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Mordor
October 11th, 2003, 04:35 PM
I don't often write but have been fascinated with it ever since I started reading. Please criticize and give me your opinions and advice on what little I've wrote here. It is sort of inspired by samurai films.

Here's the story.


The wind rustles the branches of the forest. Birds fly by looking for shelter. Alone kneels Mansuka, a warrior of the lost Ninchecko tribe of the Blackwood Pines. He is the last of his people and wants revenge on those who destroyed his clan.

Kneeling at his samurai sword, Mansuka sheds a tear for his lost brotherhood. The sword, crafted by the wisest of the swordsmiths is a deadly weapon. Poison tipped, sleek and strong, it will be his aid in his revenge. "To the clan of my brothers. The tribe of my elders. I will have revenge in this life or the next. I will shed no more tears of sorrow. Our enemies will be in fear. Forever will our name live on. I am Mansuka, and vengeance will be mine."

Now the journey begins...



That took me about ten minutes to write. I doubt I have any talent but I'm hoping with a lot of practice I can become a good writer.

Dawnstorm
October 14th, 2003, 03:08 PM
Okay, here's what I think:

1. Story (general comments): There's nothing in this exposition that makes me curious about the story, but neither is there anything that makes me stop reading. It sounds like a basic revenge story; but I don't expect to learn more in the first two paragraphs, so that's okay.

One word of caution, though. Mansuka is the only survivor of his clan: unless his clan is a very small one to begin with, it could be hard to explain plausibly, how all of the clan were wiped out and how come Mansuka survived.

2. Style (general comments): Basically, I think your style fits your content. Short sentences with evocative content. ("The wind rustles the branches of the forest. Birds fly by looking for shelter.") However, you're mixing images of the current situation (Mansuka kneeling at his sword) with general information about Mansuka/his clan. This can be detrimental to a reader's immersion into the narrative. For example:

(1) You tell us that Mansuka kneels alone. (2) You tell us who Mansuka is, what his clan is/was, and that he wants revenge. (3) Then you tell us again that Mansuka kneels, but this time you add his sword. (4) You tell us that Mansuka sheds a tear. (5) You give us information about the sword. Now, (1), (3), and (4) discribe the scene, while (2) and (5) interrupt that discription with general information. Also, (4) separates the first mentioning of his sword from the corresponding information (=5).

There are many ways to amend the situation. Personally, I think you would not lose too much by eliminating (almost) all of the general information:

"The wind rustles the branches of the forest. Birds fly by looking for shelter. Alone, Mansuka kneels at his samurai sword. He sheds a tear for his lost brotherhood. [speech]"

3. Style - Japanese Reference: You've done a good job with Japanese sounding names. However, it is unusual to find "ck" in Japanese when written in letters. "Ninchecko" should be "Ninchekko" or "Nincheko".
Mansuka's final words make him seem a bit ego-centered, as he claims the revenge for himself ("vengeance will be mine") and does not mention his clan at all. This is a bit surprising, as he's spoken in terms of "we" instead of "I" before. I'd imagine his final words to be something like "I am Mansuka of the Ninchekko tribe of the Blackwood pines, and I vow not to rest until our clan has been revenged."
Also, you might want to specify what type of sword Mansuka is fighting with. Some exceptional swords even have names. He might want to use the clan-leader's sword for revenge... Just a thought...

4. "Alone kneels Mansuka": not unheard of in poetry, but a bit unusual in prose. It should be "Mansuka kneels alone" or "Alone, Mansuka kneels"

5. Disclaimer: Don't believe everything I say. I may have criticized things that are perfectly okay. :)

KatG
October 14th, 2003, 06:08 PM
Well, you didn't do badly Dawnie. :)

There's nothing wrong with having exposition information mixed with description in a scene. However, what Dawnstorm is pointing out is that you might want to consider holding back the background information and just presenting us at the beginning with a view of this warrior claiming revenge. This could work in raising reader curiousity -- who is this guy, why is he swearing revenge, why is he so sad, etc., that you can then fill the audience in on later as you go. It's not a bad strategy, though it's not the only strategy, especially as it lets us get interested in Mansuka so that we're more likely to care about the loss of his clan when you present that information.

But right now, it's largely irrelevant. This is a couple of paragraphs of first draft. By the time you're finished with your first draft, Mansuka might very well end up having a different name, be revenging only the death of his wife, not his whole clan, traded in his sword for a holy staff of death, acquired a pet panda, and starts the story chained to a dungeon wall. So whatever comments we make may not be of much help to you down the road.

If you're just looking for some encouragement, then it sounds like you're doing okay. :) We could use some Asian material out in the world. Do some research, study the people whose work you like, figure out why you like it and figure out how they managed to pull off the stuff you like, be it characterization, action sequences, poetical style and so on. Relax, have fun and make your brain entertain you. If it works for you, it may very well work for some of us.

Dawnstorm
October 14th, 2003, 07:54 PM
There's nothing wrong with having exposition information mixed with description in a scene. However, what Dawnstorm is pointing out is that you might want to consider holding back the background information and just presenting us at the beginning with a view of this warrior claiming revenge. This could work in raising reader curiousity -- who is this guy, why is he swearing revenge, why is he so sad, etc., that you can then fill the audience in on later as you go. It's not a bad strategy, though it's not the only strategy, especially as it lets us get interested in Mansuka so that we're more likely to care about the loss of his clan when you present that information.


Sounds a lot more comprehensible than what I said. Thanks. :)

Wish I was as good at being supportive as you are. :cool:

KatG
October 16th, 2003, 05:28 PM
Thanks, and I hope you didn't get mad that I called you Dawnie. :)

fluffy bunny
October 16th, 2003, 06:13 PM
As has been said above, it doesn't put me off the story, but it seems like a lot of revenge plots I've read thus far- nothing wrong with that though. The only thing I'd say about it which slightly puts me off is this: 'I will have revenge in this life or the next'. Sounds like it was ripped straight from Gladiator and may make me question how much of the book is new, and how much is rehashed. That said, I'd probably read a few mor pages of the book before deciding whether to borrow/buy it.

Just being nitpicky- correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought samurai didn't poison tip their blades- poison was a cowardly weapon used by ninja and not in keeping with Bushido.

Dawnstorm
October 18th, 2003, 08:27 PM
KatG, when I read that "Dawnie" I had to smile. I remember thinking, hey, I've already made a post that merits a cutesy version of my name! Either that, or I've come across as an eager lit student... ;)


Originally posted by fluffy bunny
The only thing I'd say about it which slightly puts me off is this: 'I will have revenge in this life or the next'. Sounds like it was ripped straight from Gladiator and may make me question how much of the book is new, and how much is rehashed.

Considering that revenge is a social expectation, I'd expect the speech to be composed of familiar phrasing (although "Gladiator" probably isn't the reference I'd want). Originality in there could even be inappropriate. Needs research...

You're right about the blade, I think.

Draper
October 23rd, 2003, 11:54 AM
Not that I'm an expert, but the first thing you want to do when reviewing a prologue is determine if it's really needed in the first place. This one strikes me as very short and incomplete but that probably has much more to do with the time taken to write it instead of your skill.

On another point, why is he talking to himself? Beyond a quick phrase or curse, most people don't do that. If he is making some kind of formal pledge to the spirits of his ancestors or something like that then mention it. Or you could have him do it a few times and just when your reader is starting to scream at the page, have a secondary character ask him why he keeps babbling to himself. Adds to characterization and lightens the tone of what will likely be a dark piece.

Love the imagery and short sentences that describe it. Mansuka should spend a little more time enjoying it as well, that might begin moving our sympathies towards him faster.

Jacquin
October 27th, 2003, 06:33 AM
There have been some good comments here, I'll add my thoughts too.

The thing that jumped out at me was the sword. Firstly Fluffy is right, the Samurai did not poison their blades. The whole point of the sword in Samurai culture was to prove that you were a noble warrior able to defeat your enemies with your own skill. Secondly calling it a "Samurai sword" is simply wrong. There are many names for Nihonto (Japanese swords) but the best and easiest way is to refer to it as a sword. Most of us are familiar enough to know that Japanese swords are invariably curved (though not always...) so if you want us to know more than simply sword try curved sword.

Also how does one kneel "at" a sword? That phrase drew me out of what was quite a convincing picture you had created.

If I may ask what plans do you have for the story? Have you made any yet? Also I would be interested in seeing any developments that have taken place since you posted this.

J