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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » Yin and Yang

   
Author Topic: Yin and Yang
Andromoidus
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How do I describe the trials of Shalnar? Very carefully. A warrior who couldn’t be beat, a tactician with no equal, he defended the Earth from the invasion of the Dark Warrior, Dracula, for years.

However, he did have one weakness… once, every thousand years, a Red Moon shines over the skies of the Transylvanian Mountains. During this time, he loses his power. Taking advantage of this, Dracula divided Shalnar into two separate entities: Vulcan, containing all the power of a volcano, with the strength of a tsunami, and the speed of a raging rapids. And Dragosta, a man as dark and sinister as Hades himself, cunning as Odysseus, and resilient as the mighty Hercules.


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Brant Danay
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I really enjoyed this. I like stories which incorporate and/or blend mythologies, and I love descriptive imagery. One minor thing I noticed:

Taking advantage of this, Dracula divided Shalnar into two separate entities: Vulcan, containing all the power of a volcano, with the strength of a tsunami, and the speed of a raging rapids. And Dragosta, a man as dark and sinister as Hades himself, cunning as Odysseus, and resilient as the mighty Hercules.

I think this would work better as one sentence, rather than starting a new sentence with "And Dragosta".

I have a palace named Dracgosta in a series of mine, just like your character Dragosta, except for the letter "C"! I won't sue if you won't

Best regards,

Brant

[This message has been edited by Brant Danay (edited March 12, 2009).]


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Andromoidus
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deal.
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BenM
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(1)How do I describe the trials of Shalnar? Very carefully. A warrior who couldn’t be beat, a tactician with no equal, he defended the (2)Earth from the invasion of the Dark Warrior, Dracula, for (3)years.

However, he did have one weakness… once, every (4)thousand years, a (5)Red Moon shines over the skies of the (6)Transylvanian Mountains. During this time, he loses his power. Taking advantage of this, Dracula divided Shalnar into two separate entities: Vulcan, containing all the power of a volcano, with the strength of a tsunami, and the speed of (7)a raging rapids. And Dragosta, a man as dark and sinister as Hades himself, cunning as Odysseus, and resilient as the mighty Hercules.(8)

(1) I really liked the tone of this opening, it has what I perceive as a great voice and makes me want to keep reading.

(2) I found Earth to clash with what follows somehow. In my mind it is a term used to refer to our world as a planet, one of many. It makes the story seem to start with an extraterrestrial feel to it, yet what follows in this snippet is otherwise distinctly terrestrial. I wonder if a different term, such as our world, would be more appropriate. Of course, if it's not, and we want to keep our reader thinking at an interplanetary scale, then perhaps the term at (6) should change to indicate that the Transylvanian Mountains we refer to are on this planet Earth of which we speak. Otherwise, as a reader, I'm wondering if this Dracula is an interstellar bad guy and there is a Transylvania elsewhere also.

(3) I found the scope of 'years' to clash with the 'thousand years' at (4). Perhaps 'years' should instead be something like eons? ages? This clash once again jolts me out of accepting the reality being created by the story.

(5) Although perhaps romantic imagery, my first thought here is that it's a lunar eclipse and they occur much more often than once every thousand years. Perhaps it's because what has preceded ("Earth" etc) has left me feeling it's probably a contemporary setting, there's nothing to make me think that a 'Red Moon' is actually anything astonishingly special. Perhaps if it was a Red Moon at the Harvest Festival, or something else that with a little research seems like it 'might' be rarer, I won't have my suspension of disbelief interrupted.

(7) I'd drop "a", to leave 'and the speed of raging rapids'

(8) Personally, my thought of the whole excerpt was that it started out well with a clear voice, then moved into a section of exposition and ended - neatly enough to make me not want to read more, with a feeling that I'd just read the story of Shalnar - the guy who was split into two guys or something.

I feel that as a hook this isn't enough to keep me going as a reader, though it may well be enough for certain types of background story. Rather, if Shalnar's apparent demise to Dracula put the world in peril, perhaps that is more important than what exactly it was that Dracula did (which can be covered later).

Finding a compelling opening in any story can often be more difficult than it seems.


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Andromoidus
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what if I were to switch these things around:

1. you find no complaints there, and so nothing needs to be changed. (according to you)

2. the Earth to Our Realm.
this suggests that this realm is only part of multiple realms, but ON THIS EARTH.

3. what of "since the beginning of time" instead of "for years?"
does this imply the right type of thinking, or is it now too long? how will you, (as a reader), react to this?

4. if three is changed as such, is only a thousand years enough? maybe I should change it to "once a millenia"? does that sound right?

5.if it were explained here that the "red moon" occurs when the two "realms" are aligned? or is that borrowing too much from Shakespeare?

maybe I should just explain how later... I was just going for that Star Wars intro feel...

6.of course the Transylvanian Mountains. this is meant to be a different plane of existence, with some connection to our own. in the novel, where does Dracula hail from? Transylvania. this, therefore, is the entrance point of Dracula into our realm.

7.rereading, I would have to agree with you on that one. the "a" seems... clunky. I can think of nothing else to describe it. consider it dropped.

8. the point I was going for was the "bard" feel, a storyteller recounting the Trials of Shalnar. does this come through, or is it too vague? should I get some visuals, maybe of the awed children sitting around the bard, while the glow from the fire lights his eyes, giving him a slightly haunted appearance?

would that work for you (as a reader?)

[This message has been edited by Andromoidus (edited March 12, 2009).]


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BenM
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quote:
maybe I should just explain how later... I was just going for that Star Wars intro feel...

I suspect that Star Wars starts differently for some viewers than others. For one demographic, it starts with the prologue that scrolls vertically following the title. For another, who have quietly ignored the text and just listened to the music, it starts with loud space ships and pew pew lasers. Or perhaps that's the 'real' start/hook, as opposed to the prologue that preceded it.

quote:
8. the point I was going for was the "bard" feel, a storyteller recounting the Trials of Shalnar. does this come through, or is it too vague? should I get some visuals, maybe of the awed children sitting around the bard, while the glow from the fire lights his eyes, giving him a slightly haunted appearance?

I sort of got the "bard" feel, which is why I mentioned it as being appropriate for certain types of background story.

As for what changes I think you should make, I'd only presume to point out obvious mechanical issues - otherwise I think it's your story and I really have no opinion! It is entirely possible though that sitting around the fire, or something that starts us off in the "present" of the story, understanding what is at stake to the characters 'now', would be an alternative starting point to consider and might pique our interest a little more for understanding the background material.


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Bent Tree
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quote:
How do I describe the trials of Shalnar? Very carefully.[[doesn't seem to reflect proper dialect/lingo. Perhaps'quite tactfully,with great care'? This seems 90's suburbia (a common phrase of the period)]] A warrior who couldn’t be beat[[definately beaten, but it seems losing the contraction would strengthen the conviction of the voice.]], a tactician with no equal, he defended the Earth from the invasion of the Dark Warrior, Dracula, for years.
However, he did have one weakness… once, every thousand years, a Red Moon shines over the skies of the Transylvanian Mountains. During this time, he loses his power. Taking advantage of this, Dracula divided Shalnar into two separate entities: Vulcan, containing[[possesing?]] all the power of a volcano, with the strength of a tsunami, and the speed of a raging rapids[[ I am not liking this metaphore. Relatively, rapids aren't that fast.]]. And Dragosta, a man as dark and sinister as Hades himself, cunning as Odysseus, and resilient as the mighty Hercules.


I wasn't that engaged by this. Mainly for two reasons:

1) The voice of the narration didn't seem to fit the period. Due to the Nature of the familiar cast, I cannot help but to place this in the time of the original Dracula. That being said, I expect the dialect to be more reflecting of that period.

I have no idea who the narrator is. Something I usually look for in the intro is a solid introduction to the character. Here we hear him, but do not meet he/she and are given no real sense of their struggle/conflict in relation to the story.

2)The narration is passive and distant. There are no active scenes. To me, this read like a prologue rather than a short story. I would much rather meet a character and see this play out rather than being 'told' a story.

I won't comment on revisiting old story's and using old characters, because I am no authority on the subject. I have seen it done really well before, but I should comment on the nature of the character names I see here as they seem an ecclectic array. 'Dracula, of course, we all are familiar, but then we have Dragosta, which, to me, is unfamiliar, but seems to fit within the story. Then you have 'Odysseus' which, to me, is a greek god, and doesn't seem to fit what I would expect a character in this story to be named.

[This message has been edited by Bent Tree (edited March 12, 2009).]


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Owasm
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I had to reread this a couple of times. Why would Dracula, defeating Sahinar, split him into two superheroes. We know that Vulcan is powerful and Dragosta is evil, crafty and resilient. Why doesn't he just kill the guy and get it over with? We don't know if Vulcan is a good guy or a bad guy. Are we going to get a Transylvanian Batman and Robin? Or do we get General Zod and Superman?

Also with my personal perception, I run into some consistency issues. If this is a prehistory a la Conan, there wouldn't have been Odysseus and Hercules. If it is a future history, all of those comparisons would have been lost... they jerk me back to the present day. Using legendary names for new characters and settings are always a turn-off (Dracula, Vulcan, Transylvania, etc.) That might not be the case with most readers.

Before I committed myself to reading this, I'd probably flip forward a few pages to see what the heck is going on.


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