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yankorro - 28 October 2013 - Manticore Rose intros


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Hello everyone, feel free to post any comments about either or both versions of the introductory mini-chapter of 'Manticore Rose' below.


As I noted in my email, I'm interested in the following


- which one you like better (and why)

- any expectations you might form from the introduction

- any other comments, general, specific or otherwise.


Thanks a heap,


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I like the second version better. it is better to get attached to characters before detailing setting.


I have mixed expectations. you throw in lots of modern industrial words and ideas to make me think of a late 1800's to early 1900's era, but then you use the term "fiefdom" which throws me back into a middle ages era. if this story takes place on an alternate earth where fiefdom is the proper term, you need to give more clues to quickly establish that fact. maybe like the example on Writing Excuses where a book started with "the clock struck 13". if it is on earth i'd choose another word.


when you say "Precocious child, apple of her grandfather's eye." my first reaction was that the pov character was her grandfather and he was describing her in his head while she rambled to someone else. the fact that in the first version (which i read first) you described him as "gray haired" reinforced that notion in my mind. It might be okay in the alternate, where you establish they are strangers before he is described as gray haired.


I like your characters so far, I can already imagine them and feel i will like them.

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I'll start with expectations. Obviously, there's gonna be a motherflipping manticore at *some* point in the story. Rose is also the protagonist, although with the first intro, it felt like the old man might be. I'd also wager that this is steampunk.


As for which one I like better, the second one. Marginally. It makes clear Rose's centrality to the story and is less Stephen King on detail ("I don't care what the leaves look like Steve, when's Roland going to be badass?") Frankly though, the dialogue needs work. The old man comes off like a stereotype of Southern gentility (which is wholly distinct from the Mescalero Southwest), while Rose is obviously a bat-crazy hick. I'm not especially invested in the characters or the story (what we've seen thus far). I'm fishing for a reason to keep reading and nothing's biting. 


Also, there's no way a horse could keep up with a train. There are far more efficient ways to guard a train without resorting to animal cruelty.

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I also like the second version better.  It establishes an interesting character quickly, and later gives you setting information as to where they're traveling and that they are on a train.


Part of this depends on who the main character is.  I assume it's the girl, but both intros are written from the grey man's POV, so I'm not sure.  The girl exits at the end.


The first version (in my mind) establishes the man as the focal character because it introduces him, on the train, listening to the girl.  The second version introduces the girl immediately, so I would be less surprised if you suddenly switch to her POV after this, even if this is from the man's POV.  As it's titled "Manticore Rose," I assume the girl is going to play a big part, therefore the second version is probably better.


I am interested in the subject enough to read more.  I'm not sure yet where the setting is, but you have a train and a dusty wasteland, and talk about institutions like we have, so my first thought is the US southwest.  It could still be either fantasy or scifi, either on Earth or somewhere else.  I agree with Mysty that the POV is a little confusing in the first one.  Totally missed the reference to horses and Mescalero.  That makes me lean more toward alternate Earth.  Could be steampunk, but not necessarily.  I suppose the horses could be keeping up if the train is slowing down?

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Thanks folks, great and useful stuff so far! I appreciate it!


(i still seem to have trouble with the reply function here, so I'll just address a couple of comments (more to help me sort of the answers in my head than for any other reason.)


First off, second version seems to be winning out (if only 'marginally' :)). There are a couple of other chapters from the old guy's viewpoint later on (beginning of 'acts ii and iii', natch), but almost entirely in Rose's (3rd pers. very-limited) viewpoint, and the 2nd version is clearer about that, I guess.


Second, setting cues seem to be working, though genre-wise, I guess I'd call it a 'post-apocalyptic Weird Western' rather than steampunk(not enough water in the desert for steam...). But the idea is (as Mysty said) something more or less analogues to late 1800s-early 1900s tech levels.


And yes, there will be a motherflipping manticore. Aaaand, point taken about the horses, I will either work in some explanation of the train's security measures or just cut it.


Again, thanks all!

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Goddammit yankorro. My NaNoWriMo project is a Western set around turn of the 20th Century tech level. Now I can't post any of it without looking like a complete copycat. 




Although, really, if I want to get technical, Stephen King beat us both to it.


EDIT: Orrrrrr we can make it interesting and turn this into a competition...

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not to worry, jParker, I highly doubt our respective projects will really resemble each other at all. As you've seen from the first post, mine is the tale of a half-crazy amateur cryptozoologist on a vision quest in the mountains of southern New Mexico. No cowboys or Indians and no magic to speak of, really, so if your story has stuff like that, no worries. As long as no manticore shows up in the third act, you're good! :)


Also, I've never read King's Dark Tower stuff, I'm not sure if that's a good or a bad thing for what I'm doing.


Anyway, plase post away, I for one would be really interested in seeing where you take it. As far as competition is concerned...I'm not sure I'd want to commit to anything like that until I know what the stakes are :)

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The Dark Tower is absolutely fantastic. Think Lord of the Rings but without Tolkien's elementary offenses (predictable storyline, info-dumping, pointless tangents, etc.). To be compared to it is definitely a good thing. 


I probably won't post anything until at least December. Between work and university, I'm going to have difficulty just to keep my word count adequate--I definitely won't have time for revisions and editing. As for competition, my only wager is bragging rights. Who wrote the better Western fantasy? (No Indians in mine, but I will have cowboys and maybe a touch of magic. Definitely no manticores.)

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I liked this, both versions. I didn't feel like I knew much about what was going on, but as an intro it was intriguing. Like the others, I thought that the second version worked better, starting as it does with the character.


I got a weird west vibe off of it, which is probably why I was intrigued - I've got the first two Dark Towers waiting on my shelf for when I have a spare moment, and I've had some steampunk western stuff published in the past.


The only criticism I have is that the paragraph explaining the background she's talking about went on a bit too long. But I have a very low tolerance for that kind of thing, and even so it barely bugged me.


Good stuff.

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  • 1 month later...

Please excuse late comments, but Nano consumed all my spare time so just catching up now. This is the first piece of yours that I’ve read, so really interested in discovering your style.


I like the style, easy to read and a good fit in tone with the desert setting. Feels like period, but then the reference to army vest pulled me in a different direction. Personally, I don’t think it needs the last line, the image of Rose walking away is enough to make me wonder where she’s going and what’s going to happen, I don’t think the reader needs a reminder of what she’s there to do.


‘As she went...’ (what?). ‘As she went on(?), it became clear...’


I'm not sure that the dreamy smile fits the description of the man up to that point. My image of him is one of a patient bystander, maybe a bit remote, possibly avuncular, but the dreamy smile makes him seem a bit lecherous all of a sudden.


I think of the two, I prefer the alternate. In that version we delve straight into the characters (mostly hers) and the discussion, and the setting follows, which I think is more interesting as it creates mystery about the setting and the situation before that is revealed. I think it is a quicker way into the story, grabs the attention earlier in that first page. I’ve heard it somewhere that starting with dialogue is usually more effective (presumably for this reason).


I had some doubts about some of the punctuation, but all in all and like the style of the writing and I'm keen to read more.

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