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Author Topic: Writing Stories  (Read 4265 times)

Theoclymenus

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Writing Stories
« on: July 26, 2008, 10:38:01 am »

Hi guys, I am in the process of writing a fantasy story and would love if a couple of people could read the twenty pages I have written so far. I need some constructive criticism and feedback on what works well in the story.

If anyone shows interest I will upload the pdf of what I have done so far for people to read. I like to think that one day I will manage to finish it (In theory it's the start of a trilogy) mostly for my own benefit.

The story is about a girl who ascends to godhood through a series of events revolving around her being chosen to learn magic. In the process of this she becomes immune to a force pervading the land that causes magic to be constricted to very arbitrary spells with costly components and lengthy rituals. Towards the end she will find out what this force is and will have to choose what to do about it.

EDIT: Here is the link: http://www.2shared.com/file/3656428/1a365467/Dhen_I_-_Broken_By_Choice.html
It needs plenty of editing and I am going through it with a friend at the moment. Feedback greatly appreciated but please keep in mind that it needs work - most focus has been put on the plot at the moment, rather than grammar.
« Last Edit: July 28, 2008, 05:40:45 pm by Theoclymenus »
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Bullion

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Re: Writing a Story
« Reply #1 on: July 26, 2008, 11:25:11 am »

I wouldn't mind if you uploaded, I seem to spend quite a bit of time rating writing.
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Theoclymenus

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Re: Writing a Story
« Reply #2 on: July 26, 2008, 11:27:08 am »

Brilliant, I will upload it once I have cleaned up what I have done so far (some bits of it are first pass). Should get it up within a few hours.
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Helmaroc

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Re: Writing a Story
« Reply #3 on: July 26, 2008, 11:36:26 am »

I'll read it.
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Theoclymenus

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Re: Writing a Story
« Reply #4 on: July 26, 2008, 12:25:53 pm »

Link = up
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Gigalith

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Re: Writing a Story
« Reply #5 on: July 26, 2008, 01:15:47 pm »

OK, this is a rather large sample you've given, so I'm going to have to break my review down in parts. Also, an apology if my criticism seems personally harsh, if it does I'm not intending it to be.

First, there is a lot of unnecessary detail. I did that when I first wrote the first chapter of my second attempt at a first novel. I know, there's all those cool extras and reasons why everything is this way or that way (in my case, it was that everything was blue because of a clerical error), but the reader doesn't need to know it right away unless it's plot-relevant.

For example, we don't need to know about the exact types and qualities of food that the people in Erodale eat just yet on page 1 where no one is eating. The fact that there was a plague is important, and  deserves its place.

Aside: It's important that every sentence has a purpose. What do you want the mood in the town to be? Rural? It seems rural enough right now as I'm reading it. But is there an undertone of discrimination? Or is it just all peaceful? Or both? It's a much better use of sentences to establish the mood than to talk about the obscurer parts of the world's lore.

Actually, I notice that you're really cramming information in. My honest opinion is that you should decide what's all that important and what isn't. You mention that Quina has a color-changed chawile feather in a parenthetical remark. Now, is this an important thing? If so, it shouldn't be parenthetical, for the reader might just run over it. Is it an unimportant thing? Then what is it doing here?

Two: You really need to vary your words. You use the words marsh or marshy about 4-5 times on page 2, and the exact phrase "marshy fields" is used twice. This is bad, because it makes reading monotonous.

I'll try to find time to read more, but that's all for now. Keep writing no matter what.

EDIT: More! Three: As far as you I have read, every instance of the word 'choice' is bold. Now, this is actually the sort of step that shows that you have a powerful vision in mind. However, bold letters will stand out and make it annoying to read. (See: the headache-causing horror of Septimus Heap.) Try using a different font or italics.

In addition, are you going to do this for the entire book? If so, it will lose its novelty fast.
« Last Edit: July 26, 2008, 01:21:07 pm by Gigalith »
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Theoclymenus

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Re: Writing a Story
« Reply #6 on: July 26, 2008, 01:21:26 pm »

Whoa, thanks for the tip about the marsh overuse, that's pretty bad. Normally I vary my words but since I take it on a sentence by sentence basis I tend to miss things like that. The first page is the only one that my friend and I have gone over fully. The overuse of information is important because I am trying to give the impression of Quina's rambling mind that thinks too much, it becomes important later on. I'll try to make that idea clearer as I go.

Thanks a lot!

EDIT: I was actually going to remove the choice idea. It was a thought I had right at the start and I think that a greater sense of vision can be had with the quotes under the chapter numbers. I will probably remove the bold in my next edit.

And yes, the feather is important so I will restructure that part when I get there.
« Last Edit: July 26, 2008, 01:23:31 pm by Theoclymenus »
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Gigalith

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Re: Writing a Story
« Reply #7 on: July 26, 2008, 01:36:29 pm »

You're welcome.

If you want to give the impression of over-thinking, there are better ways. If it was narrated from first person I would think that she would be detail-obsessed, but then again it would still be far too much to digest. If you want to keep your current narration-style, then perhaps you should show her having wandering thoughts.

And while I'm here and posting this, another piece of advice from someone who is writing a novel. Be prepared for major rewrites. About every hundreds-hundred-fifty or pages I've found that I 'level up' and increase in writing quality. Stuff that you think is great when you first write it you may come back to and say "What was I thinking!?" I know it's happened to me a lot.

EDIT: All right, I'm on page seven now. So I'm getting the impression that the gods/goddesses of the world will take petty revenge. If this is something unique to this world, you may want to step it up/mention it somehow far earlier. That will help separate your book from Tolkien High Fantasy Clone #37. In this day and age, you can assume that fantasy novels are generic cliches unless proven otherwise. I'm not saying your novel is, but you want to make sure that your unique elements shine as soon as possible to pull the reader in.
« Last Edit: July 26, 2008, 01:43:29 pm by Gigalith »
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Theoclymenus

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Re: Writing a Story
« Reply #8 on: July 26, 2008, 01:42:40 pm »

Yeah, I'll give it a little trim and make sure it looks like Quina's thoughts. As for the levelling up idea, I definitly agree with that and sort of look forward to it. Making it more and more shiny (and super special awesome) is good!
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Kagus

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Re: Writing a Story
« Reply #9 on: July 26, 2008, 02:17:34 pm »

Technically speaking, "marsh" is the only word for a marsh.  Bogs are different, swamps are different, and fens are different.  I suppose you could just call it "wet".  Or perhaps "squishy".

Heavy Flak

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Re: Writing a Story
« Reply #10 on: July 26, 2008, 03:01:14 pm »

I've got a couple things to work on here at home, but I was planning to sit down and give this a read through and offer my thoughts as well.  Consider this space saved, since I'll wipe out all this text and replace it with thoughts once I've got a free moment.
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Theoclymenus

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Re: Writing a Story
« Reply #11 on: July 27, 2008, 05:34:31 am »

Thanks guys, it's great to have a few people reading it.

There's a couple of changes to the version I uploaded (aside from the hundreds of grammar ones):
"Chickens wobbled out of the way..." - There aren't chickens in the world. I used the word as a placeholder for another creature that would have a similar purpose.
I have removed the bolding of the word 'choice', prefering the sense of purpose that I hope the chapter quotes give. These quotes have two purposes: firstly, they are to add to a sense of mystery, giving information about the plot from a person who has more information than Quina. Secondly, they are so that I can explore the lore of the land in a small space where it won't clutter up the story too much - I have come up with most of the important history of the world, the ascendence of the gods being the most important.
Dhen uses a base seven numeral system based around the night sky, which has seven galaxies visible (And I mean big ones, not the tiny things we can see because they are so far away). This is shown in the clock which runs in the learning-town and also will be revealed in the chapter numbers. I need to hand draw those at some point and scan them in.
I have now written up the whole plot to the book in summary format split between three main arcs, it should allow me to reduce a feeling of railroading which might build up otherwise.

Do other people think it is necessary to have sections that aren't from Quina's perspective? Or do people think I can carry on like it is now?

Thanks again guys!
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Pnx

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Re: Writing a Story
« Reply #12 on: July 27, 2008, 10:16:20 am »

I'll probably get around to reading it sometime, I've always considered myself something of a connoisseur when it comes to stories, maybe I'll put this to the test.
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Theoclymenus

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Re: Writing a Story
« Reply #13 on: July 28, 2008, 05:42:25 am »

EDIT: All right, I'm on page seven now. So I'm getting the impression that the gods/goddesses of the world will take petty revenge. If this is something unique to this world, you may want to step it up/mention it somehow far earlier. That will help separate your book from Tolkien High Fantasy Clone #37. In this day and age, you can assume that fantasy novels are generic cliches unless proven otherwise. I'm not saying your novel is, but you want to make sure that your unique elements shine as soon as possible to pull the reader in.
Okay... when have you read a fantasy book that laid out all of the cards on the table in the first few pages? The gods and goddesses have enough backstory to write a prologue about their ascendency and in the current book I would much rather slowly reveal the truth behind them and their pettiness (along with other things that will come up, I could spoil things in this thread but am not sure I want to...)
About all I can do as a comprimise is to insert a little bit more information about them in one of the chapter quotes. However, I am certain there is a line about them ascending, something that gives a hint to their pettiness - their original mortality.
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Little

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Re: Writing a Story
« Reply #14 on: July 28, 2008, 03:19:34 pm »

Can I post a story here?  :)
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