Author Topic: Jan. 11th - Chaos - Rebirth, Chapter 7  (Read 1626 times)

Chaos

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Jan. 11th - Chaos - Rebirth, Chapter 7
« on: January 12, 2010, 10:16:55 AM »
You haven't gotten a Medora chapter in a while (which I'm sure you are thankful for), so I wonder what she's up to? Hmmm.... :D

I definitely need to write more consistently. Anyways, enjoy and eviscerate. There's one part I wrote right now, when I'm really sleep deprived, so I'm thinking you'll hit me hard there. But that's what you are here for!

I really want to just say something and put a potential theory to rest, but I think I'll let you see if you come up with it yourself, so I can smack you. I think I changed the characterization enough so you won't be thinking it, though.
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LongTimeUnderdog

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Re: Jan. 11th - Chaos - Rebirth, Chapter 7
« Reply #1 on: January 12, 2010, 11:16:06 PM »
I feel somewhat inadequate to post on your writing. You're far better then I am, so I admit to wondering what I can contribute.  Personal esteem aside, i have trouble enjoying the piece simply because it is not something I generally enjoy.  The world, in what bits I have, seems very standard.  It is strange that in fantasy, where we do not have to follow any rules or reality, that we can have a "standard," but it is there.  Your story and the characters seem . . . standard.  I just don't like standard.

Not all "Standard is bad 

\have to go will finish later.

LongTimeUnderdog

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Re: Jan. 11th - Chaos - Rebirth, Chapter 7
« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2010, 02:51:02 AM »
Alright, where was I . . . oh yeah . .. standard.

Standard is not bad.  It's really hard to go wrong with dragons or swords in fantasy.  However, there are some things that are just less interesting, like setting.

for whatever reason, setting is a big deal to me.  Now obviously I like really wild settings with lots of dark, nasty stuff so perhaps I'm bias.  However, the more I read, the less interested I become in the setting.  I will admit that the reincarnation stuff and swapping soul stuff is pretty cool.  So your magic system is pretty cool.  But magic does not a world make.

So far within the story I am just not interested in the setting.  So he's in a magic school *yawn*.

Another terribly standard (please note I did not say cliche) thing is to have a protagonist who is some prodigy in magic.   I realize this is normal and is actually a gimmick of sorts to make the character more interesting but it has become standard.  If there is magic, the principle characters will be very talented at the magic.

As always the writing is top notch.  You have a great narrative and all of the characters carry unique voices and personalities.  But because the world seems fairly standard, I do not feel terribly compelled  by the story.  Assassins are always cool and getting into the details of the magic was ace.  Nicely done.  But no matter how much I like the writing, looking passed that writing will always tell me that there is a standard world with very little in the way of "new" to offer me.  But then Dragon Age sold like hot cakes so perhaps I'm the one with the problem.

lethalfalcon

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Re: Jan. 11th - Chaos - Rebirth, Chapter 7
« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2010, 07:13:38 AM »
Since you're a week late, I shall eviscerate with much gusto.

As a chapter, this is certainly much more presentable than your last. Quite a bit more actually happens, and I get a sense that a plot might actually be moving now.

However, it's more fun to focus on faults than to shower you with praise and make your head explode. So, on that note...

My first big issue here is probably a little bit of the same thing LTU had. You have a magical prodigy for a main character, and honestly, I have a hard time believing that he would grasp all of the knowledge you show he did so quickly. Now sure, I'm aware that death is a pretty good motivator to learn things, but the way you present it doesn't lend to "accidental discovery" of magical prowess. It's cold and calculating. I think it's because his mental concentration and observational capabilities are very acute, given his condition. He also has the Nashe there as an impromptu teacher, but it still doesn't seem like he could build his understanding this quickly.

I'm going to agree and disagree with LTU's problems with the setting. Part of the problem I've seen so far is that I'm not *sure* of a lot of the setting. It's this vague blur around sharply defined characters, like a lens with a low depth of field. For instance, in this chapter, I see a cathedral that's a quarter burned down, a man made square tunnel with stone-like walls, and a tall, wide, dark infirmary with a lot of people in it.  The next scene is described as... the imperial district. That's it. Even my imagination has trouble filling in that much setting detail. I'm pretty sure I berated you about this in the Nerida chapter, as well.

On the other hand, "originality" is difficult to do with setting. Forests are forests, seas are seas, medieval cities are exactly that. That's not to say you can't have distinguishing characteristics (like the ash falling in Mistborn), but by and large, they're all going to be similar. With magicians, you have two real types: learned mages, which generally requires some sort of school, and the so-called wild mages that learn on their own. Most books end up having both, to some extent (men vs women in WOT, for example). There's nothing *wrong* with having a main character as a prodigy... they're very likely going to be more interesting than a barely competent mage who will forever be stuck in the school trying to get the basics down. Just so long as your entire cast isn't the Cerebrant A-Team. (And I have to defend you to some extent, considering I have a decently advanced mage for one of my main characters, too.)

I guess what we're probably missing is the immersion. A lot of your world remains completely unexplained and in the dark. Granted, I wouldn't want you to rewrite it into a giant setting info-dump, either, but most people as they're moving throughout the world make observations on the world around them. Yours generally don't, so we can't look through their eyes very easily.

Beyond that little tirade, I have two smaller issues. One is with Medora. She keeps popping in and out of the picture, without much attention given to her. "Here I am, hear me roar!" and then she's gone again. A lot of stuff seems to have happened in the background that just got glossed over. That may not be true, but I *feel* that way. Three chapters ago she was struggling with putting together a plan, and now, it's already in motion (and not even from her POV, but from Haiden's). We need more from her if she's going to be important. I want to see her transition from klutzy idiot to confident.

The second small issue I have is with the confirmation. I find it really odd that something that would decline Haiden would then accept an imposter without so much as a second glance. It just feels... wrong. I don't really know how to even describe it. I get the feeling that the whole ceremony is a load of crap, but I don't sense that any of your characters feel that way. Why would Haiden himself think that he could get an impostor in when he failed?

And in my opinion, Dragon Age sold well because there aren't any other decent RPGs on the market right now. That's not to say it's bad... and it does have quite a bit of setting, although it feels like D&D meets Resident Evil.
I don't have good days. I have great days, where I'm a magician ridding the world of all evil, or at least everything I don't like. And then I wake up, and it's back to work for me.

LongTimeUnderdog

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Re: Jan. 11th - Chaos - Rebirth, Chapter 7
« Reply #4 on: January 13, 2010, 02:41:10 PM »
http://www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/view/zero-punctuation/1096-Dragon-Age-Origins

Note, the above has some language issues.

I've been thinking on the setting issues I mentioned and I realized why I find them boring.  They're static.  The piece could easily be taking place in a bubble.  I'm sure most of us have visited Cathedrals before.  When I lived in France I got the chance to see the Saint Julian Cathedral in Le Man.  The majesty of it is stuck in my head (particularly the line across the floor).  Maybe I missed it in the first several chapters but the places where this all takes place just seem dead.

Of course we're focusing in on certain characters but they're very clear while everything behind them seems like a very bleak Monet.  It's just not . . .  alive.  So in my head I'm filling in the gaps (which is good if the writer can give the reader the ability to do that with the story) but I'm fairly sure that my filling is not the same as your filling.  I'm sure there is something less . . . dull, that's actually going on but I just don't get the impression that there is anything there.  Because the background seems so blah, the rest of it seems blah as well.
« Last Edit: January 13, 2010, 05:36:57 PM by LongTimeUnderdog »

ryos

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Re: Jan. 11th - Chaos - Rebirth, Chapter 7
« Reply #5 on: January 13, 2010, 10:09:22 PM »
The entire story so far HAS taken place in a bubble of sorts, a "sanctuary" where the weather never changes. However, the fact that we still know so little about what the sanctuary is and why anyone would want to live there is a point of frustration for me. It occurs to me that only desert plants like cacti are likely to thrive in such an environment, but I can't recall anything in the story about vegetation (this could be the writing group problem).

Okay. I liked this chapter. I liked the structure and flow of it. You tricked me into expecting a Medora chapter, and I was pleasantly surprised when it wasn't. >:)

Your explanation of the healing process was clear enough, but it didn't make any sense. Let me see if I've got this straight. Invigoration is the process of ripping divine energy from one's soul and channeling it into the body to make it resistant to change. Focusing that energy on a specific region of the body preserves that region as-is; it can get neither better nor worse. So far so good. Then, when the invigoration is suddenly released, the pent-up healing is released, and the body works overtime to do it all in one go, overshoots its mark, and winds up healing the injury nearly completely. Um...wut?

First, I'd expect the rapid healing to be only that which was denied by the invigoration for however long it was held - not much at all. Second, since the process appears to rely on the body's natural healing, why is there no scar tissue? It just doesn't make any sense.

I'm with the others on Tav's proficiency. It came out of nowhere, and was too strong. If learning cerebrance is so effortless for him, why has it taken him so long to get this far? But more than that, a superman character is boring. He'll quickly learn everything there is to know and then be invincible.

Along those same lines, how is Tav able to walk around? Generating so much new tissue so quickly would have drained his body's reserve of nutrients, leaving him weak and lethargic. I'd imagine it would feel quite a bit like going days without food. He still has a nasty gash in his belly, and most of his skin is tender and new, and if he has any sense at all he'll get taken to the infirmary on a stretcher and go straight to bed.

Then there's the mystery of the magical Kurick soul. Either:
1) An especially potent soul can inhabit more than one body at once. In this case I'd expect some (or even most) of the soul's potency to remain on the "other side", so to speak, wherever souls go when they die.
2) An especially potent soul can possess one already living, subsuming it and combining with it. This would explain a lot; if the Kurick-soul possesses many people at once and absorbs their potency when they die (or even while they live), it would build up a large reserve of potency and memories and so on upon which any of the hosts might draw. This jives with Haiden's description, in the prologue, of Kurick's soul being "chaotic".
3) The explanation is something that makes no logical sense. Don't pick option 3, grasshopper.

Last non-sequiter in the batch, Haiden's horribly conspicuous submission of a fake to the confirmation is out of character for a bright, shrewd schemer like Haiden. The circumstances are such that any observer with half a brain would surely know that this Legate ain't legit. Unless his plan somehow depends on everyone knowing his candidate is a fraud, he needs a better cover story. Like, maybe the dude was the vice-candidate, the runner-up, held in reserve in the event of the first choice failing the confirmation. Actually, now that I think of it, that seems like something everyone should be doing as a matter of course.

Last comment. The Lord Cerebrant was a bit off. It's hard to describe how, but with his first few lines of dialog you created an outline of a character in my head, and then he didn't quite fit that mold that you'd set for him. If this doesn't make any sense to you feel free to ignore it. It's just an impression, hard to put into words.
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Chaos

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Re: Jan. 11th - Chaos - Rebirth, Chapter 7
« Reply #6 on: January 13, 2010, 11:02:21 PM »
Did I mention that you guys are awesome? Because you are.

If you all can bear with a poor first draft, you will be my heroes. You're calling me out on Rebirth's flaws, which is excellent. The issue with Tav's learning will be fixed in revision. Setting will require a deeper look, pretty much immediately. Just thinking about it, I can see some more cool things happening. My goal with this book is to build me into a character-driven fiction writer, so character was fixed. When you called me out on Medora's issues, well, I think this newer Medora will be more likable. So please, by all means, continue to call me out. I love it when you all are discussing problems with setting; it helps me see precisely what I'm doing wrong. In short, you are awesome.

And of course, the minute something is annoying you to the point of "This book sucks"--and I think the setting problem qualifies, to an extent (especially to LTU ;) Haha)--please, please let me know. I want to know what compels you forward as well as what doesn't.

I will only respond on one level, entirely unrelated to setting:

Quote from: ryos
Then there's the mystery of the magical Kurick soul. Either:
1) An especially potent soul can inhabit more than one body at once. In this case I'd expect some (or even most) of the soul's potency to remain on the "other side", so to speak, wherever souls go when they die.
2) An especially potent soul can possess one already living, subsuming it and combining with it. This would explain a lot; if the Kurick-soul possesses many people at once and absorbs their potency when they die (or even while they live), it would build up a large reserve of potency and memories and so on upon which any of the hosts might draw. This jives with Haiden's description, in the prologue, of Kurick's soul being "chaotic".
3) The explanation is something that makes no logical sense. Don't pick option 3, grasshopper.

This I have developed. I assure you, there is a method to this. It's not option three. Bear with me until... oh, say, Chapter Twelve. If you think you need it before that, let me know, but I think it will work well.

Okay, so I guess I'll comment on another thing.

Quote
Like, maybe the dude was the vice-candidate, the runner-up, held in reserve in the event of the first choice failing the confirmation. Actually, now that I think of it, that seems like something everyone should be doing as a matter of course.

Hey, that's an excellent point. Let's retcon that in, effective immediately. Much smarter.
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Frog

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Re: Jan. 11th - Chaos - Rebirth, Chapter 7
« Reply #7 on: January 19, 2010, 08:36:25 AM »
And here we go again. Briefly glancing through the other comments I'll just tell you I didn't have any complaints about setting. Tav learning magic so quickly may be a concern, but I would have been willing to see where it went from here. Medora I did have more of a problem with. If this was the first we ever saw from her since the prologue (which I would strongly urge you to consider at this point since we seem to have more character/political structuring then plot) it wouldn't of mattered at all, but now I feel like I missed something big. And I will agree that it did seem to me that the new guy was accepted too easily being an impostor and all.

Back to Tav.  I am noticing a lot of redundancy in your writing in this part. A character will speak about one subject that could have been covered in a sentence for a paragraph or more, characters with think things than say what I just read them think, or you'll toss out one idea then just as quickly dismiss it. And there are a lot of rhetorical questions that bug me to no end. Cut it all down please.

About your story in general I feel like you have too much character thought, too many characters and too much magical/political stuff you are explaining without a lot action. That may be weird to hear from me, but it is true. I am not saying that you need any more violent action if the story doesn't call for it, just more people actually doing stuff that drive towards a central plot... And if you figure out how to do that, please let me know so I can learn how to do it too. ;)

Good luck!
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Recovering_Cynic

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Re: Jan. 11th - Chaos - Rebirth, Chapter 7
« Reply #8 on: January 22, 2010, 03:44:27 AM »
I'll agree with the setting comments.  You have a lot of cool premises in the story (e.g. the floating cloud that makes people go insane), but they aren't getting any screen time, and really, they are not important, which is a problem. 

As to character, well, I was quite surpised by Saff this chapter.  Before this submission, all we knew about him was that he was a power hungry lawyer.  Here, you drop the bomb shell that he also happens to be a bloodthirsty murderer.  This needs to be foreshadowed.  In fact, until a short time ago, I had been thinking that Saff might have been the hero of the story, and I was quite confused as to why Medora was so afraid of him.

I will try to post more later.  I have a headache, so I'm having trouble processing.  Before I sign off though, let me tell you that I've enjoyed this chapter more than any of your past ones (including the action ones, which were cool).
this is the way the world ends,
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ErikHolmes

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Re: Jan. 11th - Chaos - Rebirth, Chapter 7
« Reply #9 on: February 02, 2010, 11:59:56 PM »
First off I really liked the chapter. The story felt like it was moving along , which is good.

But I also think its part of the problem. I think you are revealing too much too quickly. In this chapter we are told:

- Tav is really powerful.
-Who the assassins were after and why (0 mystery)
-Tav is actually the reincarnation of Kurick.
-Who sent the assassins (The mystery of who sent the assassins lasts less then 20 paragraphs.)
-The big bad is Saff Haiden
-All the Haiden plot stuff.

IMO its a lot for 4000 words.
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