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Messages - lethalfalcon

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Reading Excuses / Re: May 24th-Drew P- Untitled Prologue
« on: May 27, 2010, 08:51:51 AM »
Alright, new blood. Hooray!

Okay, if I were to sum this up in a single word, it would be... charismatic.

I suppose I should explain now, eh? The piece drums loud the sights and sounds of the scene. The crowd's volume is mentioned several times. The changes in light are brought forth... you really work on the senses a lot. It's like you're trying to make the scene come alive in our minds with vivid clarity (and coming from me, who most people around here will attest to being ripped on for unclear scenes, that's something). I love it!

But then it falls a little short of the goal. Very little actually *happens*. The whole 6 pages are: he walks to the alter, the herald rattles off some stuff (the vast majority we don't get to hear), and then Martee dies. Hrm. Now, as a hook, the only thing for me to really find out is *why* the guy just got the axe. This doesn't bode well, unless you're going for one of those books where the prologue is the ending, and the first chapter starts with "One year prior..." The reason is that the information is going to be passed by other characters who are likely biased. So we'll hear from person A that he died because he was an evil man. Well, was he really? We have no clue. For some, that might be a good enough hook, but for me, that's definitely a secondary story arc. Something bigger had better be happening.

You mention that this is actually important for the boy. That's good and all, but (and I hate to say this) I think it might be better if this were a flashback from the boy's perspective. The reason I feel this way is because then you can tie it to the relevance it actually has with the boy. You can show how it affects his life better, which is critical if he's a main character.

The only other problem I have (and this might just be personal preference) is that your language use dips a bit into fancy/archaic styling. Things like
The Hanu held secrets the Endari knew not.
are an example. Now, I'm not too concerned with this as long as that's what you're going for, but it *does* slow my reading down a little bit.

So, TL;DR: Scene is very vivid, but needs more happening. Welcome to the group, and I hope to see more from you. :)

Reading Excuses / Re: Tofu, the awesome reader app
« on: May 17, 2010, 06:05:55 AM »
What I do is just set two pages side-by-side, and the pages fill my screen. Then it's just like reading a book to me. Of course, I'm probably the only one in the group with a laptop sporting a 1920x1200 resolution display. I even have enough room to fit a column of notes.

Or, sometimes, I'll actually print it out on that dead tree stuff, and take Mr. Red Pen to it. I like that the best, but it tends to get expensive when people submit 7k chapters. :P

Reading Excuses / Re: Email List + Submission Dates
« on: May 17, 2010, 05:10:45 AM »
So, three people this week? Oh boys, more stuff!

Reading Excuses / Re: May 10 - The Sword of Worlds CH 25 - Kail
« on: May 14, 2010, 09:08:01 AM »
I'll admit I haven't read the whole thing. I didn't even join until you were around chapter 18 or so... But I will say this; you really don't want people hating your protagonists. At least, not in the way that I'm coming to dislike Kail. I have no problem with cocky characters, nor ones who kill out of necessity, nor even ones who are *good* at killing and somewhat enjoy it (as long as there's a purpose, like an assassin). Him wasting people because they hurt Ellie--that's a *good* reason, in my opinion. Him kicking someone while they're down (figuratively or literally)... not so much. Of course, if he feels no remorse for what he's done... well, that shifts him a little bit into the realm of unlikable. Perhaps this has been told in one of your earlier chapters already, perhaps not... but *why* does he feel no remorse? Was he abused as a child or something? Or is he really just psychopathic?

Also, I know Kajsa is a little... ambitious in that realm, too, but would she *want* him to be a heartless bastard? Okay, he loves her, but would she be fine with him hating the whole rest of the world, so they can go off and be bitter together?

Splitting the chapter in two (to put the "beginning of the prophesy" and its resolution in separate chapters) might help, but do you really want to bore yourself and us with 20 pages of explanation on him figuring out the glow? I mean, yes, that should take more time... but I'm not sure you want a blow-by-blow account of him puzzling it through. Maybe Daddy can suspend the hearing due to janitorial work, giving Kail some time to discover a way (maybe he actually has to *do* something besides just pull it out, like, draw the glyph around the sword, or activate an ability, or *something*) to prove his worth. And it takes some time. After all, he knows very little about the glyphs besides Kajsa's little lesson (which could be some foreshadowing in and of itself). It could also allow him to come to terms with what he is--the Godslayer.

Or maybe there is a more long-standing prophecy that the trolls have to prove him "better than all the trolls in the mountain" besides Kajsa's sword. I mean, it's not really much of a prophecy when it begins and ends within a day (or 2 minutes, the way it's written now). Shouldn't there be something like one of those "There shall come a time, when a man not of this world shall rend the very mountain we live in, shake the foundation of our society to its very core, and then bind us together stronger than ever" prophecies that's oh, a millennium or so old? Especially given how long-lived trolls are to begin with. Do trolls have seers, or prophets, or anything like that? Or, another possibility would be something wrong that none of the trolls have been able to fix. Then, when Kail is able to fix it, tada. Greater than all the trolls. I understand that you want to use Kajsa's sword because it's the idea that her grandmother(?) told her about, but her grandmother could always tell her about something else instead.

I think another problem I have with the whole sword-in-the-stone issue is the trolls' perception when he pulls it out. "Well, she just keyed its release to him because she loves him," I say, sowing even more seeds of doubt in the minds of the trolls. As her father, I'd *especially* think that, given how he knows her feelings toward Kail. So how is this supposed to prove that he's greater than all the trolls? Honestly, I think it needs to *not* involve the two of them, otherwise, the perception is going to be skewed.

I really didn't have a problem with the way you ended chapter 23 and how you began chapter 25. The unreliable narrator works great in that sense. Since you're in first person, you have to show it through the eyes of the character at focus. Kajsa believes one thing, but that doesn't make it the truth. The reality is quite different, as chapter 25 shows.

Sorry for another wall of text. Hopefully you're getting something from this besides my ranting. :P

Reading Excuses / Re: May 10 - The Sword of Worlds CH 25 - Kail
« on: May 13, 2010, 06:13:48 PM »
I'll have to agree with Cynic, here. If someone were to come after your family, you'd very likely enter what he refers to as "blinding rage". No one hurts your family and gets away with it. Now, if Kail were to go postal for a reason, that's the one I'd probably choose (Kajsa is directly his family, which he just found out), but the way it's written does not jive with that. He makes a conscious choice to go kick the crap out of Reginn. Sure, he's mad, but the level of anger doesn't really seem to cloud his judgment (he acts more like a paladin or knight at that moment). He should be able to consciously know when Reginn is down and out and stop, unless he *wants* to continue (which is the lack of conscience).

Maybe she's one of those really stocky cooks who wields cast-iron skillets like flyswatters. :)

Psh, 8k is nothing to me. I did the whole double-read, post, and some research into musket weapons (it's been awhile since I've used one, so I wanted to make sure I remembered everything correctly) in about an hour. You'd have to give me something around 30k for me to start complaining about length. :P

I suppose if it's an actual blunderbuss-like weapon, then yes, it could have grapeshot. Those things are freakin' huge. Of course, to see a woman handling one would be somewhat comical, when it knocked her on her butt.

I hate to put this so bluntly, but I like this a lot more than The Name of God. Probably because in this, something exciting happened without me having to read so much backstory.

It's still a little rough, but the line-edits will hopefully point out most of the spelling errors.

Okay, so what you have here is a bit of DBZ (low population race that has "stages") mixed with blood magic (exploding blood that grants the user power). The concept of boiling your blood to gain power seems intriguing, though. For the most part, I like it, although I'd need to read more to see its full potential.

To answer your questions...:

1) I think in order for us to get behind him more, we have to know a little more about the stakes. How would Vanessa use this sword that he lost to destroy the world? If he's saving the world, I need to know from what, or I just think he's delusional. Having him go up against a Judge at the end (your version of a paladin, methinks) who tells Dariel that he killed the Ambassador because of a stupid misunderstanding isn't helping his cause, though. Even more reason to show that even that loss of life was necessary (at least in Dariel's eyes) because of how important this sword is.

2) To make the magic more interesting, I think you need to cut out some of the technicality. It doesn't feel like magic. It feels mechanical (especially when you start referring to things as "stages"). I noted that it feels a bit like DBZ. Might want to modify how you express his changes. Hair color? Super Saiyan all the way. I like the whole "blood boiling and coming out of his orifices" bit. That's cool. The Judge's magic I'd be more interested in, but you're not really in a position to explain it better when you're in Dariel's POV. As it is, you get a little telly when you have the Judge ask Dariel if he understands his power. If they were friends, and had fought before, he should already know, and it's a stupid question to ask in the middle of battle. Speaking of which, why is he always referred to as "the Judge"? I'm sure he would have a name, but Tergal's name (is that his last or first name?) is only mentioned once in the whole piece. Dariel never says it, which feels a little odd to me. I'd expect to see something like "Tergal, you must return the sword to me." (saying someone's name adds emphasis)

3) This one I'm not so sure about. Parkour is really cool to watch, and quite a bit less interesting to read. I think in order for it to work, you need to provide a very vivid picture that people can mentally visualize. Otherwise, people are apt to skim past it to get to the stabbity-stabbity.

And now we return to my regularly scheduled rants and ravings.

You refer to the guns as "locks". Are these matchlock, flintlock, or something else? Judging by the fact that Dariel seems to think that the powder will get wet (and not the match wick), I'd say flint. However, flintlock rifles are pretty closed systems. Water won't really affect an already loaded gun unless they point the barrel to the sky and let the rain fill it. I suppose it could affect the powder at their belts, but that was usually stored in pretty watertight containers (people figured out really quickly that waterlogged gunpowder was useless and took measures to keep that from happening).

At any rate, any lead ball rifle is usually not going to have an issue with the ball falling out (even less so if it's rifled). There's a reason why you need a ramrod. After you put the powder in, you put the ball in. The ball is often wrapped with a patch (usually just paper). That packs the ball against the bore, and the friction keeps the ball in and the powder tight. Try getting a ball out that you dry-balled (forgot to put the powder in). It's fun. I suppose you can load a musket without a patch, but you're going to lose a lot of velocity if the ball is just freeloading in the powder, and you're also not going to have a very good firing chamber (in fact, you could easily get backfire because the blast would shoot back out of the firing pan). Also, grape shot is generally noted as being the term used for a cannon-sized muzzle-loaded shot round, and I doubt the woman was carrying a cannon (the individual pieces were the size of grapes). What you're looking for is either just "shot", or buck and ball (which is a combination of a ball with some large shot). You could also, in a pinch, load a 'lock with shrapnel and shoot that, too. Nasty mess that made to whatever was on the receiving end.

I suppose I can rip on you for something I just got ripped on myself. This doesn't feel like a prologue. It feels like a chapter 1. But I'm sure you feel about the same way regarding that as I do (who cares). :)

I didn't have too much problem following the scene in my head, either. That's good. I had to read over some of the combat scenes a couple of times to make sure it was right to me, but I didn't notice any glaring issues. I have to say that I'd much rather read more of this than Name of God. Can you continue this one? :P

Reading Excuses / Re: May 10 - The Sword of Worlds CH 25 - Kail
« on: May 11, 2010, 01:02:32 AM »
Alright, time to give you another round of my ol' bashing. :)

The writing itself... bothers me a little less when more is happening, because I tend to overlook pronouns and don't notice first vs. third person as much (and I still like 3rd a lot better, but to each his own). I'm not going to not review simply based on the fact that I dislike the frame of reference. There's still quite a few issues with flow, but those are more line-level. I'll get those to you.

I think my biggest problem (and I notice things like this more when I read multiple chapters from you at once, as I did today) is that Kail's personality seems a bit flaky. I keep getting this badass, sarcastic, cocky SOB attitude from him, which is fine. He's essentially me, thrown into a story. However, I keep seeing him get afraid of things. Now, I don't know about you, but when I hear that I have power over everything (chapter 23), I don't get all wide-eyed and wet my pants when I hear that I have to defeat someone who supposedly has less power than me, or when I see that I have to pull a sword out of the stone that just cooked a troll. I'm a Godslayer, right? The least I can do is fulfill some lousy sword-in-the-stone prophecy on the side. I wouldn't even think twice about it. But I know that he feels some fear, even if he's surpressing it.
Fear nothing, Id promised.
He also stops for a second before fully approaching the sword, which usually indicates hesitation from caution. But why? He's certainly not cautious when confronting Kajsa's father, nor when he rips Reginn a new one.

Also, I'm a little iffy on the whole sword-in-the-stone bit. The whole rest of the chapter after that is telegraphed. After all of your other misdirections and plot twists, it's a bit of a letdown. :P The *second* she threw the sword, I was like "Oh, he's going to pull it out". Tada!

I do find it a little humorous that Brose says "And so the prophecy begins" about 30 seconds before it ends. I see in my head this big monster with James Earl Jones' voice (Mufasa, Lion King) starting to narrate "And so for many ages the sword sat... HEY! What the hell are you doing ruining my story!" as Kail pulls the sword out.

One other thing that bothered me a little was the amount of description you put into Reginn... twice. In chapter 23 Kajsa sees him, and you describe him rather well then. In 25, you go through the whole routine again. I'm not sure it's necessary, except where he's thinking about what he'll do (holding the horns and kneeing his face, for instance).

Since I'm not completely heartless (yet), I'll tell you that I generally enjoy your character interactions. You have good situations (Kajsa deceiving Kail into becoming her husband, him saving her, the trolls being complete jerks, etc.), and for the most part your plot twists keep the story fresh (until the second half of this chapter). I guess we'll see what the future brings. Now I'm off to sacrifice small children to Cthulu.

Um... you can probably skip those. Chapter 2 was a mess, and the prologue is already 2/3 rewritten. :P I'll let you think I'm a halfway decent writer for now, whereas reading those will make you wonder whether this chapter is a fluke.

As far as the chapter #, I'm not really all that concerned about it. If that was your only problem, run "chapter = chapter+1) on it and call it good. :) I understand where people are coming from with regards to it, and I'm not sure whether I'll have one of those scenes or not. If not, I'll change the prologue to chapter 1.

Texture... might be a bit harder, honestly. James really did get thrown into this (for reasons you'll find out later), and he's still adjusting. Now he's already getting thrown into more situations, without having a clue why. Setting I can do. The greater sense of importance, I'm not so sure about. The piece of heartglass is extremely important, but I don't know how to convey that much more without him saying something like "you are the universe's only hope, James". :P

The default state of a prison is isolation and containment. However, the reason for that is due to ease of control; if they can't go anywhere or do anything, they can't be a problem. However, this prison is an entire planet. Moreso, it's deep inside the planet. There are no ways out except through the choke-points of the prison structure itself. My idea is this: they're in for the long haul (essentially, life without parole). The prisoners here have a choice; they can work in the mines, and enjoy a "reasonable" existence, or they can be belligerent and go to isolation. Most people would choose the former. There is, for all intents and purposes, an entire self-contained society in the prison. I would probably compare it to how the British colonized Australia. I tried to show a little bit of that in this chapter, but didn't want to drone on about the whole system, which James wouldn't necessarily care about.

Thanks for the critique, though. I'm really trying to get the next chapter done, but my need for money has dictated that I work more to get it. :(

Reading Excuses / Re: Email List + Submission Dates
« on: May 04, 2010, 07:51:40 AM »
Given that several people don't submit on Monday already, I'm not really sure it means much to say "submissions are on Monday". I *do* think it's better to have submissions around the same time, because then if we ever did get busy, we could say "okay, only 5 people can submit this week". If we went to a first-come, first-serve system, then the people who submit on Sunday would get preferential treatment, and the late comers would get annoyed that they could never submit.

Of course, given that right now there's one or two per week, as Silk said, just notify that you have something done, and more than likely there won't be any problem with you sending it mid-week. We really don't want to deny you just because it isn't Monday.

Reading Excuses / Re: Email List + Submission Dates
« on: May 04, 2010, 12:23:13 AM »
I don't see a problem. :)

So, if the memories work that way, would someone with an Eidetic memory just have a sick amount of power? I know that the majority of my memories are *very* vivid, so would forgetting all those fun videos in my head give me god-mode powers?

Also, the Earth is very few objects, such that if I destroy the ground (a whole tectonic plate, for instance), the rest of the world is kinda screwed. :)

I don't really have a problem with Forging as a magic system. I'm just trying to poke holes in it (which *is* something I'm pretty good at--comes from my very logical programming mind).

As far as the story focus, I suppose you're doing a very good job. However, character biographies are not very popular with most groups, and that's essentially what you're writing. We all grew up (for the most part), so we all know how it's like. Throwing in an alien world is only marginally more exciting. I need a bit more plot to look forward to in the early part of the book. Otherwise, I'm likely to skip to the second section in hopes that something more interesting has developed.

I don't necessarily have a problem with needing to directly see a memory in writing to understand that when they forget it, they had to have had the memory to begin with. It's (usually) assumed that you, as the author, are making the characters behave in a way that doesn't break continuity.

That said, for those *really* important memories, why can't you use a different way to show that he's forgotten? I see two easily done possibilities.

First, have a very short flashback showing him *remembering* the memory that he's about to forget. I wouldn't overuse this, but for really important things, it makes sense that he would have thoughts about the memory when forging (and subsequently forgetting).

Second, have him *try* to remember something that he's forged. It's something really important, so he *should* remember, right? But he can't. Again, I wouldn't overuse it.

Together, those could easily paint a picture of what forging does to someone, and in a way that's going to drive home the point to both the reader and Jin how dangerous forging is.

Showing the difference between a normal fight (Teruss) versus the Hesk is good; it puts things in perspective. I think the problem we're having is that the first fight looks way too easy, so in comparison, maybe the Hesk are just *normal*. We don't ever see Teruss really kicking butt, and indeed he's a coward. We need to see Jin beat someone who actually puts up a fight (and still gets dominated), and *then* see the Hesk lay Jin out like a wet rag. It's almost better that we see Burm struggling; at least we know he's BA.

A little disclaimer: I don't read books to pick up on all the deep dark secrets of the author's inner turmoil. I *usually* don't even read too deeply into characters' actions. I'm definitely not the type of person to notice really subtle things 10 chapters down the road. I read books to escape, and to enjoy a good story (which, if there were more decent movies, I'd watch those instead, probably). So, maybe you need to take my comments of "it's too long and kinda boring" with a grain of salt. You're targeting a different audience than me. You're targeting my housemate, who goes through books *looking* for something to ruin the story for him (continuity issue, plot hole, etc.) just so he has something to complain about. I overlook those things, so that I can actually read the book again in the future. So my biggest issue is that seeing the childhoods of 4 characters that stretches across almost two dozen chapters is, quite frankly, boring. I want to get to the main plot, and the action, much quicker.

So, if I can forget my entire past, can I blow up the world? :)

Reading Excuses / Re: 25 Jan 2010 - ryos - To Wish Upon a Dragon
« on: April 25, 2010, 09:01:25 AM »
I had to go look up this thread because I thought I was the other person. Guess I wasn't. I *did* read it back in January, because I remembered the story.

At any rate, I though it was quite good. Not quite what I was thinking of when I originally read the title (I'm a real sucker for dragons), but still good nonetheless.

The biggest problem I saw in it was the transition from a story told to a story written at the end. I almost wonder if there was some way you could make it more obvious in the beginning that it was a story being written. Something like:

I rubbed my arthritic hands together. The pain was nearly too great to even hold the pen, but I had to warn them that I'd seen it again.

Then put the actual writing in blockquote or something to denote that it's actually the story. Or, alternatively, you could change it a bit so that you're actually *telling* the children about it the whole time. Then it would feel right. You could even caution Liza right then and there.

Going on the previous problem, this one sentence in particular throws me:

Was it a sick man's hallucination? Was the dragon ever real?

That sounds a lot more like an inner thought than something he would write, even though everything else feels otherwise. Also:

Caraline did have more children. Three more perfect children, who grew into wonderful adults.

Usually one doesn't write to someone and refer to them in the third person. I suppose it's not the worst thing you can do, but it still seems a little awkward to switch from third person to first person in the following sentence.

 So... I guess I did have a bit of a problem with that. :P Throwing the ending out altogether would work as well, I'd say. Maybe even have them leaving after he tells them his spiel, and have him feel something (dread, sympathy, etc.) for Liza when he sees the dragon as she closes the door behind her. That would be kinda awesome for an ending, I think. One of those "Nooooooooooo! Not her tooooooo!" types.

Yeah, good job, though. I liked it. :) *Tag* Your turn, butcher mine! :)

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