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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Books » Kingdom of Ravens [Fantasy]

   
Author Topic: Kingdom of Ravens [Fantasy]
Iorveth
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Hello, writers/readers, a long while since I've been on Hatrack, but I'm back for some help. So, I'm looking for volunteers that would be interested in reading the first twenty pages of the manuscript I have. My book (or story) is called Kingdom of Ravens. I have finished it and am at 71, 566 words. The manuscript hasn't been professionally edited yet(if anyone has any cost effective ideas on how to do that, that would be great).

Here is the summary and first thirteen lines(I don't know if summary is too large?):

The year is 892. Peace reigns across the three elven kingdoms of Quethelan. Shanna is young peasant born in the Lands of The Eternal Spring, destined to become something more than a farmer’s daughter. As she undergoes the rigorous training to become a sentinel of the woodland realm, her life is suddenly changed as a great invasion sweeps across the shores of her country. The elves of the Celithorn Empire have returned from their crumbling empire. Shanna answers the call to war, only to be captured by the great nemesis. She believes her fate is sealed, but soon discovers that a storm unlike anything she has ever seen is brewing in fabled Celithorn.

(Previous) Thirteen Lines:

“All warriors on the battlefield are united by the hunt. There is always an objective that binds them together. Focus on the objective and you’ll find that you are never alone.”
The instruction echoed in Shanna’s mind for the fifteenth time as darted silently across the Gloom Wood. Thin, elegant trees stretched out before her, bent by a howling wind. Leaves of dark colored hues pattered down around her feet as she weaved through a maze of twisted roots and craggy rocks. Voices pierced through the god rays and shadows that divided the forest floor. She threw her back against a moss infested tree—trunk and gasped breathlessly.
A heavy twang pierced through the billowing winds and before Shanna could blink, a heavy blow impacted against her ribcage. She doubled over on instinct.

(EDITED)Thirteen Lines:

“All warriors are united by the objective in the hunt. Focus on the objective and you are never alone.”
I know am not alone. Where are you hiding, mentor?

The instruction echoed in Shanna’s mind for the fifteenth time as she darted silently across the Gloom Wood. Thin, elegant trees stretched out before her, bent by a howling wind. Leaves of dark colored hues pattered down around her feet as she weaved through a maze of twisted roots and craggy rocks. Voices pierced through the god rays and shadows that divided the forest floor. She threw her back against a moss infested tree—trunk and gasped breathlessly. Her body ached from exhaustion.
Remain calm. Control your breathing, Shanna. If this were a real battle, where would my foe hide? He would gain higher ground.

(EDITED) Thirteen Lines:

I know am not alone. Where are you hiding, mentor?
The thought echoed in Shanna’s mind for the fifteenth time as she darted across the Gloom Wood. Elegant trees stretched out before her, bent in the wind. Dark colored leaves pattered down around her as she weaved through twisted roots and craggy rocks. Whispering voices were at her back no matter how swift her feet. She melded into the shadows as she was taught, away from the sunlight that pervaded much of the wood. Her body ached from exhaustion. Shanna threw her back against a moss covered tree—trunk and gasped.
Remain calm. Control your breathing, Shanna. If this were a real battle, where would my foe hide? He would gain higher ground.

(EDIT)
Another cry of pain rang out from a distant recruit. The arrow must have struck him hard by the way he squealed. Shanna remained crouched in the darkness. One movement could give everything away. She hated being patient. The practice scenarios always ended the same way. One by one, Mentor Dichalis would hunt them all down before sunset. Shanna was always the last survivor. Today she would break that tradition and defeat the greatest hunter she knew. Even if she would do it alone.
Her mentor’s words came to mind.All warriors are united by the objective in the hunt. Focus on the objective and you are never alone. There had to be other recruits still in the hunt.

(NEW)

The mentor called it the great hunt. The sentinel recruits knew the two arduous weeks of training as the great culling. Shanna remained crouched in the darkness. One hundred previous recruits expelled themselves by being reckless. Though she hated being patient. Sheer weight of numbers made the objective seem within reach: hunt the mentor and strike him down with a practice arrow. Within her heart, she knew accomplishment of the task would prove the more difficult route. The culling would continue in either case. Only five would be deemed worthy to continue their training. The last survivors of the hunt.
Erathion’s ignoble cry burst from the distant shadows of the Gloom Wood. Seven of her kindred remained. Mentor Dichalis stalked his prey nearby, Shanna thought.

[ July 21, 2015, 07:15 PM: Message edited by: Iorveth ]

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extrinsic
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A cost-effective process toward a professionally edited outcome starts and ends with a writer's responsibility to appreciate grammar, rhetoric, style, content and organization, prose discourse customs and conventions, and audience appeal suited to a project.

Otherwise, a proofreader is more cost effective than a developmental editor. A proofreader is only concerned with nondiscretionary grammar considerations: diction and syntax, spelling, punctuation, organization, and fact checking, as it were, mostly. A developmental editor evaluates all the former, though also finer distinctions of nondiscretionary grammar, etc., variations, content and organization, discourse methods, and appeals from a symphonic synthesis of a narrative's synergy -- the macro and the micro features.

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Iorveth
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Yeah, I've tried cleaning all of the errors that I could find in the manuscript twice now. However, I know my writing is not perfect and that it could use some improvement in certain areas. I'm a full time college student, so that's why I asked [Smile] .
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JSchuler
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You first thirteen ends at "shoulders and thighs."

There are a lot of contradictory statements that make it difficult to get a good picture:

"labyrinth of thin, elegant trees" doesn't make much sense. Such trees would make poor walls. Later on you describe the "large arched and twisted roots," which does fit the bill. Indeed, we are looking at a labyrinth of roots, not trees.

"harsh breeze" - How does that happen?

"hues of emerald and sapphire... created a slightly dark and downcast atmosphere" - You're using references to gemstones to paint a gloomy picture. It's not working for me. And if there is enough foliage to create that atmosphere you describe, those leaves wouldn't appear to be the color of gems. They'd look desaturated, as that's what a downcast sky does to color.


When you say "the advice relayed through Shanna's mind," I got the impression of a telepathic link from whoever it is attributed to (we don't know, which makes it lose significance), reminding everyone on this hunt to not get distracted. If this isn't the case, I suggest replacing "relayed" with something else (echoed? repeated?).

"you are seldom alone" - Propaganda 101: When being inspiring, avoid hedge words.

So what do we have here? Shanna, a Sentinel of Gloom Wood, is walking through said wood, hearing/remembering words of advice regarding battlefields, objectives, and comrades. Unfortunately, I do not have any idea as to what her objective is, any hint of a battle, and there is no sign of anyone else with her. The first three sentences create expectations that the rest of the opening fails to develop further.

While I think, if cleaned up, the imagery of the Gloom Wood could be fantastic (it's not a pun if it's literal), the implications of those first sentences are more interesting to me. I would rather see the setting description serve the plot's development rather than have the plot stopped so the setting can be described. For example, this can be done by setting the Gloom Wood up as an adversary; maybe she's separated from her group and is trying to navigate the thick roots, and only gets more hopelessly lost. Voices echo in strange ways off the trunks, leading her astray. The readers then get an image of the forest through Shanna's interaction with it, as opposed to a separate telling divorced from the action.

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Iorveth
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Hey JSchuler, thank you for your suggestions! Definitely gives me a lot to think about. I assume seldom is the hedge word you speak of?

I'm not sure why the 13 sentences stopped at 'shoulders and thighs' either. Maybe I hit the limit, but it shows all of it on my webpage [Razz] .

Alright, so contradictions are a thing I need to tackle. Objective has been set [Smile] . I'll post up a new thirteen sentences when it's finished.

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JSchuler
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Yes, seldom is the hedge word. Basically, anything that provides a loophole.

For the first 13, take a look at this thread: http://www.hatrack.com/ubb/writers/ultimatebb.php?ubb=get_topic;f=6;t=000004

Adjust the text box until it just holds the alphabet template, then paste your opening into it and trim until the scroll bar disappears (keep in mind the scroll bar will consume some of the box's width, so you might be able to add more back once it's gone)

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Iorveth
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Here is a new thirteen. I had to change somethings around, but I still couldn't fit everything I wanted to ):. Suggestions?

“All warriors on the battlefield are united by the hunt. There is always an objective that binds them together. Focus on the objective and you’ll find that you are never alone.”
The instruction echoed in Shanna’s mind for the fifteenth time as darted silently across the Gloom Wood. Thin, elegant trees stretched out before her, bent by a howling wind. Leaves of dark colored hues pattered down around her feet as she weaved through a maze of twisted roots and craggy rocks. Voices pierced through the god rays and shadows that divided the forest floor. She threw her back against a moss infested tree—trunk and gasped breathlessly.
A heavy twang twang pierced through the billowing winds and before Shanna could blink, a heavy blow impacted against her ribcage. She doubled over on instinct.

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JSchuler
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<b>Suggestions?</b>

Don't try to fit everything in. Just make sure that what you do fit in is right. If that means including less, include less. You're writing a novel. You have space to play with that you wouldn't have in a short story.

Also, you may want to wait for more responses before you rewrite, as otherwise you're just going off of a single jerk's opinion. [Smile]

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Iorveth
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Haha, alright will do [Smile] .
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MAP
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For the most part, I like this. I personally prefer a closer POV (a glimpse into what Shanna is thinking and hearing), but the imagery is nice, and I'm curious about what would happen next.

Here are a few thoughts.

quote:
“All warriors on the battlefield are united by the hunt. There is always an objective that binds them together. Focus on the objective and you’ll find that you are never alone.” this is too long. I think you could easily condense this. Something like "All warriors are united by the objective in the hunt(battle). Focus on the objective and you are never alone." I think getting rid of excess words makes it much smoother.
The instruction echoed in Shanna’s mind for the fifteenth time as darted silently across the Gloom Wood. Thin, elegant trees stretched out before her, bent by a howling wind. Leaves of dark colored hues pattered down around her feet as she weaved through a maze of twisted roots and craggy rocks. I would like some indication of what she is doing. Is she in a battle? Is she training? How does she feel about this? Is she scared or nervous or calm? But that might be my personal preference for a closer POV. Voices pierced through the god rays and shadows that divided the forest floor. She threw her back against a moss infested tree—trunk and gasped breathlessly. Does she gasp in fear or is she breathless from running through the woods?
A heavy twang pierced through the billowing winds and before Shanna could blink, a heavy blow impacted against her ribcage. She doubled over on instinct.The word instinct is strange to me because I think being struck in the chest she would be doubling over in pain. I'm not sure what instinct is making her double over.

Those are just a few suggestions. Overall, I think it is a good start. I agree with JSchuler. You don't have to have everything in the first 13. Take your time and get it right.

Good luck!

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Iorveth
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Thank you for your input and suggestions, MAP, very helpful stuff. I agree, that beginning quote is a bit too long. Working on improving Shanna's voice is one of my goals for editing as I also want to have a closer P.O.V. So that is something I'll keep in mind [Smile] .

There is a new thirteen in the first post, by the way. Not too many changes, but just added voice to Shanna's thoughts that should help clarify what is happening.

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JSchuler
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Another tip: don't delete old versions. Leave them up for people to compare and contrast.

I really like the third. I understand enough of what Shanna is doing to relate to her and get into the story. The inner voice works for me.

There are still a few quibbles:

"moss infested tree" - "Infested" is a bit much. I'm expecting the tree to be contagious and in need of burning with that word. Unless there's something nefarious about the moss (e.g. it's poisonous to the touch) I suggest a more standard term.

"gasped breathlessly" - "Breathlessly" doesn't add anything in my opinion. The sentence that follows does much better in conveying that information. In general, I recommend that you be sparing with adverbs, as it's easy to use them as a substitute for descriptive writing.

"I know I'm not alone." - For some reason, the fact that this follows right on the heel of the advice bothers me. I think I want some more separation between Shanna's voice and her memory. Try moving it to after "across the Gloom Wood" to space them apart.

"Voices pierced through the god rays and shadows that divided the forest floor." This is the only sentence that bothers me as a whole. The piercing metaphor doesn't work for me, as it implies that the rays and the shadows were some sort of barrier. Furthermore, I want to know what voices. There are dozens, from whispering to laughing, from young to old, that can drastically change the feeling of that sentence. Furthermore, "god ray" is more a graphics art term than something that I would expect to come from a Tolkien-esque elf.

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Grumpy old guy
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Beginning a story with a quotation mark is a red flag to prospective editors according to Damon Knight. A quote, or a piece of dialogue, is meaningless without context. Begin the story a few sentences before the character remembers the quote--giving me who, what, where, and when--and then I have a context. Later on,but not too much later on, you can give me the why.

The prose is too poetic for my tastes this early on in a story.

Phil.

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Iorveth
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Thank you guys for your suggestions [Smile] , I appreciate the feedback. Alright, I added one of the previous thirteen lines, kept the present one, and added a new one in there. Grumpy Old Guy, I followed your advice and moved the quote down a little, it's no longer in the first thirteen, but it's still in the beginning. Also, I cut out some unnecessary words and reworded some sentences, so hopefully they sound less poetic. If not let me know [Smile] .
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extrinsic
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An evaluation of whys and wherefores directed at opening lines may illustrate why dialogue or thought need setup beforehand.

Let's see: Disembodied speech and thought, non-sequential logic sequence (causality), and delivery of tension and anticipation's resolution segment out of best advised practice order.

Disembodiment: Readers come to a narrative bereft of context -- who, when, and where; and texture, what, why, and how. For a thought or speech, contexture subtly expresses who, when, where, what -- the speech or thought expression, why, and how -- thought or speech, including emotional charge. Such contexture in part could or should be developed before the speech or thought is expressed, directly or indirectly. (Italics format signals direct thought, verbatim thought, a custom for contemporary fantasy.)

That context development before a speech or thought then is a consideration of advance preparation of readers for the contexture of the direct or, otherwise, an indirect discourse. The discourse is a resolution segment of the tripartate preparation, suspension, and resolution sequence; in other words, a logical causal sequence. The speech or thought logically is an effect of a prior-in-time and sequence cause trigger.

Causality's logic is simply cause then effect, a doublet sequence segment. Tension's logic is likewise simply a triplet sequence segment. However, both are far more complex than that simple illustration.

Let's look then at where in a narrative sequence a discourse line best practice fits for best reader effect. First causality, a simpler approach due to causation's tangible duality. What first causes -- triggers -- say, a thought effect, response, reaction? An external event or an internal event. External probably is more easily interpretable for readers, generally, though internal stimuli could trigger effect response too. Stimuli is in some way a product of a sensory perception: visual, aural, tactile, olfactory, gustatory, or melds thereof. If simpler stimuli events and sequentially expressed are probably best. A sound, for example, may trigger a sight, which then triggers a thought or a verbal expression.

That sequencing develops fluent flow, logically. Logic to mean in its broadest sense cause and effect in linear sequence.

From the tension organization perspective then, the three parts are preparation, suspension, and resolution. A first trigger is a first cause that prepares readers for what will follow, sets up an anticipation of an effect to come, introduces a stimuli that insists upon a reaction soonest. Perhaps reacted to immediately, one-to-one causation. However, that one-to-one cause and effect sequence defuses potential tension. Artfully delayed suspension of a cause's effect, response, reaction, outcome, resolution, result, etc., builds tension.

An intermediate segment, suspension, then delays resolution, develops further anticipation, builds tension for artful reader effect. A discourse line then falls into its ideal place as a resolution segment, artful exceptions notwithstood. Customarily, a discourse line is out of position at a start, lacking necessary contexture -- preparation and suspension. Although well-executed exceptions are probably as numerous as conforming examples, the causal-tensional sequence is a best advised practice, unless an exception trumps its unconventional use.

A third area that accompanies and complements causality and tension is antagonism. Antagonism is causal, of course. Antagonism is want and problem, congruent and oppositional to each other. Antagonism is a trigger event, a troublesome sensation that causes a reaction. For first causes, antagonism is an ideal stimuli, especially when a central character is influenced by the antagonal sensation, an event with compelling force of agency. Note the acronym for Antagonism, Causation, and Tension is ACT, and note that is a logical sequence, too. A character is antagonally acted upon, prepared, then suspended for a time brief or a long time, for anticipation of a response, suspension, and timely acts in reaction to a stimuli, resolution.

The antagonal stimuli may be a want, a desire for some thing, person, or outcome. The stimuli may be an external event that incites a want or problem, say, an explosion or such. The antagonal circumstance is the preparation segment and best practice comes first, before resolution anyway, if not before suspension, after antagonal preparation, before resolution.

The opening lines of each version posted thus far jumble antagonal, causal, and tensional sequencing. The read is bumpy, unsettled; the flow stutters and backs up.

I would not turn the page. I might, though, read further revisions to see if the ACT organizational flow smooths out a few bumps.

[ July 21, 2015, 10:32 AM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Iorveth
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Hello, extrinsic, thank you for the advice. So just so I have this right, I need a setup for Shanna's thoughts because at the moment, they don't have enough context? Which in turn is confusing the reader as to whether which sequence of ACT I'm using?

Your understanding of writing is clearly beyond my level. I get the general idea of what you are saying, but the specifics confuse me a little. Is there somewhere that I can read about this where it's broken down further? It sounds like an important concept that I need to get right.

Or feel free to point out a few examples you see in the thirteen lines above.

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extrinsic
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Setup is a clear and simple term for preparing -- the preparation segment, consider also the suspension segment as part of setup -- preparing readers for a discourse line, so the line, or if more, doesn't come out from the wild blue yonder of disembodiment.

The ACT and Tension-Anticipation sequencing comments above come mostly from Rust Hills' Writing in General and the Short Story in Particular and partly from my own (scientific) investigation and development, antagonism in particular, a concept I've yet to find clear direction about. So I developed that antagonism concept as a prime mover of narrative's fluent flow independently. (Antagonism clearly and strongly fits a general model of drama and dramatic structure and other composition, expression organization methods.)

Causality -- The Poetics of Aristotle; Tension, Gustav Freytag's Techniques of the Drama both suggested to me the parameters of Antagonism influences.

Although Hills notes such texts and similar works address drama specifically, and that the "modern" short story form may be at times outside drama's bounds, not to mention the short story form is anymore unqualifiable by even the broadest perspectives -- I disagree, by the way -- appreciating congruencies between drama and short story forms are useful prose composition tools.

After all, drama is as much potentially part of whatever length of narrative as drama is to the stage and screen or radio or Internet, etc. Other potential strengths unique or exclusive to narrative forms, short story or novel, etc., nonetheless. The short story form is especially amenable to sketch, anecdote, and vignette, for example, where long forms are oftentimes less appealing for those expression categories' lengths. Who wants to read a five-hundred-thousand word narrative about a babbling brook beside a frontier person's cabin? If that's all, no one. Drama must ensue.

In short, drama's definition according to Hills is visual-aural performing arts, not written word. My definition of drama is closer to others named above and Edgar Allen Poe, plus others; that is, an antagonal, causal, tensional expression of a life-defining, transformative influence that is caused by and unfolds for a persona or personas, and results in changed circumstances.

A consideration for development of ACT sequencing skills is to evaluate narratives by other writers, published or otherwise, for whether they fit the ACT model or not, when not, if the choice is effective or not, and techniques used that are perhaps overly obvious or subtly effective.

The sections of Hills text that relate to tension are pages 27 through 42 out of 197 total.

[ July 19, 2015, 04:38 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Iorveth
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Alright, I'll pick up that Rust Hill book when I grab my textbooks for the next semester [Smile] . In the meantime, though, I'll try to incorporate the advice you gave me in the next thirteen.
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Iorveth
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Added a new thirteen. Any better, anyone?

[ July 20, 2015, 09:19 AM: Message edited by: Iorveth ]

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Disgruntled Peony
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I am definitely intrigued enough to offer to read the 20 pages you're offering up for reading. I would have brought it up earlier, but the last week or so has been incredibly chaotic.

The latest opening shows a great deal of improvement, in my opinion. There's a lot more conflict evident, and therefore a lot more to interest the reader. There is some grammatical tweaking that needs to be done, but they weren't rough enough to detract my interest.

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JSchuler
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The conflict is much more developed in the newest version. Your best yet.

But: "The live fire scenarios..."

Are guns common in this setting? "Fire" is a term that came to use with the rise of firearms and would not be used in a culture that primarily used bows.

quote:
Another cry of frustration was torn from a distant recruit. The arrow must have struck him hard by the way he squealed.
The first says "frustration," but the follow up implies pain instead. Also, I question opening with the passive voice ("was torn").
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Iorveth
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Thank you guys for the suggestions, they're really making a difference [Smile] . I made some edits to improve upon the suggestions you made, JSchuler.

And I'll definitely take you up on your offer, Disgruntled Peony, so I can just shoot the twenty pages to you in a private message?

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Disgruntled Peony
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I'm fine with you sending me a PM, but sending me an E-mail might actually be better. I can give more detailed in-document feedback if it's in .doc or .odt format (the latter being the free shareware program Open Office). [Smile]
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Iorveth
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Okay, I sent it to you by email.
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extrinsic
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The fourth version is smoother -- more fluent flow: antagonism, causation, and tension's preparation, suspension, resolution sequence.

The antagonism features are a little low magnitude for an opening's functions, thirteen lines anyway. Antagonism goes to complication as much as conflict. For conflict, dramatic conflict specifically, a diametric opposition of forces is needed. Those forces are antagonal, causal, and tensional circumstances; antagonal -- is two or more circumstances that at least clash contentiously, be they ideals, values, morals, events, setting features, or characters. Antagonism is also motivations and stakes and outcomes in opposition: the very functions of conflict. Life and death, for example, is a dramatic conflict. One force, like, say life force, is a coincidence of action, not much, if any, conflict, not a contention. Conflict, like a lambada, takes two distinct features that clash, are mutually exclusive of each other -- contention, competition, opposition. Three distinct conflict features, now that's a party, or a riot!

Shanna has a want, to triumph over Dichalis. Problem, though, Dichalis is more than capable of defeating the entire training cadre, let alone Shanna. Motivations are there; possible opposite outcomes are there; the stakes are low magnitude. Win or lose, Shanna lives to train another day, as do all of her fellow trainees. Win and loss require personal consequences. What are they? A bruise's pain? From a dummy arrow? That's the combat exercise routine, not stakes-worthy.

Low magnitude is not an appreciable concern; vague stakes are. Win or lose, possible physical pain is certain. Emotional pain, though, mere disappointment. Consider: raise the stakes for higher magnitude. Success and failure, reward and punishment as conflict's stakes. What does Sheena have to tangibly gain and lose? Say, a setback, loss of face, and an advancement, promotion in rank, status, or prestige, and each at cost of personal pain and growth.

Now, "and," there's the conflict friction rub. Not "or," though Sheena could fail to defeat Dichalis this time, that dichotomy is that degree of either/or, "and" diametric opposition. For forward plot and character movement, "and" is required. This is, after all, a start of an action. An action end flows toward unequivocal, irrevocable outcome of one or the other: success or failure, win or lose, reward or punishment, gain or loss, etc., "or" not "and" for an end. "And," then, start and middle act conflict propels forward movement toward an either/or end act.

Consider the content for complication and conflict context and texture are present in the fragment and prior versions, though antagonism is shy, especially Shena's conflict tension and complication want and problem setup: preparation and suspension. What content to me is missing, though, is what Shanna stands to gain and lose from setback and progress, her personal stakes.

Let's look at setback and progress -- And. If Shanna succeeds, what happens? Could Shanna anticipate Dichalis will escalate and she worries about that setback, causes Shanna greater pain and efforts? If Shanna fails, could she be expelled, set to peel potatoes, and worry about the shame of a "learning" punishment? Like that.

Though, here is the nitty-gritty of thirteen-line fragment content and organization. These (and others generally) start fragments prospect for a point in time, place, and situation that sets up a dramatic preparation: about, actually, all thirteen lines can fulfill, partially at least. However, thirteen lines' challenges also compel writers to fulfill a tension and anticipation sequence's suspension and resolution segments, as if thirteen lines is an intact dramatic unit: a complete scene segment sequence.

Though that intact dramatic unit characteristic may be desirable and enthuse readers to turn the page, and is, of course, possible, perhaps crucial for a short fiction, a full quarter of a narrative's word count may be expended to develop preparation and suspension and reach a resolution point, a tension relief segment. An intermediate relief point, not necessarily a final one of a narrative end's full tension release segments. Consider: hold back, not withhold, resolution in pieces, parts, parcels, and wholes, so that preparation and suspension are not untimely, prematurely defused.

Anyway, from a review of the several versions, the content intent is there, though cluttered and rushed with unnecessary, untimely content, and missing contexture -- tension development, preparation, and suspension particularly. Preparation that summarizes and explains, though, is narrator lecture and unappealing, generally. Reality imitation is far more appealing; that is, a narrator's report of a viewpoint persona's received reflections: received sensations, including emotion, and responses to those stimuli.

First line, fourth version, for example: "Another cry of pain rang out from a distant recruit." Pretty much an empty expression, a mere tell -- narrator's bland and vague and emotionless summary and explanation lecture. The substantive content is that of a received aural sensation: the cry of pain from a combat contestant other than Shanna. Shanna hears this sound as pain. That is an effect. The sound itself is the cause. Then the sound itself is the preparation that asks for suspension at least, if not also resolution.

How does this cry of pain sound? Is it verbal? Is it vocal, nonverbal, perhaps onomatopoeia? The sound comes from afar, out of Shanna's sight; therefore, a gestural expression received visual observation is impossible. Is the sound "Ouch"? Is it "Dammit"? Does Shanna not know by the sound who expresses this? Who, she could know, the combatants obviously frequently train together, and the narrator could report who is pained as a received reflection of Shanna's.

//An arrow twanged its cord -- thwapped a soft body part. Mikey screamed blood and murder at the top of his boyish lungs. "Ouch, dammit, that hurt, you mother-lovering son of a dung basket." Another trainee taken from contention, Shanna thought, stung by a sly arrow from Mentor Dichalis. One more down and out. Only a few of us left.//

However, that's an intermediate suspension and resolution sequence, albeit with suitable preparation setup. What comes logically first? A preparation segment that establishes the situation of a live combat training exercise. Earlier versions do that latter somewhat clearer than the fourth, though, for me, none place that apparent function, that primary necessity, in the foreground. Consider focus on that for the fragment.

This is a live combat training exercise; and if Shanna succeeds, she will advance to a higher rank or gain prestige; if she fails, she will repeat the module, the lesson, until she does succeed or dies trying, and at personal physical and emotional pains for either success or failure. In any event, though set back, she progresses in some sure and small way toward a more effective combatant later. This is forward movement: setback "And" progress sequentially or congruently.

Unless I miss the mark? I think I've got the intent, the creative vision in sight, anyway. Only clutter, missing contexture, rushed and less bumpy though still bumpy forward flow (fluency), and doubt and confusion for what to do with a thirteen lines fragment that impede full realization -- they interpose: under-realized necessities of coherence, harmony, and clarity (concision) of narrative start features. I feel this start intends to be about Shanna experiencing a live combat training exercise she wants to win.

[ July 21, 2015, 03:50 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Iorveth
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Alright, here we go again. New thirteen up, I focused on preparation of the first scene's situation. Tell me what you think [Smile] .

[ July 24, 2015, 09:25 AM: Message edited by: Iorveth ]

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