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  1. #1
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    Last of the King's Men- a novel I'm writing. Looking for feedback!

    Hello, Enworld!

    I've begun writing a fantasy novel, and I'm going to be posting it chapter by chapter on my personal blog as I get it written. If anyone is interested in reading it, I am looking for feedback- good or bad. So if you feel like giving it a read, here you go!

    Last of the King's Men

    If anyone would like to give feedback, I'm looking for as much as I can get. (Again- good or bad.) All I ask is that you be as specific as possible. I'd rather receive ten specific negative comments than one "It was pretty good". Be brutally honest if necessary.

    Thanks in advance, and enjoy!
    "Inanimate objects, do you have a soul
    That ties to our soul and the force to love?"

    -Lamartine

 

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    Whoa! Don't everyone reply at once, now! :-P

    Chapter 2 is up. Is there a better forum for this to go?
    "Inanimate objects, do you have a soul
    That ties to our soul and the force to love?"

    -Lamartine

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    Well, are you planning on getting it published? Or is this an exercise to get you up to speed before you start writing something original? It might be a good idea to rid the story of all D&D related imagery and use your own (and if your idea is to write for WotC they do not accept uncommissioned works, as far as I know).

    The first impression of the story is that it is a wall of text. You need to break it down a bit more. At the very least use proper spaces between paragraphs. I know it's really hard to avoid the infodump when you're trying to introduce everything, especially in a fantasy or scifi story, but a better pacing would really benefit the telling of the story.


    The story seems to have this odd refusal to commit to one idea running through it, where I have a hard time seeing what it is that the narrator really wants to say:

    1. You describe the orcs as not being intelligent enough to even beg mercy, but they have a king.

    2. "When the news arrived, brought by a single weary servant who only survived because he had been far enough away from his home to hide from the invasion like a coward"

    Why coward? Because he's a servant and far away? Huh?

    3. Is the reader supposed to feel bad for the orcs because of the genocide, or side with the king because they are "nothing but vermin"? I notice you use the term offspring instead of children. If that is simply how you want to represent the kings thoughts on the matter, maybe you should consider having the king say these things, instead of the narrator. Unless the king is supposed to be the narrator?

    4. Are the orcs there to be the main threat or a red herring? If the former, you might as well have them be zombies the way you describe them. If the latter, it's what I as a reader immediately thought of, again because of the way you describe them.

    5. He won't send his army, but he will send the "kingdom’s finest"? And they include merchants and minstrels? What's going on there?

    6. Little oddities like: "The small halfling’s black eyes were tired, but vigilant."

    7. There's a chain of evidence, but the whole thing might only be a hunch? How does that work?

    8. "Being several years Artemis’ senior, there was little Artemis could do to keep Orin from making his life a living hell- until one day, several years back, when the Lograd Army began recruiting members to help guard the nation’s southern border."

    How is Orin getting recruited something that Artemis can do to keep him from making his life hell? Is there something missing from the middle of that sentence?


    Edit:

    I do realize that when critiquing something I tend to not talk about the good parts, and instead focus on the problems I see. So, don't think it's all bad.
    Last edited by jonesy; Saturday, 18th February, 2012 at 03:33 PM.

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    First off- thank you so much! Your critiques are the exact type of thing I'm looking for. The story and the style I'm using makes perfect sense in my head, and probably makes sense to my friends & family that I've told it to a million times, so it's extremely helpful to hear how it sounds (especially at the point the story is at, since it's still getting established with each chapter) to someone who has no connection to it. So thank you for reading it!

    That being said, I'll answer some of the questions you asked- but let me make it clear that I know that if these things aren't very clear upon reading, it should probably be revised in the actual writing, since I can't exactly sit down each and every person who reads it and explain what's going on. :-P

    I don't plan on getting my story published- at least not for a long, long time. It does include lots of WotC-owned material, which will be a problem if I ever choose to try and so something with it, but everyone that I've consulted about writing has told me the first step is to write. I can worry about the legality and publishing issues much further down the line, if and when it becomes an issue. If I need to change names & remove references, I will later, but I've spent so much time worrying about the legality of publishing my story that it's taken me years to actually, you know, write it!

    I'm curious as to what you mean by "proper spaces between paragraphs"- I know that putting spaces between each paragraph, as I do here, is often done to remove the whole wall-of-text look, but at the same time, proper writing doesn't have spaces between paragraphs. I suppose it couldn't hurt to add them, as it's being read on a computer screen rather than on pages of a book, though, so I'll take that into consideration.

    As for what the book is committing to, the narration may seem strange so far, but my hope was to have each chapter be writting from a third-person limited perspective, with one (or a few) of the characters being sort of the focus of the perspective. So in the second chapter, for example, the orcs are being described as vermin and mindless creatures because the king/sir Aelfrey perceive them as such. The fact that they have a king is mentioned as a way to sort of clue in the reader that the narrator may not be as reliable as is assumed, but the fact that you've had issue with that definitely tells me that it might simply come off as inconsistent. I'll have to play around with that and see if there's a way to stick with the same style but make it seem more consistent.

    As for sending the kingdom's finest rather than the army, it's like this: A group of twenty people won't stop the nation from being invaded if another army attacks. If there's an unknown threat far off that may be large or it may be small, sending a crack team of elite scouts and strikers to investigate (and deal with the threat if possible) is better than sending your entire army. As for the merchants & minstrels bit, yeah, that was sort of a holdover from something that I could have left out. So I'll definitely be revising that.

    The rest of your questions (like the Artemis & Orin thing) I think were just bad wording on my part. Sometimes I try to put a bit too much weight behind each and every word I write and I need to just take a step back and see if it makes sense in context.

    So, again, thank you! I honestly don't need much good criticism, because I've told myself that this story is awesome enough times that I'm going to write it whether anyone thinks it's good or bad. It's specific negative criticism, like yours, that tells me what needs to be worked on. So thanks!
    "Inanimate objects, do you have a soul
    That ties to our soul and the force to love?"

    -Lamartine

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    Quote Originally Posted by UltimaGabe View Post
    I'm curious as to what you mean by "proper spaces between paragraphs"- I know that putting spaces between each paragraph, as I do here, is often done to remove the whole wall-of-text look, but at the same time, proper writing doesn't have spaces between paragraphs. I suppose it couldn't hurt to add them, as it's being read on a computer screen rather than on pages of a book, though, so I'll take that into consideration.
    Might be a computer thing. It was just the initial reaction I got to the story.

    Quote Originally Posted by UltimaGabe View Post
    ...but everyone that I've consulted about writing has told me the first step is to write.
    Yeah. That's true.

    I've been a fan of Neil Gaiman for a long time and anytime someone asks him the notorious question (How Do I Become A Writer?), he tells them to write. Good or bad, just get it all out there first.
    Last edited by jonesy; Monday, 20th February, 2012 at 10:27 AM.

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    Chapter 3 is up. I also made some (minor) changes in the first two chapters- tried out the spaces between paragraphs, and fixed the wording of a couple spots that annoyed me. Nothing major changed yet, though.
    "Inanimate objects, do you have a soul
    That ties to our soul and the force to love?"

    -Lamartine

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    I like the new look. Easier to read the story. But that's just me. For all I know I could just be the vocal minority. What you need is more chapters and more readers. Yeah, well.

    Things that caught my eye in chapter 3:

    1. The chapter seems to have a better flow than the other two. Might be because of the lower density of new information. (It's a tricky balance getting a story to flow properly while still providing the necessary details to the reader.)

    2. The opening paragraph is very strong. And not because it's depicting strong weather. It's one of those 'I wouldn't remove a single word' descriptions.

    3. In paragraph two I'd remove the 'the' from 'the lightning'.

    4. "He couldn’t tell if it was something he couldn’t understand". That's an odd sentence.

    5. "He sat, huddled in the corner of the hut, body, clothing, sleeves & all soaked to the bone from the rain." Soaked to the bone already says what the articles of clothing imply. I'd just remove the clothing from the sentence: "He sat, huddled in the corner of the hut, soaked to the bone from the rain."

    6. There's a lot of "as if" going on when the creature breaks in. Try swapping one them for an alternate way of saying it.

    7. I like the way you have him wake up and just dismiss the dream with the creature for the dream that it was, instead of obsessing on it the way a fictional character might.

    8. "Eat boot." And then he puts his foot on the mans chest. Akward boast is akward.

    9. "Artemis watched him raise the mace one more time, everything went black." Either make that two sentences, or add "and then" in the middle.

    I wish I could be writing a different part of the story, as I had originally wanted to do, but I know that writing this part (which I've effectively written already in some form or another) will at least give me something to write, and will let me feel like I'm getting something done.
    If there's something you really want to be writing, do it. You don't have to post it anywhere. Just put it on paper and leave it there. When inspiration strikes, follow it. Good or bad at least you have it written down. You can then later go back to it and review it yourself.


    Edit: there's a lot of 'good or bad' going on in this thread.
    Last edited by jonesy; Wednesday, 22nd February, 2012 at 01:03 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jonesy View Post
    If there's something you really want to be writing, do it. You don't have to post it anywhere. Just put it on paper and leave it there. When inspiration strikes, follow it. Good or bad at least you have it written down. You can then later go back to it and review it yourself.
    I know what you're saying, and I don't question its validity, but I've spent the last two years unable to write at all because I wasn't able to get myself to start writing the part of the story I "want" to write. It wasn't until I decided to actually start at the beginning of the story that I was ble to get over my writer's block.

    Anyway, chapter 4 is up! I also made some small alterations/fixes to chapter 3 as per your comments, Jonesy. (The ones I agree with, anyway. :-P)
    "Inanimate objects, do you have a soul
    That ties to our soul and the force to love?"

    -Lamartine

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    Nice. That's a good chapter. Can't really find anything to nitpick about.

    Well, one thing. Time seems to move rather erratically. The kingdom gets taken over surprisingly quickly, and then the heroes arrive to their final goal quickly too. I know the descriptions of time talk about weeks and such, but reading it it still seemed a bit jumpy. But that's not really such a huge problem, just a pacing issue. I'm not sure how to fix that, or even if it should be fixed. Adding more stuff between the jumps might bog the chapter down, and there isn't really anything I'd cut from it to make it run smoother.

    My sarcasm detector is fusion powered. Yeah, that's powerful enough.

    You are what you do.

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    (I could have sworn I posted this a few hours ago, but I guess the internet says nomnomz.)

    Hey, everyone! Sorry for the hiatus between chapters- I've been extremely busy over the last couple weeks with some personal stuff (which is thankfully over) and now I'm super excited to get back to writing.

    I've put up the fifth chapter, so enjoy!
    "Inanimate objects, do you have a soul
    That ties to our soul and the force to love?"

    -Lamartine

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