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Evil Agent
June 2nd, 2007, 12:08 AM
Hi all!

I've been on this forum for years, but this is the first time I've posted a short story. I've written on and off, for fun, for most of my life. Last year I finally finished a novel (or novella), but it was pretty much unpublishable (full of inside jokes, and starring my friends and I!).

This is the first of three stories that I will be writing, for a class I'm taking right now (on teaching Language Arts in High School). If anyone feels inclined to check it out, I'd appreciate any feedback. Thanks!

"The Reaver" (http://sffworld.com/community/story/2462p0.html)


James Carmack
June 2nd, 2007, 11:10 AM
You're in luck, Evil. Your story was the shortest, so I'm going to knock out yours before I handle the postings by J and Woad.

You've got a good story. Nice irony in the end. Poetic justice is ever so sweet. ^_^ I usually don't recommend switching perspective in such a short piece, but you manage to execute it well enough.

A thorough workshopping wouldn't hurt to polish up some rough spots, but at it's core, you've got a good little piece here.

I only have two quibbles for you, both from Page 1.

Rather than call Gotha "son of Gorm", you'd do better to use the standard Norse patronymic and call him "Gotha Gormsson" (two s's for Norwegian style or one for Danish style). Besides being more authentic and in line with the sagas and such, "son of Gorm" is an appositive and needs to be set off by commas, which looks awkward. The patronymic is much easier.

Next, you need to capitalize "mama". Familial titles have the same weight as proper names unless they're preceded by a possessive noun or pronoun. (i.e. Dad vs. my dad)

And there you have it. Now, let's doff our hats for poor Gotha, who died as he had lived. He made children cry and widows weep. He was feared throughout the land. Coulrophobia affects many people, after all. He didn't have oversized shoes or a seltzer bottle, but he was a clown among clowns. Requiesat in pace, scurra scurrae.

Evil Agent
June 2nd, 2007, 12:36 PM
Thanks for taking the time to read it, and to respond! I really appreciate it. And thanks for the good advice. :)

June 2nd, 2007, 10:00 PM
as though ready to spring off the edge and into the sea - I like it! :D

From the title on in you have some of my favorite sounding words in there.

A slow grin spread across his gaunt, bearded face. All was good. Today was his. - FUN!

letting his thoughts wander. - His thoughts don't seem to be wandering to me...he seems very focused on killing

By the time I'm reading about his crew and his brothers, I want to know who he wants to kill. The first impression that I got was that he was alone and quite happy to kill anyone he encountered so the fact that he has people right behind him he he *hasn't* rushed off to kill...threw me off.

I'm not sure that if follows for his waking and crying in the night to be gone once he kills people in front of his brothers. Especially since he's already killed people and been hardened and such (so if the crying in the night was something he was going to overcome, it would make sense for him to already overcome it).

If I had that much anger toward my siblings I think I'd be directing it *at* them instead of wanting to show off to them.... any way to add in that he somehow admires them? Give him some reason to want their respect? -- This may just be a personal preference thing, *I* wouldn't want to prove myself to evil siblings...I'd want to come back and kick their ass ;) but I do have a friend who was tormented in high school and she's pretty determined to prove to those people that she's worthwhile. I don't think it's worthwhile to prove anything to worthless people who treat others so poorly but...that's just me I guess ;p

thinning in the fog. - thinning of the fog? Since it's the fog that thins rather than something in the fog that is thinning?

He didn't know what those last words meant - How does he not understand? Does he not understand killing? Does he not think she's capable of killing? Does he think she wouldn't have a reason to kill? That's one of those phrases that 'sounds cool, but what does it mean?'

They lived alone in the village, and if he had a papa, he never knew him. - if he had one? virgin birth? XD

That's why it was so important for him to go down to the beach every morning, to fetch water. - I'm not great with commas, but I don't think you need one there. At least, it makes me pause in reading very unnaturally.

He had already seen six summers; soon he would be a man, and would have to take care of mama himself. - the last few words make it sound like he's replacing someone. And with his concern over it, it sounds like he should be...like taking care of her is something important to do--but if it is that important, wouldn't there be someone taking care of her now? If not, why does he think she needs taking care of?

Then a crow fell out of the sky. - .....eh? o_o

I loooooooooove that we go from G's perspective of thinking of his childhood, to the child's perspective........ I was thinking the child was G until G came bearing down on him ;)

Writing notes as I read it-- the crow makes more sense now. You might want to mention in the first sentence about it that it is dead/lands in front of the boy/something or that the fall was sudden/unnatural/etc. I dunno, I found the wording confusing and wasn't sure if the crow was falling as in...just a weird way to word that he flew down to the ground or what was going on.

Why a village? I know G wants to kill people, but any reason for that village? Any reason he's happy enough to kill kids vs. going to kill the adults that would have money/land/posessions he might be after? Was it just the first one they found?

"I was once this child" - I expected that to come up, but was hoping there would be something a little more parallel. From what I understand of G's past, he didn't have an army come to the beach and one guy grab him... so why is he finding kinship with the boy? I like the 'grabbing the scruff' -- maybe it would help if one of his siblings had grabbed him in a similar way when he was young?

gnaw on your soul.... GNAW on your soul, VERY NICE.

I love that it ends in laughter.

"A true fool, to the end." - I would end on this sentence it's much more powerful. The rest isn't really telling us anything we don't already know--we know he's dying, we know he hears them laughing, etc.

I really enjoyed that ^_^ I like your writing style a lot and you have the ideas to make it worthwhile.

James Carmack
June 3rd, 2007, 04:39 AM
"Why a village?" Why not? When you go a-viking, any target of opportunity is fair game. A coastal village makes it all the easier. Not a good idea to go too far inland. Stay close to the beaches and riverbeds so you can move out right quick. No need to hang around longer than you need to.

True, monasteries are sweet little plums, but you can't score a Lindisfarne every time, now can you?

I tell ya, Zell, the Vikings were one of the foci of my history curriculum and this story feels pretty authentic. Just a half-step away from the sagas themselves if you ask me.

June 3rd, 2007, 05:37 AM
I enjoyed it.
Your prose was fluid for the most part and had a very readable quality that appealed to me even if I can't really define it.

My only specific criticism is that i think you could have increased the parallel between the boy and the warrior's own childhood. As it stands that line seems kinda out of place.

June 3rd, 2007, 11:41 AM
I was too busy taking my own story notes during history class to pay any attention to what was being taught........ ;) I just assume that if you're going to spend all the time/energy/risk of life in attacking something you have a reason besides just 'it's there.'

June 3rd, 2007, 01:36 PM
I just assume that if you're going to spend all the time/energy/risk of life in attacking something you have a reason besides just 'it's there.'

Yes and no. Some of the raids were just for loot, others were a mix of trade, loot and running a protection racket. Yep, it was pay up or we trash your villages/land etc.... They also came to stay, i.e settle, taking land by force, creating their own settlements, trading with/raiding the neighbours. Raiding did become a way of life and often the sole industry/income of some Norse villages.

Power to the J
June 3rd, 2007, 07:04 PM
Wow. This is really good. Almost everything that could have been discussed has been, so I'll just say good job and I hope to read more of your work.

James Carmack
June 3rd, 2007, 08:47 PM
As a Brit, Holbrooke should know. The Danelaw and whatnot. If I recall correctly, we have the Vikings to thank for the pronoun "they". If you like skirts, thank them for that, too. The word, that is.