M.Puddles

Matthew Puddles-Paladar-01/30/17-Chapter1 Gem of Worlds-6800

17 posts in this topic

 

Hello Reading Excuses.  

The first time I shared a chapter on this site there were a few of critiques that asked for me to start sharing from the start instead of 200K into my story.  Gem of Worlds is one of my early chapters. As of now, it is the first chapter of my book, though I'm tempted to make it the second.Thank you for reading it and for sharing your thoughts and suggestions.  
 
I'm looking for feedback of all kinds. Tell me what works or what doesn't, share what you find fun or interesting and what you find boring and dull.  Thank you all, 
 
Matthew
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Hi @M.Puddles,

Thanks for sharing, but remember there is a 5,000 word limit on submissions, as per the forum guidelines on the pinned thread. You will see some longer ones occasionally, like maybe +10% or so and, every so often by prior discussion, someone might submit a bigger chunk if it was the end of a story, or a short story that would be significantly 'damaged' by splitting into two.

Personally, I will read this (when I get to it - I'm still catching up from November!!), but you might get some who won't because of the length, or might stop at 5,000 words.

I just mention this for purposes of going forward, to make sure we don't set a precedent that undermines the effectiveness of the forum.

Don't sweat it this week, we're cool (imho).

Best, Robinski

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Hi Robinski,

Thank you for agreeing to read my chapter.  I read the guideline and misinterpreted it. I thought that it was a suggestion and not a 'standard'.  I included the word count so others wouldn't be taken off guard but I will keep my submissions shorter in the future. 

Thank you for letting me join the group this week and letting this one go.  

Matthew

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Hey Matthew, I didn't mean to sound authoritarian, it's not mine to call one way or another. As far as I'm concerned, you're in the group now regardless, and very welcome. I was just speaking from experience over the last three years or so. If anyone is the adjudicator it is @Silk, who may comment in due course.

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Welcome back!

I had to stick this into a word document so I could do page numbers and such. So if you're trying to follow along, I copy/pasted, double spaced it, and stuck it in Calibri font.

Overall

I'm left with a vagueness after reading. I don't really have a feel for the characters, the stakes, or the motivations. My summary would be: two men, one a master, one a servant, take a long walk to a tomb and screw around with ancient curses. Bad things happen.

That's... kind of expected. I think you could cut this down at least half in length and have a more tension-driven story, but I also think you need to give more information on the characters and their motivations. I literally have no idea why they are doing what they are doing, especially the servant who clearly does not want to be there, but doesn't flee. Looking forward to seeing revisions!

As I go

- That first paragraph is clunky. Might consider breaking it up and spending a bit more time on each of the component parts

Not for the first time, he checked over his shoulder and considered summoning his magic to pierce the darkness He knew he should, but the effort always left him soul weary and tired.  Huh? This needs clarifying

- page four: I still don't know what the purpose of this chapter is. Why are they breaking things and going through tunnels? 

- page five: so they're... tomb hunting? I'm confused

- page seven: all these glyphs and I want them better laid out. the whole discussion of the tunnel and the findings needs more description. It sounds so exciting but I'm not getting any visuals really, and I really want them

- page nine: the narrative starts to drag here. The mystery is gone and I just want something to happen

- that slab popping open could have a lot more effect if it wasn't just explained as someone found a lever. Let it have some mystery

- page twelve: so at this point I have no feel for either character. Setting is getting better, but these two characters: what do they look like? Why are they doing this? Who are they? 

- page fourteen: so they found what they were looking for, this 'Gem of Worlds', which was never mentioned before. So, good? We can all go home?

- page seventeen and we find out the servant has magic? Feels convenient. Also I think this whole scene is taking a mite too long. Suggest cutting way down, maybe in half or so

- page 20: if the servant is so afraid, why not just turn and leave? What binds him to his master?

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Overall I enjoyed reading this.  It kept me fairly well hooked, despite its length, and it seems like a great place to start a story.  It had a sort of Indiana Jones feel, except a bit darker.  I want to keep reading, mostly to find out more about Raist.  He seems like a very capable person, and yet he's beholden for some reason to this babyish king dude.  I want to know why.  It's a powerful bond, whatever it is.  I'm secondarily interested in his magic, and why he needs to keep it secret.  Though I was hooked by that in your first submission from this story as well, so it might just be a holdover from that sub. :)  I think your characters come across well.  They feel authentic.  I don't particularly like the king, but interestingly enough, Raist doesn't seem to hate him, just be frustrated with him.  I like that - it's a refreshing variant on the "servant hates stupid master" relationship.

Specific bits for improvement:

Breathing dust is like inhaling the dead his father once said. Strange how I only think of him when I’m angry, Raist mused.
These two sentences parallel each other in a way that throws me off as I'm reading.

On the surface, Crestgaurd’s Temple beamed with hope...
This entire paragraph has so many world-building details that I'm getting lost and I start skimming for things I recognize. Ah. The next paragraph has a much better balance of new details plus concrete familiarity.

The stagnant air hung heavy as though he’d stepping inside a tomb.  
I thought he was in a tomb.

When Raist dabbed at his cheek with his fingertips, he wasn’t surprised to see them come away red.
Why is he okay with hurting himself?  Seems careless?

...but when he held the lamp aloft, he saw light scurry across the surface like a small lizard, wary of the light.  
Light is wary of light.  It comes across as kind of an awkward comparison.

The last scene was a different one altogether.  The shining portal was gone, and where the monsters had stood, there was a now large rectangle marked with runes. ...
I got a good image of the first set of drawings, but this one I'm having a hard time picturing. It reads like step-by-step instructions on how to draw it, but in terms of forming a mental picture it's too much literal detail.

I like the tension in these middle scenes, especially when his master sees a hole that he doesn't.  I also like how everything feels cold to his master but not to him.  Very interesting...

Raist’s hand dropped to where his sword should be and cursed when he found the open air where he should have felt the handle.   damnation.
Without an acknowledgment that he's done this before, such as "For the third time that night..." Or, "Oops, I did it again!" (Sorry, sorry, couldn't help it, sorry), this is getting repetitive.

He didn’t realize he was holding his breath until he stood above the coffin, looking down at the still shaking tablet.
I'm having trouble with the blocking. At first I thought the dias was the coffin, but if so, how is he standing above it?

During the last two pages or so, when the monster starts to come out of the coffin, I start to get lost:

Long fingers stretched out and like meat hooks out and at the coffin.
Is it trying to feel the coffin?  Attack the coffin?

The room sparkled with light banishing the darkness to reveal fantastic hues emanating from the torch. ...
I thought the torch had gone out?  This entire paragraph is especially confusing.  I'm losing my mental picture.

It floated next to a wall, and the walls pulled at it even faster now.
I'm unclear what this magic-pulling thing is.  I can tell it's a similar thing to what happened to Raist's magic before, but other than that I'm lost.

Raist saw it desperately try to reach inside the coffin and then roared in frustration as it disappeared into the wall.  
That was very unexpected.

Again, overall this was good.  

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On 1/31/2017 at 0:08 AM, kaisa said:

I'm left with a vagueness after reading. I don't really have a feel for the characters, the stakes, or the motivations. My summary would be: two men, one a master, one a servant, take a long walk to a tomb and screw around with ancient curses. Bad things happen.

That's... kind of expected. I think you could cut this down at least half in length and have a more tension-driven story, but I also think you need to give more information on the characters and their motivations. I literally have no idea why they are doing what they are doing, especially the servant who clearly does not want to be there, but doesn't flee. Looking forward to seeing revisions!

My thoughts exactly! Notes written below, before I read through the comments. Same general comments as @kaisa

 

Overall, I think the has the seeds of a good story, but there's a lot of extra text, along with missing periods, commas, and quotation marks.
Your start of action is probably when they find the carvings and Raist touches the symbol, but this is halfway through the chapter. I think it would be easy to cut this down by half or more and it would be a lot snappier.


Notes as I read

Pg 1: First sentence is pretty long and clunky. Not sure how the motes are covering him in regret.

After that a page or so of desccription about a temple. Don't really care yet. There's been no action.

pg 2: "I understand that your Grace,” 
--that, your

pg 3: Still don't know what's going on, except that Raist is annoyed with Paynaud. Are they doing some sort of archaeological site excavation?

pg 3: "There was something about this particular tunnel that made the hairs on his arms stand on their end. I’ll leave it unless it becomes absolutely necessary."
--I'd rather know what it is, so I get a sense of what's happening.

pg 4: "With quiet resignation, Raist considered the wooden slats "
--We're on page 4 and Raist hasn't actually moved. No hook yet.

pg 5: “This is it.  I’ve done it,”
--done what? I have no idea what's going on.

pg 5: "the hidden doorway"
--I thought it was just boarded over?

pg 6: "There was something about the wall that bothered him"
--again, you're not telling me what the hook is. Why is Raist freaked out?

pg 7: weird change from double space to single space.

pg 7: "he saw light scurry across the surface like a small lizard, wary of the light"
--the light is afraid of the light?

pg 8: lots of description of the carvings. Not sure what significance they have. Were they looking for something like this?

pg 8: "A shudder climbed Raist’s spine, and the urge to leave intensified again."
--Why? You keep telling us Raist is scared, but there's been nothing tosupport that.

pg 9: "when we finally find what I’ve been searching for"
--So they were looking for the carvings? Confused.

pg 10: "Raist looked back toward the entrance and hoped his Master would leave it at that."
--There's obviously something more to Raist vs. his incompetent master, but you keep not telling us, and we're in his POV. sort of frustrating.

pg 11: I like the flame eating up the dust. I was waiting for something like that to happen.

pg 12: “ I don’t think we should be here, your Grace.” 
--WHY

pg 13: "chest of giant’s corpse may have been."
--I thought they were looking at a closed sarcophagus? How do they know there's a giant corpse? Also, missing a word.

pg 14: "I didn’t show you for the sake of conversation.”
--don't know what this means.

pg 15: this is the second time you've mentioned his magic and that he doesn't want to use it. At this point I want to know something about it. I don't even know what magic is in this world.

pg 17: "With a grunt, Raist summoned his magic,"
--oh finally.
"giant ball sparked to life"
--Sooo his magic is a ball of...what?

pg 19: "He glanced at his torch and knew he'd try it first even as the amorphous entity changed."
--There's a lot of extraneous lines in here. Sentences like the above can probably be cut completely.

pg 19: "Raist saw his magic push..."
--"His magic" is a pretty vague term. It's not descriptive and I don't know what it does.

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Thank you, Kasia, Hobbit, and Mandamon. I appreciate the time you took to read, respond and offer helpful ideas. I have some questions for you, if you don't mind. 

 

@Kasia

 

I'm left with a vagueness after reading. I don't really have a feel for the characters, the stakes, or the motivations.

-I'm not sure what to do about this.  Raist and Paynaud are my antagonists for the first book of this trilogy. In this chpater I want to reveal that there is magic in this world, that something ancient is let loose, give a hint at the prison that kept it, and show that these two men were involved.  This scene takes place a couple of years before the main action of my story and these two characters don't become important until the second half of the book.  

After my first draft, book one is over 1300 pages and I'm just trying to give a sip of what might be brewing behind the scenes.  With that said I think this chapter might be best used as a Prologue or say, maybe chapter 3 with a heading that say '2 Years ago'.  

-- page seven: all these glyphs and I want them better laid out. the whole discussion of the tunnel and the findings needs more description. It sounds so exciting but I'm not getting any visuals really, and I really want them

Petroglyphs are rudimentary by their nature but I want to know more here.  By page 9, when they are tyring to figure out what to do with the giant wall slab you feel like your attention is wanning. I'm worried that slowing down the narrative to explain more of the tunnel would add to the problem.  What if I skipped the tunnel, and opened the scene with Raist puzzling out how to get past the slab?  

In terms of the slab, instead of a 'level' like device, what were you secretly hoping for here?

 

page twelve: so at this point I have no feel for either character. Setting is getting better, but these two characters: what do they look like? Why are they doing this? Who are they? 

-I agree on this.  I tried to put some hints in there, but I rewrote this scene fifteen times in the last week, and in this cut many of the hints were cut out.  

What i revealed: Raist has a beard.  He is martial, and younger than Paynaud.  Raist stands taller than Paynaud.  Paynaud is weak, lazy and has a nasally voice.  It isn't much.  I'm really open to your thoughts here.  What do want to more of from both characters.  

 

page fourteen: so they found what they were looking for, this 'Gem of Worlds', which was never mentioned before. So, good? We can all go home?

-  How much does this bother you? I'm hesitant to reveal much about these characters.  It gets revealed later, but I don't want to ignore a reader's needs.  If I have Paynaud allude that this 'gem' may  help him fund his plans, would that be enough without revealing what they are...yet? 

page seventeen and we find out the servant has magic? Feels convenient. Also I think this whole scene is taking a mite too long. Suggest cutting way down, maybe in half or so

-This once confused me.  

I mention that Raist considered summon his magic to pierce the light a couple of times, earlier in the chapter. 

 

@Hobbit

Breathing dust is like inhaling the dead his father once said. Strange how I only think of him when I’m angry, Raist mused.
These two sentences parallel each other in a way that throws me off as I'm reading.

If I changed it to: "Breathing dust is like inhaling the dead...his father's words. Strange how he only comes to mind when I'm angry, Raist mused. 

would that work better? 

 

The stagnant air hung heavy as though he’d stepping inside a tomb.  
I thought he was in a tomb.

He is, but he doesn't know that yet.  To his mind, he's just in the underhalls as this point.  I will have to make this apparent.

 

...but when he held the lamp aloft, he saw light scurry across the surface like a small lizard, wary of the light.  
Light is wary of light.  It comes across as kind of an awkward comparison.

When Raist dabbed at his cheek with his fingertips, he wasn’t surprised to see them come away red.
Why is he okay with hurting himself?  Seems careless?

Thanks for this one.  I have rewritten this scen so many times.  Initially he felt something sharp along his cheek when he punched at the slats.  But I cut it out hoping to show that he was cut by wiping his ckeeks and noticing the blood.  It didn't work. 

 

but when he held the lamp aloft, the light glinted along the surface like moonlight swaying to ripples in the water.  

Better? 

He didn’t realize he was holding his breath until he stood above the coffin, looking down at the still shaking tablet.
I'm having trouble with the blocking. At first I thought the dias was the coffin, but if so, how is he standing above it?

So the huge stone coffin is atop a dais (defined as a low platform for a lectern, seats of honor, or a throne).  I'm having trouble blocking this.  Suggestions?

The room sparkled with light banishing the darkness to reveal fantastic hues emanating from the torch. ...
I thought the torch had gone out?  This entire paragraph is especially confusing.  I'm losing my mental picture.

-The torch fell inside the coffin, and now the light is glowing out of its top. I struggled trying to write this too. 

 

@Mandamon

 

Pg 1: First sentence is pretty long and clunky. Not sure how the motes are covering him in regret.

They don't.  They cover him in neglect.  

pg 3: "There was something about this particular tunnel that made the hairs on his arms stand on their end. I’ll leave it unless it becomes absolutely necessary."
--I'd rather know what it is, so I get a sense of what's happening.

What do you think I could do to show that Raist doesn't know what it is, but that it is boterhing him.  

 

pg 7: weird change from double space to single space.

Computer wizardry.  Sorry. 

pg 17: "With a grunt, Raist summoned his magic,"
--oh finally.
"giant ball sparked to life"
--Sooo his magic is a ball of...what?

This made smile.  Thanks.    What did the magic look like to you?

It may not work, but I only want to hint and what it is.  These are not my main characters...They are Harly Quinn and Joker, and you have not met my Batman yet.   So your answer here is important to me.  

Thanks again for helping get better. :)

Edited by M.Puddles
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4 minutes ago, M.Puddles said:

 This scene takes place a couple of years before the main action of my story and these two characters don't become important until the second half of the book.  

Sounds like a prologue to me!  Just wanted to jump in there. :)

6 minutes ago, M.Puddles said:

If I changed it to: "Breathing dust is like inhaling the dead...his father's words. Strange how he only comes to mind when I'm angry, Raist mused. 

would that work better? 

That's definitely better.  I think, reading it again, that part of what throws me off is that we already know Raist is thinking, so using "Raist mused" sounds a bit clunky.  So maybe you cold just say, "Breathing dust is like inhaling the dead...his father's words. Strange how he only comes to mind when I'm angry." 

9 minutes ago, M.Puddles said:

To his mind, he's just in the underhalls as this point.  I will have to make this apparent.

Ah.  So I was basically picturing something like the inside of a pyramid this whole time, as in, a structure that's primary purpose is to be a memorial.  Maybe that's not actually right.

12 minutes ago, M.Puddles said:

When Raist dabbed at his cheek with his fingertips, he wasn’t surprised to see them come away red.
Why is he okay with hurting himself?  Seems careless?

Thanks for this one.  I have rewritten this scen so many times.  Initially he felt something sharp along his cheek when he punched at the slats.  But I cut it out hoping to show that he was cut by wiping his ckeeks and noticing the blood.  It didn't work. 

Actually, it did work.  I pictured that he had been cut by the slats, and I guess that was right.  It's actually the "he wasn't surprised" that threw me off, because I thought you were saying he wasn't surprised that some shrapnel from the slats had cut him.  If he expected to be cut when he punched the door, why did he punch instead of kick?  Or why not try to shield his face?  You know what I mean?  So not to worry!

16 minutes ago, M.Puddles said:

but when he held the lamp aloft, the light glinted along the surface like moonlight swaying to ripples in the water.  

Better? 

Much better!  I like it.  But the important thing is if YOU like it, of course.

17 minutes ago, M.Puddles said:

So the huge stone coffin is atop a dais (defined as a low platform for a lectern, seats of honor, or a throne).  I'm having trouble blocking this.  Suggestions?

Hmm.  Blocking is hard.  I'm coming up with a few ideas, but I'm not an expert on this either.

Quote

Stone tables, each the size of a Lord’s bed were arranged in regular rows for as far as he could see.  Their surfaces were filled with tablets slanted on stands and closed chests. One table nearby was covered with swords and archaic armor that was half hidden under a carpet of dust.  Always the dust!  The room’s walls, wherever they stood, were farther away than the feeble light could reach.

Something like this will let us know right away that the room is really big.  You mention that the light doesn't reach far, but a specific mention that they can't see the walls yet gives us a better visual (a positive vs a negative description).

Quote

 

Raist turned to see his master's robe licked with flames, and hurried to beat them out.  It took but a moment, but it was enough. The lamp oil on the floor was still burning hot and bright.

When Raist stepped back and looked at their surroundings, he was surprised to find that in the glow of the oil fire, he could see just how large the room was. The chamber had to be the size of a dance palisade at Festival time.  Over fifty of the large tables were arranged three-deep along the length of the room, all of them covered with dusty relics.

 

Just a few clarity suggestions.

Quote

As they approached the end of the room, Raist saw that the large shape was a giant stone box that sat atop a dais.  The hulking black structure was even larger than he’d thought.  What could something like this possibly contain?    A guilty curiosity came over him when Paynaud rushed up the three steps that led onto the dias and hovered over the strange stone box. It was enormous, easily as wide as a man is tall and twice that in length.

I usually try to "introduce" an object before I use it in a description.  So instead of saying, "As they approached the dias," (when you haven't told us there's a dias yet), have the character specifically notice the dias.  Also, using tags like "stone box" helps readers feel confident about which box you're talking about.

Hopefully that helps!

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1 hour ago, M.Puddles said:

-I'm not sure what to do about this.  these two characters don't become important until the second half of the book.  

 I think this chapter might be best used as a Prologue or say, maybe chapter 3 with a heading that say '2 Years ago'.  

 

I'm going to advise against the prologue. Agents just don't like them, and many won't even let you sub them anymore. If the characters aren't important until the second half of the book, they shouldn't be introduced yet. To hook readers, you need strong buy in for characters. You have to give us something, some hook, motivation, something, or we can't connect. And if you change characters in the next chapter, that'll get you kicked out of the slush pile, too. You have to let the reader get invested, totally, in a character, before you swap them out. I got this feedback ad nausem from agents when I was subbing. It's just 'how its done' right now, in fiction. If you're writing for pleasure, that's a different story!

1 hour ago, M.Puddles said:

Petroglyphs are rudimentary by their nature but I want to know more here.  By page 9, when they are tyring to figure out what to do with the giant wall slab you feel like your attention is wanning. I'm worried that slowing down the narrative to explain more of the tunnel would add to the problem.  What if I skipped the tunnel, and opened the scene with Raist puzzling out how to get past the slab?  

Rudimentary they may be, but your description doesn't have to be. Use that authorial voice and make them beautiful for the reader. This doesn't have to slow down anything. It's not even about adding sentences. It's just using different words, more descriptors, etc. You could skip the tunnel, but that is a key area for character development that is, right now, very under used.

1 hour ago, M.Puddles said:

What do want to more of from both characters.  

Some hint at their personalities and inner motivations, really. I need basic descriptors (hair is usually a good one, clothes), but inner motivations can help form a physical description, too.

1 hour ago, M.Puddles said:

How much does this bother you?

Honestly, if I picked this up at a bookstore, I would have stopped here, put the book back, and moved on.

1 hour ago, M.Puddles said:

page seventeen and we find out the servant has magic? Feels convenient. Also I think this whole scene is taking a mite too long. Suggest cutting way down, maybe in half or so

-This once confused me.  

Because it shows up right when its needed. We don't know anything about these characters. So if you introduce vital information only when it is vital, it feels author contrived. The general rule as I understand it is you have to introduce something at least twice for it to be 'real'. We got one mention earlier, nonspecific, and made his magic seem minimal at best. If he has the power to really affect things, A) he probably shouldn't be a servant, much less subservient and B.) we should have heard about it almost at the start, and then repeatedly afterwards.

 

Let me know if you have more questions!

 

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18 hours ago, M.Puddles said:

What do you think I could do to show that Raist doesn't know what it is, but that it is boterhing him.

It's more the way he says it. I got the feeling that he might know what is bothering him, but wasn't saying.

18 hours ago, M.Puddles said:

This made smile.  Thanks.    What did the magic look like to you?

Not much, honestly. You describe a ball, and maybe sparks? I don't know what magic is used for (offensive, defense, knowledge gathering, lightshows, etc) or why Raist is ashamed of it, so I don't know how to classify what I'm seeing. 

I'd agree with @kaisa on the prologue bit. If these characters don't come in until much later, I want to see what the main story is. I didn't really get any important events out of this one, except that some archaeologists woke up a ghost. If the ghost is haunting your character the whole story, then it's important (though you could probably show in the story, rather than a prologue). If not, I'd rather just get to the first chapter.

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See, I got here in the end! Sorry for the delay, but I’m keen to start on the story. Always interesting to encounter a ‘new’ voice on RE, and I do think I’ll benefit from getting the full introduction to the character(s).

  • “Words are my only inheritance. Words, and dust” – powerful line, I like the opening, I get a sense of a strong character who has suffered adversity in his life. Decent headlines. I read on to see that he’s questioning his situation; that’s good too, setting up internal tension.

  • Capitalisation seems a bit random. It’s a pet hate of mine. I’m a firm believer in the more you capitalise, the more you dilute its effect and relevance. Sounds to me like ‘the Wounded River’ is the river’s name, so ‘River’ is part of the name, hence capitalise. However, I see no good reason to capitalise ‘master’, unless it’s part of his title when someone addresses the master, like ‘Hello, Master John’.

  • More tension with his master, and I like seeing the magic has a cost, which you establish early on, to the point where it seems like the cost is enough that Rai is unwilling to pay it just to be able to see better. I like that.

  • At this point, I like the mix of action and description. I get a good sense of the location, and you’ve used other senses than sight in respect of the dust, which is good.

  • The usual grammar stuff, I won’t do Line-by-lines at this point, but the odd missing comma, repeated word occasionally.

  • I’m quite enjoying the interplay between them. You’ve certainly shown without room for doubt that Rai has competence in this sort of thing and the vicar does not, also that the vicar is quite arrogant.

  • One thing I would say at this point is that, while the opening is suitably active, it’s a bit generic. Being in a dusty, old temple, searching through corridors for something hidden smacks of dungeon-bashing in the classic form, so I’m hoping that this section is not all that long. I do think it’s well done though.

  • “We’ve been digging through these useless tunnels for months now, and when we finally find what I’ve been searching for” – I’d like to have a bit better sense of how long they’ve been searching in the tunnels. I’m not sure how well it came out up to this point.

  • It does feel long as an opening. I would suggest trying to cut it way down. The writing is quite dense and feels bit repetitive in places. I feel like there’s a lot of description of them looking at each other that does really add a lot. I think the story would benefit from getting to the point of this opening a fair deal quicker.

  • The first time Rai looked for the sword that wasn’t there was good foreshadowing, I thought, but then he seems to keep doing it, to the point where I stopped believing it.

There’s action and there’s agency in this first part. There are good character details and I get a good sense of their relationship. Going into a dungeon/crypt/basement is not the most original setting, but I thought you carried it fairly well. The real issue I think with this as an opening is the length. I think it’s way too long to hold the readers’ attention. Okay, you would tidy up all the grammar and typos, but my halfway in I was feeling that details were being repeated, and by the ¾ mark I was skimming to get to the resolution.

I felt there were sections that were ‘over-written’ with too much detail and repeating certain beats that you’d played already, like reaching for the sword, for which once would have been enough, maybe twice, and you could cut a lot of the significant looks and details. I like the components, and I think you could quite easily get this down to 4,000 words and have a much tighter opening.

Hope this is helpful.

<R>

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Thank you Robinski,

That was helpful.  I'm takign a writing class that is pushing me to infuse more details into my writting and I think I swung too far over on that spectrum.  I really wanted to establish elements of the relationsihp between Raist and Paynaud, and, correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm reading that I did that and more...and possibly too much.

I've got a bad habit of repeating, and I tried to find and purge them, but I'm just starting to get better at it. I will read over this again.  Other than the sword checking, could you give me one example of my repetition so I can pick up on it quicker? 

If skip the walkign downt he tunnel, and start at the big glphed wall and enter form there, would that help do you think?  Lastly, did the fight scene work for you?

 

 

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3 hours ago, M.Puddles said:

correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm reading that I did that and more...and possibly too much

Yeah, I got a good sense of the relationship, those were good details, it was more the amount of detail on that they were doing, I think; not in the sense of throwing in description of the environment, but just the sheer length of time they seemed to spend doing what they were doing, and the reader seeing all of that. I'm not describing this very well. To illustrate, instead of spending 1,000 words (or whatever) saying 'They went through this door, down that corridor, then down this ramp and around this bend, opened that door...' for 4 pages, perhaps try conveying the exasperating repetitive part of the journey in a couple of paragraphs, like 'They spent what felt like hours trawling through the passageways of the temple, bend after straight after bend.'

I've gone back to have another look. I dropped the text in Word so I could track some comments and I will email that to you. I think the first 5 pages are pretty tight and do a good job of establishing the setting and the characters, plus their relationship. That takes them to the 'treasure room', after that, I think things start to get a bit baggy. There's still tension, but I thinks it's eroded a bit by the text getting a bit ramble and 'over-written' to some extent which, for me, comes down to simple editing.

There's a paragraph on the second last page "When his chest eased..." which I had a go at, I hope you don't mind. Your version is 131 words, I took a third out at 92 words. See what you think, but even if you took 20-25% out of the whole chapter with phrasing edits your 6,800 would become 5,100 to 5.400 and be a lot tighter, really zip along, I think.

In the end, I feel that's what it come down to, not that there are whole paragraphs that you would cut (maybe only a handful), but just a general compression of the text to streamline.

I think you said the story was at 200,000 words and not finished? That's going to be really exhausting, imho. And from what I read and listen to on WE, no new author is going to be considered at that length.

I hope that this is useful. It's all opinion at the end of the day. :) 

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Thank you for your help.  I'll take a look at that right away.  

Not that others weren't, but your feedback is explicit and informative. Thank you.

 

(The first draft finished at 334, 800 words.)

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51 minutes ago, M.Puddles said:

The first draft finished at 334, 800 words

Oh, wow. Yeah, that's a Stormlight Archive length book. Need to cut that down to about 150k at the very most to make it viable for a first time author, through agented channels, and even then only in epic fantasy. Other fantasy limits is around 120k. You could also make it multiple books.

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You are right.  I wrote that book for me.  I wanted to see if I could write a story (I could) and if I would get better as I did (I did).  Like Brandon, I may have to come back to it at a future time, when I've earned more skill and try again.  But for now, I will give a re-write and see how it turns out.  This may sound self-righteous, but I just want to write stories, and get better at it. I'm not worried about publishing right now.  If I continue to work at it, I will get there.  For now, I'm working on the re-write and the prequel. 

The prequel is less ambitious, takes place hundreds of years before my trilogy, and is limited to one major P.O.V. character.  So far, I like having two projects on the mind instead of one. 

The feedback and guidance I've received here is helpful and encouraging.  Thanks to all of you for being awesome.

 

For those of you who are curious, this is what the 'original' start to my prologue looked like:

The air was stale, and as Raynauld waited for his eyes to adjust to the tiny light of his lamp he could feel the arid stillness on his cheeks. The darkened recess that he had just stepped into opened onto a narrow pathway whose floor led beyond the narrow penumbra of his light. Even when he held the lamp high above his head, he couldn’t see where the darkness ended. Raynauld could see the walls were fashioned of a black rock, but even they failed to offer contrast against the floor a few feet beyond the immediate vicinity of his lamp.

Uncertain about the path before him, Raynauld turned to look back through the small access-way from which he had come. He saw Raist standing beyond the dusty shelves of broken clay jars, old kitchen-wares, and sacs of moth-riddled cloth and was reassured by the man’s steady presence.

 

Edited by M.Puddles
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