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sniperfrog

1/04/2021 - Sniperfrog - The Trials - Chaeron's Introduction - (V,G,L) - 4,620 words

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Hey everyone! Hope your New Year's Celebrations went well. 
 
This week, I am submitting a chapter from the same story as before, but this is from the perspective of a new MC. I am working out a timeline and the events in this chapter take place before my previously submitted work. I am not sure if I am going to move this ahead of the previous subs or not. I also have mixed feelings about the previous chapters anyway, so I will likely be making some major revisions to those.
 
This is still an early draft, so LBLs are not necessary. If you see some egregious mistakes, though, don't hesitate to let me know. 
 
Combat is a place that I am looking to improve. Let me know if things are too hectic or hard to follow. I want there to be brutal fighting, so I am trying to convey that. 
 
My tone could also use some work. Let me know what sort of vibes you guys get off the tone here, so I can make adjustments accordingly. 
 
Dialogue is hard, and I am really bad at it. I have made several changes to dialogue in this section, but I'm still unsure of myself. Let me know how the dialogue flows here and if it feels natural.
 
Last is Ch's Blade, V. I want to know how you feel about his interactions with the Blade and whether or not this works the way I want it to. Blades are not meant to be living entities (i.e. Shardblades), but they do have a bit of sentience in them. Like a more abstract personality.
 
The map is finally here! It is not completely finished, but there is enough here to add it here for reference. I have also included my timeline and the calendar reference sheet, for easy use. This timeline will likely evolve into my main outline after it gets beefed up a bit. Let me know if you see anything that doesn't quite add up. Also, ignore any entries that have not yet been subbed, as they are still in the first draft phase and things will likely be changed. 
 
Thanks again for being so awesome!
 
 
Edited by sniperfrog
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Comments. Interested to read this, and see how things are developing :) 

(page 1)

- "it is always a chilling experience" - How would S now?

- Lots of different typefaces will put off an editor/reader. Shunn's MS format doesn't exactly cover these sorts of epigraphs and whatnot, but I would strong recommend keeping all the type sizes the same. Sure, use italics, but not different sizes of text, and don't mix fonts like serif and san-serif. Instant rejection from most markets, I expect.

- I'm not going to LBL, but there are issue (in stark contrast to). That's the first and last...probably :rolleyes:

- The name Cha gives me a strong association with Charon, who rows should across the River Styx to the underworld.

- "It appeared that he was getting closer" - Who was getting closer, the raider or Cha?

- The word "charred" appears three times in the first six lines. That's too much. You're trying to convince editor/agent/publisher/reader that you are a skilled writer. Part of this is showing you know more than one word to indicate burning ;)  Also, charred chimes against the MC's name, so there are even more instances of that 'cha' sound in these opening lines.

- A living sword that doesn't like senseless violence?! Well, that's unusual.

- "was still in the area" - Why is it likely?

- "I will have the boys" - <sigh> Okay, to me, this kind of sets the playingfield for gender roles in this story, and not in a good way. It presents a male-dominated world where An is a woman out of place. She becomes 'special' / remarkable because she is a woman in a man's world, in a world where women should not be soldiers, but should be at home, cooking and cleaning. Is that what you were going for?

- "staying here a couple days" - Eh?! Why? I'm confused why the raider would stay in the area, which is not good raiding tactics, but even more confused why, suspecting they are close to their target, they stop hunting him and hunker down? This makes not sense to me.

- "the others from the Fist..." - Not clear what the FoS is. Also, is 'Fist' in this military context not a straight life from Game of Thrones? Wheel of Time? I'm sure I've heard this term using in fantasy recently and often?

- "An had been a pitiful wretch" - Ooh, I was really concerned that the male MC was going to have turned her life around, given her the chance to take control and strike back, because it takes a man to do that, enable le a woman to be strong. You're skirting dangerous ground here. I am on high alert.

(page 2)

- "so Cha had taken her on as a spymaster" - Oh, carp, you went there. He's the one in charge, of course, without him she would never have amounted to anything. The subtext here is problematic, IMO, outmoded at best.

- "the small street" - Streets parent's small. What does that mean? Short? Narrow? Lined with houses two-feet tall?

- "he noticed that the figure was carrying a sword" - This figure is terrible at hiding. I think it would be good to call that out, otherwise it feels really unlikely, and quite plot-ful that Cha can see them so easily.

- "trying to push her advantage of surprise" - But she has no advantage of surprise; he saw her from miles away.

(page 3)

- "his voice menacing in the darkness" - This is not in his POV, surely.

- "Her wrist snapped from the power" - Hmph. Phrasing like "the blow was far too strong", and the bit about her wrist snapping, I think again come from an unconscious bias that his opponent is weaker because she is a woman.

- "A clue, perhaps?" - Do you think so? Feels to me like the sort of blindingly obvious line Inspector Lestrade might offer to Sherlock Holmes.

- "gave her a bit of his spit" - Not good phrasing, IMO. it softens, weakens the gesture of him spitting on her dead corpse. If you want this to be gritty--which I think you mentioned--you've got to write it gritty. Like "Cha prodded the body with his foot then spat on the woman's face..." Something...well, gritty.

- "He gave a curse under his breath" - I'm LBL-ing, but this goes to style, which goes to grittiness. This sort of phrasing, is very indirect, and therefore less engaging. In this sort of circumstance, why would you not just say 'He cursed under his breath'? Eliminate all unnecessary words (words that don't add anything), is (good) advice from Elements of Style, I think.

- "black in the dying fire light" - one word, also, I thought he was standing beside a campfire. I guess it's the light form the burning building, but I was disoriented.

- "tried to clean the blood from V's Blade" - Directness is really important, I think, in trying to achieve a gritty feel. Why does he only try, surely he succeeds in cleaning off the blood? It can't be that hard.

- "Now where did An get to?" - because of my mindset, I hear a note of reproach for An in this statement, which is completely unfair.

(page 4)

- "made the fury burn stronger" - This feels like telling to me. There's a lot about him being angry, but he's angry at the assassin, angry at his horse for moving away, angry at An (for no good reason). Okay, these can be manifestations of a deeper rage, but I can't help feeling I'm being told about it, rather than shown it.

- Seems to me the sword's name is feminine, but the narrative refers to it by neutral pronouns. Just strikes my ear slightly odd when it occurs.

- "running over to him" - Would a man do this? Is this an indication that, secretly, she's madly in love with him? I hope not, because cliché, and gendered one at that. Characters do things differently for a reason, but in matters of gender (and others may or may not comment on this, and are far more well-versed than I at picking these things up) I think the thing is to consider whether a person of the opposite gender would do that, if not, why, or rather why does the narrative expect that person to behave like that.

- "as she began to go at it with her needle and thread" - NOOOOOOO!! I don't need to evoke my medical adviser this time (I expect @Sarah B may have something to say, though). The wound has to be cleaned. What if there's dirt or other foreign matter in it, a bit of cloth, anything could cause an infection: go directly to the graveyard, do not pass go. These are the little details that we need to get right or readers will not trust the author to tell the rest of the story.

- "sounded like the Cha" - No, wait, what? So, not only is the word charred used three times in the first six lines, and sounds like the MC's name, but it is also the name of the bandit troop? That's just too much, IMO. I'll be playing drinking game bingo by this evening.

- "Send a couple scouts to check it out, have them follow until we can find their base of operations" - Okay, you talked about dialogue. I would say up to now it's been...unremarkable. Scans okay, sounds like something a real person would say. The trouble is, it's not entertaining, it's not interesting or surprising. I think the main problem is that the characters always say exactly what the reader would expect them to say.

This, as you may know, is referred to be WE are low-hanging fruit. Simply defined, writer writes the first thing that comes into their head. 99 times from 100 this thing is also the least interesting thing in any given situation. The trick is to discard it, throw away that first line and come with another way to say the same thing. Use words you've never used before, use a weird metaphor, do something different, because doing the obvious thing every time is not going to fly. 

Example (because examples are fun :)):        [Following comments tagged L for language; T for grit.]

(0) - "Send a couple scouts to check it out, have them follow until we can find their base of operations."

(1) - "Get two lads on their trail. Let's see where they're skulking."

(2) - "Put two trackers on them. I want to know where that bastard sleeps."

(3) - "Have Aye and Bee follow that stinking fox to his lair. I wanna piss on him when's he's sleeping."

I think the thing to target are word choice, and tone. The dialogue so far is quite neutral, and I think this actually maybe links back to my comment about being told Cha is angry instead of feeling it in his thoughts.

- "Tell them to take a week's worth of supplies" - This is too much, IMO. He gives the orders and it's up to others for figure out how to do that. I'm bringing this back to the unconscious bias thing. Does he feel that he needs to tell An how to do this, because she's only a woman and he doesn't trust her to instruct the trackers properly?

- "He’s so close that I can almost feel it. We’ll have him soon" - Bah, cliché. Do you read your dialogue out loud? That's a good way to develop an ear for these things, but again, refer to comments about LHF (low-hanging fruit).

- "P is in AM still?" - Huh? Wow, just got whiplash from the change in direction of the conversation. Where did that some from? Nobody said anything about P or AM.

(page 5)

- "We should hear news soon" - How does he know this? Who are the FK? Goodies? Baddies?

- "We need to get these to the next town" - He talks about them like they are cattle. That undermines any feeling I've got that he actually cares about these people.

- "We’ll need more men if this comes to a fight" - Why? I've got no sense of how many men the raiders have, or how many Cha's men have. Who does Cha work for? Don't the ruling authorities have loads of resources? Without knowing what is going on in the world, I've got no reason to be invested in anyone's aims. Classic case of no investment in character or plot, I'm afraid. Sorry.

(page 6)

- "we were as quiet as a couple of owls in the night" - Yes, now this is much better. It's a little bit odd, but it provides an image with some interest to it. I can form a picture, imagine then sneaking / gliding around silently. Not sure why the guy smiles sarcastically though, that implies that the were not as quiet as owls.

- "Not seen, but heard maybe" - This is not the point. The point is that the scout will be unaccounted for. if they were actually heard, I'd expect them to have been chased.

- "We will have to double the watch" - Nope. I've got patience for this guy. I think I'd be happier if An was leading this group. There is a raiding force of 600 soldiers in their country? What use is setting up a few more guards about their camp? If the raider decides to attack them, a minutes' warning will be pretty much useless. Let's say he sends 100 men against Cha. (How many does Cha have?) He's not going to win that battle anyway. I think he needs advance scouts out in the countryside, far from their own camp, so that they can give a lot of advance warning.

- "but hopefully we can prevent an open engagement" - The only way they can do that if R wants it is to run away, it seems to me. What is Cha trying to achieve?

- "They came for me" - For me, this is the first particularly interesting thing that's happened. It's surprising, and I like that it brings An into focus. The thing to avoid now is having Cha save her.

- "Take the rest of the night off" - :lol: Really? There is a raiding force of 600 men, they're outnumbered by, what 6-, 8-, 10-to-one, and he's giving them the night off? What are they going to do, go catch a movie? Sorry, I'm being facetious, but it's not even the dialogue here, but the thought behind it. I think the tactical and strategic threads, the decision-making of the characters in a military situation, could do with a review. This goes to the tone of the piece, and how much it feels like these characters are under pressure, scared/concerned/invested in their own situation. 

- "My entire team was killed besides myself and two others" - (1) 'team'--in this context--is modern-speak; (2) it is patently not the 'entire' team: three people survived. 

(page 7)

- "We will deal with them together" - This makes no sense to me. She's admitted to rebelling again the ruling... whatever it is. He is defending the country from raiders. Surely they are enemies. Has she not just admitted to being an enemy of the state?

- "these guys are not f-ing around" - This is modern-speak.

- "but he knew he couldn’t say the words" - I don't understand. What do the words mean? Why can't he say them? Unclear.

- "went back to his reports" - So uncaring, and dismissive of her. She pours him a drunk (a kind of subservient action) and he doesn't even acknowledge it, let alone say 'thank you'.

- I really like that epigraph about the dagger. Having said that, at this point, I don't think that anything I'm going to say from this point on will be much different from what I've said already, or that other will pick. So, I'm going to post these comments, and hope that they are helpful. 

Overall

Dialogue: Low-hanging fruit > cliché. I think I've covered it in my comment pretty thoroughly. It is an issue, you're right, and I hope the comments help. Bottom line, when you right a line of dialogue, replace it immediately with something else, saying the same thing in an interesting way. 

Plot: Kind of boring. I think it falls into the same category as the dialogue. It feels like the first plot that you thought of. Burning village, chasing the raiders. MC gets attacked and has a fight. Why do I care about any of that? Catching a bad man as main character motivation is not going to carry me through the book, maybe not even the first chapter, because nothing gets me invested in the characters.

In summary, I think there are issue with the story. I don't think think the plot elements hold together under much scrutiny, and I'm not involved enough with the characters to be enthusiastically reading on. Sorry to be negative, and I wish you the best with it.

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Pg 1:

I’m not entirely sure what C’s reaction to the opening scene is. He seems to be observing with no real emotion at all, but if that’s the case, then what’s he thinking about instead?  If he sees this sort of thing all the time, is he just exhausted from being on the road?  Concerned about weather that’s coming in? Wishing he’d chosen something different for breakfast? Making a mental note to check some loose spot in his gear? Giving V a reassuring pat gives us the idea that he has some sense of sympathy, to want to comfort it, but if C isn’t as concerned about senseless violence, what can whatever he is concerned about tells us about him and how he processes the world?

We get a little more of a hint from A. The use of “distaste” instead of horror or shock does a good job of conveying that she has seen enough of this sort of thing to have moved beyond horror or grief, and her already having the others set up camp shows a sense of initiative and practicality.  But I don’t get as much of a read on C.

Who are “the boys”? Is A using it condescendingly?  As a sort of parental fondness? I don’t know enough about her or the FoS or their history to have a gauge on this.  [also, checking back later, I’d expected “the boys” to be a small group.  A sort of raiding party.  Not a group planning to chase down a small army. Which just makes the confusion behind my earlier questions bigger.]

This seems like an odd time to reminisce about a first meeting. Especially when the details it reveals don’t seem immediately relevant.

Pg 2:

First thought in C assuming that the figure is an assassin is that he’s paranoid.  Maybe with good reason, but I don’t know enough about who he or his group are to know.  I generally don’t trust people who approach burning towns with the intention of killing the first survivor they see, though. 

“The figure…a woman, C realized.”  If it’s a “light frame” that is eventually indicating that she’s a woman, isn’t that something he would have noticed by the time he was close enough to see that she was armed?  If he hadn’t gotten a clear gauge on size at first glance, was he likely to assume the assassin was a man until he got close enough to change his opinion, at which point, would his second guess be teenage boy or woman?  Which is he more likely to assume for his assumed assassin? Probably whichever he perceives as more threatening. But which is that? This seems like another good chance to show us how he processes things, to see how he works from one guess to another as more information is added in.  And how likely it is to have female assassins/fighters in this world.

Also, I’m still not convinced that he had reason to assume that she was an assassin? I imagine that anyone who had managed to hide away from people burning her village down would be trying to stay out of the way upon seeing new riders coming in if she didn’t know who they were.  And I wouldn’t blame her for being a little jumpy with her sword if that was the case. 

Pg 3:

“Who are you?” – This seems like a bad time to be asking questions.  Especially if it’s not important enough for him to hold off on killing her until he has at least tried to get an answer.  Also, I don’t know if I just missed the detail above or if it wasn’t mentioned, but I hadn’t realized it was dark out.  

Pain-numbing swords seem very handy.

Is the “light material” of the medallion metallic?  Something stone-like? Bone-like? Is light referring to the color or the weight?  Also, grabbing her belt knife to cut through the leather is probably going to be a lot easier than snapping it free. Depending on how thick the leather is, it’s likely going to take more than a “tug” to break it. [checking back after later thoughts.  If he hasn’t put the sword away yet -because, pain-  why not use that?  Are there rules for proper use of magic swords?  Or polite use, depending on how sentient they are?]

Pg 4:

A working with the field medics:  Wasn’t she organizing a scouting party?  I didn’t get the impression that C’s noticing the assassin and fighting her had taken that long.  If she’s supposed to be organizing the setting up of camp and such, it seems odd that she’s off working with the medics.  If she’s dealt with the scouts, gotten things organized, and is now moving on to another task, and he’s just wandering over, is blood loss going to be a bigger concern? Also, if they have medics, why is he looking for her when a medic seems more immediately necessary?

“Made the fury burn stronger.”  At the moment, the only thing I’ve gotten the impression that he’s angry about is that there was an assassin there.  And that his horse had run off after being slashed at. Is this supposed to be righteous anger at the burning of the town? 

We’re assuming the Judge is some sort of god of death and judgment, based on C’s comments after his fight.  Is there a reason A swears by him here instead of some other deity?  Or why his beard is especially relevant? There doesn’t necessarily have to be, and if there is, we don’t need to know that here, but I think far too much about what people’s oaths and chosen swear words say about their perspective of the world, so I always ask these questions.

“What happened…vital organs.” They skipped a bunch of basic first aid steps here.  Especially if they have medics readily available.  And if A is C’s second, I’m not sure why she’s trying her hand at stitching.  She’d probably know basic first aid for emergencies, but if they have medics, they would be doing the real work.    No reason for her not to report about the scouts while he’s being stitched, but I don’t get why she’s here instead of dealing with the scouts she’d gone to send out.

“Sounded like the…we can’t be sure.” How close did they get? And what is the geography like around the village that prevented them from being spotted in the process?

“slipped V back into its sheath” – I really like the magic sword so far.  Makes me wonder what its full capabilities are. What makes them the way they are? Are there a lot of magical swords? Or is V special? If there are multiple ones, do different ones have different capabilities? Does he consider checking her sword to see if it’s also magical? Is the magic tied to the user/owner (and what if those are not the same people)? These questions don’t need in-text answers, but they are things that I am very curious about :)   

“Send a couple of scouts.” Wasn’t it the scouts that she’d sent that saw them?  The “check it out” seems to conflict with “follow them.” My perception was that things had already been checked out. Also, “a couple” Seems vague for someone handing out orders.  If he trusts her judgment over his own on the matter of how many is the best number, have him imply that. Her former spymastering might make that the case, depending on what all that involved.  If it’s going to require certain skills, she’s likely to know who is most suited to the task of stealth in certain terrains.

Hah. And getting to the next paragraph, I see that you already took care of my assumptions. Nice. This is exactly how I would have expected her to have acted given what we’d seen of her personality earlier (or at least how I was hoping to have her acting.  I always enjoy practical, take care of what needs to be done characters).  Might still be good to show his trust in her judgment before we find out that she already did what he expected.  Maybe something along the lines of “If you haven’t already, choose a couple of people to follow them.” 

The questions about P seem really out of place here.

Pg 5:

“Last I heard…hear news soon.” This seems like something that she would have known already. 

Pigeons: Do C and company have a regular base of operations that pigeons would be flying to?  I don’t know enough about the circumstances to know if they do more roving around or if this venture is an unusual case.  A pigeon will go to where it was trained to go, but if that’s nowhere near the burned village, I have no idea what the communication delay on that might be.

“recruit the ones who can fight” Where were these people in the opening? If any of them were in the village, why did C set off after the supposed-assassin because she looked suspicious if there were also other people wandering around?

“We’ll need more men”  I don’t have a good concept of how many men they have.  Initially I thought it was a small group, but the addition of medics and scouts and mess tents makes it seem like more.  Also, if A is here, my assumption was that there were other women as well. Also, the fact that they periodically refer to the group as “the boys” doesn’t seem to fit C or A’s personalities.

“See that it’s taken care of.” If A is in the middle of something important, whether that’s helping the medics or doing whatever she is near the medics, this seems like a rather menial task to assign her.  There has to be someone standing around who he would send off to find a horse.  Even some random townsperson.  Hope he didn’t have anything important in his saddlebags, and that the gear wasn’t valuable…

“fires were finally put out by that evening” wasn’t it already dark out?

I hadn’t expected C to be the type to wind down by sitting down and smoking a pipe in the evening.

Pg 6:

“Two hundred horse … open engagement” Seeing that many people from a distance seems like it would be pretty straightforward depending on terrain.  The numbers and distances here all feel off.  I don’t know enough to know what they should be, but I’d check with someone who does to make sure that they make sense.

A’s response to the medallion contradicts what we’ve seen from her so far. I’d expect maybe some fear in her reaction, but not pale shakiness when she’d calmly surveyed the brutal destruction of the village with distaste. I’d expect more anger if anything, if she thinks she was in the right to act as she did.  Or if she looks at their turning on her as a betrayal as well.  Either way, I think we need to know more about the world before we can figure out where any of the new things she mentions fits. 

Pg 7:

The conversation between A and C after this seems uncharacteristic for either of them.  I still don’t have a good sense of his personality, but it certainly doesn’t seem warm and compassionate, and the impression of her that I got from the beginning (which I am clinging to because I like it.  If he’s made her his second, it suggests a levelheadedness and steadiness in battle to deserve it.) doesn’t make her seem like the type to give in to fear and despair.  Even if they are close enough to be a little more open with each other than out in the open, their personalities aren’t going to do a full 180. The pipe smoking also still seems out of place.

Also, if he’s still in pain, expecting an attack, and generally had a long day, is he likely to remember to pull a necklace out of his pocket and ask about it? He thought it might be a clue, but had said specifically said that it didn’t seem familiar. I would think he’d be worrying about how to be preparing his people to defend their camp, should they be attacked. I’m curious about where things with the necklace go, but I don’t think we have enough knowledge about the world yet to make sense of the explanation she gives. 

“The sounds of fighting woke him.” Wouldn’t one of their scouts have seen a fighting group that size approaching with plenty of time to wake him up?

Pg 8:

“had no time” Nope.  Put on that armor.  How would he be likely to respond to the men he commands going this route?

The military/battle mechanics seem off through this section, but I don’t know enough to call out specifics.

There is a whole lot of information exchanged between C and R in their challenge that we have very little world-context to place any of it in.

I’m not sure what the conversation between A&C accomplishes before the duel, and I think the duel itself could be trimmed down significantly.  

Closing comment: A seems to be very well-stocked on flasks. 

Overall thoughts:

Dialogue: Overall, I didn’t notice anything especially problematic through the first day, except a couple lines in the final conversation between A and C that seemed to be aiming for some sort of accent or slang: “Like seein’ a ghost, that is” is the only one I’m finding now, but I thought there were a couple of others. These seem out of place.  And when we jump to the duel, everything gets really wordy and overly formal.

Not being problematic doesn’t make it interesting, though.  I think really nailing down the characters’ personalities and determining what mannerisms and behaviors they tend toward would be helpful.  What impact do their personalities have on how they describe things or how many words they bother to use at once? How does that change when they’re in public vs. private, stressed vs. at ease, etc.

I don’t have enough sense of the MCs’ personalities to feel really attached to them at this point.  Especially when the things that I did latch on to didn’t seem to be consistent later on.  As someone who really likes character driven stories, not getting to know those characters makes it really tough for me to get invested in what they’re doing. And as someone who likes interesting world-building, I saw some details that seemed interesting, but they were introduced too quickly and without enough foundation for me to figure out how anything fit together.  I think you tried to add in too many things at once without making sure that the underlying details of what we really need to know were solid.  You brought in a lot of wider world details (P, the medallion background, lots of cities and titles that we don’t know anything about yet), without explaining the more immediate concerns (the battle with R) more clearly.

I want to know more about the sword magic, especially, and about a few other world-building things as well, but it’s hard to create worlds from scratch, and its even harder to clearly explain them to others when some important underlying details aren’t necessarily relevant to the immediate conflict.  I think it can be helpful to deal with it a scene at a time, or a conversation at a time, and figure out what world-knowledge is needed within just those lines.  Once you have a clearer understanding of the absolute necessities, then you can find places where there might be room to add in important but less relevant details without bogging down the reader.

Hope some of those thoughts are helpful!  Thanks for sharing, and good luck!

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Overall

I had a few key issues with this. The first few are pretty standard - not having character buy-in so not caring if our lead lives or dies. Not understanding or being vested in the stakes so not caring about the battle. My biggest complaint is how our lead speaks to A. It's clearly gendered, the way he interacts with her. As an exercise, you might change A to a man and keep the dialogue the same, and see how it sounds to you--I suspect it will make your lead sound gay, potentially also patronizing. Still, these are all pretty simple fixes and I think a few more rounds of editing might clear them right up.

20 hours ago, sniperfrog said:
Combat is a place that I am looking to improve. Let me know if things are too hectic or hard to follow. I want there to be brutal fighting, so I am trying to convey that. 
 
My tone could also use some work. Let me know what sort of vibes you guys get off the tone here, so I can make adjustments accordingly. 
 
Dialogue is hard, and I am really bad at it. I have made several changes to dialogue in this section, but I'm still unsure of myself. Let me know how the dialogue flows here and if it feels natural.
 
Last is Ch's Blade, V. I want to know how you feel about his interactions with the Blade and whether or not this works the way I want it to. Blades are not meant to be living entities (i.e. Shardblades), but they do have a bit of sentience in them. Like a more abstract personality.

Combat - As I did not have investment in the world stakes or our lead character, all the combat was just white noise to me. I skimmed, mostly. You can get away with very little combat writing if the reader cares about the world and the characters, so I'd recommend working on those, not the actual fighting

Tone - I don't get a strong voice anywhere. You could try modeling the characters after real life people and copy how those people speak. That might help them define more. Also I did not like how A was spoken to, and have discussed that in other places.

Dialogue  -yeah, it got over the top in places. I'd suggest reading the text out loud to yourself. If you sound like a Marvel movie, you're going in the wrong direction

Blade -  I don't care about the blade because I don't care about the character. Once I care about the character, I will likely care more about his weaponry.

 

As I go

- pg 1: did you intend for us to get a Christian vibe early on with the crucifixions?

- pg 1: had been a pitiful wretch <-- this really struck me the wrong way. I know the narrator then says he was the same, but it just...it reads more like male gaze though I can't put my finger on why. It seems infantilizing I think, and superior, especially if he was the same. It doesn't get better with the next paragraph. It still comes out like she was this poor pathetic thing that he deigned to give a chance to and she rose above her station despite her background

- pg 3: Now where did A get to? <-- This is still giving me that same vibe, above. Is she his pet? His child? Does he actually trust her to handle things as his second? If so, why berate her, even mentally?

- pg 5: so at this stage I'm bouncing pretty hard off our lead, and the battle with the woman didn't have any real tension for me because A) I don't care about the lead and B.) I'm confused as to the stakes and goals

- pg 8: will not be cowed. If you want me then come get me. I’ll skewer ... <-- this is very melodramatic. I laughed

- pg 9: the dude posturing through here is continuing to make me laugh, and occasionally roll my eyes

- pg 10: going into this battle, I still don't care about our major players and the stakes for why they are fighting are dim at best for me. So I have no investment in the battle

- pg 12: What would I do without you<--- not have a nursemaid, I feel like. 

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Answering your questions:

Combat: Good news is I do think it's mostly clear what's going on. Less good news is that I didn't fully get the "brutal" vibe that the story was after. For me, a lot of how a fight comes off has to do with the framing and atmosphere. The actual motions of battle usually aren't that interesting since they feel more like a series of actions than a story. If the battles want to be gritty, I think that needs to start with the tone and non-combat details (not gore, necessarily, but moments that convey something like grit). Bad news is those kinds of fights aren't the ones I write or read much of, so I don't really know how to build that kind of atmosphere. One more observation is that the story leans a lot on adverbs in the fight scenes. These are usually places where the story recognizes that it needs something more and uses an adverb as a band-aid solution when it really needs more characterization/atmosphere setting/imagery ect. Maybe try removing the adverbs, seeing what's missing, and trying to explore what can fill that hole. 

Dialogue: I think the dialogue is serviceable with potential for improvement. First note is to watch for is when dialogue is primarily expository (such as listing titles). This will almost always fall flat and if it needs to be told to us outright getting it internally is often better (though this should be limited too). Second point: you know how I said the fight scenes try to band-aid holes with adverbs? The dialogue does that with exclamation points. If a line needs the extra oomph of an exclamation point, that (usually) means the words themselves aren't strong enough. It might help to try forcing characters to convey conviction using word choice alone and avoiding all exclamation points until you feel comfortable doing so. This sort of ties into my third point. My general rule for dialogue is that if I can imagine any other character in the story saying the same line in same situation as the character speaking, it's not specific enough. Each line should feel like it comes from the character first and conveys info second. It's a lofty goal and one that I certainly don't always achieve, but it keeps me pointed in the right direction. 

Sword: I'm going to be blunt here and say that I didn't notice them all too much. Have you read Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson (given that you're on these forums I figure it's a decent chance)? One aspect of that book is that the blade whose name I'm forgetting has a loud personality with how they want to kill evil, much more so than most of the human characters. The same is true for the ship from Skyward that I'm also forgetting the name of. An object come to life often needs to have a larger personality to stand out since they can't rely on the subtlety of human cues. Plus if they're not super weird you could probably get the same effect with a human companion instead, so living objects often gravitate towards the wacky. You'll have to decide if this conflicts too much with the brutality you want to have for the fight scenes. Oh, and calling the blade an "it" makes me less interested in them as an entity since the story isn't gracing them with personhood status. 

General comments:

On 1/4/2021 at 2:53 PM, kais said:

not having character buy-in so not caring if our lead lives or dies

This was my response as well, harsh as it might seem. For me, this is usually a sign that I don't know enough about the character's motivations and the history that shapes those motivations. We're here to read a story about a person, not watch blades go swinging everywhere. Well, at least I am. :) So what is C after? What does he really want? What's precious to him that could be taken away? And how did he get there? We don't need all the answers in the first couple of chapters, but I think we do need hints. I think we get more about A than we do about him. 

On 1/4/2021 at 2:53 PM, kais said:

My biggest complaint is how our lead speaks to A. It's clearly gendered, the way he interacts with her.

Yeah I noticed this too. Didn't make me put the story down or anything but could use a clean-up. 

Best of luck revising and moving forward with the story!  

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Super short- because I only read the first paragraph and then a few other random bits. (To see if things settled down.)

It was just too much violence for my personal taste. In my job, I hear and see all sorts of horrible things and I have to kind of protect myself in my days off from unpleasant things. 

so this was not something I could read.

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I think the others have caught pretty much everything I did, and probably said it better. My general impression is also that the story is serviceable, but not particularly interesting. I don't have character buy in for C, and honestly A seems to be more interesting. That leads into some of the gendered remarks the others have, but we also get some slight backstory for her, and the assassin is actually after her, so that's much more interesting that two random dudes comparing...er...swords.

On 1/4/2021 at 9:41 AM, Robinski said:

- The name Cha gives me a strong association with Charon, who rows should across the River Styx to the underworld.

Also had this connotation all through the chapter, to the point of being a little distracting.

Dialogue: @Robinski gives a lot of good tips for this. Right now I wouldn't say it's bad, but it's just not interesting. Make the characters say unexpected things. Keep the reader's interest with cool inside jokes, or personality traits expressed through dialogue. Don't go overboard, but also don't have the dialogue be an exercise in vocal description.

Combat: I actually thought this was pretty good. If your intent is short, brutal, combat, I think this achieved that pretty well. Even the big fight at the end didn't take up more than a half-page or so, and reflects "real life" a lot better, I think.

The Sword: It was fine? I noticed it seemed to have some intellect, though not a vocal one. If that's what you're going for, fine. I think the problem is, like the rest of the chapter, it's just not that interesting. There's a personality of sorts in the blade, but it's pretty light, and doesn't make much of an impact on the reader.

 

Notes while reading:

pg 1: C's name is suspiciously close to the boatman of the river styx...

pg 1: "the hapless victims"
--not sure what this is referring to--the villagers? It doesn't say previously that all the villagers were killed, so this is a bit confusing.

pg 1: "She was not wrong"
--probably can cut stuff like this. It's apparent in the next sentence.

pg 1: "“I will have" and  "the boys" is a bit contradictory. A seems to not use contractions, but "the boys" is fairly casual.

pg 1: "the two had met"
--meaning C and A? Might say "the day he had met her the first time."

pg 2: the assassin isn't particularly good at being stealthy, is she?

pg 2: "took one look and rolled from the back of his horse and he felt the wind of the passing blade as it sank deep into the saddle."
--this sentence is particularly awkward and drags the tension of the combat down.

pg 3: "but the blow was far too strong."
--a lot of the wording in here makes it clear that the assassin is no threat, so I don't feel tense for C's safety at all.

pg 3: "The assassin’s corpse fell to the ground"
--huh. Yeah, that was anticlimactic.

pg 3: "rolled her over and studied her face, she was not familiar to him"
--I've seen this several times so far, so I'm noting it. This is not one sentence. This is two sentences and needs to be separated by a period or maybe a semicolon.

pg 3: "A clue, perhaps?"
--A clue to what? Is C investigating something with assassins? It's certainly an identifier, so to state that it's a "clue" seems unnecessary.

pg 3: "He stood slowly..."
--this sentence is a run-on.

pg 4: "the few villagers left alive"
--wait, I though the three burned corpses were all that were left?

pg 4: "made the fury burn stronger"
--You're telling an emotion, and then showing it by him gripping the sword's hilt. You could cut out the first part of this sentence.

pg 5: "I lost my horse back there, I’ll need another"
--wait, what? First, I thought the assassin only hit the saddle. Nothing was said of the horse getting killed. Second, horses aren't just like disposable bicycles. How many extra does a small group like this have with them?

pg 6: "The viper that strikes from the shadows and vanishes moments after.”
--I feel like the assassin should have been more threatening, with all this buildup...

pg 7: "knew he couldn’t say the words"
--why not? I don't think we know enough about the characters yet to figure that out.

pg 8: "He had no time to don the rest of his kit before ducking from the tent."
--how's that nasty side wound feeling now?
--ah, it is mentioned a couple paragraphs later.

pg 9: “He lost the right to be called my father"
--well, that's interesting...

pg 10: "he knows about it, I’m sure.” 
--he's already commented that C is wounded.

pg 12: Well, that is definitely short and brutal combat...

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Thanks for another sub!

As far as tone goes, I didn’t have any issues with it – it certainly seemed like a very modern tone but there is precedent for it in otherwise medieval-esque fantasies and it seemed consistent. Dialogue I think I’ve addressed in my “as I read” comments below.

My biggest issue with the combat is actually an issue with the sub overall: it lacked tension. For one thing, C seems pretty competent, so his safety never seemed truly in question; for another, I don’t have a real good sense of the characters or the stakes. There are two sides fighting, but why? Who am I supposed to feel sympathy towards? What happens if one side loses? I really don’t have a good sense of why what’s shown on the screen matters. Even the apparent conflict between C and his father isn’t all that interesting, because C says some things about it, but I so far don’t have the sense that he’s particularly emotionally invested in that conflict. The thing that has most kept me engaged so far is the C/A relationship – it seems to be something that C and A both believe in pretty strongly and I get the sense that there’s an interesting story behind it, so I’m interested to know more.

As I read:

AH seems like a very modern name. Which is fine, except that it’s at odds with the other names we’ve seen so far (C and his sword).

P1 “C gave a grunt of ascent” should be “assent.” Spellcheck won’t catch this one.

Okay, since you asked about dialogue, I think one of the things to consider is how modern you want your dialogue to sound. In the first couple of paragraphs here, A’s dialogue sounds fairly modern, but she’s not using contractions at all, which fantasy often uses to signify a more formal/archaic setting.

Another thing to look out for is unnecessary dialogue tags. Especially like in this first scene, where you only have two people talking, you probably don’t need as many of them as you think you do.

P2 “...when killing needed done” should be “doing”

“...blade sank deeply into the saddle” so what is the horse doing? Details like this can make the combat feel more believable and potentially add to the tension.

P3: at the very top of p3 C seems to be trying not to kill the assassin, but a paragraph later he casually beheads her. While the narrative notes that this attack was fiercer than the first one, I haven’t gotten the impression at any point that C is in particular danger, as he’s being presented as a fairly powerful character, so this is a surprising about-face.

The phrase “one of the boys” is being used an awful lot. I’d imagine people would be using ranks/positions etc as well.

P5 “I lost my horse back there…” not making any attempt to recover it? This suggests that this group is VERY well supplied, which is not the impression I’d gotten to this point.

P6 here’s “The boys” again. This definitely seems to be a military situation, and while there certainly might be a level of informality in day-to-day operations I have a hard time imagining quite this much.

Re: the medallion and reveal: why did C wait until the scouts were back to have this conversation? If A is his closest confidant, wouldn’t he have asked her about the medallion much sooner?

“You don’t know what you’re dealing with…” I’d be more willing to believe this if C hadn’t dispatched the first assassin with such ease. For that matter, if the assassin wasn’t for C, why didn’t she just run instead of engaging with someone who was clearly not her target?

“He knew he couldn’t say the words.” Why not? A says it immediately after.

Okay, so eight pages in, we’re engaged in combat with this other military group now, and I have no idea who they are or why they matter. This far in, I really should.

“...so he began shouting orders” All indications still point to C’s outfit being a military organization, in which case, surely there would have been other officers about giving orders. If not, and the organizing attacking them is military at all, this would become a rout real quick.

“Three blows.” Why three, specifically? If this isn’t some sort of magical thing then this makes no sense to me.

“ripping the flesh ever wider” this seems like a very detached way to describe something that must be extremely painful.

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Overall, I like this as the start much better than the other subbed chapters. I thought the writing was much easier to follow, and I got a better sense of the world/characters. And it doesn't seem as tropey. That being said, it could still use some improvements, especially with the characters and buy-in as others have noted. Also, I didn't mind the use of "the boys" but it was noticable by the end. Maybe try a few other words to mix things up a bit. 

Combat was good. Kept it short but interesting. Also very brutal. I don't really have any comments on the sword. Seems like a standard magic sword. 

 

Ok, first off, I’m impressed by the worldbuilding I saw in the other document, seems very interesting. Okay, opening the doc now.

Pg 1 This opening quote is interesting…this person has experienced death multiple times huh

Is this like a marvel-style location tag? Hmmmm that’s interesting

One paragraph in, I’m liking the writing a lot better than the other version

“reassuringly as AH” I read this as anne Hathaway the first time

“do you think its r?” she asked  -I don’t think She needs to be capitalized

“grunt of assent, it” I think the sentence should end after “ascent” imo

Pg 2 A lot of these sentences have an odd structure, it seems. It’s hard to put my finger on it, but it seems like some of these commas are unnecessary.

“she had a way with people” yes, this is definitely a run-on sentence

“something shaped like a man” Oooooh. Monster hunting time

“the figure” I think this paragraph could be broken into several smaller ones

“the figure (third paragraph), a woman…” I think this thought should be separated by em dashes. “the figure—a woman C realized—”

Pg 3 so two people are fighting and believe me, I love a good fight scene, but like, why are they fighting? And who should I be rooting for? I think I need just a bit more buy-in for C.

“who are you” my question as well

And now she is dead. I liked the description of the fighting a lot, but it was very quick and I don’t know if she is just incompetent if if its form the swords power. Much improved from the last one, tho.

“c rolled her over and…” this should be two sentences

Oh, here’s the spit thing again. A little less weird this time, with the explanation, but still…

Pg 4 there’s a lot of names of places and people and I can’t really follow them all

Pg 5 I like the description of the pain, well done

shouldn’t he favor his nonwounded side?

Wait, when did he lose his horse? I guess I also lost it…

Pg6 so who are they going to fight, and why should I care? I still don’t really have much buy-in

Pg 7 “not f*ing around” oh, heh that caught me by surprise. I think this is the first real swear

I think I would also care about the BG more if I cared more about the relationship between C and A. This scene is good, but I want more. Why do I want these characters to be happy? What is their dynamic together?

Pg 8 Yeah, not a smart decision to fight while wounded. Unless the sword has healing powers or something

“head on a pike” nice and dramatic. Definitely a grimdark

Pg 9 more spitting

R keeps on calling him young, but how young is he? I’m imagining a middle-aged man, since he’s been calling the soldiers “boys”

Pg 10 “he knows about” and we know that he knows about it, so I don’t think she needs to say this

Pg 11 I like that he knows his limits. Puts a nice touch of intensity/stakes to this battle

Ripping the flesh” oof that made me cringe

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Posted (edited)

I'm coming in a bit late, but jumping in:

Combat: The scenes were very clear, but felt a little flat to me. I think part of the issue might have been wanting more sensory information. The descriptions seemed to cover what happens, pain, reactions and that's mostly it. Some other senses (per writing excuses advice) might be a good boost.

The horse: I was wondering what happened to C's horse when he demanded a new one. Agreed that horses are a valuable commodity. ("My Kingdom for a horse!")

The narrative clips along at a good pace for me, but I did get a bit bogged down in several wordy sentences and repeated he/his sentence starts in a row.

"I was part of a cell" This feels like a modern usage of this word. Cell in this time period (I'm assuming based on horses and swords) meant a small room. 

On 1/4/2021 at 6:41 AM, Robinski said:

 

- "as she began to go at it with her needle and thread" - NOOOOOOO!! I don't need to evoke my medical adviser this time (I expect @Sarah B may have something to say, though). The wound has to be cleaned. What if there's dirt or other foreign matter in it, a bit of cloth, anything could cause an infection: go directly to the graveyard, do not pass go. These are the little details that we need to get right or readers will not trust the author to tell the rest of the story.

Yes, I do:

The wound: I was not clear on exactly where C's slash wound was, or how deep. Since A mentions that it missed the organs, I'm going to assume it went through full thickness of skin and into fat and muscle, possibly nicking his ribs. If I'm wrong and it's not that deep or very long, some of my comments bellow are irrelevant, sorry. 

Placing stitches: First, yes, absolutely you must clean the wound. Even the booze they keep drinking would be better than nothing, even though it would not feel great. Rinsing a wound with clean water would help shed the debris, especially if its bleeding. Mentioning a needle and thread makes me imagine A is getting out a regular sewing needle and cotton or wool thread. She would need a hooked needle to puncture down and then turn back up out the other side. Its tricky and slippery work, she would need easy access, and probably to have him lay down to do a decent job of this. The thread would need to be coated, hopefully at least waxed, to pass through easily without leaving fibers in the wound given the materials at hand IMO. If I was stitching someone's side and they kept talking (moving target), they would end up with some extra holes and some pretty crooked stitches. But a combat medic I am not. 

"The needle tugged." Great detail here.

Dressing: binding a wound with a poultice would be time period appropriate I think. At least covering it to keep the dirt and grime out would help.

The stitches popping: I'm glad you mention them coming loose, my only critique is that with how much he is reaching and moving around, they would have popped much sooner.

For an experiment, you might put peices of scotch tape/cheap clear tape in a long row along where C is suposed to be injured and then try moving around. Any time you feel the tape pull, that's pain and bleeding. If it peels off, you've torn the skin around the stitch. Even walking or taking deep breaths would be a problem, depending on their location. Long slice wounds heal nicely if left alone, but tend to split back open when given the chance. 

I liked how you anchored the world right away with descriptions of the scenery. 

The sword commentary was fine for me, it makes me wonder what it would be like in a fight between two wielders of that kind of sword.

Thanks for sharing!

Edited by Sarah B
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Here I come, slow as a slug.

You told me three things that you are less than stellar at in your email/intro, and for that I ask you tell me three things you are proud that you are good at. Otherwise, I will choose three things I admire. The point it, shore up any weaknesses you see, but don't also become your worst critic. I don't know you well yet and I'm not sure if you're one of those people who always tears themselves down or is just critical. 

Thoughts as I go:

Pg 1, "Death is always cold..." Unless you burn to death ;)

Pg 1, "It appeared that he was getting closer." To what, I wonder?

Pg 1, "And burning people alive." I am seriously loving the contrast between the burning people and the cold quote in the beginning. 

Pg 2, " putting his heels to his mount’s flanks to follow." Hello. I am your new Horse Friend. I am here to educate you, just like I've done to poor @kais in the past.

DO NOT KICK A HORSE IN THE FLANKS. I'm grimacing in sympathy for that horse as I write this. Kicking a horse in the flank is like elbowing someone in the kidneys. Your horse would throw you so fast. 

A horse's flanks are here:

Spoiler

5ffb7116c7f2b_horseflanks.thumb.jpg.1d9d63f75c1ee9a922c7f0a54d12978a.jpg

The flanks are after the end of the ribcage, so there is no protection to a horse's guts. See the lack of bones protecting a horse's intestines in this skeleton?

Spoiler

Skeletal system of the horse - Wikipedia

So poor C's horse is currently having one hell of a bad day. I would switch this out for " putting his heels to his mount’s barrel to follow."

Pg 2, " wind of the passing blade as it sank deep into the saddle." Oi! Rude! Saddles are expensive. Better the saddle than the horse's legs, though. Must be one hell of a sharp sword. Saddles are made of layers of leather bolted and sewn onto a wooden tree.

Pg 2, "yanked her blade from the saddle" Lucky the horse didn't take off with it! 

Pg 2, "The assassin’s corpse" Where'd the horse go, though? 

Pg 3, "giving the leather strip a tug, snapping it from the corpse’s neck." I've always wondered if this is actually possible or if it is just Hollywood, but I don't have the life experience to say. 

Pg 3, "his horse had run loose during the short fight" Of course it had run loose? Give a horse control of the reins when it's terrified and your horse will be long gone. He's lucky the horse isn't out of sight, being the flight animals they are. I mean, shoot, we should be amazed the horse didn't kick out at anyone when it decided to leave the fight.

If he had known he was heading to an assassin, probably could have chosen a better strategy. Which says something about his character, that he underestimated her and got injured. 

Pg 5, "I lost my horse back there, I’ll need another." Expensive cost, but costs don't matter as much when you're in charge, eh?

Pg 9, "He spit on the ground in emphasis" So much spitting. 

Pg 11, "He could feel the slick of blood" Can V only protect C from pain for a short period of time? Why is it not having the same affect as earlier?

Pg 11, "His side exploded in pain" Never you mind, it was. Just not enough by far.

 

Overall:

I'm curious to see where you take this. 

Combat: Fast, descriptive, gorey, which is excellent. Lacks tension right now because I haven't become emotionally invested in C and I feel the Protagonist Plot Armor, so I am not quite drawn into it yet. I have little doubt that once you get us emotionally invested in your story/characters, the combat is going to be brutal. 

Tone: Tone could be quickly boosted by giving C some more character and emotion. Working on voice will do a lot for this piece. 

Dialogue: Dialogue can be improved with practice, so I'm not too concerned here. While the dialogue didn't necessarily draw me in, it also didn't boot me out of the story. I kind of just slid through the dialogue like I did the rest of the story, not of it horrendous and drawing me to a halt, but not sucking me in either. Thankfully, that's fixable. 

Sword: I'm curious to find out how rare these swords are and how they are made.

I think what is throwing me off the most is that C is apparently young. Through his interactions with A, he sounded like a traditional man, edging maybe on father-figure. Yet, he also went quite recklessly after the assassin and let her harm him seriously. I'm having a hard time getting a grasp on his character, which makes it difficult for me to emotionally connect with him. 

For all the amount of information that is introduced, I never particularly felt overwhelmed, even if I'm not sure who the FoS are and what 100% is happening in this world.

A is currently my favorite character. I like go-getters. 

On 1/6/2021 at 10:33 AM, Mandamon said:

 

On 1/4/2021 at 6:41 AM, Robinski said:

- The name Cha gives me a strong association with Charon, who rows should across the River Styx to the underworld.

Also had this connotation all through the chapter, to the point of being a little distracting.

I also felt this, but I thought it was just my years of Latin tugging at me. 

On 1/6/2021 at 3:10 PM, Silk said:

My biggest issue with the combat is actually an issue with the sub overall: it lacked tension. For one thing, C seems pretty competent, so his safety never seemed truly in question; for another, I don’t have a real good sense of the characters or the stakes. There are two sides fighting, but why? Who am I supposed to feel sympathy towards? What happens if one side loses? I really don’t have a good sense of why what’s shown on the screen matters. Even the apparent conflict between C and his father isn’t all that interesting, because C says some things about it, but I so far don’t have the sense that he’s particularly emotionally invested in that conflict. The thing that has most kept me engaged so far is the C/A relationship – it seems to be something that C and A both believe in pretty strongly and I get the sense that there’s an interesting story behind it, so I’m interested to know more.

I'm going to echo Silk here. I felt like I was just following through the motions instead of being pulled in. There's this emotional distance that I'm struggling with. 

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On 1/3/2021 at 6:44 PM, sniperfrog said:
Combat is a place that I am looking to improve. Let me know if things are too hectic or hard to follow. I want there to be brutal fighting, so I am trying to convey that. 
 

The combat scenes went pretty quick, and I never doubted whether or not C would win, even when he was wounded. 

The first fight seemed very easy to the point where I also felt bad for assassin. Yes, C got inured, but he hardly seemed to notice. 

The second fight did have higher stakes, and C was wounded, but for some reason, even when he when the enemy was hurting him bad, I still knew C was going to be victorious and therefore was not in any suspense. 

On 1/3/2021 at 6:44 PM, sniperfrog said:
My tone could also use some work. Let me know what sort of vibes you guys get off the tone here, so I can make adjustments accordingly. 
 

The tone wasn't my favorite, though that might have more to do with personal preferences than flaws in your writing. It felt a little distant and numb. It did sound like what I expect from a certain kind of high fantasy, but it's also a tone that turns me away from books.  

I didn't really like the main character. And that doesn't mean you did a bad job with him. Not every reader is going to like every character. To me, he seemed like an arrogant middle-aged man. He seemed well meaning, but he wasn't an mc I found myself caring about. He seemed kind of cold. Maybe a little sexist (I'll get more into this in my 'as I read' notes). You did a good job creating a distinct voice and personalty for him. 

On 1/3/2021 at 6:44 PM, sniperfrog said:
Dialogue is hard, and I am really bad at it. I have made several changes to dialogue in this section, but I'm still unsure of myself. Let me know how the dialogue flows here and if it feels natural.
 

I have mixed feelings about the dialogue. 

There was one place in the begining where it seemed like A was just telling him things and he wasn't responding much, and then she left. Otherwise, the conversations seemed very formal and maybe stilted, but that seemed appropriate for the character you created. For the most part, he talked and conversed exactly how I expected him too. 

On 1/3/2021 at 6:44 PM, sniperfrog said:
Last is Ch's Blade, V. I want to know how you feel about his interactions with the Blade and whether or not this works the way I want it to. Blades are not meant to be living entities (i.e. Shardblades), but they do have a bit of sentience in them. Like a more abstract personality.
 

The blade was my favorite part. I liked his interaction with it, and how he was pretty in tune with what it wanted, and had the control to not always do what it wanted. I'm looking forward to seeing the blade develop more as a character as the story progresses. 

 

This world doesn't seem familiar to me. I don't I read your other submissions. There had been a couple months where I stepped away from the group because work was so busy. 

As I read:

The opening seems kind of classic for the genre, but it did hook me. I want to know who hurt these people and I'm looking forward to seeing them brought to justice." 

"She had a way with people..." I feel like we got way too much info about A dumped way too quickly. I  don't need to know all of this right now. 

"V could sense his mood..." Yay for sentient or semi-sentient swords! 

"...where did A get to..." As I mentioned above, this fight didn't really have a lot of tension for me. I thought the assassin didn't really stand a chance. 

"...with her needle and thread..." So did she just start stitching without really cleaning it? How did she know it didn't hit anything important? Are they going to do anything to prevent infection? 

"..winced as she began to go at it..." So they're just hanging around casually chatting while she stitches him up? I don't recall where they are. Is he sitting or standing? If you said this and I just missed it, then ignore this comment. 

"We'll need more men..." Why not women? When we met A, I had assumed this was going to be more of a co-ed army, but it seems like A is actually the only woman there, which is  disappointing. 

"...see that it is taken care of..." In the begining, he seemed to treat A like a peer, but now he is talking to her like she is way below him and she is his servant, not his second.

"She poured him another glass..." again, this is making her look more like a servant. Someone further below him than his second in command. It's not only the pouring, but the balance in the dialogue too. 

"...youngest leader..." I did not picture him young at all. 

The last fight was a little more tense than the first, but I also didn't doubt the C's ability to win. He admitted he was at a disadvantage, but something about him still seemed very sure of himself. Maybe it is because of how distant the narration style is. 

The main tension seemed resolved at the end. The guy who burned the village is dead. This doesn't entice me to turn to the next chapter because the plot is resolved. 

The subplot about the person sent to kill A is still there, but that seemed very secondary, especially since he kind of treats her like a servant later on. If that is actually going to be the plot, maybe it should take more precedence, and if it is the main thing, what was the point of all the other stuff? Maybe if I'd read the other chapters, it would make more sense. If this is novel is multiple POVs, I think these chapters would work better if they were not the first ones in the book.

One thing you did well was with the world building. Sometimes in fantasy novels, it can be overwhelming, but it wasn't with yours. You had just enough to ground me in the world, but not so much that it bogged down the plot. It was good balance of action, world building and dialogue. 

 

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Hey everyone. Thanks for taking the time to read and critique my sub. As always, your feedback is super helpful. I have given it a few days to sink in and I think that, while I still have a lot of things to improve upon, this is the best piece I have written so far. Ch's character is close, but needs some tweaking with his interactions and dialogue. 

On 1/6/2021 at 6:10 PM, Silk said:

My biggest issue with the combat is actually an issue with the sub overall: it lacked tension

This. This is something that several of you mentioned that I feel is really important and I have missed here for sure. The stakes are not clear and so the scene lacks the tension that I want to create. I have trouble with giving the reader enough knowledge to give the stakes more weight and I am going to work on this some more. 

On 1/4/2021 at 9:41 AM, Robinski said:

In summary, I think there are issue with the story. I don't think think the plot elements hold together under much scrutiny, and I'm not involved enough with the characters to be enthusiastically reading on. Sorry to be negative, and I wish you the best with it.

I want to highlight that this is not negative. It signifies that the plot is not coming across convincingly and it is not working the way it is meant. This sort of comment is the type that helps me the most. Thank you for being completely honest and not sugarcoating it for me. I really want to tell this story right and comments like this are what open my eyes to the types of changes I need to make for that to happen. 

On 1/10/2021 at 5:18 PM, Snakenaps said:

I have little doubt that once you get us emotionally invested in your story/characters, the combat is going to be brutal

I am agreeing with this sentiment more and more as I look back at the combat scenes I have written so far. This goes back to some of the things mentioned above. 

On 1/4/2021 at 9:41 AM, Robinski said:

NOOOOOOO!! I don't need to evoke my medical adviser this time (I expect @Sarah B may have something to say, though)

On 1/4/2021 at 2:06 PM, C_Vallion said:

The military/battle mechanics seem off through this section, but I don’t know enough to call out specifics.

On 1/10/2021 at 5:18 PM, Snakenaps said:

DO NOT KICK A HORSE IN THE FLANKS. I'm grimacing in sympathy for that horse as I write this. Kicking a horse in the flank is like elbowing someone in the kidneys. Your horse would throw you so fast.

So this highlights my lack of education in some critical areas. It is obvious I need to do a little more research on some of these things. Thanks @Snakenaps and @Sarah B for the impromptu lessons here. There were a lot of comments about gender roles and stuff as well, particularly in regard to Ch and An's interactions and I think that it is definitely something that needs worked on. 

On 1/6/2021 at 11:39 AM, Valerie said:

so this was not something I could read.

I really appreciate you giving it a shot! 

 

Overall, I think that your comments will be really helpful for me. There are definitely some things that need to be worked on, but I really like what I have so far. I have been making some changes to the plot and characters and I feel things are really coming together. Thanks again for being so supportive and helpful. :) 

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, sniperfrog said:

this is the best piece I have written so far.

Dude, slap yourself on the back and treat yourself to ice cream. Then save this somewhere really safe so you can look back at this in 10 years and see how far you've grown. 

But, seriously, celebrate your successes. 

1 hour ago, sniperfrog said:

So this highlights my lack of education in some critical areas.

That's what beta readers are for: to catch stuff in our expertise. I forget who, but somebody nailed me on sailboating way back in Chapter...nine? And I know @kais got after me about making the incorrect assumption that iron is stronger than wood in general. That was Chapter Eleven, I thing. 

PM me if you ever need horse info :P 

Good job, my friend! 

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