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20130722 -Robinski -The Tontine Inn By The Shore -Part 4of4 (SV)


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Here are my comments as I read through:

pg 1: you use "mistook" twice in a paragraph

pg 2: the reader remembers Normanton Church.  You don't need to bring attention to it again

pg 2: didn't he leave his cloak in the church?  Or did he get another one?

pg 3/4: I don't know if the thought paragraph all needs to be in italics.  It's not neccessarily all thought.

pg 3-7: there's too much of Blacklake reasoning with himself.  Nothing really happens and it's weak logic at best.  Why would Blacklake want to reason with Sabine?  Is his greed for the inn more than the fear of death at her hands?  

pg 9: swithering?  Had to look this one up.

pg 11: "‘She’s inside. What happened, Blacklake?’ Tarquin plucked the artist to his feet and discovered the extent of his injuries when Rutland almost collapsed from the pain in his leg."
--a POV cheat here.
"‘No! There’s no time, Tarquin. He’s in danger!’ The artist’s cries fell into seemingly delirious murmurings."
--This seems like it's from Tarquin's POV

pg 12: "Tarquin noted that Blacklake was regarding him through eyes half-closed with painand fatigue."
--Also from Tarquin's POV

pg 15: are we supposed to recognize Tarquin/Joshua from somewhere else?

Overall, a good story. I wasn't expecting the twist, even though I was trying to figure out how you would finish it, so good job there.  But I think the second and fourth parts especially can be cut down to get rid of the wandering and thinking.  In this part, there's no real threat when Blacklake is deciding what to do, and I'm still not sure why he came back and didn't just run off. When there is a direct threat--Sabine or Tarquin--the pace is very good and keeps me interested.  When Blacklake is off by himself, it slows down too much.  There were a couple problems with POV, but that's easily fixed.  Just make sure you don't show anything internal from the characters who aren't POV.  There were a couple words in the four sections which I wasn't familiar with, being American, but that's an easy correction if this goes out in America.
Very nice!  All four sections need a little tightening up and some adjective pruning, but very enjoyable.  I'd like to see the others as well.

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All good and very useful, plenty to work with when I re-write this, which I will at some point, but perhaps not until the other parts are finished.


I will definitely take all of this on board, and your comments on the other parts, which are all very helpful.


Overall, I take a lot of encouragement from what's been said, and that the character is interesting (if perhaps a bit overblown in this, the first part that I wrote), but I can tone some of that down, and trim the introspection and plodding, as suggested.


Thank you again.

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I enjoyed this part, especially the ending, it fit and the reveal with Tarquin worked very well. Mandamon has already made most of the points I wanted to make, like him I found the parts where Blacklake was alone to be dragging (he’s stumbling around, thinking of what to do, leaping to strange conclusions and plans), while the scenes with the other characters actually went somewhere. Despite Blacklake being un unlikeable main character this story could work if pruned here and there to cut down on his introspection.


Greed: On page three Blacklake is thinking that Sabine told him his greed caused Marius’s death, but did she say that? I can’t remember and I couldn’t find a reference when I looked over the previous parts. It also seems like a lie, because knowing what Tarquin and Sabine are it seems unlikely that the tontine agreement and the greed associated with it caused Marius’s death.


Blacklake: For a main character I found him to be largely ineffectual in these last parts. Sabine has rattled him, I get that, but throughout the last two parts all he’s accomplished is get away from her – and that seems to be because she was toying with him.


He wants to reason with Sabine, but he is more of a liability to her than an asset. He knows what she is. If she kills him she can stay with Peter and maybe Peter would figure things out (unlikely, unless she does something stupid like reveal who she is, like she did with Blacklake) but more likely she’d just coast by.  And given the ending where Tarquin becomes the lord of the region they never needed Blacklake either. It would make a lot more sense for them to have had him killed as well.


Joshua: Is there a point to Tarquin actually being called Joshua? Since you stress the name it makes me think it’s important, but in actuality there is nothing in this part or any other that makes reference to a Joshua. To me that makes this ‘reveal’ pointless and a distraction to what’s going on, since I’m wondering why the name is important rather than focussing on what the story is actually doing.

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Thank you Asmodemon, for those very helpful comments, sorry it took me so long to reply.


I would not disagree with anything you say.


The 'Joshua' thing links to another of the stories in the series, but that doesn't help you here of course! I'm beginning to think that the whole thing is two or three novels rather than a series of stories. Blacklake's arc is certainly longer than what is in Tontine, and I'd like to think that he comes out better at the end of 'The Mathematical Bridge', which is easiet to think of as the sequal to Tontine. I finished the first draft of TMB late last year, so it needs another go through before I would post it here - and it's 64k, so a different animal to this.


Many thanks again, much appreciated.

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  • 2 weeks later...
A lot of what I've said before, both positive and negative, applies here. Nice writing, could do with speeding up in places, intriguing if not very likeable characters, etc.


Some more specifics:


The PoV seems muddled on the first page, as does what's going on initially. This is especially problematic given how important this scene is.


Switching between 'Rutland' and 'Blacklake' when referring to him makes for a confusing read. If you want to vary things up, maybe more 'he's instead? Same thing seems to be happening elsewhere with other characters, such as Peter / Lord Darvel. It makes it harder to keep track of who people are, pulling me out of the flow of the story while I try to remember whether two names are the same person.


I like the names of places - they evoke a real old-fashioned sense of rural Britain.


I found Blacklake's  decision to negotiate with Sabine made little sense. She's tried to kill him, then killed someone in front of him, and shown no sign of inclination to cooperate.


I like that his role as a painter becomes significant in his knowing his way around and into the manor house - it made who he was seem more relevant. I also  like that he says a prayer before his break-in - it gives variety to his character, and seems to indicate him reverting to superstition in the face of the horror of Sabine, which is an interesting shift.


Lack of attribution of speakers at the start of the telepathic exchanges again makes them confusing.


There were a couple of points where Blacklake seemed to know about powers of Sabine's without having seen them demonstrated. This may be my faulty memory, but his actions were shaped by knowing that she had special senses, which I didn't remember her demonstrating, and he leapt out of the way to dodge a blast that I didn't remember having seen before.


The twist of Tarquin also being a monster with Sabine was good, and made sense given his relations with other characters, but it felt too unexpected to me - I don't remember anything foreshadowing a connection between them.


The fact that Blacklake was saved by Tarquin wanting to keep him alive, left me a bit unsatisfied. As Blacklake didn't even have to persuade him, it meant Blacklake was saved without his own efforts being any part of it. I'd have preferred it if he had to demonstrate his usefulness and persuade Tarquin to save him, in the way he hadn't managed with Sabine.


Overall, this has been an interesting read - thanks for sharing.

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Thank you for the comments Andy.


I can definitely accept the point about dialog tags, I have a tendency to overdo those, as I have learned from Writing Excuses. A good learning point.


The need for me to address the rationale for the negotiation is clear, I think I can do that with a sentence here and there, or perhaps one passage leading into it.


I'm delighted that you found the place names effective. None of them my own work I'm afraid. If I haven't said before the setting is entirely real and located in the County of Rutland, and eveything is pretty much where I say it is. I changed one of two of the major names around just to make it slightly less blatent, but if the Rutland Blacklake story is ever a best seller (ha!), they can run tours.


I was also pleased that you found relevance and effect in the circumstances around his breaking into the house. I think I could be doing more with his emotional state, as you mentioned before, and there is something to build on with him unexpectedly reaching for faith.


I clearly have some foreshadowing to do, and I will take your comment on board about Blacklake having to work harder to justify his continued existence.


I really can't thank you enough for all your comments. My first experience of sutmitting his been incredibly positive and I'm very grateful for your interest. Time now for another draft!


Best, R

Edited by Robinski
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