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The Kraken's Daughter

20190616--The Kraken's Daughter--The Oneirophage Part 1--4200 (V)

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Hi all,

This is the comment/critique thread for Part 1 of "The Oneirophage," a heroic fantasy novelette. There will be two parts in total.


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Hi @The Kraken's Daughter!

I enjoyed this submission. You have a real natural (as in it feels natural when reading it) grasp of pacing/progression and story structure and your prose flow very smoothly. In my opinion these are the the absolute hardest part to get down when it comes to writing. My biggest failing is structure, so I'm not a little bit jealous.

My page by page comments are from a cold read as I go so keep that in mind.

Sea monster. Cool.
I want to see what this list of hers looks like on the page. Would help with character build.

For some reason calling these people "friends" seems forced.
Not a fan of magicked-up.

I like that you open up with the mystery of the sea monster and A on the hunt, but as of right now this first section almost feels superfluous. A doesn't pop off the page enough to carry the scene. We need a bigger hook, something that puts me in her head.

So, what you're saying is that... he's smarter than the average boar?
Why does nobody else stick around? Seems off.

"But as I said, you have already heard the story." Ok considering how adamant Kr was on page 2 about this guy's story, this is really really disappointing.

I'm not so sure about the word frills here. I'm picturing a Gyrados.

I'm not convinced by R's story and I'm not sure why A does buy it. Does she know something we don't? There should at least be one very specific detail that stands out to her (and to us) that convinces her.

This dream is very specific. Is it more of a vision? Or just a flashback?

"...but she had never before shown any interest..." Wait how long has she been on this ship? Time jump?

“I just don’t see why you’re willing to put your whole scheme in danger just for—” This is a good intro to conflict but it's coming a bit late.
P-e-r-r-i-n will always be a WOT name to me.

"The sky was glorious." Cut this and go straight into the description, which is glorious. I'd like to see more description like this throughout.

"And why would your second mate let something slip about a plot?" - I like that the slip may have been intentional and that A picks up on it.

I like that he lied about the route. This is a good building moment.
“H just doesn’t see it that way, is all." I'm disappointed that the first hint of real tension is resolved so easily.

"Can I kill such a magnificent creature?" - Boom. There it is. I knew you'd hit us with it eventually, but this is the hook that needs to happen up in the very first section.

So 1] This straight up flash back makes me dislike how the previous one is set up like a dream. 2] I like that it adds a level to the character and world that has desperately been missing up to this point. But 3] It doesn't flow as well as the current day plot line.
"unwise to stare at shadows during the spirit hour" Tell us why.

So this is a good mid point but there are definitely some things missing, primarily tension. I feel no threat from the monster or the crew. 

Despite the lack of conflict I never found myself wanting to skim. I actually really like how you handle A's attractiveness. It feels natural rather than forced and would like to see more hints about this. A definitely needs to pop off the page more. Introducing her quest to kill the monster on page one I think will help with this greatly. 

Thank you for submitting! Looking forward to the next part.


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Generally, I like the story. The pacing worked for the most part and once I got the motivation, the story went well. However, I would like a lot more description, as I don't really know what anyone looks like, and that motivation piece needs to be on page one or two. 

The story also is a tad generic, and so I wonder what makes it stand apart? Why should people read this sea monster story and not, say Into the Drowning Deep? What makes this story stand out? What is unique about it?

Definitely interested enough to read part II though.


As I go

- pg 1: the sea monster is a decent hook, the taverns are not. Maybe invert the first paragraph?

- pg 5: the wonder of the sea monster chase was enough to get me through the first five pages, but now it's hard not to skim. I want to know why our lead wants to find this monster, and what the stakes are

- pg 7: the 'don't want to sleep with you' line was the first time I got any sense of voice from the protag

- pg 9: I don't know what the gambling here adds to the story. It slows down the tension. I want to get to the sea monster!

- pg 11: so protag wants to see the serpent because excitement? That's it?

- pg 12: AH the motivation finally! This comes far too late in the story. In order to get a hook and reader interest, this motivation needs to be MUCH sooner



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On 6/16/2019 at 10:54 PM, The Kraken's Daughter said:

There will be two parts in total.

Oh wow. I was under the impression this was going to be a Moby Dick-style novel! Especially with all the buildup at the beginning, I feel like there's way too much introduction for a story of this length.

Like the others, the "thesis" of the story comes in page 12, far too late. For a story this short, we need it in the opening paragraph to let us know why we're even reading. All the wandering around looking for clues seems very long for such a short work. I'm wondering if the next section will have enough content of chasing and fighting the monster to make it worthwhile.

[Prescriptive, so ignore if you wish] Overall, this was written well, but I didn't really feel a connection with the characters. I think you could introduce your concept of "kill a leviathan to save her person" very early on, skip a lot of the searching for clues, and get right into character building between A and Captain R. [End Prescriptive]


Notes while reading:

pg 2: So far this is kind of interesting, but nothing really hooks me. 

pg 5: The switch to italics is strange. Is this A's POV or the story from the other man?

pg 6: I guess that was the captain's story? Why is it not just in quotes?

pg 7: confused again by the italics. What does this have to do with anything?

pg 9: H's objections at least give some emotion to the story, but so far I haven't connected to any of the characters. I don't know anything about them.

pg 11: “But if we’re traveling the southern route now, you aren’t taking advantage of that.”
--very confused. He told them the serpent was noth, so most people are south. But that's where the serpent actually is. Then he also goes south to find it...and A accuses him on not taking advantage of going North? I'm really not sure what's going on.

pg 12: "Can I kill such a magnificent creature?"
Finally, a motivation. This is the most interesting thing in the story so far. Lead with this!

pg 12: Annnd back to story italics. I'm really not sure how this connects to the story. Is the O-phage the same as the leviathan?

pg 14: "I know you don’t want to, but if we come across the serpent again, we have to kill it.”
--Ok, so the crew and A are on the same page. Sounds like she could have just stepped forward and said "I want to kill it too. Let's work together."

pg 15: Well, she is asking now, so that's good.


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Excited to read something new on the site. The title intrigues me, as I'm not sure what that O word means. I think I know, but decided not to look it up, but let you reveal the meaning to me instead :) 

(page 1)

-The word 'tavern' makes me nervous, because every single fantasy book I read seems to have a tavern in it (I know they don't, but you get my point). However, it's an intriguing and nicely written first line, and it's not about the tavern, so I'm on board!

-"complicated explanation" - I love this line. I've heard it before, but it just fits so well, but I think it's indicative of the overall tone and I think your style is very engaging. The little details you use to sketch characters are very involving. I like it.

(page 2)

-"other man had the right of it" - when you use Kra, but to tag the other man (not Kra, but his companion), then you have Adr refer to 'the other man', I'm left confused which one it is she agrees with.

(page 3)

-I enjoyed her eavesdropping and following up clues. I'm not clear yet what her agenda is but I'm happy enough to go along with the intrigue for now. I'm not 100% on what it is she's tallying. Is it number of times people mention the beast? It can't be the number who remember and the number who don't, because there were multiple rallies against individuals. I'm okay to go with it for now, but I hope to learn something soon.

-Very interesting. I'm getting sense that she has started this rumour to keep people away from a particular area, but I'm prone to following more complicated and unlikely threads (and writing them too, I'm afraid, when I should keep it more solidly 

(page 4)

-Ah, I wonder if she's trying to scare people into going by road so her confederates can rob the wagon trains? I'm probably way off base. 

-Or maybe she is simply researching, which is cool, and more plausible. 

-I like the attention to detail in her analysis of the man.

(page 5)

- "You wanted to know how much of my story is true?" - Ha-ha, I like this line. I'll admit it puts in mind of The Name of the Wind, but it's no less good for that.

- "firelight shone..." - great line, love the warmth of the description.

- "he would later attribute..." - He being the captain, right?

(page 6)

- "didn't seem to have any interest in the ship" - Not sure I buy this assessment, since the creature was 'buzzing' the ship for a period of time, making several passes.

- "captain's wistful tone" - Wait a second, the man in the tavern is the captain of the ship? that was not indicated before now. Either there's some unclear here, or something was not mentioned previously.

- While I like the exchange they have when he gets up to leave, there's no indication that he has any interest in her, in that way, prior his line about sharing his bed. I'm not saying he should be leering at her through their discussion, that would be bad, but I did not take him for this kind of man at any time in their encounter. I hint would have made this sudden turn of events easier to believe.

(page 7)

- Good strong closing line for the scene. I'd class this as 'out early'*, which is good.

- "rucksack" struck me as a modern word. I don't know how modern a word it is, but I strikes me that it's usage is quite modern (1930,40,50's onwards?). I did take me out of the story slightly.

(* as in the adage 'In late, our early', good advice in constructing a scene.)

(page 8)

- Ooh, we come out of Ad's dream very suddenly. Now, that's how dreams work, I'd accept that, still left me wanting more. Good! Definitely intrigued by the young man, and what this dream reveals about Ad's past, and why she's pursuing such creatures in the present. good work.

- "swallowed the deck" - fantastic line. I love that sometimes in description you pick out a nice, juicy, unexpected image. I feel like I've been encountering a noticeable amount of cliche in narrative recently, so I am feeling refreshed reading your submission :) 

- "took his last three coins from him during the sixth hand" - I would think she really only takes in the coins at the end of the hand, when she wins it. I also I felt the narrative a bit jumpy here: I've hardly absorbed the fourth hand and we're finishing the sixth.

(page 9)

- "calling the maneuvres" - odd phrasing this time. Not sure I like this so much. Also, it's odd that Rav has been here this whole time, but isn't mention in the scene until he speaks. That strikes me as odd, as he is the captain, and the one that Ad knows best. Furthermore, the said there were 'four officers' in the room. To me, Rav is more than just another officer to be lumped in with the others. Maybe this is where it should be made clear that it's the captain and three officers, so we know Rav is in the room. Even so, it's rather odd that we hear nothing from him for six hands of cards.

- "pair of mountains crumbling" - I could see you describing the sea creature in such terms, but they seem rather weighting for a human, even a big man.

- "Per---" - Ooh, no. I'm going to stick my neck out and assume you haven't read Wheel of Time? This is the name of one of the three main characters in the whole fourteen book saga. It's verging on calling a character Samwise. Well, okay, I've exaggerated for dramatic effect, but I still think this name is inadvisable. A large percentage of fantasy fans will pause in their reading to start in astonishment at your hubris right here!! ;) 

(page 10)

- I'm not really feeling the significance of being a mage or not. Some people are mages, some aren't, but the ones who are hardly seemed to be treated any differently.

- The 'salamander' line confuses me. It seems out of context.

- "stay away from the northern route for a while" - Ah, ha! I strongly suspected that something like this was afoot!! :ph34r: 

(page 11)

- "returned to his position" - I really like how you show a little stand-off there between them, but did not draw any conscious attention to it. Very adroitly done, imo :) 

- "blue silk" - I don't think this simile is a strong as some of the others. Night sky looking like silk is a pretty common description. It's not bad just kind of unsurprising.

- Why are the palaces only kings'?

(page 12)

- Ooh, a hint of the reason behind all of this. Interesting.

(page 13)

- And then a pretty much complete reveal.

- Because there are some jumps in the story, when you say "narrow passage", I'm not immediately sure if it's on the ship, or somewhere else.

- Hmm, problem here. The bit with Ad thinking about Tan then Tan appears is awkward Why does she not think about Rav or Ham? Why identify Tan as they one who would think she was being weird? It seems like the only reason is for the author to gain a convenient introduction. Feel contrived to me just to be able to use the 'summoned' line.

(page 14)

- Good conflict around what to do with the monster, conflict between Tan and Rav, but also putting Tan in conflict with Ad. That's good.

- "He feels like your presence is a disruption." - This phrasing is vague and indecisive (first bit), and overcomplicated, I think, compared to something simpler like 'He thinks your presence is disruptive.'


Interesting. I thought this was very well written. I had almost nothing to comment on from a style and grammar point of view, which is always enjoyable, and makes it easier (for me) to appreciate the piece itself. I like how you sketched the characters. They are distinct and consistent (I think) without being knock-it-out-the-park dynamic. I think that's okay. It can be difficult to strike the balance between a caricature and solid, relatable character. There might be scope to tweak up a couple of the character elements here and there. I wouldn't mind seeing a bit more passion from Ad, especially when thinking of her beau, encounter a potential obstacle or even contemplating her potential success.

Nice work though. I'm very keen to read that second part!! :D 



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First off, I liked this one much better than the first one. It holds together better and so far seems to have a more focused plot.

That said, starting in a tavern with the protagonist overhearing stories is a very, very overused device and it made the start of the story very slow going for me. it picked up once the captain is introduced, but it slowed down again on the ship. Like the others, I feel like the purpose of the story comes too late and thus I have trouble figuring out what's going on until that point. 

All of these little disconnected scenes leave me with a very disjointed feel for the story. I had difficulty keeping track of the passage of time between jumps. By the end, I wasn't sure if I was reading a cohesive story or a collection of vignettes with a set of common characters. Not that collections of vignettes are inherently less that a cohesive story. They're fine, they're just not my thing and since I'm not quite sure what's going on, I'm not sure if the choppiness is inadvertent or intentional. 

The characters are agreeable enough; I don't dislike any of them, but I'm not particularly invested in anyone, either. they feel a bit bland to me, and while I'm fine with a little blandness, I don't know that it's something to be desired in all the characters. Likewise, the setting.  There's nothing that turned me off, but there's nothing that really set me afire with interest, either. The sea monster is nice, and I liked the little mentions of religion around the contract near the end, but I'm left feeling really neutral about this piece. 

It's not bad, it just didn't really catch and hold me.


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Hi Kraken's Daughter,

For some reason, when I transfer the doc from my e-mail to my Google drive, the format gets really messed up. So the pages are in printer order.

Overall, I liked this story, and am looking forward to part 2. I think you make pretty clear from the start what A (cool name, by the way) wants by showing her going around to the different pubs, listening to stories. Even if it's just research, I like the idea of a character collecting folklore. Her motivation is solid and believable, and the dialogue is fairly snappy and clear-cut. I think some of your transitions are a little abrupt, though; without any paragraph breaks, suddenly falling into these stories gives a slight case of whiplash. 

Sorry, brief critique. Liked it muchly. 

(page 1):

-"There were a number of taverns in the city of A, ranging from upscale establishments where nobles sipped fine wines from crystal glassesto dockside taprooms where sailors swigged beer from chipped mugs between brawls."—Added a comma.

(page 2):

-Every children's storybook talks about sea serpents.—Moved the apostrophe. Childrens' is used for when you're talking about a specific group of children.

(page 3):

-She ambled over to the group, acting as if she'd overheard them by chance.—This is my own personal suggestion for replacing 'trying to act.' As Yoda says, 'do, or do not. There is no try.' Saying she's trying implies she's failing.

(page 4): 

-“You already heard the story—don’t think I didn’t catch you eavesdropping."—Is it really eavesdropping if she was openly listening? 

(page 5-6):

I would either separate the story with visible paragraphs or tell it as ordinary dialogue, for flow's sake.

(page 5):

-She couldn't get a good look.—Who's the she in this case? The captain or the night watcher? 

(page 6):

-A raised her eyebrows at the captain's wistful tone.—Has he been identified as a captain by this point? If so, I've missed it.

(page 9):

-He pushed past P—Careful! That's a Wheel of Time character name. 

(page 13):

-A supposed a hardened sailor like Tandil would laugh at her for sneaking into the galley in the middle of the nightlooking for willow bark to chew.—Added a comma.

(page 15):

-"And what makes you think I'd go along with you asking us to do something different..."—Not sure why he's saying this. She hasn't asked anything of him yet. 



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Overall, I liked the concept and tone. The mc has good motives, and eventually, I learn that the stakes are high. However, I felt like it took too long for me to find out why it was so important for A to find the sea monster. I felt like the narration was very distant in the begining, which made it harder for me to engage with and becoming invested in the story. I wanted to know more about the main character, but I was getting less of that and more of the tale she was pursuing. 

On 6/20/2019 at 0:06 AM, kais said:

However, I would like a lot more description, as I don't really know what anyone looks like, and that motivation piece needs to be on page one or two. 


I agree -- I had a hard time picturing people, and I would've been more invested had I know why she was hunting the monster right from the start. It didn't work for me as a twist. I would've cared a lot more if I knew why from the first or second page. 

On 6/23/2019 at 8:23 PM, industrialistDragon said:

All of these little disconnected scenes leave me with a very disjointed feel for the story.

I had a similar experience reading this. 

I was also a little confused by all the italics. Sometimes they were A listening to someone tell a story, sometimes they were dreams, sometimes it was thoughts or something she read. I suggest you pick one thing to use the italics for. Dreams don't need italics. If someone is talking, just use quotes even if it is a long story. 


During the poker game, one of the crew blurts something about a scheme. That seemed forced to me. I didn't believe the crew member would say that in front of A. It would be more believable, and feel more like an earned bit of information had A found this out some other way because of something she did, not because of someone's mistake.

I am excited to see what happens next! 




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