View Full Version : Critique: Elven Strike!
March 8th, 2006, 03:27 PM
Until I'm totally sure about publishing rights, The Owl & The Eagle will remain in draft form for now (er, if anyone cares :p ). However, I was curious about a project I started a couple of years ago that I'm thinking about reviving as I continue to edit and put together my O&E project. The first chapter-- or maybe prolouge is a better word--is now up. Please feel free to critique it. I always appreciate the honest feedback and encouragement here at sffworld! :p
Edit: Hey, a link would help...
March 8th, 2006, 04:27 PM
I like the name.
Okay, i'm gonna start from square one. Please take this as constructive criticism. Its meant as nothing else.
"A storm is coming. Daimaru thought, worried about rain." You should either remove worried about the rain or find a different way to say it. Opening lines being as important as they are, it just doesn't sound right.
His weapon, is it a trident or what that confused me.
"Daimaru ran to position himself between the warehouse and the rebel, which caught the older man's attention. Daimaru flinched as the rebel's eyes fell on him. They were a blue so cold they should have been shooting ice picks at him."
"You'd better step aside, kid. Otherwise I'm gonna paint a red smile on that throat of yours with my knife." The man's voice carried with surprising ease over the clamor of battle.
This will not be an easy opponent, Daimaru thought warily."
If you'll permit me to try something:
"Daimaru ran to position himself between the warehouse and the rebel. He flinched as he saw the rebel's eyes fall on him. They were a blue so cold they should have been shooting ice picks at him."
"You'd better step aside, kid. Otherwise me and my knife are gonna paint a nice red smile on that throat of yours." The man's voice carried with surprising ease over the surrounding clamor.
This won't be easy, Daimaru thought."
I'm not suggesting these as changes before you ask, but after reading part of this work and looking over O&E. I think you've got great ability for a story. (or more as it seems:D ) The only thing is (and it was pointed out to me recently in my work) is you say too much. If you look at the difference between the two paragraphs of your work here, you'll see there's very little difference. I think its a good story but i find that your saying more than you need to.
I really like the idea of the men being missing from the watch towers, it has a spooky something to it. And i think it would be cool to see where it goes but the little things like i've mentioned keep putting me off the more i read. Its like having someone keep darting their hand infront of you face for just a few seconds during a film. Its nothing much but it continues to bother you. And like i said i think your proper story is in what you've written you just have to trim a weed or two so we can see the garden. If you know what i mean.
"The night sky was crystal clear, but something in the air had changed. It was the wind, he realized. It had grown more violent. <=> It had grown cold. He grimaced. The warehouse was the only real building in Dartra Fort," (why?) "which meant he and his men would either have to stand guard soaking wet, or crowd into the small timber structure behind him."
<=> means: switch these two sentences
Bold means: not really needed, we see that this is his POV
(why?) Means: why is what you've just said so? Why is it like that? Is the army neglegent, running low on money or was there a recent battle to wreck the other buildings.
God willing, what i've said will make sense, if it doesn't then let me know. I wanna come back later and check out your story again. But the little extra bits that you don't need, they're like when you've hammered a nail in fully and then you hit it again and it lives a hammer shaped circle around the nail. Then you go, whoops.
I really want to see how the story goes so please let me know what you're up to. I don't want you to get down about what i've said (hence the smiley title) you've made something quite interesting, just kill the weeds the're holding you back.
Though, feel free to ignore this, after all its your work.:)
March 10th, 2006, 10:46 AM
I like the essence of the story but...
the but is going to take two posts:
I’m going to leave the grammar alone as others do that kind of critique much better than I. I’ll just concentrate on structural elements.
Arylian/Armylian: In the summary is is Arylian empire; yet everywhere in the text it is Armylian. I supect it is a typo in the summary but these little inconsistencies can kill you.
Blight, Bound, Dark, Hark, Light, Stark – when you capitalize these terms in your nursery rhyme, you are building expectations that each of these has a meaning more significant than normal usage. This builds an expectation that in your story we are going to learn about some places are beings named Hark and Stark. Okay, you intended Light and Dark to be heavily symbolic and that may have led you capitalizing the other words. I recommend you reconsider the message you are sending.
Daimaru sounds Japanese, especially with the “u’ ending. Is the name of a department store in Japan but it sounds more like the name of a ship. That is neither here nor there with respect to your story except that it sets up reader expectations about the kind of society from which he comes.
Giga: In this day and age, giga carries a great deal of semantic baggage. I found it a bit jarring/distracting.
Dartra Fort: I can appreciate the rerversal of the usual sequence but I wonder about the familiarized contraction of simply referring to the place as Dartra. That causes a verisimilitude problem for me. If it’s a fort, then it’s always a fort, particularly to the military mind of a captain of the imperial army. This is compounded by the existence of an entire desert with the same name laying right next door. Someone saying “your contact in Dartra” is being very non-specific.
Evil One – now you are hinting at the religion of Armylian’s. No need to expand at this point but Daimaru’s future actions/motivations have just been constricted to fit into a societal pattern of right and wrong. He either fits in with that pattern or he must explain why he doesn’t. This may never happen in the story, but verisimilitude requires that he not refer to the Devil-in-Baggy-Pants or some such thing the next time he’s thinking of Hell and the proprietor thereof. And he must be able to account for thirteen levels in hell, especially since in the last line he is now there.
Mazenda – takes us back to Japan because fo the caves and because of the names occurrence in anime. Again, this is no big thing except for the implications about the kind of society we should expect.
Onyx, as a name, builds expectations of the character as well. A multi-layered agate leaves much room for interpretation and analogy/simile but, to my mind, carries an overriding stubbornness characteristic. Too soon to tell if that meshes with what you have in mid. Qui – Again, expectations of an Asian society
Steiner – Steiner? You have a German trooper in the midst of the Armylian army? How did that happen? It’s a verisimilitude thing, but against an Onyx and a Daimaru, a Steiner just jumps off the page.
Three-pronged javelin: I don’t know of any three-pronged javelins. Are you thinking of a trident? Golden three-pronged javelin? Is that gold colored, gold-plated, or real gold? If the latter, why? As a sectile metal, it isn’t going to hold up real in combat and a 6 ft spear is going weigh more than 50 lbs.
Armylian Belt: Seems like a black belt in the martial arts.
Line-by-line sort of:
It was the wind, he realized. It had grown more violent.
Violent seem hyperbole. Violent winds rip things apart, throw people down, send desert sands flying about dark enough to blind everyone around. Perhaps “ever more strong”?
The warehouse was the only real building in Dartra Fort, which meant he and his men would either have to stand guard soaking wet, or crowd into the small timber structure behind him.
Hard to picture. If there are no other ‘real’ building, there must be remnants, walls with partial roofing still attached as if they were lean-tos. OTOH, if this is the only structure standing, why are the walls and guard towers still standing.
Where is that bloody rider?
Why does he think it’s a rider? He was just told to expect a contact.
March 10th, 2006, 10:55 AM
Line crit continued:
The young captain sighed, wishing he could lie down. He and his men had been marching for two days straight along the First Road, and they needed rest. The conditions had not been hindering, but a forced march without stop had exhausted men and horses alike.
This indicates there is an urgency to the information the contact is going to deliver and that it is very valuable information indeed. Later on you talk about a supply train accompanying the troops; why can’t they take shelter under them. Why is the entire squadron on guard when some could be recovering from the march? And how is the contact, a lone rider, going to carry the treasure chest?
He and his mens' aesthetic garments and gilded weapons looked ridiculously out of place.
Ah, the weapons are not gold, they are gilded. Okay, that’s better.
Above the fort walls, Daimaru could see the tops of the evergreens of the Galian Forest in the distance. The trees rustled and swayed as the high winds attacked them, their dark shadows lurching eerily back and forth in time with the gusts.
The climate of cold-winter deserts is similar to but more extreme than that found in the adjacent steppes. Precipitation is even lower and more irregular than in the grasslands, into which these cold-winter deserts grade via transitional zones called semi-deserts. Not only is precipitation scanty, but moisture loss from evaporation and transpiration is great. Hard to picture an evergreen forest adjacent to a desert and definitely not close for Daimaru to be watching the trees.
"It must be those treacherous Giga Fighters!" Steiner cried, spinning on his heel and running to meet the rebels.
Yep, that’s what an infantryman would do; he’d take a guess at who was attacking them. They are not only rebels but they are treacherous rebels. Is there any other kind?
Daimaru ducked as an arrow whizzed by his ear, and glared in the direction it came from.
It’s mostly dark yet Daimaru sees the arrow coming at him in enough time to duck. Amazing!
The shield and javelin were more for decadence than battle, but without the shield it was an arrow through his chest, an unpleasant thought.
That is a marvelous typo, Meghan. I’m certain you meant decoration but the aptness of the term you used to the parade ground nature of their equipment is priceless.
This will not be an easy opponent, Daimaru thought warily.
How does one think ‘warily’?
The bandits must have seen them marching along the First Road with a chest in great fanfare, and decided to take it for themselves.
They had the treasure chest out in the open even though they had a supply chain? In great fanfare? They had bands playing and signs pointing. “Hey, all you rebels out there! We got treasure here! Come see!” This is not a very bright Captain.
Getting past the Imperial-controlled road was nothing short of miraculous, but if Onyx had the Evil One's luck, it would end here.
If the road is imperial controlled, where are the reinforcements when he needs them? Why can’t some of those guys controlling the road stand guard while his troops get some seleep?
His men were well trained, but the element of surprise was a heavy advantage for the outlaws, and they looked to outnumber his small squadron two to one.
Two-to-one odds against an exhausted troop. They can’t last more than ten minutes. Okay, maybe fifteen minutes.
Daimaru quickly returned his attention to his opponent, who was standing non-shalantly, as though waiting for Daimaru to move.
"Your men will not get out alive." he announced, fixing his opponent with a firm look.
Leadership 101: always threaten your enenmy.
"If you surrender now I might still grant you a swift end."
This is a continuation of Daimaru’s speech. Should not have that paragraph spacing.
The sight of it around the outlaw's waist made Daimaru sick.
He doesn’t have time to be sick. He can be disgusted and angry and stuff like that but heing sick is not an option.
He glared at the gang leader, and his voice shook with rage.
The rebels are a gang?
"You bastard! You dare flaunt that belt in front of me? I will not tolerate it!"
He does have a flair for the dramatic, doesn’t he?
"You have been warned, Onyx. If you do not surrender, I shall show you no mercy!"
He’s going to talk him to death; that’s the plan. If he warns him often enough, Onyx will just surrender.
Startled, Daimaru leapt back, the weight of his shield nearly toppling him over.
He’s got a massively heavy shield plus a 50 lb shield. Even on the parade ground, in any kind of decent weather, the poor bastard would succumb to that burden.
"Gods have mercy!" the younger man whispered.
More details of the Armylian religion: mutiltiple gods which usually means multiple demons but we’ve already learned there is an ‘evil one’ in charge.
He was the Captain of the 4th Western Regiment of the Armylian Empire.
Regiments outrank squadrons and squadrons outrank companies. Proper terminology would be “he was a captain,” not “the captain.” “The Captain indicates he commands the Regiment.
He would earn an Armylian belt for this! Daimaru sprang, ready to gouge his opponent through.
He already owns one. You said so up in the beginning.
Agony did not even begin to describe the feeling, but he had to move.
Isn’t it your job to describe what he feels so we can understand?
He took a step towards the outlaw and stopped.
Last thing you told us, he was lying on the ground, unable to move.
Somehow the captain's mind formed words, and he opened his mouth to speak. But first he wretched, and then wretched again, his muscles spazing with every heave.
Should be “spasmed” but then it is redundant as that's what wretching means.
Suddenly he was in hell.
I really like this line but on second thought, he’s been in hell since the air started burning around him. I recommend that you change to this to: “Suddenly, he realized he was in hell.”
March 10th, 2006, 03:22 PM
:p Thanks for the feedback. Both reviews were detailed. I'm not looking for kissy-kissy, I'm looking for honesty. That's why I love this board so much. People are very serious about helping each other out. I apologize for spelling errors and grammar issues. This was from quite awhile ago where I made a lot of mistakes like that (and still do). HOWEVER...
<<Evil One – now you are hinting at the religion of Armylian’s. No need to expand at this point but Daimaru’s future actions/motivations have just been constricted to fit into a societal pattern of right and wrong. He either fits in with that pattern or he must explain why he doesn’t. This may never happen in the story, but verisimilitude requires that he not refer to the Devil-in-Baggy-Pants or some such thing the next time he’s thinking of Hell and the proprietor thereof. And he must be able to account for thirteen levels in hell, especially since in the last line he is now there.>>
I don't get it. The Evil One is the empire's religion? Where did you come up with that?? I thought I made it clear Daimaru is AFRAID of goblins/dark elves/demons, etc. Daimaru's cursing about the 13 levels of hell is just that. It's like when we say "what the hell is that?" He's afraid of anything supernatural like magic. A demon also destroys him, and if Daimaru worshipped demons he would have probably used words like "master" or indicated they were on the same side. Even when Daimaru asks if he's the contact, he's simply trying to justify in his mind why this demon thing wants him (he doesn't because Onyx is the real target but that's not in the story yet). I think you just read too much in the Evil One statement.
<<He glared at the gang leader, and his voice shook with rage.
The rebels are a gang?>>
Yes. This isn't Star Wars. There's no rebel army. Just pockets of rebellion against an occupying force (think Rome). It could be more clear, I suppose, but that might lead too much information at once.
<<He would earn an Armylian belt for this! Daimaru sprang, ready to gouge his opponent through.
He already owns one. You said so up in the beginning.>>
No, I didn't. I said he thought he SHOULD have one.
<<Armylian Belt: Seems like a black belt in the martial arts.>>
Um, what martial arts belt is jewel-encrusted?
Don't think I'm being super catty, because I'm not. Most of what you said is not only true, but helpful. And yes, it's pretty obvious when I wrote it I didn't research it. Everything about army rank and my ever-changing spear/trident/javelin is true (and for me as a more mature writer, funny!) Still, I think you went into this story with certain expectations. Or, it could also be you just don't like my style of writing (grammar/spelling issues aside). That's something I can't do much about. Yet you took the time to read all seven pages, so I guess it can't be all bad. :o
GS: I liked your suggestions, actually. You and HE had the same complaints, which is less confusing for me. There's all sorts of errors in the story, but instead of going back and re-doing the whole thing, I just wanted to know what people thought. And now I do. Well, sort of.
March 10th, 2006, 08:52 PM
don't get down about it. You should keep going with the story.
March 11th, 2006, 12:28 AM
Thanks, Ghost. I'm not down about it at all. Both you and HE's posts were REALLY helpful, and made me see not only how far I've come as a writer, but also how far I need to go (I'd post more Owl & The Eagle on the board but I'm confused about publishing rights and rules right now and fear stepping wrong) Elven Strike is a much older story and I've lost some chapters, but it would be fun to start it again...
March 11th, 2006, 09:58 AM
Meg, HE tends to help you see that as he has said - the devil is in the details. He's had alot of experience in these realms so it tend to take what he says on board but still try to satisfy my own wants for my story.
If your going to try rewriting it, and its something i thing all writers should try for their work, you should try taking a slightly different angle on it. I was originally trying to make something a kin to an adventure story in the way of the older stories: eg. 3 musketeers, treasure island, count of monte cristo and take the take that terry brooks took with shannara and try to make it a world of hair raising escapes. I soon realised that how i was doing it wasn't working and that my story had to have more detail and be slightly darker. I also saw how important originally minor characters like aminee and davin were and their feelings became an influence.
In short i rewrote a fairly big piece of work and ended up with a feel that i thought was faster and more realistic. I ended up sticking with the new approach.
Looking at your characters in a different light or from someone else POV can give your story a boost that you'll see and say: 'i like that.'
Have a go for fun and see where it takes you.
March 11th, 2006, 01:31 PM
Hey Meghan. Btw, thanks the crit of my story.
In your first paragraph, the second sentence could be a great hook. When I first read it, it lead me to believe that there was something about his experience that could lead him to know that the weather was going to change, even though there were no detectable signs. And no need to justify it. (Also, stay away from clichés like ‘crystal clear’)
The night sky was completely clear, but something imperceptible had changed. Daimaru felt the slight breeze on his face and looked up into the starry sky. He knew a storm was coming, a big one.
He looked at the shed behind him... sucks to be him in that situation.. blah blah... (good start of an internal conflict in him.. is honor-bound to stand his post, but REALLY doesn't want to be there, doesn't think he should be.)
But I hope that illustrates the general idea. Keep it up! You have some good stuff here.
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