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August 25th, 2004, 01:55 AM
Hi all,
I am new to this sight, but it looks like just the thing I have been looking for. I have just finished my second novel and would greatly appreciate better feedback than what I am getting from friends and family.
Please take a look at this and tell me what you think.
Thanks in advance.

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The horse had died about seven days and fifty miles back, so with his own weary feet Lamar Timmon planted his first step in twenty cycles onto the soil of his homeland.

The wind blew gentle at the round summit of the large grassy hill where he stood, cooling his weatherworn face and fluttering strands of his long black hair. The magnificent sight spread out beneath him, Nine Lakes in all its modest glory, caused a well of memories and emotions to stir inside him. The rolling fields of waist-high pale green grass reaching ever onward far past the eye's means rocked serenely with the current of the tender breeze, thus living up to the name given to them by Nine Lakes' earliest settlers, the Green Sea, for the propensity of the grass blades to move to and fro like the waves of the sea. The scarcity of any other form of landscape offered further justification for the branded name. Besides a few cusps of meager woods with no more than fifteen or twenty trees a piece and the occasional patch of red-berried bushes, only the lakes themselves proposed a sight in opposition to the engulfing army of grass. But the lakes, two of which Lamar could see from his present vantage point, did not have to fight for a place in line for an onlooker's attention. As expansive as they were calm, the waters sparkled harmoniously in the shower of rays the midday sun endowed upon the land. Though too far off to see the passengers, the sails of the numerous fishing boats could be seen skirting lazily through the crystalline waters.

Lamar breathed in deep, taking in far more than the fresh crisp air. Nine Lakes was his home; the land of his birth, and he had been away for such a long time.

As he made his way down the graceful slope of the hill, his mind began to wander over a past that seemed as far removed from him as the soil of the land from the sun. The na´ve boy who had set out from Far Burden twenty cycles ago would have a difficult time recognizing the man now returning. The grandiose dreams of exploration and discovery that boy had longed for were dire shadows of the realisms the man had come to know. The boy had thought of the wide world as teeming with wondrous mysteries and promises of high adventure just waiting for him to unearth. Cycles of study had primed the youth with lofty expectations of wonders beyond his imagining, a life on the road of fantasy where everything he had ever dreamed would come to pass in stunning grandeur. The man, however, had found these adolescent wishes to be utterly false and ultimately heartbreaking. The world of the boy's imagination had turned into a hard cold unforgiving wasteland of pain and suffering. There were wonders to be sure, but more often than not, they were accompanied shortly by turmoil, fateful misunderstandings and mandatory acts of violence leading to despair. Had he known, the boy would rather have crawled into a dark dank hole and died than willingly have traveled the road the man had been forced upon time and again. Lamar felt compassion for that boy's lost innocence, but hated him for ever possessing it in the first place.

His tired eyes caught the sight of curling grey smoke drifting into the blue sky. That would be the little village of Segwayl, the southernmost hamlet of Nine Lakes. Hard experience had conditioned him to avoid such places. Interaction with people would invariably lead to misunderstandings and the inevitable hostilities associated with them. But Lamar was drained and in need of a warm meal other than the plains vermin he could acquire with his bow and cook without the aid of seasoning. Besides, this was his home or at least a part of it. Though Segwayl's geography placed it under the rule of the North, it was still a part of Nine Lakes.
His mouth salivated at the idea of tasting something besides tough rabbit or stringy snake meat. His mind filled with images of a steaming pot of vegetable stew, a dripping slab of steak and a thick mug of honey beer. Such thoughts soon overtook any misgivings of willingly entering a village, and he quickened his pace, eager to wash the weeks' old taste of muddy water and dry bland jackrabbit meat from his mouth.

At the bottom of the hill, he looked westward at a thick patch of skinny trees about seventy yards away. The trees provided shelter for about a dozen burly redberry bushes. Lamar caught a flicker of color from behind a fat trunk and saw a yellow dress come into view. From this distance, he could not make out the features of the woman, but he could see she had a large basket slung on her arm.

Instinctively, Lamar changed his set course and headed straight north. He would have to travel up and over another hill on this path, but if his journeys had taught him anything, it was that a man was always better off to steer clear of a lone female. Confusion was always close by in these types of situations, and he wanted no part of its cruel games.

At the base of the hill, he chanced a look over his shoulder to determine whether or not the woman had noticed him.

The next second, his feet were pounding the soft ground straight for the cusp of trees, his bow firm in his gasp, arrow readied.

As he had looked back toward the woman, Lamar had seen movement in the treetops. When he had spun around, a dark figure had dropped from one of the trees to the ground a mere ten feet from where the woman in the yellow dress was filling her basket with redberries.

In seconds, he had cut his gap from the trees in half, in the following seconds he saw another black shape fall from the concealment of the bushy treetops. Tree rogs, they were, though why they would be so far away from a forest he did not know. The vile creatures usually made their homes in thick wooded areas, and the nearest forest was more than ten miles to the east, though that fact would do nothing to alleviate the danger the woman was in at this very moment.

August 25th, 2004, 02:46 PM
In the chill of the night,
At the scene of the... post,
Like a streak of light,
He arrives just... eating toast!

This looks like a job for... The Masked Critiquer!
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Good show, Revolution. Even though this is a short opening, you are successful in introducing a grand visual image of the setting, and linking that very quickly to a moment of suspence. You picked a good place to end too. This is the kind of thing that will get the reader to turn the page.

You did a good job appealing to a range of senses (describing the food).

Your character has a lot of internal thoughs going on. He left as a boy, now he's returning as a man. This is fine, but as a suggestion, you may wish to consider a trial of his that is more specific (assuming that's not going to be the gist of the story.) For example, describe in a sentence or two a time he actually had his heart broken. I think you have an intriguing character here with lots of history.

Now, I'm getting into nit-picking a little bit, but you keep refering to "20 cycles." Do you mean 20 years, or 20 months or 20 seasons? I'm not against calling them years, if that is the case, but you may wish to drop a little hint for the reader. In many stories a boy can grow into a man overnight, depending on how you look at it.

With respect to tree rogs. Merely my word association, I envision giant tree frogs. You may need a slightly different name, or maybe a little more description to give a clear picture of the danger these creatures represent.

You may also want to consider mentioning after he looks back at the woman, that suddenly he is running towards her. At first I had the impression that Lamar was running away, as if he were being stalked, which made this point a little confusing.

Sorry if I sound nit-picky. There's not a lot I could find otherwise.

ironchef texmex
August 25th, 2004, 04:55 PM
H-m-m, well for starters I don't know if I would begin the first sentence with 'Hi all', a bit too cliche; maybe something more eyecatching. Also, 'friends and family' reminds the reader of a phone commercial, reversing the order, 'family and friends'......................... Wait, that's not the part you wanted critiqued, was it? ;)

The first sentence is an eyecatcher and I liked the setting pretty well. I definately would not go for the blocks of history on page 1, let them watch him for a little while and start to wonder for themselves who this mysterious character is. Also, the plot line of the lone wonderer who suddenly finds himself defending a lady is a bit trite.

Your prose could use a little fine tuning. I'm sure the ? for apostrophes was a computer glitch, but even so, there were plenty of sentences where a more judicious use of punctuation would have made the meaning less ambiguous. At times you string too many thoughts together in a single sentence; some of those clauses need to be broken up.

Oh, by the way, good to meet you. Hope you enjoy the site.... NOW BURN UNDER THE WITHERING GLARE OF OUR CRITIQUES!

........... A joke. Post more of your books. Also, feel free to jump on the rest of us when we tie our stuff to the pinata rope.

August 25th, 2004, 05:01 PM
choppy and Iron. said all I would have. The use of language and description is clear, rich and solid, but it could do with a little less social/historical background.

To add my own point: I would advise you give the reader time to 'breath' in this passage; possibly breaking up or spreading out your sentances. This would be an even better read if it were at a gentler pace.

August 25th, 2004, 10:56 PM
Thanks a lot for your critiques. It really does help.

As to the tree rogs, there is quite a good deal of description of them in the ensuing paragraphs.

To the cliched aspect of the hero coming upon a damsel in distress, I totally agree. It was on purpose. I offer this to the reader to keep them unprepared for the wholly (I hope) uncliched relationship that will soon form between the two of them.

This book has taken me about a year to complete (two full rewrites), but I think I am in the home stretch now. The word count (180K) is still a problem as I am unpublished, but I just don't see what else I can cut without short-changing character developement, which is one of the things I like best about the novel. I already cut about 20K from the first two drafts.

Anyway, thanks again for the help