Sprouts

12/29/2014 - Sprouts - Thinker : Chapter One

9 posts in this topic

Hi Reading Excuses, here's a first chapter of a novel I've been working on.

 
It's approx. 1750 words, so it isn't very long.  
 
Blurb for the novel: A rural hunter becomes embroiled in a rebellion against the Hands of God when he is taken to be sacrificed.
 
Thanks to any that read and/or critique!
 
Note: I've got the second chapter ready-to-go, and plan on this being a weekly submission type of deal.

 

Looking forward to getting some critiques.  I'm interested in anything and everything you guys have to say.

 

Thanks again!

Edited by Sprouts
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Overall, this was interesting, and kept me focused to the end.  You have a good hook at the end of the chapter, so I'm ready to read the next chapter to find out what happens to Jack.

There's some good worldbuilding here too, maybe on the edge of infodumping in lieu of Jack doing more interesting things, but it's alright for now.  I wouldn't want every chapter to be like this.

The only other complaint (and this ties into the above) is that Jack isn't very active here.  He's tracking his prey, but he's already shot it, and just waiting for it to die, which gives him plenty of time to philosophize.  Leading into my comment above. Again, it was okay for now.

 

Just read your writeup above, and Jack getting taken to be sacrificed sounds more interesting than waiting for an animal to die.  Looking forward to that part!

 

A few other things:

 

pg 1: 1200lb

--This sounds like fantasy, so putting English/American weights in sounds odd.  Also, usually numbers are written out.

 

pg 2: "Jack sank to his knees."

--This reads like he's really tired, but you haven't given a lot of evidence of that. Is he just waiting?

 

pg 4: "Jack let caution fly on the wind, you didn’t stand and fight a bruskil that wanted to kill you."

--I would think caution would be getting out of the way, so he's not really letting it fly.
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Thanks for reading Mandamon!

 

I have a bad tendency of making characters that do a lot of thinking and not a lot of acting.  I got lots of good feedback on that exact tendency last time I submitted.  But lo and behold, I stumble into the same thing this time  :huh:.  

As a note, I did sort of realize that upon reading the chapter after finishing it.  So hopefully the second chapter, which does not feature Jack, should have a much more active main character.

 

On the 1200lb issue, I've always heard: spell out numbers ten and less, use numbers for higher.  It's awkward either way, so I'll probably just swap it out for something else.  The lb thing was just me trying to save time and not get caught up in a worldbuilding detail I hadn't thought of when I reached that point.  When I swap the sentence out it shouldn't be an issue.

 

He was just waiting.  I'll replace that with something a little more indicative of that.  Thanks!

 

Thanks for pointing out the caution thing.  I've read this chapter who knows how many times and never caught that...

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Hi. I liked this so far. I'll echo what Mandamon said - some good worldbuilding and interesting enough to keep me wanting to read.

 

Some minor stuff ...

 

"They were a high risk, high reward prey." This doesn't work here and might want to review the whole paragraph a little. You start with "Jack rarely hunted them." but then it seems to jump back and forth a little -in my mind- as to whether it is desirable or not to hunt them. They can kill you but they are valueable, but you could die a horrible death from poison, but you will get honor if you get one .... hope that makess sense.

 

"...doubtlessly have successfully caught one already..." caught sounds like live capture to me, or catching a fish. 'Killed' or 'killed and dismembered', or 'brought one down' maybe?

 

"Suddenly, an orb of multicolored light exploded above Athalin" is this a magical event, or fireworks? How high above Athalin's head ie high in the sky above ..."? Clarify.

 

"Soon now. Very soon" you might try without this. In fact I imagine that if he saw this thing leap out of the bushes he wouldn't have a 'thinking' reaction but something more visceral.

 

"Jack saw sudden movement in his peripheral vision. His heart raced. Crouching quickly
he shielded his eyes as another explosion echoed nearby.  The bushkil burst from its hiding place in a flurry of leaves."

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Oops sorry, closed the window....

 

here's some more minor stuff ...

 

"The Mercen River lay below. Though it could scarcely be called a river anymore. The water level had lowered so much recently that it was more of a serpentine trail of smooth rocks sticking out of a couple feet of slow moving water." doesn't fit as written in an action sequence maybe something like

 

"A serpentine trail of smooth rocks jutted from the unusually low waters of the Mercen River below him." Too much description in the midst of the action seems t slow it down.

 

"Flashes of light and sound continued to burst from above Athalin, increasing in tempo.
Fireworks! The river sparkled as if fireflies danced above it. Saved by fireworks."

 

Ok, so they are fireworks. I think this needs to be made clear early on - ie "The celebratory fireworks from Oshkosh, cast strange shadows and caused most of the smaller animals to remain hidden. The smell of gunpowder and phosphors drifting on the night air masked ..."

 

At work so that's all I have time for. Perhaps see if you can trim some of the thinking a little, just to keep up the tension. All in all a good write.

Edited by stormweasel
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Hi, glad to read something else of yours after Human Gods, which sparked an interesting debate, I remember.

 

So, I think there’s a nice flow to the style, I'm comfortable reading it and the opening scene is reasonably interesting. It seems more concentrated on scene-setting than ‘wow’ factor, but I can go with that, as I'm learning about a new world, which will keep me going, up to a point.

 

I wasn’t clear that the explosion above the mountain was a firework until quite some time later. Not sure what I thought it was (literally an explosion?), but some clarity on that would have helped me.

 

There isn’t a great amount of blocking, but I was okay with that, I felt I had a picture of the surroundings, my interpretation anyway.

 

There is some intriguing character information in terms of Jack’s physiological reaction to killing animals which seems to hint at some deeper force at work. Jack’s a pretty boring name, but he seems to have some depth to him as a character, I'm starting to develop an interest in him, but it feels more like a slow burn than an immediate “I'm on board!!”

 

Is that all of Chapter 1? It’s pretty short, but as an introduction it was okay. As I said, I didn’t get a ‘wow’ from what I’ve read so far, I didn’t have a strong image of the setting, but you don’t want to take up initial sections describing the scenery, I'm sure. All-in-all, I would keep reading, but I think I’d be hoping to meet more characters soon and see some wider conflict.

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Thanks for the feedback Stormweasel and Robinski!

 

Stormweasel,

Thanks for giving some tips for tightening up the scenes that are intended to be action-y or tense.  It was good advice to have in my head while writing later chapters.  During revisions I'll make sure to give everything a good look over for flow.

 

I like how you give short little snippets of your advice in writing form.  Very helpful for grasping what is wrong with the writing as is.

 

Robinski, 

You bring up a good point on the fireworks thing.  I tried to hold the actual description of what it was in the exact sense until the time-for-action had passed.  So that it would seem more natural for him to be thinking about what the explosions were.  I've had the same point brought up by a friend that read over it, so it clearly didn't work entirely as I'd hoped.  I'll make sure to give it some thought during revisions.  

I'd also like to ask you what exactly blocking is?  I've seen you mention it a couple of times in critiques recently, usually relating to scene-setting, but I'm not entirely sure on what you mean by it.  

 

Moving forward.  This chapter was pretty short.  It was an attempt by me to kind of push past the opening of the story, which can be hard for me sometimes, and get at the meat faster.  I've heard from various sources that starting with shorter chapters helps hook the reader.  And that expanding on the length of the chapters later will keep them interested and happens almost naturally as conflicts grow.  We'll see if it works with this.  The next chapter is a little over twice as long.  I'll be submitting it tomorrow.  Hopefully it isn't too long to bore, but long enough to get the hooks in all the way.

 

Thanks!

Edited by Sprouts
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I enjoyed this one also!

 

On the 1200lbs thing, I had all kinds of trouble with putting modern/earthly measurements into fantasy and it took me a while to realize how to fix it. First of all, I now try and avoid quantitative descriptions, so instead of saying 180lbs I say "easily as heavy as a man" or that sort of thing. But If I think it is absolutely necessary to convey size or weight a little more accurately, I would recommend using the human body as a measuring stick. Even in real life, not many people look at an animal and think "well that's 300lbs and two meters tall" they just notice what its like in proportion to themselves.

 

I think I agree on there not being enough action, but that can be fixed easily. It also might be a good chance to further show the empathy Jack seems to have with the animals, i.e. wincing when the arrow strikes the Bruskil etc...

 

I do have to disagree with whoever said they want more description of the surroundings, I was fine with what was given. Tundra- frozen plains with shrubbery and rocks usually surrounded/near mountains. In fact I think you could even have done less with the river, maybe just call it a dried riverbed and be done. Just my opinion though! 

 

The description of the fireworks was confusing too me too at first, but that should be an easy fix.

 

Lastly, I just want to point out that basically everyone on this forum (including me) has written about some powerful or dangerous person/creature, but they never actually kill anyone important. Even Brandon Sanderson did this with the Inquisitors, I can only think of one main character that was killed by an Inquisitor during his books!  So it's refreshing (though morbid) that the extremely dangerous Bruskil actually proved itself right from the start.

 

This is interesting so far, keep up the good work!!

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Blocking is description of the setting, the immediate surroundings, to give the reader context for where the actions/events happen. I realise I quibbled a little on that but, like Lerroy, I was comfortable with it as I have a reasonable idea of what tundra should look like, and you did describe the vista and the mountain early on.

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