Author Topic: May 23 - Will777r - Soul Yearning - Chapter 1  (Read 3630 times)

Will777r

  • Level 3
  • ***
  • Posts: 58
  • Fell Points: 0
    • View Profile
May 23 - Will777r - Soul Yearning - Chapter 1
« on: May 23, 2011, 08:54:54 PM »
Hello all :)
 
This is the opening chapter of my novel entitled Soul Yearning.
 
Albione is the main character. He is a young priest in the service of Alazon, the God of Valor. His city has been attacked by Night Elves the previous two evenings and they anticipate another assault tonight. As such, he is placed on the wall alongside one of the temple Knights, who he is sworn to protect. Because of the intensity of the attacks, tonight the temple soldiers are forced to unite with their rivals in the city (the Militia), against a common foe.
 
Please be honest and I hope you enjoy it :)

Will

hubay

  • Level 7
  • ****
  • Posts: 203
  • Fell Points: 0
    • View Profile
Re: May 23 - Will777r - Soul Yearning - Chapter 1
« Reply #1 on: May 23, 2011, 10:49:35 PM »
Well first off, welcome to reading excuses!

I think you've got a really good way to start the story, with the battle and all. You did a good job introducing the characters and magic, and I think the action is handled well. Your prose is smooth, though like everyone's here it could probably use some edits.

I'm a little curious about the physics involved in pushing back siege ladders. I'm no expert, but I feel like it's a lot harder to pull off than the movies make it look. To make it topple over, you'd have to push the ladder past the point where it's standing straight up, which is probably something like 5-7 feet away from the wall. I feel like you could push a ladder close to that point, but then it would just fall back against the wall. It's something to ask an engineering friend about, at least.

Really, my main issue is the Night Elves. This is only the first chapter, so it's hard for me to make any assumptions, but in general I'm not a big fan of elves. So a couple questions, mostly rhetorical: Are there other types of Elves in your world? If that's the case, it make sense to call them 'night' elves, as a way of differentiating them. If there aren't other types of elves, you should call them something else, in my opinion. It will make them sound more unique; people have read about 'night elves' before, so they'll have preconceptions and baggage associated with those words. How do the elves work/what makes them interesting and unique? Why are they attacking? I assume you'll answer the last one in the story, I'm just hoping they have solid reasons for war beyond just being Always Chaotic Evil.

What I'm trying to say is that I liked your chapter and it sounds pretty interesting. I'm just worried that your elves Ėand possibly your world Ė aren't very unique and differentiated from, say, warcraft. Again, I haven't seen much yet, so I'm looking forward to reading more and hoping you'll prove me wrong.

Will777r

  • Level 3
  • ***
  • Posts: 58
  • Fell Points: 0
    • View Profile
Re: May 23 - Will777r - Soul Yearning - Chapter 1
« Reply #2 on: May 24, 2011, 02:27:57 AM »
Thanks for the feedback Hubay!

One of the things I've struggled with since I started letting people read this is the fact that I started writing this over 10 years ago. There are night elves and light elves in the story world and at the time I conceived them, they were more unique. I actually named them night elves to avoid any association with other fantasy novels that employed a dark elf type of being.

However, when Warcraft 3 came out and introduced this race in their game that's all anyone thinks about when they first see them. They couldn't be further apart in my conception (although what I know about Warcraft night elves is only what I've heard from others). So, I'm giving serious consideration to changing the name of what they are to something no one would relate to. In my mind, they don't look like a traditional elf per se. More of a mixture between a human and the alien from the Predator movies heh. So, I'm not particularly attached to the name.

As far as what the Night Elf creatures are about, they have their own unqiue culture, religion, and motivations that come out a bit more later in the storyline. I originally had a prologue that gives the reason for the attack, but I've read that agents and publishing houses hate prologue's from non-pubbed authors, so I've set it aside for now.

Thanks again!

Will777r

hubay

  • Level 7
  • ****
  • Posts: 203
  • Fell Points: 0
    • View Profile
Re: May 23 - Will777r - Soul Yearning - Chapter 1
« Reply #3 on: May 24, 2011, 03:17:47 PM »
Alright, then. I would suggest  you come up with a new name at some point. I think you could come up with words that relate to night and day, or have night/day connotations, without having to say 'elf.' I don't have any suggestions myself, but maybe once we've all read a few more chapters and have a better sense of your world we'll be able to help you out.

MannyBrainpan

  • Level 3
  • ***
  • Posts: 50
  • Fell Points: 0
    • View Profile
    • Brain-pan
Re: May 23 - Will777r - Soul Yearning - Chapter 1
« Reply #4 on: May 25, 2011, 09:05:14 PM »
Welcome to Reading Excuses! I can only echo what has been said, this is a great opening. It got a little heavy on action, but you felt the battle, so it was good. I am interested to see where this is going for sure. Like you've already addressed, the Night Elf thing feels derivative but that is because of WoW.  Maybe start with the Latin word for night(=nox) and the Latin word for light (=lux), so you might want to start there for your name making process. Also, the name "Roran"  was used in the Inheritance Cycle, which is a more modern work of medieval fantasy fiction, so you might want to change that too. Anyway, great work and I'd love to see more.
"It's a liger... it's pretty much my favorite animal." - Napoleon Dynamite

akoebel

  • Level 5
  • *
  • Posts: 123
  • Fell Points: 0
    • View Profile
Re: May 23 - Will777r - Soul Yearning - Chapter 1
« Reply #5 on: May 25, 2011, 09:23:24 PM »
This was a very nice first chapter. I especially liked the way you handled action : everything that was happening felt very clear and connected well.

I only have two grievances :

First, the first two sentences don't connect at all with what follows. It felt more like a hook to me than anything else.

Second, the setting feels very derivative (It felt rather D&D universe than Warcraft, though). We get a paladin who is able to feel evil and heal by laying hands. We have dark elves with scimitars (I even kept expecting them to have white hair). Now, that might not be a problem depending on your audience. For me, it felt too much like something I have read a thousand times. If you want to widen your audience, you might want to change part of the setting so it feels a little different.

Once again, this was a very enjoyable introduction. I hope to read more from you soon.

Will777r

  • Level 3
  • ***
  • Posts: 58
  • Fell Points: 0
    • View Profile
Re: May 23 - Will777r - Soul Yearning - Chapter 1
« Reply #6 on: May 26, 2011, 01:40:10 AM »
Thanks for the welcome and the feedback!

I'm brainstorming some different names for the Night Elves. My three favorite so far are Nyx, Ashmura (although that sounds more like a city), and Nuks. All three mean night in other languages. My favorite of the three so far is Nyx. Which is funny because Manny mentioned Nox and Lux I think lol.

Akoebel - Albione is actually just a priest who sees himself more as a warrior. He's kind of wimpy in his magical ability. There are a small group of priest/knights (I guess kind of a Paladin equivlent), but they don't play a large role in the story. But, if Albione is coming off that way, I might need to do something to make it clear he's just a priest who likes the thrill of battle. This comes out much more clearly later on in the story, but I don't want people to close it up because he sounds too cliche. Also, I appreciate the comment on the opening two lines. I have REALLY struggled with putting a hook there that fits. I tried those two lines at the suggestion of James Scott Bell, but it usually polarizes those that read it. They either love it or hate it. I'm not particularly fond of it myself.

Manny - Is "Ronar" too close to "Roran"? I haven't read the Eragon series (had to look it up hehe), but I definitely don't want a reader to think of that character due to the names being too close. Although I do love the name. It was one of the first ones I wrote down over 10 years ago lol.

Thanks again for taking the time to read this!

Will777r

LongTimeUnderdog

  • Level 9
  • *
  • Posts: 304
  • Fell Points: 0
    • View Profile
Re: May 23 - Will777r - Soul Yearning - Chapter 1
« Reply #7 on: May 26, 2011, 02:12:52 PM »
As far as the feel of the story, I would go with Warhammer over anything else.  Yes, Night elves sound like Warcraft, but beyond that they're called elves in general which, is just bad.  That's been beat enough so I don't need to hit it further.

I mention this sounds like Warhammer because your description of Albione is pretty much the war priest cast of the empire, all the way down to his weapon (more on my issues with that later).  Big, armored guys, fighting against elves, it just as that Warhammer vibe to it, and if I picked that up, other people will as well because I don't even play Warhammer.  If you don't see the connection, I'll point it out further.

http://www.warhammeronline.com/armiesofWAR/empire/warriorpriest.php.

the Link there is to the War priest page of the Warhammer online game, based on the figurine game.  IF  you look at the art, you'll see exactly what you described to me.  There is no mention of a shield and Albione.  I can, therefore, assume without much complication, that the weapon is used with two hands.  That kind of weapon is actually called a "Maul."  A real warhammer was used with one hand, usually accompanied by a shield or sword or something.

I'm taking the time to point all this out because I want to point something else out:  Because there is so little setting and description, I as the reader have to make up things to fill in the blanks.  Because I know there's an armored dude with a hammer, I think Warhammer or D&D.  You've got "elves" with scimitars so I automatically think Drow or Warhammer Dark elves.  We only know we're in a castle that's being sieged so I'm already thinking bland generic English setting.  Yawn.  Seen it all, read it all, and since you're not Joe Abercrombie, none of this is going to interest me because he did it first, and better (well his final drafts anyway, can't say for his firsts).

And about these Night Elves . . .  Scimitars, really?

I'm guessing you really meant curved swords and so went with scimitar because you knew they were curved swords.  Truth is there are a lot of curved type swords.  And then this guy is flipping off a ladder (um . . .. really?) but most of his grace ends there.  These night elves strike me as feral mostly and curved swords are actually harder to use then straight swords and the strength/force to injury model used by curved blades is different and more complicated then straight edged weapons.  If you're fighting an armored target you're better off with a club then a sword most of the time (no joke).

Why do I think the Elves are feral?  Because they lack sophistication in their assault.  All they used were siege ladders (not bad by itself) but there wasn't much archer support for them.  There is no mention of their armor or what they're wearing.  WE have so little setting, it's actually annoying. Physically and mentally annoying.  It hurts, actually hurts, because we are given so little.

On to the actual fighting.

Here in the story you start to shine more.  Here your writing feels alot like Joe Abercrombie and that's not a bad thing.  I love Abercrombie's work.  Not for it's originality (of which there is little, to be honest) but for what he does with what he has.  His descriptions of fighting, they way he writes it, you both are similar in that regard and fighting is what Joe does best.  Unlike Joe, however, you don't seem to actually know what it is you're writing about.

A major turn off for me was how the fighting was done in the story.  The way the weapons were used, the way the siege went, the way people moved around the field . . . it all felt generic, like you'd watched some bad movies and went from there.  The armor felt more like a costume then actual armor.  Armor is just as much a weapon and shield as a weapon and shield.  If you want a great example of this, the times where Gorst is fighting in "The Heroes" (by Joe Abercrombie) is a perfect example.  Gorst is so good at fighting, killing people and deflecting blows and recovering from the unforeseen is so natural and easy for him, while Red Beck is so clumsy and cowardly.  Every fighter has their own character on the battlefield and Joe brings even the most minor of characters to life through the fighting.

Action is not just a big hook.  It is not "the fun part."  Particularly in fantasy where we have swordsmen often, action scenes should be a way of drawing character out.  At this you did okay.  While I could recognize bad action movie syndrome, I still found myself enjoying it because there was a level of intensity to it.  Seeing Albione beat people in the face or stomach was easy in your minimalist writing.  While I would have loved more setting, the action was good enough to keep me going.

About the healing.  Personally, I hate healing magic.  That makes me think D&D and the like right away.  It also removes some of the tension.  If the heroes can simply heal themselves, there is less impact when they take an injury.  I also hate wizards and the like in stories because, in part, their power is so undefined.  And that's another problem with this piece.  Albione's magic is so undefined once he starts healing, I start wondering what else he can do and why he isn't doing it.

MannyBrainpan

  • Level 3
  • ***
  • Posts: 50
  • Fell Points: 0
    • View Profile
    • Brain-pan
Re: May 23 - Will777r - Soul Yearning - Chapter 1
« Reply #8 on: May 26, 2011, 09:22:29 PM »
Sorry, was Ronar the name in your story? I must have misread it, I read it when I was really tired. Sorry.
"It's a liger... it's pretty much my favorite animal." - Napoleon Dynamite

Will777r

  • Level 3
  • ***
  • Posts: 58
  • Fell Points: 0
    • View Profile
Re: May 23 - Will777r - Soul Yearning - Chapter 1
« Reply #9 on: May 26, 2011, 09:51:31 PM »
It' s all good :) I just appreciate anyone that takes the time to read it!

Will777r

  • Level 3
  • ***
  • Posts: 58
  • Fell Points: 0
    • View Profile
Re: May 23 - Will777r - Soul Yearning - Chapter 1
« Reply #10 on: May 26, 2011, 10:55:50 PM »
LongTime - Thanks a ton for the candid feedback! I prefer brutal honesty to be honest. My goal is to make this the best story I possibly can and not simply hold on to my darlings. Some things aren't open to change because then it wouldn't be my story at all. But if I can make mine better....then I'm all for it.

Concerning the Warhammer references, I'm completely ignorant. I've heard of Warhammer, but don't know anything about it. The link you provided is definitely not the way Albione looks, so it looks like I need to do a better job describing him. I had a lot more description and character development in my first versions of this chapter, but a couple of freelance editors told me "action, action, action" at the beginning. So, I totally revamped it. The only references I have to Albione's "gear" now is a faded cloak and that he's wearing gloves. He's not armored much at all. He wears a light chain suit underneath his clothes, but that's about it. Most of the priests are kinda wimpy to be honest. Albione isn't a physical specimen, but he is skilled in warfare (something taught by his father). Does anyone have some suggestions of where I might work this in without slowing down the action too much?

The Night Elves are definitely feral, so I'm glad you took that from them. I didn't realize scimitar's and night elves were a problem. When I conceived them, I thought of the Arab guy in Robin Hood (the one with Kevin Costner - yes it's awful). He has this massive scimitar and has a dark feral quality to the way he fights. Yet, he's agile. But, that might not be working either hehe.

As to the battle scene, I probably need to do more research on weaponry and melee tactics. I've always been less into that as a reader, so I haven't delved into it too much as a writer. I've always had a large suspension of disbelief anytime I've read something with the label Fantasy. It's awesome to get feedback from those who don't read the same as I do as I want to reach as large an audience in this genre as I possibly can.

Thanks a ton again! I am really grateful for the awesome feedback.

Will777r

LongTimeUnderdog

  • Level 9
  • *
  • Posts: 304
  • Fell Points: 0
    • View Profile
Re: May 23 - Will777r - Soul Yearning - Chapter 1
« Reply #11 on: May 27, 2011, 01:12:58 AM »
A general rule of thumb.  Freelance "Editors," usually aren't worth the spit you should be throwing at them.  A book doesn't need a hook via action.  It needs a hook via emotion if you're using a hook at all.  You cna probably get a lot more milage out of Albione if he's doing priestly things like comforting and praying with soldiers who are coming to him in fear of the ensuing battle, then by moving right into the action.  And also action doesn't necessarily mean violence, it just means "make stuff happen."  With the above scenario, and I'm not trying to tell you how to write your book, the actions of Albione being a priest and having to deal with priestly things like:  I'm supposed to be supportive and I know telling them God is going to help us win today will make them fight better, and I know I'm supposed to tell these guys there's a place in heaven for them, but I know Joe over there beats his wife and Sam there cheats on his.  Both of them are running a racket on the other soldiers too.

That kind of thing creates tension because it puts the priest in an immediate conflict with his position.  Lie, essentially, to keep up moral and maybe have more people live, or tell the truth  and drop some of the moral and risk people dying.  to a normal person this might not seem too bad of a choice, but to a priest . . . I think you see where I'm going with that.  My point isn't to tell you what to write, but to give you something to give you ideas.  This kind of thing gives us a great look at the religion since our hero is a priest, and how it fits into the lives of the soldiers.  It tells us a lot about Albione and how he treats his faith and how he uses it.  Gives us character, conflict, and plot because of the coming fighting.  On top of that, it's more interesting and when the fighting starts we get to see how he reacts to the fighting, how he fights, and how his previous decisions play out.

Asmodemon

  • Level 6
  • *
  • Posts: 175
  • Fell Points: 0
    • View Profile
Re: May 23 - Will777r - Soul Yearning - Chapter 1
« Reply #12 on: June 08, 2011, 09:21:46 PM »
Iím with LTU on the Ďaction, action, actioní advice, it means that something should happen, be it violence or something else completely. The reader needs† to get attached to the book, through a character or situation, and you canít do that if nothing happens.

I also got the feeling of Warhammer when I read this chapter, more than I thought of D&D or Warcraft. The name Night Elves made me think Warcraft, their actions made me think Warhammer. And nothing screamed Warhammer so much as Albione, who I also pictured as a Sigmarite warrior priest with a really big warhammer. Now maybe thatís because Iíve been getting back into Warhammer recently, both with the miniatures and the novels, but since LTU also felt that way itís not just me.

This isnít naturally a bad thing, the Warhammer setting and its vibe is a good one, and if thatís what youíre going for, you are achieving it, but I do miss the thing that differentiates your setting from other dark fantasy settings. Beating on the comparison further, so far Iím seeing an order of Sigmarites, specifically warrior priests as LTU mentioned, and Dark Elves fighting on city walls. A name change would definitely help, since what Iím getting from the description doesnít sound like elves at all. But the name ďnight elvesĒ sticks stronger than the description, so after a few times Iím slowly seeing them more as traditional dark elves than what they actually are.

Iím also a bit weary when I read they wield scimitars. Drizzít wields scimitarsÖdark skinned elves with scimitars, you really donít want that association.

Aside from† these issues I found the rest of the chapter well written. You don't bore with infodumps and things are happening that show us Albione's character. The prose can be sharpened here and there, but whose doesnít? Now there are things that make me frown, but most has already been mentioned.

What I did find jarring is that Albione had to notify runners to warn the temple. Fireballs are spewing into the air, night elf screams sound outside the walls and on the walls, people are fighting and dying on the walls, and there is no one who sees this happening? The runners, who I assume take messages back and forth from the walls to other strategic locations, are nowhere near the walls so they can see things are going to hell? And really, runners? Worst case scenario by the time a runner reaches his target locations the night elves are just a step behind him. Itís such an inefficient system while something like light signals and sounds from horns travel either by the speed of light or the speed of sound.

It gives me the feeling the only reason itís there is that you as the writer need a reason for Albione to go from the walls to the temple, nothing more.

SkyhunterCommander

  • Level 3
  • ***
  • Posts: 56
  • Fell Points: 0
    • View Profile
Re: May 23 - Will777r - Soul Yearning - Chapter 1
« Reply #13 on: June 10, 2011, 05:52:28 PM »
I realize I am a bit late commenting on this, so I will attempt to to avoid restating what others have said., for the most part.

It was an enjoyable read, and I found myself interested in where the story is going. I will agree with what most everyone else has said about things feeling a bit derivative, though I personally have never been a Warhammer or D&D person, so only any Warcraft parallels stuck out to me. I also felt that the first two sentences felt out of place, and I wasn't sure what the point was, other than to provide a hook.

Another thing I noticed was that it felt like there was a bit too much being simply stated, particularly early on, with Albione's internal thoughts. It got a lot better after the fighting started, likely because he had something to do.

I really liked the second half of the chapter, as we see Albione's merciful actions had severe cosnequences.

The only other comment I have is that I really want to know some details about why Albione and the knights hate the militia so much. At this point, it's something that just is, and the distrust and hatred feels a bit forced at times. The way Albione and the knights feel about them makes me feel more like they hate a particular race, not a rival force. A few details about that rivalry and their history would make it feel more natural.
I will get around to giving feedback to my fellow Reading Excuses members. As soon as I can.