Author Topic: Nov 16 - Andrew the Great - Still Untitled Ch 2 (Though now I have some ideas)  (Read 774 times)

Andrew the Great

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Ok, here's the latest out of my book. This chapter ran really really long. As in, like, way longer than I ever expected it to. So if you see a place I could split it effectively, let me know. I thought about taking the first section and splitting it off, but there really isn't enough material there for it to stand on its own. Would it maybe work to split it off and attach it to chapter one? Although it really isn't the greatest suspense to end with.

Did I mention that it's long this week? As in, 6,700 words long. **Ducks for cover**
**Smiles Sheepishly** Sorry

I'm a little bit worried that this will feel like an infodump. That, and I still don't really have Khyus' character completely pinned, which makes it a little difficult to write him. I find it a little bit ironic that I know exactly why my side characters are doing what they're doing, but not my main character. Anyway....

Sorry again about the excessive length. I was under the impression that this was only 5k words or so, but then I just checked again and its 6700. Anyway.

Comment excessively. Grammar edits are as appreciated as continuity and other issues, since this is all NaNoWriMo stuff now, and it kind of hasn't had much revision.

Thanks in advance for any and all comments.

Andrew

EDIT: Just by way of warning, my next submission is 5400 words. I just checked. Consider yourselves warned.

Oh, and as Chaos would say, Eviscerate with Extreme Prejudice! Not really sure where that came from, but it is pretty dang catchy, I'll admit.
« Last Edit: November 16, 2009, 03:49:20 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!"

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lethalfalcon

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Okay, notes while I"m reading:

Quote
   “Exactly!” the mage said, looking as though his annoyance was approaching open anger now. “You see, if you die, then I don’t get to kill you. Now, hold tight.”

This part really pushed me away. Perhaps it's because I haven't read anything previous to this, so I'm a bit lost, but it's still really cheesy. If Khyus is really that important, than Quinn doesn't really want to kill him (at least not right now). The fact that he's angry suggests that he does want to kill him, for reasons unapparent to me. It feels like he either wants to be a bad mofo, or he's just evil for the sake of being evil. I'm sorry if this is due to lack of prior information.

Quote
   Quinn wasn’t there. That wasn’t particularly surprising – the man did love to disappear – but it was annoying nonetheless. That man … I swear I would kill him if I could. Oddly, though, Khyus knew the words weren’t true. What reason do I have to leave him alive? He thought. It’s not like he’s done me any favors. He set me up so that I would have no choice but to follow him. He has done nothing but try to intimidate me since the moment I met him. He ruined my nice, quiet life. Why should I care if he died? But even as he thought of these arguments, Khyus knew that for some reason, he didn’t want to kill Quinn.

He's arguing with himself about whether he wants to kill Quinn. Forgive me if I find this very humorous. If that's your intention, great, but given the general atmosphere of Khyrus, he tends to be more on the serious side, and your writing generally reflects that. Also, you're a bit repetitive here.

Quote
Khyus soon became so lost that he couldn’t have found his way back if he was given a map of the building with his rooms clearly marked.

Is he seriously that daft? It seems like you're over-exaggerating a little. I've never been a fan of jokes in the narration, but that's just me.

Farther on, what makes the Dastrovi foothills so beautiful? I see a bunch of things, but little description that alludes to its actual beauty. Also, given that the mountains are only five miles away, they would probably be in his field of view. Very much in his field of view, especially since he's at the top of a hill. Yet, they're never displayed. Moreso, are the trees in a valley below? If they are, that should probably be mentioned. If they aren't, how can he see hundreds of them? Trees are usually hard to see through, and if they're close, it might even be hard to see Quinn unless there's a path or clearing.  It just became really hard for me to visualize this scene. It's almost like everything is squished together. Quinn is a mere 20 feet away and frowning in impatience? Seems a little close to be that concerned with the delay (3 seconds of normal walking should get you there).

Quote
   There were, of course, a few mishaps. There were six separate incidents when Khyus lost control, the last of which he lifted Quinn and threw him nearly half a mile, nearly killing the man. That was the point when Quinn informed him that they would be done for the day.

Amusing, and yet, as the reader, I'm now annoyed that you didn't explain how a man can be thrown 7 football fields and not turn into a blood splat at the end.

I'm a little bounced by the sudden shift in time, although I suppose it's alright since you were looking for a stopping point and figured sleep would be the best point.  It's a little jarring, for me, to ses a minute-by-minute account, and then suddenly "Much later...".

Hrm. Okay, so after reading this, it'd probably be better for me to read the stuff from before, but I think I was able to piece together the gist from the current chapter's reflections. That actually might be a little bad. Someone who had just read about the events might not want to be reminded of them constantly. You start wanting to tell the book "I got it! Now move on!" 

That said, your magic system certainly has me intrigued. Seems to be the type that would involve a bit of mental puzzling to figure complex things out. I hope you actually show the characters working through them (or failing to), because I think that would really make it more interesting. I will admit that I feel the actual prose needs a bit of sprucing up, but part of that is likely due to NaNoWriMo (which I feel is something of a bad influence, sometimes). I'll send over a commented document, and I'll be ready for next week's installment.
I don't have good days. I have great days, where I'm a magician ridding the world of all evil, or at least everything I don't like. And then I wake up, and it's back to work for me.

Recovering_Cynic

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I would like to second lethalfalcon in that I too want you to have a description of what they are doing when using deviation.  For example, when Khyus is making his box, if you could give us his mental process of doing so, it would be well worth reading.  Of course, you might be saving that for a more complex moment in the book, but as long as the descriptions are well written, your readers will probably enjoy them and you can do it several times.

Moving on, I found a couple of other areas that could use some sprucing up.  For example, Khyus and Quinn walk through the entire castle on their way out and you don't mention a single servant or other human being.  I was under the impression that this was Quinn's lair and nothing/nobody was allowed there.  I was quite surprised when Khyus walks inside and there's a servant.  Unfortunately, Khyus wasn't surprised, which means there's a problem.  What kind of castle is this?  Is it a working castle?  A fortified position?  What is its purpose?

My questions about the castle brings up another point: what is the community around it like?  There is a spell cast which keeps out visitors, right?  If this is a castle full of servants and other people, there has to be some sort of support system.  Otherwise, everyone is going to starve.  Is there a community nearby?  How does Quinn and his staff sustain themselves?  You descriptions are good, but the setting really needs some work.

Also, I think you pushed the envelope a little too far with the training session.  About half way through, I started feeling like this was pure exposition, meaning, "Hey this is my wicked cool magic system; watch while I show it off!"  Granted, I like the magic system; however, there has to be some purpose behind the demonstration, some hint at what is coming next.  Reading about a cool magic system is fun, but it only holds so much weight and will not carry the story.  Right now, your reader has no burning question in the back of his/her mind.  We know Quinn really isn't going to kill Khyus, and we also know he isn't likely to try because he would succeed far too easily.  We know that there is some dark purpose in Quinn's abduction, but it is so vague that there is nothing to anticipate.  There needs to be some sort of undercurrent dragging your reader forward through this chapter.  It's a fun chapter, but really doesn't contain any plot to chew on.
this is the way the world ends,
not with a bang, but a whimper
~T.S. Eliot

Andrew the Great

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Which is pretty much what I was worried about.

Ok, a few things.
Quote
   “Exactly!” the mage said, looking as though his annoyance was approaching open anger now. “You see, if you die, then I don’t get to kill you. Now, hold tight.”

This part really pushed me away. Perhaps it's because I haven't read anything previous to this, so I'm a bit lost, but it's still really cheesy. If Khyus is really that important, than Quinn doesn't really want to kill him (at least not right now). The fact that he's angry suggests that he does want to kill him, for reasons unapparent to me. It feels like he either wants to be a bad mofo, or he's just evil for the sake of being evil. I'm sorry if this is due to lack of prior information.

Pretty sure I'd attribute it to writing this section at about 2:00 in the morning as opposed to lack of prior info. Sorry 'bout that....

The whole thing with Khyus throwing Quinn. Once again, a two in the morning thing (Actually, this one's probably just lack of sleep in general, since I think I wrote this part of the chapter in the afternoon). I noticed it on my skim-through, but apparently forgot to change it to something a little more reasonable.

I envisioned the scene as Khyus standing at the top of the hill, looking out over the valley, which is filled with trees. The hill does have some trees, but not many, leaving Khyus with a view. The mountains are to the north, behind Khyus, behind the castle. Sorry for the lack of clarity in the text itself. I'll catch that on the rewrite.

And like I said, I'm concerned about the magic system infodump. It needs to come here, because if you don't have some basic foundations, the next chapter will leave you totally lost (It's from the viewpoint of an expert Deviator), and yet I have to find a good, interesting way to do it. What I have really doesn't work as well as I'd hoped. I'll have to think about it a tad.

I plan on getting into what is involved in Deviation considerably more in coming chapters, though some of it will still come across as being pretty vague. You have to realize, this is mostly instinctive, which makes describing what a character is doing difficult while maintaining the right feel for the way the characters understand it.

Lethalfalcon, could you provide some examples of details/reflections  that were repeated a lot so that I can work on them? That, and so that I don't keep repeating them. I tend to do that.

The issue with the setting is that this is Khyus' first time seeing the area as well, unless you count the previous night. He's not going to be paying attention to things like how Quinn supplies himself, just how many people live here, etc. He would, however, be surprised by the servant, as you mentioned, and later on he starts to notice other things. Which I would have completely forgotten to do, so thanks for the heads up. I'll add in a little detail.

And Cynic, you also addressed one of my other concerns, that there's no driving plot at this point. The next chapter should introduce some issues, but not on Khyus' plotline. I'll have to up-play the issue with not knowing what Quinn wants, and try to add a little bit more info to give you something of a tease.

As always, thanks for the comments. Keep 'em coming, people. Even though this chapter is ridiculously long.
« Last Edit: November 17, 2009, 12:23:24 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

lethalfalcon

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The biggest detail that I noticed was the situation with the mens' deaths. I understand that part of it has to do with his brooding over it, but it seems to get replayed a lot. By the first paragraph I understand his guilt, but it's reiterated a few more times in this chapter. I'm not sure whether his guilt is apparent in the previous chapter, but if it is, there's probably little need to continue repeating it here. His acceptance of fault in their deaths is still good though, because it shows character evolution.
I don't have good days. I have great days, where I'm a magician ridding the world of all evil, or at least everything I don't like. And then I wake up, and it's back to work for me.

Andrew the Great

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I was going for the brooding reaction, but I easily could have overdone it. Anyone else have any opinions on this? Some of you who read chapter 1?
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Recovering_Cynic

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Um... well, it's been awhile since I read chapter one, but as I recall, he didn't really have much of a chance for remorse.  However, I don't think it's the amount of remorse that's the problem, but rather the way you do it.  I think if he had one real emotional bout, that would be enough (e.g. he is so busy running and worrying, but when he finally has a moment to sit and rest and gather himself, the images replay through his mind).  Have him put it behind himself after that, but you might have him hesitate the first time he uses deviation.

As to the problem with your info dump, you might just give us an intro to it, say, up to the first task, then skip to the last and most complicated task your MC is asked to do.  I don't have a problem with him flinging Quinn half a mile--Quinn can magic himself out of it, and while Quinn walks back (or Khyus runs after him), it would give him a moment to reflect on what he has been learning.  You can pass on almost all the info you do here, but it won't feel like an info dump.  Just a suggestion.
this is the way the world ends,
not with a bang, but a whimper
~T.S. Eliot

Andrew the Great

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Hmm... I think that just might work. I'll try it in my rewrite, and see if it works out. If not, I could probably trim portions of it as well.
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Frog

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Alright, as far as breaking up the chapter goes, I'd be good with breaking it where you already have a break, but then I am a YA writer and I always try to get my chps to hit around 2000. Really, it doesn't matter. You're chps can be long and short as long as it fits the pacing of your book.

Major problem I was having with this section is it is completely bogged down with internal thought (Khuyus musing and flashbacks and whatever else) and I STILL don't feel like I am orientated to the world at all outside of just these two characters in a seemingly vacant castle (except for the random servant). It just feels vacant and fluffy, like you are just spewing out words just for the heck of it without a lot of substance. Nano will do that to you and it is fine for a first draft, but something like that really isn't ready to see the light of day.  I mean, you do have some tension here between the two characters, but you need to bring it out more and I need to know what is going on in this word outside of these two characters as far as how they, as mages, function here. And, without a flashback or excessive internal thought, I need a better sense of Khuyus, age, background, family that kind of thing.

Interesting magic system... Characters have a lot of potential. Cut it down, clean it up, and you'll have an interesting chp.

Good Luck, keep it coming. :)
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Andrew the Great

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Hmmm. Well since the first chapter apparently didn't have enough internal thought, at least I tried to fix the problem. It'll take a little time to get the balance right, methinks.

I need to know what is going on in this word outside of these two characters as far as how they, as mages, function here.

Next Chapter :)

And, without a flashback or excessive internal thought, I need a better sense of Khuyus, age, background, family that kind of thing.

*sigh* So do I, so do I. Well, I do know that biographical information you mentioned, but I still am having issues writing him because I really don't know him yet. I really need to sit down and write a character profile. That would most likely help quite a lot.

I'll try to work the info you asked for in a little bit, sneakily, and not using flashbacks and internal thought.
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RavenstarRHJF

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Well, aside from some repetitiveness, I thought it was fairly well done.

The scene in the entrance hall was a bit confusing for me.  The way you wrote it made me think Quinn passed the door leading outside and went toward another hallway- which made me think of magic doorways that take you impossibly far distances.  It really wasn't until after Khyus looked back toward the castle that it hit me that they had just left it, i.e. opened the entryway doors.  Instead I thought that where they had spent the night was sort of an intermediate point- simply a place that Quinn knew would have the right magic doors to take him where he wanted to go. :-\  So yeah.  Could probably make that simpler.

Quinn loses a lot of his mystique and danger in this chapter.  I know you've got Khyus wondering and worrying about that at the end, but still- need to work on keeping up the tension.

The way you describe your magic system, while slightly interesting, really seems more like a cop-out than anything else.  "It works, and no one knows why, and no one who can do it can tell anyone how it works, or why."  Really? :P  It's a little better once you add the qualifier that trying to do magic someone else's way ends in horrible death, but still.

And after making such a big deal about action/re-action in the magic (which is cool, I will admit, and lends an element of danger), you don't take the time to describe any of the after-effects of his tests- unless throwing his 'mentor' half a mile is one of them, but you said that was an accident, not a reaction from something else.  Overall, I'd think they'd at least warn each other since they can apparently tell what the magic itself will do ahead of time.  Surprisingly, it takes a lot less time to yell "giant fireball!" than you'd think.

None of this is to say I didn't like it.  I'm not completely convinced, but I'm not saying I couldn't be.
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Andrew the Great

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The way you describe your magic system, while slightly interesting, really seems more like a cop-out than anything else.  "It works, and no one knows why, and no one who can do it can tell anyone how it works, or why."  Really?   It's a little better once you add the qualifier that trying to do magic someone else's way ends in horrible death, but still.

Remember that this is an extremely basic description. Though it is entirely accurate, it's intended for someone who has never heard anything factual about Deviation.

Next Chapter you get the actual descriptions, and some of it will probably be more than a little bit confusing until I figure out how to do it right.

Throwing Quinn half a mile was a reaction from the magic, so I probably need to go through and reword that slightly to make that more clear.

What happens after someone yells, "Giant Fireball!"? Wow, that's weird punctuation. Moral of the story is, while they might get a warning out, the reaction would come before the character could do anything. The reaction is pretty instantaneous, you know. I suspect a large part of the reason it feels slower is that internal thought that Frog mentioned.

By the way, Quinn is by far the most fun character to write. By far.
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vegetathalas

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Quite good for NANOWRIMO. I wouldn't have guessed that you hadn't put much time into it. All my comments come from someone who hasn't read chapter one, so bear that in mind.

I like the chapter opener--really makes the stakes clear. However, I get a little disappointed when the psychotic mage doesn't even hurt him or anything. And naturally, I wonder why anyone would associate with someone they thought was trying to kill them. But you probably explained that in your first chapter.

The travel by Deviation seems a lot like Side-Along Apparition from Harry Potter mixed with the sensation of Floo Powder without the chimney.

I like the mage character and think his dialogue is, for the most part, pretty good. There are moments when he feels a little stilted.

There's something about this that feels a little Y.A., probably the humor. I wonder if you're intentionally going for that market or not.

I wish the mage's name had been given earlier. Eight pages of "the mage" gets kind of boring. And what does the mage look like, anyway? Maybe you covered that in chapter one too.

Yeah, you could end at the sleeping section break if you're worried about long chapters. I don't think it matters that much.

You don't need to have so many "he thought" attributions. The italics communicate that.

I agree that you could use some more specific details. You're neglecting your senses of smell, taste, touch.

I like Khyrus' POV. He feels like a fun character to hang out with.

I wonder why Quinn is going through so much trouble/inconvenience over Khyrus. I'm willing to wait to find out, though.

The chapter seems very info-dumpy. I wonder if you need all this in the book or if you should start your story after Khyrus has been all trained up. Especially since it doesn't seem like Quinn has very much to teach since he can't explain most things.

I like the hurled a half-mile part, but you could replace it with "hurled Quinn so far he bounced twice" or something and still keep the humor. I like a little humor mixed in with my serious epic fantasy.

In reference to the chapter end: No duh, Quinn's up to something. Why else would he have found you and dragged you to his castle, brainiac?

If you don't raise the stakes in the next chapter, possibly by introducing an antagonist, I would begin to get impatient.

Despite this being 6,700 words, very little of it dragged, which is an accomplishment. Long and wordy, yes, it's also a quick, easy read.

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Khyrus's thoughts seem to go in circles a bit; he's repeating alot of the same thoughts: "he didn't think the mage would kill him - unless that was what he was planning now - but the mage seemed to need him for something - he didn't think the mage would kill him - etc" This cycle gets repeated quite a bit

You've also got a fair bit of monologuing going on here; you're spending a lot of time relaying to us Khyus's exact thoughts. I would try to cut back on this a bit, as I don't think overusing this technique is terribly effective. (I've already ranted at Chaos about this, so I'm not going to do it again. XP) A good place to start cutting back would be, again, bits that are kind of repetitive. Khyus thinks as he's trying to push the tree over that it's like remembering something that he'd forgotten. Then Quinn asks him to describe the sensation he felt t rying to push the tree over, and Khyus gives him the same thought, nearly verbatim. This happens later as Khyus walks by the bones again, he thinks that they don't seem nearly as sinister as they did this morning, and then the same thought comes up again later in the narration (not in the underlined bits). There are some other examples of this, but I won't go through and track them all (unless you particularly want me to, I guess).

I like the personal touch you've added to your magic system. Then again, I would, because the magic system for my first novel has something similar--even though it's completely different. ::)

I didn't think that this chapter felt too infodumpy. The "apprentice" trope, if you want to call it that, is a common one because it works. That said, it might not hurt to cut down a bit on Quinn's (sometimes long-winded) explanations and show us more of what's actually happening; summarize the dialogue and show us the scene, rather than the other way around. Also, I think that it will be fairly easy to cut down this chapter's length some, which will also make it seem like less of a slog.

Regarding chapter length: This is entirely a matter of personal taste, of course, so feel free to take what I say and toss it right out the window, but I don't see what's wrong with longer chapters in general, and I don't see what's wrong with this one in particular. I didn't see an obvious place to split it and I don't think that tacking the first scene of this chapter onto the last chapter would work as well as the way you have it set up here. I would just not worry about it. (Then again, I also have chapters in my novel that are 9000 words long.) Of course, if you're attached to the idea of shorter chapters, remember that you should also be able to cut this chapter down in revisions.

You've answered one of the questions that I had about Khyrus nicely (the bit about him breaking his house with magic. I assume from that that he lived alone) but I still would like to know a bit more about how magic fits into society, how common it is, and how it's regarded. Obvoiusly, that can't fit in this chapter, but I would like to see some more hints of it soon.

A few responses to what others have said: The first sentence that falcon quoted threw me off too, for more or less the same reason.

I was also a bit surprised at first when Khyus first ran into a servant; I'd assumed at first that Quinn's place was entirely isolated. Also, now that I'm thinking about it a clearer description of the inside of the place might be in order. As Cynic has pointed out, we don't really know whether this place is fortified, or just for show, or what. 

Cynic is right in that this chapter contains basically no plot, unless maybe the bones are as important as he thinks they are. Still, that isn't much to chew on and there's still no forward motion. Since this is just one chapter (and especially if you cut it down in revisions) I'm not sure that it's a problem, but it does mean that you're going get the Plot in gear PDQ.

Also, we have Quinn and Khyrus. You say the point of view in the next chapter is an expert Deviator (who may or may not be Quinn) but either way, are there any "normal" people in your story? :P As Frog has pointed out, we really really need some grounding in your story. We haven't had a lot of time to get acquainted with the world. In the first chapter Khyus is running, in the second he's completely isolated from, well, everything it seems.

I know Khyrus isn't paying much attention to the surroundings; I buy that. But to completely not notice the presence of other people seems a little extreme, unless they're ninja servants.

Ravenstar makes a fairly good point about tension--I didn't notice while I was reading, but upon reflection I think she's right. I think perhaps it's that you don't touch on Quinn's apparent change of heart at all until the end of the chapter, which is the only place where Khyrus notices it and starts to worry about it.

I think that this may be fixed, again, but cutting out some of the exposition and giving is scene instead. For one thing, I assumed that Quinn was still being grouchy and abrasive about everything that Khyrus did wrong, because you didn't tell me otherwise (until the very end, again, when Khyrus starts actually worrying about it). I know that Khyrus is caught up in learning magic here and that's fine, but I don't think you have to do much. I think you could be  subtle about Khyrus's unease early on in the chapter as long as you show us how Quinn is behaving. Quinn is a very, ahem, distinctive character. A turnaround like this is something I can more or less promise you that we'll notice.

You commented on this being a basic description, meant for someone who knew nothing about Deviation. That's a legitimate reason to describe your magic the way you have, but if it threw someone, then do remember you won't always have the opportunity to tell someone, "oh, that's in the next chapter". I didn't have the same thought, to be honest, but others very well might and it could be damaging to their perception of your book if they think it's a big sticking point.

Anyway, despite a slightly lengthy critique (omg! your wordiness is catching!*) I did enjoy the chapter and overall thought it was fairly strong. Keep it up.

* Just kidding. I've always been wordy.