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gh0ti
July 5th, 2007, 07:41 AM
Hey all, I've uploaded the first chapter-proper of my story as it stands at the moment. Now, it's rather longer than I wanted and a lot of the stuff there will have a pair of garden clippers taken to it. As ever, work in progress, point out the junk and try to smash it to bits.

Oh yeah, and hopefully enjoy!

http://www.sffworld.com/community/story/2517p0.html

PS. The prologue has been updated to try to accommodate your suggestions if you want to check it out.

James Carmack
July 6th, 2007, 07:40 AM
I'm going over the story as I can spare a moment. I don't think I'll be finishing it tonight and tomorrow I'll be busy playing with volcanoes, so you may not see my critique until Sunday. Maybe someone else will have a choice word for you to chew on until then.

James Carmack
July 10th, 2007, 02:18 AM
Well now, you've got a pretty good story here. I think I've said this before, but your prose is a bit on the fancy side. I think you'd profit from toning it down a bit. I don't mean lowering yourself to the "See Spot run" level, but in a lot of places it gets unwieldy and some streamlining would make the read much smoother.

Let's get on with the quibbles...

Page 1
I think "shady side" works better than "shaded half".

What equivalent time period is the story set? Bottled ale wasn't all that common until the 17th century and then only for the fairly well off. Are they particularly well to do? If not, they would be drinking from a cask (assuming they'd have their own cask to drink from).

The sentence following terminal ellipses should start with a capital.

"The faces of his companions showed instant concern." This is too indirect. It feels off. Maybe something like "His companions blanched at the mention of last time."

Rather than "beginning to press", "pressing" would be a more appropriate way to say it. More direct, less clunky.

"[...]the bloody miller now, Kerna[...]" Direct address needs to be set off by a comma.

Page 2
If I were a merchant, I wouldn't be so desperate to offload until after the big event. It's bad business to sell out early, after all. Leaves a bad impression.

Hedges like "I mean" should be set off by commas.

What is it that Bert's straightening?

How do eyes flash in terror?

How do you plant your feet protectively?

The appropriate punctuation for exclamations is--surprise, surprise--exclamation points.

When dialog is abruptly cut off, you use dashes, as indicated by two hyphens in plain text. A single hyphen won't cut it.

Page 3
Is a punnet big enough for a cake? (Thanks for the new word, by the way.)

If Aston and Henna are stealing anyway, what's to keep our hero from grabbing something close at hand so long as his eyes don't stray too much?

Page 4
The word is "captor", not "capturer".

A death sentence for petty theft? Little harsh, don't you think? Or is big burly simply bluffing?

Page 5
Slow motion is a concept rather inconsistent with the setting, is it not? You should generally avoid letting the narrative go beyond the purview of your world.

Why is "Splash" capitalized?

If people were gathering around during homeboy's explanation of the axe and so many good citizens tried to capture the boys earlier, how come Henna managed to get away so easily? Wouldn't the crowd at least point out the way he was heading?

The rules for the punctuation of direct address apply to hedge questions as well, even if it looks a little unwieldy. "[...]didn't it, Kaitrin?"

Page 6
It would be helpful if you italicized the "us" in Marana's retort. To my knowledge, this can't be done in the Stories section here, so you'll have apply the plain-text alternative of putting a hyphen on either side of the italicized text. (i.e. "Brought -us-!")

"comradely exchanges" You think about that.

The perspective has shifted from Aston to Henna here. This is a sign of the third-person omniscient, a perspective I strongly discourage. A little reworking can make it look more like Aston's observations on the matter.

Henna acts awfully young for a seventeen-year-old. I honestly thought he was about ten or so (thirteen tops).

Don't you mean deaths at Neredin swords?

Is Aston really on such formal terms that he addresses and refers to his grandpa as "Grandfather"?

"Grandfather also won't talk much about them" sounds unnatural for dialog. Consider "Grandfather won't talk much about them either."

"Finally, Henna looked at him." "Finally"? What came before? You don't use "finally" unless there's been a substantial pause. As near as the reader can tell, Henna hasn't skipped a beat.

Page 7
Is Henna really being recalcitrant? Double-check the meaning, if you would.

The banner is listless? Maybe it needs to drink some orange juice.

I don't think the riders really care if their emblem appears lifeless to Aston or not, making the "nevertheless" rather inappropriate.

You can't grin your words, no matter how hard you try.

Page 8
Why not have the actual lyrics to the song of Thir rather than just use narrative to describe the contents. I think it'd be worth the extra effort.

Rather than having "Mendeth" be an apposition, why not say "Emperor Mendeth"?

Is "Neredai" the name of the land of the Neredin?

"Mendeth would yet come." Don't you mean "Mendeth would come again"?

Page 9
Why does Kaitrin ask what kind of man Thir was when it seems like that was a key component of the song? You know, all that gentle giant business.

What sort of hero tradition do they have in Ibylinn that "good and peaceful" would be the expected archetype?

Aston's a rather thoughtful child, isn't he? Thinks awfully deeply on the story, he does.

The tavern hangs over the highstreet? How does that work?

Page 10
Refer to the previous notes about dashes for cutoffs and direct address in hedge questions.

You can't look your words at your daughter.

Page 11
After all the trouble they went through earlier, Turbrew is just going to be in a foul mood? If that's as far as the consequences go, I wonder why the tension got cranked up so much before. (With Kai's dad being the sheriff, I'd think Aston and Henna would have a hard time getting off.)

And that's all for now.

gh0ti
July 10th, 2007, 07:05 AM
Page 1

1.What equivalent time period is the story set? Bottled ale wasn't all that common until the 17th century and then only for the fairly well off. Are they particularly well to do? If not, they would be drinking from a cask (assuming they'd have their own cask to drink from).

Page 2

2.If I were a merchant, I wouldn't be so desperate to offload until after the big event. It's bad business to sell out early, after all. Leaves a bad impression.

3.What is it that Bert's straightening?

Page 3

4.Is a punnet big enough for a cake? (Thanks for the new word, by the way.)

5.If Aston and Henna are stealing anyway, what's to keep our hero from grabbing something close at hand so long as his eyes don't stray too much?

Page 4

6.A death sentence for petty theft? Little harsh, don't you think? Or is big burly simply bluffing?

Page 5

6a.Slow motion is a concept rather inconsistent with the setting, is it not? You should generally avoid letting the narrative go beyond the purview of your world.

6b.Why is "Splash" capitalized?

6c.If people were gathering around during homeboy's explanation of the axe and so many good citizens tried to capture the boys earlier, how come Henna managed to get away so easily? Wouldn't the crowd at least point out the way he was heading?

Page 6
7.It would be helpful if you italicized the "us" in Marana's retort. To my knowledge, this can't be done in the Stories section here, so you'll have apply the plain-text alternative of putting a hyphen on either side of the italicized text. (i.e. "Brought -us-!")

8."comradely exchanges" You think about that.

9.The perspective has shifted from Aston to Henna here. This is a sign of the third-person omniscient, a perspective I strongly discourage. A little reworking can make it look more like Aston's observations on the matter.

10.Henna acts awfully young for a seventeen-year-old. I honestly thought he was about ten or so (thirteen tops).

11.Is Aston really on such formal terms that he addresses and refers to his grandpa as "Grandfather"?

12."Finally, Henna looked at him." "Finally"? What came before? You don't use "finally" unless there's been a substantial pause. As near as the reader can tell, Henna hasn't skipped a beat.

Page 7
13.Is Henna really being recalcitrant? Double-check the meaning, if you would.

14.The banner is listless? Maybe it needs to drink some orange juice.

15.I don't think the riders really care if their emblem appears lifeless to Aston or not, making the "nevertheless" rather inappropriate.

Page 8
16.Why not have the actual lyrics to the song of Thir rather than just use narrative to describe the contents. I think it'd be worth the extra effort.

17.Rather than having "Mendeth" be an apposition, why not say "Emperor Mendeth"?

18.Is "Neredai" the name of the land of the Neredin?

19."Mendeth would yet come." Don't you mean "Mendeth would come again"?

Page 9
20a.Why does Kaitrin ask what kind of man Thir was when it seems like that was a key component of the song? You know, all that gentle giant business.

20b.What sort of hero tradition do they have in Ibylinn that "good and peaceful" would be the expected archetype?

20c.Aston's a rather thoughtful child, isn't he? Thinks awfully deeply on the story, he does.

21.The tavern hangs over the highstreet? How does that work?

Page 11
22.After all the trouble they went through earlier, Turbrew is just going to be in a foul mood? If that's as far as the consequences go, I wonder why the tension got cranked up so much before. (With Kai's dad being the sheriff, I'd think Aston and Henna would have a hard time getting off.)



Wow, thanks again for taking the time to do this. Let's see if I can answer a few things. I think most of the problems come down to this actually being a mish-mash of about a dozen drafts with all kinds of ideas thrown in; it's not much of an excuse, but there are clearly many things I've left in without realising that they make no sense without what I'd taken out. PS. Grammatical mistakes are, of course, mistakes so there's no point me answering those.

1. Indeed, bottle of ale is an error. Although, my story is not restricted solely to high-medieval technology, it's misleading to give the reader the impression of bottled ale before I've firmly established the rough time frame my world is built on.

2. Hmmm, this is a new bit I've recently pegged in. To be honest, this entire chapter has been problematical. I need the next day to be market day for Chapter 2 to function, but I also need the square to be busy in Chapter 1. More thinking required it seems.

3. I mean, as he stood up. I should make that clearer.

4. These were meant to be small cakes, 'cupcakes' in the American expression. Let's say a punnet can be up to 30cm x 25cm, is that large enough for me to get away with the expression.

5. Point taken.

6. The burly man is bluffing; the villagers know all about Henna and Aston and he's reveling in catching one of them, playing to the crowd.

6a+b+c. For some reason this part has caused me all sorts of problems. I put in slow-motion really in exasperation at finding it difficult to make the events unfold in the correct order. I'll think on c. as well.

7. Ah, there are a fair few things that are italicised in my copies of the story, I was just not aware of the plain text convention.

8. Will do.

9. This doesn't happen in my latest version; I did not want to upload another while you were still digesting this one. As you suggest, Aston know recognises that his friend is being reclusive (more on that word later!)

10. Funnily enough, this same thought struck me when I was in the shower the other day. My only response was BUGGER. Originally I had envisaged the friends being around thirteen, but I don't like my story skipping years between chapters and with an already slow start by most standards, I need Aston (and the others) to reach eighteen or so by the time serious events begin to unfold. Might need some hefty reworking.

11. 'Grandfather' was initially just there until I settled on a favoured term of address for Aston to use. I've left it far too long.

12. This cropped up as a result of the aforementioned mish-mashing. There was a pause here that doesn't exist any more. Will be rid of the 'finally'.

13. Don't know why I plumped for recalcitrant. Seems a very odd mistake.

14. The banner is 'limp' not 'listless'. Thanks.

15. Is this what my sentence says? I mean to suggest that it is Aston who might be reluctant to cheer and wave, not the riders to salute. Maybe I need to switch the clauses around.

16. My first draft had the lyrics of the song included, but it's quite a lengthy song and felt a bit tacked on. It's been a long time since it's been that way, but I'll put the song back in and have a think.

17. Ok.

18. It is. Have I not mentioned that somewhere in the story before? If I haven't then maybe it's unclear.

19. Heh, I wrote this song when I was about 13. I just wanted it to rhyme to be honest.

20a+b+c. This is really superfluous dialogue that got a bit deeper than I intended. I've been contemplating a complete change in direction for their conversation on the way back to town, but haven't sat down to give it a proper think for a while.

20b. I wanted to suggest that the Ibyline are reverential of reluctant warriors. They had been fighting almost ceaseless war with the Neredin for about five centuries before their defeat around 200 years before my story starts. Throughout, they've always been on the defensive as they lack the manpower to invade Neredai and as a result, their people have little time for warmongers.

21. I'm exaggerating the English Tudor style of construction here, where multiple stories had sometimes quite pronounced overhangs. Here's a random picture off google to illustrate: http://www.fantascene.net/images/big%20tudor%20house.jpg
Maybe I should find another way of expressing this, though there is an old building in my village with an overhang that reaches nearly the entire width of the pavement.

22. Yeah, will need a new approach. The thing is, Aston and Kaitrin's misbehaviour seems to get lost with the darker tone the chapter takes at the end, with the stranger showing up at the tavern and the whispers of Neredin nearby. I wanted Tarith, Damien and even Turbrew to be too concerned with deeper matters to have time for punishing their children. Still, a rethink is definitely in order.

Again, thanks for reading!

James Carmack
July 10th, 2007, 10:04 AM
Well, I've given you food for thought and you seem to be chewing just fine.

In the future, I'd recommend a deep reading of what you've got to iron out some of those "mish-mash" issues before you post. It'll make life easier for one and all. You seem to have been aware of a lot of my quibbles, so a little extra time wrangling beforehand would help the critics focus on other elements of the story that might be overshadowed by these snaggling bits.

As for the age bit, while you may not like skipping years, there's certainly nothing wrong with it. Say, for instance, Henna at age thirteen runs off to serve in the cavalry as a drummer (or some other job that would employ young 'uns). We close the chapter with the tearful parting of Henna and Aston and next chapter we fast-forward several years to Henna as a strapping recruit about to earn his stripes (or whatever symbol of rank you use). It allows you to move the plot along without going over every tiny little detail. Yesterday, the threat was on the horizon. Today, we're in the thick of it. Time is relative, after all. A thousand years are like a day and a day like a thousand years.