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Jan 2 2012 – Asmodemon – Maiden of Thorns Chapter 7


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Hello everyone,

And a happy new year. I’m starting the year with another chapter for Maiden of Thorns. After a hiatus filled with China, NaNoWriMo and a busy December to top the year off, it feels good to submit again. The critiques I’ve gotten have really helped me in sharpening the previous chapters.

In this chapter we continue to follow Dais after his escape from a group of suspected imperial sappers.

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Apologies if anything I say is unclear/downright weird, I have the flu and everything's a bit muddled. This is why I'm reading stories, not revising for my exam (FML). Anyway, crit!

"She'd done so instinctively..." at first, I got confused as to what the girl had done; this may be because you used a new paragraph. Or it may just be the flu talking ;)

Even though I haven't read the previous chapters of your work, I'm really interested in the characters- I feel like I know their personalities already! Good job.

"Bands of thugs sprang up like wildfire here and it wouldn't do to get caught by them at all" to me, the "at all" attatched onto the end sounds a little clunky. Maybe shift it to the middle of the sentence and see how it sounds?

"...flower basins and terraces lined the square..." Not sure you need to tell us it's the square again, we already know; it could just be replaced with "it".

"the woman... turned from stirring the great kettle..." I directly interpreted it as; I am stirring the kettle itself around on the ground. "Contents of the kettle" perhaps? XD

"This city is going to the fields of decay faster than an untended field," sounds a little clunky for the repetition of "field".

"I think the lady is near her cot." You forgot the ending speech marks here ;)

All in all very nice though! Can't wait to read more :)

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It's better then it was, that's for sure.

The story, while interesting, suffers greatly from missed opportunities. To delv into what I mean by this a bit more . . . most of the opening narrative, describing the scene and the people, is essentially laid out for us as side notes. "She'd Done so instinctively . . ." is a good example of this. The details or the events do not play out for us. The PoV shrugs them off as if they are unimportant. We, as the reader, and not able to experience the fear or frustration Dias feels because the narrative glosses over these points. I'd post examples but the whole opening, until we meet Cook, is like that.

Once we get to Cook, it feels like you've warmed up as a writer and NOW we're getting something fun to read. When we get to Cook we start to really meet Dias as a charcter and the girl, and those around them. WE see how he feels and how people feel about him. he is no longer dismissing the world and by connection, us the reader.

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I think LTU really hit the nail on the head about things feeling unimportant. The scene at the beginning of the chapter was simply a bit too short for us to feel enough from it. I don't think it's an issue of what happened, but how compressed it was. In the second part of the chapter, you spend a lot more time on the scene in the camp, which allows for more details and more insight into Dais and the others there.

Overall though, I enjoyed the chapter, and I feel like Dais's story is progressing nicely (and it helps that I basically read most of the chapters in sequence). And of the viewpoints you have so far, Dais is the most intriguing for me personally because at this point know the least about where his plot is going to go. I can't wait for the next chapter, and I'll try to get to commenting on some of the previous chapters eventually.

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I'm going from memory here, and we all know that can be kind of fickle, but at the end of the last Dias chapter, didn't we end with him running from some people digging around in a house? Of course, just as I type that I think to look at your comments to begin the thread and see that it was indeed what had happened. My last recollection of him was running out the door to the house, with people on his tail, thinking he might have found his father.

There was at least one chapter in between these, correct? Maybe two?

So, when we enter this chapter, I'm expecting to see the pursuit that we were left hanging with last time. In fact, I had expected a good chunk of this chapter, if not most of it, to be Dias trying in various ways to shake off his pursuers. I half expected him to be caught by the end, only to have a reveal at the end that changes his goals all around. (That man was his dad -- but just the corpse! He's now a zombie!)

In addition to all of this, I'm already slightly predisposed to not like the Dias chapters because I don't see how they relate to the other main characters, which all have a thread of connection to Black Rose. I assume it does relate somehow, but I can't see that relation yet. This means I'd personally either not take the chapters as seriously, or I'd be examining all of the various players in it to find that connection.

All that is background so you hopefully can understand some of the critiques I give on the chapter itself. By this point, perhaps you can anticipate them.

So, right at the beginning of the chapter, the chase is resolved in the first paragraph by Dias successfully hiding. In the first sentence, no less. I continued to read for a few more paragraphs before completely accepting that this had happened, as I was expecting him to find out any time that he hadn't thrown the pursuers off that easily. Of course, that means I didn't get the action-packed chapter I was anticipating. Instead, I got a chapter that ended up being very slow (in comparison to my imagined chapter, at least), with Dias leading a girl he doesn't even know across the city, and arriving back at his "home". That's it; that's my takeaway of the plot for the 2300 words: Dias meets a girl and takes her home.

Please don't get me wrong; spending that many words on just a little bit of plot may be fine, depending on what you want to accomplish. For instance, it could be used to describe the scene and fill in details, or it could be used to give deeper characterization. Part of my concern is with regards to the plot and the (occasionally arbitrary) designation of chapter, since I expected more to happen in this one. Part of it may also be explained by LongTimeUnderdog's observation about how the events in the chapter are presented. These factors and possibly others combined to leave me feeling unsatisfied with the chapter.

Another aspect I wasn't sold on was why Dias chose to help the girl -- whose name we still don't know. (I'm guessing the reveal of her name is supposed to be the resolution of a mystery, or something. However, not getting a name to call her by is slightly awkward.) I realize you gave some rationale to Dias in the text, but to me it wasn't convincing. Especially with mysterious "repercussions" he'll have to deal with for bringing her in -- what repercussions, by the way? Double especially with her exhibiting some signs of illness. You've already shown some signs of the city devolving to an us-vs-them mentality, but I wonder if it wouldn't be stronger by now, and a group would refuse to accept anyone else into the group unless that person had an obviously useful role, which this girl doesn't. Or at least, it hasn't been shown.

Fortunately, I think that can be remedied, because I get the feeling that having the girl come along may be important to the plot. In fact, it had better be somehow, or I am going to feel cheated in the end.

One final note; in the end, I haven't seen anything more to connect this to the other story lines (yet), so I'm still wondering how it relates, and thinking it might be my least favorite of the set so far. Subject to change, and all that.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I'll echo cjhuitt a little here.

It feels like the Dias chapters come from a different book entirely than the other chapters. The problem here is that I liked the other POVs and was interested in the world you showed, and when I stumble into a Dias chapter, I find nothing of these here. Right now, those chapters feel like a distraction from the real story, and if I was someone who skips chapters, I'll definitely skip those.

Not that they're badly written : they're just not as interesting to me.

Now, the ending was fine, with the refugees camp bringing a nice touch (even if I wonder how everyone will eat if the only meat they get is the birds he's bringing in).

What I found disturbing was the beginning which feels a little bit awkward to read and passive. For instance, "His confidence in his hiding place was not misplaced." This sentence doesn't help much other than to detract from the action.

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