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Robinski - Waifs and Strays - Submission 5 (-) 1819 words


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A shorter submission this week, since the end of Chapter 3 offers a good break point. The potential down side of that is a dearth of action (welcome to another Robinski submission!). What you get here is a challenge for me, exposition dealt with largely through dialogue or personal monologue. You’re comments will be greatly appreciated.


Covelle and Dyllis escaped from The Crowded Inn as the Duke’s Guard arrived, taking Benam into custody. Dyllis is a fugitive, so hopefully it doesn’t need stating that she goes with Covelle since he aided her in escaping her pursuers. He had led her through dark backstreets to a cottage in a quiet area of town on the hill above the port.


Comments gratefully received. Thanks for reading.


Cheers, Robinski

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While this didn't have a lot of action as such it felt like it was moving the story along far more than some of the previous bits. We learn quite a lot about both characters and about the setting, and see their relationship starting to take shape. So I don't think you need to worry about the lack of action here.


I think there's space to use more showing or implying in a few places. That way when the characters provide necessary exposition through their dialogue it won't feel like too much. For example, there's a point when Covelle notices Dyllis's enthusiasm, but if you could show that enthusiasm through her words and actions or refer to it less directly then it would be less like exposition and so save some of your exposition-room for later.


Covelle seems to rush through the thought process of considering whether he can use her, then deciding that her faith will get in the way, then deciding she might use the magic for defence, all in two sentences. I'm not suggesting that you spend more words on this, but maybe spread it through the chapter so that his evaluation of her usefulness is a background part of the whole scene.


I really like the business with the toe. Having a bodily cost and limitation for the magic, then showing what happens when that escalates, adds depth to it and hints at darker possibilities to come.

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I agree with andy. This chapter really worked for me, a lot more than the last one.


Exposition seemed to be reasonably well done--dialogue is almost always preferable to a monologue. Especially when people disagree, so we get to see various perspectives. For me, it makes for a more vivid world.


However, at points, it seemed like Dyllis was unnaturally quiet on things, especially on casting and the king. This is something she feels strongly about--why not have a diatribe? A good old-fashioned fight between the prodigal son and the hunted witch might be really interesting, since it seems Covelle isn't quite sure where he stands (i.e. he's a highwayman, but also comes across as still vaguely supportive of his dad). 


And as above, I love tangible cost for magic. Out of curiosity, what happens to the sacrificed body parts? Do they vanish or burn or shrivel or what? Sanderson's laws are great, but so are Newton's.


Much more excited about the next installment.

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I really, really, really like this. By far my favorite look at Covelle and Dyllis - much better grasp on who they are and what's going on. This is genuinely touching and well done. And I'll echo the kudos on the whole "magic comes with a cost" angle.


The one thing about the scene that threw me is how easily Dyllis gives up her info after finding out Covelle's parentage. I would think that would throw her guard up a little farther and she'd have to be talked back down That, and Covelle's moment of internal revelation is a bit too much - he can soften a little, but he's questioning far too much of his own cynical view of the world in one fell swoop. This is all really good emotional stuff, but just a bit softer touch on his internal monologue might work - convert him piece by piece. 


How old is Dyllis? She's pictured as a little girl but she's extremely well spoken and eloquent - this is either going to need explained or changed (I'm assuming she's not secretly like 300 years old - in which case it's fine). Children, even highly skilled and educated children, will always be children. Boy-geniuses who get into college at age 11 are still kids, still want to play football with their friends, probably still have a drawer full of action figures, and still speak in childish ways - they just happen to be really good at quantum physics. Dyllis is probably wise beyond her years and robbed of her childhood her station in life - but if she's a kid, she needs to come across as a kid. 


Like the description of the house and the advantages of living up the hill. Good stuff. Also like that Dyllis' eyes "went round" instead of "widened" - love that word choice and may steal it at some point.  


At one point he murmurs an apology - I'd like to hear what he actually said - the sincerity or lack thereof would be telling.


Minor note, I would give some thought to how easy your place names are to pronounce. As the resident ugly-American, I stumbled a bit on "Lufmatho” and "Cwidagth". Orson Scott Card wrote two good lessons on naming conventions and noted that all names should be easily pronounced by American (or in your case British) readers - because we try to mentally pronounce things even when we read silently, and names we have to think about throw us out of the story. See:





I feel your pain here as I like multicultural characters - you'll probably meet my Indian-American co-protagonist in the next few weeks, but there's a reason that her name is "Vinya Jain" and not "Aadarshini Brahmaputra". 

Edited by CommandanteLemming
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@JP: So glad this section worked better for you, especially the magic system (so far).


I accept the point about the content of their conversation, I will expand the expounding on Dyllis's part a little, although I am trying to balance that with her being reluctant to give much away. Lemming's comments seem to accept her reticence so, as usual, it's a balance. This is not to say that she can't be drawn into an argument of course, which would allow me to rebalance Covelle's viewpoint - I'll need to look at that again, I didn't intend to show support for his father, but it's implied then it could be something to capitalise on as a flaw (as he would see it).


I'm especially pleased about the reaction to the magic so far, as it's something that I often don't deal with very well (if at all) - so, I'm pleased that I'm on the right track.

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@CmtLemming: Your comments are very kind - praise really does inspire a fellow to strive even harder - thank you indeed.


Your points on the pace' of disclosure are well made. Others have a slightly different view, and I can see the merits of both. There is work to be done, but I think just in some adjustments rather than wholesale changes.


Your question about Dyllis's age is also a good one, as there has been some flux on that in my mind. I started off thinking of her a younger, but my mind set is now towards 19/20. I think the root of the problem (if there is one) is in the term 'girl', which is open to interpretation. I've also used 'young woman', which I think is more recognisable as late teens/early twenties, but these terms do depend on one's perspective. I'm in my 40's, I have a daughter who is 20. I can use the term 'girl' and still feel that it applies to her. I'd be interested to know the group's view on this.


I think her behaviour contributes to an impression that she might be younger but, either way, it's something I think I need to define more clearly earlier on, in passing.


You're welcome to "eyes went round" - there's nothing new under the sun - I'm sure I probably 'borrowed' it from somewhere else.


But now to a very interesting point indeed - names. I note what you say. Cwidagth is certainly a bit of a stinker, but there is a very specific pattern at work with the place names, and a separate pattern (experimental, for me, not earth-shattering) for the names. Neither of these patterns is germane to the story, they are purely to assist me, to assist in discouraging me from endless obsession over the names of places and people. It's not meant to be a great puzzle, but I'm not going to tell you what the pattern is!!


I love your name 'Aadarshini Brahmaputra'. I think that, often times, it's laziness in the reader that causes issues with names, and if they just took time to work out the name in the first instance, it would be easy to cope with thereafter (in most cases, there will always be issues with 'Prill' (etc.) in Ringworld!!). I just convert to phonetics, so I would make your character 'Adarshinee Bramapootra', then press on with the story. Am I close?


Thank you again for your comments, very much appreciated. I will be getting on to your next chapters directly.

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I'll tell you a story about names - I'm a perfectionist, and occasionally at my office I have to serve as a greeter for groups who have had nametags printed. I'm obsessed with making sure that I can pronounce names correctly, so I alway look through the nametags, pick out the one or two names I can't pronounce in one try (be they Indian, Polish, etc) and rehearse a few times to make sure I get it right...mostly because when somebody walks in the door, I want to be able to say, "Good Morning, Mr. Andrzejewski" without missing a beat (and I've known a guy named Andrzejewski - it's pronounced Ann-Gee-Ev-Ski).


If I encounter that name in a story, I'm going to do the same thing, back out of the story and read it three times trying to get it stuck in my head so that I can move on - which is why I keep tripping on Lufmatho every week. I think I'm getting it dome but I keep mentally skipping it in the text and mentally remind myself not to back out for pronunciation. That may be an individual quirk, but I think it's the type of reading experience that Card was talking about. At the end of the day there are far more important things to talk about.


As for Aadarshini Brahmaputra - I made that name up on the spot yesterday. The character's name has been Vinya Jain almost since her inception, and she couldn't have any other name. Naming rhythm also has more importance in my story as my characters are all TV newscasters and therefore the ease of name-pronunciation actually figures into whether or not they get their job (a potential issue since my main character's last name is Constantinos). But I may add a background character named Aadarshini Brahmaputra just to have a laugh - I already have several background characters with long names on purpose. 

Edited by CommandanteLemming
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I think you're right about the helpless / passive thing, I think it really makes a difference to the perception - I need to go back a drop some clues in there. Interested to know what other people's perception is though - I feel a poll coming on!

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