Author Topic: March 14th - akoebel - The Fifth Compendium Chapter 1  (Read 2893 times)

akoebel

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March 14th - akoebel - The Fifth Compendium Chapter 1
« on: March 14, 2011, 10:40:15 PM »
Hi,

This is the first chapter from my first novel, The Fifth Compendium.

Last time on "The Fifth Compendium" : Destra, Mother of the fifth heart throws herself into the river to prevent men chasing her from taking away the book she's carrying.

Chapter 1 : Ciera, a librarian wants to get to work, but events conspire against her.

All comments will be appreciated.


MannyBrainpan

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Re: March 14th - akoebel - The Fifth Compendium Chapter 1
« Reply #1 on: March 16, 2011, 03:49:20 AM »
I have not read your previous chapter (I'm assuming its the prologue.) But it sounds like it was full of action and quite a neat way to start up the storyline. Chapter 1 was good and I want to find out what happened at the Library. I enjoyed the character, although, I would really like to see more description of this steampunk(?) sorta world. Due to the lack of description, I found my self lost in what was going on, particularly toward the beginning. Anyway, it was good, nice worldbuilding, and I REALLY want to know more about your character and why there are no men except for in your main character's head. I did find a LOT of redundancies and if you want I can email you an version with notes on these redundancies. Keep writing though, can't wait to see more.
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akoebel

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Re: March 14th - akoebel - The Fifth Compendium Chapter 1
« Reply #2 on: March 18, 2011, 10:48:21 AM »
Hi,

Thank you so much for reading and critiquing this chapter.
If you missed on the prologue, I can re-send it to you if you want.

Quote
I enjoyed the character, although,

It's nice to know, since she's not typically the type who attracts sympathy.
The last rewrite was almost entirely geared towards showing her as a very capable person the reader can relate to.

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Due to the lack of description, I found my self lost in what was going on, particularly toward the beginning.

I'll definitely have to try to add more description, even if I don't enjoy them that much as a reader :-)
The setting is not really steampunk : this is straight fantasy in a world where industrialization begins (sort of like Mistborn).

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why there are no men except for in your main character's head.

In fact, there are men around, though you do not see them in this scene (there were men on the prologue).
I'm thinking of putting groups of workers for the bus to pass around and show that men are there, but that none would
ever step into a bus.

Quote
I did find a LOT of redundancies and if you want I can email you an version with notes on these redundancies.

I suppose you're talking about word redundancies here rather than me saying the same thing twice?
I guess you're right.
If it's no bother, I'd like to have your annotated version : this should help me A LOT

Once again, thank you for critiquing, the remarks were quite useful.

MannyBrainpan

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Re: March 14th - akoebel - The Fifth Compendium Chapter 1
« Reply #3 on: March 19, 2011, 03:53:22 AM »
Alright, that clears some stuff up. I will send out the new file, it has my notes in red.
"It's a liger... it's pretty much my favorite animal." - Napoleon Dynamite

fireflyz

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Re: March 14th - akoebel - The Fifth Compendium Chapter 1
« Reply #4 on: March 19, 2011, 01:45:07 PM »
I liked this chapter.  I'm glad that you rewrote it to make the character very competent.  It's a good way to take a character that otherwise would be annoying and turn them into someone interesting.  I liked the way you played with her extreme shyness and her expertise.  I think that it was very relatable.  Not too much seemed to happen in this chapter.  I could easily forgive that because, as I said, the character was very competent.  However, you might want to consider having a different first chapter when/if you try to send this out.  Why?  Because for better or worse the industry wants the first few chapters to really pull the reader in, grab them by the seat of their pants, etc.  This chapter didn't really do that (I don't think it was intended to either, so that's fine).  I would like to see more of this world.  More description would help anchor the reader in.  For instance, type of buildings, is it cobble underneath her feet or dirt?  Is there smog?  Is it loud, quiet?  Etc.  I kind of chuckled at the last thought the character has, I'm guessing she's in for some more surprises.

Below are some things that stood out to me.


The first paragraph doesn't work for me.  It's good what you're trying to convey, but you're telling us everything and showing us nothing.  If you reworked it so that she was using the book in the way you described the reader would be able to understand the reasoning, draw inferences, and the writing would be much better.

I notice that you use a lot of commas and the sentences tend to be long.  One sentence on page two was 38 words long.  I think that you might want to consider shorter sentences instead of stringing them together.  It reads quicker and lessens the odds of confusing the reader.  Say around ten words or less per sentence with the occasional 15 word one thrown in.  Just a suggestion, take it or leave it.  :-)

Overall, the prose is better this time around.  There are some grammatical errors, but they are easily fixed.  I noticed that sometimes you'll say "did send" or "did manage", but "sent" and "managed" work better.Outside of those errors, I really wouldn't be able to tell that English isn't your first language, so well done.

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hubay

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Re: March 14th - akoebel - The Fifth Compendium Chapter 1
« Reply #5 on: March 19, 2011, 06:59:01 PM »
I agree with fireflyz: there are a few verb tenses that get awkward, and sometimes when you have longer sentences the transitions seem off, but that's nothing a quick line edit can't take care of. My only advice is to try and avoid repeating the same words or phrases too much.

Right now I'm mostly curious about the gender roles in your world. I'm wondering if it's just a matriarchy with a rigid class/caste structure, or if there are true differences between the sexes that make your world different.

This chapter seems to be focused on character and setting, and I think it handles the two well without getting too slow. I feel like the setting was mostly focused on the world itself, though, without much time given to the events that define it – political movements, groups reacting to change, that sort of thing. If your novel has nothing to do with any of this, then fine, but I'm sure your world has overarching problems, and it would be nice to see a hint or two here and there.

I can guess where the plot is going, assuming this library is the same as the one for the prologue. I'm looking forward to the next couple chapters.

akoebel

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Re: March 14th - akoebel - The Fifth Compendium Chapter 1
« Reply #6 on: March 20, 2011, 02:18:46 PM »
Thanks for the comments.

@Manny : Your annotations were very helpful, thank you. I'd like to share one of them here, since I think it's important.

Quote
You put this mental conversation in regular quotations. I would suggest italicizing the whole conversation and leaving the descriptions un-italicized. Like Eragon/Saphira in the Inheritance Cycle.)

This was a voluntary choice on my part for a few reasons (spoilers here):
1 - The conversation feels very real to the character. It may not been conveyed with sounds, but this is not Ciera talking to herself.
2 - This is a conversation between 2 viewpoint characters and those will have regular verbal conversations later on.

So, as I was introducing Onmk, I wanted him to feel real from the start, and I put his dialog as regular dialog. If anyone thinks this is not the right choice, I'm ready to hear your ideas on why.

@hubay : Yes, there are overarching currents in this world, but they have little impact on Ciera's story (though they were fundamental in forming her psychological mindset). You'll get to see more when I introduce another character who is heavily involved in those matters, but it is still Ciera's story, and those societal issues won't be resolved in this book (much to the dismay of some of my alpha readers who wanted more political intrigue).

@Fireflyz : Good point about this chapter not advancing the plot (though as Hubay said, you can see where I'm going). I mostly wanted to establish character here and maybe show a little more on the setting. I agree that it is a little slow-going and that maybe I'll have to re-think about having this chapter here at all. Thank you.

MannyBrainpan

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Re: March 14th - akoebel - The Fifth Compendium Chapter 1
« Reply #7 on: March 21, 2011, 04:24:49 PM »
This might be a bad idea, but if you could infuse this first chapter with some more interesting bits of info on this world's awesome engines and stuff, it might make this chapter more interesting, I might be wrong, though. Because, I know you don't want to enter info-dump mode, but when I first read the chapter I thought, that was a lot of pages for not a lot of info about the world...I don't know, maybe it it good, but that is my opinion.
About the mental conversation, I get why you did it, but when I first read it, I was suddenly like, "Wait! When did this character enter the scene?" But yeah, if I am the only one who thought this, then I am totally for the way you do the conversation.
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Asmodemon

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Re: March 14th - akoebel - The Fifth Compendium Chapter 1
« Reply #8 on: April 02, 2011, 02:01:53 PM »
I like this chapter more than I did the prologue, even though technically even less actually happens. Ciera, with her phobias, somehow earns my sympathies and I keep hoping she’ll do something to get past them.

There are still a lot more words here than you actually need, I think. Summary, Ciera goes to work. Do you really need 3300 words for that? Aside from showing us Ciera’s frightened disposition and her mental friend, this chapter doesn’t feel necessary at all. If you start in the library Ciera will be just as frightened and Onmk will still be in her head.

Now, while I find Ciera more relatable than Destra, both women can be defined with a singular description. Destra hated men, Ciera is afraid of people. They follow those baselines so rigidly it’s all they seem to be; Destra hates, Ciera fears. This makes them feel, to me, rather one dimensional.

What I noticed most is mostly technical in nature, and since you’ve said English isn’t your first language I’ll spent some extra time here. You have a lot of long sentences.  The first two together clock in at 87 words! You focus a lot of these sentences on Ciera being afraid, doing things because she’s afraid, a mention of work, then another thing about why she’s afraid. And the majority has you telling us this instead of showing it.

Some grammatical errors, I don’t usually mention specifics unless they’re consistently used wrong. For instance ‘loose’ instead ‘lose’. You also did that mistake in the prologue.

An odd construction of dialogue attributions is when you have “wanted to say Ciera”. Very Yoda, it is.

Still a lot of passive voice, “hands were clutching” instead of “hands clutched”.

When you have Ciera and Onmk (such an unfortunate name to have to pronounce) talking to each other you mention at the start that she’s replying mentally, rather than verbally, but the distinction becomes lost quickly. Especially when you have Ciera, the driver, and Onmk speak.

All throughout the chapter you use colons where you don’t need them, I counted a full nine occurrences. I’m hard-pressed to remember a book that had colons and/or needed them. A period followed by a new sentence is all you need, or if you must some dashes or semi-colon.

I think you could probably cut this chapter and present the reader with the salient points elsewhere. Remember, the first chapters are especially important to grab the reader’s attention. This doesn’t mean it should be full of action, but it does mean what happens is meaningful and draws us in to the characters. I can’t stress this enough, we need to feel for the character and get to know her. While I am a little sympathetic towards Ciera you don’t flesh her out much – she’s afraid, has a voice in her head, that’s it. For 3300 words, that’s not much at all.

Other than that, try to watch out for passive voice and using too many words. If you feel you have to explain something or clarify something, look again to see if you really need the explanation as much as you think you do. I think you’ll find that most often you don’t actually need it.

akoebel

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Re: March 14th - akoebel - The Fifth Compendium Chapter 1
« Reply #9 on: April 04, 2011, 06:23:41 AM »
Thanks for the comments.

That's why I can't write short stories : it takes me 3300 words to say "Ciera went to work" :)

For the colon thing, I'm afraid this is a bad habit I picked at work. In the later parts of the novel, I switched to dashes, but I'll be better off using periods, I think.

Onmk is pronounced with a silent "n". I don't know if that helps with the pronunciation or not.

Some of you have raised a very good point about whether this chapter really has a place here, since it's only character exposition. At first, I told myself that it was all right to have just one chapter like that, but I'm starting to doubt. My only problem by cutting off this chapter is that I'll have to rebalance the viewpoints and the timeline. New perspectives for rewriting...

Once again, thanks for the comments.


Once again, thank you for your comments.