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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » Evev Tov (Good Night)

   
Author Topic: Evev Tov (Good Night)
History
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When the world was younger and the moon still inspired wonder, there was a lamia so low among the lilin that she had no name. In service to Samael, the demon king, she shepherded all living creatures within the beylik of east Eretna, which crafty Mutaherten once ruled. She loyally performed her duties: collecting the seed from men who lusted in their sleep; snatching the breath from infants swaddled in their cribs; drying up the milk within mothers’ breasts be they of beast or daughter of Eve. She freed each—seed, breath, and milk—from their mortal constraints.
One evening in the waning of the year when the chill winds blew down from the Armenian Highlands and the moon’s Cyclopean eye cast glints from the snows of distant Mt Ararat, the lamia was drawn to the cot of Bilchek the cripple, a tailor of some skill though near blind.

[ March 06, 2013, 02:16 PM: Message edited by: History ]

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Grayson Morris
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It has a parable/fable feel, the style, and it's well done. I trip a little over all the unknown words and names in the first two sentences, but that eases up in later sentences, so I'd be happy to read on. Skill level in this part makes me feel confident the author will be dishing up a very readable, enjoyable, satisfying story.
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Tryndakai
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The only unfamiliar word I *really* stumbled on was "Mutaherten" (the rest I can decipher vaguley through context, like Carroll's Jabberwock, though there are enough in that first line that it might slow things down just a touch, overall)
I'm assuming now that it's an individual's name, but my brain had to do a back flip for a second there, rearranging how I'd thought the sentence was going to turn out.
quote:
She shepherded her sanjak in east Eretna, that crafty Mutaherten once ruled

The "autocomplete" in my mind was turning that sentence into ". . . in East Eretna, that crafty Mutaherten city (where the Mutaherten people liked to live . . .)"

Maybe "which" instead of "that" would prevent such confusion, momentary though it is?

And the last sentence starts to feel just a touch draggy by the time you hit the last comma.

Other than that, the prose is beautiful, and I do feel like I'm being sung into a good yarn in a rich world.


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djvdakota
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I say that a story is like a party and your reader is an unknown guest.

It helps to have someone to take him into the party and introduce him around. That's your nameless Iamia.

But (and here's where things get muddy with this thirteen) if you take him into the party and immediately introduce him to twenty of your friends (characters, situations, settings, ideas, things, objects, etc.--of which I count 9 or 10 in these 13 lines), rattling off their names one after another, he's not likely to remember many--if any--of those names, and he's not likely to care much either, because all he knows is a name.

Ease into the story a bit more, because it otherwise sounds really intriguing.


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History
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Thank you for your comments, everyone. They are appreciated.

In this first year of my return to writing after a 30 year hiatus, I've been experimenting with many different forms of writing (fiction and non-fiction, novel and short story and flash fiction) as well as different styles of writing. This is awfully fun--though I hope not awful to read.

This particular work in progress is derived from my love of the great fantasy masters of a century ago: Lord Dunsany, Clark Ashton Smith, H.P. Lovecraft and J.R.R. Tolkien. The fable/fairy stories for which they gained fame opened my inner eye to the wonders of the lands of the World's Edge, over the hills and far away and beyond the fields we know.

These authors in particular had the gift of poetic prose and the unmatched ability to coin names that evoked awe, of far off lands and gilded cities, and their exotic denizens, from sapphire-robed kings to sly beggar children.

How I longed to learn more of Eldamar, and of Beren and Luthien, when I first sat by the campfire in the lee of Amon Sul with the hobbits and Strider, listening to the Ranger spin the ancient Lay; or visit the dark narrow-aisled musty bookstore on Go-By Street and dream of spending idle days asail upon the broad river Yann; or spying upon the necromancers Mmatmuor and Sodosma as they called up the long-dead Cincorian emperors Illeiro and Hestaiyon in the deserted city of Yethlyreom under the dying red sun of Earth's last continent of Zothique.

You can get most of Lord Dunsany's works for free on Amazon Kindle, and there find the collected works of Clark Ashton Smith for only $0.99 (though Nightshade Books just published a beautiful 5 volume hardcover collection).

These sorts of stories are not everyone's preferred opiate. I understand this. But they addicted me as a child, and I still have flashbacks. For my purposes, and again drawing upon Jewish mysticism, folklore, philosophy, and (per my username) history, I wish to create (possibly I'm recreating) fables of the Old Countries to instill the same sense of wonder for the world's edge and times forgotten. However, I've chosen to use creatures and places that are not of my own invention, but are truly historical and/or part of an established mythos.

In these 1st 13 lines of EREV TOV, some names should be readily recognizeable to even those with scant historical and mythical knowledge (Mt. Ararat, Armenia, Eve), and the remainder can be readily discovered and defined by a mere Google search (lamia, lilin, sanjak, Eretna, that crafty Mutaherten, Samael)--though it is not necessary to do so to enjoy the tale.

I doubt there is a market for this sort of story anymore, but I can only write what my muse permits. Don't you?

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob

[This message has been edited by History (edited February 25, 2011).]


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Wordcaster
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The first 13 brings me into a fantasy/fable being told around a campfire by an elder, and with irony reveals a lamia as the protagonist. The writing is strong and fits the story you are telling. It seems a bit out of focus; however, and could be stronger if it dealt with one specific situation. The first paragraph tells about the lamia, but then the second introduces us to a (perhaps) completely unassociated character.

Here are my crits (not yet reading the others):

I had to look up sanjak, which I was surprised to find out it wasn't an animal or group of people, but a military district. Is "shepherded" the right verb? I've been to Turkey before and have never heard of sanjak, and "shepherding" brings up the wrong connotation for the word.

quote:
She shepherded her sanjak in east Eretna, that crafty Mutaherten once ruled, loyally performing her duties

Should it read, "She shepherded her sanjak in east Eretna, once ruled by that crafty Mutaherten, loyally performing her duties..."? It removes the ambiguity of who is loyally performing her duties.

quote:
She freed each from their constraints.
This line confused me -- are seed, breath and milk (or the activities associated with them) constraints? Do you mean burdens? I'm not sure what this means.

Furthermore, this is a lot of names. If Balaykhtn is known as Bilchik the cripple, we probably don't need to know his given/birth name, at least not yet.

Crits aside, you have something interesting here... Probably longer than a short story based on all of the characters and geography you are introducing. Good luck with this piece!


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djvdakota
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quote:
In these 1st 13 lines of EREV TOV, some names should be readily recognizeable to even those with scant historical and mythical knowledge (Mt. Ararat, Armenia, Eve), and the remainder can be readily discovered and defined by a mere Google search (lamia, lilin, sanjak, Eretna, that crafty Mutaherten, Samael)--though it is not necessary to do so to enjoy the tale.

I understand that, and I'm familiar with at least half of these names and places, but not within the context of YOUR story. Mentioning Mt. Ararat does not sweep me into the party. The building may be the same, I may even recognize some of the faces of celebrities in the crowd, but that doesn't mean I'm going to walk up to them and start holding a deep and engaging conversation with them. Just because they're known generally doesn't mean they're known to me (certainly doesn't mean I can count them as a friend), nor known within the context of what's happening at your particular party.

The time, the theme of the party, those who are in attendance, what events are taking place and why all should be presented to your reader in a way that will bring them in and show them around so they will feel welcome and want to stay.

And for what it's worth, IMO we could use a bit more of the influence of the old masters. For all their dated style (because that's really all we're talking about here), they knew how to put a sentence together and how to weave a story.


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Josephine Kait
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As for market, Tolkien still sells a lot of books. If you can produce something approaching his quality (and based on what I’ve read on this site, I think you can) then I think it will sell. Whether a publisher will go for it or not is another story entirely, but then publishers were skeptical of Tolkien at first too.

I love both Tolkien and this type of story. I know lots of the old legends, but many of these terms are unfamiliar to me. While you are correct and I can look them up, if I feel the need to do so in the first thirteen you’ve probably lost me. You said that it would not be necessary to understand the story, but so many in the first 13 make it a little thick, which is a shame because your prose flows so beautifully otherwise.

Here is a peek inside my head as a reader, enter at your own peril. Here is how I experienced these 13 lines:

quote:
When the world was a bit younger and the moon still inspired wonder,…
I really love this line, so I’m already hooked when I get to the next bit.
quote:
…there was a lamia who was so low among the lilin that she had no name. She shepherded her sanjak in east Eretna,…
Now because I am hooked I am committed to learning what four new words mean but at least I have the gist of it because of how they are used. Then there is this.
quote:
…that crafty Mutaherten once ruled, loyally performing her duties:…
I am both slightly confused and assaulted by one more name that I don’t know. And then I’m asking whose duties? I go back to reread to see what I missed. I experience once more that marvelous first line so when I stumble a bit for the second time I just blow past it hoping that it will be clearer in the lines below.(I also think that trading “that” for “which” would help, but I advocate losing “that crafty Mutaherten once ruled " entirely.)
quote:
…collecting the seed from dreaming men for the armies of Samael, snatching the breath from infants coddled in their cribs, and drying up the milk from mothers' breasts, be it of beast or daughter of Eve.
The list of her duties helps clear up whose duties we’re talking about, and the voice is so lovely that it took me a minute to get just how horrific these tasks of hers really are. I’m okay with that, it is nice juxtaposition. In fact, it helps me be okay with a POV character that is… a kind of monster? I would however go with “collecting spilled seed…”
quote:
She freed each from their constraints.
I have no idea what you really mean by this but I read it as a lovely way of saying “she performed each task.” Perhaps I’m just dim, but… wait a minute… I might not be the only reader feeling dim at this point. I still have enough steam to keep reading but it’s bleeding off, not increasing.
quote:
One evening in the waning of the year when the chill winds blew down from the Armenian Highlands…
This is refreshing. I like this line.
quote:
…and the moon’s blind Cyclopean eye cast glints from the snows of distant Mt Ararat,…
I stumble just a bit on “Cyclopean.” I definitely know what it means, but it is redundant description. I would also go with “unseeing” rather than “blind” because something being blind is an aberration.
quote:
…the lamia was drawn to the cot of Balaykhtn, known as Bilchik the cripple, a tailor of some skill, despite being half-blind.
I don’t like having two more unfamiliar names just yet although I would continue reading if there was more to read. I recommend trading “…of Balaykhtn, known as…” for “…of a man known as…” The name Balaykhtn can be introduced later if it is really needed, but I don’t like it here for the following reasons: it is unpronounceable to me, it shares so many letters in common with the other name that my eyes bounce back and forth trying to pick out the differences rather than continuing to read, and does our lamia really care what her victims names are, to name him twice?

Okay, maybe I picked it clean to the bone. If so, I apologize. It is possible that my frustration with my day is bleeding through here, though I do often read to assuage just such frustration. So take it for what it’s worth.

Over all, I like it, as I find that I usually do with the things you write.


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History
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Good Shabbos!
Thank you all for your fine comments.

Though I fear the magic may be destroyed by the objective deconstruction and annotation, I offer the following:

A lamia is a succubus, a female demon who has sex with sleeping men (a folklore explanation for nocturnal emissions).

The lilin are lamia who were born of Lilith, the first succubus who cohabited with Adam.

A sanjak was an administrative district of the old Ottoman Empire. The sanjak of Eretna was located in Anatolia, what is now eastern Turkey. It included the territory (beylik) once ruled by Mutaherten(d. 1402) who was surrounded by more powerful neighbors and only maintained his independence by his wits and through intrigue.

Samael in Jewish folklore is the lord of the evil/mischievous/tempting spirits; and Lilith's mate. He is sometimes equated with Satan. The offspring of copulation between men and lilin are demons who serve him.

By causing the emission of semen from men, drawing breath from children, and milk from breasts, the lamia of this fable is freeing these things from the vessels in which they are contained. One way, perhaps her way, to view her occupation.
She is responsible to Lilith and Samael to perform her duties upon the men, women, and creatures living within her sanjak. Thus, she is a shepherd and they her (unwilling) flock.

This least of the lilin will have her life (just described) forever altered by Bilchik, the near-blind crippled tailor. And his life will be irrevocably changed as well. It is he who first names her Erev Tov (Hebrew: Good Night).

This fable is, in large part, a love story (albeit a strange one)
and is about binding and freedom.

By the comments provided, I have a lot more work to do, and the story is only half done. I suspect I should have waited before posting these 1st 13, but I was curious on how such a tale would be received.

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob

P.S. Have any of you read Gene Wolfe's tetralogy THE BOOK OF THE NEW SUN? The vocabulary in this work left me in awe--and running to the OED [Oxford English Dictionary] every other page. Finally they published a 440 page lexicon!-- (LEXICON URTHUS] just to provide a ready resource for readers of this great series. My little fable is bupkis in comparison.

[This message has been edited by History (edited February 25, 2011).]


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Grayson Morris
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I think the confusion over the Mutaherten phrase is solved by changing "that" to "which" (which is also the recommendation by Chicago for nonrestrictive appositive phrases -- that is, phrases which further define something without being required for understanding). As is, people seem to be reading "that" as in "oh, that crafty Mutaherten!" rather than "the city that Mutaherten ruled."

[This message has been edited by Grayson Morris (edited February 26, 2011).]


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Wordcaster
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also, when you say, "she freed each from their constraints," we don't know if each refers to seed, breath and milk -- or -- dreamers, infants and mothers. I assumed you were referring to freeing the people and was confused. Can this be made clearer?

No problems with the unknown terms, I just think it requires a little extra attention to place it in context for those who do not have the oed volumes hogging up our nightstands.


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History
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Rewrite:
quote:
When the world was a bit younger and the moon still inspired wonder, there was a lamia who was so low among the lilin that she had no name. She shepherded all living creatures within the sanjak of east Eretna, which crafty Mutaherten once ruled. In service to Samael, the demon king, she loyally performed her duties: collecting the seed from dreaming men, snatching the breath from infants swaddled in their cribs, and drying up the milk within mothers' breasts, be it of beast or daughter of Eve. She freed each, seed, breath, and milk, from their constraints.

One evening in the waning of the year when the chill winds blew down from the Armenian Highlands and the moon’s Cyclopean eye cast glints from the snows of distant Mt Ararat, the lamia was drawn to the cot of Bilchik the cripple, a tailor of some skill despite his being half-blind.

Original:

quote:
When the world was a bit younger and the moon still inspired wonder, there was a lamia who was so low among the lilin that she had no name. She shepherded her sanjak in east Eretna, that crafty Mutaherten once ruled, loyally performing her duties: collecting the seed from dreaming men for the armies of Samael, snatching the breath from infants coddled in their cribs, and drying up the milk from mothers' breasts, be it of beast or daughter of Eve. She freed each from their constraints.

One evening in the waning of the year when the chill winds blew down from the Armenian Highlands and the moon’s blind Cyclopean eye cast glints from the snows of distant Mt Ararat, the lamia was drawn to the cot of Balaykhtn, known as Bilchik the cripple, a tailor of some skill, despite being half-blind.


[This message has been edited by History (edited February 26, 2011).]


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Tryndakai
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Much better.

I'm not sure how/where, but it seems the magically musical flow of your prose seems to have been a tiny bit broken by these changes . . . but it's much easier to understand and picture, and the ambiguity is gone, so it's better. I might nix the word "living" (all living creatures)--for no other reason than it seems to scan better, rhythmically. . . . That is *so* just my opinion, though.

One grammatical comment: between each of the list items (collecting seed, etc.), you ought to use semi-colons, because the last item has within it a comma (breasts, be it).

If I were reading this now for the first time, I think I'd just be blown away. As it is, I can find even those two nit-picks only because I've read and re-read the lines so many times, analyzing them perhaps to death.

Much props.


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Wordcaster
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Dr. Bob,

You have definitely addressed people's comments and I think you are clearly a strong enough writer to use your own judgment on what is best for the story.

The revised version is much clearer and an improved reading experience. The "freed from constraints" sentence is clearer, but reads a little forced and awkward in the revised version (can you cut the sentence all together?).

I think you may need to weigh clarity vs flow for a couple of these edits.

Good luck on your story. It sounds interesting.


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History
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Thank you kindly for the critique, Wordcaster.
Seems the revised version it is, then.

"Freeing from constraints" (or choosing constraints) is a major theme of the story.
I believe the former is what true love does.
The choice is ours.

How my characters will discover this will provide for some twists that I am still contemplating--and learning for myself.

Thus, while I cannot, as yet, eliminate the sentence, I am open to suggestions for its improvement.

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob

[This message has been edited by History (edited February 27, 2011).]


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History
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I write slow and revise a lot.
I had to dig back in this thread to find this post for a story I began in FEB '11 and completed NOV-DEC '11.

It bounced back from WOTF today (RIP KD Wentworth). I expected this, because of its length (10K), its genre (fable), and its adult elements but it is still disappointing.

Well-deserved WOTF 2012 winner Nick Tchan (congratulations! you wowed them on the podium, Nick!) said "I like this very much" and a published novelist and F&SF magazine contributor with whom I correspond commented, "The style of Erev Tov is excellent. If Writers of the Future don't accept it, send this story to someplace like the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Feel free to mention that I recommended you do so...". Thus I don't believe the story absolutely sucks.

Erev Tov is an adult fantasy in the style of a Jewish fable concerning a crippled tailor, his demon bride, and his village in 15th century Turkey. The predominant theme is love, though as Matt Leo (a Hatracker whose insights as I writer I greatly respect, though with whom I do not always agree [Wink] ) noted there is much more--possibly too much more--in this story:

"Erev Tov has a proliferation of themes -- something that's not often found in folk tales, which tend to drive home a single point. There is the necessity of humility to happiness (Bilchik); the transformative power of love (Erev); the self-destructive power of lashon hara* (the matrons); the co-option of Holocaust imagery for wicked purposes (Parosh & Melis); and anxiety over exogamy (Melis). The number of points you're making here are more characteristic of a novel than a short story, especially a fairy tale."

* lashon hara = the wicked tongue, i.e. gossip (Hebrew)--Dr. Bob

I believe Matt's criticism is, per usual, spot-on. I "novelize" my shorter works, having more characters and thematic layers than short story purists find permissible. However, I'm not convinced (yet) that this is so terrible. I don't like opening cereal boxes and finding the contents have settled leaving the top third empty but having the appropriate amount for the weight noted; I expect the box to be filled to the brim. [Wink] And so are my stories.

I also fear I may be too obtuse or (here's that hated term:) "literary" as I do not explain every single thing in my stories, trusting both in the intelligence of the reader and the desire for wonder. My stories strive to reflect the perception of reality of the Kabbalists and Hebrew philosophers I admire and have studied who perceive reality/Creation as an onion, discovering ever new insights as they peel back one layer after another.

At the same time, first and foremost, there is simply a story for enjoyment.

With my WOTF rejection burining within my Inbox, Erev Tov is now free to wing to the few markets that consider stories of this length (before finding endless repose on my shelf of unpublished tales). If anyone wishes to read the story and offer their impression, their input will be welcome.

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob

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sjsampson
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You can send it my way. I'll take a look at it.
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History
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Good Shabbos.
Thank you. On its way,

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Merlion-Emrys
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Well, you know my thoughts on the story as a whole but I just wanted to chime in and say, I too feel that what you call "novelizing" short stories is not always...in fact may only rarely be...a bad thing. I think the idea that a short story must (or should, or usually does or however you want to word it) focus on a single idea or theme is overemphasized. Certainly there are many great shorts of which that is true, but the thing is also, the world is a very interconnected place. Themes and ideas don't exist in a vacuum nor even always entirely independently so I think especially with some themes, exploring one is almost inevitably going to lead to exploring some others.
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History
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Thanks, M-E.
Your critique and three disscovered prooftext errors* are greatly appreciated.

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob

*P.S. You ever notice that despite how many times one proofreads, there are always a few mistakes one misses? This is what is important about having someone other than oneself proofread one's stories (and what makes Hatrack a blessing).

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babooher
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I would love to see what this "novelized" short story is. Would you send it to me?

[ April 21, 2012, 09:35 PM: Message edited by: babooher ]

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History
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Sure, babooher.

I believe those who have used the term regarding my work did not mean it as a compliment, but as a criticism.

A short story should not have too many characters, too many viewpoints, too many themes, too much plot, too slow a pace, etc.

Then again, at 10K words, it is a novelette. [Wink]

See what you think. Thank you.

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob

[ April 21, 2012, 11:29 PM: Message edited by: History ]

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Eliza C
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I see you have a number of replies already. I haven't read the comments yet as I prefer not to before I critique, so forgive me if I repeat anything.
I really like this opening. It had a great fable-like tone to it and some nice wording.
Consider "when the world was younger" at the start. I don't know that you need the qualifier 'a bit' younger. The second sentence slowed the pacing for me with so many unfamiliar words in a row: She shepherded her SANJAK in east ERETNA, that crafty MUTAHERTEN once ruled. Though the rest of the sentence is long, I think it worked fine.
"She freed each from their constraints" is vague. I'm ok with waiting if it gets explained soon, but don't understand it in this context.
Small nit-pick: "the lamia was drawn to the cot of Balaykhtn" Since you just spoke of her taking the breath of babes in their cribs, I thought cot meant a crib (could just be me) - cottage would have cleared that up.
Nicely done, though. I liked the feel of this and would have read on.
Hope something here is helpful. Good luck with this.

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History
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Thank you Eliza. I have been remiss in not including the final version of the opening after all the helpful suggestions, including those similar to your own. This is the version that is now (post-WOTF)going to market:

When the world was younger and the moon still inspired wonder, there was a lamia so low among the lilin that she had no name. In service to Samael, the demon king, she shepherded all living creatures within the beylik of east Eretna, which crafty Mutaherten once ruled. She loyally performed her duties: collecting the seed from men who dreamed and lusted in their sleep; snatching the breath from infants swaddled in their cribs; drying up the milk within mothers’ breasts be they of beast or daughter of Eve. She freed each—seed, breath, and milk—from their mortal constraints.

One evening in the waning of the year when the chill winds blew down from the Armenian Highlands and the moon’s Cyclopean eye cast glints from the snows of distant Mt Ararat, the lamia was


It is an adult fable/fairy tale and thus a bit off-beat for most markets, though well-received by those who have read it (save WOTF, I guess). We shall see what happens. Thank you again for caring enough to offer a critique.

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob

[ May 03, 2012, 11:30 PM: Message edited by: Kathleen Dalton Woodbury ]

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Eliza C
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Good job on the revision, much improved! My only comments on the new version would be that you could cut "dreamed and" from "men who dreamed and lusted in their sleep," consider cutting or moving "and the moon’s Cyclopean eye cast glints from the snows of distant Mt Ararat" as it makes for quite a mouthful of a sentence, and I stand by my unease of the word "cot" instead of cottage or sleeping mat or whatever you mean there. Sounds like a great story. I love adult fairy tale stories and hope to read it somewhere when it's published :-)
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easterabbit
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I like the revision. I had problems with the original--too many unknown terms/names.

The writing has a nice feel to it. Well done.

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History
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Decided I'd conclude my recent experience here with "Best Rejection" ( http://www.hatrack.com/cgi-bin/ubbwriters/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=1;t=007436;p=0&r=nfx )

An editor of a pro-paying magazine rejected this story with the very encouraging words: "I enjoyed this. ... This is a marvelous tale. It needs an audience, and I am pretty sure (my Publication) is not the proper place for it. Let me check with my contacts in the industry and see if I can't scare up a more fitting venue."

This is my first experience of having an editor who has not published one of my tales going to bat for me as a writer. Emotionally, I find this a strange brew of both delight and disappointment--very Jewish. [Wink]

This is what she wrote to her contact:

"The most amazing piece of Jewish Folklore Fantasy came across my desk in (my publication's) slush pile. I am fairly certain we are not the right market for it, but it is worth being seen by a larger audience and I simply don't know where it could be sent. Do you have any suggestions? It involves a poor, ugly and nearly blind (but loving) mortal who weds a daughter of Lilith, now a demon; I suspect the demon might cause this to not go over well with the more orthodox folklore markets. Another handicap is that "Erev Tov" ... is a shade over 10K words."

The last sentence is worth noting, especially as nearly all my stories are longer than 10K words, confirming my experience the past two years that in a challenging market for short stories, longer lengths are at an even greater disadvantage.

As an aside, while Erev Tov has Jewish characters and folkore elements, I do not consider the story "Jewish." I similarly do not regard Charles Dickens' A Christmas Story as merely "Christian," so perhaps it is just me.

Her "contact in the industry" is an author whose name I recognized, and whose works I've enjoyed and are in my library. Her reply was "sounds like a terrific story!" but she had only the following suggestions:

1) Would (the editor) split the story between two issues? (The answer was, not unexpectantly, "no", btw).

2) Perhaps jewishfiction.net...but their word limit is 6000 words.

3) "GigaNOTOsaurus is a good market for over 10k that is getting award nominations."

The last is a useful suggestion worth considering. Other suggestions welcome.

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob

P.S. This story earned a form rejection from WOTF and a personal rejection from F&SF.

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redux
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Dr. Bob:

Have you considered submitting to literary magazines such as Tin House? They allow simultaneous submissions, but I believe the typical word limit is 10k and your story is a shade over. Are you able to edit down to 10k without compromising the story? (A useful book on editing is Ken Rand's The 10% Solution)

Having only read the opening lines, I get glimpses of the wonderful story to follow and I hope you can find a home for it.


Sincerely,

redux

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Twiggy
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the voice of this story came across as a refreshing change. It might introduce too much too soon for my tastes. I think I would like a simpler start, so I can get a hold of the story.

I don't usually read this style, but I might well read on with this because it is well done.

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legolasgalactica
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If it's not already published, I'd love to give it a read.
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History
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Sure,legolas.

The story that nearly everyone likes "but we are not quite the right market".

Its near the end of making the rounds of pro-paying sf/f and a couple literary markets, and approaching the time to be put aside...until "the right" market emerges someday.

Respecfully,
Dr. Bob

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InarticulateBabbler
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Dr. Bob,

Here's my take, for what it's worth:

quote:


When the world was a bit younger and the moon still inspired wonder, there was a lamia who was so low among the lilin that she had no name. She shepherded all living creatures within the sanjak of east Eretna, [which crafty Mutaherten once ruled<--In just this glance, I do not know if this is a being/group of beings]. In service to Samael, the demon king, she loyally performed her duties: collecting the seed from dreaming men, snatching the breath from infants swaddled in their cribs, and drying up the milk within mothers' breasts, be it of beast or daughter of Eve. [She freed each, seed, breath, and milk, from their constraints.<--To me, this feels redundant. I wonder if her feelings of "freeing" them could be intertwined with the previous sentence]

One evening in the waning of the year when the chill winds blew down from the Armenian Highlands and [the moon’s Cyclopean eye<--Could have been taken directly from Lovecraft or Howard. [Big Grin] ] cast glints [from<--From or On? Seems wierd.] the snows of distant Mt Ararat, the lamia was drawn to the cot of Bilchik the cripple, a tailor of some skill despite his being half-blind.

You have definitely achieved the early pulp feel with this. I think many of the critiques reflect this. As I understand it, Weird Tales Magazine is soon to reopen for submission. I would suggest you try there when it is available. After all, this is based on the type of style they have bought.

PS - If you want to shoot me an email, I'll give it a read (but only if you are really looking to do something with it).

PSS - I may be moving back to your neighborhood soon.

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History
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Hi IB,

This particular tale I consider finished.
(Not something I often say on re-reading many of my stories where my obsessive-compulsiveness leads me to tweak and prune a word here, a phrase there--like grooming a bonsai tree).
But I am happy with this one.

At 10K, it is too long a story for Weird Tales. Their story word count in the past was 5K or less. Thank you for the update, however.

I'm open to other submission suggestions.

If you still have interest in reading it, I'll send it to you.

f you do return to my part of the Pine Tree State, please say "hi". You can tell me about your just completed >200K epic.

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob

[ July 20, 2013, 09:18 AM: Message edited by: History ]

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Reziac
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Wandering in late to the party, but I like the original version best. It flows so nicely into my mind.
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extrinsic
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History, I wonder if you would consider an outside editor to do a developmental edit of "Evev Tov"? The way it would work in my estimation is an intensive copyedit that is like how traditional serial publishers copyedited for length, content, organization, clarity, and appeal. Few writers appreciated the degree of excision and recasting that serial publishers did as a matter of course back before the mid-twentieth century. However, it got writers exposed to a reading audience. Then when the writer had enough marketplace appeal, original, unedited versions were collected into a book and published as a collection.

Also, one way to work with longer short fiction pieces is to tie them together with frame stories or into picaresques that comprise an entire book or novel. I can see "Evev Tov" as part of a frame story if a narrator-protagonist recounts the episodic embedded narratives. As a picaresque, though, a singular roguish protagonist/focal character in every episode is a convention of the form.

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History
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Hi, extrinsic.

I don't know.
This particular tale has reached the desks of Chief editors, including Mr. van Gelder of F&SF. The primary reasons given for rejection were not for a particular noted flaw in the story as much as for taste (or perhaps style)--e.g. "(my magazine is) not the right place for it", or for length, or for magazine needs--e.g. "full-up on fantasy."

Although I suspect if it really was a spectacular tale, they would have made an exception (or perhaps not).

Anyway, I would consider making changes if an editor liked the tale well enough to suggest them and otherwise felt it would be right for their publication (i.e. they'd publish it). Otherwise, probably not. I don't think I'd pay for a developmental editor. Nor would I wish to have two versions of the story in print (I'm not a fan of this with movies either)--and it is too short to publish as a serial and too singular of plot to attempt to publish an excerpt as a self-contained tale.

I do use a minimal "frame" device in this story. And, yes, I did so thinking I may one day share (write) additional faux-folkloric tales from the Sefer Yehudi min ha-Galut, but while they may possibly tell of the fates of rogues and others, a rogue would be inappropriate for a framing narrator.

I very much appreciate your suggestion, and perhaps one day I'll be more inclined to consider paying for it. I suspect this particular tale will see publication someday--though I'd prefer not posthumously. [Wink]

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob

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extrinsic
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I think you get the gist of my suggestions but I'm not sure.

Before getting into that. I've noted that a house's creative slant is often a deciding factor. "Does this fit our slant?" Van Gelder is both attracted by and repulsed by more than average artful literary devices. The more accessible ones that don't challenge his perception of the magazine audience's capacity to access them might easily pass; ones that don't, he may appreciate but he's the gatekeeper for the audience's sentiments and sensibilities. I believe he doesn't want to alienate the subscribers he has with challenging methods and intents and meanings, yet wishes he could raise their consciousnesses. Cognitive dissonance alert.

Similarly, personal rejections are in my experience a way of saying the screening reader enjoyed the narrative but felt it was not for the house's subscriber audience. Tel est la vie d'escritur.

Anyway, a frame story does not have to have a roguish protagonist-narrator. Only one persona, at least, and not necessarily roguish, needs to be the storyteller of the framing story reporting the embedded narratives to an audience, present or not. If no audience is present, then the form is also an apostrophe. The narrator doesn't even have to be the framing story's protagonist. Nor does the narrator need to do much more than report the action. For a frame story, that might be a narrator reporting the "specimen" persona's actions and setting, etc., that narrates the embedded narratives.

A picaresque, though, does need a to-a-degree roguish protagonist. How much roguery is a matter of the protagonist's culture group's or audience's social or moral values. Tobacco smoking, for example, might be taboo and, therefore, roguish behavior. One inappropriate behavior might not signal enough roguery though. In Hebrew culture, "as you know, Bob," lapsed dietary strictures may be considered roguish. It doesn't take much to be roguish enough to be picaresque.

A picaresque also doesn't necessarily need to be a frame story. Framing stories just happen to be one literary device for wrapping picaresque episodes into a cohesive whole. The rogue might or might not be the narrator. The rogue might or might not be the protagonist, though the rogue's centrality or influence, implied or direct, to every episode is a convention of the form. The rogue might or might not be a hero or antihero, nemisis or villain, even might be an antagonist coercing the protagonist into roguish scenarios.

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History
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I don't know Mr. van Gelder well enough to speak for him. I have but the one personalized rejection letter, the friendship and support of one of the authors he does publish, and many issues of the magazine itself under his helmsmanship to guide me. If WOTF decides not to include my WOTF Q1 finalist tale in the WOTF 30 anthology, I will submit it to F&SF for his consideration because it may better fit the "needs" he described to me in his rejection of Erev Tov. Still, the odds of acceptance are low; but like the lottery, "you can't win if you don't play."

My experience is that there are many derivations of the "frame story", from that of Chaucer's fellow pilgrim narrator of The Canterbury Tales to pre- and/or post-story faux commentary insertions such as in Frank Herbert's Dune and all manner in between, such as Martin Buber's Tales of the Hassidim where the common element is the shared religious ethnic community of the early Hassidic communities. I believe if I ever write any additional stories in the style of Erev Tov, I will likely tend toward the latter. As I have none planned at present (since the first sold so well [Wink] ), the decision is currently moot.

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob

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extrinsic
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I read and follow van Gelder's public commentary. He's been more active commenting in the past than recently. I track publishers' public commentary as a means to puzzle out their creative slants. That and, of course, reading their publications and other marketplace indicators. What does The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction want from writers? Prior publication and demonstrated revenue performance. From priorly unpublished writers? Buzz-worthy narratives.

Creatively, they like narratives that resemble the traditional European Romanticism narratives of the post-renaissance era: hero's journey, mighty and wicked nemeses and villains, poetic justice, love interest, fantastical motifs that are intrinsic to the plot, some character emphasis, perhaps some milieu, idea, and event emphasis as well, but mostly plot emphasis. Fresh, imaginative motifs reinvented and reimagined from real world circumstances relevant to present-day readers are favored, but the connections are best implied rather than direct. Like "Kremlins" are dome-headed bugs in the all-machine. As well as strong, clear, appealing emotional-attitude voices. Accessible irony is also strongly favored.

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