Character voice (~500 words)

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allmywires

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I'm experimenting with a new character POV in my sequel, and I was wondering whether it comes across right. (She's the bad guy, but a sympathetic one - or at least I'm working on making her sympathetic).

So - does she come across as sympathetic? Also, are you interested? The card-reading mentioned here is the first introduction of it - does it work?

*

At Port Halberd, the mist curled back off the sea like a sneer, and she dressed in full Isirian veil, after trading her last silver coins for the dress of a well-to-do foreign pleasure-trader in the town’s outskirts. She had always thought Gondwanaland a rather dull place – green was her least favourite colour, followed closely by grey, and everything in this mountain-streaked wilderness was a shade of green or grey – though she would concede Olympia was a fine city, rather enjoyable even. The last of her gold weighed heavily in her hand as she approached the docks, stacked full with trading barges. She walked slowly through the main street, cluttered with the remains of market day.

She was very tempted to go into the striped conical tent to her left, set back into an alcove and decorated with the cuneiform of old Orian script. Fort Nader had had its benefits; she could now speak passable commonspeak Orian, and read some too. She didn’t need to, though, since she knew the word well, though in any case it had been scrawled on the little sign propped by the tent flap.

Naibet.

Lingering by a pear-fruit stall, pretending to be interested in the difference between melon-pears and berry-pears, she considered the tent. No, she wouldn’t go, since she’d taught herself the art of naibet as a child – really, it was very easy – and she always drew the same cards, the same fortunes, though of course one wasn’t supposed to read one’s own fortune, it being extremely bad luck. The future is uncertain, consult later. Darkness comes. The Phoenix – rising or falling, hard to tell. The Sorceress in ascendance – well, that is a difficult one...

She’d had professional naibet-fortunes told to her in the back streets of central Palam, and they had all told her the same thing, given her the same odd stare, drawn the same cards: the Queen, the Phoenix, the Sorceress, and Death. Every time, the same printed blank-eyed skull, the same sympathetic look on the witch-woman as she explained, ‘Now, cariu miu, Death does not mean what you think...’

Which she knew very well, of course, but it was no comfort. What use were soothsayers if not to tell truths? Or half-truths, at least, but at best every fortune she had read was as vague as the wind.

In the end she bought several melon-pears, getting change for one of the gold coins, and walked straight past the tent, crossing to the other side of the market. Besides, she thought to herself as she crunched the fruit, Orian spies were everywhere these days. What was to say the witches hadn’t become slaves for the Divinity as well?
 

Mouse

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I'm not getting EBIL so yes, she comes across as a person so I'd say you've got it. Your first sentence is a bit of a mouthful.

That's it. :)
 

allmywires

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ta :)

It is a bit of a stinker, whoops. Nipped a semicolon in there and fixed it.

p.s. is ebil the new-age evil? ;)
 

Mouse

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Ebil's what the young folk say. I know this, cos I'm one of them. Duh. ;)
 

Hex

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Nice. I like her. I like the voice.

I agree about the first sentence but now you've fixed it (bah! there goes my useful comment) and I have only this to say:

I don't completely understand what's going on with the fortune reading. She's tempted to go into the tent but...

No, she wouldn’t go, since she’d taught herself the art of naibet as a child – really, it was very easy – and she always drew the same cards, the same fortunes, though of course one wasn’t supposed to read one’s own fortune, it being extremely bad luck.
I read this five or six times before I started to think I might understand it. I'm very tired so it's probably me. But if she taught herself to read the cards as a child then why was she tempted to go into the tent in the first place? I get why she doesn't go in, but not why she might want to.

I loved the pears.

EDIT: Oh, Mouse. You young folk and your adorable balderdash!
 

allmywires

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Thanks Hex. She's tempted to go in because although she taught herself - she has a special, er, for want of a better word power - she had the cards read for her in the past in the hope that they would come up with something different.

Hopefully that sentence makes sense...

eta: yup, what Mouse said.
 

Hex

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It might just have been the longish sentence that I had a bit of difficulty disentangling.

Maybe it's the 'since' that threw me -- I wasn't sure if it was 'since' meaning 'since she was a child' or 'since' as 'because' -- ie: 'since she already knew how to read the cards she wasn't going to have them read again'.
 

Warren_Paul

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Hey allmywires. Firstly, to answer your question, she comes across as human, but not an antagonist. Reading this, I'd have thought she was going to be one of the good guys. I wouldn't say sympathetic comes across to me, since there is nothing for her to be sympathetic towards in the sample. We can feel that way towards her, which is being built up in the scene, but not her towards others yet.

I always found Tarot interesting, I loved what Steven Erikson did with it in his Malazan books - The Deck of Dragons, and I get that same interest here. I'd like to read more about the foretelling.


Okay, so onto the in-depth critiquing. I'm afraid the first paragraph is quite rough.

At Port Halberd,-I don't like how the first sentence starts, I'd fit the name of the location somewhere else and start with 'The'-

the mist curled back off the sea like a sneer, and she dressed in full Isirian veil, after trading her last silver coins for the dress of a well-to-do foreign pleasure-trader in the town’s outskirts.-This bit in red doesn't go with the beginning of the sentence, you're trying to fit too much in one go- She had always thought Gondwanaland a rather dull place – green was her least favourite colour, followed closely by grey, and everything in this mountain-streaked wilderness was a shade of green or grey-This digression pulled me out of the story, the way it was structured made me wonder what the relevance was, until I got to the end of the sentence. I think you should mention the landscape being green beforehand, not afterwards- – though she would concede Olympia was a fine city, rather enjoyable even. The last of her gold weighed heavily in her hand as she approached the docks-The last of her gold coming after the 'last of her silver' threw me a bit. When you said 'the last of her silver' that implied to me that she had no money at all left, since gold would receive silver as change-, stacked full with trading barges. She walked slowly through the main street, cluttered with the remains of market day.-I'm not sure about this last sentence, we've gone from approaching the docks to walking through the town, it confuses the reader about where exactly she is-

She was very tempted to go into the striped conical tent to her left, set back into an alcove and decorated with the cuneiform of old Orian script. Fort Nader had had its benefits; she could now speak passable commonspeak -saying 'speak' and 'commonspeak' in the same sentence jars with me- Orian, and read some too. She didn’t need to, though, since she knew the word well, though in any case it had been scrawled on the little sign propped by the tent flap. -Repeat of though, but the sentence as a whole is clumsy and doesn't completely make sense either-

Naibet.

Lingering by a pear-fruit stall, pretending to be interested in the difference between melon-pears and berry-pears, she considered the tent. No, she wouldn’t go, since-In blue doesn't make sense, and doesn't seem to be needed either anyway- she’d taught herself the art of naibet as a child – really, it was very easy – and she always drew the same cards, the same fortunes, though of course one wasn’t supposed to read one’s -Repeat of one- own fortune, it being extremely bad luck. The future is uncertain, consult later. Darkness comes. The Phoenix – rising or falling, hard to tell. The Sorceress in ascendance – well, that is a difficult one...

She’d had professional naibet-fortunes told to her in the back streets of central Palam, and they had all told her the same thing, given her the same odd stare, drawn the same cards: the Queen, the Phoenix, the Sorceress, and Death. Every time, the same printed blank-eyed skull, the same sympathetic look on the witch-woman as she explained, ‘Now, cariu miu, Death does not mean what you think...’

Which she knew very well, of course, but it was no comfort. What use were soothsayers if not to tell truths? Or half-truths, at least, but at best every fortune she had read was as vague as the wind.

In the end she bought several melon-pears, getting change for one of the gold coins, and walked straight past the tent, crossing to the other side of the market. Besides, she thought to herself as she crunched the fruit, Orian spies were everywhere these days. What was to say the witches hadn’t become slaves for the Divinity as well?
 

Jo Zebedee

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blah - flags. So many flags.
sorry AMW, meant to get to it earlier, but ended up side tracked.

At Port Halberdgood, I'm centred, the mist curled back off the sea like a sneerI like this very much, and she dressed in full Isirian veil,drop comma? after trading her last silver coins for the dress of a well-to-do foreign pleasure-traderthis seems just a bit unweiley, do you need it? in the town’s outskirts. She had always thought GondwanalandJust to check, and I think you're a geologist and if so you know this, but there used to be a continental plain called this. It took me out a little as I tried to wonder what relevance it had to the story. a rather dull place – green was her least favourite colour, followed closely by grey, and everything in this mountain-streaked wilderness was a shade of green or greyI like the thought in the ellipsis, but I think it's a little long – though she would concede Olympia was a fine city, rather enjoyable even. The last of herthe? gold weighed heavily in her hand as she approached the docks, stacked full with trading barges. She walked slowly through the main street, cluttered with the remains of market day.

She was very tempted to go into the striped conical tent to her left, set back into an alcove and decorated with the cuneiform of old Orian script. Fort Naderthe different place name threw me, something like spending the last months in Fort Nader might avoid that had hadOk, my pet hate is had had (there are many, but it's top of my current list), and if you add the conjunction to the start you can get rid of it. its benefits; she could now speak passable commonspeak Orian, and read some too. She didn’t need to, though, since she knew the word well, thoughrepeat of though - I think the first could go, and you'd save two unwieldy commas? in any case it had been scrawled on the little sign propped by the tent flap.

Naibet.

Lingering by a pear-fruit stall, pretending to be interested in the difference between melon-pears and berry-pears, she considered the tent. No, she wouldn’t go, since she’d taught herself the art of naibet as a child – really, it was very easy – and she always drew the same cards, the same fortunes, though of course one wasn’t supposed to read one’s own fortune, it being extremely bad luckFirstly, your work on pov is really showing here, this is lovely and close. (grit your teeth through the pain, it gets easier. :) secondly, in tarot it's not bad luck to do your own reading. I'm not sure how close a correlation between the two you're looking for, but I've done my own reading several times and there are patterns that let you do this. It might be preferable not. But, if it's a different thing in your world, ignore - and I'm an amateur, so maybe someone with more experience might correst me. The future is uncertain, consult later. Darkness comes. The Phoenix – rising or falling, hard to tell. The Sorceress in ascendance – well, that is a difficult one...

She’d had professional naibet-fortunes told to her in the back streets of central Palam, and they had all told her the same thing, given her the same odd stare, drawn the same cards: the Queen, the Phoenix, the Sorceress, and Death. Every time, the same printed blank-eyed skull, the same sympathetic look on the witch-woman as she explained, ‘Now, cariu miu, Death does not mean what you think...’

Which she knew very well, of course, but it was no comfort. What use were soothsayers if not to tell truths? Or half-truths, at least, but at best every fortune she had read was as vague as the wind.

In the end she bought several melon-pears, getting change for one of the gold coins, and walked straight past the tent, crossing to the other side of the market. Besides, she thought to herself as she crunched the fruit, Orian spies were everywhere these days. What was to say the witches hadn’t become slaves for the Divinity as well?[/QUOTE]

Despite the red, which are mostly nits with extended thoughts, I enjoyed this. I enjoyed the scene. I think your balance of description and action are much, much better, which gives a flow to the scene. If she is supposed to be the baddy, I didn't get that, but that's okay, that can come and I'm happy to go, urghhh, what a so and so...
 

Kylara

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At Port Halberd, the mist curled back off the sea like a sneer, and she dressed in full Isirian veil, after trading her last silver coins for the dress of a well-to-do foreign pleasure-trader in the town’s outskirts.

Ok loving the first bit, but the trading and the veil seems like it shouldn't be connected to that. Maybe full stop and then the veil, and you don't need the "town's outskirts" it pulls me off a little...

She had always thought Gondwanaland a rather dull place – green was her least favourite colour, followed closely by grey, and everything in this mountain-streaked wilderness was a shade of green or grey – though she would concede Olympia was a fine city, rather enjoyable even.

I think the least favourite and the colouring should be swapped: "She had always thought Gondwanaland a rather dull place; everything in this mountain-streaked wilderness was a shade of green or grey – her two least favourite colours – although she would concede Olympia was a fine city, even, possibly, rather enjoyable" something like that


The last of her gold weighed heavily in her hand as she approached the docks, stacked full with trading barges. She walked slowly through the main street, cluttered with the remains of market day.

Just a query here...is she at the market on the docks, or at a market on the street, moving towards the docks? If the latter, how can she see the docks? My experiences with markets near docks has stopped me from seeing the barges and whatnot until I am at the edge of the dock market? Your Port may be less busy or more well ordered than the one I visit occassionally though...

She was very tempted to go into the striped conical tent to her left, set back into an alcove and decorated with the cuneiform of old Orian script. Fort Nader had had its benefits; she could now speak passable commonspeak Orian, and read some too. She didn’t need to, though, since she knew the word well, though in any case it had been scrawled on the little sign propped by the tent flap.

Personal pref here, "striped conical tent, set back into an alcove to her left, decorated" to me that flows a little better, but again, personal pref... Ah repetition of speak jumps out at me, and combined with the had had makes this sentence very jerky...

Naibet.

Lingering by a pear-fruit stall, pretending to be interested in the difference between melon-pears and berry-pears, she considered the tent. No, she wouldn’t go, since she’d taught herself the art of naibet as a child – really, it was very easy – and she always drew the same cards, the same fortunes, though of course one wasn’t supposed to read one’s own fortune, it being extremely bad luck. The future is uncertain, consult later. Darkness comes. The Phoenix – rising or falling, hard to tell. The Sorceress in ascendance – well, that is a difficult one...

the "since" threw me too, I don't think you need it...and I think a semi colon after fortunes maybe? And is it bad luck or only considered bad luck? I get a little confused with the occult.

She’d had professional naibet-fortunes told to her in the back streets of central Palam, and they had all told her the same thing, given her the same odd stare, drawn the same cards: the Queen, the Phoenix, the Sorceress, and Death. Every time, the same printed blank-eyed skull, the same sympathetic look on the witch-woman as she explained, ‘Now, cariu miu, Death does not mean what you think...’

Which she knew very well, of course, but it was no comfort. What use were soothsayers if not to tell truths? Or half-truths, at least, but at best every fortune she had read was as vague as the wind.

I like this part, but the last sentence doesn't flow well for me, I'm not sure why...it might be the commas..."Or at least half-truths" perhaps...

In the end she bought several melon-pears, getting change for one of the gold coins, and walked straight past the tent, crossing to the other side of the market. Besides, she thought to herself as she crunched the fruit, Orian spies were everywhere these days. What was to say the witches hadn’t become slaves for the Divinity as well?

I like it, not my sort of character though, all occulty, but i enjoyed the passage, I think I will like her more once we have a bit more of her chucking evil about though...
 

allmywires

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It's based on tarot (I like the idea of it but have never done one myself) and it's my version that's bad luck, springs, I have no idea about what real tarot rules are. Not to say I haven't done my research though.

Just to clarify - she's not the Big Bad-type character, just that she's the main visible antagonist in Book 1 and in books 2 and 3 I'm aiming to give her a little more backstory and accountability, because there's not much seen from her POV in book 1 to explain her actions.

Thank you all for your comments!
 

Kylara

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Haha I do believe this thread may have generated a new advert! I am suddenly seeing tarot reading adverts everywhere, where there were none before...think you're onto a winner here allmywires :wink:
 

ctg

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At Port Halberd, the mist curled back off the sea like a sneer, and she dressed in full Isirian veil, after trading her last silver coins for the dress of a well-to-do foreign pleasure-trader in the town’s outskirts.

Separate these two from each other and focus just only one thing. You don't want to mess up with readers imagination and it's safer if you don't go overly artistic with your descriptions.

She had always thought Gondwanaland a rather dull place – green was her least favourite colour, followed closely by grey, and everything in this mountain-streaked wilderness was a shade of green or grey – though she would concede Olympia was a fine city, rather enjoyable even. The last of her gold weighed heavily in her hand as she approached the docks, stacked full with trading barges. She walked slowly through the main street, cluttered with the remains of market day.

Your descriptions are a bit all over the place. So like I said, focus on one thing and do not repeat what you've already said, unless it's a necessity for your prose.

She was very tempted to go into the striped conical tent to her left, set back into an alcove and decorated with the cuneiform of old Orian script. Fort Nader had had its benefits; she could now speak passable commonspeak Orian, and read some too. She didn’t need to, though, since she knew the word well, though in any case it had been scrawled on the little sign propped by the tent flap.

Naibet.

Lingering by a pear-fruit stall, pretending to be interested in the difference between melon-pears and berry-pears, she considered the tent. No, she wouldn’t go, since she’d taught herself the art of naibet as a child – really, it was very easy – and she always drew the same cards, the same fortunes, though of course one wasn’t supposed to read one’s own fortune, it being extremely bad luck.

The future is uncertain, consult later. Darkness comes. The Phoenix – rising or falling, hard to tell. The Sorceress in ascendance – well, that is a difficult one...

It's flowing. So you're getting in there and the reader is getting in her head, but there are still some description problem that I've notice. The highlighted bit is something that you don't need as it has been already implied in the sentence. The saying goes: "Don't think your readers as morons, because they surely aren't that."

I also dropped the last four sentences in italics to own para as it works better.

She’d had professional naibet-fortunes told to her in the back streets of central Palam, and they had all told her the same thing, given her the same odd stare, drawn the same cards: the Queen, the Phoenix, the Sorceress, and Death. Every time, the same printed blank-eyed skull, the same sympathetic look on the witch-woman as she explained, ‘Now, cariu miu, Death does not mean what you think...’

Which she knew very well, of course, but it was no comfort. What use were soothsayers if not to tell truths? Or half-truths, at least, but at best every fortune she had read was as vague as the wind.

In the end she bought several melon-pears, getting change for one of the gold coins, and walked straight past the tent, crossing to the other side of the market. Besides, she thought to herself as she crunched the fruit, Orian spies were everywhere these days. What was to say the witches hadn’t become slaves for the Divinity as well?

In the last para, you start to waver a bit and my advice to is to keep writing and leave this with the comments that you've gathered. And when you come back to this scene, read the comments and then read your prose as it will open your eyes.

And to answer your question, the character is a bit flat at the moment, but you'll get it right when you write more in her POV.
 
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