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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Books » 1st 13 - Fantasy - (2,000 words so far)

   
Author Topic: 1st 13 - Fantasy - (2,000 words so far)
alliedfive
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I posted my previous attempts at this story awhile back. Taking all your suggestions to heart, I sat down this week at wrote a complete high-level outline of this story, as well as about 2,000 words of first draft. My feeling is that its pretty boring for a battle scene, and I'm not sure how I can improve the tension. Anyone want to volunteer to read the first 2,000?

1st 13 (Version 2):

Gray death was staining the green land to the north. Ilijah, son of Hamah, squinted at the advancing enemy, and tried to control his breathing.
“You alright?” asked Sergeant Grip.
“I’m fine, just cold,” said Ilijah, lying. He shivered as he thought of Marsa, his wife, and the lies he would tell her if he survived the day. She believed him a brave, honorable man, and with each battle, Ilijah feared she was wrong.
“Keep moving, helps with the cold,” said Gripp.
He stood with the other officers amidst the broken teeth of an ancient fortress. The jumble of half-buried stones was called the Sky Fort, despite standing less than twenty paces above the surrounding terrain, atop a grass-covered hill.

[This message has been edited by alliedfive (edited March 08, 2008).]


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rickfisher
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My main suggestion for the opening is to make it a scene, not a narration. (What some people mean when they say "show vs. tell", but I have a number of problems with that phraseology.) The point is, everything is described from outside. Oh, I can tell the POV--but everything is abbreviated.

He's with other officers. They need to be talking. I don't like dialogue to be the first sentence, generally, but if he's not actively doing something, then getting some conversation into the first paragraph could help. The things you've narrated can be slipped in between the lines of dialogue.

If the only dialogue you can come up with isn't meaningful to the novel, and there's nothing for Ilijah to do right now that will grab our interest, then you're starting in the wrong place.


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alliedfive
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Cool, I agree with you. I revised it. Any better? I'm not sure how to make waiting exciting, the waiting doesn't last all that long, but I like your "scene vs narration" advice, I do that often (narrate).
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LCastle
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my .02:

"blue eyes" unnecessary, and POV violation.

"and the lies he would tell her if he survived the day." nice, I like that.

"He stood with the other officers amidst the broken stone teeth of an ancient fortress. The jumble of half-buried stones was called the Sky Fort, despite standing less than twenty paces above the surrounding terrain, atop a grass-covered hill." Two mentions of "stone" in two sentences. I think you can combine the two. Also the clause beginning with "despite" is misplaced, I think. And if you're referring to height, "paces" is probably the wrong unit of measure, as that implies horizontal measure. And my pace is three feet, so something 60 feet high is pretty tall. Totally deserving to be called a fort.


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alliedfive
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Ahh, you are right about the POV violation, thanks. As far as the 'despite' thing, my point was supposed to be that it was called the SKY fort, despite only being 60 feet tall. I guess that is pretty tall, just not "Sky" worthy in my opinion. Anyone know some medieval sounding height measurements?
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rickfisher
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It's a good idea NOT to delete your original version when you revise; nobody can tell what the subsequent posts refer to anymore. It's probably best just to edit the first post to SAY you've edited it down below, and then post the edited version as a new post.
quote:
Gray death was staining the green land to the north.I was able to figure out what this metaphorical description meant, but not without stopping to think. In other words, instead of being illuminating (as a metaphor ought), it was obfuscating. Ilijah, son of Hamah, squinted at the advancing enemy, and tried to control his breathing.
“You alright-->all right?” asked Sergeant Grip.
“I’m fine, just cold,” [said Ilijah, lying]-->lied Ilijah. He shivered as he thought of Marsa, his wife, and the lies second mention of lies/lying in two lines he would tell her if he survived the day. She believed him a brave, honorable man, and with each battle, Ilijah feared-->grew more certain she was wrong.
“Keep moving, helps with the cold,” said Gripp.
He stood with the other officers amidst the broken teeth of an ancient fortress. Sounds a bit like they're just standing around, doing nothing. They should be observing, commenting, planning . . . something. The jumble of half-buried stones was called the Sky Fort, despite standing less than twenty paces You could use cubits (about 18 inches) above the surrounding terrain, atop a grass-covered hill.


Yes, this is better. You could probably up the tension by concentrating on his fear, and (perhaps) on his absolute terror of having that fear discovered. In other words, make the hiding of his fear a high-stakes event. But at least paint everything else in terms of the fear itself. Don't let us forget about it while we're learning about the Sky Fort.

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alliedfive
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rickfisher, helpful as always. Thanks. Here is the latest version:


Soldiers, like a wave of gray death, were staining the green land to the north. Ilijah, son of Hamah, squinted at the advancing enemy, and tried to control his breathing.
“You all right?” asked Sergeant Gripp.
“I’m fine, just cold,” said Ilijah. He was not fine. He thought again of Marsa, his wife, and the lies he would tell her if he survived the day. She believed him a brave, honorable man, and with each battle, Ilijah grew more certain she was wrong.
“Keep moving, helps with the cold,” said Gripp, turning to look again at the dark line of Han’rah warriors marching towards them. “They will face us here, hill or no. They would not risk us at their backs," he said. "I do not understand this, they gain nothing here.” He spat and stomped back towards the broken stone teeth of the ancient fortress.


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LCastle
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Better.

Soldiers, like a wave of gray death, were staining the green land to the north. this sentence is awkward, and not just because of the "was -ing" construct. I'd turn it around and put the simile at the end (i.e., "Soldiers stained the green land to the north like a wave of gray death." Or something like that) Ilijah, son of Hamah, squinted at the advancing enemy,remove comma and tried to control his breathing.

In general, watch out for the "was -ing." Not saying all are bad and should be excised, but it's a weaker form of the verb. You want strength, action, especially with your type of content. [later: I reread, and there's only the one, although you do have a lot if -ing words in there..]

[This message has been edited by LCastle (edited March 09, 2008).]


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MrsBrown
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Yes, better. I agree with LCastle’s two suggested edits.

“They will face us here, hill or no. They would not risk us at their backs," he said.
This “he said” sounded awkward, since it comes after the second sentence in this quote. If you need a break in the dialogue, perhaps give Gripp another action, gesture, etc.

"I do not understand this, they gain nothing here.”
I don’t get why Gripp says he doesn’t understand – it sounds like he understands them very well in the previous statements. I think you could lose this sentence.


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alliedfive
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Thanks Mrs Brown. Gripps confusion is about the whole situation, he knows what comes next, but doesnt understand the overarching motive. Heres the latest first 13:

Soldiers were staining the green of the northern hills. Ilijah, son of Hamah, squinted at the advancing enemy and tried to control his breathing. He heard the clink and creak of his sergeant stomping purposefully through the tall grass to stand beside him.
“I’m fine, just cold,” said Ilijah, without turning.
“I didn’t ask,” said His uncle Gripp, before spitting in the grass at their feet.
Seargent Gripp Dunfall was a walking legend in Lorucia, touched by the God, and veteran of The Long War, and he believed Ilijah a brave and honorable man. With each battle, Ilijah grew more certain he was wrong.
“Keep moving, helps with the cold,” said Gripp, turning to look

[This message has been edited by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (edited March 28, 2008).]


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JustInProse
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I like this much better. My only problem with the text is what seems to me as a bit of a run-on. My suggestion for fixing it:


{Seargent Gripp Dunfall was a walking legend in Lorucia, touched by the God, and a veteran of The Long War. He believed Ilijah was a brave and honorable man, but with each battle, Ilijah grew more certain his uncle was wrong.}

Otherwise, loved it.


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