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Author Topic: feedback please :)
memory_guilded
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Edited! I decided to cut out the part that confused the reader. I'll place it somewhere more appropriate. As for the rest of the changes, they're small.

“… We shall pray to Ahava.”
The assemblage kneeled instantly and lifted their heads, closing their eyes and quieting their breath until nothing could be heard throughout the tabernacle. It was the Third day and dozens of men, women, and their families gathered to the temple in worship of their Divine. Unhindered by thought and response, all their senses belonged to the Supreme Ahava, Wise Lord, God of Greatest Light.
Priest Lucien Ravid kneeled and lifted his chin as was accustomed, but refused to surrender his thoughts. Instead, his slate gray eyes blinked impatiently as he spoke the words of the ending litany, his voice loud yet innocuous. He never closed his eyes, not unless he had to. To be on the alert, that was common for the immovable Priest Ravid.
Lucien ended his prayer and turned his gaze to the followers. “Halos Ahava.” The men and women rose to their feet and bowed their heads in deep respect for the priest and his orison. Nodding in receipt, Lucien stood and quietly left the altar through a side door while one of the monks finalized the liturgy.
“Halos Ahava. Keep within your heart…”

[This message has been edited by memory_guilded (edited May 23, 2005).]


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jeduthun
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You've obviously put a lot of thought into the background of this story. The religion sounds interesting.

I start to lose Lucien's point of view at the phrase "At least that was what the Clerical Order perceived him to be," and it seems to go completely off on a tangent after that. If you can stick to Lucien's thoughts and make it clear they're his and only his, I might be hooked. Or even hold off on his thoughts until we know a little more about what's going on at this prayer meeting. A question you might be about to answer later, but I want to know sooner: What makes THIS prayer so significant that you have to start your story here?


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memory_guilded
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If it's confusing to the reader than I would like to change it, but I've envisioned Lucien to be a bitterly reflective. The thoughts *are* his own. Do you have any suggestions on how I could make it clear to the reader that he is the one thinking these thoughts?

The prayer isn't all that significant. He's performing the ending prayer at a church service. I chose to begin the story there as an introduction to the main character- his priestly duty, the apathy in which he prays. Shortly after he leaves the assemblage, the plot becomes more apparent as he is assigned to perform an exorcism.


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hoptoad
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He is coming across as deceptive and angry.Is that right?

Is there a reason he is still in the position he is in?
He believes in religion but not Ahava, so there is only a limited number of possibilites so far. He may be grabbing for power... No very interesting yet.

However if he WANTS to believe in Ahava, If he would dearly love to have an encounter with his God, then we have a different creature entirely, and the conflict instantly escalates. You indicate this latter with the term 'valence' maybe you should emphasise it more.

[This message has been edited by hoptoad (edited May 23, 2005).]


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wbriggs
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I would skip up till the first action. You could make it more punch-y by saying something like, Priest Lucien Ravid spoke the words of the litany, for the benefit of the congregation, but his thoughts were on . . .

Actually, though, I think it would work better to start with the exorcism. I think you said the point of this scene was to introduce us to Lucien's unbelief. This can be done at the exorcism as well. Unless there's going to be a real demon . . . problem with this is you're showing us someone who's doing a boring service he doesn't believe in. "I'm bored" is a contagious feeling -- the reader might catch it and stop reading!

>Priest Ravid, a man of unwavering faith in >Religion and yet so little in people.
I don't see religion as a proper noun here
...I don't understand the "unwavering faith in religion." I have the impression he doesn't believe in the god, so it wouldn't be that. If he doesn't believe in the god but has firm faith in religion, he sounds silly to me.

I didn't imagine a POV shift when you told us about the trouble Lucien would get into. But I don't know if you should listen to me. I had a whole long chapter someone read for me and he kept saying, why are you telling me what to think? when I told him the thoughts of the POV character. I think another made this complaint. It annoyed me, but the reader's never wrong about his reactions. I suppose you could start it with something like, Lucien was sure the Clerical Order had no idea . . .


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Survivor
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There seem to be a couple of clarity issues related to your POV presentation. Several readers have assumed that the description of Ravid as "a man of unwavering faith in Religion" is to be taken at face value. I'm more worried by the irregularity of appending "and yet so little in people."

Anyway, you're throwing a lot of information at the reader, and only some of it is in a really meaningful context. We don't know much about the worship of Ahava, the Temple of Diara, and all that, so none of these references are really telling us much.

When you do get to Ravid, there are still some bits that aren't defined, like when you say he doesn't "free his senses." I didn't know what that's supposed to really mean, unless it just means "close his eyes". You also say "valence to the heavens", which would seem to indicate that he is actually close to heaven in some way, which seems odd if he doesn't have faith in Ahava. Maybe you only mean "position in the heirarchy", but that's not what "valence to the heavens" is going to mean to most readers.

If you want to clarify Lucien's POV, then concentrate on his thoughts, don't state things that make no sense or baldly contradict Ravid's thoughts.


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memory_guilded
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Thanks for your input! I will definitely edit it, and make it more specific. Sometimes, when you've envisioned the fantasy world in which the characters live in, you forget that the reader is being introduced to it for the very first time.

As for Wbriggs response, the reason I capitalized the R in Religion is because in my story there is a single, proven religion, with science and magic as the only other systems. Unless it sounds cheesy, I'd like to keep it capitalized. I will most certainly work on Lucien's POV to make it less confusing to the character.

Anyway, thank you so far! I've had a few people read the first couple chapters and they've enjoyed it- of course, they're not writers and I've already discussed with them the plot and the characterizations and so of course they wouldn't be confused by it! Thanks for this feedback.


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wbriggs
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To me, Religion made me question your capitalization rather than their system! You might call it the Religion, or the faith, or something that still suggests what you want, without suggesting typo.
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Survivor
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Um...if the religion is "proven" then how could science be an "alternative" to it?
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memory_guilded
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In many a fantasy world there are clerics, and then there are wizards who perform magic and alchemists who are skilled in science. It's not so different from my story.
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Survivor
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Hmm...so you mean alchemy rather than science, right?

I have to say, I've never thought highly of that sort of simplistic system. After all, what's to keep magicians or alchemists from pretending to be the clerics of some made up god? I'll grant that Ahava or whoever takes care of revoking clerical powers that are being used for false worship.

Of course, having granted that, we are faced with another problem. How does an unbeliever manage to hang onto his role in a religion where the clerics are expected to have been granted demonstrable powers? Perhaps Ravid is using magic or alchemy to fake it, but then you've raised the problem of false worships again.

And that raises the question of whether this "religion" is proven in any meaningful sense. After all, if even we can suppose that some clerics really do have powers that are neither magic nor alchemy, they apparently lack the ability to tell whether another person's powers come from the same source. They could all be getting their powers from different gods without knowing it. Or from no god at all.

Anyway, these sort of general thoughts don't really address your particular text.

I'll just note that the changes seem to have made the POV even more detached. Sure, we can assume that it's important that Lucien is the only character with a name thus far, but most of the description of this scene seems to show him from the outside just as much as it does anyone else. Actually, a little more so.


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memory_guilded
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I will admit my answer IS simplistic because I'm only summing up what most fantasy worlds consist of, after Survivor implied that my idea of science and religion living together harmoniously was... inconceivable.

Many fantasy worlds consist of clerics who are granted power by their gods, and sorcerers who can manipulate the physical realm. (The reason I see science tying into this is because of my knowledge on pagan religions, and old eastern philosophies that claim their spiritualities are proven by science. While I don't necessarily believe this, I do think that it works in a fantasy world- and the concept *is* used.)

As for your concern that people would use magic to establish new religions... :x When it comes to my PLOT, you've hit the nail on the end! Sort of.

Although I will say, that in some fantasy realsm the powers of a religious man and those of a sorcerer are clearly different, and difficult to confuse.

~M


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Survivor
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So it's a situation where people think that the religion is proven, but the story is about the fact that this is coming unraveled, right?

This does make for an interesting story idea, but it also puts you up against a difficult position. In our own history, we have no knowledge of when magic and archane technology first became "proofs" for various religions. As far as we can determine, both magic and "alchemy" (if we can apply the term to prehistoric "science") have always been used to bolster the claims of shamen to possess divine wisdom and power. There is no time in human history, and probably no identifiable time in human prehistory, where there was no "false" religion (here used specifically to mean a religion based on manufactured "miracles").

It could be an interesting idea, but in human terms it might make your milieu fundamentally unrealistic in a way that even common fantasy polytheist intervention doesn't accomplish.

But this is all rather apart from the text as it stands. Right now the main concern is working out the POV issues.


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