Ookla the Partitioner

Reading Excuses - 11/11/19 - aeromancer - Stranger in a Foreign Land Pt.1 - 5106

17 posts in this topic

Hey all, it's been a while since I last submitted. This is part 1 of a two part short story, and I'll try to submit the next section as soon as possible, as there are a few unanswered questions that the second part should deal with. This is 'Stranger in a Foreign Land', set in a low fantasy setting. I had a curious idea for a setting and protagonist, and this is my first attempt at it, recycling an old world to do it in. Quick heads up - everyone's nocturnal. Oh, and I forgot to mention early, but this story very much subscribes to Sir Winston Churchill's theory of making points.

The feedback I'm looking for is how you felt the story developed and whether you were interested in the characters. Aside from that, everything is fair game, all critiques accepted. If something's unclear, just ask. Thanks!
Edited by aeromancer
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I eagerly await the story!!!!

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Interesting story, though it reads more like the intro to an RPG than a book. I liked Tempter a lot, as he gave the story some nice levity. Got confused over all the role names and why they mattered if this is already half the story, especially why there needed to be three types of werewolf.
Overall, there's a lot of telling and not much showing, which makes the dialogue stilted. It seems like part of a larger world, though, so good job on that. This half was mostly explanation of worldbuilding, thought, so I'm wondering how much content is in the second half.

Character-wise, S is kind of one-dimensional, but Z is interesting and I like Tempter.

11 hours ago, aeromancer said:

this story very much subscribes to Sir Winston Churchill's theory of making points

Not sure what this means. I'm not familiar with it. Did a quick search on it and didn't come up with anything either.


Notes while reading:
pg 1: "Ea’s sliver could scarcely make it through the branches"
--took me two readings to figure out this was a moon, not a character.

pg 1: "The first rule any intelligent predator learned is that there will always be another predator higher up the food chain"
--Except there's such a thing as an apex predator, and it seems like he is one of them.

pg 1: I feel like bright- and light- will be confusing prefixes for wolves.

pg 3: "His creature companion killed it"
--Tempter? The small creature that can perch on a staff?

pg 3: "His nocturnal eyes were hampered somewhat by his fire’s light, but Z had the good fortune of being taught by a skilled mercenary how to properly keep watch"
--I don't know how much skill can keep your pupils from contracting in light...

pg 4: hmmm, "light" and "bright" seem like they would be confusing compared to "dark" for wolf types.

pg 4: "A grizzled veteran...late forties"
--*lifts eyebrow*

pg 5: The description of Tempter makes it much more believable it took down a deer. A hint of this earlier would be good. I assumed it was some sort of bird.

pg 6: "If you’re a friend of his, you’ve got my respect"
--has this person been brought up before? S just started talking about him for some reason.

pg 7: "Seekers sojourn like a plague or a blight, ever cursed to never use moon’s light'
--this is kind of clunky. Could take our "ever" and it would scan better.

pg 8: "Anything else I could help you out with"
--was he helping? 

pg 9: "And there’s something you should know about him. Tempter feeds off of emotions for sustenance, not food"
--This is tell-y. A lot of this conversation has been.

pg 9: "with the guild rank of half-moon "
--I thought the half-moon referred to the moons' position in a few days, when S was talking before.
--oh, he explains it. Alright, but still very tell-y

pg 9: "This is why everyone hates Seekers"
--because they use logic?

pg 11: "mentally translating"
--I thought it was pretty clear.

pg 12: "He loved an inn, especially at this time of night. Z had arrived an hour before dawn"
--Is the inn busiest right before dawn? I would have though late evening instead.

pg 13-14: There's a lot of small talk on these pages that doesn't really do anything.

pg 14: "took a sip of the red ale"
--wait, I thought he said he didn't drink?

pg 15: "Not that he wanted to run this Guild, but his type doesn’t exactly like not being alpha."
--So is the guild all werewolves? Confused.

pg 16: More confused. Z is a member of the guild? Is this the gramarye he talked about before? I don't know what it is.

pg 17: "Can I enlist you on a Guild mission?”
--this reads more like the beginning of am RPG than a short story.

pg 17: "over the break of dawn?”"
--strange phrase.

pg 18: "His weapons marked him plainly as a Forger"
--So the guild isn't for just gramerye people. Who is it for? 

pg 19: "Tomorrow at dusk, I’ll give the two of you this assignment and the information"
--Huh? I thought he gave it to Z? And why wait for a day?
--ok, so I guess they're going to work together.

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ETA: LITERALLY THE SECOND this post went through, it popped up in my email!

Argh, another sub that didn't come through. @aeromancer could you send me your sub directly?

@Silk or @Robinski any thoughts on why subs seem to not be coming through to me? It's sporadic, and they're not in my junk mail or anything. This is the second time now. Thanks in advance for the help!

Edited by kais
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1 hour ago, kais said:


@Silk or @Robinski any thoughts on why subs seem to not be coming through to me? It's sporadic, and they're not in my junk mail or anything. This is the second time now.

Hmm, I'm not sure, but I'll take a look and see what I can find. :/

@aeromancer I'll respond to your actual sub sometime this week!

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@kais Having it getting delayed a few days is kind of weird, but that means the problem isn't probably on your end. @SilkI'd guess there's some issue with the relay? Have you tried sending a test email and checking when everyone gets it to see what's happening?

Anyway, I've sent kais a copy even though it seems the email might have gone through after all. @GoWibble, if you're suffering from the same problem (I sent it Monday night, 11:59 EST), then just send me a message or reply here, and I'll send you it directly.

 

Now onto @Mandamon review!

22 hours ago, Mandamon said:

Interesting story, though it reads more like the intro to an RPG than a book. I liked Tempter a lot, as he gave the story some nice levity. Got confused over all the role names and why they mattered if this is already half the story, especially why there needed to be three types of werewolf.
Overall, there's a lot of telling and not much showing, which makes the dialogue stilted. It seems like part of a larger world, though, so good job on that. This half was mostly explanation of worldbuilding, thought, so I'm wondering how much content is in the second half.

That does make sense it sounds like an RPG, I've been GM'ing quite a bit lately so it seemed natural to do that, when I probably didn't need to. I do want to make it feel like a stereotypical fantasy to some extent, but I was worried that I might have gone overboard in the exposition. The second half should be much better on that score. (The Guild, incidentally, is a bones-standard Adventurer's Guild.)

22 hours ago, Mandamon said:

pg 1: "The first rule any intelligent predator learned is that there will always be another predator higher up the food chain"
--Except there's such a thing as an apex predator, and it seems like he is one of them.

"There's always a bigger fish." - Obi-Wan Kenobi. (And S isn't an apex. Technically, a darkwolf is stronger than he is.) I suppose I can switch it to something like 'First rule of the hunt - make sure you're always the hunter', but that seemed a bit stereotypical...except, as you also point out ...

22 hours ago, Mandamon said:

pg 4: "A grizzled veteran...late forties"
--*lifts eyebrow*

I see your point. S is really just a plot device though, so I'm not sure I want him to be anything more than a glorified stereotype. Still, I'd rather not raise eyebrows. (But at least I didn't get an eye roll.)

22 hours ago, Mandamon said:

pg 12: "He loved an inn, especially at this time of night. Z had arrived an hour before dawn"
--Is the inn busiest right before dawn? I would have though late evening instead.

pg 17: "over the break of dawn?”"
--strange phrase.

pg 19: "Tomorrow at dusk, I’ll give the two of you this assignment and the information"
--Huh? I thought he gave it to Z? And why wait for a day?
--ok, so I guess they're going to work together.

The world of Cieri is nocturnal. Everyone uses moon-based powers (except for Z), so I figured that as long as I was doing that, I might as well just turn everyone nocturnal. Unfortunately, I never found a way to make it explicit in the text without it feeling like I was jabbing the reader in the eyes, so I was trying to swap in and out phases to indicate as such.

22 hours ago, Mandamon said:

pg 14: "took a sip of the red ale"
--wait, I thought he said he didn't drink?

That needs to be clearer. The vial is distilled which Z doesn't drink. But red ale is much lighter, around 4%. And it's not that Z is forbidden to drink, he just chooses not to touch hard stuff. The reason why he doesn't consider red ale to be alcohol is because (as befitting something which is based off 10th century Europe) something that light isn't considered to be drinking at all.

Most of the other comments are pointing out times I told, not showed, or asking for clarification. I'll address them, but it seems like the story works well as a set-up for the second half. Thank you for your comments!

Ah, last thing. There's an oft-attributed quote to Winston Churchill about making points and pile drivers (namely using the second to make the first). I've looked it over, and I can't find a reputable source which confirms he said it, but it's not among the quotes which have definitely been fabricated. As it stands, Churchill would have agreed with the quote in theory, so even if he never said it, I don't feel bad attributing it to him.

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Overall

I thought the characters were pretty fine for a draft. They are distinct, especially the little dragon thing, and their voices are all a bit different from other characters of yours I have read. So I had few quibbles with that. The story, however, I'm not clear on. It read like a giant worldbuilding dump and I don't know what the actual plot is, the arc, and it lacks an inciting incident. I think this might be more world build wander writing, which I do a ton, and in a final draft could probably be much trimmed back.

 

As I go

- you've got a double 'yet' in the second sentence

- pg 2: the wolf can smell the meat in a pan? Like, specifically that it's in a pan and not a skillet or a pot? Or a spit?

- redundancy on 'little' on page three

- pg 4: he gets clothes when he transforms? Interesting. I have questions

- pg 6: 'Old Grown Tree' I really want to be something like... tree specific. Like something a tree would call another super cool tree. Like... Maple at the Tree Line or Nurse Log of the Forest. But I realize these are... super nerdy.

- pg 8: I was fine until the 'you can tell me about All Cracked..." because this is the place I would expect plot to start, and instead its more worldbuilding backstory

- pg 13: I do like the 'male' part before witch. It catches my attention

- pg 16: still really wondering what the plot arc is

- pg 17: too much worldbuilding. I can't keep it all straight

 

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I agree with @Mandamon that there was a lot of telling and not much showing going on with this story, and I agree with @kais in that I had trouble figuring out what was going on, or even where the story was supposed to start.

The world does seem interesting, and if the apothecary is what the story is about, I am interested to read more about her. However, by the end of this sections, I am still unsure what the story is or is about. It felt like a lot of half-starts to stories that didn't go anywhere for me. It appeared to be about the wolf, S, but then it was not. It appeared to be about Z traveling, but it was not. I thought maybe it could be Z going to the town because he had heard of a problem, but it wasn't that either, since he is given an apparently completely different problem to investigate once he arrives. It could be a story about problems within the guild, but it is not. I was left with a great number of things it is not, but very few that the story felt like it actually was about. I was left wondering "is this the inciting incident" so often that I was never able to be fully invested in the story or the characters.

The protagonists are distinct from each other, but I did not get a good sense of their personalities beyond that. The side characters had a bit more going on, but that made it more difficult for me to figure out what the protagonists were about. Many of the characters seemed more interested in naming things and listing professions, skills, and abilities than interacting with the environment. With so much information being provided in lists, without much character interaction to ground it for me as an important piece of information, I had trouble telling what was important to the characters or what they cared about. 

 

As I go:

At first I thought the silver/Ea was the wolf, then I thought it was another person calling to the wolf, but it's a planet? A moon? 

I also stumbled over bright/light similarities

I am not getting that much sense of personality from this wolf.  He seems to be more interested in explaining his abilities than in interacting with his surroundings. All of the things he explains are good things to have thought about as an author, but I'm wondering this early on why I need to know them as a reader. Some things, like a wolf's vision and sense of smell, I'm sort of wondering why they need to be remarked on at all, if they're not any different from what we'd normally expect from a wolf.

I am confused as to how many animal companions Z has at this campfire scene. It seems like two or three to me?

There are a lot of named jobs and concepts being thrown around here and not a whole lot of relevant information to attach to them. If S is a wolf of a single particular type, and Z is a single particular profession, why do I need to know about all of the other professions that exist and about all of the other types of wolves that exist, especially right here at the beginning? 

So this problem with the town apothecary is the main part of the story? It feels to me like a lot of the first eleven pages could be slimmed down to get to the purpose of the story a little bit sooner.

 

 

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Hi @aeromancer! I liked the characters in this story, especially T. The "characters who don't like each other get stuck working together" is a bit of a cliched plot element, but I was interested anyway because of Z. You established earlier that a Forger and an Alchemist liked him well enough to give him gifts, and given the enmity between his faction and everyone else, I wondered how he managed to befriend them. I'm hoping we'll learn that as we see him working with P.

The world of this story is really interesting and makes me want to read more about it. However, there were places where the story felt very tell-y. There are a lot of different factions with their own abilities, and while that makes the story feel like it's part of a larger setting, I wonder if we need as many details as we get at the beginning. There may be some factions that we don't really need to know more about than their name and that they use moonlight. And for the ones we do need detailed info on, perhaps that could be spread out through the story a bit more. As it is, assuming that this is half the story by length, nearly all the actual plot will be happening in the second half. Obviously, I haven't read that yet, but my concern is that important story elements like N's characterization, the development of P and Z's working relationship, and Z figuring out the mystery of what scared S off will feel really compressed.

As I go:

Page 1

it was too early in the evening and late in the month for the almost full yet waning A to show up yet

I think you’re trying to cram a bit too much information into one clause here, and it ends up reading awkwardly.

 

A wolf’s nose is sensitive enough to smell patches of fragrant herbs on the far side of a forest, sensitive enough to detect a musk of prey hiding deep in their burrows and dens, and even sensitive enough to follow scent trails up clean, crisp streams of water.

I love how vividly you describe the importance of scent here. I also appreciated that you put it in terms of things a wolf would care about.

 

 

Page 2

The fragrant aroma of roasting deer

In the previous paragraph, you described the smell as “assaulting” S’s nostrils. When I’ve seen that word used to describe smells before, it’s always been unpleasant ones, like a rotting corpse. So the wording primed me to expect something dangerous or unsettling, and I was a little thrown when it turned out to be something good.

 

 

Page 3

And that was when he spotted the wolf slowing moving towards his campfire.

I’m not one of the "You must never use adverbs!" people, but in this case, I think a single verb like “slinking” or “stalking” might be more evocative than “slowly moving.”

 

 

Page 10

“But scared has never been one of them.”

“Hhh. True.”

“Idiot. Of course I get scared – it’s saved my life a few times.”

I’m a little confused about what’s going on here. The first line is Z, so when he says “my kind,” he’s clearly not talking about the wolves. But S responds to T’s comment about it being true as if it was his people Z was talking about.

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Hey, Aero, glad to see you back!

Page 1

I need to comment on the title, which is almost exactly the same as Robert Heinlein’s ‘Stranger in a Strange Land’. Maybe it’s only old gits like me who would moan about it, but it’s impossible for me not to think of that old (classic) novel. I'm not sure if it's deliberate, but I'm not sure that you would want the comparison.

The opening is not clear to me. I did not get that E was a moon, largely because of the phrasing ‘make it through’ which sounds like someone moving through trees. I thought E was the wolf which is also moving through the forest. Show up is also kind of vague phrasing when used for a moon, which would be rising usually.

I’m not going to all out all the little things, but there are quiet a few first draft issues where the phrasing is distracting me, although I still get the sense of it. For example, every kill is freshly caught, it’s only after it’s caught and killed that it has the opportunity to become less fresh.

Page 2

I think there is maybe a timing issue here. Z turns his attention to the deer and notices the wolf immediately, but the wolf smells the meat from a distance (I thought), implying a gap in time between Z starting to cook and the wolf appearing. I had contributing to this, I think, is my assumption that T ate the meat raw? It does not take long to cook a steak, even well done, and my impression was that the wolf smelled the meat from a long way away.

Page 3

The phrase ‘nocturnal eyes’ kind of bothers me. Creatures are nocturnal, but eyes are light sensitive. I mean, S’s eyes don’t only come out at night.

Page 4

Why would the wolf be surprised? I didn’t get any sense that it was trying to sneak up on Z. It sounded to me like it was moving in the open at the point Z spotted it. 

‘Nice spotting me’ is awkward phrasing. Nice what/how? Nice work, nice luck?

Page 5

‘dive-bombed’ threw me out, because it implied to me technology that I imagine does not exist in the world. I got a strong image of a Stuka, basically.

ACH is a great name. Hollow always makes me think of Sleepy H, but I think it works here because it implies something quite different of that place, although not sure what (yet).

Also, it seems to vary between 'Hollow' and 'Hollows' in this draft.

Page 6

There are quite a few terms and names thrown around that I do not know anything about, but I can pretty much roll with them and take them as colour, as they don’t seem to be pivotal to the plot or even the conversation. It’s pretty much smalltalk at this point. I did trip over everyone making stuff at half moons, because it wasn’t really explained why. I guess the light? But it’s not yet explicit what the light’s power is, I feel. Also, I’d have thought a seeker would find it easier to seek with increased moonlight. 

Page 7

So, you asked about characters. Neither Z or S are all that engaging, if I’m honest. Pretty standard and not standing out as characters from a line up of NPCs until they get onto why seekers don’t use the light. That’s when my interest perks up a bit and it feels like we’re talking about something that might be a source of conflict. I think this issue is that I don't know what their motivations are, I don't really know what the stakes of the story are, or their personal stakes. So, while I think this is some of the best writing I have read from you in terms of delivery, I want more to buy into from the start.

Page 8

When Z asks about ACH I feared a big info dump, but it was nicely dodged by S confounding my expectation by saying it was rubbish and he was leaving. 

Page 9

I was trying to decide if I’d have liked to have known about T’s feeding on emotions before T started calling out S. I liked it well enough this way, but it did occur to me that because T had been eating venison, the feeding on emotions seemed slightly contradictory. 

“You must have been a...” - passive phrasing ‘You must be...’ is way more active and therefore engaging. 

Status report: I’m more engaged now than I was at first. When I read ‘werewolf’ and ‘wizard-with-familiar’ (as it came over to me), I was kind of meh, not exactly groundbreaking. The moon(s) as source of power, yeah, seen it before. Things are picking up now because the location of ACH is presented as somewhere ‘we’ shouldn’t go; a source of mystery and danger. It took a little while to get to that engagement point, for me.

Also, you say it’s a short, but it’s 10/11k words? That’s firmly in the middle of typical novelette range by most definitions (7500 to 17000 words). It reads more like novel pace to me.

Z’s spiel revealing to S how he spotted what kind of wolf he was, if I’m honest, it kindle of washed over me. I was not really fixing on the rules of the world. When it comes to Sandersonian magic systems, to some extent they leave me a bit cold. I believe in Sanderson’s laws, but I don’t think that means I need to learn all the rules. So, I believe Z’s explanation, but I don’t really follow it. 

Page 10

Who says the line "Hhh, true"? It seems like S, but this line breaks the pattern of one line of dialogue, turn about, and the tags are quite thin. I don't think "Hhh, true." adds anything and could easily be cut and go straight to S's next line "Idiot..." - Oh, wait, it's T isn't it? It really breaks the flow of that exchange, I think, and causes confusion.

Why can't S believe he's thanking Z for the hospitality? Didn't make sense to me.

"turned back into a wolf" - There's no wonder in this, but I feel there should be. It's just offhand. But readers read for wonder (among other things), I think, and this was an opportunity missed.

Page 11 

I'm itching to do line edits, but I won't. I'll call this out with a couple of example though: word/phrase choice. I know it can be a matter of style and the choice of the author to express ideas in a more simple way, but it does affect my engagement with the story. (1) "S snorted once" - cut once, and you've got the same thing 'S snorted' singular. So, 'once' is unnecessary and over-explains something that is completely clear without it. (2) "mentally translating" - same thing, I would say all translation takes place in the head, so 'mentally' is unnecessary. 

"do I have you to thank for flaring that hunger of his?" - Huh? So, this is another ability of T's? I throws me for a loop the way this is revealed, because I just trust that everything that went before was natural. I didn't see any signs to the contrary. When I read that the wolf wasn't hungry, which I can look back and say 'Huh, right, that's what that was' but at the time it just seemed contradictory and a bit untidy. It doesn't seems necessary and just leaves me kind of confused. Why would T engineer the meeting with the wolf? What are T's motivations? It all comes back to that, I think. I feel I don't know what anyone is trying to do and why.

"will seek this problem" - What problem? Confused. It would help if I understood what a seeker's job was, their role in society.

Page 12 

"We’ll get the next part of the mystery there" - I still don't feel I've got a clear idea of what the mystery is, and why Z is interested in it, when he doesn't seem to have any specific motivation to solve it (a client, a personal stake, etc.).

I get confused here about the meal. It's served in the market, but before it's open? Served to whom? The stallholders? Some grammar issues there too. Also, I did not clear pick up that they'd arrived in the town.

What is it a guild of? This doesn't seem to have been explained.

I feel like there are an increasing number of typos as we go on. All good editing fodder, of course.

Page 14

Ach, another mystery. They tag very clearly that it's very strange for a seek to be in the guild, but then don't explain why, just not at each other and say, that is strange. I find that frustrating. Not everything needs to be a mystery. The reader wants to feel progression and that they are accumulating knowledge, learning about the world, IMO.

Page 15 

Contract for what? Don't follow.

I like the idea of the ranks and the number of segments completed. I still don't know what the Guild does though. Also, the biggest ever guild building and a really senior ranking guilder seems pretty heavy-handed (of the guild). There's no way the guild are trying to conceal whatever it is they are doing here.

Not sure I agree with Z's analysis. Why is it not possible that S just left town and R didn't know anything about it? Maybe it's unlikely that R couldn't guess at what the factors might be, but he might not know the specific reason, and he very well might not know that S had left, IMO.

Page 16 

Again, I'm being taunted with this knowledge about the problem with seek ers that everyone in the story knows about, but I don't. I really begin to wonder if I've forgotten about something from an early page.

Is it only because seeks have no power? Why would that make everyone hate them? if that is the reason they are reviled, I don't get it. I did enjoy the reveal however, it's a good reveal. I think style-wise, it could be played up for greater dramatic effect. I think--because we're in a 'saloon'--I was picturing an old Clint Eastwood spaghetti western where everyone looks at one another through narrowed eyes as the guitar music plays.

Not sure you can give someone a mantra. I think that's something you have to choose for yourself and Z specifically said this was not his.

"a burning desire for curiosity" - This phrase does not mean they have the curiosity itself but that they have a burning desire to have curiosity. I don't think that makes since in this context. Also, curiosity itself is an enormous tapestry. They could be curious about anything within a huge range of possibilities. One could have a burning curiosity about clouds, another about growing vegetables, another about foreign geography and politics. It doesn't sound something that would be a collective thing in the way it's set out. It's very vague.

Page 17 

"It wasn’t as if he had a plan continuing forward, but he didn’t see the Guild as part of it" - How can he not see the guild as part of 'it' if he doesn't have a plan? Contradictory, IMO.

I don't buy this quest. So no one else in this massive guild house is capable of taking this on? R has suspected there was a problem for how long? But he hasn't done anything about it until some guy appears at random. What if Z had not come into town? The implication seems to be that R would just have let things fester away. I find this hard to believe.

Why would P be envious of someone not having powers?

Page 18 

"looked the man over" - Which man? Not really clear.

"he’d be from somewhere nearby" - That kind of sounds like the definition of local to me.

"At least pretend you can" - Can what? Unclear.

"agreeing to fight with T is the surest way to lose" - It's the only way to lose. Can't lose if you don't fight.

"you rile people’s emotions" - I would say 'rile' specifically means to anger someone, but emotions are much wider. You wouldn't rile someone's envy, or rile their love, IMO.

What is 'hhh'? It's used a lot, and I don't quite get it. It's not 'huh', and it's not 'Heh, heh, heh.'

Page 19 

I like the set up of pairing the two misfits together, it's a classic template.

Summary 

I like a lot of what I've read. I'll say again I think it's some of your best stuff that I've read on here. Certainly, the subject and style of the story are much more like what I enjoy to some past stories. I think it can be cut down quite a bit. There is a fair bit of meandering, I think, in this first section, and some bits that feel a bit repetitive or unclear that are not necessary, it seems to me. I would suggest that 'clarity' would be the watchword for the next edit. There are some good opportunities to just come out a say things once clearly and there would not be any need to revisit them.

I like the idea of the society and the way the ranks are set up, nice idea, but I want a very clear set-up for seeks and the guild in the first two or three pages. Not everything needs to be kept back for some kind of dramatic reveal. I've been learning this myself over the last year or so. I think I'm getting there.

You asked specifically about characters. I think Z is a bit bland. If you asked me to describe him now (and I don't mean physically, although I don't think I could do that either), I just can't think of anything that is especially notable about him. He's a decent, serviceable POV character, but I think he needs a unique point or two to mark him out, both physically (and I don't mean some mean-dramatic thing like a peg-leg, of course!!), and also in character terms. He can't fight, that's a decent start, but I just think he can do more to be a standout character. There is some nice byplay with T, but at other times I did not get that it was the creature that was talking..

Another point. lack of female or other gender representation. There is one apparently token female character mentioned in the guild bar and then ignored for the rest of the scene. I presume she is going to play some part, and I suppose the antagonist (apparent) is female, but still. I get that there is a potential scenario in some alternative earth or secondary world in which all the characters with dialogue are male, but you get to make this what you want, and the fact that there are no female dialogue characters so far lessens the story, IMO.

I think this has good potential and I am keen to read the next bit. Thanks for submitting :) 

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On 13/11/2019 at 3:29 PM, aeromancer said:

The Guild, incidentally, is a bones-standard Adventurer's Guild.

Fair enough. I think that needs to be clarified when it's first mentioned. Also, adventuring is not a real job :P I think having that as the guild's raison d'être would make the story feel  quite light-hearted in tone. But maybe that's what you're going for (looking at your response to Mandamon).

On 13/11/2019 at 3:29 PM, aeromancer said:

But at least I didn't get an eye roll.

I am 53, so I get to roll my eyes at late forties :rolleyes:

On 13/11/2019 at 3:29 PM, aeromancer said:

The world of Cieri is nocturnal. Everyone uses moon-based powers

I was okay with those references, although I must admit that I think the story could work harder at selling me on how that affects people in this world. I don't feel immersed in the nocturnal world, since there wasn't much reference to what time or day it was, natural lighting levels, state of the moon, etc. I think that could be enmeshed better in the narrative to make it totally convincing.

On 14/11/2019 at 1:17 AM, kais said:

They are distinct, especially the little dragon thing, and their voices are all a bit different from other characters of yours I have read.

Agree. As well as being probably your best writing I've seen, I think it is your best characterisation, but can still be improved.

On 14/11/2019 at 1:17 AM, kais said:

I don't know what the actual plot is, the arc, and it lacks an inciting incident.

I agree with Kais.

On 15/11/2019 at 0:52 AM, industrialistDragon said:

However, by the end of this sections, I am still unsure what the story is or is about.

Me too.

On 15/11/2019 at 0:52 AM, industrialistDragon said:

At first I thought the silver/Ea was the wolf

Me too.

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As I read:

I stumbled over the second sentence - it took a couple reads for me to realize you were talking about moons and moonlight.

While I appreciate S has keen senses, some of the details mentioned (“expertly butchered,” strips of meat above the fire) seem like they would really only be available visually.

P9, Z’s comment about “...winning an argument with that one.” With whom? The alchemist? It’s not clear what Z’s talking about here.

P10, “Experience let him decipher what was meant [by the creature].” It’s already easy enough to understand the sentiment that I don’t think we need Z to explain it to us again.

I think it’s fine that Z’s curious enough about S to try and find out what S running from while in the village, but I would also like an idea of why Z is heading there himself.

Bottom of p12, “The back has a long bar...” should be “had.”

“...he was also nice to S..kers.” I’ve been wondering about this. The story seems to be getting at the fact that this is an oppressed group, but the reactions of other characters don’t seem to suggest more than “mildly disliked, maybe,” and Z also seems to be awfully free with this information.

Or do you think you’re too good to help a senior guild member…” - Z has the second-lowest rank. The way it’s been described so far, this doesn’t seem like a remotely senior rank, except in comparison to P himself.

Overall:

The individual characters seem distinct enough and like potentially interesting people, though I don't have a good sense yet of Z or especially S's personality. I am particularly interested in T, though my interest there is in the worldbuilding as much as the character himself.  I like the added wrinkle of P and Z having to work together. That said, I think the POV characters need more of a sense of urgency. This is particularly of Z, who was apparently already going to the village but we have no idea why. It doesn’t seem like whatever Z’s own goals are could have been particularly important, since those goals are never mentioned and the mystery of S—consisting of a man that Z has never met who says he’s leaving town and uh, that’s pretty much it—seems to be the only thing actually driving Z forward.

S is a bit more compelling this way in that we know he has a reason to leave, but while it’s fine that we don’t know the reason he’s leaving, we also don’t have any sense of the stakes. Is there anything actually stopping him from leaving or has he just decided he’s done? He’s a POV, so he’s presumably important enough that he’ll be appearing again, but he doesn’t seem to be moving towards a particular objective either.

The lack of urgency/sense of stakes contributes to my biggest concern here, which is that the story seems to be taking quite a bit of time to get where it’s going. We still haven’t really progressed beyond the relatively mild hook of “What’s the deal with S, anyway?” Partially this can be addressed by looking at the line-by-writing, which I think can be tightened up a fair bit in later passes. But mostly I think readers need a better sense of the stakes/urgency. Once that’s more in evidence, it will be easier to scrutinize individual scenes to make sure the scenes are moving things forward. At the moment I feel like some of these scenes or parts of them could almost certainly go, but without a better sense of stakes and story it's hard to say which ones.

 

On 11/12/2019 at 8:10 AM, Mandamon said:

Got confused over all the role names and why they mattered if this is already half the story, especially why there needed to be three types of werewolf.

Agreed. They came up a few times and while it's nice to have a bit of extra worldbuilding, I really didn't understand why they mattered, either in the context of the story or the context of the world.

On 11/12/2019 at 8:10 AM, Mandamon said:

pg 4: "A grizzled veteran...late forties"
--*lifts eyebrow*

This description does suggest that Z is pretty young.

On 11/12/2019 at 8:10 AM, Mandamon said:

pg 14: "took a sip of the red ale"
--wait, I thought he said he didn't drink?

Yep, the original line definitely reads like Z doesn't drink at all.

2 hours ago, Robinski said:

I need to comment on the title, which is almost exactly the same as Robert Heinlein’s ‘Stranger in a Strange Land’.

I'm actually surprised that Robinski's the only person who's commented on this so far! Point seconded.

2 hours ago, Robinski said:

When I read that the wolf wasn't hungry, which I can look back and say 'Huh, right, that's what that was' but at the time it just seemed contradictory and a bit untidy.

Concur, if this was somehow T's doing (though I don't know why T would be doing it) I think you could hang a bit more of a lantern on in the paragraph from S's POV that Robinski mentioned.

2 hours ago, Robinski said:

Not sure I agree with Z's analysis. Why is it not possible that S just left town and R didn't know anything about it?

Yeah, I wondered about this. Z seems to be assuming some sort of malice somewhere behind S's story, but I'm not convinced he has enough information to make that assumption. I'm not even sure readers have enough information to make that assumption, except for maybe the little tidbit about R not liking the alchemist.

2 hours ago, Robinski said:

Why would P be envious of someone not having powers?

I thought this made sense. I was assuming P was either envious of Z's rank, or of T tagging along.

On 11/14/2019 at 7:21 PM, The Kraken's Daughter said:

“But scared has never been one of them.”

“Hhh. True.”

“Idiot. Of course I get scared – it’s saved my life a few times.”

I’m a little confused about what’s going on here.

This made sense to me, the "my kind" Z was referring to would be the "S...kers."

As for the issues with the group mailing list, @kais I tried removing and re-adding you earlier today. Also took @aeromancer's suggestion of sending out a test email earlier today. Although I didn't the thing up to begin with, so my rather limited knowledge makes it hard to troubleshoot.

@GoWibble I think perhaps you're new to the group, and that I don't actually have you on our mailing list? If I'm mistaken then I sincerely apologize, but I don't see anything in my private message conversation between the two of us. If you're coming over from the Creative Corner forum, RE works a bit differently - we submit via a mailing list rather than posting submissions directly to the forum, in order to help protect people's IP. That said, it's an open door group if you would like to participate.

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10 hours ago, Silk said:

@GoWibble I think perhaps you're new to the group, and that I don't actually have you on our mailing list? If I'm mistaken then I sincerely apologize, but I don't see anything in my private message conversation between the two of us. If you're coming over from the Creative Corner forum, RE works a bit differently - we submit via a mailing list rather than posting submissions directly to the forum, in order to help protect people's IP. That said, it's an open door group if you would like to participate.

Yes, That would be great! Do you want me to pm you for officiality, or is here fine? 

 

@aeromancer

I haven't noticed many mistakes that can't be fixed by continuing to build the world more. SiFL is GREAT! I love how the backstory builds a mistrust into the Seekers, and I feel like it could go either way to being explained or just being part of the world (if this is going to be a series, then please explain it eventually). 

On 11/13/2019 at 8:17 PM, kais said:

- pg 4: he gets clothes when he transforms? Interesting. I have questions

I feel like it works the same way as Brandon Sanderson's Five Kingdoms book 2. The clothes are stored with one body and the fur with another. I don't think that it should work for the removing of wounds, though. 

 

13 hours ago, Robinski said:

I think this has good potential and I am keen to read the next bit. Thanks for submitting :) 

Ditto 

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3 hours ago, GoWibble said:

Brandon Sanderson's Five Kingdoms book 2

*Mull

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5 hours ago, GoWibble said:

Yes, That would be great! Do you want me to pm you for officiality, or is here fine? 

PM is recommended, since you'll have to share your email address.

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3 hours ago, ChickenLiberty said:

*Mull

My bad. Been around Sanderson too much to type Mull after Brandon

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Sorry for coming late to the party, Gerard here. Here's my feedback (please note i am bad with names).

The good parts:

- very atmospheric writing, especially the intro in the woods

- cool world, promising magic system; did I read it right that this world doesn't have daylight at all but only 2 moons?

- the intro was intriguing and I was ready to continue reading had there been more

About the characters:

- I couldn't visualize the pet and it's a shame because I was curious; a good description right after he's introduced wouldn't hurt. Also when he goes hhh, I'm not sure how to read that. Maybe describe it once, e.g. it's a hiss?

- the Brightwolf was a jerk - if that was the intention, well done.

- I couldn't relate to the MC; hook me to his inner world. I have no idea what he's doing, what he thinks, what drives him. Sure, I get there's something mysterious about the town but I don't care yet. I also don't understand why he got to the Guild and asked about the brightwolf he just met, as if that was his point for getting there. Give me some cool bits to keep me interested.

- All male cast is intentional? There are no women in the village at all? 

About execution:

- After the intro, I had trouble visualizing what was going on.

- After the MC got to the Guild, I lost track of what was going on and couldn't see the people. The dialog felt a bit like talking heads. Ground the speakers more; if they're not critical for the story later on, instead of giving them names I need to remember, use identifiers, e.g. 'the curly gruff man'.

- Here and there the writing was a bit wordy. While in the opening it was very atmospheric, the wordiness didn't carry well where things got crowded. For instance, instance of saying 'X said this' and then adding a beat, simply use the beat instead of 'said'. Streamline and make it a bit leaner. Then you'll be able to use that space to add description of speakers.

- Too many things introduced too quickly but without detailing. So I know there are several types of magic practitioners who use moonlight in different ways but I don't know what they do, how, why etc, they're just intangible taxonomy. 

- The scope is too wide for a short and there's too much dialog and introduction. This reads like the first chapter of a book. That's not a bad thing because it reads nicely, but if you want to make it a short, perhaps consider to trim it down and make it punchier.

Hope this helps.

Edited by Lightbearer
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