Author Topic: June 27th - akoebel - The Fifth Compendium Chapter 6  (Read 2141 times)

akoebel

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June 27th - akoebel - The Fifth Compendium Chapter 6
« on: June 27, 2011, 06:49:24 AM »
Hi everyone,

After a month and a half hiatus, I'm back.

This is the sixth 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 6 : Ciera has an inventory to complete; Onmk comes to the rescue!

As always, comments will be greatly appreciated.

cjhuitt

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Re: June 27th - akoebel - The Fifth Compendium Chapter 6
« Reply #1 on: July 03, 2011, 05:11:30 PM »
As is traditional so far, I give warning that I've only read this chapter and not previous ones. Please bear with me, this might get long as I describe where I'm talking about things.

One of the main things I noticed when reading was about the sentence construction. For one, there are a lot of "was <verb>ing" and "were <verbing>" sentences. These can almost always be replaced with <verb>ed. For example, "Onmk's senses were still reeling" could be "Onmk's senses still reeled". (This may not be the best place to change, but it is an early example of what could be changed.) Changing these often makes the text quicker to read, both in a slightly more straightforward way to interpret the sentence and in the fact that it reduces the number of words to read.

This may be because I haven't read the previous chapters, but I was quite lost in Onmk and Ciera's relationship. Early references to Memories hint that I'm missing something. However, at various times he acts like he knows her completely (she always felt belittled by her short stature, these days she wore her hair..., she was always difficult, strong-arming her always worked well, a friend of fifteen years), and at others like he barely knows her at all (looks at her face "like for the first time", she tells him her age, he tries to manipulate her as if he has barely any idea what she's like, he doesn't appear to know about Ciera's adversarial relationship with Denalia).

Is this is third-person limited? There are a couple of places where, despite being in Onmk's viewpoint, we get information about what others are feeling (Ciera always felt belittled by her height, Ciera looked at him amazed, Denalia looks eighty years old but is stated to be sixty). They aren't major, but they did stand out to me.

Ciera's description included a twinkle of "malicious" light when she thought. First of all, this means she's mean when she thinks? Second, at the end of the chapter her eyes start to twinkle when Denalia is picking on her. Was this supposed to be her thinking evil thoughts about Denalia?

There are places where things are repeated or alluded to that seem redundant. Some examples are Ciera putting dangling wisps of hair back behind her ears "each time they got back before her eyes", Onmk telling Ciera she doesn't know these women when describing them to her, and a number of the dialog attributions. The dialog attributions are especially true when the dialog is in a paragraph that the speaker does some other action as well.

There are places where much is just stated generally instead of given in details. Examples are Onmk thinking Ciera is always difficult and needed to be argued into doing anything, Onmk not being able to tell her she couldn't read the Compendium pages yet (although that might have been done in earlier chapters), and "something" passing over Ciera's face when she talks about the lead documentalist.

I like that there's a time limit -- only a couple of days at most. However, right after that Onmk gives Ciera a hint to trying to read the book: that it's in a cipher. If she feels compelled to try and read the book, two days is no time at all to try to decode a cipher. Even if that was all you were doing. Right after this, Ciera decides to investigate it more tomorrow morning, so they're already losing up to one day there. It doesn't seem like the two day time limit is very pressing on him.

When Onmk is deciding he needs Ciera's trust, he doesn't want to contemplate the consequences of failure. The readers, however, do want to know what's at stake, or at least some potential downside. If you covered that in earlier chapters, great. Otherwise, here might be a good time for it.

A few of sentences didn't make sense to me. One was Onmk with the books, especially "Turning his gaze inside...". That part was the confusing portion of that sentence. The second was Denalia asking of Ciera "What did you do? Stamp them over to..." The third was near the end of the chapter, when Ciera says "Can you stop this, please?" I didn't have any idea what Onmk was supposed to be stopping. Especially since she goes on to talk about hitting Denalia.

Does Ciera's constant chatter cause Onmk to be depressed? At the beginning of the last section, despite her chatter, he felt confident. In that same paragraph, it seems like a very tenuous plan -- make Ciera happy so she's more amenable to his arguments -- but that may be just in line with Onmk's character.
Caleb

hubay

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Re: June 27th - akoebel - The Fifth Compendium Chapter 6
« Reply #2 on: July 04, 2011, 05:30:18 PM »
I seem to remember saying your second introduction of Omnk was kind of strange, because you'd mentioned him in the carriage bit. Seeing him as a POV chapter, I think the best solution would be to toss him in as a POV earlier. I don't know how that would quite work out, but I think it would make his appearance more natural, and since he's a pretty strange sort of creature for a character, it would make a very nice hook.

Anyways, I'm glad he's a POV. He makes a wonderful counterpoint to Ciera's meekness and social fears. He seems a little bit like a trickster, and some of his skills seem to compliment that. My first impressions are that he's a sort of poltergiest entity, but is focused for whatever reason on academia.

I'm not sure if the trick he did with books is something that's special to books if it it is, good job, but if you didn't you should reword the bit where he 'scans' the books, because it made it seem like his magic is book-related. I'm hoping the latter is the case, because you have an interesting sort of world already going on with the focus on the library and books.

I also enjoyed what you've teased out about the Hearts. Your man chapter (i'm sorry but I've forgotten his name because it's been so long) made it sound like they were mere scholarly cadres, but Omnk makes them sound a bit cultish and possibly secret.

Like I said, you should consider putting Omnk in sooner. If I had read all your chapters together, I don't think I would have been pulled into your story yet until this chapter.

akoebel

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Re: June 27th - akoebel - The Fifth Compendium Chapter 6
« Reply #3 on: July 05, 2011, 08:05:02 PM »
Thank you all for your comments.

Onmk is a very tricky character to write, so I'm walking a very fine line here. Maybe sometimes, I get it wrong.
Initially, I wrote him as really unreliable : he has things to hide that I didn't reveal until mid book. I understand it's a little untenable with a POV character, so I'm rewriting him to share more of his secrets. I still haven't told you all of them, hence the "consequences" part. If you feel I should reveal more, I'm open to suggestions.

@cjhuitt : In fact, the entity Onmk was extracted from Ciera's memories. He experienced all she experienced for the last 15 years, so he knows her really well. On the other hand, he has a mind of his own and doesn't understand all that she does or feel. For the POV problems you felt, some of them might stem from his intimate knowledge of her. In other instances, I may have slipped. I'll check them out.

I should have put mischief instead of malice. Sorry for the mix-up.

For Onmk's change of attitude, he doesn't have much of a choice. He has to back down or she'll never do what he asks. His mentioning of the cipher was a very dumb mistake on his part, he should have realized it would backfire on him.

@hubay : glad you liked him as a POV character. I tried to make him more understandable (there were no mentions of "Memories" in the previous draft).
Yes, he's a trickster, and as Asmodemon put it, he's in love with the sound of his voice :-)
Yes, the Covenant are an underground cult. Nice catch.

For your suggestion, I'll try to have a short viewpoint of him sooner. I might have to break my 1 chapter = 1 POV structure to do it, but it might work better. Thanks for mentioning it!
« Last Edit: July 06, 2011, 09:28:28 AM by akoebel »

cjhuitt

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Re: June 27th - akoebel - The Fifth Compendium Chapter 6
« Reply #4 on: July 06, 2011, 12:47:27 AM »
Initially, I wrote him as really unreliable : he has things to hide that I didn't reveal until mid book. I understand it's a little untenable with a POV character, so I'm rewriting him to share more of his secrets. I still haven't told you all of them, hence the "consequences" part. If you feel I should reveal more, I'm open to suggestions.

Personally, I usually don't like that. I gather others people in general find it off-putting also. However, if you need to have it, I have a couple of suggestions. One is to show the consequences that are most important to Onmk, which may not be the ones that hit hardest with the reader. For example, if something bad at work potentially causes 10,000 people to lose their jobs, and as a result mine is one of them... then sure, I'll be sad about the other people, but mostly upset about the consequence to me. The other option is to hang a lantern on it somehow, so it doesn't feel like it's just an authorial oversight or vagueness, which is how it reads to me now.

@cjhuitt : In fact, the entity Onmk was extracted from Ciera's memories. He experienced all she experienced for the last 15 years, so he knows her really well. On the other hand, he has a mind of his own and doesn't understand all that she does or feel. For the POV problems you felt, some of them might stem from his intimate knowledge of her. In other instances, I may have slipped. I'll check them out.
[...]
For Onmk's change of attitude, he doesn't have much of a choice. He has to back down or she'll never do what he asks.

Part of what read oddly to me was his behavior. He supposedly knows her so well, and yet he is completely unable to use that knowledge to get her to do what he wants. He could remind her of every time she did something other than return stuff that ended up badly. He could make emotional pleas, he could do whatever. Instead, he tries to argue her into it, with no indication that the arguing works well other than a passing reference to the Memories. She certainly doesn't act like arguing works well.

You might be able to improve this by emphasizing either how little he remembers, or how old it was, or something. Possibly more reinforcement of how flighty he -- oooh, shiny!

Ahem. Or, it might be better portrayed with the previous chapters, which again I have missed.

As a side-note, I felt like Ciera gave up her anger too quickly when showing it to someone else was mentioned.

His mentioning of the cipher was a very dumb mistake on his part, he should have realized it would backfire on him.

In general, I like mistakes, and if his nature makes him quickly changeable, then this fits right in.

@hubay...
For your suggestion, I'll try to have a short viewpoint of him sooner. I might have to break my 1 chapter = 1 POV structure to do it, but it might work better. Thanks for mentioning it!

My thoughts on this: Structure is nice, but don't let it get in the way of a good story. Also, this is a great time to put it in and see how it works. If you figure out it's needed, then you can figure out how to structure it. If it isn't needed, well, the problem rather solves itself.
Caleb

Will777r

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Re: June 27th - akoebel - The Fifth Compendium Chapter 6
« Reply #5 on: July 09, 2011, 06:42:43 AM »
This is the first chapter of your work that I've read Akoebel. Personally, I really liked it. I didn't see any problems with the PoV. I thought it was pretty obvious he was using the Memories at his disposal to decipher how she felt. Since you captialized that word, it stuck out as something I should think about when reading the story (even though I had no clue what they were per se).

I was totally confused at first by who or what Onmk was, but as the chapter went on I kind of got a vague idea of his identity. Having seen your explanation here, I wasn't too far off - So I thought you did an excellent job describing him through his internal dialogue and actions. I loved him personally. I liked the small hints of bad things to come and thought they added good tension to drive the chapter. Once I oriented myself to what was going on (hard to do coming in cold turkey at the 6th chapter, so not your fault), I read it smoothly.

A few sentences jolted me out of the story for a few seconds. CJ mentioned a few of those. There were also a lot of dialogue tags. I'm not a writing snob, but for some reason those grab me and make me aware I'm reading something rather than being inside the story. "He said", "She said" is usually good enough and invisible to the reader, so it isn't repetitive to the eyes.

Overall cool chapter. I would love to read the first five chapters to get better perspective.


Will777r

akoebel

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Re: June 27th - akoebel - The Fifth Compendium Chapter 6
« Reply #6 on: July 10, 2011, 04:55:14 PM »
Thanks for the comments Will777r, I'm glad you liked the chapter, even after coming in late.

I can send you the first six if you want.

@cjhuitt : Thanks for the reply. I think you're right. I'll try to reveal more from the POV characters in the next rewrite.

Will777r

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Re: June 27th - akoebel - The Fifth Compendium Chapter 6
« Reply #7 on: July 10, 2011, 08:39:19 PM »
Go ahead and email them to me :) I'd love to read them.

Will