Hobbit

9/26/16_Hobbit_Of the Mountain Stream, Chapter 1 resubmit [L, off page V]

14 posts in this topic

Hello everyone,

I think this version is a lot better than the last one I submitted (I hope you agree)!  Last time, people commented that the sensitive material wasn't handled very sensitively, that the characters were hard to get a feel for, and that the situation itself just wasn't that interesting.  I've tried to correct for these things by jumping back in time a few weeks and starting at a slightly different place in the story where the characters get a chance to show themselves off more, the action is more exciting (hopefully), and the upsetting events more immediate so the character reactions can be more on par with the reader.
 
All comments are helpful, as usual.  I'm particularly interested in if I succeeded in my above goals.  I'd also appreciate suggestions on what I can do with the first section of the chapter to be more tonally consistent with the part that comes after - my husband said the first part was too "Thomas Kinkade" and it made what happens next feel jarring.  If it's jarring in a good way, then great, but I of course don't want it to be jarring in a bad way.
 
Thanks for reading!
Edited by Hobbit
Formatting
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

p.1

“Won’t be a year before you get to go that way,” - It came a bit abruptly, I'd say. The two definitely both know about Telethas' crossing, why mention it out of nowhere? It would be less out of place if it was Telethas who looked down the road, Aurem noticed it and then made the comment.

p.2

I like the mention of the stone - that feels natural to me.

I think you could afford a longer description of the village. Being a writer who doesn't like describing myself, I now see that at least a few sentences are necessary ^.^'

p.3/4

I like the banter, especially the part on the page 4 :)

p.5

Hmm, if Telethas is really all these things that Aurem said, I'm surprised he still feels insecure. I would expect him to at least put on a mask of confidence after his friend's rant.

p.6

"[...]Telethas had not come to invite him to dinner" - typo.

p.7-9

All right, so the sensitive material is handled better, I believe (let's wait for kaisa, though ;) ), but I'm not entirely convinced. First of all, the dialogue is off at times - for instance, if Telethas is so shaken by what happened, why does he joke with Aurem lines above? It just doesn't seem consistent. Also, had I not read the previous version, I would have no idea who Selnest and his wife are, and I totally wouldn't care. I think you could mention them above, when Aurem and Telethas arrive at the village (perhaps Helia was passing by at the time, and it prompted Aurem to think how he doesn't like Selnest? Or any other way you come up with.) - then the revelation of beating would have more impact. Not much more, mind you, but right now it feels as if you made Selnest and Helia only for the plot's sake and they weren't even there before.

Also, still prison, I see :) I don't want to be too pushy, feel free to ignore me on that - but have you thought about mines? Working in mines (or somewhere else, I dunno) at least makes the prisoners pay for their accommodation - and then pay some more.

p.10

" who stood with his arms folded " - typo.

" farthest corner from the bar. " - here as well.

p.11

Please, tell me Kaltus won't be approved of. Please.

p.12

" Besides, that was almost a year ago. " - OK, so since we're at the sensitive material... A year doesn't seem long enough to forget about a possible murder of a baby. I would cut that line out.

I like how you mention that Aurem's mom is good at records. It shows that women aren't only for having babies, but at the same time that they don't have to run around with a sword like men to be 'true' (I've seen that trope in a book some time ago, and it irked me a lot).

p.13-16
I think you put "." instead of "!" in some places, like in this sentence: "But he needs to know now.  They’re making their decision now.  They need all the information.  Selnest is a murderer, Telethas!"

Overall

So it's... it's better, but quite there, I'm afraid. Dialogue is very stiff at times, and I didn't get a feel for characters other than Kaltus, possibly also Telethas; I think there's too many of them in one go, too many names and too little description at the same time. The sensitive material was handled better, meaning more sensitively - but the way it was presented was actually less engaging. As mush as insensitive the previous version was, it read better to me. The mention of murderers and sorcerers in the same line had less impact than the "cardinal offence", and there's very little to keep me reading now :( 

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Ernei said:

have you thought about mines?

Ooo, I do like mines.  Hmmm, I think this could work well, actually.  I'm not particularly attached to prison, I just forgot to come up with something better.  Mines are way better!

@Ernei, it seemed like the setup of the old Chapter 1 worked better for you in a lot of ways.  So, question for you - would you be interested in reading a beefed up version of the old Chapter 1?  I actually revamped it before deciding to try starting somewhere totally different, and I'd be curious about your reaction to it.  I can send you a private email if you're interested.  If not, no worries - depending on the rest of the comments, I could always submit it next week. (Though I promise not to flood the forums with endless Chapter 1's!)

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Overall

Definitely better than the first time around! The issues are different now, mostly detailed below. I found the first half or so very slow--seemingly character building without direction. The second part was better, but I don't have a feel enough yet for the young men to get swept up in their youthful righteousness. I need more about the world I think, and less banter at the beginning.

Nice work on improving!

As I go

- page one: forestry nerd alert! Your leaves have fungus! 

- page one: first sentence, even first two paragraphs have no hook. If this is chapter one, I need something to get me invested

- page two: this 'marry a wife' thing. This implies that females do not have coming of age ceremonies. I've become wary. 

- page four: too many names. Blur.

- page five: the banter and worry has gone on for too long. It's very hard to keep from skimming

- page eight: Their reaction to the beating seems a little... out of place. If women are wives without COA rites, then wife-beating is a plausible trait for this community

- page fourteen: I have mixed feelings about this scene. It has decent tension, but the interest of the young men in the beating/killing seems, well, maybe I just don't know enough about them to see why they are so invested and why we as readers should be so invested.

 

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, Hobbit said:

Ooo, I do like mines.  Hmmm, I think this could work well, actually.  I'm not particularly attached to prison, I just forgot to come up with something better.  Mines are way better!

@Ernei, it seemed like the setup of the old Chapter 1 worked better for you in a lot of ways.  So, question for you - would you be interested in reading a beefed up version of the old Chapter 1?  I actually revamped it before deciding to try starting somewhere totally different, and I'd be curious about your reaction to it.  I can send you a private email if you're interested.  If not, no worries - depending on the rest of the comments, I could always submit it next week. (Though I promise not to flood the forums with endless Chapter 1's!)

OK, so I can give it a glance, but don't expect me to go line-by-line like above.

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 9/26/2016 at 4:31 PM, Ernei said:

I think you could afford a longer description of the village. Being a writer who doesn't like describing myself, I now see that at least a few sentences are necessary ^.^'

Yay!  I love description but I'm always cutting it because I think people don't like it (and I have a tendency to go purple).  I will not take this as license to go purple, but I will definitely add description.

On 9/26/2016 at 4:31 PM, Ernei said:

I think you could mention them above, when Aurem and Telethas arrive at the village

Good idea.  This would definitely help.

On 9/26/2016 at 4:31 PM, Ernei said:

Please, tell me Kaltus won't be approved of. Please.

It sounds like Kaltus is coming off too negatively.  I need to shift Kaltus's first impressions.  

On 9/26/2016 at 4:31 PM, Ernei said:

I think there's too many of them in one go, too many names and too little description at the same time. 

Kaisa mentioned this too.  I was worried about that, so thanks for mentioning it.  I'll try to smooth things out a bit.  More description! :D

On 9/26/2016 at 4:31 PM, Ernei said:

The mention of murderers and sorcerers in the same line had less impact than the "cardinal offence", and there's very little to keep me reading now

This is definitely a weakness of this setup over my previous Chapter 1.

On 9/26/2016 at 10:50 PM, kaisa said:

Definitely better than the first time around!

Yay!  Growth = success.

On 9/26/2016 at 10:50 PM, kaisa said:

I found the first half or so very slow--seemingly character building without direction. The second part was better, but I don't have a feel enough yet for the young men to get swept up in their youthful righteousness. I need more about the world I think, and less banter at the beginning.

This is a very helpful distinction.  I knew I needed to get the readers more invested, but I focused all my attention on having the reader getting to know the characters instead of also setting up stakes and expectations in the world.  Thanks for pointing this out.

On 9/26/2016 at 10:50 PM, kaisa said:

this 'marry a wife' thing. This implies that females do not have coming of age ceremonies. I've become wary.

Oops, this was just me trying to make the phrase long enough not to feel jarring in the list.  It's not supposed to imply this.  Females come of age too, at the same age as the males.  I'm trying to dial back the misogyny in this world.  This is fantasy, right?  I don't have to be historically accurate...

Thanks for the feedback!  I get so many more good ideas when I get other people's eyes on my writing.  So much understanding!

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sorry I'm a bit late to this, Hobbit; weekdays usually aren't that free for me (as you may have noticed)

Overall, I liked the style of this submission a lot better than the last one I read (don't think it was the most recent one, however). It flows better, and the characters seem to be more alive. I always think that giving characters an existence outside the linear plot makes them feel more like people; after all, real people don't live in a single story!

As I go:

  • "Auren choked." Not the word I'd use to describe incredulous laughter without something to choke on. I'd use "guffaw" or something similar, or have him drink from a waterskin before laughing
  • I like the general trend of this conversation between Auren and Telethas a lot better than last time. Given the presence of these trials, or games, their conversation seems to have meaning, direction and context. It sets it up nicely. I'd be careful not to languish on it too long, however, lest your  reader take a page from the book of Monty Python and start yelling "GET ON WITH IT!!"
  • As a general rule, I'd try and include more descriptions on what your characters are doing. Humans have constant facial expressions, even if that expression is "blank." Where relevant, show us these changes in expression, body language, tone of voice. Again, it makes them seem more real rather than like bad actors on a stage
  • "Jerk": a small quibble, but this word broke my immersion slightly. I'm a big proponent of free choice in the style of language in a book; in a fantasy setting, language may not have evolved in the same way as ours, so having pseudo-medieval language in a pseudo-medieval setting is not a must (though it is easier as it plays to our preconceptions). But you MUST be consistent, lest you break the reader's immersion
  • One of the things I like most is the care you've taken to reveal Selnest's crimes. Previously, you had the characters talking about it using some of the dreaded "as you know" dialogue. Now, you've made the reader and Auren approach the issue from the same point of view, which is much more effective. Well done.
  • I would caution you against being too Anvilicious (look up TV Tropes if you're not familiar with this) about him beating his wife. While a terrible crime, don't have your characters go overboard with it, because it may sound like you're on a soapbox.
  • I don't understant why Auren feels he can discuss Selnest with  the Elder's Circle, especially since you've made it abundantly clear he's not yet considered a man. Am I missing something?
  • Selnest seems like a real bastard
  • Again, why does Auren feel that he, a not-yet-man, can barge in and demand to speak to the Elder? If you're trying to establish that he's impertinent, I'd advise mentioning this in passing, like saying he was "ignorant of his own impertinence" or something similar. Just so I know I'm not missing something, or that you've thought this through
  • I guess the main issue I have with the ending is that I don't know the significance of the separate punishments and thus have no ability to visualise or quantify how bad they are. Sure, you make it sound bad, but unless I missed something, a lot of the dialogue surrounding the Southern Lands and the Northern Peak is rather vague. It'd be like me saying "He's been sentenced to eat fifteen hundred rothleberries" without explaining what "rothleberries" were (NB. I just made them up :P). If you were to insert a little descriptor somewhere, I think the impact of the conclusion would be exponentially greater.

Overall, I liked this version a lot more than the last one. The characters seemed crisper, the community setting seems more alive and I'm more interested to see what happens to Selnest and how it affects the plot. Again, more of a "future advice" thing rather than a criticism, but I'd avoid some of the group tropes that have come up in high fantasy stories before. I know I mentioned this last time, but I couldn't help but draw correlations between three of your main characters (Auren, Telethas and Kaltus) with the trio from Wheel of Time (Rand, Perrin and Mat respectively). Just wanted to give you a heads up so you can avoid falling into well-trodden territory. 

Looking forward to more!

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In the interests of freeing up time for writing, I'm going to try a more summarised commenting style on some submissions. Apologies if this seems briefer than usual, but hopefully there is still something useful in here!

So, back into Chapter 1, I'm going to try and just read through briskly without getting caught up in detail.

I enjoyed this quite a bit more than the first version, but I still have issues, the main ones highlighted in blue below. First is the tone of some of the dialogue, which I felt was off, or certainly not to my taste. Other parts are good, but some of it did not ring true to me. My main issue was with Aurem’s level of concern over the incident. I get that he detests what has happened, but I feel like I need something more to explain the strength of his reaction, especially if he ends up going before the elder, as he did in the first version.

Anyway, I need to say good job here. I think you've really embraced the comments from first time around and taken a good step forward here, imho. Really interested to read the next part now.

<R>

  • Telethas had had a free day today, and he had” –awkward phrasing.
  • hare-spooked” – odd phrase, how is this different from plain spooked?
  • I am enjoying this much more than the previous version. We’re getting character and setting, and I have a better sense of their age.
  • both boys dismounted” – This is the second time you’ve used ‘both’. It’s something that really bugs me. There are only two of them in the scene. If you say the boys dismounted it is perfectly clear what is going on.
  • the way you hate taking care of your grandmother” – Ooh, Telethas just dropped several notches in my estimation.
  • Or how whenever Mira comes to the smithy, you make sure you’re shirtless so you can watch her squirm” – lol
  • And you help people freely” – apart from his grandmother!
  • You really think I’m all those things?” – This felt overly gushy to me, like full on bromance. “I can hide it from everyone else,” he said, “but not from you.Aurem smiled and put his hand on Telethas’s arm. “And I wouldn’t have it any other way,” he said. “You’re my best friend, jerk or not” – No, sorry, I was gagging here. It’s too much for my taste.

  • One week later, the weather had chilled and yellow leaves streamed from the trees like rain.” – This is a good, strong image. A short line, but I get an excellent image of autumnal surroundings.
  • and that was enough to tell Aurem that Telethas had no come to invite him to dinner, or to ask him on a hunting excursion, or to weasel him into spending a late night at the pub” – Very long-winded to make the point.
  • Selnest? They’re chaining him in the Elder’s hut?” – Some of the dialogue is rather limp. Here, Aurem just repeats what Telethas says, in that way of the Lassie movies (or rather, the spoofs). “What’s that? There’s someone trapped down the well?” The line is followed by some nice background, however.

  • Months?” Aurem repeated” – That’s about all he has done. His thoughts are well balanced, and I like the tone of them, like “alternating between approaching what Helia must have gone through, then recoiling from it”, but his dialogue often is not very interesting.

  • let the Elder’s Circle figure it out on their own” – I'm a bit puzzled here, and this marks out a difficulty that I had with the first version. Why is it that a couple of 16 year-old boys are the only ones who seem sufficiently bothered about this to take it to the elders personally? Why now is Aurem so hot and bothered about it? It seems like the sort of reaction that any number of people in the village might have. I would like there to be some special reason that Aurem is bothered about it. Maybe he was feeling for the wife for some reason, a school boy/teacher crush, or was having an affair with her. Maybe someone in his family was abused, his aunt or grandma for example, some kind a rationale for him to be more than just appalled, but to take action and feel so strongly.

  • We’re eating at the pub tonight” – Here and in the section leading up to this, describing so many people in the square, I get a nice sense of community.
  • It’s worse” – this line came over comical to me, but that’s not the tone that I get from the story.
  • because I don’t know” – There’s an awful lot of knowing around this part. Personally, I would tend to look for another word for one of the instances at least.
  • But the Elder doesn’t know what Darè told my mother” – re: my comment about his motivation, this seems rather convenient and the listening post a bit contrived for my liking. Did Aurem’s friends spy on his mother to see her going in, then managed to get the table by the listening hole when the pub is so busy? This insider knowledge does help with my concern about his motivation, but he was thinking of going to the elder before this came to him. Also, do you explain what Dare is? I'm thinking physician or midwife.

  • I like the way you dealt with his friend recounting the information to Aurem, I fairly clipped through that bit. Also, the arguing among the friends was good. Convincing in tone.
  • Darè's his daughter, Aurem” – This really comes over as maid-and-butler. Aurem must know this.
  • And this was a year ago, Aurem” – You use a lot of names in the dialogue. This is another mark against it, imho. In my experience, people do not talk this way. When you are addressing someone, you don’t need to use their name all the time, because they can see you are talking to them.

  • killed someone on by accident” – unless this is some strange dialectic thing.
  • The Elder’s come out of his hut to make an announcement,” Hargust continued.  “The Circle has made their decision” – This seems like stating the obvious. Let the reader work out some stuff for themself, even small obvious stuff like this. it will be more satisfying (or less insulting!) for them.
  • I like the conclusion, it’s not a cliff-hanger, which I think is good, and still begs questions of the reader about what happens next, and what Aurem how his friends might react.
1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello @Robinski and @AuthorityHellas16.  Thanks a lot for your comments.  I'm really encouraged that you both found this submission better!  I'll respond to a few of your comments but as usual, and as with @Ernei and @kaisa, each and every one was helpful.

6 hours ago, AuthorityHellas16 said:

Overall, I liked the style of this submission a lot better than the last one I read (don't think it was the most recent one, however). It flows better, and the characters seem to be more alive.

Success!  Thanks!

6 hours ago, AuthorityHellas16 said:

I like the general trend of this conversation between Auren and Telethas a lot better than last time. Given the presence of these trials, or games, their conversation seems to have meaning, direction and context. It sets it up nicely. I'd be careful not to languish on it too long, however

Kaisa noted this too.  I'll slim it.

6 hours ago, AuthorityHellas16 said:

As a general rule, I'd try and include more descriptions on what your characters are doing.

Yay!  Good to know which way to adjust.  I'll be happy to oblige.

6 hours ago, AuthorityHellas16 said:

I would caution you against being too Anvilicious

Again, it's good to know I've crossed the line a little here so I can dial it back.

6 hours ago, AuthorityHellas16 said:

Now, you've made the reader and Auren approach the issue from the same point of view, which is much more effective. Well done.

Woo!  Thanks! :D  Goal achieved.

6 hours ago, AuthorityHellas16 said:

I don't understant why Auren feels he can discuss Selnest with  the Elder's Circle, especially since you've made it abundantly clear he's not yet considered a man. Am I missing something?

1 hour ago, Robinski said:

Why is it that a couple of 16 year-old boys are the only ones who seem sufficiently bothered about this to take it to the elders personally? Why now is Aurem so hot and bothered about it?

Yes, it appears this isn't coming across.  I think part of the issue is that I've overcorrected from my last version into "anvilicious" territory, as AH16 said.  The other problem is that I'm just not explaining well.  I think I can correct this in the next draft, but since I'm not planning on submitting another draft of Chapter 1, and since I've adjusted this from what was true in my previous drafts, I'll just spell it out here:  Aurem wants to talk to the Elder so badly because he and the Elder are actually really good friends.  Aurem doesn't understand what's going on, he doesn't understand how someone could do things like this - he's basically losing his sense of innocence and safety, and he knows that the Elder can help him process these things in a way that his friends his own age can't.  Hearing a piece of news that might actually be important to the Circle's decision is a convenient way for him to justify to himself why he should go try to see the Elder now, rather than waiting until things have calmed down.  Looking back, I can see that I didn't really make that clear at all... But there you have it.  That's the goal, eventually.

2 hours ago, Robinski said:

Anyway, I need to say good job here. I think you've really embraced the comments from first time around and taken a good step forward here, imho. Really interested to read the next part now.

Woo!  This is very encouraging.  Just be warned that my first submissions of chapters have the potential to be every bit as awful as before... :P despite my best efforts!

2 hours ago, Robinski said:

This felt overly gushy to me, like full on bromance.

Hahaha, alright, dialing it back a few notches.

2 hours ago, Robinski said:

his dialogue often is not very interesting.

Noted.  I agree.  His personality is all in his head right now.

2 hours ago, Robinski said:

this seems rather convenient and the listening post a bit contrived for my liking. Did Aurem’s friends spy on his mother to see her going in, then managed to get the table by the listening hole when the pub is so busy?

Good point.  I'll have to make that less contrived.

And thanks for all the comments about how to smooth out the dialogue.  I really like writing (and reading) dialogue, so it's important to me that the dialogue in my stories is strong.  And thanks for telling me where it's working - it's equally important for calibration purposes that I know when I'm getting it right!

Again, thanks for everything!  

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Hobbit said:

he's basically losing his sense of innocence and safety, and he knows that the Elder can help him process these things in a way that his friends his own age can't

I would come right out a say this, not quite in those terms, but show these things more overtly through his inner thoughts. I don't get a great sense of innocence from Aurem. I don't see him struggling with the concept of domestic violence, which I think is one of the things that makes him seem more mature.

2 hours ago, Hobbit said:

His personality is all in his head right now.

Lol.

2 hours ago, Hobbit said:

I really like writing (and reading) dialogue

A great tip, which I've been using for a while, and maybe you know it already, is to read your dialogue out loud. It's a quick and easy way (I think) to at least identify if dialogue is not working. It doesn't automatically identify the solution, unfortunately!!

Glad the notes helped :)

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey Hobbit, I'm way late on this one so I'll try not to repeat what others have said, though I'll mention that I agree with a lot that has been said. Here are a couple other thoughts. It might help to know more about what kind of person Selnest is in their society. For example, is he is a highly-respected member of their society, or perhaps a mentor to one or more of the boys? Is he a hot-tempered drunkard? Knowing his relation to the boys (or his position in the society) would help me understand their reactions better, and also help bring me in more as a reader. As it stands, I only know that a guy did some bad things, and this carries the same limited weight as the multitude of bad doings that occur nightly on the local news. Also, is this a town like Hobbiton where people are unaccustomed to things like this happening, because I'm wondering why everyone in town seems to be up in arms about it? (Not that people shouldn't be up in arms, but I'm used to fiction where this kind of stuff is commonplace.)

My other thoughts have been mentioned by others, so I'll finish by saying that I enjoy your clean, easy prose in this story. For the most part, it makes reading effortless.

Looking forward to your next submission!

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, Coop said:

It might help to know more about what kind of person Selnest is in their society.

Great idea.  I hadn't thought about that.  It will be easy to add.  Thanks for the comments - late is always better than never!

Just finished incorporating the other suggestions.  I added 700 words to the chapter... oof.  For future reference, if anyone ever wants to give me comments about how to make things shorter, I'm all ears. :) 

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 05/10/2016 at 3:15 AM, Hobbit said:

For future reference, if anyone ever wants to give me comments about how to make things shorter, I'm all ears.

Why you take some words out, of course ;)

Seriously though, it's not often that phrasing is so perfect that it can't stand to be changed a bit. Take a word or two out of every two lines through phrasing and you will soon take 5-7% out of your chapter. It's not 'fun' (unless you are a twisted grammar fiend, stupidly competitive - like me!!), but it works.

 

Edited by Robinski
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
18 hours ago, Robinski said:

Take a word or two out of every two lines through phrasing and you will soon take 5-7% out of your chapter.

But every time I comb through it I end up adding a phrase or a sentence every few lines... :P  No, you're right.  And I'm glad you enjoy it - to each their own! 

I also realized I was inadvertently dropping the tension in places, and hopefully cutting those lines will make it feel faster, even if the word count isn't that much lower.

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.