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kater
April 11th, 2005, 05:51 PM
Hi this was a piece that I wrote a few years ago that has haunted me a little in that I haven't been able to finish it. As a result I'm taking it back to formula and starting again from a fresh perspective, but what I would like if anyone would be so kind is to tell me what works and what doesn't for them, in this current incarnation. I apologise for the length :(

http://www.sffworld.com/community/story/217p0.html

butterfly
April 11th, 2005, 07:36 PM
This is the infamous piece? Cool! Well I will certainly read and get back to you, just give me a few days... :rolleyes:

Zanzibar
April 12th, 2005, 10:49 AM
Any chance of you e-mailing some of us lazier folk a copy, that we might then read the beast offline?

Hereford Eye
April 12th, 2005, 10:53 AM
You’ve got a hell of a beginning to what could be a great novel. The miraculous birth, the magic-laden upbringing, and the maturation of Kater as a soldier are great hooks. The fact he is not the general, not the commander, not the king, gives Kater the feel of Achilles kind of guy, the soldier in the midst of the s***tstorm. I like the look and feel of both Kater and his world.
But, man, you need an editor’s firm rein on this. Ignoring punctuation, because that is not my strong suit anyway, there are construction problems. Interestingly, you can go for paragraphs at a time without displaying this problem but then you will rack up paragraphs at a time driving the reader crazy with this stuff. To demonstrate what I’m talking about, let’s take a look at the opening paragraphs.


All around the creature attacked, ferociously biting and howling like a rabid animal free to torment a world which had tormented it for too long.
“All around”? Hard to frame a context for what you are driving at here. At least, until we get to the paragraph’s final sentence, it is difficult to understand your message.
A singular creature that is like a rabid animal? It’s not a person because it’s a creature. If it is not an animal, then what is it? If it is an animal then “like a rabid animal” is both redundant and confusing. In the same way, ‘ferociously’ and ‘rabid’ seem redundant.
I think what you mean to say is something on the order: “The creature attacked indiscriminately, biting and howling like a rabid animal suddenly free to torment this world that been tormenting it for so long.”

And now you change topics mid-paragraph – at least, it feels as if you do – from the symbolic creature to a weather report.

Concealed under a bleak, oppressive darkness that reached its smoky tendrils deep into every crevice, the wind ate at foliage and buildings like a famine ravaged child..
Darkness seems to me to be black but you have it with smoky tendrils. Is this a foggy darkness, like evening in the moors? Then I can understand the darkness that eats its way into every crevice but I’d want that extra description so I can picture what you mean.
If the wind is eating like a famine-ravaged child then there ought to be consequences. Should not foliage be shredded, buildings should shake and rattle, lose bits and pieces of roof and siding? Should not something be consumed?


If you listened closely maybe faint tones of a mocking laugh would pierce the beast’s shrill shrieking, but to listen would suggest belief of something darker than even the night herself.
At last, we can see that the “creature” of the first sentence was the wind. We know this because you now refer to it as the ‘beast.’ You’re making it hard to follow your metaphor.
I think Rocket Sheep would suffer great fits with changing to second person POV with the “if you” in the midst of a third person POV paragraph.
[I like very much “darker than the night herself.”]


Knowingly the darkness feared what was to come
Now we get confused again. Just as we decided it was the wind who was the ‘beast,’ you want us to look at the darkness as the beast. Was it the darkness shrieking?


and reflexively the moon shone it’s reflected brilliance down onto a shuttered, locked and barred hamlet
More redundancy with the ‘reflexively’ and ‘reflected;’ even more confusing as the latter half of a compound sentence indicating it is supposed to continue the thought of its preceding companion.
But, then, the shuttered, locked and barred hamlet does continue the fear theme.


where a lusty infant
This one is just me, okay? I know this is a perfectly valid use of the word, but lust and infant just jars. If the infant expelled a lusty breath, I’d feel better.


expelled his first breath, trumpeting annoyance at the release from his security in the womb.
A ‘lusty breath’ trumpets annoyance? If the breath arrived as part and parcel of a scream, this would make sense to me but as a ‘breath’ it’s hard to accept.
I’d also probably ascribe the womb to its mother as in “his security in his mother’s womb.”


Another, fainter echo of the previous wail quickly impaled the following silence,
Hard to imagine a ‘fainter echo” ‘impaling’ a silence.


as in tandem the two lusty new-borns continued to test their mighty lungs on an unexpecting world.
There’s those lusty new-borns again. <grin>
What is an “unexpecting world”? I do not grasp the idea you are intending with this description.


In respective reproach a shrill shrieking from outside extinguished the incessant ball as the candles shuttered out, revelling in an inky darkness that caused as much anxiety as inconvenience.
I do not grasp the import of your use of ‘respective.’ Are you intending the wind is responding to the infant’s cries; telling them to cease their bawling – and ‘ball’ should ‘bawl’, shouldn’t it? Really? Or just metaphorically? Is the wind a player in the story, a tool of someone in the story? Or is it just the sound effect of an unimpressed universe?
I believe ‘shrill’ is redundant to ‘shrieking’.
Who was reveling in the inky darkness, the twins or the wind?


But soon, all too soon, flames reflected off life and death, the bloodied babes heads lying silently in an embrace of life and also off the now unseeing eyes of the woman who was but for a brief few seconds their mother.
Recommend you either insert an “off” before “the blooded babes..” or remove the “and also.” Recommend, to maintain your style: “But soon, all too soon, flames reflected off life and death, off the bloodied babes heads lying silently in an embrace of life, off the now unseeing eyes of the woman who was but for a brief few seconds their mother.”


Tears of joy had little time to mingle with those of grief as thunder quietly echoed off the surrounding hills, curiously the sound rapidly gained intensity yet remained constant, when it soon merged with screams of terror the hamlet’s occupants had no time to hide from a very human storm.
You lose me here. Thunder has entered the picture joining the wind as fearsome beasts. I cannot imagine the villagers in terror of weather so something else is going on.
From the rest of the story, there is an abduction happening but the words do not portray that idea. “A very human storm” is suggestive but not quite enough so to be comprehensible. And tears of joy at the birth are mingled with grief at the mother’s death or at the abduction? Need more information, please.

Okay, that’s my take on the opening. As I said, this happens a lot but a good editor can help you get through this stuff before you submit it to KatG.

I think the work you’ve done is worth continuing.

Empty
April 12th, 2005, 12:18 PM
The story seems interesting enough but your sentence structures are very disjointed which makes this peice uncomfortable to read. Your prose lack a natural flow, which makes this peice quite uncomfortable to read. However, the content is interesting. Good luck.

kater
April 12th, 2005, 01:06 PM
Any chance of you e-mailing some of us lazier folk a copy, that we might then read the beast offline?

Sure - can I send it to the e-mail on your profile?

Empty - thanks, the piece was written a few years ago and I am going to blame my younger self for all the awkwardness :) When I rewrite it one of the first issues I want to address is the flow and sentence structure. Thanks for the input.

HE - what can I say, thank you :)


You’ve got a hell of a beginning to what could be a great novel. The miraculous birth, the magic-laden upbringing, and the maturation of Kater as a soldier are great hooks. The fact he is not the general, not the commander, not the king, gives Kater the feel of Achilles kind of guy, the soldier in the midst of the s***tstorm. I like the look and feel of both Kater and his world.

That's the point I always wanted to get across that generals and commanders don't get involved in the fighting, so when you read books about them charging into battle it just doesn't ring true to me. People in power are often boring because they are away from the events of importance, saving their collective sorry asses.

My writing has always been erratic - our collab stories should have proved that, and I have been debating for a long time whether to remove the prologue. I read a book by Orson Scott Card that suggested nothing good ever comes from a prologue and that your better off getting straight into the story, which was something I was going to attempt with the rewrite. Ignoring structure and punctuation for a minute :) I have a few questions about your impressions if you don't mind answering them -
- Were there too many fight scenes?
- Was Kater's characterisation enough for you?
- Did you get a feel for the world or is that something I need to expand?
- Do I need to change character pov, rather than using only Kater's?
- If you were to rewrite it, what would you save - either specific parts or just general stuff.

Once again I really appreciate everyone's input.

Hereford Eye
April 12th, 2005, 03:26 PM
Kater:
OSC has an awful lot of stuff that I think borders on brilliance but that is not enough to take his word on prologues. A quick glance through my library shows Tolkien had a prologue for LotR; Alfred Bester had a prologue for The Stars My Destination; and Elizabeth Moon used a prologue to open her Deed of Paksennarion trilogy. These books are all high on my personal all-time best reads. Besides, our mutual acquaintance dearly loves prologues and they work for her, too.
Fully expecting to be corrected by KatG and Rocket Sheep, my take is the prologue needs to say something important to the story. In this piece of yours it ties in perfectly with the last line of the piece. It therefore constitutes a good foreshadowing.
However, you need to make the fact of the abduction more clear than the last paragraph of prologue currently does.

- Were there too many fight scenes? Nope. Each contributed to his education with a specific lesson learned.
- Was Kater's characterisation enough for you? I think he'd have a little greater reaction to his friend's sister. Soldiers do tend to fantacize, you know. I'm pretty certain it's part of the job description.
- Did you get a feel for the world or is that something I need to expand?
I'm comfortable with what happened and why, understood the border wars, et al. You have the basis of the foreign trade thought out but you don't present it till the end. Pieces of that could be introduced as he fights champions from around the island as background to the Champion's home of record. That way, the poor general isn't required to do a data dump.
- Do I need to change character pov, rather than using only Kater's?
To this point, I was comfortable with Kater's POV. It's his story. I'm wondering if you have a similar character development planned for the twin?
- If you were to rewrite it, what would you save - either specific parts or just general stuff. All of it. I'd just re-write it to make it flow.

Hope that helps. Remember this is the Ancient One spouting opinions and my opinion should rank only slightly higher than OSC's. :rolleyes:

kater
April 12th, 2005, 04:53 PM
Kater:
OSC has an awful lot of stuff that I think borders on brilliance but that is not enough to take his word on prologues.
Fully expecting to be corrected by KatG and Rocket Sheep, my take is the prologue needs to say something important to the story. In this piece of yours it ties in perfectly with the last line of the piece. It therefore constitutes a good foreshadowing.
However, you need to make the fact of the abduction more clear than the last paragraph of prologue currently does.


Yeah I wasn't going to take his word just because I love his work but several of his reasons struck a cord with other responses I've had for the prologue. Basically very few people I've asked to read it have liked it, even if you put aside the poor writing and look solely at the content. I have a moderately specific plan for what was going to happen in the story but in the rewrite I intend to begin at a different point in time, so the prologue may not work with the new beginning.



- Was Kater's characterisation enough for you? I think he'd have a little greater reaction to his friend's sister. Soldiers do tend to fantacize, you know. I'm pretty certain it's part of the job description.


LOL should have seen that one coming.



- Did you get a feel for the world or is that something I need to expand?
Pieces of that could be introduced as he fights champions from around the island as background to the Champion's home of record. That way, the poor general isn't required to do a data dump.

It is a bit of an obvious dump isn't, with the new beginning point I'll hopefully be able to introduce it slowly rather than with a big sledgehammer.



- Do I need to change character pov, rather than using only Kater's?
To this point, I was comfortable with Kater's POV. It's his story. I'm wondering if you have a similar character development planned for the twin?

Good question. A little later on in the piece I was going to have Kater join with his brother and betray his friends and home of record, that would then allow me to write from both Kater and the combined Island's army(probably through a mixture of the four generals and the grizzled old Harduck)points of view. I'm still debating whether to start the story where Kater has already betrayed his friends and then filter in the events leading up to his betrayal whilst moving the story forward. I may end up writing two versions, one chronologically and the other from the mid-point. I'm just not sure which one will be more effective.



Hope that helps. Remember this is the Ancient One spouting opinions and my opinion should rank only slightly higher than OSC's. :rolleyes:

I will endeavour to remind him of just that :) Many, many thanks you've helped a lot :)

Zanzibar
April 15th, 2005, 11:44 AM
The prologue seems a bit out of place. It's very descriptive and seems like it's written in a different style because of it. It's also rather vague. I'd say you should keep it but elaborate, maybe make it more relatable to the story. Have the whole thing retold to Kater sometime later on, maybe by the midwife or someone else who was there to witness his and his brothers' birth. You might also want to make it longer. I don't have any problem with prologues in general but I do think they should serve as a strong intro to the story, which usually means they're longer than a couple of paragraphs.

The story itself is very interesting, I find, and will work well as a novel. I can definitely see the Achilles complex in Kater, which isn't a bad thing, and it's good that you made him less of an arrogant punk than Achilles is (maybe it's just thoughts of "Troy" spoiling my opinion of the guy :) ).

- Were there too many fight scenes?

Nope. While it's my personal belief that there cannot be such a thing as "too many fight scenes" none of them seemed extraneous or unnecessary. The reflecting he does about those fights he's been involved in (especially the two duels) justifies them. They also lend credence to his supposed invincibility, which makes more of it than a simple character trait. If you had simply said that he was unbeatable then never threw anyone up against him to challenge that, it would have been rather annoying; supermen don't just walk around. Mistakes made by Kater in the fighting are also good. It makes him a more "human" character, even if we are to believe that he can't be beaten.

- Was Kater's characterisation enough for you?

Sure, though I would say that at times it jumps back and forth between supreme confidence and dubitable naivety.


“I say your problem for one reason and one reason alone – the Silver Ghost.” Every set of eyes turned to face Kater who stood leaning against one of the dozen strong, wooden tent poles. As soon as Kater heard his ‘other’ name mentioned his heart had missed a beat. What could it possibly have to do with him.

The part about his heart missing a beat seems a little strange, given that he's so great a warrior. It just doesn't seem fitting with his character that he'd react to the news with such anxiety, especially considering he doesn't yet know how he's involved. Mostly it's fluid, and what you did with him regretting Ongar's death adds more depth to him. Now he's not just a killer.

- Did you get a feel for the world or is that something I need to expand?

I would say you need to either expand a little in terms of what these countries are like or take some of their names out of the story. You introduce quite a few different places on the island but without any info at all they're just names that are quickly forgotten. I got an impression of what some of the more important places, like Chian and Onsai, were like...


Although once this actually did happen. Kater still remembered aiding Latomb and Dorad in killing many Nentay warriors that had attacked the command tent.

...but, for instance, Nentay slipped right out of my mind. You might instead change "Nentay warriors" to "barbarians" or "raiders" or something similar, since they have very little influence on the main storyline (well, at least right now).

- Do I need to change character pov, rather than using only Kater's?

All depends on what you like. Personally I like jumping around between different characters but I have no problem sticking to just one. If you're planning on turning this into a long book with lots of wars and military excursions and such then you'll probably end up switching some. It just seems to happen like that. On the other hand, it could work very well if you're only interested in telling Kater's story. I think Hereford's on to something though. This "Kater twin" probably seems like a good person to follow around too, kind of like a "goodside, badside" deal.

- If you were to rewrite it, what would you save - either specific parts or just general stuff.

Again I agree with Hereford. Nothing you've written here needs to be cut out. It's all workable and relatable material. It'll need to be reviewed and refined as you continue to write the story but if you start chucking whole paragraphs out the window then you're only working against yourself and it will just take that much longer to finish.

Also, could you tell me what salther blades and Harbaks are?

Holbrook
April 15th, 2005, 11:50 AM
Am working on it I promise. I am doing a car boot sale most of tomorrow and intend to take the print out with me...... :eek: :D