Jorville

Reading Excuses- 20180924- Grathgar's story- prologue- 2444 words- Jorville

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So, got something new for everyone. As the subject line implies this is a prologue to a different story that is a work in progress. As is the title, though its so original that I might keep it:P. Grathgar is not featured in this scene at all.

This takes place is in the Citadel, the home of the Pure. These are the gods of humanity. They are under attack by an unknown enemy and their leader is missing. Sheil, the god of justice has take the role as leader. They are trying their hardest but they are fighting a loosing battle and having trouble admitting as much to themselves. It begins as they are holding a council meeting.
 
The second part I added recently, around a few days ago because I felt that it wasn't really finished the way it was. This scene doesn't hold a lot of action. there is a little bit of tension but I am worried it is too boring. As always the help is appreciated.
 
Thanks, J
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Well, I'm interested! This is a good starting hook, though I'm a sucker for stories about gods. The "god to mortal body" has been done before, but this has potential, if done well.

I'll put in the standard warning about prologues, which I'm sure the others will echo. They're out of favor, at the moment. Is there a reason this can't just be chapter 1? (i.e. does the next chapter take place a long time afterward? if not, you could probably make it Ch 1.)


Notes while reading:
pg 1: "Even V, he spoke out because he would not be true to himself if he didn’t. "
--confusing sentence. I'm not sure who Sh. is refering to.

Comma usage still has some problems.
For Example:
“I follow your wisdom S, you have never failed us.” 
G. looked at him for a long moment, as though really weighing the decision, she was a free thinker. 

pg 2: Is Sh. the goddess of mercy? I'm not sure from your descriptions.

pg 2: "F. didn’t know, but Sh. thought about it often. It was something he would never tell the others."
--what is it that is hidden? It's unclear from your wording.

pg 2: "Sh. narrowed his eyes sharply."
--wait, Sh. is male? I thought female, from the previous descriptions. Or maybe I'm getting confused with someone else's description. I think this needs some clarification.

pg 3: "The God of Honor"
--ah, this is Sh.'s desgnation. I've been confused up until now.

pg 4: "Confrontation didn’t come easily to F. She would much rather provide support and healing."
--ok, I think F. and Sh. are the ones I got confused at the beginning.

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21 hours ago, Mandamon said:

Well, I'm interested! This is a good starting hook, though I'm a sucker for stories about gods. The "god to mortal body" has been done before, but this has potential, if done well.

I'll put in the standard warning about prologues, which I'm sure the others will echo. They're out of favor, at the moment. Is there a reason this can't just be chapter 1? (i.e. does the next chapter take place a long time afterward? if not, you could probably make it Ch 1.)

So this may be a little misleading. I remember a episode of Writing Excuses where I think it was Howard said "If you have a prologue and it involves your main character, why isn't it chapter one?" That one has really stuck with me. None of the characters in the prologue(with the exception of K, and that is really a bit part) do I plan to appear in this book. I supposed that it would eventually be close to a "god in mortal body" story but its not quite that.

21 hours ago, Mandamon said:

pg 1: "Even V, he spoke out because he would not be true to himself if he didn’t. "

--confusing sentence. I'm not sure who Sh. is refering to.

I see what you mean, I will take another look at the phrasing here.

21 hours ago, Mandamon said:

Comma usage still has some problems.

For Example:
“I follow your wisdom S, you have never failed us.” 
G. looked at him for a long moment, as though really weighing the decision, she was a free thinker. 

Yeah, I tend to have issues with comma usage. Its one of those thing I keep telling myself to look into and get a better understanding but playing video games holds much more potential fun.:P

21 hours ago, Mandamon said:

pg 2: Is Sh. the goddess of mercy? I'm not sure from your descriptions.

pg 2: "Sh. narrowed his eyes sharply."

--wait, Sh. is male? I thought female, from the previous descriptions. Or maybe I'm getting confused with someone else's description. I think this needs some clarification.

pg 3: "The God of Honor"
--ah, this is Sh.'s desgnation. I've been confused up until now.

pg 4: "Confrontation didn’t come easily to F. She would much rather provide support and healing."
--ok, I think F. and Sh. are the ones I got confused at the beginning.

hmmm, I will take a long look at this to try and clear of confusion. I have a notation file with all the human gods in it and a brief description. Each god has a primary trait and two sub traits that are taken from human ideals. For example Sh. Justice, Honor, and Wisdom. F is Mercy, Compassion, and Empathy. I was trying not to be info dumpy here and it seems I have made things unclear. 

Thanks for the feedback @Mandamon. It wasn't easy for me to see the confusion since I'm the one writing it.

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Hi! Welcome back. I'm sure others will say this too, but prologues aren't fashionable anymore. If it needs to be there, it's chapter 1. Otherwise cut it if you're thinking of someday sending this to an agent. If you're writing just for you, then go for it!

Overall

So as backstory goes, I think it's fine. I think you could easily integrate this into your main chapters, however, without losing anything. Right now its fairly cliche and needs something to make it really stand out. But as a draft goes it's got reasonable bones. I think edits will really shine it up.

As I Go

- These first three paragraphs have a lot of generic stock movie phrases in them. This is reading a bit more like a D&D campaign right now than a novel. But first draft, so no worries. You can clean it up later.

- page 2: I'll caution the on the overuse of women for 'mercy' type roles, and men for 'aggression' type roles. Unless there is some reason you have assigned the characters this way, I'd suggest switching it up. 

- page 2: random aside, but in the Highlander TV series, the villains names predominantly started with a 'K'. That was the first thing I thought when Kyper showed up here

- gods reborn as humans is a fairly common trope. Not that there is anything wrong with it! Just note going forward that you might want to see if you can turn it on its head a bit

- Fallani only wanting to provide support and healing is another fall into the 'women are nurturing and men are aggressive' fallacy we've got going on. Once was an eyebrow raise. Twice is a frown. Three will get you a Marge Simpson grumble.

- I think the apple imagery with the trickster might be a little heavy handed with the Adam and Eve parallels

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5 hours ago, kais said:

So as backstory goes, I think it's fine. I think you could easily integrate this into your main chapters, however, without losing anything. Right now its fairly cliche and needs something to make it really stand out. But as a draft goes it's got reasonable bones. I think edits will really shine it up.

Thanks, I appreciate that. I understand  that it may be cliché and honestly I am not that surprised. I think that when you deal with gods and such that it kind of lends itself that way.

5 hours ago, kais said:

- These first three paragraphs have a lot of generic stock movie phrases in them. This is reading a bit more like a D&D campaign right now than a novel. But first draft, so no worries. You can clean it up later.

I was going for grandiose, I am not sure what you mean by "Stock movie phrases." if you could identify an example that would help me make them more original.

5 hours ago, kais said:

- page 2: I'll caution the on the overuse of women for 'mercy' type roles, and men for 'aggression' type roles. Unless there is some reason you have assigned the characters this way, I'd suggest switching it up. 

- Fallani only wanting to provide support and healing is another fall into the 'women are nurturing and men are aggressive' fallacy we've got going on. Once was an eyebrow raise. Twice is a frown. Three will get you a Marge Simpson grumble.

There is a reason it is this way. Though not necessarily part of this story there is some deeper interplay with the gods than it may seem on the surface.

5 hours ago, kais said:

- page 2: random aside, but in the Highlander TV series, the villains names predominantly started with a 'K'. That was the first thing I thought when Kyper showed up here

lol, I will have to take a look at that. I don't remember the show well enough. K isn't a villain though.

5 hours ago, kais said:

- I think the apple imagery with the trickster might be a little heavy handed with the Adam and Eve parallels

haha, I didn't even think of that. one of K's hallmarks is his irreverence for everything. I felt having him talking around bites of apple was a way to do that. I choose apple because I like apples, they are delicious and good for your teeth. :D

 

5 hours ago, kais said:

- gods reborn as humans is a fairly common trope. Not that there is anything wrong with it! Just note going forward that you might want to see if you can turn it on its head a bit

This is not a god reborn as human story. With the exception of K(he has a bit role later on) all these gods will not appear in the actual story.

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Wow, seems like an absolute age since I had any critiquing to do. Excuse me if I'm a bit rusty.

I'm not 100% clear in the first paragraph whether these characters are the ones under siege, or doing the besieging. I think the word 'overrun' is probably the only hint that they are the ones under siege.

You say that that 'Mal' (typo in the first paragraph), will overrun them, but then say the Mal haven't shown themselves, so I'm confused who or what actually makes up the hordes. Also, is Val the god of two different things, Boldness and Heroism? Not really clear on that.

We're three paragraphs in before I knew that there are any other parties there. Also, I know I'm going to forget their names.

It sounds like the actual landmass appears: what actually appears is some kind of representation of the landmass, I presume?

I don't really see how this other option works if the gods are besieged. I guess maybe I'm going to find out. Also, these other gods, with the possible exception of Val, seem like 'straw men', rather one dimensionally shallow, incapable of discussing or debating the issues at hand, but just rolling over to whatever is put to them. They seem very passive for gods.

The punctuation is off the mark in several places, mostly around the dialogue, I think. [e.g. “You are all too afraid to see.” The goddess said as she left the council room.] > [...afraid to see," the goddess said...]

The phrase 'top priority' is very modern and threw me out of the pseudo-ancient tone of the setting/set up.

Some of the phrasing is rather repetitive. The have been one or two examples of word repetition (in close proximity) which I always find jarring. This latest example made me wish to comment however, because it's very blatant. 'She' waves his hand to dismiss the image, then 'Ky' waves his hand dismissively. Sounds very awkward to me, stylistically.

There's pretty comprehensive lack of consistency in capitalising god/God of whatever/Whatever. Quite distracting.

'the Big Guy' feels like another anachronistic modern phrase. It leads to me struggling rather with the tone.

[“And I am sure you will give this to us out of the kindness in your heart.” He said with no little sarcasm.] - Seems to me the tag here is redundant: you've already shown in the dialogue, no need to tell again in the tag.

Ooh, I have whiplash from how quickly 'She' accepts the dubious gift. His initial doubt and suspicion are good, but he just folds instantly when 'Ky' promises not to double-cross him. That seems unconvincing to me. I mean, he's called the GoM, for goodness sake. Would you take Loki's word for anything?

What? I'm confused. 'The Was'? I had to read that three times and I still don't get it. I'm willing to bet that every single reader who reads this will get stuck on that. Even disregarding the name, the grammar is awkward there; the bit about the box disappearing, but the stuff is still there (I think).

Confused about what 'Fall' is saying. So, does this mean she set the whole exchange up?

'Crunch' doesn't work. It sounds--suddenly and out of nowhere--like a transcript of a comic book. For one thing, if you're going to use it, I think you need to put it in brackets of some kind, but really it feels all wrong to me, completely out of place.

Why is 'Ky' not one of them? He's a god. I don't really follow the logic here.

Grammar in the penultimate paragraph needs work.

Summary

The set up of the characters is a bit predictable; the irreverent black sheep; the affronted establishment; the disappointed conscience of the group. Their situation too, I think could be presented more colourfully and engagingly. I don't have the answer to that, but just felt it was rather dry and conventional, and I didn't really feel any peril, or much sense of the stakes. I wanted a much greater sense of desperation / end of the world, but I'm really not getting that. We're told it's the end of the world, but I don't feel it, and that leads to me not really caring what the outcome is. 

I really only got more engaged when 'Ky' appeared and the exchange with 'She' kicked off. For me, that's where the conflict starts and things become a bit more intriguing, but still it's another story where the fate of humankind is at stake. The end of everything is a lot less personal than a lot of other smaller stakes, so I think this type of story needs to work a lot harder to personalise the stakes to remain engaging.

In summary, I'm on the fence, but not especially hooked so far by the idea, or the characters apart from 'Ky', who at least has some sass about him.

<R>

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21 hours ago, Robinski said:

I'm not 100% clear in the first paragraph whether these characters are the ones under siege, or doing the besieging. I think the word 'overrun' is probably the only hint that they are the ones under siege.

I see what you mean. Gonna take a look and change the wording see if I can make that more clear.

21 hours ago, Robinski said:

You say that that 'Mal' (typo in the first paragraph), will overrun them, but then say the Mal haven't shown themselves, so I'm confused who or what actually makes up the hordes. Also, is Val the god of two different things, Boldness and Heroism? Not really clear on that.

They are assuming who it is. they really don't know. I am being vague on purpose, but I will take a look and see what I can to give more description if you think its a good idea. So the gods each have a primary trait and two sub traits V is specifically the god of valiance, decisiveness, and heroism. Each god follows the same format. I didn't want to try to explain all that as I felt it would be too info dumpy.

21 hours ago, Robinski said:

We're three paragraphs in before I knew that there are any other parties there. Also, I know I'm going to forget their names.

Yeah I see you point, definitely should put that in the description sooner.

21 hours ago, Robinski said:

It sounds like the actual landmass appears: what actually appears is some kind of representation of the landmass, I presume?

Yes, I will try to make that more clear.

21 hours ago, Robinski said:

I don't really see how this other option works if the gods are besieged. I guess maybe I'm going to find out. Also, these other gods, with the possible exception of Val, seem like 'straw men', rather one dimensionally shallow, incapable of discussing or debating the issues at hand, but just rolling over to whatever is put to them. They seem very passive for gods.

So, breaking the siege isn't really F's point. She just wants to help humanity. She isn't suggesting a course of action to break the siege. Regarding the depth of the others, I understand what you are saying but I didn't want to make this too long and give them a lot of 'Air time' in order to give them some more depth.  you think that that is necessary?

21 hours ago, Robinski said:

The punctuation is off the mark in several places, mostly around the dialogue, I think. [e.g. “You are all too afraid to see.” The goddess said as she left the council room.] > [...afraid to see," the goddess said...]

Some of the phrasing is rather repetitive. The have been one or two examples of word repetition (in close proximity) which I always find jarring. This latest example made me wish to comment however, because it's very blatant. 'She' waves his hand to dismiss the image, then 'Ky' waves his hand dismissively. Sounds very awkward to me, stylistically.

There's pretty comprehensive lack of consistency in capitalising god/God of whatever/Whatever. Quite distracting.

[“And I am sure you will give this to us out of the kindness in your heart.” He said with no little sarcasm.] - Seems to me the tag here is redundant: you've already shown in the dialogue, no need to tell again in the tag.

All good points. I haven't really done a lot of looking over for those things. I will adjust that when I go through for other things. I will say I kept forgetting to not capitalize god in this situation. I had to go back and change that many times so its natural that I misses several.

21 hours ago, Robinski said:

The phrase 'top priority' is very modern and threw me out of the pseudo-ancient tone of the setting/set up.

'the Big Guy' feels like another anachronistic modern phrase. It leads to me struggling rather with the tone.

I will be honest here, I used 'top priority' because I couldn't think of another word to use. I did put it in there thinking I was going to change that when I found a better way to say that. As far as Ky's use of the phrase it is intentional. I am having trouble with the words to explain him right now but I have a more full spectrum view of him. I know that really doesn't address your issue but I think its appropriate.

21 hours ago, Robinski said:

Ooh, I have whiplash from how quickly 'She' accepts the dubious gift. His initial doubt and suspicion are good, but he just folds instantly when 'Ky' promises not to double-cross him. That seems unconvincing to me. I mean, he's called the GoM, for goodness sake. Would you take Loki's word for anything?

You have a good point. The truth is that he's desperate for a way out and the offering makes that easy due to its relative power.  When you're up against a wall and someone gives you a way out then its hard for you not to take it.

21 hours ago, Robinski said:

What? I'm confused. 'The Was'? I had to read that three times and I still don't get it. I'm willing to bet that every single reader who reads this will get stuck on that. Even disregarding the name, the grammar is awkward there; the bit about the box disappearing, but the stuff is still there (I think).

So its the baseline creation force of the universe. I'll try to clear up the awkward phrasing though. 

21 hours ago, Robinski said:

Confused about what 'Fall' is saying. So, does this mean she set the whole exchange up?

Yes, I read that again and agree that it sounds weird. going to see what I can do clear that up.

22 hours ago, Robinski said:

'Crunch' doesn't work. It sounds--suddenly and out of nowhere--like a transcript of a comic book. For one thing, if you're going to use it, I think you need to put it in brackets of some kind, but really it feels all wrong to me, completely out of place.

I am going for a jarring irreverent feel whenever Ky comes in. That's him taking the bite out of the apple I am not sure how to keep it short and sudden without doing something like that. Do you have a suggestion?

22 hours ago, Robinski said:

Why is 'Ky' not one of them? He's a god. I don't really follow the logic here.

So, isn't one of the 7 gods that make up group that we focus on here. However all the gods follow an aspect or ideal of humanity and Ky is part of that broader spectrum.

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13 hours ago, Jorville said:

Each god follows the same format. I didn't want to try to explain all that as I felt it would be too info dumpy.

Definitely! It does make it difficult to track going forward when you only mention one trait.

13 hours ago, Jorville said:

I didn't want to make this too long and give them a lot of 'Air time' in order to give them some more depth.  you think that that is necessary?

I think that's the correct approach, but by listing them out by name you sort of invite the reader to remember them, and tend to imply that they'll have roles, and then they don't. I would suggest trying a pass at the scene where you cut down the number that you name, and try and mention as few of them as possible, while still making it clear that there are eight (?) beings in the room. That way, we can focus on the speaking characters. I appreciate that there are a handful who speak, but I think the scene could be tighter if it was more focused.

13 hours ago, Jorville said:

I haven't really done a lot of looking over for those things. I will adjust that when I go through for other things. I will say I kept forgetting to not capitalize god in this situation. I had to go back and change that many times so its natural that I misses several.

Ah-ha; #searchandreplace ;) You're right, of course. I'm always hard on that stuff, because I'm the opposite, I can't leave or submit something if I haven't poured over it and eliminated all the little coloured squiggles that W*rd kindly scatters through my document like Webster's freakin' Easter Bunny. This stuff does slow me down and tug me out of the story, but I must do better at remembering this is draft land.

14 hours ago, Jorville said:

I will be honest here, I used 'top priority' because I couldn't think of another word to use. I did put it in there thinking I was going to change that when I found a better way to say that. As far as Ky's use of the phrase it is intentional. I am having trouble with the words to explain him right now but I have a more full spectrum view of him. I know that really doesn't address your issue but I think its appropriate.

That's fair comment; say no more. As far as Ky goes, I would have no problem with him being a 'being out of time' as it were, if you hung a lantern on it by say having a thought from She to the effect of 'He wished the god of mischief would speak properly and not constantly resort to crude human idioms as he always seemed to find it necessary to do.'

But, having said that, this only works if those idioms fit with your setting on Earth.

14 hours ago, Jorville said:

The truth is that he's desperate for a way out and the offering makes that easy due to its relative power.

I didn't quite feel the desperation from She's thought process, hence the whiplash, I suppose.

14 hours ago, Jorville said:

So its the baseline creation force of the universe.

I sort of got that, but why choose a word that is the same as a very common word in English? That's going to throw a lot of readers (like me!) every time it comes up. It's like calling the essence of your universe 'and'. It seems to me to have huge potential for confusion every time it comes up.

14 hours ago, Jorville said:

I am going for a jarring irreverent feel whenever Ky comes in.

Fair enough, but I'm too busy 'raging' about the grammatical anomaly to keep reading :lol: Maybe I could buy it once the whole piece was polished and refined.

14 hours ago, Jorville said:

So, isn't one of the 7 gods that make up group that we focus on here. However all the gods follow an aspect or ideal of humanity and Ky is part of that broader spectrum.

Right, but it's not laid out what that core group is and that it only has 7 members by edict, or whatever. It's not defined, which is why I couldn't see specifically how he wasn't one of them.

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3 minutes ago, Robinski said:

Right, but it's not laid out what that core group is and that it only has 7 members by edict, or whatever. It's not defined, which is why I couldn't see specifically how he wasn't one of them.

Yeah, going over it again I see that. I made reference to their main antagonists but I forgot to really showcase them as their own group. lot of other good point that you went over here as well. Also I am still being lazy about sending my critiques on AK for you, I promise I will get to that soon :P.

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On 02/10/2018 at 7:57 AM, Jorville said:

Yeah, going over it again I see that. I made reference to their main antagonists but I forgot to really showcase them as their own group. lot of other good point that you went over here as well. Also I am still being lazy about sending my critiques on AK for you, I promise I will get to that soon :P.

No worries, I'm still toiling over the last section, which is often a bit of a struggle for me. And I keep having all these ideas for my SF series that I want to go back to, but I need to finish this novella first, then edit it while it's still fresh. Oh well, Nano is coming...

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