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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Books » Kingdom of Ravens Chapter 3 [Fantasy]

   
Author Topic: Kingdom of Ravens Chapter 3 [Fantasy]
Iorveth
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Hey readers/writers, I'm back with another thirteen. As one can probably tell from the chapter, this is from the same story that I posted one or two weeks ago. I'm hoping that I managed to put some techniques and suggestions to good use in this one. If not, then well, live and learn I suppose.

Synopsis:

One year and five months have passed since Shanna's training scene. She has passed her final trial to become a Sentinel of the Gloom Wood and has been injured in a great battle against the Celithorn Empire. Rescued by her enemies, Shanna is taken across the sea to the fabled Kingdom of Celithorn.

On her journey, she becomes friends with Yriel Thuren, a mercenary hired to escort her on her journey to see the King's Ascendant personally. When the task is completed, they part ways, and Yriel and his knights travel across Celithorn toward the Raven's Veil Citadel in the Sundered Valley. Unfortunately, they discover that the province is already being torn apart by war.


Thirteen:(Previous)

There was no better time to celebrate life than whenever one realizes that he had narrowly escaped the clutches of a brutal death. Yriel discovered that in his heart, he could do no such thing. As he trotted along the Veridian Road, he realized that his own fate would inevitably end somewhere very similar to the scene he witnessed.

It was a grievous marring of the verdant hills of the Sundered Valley. From one horizon’s beginning to the end, the valley was littered with remains. Their only memorial remained in fallen shields and weapons thrust into the churned earth. Bodies beyond number lay still beneath their tattered banners, either in the royal purple and gold of House Tarithinon or the bronze and ebony of Quadalin. The storm clouds above were choked with swarms of carrion and the field was infested with the vermin.

Thirteen: (New)

Three decades of warfare was a longtime to fight, Yriel thought. A hundred battlefields had attempted to take Yriel’s life, but fortune favored him for some odd reason. Yet as he trotted along the Veridian Road, he realized that his luck would inevitably end somewhere very similar to the scene he witnessed.

The winds carried the stench of decay, a beacon for the fly swarm.

Storm clouds above began to break. Golden rays of the midday sun cascaded upon the grim battlefield. Crows took flight to a hidden horizon. Several days old remains littered the desolate lowlands of the Sundered Valley. Yriel caught sight of a legionnaire cohort that lay still by the roadside. They had

[ July 30, 2015, 07:40 PM: Message edited by: Kathleen Dalton Woodbury ]

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JSchuler
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The first sentence is abstract. Linking it directly to Yriel's experience would make it more impactful, and make a good test of the truth of those words. (Having narrowly escaped death myself on a couple occasions, that rang false). Also, since you're using "he" as the gender neutral pronoun, don't use "one." It's clunky in even the best of circumstances.

"grievous marring of the verdant hills of the Sundered Valley." My first thought: It's the Sundered Valley. If anything is marring it, it's all that happy and healthy plant life that's throwing off its reputation.

"From one horizon's beginning to the end:" Awkward. Also, as valleys are between hills and mountains, he's not going to see the horizon.

"Their only memorial..." There hasn't even been enough time to bury them. The lack of a memorial is probably the least important thing about this whole scene right now. In fact, anyone who stumbled on the place at that moment (or were downwind of it) would instantly know a massive battle took place there and lots of people died.

"The storm clouds above were choked with swarms of carrion and..." Carrion is rotting meat on a corpse. I hope Yriel has a strong umbrella on him.

You're trying really hard to paint a scene loaded down with death that acts as a reflection of Yriel's despair. I think that, even if your imagery was consistent and appropriate, this approach might not be the best way to go about it. So, here is an article that shows another way that you might find useful.

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Grumpy old guy
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This is the start of the third chapter and, not having read the other two, I am completely confused and disoriented. A best practice is to include a very short synopsis of events prior to this scene; I don’t think that counts in the thirteen lines, but ask KDW to be sure.

So, there’s been a battle: How long ago, and was Yriel involved? Once I have a context I may be able to answer in a more in-depth manner, however, there are a few things I can point out immediately.

The prose is an obviously forced attempt at literary poetics. My advice would be to use common parlance first and then add lyricism later; if it’s needed at all, which it probably won’t be.

The opening sentence, in fact the entire first paragraph, is faux philosophic maunderings about the character’s premonition that he’s going to die a horrible death. There are a lot of better ways of saying it than is currently on the page.

I don’t know how many times you’ve nearly been killed by explosion, fire, toxic chemicals, etc. but the last thing you’re going to be doing is celebrating life or pondering your possible future messy demise.

The link JSchuler provided raises a useful point and illustrates one way in which to reduce horrendous tragedy to manageable proportions. However, in a scene dealing with a major battle involving thousands, you need to first show the scope and size of the catastrophe and then, like a camera lens, step the focus down to a part of the battlefield, and then the small stream that runs past a wizened oak, and the company of men laying all around it, and then a little closer as you focus on a small group of bodies scattered throughout the stream, and then a single man lying half in and half out of the water, eyes open, face distorted by death, and a family keepsake clutched in his cold, lifeless hand. Start with the panoramic and reduce it to the personal, making it intimate.

And he’s also correct when he says carrion is dead flesh, and it’s usually scattered all over a battlefield, while overhead, carrion eaters circle and gather—they’re called crows in English, btw. Crow means carrion eater.

Phil.

[ July 29, 2015, 08:15 AM: Message edited by: Grumpy old guy ]

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Iorveth
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Thanks for the advice guys, I'll post a synopsis and a revised thirteen after I hear back from KDW. I knew this thirteen needed some work, so I'm glad I got feedback on it.
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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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quote:
Originally posted by Grumpy old guy:
A best practice is to include a very short synopsis of events prior to this scene; I don’t think that counts in the thirteen lines, but ask KDW to be sure.

The first 13 lines applies only to actual manuscript (story) text.

Anything else: query letters, outlines, proposals, synopses, etc (which are not intended for publication, but only for editors and publishers to see) can be posted in full.

Sorry if this isn't clear. Will try to do something about making it clearer.

And thanks for asking first.

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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By the way, in my mind "KDW" has always referred to my dear, mourned friend K. D. Wentworth.

I prefer "kdw" in reference to me, if that's okay.

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Iorveth
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Thanks Kathleen, and sorry for the mix up.

Okay, so synopsis:

One year and five months have passed since Shanna's training scene. She has passed her final trial to become a Sentinel of the Gloom Wood and has been injured in a great battle against the Celithorn Empire. Rescued by her enemies, Shanna is taken across the sea to the fabled Kingdom of Celithorn.

On her journey, she becomes friends with Yriel Thuren, a mercenary hired to escort her on her journey to see the King's Ascendant personally. When the task is completed, they part ways, and Yriel and his knights travel across Celithorn toward the Raven's Veil Citadel in the Sundered Valley. Unfortunately, they discover that the province is already being torn apart by war.

There's a new thirteen in the initial post, by the way [Smile] .

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Grumpy old guy
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Three decades of warfare was a longtime to fight, even by an elf’s standards. This first sentence has a number of issues which, if addressed, will change the complexion of the opening that follows. First, longtime should be long time. Second, for me the phrase, even by an elf’s standards is redundant; we already know he’s an elf. Assuming that’s made clear in the previous chapter(s). Third, IMHO that phrase also makes the narrative (psychic) distance far too long for contemporary stories. It reads like something I’d find in Tolkein, or Lewis, or writers of that era.

If I were to change it to: Three decades of warfare is a long time to fight, Yriel thought., I would have a much shorter narrative distance and, IMO, more wiggle-room for exploring the battlefield from a character’s viewpoint rather than a narrator’s.

Note: The use of italics in the above thought is purely for clarity in this post. Personally, I never use italics, or any other text formatting for modes of thought or discourse in my manuscripts with the sole exception of telepathic communication. I still don't know why I use that convention, but I do.

A few days old battlefield—hmmm. The first thing you would notice would be the smell, particularly if the days had been warm. You would smell it from miles away and it’s a smell you’ll never forget. Second, most of the corpses would be covered by millions of flies that would ascend into the air in angry swarms each time a horse or rider came too close and disturbed them. Yum!

The biggest problem for me in the second paragraph is the choppy sentence structure of the opening four sentences, three of which start with the word ‘The’.

Just some random observations that may be of use. Might not be too.

Phil.

[ July 30, 2015, 01:56 AM: Message edited by: Grumpy old guy ]

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Grumpy old guy
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Kathleen--sorry--didn't know. In future I shall dutifully refer to you as The Supreme Goddess Kathleen [Smile]

Phil.

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Iorveth
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Right, made some changes to the most recent thirteen [Smile] .
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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Phil, "kdw" will be sufficient. [Roll Eyes]
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