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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Books » Mists of Blackfen Bog - novella

   
Author Topic: Mists of Blackfen Bog - novella
C L Lynn
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My most recent favorite baby - a character-driven, fantasy-ghost story, that comes in at just under 25k. Anyone interested in looking at the first 20 pages? The opening pages are what I'm most concerned about, but I would welcome readers for the whole thing as well:

"You'll never convince me, Imaen," said the Venerable Orn. "Might as well try talking the River Wenn into a new course." Hunched beside me in the bench seat of the cart, Orn wore a smug grin. "Abandon the temple, lass, and you'll always regret it."
"I've made up my mind," I said. "Why can't you understand?"
"But you've a tender heart, and you've seen how the dying trust you in their time of passing."
"That was before Cambryn Island," I retorted, hoping to put an end to the argument. Gazing out across the silent waters of Blackfen Bog, I watched a crane spear a black fen ray with its beak. A shiver stole through my robes. I could blame the chill on the early spring air, but I would be lying to myself. The
____
Please note, I have posted a revised version below.


[This message has been edited by C L Lynn (edited September 05, 2008).]

[This message has been edited by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (edited September 05, 2008).]

[This message has been edited by C L Lynn (edited September 18, 2008).]


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talsmitde
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This opening has a good, murky opening to it--I feel like it gives a good introduction into the mists of Blackfen Bog. I'd use he or she instead of the second Orn. The smug grin while discussing spiritual matters make Orn seem like a blatant hypocrite--I'm assuming that he/she/it is, and it tells me a lot about the political nature of religion in the story that Orn is considered "venerable."

One question about the seasons--you mention the "early spring" air. Is it important that the story be set in early spring? If so, that's ok, it's just that "Mists of Blackfen Bog" has more of a late autumn feel to it.


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C L Lynn
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excellent observations. Mist vs. spring. Hmm. Soon, the spring equinox becomes the focal point of the story, so I wonder if I ought to add hot springs to the bog, as I had debated on long ago, to account for the year-round mist?
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pixydust
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I think opening with dialgue can make things difficult. I get a small sence of place, but nothing else. No plot and no character--the most important in my mind. I'd like to see more of how my MC is "reacting" to Orn. I'd get a better sence of both characters if I was deeper in my MC's POV in the conversation.
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MrsBrown
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Ditto pixydust; I'm not getting enough about the characters here. I don't understand what the conversation is about; or at least, I'm not willing to work hard enough to figure it out, because I haven't really been introduced to anyone yet.

I felt like I desparately needed a breather by the time I got to the setting, because I was drowning in the dialogue. That said, I very much liked:

quote:
Gazing out across the silent waters of Blackfen Bog, I watched a crane spear a black fen ray with its beak. A shiver stole through my robes. I could blame the chill on the early spring air, but I would be lying to myself.

Can you start there?

[This message has been edited by MrsBrown (edited September 11, 2008).]


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Esso
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Well, I like the opening as is. It is interesting enough to keep me going for awhile, without added character information. You give a sense of a long-standing friendship between the two characters, even though they disagree about an important issue just now. Predator and prey hint a dark side to the bog, which you should (and did) establish early on in the story. I'd read this if I ran across it on the coffee table.
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Brant Danay
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I love the title and I would have liked to learn more about the Blackfen Bog right away. That might just be my own personal preference, though. I realize there's plenty of time for the Blackfen Bog later, and, since it's the setting of the opening scene and part of the title, I imagine I would get to know more about it fairly quickly. I'd keep reading because of that. Best regards,

Brant


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Kin Castelmare
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Having the word "Venerable" capitalized makes me wonder of Orn's title is an official one or if it's merely an adjective. If it is his rank or title, it adds further irony later on if Orn turns out to be a scoundrel.

I think mist can occur anytime, as long as the water is warmer than the air -- so maybe it's in the hour before dawn? Just an extra word or two will support your choice.

I didn't mind starting with the dialogue. I think the description with the crane adds a nice beat just in time. And now I wonder what happened on Cambryn Island...a reason for the dying to stop trusting Imaen?

Liked it a lot!


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valjean03
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One thing that i notice is that though you open with a dialogue, I have no sense where I am at or what time period I am, which could ultimately make me put the book down. Maybe adding a few actions inbetween the quotes? Consider:

"You'll never convince me, Imaen," said the Venerable Orn WITH HER OLD SCRAPPY VOICE SHE TURNED AROUND, FIDLING WITH HER PURSE, WONDERING WHEN THE CONVERSATION WOULD END.
"Might as well try talking the River Wenn into a new course." <b>Hunched beside me in the bench seat of the cart </b>, (not really needed but okay, would be better if you showed me something about her character instead, rather than the action. The goal is for me to learn more about the character and like her enough for me to read on. )

Orn wore a smug grin. "Abandon the temple, lass, and you'll always regret it."

"I've made up my mind," I said. "Why can't you understand?" <b> could be better if you resorted to an action. Consider "I've made up my mind." I said turning away, hoping to end the conversation. "why can't you understand?" The Orn quote above worked for me, do the same thing here...)</b>

"But you've a tender heart, and you've seen how the dying trust you in their time of passing."

"That was before Cambryn Island," I retorted <b>(For some reason, retorted seems like a strange placement here. Maybe Spat?), </b> hoping to put an end to the argument. Gazing out across the silent waters of Blackfen Bog, I watched a crane spear a black fen ray with its beak. A shiver stole through my robes. I could blame the chill on the early spring air, but I would be lying to myself. The


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C L Lynn
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Thanks for the comments, everyone! I received so much good advice that I did a thorough rewrite of the opening 20 pages. I decided to open with place descriptions since the setting is so vital to the story. Any new advice and takers on the first 20 are appreciated.
_____

The stink of the still waters assaulted my nose. Reeds decayed in mirror-clear shallows; the tattered gray carcass of a fen ray bobbed under the greedy attentions of a pair of crows. From the spongy earth, vapor oozed, chilled, and thickened into mist as the sun descended.
Perched heavily upon the snowy flanks of the Moonfall Mountains, the sun was a vigilant eye. After traveling the bog for three days, I had learned what happened when that red eye closed.
I tried not to think about the mournful faces coalescing out of the mist.
Tonight I hoped to see village lights winking somewhere on the horizon, but there were only the darkening plains of water, the


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Brant Danay
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This new version is light-years better than the original, in my opinion. Lots of great lines and descriptions.

"The stink of the still waters assaulted my nose."

I think "stench" or "miasma" might be a better choice than "stink".

"From the spongy earth, vapor oozed, chilled, and thickened into mist as the sun descended."

I think this might read better as "Vapor oozed from the spongy earth, chilling and thickening into mist as the sun descended." Grammar and syntax are not my field of expertise, so somebody please correct me if I'm wrong.

I love the name Moonfall Mountains, the implications of what might happen when the red eye of the sun closes, and the line about the darkening plains of water.

I think "coalescing out of the mist" is awkward, but that might just be me. I'm not sure what you're going for here, but "coalescing in the mist" might be better. If the faces are emerging from the mist, perhaps "emanating from the mist" or something similar would be a better choice. Just a thought.

Hope this helps. Keep up the good work.


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aspirit
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I like the revised version much better, as I expected a focus on the character's relationship with the bog. My favorite lines are:

quote:
Perched heavily upon the snowy flanks of the Moonfall Mountains, the sun was a vigilant eye. After traveling the bog for three days, I had learned what happened when that red eye closed.

That's a nice way to imply the days are safer.

I prefer your "stink" to "stench" or "miasma". There's a greater sense of intolerance with "stink". Baby diapers stink; your sick best friend has a stench. "Miasma" seems out of place from a character trekking through a bog.

I'm willing to read more. I can respond quickly, if you don't mind the review of an amateur critiquer.


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