M.Puddles

Paladar -Chapter 2 (A) Raiders- M. Puddles 02/27/16 (V) 3009 words

9 posts in this topic

This is the second chapter of my book, and the first one to introduce one of my protagonists, Petro.  This is a Fantasy book that I describe as: A hero and an anti-hero find themselves working together to rescue the People's Champion after he is arrested by a corrupt Theocracy during a coup. 

Due to length, I had to cut this chapter in half for this week's submission. I think it detracts from the potency of the cliffhanger, but 6500 words exceeds the preffered 5k word cap. 

Let me have it.  Tell me what you think.  Make suggestions, prescriptive or otherwise. 

Thank you for your time and care,

Matt. 

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Aw man I love being first - probably because I happened so rarely :) Comments.

  • No need to capitalise ‘uncle’. In that sentence, he’s just an uncle.

  • I like this introduction to the character. At first I thought, ‘Oh no, not another training scene’, but I think it’s well described with the dust and the sensation of impact. Not saying it’s perfect, but you can get away with anything if you do it well enough.

  • Okay, his uncle’s got a training room, palms sweating again, and I found the bit about rocks and sand a bit boring. And what does he care about bruises, is he a swimsuit model?

  • I feel like you’re using his name too much, but I do like the uncle, no messing around, throwing rocks, cool, like him more than Pet so far. I like Stones, cool idea, nice story colour.

  • I know it’s awkward when you’ve got two males in a scene and they’re both active, but there’s a lot a name repetition going on.

  • I won’t mention it again, but unless it’s Uncle Lan, ditch the capitalisation of ‘uncle’, imho.

  • I would seriously try and drop some of the names/uncles and use he’s or alternate names and hes, because it sounds clumsy.

  • The arrival of an unknown rider is always portentous – nice. I don’t care if it verges on cliché.

  • A few desperate trees sprawled over the edge…” – big run-on sentence.

  • I get confused and a bit bored with all the talk about bolts, I think that could do with tidying up, it gets repetitive. And what has ‘girl’ got to do with anything? The first time they use the word it comes from nowhere and I can’t make sense of it.

  • As the situation develops, I get confused about why the rider came to get Lan, why Lan wasn’t with them in the first place. I don’t get the dynamic of the situation. I don’t feel I've been given enough set-up.

  • Petro liked the reassuring pressure and hated the coddling at the same time” – I'm pretty well convinced about Pet’s age. I like this line, for example.

  • Wha…? His uncle’s words make no sense to me. What girl is he going to have with him? He said he was going to drop a rope down, but now he’s bringing back a captive? Confused again.

I found myself warming to Pet as the chapter went by. He seems determined and brave, but he’s flawed in the sense that he is still learning, which makes him vulnerable. I rather like the combination. His uncle seems competent, and respected by the soldiers. Again, good. Seems to be the classical mentor character, and therefore is probably going to die in the first five chapters.

Bad things. The writing is pretty untidy in places in terms of grammar and language – usual edit stuff that can be tidied up easily, so I'm not going to flag it all. The set-up is confusing. I don’t know why anyone is doing anything, so it makes it hard to follow, and therefore impossible to get invested in the situation. That really needs attention. If I don’t know why anyone is doing what they are doing, I'm going to lose interest real quick.

I liked the pacing, and I got a sense of tension and urgency from it, but that is going to be undermined by the lack of coherent set-up / plot pretty quickly.

Good job with the main characters; plenty of scope for this to be improved, I think. With work, I think you have a decent start here.

Another question, is this part of the same story of Gem of Worlds? They seem like completely different situations, characters and set-ups; it’s hard to see how they are in the same word in any way. This may because of the almost complete lack of setting / background in this second submission however.

<R>

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- Why is he thinking about "farm" and "fence"? Are these things he's simply seeing during his training? But why he is looking at them instead of his uncle? I didn't really make sense to me.

- This is a Weekly Reader Syndrome, but it took me a while to realize Landon was his uncle until you called him "Uncle Landon" - you might want to lead with that instead of using both interchangeably.

- Overall, I like the pacing and world-building. I'm curious where this is going. 

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Hello! Here are my thoughts as I read...


Oh, it's fighting practice. From the way the intro is written, I thought he was being spun around purposefully in some kind of odd tumbling drill.  

 
what's a dirt pad? I thought they were fighting in some kind of clearing, outdoors (because of the rocks and the fence...) -- is it something else inside? Also, wouldn't you have to have, like, a sandbox's depth of sand in a fighting area to reap any of its cushioning benefits? (I honestly know next to nothing about martial arts training surfaces that aren't covered in foam. I'd always thought the sand was there for traction, and maybe, like, absorbing sweat or something and not much else)
 
Is he talking about two uncles or only one? I'm very confused right now. 
 
I expected P to be older than just 12. Huh.  (Note from future me: you do a good job of cementing his age later, he just seemed older at first!)
 
I like his hero-worship. it's cute. :)
 
Some of this dialogue feels a bit stilted, especially when they meet up with the uncle's friend. I tried saying a few of the lines out loud and got a bit tongue-tied. 

references to wars and forgotten technology? Are we post-apocalyptic? I thought it was fantasy at first.  Fun! 

"Petro held his breath and saw the young soldier frown" -- this sentence is very confusing. I can't figure out how the parts of it go together. 
 
I really like how hard he tries to please his uncle. It helps set his age.
 
Overall, I felt like this was interesting, but could probably stand to be condensed quite a bit.  The other soldiers do add color, but the scenes with them tend to drag. I don't think anything needs to be cut outright, but changing some of the lulls would really help make it flow better. 
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Overall

I thought it started slow, and I was surprised by P's age, but you caught your stride about midway. The way you organized your paragraphs in the first half was also confusing, because the description broke in when tension was building, and destroyed the momentum. Again, it cleared up about halfway through. I like P, and I'm invested in him from this chapter, and look forward to reading more.

 

As I go

- uncle isn't a proper noun

- the dirt pad doesn't leave bruises? Is it loose dirt or packed? I get bruises from falling on dirt for sure

- page two has a tense change in the paragraph where you describe the stones game. It also reads a bit infodumpy

- page two, last sentence: unsure what this sentence is trying to say

- 'the thing part' is a little too oblique for my tastes. Could we get maybe one more sentence around it? Body part? Stray animal attached somehow? Armor?

- another tense change, top of page six

- the narrative really picks up once they meet the rider

- 'stones' doesn't need to be in italics. That's usually reserved for thought or other languages

- P's age comes out well in the second half, with his dialogue and his thoughts about his uncle

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I wasn't particularly pulled in by this chapter. I think you have Petro's reactions, as a 12yo, down fairly well, especially some of his thought patterns. However, these folks are all terrified of what sounds like projectiles in general, so I'm not giving high marks to the society they come from. Still unsure about "the girl" and what bearing she has on things. I would think Landon could drop a few hints, especially since the two men come up suddenly. Talk of "the girl" as a goal seems to come from nowhere.


pg 1: "Farm. Fence. Farm. The two landmarks..."
--Is his Uncle spinning him around in a circle by his foot? That's the only thing I can think of here. In any case, having some trouble on the blocking in the first paragraph.

pg 2: "Uncle Landon"
--we finally get a name here. "His uncle" was getting a little tiring.

pg 2: "His uncle had sharp angular cheeks like a beggar"
--do beggars have angular cheeks? This seems an odd generalization

pg 3: "bulk of blacksmiths or street toughs"
--blacksmiths I can believe, because they train in a particular way. "Street thugs" I sort of put in the same category as "beggars"

pg 3: "all he saw was the thing part"
--thin?

pg 6: "Paladar"
--is this Landon?

pg 6: "but turned back when a bolt thudded into the ground by my mare’s hoof.”
--they seemed to turn back pretty easily

pg 6: "“Stop that!” he cursed under his breath.
--not a curse

pg 7: "Them weapons need to be banned"
--crossbows? reassessing time period...

pg 8: “Projectiles.” Landon cursed."
Not really believing that projectile weapons are unknown or rare. Even before bows and arrows, we had stone throwers and atlatls.

pg 8: "No way he could have reloaded in time"
--This tells me he's afraid of the type of weapon, not that they are projectiles in general. Might need clarification of what they're afraid of.

pg 10: "We’ll know if they have bolters watching when I get close.” 
--by getting shot?

pg 11: "Uncle's white cape"
I don't think this has been mentioned before now, or any clothing, really.

pg 11: "He’s harder to hit when he moves like that, right kid?"
--yeah, still don't believe they're so unfamiliar with weapons that leave the hand, unless there's some particular worldbuilding reason, and I'd want to know that. 
Also, don't they have shields, if they have swords? Those will defend against projectiles.

pg 13: "And then Petro stumbled and fell forward."
--lol

pg 14: "In the field, if you make a mistake"
--isn't this...the field? I mean they're going after some unknown assailants in a canyon, after all.

 

On 2/27/2017 at 5:05 PM, Robinski said:

is this part of the same story of Gem of Worlds?

I was wondering this too. I don't see any connection between the two chapters.

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Thanks to you all for reading, asking questions and making comments.  

I reflect on these comments quite a bit and make notes on where things are coming through, and where they aren't. 

Chapter one and two are separated by about four years in time.  Originally, Chapter 1 was going to be my prologue, and chapter 2 my chapter 1.  But moving forward they will switch places.  Raiders will be the prologue, and Chapter 1 will be Gem of Worlds.  

Like any good fantasy, you are going to see some strange things in this world.  @industrialistdragon caught on to the post-apocalyptic vibe a bit. Only, this apocalypse happens about a hundred years after Rome conquers Greece.  Mind you, it's not out Rome or our Greece, but that is the world I'm playing inside of.  The world's population plummeted, and one empire survived a theocracy and, barely.  No one but the army or agents of the Empire are allowed the carry swords, and projectile weapons are only making a comeback.  You're going to see prejudices, non-standard heroes struggling with addiction, pedophilia, ambition, ambivalence, asexuality and faith. But it all starts off in an insulated country that has enjoyed centuries of privilege, peace, and indoctrination.

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the dirt pad doesn't leave bruises? Is it loose dirt or packed? I get bruises from falling on dirt for sure

I think I may remove this from the chapter altogether. But, I think this paragraph indicates that his shoulder will bruise unlike when they trained at Landon's place.  

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'the thing part' is a little too oblique for my tastes. Could we get maybe one more sentence around it? Body part? Stray animal attached somehow? Armor?

 

Would you explain oblique? I'm not familiar with that term in this context. 

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pg 1: "Farm. Fence. Farm. The two landmarks..."
--Is his Uncle spinning him around in a circle by his foot? That's the only thing I can think of here. In any case, having some trouble on the blocking in the first paragraph.

 

Yup.  That is what is happening.  Do you have a suggestion that would clarify the blocking?

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  •  And what has ‘girl’ got to do with anything? The first time they use the word it comes from nowhere and I can’t make sense of it.

     

  • As the situation develops, I get confused about why the rider came to get Lan, why Lan wasn’t with them in the first place. I don’t get the dynamic of the situation. I don’t feel I've been given enough set-up.
 

This point came up a few times.  I will clarify this in my next run.  The report indicates a girl was abducted by the raiders, and Landon is trying to get her back/apprehend the raiders. 

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I would seriously try and drop some of the names/uncles and use he’s or alternate names and hes, because it sounds clumsy.

Yup.  I'll do that. 

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The set-up is confusing. I don’t know why anyone is doing anything, so it makes it hard to follow, and therefore impossible to get invested in the situation. That really needs attention. If I don’t know why anyone is doing what they are doing, I'm going to lose interest real quick

 

You want to know why Landon is called upon, instead of the soldiers handling it themselves? If I clarify that, will it help you engage?

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59 minutes ago, M.Puddles said:

Would you explain oblique? I'm not familiar with that term in this context. 

Normally with teasers like this, there is at least some context. This one has no context, so I am likely to forget it altogether, as it doesn't hold my attention. Even just one more sentence or even an adjective alluding to it would be helpful.

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Hello! Hopefully some late comments will still be helpful.

This chapter didn’t grab me. It might be because it felt too familiar — a boy being trained by a master fighter — but I don’t mind that trope so much in and of itself. I think I like stories best when they have a character element, and Pet’s relationship with his uncle didn’t have enough meat to grab me, yet. Right now it all seems very professional, very student-teacher, and since they’re related, I’d expect a bit more. But the other commenters noted some other reasons that the chapter lacks the "grabbiness" you might want.

Some specifics:

The opening paragraph confused me as well. I see from the comments that you were trying to describe someone getting swung around by their foot. I suppose part of my confusion was that I'm not sure how that would come about -- it seems like the uncle would only be doing it to show off to the kid, not because it would actually make sense in a fight. I think it would be really hard to swing a 12 year old around by his foot! Then again, maybe the uncle is showing off.

His uncle hoisted Petro to his feet effortlessly, and Petro grunted as he came down hard.
Not sure what happened -- did his uncle drop him?

On February 27, 2017 at 10:12 PM, industrialistDragon said:

I expected P to be older than just 12. Huh.  (Note from future me: you do a good job of cementing his age later, he just seemed older at first!)

I felt the same way.

“Are you certain they only have the one girl? It would be tragic to go in there thinking they only had one.”
What is this about? Did I miss something? Was there a kidnapping? And why would it be tragic to just save one girl?

"Abem opened his mouth, but the old soldier waved his hand at him and said,"
The conversation gets repetitive by the end. Maybe it's not un-realistic to be repetitive, but it makes for slow reading.

The two guards start to blend together a bit for me.

“He’s going to be a heck of a Paladar someday, eh Abem?” “I have to admit, Gandar.  I can see why the Paladar wanted his help.”
Love this part. :lol:

After section break -- so we're skipping forward in time a bit? I think you could make this clearer at the beginning of the paragraph, rather than the end.

the smooth clay skin of the signal stones his uncle had left him was still there.
We're a little late in the chapter for us to have not known about this before, I think.

That's all I got! You've got a good start, it could just use some punching up in places.

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