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Messages - Hamster

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This was by far my favourite of all your submissions. It had great(as is usual with your submissions) characterization and dialogue. I especially liked the conversation with Burm about being free, and Jalean and Jin's conversation about weapons, both were fairly interesting and engaging. But what made this my favourite chapter is that we finally get the feeling that things are moving forward, we get a taste of things to come. I mean, finally the Shroud came back into the story as something tangible, and we get to see a larger portion of Jalean's life, her motivations and desires and background, all the while moving the plot forward.

I do think however, that this chapter, or at least this type of chapter, needed to come earlier on. While I thoroughly enjoyed reading all your submissions, most of them didn't have a good hook to make me want to immediately read the next chapter. It was a cool world with nifty characters, but not really a plot line. I disagree with Cynic, I don't think more is needed in this chapter. I just think we needed this chapter earlier on.

And regarding the fight scene, I very much enjoyed it, sure it was a bit complex and wordy, but still engaging and understandable.
I agree with Cynic about the Jalean/Jin relationship though. I do think she was too tough with him, and the image of her† threatening to castrate him, when juxtaposed with this chapter, is a bit far fetched. Either she wouldn't have been that tough on him, or she wouldn't have been this friendly this quick. But if you have an explanation for it, or if it fits overall later on, then I'll accept it. It's not that jarring, definitely not
drag the reading from the story kicking and screaming, beat them over the head with a rock and leave them wondering what happened.

Overall, like I said earlier, my favourite chapter, and I can't wait to see where this goes.


So I was about to reply with suggestions, but lethalfalcon almost literally took the words† out of my mouth:

Okay, so you want a better way to describe that he's purposely not learning? SHOW IT! If you're inside his head, make him resistant to learning. Right now, I just get the impression that he's a clumsy weakling. Honestly, though, at this point I would expect him to have given up on that sort of rebellion. In fact, if he was intelligent, he would realize that they're giving him a tool. Learning how to fight from someone means you know a lot about how they fight. So, you learn how to fight better, and you learn how to deal with your opponent when you have to (like when you escape). I'd imagine this would change Jin's character a bit too much, though, so we'll stick with the weak little boy scenario. This may mean that this chapter should come a lot earlier than six years after he got to the Pits.
I have nothing of value to add to this, it sums it up perfectly.

Plotwise, I get what lethalfalcon is saying, but personally, I'm engaged enough with the characters and small hints of plot already. It depends on what length you're going for, because after all, a lot of longer books take a while to get the plot going. another chapter or two I would start to get antsy and wonder if the time I'm spending to read this is worth it. And I'm also confused chronologically, so in your next submission, could you maybe give us a rough outline of which and whose chapters would go in what order?

Okay, so Iím sorry for not critiquing your other chapters, but donít worry, I did read them, and I have to say that I find your concept and world very intriguing. Itís unique enough without being too far out there. I like that.

   Now, maybe Iím missing something here, but it seems to me that this chapter is almost a rewrite, because I definitely recognize bits and pieces of whatís happening, but there are also large chunks of new material. Or maybe Iím just having a weird case of dťjŗ vu.†

Anyhow,† one thing stood out right away that I did not like about this chapter: it was supposed to be six years forward, but I donít sense a great deal of difference in Jinís character. I had to reread the part about it being six years, because to me, it could have been one or two years and I would have believed that instantly, but six is pushing it. I also donít want you to tell me that he is changed, like here
suffering for six years had definitely changed him.
Especially because I didnít notice the definite change; sure he seems like heís a little older and mature, but not enough to warrant for that amount of time, this sentence somewhat irks me(of course this is just my opinion, others might disagree).

 Also, with the harshness of the environment and the intensity of the whipping, I find it hard to believe that he would have survived, or not grown tougher and more cynical of life after six years of it.† I doubt he would reflect on how much he missed silks either after six years. Maybe in the first year or so, but he would move on after six years. In my opinion (which isnít worth that muchÖ) Jin would not be reflecting on the Shroud and his first escape attempt and silks and his father after six years, they would be a little more distant in his memory. For instance, I would assume he would be beaten for mentioning missing silks or his past, and since then would learn to equate them with pain, and therefore NOT reflect about them any more.(sorry, I just noticed that you mention this when heís thinking about his father, and tears, and pain, sorry for missing that). Anyhow, Iím focusing so much on this, which really isnít a deal breaker in your story, because there isnít a whole lot to find wrong. Overall, I would like more show and less tell, and for you to make it a little more believable, especially in the terrible environment he is in.

Okay, so Iíve got one more big beef with this chapter, (still on the whole six year topic, I know Iím beating my own dead horse, but whatever) and that is his lack of muscle and any sort of fighting ability. I would have thought that slaves who are trained to be gladiators, trained to fight, would, after six years of training, have at least some small ability to fight. Especially for what we are told(more often than shown) that Jin is a brilliant kid, and a lot of fighting is using your brain and strategy and technique. Yet he is portrayed as helpless when he fights Burm, and he is held in contempt by everything for his lack of fighting prowess. However, he does beat the boy in the fight near the end, and that fight was to me exactly as he should be. But my problem is that itís inconsistent with how he is supposed to be a baby.

Anyhow, even though I may seem overly critical of this story, Iím really enjoying it, and I like Jinís character. His situation makes it very easy to feel sorry for him and root for him. I definitely want to keep reading and find out what happens with him. Iím also very hooked with the Shroud and the sparks from his fingers, I really want to know more about what it is and all that magic system mystery jazz that fantasy writers always include. I look forward to the next instalment.

Reading Excuses / Sept 14 2009 Hamster, Soul Taker Chapter 6
« on: September 14, 2009, 07:01:23 AM »
Hi all,

Been a long time since I've submitted something, and this happens to also be a resubmission to a few of you, albeit with a lot of changes(but it's still very, very rough)

And to those of you who have been around for my old submissions, I'm going to be reworking Kale's character a bit, so let me know if anything different about his personality or what have you is noticable in this chapter.

Hope you guys enjoy it(or at least take the time to read it  ;) )

Feel free to tear through everything, especially on character development, which I need to be a strongpoint for my novel, but is one of the weak points of my writing...

Well thank you sir! That would be quite handy, Erik's chapters 14 and 15 will be sufficient, thanks a lot Chaos!

Reading Excuses / Re: Sept 7th - Chaos - Rebirth, Chapter 1
« on: September 09, 2009, 11:19:42 PM »
About easing up on the magic, I was kinda disappointed by that. I was looked forward to finding out more about Cerebrancy, cause it sounded really interesting in the prologue, but I guess I'll just have to rafo in your next submissions...

This was a really good follow up chapter in my opinion, but a little confusing at the start. I read about the train, and then quickly reread it to make sure I got it right, so it confused me alittle at how modern the world was: I almost thought it was a long, long time after the events in the prologue. But I was soon set straight by reading the rest, it was just the initial paragraph or so that was confusing.

Also, I don't really mind this, but I felt like you introduced a lot of new/made up terms and names for a first chapter, and that might scare people off. Personally I love reading worldbuilding stuff, but I just noticed a lot of new terminology that isn't really expanded on. At a few times it felt like you just use a name without explaining anything about it and move on, expecting the reader to know what's going on. Not a huge deal, but like I said, it felt a little much for a beginning.

I like the political intrigue, but I do hope that we get some good old fashioned action at some point, preferably in the first few chapters, just to rehook me again.

While your characterization is definitely well done, I felt like the word and motif of "monster" was overdone a bit. I would have liked maybe a different word or few that Medora used when describing either Kurick or Haiden.( Or maybe this is just me being sick of that word because I just overlistened to a song called Monster in the last few days). Either way, I would like some more variety of thinking from Medora that rehashing over and over that her father was good, wait, no he was a monster, wait, but he did good things: but still a monster"  It's a good internal struggle, but I felt it was overdone in one chapter, and especially if it carries on throughout the book, it's gonna get old real fast

Still, fantastic chapter, good pacing and character development, awesome worldbuilding and good promise of things to come.

Haha, well, I happened to clean out my email after...

Reading Excuses / Re: Email List + Submission Dates
« on: September 09, 2009, 06:35:24 AM »
Tis something from my first book, I don't really want to work on other stuff, too much distraction.

Reading Excuses / Re: Email List + Submission Dates
« on: September 09, 2009, 05:43:14 AM »
I would love to be added to next week's submission date. I really need a deadline to give myself some motivation to write something new

I just realized that I deleted your chapters thinking that I had already read sorry that I can't really offer a critique, but according to everyone else it was good, so good job!

Reading Excuses / Re: Sept 7-westwriter-heroes of the Necrowar-ch. 5
« on: September 09, 2009, 05:40:23 AM »
It was a good chapter, but subpar to your other ones for a few reasons(I won't mention all of them, so just read Cynic's stuff again, cause he said alot of stuff I agree with)

Personally, I would move this at least one chapter forward in your timeline. It's a battle for the lives of all the townsmen, Will, his sister, his dad, and Dezkin. But we havn't had time to connect personally with these characters. To some extent I cared what happened, because I knew that it was important to the storyline, and I always like to see the main characters survive, but I wasn't hanging on every word, desperate to know what happened and who died/lived. I didn't really care if Dezkin was captured, cause I don't know him well enough to care, same with Will's dad. Now I got some emotion out of Will, but not nearly enough when his dad is capture.

He screamed, "No!" He had never felt so helpless.  He tried to hold back the tears as he turned and looked up the trail Abby had taken.   He listened to the sounds of battle.  He sighed and started up the trail.  He slipped deeper into the forest and left the town and all the people he loved to fight for their own survival.
That doesn't really move me at all as to his Dad's plight. I mean, He sighed and then walked away? It's kind've underwhelming.

I'm really sorry to sound super harsh and negative. I hope I'm being constructive here, it' s good, I just want to help ya make it better. :)  The action scenes were generally well written and gripping, but the flow of things happening could use a little work. ALso, this is a minor thing,and something that I messed up with doing in my first draft, is thatyou changed the pov from Will to Abby in one paragraph to the next, and then back again, but without letting us know you changed it. Now, I could figure it out, but still, it broke the flow of the fight scene for me.

Overall, a good bit of action that livens things up alot, which I generally like, but I hink that we needed more character development before it can really be effective. But I'm intrigued by the story so far, so keep it up!

Reading Excuses / Re: Sept. 7 - Recovering Cynic - Oathbound - Ch. 1
« on: September 09, 2009, 05:24:38 AM »
A really good first attempt at a novel, way better than my first attempt by a long shot.

Overall, there's not really any specifics I can give for improvements, so please forgive me if I'm rambling and vague.

Raven is right, why is the bell so far away? You made it sound like the bell was the farthest reaches of the frontier, which makes no sense, because it should be closer to them, and closer to the Holy Empire(I think that's what it is..) so the knights can respond quicker. Maybe you have a purpose for that though.

Until he discovered Marshall's death, I wasn't feeling the love of Jarl for his family enough. You kind've tell us that he's important, and couldn't live without him; which is fine, because he probably would be thinking along those lines at the time, but I wanted more body language to show me how he felt. Up until he discovers his death, then it's portrayed much more passionately.

By the gods I am going to put an arrow in that thing if I have to do it from point blank range. 
I'm not really an expert, but would the term "point blank range" be in use in this time period? It jarred me out of the story a bit.

And why were the wildmen and the Hound waiting at the house. They had been there for well over an hour after killing his family, were they just waiting for him? Because that seems out of character of dumb and unsophisticated wildmen, when they couldn't even have been sure of a male who lived there. And if they were waiting there, they could have taken him out before he got inside the house. That part doesn't seem  to be entirely realistic,but I can forgive that, because all authors do that to some extent, or maybe it's more complicated and we simply havn't read enough to understand it all. Either way, good job overall.

But this chapter is a good hook, well written, good characterization and some worldbuilding without giving a massive infodump. And the sneak peak of the 2nd chapter looked promising. I will eagerly await your next submission!

Reading Excuses / Re: Sept 7-Frog-DR-Chp 7&8, Alt 1
« on: September 09, 2009, 04:47:29 AM »
Sorry for not really critiquing anything lately, I've gotten into a rut of reading everything, but forgetting to comment on things, while in my head I think I did comment. †:P

Overall, I would say you need some more action. I know that you think action scenes aren't your forte, but you don't need a big fight or anything, just some kind of action, rather than a whole bunch of chapters in a row filled mostly with dialogue and infodumping/worldbuilding. I'm sad to say that I'm slowly losing interest. I still like Aisha's character, and the dialogue between her and the genie is awesome, really well done and my favourite part of each chapter so far. The rest of the dialogue isn't as great... †I agree with Cynic in that I feel like the plot needs to be farther along, talk about the pot calling the kettle black though...even though, I still want something to happen.

Oh, go with the Alt. Chapter 1, it works quite well and will give the readers satisfaction when they make the connection from chapter 1 to chapter 8, and has a nice cliffhanger. But I agree with Raven here, because of the big difference of setting and characters from the new chapter 1 to chapter 2, it might work better as a prologue. For flow's sake. But either way, more memorable and interesting that the other first chapter. Keep the alternate.

Sorry to sound harsh Frog, I do like your story, and the writing is pretty good, I'm just getting a little bored with the way things are progressing. But I do like where the plot is promising to go, it seems to brim with potential awesomeness and interesting stuff, so I look forward to where it's going.

Reading Excuses / Re: Aug 10-Frog-DR-Chp 2&3
« on: August 14, 2009, 03:05:07 AM »

don't worry, Queen's Opal was good, but I can see the growth and maturity in your writing from this one, they're bother good, but so far I like this one better.

More with Ednar, becasue I was more confused with the depth of their conversation, but then with Mordin there was more tension and potential for future character development, so I was more inclined to pay more attention to their conversation.

Reading Excuses / Re: Aug 10-Frog-DR-Chp 2&3
« on: August 14, 2009, 12:59:20 AM »
If it's gonna be partly musical, Frog, then I'm expecting "At the End of the Day" from Les Mis. In fact, put any song in from Les Mis and it would be awesome.

Personally Frog, I'm enjoying this story more than Queen's Opal. The pacing is very well done, it kept me interested for most of it, even though I wanted to start skimming during Raven's and the Prince's conversation.

I'm intrigued by the background story with Raven and the princes, I want to know more about all their characters already, and where the plot is going to take her and change her.

The scenes with Aisha and the genie were pretty much pefect in my opinion, the dialogue and imagery fit with them, and it was a good way to show their characters.

And by the way Frog, I found the genie's personality "more playful" and a lot more complex than meets the eyes. But now I have high expectations for his character to be dynamic and intricate throughout the book, occuring from his relationship with Aisha

Good job overall Frog, not much more critiquing I can add, everybody else always covers everything! I need to get faster on the draw

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