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Chapter 1 Revision

Discussion in 'Critiques' started by Lafayette, Jan 11, 2017.

  1.  
    Lafayette

    Lafayette Well-Known Member

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    Thank you for your time and thoughtful insight. It is greatly appreciated. I studied yours and the others critiques along with purchasing the Wonderbook. I thought that you may be wondering where I was going with this chapter since I couldn't submit the whole thing.

    This excerpt with the rewrite runs about three pages and is under 1400 words. As chapters go I believed that this isn't too long.

    If you still have any more comments or questions please voice them.


    “Elvenwood: there is no such thing and there is no such thing as magic.”

    Penoit Seysounné: Guitar Maker

    Chapter 1

    What Is Elvenwood?


    Penoit leaned back in his chair and took a light breath, “As usual that was beautiful, Vair. I especially enjoyed the interlude of the third movement.” Then he added as his finger played with his thin black mustache, “Most guitarists play it more robustly, but your delicate pianissimos are much better.”

    “Merci, Penoit. Those ears of yours don’t miss much,” replied Vair Rohnonay as the twelve-string’s resonance gracefully faded into the afternoon air. The old gentleman studied the chubby man sipping his wine. “I wish that you would become one of my students. I could make you a great guitarist.”

    “No, no, mon ami,” smiled Penoit as a black lock of hair dangled over his ebony-blue eyes. “I am forty-seven years old, too old to learn anything new,” he added waving his arms. “I have not the temperament for it. Besides that in order to gain patrons I would have to travel a lot. I don’t enjoy traveling. I like it here in Airizay with my luthiery, the birds, my church, my wine, and the occasional visitor of culture such as you. I have need of nothing else. I am content.”

    Hearing this Vair’s eyes sparkled with his blond-white hair. “I have heard all that before, Mon ami. You are not too old. The real truth is that you’re too lazy to apply yourself. You are too comfortable and too content. Penoit you have a number of friends that love you including me. We like to see you better yourself. We believe that there is greatness in you waiting to come forth. Your complacency is denying you your true glory.”

    “Glory! Bah! What good is glory? Will it feed me? Will it keep me warm?” growled Penoit. Then laughing he said, ‘If you weren’t, mon ami I would punch you in the nose.”

    “No you wouldn’t,” retorted the old man in the same jest. “Your faith forbids you from doing that. You have your faults, but being unfaithful is not one them. Above all you are a man of peace.”

    What pretended anger Penoit had disappeared. “Merci, mon ami, but I am not ready for a change. I am content being a great luthier. As I have said, I have no need of anything else.”

    “Oui, I know,” answered Rohnonay with a sigh.

    “Now, what about the guitar?” asked Penoit.

    “Perfect, mon ami perfect,” said the man in the satin green caressing the twelve-string. “The lows are nice and mellow just way I like them. The trebles are bright and chiming, but what I really like is that I can hear the octaves. You have outdone yourself this time, Penoit!”

    “I am glad that you are pleased,” grin Penoit as he stood. “I’ll put it back into the case. But, before you go would you care to join me in another glass of Shatohn wine?

    No merci,” replied Vair.

    “No wine?” said Penoit in surprise.

    “I don’t mean the wine. I mean the guitar.

    “What! But you said, the guitar was perfect, did you not?”

    “Oui, indeed I did. And it is indeed perfect but....”

    “You do not have the money?” asked Penoit raising a black eyebrow.

    “Come, come Penoit! I am Vair Rohnonay the greatest troubadour on all three continents! I am paid in the purest gold. Silver never lines my pockets. Here is my purse.” With that he tossed the purse unto the table spilling some of the gold. Penoit glance at the lumpiness and spillage of the purse and knew the truth. “Notice, there is ten times the amount you ask for. You have hurt my feelings.”

    “I am sorry. Then what is the problem?” asked a puzzled Penoit.

    “The guitar it’s not perfect enough. It’s not perfect enough for the coronation of Prince Roulaunne de Renoc.”

    “Now, you have hurt my feelings. Am I not the greatest luthier in all of Gaulance?”

    “Oui, oui, Penoit, in fact, you are the greatest luthier of the three civilized continents. That is why I always come to you.”

    The black eyebrows of Penoit’s plump face arched a question, “I don’t understand mon ami.”

    “The coronation will be my last public appearance. I am retiring after eighty-nine years. I have finally become too old to travel. My limbs become stiff and sore when traveling so much they burn too often when it is cold. The last time I had a cold it took me three months to shake it off.

    “The coronation of Prince Roulaunne will be the most august event of the century. It will be beyond perfection. My last performance must also be beyond perfection. My performance must be something spoken of with longing centuries long after I am dead and gone, not just for my glory, but for the greater glory of Prince Roulaunne de Renoc and the Kingdom of Gaulance. My performance, my art must be beyond perfection …and so Mon ami, Penoit: so must be your creation. Your guitar must be beyond perfection.”

    “What is wrong with perfection?” asked Penoit miffed. “Perfection is perfection.”

    “The problem, Penoit,” added Rohnonay gently, “is that over the years you have created a number of beautiful wooden gems. They compete with this one’s aesthetics and tonality. While my trained ears know that this one is prince of your creations, it is not king. Others with less discerning ears and taste than mine may and will question its perfection. I cannot permit only perfection. “I am Rohnonay. I need something more. I am sorry, Penoit. I am truly sorry. I cannot accept your perfect guitar. The guitar that I require must be beyond the question: is there a greater guitar?”

    Penoit sat dazed and sapped of vitality.

    In the stunned quiet came a rap at the open kitchen door. A very animated man covered with sawdust, the smell of wood, came bustling in, gave a short bow, and said, “Pardon, Monsieur Penoit, but I have a lot of wood for your fireplace and of course, wood for your creations.”

    Then he scurried over to the kitchen fireplace, and with a loud clatter dropped the wood. He then brushed the dust off his clothes doing so he noticed Penoit’s dejected expression. “Hey, hey Mon ami, Butterball, what is with the long mouth on the round face?”

    Fire came to Penoit’s coal blue-black eyes. He stood and straightened his pale yellow shirt around his pudgy body then his small mustache, “Cairto, you should show me more respect. I am not a common laborer, but a craftsman.” Then he added with a hand flourish, “If you will an artist. An artist extraordinaire.”

    Then with a stiff arm he shot out a finger pointing at Rohnonay with disdain curling from his lips, “This man, Cairto, this man, this man of culture claims that my perfect guitar is not good enough for the coronation of Prince Roulaunne de Renoc.” Then with another sneer he added, “He says
    Cairto turned his thin red hair head to Rohnonay and asked, “Is that so, mon ami?”
    the greatness will be questioned.”

    Turning his slender palms outward and hunching his wide shoulders he replied, “It is so, mon ami.”

    Penoit folded his arms across his puffed out chest, Rohnonay just sat with a tired and sad expression on his long face. Cairto put his hands into his stained pockets and rocked on his heels. There was silence.

    “Do you really question his craftsmanship?” asked Cairto.

    A shocked expression came to Vair Rohnonay’s face, “Of course not! I have bought three other guitars from him paying a king’s ransom for each. But I have never regretted doing so. He is the best. On the continent of Yoo O’ray, he is the greatest of all luthiers. That is why I came to him again.”

    Again Cairto paused and rocked on his heels. “Then if it is not the craftsmanship, then perhaps, it is the quality of the wood that is in question.”
     
  2.  
    tinkerdan

    tinkerdan candycane shrimp

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    Either I'm dense or this interface doesn't like me
    Once again the story remains interesting.

    I'm still uncertain of the POV and the misfortune in under utilizing the Omniscience shows up with glaring character descriptions that might work better with some creative use of the POV. The hair color and eye color and such seem to be there just to establish the character attributes and there needs to be something around them that helps smooth the description making it almost transparent. The context for these seem more manufactured than natural and organic to the story, if that makes any sense.

    There is still a problem with dialogue speech tags.

    Most of the below are sentences that require a period, and while some might seem questionable, they still work better as sentences with periods.


    Penoit leaned back in his chair and took a light breath,

    Then he added as his finger played with his thin black mustache,
    (Added might work as a speech attribute, but this works better as a sentence with a period. Same with two more instances.)

    ," smiled Penoit as a black lock of hair dangled over his ebony-blue eyes.
    Penoit smiled as a black lock of hair dangled over his ebony-blue eyes.

    ," answered Rohnonay with a sigh. (Rohnonay answered with a sigh.)
    (A maybe, but works beter as a sentence.)

    ," grin Penoit as he stood. (Penoit grined as he stood.)

    The black eyebrows of Penoit’s plump face arched a question,

    He stood and straightened his pale yellow shirt around his pudgy body then his small mustache,

    Then he added with a hand flourish,

    Then with a stiff arm he shot out a finger pointing at Rohnonay with disdain curling from his lips,

    Then with another sneer he added,


    Also the extensive use of then gives that feeling of he did this and then this and then this and then this.

    I like what you have here, but it could use much tightening and cleanup and a bit more attention to dialogue speech tags.
    You don't need a lot of speech tags as long as the sentences are clear as to who it is that is speaking.

    In the case of the use of added for speech tag, this is mostly something I try to avoid when I can and usually it can be there and survive alone as a sentence rather than try to tag onto the dialogue.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2017
    Lafayette likes this.
  3.  
    The Storyteller

    The Storyteller Well-Known Member

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    Interesting start! I admit, I'm not sure what to think of this opening, mostly because I'm lacking too much information about what the story is about as a whole. The opening didn't really give me a clear idea where this story is going. Not necessarily a flaw, just makes it harder to critique!

    Given that, I was interested enough to read to the end, and curious if I would learn more about what kind of story you are telling. The dialogue was probably the best in my opinion. I agree that some of the descriptions felt a bit forced, even unnatural, and some editing is definitely needed on the chapter as a whole. Characters seem interesting, and I like the idea about the perfect guitar needing to be 'beyond perfect'.

    One thing that stood out to me though is that it doesn't really give the story much direction. This goes a bit with my earlier comment about not knowing where things are going. The only thing that is really established (in terms of plot) is that the one guy (I assume the main character) is going to an important coronation soon, and that it must be perfect. But that isn't much to go on. As a reader, if that was all the first chapter was promising me or hinting at, I might lose interest. I presume the novel is about more than just this coronation, and as a reader, I would want to see some signs of what is to come fairly early on in the book. Depending on what your book is about and how quickly other conflicts or plot points get introduced, this opening might be fine as it is. Just something to watch for possibly?

    That said, I'm not the most experienced writer, so who knows! That's just the way I felt as a reader.
     
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  4.  
    Lafayette

    Lafayette Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Tinkerdan for your comments they are encouraging despite my short comings. I wish I had the money to hire you as my editor. I believe that you could prevent me from being a hack.

    I also wish that I could have submitted the entire chapter so that my readers would have a better idea of where I'm going, but there are good reasons for the limitations.

    I believe I know what you mean by some of my sentences being forced and not organic. The descriptions of the physical actions of the characters should flow into their dialog and they don't. I want the readers to know that Penoit is fat, has curly black hair, and blue-black eyes. I like physical description of characters when I'm reading and want to give the same to my readers. It appears that this is something I need to work on more as well as the 'thens' and tags.

    My other problem is right now I don't know which point of view to use or how to employ it. I'm going to have to study POV.

    I will study yours and everyone else's comments.
     
  5.  
    Lafayette

    Lafayette Well-Known Member

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    Storyteller thank you for your comments. We budding writers need to stick together and this forum is a great place to do it.

    To answer your question: where is my story going? Most of the answer is in chapter 2. Penoit is taken out of his comfort zone by being force to go on a quest he doesn't want to go on, to find something he doesn't believe exist, encounter situations he doesn't wish to encounter, encounter people and creatures he wishes not to deal with, and along the way he and his companions make friends, attain goals and learn lessons.

    I will also think about your comments especially about giving the reader more information in the first chapter.
     
  6.  
    Martin Gill

    Martin Gill Well-Known Member

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    This is considerably better than the first draft. Diving straight into the conversation, rather than the hefty chunk of world building you did first time round, gives much moire immediacy to the story.

    I'd echo Tinkerdan's comments on dialogue and POV. To summarise... (OK - I did more detail that I intended... so, to break it down!)...

    1. Your actual dialogue is fine IMO. Its the tags that drag me out of the story - growled, retorted, etc. And also the placement of the dialogue around the descriptions. Lets take the first few lines...

    Your version...
    Penoit leaned back in his chair and took a light breath, “As usual that was beautiful, Vair. I especially enjoyed the interlude of the third movement.” Then he added as his finger played with his thin black mustache, “Most guitarists play it more robustly, but your delicate pianissimos are much better.”

    Penoit leaned back in his chair and took a light breath, “As usual that was beautiful, Vair. - this is good. You establish both character's names, and I immediately assume Penoit is the POV character as you describe his actions.

    I especially enjoyed the interlude of the third movement.” Why break here then add more text? I feel like you are trying to describe Penoit, but if he's the POV, why would he describe himself? Then he added as his finger played with his thin black mustache, “Most guitarists play it more robustly,

    So instead...
    Penoit leaned back in his chair and took a light breath, and played with his thin black mustache. “As usual that was beautiful, Vair. I especially enjoyed the interlude of the third movement. Most guitarists play it more robustly, but your delicate pianissimos are much better.”

    That said, its functional, but its not the best opening line to a book ever.

    Then you have...
    “Merci, Penoit. Those ears of yours don’t miss much,” replied Vair Rohnonay as the twelve-string’s resonance gracefully faded into the afternoon air. The old gentleman studied the chubby man sipping his wine. “I wish that you would become one of my students. I could make you a great guitarist.”

    Breaking this down...
    “Merci, Penoit. Those ears of yours don’t miss much,” replied Vair Rohnonay as the twelve-string’s resonance gracefully faded into the afternoon air. This is OK - but do I need his second name at this point? I like the description, but can you do this with no dialogue tag?

    The old gentleman studied the chubby man sipping his wine. Who? Which one is old and which is chubby? Peniot wasn't sipping wine before, so I'm lost. Then someone speaks, and I'm assuming it's Vair - but he's the one playing guitar, yet he's telling Paniot, who wasn't playing guitar that he, Vair, could make Peniot a better player. I think. I had to do far too much thinking about who's speaking.

    Which leads me to ...

    2. POV. I'm lost as to who is who and who's experience this is. I think you need to root us in one of these two dudes by describing his personal experience and his opinions of the other guy. As is, I feel like I flip around. Root us in one of the two characters' experience and feelings

    So...
    Penoit leaned back in his chair, gave a contented sigh, and as the twelve-string’s resonance gracefully faded into the afternoon air, he felt his heart soar with the dwindling melody. “As usual that was beautiful, Vair. I especially enjoyed the interlude of the third movement. Most guitarists play it more robustly, but your delicate pianissimos are much better.”

    This is probably the wrong feeling - he should be feeling like he's sinking back into his body after the beauty of the music, or something. Or have him tear up, or whatever. Tell us what he feels.


    All this said - I like this enough to have spent time breaking this down. I still feel like there's a wonderful concept at the heart of this, the dialogue works, and you've tightened is considerably from the first draft.
     
  7.  
    tinkerdan

    tinkerdan candycane shrimp

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    Either I'm dense or this interface doesn't like me
    If you are going to continue to use Omniscient point of view you should at least read this article.
    Scribophile
    There are other POV articles in the academy section.
    One problem you are having is coming close to head hopping while not taking full advantage that you can get by getting close to one character while in omniscient POV.
    This article might help understand the mechanics available and some of the pitfalls.

    But it might do to further research POV from there.


    As an example::

    -------
    "Beautiful, as usual." Penoit leaned back and blinked his eyes, trying to squeeze away excess moisture, as he took a light breath. "I especially enjoyed the interlude of the third movement, Vair." He let his finger idly play across his mustache while in thought and gazed intently at his elderly friend with both awe and some trepidation as he envisioned his own dark hair someday becoming so white. "Most guitarists play it more robustly, but your delicate pianissimos are much better."
    ------------------
    ::
    Getting close to Penoit allows the narrator to see what he sees and feel, and taste what he tastes, but also limits what he might see such as sparkle in the eye which would work nice to replace the blinking and squeezing of moisture except he can't see the sparkle in his eyes. He can't see the color of his hair and usually wouldn't think about it, but he can see all of his friend and you can use this to cheat and allow him to have a reason for thinking about the color of his hair.

    I started with dialogue because some people prefer the paragraph to start with the dialogue to place emphasis upon it. But in this case I split the dialogue and that might weaken it. You have two alternates to where you place the dialogue.
    ::
    ---------------------------------------------------------
    Penoit leaned back and blinked his eyes, trying to squeeze away excess moisture, as he took a light breath. "Beautiful, as usual. I especially enjoyed the interlude of the third movement, Vair. Most guitarists play it more robustly, but your delicate pianissimos are much better." He let his finger idly play across his mustache while in thought and gazed intently at his elderly friend with both awe and some trepidation as he envisioned his own dark hair someday becoming so white.


    "Beautiful, as usual. I especially enjoyed the interlude of the third movement, Vair. Most guitarists play it more robustly, but your delicate pianissimos are much better." Penoit leaned back and blinked his eyes, trying to squeeze away excess moisture, as he took a light breath. He let his finger idly play across his mustache while in thought and gazed intently at his elderly friend with both awe and some trepidation as he envisioned his own dark hair someday becoming so white.
    ---------------------------------------------------------
    ::
    So now you have emotion shown in eyes and the light breath and the mustache on his face and his hair color and Vair's hair color and possibly the difference in their ages as shown through Penoit.

    Now going further, packing this extra detail into each paragraph you can begin to describe things around them and perhaps better describe the guitar as seen though Penoit.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2017
  8.  
    The Big Peat

    The Big Peat Well-Known Member

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    The things I was going to say have mostly been covered - dialogue tags (in particular when to use a comma and a when a full stop), the thens, the PoV. I am not an expert on them so can't help much beyond pointing but yes, they need tidying up.

    Have you considered starting with the revelation that there is no payment as this is only the prince of guitars? It feels lacking a bit in a dramatic hook, and maybe bringing it right to the forefront would create that. But then maybe it wouldn't. A little something could do with being added though.
     
  9.  
    The Storyteller

    The Storyteller Well-Known Member

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    Truth! :LOL::ROFLMAO:

    Thanks for the info on the story! That's an intriguing description, and given that I would keep reading farther because I would want to see how it unfolds. And, to be fair, if I picked up your story in a store, I would have gotten an idea for the plot by reading the back and would have been fine with waiting longer before the story really gets going. I tend to not mind slow starts (some people do), so you may not have to give more information in the first chapter. However, if you aren't, make sure that your characters/dialogue is captivating enough to hold attention while the story gets going!

    Hope you post more on here as you keep working. :)
     
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