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Author Topic: Where Gods Walk
onepktjoe
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I'm trying to get the bugs out of my first short story submission. It's about 6700 words. In the fantasy genre (if I had to stick it in one). I'd appreciate any help I can get.

Where Gods Walk


“How cloudy the ledger of woes when we dip from the terrible well to drink.”

The Lonely God spoke those words long ago, before He consigned me to the Watching Place. He spoke them with such sorrow I was broken; bereft of what little strength remained, even for weeping.

And then He left me.

I would never see Him again after that day, but I cannot say that displeases me now. My fury with Him has yet to abate.

For on that day, while my anger roared at a full-furnace blaze, I did His bidding and remained through it all. And I condemned my beloved to such a fate.

It is justice then that I am imbrued with the terrifying clarity of that day on the shore, and it shall be so for all of time.

I have recorded everything.


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theokaluza
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Well, nobody else has taken a stab at this, so I might as well.

quote:
“How cloudy the ledger of woes when we dip from the terrible well to drink.”
Is a terrible well supposed to be a Proper Name for something, or is it just a hole full of nasty water? Either way I cut it, I don't understand the idea at all.
quote:
The Lonely God spoke those words long ago, before He consigned me to the Watching Place. He spoke them with such sorrow I was broken; bereft of what little strength remained, even for weeping.
Good background information, I think. However, the end of the last sentence is awkward. I get that you're saying how he doesn't even have enough energy to cry/weep/self-pity trip/etc, but such a powerful state of being needs a more powerful statement.
quote:
And then He left me.
Did The Lonely God leave him before or after is was confined to the Watching Place?
quote:
And I condemned my beloved to such a fate.
Such a fate? Such a fate as what? You didn't give an example of what 'such a fate' would be. Or do you mean that he condemned his loved one to another Watching Place? Or to be angry? Or what, again? What's happening?
quote:
It is justice then that I am imbrued with the terrifying clarity of that day on the shore, and it shall be so for all of time.
Again, what's going on? Do you mean 'shore' in a metaphorical sense, or is it literally a shore?

Your story seems like it's got some really good ideas in it, and I'm a huge fan of epic tales. But it seems like you're getting all mired in the style of the genre, and you're losing track of continuity.


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onepktjoe
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Hi Theo,

Thanks for hopping in on this. Your comments were helpful, and indicative of what I feel the "bugs" are with this piece. It's kind of experimental (for me that is, not necessarily in a literary sense). It was originally an epic poem I wrote, but it was so "full of itself" I couldn't stand it. But I'm in love with the premise. I thought adapting it to a short story with a somewhat lyrical "voice" would help. I think I'm on the right track, but....

"And I condemned my beloved to such a fate."

I agree with your assessment of this line the most. What I want to say is, "You wouldn't believe what I let happen to the girl I love" but I have yet to find the right way to express it, and make it dovetail in. Personally, I do not mind specific suggestions--I take them and make them my own or discard them--and would welcome any here.

On a tangent: I caught your recent fragment and found it intriguing. The only reason I didn't contribute is that I felt I had nothing salient to add to the thread that hadn't been expressed. I would, however be quite open to a crit exchange with you. I've dropped you an email regarding this.

Thanks again for the help,
Joe


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rickfisher
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I'll second the general drift of theokaluza's comments. 1) much of the language is of the lyrical, archaic sort often used in fantasy. Although a little bit of it goes a long way, for me, I'd say that by and large you do it fairly well. 2) You're teasing the reader by deliberately withholding information. Starting with the third paragraph, I start to feel lost--before that I was willing to accept that you simply hadn't had time to clarify all your references yet. After that, my reaction was that you were delivering new teases without having resolved the old ones. I'll do a light-handed line-by-line:
quote:
“How cloudy the ledger of woes when we dip from the terrible well to drink.”[I don't think of a ledger being cloudy, nor do either "clouds" or "ledgers" seem all that related to drinking from wells. Also, to keep this line from seeming like opening conversation, I'd italicize it instead of quoting it.]

The Lonely God spoke those words long ago, before He consigned me to the Watching Place. He spoke them with such sorrow I was broken;[comma not semi-colon] bereft of what little strength remained, even for weeping[ditto theo].

And then He left me.

I would never see ["have never seen"--unless your narrator knows the future] Him again after that day, but I cannot say that displeases me now. My fury with Him has yet to abate.[No paragraph break here.]

For on that day, while my anger roared at a full-furnace blaze,[if the narrator's anger is significant enough to mention it twice within two sentences, it's certainly significant enough for him to tell us its cause before going on] I did His bidding and remained through it all.[Through what? And why, if he was so angry?] And I condemned my beloved to such a fate.[ditto theo]

It is justice[comma] then[comma] that I am imbrued[imbued] with the terrifying clarity of that day on the shore, and it shall be so for all of time.[Why terrifying? Whence clarity? Shore? By this point, I have no idea what you're talking about.]

I have recorded everything.[Sounds like you're about to tell us the story now. But after all that teasing, it's too late. I've already lost interest.]


Really, my main point here is: tease less, tell more. You might consider simply starting the story with the events, rather than, as it sounds, telling the story as a huge flashback following a brief introduction. Not having seen the rest of the story, I can't be sure that you don't have some good reason for this--but if it's just for effect, I'd suggest that the effect you're getting isn't the one you wanted.

It DOES sound as though this could go in an interesting direction. You just need to show us what makes it interesting up front, instead of saying: Boy, this will really be interesting later on.

[This message has been edited by rickfisher (edited February 20, 2005).]


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onepktjoe
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Hi Rick,

Thanks for the comments. I'm still getting used to the idea of compressing as much as possible into the first 13. I think it's an important approach, but it's caused me to agonize over a lot of my work, particularly this piece.

My intention with this fragment was to outline the entire story in narrative--with the promise that all the salient details would follow--and to do so in a way that interested a reader. The first sentence was a gamble, in that it works against my intention by being an enigmatic metaphor, but is the embodiment of my intention by condensing the entire story and its meaning in a single statement. It is, I hope, perfectly clear when one reaches the very last line of the piece. I just have to figure out how get the reader there.

The storyline itself is simple. The narrator is recounting an event (and what led up to the event) that took place as a result of his association with the Lonely God, and how it had tragic implications for himself and for the woman he loved. You and Theo's comments have helped show me where this failed to come across, but also brought up some issues I have yet to resolve.

As I said above, this was originally a poen that I wanted to adapt. It was/is a meditation on lonliness, and on its effects on us personally, on our relationships, and on our belief systems. In this, it is in part an idea piece. But the idea is conveyed mainly by the event (actual in the story/metaphorical in the writing).

The event is a supernatural one, and contains a great deal of ambiguity (partly because of its nature, and partly because of the poem I once used to describe it). It didn't seem workable to begin with the event without describing the characters that brought it about, and how.

To complicate this even further, the reader being cognizant of how very very long the narrator has lived with the "terrifying clarity" of this memory is an intimate part of the story. It explains his actions at the end, and his understanding (and lack thereof) of all that's happened.

Okay. That's everything I was trying to stuff in that 13...you know, without stuffing it all in there.

Any more suggestions will be worshipped. Anyone that reads the whole thing and then rips it apart will be assigned "whatever's-higher-than-God" status in my eyes (and I will happily crit anything they'd like to share with me too).

BTW rick, imbue and imbrue are both legitimate words from the same latin root, but imbue has overtones of saturating with inspiration or charging with authority, while imbrue tends more towards saturation that is a stain or a defilement.

Anyway, thanks again for the help, and for letting me ramble about this thing. Let me know if I can return the favor.

Joe


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Survivor
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6700 words of this would be a lot, for me. I do appreciate what you're doing with this voice, but it would just wear anyone down after a while.

I didn't comment on this before, because I wasn't really sure what I wanted to say other than what I just mentioned. In all the technical aspects of establishing an interesting, focused, recognizable first person narrator who has clear reasons for telling the story, this is quite acceptable. The meaning of the language is fairly clear despite the dramatic voice, even that first line quoted from the Lonely God. I'm intrigued by the hints of the story I've gotten so far, the cruel irony that he should have served this god to the extent of condemning his own beloved, to be inevitably abandoned himself.

But none of that can change the fact that I have absolutely no desire to read this text. I think that if you want many people to finish or even start reading this story, you're going to have to drastically modify your character's voice.


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autumnmuse
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I think that by "compressing as much as possible into the first 13" you may be doing yourself and your readers a disservice. The point isn't necessarily to cram everything in at the beginning. All you need to include in the first 13 is enough information to make me want more. As it stands there are too many questions raised for me to want more. I fear that even more questions will arise before any resolution. Readers are lazy creatures; they don't mind a little suspense, but too many things at once tire them out and they read something else. I might equate it to peeling an orange versus cracking a very hard nut. While it is true that the nut might taste good at the center, the work involved to get to that center may be too much, especially without any tools provided by the author. An orange's smell, on the other hand, is tantalising enough to cause someone to be willing to mount the lesser effort needed to peel it.

I hope that makes sense.


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onepktjoe
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Thanks to Survivor and autumnmuse also.

The handling of the narrator's voice is obviously an issue. I was trying to use it to carry the milieu (I use almost no wheres or whens in the story) but I can see how it comes across as too much. I'll try a rewrite and see if I get any bites.

I understand your point muse. I was exaggerating a little to get across my struggle with the first 13 approach, but your advice was well-taken. We could however start an interesting thread on the subject (or revive an old one as the case may be) in the "Open Discussion" area (and carry it over into the "Hooks" area for that matter). In any case, your advice is helpful here.

Thanks again all,
J.


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