karamel

11.30.20 - karamel - Flower of Departure - chapter 1 (L, G, V) (3406)

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Just reiterating what I put in my email!
 
The story is adult historical fantasy. Title is a working title. 3406 words. There is an attempt at self harm! So be aware of that along with mild language and some gore.

Dialogue is not my strong suit, nor is world building, so I humbly await your suggestions ^_^
 

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Pg1- "succeeds" wrong tense.

Pg2- day old— week old cadavers;" which is it? You could either say it's old and not be clear how old or give us a number. one day to a week is a big difference.

Pg3- "this rust town.” If you want to be realistic, I would suggest looking up how people used to curse back in the day, cuz this sounds a bit modern. There' a video by Shadiversity on cussing in medical times that might help. And if you have fantasy elements, you might want to try making some up.

"objectively gloomy state," Not a good word to use here.

"alive people." Living. Use living.

Pg5- “What is it they say? Curiosity is the cousin of courage- both will get you killed,” Love that line. 

Pg6- “I lost my wife not long ago," Hmm, if you're going for realism, I might want to look at old civilizations that allowed gay relationships. If not, go for it.

Pg7- "there was chaos in my town." odd phrasing

and unspeakable things happened." Delete. Sounds super forced.

Pg9- "a few pills from his bag." Pills? What/how are they made?

“- if severed, will result in a quick, painless death.” Is this based on science? I can believe it, but I'd like to confirm you looked this up first.

Pg10- “Should we… burn her instead?” yay, the characters are smart

 

Okay, to be blunt, the dialogue is bad. Fantasy gets some wiggle room to weird phrasing, but a lot of your lines were just cringe. Interesting concept with the rising dead, and an intense scene with the woman asking to die. The main character clearly has a hidden past. Intriguing, but the execution turns me off. Refine it and fine-tune it and it would be a nice hook.

 

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Hello, and congrats on your first sub! Opening up the document now, excited to see what's in store

Pg1-this first sentence is good, but is a little cluttered.  Nice imagery, tho.

Pg 1 “Chunks of earth…” again, good imagery, but the sentence is a little long and confusing. Myabe try splitting it into smaller chunks?

“obstructed” this means to block, so I’m not really sure what you’re trying to say here. How is the earth blocked?

“small sun faded” sun-faded

“After only…” I think flows better as “After staying…for only a few days”

So far I like the tone, very melancholy and mysterious.

Pg 2 “Maybe a bear will” should be “Maybe a bear would” there are a few other tense slips.

“How long were you…” Lol my thoughts exactly

Use of the word”nutrient” stands out to me. What level of development are they at?

You say that your dialogue isn’t strong, but so far I am enjoying it.

Pg 3 “Just part of the cycle” good characterization

Pg 4 Won’t hound too much on this, but again there are some sentences that are a little confusing, and could be simplified in my opinion.

“permanent needles” nice

“N found more joy…” This sentence is a little clunky. Maybe something like “Despite the (pain, troubles, needle, etc) N found joy… (and then remove the “though” at the end0

Pg  5 nic metaphor, could use some clarification. “But he hasn’t…” but he hadn’t

“he felt responsible” this is straight telling

“curiosity is the cousin” nice

Pg 6 “discernably not ok” this seems like a understatement

Pg 7 “I am keen” who is saying this line?

“Do you have any idea…” this is a horrific event, but this sentence seems a bit…too coherent if that makes sense. A bit verbose. Especially the phrase “Departed from the…”

Pg 8 “there is not much…” OOF

Pg 9 Im still not sure about the time period. They have pills?

Pg 11 Burn her in a forest??? Smokey the Bear does not approve. But I guess it makes sense if they’re worried she’s going to turn into a zombie…

Pg 12 Nice last line

Overall: I think this is the beginnings of a good start! Definiely leaves a lot of questions, and makes me worried about them staying in the village. Will the zombies get them?

However, I think that there are definitely some polishes to be made. There was a lot of tense-slippage, and the grammar was a little confusing at times. I think you could definitely make another pass on making it more understandable. I also think it was a little verbose at times, and could be cut down a bit, especially before meeting M. Meeting her is definitely the hook, and getting to that part should happen a little quicker, in my opinion. There was also a lot of unneccsary adjectives in my opinion, which kind of bogged down the pace.

That being said, I actually enjoyed the dialogue. It could use a little adjustment, I think, but it was overall good. The mood was also very good, and very eerie. I do wonder what time period this is supposed to be based off of. Is this medieval, or 1800s, or distant future, or barely out of hunter-gatherer society? Including pills made it a bit ambiguous.

Thanks for submitting! Excited to see where this goes

 

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1 hour ago, Aspiring Writer said:

but a lot of your lines were just cringe

This is needlessly harsh. Please consider rephrasing. 

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Congrats on the first submission!

Well! This is gloomy and depressing!

Overall, I was pretty engaged after the first few pages. I think the moping around town could be cut down a lot before they find the woman. That's really the key to this chapter and sets the tone for the book. Speaking of which, I had not guessed this was going to be quite so dark. As to tags, there's not really a good one that encompasses this, so thanks for tagging this, but I would definitely say this does have self-harm, even though it is assisted.

I didn't really have any problem with the dialogue. It's serviceable, but you have enough good description that nothing about it particularly stood out to me.

There were some tense problems throughout and a few places where the adjectives were a bit heavy. I've noted some below.

However, the arc of the chapter was good and makes me interested to read on. This is darker than what I usually read, but I'm actually sort of excited for a period zombie piece, especially if there are more LGBTQ characters.

1 hour ago, Aspiring Writer said:

Pg6- “I lost my wife not long ago," Hmm, if you're going for realism, I might want to look at old civilizations that allowed gay relationships. If not, go for it.

I disagree. First, there are plenty of examples of same and opposite sex couples through history, and second, it's your world, so I'd run with it. Though I would like if LGBTQ characters end up surviving!

Interested to read more!

 

Notes while reading:

pg 1: good opening paragraph.

pg 1: "homes for the dead"
--a bit flowery. Could just say "graves"

pg 1: "dark lusterless hair," "his low, unkempt bun," "desolate little village," "almost completely obliterated,"
--also a bit of overkill on the adjectives.

pg 2: "sending him further into obscurity."
--interesting phrase. He doesn't seem to concerned about fame, as he's thanklessly cleaning up a village. Why would he be concerned about his body being found?

pg 2: "That will be his fate" -> "That would be his fate"

pg 2: “How long were you standing there?”
--I'm glad K was also surprised. I thought he was alone in this village.

End of pg 2: I was drawn in by the first few paragraphs, but now I'm less interested since they just seem to be talking about this nothing town.

pg 3: "He just wanted a place to stay in that wasn’t filled with people, alive people."
--yeah, this is taking a downright depressing tone...

pg 4/5: "His hands grip a blade"
--would grip? gripped? I'm not sure what tense this should be in.

pg 5: "But he hasn’t wielded"
--Hadn't. There's a few tense hiccups in this.

pg 5/6: good tension with the woman.

pg 7: +1 for the LGBTQ content. Hopefully there is more not in the "kill your gays" department.

pg 7: "former beloved who has departed from the living world?”
--I'm getting Zombie vibes...

pg 8: "She was clearly not going to last much longer"
--Why is this? Her legs are scraped up, but is there a larger risk to her health?

pg 10: "glided it swiftly and forcefully from ear to ear"
--Oof. Was not expecting that...I was thinking surely he wouldn't follow through.

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3 minutes ago, ginger_reckoning said:
2 hours ago, Aspiring Writer said:

but a lot of your lines were just cringe

This is needlessly harsh. Please consider rephrasing. 

Agree. I didn't have any problem with most of them.

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3 minutes ago, Mandamon said:

I disagree. First, there are plenty of examples of same and opposite sex couples through history, and second, it's your world, so I'd run with it. Though I would like if LGBTQ characters end up surviving!

I... I literally said that. I said go for it if she's going for fantasy, and I said to look for a civilization that do it, I didn't say it never happened.

 

As for the dialogue comment, I gave my honest reaction.

Edited by Aspiring Writer
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5 minutes ago, Mandamon said:

Though I would like if LGBTQ characters end up surviving!

^^^^^^ XD

 

Edited by ginger_reckoning
Its funny because the LGBTQ characters are infamous for not surviving to the end of the plot
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1 minute ago, Aspiring Writer said:
3 minutes ago, Mandamon said:

I disagree. First, there are plenty of examples of same and opposite sex couples through history, and second, it's your world, so I'd run with it. Though I would like if LGBTQ characters end up surviving!

I... I literally said that. I said go for it if she's going for fantasy, and I said to look for a civilization that do it, I didn't say it never happened.

Fair enough. I was interpreting from your structure "if you want realism, then you should research" which sounded like you thought there was a problem with how the relationship was presented. 

Glad we're in agreement!

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Just now, Mandamon said:

Fair enough. I was interpreting from your structure "if you want realism, then you should research" which sounded like you thought there was a problem with how the relationship was presented. 

Glad we're in agreement!

Yeah, no, she's going for historical fantasy and I was confirming which side she was leaning more towards. I know it did happen, the Greeks are a nice example of an old civilization okay with gay couples. The setting she provided made me question, but I'm fine with it.

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12 minutes ago, Aspiring Writer said:

 

As for the dialogue comment, I gave my honest reaction.

You are entitled to your opinion, but it's all about using respectful language. You can disagree with a point or give criticism without using derogatory language like "cringe". It also simply isn't useful, as it doesnt describe a particular problem that can be fixed. 

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Just now, ginger_reckoning said:

You are entitled to your opinion, but it's all about using respectful language. You can disagree with a point or give criticism without using derogatory language like "cringe". It also simply isn't useful, as it doesnt describe a particular problem that can be fixed. 

I do not consider 'cringe' derogatory in any degree, it is something used to describe writing that does not feel right or a reaction to that writing. I gave examples of it when I went through specifics, pointing out the big ones. As for usefulness, I was giving my thoughts on what I had just read, so technically it could be considered useful as my first thoughts and reaction to something can't be wrong and can only provide her with information for her to use. So you are being needlessly picky on a pretty light word.

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11 minutes ago, ginger_reckoning said:
14 minutes ago, Mandamon said:

Though I would like if LGBTQ characters end up surviving!

^^^^^^ XD

 

Valid concern!! I personally am fascinated by the level of acceptance of gay couples in the past (before Christianity made it's way to...well everywhere.)  So! Let's just say that there are more characters on the LGBTQ spectrum in my writing than not!

25 minutes ago, Aspiring Writer said:

the Greeks are a nice example of an old civilization okay with gay couples. The setting she provided made me question, but I'm fine with it.

Yes, the Greeks were super gay! And even in ancient China, there were many Emperor's that had male lovers. (and look at them now *sigh*)

 

2 hours ago, Aspiring Writer said:

Pg9- "a few pills from his bag." Pills? What/how are they made?
 

 

30 minutes ago, ginger_reckoning said:

Pg 9 Im still not sure about the time period. They have pills?

So, the use of pills actually dates back to around 1500 BCE. They didn't exactly look like what we are used to (they were a lot bigger by far) but the idea is the same!

I really should have given more info about the story, so I apologize for that!! I would say that it leans more towards wuxia/xianxia historical fantasy (with the fantasical elements toned down a bit), taking place around... 17th-18th century. I want to say that it's not based on the real world by any means, but that would be lie. I will say that there are certain elements that inspired me from Edo era japan. (I am a nut for ancient japan and old samurai movies)

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1 minute ago, karamel said:

So! Let's just say that there are more characters on the LGBTQ spectrum in my writing than not!

(emperor palpatine voice) Excellent... 

2 minutes ago, karamel said:

I really should have given more info about the story, so I apologize for that!! I would say that it leans more towards wuxia/xianxia historical fantasy (with the fantasical elements toned down a bit), taking place around... 17th-18th century. I want to say that it's not based on the real world by any means, but that would be lie. I will say that there are certain elements that inspired me from Edo era japan. (I am a nut for ancient japan and old samurai movies)

well, you learn something new every day! Also, super intrigued by this, I like when fantasy takes place outside of magical england, so this makes me happy. 

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1 minute ago, karamel said:

Valid concern!! I personally am fascinated by the level of acceptance of gay couples in the past (before Christianity made it's way to...well everywhere.)  So! Let's just say that there are more characters on the LGBTQ spectrum in my writing than not!

Yeah, what luck one of the most widespread religions had to be an anti-gay one.:(

 

1 minute ago, karamel said:

Yes, the Greeks were super gay! And even in ancient China, there were many Emperor's that had male lovers. (and look at them now *sigh*)

Did not know the China one. Fascinating. If only they still were as open-minded. :(

 

3 minutes ago, karamel said:

So, the use of pills actually dates back to around 1500 BCE. They didn't exactly look like what we are used to (they were a lot bigger by far) but the idea is the same!

I really should have given more info about the story, so I apologize for that!! I would say that it leans more towards wuxia/xianxia historical fantasy (with the fantasical elements toned down a bit), taking place around... 17th-18th century. I want to say that it's not based on the real world by any means, but that would be lie. I will say that there are certain elements that inspired me from Edo era japan. (I am a nut for ancient japan and old samurai movies)

Fascinating. Glad to see you know what're your doing. Certainly gives me confidence that you don't add something without consideration. I'm still going to question everything I'm not sure off, though it will mostly me being curious rather than me thinking you made a mistake. I plan on doing my own fantasy soon and any information I can find will be useful. 

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52 minutes ago, ginger_reckoning said:

Pg 11 Burn her in a forest??? Smokey the Bear does not approve. But I guess it makes sense if they’re worried she’s going to turn into a zombie…
 

I know this concerned me too! DX  Initially I had included alcohol in the burning but I was like, "No...probably not a good idea."

 

58 minutes ago, ginger_reckoning said:

However, I think that there are definitely some polishes to be made. There was a lot of tense-slippage, and the grammar was a little confusing at times. I think you could definitely make another pass on making it more understandable. I also think it was a little verbose at times, and could be cut down a bit, especially before meeting M. Meeting her is definitely the hook, and getting to that part should happen a little quicker, in my opinion. There was also a lot of unneccsary adjectives in my opinion, which kind of bogged down the pace.

You pointed out so many good things! Thank you! I am literally numb to this chapter and I can't look at it objectively.  But yes, I was worried it was too emo and dramatic and filled with unnecessary words so I'll have to tone it down a bit! haha

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50 minutes ago, Mandamon said:

Well! This is gloomy and depressing!

Overall, I was pretty engaged after the first few pages. I think the moping around town could be cut down a lot before they find the woman. That's really the key to this chapter and sets the tone for the book. Speaking of which, I had not guessed this was going to be quite so dark. As to tags, there's not really a good one that encompasses this, so thanks for tagging this, but I would definitely say this does have self-harm, even though it is assisted.

 

Yeah, it might be too dark for what I plan to do. I guess I didn't consider just how depressing it was, so thank you for noting that!! :)

 

55 minutes ago, Mandamon said:

pg 2: "sending him further into obscurity."

--interesting phrase. He doesn't seem to concerned about fame, as he's thanklessly cleaning up a village. Why would he be concerned about his body being found?

 

Valid point! That does sound conflicting.

1 hour ago, Mandamon said:

pg 8: "She was clearly not going to last much longer"

--Why is this? Her legs are scraped up, but is there a larger risk to her health?

Another good point. I should have played up the, um, level of her injuries.

 

Thank you for all your suggestions!! They have given me a lot to work with! :)

 

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1 hour ago, ginger_reckoning said:

“obstructed” this means to block, so I’m not really sure what you’re trying to say here. How is the earth blocked?

 

Okay, I was looking into this and there's a word I'm thinking of... and you're right, it's definitely not "obstructed."  Um, damaged? Broken through? Disrupted? Torn apart? Ah!

It may be "destructed." That sounds similar, right? They both got the "-tructed."

Edited by karamel
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Welcome again to the group, @karamel. I'm always excited to read a new author, so without further ado...

(page 1)

- My M.O. in these things is that I am pretty much incapable of critiquing something without doing LBLs (line-by-line comments) on drafting issues. Some people find this useful, some probably don't. I can be persuaded not to do it, but it helps my maintain momentum in critiquing if I don't feel that I'm leaving issues un-flagged. I won't put all the details on the thread here, so I'll email you back a marked up file. I hope you don't mind. Please know that it's not personal: I'm a frustrated proofreader/editor, essentially, with a powerful conviction that there are rights and wrongs, dos and don'ts in writing that make our stuff better if we apply them.

- "stubbornness succeeds over logic" - Not always, sometimes maybe. I wouldn't accept this as a general rule, personally.

- "and ordure was still lingering in the hazy air" - (a) Ha-ha. I used the word 'ordure' about 6 months ago, and some folks found it obscure. I think I did change it, because in the end, I want the maximum number of people to know what I'm talking about. I'll be interested to see what reaction you get to this :); (b) 'was still lingering' is pretty powerfully passive phrasing. The more words you can take out of a piece the clearer it will be. Also, the more direct your prose, the more engaging it will be. Here, I'd say 'the heavy stench (etc.)...lingered in the hazy air'.

- "giving a whole village back to the earth" - I'm enjoying your style. It is adult, IMO; doesn't shy away from using adult words (like ordure :P), and carries an evocative turn of phrase every few lines.

- Overwriting: I've included examples in the LBL file, but I feel there are several examples where lines are over-written, just too many words. Keeping thoughts short and clear has maximum impact. A village is a 'little' settlement, you don't need to say 'little village'. Or, if the village is in fact a hamlet, say hamlet.

I should add that I do this too all the time. Why use five words, when fifteen will do? I'm constantly hacking away at my own stuff.

- "The small sun faded houses" - This is a compound adjective, needs to be hyphenated, IMO. Also, sun-faded is a bit...off, I think. Deterioration of external decoration is rare down to only once force. I think in the case of wooden boards, 'weathered' is a more apposite term, which includes the action of the sun, but also of the rain, wind, etc.

- Okay, after one page...I've got a clear sense of setting; I've got an idea of the situation, enough to be going on with anyway; and I've got an inkling of character. I don't really have any motivation yet, but personally I'm happy to soak up the bleak atmosphere for a page before we get to the stuff that engages me in some kind of story/arc/character motivation.

(page 2)

- "other buildings in the town" - Continuity issue: it was cited as a 'little village before. These things need to be consistent, obvs.

- "anticipating the weight of the stone to steal his last breath" - Now, I'd assumed the houses were wooden construction because of the bit about sun-fading. I'm not sure that the sun fades stone. I'd say it's more likely stone would get darker due to the dirt and maybe smoke that gets flung at it / pasted to it, maybe some moss/lichen, etc.

- "A shameful way to go truthfully" - What's shameful about it? He's recovering and burning bodies. That would be seen as noble by some (although I suspect his motives are not completely altruistic).

- "He probably should have felt more" - Vagueness: cut out vague language. It sounds...vague. The reader wants engagement, and engagement comes from clarity and certainty. Words like 'maybe, perhaps, probably' are death to engagement. Yes, there will be times when they are needed, but the less they appear, the more effective and meaning they will be when you really need them.

- "A disgraceful death" - What on earth is disgraceful about being killed by a bear? That's just nature. Some might say that it was careless, but I don't see that there's anything disgraceful about it.

- "though a touch less reassuring" - I don't understand how something can be comforting, but not reassuring? How are those two things different?

- So, I guess I'm kind of on dialogue alert. Honestly, the dialogue on this page is okay, IMO. Maybe a smidge wordy in places, but I don't hate it at all. Gives the a start of an idea of the relationship these two have. The last paragraph is awkward. Seems like K speak, but then K speaks again in the next paragraph, unless it's N speaking? Unclear.

(page 3)

- Okay, so can we talk about POV. I take it 3rd person omniscient (or, 3rd person omnipotent, as I find myself calling it half the time :rolleyes:) is what you are going for? I'm fine with that. Don't really like it as a rule, but I'll read it.

- "The sun is setting" - Okay, CLANG. This is off. It's maid-and-butler. In other words, they can both see the sun is setting. There is no reason for N to say this, none at all. He only says it to convey the fact to the reader, and that's a no-no. There are other ways to do it. I'm not saying he can't say something to convey the fact, but he can't just come out a say it like this: 'I think if you look to the horizon, K, you will see that the sun is going down, and you know what that means, don't you?'

- "People die every day..." - Yeah, I find this quite stilted. It's not awful, it just sounds he's reading it from a script.

- "Death is almost always in vain" - I think the problem is not even so much with the characters' delivery of the words, it's that the words themselves are really ponderous and philosophical. It sounds like a stage play, and not a particularly good one, if I'm honest. Maybe a couple of philosophers would talk this way, but a couple of Joes at the end of the world...I don't buy it. 

(page 4)

- "was spread throughout the town" - So, this is definitely not a village, it's a town. These are different things.

- "could be brimming with livestock" - Whoa, it's way too late to be thinking about roundup and slaughtering livestock if it's dusk.

- "to try to hunt and gather anything that was edible" - This is flat out crazy. They've had all day to do this and they start when it gets dark? And they're worried about bears? Nuts, plains nuts. (That's a hunter-gatherer joke, BTW :rolleyes:). My point is, these characters have been surviving for days, weeks, months on their own? They did not do that by going H/G in the dark. 

I'm not meaning to go off on a huge rant (it just happens naturally), but a much underrated aspect of the stories and narratives that we all write is logic. Sometimes we, and I mean everyone (certainly me), write things that we want to write because we want things to happen in a certain way, but sometimes that way does not make any logical sense. That's were critiquers come in, of course :) 

- "tall red oaks" - Huh. Hey, @kais, can I get a tree consultation in Aisle Three, please? Do oaks leaves turn red before they fall? Oh, no wait, I just Ecosia'd images of fall oaks, forget I said anything.

- "While N ran ahead to scout for animals" - Okay, I'm a desk-jockey city boy, but even I know that there is only one way to truly guarantee finding no animals whatever and having absolutely zero chance of catching any kind of prey: (1) go hunting at night; (2) run through the forest making all the noise; (3) have no visible means of actually catching anything that is sold old and lame and deaf and blind that it can't get out of your way; and (4) not be able to see where you are going.

- "expansive maze of wood sentinels" - Okay, this is really tortured as a metaphor. Does this mean 'tree'? Sometimes a tree is just a tree, yeah?

(page 5)

- You've completely lost me. What is all this sword and brush stuff? Is there are sword? A brush? I don't understand. Clarity is a really important thing in writing. That don't mean we can't go a poetic from time to time, but the reader has to understand what we're talking about.

Also, here seems as good a point as any to note that I don't really feel any engagement with either of these characters. What are their motivations? Just to survive? Just top make a home together? Are they a couple? Just friends? I'm not sure what's going on, and I'm not sure why I want to read an entire book about these two guys who don't seem to know what they're doing.

- "burying dozens of corpses" - Why? What is K's motivation?

- "A figure, crawling— no, struggling on the forest floor" - How are crawling and struggling different?

- "K and N stood and watched" - I thought N was up a tree.

- "looked up to meet eyes" - IMO, you can meet someones eyes, but you don't meet eyes with them. Not a phrase I have ever heard. Oh, and "looking at in the distance" - Continuity issue. The person was said to be in the distance. That phrase evokes hundreds of metres. They can't meet gazes over that sort of distance. There's a disconnect here in terms of distance.

- "but that hardly sounds valiant" - Why is being valiant important, or even relevant?

(page 6)

- "testing the waters ahead of him" - But......there are no waters, they're in a forrest. Clarity, first among all things.

- "K closed the gap between them" - You've really got to tidy up the blocking in this scene (the relationship of things in the scene relative to each other). You can't have a person in the distance, meeting gazes and someone closing the distance in, what, a handful of strides? These things don't add up.

- "My home was attacked. Ambushed." - Okay, I know this is dialogue, and characters are allowed to say things that are kind of...not right. In an ambush, the ambusher lies in wait for the ambushee, who by convention is moving from A to B. I don't see that you can ambush a house, unless it's on the back of a lorry, sorry, truck.

(page 7)

- "not believe the things I have seen" - Mmm. On the dialogue front, I think this sidles up to cliche, slaps it on the back then steps away again. 'I've seen grammar you people wouldn't believe. Infinitives split off the shoulder of Orion...etc. All those words will be lost in time... like verbs in rain...

- "I am keen to have an open mind these days" - Consistency of tone/convincing dialogue: this woman is dehydrated, she can barely speak, she is NOT going to construction complex sentences and use nice grammar. 

Dialogue is a tiny bit like acting, I imagine, in that the best dialogue comes from a place where the writer tries to inhabit the characters situation, viewpoint and state of mind. Different characters need to speak in different ways. You're a Star Wars fan, right? Watch back a few minutes of A New Hope, scenes with Ben Kenobi, Luke and Han, and then with Leia included later on. Study how they speak to one another. They have clear personalities: wise one; joker; bossy-boots/voice of reason; stroppy teenager. Here, there is a tendency for the characters to talk in the same mode. Okay, they seem to be similar age, similar education level, similar social level, etc. (Although I thought K was significantly older. He does not talk like a young man, IMO.)

- "the brightness gone from her" - Well, she was dead at the time, and this is the thing woman notices, when the wife was just buried? This is not convincing, to me.

- "departed from the living world" - I know I've said this already, but I think it's highly unlikely that any of them would speak in this melodramatic way, never mind all of them.

(page 8)

- I'm not convinced by the woman's urge to die, BUT, having said that, the dialogue around it is better than other parts. Short sentences, quick responses, emotional resistance. It's more convincing, IMO.

- "There is not much that separates us" - Hmm. I would have to disagree with her quite strenuously on this point.

- "I’ll help you" - I don't buy this. There was almost no morale tussle within him, no emotional battle in his internal narrative. He accepts this way too easily. I think it comes back to character, and the fact that I am not really engaged by either K or N as characters with depth. They look off to the horizon in a moody way, but that is not enough, for me. I need to know more about what they are thinking and why.

(page 10)

- This page of the enacting of the deed itself was certainly well written, IMO. I whipped through it, felt the unspoken anguish within him, recognised his competence in the deed itself. I thought that was well done.

(page 11)

- "the people in the village" - Need to sort out this discrepancy between village and town, it's one or the other.

- I'm going to presume that you don't live in an area at risk of forest fires? This is exactly how vast swathes of forest are wiped out. Starting a fire on the forest floor where clearly there are suitable quantities of dry material. 

(page 12)

- "The smell of the burning flesh" - Now, this should be past tense, because it was stated that they waited until the fire burned out.

- The end is really drawn out for me. They've been talking about this the whole time, but it's still used to draw a line under the chapter. It lacks the kind of impact that I want to pull me into the next chapter.

Overall 

- There's some good writing here. There's a brooding and desperate kind of tone that feels right for the subject matter, but I am just not engaged by the characters enough that I would eagerly dive into the next chapter. 

- Plausibility is another issue for me. There are actions and behaviour that I think are not really plausible or logical. One or two, but they threw my when they came up.

- Another thing I'm puzzled at. Where was the attempt at self harm, oh and, there was an actual murder, or assisted suicide!! I would urge you to be a bit more precise with the tags. It doesn't bother me, but others might have trouble with it.

- The dialogue: I thought some of it was okay, but some of it was just not at all convincing for how people would speak in that situation, I reckon. Very dispassionate, emotionless. Brooding is all very well, but I can become dull really quickly, and does not help with the character development. I made some detailed points about some of the issues I had with the dialogue, but it is possible to learn that stuff. Not everyone likes Joss Whedon, or Aaron Sorkin, but they can scorch with dialogue. I would take the time to seek out discussion on that sort go thing, or take notes on your favourite movies and TV< and how they handle dialogue. It doesn't need to have deep meaning, not everything that people say does. In fact, very little that people say is powerfully, or analytical. Most of the time they are just hungry, tired, grouchy, etc.

- The usual grammar, word choice, etc. sort of drafting issue, but that's hardly unusual.

- Thanks for subbing. not withstanding what I said above, I certainly would read the next sub, but I would be looking for more in the areas that I've mentioned. What's the plot? What drives these characters? Why are they together? What's happening in the world? I need the next chapter to move these elements forward.

:) 

Edited by Robinski
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3 hours ago, Mandamon said:

a period zombie piece

5 hours ago, Aspiring Writer said:

old civilizations

I didn't read this as an 'old' civilisation or period piece, I just read that society and technology had broken down. There was a reference to a sword, but that threw me totally, because I was thinking post-apocalypse.

3 hours ago, Aspiring Writer said:

she's going for historical fantasy

That's true, you did say that in the comments. In that case, I struggle with some of the reference. Where do they get tranquillisers from, that they can make themselves, in pill word. So, the sword...was that an actual sword, is that the level of technology that we're talking about? I did not get any real sense that this was set in a medieval-type setting.

3 hours ago, karamel said:

I really should have given more info about the story, so I apologize for that!!

I think the point is that we need to see that on the page, we need to have it communicated through the writing, perhaps by more description of clothing, barons or other rulers, some of the trapping of period settings, I did really get much sense of that. For example, there is mentioned of his robe, and that could be an 'in' to mentioning other elements of period clothing, but I don't feel that aspect of setting or world building was built upon enough for me to appreciate the period aspect.

3 hours ago, karamel said:

I was worried it was too emo and dramatic and filled with unnecessary words so I'll have to tone it down a bit! haha

I don't think the tone was a bad thing. Presumably you were going for that bleak tone? I think it is a really well-done aspect of the chapter. I would urge you not to tone it down, I think it's one of the piece's really strengths. But it's up to you of course, you need to stick with, or go for the tone that you want, that you intended. I think the way to counterbalance the bleak tone is through character development. K is a really mopey character, but N seems more optimistic, sensitive. Improving the dialogue and character voice would give the reader something to take them out of the bleakness of the setting.

4 hours ago, ginger_reckoning said:

Pg 11 Burn her in a forest??? Smokey the Bear does not approve. But I guess it makes sense if they’re worried she’s going to turn into a zombie…

No really, drag her out of the forest or they will set the world on fire. c/f California, Australia, etc.

2 hours ago, karamel said:
3 hours ago, Mandamon said:

pg 8: "She was clearly not going to last much longer"

--Why is this? Her legs are scraped up, but is there a larger risk to her health?

Another good point. I should have played up the, um, level of her injuries.

Yup. I thought of that when reading then forgot to mention it.

- "as if the earth had never been obstructed" - is the word not 'disturbed'? He wants to disguise the fact that the ground has been dug up, typically, that's talked about in terms of disturbing the surface.

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3 minutes ago, Robinski said:

That's true, you did say that in the comments. In that case, I struggle with some of the reference. Where do they get tranquillisers from, that they can make themselves, in pill word. So, the sword...was that an actual sword, is that the level of technology that we're talking about? I did not get any real sense that this was set in a medieval-type setting.

Eh, I did not get a post apolocyze feel this. Granted, I read the comment and I don't read very many post A books, but this felt more old time period than the modern or future period set back. There were no remnants of another world that they are unfamiliar with or no longer had access to, which a lot of post A tend to have, and the fact there's a village and supposedly a community always deters me from that. And pills, while seemingly advanced and I can see how that might move you toward that (there's a comment above confirming they could make them, though now I'm questioning the effectiveness pills back then would have. hmm.), I don't feel that's enough to go there.

Not trying to say you're wrong or anything, your point is still valid in the fact she has to world build more and make it more clear where and when she is, just felt that what you extrapolated isn't something most readers would conclude from what we got and her world-building isn't that screwed.

 

 

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26 minutes ago, Robinski said:

- Thanks for subbing. not withstanding what I said above, I certainly would read the next sub, but I would be looking for more in the areas that I've mentioned. What's the plot? What drives these characters? Why are they together? What's happening in the world? I need the next chapter to move these elements forward.

 

:) 

Wowie! Thank you for all your suggestions! (I say while sobbing and hiding under a blanket)

Nah, jokes aside, I value the amount of feedback and level of detail in your critique! I actually had a dream last night that everyone said that my work was so bad that it was not even worth critiquing. So, yeah.

8 minutes ago, Robinski said:

I didn't read this as an 'old' civilisation or period piece, I just read that society and technology had broken down. There was a reference to a sword, but that threw me totally, because I was thinking post-apocalypse.

 

I had not even considered that this could be viewed as post-apocalyptic! Interesting!  I will definitely have to be more specific in my details so that the era translates better.

10 minutes ago, Robinski said:

- "as if the earth had never been obstructed" - is the word not 'disturbed'? He wants to disguise the fact that the ground has been dug up, typically, that's talked about in terms of disturbing the surface.

Yes! Disturbed! Good word! I honestly don't know why I thought obstructed was the right word. whoops!

 

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Well looks like I stumbled in on a hotspot of discussion. 

I think there's a strong base to work with here. In particular, the combination of the "dead coming to life" hook and K's major character detail being "more comfortable with the death and the dead than the living" looks like it has a ton of potential to interact in fun ways, and imo these are the two things the chapter is already interested in hammering home. So good start!

My suggestions are more about how these ideas are implemented here. I think the first few pages really try to hammer home K's connection to and surprising comfort level around death, which is good, but the motion of the story doesn't really start until N joins. I think the beginning of the chapter could better set up K's character if N is around the whole time and they play off each other. This is because it's hard to get motion or discern K's character from the fantasy culture when we don't have another character pushing things along, and N is the most likely candidate for either a character foil or some other dynamic to show more about K. Also even though the story tries to band-aid it by having K be surprised too, the timing of N's appearance felt jarring to me. I also think that once the dynamic is established, we should get to M's appearance quickly because that's the meat of the plot hook. Here is where I think the story has an opportunity to show K's character in action. He's not good at dealing with living people, right? What does that look like when he encounters a stranger? N is here to guide the conversation along, so we can have K be awkward. And by seeing that dynamic in action, the story can cut out some earlier exposition about K's character. Plus it will make his relative calmness and assuredness about killing M more striking. I know I'm getting into prescriptive territory, but I do think M's quick path from life to death is the perfect opportunity to show how K deals with both. 

Oh, and other people have kinda mentioned this, but there is a stigma about killing queer characters. I don't mind it personally so long as it's not done poorly (and it's done fine here imo) but other people may comment down the line. Even queer authors feel like they have to change stuff to avoid killing queer characters, though I personally prefer to see it stay as it is in this case (though I'm not lesbian so idk how much my opinion counts for though). 

The only real issue I had with the dialogue was that M's retelling of what happened felt a bit too expository. I don't think we need all the context when "dead wife rose and tried to kill her" is the main point here and M is (presumably) not a major character. 

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10 hours ago, karamel said:

Wowie! Thank you for all your suggestions! (I say while sobbing and hiding under a blanket)

Oops. :unsure: 

10 hours ago, karamel said:

Nah, jokes aside, I value the amount of feedback and level of detail in your critique! I actually had a dream last night that everyone said that my work was so bad that it was not even worth critiquing.

No, never. I've never found anything here in seven years that wasn't worth critiquing. I've read things that I found I had to stop critiquing because I had too many issues with it. This is neither of those :) 

10 hours ago, karamel said:

I had not even considered that this could be viewed as post-apocalyptic! Interesting!  I will definitely have to be more specific in my details so that the era translates better.

I really think that's it. If there were a few more hints. Just spitballing, but: maybe they get water from a well; maybe there are stocks in the square (that's a bit niche); reference to a tavern usually does it (cliche alert!) - I don't mean in the sense of people gathering their, but it being as broken down as everything else, but just being there.

I'm tempted to skim the story again to offer more comment on this perception of mine. Oh, and forgot to email the LDL file. Sent now.

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Hello and welcome! 

I really enjoyed how vividly you write. I live in the NW of the US and so trees are my natural habitat and I loved how you invoked the feelings of the river and trees. A little wordy sometimes, but better too much than too little :-)

A few things I noticed as I read:

"The weight of the stone..." I don't see the mention of the houses being made of stone  before this. To me it was a little confusing if you were referencing the house collapsing or pure metaphor. 

"Brush of tall oaks." This could be regional, but to me 'brush' is low lying and thick foliage as opposed to tall trees. 

"Another luxury he was fortunate to have" reading this, it strikes me that either K is hyper educated for his time, or this might be a bit wordy for his personal thoughts. 

"He saw a sword as a brush." I like this point and the evidence you support it with. It does feel smashed together with other ideas that don't harmonize though. 

"She sloped to the floor" It seemed like she was already laying on the ground before K killed her.

"Quite disillusioned" I wasn't clear on what K meant by that here. 

I find myself liking K and his palladian/ronin vibe. Like @Robinski, I look forward to seeing what K wants and what challenges he will set himself against. 

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