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sniperfrog

10/19/20 - SniperFrog - The Trials -Chapter One (L,S)

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Hey guys. This is my first time and I am excited and nervous all at once. This is the first chapter of my story. I look forward to your feedback. Maps will be coming later once I am able to get them finished up.
 
This has been something I have worked on the worldbuilding for a long time. This first chapter took me about 6 months to get around to completing. Hopefully having fresh eyes on it will push me to get more finished. I am worried about tone and interactions between characters. I am not very good at dialogue and I want to make sure it feels natural. 
 
Thanks All. You are all awesome. I mean it.
 
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Before I begin, I am very excited to read your first installment on the forum! Ok, now for reading

First paragraph: Already like the tone, good start.

lots of short sentences though, might want to compound a couple for sentence variety. 

“his skin lying on the ground…” this is small, but maybe consider changing it to “the skin”? Could be just me, but saying “his skin” makes me think of, well, his skin.

Pg 2 “but going to M didn’t sound so bad” The way this is framed right after talking about religion makes it seem like M is an afterlife, but I’m guessing it isn’t? It’s a country right?

Pg 4: I like the description of the siblings

Pg 4 “gave a spit of her own” lots of spitting. And the way this is worded makes it seem like she’s spitting directly onto the other spit, which just seems a bit…odd to me.

Pg 5 “Lechery” Ah, yes, let’s talk about LGBTQ representation.

Ok, this is just a personal thought, but as a bi, gender queer person I don’t really like the hyper sexualization of lesbians and other queer folks that you tend to see in media. I get that you’re probably trying to play with tropes on this one, but using words like “lechery” (which has strong negative “sinful” connotations- big nono) as one of the first words to describe a queer individual does not hit me right. If I were casually reading this, I’d probably put it down at this point. The “promiscuous gay” trope is done to death, and is usually done for laughs, which kind of makes it harmful stereotype. (think Scott Pilgrim v. The world)  I get you were probably going for greater acceptance, which is a noble and good aspiriation, but if you really want to do that right, I would suggest removing everything after “Pleased, that is”. It says a lot more for acceptance if they don’t give the remarks a second thought. (the same way they might if the character was male, and described the same situation.) Now, I don’t hold this to you personally. Representation is hard! I always have to keep working on it. (Just cause I’m bi doesn’t give me a free pass!) So keep working at it. And if you’re worried taking out the rationalization will make it seem anachronistic, don’t. LGBTQ individuals have existed for as long as humanity has (Sapphos is a good example of a famous lesbian from ancient Greece. Also she is where the term ‘sapphic’ even comes from) and I think that most fantasy readers are becoming more accepting as a whole. Ok, rant over.

Pg 6 Ooh, some classic fantasy lore. Cool stuff, but might be a bit too early for this much exposition.

Pg 7 yeah, just a bit too much. I like the rich language tho

Pg 9 “All it really did…” LOL

Pg 9 You might want to italicize direct thoughts

Pg 13 Ok, now I see why you had the lore about the blades. Cool scene.

Overall this seems like a promising start! It’s definitely a very traditional fantasy, but I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing! I’m excited to see what happens with him and F. I also liked the scene where he was practicing with the sword at the beginning. And I am very excited to see some maps! I love maps. The characters seem fun as well, though as I noted you might want to consider tweaking the one character. 

Edited by ginger_reckoning
grammar
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Welcome to RE! As a quick note - you're missing word count in your thread heading

Overall

There's some good meat here, but I think some reorganization is in order. The inciting incident seems to be getting the weapon, and our hero is going to have to go on a quest with his friends. He is clearly a Chosen One. There's just...too much muddling around with info dumps and the red haired recruiter and such, which could be tidied so we get to the heart of the chapter - boy is excited to leave, maybe something is keeping him from leaving (this is something missing - what is the challenge? The hurdle??), he meets with friends and has a dream that finds him a sword to his destiny. Everything else in the chapter isn't needed. It slows down the tension and muddles the narrative. You can build it in more naturally later, as you go.

Good first sub! Looking forward to the edits.

As I go

- pg 1: He was Focus <-- should this be focused???

- pg 1: this isn't a strong opening line or paragraph. A boy/man doing forms does not engage me as a reader

- pg 1: Va was upset <-- Show me this, don't tell me

- pg 2: the form names mean nothing to me and I don't care about his focus since I don't yet care about him. Into page two here I know next to nothing about the world or our lead other than he uses a martial art and there's at least one woman in-world

- pg 4: "Oh but I made sure that the daughter was before I left though. Pleased, that is. <-- dear god can we have this story, please??? +10 for in-world lesbianism

- pg 7: this story has turned into an info dump and I'm skimming. I need more world buy in before I get paragraphs of narrative story

- pg 9: the friends are by far what is selling me on this chapter

- pg 9: usually stick to <-- tense change

- So...the sword is the inciting incident, yes? He has to go on a quest with his friends now because of this sword? 

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1 hour ago, ginger_reckoning said:

Ok, this is just a personal thought, but as a bi, gender queer person I don’t really like the hyper sexualization of lesbians and other queer folks that you tend to see in media. I get that you’re probably trying to play with tropes on this one, but using words like “lechery” (which has strong negative “sinful” connotations- big nono) as one of the first words to describe a queer individual does not hit me right. If I were casually reading this, I’d probably put it down at this point. The “promiscuous gay” trope is done to death, and is usually done for laughs, which kind of makes it harmful stereotype. (think Scott Pilgrim v. The world)  I get you were probably going for greater acceptance, which is a noble and good aspiriation, but if you really want to do that right, I would suggest removing everything after “Pleased, that is”. It says a lot more for acceptance if they don’t give the remarks a second thought. (the same way they might if the character was male, and described the same situation.) Now, I don’t hold this to you personally. Representation is hard! I always have to keep working on it. (Just cause I’m bi doesn’t give me a free pass!) So keep working at it. And if you’re worried taking out the rationalization will make it seem anachronistic, don’t. LGBTQ individuals have existed for as long as humanity has (Sapphos is a good example of a famous lesbian from ancient Greece. Also she is where the term ‘sapphic’ even comes from) and I think that most fantasy readers are becoming more accepting as a whole. Ok, rant over.

I'll be a counter-point to this that I really enjoyed the sister's descriptions. It was the only deep characterization in the chapter and it's a good trope-subverter for this type of word and sorcery fantasy. The word 'lechery' was strong but I assumed it would be subverted later when we got more into her character. So as a lesbian who is an avid reader of lesbian SFF, I really enjoyed this. I could change my mind later if the character remains two dimensional, but right now I found it refreshing and it is the one thing that would keep me reading into the next chapter. 

Which is a good demonstration that queer people aren't a monolith so do your best, and get a sensitivity reader or three if you want to publish.

Edited by kais
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I'm not a fantasy reader, so I'm not overly familiar with the tropes and norms. Not complaining, just fair waring :-)

As I read:

"V was..." This repeated sentence structure makes some parts feel like a meditation. Or like V will speak in the third person. It gets a little repetitive by the end of page 1. 

"Eyes akin to a stormy..." this is some pretty word play, but it feels jarring after so many short factual sentences. From reading it, I'm not sure what color that would be.

4th paragraph "As he began..." Needs a comma after "began". The next sentence is a fragment with no verb. Maybe it could be added to the previous sentence?

"Once you show tallent for anything, the monks will..." tense shift here.

"She had an awful lot of questions about you, lad." I like the personality in this voice, I don't think you need the comma though. 

"It left him with few options though." Being a soldier? Or the recruiter coming? 

"O and M were lounging in the usual place, him with..." I don't immediately know which is 'him' reading this based on their names so this part was a little confusing. 

"He was telling another of his histories again." 'Another' and 'again' feels redundant. From this phrase I was assuming he was the town's chatty drunk but from V's reaction it seems like this isn't the case. 

"I can't even with you guys." "Deary me." V's dialogue all over the place. He switches from hyper formal to modern slang. Most of the other characters have a distinct voice but his voice doesn't seem settled yet.

"All it really did was make him look like he had to s..." is this a perspective shift, or does V know that's how he looks?

Not sure on this, but if the sword was in the dirt for any length of time without a cover, wouldn't it tarnish and rust? Unless it has some kind of protection from the elements. 

My favorite part for tone and pure story telling was the old man's legend at the bar. That's where the story really started to appeal to me. 

You've also build some interesting characters with very distinct personalities. The character I feel the least drawn to so far is V. I'm starting to warm up to him by the end though. 

Thanks for sharing!

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First off, welcome to Reading Excuses, and congrats on putting this out there! As you can see from the responses so far, we don't pull any punches, but don't get disheartened! I'm amazed at how much this forum has helped my writing over the years.

Alright...down to business. As usual, I think @kais has the right of it. There isn't a whole lot of meat to this chapter and a lot of it is an infodump. It's very much traditional fantasy, so I'm looking for things that make this stand out. Finding a special blade that talks is a good first chapter hook, but I think we need to get there a lot faster and still know why it's so special. I think the general concept is there, and I really enjoyed O and M's bickering, but I think you could cut a lot of the rest of it to get to the point faster.

18 hours ago, kais said:
19 hours ago, ginger_reckoning said:

Ok, this is just a personal thought, but as a bi, gender queer person I don’t really like the hyper sexualization of lesbians and other queer folks that you tend to see in media. I get that you’re probably trying to play with tropes on this one, but using words like “lechery” (which has strong negative “sinful” connotations- big nono) as one of the first words to describe a queer individual does not hit me right. If I were casually reading this, I’d probably put it down at this point. The “promiscuous gay” trope is done to death, and is usually done for laughs, which kind of makes it harmful stereotype. (think Scott Pilgrim v. The world)  I get you were probably going for greater acceptance, which is a noble and good aspiriation, but if you really want to do that right, I would suggest removing everything after “Pleased, that is”. It says a lot more for acceptance if they don’t give the remarks a second thought. (the same way they might if the character was male, and described the same situation.) Now, I don’t hold this to you personally. Representation is hard! I always have to keep working on it. (Just cause I’m bi doesn’t give me a free pass!) So keep working at it. And if you’re worried taking out the rationalization will make it seem anachronistic, don’t. LGBTQ individuals have existed for as long as humanity has (Sapphos is a good example of a famous lesbian from ancient Greece. Also she is where the term ‘sapphic’ even comes from) and I think that most fantasy readers are becoming more accepting as a whole. Ok, rant over.

I'll be a counter-point to this that I really enjoyed the sister's descriptions. It was the only deep characterization in the chapter and it's a good trope-subverter for this type of word and sorcery fantasy. The word 'lechery' was strong but I assumed it would be subverted later when we got more into her character. So as a lesbian who is an avid reader of lesbian SFF, I really enjoyed this. I could change my mind later if the character remains two dimensional, but right now I found it refreshing and it is the one thing that would keep me reading into the next chapter. 

Which is a good demonstration that queer people aren't a monolith so do your best, and get a sensitivity reader or three if you want to publish.

On the LGBTQ aspect, I generally agree with @kais. I liked that there was some content, and wasn't really bothered that M was pretty aggressive. It kept me interested when most of the other stuff didn't. I will agree that "lechery" was probably not a good word to use, though. Definitely keep the character aspect in, even if it needs to be tweaked a bit.

Also, halloo to a fellow bi, @ginger_reckoning!

 

Dialogue is...choppy at best, as is the sentence structure. Saying what you write out loud is a great way to hear how someone else would read it and hearing any awkward parts. There are a lot of places where you can combine two or three short sentences to make one more impactful sentence.

Anyway, interested to see where this goes! It reminds me a lot of Saberhagen's Lost Sword series so far.

 

Notes while reading:

pg 1: "V was upset."
--There are several statements through the first few paragraphs like this. It's just a straight tell, and it would be much more effective to show us that V is upset, which might give some character for him as well.

pg 1: third paragraph is just hero description. I don't care about that yet because nothing has happened yet.

pg 2: Still nothing happening yet. Just a lot of description of V doing forms.

pg 4: " He thought again about that woman. He had an uneasy feeling about that one. "
--there are multiple sentences like this than can be combined and shortened. The first sentence doesn't actually do anything it could be completely deleted and move "that woman" to the second sentence.

pg 5: ""Oh but I made sure that the daughter was..."
-- +1 for LGBTQ content!

pg 6: still nothing really happening yet. You could probably start with V finding the siblings and cut the first few pages.

pg 6: "a time called the Age of Relics by some. The Lost Age by others"
--legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the age that gave it birth comes again... ;-)

pg 7: This story is turning into an infodump...

pg 8: "You guys aren't getting too chummy now, are you?"
--where did this come from? V and M just exchanged a few words.

pg 8: "I need to get back home for Thirds." 
--I thought they came here to eat?

pg 8: "I can't even with you guys."
--pretty anachronistic compared with the rest of the dialogue

pg 9: "What does she want with me? I don't know who she is. I don't know anything about her. I need to know more. "
--thoughts like this should be in italics.

pg 9: "His father was already finishing up fixing the meal as he entered the kitchen.
--wait, what about the woman? Was she in his house? Why did he just ignore her?

pg 10: most of this dialogue is a rehash of what's already happened.

pg 12: "He looked over to where his father slept. Except. He was not there." "But there was no time. Not right now.
--I don't have any sense of urgency here. Seems much more important to see why his father is missing.

pg 12: "But he couldn't shake the feeling that there was danger out there in the
dark night"
--this sounds like he's starting out on some quest. He's just going for a walk.

pg 14: "There was never supposed to be a Blade."
--supposed to...where? Under a tree? I thought this was from a dream?

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Hello and welcome! I'm kind of new to this too. We'll learn together!

pg. 1 - First off, your prose is very choppy. There's no sentence variation in length or structure. I would definitely suggest some longer and more varied sentences just for the flow. Also, I have exactly zero reason to be invested in this character so far. I haven't seen any of V's thoughts, and I don't really have context for why V doesn't want to leave the sword training place. Also, his description is kinda info-dumpy. It all comes at once in a big long paragraph. Too much, too fast.

pg. 2 - Like @kais said, I don't care about the names of the forms.

pg. 2 - Is the dream stuff really relevant right here? I feel like now is not the time for V to be thinking about his weird dreams. He's being evaluated by someone for his swordsmanship -- shouldn't he be nervous, or thinking about swords, or thinking about why he's leaving the training place, instead of his dream about a tree?

pg. 2 - "The last couple ... some unknown purpose." These sentences could absolutely be combined. All separate, they don't quite sound like normal human thoughts.

pg. 4 - "O and M ... spilling him to the ground." Even with M identified as a she in the next sentence, this had me confused about who was the "he" in the chair.

I'm not going to comment much on M and the LGBTQ representation because I'm not a member of that community, but I will say that M is the most developed character here, and it would be great to see the other characters get interesting characterization like this and the character I feel connected to the most. V doesn't even have great characterization yet -- all we know is that he's a sword fighter. More little insights into his personality, his fears, and his thoughts would be nice so we get a chance to feel connected to him.

pg. 8 - The banter between V, O, and M is really great! The dialogue is a little stilted and I would definitely suggest going through and reading all your dialogue out loud to actually hear it.

pg. 10/11 - I think the dialogue here could definitely use improvement just to make it smoother and more natural.

pg. 12 - So... it's morning now that he's up? Or is he leaving at like 2 in the morning? Just a little bit of a description of what time it is or how light it is outside would be great.

pg. 13 - Okay, at this point I'm going to mention that this chapter could use more breaks. The scenes just come one after another, and especially on this page when it just sort of goes from him leaving his house to being two hours in to his journey, it could use a break.

Overall, I think the chapter was pretty great! I think the biggest things to change are adding more characterization and varying your sentence length more. I did really like the way he found the sword and it does have me wondering what O and M are going to do when they find out that V left way early. I do wonder where V's going and what he's going to use this sword for -- he seems to have some kind of quest in mind or something, but he hasn't been given a quest so I'm a little unsure about that. Anyway, great job and I really can't wait to see where the characters end up!

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Overall:

I know you’ve been around a couple of weeks now, but welcome again! It’s always exciting to see a new member’s first submission.

There is some good stuff here. I enjoyed the way the friendship between V, M, and O is portrayed in particular.

There is a LOT being set up in this chapter – V being assigned a new mentor, V and his friends leaving the village, the woman with the red hair, and finding the sword. I wonder if you’d be better off to focus on one or two of them and introduce or expand on the others in later chapters. Finding the sword seems to be the inciting incident so that’s where I’d be inclined to start, personally. And if it IS the inciting incident, then I think we need to get to it sooner.

Something to think about when you’re ready to do a line editing pass: consider how you can vary your sentence structure. One of the first things I noticed was how many sentences started with “V was/was not” or similar. Many of your sentences are also simple sentences (which I don’t mean as a pejorative, I mean short sentences containing only one clause) and pretty much all of them start with the subject, so there are some other places you could look to vary your sentence structure in future drafts.

Another thing I noticed was sentence fragments – there are two or three, for example, in the last paragraph on the bottom of p1. Nothing wrong with using them occasionally, but they lose their impact when used too often.

It’s worth noting that all of these stylistic did improve in the later pages of the draft, although I do think that it’s something to watch for throughout.

As I read:

“Killing a man cannot be as hard…” I’m 100% expecting an arc where he learns that killing is hard and horrible now.

The tone of the dialogue is at odds in some places with the tone of the narrative. The narrative is generally pretty formal while the dialogue shifts from from formal to very modern and informal and back again.

“O and M were lounging… him with…” at this point, “him” could refer to either O or M.

“You can just keep your hood up.” I have the impression this is a pretty small town, so that doesn’t seem particularly feasible.

“All it really did was make him look like he had to…” I mean, it’s a great line but it does seem a little odd to have the POV character think that about himself.

“O and M are going to come along.” Wait, have they actually discussed that at all? It seems like the three of them had vague plans to still be together after the ceremony, yes, but I don’t think they actually discussed V being sent away anywhere specific, which seems to be new information.

The storytelling thing in the inn goes on much too long. Nothing wrong with using an in-world storyteller to convey some information, but it’s transparently an infodump and 2-3 pages of it is too much. I have to admit that I skimmed most of it, because by this point I was basically just looking for the one or two things this would tell me about our protagonist, who’s been pretty clearly set up from page 1 to be a prodigy/chosen one type.

I’m all for fantasy tropes, but V wandering almost directly from storytime to significant dream to finding the sword is frontloading them quite a bit, and it makes the story feel a little disconnected. That said, you’ve already presented us with a pretty good reason aside from the dream for V to go into the woods: His father isn’t asleep and that’s apparently unusual, which I personally find much more compelling than an odd dream. I don't understand why V doesn't seem to be more worried about it.

V mentions that if the wrong people find out about the sword he’ll be dead. It’s good that there’s some stakes here, but I’d like to have a better understanding of why having a sword like this paints a target on V’s head.

Personally (and I'll note here that I am NOT lesbian or bi), I was split on M's representation. I'm glad to see explicit representation and I thought it was presented in a way that gave us a very firm idea of the character. In fact, I think M is the character I'm currently most engaged with, because you managed to convey so much about her in the relatively short time she was on screen. I am always a little bit leery of hyper-sexualized women characters especially ones who aren't straight because that CAN fall into all sorts of nasty tropes, but there's nothing inherently wrong with it either, and refusing to portray gay characters as sexual can be a phobic trope in its own right.

I think the takeaway here, other than realizing that some readers will feel a bit wary when encountering characters like this until they acquire a certain level of comfort with the story, is, at some point in your writing or revision process, it will probably be worthwhile to consider M's position in the overall story. Is she the only explicitly bi or lesbian woman in the entire story? Does she end up as a "buried gay" or otherwise punished by the narrative? If so, that would be another indication that there are some things you should adjust.

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Alright. So there is a lot for me to go through here, so I will try to make it short.

The inciting incident is not supposed to be the discovery of the sword. It is a bit of a red hearing, to be honest. I have a second chapter that is more about the reason V ends up leaving town. I have been mulling it over a lot this last week and I feel that this chapter, while important in the grand scheme, is not necessary to get the story going. The sword plays an important part in the story and I believe I will have to rewrite this entire chapter from the bottom up, meaning I think the scene at the end should be at the beginning and moving on from there, basically combining this chapter with the second chapter. The issue here is that part of the second chapter is from a different POV character that has not been introduced yet. I am working on a prologue that gets the other two main characters some screen time to establish their plots to help with this. I have thought about adding the sword scene into the prologue as well, but with the right setup, I believe it works better as the hook in the first page or so. I think that my next sub is likely to be this prologue or perhaps the aforementioned second draft of chapter one. 

It is pretty obvious to me that V needs a little more fleshing out. I have done a lot of work on his character, but it isn't really showing here. He is meant to be a bit abrasive with some anger issues, but a good heart. This definitely does not come across and I will be working to fix this. Hopefully I can pull this off in a way that people still can connect with him. His arc is a bit of a rollercoaster and having the reader invested is huge to the way it is supposed to play out. This is supposed to be his story and while he will take a back seat later, right now it is important to establish what he is about.

I tried to work too much information in and it lost the connection with the reader. I need to water the exposition down. A lot. I have played with a few things and I think that this will be much better in the second draft. That being said, I am not good at this so it will probably take me awhile to get everything in a way that gets the point across, but also doesn't bore the reader to death.

The scene with O and M seems to hit and I want to save it, making the necessary changes to dialogue, character portrayal, etc. Unfortunately, with the way the story is meant to play out, I am afraid that it might need to be changed in a way that works better, i.e. putting them in contact with V before he returns home after finding the sword and the inciting incident takes place. M was originally written as a tertiary character but after the feedback so far, perhaps an expansion of her role is in order. (This should not be too hard, as her and O are both meant to be together a lot.) 

I was worried a bit about tone and I missed. I have always thought of this story as being darker. This is not meant to be classic fantasy, it is meant to be more of grimdark fantasy and I was worried that I would have issues with this. I have tried, but perhaps grimdark is not really a style I can pull off. I will see what I can do about this in the future. 

As for the whole LGBTQ thing, I am simply trying to convey real people as close to it as I can. If it comes off the wrong way, I need to make sure that I get it right. Thank you for all of the feedback about this. It has helped a ton and hopefully later drafts will hit the right way in this regard, as I do not want to offend anyone. 

As it is, this chapter is not really doing what I want it to, so I think I will take it back to the drawing board and make some changes. Thanks for all the wonderful feedback guys. It really means a lot and I think that I am already a better writer because of it. Every one of you has been helpful, insightful and constructive, which is amazing to see. I look forward to my next sub and hopefully it will be well received. 

Also, I was planning to do NaNoWriMo, but I think that I will just use this story as my project instead of something new. Hopefully it can help me develop some good writing habits for the future.

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Hi, @sniperfrog. I'm so sorry it's taken me so long to read this, and I hope my comments are still useful. I'm sure you've got much valuable advice from the others, but maybe, just maybe, I might pick something different. Anyway, I was always going to read it, as it's always exciting sampling new voices on the forum. (I am excited, honest! Just been so busy.)

So, off I go :) 

The grey font: is there a medical reason for that? I know some people have issues with black-on-white. Or is it just my Mac reading it wrong somehow? I don't see how it can be since it's a PDF. If there is no necessity for it, can you please submit standard black on site text. And do not ever send something like this to a publisher, it won't get past the slush pile.

(page 1)

- "The practice field was empty today" - Soooooo many stories start with some kind or practice/training set up, an apprentice of some kind. It's such a 'familiar trope' / cliché (delete as applicable). The way around this problem of course is to do it brilliantly, like JK Rowling, or Patrick Rothfus (in his case, that word goes in air quotes, since I really like the education/training parts of Name of the Wind, but so much about the book annoys the [REDACTED] out of me).

In short, this phrase fills me with trepidation, but I retain on open mind. My fear is that I'm going to read ten pages of people practice fighting with each other.

- "He was Focus" - I mean, grammatically, this sounds off, but is 'F' a position? Like 'he was mayor'? Because it can be a verb, it's awkward to get the sense of, I think.

- Your prose flows nicely. I'm enjoying that aspect so far. I'm getting a sense of character too, which is so important early on (and everywhere else, of course).

- I don't think a wooden sword 'hisses' through the air. My opinion. I feel like it's a deeper sound. If I had a piece of wood to hand I would test this theory.

- "People never get what they want, not the way they want" - This doesn't seem right to me: plenty of people get what they want, the way the want it. Especially people who dedicated themselves to getting it.

- "V was not the tallest of men, but he was not short either" - There's a school of thought that would pillory you for using 13 words instead of saying 'V was medium height'. I don't subscribe to that: I like the lyricism of this phrasing. I think it's well done. I'm not good enough at describing my characters, and I lament this--especially when reading Jim Butcher, who goes into this kind of interesting detail. There's a lot of character coming through in this. Okay, that character is a bit typical man-of-action hero, but it is well done.

(page 2)

- I don't see that it's an "impromptu dance", he decided to do this very deliberately, IMO.

- tense slip "that come from"

(page 4)

- Or--i - Lol, are you a Liverpool fan?

- "him with his long legs up" - There 's no way of knowing who 'he' is here, since two people are mentioned at the start of the sentence and we don't know either of them.

- "He spit to the side" - The monk did this too: repetitive.

- "She gave a spit of her own" - Grammar. IMO you don't 'give' a spit, you spit, that's it. Also, why is everyone spitting? It is no officially annoying.

- "add to her brothers" - Or is her brother? In that case, it's possessive, to should be brother's.

- "as a part of her charm" - Lechery is not charming. And, "enjoying the company of a pretty girl" - this is not what lechery is. For me, this undermines my sense of the M/C's  judgement of people.

- "on either side" - either side of what? Nice description of the common room though. I get a nice (mostly) clear image, and can imagine smells, sights and sounds, even though you don't describe them.

- "all focused on a man at their center" - I bet he's a storyteller.

(page 6)

- "He was telling another of his histories again" - Yup: cliché. (I don't mean to be harsh, but I've read about 1,200/1,300 submissions on RE (not counting offline alpha/beta reads), and my tolerances are pretty low these days. I expect this will be used as a means to convey world-building.

- And he does, which is fine. It's allowed, and it's well written, I think. I just want to be surprised and intrigued at the start of a story. I don't want to be able to predicted each step before it comes, not this easily. BUT, I'm still willing to read because of the quality of the prose. (p.s inconsistent capitalisation of 'stars/Stars'.)

- "Carried... lifetimes" - Great line, great paragraph actually. 

(page 7)

- This story, the longer it goes on, sounds less like a story and more like a big info-dump. After the first few paragraphs, it starts to lose its impact. Now, it's sounding like maid-and-butler dialogue. most of the people here must know these things already, about the wars, etc., so very much it sounds now like spoon-feeding the reader.

- "Third Meal"  - I get why you change this from, say lunch or dinner, to something different, but it sounds really awkward. People tend to shorten long phrases in dialogue. Also, breakfast, lunch and dinner are single, distinct terms that are instantly recognisable to the brain, there is no need to that tiny, tiny time to calculate how many meals one has had that day. I mean, I'm still not really sure if this is lunch or dinner.

- "The storm had died down to a light drizzle" that's way too fast for me. he was only speaking for about two minutes after the storm broke, and now it's done? Not believable, IMO.

(page 8)

- "like his stories," He said, Moving towards" - there are various issues with punctuation. Here is probably the most prominent example to date. Maybe it's an edit remnant, but should be 'like his stories," he said, moving towards...'

- "before the ceremony" - what ceremony? Bit vague. Not sure I've got that straight yet.

- "gave a spit" - There is way, way, way too much spitting, and it serves no purpose. I'd recommend cutting it completely. 

- "small coin flashed through the air" - And this is not annoyingly repetitive. it happens too much too close together, and therefore loses its impact, or any amusement when it happened the first time.

(page 9)

- "make him look like he had to rust" - POV issue. How does he know that? he can't see himself.

(page 10)

- "My boy, going to train under" - after saying how unlikely it is, Mew seems to then assume it's going to happen, which seem inconsistent with his initial viewpoint.

- ...after the ceremony then?" He asked, his proud... - Ok, I had spotted a couple if these, and assumed they were typos, but this should be 'he', I'm sure you know that. Maybe it's auto-corrected? The rest of the prose is so tidy that I'm drawn to these punctuation issues.

- "are going to come along" - it just feels so like The Name of the Wind, in places. That low-hanging fruit again.

(page 11)

- "I figure she is a recruiter for some guild or another" - The voices tend to sound the same. It's less of an issue with the friends, but I think you could have the story feeling more varied and interesting if there was more difference in the speech patterns of the characters. It's a key technique for bringing out character too: you can have background reasons why they speak in certain ways. Low-hanging fruit alert! The most obvious manifestation of this would be a lower class character speaking in a less refined way, but I'd look to go past that. I mean,  the class thing is almost a requirement, but I use this as an example of going past the most obvious assumption. E.g. maybe someone caught a fishhook in their mouth at a young age and has a (slight) speech impediment . (I actually knew someone to whom that happened.)

- "made me inclined to agree with him" - As I've come to expect in reading this submission, very well written, but I think this neat grammar makes V sound old than he is.

- "They continued the rest of their meal" - minor logic quibble, but they haven't started 'the rest of' their meal yet, so they can't continue it.

(page 12)

- What is a half-covered (hyphenated) pile? Covered with what?

- What decision did he make? Confused.

- "Calling to him" - I've got misgivings about this. It feels a bit...lame, I think. Mysterious voice calling to him in a dream. And I really don't get why he drops everything. There's no debate, no internal agonising over it, just gets up and goes, not thought about it at all, hardly.

- How does he know where to go?

- I mean, there is good atmosphere to his leaving the house at night, but I don't really understand his motivation.

(page 13)

- Wait, what? This black wood place, it seems to be right there on the street. There's no sense of time passing before he walks away from his door and he's in the wood.

- "He slowly approached..." - Sometimes a split infinitive is okay, but here it's proper 'to boldly go' awkward, IMO.

- Okay, word repetition:

(a) He pulled on the other end of the chain there was definitely something attached to the other end of it;

(b) He quickly stuck a hand back under the roots and was quickly rewarded for his efforts.

There are several more instances in this chapter that I didn't pick up at the time, because I'm trying not to LBL at the moment (Line by line comment), but, this is one of the very few what I would consider slips in the prose. Using the same word twice in one sentence is really awkward to read unless it's done for some kind of dramatic purpose, and I don't get that sense here, I just find myself tripping over the same word(s).

(page 14)

- fun do rf: my brain just goes to fun-size, or fun-day, or something like that. It feels comedic to me.

- "He would be dead before nightfall" - hang on, it's the middle of the night already, surely?

- Good last line. I still think there was too much coin tossing, or at least it happened too close together, but this is a good payoff, I'll give you that.

Overall 

Prose: It's neat, tidy, flows well. There are some edits and slips I noticed, but nothing dramatic. Very clean for an early draft, presuming it is an early draft? That aspect alone will get you some browny points with early readers, and encourage people to read further, I think.

Low-hanging fruit: I mentioned the plot. The events in this chapter are unsurprising, they did not grip me. The prose works well enough to set up the tension at the end, but it's so unsurprising that he finds a sword, that I just don't get the 'wow' I wanted. I feel I have read pretty much this exact same arc at least a handful of times in Reading Excuses alone over the years. Howard Tayler talks well about low-hanging fruit in the Writing Excuses podcast. I have written about it too many time on here to spool out all the text again. I need to clip it and keep it in a file.

The bottom line it, don't settle for the first idea you have, it'll probably be the least original, throw it away and think go something else, maybe throw that away too. Writing needs to have some degree of freshness and interest. Stories need engage the reader with the promise of some kind of originality. I don't get that here. it feels very standard hero's journey.

Unengaged 1: I thought his finding the sword was way too easy. He has a dream, goes to the woods, shoves his hand in the improbably soft ground and plucks out a sword. No peril, no try-fail. I think I would have been just as excited for him to find it in a cupboard.

Unengaged 2: The other aspect of him finding the sword that I think is rather weak is that I have no real sense of V as a person, as a character. I don't know if I want to root for him. He doesn't seem to have anything much about him character-wise. He's good with a sword...so what? He seems loyal to those around him...good. But what is his motivation in life, what makes him engaging as a character I would want to follow for 400 / 600 pages of epic fantasy? I really need to know that on the first page, in the first line, but it's not there, IMO.

E.g. V's a bit of a lad, a bit of a cad. He takes a girl (or a boy) in the forest for a bit of carousing. They up against the tree and his hand goes down into the ground and he finds the sword. Cue conflict with his paramour, and he seems a bit morally ambiguous so we don't know whether he'll do good things or bad. I him to be more ingesting, and I need it fast from the start.

I really did enjoy reading your writing, and I think you would write a good, enjoyable novel, but I need the characters to be stronger, most especially the MC, and I'd like the plot and the choices to be more surprising, or for people to react differently, to have more conflict about the place, more tension, more intrigue. I need more to engage me.

- Theory 1: I suspect his dad went to see the redhead. I suspect his dad knows who she is, and there is some history there.

- Theory 2: Oh, the redhead, the orange(red) sword: coincidence, I don't think so.

Thanks for submitting. Sorry for the late comments. I hope that this lot is still of some use.

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On 20/10/2020 at 0:23 AM, kais said:

It was the only deep characterization in the chapter

Hard agree. I think the dad is a good strong, silent did type, but most of the characters do feel the same. They can't all be upright, well-spoken reliable types.

On 20/10/2020 at 0:23 AM, kais said:

The word 'lechery' was strong but I assumed it would be subverted later

Agree, but I did not make that assumption. It felt to me like she was pigeon-holed (ooh, is that a Freudian slip?).

On 22/10/2020 at 2:14 PM, ima willshaper said:

Also, I have exactly zero reason to be invested in this character so far. I haven't seen any of V's thoughts, and I don't really have context for why V doesn't want to leave the sword training place. Also, his description is kinda info-dumpy. It all comes at once in a big long paragraph. Too much, too fast.

Well put. I had the same issue.

I see a lot of comments about sentence length and choppiness. For what it's worth, I had no problems in that area, <shrugs>.

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