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anthonystevens
November 18th, 2005, 04:44 AM
I just posted the prologue to a book I am working on, Chronicles of Oxanu - James Matthew Dexter by Anthony Stevens. I would love to know what you guys think. Critique away...

onions
November 18th, 2005, 06:23 AM
I'm lazy...give us a link, will ya?

Holbrook
November 18th, 2005, 06:53 AM
Think this is it;

http://www.sffworld.com/community/story/1071p0.html

onions
November 18th, 2005, 09:54 AM
I'm having a really difficult time critiquing this. There isn't anything wrong with it as such, nothing I could put my finger on. And I liked the story, once I'd finished it and understood what you were saying. I'm interested in what the twins are going to do with their legacy and what happened to the headhunter-type person. The prisoner scene where Jess is killed had me thinking "Tarantino"! and I enjoyed imagining it.

But at the same time I had a real problem with story. I'm going to try and describe what happened to me as a reader, and maybe it'll be helpful to you and maybe not.

For the first page, I had the feeling I was grappling with a story that was actively trying to elude me. Remember, I'm new to your world. I know nothing whatsoever about it and I'm trying to acclimatize.
Instead, I'm being continually frustrated by sentences that seem to tiptoe around issues instead of calling them by name.

Two examples:

First you talk about fear. Then about some weird holiday. Then about rumours. What rumours?
"The infamous Dexter brothers had incited the mob to literal war against the State and then disappeared into thin air; successfully avoiding the most brilliant minds the world was capable of producing and pushing ordinary men into the bounds of madness."
Huh? It's too complicated for little old me. Too many words obscuring the meaning and the emotion behind it. Was that the rumour or a fact? And why madness? How does an insurgency drive people mad? Or is that metaphorical?

See, every sentence you write throws up questions (what fear? what rumours?) but they are answered too late, if at all, and by then you've thrown up other questions. I had to read this page two times to understand it. If I had seen your book in a bookshop I wouldn't have bothered.

"Inside an abandoned warehouse deep in the Common huddled a group of men foreign in every way to the hollow despair of the sector, yet fear shone in their eyes with an intensity that clenched the heart with unrelenting fury. "
There's nothing wrong with the sentence, and yet like all the rest of this page it creates an enormous distance between the happening and the reader.
Normally, when I critique, I ask for more lyrical language. In your case, I get the feeling you're so in love with the language, that the meaning is obscured within all the padding. It would have had a far greater impact on me if I had read: "Inside an abandoned warehouse deep in the Common huddled a group of men. Fear shone in their eyes." Dadadum.
The "unrelenting fury" bit and the "despair" bit didn't add, they subtracted from the drama by making the sentence longer and more complicated.

As to the rest of the story: once it got to the dialogue and the action, it got easier to understand and the story was pretty intriguing. You tend, however, to jump from set piece to set piece, interrupting the flow of the story. It makes it jagged and disharmonious, because the reader has to orient himself anew with each ***. Which is okay if that's your style.

I don't know if other people reacted the same way, maybe it's just me. Please don't be discouraged. It was a great story, but I had to wrestle it to the ground first before I got to enjoy it!