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08/07/17 Paladar Chapter 3: Leaders 3588 Words


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I considered the feedback I received in my last two submissions and reordered my chapters.  I hope this one will answer some of the questions that 'Kitchen Duty' raised.  I tried keep to the necessities.   I am seekign any feedback you feel will help.  Thank you!

Since it's been a while, this is the chapter that preceded this one.

After rescuing a young brother and sister (changed from a sixteen year old girl) from the Raiders, L found his nephew and apprentice (P) unconcious.  Some of the briggands were killed, but many escaped.  After returning home to get pached up, L gets into an argument with his wife, and then with Petro's father, (M).   [Since submitting the this chapter, I've changed (P's) age to 15 bordering on 16. 


 In this chapter L is rustrated by these interactons and his innability to solve the mystery of the raiders. He goes to see the Vicar to report on his mission only to discover new problems and a complication.

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- Maybe this is part of the plot, but usually a sycophant isn't the one wielding the power in the first place.

- Flowing skirts don't sound by themselves to be necessarily cumbersome in battle. You might mention if they are thick, or particularly ornate, or something that would interfere with combat.

- I do like Landon's observation about the Vicar - and the lack of security.

- I'm intrigued by the possibility the enemy had inside help.

- Landar's reaction to war monuments being looted seems a bit much.

- I liked this chapter. A lot happened, and it was interesting to see the court politics with the Sub-Vicar. Definitely curious how the training goes from here.

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Wow, board is dead this week. Glad to see you around though, @M.Puddles!


There's good stuff in here, it's just consumed by a lot of wandering. I think this chapter needs a 'trim the fat' pass, cutting out at least half of the pages you submitted. I don't know enough yet about any of these characters, or the world, to care about them, and I didn't get really interested in the story here until about page 16. At that point I was interested, and would have happily read the next chapter. So, overall, heading in the right direction. Just needs some trimming.

As I go

- the firs page is pretty adjective heavy, leaning almost to purple

- page two: thoughts usually go in italics, just FYI

- page three: I guess that is what happens when you take part in more parades than battles. Without italics, it reads as a first person POV slip up instead of a thought, and that is very jarring

- same at the bottom of page three. You change tense, which you do in thoughts, but we don't know it is a thought, so it comes off as a tense fail

- page five: it's getting harder and harder not to skim, as nothing is really happening and all we are getting is description

- page eight: the vicar always using the name 'Paladar' gets pretty repetitive

- I think you could start this chapter from the top of page 16, and it wouldn't lose anything, and it would gain a great deal of flow and tension. 16 is where I start to get interested, and invested, in the story


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Thank you @rdpulfer and @kais.  Kais, i finished my critique on your chapter tonight, but it's still in word format.  I'll post it here tomorrow.  



I'm trying to figure out how to balance the feedback saying I have too much fat with my needs to worldbuild and introuduce imporant plot elements and settings.

 I'm trying to establish the locations that are goign to pop up over and over in the book.  In future chapters where the action is quicker, I dont' want to take time to remind the reader what these places look like.  I'm also trying to slip in the appearnce  of secondary characters early so that I don't pull them out of a hat when they do something important later on.  

In this chapter I included a few setting elements in this chapter that are important to the plot in book 2.  When you say you are only interested at P. 16 and I go back and see that it focuses on P and his training, I'm stumped.  This story isn't only about P.  He is one of two main protagonists, but 1/3 of the book won't discuss him or be about him at all.    This story is a trilogy and book one has 14 pov characters. It's a big fat fantasy.   I don't see that changing in the rewrite.  Although the first draft is 340,000 words, I hope to take the scond one to the 275 000 mark.  I want ot make the story as interesting as possible, but it is a story that builds momentum as it goes and I don't know how to reconcile this.  

I'm a bit perplexed right now. 


Edited by M.Puddles
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Congrats on taking the plunge for a rewrite! That's not an easy thing to do.

However, I agree with @kais and feel like this was more of a lateral shift.  I found it very difficult to stay engaged, and did not understand what the beginning of the chapter really had to do with then end of it. 


8 hours ago, M.Puddles said:

In this chapter I included a few setting elements in this chapter that are important to the plot in book 2

My first question here is why are you describing in book 1 something that's going to appear in book 2? We're in book 1: describe the thing to the extent it's needed in book 1 (even if that's just a quick 3-word mention in passing). When it's book 2, then go into the detail necessary for book 2. I guarantee you I will not remember details given in bk1 by the time I get to bk2. I barely remember if I've put on pants in the morning by the time lunch rolls around. It might feel repetitive to you, but putting info in when it's needed is a nice reminder for a reader. Same thing for characters. If they're not needed in bk1, then leave them as unnamed backgrounders. When it's their time to shine, then name them and describe them. Bk2 readers can go back and find those bk1 background easter eggs and be delighted, but bk1 readers don't need the additional info slowing down their introduction to your world. 

There's a bunch of guidance out there for doing rewrites. 

From Writing Excuses, there's the MICE idea. Here's s6ep10 that explains what it is: Mice Quotient Podcast (but they've talked a lot about this idea). It might be good to go through chapter-by-chapter and figure out what part of MICE each one is. Once you do that, then anything that's not germane to the MICE story structure becomes something that can be cut from the chapter. If a part is needed elsewhere, it can be added back in where it's needed. 

Author Holly Lisle has her How to Revise a Novel and One-Pass Manuscript Revision essays (these are also longer classes, but since they're not free I'm not going to link them here). I like Holly's classes because they are very clear and methodical. They come from the position that ANYone can write a good story, even if they're not supposedly the "creative type" or think they "don't know how to write." That said, she doesn't sugar-coat, doesn't try to be funny, and she doesn't pull punches. Even if you end up not following her methods, Holly always poses good questions to ask yourself about your work -- Is it necessary, does it matter, have I followed up on the promises I made? It's good stuff. 

For a more profane take, author Chuck Wendig has a goodly number of books and essays on the craft of writing and revising. The stuff available for free tends to be more generalist, but it's all solid, amusingly-written advice (for values of "amusing" that use curse words every other word. Just a heads up. I love him, but he's a pottymouth).  Here are a few:





His blog isn't tagged, unfortunately, but his essay collection ebooks aren't that expensive.

Most of all though, don't get discouraged! You're not alone. 


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Hey Matt, thanks for the explanation. I must admit I'm still a bit confused about the arc of the story, but, mostly, I can remember the chapter about the rescue and the bandits, and I remember it being effective, decent pacing, good level of excitement. On we go.

  • We forgot that those who feel power” – The epigraph kind of encapsulates one of the main issues I'm having. I don’t understand the setting, how the world works. Who is in power, why, how and what is the political / military context? It feels like a barrier between me and the setting, and not having the setting leaves me unsure of the grounding of the characters. Also, ‘feel’ seems weak to me. Surely, these people ‘have’ or ‘use’ power, or ‘abuse’ power, rather than just feeling it.
  • Visiting the temple always lifted his mood, even when on a day like today” – what about the day?
  • hawkers” – this word just makes me yawn, I think it’s a solid cliché of fantasy writing now. Sure, I’ve got some too in ‘Waifs and Strays’. The challenge is to do something different with them, or call them something different, have a complete absence of them, for some reason.
  • and fruit-bearing trees” – It’s not an apple with an orchard on its back ;)
  • two men positioned a hog on an outdoor.” – an outdoor what?
  • You don’t italicise the internal dialogue, which makes it harder to pick up. It needs to be differentiated visually from the narrative.
  • The smell of bread reminding him he has to eat? Meh. It’s a very familiar trope. I'm not sure it’s worth including if it’s only going to be a cursory reference.
  • and almost imperceptively imperceptibly shook his head” – not a word.
  • The woman whispered something again into Bepple's ear, bringing out an easy laugh” – She has already whispered once, so this sentence sounds like repetition, but it doesn’t acknowledge the first sentence. Could say ‘whispered something else’.
  • Also, “L grinned” – I don’t understand L’s emotional state, or where his emotions come from. He seemed to be reflective earlier on, suddenly he grins, but I don’t understand why.
  • Do you bite back a frown? I'm not sure you do, as a frown is not concentrated on the mouth.
  • Despite the impractical clothing, L saluted” – Why on earth would he consider not saluting them because of their clothing?
  • I’m finding some of the writing a bit awkward. Early days, I suppose, in that there will be further grammar and style passes, I would expect, but stuff like “To Landon, it looked strange to see a single scribe sitting at such a simple desk in an entryway as large, and magnificent as the temple. Despite the large construction, no other furniture adorned the big hall” – The description here is all about the size, but does convey any of the magnificence. I find the description kind of simplistic throughout. For me, that’s a missed opportunity, although some people like to go that way.
  • L grinned and took the steps two at a time” – Again, I don’t understand what he’s so chipper about. This makes him sound like a 15-year-old, imho.
  • Though many would find the Temple barren of warmth, L appreciated the austere style” – There are a fair few commas missing, like this one, there is a natural pause in the sentence right there, imho. I'm not going to start marking them all but “He wondered, not for the first time, how his Manor had become…
  • the look of readiness the man presented himself with” – There is wordiness in places. Directness pays dividends for the readability.
  • Th… says ‘Pal…’ twice in two consecutive sentences.
  • Th… nodded as though in agreement” – Again, directness. Why would there be any doubt that he was nodding in agreement?
  • a set of parchment in his hands” – Maybe a piece of parchment, or a set of parchments, but not this.
  • A Lord found this piece hidden away” – You say ‘this piece’ twice; it sounds awkward. Also, it’s just any old non-specific lord; it’s not capitalised unless your using the name, ‘Lord Smith’, for example. This instance is just the same as when you mention ‘vicar’ in the next paragraph, or ‘scribe’ earlier. But then you go on to capitalise ‘Vicar’. I have a real problem with this, as my tagline suggests!! When you spray capitals around like confetti, they become completely meaningless, even names start to look unimportant. Like any technique for stressing something, if you use it too much it becomes useless.
  • a glyph that looked remarkably similar to the tile floor he stood on” – I don’t remember there being a glyph on the tiled floor.
  • The vicar asked knowingly” – I don’t think you need this, I feel it’s redundant. The vicar’s words already convey the meaning. Let the reader deduce it from the context.
  • So. You see it?” – This is one sentence. “I've… I've seen nothing like this before” – so is this, or certainly the first part is not a complete one.
  • The Vicar sighed and motioned for Landon to take a seat in the chair” – redundant.
  • Forgot Tha was still there, but what does that add to the story? I feel like there is quite a bit of material in here that is either irrelevant or certainly uninteresting. The reader is engaged in the question over the tapestry, so this is a distraction. Could it be that it’s intended to be significant, that Tha might be a spy? I don’t get that impression.
  • The Vicar grinned” – I'm feeling now that this word is really overused. Why can’t the vicar just smile? Grinning is a whole other level, obviously, and starts to convey different emotions, not to mention affecting the tone.
  • But I digress.” – I don’t see that he was digressing – he was still discussing the symbols.
  • The Sue-Vicar's blunt question” – No, wait a minute. If this is the sue-vic, how would they address the actual Vicar? Would they call him ‘Vicar’ too? If ‘Vicar’ is intended to be a generic term of address, how can you capitalise it all the time? By calling the ‘sue vicar’ ‘Vicar’, he is being addressed at a higher level than he inhabits, surely?
  • Also, going from paragraph to paragraph in the same character’s dialogue, you drop the first set of inverted commas, because you are in the same speech and the dialogue isn’t finished. Personally, though, I would not start a new paragraph. They are still on the same subject, I think.

“Come, my son, we have a lot to discuss."

“From your expression…”

  • I hope that their absence will be noticed and lead us to the rest” – their absence from where? A bit unclear, I think.
  • lines of concern wrinkled above his brow” – I think there is confusion here between eyebrows, and forehead. To my mind, the brow singular applies to the forehead, as in the phrase, ‘his furrowed brow’, because it’s the forehead that has the furrows on it, not the eyebrows.
  • It…” he paused, uncertain” – Not a new sentence, it’s the second part of this one.
  • Sometimes leaders need to trust each other to say the things that need to be said” – I’m pretty much half way through the chapter, and this is the first comment that has really caught my interest. The golden rule of fiction, surely, is that you have to engage the reader from the start, whether that’s the start of the book, the start of the chapter, the start of the section; whatever. I reckon you could condense the first 10 pages of this chapter in maybe 3 or 4. We simply don’t need to follow every step of L’s journey from the gate of the temple through the garden through the entrance, up the stairs, through the vestibule. I think it would be worth seeking out WE podcasts tagged or entitled ‘In Late, Out Early’.
  • Landon swallowed the spit rising in his throat” – WebMD says ‘The glands that make saliva are called salivary glands. The salivary glands sit inside each cheek, at the bottom of your mouth, and near your front teeth by the jaw bone’ – So, I'm afraid the spit isn’t rising in L’s throat. In the spirit of tough love, I’ve got to say that this is not the first detail that seems to be just incorrect. These little facts are worth checking, I’ve certainly made assumptions and been corrected on them – that’s the joy of alpha reading (and receiving)!! :)
  • I’ve heard rumors that the estates CrestWatch are opulent” – unclear, do you mean the CrestWatch Estate is opulent? What is it, who owns it, why is it opulent. It’s hard sometimes to balance how much detail to provide, but dropping an unfamiliar name leads immediately to questions, I think.
  • Any purchases would be due to the Empire” – You would normally purchase ‘from’ someone. But pay ‘monies’ to them, I think.
  • Things get really choppy around this bit about the monuments. That change in subject is very sudden, then there are lots of paragraphs, but all in the same stream of thoughts from L – so not requiring all those paragraphs, methinks.
  • Wait, what? The sue-vicar raised the subject of the monuments, then tells L to forget it. That seems very awkward. The changed the subject, then dismissed it almost in two sentences.
  • If the thieves and brigands we are charged to stop are armed
  • It would put a lot of strain on the boy. He'd have no time for anything outside of chores, training, and service.” – In this section about the training, L comes across rather naïve at best. He knows how the system works, why on earth would he expect it to be brushed aside just because he gave his word? Also, this bit here about the boy having no time? Boo, hoo. Cry me a river. He’s lucky to have a job and an expert trainer. To me, this makes the boy sound cosseted and entitled.
  • The ending of the chapter doesn’t pack quite the punch that I would hope for, and I'm not entirely clear what L’s emotion or thought process is. I don’t quite get what he’s thinking.

Again, I think there are inconsistencies in tone, and some jumps in character internal logic. Various style issues mentioned above, but these things can be worked upon and refined over time and edits. The basic set up is decent but, for me, it’s just way too long, and gets bogged down in detail and lingering on things that don’t matter – I feel.

I try to think about what really happened in this chapter. One man goes to see another man, they talk. Okay, there were various things set up, and hints at other things. Some characters introduced, although apart from the two priests in the garden, not in a particularly interesting way for the others.

Stories and skills develop over time, and through constant and ongoing development. Do you listen to Writing Excuses? Have you been through the back issues of the podcast, or maybe watched Brandon’s writing class lectures, which are available online? I think based on the what I'm reading in your submissions, you would benefit from going through some of those things. Signing up for David Farland’s newsletter would be another course of action to consider.

I hope there is something useful in here. Good luck, and keep going, that’s the only medicine worth taking.


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WARNING: Tough love alert!! - This post contains more of the tough love in my last post (above). It is delivered with the best of intentions and respect for your desire to write this story, and generally to be a writer, which we all share (I'm sure) and are trying to discover and realise in ourselves.

On 10/08/2017 at 5:19 AM, M.Puddles said:

I'm a bit perplexed right now.

I know how you feel. At the end of the day, you have to tell the story that you want to tell, in the way you want to tell it. The thing is that other people might not find it entertaining. I started my first novel in 1984 and finished it in about 2002, it was 162,000 words, I edited it in 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2012 - it's now 224,000 words. I wrote it before I knew anything at all about writing other than through reading - i.e. basically copying what I read. After finishing the first draft, I started on the next book, and planned a trilogy - because that's what writers wrote - trilogies. Book 2 is at 100k words, and Book 3 is 46k, both unfinished.

My point is that, until I knew about the writing process through doing all of the things I mention above (podcasts, online courses, learning, etc.), I didn't really know what was I doing wrong or right - I was just writing. It's all good practice, but it doesn't mean it's going to be in any way publishable, or as good as you want it to be. I remember someone in the WE team saying in one cast that sometimes, you are just not a good enough writer to do what you are trying to do, and you need to go away and learn the skills before you can realise that project. It was Howard - I remember now - and he was speaking from the personal experience of not being a writer (at the time).

The longest Wheel of Time book is Shadow Rising at 394,000 words. The shortest volume of the Wheel of Time is Path of Daggers at 227k words (excluding New Spring, a mere 122k). Think of the detail, the richness, the description that goes into a work like that, which is dense enough, layered enough and deep enough to support the number of POVs it has. This is a brilliant website (http://wot.wikia.com/wiki/Statistical_analysis) which breaks down the books. Eye of the World 'only' has 6 POVs, I think, whereas that ramps up to 15 in The Great Hunt. Maybe you have the depth of world-building, or potential for it, to support such a vast array of characters but, honestly, I don't think your skill is at that level.

My suggestion, for what it's worth, is to consider elevating your skill by going through one or more learning processes, mentioned in may first post, but for ease of reference:

Then, why not practice your new skills on shorter pieces, novellas and novelettes, and submit them on here. This would give you shorter term practice in completing stories, full arcs, limited POVs, background, setting and character development, different tenses and voices - basically everything that you are trying to do, but in a more manageable way flexible and responsive way.

I suggest all of this, because I feel like it worked for me, and when you think about it, it's bound to be a quicker, more effective way to develop news skills than trying to manage a piece the size of a volume of Wheel of Time. Brandon and Dan often say in WE how their early writings were unpublishable, and abandoned for other projects. I'm not saying abandon this story, but come back to it emboldened and with new skills and perspective.

Most importantly, of course. Never, Give. Up. We're here for you, and will keep reading, critiquing and opining, whatever course you take.


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