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TJGuitarZ
July 30th, 2006, 10:46 AM
Hey everyone,

Not sure if it's awesome or not, but I'd like to get it critiqued.

http://www.sffworld.com/community/story/1754p0.html
http://www.sffworld.com/community/story/1755p0.html
http://www.sffworld.com/community/story/1757p0.html
http://www.sffworld.com/community/story/1758p0.html
http://www.sffworld.com/community/story/1761p0.html

Thinks are chapters 1-5 (in that order). I have 9 more chapters I could post, but I'd like some feedback before I do. Please be brutal and truthful.

Thanks a lot, TJ

World Builder
July 30th, 2006, 02:54 PM
I finished reading the first chapter. First, I really like the idea of the Venecontra, and I'm glad there's a reason it can't be placed on both sides of the armor. The fight scenes were cool, if a bit cluttered -- but that's a common ailment of fight scenes.

My major concerns with the first chapter are these:

1) there's a lot of info dumping. In the conversation between Rachael and Eryk, they mostly talk about the history of the world (as it would be useful for the reader). It's certainly natural that Eryk would ask about Rachael's activities which would percipitate the conversation, but it reads more like a history lecture than travelling conversation. This is, in my opinion, the biggest hiderance to the flow of the story -- in the first chapter at least.


2) Why "Mongols"? Seems like a low blow to name your Assassin's Society after a Real-World ethnicity. I would suggest giving them an original name.

3) The prose itself has some minor gramatical and spelling errors, here and there. "It's" when it should be "Its" for example. Or "lept" instead of "leapt." Easy things to fix. More importantly, there's redundancy in the prose that could be cleaned up. For example, many things happen "suddenly" in this chapter. In general I find "suddenly" and similiar words counterproductive. As a very simplisitic example, "he ran" is much more sudden to the reader than "Suddenly he ran." The reader has to take the time to read "suddenly" which slows down the action of the sentence, making it less sudden. On particular example of how this slows things down is this sentence "Suddenly, [the ibex] began running back into the forest. . ." Not only is 'Suddenly' slowly down the action, so is 'began.' Try something like "The ibex sprinted for the trees." Find words that capture the suddeness of the action. This goes for many adverbs and adjectives. If you can find a noun or verb that contains the meaning of the descriptor as well as the actions or actor, then use that one word instead of several.

4) While we're on the subject of word choice, there are a few in the first chapter that I found confusing. For example, this sentence (which also has some redundancy that can be cut): "The drumbeat of the horse's march slowly became audible, and they slowly came into sight." The emphasis on the slowness of the horses implied to me that their pace was slow. I didn't get the impression that Rachael was being chased by these men. Instead I saw these men as her bodyguards while she traveled through the Wastelands. I expected that Eryk's impressions of the men was incorrect and he have to suffer the consequence of his rash behavior.

Also the frequent reference to Adrenaline has be confused about the setting. It seems like a pre-Industrial world, perhaps even Medieval, which implies that the common folk at least would lack information about the bio-chemical processes in their own bodies. On the other hand, the Wastelands perhaps imply a post-apocalyptic setting in which Eryk's knowledge of Adrenaline would make more sense.

A minor issue -- the Ibex. Is the ibex that Eryk is hunting a magical beast? Rachael seems to imply that at least some ibexes have magical properties. How large is this animal if it can feed Eryk's entire village for a month? From what I know of Real-World ibexes, they're no bigger than a deer. However, they also don't have silver horns -- which, btw, are they really silver or are you speaking metaphorically? In fantasy stories, its often hard to tell.


I'll start reading Chapter 2 as soon as I can.

Happy Writing

TJGuitarZ
July 30th, 2006, 11:07 PM
World Builder, you completely blew me away. Those are the absolute best comments and criticisms I have ever heard. I thank you for helping me.

I liked the idea of the Venecontra as well. I have some good ideas for it later in the novel. I'll try to clean up the fight scenes a bit. Sometimes when I'm writing I see the action in my head but I don't write it properly.

1. I was kind of thinking the same thing about the 'info dumping,' but no one had said anything so I wasn't worried. Do you see it as an annoyance... like something I could clean up and make it more enjoyable? Or should I try to spread it throughout a few chapters?

2. I'm glad you knew what Mongols were. Maybe I will change the name. Mongols kind of sounds funny anyways. :-D

3. I know I have major spelling and grammatical problems… but what do you expect from a college student? :-P I'll try editing any future postings as to make them less (for the lack of a better word) stupid.

4. Good point. After reading that section again I completely agree with you. Consider it changed. I’ll look for things similar to that in future installments.

About the adrenaline, I had never thought of it that way. The book does have a sort of medieval setting. Guess I'll have to come up with a different way to describe the feeling.

I need to do some brainstorming about the Ibex. I want the creature Eryk is hunting to be magical, but I also want him to be surprised at hearing about other species. We’ll see what happens.

Thanks again for reading. Your comments have helped a TON so far. I look forward to reading your comments about chapter 2.

World Builder
July 31st, 2006, 04:22 PM
Just started Chapter 2. More on that when I finish.

For now, I just have a comment on the ibex issue. Have you considered using a Yale instead? If you're unfamiliar with the animal its a mythical creature, on par with the unicorn. Other names for it include centicore and eale. Descriptions of it vary (as most mythical animals do) but it's sometimes described as a horse-sized goat with a boar's head and long horns that pivot to face opponents.

TJGuitarZ
July 31st, 2006, 05:16 PM
I've never heard of it although it sounds intriguing. I'm going to stick with Ibex for now. You'll see why in (I think) chapter 10, maybe 11.

TJGuitarZ
August 2nd, 2006, 05:24 PM
I just updated chapters 1-4 in my blog with a few changes. I got rid of a lot of commas and fixed some grammer/spelling along the way. It flows a lot better now.

I also altered the "ibex issue" now so it should make more sense and sound better.

TJGuitarZ
August 7th, 2006, 05:57 PM
So... no replies? Come on people!

James Barclay
August 7th, 2006, 06:15 PM
A little patience, TJ :)

You're asking people to give up time to read your work. Good on WB for getting back to you so quickly but not all members work that fast. THread's only been live a week or so.

NOM

TJGuitarZ
August 7th, 2006, 09:48 PM
:o Patience has never been one of my things :o

James Barclay
August 8th, 2006, 05:34 AM
Well, you might need to develop some... publishers and agents are not known for their speedy responses to anything. :)

NOM