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Author Topic: [story] Bronze Wall - 1  (Read 746 times)

LuckyNinja

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[story] Bronze Wall - 1
« on: August 31, 2011, 01:07:08 pm »

Please tell me what you think of it, criticism for a guy with rusty writing skills greatly appreciated! This is a writing project I've been working on for when I have the time. It's a low-key Steampunk AU set in Mali.


Quote
21 JUNE, 1888

   Grey observed the room quietly from his corner, just another secretive adventurer passing through the churning gates of Timbuktu.
All around him swirled other patrons, dancing, mingling, feuding. Across his table, Zéphyrine was upright, stiff like a soldier, armed with
pen and paper. She looked at the slight englishman before her, her mouth twinging in subtle disgust at his groomed wild hair and
practised fool's grin. His features were roguish too, proudly wearing his weather-worn face, slightly-greying hair only adding to his boyish charm.

   "It's unlike you to be this quiet, Brown. Shouldn't you be up having the ladies fall about your feet?" came her petite voice, flawlessly
hiding her french accent.. Brown's eyes snapped to hers, eyeing up her angled features with a measured playfulness before replying.

   "Shouldn't you be acquainting yourself with the charming officers? Capturing a city's hard, and I'm sure you'd be able to provide them
with some relaxing entertainment. His Majesty's men would love to get their hands on you." Zéphyrine lurched forwards, low on the table, predatory.
Her voice fell into a deathly whisper, french accent unleashed.

   "Zey would 'ave never gotten zis close were eet not for you, and now my bruzzers lay slaughtered, and my sisters are being raped by
your king's men! J'aurais dû tués vous! " Her flare of anger caught wary stares from passing patrons, but Grey encouraged their
passing witha display of resting his revolver on the table. His cold grey eyes trained on those who dared to be defiant. When the last of
them edged away, heturned back towards Zéphyrine.

   "We're mercenaries, Zéph, working the grey line of morality. If His Majesty wants to carve a piece out of France for the United Technocracy, it's
not our job to ponder the morals, it's our job to get their jobs done. Besides, I'd say it's a fair revenge for the second Leipzig." Zéphyrine's eyes
narrowed into hawk-like slits, but before she could reply, the heavy hiss of smoke roared past her. Startled, she instinctively whipped around, drawing
 her pocket revolver and aiming it at the origin of the noise.

   He was a heavy-set man, primly dressed in officer attire. Where lay his left arm once a bizarre contraption of cogs and pistons that
imitated it nowtook its place. It moaned against movement, rattling as it vented steam periodically. He was wearily unfazed by Zéphyrine's
dramatic display, and calmly heaved his mechanical arm to sweep her gun away.

   "Madam Jocelyn, a pleasure to see you as always. Captain Brown!" he grinned, turning towards to face Grey, Zéphyrine all but forgotten in his mind.

   "General Tristram, a pleasure as always." Grey sidled out of the tight booth to stand up and shake the balding man's hand, deftly slotting his
revolver back in place. "To what do we owe the pleasure?"
   
The unmistakable jingle of coins was the answer, an unmarked leather pouch pulled seamlessly from a hidden pocket within Tristram's
waistcoat. He handed it over to Grey, who immediately threw it to Zéphyrine. With trained dexterity she caught the bag, opening it
and began scrutinising its contents, her revolver now firmly in its holster.
   
"Oh come now Brown," he wheezed with a wolfish grin, "we've worked together for so long now, don't you trust me?"
   
"No. Strictly business," came the sharp response. A brief moment of uneasiness swept over the three, and Tristram shifted his
weight and stretched, hisleft arm heaving in protest. The tension grew, weaving through their minds like smoke, gnawing at the
edges, picking on the fringes.
 
 "Fake." Barrels bore down upon Grey and Zéphyrine before the word had finished escaping her lips. Grey instinctively backed away,
hand making for his holster, but a brutish arm grabbed him and he was forced back to his seat. Grey was now suddenly flanked by
two men in khaki uniform, both wielding Enfield-Mauser rifles, grim solemness across their faces. All around them the tavern fell into
a hush, the instruments hanging, patrons frozen stiff. Some of the off-duty soldiers drunkenly scrambled for their rifles which were
nowhere to be found. Only the hiss of Tristram's arm broke the silence.
 
 "Why?" was all that Grey managed to mumble, his words heavy and loud in the quiet room, which felt more smaller, more claustrophobic, with
every passing second. Tristram chuckled after a pause, a deep, throaty mockery.
 
 "Business, old chap." He leaned closer, like inspecting specimens. Grey could feel the brandy on his breath. "You're far more valuable dead
than alive. Four thousand mark bounty on your head. Germany's practically begging for your corpse. Men," Tristram brought himself back
up to his diminutive height as the two soldiers stilled their rifles. Grey stared intensely at the soldier opposite him. A flash of knowing
crept across his face. He turned slowly towards the general, settling himself into his trademark unnerving calm, and smiled a lopsided grin.
 
 "Fire!"
   
There was a blur of movement, and the heavy stench of gunpowder filled the room.
« Last Edit: September 04, 2011, 03:38:10 pm by LuckyNinja »
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Supermikhail

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Re: [story] Bronze Wall - 1
« Reply #1 on: September 02, 2011, 10:43:29 am »

1 sentence reviews: "Throughly confusing!"

Could use some "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..." And a bit more introduction of the characters. Well, more introduction in general. They start spouting names, places and events in the second paragraph, and you get the impression of stumbling upon a conversation in its middle, and concerning the politics... well, of some faraway African country. If I take it for a beginning rightly.
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LuckyNinja

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Re: [story] Bronze Wall - 1
« Reply #2 on: September 02, 2011, 02:27:31 pm »

1 sentence reviews: "Throughly confusing!"

Could use some "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..." And a bit more introduction of the characters. Well, more introduction in general. They start spouting names, places and events in the second paragraph, and you get the impression of stumbling upon a conversation in its middle, and concerning the politics... well, of some faraway African country. If I take it for a beginning rightly.

Quote
Could use some "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..."
:  Examples?


Quote
Well, more introduction in general
: In media res, next chapter properly introduces some of the characters, and give a better idea of the setting.


Quote
some faraway African country
:
It's a low-key Steampunk AU set in Mali.


Anyway, thanks for taking the time to comment!



Also, I don't know if the formatting makes it a bit harder to read (thus follow) but it was more compact when I first typed it up, if people find it easier to read with less words/line I will happily reformat it.
« Last Edit: September 02, 2011, 02:32:22 pm by LuckyNinja »
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Willfor

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Re: [story] Bronze Wall - 1
« Reply #3 on: September 02, 2011, 02:41:56 pm »

A better format for the internet is to place a space in between every paragraph. Like so:

Quote
21 JUNE, 1868

   Grey observed the room quietly from his corner, just another secretive adventurer passing through the churning gates of Timbuktu. All around him swirled other patrons, dancing, mingling, feuding. Across his table, Zéphyrine was upright, stiff like a soldier, armed with pen and paper. She looked at the slight englishman before her, her mouth twinging in subtle disgust at his groomed wild hair and practised fool's grin. His features were roguish too, proudly wearing his weather-worn face, slightly-greying hair only adding to his boyish charm.

   "It's unlike you to be this quiet, Brown. Shouldn't you be up having the ladies fall about your feet?" came her petite voice, flawlessly hiding her french accent.. Brown's eyes snapped to hers, eyeing up her angled features with a measured playfulness before replying.

   "Shouldn't you be acquainting yourself with the charming officers? Capturing a city's hard, and I'm sure you'd be able to provide them with some relaxing entertainment. His Majesty's men would love to get their hands on you." Zéphyrine lurched forwards, low on the table, predatory. Her voice fell into a deathly whisper, french accent unleashed.

   "Zey would 'ave never gotten zis close were eet not for you, and now my bruzzers lay slaughtered, and my sisters are being raped by your king's men! J'aurais dû tués vous! " Her flare of anger caught wary stares from passing patrons, but Grey encouraged their passing with a display of resting his revolver on the table. His cold grey eyes trained on those who dared to be defiant. When the last of them edged away, he turned back towards Zéphyrine.

   "We're mercenaries, Zéph, working the grey line of morality. If His Majesty wants to carve a piece out of France for the United Technocracy, it's not our job to ponder the morals, it's our job to get their jobs done. Besides, I'd say it's a fair revenge for the second Leipzig." Zéphyrine's eyes narrowed into hawk-like slits, but before she could reply, the heavy hiss of smoke roared past her. Startled, she instinctively whipped around, drawing her pocket revolver and aiming it at the origin of the noise.

   He was a heavy-set man, primly dressed in officer attire. Where lay his left arm once a bizarre contraption of cogs and pistons that imitated it now took its place. It moaned against movement, rattling as it vented steam periodically. He was wearily unfazed by Zéphyrine's dramatic display, and calmly heaved his mechanical arm to sweep her gun away.

   "Madam Jocelyn, a pleasure to see you as always. Captain Brown!" he grinned, turning towards to face Grey, Zéphyrine all but forgotten in his mind.

   "General Tristram, a pleasure as always." Grey sidled out of the tight booth to stand up and shake the balding man's hand, deftly slotting his revolver back in place. "To what do we owe the pleasure?"

   The unmistakable jingle of coins was the answer, an unmarked leather pouch pulled seamlessly from a hidden pocket within Tristram's waistcoat. He handed it over to Grey, who immediately threw it to Zéphyrine. With trained dexterity she caught the bag, opening it and began scrutinising its contents, her revolver now firmly in its holster.

   "Oh come now Brown," he wheezed with a wolfish grin, "we've worked together for so long now, don't you trust me?"

   "No. Strictly business," came the sharp response. A brief moment of uneasiness swept over the three, and Tristram shifted his weight and stretching, his left arm heaving in protest. The tension grew, weaving through their minds like smoke, gnawing at the edges, picking on the fringes.

   "Fake." Barrels bore down upon Grey and Zéphyrine before the word had finished escaping her lips. Grey instinctively backed away, hand making for his holster, but a brutish arm grabbed him and he was forced back to his seat. Grey was now suddenly flanked by two men in khaki uniform, both wielding Enfield-Mauser rifles, grim solemness across their faces. All around them the tavern fell into a hush, the instruments hanging, patrons frozen stiff. Some of the off-duty soldiers drunkenly scrambled for their rifles which were nowhere to be found. Only the hiss of Tristram's arm broke the silence.

   "Why?" was all that Grey managed to mumble, his words heavy and loud in the quiet room, which felt more smaller, more claustrophobic, with every passing second. Tristram chuckled after a pause, a deep, throaty mockery.

   "Business, old chap." He leaned closer, like inspecting specimens. Grey could feel the brandy on his breath. "You're far more valuable dead than alive. Four thousand mark bounty on your head. Prussia's practically begging for your corpse. Men," Tristram brought himself back up to his diminutive height as the two soldiers stilled their rifles. Grey stared intensely at the soldier opposite him. A flash of knowing crept across his face. He turned slowly towards the general, settling himself into his trademark unnerving calm, and smiled a lopsided grin.

   "Fire!"

   There was a blur of movement, and the heavy stench of gunpowder filled the room.

This is because that unlike paper, reading things on the internet has a lot more chance to blur together if you have no space in between them.

Also, things like "came her petite voice" and "he grinned" draw the focus of the reader to the dialogue tags, and can easily distract from how solid your dialogue actually is. "he said", "she said" are standard because they become invisible to the reader, but can become instantly useful if the reader has become lost in the dialogue. I'll have to read it again to see if it's far too noticeable, but it's usually good to assume that it is.
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In the wells of livestock vans with shells and garden sands /
Iron mixed with oxygen as per the laws of chemistry and chance /
A shape was roughly human, it was only roughly human /
Apparition eyes / Apparition eyes / Knock, apparition, knock / Eyes, apparition eyes /

LuckyNinja

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Re: [story] Bronze Wall - 1
« Reply #4 on: September 02, 2011, 03:19:37 pm »


Also, things like "came her petite voice" and "he grinned" draw the focus of the reader to the dialogue tags, and can easily distract from how solid your dialogue actually is. "he said", "she said" are standard because they become invisible to the reader, but can become instantly useful if the reader has become lost in the dialogue. I'll have to read it again to see if it's far too noticeable, but it's usually good to assume that it is.


It may just be because it's 1am over here, or just because I'm stupid, but I'm finding the last bit a wee bit unclear. To my understanding, what you're saying is : first sentence, from what I gather, is saying using "came her petite voice" breaks the flow of conversation, and that using "he said, she said" works better because it doesn't break said flow?
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Willfor

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Re: [story] Bronze Wall - 1
« Reply #5 on: September 02, 2011, 03:44:44 pm »


Also, things like "came her petite voice" and "he grinned" draw the focus of the reader to the dialogue tags, and can easily distract from how solid your dialogue actually is. "he said", "she said" are standard because they become invisible to the reader, but can become instantly useful if the reader has become lost in the dialogue. I'll have to read it again to see if it's far too noticeable, but it's usually good to assume that it is.


It may just be because it's 1am over here, or just because I'm stupid, but I'm finding the last bit a wee bit unclear. To my understanding, what you're saying is : first sentence, from what I gather, is saying using "came her petite voice" breaks the flow of conversation, and that using "he said, she said" works better because it doesn't break said flow?
I am sometimes not as clear as I'd like. This is a weakness in my own writing.

Yes, that's kind of what I was saying, but it's not really the flow that's the reason. Your flow might need a little bit of work as well, but this is more about what is grabbing the attention of the reader. I probably would have wrote it more like this:

"It's unlike you to be this quiet," she said to Brown. "Shouldn't you be up having the ladies fall about your feet?"

It identifies who she is talking to without putting it in the dialogue, and the dialogue attribution ["she said to brown"] doesn't make itself stand out as the important thing to read in the sentence. It gives the same information but at a lower priority. The important thing that she's trying to say is that Brown should be out having a good time.

You see, whenever a reader has to stop and read something with their conscious mind, that thing should be what you're trying to tell them about. People don't actually read "he said" or "she said" consciously, it's more of a "back of the mind" thing. It gives context, but it never jumps out. When you use other words to do the same thing, the brain has to stop assuming they are "he said/she said", and actually read them.
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In the wells of livestock vans with shells and garden sands /
Iron mixed with oxygen as per the laws of chemistry and chance /
A shape was roughly human, it was only roughly human /
Apparition eyes / Apparition eyes / Knock, apparition, knock / Eyes, apparition eyes /

LuckyNinja

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Re: [story] Bronze Wall - 1
« Reply #6 on: September 02, 2011, 03:51:43 pm »

Seen. I won't update the original text, but I will make use of this for all future chapters, make it a sort-of milestone project, for lack of better words, to see how much I've improved my writing abilities.
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Willfor

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Re: [story] Bronze Wall - 1
« Reply #7 on: September 02, 2011, 04:02:46 pm »

Seen. I won't update the original text, but I will make use of this for all future chapters, make it a sort-of milestone project, for lack of better words, to see how much I've improved my writing abilities.
That's the best way to do it. Starting to revise what you've already written tends to bring a lot of people out of the creative process. Revision is for when you have finished, if you intend to try to sell it.
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In the wells of livestock vans with shells and garden sands /
Iron mixed with oxygen as per the laws of chemistry and chance /
A shape was roughly human, it was only roughly human /
Apparition eyes / Apparition eyes / Knock, apparition, knock / Eyes, apparition eyes /