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Messages - lethalfalcon

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Reading Excuses / Re: Email List + Submission Dates
« on: June 28, 2010, 09:00:27 PM »
I'm not getting Renoard's posts, but I have to disagree with his assessment of the situation. RE is not just an alias to TWG. is a 301 redirect to this forum; all the MX records point to google. A DNS check produces this:

Your MX records that were reported by your nameservers are:

1 (no glue)
5 (no glue)
5 (no glue)
10 (no glue)
10 (no glue)
10 (no glue)
10 (no glue)

Now, I don't generally give Google a lot of credit here (I really don't like them for anything but basic searches), but I'm pretty sure their system is set up right. They have millions of users, after all. I talked to Chaos about this, and got the forward for your email. It looks like your mail server tried contacting a Google server that is NOT hosting RE's records ( To me, this looks like either has stale DNS records, or they're getting magical data that's grossly wrong. Either way, it's not anything on RE's side.

Also, the system RE is using is just an alias redirect to send out to all addresses on the list. It is not a true listserv.

Usually, you would show it through the eyes and actions of the other characters. Maybe the city has festivals to honor her (and you would have to make it look like they're really honoring her, not just doing it out of fear). Or, they would just praise her in their daily lives. Since she's locked herself in the tower, though, things get more difficult. She appears to be evil, and her subjects no longer see her, so they think maybe she doesn't care about them. If she does really care about them, you're going to have to do more revealing as to why she's turned into a recluse. When a ruler doesn't show him/herself to the people, the people just innately dislike the ruler.

You could always have a main character contrast what the city was like before everything hit the fan, but with most of them leaving, that could be rather hard, too.

When I said fleshed out, I meant that that particular viewpoint doesn't really have a whole lot going on. Showing  a few people meeting and plans made is good and all, but all it does is give away the other side's plans too early. It seems like what you want to do is get Felix to open up to Sareneth, yes? And I'd imagine that'll happen throughout the story. So just get on to that. It's like you're starting the scenes in the wrong places, which puts emphasis on the wrong things, and doesn't give us enough to latch onto for the character (and yes, it does seem like I didn't finish the sentence I had started. Sorry, got distracted).

The reason why I don't like seeing overlords as active roles is that they're usually the driving force behind a side. If you see them making the decisions, you know what's going to happen. You have no mystery surrounding the why and the how of that side. For instance, I already know that the Queen is toying with the magistrate. That pretty much ruins the arc for me, since I have little doubt that he's eventually going to get the ax. There's the little bit about not knowing why she's keeping him around, but it's just not enough. If she remains hidden from view, you gain a lot more questions that the reader wants to find out by reading the book. Of course, the Arbitrators themselves seem very powerful, so I might have a problem with that later on, too. Powerful characters are just very difficult to make believable in active roles because they should have the power to get out of most situations very easily, so if they don't, I wonder how they got this powerful to begin with.

Hrm, apparently you're not being serviced by very many people. I'll fix that. I have all sorts of people in my head, right guys? *resounding "RIGHT!" echoes in my head*

Ahem. Well, I'm going to counter Asmodemon's praise for the prologue. It really does nothing for me. All I get is "Oh boy, a giant chess game with people has started." I will agree that it could be modified a bit to be the jacket synopsis or something, though. Also, I get this impression that these people are behind-the-scenes types from the prologue, but then in Chapter 1 there's the Queen, taking an active role in your story.

For chapter 1, yes, you have too many viewpoints. My personal limit has always been 2 to a chapter, and only then if there is some reason that I need to show multiple POVs at the exact same point in time. So, for each:

Adam's mostly useless, here. His little battle is cool, but doesn't do much except introduce how the Auroks work. I know he has an examination coming up tomorrow, but I could just as easily find out about that after. It's not a good enough hook.

Eshra's POV Is definitely the most gripping. You get the feeling that things are going south real quick. That's great. Like Asmodemon also stated, the meeting would be a good place to start. I don't think we really care much about the council meeting, but the little side meeting with the magistrate... now that'd be gold to start out with. Start right out with him threatening Eshra.

The kinky little bit with Felix... well, I think it needs to be a lot more fleshed out (oh the pun!). Of course I'm not talking about the Maybe make that the focus of the next chapter? Looking at the synopsis of your next chapter, it looks like you're doing multi-pov again, so... maybe take the characters out of the two chapters and put them together, one POV per chapter? Dunno, I'll look at the next chapter in a bit. I'm not too fond of having one of the uber characters have an active role in the story, either, but I'll wait until later to judge on that. If you're going to focus on the relationship between Felix and Sareneth, then do so. The queen... meh.

All in all, I didn't have much problem with the actual writing. I do think you have a few too many things starting with Tri-. Trinian, Tristen, Trinar.... You need to change at least one of those, if not two.  You also have this problem with giving visual description at the wrong times. Like this:
Felix rolled his amber eyes.  Tristen was always itching to give his soldiers some action.  He was a tall and slender man with curly dark hair and pale eyes.
You need to introduce the information about Tristen's build in a better way. Spread it out, or give indirect indications (Felix gazed up into his pale eyes). Right now it's just dropped there.

Onward to Chapter 2. Keep it up. :)

Reading Excuses / Re: June 23 - Silk - Fall, Stars, Fall - L
« on: June 24, 2010, 07:19:01 AM »
My my my, two days late, eleven thousand words... you're just breaking all the rules. You deserve a sound talking to... okay, I'm done.

I'll be honest, my first thoughts as I was reading this were ones of "oh no, nothing's happening. Please don't give me this much to read with nothing going on." But then I remembered that you're one of those silly people that likes short stories. This definitely isn't novel material. Not that you couldn't do more with it, but the way it is now is definitely short story-ish.

With that in mind, it went a little better. Yes, very little outwardly happens. You build up a lot of characterization with Aryl and Janna, though,  and show a lot of internal conflict. These are weak points in my own writing, so I really can't be certain if it's truly good or not, but it certainly sounded good.

Your setting ain't all that bad, either. It was a little rough visualizing some of it (the entire city is a bit foggy in my head, although individual parts of it stand out better), but then again, most people wouldn't spend a lot of time doting on the city they lived in, even if they were transforming it into something much better. Still, it could be good to give a few more visual cues as to how much things have really changed.

One of the bigger problems I have is that some of your "sections" go a long time without me knowing exactly whose section it is--Janna's or Aryl's. The second section of both Aryl and Janna (Janna moreso) are troublesome, since it goes almost a page each time before "she" is given a name. Most of the rest are fine.

Your writing is very... stylized. There are a lot of sentence fragments, which I would normally get after someone for. However, I know you're capable of speaking in complete sentences, so I instead took it as a more personal inside-the-head-of-the-character type of narrative. People think in fragments all the time. So, not really a problem, except there were a few places it made reading a little bumpy. Those have been noted in the line-edits.

Overall, it's an interesting story. I would certainly have liked to see more external conflict... maybe more of the resistance that was mentioned, or perhaps some uppity sailor who didn't like the cut of their jib... it would have been interesting to see how someone like Aryl or Janna handled the situation. I guess I'm looking for it because it just reminds me of my own life: too much responsibility, no time to myself, etc. I envy Aryl. :P

Reading Excuses / Re: Email List + Submission Dates
« on: June 21, 2010, 08:41:47 PM »
I haven't received anything from anyone this week either. Sounds like something is broken at Google (hey, it's still beta, right?).

Reading Excuses / Re: Progress and Submission Reports
« on: June 15, 2010, 06:02:11 AM »
So... okay, apparently, while having another of my wonderful (not) restful naps (I don't really sleep, merely nap, considering they don't last, and I'm such a light sleeper that pin drops awaken me), my mind decided to add a huge chunk of flesh to the skeleton of a story. Is it one I was already working on? Of *course* not!

And what do I do? Write? Foolish mortal, how boring that would be. No no no, instead, I spend upteen hours *modeling* one of the characters. So, I give you, in its mostly complete rough form, T'Garin.

His real name is Tarynissigarin, which roughly translates to "the sky's reflection" (literally, "sky's clone of color"). His mate, Aramel (Arameldrith), will come later, once I get wings and more features on T'Garin. They're about lion-sized, so pretty much unable to ride (I suppose a small child could do so, but they don't and won't; the added weight would make it very difficult besides).

I'm very slowly progressing on Heartglass. The next chapter would probably be done if I actually sat down and worked on it for more than 10 minutes at a time. But DRAGONS!  (it's my oooh-shiny). I'm a bit torn, because this new story would be far more... exciting to me, but honestly, I'm a little scared of actually writing it. Dragons are also a very touchy subject around me; if they aren't done right, they absolutely suck, and I don't want my precious imaginary animals sullied. So, am I up to it? Dunno. Heartglass I have a lot more of the actual story down, too. With this other one, it's more like a lot of scenes, and one main arc.

And then there's my work. Ever present, and very needy. If only I could count code, I'd be a published author in no time. :P

Reading Excuses / Re: A couple of notes on formatting
« on: June 14, 2010, 03:34:12 AM »
Actually the wordpad in Windows 7 at least can open .docx, as can Openoffice, which is free for everyone (permission to install notwithstanding).

I usually don't have a problem with RTF files (in Linux, using, until the other person's exporter munges it. Textedit on OS X should read .rtf just fine, too (although maybe not some of the newest crap Microsoft decided the format needed). It's supposed to be a very stable format, and it's human readable if you don't mind a bunch of control codes in the way. Of course, MS often likes to change things just to slow competitors down, and this format is certainly no stranger to this concept. So, .doc is easier, because its support is practically guaranteed by just about any OS in some way.

I wouldn't even have a problem with straight .txt files, as long as they didn't want any real formatting. Just double enter for each paragraph and I'm good to go. I'll just open it in OO and save it as .doc so I can enter notes.

This original thread came up because of  recent non-standard submissions.  I think the overwhelming response is "We'd prefer you send us things in .doc format, because practically anyone *can* read it. We don't care what you write it in, since there are a lot of different solutions to that. And please name your email title and document using a standard convention, which is actually listed in the rules for this board." Anything else in this thread is just a bunch of "well, my way of doing things is..." which only helps someone else if they're interested in a potentially better way to write their stuff. Oh yeah, and all of our technical knowledge about why things suck. :)

Reading Excuses / Re: A couple of notes on formatting
« on: June 13, 2010, 11:23:46 PM »
That markup system hasn't been used since the days of the typewriter. We should all have editors that can do .doc files, so you can (and should) use the real thing (italics, underlining, etc.).

Also, double dashes are considered an em dash, which is exactly what you should be using for  parenthetical notation, provided you can't use an actual em dash. Word and Openoffice auto-replace it automatically, provided you're using a closed set (no spaces). If you use spaces between, it becomes an en dash instead.

Reading Excuses / Re: March 16 - lethalfalcon - Heartglass - Prologue
« on: June 01, 2010, 05:44:17 PM »
Unfortunately, if I took your stance on not submitting things that aren't finished, I'd never submit anything. I work a lot (60+ hour weeks are not uncommon), and then I have the full-time job of taking care of my house by myself. On top of that, I tend to get stuck on things, because I'm such a perfectionist. Let's put it this way: I'm about 200 words into the next chapter on it, and I have *not*gone back to edit this one, nor have I worked on anything else. I've also only ever finished one work, and that died off around the 50k mark, with the intent to rewrite it in 3rd person eventually (which would have added enough to get it to novel length). Then I realized that the basic prose felt like a Xanth novel, and I put it down because I'd have to rewrite the whole thing to remove it. So, I cut out the magic system, revised it, and have yet to stick it back into something.

Not going back and revising is an issue of self-control, though. After getting the feedback from this, I went back and marked several places where I will edit things. Then I moved on. The reason I would not want to wait until I was done is that an issue with tone would end up having to be changed in *every* chapter after it was noticed; the earlier it is found, the better, because then I can change. I tend to write in discovery mode; I have an overarching plot, but almost everything between is still fluid.  I also tend not to do things like outlines, or keep notes, or such. My brain has done a good job of keeping track of things so far, so I'll let it continue.

It's nice to know that there's a writing group in Logan. At this time I'd be hesitant to pay for it, though, as my amount of contribution would likely not be worth the money.

Reading Excuses / Re: Email List + Submission Dates
« on: May 30, 2010, 09:42:31 PM »
Yeah, and a lot of the new blood around here hasn't been, because she's still stuck in January. :)

Reading Excuses / Re: A couple of notes on formatting
« on: May 29, 2010, 11:51:22 AM »
Honestly, I'd almost prefer to *write* in LaTeX, because I can do much more than I ever could in .doc. If only I could just send you .tex files.

I write most of my stuff in a text editor very similar to what this forum's post system has. It supports pretty much anything that HTML allows, and it does so visually (it doesn't use bbcode). If I really wanted to, I could even throw in LaTeX if I had a formula that I just *had* to get in (you know, for all those crazy magic integrals). I used to work with LaTeX formatting college-level science textbooks, so I don't

It's also stored on my server, which has a very good chance of surviving anything short of the entire state of Utah exploding (between the live copy in Salt Lake and the backups in Logan). On top of that, it supports revision control, so I can even go back and look at previous versions if I want to.

If I could manage to find the time to finish it, I think it would be a very great method to resolve this entire problem, by creating a common interface for people to use. Hell, I could even support Ulysses' input methods alongside the default one. Multiple interfaces is just a matter of conversion. The backend stores it as valid XHTML to make it easier to display, but two-way conversion is easy (since it's valid). As it is, you can copy and paste directly from word,, and wordpad already, and it preserves all the formatting it can (which is pretty much everything). is actually semantic in nature, if you actually use the styles instead of just increasing font sizes for headers. In your article, you specifically say that HTML wouldn't be good for writing stories. I'd beg to differ, but then again, I can write it in my sleep. Converting from HTML to PDF and RTF is easy. Word's .doc format is a little more difficult because Microsoft likes it that way, but you could use the new XML-based word files pretty easily (since it's practically HTML to start). Openoffice has a command line utility to change files to .odt, or there are classes written in PHP to do the job as well. LaTeX... well, anything can be represented in that, if you have the ambition.

I feel the same way you do, though. I develop web sites for a living, so I'm *very* familiar with semantical systems. Every page I write is valid XHTML. Any and all display is controlled by CSS. I can't stand people who just throw everything into tables and put font tags all over the place. :)

It does seem like this thread has gone on a bit of a tangent. Guess it's back to work for me. :)

Reading Excuses / Re: A couple of notes on formatting
« on: May 28, 2010, 10:40:39 PM »
Just to chime in here (didn't notice this thread had gotten responses):

The reason *I* download the actual files and store them is because you can't add line-edits otherwise. Well, sure, you *can* (although my email client opens any file read-only, so technically I can't anyway), but then you can't save it to email it back to the person. And then I keep the files around, just in case someone wants to question an edit in the future. It also lets me go back to the earlier version when someone asks "Did the changes I made help?" So being able to pull up the old version with my edits, to refresh me on what I was thinking the first time I reviewed it, can be very helpful (and yes, I *technically* could pull up my Sent folder, find the person, and pull the file from there, but hey, I'm a digital pack-rat, and not all people may keep their Sent history like I do).

I could care less about how the files look on my server, as long as your email subject lines say the working title  and part name/number. I can run sorts and filters and searches galore to find certain people if I need to.

I think the real issue here is that rules (no matter how loosely defined) are still rules, and it's only common courtesy to follow them.

As per the document format discussion, .doc files are  supported with Wordpad in Windows Vista and later, so it almost should be the common denominator. Yes, RTF can work, except some people get mangled RTF output when they try to save it as such, and it's worse than no formatting at all. Plain text is just not an option for people-- most people don't even remember the days when you formatted text by doing things like /italics/ and *bold* and _underline_. Not to mention the fact that you can't set line spacing with .txt files. I send all my line-edits back in .doc format, with the notion that if someone really can't read it, they'll let me know. I have yet to receive any complaints.

So that's my 2 cents for today... man, I need to quit spending so much money.

Reading Excuses / Re: May 24 - Justice1337 - TheodoraExcerpt
« on: May 28, 2010, 10:25:01 PM »
I'd say, based on a lot of the things she notices/comments on (mode of dress, the queen's... scent, and so on) that she thinks more femininely... but then again, I'm probably not the best judge of character. I'd say to ask one of the resident female critics, but they seem to have either fallen off the face of the planet or are quite a bit behind due to the more pressing concerns of real life.

Honestly, I wouldn't worry too much about her internal tone at this point. Tell your story first, then revisit whether she's girly enough for the masses.

Reading Excuses / Re: May 24 - Justice1337 - TheodoraExcerpt
« on: May 27, 2010, 09:29:43 AM »
Zealous, eh? I can probably do that one.

For the most part, I did not have a problem with the characters. They were distinct, and they felt like they actually had personality (annoying ones, mostly). Of course, I'm horrible with characters, as everyone else has pointed out to me in the past, so grains of salt are necessary.

I had a problem with two major points. First, going into so much detail about the Kingdom and Thomas' past right away. Yes, it was quite telly. I understand that you want to give the reader some understanding about things so that when your other main character goes and mucks it all up, the reader will know that. I don't have a problem with that. It's all about your delivery. You lament about Thomas' past off and on for about three pages. Would Theodora really be thinking about all that at this time? I'd wager that, since she's been around for at least a little bit, she wouldn't care much anymore, so you really are just telling us for our sake. I would suggest showing as it becomes relevant. The part about him and flutes, that's good to show here, where there's music. The parts about the process of choosing kings and such? Not so much right here.

Second, I have a problem with the beginning. Usually, when you introduce a new character, you have a sort of mini-hook to get the reader interested (or detesting) that character. You can show off one of their skills, or put them in a dangerous situation, or something. You have her just sitting around, listening to some music and trading banter with the King. To me, this indicates a bit of a boring character, which makes me want to skim through her sections. Honestly, when I read the first sentence, I was hoping that somehow the music was going to be special (magic, or perhaps some eerie Twilight Zone stuff, or perhaps even a lonely person singing about their love that they'd lost and the MC was just hearing in). Instead it's just a performance. Sigh. And then a thief, who goes through a "trial", only to be butchered in a completely one-sided battle. The justice system doesn't bother me at all, really; it's the fact that nothing really happens to the character you're trying to introduce other than being pestered by the whiny Queen. If her conflict revolves solely around domestic disputes, I'm going to find it very hard not to start skimming her chapters looking for the words "died in a catfight" so I can celebrate. :)

The ending... it seems to just trail off, too. I like her wit, but why end it right there? What about the harlotry charge? That seems to have been thrown in the background... ironically, I'd be more interested in how *that* trial went, given that the King seems to have a bit of a problem in that area--at least, that's the impression I got.

Don't get me wrong, this is certainly not bad writing. Your sentences flow pretty well, you have some good description... I just don't feel much actual story in it (which Chaos has already commented on, looking back through the comments). Keep it up, though. I'll keep reading. :)

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