Comments/Suggestions

If you have taken a minute to read through my prologue and first chapter, please take just one more to let me know what you think. Good or bad! That is one of the perks of being able to comment anonymously. =)

9 Comments on "Comments/Suggestions"

  1. Rich Summers
    28/09/2010 at 8:55 pm Permalink

    Looks like I put my prologue comments in the wrong spot. As for chapter 1 the description of the three children going to eat breakfast who stopped until the end of the chapter was fascinating. Did I miss what a dulais is? Why is it always in italics?

  2. shannon
    28/09/2010 at 11:06 pm Permalink

    The dulais is touched on slightly in the prologue – Mira’s father says a little blip about it in his bedtime story. It is explained a lot more throughout the book, but you’ll have to take my word on that. =) I keep it in italics mostly to make it stand out. It is a mystical kind of power that the Oshyianans have, and I want the reader to get a feeling of that mysticism from the word itself – almost as if it should be whispered. So here’s my question: is the italics distracting? And did the little you knew about the dulais take away from the story itself, or make you curious enough to keep reading? Thanks so much for your comments!

  3. Kim Gishi
    03/10/2010 at 8:46 pm Permalink

    So I left a comment about the dulais in the prologue section, that I didn’t understand what it was either, then I read this. In my opinion, it seems like an important part of their society, so it left me a little confused that you wouldn’t explain what it was and why it was so important. At the same time, because it’s in italics, it makes me think that maybe it’s just in another language and something I don’t really need to necessarily worry about right now. If you can, maybe add a little more about it when Da talks about it in the beginning but if it’s something that you’re going to focus on later in the book, still make sure you’re not giving everything away. Depending on what exactly it is and how it pertains to the story line, I don’t know if that’s even possible.

  4. shannon
    04/10/2010 at 3:08 am Permalink

    Thank you. Comments are so very helpful. For me, I know exactly what the dulais is, so I can easily forget that not everyone does.

  5. Andrew Smith
    15/10/2010 at 6:14 pm Permalink

    Hey Shannon, I really liked it. To be honest, I wasn’t fully expecting a fantasy type story. Didn’t know you were into that genre. What kinda stuff do you read/like? Authors? I’m always looking for new stuff to read…

    Anyway, I had to print off a copy of all of it to make notes and suggestions. I’ll put a few up here, but it would be way too long…maybe I could get your address and just mail it to you?

    So, I’ll start with likes.
    -I loved the Sea theme- connections to Poseidon as god of sea and horse were very interesting. I got Equain’s name right off, and wondered about it till it came out that he loves and works with horses. Are the other names derivative as well? couldn’t think of Daralian’s connection… (Oshyian = ocean, I see what you did there…sneeksy :D )

    -I thought you wrote the family interplays very well. The connection between husband and wife and their affection and respect for their children (and vice versa) came through wonderfully.

    -I liked the method for the requisite info dump in the prologue, the father relating history as a good night story worked well. As with most books in the genre, there was a rather steep learning curve. I’m down with that, but people not used to it can be a little thrown (see the other comments). Similarly, in chap 1, the info dump about the horse farm included some great clues to further elaborate on the culture/people, and was accomplished well with her thinking about it while exploring it while having been gone for a while.

    Ok, here we get to a few suggestions (as always, they are suggestions, it’s your work, you can do it how you wish ;) )

    Prologue

    -It seemed kinda long to me for a prologue. I thought that the changes in POV were also kind of jarring. They definitely need more spacing or indication of change between them, not just a new paragraph. If I were to do it, I would probably try to keep it all within one person’s perspective. Probably Equain’s. With his good attachment to his wife, he could easily read her thoughts and express everything she thinks about, while at the same time covering a lot of the same things Mira thinks about later while he tells the story. Also, I would probably shorten it a little by having him mentally plan for the meeting in the kitchen, and maybe not go there on screen…
    Having said that, I really loved Mira’s thoughts as a small child of 5, and I’m hesitant to advise you to cut them. Some of the writing really captured the innocence of youth while also informing the reader, who is older, about exactly what went on. Giving hints that the reader can…read into…is a great way to draw them in, but doing it while also expressing it through the view of a child is brilliant.

    -Equain’s story could have the language tightened up a bit. It reads like a rambly conversation, not exactly like a bedtime story that he has told many times. The descriptions could be tighter, sometimes I found it hard to picture exactly what he was describing…might just be me though.

    As I said, I liked the cultural overlay of the people. I think you could strengthen this a lot by perhaps exploring it a little more and inviting the reader even further in by good word choice, idioms, etc. It will make the world seem more real and cohesive. For instance, the culture is highly connected to the sea, but what exactly is the connection though- are they fisherman? do they swim? does their physiology require them to give birth in salt water? All these “worldbuilding” will contribute greatly to the characters and how they see the world. So, would Daralian refer to her little precocious and adventurous child as a “monkey,” or would it be better to have her use a term/description connected to the sea? dolphin? seal? penguin? seamonkey? you could make up something unique to the world also if you describe/name it well enough for the reader to get the point/comparison. As for idioms, “old habits die hard” is very much associated with our world, and using it might throw readers out of the narrative. Could you come up with an idiom that means the same thing, but uses imagery more closely suited to the culture? Similar things could be used in the speech patterns and dialogue, such as oaths, curses, interjections, etc.

    Chapter 1
    Again, I liked the family dynamic here. One thing of concern- if they have so many hired hands, who are they? are they important? Would there be one or two that are specifically close to the family and important in the narrative?
    Also, I thought that the dialogue between Mira and her brothers wasn’t “chummy” enough for loving siblings. Unless it was supposed to be mockingly formal, in which case a little more indication of that being the way of their relationship could help. My bigger problem though with the dialogue was how childish it seemed. If I’ve read correctly, Mira, the youngest is 21 with 3 years of army service behind her. Her brothers are all older, also army veterans. They seemed to talk like teenagers, not adults with military experience and possible battles under their belts (it seemed like there was constant warfare going on…). I think it’s great that they are still loving and it speaks a lot of their parents that even with this background they aren’t harsh and/or bitter, but their experience should probably inform their speech a little more. Just an thought.

    The last thought that I’ll post here (I do have more, but this is getting to be a novel as it is…) is about the dulais. I liked how it was referenced and sort of explained without giving too much away. But it left me wondering what its point was: is it simply a cultural characteristic of the people? or is it an actual power/magic that can have drastic effects? I thought the battle scene would have been a great chance to showcase some of its potential, and give the reader a taste/teaser about what Mira will learn to do by the end.
    It could also be used as the reason that a bunch of army retirees and one family could combat and hold off a horde of invaders armed and armored…

    Anyway, as I said above, I really liked it and think it has great potential. Keep up the good work, I would love to see more.

  6. Andrew Smith
    15/10/2010 at 6:15 pm Permalink

    oops, sorry, looks like i forgot to turn off bold in my comment above… :{

  7. shannon
    16/10/2010 at 1:41 am Permalink

    Thanks so much! Lots of things to think about – I appreciate the feedback! I had my sister read through my first draft and she marked all the cliche’s I’d put in (it was pretty bad!), so I’m glad I only had one left in there that was noticeable. Also, with the point of view changes…let’s just say I’m learning a lot about the rules of writing that I didn’t ever think about before. I think I changed point of view every other sentence on my first draft. =) Still working on that! I’m so glad you caught the reference to Equain’s name! Daralian is one of the few in the book that doesn’t really have a meaning, but Equain was definitely on purpose. As far as the staff at their home goes…I chose not to bring in anyone specific there because they wouldn’t be in the rest of the book anyways. I have so many other characters, I didn’t want to bring in a fluff one. Does there need to be another connection there other than familial? I can definitely bring one in, but in all honestly, they will probably die by the end of chapter one. =) Ok, I’m not going to comment on everything, because there’s lots…which I’m so grateful for! Like I said – lots to think about.

    For everyone that has made comments/suggestions: Don’t think I’m ignoring you! I just made an executive decision that I’m going to finish the darn thing first, and then go back to revise and edit. Otherwise I don’t think I’ll ever get done! But, I am so appreciative of everyone that had taken the time to read it. All the comments have been so helpful! Keep them coming!

  8. Andrew Smith
    19/10/2010 at 3:24 am Permalink

    As for the workers, it might be nice for at least a token conversation- perhaps Mira says hi to one she’s known since childhood when she goes to see Phiero or something. It wouldn’t have to be something huge, but it would at the very least make it less weird that there are lots of them around, but not one ever seen on screen, and perhaps it would also round out the world, give some depth to the story and add to the grief/anguish that will definitely set in when she realizes that not only did her father die, but also a lot of others that were close… Dunno, that’s just my feeling.

    Anyway, mailed off all my other thoughts today…

  9. shannon
    19/10/2010 at 8:10 pm Permalink

    Can’t wait to read through them!

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