PDA

View Full Version : The Circle **Content Warning**



Gold Bearer
April 22nd, 2017, 12:12 AM
These are the character intro chapters to an epic high fantasy story idea. I've had this in my head for a long time and have tried to start writing it before but I could never get what was in my head down on paper. I recently tried again and this is the result.

Doing this way means that the reader will be in no doubt as to who the 'chosen' ones are but I think it's worth it. It will make the characters easier to keep track of if the main characters have already been introduced.

I've never done any creative writing before. Let me know which one you liked most and least.


Synopsis:
Set in a rich and detailed world of magic, mythical creatures and skilled fighters, eight warriors of various backgrounds find that their fates are entwined after an event that heralds an ancient and almost forgotten prophecy, considered by most to be a myth, throws the future prosperity of the allied provinces of the vast empire know as The Circle into doubt.

In an epic journey of friendship, intrigue, discovery and danger, our protagonists must work together using their various skills, both mystical and otherwise, to fulfill their destinies and save their home from both known and unknown threats to its continued survival.




Alexandria


Two hundred men were anxiously waiting outside the front entrance to the crystal palace. As the huge opaque glass doors began to slowly swing open, the men were met by the welcome sight of two beautiful armoured women with swords at their waists and spears and shields on their backs.
"Follow us please."

The air felt cold yet refreshing, as if the palace's crystal architecture were somehow cleansing its surroundings. They were led down a hallway with statues of warrior women on either side. Although the statues were immaculately carved from marble, the men noticed that the weapons and armour were real, the same as that worn by their two buxom escorts. At the end of the hallway was an entrance to a large open room. On a raised level at the far side of the hall stood Armeena, the valkyrie queen. Six other valkyries stood slightly behind her, three on each side.

The valkyries' primary responsibility is to protect the Circle from the demonic threat of the Badlands, an area in which the mystical energies that emanate from it provide a kind of dimensional doorway, a weakness in the walls between realms and so is nearly always the place where demons emerge from. Many millions of attempts to cleanse the area over the millennia have all failed but the practice continues to this day for several reasons, not least of which is the thought that without the cleansing rituals, the situation would be far worse. It also serves to test the proficiencies of the priests attempting the cleansing. But for as long as the Badlands have been a demonic threat, there has been the valkyries, whose lineage extends back into many past ages and provides them with heightened strength and a natural resistance to the demonic energies of the area and of the demons themselves.

"Welcome to our palace." The queen had a soft but commanding voice. "Please line up into ten lines of twenty".

The valkyries walked between the men for a few minutes before meeting back on the slightly raised level and quietly discussing what they had seen. The men were all anxiously waiting for the verdict and before too long the queen spoke again,
"If you are touched on the shoulder then you have been chosen, good luck."

One of the men turned to the man on his left.
"Did you shave your chest?"
"Er, no" he said with a smile.

This is how the valkyries choose their mates for procreation. Thousands of men apply to be chosen for this honour and are brought forward in groups of a few hundred at a time to determine who will face the challenges of the trials in order to be seen as worthy to add their essence to the valkyries'. It's not that these men are especially lonely or frustrated, the Circle is not a judgemental place and there's plenty of love to be had. It's not that there's any shortage of beautiful women either, but the valkyries are especially attractive, regarded by most as angelic goddesses. This preliminary selection process is based only on appearance. This is to ensure that the valkyries are as physically attractive as possible, not for any notion of vanity but simply to encourage as many applicants as possible for just this type of occasion.

The woman spoke again,
"Those who have not been chosen, please leave the same way you came in and better luck next time, those who have been chosen, come with us!".

Alexandria had no real interest in the selection process itself, that wasn't why she always put herself forward to be one of the selectors. It was because she loved to fight and fighting for sport was prohibited among the valkyries. They fought each other in training almost every day but this allowed her to fight people that she didn't know and who use completely different styles. The men she chose were based on who she sensed were the best and most interesting fighters rather than who she found attractive.

The men were lead out into a large open, square courtyard with pillars holding up a stone roofed area around the perimeter.
"Now we see if you can fight!"

One of the men was ushered forward and given the same type of shield, wooden sword and blunted spear that the valkyries who were to fight them were equipped with. Alexandria stepped forward before anyone else could and cracked her shoulders before drawing her spear from her back with a broad smile. She'd been waiting for this for the past two years.



Eshra


Eshra's defeated opponent slowly got off the ground and on to his knees. Without getting up he nodded to Eshra and turned his back. Eshra then quickly thrust his rapier downwards with the point of entry at the base of the man's neck. He died instantly.

Pit fits are very different to the coliseum fights that take place directly above. Although deaths can, and frequently do accrue in the coliseum, the aim of those contests is simply to win. Below the coliseum is the biggest caged ring in the Circle, an arena with a different objective, survival. Two fighters go in, one comes out alive. A large metal grate baring the insignia of the circle marks the centre point of the coliseum arena and and the ceiling of the cage below, allowing the cage at times such as now, to be impressively illuminated with natural light when one of the suns is directly above.

Eshra walked over to his friend and unofficial coach but didn't sit down.
"I want to go again Coach, soon as possible."

If this was anyone else, Coach might have been surprised.
"You've made it known that you're willing to fight any opponent and now you want to fight two in a row. Do you have a death wish?"

Eshra had fought and won twenty-four fights before tonight and had thrown down the gauntlet to anyone who wished to challenge him after beating an opponent with an even more impressive record in his last fight.

Eshra smiled.
"Quite the opposite my friend. The pit isn't about death, it's about life. I never feel more alive than when I'm fighting to the death. I have a life wish."

Coach sighed.
"Fair enough. I'll see what I can arrange"

Eshra watched the next fight as Coach went to talk to another trainer. It didn't last long. One fighter had never been in the cage before and the other had fought twice. Sometimes people love the idea of competing at that level of intensity but tense up when it becomes a reality. The losing fighter hadn't exactly tensed up but he was trying not to lose rather than fighting to win, and it got him killed.

Eshra thought back to his first time in the ring three years ago. He was up against an opponent who had already won six times, convincingly. Everybody was expecting a cautious new fighter vs a confident opponent who would go on the offencive. Instead Eshra casually walked up to him with his sword still sheathed. He then draw his sword in the same motion as he blocked the swing of his opponent before breaking his knee cap with a low side kick and thrusting his sword underneath the chin and through the top of his opponent's head. The whole crowd had fallen silent, for about five or six seconds when they fully processed what they had just witnessed and rose to their feet, chanting his name. 'That was nothing' he had thought, 'wait till you see me when I actually need to try'.

After Eshra's second fight, against a much stronger opponent than the first, he never looked back. He had a huge reputation instantly and all his fights since had only enhanced it further. He was now known as Eshra The Invincible. Although this discouraged many fighters from wanting to face him in the cage, it also attracted the most skilled opponents looking to make an instant name for themselves by defeating him. This suited Eshra just fine.

Coach nodded to the dwarf woman he was talking to and made his way back to Eshra.
"Well, I've found an opponent who's willing to fight you. He's name is Erg, Erg The Ogre!"

"He feels the need to include the information that's he's an ogre in his cage name?"

"Apparently."

Erg The Ogre approached Eshra.
"You Eshra?"

"Me Eshra. You troll?"

"I'm Erg The Ogre!"

"Oh. Smell like troll." Coach was desperately trying not to laugh.

After a few seconds Erg The Ogre realised that he was being made fun of.
"You'll regret that!"

"How? If I lose I won't have time to regret it." Erg looked confused for a moment before wandering towards the cage while mumbling something under his breath.

"Having fun?" Coach asked.

Eshra just smiled. He cracked his neck and made his way to the cage.



Sara


The small forest elf patrol spread out from their tight formation and took up positions that would shield them from the view of whoever was heading in their direction. They were silently drawing their bows ready to unleash a hail of arrows when Sara came into view.
"I know you're there" she said in a raised voice. "Whats going on?"

The other elves left the cover, looking slightly agitated.
"Keep your voice down! There's well over two dozen goblins heading this way. We're heading back for reinforcements."

Sara didn't seem too concerned, she just paused for a moment.
"By the time we do that they might have left the forest. There's nine of us, we should take them out now."

They thought about it for a few moments before cautiously agreeing. They felt much stronger as group now that Sara was with them.

Shadowood Forest is a huge area of woodlands that borders the edge of the Circle on one side. Many thousands of elves live in semi-isolated settlements scattered throughout the woods, children of the forest they're often called. Sara never spent long in one settlement, preferring to spread her time throughout the entire forest. Any hostile intruders trying to use the Shadowood as way into the Circle have to not only navigate their way through the dense thicket while avoiding giant spiders and many other wild creatures, but also evade the elven settlements and their patrols.

"Three groups of three then?" Asked Sara.

The others agreed, with two of the scouts taking up positions directly beside her and the two other groups forming either side of them.

The forest elves have no strict hierarchy but age tends to be an unofficial status of rank with the elders usually making the decisions that affect the the community as a whole. Sara isn't quite the oldest in this group but she holds far more respect than her age would normally grant a forest child.

As they neared the enemy, they took cover and waited until the goblins were in sight of all nine of them and then let loose their arrows. Sara immediately followed up with an energy spell that struck and floored three that were in a row as she dashed in and struck down the closest goblin.

Sara isn't a powerful magician but there had been an increasing number of goblin intruders over they past week or so she had been storing her energy for just this kind of situation. She liked using magic but equally enjoyed swordplay and archery.

Despite killing one goblin with her bow before stunning three others with the spell and then dispatching a fifth with her sword all withing a few seconds, most of them had now already been dispatched with arrows. The three that had been briefly stunned plus a few others tried to run away but all except for one that was now out of sight were taken down by the elves' arrows. Sara, being the closest, ran after the last goblin. She rounded the corner, took careful aim and launched an arrow straight into the back of the goblin's neck.

"Take a look at this!" Sara heard from behind her. She moved back towards the others to see what they had found.

"There." One of the elves was using his sword to point to war paint on one of the fallen goblin's arm. It was a symbol of the spider tribe. Only fairly high ranking members of the tribe wore this pattern so it wasn't known until now which tribe the recent goblin intruders belonged to.

"Wonderful." Sara said, meaning the exact opposite.

The spider tribe is one one the largest known goblin tribes and definitely the most aggressive.

"We should get ba...""Shh!" Sara interrupted, holding up her hand to signal the others to keep quiet. "Do you hear that?" she whispered.

The others listened intently and then a look of recognition came over one of the other elves' faces, then another. They nodded.
"Trees!" Sara whispered as she made her way up to near the top of the nearest tree.

They could all hear what she heard now, voices. The nine elves made their way gracefully and almost silently through the tree tops until they caught sight of the source of the voices. There were too many goblins to count. They quickly changed direction and took to the ground again as soon as it was safe so they could sprint to the nearest settlement and raise the proverbial alarm.



Rain


After stirring, on the verge of waking up, Rain felt Tarja's arm wrap around him as a warm gentle breeze from the open window greeted his return to the waking world. Elves don't need a great deal of sleep but he hadn't rested for a while so had decided to sprawl out for an hour or so.
"Hello beautiful." he said smiling.

Seeing that he was awake, the palace panther jumped down off the bed and sat on the floor. Rain briefly rubbed the side of her neck as he walked over to the washbasin to freshen up and playfully flicked water at her. She sneezed and padded over to the window, starring affectionately at what she saw below.

The palace is situated right at the heart of the Centre Circle, which itself is situated at the heart of the Inner Circle, at the heart of the Circle itself. As big as a large town, it wasn't exactly clear where the palace ended and the outside started. It was built, like much of the architecture in the Circle, as a continuum rather than as a definite and well defined structure.

Rain went over to the window to check the time by looking at the sky, the fresh aroma of the bakery reached his nose, 'hmm, I love that smell'. He saw Tarissa in the courtyard just below practising for the archery tournament being held later in the day so he left his room and made his way down to see the other important lady in his life.

"Afternoon sis." he said to his twin.

"Good sleep?"

"Yea until Tarja woke me. I needed to get up anyway, they'll be here soon."

"Ah the burdens of being emperor."

Tarissa had set up a a target in the courtyard a while back so that she didn't didn't have to go to the range to practice. She preferred practising alone most of the time and she had always loved this courtyard.

"How's practice going?" Rain asked.

"Good. I might actually beat her this time, I'm tired of always coming in second."

"Well, stranger things have happened I suppose." he said with a feigned look of disbelief on his face.

"Thanks for the support." she replied, half agitated, half amused.

"Why would you want to be the best? If there were no such thing as forest elves you'd be no better with a bow than you are now, worse in fact because you wouldn't have had as much motivation to up your game."

Rain cocked his head slightly while looking at her bow.
"I think you bent it, you've overused it. You need a new one." he said as he took the bow from her.

"No they're supposed to have that curve in them. That's how they're designed."

She took the bow back, looked at the target and then looked back at Rain while drawing an arrow, pulling the bow back and launching the arrow straight into the centre of the target.

Rain fought hard not to show how impressed he was to keep the banter going.
"Alissia would have done it without having to recheck the target before looking away."

Tarissa just looked at him, part amused, but mostly agitated.

Rain dropped the pretence.
"That was awesome! Pity there's no looking away while shooting category in the tournament."

"You could make it a category."

"Should I make it a rule that those whose name starts with a T get a hundred points to begin with?"

Tarissa looked thoughtful, as if actually contemplating the idea.

"The knights are here" a loud voice said from a balcony above them.

Rain nodded up at the balcony.
"They're early. You coming?"

"Nah, I'm going to practice some more. I'm in the zone."

"Okay, I'll let you know if there was any exciting news."

Rain made his way to the meeting hall and sat in his usual chair.

"What's going on my peeps?" he said to the elven knights.

"Nothing to really report." said Kriss, commander of the knights.

"You came all the way here to tell me that? I know it was a scheduled meeting but you could have just told me that through a crystal."

"That's not why we're here." Cassandra said with a grin. "We brought someone with us who you've been wanting to meet and we had to see it."

Rain knew straight away who she was referring to.
"Let's go." he said with great anticipation.

They went straight to the arena, where a crowd, including Tarissa, was gathered. Markus was standing in the centre of the ring. He bowed his head slightly.
"Emperor." he said with respect.

Rain was a legendary fencer and Markus was an up and coming fencer who had won all his his fights so far against the some of the very best of opponents. Rain had heard of Markus' exploits about three months ago and was keeping track of his results. A month ago Rain had officially challenged him to a friendly match.

"Markus." Rain said with equal respect as he moved into position and raised his foil to signal that he was ready. Markus did the same.



Celina


Eastmore Palace is very different from the much larger and more modern looking Central Palace. Its architecture is Gothic in design, part of it heavily resembles an enormous cathedral. It serves as the home to the Eastmore royal family, a base for their knights and as a temple to the paladins of that province.

"We've waited long enough." Celina said as she mounted her horse. She rode out of the palace gates with a retinue of the king's knights.

Each province within the Circle is ruled by its own monarchy. Princess Celina is the king's niece, who unlike his own children, possesses the gift of healing. Being a paladin like himself, as well as his best warrior lead the king to appoint her as commander of the royal knights.

Celina and the knights reached the orchard and dismounted. They saw a half filled basket of apples tipped over on it's side. They were here because one of the palace maids had left earlier to collect fruit and hadn't returned.

"Blood!" shouted one of the knights. Celina saw a faint trail leading from the basket to where the knight was standing. She checked around the blood and saw no other sign of a struggle.

"She was taken from above. Looks like the Dragon Spine Mountains have a new resident." Celina said with a sigh looking to the mountains in the distance. This was no longer a rescue mission. "Mount up."

When they reached Tilverford they headed straight for the mayor's office. As Celina entered she saw the mayor was already making his way towards the door to meet them.

"Are you here about the griffin?" He asked. "I've just now told the palace about it. It was swooping around the town but our archers managed to fend it off."

Celina's crystal hummed as she received the same message from the palace. "So it's a griffin. We're here because a palace maid hadn't returned and when we saw where she'd been taken from we figured it must be something like that. Did it head towards the mountains when you fought it off?"

"Yes. We've already gathered some of the town guard, they could accompany you."

"No." Celina replied. "You might need them here in case it comes back with some friends. I'm here with twenty royal knights, that should do it."

"Thank you your highness. I'd feel much better with them remaining here."

"Don't call me that." said Celina as she turned and headed for the door.

"Sorry Celina, I forgot."

"It's at least one griffin!" Celina exclaimed as she remounted her horse. They we met with grateful cheers as they rode out of Tilverford and headed for the Dragon Spine Mountains.

They took the horses as far as they could towards the base of the closest mountain known to contain a large enough cave to house a griffin. They then saw two griffins heading for an adjacent mountain. When they reached its first cave they saw large feathers by the entrance. They draw their weapons as they entered the cave. They carefully proceeded into the dark, the only illumination emanating from the torch of the knight closest to Celina at the front. They rounded the first corner to see three griffins charging towards them.



Eli


Eli ran through the patterns he was to perform so that they were fresh in his mind. Patterns are a long predetermined sequence of movements strung together that are used to practice and evaluate technique and movement between techniques. He grabbed his bow as he left his Centre Circle home to make his way to the training hall just as a group of elven knights accompanied by one human rode past.
'On their way to the Central Palace.' he thought.

The elven guard are the most numerous elite elven militia in the Circle. Elves tend to excel at archery and magic and so these skills are focused on more by the elven guard than they are in the human militias. Although magicians have their own schools, there are other forms of magical aptitude including casting spells from items such as scrolls and wands and developing magical resistance. Having recently turned eighteen, Eli was about to be tested for advancement from the cadets to become a full member of the guard.

Despite not being at all late, he was the last cadet to arrive. The other forty-nine cadets were forming into lines ready to start as he entered the hall so he took the last place on the back row. Irencis, the head of the entire guard, and his four lieutenants bowed to the cadets who then bowed in return. Being from the Centre Circle meant that these cadets are in the jurisdiction of the most senior instructor.

Although the Centre Circle is at the furthest point from the circle border where they are needed, there are various teleporters throughout the circle that serve to connect distant regions and around half are situated in the Centre Circle. These ancient circular stone platforms with curved stone pillars around their edge allow for easy access to all provinces and ensures that reinforcements are available wherever they're needed.

Irencis took the cadets through some unarmed techniques before moving on to sword techniques. Eli breezed through without any problems. After the initial section of the evaluation was over Irencis lead them outside to the courtyard where magicians of various types were waiting. Irencis adressed the cadets.
"You know the drill. Try to stay on your feet while being blasted with low powered spells."

Eli went down twice, about average. Next the cadets had to fend off the effects of more indirect spells such as sleep and charm spells. This is where Eli had always shined. He shrugged off the various spells with very little effort while most of the other cadets struggled. Three cadets even actually fell asleep, an instant fail.

Next up was scroll casting. Eli chose a lightning spell, he'd had good results with that spell before. He looked at his wooden target before reading the scroll and feeling the energy transfer to his mind. He immediately physicalised it, feeling the energy in his head and channelling it down his right arm and through his hand to hit the person shaped target square between what would be its eyes. 'Bulls-eye!' He handed the spent scroll to the back to the magician for later recharging. He chose the same spell for the wand test and hit the centre of the target.
"Now archery, for those who are still awake." Irencis said with a smile. Nobody had bothered to wake them up.

Eli never had any problems with a bow and he performed well above average. Thirty-two cadets remained after the archery section was over.
"Well done cadets." Irencis told the remaining participants. "Now patterns."

Eli went through the patterns he'd practised earlier and did them to higher standard than most of the others. He had sharp techniques and always enjoyed the feel of going through a pattern, it felt much more spiritual than individual techniques or short combinations.
"Okay, now unarmed sparring, pair up."

Eli lost more than he won and was hoping he'd done enough in the earlier sections to see him through. He knew that it would all depend on how well he performed in the final section, weapons sparring. After the single sword section he knew that he would really have to perform well with the double swords. Luckily he always preferred using two swords, he felt half naked with just one. He was doing okay but not as well as he'd hoped. One of the other cadets lost too many fights and was eliminated, leaving an odd number of cadets for the last round of sparring, and of the evaluation.
"Eli, you'll spar me."

Eli and Irencis bowed to each other took up a fighting stance.



Ashara


It had been an hour since Ashara had taken the brew when she headed to the sacred stones and she had begun to see spirit entities moving around her. She looked up at the sky as she was walking and saw that the usual vista was now alive with ribbons of energy connecting the large celestial bodies.

Vision quests are a common practice throughout all the shamanic tribes, and also in the general population of the Circle to a lesser extent. Ashara is the only member of the soul stream tribe to have elven blood and so needs a much stronger dose to initiate the experience but it tends to have a greater effect because of it. Although she looks completely human, Ashara is a half-elf. Hybrids are rare not only because elves and humans have trouble conceiving but also because, like mules which are half horse, half donkey and can only procreate with other mules, half-elves can only procreate with other half-elves.

When she arrived at the sacred stones Chief Spirit Walker, or Big Chief Sits On His Arse A Lot as Ashara likes to call him, was sitting in a meditative posture in the centre of the ring of huge stone pillars. She sat down in front of him in the same posture, put her staff down in front of her and smiled.
"Are you ready?" he asked.

"I am."

Big Chief Sits On His Arse A Lot handed Ashara the pipe and she exhaled to empty her lungs before taking a long deep hit of the pipe. This would have been more than enough for any other member of the tribe to break through but not her. She exhaled and put her hands on the ground behind her so that she could lean back. The chief was packing the pipe for the next hit while Ashara was looking at the worlds and stars in the sky that now all seemed to be connected in a beautiful cosmic dance. She took the second hit and felt the warm sensation in the pit of her stomach rising up the front of her body. When it reached her head she began to hear the hum. The bubble of warmness stopped at the top of her head and the hum intensified as it built up pressure on the underneath of her skull. Then with a deafening thunder clap her soul was catapulted out of her body into a higher dimensional level of reality.

What happens from this point on is indescribable. When a soul returns to their body after this kind of trip the mind has to process the experience and integrate it by using substitutes that are familiar to that mind. A lot of the experience is lost during this process but it's the only way that it can be understood on any level once it's over. This is how Ashara remembered it after returning to her physical body.

After being catapulted out of her physical inner realm Ashara was flying through a tunnel of light. It was moving too fast for her to make out forms in the light but she could sense that it had them. After just a few seconds (milliseconds in 'real' time) she reached the familiar patterned membrane. It resembled an impossibly intricate stain glassed window. This is the point that the soul needs to get past for the so called 'break through'. After that is where the journey really begins.

Beautiful higher dimensional shapes rotated around her and began to form into roughly person shaped entities. She felt an overwhelming feeling of love and familiarity. She had come home again to the place where all souls exist both before and after death and both at the same time. Linear time has no meaning hear but the mind orders the experience into a chronological order as best it can when the soul returns. The spirits communicated telepathically with her, welcoming her and asking her what she seeked.

'Guidence' she thought. 'I feel like there's something important that I should be doing.'

'There is,' responded the spirits 'but it hasn't started yet. It's about to.'

'What should I do?'

'Be ready.'

'How?'

Most of the spirits faded slightly onto the distance while one grew in intensity and seemed to solidify. A staff of pure energy grew in the spirit's hands and Ashara found that she was holding her own staff. The spirit entity attacked.



Cassandra


As Rain and the elven knights stood up and headed for the hallway leading to the stairs to make their way to the courtyard, Cassandra's crystal began to hum. The fact that it was humming rather than glowing meant that it was an important message. She held it in her hand to receive the message.
"I have to leave, and miss the fight." she said with a sigh. "It's urgent."

Rain nodded his head towards the teleporter in the corner, indicating she should take the fast route. Cassandra stood on the stone circle and activated it. The interior of the central palace meeting hall was replaced by sky and the parameter walls at the top of the seer tower in her home province. She hurried down the short flight of stair to the floor directly below and was about to enter the grand seer's office when she heard a man's voice from within the room. She quietly moved closer to the door and turned her head to listen. She could now hear the grand seer speaking.
"It's definitely Cassandra, and she won't go down quietly. Call the rest of the troops, we should get to the roof."

The grand seer and whoever she was talking to obviously weren't expecting Cassandra to be standing a few feet away from a teleporter when she got the message in her crystal. Cassandra kicked the door open with enough force for them to swing back so they opened out into the hallway by the time she had walked in with her hand on the handle of her sword. The grand seer and a warrior that Cassandra didn't recognise were standing over the desk as if reading something. The grand seer quickly took the scroll and threw it in the fireplace. Cassandra could see a list of words before the scroll burned but couldn't make them out except for one, her name.
"Catch you fuckers at a bad time?"

The grand seer made her escape through the side door as the warrior drew his axe and charged at Cassandra. She took a step backwards and slammed the door closed as he was about to reach her. He stumbled back but didn't fall. Cassandra was running back up the stairs when he opened the doors again. When she reached the roof she waited just behind a large statue close to the door. When the warrior came through the door she kicked the statue over so that it slammed the door shut and prevented it from being opened again.
"You going to tell me what was on that scroll?"

He charged at her again.



As you can see, each chapter ends with a fight that's about to start (Sara's will begin with the goblin attack). The next chapter will be the fights, going through each in turn a few times before the fights are over. I know ot's a little strange that they all happen to be fighting at the same time but they are bound together by fate so it's okay. :)

Ptolemy
April 22nd, 2017, 04:35 AM
The big thing I'll give you is your use of dialogue. It's very stilted and overwrought when there is no need to. There is no passion, no character to any of it. They all talk the same, in the same tone, in the same vacuum. I'll use this exchange for example:

How's practice going?" he asked. There is no set up for this line whatsoever. You flip from a description of the palace to the practice of archery with a snap. Which doesn't allow the reader to digest and understand you description of the palace, now we are given this new plot point out of the blue that one of the twins is decent at archery.

"Good. I might actually beat her this time." Never play the pronoun game here. It's a sloppy way to build tension and you don't even use it to put in some tension, you just tell us that Tarissa is second to Alissia. It's basically a throwaway line with no pay off. Also it's overwrought like I said, you lose a chance to build character and a relationship between them, you tell us there is a relationship, but you never show us this relation ship. If you maybe parsed it out like this:

"How's practice going?" he asked (put a throwaway line here to build character, like a quirk. Have him fiddle with Tarissa's bow or something.)

"Good."

"Good enough to have a shot against Alissia?"

(I don't know where they are in the palace I'll assume they are on a practice range) Tarissia snatched the bow from him, drew an arrow and loaded it into the bow. She took a huffed breath and focused it at a target. With her piercing eyes trained on Rain, she let the arrow fly with a flamboyant flick of her wrist. Rain rolled his eyes at the perfect ten, "Alissia would have done a pirouette before letting it go."

Tarissa was the second best archer in the entire Circle, she nearly always came second behind a forest elf named Alissia. (Cut this line, the description is nothing but useless. Show this, (as I did above) don't tell us this. There is no need)

"The knights are here" a loud voice said from a balcony above them. (Dang, the plot moved fast here, who are these knights? Why are they here? Why is there no plot pusher to push the story forward? Why does this dialogue exist outside of just ending the scene with Tarissa? See, the dialogue is just a cheap way to move the plot forward. Have Rain say that there are knights or something, or hell, have it in the opening description that there was a crusade against the elves planned today or something just to establish the plot and allow it to flow.)

"They're early. You coming?" (Stilted. Very stilted. See, this has no character as the lines before and proceeding it. Have him be surprised. Show that he was suprised. Hell you don't even have to have to show us this. Have him think it. i.e "They're early, Rain thought."then have him parlay that into asking Tarissa to join him. Have him say "Interested?" or something like that.)

"No I'm going to practice for a bit longer." (Have her stutter and contenplate like any regular being would. Unless we are dead set on a choice, (which this one is not, it is out of the bleu) we rarely auto answer the question with either 'yes' or 'no' have her say: "Eh..." Tarissa considered (like the ability to practice on the knights or some other fluffy stuff here), "I think I'm going to practice some more."

"Okay, I'll let you know if there was any exciting news." (Again, stilted. Needs more umph and a response from Tarissa)

"I don't know... knights can make pretty decent target practice." He coaxed and shrugged.

"I'd prefer a stationary target."

"Alright. Alright. Your loss."

Rain made his way to the meeting hall and sat in his usual chair.

"What's going on my peeps?" he said to the elven knights. (eh. I don't like this line. I think it's due to your lack of character development, without my edits we are not given any inclination that Rain is this, Down to Earth, Chillaxed dude who is with it. So the use of informal "peeps" seems very out of place. With the edits, "peeps" still doesn't make sense, they are not people, they are elves. Say like "what's going on my elven brethren?" or something more immersive. It kills the suspension of disbelief.

"Nothing to really report." one of them reported. ​(You already said report, no need for "reported")

Gold Bearer
April 22nd, 2017, 09:12 AM
The big thing I'll give you is your use of dialogue. It's very stilted and overwrought when there is no need to. There is no passion, no character to any of it. They all talk the same, in the same tone, in the same vacuum.I see your point. I decided early on that I would give a rich description of the circle gradually because that's inanimate but I wouldn't give physical descriptions of the characters or be too specific about the tone they use when speaking so that the reader would be free to decide for themselves, but I think I overdid it. I do love the interaction you wrote between Rain and Tarissa.

They're in the courtyard just below some of the rooms including Rain's. He was in his room when he looked out the window and saw her practicing. She's put a target up so she can practice on her own and without having to go to the range.

I introduced Alissia because she, along with Irencis and Kriss (leader of the elf knights) are characters I have in mind to play an important role.

The hello my peeps line is meant as Rain being tongue in cheek, which in itself shows that he is quite chillaxed.

Elves are people too, let's not be racist. :) Although I don't like the sound of human so maybe people should only refer to them. It's a thought.

The ""Nothing to really report." one of them reported." is meant as a micro-joke, nothing to report is a report in itself.

With the balcony bit I thought that mentioning that "they'll be hear soon" and then someone on the balcony shouting down that the knights are here gives all the relevant plot information that's needed and shows that the palace is a very relaxed place rather than overly formal.

What did you think of the Eli and Ashara chapters? There's very little dialogue, Eli doesn't have a single line.

This is very much a first attempt. I haven't edited it at all (apart from a bit with the last chapter) other than to correct mistakes. If you view it as a draft to build around do you like it in that context?

I really appreciate the feedback and would welcome some more from yourself and others. That's exactly what I need.

Ptolemy
April 22nd, 2017, 02:52 PM
I see your point. I decided early on that I would give a rich description of the circle gradually because that's inanimate but I wouldn't give physical descriptions of the characters or be too specific about the tone they use when speaking so that the reader would be free to decide for themselves, but I think I overdid it. I do love the interaction you wrote between Rain and Tarissa. (I see your point too, the thing is, dialogue is one of the first things I parse through in a story/novel/book, because of it's ability to not only dramatically shift, but influence the overall progression of the story. The problem about not using "tone" with dialogue and letting the reader decide is that there is nothing for the reader to go off of with it. Readers do not just place a unique voice on a character, they are guided to that unique voice by us, the writer, while we do not want to tell them straight up what they sound like, we want to insinuate it. For example, I'll compare yours and my conversation between Tarissa and Rain. The thing is, there is no real tone with yours. I mean, we get the "hints" that Rain is supposed to be this chill, cool dude, but it is never really expounded. You just have them talk in a vacuum with no real plot and it's mostly fluff. Dialogue needs to either A.) Build character, B.) Push the plot, or C.) Set a scene. I'm not saying your dialogue is useless though, it falls under both A and B, it's just that the dialogue is not parsed out enough to fully fall under A and B. Whereas in my attempt of an edit, I used showing to show a little "tongue and cheek" character development with the Alissia quip, and I also shortened the dialogue too. IF you write 10 worded dialogue, but you can get your point across in 5, use 5. It allows the reader to move quickly and realistically through the scene as they move on. The longer the dialogue (outside of like a speech or conference or something that requires long dialogue) the less important it becomes to the reader. I'm not saying don't have long dialogue. I'm saying, if you can get your point across faster use it. Instead of saying "Good. I might actually beat her this time." I just simply said, "Good." because it insinuates that Tarissa is more focused on her training than Rain's question, which shows that she is dedicated to beating Alissia when that mic drop scene comes later on. Also, it allows you to slow down the pacing a tad before the rising action of the knights showing up by having Rain respond and make a quip later on. So, instead of saying, "Good. I might..." Simply saying "Good." opens up the opportunity to not only build character but actually elongate the scene.)

They're in the courtyard just below some of the rooms including Rain's. He was in his room when he looked out the window and saw her practicing. She's put a target up so she can practice on her own and without having to go to the range. (Yea, I just saw that on my reread. My bad on not being observant, I do suggest maybe expounding on what and why (which is what you did here, but not in the story) she set up in the courtyard. It may be an opportunity to build Tarissa's character arc)

I introduced Alissia because she, along with Irencis and Kriss (leader of the elf knights) are characters I have in mind to play an important role. (That makes sense too, It's just that they have no real point to the plot right now. That is why I wouldn't want you to blatantly explain who they are and dedicating an entire paragraph break to them. The only one with only real need to be explain upon is Irencis since he actually plays a part in Eli's plot. I didn't see a Kriss, and we can insinuate on Alissia without directly mentioning why she is an opponent for Tarissa. My suggestion is clue, (as you tried to do with Alissia) but don't expound so much on it, (like you did with Alissia) the whole bit with Irencis was fine, it just lacked any character really.)

The hello my peeps line is meant as Rain being tongue in cheek, which in itself shows that he is quite chillaxed. (I assumed that too, the thing is, there is no set up to the line. With my more character driven edits, it kinda fits in there, but with the orignal, suddenly showing that Rain is a chilled guy when he talks like a telemarketer doesn't really flow. It makes the reader stop and think "Did this elf just say 'peeps'? when we are given no acknowledgment of him being chill?" at least that's what I said in my head.)

Elves are people too, let's not be racist. :) (:-o) Although I don't like the sound of human so maybe people should only refer to them. It's a thought. (I would suggest this)

The ""Nothing to really report." one of them reported." is meant as a micro-joke, nothing to report is a report in itself. (It's not set up like a micro joke though due to it being in the narration. Readers are not going to see it as a micro-joke they will see it as a mistake with you using two of the same tags right after another. You may see it as a joke, sure, but on the outside looking in it looks like an error. If it was like "I report that there is nothing to report." then yea, that could be a tongue and cheek joke right there. But having the "joke" bit being in the narration really takes the reader out of the story.)

With the balcony bit I thought that mentioning that "they'll be hear soon" and then someone on the balcony shouting down that the knights are here gives all the relevant plot information that's needed and shows that the palace is a very relaxed place rather than overly formal. (I don't really understand this comment, so you wanted to orignally have Tarissa or Rain (probably Rain) say "they'll be hear soon." then boom balcony dude with the initial conflict? I do know with that either, it just seems contrived for a joke in all honesty and may be seen as cheap or overwrought with coincidence. The thing is just saying, "The Knights are here." doesn't give the readers all of the plot information needed, while you do not need to state the plot outright. I think maybe a quick line or two from Rain that is plot centric may help push that along. Also, I'll state this again: The plot comes up very very quickly. In all honesty, on the outside, it looked as if you were actually trying to end the Tarissa and Rain convo scene and you needed a way out of it. So you decided to throw in the plot as an accelerator. I don't personally like using the plot as a device to move characters out of scenes, and it has been used before quite effectively, but it's just here it comes out of nowhere.)

What did you think of the Eli and Ashara chapters? There's very little dialogue, Eli doesn't have a single line. (Out of all of them, I think I liked Eli's the best, maybe it's due to the lack of dialogue or maybe it's due to having some decent plot centric information that is spewed out. The thing with Ashara's is that it isn't visual enough. It's a drug trip make us feel like we are experiencing a drug trip. You got some real meat and bones there but using "What happens from this point on is indescribable" feels like a cop out. In Eli's I feel maybe hold back on telling us the plot centric exposition and showing us the plot centric exposition.)

This is very much a first attempt. I haven't edited it at all (apart from a bit with the last chapter) other than to correct mistakes. If you view it as a draft to build around do you like it in that context? (I feel like it's an alright baseline for a collection of short stories. While I don't personally see it as a highfalutin conjoined 100k word novel right now due to there being so many characters and many different plots. Maybe if you put enough effort and work into it you could make this into a series of Novellas or something around there. I feel like there is definitely something to work on though and I encourage you to keep working on it. For a first attempt it isn't half bad.)

I really appreciate the feedback and would welcome some more from yourself and others. That's exactly what I need.

Gold Bearer
April 22nd, 2017, 03:15 PM
This post will be used for writing experiments and to get feedback.

JustRob
April 22nd, 2017, 03:18 PM
I haven't seriously read this thread yet but just casting my eyes over it led me to sense some things. It's how I read, just letting the words seep into my mind initially and then going back to get the precise meaning where parts seem fuzzy.

This is high fantasy, so I can't make any assumptions about what race any of your characters belong to. Hence I would expect that to be a piece of information that appeared very early and unambiguously in each of their introductions so that I could form an initial image of them in my mind. It's a nuisance if one assumes that a character is human, then has to resize them to dwarf or giant proportions or add wings that weren't there before. The story should paint a picture in the reader's mind that doesn't need too much later alteration unless you do it intentionally for impact. As an example, Alexandria turns out to be a valkyrie quite quickly but I'd rather have had a clearer indication of that instead of having to deduce it from the context. Equally from a superficial glance I have no idea what Sara is yet. Also in the section about Alexandria a "woman" is mentioned, but is that a human woman as all the valkyries are female by definition, aren't they? Using the distinct term "woman" there implies not a valkyrie but a human. which seems odd, but maybe what you intended.

You are using the present tense as well as the past tense. I'm not sure how well that will work out for you in the long run. It's probably safer to use the past tense everywhere unless you are really mentioning things that are eternally true. Stories, by being told, tend to be regarded as being about things past unless they are written in the first person. Is that what you plan to do? I'm not saying that the mixed tenses can't work, just that I wouldn't try to do it.

As I was speed reading, in fact barely "reading" as such at all, I sensed an excess of words for the meaning that I was getting. I'd have to read it properly to work out why I had that feeling, but maybe a couple of examples would be in "The valkyries walked between the men for a few minutes before meeting back on the slightly raised level and quietly discussing what they had seen." I'm not one for banning all adverbs but here "slightly" and "quietly" just make it a longer sentence, as does "for a few minutes". These are all measures of degree rather than positive statements about anything at a point where such minutiae don't matter. Let me try writing the same sentence.

"Having briefly walked between the men the valkyries returned to the dais to share their observations."

I won't say that that is better or even adequate for your purpose but I have said almost as much as you did in sixteen words instead of twenty-five. The next step would be to replace the words that provide no new information, like "valkyries" and "men" with ones that add more colour to the scene, so maybe using "winged hosts" and "suitors" instead. Valkyries do have wings, don't they, only I didn't notice whether you told us that, so maybe I have the wrong image of them?

Another example would be that "Nothing to really report" report. Apart from splitting the infinitive, which I know is more acceptable nowadays since people started "to boldly go", the "really" really does nothing. While we're here, Ptolemy has already implied that he didn't take your reporting micro-joke as such, and I would suggest that that is partly because you were drawing attention to yourself as the writer by doing it. Anything in the narrative is attributable to the writer while anything in dialogue is attributable to the character speaking, so for example dialogue can even be ungrammatical but narrative can't. In this case it is actually legitimate for a character to split an infinitive if that is what they would do, but the superfluous word doesn't bring out their character here, so is wasted. A tutor in English literature once told me that I had failed to use the subjunctive in some dialogue, so I pointed out to him that a lot of English speakers don't in normal conversation and he accepted that. Returning to your joke, had the repetition of the word "report" appeared within dialogue then the joke might have worked and even if it didn't the character would be blamed for having a lame sense of humour rather than you the writer. So, as I too like including lame jokes in my writing I might have written something like this.

"Report!"
"Nothing to report."
"That's your entire report?"
"Yes sir."
"So you did have something to report."
The underling slunk away feeling guilty for apparently having made something out of nothing, but that was how the chain of authority worked.

On the other hand, I don't think I would have bothered with it at all unless I had wanted to imply a degree of pedantic stupidity amongst this group of characters.

This is my idea of a few brief passing comments, which may explain why I seldom have time to comment at length. And here's me suggesting that you use fewer words? Really!

P.S.
I still don't think these introductions of the characters are a good idea, not as they stand at present.

Gold Bearer
April 23rd, 2017, 12:55 AM
I edited the revision I made to the Rain chapter two posts above using some of the suggestions and introducing Kriss. Hopefully it helps sell the later 'peeps' line as well. I'm assuming you gave that chapter the most attention because you thought it was the weakest but maybe it was just the one you happened to choose. I'll wait until I've revised the rest before posting a second draft.

I've decided not to use people as a human only term. If I replace the two instances of human with person (He grabbed his bow as he left his Centre Circle home to make his way to the training hall just as a group of elven knights accompanied by one person rode past. / Although she looks completely like a person, Ashara is a half-elf. Hybrids are rare not only because elves and people have trouble conceiving...) it sounds really wrong.

It also makes the peeps line (I do really like that line although you might disagree) work, they are his peeps, elves.


"I see your point too, the thing is, dialogue is one of the first things I parse through in a story/novel/book, because of it's ability to not only dramatically shift, but influence the overall progression of the story. The problem about not using "tone" with dialogue and letting the reader decide is that there is nothing for the reader to go off of with it. Readers do not just place a unique voice on a character, they are guided to that unique voice by us, the writer, while we do not want to tell them straight up what they sound like, we want to insinuate it."

Yea I see what you're saying. I need to figure out how to do that well.


"I don't really understand this comment, so you wanted to orignally have Tarissa or Rain (probably Rain) say "they'll be hear soon." then boom balcony dude with the initial conflict? I do know with that either, it just seems contrived for a joke in all honesty and may be seen as cheap or overwrought with coincidence. The thing is just saying, "The Knights are here." doesn't give the readers all of the plot information needed, while you do not need to state the plot outright. I think maybe a quick line or two from Rain that is plot centric may help push that along. Also, I'll state this again: The plot comes up very very quickly. In all honesty, on the outside, it looked as if you were actually trying to end the Tarissa and Rain convo scene and you needed a way out of it. So you decided to throw in the plot as an accelerator. I don't personally like using the plot as a device to move characters out of scenes, and it has been used before quite effectively, but it's just here it comes out of nowhere."

Hopefully it reads better now? I'm not sure what you mean about the contrived joke/coincidence. What joke/coincidence?


"The thing with Ashara's is that it isn't visual enough. It's a drug trip make us feel like we are experiencing a drug trip. You got some real meat and bones there but using "What happens from this point on is indescribable" feels like a cop out."

It's based on real experiences. With DMT there's no 'high' so that might be why it's not selling to you as a drug trip and 'What happens from this point on is indescribable' might seem like a cop out but it's the truth so it would be a cop out to not explicitly state that.


"In Eli's I feel maybe hold back on telling us the plot centric exposition and showing us the plot centric exposition."

How? Could you elaborate on that please?


"I feel like it's an alright baseline for a collection of short stories. While I don't personally see it as a highfalutin conjoined 100k word novel right now due to there being so many characters and many different plots. Maybe if you put enough effort and work into it you could make this into a series of Novellas or something around there. I feel like there is definitely something to work on though and I encourage you to keep working on it. For a first attempt it isn't half bad."

Thank you. I'll be joining the characters together after the next chapter through a big event that affects the whole circle so hopefully it will seem like a more coherent piece with much more potential after that. Cassandra's chapter starts to set it up.


"This is high fantasy, so I can't make any assumptions about what race any of your characters belong to. Hence I would expect that to be a piece of information that appeared very early and unambiguously in each of their introductions so that I could form an initial image of them in my mind. It's a nuisance if one assumes that a character is human, then has to resize them to dwarf or giant proportions or add wings that weren't there before. The story should paint a picture in the reader's mind that doesn't need too much later alteration unless you do it intentionally for impact."

They're human unless it's stated otherwise. I might need to be clearer about this but I don't the work human in a fantasy setting so I was hoping that it would be implied if no other race is given.


"As an example, Alexandria turns out to be a valkyrie quite quickly but I'd rather have had a clearer indication of that instead of having to deduce it from the context."

Maybe I should add a short first paragraph describing the crystal palace so that the reader knows they're valkyries right from the start, or move the paragraph explaining their role. I kind of like the way it starts now though.


"Equally from a superficial glance I have no idea what Sara is yet."

Shes a forest elf (not a distinct race).

Alexandria: Human Valkyrie
Eshra: Human Warrior (Pit Fighter)
Sara: Elven er, mixture, Ranger I suppose is the closest
Rain: Elven Swashbuckler/Sword Fighter
Celina: Human Paladin
Eli: Elf Magicalish Warrior (Soldier)
Ashara: Half-Elven Battle Shaman
Cassandra: Elven Knight


"Also in the section about Alexandria a "woman" is mentioned, but is that a human woman as all the valkyries are female by definition, aren't they? Using the distinct term "woman" there implies not a valkyrie but a human. which seems odd, but maybe what you intended."

No, mine are human but part of a unique bloodline. I think of valkyrie as a class, not a race, but I think that's just because of my own limited contact with the term valkyrie. They're warriors of the gods in mythology and although I didn't want to use gods I used the theme in the sense that they are an ancient bloodline of demon slayers.


"You are using the present tense as well as the past tense. I'm not sure how well that will work out for you in the long run. It's probably safer to use the past tense everywhere unless you are really mentioning things that are eternally true. Stories, by being told, tend to be regarded as being about things past unless they are written in the first person. Is that what you plan to do? I'm not saying that the mixed tenses can't work, just that I wouldn't try to do it."

I decided before hand to use present tense, a few stay past tenses must have slipped in unnoticed. I'll check through it for the second draft.


"As I was speed reading, in fact barely "reading" as such at all, I sensed an excess of words for the meaning that I was getting."

I actually thought I hadn't used enough words if anything by not being descriptive enough. A lot happens with very few words in the last chapter.


"I'd have to read it properly to work out why I had that feeling, but maybe a couple of examples would be in "The valkyries walked between the men for a few minutes before meeting back on the slightly raised level and quietly discussing what they had seen." I'm not one for banning all adverbs but here "slightly" and "quietly" just make it a longer sentence, as does "for a few minutes". These are all measures of degree rather than positive statements about anything at a point where such minutiae don't matter. Let me try writing the same sentence.

"Having briefly walked between the men the valkyries returned to the dais to share their observations."

I won't say that that is better or even adequate for your purpose but I have said almost as much as you did in sixteen words instead of twenty-five."

I see your point but I think I like to be descriptive with the environment at times. When I've got a very clear one in my head.


"The next step would be to replace the words that provide no new information, like "valkyries" and "men" with ones that add more colour to the scene, so maybe using "winged hosts" and "suitors" instead. Valkyries do have wings, don't they, only I didn't notice whether you told us that, so maybe I have the wrong image of them?"

I've done a bit of research and I couldn't find any actual mention of them having wings but they're often depicted that way in drawings because they carry the souls of the dead to the gods.


"Another example would be that "Nothing to really report" report."

That line's gone.


"I still don't think these introductions of the characters are a good idea, not as they stand at present."

Why's that? I think it's good way to introduce lots of characters (twelve to start with, the eight main ones and four supporting ones). I'd much rather working on making it batter than to scrap it and start again.

Jay Greenstein
April 23rd, 2017, 03:50 AM
Bottom Line: At the moment, you're telling the story. And by that I mean that you, someone who is not in the story or on the scene, are explaining the situation to the reader, using the writing skills we all learn in school. No crime in that, certainly. It is how we learned to write, and we spent over a decade perfecting the techniques. Unfortunately, they are not those of the fiction writer. They're fact-based and author-centric, and designed to inform clearly and concisely. They are just the thing for the employee who is writing reports and papers. And we were given them to make us ready to hold a job. They are not the skills needed for fiction, which has as its goal entertaining the reader. For that we need emotion-based writing that's character-centric. And in our school years no one told us that, because it's professional knowledge of use only to those who write fiction.

And because no one tells us, we leave our school years precisely as well prepared to write fiction as to pilot a 747—except for the fact that we know we're not ready to be a commercial airline pilot.

So you have a lot of company, virtually everyone who turns to writing fiction suffers it, including me when I decided to record my campfire stories. And since every field requires specialized knowledge, it's no big deal. And the solution is obvious and simple: Dig into the skills the pros take for granted, because if we hope people used to reading the work of pros will like our writing, we need to know what they know.

The local library system's fiction writing section is a great resource. Teachers, successful writers, and publishing pros have all contributed their views there. And you can't beat the price.

It's not a matter of reading a book, saying, "Oh, I see," and writing brilliant prose. Like any field it takes study, thought, and practice, practice, practice. The average hopeful writer creates, edits, polishes, and puts aside a half-million or more words before geting a yes from a publisher. And that's a discouraging number, I know. But thousands of people do it for the first time every year. So why not you? As with any other field, it's all in the becoming.

So hang in there, and keep on writing.

Gold Bearer
April 23rd, 2017, 04:59 PM
Bottom Line: At the moment, you're telling the story. And by that I mean that you, someone who is not in the story or on the scene, are explaining the situation to the reader, using the writing skills we all learn in school. No crime in that, certainly. It is how we learned to write, and we spent over a decade perfecting the techniques. Unfortunately, they are not those of the fiction writer. They're fact-based and author-centric, and designed to inform clearly and concisely.But surely that has to be the basis for creative writing, to inform clearly and concisely? Are you saying that it needs more flourish (I think that's the right word) to make it entertaining or it doesn't actually need to be clear and concise?

What do people think of the Rain chapter rewrite? I think the best way for me to progress this is to get that one chapter working right first and then to try applying what I did there to the other chapters.

Jay Greenstein
April 24th, 2017, 04:06 AM
But surely that has to be the basis for creative writing, to inform clearly and concisely?Absolutely not. Your reader isn't looking for facts. They want to be entertained, which is an emotional thing. History books are filled with facts. There's betrayal, sex, adventure, and all the things a novel has. But it lacks one critical ting, uncertainty. It's immutable, a collection of facts that will roll out one after the other, clearly and concisely. So we walk away informed, and perhaps mildly entertained by the words of the narrator. But we cannot hear the tone of the narrator's voice, so it's dead, other then for whatever emotion is inherent to the wording and punctuation. have your computer read your story aloud and you'll hear how different it is from what you hear when you read.

You can tell me that a character says something angrily, or with a smile. But you cannot tell the reader how you perform the role of narrator. So if you tell your story as a series of facts it reads like a report.

But place the reader into the protagonist's persona, knowing what they know as-they-know-it; make your reader know what has the protagonist's atterntion to the point where they will react to it; make the reader know the protagonist's evaluation of the situation, and the things they feel matter; make the reader know what options the protagonist has and their imperatives, and your reader and the character will reason in parallel, and decide on the same course of action as necessary. Do that and the protagonist knows everything but one: what will happen as a result. So now, the reader is in the moment the character calls now. The reader has decided what must be done, and of course they need to hang around to see if it works. In other words, turn the page because they want to and need to. And didn't I just pretty much define what a "hook" is?

All of our training is to clearly inform the reader. And because we leave school believing that writing-is-writing, and we have that part handled, we figure that what we need is a good story idea, a knack for storytelling, some practice, and a bit of luck.

If only. Take a look at this article. it's a condensation of one method of placing the reader into the story, as I outlined above. Done well, if someone swings at your protagonist the reader will duck. It's not at all like the style of writing you and I learned in our school days, so it takes a bit of chewing on, and thinking about. But stick with it till it makes sense. It's worth the effort. And as I said, it's a condensation, so there is a lot more to it. I often recommend the book it's condensed from because it's filled with such things.
I think the best way for me to progress this is to get that one chapter working right firstI really wish I had better news, because like most of us, you've got the fire in the belly to write and do it now. But as Dwight Swain says in the introduction to the book the article was taken from:


Can you learn to write stories? Yes.

Can you learn to write well enough to sell an occasional piece?

Again yes, in most cases.

Can you learn to write well enough to sell consistently to Redbook or Playboy or Random House or Gold Medal?

Now that’s another matter, and one upon which undue confusion centers.

Writing is, in its way, very much like tennis.

It’s no trick at all to learn to play tennis—if you don’t mind losing every game.

Given time and perseverance, you probably can even work yourself up to where Squaw Hollow rates you as above-average competition.

Beyond that, however, the going gets rough. Reach the nationals, win status as champion or finalist, and you know your performance bespeaks talent as well as sweat.

So it is with writing. To get stories of a sort set down on paper; to become known as a “leading Squaw Hollow writer,” demands little more than self-discipline.

Continued work and study often will carry you into American Girl or Men’s Digest or Real Confessions or Scholastic Newstime. But the higher you climb toward big name and big money, the steeper and rougher your road becomes.

At the top, it’s very rough indeed. If you get there; if you place consistently at Post or McCall’s or Doubleday, you know it’s because you have talent in quantity; and innate ability that sets you apart from the competition.

Now this doesn’t seem at all strange to me. The same principle applies when you strive for success as attorney or salesman or racing driver.

Further, whatever the field, no realist expects advance guarantees of triumph. You can’t know for sure how well you’ll do until you try. Not even a Ben Hogan, a Sam Snead, or an Arnold Palmer made a hole-in-one his first time on the links. To win success, you first must master the skills involved. A pre-med student isn’t called on to perform brain surgery.

Good—that is, salable—stories presuppose that you know how to write, how to plot, how to characterize, how to intrigue readers; how to make skilled use of a hundred tools.

Now you might say, "But I don't intend to be a famous writer." Makes no difference. Your reader has been on a steady diet of professional class writing. They know it and they expect it. And they will react to your work on the basis of what they expect. And no way in hell can you get to an approximation of that level of writing without mastering a fair sized chunk that body of writing skill we call the craft of the fiction writer.

Why? Because at this point, like me when I turned to writing my campfire stories, way back in the Stone-Age, your idea of what a scene is, is linked to what a scene is in film and plays., the action as a given time or location. But on the page that all changes, because the medium is vastly different. And if you don't understand what a scene is, why, and how to manage the elements, how can you write one? And that's just one of dozens of things that you need to handle without thinking about it.

At the moment you're focused on plot. But plot, while necessary, comes in a distant second place to such things as characterization, and the writing. In the bookstore, the average reader makes their choice to buy or say no in three pages or less. And as Sol Stein said,

“A novel is like a car—it won’t go anywhere until you turn on the engine. The “engine” of both fiction and nonfiction is the point at which the reader makes the decision not to put the book down. The engine should start in the first three pages, the closer to the top of page one the better.”

And here's the thing: in those three pages there's been almost no plot, just writing and characterization. We're busy learning what's going on, where we are, and who we are. The zombies, alien invaders, or whatever disaster will propel our hero into action won't show up for a few more pages, but the reader has already said, "I like the writing enough to commit to reading it.

So...fix the first chapter and you're good to go? Well...yes. In reality, that's true. After all, an agent or editor decides they want to see the rest of the project after reading only a few pages. But, at the moment, you're in the position of learning a game every bit as complex as chess. Easy enough to learn the big picture. I can teach you the basics of chess in a half hour. And you'll forgget most of what I said in a day or two. So to make that informatin yours, defelope a feel for the nuances, and become a chess player? That's going to take time.

But there is good news. If you are meant to be a writer, you'll love the learning. It's like going backstage at the theater, and filled with times of saying, "Why in the hell didn't I see that for myself? It's so obvious."

And look at it this way, if every day you write with just a little more skill than you did the day before, and you live long enough...

The trick is, writing is a journey, not a destination.

So hang in there, and keep on writing. We never get it right. But we can improve the crap to gold ratio after a while, and become confused on a higher level. And that, when you think about it, pretty well defines everything.

Gold Bearer
April 24th, 2017, 11:34 AM
At the moment you're focused on plot. But plot, while necessary, comes in a distant second place to such things as characterization, and the writing.I think the problem is that I'm actually making a conscious effort to avoid putting in what people are telling me is missing because to me it just feels like fluff. I thought to myself before I starting writing it, don't get bogged down with too much characterisation and detail, stick to the plot. I think it's because that's my own personal taste. When I read I nearly always think there's too much information given when it would be better to let the reader imagine those things naturally. I think of it as a guide (the plot) to the readers imagination of the story, not to handhold them through the story.

I'm also a bit confused by seemingly contradictory information I've been given here. Just Rob commented that it was too wordy. You and Ptolemy seem to be suggesting the opposite is true.


If only. Take a look at this article. it's a condensation of one method of placing the reader into the story, as I outlined above.What article?

MadMickyG
April 24th, 2017, 12:00 PM
I'm by no means an accomplished writer (although trying my best to be), but as has been mentioned in threads by more learned folks than me, give some description of your character. I like to give an outline, some points of interest in description. The rest is up to the reader. Give them the outline, then let them fill in the blanks. Think how many books you've read that become movies. How many characters you imagined looked the same on film? I think personally I've seen 2 characters ever that were how I imagined. The rest were close, but not what I saw. Although, you get some who own the character, like Jennifer Lawrence in Hunger Games and the like. For me, I've already watched the stories I'm writing. Probably because I want my stories to be movies. :P
I know how I see my character wont be how others see them, because they are my interpretation. But give a brief description about the character and people have something to work with. The reason I wrote this (not just to get my post count up) is I also like to put less description about many things. I enjoy reading books that have page upon page of how an area or building can look. I can visualise it well. But at the same time, it can get tedious reading what feels like a whole chapter on how beautiful a place looked because of the flowers/trees,hedges etc that were there.

As the saying goes, less is more. But there has to be a little there. Just my 2cents. :)

bdcharles
April 24th, 2017, 12:04 PM
Hi,

I love the idea of introducing the chosen ones in this way. It lets us get to know them but in an unobtrusive, natural way, and the fusing of modern and mytho-fantastical elements is right up my alley. Oh, and pretty much anything involving Valkyries, shieldmaidens and Amazonian warrior-queens gets my buy-in. Can't imagine why that is :)

Now, onto the writing. You need to work on showing versus telling, plus also watch for tense changes, comma-splices, talking-head syndrome for starters, clarity, etc.




But surely that has to be the basis for creative writing, to inform clearly and concisely? Are you saying that it needs more flourish (I think that's the right word) to make it entertaining or it doesn't actually need to be clear and concise?

What do people think of the Rain chapter rewrite? I think the best way for me to progress this is to get that one chapter working right first and then to try applying what I did there to the other chapters.

Re: the basis for creative writing - I think it is threefold. You have to know the techniques and be able to be concise and correct, you have to be able to emote and evoke, and you have to have ideas. You have two out of three - the first and the last - but the writing is lacking in pep and verve; flourish, as you say. There's some filtering (looked, noticed, decided, remembered) that can probably go. Generally, don't list the things that happen. Actually make them happen. Here's an example, from Rain, since you ask about that:

Was:


After stirring, on the verge of waking up Rain felt Tarja's arm wrap around him. Elves don't need a great deal of sleep but he hadn't rested for a while so had decided to sprawl out for an hour or so.
"Hello beautiful" he said smiling.

Seeing that he was awake, the palace panther jumped down off the bed. Rain went over to the window to check the time by looking at the sky and saw Tarissa out in the courtyard practising for the archery tournament being held later in the day. He freshened up before making his way down to see her.

"Afternoon sis." he said to his twin.

"Good sleep?"

"Yea until Tarja woke me. I needed to get up anyway, they'll be here soon."

"Ah the burdens of being the emperor."

The palace is situated at the heart of the Centre Circle, which is situated at the heart of the Inner Circle, at the heart of the Circle itself. As big as a large town, it wasn't exactly clear where the palace ended and the outside started. It was built, like much of the architecture in the Circle, as a continuum rather than as a definite and well defined structure.

Now:



After stirring, on the verge of waking up Rain felt Tarja's paw wrap around him, and the warm sun dazzling his green eyelids with gentle touches of its spring heat. Elves didn't need a great deal of sleep but he hadn't rested for a while so had sprawled out for an hour or so. His limbs rested in the tangle of fabrics that had been heaped upon his bed by one servant or another.

"Hello beautiful," he said, smiling.

Seeing that he was awake, the palace panther jumped down off the bed and padded across to the window, peering out between granite mullions. Rain followed, to check the time. The sun, crawling up the sky, had just crested the apex of Oblage's nectary, which meant one thing: archery practise, and sure enough, in the courtyard, Tarissa's bicep flexed the tattoo of a manticore with its claws fully extended that Rain had etched himself some years before, as she drew back the string on her birch bow, twinging an arrow down the range. The quiet calm echoed a muffled thud as it struck the coloured corkboard. The tournament. Of course. He remembered now; it was being held later in the day, and he had alot of reputation riding on it. He threw cool water on his face from the granite washbasin, shrugged on a toga, and stepped out into the cool hallways, before jogging across the yard to greet his twin.

"Afternoon sis." he said to her, as she twisted her arrow from the yellow circle. Is she slacking? he thought. She should have got that.

"Good sleep?" The bolt tugged loose, tumbling a few crumbs of the target board to the warm grass.

"Yeah," he replied, taking the shaft from her. "Until Tarja woke me. I needed to get up anyway. They'll be here soon."

"Ah the burdens of being the emperor."

They linked hands. As they strolled from the yard across the Centre Circle, acolytes dove to their knees, flashing rapid genuflections towards Rain and his sister-princess with bejewelled fingers. Along the baked bricks of Honolock perambulatory avenue that marked the separation to the Inner circle - itself the middle section of the whole Palace compound, which petered out into fields and furrows some miles distant - merchants wafted exotic vapours over passing customers, hopeful, Rain supposed, to entice them in on the wings of their pleasing aromas.

So there I just tried to make your blueprint come more alive, while also showing Rain and the panther and Tarissa doing things that lets us get to know them, all against the backdrop of this world and leading to some plot endpoint. Hopefully it's some food for thought for you. I'm conscious that I pretty much had to make stuff up like the names and the actions, props-as-symbols like the removal of the arrow or the scents in the merchants' shops, the materials used to construct the place, etc, so obviously if they are not what you want, then just experiment and swap out and in general have a bit of a play. But I lke this. I like the world, the people, the scene. I'm in. It just needs a presentation go-over :) Thanks for the read!

bdcharles
April 24th, 2017, 03:02 PM
Just to elaborate on one thing; you said:

"Are you saying that it needs more flourish (I think that's the right word) to make it entertaining or it doesn't actually need to be clear and concise?"

These two aren't really opposites of the same thing, but neither are they mutually exclusive. You can be clear and consise, and flourish away, flouting every grammar rules in the book. Equally you can be clear and concise and possess as much vim and vigour as the text I am reading on the development of mobile telephony (namely, none). And you can be unclear and vague, but if your narrator demands it, then it can work. Try not to think in binaries, in terms of what choice should I make? Learn how to control florid text, sparse text, unreliable narrator text, all of it, using any technique. Your goal is to get the pictures in your head into others' heads, via your prose. Then of course once you've done that it needs to be relevant to the story, but I would say get your voice down first.

Gold Bearer
April 24th, 2017, 03:28 PM
I'm by no means an accomplished writer (although trying my best to be), but as has been mentioned in threads by more learned folks than me, give some description of your character. I like to give an outline, some points of interest in description. The rest is up to the reader. Give them the outline, then let them fill in the blanks. Think how many books you've read that become movies. How many characters you imagined looked the same on film? I think personally I've seen 2 characters ever that were how I imagined. The rest were close, but not what I saw. Although, you get some who own the character, like Jennifer Lawrence in Hunger Games and the like. For me, I've already watched the stories I'm writing. Probably because I want my stories to be movies. :razz:
I know how I see my character wont be how others see them, because they are my interpretation. But give a brief description about the character and people have something to work with. The reason I wrote this (not just to get my post count up) is I also like to put less description about many things. I enjoy reading books that have page upon page of how an area or building can look. I can visualise it well. But at the same time, it can get tedious reading what feels like a whole chapter on how beautiful a place looked because of the flowers/trees,hedges etc that were there.

As the saying goes, less is more. But there has to be a little there. Just my 2cents. :smile:I do see it in my head like a movie seen before I write it. I think that might be why I'm not doing a good job of painting a vivid picture, I'm unconsciously assuming that the reader sees it too without being told.

I've always had a very clear image of what the characters in my head but I decided not to describe what they look like, maybe I should.

Gandalf in the LotR films was EXACTLY how I imagined him when I was reading the books. I can't think of another example.


I love the idea of introducing the chosen ones in this way. It lets us get to know them but in an unobtrusive, natural way, and the fusing of modern and mytho-fantastical elements is right up my alley. :) Thank you, that's great to hear. I was a bit disappointed when the idea itself was criticised because I think it works well.


Now, onto the writing. You need to work on showing versus telling, plus also watch for tense changes, comma-splices, talking-head syndrome for starters, clarity, etc.Yes. I think showing vs telling pretty much sums it up. What do you mean by comma-splices.


Generally, don't list the things that happen. Actually make them happen.I see. Hmm, this going to take some get used to.


Hopefully it's some food for thought for you. I'm conscious that I pretty much had to make stuff up like the names and the actions, props-as-symbols like the removal of the arrow or the scents in the merchants' shops, the materials used to construct the place, etc, so obviously if they are not what you want, then just experiment and swap out and in general have a bit of a play.I will. Hopefully this doesn't put you off being interested in the story but this... "They linked hands. As they strolled from the yard across the Centre Circle, acolytes dove to their knees, flashing rapid genuflections towards Rain and his sister-princess with bejewelled fingers"... is very much something that I need to show isn't the case. Rain would never let anyone think that they should treat him with any more respect than they would anyone else. Also Tarissa is only practicing because of the tournament, a very minor point but part of a larger one that the palace is a very chilled place and there's no set time for anything, especially not for the twins.

But what you wrote isn't really the point, it's how you wrote it so it's still useful to see what you did. Did you see the rewritten version of that chapter further down? I'll replace the original, there's no real point in keeping the old one there.


But I lke this. I like the world, the people, the scene. I'm in. It just needs a presentation go-over :smile: Thanks for the read!Cheers for the encouragement and for the feedback. That was very useful.

Edit:

Just to elaborate on one thing; you said:

"Are you saying that it needs more flourish (I think that's the right word) to make it entertaining or it doesn't actually need to be clear and concise?"

These two aren't really opposites of the same thing, but neither are they mutually exclusive. You can be clear and consise, and flourish away, flouting every grammar rules in the book. Equally you can be clear and concise and possess as much vim and vigour as the text I am reading on the development of mobile telephony (namely, none). And you can be unclear and vague, but if your narrator demands it, then it can work. Try not to think in binaries, in terms of what choice should I make? Learn how to control florid text, sparse text, unreliable narrator text, all of it, using any technique. Your goal is to get the pictures in your head into others' heads, via your prose. Then of course once you've done that it needs to be relevant to the story, but I would say get your voice down first.Right. I'm too eager to get the setup out of the way and start bringing the characters together I think.

Jay Greenstein
April 25th, 2017, 01:40 AM
Actually, this article (http://www.advancedfictionwriting.com/art/scene.php). For some reason or other it didn't take when I tried it yesterday

Jay Greenstein
April 25th, 2017, 02:13 AM
I do see it in my head like a movie seen before I write it. I think that might be why I'm not doing a good job of painting a vivid picture,You can't paint that picture. And the fact that you're trying is part of the problem.

Traditionally, a picture is worth a thousand words. That's four standard manuscript pages. And after all those words the picture would be static. Life isn't. And in any case, no one is going to read four pages on things that the protagonist is mostly ignoring.

Never lose sight of the fact that sight and sound are parallel senses. One glance and you know what's in the picture—in milliseconds. A listen and you have the soundscape—in a few seconds. But on the page? The page is a serial medium. Everything has to be spelled out, one thing at a time. Try to give me a picture of your protagonist moving from his,kitchen to the front door. Reading about it will take ten times as long as it took the character to walk there, and the story will drag. You cannot use the techniques of one medium in another that does not support them. And the page supposts neither sound nor picture. So every second you spent perfecting your verbal storytelling abilities is time that prepared you not at all for writing fiction for the printed word. And the films you watched don't transfer, either.

For the screen, an actor spends years perfecting their ability to make the viewer know the mind state of the character through physical actions. Fleeting glances, the nod of the head, a sigh, or a change of position at the right time are their stock in trade. They work hard to master the nuance of that realistically. But we have far cruder tools, so we making the reader know the scene as the character does. Done well, and the reader will apply the proper mannerisms as they read because that's what they would do were they the character, with their resources and knowledge. But if you not only don't know how to do that, you don't know you should, it won't get done.

Look at it this way: If you don't know what an acquiring editor reacts well and badly to in a submission, you stand zero chance of getting a yes. Your work sits on the desk with a thousand others, or more, and only one will be chosen. On that desk with it sits the work of people who have spend a decade or more polishing their skills and acquiring knowledge. There are people who have attended workshops, seminars, and classes. Many have chewed through a dozen books on aspects of writing fiction. Some are members of critique groups and writers clubs. So it's a game of musical chairs with a thousand players and one chair. Given that, I wouldn't depend on luck.

MadMickyG
April 25th, 2017, 06:09 AM
Thanks for that article Jay, very helpful. :)

Gold Bearer
April 25th, 2017, 10:53 AM
You can't paint that picture. And the fact that you're trying is part of the problem.That's not really what I meant. I always see it play out first as if it was a movie and then I try to write it. I don't trying writing it as a movie scene but I think that the reader will create pretty much the same scene themselves with very just the most basic information and dialogue, and that's why the dialogue is coming across as "stilted and overwrought". I'm expecting the reader to do the work for me.

Movie seen, oops. I of course meant movie scene.


Look at it this way: If you don't know what an acquiring editor reacts well and badly to in a submission, you stand zero chance of getting a yes. Your work sits on the desk with a thousand others, or more, and only one will be chosen. On that desk with it sits the work of people who have spend a decade or more polishing their skills and acquiring knowledge. There are people who have attended workshops, seminars, and classes. Many have chewed through a dozen books on aspects of writing fiction. Some are members of critique groups and writers clubs. So it's a game of musical chairs with a thousand players and one chair. Given that, I wouldn't depend on luck.My ultimate goal isn't to get published. That might be something I think about more as the story writing progresses to the point where I have something that I'm happy with but at the moment I just want to write it for its own sake. If it ever does get to that stage I would hope the substance over the style would help it, I think I've got a very special concept (the combination of the world, including the modern element/the characters/the big story idea/the mini stories within the big story), but maybe all writers do I suppose or they wouldn't write.

I've got the basic outlines of a some horror style short stories written out, mostly based on dreams. If I wanted to get published I think those would be a much easier way to do it and I think they'd be a lot easier for me to write as well, but I care a lot more about this.

Jay Greenstein
April 26th, 2017, 03:37 AM
I think that the reader will create pretty much the same scene themselves with very just the most basic information and dialogue,They won't, I'm afraid, because if they don't know the situation as the protagonist knows it. They'll know what the protagonist says, but not why it was said, and what the protagonist hopes will happen. So there's no emotional content, just a chronicle of events.
and that's why the dialogue is coming across as "stilted and overwrought".No, it's becase it is stilted. Look at your first exchange:
One of the men on the back row turned to the man on his left,
"Did you shave your chest?"
"Er, no" he said with a smile.First: we don't know what prompted this unknown man to ask. or its relevance to what's going on.

Next, we don't know why the unknown man who replies smiled. We don't know what he thought of the question, or the person who asked it.

Next, assume that he knows why the man asked the question, a reasonable person would say why he didn't. And if he doesn't know, he would append, "Why do you ask." So the exchange is meaningless and contrived, as read, and presented only to give you a reason to present the business of choosing mates. So the dialog was for your purpose, as part of your script, not what one person would say to another in a real situation.

Here's another
If this was anyone else, Coach might have been surprised.
"You've made it known that you're willing to fight any opponent and now you want to fight two in a row. Do you have a death wish?"Have your computer read this aloud and you'll hear that it matches, not at all, the way a live person would speak this. Were it you, there would be a hesitation between the first and second line of dialog. The coach would have used gesture, or facial expression change to illustrate his emotion as he asks about the death wish. And he would have told the person that he's not surprised, eliminating the need for you, someone who is not in the story or on the scene for interjecting a comment that he wasn't. The fact that the coach doesn't turn to you and say, "Who the hell are you, and what are you doing here? when you speak, tells the reader that this isn't real.

Here's the problem, and no amount of sincerity and dedication will change it: The writing skills we learned in our school days will-not-work for fiction on the page. And when you release your words to others, nothing about you, including your intent is relevant. It's the reader, your words, and what that reader takes the words to mean, based on their background, not yours.

I know you've worked hard on this, and invested a lot of yourself in it. And something like this can feel like a mule kick to the chops. I know, because I've been there. But nothing can change the fact that our schooling is to teach us nonfiction writing techniques—skills that value explaining above all else. But open a story with a narrator talking to the reader in place of actual story, and you will be rejected before the end of the first paragraph. Often, before the end of the first line.

Fair? no. We all deserve to be rich and famous. But while publishing houses have their own customer base, our one true customer is the acquiring editor who will be so impressed with our sample that s/he will ask for the full manuscript, and on reading that, go to bat for the story's acceptance with the editorial board. So unless you know what will motivate that person to say yes, you're wasting your time.

And while there are many valid reasons for self publishing, doing it because editors, who make their living by knowing what has a chance to sell in the current market, say your writing isn't professional enough to sell, isn't one of them.
My ultimate goal isn't to get published. That might be something I think about more as the story writing progresses to the point where I have something that I'm happy with but at the moment I just want to write it for its own sake.Doesn't matter. You want people to read it and like it. None of us write only for ourselves. Were that not true we wouldn't post our work, as you did here. But anyone who reads your work will do so as a reader who has been seeing only professionally written and prepared work from the day they began sounding out the words in books. And universally, that fiction was written by people who took the time to learn how to write. A publisher never says yes unless they feel they will at least break even, and make back the costs of editing, art, promotion and production. So they invest a lot on faith, which means they're choosy. And that's what you've been reading.

You would think that having done that all your life you would be competent to look at your own work and see the problems. But as Sol Stein observed, “Readers don’t notice point-of-view errors. They simply sense that the writing is bad.”


Mark Twain put it well when he said, “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” Given that we all leave school with a lot of "just ain't so, when it comes to writing fiction, doesn't it make sense to invest a few hours in finding out how to present your work to best effect.

Gold Bearer
April 26th, 2017, 11:35 AM
They won't, I'm afraid, because if they don't know the situation as the protagonist knows it. They'll know what the protagonist says, but not why it was said, and what the protagonist hopes will happen. So there's no emotional content, just a chronicle of events.You took this sentence: "I think that the reader will create pretty much the same scene themselves with very just the most basic information and dialogue," out of context. I was saying that was my mistake.


Look at your first exchange:

One of the men on the back row turned to the man on his left,
"Did you shave your chest?"
"Er, no" he said with a smile.

First: we don't know what prompted this unknown man to ask. or its relevance to what's going on.You're not supposed to yet.


Next, we don't know why the unknown man who replies smiled. We don't know what he thought of the question, or the person who asked it.Because he did shave his chest. Having his chest on show in the first place means he's trying to impress, he's trying to stand out. It makes perfect sense once the reader knows what's going on and it's not like they have to wait long. The very next line:
"This is the way that valkyries choose their mates for procreation."


Next, assume that he knows why the man asked the question, a reasonable person would say why he didn't. And if he doesn't know, he would append, "Why do you ask." So the exchange is meaningless and contrived, as read, and presented only to give you a reason to present the business of choosing mates. So the dialog was for your purpose, as part of your script, not what one person would say to another in a real situation.I completely disagree. Two dudes hoping to be chosen based on how they look. One asks the other if he shaved his chest, and he answers no with a smile because he did.


Here's another

If this was anyone else, Coach might have been surprised.
"You've made it known that you're willing to fight any opponent and now you want to fight two in a row. Do you have a death wish?"

Have your computer read this aloud and you'll hear that it matches, not at all, the way a live person would speak this. Were it you, there would be a hesitation between the first and second line of dialog. The coach would have used gesture, or facial expression change to illustrate his emotion as he asks about the death wish.It should be:
"You've made it known that you're willing to fight any opponent and now you want to fight two in a row, do you have a death wish?"


And he would have told the person that he's not surprised, eliminating the need for you, someone who is not in the story or on the scene for interjecting a comment that he wasn't. The fact that the coach doesn't turn to you and say, "Who the hell are you, and what are you doing here? when you speak, tells the reader that this isn't real.I don't get it. Everything has to be conveyed with the dialogue and no narration to put it onto context? I won't be doing it that way.


Here's the problem, and no amount of sincerity and dedication will change it: The writing skills we learned in our school days will-not-work for fiction on the page. And when you release your words to others, nothing about you, including your intent is relevant. It's the reader, your words, and what that reader takes the words to mean, based on their background, not yours.Which is why I'm here and trying to see if there's better ways I can convey the story the way it is in my head.


I know you've worked hard on this, and invested a lot of yourself in it. And something like this can feel like a mule kick to the chops. I know, because I've been there.I haven't worked hard at all on it yet. I came up with the idea of using a dedicated introductory chapter for each of the main characters a few weeks ago and wrote about one every other day, in between ten and twenty minutes. The only one that changed (other than fixing errors) before I posted them here was Cassandra's and the only one that's changed since is Rain's.


But nothing can change the fact that our schooling is to teach us nonfiction writing techniques—skills that value explaining above all else.I've lost track of how many times you've said that. It's still a first draft. I'm trying to figure out the best way of doing it before I do the first revision.


But open a story with a narrator talking to the reader in place of actual story, and you will be rejected before the end of the first paragraph. Often, before the end of the first line.

Fair? no. We all deserve to be rich and famous.What? You think I'm writing this to try to be rich and famous? What makes you think I'd even want that?


But while publishing houses have their own customer base, our one true customer is the acquiring editor who will be so impressed with our sample that s/he will ask for the full manuscript, and on reading that, go to bat for the story's acceptance with the editorial board. So unless you know what will motivate that person to say yes, you're wasting your time.

And while there are many valid reasons for self publishing, doing it because editors, who make their living by knowing what has a chance to sell in the current market, say your writing isn't professional enough to sell, isn't one of them.I told you, I'm not thinking about getting it published yet. That might come when I got something done, but it certainly won't be written with what publishers want in mind.


Doesn't matter. You want people to read it and like it. None of us write only for ourselves. Were that not true we wouldn't post our work, as you did here.I'm posting it to get feedback. Yes I will want people to read it but I'm doing it for myself first, I thought that's how all art worked. I want what's in my head to translate as well as possible to the reader, that's it. If that means publishers won't touch it then I'll stick it online for free and hope word gets around.


Mark Twain put it well when he said, “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” Given that we all leave school with a lot of "just ain't so, when it comes to writing fiction, doesn't it make sense to invest a few hours in finding out how to present your work to best effect.Why do you think I'm here? I've already spent a few hours into trying to find out how to best present my work. Ptolemy's and bdcharles' examples of alternative dialogues really help, even if the content isn't necessarily what I'm after.

bdcharles
April 26th, 2017, 01:03 PM
What do you mean by comma-splices.

I mean where two sentences that should be more separate are joined with a comma; eg:

"Alexandria had no real interest in the selection process itself,[<- there's one!] that wasn't why she always put herself forward to be one of the selectors."

"Alexandria stepped forward before anyone else could and draw her wooden training sword and readied her shield from her back before cracking her neck with a broad smile,[<- and another!] she'd been waiting for this for the past two years. "

Most of your sentences are fine - with full-stops (periods), m-dashed, semi-colons, etc. - but, well, I just go a bit squicky when it comes to comma splices. :)

Jay Greenstein
April 27th, 2017, 04:20 AM
I don't get it. Everything has to be conveyed with the dialogue and no narration to put it onto context? I won't be doing it that way.Take a look back at the post. You spent most of it trying to explain why I should have gotten your intended meaning. But when you pass your words to others, you, your intent, and everything about you becomes irrelevant. It's that reader, your chosen words, and what they suggest to that reader based on their background. And you're not there to ask, so you get it right or they stop reading the first time you confuse or bore the reader. And if that happens in the second paragraph every second it took to write more is wasted, because it won't be seen.

Your reader is pretty well guaranteed to have a different background and interests. They may be of a different age group and even gender. So their word usage and meaning taken differs from yours. Yet you must make every one of those readers get exactly the same message, using only the words you choose and arrange.

No way in hell can you do that with the general nonfiction writing skills we get in school. So those decisions you talk about making, because you want the reader to get this, or that point? The thoings you leave out because you don't want the reader to know, yet? How can you make a sound decision on how to present a scene when you don't yet know what a scene is on the page? How can you place a reader into the character's viewpoint when you still believe that viewpoint is a matter of which personal pronouns you use?

Writing fiction is a profession, and there is no profession that doesn't have a body of knowledge unique to it. So yes, you can write any way you care to. But if you want people to read your work, and stay with you for more than a paragraph or two, you need to know how to entertain the reader. And that takes a whole lot of skills whose very existence was never mentioned by the teachers who had you writing essays and reports.

Gold Bearer
April 27th, 2017, 03:15 PM
Take a look back at the post. You spent most of it trying to explain why I should have gotten your intended meaning.Only because I believe it would be obviously to most people in those particular instances.


But when you pass your words to others, you, your intent, and everything about you becomes irrelevant. It's that reader, your chosen words, and what they suggest to that reader based on their background. And you're not there to ask, so you get it right or they stop reading the first time you confuse or bore the reader. And if that happens in the second paragraph every second it took to write more is wasted, because it won't be seen.Yes, I know that.


Your reader is pretty well guaranteed to have a different background and interests. They may be of a different age group and even gender. So their word usage and meaning taken differs from yours. Yet you must make every one of those readers get exactly the same message, using only the words you choose and arrange.Not even remotely possible. Everybody will imagine it their own way. If I were to try to be detailed enough to get reader to imagine the exact same thing then take forever for anything to happen and I really would bore the reader, and myself. I tend to think that stories are too detailed when it comes to dialogue tone and character motivation. I made the decision to be quite loose with the descriptive aspect accept when I've got something that I really like but I think I might have overdone it a bit.


No way in hell can you do that with the general nonfiction writing skills we get in school. So those decisions you talk about making, because you want the reader to get this, or that point? The thoings you leave out because you don't want the reader to know, yet? How can you make a sound decision on how to present a scene when you don't yet know what a scene is on the page? How can you place a reader into the character's viewpoint when you still believe that viewpoint is a matter of which personal pronouns you use?You don't have the first clue what any of my beliefs are, and thinking that viewpoint is a matter of which personal pronouns are used certainly isn't one them. Patronising much? There are two instances of the reader not knowing something the the character does. One right at the start and like I already said, they only have to wait until the very next line. The other is when Tarja puts her arm around rain and the reader thinks Tarja is a person. I think that's a cute one and again, the reader only has to wait until the next line to see that she's a big kitty.


Writing fiction is a profession, and there is no profession that doesn't have a body of knowledge unique to it. So yes, you can write any way you care to. But if you want people to read your work, and stay with you for more than a paragraph or two, you need to know how to entertain the reader. And that takes a whole lot of skills whose very existence was never mentioned by the teachers who had you writing essays and reports.Again with this! I'm not using any particular techniques taught to me in school. I'm just writing it how it feels right and at the moment this is just a first draft of the character introductions. It's already a huge improvement on the earlier attempts I tried before coming up with the intro chapters idea.


I mean where two sentences that should be more separate are joined with a comma; eg:

"Alexandria had no real interest in the selection process itself,[<- there's one!] that wasn't why she always put herself forward to be one of the selectors."

"Alexandria stepped forward before anyone else could and draw her wooden training sword and readied her shield from her back before cracking her neck with a broad smile,[<- and another!] she'd been waiting for this for the past two years. "

Most of your sentences are fine - with full-stops (periods), m-dashed, semi-colons, etc. - but, well, I just go a bit squicky when it comes to comma splices. http://www.writingforums.com/images/smilies/icon_smile.gifAh, I see what you mean and I agree with both of those examples. Apparently I do the exact opposite when it's dialogue, "You've made it known that you're willing to fight any opponent and now you want to fight two in a row. Do you have a death wish?" should be one sentence. :)

bdcharles
April 27th, 2017, 04:01 PM
(Re: comma splices)



Ah, I see what you mean and I agree with both of those examples. Apparently I do the exact opposite when it's dialogue, "You've made it known that you're willing to fight any opponent and now you want to fight two in a row. Do you have a death wish?" should be one sentence. :)

Sometimes comma splices are ok. To me it seems to depend on how "in character" and close with POV you are. That means in dialogue it can sometimes be okay if the speaker would rush out their words like that. In narrated thoughts, free indirect speech and other places where grammar abuse an be deployed to great effect it can work too, such as:

"I ran, I ran faster than I thought I ever could, trees whipped past my face, my life was in the balance."
-> might work because it is quite in tight with the emotions of the character.

But when it's further out and more narrated, less immediate and pacey, it risks looking sloppy:

"Willows dangled branches over the river, fish jumped up to get a bite."

It also doesn't help also that so many people fall into it that not only is it a bit of an error, but it's almost guaranteed not to make the writing stand out. But as I say I only saw it twice there so it's no biggie :)

Gold Bearer
April 28th, 2017, 03:03 PM
I've just edited the start of Rain's chapter. I thought I'd get some feedback before I carry on to see if I'm on the right track. The dialogue after the first four paragraphs isn't brand new but it's newer than the rest so I included it as well because I'd also like feedback on that interaction. Hopefully this is an improvement:

After stirring, on the verge of waking up, Rain felt Tarja's arm wrap around him as a warm gentle breeze from the open window greeted his return to the waking world. Elves don't need a great deal of sleep but he hadn't rested for a while so had decided to sprawl out for an hour or so.
"Hello beautiful." he said smiling.

Seeing that he was awake, the palace panther jumped down off the bed and sat on the floor. Rain briefly rubbed the side of her neck as he walked over to the washbasin to freshen up and playfully flicked water at her. She sneezed and padded over to the window, starring affectionately at what she saw below.

The palace is situated right at the heart of the Centre Circle, which itself is situated at the heart of the Inner Circle, at the heart of the Circle itself. As big as a large town, it wasn't exactly clear where the palace ended and the outside started. It was built, like much of the architecture in the Circle, as a continuum rather than as a definite and well defined structure.

Rain walked over to the window to check the time by looking at the sky and saw Tarissa in the courtyard just below practising for the archery tournament being held later in the day. The fresh aroma of the bakery reached his nose, 'hmm, I love that smell'. He made his way down to the courtyard to see the other important lady in his life.

"Afternoon sis." he said to his twin.

"Good sleep?"

"Yea until Tarja woke me. I needed to get up anyway, they'll be here soon."

"Ah the burdens of being emperor."

Tarissa had set up a a target in the courtyard a while back so that she didn't didn't have to go to the range to practice. She preferred practicing alone most of the time and she had always loved this courtyard.

"How's practice going?" Rain asked.

"Good. I might actually beat her this time, I'm tired of always coming in second."

"Well, stranger things have happened I suppose." he said with a feigned look of disbelief on his face.

"Thanks for the support." she replied, half agitated, half amused.

"Why would you want to be the best? If there were no such thing as forest elves you'd be no better with a bow than you are now, worse in fact because you wouldn't have had as much motivation to up your game."

Rain cocked his head slightly while looking at her bow.
"I think you bent it, you've overused it. You need a new one." he said as he took the bow from her.

"No they're supposed to have that curve in them. That's how they're designed."

She took the bow back, looked at the target and then looked back at Rain while drawing an arrow, pulling the bow back and launching the arrow straight into the centre of the target.

Rain fought hard not to show how impressed he was to keep the banter going.
"Alissia would have done it without having to recheck the target before looking away."

Tarrisa just looked at him, part amused, but mostly agitated.

Rain dropped the pretence.
"That was awesome! Pity there's no looking away while shooting category in the tournament."

"You could make it a category."

"Should I make it a rule that those whose name starts with a T get a hundred points to begin with?"

Tarissa looked thoughtful, as if actually contemplating the idea.

"The knights are here" a loud voice said from a balcony above them.

Rain nodded up at the balcony.
"They're early. You coming?"

"Nah, I'm going to practice some more. I'm in the zone."

"Okay, I'll let you know if there was any exciting news."

Gold Bearer
April 28th, 2017, 10:18 PM
I changed the start of the first chapter. I'm hoping these changes and the ones above are improvements and I'm on the right track.


The two hundred men anxiously waited outside the front entrance to the crystal palace. One of them turned to the man on his left.
"Did you shave your chest?"
"Er, no" he said with a smile.

As the huge opaque glass doors begin to slowly swing open, the men were met by the welcome sight of two beautiful armoured women with swords at their waists and spears and shields on their backs.
"Follow us please."

They were lead down a hallway with stone statues of warrior women on either side but with real armour and weapons. The same armour and weapons processed by their two buxom escorts. At the end of the hallway was an entrance to a large open room. On a slightly raised level at the far side of the hall stood Armeena, the valkyrie queen. Six other valkyries stood slightly behind, three on each side.

"Welcome to our palace." The queen had a soft yet commanding voice. "Please line up into ten lines of twenty".

This is the way that valkyries choose their mates for procreation. Thousands of men apply to be chosen for this honour and are brought forward in groups of a few hundred at a time to determine who will face the challenges of the trials in order to bee seen as worthy to add their essence to the valkyries. It's not that these men are especially lonely or frustrated, the Circle is not a prudish place and there's plenty of love to be had. It's not that there's any shortage of beautiful women either but the valkyries are especially attractive, regarded by most as angelic goddesses. This preliminary selection process is based only on appearance. This is to ensure that the valkyries are as physically attractive as possible, not for any notion of vanity but simply to encourage as many applicants as possible for just this occasion.

MadMickyG
April 28th, 2017, 11:03 PM
You could slightly rephrase one part regarding the stone statues, IMO.

They were lead down a hallway with stone statues of warrior women on either side but with real armour and weapons.

They were lead down a hallway, statues of warrior women on either side. Although the statues were beautifully carved from stone, the men noticed the armour and weapons were real. It was the same gear worn by their two buxom escorts.

Something like that anyway.

Gold Bearer
April 29th, 2017, 12:31 AM
Thanks, yea, agreed. I need a better word to replace prudish as well. I'm not entirely sure about the change into a more sexual tone at all to be honest. What do you think?

Gold Bearer
April 29th, 2017, 06:38 PM
Took your advice:

The air felt cold yet refreshing, as if the crystals architecture were somehow cleansing its surroundings. They were lead down a hallway with statues of warrior women on either side. Although the statues were immaculately carved from marble, the men noticed that the weapons and armour were real, the same as that worn by their two buxom escorts. At the end of the hallway was an entrance to a large open room. On a slightly raised level at the far side of the hall stood Armeena, the valkyrie queen. Six other valkyries stood slightly behind, three on each side.

I went for judgemental instead of prudish, I think there's a perfect word that I can't think of though. I hate it when that happens. I'm trying to add sense into it, like with the way the air felt and this new bit from Rain's chapter: The fresh aroma of the bakery reached his nose, 'hmm, I love that smell'. These are obviously to try to suck the reader into the world but do they come across as blatant cheap and tacky tricks or are they okay?

Jay Greenstein
April 30th, 2017, 03:21 AM
Only because I believe it would be obviously to most people in those particular instances.Funny thing about belief. The intensity of that belief has absolutely nothing to do with its accuracy. My comments are the view of someone who has signed more than a few publishing contracts. And while I'm not getting rich from my writing, I make enough that Uncle Sam insists on his share. I've owned a manuscript critiquing service, talked to agents, editors, and successful writers about writing. I own close to fifty books on the subject. So I'm not giving you my personal opinion.

So while I'm certain you have strong opinions on what you intend the reader to get, that intent dribbles from the words at the keyboard. When your words are read you're not there to explain. And your decisions on how to write, and what to place into a given paragraph are driven by your current writing skills—the skills we're all given in school. And if you use them to write fiction, guaranteed, the result will read like a high school writing assignment and read like nonfiction.

Writing fiction is a profession. It's one that's been under development for centuries. It is not something you can do with any competence if you're using no more than the skills we learned in school.
Not even remotely possible. Everybody will imagine it their own way.No, they will not—at least not if you write competently. The entire purpose of the craft of the fiction writer is to know how to make all reader view the scene in the same way, in spite of differences in the individual reader.

The trick is to make the reader become the protagonist, and see the story's world as that person does in the moment they call now. And that's a technique our teachers never mentioned as existing during our school years because it's knowledge only fiction writers require. And we are not being trained to be fiction writers. We must make the reader feel the same emotion our protagonist is feeling. The reason you're saying it can't be done is because with the tools you presently own, and with your knowledge of craft you're right. It can't be done. But writers do it every day. It's our job.
You don't have the first clue what any of my beliefs are, and thinking that viewpoint is a matter of which personal pronouns are used certainly isn't one them. Patronising much?Of course I do. At the moment, based on your writing, the only writing knowledge you have is what you learned in school. And in school they teach us that POV is defined by which personal pronouns are used. Added to that you're not presenting anyone's viewpoint. So of course you don't know how to use it. We all leave our school days with pretty much none of the techniques of writing fiction. So we all, when we come to writing, do as we've been taught.

Look. You can write any way you care to, believe anything you care to. I certainly don't care. But you posted the piece for comment, and someone you don't know, took time they didn't have to give you, to help you gain skill at writing fiction. Your response was to argue that I was mistaken, and that everyone should get the story as you intend them to. Your right, of course. So since I obviously upset you, I'll just bow out and wish you success with your writing.

Gold Bearer
April 30th, 2017, 04:50 PM
Funny thing about belief. The intensity of that belief has absolutely nothing to do with its accuracy. My comments are the view of someone who has signed more than a few publishing contracts. And while I'm not getting rich from my writing, I make enough that Uncle Sam insists on his share. I've owned a manuscript critiquing service, talked to agents, editors, and successful writers about writing. I own close to fifty books on the subject. So I'm not giving you my personal opinion.Of course it's just your opinion! lol You could be the most successful author in history and it would still be just your own personal view. I think you've let the success you have had go straight to your head.


So while I'm certain you have strong opinions on what you intend the reader to get, that intent dribbles from the words at the keyboard. When your words are read you're not there to explain. And your decisions on how to write, and what to place into a given paragraph are driven by your current writing skills—the skills we're all given in school. And if you use them to write fiction, guaranteed, the result will read like a high school writing assignment and read like nonfiction.

Writing fiction is a profession. It's one that's been under development for centuries. It is not something you can do with any competence if you're using no more than the skills we learned in school.You say this every one of your posts! You could interchange all of your first posts and nobody would be able to tell the difference, that's how generic your critiques are.


No, they will not—at least not if you write competently. The entire purpose of the craft of the fiction writer is to know how to make all reader view the scene in the same way, in spite of differences in the individual reader.

The trick is to make the reader become the protagonist, and see the story's world as that person does in the moment they call now. And that's a technique our teachers never mentioned as existing during our school years because it's knowledge only fiction writers require. And we are not being trained to be fiction writers. We must make the reader feel the same emotion our protagonist is feeling. The reason you're saying it can't be done is because with the tools you presently own, and with your knowledge of craft you're right. It can't be done. But writers do it every day. It's our job.To make every reader experience the writing in exactly the same way, each scene would be the length of an entire book. Obviously each reader experiences the story in their own way to some extent.


Of course I do. At the moment, based on your writing, the only writing knowledge you have is what you learned in school. And in school they teach us that POV is defined by which personal pronouns are used. Added to that you're not presenting anyone's viewpoint. So of course you don't know how to use it. We all leave our school days with pretty much none of the techniques of writing fiction. So we all, when we come to writing, do as we've been taught.Again, this is just a first draft and it was written to get the basic intro stories down. If I believed that I already had the exact right method then I wouldn't have posted it here for feedback, so you certainly DON'T have any clue what my beliefs are!


Look. You can write any way you care to, believe anything you care to. I certainly don't care. But you posted the piece for comment, and someone you don't know, took time they didn't have to give you, to help you gain skill at writing fiction. Your response was to argue that I was mistaken, and that everyone should get the story as you intend them to. Your right, of course. So since I obviously upset you, I'll just bow out and wish you success with your writing.Thank you, this is very tiresome and I think it's putting other people off posting which s something I definitely don't want. Maybe if you got off your high horse for a moment before posting then you might actually be helpful and people would be more grateful for your opinions.


Now that's out of the way, this is the first paragraph I've written of the next chapter:

Erg charged at Eshra right from the off, his large spiked club held above his head ready for a crude downward arching swing. Eshra closed the distance, forcing Erg to strike on his terms. As the club made it's way downwards, aimed straight for his head, Eshra switched his sword grip so that the blade was pointing down rather than up as he moved under and to the outside of the arc of the attack so that he was on the same side of Erg as the club and sliced across Erg's body at what was intended to be his gut but Erg reacted quickly by following the momentum of the swing to turn his body and bring down another swing. Eshra's slice caught the side of Erg as he spun, not the quick finish he was looking for but still drawing blood with his first attack. He anticipated Erg's second strike and continued his own momentum away from Erg and out of range of the swing. He was expecting to be able to rush in at this point to exploit an opening but Erg was able to react to Eshra's movement and recover his balance quickly after the second strike. This ogre had some skill.

There's a very long sentence in there but it didn't work when I tried to break it up because it made it feel like there were gaps in the fight. The idea is to cycle through each character's fight three times and resolve them one the third. Thoughts?

Jay Greenstein
April 30th, 2017, 07:03 PM
You say this every one of your posts! You could interchange all of your first posts and nobody would be able to tell the difference, that's how generic your critiques are.And yet, after seeing it multiple times you haven't caught on that given that the writing tools we leave school with are universal, having most hopeful writers make the same mistakes is to be expected. Of course I say the same things, because the mistakes are based on misunderstandings we all come to writing with. You have lots of company, but you're still writing without knowledge of what you'd learn in the first weeks of a university degree course in fiction writing.

But you're arguing that you are knowledgeable, and that your writing is just what it should be. So, instead of arguing the point, submit your work and sell it. That's the test. If you can't make an acquiring editor say yes you're not as you think. You've had a total of six people comment—some of them published writers—and not one said they like it. Yet you blame the people who read it for not getting it, when the responsibility of making it entertain them is yours, not theirs. And the fact that it's a first draft changes nothing.

You presented a second chunk of writing in this thread, but it differed in approach not at all. It was a nonfiction chronicle of events you envision happening of the form, "This happened...then that happened...after that she said...then he said...and by the way, the reader needs to know this..." Step by step you, someone not in the story, explain the sequence of events, while tossing in an editorial explanation here and there. But you have no protagonist, just characters you talk about. No one hesitates or rethinks. No one uses any sense other than sight and hearing. We never know the thought processes and intent of a character. And, the presentation is as an overview, not from within the viewpoint of any (or even all) characters.

Your teachers might be pleased, because you're using the nonfiction writing skills they gave you in just the way they taught you.

If that's your goal, go for it. If your goal is to interest and please readers—to entertain them—based on the response you've gotten here, you have work to do. But until you have an understanding of what a scene is on the page; until you learn the fiction writing skills you need, by rewriting with the same knowledge of technique you are, as they say, trying to rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic to make her more seaworthy.

You're taking the approach of trying to argue someone into seeing your work as you want them to see it. But it's too late. You have one and only one chance to make a first impression. And only here, on a site dedicated to writing, can you interact with a reader And you sure can't argue with an acquiring editor or agent.

So your choice is to either learn the skills of the fiction writer or don't. Learn them and you can write fiction. Fail to and you can write words. The choice is yours. And the information you need is as close as the local library system's fiction writing department. But I am not going to argue the merits of learning a profession as against guessing. I'll simply suggest you spend some time thinking about this:

After watching films for most of your life, and learning to write in school, you are not capable of writing a screenplay because you lack a necessary body of knowledge. After all the news programs and printed news stories you've read you are not ready for a career in journalism. Nor are you a tech-writer. So what are the chances that reading fiction and learning a general skill called writing will prepare you for writing fiction without additional knowledge and training? Based on the fact that everyone leaves school with the writing knowledge you presently own, and the rejection rate for queries is 99.9% + I'd place it as pretty low.

Gold Bearer
April 30th, 2017, 08:09 PM
Instead of getting off your high horse, it appears to now be wearing stilts!

But you said:
So since I obviously upset you, I'll just bow out and wish you success with your writing. :?


And yet, after seeing it multiple times you haven't caught on that given that the writing tools we leave school with are universal, having most hopeful writers make the same mistakes is to be expected. Of course I say the same things, because the mistakes are based on misunderstandings we all come to writing with. You have lots of company, but you're still writing without knowledge of what you'd learn in the first weeks of a university degree course in fiction writing.They're not misunderstandings! I'm well aware that there are better ways of writing it. If I wasn't then I wouldn't be here.


But you're arguing that you are knowledgeable, and that your writing is just what it should be.I'm not arguing that I'm knowledgeable at all. I'm arguing that maybe you're not as knowledgeable as you think you are.


So, instead of arguing the point, submit your work and sell it. That's the test. If you can't make an acquiring editor say yes you're not as you think. You've had a total of six people comment—some of them published writers—and not one said they like it.You lie!
Hi,I love the idea of introducing the chosen ones in this way. It lets us get to know them but in an unobtrusive, natural way, and the fusing of modern and mytho-fantastical elements is right up my alley. Oh, and pretty much anything involving Valkyries, shieldmaidens and Amazonian warrior-queens gets my buy-in. Can't imagine why that is :smile:


So there I just tried to make your blueprint come more alive, while also showing Rain and the panther and Tarissa doing things that lets us get to know them, all against the backdrop of this world and leading to some plot endpoint. Hopefully it's some food for thought for you. I'm conscious that I pretty much had to make stuff up like the names and the actions, props-as-symbols like the removal of the arrow or the scents in the merchants' shops, the materials used to construct the place, etc, so obviously if they are not what you want, then just experiment and swap out and in general have a bit of a play. But I lke this. I like the world, the people, the scene. I'm in. It just needs a presentation go-over :smile: Thanks for the read!


Yet you blame the people who read it for not getting it, when the responsibility of making it entertain them is yours, not theirs.No I don't blame them, just you, because you're going out of way to interpret it in the way that suits your opinion.


And the fact that it's a first draft changes nothing.Yes it does. If it were presented as a finished work then your critiques would be more appropriate and relevant.


You presented a second chunk of writing in this thread, but it differed in approach not at all. It was a nonfiction chronicle of events you envision happening of the form, "This happened...then that happened...after that she said...then he said...and by the way, the reader needs to know this..." Step by step you, someone not in the story, explain the sequence of events, while tossing in an editorial explanation here and there. But you have no protagonist, just characters you talk about. No one hesitates or rethinks. No one uses any sense other than sight and hearing. We never know the thought processes and intent of a character. And, the presentation is as an overview, not from within the viewpoint of any (or even all) characters.It's a fight scene. How would you suggest I write it?


Your teachers might be pleased, because you're using the nonfiction writing skills they gave you in just the way they taught you.Where's the emoticon for broken record? You know nothing about my education.


If that's your goal, go for it. If your goal is to interest and please readers—to entertain them—based on the response you've gotten here, you have work to do. But until you have an understanding of what a scene is on the page; until you learn the fiction writing skills you need, by rewriting with the same knowledge of technique you are, as they say, trying to rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic to make her more seaworthy.Instead of just making the same tired statements over and over why don't you give an actual example of what you mean using the short fight scene paragraph from my last post?


You're taking the approach of trying to argue someone into seeing your work as you want them to see it. But it's too late. You have one and only one chance to make a first impression. And only here, on a site dedicated to writing, can you interact with a reader And you sure can't argue with an acquiring editor or agent.No I'm not trying to argue you into seeing my work as I want it to be seen. I'm not arguing for my writing, I'm arguing against your generic and non-helpful critiques that you seem to apply to everything.


So your choice is to either learn the skills of the fiction writer or don't. Learn them and you can write fiction. Fail to and you can write words. The choice is yours. And the information you need is as close as the local library system's fiction writing department. But I am not going to argue the merits of learning a profession as against guessing. I'll simply suggest you spend some time thinking about this:

After watching films for most of your life, and learning to write in school, you are not capable of writing a screenplay because you lack a necessary body of knowledge. After all the news programs and printed news stories you've read you are not ready for a career in journalism. Nor are you a tech-writer. So what are the chances that reading fiction and learning a general skill called writing will prepare you for writing fiction without additional knowledge and training? Based on the fact that everyone leaves school with the writing knowledge you presently own, and the rejection rate for queries is 99.9% + I'd place it as pretty low.My choice is to either ignore the evidence and accept that this broken record player knows as much as he thinks he does and is actually trying to help rather then rub his own fragile ego or not. I choose the second one.

H.Brown
April 30th, 2017, 09:11 PM
Hey I will post my critique on Tuesday when I am at my laptop but from what I have read so far you are on the right track. Everyone takes time to write, do not let anyone try and tell you any different. It takes many drafts and rewrites before a story is finished. Keep writing I am already interested in where you take these characters. ��

Gold Bearer
April 30th, 2017, 09:34 PM
Thank you. I just hope I can reach the stage where writing it becomes as natural as writing this.

Ptolemy
April 30th, 2017, 10:07 PM
Alright, personally this thread has just turned into a four page bickering match with little to no constructive criticism on the piece of work at hand.

The work here is a first draft and has the characteristics of a first draft, (odd word usage, telling over showing and strict and stilted dialogue along with many other things) I've already went over the use of dialogue and how it can be used to enhanced the characteristics and push the story forward. But the whole discussion between Jay and Gold here isn't on "how the story should be written" it's about "how I think the story should be written."

It's pretty obvious that Gold is a novice writer who aspires to be more, and Jay is a published writer who is trying to push him along but it is getting lost in some pretty simple translation. After looking over your "discussion" the basis is Jay is stating his carbon copy advice of "show don't tell, school writing isn't worth much in creative writing, and that the more writing you do, the better you become, and make the story cohesive to all" which is all good and fine advice for a writer. The thing is that this is a first draft, which is always up to creative and editorial revisions. This is the point that Gold is trying to push: That "hey this is a first draft, and it seems as if we have some creative differences." Well, to each of you're guys credit, you've kind of lost the point here.

The point is that writing is not stagnant. It's not a singular line that everyone follows to a tee and is successful.

Basically, what Jay is stating is the cookiecutter basics for a story: You definitely need to differentiate between high school informational non fiction writing and creative fiction writing. I already went over this, use dialogue to show character, don't state character. "Show don't tell" is a popular saying but creative writers that is actually pretty misleading. It should actually be: "Mix showing and telling together so you can create a cohesive story." But that doesn't ring as well does it?

The thing I believe you two are getting tripped up is on the interpretation of the reader, this is where the translation of a "first draft" comes into play. Jay says that writing is a one way street and we should push our craft to be on that one linear understanding and Gold is stating the opposite where we should try to push our craft where it is more up to the reader's interpretation and "paint" our worlds like that.

And Gold is right.

See, us as writers, our goal in the craft is not to: "know how to make all reader view the scene in the same way, in spite of differences in the individual reader." but to have the reader view the scene in their own individual way where they can infer and interpret the scene at will. Our readers are not sheep, they have minds of their own. We as writers goal is not only entertain, but enlighten our readers creatively by allowing them to parse through the story in their minds. Jay, you try to hit on this by saying: "The trick is to make the reader become the protagonist, and see the story's world as that person does in the moment they call now." but this is only half the goal, the "trick" is to make the reader become the world overall. We are here to guide our readers through our story, not as sheep, but as free thinking beings. This is where the point of it being a first draft comes to play: The work is obviously not at its creative end, there is SO much that this collection of stories needs to actually be considered for a full critique of them.

The basis is: There isn't enough here to make a full basis statement like Jay is trying to make. If this was a fully wrought and completed novel with plot points, and climaxes and resolutions and other things then yes, Jay's snippets of advice would have a worlds more weight, but the thing is, there is no creative basis to spring board off into a cohesive discussion. No offense Gold (and there should be none taken) but it is just so early in the developmental process that there is no way for you to reliably place us as readers into the story, there is no way for you as an author to place us int that world you are attempting to create. I'm not saying that all first drafts are garbage creatively, I'm just saying that it is very rare that a first draft is ready and able for a solid and reliable critique of Jay's attempted magnitude. His critiques are as if this was a snippet of an already completed novel, whereas this is just a collection of short character introductions. This is where you are both getting tripped up, yes, it matters if this is a first draft and you cannot just throw that detail away for the sake of "creative discussion". Basically in four pages of bickering, you guys could not parse out what I have just stated in one forum post. Egos were stroked, ideals were swapped and discussion was had, but there was nothing of substance out of it.

Edit: And I would add on more about the "belief" thing you guys went on about, but that is is based on personal preference and I would rather not get into it.

H.Brown
April 30th, 2017, 10:35 PM
Writing is fun in the regard that it is always changing both itself and us as people when we read it. As with everything it gets easier with practice, the hardest part of writing I think is not giving up. �� Have fun, enjoy what you are writing and then it gets easier and more natural

Well said Ptolemy some great advice here. ��

Gold Bearer
April 30th, 2017, 11:15 PM
Yes, I'm hoping that's the end of it now and the bickering hasn't put people off. That's the last thing I wanted this to turn into.

What's frustrating is that I know what I need to (some of it at least) from the advice given here but I'm having trouble with the small matter of how to do properly.

I'm adding bits like this: The air felt cold yet refreshing, as if the crystals architecture were somehow cleansing its surroundings. The fresh aroma of the bakery reached his nose, 'hmm, I love that smell'. This is to try drawing the reader in with the senses of the characters. It feels tacky and forced to me. Maybe I'm avoided using things that this that feel wrong but are actually the best we to go. I know it isn't as simple as describing what the characters feel/smell etc but I'm hoping it helps.

This is the second part of the fight that will be placed after the first part of all the other fights:

'Time to go on the offensive' Eshra decided. He switched the sword to his left hand and moved in with the tip of the sword scraping the ground. Erg reacted to this by taking up a defencive posture. Eshra was briefly tempted to rush in and use his inertial to slide feet first into Erg's back foot but decided that his strong defencive stance combined with those strong ogre legs meant the chance of failing and being exposed on the deck was too great. Instead he took advantage of Erg's attention mainly being focused on his left side, where the sword now was, and through up a quick round kick so that it came from Erg's blind side. The kick missed Erg's jaw, as expected. In fact it was never intended to make contact. If Erg hadn't moved his head back then it still have stopped just short but it served its purpose. Eshra swung his sword in a wide horizontal arc at Erg's neck level, forcing him to continue to step backwards. Eshra then continued the motion he had partially hidden with his sword to move in closer and aim a spinning back kick into the tip end of Erg's club where there were no spikes, hoping to drive the spikes into Erg's mid-section. Erg reacted fast enough to move his weapon and the kick landed in his ribs. This would knock another opponent of Eshra's size off their feet and send them flying backwards but Erg was able to step back and regain his footing. Not being at all happy with being under this level of pressure Erg charged shoulder first at Eshra as was coming in to follow up. Eshra was knocked to the ground. On his back he saw Erg's club on its way down to meet his face.

Got to put the protagonist in peril. I'm enjoying the fight scenes. I'm a martial artist and I want that to be a big part of the story. Not normally to the point of dedicating a whole chapter to eight different fights though of course. :) I'm enjoying writing these. Do these work as they are? I'm assuming that fight scenes won't really follow the usual fiction writing rules.

Jay Greenstein
May 1st, 2017, 04:38 AM
I'm arguing that maybe you're not as knowledgeable as you think you are.Except that I've never placed my views on how to write here. I'm rephrasing the views of people who teach the subject at a university level, successful writers, and publishing professionals. So you're discounting the people who make their living in the field. People like Sol Stein, who was noteworthy as an editor, playwright, and writer. Jack Bickham, and Dwight Swain, who were professors of note and taught at the legendary fiction writing workshops at Oklahoma University. Editors like Michael Seidman (editor in chief of Walker's crime fiction line at the time he retired), and agents like Donalad Mass and Noah Lukeman. I've not accomplished enough on my own to tell people how to write. But they have, and you'd do well to listen to what they have to say.
The fresh aroma of the bakery reached his nose, 'hmm, I love that smell'.This is not him smelling and reacting to the bread. It's you telling the reader that he did, then having him think words that he doesn't act on, that serve no purpose, so far as moving the plot. Had you said, "The smell of baking bread reminded him that he'd not had breakfast, so he..." Then, he's the one noticing and reacting, and you don't have to step on stage with an authorial intrusion. In his life he perceives thousands of things and ignores them. Telling the reader about something that doesn't meaningfully develop character, set the scene or move the plot only slows the narrative, and should be chopped. He notices hundreds of things and does nothing than notice them, like this mention of bread. But again, he does nothing meaningful as a result, so mentioning that is as relevant as telling the reader that he scratched his ass.
This is to try drawing the reader in with the senses of the characters. It feels tacky and forced to me.And now you know why. It happens, but it's not relevant. You're chronicling his movements, not focusing on what matters to him enough to act on.

'Time to go on the offensive' Eshra decided. He switched the sword to his left hand and moved in with the tip of the sword scraping the ground. Erg reacted to this by taking up a defencive posture. Eshra was briefly tempted to rush in and use his inertial to slide feet first into Erg's back foot but decided that his strong defencive stance combined with those strong ogre legs meant the chance of failing and being exposed on the deck was too great. Instead he took advantage of Erg's attention mainly being focused on his left side, where the sword now was, and through up a quick round kick so that it came from Erg's blind side. This is not him fighting, because he fights in real time. This is reported by a dispassionate observer, in overview. So there's no immediacy or uncertainty, it's a summation of events. Your desire is to make it real to the reader. Your intent is to make it exciting for the reader. Your execution , however is to tell the reader what happens as-you-see-it. He, on the other hand, is living it, and constantly evaluating and reacting. It's his fight, but all we get is a description of your view of it.

As a not so minor point, if you are going to write of a fight with a blade you absolutely must learn to use one, both for offense and defense use. Your protagonist swings his blade wide at his opponent's neck. To do that he had to leave himself wide open for a bop with the club and quick death. But his opponent neither blocks the sword nor attacks. How real can that be?

And a round kick? Against an opponent who's ready and facing you squarely with a club in his hand? Seriously? You're facing a heavyweight with a weapon and you turn your back on him as you spin? There is no "quick" round kick. Not when you first must turn your back on your opponent, then spin back again. And even without a weapon it's too easy for a prepared opponent to catch that swinging foot and leave you balanced on one leg, helpless, and about to die. And, you lift your leg as you turn. So he can duck the leg and club you in the balls? Not something I'd advise. Hell, a swing of the club and that flying leg is shattered. He's facing someone who knows how to fight, and how to make that weapon work to his advantage. A quick side kick to take out his knee is far safer—and quicker.

The short version. Not having acquired any new writing techniques you're still telling when you should be showing. Even few hours with a book like Jack Bickham's Scene and Structure—which may be available from the local library system—would fix this.

For a sample, check the article I suggested. It's a small fragment of what you need to add to your tool box. But it has the power to make a huge improvement in your writing.

bdcharles
May 1st, 2017, 07:14 AM
Let's not turn this thread into a massive argument guys. I think we could all learn something from this: that not all readers will reply and critique and gel with our work in the way we would like, and that that's ok. It's part of the process of finding our voice. Accept/adapt/reject - we can gratefully receive their time and advice, and adapt our work - or not - based on what we want to do with our writing, and move on. There are as many takes on a piece of writing as there are readers of it. The thing to watch for is if the same suggestion gets raised frequently, then that may point to something thst needs attention. Equally when we crit, I find I get best results when I pitch my response in such a way that the original poster will get the most from it, no matter what the gist of what I want to say is. People's personalities generally come through their comments. And we're writers, right? We can skilfully target and manipulate readers with our words, so why not choose the best ones in our comments to generate the most results.

JustRob
May 1st, 2017, 08:52 AM
Thank you. I just hope I can reach the stage where writing it becomes as natural as writing this.

I still haven't got around to reading your piece properly but, once again speed reading through this entire thread, I'm getting the feeling that the lively and valuable discussion here is so far possibly more entertaining than the OP. I would see that as a key aspect of writing though, that to imbue our characters with realism we need not to write about them but to be them and write through them. I suppose what I'm describing is the writer's equivalent of method acting. Therefore your remark above has hit the nail squarely on its head for me.

The trick is to take all the fire of one's emotions about real life events and transfer that into one's characters so that they become as focussed on their lives are we are on ours. It may mean writing segments of a story out of order but it pays to strike while the iron's hot, so always use those natural surges of real emotion to good effect within your writing and it will spring to life. Of course, leave the editing until later when you can look at what you've written coolly and critically. That's my approach anyway. I write when I am angry and when I have tears in my eyes from sadness or feel elated, when my libido is riding high and equally when I am in the depths of depression. The point is that I express these emotions through my characters, not as myself. Only later do I consider whether there is a place for the scenes within my story. Sometimes they are just too real to include, too overwhelmingly emotional in my calmly determined opinion, but they can still be of use and my own mood has been tempered by writing them.

Thanks for your well considered responses to my sparse comments. It does prove that making them is worth doing and encourages us to do more. Some members barely respond to critique and that makes us wonder whether it's all worthwhile. As you've been given so much to think about by others more experienced than myself already I won't contribute any more at this stage but wait to see how your work progresses. I hope you feel that you're benefitting from WF overall. Certainly I feel that you have the right attitude, so keep at it.

MadMickyG
May 1st, 2017, 09:15 AM
I think I learned something reading this post chain. Comments from everybody, even Jay :P

Hopefully, I can put that in to all my editing/re-written stuff. I will post all my other stories (had 20 total before I joined here) as is pretty much, except for paragraphing to make it easier to read.


It may mean writing segments of a story out of order but it pays to strike while the iron's hot, so always use those natural surges of real emotion to good effect within your writing and it will spring to life.
As for JustRob's quote, I read somewhere (I believe a link from one of Jay's posts) that you should write the whole story, everything. Get it all out first. Leave it for a while, then go back.
Refine/edit, refine edit. So chop the stuff, as has been mentioned, that doesn't progress the story. (See, I'm reading/listening and learning)

The trick will be to get the hang of that process. If I wrote everything in my head, I'd miss work for a week. I have 4 novels in my head already, with only 2 started on paper. I have plenty of story concepts as well!

I might have to write it all down, then leave it while my brain rests. Then go back to it.

I have a friend who's a published author, and she gets up at 2am to write. She has talked about it, commenting that some days she struggles to write 5k words, other days she writes 12k plus.
On a side note (something I'm proud of), she read the whole Captain and Commander story. She said, as it was double spaced, she wasn't going to read it all as it was too long. Despite it's first draft-ness, she finished it, as she wanted to know the conclusion. Obviously it needs refinement, I know this. But as I discussed with her, and she has mentioned to me, we agreed not to be 'yes' people. If something I show her is lacking, she tells me honestly. The same as people do on this amazing forum. She's nice about it, but happy to tell me straight.

Apologies for hijacking Gold's thread, but I felt I needed to say this.

Keep at it Gold. Nothing worth doing is usually super-easy! Unless you'r a sevaunt! Your story is there for the telling. Just build your telling skills. With some practice, you'll be a black belt in no time! Then your stories can seriously kick some ass!

JustRob
May 1st, 2017, 11:01 AM
As for JustRob's quote, I read somewhere (I believe a link from one of Jay's posts) that you should write the whole story, everything. Get it all out first. Leave it for a while, then go back.
Refine/edit, refine edit. So chop the stuff, as has been mentioned, that doesn't progress the story. (See, I'm reading/listening and learning)

The trick will be to get the hang of that process. If I wrote everything in my head, I'd miss work for a week. I have 4 novels in my head already, with only 2 started on paper. I have plenty of story concepts as well!

I might have to write it all down, then leave it while my brain rests. Then go back to it.

Yes, I think you've got the right idea there. Don't misinterpret what I wrote though, not that I think that you necessarily have. (These threads are as much for the benefit of others reading them as for the immediate contributors, as you have plainly realised.) Depending on your personal preference writing can be a progression, much like painting a picture, with the broad brush strokes being thrown together rapidly and then the finer details added in stages. An initial draft may well contain just the bare bones of the story, telling it rather than showing its inner reality, creating a framework on which to hang the individual detailed scenes as they evolve later. It's in that later evolution that one can use one's real emotions, at which point the framework is already there to keep the overall structure in shape.

On my website there are two versions of my novel. The one that I direct readers to is only the first half of the story, the part which I have fully fleshed out. Deeper down in the website pages there is an earlier draft which also contains the second half in its rough form. It is still quite readable but tends just to tell the story as at that point I was writing it merely to gauge how long the entire novel would be. Since writing it I have rewritten individual chapters but haven't compiled them into a complete work yet. In fact the second half is so full of emotional scenes that I am struggling to keep it on an even keel and pitch it at the right level, but the main story line hasn't changed from that early draft in any significant way.

This first novel of mine is only the beginning of an even longer story spanning a trilogy of novels, so as you say there's always a lot more brewing in a writer's mind than his immediate WIP. This is necessary though if a long saga is to appear self-consistent with intriguing cross-references within it. You don't say whether your four novels are connected or not. Personally I can only cope with one set of characters in one context or world at a time, but no doubt other writers can compartmentalise their work in more elaborate ways. No doubt you will eventually discover the way of working that best suits you. I already have some chapters of those later novels of mine written just as a consequence of the time being right in my mind to write them.

By writing detailed chapters at intervals throughout a story, rather than the whole thing in detail in strict order, one can recognise aspects of the story or the characters within it that don't come to mind when writing a rough draft. For example, I had always intended the encounter between a boy and girl within my novel to end after about two weeks, but I didn't realise exactly why it ended then until I came to write that segment with my emotions fully engaged and realised what drove the girl to insist on their breaking it off. Only by thinking as her did I see the overwhelming reason, but one has to be in the right mood to do that. That revelation caused me to change elements of the story line to integrate the idea fully, giving the whole far more impact. Had I not tackled that isolated portion in detail when I did it might have been far more difficult to adapt the story line later.

So, there's no harm and quite likely benefits in letting a story mature in your mind for a while before writing the text for real. You may have many exciting ideas brewing but you'll know when one really demands to be written. Think about it; I never even intended to write any fiction ever and then this story formed in my head and demanded to be written. I had to learn how to write fiction just to satisfy that one compulsion even though I had never intended to. When the spirit moves you, then you can put the spirit into your writing.

MadMickyG
May 1st, 2017, 11:34 AM
As most I imagine, an idea from something that happened. Or a line, such as my Crime Doesn't Pay story. I grew that around a single line, "I'm a vampire!" The one I just posted an hour or so ago, came from muscle spasms in my arm. I had the crazy thought, what if they were a message, in Morse Code? Ideas from anywhere and everywhere.
My problem is, as I spend quite a bit of time exercising without music, I have loads of time to think about things. I can focus on a specific story, or a point I need to get to, trying to figure out how. A lot of the time, I do this as I write. But sometimes, the story needs a bit of concentration. It's kind of my meditation. :P

Gold Bearer
May 1st, 2017, 12:42 PM
Except that I've never placed my views on how to write here. I'm rephrasing the views of people who teach the subject at a university level, successful writers, and publishing professionals. So you're discounting the people who make their living in the field. People like Sol Stein, who was noteworthy as an editor, playwright, and writer. Jack Bickham, and Dwight Swain, who were professors of note and taught at the legendary fiction writing workshops at Oklahoma University. Editors like Michael Seidman (editor in chief of Walker's crime fiction line at the time he retired), and agents like Donalad Mass and Noah Lukeman. I've not accomplished enough on my own to tell people how to write. But they have, and you'd do well to listen to what they have to say.I listened the first time. Having it repeated to me over and over with no examples or elaboration of how to implement it doesn't help, it's just annoying.


This is not him smelling and reacting to the bread. It's you telling the reader that he did, then having him think words that he doesn't act on, that serve no purpose, so far as moving the plot. Had you said, "The smell of baking bread reminded him that he'd not had breakfast, so he..." Then, he's the one noticing and reacting, and you don't have to step on stage with an authorial intrusion. In his life he perceives thousands of things and ignores them. Telling the reader about something that doesn't meaningfully develop character, set the scene or move the plot only slows the narrative, and should be chopped. He notices hundreds of things and does nothing than notice them, like this mention of bread. But again, he does nothing meaningful as a result, so mentioning that is as relevant as telling the reader that he scratched his ass.

And now you know why. It happens, but it's not relevant. You're chronicling his movements, not focusing on what matters to him enough to act on.Now that's actually useful.


This is not him fighting, because he fights in real time. This is reported by a dispassionate observer, in overview. So there's no immediacy or uncertainty, it's a summation of events. Your desire is to make it real to the reader. Your intent is to make it exciting for the reader. Your execution , however is to tell the reader what happens as-you-see-it. He, on the other hand, is living it, and constantly evaluating and reacting. It's his fight, but all we get is a description of your view of it.Okay, then it's coach's perspective of watching the fight.


As a not so minor point, if you are going to write of a fight with a blade you absolutely must learn to use one, both for offense and defense use. Your protagonist swings his blade wide at his opponent's neck. To do that he had to leave himself wide open for a bop with the club and quick death. But his opponent neither blocks the sword nor attacks. How real can that be?

And a round kick? Against an opponent who's ready and facing you squarely with a club in his hand? Seriously? You're facing a heavyweight with a weapon and you turn your back on him as you spin? There is no "quick" round kick. Not when you first must turn your back on your opponent, then spin back again. And even without a weapon it's too easy for a prepared opponent to catch that swinging foot and leave you balanced on one leg, helpless, and about to die. And, you lift your leg as you turn. So he can duck the leg and club you in the balls? Not something I'd advise. Hell, a swing of the club and that flying leg is shattered. He's facing someone who knows how to fight, and how to make that weapon work to his advantage. A quick side kick to take out his knee is far safer—and quicker.Okay, I draw the frigging line here! You're talking to someone who's trained in six different styles and has his name incorporated into the name of a club.

"And a round kick? Against an opponent who's ready and facing you squarely with a club in his hand? Seriously? You're facing a heavyweight with a weapon and you turn your back on him as you spin?" What do you think a roundhouse kick is? :) You don't turn your back on the opponent and it can be done extremely quickly. This is a round kick: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hUvPWg7yIPM (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hUvPWg7yIPM) I assume you're thinking of a spinning hook kick. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7vC2U8mv3_s (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7vC2U8mv3_s) 0:09. I really need to make a new video, that was not long after I stating training again after major back problems. The kick comes round from the outside, that's why it's called a roundhouse or turning kick. Erg was looking at the sword in Eshra's left hand the kick comes from the outside of the opposite side of Eshra's body. "Instead he took advantage of Erg's attention mainly being focused on his left side, where the sword now was, and through up a quick round kick so that it came from Erg's blind side."

"Your protagonist swings his blade wide at his opponent's neck. To do that he had to leave himself wide open for a bop with the club and quick death. But his opponent neither blocks the sword nor attacks. How real can that be?" Because he simply moved backwards. He was already moving backwards after the kick so would have to simply continue that motion rather than having time to shift his weight. "Eshra swung his sword in a wide horizontal arc at Erg's neck level, forcing him to continue to step backwards." That's what the kick was for, to get him shifting his weight backwards. "The kick missed Erg's jaw, as expected. In fact it was never intended to make contact. If Erg hadn't moved his head back then it still have stopped just short but it served its purpose." That allowed Eshra to swing the sword in horizontal plane to stet up the real attack by continuing that turning motion into what is actually a spinning kick. "Eshra then continued the motion he had partially hidden with his sword to move in closer and aim a spinning back kick into the tip end of Erg's club where there were no spikes, hoping to drive the spikes into Erg's mid-section." Although technically there's no such thing as a spinning back kick, it's a turning back kick, half spin. The other half is after the actual kick. If I put turning back kick though most people will imagine it wrong, it looks like a spin kick to most people. I might change roundhouse to turning kick because a lot of USians seem to get that wrong.


The short version. Not having acquired any new writing techniques you're still telling when you should be showing. Even few hours with a book like Jack Bickham's Scene and Structure—which may be available from the local library system—would fix this.

For a sample, check the article I suggested. It's a small fragment of what you need to add to your tool box. But it has the power to make a huge improvement in your writing.I don't think those apply to fight scenes. These aren't about what the characters are felling in that moment or their motivation for the next event. There's no time for any of that nonesense, it's a fight!


Let's not turn this thread into a massive argument guys.He said he was going away. Can I ban him from my thread?
:ChainGunSmiley:


I still haven't got around to reading your piece properly but, once again speed reading through this entire thread, I'm getting the feeling that the lively and valuable discussion here is so far possibly more entertaining than the OP. :sorrow:


I would see that as a key aspect of writing though, that to imbue our characters with realism we need not to write about them but to be them and write through them. I suppose what I'm describing is the writer's equivalent of method acting. Therefore your remark above has hit the nail squarely on its head for me.

The trick is to take all the fire of one's emotions about real life events and transfer that into one's characters so that they become as focussed on their lives are we are on ours. It may mean writing segments of a story out of order but it pays to strike while the iron's hot, so always use those natural surges of real emotion to good effect within your writing and it will spring to life. Of course, leave the editing until later when you can look at what you've written coolly and critically. That's my approach anyway. I write when I am angry and when I have tears in my eyes from sadness or feel elated, when my libido is riding high and equally when I am in the depths of depression. The point is that I express these emotions through my characters, not as myself. Only later do I consider whether there is a place for the scenes within my story. Sometimes they are just too real to include, too overwhelmingly emotional in my calmly determined opinion, but they can still be of use and my own mood has been tempered by writing them.Hmm, not sure how to channel my emotions into my writing yet.


Thanks for your well considered responses to my sparse comments. It does prove that making them is worth doing and encourages us to do more. Some members barely respond to critique and that makes us wonder whether it's all worthwhile. As you've been given so much to think about by others more experienced than myself already I won't contribute any more at this stage but wait to see how your work progresses. I hope you feel that you're benefitting from WF overall. Certainly I feel that you have the right attitude, so keep at it.I do but it's frustrating at the same time.


Apologies for hijacking Gold's thread, but I felt I needed to say this.No you two carry on. It makes it seem like my story is generating more interest than it actually is.

JustRob
May 1st, 2017, 02:54 PM
:ChainGunSmiley:

:sorrow:

Hmm, not sure how to channel my emotions into my writing yet.

I do but it's frustrating at the same time.


It's a shame that you can't channel them in that way when you seem to have so many to work with. The art is to choose characters that you can wear like a cloak. If there isn't some part of you in them then you can't bring them to life. Think of it as acting rather than writing. The writing then becomes an emotional outlet, which may be exactly why many here do it. Don't write what you think you should but what you need to. That will give it life.

I wrote my novel not because I had any wish to become a writer at all but just because I wanted to purge a whole lot of useless thoughts from my mind, but when I wrote them all down and rearranged them I discovered that I had a pretty good story. Now I am stuck with a whole lot of useless thoughts about being a writer. You just can't win apparently but I'm trying to resist the irrational urge. Sorry, isn't this Writers Anonymous? Perhaps I'm on the wrong website then.

Gold Bearer
May 1st, 2017, 03:24 PM
It's a shame that you can't channel them in that way when you seem to have so many to work with.Are you saying I should add emoticons to the story to show the emotions of the characters. Hmm, interesting idea. Rain felt very :(. Ashara cheered him up, :D.


The art is to choose characters that you can wear like a cloak. If there isn't some part of you in them then you can't bring them to life. Think of it as acting rather than writing. The writing then becomes an emotional outlet, which may be exactly why many here do it. Don't write what you think you should but what you need to. That will give it life.I do have a strong enough grasp of who the main characters are and can play out their personalities in my head, I just need to work on getting that in writing. From what I've gathered the general gist is, show don't tell. I need to get the knack of doing that.

Edit:
I think I'm going to scrap that second fight paragraph. Not for the reasons Jay Greenstein gave, it just doesn't really work, even against a big lumbering ogre. I'll treat Erg as if he's just a big dude. I want to keep a head kick in there somewhere just to show that my ogres aren't super huge without having to explicitly state it.

MadMickyG
May 1st, 2017, 09:36 PM
But I used to love show and tell!! Can't do that instead of show, don't tell?? ;)

There are little snippets of gold from all the comments, as long as you see and understand them. We are growing young padawan. Slowly, but we are growing. :)
Yes, I am the master here (using that term very loosely btw.)

Jay Greenstein
May 2nd, 2017, 04:43 AM
I listened the first time. Having it repeated to me over and over with no examples or elaboration of how to implement it doesn't help, it's just annoying.You're making the mistake of thinking that showing you an example will teach you a profession for which they offer four year majors in the university. There are examples of how to approach the act of writing fiction in every novel you read. But art conceals art, and you can no more see what's being done—or what decision points the author hit successfully than you can see how the magician does his tricks .Your choice is to take the time to learn how to write fiction for the page, or, you can continue to wing it and hope to get it right by chance. This is the best writers site I've found, but it's a place to get reaction, talk about writing, and more. It is not a writing school

“Michaelangelo did not have a college degree, nor did Leonardo da Vinci. Thomas Edison didn't. Neither did Mark Twain (though he was granted honorary degrees in later life.) All of these people were professionals. None of them were experts. Get your education from professionals, and always avoid experts.”
~ Holly Lisle
Okay, then it's coach's perspective of watching the fight.No, the coach is not the protagonist. And in any case it contains no elements of anyone's perspective, it's a summation. The protagonist isn't the one we talk about, it's the one we've been made to care about, not just know what they do and say. Your reader wants to become the protagonist, not hear about that character from someone invisible speaking in a monotone. Have your computer read your work aloud and you'll hear the problem.
Okay, I draw the frigging line here! You're talking to someone who's trained in six different styles and has his name incorporated into the name of a club.So you say. But if you came at me dragging your sword tip on the ground, as you have your character do, instead of being ready, you'd be dead before you got within ten feet. And if you tried a round kick on me you'd stand a good chance of hopping around the dojo on one leg while I held the other aloft. That's the danger in any high kick. Krav Maga doesn't screw around with flashy moves that look good on TV.

Perhaps in person you're a competent athlete. But I was talking about the fight you described. And your description of swordsmanship, and the fight in general, made your swordsman seem an idiot.
This is a round kickNo, it's not. And it's not listed as such. It starts to the side and lashes out in that direction, so it's called a side kick. In a round kick you start with a straight out kick, then rotate the leg to the side to complete the kick with a round movement. Here's a round kick (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yIawbHsotgI). Notice the hop as he pivots, getting ready to kick. That slows it down, so it's not a fast kick.

You were right in one issue, though. I mentally read spinning back round kick instead of a simple round kick. But none the less, the round kick takes two motions, and the opponent in that fight holds what amounts to a shield. That club will not only parry the kick it will shatter the leg. Or, he could just bop your protagonist over the head since he's open, and watch him crumple. You present the opponent as an inept fighter so your hero will look good. And your hero fights him as if the club is no threat—and indeed it isn't, which is hardly realistic. You do not fight an opponent who carries a significant weapon the same way as one who us unarmed. But your hero does. And in the real world, that opponent would be as competent with the club as our hero is with his fighting.
Because he simply moved backwards. He was already moving backwards after the kick so would have to simply continue that motion rather than having time to shift his weight. "Eshra swung his sword in a wide horizontal arc at Erg's neck level, forcing him to continue to step backwards.As I said, you need to learn swordsmanship. A sword's length multiplies the speed of your arm movement. So there's no time to step back. Swordsmen have a cool move called the parry that does the job, instead. They also have another cool called leaning back that's pretty fast. You give ground because the opponent is too close and perhaps in a position that it's difficult to defend from. But if I move my sword to the side far enough to give you time to move back as it swings you don't. You attack the unprotected body and the fight is over.
I don't think those apply to fight scenes.Look, I mean no insult. But at this point, not having studied the profession every "I think," you have is based on supposition, not knowledge. Lots of things sound reasonable if you're missing critical data.
He said he was going away. Can I ban him from my thread?I said I was bowing out, but you continued the conversation. Sorry, I didn't realize that you were just trying to get in the last word. My bad. ;)

H.Brown
May 2nd, 2017, 08:46 AM
This argument has now gotten old Jay Greenstien and Gold Bearer. I am not the first mentor to step in and say this so please let me be the last this is a thread for constructive critiques. Not everyone that goes into writing goes through university and should not be made to feel like they have to go down that route to become a successful writer. We help each other to improve here on WF and if a member is serious about improving their skills as a writer we older members should be there to support them where we can. Can you both go your separate ways and leave this thread open for those member that wish to offer critique as this bickering is going to put others off.

Gold Bearer
May 2nd, 2017, 04:27 PM
You're making the mistake of thinking that showing you an example will teach you a profession for which they offer four year majors in the university. There are examples of how to approach the act of writing fiction in every novel you read. But art conceals art, and you can no more see what's being done—or what decision points the author hit successfully than you can see how the magician does his tricks .Your choice is to take the time to learn how to write fiction for the page, or, you can continue to wing it and hope to get it right by chance. This is the best writers site I've found, but it's a place to get reaction, talk about writing, and more. It is not a writing schoolA simple example would help illustrate what you keep repeating over and over. I am taking the time to learn how to write fiction for the page, just not from you because all you can do is keep saying the same generic crap thinking that it makes you appear knowledgeable.


“Michaelangelo did not have a college degree, nor did Leonardo da Vinci. Thomas Edison didn't. Neither did Mark Twain (though he was granted honorary degrees in later life.) All of these people were professionals. None of them were experts. Get your education from professionals, and always avoid experts.”
~ Holly LisleEr, kay. Thanks for that.


No, the coach is not the protagonist. And in any case it contains no elements of anyone's perspective, it's a summation. The protagonist isn't the one we talk about, it's the one we've been made to care about, not just know what they do and say. Your reader wants to become the protagonist, not hear about that character from someone invisible speaking in a monotone. Have your computer read your work aloud and you'll hear the problem.I just said that to try to shut you up.


So you say. But if you came at me dragging your sword tip on the ground, as you have your character do, instead of being ready, you'd be dead before you got within ten feet. And if you tried a round kick on me you'd stand a good chance of hopping around the dojo on one leg while I held the other aloft. That's the danger in any high kick. Krav Maga doesn't screw around with flashy moves that look good on TV.Oh I'm so sick of this from Krav Maga. It's got its strengths like all martial arts but its biggest problem is that its lack of highly technical moves means it's become a dumping ground for failed martial artists. It leaves out the more technical moves because it's designed to be a crash course on self defense. That's a weakness of the system, not a strength. The only up side to that is that it can be used effectively almost immediately.

The only people who say that high kicks are 'too flashy and unrealistic' are the people can't do them properly. It does apply to some kicks (but those are for training and demonstration purposes, and fun) but all the basic kicks are highly effective if your speed and timing are good, at any height. Even if I told you I was about to do a high round kick and all you had to do was block it, you wouldn't be able to.


Perhaps in person you're a competent athlete. But I was talking about the fight you described. And your description of swordsmanship, and the fight in general, made your swordsman seem an idiot.Remember, he's up against an iddiot so he can do things that he wouldn't normally be able to. Although I am going to change that paragraph and write it more as if he's fighting just another person, as I said.


No, it's not. And it's not listed as such. It starts to the side and lashes out in that direction, so it's called a side kick. In a round kick you start with a straight out kick, then rotate the leg to the side to complete the kick with a round movement. Here's a round kick (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yIawbHsotgI). Notice the hop as he pivots, getting ready to kick. That slows it down, so it's not a fast kick.Lol Roundhouse kicks are not usually done with a hop, it's a fast kick and they can be extremely fast. Kwonkicker isn't really the best example, he's a nice bloke but he's got some very personalised ways of doing things that are a bit weird. GingerNinjaTrickster is the best youtube martial artist especially for kicks, much more traditional.

Yes it was a round kick in the video, I should know, I was the one doing it! It is definitely not a side kick, that's a completely different technique that thrusts down a straight path rather than snapping with an arc. The one in the video is called a lazy roundhouse (not a derogatory term) that minimises the arc to increase the speed. It's used a lot in kickboxing.

This just confirms that you like to pretend that you know things about subjects that you don't have the first clue about.


You were right in one issue, though. I mentally read spinning back round kick instead of a simple round kick.There's no such thing as a spinning back round kick. A back kick and a round kick are two completely different techniques. A back kick is basically a side kick from a different position. You thought a roundhouse kick was a spinning hook kick. Lots of people make that mistake.


But none the less, the round kick takes two motions, and the opponent in that fight holds what amounts to a shield. That club will not only parry the kick it will shatter the leg. Or, he could just bop your protagonist over the head since he's open, and watch him crumple. You present the opponent as an inept fighter so your hero will look good. And your hero fights him as if the club is no threat—and indeed it isn't, which is hardly realistic. You do not fight an opponent who carries a significant weapon the same way as one who us unarmed. But your hero does. And in the real world, that opponent would be as competent with the club as our hero is with his fighting.He's fighting a physically and mentally slow ogre! The usual rules don't apply.


As I said, you need to learn swordsmanship. A sword's length multiplies the speed of your arm movement. So there's no time to step back. Swordsmen have a cool move called the parry that does the job, instead. They also have another cool called leaning back that's pretty fast. You give ground because the opponent is too close and perhaps in a position that it's difficult to defend from. But if I move my sword to the side far enough to give you time to move back as it swings you don't. You attack the unprotected body and the fight is over.In this instance the sword was starting from a position of having it's tip on the ground and following a wide arc as it was swung with the arm, so in this case the tip of the sword stayed in line with his arm. Basically a haymaker, done to intentionally give his opponent time to continue moving backwards in order to avoid it.


Look, I mean no insult. But at this point, not having studied the profession every "I think," you have is based on supposition, not knowledge. Lots of things sound reasonable if you're missing critical data.That's why I'm here, to get more knowledge. That doesn't mean I'm going to just accept what someone tells me on faith, especially if I get the strong impression that the person doesn't really know what they're talking about.


I said I was bowing out, but you continued the conversation. Sorry, I didn't realize that you were just trying to get in the last word. My bad. :wink:Oh so what you really meant was, 'I'm going to bow out now, provided of course that you let me have the last word." ;) Seriously, please go away!


This argument has now gotten old Jay Greenstien and Gold Bearer. I am not the first mentor to step in and say this so please let me be the last this is a thread for constructive critiques. Not everyone that goes into writing goes through university and should not be made to feel like they have to go down that route to become a successful writer. We help each other to improve here on WF and if a member is serious about improving their skills as a writer we older members should be there to support them where we can. Can you both go your separate ways and leave this thread open for those member that wish to offer critique as this bickering is going to put others off.It was old after his first post. I'm not going anywhere unless I'm forced to, this is my thread, it's about my story!

If you want this forum to be an encouraging place for new members, as I'm sure you do, then you've got a real problem on your hands with this guy.

H.Brown
May 2nd, 2017, 07:10 PM
GB this is just adding fuel to the fire at this point. I am not telling you to go anywhere I think that you have a lot of potential. Just ignore the comments made (if any are) from this point on. I will post my thoughts on your characters later on tonight.

Please stop the bickering, I want this to be the last time that I say the above words please and thank you.

mrmustard615
May 2nd, 2017, 07:36 PM
How about I say stop the bickering? This little skirmish between certain people here isn't helping anybody. So, cease and desist or I will close this thread!

Darkkin
May 2nd, 2017, 10:22 PM
Having read through this. The major issue you have is too many irons in the fire, all tell and no show. (This has been cover, so moving on...) Deer check the info dumping , (In this case a surfeit of perspectives, most writers end up info dumping at some point, whether it is world details or perspective minutia), and take a little more time flesh out the characters. It isn't just about how well they fight. Ask yourself, are they all so important that the reader has to know them the instant the story starts? Consider how you react when introduced to a whole bunch of new people you know nothing about, are you going to remember all their names? Are they going to keep your interest when you don't know them? Chances are no. Same situation. Get the reader to empathize. Give them a reason to care.

It is basic pacing, it needs to be taken into consideration. Good stories take the reader along, you meet characters as you go, experiencing the meetings through the main protagonist's eyes. Right now you overwhelm the reader, not really giving them much time to develop a rapport with any of the characters. If a reader doesn't click with something, empathize with someone chances of them commiting to the entire story are nil.

Take a look at your opening sequence, put the reader in the head of that character. Employ that characters five senses. Sight, sound, touch, taste, smell. The weight of the weapons, a twinging muscle, the clink of armour, the sour smell of sweat. All things that can draw the reader in and illustrate, not merely demonstrate. It is active engagement of the reader's imagination and it doesn't happen when the reader is trying to sort through eight different characters. Too many balls in the air. Dial it back. Work with one or two in depth, if possible RPG them. Sounds weird, but it is a good way to see how your characters will react. It is a good way to get to know them.

Another tool to help with things like pacing and show verse tell, is reverse critique. Take a look at books that you like to read. Take a critical look them. Take it apart. What works and why? Now compare and contrast. How is your work similar and how is it different? Look at functional elements like character developement, how the authors transition from A to B, and consider what the authors do that fixes your attention as a reader. Did the author hand the reader everything at once, or did they work the introductions into the pace of the story? Does encounter with character X tigger reaction Y?

Some excellent examples of well paced fantasy: The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss and Twelve Kings in Sharakhai by Brandley Beaulieu. The opening of Twelve Kings starts on a similar note, but it is told from a single POV. It is a good example of starting with an action sequence, but still establishing surroundings and character rapport.

H.Brown
May 2nd, 2017, 10:39 PM
I agree with what Dharkin has already pointed out. Begin with one charcter and add more along the way. A story is a journey help the reader to live that story.

Some more examples of great fantasy are:

Robert Jordan's Wheel of time series. He crafts an epic adventure around six different main characters without breaking the pace of his books. Each one is different and exciting jn their own way. I would also suggest Robin Hobb's Farseer trilogy and Raymond E Feist's Magician and following books.


With help and time your writing will improve GB is it a process that requires patients. I look forward to seeing how these charcters evolve and the world they will live in.

Gold Bearer
May 2nd, 2017, 11:42 PM
Thanks you two for taking the time to read it and for the feedback but I won't be abandoning the intro chapters as a prologue, and then chapter 1 as the fights. I like the idea way too much and I think it's the best way to introduce a wide group of characters. This way the reader will know when the character is one of the main eight or not and it creates a clear divide with the supporting characters like Tarissa, Irencis and Kriss, making it easier to keep the characters straight by putting them into two groups.

I just need to improve the way the opening is written to give it a bit more depth and make it come to life and to make it read better. Using senses as you say is something I'm trying to add because I thought it would help to pull the reader in, I just need to improve the way it's done to make it seem less forced, same applies to a lot of the rest of it.

The characters are much more than just fighters, they are fully fleshed out with full depth but being fighters is a big part of who they are, and it's part of what makes them the chosen eight. The chosen eight isn't a term I ever intended on using the in story, I've just fallen into using it when I talk about.

H.Brown
May 2nd, 2017, 11:58 PM
That's great GB I look forward to seeing this. Have a look over it again, make your changes then post again for us to read. :-)

Jay Greenstein
May 3rd, 2017, 04:11 AM
Not everyone that goes into writing goes through university and should not be made to feel like they have to go down that route to become a successful writer. Of course not. And I've not suggested that here any more then I did to you when I looked at one of your stories. But the fact that our schooldays writing skills are nonfiction isn't in question. And while this is a great writing site, it's not a school, if for no other reason than that the "student" is incapable of differentiating between sincerely offered but incomplete advice and what an acquiring editor will approve. The 99.9+% rejection rate attests to the truth of that.

So our need to acquire additional skills is obvious. And given that the public library is filled with the necessary information, and is free, pointing that out is no no way inappropriate.

MadMickyG
May 3rd, 2017, 08:12 AM
Just wanted to add my two cents regarding the fight moves. Having done so many styles of martial arts, which include Kung fu, kick boxing, karate and tae kwondo over the past 30 years, I have found most have the same moves, but are called something else. I've seen a round house kick called a side kick, a crescent kick (as I know them) and a few other names I can't even remember. It's interpretation, more about the style and its's origins. Jay, as you mentioned, it's how GB sees the fight he's trying to portray, so he knows the details. It may seem illogical, but you don't have all the facts. It may not make a while lot of sense to start with, but that's why GB is writing it out. There may be refinement done to improve it
Imp it, or add a touch of realism so it does make more sense.
And regarding kick speed, I've seen some snappy kick speeds. You watch some of the shaolin monks kick, they are damn quick.

JustRob
May 3rd, 2017, 09:50 AM
Alexandria: Human Valkyrie
Eshra: Human Warrior (Pit Fighter)
Sara: Elven er, mixture, Ranger I suppose is the closest
Rain: Elven Swashbuckler/Sword Fighter
Celina: Human Paladin
Eli: Elf Magicalish Warrior (Soldier)
Ashara: Half-Elven Battle Shaman
Cassandra: Elven Knight



I'm bemused by the amount of discussion here on the realities of martial arts, which I haven't even bothered to read, while I'm still trying to work out whether a Valkyrie's wings are physical or conceptual. On another thread I have just posted a grumble about the ludicrous bureaucracy in athletics with its complex rules and regulations. May I suggest that high fantasy is intended to be a flexible genre that doesn't deserve to be microscopically analysed in this way. Elsewhere I have also remarked that hard science fiction stories can end up reading like science textbooks and lose their entertainment value. In a like vein please decide whether this work is high fantasy or a textbook on martial arts with worked examples and treat it accordingly in this thread. The above quote gives a clue about this.

My own physique is at slight variance from the human norm, but even this almost imperceptible difference has influenced my choices of activities in life. Similarly one cannot introduce characters such as elves and half-elves without rewriting the human martial arts books to suit them. Just the slightest deviance in details such as bodily proportions, muscle groups and flexibility of joints would totally change their optimum means of physical combat, so there can be no right or wrong in it, only consistency. Provided that your fiction is self-consistent the reader has an obligation to accept it. There is to my knowledge no overarching ruling body on the anatomy of elves, so your perception of them is as good as anyone else's. It would probably be far more entertaining to read about a unique style of martial art practised by your characters than the run of the mill sort to which we humans are limited. It often isn't what is consistent with reality which gives a story appeal but what sets it apart, especially in high fantasy. I cite Stephen Donaldson's ur-viles as an example. He gave them a unique name and a unique way of fighting, which set them apart from any other races in fantasy fiction.

As an example elsewhere, many writers here regard depicting the sexual act as of little value in stories as we all have a fair idea of how all the variations can go. In my fantasy writing I experiment with physically impossible variations on the sexual act, which is certainly far more entertaining to write and maybe also to read; I don't know that yet. Equally when I see conventional fights depicted in a story I am inclined to skip over the details just as one would with a conventional sex scene, the brain going into yah-de-dah-de-dah mode for the duration until the story picks up again. In both cases one is really only interested in who won and what the injuries were. Maybe not everyone sees sex or fighting in those terms though.

Going back to the importance of fantasy anatomy, in that side of my writing I also include a relatively detailed explanation of how fairies, the Victorian variety with physical wings that is, (unlike your conceptually winged and hence disadvantaged Valkyries) fly. Apparently the grouping of their major muscles has been overlooked by writers on the subject and artists, so I have given it some thought and my fairies may functionally differ from any "norm" elsewhere, but that's part of the enjoyment of both fiction writing and reading.

I have always maintained that one must keep one's target readers in mind when writing. If the world is really so full of critical experts on martial arts who spend their time reading about magical elves, then I'm glad that I'm old because humanity is just getting too weird for me. Tolkien couldn't have known what he was starting back when I was a boy.

Gold Bearer
May 3rd, 2017, 03:11 PM
Just wanted to add my two cents regarding the fight moves. Having done so many styles of martial arts, which include Kung fu, kick boxing, karate and tae kwondo over the past 30 years, I have found most have the same moves, but are called something else. I've seen a round house kick called a side kick, a crescent kick (as I know them) and a few other names I can't even remember. It's interpretation, more about the style and its's origins. Jay, as you mentioned, it's how GB sees the fight he's trying to portray, so he knows the details. It may seem illogical, but you don't have all the facts. It may not make a while lot of sense to start with, but that's why GB is writing it out. There may be refinement done to improve it
Imp it, or add a touch of realism so it does make more sense.
And regarding kick speed, I've seen some snappy kick speeds. You watch some of the shaolin monks kick, they are damn quick.I've never come across a roundhouse being called a sidekick before.

This is what I was going for:
Eshra moves forwards dragging the tip of his sword along the ground to get the stupid ogre looking in the wrong place, Erg doesn't want to attack thinking that Eshra has some trick up his sleeve with the sword and the sword is facing downward so he thinks he's not in immediate danger, Eshra quickly moves in and throws up a high kick just to get Erg to move his head backwards and then brings the sword up across Erg's neck level as he steps in and plants a turning back kick into Ergs club that he's holding close to his body.

It doesn't read very well which is why I'm going to change it. It might work better after something else instead of as an opening to move sequence.


I'm bemused by the amount of discussion here on the realities of martial arts, which I haven't even bothered to read, while I'm still trying to work out whether a Valkyrie's wings are physical or conceptual.Neither. Or maybe you meant the valkyries of mythology. My valkyries don't have wings at all. They're ancient mystical bloodline of fully human demon slayers. You can blame a very old computer game called Gauntlet that had a valkyrie character. This might be a problem if most readers associate the term valkyrie with something else, I might have to change the name. I am actually coming round to the idea of giving them wings but it would make one character really stand out from the other seven and that's not what I want.


On another thread I have just posted a grumble about the ludicrous bureaucracy in athletics with its complex rules and regulations. May I suggest that high fantasy is intended to be a flexible genre that doesn't deserve to be microscopically analysed in this way. Elsewhere I have also remarked that hard science fiction stories can end up reading like science textbooks and lose their entertainment value. In a like vein please decide whether this work is high fantasy or a textbook on martial arts with worked examples and treat it accordingly in this thread. The above quote gives a clue about this.It's a high fantasy story with a group of characters who are all fighters of various styles and backgrounds. They have other attributes, the valkyrie is kind of permanently blessed, one's a healer, two are decent archers, one can cast spells from artifacts like scrolls and wands, one can cast for real, one is kind of psychic (Ashara, the shaman), but at their heart, when it comes to battling their foes, they're a bunch of kick arse fighters.

Although the discussion has gone this way, it doesn't mean that the story will read like a martial arts encyclopedia. It will have plenty of fight scenes and I want them to be enjoyable from both a fantasy perspective and from a martial arts perspective. The reason why I'm trying to be creative with the fights early on is I want them all to be as distinct as possible.


My own physique is at slight variance from the human norm, but even this almost imperceptible difference has influenced my choices of activities in life. Similarly one cannot introduce characters such as elves and half-elves without rewriting the human martial arts books to suit them. Just the slightest deviance in details such as bodily proportions, muscle groups and flexibility of joints would totally change their optimum means of physical combat, so there can be no right or wrong in it, only consistency. Provided that your fiction is self-consistent the reader has an obligation to accept it. There is to my knowledge no overarching ruling body on the anatomy of elves, so your perception of them is as good as anyone else's. It would probably be far more entertaining to read about a unique style of martial art practised by your characters than the run of the mill sort to which we humans are limited. It often isn't what is consistent with reality which gives a story appeal but what sets it apart, especially in high fantasy. I cite Stephen Donaldson's ur-viles as an example. He gave them a unique name and a unique way of fighting, which set them apart from any other races in fantasy fiction.I'm not really sure how I'd give them their own unique fighting style, they're basically humanoid so the same rules would apply. I'll look up ur-viles too see what he did. My elves are very human-like, both in appearance and physique. Elves live a lot longer, have better eyesight, tend to have better balance and coordination, are more magically inclined, but are physically a bit weaker than humans. Their eyesight means they tend to be good archers but this isn't a rule. Rain is useless with a bow I've got a couple of lines for that. "I thought elves had good eyesight." "I do have good eyesight. I can see the target perfectly, I just can't get the fucking arrow to go where I'm looking."


As an example elsewhere, many writers here regard depicting the sexual act as of little value in stories as we all have a fair idea of how all the variations can go. In my fantasy writing I experiment with physically impossible variations on the sexual act, which is certainly far more entertaining to write and maybe also to read; I don't know that yet. Equally when I see conventional fights depicted in a story I am inclined to skip over the details just as one would with a conventional sex scene, the brain going into yah-de-dah-de-dah mode for the duration until the story picks up again. In both cases one is really only interested in who won and what the injuries were. Maybe not everyone sees sex or fighting in those terms though.I'm hoping that I can write the first actual chapter in a way that will be exciting for readers like yourself. Part of that will be by alternating between the eight fights which I think will help. I pleased with the first paragraph of Eshra's fight and hopefully and the very end of the second one, hopefully I can make them interesting from the perspective of fight fans and just plain fantasy fans.


Going back to the importance of fantasy anatomy, in that side of my writing I also include a relatively detailed explanation of how fairies, the Victorian variety with physical wings that is, (unlike your conceptually winged and hence disadvantaged Valkyries) fly. Apparently the grouping of their major muscles has been overlooked by writers on the subject and artists, so I have given it some thought and my fairies may functionally differ from any "norm" elsewhere, but that's part of the enjoyment of both fiction writing and reading.Disadvantaged? No more than others that don't have wings. I am thinking of having several winged races outside the circle. I think it would be interesting to have winged vampires in a war with angels and the vampires as the good guys.


I have always maintained that one must keep one's target readers in mind when writing. If the world is really so full of critical experts on martial arts who spend their time reading about magical elves, then I'm glad that I'm old because humanity is just getting too weird for me. Tolkien couldn't have known what he was starting back when I was a boy. :) Probably not. I think the genre is ideal for both a more modern take and martial arts though, with present day language and attitudes and modern technology as ancient mystical artifacts.

Terry D
May 3rd, 2017, 03:23 PM
These are the character intro chapters to an epic high fantasy story idea. I've had this in my head for a long time and have tried to start writing it before but I could never get what was in my head down on paper. I recently tried again and this is the result.

Doing this way means that the reader will be in no doubt as to who the 'chosen' ones are but I think it's worth it. It will make the characters easier to keep track of if the main characters have already been introduced.

I've never done any creative writing before. Let me know which one you liked most and least.




Alexandria


As the two hundred men entered the great hall of the crystal palace the were greeted by the sight of eighteen valkyries on the slightly raised level at the far side of the hall. One of them stepped forward,
"Welcome, please line up into ten lines of twenty".

One of the men on the back row turned to the man on his left,
"Did you shave your chest?"
"Er, no" he said with a smile.

This is the way that valkyries choose their mates for procreation. Thousands of men apply to be chosen for this honour and are brought forward in groups of a few hundred at a time to determine who will face the challenges of the trials in order to bee seen as worthy to add their essence to the valkyries. This preliminary selection is based only on appearance. This is to ensure that the valkyries are as physically attractive as possible, not for any notion of vanity but simply to encourage as many applicants as possible for just this occasion.

The valkyries walked between the men for a few minutes before meeting back on the slightly raised level and quietly discussing what they had seen. The men were all anxiously waiting for the verdict and before too long the same valkyrie spoke again,
"If you are touched on the shoulder then you have been chosen, good luck."

Alexandria had no real interest in the selection process itself, that wasn't why she always put herself forward to be one of the selectors. It was because she loved to fight and fighting for sport was prohibited among the valkyries. They fought each other in training almost every day but this allowed her to fight people that she didn't know and who use completely different styles. The men she chose were based on who she sensed were the best and most interesting fighters rather than who she found attractive.

The woman spoke again,
"Those who have not been chosen please leave the same way you came in and better luck next time, those who have been chosen, come with us!".

The valkyries' primary responsibility is to protect the Circle from the demonic threat of the Badlands, an area in which the mystical energies that emanate from it provide a kind of dimensional doorway, a weakness in the walls between realms and so is nearly always the place where demons emerge from. Many millions of attempts to cleanse the area over the millennia have all failed but the practice continues to this day for several reasons, not least of which is the thought that without the cleansing rituals, the situation would be far worse. It also serves to test the proficiencies of the priests attempting the cleansing. But for as long as the Badlands have been a demonic threat, there has been the valkyries, whose lineage extends back into many past ages and provides them with natural resistance to the demonic energies of the area and of the demons themselves.

The men were lead out into a large square, open courtyard with pillars holding up a stone roofed area around the perimeter.
"Now we see if you can fight!"

Alexandria stepped forward before anyone else could and draw her wooden training sword and readied her shield from her back before cracking her neck with a broad smile, she'd been waiting for this for the past two years.



Eshra


Eshra's defeated opponent slowly got off the ground and on to his knees. Without getting up he nodded to Eshra and turned his back. Eshra then quickly thrust his rapier downwards with the point of entry at the base of the man's neck. He died instantly.

Pit fits are quite different to the coliseum fights above. Although deaths can and frequently do accrue in the coliseum, the aim of those contests is simply to win. Directly below the coliseum is the biggest caged ring in the Circle, an arena with a different objective, survival. Two fighters go in, one comes out alive.

Eshra walked over to his friend and unofficial coach but didn't sit down.
"I want to go again Coach, soon as possible."

If this was anyone else, Coach might have been surprised.
"You've made it known that you're willing to fight any opponent and now you want to fight two in a row. Do you have a death wish?"

Eshra had fought and won twenty-four fights before tonight and had thrown down the gauntlet to anyone who wished to challenge him after beating an opponent with an even more impressive record in his last fight.

Eshra smiled.
"Quite the opposite my friend. The pit isn't about death, it's about life. I never feel more alive than when I'm fighting to the death. I have a life wish."

Coach sighed.
"Fair enough. I'll see what I can arrange"

Eshra watched the next fight as Coach went over to another trainer. It didn't last long. One fighter had never been in the cage before and the other had won twice. Sometimes people love the idea of competing at that level of intensity but freeze up when it becomes a reality. The losing fighter didn't exactly freeze up but he was trying not to lose rather than fighting to win and it got him killed.

Eshra thought back to his first time in the ring three years ago. He was up against an opponent who had already won six times, convincingly. Everybody was expecting a cautious new fighter vs a confident opponent who would go on the offencive. Instead Eshra casually walked up to him with his sword still sheathed. He then draw his sword in the same motion as he blocked the swing of his opponent before breaking his knee cap with a low side kick and thrusting his sword underneath the chin and through the top of his opponent's head. The whole crowd had fallen silent, for about five or six seconds when they fully processed what they had just witnessed and rose to their feet, chanting his name. 'That was nothing' he had thought, 'wait till you see me when I actually need to try'.

After Eshra's second fight, against a much stronger opponent, he never looked back. He had a huge reputation instantly and all his fights since only enhanced it further. He was now known as Eshra The Invincible. Although this put off many fighters that were obviously out of his league, it also attracted the most skilled opponents looking to make an instant name for themselves by defeating him. This suited Eshra just fine.

Coach nodded to the dwarf woman he was talking to and made his way back to Eshra.
"Well, I've found an opponent who's willing to fight you. He's name is Erg, Erg The Ogre!"

"He feels the need to include the information that's he's an ogre in his cage name?"

"Apparently."

Erg The Ogre approached Eshra. "You Eshra?"

"Me Eshra. You troll?"

"I'm Erg The Ogre!"

"Oh. Smell like troll." Coach was desperately trying not to laugh.

After a few seconds Erg The Ogre realised that he was being made fun of. "You'll regret that!"

"How? If I lose I won't have time to regret it." Erg looked confused for a moment before wandering towards the cage while mumbling something under his breath.

"Having fun?" Coach asked.

Eshra just smiled. He cracked his shoulders and neck and made his way to the cage.



Sara


The small forest elf patrol spread from their tight formation and took up positions that would shield them from the view of whoever was heading in their direction. They silently draw their bows ready to unleash a hail of arrows when Sara came into view.
"I know you're there" she said in a raised voice. "Whats going on?"

The other elves left the cover, looking slightly agitated.
"Keep your voice down! There's well over two dozen goblins heading this way. We're heading back for reinforcements."

Sara didn't seem too concerned.
"By the time we do that they might have left the forest. There's nine of us, we should take them out now."

The others thought about it for a few moments and cautiously agreed. They felt much stronger as group now that Sara was with them.

Shadowood Forest is a huge area that borders the edge of the Circle on one side. Many thousands of elves live in semi-isolated settlements scattered throughout the woods. Children of the forest they're often called. Sara never spent long in one settlement, preferring to spread her time throughout the entire forest. Any hostile intruders trying to use the Shadowood as way into the Circle have to not only navigate their way through the dense thicket while avoiding giant spiders and many other wild creatures, but also evade the elven settlements and their patrols.

"Three groups of three then?" Asked Sara.

The other elves agreed, with two elves taking up positions directly beside her and the two other groups forming either side of them.

The forest elves have no strict hierarchy but the elders usually make the decisions that affect the the community as a whole and age tends to be an unofficial status of rank. Sara isn't quite the oldest in this group but she holds far more respect than her age would normally grant a forest child.

As they neared the enemy they took cover and waited until the goblins were in sight of all nine of them and then let loose their arrows. Sara immediately followed up with an energy spell that struck and floored three that were in a row as she dashed in and struck down the closest goblin.

Sara wasn't a powerful magician but there had been an increasing number of goblin intruders over they past week or so and she had been storing her energy for just this kind of situation. She liked using magic but equally enjoyed swordplay and archery, she didn't really have a preference.

Despite killing one goblin with her bow before stunning three others with the spell and then dispatching a fifth with her sword all withing a few seconds, most of them had now been dispatched with arrows. The three that had been briefly stunning plus a few others tried to run away but all except for one that was now out of sight were taken down by the elves' bows. Sara, being the closest, ran after the last goblin, rounded the corner, took careful aim and launched an arrow straight into the back of the goblin's neck.

"Take a look at this!" Sara heard from behind her. She moved back towards the other to see what they had found.

"There." One of the elves was using his sword to point to war paint one of the fallen goblin's arm. It was a symbol of the spider tribe. Only fairly high ranking members of the tribe wore this pattern so it wasn't known until now which tribe the recent goblin intruders belonged to.

"Wonderful." Sara said, meaning the exact opposite.

The spider tribe is one one the largest known goblin tribes and definitely the most aggressive.

"We should get ba...""Shh!" Sara interrupted, holding up her hand to signal the others to keep quiet. "Do you hear that?" she whispered.

The others listened intently and then a look of recognition came over one of the other elves' faces, then another. They nodded.
"Trees!" Sara whispered as she made her way up to near the top of the nearest tree.

They could all hear what she heard now, voices. The nine elves made their way gracefully and almost silently through the tree tops until they caught sight of the source of the sound. There were too many goblins to count. They quickly changed direction and took to the ground again as soon as it was safe so they could sprint to the nearest settlement and raise the proverbial alarm.



Rain


After stirring, on the verge of waking up Rain felt Tarja's warm arm wrap around him. Elves don't need a great deal of sleep but he hadn't rested for a while so had decided to sprawl out for an hour or so.
"Hello beautiful." he said smiling.

Seeing that he was awake, the palace panther jumped down off the bed. Rain went over to the window to check the time by looking at the sky and saw Tarissa out in the courtyard practising for the archery tournament being held later in the day. He freshened up before making his way down to see her.

The palace is situated at the heart of the Centre Circle, which is situated at the heart of the Inner Circle, at the heart of the Circle itself. As big as a large town, it wasn't exactly clear where the palace ended and the outside started. It was built, like much of the architecture in the Circle, as a continuum rather than as a definite and well defined structure.

"Afternoon sis." he said to his twin.

"Good sleep?"

"Yea until Tarja woke me. I needed to get up anyway, they'll be here soon."

"Ah the burdens of being emperor."

Tarissa had set up a a target in the courtyard a while back so that she didn't have to go to the range every time she wanted to fire off some arrows. She preferred practicing alone most of the time anyway and she had always loved this courtyard.

"How's practice going?" he asked.

"Good. I might actually beat her this time, I'm tired of always coming in second."

"Well, stranger things have happened I suppose." he said with a feigned look of disbelief on his face.

"Thanks for the support." she replied, half agitated, half amused.

"Why would you want to be the best? If there were no such thing as forest elves you'd be no better with a bow than you are now, worse in fact because you wouldn't have had as much motivation to up your game."

Rain cocked his head slightly while looking at her bow.
"I think you bent it, you've overused it. You need a new one." he said as he took the bow from her.

"No they're supposed to have that curve in them. That's how they're designed."

She took the bow back, looked at the target and then looked back at Rain while drawing an arrow, pulling the bow back and launching the arrow straight into the centre of the target.

Rain fought hard not to show how impressed he was to keep the banter going.
"Alissia would have done it without having to recheck the target before looking away."

Tarrisa just looked at him, part amused, but mostly agitated.

Rain dropped the pretence.
"That was awesome! Pity there's no looking away while shooting category in the tournament."

"You could make it a category."

"Should I make it a rule that those whose name starts with a T get a hundred points to begin with?"

Tarissa looked thoughtful, as if actually comtemplating the idea.

"The knights are here" a loud voice said from a balcony above them.

Rain nodded up at the balcony.
"They're early. You coming?"

"No, I'm going to practice some more. I'm in the zone."

"Okay, I'll let you know if there was any exciting news."

Rain made his way to the meeting hall and sat in his usual chair.

"What's going on my peeps?" he said to the elven knights.

"Nothing to really report." said Kriss, commander of the knights.

"You came all the way here to tell me that? I know it was a scheduled meeting but you could have just told me that through a crystal."

"That's not why we're here." Cassandra said with a grin. "We brought someone with us who you've been wanting to meet and we had to see it."

Rain knew straight away who she was referring to.
"Let's go." he said with great anticipation.

They went straight to the arena, where a crowd, including Tarissa, was gathered. Markus was standing in the centre of the ring. He bowed his head slightly.
"Emperor." he said with respect.

Rain was a legendary fencer and Markus was an up and coming fencer who had won all his his fights so far against the some of the very best of opponents. Rain had heard of Markus' exploits about three months ago and was keeping track of his results. A month ago Rain had officially challenged him to a friendly match.

"Markus." Rain said with equal respect as he moved into position and raised his foil to signal that he was ready. Markus did the same.



Celina


Eastmore Palace is very different from the much larger and more modern looking Central Palace. Its architecture is Gothic in design, part of it heavily resembles an enormous cathedral. It serves as the home to the Eastmore royal family, a base for the knights and as a temple to the paladins of that province.

"We've waited long enough." Celina said as she mounted her horse. She rode out of the palace gates with a retinue of the king's knights.

Each province within the Circle is ruled by its own monarchy. Princess Celina is the king's niece, who unlike his own children, possesses the gift of healing. Being a paladin like himself, as well as his best warrior lead the king to appoint her as commander of the royal knights.

Celina and the knights reached the orchard and dismounted. They saw a half filled basket of apples tipped over on it's side. They were here because one of the palace maids had left earlier to collect fruit and hadn't returned.

"Blood!" shouted one of the knights. Celina saw a faint trail leading from the basket to where the knight was standing. She checked around the blood and saw no other sign of a struggle.

"She was taken from above. Looks like the Dragon Spine Mountains have a new resident." Celina said with a sigh looking to the mountains in the distance. This was no longer a rescue mission. "Mount up."

When they reached Tilverford they headed straight for the mayor's office. As Celina entered she saw the mayor was already making his way towards the door to meet them.

"Are you here about the griffin?" He asked. "I've just now told the palace about it. It was swooping around the town but our archers managed to fend it off."

Celina's crystal hummed as she received the same message from the palace. "So it's a griffin. We're here because a palace maid hadn't returned and when we saw where she'd been taken from we figured it must be something like that. Did it head towards the mountains when you fought it off?"

"Yes. We've already gathered some of the town guard, they could accompany you."

"No." Celina replied. "You might need them here in case it comes back with some friends. I'm here with twenty royal knights, that should do it."

"Thank you your highness. I'd feel much better with them remaining here."

"Don't call me that." said Celina as she turned and headed for the door.

"Sorry Celina, I forgot."

"It's at least one griffin!" Celina exclaimed as she remounted her horse.

They we met with grateful cheers as they road out of Tilverford and headed for the Dragon Spine Mountains. They took the horses as far as they could towards the base of the closest mountain known to contain a large enough cave. Then they saw two griffins heading for an adjacent mountain. When they reached its first cave they saw large feathers by the entrance. They draw their weapons as the entered the cave and were almost immediately attacked by three griffins.



Eli


Eli ran through the patterns he was to perform so that it was fresh in his mind. Patterns are a long predetermined sequence of movements strung together that are used to practice and evaluate technique and movement between techniques. He grabbed his bow as he left his Centre Circle home to make his way to the training hall just as a group of elven knights accompanied by one human rode past.
'On their way to the Central Palace.' he thought.

The elven guard are the standard and most numerous elite elven militia in the Circle. Elves tend to excel at archery and magic and so these skills are focused on more by the elven guard than they are in the other militias. Although magicians have their own schools, there are other forms of magical aptitude including casting spells from items such as scrolls and wands and developing magical resistance. Having recently turned eighteen, Eli was about to be tested for advancement from the cadets to become a full member of the guard.

Despite not being at all late, he was the last cadet to arrive. The other forty-nine cadets were forming into lines ready to start as he entered the hall so he took the last place on the back row. Irencis, the head of the entire guard, and his four lieutenants bowed to the cadets who then bowed in return.

Being from the Centre Circle meant that these cadets are in the jurisdiction of the most senior instructor. Although the Centre Circle is at the furthest point from the circle border where they are needed, there are various teleporters throughout the circle that serve to connect distant regions and around half are situated in the Centre Circle. These ancient circular stone platforms with curved stone pillars around their edge allow for easy access to all provinces and ensures that reinforcements are available wherever they're needed.

Irencis took the cadets through some unarmed techniques before moving on to sword techniques. Eli breezed through without any problems. After the initial section of the evaluation was over Irencis lead them outside to the courtyard where magicians of various types were waiting.
"You know the drill. Try to stay on your feet while being blasted with low powered spells."

Eli went down twice, about average. Next the cadets had to fend off the effects of more indirect spells such as sleep and charm spells. This is where Eli had always shined. He shrugged off the various spells with very little effort while most of the other cadets struggled. Three cadets even actually fell asleep, an instant fail.

Next up was scroll casting. Eli chose a lightning spell, he'd had good results with that spell before. He looked at his wooden target before reading the scroll and feeling the energy transfer to his mind. He immediately physicalised it, feeling the energy in his head and channelling it down his right arm and through his hand to hit the person shaped target square between what would be its eyes. 'Bulls-eye!' He handed the spent scroll to the back to the magician for later recharging. He chose the same spell for the wand test and hit the centre of the target.
"Now archery, for those who are still awake." Irencis said with a smile. Nobody had bothered to wake them up.

Eli never had any problems with a bow and he performed well above average. Thirty-two cadets remained after the archery section was over.
"Well done cadets." Irencis told the remaining participants. "Now patterns."

Eli went through the patterns he'd practised earlier and did them to higher standard than most of the others. He had sharp techniques and always enjoyed the feel of going through a pattern, it felt much more spiritual than individual techniques or short combinations.
"Okay, now unarmed sparring, pair up."

Eli lost more than he won and was hoping he'd done enough in the earlier sections to see him through. He knew that it would all depend on how well he performed in the final section, weapons sparring. After the single sword section he knew that he would really have to perform well with the double swords. Luckily he always preferred using two swords, he felt half naked with just one. He was doing okay but not as well as he'd hoped. One of the other cadets lost too many fights and was eliminated, leaving an odd number of cadets for the last round of sparring, and of the evaluation.
"Eli, you'll spar me."

Eli and Irencis bowed to each other took up a fighting stance.



Ashara


It had been an hour since Ashara had taken the brew when she headed to the sacred stones and she had begun to see spirit entities moving around her. She looked up at the sky as she was walking and saw that the usual vista was now alive with ribbons of energy connecting the large celestial bodies.

Vision quests are a common practice throughout all the shamanic tribes, and also in the general population of the Circle to a lesser extent. Ashara is the only member of the soul stream tribe to have elven blood and so needs a much stronger dose to initiate the experience but it tends to have a greater effect because of it. Although she looks completely human, Ashara is a half-elf. Hybrids are rare not only because elves and humans have trouble conceiving but also because, like mules which are half horse, half donkey and can only procreate with other mules, half-elves can only procreate with other half-elves.

When she arrived at the sacred stones Chief Spirit Walker, or Big Chief Sits On His Arse A Lot as Ashara likes to call him, was sitting in a meditative posture in the centre of the ring of huge stone pillars. She sat down in front of him in the same posture, put her staff down in front of her and smiled.
"Are you ready?" he asked.

"I am."

Big Chief Sits On His Arse A Lot handed Ashara the pipe and she exhaled to empty her lungs before taking a long deep hit of the pipe. This would have been more than enough for any other member of the tribe to break through but not her. She exhaled and put her hands on the ground behind her so that she could lean back. The chief was packing the pipe for the next hit while Ashara was looking at the worlds and stars in the sky that now all seemed to be connected in a beautiful cosmic dance. She took the second hit and felt the warm sensation in the pit of her stomach rising up the front of her body. When it reached her head she began to hear the hum. The bubble of warmness stopped at the top of her head and the hum intensified as it built up pressure on the underneath of her skull. Then with a deafening thunder clap her soul was catapulted out of her body into a higher dimensional level of reality.

What happens from this point on is indescribable. When a soul returns to their body after this kind of trip the mind has to process the experience and integrate it by using substitutes that are familiar to that mind. A lot of the experience is lost during this process but it's the only way that it can be understood on any level once it's over. This is how Ashara remembered it after returning to her physical body.

After being catapulted out of her physical inner realm Ashara was flying through a tunnel of light. It was moving too fast for her to make out forms in the light but she could sense that it had them. After just a few seconds (milliseconds in 'real' time) she reached the familiar patterned membrane. It resembled an impossibly intricate stain glassed window. This is the point that the soul needs to get past for the so called 'break through'. After that is where the journey really begins.

Beautiful higher dimensional shapes rotated around her and began to form into roughly person shaped entities. She felt an overwhelming feeling of love and familiarity. She had come home again to the place where all souls exist both before and after death and both at the same time. Linear time has no meaning hear but the mind orders the experience into a chronological order as best it can when the soul returns. The spirits communicated telepathically with her, welcoming her and asking her what she seeked.

'Guidence' she thought. 'I feel like there's something important that I should be doing.'

'There is,' responded the spirits 'but it hasn't started yet. It's about to.'

'What should I do?'

'Be ready.'

'How?'

Most of the spirits faded slightly onto the distance while one grew in intensity and seemed to solidify. A staff of pure energy grew in the spirit's hands and Ashara found that she was holding her own staff. The spirit entity attacked.



Cassandra


As Rain and the elven knights stood up and headed for the hallway leading to the stairs to make their way to the courtyard, Cassandra's crystal began to hum. The fact that it was humming rather than glowing meant that it was an important message. She held it in her hand to receive the message.
"I have to leave, and miss the fight." she said with a sigh. "It's urgent."

Rain nodded his head towards the teleporter in the corner, indicating she should take the fast route. Cassandra stood on the stone circle and activated it. The interior of the central palace meeting hall was replaced by sky and the parameter walls at the top of the seer tower in her home province. She hurried down the short flight of stair to the floor directly below and was about to enter the grand seer's office when she heard a man's voice from within the room. She quietly moved closer to the door and turned her head to listen. She could now hear the grand seer speaking.
"It's definitely Cassandra, and she won't go down quietly. Call the rest of the troops, we should get to the roof."

The grand seer and whoever she was talking to obviously weren't expecting Cassandra to be standing a few feet away from a teleporter when she got the message in her crystal. Cassandra kicked the door open with enough force for them to swing back so they opened out into the hallway by the time she had walked in with her hand on the handle of her sword. The grand seer and a warrior that Cassandra didn't recognise were standing over the desk as if reading something. The grand seer quickly took the scroll and threw it in the fireplace. Cassandra could see a list of words before the scroll burned but couldn't make them out except for one, her name.
"Catch you fuckers at a bad time?"

The grand seer made her escape through the side door as the warrior drew his axe and charged at Cassandra. She took a step backwards and slammed the door closed as he was about to reach her. He stumbled back but didn't fall. Cassandra was running back up the stairs when he opened the doors again. When she reached the roof she waited just behind a large statue close to the door. When the warrior came through the door she kicked the statue over so that it slammed the door shut and prevented it from being opened again.
"You going to tell me what was on that scroll?"

He charged at her again.



As you can see, each chapter ends with a fight that's about to start (Sara's will begin with the goblin attack). The next chapter will be the fights, going through each in turn a few times before the fights are over. I know ot's a little strange that they all happen to be fighting at the same time but they are bound together by fate so it's okay. :)

I know I'm getting into this thread late, but reading through the OP I was struck by a couple of things. First being, these are character sketches, not chapters from a novel. Now, many authors do in-depth character sketches before they start writing their book so they can get to know the characters. That can be very helpful for some writers, but it is never necessary for readers. Readers care about characters in the context of the story. These individual sketches are isolated vignettes with no context. Starting a book this way will only bore your reader into using it as a doorstop rather than reading it. I know that your characters and the world you've created are exciting for you, and you know them in intimate detail, but your readers don't need -- nor do they want -- to know them in that same level of detail. Readers care about story and you need to start giving them the story right up front.

The second aspect of your post which I noticed, is in the writing itself. One aspect of writing which is difficult for new writers -- and many older ones -- is understanding the rhythm and flow of the words. This is one of the hardest parts of writing for many newcomers. They know what they want to say, what they want their characters to sound like and to do, but when they get done, the prose just doesn't read like the books which inspired them. That happens when they don't spend enough time considering word choice and sentence construction. For instance, your very first sentence:

As the two hundred men entered the great hall of the crystal palace the were greeted by the sight of eighteen valkyries on the slightly raised level at the far side of the hall.

That's 34 words, 7 of which are the word 'the'. That's 20% of the sentence. That sort of repetition draws attention to itself and gives the sentence a 'sing-song' feeling that will annoy readers. Not a good way to start a book. This should be a dramatic moment but you weaken it by using lukewarm words like, 'entered', 'were greeted', and 'slightly raised'. As Mark Twain once said, "The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug." Check out the difference between your sentence and this:

Eighteen Valkyries scowled down from their high place on the far side of the Great Hall as two hundred men clomped into the Crystal Palace through massive doors of black wood.

Now my rewrite of your sentence isn't great literature -- hell, it's not even a suggestion -- but it does show the same scene in a way that -- in my opinion -- creates more tension, gives a better sense of place, and engages the reader's senses (it also has 4 less 'the's). I'm not going to get on the 'show vs tell' bandwagon. Enough has been said about that. But, I will talk about creating what I like to call 'texture' in your writing. To me, writing has texture when it has variation in pace and flow, when the rhythm of its sentences change tempo like good music, and when the word choices are unique and interesting. Of course all those things are also aspects of the writer's 'voice', and voice isn't something you are born with, it's something which develops as you write more and more. I should say it develops if you pay attention to things like word choice, pace and rhythm as you continue to write.

Having a boat-load of terrific characters, a complex world, and technically perfect fighting mechanics, won't mean anything if the writing is stilted and uninteresting. The craft of writing is much more difficult than generating cool ideas. It takes practice to write well, and it takes patience to use the skills you are practicing to unfold your story in an interesting, readable manner. Too many new writers get in a hurry to write the 'good stuff', the fight scenes, the car chases, the serial killer's murders and they short-change the stuff leading up to and in between those scenes. Good writing makes all the in between stuff interesting too.

MadMickyG
May 3rd, 2017, 10:40 PM
As what Terry said about the flow, it reminds me fo us learning Tai Chi. You can have the moves, the position and the pace all right. But if you dont have the joiners to connect everything smoothly, it looks, as has been mentioned, stilted and jerky.

Gold Bearer is here to get the joiners. And your comments are most helpful D-Man (can I call you D-Man? I'd go for DM, but thats a whole different area :P)

Now I better go or I'll be late for work. :P

Jay Greenstein
May 4th, 2017, 04:26 AM
Jay, as you mentioned, it's how GB sees the fight he's trying to portray, so he knows the details. It may seem illogical, but you don't have all the facts.Neither does the reader. It doesn't matter if the author has a perfect visualization. If it doesn't make sense to the reader, or raises questions that are not addressed, the writing will fail. The author isn't there when it's read, so it has to be written in a way that the only questions in the reader's mind are the ones the author wants them to have. And as you noted, the various moves have different names. So if someone familiar with another discipline reads it they won't get the same visualization. And telling the reader who has no martial arts background it happened does little to bring a picture. That's why it's necessary to make the reader know the action as-the-protagonist-does. Knowing the character's view of what's happening, along with their estimation of what they should, or need to, do, the reader will understand. For example, if the protagonist notes that the opponent seems focused on a direct approach, he may decide to see how he reacts to a side kick. Now, when it's done, the reader will not only know what's going on, no matter the name of it, they will want to know if it works, which involved that reader. Fail to involve them and they walk away.

Gold Bearer
May 4th, 2017, 07:54 AM
I know I'm getting into this thread late, but reading through the OP I was struck by a couple of things. First being, these are character sketches, not chapters from a novel. Now, many authors do in-depth character sketches before they start writing their book so they can get to know the characters. That can be very helpful for some writers, but it is never necessary for readers. Readers care about characters in the context of the story. These individual sketches are isolated vignettes with no context. Starting a book this way will only bore your reader into using it as a doorstop rather than reading it. I know that your characters and the world you've created are exciting for you, and you know them in intimate detail, but your readers don't need -- nor do they want -- to know them in that same level of detail. Readers care about story and you need to start giving them the story right up front.I think that sticking the word prologue before these character introductions will allow me to get away with it though. :) I don't think it will bore the reader if it's tidied up. Putting myself as the reader, I'd like it if the characters were introduced separately before the main story starts if I knew the story was about a group of eight characters (which will be in the synopsis). I did think about moving the Cassandra chapter to the beginning because that's really the only one that starts the actual story and it raises a question that might hook the reader but then it would be ages before it's picked up and I'd also have to restructure Rain's chapter because those two overlap.


The second aspect of your post which I noticed, is in the writing itself. One aspect of writing which is difficult for new writers -- and many older ones -- is understanding the rhythm and flow of the words. This is one of the hardest parts of writing for many newcomers. They know what they want to say, what they want their characters to sound like and to do, but when they get done, the prose just doesn't read like the books which inspired them. That happens when they don't spend enough time considering word choice and sentence construction. For instance, your very first sentence:

As the two hundred men entered the great hall of the crystal palace the were greeted by the sight of eighteen valkyries on the slightly raised level at the far side of the hall.

That's 34 words, 7 of which are the word 'the'. That's 20% of the sentence. That sort of repetition draws attention to itself and gives the sentence a 'sing-song' feeling that will annoy readers. Not a good way to start a book. This should be a dramatic moment but you weaken it by using lukewarm words like, 'entered', 'were greeted', and 'slightly raised'. As Mark Twain once said, "The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug." Check out the difference between your sentence and this:

Eighteen Valkyries scowled down from their high place on the far side of the Great Hall as two hundred men clomped into the Crystal Palace through massive doors of black wood.

Now my rewrite of your sentence isn't great literature -- hell, it's not even a suggestion -- but it does show the same scene in a way that -- in my opinion -- creates more tension, gives a better sense of place, and engages the reader's senses (it also has 4 less 'the's). I'm not going to get on the 'show vs tell' bandwagon. Enough has been said about that. But, I will talk about creating what I like to call 'texture' in your writing. To me, writing has texture when it has variation in pace and flow, when the rhythm of its sentences change tempo like good music, and when the word choices are unique and interesting. Of course all those things are also aspects of the writer's 'voice', and voice isn't something you are born with, it's something which develops as you write more and more. I should say it develops if you pay attention to things like word choice, pace and rhythm as you continue to write.I changed the Alexandria and Rain chapters a bit. That's not how it starts now. I was going to wait I've revised the whole thing before updating the opening post but I'll do it now.


This is how it starts now:

The two hundred men anxiously waited outside the front entrance to the crystal palace. One of them turned to the man on his left.
"Did you shave your chest?"
"Er, no" he said with a smile.

As the huge opaque glass doors begin to slowly swing open, the men were met by the welcome sight of two beautiful armoured women with swords at their waists and spears and shields on their backs.
"Follow us please."

The air felt cold yet refreshing, as if the crystals architecture were somehow cleansing its surroundings. They were lead down a hallway with statues of warrior women on either side. Although the statues were immaculately carved from marble, the men noticed that the weapons and armour were real, the same as that worn by their two buxom escorts. At the end of the hallway was an entrance to a large open room. On a slightly raised level at the far side of the hall stood Armeena, the valkyrie queen. Six other valkyries stood slightly behind, three on each side.

"Welcome to our palace." The queen had a soft yet commanding voice. "Please line up into ten lines of twenty".


And these are the changes in the newer version of Rain's chapter:

After stirring, on the verge of waking up, Rain felt Tarja's arm wrap around him as a warm gentle breeze from the open window greeted his return to the waking world. Elves don't need a great deal of sleep but he hadn't rested for a while so had decided to sprawl out for an hour or so.
"Hello beautiful." he said smiling.

Seeing that he was awake, the palace panther jumped down off the bed and sat on the floor. Rain briefly rubbed the side of her neck as he walked over to the washbasin to freshen up and playfully flicked water at her. She sneezed and padded over to the window, starring affectionately at what she saw below.

The palace is situated right at the heart of the Centre Circle, which itself is situated at the heart of the Inner Circle, at the heart of the Circle itself. As big as a large town, it wasn't exactly clear where the palace ended and the outside started. It was built, like much of the architecture in the Circle, as a continuum rather than as a definite and well defined structure.

Rain walked over to the window to check the time by looking at the sky and saw Tarissa in the courtyard just below practising for the archery tournament being held later in the day. The fresh aroma of the bakery reached his nose, 'hmm, I love that smell'. He made his way down to the courtyard to see the other important lady in his life.

"Afternoon sis." he said to his twin.

"Good sleep?"

"Yea until Tarja woke me. I needed to get up anyway, they'll be here soon."

"Ah the burdens of being emperor."

Tarissa had set up a a target in the courtyard a while back so that she didn't didn't have to go to the range to practice. She preferred practicing alone most of the time and she had always loved this courtyard.

"How's practice going?" Rain asked.

"Good. I might actually beat her this time, I'm tired of always coming in second."

"Well, stranger things have happened I suppose." he said with a feigned look of disbelief on his face.

"Thanks for the support." she replied, half agitated, half amused.

"Why would you want to be the best? If there were no such thing as forest elves you'd be no better with a bow than you are now, worse in fact because you wouldn't have had as much motivation to up your game."

Rain cocked his head slightly while looking at her bow.
"I think you bent it, you've overused it. You need a new one." he said as he took the bow from her.

"No they're supposed to have that curve in them. That's how they're designed."

She took the bow back, looked at the target and then looked back at Rain while drawing an arrow, pulling the bow back and launching the arrow straight into the centre of the target.

Rain fought hard not to show how impressed he was to keep the banter going.
"Alissia would have done it without having to recheck the target before looking away."

Tarrisa just looked at him, part amused, but mostly agitated.

Rain dropped the pretence.
"That was awesome! Pity there's no looking away while shooting category in the tournament."

"You could make it a category."

"Should I make it a rule that those whose name starts with a T get a hundred points to begin with?"

Tarissa looked thoughtful, as if actually contemplating the idea.

"The knights are here" a loud voice said from a balcony above them.


Having a boat-load of terrific characters, a complex world, and technically perfect fighting mechanics, won't mean anything if the writing is stilted and uninteresting. The craft of writing is much more difficult than generating cool ideas. It takes practice to write well, and it takes patience to use the skills you are practicing to unfold your story in an interesting, readable manner. Too many new writers get in a hurry to write the 'good stuff', the fight scenes, the car chases, the serial killer's murders and they short-change the stuff leading up to and in between those scenes. Good writing makes all the in between stuff interesting too.Yes, and I'm just as interested in those aspects, maybe even more. I want to show the down beats just as much as fight scenes and action scenes. It makes the action stand out more. The action is an important aspect that I want to set it apart from other books in the genre but I also want it to be a really good story if the fights and action were taken out. I just like stories that start off with action scenes, it's something I've always thought should be done and now it seems to be a modern trend in pop culture. The Blade films started it. Another good example is Sherlock Holmes, that started with a really good opening action scene.

Terry D
May 4th, 2017, 04:01 PM
I think that sticking the word prologue before these character introductions will allow me to get away with it though. :) I don't think it will bore the reader if it's tidied up. Putting myself as the reader, I'd like it if the characters were introduced separately before the main story starts if I knew the story was about a group of eight characters (which will be in the synopsis). I did think about moving the Cassandra chapter to the beginning because that's really the only one that starts the actual story and it raises a question that might hook the reader but then it would be ages before it's picked up and I'd also have to restructure Rain's chapter because those two overlap.

"Sticking the word prologue" in front of those character introductions won't make them interesting. In fact, all it will do is tell prospective readers that you are getting ready to dump a bunch of non-story on them. In general, prologues are a bad choice for starting your book. Many readers, if not most, skip them entirely. They do this for one primary reason; they believe the word 'prologue' means that the information contained within is not really part of the story, and they want to get to the story. Readers do not want a bunch of introduction and history before they start reading. They really don't. The synopsis (I assume you are talking about the back cover blurb) is not part of your story. If you are lucky/good enough to get your novel accepted by a publisher, you will have no control over the blurb.

Of course you can, and will, present your book in any way you choose, but, since you posted it here, I assume you want honest opinion. This is mine; starting a book with a series of character introductions is a mistake. Your obligation to the reader is to engage him/her from the first sentence, not to ask her/him to wait until you get done explaining who they are going to meet. Sure, some highly complex novels have a section -- sometimes at the front, sometimes at the back -- where characters are listed with one or two sentence bios (the dramatis personae), but they aren't part of the narrative. I know it's more work to smoothly integrate character introductions in the narrative itself, but your readers expect you to go to that extra work to make their experience more realistic and enjoyable.

Gold Bearer
May 4th, 2017, 04:15 PM
"Sticking the word prologue" in front of those character introductions won't make them interesting. In fact, all it will do is tell prospective readers that you are getting ready to dump a bunch of non-story on them.That's the idea, I am about to dump a bunch of non-story on them. That way if they don't want to read the character introductions they can just skip it like you say. If it were me reading, I'd like to see the characters in their own environments for a bit first.

Gold Bearer
May 4th, 2017, 07:21 PM
Synopsis:
Set in a rich world of magic, mythical creatures and skilled fighters, eight warriors of various backgrounds find that their fates are entwined after an event that heralds an ancient and almost forgotten prophecy, considered by most to be a myth, throws the future prosperity of the allied provinces of the vast empire know as The Circle into doubt.

In an epic journey of friendship, intrigue, discovery and danger, our protagonists must work together using their various skills, both mystical and otherwise, to fulfill their destinies and save their home from both known and unknown threats to its continued survival.


And I rewrote the second part of the fight scene:
Erg was wounded but not deeply, and it seemed to make him more focused rather than lessen his composure. 'Time to go on the offensive' Eshra decided, he quickly moved in. Reacting to a fully expected swing of Erg's club as soon as he was within range, he stepped inside of the downward arching attack, briefly turning his back on his Erg as he swung his sword at the ogre's throat, slicing the air just short of the target as Erg moved himself out of range, so Eshra took the opportunity to unleash his signature move. Continuing his momentum of the turn, he launched a jumping side kick into Erg's ribs while turning his body in the air to land a back kick an instant later before landing. This move had always sent his opponents flying backwards and put them on the ground but he'd never tried it on an ogre before, he was off balance for a moment as he landed due to Erg's larger frame not giving way to the strikes. Erg saw his chance and instead of following up with another swing of his club as Eshra expected and would have been able to react to, Erg charged shoulder first into Eshra, knocking him to the ground. On his back he saw Erg's club on its way down to meet his face.


I'll hopefully post the revised version of the intro chapters by the end of the weekend along with the full fight chapter. Three parts for each so twenty-four short paragraphs that will hopefully be fun to read for fight fans and make sense and still be exciting for those that aren't.

MadMickyG
May 5th, 2017, 01:26 AM
Leave this for a little bit GB, then reread. There are minor grammar errors, plus a few missing words from what I can see. You could break up the sentences with a comma here and there as well.
Read the whole thing out loud to yourself. A comma denotes a pause. Even reading in your head needs a moment to digest what you've just read, IMO, so a comma gives your brain a little time to catch up.

Example : This move would had always sent his opponents flying backwards and put them on the ground but he'd never tried it on an ogre before and was off balance for a moment as landed due to Erg's larger frame not giving way to the strikes.

I mentally feel a little out of breath. Word flow to me is not quite there.
This move always sent his opponents flying backwards and put them on the ground, but he'd never tried it on an ogre before, leaving him off balance for a moment as he landed. A side effect of Erg's larger frame not giving way to the strikes.

One way I would write it anyway. Similar structure with other sentences.

Now I'm no expert (I'm still green in name, and very unpublished), but I like to think I can string a well structured sentence together. I include lots of stuff that probably isn't necessary, but working on that part.

As I said, read it out loud. I just had a look at that whole paragraph. Being a fight scene, you may want tension. As is my understanding, shorten the sentences. I just did a count of that paragraph. There are only seven sentences in that block of text. My two cents here.

Gold Bearer
May 5th, 2017, 02:09 AM
I tend to do the exact opposite for fight scenes. My thinking is that the more commas there are, the slower placed the fight seems. Writing it with long sentences and few commas makes it seem like it's happening much faster, to me anyway. I might have overdone it a bit though, that sentence you used as an example definitely needs at least one comma.

Edit:
You're right, that was a complete mess. I changed a few things before posting it and didn't read through again to check it. It's fixed now.

MadMickyG
May 5th, 2017, 07:43 AM
None of us are perfect. :P

And writing tired, or rushed never helps.

As has been mentioned I think, or in the article Jay linked, write it out, then read it back later.

Had a story I entered in to a comp critiqued and was advised to go back after a week or so, then edit. If you do it too soon, then you repeat the mistakes.

Gold Bearer
May 5th, 2017, 02:42 PM
I've tidied up a few mistakes and rearranged the paragraph order of the first intro chapter, it should read a bit better now.

Gold Bearer
May 14th, 2017, 11:14 PM
I've just written two linked chapters that aren't at the beginning of the story. I've decided not to write it in order but to write the ideas I have as I have them. I can go back and rewrite earlier stuff if I need to. This gives a much better idea of the feel of the main story and the characters. I tried to take on board what I've been told here so hopefully it's a little more show than tell.



The Garden

A middle aged man came out of a seer's shop as they were heading for the tavern.
"You're here! We've been expecting you. I have what you're looking for. Come, come."

The circle hesitated for a moment and then went into the shop, Sara was first in to question the man.
"And who are you exactly?"

"Ahmed. I'm one of the seers who runs this shop and you're looking for a way to save your homeland. The crystals told us you'd be coming and that we have what you need."

Ahmed took a box down from the bookshelf behind him, laid it on the counter and carefully unlocked and opened it. He took out an object wrapped in cloth and handed it Sara. She unwrapped what turned out to be a large and beautiful red stone.
"A ruby?" Celina asked.

Ahmed nodded.
"Yes and it's what you've been seeking."

"May I?" Ashara said to Sara. Sara handed her the ruby.
"It's definitely enchanted."

Ahmed nodded again.
"Yes, it makes whoever possesses it invulnerable to hostile magic and mind control."

Eshra looked sceptically at the ruby.
"That's it? How is it going to save the Circle?"

Celina explained the situation to Ahmed.
"We from a vast empire and we have lots of resources, including magical protection. Are you saying that this will protect us from some potent magic that nothing we have can stop?"

"I'm afraid I don't know the details, I only know that this is what you've been searching for."

"How do we know this isn't just to prevent us from finding what we're actually looking for?" Rain asked.

"Well, I suppose you don't but you can meet the other seers if you don't want to take just my word for it."

"That's a start, but I'd like to be there when you're scrying." Ashara remarked. "I'm a battle-shaman, if I go on a vision quest while you're scrying I might be able to get more information."

"Okay. Come back here tonight, when the yellow sun sets."

"What would you want in return?" Cassandra asked.

"That's the thing, the crystals told us that you would help us."

"With what?" asked Alexandria.

"We're not sure exactly. There's rumours of an orc tribe in the area, maybe they plan to attack. That might be it but we own most of the land behind us and grow various crops, including food and herbs that we sell on but lately it's becoming very hard to grow anything and nobody knows why. The land isn't cursed as fall as we can tell and no spells that anyone can detect have been cast on it."

"Mind if we take a look?"

"Shaman, right. Maybe you'll pick up on something. The back door's through here, follow me."

The outside fields spread out the full width of the street and back about half a mile to a wooded area. Ashara wandered around the garden. Various crops were growing but some looked like they were dying.
"Most of the struggling crops are in the same area." Sara observed.

"Yes, which is why we thought magic, maybe a competitor from the other side of town but we can't be sure."

"It's magic." Ashara confirmed.

Ahmed looked puzzled.
"How can you tell?"

"Because I can feel it. It's subtle but it's definitely there."

Ahmed looked hopeful.
"Can you cleanse it?"

"Possibly. I'll know more hopefully after the vision quest. Do you have ayahuasca ingredients?"

"I can get them. They grow freely in the forest over there. I'll have the brew prepared for you for this evening."

"Make it strong, I'm half elven."

"Understood."

"Tavern?" Eli said hopefully.

"Tavern." Eshra agreed. They headed for the town centre, the others followed.



The Scrying

Ashara and Celina walked into the closed seer's shop and heard Ahmed's voice coming from the back room.
"We're in here!"

Twelve seers including Ahmed were sat in a circle with crystals in front of each of them and a large crystal ball in the centre.

"I left your brew on the table. Drink up."

Ashara wasted no time, downing it in one and sitting on the table. Celina sat beside her.

The seers were chanting faster now and slightly louder. The crystals began to glow.

"How long is this going to take to start properly?" Celina asked.

"A good hour before anything really happens. Go for a walk if you like, I'll be fine."

Celina went out to look around the main area of the store. All the crystals on display were glowing, the various colours lighting up the shop. She was outside finishing a join when a small patch of earth rose up just out of her sight. When she went back in she saw that the crystals in the shop were shining brighter now and she hard a faint hum. When she entered the back room again the chanting had stopped and Ashara was still sitting on the table but in a meditative position. The crystal ball in the centre of the room was shining but she couldn't make out what it was showing the seers. She pulled out one of the chairs from the table and sat close to Ashara.

Ashara was seeing a vision of eight stones of various colours in front of her in a circle like a clock face. White, black, blue, green, yellow, orange, purple, and red. The red one was glowing brightly. 'It's one of a set of eight.'

All of a sudden there was a sharp, almost deafening thunder clap like sound coming from outside. Ashara was running out the door before Celina knew what was happening. She followed her outside just in time to see a figure rising up from the ground. I stood up with its back facing them, its front facing the forest. It then gradually raised up its arms, ragged cloth covering them. There was another loud thunderclap sound before slowly turning to face Ashara, Celina and the seers that had now gathered outside. One of the seers stepped forward.
"You have risen my lord."

The figure continued slowly turning and its hair no longer obscured it skeletal face.
"I think we just raised a liche." Ashara said casually.

"I can see that!" said Celina as drew her sword and beheaded the seer. "Didn't see that coming did you."

The other seers stood stunned, most, including Ahmed, with their mouths open.

Ashara and Celina walked purposefully towards the liche but stopped when they saw dozens of undead emerging from the trees. Ashara squinted her eyes to get a better look at how many there were.
"Run!"

When they turned and ran they saw that the seers were already running towards the town centre. Ashara pushed over the headless seer who had now gotten up and was walking towards them as she ran past.
"Fuck off!"

Ashara and Celina overtook the seers as they reached the main street and saw the chaos. People were running around everywhere in a panic. Skeletons were rising up from the ground all over town. When they reached the tavern they joined the other six fighting the undead on the street. Eshra walked over to the tavern wall with his hand on his stomach when there was a brief brake in the skeleton smashing and threw up.
"How much has he had?" Asked Celina.

"Far more than any human ever should." Cassandra answered.

"I'm fine."

Rain turned Celina.
"Skeletons." he said cheerfully.

"Yea I think that was me." Ashara responded.

The six of them all looked at her as if she was a child who'd just broken a vase.