Science Fiction Fantasy  
Go Back   Science Fiction Fantasy Chronicles: forums > Books and Writing > Aspiring Writers > Critiques

Critiques Post your writing here for critique and constructive criticism. YOU MUST HAVE A POST COUNT OF 30 TO POST A PIECE TO BE CRITIQUED.

Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Rate Thread
Old 29th June 2011, 01:06 PM   #1 (permalink)
---- Never Give Up ----
 
Christian Nash's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Greater Manchester
Posts: 588
Prologue (re-written on advice of sff)

This time it's under 1500 TJ, I promise.

I've taken on all the advice (or so I think) from the other one and also the other critiques received.

I didn't really know what I would gain from this website, but as a community it works. It serves to drive and inspire me. The information gained so far nothing short amazing!

Thanks in advance.


Prologue


When I’m a mighty Liberata, I won’t treat people like this, I won’t keep servants,
thought Vulgaris. Sick of cleaning warrior’s boots, and waiting on people, the young boy decided to sneak off. Peeping round the kitchen door, Vulgaris checked for any Liberata guards that might be patrolling the castle halls, but the coast remained clear. Taking his chance, Vulgaris darted out into the corridor, the ornate rugs soft on his bare feet.

Vulgaris had been through these halls many times, always with a destination in mind, but now he wished to lose himself. To try and find some kind of freedom. Pre-occupied, Vulgaris tripped on one of the rugs and cried out as he hit the floor head first. The rug doing nothing to lessen the pain that rattled through his skull.

The distinct sound of metal armour caused his head to snap up and a Liberata guard rounded the corner. Before Vulgaris could pick himself up, the man hesitated for a moment. Their eyes locked and Vulgaris assumed the worst. With the guard approaching, Vulgaris’ heart began to thump and he could feel the blood rush to his head. Vulgaris jumped to his feet, his legs taking over as he began to run.

Vulgaris couldn’t hear anyone behind him, but still didn’t want to risk being discovered. Determined to get as deep into the castle as possible he fumbled down the well crafted stone halls. Unfamiliar portraits and paintings of battles long since passed, catching his eye. They reminded him off what the Liberatos and their Wardens stood for. He had always been the model servant, but every time he heard Liberatos speaking about going overseas to Drekka, or warring against Slavers, it got him thinking more, wanting more.

Still only a boy, Vulgaris knew he couldn’t join the Liberatos yet, but it didn’t stop him from wanting to be like them. Guilt pricked at him though as he searched for somewhere to hide. The Liberatos had always been good to Vulgaris, and had taken him in when all else seemed lost. They fought against powerful city kings and yet still had the compassion and time to take on a lost soul. Vulgaris would never, could never forget their kindness. Killings and Slavery were common place in Utan, but the Liberatos stood a symbol of hope, and the white hand on their tabards - the hand of freedom.

Vulgaris kept running, frequently changing direction with every sound he thought he heard. He neared the end of a corridor and dull light seeped through stained glass windows. Looking from side to side he saw some stairs to the left so he headed there. His lungs tightened and his body all but told him that this was where it ended. A heavy oak door called to him from within the shadows, the few short steps leading to safety.

Forgetting to think about what might be on the other side, Vulgaris pushed the door open. The smell of leather welcoming him in as he shut the door. Like a throne, a dark leather chair sat under a narrow window and Vulgaris could see dust floating in the beams of light that teased the furniture with its glow. Looking past an unimpressive table, Vulgaris’ eyes were drawn to the back wall where full bookshelves decorated an otherwise empty room. The books created a painting of their own, red, blue and green covers stacked together in a complementary mismatch. Thick with knowledge, the books sported gold leaf titles that sparkled even in the limited light. His eyes widened.

Although self taught, Vulgaris loved nothing more than to read. And although he didn’t fully understand half of it, the fact that he was learning enough to keep him interested. Scanning the books he pulled one down named “Gods” and sat in the leather chair. Far too big for him, the chair seemed to dwarf his small body even further.

Vulgaris found it hard to read the small words in the book and looked about for anything that might help. Noticing a single wooden chest in the corner, he heaved himself out of the chair and made his way over. Pawing at the lock, it half opened giving him easy access. Vulgaris felt like clapping as he discovered some thin candle amongst six or so open scrolls. Flint had dropped to the bottom but soon found its way into his eager palms.

The candle came to life with only a few strikes of the flint and an orange sphere of light kindly touched on Vulgaris’ book of Gods. Submerged in both his book and the chair, he sat reading, and while he understood how people in Utan and the Liberatos saw their Gods, he remained confused to read about how different it seemed for the people in Drekka. Wishing there were more pictures, Vulgaris continued on.



Outside, the day gave way to night and Vulgaris had gone through a few candles by now. Sitting back down into his chair after relighting his last one, he picked up the same book about Gods and settled back down again. To his left something caught his eye and as he turned his head, a cold sweat came over him.

A Master Liberatos he knew as Equilibrium stood in the doorway. His stern and emotionless face studying Vulgaris like prey, but it soon changed. Vulgaris followed Equilibrium’s gaze and it landed on the open chest and before Vulgaris could open his mouth in defence, the man ran at him. Being a small room, Vulgaris had no time to react and as Equilibrium grabbed him by the throat, he froze.

“What’ve you seen?!” said Equilibrium, leaning in so close that the stubble on his face grated on Vulgaris’.

“No..th..” Vulgaris tried to speak.

“What’ve you seen?”

“Nothing sir, I just wanted to read about Gods...”

“What would a boy know about Gods..?”

“Nothing sir, I don’t even understand half of it...”

“Tell me your name or so help me or I’ll strangle you right now.”

“It’s Vulgaris, please don’t hurt me sir.”

“Does anyone know you’re here?”

“No...”

“Good, and what did you learn of the Gods from within my chest pray tell?”

“The one with the candles? It wasn’t locked fully, I didn’t break it or anything and I already found a book I wanted to read... I wasn’t interested in the chest I promise.”

“You shouldn’t be here!” Equilibrium said as he slapped Vulgaris across the face. The Liberatos’ callused hand causing more shock than damage.

“I'm sorry sir, can I go please. I won’t come again... I swear on Pan’Valas. Please sir.”

“Throwing the name of a God around like it means nothing? Do you even comprehend anything of what you’re reading?”

“I tried, but I don’t read so good...”

“Actually, I’m impressed you can read at all,” Equilibrium said as he slipped a dagger from his belt and held it against the young boy’s throat. “I’m going to ask you this one more time. Did you look at the scrolls in that chest?”

The blade pressed against his neck and Vulgaris could feel it dig in as he gulped. Warm blood trickled down into his loose shirt. Please let me go, please don't hurt me, thought Vulgaris.

“I didn’t look, all I got were candles,” Vulgaris said while Equilibrium looked him dead in the eyes. Judging him.

“That’s good then. I won’t have to kill you,” Equilibrium said, his face softening.

Kill me?”

“There’re things inside that chest that no one should know. How can I trust you won’t tell anyone?”

“Tell them what? I don’t know anything. Please let me go...”

Vulgaris feigned weakness, but as the words left his mouth he kicked out at Equilibrium. The Liberata Captain reared back and Vulgaris tried to get free of the leather chair. Equilibrium reacted far quicker than Vulgaris thought possible. Kicking out, his large boot connected, sending Vulgaris and the chair crashing into the wall. Expertly made, the leather took the impact well and Vulgaris lurched up with his fists raised.

“Boy, you amuse me,” said Equilibrium. “I’m sick of people grovelling at me feet all day. Got any more?”

“I won’t go down without a fight.”

“Good! I like that. I know, if you can prove your worth then how would you like to come to Drekka as my assistant? To take back the city of Basilica from the Slavers?”

“I... yes, please,” said Vulgaris, the blood on his throat forgotten and the blades sting a thing of the past.

- there is more but didnt want to go over 1500 words -

Last edited by Christian Nash; 29th June 2011 at 01:17 PM.
Christian Nash is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 29th June 2011, 02:10 PM   #2 (permalink)
ctg
weaver of the unseen
 
ctg's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Greater London
Posts: 3,404
Blog Entries: 1
Re: Prologue (re-written on advice of sff)

It flows well, and in places I think you should expect people niggling about the words you use. So, I don't think therefore that you would benefit from my deeper analysis in this one. There is just one thing, and it's your style of using stronger narrator voice than you should use in the light of modern prose. And as it's a stylish decision, I leave that worry to you.

Good luck.
ctg
ctg is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 29th June 2011, 07:14 PM   #3 (permalink)
ctg
weaver of the unseen
 
ctg's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Greater London
Posts: 3,404
Blog Entries: 1
Re: Prologue (re-written on advice of sff)

As I was saying to Christian I have noticed that when I cockup the artist shouts at me in public, but when I do some good, I get a private thank you. But in this case, as Christian requested, I will do a detailed critique. And you don't have to thank me in public.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Christian Nash View Post
Prologue


I would like you to take a look in previous threads that says prologue and think about what people says there in the regards of the prologue actually being the first chapter. As we don't know about more about your WiP, I let you to do decide if you want to go forward with a prologue rather than a first chapter.

Quote:

When I’m a mighty Liberata, I won’t treat people like this, I won’t keep servants,
thought Vulgaris.


Remove the highlighted bit and use the narrative to introduce the thinker.

Quote:
Sick of cleaning warrior’s boots, and waiting on people, the young boy decided to sneak off. Peeping round the kitchen door, Vulgaris checked for any Liberata guards that might be patrolling the castle halls, but the coast remained clear. Taking his chance, Vulgaris darted out into the corridor, the ornate rugs soft on his bare feet.
At here, if you would dive into the close third, you would reword the sentence from the beginning. Just subtly little differences.

Sick of cleaning warrior's boots and waiting on people, Vulgaris tossed aside his worn brush and looked around. There was nobody else around. Not even the chef's usual helper. As he peeped from kitchen's door, the coast remained clear. It felt almost as if the Liberatian's guardians had abandoned the castle.

This is it!

If you compare that to your own prose, you notice a difference, where yours is narrated from outside POV and mine dives into the character head. I try to keep that going as long as I'm writing in the third person perspective. And in that way the reader gets closer to the character, and if you establish it at the beginning of the work, the readers are more likely to fall for your character than them looking him or her or it from a distance. But then again, that is a matter of personal stylistic choices, like the one that you have done here.

Quote:
Quote:
Vulgaris had been through these halls many times, always with a destination in mind, but now he wished to lose himself. To try and find some kind of freedom. Pre-occupied, Vulgaris tripped on one of the rugs and cried out as he hit the floor head first. The rug doing nothing to lessen the pain that rattled through his skull.


I don't know why but I often read the I am legend and marvel the author's ability to use the gender word (he/she) in the place of a name. And more I read his work, more I feel the deeply connection to the unfortunate "omega" man, and that is all down the author's ability to write close third person POV.

So, as this is a stylistic choice, you should think how much you want to use Vulgaris and how much you want to use the gender name.

Personally I feel that as soon as you drop the name, and start using the gender, your prose will change to another direction, and that might mean another complete rewrite from much closer perspective. Also notice in the above example that out from a brief introduction, I try to stay out from using the name or even the gender word, and stick with the things that I can describe by using his senses/thoughts.

Quote:
Quote:
The distinct sound of metal armour caused his head to snap up and a Liberata guard rounded the corner. Before Vulgaris could pick himself up, the man hesitated for a moment. Their eyes locked and Vulgaris assumed the worst. With the guard approaching, Vulgaris’ heart began to thump and he could feel the blood rush to his head. Vulgaris jumped to his feet, his legs taking over as he began to run.


Nice tension. Could you add there inner monologue to give out subtle exposition?

Quote:
Quote:
Vulgaris couldn’t hear anyone behind him, but still didn’t want to risk being discovered. Determined to get as deep into the castle as possible he fumbled down the well crafted stone halls. Unfamiliar portraits and paintings of battles long since passed, catching his eye. They reminded him off what the Liberatos and their Wardens stood for. He had always been the model servant, but every time he heard Liberatos speaking about going overseas to Drekka, or warring against Slavers, it got him thinking more, wanting more.


This is what I'm talking about. Very nice. Beautiful exposition.

Quote:
Quote:
Still only a boy, Vulgaris knew he couldn’t join the Liberatos yet, but it didn’t stop him from wanting to be like them. Guilt pricked at him though as he searched for somewhere to hide. The Liberatos had always been good to Vulgaris, and had taken him in when all else seemed lost. They fought against powerful city kings and yet still had the compassion and time to take on a lost soul. Vulgaris would never, could never forget their kindness. Killings and Slavery were common place in Utan, but the Liberatos stood a symbol of hope, and the white hand on their tabards - the hand of freedom.


Why do you insist on using his name so much?


Sorry, I have to cut there as I need to run. Continuing tomorrow.


ctg is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 29th June 2011, 07:52 PM   #4 (permalink)
Never Sure
 
RJM Corbet's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Devon
Posts: 1,780
Blog Entries: 12
Re: Prologue (re-written on advice of sff)

Christian, I don't know how to critique properly, but I completely agree with you that this crit forum is EXTREMELY useful. It has definitely helped me improve my own work. Of course, the danger, as Boneman observes, is that when a writer is unsure of his work, or if it's in the early stages, the comments may distract him/her completely.

This does not appear be the case with you? So ...
This is the first paragraph, of the first page of your book? It matters a lot.
May I suggest:

Sick of cleaning warriors' boots and waiting on people, the young boy decided to sneak off. Peeping round the kitchen door, he checked for any guards that might be patrolling the halls. The coast was clear. Taking his chance, Vulgaris darted out into the corridor, the ornate rugs soft on his bare feet.

He had been through these castle halls many times, always with a destination in mind, but now he wished to lose himself -- to try and find some kind of freedom. Pre-occupied, he tripped on one of the rugs and cried out as his head hit the floor, the rug doing little to lessen the pain.

.. and you can take it from there, bearing ctg's always invaluable observations in mind.
(Boil it down, boil it down)

One of the contributors to these SFF forums has made an observation that I personally have taken to my bosom: A book is a marathon, not a sprint.
Regards

EDIT: Now isn't that strange? I hadn't even read ctg's crit when I posted mine. Sorry ctg/Christian. Great minds, etc ...

Last edited by RJM Corbet; 29th June 2011 at 08:34 PM.
RJM Corbet is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 29th June 2011, 09:58 PM   #5 (permalink)
Hex
Nice and splicey
 
Hex's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: City of Edinburgh
Posts: 3,160
Blog Entries: 36
Re: Prologue (re-written on advice of sff)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Christian Nash View Post


Prologue


When I’m a mighty Liberata, I won’t treat people like this, I won’t keep servants,
thought Vulgaris.
[He's a special sort of servant - I don't mean that in a bad way - to think about changing the social system rather than taking advantage of it for himself. Does that make sense? I also wonder how this revolutionary child is going to turn into the craven torturer's assistant we saw in your other piece. It's a really interesting situation, I think.]
Sick of cleaning warrior’s boots [warriors' - because it's more than one warrior], and waiting on people [ok I'm being fussy but: depending on when this is set and how many servants there are around, I wonder if the boy who cleans boots would also wait on people (my expectation would be that posher, better-dressed servants would be the ones who were seen, but I might be totally wrong) - maybe worth considering?], the young boy decided to sneak off. Peeping round the kitchen door, Vulgaris checked for any Liberata guards that might be patrolling the castle halls, but the coast remained clear. Taking his chance, Vulgaris darted out into the corridor, the ornate rugs soft on his bare feet.
[I like the image of the rugs being soft -beautifully written - but a bit confused about where he is - again, not sure but would there be ornate rugs right outside the kitchen? is anyone elegant likely to be there to admire them? aren't they likely to trip up kitchen workers taking food to people?]

Vulgaris had been through these halls many times, always with a destination in mind, but now he wished to lose himself. To try and find some kind of freedom. Pre-occupied, Vulgaris tripped on one of the rugs and cried out as he hit the floor head first. The rug doing nothing to lessen the pain that rattled through his skull. [like that. And just imagine how much worse if he'd been carrying a tray. My opinion would be that if you're looking to trim this passage you could lose the rugs and Vulgaris tripping altogether]

The distinct sound of metal armour caused his head to snap up and a Liberata guard rounded the corner. Before Vulgaris could pick himself up, the man hesitated for a moment. Their eyes locked and Vulgaris assumed the worst. With the guard approaching, Vulgaris’ heart began to thump and he could feel the blood rush to his head. Vulgaris jumped to his feet, his legs taking over as he began to run. [Vulgaris assumed the worst of what? could you be specific because I think that would be scarier and tell me more about the environment.
Also, I've said this before, I think, for me the name 'Vulgaris' appears too much. You could use 'he' sometimes without it getting confusing].


Vulgaris couldn’t hear anyone behind him, but still didn’t want to risk being discovered. Determined to get as deep into the castle as possible he fumbled down the well crafted stone halls ['fumbled' bothered me because it sounded a bit like he was blind]. [you have a full-stop here but that makes the next bit read rather strangely - I think, punctuation-wise, this should be a comma, ie: "...he fumbled down the well-crafted stone halls, unfamiliar portraits and paintings of battles....". The issue is that you use "catching his eye". If you'd said "Unfamiliar portraits and paintings of battles long past caught his eye", that would work as a separate sentence. One of the PunctuationGods will doubtless be along later so I'll leave that as a question]. Unfamiliar portraits and paintings of battles long since passed, catching his eye. They reminded him off [typo: 'of']what the Liberatos and their Wardens stood for. He had always been the model servant, but every time he heard Liberatos speaking about going overseas to Drekka, or warring against Slavers, it got him thinking more, wanting more.

Got to go! Hope some of that's vaguely useful and the rest doesn't get in the way too much.
Hex is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 30th June 2011, 06:50 AM   #6 (permalink)
The Ants are my friends..
 
J Riff's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: California
Posts: 2,017
Re: Prologue (re-written on advice of sff)

Once it gets going, use his full name a bit less perhaps. Vulgaris is a cool name, but he works just as well oncet we'all know who he is. * )
J Riff is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 30th June 2011, 03:07 PM   #7 (permalink)
ctg
weaver of the unseen
 
ctg's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Greater London
Posts: 3,404
Blog Entries: 1
Continued Critiqued

Quote:
Originally Posted by Christian Nash View Post
Vulgaris kept running, frequently changing direction with every sound he thought he heard. He neared the end of a corridor and dull light seeped through stained glass windows. Looking from side to side he saw some stairs to the left so he headed there. His lungs tightened and his body all but told him that this was where it ended. A heavy oak door called to him from within the shadows, the few short steps leading to safety.

Forgetting to think about what might be on the other side, Vulgaris pushed the door open. The smell of leather welcoming him in as he shut the door. Like a throne, a dark leather chair sat under a narrow window and Vulgaris could see dust floating in the beams of light that teased the furniture with its glow. Looking past an unimpressive table, Vulgaris’ eyes were drawn to the back wall where full bookshelves decorated an otherwise empty room. The books created a painting of their own, red, blue and green covers stacked together in a complementary mismatch. Thick with knowledge, the books sported gold leaf titles that sparkled even in the limited light. His eyes widened.


Wonderful imaginary. At the end when his eyes widens, you're moving from narrative inside the character. But...

Quote:
Quote:
Although self taught, Vulgaris loved nothing more than to read. And although he didn’t fully understand half of it, the fact that he was learning enough to keep him interested. Scanning the books he pulled one down named “Gods” and sat in the leather chair. Far too big for him, the chair seemed to dwarf his small body even further.


... you don't move there. Instead you stick with the narrator almost as if you're insisting that his personal thoughts doesn't matter. IF, and that's a strong if, you would dive inside his head to give those amazed thoughts, the readers would be pulled in, rather than left out to stare the movie like narrative. In the book business, you need to master that closer perspective and cleverly weave it into the story.

Quote:

Vulgaris found it hard to read the small words in the book and looked about for anything that might help. Noticing a single wooden chest in the corner, he heaved himself out of the chair and made his way over. Pawing at the lock, it half opened giving him easy access. Vulgaris felt like clapping as he discovered some thin candle amongst six or so open scrolls. Flint had dropped to the bottom but soon found its way into his eager palms.


I bet you would have to work real hard to get that light at the end of the candle with a flint. But then again, most of the readers wouldn't be notice this little detail, so you might get really easily away with it.

Quote:

The candle came to life with only a few strikes of the flint and an orange sphere of light kindly touched on Vulgaris’ book of Gods. Submerged in both his book and the chair, he sat reading, and while he understood how people in Utan and the Liberatos saw their Gods, he remained confused to read about how different it seemed for the people in Drekka. Wishing there were more pictures, Vulgaris continued on.


There are few occasions in the paragraph, where you trust that telling is good way to make forward. And there is nothing wrong with telling, if you know how and when to use it. In the other hand, if you want to add a little bit more content in the story, I would recommend to weave in a few personal thoughts.

Quote:
Outside, the day gave way to night and Vulgaris had gone through a few candles by now. Sitting back down into his chair after relighting his last one, he picked up the same book about Gods and settled back down again. To his left something caught his eye and as he turned his head, a cold sweat came over him.

A Master Liberatos he knew as Equilibrium stood in the doorway. His stern and emotionless face studying Vulgaris like prey, but it soon changed. Vulgaris followed Equilibrium’s gaze and it landed on the open chest and before Vulgaris could open his mouth in defence, the man ran at him. Being a small room, Vulgaris had no time to react and as Equilibrium grabbed him by the throat, he froze.


Throughout this piece the narrative has flowed really well, and as I pointed out earlier, it's the choice of style. As I'm still unpublished writer, I don't what is really the best, but at this point, where you raise the tension, I would like to see a little bit of more description. The point of Equilibrium running to the chest and then grabbing the boy from throat is very fast. Almost too fast, but then again, as you read the whole this in one go, it doesn't stand out. So, it's up to you, if you want to add there description.

Quote:
“What’ve you seen?!” said Equilibrium, leaning in so close that the stubble on his face grated on Vulgaris’.

“No..th..” Vulgaris tried to speak.

“What’ve you seen?”

“Nothing sir, I just wanted to read about Gods...”

“What would a boy know about Gods..?”


Add in the last line a little bit of description. Use facial description.

Quote:
Quote:
“Nothing sir, I don’t even understand half of it...”

“Tell me your name or so help me or I’ll strangle you right now.”


Add a little bit of description in the last line. Make him to raise a finger or something.

Quote:
“It’s Vulgaris, please don’t hurt me sir.”

“Does anyone know you’re here?”

“No...”


Add personal thoughts related description in the last line.

Quote:
“Good, and what did you learn of the Gods from within my chest pray tell?”
Quote:


“The one with the candles? It wasn’t locked fully, I didn’t break it or anything and I already found a book I wanted to read... I wasn’t interested in the chest I promise.”


Add description. Make him to point the chest.

Quote:
Quote:
“You shouldn’t be here!” Equilibrium said as he slapped Vulgaris across the face. The Liberatos’ callused hand causing more shock than damage.


Add rage facial/action description.

Quote:
Quote:
“I'm sorry sir, can I go please. I won’t come again... I swear on Pan’Valas. Please sir.”

“Throwing the name of a God around like it means nothing? Do you even comprehend anything of what you’re reading?”

“I tried, but I don’t read so good...”

“Actually, I’m impressed you can read at all,” Equilibrium said as he slipped a dagger from his belt and held it against the young boy’s throat. “I’m going to ask you this one more time. Did you look at the scrolls in that chest?”

The blade pressed against his neck and Vulgaris could feel it dig in as he gulped. Warm blood trickled down into his loose shirt. Please let me go, please don't hurt me, thought Vulgaris.


If you are in the close third you don't need always add thought tags because you're already using italics.

Quote:
“I didn’t look, all I got were candles,” Vulgaris said while Equilibrium looked him dead in the eyes. Judging him.

“That’s good then. I won’t have to kill you,” Equilibrium said, his face softening.

Kill me?”

“There’re things inside that chest that no one should know. How can I trust you won’t tell anyone?”

“Tell them what? I don’t know anything. Please let me go...”

Vulgaris feigned weakness, but as the words left his mouth he kicked out at Equilibrium. The Liberata Captain reared back and Vulgaris tried to get free of the leather chair. Equilibrium reacted far quicker than Vulgaris thought possible. Kicking out, his large boot connected, sending Vulgaris and the chair crashing into the wall. Expertly made, the leather took the impact well and Vulgaris lurched up with his fists raised.

“Boy, you amuse me,” said Equilibrium. “I’m sick of people grovelling at me feet all day. Got any more?”

“I won’t go down without a fight.”

“Good! I like that. I know, if you can prove your worth then how would you like to come to Drekka as my assistant? To take back the city of Basilica from the Slavers?”

“I... yes, please,” said Vulgaris, the blood on his throat forgotten and the blades sting a thing of the past.


Nothing else to add. Think about what I said, and if you don't agree, stick to your guns.



ctg is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 30th June 2011, 04:21 PM   #8 (permalink)
---- Never Give Up ----
 
Christian Nash's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Greater Manchester
Posts: 588
Re: Prologue (re-written on advice of sff)

Thank you everyone for having a look. And CTG, I think getting into the character's head more is something I would like to do so your advice is of great help.

You make me want to go everything I've written and pull it apart (in a good way) and this Prologue is now part of a complete 130k novel so in that respect I've got my hands full!
Christian Nash is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 30th June 2011, 05:01 PM   #9 (permalink)
Never Sure
 
RJM Corbet's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Devon
Posts: 1,780
Blog Entries: 12
Re: Prologue (re-written on advice of sff)

Yes, it's amazing that EVERYONE here has written at least one book. Some are now looking for a publisher, some have found one already. Some, like Teresa, have written all their lives. When I finished my book, I didn't know anyone else who had written a book.

One thing I've picked up from these forums is that the days are over when a writer could send a 'promising' manuscript to a publisher. Now the writer must first run the gauntlet of finding an agent, who wants it all ready and wrapped -- in Courier script incidentally -- and expects the writer to know that. Especially with SFF, which is not the easiest genre to get published.

The odd punctuation error might pass -- but basically they're just going to say: How could this guy send us work with wrong spellings and punctuation, etc? Is he new, or what? And that's it, that's the writer's one chance with that agent -- EVER -- with that particular book. It's no good correcting it and sending it back again.

It's sad, but it's true?
RJM Corbet is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 30th June 2011, 06:00 PM   #10 (permalink)
---- Never Give Up ----
 
Christian Nash's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Greater Manchester
Posts: 588
Re: Prologue (re-written on advice of sff)

Quote:
Originally Posted by RJM Corbet View Post
Yes, it's amazing that EVERYONE here has written at least one book. Some are now looking for a publisher, some have found one already. Some, like Teresa, have written all their lives. When I finished my book, I didn't know anyone else who had written a book.

One thing I've picked up from these forums is that the days are over when a writer could send a 'promising' manuscript to a publisher. Now the writer must first run the gauntlet of finding an agent, who wants it all ready and wrapped -- in Courier script incidentally -- and expects the writer to know that. Especially with SFF, which is not the easiest genre to get published.

The odd punctuation error might pass -- but basically they're just going to say: How could this guy send us work with wrong spellings and punctuation, etc? Is he new, or what? And that's it, that's the writer's one chance with that agent -- EVER -- with that particular book. It's no good correcting it and sending it back again.

It's sad, but it's true?
Stay positive, don't let it drag you down and never give up.
Christian Nash is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 30th June 2011, 07:15 PM   #11 (permalink)
within the depths
 
slack's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Russia
Posts: 239
Blog Entries: 4
Re: Prologue (re-written on advice of sff)

Pulled at random for your manuscript:
Quote:
The distinct sound of metal armour [what is the distinct sound? Does it clatter, ring hollow, bright, dull, does it fill the room with a great resonance? Concrete, sensory imagery is needed.] caused [him to turn his head] his head to snap up. [sound doesn't cause a head to snap up. This also sounds passive.] and [start new sentence] A Liberata guard rounded the corner. Before Vulgaris could pick himself up, the man hesitated for a moment. Their eyes locked and Vulgaris assumed the worst. With the guard approaching, Vulgaris’ heart began to thump [they always thump, unless you're dead] and he could feel the blood rush to his head.[rewrite as: He felt the blood rush to his head as his heart thumped harder. Maybe 'thundered' in place of 'thumped'.] Vulgaris jumped to his feet, his legs taking over [needless, wordy, obvious. Just get to the point, i.e., "Vulgaris leaped into a run." or "Vulgaris jumped to his feet and sprinted away."] as he began to run [questionable; how does someone start to run? they either run or they don't.]

[...]

Vulgaris kept running, [sprinted, raced, hurried are all more vivid and concise. Here's a lesson from Strunk & White: "Vigorous writing is concise." Trim away the wordiness and you will have fresh, energetic prose.] frequently changing direction with every sound he thought he heard. [every sound of what? Clarify.] He neared the end of a corridor and [where] dull light [dull description, too. Consider dropping 'dull', or if you must describe the light, find something more visual] seeped [good word choice] through stained glass windows. Looking from side to side he saw some stairs to the left so he headed there. [He paused, gulping for air, and saw stairs to his left. He hurried up them.] His lungs tightened and his body all but told him that this was where it ended. A heavy oak door called to him from within the shadows, the few short steps leading to safety.

slack is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 30th June 2011, 07:41 PM   #12 (permalink)
Hex
Nice and splicey
 
Hex's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: City of Edinburgh
Posts: 3,160
Blog Entries: 36
Re: Prologue (re-written on advice of sff)

slack's comments are helpful and to the point. However, I'd like to disagree with one and put in a word for "dull light" - I thought it created a very strong, evocative image.

Edited to say: I do wonder about the trade off between being concise and having an individual style/ voice for your character. I've been worrying about it while editing.

Last edited by Hex; 30th June 2011 at 07:53 PM.
Hex is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 30th June 2011, 08:40 PM   #13 (permalink)
Hex
Nice and splicey
 
Hex's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: City of Edinburgh
Posts: 3,160
Blog Entries: 36
Re: Prologue (re-written on advice of sff)

Still only a boy, Vulgaris knew he couldn’t join the Liberatos yet, [this is a long way round to make the point that he's too young to join them - and it doesn't tell us about the Liberatos rules - or how old Vulgaris is - what about being more specific, e.g. "Vulgaris knew he couldn't join the Liberatos until he was fourteen"?] but it didn’t stop him from wanting to be like them. [be like them how?] Guilt pricked at him though as he searched for somewhere to hide. The Liberatos had always been good to Vulgaris, and had taken him in when all else seemed lost.[nice and evocative but again you could be saying so much about his past - e.g. when his mother had died/ when his village had been burnt to the ground by goblins] They fought against powerful city kings and yet still had the compassion and time to take on a lost soul. Vulgaris would never, could never [I'd put a comma here] forget their kindness. Killings and Slavery [and I wouldn't capitalise the s] were common place [commonplace - one word, I think] in Utan, but the Liberatos stood a symbol of hope, and the white hand on their tabards - the hand of freedo [there's something a bit strange about the bit in red - got to go but re-read it and see if you think so too].

Hex is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 30th June 2011, 08:56 PM   #14 (permalink)
ctg
weaver of the unseen
 
ctg's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Greater London
Posts: 3,404
Blog Entries: 1
Re: Prologue (re-written on advice of sff)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hex View Post
Edited to say: I do wonder about the trade off between being concise and having an individual style/ voice for your character. I've been worrying about it while editing.
In theory, the ideal case is to have individual voice for each and everyone of your characters, but in the practice, it's never going to happen. Not even if you're a brilliant, best selling, megastar. Take example in your hand Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park and read it from cover-to-cover. There are characters from different countries, and yet, most of them sounds more and less like each other. What makes them different is the personalisation and the individual knowledge on the situation in hand. Rest is pure storytelling, where late Mister Crichton weaves in a narrator to the close third POV. The characters talk about things they know, and in some case, do heroics that in real life would had ended sadly.

What I'm saying to you guys is that you might want to get published, and you might even grumble about the current situation, but unless you're really prepared to see that you're raw talents then you don't have any chance out there. And at the end, it is you who have to do the work, and to be really honest, I have over few years read a lot of excerpts in here and not all of them are so great.

So guys, be humble and practice till the day you get published. And at the day you get published, you learn how much you have actually learned.

It is the story that matters to the publishers and the public.
ctg is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 30th June 2011, 10:04 PM   #15 (permalink)
Hex
Nice and splicey
 
Hex's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: City of Edinburgh
Posts: 3,160
Blog Entries: 36
Re: Prologue (re-written on advice of sff)

Yes. I've failed to be clear again. Must try harder.

I meant that sometimes - maybe - the narrator voice doesn't completely obey guidelines about the most elegant way to write.

A dramatic example would be Irvine Welsh, I suppose, who wrote parts of Trainspotting in Edinburgh-Scots with a lot of swearing and er... 'colourful' language that characterised the individual voices but wasn't straightforward, concise and beautiful English.

And there are lots of examples of wonderful books where the author wanders off on pointless details and doesn't use a concise or tight sort of style, although admittedly most of the examples that occur to me are fairly old.

It's also worth having hope. The difficulty of getting published is hammered home with a fair amount of regularity around here. We should, of course, learn to write as well as we can, but it's possible to spend all your time trying to get better and never attempting to get anything published.

Plus, of course, with all due respect to you, ctg, people have personal styles and personal tastes, and some people (especially me) will never be able to write in the way you prefer. But I'm pretty sure I'll get some fiction published one of these days
Hex is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are Off



All times are GMT +1. The time now is 05:46 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
SEO by vBSEO 3.6.0 PL2 ©2011, Crawlability, Inc.