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Takoren
August 13th, 2007, 04:24 PM
I have already uploaded chapter fifteen, but James Carmack said that he would like to start from the beginning, so I have uploaded the beginning to the stories section, and you can find it here (http://www.sffworld.com/community/story/2590p0.html).

I want to state for the record that this is in no way my final draft, and I do acknowledge some flaws that at present I'm too busy writing the rest of the book to correct, but will be corrected once I start editing. Among them, I think I give too much needless detail here and there. Plus, I know that my lead character seems a bit like a goody-two-shoes. That's gonna have to be dealt with, but it actually sets him up later on to have to come face to face with the idea that he cannot be a good man entirely on his own.

Whether one can truly have a good heart with no help or not is one of the themes I examine. My character later faces a conundrum that he doesn't believe magic is a truly good thing, or that it has any purpose in his life, but he also doesn't believe that the heart of mortal men is an inately good thing. But then where does his own goodness come from?

Also the character of Lydia is not for some pointless temptation to test our hero's resolve. She does become important later in the story, and her starting off as a little tart is somewhat important.

Anyway, this is chapter one. Please let me know what you guys think, and remember I'm always open for constructive criticism.

James Carmack
August 13th, 2007, 09:02 PM
Well, since you call me by name, I guess I have a bit of an obligation to read it, now don't I? ^_^; I'll see if I can't get it done, if not today, by the end of the week.

Takoren
August 15th, 2007, 07:42 PM
*bump....*

Takoren
August 17th, 2007, 11:44 AM
*bump....*

James Carmack
August 19th, 2007, 11:42 AM
Here in Japan, Sunday is considered to be the end of the week, so I've managed to keep my word, from a certain point of view. Poor J had to wait nearly a month for a few cursory comments. Be glad I had you lined up with him and Angel.

As it's late and I have work in the morning and a personal deadline to meet, you're going to have to make due with the cursory treatment yourself. For now at any rate.

Well, it definitely feels like a completely different story here, but that's not entirely surprising with such a dramatic shift in character and setting. You start us off with a Cinderfella story that thankfully doesn't dwell too long on how poor and downtrodden our hero is. The setup is intriguing enough to keep me reading, at least.

Until I present you with the full list of quibbles, I'll spar with you on the matter of age. Even in a modern setting, thirty-one isn't very young. Of course, I'm sure you're not set in a modern-equivalent world. Erik is by all accounts what one person notably described as a "grown-*** man". Only he doesn't act the part. I mistook him for your typical early teen callow youth until he finally said his age. Even then, I didn't believe it. He could narrowly pass for someone in their early twenties, their late teens more likely. I realize you want a fair bit of time to pass. If the timeframe is important enough to justify it, Erik's portrayal will need some reworking. (Fiddling with the dates would be far less intensive, though.)

And while we're on the topic of age, except for a modern-equivalent, First World society, sixteen is hardly too young for a girl to be thinking about marriage or having gentleman callers. (The rampant debauchery is a tad unseemly, but what can ya do?) Be sure you don't incorrectly apply your worldview to your work. How can you know? Well learn about the worldviews fostered in different times and places and ask yourself if the way of thinking you're presenting fits with the time, place and character.

This is it for now. More to follow later.

Takoren
August 19th, 2007, 07:29 PM
Well, it definitely feels like a completely different story here, but that's not entirely surprising with such a dramatic shift in character and setting. You start us off with a Cinderfella story that thankfully doesn't dwell too long on how poor and downtrodden our hero is. The setup is intriguing enough to keep me reading, at least.

I'll take that as a compliment.


Until I present you with the full list of quibbles, I'll spar with you on the matter of age. Even in a modern setting, thirty-one isn't very young. Of course, I'm sure you're not set in a modern-equivalent world. Erik is by all accounts what one person notably described as a "grown-*** man". Only he doesn't act the part. I mistook him for your typical early teen callow youth until he finally said his age. Even then, I didn't believe it. He could narrowly pass for someone in their early twenties, their late teens more likely. I realize you want a fair bit of time to pass. If the timeframe is important enough to justify it, Erik's portrayal will need some reworking. (Fiddling with the dates would be far less intensive, though.)

I have a mixed reaction to this. Part of me is thinking about some 30'ish fantasy characters I've read about and wondering what exactly makes Erik seem so young to you. Was it how he behaves or is it the fact that he's unmarried, has a lack of education, etc.? I think you're saying it's the former, so perhaps you could help me out by pointing out specific examples of how he behaves like a teenager?

On the other hand I recall that when I began working on this book I was not sure how old I was eventually going to make Erik and had it in my head that he would be in his early twenties. I realized just how much time I wanted to have passed since his birth, however, and modified that. I hope that since chapter 1 Erik has started acting more grown-up. Basically, since I am approximately that age myself (a little younger) I kinda just started writing him at my own maturity level (though what this says about my maturity level I'm not sure). I also could have been influenced too strongly by books I was reading at the time who featured early-twenties/late teens characters as heroes (Belgariad, Wheel of Time, Fionavar Tapestry, Memory, Sorrow & Thorn, etc.).


And while we're on the topic of age, except for a modern-equivalent, First World society, sixteen is hardly too young for a girl to be thinking about marriage or having gentleman callers. (The rampant debauchery is a tad unseemly, but what can ya do?) Be sure you don't incorrectly apply your worldview to your work. How can you know? Well learn about the worldviews fostered in different times and places and ask yourself if the way of thinking you're presenting fits with the time, place and character.

The problem with Lydia isn't that she's too young to have gentlemen callers or that she's too young to get married (though I did include a line about her being too young to be courted, so that should be removed or changed to "a young woman who should just be starting to receive gentlemen callers"). The problem with her is, as you put it, the unseemly rampant debauchery. Maybe I overdid it, but maybe not (as my novel seems quite tame compared to other stuff I've read). Lydia was raised without a mother in the lap of what Hon-Taeth considers luxury and never once did not get something she wanted. On top of that, her father is a mysogenist and has convinced her that women are only good for one thing. Put together all that conditioning and you get Lydia. As I said, there's a point to her character. I'm not going to say too much about that.

I also realize that my worldview may be creeping in here. I understand that there are places and times where for a young woman of 16 to have already lost her virginity, perhaps even several times over. But as they say, you write what you know, and I know that even in midieval times in England and other places that followed Catholociscm or equivilant religions, for a woman to lose her maidenhead prior to marriage was considered scandalous and wrong. It was still done, of course, and in fact there were plenty of women who were blatant about it, but they were considered evil women.

Lydia is the girl that gets whispered about all through the town of Hon-Taeth, called names by women and men alike, but of course as is the case with men, they wouldn't turn down a free ride from her if they could get it.

James Carmack
August 20th, 2007, 10:03 AM
The fact that you originally intended Erik to be a good deal younger (and that you were influenced by younger protagonists) definitely makes sense of things. I'll pick apart particular instances later. In the meantime, let me offer a comparison. Have you seen the movie version of Dune, the David Lynch version? Well, you see, Paul was something like fifteen when the book started out. He came off as rather precocious, wise beyond his years. However, the very lines that gave that effect in the book had the opposite effect when delivered by the then-25 Kevin MacLachlan. Rather than appearing to be a budding adult, the character of Paul seemed more like an awkward man-child who needed to grow the freak up. I see the same thing going on here. A character meant to be younger, who'd come off well in the context of being younger, flounders when too many years are piled on. Erik almost seems developmentally disabled when you overlay his thoughts, words and deeds on the template of a thirtysomething. Does it happen? Yes, of course, but I know that isn't the effect you're going for.

Now, as for Lydia, premarital sex is definitely taboo among most religious communities, but do those same cultural norms apply to this world, this society, this layer of society? You mention her father's misogyny. I'd actually see this as leading him to be more restrictive of her activities. I mean, how many misogynists are going to want the females to indulge their pleasure? Only insofar as it's directed towards satisfying the pleasure of the males. For dear old Dad, his daughter's only purpose would be to propagate the bloodline and to cement a useful politico-economic alliance. Maybe it's different in your world, but virgins are the prime currency for marriage. For his own benefits, I'd think Dad would jealously guard his daughter's virginity (even if he's clueless as to how utterly unsuccessful he is). Food for thought.

Bethelamon
August 20th, 2007, 11:16 AM
I don't have the expertise to criticise this, because as far as I can tell it is well written.

I'd just thought I would say that I thoroughly enjoyed, for what its worth! Well done! I'd be interested in reading the next chapter.