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7.14.14 - Endurant Archivist - Resistance

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There's plenty of variety in the action, which is good, and I like that there are conflicts within Paul's side as well as an external enemy.


The problem I had was not knowing how any of it looked. I couldn't find much indication of how these people look. Is this a high medieval-style setting? Hairy barbarians in the wilderness? Uniformed soldiers in a more modern style? I couldn't tell at all, which meant I couldn't picture it in my mind, and by a couple of pages in that was a problem. Same with the characters - how are they each visually distinct?


I also found the presence of a single pistol confusing. Up until it's mentioned all the fighting seems to be pre-gunpowder, then that appears and so I adjust my view of things, then there's no more reference to firearms for the rest of the scene making me almost wonder if I'd imagined it. If this is the only firearm there then does that mean it's something unusual? If so then it's dealt with very casually.


There's a web-based game called A Dark Room (and if you haven't seen it I recommend giving it a go). In that you're given very little information about the setting, its tech level, how things look, and what you can do at the start. As things appear in the game they're often a big surprise, but that's fine because the game is (I think) deliberately trying to jolt you out of the narrative and surprise you. But it's an approach that seldom works in stories, where you're trying to create immersion in the world.

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I didn't have as much problem with lack of description, but I do agree with andyk's point.  I had more problems with general sentence structure.


pg 1: "He swept the spear aside, stepping towards the other man, head butting him, using his helm to make the force of the impact."

--awkward sentence.  You've got mixed tenses in there.  In fact, the first few sentences all have the same form:

 person does something, makes a motion, description of an event, another event

They get a little hard to read



pg 3 and 4: repeated use of "waived" instead of "waved"


pg 1 and 6: it's instead of its


You also have lots of run-on sentences, all throughout

"They looked back to the captain who’s face was contorted as the chest plate came off. He pulled up his shirt and his side was already turning red and swelling, it looked like some of his ribs could be broken."

"Paul closed his eyes as he recognized the body, the man had won the prize from the year’s boar hunt."



This is an interesting start to the story--there's some good action to draw the reader in.  Just need some editing to clean up the sentence structure.  


if men and women always fight to survive, why did a whole attacking group surrender when their captain was captured?  It seemed like they were winning.


Following on andyk's point about the gun:

You might be getting to this later, but I was also a little confused about the matchup of the two sides.  Seems like Paul's side has swords and guns vs the Axians, who have spears and bows/arrows, and might be less armed.  I'll need a pretty good explanation why the Axians weren't quickly defeated by the longer range guns and better equipped men (not enough bullets?  overwhelming force?).  As I said, you might be getting there, but it was bugging me while reading.



Andyk:  I just started playing "A Dark Room" this weekend and really enjoy it.  Did you find out about it on Extra Credits?

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I enjoyed the tension between Paul and Bryth, I thought that was well handled, the man’s casual disrespect for his commanding officer (I presume), and Paul keeping his frustration inside so as not to weaken his command or affect the dynamic in the group with a confrontation.


I like that the ambush ended in the surrender of the Axians, that felt like a realistic outcome, although I don’t know anything (at that point) about the relative strengths of the sides, or the tactical situation.


I found a bit hard to accept that Bryth would show open disrespect to his commander in front of the men –and I include in that his lack of acknowledgment of Paul’s question on Page 5. He must know how important discipline in the ranks is.


There are some redundant words in there that could be left out to improve the flow and keep the pace of the action. I’ve highlighted a few instances in the detail comments below.


Overall, I enjoyed this prologue / introduction (?), and I would be interested to read more, in particular to find out the nature of the conflict with the Axians. The combination of swords and firearms is intriguing, so the technological position is also of interest.




Looking at the other comments, unusually, I didn’t have a problem with the lack of visual cues. I had an image of a forested location in my head, which did raise the issue I noted with the sunset. Otherwise, I did not have an issue with the lack of description of the characters. I think I formed a picture of Paul as a nondescript young man and Bryth as a bearded forty-something, maybe early fifties – kind of blank defaults, no doubt. The problem then arises if you have them looking different, and describe them later, when I have already formed my impression.


I would say there were multiple firearms, there’s mention of the Axians firing into the trees – or do you mean that they were firing bows? Like Andy, I was puzzled by the guns not playing any real part in the action when they are so superior to swords, and I’ve noted how they seem to be neglected later on.


I'm ‘guilty’ of sometimes using the same sentence structure, which Mandamon highlights, and I must say I think it’s okay. To me has a flow, one action follows another. I use it sometimes because it think it increases the pace, not giving the reader the chance to reset with a new sentence.


Just started ‘A Dark Room’ this very minute – that’s a real throw back! Interesting, but I want it to move faster, I want to talk to the stranger, and I am certainly not going out in the forest – I don’t know if I have a weapon or not.




Page 1 – ‘He nodded wordlessly to Jecob, who nodded back and then…’


Page 1 – ‘He yanked his pistol from its (its) holster on his side, shooting…’ - (It doesn’t matter where the holster is, does it?)


Page 2 – ‘...but bit his lips. Think you can only bight one lip at a time?


Page 2 – ‘He thought posting archers in the woods was stupid.’ – I wondered about Bryth thinking Paul’s tactics were ‘stupid’. I’m taken out of the story a little thinking that Bryth might have said ‘stupid’ to Paul, or is that Paul’s characterisation, did Bryth in fact say that he thought it was a ‘mistake’. Even if he said ‘stupid’, I just thought that Paul might be more likely to think of his own decision in terms of ‘mistake’ rather than ‘stupid’.


Page 3 – ‘...spears held in front of themselves.


Page 3 – ‘...began to set down their axes and spears.’ – What about the guns? There is reference to the Axians firing into the woods, which I presumed meant that they had guns. I think that could be clearer.


Page 4 – ‘...the distant sun, setting low in the east.’ – I'm picturing the action on a road in enclosed woodland – can Paul see the setting sun?


Page 4 – It’s good to hear their discussion about the tactical decision, but I'm assuming that Bryth accepted Paul’s orders beforehand without taking him aside to discuss their tactics for the ambush.


Page 5 – ‘...captain whos whose face


Page 5 – ‘How many of them are still alive?’ – Paul’s question seems to be ignored, it certainly isn’t acknowledged. Bryth comes across as a competent military man of some experience. I find a bit hard to accept that he would show open disrespect to his commander in front of the men – he must know how important discipline in the ranks is.

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@andyk got it! Even though not everyone agrees on the visuals, I think there's bits I can add that will help establish the world as seen by the characters. That'll help a variety of readers. I'm including more info on the pistol in this, which will be brought up in more detail. Not much more detail, because I want people wondering about it, but I'll expound a bit. Great thought.


@Mandamon I'll go to the style guide on this. I was putting it in past tense, then using gerunds to explain the action, piece by piece. I might be doing this incorrectly. In fact, I'm pretty sure I am (just did research). I'll rework these in the edit stage. Thanks.

Paul's perspective was focused on that the trap didn't work right. They still won, but it wasn't as clear that they would to Paul, till after.


@Robinski Bryth's lines will need slight work. He's put off that Paul is in charge with so little actual experience. But he follows orders. He shouldn't come across TOO snarky though. He likes Paul, but doesn't think he's proven himself yet and that he'll get them all killed, especially given what's coming. I'll see how I can word it better.

As far as your view of the world, it's very close to what I wanted to convey. Still a sprinkling of descriptive words could help sharpen the image. And the sun is visible from over the trees. I'll reword it.

Agreed on pacing. But technically, I think he's right. I switched tenses. I like the structure though, which I'll keep, to convey a whole thought and keep the reader focused.


Thanks guys, your thoughts are appreciated. I'll get you more this upcoming week. 

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(Tangent, but...)


Re A Dark Room:


Mandamon - Yes, I saw it on Extra Credits. I'm not a big computer gamer, but I find the show has a lot of useful lessons for writers because of the way it explores a different sort of storytelling and creative industry. Sometimes the lessons are direct, sometimes they're me going away and making comparisons, but listening to smart people talk about their art never feels like a waste of time. Based on that episode I also tried Candy Box, but I prefer A Dark Room.


Robinski: The game does stay slow a lot of the time, and can be frustrating, but once you go out into the forest it's interesting to see how it unfolds.

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(more tangent...)


I also watch Extra Credits for the mechanics aspect, though I do play a fair bit of games.  There's a lot of useful stuff.

If you haven't tried the third one they mentioned--Frog Fractions--it's also really fun.  Takes about 2 hours to play through and it's very humorous, especially if you're familiar with old-style games.

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Of course, once you've collected enough tangents, you're back where you started...


I'll give Dark Room another go - I was playing from my own risk-averse mindset, as opposed to in my alter ego, Buck Dangerquest.

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