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Power to the J
May 31st, 2007, 04:27 PM
The title gives it away. Kept only the name of where Toner's from and his name the same. Read on....

Chapter One: Nadroj (http://www.sffworld.com/community/story/2417p0.html)
Chapter Two: Inner Strength (http://www.sffworld.com/community/story/2550p0.html)

June 2nd, 2007, 07:21 PM
" It was going to be a very easy day.
Toner Selraw reached into a purse hung from the belt of a man who was obviously from a far away land and had far too much money for his own good. Less than a quarter-hour ago he had done almost exactly the same thing to a similar person, and the quarter-hour before that, and so-on. "

I would start with the "Toner Selraw" sentence, then put in the "easy day" sentence. The 2nd sentence is much more active and visual, it gives a point of reference for the "easy day."

I like the name Crystals ;) I spent a good 5~ years running a forum RPG called Crystal Fighters (VERY CHEESY :D ), fond memories.

"Lots of wealthy folk not used to the high-speed life of one in a city such as Nadroj were in the city which made for easy work—even in broad daylight." - Between the "of one" and the two "in a city"s, this sentence is convoluted.

Now he would just wait for another living opportunity to come his way. Or maybe his prey. - I like that.

'Leaning against an old brick building he looked up and down the busy street in front of him and scanned the crowd as inconspicuously as possible.
The streets of Nadroj were made entirely of a yellowish brick' - When I first read brick, I think 'red' and then get confused when I read 'yellowish brick'.... you could trade the adjectives-- put "yellow brick building" and then "made entirely of old (or ancient, or crumbling, etc) brick"

crowded by a bit more - but a bit more?

All of those buildings were also very busy, but there wasn't very much space; he would find no work by them. - He's working as a thief so I'm assuming that he's looking for more work by looking for people to steal from? Why wouldn't he find work in a crowded, squished in area? That makes it more likely for people to be bumping into each other and not noticing a thief in their midst.

Within five blinks, he found him. - I like that (and the quarter-hour thing too... giving me a sense of the common language for your world)

good o be true. - to be

The man was very dark but Toner could see an elaborate tattoo all over his bald head, face and any other exposed skin, all of which were shiny with sweat. - this feels like too many ideas in one sentence

pushed himself off of the building and into the crowd. He pushed past - I try and watch out for repetition-- "pushed/pushed"

I thought that once he noticed the guard, he would decide not to try and steal from the guy. Sounded a little too risky!

and being invisible - literally?

more painful as the beating - more painful than

Never—and I mean never—go after two people unless you have two people.-- I really like this line! And I think it's more powerful as it is, without the "three for three"... I think the impression that 3 for 3 would logically follow is there as it is.

get your _____? kicked in the process. - missing word!

The rich man dudged easily, - dudged? ;)

The new, baby-faced ____? looked - missing word!

I thought, Toner thought.- More repetition

He tried to be charismatic and say, Oh, I'm not that dreadful, but he only ended up spitting blood all over his shirt. - That made me giggle

" "You see," the Skoorbian shouted, "the worm tries to escape!"
"I am fully aware of the situation, thank you."
"Chop off my toes if you are!" That was a new and somewhat startling expression.
Toner could hardly believe his luck. A forgiving guard and a man getting himself in trouble for no reason, when he could get out of trouble if he could just keep his mouth shut. " - I enjoyed this exchange a lot.

"I though I told - thought

you have three moths." - moths? ;)

shoved ad kicked a - and

So much for an easy day. - Nice way to end it!

I'd like a little more detail about what the main character is thinking. There is a lot of thought at first, when he's stealing...but then his 'voice' falls into the background. I'd also like to get some more visuals to orient me in the scenes.

Power to the J
June 3rd, 2007, 03:44 PM
Anyone else???

James Carmack
June 3rd, 2007, 08:33 PM
Why not? I'll get to it later today. Spent too much time watching Zeta Gundam yesterday or I would've done it then. ^_^;

James Carmack
June 3rd, 2007, 10:44 PM
I'm going to try to avoid retreading what Zellie's already pointed out for you (unless we have a difference of opinion), but I'm not going to pay slavish attention to her post, so cut me some slack if I give the dead horse a few unneeded whacks.

You know, there's one thing I like about this place. I have yet to come across a story that's completely hopeless. No matter how green the writer is, there's always enough to make the stories worth fighting for. This is no different. You've got the makings of a good story here. However, you could use some serious workshopping. Zellie caught a fair number of the odds and ends, which is a start. Some spit and polish and you'll be on your way. Compared to some of the stuff I've read here, your burden isn't remarkably heavy. Take comfort in that.

As far as some recurring complaints go, your dialog tags are off in several places. I direct you to my guide (http://www.palidormedia.com/james/editor/lesson1.html).

Your caps are a bit wonky, too. One thing in particular: Why do you capitalize "servant"?

Now for the quibbles...

Page 1
Buck and a Quarter: I realize that we're compelled to speak in imprecise terms when our setting precedes the wristwatch (or the pocketwatch, for that matter), but I think "quarter-hour" falls outside the reasonable bounds of usage. Something a little more general might be a wiser choice. "A little before that" or something to that effect.

Evil Reversed: "Nadroj" is a little too facile an anagram, don't you think? Named in honor of Robert Jordan, yes? Why not mix up the letters a bit more? "Norjad", "Jandor", "Dajorn", etc. Make 'em work a bit.

It's European!: Does Toner have a public purse or something? If not, you don't need to say it's his personal purse.

"Now he would just wait for another living opportunity to come his way. Or maybe his prey." What does this mean? Do prey not live? And what exactly is a "living opportunity"? Do they put up more of a fight than dead ones? Do I need to bring my fisherman's billy to stun it while you get the net?

Urban Flower: A flower will have a hard time growing when you choke it with all the words to describe where it's supposed to be growing. Simplify. Just say something like "in the odd patch of dirt here and there" as opposed to "in the small patches of dirt in the space between the streets and the beginning of a shop, inn, house or even a resting shack".

Water Park: Water spewed from the fountain, eh? Well, there's a surprise. I was expecting champagne. Maybe the blood of Darnocian prisoners. (In case you're wondering, I'm saying that it's too obvious to point out.)

40 Winks: Much like the "quarter-hour" bit, I wonder about the reasonability of "five blinks" as a measure of time.

"by double" This is an awkward expression. God gave us an easier word: "twice". Rejoice in His beneficence and use it.

"[...]an elaborate tattoo all over his bald head, face and any other exposed skin, all of which were shiny with sweat." This is awkward as I'll get out. This can be streamlined.

Page 2
"being invisible" There's a noun for that, you know. "Invisibility". Rolls right off the tongue. If there's a noun form of the word you're wanting to use as a noun, you'd do well to use it instead of awkward compounds.

More Pain: Rather than saying "more painful", you want to say "as painful". "More painful" implies that some of Toner's prior experiences match up to the Skoorbian two-step he's enjoying. This doesn't seem to be the case.

Page 3
Dog in the Fight: So Toner is nearly unstoppable when he's "angry in a fight"... What about when he's calm in a fight? Drop the "in a fight" bit.

Patty-cake: How exactly is Toner trying to block Skoo's punch? You mention stopping it. Don't tell me he was dumb enough to attempt to catch Skoo's fist. Skoo would shatter every bone in Toner's hand and then proceed to smash in our hero's face. The aim of a proper block is to divert an attack and/or let a strong point absorb it. And where on Toner's jaw did it hit? Just glanced off the side of his chin? I hope it wasn't redirected downward, 'cause I don't think grazing his chin would bleed off enough of the momentum to keep the punch from crushing his windpipe. At any rate, agility is Toner's advantage in this fight. He should be using his footwork to dodge the frickin' punch, not try to take Skoo head-on. (I will grant you some leniency since he's supposed to be angry, but be mindful of the consequences of fightng stupid.)

Playin' Footsie: "[...]the Skoorbian stomped his foot on top of Toner's." You can just say Skoo stomped Toner's foot. No one's going to think he used his elbow or anything weird like that. Nor will they think Skoo stomped the underside of of Toner's foot either.

Page 4
Pride Goeth Before a Fall: How is Toner abandoning his pride by getting back up to keep on fighting? That's all pride, man. Throwing away pride would involve running away or groveling.

Mandatory Man: A "mandatory metal suit"? You're just being silly. While we're at it, "the optional helmet"?

Girl Talk: "whether he should talk of kill them both." Maybe that "of" is meant to be an "or". That or Skoo isn't the sort of conversationalist I want to invite to my next tea party.

He Who?: "He tried to be charismatic and say[...]" And who are we talking about? I know you mean Toner, but the last subject was Skoo. Watch your pronouns when the stage fills up.

Page 5
White and the Opposite of Black: "apparent and unhidden" says the same thing twice.

Run Away, Far Away: Unless Skoo managed to break his foot earlier, Toner's legs should be in fair condition. In spite of the pain he's in, what's to keep him from running away from a single guard. He's fast and "invisible", isn't he? Surely he could make a break for the alleyways, knock over stuff left and right to slow down Ret, weave in and out of run-down buildings, scamper up on the rooftops, slip into the sewers, etc. Unless his foot is broken and/or there are still too many good citizens out and about and/or he's in the upscale part of town that's well-maintained and offers few dank corners to hide in.

Page 6
"hundreds of Servant" Do you, perhaps, mean "hundreds of servants"?

Dome of the Rock: "Like the entire Palace, the ceiling was domed[...]" So the entire palace is domed, is it? And the ceiling, too. My, my, that's very impressive.

Page 8
"A noise came from his neck that would stay etched in Toner's mind until the day he died. Blood came from it, and the head of an arrow as well. The window's glass was all over him, and he staggered back." Whose neck? Toner's? Balston's? Blood came from what? His neck? The noise? And the head of an arrow came from whatever "it" was? Sprang out like Pallas Athena, you mean? Or maybe the head of the arrow went in? That might make a little more sense. Clearing up the rest of this... as Drill Sergeant would say, "cluster F" would go even further to make this make sense.

Those We Don't Speak Of: From Toner's perspective, Viktra didn't exist until just now. Don't you think that seeing these mythical beasts for the first time would warrant a little description? The Viktra are an original race of yours. The reader has no frame of reference. Toss us a bone here.

And that's it for now. Keep hammerin' away.

Power to the J
June 4th, 2007, 02:12 PM
Thanks alot to both of you and sorry for the hundreds of typos. I'm making the changes as we speak.

Anyone else?

June 17th, 2007, 05:24 AM
Sorry it took so long to get to this. I had finals, then my girlfriend wanted to go to the city, then it was my roommate’s birthday. You know how it is. anyway, here we go. sorry if any of what I say is in repetition.

As the usual disclaimer, everything I write is just my opinion. Feel free to throw out anything you don’t agree with. It’s your story, after all. Along the same line, some of what I say is critical. I’m not coming down on you, so please don’t take offense. I’m just going to tell you how I see it.

First off, spaces between the paragraphs would be nice. I know that’s not a huge thing, but it makes it way easier to read online.

>>>Lots of wealthy folk not used to the high-speed life of one in a city such as Nadroj were in the city which made for easy work—even in broad daylight.

Bulky. Try “Lots of wealthy folk, not used to the high-speed lifestyle of Nadroj, filled the streets; it made for easy work, even in broad daylight.”

>>>In the past week he had made more than some do in an entire year.

“Did”, not “do”.

You are using the word “was” too often, thus making for a lot of passive sentence structure (passive verbs, I suppose) that slows things down for example, the next two instances:

>>>“The voice belonged to a man who was dressed in extravagant furs despite the warm weather.”

This is a simple one. Just take out the “who was.”

>>>Standing next to the man was a guard of some kind.

A guard stood next to the man.

Generally speaking, all you have to do is change the order of the subject in and the verb--exchange them, really. You starting with the action, meaning you forced yourself to use was to link with the object. If you start with the subject, you can use the verb all on its own. Leads to more concise writing, that moves forward. There are more instances of this. Just go through the piece and look for “was” or “were”. You don’t have to change them all by any means, but change a lot.

Also, I like tattoos in fantasy stories. Glad to see that used.

>>>Toner screamed in agony and doubled over. The ghost of his mother was smirking at him.

The second sentence there is a good line. It will have more impact, though, if you make it a paragraph all of its own.

>>>Toner had been completely off his guard.

Really? I thought he would have been very much on his guard, since he knows the danger and is trying to rob someone.

>>>Nothing good can come from it kid and the chances are very good that you'll get your kicked in the process.

Commas around “kid”, and what exactly will get kicked? I’m assuming that’s just a missing word there.

>>>"And I'm going to make sure that you aren't going to ever forget it as long as you live."

Try changing it a bit, to "And I'm going to make sure you won’t forget it as long as you live."

>>>He hit the ground full force, slammed his skull against the ground and then skid a few feet.

A pretty nice fight shaping up here. But in the above, just don’t use the word “ground” twice so close together.

>>>The new, baby-faced looked down at his boots

Pretty sure the word “guard” is missing.

I don’t feel like the guard’s character (the first one on the scene) is very static. At times you say his voice is shaking and he’s afraid, but then he moves to draw his sword on the most fearsome warrior in the city. I’d pick one direction or the other, unless you want to have something happen to show why a scared guard decided to man up.

>>>who had slipped out of his fingers (literally) one too many times.

I like the use of the parenthesis there. Nice.

>>>He was still surmised that he was alive, let alone walking, so it was an improvement.

“Surprised”, probably, not “surmised”. On that note, there have been a few spelling errors. I’m not writing them all out, but you may want to print this out an go over it with a pen. I find that I catch a ton more mistakes that way than I do reading it on the screen.

>>>They closed with a bang just as quickly, and the six or seven guards looking at them at first winced when they looked at Toner's face and them they seemed to want to kick him in it when they saw who he was.”

This needs a bit of a change. Let’s see. Try “They closed with a bang just. The six or seven guards looking at them winced when they saw Toner's face--and then seemed to want to join in on the beating when they recognized him.”

Getting in as much trouble as he does, I’m surprised Toner hasn’t met Balston before.

>>>His heart beat quickened again, and he only looked at Balston. "Answer me."
Toner only nodded in response.

Again, don’t use the same word (only) twice so close together.

>>>Zlen looked ready to strike back but what held where he was by the two guards, although Toner didn't think that they'd be able to do much if Zlen really wanted to get to Balston.

“Was” instead of “what”. also, take out the word “that”.

>>>From the way you talked it sounds like he hit Zlen.

Balston hit Zlen? That is what I get from this, unless you meant “sounds like you hit Zlen.” Also, how does Puw know Zlen’s name?

>>>Everyone followed orders without a word and when Toner limped outside Balston was standing in front of the window, looking down.

I’d put a comma after “word”

>>>”You have three moths”

I’m sure he’d be happy to get off with just moths, but I bet you meant “months”. :P

>>>noise came from his neck that would stay etched in Toner's mind until the day he died.

I’d say “a choking noise” or “a gasping noise” or even “a gurgling noise”…anything to let the reader in on it. Makes it more powerful, more real.

All in all, a good setup for a story. Cities being stormed by invading creatures is always fun. I’m intrigued. I’m also a bit curious as to how Toner will get help for his injuries, with the city destroyed. But I guess the further chapters will tell. Anyway, a fun read. Needs some polishing, but it’s a good start. Hope my comments help some.

James Carmack
June 17th, 2007, 10:31 AM
>>>In the past week he had made more than some do in an entire year.

“Did”, not “do”.

No, "do" is right. The narrator is speaking generally. He wasn't saying Toner made more money this week that the average white collar worker did in 1993. While it's a common newbie error to have inconsistent tenses, there are occasions where you need to use a different tense than the rest of the narrative. This is one of those occasions.

I don't like stepping on other reviewers' toes, but I didn't want J to get the wrong idea here.

June 17th, 2007, 12:35 PM
I don't like stepping on other reviewers' toes, but I didn't want J to get the wrong idea here.

If you ever think of a way to step on *my* toes, by all means do so! It forces me to think, and I like that.

In that case, you haven't really stepped on the reviewer's toes so much as you've stepped into a hornets nest:

1. I agree with correcting the correction; it's not a mistake.

2. Had I written it, though, I would have said "did", like the reviewer suggested. This means I disagree with the need-to-use-a-different-tense part of your post.

It's all about character PoV vs. narrator's voice, and how tense ties into that. The narrative past tense has a few peculiarities that normal, day-to-day past tense doesn't (as context is more complex). I can go into detail if people are interested, but I don't think it's necessary.

Summary: Both "do" and "did" are possible. Choose what you think fits better in the story. :)

James Carmack
June 17th, 2007, 08:12 PM
A fair point, DS. I readily concede that both are valid, but as an editor, I like to preserve as much of the original as possible, which is why the blinders went up and I focused only on defending the original. This is a good reason to have more than one linguist in the house. ^_^

And I like to be challenged, too. As much as people insist that I think I know everything, nothing could be further from the truth. Like Socrates, the on thing I know is that I know nothing. I appreiate it when people are able to prove that to me. ^o^