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Messages - Mad_Scientist

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Ok, resent the email and this time the .doc file is actually attached.

For this week, I am sending a short story I wrote recently: "Apostle of Death."

Was it just me/my account, or was there no story attached to the email?

Crap. I screwed up when sending out the email somehow.

The hackers must have re-hacked it more recently, since I changed my email address on this account this last month, and that spreadsheet has my new email.

EDIT: It'd be funny if we could get this guy banned from Blogger for posting personal information.

My email is there as well, and I only joined this forum in June, so yes, definitely a more recent hack than just April.

Reading Excuses / 08/22/2011 - Mad_Scientist - Apostle of Death (V)‏
« on: August 22, 2011, 07:28:47 PM »
For this week, I am sending a short story I wrote recently: "Apostle of Death." I originally started this story as a writing exercise to see if I could write a short story based on a starting line that went something like "(Character name) knew he would be dead in 10 minutes." It's my first attempt to write a short story. Since I was busy with family this past week I wasn't able to work on Solitude any more, so I decided to send this out instead. Let's see you think.

Reading Excuses / Re: Email List + Submission Dates
« on: August 18, 2011, 07:33:19 PM »
I probably won't be able to submit further work on my book this coming monday. I've been away from home doing stuff with family most of the week so far and expect that to continue till sunday, so I haven't gotten much writing done. (So don't expect much in the way of critiques from me this week either, though I'll at least read what was sent out)

Anyways, I do have a short story I've already written that I'd be interested in submitting, if there is a spot for me.

Thanks for the comments everyone:  a lot to think about. It gave me some ideas on how to change these early parts of the book, though I'm going to wait until I finish the whole story before going back to revise these early parts.

For those curious and perhaps concerned about the title and whether it means that Serra will be the only character, worry not. The title was something I came up with when the concept for the story was in an earlier and drastically different form, and I decided to keep the title for now, but it's not indicitive of the rest of the story. The next chapter, you will be introduced to the other major viewpoint character (and he won't spend the whole chapter alone), and the chapter after that he'll end up meeting Serra.

I initially wondered if perhaps I was cutting the portions with Serra wandering by herself too short, since they were such a big part of my initial ideas for the story. Well, after these critiques, that worry is something I don't have any longer.  ;D

   Well, this is my submission. It's the prologue and first chapter of a book I am working on called Solitude, though that name may change. I came up with it when the novel was still in some early concept stages, and I'm not sure it fits with the idea I am working on now. But I like the title, and I find it easier to think of the book as "Solitude" than "Working Title," so for now it will remain Solitude.
   As to what it is, well, it's a fantasy novel. Aside from that, I will say nothing yet. None of you have read any of Solitude yet, or any of my creative writing period, so I'd rather you read this without preconceptions. I'm sure I'll have plenty to say once some comments have been posted.
   You're the first people outside my family to see this, or any of my creative writing. Let's see what you guys think.

Reading Excuses / Re: 8/7/11 - Chaos - Rebirth, Chapter One
« on: August 14, 2011, 02:47:29 AM »
Ah, good. I figured (and hoped) that was the case, but in case it wasn't, I thought you'd want to know about that aspect of sapphire as soon as possible.  ;D

Reading Excuses / Re: 8/7/11 - Chaos - Rebirth, Chapter One
« on: August 13, 2011, 09:24:40 PM »

I'll say that a large part of a gemsword's strength is not a mystical thing, like Shardblades, but a function of sapphire's hardness. It is a much harder material than steel, so that makes them more deadly weapons. There is more to it, but that is the simplest explanation.

I wondered about this, and there are some potential issues with that explanation. akoebel went into this some in his post already. Sapphire is very brittle, and it can shatter or break fairly easily, even though it can't be cut easily. My family used to collect small gemstones and various minerals specimens, and I remember hearing about an inident where my father and older brother were looking at some of their collections, and accidentally shattered a small sapphire completely by somehow hitting it with another sapphire (don't remember the precise details).

If you'd rather rely on something other than a half forgotten ancedote for your info, here's something I found on a site related to watch making, which talks about using sapphire crystals.

"It is important to note that in the literal sense, hardness is not synonymous with strength. Brittleness basically indicates how resistant the material is to plastic deformation. A very brittle material will, when placed under stress, break/fracture rather than bend. In the case of a sapphire crystal versus a glass crystal, the sapphire is considerably more brittle. As a result, a sapphire crystal is more likely to chip or crack than is glass counterpart if both are subjected to an equally hostile stress (banging, etc.)."

Now, you implied that there was at least something of a mystical component to the gemswords, so perhaps that can explain why they don't shatter.

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.

Reading Excuses / Re: August 8 Hubay, Lord Domestic Ch15
« on: August 12, 2011, 08:08:46 PM »
This is the first I've read of your story, so I really don't know what's going on. But your stuff caught my interest anyways. The part at the end, with the chell ariving, seemed like a nice chapter cliffhanger, as I was able to tell from Lisu's reaction that their arrival is important, even if I don't know what they are.

And that's pretty much all I can say. The chapter was too short for me to get a good grasp on anything. When I see more of your work, I'll be able to offer more in depth criticism and comments.

Reading Excuses / Re: 8/08/2011 - Amnonian - The Creator - Short Story
« on: August 11, 2011, 10:45:45 PM »
Well, the concept was interesting. The "god in mortal form doesn't know who he is" thing felt very familiar to me, but I can't remember ever reading such a story where the god in question was the god rather than just a god. So I think there was some potential in the basic concept. There were quite a few issues with its execution, though.

You mentioned that you've started writing in third-person now, and I think that is a good idea. The first-person viewpoint didn't precisely detract from the story, but it added nothing, and was therefore something of a distraction. The strength of first-person, at least in my opinion, is the way it can be used to really let us get inside the head of the main character. It can also be used to directly address the audience, and can provide foreshadowing of future events. Your story didn't take advantage of any of those things.

I wouldn't completely abandon the idea of doing a story in first-person. I'd just say that if you do, make sure you play to the strengths of that perspective.

The story didn't really grab me. Part of the problem is that I never got a feel for any of the characters, and part of the problem is that the dialogue felt rather stilted. Not just the dialogue, but the descriptions as well. Everything felt a bit too abrupt, it seemed like I could never really get a feel for a scene before we moved on. I think a big part of the problem was that you tried to cram a lot into such a short story. We get Crea's introduction, background info and setting descriptions, Troy's introduction, Troy's reveal as the Destroyer, the fight at the Water stone, the fight at the Air stone, the fight at the Fire stone, the fight at the Earth stone, and the climax.

There were too many different locations. Among various places we had a world in the clouds, a fiery hellhole, and a strange mountain land, but the limits of the short story format meant we got at most a handful of sentences describing these strange environments, and we left them as quickly as we arrived. I haven't read very many short stories, but I think they might work better when they are more focused. A full length novel can explore a whole bunch of diverse locations better, because it has the time to.

And finally, the story was a bit too predictable. It was pretty easy to guess that Crea was the Creator. At least it became easy the moment we found out that Troy was the Des*Troy*er. And as soon as the Water crystal was destroyed, I guessed that all the other crystals would be destroyed as well, and that the climax would occur after that. Sure enough I was right. This eliminated any tension during the battles for the crystals. I knew they were going to lose ahead of time.

This just added onto the other issues. Since I didn't care about the characters and could predict how the fights were going to go, I was tempted to just skip to the end, as there at least I wasn't totally certain what would happen. Not a good thing. Though at the end, you did kind of surprise me a little.

I figured that Crea would probably save the world and restore it, not that it would be destroyed with everyone on it dying, and he'd create a new world. So as I said, I was surprised, but I wasn't particularly happy about this surprise. The problem was the legend said the Creator was supposed to help the people. There were several times during the story where people said things like "The Creator will help us." Yet they all died anyways.

Maybe if there had been some indication that they lived on in some afterlife, or got reborn into the new world, I would have felt differently. But I never got any indication of anything like that, or even an indication that things would have been the slightest bit different for the people had the Destroyer succeeded in killing the Creator.

Maybe that type of downer ending was what you were going for, but it seemed to me that either the legend should have been worded differently, or there should have been mention of that fact that the Creator failed to fufill the legend. As the story is written, there is contradiction between the set up and the ending that is never explained.

Anyways, I hope those comments help. Hope I don't come off as too negative.

(Note on all my critiques: for now, I won't be focusing very much on things such as typos, minor grammar mistakes, or the occassional oddly phrased sentence. For one thing, these are often very early drafts. In addition, the technical aspects of writing are some of my biggest weaknesses at the moment, so there are people much better qualified to give that level of critique. But if something is especially noticable or odd, or constantly repeated, I may mention it.)

First, what I liked.

Ciera's obsession with books, especially her love of books with unusual topics like vapor mechanics.

The world seems to be VERY female dominated. I can't really guess exactly what you plan to do with this from just chapter 8, but I see many interesting possibilites, which is always a good thing.

Lorn. At the moment, I can't tell whether he'll be hero, villian, or something in between. Regardless, he's my favorite character right now.

Next, what I  didn't like so much. Keep in mind that I havn't read anything before this chapter, and it's possible that if I had it would eliminate some of these issues.

The first paragraph seems extremely long and a bit unwieldy. Some of the other paragraphs were also like this, such as the one shortly after Ceirra encounters Denalia, though none were as long as the first.

"Ciera started to move quietly, despite the fear tying her bowels into knots." What, what? This expression doesn't sound right to me. It stood out and took me out of the scene for a moment.

The paper tearing scene. Where did Lorn get the blank page? Would Ciera even hear the sound of paper ripping through the trapdoor? And Lorn just happened to pick Ciera's mother's book? The scene felt a bit contrived.

Ciera revealing what she knows to Lorn. When she first saw him, he was polite, and yet the mere thought of a man laying his "dirty hands" on a precious book infuriated her. Lorn then revealed that he's been involved in one death already, threatened Ciera's life, and threatened her books.

And after all that, suddenly she without prompting reveals to him that the Compendium isn't written in a dead language, but a code. Why would she reveal that to him? Even if she had a habit of speaking before thinking, this seems a bit of a stretch.

Since I just joined this writing group, this is the first chapter of your work that I've read. Fortunately, it seemed like a decent place to jump in, as I was able to follow what was going on fine. Here are my thoughts.

Albione seems pretty happy at the start, so I'm guessing he must like children a lot, since later on it's shown he's actually fairly depressed about recent events.

I'm curious as to how exactly the blessing works. Something is definitely happening based on what Albione is feeling, but I wonder if the blessing just grants the recipient something like good fortune/courage, or if there's some other benefit like measurably increased strength or something? Is getting a blessing a week the normal thing for followers of Alazon?

Charom's appearance: is a formal green tunic that garish looking? I do like what I see of Charom this chapter and the way he teases his brother.

Now I get to what seems like the meat of the chapter, Aetherial's introduction and his conversation with Albione. I think you did a pretty good job of establishing Aetherial's character. Has he shown up before this chapter? I like him.

The Ruboc sounds like a cool creature. Not much else to say there.

Albione seems to be having some trouble with his faith. And with that, we end the chapter.

It was very character development focused chapter, without a lot of conflict or action in it. That can be a good thing sometimes, but it's hard for me to judge in this case without a better grasp of this chapter's place in the larger story.

Reading Excuses / Re: 8/7/11 - Chaos - Rebirth, Chapter One
« on: August 09, 2011, 11:05:37 AM »
I read the chapter once, to get a feel for it, and now I'm reading it a second time with a more critical mindset and writing out my thoughts as I do. Here they are.

Nice first sentence. Not much else to say, it grabs the reader, or at least it grabs me. It does seem a bit disconnected from the rest of the chapter, though.

When I first read the following paragraph, I somehow missed that she got off a train, and was surprised when trains were mentioned later. Anyways, it seems we have trains and guns, which means this world is a bit more advanced technology-wise than those in a lot of fantasy novels I have read. Makes me curious about the rest of the technology.

Medora thinks "she had to move forward, for she needed the political gain, too." But it's later shown that what she has on her mind is certainly not political gain. She expects to die.

I'm guessing Devos is God or something close to it. It's interesting how Medora knows God by name and has apparant proof of his existance, yet also seems to wonder exactly *what* he is. Perhaps I'm reading too much into the "God, whatever He was" part that happened near the start.

I like how Medora has seen into her past life and knows she deserves punishment. That's not something I've seen in a reincarnation related story before.

Does Sanctuary have some sort of artifical and/or magical sun that shines all the time? Reminds me of the anime Letter Bee.

Here we have her thinking about the possibility of becoming First Minister. Like with her thought about political gain, I have to wonder about this considering the actions she takes.

I like some of the interactions between Medora and Saril. Especially his comment about how disturbing it was to see her be optimstic. Though it is a bit unfair when he later criticises her for essentially being pessimistic about Thane's chances of retaining his position.

Another mention of lions. Lot's of questions now. Why are lions important? What the heck is that Demon Cloud, really? What is up with that sun? What exactly is Medora's position in the current political situation? What's a Cerebrant? How's Medora's drug addiction going to play out? Well, it's chapter 1, so questions are to be expected. You've made me curious to know the answers to those questions, so that's a good thing.

Nice job starting a riot there, Medora.  :P

Ok Saril. I understand him not wanting to fire guns and cause another massacre, but once he's wading into the crowd gemsword in hand, he might as well. That gemsword seems in many ways more deadly than a gun.
I hesitate when I see the scene where Medora runs out of the restaurant to die. I imagine that she has a lot of character development ahead of her, but she's already made one impulsive decision and started a riot which has cost tons of lives. Now she makes another impulsive decision right afterwards and causes Saril to rush out to save her (killing the people around her). I know she's probably going to change, but be careful about making her too unlikable at the start. I'll reserve judgement until I see what happens in the following chapters.

Like the ending, has a nice ominious feel to it and makes me want to read me.

Overall, I like it. Gets me interested in the setting and characters, and makes me want to read more. The main criticisms I have is that Medoara seems a bit inconsitant in her thoughts, and Saril his actions, and that Medora comes off as maybe a bit too impulsive and unlikable as a result.

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