Maverick.

Discussion in 'Critiques' started by psychotick, Apr 20, 2011.

  1.  
    psychotick

    psychotick Dangerously confused

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    Hi,

    Finally reached thirty posts, and hopefully none of them were too dreadful. Hurrah!

    So now I can finally ask for some critique of my new novel. A chance for a little payback perhaps? Anyway, Maverick is finally in its editing stage and I have a feeling that Easter is not going to be any sort of holiday for me. But my goal is to publish it in the next few months, so I could use mainly guidance as to the writing style, flow, obvious problems etc. I know it starts slow, but then its a hundred and eighty some thousand words so I wasn't really in a hurry.

    Thanks in advance.



    Chapter One.

    There are some days it doesn’t pay to get up in the morning, days when you know nothing good can come from them. The Moonday of the third tenday in the Late Boarfrost was one of those days, and Marjan knew it from the moment he opened his eyes in the morning to see the bright new sunlight, just as he had known the same for every one of the previous ten days.

    It was bad outside even if he didn’t quite know what was so bad about it apart from the usual springtime morning frost.

    Regardless, wrapped up tight in his freshly laundered homespun linen sheets, covered with heavy blankets which in turn were buried under a thick eiderdown he was comfortable and warm in his big soft bed. It seemed a shame to have to leave it, and for the longest time he tried not to and simply lay there, enveloped in comfort, pretending the rest of the world didn’t exist.

    Eventually though he knew he had to get up, since as always there was nothing to do but get on with the day and begin his normal errands. Years of living alone in a remote cottage, hidden deep within the vast Allyssian Forest, far from the usual amenities of the nearest towns, especially children who he could pay to do his chores, had taught him it was that or starve, - and he liked to eat.

    Despite the hardships of living so far away from civilisation he liked where he lived too. The vitality of the forest, which almost completely surrounded his house in its little glade sang to his very soul. The small lake at the glade’s far end that provided him with fish and sometimes a refreshing dip, was a joy on a sunny day. The living colours and serene beauty of the glade, especially when the sun shone as it did most days, its yellow light filtered through the leaves of the distant trees to create a vision of yellow and green, the flowers that formed a tapestry of colour, these were the beauty that ruled his life. Then there was the air, crisp and fresh and filled with the scent of life, the peace and tranquillity that living so far from other people gave him, and most of all the sense of belonging that he felt living there. All of these things made the difficulties of living in such isolation unimportant.

    The creatures too, the foxes and stoats, the owls in the trees and the deer in the forest, the ducks hunting for food in the lake, they brought him enjoyment and sometimes even company as they seemed happy to make his home theirs. Once, when he had first arrived they had feared him, now he was simply a part of their home, and in his idle imaginings at least, he sometimes let himself believe that they would have missed him when he was gone. Not that he planned on going anywhere.

    More then that however, this single glade, lost in the middle of the vast Allyssian forest leant him a feeling he knew nowhere else, a sense of belonging. In this one glade, deep in the middle of a vast forest, leagues from the nearest town, much further still from the city where he’d been born and raised and cast out from the guild he’d once called his family, he felt at home. That was something he hadn’t known anywhere else, not in a long time, but such was probably to be expected of an exiled wizard’s life.

    Though he had to leave his home from time to time for various reasons, the regular day trips to Snowy Falls to sell his wares and buy provisions, the occasional overnight journey into Gunder itself to pick up the more exotic goods that he couldn’t find elsewhere such as his scrolls and tomes of magical knowledge, and even the odd trip still further afield into the larger cities of Whitney for those true specialty items, and he usually enjoyed the experience, he always looked forwards to his return. A couple of days away and that was as much as he could handle.

    It hadn’t always been so.

    As a youngster he’d loved the cities, he’d loved running through the streets of Gunder with his friends, spending his scarce coin in the stalls or on the street entertainers, playing ball games, tossing hoops, sometimes just chasing one another around for fun, and getting into endless trouble with the city guard, but that was a long time ago. These days he simply didn’t need fancy inns and bustling shops, outlandish entertainments and exotic foods, not even company to pass the time of day with, not as much as he needed a place to call home. So his return journey from such places was always a somewhat rushed affair, and the sense of happiness he got when he finally returned to the forest that he knew so well, and the simple joy he felt when the glade and his cottage came into view, was overwhelming.
     
  2.  
    mygoditsraining

    mygoditsraining New Member

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    Hi chap.

    I'm not going to go into a line-by-line critique of this because I think (for me as a reader) there's something fundamental here that's worthy of note.

    Your first three paragraphs are all about Marjan having a sinking feeling about his day ahead. That there's something not right about the world. That something bad is going to happen.

    Then there's ~700 words, or two pages of a book (thereabouts) which tells us all about how much Marjan loves his life of solitude and how it fills him with joy and delight.

    Now I'm assuming we come back to the bad feeling eventually, but as a standalone excerpt it feels fragmented. Marjan has a bad feeling about the world...which he loves?

    I think it needs to have a thread of that dread running through it, first of all, something that makes the narrative flow towards whatever is waiting for him on the other side of his cottage door.

    Hope this helps.
     
  3.  
    psychotick

    psychotick Dangerously confused

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    Hi,

    Thanks MGIR, it does come back to it, but as I say long slow book and I could only paste a tiny fraction of it here.

    Cheers.
     
  4.  
    TheEndIsNigh

    TheEndIsNigh ...Prepare Thyself

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    I looked at this too and I think MGIR hit the nail on the button.

    Sadly, if this is chapter one then I'd have lost interest by now.

    It was a reasonable start but it's got to keep the reader engrossed or they start to think

    There are other thing that jar.

    You deliberately set out to make it obvious we're not on Earth - as we know it with all these weird dates (bad enough in itself) but then go on to describe every day Earth objects like foxes and stoats etc. Now if these are 'transported' creatures they wouldn't be first on my list to colonise a new planet and if not then the names should at least reflect some kind of difference IMO.

    I think you need to put this some way down the chapter order. Keep the start but please give us some action.
     
  5.  
    Mouse

    Mouse roar

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    I'm a terrible critiquer and I have the worst attention span ever, so don't worry too much about what I say. But...

    This is the point you lost me. Unless that date is super important, cut it. Or change it to something simpler like 'The Moonday of the Late Boarfrost.'
     
  6.  
    chrispenycate

    chrispenycate resident pedantissimo Staff Member

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    semicolon
    comma
    comma
    more "chores" than "errands"
    no comma
    that is really a very dragged out sentence
    Why "too"? As well as what?
    comma
    Too much crammed into this sentence.
    Too much crammed into this sentence too.
    comma
    semicolon
    Withj "would" that should be "if", not "when".
    than
    lent
    Too much repetition of "Glade" and "forest".
    replace "and" by a comma?
    colon – or dash, perhaps, with a closing one after "items".
    Very long sentence
    Do you need the "and that"?
    comma splice
    had been?
    were
     
  7.  
    slack

    slack within the depths

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    I agree with everyone else that there seems to be a disconnect between the start of the piece and the rest. Specifically, if Marjan knew that particular day was going to be difficult, there needs to be some sort of hint. This doesn't cut it, in my opinion:

    "It was bad outside" is lazy. Why is it bad? Does it give him a sinking feeling? Nauseous? Is he dreading something? Give the reader something.

    About 80% of this is an info-dump. Well written, but out of place. It goes on and on about solitary life in the countryside, but the character is still in bed! Not only that, but he is so comfortable in bed that he simply wants to pretend the rest of the world doesn't exist for a moment.

    And yet the reader goes on a virtual sight-seeing trip throughout the land. Doesn't make sense to me. The way I see it, if the character gets an impression that the day will be especially difficult, maybe it's because the rays of sunlight coming through the window look a little weaker than normal, a little colder, more distant.

    And maybe as he pads across the room, across the groaning floorboards, he pauses at the window and looks out into the forest surrounding his house and is briefly lost in thought. Here you might include some of the descriptions, because the character is in the scene and it is relevant.
     
  8.  
    TheEndIsNigh

    TheEndIsNigh ...Prepare Thyself

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    Hi again.

    I realise that, so far the comments are quite negative.

    In my own case this was more about the structure you had adopted not about the writing itself. Your writing, while admittedly being scene/atmosphere setting and yes info dumping-ish is, when taken on it's own merit, quite good. I certainly have a clear picture of the setting you paint: it's just that it may be too much and in the wrong place. There are some that think LOR would be seriously edited down if JRRT tried to get it published nowadays

    So critiquing as is off we go.

    R = Remove
    B Comments
    G poss suggestions.
    All opinions only

    Hope I helped a little more than last time :)

    TEiN
     
  9.  
    psychotick

    psychotick Dangerously confused

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    Hi guys,

    Thanks for the feedback, and no I'm not at all worried if its negative, it means I have a lot of editing / rewriting to do and I'd rather do that now then publish it and get these comments back later, so keep up the good work.

    Cheers.
     
  10.  
    ventanamist

    ventanamist I no longer go wrinkly

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    I know I'm saying more or less the same as the others but I think I might be able to give you some help with how to go about it.

    As a reader, I was there with him in that bed. I could feel the sheets, snug with this vague sense of threat outside. You had me physically involved with the story and the character. You had me asking questions about what the threat is outside. But you didn't build on this; you threw it away and started 'telling' me about the landscape outside and other stuff.

    What I'm saying is that you could tell us all that while he is getting up, lighting the fire, making his porridge, looking through the window. You could do it through the objects in the room, snippets of memory, the pain of old scars. Keep me with him!

    Also, keep me asking - what is the threat? Why doesn't he want to get up - just the odd word, the odd hint. Tease me.

    Hope that'll help

    Oh, I liked the funny dates. They gave the story an exotic flavour right from the start.
     
  11.  
    svalbard

    svalbard Member

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    The portent of doom should come at the end the piece. You introduce why he should not get up, yet never explaining it, and then proceed to descibe an idllyic surrounding. A prologue beforehand might help, although I am not too sure about that. I have not too much more to add than that. The writing is good, the hook not so.
     
  12.  
    Kiercoria99

    Kiercoria99 New Member

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    I agree - you moved from the intimate show to the distant tell mode and lost me as a reader.
    I also agree that overall, the writing is good. The flow and voice even.
    The teasers are okay, I enjoy the prospect of discovering the origin of his exile, and his current hermit-like status. I don't think the first few pages of the first chapter is the place to dwell on the telling particulars of his youthful life in the city. A mention to go along with the tease would be better, or just leave the tease - it hadn't always been so (paraphrase).
    The switching between Earth and non-Earth terminology was disconcerting for me as well. This is an issue I have yet to reconcile myself so can't help you there.
    But much sooner than later, get back to the opening idea - it was going to be a bad day and show us, the reader, what that means to/for him.
     

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