This is the first chunk to the prologue of what I hope will become a series of short stories based in the world this piece introduces. Not shown in this chunk is the birth of the primary character the stories will center on. Thank you for taking the time to read. The piece is 947 words total if anyone would like to read it.
In the beginning the nameless god of the mountain brought forth his children - man. As did the other gods bring forth their races. Mankind rose quickly, short lived but clever and brutal beings forged in the likeness of their god. In time the god of the air Draco, watching the progress of man brought forth his own children true to his likeness and more than true to the god's lust for dominance of all.
Dragonkind locked all the world's races in fear and bondage as they spread like fire through the firmament of the realms. Mankind fell under their terrible magical might and cried out to the nameless god for salvation. The nameless one answered his people and gave unto them the might of magic and steel. More than that the mountain god in his furor forged a sword of his own hand and magic - the silver fang. To the strongest man of the strongest clan of mankind the god gave his creation and named the clan to the task imparted them. Such was born into the world the Slayer clan.
quote:In the beginning the nameless god of the mountain brought forth his children - man.
You're starting a mythology based on a god that has no name. Not only is it going to be awkward for the reader to read "god with no name" over and over again, as I have a feeling he's going to be brought up again, but it is also unlikely that a god would not be given a name by the people who worship him.
quote:As did the other gods bring forth their races. Mankind rose quickly, short lived but clever and brutal beings forged in the likeness of their god. In time the god of the air Draco, watching the progress of man brought forth his own children true to his likeness and more than true to the god's lust for dominance of all.
The last sentence of this portion has many problems along grammatical lines. Maybe a comma between 'air' and 'Draco'. Replace the comma after Draco with a period. Start a new sentence. The phrase 'dominance of all.' is awkward.
quote:Dragonkind locked all the world's races in fear and bondage as they spread like fire through the firmament of the realms.
It's a minor quibble, but does 'they' refer to Dragonkind, or all the world's other races?
quote:To the strongest man of the strongest clan of mankind the god gave his creation and named the clan to the task imparted them. Such was born into the world the Slayer clan.
The first sentence here is a run-on. You repeat the word 'man' too many times. You use 'clan' twice in one sentence. 'Slayer Clan' reminds me of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
However many problems I have with your writing specifically, I find the setting to be quite interesting. If I were reading this story, and the grammatical problems were fixed, I'd be looking forward to learning more about it.
What comes to mind when I read this is that you may just be trying too hard. Sometimes if you just simplify something it's actually more beautiful.
Example: "In the beginning (of time?) the gods brought forth their races. From Gorgolith , the god of the mountain, came man."
I have to read the rest to tell you what I really think but from this I can say that I'm not hooked. It seems like backstory, and I'm unsure that I need to know it to make the story great. And if I do there's better ways to fit it in.
I'll read it, though. Maybe something I say will set off a trigger that will help.
Thank you for the feedback! Finally some good feedback...
The major gods are really ancillary as this is a tale of a dragon slayer. There are few direct references in dialog and where referenced he is usually called the nameless one or the mountain god. Since there are so few references the god would be easy to name though. Will put my thinking cap on.
This is meant to be a prologue that would preface each story and I am shooting for a very ridgid formal tone. Perhaps that is wrong too but what I am trying to do I have seen done before. A kind of "Know ye in the days of yore.." RE Howard kind of thing. I guess more than anything an old style Sword and Sorcery opening. (I hope that makes sense... bleah)
I dont think I can avoid Slayer just because of Buffy.. that and I have many stories already written in this world. The logic is the same as that behind the names Baker, Smith etc... The fact that the Slayers consider themselves no better than any other calling comes out in the stories
I will fix the grammar and redundancies noted and send it out to those who wish to read it.
Thank you again very, very much! All the feedback I have gotten on my stories so far is "I liked it/I didnt like it"
[This message has been edited by webm0nster (edited August 10, 2005).]
Just a question to consider: if the gods are just mentioned in passing, and aren't crucial to the story, do you need to talk about them at the start? Everytime I see a prologue that starts with deities, I groan. It's static, and no matter how it's done, I find prologues about gods very, very dull. Just an example: David Edding's Belgariad has a fat prologue about gods and whatnot. I only went on to chapter one because it's my friend's favorite book. The entire prologue later had to be re-explained throughout the book because the author couldn't expect anyone reading the prologue to keep all of it straight. The book would didn't need the prologue, in other words, and would have been better without it. Usually, the first thing I do when deciding to read a book is pick it up, see if it has a prologue -- and if prologue is a narrative about gods, I put it back. This really is something of a pet peeve of mine...but if the story is really about a dragon slayer, why not start there? Then, as information about the Gods becomes important to the story, you can sneak in little bits of it here or there. If it isn't ever really important, just let the characters reference them in their oaths and curses, and let the Gods be part of the milieu.
Posts: 189 | Registered: Jul 2005
Well I wanted a static prologue to each story so that I did not have reinvent the wheel everytime as that bores me to death when reading series character oriented stories. I thought if it was not contained it could be skipped easily by the reader familar with the world and character. Like the beginning of an old time radio serial. The 13 line thing is kinda biting me in the butt here as of the 900 words only the first three paragraphs are mythology. After which the prologue places you 25000 years forward to the birth rite and naming of the baby who is the protagonist of the series. Which introduces and names some family members and cultural norms. If you think this kind of thing really makes a person quit reading perhaps I will just blend all of this into each and every story.
Posts: 12 | Registered: Aug 2005
I don't want this to turn into argument, so here's my two cents for whatever it's worth to you, and then I'm done: I'm afraid most readers really don't want to listen to long histories to get into a story. Readers are smart, really, and they can pick things up -- every detail doesn't have to be explained.
For example, a friend told my I had to read R.A. Salvatore, so I picked up his Dark Elf Trilogy from the library. The first book bored me to death. Most of the first part was even dramatized, but I knew it wasn't about the main character, and it drove me crazy. It was all a big set-up to explain how Drow society worked. I chucked the book against the wall after the third chapter. Picked up the second book in the series, called Exile (if I wasn't being pestered to read them, I wouldn't have touched the second book at all). I liked this book immensely. The author assumed everyone had read Book One, and so he stopped trying to explain everything, and just told his story. Nothing in the story confused me, even though I didn't have the "background" I supposedly needed. Just from the way the story happened, I was able to pick up who the Drow are, and how their bloody religion rules their dark city and whatnot. I didn't need a prologue, or an info dump, or anything of the sort to understand and enjoy the tale.
When I write, I tend to leave most of my background notes out of the story itself, and let the reader just pick up on the way things work. The background notes are important, of course, because it keeps everything consistent. For the most part, this works just fine. I had a friend read my 95,000 WIP when it was done. Of all the pages and pages of background I left out, he was only curious and confused about two pieces of information, out of hundreds. Somewhere around chapter twenty, when the reader was already interested and wanted to know, I included those bits of information, but nothing extra. He didn't want to know about the history of such-and-such, or about this minor character's childhood, or that person's sister...even though I knew all that information. That wasn't essential to the story, wasn't essential to understanding. He didn't want to wade through it to get to the stuff he cared about.
Exposition is a tricky issue, especially in science fiction and fantasy where there's so much to explain. Often the best way is to just show your world in action. If it's culturally unacceptable to sneeze in public, you don't need to state that fact before someone commits the taboo act. Having someone sneeze and having someone yell, "How rude!" is enough. The readers will get it. OSC has a great book -- How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy -- that talks about the problems of exposition in the genre. It's helpful, if you're trying to decide how to get all the information you want the reader to recieve without making the reader chuck your book. Anyway, I hope some part of this has been helpful for you. Best of luck with your WIP.
Thank you very much for your input! There is a drastic difference between us in taste as RA Salvatore's Dark Elf Series is one I consider a must read. I didnt mean to sound argumentative and if I came off that way I seriously apologize.
Posts: 12 | Registered: Aug 2005
I'm not sure I can express this correctly -- mostly because I've got the same problem, and inherited it from reading the same authors who are big on that kind of thing -- but I think I've got to get into the habit of letting my readers discover the neat work woven into the milieu as the story unfolds from my characters' viewpoints.
Right now, I have a nasty habit of running alongside the reader, smacking him in the head every so often with the neat stuff to keep him from missing it. I think a reader will be far more satisfied to find these things out in due course than have them dumped on him up front, or flashed in neon lights at regular intervals.
I know I'm more satisfied when the author respects my intellect enough to let me have a stab at "getting it" from the interaction of the characters with one another and with their environment instead of via some sort of authorial intervention, regardless of how cleverly it's packaged.
I can still read stories done that way, and sometimes I even find some of that stuff fascinating, but it's still weird to turn the page wondering how in hell the hero is going to go on in the face of the horrible calamity that just befell him at the close of Chapter Two, only to find the text of an ancient scroll about some backstory stuff the author wants me wade through instead of letting me get on with what I care most about at that moment, the hero's fate.
Why I tend to wrap the page around a two-by-four and smacking the reader with it repeatedly when I try to write a story rich in these elemtns I have no earthly idea, but I'm working on it.
That may sound like a rant, but it's not meant to be. I just mean that I'm sometimes too close to the story to let go and leave it to the reader. Having someone tell me that I need to do my job and let the reader do his shouldn't be a hurtful thing.
Don't worry, you didn't sound argumentative. We just recently had a case of the argues and have been discussing it at length in Open Discusions. I think Miriel's just trying to avoid that. Good job Miriel.
Anyway, I think she gave you great advice. unfortunatly most people don't want to read exposition.
I had an issue in my novel of starting in the wrong place. I had this character that I used to write about the main character's birth and then I dropped her because in my mind she'd surved her purpose. Well the readers got attached to her and many people commented that they were frustrated when time passed and she wasn't there anymore. I have of course realized since then that it was really stupid and have cut those three chapters. And the story is better for it. I'm glad for the person that finally told me to drop them. It was like they were giving me permission to do something I already had been feeling needed to be done (just didn't have the guts to do it). It was all backstory. The reader doesn't need it. In the end they certainly won't thank you for it. They may even throw your book against the wall like Miriel did. Ouch!
Ok.. seem the prologue in its classic form is a bit of a dead device. I want to write a series based on the adventures of one character ala R.E. Howard's Conan. Let me ask this question which will really get to my need. I am trying to avoid having to retell substories over and over but also trying to avoid no explanation other than "it's magic" or in scifi terms "nanites did it" for elements that recur in every story. How would you suggest that be handled in a way such that the stories do not have to be read in sequence?
I think I am a bit old school too though... as Warbric points out. Until recently I thought bad exposition was just that that broke a stories flow or broke the "third pane". Thanks for your patience - I am learning a lot.
[This message has been edited by webm0nster (edited August 10, 2005).]
I know what your saying. Oh well.. am going to miss the birth rite story but if no one will read it I guess it might as well not be there. That would be a massive flashback Again thanks for all your input.
Posts: 12 | Registered: Aug 2005
Miriel has made so many excellent points in this thread that I think I'm virtually redundant .
However, there are ways to bring in the creation myth if you want to. Just do it differently each time. In Garth Nix's Abhorsen books, he has a rhyme that explains the basic principle on which his world is based. In one book it's repeated by a child, in another a character uses it to calm themselves in a moment of stress. You could easily find various ways to introduce your creation myth into each story, especially if you reduce it to a rhyme or a very short recitation.
One thing to consider is how much of the creation myth and other backstory/worldbuilding stuff is actually essential to the story at hand. If, for example, it's a story about how the dragons kill people and then Our Unlikely Hero gathers up his courage with the usual results, it's maybe enough to know that there's animosity between humans and dragons. I may not need to know the creation myth to enjoy the story.
it is very good for *you* to know all of the backstory/worldbuilding/mythology of your world. But that doesn't mean that all of it needs to be crammed into every story. Just the essential bits.
I want to point one thing out to Miriel and then I am done. The Dark Elf trilogy is one of the best loved by millions of fantasy readers and god only knows how much money those books made TSR. Obviously Mr. Salavatore did something right. His Hunter's Blades trilogy was also an instant best seller. Of the people I know, who give that series five stars, the first book is generally considered the best because it tells the story of the Drow race. That might indicate that you had better read again with an eye towards how Salvatore pleased readers because, no matter your opinion, he obviously did. I myself want to write stories people love just as much as R.A. Salvatore's works.
[This message has been edited by webm0nster (edited August 11, 2005).]
When R.A. Salvator released the Dark Elf Trilogy, he already had a large fan base built up from books like "The Crystal Shard" and whatnot. The Dark Elf trilogy sold well because there was a large group of people waiting for it, who were already curious about Drow society. A new reader picking up the book probably wouldn't care yet. What does it matter to them? They don't care about watching Drizzt's birth, because they don't know who Drizzt is going to become. They have no reason to like, dislike, or even care about him yet. But there was already a group salivating for more information, so it worked just fine. This follows the basic rule-of-thumb for exposition: wait to explain things until the reader cares and wants to know, or absolutely needs to know to understand the story. R.A. Salvatore waited to tell the backstory until his readers were dying to hear it. I don't know how well the books would have done if the Dark Elf Trilogy came out first: reading them first put me off from R.A. Salvatore's work, at least.
For a different example: Imagine if The Silmarillion was released before The Lord of the Rings. I don't think anyone would have ever gotten to The Lord of the Rings. The Silmarillion is only really enjoyable (and readable) if you've already read The Lord of the Rings and really, really care about Middle Earth. The Silmarillion is exciting, not because it's a wonderful stand-alone novel, but because it enhances the content of The Lord of the Rings.
(Note: The Silmarillion never would have been published before The Lord of the Rings, anyway. Tolkien's publishers didn't want to publish it even after The Lord of the Rings was doing very well. It was only after his death that a huge demand for more information on Middle Earth caused Christopher Tolkien to compile The Silmarillion and have it published. No one would have cared about it without The Lord of the Rings coming before...myself included)
There's an interesting thread in the Writer's Workshop Forum called "Trilogies, Septologies, etc etc" that talks about sequels, series, and authors who use their fanbase to sell their next book -- it's worth a look.
As a new author without rabid fans, you'll probably have to follow the conventions of the genre to get published and get fans. After that, authors have more leeway. As Lloyd Alexander wrote, "Popular demand makes a splendid pretext for a writer to do what he always wanted to do in the first place."
I wasn't trying to pick on one of your favorite authors, or your story. It's your story after all: write it how you like. I was just trying to be helpful and point out rule-of-thumb for genre fiction.