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Messages - Asmodemon

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Reading Excuses / Re: Email List + Submission Dates
« on: January 24, 2010, 03:17:48 PM »
...but then I went and found out I was going to be a dad...

Well congratulations, that's great news (at least, I'm assuming it is. I know for some people it can be anything but good...).†

I liked the story, itís fast paced, the characters are an interesting bunch, and they interact well together.† The back and forth between Escobar and Walken for instance.

I can see that thereís a character arc problem, because there isnít one. At the start Escobar gets doped with a lot of stuff. He has no fear and no emotional attachments to speak of. So he goes through the story as a robot. He sees things, he notes them, but because his emotions are dampened they have no effect until the very end when the stuff wears off.

When the stuff finally does wear off itís the emotional discharge talking and not really him. He probably thought similar after the Philadelphia incident, an augmented survivorís guilt.

The end is also a bit of an anti-climax. After all thatís happened Escobar finds the enemy leader and itís Jimmy. Who is Jimmy and why should we care? Other than a few tidbits of something bad happening in Philadelphia we know nothing of Jimmy except that heís believed to have died there (in fact, before the Ďbig revealí heís only mentioned in two sentences).

Jimmy does things for greed, because he needs more suits. They must be worth an awful lot, because staging such an operation canít be cheap. Where does the money come from, and the troops? Arenít there other ways to get them? And why wonít the customer take the suits he can get and just pay for those? A few suits are better than none at all.

In all I was expecting more and the enemy being Jimmy didnít do it for me. There was no real emotional connection to that character. It also ended rather abruptly, Jimmyís already as good as dead when Escobar realizes itís him. There is no conflict (loyalties, friendship, the thermite) because his gun already took care of it, so he can only complete the mission and be done with it.†

As for the setting, you mention that: ďThe tenements were mile-square buildings, each their own little community, with banks, grocery stores, schools, churches, and everything else inside.† Each building whipping by was a self-contained city.Ē

Iím not getting the sense of the building being all that large once they are in. It also reads like a pretty generic office-type skyscraper. Where are the homes, the stores, the churches? If they are self-contained where are the food production facilities?

In the beginning there are a few hallways, then the hospital, and more hallways and stairwells. You can spice it up by showing more of the Ďself-contained cityí.

Sorry Asmo, we aren't evil people, I promise. Well, maybe Frog...

Well, if this is evil I think I can take it. Yes, definitely ;)

Reading all the comments really makes me want to get back into it and making the story better. There were/are a lot of things I didnít see, but thanks to all of you the problems are becoming clear.

I really missed how the flow (or lack thereof) of the paragraphs messed things up. Knowing the setting the way I do also made me blind to the confusion of the prologue. Now that I know better where to look Iím also getting a lot more ideas on how to fix some of the other things.

I'll follow up on that note with one more thing: darkness imprisoned, elemental magic... Yeah, it has an immensely strong video game feel on the surface.

Iíll readily admit the magic system has a game feel to it right now. I originally planned this story as the setting for a game. But making a (full) game just takes too much time and I love writing a lot more than I do programming. And since my job is programming Iím not really in the mood to do the same thing in my free time as well.

I havenít really focussed on the system since I originally thought it up, but it is a bit lacking in development right now. Now that I think about it I do have some ideas on how to improve it.

Lastly, my vote would be to cut the scene of the Black Rose's imprisonment, or at the very least, make that part the prologue in its entirety.

The prologue is one of the parts of the whole story Iíve had the most problems with, and Iíve gone over it a lot of times already. All that fiddling with it does have some mixed results.

Iíve been considering whether or not to drop it for some time. Right now Iím leaning more towards cutting it rather than keeping it. At least Black Roseís part. Itís confusing more matters than it clarifies. Iíll probably try tightening it a bit first and see how that looks. I can always drop it if it doesnít work.

If I cut it though I can focus more on Rosen and the current time Ė showing more of the magic system should also be possible, since he is a user. Decisions, decisions.

3. Amaryllis is indeed the best character so far. I want more of their back and forth.

She is one of my favourite characters, very fun to write.

Reading Excuses / Jan. 18 -Asmodemon - The Citadel of Thorns, Prologue
« on: January 18, 2010, 06:49:00 AM »
Hello everyone,

this is my first submission to the group. It's the prologue for my YA fantasy novel, "The Citadel of Thorns", which I'm currently in the process of editing. I'm really interested in hearing what you guys think.

Reading Excuses / Re: Email List + Submission Dates
« on: January 16, 2010, 06:41:16 PM »
If I can I'd like to submit something on monday too. It's the prologue for the Citadel of Thorns.

So Talven burning Jin supposedly to death wasn't a big enough indicator . . . drat.† But seriously that was what I was hoping for, to give the audience a glimpse of Talven's true relationship, not just the one Jin essentially makes up .

I did notice that in the first chapter Talven treats Jin like a research tool and not like a son. Otherwise he would have let him stop as soon as creating the sparks started to hurt. Now that his tool is more trouble than he's worth I didn't find it surprising he would sell him.

Well it took some time for me to get to this chapter, but I first read through your other submissions. First of all I want to say I like your setting. There are some interesting locations and setting conflicts going on Ė the God chapter was especially interesting. Your characters also have a lot of potential.†

With Anaiah 1:6 I like the dialogue between Anaiah and her partners in crime and that you get to some action. The chapter end in a cliff-hanger, which gives me the feeling her story line is going somewhere. Sheís also really skilful, but what I do wonder is how old she is exactly Ė given JiníCathul 1:3 sheís also fourteen or something? Some of the enemies fall rather easily to her.

Now on to the critique. Aside from grammar and spelling (which I'll ignore for now because you've already said this is a rough draft) there are a couple of things I noticed on reading through your submissions. A number have already been said by others, so Iíll skip those. What follows is more geared to the whole of what I read, instead of just Anaiah 1:6.

Character Descriptions

The first thing Iíve noticed throughout all your chapters is how you describe your characters. Iím sorry to say they read like grocery lists, where you are just ticking off features; eyes, hair, skin, clothes, accessories, milk, cheese, etc.

Doing this once is not much of a problem, it happens in many books, but you do it every single time with every single character, including the minor ones. The total information you present is also too much to remember. I would suggest you tone down the description to just a few key features, maybe two or three. If itís a minor character just stick to one.

What I found was that whenever you describe a new character my eyes started to gloss over Ė I don't think that's the reaction you're going for. The problem youíve got here is you telling the reader what the characters look like, youíre not showing us and thatís jarring me out of the story. A better idea is to describe what characters look like through actions.

Example: On the left the woman was fair skinned like Talven and Jin, with red hair tied back in a long tail that dropped to her waist.† She wore a blue skirt and most of her upper body was dotted in gold.† She had a gold ring pierced through her naval and a ring of golden studs surrounding her breasts.† Tiny, golden chains hung from her nose, connecting to her ears with little bells dangling from it.† Even her lips had gold studs through them.† She wears what she sells, Jin took note.

Counter-Example: The sounds of little bells drew his attention to the fair-skinned woman on the left. The womanís slightest shift created its own kind of music, a symphony of chimes and the rustling of delicate golden chains and studs. She wore her merchandise proudly, Jin noted. Just the thought of one of those beautiful rings piercing his skin nearly made him cringe, but she was covered with more gold than was arrayed in front of her. If her wares were worth a fortune, she was absolutely priceless.

This is just a simple example, but you get the picture.

Story Flow

With Anaiah 1:6 youíve skipped a couple of chapters ahead, which is good, since the feeling I get from Anaiah 1:6 is that little of import to the grand scheme of the story happened in Anaiah 1:1 to Anaiah 1:5. But then you bog down the story with her thinking about what happened in the previous chapters.

If youíre not going to give us those chapters, then what happened in them is not important enough for lengthy musing. If you are going to give us those chapters, the flashbacks are unnecessary. Either way, youíre telling us whatís happening again instead of showing us.

What I do get from Anaiah 1:6 is that a lot of time has gone by, but nothing is really happening. I get this with JiníCathul 1:3 as well. So far the lives of your characters are not easy, but in terms of plot and pacing they are just meandering along. With over 30,000 words into the story I should have the feeling that things are moving towards something Ė maybe Iím wrong about what that something is, but I should feel movement, and I donít feel that.

The problem is that your main characters, JiníCathul, Anaiah, Zulbane, and Duli, are all in their separate beginning stories, with side-characters, conflicts, and locations, unique to each of them. Thatís why I donít feel any movement to the story; weíre still mired in the beginnings with no end in sight. I say thereís no end, because Iíve only read one Duli chapter so far and also one Zulbane chapter. Add the missing beginning chapters for Duli and Zulbane to the mix and youíre asking for a lot of patience before getting to the point where things start moving.

Chapter Confusion

You name your chapters after your main characters. Progressing through them is easy; JiníCathul 1:3 follows after JiníCathul 1:2. However, Iím getting a little lost with the connections between the chapters of different characters. For instance, does JiníCathul 1:3 take place before, during, or after Anaiah 1:6? And where do Duli and Zulbane fit in? In the finished work it'll probably be clearer, but for now it's confusing.

Points of View

What I really like about JiníCathul 1:3 and Anaiah 1:6 is that itís told from Jinís and Anaiahís points of view. In the other chapters, such as the first chapter of Anaiah, Duli, and Zulbane, you use other view points. In this way weíre not really getting to know the main characters. I knew from the chapter titles which characters are truly important, but nowhere in Zulbane 1:1 for instance did I get the feeling heís the main character. The same with Duli 1:1 and Anaiah 1:1.

Reading Excuses / Re: Your Background
« on: January 03, 2010, 03:57:43 PM »
Thank you :)

Let me start off by saying I really liked the prologue and the first chapter. It really sets the tone and makes me interested in reading more. I donít say this lightly because in general I really donít like first person stories. The third chapter works for me very well too, itís a nice way to introduce Agathan and not Ben as one might expect. The pacing for these three chapters is really good.

I did see some problems with chapter two and four in regards of you telling the reader and not showing it, as well as being info dumps.

Chapter Two:

The first page is basically an info dump to explain Mateoís power (we already know some, because he used it just a chapter ago), the organisation (at this point in the story do we really need to know just how long they have existed?), and how he met Benedict. Itís all tell and not show at all. It slows the story down as well as the impact of just having witnessed a murder.

If you remove the first page and just go right into Mateo driving and trying to stay calm the flow of the story works much better. There are other ways to get the above information across to the reader. For instance, as his trainer itís not that odd for Benedict to check up on Mateo, maybe as he is picking groceries for his family. One off-hand comment about how this was just like how they first met and it feels more natural to get that information.

The same for the organisationís history. Benedict could say that, in their centuryís old history, things like this have happened before. Now the reader knows the organisation is old and it doesnít feel like an info dump.

Chapter Four:

Its question and answer time. This is an easy way to get information across to the reader, disguising the info dump as a conversation. That doesnít change that it is an info dump. As such it is my inclination to say that it might be better to scratch this as well and address the issues in some other way. Instead of Q&A just have a little talk between Ben and Mateo on what bothers him.

During the Q&A session some of the core issues are:

- Choice and free will: Benedict explains this right off the bat, alleviating Mateoís worries. To me coming to grips with the consequences of choice and free will seems like a conflict Mateo can struggle with the whole book. What Ben explains to him can become much stronger if, over the course of time, he realizes this on his own.
- Limitations: Mateo should know some of these already. The biggest thing is that he couldnít stop Sheila, which is because of free will. Leave the answer at free will and then let Mateo figure out the rest in time.
- Unforeseen consequences: Works pretty well as it is.

The big problem with the Q&A, and I realize you canít always avoid this, is that it slows the pacing down. Youíre only a few pages into the story; try to keep the pace fast for a while longer to really hook the readers in. I suggest you sneak in the setting information over time and in small portions.

And then you get to the end of chapter four. Very nice cliff-hanger, I like that.

Reading Excuses / Re: Your Background
« on: January 02, 2010, 06:31:09 PM »
My name is Marijn (you can call me Asmodemon or Marijn, I donít mind which). Iím 26 years old and Iím a developer of Serious Games in the Netherlands.

I started writing around when I was twelve or so, with a story that was a cross between the games ďSecret of ManaĒ and ďIllusion of TimeĒ. Then I stopped for a few years and I canít, for the life of me, remember why.

When I started again I wrote mostly fanfiction, which I found to be a great opportunity to practice. Thatís until I found the limitations of working in anotherís playground to be chafing, so now my focus has shifted to writing original fiction in my own worlds.†

I am currently editing my YA fantasy novel ďThe Citadel of ThornsĒ and plotting/world-building my next fantasy novel.

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