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Reading Excuses 20150803 Scholomancer Ch4


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Here's a shorter chapter for a change! Looking forward to any comments!


Previously, Renfield betrayed his Master and left stranded in a sabotaged submarine at the bottom of the ocean. A year later, Renfield struggles with mental scars left from his service to Dracula, aided by his psychiatrist Evelyn and the mysterious Bannister, who reveals there's now a hundred million dollar bounty on his head. Meanwhile, vampire hunter Stephanie Van Helsing continues the hunt for Dracula, unaware of the events that have transpired. During her hunt, she finds a scroll which causes her to go into a mysterious trance. Waking up at the HQ of the vampire-hunting organization Westerna, Stephanie tells her partner-and-sometimes-lover Jason Harker and her mentor Hank Irving about the visions, and agrees to keep them a secret. 

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I liked that you showed the other side of the last chapter (I had to go back and refresh myself on what happened), and give a reason for what Irving is doing.  However, I'm still not quite sure what he is doing.


It's all very secretive, but it reads more like there are secrets just to ramp up the tension, rather than for a specific reason.  I don't know what's starting, or who Irving is secretly working for, so I just shrug and keep on reading.


However if you said the end of the world was starting (or whatever's happening) and Irving was secretly working for Dracula, who's not really dead, (or whoever it is), it would give me a lot more reason to turn the pages, so to speak.


Still liking this.  Now that we're in chapter 4, I would like to understand more about the world and how the monsters and monster hunters are grouped.





pg 1: "The Buyer didn’t operate such codes."



pg 2: "something like the Buyer in the first place. Or at least they would think that at first. '

--repeated word


pg 2: "The creatures he lived walked the world for centuries before someone finally drove a stake in their cold, dead heart."

--Wrong word?
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I just joined last week so I couldn't read the previous entries that were sent out, though I did go back and read all of the summaries. Here's what I've got.


Paragraph 1-2:

 - "...gleaned from her sister Serena's psych evaluation": Who is the "her" referenced here? It isn't clear. It doesn't feel like it's Stephanie, but if it is then the words are too far apart. If Serena is someone already introduced in a previous chapter, then you can drop "her sister" entirely and just say, "Serena's".

 - You use the word "it" a lot ("It was all happening", "it shouldn't have started", "it was coming", "no stopping it": What is "it" exactly?  If this is something introduced in an earlier chapter, then a reminder here wouldn't hurt. If this "it" is something the POV character knows about but isn't telling us because you want to make a reveal later on, then that feels like a cop-out.

 - I think these two paragraphs can be condensed and united together, since they follow the same train of thought.


Paragraph 3:

 - "The buyer didn't operate such codes": You're missing a word here.

 - "The Buyer claimed to operate under ancient principles, but whatever principle(s) he followed it was one (were) devoid of honor": Your use of principle(s) need to match for singular or plural.

 - "Stripped of flesh" at the end may sound cool, but I feel it's implied in the word "bones" and it sounds redundant. If you feel a deep need to keep it, consider something like "flesh-stripped bones" instead.


Paragraph 4  (not counting "Rebecca" as a paragraph):

  - "No matter how late in was"

 - The tense of this paragraph is wrong. If Rebecca's currently in a hospital (we find this out later), and we're in past tense for the bulk of the chapter then "Rebecca (had) waited", and "his wife (had) stayed", and "She (had) kept a .45". Not only is this grammatically correct, but the reader will pick up on the change and it will give a sense of wanting to know why his wife is being referred to in that way, and makes the paragraph where we find out she's in hospital pay off a bit more.


Paragraph 5:

 - "he had long (ago? since? before?) given up the notion"


Paragraph 6:

 - The first sentence is a bit of a mess, grammatically. I'm not entirely sure what you're trying to say here.


Paragraph 8:

 - "The creatures he lived walked" - Again, something's wrong with this sentence.


Paragraph 9:

 - "picked up the phone and dialed the number": What number and where did it come from? A previous chapter? Is there a business card, because if it's a number he's memorized, then we should know whose number it is.




- The POV character is Hank Irving (based on reading the summaries), and this chapter dips into a deep 3rd person at times. Is "Irving" really how the character refers to himself?

- I'm not sure why the character is doing what he's doing, or what exactly it is that he's doing (I'm going to assume that that's at least partly a function of my having missed the first 3 chapters). That being said, it feels like you're trying to convey a sense of desperation, but I don't feel it while reading this chapter because I'm not clear on what's at stake and what his current actions imply, for himself or for others mentioned. If previous chapters haven't made entirely clear what he's done and why, then this feels like you're trying to create mystery by hiding things from us which the character knows but isn't mentioning, which is not a great method.



I did enjoy this, despite coming into the story somewhat late. It's hard to get a great feel for the characters and setting in such a short chapter, but it left me interested in reading more. I'm looking forward to the next entry.


If anything's not clear, let me know. Also, if there is specific information I'm missing which was provided in previous chapters and which would change my reading of the chapter, I'd like to know what it is.

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I have also not read the previous bits so I don't have much to add, but I have to say that this was surprisingly engaging for such an introspective scene.


-"No harm, no foul," If I'm not completely misunderstanding the situation, backing out would mean. . . Rebecca's death. . ? That is hardly "no harm". 


I do agree that it felt like Irvin was hiding things from the reader, but it might have been what made it feel engaging for me.

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Thanks for the feedback! Irving is the contagonist perspective, so he's there to show how the villains are complicating the main character's progress, while also keeping his own motivation. I definitely don't want to hide too many things from the reader when it's 3rd person limited. Obviously some things, like the Buyer's identity, will remain hidden, but I might add a couple more details in this thread. I also need to build up my world a bit more to show where everyone stands. Thanks again for the feedback! 

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First off, I really like the end of this chapter. It really drives me to want to read the next chapter.


I do feel like you are hiding something from the reader throughout the chapter. Primarily what Serena predicted is.

Since Hank is thinking about this and where in his head shouldn't we know what it is. 



While I can't speak on grammar, I assume that

Page 2. His co-workers would think him a monster who entering into a deal with someone, something like the.....

That you meant it to read like

His co-workers would think him a monster for entering into a deal with someone, (dramatic pause) something like the



Looking forward to the next one


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So, is this the whole chapter? Not that I'm against short chapters, but I think they need to work harder to be effective. It’s an interesting reverie. It’s just as well that he makes the phone call or it would be a chapter without anything happening at all, just a man thinking. I'm good at those – you’re one up on some of mine for having the phone call!


It’s interesting. I felt that I was learning stuff, which is good, although I wasn’t always clear what I was learning. It was good to have a solid indication of Irving motivations, but I'm not clear on what deal he has done.


The thing that stands out for me from this submission is that Irving has become the most rounded character of the lot, because of this strong motivation to do something bad to try and help his wife. He has a moral dilemma, which none of the others seem to have. I guess what I mean is their motivations are to try and rid the world of evil, which is pretty basic and uncomplicated, whereas his is more complex and, frankly, more interesting. I think you should be looking for increased complexity in the motivations of some of the other characters, especially Renfield, who feels like a main character.


Good chapter, it has got the little grey cells working, but I think it could deliver more punch by revealing a bit more, or by being a bit clearer in places. In Irving, I have found the character that I am most interested in. Like I said, I don’t think trying to rid the world of these evils monsters is interesting enough on its own to give a character depth.


Looking forward to next week – keep it coming.




I find the second paragraph unclear. Perhaps it’s because I don’t remember what his position is, but I'm not sure what he’s acting on or not, and what he’s trying to stop. Maybe I'm not supposed to, in which case I should be confused!


In the last sentence of the third paragraph, there are various ‘his’-s. I don’t think it’s quite clear which male person is being referred to. I'm on a quest to eliminate as many as possible of these non-specific determiners and pronouns (it-s) from my writing, so it’s always clear who or what is being referred to.


a .45 loaded with silver bullets loaded beneath...” – suggestion: flow


in case her husband’s work followed him home” – nice line


laying a hospital bed breathing through a tube somewhere while he was stuck” – suggestion: unnecessary


for this her condition” – suggestion: clarity


think him a monster who for entering into a deal” – typo


Or at least they would think that at first. But maybe eventually they would understand why he did what he did.” – wordy


Stephanie and Jason were like his own kids” – suggestion: unnecessary


but now it seemed was unlikely she would live that long” – I flag this because it’s something I’ve become conscious of in my writing. ‘Seemed’ is an indirect word, saying maybe it is maybe it isn’t, not sure. It’s another thing I'm trying to work on, being more direct in the language, which I think helps the flow.


The creatures he lived [???] walked the world” – I don’t follow.


He hoped he would be the only one paying the price for it.” – I felt this was naive. Where’s the benefit to ‘the devil’ making the deal, if Irving is the only one who pays the price? It feels like he’s deluding himself here, I thought, which is maybe your intention.

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This is what I was getting at about short chapters working harder and revealing more. Maybe next week I'll just I'll just give Mandamon a 'vote up' for his comments and spare you my rambling!! (Joking, I love to ramble...)


However if you said the end of the world was starting (or whatever's happening) and Irving was secretly working for Dracula, who's not really dead, (or whoever it is), it would give me a lot more reason to turn the pages, so to speak.
Edited by Robinski
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Thanks for the feedback! Irving is the contagonist perspective...


Ha, never heard that word before, had to look it up:


An contagonist is a character who is generally on the hero/heroine's side in the story as they want the hero/heroine to achieve their ultimate goal. However, they feel the hero/heroine should go about reaching that goal in a different way than the hero/heroine does.


So, joking apart, who is the protagonist and how is Irving's 'dirty deal' going to help their ultimate goal?

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Sorry for the confusion, Robinski. I've been taking one of Dave Wolverton's writing classes, and that was a term that came up.


I'm intending Renfield and Stephanie to be the two protagonists, but at the end of each "cycle" (usually two chapters from both protagonists) we see what Irving is doing to get a better idea of what the antagonists are plotting.


Thanks for the critique. I'm glad Irving feels like a strong character so far - that must mean I'm doing something right :) 

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