Author Topic: May 9th - akoebel - The fifth Compendium, Chapter 5  (Read 2315 times)

akoebel

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May 9th - akoebel - The fifth Compendium, Chapter 5
« on: May 09, 2011, 06:49:35 AM »

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

Last time on "The Fifth Compendium" : Destra, throws herself into the river to prevent Lorn and his men from taking away the book she's carrying. Ciera, a librarian, discovers the book while doing inventory and finds an old friend in
the process. Lorn discovers that the book is still hidden in a library he can't enter

Chapter 5 : Ciera's sister Listeria deals with problems of her own.

Note : this is a chapter I just wrote in reaction to readers requests for more information about the setting. I also wanted to introduce this character earlier than in the first draft when she appears in act II.
I'm very interested about your thoughts on this chapter's placement or overall interest.

As always, comments will be greatly appreciated.

LongTimeUnderdog

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Re: May 9th - akoebel - The fifth Compendium, Chapter 5
« Reply #1 on: May 11, 2011, 09:34:29 PM »
Right off in the beginning you suffer from "plot exposition."  Now granted the conversation the two women are having is actually nice.  Right up until:

Quote
I can't believe that our sisters in those countries would let their men plan another

war against us. Not after the crushing defeats we inflicted upon them.”

“This was a long time ago, my lady,” commented Enora. “Some of your political

allies say that we are growing too complacent, and that the Erlitans are planning once more to

invade us and overthrow our Government.”

Not only are the lines just bad, they're about as "maid and butler" as you can get, without actually having a maid and butler.

Why are those lines bad?  Because they hand hold the audience too much.  You can cut part of the line, the "in other countries," and replace it with "there" or replace it with nothing at all, and it would actually sound better.  You then follow it with, "Not after the crushing defeat we inflicted upon them."  You could remove the line entirely or simplify it into "Not after the last embarrassing defeat," or just "Not after the last defeat."  The audience should be after to figure out just how bad things were for the other side with something like that, instead of being told it was a "crushing defeat."  I mean seriously, who actually talks like that?

Even worse however, is the second part of that conversational snip.  " . . . planning to once more invade us and overthrow our government."  As a reader, I can be pretty sure they're not making war because the other side took all the oreos (though it would be a pretty good reason  to go war if they did).  The lines are so "scene setting" and "background setting," that they all just feel mechanical.  It's exposition with quote marks around it.

Also words and phrases like "keep tabs," and "wimps," seem horribly out of place.  Plus they lack creativity.

The rest of the text suffers a bit from the above but it actually gets better when the pair start talking about the laws and usurping the misogynist men and begin nice to them and all that.  THAT is well done and quite interesting.

As the piece goes on the characters really come out.  And that's good.  The subtle indications of Listeria's manipulative methods are profound and humorous (to me at least).  I've heard complaints that matriarchal societies being over sexualized but I find that argument shallow and without contemplation.  It lacks a perspective on behaviors.  I think, though admittedly I'm about as Male as one can get, that you handled her treatment of men perfectly.  It showed much of her character and I, at least, found her interesting in that sort of Darth Vadar kind of way (only more feminine).  Now if you can fix your opening, you'll have something great here.


akoebel

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Re: May 9th - akoebel - The fifth Compendium, Chapter 5
« Reply #2 on: May 12, 2011, 01:07:16 PM »
Thanks for the comments LTU, they are very helpful.
I'm actually blushing about the maid/butler part. How could I not see that?

Listeria may not be my Darth Vader, but she is certainly my Palpatine.


Asmodemon

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Re: May 9th - akoebel - The fifth Compendium, Chapter 5
« Reply #3 on: May 19, 2011, 12:44:19 PM »
Introducing Listeria  earlier than the second act is a good thing. In general it’s usually not a good idea to introduce viewpoint characters (I’m assuming here that not only is Listeria a POV character, she’s also important, e.g. this isn’t the only chapter with her viewpoint) in later acts of the book.

You do a great job of cutting back on the word ‘had’, four instances compared to 42 the last chapter. It makes the story flow a lot better. Unfortunately I did notice a new word of the day here, the word being ‘those’. You’ve got those women, those puppets, those rumours, those countries, those voices, those three. I kept thinking, what women? Which countries? It feels like you want to flesh out the world without actually fleshing it out. I have no idea what ‘those’ actually refer to. It might look mysterious, but it feels annoying.

What you said in your submission, that you mainly wrote this chapter to flesh out the world, made me very alert for the start of an info-dump, and it happens pretty quick. LTU already pointed out the moment in the conversation.  After that it’s info dump disguised as a conversation, to a greater or lesser degree until the scene break. Since you’ve already seen this I won’t belabour the point.

The best part  for me comes after the scene break, a conversation between two interesting characters, rather than an exposition masquerading as one. Very good, I enjoyed it a lot.

One more small thing, your chapter heading says chapter four, instead of chapter five.

akoebel

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Re: May 9th - akoebel - The fifth Compendium, Chapter 5
« Reply #4 on: June 06, 2011, 09:02:15 PM »
Thanks for all the comments, Asmodemon.

Yes, Listeria is one of the 4 regular viewpoint characters. I always worried a little that I introduced her too late (she was first seen in early act 2 and her first viewpoint was a few chapters later), so that's why I decided to write her a new chapter here. The problem is that I wasn't sure this was the right place to do it. Apparently, nobody here objected, so mission accomplished.

For my "extra words" : I have established a list of dreaded words I have to cut out (have, had, was, that, it, *ly). I'll just add 'those' to the list. Thanks for pointing it out.