Eagle of the Forest Path

2016-06-06 - EotFP - Jet Black Medium Ch.1

22 posts in this topic

Hello again,

 
Here's the actual first chapter of Jet Black Medium.
 
In the prologue we had a mysterious man hiring a priestess to summon a "paper golem" meant to harass a certain Burrus Clupean.
 
A note on names: I'm using Latin rules of pronunciation for character and place names.
Basically C=K and V=W. So: Laurea Celsior => law-ray-ah kell-see-or.
 
Special requests:
 
-Does the conversation flow naturally?
-Is there too much/too little description?
 
Please enjoy.
 
 
E.
 
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General

This feels like a different book from the prologue, and also reads more like a chapter two. The world is interesting, and I'm connecting with the MC, but I'm left with a sort of 'why' question. There is a lack of tension that would normally come from something going amiss in chapter one, which would lead to this intro to MC chapter two. Except the prologue (which I assume was meant to do this tension setting) doesn't readily fit in, and I can't manage to draw the parallels.

 

Something like a flashback for the MC to show why she wants to follow this career path (something tragic, preferably), or some incident to get us involved in the why could be very useful.

 

Your Questions

Convo: The flirting worked really well. The info-dumping did not. Suggestions in the LBL for how to help

 

Description: This is hard to answer. Normally I enjoy description, but this lacked tension so I ended up skimming and having to go back to reread because I was trying to find the tension hook that normally exists in chapter ones. So I'd say yes, too much description for basically a character introduction, but a fine amount if you actually put some action / tension / why-ness in.

 

As I go

- first two pages: Sentences. Many of your sentences are long, or comma spliced. Suggest shortening to make reading easier. 

- 4: convincing interplay between the not-licter and the MC. Flirty, in a sort of just-met-you-you-might-be-a-creeper way. I'm engaged.

- pages 5-6: the dialogue discussion of the magic system comes off info-dumpy. Personally (and this might just be personal preference, so take with a grain of salt), I like to see magic systems unfold over the first several chapters. It gives me time to process them, cement them in my brain. This dialogue happens fast and I'm afraid I will not engage as deeply with it as I would if it was a slower description, or done through showing.

- 6: the flirting was good, the info dump sort of ruined the flow. Suggest adding some coyness in so it feels more like they're doing a verbal dance of information exchange

- page 8: 'so it was not surprising, perhaps, that...' this reads like a change from Laurea POV to author POV.

- page 10: I love the voice of the first chapter on this page

- page 13: POV shift again in the second paragraph from MC to author and then to Janus. Whiplash.

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I have very similar comments to kaisa, as you can see below.  I didn't mark the two POV points she did as I could sort of justify that Laurea could know those things, but they did throw me out for a moment.

 

I thought the conversation was good, and enjoyed the flirting, even though Janus was a bit too pushy for my tastes.  As kaisa says, the info dumping wasn't disguised enough in that section.

 

The description was too much for me, and I like worldbuilding.  There were several pages of description in a row, and I think it could easily be paced out into the next few chapters and leave some more room here for character and story development.

 

 

Notes while reading:

 

pg 1: "In a world where all else was endless waves"

--interesting.  Literal or figuative?  Is the world mostly water or is this just because she's on the ocean?

 

pg 1: Shell town.  Cool image, but I'm not sure I completely understand.  "Clinging to the spire", which says to me they're up in the air, but "reaching out to sea" which says they are long horizontally, which doesn't seem like they would hold up.  You say they collapse into foundations, which tells me there's not just air (or water) underneath.

 

pg 3:  By this point, there's been a whole lot of description, and some of Laurea's thoughts, but not a whole lot of plot.

 

pg 3: The debate about lictor/pleb/Atramancer falls a little short for me as I don't know what any of these are yet.

 

pg 4/5/6: the infodump on Atramancy is a little too obvious, but does get the information across.

 

pg 8: “Good. Now, for what little ceremony we can do right away, stand up, please.”

--wasn't she already standing up, at attention?

 

pg 8: I sort of skimmed the "double-pinned" section.  Seemed more an esoteric history lesson than anything important to the plot.

 

 

This is definitely more interesting than the prologue.  It's a bit heavy on description and there were a couple sections where I was inclined to skim to get back to the story.  Especially on explaining the Dhe and the Fury Priest, I didn't feel the need for that description again, since we just lived it last chapter.

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Thanks guys, I'll keep this in mind for the second draft.

 

In reply to Mandamon's LBL (since Kaisa's don't really require clarification)

 

pg1: This is indeed an ocean world. There's a single continent but it's pretty inhospitable. The spire people send out foraging parties to chop down trees and get some other raw materials, but they can't stay past nightfall (or something, I haven't completely worked out the reason yet). There aren't any real islands either, just large rock formations that form the foundations for the spires.

 

Shell Towns were originally shacks built right up against the face of the spires when population growth meant the entire population couldn't fit in the spire proper anymore. They kept hanging more shacks onto other shacks so eventually pieces of the Shell Town started falling into the water; the rubble is below the water line but the plebs (and patrician slumlords) build new structures on top of that. Since it's not stable at all and the building material eventually rots away Shell Towns keep collapsing.

So at the time of the story the spires' outlines are sort of like a tall box with a sheet spread over it. You've got the actual spire in the middle, with shacks clinging onto it directly until about a third of the way up, and the farther you get from the spire, the lower the Shell Town. Eventually you get to sea level where the shacks are likely to be old boats with walls and a roof, nailed to the street to keep it from floating away.

I'll try to come up with a more accurate description.

 

pg 8 she was indeed standing already, editing screw-up, I'd removed a section where they sat down for a bit.

 

Thanks for the input.

 

PS starting tomorrow I'll be on a short vacation with doubtful internet connection, so no offence is meant when I don't immediately reply to any further feedback.

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The first sentence is a giant turn-off. Calling out that she normally never thinks of this is just painting long and loud that it's shoving info at you. Same with the paired compound words in the first sentence. The poet line too is very very telly. 'In a world where' is, again, not great POV unless there's other worlds they encounter. I feel like you'd have a more solid start if you cut the first paragraph entirely and did something about the first sentence of the second; it's extremely bulky.

 

Page two paragraph 1; past, not passed dawn.

 

Later in the paragraph you're already 'it was unlike her to' and this is the second time thus far, this is our introduction to the character, you don't want to be having her do things and go 'but actually this was not like her at all'. We should be seeing what she's like, not what she's not like.

 

I like paperwork, and I like bureaucracy.

 

You fall into the construction "(verbing aside), (main clause)" a fair bit. Nothing wrong with this construction in a vaccuum but it's coming up often enough that I'm noticing it.

 

Comma splice on Laurea's initial line to Janus; makes the phrase feel a lot more awkward than it actually is, I think.

 

'It was very recognizable' is kind of a cop-out. I feel like nothing would be hurt by the loss of that sentence.

 

'Laurea's raised eyebrow...' is a very very passive sort of description. You're tossing narration out the window once dialogue starts and your frequent drop of any sort of dialogue tags means there's a couple points on 3 where I'm just counting lines to determine who's talking. Not big on ending dialogues with '...' either unless they're actually trailing off midsentence.

 

As I go onto 4, I'm not buying the flirting so much? They're very rote lines.`

 

These comma splices are a big big problem for me. I'm definitely more sensitive to them than most but they absolutely will pull me up short and they're everywhere.

 

Yeah, when I hit page 6 and it's all just untagged unnarrated dialogue, I kind of checked out until the scene ended.

 

There's a couple points on 8 and 9 where the narration breakts to stress that something's Laurea's opinion; this is kind of unnecessary if we're using her POV because all of that should be a given. If we're using her head stuff being her opinion is the default state of things.

 

Page 11 on the sentence starting with 'Clupean was a' you dive headlong into a spliced run-on.

 

By and large you have me a lot more once they actually get to Laurea's workplace. I don't mind going on about the dhe so much here because it's relevant to the matter at hand but pretty much any time I hit a comma splice my train of thought gets lost. I like the Roman-esque deal, and I am a sucker for that sort of ritualized symbolic magic but the description thereof feels kind of shoehorned here.

 

I'm still feeling like you c/should be able to just relabel your prologue as 1 and this 2.

Edited by neongrey
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I was very interested to see how the story proper opened after your prologue. Here is my answer! So, on with the critique. Detailed comments below in my normal fashion. I have not picked out much on the grammar front because there is too much to contend with in the way of run-on sentences, punctuation and some wording, etc. That can all be corrected in the future, so I've tried to concentrate on story and character.

You throw around many terms at the beginning, like lictor, quaestor, etc. I don't know what any of these mean, but you assume that I do, so I'm still none the wiser. Also, the two fall into a very intense dialogue straight away, which felt odd to start with, but I'll run with it for now. Also, his repartee was rather cliched, I thought.

In summary, I thought the pacing clipped along and, if I blocked out the grammar issued I could read through smoothly. I think you've set up a decent conflict with her tutor, and a sort of conflict with her suitor. I don't yet have a character to root for, as they are none of them likeable as yet, to me anyway, but I'm happy enough to keep reading as I am being entertained thus far.

<R>

----------------------------------------

"but romance was a part of Laurea’s plans" - Did you mean was not in her plans? It sounds like that from the context.

"legal Academy" - this is my favourite hobby horse at the moment. You can't capitalise one of thee, it both or neither. If you are not referring to a single named one, it should be legal academy. If it was the Harvard Legal Academy then it's a single named example and should be caps.

"If he’d asked whether she would like a guide, Laurea might have accepted, but to acknowledge needing one was not in her nature" - I like this sort of attention to detail and she certainly has ably demonstrated how stubborn she is. To be honest, I find Laurea annoying and rather presumptuous so far, and I'm hoping that soon she encounters some situation to show her the value of humility.

"This dandy was the almost legendary quaestor she’d decided to model her ambitions on?" - Excellent, in almost the next line her confidence is shaken by this surprise. I like you've set up what seems to be a conflict of sorts here really early on.

Again, I don't really know what this term fibula refers to, I don't think it was clearly explained when first mentioned.

"in less than the time needed to cough thrice" - this is a weird and awkward phrase.

"Merciful Dhé, you’re a prideful one" - I agree, and it's not an endearing quality, but maybe that's what you're going for, of course.

"bringing in a person accused of harassment and yelling at them to find out whether there was any truth to the claim" - Really, this is their method? Or is this just what Laurea in her naïveté things quaestors do?

"She didn’t see his concern at seeing the pale shadow of the fiery young woman he had flirted with earlier" - I don't really get the impression that she is a pale imitation, only slightly deflated.

"She would get the salting credit for doing it" - what does 'salting' mean in this context? It sound like it's being used as a 'cuss' word.

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Special requests:

 

-Does the conversation flow naturally? - Not really. I found him annoyingly pushy and her annoyingly arrogant, and I don't believe real people talk that way, even though it does flow pretty smoothly, I just didn't think it was especially natural.

-Is there too much/too little description? - Yes, I thought it was heavy on the info dump in places. I can see the attempt to disguise it as a conversation.

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I thought the story read well I don't get hung up on grammatical perfection as long as it makes sense and doesn't make me reread the sentence.  The dialogue was pretty typical beginning of the story flat character dialogue as far as the proud know-it-all introduction.  Maybe instead of having her suitor explain the magic system have him take rose petals and turn it into a rose then back again and show instead of tell? I recently read plutarchs lives so I know what a lictor is but in the context of your story its hard to understand. 

 

I agree with the comments about lack of tension (the world being in danger etc).   I really feel like the prologue needs to drive home the main conflict to keep my curiosity satisfied.  Also the detective mystery aspect was not really there as the case seemed pretty boring and had no real keep reading factor.  The prologue showed the guy getting cursed but it was a "mild" curse... then our main character is on the trail and is not even curious/interested so why am I?  You are really underplaying all of your conflicts.

 

So overall the writing does not bother me at all and I enjoy reading the story but I have no idea what exactly I'm reading.  Would like to see some danger, conflict, dark secrets =)

 

Good luck and keep writing!

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I'd really like to see this pared down to meat and potatoes, then the world-building sprinkled in as you go. Reading it backwards is actually working better for me--hunting out where the story was going and skipping the background stuff that fill the first 2500 words or so...

 

 

**Changed my mind and did a line by line after all...

Edited by krystalynn03
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- The first line strikes me as a bit too long - you could probably cut it down to the city-spires rising out of the ocean were an impressive sight. Otherwise, it buries the lead.

 

- Atramancer, questor, lictor. There's a lot of terms being floated around, and it feels like only the first is loosely defined. You may want to consider pacing your world-building in this section.

 

- Why does Laurea ask Janus' name again, when he's already given her his first name?

 

- I like Laurea's interaction with Probitus the best so far.

 

- It's an interesting world and I want to see more of it. I do think some terms need to be more easily defined, but I do want to read more of this. 

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Very cool world building.

I think there are real world issues with rock spires exciting in a vast ocean not only in formation but in stability.

 

The engineering you described above for the shell city's doesn't seam reasonable to me. assuming the building material is denser then water it would sink to the bottom of the ocean and that should be a considerable depth that they cant use it for foundation (same with the ceramic rod foundation).  Also sub oceanic currents would wash away lots of the material. 

 

However as this is a fantasy i am able to look pass this and let it go with a hand wave.

 

World-ocean: This sound very Sci fi to me and tells me they have explore the entire world.

 

Titles:  I think you have to many titles to quick and with to little description. I have a fairly good memory but i had trouble keeping track of the different titles and which people they refer too.
 
-Does the conversation flow naturally?
As mentioned by other the magic system convo while informative, was very info dumpy and seamed forced. I the conversation with her prospective mentor and boss flowed well.
 
-Is there too much/too little description?

I think you over described the opening but once on the spire i think it was the right amount.

 

Overall:  I enjoyed it. Cool world concepts with what seems like an simple yet deep magic system. I like the mystery component although i wish there was a bigger hook. 

 

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Hey Eagle,

I was pretty tired when I decided not to be do LBL’s last night, but I’m refreshed now, and on top of that, the keyboard key has returned to normal function, making it much easier to do side-by-side critiques. Yay!

 

  • I agree that the opening line is still too long and doesn’t do anything to hook me in, not even visually. However, I do like the last line of the paragraph a lot, especially if it’s really going to be a defining characteristic for Lasila. Maybe you could consider reworking it slightly so that’s the first sentence…
  • “warren of bureaucracy” – This is a fabulous phrase. It says so much with so little.
  • “Probitus Senector was going to teach her everything” – Hm, again, I feel like the most important bit of information was given at the last sentence of the paragraph when it might have lead the paragraph and given it more direction sooner, perhaps.
  • Shell towns…like Hoovervilles. I like it. Adds some real depth to the world without going on and on and on.
  • “The first sight Laurea had of…” – I don’t like this line. It took me backwards when I really want to go forwards and it doesn’t seem to be adding anything to the narrative since you started the whole thing with a description. You could keep the content, perhaps, but maybe draw it in in some other more novel way.
  • “bouncing down the gangplank” – Is she an upbeat, perky person> That’s what this suggests. Also my question mark key isn’t work now…so I’ll > in place of it. (sigh)
  • Unique language is unique language. There’s not enough context to really help me as a reader to do anything other than think, “Oh, look. Fantasy language.”
  • “just so radiant” – This makes me cringe inside. This kind of language is one reason I don’t read romance, but even for romance context, it’s probably over-used. I’d like to see you be a little more creative in painting attractiveness.
  • Lictor, lictor, lictor – Considering the conversation is hinging a lot on this, I’m really feeling the deficit of specific explanation of what a lictor is more and more as it goes on.
  • “beautiful young woman” – Gosh this is forward for strangers. I hope he’s trying to pick her up or it’s just weird or he’s a little chauvinistic…
  • “scared off any number of unwanted suitors” – This feels contrived to me. I hope there’s a twist of some sort involving Janus because I really need some right now to keep this from feeling cliché.
  • Symbols,etc. This still feels maid & butler to me.
  • “a woman as skillfull and intelligent” – Yikes.
  • “mute gesture” – gesture is enough
  • “pause as Remissus” – Wasn’t this third limited in Laurea’s head>
  • Same complaint when the Praefact “noted her haste”
  • Dandy – this word felt really out of place amongst all the latin derivatives… AFAIK, dandies are a very 17th century thing… (etymology dictionary agrees). Granted your fantasy world can have whatever stylings you want, but having recognized the cultural background behind the word, it shoved me out of the narration and drew attention to the fourth wall for me.
  • “first in her class” – I’m getting an unfortunate Zootopia vibe here.
  • “fibula” – Again, I wish the narrator had clued me in to what a thing was before it was important.
  • “you’re a prideful one” – Gosh, that’s called displacing, Probitus. If you want me to see the arrogance of this character quickly, it’s working. I’m rather he turns into a Rex Harrison sort—proud and abrupt at first, but likeable afterwards, rather than being flat. I guess we’ll see!
  • “Fury Priest” – You already gave us this info in the prologue. Why repeat it here Isn’t that what you were setting it up for>
  • “She didn’t see his concern” – 3rd person limited slip
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So I'm back from the worst _ holiday _ ever.

 

During the three days I spent at the Belgian seaboard, my car got burgled the first night (not stolen, though they did take my GPS) and then torched the second. And when I say torched, I mean literal burned-to-a-crisp, arson-for-the-fun-of-it, total-loss-I-need-to-buy-a-new-car torched.

 

Right now I'll just thank you all for the feedback, it really is much appreciated, but I think you'll understand that I'm not in the right headspace at the moment to address any individual comments.

 

I'll work through them at my own pace, though from a first quick look it seems like I might be better off starting over from page one.

If there's a flaw in the story's outline, sometimes there's no other choice. And if nothing else, at least I can salvage some of the worldbuilding.

 

Thanks again,

 

 

E.

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That's outrageous, so sorry to hear that. I can only hope that bad karma will follow the perpetrators for the rest of their lives.

Thanks for acknowledging the comments when it must be the furthest thing from your mind at the moment, and don't be too harsh on your story. I don't think you need to start over personally. Everyone needs to edit, it doesn't mean issues are fatal.

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During the three days I spent at the Belgian seaboard, my car got burgled the first night (not stolen, though they did take my GPS) and then torched the second. And when I say torched, I mean literal burned-to-a-crisp, arson-for-the-fun-of-it, total-loss-I-need-to-buy-a-new-car torched.

 

 

Sorry about that, I was searching for Chapter 3 of Jet Black Medium in your car and stole your gps to find out where you have been maybe you left it there... came back the next night and decided you probably had writers block and needed some inspiration so I lit a fire under your butt!  

 

Just kidding really sorry to hear that, but seriously look forward to next submission keep at it!

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I was going to joke that I did it myself because I wanted first-hand experience of police procedure for JBM, but decided against it since there won't be arson in the book anyway, so the joke wouldn't make sense.

 

found this in the paper, mine's the one on the left, if there was any doubt

media_xll_8738677.jpg

 

Next time I have to do a job interview and they ask me what I think my 'best quality' is, I'm answering that I can laugh at my misfortunes.

Edited by EagleOfTheForestPath
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So I'm back from the worst _ holiday _ ever.

 

During the three days I spent at the Belgian seaboard, my car got burgled the first night (not stolen, though they did take my GPS) and then torched the second. And when I say torched, I mean literal burned-to-a-crisp, arson-for-the-fun-of-it, total-loss-I-need-to-buy-a-new-car torched.

 

Right now I'll just thank you all for the feedback, it really is much appreciated, but I think you'll understand that I'm not in the right headspace at the moment to address any individual comments.

 

I'll work through them at my own pace, though from a first quick look it seems like I might be better off starting over from page one.

If there's a flaw in the story's outline, sometimes there's no other choice. And if nothing else, at least I can salvage some of the worldbuilding.

 

Thanks again,

 

 

E.

 

Please take your time and don't pressure yourself. Sounds like you need to recover before making any big decisions. I don't know that I'd agree you need to just 'scrap' this. How far ahead of this part have you written? If you're not far along into a first draft, I'd say (imho) just keep plodding along with the story. Get the whole thing on paper first and then you can go back and re-invent each chapter into a stronger version of itself once you've finished telling the whole story. I don't know your method or anything about your writing style (as far as completion, timing, cycles, routines, etc) go, but I'd hate to see you go back to the beginning because of beta level critiques when you were really writing an alpha level draft... However, if you do have a completed manuscript, then I'd say dive in and start heavily revising this to a form that makes you happier.

 

Just some thoughts. I want to read what comes next and see where you take us!

Edited by krystalynn03
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Thanks for the suggestion Krystalynn.

 

I've got another chapter ready to submit - which I fully intend to do - and one I'm still writing. Re-inventing the chapters once I've got the complete story down is an option, of course, but I think not a very good one in this case. There's some issues in the story's structure, such as the lack of tension mentioned above, that would probably be best remedied by reorganising my timeline. If I continue on my current course there are still two chapters that have relatively little to do with the main conflict*, which is the entire first quarter of the book (I'd planned fourteen chapters, including the prologue and a short post-climax 'wrap-up' at the end). 

 

The method I'm using is the snowflake method. Meaning I'd have quite a bit of material left for reconstruction even if the all text I've actually submitted so far goes into the trash (which I'm hoping to avoid).

 

Now it's on to earlier feedback replies in the next post...

 

 

*they are more relevant to Laurea's character growth, but as a reader that's probably less interesting unless it's mixed in with the conflict.

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I'd never heard of the snowflake technique. Have you used it before to complete a novel? Maybe you could chronicle some of your experiences with it in the lounge? It sounds like an interesting topic.

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neongray

The first sentence is a giant turn-off. Calling out that she normally never thinks of this is just painting long and loud that it's shoving info at you. Same with the paired compound words in the first sentence. The poet line too is very very telly. 'In a world where' is, again, not great POV unless there's other worlds they encounter. I feel like you'd have a more solid start if you cut the first paragraph entirely and did something about the first sentence of the second; it's extremely bulky.

Well, she normally never thinks about it because she's usually inside the spires, meaning she rarely sees them from a distance. I thought it was justified, but I see your point.

 

Page two paragraph 1; past, not passed dawn.

 

Later in the paragraph you're already 'it was unlike her to' and this is the second time thus far, this is our introduction to the character, you don't want to be having her do things and go 'but actually this was not like her at all'. We should be seeing what she's like, not what she's not like.

 

I like paperwork, and I like bureaucracy.

 

You fall into the construction "(verbing aside), (main clause)" a fair bit. Nothing wrong with this construction in a vaccuum but it's coming up often enough that I'm noticing it.

I'll try to watch that.

 

Comma splice on Laurea's initial line to Janus; makes the phrase feel a lot more awkward than it actually is, I think.

 

'It was very recognizable' is kind of a cop-out. I feel like nothing would be hurt by the loss of that sentence.

 

'Laurea's raised eyebrow...' is a very very passive sort of description. You're tossing narration out the window once dialogue starts and your frequent drop of any sort of dialogue tags means there's a couple points on 3 where I'm just counting lines to determine who's talking. Not big on ending dialogues with '...' either unless they're actually trailing off midsentence.

 

As I go onto 4, I'm not buying the flirting so much? They're very rote lines.`

Haven't had too much personal experience with flirting lately, so...  :P 

 

These comma splices are a big big problem for me. I'm definitely more sensitive to them than most but they absolutely will pull me up short and they're everywhere.

 

Yeah, when I hit page 6 and it's all just untagged unnarrated dialogue, I kind of checked out until the scene ended.

Good point, I'll watch out for that

 

There's a couple points on 8 and 9 where the narration breakts to stress that something's Laurea's opinion; this is kind of unnecessary if we're using her POV because all of that should be a given. If we're using her head stuff being her opinion is the default state of things.

 

Page 11 on the sentence starting with 'Clupean was a' you dive headlong into a spliced run-on.

 

By and large you have me a lot more once they actually get to Laurea's workplace. I don't mind going on about the dhe so much here because it's relevant to the matter at hand but pretty much any time I hit a comma splice my train of thought gets lost. I like the Roman-esque deal, and I am a sucker for that sort of ritualized symbolic magic but the description thereof feels kind of shoehorned here.

Ok, glad you like the magic, will try to make the description feel more natural somehow

 

I'm still feeling like you c/should be able to just relabel your prologue as 1 and this 2.

 

Robinski

I was very interested to see how the story proper opened after your prologue. Here is my answer! So, on with the critique. Detailed comments below in my normal fashion. I have not picked out much on the grammar front because there is too much to contend with in the way of run-on sentences, punctuation and some wording, etc. That can all be corrected in the future, so I've tried to concentrate on story and character.

That bad? Apart from the run-ons, I always thought my grammar was pretty decent. :unsure: 

You throw around many terms at the beginning, like lictor, quaestor, etc. I don't know what any of these mean, but you assume that I do, so I'm still none the wiser. Also, the two fall into a very intense dialogue straight away, which felt odd to start with, but I'll run with it for now. Also, his repartee was rather cliched, I thought.

lictors are my version of police officers (or constables where you're from), quaestors are detectives. I'll make that clear in the next draft. The clichés might be harder to avoid, I'm afraid.

In summary, I thought the pacing clipped along and, if I blocked out the grammar issued I could read through smoothly. I think you've set up a decent conflict with her tutor, and a sort of conflict with her suitor. I don't yet have a character to root for, as they are none of them likeable as yet, to me anyway, but I'm happy enough to keep reading as I am being entertained thus far.

<R>

----------------------------------------

"but romance was a part of Laurea’s plans" - Did you mean was not in her plans? It sounds like that from the context.

It was supposed to mean she intends to marry for profit someday, basically everything Laurea does is so the Celsior family (which is just her and her sister fttb)  returns to being a major player.

"legal Academy" - this is my favourite hobby horse at the moment. You can't capitalise one of thee, it both or neither. If you are not referring to a single named one, it should be legal academy. If it was the Harvard Legal Academy then it's a single named example and should be caps.

It's... um... between the two? Thalas has 5 A(a)cademies, each one has a specific field that only they can teach (Law, Medicine, Engineering, Atramancy and Dhéonomy) and fields that get taught everywhere (like history and accounting). So if they say 'legal academy' (capitalisation pending) there's only one it could be. I wasn't really aware of the double-or-nothing capitals until your explanation, but in this case I still can't decide which it should logically be.

"If he’d asked whether she would like a guide, Laurea might have accepted, but to acknowledge needing one was not in her nature" - I like this sort of attention to detail and she certainly has ably demonstrated how stubborn she is. To be honest, I find Laurea annoying and rather presumptuous so far, and I'm hoping that soon she encounters some situation to show her the value of humility.

I was actually going for 'arrogant', but I'll gladly accept 'presumptuous'. She will be getting some knocks to her ego, don't worry.

"This dandy was the almost legendary quaestor she’d decided to model her ambitions on?" - Excellent, in almost the next line her confidence is shaken by this surprise. I like you've set up what seems to be a conflict of sorts here really early on.

Again, I don't really know what this term fibula refers to, I don't think it was clearly explained when first mentioned.

It's the pin that holds a toga closed. Think a brooch, but functional. I will add an explanation.

"in less than the time needed to cough thrice" - this is a weird and awkward phrase.

"Merciful Dhé, you’re a prideful one" - I agree, and it's not an endearing quality, but maybe that's what you're going for, of course.

"bringing in a person accused of harassment and yelling at them to find out whether there was any truth to the claim" - Really, this is their method? Or is this just what Laurea in her naïveté things quaestors do?

I thought about using 'sweating them in the box', but that was too cliché even for me.  :P 

"She didn’t see his concern at seeing the pale shadow of the fiery young woman he had flirted with earlier" - I don't really get the impression that she is a pale imitation, only slightly deflated.

I might have been exaggerating here.

"She would get the salting credit for doing it" - what does 'salting' mean in this context? It sound like it's being used as a 'cuss' word.

Yup, other swear-words include scupperhole and (piece of) chum (as in fish guts). I'm going for a nautical theme;

 

FormlessFox

I thought the story read well I don't get hung up on grammatical perfection as long as it makes sense and doesn't make me reread the sentence.  The dialogue was pretty typical beginning of the story flat character dialogue as far as the proud know-it-all introduction.  Maybe instead of having her suitor explain the magic system have him take rose petals and turn it into a rose then back again and show instead of tell? I recently read plutarchs lives so I know what a lictor is but in the context of your story its hard to understand. 

 

I agree with the comments about lack of tension (the world being in danger etc).   I really feel like the prologue needs to drive home the main conflict to keep my curiosity satisfied.  Also the detective mystery aspect was not really there as the case seemed pretty boring and had no real keep reading factor.  The prologue showed the guy getting cursed but it was a "mild" curse... then our main character is on the trail and is not even curious/interested so why am I?  You are really underplaying all of your conflicts.

 

So overall the writing does not bother me at all and I enjoy reading the story but I have no idea what exactly I'm reading.  Would like to see some danger, conflict, dark secrets =)

I'll be reorganising the story to remedy most of that.

 

Good luck and keep writing!

Thanks, I will.

 

 

rdpulfer

- The first line strikes me as a bit too long - you could probably cut it down to the city-spires rising out of the ocean were an impressive sight. Otherwise, it buries the lead.

 

- Atramancer, questor, lictor. There's a lot of terms being floated around, and it feels like only the first is loosely defined. You may want to consider pacing your world-building in this section.

OK

 

- Why does Laurea ask Janus' name again, when he's already given her his first name?

Because he called her "miss Celsior" and she wanted to respond in kind.

As a side note, patricians have names that end in '-or', while plebs have names ending in '-an', so knowing a person's family name can tell you something about them.

 

- I like Laurea's interaction with Probitus the best so far.

Thanks

 

- It's an interesting world and I want to see more of it. I do think some terms need to be more easily defined, but I do want to read more of this. 

Thanks

 

 

Kammererite

Very cool world building.

I think there are real world issues with rock spires exciting in a vast ocean not only in formation but in stability.

 

The engineering you described above for the shell city's doesn't seam reasonable to me. assuming the building material is denser then water it would sink to the bottom of the ocean and that should be a considerable depth that they cant use it for foundation (same with the ceramic rod foundation).  Also sub oceanic currents would wash away lots of the material.

Ocean is used more in reference to surface area than depth here. The building material is a lot like wood (though it comes from huge, armoured fish instead of trees).

I'd like to get the science-y stuff at least in the same ballpark as 'real', I'm trying to find an engineer I could hash it out with... if you know anyone?

 

However as this is a fantasy i am able to look pass this and let it go with a hand wave.

 

World-ocean: This sound very Sci fi to me and tells me they have explore the entire world.

RAFO but there's something to that, wink-wink

 

Titles:  I think you have to many titles to quick and with to little description. I have a fairly good memory but i had trouble keeping track of the different titles and which people they refer too.
working on it
 
-Does the conversation flow naturally?
As mentioned by other the magic system convo while informative, was very info dumpy and seamed forced. I the conversation with her prospective mentor and boss flowed well.
 
-Is there too much/too little description?

I think you over described the opening but once on the spire i think it was the right amount.

 

Overall:  I enjoyed it. Cool world concepts with what seems like an simple yet deep magic system. I like the mystery component although i wish there was a bigger hook. 

Thanks, sorry about the lack of hook. (There are crocodiles on Thalas, a Hook should be possible)

 

 

krystalynn03

 

Hey Eagle,

I was pretty tired when I decided not to be do LBL’s last night, but I’m refreshed now, and on top of that, the keyboard key has returned to normal function, making it much easier to do side-by-side critiques. Yay!

 

  • I agree that the opening line is still too long and doesn’t do anything to hook me in, not even visually. However, I do like the last line of the paragraph a lot, especially if it’s really going to be a defining characteristic for Lasila. Maybe you could consider reworking it slightly so that’s the first sentence…
    You mean the "rise to fame" one? I'll keep that in mind for the rewrite.
  • “warren of bureaucracy” – This is a fabulous phrase. It says so much with so little.
    yay :D
  • “Probitus Senector was going to teach her everything” – Hm, again, I feel like the most important bit of information was given at the last sentence of the paragraph when it might have lead the paragraph and given it more direction sooner, perhaps.
  • Shell towns…like Hoovervilles. I like it. Adds some real depth to the world without going on and on and on.
    yay again :D
  • “The first sight Laurea had of…” – I don’t like this line. It took me backwards when I really want to go forwards and it doesn’t seem to be adding anything to the narrative since you started the whole thing with a description. You could keep the content, perhaps, but maybe draw it in in some other more novel way.
    I was trying to indicate the passage of time, there were several hours between A and B, a bit clumsy, I guess.
  • “bouncing down the gangplank” – Is she an upbeat, perky person> That’s what this suggests. Also my question mark key isn’t work now…so I’ll > in place of it. (sigh)
    not really perky or upbeat, but she is excited about starting her career
  • Unique language is unique language. There’s not enough context to really help me as a reader to do anything other than think, “Oh, look. Fantasy language.”
  • “just so radiant” – This makes me cringe inside. This kind of language is one reason I don’t read romance, but even for romance context, it’s probably over-used. I’d like to see you be a little more creative in painting attractiveness.
    I'll be doing some writing prompts to get better at this sort of thing
  • Lictor, lictor, lictor – Considering the conversation is hinging a lot on this, I’m really feeling the deficit of specific explanation of what a lictor is more and more as it goes on.
  • “beautiful young woman” – Gosh this is forward for strangers. I hope he’s trying to pick her up or it’s just weird or he’s a little chauvinistic…
    Janus is a 'playa', I didn't write him with this in mind, but he's sort of like Adolin in that respect
  • “scared off any number of unwanted suitors” – This feels contrived to me. I hope there’s a twist of some sort involving Janus because I really need some right now to keep this from feeling cliché.
    well, perhaps, but telling how would be getting ahead of the story
  • Symbols,etc. This still feels maid & butler to me.
    maid and butler? 
  • “a woman as skillfull and intelligent” – Yikes.
  • “mute gesture” – gesture is enough
  • “pause as Remissus” – Wasn’t this third limited in Laurea’s head>
  • Same complaint when the Praefact “noted her haste”
  • Dandy – this word felt really out of place amongst all the latin derivatives… AFAIK, dandies are a very 17th century thing… (etymology dictionary agrees). Granted your fantasy world can have whatever stylings you want, but having recognized the cultural background behind the word, it shoved me out of the narration and drew attention to the fourth wall for me.
    .. well, there's 'fop' but I don't know if that's any better than 'dandy'.
    I'd love to have a more Latin synonym, but the closest I could come up with was 'peacock', which they don't have on Thalas. I'm open for suggestions if you have any. 
  • “first in her class” – I’m getting an unfortunate Zootopia vibe here.
    haven't seen it yet
  • “fibula” – Again, I wish the narrator had clued me in to what a thing was before it was important.
    It's a fancy safety pin, basically
  • “you’re a prideful one” – Gosh, that’s called displacing, Probitus. If you want me to see the arrogance of this character quickly, it’s working. I’m rather he turns into a Rex Harrison sort—proud and abrupt at first, but likeable afterwards, rather than being flat. I guess we’ll see!
    I guess we will. By the way, are you talking about My Fair Lady, or did he get typecast in that kind of role?
  • “Fury Priest” – You already gave us this info in the prologue. Why repeat it here Isn’t that what you were setting it up for>
  • “She didn’t see his concern” – 3rd person limited slip

 

 

 

Phew, that took a while!

 

Thanks again to everyone who gave feedback, this will be a big help moving forward.

 

 

E.

 

edit:

 


I'd never heard of the snowflake technique. Have you used it before to complete a novel? Maybe you could chronicle some of your experiences with it in the lounge? It sounds like an interesting topic.

 

 

I've tried it once before JBM, but I got hasty, skipped a few steps and ended up writing myself into a corner I couldn't get out of.

Edited by EagleOfTheForestPath
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Sorry for the delay - you asked a question.

I was very interested to see how the story proper opened after your prologue. Here is my answer! So, on with the critique. Detailed comments below in my normal fashion. I have not picked out much on the grammar front because there is too much to contend with in the way of run-on sentences, punctuation and some wording, etc. That can all be corrected in the future, so I've tried to concentrate on story and character.

That bad? Apart from the run-ons, I always thought my grammar was pretty decent. :unsure:  - I forget now what prompted my comment, let me check back.....

Err, you know, I really don't know what prompted that. I've read back through the first couple of pages and all I can think of is that I was thinking about someone else!!! (no names). I am terribly sorry, complete retraction, I think your grammar is just fine!

***

The clichés might be harder to avoid, I'm afraid. - I'm not against cliches, I think they can be delivered in non-cliched ways :)

***

"but romance was a part of Laurea’s plans" - Did you mean was not in her plans? It sounds like that from the context.

It was supposed to mean she intends to marry for profit someday, basically everything Laurea does is so the Celsior family (which is just her and her sister fttb)  returns to being a major player. - In that case, I think 'romance is not part of her plans', because marrying for influence is not romantic. My problem was that the 'but' sounded weird because the two parts of the phrase were not opposing.

***

"legal Academy" - this is my favourite hobby horse at the moment. You can't capitalise one of thee, it both or neither. If you are not referring to a single named one, it should be legal academy. If it was the Harvard Legal Academy then it's a single named example and should be caps.

It's... um... between the two? Thalas has 5 A(a)cademies, each one has a specific field that only they can teach (Law, Medicine, Engineering, Atramancy and Dhéonomy) and fields that get taught everywhere (like history and accounting). So if they say 'legal academy' (capitalisation pending) there's only one it could be. I wasn't really aware of the double-or-nothing capitals until your explanation, but in this case I still can't decide which it should logically be. - I think it looks weird, but aside from that, you are referring to one particular academy and it's name is the Legal Academy. If there were five legal academies in the city, then it could be any of them, unless you name it. This is why it looked weird to me :)

***

"She would get the salting credit for doing it" - what does 'salting' mean in this context? It sound like it's being used as a 'cuss' word.

Yup, other swear-words include scupperhole and (piece of) chum (as in fish guts). I'm going for a nautical theme - I didn't quite get it as a swear. I'm not sure it sounds all that sweary, it could even have been some sort of academic credit.

 

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p. 1 The first sentence is very wordy. I had to reread. A suggestion to cut it down? You can probably come up with something better...

Laurea normally never thought about it, but when seeing one from a distance it was undeniable that the distant city-spires rising out of the world-ocean of Thalas were an impressive sight.

p. 1 you immediately state the character's goal - that's excellent

p. 1 more specifically, she's after a specific mentor - some stakes. good. good.

p. 2 "Or much cared." - this bit of phrase completely through me out of the scene - if she doesn't care, it means that the whole description is outside of POV and a big info dump - more interesting would be for her to not like it for some specific reason.

p. 2 This sentence is a hot mess with some parallel structure issues. I had to reread.

The first sight Laurea had had of Celsitudum had been just passed dawn, right after a light breakfast, the slanting sunlight turning the stones a shining gold.

You might change to: Laurea woke before dawn, ate a light breakfast, and walked outside to a view of the the Celsitudum, the slanting sunlight turning the stones a shining gold.

p. 2 This next sentence is also wordy:

Now it was mid-morning and Suscepta pulled into the dock, sliding along a pier and lightly bumping against the bulky bags of dried seaweed that kept ships from damaging themselves as well as the pier before coming to a complete stop.

p. 2 The paragraph that begins with "The captain went aspire and announced to the dockmaster that his ship was the Suscepta" was slow and started to lose my attention - I'm not sure you need all of this detail.

p. 2 "Altogether it had only taken ten minutes, but Laurea considered that time as an inexcusable loss." I said before that I liked the clear goal but now I feel this is overstating it and not trusting the reader.

p. 3-4 I felt similarly to Robinski. Their conversation doesn't draw me, especially this line: "She simply stared at him in befuddled amusement." ... which is telling not showing, but then you follow up with "She’d scared off any number of unwanted suitors with her cold attitude, this was the first time it didn’t seem to be having any effect." And befuddled amusement isn't a cold attitude at all. It's more like the cocky girl leading the guy on. If she snaps at him or silences him with a glare - that would be more along the lines of what I think you're going for.

p. 4-6 I don't care about Atramancy because I have no reason to. I want her to get to the spire! Better to include this information later in the story when its directly relevant and the reader is eager for the info.

p. 7 "exceptionally beautiful women" is a lazy description - what about her is beautiful?

p. 7 “Greetings, Praefect!” This read as shrill and overexcited - not formal. I had to reread your subsequent description and I think you meant for it to be somewhat military? Etiher way, lose the exclamation point. 

p. 9 "The desk’s occupant was an elderly man dressed in a toga. Even glossing over the impracticality to the traditional genteel clothing, impeccably styled silver hair and the multiple - in Laurea’s opinion rather tacky - rings that were currently in fashion on his fingers gave the man an air of foppishness." Can you break up this description? Nothing is bad but it's too long and wordy. I had to reread.

p. 9 I'm intrigued by the fact that this dandy is Probitus and that he's not at all what she expected.

p. 12 I like that the case Probitus assigns her ties back to the prologue.

Good chapter overall. I am very intrigued by Laurea's ambition and this unsolvable mystery she's been assigned and therefore eager to know what happens next. My main complaint would be the chatter between her and Janus - as a reader (and not an editor) I would have set the book down or skimmed right past. I don't think you need to cut the whole scene, just trim quite a bit.

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