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  1. #1
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    Exert from Amethyst

    This is an exert from my fantasy/science fiction novel in progress, currently going by the name Amethyst. A set of new characters are introduced here, and I was just wanted to see what you all think of their entrance.



    “Hold my hand,” Pearl commanded. “It is a long way to Catan and I do not want you to become trapped in the wormhole.”

    “So that is what the void is? A wormhole?”

    Pearl nodded. “In a way. Wormholes move through the void. We see it as a great emptiness, but it is actually full of energy, forming a pathway to a distant place. The Catanese, being a much older race, are able see the energy in the wormhole. To them it is nearly blinding.”

    She smiled. “Don’t worry if it doesn’t make much sense, it took awhile for Rrkan to explain it to me, too.”

    “Rrkan?”

    “My husband. He stays out of the limelight, preferring to aid us from the background. Right now he’s in Luqundia working on our relations with their nobles. We need to get going. Take my hand.”

    Though she knew what to expect, Chemay tensed when she was drawn into the void. She tried to sense the energy in the darkness, but just as she began to feel it they left the void, coming out into the pale light of morning.

    Chemay gazed around her, eager for her first glimpse of Catan. Before her was a large grassy field, the far end occupied by large ruins. Behind her lay a dense jungle, the trees draped with vines as big around as her leg, and the air was extremely humid.

    “Welcome to Catan,” Pearl said, “land of the swamp-creatures.” She smiled. “By the way, did you know that Catanese build their houses underground? Kind of counter-intuitive if you ask me.”

    * * *

    “What in the world are you doing, you moron! You nearly squashed me!” Charise yelled at Dalta. A large pillar, made of marble and covered with elaborate carving, rested on the hem of her dress.

    “Are you alright?” Kane asked, his eyes wide with concern. “He didn’t mean to set the column down so close to you. Is there anything I can do to help you?”

    “I’m fine,” Charise said dryly. “Now, leave me alone before I blast you!”

    “Ok, you two, quit flirting,” Mara said, earning a glare from Charise. She stood at the foot of what had once been a beautiful building. Charise, Kane, Loeen, and Dalta had taken it upon themselves to finally restore the Ammaris temple, and so far they were doing well. As long as Mara was there to supervise.

    Suddenly, two people appeared at the edge of the clearing directly across from Mara. The sight of them distracted Kane and he dropped an arch that he was mentally holding above his head. The structure, carved out of a single piece of stone, fell and landed on its two ends, thankfully not breaking.

    “Careful of the stonework, Kane,” Pearl called as she approached.

    Chemay followed silently behind her, unsure of the people before her. Their skin was not blue-tinged and they had no tails. She knew that their blood was brown rather than blue, but it still looked odd. They were shorter than most Alumbian humans, and when she reached out cautiously with her mind she felt a different type of power than she felt from her own people.

    The leader, a woman with long black hair, was watching her. “So,” the woman said, not unkindly, “You’ve fallen in with them, have you? Good luck. Once you’re stuck with those weirdoes you can never escape.”

    “Chemay,” Pearl said, “this is Mara, the leader of the Ammaris. The Ammaris are the Catanese equivalent of the Protectors.”

    Mara snorted and smiled. “Shouldn’t you say that you are the Alumbian version of the Ammaris? After all, I am old enough to be one of your powerless ancestors.”

    “Yes, but if we’re not careful, we might not have the chance to grow older and argue about it.”

    Mara sighed. “Again?”

    Pearl nodded. “We should speak away from the others, I think.”

    “Of course,” Mara agreed. They walked toward the temple, leaving Chemay with the other Ammaris.

    “I’m Kane,” said the skinny guy Chemay had seen dropping an arch on his head. “So… um… where are you from?”

    “Don’t listen to him, he’s a moron,” said one of the two women. “I’m Loeen. Miss grumpy here is Charise, and the shy guy in the back is Dalta, our resident fortune teller.”

    “I’m Chemay.”

    “So,” Kane said, stepping closer to Chemay, “what brings a fine girl like you to this part of the world? Do you need any help finding your way around? I’m an excellent navigator.”

    “Kane,” Dalta said, surprising the others, “she is Pearl’s trainee. She’s off limits.”

    Kane rolled his eyes. “Whatever. Seriously, though,” he said to Chemay, “if you need any help, with anything, let me know.”

    Charise stepped forward, her hand swathed in flame. “Kane! Didn’t you hear Dalta? She’s off limits. Now back off! Remember what happened last time?”

    Sulkily Kane backed away and Charise put out the fire.



  2. #2
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    Okay, first you posted an excerpt not an exert.

    Second, this entire work consists of quotations back and forth and nothing else. Describe the scene. What do you hear, see, taste, touch and smell. (I'm especially sensitive to this problem because I have a tendency to do the same thing.)

    Third, you set up a lot of expectations that are never fulfilled.

    …For example, Pearl says it’s a long way to Catan but then they arrive almost immediately.
    …Or she says that it’s possible to be trapped, but you never explain how it’s possible to be trapped.
    …Or you never explain why being an older race would give the Catanese better eyesight.

    It seems to me that you’re so familiar with these concepts that you forget you’re going to have to explain them to your audience.

    Fourth, I’m having trouble putting my finger on the underlying problem. I feel like I’ve seen or read much of this scene somewhere before. One of your characters can move objects with his mind. This character is so common in fiction we even have a name for that ability “telekinesis.” Another of your characters is a fire user. The gaming system Dungeons and Dragons was built around characters that use fire. Your characters travel from world to world through a wormhole that is cut straight out of Stargate SG1. None of these ideas seem unique or original to you.

    The only advice I can give is that you must diligently try to create characters and circumstances that are uniquely your own. If you want to give your characters psychic powers then make those powers unique. Get a piece of paper and write down all kinds of abilities, the more and weirder the better. Write done anything that comes to your mind: the ability to shop at super speed, the ability to frighten small children, the ability to blow cosmic bubbles out your nose, or the ability to laugh in an octave no one can hear. By brainstorming, you will eventually find something that is uniquely yours and also worth writing about.

    I hope I was able to say something helpful, but I’m not sure that I did
    Last edited by Sam Fletcher; 03-03-2012 at 10:08 PM.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Lea Zalas's Avatar
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    Uh, Sam....those 'quotations' are actually 'dialogue.' Which IS wanted in writing.

    As for the uniqueness of characters, there's nothing wrong with what her characters can do, it's how defined the characters are (as well as their abilities) that will capture a reader's imagination. The abilities of the characters in Dungeons & Dragons and Star Trek aren't unique since they've been used over and over and over in all kinds of books and movies.

  4. #4
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    Yes, Sam, you seem to be counseling to go in the direct opposite of what current creative writing principles counsel. You seem to want the OP to tell rather than show--with show being letting the reader get engaged through discovering characterization and motives her/himself through the action described and the dialogue interaction.

    But, yes, it's "excerpt" rather than "exert."

  5. #5
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    Alison. Hi.

    In this brief passage, you've introduced 7 or 8 characters. That makes it hard to follow. Maybe it's easier reading from the very beginning, but I wonder if you need to introduce so many characters in such a short span. It could be confusing and doesn't give you enough time to differentiate much between them. Just a thought.

    Good luck!!!

  6. #6
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    Now, I remember why I left this forum for a year.

    I am not telling her to tell rather than to show. I am telling her that dialogue cannot carry the scene by itself. She has no description of the wormhole or the void. She has no description of the alien world. She has no description of the appearance or dress of any of the characters. She needs to paint a picture by describing some of her surroundings.

    In addition, I was not portraying Star Trek or D&D characters as original to them. Instead, I was telling her to come up with a unique vision that belongs only to her rather than something that has been used many, many times before.

    Lea, is it your position that she should not strive for originality? Are you saying that using repetitive, unoriginal powers will impress an editor and make her manuscript stand out from the crowd? Which of her characters would you describe as "well defined" and therefore interesting?

    I didn't think her writing was terrible, but I did think there was room for improvement. Is your opinion different from that?

  7. #7
    Senior Member Lea Zalas's Avatar
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    I'm not getting argumentative with you Sam. Nor was this a personal attack, although I feel like your response is. But the amount of dialogue she has going is great - it beats having the narrator tell us what everyone is saying. And so many people say, "Now I remember why I left." Cliche. But if you have a problem here, you're going to have to work it out yourself, because starting a post with that, immediately makes people less willing to have a dialogue with you. But it does not hurt my feelings or make me feel bad.

    And don't ever suggest that I don't think a writer should strive for originality. But there are only so many ways to be telepathic, ignite flames, or use telekinesis. Now, if a writer can come up with a new way to do those - WOW!

    Also, don't put words in my post that aren't there. I SAID she needs to define her characters, because that is what will make their abilities unique, not the abilities themselves, because those are not unique in the world of writing. I DID NOT say that any of her characters were well defined - unless you can show me where I did say that. Try to help a member and look at the flack I get. Just back off. You have your opinion and I have mine, and Allison will have to decide for herself which helps her the best. Sheesh!

  8. #8
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    I'm not getting argumentative with you Sam. Nor was this a personal attack, although I feel like your response is
    I didn't leave this forum because I was being personally attacked. I left because it ceased to be any fun. It all became stuff like this.

    And don't ever suggest that I don't think a writer should strive for originality. But there are only so many ways to be telepathic, ignite flames, or use telekinesis. Now, if a writer can come up with a new way to do those - WOW!
    That is exactly my point. She doesn't have to ignite flames or use telekinesis. There are a thousand abilities that she could choose from. For example, instead of the ability to move things through mental power, how about the ability to read the inside of a book without opening the pages. In a spy novel, that ability could change the balance of power in the world. It's a unique ability that has seldom been explored in fiction.

    Try to help a member and look at the flack I get. Just back off. You have your opinion and I have mine, and Allison will have to decide for herself which helps her the best. Sheesh!
    Well duh! That's exactly how I felt. Try to help a member and see what I get.

    Actually, I agree with some of the things you said. I do think it is important to create enticing, well-defined characters. You know, it wouldn't kill you to agree with something I said.

    P.S.

    I came back to take out the "this is why I left" comment. Alas, too late.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Lea Zalas's Avatar
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    Some of us are fast. LOL

  10. #10
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    Thank you all for answering. Yeah, I messed up with 'excerpt.' Oops. I suppose I should clarify that these characters are the 'elite' of their people as far as powers are concerned. The Ammaris, which includes Mara and other Catanese, and the Protectors, which includes just Pearl in this section, don't have defined powers. Instead they have a large amount of Power which they can use to do a wide range of things, depending on what they are doing. Reading a book without opening it wouldn't help them restore the Ammaris temple, for example. Most people, though, don't have that amount of power and so their abilities are focused into only one or two things.

    However, I do agree that I need to describe them a little more. I don't think I mention what they are wearing at all. They are around for the rest of the book, so I think they get better defined as it goes on, but I will check that and fix it if I need to.

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