A thread for sharing, critiquing, tips on publishing, etc.

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« on: June 02, 2013, 12:59:07 am »
Quote from: Francis Buck
Figured I'd start one up here. It seems there are several people here from Westeros.org, a few of which I'm quite sure are aspiring writers. Since this forum is fairly new and still somewhat small, I think it'd be a good place for a consistent group to share and critique each other's work, be it a small segment, chapter-by-chapter, or a whole story.

I'm currently working on a short fantasy story for a contest, due June 30th. The only requirements are that it's fantasy, and less than 8,000 words (that last one's a stickler for me, as I don't really like writing short stories to begin with, and 8,000 words is pretty damn tiny as far as I'm concerned, but then I view it as a challenge and something to expand my skill-set). Six people get published, and top three win cash prizes. This is the contest, if anyone's interested: http://fantasywritingcontest.com/.

As soon as I submit this short story, I'm going to begin work on my second novel(s), a two-part fantasy epic called Kingdom of Woe and Kingdom of the Dead, respectively. I'd also like to discuss world-building with people, which for me is pretty much the main reason I write fantasy in the first place (mostly everything else I do is realistic modern-day fiction, usually in a vague sort of crime-genre). What resources do you use for world-building? How closely do you adhere to real life? How does magic work? What are the races like? That kind of thing.

What Came Before

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« Reply #1 on: June 02, 2013, 12:59:16 am »
Quote from: Madness
You've inspired me, sir. Thank you.

What Came Before

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« Reply #2 on: June 02, 2013, 12:59:38 am »
Quote from: sciborg2
As always, I must drag down the conversation with an insipid request. If people email sciborg2 (at) gmail.com, I want some critiques for a bit of erotica I wrote to put my money where my mocking mouth was.

Also, here's my ongoing sample of Planescape fan fiction:

http://www.planewalker.com/forum/day-life-planars

eta: Criticism over there or here more than welcome by the way!

Trying to write something original now, we'll see how that goes.

eta ii: feel free to email pieces you want critique. I can't promise fast (or helpful) turn around but I do attempt to respond when people send stuff.

What Came Before

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« Reply #3 on: June 02, 2013, 12:59:46 am »
Quote from: Francis Buck
Quote from: Madness
You've inspired me, sir. Thank you.


Glad I could be of service, lol. Do you write often?

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« Reply #4 on: June 02, 2013, 12:59:53 am »
Quote from: Madness
Yeah, I try and write a little bit everyday. I have some ongoing projects, including one major one with some 100, 000 words to it, and many, many attempts at short fiction - only because I think that is the masterwork of all writing.

But what I meant was that you've inspired me to post an excerpt and incite criticism :).

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« Reply #5 on: June 02, 2013, 12:59:59 am »
Quote from: sciborg2
Quote
But what I meant was that you've inspired me to post an excerpt and incite criticism :).

Just keep in mind that anything you want published should be sent through private exchange, and probably even then have a copyrighted disclaimer (never know when people get into others' emails, even Gmail has been hacked).

All that said, feel free to email anything and everything.

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« Reply #6 on: June 02, 2013, 01:00:05 am »
Quote from: Madness
We should look into this because I've read varying degrees of legislation regarding posting stuff you intend to publish. In many cases, publishing houses have different rules and the intellectual property rights differ between countries.

Thankfully, though, a teacher once told me to spend time writing paragraphs while trying to do one thing - I have many such paragraphs. It might be neat to make a weekly thread and each attempt some writings.

I was initially thinking about posting some of these. But I appreciate your concern, sciborg.

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« Reply #7 on: June 02, 2013, 01:00:12 am »
Quote from: sciborg2
I think there are exceptions, for example writers posting works on their own blogs -> I'm assuming Roger posting a draft on Bakker's blog doesn't count as having the work "published" in a legal sense.

I've worked on the actual craft of writing through a lot of shared world stuff, to see what people thought of my abilities. Any stuff I actually dream of seeing published is done via email exchanges.

I like the paragraph idea.

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« Reply #8 on: June 02, 2013, 01:00:18 am »
Quote from: Francis Buck
Alright I'm going to throw something up here. This was the short story I had started to work on just before I began the contest (this one would have been almost certainly more than 8,000 words, which is why I stopped). It takes place in the same universe that Kingdom of Woe and Kingdom of the Dead will, and the main character, Kai-Vu-Lang, will be a supporting character in both of them (he's a sort of pseudo-assassin/detective called a Martyr, from an order called The Cognate...in the series proper he's something along the lines of a fantasy Boba-Fett). This is just the very opening.

EDIT: Damn, I can't seem to get the formatting to work right. It's still more or less readable, I think. 

--------------------------

The ship rumbled with every spiteful wave crashing upon her hull, and Kai-Vu-Lang found that the ocean bore a resemblance far too similar to the state of his own bowels. Twice that day he had stumbled from the captain's cabin to go up-deck and vomit over the rail, wretching so violently that his throat burned with bile and the base of his groin ached. None of the ship's crew had acknowledged his presence whatsoever; it was as if he didn't even exist, and although officially the boat was meant for salt trade, everyone knew what its most valuable cargo was: him.
   It was just barely dawn.
   The ship herself -- an ugly old galleon named the Fat Dog -- seemed a lone stalwart set upon the vast and chilly gloom of the sea, the sky a dull iron plate except for where the sun's yawning tendrils scorched the horizon. Vu-Lang gazed outwards, sweating and teary-eyed from his exertion. The taste of acid on his tongue. The stench of sea salt in his nose. He needed some harmony.
   Descending back to the cabin, Kai promptly collapsed onto the itchy straw mattress. He laid there a while, his head spinning from the monotonous sway of the ship. Then he reached out to the small woven satchel at his bedside, rummaging around inside it until he produced a tiny glass flask...a flask containing the very substance that had enthralled him for the past six years of his life: a liquid narcotic, cultivated from the tiny red flower that sprouts atop the bineshi cactus. In Phelindé they called it "harmony", for when ingested it seems to put one at peace with things both inner and outer. Mind and body, merged as one, with the spirit left to whimper and decay somewhere inbetween. The only downside was its terribly addictive quality; the withdrawl symptoms were legendary in their horror. You can't spell harmony without harm, he thought to himself before removing the cork and taking only the tiniest of sips, barely a drop on his tongue. That's all that was needed for it to take effect, and drinking too much could result in a rather prolonged and uncomfortable death. The taste itself was subtle, bitter like the leaf of a tree not meant to be eaten. He put the flask back into his satchel and then sprawled out on the bed, shivering as the drug's strange, cooling plasma bloomed in his fingers and toes before lazily oozing up through his limbs and finally settling in what seemed the absolute core of his being.
   He'd just began to doze when there was a knock on the cabin door. Half-asleep, Kai grunted compliance and the door creaked open to reveal the ship's elderly, wild-haired captain, his skin brown and leathery from decades spent beneath the sun's oppression. He stood at the door uneasily, hands wringing and head down so that he seemed to be staring at a spot on the wooden floor, apparently at a loss for words. Indeed, from the moment Vu-Lang stepped onto the ship he had shared less than maybe ten words with the captain, and even fewer with the crew. They were terrified of him, despite the fact that they've almost certaintly had Martyrs onboard before. It was, after-all, common practice for the Cognate to hire trade vessels as transportation for their assassins, generously paying both captain and crew to ensure discretion...though to be honest, Vu-Lang suspected the mere threat of a silent death was probably assurance enough.
   Even now, the captain was diligently avoiding eye-contact, as though at any moment Vu-Lang might reach out and pluck one of them from their socket. He yawned and sat up on the mattress, rubbing his bald head before saying:
   "Speak at will, captain."
   The man twitched, as though startled, like he'd forgotten that he was actually in the room with someone. When he still failed to find his voice, Kai continued:
   "Is there some pressing matter you've come to inform me of, captain? Or were you merely struck with a sensation of hospitality, and thus came scurrying into my -- well, your quarters -- with the hope of somehow further enhancing my level of comfort?"
   The captain shuddered, his eyes darting everywhere that Kai wasn't.
   "I...well...are you comfortable? I swear upon my children, I shall do anything in my power to see that your journey is as pleasurable as possible. Perhaps...perhaps a better pillow? Oh, we don't really have any better pillows. A bowl of strongwine, maybe? Yes, good strongwine! I'll get the men to bring up our finest cask at once!".
   "That won't be necessary, captain. You've already sacrificed your own cabin for my personal use, though I will admit my stomach seems to lack the resilience for seafaring that it once did. Is there news that I should be aware of?"
   "Ah yes, indeed, I...I only hazarded to intrude upon your well-deserved solace because I thought you'd like to know that our destination grows near. Very near. Lennith breaks the horizon as we speak. We should arrive at Empire Port by nightfall."
   The great nation of Lennith. Kai had never been further east than he was at this very moment, and he wondered if the strange feeling in his gut could be excitement, or just a combination of sea-sickness and narcotics.
   "Very well captain, thank you."
   For a moment the captain was motionless, but then he hastily bowed, grinning with an enthusiasm that would be more appropriate for a man who had just narrowly dodged an incoming spear, rather than relay a simple piece of information. He was exiting through the cabin door when Vu-Lang said:
   "On second thought, I think will have a bowl of that strongwine. And it need not be your finest cask -- I'm sure to wretch it up before we make landfall."

What Came Before

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« Reply #9 on: June 02, 2013, 01:00:25 am »
Quote from: sciborg2
The ship rumbled with every spiteful wave crashing upon her hull, and Kai-Vu-Lang found that the ocean bore a resemblance far too similar to the state of his own bowels. Twice that day he had stumbled from the captain's cabin to go up-deck and vomit over the rail, wretching so violently that his throat burned with bile and the base of his groin ached. None of the ship's crew had acknowledged his presence whatsoever; it was as if he didn't even exist, and although officially the boat was meant for salt trade, everyone knew what its most valuable cargo was: him.

First off, wretching should retching.

1) You may want to say stomach instead of bowels, I was a bit confused by this beginning part. Also not sure if rumbled is the right verb there.

2) The last sentence has too many events happening, I'd split it into pieces.

3) This paragraph seems like an opportunity [for] wry commentary, juxtaposing the assassin's rep with the fact that, well, he seems to have a very weak stomach for sailing.

Will comment more later.

eta: changed "on" to "for"

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« Reply #10 on: June 02, 2013, 01:00:33 am »
Quote from: Curethan
I agree with sciborg2's comments and...

I'll pitch in with some random editorial comments of my own.  (not absolutes, just suggestions informed by my likes and opinions)
Commas and conjunctions should not be in the same place.
Your sentence and paragraph structure needs work. 
Try and keep sentences to similar length, it helps control pace.
Paragraphs should likewise control the pacing, try thinking of them in visual terms - as encapsulated by a camera shot, action scene or linked sequence of actions.
Thus the longest paragraphs should be internalizations; descriptive reflections and edifying remembrances.

Further, I might suggest reading the dialogue aloud to yourself to see if your characters' intended tone is conveyed by the rythym of what they are saying.

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« Reply #11 on: June 02, 2013, 01:00:39 am »
Quote from: Camlost
Good stuff. Props on being the first to post.

the captain was diligently avoiding eye-contact, as though at any moment Vu-Lang might reach out and pluck one of them from their socket.
I'm no grammar expert so I could be wrong, but this sentence struck me on my read through. I believe because you're talking about a single eye that their should be it's

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« Reply #12 on: June 02, 2013, 01:00:46 am »
Quote from: Francis Buck
Hey thanks the replies guys, always good to get outsider opinions even if it's on something simple.

Quote from: Camlost
Good stuff. Props on being the first to post.

the captain was diligently avoiding eye-contact, as though at any moment Vu-Lang might reach out and pluck one of them from their socket.
I'm no grammar expert so I could be wrong, but this sentence struck me on my read through. I believe because you're talking about a single eye that their should be it's

I think you're right. That sentence gave me trouble actually, but I liked the idea of it so I wanted to make it work.

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« Reply #13 on: June 02, 2013, 01:00:54 am »
Quote from: Garet Jax
My brother and I were having fun with starting a fantasy book/series.  We spent about a year or two building characters and cultivating our world.  He was really into the maps and adding in details (strategy and better descriptions) about some of our battle scenes.  I spent most of my time lost in the void of trying to define the "hard magic" we were going to work with.  It was a blast... 

It all came crashing down late one night while we were deep in the mind of "Killian", the darker of our duo of main characters.  My brother-in-law, who was just recently introduced to fantasy, called me from Hawaii and asked if I read a certain book. I told him that I had not read this mystery book.  He then proceeded to tell me about how awesome the story my brother and I were writing and he wanted us to read it...

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« Reply #14 on: June 02, 2013, 01:01:01 am »
Quote from: Madness
I hope you didn't give up on writing, Garet.