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Author Topic: Moonfall
Kherezae
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The first thirteen lines. This is a short story that basically does some worldbuilding for the world of my novels but has nothing to do with the main plot.

edit - rewrite

**

She loves the mageglow that accompanies strong magic. It terrifies me. I’m the one who sits with her, later, through the shakes and tremors; the white-as-snow, cold, clammy skin; the vomiting; the hoarse cries and tossing and turning of nightmares. These times are rare--it’s hard to use such great magic that it causes withdrawal. So most of the time, it’s mageglow. Her skin glows radiant, her spirit is high and floating in beauty. The world doesn’t seem quite real to her--it’s as if for a time she’s no longer truly a part of it.

She isn’t mine, then. She belongs to the magic.

I know nothing of magic--I have none of it myself. But I know Reen. And I can feel when a withdrawal is coming. I can sense her limitations. But she won’t listen to me when I warn her.

[This message has been edited by Kherezae (edited August 19, 2007).]


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Rick Norwood
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I like the opening, but was confused about what was happening to whom. I would introduce names for the characters right away, and then be specific about who was doing the vomiting.
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monstewer
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I loved this.

No real hook, no real character creation, but the writing and the sense of place really pulled me in and I already wanted to know more. Great job!

One minor nit, maybe describe the good effects of using the magic and then go into the bad effects that comes from using great magic? I think that would maybe read a little more easily.


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lehollis
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I like the term "mageglow", and I like how you described it. I've seen magic described as an addiction (Whedon did it in the Buffy television series), but you described it in a fresh manner. There is some characterization in there that I like. I enjoyed it.

I would be looking for immediate action (immediate meaning action that is happening now) and setting very soon, or I would be disappointed as a reader.

About the shakes, tremors, and so forth: I was confused. At first, I thought it was the price of magic. Every magic user goes through it. Then I thought it was what the narrator experience. Then I thought it was what "she" experienced sometimes. You may want to clarify what exactly is happening there. I wonder if it might be feel immediate if one of these episodes was happening now, so we could see it through the narrator's eyes?

"Sometimes it’s bad. Other times, it’s worse." This phrase sounded a little trite to me.

I also see what seems like a conflict. "She loves the mageglow that accompanies great magic." And then "These times are rare—it’s hard to use such great magic that it causes withdrawal."

Does "great" magic cause mageglow or cause withdrawal? Or is it both?

"She isn’t mine, then. She belongs to the magic." I thought this would have worked attached to the previous paragraph. I don't think it needs to be alone, and I didn't feel it added much to the opening.

I would definitely keep reading to see what the story is about.


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InarticulateBabbler
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My take:

quote:

She[Who?] loves the mageglow that accompanies great magic. It terrifies me. I’m the one who sits through the shakes and tremors; the white-as-snow, cold, clammy skin; the vomiting, the hoarse cries and tossing and turning of nightmares.[Why? Is spouse/lover; sibling; servant; or her child telling this?] Sometimes it’s bad. [Other times, it’s worse.<--A little redundant.] These times are rare—it’s hard to use such great magic[ are you accidentally missing the other em-dash here?] that it causes withdrawal. So most of the time, it’s mageglow. Her skin glows radiant, her spirit is high and floating in beauty. [The world doesn’t seem quite real to her<--violates PoV.]—it’s as if for a time she’s no longer truly a part of it.

She isn’t mine, then. She belongs to the magic.

I know nothing of magic—I have none of it myself. But I know her. And I can feel when a withdrawal is coming. I can sense her


I like this. Other than what I have pointed out, I'm interested and would read further. I dig the "conflict" is in him/her watching an addict cope with the effects of withdrawal. He/she instantly has a dilemma: Is he/she going to intervene? The scope of possibility is awesome.

[This message has been edited by InarticulateBabbler (edited August 11, 2007).]


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lehollis
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"The world doesn’t seem quite real to her—it’s as if for a time she’s no longer truly a part of it."

In my opinion, this doesn't violate PoV. I wondered that myself, but on my first read I understood this to be the narrator's opinion of how "she" feels. I even felt the narrator had experienced it a bit and understood the feeling.

I suppose it could maybe use an "I think," tag or something to clarify, but I didn't feel it needed one when I read it. I don't like to see text cluttered with such tags out of fear that PoV will be broken. For me, the author has to do more to violate PoV.

I feel that sometimes, "he thought" tags are easily implies, just like dialogue doesn't always need a "he said" tag.

Last week, I was noticing OSC used similar statements in Seventh Son without tagging them.


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Kherezae
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Wow, thanks for all the advice and constructive criticism, you guys =)

As to introducing the characters -- I have a bad habit with this. I like to start off with just 'she' or 'he' for the first couple paragraphs before I introduce the name. I'm not sure what brought the habit about for me.

The 'she' is introduced shortly in, but the narrator's name isn't introduced until quite some time into the story. In this case, I feel it was one of the limitations of sticking to the scope of first person point of view. There had to be a place for someone to use her name naturally, and there wasn't for some time. I could probably find a way to bring it up earlier, though.

I'm going to try to work in all the suggestions. In particular, clarifying the bit about withdrawal. I could do something like change

quote:
I’m the one who sits through the shakes and tremors; the white-as-snow, cold, clammy skin; the vomiting, the hoarse cries and tossing and turning of nightmares.

to

quote:
I’m the one who sits through the withdrawal that sometimes follows the mageglow: the shakes and tremors; the white-as-snow, cold, clammy skin; the vomiting, the hoarse cries and tossing and turning of nightmares.

Anyway, thanks again!


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lehollis
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I think giving a name earlier helps, unless there is somehow a great reason not to do so.

So the narrator is sitting through his own withdrawal? That's what your rewrite makes me think, now.

I don't like to do rewrites of other's work, but if I could offer a suggestion for clarity ...

If it's the narrator, perhaps change "sits through" to "suffers through"?

If it's the "She", perhaps change "the withdrawal" to "her withdrawal"?

Just a thought.


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KayTi
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I'm sure it'll just be a moment before someone digs up that old post "just tell me" and a few others like it. Just tell us the she's name. It's frustrating as a reader to try to guess it. I agree with your rationale that if you're telling first person and not doing it with an obvious "frame" (e.g., telling it to a judge/diary/friend after the events have long since passed) - then wait until there is a natural point for someone to give the narrator his name. But I suggest that you try for that natural point to come as early as possible!

As for specifics here - I'll admit to being a bit confused by the fourth line or so. She loves the mageglow, but it makes narrator sick? Doesn't it make She sick? Sometimes it's bad? Worse than the cold clammy skin and vomitting? That seems pretty bad already - KWIM? Other times it's worse? Worse than the vomitting? Worse than the bad (which may or may not be worse than the vomitting?) something else? Then you say "these times are rare" - which times? The bad ones? The vomiting ones? the worse ones?

Sorry to go on - was trying to illustrate how/why I got confused, hopefully it is useful.

Further on - "most of the time, it's mageglow." - so is mageglow less than the bad/worse/vomiting?

Did anyone mention that there seems to be a POV violation in here? "the world doesn't seem quite real to her..." - how would narrator know this? seems like we're dipping into She's head here.

I guess you get to that in the last line - because the narrator can sense her, but hmm...would it be useful to move that up earlier in the text? Just a thought, not sure it would accomplish your aims, though.

I hope this is helpful!


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oliverhouse
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Include me among those who thought that they both practiced magic, but that it affected the narrator more than it affected "her". I thought your rewrite as a little heavy-handed, though. I recommend something more like, "I’m the one who sits with her, later, through the shakes and tremors; the white-as-snow, cold, clammy skin; the vomiting; the hoarse cries and tossing and turning of nightmares." (And note that you need a semicolon after "vomiting" for consistency.) There are lots of ways to rewrite that, so don't take my rewrite as a specific recommendation. "the withdrawal that sometimes follows the mageglow" just felt like it was too drug-related (bringing me out of the otherwordliness of it), too much said explicitly after (and before) so much delicious implication.

Speaking of implication, I assume the narrator is male because "She isn't mine" most closely implies a spousal sort of relationship. Others are possible, though (e.g., a big / little sister), so if not, you might want to clarify.

I agree that there are probably words here and there that would be better left out, but there's nothing bad here. If you're still in a draft stage, I'd leave those for the polish. You've got a very nice opener here.

Regards,
Oliver


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Kherezae
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Thanks again! Oliver, I found your suggestion for rewriting the 'withdrawal' bit particularly helpful.

edit Here is a corrected version. I didn't use all suggestions, especially since some concerns are addressed in short order or are intentional and addressed a bit further on, but I hope to have cleared up the worst of the confusion.

quote:
Reen loves the mageglow that accompanies strong magic. It terrifies me. I’m the one who sits with her, later, through the shakes and tremors; the white-as-snow, cold, clammy skin; the vomiting; the hoarse cries and tossing and turning of nightmares. These times are rare--it’s hard to use such great magic that it causes withdrawal. So most of the time, it’s mageglow. Her skin glows radiant, her spirit is high and floating in beauty. The world doesn’t seem quite real to her--it’s as if for a time she’s no longer truly a part of it.

She isn’t mine, then. She belongs to the magic.

I know nothing of magic--I have none of it myself. But I know her. And I can feel when a withdrawal is coming. I can sense her limitations. But she won’t listen to me when I warn her.


I added her name; I changed 'the mageglow that accompanies great magic' to strong magic to try to distinguish that it it takes even greater magic to cause withdrawal; and I used Oliver's suggestion for clarifying who's suffering the withdrawal.

Use of 'withdrawal' is intentional since use of magic in this world is very comparable to drug use. Mageglow is a high.

For those who felt I violated POV -- the narrator knows how Reen feels because of how close they are, her own observations, and conversations they've had about it. When she's thinking about it, she doesn't think "I know Reen feels this-and-such way because she told me so," she just thinks "Reen feels this way." I guess I'm more lenient with POV violation, because I believe a character can make an assumption about another character and state it as fact, and it may or may not be true...

And finally, the narrator's relationship to Reen doesn't become clear until later on in the story, but it is addressed because it's unclear to other characters, as well.

I hope this addressed the main problems!

[This message has been edited by Kherezae (edited August 14, 2007).]

[This message has been edited by Kherezae (edited August 14, 2007).]


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aerten
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I liked the tone and rhythm of your intro, but I found the distinction between great magic and mageglow hard to follow. It seems especially important since the former is what makes this such an ordeal for narrator, and the latter is what makes your female character enjoy it. You say in one area that every time she uses magic it's awful, but then you tell use that mageglow isn't so bad. I know it's a lot for a beginning, but the clarification would help.
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JeffBarton
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Sorry to get to this late - after the edits. They work. There's clear difference to me between Reen and the narrator. The drug metaphor works, too. You're going right for the consequences and making addiction the conflict.

Chalk up another vote for finding out the relationship between Reen and the narrator. At this point it could be anything from parent to child, lover to professional counselor.

The hook is there for reading the short story. World building takes more that 13 lines, of course.


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franc li
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I found it intriguing. So you don't have anything to send out?
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Kherezae
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quote:
So you don't have anything to send out?

Sorry, maybe I'm being completely dense but I don't know what you mean, haha.

Anyway, with magic in this world, you can use a minor amount without any side effects. But if you use stronger magic, it causes mageglow, a high. And even greater magic causes not only the mageglow, but once you've completed working the magic it causes withdrawal because suddenly powerful magic is no longer circulating in the body. Without breaking into an infodump, I don't see how to clarify this completely in just the first thirteen lines.


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Zero
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It's good. I'd read more, but I'd like to get a picture of where the story is going to go over the next few pages. (As in... the kind of "quest" or main plot the story might take shape in, the overall feel)
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KayTi
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ARGH! Long detailed post just went kerplouie thanks to a wild mouse movement.

Repaired thesis:
The new version is great. You addressed a lot with this rewrite and I hope you're happy with the piece.

I think there is still something tricky to understand about the mageglow, and I think worth addressing. Mageglow is clearly pivotal to your plot and story, so it would behoove you to clear up the confusion early on.

I think the confusion is one of categorization. There's the icky mageglow that makes Reen sick and terrifies the narrator, then there's the mageglow that makes her radiant (that new description, by the way, was wonderful.) The reader has trouble telling which mageglow you're talking about in that first paragraph, I think. Suggestion - can you NAME the bad addictive kind of mageglow? Think about other addiction words like stoned, high, fix, doping up, the shakes, etc. There's a whole language around illegal/addictive substances. So make one up for your world. You could stick it in at the end of the first sentence, and then use it again later in that first paragraph.

Example:

"Reen loves the mageglow that accompanies strong magic - Katchal it's called. It terrifies me..."
then
"Katchal times are rare -- it's hard to use such great magic that it causes withdrawl."

This would serve to distinguish the bad mageglow from the next line, where you talk about how most of the time it just makes her beautiful.

Does that make any sense?

It's a lovely beginning, interesting concept, I hope this is helpful.


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TaleSpinner
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Sorry to go against accepted wisdom here, but I preferred the first version, which went 'She loves the mageglow that accompanies great magic. ..."

Why? Because that very first sentence, with the wonderful 'mageglow' reference, conjured an instant image in my mind of a lovely girl, glowing.

With the new version, 'She' has become 'Reen' and since I don't know if a Reen is male or female, the image is lost. By the time I find out Reen's a she, it's too late and the image is not nearly so dramatic because now I'm in the POV character's thoughts.

For me, the original first sentence had way more impact. And as long as there's only one 'she' around, I'm not desperate for the name in the first para. Indeed, lacking the name gave it a pleasant sense of mystery, now, for me, gone.

Just a thought,
Pat


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oliverhouse
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Interesting call, Pat. Maybe this is one of those cases where the writer should go against conventional wisdom.
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lehollis
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quote:
I guess I'm more lenient with POV violation, because I believe a character can make an assumption about another character and state it as fact, and it may or may not be true...

I agree.

I like the latest edit, but I think I agree that "she" actually did work a little better. It added a bit--addition by subtraction?--of intimacy, somehow. I normally wouldn't advocate that.

As a general tip, you may want to edit the first post in this thread and mention there is a rewrite later. That will help any newcomers from reviewing the wrong version. It avoid confusion. Just a thought.

When asking if you have anything to send out, critiquers are generally asking if you have a completed story, and if you want full critiques on the entire story.

The reason for only posting thirteen lines is that more might be considering "publishing" in the world of electronic rights. This means the manuscript because very hard to sell to a publisher, since they usually want the electronic right for themselves.

So the usual practice, more or less, is to publish the first thirteen here, get feedback, make some revisions, then see if anyone wants to critique the entire thing.

I would love to read and critique the entire manuscript, if you are looking for readers and critiquers. (Heck, I'd read it just to see what happens.)


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arriki
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It seems to me that if you’re going to open with the character’s feelings, there should be something in those feelings that evokes a positive response in the reader. Curiosity, at the very least. But just feeling miserable doesn’t. MOONFALL starts out okay, but then it loses me. And, in the end, what the author is saying through the pov doesn’t quite make sense. Who is doing the magic? Why is the pov getting sick and from what magic? On some inspection, I think it is “she” who does the magic and gets a high while he, for some reason, gets sick. Those questions I need answered real soon. They aren’t the sort of question I want left hanging. What I’m trying to say is that there are some questions that hang in the mind provocatively but these are that sort. These just muddy the sense of this narrative. I think reducing the descriptions of the sickness would help this. It is an interesting idea but you haven’t made clear what you want to say.

She loves the mageglow that accompanies great magic. It terrifies me. I’m the one who sits through the shakes and tremors. Her skin glows. [Could work to do another couple of contrasts here then get to the story point?]


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Kherezae
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As advised, I edited the rewrite into the first post this time.

I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who liked beginning with 'she' rather than 'Reen', but in this rewrite I still made sure her name was in the first 13 lines. I thought the place I put it this time -- the emphasis that the main character knows Reen -- fit better.

I'm not going to distinguish mageglow from withdrawal further in the first 13 lines. I simply don't think I could find a way without breaking up what I already have, and personally I like what I already have. Even if it isn't perfectly clear in the first 13 lines, I hope it becomes clear shortly thereafter. The two different terms are mageglow and withdrawal; there aren't two types of mageglow because mageglow is the high, withdrawal is the bad stuff. Mageglow terrifies the narrator because she knows what it can lead to.

Thanks again to everyone. The story is complete, so I can send it out to anyone who's really interested. I'm hoping to enter it in Writers of the Future by the end of September.

[This message has been edited by Kherezae (edited August 19, 2007).]


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TaleSpinner
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Much, much better. I'd love to read.

One nit:

"it’s hard to use such great magic that it causes withdrawal"

Do you mean something like, "it’s hard to use magic so great that it causes withdrawal" ?

Cheers,
Pat


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oliverhouse
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Superb, and I agree with the decision to start with "she". I'll read if you're not in a hurry.
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