Poll

What are your thoughts on what you have read so far in Crystalheart and my own writing in general?

Like it, but I think you have potential for more!
5 (83.3%)
Like it, but I don't see what makes it different from every other fantasy story I have read.
0 (0%)
Like it, but I think you should scrap it and start a new story.
0 (0%)
Don't like it, but I think you have potential for more.
1 (16.7%)
Don't like it, and I don't see what makes it different from every other fantasy story I have read.
0 (0%)
Don't like it. I think you should scrap it and start a new story.
0 (0%)
Don't like it. I don't think you have much writing potential.
0 (0%)

Total Members Voted: 6

Author Topic: Reaves 4-12-09: Questions for You.  (Read 3352 times)

Reaves

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Reaves 4-12-09: Questions for You.
« on: April 13, 2009, 01:49:49 AM »
First of all I want to promise everyone who posts here that I will not argue with anything you say or try to defend my work. Hopefully you already see that as the case when you post regarding what I've written. I've tried to do my best to make that the standard with my posts, but I know that to some degree I've failed in that respect.

   You can answer almost all of these questions without having read more than a couple chapters of my work, so don't feel put off because you haven't gotten very far.

   Also, don't let the number of questions deter you! These are simply starting points to jog your brain. Please don't feel like you need to answer every single question. Feel free to only choose the ones you think sound the most fun to answer or you think I most need to hear. You can give as much or as little detail as you like. In addition, feel free to answer this bit by bit. Make edits to your original post!

   If there is anything you would like to bring to my attention about Crystalheart or writing in general that is not addressed in the questions below, please chime in.


   1. How have you seen the following themes and motifs present in the work presented so far? What do you think of them? Are there any themes or motifs that you have seen in the work that are not present in the list below?

Themes
-Who am I?
-Freedom
-Friendship/loyalty
-Betrayal

Motifs
-Red and Blue
-Wings


   2. How do you think I have failed or succeeded in avoiding or using clichés? Give examples if you like.

   3. What do you think are consistent flaws present throughout the work, such as: weak style, faulty pacing, poor characterization, nonexistent voice, etc?

   4. What do you think is the number one thing I need to work on as a writer?


   5. What is the number one piece of advice you have found most useful for yourself personally as a writer?

6. What do you think of the following characters: Aermyst, Ilis, Marlin, Tristan, Zael, and Dantes. Choose from any or all of the following questions.
      NOTE: Although Ilis and most likely Tristan are going to be drastically reworked, I'd still like to see what you think of them.

-Rate them from 1 to 10, with 1 meaning you don't feel any sympathy for the character and couldn't care less for their plot arc, and 10 meaning that this character is brilliantly realized and heartbreakingly sympathetic. Please explain why you chose that number.
-Do you think this character is round or flat? Static or dynamic? (provide defs)
-Do a character analysis. This follows the formula: (Character name) wants ____, is willing to do ____, and ____ stands in his or her way.

   7. Choose from among the following questions about the plot, setting, world, and characters.
      a. How well do you know the plot, setting, world, and characters? Do you feel lost and confused or do you feel like you have a firm grasp of what is happening and why?
      b. How well do you sympathize/care about the plot, setting, world, and characters? Does the world and setting inspire only a passing interest, or none at all? Are you emotionally invested in the plot and characters?
      c. Do you feel you can predict certain events in the future of the book's storyline, in general terms? If so, what? If not, is it because the story hasn't flowed in a predictable fashion, or because the plot simply doesn't interest you enough to attempt to predict where it will go, or for some other reason?


   8. What do you think of the following predictions made by Hamster concerning where the story is going?

a. Marlin's intense studying will bring him the answer to how to get Aermyst's soul back, as well as stuff about the relics and the ancient civilization.
b. Aermyst will ignore what Marlin tries to tell him, will do his own thing and fail.
c. Tristan is actually the Tian guy who got his soul stolen 200 years ago, and isn't actually dead.
d.The super powerful guy who took Aermyst's and Dantes' souls is also the guy who had taken Tian's soul then.
e. Some huge catastrophe is going to happen or some army is going to invade or something(this also has to do with the relics and the ancient civilization), and that is way Zael(is that his name?it's something with a 'Z') told Aermyst that they are saving the world.

   9. Are there any observations about my writing style or the structure of the story or the way the chapters flow that you would like to bring to my attention? Examples might include how I use passive voice too much, or how all my chapters seems to follow the same formula, or something similar.


   10. Is there anything you have read recently that feels similar in any way to what you have seen in Crystalheart so far?

   11. Is there a character that you especially like reading about? This does not have to be a main character, but simply somebody you think is interesting. Ex, Mourne, Deragon, Ulidar, etc.

« Last Edit: April 13, 2009, 01:53:39 AM by Reaves »
Quote from: VegasDev
RJF: "AHA! You fell victim to one of the classic blunders! The most famous is never get involved in a land war in Cairhien, but only slightly less well-known is this: never go in against a warder when he is only the distraction! Get him Rand! Buzzzzzzz!

ryos

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Re: Reaves 4-12-09: Questions for You.
« Reply #1 on: April 13, 2009, 05:37:44 AM »
2. Clichés. There is one aspect of your world that might be considered cliché: the fact that it has a ruined, ancient, highly advanced civilization far in the past, whose demise is shrouded in mystery. Not saying that it can't be used anymore, but just be aware that it's been done a lot, so you need to be sure to add enough uniqueness to it that it feels fresh.

I think you've done a decent job of this so far, actually. Just be aware that you're treading on shaky ground.

4. Creating believable characters, then having them interact in natural ways.

5. This piece of advice comes from Orson Scott Card (it's in one of his writing books, don't remember if it's Characters and Viewpoint or How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy), and it's helped me tremendously:

When doing anything writing-related (plotting, characterization, worldbuilding), keep in mind the two major questions all readers subconsciously ask of all pieces of fiction:

Oh yeah?
Would a real person do that? Can a character really take that much of a beating and still keep fighting? Is your characters' use of magic internally consistent with the rules you've set up? Does the world make sense? Do people's motives make sense? Etc. etc.

So what?
Let's say your story passes the "Oh yeah?" test. So what? Why should I care about what Aermyst thinks or feels or does? Why does that bit of worldbuilding you just explained matter to the story, or to me? What does a side character's arc have to do with anything, and why should I care? Etc.

This isn't to say that readers are apathetic; they want to care. They just need you to give them something worth caring about.

So, to summarize: make it real, and make it important to your readers.

Another, related bit of advice (from the same source) is that your work of fiction represents a contract with the readers. That contract says that your characters should always act in character and that the things you've made out to be important amount to something (i.e., if you make a big deal about a character having a knife, we expect someone to get stabbed with it. This comic rips on Indy 4 for not following this rule, to great effect).

6. So, yeah, I'm gonna ignore your preferred format. Hope that's cool. ;)

Aermyst: Immature, fun-loving, passionate, playful, incompetent, stupid. I've already written at length about how I feel about Aermyst's actions. The thing is, Aermyst's blundering ruins the first part of the book. You gave us enough information to know that a new heart crystal wasn't going to work, and also that there's no chance in hell a soulless Aermyst could beat Zael in a fair fight. You then spend 7 chapters showing Aermyst trying those things - and that's boring! We're anxious to get working on a real, plausible solution (and note that the first attempt should probably fail, even though it plausibly could have worked).

Zael and the Bad Guys: You know, I'm not buying the whole "we're only trying to save the world" schtick. I have seen nothing in your world and the actions of these people that might suggest that's what they're doing. And because I don't believe it, I doubt they believe it either. Zael therefore falls a little flat; he comes off as extremely gullible (you actually believed them when they told you you were saving the world? 'Cause, you know, we're not seeing it).

Mourne, as Head Bad Guy, can be excused for not believing his own rhetoric, but we've now seen that Zael, the underling, supposedly does.

Tristan: Awkward, annoying, unnecessarily mysterious, bright, confident, competent. We don't ever see Tristan's motives for anything he does. He claims to want to help Aermyst, but tells him nothing useful. He drops into Aermyst's life, saves him from himself once, then takes off without even so much as a hint as to where or why. He can afford to be less maddeningly mysterious while still keeping plenty of secrets.

Illis: flat, a minor character, so far mostly irrelevant.

Marlin: sympathetic, likable, determined, intelligent. Not entirely clear at this point in the story why he matters, but he's an interesting character all the same. Not sure it's plausible for him to actually succeed under the auspices of the Wicked Witch of the Sacramency, but he could potentially fail and still be allowed to continue his schooling, with proper intervention from appropriately compassionate and sensible administrators.

11. Marlin is the most interesting character. Tristan is doing the most interesting things.

General comments on the story, and this submission: You seem disheartened. It's true that Crystalheart needs a lot of work to get it into shape. This probably amounts to nearly a complete retreading of the plot and revamping of the characters; the setting can stay mostly the same. So, how much do you care about this story? Do you think it's worth the work to make it as good as it can be? Or would you rather toss it out and start over?

The thing is, we've seen each chapter get progressively better. You've taken feedback to heart and are improving. You just need to stay on that track and keep moving forward.

Of course, there's nothing wrong with simply putting it behind you and starting fresh, if that's what you want to do. I mean, Brandon Sanderson wrote what, like 11 books before he got published? And they won't go to waste: he learned from them, and has been recycling ideas from them into workable novels. If that's what you want to do, go for it. Just don't get discouraged, because I do think you have the seed of a good story here. Only you can decide what you want to do with it.
« Last Edit: April 13, 2009, 05:41:30 AM by ryos »
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Flo_the_G

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Re: Reaves 4-12-09: Questions for You.
« Reply #2 on: April 13, 2009, 10:06:44 AM »
For some reason I've started with number 7... I'll be back later on and begin at the top, I suppose.  ::)


7.
a) I had a few initial difficulties distinguishing the different bad guys. I think the first time you mentioned Zael (after his initial appearance) my mind went "who?!", and I wasn't exactly sure whether I should recognise the name or not. In the first encounter, I believe he and his boss simply got mixed up in my head, or I took Zael to be an unimportant minion, or something similar.

Apart from that, the only ambiguous thing left is the general flair of the setting.  I think you should do more to better establish that very early on, otherwise readers might be surprised when elements appear that don't fit into their very first impression. Much of that ambiguity probably stems from how little you described Hallastan. You've nourished the general idea of people settling in the ruins of a lost culture with vastly superior technology quite well, especially in the later chapters, so I'd say I have a quite firm grasp on the setting, as well as on the plot in general.

b) I'm always most interested in the setting, whatever I read, and it's the same here. Consequently, I favour those scenes in which anything at all is revealed about the lost civilisation and/or their technology.  I'm not too sure about the characters, yet, as I think you've improved all of them since the early chapters.

c) On the "maybe" side, I'd say Dantes might possibly join the bad guys. On the "probably" side, I'd say that Zael will join the good guys. And Marlin might just become a Crystalheart.


8.
a) Sounds logical.
b) Possible, although he might also listen to the kid.
c) That possibility hadn't even occurred to me. Interesting...
d) That, however, had occurred to me, and I think it's very probable.
e) That, too, is possible. It would fit in nicely with all the hints dropped during Zael's last scenes.


9.
The only thing I can think of off the top of my head is what I mentioned early on, namely that the beginning needs more scenes from different POV's,  to make it clearer that it's not only Aermyst who's an important character. But you've probably changed all of that by now anyway.


10.
The parts about the lost civilisation reminded me of Wheel of Time a lot, specifically that one book that deals with the history of WoT (not part of the actual series). And the entire thing with Crystalhearts being respected and influential and all that in the olden days is, of course, faintly reminiscent of the Jedi in Star Wars. ;)


11.
I only recognised one of those names (Deragon), so no. :D
I like scenes with Tristan, though. I can also see, however, how maintaining his facade of "very mysterious bloke" could be difficult in scenes told from his POV.

Reaves

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Re: Reaves 4-12-09: Questions for You.
« Reply #3 on: April 13, 2009, 04:10:39 PM »
Hey, thank you both for the quick and most of all IN DEPTH responses. There is a lot of great stuff here, I appreciate it.

Zael and the Bad Guys: You know, I'm not buying the whole "we're only trying to save the world" schtick. I have seen nothing in your world and the actions of these people that might suggest that's what they're doing. And because I don't believe it, I doubt they believe it either. Zael therefore falls a little flat; he comes off as extremely gullible (you actually believed them when they told you you were saving the world? 'Cause, you know, we're not seeing it).

Mourne, as Head Bad Guy, can be excused for not believing his own rhetoric, but we've now seen that Zael, the underling, supposedly does.

Okay. This is going to become an issue then. At this point in my story I want people to be curious about Zael + Mourne's motives: not entirely believing Mourne, but not disregarding him as simply using Zael as a tool.
       Because, ya know, they actually are trying to save the world  :P
       The thing is, how can I best 'tip the scales' towards Mourne a bit more, so that you won't dismiss Zael as gullible (although perhaps naive and optimistic). The simplest way would be to just show a threat, but I'm not ready for that yet. What do you think?
General comments on the story, and this submission: You seem disheartened. It's true that Crystalheart needs a lot of work to get it into shape. This probably amounts to nearly a complete retreading of the plot and revamping of the characters; the setting can stay mostly the same. So, how much do you care about this story? Do you think it's worth the work to make it as good as it can be? Or would you rather toss it out and start over?

Maybe I was when I started writing these questions a couple weeks ago. Not so much now. The truth is, I'm finishing it no matter what anyone says :P I just wanted to get the most honest responses I could.



Apart from that, the only ambiguous thing left is the general flair of the setting.  I think you should do more to better establish that very early on, otherwise readers might be surprised when elements appear that don't fit into their very first impression. Much of that ambiguity probably stems from how little you described Hallastan. You've nourished the general idea of people settling in the ruins of a lost culture with vastly superior technology quite well, especially in the later chapters, so I'd say I have a quite firm grasp on the setting, as well as on the plot in general.
So just so I can understand completely:  I did not explain the setting well enough in the early chapters and it was hard to get a first impression, but it is getting better in recent chapters?


Ha! You answered all the fun questions, you cheater! jk, jk.
Honestly, its a great help just to get inside the reader's head so I can know what you are thinking. Thanks!



Quote from: VegasDev
RJF: "AHA! You fell victim to one of the classic blunders! The most famous is never get involved in a land war in Cairhien, but only slightly less well-known is this: never go in against a warder when he is only the distraction! Get him Rand! Buzzzzzzz!

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Re: Reaves 4-12-09: Questions for You.
« Reply #4 on: April 13, 2009, 05:28:59 PM »
So just so I can understand completely:  I did not explain the setting well enough in the early chapters and it was hard to get a first impression, but it is getting better in recent chapters?
Exactly that.

Ha! You answered all the fun questions, you cheater!
That was the general idea. ;D
The other questions require way too much thinking, and we don't want that, now, do we?

ryos

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Re: Reaves 4-12-09: Questions for You.
« Reply #5 on: April 13, 2009, 06:30:13 PM »
Quote
The thing is, how can I best 'tip the scales' towards Mourne a bit more, so that you won't dismiss Zael as gullible (although perhaps naive and optimistic). The simplest way would be to just show a threat, but I'm not ready for that yet. What do you think?

The thing is, all we've seen them do is kill people and steal their souls. Oh, and raid cities and caravans for crystals. Based solely on their actions, I assume they're motivated by a lust for power and general propensities for violence. Sure, they say they're serving the greater good, but actions speak louder than words.

I understand not wanting to reveal the full nature of the threat from the outset, but we don't get even a hint that anything might be wrong. We need to see that there just might be something worth stealing souls to prevent. My best guess is that it's related to the same catastrophe that struck the ancients, but that's probably because it's the only large-scale threat you've hinted at.

I think an earlier Zael viewpoint would do wonders on this front. Let us see his thought processes as he's committing his atrocities. Let us see his justifications and his motives. Give a hint of what the bluecloaks are working to prevent.

Just my opinion.
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Re: Reaves 4-12-09: Questions for You.
« Reply #6 on: April 14, 2009, 10:38:40 PM »
Hi Reaves,

Good for you for having the wisdom (and courage!) to use a week like this to get "big picture" feedback from everyone. That's really important to do.  The fact that you initiated this conversation solidifies again in my mind the fact that you may be one of the most passionate and productive writers in our group.  (That's not intended to put anybody else down!)  You clearly have a knack for writing, and I 100% believe that you have the potential to be a professional fantasy writer in the future.

Because you are somebody who is able to take honest feedback and grow with it, then I'll say that right now, Crystalheart-- as you have submitted it to us thus far-- is IMHO, nowhere near the quality it would need to be to be published.  See below for more specific feedback, but the single largest input I can give you is that your writing is still very raw.  While you CLARLY are demonstrating a huge imagination and talent for world-building, the story, characters, and themes that you've presented seem to be be echoes or light-weight responses to other fantasy novels.  I get the sense that you're still at the stage where you're subconsciously imitating other writer's styles, rather than using your own.  And that's OK!  God knows all of us on this list do it, and I'm sure as heck no exception.  Your strength right now is in the scope of your vision.  And your ability to churn out pages.  Now we just need to stop wearing your dad's shoes and define your own sense of style.

The best thing you can do right now is KEEP GOING.  Finish your novel.  A completed, yet flawed novel, is better than having a flawed incomplete mound of paper.  You're a storyteller first and foremost. Tell your story completely.  Then you can go back and fix it.

1. How have you seen the following themes and motifs present in the work presented so far? What do you think of them? Are there any themes or motifs that you have seen in the work that are not present in the list below?

Themes
-Who am I?
-Freedom
-Friendship/loyalty
-Betrayal

Eh.  I don't get a strong sense of any of those.  Your theme should be easy to identify by this point, and I'm still not quite sure what it is.  (BTW, as of this writing, I think I've read as far as chapter 13. (??) 15 maybe. )

Something else to consider:  what do you as a writer have to offer on these themes? Do you have some insight, a story, or a point you're trying to make?  What can you, as a person, teach me about these things? 

(Now you know why so many published writers tell you to get out and live life!  Go gain some experiences, some heartache, and some triumphs, so that you can share your thoughts with the world via your words. )

Quote
Motifs
-Red and Blue
-Wings

I missed the red and blue. But that may be because there are long breaks in between when I read your chapters.

I DEFINITELY picked up on the "wings" imagery and think its very good.  You mentioned before that "Wingless" is the name of this section of the book.  Good title.  :)


Quote
2. How do you think I have failed or succeeded in avoiding or using clichés? Give examples if you like.

The cliches I see you using are more in your writing rather than in your story itself. You refer to swordplay as "dancing" a lot.  The swordmaster who once trained Aermyst had a line like "I'm not getting any younger."  The stuff with Ilis that we've discussed in your other threads. 

Your warriors all seem unbeatable. 


Quote
3. What do you think are consistent flaws present throughout the work, such as: weak style, faulty pacing, poor characterization, nonexistent voice, etc?

See my initial comments above.


Quote
4. What do you think is the number one thing I need to work on as a writer?

Style.  Quality of prose.

Ah, crap. That was 2 things huh?  *snaps fingers*


Quote
5. What is the number one piece of advice you have found most useful for yourself personally as a writer?

Hmmm..  It's hard to narrow down "the best".  But I think I've really benefitted from the idea that each character believes they are the center of their own story.

Quote
6. What do you think of the following characters: Aermyst, Ilis, Marlin, Tristan, Zael, and Dantes. Choose from any or all of the following questions.
      NOTE: Although Ilis and most likely Tristan are going to be drastically reworked, I'd still like to see what you think of them.

-Rate them from 1 to 10, with 1 meaning you don't feel any sympathy for the character and couldn't care less for their plot arc, and 10 meaning that this character is brilliantly realized and heartbreakingly sympathetic. Please explain why you chose that number.
-Do you think this character is round or flat? Static or dynamic? (provide defs)
-Do a character analysis. This follows the formula: (Character name) wants ____, is willing to do ____, and ____ stands in his or her way.

Aermyst -  5 - round-ish - dynamic. Needs clearer motives.  He started out with a revenge plot.  But that seems to have switched to a "figure out how to get my crystal back". Not sure I really understand WHY he needs it. Or why I would care if he gets it.  HE was, afterall, more arrogant before he lost it.

Tristian - 5 - has a mysterious and interesting setup.  I want to know what his deal is. 

Zael - 3 - I don't really care about him at all. I liked the silver-haired Sepiroth guy better.

Dantes - 3 - I liked him better dead. ;-)  His new motivations are way out of line.  Which is OK, but I'd like to hear Aermyst wonder about it, ponder it, etc.

Marlin - 5 - Good setup.  He seems like YOUR favorite character, and the writing reflects this.  Seems likely that he's headed for turning into a crystalheart.  Which is fine.  Cool, even.

Ilis - 2 - eh.

Quote
   7. Choose from among the following questions about the plot, setting, world, and characters.
      a. How well do you know the plot, setting, world, and characters? Do you feel lost and confused or do you feel like you have a firm grasp of what is happening and why?
      b. How well do you sympathize/care about the plot, setting, world, and characters? Does the world and setting inspire only a passing interest, or none at all? Are you emotionally invested in the plot and characters?
      c. Do you feel you can predict certain events in the future of the book's storyline, in general terms? If so, what? If not, is it because the story hasn't flowed in a predictable fashion, or because the plot simply doesn't interest you enough to attempt to predict where it will go, or for some other reason?

I enjoy your world. I wish I had a map to refer to. :)  I really want to know more about your magic system.  How does it work? What makes heartcrystals? Why do they have these powers?  WHAT powers to they actually give?  (Speed and super jump? What else?)

Your post-apocalyptic back story is really intriguing.  It's one of my favorite parts of your story. I enjoy that you shake up the fantasy genre a little by showing that the past was possibly a sci-fi like setting.

Quote
8. What do you think of the following predictions made by Hamster concerning where the story is going?

a. Marlin's intense studying will bring him the answer to how to get Aermyst's soul back, as well as stuff about the relics and the ancient civilization.
b. Aermyst will ignore what Marlin tries to tell him, will do his own thing and fail.
c. Tristan is actually the Tian guy who got his soul stolen 200 years ago, and isn't actually dead.
d.The super powerful guy who took Aermyst's and Dantes' souls is also the guy who had taken Tian's soul then.
e. Some huge catastrophe is going to happen or some army is going to invade or something(this also has to do with the relics and the ancient civilization), and that is way Zael(is that his name?it's something with a 'Z') told Aermyst that they are saving the world.

I had not considered any of those ideas.  All of them could work though. 

Quote
9. Are there any observations about my writing style or the structure of the story or the way the chapters flow that you would like to bring to my attention? Examples might include how I use passive voice too much, or how all my chapters seems to follow the same formula, or something similar.

See initial comments above.  Your chapter lengths are okay, if a little short.  Consider adding more conflict to each chapter.  Aermyst is having a tough time right now, but I am not sure he's being challenged enough.  Not in terms of big plot, but in little things.  For example:  In the early chapters, he dominated his crew chief too easily.   He got his money too easy in the first town.  He got a room too easily.  He got his new fancy sword too easily.  In truth, he made it across the desert too easily.  (And found the crystal hoard too easily).  He got into the fancy city (name escapes me right now) too easily.  He got up the tall tower too easily.  His old mentor was too nice too him. It was too easy to fit back in.   At least Dantes doesn't like him now. (Although those motives are wacky. See above)   You get the idea.   Brandon once said that really good chapters tend to have their own conflicts, their own beginning, middle, and ends.

In reading your book, I know a lot of Aermyst's surface thoughts.  And a lot of what he does in terms of his actions.  But I kind of wish he (and you) would dig deeper into his thoughts and feelings.  Example:  His best friend just came back to life and now hates him for no obvious reason.  I'd love to see that explored in far more depth.  (Maybe you have done so in later chapters. I'm not that caught up yet)

Quote
10. Is there anything you have read recently that feels similar in any way to what you have seen in Crystalheart so far?

Mistborn.  See my initial comments about reflecting the styles of those you admire. (Again, we all do it!)

Quote
11. Is there a character that you especially like reading about? This does not have to be a main character, but simply somebody you think is interesting. Ex, Mourne, Deragon, Ulidar, etc.

Aermyst is my favorite.  Tristian is intriguing.


Conclusion: keep going! Finish it! This is your first novel.  You're going to run into these issues, as we all are.   It took Brandon 6 times to get it right, remember?   You're doing fine.  :)

And, finally, FWIW, I'm learning from you via your writing!  (And I don't mean from a "here's what not to do" sense...lol)
J
These are not my stories. I just write them.

Frog

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Re: Reaves 4-12-09: Questions for You.
« Reply #7 on: April 25, 2009, 07:26:54 AM »
Agg! I killed Crystalheart! I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to… well, yes I wanted to help it get better obviously, but I am sorry if any of my comments were overly discouraging.

The fact of the matter is that I can understand this is your first draft, and a lot of it is going to be prewriting, but as submissions and critiques I like to talk in terms of what I would expect if it was to be published tomorrow. So all my criticism is to that end and doesn’t diminish the potential I see in a story or a writer (You guys are all great!).

But since you’re being brave enough to ask (and I am sorry if this is all a repeat) here we go….

Biggest fault I see in your writing is organization and plotting. Some people talked about adding conflict, but the problem with that is that every new problem you introduce, you are expected to solve, so just make sure it is RELATED conflict. And if you ever come to a point where your section ends the same way it began or you can summarize an exchange in one line without missing anything, look at the scene again  and see if you can either bring in some more plot points so it furthers the story or flat out delete it. It may be interesting, but if it isn’t relevant or upsets the flow, it needs to go. Right now, I am still waiting for your story to start and I think you could probably condense, combine or delete a lot of your scenes to streamline your plot and make your world fuller. Same with characters and locations, if you can find any way to combine them, do it!

I’m not sure if I am going to explain this last point very well, but I’ll give it a go: You just come off as a very hesitant writer with your characters and your plots when you don’t take the time to fully develop or show them. You seem like you’re afraid that people will not like a certain aspect of your characters or your plots and your solution is to make them vague in hopes to heighten the suspense. Guess what? Not everyone is going to like every book and it’s okay. I would rather you just write something you loved and leave us out of it for awhile, because when you love it, it really shows and we’re allowed to love it too. And the sooner you can get us out of 'exploratory mode' and on to 'watching all the gears turn,' sort of speak, the better.

Oh, and be very careful about protecting your characters because there are a few places where I can ‘see your hands’ and that takes people out of the story.

Characters: How about I just put them in order? Favorite to least favorite.

Aermyst – I like him just fine and so far seems to be the one with the most pressing conflict. I would like you to give him more to do and play with his character more because sometimes it just seems like he is made to fit whatever situation you throw at him, striking me as a bit inconsistent, but I don’t hate him and I can see some good potential there.

Zael – I actually am very interested by him and would like more of him all around.

Marlin – Well, he’s kind of hard because I want to like him, I really do, because I can see his personality and you trying to give him a bit of an arch, but his parts just don’t seem to fit for me right now. I mean, you set this all up with battles and an older MC and all of that jazz so to have so much time later with a young kid with relatively juvenile problems seems like a big misleader and makes me wonder what kind of audience you are aiming for.

Ilis – I don’t see her bringing much to the story right now, but yeah, I am curious to see what you do with her since you hinted at some major changes.

Tristan – Irritates me to no end. I’m not too fond of ‘mysterious’ characters… in fact, I hate them because they just strike me as flat and boring.

Dantes – I have no idea. Wasn’t here for his earliest scenes so all I’ve seen is his ‘after dead’ state and he seems all over the place.

Overall, I can see these becoming good characters if you picked your primary focuses and take time to develop each of them further.

And, yes, there are several clichés and reminders of other books in your work, and in every other book I read on this forum and off but I am not going to list them because the fact of the matter is I DON’T CARE as long as you bring in something of yourself and do it well. So I personally would rather you focus on your execution rather than worrying about staying out of familiar territory.

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For me, it’s usually best (at least in the first draft) to forget all the rules and just get something down. I think once you have your ending and your plot all worked out, a lot of these things will start to work themselves out. It won’t be perfect, but you will have something to work with and practice/experience always helps. :D
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Reaves

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Re: Reaves 4-12-09: Questions for You.
« Reply #8 on: April 26, 2009, 06:12:17 PM »
Agg! I killed Crystalheart! I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to… well, yes I wanted to help it get better obviously, but I am sorry if any of my comments were overly discouraging.
Ha! No, I understand that this is a writing group. Everyone's criticism has been constructive and has really helped me a lot! I definitely don't feel like anyone's comments have been "too discouraging" or out of line in any way. As for killing crystalheart...I assume you are referring to the poll options. I simply wanted to give everyone as many options as I could so I could get the most honest answer I could. I'm going to finish it!  ;)
The fact of the matter is that I can understand this is your first draft, and a lot of it is going to be prewriting, but as submissions and critiques I like to talk in terms of what I would expect if it was to be published tomorrow. So all my criticism is to that end and doesn’t diminish the potential I see in a story or a writer (You guys are all great!).
That is exactly what I am looking for from critiquers. I think all of us hope in some dark corner of our hearts to someday be published, and its not helping anyone to judge a manuscript by any other standard. Thank you!


Biggest fault I see in your writing is organization and plotting. Some people talked about adding conflict, but the problem with that is that every new problem you introduce, you are expected to solve, so just make sure it is RELATED conflict. And if you ever come to a point where your section ends the same way it began or you can summarize an exchange in one line without missing anything, look at the scene again  and see if you can either bring in some more plot points so it furthers the story or flat out delete it. It may be interesting, but if it isn’t relevant or upsets the flow, it needs to go. Right now, I am still waiting for your story to start and I think you could probably condense, combine or delete a lot of your scenes to streamline your plot and make your world fuller. Same with characters and locations, if you can find any way to combine them, do it!
I've been noticing certain trends with my critiquers, things that you guys tend to focus on. With Ryos, its definitely dialogue and to a lesser extent characters. With Jwdenzel, it might be theme. With you, its plot ;)  Everyone brings something unique and helpful to the table.
Thanks for pointing this out once again. I see that this is a big enough issue that I'll probably have to reverse-outline Crystalheart and diagram all the various plots somehow. Then I can trim it down and see what can go. Because right now there are a lot of plots and subplots and character arcs that honestly go all over the place. It sprawls, and that is not what I want from this story.



Jwdenzel: Thanks so much for your thoughts as well. There's not really much I can respond to besides saying, "yeah you're right I'll get on that," lol.
As for the Red and Blue motif, it really hasn't come into play much yet. It's been there as a subtle undercurrent throughout the story, but its definitely not something I would expect even the most observant reader to pick up on. I just thought I would throw it out there anyway :D
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Re: Reaves 4-12-09: Questions for You.
« Reply #9 on: April 27, 2009, 07:00:25 PM »
I've been noticing certain trends with my critiquers, things that you guys tend to focus on. With Ryos, its definitely dialogue and to a lesser extent characters. With Jwdenzel, it might be theme. With you, its plot ;)  Everyone brings something unique and helpful to the table.
Really? Must be one of those 'those that cannot do, teach' kind of moments.... Plotting/outlining has always been harder for me.  :P
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jwdenzel

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Re: Reaves 4-12-09: Questions for You.
« Reply #10 on: April 27, 2009, 07:03:06 PM »
I've been noticing certain trends with my critiquers, things that you guys tend to focus on. With Ryos, its definitely dialogue and to a lesser extent characters. With Jwdenzel, it might be theme. With you, its plot ;)  Everyone brings something unique and helpful to the table.

Don't forget conflict!  I dual-weild swords here.  I have named my two blades Theme and Conflict and like to slice people's stories with them. ;-)
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