Author Topic: December 14 - Andrew the Great - Lawless Ch 3 (Revision)  (Read 526 times)

Andrew the Great

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December 14 - Andrew the Great - Lawless Ch 3 (Revision)
« on: December 15, 2009, 05:05:09 AM »
Ok, I think I've mentioned this before, but over the past two weeks, I've done some major revision and outlining for my story. It's been in a flux, with all sorts of things changing, but I think it's now stable, with a better than ever plot.

However, two weeks ago, I submitted a very rough chapter 3. Very rough. And so now, because it was so very rough, and because of the fact that Aedon's (whose viewpoint ch 3 is) entire storyline got drastically altered, I am submitting the revised chapter 3, which is actually the new chapter 3, because it has pretty much nothing to do with the other chapter 3, except for the war that was mentioned there before. Pretty much anything else that you may have picked up in that version of ch 3 can be completely disregarded, because it's probably wrong.

Summary up to this point (It changed a little on the rewrite, but not enough for me to resubmit those chapters. Especially since I haven't rewritten them yet):

Chapter 1: Khyus
Khyus is framed for destroying the property of most of the merchants in a village near his place of residence. He runs away to avoid being whipped, and in the process accidentally kills four men. He is abducted by a mysterious mage, who reveals that he set Khyus up and give Khyus the option of either coming with him or being killed on the spot. Khyus decides to go with the mage, who reveals that his name is Quinn.

Chapter 2: Khyus
Quinn and Khyus have a discussion about Deviation, the magic system which both Khyus and Quinn can use. Various lessons ensue. Khyus also runs into a room full of mysterious objects made out of bone. Khyus explores, and worries about Quinn's motivations for abducting him. There are several important things discussed in this chapter, but I really can't bring them up without giving away a lot for future chapters, and they're mostly hidden in internal thoughts.

Chapter 3: Aedon
What you are reading now. I personally think that it came out much better than the last chapter three, but then that shouldn't be difficult. I hope so, anyway.

Next Up: Quinn, who is ridiculously fun to write.

I should also mention that understanding Deviation is pretty important to the plot at some points. If people haven't read the earlier chapters and want to join later on, I can give you a fairly detailed summary of what you know so far on that as well.

As always, thanks for any comments!

Andrew
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LongTimeUnderdog

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Re: December 14 - Andrew the Great - Lawless Ch 3 (Revision)
« Reply #1 on: December 15, 2009, 04:31:24 PM »
The writing was good enough, though I admit the voice does bother me a bit with how still chumpish Aedon is, he seems, in this revision (a really really good revision) to have studied how to be an evil overlord, learning all the common catch-phrases and lackey-bashing from "stereotypical-cliche-infested-villains 101" and never having even glanced at the "100 things I would do if I became an evil overlord" list.  And he shows this right in the opening with the very first line:

“What do you mean, they've overrun the border forts?” Aedon screamed at General Lenalt. “You assured me that the Kreala were falling back, that the Dastrovi had been beaten into submission! You told me,” Aedon's voice dropped low, emphasizing every word, driving the point home like he would a dagger, “That we had the best army in the world! How do you explain this?”


This is again brought up by the character Lenalt, whom Aedon praises up and down for his brilliant military mind, and the berates in his own mind how stupid the guy is, how feeble, and how annoying because he's trying to do without magic what any of the magi does in their sleep (well okay I'm over exaggerating a little bit).  In a world where Mages are around to hurl fireballs (or whatever the equivalent is in this world of yours) standing militaries become useless, unless those militaries are all mages.

Looking through history, we find that the average mobile force was about 100 strong (no I'm not missing any zeros in that).  When a whole contry went to war, you would average about 2000 strong.  In a fantasy setting, seeing someone with 1000 troops behind them in acceptable, but 15k?  Really?  15k?  And somehow, with magi able to yawn  and nuke 1000 soldiers they managed to move this 15k around to 42 forts and waste them, still maintaining huge numbers like that when every mage can wave a hand and blast a 1000 of them, and if the mage was trying could do worse?  If forts go down that fast and that easy, why build them at all?  Why have walls if a mage can burp and blow it up?  Why even have soldiers if you're going to nuke stuff?  Wouldn't it be better to just use small, highly destructive commando forces and save yourself the trouble of building supply lines?  If 650k soldiers are attacking two of the forts . . . and it's only the work of mages holding these forts together, again, why even have soldiers at all? 

If the regular infantry is so worthless, why are the even existant?  "Because not everyone has mage."  But Aedon has a ton of them, why would they even need to worry?  And why would you keep someone around, like Lenalt, whose only use is moving a very useless and resource consuming group of mage-toys around, whom you berate constantly for not being as super cool as yourself as a magic-less lower being when in the entire kingdom you could find an amply minded magic-full person to take his place?

Have I been beating this enough?

The reason I'm being this rude and extensive on the matter is because I just can't read a book like this . . .at all.  The politics are good, fun, and intriguing, the workings of the mages is pretty cool, but the fact that they're just keeping soliders around, feeding them, arming them, taking time to train them, having military geniuses work to maximize their effectiveness, when any one mage (of which there are plenty enough of) can pass gas and kill them all seems silly, pointless, stupid, and makes me view Aedon as some kind of narcissistic jerk.  I can hardly finish the piece/chapter because he's just so annoying.

Then there's the matter that happens in the council room.  Once again, he's obviously a student of the old b-movie villan school because pushing around all of your high ups sure seems like a great way to make them all mad, and not to mention killing them.  I'm sure they're all happy to have him as emperor.  Furthermore if this Vein guy is supposed to be some sort of uber mage who is actually respectable, and considering all mages seemed to be ranked based on their ability to pwn face, how is he not able to react to the sword?  Why does Aedon even need a sword?  Why did Lenalt leave without his?  That seems very unsoldier of him.

I've been a fighter for quite some time and while I can respect leadership, as an accomplished fighter I demand respect myself.  If I was meeting with all of my buddies (so to speak) and someone came in and threw down like that, my buddies and I would tear the guy up.

The other thing that really, really, really bugs me is how much Aedon sounds like a character from Dragonball Z.  "I'm too powerful, they can't beat me, even if there are like fifteen of them, and they all have the equivilent of rocket launchers in their pockets."  Some of the dialogue could be replaced with "He's only got a power level of 2000, but I'm over ONE MILLION!" and we still wouldn't lose anything.

I realize this is mean and while I'm just speaking for myself, I would hate myself for buying this book once I got to this chapter.

The writing, like I said, is good (over all), and their is a certain political intrigue that is enjoyable so its not all bad.  There are very good elements, they're just buried within a chapter told from the view point of an annoying character I not only despise, am physically hurt by sheer narcissism and bad movie cliches/dialog.

LongTimeUnderdog

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Re: December 14 - Andrew the Great - Lawless Ch 3 (Revision)
« Reply #2 on: December 15, 2009, 04:42:20 PM »
I feel the need to clarify what I meant by "the writing is Overall good."  I'm specifically referring to your ability as a writer to give the PoV character a narrative voice.  Chapter 1's voice is very different, for example, from chapter 3.  While I find Aedon as enjoyable a person to read from as a root canal, I have to give you, the writer, an applause for making him distinct, giving him a personality all his own, and conveying that through his narrative clearly and subtly.  As far as your writing ability, I would call that part of it your greatest strength.  Applaudable and brilliant in its own way.

You mentioned that Quinn is fun to write so I'm looking forward to reading that piece.  I am expecting his voice to be as clear and distinct as the others have been, and so must admit I'm a bit excited for it.

Andrew the Great

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Re: December 14 - Andrew the Great - Lawless Ch 3 (Revision)
« Reply #3 on: December 16, 2009, 01:42:02 AM »
Thanks for the comments. Most of the problems with Aedon's opinions on Lenalt happened in the revision of the revision, when Lenalt suddenly became much more competent than he had been before, but also more insecure (because of the issues with the magi being too powerful you were describing). Essentially, I was having trouble conveying the right attitudes. Aedon basically thinks that in military matters, Lenalt is a brilliant commander, but he annoys him to death as a person, and he's really annoyed at Lenalt's insecurity with magi. (Yes, I know this was kind of written weirdly, but the intent was to convey these attitudes. I just didn't really do it very well. At all)

And yes, there are problems with the numbers. I just started whipping out numbers left and right. Hmmmm. Forty-three forts. (there should probably be around eleven or twelve at most, based on my map that I have). 15k per fort (once again, too high). Then I got to the end, where I put the 650k, and just did the multiplication. That was the point when I realized that there were some serious issues with the numbers, but I was too lazy to go back and change them. So this isn't me being totally ignorant, just not really paying attention at first, then not going back to change it. (My numbers that I actually had initially planned out are apparently too high as well, though, since I had actually planned to have Aedon have around 50-60k soldiers, with around 500 Deviators. That's going to be changing a bit, now, which, ironically enough, should also help with your issues with mages. I think part of the problem too is that all of my viewpoint characters are mages, who associate with mages, and as such it makes it seem like everybody is a mage. I'm hoping that when you run into a few more characters who aren't mages, or when my characters go to places where no one is a mage, you'll like this a bit more. So hang on for a bit)

I'll get more into how regular soldiers are used, and why you can't just use a ton of magi (though most of the action in this book does heavily involve magi) a little bit later, so don't give up hope yet. I probably do need to make it clear in this chapter though that magi are not, in fact, all powerful, and that having them doesn't automatically make your forces win.

Aedon does say several things that are kind of chumpy. I'm actually really glad that you don't like him/are annoyed by him. This is sort of the reaction I want about Aedon (at least a little bit). However, my concern is that it's TOO much, ie, you'll read it and go, this guy is such a typical villain. I know exactly what's going to happen. I'm not even going to bother reading the rest of the story. This guy is just too annoying to me. That, or that you'll think he's incompetent, which he's not, far from it.

He should be slightly less painful to read in his next viewpoint, because I'll have a bit more time to make sure I get his opinions on various things straight between now and then.

As to the whole power level thing, I find it funny, because I actually do have a ranking chart of all my magi (though it's based on who would beat who in a fight, based on pure skill and the various things they know how to do with Deviation that others don't). Although, Aedon isn't quite ranked 1,000,000. I put him at 100. Also, I did mention that he was more powerful than the other chaosmagi a few too many times.

Your issues with the scene with Aedon killing Veia stem largely from me knowing things that you don't that you probably should know, and so should Aedon though in this scene's internal thought, he doesn't. Like the fact that there are about 20 Chaosmagi (or at least there were, and that might be changing), and 16 of them are completely and totally loyal to Aedon. 2, He doesn't know where they stand (but they're too cautious to openly confront him like this), and 2 (the ones mentioned) openly dislike him. He's actually been trying to find an excuse to kill these two for a while. Not really sure why I didn't put that in there, since without it it comes across as him just being kind of chumpy:).

The sword - yes. You are right. I don't know why Aedon doesn't just Deviate to take off the guy's head. Faster and more effective. In fact, I'm pretty sure I was thinking as though Aedon was not in fact a Deviator for a while. It also may have been an attempt to show that Lenalt was still around (I had a couple of those, and I wrote this last week, so I don't actually remember which ones were which).

Moving way back to conventional warfare vs magical, there is a reason to have walls, even though magi can take them out. This is a failure on my part, as I totally failed to have Aedon react to it, but he should be somewhat surprised and or shocked that the Kreala were able to take out the walls. I'm not sure if I'll eventually explain that here or not, but you'll get an explanation in an upcoming chapter, so I'll leave it at that for now.

Lastly, on the issue of you being mean, you're not. You're being constructive. These are actually some of the best comments I've had so far, because they tell me exactly what I did wrong and what I managed to pull off the way I wanted too (though some of that was completely unintentional on your part :)). Don't worry about hurting my feelings (as I've mentioned before, I have none), I actually really appreciate your post.

And I'm glad you feel the writing is better than last submission's. I would be very sad if you didn't (but I would still want you to tell me).
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Frog

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Re: December 14 - Andrew the Great - Lawless Ch 3 (Revision)
« Reply #4 on: December 17, 2009, 04:19:39 AM »
Better than last time certainly.

I think though that if I were reading this for the first time I would need some reference in the beginning on who Aedan is. I mean, we see him jerking generals/magi around and doing the typical evil overlord thing, but still might give us a bit more from the get-go. You tell us a lot about his underlings here (probably too much in all his musings about Lenalt and the magi chick), but I really don't feel I know much more about Aedan other than that he is the evil overlord with people to enslave and underlings to push around. I need more character from him and some more tension. It all seemed rather glossed over and leisurely at this point.

LTU already got you with more troop information than I personally would worry about, so I won't get into any of that... Oh, and Magi has some biblical/religious conotation along with the mystical. Is that the effect you want?

Yeah, I think that was all I was noticing outside of my line edits. Good work. :)
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vegetathalas

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Re: December 14 - Andrew the Great - Lawless Ch 3 (Revision)
« Reply #5 on: December 17, 2009, 06:35:38 AM »
I am reading this for the first time, and my eyes bled a little from the info-dump at the beginning. I'd like to see the pacing slowed down a little more. So many things/characters introduced at once...

How did communication pass so quickly that the center knows the forts were attacked yesterday? Mage-grams?

"Forty-three forts, and only four of them left intact. “General, did we manage to hold any of our forts?" -- sounds like he's already answered his own question.

Why aren't there more magi spread around the forts? Why did only one teleport away and back?

Aedon admits Lenalt is responsible for most of his military success and then seems schitzophrenicly to say he's an idiot. He needs to make up his mind, or change it visibly by saying "on second thought..."

"Lenalt would have to send the Archmage back with orders for his subordinates, which neither the Mage or Lenalt's officers would like." -- why won't they like them? Unless they've been ordered to come along too...

Seems like waaay too much information. I don't know enough about Re/Len to care about their power struggle. Especially since Len just comes to bring a sword to decapitate someone with.

If you can travel anywhere, I'm really surprised the forts don't have a skeleton structure with just a handful of mages who can call a pool of troops from the heartland in at any time. It would be a more efficient use of men in terms of strategy.

How can he swim if he's holding Lenalt?

I wish I understood the scene in the context of the other characters. As it is, I'm not sure what parts of it is important and why I should care. I'm pretty sure it can be pared down, though. I wonder if you can't start the scene when he charges into the council room.

"He had risen through the ranks, one of only three Chaosmagi in history to do so." -- aren't they all high-ranked chaosmagi?

It seems like the council's arguments should relate more to the war. You could put this dialogue in any argument between king and council and it would fit because it's very generic.

I'm not sure how Aedon maintains his power. Being able to decapitate someone isn't exactly a great skill against a mob. Veia's death should demonstrate how one man can keep power while he's being rude to a bunch of mages. As in, it should be gruesome and something that inspires a lot of terror.

Why doesn't Relea protest earlier? Delren seems to be heading things.

She's talking about writing things down and not the fact that all the border forts got wiped out? She has some strange priorities. I'm surprised no one points this out.

“There's no reason why we shouldn't get along, Relea, if you would simply do as you were told.” -- too mustache-twirly.

If you can reinforce stone with sorcery, why didn't they do it BEFORE the attack. Seems like that'd rank pretty high on the to-do list when it comes to fortress improvements.

Relea's trust seems too easily won. I mean, the emperor just killed her subordinate/peer or whatever he was in front of her, and she dismisses that because he explains his orders.

I'd like to see Aedon have more complexity as a character. He seems flat at the moment.

Mostly, I want to understand why I should care about any of this because it's a bunch of different countries that I don't know or care about particularly. Give me a reason to root for a side.

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Re: December 14 - Andrew the Great - Lawless Ch 3 (Revision)
« Reply #6 on: December 17, 2009, 07:15:46 PM »
Thoughts while reading:

There is too much "telling" about the relationship between Renalt and Relea.  You need to show us that, really.  It's okay to hint towards it, but you just outright tell us, repeatedly.

Alert!  Alert!  Blatant info-dumping about the Kreala!

Cut most of the exposition as your MC is walking to the meeting.  It slows things down way too much.

Hmm... I will follow up with analysis in about an hour.  Short version: this chapter seemed awfully info-dumpy with lots of telling and little showing.
this is the way the world ends,
not with a bang, but a whimper
~T.S. Eliot

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Re: December 14 - Andrew the Great - Lawless Ch 3 (Revision)
« Reply #7 on: December 17, 2009, 09:32:14 PM »
Alright, now that I've given it some thought and read everyone else's comments, I realize that I don't really have that much new to say.  First, I'll second just about everything that has already been said.  They have pointed out just about all of the major holes/questions I had.  That being said, my one new suggestion would be this: get out your machete and start hacking away at this chapter.  Just from what I remember, you should be able to cut this baby down to about half of what is currently there.  There is a lot of exposition, a lot of telling, and a lot of internal thought that really slows things down.  Cut it.  Make it crisp; make it clean; make it snap.  A lot of what you say will be hinted at by the actions of the characters, so let the actions speak for themselves.  What isn't said by the actions can be hinted at by mini-info dumps or stray thoughts.  There is a seed of something good here, but it is being choked out by too much verbage. 

And now I'm starting to repeat myself; now there's irony for you.  Oh, and I don't mind cliche bad guys as long as  you find a way to make them more interesting than your average cliche.  Er... I guess that would make them not cliche.  Er...  I guess what I am trying to say is, you can have cliche moments as long as you are aware of them and subvert them a little, e.g. evil emperor is decapitates his minion to instill fear only to have his minions not care and/or stab him in the back right afterwards.  Twist it a little to make it unexpected.

Anyway, those are my thoughts.
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: December 14 - Andrew the Great - Lawless Ch 3 (Revision)
« Reply #8 on: December 19, 2009, 09:06:42 PM »
Thanks for the comments everybody. There are several issues that you mentioned that will get fixed, but I'm currently still  giddy because I actually managed to accomplish what I wanted to do with this chapter. Now I just need to fix all of the problems that popped up as a result of that, which shouldn't be too terribly difficult to do. As Cynic put it, whip out the machete and get to work on it.
« Last Edit: December 19, 2009, 09:13:46 PM by Andrew the Great »
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lethalfalcon

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Re: December 14 - Andrew the Great - Lawless Ch 3 (Revision)
« Reply #9 on: December 28, 2009, 10:30:50 AM »
Here's me, late again (although I'm still ahead of Silk, yay!).

I think my biggest problem with this whole chapter is that Aedon is supposedly the strongest Deviator of them all, and yet, he still does a lot of mundane things. He disrupts a meeting... by pushing open the doors forcefully. I mean, there are *much* better ways to ruin a meeting than opening a door.

Along those minds, why didn't he just freeze *everyone* in the room? That would certainly get everyone's attention, and since they couldn't move, he would be free to give instructions in silence. Surely if he's so powerful, he could manage that, no? (Or something similar and much more dramatic).

I will definitely agree with the earlier criticism between Aedon and Lenalt: you don't simultaneously look up at your best military officers and still berate them for half the chapter. It makes no sense. Either he's good, and you're happy, or he sucks, and you get rid of him. You also don't proceed to annoy him. Honestly, if I were Lenalt, I'd defect (I've left several jobs because the higher ups were jerks). It's better than being kicked around like an abused puppy.

Also, if he's such a great strategist, why is he not in control of the mages? Mages (and more specifically, their craft) are tools in a war. Nothing more. The people who know how to plan get to decide how to use those tools. For the Chaosmages to be self-directing, they had better know how to play war, because otherwise, they're going to end up costing a lot of normal lives as they do the wrong things at the wrong times. If they *are* good strategists, why aren't they directing the normal army instead? They'd be far more capable of it (sending messages, scrying, etc.) than a normal person could ever hope to be.

So, in the end, there are a lot of oddities that don't make sense. Now, that's not to say that they can't exist, but there needs to be a pretty darn good reason *why* things are the way they are, because it's not the status quo. And I need to see those reasons real quick, because otherwise, your whole chapter gets a big WTF from me. :(

Still, the writing itself isn't that bad, if a little info-dumpy. Try not to dull your machete. :)

Edit: Oh, and one more thing, did Aedon really just leave Lenalt behind? That's not very nice of him. It's like putting a goat in a den of lions. :P
« Last Edit: December 28, 2009, 10:35:27 AM by lethalfalcon »
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Re: December 14 - Andrew the Great - Lawless Ch 3 (Revision)
« Reply #10 on: December 28, 2009, 11:09:09 PM »
Pffft. You're not ahead of me by much :P

Is it a problem when you guys think "it doesn't matter if I'm late, I still beat Silk"? ::)

Okay, it's just occured to me that I have no idea who Aedon actually is. A higher-ranking military officer? the Emperor himself? I don't have a clue. A little we learn that Relea is second only to Aedon in Deviation skill, which tells us a little, but I still don't know of Aedon is a member of the army or what.

The point of view is all over the place in the first couple of pages. It mostly settles down by the end of page 3, but it's hard to get a grounding in what's going on before that. Aedon's opinion of Lenalt seems to go likewise all over the place, and it hasn't settled down by the end of page 3. It remains all over the place, and it makes your characterization of Lenalt himself seem really inconsistent (since we get basically nothing but Aedon's opinion of him).

I take Aedon's point that it's easier to manipulate a crowd of people than one person. But you make Relea sound extremely formidable... and the rest of the Deviators sound like drooling idiots.

Okay, I get that Lenalt doesn't like mages already. :P

Wait. One mage won the battle at the very smallest fort, so Aedon walks in and moves the whole battalion of mages into that same very small fort? I'm so confused.

Okay, so Aedon IS the Emperor. Did you have to take seven pages to tell me that? From everything else you'd written, I'd been leading towards "high ranking army mage person".

Ceinal seems to fit your characterization of the magi as drooling idiots... So does Veia. Who is not only--almost randomly, it seems--shouting insurrections against the Emperor, she is doing so as if he isn't even there.

Aedon's treatment of Veia seems unwontedly harsh, given the way the Chaosmagi were treating him just before he killed Veia. Also, I'm not opposed to brutality as a characterization, but here I have no idea what to do with this kind of brutality--I just don't know enough. I can guess that it's unusual for Aedon to behave this way, but I have no idea what the stakes are or why any of this is important.

That leads me to a more general concern: The first half of this chapter seemed to be a lot of political infodumping without any real grounding in what this war is, why it's important, or how it will affect the story going forward. (It also, as Vegas has pointed out, introduces an awful lot awfully fast.) The bits where Aedon was actually interacting with Lenalt in the beginning (POV issues notwithstanding) and the meeting with the Chaosmagi were much more engaging, but I still don't have a sense of the importance of all this, and I think that's ...uh... important. I don't need to know everything right away but I do need to be able to start forming my own conclusions, and I don't have enough to do that yet.

Another part of why I don't understand the significance of it is the mixed signals we're getting from the characters. As Vegas has said, Aedon's talking about the war and Relea's talking about magical academics. Maybe the latter is important, but I don't have context for that either, so it just kind of serves to push that whole war thing that I don't really understand anyway farther from the front of my mind.

Aedon didn't leave Lenalt behind, he chased all of the mages out of the room first. Lenalt did sorta drop off the radar there, but I assumed that he was still in the room after the mages left.