Author Topic: February 8th - Shivertongue - Essence of Silence ch 1 (Ignore the prologue)  (Read 2306 times)

Shivertongue

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Here's chapter one, as of now the official beginning of the story and hopefully with less cliche. Enjoy!
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LongTimeUnderdog

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Well . . . How do I put this . . .

Why . . . oh why . . . did you torture us with that obnoxious Prologue when you had this piece of awesome sitting around.  Seriously . . . what were you thinking?

The actual writing is great, as was before but unlike before I feel like this world is alive.  Mia's kinda fun to read, the ninja stuff was fun to read, the extras like the nobles and mistresses all made the world a vibrant and living place.  The ironic part of the writing is that we have more information about the world around us then we do about the PoV character.

While the world did sit around something a bit more generic (that is medieval France sounding) the writing grasped me by my ears and forced me to sit in my chair, staring at my computer screen and read.  It would not let me go.

From the novel the woman is reading to the gossiping serving girls we are looking at a very living world.  The funny part of it is that Mia comes out much flatter then then her surroundings or the other parts of the piece.  By flatter I mean there is less substance to her details.  The setting and the extras within the setting all come together to make up a very live and vibrant place.  It reads like a living, breathing theater place.  Alternatively we have almost no details about Mia.  As the story starts, for example, we know she's wearing breaches, and has . . . hair.  She likes her pocket watch, or at least enjoys timing herself.  She has a great number of dimension personally, but mentally and physically we have . . . nothing.  On top of that she strikes me as terribly male.

Now, mostly so I can tell Frog to shove it up her nose, I will elaborate.  Her focus on details, the minimalistic approach to people, the job, and the other people around her give her a very male feeling (despite constantly being referred to as a she).  And if you will permit me, I can elaborate.

In the business world, it has been noted by those academic scholarly types, that women have a harder time advancing in the work place.  To determine why (if it was just blatant sexism) studies were conducted.  The findings, while indicating a certain amount of sexism in some cases, revealed something that everyone should have known but no one seemed to notice.

Men in general wait for things to go wrong, explode, or break down.  They they tear open their shirts to reveal a big red "S," swoop in, and fix the problem. This makes them look more capable to the task then the women around them.  Women, on the other hand, tended to think ahead.  They figure out what might go wrong ahead of time, make plans, execute said plans, and everything runs smoother.  This is less eye catching (mostly due to a lack of red "S") but most people agree is a better way of doing things.  My point with this little study is to demonstrate one thing:  If this is a school for ninja chicks, the character would appear more female I think if the audience was given more prep, recon, and counter measures verses turning on a magic invisibility spell and walking over to the box.

When the task became all-too-easy, a lot of the awesome tension you had building . . . died.  After a quick burial in a shallow grave we get, "I hate easy money."  Obtaining the object preemptively was cool though, and redeemed the piece.  Unfortunately if there's not emotional investment from the character there is no emotional investment from the audience.  Its as if she cant' take the work seriously and that's hard for us as the audience to do too.

Pyrofactor . . . please don't let there be an earthfactor or air factors or any elementalism like that.  I would hate to see something so well written lack in creativity there.

As a side, I should mention I used to design women's fashion (in case you're wondering why I have such a personal attention to what my characters are wearing) and it bothers  me that out of all the clothing to wear, the only things Mia seems to have (though I know this isn't the case) is the breaches and a hair pin. 


Recovering_Cynic

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Hmmm...  I will second LTU in that I really appreciate the world you've created and enjoyed reading it, but I also agree that your character is somewhat lacking in character and therefore an easy job became boring.  Let me elaborate.

Your character is pulling off a heist.  It is a relatively easy heist with no real tension.  Now, this can be the case--she does not have to be caught or even seen--but because you are lacking in tension from that aspect, you need to present your reader with something else that's shiny to keep their attention.  The logical choice in your piece is your MC.  Make her quirky.  Make her personality fun to read.  Not only is what she doing interesting, but *she* is interesting.  The combination of the two will pull your reader on.  Now, there is another option; you can make the heist be done in such an ingenious manner that your reader is absolutely enthralled trying to figure  out how it's all going to happen (think The Italian Job or The Sting), but currently there isn't much to work with in that area because all she's after is a gemstone.  Sure, she cloaks and hides, but that is not enough alone to engross your reader .

Don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed the piece, and considering I read it while mostly asleep, I think you did a really good job at keeping my attention.  The thing is, it can be better!  Give us a fun character!  Give us more sense of danger!  Surprise us with how the theft is done!  Although, as LTU said, it was nice that the pulled the job before the Magistrate even showed up at their door, although I must say I saw that coming.

Anyway, this was an excellent first chapter and I'm excited to see Chapter 2.  Well done.
this is the way the world ends,
not with a bang, but a whimper
~T.S. Eliot

vegetathalas

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A FASHION DESIGNER? I never would have guessed...

Anyway, because you said ignore the prologue, I ignored it.

Good start. It caught my attention.

You get into a rhythm with your sentences early on. Dependent clause-comma-clause. Dependent clause-comma-clause. Stifling a yawn...perched in the trees...Already lit were the lamps...I'd like to see more subject-verb-object straightforward sentence structure. The editor in me keeps wanting to yank things around, especially when you use passive. "Flanking the entryway were" vs. "Two sentries flanked the doorway." You do a lot better with this later on.

Try to replace every instance of the "to be" verb with more active verbs. How about "the servants rushed" instead of the "the servants were not idle?" that sort of thing. The lamps sputtered or burned instead of "were lit." "was glaring" to "glared."

The Scar is an area in world of warcraft, I think. You kill bugs there.

Why wonder how a maid feels about the blood sand? Probably don't need this info until later. As it is, the subtext/backstory is a little distracting.

Some really great moments--like the head being smashed in to the table. Although that isn't really ever explained as to why...

A lot of fingers running through hair. Need to find another way to introduce hair colors. It feels very cliche to me.

Interesting cross-play of the two situations. I like the box. I like the sparks.

Why would the magistrate need to tell them the "Last Resort" does not exist if she's part of it and undoubtedly does not want their organization name bandied about? And then later the Last Resort has no caps...a pun?

I liked it. I thought the character was developed enough for chapter one and I'm okay with an easy heist for a first chapter, although I'd like to see one last scare as she's exiting the house. The pacing is good. Good mini-hooks keep me interested in each section. The description could be tighter though, with stronger verbs. I wonder why your ninja girl fell asleep in the tree.

I don't understand the last sentence. Everyone likes easy money, or at least doesn't hate it. Hate is a strong word.

I hope the shards reappear later in the novel.

LongTimeUnderdog

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A FASHION DESIGNER? I never would have guessed...

I'm going to assume that was sarcasm, and laugh along with you.

Shivertongue

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Anyway, because you said ignore the prologue, I ignored it.

Thanks ^_^

Good start. It caught my attention.

You get into a rhythm with your sentences early on. Dependent clause-comma-clause. Dependent clause-comma-clause. Stifling a yawn...perched in the trees...Already lit were the lamps...I'd like to see more subject-verb-object straightforward sentence structure. The editor in me keeps wanting to yank things around, especially when you use passive. "Flanking the entryway were" vs. "Two sentries flanked the doorway." You do a lot better with this later on.

Try to replace every instance of the "to be" verb with more active verbs. How about "the servants rushed" instead of the "the servants were not idle?" that sort of thing. The lamps sputtered or burned instead of "were lit." "was glaring" to "glared."

Some of those were intended to be in the past tense, I think. I can't recall, and it's actually been edited since.

The Scar is an area in world of warcraft, I think. You kill bugs there.

That'd be The Dead Scar, actually. Had to look it up, since I don't play World of Warcraft. I should take this time to mention that all the names for stuff, like The Scar and the Blood Sand are placeholders until I think of something better. Although I am rather attached to 'The Scar'...

Why wonder how a maid feels about the blood sand? Probably don't need this info until later. As it is, the subtext/backstory is a little distracting.

Both Mia and the maid are Dronari, and of an age to have been alive during the Blood Sand, which is a currently-unknown-to-the-readers event in the recent past. It didn't quite feel right when I wrote it, I'll admit, and has since been cut.

Why would the magistrate need to tell them the "Last Resort" does not exist if she's part of it and undoubtedly does not want their organization name bandied about? And then later the Last Resort has no caps...a pun?

The Magistrate was stating, stupidly, three of the rules, and in doing so violating one. This may have repercussions... or not. I'm still working on that.

The first instance was a direct reference to the group's name. The second was a statement of Chivenier's situation, and is coincidentally where Last Resort get their name from. They don't offer their services unless all else has failed.

I liked it. I thought the character was developed enough for chapter one and I'm okay with an easy heist for a first chapter, although I'd like to see one last scare as she's exiting the house. The pacing is good. Good mini-hooks keep me interested in each section. The description could be tighter though, with stronger verbs. I wonder why your ninja girl fell asleep in the tree.

I don't understand the last sentence. Everyone likes easy money, or at least doesn't hate it. Hate is a strong word.

One last scare is actually being added in, having come to the same conclusions myself. I'm trying to avoid pruning and editing in detail until I've gotten to at least the third chapter. It's a bad habit of mine, but on the contrary I've found that editing what I've written the day before gets me in the mindset to write. That said, descriptions are becoming tighter, verbs stronger, and all that jazz.

Mia fell asleep in the tree because surveillance is boring. She much prefers the actual breaking in and thieving parts. That's also where the 'easy money' line comes from. She hates taking jobs where it feels like she didn't earn the money. These things are all points I may need to make clearer during revision.

I hope the shards reappear later in the novel.

Uh... I hadn't thought of that. But see, now you're giving me ideas....

Thanks for the comments! They are much appreciated ^_^
This propaganda has been brought to you by High Priest and Occasional Pope Archbishop Shivertongue Von Slamdance VI, of the Vibrating Purple cabal of POEE (Paratheoanametamystikhood Of Eris Esoteric). All rights ignored. Salvation not available in Idaho. Hail Eris. All Hail Discordia. Fnord?

Argas

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Definitely an improvement from the prologue. Loved it.

What really got me interested was the impact of it. There's no overload of information on the setting or character or anything. It hooks me in and keeps going until the end. It's got enough momentum that briefly switching to another point of view doesn't hurt it. Instead, you keep the interest up by introducing more characters in a quick and simple manner. You keep each viewpoint interesting and they never get bogged down by anything. Obviously, there will be a time for exposition but it's nice to see a start that isn't bogged down by it. By the end you've introduced a number of characters, with some focus on Miaria and Jannas. You've exposed some of their character through their actions, showing rather than telling. A very enjoyable read.
« Last Edit: February 12, 2010, 05:32:37 PM by Argas »

ErikHolmes

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Ok, great first chapter. I enjoyed it.

Here are some of the things I really liked:

-I liked the pacing. It moved along nicely.

-I liked how you worked infodumps into the story. Vegetathalas mentioned that she didn't like how you told us so much about the maid and blood sand. I thought it was a great way to give us a tiny bit of background on the protag. Great infodump.

-The magic seems like it could be interesting too.

Things I think need improvement:

-I didn't like how the mark had won something so important in a card game. No one would be dumb enough to bet something like that, and if they did they wouldn't turn it over afterward. Also, news of something like that would be all over town. It just didn't seem realistic to me.

-The heist was just too easy. Anytime a problem actually showed up, it was just magicked away. I personally didn't like that her spell made he silent AND invisible. I think it would have been a lot cooler to have only had the silence. (Giving us voice for silence makes a sort of sense, giving up voice for silence and invisibility makes about as much sense as bat-poo being needed for fireballs in D&D).

-The trap on the clock also was a disappointment. Whats the point of putting on a trap that just shoots out sparks? At least make the trap dangerous enough that it will kill her if she handles it improperly.

For being so important, this thing was less guarded then a prize box at a boxing match. Why weren't their guard outside or inside the room? If its on display for the king, why are they hidden in a clock only protected by a badly locked door and a magic Sparklers Rune.

-Getting away with the prize was just too easy. She jumped into an open window, snuck threw an unguarded house and opened a badly locked door. Her only real obstacle were a couple of maids, but her magic took care of that.

-Carrying 100 gold crowns, alone, at night? Again. No one is that stupid. Unless that guy is like a 10th level character in a D&D game.  :D

I really did like the story, but IMO a good thief type story needs to be as believable as possible. Brandon once told me: "No one likes stupid villains or antagonists." That's pretty much what you've given us here. In a world where magic and other things exist the prize wasn't really protected at all.
Who the hell is interrupting my Kung Fu!

Shivertongue

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-I liked how you worked infodumps into the story. Vegetathalas mentioned that she didn't like how you told us so much about the maid and blood sand. I thought it was a great way to give us a tiny bit of background on the protag. Great infodump.

No I'm thinking maybe I shouldn't have taken it out in the rewrite. One the one hand, I thought it worked pretty well, but on the other, part of me thought it might have been a bit early to drop the information in. I saved the section, so I'll have to play around and see if I should keep it there, or just go with the other plans I'd had to introduce the relevant information...


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Things I think need improvement:

-I didn't like how the mark had won something so important in a card game. No one would be dumb enough to bet something like that, and if they did they wouldn't turn it over afterward. Also, news of something like that would be all over town. It just didn't seem realistic to me.

Maybe I should have mentioned he was very drunk, and played up more of the fact that Chivenier is a compulsive gambler. However, it wasn't all over town because on Renécheric and Chivenier knew it happened, and because the former used the secret of the latter's stupidity as a political tool to force his hand on things. If this wasn't made clear, then I need to make sure it is in revision.

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-The heist was just too easy. Anytime a problem actually showed up, it was just magicked away. I personally didn't like that her spell made he silent AND invisible. I think it would have been a lot cooler to have only had the silence. (Giving us voice for silence makes a sort of sense, giving up voice for silence and invisibility makes about as much sense as bat-poo being needed for fireballs in D&D).

The ease of the heist has been changed, but I feel the need to answer why it was so easy to begin with. My intention for that was to show just how horribly easy it was, and the disappointment Mia felt with a job that offered her no challenge. This would have tied into motivations for events later in the book, which I won't go into right now. Suffice to say, I've made it significantly more difficult for her, and have still managed to find a way to make it work with everything else I had planned.

In regards to the Silence... this seems to be a point in which I need to make it a bit clearer in the story exactly what it does. Using the Silence makes her completely inaudible, but not invisible. She can still be seen, it's just difficult to NOTICE her. Think of it like a Somebody Else's Problem field from Hitchiker's Guide, or a Gray Man from WoT. People can still see her, but the complete lack of sound makes her less noticeable. The eyes of the unobservant or those simply not looking for her just slide past as if she were a piece of furniture.

Quote
-The trap on the clock also was a disappointment. Whats the point of putting on a trap that just shoots out sparks? At least make the trap dangerous enough that it will kill her if she handles it improperly.

For being so important, this thing was less guarded then a prize box at a boxing match. Why weren't their guard outside or inside the room? If its on display for the king, why are they hidden in a clock only protected by a badly locked door and a magic Sparklers Rune.

-Getting away with the prize was just too easy. She jumped into an open window, snuck threw an unguarded house and opened a badly locked door. Her only real obstacle were a couple of maids, but her magic took care of that.

Duly noted. Several of the above aspects have been changed, with the exception of the box and it's lack of adequate guards.  One of the changes does address the lack of adequate guards, however, and it's technically no longer just sitting out in the open...

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-Carrying 100 gold crowns, alone, at night? Again. No one is that stupid. Unless that guy is like a 10th level character in a D&D game.  :D

This caused some trouble for me, to be honest... The moment I got to that part it suddenly hit me "Why the heck would someone walk around with that kind of money?" I'm still working on that, but for now I'm going to chalk it up to another example of Chivenier's idiocy. You should have seen the initial figure... originally he was carrying around a thousand crownes XD

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I really did like the story, but IMO a good thief type story needs to be as believable as possible. Brandon once told me: "No one likes stupid villains or antagonists." That's pretty much what you've given us here. In a world where magic and other things exist the prize wasn't really protected at all.

That would be if the shard was the prize, or if one of the characters we've seen so far were actually a villain...

I really wasn't intending to do a point-by-point response. I should really refrain from that. I just felt there were a few things I should clear up (while simultaneously realizing that if there are things I need to clear up, then I better make sure to either fix them in the revision or make certain they become clearer later on). Thanks for the response! ^_^
This propaganda has been brought to you by High Priest and Occasional Pope Archbishop Shivertongue Von Slamdance VI, of the Vibrating Purple cabal of POEE (Paratheoanametamystikhood Of Eris Esoteric). All rights ignored. Salvation not available in Idaho. Hail Eris. All Hail Discordia. Fnord?

ErikHolmes

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Maybe I should have mentioned he was very drunk, and played up more of the fact that Chivenier is a compulsive gambler. However, it wasn't all over town because on Renécheric and Chivenier knew it happened, and because the former used the secret of the latter's stupidity as a political tool to force his hand on things. If this wasn't made clear, then I need to make sure it is in revision.

It was clear but still just seems like an odd situation to me. Did he have it in his pocket? Were they both playing cards, alone, wearing their petals and decided to throw them into the pot?

In regards to the Silence... this seems to be a point in which I need to make it a bit clearer in the story exactly what it does. Using the Silence makes her completely inaudible, but not invisible. She can still be seen, it's just difficult to NOTICE her. Think of it like a Somebody Else's Problem field from Hitchiker's Guide, or a Gray Man from WoT. People can still see her, but the complete lack of sound makes her less noticeable. The eyes of the unobservant or those simply not looking for her just slide past as if she were a piece of furniture.

I did get that part, but just FYI to me it made her seem like a pretty unskilled thief. She's breaking into this house, but isn't good enough to avoid a pair of maids. If it hadn't been for her magic that she wasn't sure would work, she'd have been caught. I seriously thought of Kronk sneaking around in the Emperors New Groove when I read that part.

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I really did like the story, but IMO a good thief type story needs to be as believable as possible. Brandon once told me: "No one likes stupid villains or antagonists." That's pretty much what you've given us here. In a world where magic and other things exist the prize wasn't really protected at all.

That would be if the shard was the prize, or if one of the characters we've seen so far were actually a villain...

I really wasn't intending to do a point-by-point response. I should really refrain from that. I just felt there were a few things I should clear up (while simultaneously realizing that if there are things I need to clear up, then I better make sure to either fix them in the revision or make certain they become clearer later on). Thanks for the response! ^_^

I think the rule still applies even if its someone that's only an antagonist for only a chapter. There was simply no danger in this chapter. It's an A to B story with no bumps or trials along the path.

I guess what I'm trying to get at is this. If you were trying to show that Mia is an awesome thief. I didn't see it. Someone like Vlad Taltos would have walked into that place, assassinated a few people, left with the shard and went home and would have done it without magic (ok, maybe a little help from Loish--and if you haven't read the Vlad Taltos novels, go buy all of them. Now).

What you pretty much showed us was this:
-Mia can get into a manor house as long as there's a convenient tree near an open window for her to use.
-She can hide from a pair of maids as long as she can use magic
-She can be silent, not because she's at stealth, but because she has a spell
-She can open locks as long as they are bad
-She can locate traps as long as they are poorly hidden and sloppily enchanted
-But she can't disable said types of traps

LOL, I'm not really trying to be as harsh as I am probably coming off. I really did like the story, I thought it was a great first chapter. But these are things that stuck out to me. And to be honest, I could probably go on. (Like a guild of thieves that won't steal other valuables  when they are right there for the taking. Or why someone in Renécheric 's own household hasn't taken off with the shards if they are that easy to get to).
Who the hell is interrupting my Kung Fu!