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Author Topic: A Seagull's Cry: Chapter 1 - LOCKED  (Read 9678 times)
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Coren FrozenZephyr
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« on: 17 August 2008, 22:47:11 »

A couple of notes:

(1) There was more merit in Artimidor's criticism than I was willing to hear at the time. Especially in the first two chapters, the story is cumbersome and I am displeased with the language. Therefore:

(2) As I am devoting the rest of the summer to finishing the entries I started instead of creating any new entries, I undertook a complete revision of the work. Find enclosed below:

  • a teaser to frame the story
  • chapter summaries to align the submission with the new library format
  • a comprehensive overhaul of Chapter 1 (in progress): the graveyard removed to make the story time-line easier to follow; revised the plot; trimmed baroque excesses; removed lengthy descriptions and internal monologues to enliven the text. In general, I brought the style and tone in line with the ex-Chapter 3, which was well-received.


(3) Commentary would be much appreciated at this stage.
« Last Edit: 20 June 2009, 05:01:01 by Coren FrozenZephyr » Logged

"Everything should be as simple as possible and not simpler." Albert Einstein

"Is he allowed to do that?"
"I think that comes under the rule of Quia Ego Sic Dico."
"Yes, what does that mean?"
"'Because I say so', I think."
"That doesn't sound like much of a rule!"
"Actually, it's the only one he needs." (Making Money by Terry Pratchett)
Coren FrozenZephyr
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« Reply #1 on: 17 August 2008, 22:51:34 »

Chapter Plan


Epigraph

?? "The world is a comedy to those that think; a tragedy to those that feel." Horace Walpole. ??


Beginning of Part 1:
?? "That was a memorable day for me, for it made great changes in me. But, it is the same with any life. Imagine one selected day struck out of it, and think how different its course would have been. Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation of the first link on one memorable day." Charles Dickens, Great Expectations, Chapter 9. ??


Beginning of Part 2:
?? "So young, so beautiful, so full of hope and promise, they went on lightly through the sunlight, as their own happy thoughts might then be traversing the years to come, and making them all years of brightness. So they passed away into the shadow, and were gone. It was only a burst of light that had been so radiant. The room darkened as they went out, and the sun was clouded over." Charles Dickens, Bleak House, Chapter 14. ??


Beginning of Part 3:
?? "She smiled. She knew she was dying. (...) Life had been, if only because she had known it could be, and she felt it now as a hymn without sound, deep under the little hole that dripped red drops into the snow, deeper than that from which the red drops came. A moment or an eternity - did it matter? Life, undefeated, existed and could exist. She smiled, her last smile, to so much that had been possible." Ayn Rand, We the Living, Chapter 17. ??


Teaser:

Fifty years have passed since the Clock Tower of Náráh heralded the new millennium, the 19th century B.S., and even more since the first Anpagan sailors set foot on the continent’s western shores, bringing with them the beginnings of a new era; but despite the changing landscape, life in the upper echelons of imperial society went on as it always has; intrigue wrapped in luxurious glory.

Away from the reach of an evil brewing under the High Temple of Ankriss, festivities burgeon under the rich sun of an indifferent society. How long before trouble sprouts from the lush soil of southwestern Nybelmar? How long before these lands, once submerged and lifted into the light, warmed over and over again, bright Maren Zyloth making their border with wave embroidery, crumple into folds and ridges under the greed of man?

Sprinkled through the hourglass, glimpses into life in Grand Empire of Krath provide perspectives as colorful as blossoms in a Krean garden, which both challenge and complement that of the unnamed narrator. Events leading to the collapse of an empire begin to surface as a young appraiser, by the name of Déárán, ventures deeper and deeper into the uncharted halls of the human soul, reshaping Zhun in his image as he goes.  


Chapter 1: A Seagull’s Cry
[...]

Chapter 2: Somebody Needs a Lesson in Manners
[...]


Introduction/Summary:

A Seagull’s Cry traces Dearan Asaen’s growth from a successful but frustrated young adult to a man with depth of character, vigorous in the pursuit of his own happiness. As Dearan unravels the truth behind his great expectations, the plot escalates - steering him towards maturity and a quest to live in line with his own nature. He emerges from these trials with an invigorating vision of life and an uncompromising belief in the capacity of man to be the master of his own destiny. The story and its memorable characters repeatedly spiral upwards, through anticipation, confrontation and self-correction. The end is a triumph of understanding & of man’s right to face life on his own terms.



Chapter Summaries:


Chapter 1: A Seagull’s Cry
[...]

Chapter 2: Somebody Needs a Lesson in Manners
[...]




PS: Removed Chapter 2; Chapter 3 will now be the new Chapter 2.
« Last Edit: 04 June 2009, 20:06:29 by Coren FrozenZephyr » Logged

"Everything should be as simple as possible and not simpler." Albert Einstein

"Is he allowed to do that?"
"I think that comes under the rule of Quia Ego Sic Dico."
"Yes, what does that mean?"
"'Because I say so', I think."
"That doesn't sound like much of a rule!"
"Actually, it's the only one he needs." (Making Money by Terry Pratchett)
Coren FrozenZephyr
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« Reply #2 on: 17 August 2008, 22:58:21 »

CHAPTER 1
A Seagull's Cry


Dearan Asaen, curious, talented, and rich, with a penetrating mind and irresistible laughter, seemed to unite some of the great blessings of existence; and had risen in the world for twenty years with little to mortify or hinder him.

Dearan planned, and planned with such ingenuity, such inexhaustible spirit, that he expected everything, all chance and circumstance, to bend and give way to his indomitable energy.

The real evils of Dearan’s situation were a desire to have rather too much his own way, and a disposition to arrange the affairs of his world accounting very little for the many turns & surprises of life, the inclination of others, or his own exhaustion: these were the disadvantages which threatened to alloy his many enjoyments. The danger, however, was at present so unperceived, that they did not by any means rank as misfortunes with him.

Embarrassment came, an unforeseen embarrassment. Four days ago, during one of the many ostentatious parties held among the noble men and women of Kimbar, the awkward incident happened. Dearan, a valetudinarian, normally, would not have attended the festivity; he was not feeling entirely well that day. Yet, chance & circumstance – perhaps also the inclinations, desires and intentions of certain others - contrived that a special invitation should arrive, three days prior to the party, in his name at the Rhuníth estate. The past days had been full of physical exertion at the Golden Coronet and Déárán, reasoning so courteously, decided that a world with Dearan enjoying himself was a slightly better place than a world with Dearan sweating. He accepted the invitation, so handsomely addressed to him.

The party had set off well at the Káyíuk residence. The gardens, the estate, the walks… all had been decorated in contemporary Zhunite style by the finest draftsmen of the region. There circulated among the guests even a rumour that Gérán Fleetfoot had constructed the two swan shaped ferries.

All morning long the graceful boats carried people to and fro the Kúhú, the lake bordering the estate where the party was to be held. Water-dancers greeted the guests before the ornate anchorage. The aged stone stairs leading up to the outer ring of the gardens were bathed in rose petals; red and pink and crimson dressing the walkway. From the hundreds of bird chirpings that accompanied the visitors on their way, Dearan’s quick mind and lively imagination inferred the presence of Birdsingers, hiding, perhaps, amidst the canopy.

There, at the top of the stone steps, was a flabby gentleman, with a moist surface, a massive configuration of brow, and eyes so much too small for his moon of a face that they seemed to have been originally made for somebody else. He certainly was a great creature, flabbily speaking.

Their eyes met for one brief moment, to the exasperation of one and the considerable misfortune of the other. Then, cumbrously at first, then gaining momentum, this great creature charged down the steps, not unlike one of those colossal Anpagan Pacifier galleys - leaving, in his wake, first a ripple, then a stronger, more turbulent current among the battalions of guests scaling the rise.

Khalid, heir to the Rhuníth estate, cringed, and extracted himself a few palmspans sideways. Dearan stood, still, at ease, shoulders back and relaxed, a proud suggestion to the arch of his back. He observed a canary alight from a nearby branch and settle elsewhere, closer to the food, higher up, perhaps to afford itself a better view of the spectacle that was about to unfold.

Against the considerably heavier bulk of this vessel, the young Krean described a fragile figure – growing more and more isolated in the clearing opening up around him as throngs of guests kindly removed themselves, less rapidly than they might have wished, more hurriedly than civility prescribed. Duels, in Zhun, were not unheard of.

Tall, graceful, and lean, Dearan held his ground, unperturbed, like the unwilling knife awaiting the onslaught of the butcher’s meat at dinner.

“What is the meaning of this!” bellowed the great creature.

Beline Terensis must have received the Fine.

“Ah! Mr Terensis. Always a pleasure. How do you do?”

“Away with the civilities!” said Mr Terensis breathing heavily from his nostrils, on the point of breaking out into some strong opinion.

“Perhaps, sir, you should sit down – here, on this bench, away from the sun – to give yourself a more favourable opportunity of recovering your breath,” the young Krean entreated him, with some agitation for the man’s health, and the prospect of his being overpowered by a failure of the heart in any incident to which he might be a party.

“There I was, on my way here, when the carriage was intercepted by an imperial messenger – one attached to your office if I am not mistaken – to hand me this, this FINE!”

“You have sufficient reason, I dare think,” said Dearan, “for being chafed and irritated –“

“There again!” exclaimed the great vessel, becoming violently angry, his sails, his portly chest, expanding with the wind. “I am of a quarrelsome temper. I am irascible. I am not polite!”

“Not very, I think.”

“I shall not pay it! If you think you can make me pay this, this –“ said Mr Terensis, staring at the piece of paper in his hand with angry bewilderment.

“I believe we established that it was a fine - not an uncommon creature – sir,” suggested the Krean.

“You believe!” said the man, pausing in his wrath to catch his breath, exhausted anew by so much talking, so soon after his impressive assault on the stairs, before it was fully restored. Abruptly, Mr Terensis broke out fiercely, “This, a ... a Fine?”, still refusing to comprehend that school of thought, first cultivated by the Krean and now spreading among the officialdom of the empire, which said, that however high he be, the Law was above him.

“Yes, sir. Nothing could be clearer. I happened to be present when it was being inscribed. I saw the paper.”

“You saw the paper! – you wrote the paper too. Dearan, this is your doing!”

“Ah, that,” Dearan responded, calmly, with a gleam in his eyes that promised to develop into a most dangerous persuasion, “is the subject of some controversy.”

“Cantriversee,” corrected the vessel, absentmindedly.

“Although its consequences are abundantly clear, as I said, there remains some contravuhsee regarding its causes. Recall sir, when, a month ago, entirely unsolicited, you suggested, so rightly, so righteously, in the vein of a citizen doing his Duty, that, as I was now an officer of the Empire, perhaps my income – including my private income – should be subjected to Imperial Taxation? The Third Exchequer was so impressed by this noble conduct that he felt it upon his office to acquaint himself with the affairs of such an exemplary citizen. I dare say His Eminence was very much inclined to reward you a Medal in the hope that you may provide a shining example of all that is proper, all that is just, and all that is due, to your kinsmen – until, to his great surprise, he discovered that the Annals recorded far less tax revenue than one would expect from a merchant of such significance.” Dearan paused, so that his words, and the weight of his meaning, might be better absorbed. “So there I was – not in any official capacity, but as a conscientious citizen duly paying his taxes – when, the Third Exchequer – having reasoned that such a model tradesman could not be evading his Pipeweed Levies – happened to be writing a missive instructing me to look into the matter.”

“...”

“Excuse me sir? I fear I did not catch that. Never mind. Imagine my astonishment when all my due diligence suggested that our Exemplary Citizen might have been more vehement in professing than performing! Thus, I sent out the first Official Enquiry. When two weeks passed without any response, instead of fining you right away, I used my discretion to address two further Notices to you. I thought to myself, ‘Zhun is, still, an outward province. One cannot expect the post to function as efficiently as in the Peninsula. Mr Terensis might have never received the Enquiry. Give him one more chance to put his house in order!”

“You vicious Krean!” Mr Terensis never spoke without first putting up his great hand as delivering a token to his hearers that he is going to edify them. “Have you any idea how much this costs!”

“I believe – “

“Ten thousand sovereigns!”

“Ten thousand sovereigns, one hundred and seventy-six viziers, and thirty-seven footmen’s pence, in fact. A quarter of the quarterly profits of the agricultural line of your trade.”

“You vile, vicious, villainous man! I thought you were opposed to the Pipeweed Levies!”

“I have indeed expressed my objections decisively – perhaps more strongly than prudence would have wished - to the Emperor, personally. I also object that we Krean, who produce the most, who trade the most, and therefore give the most encouragement to the industry of the Empire’s other nations, should have to face such extravagant levies and consider it unjust that Krean traders should be taxed less advantageously. And I shall continue to make my objections publicly. But an unjust law, so long as it is in force, must be obeyed.”

“Ten thousand sovereigns!” repeated Mr Terensis, the great vessel seemingly unable to put it out of his mind. “Ten thousand sovereigns! You vengeful beast!” burst Mr Terensis, raising his hand in indignation, and going up to the young Krean as if he meant to strike him. Mr Terensis’s advance was suddenly halted, and vigorous ripples, originating in his middle regions, swiftly extended/travelled up to his flabby cheeks, as if he had run into an invisible barrier, stomach-first. “Krean sorceries!” cried the great vessel, livid with grievance.

“Sir! Command yourself enough to say no more! This is neither the place nor the time to discuss the matter any further. If you have any – “

“But ten thousand sovereigns!..” lamented Mr Terensis, somewhat subdued.

“As I see you do have further objections,” Dearan took a little blue book from his pocket, and with calmer asperity added, “I shall give you an appointment tomorrow afternoon, at three. Good day!”

Dearan Asaen, dignified, astute, and by now slightly irate, moved on. His friend, very eager to join him and put as much distance in as short a time as possible between himself and the great bulk of Mr Terensis shaking so very much unsteadily, followed. The crowd, slightly disappointed that the spectacle was now over, reconvened and slowly, courteously, made its way up the flight of steps, with an air that was an example to mankind.

Baline Terensis sat down on the stone steps, an anchor hitting the ocean floor, and released his weight, flabbily, like a ship dead at sea, the wind removed from its sails. Mr Terensis sat for some time; not quite comprehending how he came to be stranded on such forlorn, grey rocks, and how something so small –for nothing had been or was visible on the horizon – should sink so great a vessel.

* * *

As Dearan and Khalid moved on, towards the reception on the third terrace to communicate their greetings to the mistress of the house, they passed dozens of little children arranged into groups of twos and threes, singing and offering them a variety of fruit liquor. Dearan marvelled at the discipline that kept the children, of such tender years, from fidgeting and presently retiring behind their elbows; and wondered by what method it had been imparted. Knowing something of children in general, and Akantha’s temperament in particular, he suspected the involvement of cajolements of a sugary nature – the children's restless tendencies relenting at the sight of Krath-chocolate, generously administered.

Dearan considered himself a good judge of character; and to his expert eye, the little boy of six to his right looked like one inclined to invest his spare time in mischief. He puffed his chest out and sang at the top of his voice with utmost solemnity; cast an admonishing glare at the rest of the choir behind him when they failed to support his lead with enough zeal; and every now and then, when a difficult passage was imminent, turned back to make directing gestures at his friends, who did not seem very appreciative of this solicitude for their hitting the right notes. The stiffest spine, once bent, stays bent. “He,” Dearan thought, with some resentment, “must have been allowed the liberty of climbing onto Lady Akantha’s lap – lucky child! – and to sit there munching quietly at his Khofuhshati.”

A curious and animating notion then entered Dearan’s mind: a picture of the boy taking Mr Terensis by the cheek in a tantrum, and smoothing his face all over with his hand. Unable to banish the incongruous image, Dearan chuckled – rather passionately. Khalid must have consigned his friend’s newfound mirth either to a cheerful disposition or as one of the eccentricities he was entitled to by virtue of being a Krean; beyond a glance in his direction he let the matter pass without further comment.

They found Lady Akantha energetically engaged in making everyone around her feel welcome; not one guest who came her way escaped her notice.

“Khalid! Dearan!” beamed the young lady in whose honour the party was held, addressing the two men as though they were a pair of long promised emissaries from a faraway, exotic land. “How glad I am to see you!” Lady Akantha had the Gift of making people feel welcome. Then, for a moment, her eyes were clouded over; and, turning to Dearan, she said, apologetically, “I am sorry about – (she blushed)- about that unfortunate episode upon your arrival.”

“I should be,” Dearan took her hands warmly in his, “the one apologizing. I have no right to inconvenience you with any unsavoury arguments or to sour the festive air.” He sighed, following a small white cloud drift towards the sea. “So seldom I get an hour to myself that I try – I try very hard to leave all unwholesome incidents behind, especially when I am to meet such pleasant company. But Business seems to have a will of its own, sometimes contrary to my own inclinations.”

“I hope you have noticed my sanguine influence,” Khalid interposed, and winked with a conspiratory air at Akantha. He directed an eyebrow to the spot their hands met and coughed significantly, as if to say: “Ladies and Gentlemen! Take note! She bowed formally but – instead of a quaint Krean salutation – he returned it like a true Zhunite. What a sanguine change!” Khalid concluded theatrically, “I rest my case.” They all smiled.

I am glad I could make it. What a welcome reanimation of exhausted spirits!” Their hands parted, and Dearan added, “How gracefully is everything arranged! You have deserved it Akantha.”

“But do forgive Mr Terensis. He is like an uncle to me, you see” pursued Akantha, innocently, with some trepidation.

Dearan did not see; but he did not say so. Akantha continued:

“He is a kind-hearted man (The various muscles of Dearan’s face configured themselves as if to say, first “We have our doubts about that,” and then “but we shall submit to your better judgement.”) but he has a great temper and does not know when to stop.”

“Such incidents are not uncommon in this line of business I am told. Please, Akantha, do not trouble yourself over it. Besides, it is good practice. If I learn to handle your dear uncle, I shall have no problem with the Anpagan delegation tomorrow.”

Then, with a theatrical flourish mirroring his friend’s (which elicited a smile from Akantha), Dearan began anew: “Nothing should be allowed to cast a shadow over today’s party!”

The sun illuminated Lady Akantha’s white dress with alternating patterns of light; now her slender ankles, now her vivacious hands, now her chiselled face flared with high-spirited radiance.

“Dearan! How I envy you! Those who have seen so much of the world, who have travelled to all the Empire’s provinces and beyond – like Fang Caiaphas or yourself – how little you make these injuries seem! How swiftly you sweep such incidents aside!”

With the austere discipline that comes from a capacity to feel too deeply, Dearan resisted the urge to cringe. He did not like his name partaking in any sentence in which Fang Caiaphas had a presence.

“Dearan,” Akantha said after some time, with a touch of wonder in her voice. “I know that you would never wake up in the morning oppressed by the familiarity of everything or dread coming out of bed wondering how small your world must be for such incidents to be so humiliating, so insurmountable. But – are not you ever hurt? Or do you learn to shield your expectations, your feelings from the world?”

“I do not think that can ever be learned – I hope not! But Akantha! Could I but be as you described, how simpler everything would be... The invincible man! But I must own the truth: They do hurt; I do feel the pain, but I refuse to let that matter.” Dearan looked away; the little cloud was no longer visible. He thought the horizon appeared somewhat blurrier. The sun was too bright. He turned back.

Finding them so determined to propound this to be a light-hearted day yet wander into melancholy, Khalid attacked the silence from another ground:

“Hmm, is it jasmine or lavender? I cannot quite tell” said he, pointing to a small white pouch tied to Akantha’s wrist.

“Both, I believe.”

“What a beautiful fragrance! Did you get it from town?”

“Ah, yes! From Caiaphases’ new shop, above the harbour.”

“Well done Khalid!” he thought, knowing well how his friend felt about a certain Caiaphas. By and large though, he considered it a rather useful interruption, for it supplied them with fresh matter for thought and conversation.

“You know, when I first entered the shop it occurred to me that the shop-keeper must be a very happy man to have so many little drawers so cleverly hidden. You must promise to see it Dearan; I believe the shop is of Krean design. It is a very elegant space. Though...” Akantha was lost in contemplation for a moment, as if she was measuring her next words and found the sum somewhat surprising. “I remember wondering, when I peeped into the tied-up packets inside, if the flower-seeds and bulbs –“

“Yearned for a fine day to break out of those jails, and bloom?” proposed the Krean.

“Yes! How did you – “

“I used to ask the same thing as a child. Now, I know that it is possible.”

“You don’t mean... that they actually – yearn?” Akantha felt the need to seek further clarification. Two things contributed to her uncertainty: Firstly, she knew that the Krean mind thought differently; one could never tell when a Krean ceased to speak metaphorically. Secondly, she knew that Dearan was a mage; that, rather significantly expanded the limits of what was possible without the involvement of any metaphors.

“That, the lively imagination can only suspect. I do know, however, that with a little encouragement they can – and do – bloom and escape.”

There hung in the air the soft, luminous scent of jasmines, tinctured by the sharper fragrance of lavender.

“Dearan...” Akantha said. “But enough of this talk of blossoms and exploring the world. As you said, today I must be grateful.”

“Dearan, stop.” Akantha’s hands lost their composure. “Dearan! This isn’t funny! Will you stop please!”

“I would say I am sorry but I cannot quite bring my heart to agree. It seems I made a wiser choice than I realized at the time.”

Akantha was not pleased; absentmindedly she had been squeezing the white pouch. The fragrance of crushed lavender intensified in the air, and the light breeze picked it up at irregular intervals.

“Here, please, a small gift from me.” The young Krean made as if to hand her a grapefruit-sized package but withdrew it before their hands connected. “I want you to promise me that you won’t open it until all the guests are gone and you retire for the night.”

“Then I can assure you that it will have a better fate than your advice has often found; for it shall be attended to!” interposed Khalid, who, being a close friend of Akantha and Dearan’s host, had appointed himself to the post of furthering their acquaintance. He put one arm around Akantha’s waist and another on Dearan’s shoulder, an impish smile lighting his face.

But Dearan’s attention was elsewhere.

“Is that?”

* * *


[Faivir/Faivis Fang Caiaphas: who talks, walks and deports himself so handsomely, so gallantly and so gracefully, that, despite all his misgivings, Dearan’s sense of justice cannot help but wish him every happiness in life, a hundred leagues away.]

[A crowd of excitable ladies and gentlemen, prominent among them Anezha, who insists on wearing bodices much too tight for her bursting breasts and mixing orange with brownish plum]

[A more pleasant corner of the party: Discussion with Aleron, Cyr, Endre, Galen and Alair; Pipeweed Levies]

[Encounter with Celeres & the promised embarrassment]

« Last Edit: 21 December 2008, 18:23:21 by Coren FrozenZephyr » Logged

"Everything should be as simple as possible and not simpler." Albert Einstein

"Is he allowed to do that?"
"I think that comes under the rule of Quia Ego Sic Dico."
"Yes, what does that mean?"
"'Because I say so', I think."
"That doesn't sound like much of a rule!"
"Actually, it's the only one he needs." (Making Money by Terry Pratchett)
Artimidor Federkiel
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« Reply #3 on: 17 August 2008, 23:35:05 »

Ah yes, I got your message that you want to remove the current chapters for now and redo the whole thing... Can be done, especially as you already get into the rewrite :) The chapters haven't been converted to final Santharian book format in the Library menu, so in the process of getting it up again, I can then integrate it properly as well, especially as we now get teaser/intro. - BTW, two questions:

- Got a teaser/intro specifically for chapter 1?
- Will Chapter 1 still be called "The Seagull's Cry" like the complete story?

A note on the criticism I made a while agoi: It's been a while since I read and commented on the Seagull's Cry. But the problems I pointed out very much reminded me of my own writings (mostly German stuff you don't really see on the site anyway), so they seemed quite familiar. I also tended to get lost in a lots of details in describing all kinds of things, packing it in intricate sentence constructions, so that they read as little masterpieces and were to the brim full with all kinds of stuff to tell a really grand story. The problem often is that in all that it might happen that you actually forget to tell a story that is entertaining enough for the reader. Of course there are differences in what kind of stories you tell and what language you use, but I think you should always strive for a certain balance. To that effort it helps for example to choose a clear theme for a chapter (a chapter title therefore often does a good job to make clear for yourself what you're intending to go for). I see you also seem to have structured your progress now a bit, judging from the brackets at the end - thus you can work through section by section. Seems like a good approach.

Personal note: I tried a very structured approach when doing the "Eye of Skanris Keep" and once it was clear how to do it, the 26 pages took a while to get completed, but they basically wrote themselves. I guess I learned a lot by watching the TV series LOST lately, because what makes this show so great is just brilliant writing. The writers have to tell a story each episode, and to do so they tell half the episode in flashbacks of a person. So they have to pick out carefully what to actually tell and how to get back to the main story and enrich it plus usually adding a major twist into it that resonates in the current story and in the overall context of the complete show. If you think about it, they can only tell the absolute minimum in the current story and the flashbacks to get it done in 40 minutes, and they teach a good lesson what is essential for a story and what is not. Each episode has a beginning and an end, there's a premise and a built-up and a conclusion (and in between you think you know what they're after and every time they get you by suprise... lol). Sure, writing a novel/a chapter of a novel is a bit different, but it helped me a lot to think in terms of where I want to go and why, to define landmarks and to think about how to get from A to B. That's also why I wrote that particular story by posting them with cliffhangers... ;) Thinking about the structure first in more detail helps you not to get lost in the writing process and you can really focus and decide whether you're still on track or not.

P.S. Will try to get to reading the chapter once it's finished and give further comments!
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« Reply #4 on: 18 August 2008, 00:20:03 »

Nicely put, dear Sage (and a well-timed admonition, as I too am prone to such flights of verbal artistry as leave my readers plodding vexedly around a forest of flowery metaphors, searching for the stag of story... er... I'm doing it again, aren't I?  Anyhow.... back to Coren's work...)

As to style, though, I am lost in admiration...

The sampling above is positively Dickensian, from its use of extended metaphors ("the great vessel"), extravagant alliteration, ("vile, vicious, villainous"), and extensive vocabulary, down to its ear-wormable phrases and deftly witty character sketches.    It is a pleasure to read - if, like myself, one adores Dickens...


If I had a complaint, it would be that the phrasing is too 'modern' in tone, suggesting as it does Dickens' London or Jane Austen's country estates rather than the medieval or even the Renaissance era.   Dala's little froth-headed protagonist (Calissa?  Clissa?) gets away with it in her first-person bubblings and carries it off  - with only a few wrong notes which may be forgiven in the sheer fun - , but here in omniscient narrator mode you might wish to consider honing down some of the 'mannered' constructions and vocabulary choices - particularly in an initial chapter where you are so necessarily setting the stage for what will follow!

Let me choose but one solitary solecism (sorry, I also can't resist alliteration!)  to prod and see whether it comes apart, do?

While words like 'tobacco' (though we have 'pipeweed') and 'taxes' (the word is authentic M.E., from Latin, and the history goes back through Biblical times - verily, death and taxes have been with us from the beginning of the world!) are unexceptionable in and of themselves, placing them into conjunction creates an eerie sort of chronological dissonance.

"Tobacco Taxes" - are we now in the time of King James, or perhaps at Boston Harbour?   The Civil War?   Sir Walter Raleigh's legacy? 

  A change to such exposition as "I deplore the new tax on our Vhin supplies; we shall be all breaking our pipes if this continues!" or even simply substituting 'Pipeweed Levy' would give us a stronger sense of fantasy and less of a Hornblower atmosphere.

I promised to restrict myself to one cavil, but vocabulary choices - deft as they are - rife with implication and connotation demand comment:  'post'?  'Exchequer'?  'battalion' and 'certificate'?   All taste far more of the eighteen century than of the sixteenth - and while this society may indeed be more 'advanced', with more of the appurtenances of 'civilization' than the mainlands of Caelereth,  I feel myself in a different universe altogether.

In summation: so far, delightful - flowing - involving - witty - the prose is masterfully handled and we are left in no doubt that the author can manage his material and paint his landscapes for us.  There is no crudity here, no barbarism or ineptness; rather the reverse, in which a too-neatly wielded brush gives us an elegance somehow anachronistic.
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« Reply #5 on: 18 August 2008, 01:50:18 »

I dont have much to contribute to this besides reiterating what Judy had to say. Though I'm well aware of the Krath's complicated economic and adminstrative procedures (which I think you exemplify well here with your usage of somewhat unfamiliar jargon- that seemingly is even able to confuse agricultural tycoons) I do think your phraseology is far too modern for the context, regardless of how idealistic and brilliant the Earth Empire may be.

However, I did find this very enjoyable to read- though this is hardly a surprise when reading your far too uncommonly disclosed works.

Decipher
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« Reply #6 on: 30 August 2008, 20:54:08 »

I have been procrastinating! Next section to be posted on Tuesday!

Thank you for the commentary! I sincerely appreciate it :)
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« Reply #7 on: 02 September 2008, 23:52:38 »

Part 2 posted. :)

(1) Vocabulary choices: Thanks again for the insightful analysis Judith! I only managed to change "Tobacco Taxes" and "Certificate of Merit" to "Pipeweed Levies" and "Medal" respectively. Can you help me with the others? You know how bad I am with inventing names and titles!

(2) I found a few more epitaphs to frame the novel. I still cannot choose between them. They all emphasize a different aspect of the work.

(3) Any further comments? How does the new section compare with the first part? (I don't think the dialogue flows as smoothly - or am I being a perfectionist again?)

(4) Could I also get some comments on characterization?
- Are the characters well-rounded and convincing or just cardboard characters?
- Do you get a sense of the type of people they are after reading the text?
- What can I do to improve my characterization?

« Last Edit: 04 September 2008, 05:14:41 by Coren FrozenZephyr » Logged

"Everything should be as simple as possible and not simpler." Albert Einstein

"Is he allowed to do that?"
"I think that comes under the rule of Quia Ego Sic Dico."
"Yes, what does that mean?"
"'Because I say so', I think."
"That doesn't sound like much of a rule!"
"Actually, it's the only one he needs." (Making Money by Terry Pratchett)
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« Reply #8 on: 03 September 2008, 02:09:58 »

Oh, one last question:

(5) Re plot: Am I revealing too much of the plot? Have I managed to tease the reader just enough to build up suspense or is the pace too leisurely? Are there too many passive, talking-heads situations?

Well, one more:

(6) Re atmosphere:
- Have I managed to conjure a fantasy feel? I wanted to keep references to magic very subtle: enough to suggest to the reader that the extraordinary is a possibility but not displayed so overtly that the sense of  "mystery" is lost. LOTR cf Dungeons & Dragons.

- Does the reader sense that the Krean are somewhat different, something out of the ordinary? Does the text portray that mystical, faraway sensation?
« Last Edit: 04 September 2008, 05:15:06 by Coren FrozenZephyr » Logged

"Everything should be as simple as possible and not simpler." Albert Einstein

"Is he allowed to do that?"
"I think that comes under the rule of Quia Ego Sic Dico."
"Yes, what does that mean?"
"'Because I say so', I think."
"That doesn't sound like much of a rule!"
"Actually, it's the only one he needs." (Making Money by Terry Pratchett)
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« Reply #9 on: 03 September 2008, 19:18:46 »

In response to your sub-section of (6) concerning Krean mysticism, I think that if I didn't know the Krean were such an esoteric people I wouldn't think otherwise after reading this. Though some of the dialouge suggests a distinction between the Krean and the Zhunites (like 'you vicious Krean!'- differienating between the characters) as well as some of it suggesting a more magical undertone (such as 'Krean Sorceries') I think perhaps a few more references to Krean culture (perhaps how such a situation would be handled back in Shar) could be useful in embellishing the Krean with a bit more of an exotic image.

Just a thought,

Decipher
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« Reply #10 on: 03 September 2008, 19:52:32 »

Quote
"You don’t mean... that they actually – yearn?” Akantha felt the need to seek further clarification. Two things contributed to her uncertainty: Firstly, she knew that the Krean mind thought differently; one could never tell when a Krean ceased to speak metaphorically. Secondly, she knew that Dearan was a mage; that, rather significantly expanded the limits of what was possible without the involvement of any metaphors.

??

Should I make it more explicit?

What about Dearan's syntax?
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"Everything should be as simple as possible and not simpler." Albert Einstein

"Is he allowed to do that?"
"I think that comes under the rule of Quia Ego Sic Dico."
"Yes, what does that mean?"
"'Because I say so', I think."
"That doesn't sound like much of a rule!"
"Actually, it's the only one he needs." (Making Money by Terry Pratchett)
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« Reply #11 on: 03 September 2008, 20:07:13 »

Well 'making it more explicit' but not neccesarily 'explicit' if you catch my meaning. As I said, I can spot the undertones you hint at because I have contextual knowledge of what your talking about. If you intend for this to be for the wider audiences (i.e. those who wouldn't dare step foot on our freakish continent) then perhaps it might be an idea to delve deeper into what the Krean can/could/do actually accomplish- even if it is only to promote their attributes from as many different points of reference as you can.

I presume by Dearan's syntax you mean how his dialouge is arranged? In which case I think in its current state its very effective at expressing the complexity of his pysche through his vocabularly (not only because he is Krean but because he is the amazing Dearan- these underlying ideas of consistent brilliance introduce the idea of Dearan as such an influential figure in a clever yet well-paced way). I think his 'syntax' (if my interpretation of the word is correct) is good as long as you continue to develop in a similar way. I like the fact that I can almost imagine he speaks like someone of affluence before he has attained the power- characterising him nicely.

Helpful Input?

Decipher
« Last Edit: 03 September 2008, 20:14:50 by Decipher Ziron » Logged

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« Reply #12 on: 04 September 2008, 05:06:17 »

Yes, thank you Deci:

(a) I will bear your suggestion re Krean references in mind. I don't think there will be a lot of opportunity in this chapter (or chapter 2) but once the plot moves towards what I plan for chapters 4-6, I shall begin "cross-selling".

(b) Re Dearan's syntax: That is one reason I gave Dearan those lines. But the real cause is Krean metaphysics and epistemology: ie the way they relate to existence and the way they think/acquire knowledge. That should gradually become clear. I do, however, want to keep the message subtle so it will take several chapters before this begins to surface. Anyway, just a hint/something to be on the lookout for.

@everyone: Can I please have some comments on points 4-6 above? 153 views and only 2 commentors? Surely the other viewers must have had opinions - you don't have to like the story. I promise I will not go on The Rampage. Please let me know what you think and why :)
« Last Edit: 04 September 2008, 05:17:23 by Coren FrozenZephyr » Logged

"Everything should be as simple as possible and not simpler." Albert Einstein

"Is he allowed to do that?"
"I think that comes under the rule of Quia Ego Sic Dico."
"Yes, what does that mean?"
"'Because I say so', I think."
"That doesn't sound like much of a rule!"
"Actually, it's the only one he needs." (Making Money by Terry Pratchett)
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« Reply #13 on: 04 September 2008, 08:52:22 »

It reads like a Victorian Novel of high quality, but with a touch of the otherworldy.
A fantastic bit of prose, with some very witty dialouge.
However, at the beggining, the sentances seem a bit too strung together, too lengthly. And there does seem to be a bit of a rush into the storyline. Other then that, I throughly enjoyed it. I look forward to the next installment!
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« Reply #14 on: 04 September 2008, 15:08:51 »

How about finishing the chapter first, Coren?
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