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Author Topic: ___/The Writer's Apprenticeship\___  (Read 200033 times)

Th4DwArfY1

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Re: ___/The Writer's Apprenticeship\___
« Reply #1785 on: May 07, 2018, 07:44:43 am »

There are no jarring gaps in the narrative, nor confusing paragraphs except the second, where it is unclear how Garland is holding his sword over the man's chest, if they are both standing, or who the man is. Even now I am not sure whether the Chair was on his knees or lying on the ground.
Surely this is mainly irrelevant?

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For a moment, Garland comes across as murdering brigand as he is looking for a different weapon to kill his victim with. Had I not read “Oh, also, on the Knight-gets-passionate trope: have a Garland” I would have assumed that he was a brigand and then I would have had a sudden stop to wonder if a “Parliamentarian Knight” was equivalent to a vigilante or a rebel.

The exposition of who the Chair is slowed the story in a way the exposition about the Parliamentarian Knights did not, which was relevant as Garland was delaying his actions to consider the conundrum he was in as a Knight. It is better placed elsewhere, either at the beginning, the blade he held over the Parliamentarian Chair's chest, or ahead when he calls him Sir Chair.
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“the Chair cut off, and Garland opened his eyes” seems odd to me. I think it is meant to say that the Chair stopped because Garland looked at him, but the the is not capitalized and it makes “cut off” a dialog tag like said, so it reads like the Chair speaks and afterward Garland opens his eyes.
The Chair spoke. Then trailed off, fear sort of being implied. Then Garland opened his eyes, his contemplation interrupted.

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The Chair might have moved his hand quickly, but why did he have the chance speak a few sentences? Did Garland stop lunging? The Chair seems overconfident that he will be safe despite enough time passing for Garland to just kill him.
I wouldn't have thought this was problematic. The Chair has crushed the crystal, so knows the Constables are coming. Garland has seen the crushed crystal, so there's no point in him continuing to lunge towards him. By lunge I don't mean with his sword - more a quick attempt at grabbing. Probably should have made that more apparent.

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“Garland suspected that this had something to do with the boot he had driven into the man’s plump, vulnerable belly” is a strange tone shift. It is indirect and a hindrance to the building action.
Good point.

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“The casual nature of the throw” The Constables seem to take the Chair being held at sword-point quite well, waiting to act until they are all in place, to the point of throwing an incendiary over the Chair while there other Constables opposite the thrower who could be hit if Garland ducked.
Oh, that definitely needs addressed. To be fair, the Chair is behind Garland, and I sort of envisioned the Constables hugging the left, right, and front walls, but that's by no means clear.

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I still am not certain to what degree the fragmentary sentences are stylistic, but it reads awkwardly at times with constructions like “Garland flicked back his silver hair. Coldly considered” where the period is better replaced with a semicolon, or a dash if it is meant to be abrupt
Definitely stylistic.

Thanks very much for the critique!
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Aylokat

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Re: ___/The Writer's Apprenticeship\___
« Reply #1786 on: May 07, 2018, 11:00:10 am »

Surely this is mainly irrelevant?

The implication is different. I first imagined the Chair to be lying on his back, with Garland holding him down with a boot so he could cleanly cut the Chair, whom he did not want to scramble away to a weapon. In such a scenario they had already fought (as much as the Chair could fight) and Garland won, which I had thought was why the Chair had spit on his chin, as opposed to ignobly slobbering at Garland in terror. If the Chair was on his knees, then he started begging for mercy without bothering to struggle, knowing that Garland’s unnoticed entry into his chambers left him no other viable choice. This makes the Chair look like a massive coward, contrary to a power-hungry madman who tried to fight a Knight.

(Hmm. I just now considered that Garland was holding his blade to the Chair’s neck, rather than vaguely above him in preparation for a swing.) There is a difference between decapitating a guy on his knees and just stabbing him on the floor. Not much of one; practicality outweighs decorum, especially after breaking into a high-security building. But the idea Garland of killing the Chair with an “organized” execution seems more formal than a simple finishing strike, perhaps fitting a Knight better.

The lack of knowledge about who Chair is means the situation has to be accepted by the reader without fully understanding the importance, and the situation is not as powerful as it could be if the reader immediately knew the danger Garland was in by threatening the Chair in his own chambers, with guards a few moments away. If this was known, then the Chair crushing his crystal would cause dread in anticipating the soldiers.

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[Aylokat quote]
[Another Aylokat quote]

If this second point is meant to refute two statements of mine with one another, it is too clever for me, heh. (Oof, do my posts actually read like impenetrable blocks, or is this the text equivalent of listening to your own voice? Pfft, hehehe.)

A minor thing I have noticed, reading the story again, is “You are not wanted any more.” Is the intention of the Chair to say that no additional aid is needed from the Knights (any more to mean any further), or, what I had imagined from Garland’s anger, that the world has moved on and that the Knights are outmoded by Constables and lost their value (anymore to mean any longer)? The first option seems too polite. Then again, you would be polite with a sword looming over you.

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The Chair spoke. Then trailed off, fear sort of being implied. Then Garland opened his eyes, his contemplation interrupted.

To me, cut off implies haste, and the Chair halting his pleading and Garland opening his eyes being in the same sentence, while Garland breathing out is not, made me draw the conclusion that one caused the other.

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I wouldn't have thought this was problematic. The Chair has crushed the crystal, so knows the Constables are coming. Garland has seen the crushed crystal, so there's no point in him continuing to lunge towards him. By lunge I don't mean with his sword - more a quick attempt at grabbing. Probably should have made that more apparent.

I did not think Garland was lunging with his sword, that was clear enough as it is Garland that is said to be lunging and not his sword. I did think he was awkwardly stooping over the prone Chair, being unable to stop him with a kick for some reason. What bothered me was that only after two paragraphs it is revealed that the crystal summoned guards. Before that point it seemed that with the Chair’s sudden confident speech about Garland being obsolete, he had struck Garland with a magical weapon. I thought “too late” meant he was too late for his lunge to connect with the Chair at all due to changing circumstances, not that he was too late to stop the Chair’s action.

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Definitely stylistic.

Thank you. Your writing is easier for me to understand now that I properly know the boundaries of its style.

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Thanks very much for the critique!

I enjoy reading your writing, talking about it also (all the better if I manage to grasp it afterward!), so I am happy to go on doing so. I almost feel like I should be thanking you—again. It is how I honestly feel, so I might as well: Thank you, Dwarfy, for continuing to write and posting it for wider appreciation.
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Levity

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Re: ___/The Writer's Apprenticeship\___
« Reply #1787 on: May 07, 2018, 11:07:37 am »

Thanks for providing some extra research for me, Dwarfy! I will be noting all of that down with the rest. I'm just gonna do a short critique here about some inconsistencies in sentence construction and perspective, which I think are pretty major problems:

Garland flicked back his silver hair. Coldly considered the blade he held above the man’s chest, then slowly withdrew it. This is actually incorrect use of English, and looks like it may have been some slip of the finger or auto-correct issue. It can't really be claimed as a stylistic choice. It should be:

Garland flicked back his silver hair, coldly considered the blade he held above the man’s chest, then slowly withdrew it. This is a far better opening sentence, and in the first example we have a subordinate clause as the second sentence, which is a big no-no.

Coldly considered the blade he held above the man’s chest, then slowly withdrew it. This only makes sense as a standalone sentence if Coldly is the name of your character. As it is, you have a subordinate clause with no subject, which doesn't make sense and will confuse any reader. Of course, keep this style if you wish, but I think you are going to confuse a lot of readers if you do.

Secondly we have some problems with perspective. We are nicely settled into the POV of Garland, through sentences like: There was no doubt; the world still had its share of fools.

And paragraphs such as: Yet what a prosperous world it was! Garland should know. A Parliamentarian Knight saw all the undesirable sides of reality in his pursuit of justice. It was not an enviable job, but how desperate he had been to join, back when his heart had held hopes of blood and vengeance and passion! It had taken some time to achieve those ambitions, but afterwards the world had become… peaceful.

Okay, cool. We are inside Garland's head, in a limited third-person perspective, which is how we see all his thoughts and reflections on the past. As a reader, I'm now comfortable. But then we come to: Relief cloaked in suspicion filled the Chair’s eyes...

Wha-what? What does that even mean? This is so jarring to the narrative and so unrealistic that I have to make a point of it. What does relief cloaked in suspicion actually look like? And how would Garland be able to recognise it from the way the Chair's eyes move? Perspective is something that has to be consistent throughout the story, otherwise it breaks the experience for the reader. In a third-person limited view, which is strongly established at the beginning of the story, there is no way Garland can know about these little mind games the Chair is making, all from how his eyes look as Garland stands over him. Not unless Garland is psychic, which has not been established anywhere in the story.

Aside from that I think Garland is a solid character with a lot of agency, and his characterisation is strong. For me, however, it is just another Brandon-esque Epic Fantasy Hero - namely, an unrealistically competent fighter who inflicts whole heaps of bloodshed against the bad guys. I actually studied all of Sanderson's writing lectures a year or so back, and found them hugely useful. Since then, I have read widely within the fantasy genre and without, and I have to say, his writing is hardly anything special and is actually pretty juvenile. I've had a grand time reading his books, but they are just entertainment, really.

I don't think of Taylor Swift or Justin Bieber as the pinnacle of their genres, much the same as Sanderson isn't the pinnacle of his, just because he's sold a fuckload of books. I think he actually reinforces a lot of problems within the fantasy genre that stop it from being taken seriously. I also think that if you want to stand out as a writer, there has to come a point where you say 'fuck it,' and just make your own path. As Neil Gaiman says, nobody can write the story you write. If you constantly try to ape another's style, you are limiting yourself, and you will only ever produce paler imitations of whatever style it is you are imitating.

I will reiterate: Sanderson's writing lectures are fantastic for beginner writers. Past that, those same writers need to grasp what a story is, then throw everything they've been taught to the backs of their minds and just let it flow. That's the only way to write a great, original story.

EDIT:  Perspective doesn't have to be consistent throughout the story. You can shift and change and do as many weird things as you want. Yet, it does have to be clear for the reader. Otherwise you'll lose them, and they won't enjoy the story.

EDIT2: I've just realised that perhaps relief cloaked in suspicion means something like relief mingled with suspicion - in which case it isn't so perspective-shattering. I would still say it's a lot of precise detail communicated simply through a character's eyes. Imagine looking someone in the eye and being able to tell their precise emotional state. That's what Garland does in this story. Seems odd when you think about it, no?
« Last Edit: May 07, 2018, 12:04:10 pm by Levity »
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Imic

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« Reply #1788 on: May 07, 2018, 11:21:29 am »

A lone figure walks alone. Around her, all the world is dark. Slowly, up a long, winding path, she trudges ever forward, never stopping or looking around her. Finally, she reaches the end of her path. It's a small valley, the centre taken over by a large lake. Two sides have tall hills, one side drops down into the darkness, and the last goes up, into a tall peak. At it's bottom is a dark rectangle, almost invisible in the gloom. She walks around the lake, the path getting rougher with each passing step. Occasinally, old bones, weapons, tools, and vehicles of war poke out of the soil.
       Finally, she reaches the base of the peak. In the darkness from afar, it could not be made out, but now, it is as clear as can be: There is a tall door here, made from solid rock, and fastened with metal bands. At it's centre is a large, four pointed star.
       She walks up to it, towards a small pile of stones at it's base. The ground around it is littered with skeletons, rusted armour, firearms, and broken tanks. She takes off her hood, revealing a lined, scarred face, and long braided hair, dark with streaks of grey. Slowly, she takes a pack off her bag, and takes out the skull of some demonic beast, with long broken teeth, and four eye sockets. She turns around, and throws it into the lake. Slowly, she takes a loose stone from the beach, and carefully adds it to the pile. She stamds motionless for some time, before walking away, and starting a small fire. After some time, she gets out a bedroll, and goes to sleep.
In the morning, she is dead.       
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GiglameshDespair

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Re: Imic's tale.
« Reply #1789 on: May 07, 2018, 12:02:44 pm »

A lone figure walks alone. (Unnecessary repetition. We know a lone figure must walk, by definition, alone.) Around her, all the world is dark. Slowly, up a long, winding path, she trudges ever forward, never stopping or looking around her. Finally, she reaches the end of her path. It's a small valley, the centre taken over by a large lake. Two sides have tall hills, one side drops down into the darkness, and the last goes up, into a tall peak. At its bottom is a dark rectangle, (of the lake?)almost invisible in the gloom. She walks around the lake, the path getting rougher with each passing step. Occasionally, old bones, weapons, tools, and vehicles of war poke out of the soil.
       Finally, she reaches the base of the peak. In the darkness from afar, it could not be made out, but now, it is as clear as can be: There is a tall door here, made from solid rock, and fastened with metal bands. At its centre is a large, four pointed star.
       She walks up to it, towards a small pile of stones at its base. The ground around it is littered with skeletons, rusted armour, firearms, and broken tanks. She takes off her hood, revealing a lined, scarred face, and long braided hair, dark with streaks of grey. Slowly, she takes a pack off her bag, and takes out the skull of some demonic beast, with long broken teeth, and four eye sockets. She turns around, and throws it into the lake. Slowly, she takes a loose stone from the beach, and carefully adds it to the pile. She stands motionless for some time, before walking away, and starting a small fire. After some time, she gets out a bedroll, and goes to sleep.
In the morning, she is dead.   (Why?) 

More sentences than the ones I've put comments for could do with reworking - some of them are rather clunky.

The's not really a connection between her death and the rest - the connection between a bunch of skeletons at the door and her dying is weakened by the mention of armour, firearms and tanks, which suggests it's a old battlefield (or battlefields).
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Imic

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Re: ___/The Writer's Apprenticeship\___
« Reply #1790 on: May 07, 2018, 12:16:05 pm »

I did notice most of the spelling mistakes, but I didn't want to edit it after I had it posted.
Having too many sentances in too little space is something I've had trouble with for a long while.
Thanks for the feedback.
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Levity

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Re: ___/The Writer's Apprenticeship\___
« Reply #1791 on: May 07, 2018, 12:41:27 pm »

Also, Dwarfy, if you have any more information regarding Anglo-Saxon Britain I'd love to hear it. It seems you really know your stuff. Useful topics for me are: food and health, gender (which you've already helped a ton with), crafts etc.

In regards to my critique, I'm sorry if I come across as harsh! These are all issues I've had with my own writing, and you are of course free to accept my pointers or disregard them. It's all up to you! :D
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Levity

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Re: ___/The Writer's Apprenticeship\___
« Reply #1792 on: May 07, 2018, 02:26:09 pm »

Seeing as I've been dispensing my opinion on other people's writing so liberally, I thought I'd post an old chapter of mine on here:

Spoiler (click to show/hide)

For me it has the usual problems: generic character archetypes and roles; oversimple writing; too-quick pacing; cliche cliche CLLIIICHHEE!
I'm okay with the technical side of the writing. There's a few bits and bobs I'd change. It's just too simple, no depth, not enough poetry. Though, my style has developed since this piece, which was written in January.
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Imic

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Re: ___/The Writer's Apprenticeship\___
« Reply #1793 on: May 07, 2018, 02:51:37 pm »

One's greatest critic can often be themselves.
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Aylokat

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Re: ___/The Writer's Apprenticeship\___
« Reply #1794 on: May 08, 2018, 03:56:35 am »

Of course, keep this style if you wish, but I think you are going to confuse a lot of readers if you do.

A heavier emphasize on the style is warranted, if it is to be used. The clipped sentences could not be confused for occasional mistakes if they were consistent and visible.
For example: Garland flicked back his hair—silver. Considered coldly the blade he held above the man’s chest. Slowly withdrew it. A hopeful exclamation from his victim, proving Garland’s suspicion. There was no doubt. The world still had its fools.

The lengthy sentences put next to the short make it seem strange to the reader, as do the subsequent commas when there is not one at first need. The semicolon near the end also makes the reader wonder why that was not used for the first sentence.

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As Neil Gaiman says, nobody can write the story you write. If you constantly try to ape another's style, you are limiting yourself, and you will only ever produce paler imitations of whatever style it is you are imitating.

I agree. It should be easier to write rather than follow the form of someone else. It will be discernible from its kin, a real Hey, this is familiar. Do I know this author? I have seen it at least once before in this thread, and with my earlier writing, that feeling of it being done before, but better. I remember someone outright saying about that work years ago, “This reads like Terry Pratchett!” and I had thought to myself, “It does, but that is not good. That only reminds me of something better. I wish I was reading Terry Pratchett instead.” It had been meant as a compliment, and the author took it as such, but I could not help but see it as an observation of imitation—the mark of amateurish writing.




One's greatest critic can often be themselves oneself.

Though not in this case, heh. I should fashion a little cardboard crown for myself to go with that title.
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Levity

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Re: ___/The Writer's Apprenticeship\___
« Reply #1795 on: May 08, 2018, 11:18:26 am »

Yes, well, I knew it was a piece of crap anyway. I just posted it because it only seemed fair.

Now, Mr. Aylokat, why don’t we see some writing from you?


Crossed for bad behaviour. This kind of self-abasement is not healthy for life, nor writing groups.
« Last Edit: May 09, 2018, 10:12:01 am by Levity »
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Th4DwArfY1

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Re: ___/The Writer's Apprenticeship\___
« Reply #1796 on: May 08, 2018, 01:05:09 pm »

Secondly we have some problems with perspective. We are nicely settled into the POV of Garland, through sentences like: There was no doubt; the world still had its share of fools.
All duly noted. You're right about the clause issue at the start, and the relief-cloaked-in-suspicion part may merit some rewording.

Also, Dwarfy, if you have any more information regarding Anglo-Saxon Britain I'd love to hear it. It seems you really know your stuff. Useful topics for me are: food and health, gender (which you've already helped a ton with), crafts etc.

In regards to my critique, I'm sorry if I come across as harsh! These are all issues I've had with my own writing, and you are of course free to accept my pointers or disregard them. It's all up to you! :D
In terms of food, I'm not particularly knowledgeable. The nobility ate meat, the peasantry not so much. I believe England was also capable of growing grapes for wine at that stage, but not sure.

In terms of crafts, look no further than Sutton Hoo. The crafts there show a great debt to Old Norse styles. For instance, a helmet made for the King. A moustached face with two jewelled arches for eyebrows. Could be anyone, really, except that they made a perfect replica to demonstrate its original usage. When it was being made, the smiths noted that one eyebrow had an inlay behind the jewels, and asked whether to include it in the replica. For the sake of authenticity they were told yes. Come the enactment, The King sat at the top of his hall with the mask on his face. As the fire danced, everyone (including the actors, hah) was amazed to see that one eyebrow glowed a deep, dark red. The other was dark.

It was meant to be Odin. A craft which linked the divine power of the Norse god to the secular power of an Anglo-Saxon king. In fact, the burial finds recorded here match the burial objects found in Beowulf.

Women also likely wore shoulder clasps, the level of embellishment differing depending on wealth.

Glass beads and adornment were also widely used. Plain leather shoes were all the rage. If you want more examples of burial finds then you can look at the Oseberg and Gokstag finds. These are Scandinavian, but the same general idea. IIRC, the artwork shown on the ship and its items reflected Celtic influences with the British Isles - those knots you see in Viking art. One object in particular from one of the latter finds was a heavily embellished wheelbarrow.

If dealing with Scandinavian weapons, keep in mind that those made in Scandinavia, particularly Norway, were of low quality. They were made with bog iron, which was not as easily refined. The English did not have this issue, but keep in mind that the Vikings plundered a lot so their items often weren't made at home.

A note on payment - the nobility wore bands of gold around their arms. To keep their thegns in line, they would break off bits of the band to offer as payment.

Keep in mind also that you will not see solely Danish people in England at this time. The Swedes and Norwegians were also present. More Norwegians than Swedes, who often followed the Danube down to Constantinople for trade and focused on plunder in the East.

Hope some of this is of use.
Also:

Spoiler (click to show/hide)
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Levity

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Re: ___/The Writer's Apprenticeship\___
« Reply #1797 on: May 08, 2018, 03:25:49 pm »

I accept a lot of the points you and Aylo have with the writing, but as to some of them, it can be a matter of style. This problem with 'long sentences' is a new one. There is nothing wrong with a long sentence.

Thanks for the extra information! I want to post something up here more recent, something I'm happier with. I'm sure you lot will still poke holes in it, but I feel my writing has come some ways since. We'll see.

EDIT: A lot of the problems I had with the last two pieces I replicated in my own piece from January. We really have to be mindful when we write to keep the perspective consistent and also realistic.
« Last Edit: May 08, 2018, 03:31:37 pm by Levity »
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GiglameshDespair

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Re: ___/The Writer's Apprenticeship\___
« Reply #1798 on: May 08, 2018, 04:30:06 pm »

Welp, this is the first thing I've written in a long time.
Seeing you guys' stuff got me wanting to write about knights, so have a short thing about a alien biomachine knight in a ruined starship, and the woman who talks to it.

So yeah. Probably somewhat rusty, and wasn't super sure where I was going with it, but there you go.


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Th4DwArfY1

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Re: ___/The Writer's Apprenticeship\___
« Reply #1799 on: May 08, 2018, 07:50:19 pm »

Keeping the advice from the other two pieces in mind, thought I'd give it a try again with a different theme.
Spoiler (click to show/hide)

Enjoyed your one a lot, Gig. Only two nitpicks.


Spoiler (click to show/hide)
Though I also have to wonder why they killed the first expedition if the aim was to find new masters. Maybe the wielding of weapons near them, or something? Dunno.
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