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I think Terry's points about style and cliche are valid ones, but I would say stick to utilitarian language if it's comfortable for you. Trying to force "style" will not work and I would rather read a good story told in simple language than something that reads like one of my poems from college.

I think it would help if Terry could point out some examples for you of where your awareness of the cliche shows. For my part,  I would suggest being careful about using humor. Just based on my first read-through of each story, I think you have a decent grasp of how to get humor out of the interplay between the characters. While I don't have any examples at hand, I would just warn that you watch out for anything that doesn't make YOU laugh. If you find yourself chuckling, then it's probably going to work on other people, too.

So far you have strength in plotting and in characters who really feel like they have some depth. Nothing to sniff at, there!

For a good example of what not to do, check out Raymond E Feist's Krondor: the Betrayal. I have never read anything else by him, so I can't comment on the quality of his stuff overall, but I found this book at a used book store and bought it because I knew it was based on a classic CRPG he had a hand in and that he is a well known fantasy author. I couldn't finish it and sold it back. I'm pretty sure the book jacket was more engaging to read than the actual story. His plain and direct prose was not so much a problem as the fact that he takes you from place to place, person to person, event to event, and you never really feel like you're there. His pacing is very good, but there is no tactile or emotional information, no sense of immersion or atmosphere whatsoever. It's apparently the thirteenth book set in a universe he is well known for, so maybe I would have been more interested had I read the others before it. But really, the bookon its own can just be described as bland and I can't imagine the others being like it if they're so successful. Anyway, check it out--that is, if you want to purposely read a book that is bad...
Chapters four and five are now up. I have also made some updates to the three first chapters--nothing major, mainly just tweaks to make things flow better. I have decided to forgo having chapter titles, as they serve no real purpose (beyond making me frustrated when I can't come up with a good one). I might change my mind about it later on but it's not something that I want to spend time on pondering right now.

The story is scripted all the way to the end now; some parts of the synopsis are vague, but I'm pretty sure I'll come up with more details as I keep writing. As for the ending, the protagonists will face an important choice and I have yet to decide in which direction to go.
Got through chapter 4. I kind of like the idea of the chapter titles. This one could have been called "The Wise Woman," or something. But I think just numbering them is fine, too. You can always give them titles after you've finished, if it seems appropriate.
I'm facing a little conundrum here. I would like to keep the same order of POV's going through the entire book (Rynn/Baylon/Olvan/Rynn/Baylon/Olvan/etc) But once Rynn, Olvan and Jedd are reunited at the end of Chapter 4, moving from an "Olvan chapter" to a "Rynn chapter" feels a little dull since it's just a continuation of the events in the previous chapter if that makes sense. So I've been thinking of interjecting short chapters from the antagonist's POV inbetween Rynn's and Olvan's chapters. The problem here is that I don't think I can keep this up for the entirety of the novel, since after a certain point it's vital to the story that the reader doesn't have any idea what the antagonists are up to. So I don't know what to do. I mean sure, it's not a huge deal if we go from Olvan->Rynn, after all it's a different POV, it's just something that's bugging me.

Also, as we reach the pivotal point in the storyline when R/O/J cross paths with Baylon and Jenandra at "the tomb" and the antagonists show up, chapters will become much shorter for a little while. I have a rough guideline of around 5000 words per chapter, but that won't work when I'm describing an event at a single location that takes place over just an hour or so. So the pace will pick up for a bit, but I think that makes sense in the context of what's happening.
I'm just sitting down to give this a read now but thought I'd chime in with thoughts on your conundrum. 

I wouldn't worry too much about breaking the POV sequence. Having a fixed order like that is a great idea, but breaking it when the story requires will actually serve to reinforce the structure. I've used a similar device in a novel myself. So if skipping a POV make sense and serves the story, do it.

Also, shorter chapters and frequent POV switching to pick up the pace at tense or exciting moments is a GREAT idea. Again, having a "normal" chapter length is good but deviating from that length to make a point is better. Just like music, or any art, I suppose, set expectations then mess with them to enhance what you're trying to communicate  Smile
That was my thinking as well, yes. In a movie, an emotional scene doesn't have the same pacing and editing as an action or chase scene, and likewise it makes sense to me to shorten the chapters at this point to drive home the point that shit's hitting the proverbial fan.

After all, Stephen King has written chapters that are just a sentence or a couple of words IIRC. So maybe chapter length isn't something one needs to worry overly much about (and too short is better than too long) Smile
I read through the next chapter recently. I think my favorite part was getting more of Baylon's backstory and personality out of the events and his reflections. I'm still concerned that Jen is a bit predictable, but you're doing a good job feeding us little tidbits of each character to keep us interested and to keep them growing that I think Jen still has plenty of room to grow.

I wouldn't mind a few pieces from the perspective of the antagonist. I think you have a good amount of room to play with POV and what sorts of information you give us there. At the very least it might begin to establish a sense of urgency. So far we're mostly getting personality pieces as the characters are led on a quest that is guided by curiosity and a taint of the supernatural. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but it occurs to me that so far we have characters who are mostly interested in personal gain (money / treasure / escape from boredom), with some nice backstory and character development here and there. Maybe a little taste of possible higher stakes might provide that extra push for the reader to keep reading. I'm not suggesting a, "these rogues save the world!" sort of scenario, but just some little morsel the reader can have that one or more of the character's may not be aware of. I guess it depends on how much you want the reader to know over your protagonists.
Thanks Nayrb. In what sense do you feel Jenandra is predictable? Do you mean like her actions and decisions, or that she is a stereotypical elf or something?

As for higher stakes, there is of course something going on that's far bigger than what any of the characters (even Jen) realizes. At first I wanted to write something very down-to-earth but I quickly found it's really damn hard telling an engaging story about treasure hunting and dungeon crawling. So the attack on the Sacred Glade is really the first in a chain of events leading up to something that is potentially world-altering. Maybe I need to foreshadow this earlier in the book, or as mentioned insert some chapters from the antagonist's POV.

But yes, Rynn and Jedd in particular are very much driven by personal gain. They're not supposed to be "heroes". Olvan has slightly other motivations but they're also mostly personal (we'll get some more of his backstory in chapter 6). Baylon is less selfish but considers himself pretty much insignificant in the grand scheme of things. This poses a problem, namely that when the characters are drawn into this chain of events they're not going to want to have anything to do with it. Something needs to happen that changes their priorities quite radically, something that makes it personal. And I know just what.

On a completely unrelated note, I just realized that I need to make a change in chapter 5. When Jen says "don't call me that", she should actually say it in the Janessi tongue. Then Baylon repeats the words later and asks her what they mean. Baylon having a good ear for languages is going to play a small part later on and I feel silly for not spotting such an obvious place to establish it.
I'm finding more and more that backstory and exposition is damn difficult to do right. It always bothers me in books when things like that pop up in the most inappropriate places, like when a character is in the middle of a dialog and suddenly starts thinking about his/her childhood or whatever -- you're talking to someone, pay attention! Or when someone decides to deliver a three-page lecture on historical events while s/he and the other characters are standing in a forest at 3 in the morning during a heavy rainfall. I understand that sometimes more detailed exposition is necessary but you really have to pick your moments carefully, or your characters will seem like complete nutjobs. I'm trying to avoid falling into this trap as much as I can which may result in there being maybe too little information about some of the characters. I might have to go back and amend that eventually.
(10-28-2018, 09:51 AM)Mattias Westlund Wrote: [ -> ]Thanks Nayrb. In what sense do you feel Jenandra is predictable? Do you mean like her actions and decisions, or that she is a stereotypical elf or something?

Perhaps stereotypical? Or even both. But I'm not too concerned about it because it's all only just beginning. You'll probably want to keep moving forward with her development before you look back and see if there is anything you want to change in the current chapters. At this point I just mean that I kind of knew she was going to kick those bandits' asses, but what I think is most effective about that part is Baylon's reaction to it and the subsequent events.

maybe you could consider making her even more haughty or seemingly cold and inhuman in some of her interactions with Baylon than she has already been. The end of chapter 5 is pretty poignant because you have Baylon attempting to offer some very human empathy which Jen has a hard time accepting, and when she does it's both a positive growth experience for her and a shock for Baylon as he smells that scent of death. Lots of big things going on there for both characters that I'm sure will be building up to something.

Don't hesitate to mediate on what makes William's Sithi so effective. When one displays empathy or even just sympathy for a human it's against that backdrop of what is largely a culture-wide coldness toward humans in general. It sets them apart as outsiders among their own kind. So is Jen aloof because she is royalty or because she is Janessi? Or both?

As for higher stakes, I don't mean that you have to unveil the complete conflict immediately. I like that the characters are not mighty world saving warriors and such and it's as important to appropriately parse out information to them as it is to the reader. But a little taste for the reader of what's going on elsewhere a little earlier may not be a bad idea. Remember you can cut to a POV that is completely impersonal and even out of sequence in terms of timeline if you need to. You can give us a shot of something happening in the Glade--the attack, the aftermath, etc. The reader will have a little nugget of info that nobody else has except maybe Jen, but they can't be sure. Again, think about Tad and how his books include a ton of characters and arcs. We as readers often end up knowing a little more about everything than each character does individually. POV is your friend, and as I've discovered, it's a pretty broad spectrum.
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