Author Topic: May 3 - The Sword of Worlds CH 24 - Ellie  (Read 1964 times)

ErikHolmes

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May 3 - The Sword of Worlds CH 24 - Ellie
« on: May 04, 2010, 02:32:14 AM »
When last we saw Ellie she was trying to convince Mordred to heal her giant wolf companion, Bloodbath. Before she could get him to agree they learned that an unknown army was approaching them.

Thanks for reading!
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LongTimeUnderdog

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Re: May 3 - The Sword of Worlds CH 24 - Ellie
« Reply #1 on: May 05, 2010, 01:31:22 PM »
So to return the nicety, I am now critiquing yours, the work of a much better writer . . .

I really thought it started and ended well.  Maybe I missed this by not reading the rest of the story, but why did you pick Arthurian names for your characters?

The middle sort of dragged for me.  I know, big epic battles, knights on horseback, I should have been all about it . . . but I wasn't.  Maybe I'm just getting old.  Or maybe it's because Ellie bores me to death.  The truth is I can't help it, and in part that might be because I haven't read the whole thing but I really have little interest in her.  I'm sure it is at least in part that I did not start with her, but the other part might be the general overuse of many of the story elements in this chapter.

Morrigan's grace, the use of daggers (though the whole raven feather to daggers skirt thing was way beyond awesome, please tell me you came up with that yourself), saving the animal guy, it all sounds like something I've heard before (and thus might explain the Arthurian names).  To put it simply, when I read this chapter I felt like we had a great amount of filler so Mordred could get the sword and Ellie could use a big bad ring at the end (okay it was pretty neat at the end there).  That's not bad, at least not in my mind and we did get a great amount of character development for Morrigan and Mordred so I can't say it was all filler.

The reason, I suppose, I don't like Ellie is because Kail reminds me so much of a twenty first century kid while Ellie could easily be from the world she's in.  Take the new Doctor Who show.  Out of all the girls that have traveled with him, I find myself enjoying Donna Noble the best (watching through the series on Netflix).  Why?  Because she seems the most from Earth.  Referencing Clue, for example, actually packing period clothes, and fighting with the Doctor.  When I Kail, I find it easy to see his Earth influences and can laugh along with him.  With Ellie, I don't get the idea that this is a 21st century girl.  I just get the idea that this is a girl.  Now I'm not suggesting that you change her personality in the slightest, because she's the kind of person I would love to meet, but I do suggest giving us more modern, down to Earth stuff to keep us fixed that this person is really otherworldly to those around her.

« Last Edit: May 05, 2010, 08:16:13 PM by LongTimeUnderdog »

Recovering_Cynic

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Re: May 3 - The Sword of Worlds CH 24 - Ellie
« Reply #2 on: May 05, 2010, 03:11:19 PM »
So I read this two days ago and have let it sit in the back of my mind, mulling it over (actually I've been really busy, but saying I was mulling it over sounds better).  Anyway, as usual I enjoyed the chapter and I enjoy the story.  There were some things that bugged me though.

First, (and this may be due to not seeing an Ellie chapter in some time) where did the battling armies come from?  Last I recall, Ellie was wandering along the road with her captors and a small escort of around 100 men/knights.  Then all the sudden we have a full blown battle with two armies.  It has been awhile so I may not be remembering clearly the size of the groups and events leading up to this chapter, but I found it puzzling.

Second, and this is related to the first, I didn't feel any tension build up before the battle.  As a reader, one of the things I love most in a book is that sense of tension and suspense right before two armies collide.  Here, we were just flung into the midst of a raging battle, so there was none of that.  Again, it's a personal preference, but you could ratchet up the tension a lot (of course, you might have done that in your last chapter which I don't remember so disregard this comment if you did).

Third, you need to do a hard read through and edit of the action sequences in this chapter.  I had to scratch my head and re-read paragraphs on several occasions to figure out what was happening with the fighting.  Usually your fight scenes are clean and clear, but these weren't.

Fourth, why did Morrigan send Ellie to Bloodbath?  This puzzles me to no end and it makes no sense.  If Morrigan knew Bloodbath was in trouble, she also knew that Ellie was grossly outnumbered as well, so why would she send her to aid him?  The only thing that makes sense is Morrigan knew Ellie would get her self in trouble, Bloodbath would start to die, and Ellie would have to give over the sword.  This makes sense if Morrigan is really a bad guy only pretending to care about Ellie, but I got the impression that wasn't what you were going for. 

Finally, I am still wondering what the plot climax will be for Ellie.  What is it all building toward with her?  You just had a major battle scene and a major turning point with giving over the sword and using the ring on Mallik (still don't know what that did which was kinda annoying), but it wasn't a climax, not really.  I feel like we are nearing the end of the book, but I don't feel like we've built toward any kind of plot climax for Ellie.  Similarly, if Kail's climax in the book is his winning over of the troll nation to save his love, it's going to feel somewhat like a let down.  You promise epic in the beginning--magic swords that are keys to the universe, rampaging bad guys invading and destroying worlds, a god-slayer hero--but if the climax of your first book is guy gets girl and girl frees prisoner, your readers are not going to feel very satisfied.  Something big had better be coming down the pipe.

Anyway, those are my thoughts.  I look forward to the next chapter.
this is the way the world ends,
not with a bang, but a whimper
~T.S. Eliot

Recovering_Cynic

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Re: May 3 - The Sword of Worlds CH 24 - Ellie
« Reply #3 on: May 05, 2010, 05:33:45 PM »
I read your second version and the battle scenes were much improved.  You can ignore everything I said in my third critique.
this is the way the world ends,
not with a bang, but a whimper
~T.S. Eliot

Asmodemon

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Re: May 3 - The Sword of Worlds CH 24 - Ellie
« Reply #4 on: May 05, 2010, 07:01:29 PM »
First of all, it’s great to have a new chapter for “The Sword of Worlds” to read. I’ve been really enjoying them. That said, this chapter didn’t work as well for me as the last Kajsa chapter did.

The chapter picks right up where chapter 22 left off, with the enemy army advancing. I feel it should be epic, but it falls flat for me. One of the reasons I don’t feel tension in the first part is because the battle is too far away from Ellie. She’s just an observer here, not a participant. All the characters we know and might care about are all on the side-lines watching or doing something else. The enemy army itself is completely new and while the two gods are cool I don’t feel any connection to anyone actually participating.

Another problem here is the perspective of Ellie. On the one hand you are trying to describe the battle and the tactics involved, but the next you seem to remember that Ellie has no military background. Which results in sentences like this: “One would charge the other warriors, immediately followed by the second group or squad or whatever.”

Maybe you’re writing it like that to show Ellie’s modern mindset, but it doesn’t really work for me. It was after that sentence that I stopped believing Elllie was actually afraid; it’s just such a carefree way of observing the battle. It made me think that if she doesn’t really care, why should I? 

On the point of Ellie’s perspective I’m also really trying to remember how well Ellie can see. First she observes that she can barely make out the two gods on the hill. Then, moments after, when the gods have jumped into the melee she can suddenly see them well enough to describe exactly what they were wearing and that one of them is ‘perfect’. The gods may move at inhuman speed but they’re still wading through two armies and a dust cloud.

It gets better when Ellie finally leaves Mordred, because now things are actually happening around her. There are still some issues here, but Recovering Cynic already addressed those.

ErikHolmes

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Re: May 3 - The Sword of Worlds CH 24 - Ellie
« Reply #5 on: May 05, 2010, 09:29:24 PM »
So I wasn't really happy with this chapter when I sent it out and obviously it shows. It was a complicated chapter to write for me.

After reading your comments, I think having Ellie and Mordred looking down on the army, watching, was a mistake. Maybe I'll put them right at the front of the enemies first charge. I feel like I got the events I wanted to happen down, but I just need to work on how I convey those events.

Like someone recently posted: The first draft is for what you want to say, the second draft is for how you want to say it.

I know that I want to do more to build up Modi and Magni (the sons of Dor) they are two of the most powerful characters you'll encounter in my books. I think most of you know that the Ellie chapters are always a lot harder for me to get right, hopefully I can make this one come out better in the next draft.

To answer your questions:

Maybe I missed this by not reading the rest of the story, but why did you pick Arthurian names for your characters?

I'm really only hinted at this, but Mordred actually is the Mordred from Arthurian legend. He's at least the source of the legends.

Morrigan's grace, the use of daggers (though the whole raven feather to daggers skirt thing was way beyond awesome, please tell me you came up with that yourself)

Those are all me :)
I wanted a Raven motif for Morrigan and while I was thinking about it I thought that man, a ravens feather would be pretty killer as a knife if it was as hard as metal. And by the time I'd gotten the idea I'd already written that Morrigan wore a skirt of feathers.

First, (and this may be due to not seeing an Ellie chapter in some time) where did the battling armies come from?  Last I recall, Ellie was wandering along the road with her captors and a small escort of around 100 men/knights.  Then all the sudden we have a full blown battle with two armies.  It has been awhile so I may not be remembering clearly the size of the groups and events leading up to this chapter, but I found it puzzling.

The army's always been fairly large. Two dozen Sigil Knights and a few hundred horsemen. I haven't been really specific with the numbers yet. I might up it to a thousand soldiers in the final draft. The army was sent by the Emperor to put down the rebellion Malik led and capture him.

Third, you need to do a hard read through and edit of the action sequences in this chapter.  I had to scratch my head and re-read paragraphs on several occasions to figure out what was happening with the fighting.  Usually your fight scenes are clean and clear, but these weren't.

I do want to tighten up the combat a lot in this chapter before the final draft. I want the readers to have a sense of just how powerful Modi, Magni and Morrigan are and be wowed at the same time. Morrigan, for example, is the the most skilled fighter I can think of in fiction. There are few warriors in fantasy that I can think of that would even be capable of wounding her.

Fourth, why did Morrigan send Ellie to Bloodbath?  This puzzles me to no end and it makes no sense.  If Morrigan knew Bloodbath was in trouble, she also knew that Ellie was grossly outnumbered as well, so why would she send her to aid him?  The only thing that makes sense is Morrigan knew Ellie would get her self in trouble, Bloodbath would start to die, and Ellie would have to give over the sword.  This makes sense if Morrigan is really a bad guy only pretending to care about Ellie, but I got the impression that wasn't what you were going for.

Morrigan weaves a tangled web. Did she send Ellie to save Bloodbath because she knew that doing so would put the Sword of Worlds into her son's hand? Did she do it because she saw that Bloodbath's death would change Ellie and make her do something she shouldn't later on? Is Bloodbath going to save Ellie, Mordred, Morrigan, or someone else important at some point in the future? Is he going to do something that needs to be done? Would keeping the sword have led to Ellie's death or harm? Has she seen that Mordred needed to possess the sword for some reason? Did she just do it so that Ellie would be in the right place to hear Mordred give the order to have Malik killed?

Hell, even I don't know at this point  ;)

Finally, I am still wondering what the plot climax will be for Ellie.  What is it all building toward with her?  You just had a major battle scene and a major turning point with giving over the sword and using the ring on Mallik (still don't know what that did which was kinda annoying), but it wasn't a climax, not really.  I feel like we are nearing the end of the book, but I don't feel like we've built toward any kind of plot climax for Ellie.  Similarly, if Kail's climax in the book is his winning over of the troll nation to save his love, it's going to feel somewhat like a let down.  You promise epic in the beginning--magic swords that are keys to the universe, rampaging bad guys invading and destroying worlds, a god-slayer hero--but if the climax of your first book is guy gets girl and girl frees prisoner, your readers are not going to feel very satisfied.  Something big had better be coming down the pipe.

To be honest, I'm still working on how I want the book to end for Ellie. I have something Epic planned for Kail. But I haven't quite figured out how to complete Ellie's character arc just yet. It's in the works.

As for nearing the end of the book, really I'm sort of in the middle still. At this point in the book I'm at just over 60k words. Since I'm shooting for 100k I think I still have some room for a big epic ending. But it is my first book, I might have to do some trimming when its done.

Oh, and Malik told Ellie about her rings at the beginning of the last Ellie chapter. Brotna is the one that 'breaks magic'.
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Recovering_Cynic

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Re: May 3 - The Sword of Worlds CH 24 - Ellie
« Reply #6 on: May 06, 2010, 12:18:45 AM »
About the "Brotna" breaking magic, the word is foreign to your reader, and since it is only mentioned once, your reader will have a hard time remembering its meaning even after only a few dozen pages.  You'll need to drop the word again if you want your reader to understand what she's doing.

Of course, if you want to annoy your reader and make them flip back three or four chapters looking for the word, well, keep it the way it is.  I don't recommend this, personally.
this is the way the world ends,
not with a bang, but a whimper
~T.S. Eliot

ryos

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Re: May 3 - The Sword of Worlds CH 24 - Ellie
« Reply #7 on: May 09, 2010, 10:08:45 AM »
In general, this chapter was made of win and awesome. I'm having a hard time finding anything specific wrong with it.

The biggest issue is likely due to the writing group problem (namely, the length of time between chapters). In other words, I feel like I've missed something—like I accidentally skipped a chapter or something. I don't remember Ellie learning to use her rings, I don't remember Morrigan's oath to ignore her son, and I certainly don't remember any sort of battle looming at any time so soon.

I know that I've been getting on your case for slow plot development, but skipping setup isn't the way to speed things up. But, as I said before, you could have set everything up perfectly and I just don't remember because it's been too long since I read those chapters.

For some reason, it wasn't clear to me that the soldiers harrying Bloodbath were "vikings" until late in the scene, when you specifically mention it. It may be because that doesn't make any sense. How did those soldiers get so far behind enemy lines? Given that they are in a potentially highly strategic position, don't they have better things to do than play with an obviously wounded and dying animal? Since you depicted them as riding wolves themselves, would they not have a predisposition to care for the beasts, instead of making sport of them?

I also wonder at Ellie's total incompetence. Well, no, actually, that felt right, and made sense; it's the earlier chapters, where she single-handedly takes down a sigil knight and gives a lot of other soldiers quite a bit of trouble. The Ellie from those chapters would have handled herself better. The Ellie from those chapters did not hesitate to cleave an enemy in half with a sword in self defense. She shouldn't have any prowess at combat, and she is a scared, gentle little girl. But she also has a near-suicidal amount of courage, and her resolve not to kill, even in self-defense, doesn't make sense considering what she's experienced up 'till now.

Her decision to trade the sword to Mordred is a nice echo of Kail's "burn the world" decision to save Kajsa. Her torpedos-be-damned freeing of Malik is just the sort of madly courageous stunt we've come to expect from her. She acted without hesitation, without thought, and without fear; it was perfectly in character and entirely awesome. Her pathetic excuse for a defense of Bloodbath, however, was not.

I agree that we don't feel any tension from the battle, but this felt right to me. Mordred's army are the bad guys, and we kind of want them to lose. Ellie is detached from the fighting; it would be mad (and entirely pointless) to have her in the thick of things. She has no reason to believe that Morrigan will allow any harm to come to her from the opposing forces. So, she ought to be relatively safe.

Actually, what is she doing hanging out with Mordred anyway? Did she really think that he would take time for her, let alone Bloodbath, while in the midst of commanding a battle?

That actually came out to a lot of specific criticisms. Guess I just needed to get warmed up. I still think the chapter is awesome, though. It's like a diamond in the rough.
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ErikHolmes

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Re: May 3 - The Sword of Worlds CH 24 - Ellie
« Reply #8 on: May 09, 2010, 11:08:32 AM »
The biggest issue is likely due to the writing group problem (namely, the length of time between chapters). In other words, I feel like I've missed something—like I accidentally skipped a chapter or something. I don't remember Ellie learning to use her rings, I don't remember Morrigan's oath to ignore her son, and I certainly don't remember any sort of battle looming at any time so soon.

To recap:
Malik explained to Ellie what her rings did in the last Ellie chapter. He has an ability to just look at magic at figure out what it does. When Morrigan is introduced her and Mordred get in a fight and she tells him he won't hear her voice or council for 3 days. Which really meant that she was going to let all of his soldiers be killed for pissing off momma since she knew the army was coming.
The last Ellie chapter ended with her seeking out Mordred for help in healing Bloodbath. The army was spotted just as she approached him.
I'll probably explain the army appearing out of no where in a future chapter. Mordred's army has been traveling along a ley line, moving from world to world as they've followed it. The Viking army they just fought have their own seers who predicted where Mordred would be. Since they too traveled along a ley line to intercept Mordred, they almost appear out of nowhere.

For some reason, it wasn't clear to me that the soldiers harrying Bloodbath were "vikings" until late in the scene, when you specifically mention it. It may be because that doesn't make any sense. How did those soldiers get so far behind enemy lines? Given that they are in a potentially highly strategic position, don't they have better things to do than play with an obviously wounded and dying animal? Since you depicted them as riding wolves themselves, would they not have a predisposition to care for the beasts, instead of making sport of them?

That's my bad. I knew they were Vikings from the start but for some reason didn't just want to come out and say it. There's a lot of Norse mythology in my books and I keep trying to obfuscate it for some reason. For example, did anyone figure out that the Sons of Dor are really: The sons of Thor?

As for how they got behind enemy lines so fast: once the Sons of Dor show up the battle is over. It's really only a question of 'can the sigil knights and our army hold off the vikings and the Sons of Dor long enough for us to get away'.

I also wonder at Ellie's total incompetence. Well, no, actually, that felt right, and made sense; it's the earlier chapters, where she single-handedly takes down a sigil knight and gives a lot of other soldiers quite a bit of trouble. The Ellie from those chapters would have handled herself better. The Ellie from those chapters did not hesitate to cleave an enemy in half with a sword in self defense. She shouldn't have any prowess at combat, and she is a scared, gentle little girl. But she also has a near-suicidal amount of courage, and her resolve not to kill, even in self-defense, doesn't make sense considering what she's experienced up 'till now.

It might seem like Ellie has been in previous fights, but she really hasn't. Up until now, she's just been using Morrigan's protection and the reputation she'd earned from destroying a Sigil Knight.

-She took one swing at the Drakos Rawg, which ended up killing him because she has a knife that can kill just about anything with a scratch.
-She pushed a Sigil Knight, knocking off his helmet. This allowed her to see that the Sigil Knight was really some type of undead zombie-like thing inside the armor. This in turn allowed her to destroy one without hesitation later on since she doesn't see them as people or living things.
-When she destroyed the Sigil Knight, its back was to her, fighting Bloodbath.
-She hasn't done any other fighting.

I will say this though. With Ellie's rings and the Sword of Worlds she could have easily defeated the men she just faced. It was the fact that she tried to not kill anyone and held back that defeated her. If she'd just charged in, wildly swinging the sword of worlds she'd have cut down all twenty of those vikings.

Thanks for the great critique! And I hope I'm not sounding defensive. Its actually very helpful to go over the events to see if I missed anything, etc.
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