Sir Robert

The Midas Gauntlet Sir Robert September 5 Chapter 3

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Hello all,

Chapter 3 - Tommy finds himself thrust headlong into a battle in this chapter. When he is reading he loves fights, battles and duels. Tommy finds that the real experience is quite different. Tommy struggles to survive the fighting and perhaps struggles even more when he must make the decision to kill or watch an injured man die. Mylva also re-enters the scene and joins Tommy in the fight. This is the last chapter in the book so we learn how Tommy is pulled back into his world as well

In chapter 2 Tommy continues his experience in the book world. He meets the great wolf chief Rendall and gains his first talent. At the end of the first chapter he finds himself on the edge of a battle and finds to his horror that he is in charge.

Chapter 1 Tommy Travers loves books, He doesn't have any friends, doesn't care about sports and doesn't bother with girls. At least not yet. When he turns fourteen is when it all started. As Tommy is reading his greatest wish is granted. He is pulled into the story and gets to meet the characters and live the adventures he has always dreamed about. His first experience is in People of the Plains, a book about a tribe of people who live with, and communicate with wolves. He is pulled in during the hunt of a great buck. Tommy gets to experience first hand the difference between reading and living an adventure.

Sir Robert

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The battle for the village and Tommy’s role could have been a really great way to create character conflict for Tommy (how he deals with his fear, the thought about dying in a book and never going home, dealing with shame if he should run away, etc) and to get the reader to root for him (he’s a fourteen year old bookworm caught in a barbaric battle far away from home). Unfortunately the chapter falls flat in that regard for the simple reason (and I don’t want to sound harsh) that I don’t believe the characters are real.

Take Tommy. You tell us he feels horror in one line, later that he’s a wimp, but nothing else makes me think he feels anything at all, like a robot he just observes and reacts. I don’t feel emotionally invested in a character who has no discernible emotions.

Despite finding himself in a book world Tommy is still a regular kid, and a regular kid doesn’t rush into battle or danger, they’d go the other way. Take soldiers and bodyguards for instance, it takes enormous training to overcome the body’s natural responses to danger, which is to get the hell out. People who overcome this instinct have a reason to do so, to save a loved one for instance, or to survive if fleeing isn’t an option. Tommy could have run the other way, he could have hidden in the village. He has no connection to the people around him, in fact, to him they aren’t even real. Why should he risk his life for them?

The other characters, let’s call them NPCs, also don’t react as people but as automatons. You need Feron to not react to the stalking painted man so Tommy can save him. You need the painted man to take his time and taunt his victims (in the middle of a battle) so Tommy can overcome his rather unbelievable hesitation. Nobody screams, but Feron can obviously talk and he can walk. But only after Tommy speaks to him after he’s rescued.

This also happens in the fight with Jubuska. Mylva kills one of the attackers and saves Tommy. She would have seen Jubuska when she saw Tommy in trouble. Yet after she kills one man she doesn’t act or notice Jubuska stalking her. Another moment for Tommy to save the day and rather easily at that. The whole fight was easy. Tommy may be in the body of Tamaska, but he’s still a child at heart. He doesn’t have the skills of the character Tamaska, he’s fourteen and he’s a bookworm. Yet he evades like a pro and takes down the better fighter.

When Tommy’s back home it’s like nothing happened, he’s very callous about the whole thing. It’s like you know Tommy should feel horrified after killing the painted man. So you have a line that says he feels bad, but the moment he’s away the death is out of his mind without any impact on his character at all. Same with rushing into battle. You have him think he’s afraid and then go on like he isn’t.

It also feels like Tommy thinks in terms of ‘we’, when he describes the villagers, too soon. He’s hardly been there a day. To him these characters are all fictional and they are going to get him killed with their pointless battle.

What I really miss in this story is believable characters, both Tommy and the side characters. The premise of the story can work, but the lack of believable characters, motivations, and actions really hampers it.

One thing you could do to show Tommy’s emotions is to modify the descriptions of the battle to reflect how he’s feeling. Right now the descriptions are clinical and detached from the main POV perspective. It’s like a newsreader is reporting on the battle, safe and far away from the danger, but Tommy is right there. Fourteen years old and in the middle of a battle, but his descriptions are bland instead of involved.

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Wow, again lots to think about here. I knew there were problems but sometimes you get too close to it to see them. This will help and I appreciate it. These first three chapters are my biggest issue so I will probably revamp and start from chapter one with my changes before continuing.

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Wow, again lots to think about here. I knew there were problems but sometimes you get too close to it to see them. This will help and I appreciate it. These first three chapters are my biggest issue so I will probably revamp and start from chapter one with my changes before continuing.

You could do that, I certainly know the feeling of wanting to rewrite right away after receiving critiques, but I’d advice against it.

You run the risk of falling into the trap of continuously rewriting the first chapter(s) and never get the book done. You rewrite the chapters, receive critiques, rewrite the chapters again, etc. The thing is that after finishing the draft you’ll want to edit the first chapters anyway, to add things like foreshadowing. Or to add a whole new character because 3/4 of the way through you realize you need a character and that character needs to be inserted in the first parts too. Depending on what you think of those edits might be significant rewrites too, which could undo your earlier rewrites altogether (making those a waste of time).

You can’t know what the starting chapters need until after you finish, even if you work from an outline you’ll still be changing things to suit the ending. So knowing that it’s better to first finish writing the first draft, taking notes of the changes you want to implement, and continue onward as if you’ve already made those changes.

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My manuscript is done so I am already in revising mode. My other beta readers have been too kind, they think I only want praise when what I really want is what I am getting here, hard analysis of problem areas of my story. I won't necessarily take all the suggestions offered here but these reviews are making me take a hard look at each chapter. I already re-wrote my first chapter and am very happy with it thanks in part to suggestions from you and others here.

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I'm going to have to second much of what Asmodemon said, with one condition. I have to know who your audience is. As I recall, kids like to read about characters a few years older than they are, so your audience would primarily be 12 year old boys, or there abouts. The fact that you call your character Tommy implies that it may be even younger. Asmodemon was correct, the description of the battle from Tommy's point of view was detached, but if you are aiming at an audience that is younger, a detached viewpoint allows you to describe the scene without all the blood and gore.

The problem is, your scene calls for blood and gore. Lots of it. The battle is brutal, and a namby-pamby kid in a brutal battle gets slaughtered if you are being realistic. Asmodemon addressed a lot of that already, so I won't go over it.

Other things, some related:

It's not until the second page that you mention that it is dark. This threw me. How is anyone seeing what is going on? Do people in this world love swinging swords and knives at people they can't see? Does everyone have the ability to see in the dark?

Watch your vagueness. This goes back to what I was talking about earlier, if you are really aiming at a younger audience, vagueness about what is happening is fine when you are trying not to convey mature content. If you are trying to show what is going on though, vagueness is your enemy. For example, when Tommy stabs the guy with the spear, you say that he could "feel the sensation" of it. What does that mean? Did it slide in like a knife in butter? Did it jar as he hit a bone? Did he get splinters from the spear? Did the spear get tugged out of his hands when the man's weight pulled on it as he fell?

So, yeah. I'm with Asmodemon on pretty much everything. Having Tommy not be detached will help, even if you aren't aiming at a younger audience, but what level of description you add in is entirely dependent on what you are trying to convey.

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I read both chapters 2 and 3, but I'll group them together a bit in my reply.

Adding on to what was well-covered by Asmodemon, the biggest difficulty I had was figuring out if Tommy is active or inactive in the book-world. For example, he starts off chapter 2 thinking "my wife", when he would probably think "Tamaska's wife", or "Reule's sister", or something like that. (BTW, am I reading that correctly that Mylva is pregnant?)

In your summary, you saw we learn how Tommy is pulled back into his own world, but I didn't learn anything for sure. The best I could saw is that it might have something to do with having his mom call him back? If you really want a reader to know how the mechanics work after this chapter is over, you may want to look at that while revising.

Also, I would go along with Asmodemon's comments on revising. If you feel you have to revise and have a solid idea of what needs changed (and what needs to stay), then I guess go for the next draft. I think I'd be wanting to see how a few more chapters went before looking back to the beginning again.

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Another aspect occurred to me this morning, which may or may not help you. I really couldn't mention any goal that Tommy is actively working toward. He doesn't want to die, but that doesn't seem to alter his choices any. Presumably, he wants out of the story, but he doesn't investigate or make any attempts to do so. It would be nice to have an overall goal that he is (consciously or not) working toward, outside the story. Not being picked on? Finding his father? Having unlimited reading time? What does he want, and what are the obstacles to it? Knowing that, I would probably be more interested in reading about him struggling with the obstacles and eventually overcoming them (or not).

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Better a late review than none. Sorry for the delay.

Looks like Asmodemon covered the topic at length. I'll second what he said.

The most disappointing for me was the battle depiction (I'll set aside the fact that I didn't believe a young boy would be in that battle). I wanted the scene to be strong, with strong emotional cues, but all I read was flat. I mean, when Cornwell describes a battle, you can actually smell the sweat (and urine, also). Here, I got nothing. Basically, you're describing the motions of combat, but not the actual sensations nor the character's feelings.

Were the villagers fighting a battle uphill (you say that they go down when retreating) and actually attacking? This is a very weak tactical position to do this, especially against greater numbers. Even with the wolves helping, they shouldn't have been able to win that easily.

As Asmodemon, I was very upset by Tommy's fighting skills. The boy should wet his pants and run the other way (I know I would). Instead, he kills a man with his spear (which he conveniently forgets to take with him after), and goes to fight two grown armed men with only his fists. Not even a scratch. Not a bruise even. Even for a trained fighters, this borders on the unbelievable, but for a little boy?

Finally, the chapter ending sort of threw me off. I feel like I've just hit a big reset button, like the 3 chapters I read have been for nothing. I'll see what happens in the next chapter, but having invested so much time in this story line, just to be woken up by mom is a big turn down.

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