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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » Allion first 13

   
Author Topic: Allion first 13
Dmfitzgerald
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This is the first 13 of my novel Allion. It's sort of a warstory in a fantasy setting.
The large problem I have is the story has a prologue which I've temporally dropped and decided to start it here but I'm not sold on the idea of losing it...I'll post the prologue at a later time for your crit.
Your critism will be recieved and valued. Thanks

David

Allion wiped his hair out of his eyes for the thousandth time and adjusted his helmet. Like the other four hundred men and women in the unit he wore the leather armor of the city-state of Sand Towers. His commander rode by and Allion wished he could wear the lighter armor of a commander and ride a horse into battle. Without thinking he wiped the hair out of his eyes again.

The Alt Leader or commander of the unit Anjir Voc Sand Towers kept his horse to a slow walk. He had worn the set of light armor the village elders had given him but he hated them armor wishing for a set of sensible infantryman’s leathers.


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bladeofwords
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I find the contrasting desires interesting, but up until that point I wasn't really hooked.

I got the idea that his hair wiping thing was a compulsive/nervous habit but "the thousandth time" made it feel awkward. I would try to find some other way to get that point across

The first sentence of the second paragraph definitely needs some work. You need to either rewrite the sentence or insert some commas (because I think you're using a lot of appositions, which is okay, but it's not too clear).

Another thing, the made up words seem awkward when contrasted with "Sand Towers." I would either go for it all the way and ditch "Sand Towers" or back off and ease people into the new language. Why can't you just refer to the "Alt Leader" as the commander and leave it at that?

Despite all those things, I would keep the spirit of the intro because it sets up an interesting dichotomy of desires.


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jeduthun
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Deciding where to start a story is a tricky thing. Do you start in the middle of the action, or do you describe a setting and introduce characters? Some readers seem to prefer one over the other (I lean more to the action side) - but which kind do you prefer to read? That's probably the type of story you'll want to write.

A summary of the action I've seen so far: he's wiped his hair twice and his commander rode by.
The setting appears to be a desert, and the main character is surrounded by fellow soldiers.

Some questions that come to my mind:
1. Why are all these soldiers gathered here, at this place, right now? What's at stake? Are they at war? Are they reconnoitering after a defeat?
2. How does the main character feel about being in this situation. Is he a gung-ho patriotic soldier type? A conflicted draftee? i.e. something more than how he feels about the type of armor he's wearing.

I'm intrigued by your opening, and I'd be happy to offer more feedback on a larger chunk of it if you'd like.


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Beth
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I was troubled by the shift from Allion's POV to the commander's POV, and the first words of the 2nd paragraph seemed like a violation of the commander's POV. I'd hesitate to read, because this section makes me think you don't have a good grasp on the POV, which makes me wonder what other technical issues you're going to struggle with throughout.

The "dichotomy of desires" is nice, though.


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Stephen Wolfe
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I think you want to say he brushed his hair out of his eyes, "wiped" sounds funny.

And I agree with everything else that's been said here.


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Dmfitzgerald
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Thank You

bladeofwords
jeduthun
Beth

for taking the time to read and comment. You have given me good things to look into.

David


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wbriggs
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Very clear, very coherent, but to me, not very interesting. Comments in ALL CAPS. Sorry to be so rough, but I hope it will be helpful.

--
Allion wiped his hair out of his eyes for the thousandth time and adjusted his helmet.
THE FIRST LINE HERE IS SOMETHING THAT I FIND VERY DULL. WE ALL SOMETIMES HAVE TO ADJUST HATS OR CLOTHING, AND HAIR SOMETIMES GETS INTO THE EYES, BUT IS THIS INTERESTING? THIS IS THE FIRST THING AN EDITOR WILL READ -- MAKE IT GRIPPING!

Like the other four hundred men and women in the unit . . .
POLITICALLY CORRECT UNIT? VERY UNUSUAL IN A HISTORICAL OR FANTASY SETTING -- HOW DOES ALLION FEEL ABOUT IT? IF HE FEELS STRONGLY TELL US; IF NOT, I QUESTION WHETHER IT SHOULD BE.

. . . Sand Towers.
THE TREE OF GONDOR WAS INTERESTING. THE EMBLEM OF ASLAN ON NARNIA GEAR MADE SENSE. PUMP UP THE VOLUME -- REPLACE "SAND TOWERS" WITH SOMETHING FASCINATING, IF POSSIBLE.

Without thinking he wiped the hair out of his eyes again.
NOT A FASCINATING ENOUGH ACTIVITY TO MERIT MENTIONING TWICE, I THINK.

The Alt Leader or commander of the unit Anjir Voc Sand Towers kept his horse to a slow walk.
WHO'S THIS? ALLION, OR . . . OH, THE COMMANDER. I THINK THIS WOULD HAVE BEEN CLEARER IF YOU'D SAID, THE COMMANDER KEPT HIS HORSE . . . SO I COULD EASILY LINK IT TO THE COMMENT EARLIER ABOUT THE COMMANDER.

He had worn the set of light armor the village elders had given him but he hated them armor wishing for a set of sensible infantryman’s leathers.
WHOA -- WE WENT FROM ALLION'S MIND TO THE COMMANDER'S? I WANTED TO GET TO KNOW ALLION BEFORE WE WENT TO SOMEONE ELSE. I ALSO SUGGEST HAVING A SECTION BREAK BETWEEN DIFFERENT POV'S.


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Dmfitzgerald
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Stephen Wolfe
wbriggs


Thank you very much for your comments. Their both really good feedback.

David


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Survivor
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I didn't like the "contrasting desires" thing. I didn't buy it. I might have bought it if you concentrated on the horse and gave Anjir (that's his name, right?) a breastplate in addition to some well stitched leather armor. But the set up you presented screamed "no way" to me.

Everything else has already been mentioned. Special attention on POV and your co-ed unit, but pay attention to all of it.

And don't list everyone like that, it looks too much like you're only reading the membernames of those who've commented rather than reading what they actually wrote. That's at best. At worst it looks like you're doing it on purpose to imply that you'd rather be telling everyone where to get off. We're not into pro forma courtesy here. A simple "thanks guys" is much better if you want to just thank everyone who's commented.

Sorry if it seems that I'm jumping on your case particularly, I mean everyone that's doing the pro forma expressions of gratitude, yours was just particularly "forma"y.


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Dmfitzgerald
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Survivor

I'm sorrry that was not my intent and if it came of a form letter then please accept my apolagies....I wanted to make sure that I thanked everyone because feed back is important to me.....including the feed back on the "form".

Thank you for your feedback

David


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Survivor
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Yeah, I do unintentional stuff too. Like my previous post, where I was jumping all over you, and then I was like "crud, I just want to explain, but it sounds like I'm jumping all over the guy".

Heck, the entire point of critting is dealing with the unintentional. If the effect of a passage is intended, there's not much use critting it.


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Dmfitzgerald
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Survivor

No harm no foul...no offense taken......

David


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Survivor
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Yeah, yeah, now get back to that keyboard and write, you dogs!
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Elan
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I found the 13 lines rather boring. While the hair-wiping thing has been mentioned, I felt the thoughts about armor were overdone and out of context. I suspect you were trying to paint a visual picture, and so you tried to describe the armor, but the opening is not the time or place for an infodump on what the character is wearing. You need to quickly come in and establish the situation, the emotional content, the tension. Save the armor descriptions until a more appropriate spot, ie the character is putting armor on, or taking it off. Spend your 13 lines wisely and use every word to hook us into the action and tension of the scene instead.
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