Far Horizons - Full Prologue (1,100 words)

Flaviosky

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Hi again, dear community.

I wanted to share this prologue. It's all of it, but I'm trying to 1) Set the theme and tone of the rest of the novel and 2) Introduce a key driver of later events of the story. I hope it's somewhat better than the last things I've brought.

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The ground trembles. A dark gust surrounds the arcane wizard as he summons more and more of his corrupted energy. The air feels cold and dead, while the academy mages’ grunts of exhaustion echo in the wind. Firebolt strikes, but the wizard remains unscathed, as his ragged coat still with a stench of sea shows few signs of damage.

“Damn academy mages, you are no match for me! Surrender!" The wizard’s eyes glow sharp.

“Fabien, quickly! Channel your spirit magic, summon your aura! I’ll strike with ice!" a mage shouts. His dark blue riveted robe is ragged and burnt.

Fabien’s fear adds useless seconds to his duty “There’s no use Vincent, his unholy power is way too strong!" he says. His physical might seems of little use by now.

Still with doubts, he summons his silver aura. Fabien shines as his soul fuels his magic, matching the greyish tone of his short hair. The arcane wizard shows a wretched smile, his eyes darkened by his evil magic, he fires a dark thunder.

“Arrrrgrh!” Fabien falls, his muscles still stiff from the shock.

“What?! Fabien!! The last wizards seem nothing compared to him!…Milton…!" Vincent says, frowning his bold eyebrows, looking for his comrade.

“Vincent, what should we do?! He’ll fry us all at this rate!" Milton says, struggling to remain on his feet. His breathing is heavy.

The dark and dead gust still flows from the arcane wizard.

“It’s just the three of us…” Vincent sighs, before casting ice magic, freezing his hands in a sudden.

“Do you really think that this will…” The arcane wizard barely feels the cold “...What?!” the ice chunks start to shine, now moving on their own and joined together against his will by two strings of magic. Spirit magic at its finest, Fabien has gotten back on his feet after the shock, his aura shining high, using telekinesis.

“That...that may do it!” Milton cheers and uses his ice magic as well. The wizard’s arms are frozen further.

There may be a chance of defeating him.

“You will fall to my power!" the half frozen wizard yells with a hellish tone, as something seems to glow beneath his cheap coat.

His dark aura bursts high, the earth trembles stronger. Black fire burns the ice on his arms “This can’t be!” Milton shouts. The academy mages’ teeth grind, both from fear and the tremor itself.

“There may be no limits to his power…” Fabien shares his hopeless gaze with his comrades.

“Vincent, we should run! We won’t survive!" Milton shouts.

“This arcane wizard must be stopped here and now! Focus on his hands!" Vincent’s determination seems a beacon of hope.

The dark aura grows chaotically, spinning and twisting “Die, Algalordian mages!” the wizard’s scream of joyful power turns his face pale and wretched. His eyes start to bleed, as well as his nose and mouth.

“This power is beyond your pitiful codes!” he yells and casts a strong dark flare from his hands, reaching Milton in an instant. Half of his face charred black, his right arm falls, turned into burning charcoal, still smoking.

“Ahhhrrgh…I….can’t…breathe…."

He falls, unable to scream in pain with his burnt throat, to die shortly after. The academy lost one of his most talented ice apprentices. If three academy mages barely stood a chance, only two of them are surely doomed.

“Miltoooooon!” Fabien’s chin trembles with the fear of being next.

The wizard smiles fades, his laughter now filled with intense pain. His dark aura spins and shifts. Tremors, spasms and finally, a black fire, sparkling with bolts with no clear target.

“Arrrrgh! I...Won’t...Fall!” the arcane wizard resists, his dark aura starts shimmering, flashes of dark light reach Fabien and Vincent’s eyes, feeling as if the wizard’s soul entered their minds.

“What...What is this?! Arrrrgh!” Fabien says, grabbing his head and falling to his knees, his mind drowning with the wizard’s wicked memories.

“This...spell! He’s crumbling! Seeing he won’t be able to kill us, he’s trying to drive us mad!” Vincent is having a better time resisting the wizard’s spell.

“tHe poWer iS miiNeee!” the wizard’s abyssal voice twists in the black fire around him.

The flashes stop, and the arcane wizard just stands and burns, as black thunder travels his body, not on his control anymore. His electric screams of agony end seconds later, his dark aura disappears. He falls dead and his joints crack, carbonized.

“Huh…what…what happened…?" Fabien asks, breathing heavily.

“Arcane magic…We were lucky, but this one was strong. Others get consumed earlier, they never learn…" Vincent says, recovering from the battle, still sweating.

“I can’t figure out why they keep on mixing magic…" Fabien says, still in disbelief while his tall body still trembles.

“Because they always think they’ll be the ones to master magic fusion…Hey look, that explains a lot…" Vincent says, noticing something strange.

He approaches the burnt body of the fallen foe and reaches a necklace coming from under the wizard's burned coat, too big for it to be an ornament. It’s an amulet, glowing dark, feeling hot and cold simultaneously when touched.

“This *******…Tribal magic too, in an arcane enchantment… Vincent says, aware of what he has in his hands.

“These mages from Clysse are crazy..." Faben says, still with a fearful expression on his face.

“I don’t think this is clyssian work…This magic feels...raw. I saw arcane artifacts before but this one is out of the charts…" Vincent says, tired.

“We must cleanse that immediately! It’s too dangerous!" Fabien exclaims.

“I know! But Milton…He was the only one with light magic strong enough to maybe remove this curse…" Vincent says softly, as his eyes get tired and sad.

“Milton…poor Milton…it should not have ended like this" Fabien starts sobbing.

“It could have been any of us. That dark fire would have charred anyone on its way" Vincent says, feeling sad, still laying a hand on his shoulder.

Fabien’s face is still gloomy. “Perhaps we should head back to the academy?" he asks, clueless.

“I don’t think so, the trip is too long and the influence of this amulet will surely begin to corrupt us before we get back. The Shrine of Creation is closer, and we can use the altar to channel our magic." Vincent says, feeling shivers.

“Great idea! But will I be strong enough for that?" Fabien shrugs his shoulders.

“You did great today, Fabien, despite us being overrun by this lunatic. Let’s give our goodbyes to Milton and depart. We don’t have time to waste." Vincent says, setting their way to cleanse this amulet before having it corrupting him too.
 

sule

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I think this will be a good opening to your fantasy novel. It's definitely intriguing as a prologue.

I'll start with some lines that I liked:
Firebolt strikes, but the wizard remains unscathed, as his ragged coat still with a stench of sea shows few signs of damage.
The flashes stop, and the arcane wizard just stands and burns, as black thunder travels his body, not on his control anymore. His electric screams of agony end seconds later, his dark aura disappears. He falls dead and his joints crack, carbonized.
Good stuff. Definitely enjoyed these descriptions.

My biggest issue with this piece is that there was no description that gave me an idea of where they were. Where they on a rocky crag at the edge of the sea? Were they on the Academy's grounds? In a city at twilight? A desert at dawn? I would have liked to have the surroundings described, at least a little, to give more of a sense of realism. On a related note, I also wanted more of a sense of the stakes; specifically, what is it that the arcane wizard wants? What are the academy mages trying to stop him from doing, what will they lose if they can't beat him?

I also noticed there were a lot of dialogue attributions that, in my opinion, either restated what the dialogue should have made apparent or simply seemed unnecessary and distracting. The ones I thought were most egregious:
Hey look, that explains a lot…" Vincent says, noticing something strange.
“This *******…Tribal magic too, in an arcane enchantment… Vincent says, aware of what he has in his hands.
Fabien’s face is still gloomy. “Perhaps we should head back to the academy?" he asks, clueless.
“Great idea! But will I be strong enough for that?" Fabien shrugs his shoulders.
I also think there were too many lines of dialogue-to-action (i.e.-"Dialogue," he says, then does something). A couple of lines of this, spread out, is fine. But if there's a lot of it in a very short space it becomes too much; nothing stands out, and I think that does this passage a disservice by undercutting what should be a powerful action scene. Try changing some attributive lines into their own sentences or paragraphs; not all of them, just enough to break up the monotony.

I think this opening has a lot of promise, and I hope you keep working on your novel. Keep writing.
 

Droflet

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Yeah, what Sule said. It's good in spots but it needs a rewrite to make the action clearer. Hey, that's what rewrites are for. Still, a promising start. I look forward to seeing what you do with the advice. Now, back to work with you. ;)
 

Flaviosky

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I also noticed there were a lot of dialogue attributions that, in my opinion, either restated what the dialogue should have made apparent or simply seemed unnecessary and distracting.
Thanks. This seems to be an issue with my writing. After seeing some other chron's work, I'll try to leave the dialogues without further text, or only before it when it's actually important to settle anything in advance.
 

Tawariell

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Finally had the time to read it, and I agree with Sule on most parts:

1) The opening of your scene is indeed promising, and I also was hooked by it.
2) I, personally, wasn't missing the descriptions of their surroundings yet, because I was pretty focused and indulged in their fight. Perhaps you added it into a scene before or after this one, but if not, I see why Sule is commenting on it.
3) "I also think there were too many lines of dialogue-to-action", definitely agree with this one. There was a lot of it and it kinda disrupted my flow of reading. Perhaps you could try to switch it up by, putting action-to-dialogue, drop the action for the next piece of dialogue if we already know who is speaking, and add a dialogue-to-action again.
4) Some dialogues are quite long, perhaps you want to break them up, putting an action tag between the separated parts (which would also help your dialogue-to-action problem).

Just an example of how you could experiment with dialogue-to-action:
“This *******…Tribal magic too, in an arcane enchantment…" Vincent says.

Fabien shivers. “These mages from Clysse are crazy..."

“I don’t think this is clyssian work…" Vincent mutteres. "This magic feels...raw. I saw arcane artifacts before but this one is out of the charts…"

“We must cleanse that immediately! It’s too dangerous!" Fabien exclaims.

“I know! But Milton…He was the only one with light magic strong enough to maybe remove this curse…"

“Milton…poor Milton…" Fabien says as he starts sobbing. "It should not have ended like this."

Overall an interesting scene to read, especially because it was written in the present tense (which I'm usually not a fan of) but you seem to be doing it well. Have you tried writing past tense? Or does that not flow for you? :)
 

Flaviosky

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Perhaps you could try to switch it up by, putting action-to-dialogue, drop the action for the next piece of dialogue if we already know who is speaking, and add a dialogue-to-action again
Yeah, I'm doing so right now. I'm seeing what you mean., although it seems more difficult when there are more than 2 persons involved in the dialogue.

Have you tried writing past tense? Or does that not flow for you?
Not really, except when specific cases, but present tense seems to flow for me. I could give it a try with past tense after I deal with my dialogue issue

Thanks for your feedback!
 

Mon0Zer0

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Hi there, an action packed piece!

Setting - Action is deceptively hard to write, in order to do it well you need to convey the following information to the reader as quickly as possible:

1. Who are the characters.
2. Where are they.
3. What are they doing.

Point of View - This is easiest if you write from the perspective of one character, so that he is the main focus of the piece, and you write all the action from his point of view. It will help to tighten up your writing and allow the reader to share the main character's emotions as he experiences them in the story.


Tense - writing in the present tense is often easier than reading it. The present tense can feel more immediate but sometimes can be a little clunky to read, because you sometimes have to use unusual grammar.

Adjectives - Pay attention to your use of adjectives. For example "dark gust" doesn't really make much sense - wind is not something you see, so can't have light or dark as an attribute. If you're using the adjective to try and create a threatening or creepy atmosphere, then you could use other phrases like "ill wind" or "fell wind" which mean that the wind carries a sense of foreboding.

There's a lot here so I've made some notes on the first couple of paragraphs.


The ground trembles. A dark gust surrounds the arcane wizard as he summons more and more of his corrupted energy. The air feels cold and dead, while the academy mages’ grunts of exhaustion echo in the wind. Firebolt strikes, but the wizard remains unscathed, as his ragged coat still with a stench of sea shows few signs of damage.

1. You need to be specific. Introducing your character's name will make your prose less unwieldy.
2. A ragged coat is a damaged coat - rags are a sign of damage. I think you mean it shows little sign of being scorched by the fireball.
3. Putting "still with a stench of sea" between two adjectives (ragged and undamaged) interrupts the flow of the sentence. Ragged and undamaged describe the condition of the coat, whereas the stench describes its odour.
4. "still with a stench of sea" needs a verb in the sentence clause. "Still permeated with the stench of the sea" or "still stinks of the sea."


“Damn academy mages, you are no match for me! Surrender!" The wizard’s eyes glow sharp.

5.
Sharp is a strange adjective for the glow of eyes. What do you really mean here?

“Fabien, quickly! Channel your spirit magic, summon your aura! I’ll strike with ice!" a mage shouts. His dark blue riveted robe is ragged and burnt.

6. Who is the mage? Use his name if you can. This story quickly becomes confusing. It's not clear who Fabien or Vincent are.
7. Robes are not usually riveted unless they are made of metal. Rivets are metal bolts used to join sheets of metal together.
8. Two wizards have ragged robes - this can be confusing as it sounds like repetition.


Fabien’s fear adds useless seconds to his duty “There’s no use Vincent, his unholy power is way too strong!" he says. His physical might seems of little use by now.

9. Whose Physical might?

Still with doubts, he (who?) summons his silver aura. Fabien shines as his soul fuels his magic, matching the greyish tone of his short hair. The arcane wizard (which one?) shows a wretched smile, his eyes darkened by his evil magic, he fires a dark thunder.

10.
Thunder is a sound, so we don't usually associate it with being fired. Do you mean lightning here?

“Arrrrgrh!” Fabien falls, his muscles still stiff from the shock.

“What?! Fabien!! The last wizards seem nothing compared to him!…Milton…!" Vincent says, frowning his bold eyebrows, looking for his comrade.

“Vincent, what should we do?! He’ll fry us all at this rate!" Milton says, struggling to remain on his feet. His breathing is heavy.

11. Who is Milton?

The dark and dead gust still flows from the arcane wizard.

“It’s just the three of us…” Vincent sighs, before casting ice magic, freezing his hands in a sudden. suddenly his hands become frozen.

“Do you really think that this will…” The arcane wizard barely feels the cold “...What?!” the ice chunks start to shine, now moving on their own and joined together against his will by two strings of magic. Spirit magic at its finest, Fabien has gotten back on his feet after the shock, his aura shining high brightly, using telekinesis.
 

Flaviosky

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Thanks a lot for the detailed feedback. Here's some of the adjustments I've made, hoping that the action gets a bit clearer.

For example "dark gust" doesn't really make much sense
Changed it to dark mist, swirling around.

1. You need to be specific. Introducing your character's name will make your prose less unwieldy.
I'm trying not to have the narrator use the names of the characters until other character says its name. I don't know if that's something silly to insist upon or not.

2. A ragged coat is a damaged coat - rags are a sign of damage. I think you mean it shows little sign of being scorched by the fireball.
I've changed it to "tattered", to say it's in poor condition.

5. Sharp is a strange adjective for the glow of eyes. What do you really mean here?
Sharp like full of determination, but I've changed it to "menacing" to keep things simple

7. Robes are not usually riveted unless they are made of metal. Rivets are metal bolts used to join sheets of metal together
Got it. Changed it to "emboidered" so there's no metal involving the robes.

10. Thunder is a sound, so we don't usually associate it with being fired. Do you mean lightning here?
Yes. In other ocasions I use Thunderbolt, but I'm not completely sure they are interchangeable.
11. Who is Milton?
One of the three academy mages facing the wizard. I'm trying to show that Vincent is the more experienced mage and Fabien clearly is a rookie, but I'm not sure if that's something that becomes clear from the text
 

Mon0Zer0

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I'm trying not to have the narrator use the names of the characters until other character says its name. I don't know if that's something silly to insist upon or not.

When wizard and mage are synonyms, and all three characters are the same occupation, not using their names is confusing and makes the piece unintelligible.

One of the three academy mages facing the wizard. I'm trying to show that Vincent is the more experienced mage and Fabien clearly is a rookie, but I'm not sure if that's something that becomes clear from the text

It isn't. You need to set the scene first so the reader knows that three mages are facing a dark wizard. At first, I thought Fabien was the name of the dark wizard, for example.
 

Wayne Mack

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This seems to be an interesting world with hints at several characteristics: there are both formal magic schools or guilds and solo rebels and the two are in opposition, there are multiple types of magic and they either cannot be mixed or it takes special skill to do so. This creates an environment that allows for an intriguing story to develop.

I will make several suggestions, two plot wise and two structural, that might help strengthen the action sequence.

The demise of the arcane wizard seemed to be arbitrary and came out of the blue. Having characters need to have a conversation about a fact that they presumably already know (magic styles cannot be mixed) is an indication of this. This should be foreshadowed earlier in the piece.

There does not seem to be any rationale for the battle. Did the wizard choose to attack the mages or are the mages attacking the wizard? Why? Having a reason for the battle helps give the reader a reason to care who wins or loses.

The story seems to follow a close up then zoom out approach rather than wide view and then zoom in that sets the scene and then focuses on the battle. I feel in the zoom in approach, there is a clear separation in description and action sequence, while in the zoom out approach, the reader is constantly switching between understanding the scene details and following the sequence of events and both parts get short changed.

In the paragraph structure, I notice that several times, the consecutive actions of a single character are split into separate paragraphs and that actions by two different characters are combined into the same paragraph. The first causes a loss of flow in the reader's mind, while the second does not reinforce the back and forth nature of the battle. I feel that simply changing the placement of the paragraph breaks, without any other change in the text, would enhance the feeling of tension and excitement in the scene.

These, of course, are just personal opinions, so see if any of them resonate with you. I feel that you have the basic world to tell an intrigue tale and I am curious to read about the interactions between the mages' academy and rogue wizards.
 

Flaviosky

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At first, I thought Fabien was the name of the dark wizard, for example.
That's an issue despite showing in the third and fourth paragraphs that Fabien 1) recieves instructions and 2) Is shown as afraid and doubtful.

I'll add some lines so the senior mage knows who the arcane wizard is, and try to make the clear distinction between wizard (bad) and mage (good), that maintains across the story.

Thanks for replying!
 

Flaviosky

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This should be foreshadowed earlier in the piece.
I'll do! I'll have the withering effects of arcane magic trigger earlier.

the consecutive actions of a single character are split into separate paragraphs and that actions by two different characters are combined into the same paragraph
Wow, thanks for noticing. I'll work on that.

I am curious to read about the interactions between the mages' academy and rogue wizards.
Unfortunately, these interactions are just a minor theme in the story, but arcane magic (magic went corrupt by mixing different schools) is indeed a key element for one of the main antagonists, and this Prologue is part of it.

Thanks for the patience!
 

AnRoinnUltra

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@Flaviosky, at the risk of being chased away from this forum with a big stick, I need to shamefully admit that I've only read six books in the last twenty years (to be fair I'd a sci-fi addiction before that, and am trying to make up for lost time). The reason I'm telling you this is so you have an idea how to frame this feedback. In other words, this is not a proper critique but just a random punter's impression.

I like the story, the hook worked for me, and I'd read on. What I struggled with was clarity -why was the wizard up to shenannigans, and why was it so bad that one of the mages had to give up his life? I know you'll be getting to the background, but it's just something I'd have liked from the gun. Taking that a bit further I'd have liked the wizard to be a bit more evil -I thought the trio of mages worked as heroes (I'm guessing that was down to the back and forth co-operation between them), but a bigger contrast to their foe might be good.

For the reasons mentioned above, take that with a pinch of salt, and good luck.
 

tinkerdan

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This is a good beginning.
I agree with several others in that it needs some work. Tightening.
There are many areas where you have dialogue with Vincent says, Milton says, over and over when as long as it's clear who is talking you can just have the description or action after the dialogue which pinpoints who is talking. The dialogue needs cleaned up this way.

Also ?! or !! should be unnecessary if your words are selected well enough they will carry the single ? or ! to where you might be trying to take us with those abominations.
Also when you have, “Vincent, we should run! We won’t survive!" : you don't need to say they exclaimed or shouted since that is already built into the dialogue with the exclamation point.

This is present tense but I'm not sure of the POV. Seems to be Omniscient objective and I think I know why for this piece; however something with more subjective focus on a character might give it more feeling.
 

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