Alderant

7/29/19 - Alderant - Shattered Expectations ~Chapter One~ - 5,560 words

18 posts in this topic

Posted (edited)

Okay. Here's chapter one for the epic fantasy previously mentioned and submitted. Prologue is still under personal consideration, so rather than resubmit with something I'm not convinced I want yet, I'm just going on to the main story.

As a reminder/bit of information, this is an adult-level epic fantasy (like Wheel of Time or Stormlight Archive) written ultimately for my daughters to have female characters to look up to and admire. I'm playing a bit with some tropes and ideas, but at its core it's a fantasy written for women.

With that out of the way, I hope you enjoy it!

EDIT: I know it's a little long--I'm sorry!

Edited by Alderant
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Overall, I think this is well written and there's a good core to it, but I'm not hooked yet. We have a very stereotypical medieval society, with Victorian mores, which makes sense when you compare it to WoT or SA, but it is a strange combination. You say this is for women, but aside from most of the characters being female (which is great), they seem to have to overcome the same gendered problems as our society, even though they seem to be in charge.


The inciting incident is, I guess that the queen is sick? Some more reaction or thought from L would help make this a bigger issue. Since this is about the ruling class, I'd like more information about how it works, and what this council of women is doing running things instead of L.

 

Notes while reading:
pg 1: “Go ahead and go back up to the keep"
--repetitive, especially for the first paragraph.

pg 3: Slightly slow to start, but I'm enjoying the banter.

pg 5: "H-Highness,” the man said cautiously"
--okay, I knew she was a noble of some sort, but not royalty.

pg 6: "you’re not even casting the good bits—just the parts below my knees!"
--lol

pg 7: "clearly trying to get an eyeful of the two women"
--there's increasingly more of woman as objects, the farther I get into this, which I get is the point, but it's also reinforcing that steriotype.

pg 8: "the young men’s eyes went wide with shock"
--And this. This is a medieval-style story, but with very staid, victorian sensibilities. I'd think "working class" men would be a lot more coarse than embarassed.

pg 10: "feeling a deep exhaustion settling from her head into her chest"
--I'm not sure why. She's been quite feisty so far and hasn't said or thought anything about feeling tired. She also just voluntarily walked three miles.

pg 13: "Ever since the Cataclysm, womankind has been at the mercy of things beyond our understanding."
--eh? As in specifically women have been targeted?

pg 14: I"m starting to get a bit of description fatigue, especially with the explanation of the fortress. The characters have been introduced, but I'm not yet hooked.

pg 16: “Mommy’s helping wif the Queen,”
--I thought L was the queen?

pg 18 “It’s not mine to lead yet, Matriarch,”
-- I'm confused.  Who's queen and who's leading the country?

pg 18 “Mother’s still the Queen"
-- is that the tall woman? She hasn't been introduced and sort of faded into the background.

pg 18 “we’re not here to bicker. The Queen’s illness..."
-- ok, glad she's introduced, but I have no idea who these people are or what their function is if there is a queen, a daughter and son, and a clear line of succession.

pg 19 “She’s not well.”
-- they already said she was ill.

pg 22 Ok, by the end things are a bit clearer, but I'm still not sure who the other woman are. 

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This isn't the same story as the one with the princess with the demon/anger management issues, is it? Who was in the carriage and obsessing over how much she wanted a baby while at the same time obsessing over how bad a mother she'd be? Princess, anger issues, lady-in-waiting, possible matriarchal society yet somehow with the same old strictures of the patriarchy just given the rule 63 treatment... anyway. I was a little confused at the beginning, trying to remember, but I like this princess much better than the other one so it doesn't matter that much. 

 

On the up side, this is well written, and I don't see anything on-the-face problematic, or even prominent-but-worrying like the other one. I immediately get a sense of the character of the POV princess, which is a big improvement over the angel-skeleton-apocalypse prologue-thing. It has a wealth of descriptive information about the places and things around the characters, which I appreciate. It is a little slow to get going. I don't mind a slow open, and not everything needs blood and thunder to get started, but I feel like the opening scenes could be slimmed down some. No less description, just maybe condensed a little bit. It almost felt like two chapters, before the town and after.

The down side is that the not great things I did see going on in this are complex and somewhat difficult to articulate. I'll give it a shot though. The entire piece is heavily gendered, in ways both large and small. Some of it is I think intentional, but much of it feels unintentional. It reads to me like a checklist of gendered stereotypes and low-hanging fruit choices. More specifically:

 

Women described in opposition to each other -- It's great that the two lead characters introduced so far are women, and that they are different from each other. I do get a sense of their personalities, but the way the text describes them almost always pits one against the other. It's not outright stated that the princess "is not like other girls," but she is very much treated that way, with her more traditionally feminine lady-in-waiting being used as a foil to show how much the princess doesn't care about clothes and being a "proper" lady. Again, it's not directly stated that caring about fashion and social norms is bad or worse-than, but then again, it doesn't have to be. By constantly comparing the two women characters, we don't see their friendship, we just see the text treating them like opposing sides on a sports match. 

"deep, breathy voice" // "slim, youthful beauty" -- I'm sorry, but this is such a male way of describing someone. It feels no little bit objectifying, and moreover, it's very distancing, generic language. It doesn't sound like something the protagonist would say, and it doesn't convey much information about the person being described (that couldn't be summed up with the single word "nubile" and just... it really made me cringe). I don't know if I've ever described a friend in that manner, even when they were 10 years younger and much more attractive than me. About the only saving grace here is that the description doesn't include her breasts. 

Moreover, what are the standards of beauty like here? Are they the same as our real world? Our modern time? For a really long time in a number of places, being fat and pale (two things modern society associates with being unhealthy or ugly) were marks of beauty, and this definitely feels like it's set in some sort of "historical" time. So is slim really beautiful here? Would she instead look underfed, and constantly having well-meaning types trying to get her to eat and be more healthy-looking? Even the equation of youth with beauty is not set in stone. So what is this description actually showing? It looks to me like it is showing the typical modern idea that "beauty" can only be young, slender, and sexually-appealing-to-men.

Also, how does being conventionally pretty somehow preclude being a knight? Are singers on an equal-or-better standing with knights in this world such that becoming a squire would be seen as a step down or the less logical choice? In the kinds of historical contexts fantasies like this tend to draw from, actors, musicians, performers of any type were not well regarded, and women (when they were allowed in these professions at all) in them were often seen as socially and morally bankrupt. Is this world different? If it is, I would very much like to see more of those differences! It is really peculiar that it's the "not like other girls" warrior-princess who bucks social norms saying these things and describing people in this way. And again, this is more oppositional language. It's pitting being conventionally pretty against being a knight, all while in the context of one friend supposedly neutrally describing the other. 

 

Old saws and stereotypes -- it seems like the text never misses an opportunity to make a reference to the sort of gendered role distinctions that I'd expect from outdated newspaper cartoons like the Lockhorns or Andy Capp.

"men who sat slumped despondently next to shops while their wives ... did business" -- "Men endure women shopping" is just as outdated now as it was 70 years ago. I can tell there's been a concerted effort to do more to set the scene, and I appreciate it and I have a much better idea of what's happening around the characters, but again, this is more oppositional and adversarial than I think is intended.  It's pitting wives against husbands and making broad generalizations about both genders, that, again, has them on opposite sides of some kind of weird nonexistent conflict. Why aren't the men doing something else if they don't want to be around the women's work? What is keeping them waiting? Why do they have to be there at all, if this is a matriarchal society, where I would presume women don't need male escorts to be out in pubic? 

"hardly what one would describe as heavy" -- Would it matter if she was?  Heavy people can be leaders and main characters and be so emotionally overwhelmed they need to sit down, too.  "Main characters can't be fat" is a stereotype that's as insidious as it is ridiculous. It's also outdated, and this aside is, again, weirdly defensive and out-of-POV. Did something happen as she was walking into the room that made her self-conscious about her weight? Wood squeaks no matter who sits on it, and honestly, i didn't take her for someone who was so sensitive about her appearance that furniture making noise would make her defensive. 

"her middle-aged beauty" // "ordinarily a lovely woman" -- Leading with how pretty these powerful, intelligent, leaders of the realm are (and conspicuously NOT mentioning how beautiful the eldest woman is) does not do much to convey the importance of their power or intelligence. it does play right into the tired old stereotype of women being first and foremost valued for their beauty, though.  They come off more as a trio of old shrews, harping on the princess.  It's also a little weird for a young woman (who I assume is straight) to be constantly noting how attractive the women around her are.  Also, "ordinarily lovely" in the rest of that sentence really seems to be implying "(but for the fact that she's not smiling, like all women should)" and again, I don't think that's what is intended here. Women are allowed to express their stress and unhappiness, whether or not that makes them look pretty, and even if they would be ordinarily be pretty without it. It would be nice if at least one of the interactions between any of the women here wasn't somehow combative or framed adversarially. It's tiring to be constantly seeing interactions as fights or win/lose comparisons. I feel tired reading it. Are women never allowed to just exist without judgment, even in their own heads? 

I will add a mention of the all-male blacksmiths.  Women have always been toolmakers. Going back to the stone-age (here are some articles about women making stone tools : Science Daily, Scholarly (alternate), blacksmiths in colonial Williamsburg), women have participated in the fabrication of the tools and materials used in their society. We've just been terrible about recognizing it. The tension can still be there, but the fact that there are no women craftspeople here is one of those "men make things, women care for babies" types of stereotypes on display. The tension in that scene can still be present (women go on vacations and don't want to touch royalty, too) even if things get desegregated, but as it stands now, it just looks like low-hanging fruit. Why wouldn't women be blacksmiths? Especially if this forge produces detailed, high-quality, or decorative pieces; or conversely, if it produces high-volume things like nails?

(also as an aside, women can pee in pits for leather just as well as men. It doesn't take a whole lot to make your background scene-setting characters inclusive, just a few pronouns here and there.)

 

The matriarchy is just like the patriarchy, but with breasts -- First, thank you for putting pockets on the skirts. I appreciate that a lot. But second, as @Mandamon picked up on, there are some weird things going on here with regards to the strictures that appear to be put on women, despite the fact that this appears to be a matriarchy. Mostly, it just makes me wonder why -- why, if women are in charge and have been for a while, are things exactly the same as they under our patriarchy, but with some words swapped out?

Why are they still fighting rapists in the matriarchy? Why are men objectifying women to the point where the men literally can't do their job, AND don't have the staff at hand to accommodate what appears to be an entire order of female fighters? Why are women still constricted by uncomfortable clothing dictated by a society that seems to be concerned with keeping women's horrible sexually-enticing bodies away from the innocent eyes of men? (Why aren't men dressed similarly? That's how it used to be, both sexes wearing their wealth as gaudily as possible.) It's low-hanging fruit to me, to not truly investigate how women running a society might affect the values, mores and culture of that society, and instead seeming to just take the highlight reel of Victorian ideas and gender-swap them.

Research into real life matrilineal, matrifocal and egalitarian societies might give you some starting points. They don't tend to fall into the same channels as fully patriarchal societies and I think it would be really interesting to imagine something based around that instead of just using the "default, but with womankind instead of mankind." Since there's clearly a class structure in place here, the princess can still be bucking social norms in similar ways (talking to the laborers, letting them touch her royal flesh, not acting with proper class decorum, etc etc) and be wearing constricting clothing (because nobility in any age wears the weirdest, most-extra, over-the-top nonsense available), so I'm left wondering, why is this society Victorian, but with some words swapped around? Is the matriarchy a sham? Was this a recent coup? Do we have manly men off at war somewhere, leaving the womenfolk back home to govern as best they can (the poor things)? 

 

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

Thank you @Mandamon & @industrialistDragon, those are both very helpful bits of feedback. I'll go to work on what you've mentioned--some of those fixes should be fairly easy, but some will require a little bit of work. Thanks for your patience and understanding...a lot of it is definitely unintentional, so pointing out how it comes across and alternative things to consider is very, very constructive, even if it hurts a little. :)

If you could...I could use some help with 'oppositional' writing. I'm not even 100% sure where I'm doing it or what's making it come across (I might have an inkling), so if you could continue to keep an eye out for this and give suggestions for improvement, it'd be greatly appreciated.

Edited by Alderant
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Overall

Assuming you are purposefully coding L as a lesbian, I am pretty engaged with this story. The undercurrent of sexual tension keeps it moving when the world is somewhat slow and there does not seem to be an inciting incident yet. With that said, there are some definitive male gaze issues that need addressed, and whether you want to delete them or turn them into lesbian gaze will depend entirely on your story objectives.

I'm on board for another chapter, for sure.

On 7/29/2019 at 2:30 PM, Mandamon said:

You say this is for women, but aside from most of the characters being female (which is great), they seem to have to overcome the same gendered problems as our society, even though they seem to be in charge.

This also pinged for me. I don't understand the society at all. Women led but still all the same problems as a patriarchy? Historically I don't think that's how that works.

On 7/30/2019 at 4:55 PM, industrialistDragon said:

deep, breathy voice" // "slim, youthful beauty" -- I'm sorry, but this is such a male way of describing someone. It feels no little bit objectifying,

If your lead is straight, then yes, this is very objectifying. I read it inherently as showing interest (there's lesbian bias there) in the squire, because it's very 'I am interest in your physical attributes.' If our MC IS a lesbian, it just needs some tweaking. If she isn't... you'll need to do a pass for authorial voice and male gaze

Looks like @Mandamon and @industrialistDragon have a lot of the same concerns I do, so I'll not belabor them. 

 

As I go

- pg 2: men slumped while women shopped.... this raises a yellow flag to me

- bottom of page 3: It kind of reads like L is crushing on A a bit. Here for it

- pg 4: smothering a slight pang of jealousy beneath <-- no longer subtext. You have my attention

A woman’s legs aren’t supposed to be seen outside of the <--- men get hauled around shopping but there's weird skin restrictions on women? The world doesn't make sense right now

You’re not some Order priestess!” <-- confused. Is this a patriarchal society with prostitutes? Or a matriarchal one with women in chosen professions?? I'm so confused

- I do like that the little boys wear skirts, too

and just another reason in a long list of reasons why L liked having the girl around. *coughs*

her middle-aged beauty <-- red flag for male gaze while in a female POV

She was ordinarily a lovely woman, with warm chestnut skin and shimmering golden hair that she kept tied in a bun on her head, her utilitarian blouse and skirt only serving to heighten the appearance of a diligent and studious worker. <-- second male gaze red flag. Unless you want to really out your MC as a lesbian. If so, these could work, but they'll need to be coded differently. Lesbian gaze and male gaze are very similar, but code differently in writing and have different roots (and different ideas on consent and such). If you do want to show lesbian gaze, let me know and I can help you with the rewrite

- pg 19: mention of goddess. Matriarchal society then??

 

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
15 hours ago, kais said:

Assuming you are purposefully coding L as a lesbian, I am pretty engaged with this story. The undercurrent of sexual tension keeps it moving when the world is somewhat slow and there does not seem to be an inciting incident yet. With that said, there are some definitive male gaze issues that need addressed, and whether you want to delete them or turn them into lesbian gaze will depend entirely on your story objectives.

I'm on board for another chapter, for sure.

...

If your lead is straight, then yes, this is very objectifying. I read it inherently as showing interest (there's lesbian bias there) in the squire, because it's very 'I am interest in your physical attributes.' If our MC IS a lesbian, it just needs some tweaking. If she isn't... you'll need to do a pass for authorial voice and male gaze

...

She was ordinarily a lovely woman, with warm chestnut skin and shimmering golden hair that she kept tied in a bun on her head, her utilitarian blouse and skirt only serving to heighten the appearance of a diligent and studious worker. <-- second male gaze red flag. Unless you want to really out your MC as a lesbian. If so, these could work, but they'll need to be coded differently. Lesbian gaze and male gaze are very similar, but code differently in writing and have different roots (and different ideas on consent and such). If you do want to show lesbian gaze, let me know and I can help you with the rewrite

L is straight, so clearly I had a problem here. I'm trying to go back and rewrite it accordingly. I think the problem is just that I was so focused on including description that I used the wrong kind.

HOWEVER, If you wouldn't mind helping me do a rewrite so I can better understand the principle, that would be awesome since I actually do have a character I want to be writing from a lesbian gaze in this story, and I want to make sure I do it the right way. Your experience would be incredibly valuable.

15 hours ago, kais said:

This also pinged for me. I don't understand the society at all. Women led but still all the same problems as a patriarchy? Historically I don't think that's how that works.

I'm doing a pass on this chapter to try to bring this out more, but the society is definitely a topic of address within the novel. I missed some points that ultimately communicated the wrong thing, I think. The standards of dress, for example, aren't gender-specific--they're imposed on both genders (which is why both genders wear skirts), but I didn't indicate that very well. There's also a bit of gender-flipping in the prominence of genders in public society--this is something I also didn't portray very well.

15 hours ago, kais said:

- pg 19: mention of goddess. Matriarchal society then??

Yes. Working on making this more evident.

15 hours ago, kais said:

You’re not some Order priestess!” <-- confused. Is this a patriarchal society with prostitutes? Or a matriarchal one with women in chosen professions?? I'm so confused

This is one of those things that's going to be addressed over the course of the novel. Your second idea is closer to the truth.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

I'm there with everyone else in saying that the world doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me, but @industrialistDragon has pretty much covered every possible square inch of that issue, to the point that I have nothing more substantial to add. Your prose is good, and it's nice seeing some straightforward fantasy (though I hope you'll avoid the pacing problems that plague WoT, if it's a main influence). 

I'm in agreement that you need to go back through this and make some edits for the sake of your world-building to clear up inconsistencies on why a matriarchy has the societal problems it does. There's a lot of potential here, but it needs some tweaking.

Notes below. Notes without annotations are just corrections:

(pg. 1)

-her shoulder clanking as its objects jostled within.—I'd replace objects with 'contents'

-“It’s my armor, after all.”—Italicized 'my' for emphasis

(pg. 2)

-“Come on, then. The blacksmith is only the first of our stops.”—If this is in answer to A's question, why doesn't L just say 'The blacksmith'?

-Not all parts of the body looked or smelled nice

(pg. 3)

-the glowposts were built from a shimmering white marble that sparkled during the day and shone with brilliant golden light at night.—Ooh, I like this image.

-“It is. It’s right over there,” she said as she pulled her attention away from the glowpost—Bold text added for clarification

(pg. 4)

-A blinked, her lips parting in a half-smile, half-I-can’t-believe-you-just-said-that look of horror.—This line is indented at 'half' in the doc. Not sure if that's just a problem on my end. 

(pg. 8)

-It was an absurd argument to be having, anyway, and one she’d get nowhere by having, since she seemed to be the only one in the Queendom who thought so.—Repetition of 'having'

(pg. 9)

-Children’s skirts were never weighted, and to help keep them from stepping on them only came down to their knees.—I would change this to a simpler "Children's skirts were knee-length and never weighted, to keep them from tripping." 

(pg. 13)

-You don’t become a knight by lollygagging

(pg. 14)

-Fort A—I would not use this name for the fort; as far as fantasy names go, it's pretty common. 

-gratuitous number of arrow loops throughout the walls of the lower levels

(pg. 15)

-with a sobbing story—I'd change sobbing story to just 'sob story'

(pg. 16)

-“Mommy’s helping wif the Queen,” A said with a smile. “She told me to wait faw you and bwing you to the capin.”—This kid sounds like he's three, at most. Not four or five. 

-S, one of the other boys who was his friend

-She loved children.—If she loves children, why did she sigh when A showed up? Sighing makes it sound like she finds him annoying. 

(pg. 17)

-A led them through the keep

-Though all three women were different ages and statures, and all three wore different outfits, all three wore matching expressions of dour consternation. At their entrance, all three women’s heads snapped up.—Repetition of 'all three.' Three times in one sentence is two too many. 

- L said carefully stepping further into the room—Did she say something carefully or did she carefully step? Add a comma to clarify. 

(pg. 18)

-The prince is very knowledgeable

(pg. 19)

-The M nodded, accepting L’s apology—Well, that was easy. 

 

Edited by JWerner
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, Alderant said:

HOWEVER, If you wouldn't mind helping me do a rewrite so I can better understand the principle, that would be awesome since I actually do have a character I want to be writing from a lesbian gaze in this story, and I want to make sure I do it the right way. Your experience would be incredibly valuable.

A quick demo.

(straight) Male gaze: Her hair was long and lovely, piled on her head with wisps that curled around her heart-shaped face and helped hide the start of the crows feet near her eyes. <--- objectification. Reviewing characters as sex objects, objects to be desired, youth > experience

(straight) Female gaze: She had long brown hair that was falling out of her ponytail. <--- hair coming out of a ponytail is irritating. Character empathizes. Character is not attracted to other women, so would not notice the same things a straight male would

Lesbian gaze: She had thick brown hair that curled at the tips. Gathered on her head, the falling strands framed her face. My eyes lingered. <--- although this can vary wildly depending on the character, generally lesbian gaze in SFF shows attraction without a deep objectification. Character being gazed at is a person, simply also an attractive person. Lesbian gaze may show objectification, but it is generally very easy to pull from male gaze. Male gaze brings standard baggage, flavors of the patriarchy, disdain for personhood. Lesbian gaze usually brings objectification through connection with the humanness of the character. 

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi @Alderant! I'm intrigued by the premise and love that you are writing for your little girls. I also write for my kids to read someday.

The others hit on everything that pinged for me when it comes to the gender issue, and I don't think I can add much more to the discussion there, so I'm going to focus on some of the more technical aspects of the chapter. First, the line-by-line, which is pretty sparse without the gender issues:

2
- Does L have a heightened sense of smell? The examples given seem very specific, and not things that would at any time overpower the smell of the city.

3
- Okay, but there's no explanation as to why the glowpost glows. Also, it seems like she just stops at it so you can describe it to us.

7
- Why doesn't she just take her business elsewhere? You've already established that female knights are a thing, surely there's someone in town who specializes in female armor.

10
- What's the difference between black hair and midnight hair?

13
- You describe A as bland, which directly contradicts previous description.

20
- The three women aren't interesting. I had to stop my eye from skimming the description for all three, and in the end I didn't feel rewarded for sticking it out.

Hook:
So the biggest hook (for me) is a female character who rebels against traditional gender roles. The problem, however, is that besides showing her calf, she doesn't actually DO anything interesting the entire chapter. She has no goals or ambitions, nothing that makes me root for her. When I realized she was the princess, I became even less interested in her struggle because, quite frankly, it doesn't seem like a princess has ever actually had to struggle. So her rebellious nature comes across more petulant and spoiled than it would if I was reading about someone with less social standing. When I find out that she's on the cusp of being Queen, I find myself apathetic. Especially with the way the inciting incident is blocked.The Queen has been sick before so L probably should've expected this anyway, and the whole thing is left on a big maybe. Considering the meandering nature of the chapter, I think this inciting incident needs to be more of a gut punch. A simple fix would be killing the Queen outright. It would certainly put a period on the meandering and tell the reader that things are happening instead of things might be happening soon.

Another really simple issue is some unnecessary redundancy here and there. 

1
- You use the word "back" 4 times in as many lines.

5
- "The blacksmith stared at her blankly, not even blinking." That's what staring is.

17
- You refer to the number of women (three) no fewer than 10 times once they are introduced and on this page use "all three" three times in one paragraph.

The Good:
The prose are strong and the dialogue, while nothing eye opening, is functional and feels natural. I didn't make many line-by-lines because I was mostly engaged throughout. It didn't FEEL like a 5,500 word chapter. I do like the characters even if I'm not emotionally invested yet. Definitely looking forward to your next submission!



 

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey hey :) Great to see some epic fantasy! It's been a while since I've read epic fantasy (crossing fingers for Stormlight Archive 4 asap), but I really love the subgenre and this piece helped remind me of my love for it!

Strengths:

There are some characterization moments here I really liked. My favorite is how L wanders for three miles around the city just to see it even when the blacksmith is close and Ad is lugging around her stuff. It does a good job of setting L apart from any other person walking into the city. A lot of her banter with Ad is quite entertaining as well. 

By the end of the chapter, we have a clear idea of what the inciting incident is. One of the main questions I ask after reading each chapter is "was there change here?" and we definitely get some by the end in this chapter. :)

Suggestions:

I noticed some of the same things that others did about the setting (though not to nearly as much detail). I won't repeat what other people have mentioned but wanted to add another voice to support what they're saying.

While my knowledge about issues relating to gender is limited at best (should really learn more about it one of these days... so much important stuff to learn in this world!), I find that many cis male authors (which I'm guessing you identify as?) talk about womanhood in a simplified manner compared to people who have actually experienced having an identity closer to a woman. It's something I struggle a lot with in my writing. In this case, I felt like the conversation with the blacksmith was pretty straightforward in terms of the commentary. L gets different treatment by the blacksmith than a man would have, which is unfair and rightfully aggravating to her. What I feel like I'm missing is hints of how this sort of treatment ties into all aspects of her life: her goals, her interpersonal relationships, her experiences in the past, her outlook on the world, ect. I think it's easy for some people to identify acts of discrimination, and harder to see how the whole picture fits together. Also sorta applies to Ad's reason for becoming a knight; it feels like a simple one to one reasoning that lacks the depth of someone who's been female their whole life like Ad would be (I assume). Not sure if there's an easy fix, but just thought I'd mention it. 

In terms of suggestions on level of story structure, I felt like we needed more conflict in the beginning parts of the chapter. I think it is pretty standard to have a character doing their own thing before an inciting incident; I just need to see a bit more of L working towards something and having a strong emotional investment in what she's doing. The blacksmith incident is certainly annoying for L, but again I didn't identify that as the main idea that ties the chapter together in terms of conflict. 

I also thought that the blurb at the beginning (idk the technical term for those) could be even better than it is right now. To me, it reveals a bit too much too early on. I already understand exactly why the person is writing this and by the end of the chapter I think I even know who it is. It takes a bit of the fun and mystery away when we know too much this early on.

I also agree with @Mandamon about needing a bit more at the end from L. And I don't think all of this work even needs to be done at the end of the chapter! It seems like a lot of her concern is about duty/lack of freedom as a ruler, so even showing how much her freedom means to her in the events leading up to the reveal could help us feel for her when we see that freedom being stripped away. I know that's a bit prescriptive; it's just the best guess I have as to what the chapter wants to be right now. If the chapter wants us to focus on a different aspect of L when this large event happens, that's certainly fine as well. I think that regardless, the setup cold be doing a lot of the work in making it so that we know how L's feeling right when the reveal happens. 

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

On 8/3/2019 at 7:27 PM, JWerner said:

Your prose is good, and it's nice seeing some straightforward fantasy (though I hope you'll avoid the pacing problems that plague WoT, if it's a main influence).

Glad the prose works. And yes, the idea is to avoid those pacing problems. WoT is an influence, but it is not the influence. There are no singular influences to the writing of this story. ( :D )

On 8/3/2019 at 7:27 PM, JWerner said:

A blinked, her lips parting in a half-smile, half-I-can’t-believe-you-just-said-that look of horror.—This line is indented at 'half' in the doc. Not sure if that's just a problem on my end. 

I didn't see this in my draft, so it's possible some formatting got wonky between scrivener and word.

On 8/3/2019 at 9:19 PM, kais said:

A quick demo.

(straight) Male gaze: Her hair was long and lovely, piled on her head with wisps that curled around her heart-shaped face and helped hide the start of the crows feet near her eyes. <--- objectification. Reviewing characters as sex objects, objects to be desired, youth > experience

(straight) Female gaze: She had long brown hair that was falling out of her ponytail. <--- hair coming out of a ponytail is irritating. Character empathizes. Character is not attracted to other women, so would not notice the same things a straight male would

Lesbian gaze: She had thick brown hair that curled at the tips. Gathered on her head, the falling strands framed her face. My eyes lingered. <--- although this can vary wildly depending on the character, generally lesbian gaze in SFF shows attraction without a deep objectification. Character being gazed at is a person, simply also an attractive person. Lesbian gaze may show objectification, but it is generally very easy to pull from male gaze. Male gaze brings standard baggage, flavors of the patriarchy, disdain for personhood. Lesbian gaze usually brings objectification through connection with the humanness of the character. 

Thank you. That's a helpful comparison.

On 8/3/2019 at 9:41 PM, hawkedup said:

Okay, but there's no explanation as to why the glowpost glows. Also, it seems like she just stops at it so you can describe it to us.

I could tell you everything in chapter one, but then where would the mystery be...? ;) At this stage, it's more along the lines of asking "why is steel hard?" or "why is the sky blue?" I could explain, but it would be pretty banal, and I don't want to take pages to explain why glowstone and necrite exist and how exactly they operate. They're just part of the world.

On 8/3/2019 at 9:41 PM, hawkedup said:

What's the difference between black hair and midnight hair?

Midnight is a deep shade of blue. Black is black.

On 8/3/2019 at 9:41 PM, hawkedup said:

Why doesn't she just take her business elsewhere? You've already established that female knights are a thing, surely there's someone in town who specializes in female armor.

Because of propriety. And it's not under her authority to do so. That's probably something I could include, thanks for the idea.

On 8/3/2019 at 9:41 PM, hawkedup said:

So the biggest hook (for me) is a female character who rebels against traditional gender roles. The problem, however, is that besides showing her calf, she doesn't actually DO anything interesting the entire chapter. She has no goals or ambitions, nothing that makes me root for her. When I realized she was the princess, I became even less interested in her struggle because, quite frankly, it doesn't seem like a princess has ever actually had to struggle. So her rebellious nature comes across more petulant and spoiled than it would if I was reading about someone with less social standing. When I find out that she's on the cusp of being Queen, I find myself apathetic.

Noted. Sounds like you have a hard time enjoying a story from a noble's perspective--which means it will be interesting to hear your thoughts throughout, because the idea of 'life as a noble is easy' is something I'm working around, conceptually. As for this:

Quote

Especially with the way the inciting incident is blocked.The Queen has been sick before so L probably should've expected this anyway, and the whole thing is left on a big maybe. Considering the meandering nature of the chapter, I think this inciting incident needs to be more of a gut punch. A simple fix would be killing the Queen outright. It would certainly put a period on the meandering and tell the reader that things are happening instead of things might be happening soon.

I'm working this out. Probably going to split at the scene break, expand the opening scene for the sake of world-building, and have the rest happen in the next chapter, which will allow me to include a scene I'd left out for a later chapter. I think you're right on the incident needing more punch, I've been toying around with that inevitability. Will consider.

On 8/4/2019 at 0:36 PM, Ace of Hearts said:

Hey hey :) Great to see some epic fantasy! It's been a while since I've read epic fantasy (crossing fingers for Stormlight Archive 4 asap), but I really love the subgenre and this piece helped remind me of my love for it!

Thank you!

On 8/4/2019 at 0:36 PM, Ace of Hearts said:

I find that many cis male authors (which I'm guessing you identify as?) talk about womanhood in a simplified manner compared to people who have actually experienced having an identity closer to a woman. It's something I struggle a lot with in my writing. In this case, I felt like the conversation with the blacksmith was pretty straightforward in terms of the commentary. L gets different treatment by the blacksmith than a man would have, which is unfair and rightfully aggravating to her. What I feel like I'm missing is hints of how this sort of treatment ties into all aspects of her life: her goals, her interpersonal relationships, her experiences in the past, her outlook on the world, ect. I think it's easy for some people to identify acts of discrimination, and harder to see how the whole picture fits together. Also sorta applies to Ad's reason for becoming a knight; it feels like a simple one to one reasoning that lacks the depth of someone who's been female their whole life like Ad would be (I assume).

That's helpful insight. I'll add that to my rewrite considerations.

On 8/4/2019 at 0:36 PM, Ace of Hearts said:

In terms of suggestions on level of story structure, I felt like we needed more conflict in the beginning parts of the chapter. I think it is pretty standard to have a character doing their own thing before an inciting incident; I just need to see a bit more of L working towards something and having a strong emotional investment in what she's doing. The blacksmith incident is certainly annoying for L, but again I didn't identify that as the main idea that ties the chapter together in terms of conflict.

Good point. I'll take that into consideration.

On 8/4/2019 at 0:36 PM, Ace of Hearts said:

I also thought that the blurb at the beginning (idk the technical term for those) could be even better than it is right now. To me, it reveals a bit too much too early on. I already understand exactly why the person is writing this and by the end of the chapter I think I even know who it is. It takes a bit of the fun and mystery away when we know too much this early on.

Perfect. (Ehehe) By the way, it's usually called an epigraph.

On 8/4/2019 at 0:36 PM, Ace of Hearts said:

I also agree with @Mandamon about needing a bit more at the end from L. And I don't think all of this work even needs to be done at the end of the chapter! It seems like a lot of her concern is about duty/lack of freedom as a ruler, so even showing how much her freedom means to her in the events leading up to the reveal could help us feel for her when we see that freedom being stripped away. I know that's a bit prescriptive; it's just the best guess I have as to what the chapter wants to be right now. If the chapter wants us to focus on a different aspect of L when this large event happens, that's certainly fine as well. I think that regardless, the setup cold be doing a lot of the work in making it so that we know how L's feeling right when the reveal happens.

I'm okay with prescriptive suggestions. I'm an assimilator, I take ideas and if they work, I incorporate them, and if they don't, I discard them. Never be afraid to offer a suggestion on what you think would improve the story--I'll choose whether or not I want to use it. Thanks for your thoughts!

Edited by Alderant
1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sorry I'm so late to this. Full disclosure; it's going to get worse on the next two weeks over WorldCon :rolleyes: 

Anyway, here goes.

(page 1)

- I'm unsure about the epigraph. I guess it sets mood, but... I dunno, I almost think I'd prefer to go in and have the story revealed to me, in that same glow of warm optimism I go into every story. I'm not sure what it adds.

- "Go ahead and go back up to the keep" - Okay, sorry but this is all over the place. There are literally three different instruction here 'Go ahead', 'go back' and '(go) up to the keep'. I know characters are allowed to say what they like, and most certainly don't have to be grammatically correct, but in the opening of the story, it's crippling to have a line that is so vague. The pointer on my boding alarm swings slightly towards 'ill'.

- I like the exchange with the squire: it sets up the relationship as a respectful one, I have a question I want an answer to (where is this knight going and whose service is she about to enter), and I have some context / setting in terms of where they've come from and where they're going (initially, the smithy).

(page 2)

- "relished in the sights" - grammar: there are some instances where it's 'off', not enough to through me out of the story really, but enough to be noticeable.

- "streets were the veins" - Mmm, somewhat clichéd. Not wrong, but a very common image.

- "their jetties creating a canopy" - Huh? A jetty is for boarding a boat, so now I'm thinking there are balloons that are boarded from high up on buildings? I'm puzzled by the use of this word and it isn't explained.

- "a couple more blocks" - to me this is a modern concept, challenges my comfort with the setting.

- "about five meters tall" - This really challenges my acceptance of the setting. I'm presuming it pseudo-historical low tech, because of the carriages, armour, etc., but a metric until of measurement throws me hard into conflict with a modern, technological setting. I don't like that. Maybe it's consistent with this setting in some way, but I've gone from 

(page 3)

- "a dozen bare-chested men worked" - Whoa! I'm struggling to understand how one smithing business can sustain that number of staff. I presume there are other blacksmithing businesses in a city, because there is almost always competition in business. It's just curious. It's not for me to say it's wrong, but it takes me out of the story trying to figure out how this huge blacksmithing business operates effectively. The space along required to accommodate what might be six forges? maybe four? To me, this is worthy of being the royal smithy the work of which is to keep the royal army equipped.

(page 4)

- "man relieving himself in that tannery" - It's not grammar, it's word choice. Little details of logic keep tripping me up and sending me down side tracks when I should just be reading over them to follow the story. The large smithy was one, here's another. I don't understand why they were inside the tannery. Walking past it, okay (different issue, I'm coming to that), but the implication is that man is inside the building or a yard or something peeing, so they must be inside to see it. Second issue, I'm no expert, but I would not expect to find a tannery in the centre of town, for the exact reason you state about the smell, the waste, etc.

- In general, this wandering around and the banter; it's entertaining enough for me to keep reading, but it all hinges on this pretext of L's for seeing some of the city. That seems rather flippant. I'm not sure what it says about her character. I'm trying to decide if I like it or not.

(page 5)

- The thing about the armour not fitting It seems unlikely to me. If the man is the royal blacksmith, I would expect his work to be much better than it sounds. The errors in the work seems considerable, not just tweaks or L being a perfectionist. And then he doesn't seem to know about making casts, which I would expect a royal blacksmith to know about, since royal patronage would only come to someone at the peak of his profession. The end result is I'm left feeling unconvinced, like the writer is engineering this scenario for the purposes of being able to write and argument and have L be angry and forceful.

(page 6)

- So both L and A have black hair? That's going to be confusing (potentially). There voices sound fairly similar as it is. I know you've mentioned A is the 'obviously' pretty one, but that's not enough for me to be able to distinguish between them in my mind's eye. I don't want reams of description, but there are ways to distinguish characters, of course.

- The skirts comments made me stop and go huh. The implication is that L would be wearing a skirt in battle, because it's mentioned by the smith that the greaves would be covered it. I find that very hard to believe. The potential for tripping on it, or being caught by it by opponents, or it snagging on the something on the battlefield would be significant, I would have thought.

(page 7)

- On the subject of distinguishing between the two female characters, you mention that A has copper and gold thread, whereas L has silver. In my mind, without anything to tell me otherwise, gold thread would be more exclusive than silver, surely. Also, how thick must this thread be to make any kind of material difference to the weighting of a hem? I would think it would need to be actual thin chain. Gold thread, such as one would sew with, I think, does not actually have significant weight as such. @industrialistDragon, help me out here, am I close?

- Also in relation to distinguishing between the characters and their stations, in my head, A is the more sophisticated, more gentile-sounding name to me: L sounds harder phonetically. Also, both characters have 3-sylible names. These things affect my ability to remember which character is the lady and which is the servant/companion.

(page 8)

- "such a big deal" - This is a totally modern expression, and dumped my out of the story onto my backside, looking around bemusedly. I know some authors believe that this sort of thing is fine is pseudo-period fantasy. I don't. I think of it this way: you are creating a world in which human society has developed in a particular way, or reached a particular point (low tech). That is analogous to a historical period in Earth society's development. A very effective way to put the reader into the frame of mind is to omit phrases that align the story stetting to a period of Earth history that is far more advanced technologically than your story setting. The corollary is that such phrases take the reader out of any level of immersion that your prose has created to that point. Summary: I don't like it :P ;)

- "breathing a sigh of relief" - I've been assuming we're in L's POV, but this is borderline A's POV. 

(page 9)

- If I haven't said it already, I find the prose easy to read grammatically, and I very much enjoy that since it makes the word so much easier to critique. This said, I go back to what I said before about logic and the little details that I find it hard to parse. "I told them I’d get what they needed" - L is a royal, this has been established. I struggle to believe that she would have the time to get supplies on behalf of the physicians. HOWEVER, this could be made convincing (which it very much is not for me in this form). The problem for me is that the physicians are described in this generic way. Why would a royal go out of her way for a bunch of physicians that she doesn't know well enough to use a name, that's essentially her running an errand for people that are not 'valued' enough in the story to be named. For this to be convincing, I believe it has to be presented as a personal favour for a trusted physician, a character. 'I offered to collect some bortle flower from the apothecary for High Physician Klemperer.'

- "when someone required the same medicines three times a day" - Ah, but wait, there is more to this than initially presented. If L has personal (i.e. family stakes) in this, I think you need to present that bang up front, which would partly diffuse my problem with the errand is first presented.

(page 10)

- "you’re awfully cheeky at times" - ten pages in, the banter continues, but it does not feel that the story is advancing. There's plenty go character establishment, but I feel you've done this already. I felt pages ago that A was cheeky and that was the tone of their relationship. This is another argument where I don't think you need it. It's the first chapter and I think it's important that you move on from the relationship stuff sooner and get to the bigger framing aspects. Who is L? Where are we? What is the status of the political situation (at war, peace, tensions with the lower classes, evil wizard threatening the Queendom)? I need more framing details by this point.

- "feeling a deep exhaustion" - Huh? Why? I don't understand.

(page 11)

- "hard to remember the girl was only sixteen" - Oh, I put her older than that, maybe 19-21. I would have needed this detail sooner, now I have to recalibrate my impressions of their discussion from the last 10 pages.

(page 12)

- "We have to get the medicines and such to the physicians so they have supplies for the next few days" - back to the prose. I'm still enjoying how smoothly it reads, but I think it is wordy and that--in a robust edit--the word count could be cut down fairly hard in place. I think the main problem is that often we are told things that we already know, that have already been established. Here, we know why L went to get the supplies, and it's obvious why the physicians (so generic) want them, so, the last bit is redundant.

- I like the description as we are going into the square, but there's nothing visual about the square itself. A civic square would be a large an impressive place, perhaps with statuary, planting beds, etc. I feel like it's a missed opportunity to show us the scale of the city and some of it's grandeur (or not), to strike a tone for the place other than just generic fantasy city, which is kind of what we're getting at present. Also, I did not understand why L found things less vibrant.

- "like the bottom maw" - I'm positive that the maw is the opening: did you mean 'jaw'?

(page 13)

- I enjoyed A's heartfelt 'speech'.

- "but there’s there are too many historical consistencies" - plural disagreement.

- I've heard of 'lallygagging', but not the version here.

(page 14)

- "full ten meters" - I'll stress it again, I think this would be much more 'in tone' with the story if you gave heights and such feet and distances as yards. Also, 10m doesn't sound all the impressive, only 30 feet, compared to the language used to describe it, when you don't give us the height of the whole building. Seven stories could be 70 to 100 feet, plus another 30 and your keep is 130 feet high. Another thing that tripped me up is "seven above-ground floors" - sounds really awkward, which was unusual considering how well everything else reads, to me. I would cut 'above-ground': stories or floors are above ground by default. So, you could say it has seven stories and three basement levels (for example), and it's entirely still clear, I think.

(page 16)

- "You handled that well" - is this really worthy of remark? Actually, it's a bit maid-and-butler. Surely, A has seen L interact with children before, has she not?

- I'm not 100% sold on the child's mode of speak.

(page 17)

- "middle-aged beauty unmarred by the scar" - But it is though, by definition. I know what you're going for, I think, but really not sure 'unmarred' is the word.

(page 18)

- "Ama-----" - There are a lot of 'A' names in this story for places and people. That's going to be confusing.

- "cotton-mouthed" - that sounds rather insulting, and I'm not entirely surely what it sounds like.

(page 21)

- "who had a bad habit" - presumably, he still does have the bad habit, so 'had a bad habit' would be fine.

- "so they always ended up bad" - for one thing, this statement it too general for me. Surely they can't always end up badly, he must get it right sometimes, even if it's only by accident, it he's trying to do good. Secondly, 'ended up bad' is not great grammatically. I would say 'always ended badly'.

- Decent ending note for the chapter. I'm interested to read on a see what happens.

Overall

There's good writing here. The prose flows well, for me, and I rarely felt the need to comment and things, grammatically speaking. I'm just not sure I'm convinced about some of the logic, which I've commented upon. Not great swathes of it, just some of the decisions, and small details of the set up.

So, how does it leave me feeling overall? It's solid writing, and the characters are interesting, entertaining, without being enthralling. I'm interested in the situation. It's good that we're not dealing with invading troops or monster attacking. The situation seems to be the potential unrest/disruption if the Queen dies. So, a more political angle, at least at first. I like that. The thing that nags at me is that I'm just not sure I'm gripped by the plot (which is pretty light at the moment) or the characters. Interested, yes; compelled to read on. Not yet. I would read on though, definitely, in the expectation that things ramped up in the next chapter.

Thanks for sharing. I did enjoy reading it. :) 

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 31/07/2019 at 0:55 AM, industrialistDragon said:

"deep, breathy voice" // "slim, youthful beauty"

I totally clocked this, but my assumption was that L was gay, although it wasn't outright stated, the gaze implied it to me. If I misinterpreted that, then yes, I would agree with I.D.

On 03/08/2019 at 3:40 AM, kais said:

I read it inherently as showing interest

Yes, exactly how I read it.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, Robinski said:

Gold thread, such as one would sew with, I think, does not actually have significant weight as such. @industrialistDragon, help me out here, am I close?

lol, Well... actually... ;) So, two things: One, it doesn't take a ton of weight to affect the drape of a skirt, and two this is not sewing, really, it's embroidery. Goldwork has a really long and interesting history! I never got too into the hand arts like embroidery and the like, but the threads used for goldwork, historically were real metal wires. Depending on the amount of money you had (goldwork has always started at expensive and climbed from there), the threads used would be various thicknesses of solid wire, wire coiled into a tight spring, foil or flat wire wrapped around a core, or base metal with a thin layer of gold plated onto it somehow. Mostly, the gold wires were couched onto the base fabric with a different type of thread (silk is common, iirc). Often there were raised shapes of felt or batting that the gold was worked over, giving the embroideries depth and a sculptural appearance. Then there's the beads and sparklies which would also go along with goldwork. These would be made out of solid metal or glass (or painted wood or bone or horn or clay, etc for the less well-off), and you can see how it would start to add up!

So while it might not be considered heavy in general, say, when measured against, like, bowling balls or something, a band of embroidery around the hem of a skirt (especially if it's intended as a weight, and was constructed with that in mind) could affect the way the skirt hangs such that the skirt is less likely to swirl around with movement. The sheer number of stitches involved in embroidery has a stiffening effect in most cases, as well. Embroidery alone won't make it hang perfectly immobile and never moving, but iirc, the goldwork functioning as it was as-written was believable to me. 

And of course, a few links: :)

a brief history of goldwork from the Goldwork Guild: http://www.thegoldworkguild.com/history/

A blog post about restoring some more modern goldwork: https://www.needlenthread.com/2013/02/deconstructing-goldwork-embroidery-part-i.html

Wiki: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goldwork_(embroidery)

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, industrialistDragon said:

but the threads used for goldwork, historically were real metal wires

That's good enough for me. Thank you, I.D. :) My perspective comes from my Mum doing embroidery and macrame in the 80/90's and having thread that was gold, silver, copper and bronze-coloured, but actually fairly pretty light weight, as it was more like a colour applied or spliced with a basic cotton thread.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, Robinski said:

my Mum doing embroidery and macrame in the 80/90's and having thread that was gold, silver, copper and bronze-coloured,

Yes, modern "metallic" threads are usually some kind of plastic or artificial metallic color wrapped around or dyed into a fiber core. Up sides include (as you noted) extremely light weight and drastically lower chance of tarnishing.  

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 8/10/2019 at 6:40 AM, Robinski said:

- "Go ahead and go back up to the keep" - Okay, sorry but this is all over the place. There are literally three different instruction here 'Go ahead', 'go back' and '(go) up to the keep'. I know characters are allowed to say what they like, and most certainly don't have to be grammatically correct, but in the opening of the story, it's crippling to have a line that is so vague. The pointer on my boding alarm swings slightly towards 'ill'.

Yeah, I've noticed that as well. That's going to need some revision, because part of the problem is that that's the way I talk.

 

On 8/10/2019 at 6:40 AM, Robinski said:

"their jetties creating a canopy" - Huh? A jetty is for boarding a boat, so now I'm thinking there are balloons that are boarded from high up on buildings? I'm puzzled by the use of this word and it isn't explained.

Jettying is a type of construction used commonly in medieval building construction, where the upper levels overhang the street as a way to improve the amount of space one could have despite limited floor space within the city.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jettying

Spoiler

 

On 8/10/2019 at 6:40 AM, Robinski said:

"about five meters tall" - This really challenges my acceptance of the setting. I'm presuming it pseudo-historical low tech, because of the carriages, armour, etc., but a metric until of measurement throws me hard into conflict with a modern, technological setting.

On 8/10/2019 at 6:40 AM, Robinski said:

"full ten meters" - I'll stress it again, I think this would be much more 'in tone' with the story if you gave heights and such feet and distances as yards. Also, 10m doesn't sound all the impressive, only 30 feet, compared to the language used to describe it, when you don't give us the height of the whole building. Seven stories could be 70 to 100 feet, plus another 30 and your keep is 130 feet high. Another thing that tripped me up is "seven above-ground floors" - sounds really awkward, which was unusual considering how well everything else reads, to me. I would cut 'above-ground': stories or floors are above ground by default. So, you could say it has seven stories and three basement levels (for example), and it's entirely still clear, I think.

Yeah, this didn't work for me either on a couple more read-throughs. I'll probably switch back to imperial.

On 8/10/2019 at 6:40 AM, Robinski said:

"a dozen bare-chested men worked" - Whoa! I'm struggling to understand how one smithing business can sustain that number of staff. I presume there are other blacksmithing businesses in a city, because there is almost always competition in business. It's just curious. It's not for me to say it's wrong, but it takes me out of the story trying to figure out how this huge blacksmithing business operates effectively. The space along required to accommodate what might be six forges? maybe four? To me, this is worthy of being the royal smithy the work of which is to keep the royal army equipped.

Noted.

On 8/10/2019 at 6:40 AM, Robinski said:

The thing about the armour not fitting It seems unlikely to me. If the man is the royal blacksmith, I would expect his work to be much better than it sounds. The errors in the work seems considerable, not just tweaks or L being a perfectionist. And then he doesn't seem to know about making casts, which I would expect a royal blacksmith to know about, since royal patronage would only come to someone at the peak of his profession. The end result is I'm left feeling unconvinced, like the writer is engineering this scenario for the purposes of being able to write and argument and have L be angry and forceful.

This has more to do with world-building. It's an error I'm working to fix in the next draft--basically, soldiery isn't a well-looked on profession, so people that put care into things made for soldiers are kind of supporting an undesirable business.

On 8/10/2019 at 6:40 AM, Robinski said:

So both L and A have black hair? That's going to be confusing (potentially). There voices sound fairly similar as it is. I know you've mentioned A is the 'obviously' pretty one, but that's not enough for me to be able to distinguish between them in my mind's eye. I don't want reams of description, but there are ways to distinguish characters, of course.

Working on this in the rewrite. L's hair is actually a very, very dark blue. There's probably a better word I can use...part of this just comes down to my personal color palette.

On 8/10/2019 at 6:40 AM, Robinski said:

The skirts comments made me stop and go huh. The implication is that L would be wearing a skirt in battle, because it's mentioned by the smith that the greaves would be covered it. I find that very hard to believe. The potential for tripping on it, or being caught by it by opponents, or it snagging on the something on the battlefield would be significant, I would have thought.

Again, this goes to the world-building. Legs are supposed to be hidden, so soldiers often wear slitted skirts over trousers to have the appearance of modesty while freedom of mobility...not that that's really understood given the current text. Working on fixing this.

On 8/10/2019 at 6:40 AM, Robinski said:

Also in relation to distinguishing between the characters and their stations, in my head, A is the more sophisticated, more gentile-sounding name to me: L sounds harder phonetically. Also, both characters have 3-sylible names. These things affect my ability to remember which character is the lady and which is the servant/companion.

That's intentional.

On 8/10/2019 at 6:40 AM, Robinski said:

"you’re awfully cheeky at times" - ten pages in, the banter continues, but it does not feel that the story is advancing. There's plenty go character establishment, but I feel you've done this already. I felt pages ago that A was cheeky and that was the tone of their relationship. This is another argument where I don't think you need it. It's the first chapter and I think it's important that you move on from the relationship stuff sooner and get to the bigger framing aspects. Who is L? Where are we? What is the status of the political situation (at war, peace, tensions with the lower classes, evil wizard threatening the Queendom)? I need more framing details by this point.

Thanks, that's a good bit of advice. Half the problem is just knowing if I've hit the situation thoroughly enough.

On 8/10/2019 at 6:40 AM, Robinski said:

If I haven't said it already, I find the prose easy to read grammatically, and I very much enjoy that since it makes the word so much easier to critique. This said, I go back to what I said before about logic and the little details that I find it hard to parse. "I told them I’d get what they needed" - L is a royal, this has been established. I struggle to believe that she would have the time to get supplies on behalf of the physicians. HOWEVER, this could be made convincing (which it very much is not for me in this form). The problem for me is that the physicians are described in this generic way. Why would a royal go out of her way for a bunch of physicians that she doesn't know well enough to use a name, that's essentially her running an errand for people that are not 'valued' enough in the story to be named. For this to be convincing, I believe it has to be presented as a personal favour for a trusted physician, a character. 'I offered to collect some bortle flower from the apothecary for High Physician Klemperer.'

- "when someone required the same medicines three times a day" - Ah, but wait, there is more to this than initially presented. If L has personal (i.e. family stakes) in this, I think you need to present that bang up front, which would partly diffuse my problem with the errand is first presented.

I'm glad it reads well. That's a good suggestion...I think I'll take your recommendation here.

 

On 8/10/2019 at 6:40 AM, Robinski said:

"like the bottom maw" - I'm positive that the maw is the opening: did you mean 'jaw'?

Yes. Typo.

On 8/10/2019 at 6:40 AM, Robinski said:

I'm not 100% sold on the child's mode of speak.

Lol. I'm actually mimicking the way my daughter speaks, so it's more phonetic than proper.

On 8/10/2019 at 6:40 AM, Robinski said:

- "cotton-mouthed" - that sounds rather insulting, and I'm not entirely surely what it sounds like.

This might be an American idiom...but it's a way of describing an accent that sounds a bit thicker and less precise than one might be used to. I might have phrased it the wrong way here though, because it's usually described as a "mouth stuffed with cotton".

On 8/10/2019 at 6:40 AM, Robinski said:

"who had a bad habit" - presumably, he still does have the bad habit, so 'had a bad habit' would be fine.

- "so they always ended up bad" - for one thing, this statement it too general for me. Surely they can't always end up badly, he must get it right sometimes, even if it's only by accident, it he's trying to do good. Secondly, 'ended up bad' is not great grammatically. I would say 'always ended badly'.

Mm. I'll think about this. Part of it grammatically is that I'm slipping through L's mental voice instead of my own, but it's a small change.

On 8/10/2019 at 6:40 AM, Robinski said:

There's good writing here. The prose flows well, for me, and I rarely felt the need to comment and things, grammatically speaking. I'm just not sure I'm convinced about some of the logic, which I've commented upon. Not great swathes of it, just some of the decisions, and small details of the set up.

So, how does it leave me feeling overall? It's solid writing, and the characters are interesting, entertaining, without being enthralling. I'm interested in the situation. It's good that we're not dealing with invading troops or monster attacking. The situation seems to be the potential unrest/disruption if the Queen dies. So, a more political angle, at least at first. I like that. The thing that nags at me is that I'm just not sure I'm gripped by the plot (which is pretty light at the moment) or the characters. Interested, yes; compelled to read on. Not yet. I would read on though, definitely, in the expectation that things ramped up in the next chapter.

Thanks for sharing. I did enjoy reading it. :)

That's good to hear. <phew>

On 8/10/2019 at 6:40 AM, Robinski said:

Also, how thick must this thread be to make any kind of material difference to the weighting of a hem? I would think it would need to be actual thin chain. Gold thread, such as one would sew with, I think, does not actually have significant weight as such. @industrialistDragon, help me out here, am I close?

I.D. is correct that this is actual metal wire woven/embroidered into the skirts. Also,

On 8/10/2019 at 6:40 AM, Robinski said:

In my mind, without anything to tell me otherwise, gold thread would be more exclusive than silver, surely.

I need to mention this in the chapter, because gold is less valuable then silver here. Silver is...quite expensive, last time I looked at my coinage spreadsheet.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 13/08/2019 at 8:18 PM, Alderant said:

that's the way I talk

Fair enough, and I'm certainly not criticising the way you talk (I have a tendency to blather myself). It's just at the start fo the story and all. 

On 13/08/2019 at 8:18 PM, Alderant said:

Jettying is a type of construction used commonly in medieval building construction, where the upper levels overhang the street as a way to improve the amount of space one could have despite limited floor space within the city.

I understand, and I have learned something. Very interesting. My issue remains that I wonder how many people would now this. If 60% (random number)

On 13/08/2019 at 8:18 PM, Alderant said:

Yeah, this didn't work for me either on a couple more read-throughs. I'll probably switch back to imperial.

In life, I'm System Internationale pretty much the whole way when it comes to distance, and yet I'm still 5'11", and my weight comes in stones and pounds, and speed limits in the UK are in miles per hour. Okay, basically it's a mess... :unsure:  But my comment stands. I'm pleased you're thinking on those lines.

On 13/08/2019 at 8:18 PM, Alderant said:

This has more to do with world-building. It's an error I'm working to fix in the next draft--basically, soldiery isn't a well-looked on profession, so people that put care into things made for soldiers are kind of supporting an undesirable business.

And, the whole thing made sense when it turned out later that the brother order the armour but didn't check the size. It all made sense later, but not at the time.

On 13/08/2019 at 8:18 PM, Alderant said:

That's intentional.

Interesting.

On 13/08/2019 at 8:18 PM, Alderant said:
On 10/08/2019 at 11:40 AM, Robinski said:

I'm not 100% sold on the child's mode of speak.

Lol. I'm actually mimicking the way my daughter speaks, so it's more phonetic than proper.

Lol, well, I can't argue with that, and listen to me, 'mode of speak' :rolleyes:  That was a typo.

On 13/08/2019 at 8:18 PM, Alderant said:

because it's usually described as a "mouth stuffed with cotton"

Ah, that's different. So, like Marlon Brandon in The Godfather then... I'm with you!

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.