Trizee

September 10- Trizee- The Winter Wars chapter1

11 posts in this topic

Here's the first chapter of my book, where we meet the protagonist Fen, and not Link (yes, I'm trying to think of a new name for him) as some of you thought. I tried to address some of the issues you guys had with the prologue- both with the writing style and with the concept of crystals.

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I enjoyed reading this. The scene's played out smoothly in my mind. I liked how most of the character descriptions where placed in a sentence about something else. It felt very natural. You could do the same with the Treasurer who interrupted Fen's dance.

The duel scene was a good way to have something happening while Fen thought about the conflict with his wife. Maybe you could link the duel with his feelings about his wife a bit. It may help to blend the two emotions together.

I am looking forward to the next chapter. Also, I just joined this group, so I didn't read the prologue. In my humble opinion, you could start with this chapter and not have the prologue.

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Thanks for submitting Trizee - I enjoyed your chapter and I'm looking forward to the next one.

Below is my feedback:

Page 1 – ‘fit of guffawing laughter’ and ‘giggling like a madman’ - I would use one or the other, these words evoke very different pictures for me.

Page 2: ‘far more beautiful than normal’ – this makes me think the windows are a new addition, maybe ‘far more beautiful here than in any other room in the palace’?

Page 3: ‘In the middle of the hall was the wooden dancing floor, now empty due to the musicians’ large appetite.’ – The musicians ate the dancers!? (Joking :) )

Page 4: ‘Fen hadn’t been on good terms with his father ever since he discovered that his mother’s suicide was a result of the tradition that his father upheld.’ – that’s a big reveal dropped off-handedly in my opinion.

Page 4: ‘After the opening stages of the Winter Wars, each of King Azymulff’s surviving children had come up with a way to prevent a struggle for power within his own country. No one wanted to see his country come to ruin the way Alaia had.’ – this felt like an info dump to me. Maybe include some descriptors about who Azymulff is or where Alaia is?

Page 9: ‘Only when I say so will the match begin’ - the language feels a little off to me here, too much mixture of modern and old dialect. Especially so considering that the rules for a duel would be practiced and rehearsed by the head servant.

Page 19: ‘shown like the sun’ – should be 'shone like the sun'

About Page 9 - I felt like this was a fairly common issue I saw coming up over a couple pages.

I am curious to see where you take things, but I'm really hoping you pull Loriyya out of the castle and run her through a few mud patches :)

I like your characters quite a bit, I found them intriguing and I'd be interested to see what conflicts you give them in the future.

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This was much better than the prologue. I would even say the writing style has matured.

I'll second Penance's comments on giggling/guffawing and the infodump with King Azymulff.

pg 3 forward.

Lord Aken's insults seem almost juvenile and he insults anyone who comes near. I get that's he's drunk and probably inbred nobility, but maybe make this a little more subtle?

pg 10

Elad lost patience and lunged at Adiel, who deftly turned Elad’s blade and stabbed back at him, forcing the general to leap back a step to avoid losing the duel to his opponent’s first offensive strike.

You said two pages previously that Elad was pensive and no one had seen him in a rage, yet he loses patience and strikes first. Seems like Adiel would be more likely to do that. Elad also is the one to propose the fight and loses, despite taking the prize every year in the swordsman's tournament. Doesn't seem very pensive to me...

To follow up on what Mindie said,

It'a little too obvious that the duel is just a cover for you to explain Fen and Loriyya's relationship. I think it can still work, just balance the two sides out a little more.

Overall much better than the prologue. The characters feel more real and I'm interested to see where they go from here. I would also like to see Loriyya develop as a person.

I would get rid of the prologue entirely and use this as the beginning of the story. Fen is much more likeable than Link, and you pretty much explain everything that happened anyway. In fact, the reader now has the image of the sort of noble, or at least strong, bandit with the shining sword, and you can plop into Link's perspective to give a personality shock to the reader.

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Yes, this is much better than the prologue.

I liked Fen overall even if I think he's a bit too stereotyped. It's good to show us someone who is willing to part with tradition, but it's been done and done. Maybe you could add some odd character quirks to make him more interesting.

His relationship with his wife made me think of the same situation in one of Joe Abercrombie's books ("Last argument of kings"?). It's definitely a good source of conflict and I hope you can build on that.

I would say that the duel scene is a bit at odds with Fen's remembering events with his wife. The two strands are interesting when looked at individually, but I don't think the two story lines mesh well together. I got excited by the duel, then it stopped, then I started to get excited about his marital problems, then it stopped, ... You get the picture. I think it was a nice idea to try it (we all think about strange things while watching entertainment), but it doesn't read that good.

My main issue here is the number of characters and places. There are so many I lost count. For an opening chapter, you should limit yourself to about 3 new characters so your reader isn't lost. An editor made me change an early chapter (not even the first) because 3 characters talked about 2 others; you're far above this count. I was also told to drop last names at first because it's like 2 names when you need only one; you might want to do the same here. The same goes for location names : too many makes for a more difficult read.

The wooden sword is a nice idea.

Last comment : I think the chapter ends too abruptly. The last sentence isn't a surprise for the reader (since we've known that since the prologue), so you can't say you're ending with an emotional response from the reader. You need to put in there Fen's thoughts (one or two sentences) in order to achieve that : we're supposed to empathize with him so show us what he's feeling right there before closing the chapter.

On a side note : I'm not sure which font you used, but I found the end result difficult to read (I used OpenOffice; It might look fine with Word). You might want to use something more common, especially if you want to submit your manuscripts later.

Edited by akoebel
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Thanks for all this.

Prologue- I think you guys may be right about cutting out the prologue, but it is a good way to introduce the world, so I'm not sure yet...

Elad- You're totally right for noticing this. I've decided to let his actions speak for themselves and cut out the comment about him being pensive.

To akoebel- I was wondering if the comment about the emerald pommel on Adiel's blade explained the way the crystals work a bit. Also the font is Times New Roman, so if you use Word it should be fine.

Edited by Trizee
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I was wondering if the comment about the emerald pommel on Adiel's blade explained the way the crystals work a bit.

Not at the time. I sensed there was something there, but didn't have enough elements yet to understand the magic system (which is fine, you have time to set it up).

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The idea wasn't to explain everything, only to show that there is a difference between the crystals in my story and their real world counterparts. They aren't hte same thing, and therefore behave differently (as you've showed at length).

As for the characters, I would like to think that the abundance of them is less odf a problem because they are all unique, but that's probably far from true. I'll try and see if I can cut out some of them.

As for the ending, I added a line: "Fen stared at the man blankly. Finally, he thought." Hope that helps.

I agree with you that there are some problems withthe crystal swords. They should pose a danger when they shatter, and one superior blade wouldn't be enough to win a war (maybe I'll mention something about making a lot of diamond blades...?)

Anyway, I am aware that there are some serious problems with rthe world I've created, and though I'm working on solving them, I'm a long way away from finding an answer, so any helpful ideas would be good.

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As for the ending, I added a line: "Fen stared at the man blankly. Finally, he thought." Hope that helps.

That's a great line!

Just write what you have in your head for now. We'll see in a few chapters if we understand your world better.

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I'm going to do something a bit unusual and disagree with a number of the other posters. I actually liked the prologue more than this chapter.

That's not to say that the prologue didn't have issues, because it did, but I thought more exciting things were happening there. Kings ambushed! Uber-weapons misappropriated! Tales of derring-do!

This chapter, while moderately interesting and something of a setup, feels like, well, a setup. There were good parts and bad parts, but overall it just felt like a setup chapter, which is not usually what one wants for the first chapter. I think a lot of it has to do with Fen being pretty passive and easy to push around (although he kind of pushes back, just a bit, by insulting his father in law). Basically, he sits and thinks, gets insulted, contemplates his new wife while two acquaintances duel, and dances with his new wife. How much of that is him doing something?

I think the character needs firmed up a bit, in my opinion, and given some conflict right away. Something more than "I have a beautiful new wife but don't know how to relate to her." Alternately, though riskier, make him weaker and obviously able to be pushed around, since him being pushed around is an obvious source of conflict and potential growth.

Another possibility is to make the relationship even newer. You refer to marriage month, but it seems they've had time to settle into a separate-room routine already. It couldn't be the day after the wedding, if the king is already gone and dead, but could it be only three days later? Maybe she's been in her separate room from the get-go, and he's not sure how to break past her propriety and suggest sharing a bed without making it a formal request, which (formality) is not something he wants with his wife?

Page 4: ‘Fen hadn’t been on good terms with his father ever since he discovered that his mother’s suicide was a result of the tradition that his father upheld.’ – that’s a big reveal dropped off-handedly in my opinion.

I do agree with this. At the very least, maybe make it a nagging suspicion he's held, without any actual proof, and anyway not something he can accuse anyone of.

Page 4: ‘After the opening stages of the Winter Wars, each of King Azymulff’s surviving children had come up with a way to prevent a struggle for power within his own country. No one wanted to see his country come to ruin the way Alaia had.’ – this felt like an info dump to me. Maybe include some descriptors about who Azymulff is or where Alaia is?

Yes to this also. Maybe rather it could be worked in a little more with his blossoming relationship with this wife (if it blossoms).

I am curious to see where you take things, but I'm really hoping you pull Loriyya out of the castle and run her through a few mud patches :)

Yeah, I'm not sure I want too much focus on Loriyya, but if she is one of the main characters, I'd like to see her either drug through mud, or have a secret super-competent identity with what we see as a front. Maybe a spy or something, to work for her father's and her country's ends?

My main issue here is the number of characters and places. There are so many I lost count. For an opening chapter, you should limit yourself to about 3 new characters so your reader isn't lost. An editor made me change an early chapter (not even the first) because 3 characters talked about 2 others; you're far above this count. I was also told to drop last names at first because it's like 2 names when you need only one; you might want to do the same here. The same goes for location names : too many makes for a more difficult read.

This too. Although I wasn't too overwhelmed, it was a lot right at the beginning, and I'm unsure how many will be important for the story.

Last comment : I think the chapter ends too abruptly. The last sentence isn't a surprise for the reader (since we've known that since the prologue), so you can't say you're ending with an emotional response from the reader. You need to put in there Fen's thoughts (one or two sentences) in order to achieve that : we're supposed to empathize with him so show us what he's feeling right there before closing the chapter.
As for the ending, I added a line: "Fen stared at the man blankly. Finally, he thought." Hope that helps.

I think that's a great change to make.

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The prologue makes this chapter stronger, and for that reason I think you should keep it. Also, giving us Link up front is good because it gives us someone to contrast with Fen. I'd play up the differences subtly, for the reader's sake.

I feel like the character of Fen starts with direction but slowly looses it as the chapter goes on. At first, he wants to be a different type of rule than his father. That's great. He wants to keep his wife in his life forever. Sweet. But as he goes on thinking, I can't help but feel Fen is simply acting based on his own daddy issues, especially since he has no reason to want to spend his whole life with his wife that I can see. Considering how the chapter ends, I would play up the fact that his entire way of thinking is based around his father so when he finds out about his father's death, it can hit him to his core and cause him to reevaluate his entire life (though maybe not all at once). This shift being your focus. As the chapter stands, however, I feel like the character loses direction to the point where I'm not sure he has any before he finds out about the death. Instead of changing the direction of a human being that existed before the story, I feel like the death is an attempt to give a brand new character direction where there was none before. Like the character wasn't interesting until the story started.

The dueling scene mixing with thoughts of Loriyya can work beautifully (at least it's worth a shot trying to make it work, imho, because it's one of those things that, if it does work, it could be awesome) but the Loriyya parts need to be stronger. Maybe if you talk about her less throughout the rest of the chapter and then showcase her here? Just a thought.

One thing I felt, especially early in the chapter, was that the description was better than the dialogue and action. The description was neat and professional, giving a full picture and really helped me visualize that scene (which few writers are capable of) but sometimes it felt like those parts were so good that they outshine that which they surround, like you spent more time on them. Not saying this is true. Perhaps you spent far less time on them and are just a description guru (in which case I hate you--not really) but there is some disparity there. Toward the end of the chapter, I barely noticed it, and by then I might have just been imagining it.

I like the way you balance the normal with the strange. The prologue starts with an assassination and strange crystal swords, but then we get a few humorous pages of realistic family bantering that helps the reader settle in.

The chapter seems to lose focus as it goes. I'm never really sure what this chapter is about, except that it introduces a bunch of people and concepts. There's too much information given that doesn't pay off in this chapter. I think it's okay (even good) to introduce stuff that doesn't pay off till later, but space it out a bit.

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