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Aminar

Reading Excuses January 23rd 2012 Aminar - Aminar

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Well, here goes chapter 1. I hope it goes over well. I'll probably end up cutting the second part of it and working most of the information in elsewhere.

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I don't know if the file is coming through to anyone else with all the spacing messed up, but maybe you could resend it in .doc format?

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Okay. First and foremost, I just can’t get into the story at this point.

I really like the deep history of the thirteen families, faking their disappearance in order to establish a peacekeeping force. Very noble. Very cool. These are characters I want to know about.

I also like the mystery of the island…how no magic can affect movement in any part of it.

These are things that normally suck me in.

The problem for me is the mesh and flow of it.

Grumr calls the island a well known criminal safe haven. “Rotten to the core,” only idiots and thieves out at night…

Yet you have a university residing on the island, as well as Keth’s job being working somewhere checking in tourists. Very hard to imagine people vacationing somewhere they can’t go out at night, with smugglers and thieves running rampant throughout. It doesn’t fit together for me. Maybe if you give me examples of the necessity for people to still be going there it would work better.

I was really looking forward to being in Keth’s head after reading Grumr’s part. But Dex kind of seemed like a let down. It’s so hard to believe in Grumr’s mission, and the serious danger of summoners when the 7-foot tall, red soldier demon is actually sarcastic and friendly; and seems to be helpful to boot.

I’m not feeling the urgency and danger of hunting someone for 13 years when he seems to have suffered no penalties for facing off against a demon when he was merely a child. If he’s just that good, give me examples or straight up tell me he’s in the upper tier of power among summoners.

Very nitpicky…

But it’s hard to get past your prose. At one point you have a group of eleven sentences with the word ‘city’ in eight of them. As well as sentences like, "Everybody assumed the law was on the books from before The Thirteen Families, the mage clans of old, had gone extinct in the aftermath of the Witch Wars." It’s all definitely fixable, just stuff that was really pulling me out of the story.

After a revision or two, you have a pretty good start to an urban fantasy type setting.

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Is there a better way to show flawed and biggoted narrators then have them say things that are quite different? I haven't found a better way.

And honestly Aldriu is based on places like Jamaica and Haiti where everything not full of tourists is poverty stricken and unsafe. Your assuming the two polar opposites can't exist in the same place when most of the third world is exactly as I just described.

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I don't know if the file is coming through to anyone else with all the spacing messed up, but maybe you could resend it in .doc format?

Is it just that its super spaced out?

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Is it just that its super spaced out?

No, it's that about forty percent of the words don't have spaces between them.

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What are you using to read it? I'm not gettig that at all.

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I haven't made my introductory post yet, so before I comment I just want to say that I am not a writer (yet!) just an avid fantasy reader. Most of my comments are going to be from the point of view of someone who had picked this book up in the library/bookstore and flipped to the first few pages to decide if I want to finish it or not. I do see a lot of potential, and it looks as though you are already aware of several of the things that bothered me (too much information too fast, etc). The basic idea of someone hunting down a child necromancer/summoner is interesting enough, the world you have created feels "solid" (you portray it as possible enough that I am willing to believe it for the sake of the story, bearing in mind that there will be revisions of minor things), and someone summoning a soldier demon by mistake takes interest one step further; I am intrigued. Yet I do agree with a previous comment that I would expect more conflict in that situation than currently is apparent. Without it, I'm not sure I would remain intrigued.

Specific thoughts I had on a first read through:

It felt like it started just before the action instead of in the action. This is easy enough to fix, and I'm sure you will/would have gotten there in early revisions, but it's a killer for the girl in the bookstore. :)

"Why does this hunter need guns if he can sink an entire village?" -This question was answered when you portrayed loss of soul as a (quite serious) cost of magic, but was quickly replaced with, "If it costs him his soul, and he's a hundred and fifty some years old, how much soul does he have left? How many years has he been using magic? Why would he EVER use it unless it was absolutely and undeniably his only option? He used it just now, and I can't tell if it was his only option or not..." (Does this play into your master plan? I hope it does. I feel as if I have been given a promise here that, somehow, the fact that this hunter is both missing a portion of his soul and nonchalant about slicing off more pieces will become important later. If this wasn't your intent, you may quantify how the soul leeching works as the story progresses to put the reader's mind at ease...you may already have done so).

Many of my other questions I had as I was reading will probably be laid to rest with further fleshing out of details as you revise. Little things like, why has it taken the hunter so many years to find this guy, but pictures of him are easy to come by? You could let me ask the question and then give myself the probable answer, or you could flesh it out with a detail that it was from his government file/driver's license/surv. camera, etc.

Not sure if my POV is helpful or not, I am only a few episodes into Writing Excuses, but if nothing else I hope to encourage you; this idea is worth developing/finishing!

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Yeah. That said, If you just jopined the group I have a prologue that cuts down on the first few pages effect quite a bit. But yeah, I'm likely to cut some of this chapter if not all. I still needed to write it and submit it though.

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So I'll just add my responses to both your submissions here.

I liked the prologue. Probably because I'm a huge dinosaur nerd, but an enjoyable read nonetheless. The one thing that did jump out at me was your use of phrases like "faster than Iraisa would have thought possible." You use a similar phrase several times, and it stood out after only two. Otherwise, I'm intrigued by the weird magical dude trying to break into her mind, and also by the weird(er?) guy defending her. Oh and the bright light. I'm in for more.

Then we come to chapter 1. It feels completely disparate to me. I actually read chapter 1 first (I had missed the prologue in my inbox for whatever reason), and said to myself "cool, kind of a crime/thriller/drama thing with magic. Sounds nifty." I'm not sure how we got from dinosaurs in the jungle to a guy riding in a helicopter. I don't know, it just felt like too much of a leap, I guess?

Perhaps you could bridge that gap with something. Even having Iraisa see a helicopter cruising overhead or something to let me know we're not in the cretaceous, we're in modern times...but with dinosaurs =).

Oh, and you should have him think of himself as Heinrich. Reading The Grumr was rather odd.

Cheers!

Rick

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So I'll just add my responses to both your submissions here.

I liked the prologue. Probably because I'm a huge dinosaur nerd, but an enjoyable read nonetheless. The one thing that did jump out at me was your use of phrases like "faster than Iraisa would have thought possible." You use a similar phrase several times, and it stood out after only two. Otherwise, I'm intrigued by the weird magical dude trying to break into her mind, and also by the weird(er?) guy defending her. Oh and the bright light. I'm in for more.

Then we come to chapter 1. It feels completely disparate to me. I actually read chapter 1 first (I had missed the prologue in my inbox for whatever reason), and said to myself "cool, kind of a crime/thriller/drama thing with magic. Sounds nifty." I'm not sure how we got from dinosaurs in the jungle to a guy riding in a helicopter. I don't know, it just felt like too much of a leap, I guess?

Perhaps you could bridge that gap with something. Even having Iraisa see a helicopter cruising overhead or something to let me know we're not in the cretaceous, we're in modern times...but with dinosaurs =).

Oh, and you should have him think of himself as Heinrich. Reading The Grumr was rather odd.

Cheers!

Rick

I agree, it's jarring. That's why Iraisa's perspective is the prologue. If it still feels jarring after the very beginning of chapter 3/End of Chapter 2. I'll consider it a major problem. Until then I ask it be given time.

As far as prologues giving a sense of the book/ a promise. I'm trying to do that. There's an awful lot of dimensional movement throughout the book and the prologue is meant to set that up as a possibility early on so it is foreshadowed later. If it doesn't work like I want though, I'll have to change something.

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I agree, it's jarring. That's why Iraisa's perspective is the prologue. If it still feels jarring after the very beginning of chapter 3/End of Chapter 2. I'll consider it a major problem. Until then I ask it be given time.

As far as prologues giving a sense of the book/ a promise. I'm trying to do that. There's an awful lot of dimensional movement throughout the book and the prologue is meant to set that up as a possibility early on so it is foreshadowed later. If it doesn't work like I want though, I'll have to change something.

Absolutely. Prologues are often discombobulating at first glance. Eye of the World prologue comes to mind. I think it took, what, three books for me to understand what the hell that was? haha. If you're doing it on purpose, rock on. Just thought I'd throw it in.

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Absolutely. Prologues are often discombobulating at first glance. Eye of the World prologue comes to mind. I think it took, what, three books for me to understand what the hell that was? haha. If you're doing it on purpose, rock on. Just thought I'd throw it in.

Oddly enough I never had that problem with The Wheel of Time. I read books 2-10 before reading the first. I started the series just after 9 came out. In a way it makes me like the series more because book 1 doesn't flow woth the series as much...

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The biggest reaction I had to the first part of the story was that the narration was quite distant from Heinrich. Even in the first paragraph, I feel like you could focus in closer on him and his feelings on the mission. Part of this may go along with show, don't tell -- you tell us he wasn't happy. You tell us he doesn't like flying. You could show us these things instead. This goes through the rest of the first section; for example, you mention he doesn't like the city, which is good (and I did see your comment about unreliable POV/narrators, and that is working some), but I don't ever get a good feel for him not liking the city. Make him resent it. Show us why. The city guards its tunnels so well just to spite him and make him fly, right?

You had mentioned maybe cutting out the second part of the chapter and working the information in elsewhere, but you may also want to take a closer look at the rest of this chapter as well. The whole second paragraph seems like a big list of information, which I think could be spread and divvied out more. Getting in closer to Heinrich would also help with this, I think, making it easier to digest the nuggets of information by hiding them in opinions and actions.

There are also some places I think you could make the text more effective by doing a bit of wordsmithing. For example, in the first paragraph, instead of "He wasn't very happy to be on this mission; it was his hundred and fortieth birthday," you could instead say something like "He wasn't happy to be on this mission; it was his birthday. One hundred and forty may not be cause for large celebration, but no man should have to toil on his birthday, let alone fly." Other places I noticed an opportunity for improvement through rephrasing are when he starts reading the dossier, when thinking about summoners going mad after talking to demons, thinking about sinking the village, thinking about how he does things that need doing despite what the heads of MIA want, etc.

On the action, I think you might want to try and start a little closer to when (interesting) things happen. The chapter starts with him flying in a helicopter. Sure, he's a covert operative, but what if you started a little closer to when he left the helicopter? Besides compressing being a neat visual, it's also a strong image, and can be used to establish how much he hates flying (although is under his own magic better than the helicopter, or worse?). Heinrich's part of the chapter ends strongly, however.

Others have mentioned how referring to him as "The Grumr" was odd; I would agree with them.

I was curious why Heinrich didn't want to bend any of the pages of the dossier. Also, in the next paragraph, I got confused as to exactly what was happening with the magic. The most confusing part for me was a reference to a chunk of the ocean's crust, which is not something I generally associate with an ocean.

I thought Keth's section started nicely, with the alarm problem. I also thought it was a nice contrast to the previous section with Dex and Keth seeming to get on well.

I bought that Keth might need to know about the magic happenings (or that Dex might interpret his instructions that way, depending on how reliable Dex turns out to be in the end), but I'm a little confused, however, as to why Keth is investigating the magical happenings. What does he hope to get out of it? Is it a superhero, save-the-world sort of thing? Somehow, it doesn't seem like Keth's character to do that. Also, I notice that despite the alarm and desire to check out a suspicious energy surge, Keth takes the time to make a cup of coffee and gather things around. If this is something he does often (as implied), I would expect him to have things around already. I also thought the lack of urgency implied by the cup of coffee was odd.

I was confused about the Verdrie, but I think some of that is how you constructed the sentence. At first, I thought Verdrie was a singular, and something that could be partially summoned. If you take out the "of", however, the sentence makes a lot more sense to me.

Why wouldn't Dex have stood a chance in a mental confrontation? So far he seems reasonably intelligent, and most stories I've read with demons in them have them intelligent and mentally strong.

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I think you've got an interesting story here, but right now you're focusing on waaay to much backstory. There are three solid infodumps for both Heinrich and Keth; hearing the exposition almost entirely through their thoughts makes it even clunkier. They both have interesting backstories, and the conflict between their motivations and world-views has a lot of potential.

But I think if you want to explain who they are, what lies in their past, you need to do it either more slowly, or with the help of another character. Getting all the facts right from your two POV's really slows down the flow.

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