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Robinski, 

 

Still enjoying the basic premise and like Covelle and Dyllis' characters and storyline - also liked the look at Benam I got this week. 

 

You have a taste for detailed descriptive language, which works both for and against you. I'm staring at the copy I printed, and I have a bunch of word choices circled and marked "NICE!", but also a bunch of word-choices that I marked as suspect. Specifically I thought the first paragraph on the first page felt like a clinical description of the scene that might be a little too much detail.

 

I also occasionally questioned word choices like "highly effective violence" and "as if the wrongness needed emphasis" - both for being somewhat vague, but also for being somewhat of a modern-sounding commentary on an otherwise anachronistic setting. So my biggest advice would be to double check your descriptions don't sound like clinical records of a crime scene, and that your choice of language in description fits the overall tone of the story. Your voice has to pervade the entire manuscript, not just the dialogue and the action - it's not a script, which means we don't need to see everything, and what we do see has to keep in tone. (Says the guy who just got busted for writing too much like a script himself) 

 

I really liked the interaction between Benam and the guards - especially when it's primarily heard by Covelle in the other room. 

 

I'm going to flag the unattributed dialogue issue again - especially when the guards come in. When there's a two way conversation, you need to at least identify who is talking the first time they speak - even if the speaker is unknown, we need to know that someone new has entered the room. Specifically, I had to stop and think about who said, "You're Benam" at the bottom of page four. And most importantly I still haven't figured out who said "Stay there, damnation you!"...which is extra important seeing as that quote is the title of the chapter. It's either Covelle or one of the guards - and I think it's Covelle - but that needs an in-text attribution. 

 

Also I'm still trying to figure out what Dyllis did to the doorknob - I think she heated it up the latch until it came loose - but don't know. 

 

I particularly liked how you describe Nertin's "searching grey-eyed gaze" and how he wrinkled his nose and such - you seem in touch with the guy. I'd lay off the descriptions of his clothing a little - but I'm only picking up on that because my submission got busted for the same thing this week. Although, I thought he left too easily without smelling a rat. 

 

Also - I don't know why but I love how you said that he heard the door "splinter" - loved the use of that word. 

 

On the whole, I'm getting more engaged - and I'm particularly curious about what Dyllis is going to be able to do going forward. 

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@Andy: Thank you, sir, very helpful comments. I see that you're right on the Nertin / Benam scene - there should be more conflict. I wanted Nertin to be reasonable, but there should be more conflict, because Benam has a temper, and should be feeling / showing more desperation/frustration at his situation.

 

The remainder of the chapter is between Covelle and Dyllis - it's written, but I will revise before Monday submission (slots permitting), since I can see that I have to nail that, and you have helpfully underlined that for me. Also, pleased that you find it readable, but obvs need to get the content right too. Many thanks.

 

@JP: I like your suggestion of Covelle being intollerant of Dyllis's unfamiliarity. I don't want to stir up a big conflict between them because of his motivation toward her, but I think I can flirt with it and add, something to that passage. Thank you.

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@Asmodemon: Thank you reading further, I know you've got issues with the story, so I appreciate you persevering.  I note what you say about the content. I'm trying to build character and show things in the world, but I accept I haven't necessarily nailed all of that yet.

 

The men in the alley (there were three, one downed by Covelle), came at the back door (barred by Covelle when he a Dyllis came back into the kitchen) tried to break it in, 'forcing' C&D back into the common room. I think the missing link is the reason for the kingsmen's leaving as the crowd then the Duke's Guard arrive. I'll look at that again. I will also look at Dyllis's passivity. I think there's a case to say that she's a bit overwhelmed by being caught, then escaping, unfamiliar town, etc. The scene between Covelle and Dyllis continues to the end of this chapter, and is my opportunity to address your points on her.

 

I had a scene that flagged the position of casting in society, but I cut it because it was another POV. I'll try and work that information back in somewhere, which should not be too difficult, I think.

 

I note what you say about the kingsmen, I've had various comments about skipping the scene where Benam fights them, so I'm pretty much certain I will put it in. Thank you again for reading.

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@CommandanteLemming: Welcome to Reading Excuses and thank you kindly for your comments.

 

I note what you say on style - it's something I would expect to pick up in the edit, but I will keep your observations in mind when that time comes, and going forward from here.

 

Regardless of the whys and wherefores, if there's any confusion on the dialogue, I need to address it. It's Benam who shouts "Stay there..." through the door, but I've tweaked it very slightly to make that clearer. I have also added an attribution to the soldiers who capture Benam in the lane, thank you.

 

My intention with the door latch/knob is that Dyllis melts it shut/locked. They are in the lane and can't bar the door into the building/kitchen, because the bar is on the inside, so she melts the outside latch so that Benam can't get out, or is at least delayed. He then breaks the door open, which Covelle and Dyllis from the roof opposite, above the lane. I agree it's not entirely clear, I'll fix this.

 

I'm pleased that you like a lot of the description. I think "splinter" is onomatopoeic - glad it worked for you.

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