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Robinski

20140908 - Robinski - Waifs and Strays - Submission 7 (LV) 2220 words

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Benam is residing in Lufmatho Jail with a bleak view of his future. Meanwhile, Covelle and Dyllis have had a heart-to-heart about various things. She has learned that he is the estranged third son of the Duke of Lufmatho, whereas he now knows that casters use parts of themselves as catalysts for releasing or focusing magical energy. They are now heading out into the town again.

 

A leading apology, I'm conscious of how few weeks remain for the Write About Dragons group, and I'm trying to maximise the length of submissions, so I wanted to push into Chapter 5 – I know means a cliffhanger for this submission, and I apologise for that.

 

Your comments are very valuable, and very much appreciated.

 

Thank you for reading if you have the time.

 

Kind regards, Robinski

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Writing as I read - I'm more interested in plot than line edits, so I'm going to keep those to a minimum to save space. You can fix your own sentence construction I'm sure...

 

In the last few paragraphs of the second page you say "harried" several times. I like that word too but you can only use it once ;-) 

 

On the third/fourth page - Dyllis' protestations still come across as child-like. Are you going for scared teenager or young woman coming of age? If you want scared teenager, you're okay although I would make her a little more pithy/eloquent (maybe "I'm not going up there" instead of "I don't think I can). If you're going for young woman, she just needs to be more confident than she is - maybe a little worried, but not timid...also this brings up the question of how good of a caster she is. Are we talking about a rookie or a seasoned veteran - I'm assuming rookie based on her reluctance.

 

On the magic itself, I feel like the fingernails alone shouldn't be enough to prevent Dyllis from suffering any ill effect from her casting. Maybe they can dull it, but I feel like she would still burn her hand on the doorknob or something. We can talk about Sanderson's law's of magic - but I like Rumplestiltskin's law: all magic comes with a price.  The cool thing about your entire magic system is that the price is physical and can cause literal, immediate pain. The more we see of that, the better - and the more reason for Dyllis to be reluctant about actually using her powers ("I don't know if I can do it" is a weak fear..."I don't know if I can do it without burning myself" is stronger - the question isn't the ability, it's the control to be able to do it without paying for it).

 

Speaking of which - if you haven't watched the TV show "Once Upon a Time" - you should. Your magic system and theirs bear some similarities in terms of magic having a degrading effect on those who use it. 

 

On page six, I feel like Covelle inventorying the stuff he finds slows down the pace - especially since Dyllis is by far the more interesting character in this sequence.

 

I feel like you have a lot of long sentences - so I would go though this and figure out where you can replace commas with periods. 

 

Page seven - like the twist! 

 

Page eight - Now Dyllis loses her pouch and still doesn't burn herself, gets away with just hair?

 

Page nine - Good action sequence, not clunky, and I usually think action is clunky. Although I could probably deal without the description of the corridor - also don't like the phrase 'sense of layout'...too technical. Love the quip about flying - feel her response should be stronger and more sarcastic, ("Sorry to disapoint you!"..."Not on the first date!"..."I'm a caster not a bloody fairy!")

 

"pushed in and let out a yelp" - yelp is the wrong word. If she smacks into the door she expects the pain, and I associate yelp with unexpected pain..but that's a minor point. 

 

...oh there are men already in the room upstairs? Might want to make that clear earlier - or say, "The room was anything but empty"...something...let me know they are there before they attack. 

 

LOVE the end - even if you're planning more chapter after this. If you want, you can make this into a very good cliffhanger. I think I know what's going on (Dyllis is having a Jack Jack moment), but just having Covelle conk out in the middle of it would be pretty awesome.

 

On the whole, good stuff - just really want more of the visceral element of your magic system. You dealt yourself a great hand, and your underplaying it by letting Dyllis get away with all of this hair and nail-clippings stuff. If magic hurts, and especially if she's not a master, then we need to see the magic hurt.

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I've got some mixed feelings about this chapter. As the Commandante mentioned, your prose is pretty loose, but that's immaterial.

 

We're back to action, which I like a lot. I've consistently thought of this as a kind of swashbuckling adventure, something like Pirates of Penzance, and we're finally back to it. Even better, Covelle--good as he thinks he is--isn't good enough. I love fail cycles, especially this close to a climax. 

 

However, I'm really unsure what this climax is going to be. Were we fighting the duke all along? What is Covelle trying to achieve with his skullduggery? You mention the barque as a frame of reference midway through the first chapter, but spend relatively little time on its importance, making the callback a little jarring. 

 

And while Commandante mentioned the magic, why don't we see any consequences of the fireball? Sure, Dyllis is probably having a little bit, but the porter should have a massive reaction. Either he's on fire or he's just seen a witch try to hex him--the real world parallel of the event. Instead we just skip on, treating him like a true tertiary character.

 

tl;dr I like it, but revision is definitely needed to tighten the scope, both small- and big-picture.

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@Lemming: Thank you for those comments, much appreciated.

 

Your points about the magic are very helpful. Maybe I'm slow in ramping it up, but it's coming. I haven't seen that show but, clearly, I'm going to have to check it out!

 

I note what you say about Dyllis's dialogue. I will alter her retort. Your suggestions are very good - not quite sure if they are Dyllis, which is a pity - especially like the 'fairy' line. There is a reason for her manner of speach, but if it's casting (sorry) too much doubt over her age, I'll need to tweak it.

 

She doesn't lose the pouch on the stairs, she just doesn't have time to reach for it.

 

I'll return to your comments on the use of magic, because they are very helpful, if only to say thank you for bringing it into focus for me. Not quite sure how I'll apply them, but I'll look at this carefully. Biggest thing I take is the need to ramp up.

 

Thank you very much for reading I'm struggling with my critiquing at the moment, but I will get there!

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@JP: Thank for your those comments, they certainly helpl me home in on some stuff to review and improve on. In particular I will include a reference to the porter, and maybe refine how the barque is dealt with.

 

I'm particularly pleased that there were things there that worked for you. The points that you raise are things I have a notion how to address - which is good.Covelle's motivation, which I know (of course), needs to be clarified, which I'm happy to do.

 

Thanks again!

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Very interesting to see the similarities and differences between this and WaD reading group.  Overall, things tend to be consistent in what parts are tagged.

 

Had to chip in on Once Upon a Time.  My wife and I watched up to the third season, but just couldn't take it anymore.  I really liked the price for magic, as Lemming brings up, and the take on fairy tales.  However, later on it started falling to the usual TV problems of stretching things out and resetting heroes just because the actor wanted to be on another season.

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@mandamon - funny enough I lost track after Season 2, so I can't comment. I plan on binge watching at some point to catch up, but I figured out that I have time to keep up with exactly two weekly TV series, I can't pull more even if I'm interested, so if I add one, I have to drop one.

 

Slot 1 goes to Game of Thrones

Slot 2 was Once Upon a Time but is now reserved for The Blacklist 

 

Oh the choices we must make.

Oh and @Robinski - just because we make a critique doesn't mean you have to take all of it. Dyllis' timidity and semi-innocence is clearly a major part of her character, so clearly that has to stay. The question is how do you write a grown character with those traits who doesn't come off as sounding younger than she is. There should be examples in literature or cinema to draw from in terms of how such a person behaves....trying to think... Don't have one coming to mind right now, although any "trainee" character might be a starting point - Luke Skywalker on Dagobah, Kitty Pride in "X-Men: Days of Future Past" had both confidence issues and physical cost to power, Ariadne in "Inception" is constantly questioning the viability of the mission and their ability to pull it off (Yes, I'm aware that I got two Ellen Page roles there - maybe something there in that Page tends to be cast as young people with great power who are painfully aware of their own limits).

 

All three of those are flawed examples - Skywalker is male and too proactive, any Ellen Page character is probably going to be too snarky and self-confident for Dyllis. Although in a Waifs and Strays movie, Page would probably make a kick-butt Dyllis :-)   

Edited by CommandanteLemming
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Ha ha, Slot 1 ALWAYS goes to Game of Thrones - but I'm rewatching Twin Peaks, what do I know   :-)

 

I too have to limit my TV (I'm sure we all do). Currently, I'm watching the new Doctor Who on iPlayer (I watch almost no live TV anymore, like many I'm sure), and Twin Peaks, and usually 2 or 3 movies - which is a struggle with WaD ongoing!

 

@CmdLem: You're right of course, there are definitely some comments at which I smile and nod gratefully before I set them aside!

 

I can't say too much about the Dyllis and her timidity, because that's a thing, as you will discover. It does give issues with image, as you say, and I'll seek to tidy that up on Edit #1. J-Law could play the part, although she might be too old by the time I sell the movie rights LOLOLOLOL!!!

 

@Mandamon: yes, the parallels and differences in the comments between WaD and RE are very interesting, but the big points are usually pretty consistent - which is reassuring.

Edited by Robinski
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