Author Topic: Reading Excuses - June 28 - Valkynphyre - Gold, Steel, and Fire.  (Read 2272 times)

Valkynphyre

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Hope that worked. Tell me what you think.
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LongTimeUnderdog

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Re: Reading Excuses - June 28 - Valkynphyre - Gold, Steel, and Fire.
« Reply #1 on: June 28, 2010, 01:51:41 PM »
There's a lot of good things and a lot of less good things. 

I liked the characters.  Or at least what we had of them.  Since all we have of them is conversations, that means they have enjoyable dialog.  Jinn are not something I've read much about, either.  Maybe I just don't read the right books but you're definitely scoring points for using something new.  While Jinn are not something new, they are little used so good job.  However Phyre (whom I'm assuming is fire related) appears and I had no idea it was a she until near the end of the submitted piece.

One of the biggest I had with the submission itself is that everything is short.  We have next to nothing about anything.  You did jump right into character the characters and that's, I think, is really good.  However, aside from the divinities in the prelude, we have next to nothing about our principles.  In fact, while I tell us a bit about what Kalm is, we know almost nothing about what it looks like, how it smells, what anyone is wearing, or where it is located.  In fact, we don't get any hints that its Arabian in nature until the mention of Jinn.  And that's not very telling because you could just be transplanting the mythos.  So once again we have no clear picture of what anything is.

In the prelude, you mentioned the immortal elemental offspring of the divine couple.  I was immediately disgusted and wanted to put the book down.  That, however, is not something negative about you, but the nature of that word.  Some people get a kick out of elemental systems (systems of anything).  And then there are people like me who are bored to death with them.  And while we actually don't have any information about what these "elements" actually are, I, of course, immediately thought of fire, air, water, earth, random fifth that's always added.  When you mentioned six I was less disgusted but my guess is you're going to use light and dark, or something to that effect.  In short, even if I'm totally wrong, the very idea of elemental anything is a turn off to a lot of readers.

Shi

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Re: Reading Excuses - June 28 - Valkynphyre - Gold, Steel, and Fire.
« Reply #2 on: June 28, 2010, 08:30:28 PM »
There's a lot of beautiful writing in here, the way words and descriptions were pieced together had a nice poetic flow. Like in the first two paragraphs of the chapter one, I instantly felt like the city was a melting pot of cultures.

Also, the world created seems like it could be really unique. We have humans and gods-like creatures running around together like it's nothing new. There are people who can choose who they can worship and others who are forced into it. I found these things intriguing.

But I really have a problem with prologues. And I'll state right now that I've never liked prologues, it's not my thing, and I can think of only two books where I actually liked it. Though I know other people do like them, so take my view with a grain of salt. The problem I had is that the prologue felt so disconnected from the main story. I don't want to know what happened 3000 years before the actual story started, I'd rather learn about the event when I'm immersed in the story and care about the relevance of it to the characters. So to me, it came out more as a way to dump info than an interesting story. Then the story moves into a second prologue, and I felt even more disconnected from the book. I found the story much more interesting once it started following Kyrie.

In your writing, there were a few times the story would describe something about a character, and I wouldn't know who it was about. Mainly in the last scene, when Charon was watching Kyrie and Phyra, I thought, I never knew which character he was looking at or thinking about.

Anyway, I seems like you have a really interesting world set up, and the characters have my attention, but a good half of what I read was prologues, and you know, not my thing.

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Re: Reading Excuses - June 28 - Valkynphyre - Gold, Steel, and Fire.
« Reply #3 on: June 29, 2010, 03:01:14 AM »
I liked the use of Hebrew names for the dieties.  It especially like how you named goddess Shekina (or Shekinah as I prefer to spell it): 'the glory and prescense of god.'  It made me laugh a bit though, because here in Saskatchewan, we have both a Camp Elim (which is a dump) and Camp Shekinah (which is awesome), which is how I know what Shekinah means (sorry if you were impressed, I don't actually speak Hebrew.

In the prologue some of you paragraphs got repetitive.  I know you were going for inpact when you wrote the 'Never again.' paragraph, but it didn't work for me.  That could just be preference of course.  The six elementals turned me off as well (not that I can talk, having Auroks controlling fire and water in my story).

You don't need so exact a year (I'm talking about the '1,064 years ago,') in the prologue.  These are gods you are righting about, and I don't think sixty four years here or there should make much difference.  For me, it wrecked the very nice flow you were setting up.  I know you probably did it to avoid using the cliche: one thousand years ago, but in this situation, I think that would almost be better.  You might not even need a date for it all.  It's nice that you know it, but I don't think the reader needs to.
When Phyra calls for Kyrie, it is unclear which girl is shorter than the men around her with red hair.  As all ready mentioned, you should be clearer.

I also think Charon should have more of a reaction when he discovers Kyrie is the girl he needs.  At first he seems absolutely sure it can't be her because she is a human, but when he sees her eyes, he just accepts that she is the one he needs.  This might be in character, but I suggest making him surprised to find out she is a fae.

So far very creative, and it looks like it is going interesting places.  Keep it coming!
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Renoard

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Re: Reading Excuses - June 28 - Valkynphyre - Gold, Steel, and Fire.
« Reply #4 on: June 29, 2010, 10:25:24 AM »
I liked the touching scene where the creature presents it's child to El(im) and I was okay with the Prelude aside from the fact that the cosmology it presents is pretty flawed (see below).  I also liked the pacing and characterization in Chapter 1, although I was put off by wondering if Kyrie (Kyrie elaison?) is the baby that was presented to El(im).  You have a good command of setting and pace.  And mostly your narrative shifts voice appropriately for the character in focus, with a few odd notes.

On the negative side, I came up with essentially the same  three issues that Underdog, Shi and Comatose did and two more of my own.  Elementals are not necessarily overdone, because few ever do them according to the legends.  It's as if the D&D parodies are the only text out there, so a "cannonical" rendition would be refreshing and very different.  But then, by making them child gods you've pretty much taken off on a tangent as well.

For instance Faer Folk are elementals, as are classical Djinn, gnomes etc.  If you did them straight then you might be on to something.

I had a problem with the use of the almost Hebrew names.  I've written fantasy that used a good deal more Hebraic names for god etc., but the reframing of all those terms into something so allegorical just seemed like a parody to me.  I'm curious why you pluralized El (and why there is a camp named El in the plural), when there was the perfectly good Elohim already nicely pluralized.

The one thing I had a problem with that no-one has touched on is the cosmology, which seems to have demoted the "creator of all things" to a lesser being that is made of matter, bounded by time occupies space and in general is composed of the "things" he and she are supposed to have created.  It got recursive.
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Valkynphyre

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Re: Reading Excuses - June 28 - Valkynphyre - Gold, Steel, and Fire.
« Reply #5 on: June 29, 2010, 01:53:52 PM »
As for the names Elim and Shekina, I didn't want to take the Lord's name in vain. This conjured the appropriate mythos in my mind without being blasphemous.
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Valkynphyre

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Re: Reading Excuses - June 28 - Valkynphyre - Gold, Steel, and Fire.
« Reply #6 on: June 29, 2010, 01:55:41 PM »
I think I just realized why everyone hated the immortal children idea. Too twilight. Let it be known these gods are full grown.
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Re: Reading Excuses - June 28 - Valkynphyre - Gold, Steel, and Fire.
« Reply #7 on: June 29, 2010, 10:31:48 PM »
Ummm I've never read or watched Twilight, so I was unaware of child Gods.  I was just using child God to refer to paternity not developmental maturity.  For me, it was the use of the term Elemental God's rather than any association with a specific previous work.

Using the names of God to write a respectful fiction is little different from writing Apocraphal works like Maccabbees.  But then I wouldn't want you to violate your conscience on that.  It partly depends on the faith you follow.

Again there was plenty to like about the story, it's just easier to articulate the objections, and the forematter does tend to eclipse the chapter because of the drama factor.
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Chaos

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Re: Reading Excuses - June 28 - Valkynphyre - Gold, Steel, and Fire.
« Reply #8 on: June 30, 2010, 12:55:20 AM »
Well, the worldbuilding is slightly neat. I'm curious to what the physical difference between Jinn and humans are. Right now there doesn't seem to be any practical difference, since Phyra's description doesn't point anything out. If she were half human and half Jinn, there would certainly be some Jinn in her appearance. As it is, the Jinn appear to be just a different race of humans, not really an alien or a different species.

I have two big issues with the piece. The first only applies to chapter one, but now that I think about it, it could be considered for all of it: lack of progress. Chapter one is basically "Kyrie is in a city and meets up Phyra, and goes into a building." Sure, there's Kyrie's thoughts about wondering which god to pick, but ultimately it doesn't make a difference, because that conflict doesn't lead to anything. The chapter was just a prelude to the actual chapter where something important happens. You could just as easily cut the whole chapter one and cut straight to Kyrie's decision and start with the real story.

The second is sort of pedantic, but it annoyed me through the whole piece: the lack of character names. In the prelude, the viewpoint is vague to the point of distraction. We get to see a lot of Shekina in relation to him, but we don't know anything about him. He's a god, ostensibly, but you never actually say it. For a minute, I thought it was the personification of the world itself, but obviously that doesn't make sense. So, the bizarre viewpoint choice, as well as not knowing anything about "him", really lessened it's impact. Who is he, why is he here, how did a god die... those things, even if mentioned slightly, would make me care a lot more. But really, I want to know who "he" is. I want to know his name.

In the prologue, all that is accomplished story-wise is foreshadowing, which is probably not the most constructive use for it narratively. I want to know who this beggar is. The whole scene would flow better if you actually used his name, so I know who is "he" who "him". Pronoun overload. Reading the first chapter, I'd be shocked if Kyrie wasn't the girl in the prologue, so why not tell us the beggar's name?

It's the biggest issue in chapter one, however. It's two and a half pages before we know who the viewpoint character is, which is completely ridiculous. We are in their viewpoint. She knows her name. There's no practical use in waiting until dialogue is spoken for us to get her name. You could easily just start the piece with "The City spoke to Kyrie". Problem solved instantly. It would solve the massive repetition of pronouns, which--while not necessarily a bad thing--is hurting the piece, especially since it is an easy fix.

Maybe you just don't like proper names, because even in Charon's viewpoint, we only get his name once. It reminds me of one of David Farland's Daily Kicks, where he read a piece and there could have been seven people on the bridge of this starship, when in reality there was only two. The lesson, he said, was don't be afraid to use people's names. It makes the writing much clearer. I heartily recommend it, because there's no good reason not to.

So, um, I suppose thank you for making me realize this is a huge pet peeve of mine. I shall keep it in mind for later :P

But hey, I didn't have to harp on lack of character! Kyrie actually has a conflict, and it's an interesting one. Your main character is solid. That's a great start.
« Last Edit: June 30, 2010, 12:57:44 AM by Chaos2651 »
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Valkynphyre

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Re: Reading Excuses - June 28 - Valkynphyre - Gold, Steel, and Fire.
« Reply #9 on: June 30, 2010, 02:49:56 AM »
Many valid, useful points here. Thanks for helping me improve my writing.
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Re: Reading Excuses - June 28 - Valkynphyre - Gold, Steel, and Fire.
« Reply #10 on: July 02, 2010, 01:00:05 AM »
My biggest problem with the prelude is that I don't understand who, or even what, the main character is. Is he a god or not? Everything you write seems to suggest this,

and then there's this line: "why, gods, did she have to die?" which suggests that he ISN'T a god. After all, it makes no sense to appeal to a higher power if you ARE said

higher power. Yet one sentence later he's back to talking about his chlidren, who are gods, and losing loved ones to deicide. So ultimately, the emotion in here isn't bad,

but I'm still struggling to connect to the character because I don't know what kind of character he is.

One other inconsistency in the prelude was the fact that he finds that his wife--lover--whatever is just barely alive, just enough that he can save her--so he immediately

goes off and uh, puts his lover on hold while he takes his revenge. Structurally this makes a certain amount of sense with the way you've ordered the paragraphs, and

since he can stop time I realize that she's not in any immediate danger of dying, but emotionally it still makes much more sense to me that you would help your

nearly-dead loved one first and THEN worry about getting back at the jerks who did it.

Hmm. What does God look like?

I'm not sure about the prologue yet. There's no one really to connect to since it is (as far as I can tell) an omniscient narrator, insofar as we're not given any definite POV.

And I don't understand what's really at stake for the beggar here; why is he so desperate to have God see his daughter? what's at stake here?

Again, I'm not sure this needs to be answered right away. It's a prologue, so I can assume that this will be relevant later. I do expect that there will be more relevance than

just "girl grows up, rules everyone, as prophecized" though.

The god of the Prelude appears to be different than the God of the Prologue (Elim versus Aos). Is that what you intended?

The description of the city is vivid and wonderful but I'm not sure that it should be the first thing that we see, or maybe it just needs to be tightened and/or broken up. While

it's great to know what the city looks like it does mean that we don't get to the character or her conflict right away.

Oh, and if it is Arabian nature, like LTU was suggesting... well, I didn't notice. That could perhaps be one way of trimming the description if that's what you decide to do--we

all have some sort of picture in our head of what a city looks like. Focus on what makes yours distinct and maybe that will allow you to get teh same across in fewer

words.

This little diatribe about the character choosing her religion makes her seem a little naive, or that once she's indoctrinated/registered/whatever into a particular church she

can't change her mind, or both.

Kyrie thinking that she feels much older than the boys also makes her seem very young/naive. Hopefully that's what you're intending. If so, it's well done.

The section with Charon seems like it might lead to something interesting, but at the moment I don't understand enough about what he's doing/what it's leading to/why he's

doing it to really grab my attention. (When I give lists like that, I don't necessarily mean that I need to know ALL of those things, just that those are things that you could

use to hook the reader a little more firmly).

I think that comment holds true overall, actually. There's a bunch of potentially interesting stuff here, but I don't know enough about any of it to really catch my interest. I

want a little more to sink my teeth into. :)

As for what other people have said: Personally, I would never put a book down just on the basis of whether or not it used an elemental magic system (or elemental

whatever system). For me, the execution is much more  important than the concept itself, and of course we haven't seen that yet in your story, so there's no point in

criticizing it as far as I'm concerned. But as LTU points out, some people will hate it whether it's good or not. It's one of those things that you jut have to be aware of, I

think.

As Chaos has noted, it'd be nice to have more description of Phyra since she's apparnetly only half-human.

I didn't really have a problem with the lack of the name in the prologue--again, I'm assuming that it was just a product of your cinematic narrator (can I just use that term?

It's easier than fly-on-the-wall-narrator or omniscient-narrator-who-doesn't-actually-seem-to-know-people's-thoughts); that is, we're not given a POV, and thus not given a

person who would know his name. There's no reason you can't give us Kyrie's name earlier in chapter one, though.

I did assume that Kyrie was the girl from the prologue, yes.

That's not a very graceful end to this critique. But I've run out of things to say, so oh well. :P Hope that helps.

Valkynphyre

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Re: Reading Excuses - June 28 - Valkynphyre - Gold, Steel, and Fire.
« Reply #11 on: August 05, 2010, 07:12:23 PM »
After stewing it over, I've decided to remove the first prologue. It's outdated, flawed, and unnecessary, since I intend to explain what happens there throughout the novel. Now I just have to figure out what to do for the next chapter. I know how I want the ending to go, but getting there will take some planning.
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