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I've read tons of fantasy but never any of Hobb's books, though I've heard good things about them. I have to say however that I'm not a big fan of first person perspectives in fantasy literature. It's a style of storytelling that I can't help but associate with hardboiled detective novels for some reason, but maybe that's all just in my head.

A "crazy encyclopedia" reminded me of Douglas Adam's The Meaning of Liff. Check it out if you haven't, it's glorious Smile
(11-08-2018, 05:27 PM)Terry93D Wrote: [ -> ]Unpopular writing opinion: unique, characteristic prose, dare I say purple prose, is much more interesting to read than spartan prose. Certainly, every word should have some sort of purpose, but that purpose can be just as much stylistic as substantial. God knows I enjoyed Paul Auster's 4 3 2 1 quite a bit and there's absolutely no way it could ever be considered "spartan" in its prose. Sprawling, a little messy, occasionally repetitive, long-winded, a little bit verbose - and I loved very word of it. But I also adore Daniel Abraham's prose, which is a touch more minimalist. Sparse, often beautiful, lyrical, poetic, and with a stunning ability to conjure a living character in just a few sentences. (Abraham is to characterization as Sanderson is to worldbuilding.) China Mieville's prose is purple-as-all-get-out (pardon my language) but, in his words, it is a stylistic choice. H.P. Lovecraft is not considered a particularly brilliant prose-writer, but if his prose was more spartan, more minimalist, how much of the unique atmosphere and tone and horror of his stories would be lost? So much of that atmosphere is reliant on the poetry, the archaisms, of his words and the way he puts them together.

In the end, it's up to the writer to find their voice (or voices), however they may sound, however sparse or verbose they may be. I just finished the first draft of a novelette and it's almost 15k words long and probably shows a bit too much Auster and Caro (Robert Caro, whose lengthiness in his writing lead to Princeton's English department establishing a maximum length for senior theses) influence in the way it's written. For the story that I'm telling, it works very well, but were to try that voice out on, say, "Ants Discover Fire," it'd just fall apart completely. Writing a lot and reading a lot and being exposed to a wide variety of different voices and trying out a wide variety of voices and you'll develop your own, syncretizing everything you liked and everything you'd want to get out of prose, and even if you take different approaches to different stories, your prose will still be uniquely yours.

I mean, no one will ever agree on what's crap. But one thing is for sure - I don't want my prose sounding like any generic author.

I definitely agree with a lot of this, even though I'm unfamiliar with some of the authors you mention. Spartan prose is less interesting than purple prose and much more dependant on the plot. Whereas a wordy piece of literature can be an interesting read even if the plot isn't great. I'm always impressed with authors that have an ability to convey a wealth of information with few words -- just like you say about Daniel Abraham above. Katherine Kerr whom I mentioned earlier in this thread definitely has that knack, and her writing is straightforward without ever feeling sparse. But not everyone writing in a more spartan style has that ability, resulting in a very choppy and dull reading experience. Again, this is something I associate with crime/detective novels.

Too much of the opposite isn't good either, of course. Lovecraft is tiring to read, though I do agree that the dread of his stories would be much diminsihed without the archaic and poetic bits. I think Tolkien also falls into the same category. He was a brilliant worldbuilder but his prose is very roundabout and bogged down in unimportant details (like, how many times is it interesting to read about what the landscape looks like and what Frodo and Sam ate?)

Again I must mention my favorite fantasy writer of all time: Tad Williams. His writing has elements of both the spartan and the flowery style, but his ability to achieve a good balance between the two is what makes him stand out IMO.
I must add (so no one thinks all I've ever read is fantasy) that one of my other big heroes is Robert Harris. He's something of a chameleon, adjusting his prose to fit in with the subject matter at hand. A book about WWII England like Enigma has a very different narrative style compared to Lustrum that is set in ancient Rome, or the contemporary The Ghost. And yet his books always feel like Robert Harris. That's very impressive as well.
Thoughts on Chapter 1.

Like the start with the strange lady who becomes even more mysterious throughout the chapter.

Love your descriptions. You can paint a good picture with only a few words. Pages of description drive me nuts. These are good and crisp. I could maybe do with a touch more about the world, though maybe not. Maybe it is meant to unfold as I go along. So far it seems a bit generic fantasy world to me. Maybe I put too much stock in world building in fantasy.

Like the old guy who was overhearing and turns into a minor character. Nice touch.

Lots of good word images and wordplay and such. For a non-primary English writer you do a good job of picking words.

Sometimes things seem too sudden without enough transition. The travel between the starting location and the town and then the town and the bigger town / city felt kind of like teleportation with no time in between.

I don't know if this is the feedback you want? Anyway I'm liking it. You have significant talent in my humble opinion.

Thoughts on Chapter 2.

I was surprised by the shift in character and scene. Maybe you should headline the chapter with the name of the main character for that chapter like Martin does in Game of Thrones if you are going to shift characters in every chapter? Or maybe not I suspect you are full of surprises. They could all be meeting up to form a big party that will be traced more lineally.

Good character introduction for the bard. You get a solid idea of who he is quickly.

Nice intro of the druid elf or whatever she is. Liked the owl.

Again things seem maybe a bit sudden, such as the attack seeming to take a couple dozen words, but maybe that is a stylistic approach. I like your descriptions which seem rarer in this chapter, but maybe the landscape isn't too important yet.

The ending conversation seems a bit shallow and makes the bard a bit dumb. He seems like a pretty sharp and educated guy earlier and it seems odd that he has to get her to summarize her legends and abilities as 'magic' as the only way he can understand. I'd like a bit more depth about her she seems interesting. She seems very mysterious but maybe that is better and she will be explained later.

Thoughts on Chapter 3.

I like this quasi-comedic duo. They seem to play well off of each other.

Nice intro to them in a tree and somewhat annoyed. Good action sequence with some comedy to get them out of it.

I felt cheated that you raise my hopes for a crazy ride through the rapids and them they just show up on the bank hours later.

Like the plague village. Makes me wonder what the plague was and the history of the place, makes it feel real. Liked the howlers, they are more interesting than standard zombies that everyone uses.

Your use of the swamp first coming across in in the dark and then using it to escape with more details by day was quite inspired. The swamp felt real.
Thanks! That's some great feedback. I need to head off to bed in a moment so I can't comment very in depth, but I should mention that I very much agree with your points regarding the first two chapters. Some parts do feel clunky, which is due to them being written while the idea wasn't still fully formed in my mind, and the world was extremely sketchy. I regularly go back and tweak things here and there, adding in little details and changing things that feel off, but a lot of work still remains.
Hey hope you had a good sleep.

Thoughts on Chapter 4.

Maybe change Baral to another name? I got him confused with Baylon the Bard and that messed with my head.

This is starting to feel like an overly large cast of characters, but hey Martin has hundreds. I don't know if they can be spread out a bit more, maybe spend more time with one character or set of characters before moving on to other or a bit more description about them to make them more memorable? Though you did that pretty well anyway. I dunno it is probably just my limitiations as a read but I'm losing track of them. I get characters confused in books anyway especially with fantasy names.

Might be a dumb idea, but the bounty on Rynn's head and her enemy guy seemed kind of sudden. Could you sort of prefigure that in chapter one so it feels like a teaser and a payoff?

I like that they finally all come together in a nice cavalry rides in to save the day scene. They seem like a group now. It reminds me of the D&D Dragons series by Hicks and Weisman? which I really enjoyed. Shoot now i want to read that again.

Thoughts on rating. It feels basically G rated with about ten words thrown in to make it R.

Good descriptions as usual. Well placed words and phrases that made me smile in appreciation.

Thoughts on Chapter 5

And here we get some of that mature stuff with the killings. It works well after the 'good' party letting the bad guys go to get what feels like a morally ambivalent character letting some bandits have it. It makes her character more complex.

I like the relationship with the bard and the elf's mysteriousness. I don't know what is going to happen when she catches up with our hero party.

A bit of downtime seemed to work here as it seemed like we were getting a lot of attacks recently and it felt kind of like a highlight reel.

Thoughts on the whole so far.

I think you are onto something good here. What do you have 30,000 words so far. Keep it up and likely ignore much of what I've complained about. You have a unique style that in this faster world of shorter ebooks and other things might work very well indeed. I tend to think of long classic fantasy works that are likely overwritten. This is maybe a bit under written and jumps a bit, but that might actually be better in the modern and future world of writing.

Your wording and descriptions are a real strength. I don't see any problem with your English since I know you mention that as a worry. There are a few places where it is idiosyncratic but honestly I think it works especially in the context of a fantasy world.
(11-08-2018, 05:27 PM)Terry93D Wrote: [ -> ]H.P. Lovecraft is not considered a particularly brilliant prose-writer, but if his prose was more spartan, more minimalist, how much of the unique atmosphere and tone and horror of his stories would be lost? So much of that atmosphere is reliant on the poetry, the archaisms, of his words and the way he puts them together.

I have to add here that when Lovecraft is really on his game he really nails it. Some of his stuff is just spectacular. I think one of his issues is that he wrote for the Pulps, which while proving to be the starting point for many a great writer in one way or another, were, after all, a platform rife with schlock. Perhaps he had to really dumb it down sometimes, because there are some examples of him simply missing the mark altogether. Much as I love the guy there are certainly times when I'm just chuckling and shaking my head as I read some of his stories.

Another of his issues is that, perhaps for marketing purposes, publishers have largely overlooked or tried to re-brand his lighter or more fantasy-oriented stories. One of my favorite Lovecraft collections is the Del-Rey paperback of The Dream-quest of Unknown Kadath, which is a really well selected and edited collection of loosely connected "Dunsanian" fantasies. It has an unfittingly gruesome dark cover with some sort of tree with eyes on it that really doesn't fit the overall vibe of the book at all, even with all the darker elements of the stories. And the blurbs are all about how horrifying and blood-curdling tales like "The White Ship" and "The Strange High House in the Mist" supposedly are.

Sometimes I think his best writing was done in some of his most unpopular stories.

(11-10-2018, 01:18 AM)Mattias Westlund Wrote: [ -> ]Again I must mention my favorite fantasy writer of all time: Tad Williams. His writing has elements of both the spartan and the flowery style, but his ability to achieve a good balance between the two is what makes him stand out IMO.

I'm sure I've said it before, but one of Tad's many, many strengths is that he is simply one of the best character writers in all fantasy-dom (and beyond, really). He gives us a lot of his world through his character's eyes which is one way an author can appeal and connect to the reader, by simultaneously developing his characters, showing us the world in which they live, and finding ways to (hopefully) link them all to the reader's own sensibilities.
(11-12-2018, 10:15 PM)bigcat1969 Wrote: [ -> ]It reminds me of the D&D Dragons series by Hicks and Weisman? which I really enjoyed. Shoot now i want to read that again.

If you're referring to the Dragonlance Chronicles, then well spotted! Those were definitely an inspiration even though it's been like 25 years since I read them. I have very fond memories of those books, in particular the parts that were outright based on role playing sessions. Fantasy novels often have a tendendcy towards the formulaic, so having situations that unfold in completely unexpected and sometimes even weird ways is really refreshing IMO. I wanted to convey the same feeling, that these are actually people and not just constructs designed to forward the plot. And people say and do stupid things and make odd choices.

You also mentioned that the fantasy world feels generic, and it is in many ways. This is probably going to sound like an excuse for laziness and lack of imagination, but that is actually intentional. As mentioned early in this thread I'm going for something with an oldschool vibe, something reminiscent of the role playing campaigns and gamebooks of my teens. Also, it is my highly subjective opinion that fantasy is a genre that benefits from a healthy dose of clichés, and shying away from them often feels forced. No matter how good and honest the author's intentions and how well s/he builds the world, radically changing longstanding conventions is going to feel like "oh now you're just trying to be different". But again, that's just my opinion and I know many fans of the genre will likely disagree with me.

(11-12-2018, 10:15 PM)bigcat1969 Wrote: [ -> ]Thoughts on rating. It feels basically G rated with about ten words thrown in to make it R.

I haven't really thought about it in terms of 'rating', and I suppose the F and C words could more or less easily be replaced with less offensive expletives. But while I don't want the book to read like a Tarantino script, I also feel that foul language is actually motivated sometimes as it tells you something about the characters in question. Especially if you keep the cursing somewhat limited and just add it in here and there to drive home the point that s/he is really upset right now. Or maybe it just looks out of place, I don't know.

(11-12-2018, 10:15 PM)bigcat1969 Wrote: [ -> ]You have a unique style that in this faster world of shorter ebooks and other things might work very well indeed. I tend to think of long classic fantasy works that are likely overwritten. This is maybe a bit under written and jumps a bit, but that might actually be better in the modern and future world of writing.

The thing is, I could go into more detail in many situations, but that would also entail having to be consistent across the board. And right now I want to keep the momentum going--both in terms of the story itself and the actual process of writing it--so I've stuck to keeping things short and sweet. Because it's much easier to go back to elaborate on things that feel to brief or too sketchy than thinning out tons of overly verbose text.

(11-13-2018, 01:15 AM)Nayrb Wrote: [ -> ]I'm sure I've said it before, but one of Tad's many, many strengths is that he is simply one of the best character writers in all fantasy-dom (and beyond, really). He gives us a lot of his world through his character's eyes which is one way an author can appeal and connect to the reader, by simultaneously developing his characters, showing us the world in which they live, and finding ways to (hopefully) link them all to the reader's own sensibilities.

That is very true even though I think he has a tendency of overdoing it sometimes, with these long internal monologues and characters taking time to reflect on things even though doing so doesn't (IMO) make sense in the situation they're in. Admittedly it was more of a problem in Memory, Sorrow and Thorn than in his later books.
(11-12-2018, 10:15 PM)bigcat1969 Wrote: [ -> ]What do you have 30,000 words so far.

I have large chunks of the later chapters written already so it's actually closer to 50,000 as of this writing.
Yeah Dragonlance Chronicles that was it. I had the trilogy in a really big collectors edition. I wonder if I still have it...

Nice on the 50K. I tend to write a couple thousand words and give up. Respect on keeping it going.
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