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Messages - Chaos

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Brandon Sanderson / Re: Mistborn Annotations in one big file
« on: August 23, 2011, 05:12:54 AM »
I've compiled the Hero of Ages annotations as well as the Warbreaker annotations. They are just in Google docs, so you should be able to download them and put them in whatever format you like.

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.

Reading Excuses / Re: 8/7/11 - Chaos - Rebirth, Chapter One
« on: August 16, 2011, 05:25:51 AM »
I assume there is a reason for Davensworth and Devos to have such similar names, but I was somewhat confused by the two being similar.  Additionally, I got confused about what is named what, geography-wise.  First I thought Davensworth was the city, but then Medora has finally returned to Sanctuary (home of the capital), and at this point I started wondering which name was what -- is Davensworth the city or the country?  Is Sanctuary the country or the city?  Or is Sanctuary a part of the city, or a building?  Especially the "Sanctuary's perpetual sunlight" part made me think a temple or small part of the city, since it would take more power (I assume, not knowing anything else) to light up a larger area like that than a smaller.

I'll be happy to clarify: Davensworth is a city. The Sanctuary is a large region on the continent, notable for reasons you've already seen. Arjea is the continent, and the Arjean Empire is the name of the nation itself, which spans the continent.

On the other hand, perhaps it is Sanctuary's perpetual sunlight similar to San Diego's.  Not really, and it still has a day/night cycle, but exaggeration for effect.  If so, I'm sure you know to be careful about that early in a fantasy story.

Like that, only more exaggerated. It has a day/night cycle, but you'd have to work hard to actually be beneath a cloud. Clouds move very slowly in the Sanctuary, and there are few clouds at all.

Haiden is apparently quite skilled at Cerebrancy.  Why doesn't Medora think about that as another reason he would win over the masses when she's first thinking about him?  Also, more on Cerebrancy: it might not be required, but it seems likely the person practicing cerebrancy would need to know what their target was thinking, in order to be as skillful as Haiden is described.  If that was the case, I would expect him to also be able to tell when she's thinking about using her knife.  And if *that* is the case, how does she even hope to get close enough to use her knife on him?  Especially when he's *actively* using cerebrancy on (Cerebranting?) her?

Indeed, he is very good at Cerebrance. He's more than a few decades of practice, and a large bout in prison where he didn't have much else to do.

I would mention that the magic is not called "Cerebrancy," but Cerebrance. I knew someone was going to say it (I'm surprised the topic lasted as long as it did without someone saying it) but I just wanted to make sure you have the terminology.

As of yet, I haven't made a term for "Cerebranting." Haven't needed it. Characters would refer to the specific process itself, like, "Oh, Haiden is Suggesting me" and such. I may need a more general term, but I haven't required one so far. It's like, you don't say "I'm calculusing," you say, "I'm integrating." That's an extremely nerdy example, yes, but that sort of implies the tone I want to set with this magic.

Thank you guys for your time and critiques. If you wonder why I haven't discussed certain reactions of yours, that's not because I'm disagreeing with you. I'm noting all this stuff. It's just, your reaction is your own, and I will only mention something to mostly clarify (either so I can understand what you mean more clearly, or so I can clear up a misconception). And RAFO, sometimes, because that's fun to do :P It isn't helpful for anyone for me to be defensive. I am always listening to what you have to say, however.

The Prologue:

I liked the first line.

Your world is interesting, and I am curious as to why the Aberrant Lands covered most of the world.

Something about yellow things being referred to as moist is starting to annoy me. I have a hard time exactly envisioning what a moist twig is. If it's wet, just say it is wet. The image isn't working for me. It happens twice, I've noticed.

There is a lot of telling in the prologue. Most of the telling isn't necessary. It feels eerie and disconnected from Serra's viewpoint. For example, the last paragraph of the prologue isn't really something that I believe Serra would ever think. There's a great deal of this in the prologue. The scene isn't flowing as well as it should, either. Namely:

All the trees around her now grew upward for only a couple of feet, before turning sideways and running alongside the ground. Branches sprouted from the trunks in all directions, some of them growing down and poking back into the dirt. Even from a distance, the yellow bark looked moist. Serra knew that it would be slimy to the touch, like a slug. The leaves grew into strange shapes, spirals and needles and even perfect squares. They would feel like rough, dry leather.

Serra felt complete, pure terror. She screamed and fell to the ground, dropping Elisa in front of her.

Serra feeling complete terror basically comes out of nowhere, unless she happens to be scared of leather. It took a few paragraphs until I was told why she felt that way. I want to be shown it.

I want to feel why she is entering the Aberrant Lands. I want to know more about her character. She can be summed up as "her father died, and she talks to herself to make her feel better." I at least need hints of other aspects of her character.

As for her character herself, I empathize with her father's death, but she's kind of disturbing. I need more time to understand her before I will start to like her, so I'll give the benefit of the doubt.

And she's ten, which is an interesting choice for adult fantasy. Unless it's not that sort of book.

Finally, not much happens in the prologue. Her father dies, and Serra goes into the Aberrant Land. Since I need more of her character to feel invested, the only reason why this prologue seems to exist is to show off the Aberrant Lands. You could probably cut it and we'd pick up the world as we went along. There's just not very much conflict here right now, which signals to me that we've started at the wrong place.

Prologues are notoriously difficult to do, anyways. It sort of needs to be separated from the main story--if it isn't, then why not make it chapter one--in either time, space, or character. I don't know exactly what makes a good prologue, but this one feels off.

Onto chapter one.

Okay, yeah, you can just cut the prologue. Nothing happens in it that I couldn't figure out from chapter one.

Still a lot of telling, like right after the prayer. How does Serra even know that in the past people prayed differently, and more importantly, doesn't she have more things to worry about? Is this really the next thing she would think about? Pretty much everything that starts with "When she had been younger," or a variant thereof, is something that you may want to look at very carefully and ask if this is necessary information.

The prose is fairly choppy, which sort of makes sense, given she's ten, but it needs smoothing regardless.

This chapter is repetitive. Wake up. She's lonely. Retrospect. Go to sleep. You could get away with one of them, but the second time this happens it became extremely obvious. Also, mentioning the word "still" so much is signalling "Yup, still trucking along. You didn't miss much last time you tuned in."

Okay, finished. I think a lot of my points about the prologue stand. We're distant from Serra. There's a lack of conflict. I mean, she's alone, so we're rather limited to either internal conflict or her fighting the environment. No interpersonal conflict is available. She's sad about her father, but that's the most conflict we have so far.

Slow beginnings are fine, but we're really just hitting the same notes here. Serra's dad died; she's sad. The Aberrant Lands prevent new babies from being born, so there is little animal life left. And I can't really identify any more conflicts at the present moment.

Reading Excuses / Re: Email List + Submission Dates
« on: August 15, 2011, 08:23:53 PM »
I'll skip submitting this next week. I'm in no hurry, so may as well let others submit :P

I really like how many submissions we are getting, too.

Brandon Sanderson / Re: Alloy of Law (Chapter 5)
« on: August 15, 2011, 08:13:16 PM »
I actually thought there was no way of getting new mistwraiths - at least under the Lord Ruler. What was there was what they had. Naturally, Sazed may have changed that. But since the Kandra are also immortal (except of course murder), it's not an immediate issue that they can't get new mistwraiths until they run out. Until then they can just recycle the spikes.

But the mistwraiths do breed true. Quote from Hero of Ages' epigraphs, emphasis mine:

When the Lord Ruler offered his plan to his Feruchemist friends—the plan to change them into mistwraiths—he was making them speak on behalf of all the land's Feruchemists. Though he changed his friends into kandra to restore their minds and memories, the rest he left as nonsentient mistwraiths. These bred more of their kind, living and dying, becoming a race unto themselves. From these children of the original mistwraiths, he made the next generations of kandra.

Reading Excuses / 8/15/11 - Chaos - Rebirth, Chapter 2
« on: August 15, 2011, 08:06:55 AM »
This is the second chapter to Rebirth, where we introduce our second protagonist, Tavaris. At the present moment, you could get away with starting here and skip chapter one, but I do build on the world further.

I predict that there are a few reasons why someone could really, really hate this chapter. I break a cardinal rule of beginning a book: there's a flashback. Kind of. You'll have to read and see if I do it well.

Furthermore, I now know that chimps are not monkeys. Oops. My bad.

Summary so far:

Chapter One - Medora returns to the Sanctuary to save her father's Empire from collapse, but she attempts to kill her enemy, Saff Haiden. This leads to a riot which she barely survives.

Hey, perfect timing. I was wondering what to critique, and you just sent this out. Cool. I do remember bits and pieces of Citadel of Thorns (I think I read that one's prologue and chapter one), so opening with the Black Rose's viewpoint, I kind of knew what to expect. I knew Black Rose was going to be the villain, essentially, and I figured as this was the prologue, it wouldn't end too well for her.

I like the fact that we are essentially from the villain's viewpoint. It's an interesting concept, for certain. I also like that there is no infodumping. I guess there sort of is, by describing Wisteria, but it's describing a change in Wisteria and her betrayal. Very good. I also like the more subtle clues about the worldbuilding. The line that comes to mind is "Black Rose felt a pang of disappointment, no goddess waited beyond the insistent pull of this Path." I like it.

I thought it odd that we started with a scene of action, but Black Rose's Wanderer is doing most of the action. I was very happy to see Black Rose become a more active participant.

I get that Black Rose is being betrayed, but I wanted to understand why a bit more. She's an interesting character, so I almost want more time to get to know her. Yes, I know it's a prologue, but I want to connect with her better.

I'm grasping the basics of the magic system fairly easily, though that could be because I vaguely recall the Paths from before. However, despite the fact that I know the basics, I think the submission's greatest flaw is that the ending comes up out of nowhere.

Meaning, we get to know what Black Rose is doing, with this negative energy thing, and that's cool. But ultimately, it doesn't matter, because the other shamans conjoin their Paths and just... win. The whole negative energy Path didn't even faze whatever it was her opponents were doing. I guess I just want more drama. I want to feel Black Rose's struggle against her betrayers. Heck, it seems as though her own loyalists betray her at the least minute. Give me more of Black Rose's struggle.

I guess that means I want more of a fight scene, but you don't need a fight scene, necessarily, especially when we have a lot of magic being thrown around and we don't know the deep details of the magic yet. But still, the total amount of the fight starts with this sentence: "The negating tendrils of her new power sneaked to the fine particles in the air" and it ends that paragraph. Her negative tendrils sort of fail, and I don't understand why.

So, either I need to know the reason why her power was ineffective, or I need that clash of forces to be more dramatic. We have ultimately powerful, forbidden combining of the Paths, with that equally horrifying negative power. These are ludicrously powerful things, I gathered, and I need it to feel more epic. Doing so, I think, would make the promise of the scene--that the villain is going to get imprisoned--and to fulfil it in a dramatic way.

That's my only real complaint with this piece. In other thoughts, I am hoping we get more Black Rose viewpoints, because I really do want to know more about her.

Reading Excuses / Re: Email List + Submission Dates
« on: August 14, 2011, 08:48:27 PM »
Five may be a good number.

Reading Excuses / Re: 8/7/11 - Chaos - Rebirth, Chapter One
« on: August 14, 2011, 01:44:02 AM »
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.

Indeed. I did do my research on the sapphires. There's a perfectly fine explanation coming your way soon.

Reading Excuses / Re: 8/7/11 - Chaos - Rebirth, Chapter One
« on: August 13, 2011, 10:34:09 AM »
Thanks for your responses, guys.

To be fair, I did kind of know the beginning of this scene needs a lot of tightening. Sorry for inflicting that on you. I haven't really had time to fix it in revision yet.

Interesting comments on Medora (and I mean that in the value-neutral way of "interesting"). It'll need some smoothing, and I think I've figured out how to do it. Should be easier to do in revision. As I'm reading the first part of the scene now, it feels a little like I went and hit every little bullet point, because I wanted to get a feel for her. I don't have to do that.

Once we get to the statue things roll along smoother. I agree with all of you on that point.

I'm most pleased with how the world has been received so far. I like it and I think you will, too. The magic is one of the things that got me excited to write this book in the first place. But, just wait a while for the Official Explanation™. Until that point, I will ease you in nice and slowly.

Many of the other things you will see as we progress. Let me know if you feel information isn't being revealed in the right order, of course.

A few select comments:

Mostly I like Medora's character; she knows she has to act and wants to, but is wracked with doubts and nightmares, so much so that she's even addicted to a drug. Interesting choice that, I'm wondering what (aside from the obvious) the effects of tranquil are, how addictive it is, what the downsides are, what the lows are and what the withdrawal symptoms are. I also wonder if her ill conceived attack had something to do with her drug dependency - so far it can go either way. Having a character deal with a drug problem can make for an interesting read, I don't think it happens much in fantasy.

I'm glad you're liking that so far.

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.

Devos is indeed the name of God. As for the other things in here, I may have revealed it wrong here. Read on and let me know.

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.

Thanks! That's good. We will see much more of this. I want to tell you so much about it, but I should probably be vague here.

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

This I will answer definitively: No. The sun sets just like on Earth. Something else is going on.

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.

Let me know if she becomes too unlikable for you to continue reading. See, in my mind, I understand exactly why she did it, and it makes me actually like her more, in a weird roundabout way. So I'm pleased with it, on the core level, but I definitely want to you know if you have an extreme negative reaction to her.

I don't have much to add here. I enjoy stories with a bit of a learning curve, and your world seems to have it. You've mentioned, without a great deal of explanation, Cerebrance, Suggestions (which may or may not be Cerebrance), Gemswords and possibly other sapphire-related magic, the Demon Cloud, the Sanctuary, an issue with sunlight that might go beyond mere white/black racism, and the concept of god. I like all that, even though it's a lot to consider. There's also the matter of the medora's history AND her past life.

Could you clarify this for me, please? I think I know what you mean, but I want to be certain.

The gemsword bit – and you describe it – runs dangerously close to Sanderson's Shardblades. I don't think i need to tell you that. Part of it might just be how it's described, however, and if they function a lot differently than you should make that apparent as soon as possible.

Hmmm, as I reread I can kind of see how you see that, with their cutting power. It is indeed difficult to make special swords of any variety without being compared to lightsabers or, now, Shardblades. I need to slightly alter how I describe it. I think my original conception was that Medora did not understand how they work, but she'd probably have a bit more knowledge about gemswords, given her time with Saril. At least from a mechanical standpoint, gemswords operate different from Shardblades, but as I'm reading it again, practically speaking they both stab and kill stuff. Oops.

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.

The blade is not the only reason why Saril is dangerous.

Thanks guys! Um, I need to critique some of your stuff. This week has gotten away from me. But really, thanks for spending some time in the Sanctuary with me.

Reading Excuses / Re: Email List + Submission Dates
« on: August 12, 2011, 11:09:00 PM »
Yes, just for the particular submission. :)

And yes, go ahead and submit the whole thing, Matthew--we're pretty loose about that 4k word limit.

I'll put Matthew and Caleb down for Monday.

"Loose" is putting it lightly :P

I will submit Chapter Two of Rebirth on Monday.

Reading Excuses / 8/7/11 - Chaos - Rebirth, Chapter One
« on: August 08, 2011, 07:15:26 AM »
I'm at last back from a long hiatus. I'm eager to finally submit again, as well as critique. I should be more active in the future.

Here's the first chapter of the book. If anyone read the old, 2009 draft, I apologize. This is a much stronger scene, and for the most part I am pleased with how it turned out. A few minor things are annoying me (like Saril's dialogue), but that's okay. We'll see how you like it.

I don't know what else to say. I ought to sell the book to you, but I would much rather see if you like it without me telling you what to expect, because I'm sneaky that way. I hope you enjoy!

Reading Excuses / Re: Email List + Submission Dates
« on: August 04, 2011, 03:38:23 AM »
Gasp, I think I will submit on Monday.

It's been way too long since I've submitted. I know this because I have to look over the submission guidelines here--the guidelines that I wrote. Guh. Think the last time was 2009...

Brandon Sanderson / Re: Mistborn the RPG at Gen-Con!
« on: August 01, 2011, 07:07:20 AM »
I am totally buying this solely for the new Mistborn information. This is awesome.

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