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Hey. After a rather lengthy hiatus, I tried capturing a scene I wanted to write for the beginning of a fantasy novel I have been planning called "Epoch of the Brotherhood". Here's the synopsis:
"Mana, the crystalized essence of magic, has become ingrained in the lives and economy of the Tia'draian world. Mankind relies on it, elfkind worship it, and the enigmatic beast men who once feared it are now enslaved by it. With the power to augment the body and bend primal and elemental forces to the userâEUTMs will, the crystal's detrimental effects are ignored, and all three races plunder their continents, mining the crystal, refining it, and becoming addicted to it.
The crystals are exhaustible but the demand is endless. The Ackad Confederacy, an ailing democracy united by war, and the Kingdom of Ghath, a puppet regime of the Lodia Dominion, are in a bitter war for the remaining scraps of mana scattered throughout the continent of Theranir. Thousands dies each day, elves are enslaved as status symbols, and the Great War of Mana rages on.
Romau, an amnesiac sentenced to death for killing an entire Confederate ambush party, is rescued by two members of the mercenary band âEUoeThe BrotherhoodâEU and recruited into their fold, but not before exposing his terrifying power during the prison break: the ability to summon and utilize mana without crystals.
After his initiation, Romau is assigned to the tutelage of the fame-seeking leader of the band, a former Knight of Lodia named Chesmarn. However, the Confederacy is on the hunt for Romau, the Empire and the Dominion closing in on the rumors of the mysterious âEUoeOldrait KeldradâEU prophesized by the EmperorâEUTMs seer, and a cult called the Order of Xanartias demands their prophet for the resurrection of their pagan gods. The Gods are watching them. Where will the Wheel of Fate stop?"
The beginning of the story begins with him in prison trying to remember his life, but failing. All he remembers is when he woke up in a snowstorm. This was my first attempt to capture the whole "amnesiac in a snowstorm" scene which I feel sets up the character of Romau nicely. Any comments or suggestions for improvement would benefit me greatly.
I huddled on the grimy stone floor motionless, sweat seeping into the fiery marks on my back as the light peered through the beads as if they were miniature magnifying glasses. The chain bit into my ankle like the fangs of a snake, robbing me the feeling of my right foot.
Attempting to swim through my consciousness for fragments of who I was, in hopes for even a memory, I drowned beneath the raging currents. All I was now was some manslayer, enemy of freedom, spy for someone or something I don't even know.
All I remember before I had slain my fellow âEUoehumansâEU was waking to the howling of the wind, short of breath and feeling the cold wind cut through me to the bone.
I remember that I shot up in the middle of the storm. Questions like âEU~Where was I? What is going on?âEUTM pounded my heart and mind with furor as I shook uncontrollably as I jerked backwards in short steps. I fell into the snow. Gasping for air, the snow rushed into my teary eyes. I was going to âEUoedieâEU.
Yet, why do I know what death was? I knew nothing about myself, where I was, or anything, yet I knew this was snow, this was cold, and I was dying. Was I alone? Were there people here? I couldnâEUTMt die alone, not without knowing what I am.
The word âEUoehumanâEU came to me. Was this what I was? Where are other âEUoehumansâEU? I needed answers. I wanted to die, to end of the numbness in my body, but I was afraid. I couldnâEUTMt dieâEU¦not yetâEU¦not without knowing why. Dying alone with no purposeâEU¦an empty lifeâEU¦I couldnâEUTMt do it.
That was the first time I knew fearâEU¦that I felt âEUoehumanâEU. So alien, yet so familiar. So comforting, yet soâEU¦frightening.
Beyond the snowy veil I saw nothing but an endlessly flat landscape with snow-capped mountains seemingly miles away. As I shivered with every crunch of snow beneath my blue feet, the endless stream of clouds above trapped the life giving rays of the sun. Streaks on the crests of the hills formed patterns from the gusting winds as flocks of birds scavenged the corpses of mice, sneezing, sniffling, and coughing from their inflamed lungs as they braved the cold for their morning breakfast.
With nothing but the salty taste of sweat on my lips, I carried on as my legs wobbled uncontrollably until I fell to the snow. I felt as if a beast was clawing its way from the inside of my stomach, my throat so dry that it hurt to cough. I wanted warmth. I wanted life. Most importantly, I needed food.
I kinda felt lost in some parts and not to offend but it sounded like many other fantasy story's but this is still a draft so i guess we will see. I hope to see this finished, good luck
At 7/2/12 01:32 PM, UnHappyCrayon wrote: I kinda felt lost in some parts and not to offend but it sounded like many other fantasy story's but this is still a draft so i guess we will see. I hope to see this finished, good luck
At the beginning of every great story, there are two characters in conflict. In the Wheel of Time, Lews Therin Telamon and Elan Morin Tedronai are already enemies, but their enmity is brought to a climax. It's a genius way to start a story, really, with a climax. Only later will readers realize the enormity of what's happening, but Jordan did a good job keeping the reader interested. In the Night Angel Trilogy (by Brent Weeks), you find Azoth not only in conflict with nature, but also with the notorious wetboy, Durzo Flint. In Peter V. Brett's Warded Man you have the anticipation of foreboding news. Something bad is happening, and Arlen doesn't like it. You're then swept into this grand conflict between humans and demons.
When you start a story, you want to try to emulate this. Cut out the purple prose and exposition, get straight into the character, into some conflict, and pull us along. Take on a position of engaging the reader, rather than trying to entice them with language and a unique premise. That's the icing on the cake. Show them what's really important.
My response to reading this entire thread:
1.) OP has either never heard of, believes he is, or really really wants to be Frank Herbert and decided if he changed all the names and locations in his Dune book report it would come out as a good premise for a fantasy novel. I mean it does come out as a good premise, a premise that was already done... and called Dune.
2.) There is nothing original in that story. I mean if the first point didn't hammer it home there is not a single thing aside from proper nouns that make that story an original creation. Forgive me, but when was the last time anyone was impressed with hearing that wind "cut through to the bone". WE KNOW. WIND HAS BEEN DESCRIBED THIS WAY . Other choice phrases like "the chain bit into my ankle like the fangs of a snake", "the salty taste of sweat on my lips" and "that was the first time I knew fear" also have the makings of a terrible story. Your main character is narrating this like his motivation was watching Gatorade commercials, reading The Call of the Wild, and playing CoD 6 instead of participating in reality.
I get that you are obsessed with both Frank Herbert and Jack London but let's be responsible and write some words that haven't been written before. When you steal loops and post them on the audio forum they get banned. When you reach into your large dangling sack of cliches and pull this out I call you an embarrassing excuse for creativity. It's not the same but I think it gets the point across. Try for something north of 1.7% originality in your writing.
3.) Apparently instead of criticism the best the rest of this forum can offer is to tell you to bake cakes with icing on the inside. That's wrong too. Don't listen to anyone, especially not me. However if you post something that is obviously not original or interesting and has been beaten to death by every conceivable species and subspecies of media I will expect you to do better.
I give this a ?/10 and am going to bed.
Anyway, it's important to be original, but I don't think that was the problem here. If all these cliches and tropes didn't exist, your story would still fall flat. It is bare and has no substance or driving force--but then again, it could be because of the derivative nature of the story.
Originality is not really a factor in for me for anything on NG, unless you are straight-up stealing ideas or you are thinking about publishing this (are you? Doesn't really matter, though, ideas get recycled like crazy all the time in any medium). In the end, I don't care what it resembles, as long as you learn something along the way, something that can be incorporated into a new body of writing later. If your story is solid, I won't mind that it looks like something I've seen before. Keep writing, and I especially suggest you try exercises on the web to help you develop your writing skills and get your juices flowing.
Ahem--don't be florid and flowery (it's just filler) and don't be esoteric either. Exercises will help you discover your literary voice and style.
Giving out writing reviews to anyone who wants them (exception: poems. I'll find you).
Telling a writer to be original as advice is so counter productive, I'm surprised people do it. I'm sorry, but if you really want to help someone telling them to "be original" is like telling a blind person to "just imagine it." I just don't think it's a good approach when doling out advice. Try to be more productive.
In the end, there's nothing in your intro. There's no body to it. That's why I said introduce conflict. But a bad intro is just a sign of a troubled approach. You want to make sure you know what you're doing, or you have an idea of where you want to get. I would advise, when first learning the technical rules of writing a novel, avoid pantsing. Once you've got a couple manuscripts under your belt, and your ideas are now breaching your subconscious almost fully formed, only then will you want to try your hand at it. But it's very difficult, and requires a unique approach. It's no better or worse than outlining, though, so stick with outlining until you're more comfortable.
The important thing to remember is that there's no such thing as a bad idea, only a bad approach. If you're really excited about your idea, learn to approach it in a different way. Instead of writing about mana and magic crystals ruling the kingdoms of the world and being the basis of science (blah blah blah), hinge your story on something uniquely you: be it characters, fights, parties; hell, I once toyed with the idea of a story similar to the common high school romps like Project X and American Pie, but set in a fantasy land.
And always remember: don't focus on the little things. What's important is the story, not the approximate ratio of mana and the belladona nightshade to create a potion that could create zombies. Maybe it'll come up later, but unless it does, don't figure those details out. Sometimes, I find myself doing this, getting caught looking up tangential details, but resist the urge.
I make a lot of imperative statements, sorry. Just trying to get the point across.
First off, I would like to thank Deathcon7, UnHappyCrayon, DeftandEvil for the critiques as I am currently trying to retool the premise (or work on a different story idea entirely) and work on various writing exercises I have been finding. It's been so long since I've written and wanted to get something down, despite not having found my literary voice yet. Figured the way to do that was jump in writing, but it seems it's best to do some exercises and smaller pieces to find my voice first. Still, I appreciate your criticism as I found your words very helpful.
To mhzinski, damn. Yes, I am familiar with Dune. The concept for the mana crystals though came from the idea from The Magic Goes Away by Larry Niven with the concept of non-renewable magic. I planned to implement the idea in an alternative history story taking place at least sixty years after the Knights Templars' first visit the Temple Mount, where they discover the mana crystals (which are non-renewable) and have magic itself be the souls and memories of human beings. Of course, later on I was inspired by various video games such as Tactics Ogre to do a more fantasy approach. I can deal with having this called derivative and crappy (which it is), and I found the "Gatorade commerical" comment funny. The problem I have is the completely unnecessary personal attacks which have no relevance to the improvement of the story or provides any useful advice. Like this story of mine, what you type out that immediately comes out of your head might not be a good thing to show on a forum. But I wanted critique and got it, but did not expect this amount disrespect. To put it bluntly, typing out a rant like an angry brat doesn't help much at all. I welcome harsh criticism towards my work, but I do not appreciate such rudeness directed at me. It's a lose-lose situation: I learn nothing except "you suck" (which helps how...?) and you make yourself look like a pissant on a public forum.
Now, are you going to be civil or not? We're adults here, now act like one.
I did comment on content as well as the contributor instead of just content, which is bad criticism. Thank you for holding me accountable.
To correct my earlier criticisms:
This writing is a series of cliched developed ideas and emotions; and has no originally developed ideas. I have no problem with writers uprooting content from other stories but you take ideas with too many strings attached for it to be less than glaringly apparent they are not your ideas. This also ruins the coherence of your writing. The main character's narration is unbearably inhuman.
Start from the ground up on your own foundation. Not ten stories up building sideways on someone else's building. It will last longer and looks less ugly.
I would agree with Deathcon7 insofar as trying to introduce some sort of conflict in the beginning. Conflict can obviously take many forms- with self, others, etc. Find that way to make conflict(s) for your characters touch your reader in some fashion. I understand that its difficult at times to get conflict going right away in any writing; I've had to deal with this problem myself, going through at least several drafts.
Try experimenting with trouble scenes/trouble material that you want to include, but aren't satisfied with and rewrite them. If you find bits you like of those varied writings, segregate them off somewhere until you feel that you have enough to try an attempt something with them, either collectively or individually; you might get something you never thought of before and that might help you get the initial bout of conflict you need. But if it's too much grief, try starting over with the base concept; rework it if needed.
"I am a part of all that I have met."- Alfred, Lord Tennyson