Author Topic: Aug 8th - Sir Robert - The Midas Gauntlet - Chapter 1  (Read 926 times)

Sir Robert

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Aug 8th - Sir Robert - The Midas Gauntlet - Chapter 1
« on: August 09, 2011, 02:36:50 AM »
Chapter 1 Summary - Tommy Travers loves books,  He doesn't have any friends, doesn't care about sports and doesn't bother with girls.  At least not yet.  When he turns fourteen is when it all started.  As Tommy is reading his greatest wish is granted.  He is pulled into the story and gets to meet the characters and live the adventures he has always dreamed about.  His first experience is in People of the Plains, a book about a tribe of people who live with, and communicate with wolves.  He is pulled in during the hunt of a great buck.  Tommy gets to experience first hand the difference between reading and living an adventure.

Asmodemon

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Re: Aug 8th - Sir Robert - The Midas Gauntlet - Chapter 1
« Reply #1 on: August 09, 2011, 04:24:56 PM »
First line and first paragraph aren't bad, but they don't really hook me in either. Saying that 'it started' is too vague to grab my interest and the following lines introducing the character aren't spectacular either. You're telling us a lot about Tommy, but I'd much rather see that he's obsessed with books than be told about it.

"So that's it, pretty much my whole existence in a few paragraphs" and a boring existence at that, which makes the first few paragraphs boring too. That's not what you want in a first chapter, exposition about his early life, if you have to give it, should come later.†
Right now the story needs a hook, be it action or something else, but it has to be interesting. The fact that when his father gave him his first book is also the last time anyone ever saw his father is an interesting thing, instead of portraying the rest of Tommy's life I'd focus more on this, right when you first mention "Run, Jump, Ride".

The small excerpt of the book Tommy's reading hooked me more than Tommy's storyline, at this point the story from the perspective of the huntsman and his wolves is better than that of the fourteen year old bookworm. We're three pages in and we know almost all there is to know about Tommy except why we should care. Yes, he lost his father, but that's barely a footnote, even to Tommy. Now I will say that though I've been reading first-person stories more than I used to I still like third person better, when I read first person I need to get to like the main perspective soon or I'm likely to put the book down. So maybe it's just me, but to me at this point Tommy is just not that sympathetic a character to read about.

On the fourth page the story changes when Tommy is sucked into the book, however this doesnít immediately help make things better. Tommyís life up to this point is very mundane, a normal house, normal school, normal everything. There isnít a hint of magic and then suddenly he gets drawn into a book for no apparent reason. I wasnít expecting magic and there is no lead in to tell the reader that itís possible. Now weíre entering into the territory of the Earthling falling into a fantasy world trope, which isnít a trope I like and have rarely seen executed well.

I hope youíll prove me wrong.

Something that struck me about Tommy, in the form of Tamaska, is that heís surprised by what he sees around him, but apparently not by the body heís wearing. Instead of a fourteen year old boy heís now a huntsman, he has a bow in his hands and an arrow notched, so he should see that his hands and arms are different now, more muscular or wiry or tanned, so are his clothes and everything else, but Tommy doesnít notice these changes which I think is odd.
When Tommy thinks ďhadnít this guy ever heard of a washing machineĒ I really doubt Tommyís intelligence and how much heís actually read. Heís in the world portrayed in the book, Reule is a hunter who hunts together with wolves. There arenít washing machines in this setting of warriors and battles!

Tamaska does have similarities to Thomas, but it made me pause before I remembered Tommyís name is actually Thomas. Now Iím getting the picture that Tommy didnít take over someoneís role in the book but was added as an extra, just the way he is. Even in furs he shouldnít have the body of a hunter Ė he should stick out like a sore thumb. He notes that Reule is very dirty, but if he truly fits in with the book-world so is he, so when he sees his hands holding the bow he should also see filth. Thereís a suspension of disbelief going on between Tommy and Reule that doesnít feel natural. The way he looks, the way he canít hunt, the way he threw up when Reule gutted the deer...but Reule doesnít say a thing even though Tommy is the last person who should be hunting.

Back in the village Tamaska has a history in that world all of a sudden, including a wife. And though he knows something is off and that ĎTamaskaí isnít behaving as he should Reule covers for him. During the walk Reule also said nothing. I have the feeling he should have, when the role of ĎTamaska the hunterí is suddenly taken over by Tommy the bookworm, who is totally incapable of doing anything to save his life, there should be more of a reaction.

What I did like was Tommyís reaction to the people in the book Ė this is showing me he despises being filthy rather than you telling me stuff, like at the start of the story. Especially the end with his wife was very well done, though Reuleís wink felt off Ė this is because Iím expecting him to worry about his friendís odd behaviour rather than make light of it.

Sir Robert

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Re: Aug 8th - Sir Robert - The Midas Gauntlet - Chapter 1
« Reply #2 on: August 09, 2011, 11:49:21 PM »
I appreciate the review and the many helpful suggestions.  Looks like I have a lot of work to do.

Will777r

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Re: Aug 8th - Sir Robert - The Midas Gauntlet - Chapter 1
« Reply #3 on: August 11, 2011, 05:21:41 AM »
My first read made me think of Princess Bride and Inkheart. I'm not normally a fan of 1st person as I find it very stilted. But I thought Tommy's internal banter was good. It drew me in a bit, which is saying a lot. I almost always scrap a book when I see it's 1st person.

I think you dropped some things that were interesting into the start (like Tommy's dad disappearing).

I hate to piggyback on Asmo's post, but he pretty much summed up my concerns.

Will777r

Mad_Scientist

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Re: Aug 8th - Sir Robert - The Midas Gauntlet - Chapter 1
« Reply #4 on: August 12, 2011, 09:03:01 PM »
I feel most of what I say will probably be a repeat of something Asmodemon said, but I'll give my comments anyways.

The chapter was a bit slow to draw me in, and so was the character of Tommy, but as I read further on I started to get a better feel for Tommy's personality and like him more. But the beginning part definitely could have used a better hook or a quicker start, or both.

I also have to wonder about what form Tommy appears as inside the book.  When Tommy was playing with the wolf, he was able to dodge its "attack" once and send it sprawling. This makes it seem clear to me that Tommy does have the body and strength of Tamaska the hunter, even if he doesn't really know how to use it. So I have to wonder why he hasn't noticed any change yet.

I too find it strange that Ruele doesn't comment at all on Tamaska's odd behavior. His words about how "Tamaska let me have the shot for once" makes me think that usually Tamaska would be the more dominant and stronger member of the duo. It seems like Ruele should think that Tamaska is ill or something based on the way Tommy behaved.

And (in yet another similarity to Asmodemon) I loved the scene where Tommy meets his wife. That was very funny.

Anyways, the story definitely has some promise I think, and it got better as the chapter went on, but there are definitely some rough edges to the first chapter.

Sir Robert

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Re: Aug 8th - Sir Robert - The Midas Gauntlet - Chapter 1
« Reply #5 on: August 13, 2011, 12:30:48 AM »
Thank you for the comments.  I will be re-working that first chapter for sure.

akoebel

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Re: Aug 8th - Sir Robert - The Midas Gauntlet - Chapter 1
« Reply #6 on: August 14, 2011, 02:15:10 PM »
It's refreshing to see some 1st person POV here.
I'm not against it personally (the POV I hate is omniscient), so it was a good change. What's important in 1st person is the strength of the narrator's voice, and I think you got it down.

I'm not a fan of the "It all started when..." beginning. I think you can find something more original than this overused trope.

The book excerpt felt too long (and a little boring) to me. Perhaps because I don't like that sort of book about hunters and all. I almost skipped the section.

I liked how you showed that the reality is very different here : having him puking around was fun. As the others, I wonder why he wasn't called on his behaviour. I guess I'll have to read and find out.

I noted that a few times, he's referring himself as "no coward". Is he that self-deluded?
Why isn't he convinced that he's dreaming? In his place, I would be!

The last line both pleased me and left me wondering. It's a wonderful joke, but is it in character for a 14 yo boy ? What does he know about marriage really to describe it as being worse than dying?


cjhuitt

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Re: Aug 8th - Sir Robert - The Midas Gauntlet - Chapter 1
« Reply #7 on: August 21, 2011, 07:58:36 PM »
I won't rehash what others have said (I hope).

Regarding the beginning, it is often supposed to set up the conflict that is resolved at the end -- something I'm having a problem with, so I'm looking at it also.† Right now, Tommy goes right into the books and doesn't know how to get out.† Is that the big obstacle?† If the overarching problem is something outside the books, we probably need to see an example of that before we hop into the first one.

The other thing about first person I would mention is that it is strongly tied to personality.† Right now I get hints and touches of Tommy's personality, but it's not consistent enough to keep me avidly reading.† As it stands, I would keep reading for a while, but run the risk of getting bored or setting it down and never getting back to it.

Onto details.† Most of my hunting experience is second-hand, but from what I know, an arrow through the heart will stop a buck very quickly.† Quickly enough you won't need a wolf pack to track it.† It's the shot every bow-hunter tries for, come fall.

I agree a horse would make carrying a buck much easier, but there are a couple of problems with how it is shown in this chapter.† First, taking a horse through woods with close undergrowth is difficult, and often not worth it.† Second, it would take a very well-trained horse to not shy and keep away from blood -- they are prey animals, and blood means predators.† It would be an amazingly well-trained horse that would allow a bloody carcass on its back.† Also, two strong men could carry it, especially field-dressed.† It's not easy, but doable.† This is all separate from the historical accuracy (or not -- it is after all fiction within fiction) of having horses to be tamed by people wherever the story takes place.

Also, I wasn't entirely sold on the description of the skinning.† It looked accurate enough to me, but I was hoping for a couple more strong, vivid details (from Tommy's perspective, of course).

I was also surprised by Reule not mentioning Tommy's odd behavior, but I was also surprised that Tommy didn't do more odd things.† Especially the dirt, as others have mentioned, but why didn't Tommy stop to wash off, or suggest Reule did?

Finally, if the wilderness is as big and trackless as suggested, why not kill the members of a competing tribe?† If the other people just disappeared one day, who knows what accident got them?† (I guess one member did run away, but the wolves could presumably run him down also).

Finally, nice touch with being married at the end.† On the other hand, it surprises me also, since that means the character Tommy took over from is somewhat older than I expected.
Caleb