Author Topic: Reading Excuses, January 10, RiaRaen, the magic Wielders Chapter 1  (Read 2322 times)

LongTimeUnderdog

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No topic was up, so I put one up.

You're new, so I'm going to try to go easier on you.  No, I'm only joking.

The actual writing and word choice is good.  Don't change the voice of your piece.  Don't change your characters.  They're all fine.  But the good stuff pretty much ends thhere.

Right off from the start you're counting off cliche's.  You've got wizards (I'll admit I'm bias against wizards and I think it's for very good reasons), you've got dwarven ale, you've got goblins, and you've got a crew that sounds an aweful lot like a D&D adventuring party.  You even have yoru armored fighter complaining about not getting enough to drink.  All of those by themselves are forgivable . . . individually . . . but together it can all be a real turn off.  Now I happen to really like the books Orcs and Dwarves, so the inclusion of such things isn't always bad.  It doesn't mean you have to start over, but it does mean you're going to have to work really really really hard to make this book stand out and convince me its worth my time to read.  Adding a space alien or whatever was a good start at that.  I hate to put it this way but for some reason it doesn't sound cliche to others (just me) but you do alot of "telling."  I feel like I should wash my mouth out for saying that.  Or wash my fingers since I'm typing it.

By telling, I'm refering to some of the introductory paragraphs where you're introducing the characters.  The good thing you did was the a word joke.  Lines like "In the early days, Merin had tried developing shields to protect their camp . . ."  You could just as easily have the people in the camp discussing the lack of shields and the problems they caused.  Bran could whine about not getting enough sleep.  That could be funny.  And it gives us more character to work with.  Instead, you just kind of mention it, and move on.

I'm not sure if you're trying to do an omnicient point of view or not.  It seems like we're seeign ran's PoV but when you get to Anno, we've switched.  If this has all been through her eyes, then I suggest giving us more of her right from the start.

And then you really had to go and ruin the space alien by saying she's from "Earth."  I'm really not a fan of Conneticut Yankees in any form, so I will admit to being horribly bias against the earth thing, with dwarves and wizards.  Putting it in the space alien context is cool.  That's interesting.  That's what's keeping my reading.  The way earth is talked about is nice too, making it actually sound alien instead of Earthy.

The phrase, "as you know," needs to go.  It made me taste bile.

Not done reading, I'll finish soon.

akoebel

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Re: Reading Excuses, January 10, RiaRaen, the magic Wielders Chapter 1
« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2011, 11:15:16 PM »
I'd like to begin by stating that this was a nice piece of writing, with very descriptive passages.

Now, some things that I feel could be improved:

* you might want to tune down the number of adverbs : you have over 160 adverbs for 7.5k words, that's way too much (I found a paragraph where 1 word in 20 was an adverb!). While you're at it, you can also remove some adjectives (they are more "telling" than "showing").

* "the rising sun peeked nervously" made me laugh, because we all know that "the wind blew carelessly and freely" : if you're trying to put an emotion behind the sun, it has to mean something.

* "light years" : actually, the concept of light traveling at a finite speed is a very advanced scientific concept. Beware using expressions like these if the person telling this is coming from a less advanced society (and I doubt that a human/elf hybrid comes from such a society). If the character actually knows what a light-year is, it might be fine, though I would still argue the expression shouldn't be there at all in this world.

* As LTU said, when you wrote "Earth", you made me a promise that I would have some sort of crossover between two worlds : if you're going to make good on that promise, fine; otherwise, beware!

* The action begins about halfway : 4k words is a long read without action, and little dialog. As said LTU, you could have gotten the same exposition from dialog, which would have shown character and would have been more lively than what we've got here.

* As I said once before, I'm not a fan of omniscient. In this case, I would ask you if you know who the protagonist is. If yes, please, put more emphasis on that character : it's difficult to get interested at once in three characters, you need to point the reader to the character who needs his attention at this point.

Anyway, fine piece of writing!

fireflyz

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Re: Reading Excuses, January 10, RiaRaen, the magic Wielders Chapter 1
« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2011, 03:43:51 AM »
I'll echo some things previously mentioned and add a few of my own.  I don't know your experience level, but the writing isn't bad.  There are some nice parts, but it's difficult to read because you don't indent around punctuation or the start of new paragraphs.  Yes there is a space, but I'd prefer indents as well.

The content doesn't bother me.  Yes wizards and wardens are somewhat tired in fantasy, but if done well I like it.  I'll be honest though, if I'm reading something new I want to be pulled in.  For a beginning there isn't a lot of that.  It's almost entirely exposition and in general, exposition is boring.  I'd rather have some snappy dialogue, perhaps some internal thoughts, some tension.  Maybe more tension with the warder being annoyed at having an extra charge.  It's mentioned, but equal weight is given to him cleaning his gear and preparing to keep watch.  Focus more on the emotions/intentions and less on the physical acts and I think you'll find the writing is better.

I've never been a fan of omniscient.  I think it's a tricky voice because there's few rules/structures and I think most writers early in thier career need that kind of structure. 

You need to work on passive voice.  Instead of was walking, used walked.  Instead of had been, it simply is cold.  PAssive voice drags the story down. 

I don't think this is bad, but I'm trying to give you what I think are the weak points.  Your writing needs work, but it's not unsalvageable.  The opening scene made me smile, but if you tweak it so that there's more tension and less exposition it will improve siginificatly in my opinion.
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halo6819

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Re: Reading Excuses, January 10, RiaRaen, the magic Wielders Chapter 1
« Reply #3 on: January 11, 2011, 05:35:26 AM »
im currently about about half way through right now. First i would like to say i like the char concepts and i think you do a good job describing them. The language you use is very, well pretty is the word that comes to mind, if a bit verbose, could defiantly use the 10% cut.

as others have said, the pov seems to switch every couple of paragraphs without much deliniation. if you are switching POV's on purpose seperate them like this
*
new POV.

if its not on purpose, then watch describing other peoples feelings while we are in Anno's POV.

also, Anno makes some refrences to things that i wonder how she knows about as she is a new comer to this planet (as we are!) how does she know about the bassilica of cerberus and who studies there and what they study, from the next few paragraphs we learn that she is a new arrival with little memories of the past.

in the paragraph that starts "shrieks  cut the air" you address the reader in a metaphor.

Over all i like the charactors and their quirks, but sometimes the over written descriptions and PoV errors pull me out.

Great first chapter KEEP IT COMING!


Those who give up a little bit of freedom for a little bit of security will lose both and deserve neither.

RiaRaen

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Re: Reading Excuses, January 10, RiaRaen, the magic Wielders Chapter 1
« Reply #4 on: January 11, 2011, 02:25:28 PM »
Hello  :)
Thank you so much for the feedback, its good to finally have some concrete critique that I can work to fix. This is the first thing I have ever written that isnt an essay for university so I am trying to fumble my way forward! Everyone mentioned the PoV so I will start there. I always wanted this to be an ensemble peice and knew that there would be many changes in Pov but that the main protagonist by chapter 3 would take the lead. There are alot of changes in PoV that I have only come to realise since you mentioned it but I think with it being the first chapter I didnt want to focus on one character as they are not going to be the protagonist. Do you think this is workable. Chapter three will all be from one Pov. Is this too long to wait?

Longtime underdog: Wizard isnt may favourite word, makes me think harry potter or terry goodkind. I had a long struggle with how to define the magic weilders whether they should be know as the fidereus which is there title or if I should offer familiar words. Within the Basisilica there are wizards, mages, sorcerers, enchanters, conjureres and warlocks. Each is different as people weild power in different ways and they are defined by how their power works and so given one of the above titles. Do you think this is a good idea? or too cliche and perhaps i should look to take a different approach?
As for the 'telling' thank you! I have been sitting knowing something isnt right but unable to understand what it was was or how to fix it. Now I can see that there is so much potential for good dialogue and I lose alot of the unnecessary trimmings.

Akoebel: WOW I knew I wasa bit of a crazy on adjectives but I hadnt realised the love I have for adverbs. That id definately something I will go back and address so, thank you :)
Light years is quite a common term in this world, Anno comes from earth as it stands now so she is also familiar with the term and it will be commony used throughout the story. I have toyed with the idea of coining a word to describe the distance when they cross to new worlds but as of yet it hasnt come to me. The world Anno is on now although primitive in many ways is by choice. They defied industrialisation in favour of magic and religion, and they are the central world upon the hand of the gods. which will all unfold later.  There will be some crossover too :)

Fireflyz: Indents, got it. I actually have no idea how I missed that since by default I normally indent paragraphs when writing Uni work. Again thank you for the feedback :) There is going to be a prologue which will hopefully be dramatic and pull the reader in quickly although at the moment it is being a pain in my back -side! Again I completely get what your saying and will be going back and bringing in some entertaining dialogue and more emotion.

Halo6819: Thank you for the * tip I will bring that into force although I will be going through to see if I can whittle down a little of the PoV switches. Anno has been with Bran and Merin for three weeks now and Merin is a talker. He has told her alot about this world and although she has little memory of earth at this point everything since her arrival here is crystal clear. But thank you for pointing that out as I think I can clarify it all with some dialogue which will work well with other changes I am going to make :)

Right I am off to do some re-working and tuning.  :P
xx

halo6819

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Re: Reading Excuses, January 10, RiaRaen, the magic Wielders Chapter 1
« Reply #5 on: January 11, 2011, 06:03:50 PM »
sounds like you are heading in the right direction. couple more points on POV. generaly you want to spend a good chunk of time in one POV to creat an attachment to the reader, at a minimum a half chapter. the only exception i have ever seen to this is in Towers of Midnight Brandon did a "Ping pong match" between two characters doing "quick cuts" back and forth between two PoV's to ratchet up tension. (at least that was his intent, didnt work for me personaly)

Im not sure what other series you have read, but most even with multiple PoV's (like wheel of time) start off with only one for a good chunk (half way mark for eye of the world, we get our first PoV change)

like i said, sounds like you are on the right track and cant wait to see more!
Those who give up a little bit of freedom for a little bit of security will lose both and deserve neither.

akoebel

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Re: Reading Excuses, January 10, RiaRaen, the magic Wielders Chapter 1
« Reply #6 on: January 11, 2011, 09:06:12 PM »
If your main character only takes the lead in chapter 3, I would suggest that you introduce chapters 1 and 2 as a prologue : that way, the reader doesn't feel compelled to find a protagonist right at the beginning.

For adverbs, they're a pet peeve of mine since I heard someone say that "the road to hell is paved with adverbs"; I've only recently convinced myself that it's OK to put in some.

Still a very nice piece, waiting for the next part!

Asmodemon

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Re: Reading Excuses, January 10, RiaRaen, the magic Wielders Chapter 1
« Reply #7 on: January 12, 2011, 06:09:22 PM »
I'm going to echo a lot of the sentiments that have been expressed already.

It's not a bad start, but there are aspects to your prose that make it harder to read than it should. For one it's all very purple and filled with adverbs. And the second thing is the passive voice. Both of these things bring the pace down and makes everything seem far less urgent. At the start of the story this means I won't be grabbed as fast and am more likely to put the book down.

Another issue is that there is too much tell, instead of show. The information you're trying to dump on me all at once to make me understand these characters and the setting is simply far too much I don't care about all that at this point. I don't want to sound harsh, but what happens is that in my head instead of the words on the page I just hear 'blah blah blah'. If it's a paragraph I usually get through the section and continue, but I'm getting it for most of the chapter, and that means I start skimming instead of reading and my mind starts to wander away from the story.

Story-wise the biggest thing I want to caution you about is the inclusion of an 'earthling' in a fantasy realm. The 'girl gets transported to a magical realm' plot has a lot of pitfalls. I usually caution against it because a writer really needs to step up their story-telling to make me believe it can transcend the trope.

In the case of your story and the way you tell it there are also a number of assumptions about your setting, right from the first page. The girl is 'an earthling no less', which tells us that the common guard has knowledge of humans and experience with them. At the very least he has cultural knowledge, so travel between earth and this world is not uncommon. She also shows a remarkable knowledge about the place she's at, which also tells us that this world is known on earth.

All of this can be achieved if she is simply from another country in that world and you don't need Earth. The fact that you do makes me assume that dimensional/world/whatever travel is going to be important to the story. If this is not what you are going for you can disappoint the reader.

What I did like is that, apparently, Earth is dying. This is also dangerous, because I'm now more interested in dying-Earth than the fantasy world the characters are in now.

I have to say that I'm only through a part of the first chapter. Because of the above issues I'm having a hard time reading through it. When I get through the whole thing I may have some more suggestions.

To answer a question you had, yes, I think waiting for chapter three to introduce the main POV is too late. The main character drives the story and is the one the reader should care about. That caring should start as soon as possible.

Something you said in your reactions to the critiques so far was very interesting to me. You say:

Quote
They defied industrialisation in favour of magic and religion,

How many people can do magic? Because it's fine if wizards forego on technology if their magic can get them everything they need, such as clothes and food. It's also fine for priests to lead a simpler life; the people can care for the god's mortal representatives, or perhaps the priests can also use divine magic.

But for all the other people who are not clergy or wizard, who have to make their own clothes, grow their own food, fashion their own weapons, this reasoning really doesn't apply. People will try to find better ways to do their work, so technology is going to happen. It's one thing to say they haven't advanced as far as we have yet, but to say they consciously stepped away from making their lives easier seems to run contrary to human nature to me.

RiaRaen

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Re: Reading Excuses, January 10, RiaRaen, the magic Wielders Chapter 1
« Reply #8 on: January 12, 2011, 10:55:38 PM »
One of the main plots for this story is travel between worlds. Alot will be explained in the prologue which should help clarify this idea. Annos knowledge of this world has come from Merin. The knowledge the people on this world have of earth is mainly second hand, there is alot of hate for earth on this world. I am using a cross between gaia theory and monothesism which sounds bizarre I know! The main idea is that the worlds are all connected by one primal living being, a being that breathes and exists in a godly but biological way. It is from this power that magic comes. The people of this world live a simple life because they respect that power and through magic and religion understand how industrialisation and over population can kill the power of the worlds, hence dying earth. But earth will play a large part in the story but not to intrusively as I want to keep the fantasy feel in the story. I will definately be going back to re-work how the story is told and hopefully make it more digestable :)
I think I will put more focus into finishing the prologue and then hopefully it will tie in well it setting up the theology of the story, thank you for you feedback :)
x

LongTimeUnderdog

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Re: Reading Excuses, January 10, RiaRaen, the magic Wielders Chapter 1
« Reply #9 on: January 13, 2011, 01:17:17 PM »
As a side, you may want to consider changing "Earth," to "Bob" (or some infinitely better name as Bob would conjure references to Titan A.E. and you might not want that).  By calling it Planet Bob (or whatever far better name you can come up with) you immediately lose the connection to "Earth," and it becomes infinitely easier to maintain the fantasy of story.

As to wizards, the name is irrelevant.  If it's a wizard, it's a wizard.  Calling it a mage, or a warlock, or a conjurer, or a wizard, doesn't change what it is.  If you're using mages/wizards, use mages/wizards.  No need to appease me.  I have to go to work, or I'd ramble on and on about the subject.  Anyway. . .

Asmodemon

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Re: Reading Excuses, January 10, RiaRaen, the magic Wielders Chapter 1
« Reply #10 on: January 13, 2011, 07:04:12 PM »
I agree with LTU on the Earth-thing, any other world would work better as a place where Anno came from.

When I take some of the things you've already told us about Anno I get the following. She's a damaged little girl, with an abusing drunk father and a missing mother. She has silver hair and violet eyes, who is apparently only part human, and she wants to learn how to use the Great Power. She also has better senses to connect with the land. And she came from Earth to a different world.

When I read such a description I immediately think Mary-Sue. Getting rid of Earth helps, but I also suggest cutting down on the specialness of Anno and invest a little more effort in Bran and Merin.

For those two I read typical goofball wizard and typical stone-faced warder. I'm getting Wheel of Time flashbacks of Aes Sedai and their Warders. Bran even has a sense of the Dark One's minions, I mean the shadow souled.

Anno also knows too much about the world. I think Merin is telling her way more than he should given the circumstances. For instance, he tells her all about shadow-souled, but up to this chapter they haven't seen one, so why tell her about this beforehand?

I will say though that I found the second chapter better than the first one, simply because we have less exposition concerning the past and world, and more of characters actually doing something. You're still using a lot more words than you actually need though and that still lessens the impact it could have.