View Full Version : Dinner

January 18th, 2012, 10:44 PM

January 19th, 2012, 02:13 PM
The scene presented is well written, and aside from the few references to unusual places, 'unfirstly' things, etc..., this bit could be set in almost any genre. There is intrigue, hint of conspiracy and interpersonal conflict that begs the all important question - "What's next?". I like it.

Your use of the comma is refreshing; in many of the roughs I have read here, there seems to be a lack of attention to that detail, which bugs me terribly! There was one or two grammatical issues that aren't worth pointing out - you will get them when you do a final edit, I am sure.

All in all - well done!

Best regards


January 19th, 2012, 10:11 PM
i really liked the story.

January 20th, 2012, 05:15 PM
Thank you both for your feedback, particularly the comment about the comma usage. I found that more flattering than perhaps I should admit.

January 20th, 2012, 06:40 PM
You have great skill in handling dialogue. I did experience a bit of confusion about who was who, but I believe that was my fault an not the fault of the story. On a re-reading all came clear, and probably would have first time around had I paid a bit more attention.

The buildup from polite good humour around the dinner table to the final resolution kept me interested in seeing how you would notch up the tension to each new level. The showdown, when it came, was very properly handled - the veiled threat to Villtr was the more deadly in its implication because it came softly and confidently.

I rarely read fantasy, but this I enjoyed. It does not suffer from the gross overblown writing that is so common in fantasy. These characters, this conversation, the situation you unfold for us, could be transferred to any age.

Finally, the drama is heightened by the simple fact that the central character never appears. She is conspicuous by the empty chair she does not occupy. Had she been at table, much of the impact of the last lines would have been lost.

January 21st, 2012, 01:03 PM
Thanks garza, this definitely encourages me. I never like it when people use the fantasy genre just out of some desire to make up odd names or play with huge swords, so your feedback is very good news to me.

January 22nd, 2012, 02:17 AM
Really well written and, as Garza said, you handle dialogue really well. I'm already picking up tips on that side of things just from reading various examples of work as it's something I think I struggle with.

One thing that I've noticed with several pieces I've read today is that few mention whereabouts in the story the scene takes place, so I'm guessing in your story above some of these characters have already been introduced and described previously? If not then when does that take place?

This is what I'm struggling with - whether to fully describe each character in their first appearance in the book or to leave it for another time and let the story flow quicker as you have done above.

January 22nd, 2012, 11:15 AM
Hi Jamie. This part is the start of Chapter Three of a little project I'm working on called The Mechanical Apostles. Chapters One and Two are already up, a little way down the list, if you're interested. It's a WIP of course, but generally I introduce a character with a few brief descriptions and then let their dialogue and actions tell you more about them. Thanks for your feedback.

January 26th, 2012, 04:09 AM
Hi, Gurro.

This indicates talent. I like the concept and wish I had read the first two chapters for background. From what you have posted I can infer a complex and well reasoned plotline, but…(you must have known this was coming)

You are trying to do too many things at once. You are (1) describing some major and minor principle characters who apparently have not yet been introduced. (2) describing a host of other things: the meal, the table, the seating arrangements, etc. (3) attempting to relate dialogue that is packed with tension and sinister innuendo, and you are attempting to do all of these things together. Break it up a bit.

You are putting your friend, the reader, through the wringer. Simplify the chapter’s construction through division of those chores listed above. Perhaps some small talk while you are doing the description instead of forcing the reader to absorb important dialogue in the midst of this description. I like the way you treated the absence of Freya and the cutting remark to the bishop (I also absolutely love the name Freya and I hope you have included the appropriate mythological allusions elsewhere. Could Bishop Villtr be the Giant who built the walls of Asgard?) Then you could include the serious discussion after dinner, during desert as is done at a formal dinner. Now, with all of the descriptive passages out of the way you could let the dialogue flow a bit, giving your reader less work to do. Now he can follow the discussion without constant interruptions by the narrator.

At the end, the Q&A between Fr. Dorian and Col. Alder should be short and sweet. The reader gets it. You don’t have to drive the point with a sledge as you did.

Last, there was one really awful sentence that you have to change. “After several minutes of subdued application to the food, broken only by approving mumbles…” There are two misusages here:(1) we don’t apply ourselves to food. We apply ourselves to our work, our studies, our sport etc. (2) We generally don’t give approving mumbles. We can mention approvals, Shout or scream approvals or approvingly. We mumble curses, embarrassed apologies, lurid propositions, etc.

I hope you don’t take this criticism to heart because I don’t mean to insult, but from your posts that I have read I know you can do much better than this.

January 30th, 2012, 12:34 PM
Several of the characters are introduced in the first two chapters, so that should help to reduce confusion there. Perhaps I will mention one or two more prior to this scene for extra clarity. I've been mulling over the sentence you highlighted as being 'really awful' and to my mind it makes perfect sense, so I'll respectfully await a second opinion there.

I see what you mean about the details of the table, however, I felt it necessary for the reader to learn of this detail at the same rate as the diners, as it enables them to make oblique reference to their underlying hostility. Similarly, for the seating arrangement, I felt I had to mention it at the same time as the dialogue, firstly so the reader understood who was facing who etc, and secondly so they didn't forget, so I hoped in this case it would clarify the situation. Unfortunately, as you say, there is quite a lot to do at once in this section, and I hoped by introducing relevant info chronologically the scene would flow better and be easier to comprehend.

Thank you for the points about Norse mythology; I'll certainly take another look into that, and I'm very glad you like the name Freya. It took me a long time to choose. Thanks for taking the time to review.

January 31st, 2012, 04:48 AM
I really like your use of gossip in this piece. I've never really been able to use that in my stories. At least I can say that my characters 'aren't of that type' (I guess I also am not, so it also doesn't come naturally). It seems as if there's something around the lines of a conspiracy? I don't know, I'm terrible with comprehension (and yet, here I am. It's different when you write your own story), and somehow I found this hard to track, but it's probably just me. I can be that way sometimes. Especially when I read Heart of Darkness not too long ago. It's only about 60 pages long, but holy man it's condensed and super boring (obviously, I didn't read it for fun). My teacher was all, 'some say that high school students (I'm a senior) can't even read this book, but I don't believe them." But, I guess that's what I get for being in AP. Anyway, you have me intrigued for more, though!

January 31st, 2012, 07:09 AM
Just one thing.

brought out hot apple pie with crisp golden pastry and heaps of fresh cream. The scent was tantalising,
Scent suggests an animal, not food.

January 31st, 2012, 12:36 PM
Thanks Dramatism and Rustgold. I think I might go through this again and see where I can iron out crinkles. I know there's a difference between complex and confusing so I might see if I can simplify or remove the references to the Compass and the table (though, that said, I don't want to lose the deceptively polite initial conversation).

January 31st, 2012, 02:03 PM
*SNIP* there's a difference between complex and confusing so I might see if I can simplify or remove the references to the Compass and the table (though, that said, I don't want to lose the deceptively polite initial conversation).

I am completely with you on this. I know simple is usually better, but when building an entire world with complex characters and plots, all from your imagination, confusion can sometimes plop in as a natural occurrence, until we iron it out.. At least for me, anyway.

And you most definitely need to keep that 'deceptively polite conversation' intact. For me, it was what set up the entire scene. It may need a little work but not much. Thanks for sharing it!

Best regards


January 31st, 2012, 07:05 PM
I know there's a difference between complex and confusing so I might see if I can simplify or remove the references to the Compass and the table (though, that said, I don't want to lose the deceptively polite initial conversation).

I don't think you'd have to simplify it or remove it. Perhaps explain things a little more with narration. I know for my stories it's usually more of the mind then conversation, of course I get that you obviously have a different style, but I would like to see more explanations.

I also know that this is merely an excerpt of your story, but what I also found confusing was being bombarded with so many people at once. Are they all friends, or what is it? Is that implied and I just didn't catch it? I think another reason, for me, why it was confusing is because it didn't seem, too much, to be about one character. I find that having a central protagonist makes stories make more sense for me. Or, a few, depending on the chapter.

January 31st, 2012, 07:35 PM
I think that suggestion (more narration to set the scene) is a good one. To give a little background, Freya is the main character of the story (The Mechanical Apostles, of which Chapters 1 and 2 are posted already), however, this chapter focusses mainly on her father, Dorian, the Abbot. The idea for this dinner is that the Compass, who are the abbey elders/governing body - deriving their name from the table - comprises eight members, who are all present. In addition there are meant to be eight guests to make a full table. There are four visitors from the Archabbey (that heads Norgarim's academic/theistic Confraternity of abbeys), and four guests from Tempus Abbey to make up the numbers, but Freya is absent, meaning there are fifteen people at the table. In the interests of simplicity I only mentioned about half of the diners.

Actually, now I write that out, it does seem quite a lot to pick up by implication. I think a more descriptive intro might be in order.

February 1st, 2012, 07:11 PM
This was a brilliant read. I wish I had known beforehand that this was the third installment, because I would have read the first two. Perhaps edit your original post with links to the first two and a warning: "If you haven't already, I highly recommend you read parts 1 & 2 before continuing on," or something to that effect. That way I'm not blindly walking into the middle of a story, potentially missing out on crucial information/buildup.

But regardless of that technicality, your writing is wonderful. You handle a story in a similar fashion to me; I like to let dialogue tell the story rather than unspoken narrative. Narrative is just as important, but you have more freedom in wordplay with dialogue, and it also conveys more emotion. I can see how it would be hard to follow without a little attention paid, but it still left my mouth watering for more, and I don't mean the apple pie.

The genre appears to be one with which I am particularly fond of. Not quite sure, but it feels like a fantasy setting with hints of industry, a mix that I find extremely appealing. I tend to watch a lot of anime, and there are quite a few examples of that. Great story! I'm looking forward to more.

February 2nd, 2012, 11:57 AM
Yes, that sounds like a good idea. There's a slight issue in that chapter 4 requires me to go back and make some fairly extensive changes to chapter 2, but at least it'll set the tone. Thanks very much for your feedback; I'm glad you liked it.

February 11th, 2012, 12:08 PM
Several of the characters are introduced in the first two chapters, so that should help to reduce confusion there. Perhaps I will mention one or two more prior to this scene for extra clarity. I've been mulling over the sentence you highlighted as being 'really awful' and to my mind it makes perfect sense, so I'll respectfully await a second opinion there.

Hi Gurro,
After careful consideration of the ‘misusages’ I referred to above, as I consume my morning sausages and peruse the NYT. A ray of light has entered my erstwhile dim eyes. I now have a pretty good understanding and grok the context. I should have given the menu a closer examination and thus would have grabbed the right bottle of wine as the perfect complement to a sauce, my oversight entirely. Employment of those words still remains triply difficult but may gain acceptance, once conjuring up a blind eye. I might also add that the food servers lack description in the chapter. I will read the first two chapters with more cunning and understanding of the necessary stretch involved. Shite ‘n’ onions, I am capable of similar Faustian fustian where appropriate as scene herein. I shall offer an apology with lips pursed and put my hand to my cheek as if to say: my gosh! My house is not built of bricks, but it can withstand huffs and puffs.

Love your avatar by the way: spikey hair and ears.