Author Topic: Nov 2 - Andrew the Great - (As of Yet) Untitled, Chapter 1  (Read 617 times)

Andrew the Great

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Nov 2 - Andrew the Great - (As of Yet) Untitled, Chapter 1
« on: November 03, 2009, 04:30:17 AM »
Ok, so as mentioned, this is my first attempt at discovery writing. It's a little vague at times because of that.

Oh, also, the version you all got was virtually un-edited. I wrote it, saw Chaos' permission to post, did a quick skim-over, and sent it off. So it may have some really awful grammar and such. That, and it may be slightly disjointed at times.

Please be harsh. Please??? I hate it when people think that they need to spare my feelings. I'd much rather have you guys tear me to pieces and me get better than just have you say, "Yeah, looks pretty good."

Not that that's really a concern here.... but at the same time it is. You know?

Oh, and there's no prologue yet. I haven't figured out what it's going to be.

EDIT: Based on what little I know of the plot of this book, I'm thinking of calling it lawless. Just FYI.
« Last Edit: November 03, 2009, 05:27:58 AM by Andrew the Great »
Sign on wall: "We're doing everything we can to get you to the math lab and get you help."
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Frog

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Re: Nov 2 - Andrew the Great - (As of Yet) Untitled, Chapter 1
« Reply #1 on: November 03, 2009, 08:08:18 AM »
I guess I missed it when you officially decided to sneak in. Welcome!

Please be harsh. Please??? I hate it when people think that they need to spare my feelings. I'd much rather have you guys tear me to pieces and me get better than just have you say, "Yeah, looks pretty good."
Um... have you looked at the group at all? That is pretty much all we do. Rip you up and spit you out and most people run home crying for mercy after a week or two. I'd be careful about asking us to be harsher. :P

So it looks pretty good. You have some good action working for you and grammar-wise it is pretty clean. The problem was that you didn't give us any real setting or character and it really felt rushed. I'd like to have some emotional attachment to the MC in the first chapter and you really didn't give me much outside of his current situation. A lot of your descriptions were vague and very telly. Try for a few more specifics without the commentary. And I actually think you may be starting too late. Setting up the initial scene with the merchants would help a lot IMO.

So yeah, good action and I'm interested. Keep it coming. :)
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Recovering_Cynic

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Re: Nov 2 - Andrew the Great - (As of Yet) Untitled, Chapter 1
« Reply #2 on: November 03, 2009, 03:42:22 PM »
I agree with Frog; you need to show us the scene with the merchant's wagons.  That, or you need to reduce the amount you refer to it in the conversation between the MC and the mage.  You talk about it there like the reader knows what happened only we don't and that's kinda frustrating. 

Before I get too far into my critiques, I wanted to tell you that I enjoyed reading it, and I really think it has potential.  If you hammer this out, it could become an excellent story and I hope you work with it until it does.

That being said, there were a few other things that did not make sense.  First, the MC sees the mage and automatically knows that he is a mage--"one of the most powerful men in the world".  Well, how does he know this?  As readers, we first kinda need to know that mages exist, especially rogue mages who don't work for the government.  Also, why does the MC hate the idea of working for the government?  He automatically rejects the idea, but we don't know why.  Bad benefits?  Low pay?  Do they kick puppies?  Anyway, we need some more info and foreshadowing on that as well.

My one other critique is that the chapter ended too short.  We need some introspection, some of the character's thoughts on everything that just happened.  Also, at the end, you say that "For now, he just needed to walk."  Why?  What happened to being completely exhausted?  Why doesn't he want to curl up in a ball and whimper/sleep?  We really do need some more feeling to his character so we understand why he does what he does.

Okay, so I lied.  I have one last "final" critique, and it's not so much a critique as a plea.  Your magic system has two halves to it... please let this not be even remotely similar to Robert Jordan's saidin and saidar.  Your readers will lynch you if it is.


this is the way the world ends,
not with a bang, but a whimper
~T.S. Eliot

Andrew the Great

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Re: Nov 2 - Andrew the Great - (As of Yet) Untitled, Chapter 1
« Reply #3 on: November 04, 2009, 01:49:19 AM »
Magic system isn't saidar/saidin oriented. Although it is vaguely similar, there are plenty of differences that lead to it being used quite differently than saidar and saidin. In some places, it's more of a hard magic system, in others, more soft. It's really hard to describe without telling you how it works. But I promise, it's not the same as Jordan's system. Sure, there are some similarities, but that can hardly be avoided, can it? Well, at least, not having this work the way I want it to. Oh, and you'll see what the other half was (it's not a female half of the same thing). But the moral of the story is, Goodkind already stole Jordan's system. I don't need to as well. The next chapter gets into the magic system quite a bit more, and you continue to learn new things about it throughout the story.

I thought about starting with the scene with the wagons, but decided against it. Now that you mention it, though, I think I will. It gives the reader a moment before jumping into the action. And it does set up the scene a little better. I was eventually planning on having Khyus flash-back to that scene, but there didn't seem to be a good place to do it, so it probably would be best to put it in at the beginning.

For your benefit, so you're not confused (since I won't be re-writing this scene for a little while, with NaNoWriMo going on), here's what happened with the wagons. Khyus is in town looking around (no, I don't know why yet. I'll figure out a suitable reason before writing the wagon scene in), so he stops to browse through the merchant carts. He stops by one merchant who is selling wolfhounds. Then, when he is the only person standing next to the cart the merchant is using to display his wolfhounds (kind of like a platform, to make them stand out more amongst all the other goods), Quinn (the mage. I can't keep calling him the mage, or I'll go insane. You actually find out this name in chapter 2) tips the cart over, causing several large, powerful wolfhounds to a)become very scared, and b) run loose. Quinn also uses Deviation (the actual name of the magic system, or so I think. I'm not 100% on this yet, but I like it. Anyone have any problems with it? If so, I really would like to hear about them) to keep the animals scared, and easily provoked. They run loose through the wagons, knocking some over (the smaller carts), knocking products off of others, and just outright destroying some of the other stall-type setups. This results in several unhappy merchants, who blame Khyus (he was, after all, the only one anywhere near the wolfhound cart). Most of them stay behind to try to catch the hounds before they do any more damage, but four of them chase Khyus, who begins to run, recognizing that the merchants probably aren't particularly happy with him, and it would be in his best interest to not be caught. Khyus is also very confused about why the cart tipped over, since it hasn't occurred to him that someone used 'magic' yet. And that, my friends, brings you to where you started.

I was worried that this scene might feel rushed, so the fact that you felt it was confirms it for me. I'll have to go back and flesh it out a little.

As to why he doesn't want to work for the government, the simple reason is that most mages who work for the government end up dead. I was going to put more detail about this in later. I probably still will. At that point, I'll ask whether you thought it was better placed there or in this chapter. If I end up putting it there, though, I may have a few tidbits in here to help the reader understand.

Why Khyus knows Quinn is a mage - Well, Quinn does materialize out of thin air about three feet in front of him. I'd say that would lead you to believe the person was using magic, and in this world, the only people who have any magic that Khyus knows of are the mages. Even if he encountered other magic (which does exist, though I don't think I'll get into it much in this book), he'd probably still think the user was a mage. I can make this more explicit, though, if you think it's necessary.

I'm not sure how to work in the details of rogue mage vs government mage. It's an important detail, but there really doesn't seem to be a place in this chapter to do it. Khyus is a little bit freaked out at this point, so he's not going to be so much worried about the fact that this man is a rogue mage as the fact that this man is a mage who doesn't appear to be far from killing him. In fact, he'd probably prefer a rogue mage to a government one (hence the reaction to the Recruiting Squad at the end of the chapter - Recruiting Squads are (mostly) mages). I'll work it in later, and you can tell me if it works there, or if you need the detail here.
 
I tried to keep the details on the setting light in this particular scene. I didn't want it to feel like a travelogue, and I didn't want the reader to get bored with endless details. If you feel like you need to know more, though, I could definitely add a little more in. Part of the reason I was so sketchy in the first place is that I'm still not 100% sure on all of my setting details. This is, after all, a discovery write, which is proving very interesting for me.

And you're right. I go from Khyus being exhausted to needing to walk. Hmmm. Not really sure why I did that. I'll have to change the ending of the chapter. And I think the lack of thought has more to do with me writing late at night and not wanting to think too much about what Khyus is thinking about. The scene really does need it to be complete. Thanks for pointing that out.

I'll work on going into Khyus' thoughts and feelings more. I just reread it, and you're right, there really isn't any emotional attachment to him. And I'll try to be less telly.

Keep the comments coming. These are really good points. Thanks for your thoughts, Frog and Recovering_Cynic.

Side note, I've got about a third of the way through chapter 2 now. I like Quinn. A lot. Definitely more than I like Khyus, though I think I understand Khyus slightly better than I do Quinn. But Quinn keeps surprising me, and that's fun.

EDIT: Since I've had several comments about this via email now, no Khyus didn't steal anything. The line about him being a thief is a mistake. Not really sure what I was thinking.
« Last Edit: November 04, 2009, 02:04:01 AM by Andrew the Great »
Sign on wall: "We're doing everything we can to get you to the math lab and get you help."
Random girl: "That explains so much about the way my professors have been teaching..."

"Look! I can play Mary had a little lamb on my rape whistle!"

Executor of Chaos' Opinions in the Event of His Absence

LongTimeUnderdog

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Re: Nov 2 - Andrew the Great - (As of Yet) Untitled, Chapter 1
« Reply #4 on: November 04, 2009, 02:30:50 AM »
I found the piece . . . lacking in body, for lack of a better phrasing.  It had all the skeleton parts, was an obvious middle ages setting with wizards.  I hate wizards.  Unless there is something in the wizards that matters like ancestry, the idea of the them existing is inherently flawed.  It would be like when guns were invented, eventually everyone jumped on that band wagon.   There would be no armies, only wizards flying around throwing magic instead of knights on horses bashing swords.  Even if it took 30 years to learn the magic, you can bet the military would have every soldier hitting the books instead of the gym.  Now that I got that out of the way . ..

There was a bit of wit in the dialogue/monologues that made he piece really enjoyable.  I would recommend tightening those up and sewing in a few more and you'll really have us rolling.

I liked the main character, finding his light-hearted antics more then amusing.  I do agree with the other, though, that there is little outside his wit that denotes likability.  also his motivations were quite unclear.  Whiel I know as the reader that a dude with magic is not going to just sack some wagons for kicks and giggles, he still reads like a vandal.

The "Mysterious Stranger," perplexes me.  He's not particularly interesting and while he says "I'll kill you," and our roguish hero believes him, I never feel any desperation or concern for the situation.  The same goes for the recruitment team.  And why is it so bad to be a royal magic dude, anyway?  Are the benefits that lousy?

Frog

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Re: Nov 2 - Andrew the Great - (As of Yet) Untitled, Chapter 1
« Reply #5 on: November 04, 2009, 04:54:44 AM »
Don't be so quick to knock wizards. I mean, expressing a personal preference is one thing but most of us write fantasy which tends to equal a magic system of some kind and people that use it (whether you want to get really creative with the name or not... I usually prefer not myself). And just because a 'technology' exists doesn't mean everyone will have the skills and conditions needed to use it even w/o a genetic factor and there are lots of ways he could have set up to make his world believable. Andrew probably does need more details here eventually (as I and others had said) but this is really just the first chapter and he has plenty of time to show us his world as we go.
« Last Edit: November 04, 2009, 04:57:08 AM by Frog »
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Recovering_Cynic

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Re: Nov 2 - Andrew the Great - (As of Yet) Untitled, Chapter 1
« Reply #6 on: November 04, 2009, 05:34:55 AM »
One other odd thing about the story.  You mention that it is a three mile wide village.  That's one huge freaking village dude.

Oh and I wasn't real clear on my point about the MC know that a Quinn was a mage.  What I really meant was this:  there was no foreshadowing of mages at all.  No mention that the government had mages, no mention that mages were the most poweful men in the world.  Nothing like that until out pops Quinn, and all of the sudden the MC knows he's a mage.  Well, sure he can know that, but the readers need to have some foreshadowing.  I don't have a problem with the MC knowing, it just needs to be telegraphed.
this is the way the world ends,
not with a bang, but a whimper
~T.S. Eliot

Andrew the Great

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Re: Nov 2 - Andrew the Great - (As of Yet) Untitled, Chapter 1
« Reply #7 on: November 10, 2009, 01:31:59 AM »
Thanks for the clarification, Recovering_Cynic. That does make sense. I'll work on it in my rewrite.

Where did I mention that it's a 3 mile wide village? That's probably a typo.

Frog is right about magic, and there are other reasons why it isn't good to use for the military. That will come up later in the book. But I'll agree with you, I hate wizards the way you described them, where they can do anything.

From this chapter, you don't get much of a sense of the limits of magic, which makes it difficult to establish that I'm not going to have a bunch of all-powerful characters running around.

Thanks so much for all the great comments, I've tried to take them into account as I've continued writing. I should have chapter two up (in all its unedited goodness) sometime relatively soon.
Sign on wall: "We're doing everything we can to get you to the math lab and get you help."
Random girl: "That explains so much about the way my professors have been teaching..."

"Look! I can play Mary had a little lamb on my rape whistle!"

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RavenstarRHJF

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Re: Nov 2 - Andrew the Great - (As of Yet) Untitled, Chapter 1
« Reply #8 on: November 14, 2009, 02:00:32 AM »
I actually like beginning right off the bat with the chase scene.  I'm not so sure that we need to see the scene with the wagons, but you do need to clarify what happened, even if only to have Khyus complain to himself that it wasn't his fault- or perhaps shout something to that effect to his pursuers.  Secondly, the setting needs clarification, but that's been said.  I also agree with Cynic that you need to foreshadow the magic.  You spend a whole lot of time having Khyus explain that no one knows that he can do magic, which made me think it's not usual- probably regarded as dangerous somehow (incidentally, that would be a good place to hear his thoughts on government vs. rogue mages- maybe have him wonder about finding a teacher).

Good start!  Look forward to more.
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Re: Nov 2 - Andrew the Great - (As of Yet) Untitled, Chapter 1
« Reply #9 on: December 13, 2009, 06:06:21 AM »
After reading this, I immediately have a couple of questions. I'm not certain they're questions that need to be answered now (as in, within this chapter), but they're definitely questions that need to be answered soon, given the context you've provided. I don't think they necessarily have to be answered completely, either; but we need at least some hints.

How common is magic in this world and/or how is magic regarded? Is Kyrus's ability widely known?

The Recruitment Squad that Kyrus mentions as a "problem"--it seems to have something to do with him, but I've no idea what. Why exactly would this be worse than the punishment he was expecting (hanging)?

What is Kyrus leaving behind? (Family, friends, career, etc.)

I have no idea how important this last one will end up being to your character. Right now, it doesn't seem like he has any attachments at all. If it IS going to be important to him, though, I wonder if you may have started this too late. This scene might have a much larger impact on us if we understand the kind of things he's leaving behind. If that is the sort of impact you want to make, of course; if that is the sort of thing that's important to him (and therefore should be to us).

Actually, as others have mentioned, showing us the scene with the merchant wagons may help in this regard. You can sneak stuff about his family or whatever other attachments he might hvae in there, if that's important. Even if that sort of thing isn't terribly important to your character, I think it would give us a bit more time to get grounded in your world. Like others have said, while I'm curious to know what happens, I don't feel a particularly strong emotional connection to Kyrus.

One other thing: Until he kills the men, we don't know what he's actually running from. I couldn't figure out why he was quite so panicked--ie, willing to use his magic, which he acknolwedged even then might kill himself or those men. "Thief" gives me some idea, but I had the impression early on that he wasn't a repeat offender and so I assumed that his punishment wouldn't be anything really horrible, like cutting off a hand or something. Knowing that he's running from a (public, I assume) whipping may help a little bit.

Also, I've just realized that I have no idea how old he is. Teens? Twenties? Forties? Could be any of those for all I know.

When the mage mentions that he's set Kyrus up, Kyrus gets angry, which is understandable. What bugs me is that he doesn't give even a moment's thought to the four men he killed (or possibly, that the mage killed, setting Kyrus--and others--up to think that Kyrus himself had done it). Killing someone is a Big Deal.

Kyrus comments that half of his magic allows him to affect the world around him. My instant assumption was that the other half would allow him to make changes to Kyrus himself. It seems blindingly obvious. I hope that isn't it, since Kyrus has apparently spent hours and hours trying to figure it out to no avail.

About Kyrus thinking that Quinn was a mage right off the bat: What my quibble with the line was, and what I think Cynic's quibble is too, is not that Kyrus thinks he's a mage. That's fairly obvious. But since Kyrus himself uses magic, it's hard to understand why Kyrus would immediately leap to the conclusion that Quinn is somehow "one of the most powerful men in the world". Especially without any conception whatsoever of how common magic is or what people in this world think of it.

I actually didn't have a problem with Kyrus going from exhausted to "needing to walk". I figured that the need to walk was an emotional need that, in light of what just happened, trumped the physical need for rest (at least for a while).

Anyway, those are my thoughts. A bit (a lot) late, but hopefully still helpful.