Jump to content

2015.05.11 - Valthyr - The Drop (L,V)


Recommended Posts

I was told I could post the prologue, but since it's not done yet I will have to mix up the order and send directly Chapter 1 (also the prologue turned out to be longer than 2-3 pages, so together the two would've been too far off the 5000 word mark). 

The prologue is basically a short glance at the final days of an alien race - the Skalds - and one of them in particular - Hiraeth, Augur of the Loss. It's about how he's cast off into exile (imprisoned) and it's made clear that because of him the otherwise immortal Skalds are going to destroy themselves in a civil war. 

That prologue has nothing to do with The Drop (not directly at least, though later things will align) but I'm putting the short summary here for anyone who wants to know. 
I should add as a last note that the book has several characters scattered across many worlds and things may seem a bit .. not connected, so bear that in mind. 

Also, I didn't mention this before but I'm not a native speaker - I'm Bulgarian. 

All comments are welcome!

Edited by Valthyr
Link to comment
Share on other sites

- Welcome to the group Valthyr!


- If the prologue has nothing to do with The Drop directly, I wouldn't include it. This is the first thing your readers are going to see, and if it doesn't really hook them, they might not read any further. I would strongly consider either finding a way to include that information somewhere else in the narrative or dropping altogether.


- I noticed you used numbers in the prose, such as "the 4th platoon". I think this is fine as long as its consistent.


- I really like the battle setting in the later section.


- You seem to switch from Captain Vaughn to Colonel Colter rather abruptly on the seventh page. Even though it's on a page break, I would still include a section mark ( * * *) just so the reader isn't confused. This will also help if the page break between sections isn't there in future drafts. 


- Overall, I really liked the later section. The action was fast-paced and kept moving. You also set up a lot of interesting characters, technology and intrigue in the second section. i honestly would have never known you weren't a native speaker unless you had told me. This is excellent work!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you for the review! 
I'm going to be reading the other submissions today and tomorrow (timezone difference might upset the timings a bit, but I hope it won't matter).
I was thinking of either dropping Vaughan entirely and simply re-writing the part with Colter (thus having an uninterrupted chapter about him) or my other idea was expanding his section. However I think I'm probably going for the removal of the character since my other chapters are about other people from different worlds and I already have 2 characters from this one (Colter whom you've seen and a woman named Seah - she has her own chapter) so adding Vaughan would make too many.
Thank you again and have a nice day/evening! :D 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If I may be so bold, I can't help but draw parallels between you and Joseph Conrad. Like rdpulfer, if you didn't mention that you weren't a native speaker I would have never guessed.


I trust that the prologue will do some work setting up the lore, but without it I felt a bit bewildered. Not likely helped by my lack of sleep. I found myself scrolling back and forth to ensure I understood what exactly was going on, which may or may not be a good thing.


Chapter one is thick and rich, like molasses. It's definitely a slog trying to keep track of the technology and organizations you reference, but the way you repeat the key names and titles we need to know really helps. It's satisfying as opposed to frustrating. It feels like the story will reward paying attention, in that special way only a well-defined universe does.


I really appreciated the awesome passage from the Conviction Opus. It places the death and struggles of the soldiers within the context of a believable purpose.


It's really easy for a heroic speech or rallying cry to fall flat in the hands of an inexperienced writer. I was blown away by Vaughan's little speech to his troops--well done.


The action is relentless, and very well handled. Easy to visualize, and cinematic.


As a minor comment, you might do well to consider removing the quotation marks from the character's thoughts. The italics do well enough to distinguish them, and I never really wondered whether it was a though or spoken word, so that's just semantics I suppose.


I love the mix of swords, guns, charged knives, and power armor. It's dirty, gritty, awesome sci-fi.


The Lex wouldn't realize Castor had arrived after their entire second wave got wiped by a bombing run? =P


I have a friend of mine who's a huge fan of the Warhammer 40K books, and while I'm not that familiar with 40K I feel like he would love this. You're definitely on to something grand. Keep it up! And welcome to the group =)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you for the input! 
I'm feeling really overwhelmed by the positive things you had to say! And the Warhammer 40k remark left me speechless - I am a huge Dan Abnett fan and I consider him a god among men, if I may say so. :D I am also glad you saw the cinematic-ness of everything, as I strive for that in everything I write. 
I will remove the quotation marks and I have also gone back and fixed some typos and some repeating words, names etc. But I guess that doesn't matter as much. I beat myself up pretty much over everything, going back to change/fix it all the time (but I haven't fallen in the trap of writing just the first chapter). If you see some of the books I own you'd kill me - marked dialogue, descriptions and so on. I try to be my harshest critique-er, but I needed input from other people who read sci-fi and fantasy. So thank you again - I shall be writing all night tonight, I'm feeling inspired!

On a side note - I have a friend of mine who's doing concept art for the book. His deviantart profile is Gollorr - go check him up if you want, he has some pretty awesome fantasy/sci-fi stuff there. 

Edit: The Lex wouldn't know Castor has tanks! Wait till you see the tech for those, and the arboril forging!

Second edit: "It feels like the story will reward paying attention, in that special way only a well-defined universe does."
You have no idea how glad I am that you said that. I've spent more time building the universe than I have actually writing it. I've gone through political systems, planetary positions in star systems to make sure they're in the right part of the habitable zone (or not) for what I'm using them; religious reasoning and alteration through the centuries that have passed since the Exodus (the running away from Earth), technology viability and believability :D

Edited by Valthyr
Link to comment
Share on other sites

First off, welcome to Reading Excuses!


Your writing is very solid, and I wouldn't have guessed either that you aren't a native speaker.  I'm also not too familiar with warhammer 40k, but this definitely has that vibe.  I really enjoyed the entry quote and the worldbuilding it added.


I only found a couple little things:


pg 3: "chesplates" instead of chestplates


pg 7: "duckboards."  Not sure what this is.


I'll also second the need for ellipses to break up the section between Captain Vaughan and Colonel Colter.  That leads in to the only real problem I have, which is that there are a lot of names floating around, and not a whole lot of characterization.  This transitions into the second half being one long description of the battle, which is fine if you like that sort of thing, but I found myself skimming a little.  There's a LOT of stuff going on, which is rewarding if you pay attention to it and remember for later.  you do run the risk of alienating audiences that don't want to keep up with all the information.  But then, I don't have too much room to complain, as I tend to do the same thing...


I was a little unclear on what "the drop" is.  I assume it was the act of dropping a fresh wave of enemies in?


You mention the "Holy wounds" several times, and I got that it was some sort of feature on their uniform, but I don't think you really describe it.  I might have missed it.  You also mention armor at the beginning of the chapter, but by the end, it seems more like a full mech suit, or at least very augmented armor.


Just a note that passed through my mind while reading:

Their defense seems to currently be better than their offense.  By that I mean it takes many bullets to injure a soldier.  So then I wonder why they don't focus on using/researching better bullets?


Oh, and I would also drop the prologue if it doesn't add anything specific to this, or doesn't immediately grip the reader.


Anyway, great job, and looking forward to more!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you for the input! 

I am right now in the process of removing Vaughan and making his whole part Colter's. That way there are going to be less names and the characterization from Vaughan's part will pass onto Colter and help solidify what type of man he is. I am also adding a description of the Holy wound at the part where they are waiting for the Drop (which is that wall that I described dropping into the ground, instead of having the soldiers stand on a ledge to shoot out of the trench. It has the added benefit of making the first volleys way more deadly and helps with the defenses). 
I've fixed the typos and yes by armor i mean heavily augmented armor - I have that sentence somewhere in the beginning "Though his Yadron was the same angular plated exosuit that the rest of the Ashen Guard wore, his armor was painted in matte white – a stark contrast with the surrounding sea of grey. " 
Also it will be made clear later why their defenses are better (spoiler - the Ashen Guard were never meant to be fighting the Lex, they had developed weapons for dealing with heavily armored suits like theirs, which in that case was a bow with ENORMOUS draw weight; the swords were developed as a way to counter the charged blades of the Lex, who have no need for developing new offensive tech as they've almost won the war). 

I have a question for you guys, since you think the prologue with the aliens wouldn't be a great idea - would it be a good idea if I took the passage from the Conviction Opus and made it longer and more in-depth, and make that the prologue? It would make more room to describe some things about the world and why there is a war and it will ease the reader into this part of my universe, as well as omake the deaths of the Ashen Guard weigh more later. In turn, that will leave more room in The Drop chapter to add some paragraphs that would describe the tech more or add some quirks to Colter. Should I do that?

Edited by Valthyr
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Detailed comments below as I read, but overall, I have to say that this did not do a great deal for me. There are some hints at characterisation, but it's pretty standard warfare stuff from start to finish. All that hacking and slashing and shooting gets repetitive after a few paragraphs. The only bit that stood out for me was the 'combat madness' and the colonel having to shoot his own man. That part hinted at more complex themes, I promises more than just fighting for the rest of the story, which I hope is the case.

The opening background was pretty good, I quite liked the set up, but I found nothing in the combat to set it apart from any battlefield at any time. I didn't think there was all that much sense of what was at stake either. Victory and defeat, yes fair enough, but what does that mean in this case?

I'm curious to see if this develops beyond simple warfare, but if I picked this off the shelf in a shop, I doubt I'd get beyond the first two of three pages. Sorry.

P.s. I should have added that the language itself is very good. I thought it flowed well, despite the difficulties I had with the content. All the more impressive in that it's not your native language. Cudos on that, sir!


"It's spires SHONE like blades..."

The epigraph is very formal in its language, so the contraction "would've" seems out of place.

The epigraph is also very lyrical, I like it as an opening, it creates a sense of grandeur that I find promising. Presumably the main prose will be less formal however, as it would be heavy going if the story was that dense throughout.

"chaos erupted around HIM? as officers..."

A couple of defences to the Drop so far, but I'm not quite sure what it is, it could be clearer. Is it the taking of the chemical stimulant?

Also, I think your capitalisation is off in places. Section Seventeen is the name of the section, which I think should be capitalised, however you refer to 'the Colonel', but when you don't use his name, I think it should be uncapitalised.

Is 'Arcs' a curse? I was unsure.

I don't know what a Yadron is.

I find it a bit odd that the colonel's thoughts are in inverted commas, which make them look like speech. For me, italics is sufficient.

I see you've capitalised exoplate. To me, it makes it look like a name, and I had to read that twice to figure it wasn't. Just because a word is 'made up', I don't think it needs to be capitalised. I think it looks more natural uncapitalised, i.e. to not draw attention to its unusual nature, if that makes sense. To the soldiers, it's normal.

Again, 'Arcs', still not sure what it means.

You refer to the boy who is possessed(?) as 'it', which I presume is deliberate, but still referring to him as a boy seems contradictory.

Repetition of 'just' in the last line of the section sounds awkward. I would ditch one of them.

I'm a bit disoriented by the levels involved. You describe a trench, but when the wall drops, the defenders are at the same level as the attackers, which seems to be ground level? To me, that doesn't sound like a trench, the bottom of which I would think was below ground. Maybe I've got that wrong.

Also, the enemy are Lex, not Arcs, I guess. So still not sure what Arcs are. Are they like Archangels, so if would be a religious invocation?

I'm not sure how the comms would prevent a blood bath, from the sound of it there were no reinforcements available. I guess Vaughan doesn't know that, maybe?

Again, I have issues with the trench. If the defenders are indeed in a trench, I presume it's at least 4 feet deep, but there is also a 4 foot wall above which drops down, but still leaves the defenders in a ditch? That would suggest the top of the wall is 8 feet above the bottom of the ditch.

It's implied that the Lex heavily outnumber the Ashen, and yet the action does not seem to back this up. If the outnumbering was say 5-1, I would have thought that the Lex would just roll over them, smother them in bodies, unless they are hanging back and coming in handfuls at a time, which seems crazy.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you for the in-depth review!

I've come to realize something HORRIBLE since I posted this to the group and that is - I hadn't fully formed the entire story (at least on a sheet of paper so I'd know what was going on) and this is largely responsible for a LOT of discrepancies in the chapter. Also I've been thinking about some things as if you, the readers, know about - like the Arcs (the Arcs are ships humanity used to escape earth and head to supposedly habitable planets hundreds of light years away). And actually it's just been me going "Yeah, I know what that is - moving forward." 

Exoplate was the old name for Yadron armor, however I realized it sounds too similar to Shardplate (hence people would think I'm ripping off Brandon, and I assure you I try really hard not to :D). You're not supposed to know what Yadron is exactly, except gather from the bits of info that it's augmented armor (power armor). The bit with Exoplate was simply me forgetting to remove it.

Comms prevent a blood bath by allowing officers to direct their men according to the shifting needs of the battle. If you have a break to the north of you and you're an officer, you can immediately allocate men from sections where the fighting is less thick and have them contain the break. However without long-range comms people further away than a hundred meters from you will hardly know what's going on, and by the time someone finds out it will be too late. 

Overall, thank you very much for this input, it's helped me solidify my ideas of what should happen (and how). There are now a total of TWO chapters before this one (A prelude to the whole "series" and a prologue to the book that set the tone and the heading for the books, after which is the Drop, which besides the heavy fighting is still in check thanks to the little Conviction Opus bit, and that's followed by a chapter that is starkly different from the confusing combat). 

All of this has been removed. I've re-written the entire chapter adding more characterization and I've made the Vaughan bit about Colter. This chapter specifically is supposed to be thick with combat, because (I know I should let my writing defend itself, but since this was my first time posting here I was less ready than I thought and..) this chapter is no longer Chapter One. Every third chapter is about Colter, and the other two are in totally different settings, far less active and the chapters from the front lines are the "counterpoint", the juxtaposition making the shock from so much action akin to that of actually being there (though it's still pretty far off). 

I have now explained adequately why the Lex are even bothering to fight the Ashen Guard like this (since trench warfare is by far the worst kind there could be). The front of the trenches is not like in World War I (there you had a firestep from which to shoot and the actual trench floor was even lower in the ground). Here the front wall of the trench is lower than the back one, but the added height from the metal wall makes it about the same. The Drop is actually the wall dropping down to allow the Ashen Guard to shred their incoming enemies. Also trench warfare is largely "victory through attrition", so the Lex actually do outnumber them greatly, however the ones that make it to the trench are quite thinned down. However that's been made clearer as well. 

Last question - do you guys reckon I could send the totally revised and changed Drop (and the prologue) next time, instead of pushing forward with chapter two? 

Have a nice day!

Edited by Valthyr
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks Valthyr, that explanation as helpful. In my opinion (only that), it's better to press on unless we are missing something from your insertions that will prevent us understanding what is going on (that you don't explain in notes). At the end of the day, we here are not going to experience the full story because our reading is fragmented and you will always change some things.

Knowing now that combat is the minority of the story, I think maybe you are running a risk opening up this way in ether first chapter, as it could turn away readers like me. I love political intrigue, spying, general sneaking around and most personal interactions. I understand why you open with this chapter, it's certainly hard-hitting, but I would benefit from some clue (not sure how you would do it, but that's not my job here!) that tells me 'Don't worry, it's not all going to be flat-out fighting'.

Thank you for your clarification of the trench. I think you could do with something to make that clear in the story.

Helpful responses - I feel more comfortable about reading on.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As usual, I agree with Robinski.  You explained the changes you made.  I'd say press on so you don't get caught it the "endlessly editing chapter 1" trap.  I'm eager to see some of the other parts of the worlds you've created that aren't quite as combat-rich.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...