Father's Heart

Michael01

Coven of the Worm
Joined
Feb 1, 2007
Messages
938
Location
The people who love you are worth more than gold.
This is part of the second chapter of a WIP. Go ahead and give it the works, please. Content, grammar, punctuation, characterization, etc., and let me know if you find it interesting. I know there are some problem spots, since this is the first draft but I can't pinpoint them all. I don't know how much background you'll need first, but I'll give a brief summary: Q'La was cursed and her brother was kidnapped by an evil creature when she was twelve, and she is often shunned by her peers because of this. Her magic also is not always reliable because of the curse. In this chapter, her Coven has just survived a fierce battle against magical enemies. And just in case it isn't clear in the text, there is a difference between Witches and War Witches. For instance, D'She uses a wand and Q'La fights with a sword.

Father's Heart


D'She remained on the roof.

"Q'La? Are you wounded?" he said.

"Yes."

"Then I will tend to you now."

"Are you sure?"

"Yes. Before we can leave in the morning, we need to clean up and send for the villagers. I know you are proud, but must you remain awake all night and endure pain?"

Q'La turned her head and said, "It is not that."

"I have healed you before. I am not afraid."

Q'La might have smiled then if she thought she could. She had not smiled since before the Maugs took Jun. Except maybe on rare occasions with Xe when they were young and in training. Xe was the closest friend she had made in her life, and once she thought he might have been more than that.

"I know," she said.

She waited in silence as D'She approached her. He stopped a few paces away and raised his wand to begin the healing.

The first Spirit Talker that tried to heal her battle wounds had died. Since then, the priests would not chance more than sealing the wound and guarding it against infection, and they refused to lay hands on her. Scars from even minor wounds decorated her body because of this.

"You will need to mend or replace your Gi," said D'She.

Q'La could not forget that nine shadow monkeys had focused their attacks on her during the battle. Nor could she dismiss the image of the muozi's grin when it stalked D'She.

When the High Priest finished his incantations, Q'La said, "Hun Lo Me, I know the enemy targeted the priests. That is natural. But I do not understand why so many familiars abandoned their targets for me."

"They may have feared the curse would prevent them from achieving their objective," said D'She. "It seems they were right if they did."

Although it made sense, Q'La could not relate the idea to the actions of the pale Witch—when it had looked at her. She told D'She what she had seen then.

The High Priest looked away. He seemed nervous.

Q'La thought that D'She must not have seen it.

"This I do not like," he said. "It implies something I cannot believe."

"That the others like Deu might be right about the curse?"

"Perhaps. But they will think so regardless. Do not tell anyone else what you have told me."

Q'La nodded.

D'She said, "Come. I have more wounded to tend, Deu among them, and we must gather in the village circle before sunrise."

~*~


Q'La cleaned her weapons as she waited near the fire pit in the village circle.

The sun had climbed nearly a quarter of the sky and the few surviving villagers had returned from a hidden sanctuary in the jungle.

She watched as the priests of Yagove combined spells to build a gate to their home village. She knew that gate spells were complex and required more energy than most Witches had available.

Teleport spells had a more limited effect. The longest distance Q'La had traveled this way was about one hundred hand spans—except for the one misfire that had placed her in the middle of danger—which was the maximum distance for most War Witches. Some Witches have achieved twice or even three times that distance.

But Yagove village was leagues away from Shanang. Without a gate, the return home would take a week on foot. No one had ever traveled that far by teleporting, as far as Q'La knew.

Soon she would have the opportunity to bathe and eat a proper meal. She might have to see the sword makers first, but that should not take long.

Then there were other things she wanted to do before eating.

When the Priests had finished, a blue disc of light hovered over the ground near the fire pit. The Covenors formed a line to await their turns and Q'La filed in behind them.

D'She stopped her after the others had gone.

"Remember what I said to you before."

"Yes, Hun Lo Me," said Q'La. If she told anyone else about the muozi, it would be Xe. Otherwise she would obey the decree of her High Priest.

"Be sure to acquire a new sword before returning to your hut. I expect you to have it painted and attuned by tomorrow night."

Q'La bowed her head and said, "It will be done."

D'She bowed to release her and she passed through the glowing portal.

Q'La ignored the momentary discomfort that comes from gate travel as she stepped into a clearing outside of Yagove.

This was the space that the Coven used for ritual. There was another clearing like this south of the village, which was for the common Jutsu.

All the villages had a Coven by the same name that was designated and trained for tribal defense, and the Elders could summon them at any time. But defense was not the only purpose of the Jutsue and the People formed theirs as well.

Every Clan built armed forces based on the ritual units, which they called "Primary" and "Secondary." The commander was always the High Hand, although the High Priest facilitated ritual and combat within the Coven. In some Clans, the High Hand and the High Priest was the same person—but this was unusual. There were thirteen Primaries, composed of the Clan Elder Coven and the other twelve Tribal Elder Covens.

Some villages were large and had as many as three or four ritual circles. Most, like Yagove, had two.

The Priests came through the portal behind Q'La and it disappeared.

Q'La noticed then that only eight Covenors had returned from the battle. The Priests would need to refill the empty spaces before nightfall, since they may be required to fight again at a moment's notice.

Her body ached despite the healing. The stream by her hut seemed more inviting now.

Q'La bowed to the Priests and began to walk toward the sword makers' pavilion when they dismissed her.

Yagove, like the village she had grown up in, specialized in forging swords. Forgers were a special kind of War Witch that focused their Art on making weapons. The pavilion was outside of the village proper, to the west.

The memory of the village of Wudan, where the Clan Elders lived, made her frown.

She felt the heat from the pavilion nearly two hundred paces away. Three Forgers hammered new weapons while half a dozen apprentices scurried about on various errands.

Q'La approached Boroqu, the senior Forger, and tried to get his attention as he leaned a new sword on the weapon rack.

Boroqu scowled when he saw her.

"Find one that you like and go," he said.

When Q'La bowed, he waved a hand in dismissal.

"I do not like it when my Art is tainted," said Boroqu. Then he returned to his work.

Q'La tried to ignore him and began to search the rack for a suitable weapon.

The one she picked was shorter than Dark Huntress was, but the wide curves and the spurs by the pommel seemed to call to her.

Carefully, she slipped the new blade into the sheath on her back. The sheath was too long and only the end of the hilt extended above the opening. Q'La would adjust it later, after she attuned to the sword and gave it a name.

Then she walked quietly out of the pavilion and traveled around the north side of Yagove to avoid contact with others. She planned to go to the village later, to visit her family and Xe, but for now she did not want to see anyone.

Q'La hoped to find her father today and that he would finally speak to her after all these years. Her heart ached for him and Jun and her memories of their love.

Her hut was not in the village because everyone feared the curse. She had to travel through the jungle nearly half a league to reach it.

The hut was smaller than most, which had to accommodate as many as five or six people. It was circular, built with strong tsunga branches and covered with leaves of the same plant. The roof was flat and made with the same material. The People used a mixture of viscous fluids for waterproofing.

They also used magic in the construction of their homes, and protected them with shields when they were complete.

Xe had shielded this hut with extra care, since it was so far outside the stronger protections of the village.

Dema Xe was the High Priest for Yagove's only common Coven, which they called "Lost in the Goddess." All the communal Jutsue had individual names like this.

Q'La normally reached her hut in less time than she did now, but she was exhausted and knew that she would not rest until after Moon Song.

She entered her home and began to undress, removing her weapons first.

Then she carried her Gi outside and stretched out each piece on a large rock beside the stream. When this was done, she began to pound on the garments with a hand-sized stone to clean them.

Q'La continued this activity for about a Mark, which the People reckoned by the position of the sun during the day—or the stars at night. Afterward, she carefully folded the Gi and carried it back into the hut.

She bathed in the cool water of the stream then and changed into normal tribal clothing before beginning the task of attuning to her new weapon.

Her stomach rumbled and she recalled that she had not eaten since the previous day.

I will eat later, she told herself.

Q'La stepped outside again into the hot sun, bringing the sword and her painting skins with her.

It was nearly midday already as she began the attuning ritual. She stood in the center of a small clearing and extended the blade before her, both hands grasping the hilt. Then she traced a clockwise circle in the air around her while softly droning the name of her goddess.

"Ju'Xai Ju, Ju'Xai Ju, Ju'Xai Ju . . ."

Q'La began to exercise with the sword. As she moved, she said the words, "I name you Evening Star. You are mine; I am yours; we . . . are one."

She continued to dance and chant within the imaginary circle for a time.

When she stopped, she sat down and placed the sword across her knees.
Q'La reached for her painting skins and arrayed them before her. One skin contained water and the rest held the paints, which she dabbed onto a large, flat stone. She would apply the paints with a brush made of a thin branch with a small bundle of animal hair tied to one end.

To prevent the paint from chipping, Q'La would use a combination of spells and a clear fluid that herbalists derived from special plants. She did not know what plant the fluid came from, but she was not an herbalist so it did not matter to her. Q'La was only concerned with enchanting and attuning her weapon.

The blade she covered in black, which took some time to accomplish and she realized that she would need to bathe again when she finished. Then she painted a star between the spurs near the hilt.

To complete the first part of the ritual, Q'La said a prayer and afterward banished the circle.
 

Erin99

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 28, 2007
Messages
3,191
D'She remained on the roof.

"Q'La? Are you wounded?" he said. [if, before asking about wounds, he’s not enquiring whether she’s there, you don’t have to have two separate questions; use a comma instead of first question mark. Also, who’s “he”? At first it sounds as if he is an unnamed man, since (and bear in mind this is just my opinion) D'She sounds feminine (it's the "She" bit, I think) and the name isn't linked to the previous paragraph. I know this is chapter two, but mentioning his name again would help here -- either that, or linking the two paragraphs together somehow would suffice]

"Yes."

"Then I will tend to you now."

"Are you sure?"

"Yes. Before we can leave in the morning, we need to clean up and send for the villagers. I know you are proud, but must you remain awake all night and endure pain?"

Q'La turned her head and said, "It is not that." [you tend not to use contractions in your speech -- is this a conscious choice? To make the dialogue more realistic you could put “It’s not that”]

"I have healed you before. I am not afraid."

Q'La might have smiled then [comma] if she thought she could. She had not smiled since before the Maugs took [had taken] Jun. [comma or dash, not full stop] Except maybe [adding the “maybe” makes you sound unsure] on rare occasions with Xe when they were young and in training. Xe was the closest friend she had made [“made” is unneeded] in her life, and once [just once? Perhaps “at one time”] she thought he might have been more than that.

"I know," she said.

She waited in silence as D'She approached her. He stopped a few paces away and raised his wand to begin the healing.

The first Spirit Talker that [had] tried to heal her battle wounds had died. Since then, the priests would not chance more than sealing the wound and guarding it against infection, and they refused to lay hands [whose hands? Some stranger’s hands? A corpse’s hands? (Eww...!) An old lady’s hands? Their own hands? I think you need to add “their” into this sentence to make it sound better] on her. Scars from even minor wounds decorated her body because of this.

"You will need to mend or replace your Gi," said D'She.

Q'La could not forget that nine shadow monkeys had focused their attacks on her during the battle. Nor could she dismiss the image of the muozi's grin when it [had] stalked D'She. [Also, would it be “they” or “one” rather than “it”?]

When the High Priest finished his incantations, Q'La said, "Hun Lo Me, I know the enemy targeted the priests. That is natural. But I do not understand why so many familiars abandoned their targets for me." [Depending what you’re trying to convey, I’d use “Hun Lo Me, I know the enemy targeted the priests -- that is natural -- but I do not understand why so many familiars abandoned their targets for me”. Then again, I might have grasped the sentence wrongly...]

"They may have feared the curse would prevent them from achieving their objective," said D'She. "It seems they were right if they did [don’t need “if they did”]."

Although it made sense, Q'La could not relate the idea to the actions of the pale Witch—when it had looked at her. [I don’t think the dash belongs in this sentence, but I’m not sure what this line trying to convey; therefore, I can’t tell you what fits best] She told D'She what she had seen then.

The High Priest looked away. He seemed nervous. [telling, not showing. Show his nervousness -- have him fidget or something]

Q'La thought that D'She must not have seen it.

"This I do not like," he said. "It implies something I cannot believe."

"That the others like Deu might be right about the curse?"

"Perhaps. But they will think so regardless. Do not tell anyone else what you have told me."

Q'La nodded.

D'She said, "Come. I have more wounded to tend, Deu among them, and we must gather in the village circle before sunrise." [you tend to write the dialogue tag before the dialogue -- is this intentional? Most people find it natural to write the he/she said tags at the first natural break in the speech, e.g., “Come,” D’She said. “I have...”]

~*~


Q'La cleaned her weapons as she waited near the fire pit in the village circle. [I’d like more description here. I want to know what her surroundings look like]

The sun had climbed nearly a quarter of the sky and the few surviving villagers had returned from a hidden sanctuary in the jungle.

She watched as [remove “as”] the priests of Yagove combined [remove “d” on the end if you removed earlier “as”] spells to build a gate to their home village. She knew that gate spells were complex and required more energy than most Witches had available. [this is telling. Show that it requires more energy by making the women appear weaken as they perform it]

Teleport spells had a more limited effect. The longest distance Q'La had traveled this way was about one hundred hand spans—except for the one misfire that had placed her in the middle of danger—which was the maximum distance for most War Witches. Some Witches have [had] achieved twice [two] or even three times that distance.

But Yagove village was leagues away from Shanang. Without a gate, the return home would take a week on foot. No one had ever traveled that far by teleporting, as far as Q'La knew.

Soon she would have the opportunity to bathe and eat a proper meal. She might have to see the sword makers first, but that should not take long.

Then there were other things she wanted to do before eating.

When the Priests had finished, a blue disc of light hovered over the ground near the fire pit. [Whoa! I’ve heard nothing of the ritual, yet suddenly it’s finished! You need to describe it] The Covenors formed a line to await their turns and Q'La filed in behind them.

D'She stopped her after the others had gone.

"Remember what I said to you before."

"Yes, Hun Lo Me," said Q'La. If she told anyone else about the muozi, it would be Xe. Otherwise she would obey the decree of her High Priest.

"Be sure to acquire a new sword before returning to your hut. I expect you to have it painted and attuned by tomorrow night."

Q'La bowed her head and said, "It will be done."

D'She bowed to release her and she passed through the glowing portal.

Q'La ignored the momentary discomfort that comes [came] from gate travel as [remove “as” and put “comma and” instead] she stepped into a clearing outside of Yagove.

This was the space that the Coven used for ritual. There was another clearing like this south of the village, which was for the common Jutsu. [Again, you need more description]

All the villages had a Coven by the same name that was designated and trained for tribal defense, and the Elders could summon them at any time. But defense [is that an American spelling? I’m not sure.] was not the only purpose of the Jutsue and the People formed theirs as well.

Every Clan built armed forces based on the ritual units, which they called "Primary" and "Secondary." The commander was always the High Hand, although the High Priest facilitated ritual and combat within the Coven. In some Clans, the High Hand and the High Priest was the same person—but this was unusual. There were thirteen Primaries, composed of the Clan Elder Coven and the other twelve Tribal Elder Covens.

Some villages were large and had as many as three or four ritual circles. Most, like Yagove, had two.

The Priests came through the portal behind Q'La and [then] it disappeared.

Q'La noticed then that only eight Covenors had returned from the battle. The Priests would need to refill the empty spaces before nightfall, since they may be required to fight again at a moment's notice.

Her body ached despite the healing. The stream by her hut seemed more inviting now.

Q'La bowed to the Priests and began to walk toward the sword makers' pavilion when they dismissed her.

Yagove, like the village she had grown up in, specialized in forging swords. Forgers were a special kind of War Witch that focused their Art on making weapons. The pavilion was outside of the village proper, to the west.

The memory of the village of Wudan, where the Clan Elders lived, made her frown. [why?]

She felt the heat from the pavilion nearly two hundred paces away. Three Forgers hammered new weapons while half a dozen apprentices scurried about on various errands.

Q'La approached Boroqu, the senior Forger, and tried to get his attention as he leaned [placed?] a new sword on the weapon rack.

Boroqu scowled when he saw her.

"Find one that [don’t need “that”] you like and go," he said.

When Q'La bowed, he waved a hand in dismissal.

"I do not like it when my Art is tainted," said Boroqu. [you could merge these sentences with a comma] Then he returned to his work.

Q'La tried to ignore him and began to search the rack for a suitable weapon. [describe a few of them]

The one she picked was shorter than Dark Huntress was, but the wide curves and the spurs by the pommel seemed to call to her.

Carefully, she slipped the new blade into the sheath on her back. The sheath was too long and only the end of the hilt extended above the opening. Q'La would adjust it later, after she attuned to the sword and gave it a name.

Then she walked quietly out of the pavilion and traveled around the north side of Yagove to avoid contact with others. She planned to go to the village later, to visit her family and Xe, but for now she did not want to see anyone.

Q'La hoped to find her father today and that [remove “that” and write in “she hoped” again] he would finally speak to her after all these years. Her heart ached for him and Jun and her memories of their love [sounds as if the end half of this sentence has been added on as an afterthought].

Her hut was not in the village because everyone feared the curse. She had to travel through the jungle nearly half a league to reach it.

The hut was smaller than most, which had to accommodate as many as five or six people. It was circular, built with strong tsunga branches [comma] and [was] covered with leaves of the same plant. The roof was flat and made with the same material. The People used a mixture of viscous fluids for waterproofing.

They also used magic in the construction of their homes, and protected them [who or what is “them”? Make the pronoun for "houses" clearer.] with shields when they were complete.

Xe had shielded this hut with extra care, since it was so far outside the stronger protections of the village.

Dema Xe was the High Priest for Yagove's only common Coven, which they called "Lost in the Goddess." All the communal Jutsue had individual names like this.

Q'La normally reached her hut in less time than she did now, but she was exhausted and knew that [“that” is unneeded] she would not rest until after Moon Song.

She entered her home and began to undress, removing her weapons first.

Then she carried her Gi outside and stretched out [repeat of “out”] each piece on a large rock beside the stream. When this was done, she began to pound on the garments with a hand-sized stone to clean them.

Q'La continued this activity for about a Mark, which the People reckoned by the position of the sun during the day—or the stars at night. Afterward, she carefully folded the Gi and carried it back into the hut.

She bathed in the cool water of the stream then [comma] and changed into normal tribal clothing before beginning the task of attuning to her new weapon.

Her stomach rumbled and she recalled that she had not eaten since the previous day. [very vague on the description. Describe how it feels for her -- how uncomfortable is it? This will gain reader sympathy]

I will eat later, she told herself.

Q'La stepped outside again into the hot sun, bringing the sword and her painting skins with her.

It was nearly midday already as [remove “already as” and use “when”] she began the attuning ritual. She stood in the center of a small clearing and extended the blade before her, both hands grasping the hilt. Then she traced a clockwise circle in the air around her while softly droning the name of her goddess.

"Ju'Xai Ju, Ju'Xai Ju, Ju'Xai Ju . . ."

Q'La began to exercise with the sword. As she moved, she said the words, "I name you Evening Star. You are mine; [comma, not semicolon] I am yours; we . . . are one."

She continued to dance and chant within the imaginary circle for a time. [put the “for a time” after “chant”, then add a comma beforehand -- this may help the flow of the sentence]

When she stopped, she sat down and placed the sword across her knees.
Q'La reached for her painting skins and arrayed [arranged?] them before her. One skin contained water and the rest held the paints, which she dabbed onto a large, flat stone. She would apply the paints with a brush made of a thin branch with a small bundle of animal hair tied to one end.

To prevent the paint from chipping, Q'La would use a combination of spells and a clear fluid that herbalists derived from special plants. She did not know what plant the fluid came from, but she was not an herbalist so it did not matter to her. Q'La was only concerned with enchanting and attuning her weapon.

The blade she covered in black, which took some [remove “some”] time to accomplish [comma] and she realized that she would need to bathe again when she [was] finished. Then she painted a star between the spurs near the hilt.

To complete the first part of the ritual, Q'La said a prayer and afterward banished the circle.





Okay, I’ll be honest (*ducks*), I didn’t get into this excerpt. A lot of it seemed like telling rather than showing. I know it’s a second chapter, but I also felt there wasn’t enough description and feeling to engage me. I want to see, hear, smell, and experience everything, not be told odd little bits here and there. Bring the reader into your world -- let us see it in all its glory.

Also, you’ve a lot of sentences starting with “Then”. This tends to make it feel as if you’re reporting a list, not telling a story, e.g., “I went to the shops, then I bought a coat, then I went and ate a sandwich, then....” You see?

Also, the first part of this chapter felt as if you were reporting what had (I assume) just happened in the previous chapter (a battle). Just a thought anyway!

Another point: you might try adding contractions to your speech/narrative -- it will make the speech sound less formal and more realistic (e.g. it’s, wasn’t, hasn’t, won’t, can’t, etc.]. Of course, feel free to ignore me!

I hope I’ve helped! :)
 
Last edited:

Michael01

Coven of the Worm
Joined
Feb 1, 2007
Messages
938
Location
The people who love you are worth more than gold.
D'She remained on the roof.

"Q'La? Are you wounded?" he said. [if, before asking about wounds, he’s not enquiring whether she’s there, you don’t have to have two separate questions; use a comma instead of first question mark. Also, who’s “he”? At first it sounds as if he is an unnamed man, since (and bear in mind this is just my opinion) D'She sounds feminine (it's the "She" bit, I think) and the name isn't linked to the previous paragraph. I know this is chapter two, but mentioning his name again would help here -- either that, or linking the two paragraphs together somehow would suffice]

Merging these two sentences into one paragraph is a good idea. Thanks.


Q'La turned her head and said, "It is not that." [you tend not to use contractions in your speech -- is this a conscious choice? To make the dialogue more realistic you could put “It’s not that”]
Yes, this is deliberate. I meant to convey a different speech pattern for the Hunjan people. You think it might still work better if I use contractions anyway?

Q'La could not forget that nine shadow monkeys had focused their attacks on her during the battle. Nor could she dismiss the image of the muozi's grin when it [had] stalked D'She. [Also, would it be “they” or “one” rather than “it”?]
It might not be clear in this paragraph, but the shadow monkeys and the muozi are not the same. One? Hmm. Since it was the muozi High Priest, maybe I should be even more specific. Thanks!

D'She said, "Come. I have more wounded to tend, Deu among them, and we must gather in the village circle before sunrise." [you tend to write the dialogue tag before the dialogue -- is this intentional? Most people find it natural to write the he/she said tags at the first natural break in the speech, e.g., “Come,” D’She said. “I have...”]
Actually, I tend to vary the position of the dialogue tag, so that I'm not doing it the same way every time. You really haven't seen it done this way?

She watched as [remove “as”] the priests of Yagove combined [remove “d” on the end if you removed earlier “as”] spells to build a gate to their home village. She knew that gate spells were complex and required more energy than most Witches had available. [this is telling. Show that it requires more energy by making the women appear weaken as they perform it]
You've made this point a lot, and mostly I have to agree with you, but here I'm not sure. I was more concerned with Q'La's thoughts. Hmm. I will consider revising it anyway...thanks again!

I should clarify something here. The "Witches" of Hunjan are both male and female. I know how this word may be used in other fantasy stories, but I am going by research I've done on different pagan religions, including Wicca, Witta, and Traditional Witchcraft. In these traditions, a "Warlock" is not a male witch but an "oathbreaker."

This was the space that the Coven used for ritual. There was another clearing like this south of the village, which was for the common Jutsu. [Again, you need more description]
Hold on there. Too much description can be distracting and slow down the action, can't it? Well, maybe a little might be appropriate.

All the villages had a Coven by the same name that was designated and trained for tribal defense, and the Elders could summon them at any time. But defense [is that an American spelling? I’m not sure.] was not the only purpose of the Jutsue and the People formed theirs as well.
Yes, this is the American spelling. I understand the British spelling is "defence," correct?

The memory of the village of Wudan, where the Clan Elders lived, made her frown. [why?]
Good question. I looked at that sentence a little while ago and realized that it didn't seem to fit. I either need more exposition here, or I need to drop the sentence altogether.

Q'La hoped to find her father today and that [remove “that” and write in “she hoped” again] he would finally speak to her after all these years. Her heart ached for him and Jun and her memories of their love [sounds as if the end half of this sentence has been added on as an afterthought].
Isn't that repetition? Maybe I can think of another way to rewrite this sentence without repeating the word "hope?" As for the next sentence, you're right, it does sound like an afterthought. Thanks for pointing that out.

Then she carried her Gi outside and stretched out [repeat of “out”] each piece on a large rock beside the stream. When this was done, she began to pound on the garments with a hand-sized stone to clean them.
Oops! Missed that one. Thank you!


Also, you’ve a lot of sentences starting with “Then”. This tends to make it feel as if you’re reporting a list, not telling a story, e.g., “I went to the shops, then I bought a coat, then I went and ate a sandwich, then....” You see?
I'm not sure. I just try to vary the sentence structure as I go along. Maybe I'm not accomplishing that as well as I'd hoped. Of course, this is just the first draft, and it does need a lot of revision.

Also, the first part of this chapter felt as if you were reporting what had (I assume) just happened in the previous chapter (a battle). Just a thought anyway!
Yes , that's exactly what I'm doing. That's not unusual, as far as I know.

I hope I’ve helped! :)
Yes, you have, Leisha You've made a lot of useful comments and pointed out things I've missed. I appreciate it very much.
 

Erin99

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 28, 2007
Messages
3,191
Yes, this is deliberate. I meant to convey a different speech pattern for the Hunjan people. You think it might still work better if I use contractions anyway?

If I was honest, I'd say using a lot of un-contracted (is that a word?) words can seem very distracting when used a fair bit (others will probably disagree now, you watch!). As always, this is just my opinion as a reader!

It might not be clear in this paragraph, but the shadow monkeys and the muozi are not the same. One? Hmm. Since it was the muozi High Priest, maybe I should be even more specific. Thanks!

Oh, my mistake! I've re-read it again and I'd got it wrong! (I'm finding it hard to concentrate ATM, since I've been very busy lately!).


Actually, I tend to vary the position of the dialogue tag, so that I'm not doing it the same way every time. You really haven't seen it done this way?

Yeah, I use it on occasion too. But I read somewhere that one specific agent advised against using it in this way; they said that the speech should come first, then the speech tags. Just a thought!


I should clarify something here. The "Witches" of Hunjan are both male and female.

I'd definitely make that clearer in your work, then! Some people may not realise it, though I did. The stereotype is always female though, so, yeah, you've got a point -- why is that? I like the idea of male "witches"!


Hold on there. Too much description can be distracting and slow down the action, can't it? Well, maybe a little might be appropriate.

Yes, you're right, it can -- but I found you sometimes had a little too little... :D


Yes, this is the American spelling. I understand the British spelling is "defence," correct?

Yup! I never know where I stand with the differences between British and American; it's so alike yet so different.


Isn't that repetition? Maybe I can think of another way to rewrite this sentence without repeating the word "hope?" As for the next sentence, you're right, it does sound like an afterthought. Thanks for pointing that out.

I try to avoid all repetition, yet sometimes you have no choice but to use it if the sentence sounds strange or confusing. Even in The Elements of Style, Strunk and White have repeating words -- and they're the ones who try to push synonyms!

Yes , that's exactly what I'm doing. That's not unusual, as far as I know.

Ah, but do you need to retell events if you make us see them in the first place? Watching the battle unfold will hook us and save the need for recounting it later. Conversely, if you have described the battle in chapter one, do you necessarily need to describe it again in this one?

Yes, you have, Leisha You've made a lot of useful comments and pointed out things I've missed. I appreciate it very much.


Thank you! I always hope my comments are taken for what they are, i.e., just my opinions, which may or may not be of some use. :D
 

Erin99

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Q'La hoped to find her father today and that he would finally speak to her after all these years


I don't know the story, but here's my offering:

Q'La wished above all else that she would find her father today, and she could not deny that a part of her hoped he would finally speak to her. It was a foolish wish, but at certain times in her life she'd longed to have a father who would hold her, comfort her, and guide her -- the love others took for granted -- yet for years she'd coped without.


Of course, you could always just ignore me! ;)
 

Michael01

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It is a little too little description. I'll work on that.

The differences between British and American spellings can be a bit awkward. In fact, I thought that "judgement" is a perfectly logical spelling, but then I learn the American spelling is "judgment." Well, no one ever accused us Yanks of making sense, anyway.:D

Nice offereing, by the way. Well done. Thanks again for all your help!
 

Dafydd Cymraeg

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I don't know the story, but here's my offering:

Q'La wished above all else that she would find her father today, and she could not deny that a part of her hoped he would finally speak to her. It was a foolish wish, but at certain times in her life she'd longed to have a father who would hold her, comfort her, and guide her -- the love others took for granted -- yet for years she'd coped without.
Leisha, that's quite an impressive paragraph...were you possibly being sponsored by the women's lib for the number of 'she's' and 'her's' you could get in? ;)


Michael, this would not normally be the style of work that I'd read, but even so I have to agree with Leisha that I didn't 'get into it' either. Although the names are a bit harsh for my personal tastes I reached a point about half way through where the sentence style became too repetitive and the stop-start seemed to stop me getting any real flow going.

I'm not skilled enough to know what the problem was for me but, on reflection, most the sentences seem to start 'hard'. Not sure how to explain it, but these for me are hard (when this approach is used often):
She might ...
There was ...
The Priests ...
Forgers were ...
The sheath ...

And these are softer:
It was circular ...
All the communal ...
But I do not ...
Q'La might have ...
Although it ...
When the Priests ...

I hope I managed to get something of what I felt across. Whether it helps or not is for a better person than me to say!
 

The Pelagic Argosy

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I'll second Dafydd's concerns about the style.

The writing in this piece, both dialogue and exposition, is very stiff and formal. I feel like this story is being "explained" to me rather than having the scene brought to life. In fact, the way you are telling this story isn't much different than your explanatary paragraph at the top of the post.

Take this paragraph for example...

"Every Clan built armed forces based on the ritual units which they called 'Primary' and 'Secondary.' The commander was always the High Hand, although the High Priest facilitated ritual and combat within the Coven. In some clans, the High Priest was the same person - but this was unusual...."

There are several paragraphs like this in your story, and this is what you should avoid. It reads like a textbook. There's no action, emotion, characterization or vivid description. You might think this is information that readers need to know, and you don't know how else to present it. I don't know for sure, but I'm almost certain we don't need this information. It's interfering rather than helping.

Here are some examples of what I think you should focus on instead.

At the opening of the story, Q'La and D'She are recovering after a battle of some kind. I surmise this as D'She says he has "more wounded to attend." The devesation that apparently surrounds them isn't described at all. I don't know what sort of wounds Q'La has sustained or to what part(s) of her body. I don't even know if she's sitting, standing, or laying down...or where. Is she on the roof with D'She? On the blood-soaked ground?

The dialogue is more exposition, placed between quotation marks. Q'La and D'She are rehashing the facts of the battle. Where is the emotion? Sadness or anger perhaps over the battle and the wounded? The dialogue is not revealing anything about their characters or relationship. D'She is breaking the rules by healing Q'La. Why? Is there some tenderness there?

Then, there is the healing itself. Again, I don't know what's being healed. D'She "raised his wand" and performed incantations. What sort of incantations? How long does it take? Is there any physical exertion involved? Does he have to close his eyes or go into a trance or anything? What does Q'La feel during the healing? Does it hurt? Do the wounds disappear completely?
 

Erin99

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Leisha, that's quite an impressive paragraph...were you possibly being sponsored by the women's lib for the number of 'she's' and 'her's' you could get in? ;)
Oh no! I've just re-read it and you're right! :eek: In my defence, I have been really ill lately (and busy on top of this!), so I've not been on top form. As such, I haven't even been able to carry on with my own writing... :(
But I'm better now, and will be resuming my writing very soon!


Well, that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it! :p
 

JDP

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Hi, You have some good critiques here so I won't say much.

The thing that got me was the term 'shadow monkeys'. I think you have to be very careful using 'monkey' in a name without it sounding funny (to me anyway).

'Shadow Monkeys' just made me think of the Wizard of Oz and a particular Simpsons episode where Mr Burns releases a cage of winged monkeys (á la Oz) and they all plummet to their doom out the window.

"Smithers, continue the research."

I'm afraid I just couldn't take an attack by nine (or nine hundred) shadow monkeys seriously.
 

Michael01

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Hi, You have some good critiques here so I won't say much.

The thing that got me was the term 'shadow monkeys'. I think you have to be very careful using 'monkey' in a name without it sounding funny (to me anyway).

'Shadow Monkeys' just made me think of the Wizard of Oz and a particular Simpsons episode where Mr Burns releases a cage of winged monkeys (á la Oz) and they all plummet to their doom out the window.

"Smithers, continue the research."

I'm afraid I just couldn't take an attack by nine (or nine hundred) shadow monkeys seriously.
Could you if you were given a description of them first? I'm afraid this is something that would be difficult to change, since each clan is named after an animal, and the muozi are extremist Witches from the Monkey Clan.

Still, thank you all for your comments. I will consider them as I revise.
 

JDP

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Perhaps, if there was a good description/reason for them being called that it wouldn't jump out at me. From the looks of it, there is, and it fits with the rest of your world - so I wouldn't worry too much about what one reader (me) thinks. No-one else has commented on it, so the whole 'monkey=humour' thing is probably specific to me.
 

Michael01

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Actually, JDP, you're really not the first to mention the humor associated with "monkeys." There's an old thread around here with part of a short I posted, called "A Scout's Heart" - which takes place in the same world. I can't remember who said it exactly, but it's there. So it is something that I will at least think about when describing these creatures.
 

Interference

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I hate coming in half-way through the movie. All these crits have made any points worth making, but it struck me while I was going through them that you seem to have done yourself a disservice by not offering the first chapter. That's where you engage you reader, after all. That's where 'monkeys' are shown not to be in the least bit funny. That's where the he's and D'shes get sorted out. How do you feel about giving us a look at chapter one?
 

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