Robinski

Waifs and Strays – Submission 1 – 150922 – Prologue and Chapter 1 – 5918 words (V)

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So, seeing as there are no other submissions this week, I’ve cheekily gone a bit long. As it’s the first submission, I’ve left the index in, and the map, which contribute to the word count, but it’s still 5,900 odd words of story – apologies for that, it (probably) won’t happen again!

 

I hope that you enjoy the first section of the story, but I would appreciate your thoughts on the usual things, such as:

 

- Promises to the reader?

- Style, does it read well and make you want to keep reading?

- Pacing, are events interesting, what do you feel about the story going forward?

- Characters on view, are they engaging?

 

Any comments very much appreciated.

 

Cheers, Robinski

Edited by Robinski
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Hey Robinski,
 
I've read the prologue once before. Did I ever provide you with feedback? I can't remember. :)
 
Overall, I liked what I was reading. I especially liked the scenes at the harbour. All in all, I was very easily able to imagine the surrounding and what was going on, especially after the prologue. I'm not sure which direction this will take, but I'm intrigued to read more. :)
 
Promises:
I think this is a fantasy story and that there will be magic. Ahma is probably a caster, but doesn't know yet. Benam will probably get the chance to prove his worth once again.
 
Characters:
I like Benam. I'd say that I'm most invested in him, emotionally, for now.
I don't have an opinion of Covelle yet.
Ahma... her first scene didn't put her up on the likable list for me. She appears rather brutish and I'm not really invested in her problems yet.
 
I had the feeling that the beginning was rather rough and bumpy, and that the writing got smoother along the way. Especially starting from the harbour scenes, there was almost nothing that made me stop.
Throught the whole piece - and especially in the beginning - there were a lot of sentences that I felt were too long and confusing and paragraphs that I felt should have been split up. I'll try to give concrete examples below, but as I'm not a native speaker, don't pay too much attention to this. :)
Just recently I have discovered "The Elements of Style", which I thought was fabulous. I've been asking myself many times "should I put a comma here?" or "should this be on a separate paragraph?". Most of my questions were answered by this book. If you haven't read it yet, maybe it's something that you'd find helpful. :) It's available for free here: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/37134/37134-h/37134-h.htm
 
Now, let's get our hand dirty with details. :) (I try not to be too prescriptive, but I feel that I need to give concrete examples here and there, to explain my point. I hope you don't mind)
 
Prologue
Are you aware that Hasstal means something like Hatevale in German?
 
"Some of the throng singled him out for praise as his duke had done, as the king now had done, the Hero of Lufmatho."
From this sentence, it was not clear to me who was the Hero of Lufmatho. Benam or the duke.
 
"He had rallied the troops, the citizens themselves with pitchforks and hammers; he had rallied them all and led the town’s defence with the senior officers dead or separated from the main force."
I don't like giving prescriptive feedback, but I feel this sentence could be a lot stronger if you reordered it some, putting more emphasize on Betam. I'm thinking something along the lines of: "With the senior officers dead, and the troops without command, it had been him who rallied them. It had been him who had gathered the citizens, with their pitchforks and hammers, and it had been him who led the town's defence, driving back the enemy."
 
"This was the first time he had seen the man, he certainly hadn’t faced him in the streets of Lufmatho."
Wouldn't the corret thing be "This was the first time he saw the man, [...]"?
 
There's a lot of hate here, and I found it a bit repetitive:
"The ferocity of the fighting in Lufmatho showed that the Theracians hated them. How their emperor whipped up that hatred did not matter. He directed his war machine at his enemies and unleashed that hate. It was their way, they were remorseless and the empire grew."
 
This is an example where I think a new paragraph would be necessary: (Also, what's up with the parenthesis?)
"Benam’s captive snorted. “You think you are better than us?” The man had to raise his voice above the noise of the crowd. “We kill quickly, with sword or axe. This is barbaric. I'd spit in your face, but it would dishonour me. You’ve no more honour (stature) than a snivelling (caster).” Benam said nothing."
 
"There were royal troops at the base of the platform to manage the prisoners."
I think this would be stronger in active voice E.g. "Royal troops stood at the base of the platform to manage the prisoners." (I tend to use this as well :))
 
"Benam called his orders, feeling that slight discomfort that many were older, more experienced than him."
"that slight discomfort" made me stop a bit, because it sounds like it's something I know, but I don't. I think something like this would be clearer: "Benam called his orders, feeling a slight discomfort because many were older, more experienced, than him."
 
Another example of where I think a new paragraph is needed:
"The tone of the crowd changed, rose, and he heard shouts of ‘Long live the king,’ and ‘Creator bless Menalothen.’ Benam could see the man coming towards him from the opposite end of the platform, tall and blond, his stride confident, his air commanding for a man who was younger than Benam by five years. He led a party along the wooden deck, their boots thudding on the boards."
 
"The Duke of Lufmatho was with the king, while the other dukes sat at the far end of the platform. Lufmatho shook Benam’s hand too. His bearing was stiffer, his gaze harder, more appraising. “The town owes you a debt, lad. We’ll speak of it sometime, but we have duties now.”"
I don't think anybody expected them to discuss Benam's reward at that moment on the stage, which makes the remark about the duties a little awkward to me.
 
"The bishop began in a monotone, which the crowd followed in a low murmur that resonated between the buildings enclosing the square."
Can you use "monotone" as a noun? Well, I just checked: Yes you can. But it still made me stop. :)
 
"“On a day full of heroes, this man,” the king waved him forward and a jolt ran through Benam as he stepped forward, hesitant."
I think it would be easier to read if you mentioned Benam first and used "him" afterwards. (switching "Benam" and "him")
 
"“This man, Captain Benam of the Duke of Lufmatho’s Guard"
That sounds really complicated / awkward to me. I think you could cut "of the Duke" and it would still be clear that we're talking about the guard of Lufmatho.
 
"That he bring your justice down on the heads of these invaders, that he sends our message to them that Wenrok does not bow down to bullying and savagery."
It was not really clear to me who you are referring to when you say "sends our message to them". Judging by the sentence's structure, it would refer to the invaders - the ones he's supposed to bring justice down on, not the ones still alive somewhere else.
 
"“Wenrok will not kowtow to threats.”"
knowtow? :)
 
"The first man died almost instantly, a clean snap, as did the second. Two kingsmen walked along the line with Benam, but none of the Theracians received the honour of the sword, they were not worth it. It was distasteful work, but Benam recalled images of these men rampaging through the streets of Lufmatho cutting down innocents, firing buildings, killing everyone in their path, and his anger kept him moving along the line pulling hard on the wooden levers. His people deserved their vengeance."
I felt like this was a lot of telling and little showing of Benam's feelings. E.g. I'm missing something like cracking leather while he bunches his fists in anger etc. :Did
 
"The kingsman at each gibbet stepped back as he approached, the king, the duke and the major accompanied him towards the assembled dukes at the end."
I was really surprised by the appearance of more dukes at the end of the stage. When did they get there?
 
"Benam remembered the tears of children clasped in their mothers’ arms, families cowering in stables and cellars, scuttling away as the defensive line contracted, husbands tearing themselves away from desperate wives to pick up fallen weapons and join the defence."
Here I was wondering whether Benam really was in the stables and the cellars to see all this. I felt like this were details an omnipotent spectator might have, but not necessarily Benam.
 
"Here stood the Theracian commander before the dukes of Wenrok, who stood in the presence of their king."
stood... stood. And why is it so special that he stands in the presence of the king? Didn't the others, too?
 
"The Theracian was shackled but not hooded, afforded the opportunity to watch the last of his men die."
Were the others hooded?
 
"You know I am not a soldier, but I will show them that every man of Wenrok will fight!"
I would find it very odd to see a leader slight himself in front of a crowd.
 
"“My tutor says it will take much practice to make a swordsman of me.” Menalothen swung the blade in a flat arc, catching the man above the elbow, slicing through his clothing."
Really like this, and the image it paints.
 
"There was a good chance the wound would not have killed the man on its own, the Theracian slumped as Menalothen withdrew the blade, dropping it on the platform."
It sounded to me like the Theracian dropped the blade.
 

Chapter 1
"Thirty years later..."
When I read this I was groaning inside. I hate it when I im introduced to a character and then he doesn't play a role anymore. (Reader on, I saw that he is still part of the story, so that redeemed you a bit :D)
 
"halting their elbows in surprise"
Couldn't imagine that. What were they doing?
 
"fire jumped from his arm to the tabletop"
That sounded like magic. I had a hard time believing that a wooden table would catch fire so fast.
 
"Ibdal’s eyes were wild [...]"
If we get to know his name, why so late?
 
"[...] rooted into motion [...]"
Huh?
 
"When she stood, the fire on the table was almost out. Old Man Lynell appeared from the back with clean linen, ripping it as he came towards Ibdal, while the girls started to tidy up."
They start cleaning while the fire is still burning??
 
"“Your idiot doorman! My bill of lading is ashes, worthless! I will not stand for this.”"
Not sure if this is a language thing, and I don't get it right, but from what I know, you use "stand for something" when you defend something - e.g. your opinion. Why would that guy defend having his bill burnt?
 
"On the floor, Ibdal moaned as hands turned him over. Ahma stepped towards the advancing man and slapped him across the face."
I felt like the action in the previous scene was all over the place, and this is an example. I felt it was switching too much between the different actors.
 
"He placed a grand-fatherly hand on her shoulder, and watched the men walk away, ignoring the glances of passersby."
Who is ignoring the glances? Sounds like the old man, but I think you meant the men, right?
 
"your cheek ringing in my ears"
Couldn't imagine what you meant...
 
"Covelle nodded, hiding his satisfaction at Ghintor’s careworn expression. He walked past the harbour-master to encounter a tall, bulky, bearded man in the doorframe. Most men were taller than Covelle of course, but this was not most men, it was Benam, Hero of Lufmatho. Aye, twenty years ago, thought Covelle. The former kingsman was wider around the middle than the shoulders now, had crow’s feet in the swarthy skin at his temples and a retreating hairline, his dark beard peppered with grey. King Menalothen would not pick Benam for his elite regiment now. Rumour had it his eyesight was failing, but his sharp, blue gaze picked over Covelle intently enough. They’d passed closer than this before, but staying forgotten was Covelle’s great talent."
Loved it.
 
"Covelle wondered how much of Ghintor’s job the former kingsman did while the harbour-master kept company with cup and pipe, at the same time scanning faces and ships, noting colours and crew, storing it all away."
It sounds like Benam is scanning the faces and ships.
 
"Hopefully such a one would not, however, see how straight his arm was."
I found "such a one" confusing and it wasn't immediately clear to me who you meant.
 
"“What about his family – how should he keep them now? Or don’t you care about the consequences of your actions?”"
The second phrase sounded off to me, partly because it's also implied in the first.
 
"The proof of Benam’s suspicion was the lack of warning [...]"
This sentence confused me, especially "The proof of Benam's suspicion".
 
"The men were all standing now and stepped forward."
They were standing all the time, right? "[...] three men were standing smoking [...]"
 
"Come to think of it, he was just the sort to do that good deed then help himself to something once he’d had a good chance examine the basket on the way home."
I found this long and confusing.
 
I hope this was helpful. :)
 
Cheers,
Helge
 
 

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Wow! Thanks Molah, awesome feedback. I'm just browsing it at bed time, but will not comment on specifics as I need to have a clear head to properly take your comments in. I'll mention one though, 'cause it really tickled me. Hasstal, as with all of the place names in the story, is an anagram of a real place name. The fact that it has a German meaning is weird, but the meaning itself seems rather apposite.

Proper coment on your excellent feedback tomorrow.

Thank you!

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I enjoyed this quite a bit, though I feel there's room for improvement.

 

The writing threw me off in a lot of places where I'm not sure if it needs to be tightened up or if what's happening is that I'm running headlong into your natural writing style. I'm not going to list every example, but it happens very frequently.

Some examples from the first page:

1) "People lined the streets and cheered, held children on their shoulders to wave bright flags and shout insults at the defeated Theracian soldiers".

  - My natural instinct there would be to replace held with holding to make the entire second half of the sentence a modifier of the noun People. An alternative would be to add an "and" in front of "held" after the comma. Both those suggestions would very much change the reading of the sentence, and again I'm not sure that what you wrote was an error because held could just be the next item in a list of things the people are doing, but it reads as awkward to me.

2) "They had struggled, been forced back into the narrow streets, fighting tooth and nail for every yard, they had refused to give in."

 - Here I feel there's a mistake, and that "They refused to give in" should be its own sentence, because it can't be part of a list like "had struggled" and "[had] been forced back" are, and doesn't modify the third section the way the third section modifies the second.

3) "Luftmatho's soldiers stood proudly in the wagons, straight-backed, hands on their captives' chains"

 - This is something you do very often, which is to write the sentence, and then modify your subject from behind with additions further along in the sentence, rather than something like "Luftmatho's soldiers stood straight-backed and proud in the wagons, ...". Again, not necessarily an error but it feels off to me.

 

And that's all I'll say for writing style.

 

Specifics (minus many that Molah already pointed out):

P5) "The Theracians had pressed the defenders to [the/their] breaking point."

P6) "You've no more honour (stature) than a snivelling (caster)." I'm not if this is supposed to indicate foreign or missing words, but I don't really get what's happening.

P8) "...man wearing a tall mitre appeared and held out(s) his arms"

P8) Here I initially skipped over the prayer to get to the following action, and then forced myself to go back and read it.

P9) Kowtow threw me off because I identify it directly as a borrowed Chinese word and it feels out of place in this story.

P13) "Burn them all" should be its own sentence.

P13) Also, a promise: That it's significant that the king had the bodies burned when he spoke of returning them whence they came.

P14) An odd quibble here maybe, but it felt like a relatively serious fantasy until I got to the chapter heading "Flaming Slap Fight". It struck me as comedic, but the chapter itself was not. It feels out of place.

P16) "grand-fatherly" shouldn't take a hyphen, I think, unless it's an in-world term.

P17) I'm not sure what makes that curse illegal. A different description than illegal, or some mild exposition would help here.

P24) "Careless the darkened road's uneven surface" - Missing a word here

P25) "They don't want [to?] catch it for being out late."

 

The characterization is generally good. Benam is distinct, as is Ghintor, and Covelle (though he suffers a little from so short an appearance). Ahma leaves me wondering why she's so tough in the Inn and so frightened on the road, and at the end with her mother I found her almost childlike rather than old enough to work a bar at an inn, except that you refer to the two of them as "women" so I expect that they're both adults. The mother is also distinct, as the only person so far in this story with an opinion of the Theracians that differs from the party line.

One thing I'll say is that you introduce 3 POVs in a short amount of time, and it required an adjustment each time we changed, such that by Ahma's second appearance I simply assumed it was someone new and then had to go back and start over when I realized it was the barmaid from the inn.

 

One thing you could improve is to let us know sooner whose head we're in, and give us information on how they notice what's otherwise a description in a very remote third-person. ex. In the prologue, let us know right away we're in Benam's head and show us how he's reacting to the sights and the sounds. Benam being the proudest of them all meant very little to me when you mentioned it, but Benam revelling in the cheers of the crowd later tells me a lot about him and helps brings me into the story (and especially when it's the first time we are seeing this character). Covelle I think you handled very well in this regard.

 

I'm assuming that we'll find out what is so distasteful about being a caster (and what exactly a caster is), and you've sort of telegraphed that Ahma will be one (though you could surprise us). I expect we'll learn more about this distant emperor and why he drives his people to conquest, but one thing that's never clarified is if there's been peace since the prologue or if the invasion is an ongoing thing? This doesn't look too much like a kingdom at war at the moment.

Also, religion is front and center in this submission. From the language used to the prayer to the presence of a religious official at the ceremony and the crowd turning in unison to the cathedral. I'm hoping that it is important to the story and not just window dressing, because in the prologue you've crafted it into almost a character of its own.

 

Does all that still sound like I enjoyed it? Because I did enjoy it. I'm looking forward to more of this story. Are you planning on submitting more of this here or is this going to be on alpha readers only?

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Thank you again, Molah, super comments. Part 1 response follows:

I am glad that the scene setting worked for you, and that one of the characters was engaging. I can understand what you say about Ahma. I won't say any more about this just now. On the promises, very interesting. Again, I probably shouldn't say too much.

Style points noted. I've heard of Elements of Style, but must obtain it - thank you for the link..., which I have just done. Looks interesting, I think I will enjoy reading that over the next few weeks. I suppose my style will be inconsistent in this first draft, but I'm glad that there are sections that read fell for you. Now to the details!

Prologue

1 - unclear who hero is: yes, I agree;

2 - stronger sentence order: I agree again, your version is stronger;

3 - 'saw the man': Hmm, I'm unsure. It's not intended to be a flashback, so it's written (I hope!) in present tense rather than past. I'm not as sharp on tense as I should be, but I think 'had seen' works.

4 - excess of hate: yes, probably one too many, I'll change the last one to something else;

5 - paragraph and parentheses: I'll accept the paragraph comment, where would you break it though? The first brackets are me think of an alternative word - should not have left that in. I think the second is the same, but maybe they have another word for caster. Just edit notes - sorry for leaving in!

6 - Passive voice: you're right, that is my curse. I've switched the PV rule on in grammar checking and I hope there are many fewer in this story than my last. Dan Wells did say to completely eliminate PV looked as amateurish as an excess of it, but I agree with you here;

7 - more direct working of discomfort: agree;

8 - new para: agree;

9 - 'duties now': unsure, easy enough to play down, probably will;

10 - monotone: I reckon so. Don't recall any other comments, but I'll review in the edit;

11 - him > Benam: agree;

12 - Lufmatho Guard: agree;

13 - sends a message: agree, will edit;

14 - kowtow: yup "act in an excessively subservient manner." Maybe it's a bit old fashioned, but I think the majority of readers would know it, and the rest could learn it! Seriously though, wouldn't want lots of people stopping. I could say "bend the knee" or some alternative, but on the other hand, that's how words die out.

15 - lack of Benam's feeling: good comment, I agree, I will fix that;

16 - more dukes: they were mentioned earlier, when it says that Lufmatho was with the king, while the other dukes were assembled at the end of the platform. Maybe unclear. I can tag them better, perhaps flag their stiff expressions at Lufmatho being favoured;

17 - Benam seeing the families: I had intended this to be seen by him in the street, but I appreciate the blocking is unclear. These are other families than the ones in the stables. Need to clarify this, thanks.

18 - stood... stood: you're right, this is untidy, I will revise;

19 - hooded: unclear, I will revise;

20 - not a soldier: Hmm, good point. I'm not sure, will need to think about that. I can see what you mean;

21 - Menalothen's first blow: thank you! I think most people found this scene rather disturbing, so I guess it's effective :-)

22 - withdrew the blade: ok, I can reword.

Phew, I think I'll take a breather!

Edited by Robinski
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Molah (Part 2!!),

Chapter 1

23 - 30 years later: glad I was redeemed! I guess I could start with Benam's next scene, to show immediately that he is still there;

24 - halting elbows: ok, I surrender! My wife didn't like this either. I meant the action drinking (beer). I will change;

25 - fire jumping: agree, it's supposed to be flammable spirits, but doesn't read well;

26 - Ibdal: I thought he might be a character, but 28 chapters later he's never reappeared, so I'll drop the name;

27 - rooted: yeah, that doesn't make sense;

28 - clear up: agree, doesn't work;

29 - 'won't stand for it': I think it's an older expression. The sense is correct, but I'm not sure of the origin. I wonder if it's like, "stand up if you agree", like a voting thing. Then again, if no-one's heard of it, it's a problem;

30 - action unclear: I agree. This scene has attracted quite a bit of comment. It needs revising;

31 - glances in the street: agree, unclear;

32 - cheek in ears: meaning cheekiness, but weird phrasing, may change;

33 - Benam's description: very glad you found it effective. I felt it was really important to reintroduce Benam in his aged state, so pleased that worked for you;

34 - scanning faces: agree unclear, will fix;

35 - such a one: agree, unclear;

36 - consequences: yeah, could be better;

37 - proof of suspicion: ok, bit clumsy, will review;

38 - men standing: Oops, continuity error!;

39 - long and confusing: I'll accept that, one for the edit.

Really appreciate that comprehensive set of comments. I think there are only a couple that I might leave as is. I can see how those points will improve the opening, thank you!

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Shrike, thank you so much for your comments. They are very interesting and stimulated a good session of self-examination of the opening of the story. Thoughts in response follow:

1 - Awkward sentence structure: This is a really good point. It is a facet of my style, as you surmise, and not an error. While this is a first draft, the treatment of phrasing is something you'll probably encounter again. It is exactly as you identify, a kind of listing which, to me ear, is dramatic, but if it's not working for the audience then it's not working. I need to consider that;

2 - They refused to give in: agree. I have a tendency to churn out run-on sentences and not break things up enough. It was flagged by my writing group (in no uncertain terms!) in the course of this project, and is something I need to address in the edit;

3 - Stood proud: Yes, the order of things in this sentence does feel off. I'll call first edit syndrome and revise in the edit. This said, I agree that I'm prone to what you describe. You're much better than I am at identifying what's going on structure-wise. I'm not sure what to do about it to be honest. Is it something broken that will hamper my aspirations to get published, or is it my style, and a part of who I am as a writer? I don't know the answer, but I guess I need to see how many comments I get in that vein, or how much it bothers you going forward. I know that not everyone is going to be happy reading my stuff. Goodness knows there are authors whose style I don't enjoy. We shall see. Great comment, thank you.

P) There are some obvious typos and flags that I have left in for edit reasons. Apologies for that and thank you for taking the time to tag. I will fix them all. Going on to specific comments by page number:

8 - the prayer: I enjoyed writing it, but you highlight the point that it really doesn't need to be there, and that the idea of it would probably suffice. I suspect this is a personal preference. I'll see how the majority opinion goes;

9 - kowtow: Glad to have a second opinion on this. I take your point about it's origin marking it out. Obviously all language has a historical source, but I can see ow something that is clearly from a completely different source could throw someone out of the narrative. I guess others might read past this without a pause, depending on where that word sits in their reading experience. I'll be interested to see if there are ant other comments on this one word. Having said that, it's attracted enough attention already that I'm likely to drop it;

13 - Burn them: Yes, accepted. Also, it's rather a long promise. It's there to define the king's character. I trust it will stay with the reader;

14 - Flaming Slap Fight: Ha, ha. Yes, this will be dropped. It's only there because it was a Writing Excuses prompt. Actually, the scene it spawned will almost certainly but cut (down), as the whole burning sleeve / bill of lading thing gets a bit out of hand and, in the end, the scene doesn't work all that well to define Ahma's character, I think;

17 - Illegal: agree, need to rework that a bit;

Your comments on characterisation are very helpful, and I'm pleased that, in the main, the main characters are effective so far. I'm not surprised to hear you say that Ahma is the most 'troublesome'. That is the opinion of my writing group, for various reasons. I know she needs work and your perspective on how she comes across is valuable. As to POVs, yes, it's a risk I suppose. I'm sure I can do something to make it immediately clear that we've rejoined Ahma.

Introduction of characters: got it. I can see what you mean by that, and it's something I'm sure I can fix. Thanks. I'm glad you found Covelle's introduction effective, but I note your earlier comment about not getting long to get a handle on him. Given his nature, this might not be inappropriate.

I see you've taken away the same about Ahma as Molah did. No further comment. I'm also interested in the other promises that you've tagged. I will need to consider if I have adequately answered those and also if those answers are in the right places. I am especially interested in what you say about religion. It does have a role. I won't say any more at this point, although I would like to(!!), but will await your further reaction.

Great comments, really appreciate them and feel enthused about getting to the edit and challenging myself to incorporate them, and Molah's. I would be absolutely delighted to have more of your feedback. I'm undecided about how to submit. I was gearing up to put it on the Alpha Readers after speaking to Molah. That would be easier for me, I suppose. Do you guys have a preference?

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5 - paragraph and parentheses: I'll accept the paragraph comment, where would you break it though? The first brackets are me think of an alternative word - should not have left that in. I think the second is the same, but maybe they have another word for caster. Just edit notes - sorry for leaving in!

 
I think the last sentence should go on a separate paragraph, because the speaker changed. (Only a single speaker per paragraph - that's one of the rules you'll find in The Elements of Style :)) E.g.:
"
Benam’s captive snorted. “You think you are better than us?” The man had to raise his voice above the noise of the crowd. “We kill quickly, with sword or axe. This is barbaric. I'd spit in your face, but it would dishonour me. You’ve no more honour (stature) than a snivelling (caster).”
Benam said nothing.
"

Cheers,

Helge

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Ah, and regarding the next piece, I guess that depends on what type of feedback you're looking for. I'd not go into such detail if I were to read a longer piece, but rather comment on general things like plot, character development, how I felt etc. - and maybe comment on repeating issues on a higher level. E.g. If I saw that there are many sentences that just run on etc.

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Ah, and regarding the next piece, I guess that depends on what type of feedback you're looking for. I'd not go into such detail if I were to read a longer piece, but rather comment on general things like plot, character development, how I felt etc. - and maybe comment on repeating issues on a higher level. E.g. If I saw that there are many sentences that just run on etc.

 

Your feedback is really valuable, but it's not fair of me to drip-feed you 32 chapters and expect such detailed comments.

 

I will check out the Dropbox account and make sure it still works, then put the current WaS file in there. If others comment on this part submission I might keep that going too, if there's 'demand' for it.

 

Thanks again. It's a real boost to my motivation for getting over the line with the last handful of chapters to have such great comments on the start.

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1 - Awkward sentence structure: This is a really good point. It is a facet of my style, as you surmise, and not an error. While this is a first draft, the treatment of phrasing is something you'll probably encounter again. It is exactly as you identify, a kind of listing which, to me ear, is dramatic, but if it's not working for the audience then it's not working. I need to consider that;

2 - They refused to give in: agree. I have a tendency to churn out run-on sentences and not break things up enough. It was flagged by my writing group (in no uncertain terms!) in the course of this project, and is something I need to address in the edit;

3 - Stood proud: Yes, the order of things in this sentence does feel off. I'll call first edit syndrome and revise in the edit. This said, I agree that I'm prone to what you describe. You're much better than I am at identifying what's going on structure-wise. I'm not sure what to do about it to be honest. Is it something broken that will hamper my aspirations to get published, or is it my style, and a part of who I am as a writer? I don't know the answer, but I guess I need to see how many comments I get in that vein, or how much it bothers you going forward. I know that not everyone is going to be happy reading my stuff. Goodness knows there are authors whose style I don't enjoy. We shall see. Great comment, thank you.

 

I think that sometimes it does what you think it does. It's certainly something I hear often when I listen to professional storytellers tell a tale, and I think that verbally it's something that works well. My opinion is that it's less effective in text because it sometimes muddies the meanings and the added drama feels forced (which works in oral storytelling because you WANT that kind of drama), but I also realize that it's not technically a grammar error and can be defended as a style choice. Grammar I can complain about, but i don't feel it's my place to tell you your writing voice is wrong.

Will it hinder you? Absolutely, because any noticeable style will have its detractors. Can you find an editor and an audience who loves it? Same answer as first, I think, because any noticeable style will have its proponents as well (read a few paragraphs on Amazon of any Chuck Wendig novel in 3rd person present, like Aftermath or Zeroes, and then read some reviews to see what I mean. People either like it or hate it.). If you decide it's something you want to do less of in your writing, I'm absolutely willing to help point out the instances.

 

9 - kowtow: Glad to have a second opinion on this. I take your point about it's origin marking it out. Obviously all language has a historical source, but I can see ow something that is clearly from a completely different source could throw someone out of the narrative. I guess others might read past this without a pause, depending on where that word sits in their reading experience. I'll be interested to see if there are ant other comments on this one word. Having said that, it's attracted enough attention already that I'm likely to drop it;

 

This is very much the sort of thing that will drive you up the wall, and every reader will be different with regards to what language they accept or stop cold at.

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This is very much the sort of thing that will drive you up the wall, and every reader will be different with regards to what language they accept or stop cold at.

True, but the the fact that my reading group already pointed me in the direction of cutting seems to be reinforced by at least one person in each instance. Having mulled upon it, I think I'll leave it in and, maybe one day, an editor will read it and react (or not). :)

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I enjoyed the chapters quite a lot. 

 

I felt like you set up an epic story with intersecting characters set in a currently peaceful kingdom (though I am assuming it won't be peaceful for long).

 

I got a little bored when Benam was walking with the prisoners.

 

 

I liked how you put in the prayer to show their religious tendencies. I agree with Shrike that the actual prayer doesn't need to be there though, but I didn't find it intrusive.

 

I think boats, oceans, or something like that will play a meaningful part. Benam working at the docks, and the two scenes there, made sea-activities(or at least dock activities) seem important to me.

 

 

You did a good job getting me interested in Ahma, Covelle, Benam, and the magic of the world. The mystery of the magic is what drew my interest. 
 

The word caster makes me think there is some kind of magic in the world. At this point I would guess casting is either a dead practice, an inherent attribute of a race of people in the world, or something that most people just choose not to do. My best guess is that casting has something to do with Theracian bloodlines, because Ahma is half Theracian and it seems like she will be a caster later.

 

I think casting, the Teracian bloodline, and how the emperor gets his people to invade so often are all related. Which makes me want to read more to find out exactly how they are related, or to find out why I'm wrong.

 

The impressions I got of the characters was that Ahma is a strong woman who lives near the fringe of society, Covelle is a clever conman/smuggler, and Benam is an aging hero who can still fight when he needs to.

 

Ahma fighting only when she knows she can win made me like her.

 

Covelle's sneakiness made me like him.

 

The prologue showing when Benam became a hero, and how modest he was about it, made me like him. I also liked how he was upset with the executions enough to make him seem compassionate while not making him seem weak.

 

 

 

 

 


 

”Ahma put hands on generous hips. “Talking’s not casting. We can do this again, if you like."

 

 

I am sort of confused by the second sentence. I think it is referring to Ahma getting another lecture about watching what she says about casting, but I'm not sure.

 

”“Covelle sighed and signed the invoice with his wrong hand in 
today’s false name

 

I like the way you showed how much effort he puts into faking things.

 


Sorry the feedback is so late.

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Sorry for also being late to the party.

General

I thoroughly enjoyed this. In fact if I had more i would have easily kept reading. I also skimmed through the prayer. But other then that i look forward to seeing where this story goes (i already have a hypothesis about Covelle).  

 

Requested

-Promises to the reader?

At this point in time I would say that the Theracian will attack again or that there will be some sort of invasion.

Ahma struggling with her heritage. 

 

- Style, does it read well and make you want to keep reading?

For me it read fine and yes i wanted to keep reading.

 

- Pacing, are events interesting, what do you feel about the story going forward?

I don't know how to answer this. what's driving me forward right now is more character: What is Covelle up to? What is a caster? What happened to Benam?

 

- Characters on view, are they engaging?

I really enjoyed Benam parts. I like the retired warrior vibe. As for Covelle i was drawn in by his...rougishness?  Ahma didn't do anything special for me, i dont mind her at this point in time. Typically with multi-pov stories i tend to hate one character for stealing screen time from the others. Right now it is Ahma but the fact that she a caster (really curious what that is by the way) might change my opinion.

Also When Ahma runs away from the thugs felt out of character to me. in her first scene she knocks a guy out, then just before she runes she observes shes has dealt with worse before in the bar. 

 

Other

First time seeing the enemy commander- Given the distance from Lufmatho to Hasstel and Benam being the senior surviving officer of Lufmathos force i doubt this would be the first time he sees the him.

 

 

Rapiers- These sword to my knowledge are rubbish at cutting/slashing. Can they cut? Yes, but the wounds resulting from a cut i think are minor (unless you get the throat) as far as sword getting hit by a sword can be minor.  If you want to kill with a rapier i believe you would thrust which is what the sword was designed for.

 

Ghintor- It might just be me but initially i was unsure if he was the Harbourmaster or another person present with Covelle and the Harbourmaster.

 

Rumours- When  Covelle thinks about the rumours I had to go back and find what those rumours were.

 

Time gap inconsistency- On the start of chapter 1 you have thirty years but on page 18 you have twenty.

 

The last three paragraphs of page 25 have me utterly confused. i feel like there is a sentence or reference that i am missing

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Interesting to see the other responses here.  I didn't comment on this since I figured you wouldn't want the same thing from whenever it was I last commented on it.  I thought the guesses on Ahma were particularly interesting, reading as much as I have, and with the other feedback I've given.  ;-)

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Rohyu, please don't be concerned about 'late' feedback - I've been writing this for almost a year, so (from my perspective) a few days either way is really not a problem.

I really appreciate your feedback. The fact that these characters are working for you, at least in their early stages, is really reassuring. You've given me some excellent comments on promises that I've made. There is one in particular that I have really fluffed (or have I...?, lol).

You are right about the second sentence, but if it's not clear I should tweak it to make it so.

I really appreciate your comments - thank you. I'm now in two minds about submitting that fight scene I referred to in the posting thread.

Edited by Robinski
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Thank you Kammererite, your comments are very much appreciated. See above in my first paragraph to Molah. There's no such thing as late to this party!

 

You've very thoroughly answered my questions, which is excellent,and a definitely picking up on the things that I would have hoped you would. Ahma is, almost without doubt - and I think I've had about 10 critiques now (although this version of the opening is modified from the last one) - and she is universally the character who attracts the most comment. I can also say pretty confidently that she is everyone's least favourite. Your point about being unconvinced about her fleeing is well made. I think your right. She probably should stand up to the three boors. I expect I will rethink that. The scene itself is a new addition, and not tuned correctly yet.

 

In truth, at Chapter 29, I'm still not sure quite where Ahma is going, so I think she will be subject to revision (or excision?).

 

No to your other comments:

 

Enemy commander - fair point. I'll rethink that.

Rapier - good point, I think it's just a case of tuning his use of the weapon, it doesn't play a big part.

Ghintor - ah, okay, he is very much the harbourmaster, I shall review that.

Rumours - okey dokey, I'll add a reference to the second occurrence.

Time gap - hmm. I think it was just a general comment from Covelle, rather than one intended to be historically accurate. To drill into it further, the implication is that Benam was still at his peak 10 years after the Therac invasion, i.e. 20 years ago. Does that make sense, or would you be unlikely to see it that way?

3 paras, Page 25 - I see what you mean. Reading it again, that bit is rather loose, and there is certainly one word missing. I'll call first draft privileges and I'll fix in the edit.

 

Great comments, Karmmererite - thank you again.

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Interesting to see the other responses here.  I didn't comment on this since I figured you wouldn't want the same thing from whenever it was I last commented on it.  I thought the guesses on Ahma were particularly interesting, reading as much as I have, and with the other feedback I've given.  ;-)

 

Yes, weren't they just?  :-)

 

She is one of the top three issues that I will have in the edit, but I'm starting to see how she 'plays through' to the end. I also feel like I've taken my foot of the gas with Covelle during the course of proceedings.

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Rapier - good point, I think it's just a case of tuning his use of the weapon, it doesn't play a big part.

Fair enough. that was more of an FYI anyway. 

Time gap - hmm. I think it was just a general comment from Covelle, rather than one intended to be historically accurate. To drill into it further, the implication is that Benam was still at his peak 10 years after the Therac invasion, i.e. 20 years ago. Does that make sense, or would you be unlikely to see it that way?

That make sense.  I went back and look and I think I skipped the period after the Hero of Lufmatho when reading. but it doesn't hurt to check in case it was a typo. 

 

Edited by Kammererite
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That make sense.  I went back and look and I think I skipped the period after the Hero of Lufmatho when reading. but it doesn't hurt to check in case it was a typo.

 

Interestingly, having re-skimmed this week's submission, Benam also make a reference to 20 years ago. I don't want to create confusion or dilute the historical perspective. I'll see what other comments I get, but I'll pay attention to this in the edit. Thanks :-)

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In your last posts, when you said Molah, I think you meant rohyu, right? :)

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In your last posts, when you said Molah, I think you meant rohyu, right? :)

 

That's what I figured :P

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this is off topic but can some one upvote rohyu last post, i accentually hit the down vote button...blasted touch screen.

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this is off topic but can some one upvote rohyu last post, i accentually hit the down vote button...blasted touch screen.

Done

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In your last posts, when you said Molah, I think you meant rohyu, right? :)

So sorry!

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