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Author Topic: Possible 1st 13
JeanLG
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Hi everyone, I'm not sure yet of the balance between the mystical and human story lines and characters in the book. If weighted towards the mysticals, at least in the first book of the proposed trilogy, these are candidates for the first 13 lines.

Does this work? Would you read on? Thanks!

---------------
1455 AD, Deep in Thüringer Wald at the Ancient Tree

The Elf King had felt the magical kingdom’s power slipping for several centuries. Fewer people believed in elves, fairies, gods or goddesses. Or if they did, they were afraid to be open about it for fear they would be called witches or thought to be possessed.

But if people didn’t believe in them, didn’t listen when they visited them in dreams, played with their children, or gently nudged their brains towards a good solution to their problem, they couldn’t be the helpers and protectors that they’d been for centuries.

He had asked the Christian angels if they’d like to sit down and talk about how they could work together, but they pointed out that they saw their own problems coming.

[ January 04, 2013, 12:57 AM: Message edited by: Kathleen Dalton Woodbury ]

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Grumpy old guy
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G'day Jean. Quick answer first; yes, I'd read on. Longer answer; yes, I'd read on, until the anachronisms of the language became too much for me -- unless the story turns out to be humorous.

You might find this useful.

Phil.

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JeanLG
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Hi Phil, Great resource! I've bookmarked it already. Yes, the fact that the ancient mystical folk talk like 21st century business and organizational people is part of the humor of that part of the book, much like Good Omens.

But the humans will speak as people would in their time, so I can really use that etymology info.

Jean

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Meredith
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It's an intriguing premise.

JMO, but why not start with the conversation between the Elf king and Archangel Michael instead of telling us about it?

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JeanLG
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Great suggestion, Meredith. I will try that. Thanks!
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KellyTharp
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Nice premise, but to start the firt line with "had felt" passive voice lost me. Try to keep the first line a bit more active maybe. ie; The elf king paced his ebony wood quarters as the same old knowledge played out in his mind, the magical kindom's powers were slipping, and had been slipping for centuries." Or some such thing. You have the character, place, emotion, can add smell of brazer burning, pacing. It kinda hits everything. At least that's what I have learnd. Just and FYI. KT
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enigmaticuser
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I'd keep reading, but like Kelly I found the passive dragging. And I'll have to piggy back on her mentioning a setting. I find ethreal problems don't snag attention as much for me. It feels like we're being introduced to the story as something removed.

Perhaps even the intro could become both specific and active by having the Elf King face some problem that epitomizes the larger problem. I've read in Scandanavian countries sometimes they still "consult" the holdefolk (hidden folk/elves) before beginning a construction project. You could have something like that happening and the King or his intermediary facing someone not consulting to their own detriment.

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History
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I agree with Kelly. I was brought short by the passive voice of "had felt." I'd go shorter for the opening line: "The Elf King felt the magic within his kingdom fading."

Respectfully,
Dr.Bob

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JeanLG
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Hi everyone, Thanks for your comments. I understand about your concerns with "had felt." However, just to nit-pick, it's not passive voice because the Elf King is the actor in the sentence. He isn't being acted on, which would be passive.

It is, however, past perfect, which might make it not strong enough. I will play with it.

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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JeanLG, thank you for speaking up about the incorrect use of "passive" to describe "had" constructions.

I tried for a long time to clarify the true meaning of "passive" and finally gave up because new people keep coming along who insist on applying that term to things that aren't truly passive.

In fact, there's a whole list of topics on the subject. Oh, well.

For the record, verbs that are state of being verbs, such as "was" are not "passive." Instead they are "static" verbs (as in "state of being).

Both "passive" and "static" can be considered antonyms to "active" but they are opposite in different ways.

A better antonym for "static verb" would be "strong verb" (meaning a verb that changes tense by changing its spelling instead of by adding "was" (and so on) to the front of it (also known as "weak verbs").

And finally (once again), "passive" is a term that applies to a particular kind of sentence construction in which the actor in the sentence becomes the object of the verb, or is excluded completely, as in

"The man was bitten by the dog."

(The dog is the "actor" since it did the biting.)

"Mistakes were made."

(The "actor" is unnamed--probably because no one wants to take the blame.)

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MattLeo
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Once again, I concur with Meredith. One advantage of not explaining stuff is that you don't arouse the reader's critical tendencies. You want to slip the whole Role of the Elves thing in the back door so readers don't get to decide whether they want it in their universe.

Having the dialog take place is a good option, but one thing I'd caution you against is having characters have conversations which, from their in-universe perspective are pointless. Characters engage in conversations to pursue their agenda, not to inform the reader. The catch phrase for a piece of dialog that doesn't serve a character's agenda and so only exists to inform the reader is "As you know, Bob..." or AYKB. Since Bob knows, why is Alice telling him this?

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JeanLG
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Thanks, Kathleen.
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JeanLG
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Hi Matt, Also called info-dump. I concur.
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