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Skyhunter Commander

2/20/12 SkyhunterCommander - Untitled Sci-Fi Epic Chapter 12

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We're back to Darkclaw and Nayasar this time (though it's all from Darkclaw's POV) as Darkclaw decides to be proactive about dealing with his emotion flashes.

Brief Summary: Darkclaw rendezvous with the Felinaris after both of their victories. Darkclaw decides to exchange full reports with Nayasar in person, in addition to spending time with her and Felivas, in the hope that in learning more about the Felinaris he will be able to at least deal with the emotion flashes until a more permanent solution can be found.

As I mentioned in the email, this chapter is among the most important in the entire story, so any comments and questions are more important here than usual. So far I'm pleased with the chapter, and my alpha readers both liked it (according to one it was the his favorite chapter thus far) but I really want to be sure that everything that need to happen and get across in the chapter is working.

I forgot to mention this in the email, but I apologize that it's a bit long. My chapters seem to be growing as I move further along in the narrative. And the next chapter is shaping up to be even longer...

(And again, if anyone who joined recently wishes for me to send them the previous chapters I would be more than happy to do so.)

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A lot of this chapter felt like it was positioning things for the coming chapters, although there was at least a little bit of intrigue also happening in Darkclaw's attempts to understand his emotions.

In keeping with my feeling that this was positioning, I wondered how much could be trimmed from the chapter and still keep the important parts of the chapter intact. I also noticed some repetition. The repetition is the easiest to point out; besides the emotional flashes, which are expected to repeat, at least three different times in just this chapter you have Darkclaw consider the effect his actions at previous battles may have on the other species. That seems like two too many to me.

Other repetition includes getting a summary of the results of the battle from Nayasar at the beginning of the chapter, then getting the summary again in the middle. Also, the battle that we witnessed one or two chapters ago is recapped in the middle of the chapter, just for Darkclaw to see. There were a couple of potentially interesting comments about what happened in the battle, but overall it wasn't something I thought I needed to read again.

Things I wondered if they could be cut include the first few paragraphs, preparing to go on board the Felinar. The chapter could probably have started with him about to dock on the Felinar, lamenting the circumstances that had made the face-to-face meeting necessary, or something along those lines. Any necessary bridging information from the last known positioning for these characters could be handled with a few summary sentences following the start of the chapter.

Some of the discussion about timing until the next attack might be able to go. Nayasar doesn't add any extra to the timeline Darkclaw had already decided, so I would recommend skipping that part of the conversation with her. Some of the surrounding conversation as well might be able to go, although I would keep the small conflict that comes from Darkclaw's insistence of the knowledge he gained from the High Lord that the alliance wouldn't strike back so soon.

I thought the bantering between Nayasar and Felivas had the possibility of being interesting, but the actuality fell a little flat for me. I wonder if it was a little too much all at once. You might try spreading it out throughout the chapter(s) a little more, or you might try compressing it some, making that encounter shorter but more emblematic of the whole relationship.

When Nayasar asks Darkclaw if she could test him for not having emotions, I was expecting a test then, or for her to arrange one at some point. However, nothing really happens except that she goes back to bantering with Felivas. In the end, he doesn't get tested in this chapter at all.

I thought the prayer service scene could be compressed as well, or deepened somehow. Made richer.

Near the end, Darkclaw thinks he has many questions regarding emotions, but I only read two questions, and he doesn't seem the type to just leave without asking questions once the topic is broached. That seemed odd to me also, in that I was expecting a longer interrogation phase. It was probably about the right length for story structure, though, which makes me wonder if you could give (or emphasize a bit more) the reason for Darkclaw leaving it at just those two questions.

Why were the two guards not reprimanded for not sticking with Darkclaw when he left the prayer room? Or at least, why didn't Darkclaw note that he needed to have them reprimanded?

Finally, the last portion of the chapter, with Darkclaw working at clearing his mind: is this part necessary? I wonder if it may be better to have happen off-stage, since the build up recently has been his emotional flashes and how they impair his functioning, and this small section releases a lot of that tension (by allowing him to clear his mind) when I don't think you probably want to release much of it.

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Thanks for the comments. The story arc of Darkclaw and his struggle with the unwanted emotions is probably going to be coming to a head in a few chapters, so I need to make sure that things are escalating enough so that the payoff is good when we get there. That's why in my opinion this chapter and the next several are among the most important as far as Darkclaw's development goes.

I see what you meant about the repetition. Some of that I think is coming from the fact that I'm writing chapters in smaller chunks lately, so I probably lost track of when I inserted certain details and just wrote it again. Though in my experience thus far, it's easier to edit by cutting extraneous bits than being too sparse and having to add things/rework the whole thing.

On to a couple of the more specific things you mentioned. The mentioning of a test and then no test--That's a case of me writing the segment and then forgetting about it for the rest of the chapter. Looking back, however, I don't think it would work to have some sort of test take place in this chapter, though I would have Nayasar say that she'll do one at some point.

Would you be able to pinpoint where the Nayasar/Felivas banter got to be too much? I am open to lessening it a bit (though it is how they'll interact when together), though I don't plan on cutting too much of it since it serves to do more than just show their relationship-it also has impact on Darkclaw, who by just listening is forced to try and comprehend the conversation, which has effects on his own issues at this point.

I agree with what you said about Darkclaw only asking two questions. I think I stopped where I did because it felt right, forgetting that Darkclaw might have more questions. I'll add in a reason why he only ended up asking the two.

I like your idea about having the mind-clearing be off-screen. While I need it to be clear that it's still very much a battle for him, and that having emotion flashes =/= him now being an emotional being, I see your point about the tension, and that having him appear at the start of the next chapter, mind clear, would accomplish the same thing but without the more blatant easing of tension by showing it. I probably will show him consciously clearing his mind at some point, but I can probably find a better moment for it.

Oh, about your question about the guards at the end--that was just bad pronoun use on my part. I meant for Darkclaw to be referring to Nayasar and Felivas, but upon rereading it I can see why you thought he was referring to the guards.

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I see what you meant about the repetition. Some of that I think is coming from the fact that I'm writing chapters in smaller chunks lately, so I probably lost track of when I inserted certain details and just wrote it again. Though in my experience thus far, it's easier to edit by cutting extraneous bits than being too sparse and having to add things/rework the whole thing.

No problems. That is part of what you submit (and why I should get some stuff whipped up to submit as well), so that people can view it from a different angle and find those spots. I quite agree that it can be easier to cut sometimes than to leave it in. Just be careful to not cut too much, of course, and leave something important out.

Would you be able to pinpoint where the Nayasar/Felivas banter got to be too much? I am open to lessening it a bit (though it is how they'll interact when together), though I don't plan on cutting too much of it since it serves to do more than just show their relationship-it also has impact on Darkclaw, who by just listening is forced to try and comprehend the conversation, which has effects on his own issues at this point.

I can't pinpoint it any more precisely than sometime around the elevator. I can hopefully give you some other information, however.

  • I think part of it could be improved just by working a bit on the flow of the dialog, and the surrounding blocking.
  • Part of it might be helped by clarifying the blocking -- I recall being slightly confused a couple of times over exactly what was being said about the movements outside of the dialog, many of which could potentially be taken out. (For instance, they could just step off the lift without a reference to getting on it, if actually being in the lift was of no particular importance.)
  • Another part might be helped by working harder to relate it to Darkclaw's viewpoint, but this also goes back to the flow -- you will want to be sure his viewpoint sections are only jarring to the flow of the banter if you want to use that jarring aspect to further Darkclaw's character. Otherwise, I'd try to make his observations fit in as smoothly as they could.
  • You may also want to imply the continued banter at some point as Darkclaw considers one aspect or another of it. This can be effective with characters who, shall we say, aren't the smartest on the block, by having them realize a few beats later what was implied in the other's banter. You might be able to adapt this to Darkclaw needing to think through the emotions behind the banter, and thus feeling constantly behind in his understanding of the situation.

As they say in Reading Excuses, take what helps you and leave the rest. These are just some ideas off the top of my head, to get you thinking about the possibilities.

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