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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Books » Seeker's Sword, 1st 13

   
Author Topic: Seeker's Sword, 1st 13
Hop Henry
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Well, I was rash enough to sign up, I might as well jump in before I lose my nerve....

This starts the “finished” first half of a work, currently about 150k words in total:

*****
The first time I saw her, she was coming down the ramp from the manor roof. I went cold, startled that a stranger was so close to my isolated rooms. My hands started toward my swords before I could stop them. I looked her over, wondering what she was doing here.

The gray she wore from crown to toe identified her as a Scribe, an outland commoner by her head scarf, the simple cut of her robe, and the lack of any weapon. Her face was strongly featured, square and angular, dominated by wide, gray eyes. I liked her eyes, warm and open, unafraid of looking at everything. For some reason I still can’t explain, I felt like she accepted everything she saw without judgment.

Even me. I have no illusions. I may be impressive for my size,
*****

The whole scene is 30 lines long. The next scene is a ritual combat that goes wrong.

So, have at it. I can't think of any way to improve it, so it's clearly time to let others tear it up. Anyone interested in critiquing more, let me know. Chapters are long, 8k-10k words (@ 25 pages).

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Denevius
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hello henry. i'm game for a swap if you are, but just the first chapter, or up to 8000 to 10,000 words. send me an email if you're interested.
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enigmaticuser
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I like it in general. I get a distinct impression of what kind of story is about to follow, high fantasy type. I get a clear sense of POV, and the implication that this lady is going to be important.

Having said that, some will be put off by description for opening, so I would suggest keeping it brief. I assume from the last line that another description is about to follow. They are necessary, but in my experience are best nearly invisible. I think the girl's is nearly as tight as it can be, the thing that most tripped me was the extensive internal analysis of the girl through her eyes. I mean he goes in startled but ends up sounding like he's found his soul mate or some angel.

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Hop Henry
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enigmaticuser--His self-description is six lines long, but it says more about his attitude than his appearance. As becomes clear later, he has ample reason to observe people carefully. If I shorten things, I'd have something like:

*****
The first time I saw her, she was coming down the ramp from the manor roof. I went cold; my hands started toward my swords before I could stop them. I looked her over, suspicious that a stranger was so close to my isolated rooms.

The gray she wore from crown to toe identified her as a Scribe, an outland commoner by her head scarf, the simple cut of her sturdy robe, and the lack of any weapon.

I liked her eyes, unafraid of looking at everything. I felt like she accepted everything she saw without judgment.

Even me. My narrow face, with its habitual scowl, doesn’t invite second looks. The missing leg, however, elicits disbelief, rude jokes, and many staring second looks.
*****

Well, it _was_ six lines long....

I normally wouldn't begin here, but this first meeting turns out to be important.

What suggests he might be seeing an angel or his soul mate? How do I avoid such an inference? This swordsman has absolutely no use for any Scribe, especially one who is incompetent with any weapon she's tried.

Thanks for the comments. I can see, already, re-writing the entire novel's going to be huge. (But I knew that--and definitely worth the effort. At least, I hope there's a small gem to be uncovered and polished up pretty!)

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enigmaticuser
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As I said it was nearly as tight as it could be, I liked it, any tighter and you might lose voice, since I only see 13 lines it would be difficult to make a judgment on whether the description was excess.

As for the eyes, you begin with "I liked her eyes," then add warm, open, unafraid, and accepting which I can see why that would make her important if the next lines reveal his absent limb, but it's all very positive. It does not sound neutral, you do meet people who are that way, but can you put your finger on it that quickly?

Then again, as I reread it I get the sense that this is a rememberance not a real time event. If so then it would make more sense that he's viewing the past through a greater clarity, but the positive way still suggests that he is viewing her through affection rather than neutrally or apprehensively (which seems like it would make sense if he really was startled by her).

It's not a big deal. I don't think the first 13 are, but they are useful to see how we're coming across.

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Hop Henry
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enigmaticuser-- Ah! Yes, suspicion is definitely in order here. The rest of the scene:

*****
NOTE FROM KATHLEEN: Only the first 13 lines, please.
******

There are two things going on here that become clear later. He's always been rejected by his family, so a stranger's respect is entirely foreign to him. She has what I call a "god-gift" of understanding, which is apparently unique, because it goes way beyond instant fluency in any language she encounters.

[ April 10, 2012, 08:23 PM: Message edited by: Kathleen Dalton Woodbury ]

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MattLeo
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Well henry, you've committed one of my pet Peeves: portentous and unnecessary Capitalization of a common Noun. It drives me **nuts**.

The title of a job is not a proper noun. This is correct: "Barack Obama before he was president of the United States was the junior senator from Illinois." This is incorrect: "Barack Obama before he was President of the United States was the junior Senator from Illinois."

A lot of people capitalize "president" when referring to POTUS, it is so common it might well become accepted usage. But we don't capitalize "senator". We don't even capitalize "Junior Senator from Illinois" although there's only one of those at a time, just like there's only one president.

Otherwise, I liked everything I read up to this point:
quote:
For some reason I still can’t explain, I felt like she accepted everything she saw without judgment.
Unless your protagonist is telepathic, I don't like being told something he can't substantiate.
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Shaygirl
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@Hop I'd love to read what you have now. I'm pretty much hooked! I am still fairly new at the whole critiquing thing, but if you wouldn't mind some comments from a newb, I'd love to go over yours.

Also...I am short on time these days, so reading will be slow, but if you're ok with that...

Eager for more!

~Shay

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Ben Brooks
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The description seemed to go on a bit, though it didn't bother me too much. I did stumble over one sentence, though. Still can't quite parse it:

"The gray she wore from crown to toe identified her as a Scribe, an outland commoner by her head scarf, the simple cut of her robe, and the lack of any weapon."

I get lost somewhere around that second comma.

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