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World Builder
July 29th, 2006, 01:14 AM
I've posted two fantasy stories set in my main arena for such tales, the world of Annulus. The stories are roughly contempary though they occur in two different locations; and one does not relate to the other.

Darkness Shining ( http://www.sffworld.com/community/story/1765p0.html )



Immanence ( http://www.sffworld.com/community/story/1766p0.html )

This story is part of unfinished series of short stories. The collection has the following epigram:

And, strange to tell, among that Earthen Lot
Some could articulate, while others not:
And suddenly one more impatient cried --
"Who is the Potter, pray, and who the Pot?"
(the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam)

Thanks in advance for advice. It's much appreciated.

kater
July 31st, 2006, 08:45 AM
After all the help you offer WB seemed unfair you had no responses to your critique request, so here goes :)

Darkness Shining:

Once it started moving I enjoyed this, as a start it works well - you introduce the world in a brief, concise manner seen through the eyes of Hu'ele and through the test he must pass. The first three pages are slightly awkward and I've included more detailed reasons why I think below. The viewing of Any One's life was confusing to begin with, but after I realised what was happening and then the outcome I decided I like it, it works well and humanises the destructive half of the order, which could have been cliche'd. I also liked the parallel between kuila in the story and what Hu'ele may become, if I haven't read too much into that. I do think the character of the master is a little inconsistent and could be tightened up, but overall I think it's promising and intriguing start.

(Page 1)
Inhale/exhale, breathed in/breathed out - to show the repetition of the action it's better to keep the same word usage so that the reader understands it's purposefully done.

The discomfort Hu'ele suffers initially must have been around for some time if the chronology is right, so for Hu‘ele to suddenly shake it off/ignore it struck me as a little odd. If he'd been ignoring it for some time then that would make sense.

I don't understand what you mean by 'Leaning out of the swing'. Obviously the style of sword play depends on the sword and there is no indication on the first page of what a macana is beyond a curved blade, but if it is like a katana then the mastery of that type of blade involves the wrist movement used for striking. It's a subtle snapping of the wrist with the lower hand used like a lever to drive the blade down. It's an economical movement and far swifter than a swing. Also what was Hu'ele aiming at, it's not clear as the firefly drifted off, which seemed the only likely target.

Your use of 'he' seems a bit excessive and at times confusing. You introduce the master toward the end of page one then say 'He paused to admire a spiraling yew nearby.' But in the next paragraph, you still talk of the master yet 'he' is now Hu'ele:
"You perform well with such a crude weapon," the master said without looking up. He stopped himself from gasping at such an insult from a man he so admired, but he flinched just enough to make the wooden sheath sway at his side.' Again it just seems awkward where use of a name 'Hu'ele forcibly stopped himself from gasping at such an insult...' clears it easily and allows you to use 'he' definitively for the rest of the paragraph. This confusion also happens with the hand on the shoulder between pages 1+2.

(Page 2)
Hu‘ele followed and his bare feet slapped against the damp stones. Would read easier as 'Hu‘ele followed, his bare feet slapping against the damp stones.' Using 'and' just confuses the sentence.

usually cold and clear and deep, were red, shallow, and glazed - I don't think you need all the descriptors here.

His eyes were snaked with more and longer lines and glistening with moisture - awkward

Phrases I found odd:
(Page 1)
'eyes twitched to note its light' Is the character not able to blink?

'he drew in a long breath and let it slip back out of him twice as long' - I don't think there's anything grammatically wrong here it just reads awkwardly, is the duration of the breath important in this sentence or would something like ' and expelled it slowly' work?

'tepid hand' - is this a comment on the clammy/sweaty nature of his hand or do you mean something like palsied/decript/gnarled etc

(Page 3)
There was thunder before it, thunder after, and thunder during - chronologically shouldn't it be before, during and after? Seems a strange phrase.

World Builder
August 1st, 2006, 12:31 PM
Thanks for the critique Kater. I'll see what I can do to clean up the first few pages.

I'm glad you commented on the use of He -- its probably the result of having this story originally critiqued by a group of people who aren't predominantly SFF readers. I have no trouble reading names like "Hu'ele," but if you're not used to coming across unusually names in your reading, I can understand why it'd be awkward. So I tried to limit the number of times it appeared in the story as best I could.

As for the macana: originally it was a Katana. But that, coupled with Hu'ele's original Japanese name, made readers think it was an Asian fairy tale of sorts. The switch to macana was a very spur of the moment change, and some details need to be worked out. Macanas were swords made of sharpened wood by the Taino. Having done some more research since I wrote this, I've found that they come in a variety of styles -- most of which are not curved like Hu'ele's. Maybe Hu'ele's is unique, and he needs to design a unique style to accomodate it.

By "As a start" do you mean "as an early draft" or "as an early chapter"? Other people have commented that it seems to be part of something larger than itself, but I never intended it that way -- other than it being part of the larger world. Now that I think about it, "Immanence" also has been said to feel like it should be part of something bigger -- specifically someone in my workshop group said it felt like it was just a side chapter to a larger novel, a "Meanwhile in . . . " sort of diversion.

Is it the weight of the world outside the story that's giving this impression, or am I writing stories that could go further without noticing their potential?

Dazzlinkat
August 1st, 2006, 06:04 PM
Both stories were very good, although Darkness Shining had more technical flaws in it that kater has already pointed out. In Immanence, the only technical flaw was the 'night huron lighted on' sounds odd .. maybe 'lit upon' instead. Both stories drew me in enough to forget editing :)

Your stories do have more to them, if you wanted to go that route. There is nothing wrong with a short story leaving the reader pondering what ifs. To me, they feel like episodes about Faith In Annulus.

kater
August 1st, 2006, 07:20 PM
By "As a start" do you mean "as an early draft" or "as an early chapter"? Other people have commented that it seems to be part of something larger than itself, but I never intended it that way -- other than it being part of the larger world. Now that I think about it, "Immanence" also has been said to feel like it should be part of something bigger -- specifically someone in my workshop group said it felt like it was just a side chapter to a larger novel, a "Meanwhile in . . . " sort of diversion.

Is it the weight of the world outside the story that's giving this impression, or am I writing stories that could go further without noticing their potential?

In both senses, I assumed (probably because I don't write a lot of short fiction) that it was merely the start of a longer tale (it feels like a beginning if that makes sense), you have a world that offers a lot of potential and has been given that kind of weighting, almost a fourth character. But if it is intended as a short then yes it is a solid first draft but would need some sharpening. I will get to Immanence at some point this week and see how it relates to Darkness Shining.