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May 8th, 2007, 08:30 PM
Hello all. I was hoping some of you could perhaps take a few minutes and give me a critique on this chapter that I posted. I have noone around me to read it so this site is my best shot at some unbiased opinions.

It is simply a chapter meant to introduce characters and get a bit of a feel on them. I am concerned about style and concerned I am wasting my time. In total, I have about 75,000 words done toward the book so threw this chapter up on the community.

Please be as honest as necessary, I would rather hear that I'm wasting my time then actually wasting it. Thanx for your time.


May 8th, 2007, 09:54 PM
Please don't take this as rude, as it's not my intent, but if you think that you are wasting your time writing, then you are. The reality is that writing, like most skills, is learned. If you have already written 75K words, then you are further along than 90% of the writers out there because you... uh... actually write. The question shouldn't be:

"am I wasting my time?"


"how can I improve the results of my time spent?"

Now, w/ all that said, I'll give you a few suggestions to your opening.

The Ale house was a bit on the noisy side which was not unusual. It was as always a mixed crowd of travelers staying at the Inn and the people who lived in or around the town of Victus. Delvin walked in and almost immediately spotted Tommy Pelford motioning at him from a small table to the side of the heavier part of the crowd.

My initial suggestion would be to use some words that give an image to the reader. What does it sound like? "A bit on the noisy side" is a weak description and doesn't give me a clearer view of where we are. Something like,

"Delvin opened the door to the Ale house (a name would be nice here). It was loud, not like in the 2nd row of a Metallica concert, more like the rafters. But this wasn't unusual. The Ale House always made Devin repeat himself when meeting someone here. He hated repeating himself. Why did he always come here? Probably because it was the only place travelers and the citizens of Victus mingled. Delvin liked mingling."

Now, my goal isn't to rewrite your thing, simply to take what you had and fluff it a bit more. I've (hopefully) made you know how loud it is. I've never seen Metallica in concert, but it is a name that immediately springs to mind the feeling of "loud". That's what you want to achieve. I set that the Ale House is normally this loud and that Devin comes here to meet people, and how he feels about that loudness. I finish w/ a bit of info to where we are and a brief touch on Delvin's personality. From that point, I would introduce Tommy and move on from there to the meat of the story.

Of course, that's not a perfect opening, but it's one that I threw out in a few moments. I think it's passable, but that's after a LOT of learning (and writing and REwriting) on my part. If you have 75K words, then once you finish, you'll have the beginnings of writing. Then, you'll have the work of taking the good, trimming the bad, and making the writing more powerful. And that only comes with work and effort.

I hope these suggestions help. Look for ways to describe that helps people "sense" or "feel" what you mean. Tell us how the character feels about the situation. That would be the first suggestions that spring to mind. From there, you'll just have to work and rework it!!!!

Peace Be still,

May 9th, 2007, 02:41 PM
Well, you asked for honesty and I'm about to give it to you.

Your writing seems a bit choppy to me. Writing, I believe, is meant to flow from the book into the mind of the reader. I've always likened it to music.
That may not be much of a critique; I'm running short on time here. But I suggest reading what you write aloud and actually listening to how it sounds.

Oh, and also, that didn't really "hook" me, as you'll need to do if you want people to read your book. Maybe you could make something really happen, not just a stagnant scene. Like music, it needs to be in motion.

I hope that made sence. Sometimes I don't. But anyway, keep at it:)

May 9th, 2007, 03:28 PM
I'll start with warfitz. First, I deeply thank you for taking the time to read it.

Now: It is incredible how something as "a bit noisy" could lead to such in depth thought. That is definately what I am lacking. That was a fantastic example and it immediately sprung to mind a hundred other places that I left stuff hanging like that.

Certainly, I intend to go back to everything when I am done. I doubt that it's possible to write a book and finish and call it done. I would really like for you to take a look at another scene. It is a scene that describes a full faction of the society that I created and it's internal workings. I have been dreading for quite some time how much editing it will probably need.

Thanks again. Now for twilitOne. I thank you as well for taking time to read it. Much appreciated. As far as it being choppy, I too, feel that. I need to learn how to make words more......rythmic. I am hoping that reading different authors will help me with that. And as for the scene "not grabbing you" I am not sure if it was intended too. It later on, culminates in the wager being settled. I was hoping for it to build an "anticipation" to that. Plus remember that was just one chapter and not the very beginning one either.

Thank you both so much. If you ever post anything, do let me know and I shall gladly return the favor of an opinion. :)

PS: Warfitz, make sure you see metallica I've seen them many many times and .......need more lol

James Carmack
May 10th, 2007, 10:43 PM
Okay, let's get down to business. You're starting slow, a tactic that has its time, place and precedent, but you need to brace yourself for criticism on that point. A lot of people these days want to grabbed by the ears from the get-go. A nice in medias res prologue might be the solution there (an easy way to temporarily sate the action hounds while you use the first couple chapters for setup). Personally, I don't mind it. It's fairly typical for a story to start at the humble beginnings of our callow youth.

I believe you've said that you're the type who has to punch through lest he lose steam. That makes me partly more lenient about what I see, but you should really give a piece a good once over before you submit it to the critical eye of your peers. Were you the one I diagnosed with punctuation anemia? If so, I need to give you a booster shot of about 50cc of commas. Short of doing a full workshop, I'll give you one tidbit for starters: direct address must always be set off by commas. "What's direct address?" you ask? That's when the speaker addresses someone else by name or title. Here are the three locational types of direct address:

Beginning: "Father, I never meant to kill you and marry Mom."

Middle: "Actually, Drill Sergeant, I'm both gay and a eunuch."

End: "I'm sorry about your robe, Your Honor."

Note the commas relative to the direct address (in bold). There's more punctuation woes, of course, but there's a starting point for you.

As far as the narrative itself goes, you're one of those types who overdoes the details. It's going to take a lot of practice, but you need to learn to pare out unnecessary details and keep only what you need to paint your picture. If I haven't given you this advice before, read your story out loud. If you have a hard time saying it, you most likely out to rewrite it.

The dialog is awkward in most places. You don't have to make all the charas sound like they came right off the block. Once again, read it aloud. If it doesn't sound like something a human would say (within reason, of course), get to tweaking. As Carrie Fisher once told George Lucas (paraphrasing on account of poor memory), "You may be able to write this stuff, but no one can actually say it." You want naturalistic dialog. (Note that I didn't say "natural dialog". That's a can of worms we don't want to get into.)

Now for a few minor points.

Rasclon: Who's Rasclon? Do we have to wait for him like Godot? Maybe he appears earlier in the full manuscript, but in this excerpt he gets mentioned by name without ever saying who he is. Yes, I imagine Dev and Tommy know who he is, but it'd be nice if the narrator would share with the rest of the class.

The Ale: Firstly, you've got a bad habit of capitalizing "ale". Maybe it is "the Ale", but I get the feeling that's not the case. Next, a cup of ale? A cup of ale!? Real men don't drink ale outta cups. You get your ale in stout iron tankards, mugs at the very least. And you drink it by the pint. Not even little girls order ale by the cup. No, sir, make it a pint for me. Two pints, one for each hand. ^_^ (Yes, I make this rant fully cognizant of the fact that I'm a teetotaler. We call it "irony".)

Battalion, Atten-shun!: On Page 3 you mention a "knight battalion". Neither knights nor most any other cavalry are arranged in battalions. (That's not to say there's no such thing as a cavalry battalion, but let's focus on knights for the moment.) A battalion-sized element would be known as a squadron. You see, the basic unit of the knight as a military unit is the lance. That'd be the individual knight and his entourage (squire and such), usually ranging from four to six people in all. You put about ten to twenty lances together and you get a banner, then ten to twenty banners together for a squadron. If you want to go higher, you can put five to ten squadrons together and make a battle. You can then arrange the battles in the standard formation of vanguard, rearguard, left wing, right wing, and center (main). To get to this last level, it'd take a lot of manpower and resources and I don't have any idea what the figures for Gildor are.

A Pile of Rubble: On Page 5 you confuse "rubble" for "rabble". They're quite different, you know, though I'd rather not get caught under either.


"He loved this horse more than any animal that had ever crossed his path and owning a farm, that is saying quite a bit."

That can be misinterpreted. *ahem*

Well, there you go. This story definitely has the potential to go places, but that entirely rests on your shoulders, Metalhead. Starting a story is one thing. Finishing it is quite something else and finishing it well is the true sign of a pro.

As for the initial question, you're only wasting your time if you think you're wasting your time. Unless you're trying to make a living off your writing and just don't have the chops for it, there's nothing that should prevent you from pursuing this calling. You're the only one who can hold you back. Remember that.

May 11th, 2007, 02:27 AM
I never thought that I could laugh so hard while being criticized. Truly golden James. I love the humor.

Okay, somewhere there was mention of the need of a prologue. Well, paint me brilliant, I have one and just didn't post it lol. I am not confident that my villian is done well so I didn't want to turn the few people that read it off immediately.

Rasclon is mentioned earlier. He is Delvin's father and introduced in Chapter
1. What I posted is Chapter 2.

Grammar is easily explained. I suck horribly. Thanks for the comma pointer though. I have roughly........3,000 places that I get to now fix on the direct addresses.

The whole Ale erm.....ale thing lol priceless. If you keep that style of humor in your teaching then I am sure your classes are not as dull as mine were. Point well taken about the "cup" issue.

Battalions. I thought that since in most fantasy, creating a world meant just that. "Creating" So, I tried "battalion" instead of the standard stuff. Guess I missed and I'll be glad to change that stuff upon finishing. It is about halfway done now, maybe a bit more than that. Thanks again and hope to talk to you soon.

James Carmack
May 11th, 2007, 11:12 AM
A wise man once said, "When you put a dude's balls in a vice, at least have the decency to wear a clown nose or something. A man in that position could use a chuckle."

Actually, no wise man said that, but if he did, I'm sure it'd be listed in a book of quotable quotes. ^_^

I try to be funny, amusing myself if no one else. Given that my current audience is a bunch of EFL students, they only seem amused by the fact that I think whatever I said is funny. I have to admit, I'd have a hard time not chuckling at some goober who's laughing at his own jokes. ^_^;
So we'd know who Rasclon is if we read Chapter 1. You realize for a reader to start in Chapter 2 is like being woken up buck naked and doused in ice water in the middle of a marathon, don't you? You feel awkward and disoriented, but at the same time, you're compelled to go with the flow and start running. You didn't even give us the chance to stretch our hamstrings. Shame on you.

As for the battalion bit, there's nothing wrong with striking out on your own. That's fine if and only if it's a conscious decision. If the claim is simply a cover for inadequate research, well, some people have a pretty sharp nose when it comes to a certain eight-letter word starting with "bull". Don't let them catch you on it. You're two best answers for know-it-alls are "Yes, I know that, but[...]" and "I didn't know that. Thanks for the info. Have a muffin."

May 11th, 2007, 01:04 PM
HEY NOW!! i don't bull**** my **** is more like..............mouse**** little bits never alot lol lol

No seriously, with the battalion thing, it was spur of the moment. I still remember when i was writing it, i was debating on the...."language" to use and I just threw battalion up on possibly the most ridiculous logic ever.

Allow me to share and laugh at me if you feel the need b/c i assure you, it is ridiculous.

Since your the only one whom has read a tiny bit about the knights, you have an idea that they are "justice finders" so to speak. They end "problems"

Well oddly enough, I had the word "brigade" stuck in my head. As we know a "fire brigade" puts out fires. Well I find that my knights figuratively do the same and felt that "battalion" is closer to the word "brigade"

Completely ridiculous, I agree but w/ no formal teaching in my life what so ever, sometime I rely on crazy logic to push me through :)

Now, I ask you, can someone bull**** logic that insane?????

Hhhmmm it seems you mentioned the earlier chapter..........well then I suppose, I must impose on you to now read the prologue as well as chapter 1 :eek:

May 11th, 2007, 01:17 PM
Thank you both so much. If you ever post anything, do let me know and I shall gladly return the favor of an opinion. :)

You're welcome, and I'll add you to my friends list and let you know if I post.:)

James Carmack
May 12th, 2007, 01:03 AM
That is indeed an impressive display of logic there, Metalhead.

Actually, what I was talking about earlier was people who don't know anything (or know very little) about a subject who, when confronted by someone better informed, claim their error was simply an act of creativity, pretending it didn't stem from their own ignorance. I mean, no one can expect to know everything about everything, even with extensive research, but I'm not fond of people who lie to cover their lack of knowledge. Of course, I don't consider you to be one such person. ^_^

As for the brigade bit... In traditional ground forces, a brigade is the element above a battalion. That'd be a little too large of a unit to send on what seemed to be a low-scale deployment. You generally don't start moving whole brigades until things've really heated up.

That reminds me. Are the Legion and the Knighthood one and the same or does the Legion include conventional forces? I ask because the most common usage of the word "knighthood" is for the status of being a knight, not the body of knights themselves. Admittedly, the latter usage is valid, but rare and likely to throw off most readers. If the Legion and the Knighthood are the same thing, I'd recommend consistently referring to it as "the Legion" instead to avoid confusion. From the excerpt you provided, 20K would actually be enough manpower for three Imperial Roman legions and if that 20K is restricted only to full-fledged knights, the actual numbers would be well over 100K if you stuck to historical doctrine assigned each knight to a lance with the typical number of support troops.

There's another thing. Are the knights in your story low-level nobility as in feudal Europe? Is knighthood tied to a fief or is it simply the label for the armored cavalry? Is there inheritance of the title? Is there a merit system by which commoners can earn knighthood? Is it one or both? These elements play a significant factor in the dynamics of knighthood in your story. As Devlin has his sights on the knighthood, it would appear that there's some measure of meritocracy at work (either that or he's simply hoping against hope). How is it?