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hawkedup

07/15/19 - Turn of Ages 00 - hawkedup - 2200 - LV

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Posted (edited)

Hey, guys. I've been doing a lot of tinkering with the format of The Turn of Ages based on your suggestions. I've messed with the timeline so that the book can start out with (at least) 5 Z chapters in a row before introducing some of the city elements of the story, but through Z's POV first.
 
Until then, though...
 
I've noticed is some apathy toward some of the world building elements, so I've been messing around with a possible prologue, which is what I submit to you now.
 
This is not complete, I have enough planned for at least 3 times this, but I'm loath to make a prologue any longer. I also don't want it to overshadow Z's story. Maybe it give it the interlude treatment with multiple parts? I dunno.
 
Do your thing!

PS - You don't have to have read the previous submissions to read this, but if you did you might notice R is Agent S's daughter.
Edited by hawkedup
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Honestly, I don't think this will add anything as a prologue, and may just dilute the story. It could work as an interlude, but again, I don't think I really learned anything from this that I didn't from reading the other chapters you submitted. Is this before the story starts? At the same time? Do any of these people feature in the story? There were soem big infodumps in here that could easily be shown in the other sections I've read.

I think starting with a few chapters of Z is a good idea and would bring across the concepts in this section just as easily without seeming forced.

17 hours ago, hawkedup said:

if you did you might notice R is Agent S's daughter.

Ah. I though that name sounded familiar.

17 hours ago, hawkedup said:

I've noticed is some apathy toward some of the world building elements

I really like the soul lanterns and the tech/magic mix. However, I think the apathy comes more from the way it's presented. Just having a worldbuilding element isn't interesting. Anyone can come up with a really cool idea. On the other hand, having a character that you are invested in make an amazing discovery about a worldbuilding element can really make a story snap. So I think readers will be more invested in the worldbuilding aspects once we have a good character to see them through, which in this case is probably Z.

 

Notes while reading:
pg 3: "This last was directed at the soldier..."
--I thought all the description after this was for T., not for this random soldier, who has so far gotten the most description of any character.

pg 4: "more afraid of what that might mean than the chance of a demon attack."
--Even after reading the stuff that comes after this, I'm not sure what this means. I still don't know anything about the soul lanterns, and I also don't know how bad a demon attack is, so the comparison at the moment doesn't mean much.

pg 5: "If the girl’s soul lantern really was gone, that meant she had become what was called a shadow..."
--ok, you explain here, but it's basically an infodump. Can this be shown instead?

pg 5: "R. knew the medic"
--We've been given a whole bunch of names already, and I don't think most of them are needed. We also get these strange long descriptions of random people. Does R. for some reason take notes on people's appearances?

pg 6: "though everyone knew "
...Bob.

pg 7: "we have seen in generations"
--using this term where people only live about 35 years is kind of confusing.

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3 hours ago, Mandamon said:

Is this before the story starts? At the same time?

With the new altered timeline, it's the same day as Z's first 3 chapters. It's before L's first chapter. This is the battle where General C last has his mind wiped.

3 hours ago, Mandamon said:

Do any of these people feature in the story?

R and C definitely.

3 hours ago, Mandamon said:

On the other hand, having a character that you are invested in make an amazing discovery about a worldbuilding element can really make a story snap.

I'll try to play up the revelation in Z's second chapter about soul lanterns being physical manifestations of a virus that kills everyone before they turn 40.

3 hours ago, Mandamon said:

Does R. for some reason take notes on people's appearances?

This is probably just me over correcting since most feedback so far has been critical of lack of physical description.

3 hours ago, Mandamon said:

using this term where people only live about 35 years is kind of confusing.

Why? Real question.

@Mandamon Thanks for reading!

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8 minutes ago, hawkedup said:
3 hours ago, Mandamon said:

using this term where people only live about 35 years is kind of confusing.

Why? Real question.

I'm not really sure how long a "generation" is anyway, and then on top of that I don't know if they change the definition because people don't live as long and so on and now I have no idea. 15 years? 25? 35? Do they have kids earlier?

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Just now, Mandamon said:

I'm not really sure how long a "generation" is anyway, and then on top of that I don't know if they change the definition because people don't live as long and so on and now I have no idea. 15 years? 25? 35? Do they have kids earlier?

Gotcha, thanks!

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Right, here're my thoughts:

As a prologue, I think this works much better than the original prologue with the snow globe. The events portrayed are much more clear-cut and the premise of soldiers versus demons, while a somewhat cliché premise, the addition of the chasers gives it some much-needed flavor. The info-dumping though, I'm a bit mixed on. I am guilty of info-dumping myself, but there's a lot of it in a very short amount of time here. I think you can do with letting at least a couple things go on unexplained until later. Nevertheless, this sets a much more solid foundation for the rest of the story (at least, it does for the parts of it you've let us read thus far). Good job, I'd say. 

Notes below:

(pg. 1)

-The MCs had an official-sounding name for the sensation, but everyone just called it the Calways sure to pronounce the Proper Noun.—Added a hyphen and em-dash. Also, you can't pronounce a proper noun; the fact that you have put the C in caps lets us know it's important to the people in this world, and that they considered it a proper noun. 

(pg. 2)

-“It was strong.” C nodded.—So this appears to be C responding, but the period and the nodding make it seem like B is speaking, and he's responding with a nod. 

-Someone at the back of the barracks screamed, and not just any scream, a high pitched shriek that tore through the room and awoke everyone at once.—I'd delete the bolded part, and let the rest of the sentence speak for itself. 

-The barracks held exactly thirty-six bunks, but R immediately knew from whose lungs the scream had emanated—Purple-y. I'd just say "R immediately knew who'd screamed."

(pg. 3)

-She wore only her skivvies, revealing almost all of her toned and tall body.—Clothes don't conceal height. Also, I'd change the phrasing to "revealing toned muscles." It's reads as somewhat male-gazey otherwise.

(pg. 4)

-She didn’t even stop to grab something to cover her nakedness—She's wearing underwear. She's not naked.

-That first horrible screech had blown out her vocal chords but—That seems a bit much. I'd change this to something like "rendered her hoarse". Also, change 'but' to 'and'

(pg. 5)

-the soldier was right—I'd fuse this with the next sentence, regarding what he's right about. 

-Being a shadow was worse than death.—So it's basically a Dementor's kiss/being gentled? I don't think that's all that scary anymore. 

-She was and out of the barracks in moments.—Delete 'and'

-He was a beautiful man with soft features, smooth skin that was quite a bit darker than average, something R liked.—Not sure I'd buy that she'd be checking the guy out at a time like this. It's not very soldier-like. 

(pg. 6)

-He nodded and turned back to his work, though everyone knew that once a soul lantern was gone, there was no hope.—It doesn't feel like anyone's really wondering what happened to it. Lost? Stolen? 

-she was out the door in moments—Missing period.

(pg. 7)

-five hundred-plus—Replaced comma with hyphen.

- A continued:—Make this the start of the next paragraph.

(pg. 8)

-The response was like the roar of a world killer.

It shook the compound.—Combine into one paragraph. I notice you have a tendency to take things that aren't all that dramatic on their own and make them into their own paragraphs, like the second line. From now on, I'd double-check stuff like this to see what warrants a single-line paragraph and what doesn't.

 

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I can't speak about how well it works in relation to the other chapters, but I still have a few thoughts! :)

What I liked:

-In general, R's self-doubt is a good way to add conflict to the story. Even though the chapter deals with a terrible creature, at its core it really seems to be about R being forced to accept her abilities and prepare for a tough road ahead. Having her feel unqualified at first while throwing her into a sink-or-swim situation as is done here looks like it will be great for the story; it's always best to push characters out of their comfort zones!

-I really like the ending. Succinct, hits hard, forces R closer to a point of no return. Good stuff all around.

Suggestions:

-I'd recommend going through and checking when the story tells us info directly, and asking if this can be conveyed in some other way so it doesn't feel like we're being explained to. "Show don't tell" is sometimes overused and not always 100% true, but there's a reason it's such a popular saying.

-I'd also watch for long blocks of dialogue, like the Vice Captain's speech. The story starts to feel a bit stagnant if there's just one person talking for more than a few lines. 

-Since this seems like a world different than our own, it's hard for me to picture what it visually looks like (though tbf I have this problem with a lot of SFF so it might be one of my own quirks). I don't want long descriptions, but a few details about how certain things look could help me latch onto the setting a bit better. 

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Page 3

In the paragraph that starts “C and R looked at each other for just a moment,” you have the word “bunks” repeated several times. It starts to sound a bit clunky when it occurs so many times in close succession.

 

R ignored everything and ran to and then knelt next to T’s bunk

This phrase reads a little awkwardly.

 

Her limbs had gone catatonic

“Catatonic” usually describes the state of a person’s consciousness, not their limbs.

 

 

Page 8

The tall gates to the compound opened. The sky outside was blood red.”

This makes it sound like either the compound is roofed, or the sky over the compound itself isn’t red.

 

 

I think this is a much better opening chapter for the novel than what you had before. It introduces us to some of the details of the world-building, like the importance of soul lanterns and the war against the demons. The information about shadows and their possible connection to the rifts is nice foreshadowing for the plot thread with Princess Z that will come later.

 

This is also a good setup for both L and (not-Princess) Z’s stories. The soldiers of the G-K’s empire are shown in a sympathetic light here, protecting people against a real threat, as shown by what happens to T. That will get the reader asking questions when they find out L wants to destroy the G-K, and when Z’s acquaintance tells her one of the demons isn’t dangerous.

 

You mentioned that you’re considering using this as a prologue. Are you intending for these characters to reappear in the story? I like R, and the bit about her feeling like a fraud because she’s never actually sensed a rift before helped to give her some depth in a short time. I found myself hoping that she wouldn’t be a prologue-only character.

 

I’m wondering if this is the rift that the demon from Z’s chapter originates from. I’m also curious about the Lighthouses. The mention of one near the palace in L’s chapter made it sound like it was a unique structure, so I was surprised to see that there are more than one. Is the one at the palace the center of the network they form?

 

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11 hours ago, The Kraken's Daughter said:

Are you intending for these characters to reappear in the story?

Definitely R and C.

11 hours ago, The Kraken's Daughter said:

The mention of one near the palace in L’s chapter made it sound like it was a unique structure, so I was surprised to see that there are more than one.

Do you think it works better seeing the one lighthouse at the palace first and then at the Front where there is more than one lighthouse, or the other way around?

Thanks for the feedback, everybody!

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On 7/15/2019 at 9:21 PM, hawkedup said:

I've noticed is some apathy toward some of the world building elements, so I've been messing around with a possible prologue, which is what I submit to you now

I did like the world building in this section. It gave me a clear picture of what the war with the demons is like, at least to a certain extent. It introduces shadows and mage corps. Having this before the rest would give me a sense of what was happening on the front. 

I like it the length it is, but I am thinking maybe you could add a little bit. Is this the battle where the "demon" (I know it isn't actually a demon) Z finds comes through a rift at? If so, it might be good to continue this long enough to show that. Then it would have a clear connection to Z's chapters. 

Overall, I was engaged throughout the whole thing and didn't make any line by line notes. At first I was a little reluctant because there have been a lot of POVs, but taking into account this actually comes before most or all of what I've read, and that there won't be so many POVs all at once, I liked it, and thought it could work as a prologue.

 

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Overall

I'm conflicted on this. If this character won't appear again, then the prologue is useless. However the backstory gives me so much of what I have been missing in the chapters that I'm loathe to suggest you cut it entirely. The soul lanterns in particular make a ton more sense and I have a greater feeling of stakes. With that said, I'd like to get more fear from the demons/things attacking the people, and why they matter. Right now that is still blurry, and I didn't get a ton of tension from the lantern-less girl, either.

So basically I think if you could really tighten this (not make it longer, mind, but tighten), it might really work as a prologue. And I hate prologues, so that is saying something I think. Also, you landed the brown default this time. Nicely done.

On 7/16/2019 at 0:01 PM, Mandamon said:

There were soem big infodumps in here that could easily be shown in the other sections I've read.

I agree with this as well. You could scrap this prologue and put the good stuff in other places, if desired. The prologue isn't really vital, though this particular one doesn't bother me all that much.

As I go

- pg 1: AHAHA yes to brown default. Working excellently here

- pg 3: 'Creep' seems very bland and also poorly defined so I'm having a hard time drawing tension from it

- pg 5: I would have liked the consequences of losing one's lantern to be maybe discussed in dialogue rather than in thought. The narrative lost tension here

- pg 6: should 'turn of age' be capitalized??

- pg 7: I think you'd have a stronger ending if you ended on 'Move out!" The last page doesn't add anything

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Hey Mr. Hawk, interested to read this, and sorry for the delay. Seems to me it's getting really busy around here!! No excuses though.

So, the word 'prologue' always makes me pause, but we'll see.

(page 1)

- Decent epigraph. It's clear and unambiguous. RCs = important. I get it and I understand what they do and why it's valuable.

- I like the style. I think I've said this before, but anyway... it's direct, uncomplicated. I think the prose could be tidied up. Some of the word choice could be more colourful and descriptive. You use 'horrible' twice in different references. That word doesn't really say much, it's telling, without showing why something of horrible.

(page 2)

- There's a pretty complete lack of description. I don't mind that too much because it adds to the directness of this section. Some authors write that way and leave surroundings rot the imagination of the reader. I think maybe the prose is just a bit too sparse.

- I'm not quite clear. When you say share a bunk, are they lovers, or is it a top bunk, bottom bunk kind of deal?

- There's good tension on the page, I think. I'm invested in her feeling the rift, in being disoriented, and in this fraud thing. The thing that really hits me is that I don't quite see how this is a prologue yet. It reads like as chapter to me. Is there a time shift? This may become clearer. As an opening to a story, I'm happy enough.

(page 3)

- Iv: I don't buy this. The knot is a good idea, but I would have thought that they would be much closer than the feel. Iv is mentioned almost incidentally, whereas I would have thought they would be very close as a unit (of three) and one of their first thoughts would be about the third member of their knot. In other words, I would have thought she would be mentioned higher up on page 2.

- The knot offers loads of potential, especially if R and C are sharing a bunk in a carnal sense.

- You're missing several hyphens. There are compound adjectives that should be hyphenated (like high-pitched shriek).

(page 4)

- "Good woman" - I'm not really invested in R's experience and seniority enough for it to set comfortably that she's expressing superior-sounding opinions about others. Okay, this is a new recruit, but because you're referred to R in a way that makes her sound not all that capable, I didn't really buy this. Not sure I've got a sense of R's age either.

- The description of T's horror is good but, for me, it comes too late. Surely it would be the first thing that R clocks when she kneels down, before calling for doctors and noticing other soldiers, etc.

- I'm finding some passages quite wordy. Okay, first draft, fair enough, but this really can be a lot tighter, imo. There's a fair bit of repetition. E.g. "one of the soldiers asked from nearby as he pulled on his body armor. He, like the rest of the barracks, was already nearly dressed for battle. He paused when pausing in strapping his sword and quiver harness over his shoulders."

- "everyone in the immediate vicinity was listening" - this does not sound like a well-drilled group to me. They should not all be standing around listening, surely, but rather taking up their positions for deployment, or something else more productive and organised.

- I'm getting confused by all the terms. So, R is spec; M Corp; and an RC. It's a lot to take in a sort out. Can you be spec and MC, but not RC? Or an RC but not MC? I would look at simplifying this, it's confusing. Similarly, why call them non-spec and mundane. Don't have two terms if they mean the same thing, the reader will be able to see that mundane means non-spec. Also, mundane sounds just a tad like muggle.

- "The soldiers around them turned their eyes away and pretended the RCs weren’t there" - I'm getting more confused. First the soldiers are standing around listening to them, now they're ignoring them? This feels inconsistent.

- "Her limbs had gone catatonic" - I don't buy this: that can't be right, surely. Either a person is catatonic or they are not. Catatonia is a state of the mind, is it not? It can't just apply to limbs, surely.

(page 5)

- "If the girl’s soul lantern really was gone, that meant she had become what was called a shadow. Being a shadow was Worse than death, it was a complete loss of one's humanity. personality, a loss of the very essence that made one human." - Huge amount of repetition here. Clearly, you are telling us what it means, so you don't need to say this. Sorry, first draft, I know, but this stage just screams at me.

- Does the other soldier matter? I really don't care the she came back for her bag? She'd better be some kind of double agent/infiltrator. Even if she is, and your foreshadowing a later reveal, it's still kind of blatant, just described directly. If she's not coming back, cut her, imo. If she is, I'd cut down the reference to her even more. Maybe the doctor bumps into her.

- Average is a very cold, analytical word to use in describing something beautiful.

- "honey-colored eyes"

(page 6)

- "also a walking staff" - you said this already, I'm sure.

- "Vice Captain" - there is no such military rank. It's purely a sporting term. I current usage. If you want you military to have credibility with people who know about this stuff amongst your readership (like soldiers, sailors, etc.) I would strongly recommend using actual ranks, like lieutenant in this case. See this week's Writing Excuses podcast, which is all about war :o How convenient :) 

- "still the shuffling soldiers before him" - this is really bad discipline for trained soldiers. You said they had formed up ranks. It doesn't sound like that from this description. It's one thing for them to be whispering to each other, but they can still do that and maintain good drill form.

(page 7)

- "all five hundred plus soldiers" - No commas.

- "but only the worst rifts ever opened" - grammar.

- "sugar coat it" - cliché, imo.

- "able-bodied soldier" - hyphen

- "GK's Empire" - if it's an empire, shouldn't he be an emperor?

- The rousing speech isn't all that rousing for me. Kind of tame.

(page 8)

- "The sky outside was blood red" - So is the sky inside. It's the same sky.

- "they would hit the atmosphere and spider-web out over the entirety of the Empire as thick bars of lightning" - Really confused: so there is real lightning, but also manmade lightning? What's the purpose of that? Also, this phrase, just replace it with 'over the entire Empire' - this is another example of overwriting. I do this too sometimes, but it's so much easier to pick up other people for it :lol:;) 

- "Soon, the others followed" - Not for me. Are we saying a section is 100 soldiers? So, you've got the first sections filing out, which is very unspecific, then the rest of them followed, which sounds like it happens instantly. There's a real disconnect between the numbers of the description, imo.

Overall 

So, I'm trying to think what I learn from this prologue. I made a list:

1 - There are rifts and RCs;

2 - There are mages, specs, munds, demons, world killers;

3 - There is an empire with a GK;

4 - There are soul lans, but I don't really get what they do - but I think I know enough, I don't need more expo on that;

Does R's story continue in the book, or is this happening 100 years before? Likely, I'll learn that in the next chapter, and I'm pleased about getting five chapters of Z.

I don't object to prologues automatically, but it seems to me this is either (1) your Chapter One (if R is in the book), or (2) you could easily cut it and provide the same info in the form of epigraphs. Or, (3), I think you could easily core this out and provide the salient information in two or three pages. Seems to me there is a lot of irrelevant stuff in here if it's a prologue, or even if it isn't. A prologue's not about telling us story about the character(s) (like the date she rebuffed, or the young soldier being nervous, but should only provide information essential to the reader understanding the story.

I hope this helps!

<R>

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